FanPost

Twenty-Four Months of O’s Fandom in Boston

Two months after I was born, the Baltimore Orioles won the 1983 World Series. I was brought into the world a winner, and perhaps also ushered in an era of losing. By the time I was old enough to really understand the game, it was too late. Jeffrey Maier is the first person I can remember hating, the first time I understood injustice. I was in Baltimore when the Ravens won the Super Bowl, and was a sophomore at College Park when the Terps won the NCAA tournament. Both were seminal moments in my sports fandom, but neither was what I really wanted.

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I was raised to be an Oriole. I was there for the first came at Camden Yards, there for game 2,130, there for John Denver’s surprise visit. Every opening day, I was allowed to miss school. It was as important as a holiday or Dr. appointment. In college I used to carry a radio with me to my classes at UMD, and run headphones up under my shirt, so I could listen to day games while at lectures. I followed the Ravens, and cheered for the Terps, but the Orioles were my true love.

I migrated to New York City after graduation, to the Evil Empire. Every spring, I bought the MLB.TV package, striking deals with roommates about how many games they could stomach, usually sequestering myself in my room, so they wouldn’t have to hear my cursing at my computer. I’d follow games on my phone on nights out, and I’d spend hundreds of dollars on tickets to Yankee Stadium, knowing full well I’d be bullied. Of course, there were moments of wonder, like when I watched Mike Mussina get shelled, and pulled, in the first inning of an O’s game in NY. But they were few and far between. I did this for five years.

Two years ago, I traveled to Boston for a weekend visit. I met a girl, fell in love, and three months later packed my car and moved again. My only experience as an O’s fan in Boston was attending what we all refer to as the Mother’s Day Massacre. Seriously. I was there. So, needless to say, I didn’t know how this latest relocation would go.

But then, weirdly, it started to go OK. I watched the Yankees lose the 2010 ALCS, and geared up for Spring. The Orioles sucked in 2011, but they finished strong, ruining the season for the Red Sox. No one here knew who Robert Andino was, or how he’d ended up in Baltimore. All they knew was that their bajillion dollar outfielder couldn’t come up with the baseball, and they were all going home. It was a great day to be an O’s fan living in Boston. People were so sad and miserable, and every grumpy Sox fan I encountered made me a little happier.

In 2012, the Orioles again were news in Beantown, this time for hiring Dan Duquette as GM. At the same time it was announced that Dr. Charles Steinberg would be coming back to the Red Sox, to help make Fenway’s 100th birthday a magical one. A Red Sox in Baltimore, and an Oriole in Boston. It was weird.

I made it to Fenway twice this season, both for memorable games. The first was almost a nightmare. Surrounded by Red Sox fans, their team still relevant, I watched Jarrod Saltalamacchia tag Jim Johnson for a game-tying, ninth-inning two run shot. It’s over, I thought, I’m going to get murdered. But then, like it was no thing, the Orioles scored twice in the 10th, winning in extras like they would for the rest of the season. The second game was just two weeks ago, and I got to see a solid, methodical, and well-oiled machine, led by Miguel Gonzalez. That night, I went to Fenway, expecting a win. I can’t remember ever going to a baseball game thinking that before. I have really fond memories of being a kid in Baltimore cheering for the home team, but there’s no question that this season for me, in my home away from home, has been my favorite season yet. With the discarded GM who actually put together the Red Sox curse-breaking team in 2004, thanks in part to a 13-5 record against them, and to the chagrin of some of the worst, whiniest, and most annoying fans in baseball, the Baltimore Orioles are winners.

My drivers license may say Massachusetts on it, but I am forever a “wudder”-drinking, old-bay-sprinkling, berger-cookie-eating, Ripken-jersey-wearing, Ray-Lewis-apologist, Wire-watching, Baltimoron. I’ve lived in Boston for 24 months, which have been the most optimistic, incredible, exciting, sometimes confusing, baseball watching months of my adult life. And though I’d love to be in downtown Baltimore to experience this, I am doing my part to prove that Pink Hat Nation may have a big bandwagon, but real fans don’t jump ship. We wait, and we believe, and though we may move away, we never change sides. Thanks to everyone here at CamdenChat for being the Orioles community that I don’t have here, and congratulations on an amazing season. Here’s hoping this is just the start.

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