As the Major League Baseball playoffs kick off, I think back, longingly of course, to the year 1997. 1997 was a great year for me. I moved into my own apartment, dated the prettiest girl in the world, and broke up with her a month later, of course. And my Baltimore Orioles were the BEST team in baseball that year. Forget the fact that the Florida “freaking” Marlins won the World Series that year, the O’s were baseball’s most complete team.
A batting order that sported the likes of Robby Alomar, Rafael Palmeiro, Brady Anderson, Cal Ripken, etc. And a pitching staff that boasted future Hall of Famer Mike Mussina, Scott Erickson, Jimmy Key, and the man who shut the door, Randy Myers. Man, they were amazing. And I believe that, had Marquis Grissom not hit a 3-run homer off of Armando Benitez in Game 2 of the ALCS, the Birds would have swept that series, and went on to down the Marlins in 5 games to capture their fourth World Series Championship.
Now don’t get me wrong. I remember 1983, and what a magical year that was. But 1997 was a year that we all believed that it was finally, Our Year. The Ravens were new and weren’t very good yet, even though I attended all 8 games at beautiful Memorial Stadium that year. But this was still a baseball town then. The Orioles still had the upper hand, and is seemed as though, it would be that way for a long time to come. Then, King Peter began his Era of Arrogance. It started with Davey Johnson and Jon Miller. It continued with puppet manager Ray Miller. Syd Thrift turned into an absolute embarrassment. And the proverbial snowball began rolling downhill. And everything unraveled. How nice would it have been to add a Brian Roberts or a Nick Markakis to that 1997 team in the years to follow. Pie in the sky, I know, but you can’t help but wonder.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again….I love my Orioles, but I love them a little less with each passing season. Especially when I look back at the 1997 season, and remember what a magical year that was. I only hope we can experience that again in my lifetime…but we’ll see.