and it wasn’t really that close.
And last time I checked, having LOST those series 4-1 and 4-2 assures me that I saw it a little more accurately.
The Orioles stunk in those two ALCS after dazzling in the previous rounds.
That’s a painful thing for a sports fan — or for an owner — stinking when it counts the most and especially after proving over 162 games you were the BEST team.
But that’s what the postseason is all about, right?
It’s been a decade since they’ve played a meaningful game (there will clearly be more if you have a crystal ball, and unless we do something about it at The Rally on Sept. 21), and Camden Yards has been — despite its unquestioned impact on architecture across the country and its economic impact for downtown Baltimore — a tremendous “dud” for Baltimore as a temple for celebration when you compare it to its predecessor, Memorial Stadium.
But the Orioles’ 15-year run of disappointment downtown would be bad for any stadium in any sport, really.
And pain, in the baseball fan way, is not a cornerstone for selling tickets and making memories or creating traditions — unless you happen to be a Cubs fan.
But let’s just cut through all of the prose and B.S.: after 15 years we can probably count most of the cool, bedrock type of memories at Oriole Park on one hand.
Aside from all of MLB’s pomp and circumstance regarding Cal Ripken’s chase of Lou Gerhig in September 1995 — and the season-long event certainly had its treasured moments — the late-inning homers that week he chased the record, the actual “Immortal Cal jog” around the stadium to “One Moment In Time” and the teammates pushing him toward that.
Even though the team basically stunk in 1995, that Ripken thing was OLD SCHOOL “Oriole Magic” right there. And in light of what had transpired with the fans and fan reaction in most cities by the 1994 strike and the subsequent cancellation of the World Series that fall, it was a quick, much-needed tonic for baseball during its darkest period of my lifetime.
But even THAT momentous occasion was sullied by a memorably long and diarraheal (is that a even word?) speech given by Peter Angelos that night. It was probably the supernova-explosive first sign that the fans would be gathering on Sept. 21 of this year or at least at some point to demand a new ownership group or leader.
It was, for sure in retrospect, that “HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM!” kind of occasion.
It would the be first image in what would become tough times for Angelos and his good name in this great city over the next 11 years. It was the moment of conception in the birthing process of the death of the Orioles as we know them.
In “web-onics” or internet parlance, it was the moment the Orioles “jumped the shark!”
And it happened right there with Cal on the field on the biggest night of his life (and no, Cooperstown’s introduction will NOT have the same impact as Sept. 6, 1995 did…no way!).
But there was some Oriole Magic dust in the air that warm summer evening as well.
A full house, not including the people who greased ushers and sat in the aisles all over the upper deck. Free Willy draped from the scoreboard! (I wonder if that dude ever went to jail?) Electricity was all over the city for weeks if not months leading up to the big game.
Obtaining tickets was a sell-your-kids-to-the-gypsies kinda expensive. The Fan Fast buzzed for five days at the Convention Center. The Home Run Derby was must-see TV for everyone in the state. The downtown gala at the Maryland Science Center was amazing.
(On a personal note, I bumped into Geddy Lee, the bass player for my all-time favorite band, Rush, that night at a veggie buffet and talked baseball with him for a half an hour. I didn’t even realize he would be singing the Canadian National Anthem for the game. Needless to say, that having probably my favorite all-time musician appearing at the only All-Star Game we might ever see in Baltimore in my lifetime was pretty sweet!)
Kirby Puckett was the star. Mike Mussina was the lamb. Cito Gaston was the goat. And the people of Baltimore rose their voices to Toronto’s hated Gaston in the bottom of the ninth in a fashion that we can only hope