All of these wins and hours of scoreboard watching for fans of the Baltimore Orioles – and finally – tonight the city will fill Camden Yards with the “magic” that only a Cal Ripken event can exert for the Charm City.
Alas, no scriptwriter in Hollywood or even a “Major League” movie redux could’ve dreamed up the juiciness that this unexpected Baltimore Orioles pennant run has facilitated this weekend.
Last week, the stands were empty as the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox came to town.
This weekend, with the New York Yankees on the ropes and the Orioles surging and trailing the Evil Empire by just one game in the AL East, Camden Yards will be buzzing with orange energy for the first time in eight years despite the “premium pricing” methods of Peter Angelos’ staff.
In the land of pleasant living, we call it “Orioles Magic.” Berthed in 1979 under Wild Bill Hagy with Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Rick Dempsey and Earl Weaver, brought to life by a World Series win in 1983 and resurrected duing the “Why Not?” campaign of 1989, the city’s enthusiasm and genuine love for the Baltimore Orioles has been dormant for the better part of 15 years at Camden Yards under the weight of last place and its own evil ownership regime.
But tonight none of that will matter because the Orioles can beat the Yankees and go back into first place in September.
Hard to believe it was 17 years ago tonight that Cal Ripken ran his victory lap amidst the confetti and “One Moment In Time.”
And make no mistake about it, a statue ceremony and a fancy giveaway item would’ve brought plenty of people to Camden Yards tonight no matter the record of the 2012 Orioles.
But what we’re going to witness – or in my case, be a part of – tonight should truly be “magical” for any longtime fan of the Baltimore Orioles.
Despite falling out of first place with last night’s loss in Toronto combined with a Yankees win in Tampa, tonight’s game once again has first place on the line and the 46,000 who are holders of these lucky tickets should be expected to bring full O-R-I-O-L-E-S voices tonight as Camden Yards should erupt with sound where previously it’s been a bunch of excuses and reasons for why the seats are empty.
I’m going to the game tonight. And, yes, I bought a ticket.
Other than “Free The Birds” events, it’s the first ticket I’ve purchased since 2004.
It’s worth going tonight to feel the civic energy and I’ll be bellied up to the centerfield bar soaking in the energy and enthusiasm that I wrote about in 2006 when WNST led the “Free The Birds” movement.
And in as much as some have twisted my words, I’ve never wanted anything more than what we currently have in Baltimore – a relevant baseball team that brings together the community for a common cause.
I’m not sure some fans are really prepared emotionally for what tonight will look and feel like inside Camden Yards.
Internally, many of the longtime employees certainly couldn’t have had any fire drills for this. And the players on the field – Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, the core guys who have only seen the stands full of Yankees or Red Sox fans over the years – should especially soak in the noise tonight because they’ve earned the right to Baltimore’s cheers with their solid play and the excitement they’ve filled our living rooms with this summer.
I think even Derek Jeter will be taken aback because he hasn’t seen anything like this since 1997. Usually, it’s 40,000 Yankees fans beating on the home team.
It won’t be that way tonight.
This is the Baltimore Orioles chance – players, coaches, employees and ownership alike – to drastically move the needle on the fan