The MLB postseason is absolutely wonderful. I don’t know what it is in particular about October, but for one month, the postseason captures everything that makes baseball such a brilliant sport. The tradition, the stadium atmosphere, the chance to make history. It’s baseball on another level; a level filled with intense focus, a burning passion to win, and unforgettable performances. After all, there is a reason that every boy or man in America dreams of playing in the World Series at some point in their life.
Every October, I get the same feelings of excitement when the playoffs roll around. I watch the games religiously, and share my feelings with almost anyone around me who has two ears and a little bit of patience. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to realize that October truly represents what baseball is supposed to be like, and those fans in Philadelphia, New York, and Milwaukee, feel how baseball fans are supposed to feel. I can’t explain how badly I want playoff baseball in Baltimore, mostly because I have no idea what it would feel like to be part of something so special.
I’m sixteen years old, meaning I was born in 1995. The last time the Orioles had a winning season and went to the playoffs was 1997. While Mike Mussina and Cal Ripken Jr. were getting Baltimore excited about baseball, I was wearing diapers and throwing my food around the house. Fourteen years later, the Orioles are a laughingstock, and baseball is pretty much dead in Charm City.
This won’t be like one of the thousands of articles or blog posts you’ve read over the past few years trying to blame someone for the Orioles’ track record of failure over the past decade and a half. It’s been a dismal combination of bad luck, a lack of resources, and a piss-poor attitude at every level of the organization. I’m a fan who just wants to know what it feels like to be able to have hope every season, and look forward to playing for something as magical as a World Series championship.
Friday night was a prime example of why the MLB playoffs are so cool. Both games decided series, and were won by one run. We got to see Roy Halladay make an outstanding pitching performance, just to have his former teammate Chris Carpenter outshine him, backed up by a team fielding performance that was nearly flawless. We got to see an awesome extra-innings game in Milwaukee, where the two managers were making ballsy calls to the bullpen, and those calls somehow kept paying off.
I feel like fans in Baltimore got their first taste of meaningful baseball in a while when the Orioles knocked the Red Sox out of the playoffs to finish out the season. Sure, the team still finished in last place, and the pitching staff was historically awful. For one night though, there was a baseball game being played in Baltimore that really meant something. In the hours leading up to the game, fans were excited. At the stadium, everyone was buzzing. When the game was over, and the Orioles had officially eliminated the Sox from the playoffs, fans were actually excited.
Every October, I just feel like I’m wasting my time by rooting for the O’s every season. I’ve been to Yankee Stadium, and I’ve been to Fenway Park. I love what it feels like to root for a winning team, and know that you’re a part of something great. I have no idea what it will take for the Orioles succeed; that’s not my job, nor my expertise. All I know is that there’s something wrong with supporting a team that seems to be going nowhere every year, and most of Baltimore has realized the same thing in the last five or so years. Each team in the playoffs this season had been where the Orioles are now at some point. Hell, the Rays have become one of the most consistent teams in the league without any significant financial backing or true fan support.
I know I’m just complaining, and echoing the same sentiments that everyone has been shouting for the past ten seasons when discussing the Orioles. I feel like I’ve finally arrived at that point of discontent with the team where the losses are accepted, and the wins don’t mean anything. I so badly want to go to a playoff baseball game at Camden Yards, or just be a fan of an Orioles team that plays meaningful games in September and October. Hopefully, with a fresh face coming into the front office in the next few weeks, the team finally gets back on track towards the playoffs, and contend for championships. The Red Sox did it early in this decade, the Rays have done it as well. Even the PIRATES, of all teams, looked like a legitimate playoff contender this season.
After 14 awful seasons, I finally got a taste of what it feels like to be a fan of a team playing meaningful games. It only lasted for one night, but it was easily one of the best nights I’ve ever had as an Orioles fan. Now I just want more like it.