It was a fun weekend to be a real Orioles fan. The kind where the joy of baseball, if it’s ever mattered in your life at any point, comes back in a rush. Sure, all of the steroids and losing and empty nights at Camden Yards have taken their toll over the past 12 years, but the Orioles finally can say they are in the business of “selling hope.”
You know why? Because, this time, the fans actually believe in Matt Wieters and what the Orioles are selling.
How do I know? Because they announced the three-game crowd this weekend at 108,000 people and for once it didn’t look like they were padding their numbers.
The Orioles are selling hope. The Orioles are selling youth. The best minds in baseball say they’re on the right path. The fans are buying the hype and – for the first time – the tickets to the games.
People dropped everything and ran to the ballpark this weekend to see the orange Messiah in person.
Yes, it was a fun weekend despite the gruesome pair of losses on Saturday and Sunday (not to mention any flaming criticism of manager Dave Trembley, who befuddles many of us on a day-to-day basis with his decisions). Friday’s night’s rainbow, spirited crowd and big victory made for a rare memorable night at Camden Yards.
The Orioles are off to the West Coast for the week. They’ll play well into the night. Will Matt Wieters matter to you on Wednesday night around midnight in the sixth inning?
We’ll see. Will you be chasing him around all summer and following the box scores or the live game action to monitor his progess? Again, we’ll see.
But for one weekend – successful or not – a kid named Matt Wieters gripped the city’s water cooler talk and created a stir downtown with traffic, cheers and thousands of people reacquainting with their orange laundry. Whether he lives up to the hype and whether the Orioles will ever win because of it remains to be seen.
But right now, that doesn’t really matter. Matt Wieters – he will be referred to as Matt Messiah in this space from this point forward – represents hope in the form of a 6-foot-5 switch hitting catcher from Charleston, S.C.
But with this kind of an introduction this can only go one of two ways: very well or very poorly.
Time will tell. He’ll either hit .300 and become a stalwart, franchise rock or he’ll be a .260 hitter and continue the disappointment of what’s left of the Orioles diminished fan base (see McDonald, Ben; Dauer, Rich; Bonner, Bob; Fuller, Jim; among many, many others who didn’t pan out as superstars and Hall of Famers).
But for now, as the Orioles begin June of 2009 in their 12th year of ineptitude and are again mired in sole possession of last place, even though he only went 2-for-11 in his weekend debut at home amidst the sea of flashbulbs and media hype, Matt Messiah will be given the benefit of the doubt.
At least that’s the way I feel.
What’s good for Matt Messiah is good for Baltimore.
The whole city needs this kid to be the real deal.