ORIOLES DIVISION CHAMPS
Last night the Baltimore Orioles baseball team clinched the American League east division championship. Just three years ago, the Orioles were a divisional doormat with a 14-year losing streak and a frustrated fan base. The once mighty O's of my youth had fallen deep into baseball obscurity. Now all that has changed.
MB and I have been together for 15 years and during most of our time she has known the O's to be losers. Night after night I'd watch a game on my computer and she would ask, "How did the boys do?" Night after night they'd find a way to lose. I developed a severe case of baseball PTSD from seeing my team constantly being the dregs of the league. One memory stands out - the now famous 2007 Mother’s Day Massacre in Boston when the O’s managed to blow a 5-1 lead that day in the last of the ninth inning. You just always knew they were going to collapse.
The ownership of the O's for a long time did little to improve the team - one general manager some years back used to talk about only having "Confederate money" to attract good players. A few years ago, using a fan chat site, I was part of an organizing campaign to purchase a billboard urging the owner to sell the team. It was unveiled on opening day and a photo of the billboard made the front page of the Baltimore Sun newspaper. Organizing and baseball linked - I was in heaven.
But now things are different... ownership, with the big cable TV money, has finally opened up the purse and new management of the team and front office have turned the O's back into a winning club. I have to admit it is very hard for me to follow pro sports now - the corporate domination is fierce and the growing militarization of sports is a clear threat to the integrity of the game.
I was born near Baltimore but didn't live there long. Growing up in a military family I never had a home town to speak of so the O's became my home plate. They were my one constant, each morning I could touch base with the Orioles like checking in with grandma and grandpa back home. It's all about sentimentality, loyalty, la familia and home.
Over the years friends would suggest I switch teams - pick a winner - why do you want to suffer so much they'd ask? But they didn't fully understand me or my connection to the Orioles.
There are still a dozen games left in the regular season before the playoffs begin. The O's still have a long way to go to reach the World Series. I'll be watching when I can and hoping there will be no need for my baseball PTSD to kick in again. In the meantime I'll savor this moment.