It’s been a real weird time here in old “Charm City” for the last month or so. The Baltimore Orioles, who haven’t been to the playoffs or even had a winning season since 1997, have been nose-deep into a playoff run.
You all know by now that I’m Pittsburgh-born and bred, and a die-hard fan of all the Pittsburgh pro teams. But I also fully support the Orioles. Because the Pittsburgh Pirates are in the National League and the Orioles are in the American League, there’s no reason I can’t support both. The two teams pose no threat to each other. The only times I have to choose between them are the inter-league games they play every couple of years, or if they should meet in the World Series. (The latter would be considered a sign of the apocalypse. The Pirates haven’t had a winning season since 1992!)
I probably see five or six Orioles games every year. Camden Yards is a 15-minute walk from my office and 10 minutes from my subway stop. When you have a major league ballpark that close by, it would be a shame not to take in a few games. I usually do a post on them when I go, especially if I get some good pictures... or appear in good pictures. As you may remember, I had a streak of about 4 straight games where I appeared in the crowd shots on TV or in news wire photos. Forrest Bluz…
Anyway, as the baseball season rolled up to the end of the regular season, it dawned on me that I’ve never been in a city that experienced a playoff run, where I supported the home team.
I never lived in Pittsburgh for any of the Pirates, Steelers or Penguins playoff appearances. I lived in Cleveland when the Browns went to the playoffs and I lived here in Baltimore for the Ravens frequent playoff trips, but I was always rooting feverishly against them. [Hock-Ptooey!] So I’ve never been able to experience the common bond that the stretch run brings to the contending town.
It’s been pretty cool. It’s nice being on the inside for a change, as opposed to the dude on the outside, flinging poo at everyone else and desperately trying to rain on their parade. I enjoy the occasional look of surprise from others in the office, when they see me rocking an O’s hat, or game jersey on Jersey Day. I hope that it at least demonstrates to them that I’m not just being a contrary bastard when I wish ill on the Ravens.
“See? I like the orange birds… just not the Ratbirds.”
I mentioned during my last “retail story intermission” post how I was able to buy some playoff tickets in case they make it to the American League Divisional Series (aka the ALDS.) What can I say? I was caught up in the playoff fever. Between Sitcom Kelly and her sister buying tickets for a Wild Card game and a prospective Game 5 of the ALDS, and me buying tickets for ALDS games 1 and 2, I felt confident that I’d get to see my first baseball playoff game. The only way I get frozen out would be if the Orioles earn the 2nd Wild Card seed, have to play “away,” and then lose.
It must have been the playoff euphoria and the intoxicating group ethos that led me to ignore Bluz’s Mojo Axiom #1, which states: Thou shalt not count thy chickens before they hatch. Seriously, I knew better, but I couldn’t help but talk about attending the playoff games and heck, even make arrangements regarding who to take with me.
Early this week, the Orioles were tied with the Yankees for the division lead, and were a game ahead of the A’s for the Wild Card, and if they won the division, they’d be positioned to play the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS. Remember my buddy Rik, aka The Chairman of Fuck Off, aka Detroit Tiger Fan #1? We got on the phone and made plans for him to come out and watch the games with me, and perhaps even insult Boog Powell again.
“Screw you, and screw your BBQ too. Bud Lite rules!”
I think that was the last straw. Immediately after I got off the phone with Rik, the O’s promptly lost to Tampa and both the Yankees and A’s won. That made it extremely unlikely that the Orioles would win the division, because the Yanks were playing the now-toothless Red Sox. So both the Yankees and A’s won their last 2 games, while the Orioles took only one out of two. All the O’s needed to do was win last night’s game and the Wild Card game would be here. But no such luck. The Karmic reprisal was severe.
As I feared, the Orioles will play the Texas Rangers in the Wild Card game Friday night. If they win, they play the Yankees here on Sunday and Monday. If they lose, their season is over. One game and done.
I probably ought to stop writing about it before it’s too late.
But if they do make it in, Sunday is going to be pretty stressful. They haven’t announced what time the game will be, probably because Baltimore and Arlington TX (one of which will host the first game) are in different time zones. I’m figuring, because the Yankees are playing, the game will be on during prime time, which I’m counting on. I’d hate to have to choose between going to the playoff game and watching the Steelers game at 1:00.
It would get REEEEALLY interesting if the Steeler game isn’t on TV (for which I don’t have definitive confirmation yet) and the O’s play the late game. That would mean I’d have to go to the sports bar to see the Steelers, get all liquored up, then roll on down to Camden Yards (on the subway) for the baseball game. It could be quite a marathon. I’d also have to do a quick change in the car, to shed my Steelers game jersey mojo, put on my Orioles gear in the parking lot and hope I don’t get arrested.
“Seriously, officer… I gotta support the team!”