2012 was a funny time when you look back at it. Early 2012 in particular.
May 16, 2012 the Orioles took on the Royals in what by all accounts should have been as meaningless a game as you can imagine. Except May 16, 2012 the O’s were unexpectedly 9 games over .500, alone in first place. We gotta go, this isn't going to last! I found a couple box seats behind the O’s dugout on Stubhub, gassed up the car, and drove a few hours to KC to take my sweetie to our first MLB game together.
Like I said, 2012 was a funny time. Tommy Hunter started this game. Successfully! Dana Eveland and Friend of The Chat Kevin Gregg pitched a combined 4 shutout innings of relief! Chris Davis batted 8th and Ryan frigin Flaherty subbed for him. Wilson Betemit, Bill Hall, Nick Johnson – Buck, Dan, how much have you two had to drink?
There wasn’t much to cheer about for most of the game. Humberto Quintero (most well-known for doing squinty eyes behind Bruce Chen while Chen was being interviewed on live TV in the Royals dugout) put the Royals ahead in the 5th. The O’s pulled within a run in the 8th, but gave it right back in the bottom half. Jonathan Broxton came out for the 9th and the small contingent of O’s fans started to look dejected. Until Wilson Betemit snuck a fly ball over the wall in right field. Then Davis singled. Xavier Avery singled following a Robert Andino flyout. JJ Hardy snuck a grounder past up the middle and Flaherty came chugging around to tie the game! FIRST PLACE ORIOLES CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP! The fans were standing, loving their guys, high fiving strangers in a strange Birdland.
As tends to happen in baseball, things quickly settled back down. O’Day worked a clean 9th after giving up a leadoff single. Little Timmy Collins came on for the Royals to and used his curveball to make AJ, SHJ, and … Nick Johnson … look foolish. Dana Eveland came out for the 10th, to no one’s excitement. Then the 11th. Then the 12th – this guy’s going to fuck this up isn’t he?
As the 12th inning ended, Mrs T poked me to remind me that I’d promised before the game that if it went 14 or more innings, we could stay overnight and go to the getaway game the following afternoon. I was having none of it. The game just kept chugging along. 13th and 14th innings were pretty typically uneventful baseball innings for both teams.
Until all of the sudden it wasn’t uneventful. With one out in the top of the 15th inning – officially the longest pro game I’ve ever been to (or care to) – Adam Jones game to the plate. I still have a photo that I took of him warming up on-deck, so I could show my friends how great our seats were. With a 2-2 count, Nate Adcock grooves one that Adam knew exactly what to do with. I’m still not convinced that ball ever landed – it kept going up Up UP into the clear dark Kansas City night sky. FIRST PLACE ORIOLES CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP! FIRST PLACE ORIOLES CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP! I’d never jumped and cheered and hugged and high five’d strangers at a May game like that before and likely never will again.
Jim Johnson came on to finish things up in the bottom of the 15th, and the O’s win 4-3 in a back and forth battle. We hit the road back north to Des Moines, and I can remember looking over at Mrs T sleeping in the passenger seat on the drive home thinking, "I’ve never met someone I want to share moments like this with before." My best Orioles game memory isn’t just my best Orioles memory or baseball memory, but one of my favorite memories with her. We should have stuck around for the next day’s game.
Thanks for letting me share and reminisce. If you made it this far, thanks for reading.