There will be distance
And we'll both have to come to expect
The wild ending of our dark and feathered friends
-- The Frames, "Mighty Sword"
Make no mistake, my friends, we are alone. This whole world has lined up against us. As part time scientists and statisticians rush to be the loudest to announce our destruction, politicians of the page weave intricate explanations as to how we have arrived at this inexplicable position. Together they drag darkness over us with their symbolic and too sudden shroud. They will say we have come far but flown too high, that we should be commended for the small gains and little victories while being soon forgotten. We've got grit and spirit, they'll say. We're tough, scrappy, surprising. That's all we will hear right before they tell us to go back to where they believe we belong, where they have said we belonged all year, beneath the favorite sons anointed by the elite. Realize how much these gray men of no imagination, these pale cowards without vision breathed a sigh of relief when Nick Markakis, our Ajax, went down on Saturday. They smiled through dull teeth and toasted one another as they knew their narrative will be maintained. Order is restored in the world.
But I am here to say that the rumor of our demise has been greatly exaggerated. Because that was never our narrative, not from the moment these men first took to the field. Doubt is a dream only for our detractors. These boys of summer believe, their hearts full of possibility, their bodies strong with the power of youth. Yes, this is the team of Nick Markakis, who now must rely on his brothers in arms for a chance for him to play again this year. But this is also the team of Switch Hitting Jesus, Matt Wieters, who has cut down any would be thief with his wrathful arm, who calmly smiled as he showed the cut down would be winning run that no, he did indeed hold onto the ball, and this game is not yet over. Timely hits and endless study mark his game as he guides this team into future greatness. This is the team of the JJ's, steady rocks each upon which the hopes of other teams smash in so many one run victories. This is the team of Thor, who, no matter how many broken bat home runs he hits, will always be remembered for throwing an easy 91 mph unhittable pitch. This is the team of Robert Andino, who may have dismantled the entire Red Sox nation with his unbeatable will. This is the team of redemption, with Nate and Lew, grown young again through the magic of Baltimore. This is the team of first chances, and last, of fearlessness, of power. This is the team of a different hero every day in the rotation, and the same heroes every night in the bull pen. This is the team of O'Day, Strop, Patton, Ayala locking down every lead. This is the team of the madman at first base, Mark Reynolds, who had once looked so lost, and now looks so very strong. And most certainly, this is the team of the good Doctor, Adam Jones, who has picked up an entire city and put it on his powerful shoulders. He has changed the fate of the Orioles. They will be winners because he will make it so.
We wield the mighty sword
That cuts through bone and lays the liars down
We wield an angry sword
That softens stone and turns the tides around
This team is not a team of quitters. This team has no cowards on it. Who wants to be a hero tonight? Taylor? Kevin? Brian? Jake? Wilson? Ryan? Omar? Steve? Luis? Tommy? Zack? Randy? God help you if Manny decides to be the hero. If I were the rest of the league I would be terrified of this team. For they are young, and they are strong, and it is to them that the future belongs. That future is tonight, and tomorrow, and through the autumn.
It is so rare when one gets to witness the improbable. But that time is upon us now. As others will scramble to make sense of magic, we can bask in the glory of another victory. Through this all, our unflappable leader smiles on the inside. We are guided by perhaps the greatest baseball mind of our time in Buck Showalter, our general, our leader. All he asks of us is everything we have, and those unwilling to give it will be gone. I, for one, am finally reporting for duty. But I can give not one ounce of what so many loyal fans have given over the years, or even this year, attending rainy and cold games, lasting through countless innings. I raise a flowing bowl high to the die-hard fans that have stood in my place, that have suffered so long. I toast your undying love. And I toast the General, behind who now we must line up and be counted. And perhaps it is the weariness of battle that prevents some from seeing, or perhaps it is the constant chatter of cowards that claim dominion over our demise, but there seems to be a sense of impending doom rising amongst our ranks. I understand. It always was improbable. But it is time to meet it without fear. It is time to feel the sun upon your face. Now, if ever, is the time to believe in magic.
We wield a mighty sword. It is time to cut the liars down. It is time for the improbable. It is time to turn the tides around.
I know the rules of fan posts. You are supposed to use stats to back up your argument. And that is why back in February I found stats that attempted to back up my claim that this team would win 90 games. But I'm not going to use any stats today. Because stats don't matter anymore. All that matters is that deep down, beyond anything we can explain or understand, this team has a greater desire to win than any other team on the field. We, the prodigal fans of the baseball world, have returned to our welcoming Oriole family. We, who were dead, now live again. This is the year the specter of a proud past is finally shaken free and the echoes of bygone glory are drowned in the living cheers of present victory. Yes, listen to the "O's!" as the pride of Baltimore rises from the ashes of so many years of failure. Our boys have become men before our eyes. They fight not for what is front of them, but rather who is behind them. Get out and support them. Stand in my place and scream back at those that say your place is beneath them. Now, more than ever, is the time to believe. This is our year. This is the year of the Orioles. This is Birdlland.