Baseball, more than any other sport, is a game where statistics matter. But for 42,704 fans and one “can’t miss” prospect making his Major League debut, statistics didn’t matter.
ESPN, MLB Network, Fox and numerous other stations all turned out to get a glimpse of the prospect they had been hearing so much about. Those were the same people that just a week prior, were using words like bad, retched and hopeless to describe this franchise.
For the first time since 1995 a Baltimore Oriole was the focus of sports fans everywhere and the focus of Orioles fans who now have another story to tell for the rest of their lives.
The announcement of Wieters arrival on Tuesday night sparked a 15,000 person increase in ticket sales which is more people then attended each of the previous three games.
Matt Wieters gave the Orioles a home field advantage that they have not since Opening Day and everyone, including the players, realized the importance of the night.
Wieters failed to deliver a hit in his first game in an Orioles uniform, to a disenchanted fan base and an organization that has become the laughing stock of the league he gave them everything they asked for.
Matt Wieters delivered to all of those kids who never got to root for an icon like Cal Ripken. He delivered to the fathers that used to regale their sons with tales of the glory days and swore that the Orioles would once again be relevant in their lifetime.
He delivered to my generation, a generation, that have seen nothing but losing baseball for the last half of our lives. He delivered to those who grew up with Brooks and Eddie and Boog. He delivered to his teammates who played with an energy that I have not seen from this team in years.
Most importantly he delivered to a city that had suffered through 11 straight losing seasons, holding on to the hope that change is on the horizon.
Matt Wieters’ debut might have been one of the most significant days in the history of this illustrious franchise.
Because of Matt Wieters, 42,000 fans got to watch Luke Scott hit his first career grandslam on his way to a 2 homer, 5 rbi night. They got to see a young pitcher pitch the longest outing of his short Major League career. They watched Adam Jones show why he is a star in the making.
But more importantly, they watched the Orioles franchise turn the corner right before their very eyes.
As the near capacity crowd filed out onto Eutaw Street after a 7-2 Orioles win, they should all realize what they experienced. This was more than a Friday night fireworks night against the Detroit Tigers.
This was a night, thanks to Matt Wieters, that the Orioles were once again relevant. For one night the Orioles were once again the focus of Baltimore.
The storybook scenario would have been for Wieters to go 4-4 and slide into home where he would be mobbed by his teammates after hitting a walk off home run. But for Orioles fans, just seeing him step in the batter’s box with Orioles across his chest was storybook enough.
Matt Wieters failed to produce a hit in his first major league game, but he produced so much more.
He produced hope for a city and a franchise that has been longing it for years.
Now that was a successful debut.