This season has been one to remember. Here we are in mid September tied for the division and 3 games up on Tampa in the Wild Card race. As I type this, the O's are battling the Rays in an effort to sweep them out of Baltimore. At this point, 90 wins isn't only possible, it seems likely.
So, why does this next win mean so much to me? For years now, many here have stated how meaningless the chase for 81 wins truly is, and logically, I have always agreed. But still there has been a part of me that has longed for this number to come for forever, and that part has never died. I woke this morning knowing today could be that last day that I have to explain my fandom, the last day that I have to joke around about the last 14 years, the last day that I have to be a fan of a losing team.
Now, sure, we've been a "winning team" for basically this whole year. So why is 81 still important? As you all know, the Orioles have lost more games than they've won every year since 1997. The last time they were good I was a sophomore in high school, and since then I've been ridiculed, pitied, and perhaps worst of all, ignored as a baseball fan. Today, at least symbolically, that could all end. Today just might be the day that the O's ensure that this year is the year they don't lose more games than they win, and that still means something to me. It means that I have managed to remain a fan through the worst period of baseball I could imagine, and that maybe that could finally pay off. It means that I really have something to look forward to every day when 7:05 rolls around. It means that I follow a winning team, and that means so, so much to me after all these years.
So yes, "81" is just one win in the line of what will hopefully be many more over these next 20 games. Maybe we make the playoffs, maybe more... who knows? And yes, to good teams, win 81 means no more than any other win. But me? I'm going to enjoy this win. This win will mean more to me than any win has for 14 years. I'm not ashamed to admit that. In fact, I'm not ashamed anymore at all. We love our streaks as O's fans, and this one... this heart-breaking, miserable streak of years of losing (and not much else), it's finally ending. It may only be symbolic, but that symbol means more to me, and maybe more to all of us, than most people will ever know.