The other night I was out at a sports bar with some friends watching the Baltimore Orioles get trounced by the Yankees. As a life time Orioles fan this was nothing new, we have been losing to the Bronx Bombers for as long as I can remember. But there was something different that night.
The usual apathy that accompanies an O’s loss was replaced with anger and discontent. People all around me were booing at the big screen TV after every lost opportunity. Drinks were being passed out like crazy as fans tried to drown their frustration with our team. And that’s when it dawned on me.
For the first time in my memory the Orioles are expected to win.
It is a new concept to the younger amongst the Orioles faithful. We grew up not knowing the glory days of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Instead of the Cal Ripken’s and Brooks Robinson’s of past we have players like Sidney Ponson and Melvin Mora to associate with.
Coming into the season there was little hope that things would turn around. Even after a great first month I was still a little apprehensive, saying that the O’s would still finish last in the division.
But then they kept winning.
Next thing I know we are two months away from the end of the season and Baltimore is very deep in the playoff hunt. With Buck Showalter at the helm, and Adam Jones putting the team on his back, the team resembles its 90s counterparts.
While the attendance numbers at Camden Yards may not show it, Orioles fandom is popular again. The jerseys and ball caps you once buried in the closet out of shame are being dug up and dusted off.
It is time for the rebirth of the franchise. Young players are developing as they were expected to, as the rest of the AL East ages rapidly. It is time for Baltimore to make its move.
Last night when Manny Machado made his major league debut, 2 -4 with a triple, the stadium was only half full, but remained electric all night. With Machado, Dylan Bundy, and a plethora of young talent it is easy to see why fans are excited for the future.
Is this the season for Baltimore? Probably not, the Yankees are still just too good to catch and the wild card is slipping away. But it is the start of a new era for the franchise.
As I said earlier in the article, for the first time in 15 years the fans have hope. Hope that the years of being a cellar dweller and a laughing stock are coming to an end.
It is a good time to be an Orioles fan, and it’s only going to get better.