This one won’t be quite as long as some of my other Monday columns. So you’ve got that going for you. (Which is nice.)
Thursday, April 5 was “Opening Day Eve” for the Baltimore Orioles in 2012. Like so many years before, the moment wasn’t marked with such excitement in Charm City, but more a reminder of what “hadn’t been” for a franchise over the better part of two decades.
To reflect those emotions, a number of O’s fans planned to join WNST for a Candlelight Vigil that night downtown near the Brooks Robinson statue. We had hoped to make the event a bit larger, but like so many events related to the Birds in the years leading up to that night we were unable to garner any much emotion from area baseball fans other than indifference.
As I was wrapping up “The Reality Check” that afternoon on AM1570 WNST.net, I played a clip from Orioles OF Adam Jones recorded at a media workout that day. I was preparing for a regular Thursday segment called “Free Advice” and got a bit worked up when I heard the All-Star label a group of Orioles fans as “fools” (I was much more willing to dismiss his insinuation that Opening Day was a “shitshow”). I would re-live all of the details, but Luke Jones put them all together quite nicely that night.
A lot of Orioles fans were angry with me for going toe-to-toe with the would-be MVP candidate, despite the fact that I did so on behalf of…well…Orioles fans. I haven’t felt much of a need to write about the issue in detail, mostly because Adam Jones apologized quickly both privately in a text message exchange with me that night and publicly via Twitter. It ultimately left me with a bit of a newfound respect for the man who patrols Center Field.
Moreover, I never felt the need to write about the issue at length because the emotions of that Opening Day Eve changed so quickly over the course of the coming weeks and months.
I will admit openly to being a fan of the perhaps cheesy Denver folk band The Lumineers. They have a hit song in rotation now called “Stubborn Love” that includes the lyric “It’s better to feel pain than nothing at all. The opposite of love’s indifference.” It’s a play on a thought well known, the thought that the passion of love is more equal to the passion of hate or anger than it is contrary. Instead, the lack of passion (or emotion at all) in indifference is more diametric to love than anger.
The Orioles were finally able to remove themselves from the feelings of indifference from fans in 2012. They instead returned to the role of “Stubborn Love”, as emotions were strong throughout the campaign. When the Birds picked up one of their 16 extra inning wins, fans found themselves experiencing a level of pandemonium, even a level of “Orange Fever.” When Dan Duquette and company made a move fans questioned (like trading for veteran DH Jim Thome or P Joe Saunders or failing to acquire a bigger name available player before the trade deadline), the emotion in response was anger instead of indifference.
I finally sat down and watched “BUCKle Up Birds” Sunday night, the Orioles’ 2012 season highlight video. It was fun to remember how much emotion was involved each and every night of the baseball season. It was the first season since the arrival of social media-or even since the internet became prominent-that we got to experience these things together as Orioles fans.
And on this Opening Day Eve 2013, the emotions are much different.
Perhaps we’re not going “all in” on the belief that the team is primed to make another run to a Wild Card appearance (I picked the Birds to finish third in the AL East Friday and finish right around .500), but we’re still legitimately excited about the start of baseball season. Not “saying we’re excited about baseball season because we like the chance to get together and drink on Opening Day but really we’re miserable because we know baseball season is going to suck again this year.”
I would have always expected a good crowd for our Opening Day event Friday at Pratt Street Ale House downtown, but this year I’m also excited for the number of future Thursday night and Friday afternoon events we have scheduled for away and home games respectively. It’s a feeling I’ve never felt before on Opening Day Eve in my adult life.
That’s all I’ve got this week. I’m sure I’ll be angry about something, I’m sure I’ll end up yelling and screaming at some point during the course of the week. But today I’m just grateful that Opening Day Eve feels like a legitimate celebration instead of cause for a candlelight vigil.
I’m grateful we don’t feel like fools this year…even if it is April 1. I hope it’s like that again next year.