Leaving the radio on so that I could listen to the Orioles’ game, I got out of my car on Saturday to pump some gas at a local convenience store here in Western Maryland.
“Excuse me, but what’s the score?” asked a guy heading into the store.
“One to nothin’, Orioles,” I replied.
“Great! What a year. You know my son is 15 years old and this is the first season in his lifetime that the Orioles have been worth following in September. I go back to the days where you expected the Birds to win. This year has been great!”
It has been great. I had forgotten how a magical season could bind strangers in a brotherhood, however momentary. I had forgotten what it was like to proudly wear my Orioles tee-shirts, which I recently did on a trip to Charlottesville, VA. As we walked through a crowd gathering for an outdoor concert someone yelled, “Go Birds” and another conversation was struck.
When the phone rings immediately after an Adam Jones homer or yet another extra inning win, I know that it’s my buddy Al or my daughter Becky because I know that they’re watching the game, too. No Oriole fan wants to miss any of the excitement.
Some may feel that this summer in Baltimore resembles 1989 when the Birds almost went from worst to first and fans chanted “Why Not?” before ultimately bowing to the Blue Jays. Certainly, the scenario is the same with a team that some predicted would lose 100 games breathing down the Yankees’ collective necks for the American League East crown. To me, however, this season more closely resembles 1979. I remember the June night that Orioles Magic was born with double-header victories over Detroit as the Birds scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th in Game 1 and a run in the bottom of the 8th in Game 2. Magic indeed.
Regardless of how the rest of the season plays out, could there be year that’s more improbable than the one that has unfolded in Baltimore? I know that the sabrmetricians would argue that there is a certain probability that Taylor Teagarden will manage 8 RBI on only 7 hits, three of which will win games. Or that luck and a great bullpen will win you 16 extra inning games in a row including one in which DH Chris Davis struck out 5 times, but won the game with 2 shutout innings of relief. Or that a 20 year old AA shortstop in the person of Manny Machado, will be called up to play third base and do it like a seasoned, Gold Glove pro.
I don’t doubt the sabrmetricians’ numbers, but you can’t believe in numbers. You can, however, believe in magic.