After last night's deflating loss, I sat in a bar in Baltimore lamenting that these Orioles wouldn't get to have one final "Thank yoooooooou" from the fans of Baltimore for such an amazing season. Since the game was in New York, fan couldn't stand and give the team a standing O, like they did in Oakland following their loss to Detroit. I thought about trying to wait for them when they got back to Baltimore, but had no clue when they'd be back, where they'd be, etc.
So I decided to head back to my home in Rockville. But then a funny thing happened. A friend told me that the team was arriving at Oriole Park between 12:15-12:30. By this point, I was halfway home and had a decision to make; do I just continue driving home or do I turn around and give my favorite Oriole team the heroes welcome they deserve? Then I thought about what this team has meant to me as an Orioles fan. I remembered what it was like enduring 1998-2011. I remembered that amazing win against Boston, with Chris Davis pitching. I remembered posting "O-R-I-O-L-E-S, Magic, magic, magic, magic, Orioles Magic, feel it happen!" 96 times this season as my facebook statue, following an Orioles win. I thought about winning all of those extra inning games. I remembered how energetic and amazing that crowd was for the Cal Ripken statue game and during the two home play off games. All of those memories came flooding back to me as my car got off the exit ramp and headed back north towards Oriole Park.
I was so happy to see so many other Orioles fans waiting to welcome this team home. Young, old, drunk, sober, we chanted "O! R! I! O! L! E! S! ORIOLES!, we screamed "Lets Go O's! Lets Go O's!" We even started a wave up and down the row of people who had gathered on each side of the road leading to the players' parking lot. It was an O-mazing thing to experience.
When the buses finally arrived, we went nuts. I think the players were amazed that all of these people were waiting to thank them, at 1:00 in the morning, following a loss, in the freezing cold. But that's the magic of Orioles baseball. That's the passion and dedication to a team that this city has been missing for so many turbulent years. That passion never left, but it had been stored away, put into a closet and forgotten about , gather dust for several years. But this team dusted it off and reminded us of what baseball can and should be like in Baltimore every year.
So while they didn't win the pennant or the World Series, this team will forever hold a place in my heart for reminding me of what it's like to have an awesome baseball team in "The Greatest City in America." For that, I am forever grateful.
Thank you, 2012 Baltimore Orioles!
Poor quality pictures from my cell phone are below:
And here is an awesome video MASN put together. Gives you a good feel for the crowd size and energy level.