Thank you, 2012 Baltimore Orioles.

Thank you for reminding us that baseball can be fun, even more so when you’re playing for keeps. Thank you for reminding us that the game is not rigged. Maybe a little tilted, but not rigged. The powers that be can be disrupted by a special group of people. The 2012 Baltimore Orioles were, and are, a special group of people.

They put together a remarkable collection of moments that spoke to overused phrases like “grit,” and “mental toughness.” All the cliches about hard-working baseball teams applied to the Orioles, but they were all true. They hit with no world-renowned hitters. They fielded with few exceptional fielders. They pitched with guys nobody had ever heard of. They were invigorated by a manager who barely registered a pulse. They won games they had no business winning.

Not only did they win, but they did so in a way that forced baseball to redefine the conventions for success. They kicked balls around the infield and threw them in the stands for two solid months. They got outscored by opponents for most of the season and kept on winning.  They struck out at horrifying rates, relied on timely miracles, home runs and unrealistic expectations set upon unproven people.

They did all these things with a smile on their faces and a cartoon bird on their brows. The entire baseball world waited for the bottom to fall out on the team. It never happened. One by one, long-frozen fans thawed from their caves, beginning to believe that spring had truly sprung.

It could be another fifteen years. It could have been lightning in a bottle. There are no guarantees in life, in sports, and especially in baseball. It will take at least that long, much longer in fact, to erase the mark the 2012 Orioles left on this city. And even then, a new generation of fans will know that it really is possible to come back from the ashes. They have the proof. They have seen it with their own eyes.

Thank you for giving us games that meant something. Thank you for helping us reach back to that point in our lives when they all meant something. And for those that have never had those moments, thank you for creating them.

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you. See you in April.


A Baltimorean