Number One: BUCKle Up- 2012 Orioles Postseason Push
I want to start by saying that the 2012 Orioles will always have a special place in my heart. If it were not for that team, I probably would have never become an Orioles fan as my childhood self decided he wanted to either be a Giants or Nationals fan. Looking back, I probably would have been a lot happier in my high school years had I been a Nats fan. Instead of rooting for a team that went 150-316 during my high school career, I would have spent October of my Junior year watching every postseason game as my team defeated the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the World Series. My opinion on Gerardo Parra would also be quite different.
Anyways, the 2012 Baltimore Orioles are the reason I fell in love with baseball and the O’s. I still vividly remember watching Joe Saunders outduel Yu Darvish in the first-ever American League Wild Card Game and being disappointed when I found out that an overnight camping trip I had signed up for was the same night as game 5 of the ALDS against the Yankees. When my parents picked me up the next morning the first thing I asked my dad was how the game went. I did not like what he had to say. Needless to say, there was no turning back on Orioles fandom at that point. Manny Machado quickly became my favorite player as he was a young phenom that could hit the crap out of the ball and made plays at third base that I did not know were possible. I dressed up as Machado for Halloween one year which essentially meant I put on his shirsey and an Orioles hat that I already owned since I was too lazy and uncreative to think of a real costume. Chris Davis, Adam Jones, and Nate McLouth also quickly won my heart because how can you not love any of those guys?
Of course, the rock of that team was manager Buck Showalter who took over in 2010 when the Orioles were in the midst of sustained mediocrity, to put it kindly. What makes the 2012 team so special is that the O’s had not had any meaningful success on the field in fifteen years and it looked like that trend would continue for eternity. Buck had other ideas as he brought the team over the hump and made them a sustained winner from that season until 2017 behind a core that consisted of Davis, Machado, Jones, JJ Hardy, and Matt Wieters. “Buckle Up” comes in at number one because of the special relationship I had with this team as well as the creativity of using your manager’s name in the slogan. It also accurately represented the team as they won an extraordinary number of one-run games which was a testament to a strong bullpen and timely hitting.