Bird's Eye View: 5 Instances That Cursed the Baltimore Orioles
For the last 14 years, we've seen the Baltimore Orioles and their fans going through a roller coaster of emotions. Fans remember the "Mother's Day Massacre", the game in 2007 when the Orioles led the Boston Red Sox 5-0 in Boston heading into the bottom of the ninth, only to allow six runs to score in that inning.
Then again, there's "The Washout" of 2009. After a 71 minute rain delay, the Birds overcame a nine-run deficit against that same BoSox team, scoring five runs in both the seventh and eighth innings, to win 11-10, the biggest comeback in franchise history.
It sounds like a long time since the celebratory moments in the franchise seemed routine, instead of sporadic. In 1997, Orioles baseball sounded like an extravaganza; in 2011, it's become nothing more than a dreadful five-month prelude to football season. With the grumblings going on since 1998, it's time to find the root of the problem around that time frame.
So, here's the list the five moments that might have "cursed" Baltimore's beloved ballclub.
5. Supply and Expand
With the MLB expansion draft of 1998, all MLB teams had to give up their players to the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The Devil Rays—er, Rays—have been a thorn in Baltimore's side since 1998.
From 1998 until 2007, finishing one place above above Tampa Bay in the AL East standings was the cellar. Now, since 2008, the Rays are winning big with a mixture of how the O's of the 60s, 70s and 80s did it: the farm system.
The slight difference between O's and Rays fans is that the fans of Baltimore bat an eye whether their team is winning or not.
4. They Are Off the Market
Of course, we know that the Yankees and Red Sox are seemingly always in bidding wars to bolster their roster. But, some forget that the O's brought in Roberto Alomar, B.J Surhoff and Rafael Palmeiro (getting hugged here with Brady Anderson) to get them into the 1996 and 1997 postseasons.
It seems rather frustrating that the Birds seemed to reintroduce this trend of signing big stars to boost morale and contend for a World Series. The Bombers added five World Series between 1996 and 2009, and the Red Sox "reversed the curse" in 2004 and 2007.
While O's fans would cry foul (no pun intended) that their nemeses used outrageous antics to win titles (steroid allegations, stealing signs, fooling umpires, etc.), it seems that it would be nice for the Birds to get some favorable mentions once in a while.
3. Angelos and Demons
Well, some people tend to forget that if Peter Angelos hadn't bought the O's in bankruptcy court during the 1990s, the O's might have been gone, even after the bill passed to build Camden Yards.
Baltimore would have become nothing more than a pit stop between New York and D.C., just as it was in the early 1950s. Nevertheless, Angelos has made O's fans summers a living hell for a few reasons: he's very reclusive and only sees the O's as an asset.
Between 1998 and 2011, the Orioles had seven managers—three of them lasted more than two full seasons. When Angelos releases the reins though, O's fans will see who keeps the Orioles in Baltimore...and maybe give a damn about them, too.
2. John Denver
This might be the biggest bombshell—or headscratcher—on the list. One of John Denver’s biggest hits, "Thank God, I'm A Country Boy" has been a seventh-inning stretch staple at Oriole games since the mid-1970s, setting the tone for all MLB teams to play a song like “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
Denver, himself, actually attended a few O's games to perform "Country Boy" live. Sadly, Mr. Denver perished in a plane crash on October 12, 1997; coincidentally, it was the last day the Orioles won a playoff game.
1. "Political Ornithological Correctness"
In other words, the Orioles logo.
Since 1998, when the Oriole bird's eye changed from a dotted eye to a full-on iris, the team has slumped. So, how do should they fix it? With a bit of change.
When a team goes through a slump, it seems that a drastic change to the franchise (logos, colors, names, etc.,) will transform them from pretenders to contenders.
Look at the Ravens, for example:
The Ravens in their first three years of existence were 16-31-1, with the cross shield as their main identity. Due to copyright infringement, however, the Ravens were forced to change their logo to a raven's head, the logo most fans are familiar with today. Baltimore’s football birds went 30-18 in the same time span with two playoff appearances and a Super Bowl title in 2000.
Another example is the Devil Rays, who in 2007, finished dead last with 96 losses; the next year, they changed from dark green to columbia blue, dropped the "Devil" and won 97 games and the AL pennant.
Or, what about the 1988 Orioles, who finished the season with 107 losses, including dropping the first 21 straight games of the season. In 1989, the front office changed the logo, trading the smiling, cartoon bird for the ornithologically correct bird. That year, they won 87 games and were eliminated from playoff contention on the penultimate day of the 1989 season.
The Bottom Line
Whether it's becoming more aggressive in the scouting and free agency markets, a different man to oversee operations, possibly a different tune or maybe reverting back to the old uniforms, it seems the Orioles can only break away from this horrific jinx if they roll in some changes .