Baltimore Orioles Magic from soup to nuts


It dawned on me yesterday that Birds Watcher has the opportunity to boost readership, albeit perhaps only for a short period of time. There are a lot of fans out there who probably aren’t very familiar with the Baltimore Orioles (or Kansas City for that matter) or Orioles Magic due to the fact that they don’t have the national following that NY, Boston, Chicago, or LA teams have. To anyone who might be reading us for the first time just to inform themselves about Baltimore’s team, welcome.

The O’s have of course had exactly three winning seasons since last appearing in the ALCS – 2012, 2013, and 2014. However now it’s almost as if they’re back and better than ever. Many folks under a certain age probably only look at the Orioles’ organization as losers. And with good reason for sure; for so long it seems that this organization would only be in the news when they’d commit a newsworthy folly against a team like Boston or New York. And to be clear, there were numerous along the way.

However even before that, some folks might be surprised to learn that the O’s were the benchmark for winning organizations from 1966-84. Nobody won more games at the big league level. The Orioles boasted the greatest third baseman of all-time in Brooks Robinson, and one of the greatest pitchers of all-time in Jim Palmer. (To be clear, many folks would submit Philadephia’s Mike Schmidt as the greatest third baseman ever, and it’s a valid point. However the begin all end all of that discussion is the fact that Robinson won 17 consecutive gold gloves.) The Birds also won the World Series in 1966, 1970, and 1983.

The Orioles are also a franchise of “moments” as it were. Certainly the World Series winning moments are up there on lists of greatest moments, however there are plenty of other more ordinary things that qualify as well. In 1979 Doug DeCinces started what’s now known as “Orioles Magic” with a walk off home run against the Detroit Tigers at Memorial Stadium. Legendary manager Earl Weaver stood at home plate in tears on the season’s final day in 1982 as he retired. The 1989 “why not” season, which briefly rekindled the concept of Orioles Magic, and of course the closing of the venerable Memorial Stadium in 1991 were big time events.

When Camden Yards opened in 1992 it became “The Ballpark that forever changed Baseball.” And it was filled for some time – with Orioles fans at that. It probably reached it’s peak during the 1995 season when the great Cal Ripken Jr. was chasing the consecutive games played streak. The most important and well-known game at the stadium occurred on September 6, 1995 when he played his 2131st consecutive game (a streak that would reach 2632 – still a major league record).

But after that, there was very little to cheer about at the yard. Sure when teams like New York and Boston came to town the ballpark would be full – of visiting fans. However that rapidly changed in 2012 when the Orioles shocked the world and returned to the post season with their first winning season since 1997. That year the Birds also unveiled statues of their hall of famers at Camden Yards, with Adam Jones hitting a dramatic homer in the eighth inning of the game when they unveiled Cal Ripken’s statue to give the Orioles the lead.

But that was only an appetizer for this year’s team. Free agent aquisition Nelson Cruz set the tone for the season when he homered on Opening Day at Camden Yards. The two snapshot “moments” thus far at least have been the Orioles winning the AL East for the first time since 1997, and Delmon Young’s bases-clearing double the other day to give the Orioles the lead against Detroit in the ALDS.

Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

In clinching the AL East, the Orioles exorcised demons held by fans from years ago. And perhaps the best part of an otherwise anti-climactic game was that the players seemed to get the fact that it had been so long for the Orioles fans. After briefly celebrating in their clubhouse with champagne and beer, the players continued that tradition out on the field in front of the fans – often including some of them in the celebration. Short of a World Series victory, that might not be something that’s topped this year.

And the Delmon Young three-RBI double; quite honestly that was a moment that any Orioles fan at Camden Yards that day will always remember. While I try to call these games down the middle for Birds Watcher as best I can, I’ll be honest in saying that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen something that dramatic in a game. And it all came together and happened in a flash, which is partially how Orioles Magic works.

So this team is something really special to Baltimore right now. It’s a team that’s seemingly found a way to reconnect with it’s fans after so many years in the abys. As I said, it’s a story that everyday people should be able to get behind, as it’s about as uplifting as they come. And the maestro of this great orchestra you might ask? WILLIAM NATHANIEL SHOWALTER.