With the 25th anniversary of Oriole Park at Camden Yards happening this year, the Orioles are in the process of unveiling their list of the 25 greatest games played at the stadium. It’s got me thinking: What games from the last five seasons - you know, the time when the Orioles have actually been good - are worth including on the list?
Some are obvious and will surely be included by the time the list reaches its end. Delmon Young’s double in the playoffs. The Cal Ripken Statue Game from September, 2012. The game where the Orioles clinched the AL East title in 2014. The only thing to wonder about these games is how high on the list they will be.
This is not the first time that the Orioles have had such a list. Around this time in 2012, the Orioles kicked off the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards with a list of the top 20 games in stadium history.
Since the Orioles have gone on to make the playoffs three times in the past five seasons, it’s actually a bit depressing to look back on this old list. Like, really, they couldn’t come up with five better games than the time the Orioles staged a cool but meaningless comeback from 10-1 down against the Red Sox in June, 2009? Or nine better games than “Turn Ahead The Clock Day” from July, 1999?
Maybe there really weren’t. It’s a challenge finding greatness among such terrible seasons, and at the time they released the list five years ago, they had been terrible every year since 1998. With little greatness to be found, the peculiar stands out more, like the Opening Day 2003 game where it snowed - previously named the seventh greatest game in Camden Yards history. That was cool, but was it top 10 great? No!
And here we all are now, still stewing (some of us) over Zach Britton not pitching in the Wild Card Game last October. Things have been better lately, though better baseball does come with its own kind of heartache.
The Orioles have put more effort into the new list than just adding some games from the last five years and keeping the old list the same otherwise. There are several holdovers so far, with the team having released from #25 through #18 as of this writing, and at least one entry from the 90s that wasn’t on the previous list - ALDS Game 1 from 1996, the first postseason game ever played at Camden Yards. How was this left off the last time?
Of the eight games on the new list so far, three are from 2012-16. They are:
- #23, a walkoff wild pitch in extra innings against the White Sox on June 25, 2014
- #21, an extra innings comeback against the Yankees during the Star-Spangled Banner 200th anniversary weekend on September 12, 2014
- #19, a game featuring a 13th Taylor Teagarden walkoff home run on July 14, 2012
I can’t say that any one of those are games I would have thought of as necessary to include if I was creating the list. I wonder how many more recent games will make the cut. The three I named above seem like must-includes. The list will likewise be incomplete without including the 60th anniversary of the franchise celebration from 2014.
That’s getting to be a lot of games representing the recent era, but it makes sense that those years will be over-represented. There have only been five seasons where the team made the playoffs since Camden Yards opened. There have been great games where the stakes were low because the Orioles stunk, but the stakes of a playoff chase make any game from those seasons have inherently more greatness potential.
What are the games from the past five years that you think can’t be left off the list? For the obvious ones like The Delmon Young Double, or the Cal Ripken Statue Game, how high do you think they belong?
Does The Double unseat the Chris Hoiles Grand Slam for #2? It had better. Does it go all the way to the top and overtake 2,131? It had better not. If it was up to me, Cal’s statue game would be above the Hoiles grand slam as well, though I won’t be holding my breath for that one.
Are there any games from the mid-90s that you would put on the list instead of some of the ones that the Orioles have chosen to remember?
On the other end of things, what games do you think don’t belong, either from the old list or this new one so far? I’m giving some serious side eye to a Kevin Millar walkoff single from Mother’s Day 2006 making the cut - both at #17 on the old list and #24 on the new one. That team won 70 games. Nothing historic happened to them.
Where does something like Game 162 from 2011, where Robert Andino personally destroyed the Red Sox, belong now that we’ve seen good baseball the past five seasons? That was a bad baseball team too, but it’s worth giving some credit to that particular game. To me, it will always represent the prologue to what started in 2012. That deserves recognition.
The Orioles will be slowly unveiling the list between now and April 2. They will reveal through #11 between now and Saturday. Starting on Sunday the 29th, when the countdown hits the top 10, they’ll be revealing one game each week when MASN plays that night’s game starting at 7pm.