Quite simply last night was the greatest baseball experience of my life. Last night was a reminder about how baseball can be the world’s greatest game. There is no running out the clock or keeping the ball or puck out of you opponent’s hands, no in baseball you have to give the other team a chance to win and as long as you have a strike to give, you are still alive. The Orioles and the Rays last night proved this last night n doing so created an environment that will be hard to beat.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather the Orioles be playing over the next few weeks and I’m certainly not oblivions to the Orioles current plight. But for one night last night we were on top of the world and for one night I was able to remember exactly how it felt to be elated over baseball.
I normally don’t take pleasure in other people’s misery. I don’t really hate Red sox fans since hatred is such a strong feeling that it should be reserved for someone who does or would like to do heinous things to you or your family and friends. But in a “sports hate” kind of way, I hate Red Sox fans. As Keith Mills on 98 Rock said this morning, Red Sox fans are the people who “Not only come into your house, they sit back on your lounge chair, throw their feet up, and grab your remote.”
Basically they have no respect for anyone at Camden Yards and have this entitlement about them that makes you just want to explode. I have no problem with anyone cheering for their teams, but the “Let’s go Red Sox” chants after every single good thing that occurs for their team is about as obnoxious as it gets.
Last night though things were different. Every time they started those chants they were quickly drowned out by boos and “Let’s go Orioles” chants. I was proud to be an O’s fan last night as we never gave in, just like the Orioles themselves.
Even the rain delay last night ended up exciting as the Rays mounted their comebacks. We went from let’s make the Red Sox play tomorrow to, let’s send them home. There were a healthy dose of Red Sox fans around us as we sat underneath the upper decks a the rains fell, and they grew more and more silent and various people following the game on their smart phones started to cheer as the Rays kept inching closer and closer to what seemed to be an insurmountable Yankees lead.
When I looked down at my MLB 11 app and saw that Dan Johnson, down to his last strike, hit the game tying home run my friends and I cheered while quizzical people looked at us. I yell out, “Dan Johnson homered to tie the game, the O’s fans around us cheered and then more and more you could hear pockets of Orioles fans jumping up and cheering while the Red Sox fans slumped down in their seats.
When the game began, things didn’t look good when the Red Sox put men on 1st and 3rd with no outs in the 8th. So much so that my good friend John Domen, who had to be at work at 4 AM had to finally give up and go home. Who could blame him? But tonight, the baseball Gods, the same ones who have smited this organization and its fans for 14 years, had other plans.
Pedro Strop, who quickly has become a fan favorite and who really may become a great acquisition for this club, ended up working his way out of the jam with no runs scored and the Orioles kept it a one-run game.
The Red Sox fans behind me were cheering loudly when Papelbon came on in the 9th which made me turn around and say, “Papelbon threw 28-pitches last night. He’s never good the day after doing that.” I honestly had no idea if that was true or not but it made me feel better and it did kind of quiet them down. When Papelbon mowed down Adam Jones and Mark Reynolds, things were not looking good.
All game I had been telling the guys around me that the Orioles were going to win this game and Chris Davis was going to be part of the comeback. John kept saying it was going to be Nolan Reimold. Thankfully, we were both right. Davis doubled down the line bringing up Reimold who tied the game with his double to right-center.
By this point we were cheering so hard and high-fiving so much that I was pretty sure I had fractured a few more ribs (I fractured my rib in a motorcycle accident on Saturday). It was worth it though and as I paced back and forth as Andino dug in, I just knew that somehow the Orioles could pull this off. Sure enough, Andino’s liner to left fell in front of the ridiculously over paid Carl Crawford and Reimold came in with the game winning run. More rib busting high fives, hugs, and general screaming, we had done it! Three minutes late the jumbotron lit up with Evan Longoria’s game winning home run and the crowd erupted again. The Red Sox would be having the same long vacation as the Orioles despite their bloated payroll.
It didn’t matter that the Orioles had finished in dead last again or that they are no closer to competing then they were when we started the game, for this one night, it would be Orioles fans high-fiving their way back to their cars with random strangers. It was the Orioles fans yelling, “Let’s go Orioles” as they exited the Yard.
It was an exhilarating night and it will be a night I will never forget. I was lucky enough to share it with some great guys from John, to my friend Troy, to Brian (better known as Dipper9, even though he left during the rain delay), my friend Wally from my baseball team, a great guy who I gave a free ticket to and who said he hangs out at Camden Chat (sorry, I never did get his name) and best of all with my son Michael, who watches every game, every night and who can personally drown out a “Let’s go Red Sox” chant.
For one night we were all just rabid Orioles fans and we cheered and jeered our hearts out all night.
As I walked out, I overheard this one statement, “That’s the way it used to be.”
I’m going to enjoy this for a few days before I let reality sit back in, because for one special night, I felt like a fan of championship baseball team.
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Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.