It’s that time of year again. Time for reflection. Time for regrouping. Time to start out the New Year on a positive. SO…….. how ’bout ‘dem 2012 O’s hun? It only took 22 years for this O’s fan to get that “old school – down to the bone chilling – orange and black – Orioles Magic,” feeling back into my soul. And it felt good. The town was energized, young Oriole fans finally experienced a Baltimore Orioles summer, many Oriole fans cleared off the cobwebs and the hard core Oriole fans were revived. It had ”Been Such a Longtime” – Boston. That was a nice touch by the way, from the Camden Yards Audio/visual folks, playing that song at the park at the end of the season.
1989 – the “Why Not” – year. 2012 – the “We’re Not Giving Up” year. Early season perception of those two years: 1989 – the Orioles seemingly on a downward spiral, especially after the 0 – 21 start and 54-107 1988 season. 2012 – the Orioles below .500 since 1997 and ranked 28th out of 30 teams in the Power rankings. So naturally, what has become an annual tradition, I went out and bought an Orioles gaming ticket for them to win the World Series, this year at 125 to 1. Sadly, couldn’t cash in. Happy, probably won’t see those odds again anytime soon.
Remember1989? Frank Robinson was manager. Rex Barney at…………..Memorial Stadium! HTS with Mel Proctor and John Lowenstein (my favorite Orioles TV team) and Jon Miller/Joe Angel on the radio. Besides Brady and Cal, how about names like Randy Milligan, Joe Orsulak, Jim Traber, Bob Milacki, Kevin Hickey, Gregg ‘the otter” Olson? Come on, hit me up with some more. Dig deep into the memory bank. This year was that same kind of year. Some big names with (at times) an unfamiliar supporting cast, ”stepping up to the plate”, becoming a team and surprising everyone!
Yes, there was 1996 and 1997 – but come on O’s fans – give credit where credit is due – Angelos did actually go out and try and buy it. The talent was retained with high price tags. They were expected to win. They were expected to participate with the 75% of the players that were “juicy juiced enhanced” at the time (whoops that last one slipped). It had been 12 years and no World Series appearance. Management made a move. Those two years came and went. Now, it has been 29 years since a World Series appearance. But this time, it is a more welcomed, different approach.
Since it is the New Year and I would like to stay as positive as long as I can (which means until the harsh reality of work tomorrow), let me offer my top 5 moments/games of this past season:
5. Opening Day – Friday 4/6/12, win 4-2 over the Twins. It was Opening Day, need I say more? The Cartoon Bird was back! It was the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards and the place is still immaculate. Partly due to annual renovations at the stadium, this year in particular – new lower concourse floor, lower field wall in right, Batters Eye Pub in centerfield, the soon to be (at the time) Monument Plaza out in left, etc. Then there was the Opening Day Ceremony pageantry, then the game, then……… Nick Markakis (Future Hall of Famer) – smacking a home run in his first at-bat, on his first swing, after coming back from injury. Play Ball!
4. Sunday 4/29/12, win bottom of the ninth, 5-2 over the Oakland A’s at the Yard. O’s trailing the whole game, went into the ninth down 2-0, Bartolo Colon going for complete game. Weiters a 2-run double and then Wilson Betemit crushed a walk-off 3-run homer. They had won 6 out of 7 and you could feel the tide-a-changing. Little did we know, that game was just a glimpse of what was to come the rest of the year.
3. Saturday 7/14/12, Jim Palmer Statue day at the Yard, win in extra innings (13), 8-6 over the Tigers. Taylor Teagarden. Say it again, Taylor Teagarden – just a cool name – hit a game winning 3-run homer. This was AFTER the Birds had squandered a 4-1 lead in the 9th – the Tigers tied it. The Tigers then went ahead in the 11th – the O’s tied it in the bottom. Then the Tigers went ahead again in the 13th – only to have Taylor Teagarden end it in the bottom. Another game to be added to “Classics of the Year”.
2. Friday 10/5/12, Wild Card play-in game, win 5-1 at Texas Rangers. Joe Saunders, Joe who? The chosen starting pitcher to potentially springboard the Orioles beyond that playoff albatross that has been looming since 1997. He was 0-6 at Texas stadium with like a 10.00 era – then BOOM – Dan Duquette/the Buck “stops here” Showalter – make another Classic move. O’s move on to play the Evil Empire.
1. Sunday 5/6/12, the Marathon (17 innings, 6 hours +), the “where were you when….” game, WIN 9-6 at Fenway! If I remember correctly, something about Chris Davis pitching and getting the win? No game recap here, just watch it on Orioles Classics (MASN). Here’s a little salt to pour in the wound for the Red Sox fans though, that game completed a weekend SWEEP!
“O” what a year. One heckuva roller coaster ride. The cool thing though………..meaningful baseball was back in Baltimore. They simply just never gave up. The future looks bright. I would advise on purchasing some Oriole shades. Who knows what lies ahead? Optimism for once, exists. I remember ’89, I have the VHS tape. I will always remember 2012, I will purchase the DVD. Orioles Magic – Summer of 2013. I’m feeling warm already. Happy New Year.