First off, from me and mine to you and yours, I wish all of Birdland a very happy Easter this morning! As the Baltimore Orioles break camp and get set for Tuesday’s opening day game in Tampa, we see a baseball team with high expectations for the first time in 14-15 years. When I say high expectations, I mean that based on last year’s results. In truth the expectations of any season should be based on the potential as put forth in the final roster and the coaching staff. But that aside, these O’s took their fans on a magical run in 2012, and I feel that we’re seeing that reflected now in the excitement level of the fan base as we get back to baseball for 2013. But before we begin anew, is it not worth looking back just one more time?
I wrote a formal season recap of 2012 on October 18th of last year, so I’m not going to do that again. However there are a few things that I’ve taken with me from 2012 that I’ll mention. Towards the end of April the Orioles provided us with the first taste of Orioles magic as they came from two behind in the last of the ninth to defeat the Oakland A’s on a Wilson Betemit walk off homer. That obviously pales in comparison to possibly the most historical game in team history on May 6th when Chris Davis got the win at Fenway Park as the O’s defeated Boston in 18 innings. There were also memorable wins against Philadelphia, Detroit, and New York over the course of the summer.
I said this at the time, and I’ll say it again; the most important win of the 2012 season came on an August Sunday afternoon in Tampa. The O’s defeated the Rays 1-0 in extra innings that day on a Taylor Teagarden RBI-double. That separated the O’s from Tampa just a bit in the standings at that time, which is why I said that it might be viewed as the most important win of the season. I suppose that’s a matter of opinion, and it’s certainly debatable. However Tampa finished only three games behind the Orioles in the season standings. Sure you might say that there’s more than one game of wiggle room there, and you’d be right. But if you give that game to Tampa with all other things being the same, the Tampa is then battling out the waazoo with the Birds in the season’s final series to get to the wild card game. While they certainly did battle for sure, there was nothing on the line for Tampa for the most part.
I suppose that the playoff experience itself will be the most noteworthy aspect of 2012 in the end. During the month of September the Orioles hosted several “BUCKle Up rallies” around the community to interact with the fans and to get them excited. Many cities might have scoffed at that type of thing, however Baltimore had gotten so used to baseball not mattering in September…I think the team wanted the fans to take cues from them on how to behave. Ultimately if your goal is to win a world series, the Birds fell short of that goal. However they allowed the city to fall in love with them again just as they did in the “glory days.” I think that’s perhaps the biggest takeaway from 2012, and I believe you’ll see it reflected in the stands in 2013.