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04-28-2012 02:14 PM #1
The worst part of being an O's fan
A little over a year ago, I was sitting in Camden Yards, a little up the third base line from home plate, about ten rows back. Zach Britton was pitching to some hitter from a team that didn't matter. The hitter grounded one to second base, Brian Roberts gloved it, flipped to Derrek Lee at first, and the Orioles rushed out of the dugout to celebrate. I turned to my dad and said "They finally did it." He said "Happy birthday, Dan." The Orioles haven't played a game on my birthday (October 7) since 1983, nine years before I was born.
That was how I knew I was dreaming. I woke up a while after. It was April 3, 2011, and I'd had a bit to drink the night before while watching the Orioles play the Rays in the second game of the year. If you don't remember, that was the one where Tillman threw six no-hit innings, Roberts hit a three-run HR in the eighth, and Markakis robbed Ben Zobrist of what would have been a walk-off homer for the final out of the game. The win made the Orioles 2-0 on the year, and I was starting to actually believe that maybe this was the year.
Every year in April I let myself believe that this is the year. Most of the time, my dreams are crushed fairly quickly. In 2010, the Orioles never approached .500 after a disastrous 2-16 start. The '09 rendition briefly flirted with respectability before quickly sinking. In '08, there was no real playoff chase, but they managed to keep their heads above water as late as the Fourth of July, and struggled mightily to get back there, getting as close as 61-63 before ultimately drowning under a 7-20 finishing stretch. The same basic story goes back as long as I've been a fan, with one notable exception that I'll get to later.
But 2011 felt different. The team, rather than folding like a card table in August and September, as per the narrative, had performed outstandingly once Buck Showalter had taken the helm. There were new additions, not the Garrett Atkinses and Adam Eatons and Rich Hills of years past, but Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero. They were Guys You've Heard Of, they were guys who could hit and add something to the middle of the order. It was the year of the Cavalry, the year Matusz, Tillman, Britton, and Arrieta matured into the major league pitchers I knew they would become. And it was supposed to be the year Matt Wieters unleashed hellfire on the American League. On the morning of April 3rd, it was two games in, but already I was believing. When I had that dream and then woke up, I knew it wasn't true, but I thought maybe it could be.
Of course, it wasn't. After a 6-1 start, they lost eight straight, and never sniffed any kind of playoff contention of their own. Lee and Guerrero flopped, Matusz imploded, Tillman struggled, Britton was unspectacular, Arrieta was shut down with an elbow injury after middling results. Wieters matured into one of the best catchers in the game, but it wasn't quite hellfire. The Orioles were, as they had been since I moved to Baltimore in 1999, a Bad Baseball Team.
And it stung, a familiar sting that I'd felt before. Not the losing. I could deal with losing, I'd dealt with it every year. But in 2011, I really, truly believed that it was the Orioles' year. I'd only believed to that extent once before. 2005.
June 19, 2005, I went to a game at Camden Yards. It was packed. Announced attendance according to BR was nearly 46,000. I'd never seen it so full for a non-Yankees/Red Sox, non-Opening Day game. I still haven't since. That day, Hayden Penn and the Orioles beat Jeff Francis and the Rockies, 4-2, on a Rafael Palmeiro home run in the sixth inning. The win took the Orioles to 41-27 and three games up in the AL East. I remember walking out of the park that day feeling incredibly happy, knowing that this was our year, and if we didn't win the division, we'd probably get the wild card, and we'd be playing playoff baseball again in Baltimore.
Obviously that didn't happen. I don't want to go into all the details of the last three months of that year, but if I can sum it up in one game, it'd be the one on July 30. Under two weeks before, the Orioles had been half a game out of first, with a 50-42 record. Going into the game with the White Sox that night, they were 51-51, six games back. But I still believed. The AL East was tough, but this was our year. It had to be. They'd been so good for three months, how could they be this bad? And that night, as AJ Pierzynski homered off my favorite Oriole at the time, Chris Ray, and right afterwards, Jermaine Dye followed with another homer, it hit me right in the pit of my stomach: the 2005 Baltimore Orioles were just another Bad Baseball Team.
