No Place Like Home – Lets Go Os!

Today is the day that I have been waiting for since last October 14th when they practically had to drag me through the exit gates of Camden Yards at the conclusion of Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. On that day I walked deliberately, carefully stepping over all of the commemorative plaques where long-ago home runs had landed on the flag court. I remember looking up at the cloudy sky, then at the Bromo Seltzer tower that stared down ominously. We knew then that those Kansas City Royals would not let us come back here until now.

It is another cloudy, damp and foggy day here in Baltimore but today’s Home Opener represents a new beginning. The whole spring and summer is laid out before us. Dreams of hot afternoons and evenings tempt us. Everywhere I went today people were clad in black and orange giving a “Go Os” greeting even to complete strangers. Sure, the team played in Tampa the last few nights but this is different. They are here in their city, with their fans, in their ballpark. Home.

A “Formal Feeling” – Orioles 2014 World-Series Dreams End in ALCS Game 4

oriole bird

Emily Dickinson was most certainly not talking about baseball (as if she ever did) when she wrote the poem “After great pain, a formal feeling comes – (372).” But strangely, it conveys how I am feeling right now.

After a thrilling and unexpected season where they were champions of one of the wealthiest and most challenging divisions in all of professional baseball – the vaunted American League East – our Baltimore Orioles have officially been swept by the Kansas City Royals in the 2014 American League Championship Series. 

The last out of the last inning has been recorded coldly in non-negotiable black and white. The final score (Kansas City 2, Baltimore 1, representing a four-game sweep) is in. World Series dreams – denied. We face the only true choice that we are ever given in grief – acceptance.

It feels oddly comfortable and peaceful. A sudden release from the tension of wondering, imagining, and wanting. It compels me to seek order – to tally the final score sheet, to take down the flag, to put away the shirts and the face paint and the beads.

We are now one step closer to Winter – and yet one step closer to next Spring.

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/14841861463/”>Keith Allison</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

We Won’t Stop (I Hope)

We Wont Stop Image

After a possibly fortunate rain-out in Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, Game 3 of the 2014 American League Championship Series will now be tonight starting at 8:07PM. My beloved Baltimore Orioles, vying for a spot in their first World Series since 1983 are currently down two games in this best-of-seven series against the red-hot Kansas City Royals.

“Red-hot” Kansas City Royals.  Now there is a phrase I never thought I’d write – until this year, of course. The Kansas City Royals haven’t played baseball in October since 1983 when, ironically, “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits was topping the Billboard Charts and iTunes was an unimaginable abstraction.

Out of respect for the game, I would ordinarily be more reverent in at least begrudgingly recognizing the Royals’ accomplishments this season. But the incessant chest-pumping and hair flipping of their first baseman Eric Hosmer, along with recent trash talk by Jarrod Dyson who, when asked by Kansas City Star writer Andy McCullough if he expects the series to return to Camden Yards for a sixth game said “No, sir, I don’t, and I don’t think [the Orioles] think that, either” has me less inclined.

I was among the disconsolate fans in black and orange trudging silently out of Camden Yards after Saturday’s loss in Game 2 wondering if this would be our last time through the gates until next Spring. The dark forecasts about Baltimore’s prospects in this series are everywhere. They speak of unfortunate but hopefully irrelevant historical realities.  They espouse the sad, sad fact that in the twenty-nine years since the League Championship Series was switched to a best-of-seven series that NO TEAM that had lost its first two games at home like Baltimore has this year has EVER come back to win the series. EVER!  So. Why play tonight?

Way back when the tulips were starting to come up and I was elbows-deep in Oxi-Clean scrubbing the red spring mud out of my son’s baseball pants, the experts were predicting that Baltimore would be a solid but probably not playoff-caliber team. They have endured and triumphed over a great deal of adversity this year including the loss of key players.  Beloved catcher Matt Wieters’ “minor elbow discomfort” turned into full-on season-ending and heart-wrenching Tommy John surgery.  Third baseman Manny Machado’s other knee blew out on August 11th also ending his season.  And what was more painful than the news that our super-slugging yet struggling Chris “Crush” Davis would have to take a 25-game suspension for violating MLB drug policy for the use of a medication to treat attention-deficit disorder. Without their superstars it was assumed that advancing would be a sure impossibility and Baltimore would go back to where a lot of people still seem to want them – in their off season living rooms watching on the flat-screen with the rest of us.

Despite the apprehension and ultimately unwarranted warnings in the spring and in the playoffs, the team still went on to win their first division title since 1997 blowing past the second-place New York Yankees (love writing that) and the last-place Boston Red Sox (love writing that even more) in a sweep against the vaunted glitterati of baseball – the Detroit Tigers.

I admit it. You would probably have to be some kind of clueless, sappy Pollyanna to say that things are looking great for Baltimore in this series right now, but looking at what this team has already done this year you have to have some hope.

On any given night or in any given game anything is possible.

Let’s see if they will make history tonight…

#We Won’t Stop (I hope)