An Open Letter To The 2014 Baltimore Orioles

Orioles Magic Clinch2Dear Orioles Players:

Congratulations on making it to the 2014 playoffs and beginning the series with two dramatic and convincing wins over the Tigers! There are a few things I want to share with you that you probably don’t know. How can you, though? More than half of you were not even born when the Orioles last won the World Series in 1983. I was 18 years old then, and already a seasoned fan since 1970 – when I became a believer in you – The Orioles – for life.

Thanks for keeping us, your fans, with you during this whole glorious ride. When you told the world in 2012 that one of your biggest goals of the season was to bring a playoff game to your fans in Baltimore, you made us believe again in the magic that you made so special to us, so many years ago. And now, in 2014, you continue to connect with us and play championship-caliber baseball while staying connected with the Baltimore fans. You just seem to get it. This is about something bigger than beating the Tigers to advance to the ALCS. You’ve found a way to tap into your youngest fans who want to be just like you, while still resonating with the older folks like me. We’ve been unconditional fans since we were those little kids listening to Chuck Thompson, Bill O’Donnell, Tom Marr, and Jon Miller call the games on the radio.

Here’s how September and October baseball happened every night when I was a kid. We would take extra time on our homework as an excuse to stay up, just so we could hear Chuck, Bill, and the others tell us how cold the beer really was when you would win that night’s game. And for those late showdowns on the west coast? We would sneak the AM radio up to our room, tuck the little white ear bud out of sight, and fall asleep to the sounds of Flanagan’s fast ball popping loudly in Dempsey’s mitt.

Those were great memories, and they’ve never left us. They were just waiting for players like all of you to wake them up, bring them back to life, and make us all feel like kids once again.

Yesterday afternoon, as I listened to Game 2 of the American League Divisional Series with Joe Angel and Fred Manfra delivering each pitch, each hit to us over the radio, I found myself back at Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street, sitting next to my dad in the lower reserved seats (third base side), shouting “CHARGE!” at the top of our lungs as Rex Barney announced Eddie or Cal when they would come up to the plate.

You see, that guy sitting next to me in those stands had taught me something pretty important that has stuck with me all these years. No matter how good, or how bad, we might be at the things we love, we can never give up on them, or on ourselves. We just have to keep giving it our best, and good things will come, eventually.

We never gave up on you. You are our team, and we are so grateful for reigniting those memories and that belief in you that has been with us all these years.

Rex Barney, at the end of each of his announcements, always ended with a drawn-out “THANK YOUUUUUUU” that somehow served as the thread that sewed Orioles Baseball into our hearts forever. Your unimaginable, and now unforgettable run into the postseason has taken those threads from the ‘70’s and ‘80’s and has stitched a brand new ball of hope, memories, and faith for all of your fans. It’s an ageless thing, and like I said before: you get that.

And so, O’s of 2014, we tip our caps and offer you a resounding Thank Youuuuuuu for bringing back to Baltimore the magic of baseball and the rekindling of a love affair that had been dormant for a long, long time. Best of luck in your continued quest to be World Series champions, and know that you’ve got a city behind you no matter what that final score might be.

Just keep giving it your best. We’re not going anywhere. We are Orioles Fans, after all. And in this town, that means something.

The Call Heard ‘Round Baltimore

There have been so many magical moments at Camden Yards in the last 24 hours, with the Orioles taking a 2-0 lead over the Detroit Tigers in the American League Divisional Series.

Screen shot 2014-10-03 at 4.56.33 PM

This double play in today’s fifth inning, for instance, was just unbelievable (well, not for die-hard O’s fans).

But it was this call by Orioles’ announcer Joe Angel on WBAL Radio, with the Orioles down 6-4 in the bottom of the 8th inning, that sums up everything magical about this season.

Delmon Young’s bases-clearing double

This is a wonderful time to be an O’s fan, but just as importantly, this is a wonderful time to be a baseball fan.

