The dream over every major league team and player is to win a world series. For the 2012 Baltimore Orioles, that dream came to an end yesterday evening as the Birds fell to the NY Yankees 3-1 in the deciding game of the American League Division Series. Since that time I’ve thought long and hard at how I’d pen this particular column, and quite honestly I’m not quite sure I’ve decided as of yet! Quite honestly it’s almost pointless to write a formal game recap as has been done all season because there’s nothing to build on for today’s game, or tomorrow’s, or for that of the day after. There’s no breakdown of who’s starting tonight for the Orioles and who’ll oppose him. There’s just…nothing…for now.
However for old time’s sake I suppose we should go over what happened. The Orioles’ season is done for one reason and one reason only: CC Sabathia. When you only put up four hits against most pitchers in the postseason you’re probably going to lose worse than 3-1. This series was marked by great starting pitching on both sides, and the Orioles’ Jason Hammel certainly held up his end of the bargain last night. Hammel’s line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K. I suppose it’s worth striking what I said above about losing when you only post four hits on a pitcher!
I was prepared to write about how the Orioles struggled with runners in scoring position, however in an ironic twist of fate they had better numbers than New York in this game. The O’s went 2-for-6 while New York was only 1-for-4. As I said, this entire series showcased great starting pitching, which also means that hits and runs were tough to come by. The Orioles felt that they had made some progress in terms of runs in the sixth inning when Nate McLouth sent a deep shot towards right field…however the ball appeared to go just to the foul side of the pole. Buck Showalter came out to argue, and to their credit the umpires went and reviewed the play; to no avail of course. In fairness, television replays were somewhat inconclusive. However on a closeup shot by TBS the ball did appear to slightly change it’s trajectory as it passed the foul pole, which would indicate that it might have brushed it. If we’re going by the NFL’s terminology, there wasn’t enough visible evidence to overturn the call on the field. That would have tied the game at one; instead McLouth struck out on Sabathia’s low-and-away slider on the next pitch.
However those are the breaks. As we’re told in Bull Durham, “…some days you win, some days you lose, and some days it rains.” Unfortunately the Orioles lost on what ended up being the last day. However let us not forget that this team is affectionately known as the “Fighting Showalters.” They play until the final out and they don’t give up. Lew Ford‘s RBI-single in the 8th gave the Birds some life and cut New York’s lead to 3-1. The O’s would end up loading the bases and posing a moderate threat to Sabathia and New York, however McLouth struck out and Hardy grounded out to end the inning. Yet that typified the 2012 Orioles in that they didn’t give up. And if was the unlikeliest of guys, Lew Ford, that drove that run in to keep the rally going.
The Orioles went quietly in the 9th, with Matt Wieters recording the final out of the game and of the 2012 season. You almost wish that this game was played at Camden Yards so that the Orioles fans could give this team a well-deserved curtain call and a cheer. However instead we were treated to the New York Yankees dousing themselves with champagne after the game. However the parking lots at Camden Yards were full of Orioles fans when the team returned to Baltimore in the wee hours of this morning to welcome them home in a manner that’s very much well-deserved.
So the 2012 season is now in the past. This might sound cliche, however it’s amazing to me that it’s now October when I can remember watching the first spring training game. If my memory serves me, the Orioles lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates that night 10-3. My Dad asked me that night if “this was what we could expect for most of the season.” Now we know that the definitive answer to that question was a resounding “NO.” (And for the record, that was my answer that night as well.) However at that time we had no idea that 2012 would be a year to remember for so long in Birdland. And as so many people have already said, this was only the beginning.
While at some point I’ll post a formal season recap, it’s worth mentioning right now that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Many naysayers are still saying that the 2012 Orioles were lucky, and that their appearance in the postseason would be a one-and-done kind of deal in that they’ll go back to mediocrity next season. It’s up to the 2013 Orioles to continually prove those people wrong. But that’s another story for another day which we’ll cover this winter. We all know that the mojo of the 2012 Orioles was to never say die and to play until the final out. Thus without advocating or opposing any political stance or figure, I feel that the closing lines of Senator Edward Kennedy’s concession speech (at the 1980 Democratic National Convention) are fitting at this moment in Orioles’ history:
“…the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”