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Baltimore and the Birds: OK, that one hurt | STAFF COMMENTARY

Ouch.

Know someone who seems miserable right now? We mean really, really unhappy, and they showed no signs of pain before, let’s say, Saturday and Sunday and especially Tuesday evening? Is it possible they’ve recently damaged a television screen? Have they stopped wearing certain orange and black attire around the house? Do they mutter words like “sweep” or “stupid Rangers” or “wild card teams have an unfair advantage” without further explanation?

Do not panic. This is normal. Well, it’s normal for those who have followed the Baltimore Orioles this season and had their hopes raised by what can best be described as a breakout year only to have them abruptly dashed in recent days.

How much fun were the O’s in 2023? They were young. They were playful. They were talented. And they were selfless. It has been an absolute joy to watch Adley and Gunnar, Jorge, Ryan (and Ryan), Austin, Anthony, Cedric and the rest play baseball with a youthful exuberance one rarely sees outside rec league sports. They won 101 regular season games, the second best regular season result in all of Major League Baseball. They won the American League East. And then came the Texas Rangers who — and let’s put this as delicately and sensitively as possible — just leveled them like a bulldozer, culminating with a 7-1 drubbing in Texas on Tuesday night, a game that was essentially over by the second inning.

But we are not here to pick at that wound. We leave that to the professional baseball writers and their cruel fact-filled analyses. Rather, we are here to remind Orioles loyalists and their families that the sun will come out tomorrow, as a certain optimistic orphan sang repeatedly in a 1977 hit Broadway musical that has nothing to do with baseball whatsoever. Here are our top five words of consolation for Orioles fans who are in the dumps.

  1. We have the rest of MLB exactly where we want them. No, seriously. Listen up, kids, and ask the old-timers about 1969, when the Birds won 109 regular season games, their best ever, but lost the World Series in five games to a team barely out of expansion (Hint: It’s a New York team not called the Yankees). Tough year, but what a decade that followed: The O’s won the World Series the following year and proceeded to dominate baseball for more than a decade with five season-capping appearances in either the Series or American League Championships through 1983.
  2. The “no ego” trend can continue. The Orioles are well aware they fell short. They will come back hungry. Nothing helps team spirit and drive quite like knowing you are not perfect. They are scrappy. It’s one of the traits that made them so loveable. And you can bet they won’t come back with prima donnas.
  3. Orioles’ ownership has a bit less leverage in the ongoing dispute over signing a long-term lease at Camden Yards. Let’s face it, the conduct by Orioles Chairman and CEO John Angelos has been a bit unseemly at times. A World Series appearance might have made him even more insufferable.
  4. There’s still the Baltimore Ravens. Set aside that horrible loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday, the football portion of Charm City’s weekend from hell, and the team’s continued injury problem. Baltimore’s NFL team is still in the hunt. We still have a “bird” in the game, just a different species.
  5. Less screen time; more family time. World events have taken a pretty dark turn of late. We ought to focus on the stuff that really matters. Sorry, does that sound like “Annie” again? Here’s another way to look at it: Take consolation in rooting against the Rangers. You think Baltimoreans can’t hold a grudge? Ask the folks who own Mayflower moving vans.

Finally, let’s just remember that baseball is designed to break your heart. We didn’t come up with that, A. Bartlett Giamatti, the late MLB commissioner, did. “The game begins in the spring,” he wrote, “when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.”

Exactly so.

Baltimore Sun editorial writers offer opinions and analysis on news and issues relevant to readers. They operate separately from the newsroom.

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