Saturday, January 16, 2010

Endless Love: The Life of the Very Rare Orioles Fan

I don’t know why I chose to write this in the middle of football playoffs, but maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m addicted to something I KNOW is bad for me. Regardless, here I am watching Ravens game, but thinking about how I can’t wait for Oriole baseball…even though they are just terrible.

As a young, baseball-loving kid growing up in Maryland during the 90’s, I did what everyone was doing; worship Cal Ripken. During that time, my family split season tickets and I was as big of an Oriole fan as you were going to find, especially in an seven or eight year old. In 1997, when we lost in game seven if the ALCS to Cleveland, I cried harder than I ever have. I sobbingly told my mom the I “would never get to go to the World Series,” and she consoled me and said that wasn’t true. Ten years later, which one of us looks better

In the twelve years since then, we have seen just about everything except a successful season. We were one of the teams most mentioned on the Mitchell Report (no one really took notice because the Orioles aren’t on many people’s radar, but the O’s have so many people that took part in the steroid issue. David Segui, Jason Grimsley, Jay Gibbons, Raffy Palmeiro, Brady Anderson, Sammy Sosa, Miguel Tejada, etc.) and we still weren’t any good.

People look at fans revolting against Dan Snyder as big, but that is nothing compared to the hatred between Orioles’ owner Peter Angelos and the Baltimore natives. Oriole fans have tried everything from grouping together wearing shirts that say that they want Angelos gone, to staging a giant organized movement to have several sections just get up and leave during the game. Yep, that’s right. Instead of getting to watch baseball, fans are trying to get attention by paying the price of a ticket, and then leaving before the game is over.

What does a die-hard fan like me do during this abysmal time? You don’t root for wins anymore, you root for young guys to do well. If the Orioles lose 7-1, but that run came from rookie catcher Matt Weiters, that game wasn’t so bad. If you lose 6-5 in the ninth inning, I’m happy that rookie pitcher Brian Matusz pitched five innings and only gave up two runs (which I shouldn’t be thrilled about anyways). This is how I get by night to night. Has a Yankee or Red Sox fan ever come out of a loss and been somewhat happy about it? I do it three times a week.

Over the past few years, new GM Andy MacPhail has done some great things in the draft, and I am starting to think there might be some real hope. How do I know this? Because I follow the minor league affiliates nightly. I am so desperate to see some sort of success from the team that I love so unconditionally.

I pretty much pray every night that my eyes don’t deceive me, and that maybe I am right, but my brain tells me that I am fooling myself. I am so optimistic, but at the same time, I know that it is ridiculous for me to expect anything from such a beleaguered franchise. After all, how much confidence can you have in a guy who’s last name has the word “fail” in it?

Part of me wants to give up and just try to follow another team. I tried a few years ago and you know who I picked? The Cubs. I went to Wrigley Field that summer and began to love them. Am I just born to be let down?

After much soul searching, my conclusion is that I will always be the Orioles biggest fan. I have to…we are an endangered species. Maybe they will be good again before I die and I will get to go to a World Series like my mom promised, but if that day never comes, I think I can deal with it. I have become accustomed to failure anyways.

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