What were you doing on September 1, 1971, 41 years ago, if you were even on this Earth? I was starting 4th grade. Richard Nixon was president, there was no Apple or Microsoft, no cell phones. There was no cable TV, no internet, the Inner Harbor was a dump.
Not since 1971, when Johnny Unitas led the Colts to victory in Super Bowl V and Brooks, Frank, Boog, Jim, Elrod and the gang lost to Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and the Pirates in the World Series has Charm City had its two major league teams to make the postseason.
But after 41 years, we are once again on the brink here in Baltimore of both the Orioles and its Baltimore NFL team making the playoffs in the same year for the first time since 1971. Think about that…
Already, we are virtually assured of the first winning seasons in the same year for Baltimore’s baseball and football teams since…are you ready?…1977. That year, the O’s finished 2nd with 97 wins, but missed the playoffs as the wild card system had not begun. Bert Jones, Lydell Mitchell and the Colts had that heartbreaking sudden death loss at Memorial Stadium to Kenny Stabler, Dave Casper and the Raiders in the first round of the AFC playofffs.
As of today, the surprising and resilient Orioles sit 3 games behind the Yankees and would have one of the wild card slots if the season ended today. It seems that every move Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette have made has come up roses. Their starting pitching has come on strong. The bullpen is the best in baseball. They moved Mark Reynolds from 3rd, where he was a disaster, to 1st base, where he has played at a Gold Glove caliber. They even insert a 20 year old kid named Manny at 3rd base, and he plays like a seasoned veteran.
The Ravens won one playoff game in early 2012, and missed by a quarter second of reaching the Super Bowl. Under John Harbaugh’s reign, the Ravens are the only NFL team to win a playoff game the past 4 seasons.
It’s been 41 LONG years since we have had it so good. Enjoy it, savor it, because you never know when we might be in this position again. Who would have thought after the Orioles were eliminated in the World Series in October 1971 that it would be at least 41 years until we had two playoff teams in the same year? Growing up I thought it was just par for the course for both the Orioles and the Colts to be in the playoff hunt each year (not to mention the Bullets!) Who could have imagined then the demise and relocation of the Colts, to be followed 15 years later by 14 straight losing seasons by the Orioles?
This year’s Orioles has a lot of grit, heart, emerging superstars and talented roll players, lots of power, excellent defense up the middle, and has not lost a game yet it has led after 7 innings. I’m betting they grab one of the two wild card spots and reach the postseason for the first time in 15 years.
41 years…the time has come.