I haven't forgotten how it felt that night. Worse than 30-3, worse than Mother's Day, worse than anything that I've felt as a baseball fan. And it's still the worst part of being an O's fan. Because even when the team is doing well, like they are now, it's hard to enjoy it, because I know how long the season is. I know that at some point they'll slip up, and the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, maybe the Blue Jays will be there to pass them when they do. Success is only temporary, and every loss might be the one that starts the slide.
I haven't had playoff dreams yet. And I don't want to. Not because I don't want the team to win, but because I don't want that 2005 feeling again, that feeling when I realize that they're really not good, that it was just a lie the whole time.
04-28-2012 02:22 PM #2
04-28-2012 02:38 PM #3
Someday, my friend...someday...
Til then just enjoy baseball season for what its worth...nothing better than kicking back with a beer, some good friends and good food and watching Orioles baseball....whether they're winning or not.
04-28-2012 02:51 PM #4
I had another paragraph written about how it doesn't matter if they win or not, I'll still love them, and nothing beats watching them play even when they lose, and I want them to win more than just about anything, but I couldn't figure out where to fit it in and I thought it clashed with the tone a bit.
04-28-2012 02:53 PM #5
My theory has always been, that if we are to dream, the flatteries of hope are as cheap, and pleasanter, than the gloom of despair. - Thomas Jefferson
Don't lose hope.
04-28-2012 03:11 PM #6
It will come. It has to. Don't give up!
04-28-2012 04:54 PM #7
Thanks for sharing that eb45. I had that feeling when the 3rd base coach held Davis at 3rd yesterday. Of course, a double play had to follow. That feeling of her we go again, not just for that game, but here we go, another losing season feeling came sinking it. I must have been sitting in the wrong section because it seemed as if more fans were into rooting for the fan that ran on the field than they were cheering for the O’s.
Hopefully, Chen will pitch the Os’ to a great win today and the bats can actually do something. I’ll be at the yard again in the rain, hoping and wishing today will end up in a win and this season will be different than others.
One year right..hopefully it will come sooner than later.
04-29-2012 08:25 AM #8Released Released
- Join Date
- Jan 2012
I have been an Orioles fan for many, many years. I have seen the team win and lose; World Series victories, consecutive winning seasons, playoff appearances, multiple players in the all star game, and 0-21, 30 to 3, consecurive losing seasons, 107 losses in one season, consecutive last place finishes.
Some of my best memories and most joyous moments as a fan had nothing to do with them winning, and some were when they came up short. The 1989 season was my favorite. The 1982 stretch run when they came up just short against Milwaukee, Bordicks consecutive errorless streak, opening day 1982 and Cal's first home run, opening day 1989 when they shocked the Red Sox, September 28, 2011 when they shocked the Red Sox again, Cal's 400th home run, Eddie Murray's
500th, many more.
This is the greatest game ever invented and the Orioles have given their fans many great moments over the course of this proud, and mostly successful franchise. Do I want them to go to post season and win the World Series again, more than one; you're damn right I do, more than anything in the world. But in the meantime I'm going to enjoy this game, and this team, and victories like last night's impressive win.
Stop whining and appreciate what you have. This isn't the NFL with it's phony, contrived artificial sense of competition where the system is rigged before the season starts with bad teams getting easier schedules, and rosters torn down through the compensation system to assure that good teams can't keep too many of their better players, and championship games are set up as single elimination, with almost half the teams going to the playoffs, then the playoffs being promoted as some sort of accomplishment and mark of a good team. The NFL is designed to keep stupid people interested for as long as possible, and is a metaphor for the dumbing down of America.
You have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to appreciate. Get on with the business of doing it, and apply that attitude to the rest of your life. You'll be a better and more successful person for it.
Last edited by Hang10; 04-29-2012 at 08:27 AM.
04-29-2012 08:38 AM #9