Baltimore Orioles: What It Means to See the Birds Contending into September
Do you remember where you were when Roberto Alomar struck out looking in game six of the 1997 ALCS?
I was in my dorm room at the University of Alabama tearing the place apart at such an obviously bad call by the umpire.
After calming myself I felt a little reassurance in the fact that I believed the Orioles would be back contending in 1998.
Little did I know, actually, little did any of us know that when Alomar was called out that it was just the beginning of the end.
It was only the beginning of a very long and painful stretch of over 14 years of bad baseball.
Yes, there was that glorious final year where we got the fortune to see Cal Ripken Jr. in an O's uniform one last time, but for the most part it has been a dreadful stretch.
A stretch that has made me at times forget the Orioles even existed.
It made me forget those glorious afternoons of sitting in the left field bleacher on 33rd street with my brother and leading cheers to get Ricky Henderson to flip us the bird. I almost lost track of my heroes like Eddie Murray, Mike Deveraux, Elrod Hendricks, and Greg Olson's ridiculous curve ball.
The magic of Orioles baseball was gone.
Then 2012 happened.
Yes, it was another great start for Baltimore, but that too is something we have seen numerous times only to be smacked back to reality when the birds nose dive back to the basement of the American League East.
Something is different this time around.
Something has stuck.
Here we are just days away from September and barring a collapse of epic proportions our beloved Baltimore Orioles are contending for a spot at the post season table.
We have current stars like Adam Jones and Matt Weiters to go along with budding prospects like Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy.
There's a manager in the dugout in Buck Showalter who seems to be three steps ahead of everyone.
What does it all mean to an Orioles' fan?
It's starting to make up for every time I've watched the birds play at Oriole Park and have seen more opposing fans there than citizens of birdland.
I'm beginning to suffer with an irrational and unhealthy craving for Esskay Franks and souvenir cups from Camden Yards.
Finally for us Oriole fans we have found something new to cheer about rather than sitting on memories of "the streak", wishing we'd celebrated more in 1983, and harboring psychopathic rage towards a child who stuck his glove out when he shouldn't have back in 1996 leading to ridiculously awful call and causing the faithful of birdland much distress and, well, you get the point.
The future is as bright as I can remember for baseball in "Charm City" and while the birds are still under the ownership of Peter Angelos, I can't help but feel optimistic in spite of that.
It's been nearly 15 years since I've watched meaningful Orioles' baseball this late into the season and it warms my heart.
Like many, I am cheering the start of football season. But like a lot of my orange and black clad brethren I am making the pigskin take a backseat to the birds.
It's "why not 2012."
It's Orioles' magic. Feel it happen O-R-I-O-L-E-S!
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