Good luck in Detroit, O’s. May you muster the strength and magic to sweep the Tigers with a win on Sunday!

2011/365/030: Good News Sunday Edition 1

Photo: rus vanwestervelt, taken in Orlando, FL when visiting my sister/brother-in-law

Welcome to the first edition of Good News Sunday, inspired entirely by my sister Cindy, currently spending her days and nights in the Magic Kingdom… 🙂

So without further ado, let’s begin! Here are three things I think are worth celebrating this week:

1. NEWS: Cole Balderson and Rachel Reilly have been found, they are safe, and they are home. These two teens from Olney, MD were last seen on January 12. After their Jeep was found at a rest stop in Virginia, many were deeply concerned about their whereabouts. On Friday, both were found at a makeshift homeless camp in San Antonio, Texas. Rachel was apprehended immediately, but Cole escaped. Last night, his father located him near the camp. No word on the motive, how they got to Texas, and why Cole continued to run. We may never know, though, and that’s ok. That’s not our business, and I only hope that the families and the tight-knit community of Olney take care of these two teens.

An interesting side-note to this story. A few days after Cole and Rachel were missing, two Facebook groups were created to help find them. The first one was established by friends of the family; the second one was created by an individual who, at first, seemed sincere in her motives (gender assumed based on information I’ve read subsequently). However, strange things began happening, and the admin for the second page started posting odd threats and banning individuals, including family members, for no apparent reason. Last night, at about the same time Cole was reunited with his father, the admin for the second site posted a bizarre link to another missing child elsewhere in the country. A few hours later, the entire site was removed from Facebook.

I’m not sure I understand fully why this individual works so hard at creating posters and spreading the word about missing children, when she is so rude and disrespectful to others who are trying to help and even support her efforts. Is it a front for something else? Is she exploiting these missing children for her own personal gain, whatever that might be? I recall that, at the beginning of her campaign, she had very strict rules about being emailed or tagged (or something) before posters could be downloaded. All I remember is that it seemed so strange and controlling.

I hope that her motives are genuine, and the quirkiness and bizarre behavior are unrelated to the missing teens and their families. Still, you never can tell. It’s horrible that so much energy was wasted on this individual’s inexplicable actions.

2. SPORTS: The Baltimore Orioles held their annual FanFest event this past weekend. The high turnout was matched by the enthusiasm for the rejuvenated roster and healthy veterans who are returning this spring. For those of you who are not baseball fans (or who have been sunning a little too long on some tropical island), the Orioles have not been a contender since, oh, 1997. When your city sibling is the Baltimore Ravens, it’s a tall order to get a group of fans behind a perennial sub-.500 professional sports team. But this is Baltimore, and news that National Bohemian is going to run from bar taps once again (talk about a drought–it’s been 15 years since you could walk up to a bar and get a Natty Boh on tap) may have had some psycho-spiritual influence on all of us. Natty Boh, once distributed by the National Brewing Company, was also owned by no other than the then-owner of the Baltimore Orioles, Jerold Hoffberger. Any chance that this will become the official beer of the O’s once again? Doubtful, but any of us who remembers having cases of Boh on hand for games knows that we’re the ones who make a beer “official” for a sports team. The first kegs will be tapped on February 3rd at Canton’s Nacho Mamas, according to a recent article in the Baltimore Sun.  Go (b)Oh’s!

3. COMMUNITY: PlungeFest raises millions of dollars for Special Olympics Maryland. The water temperature was 33 degrees, but that didn’t stop over 15,000 Marylanders (and others!) from taking the plunge this weekend at Sandy Point State Park. Rock stars, TV actors, professional sports figures, and radio personalities joined the thousands of others to take the plunge. The cause is great, the turnout continues to get bigger each year, and it’s a fun time for so many family members, friends, and co-workers to pull together for a good time. Amy almost went this year, and I have a feeling we all might be taking the plunge next year to support the Special Olympics.

Enjoy the rest of this football-free Sunday (first time since early August!); I’ll be back tomorrow! 🙂