There are certain teams in baseball that I hope do well. Not necessarily root for them, but would like to see them win a division title, a 90 win season or just a run to get their fans excited. The Pittsburgh Pirates are an example. They have been around for 100 years and have a long, rich history. Baseball is better off when the Pirates are good. Same goes for the oldest team in the Majors, the Cincinnati Reds. I even had a soft spot in my heart for (gasp) the 2004 Red Sox. I had a great uncle who lived in Worcester, MA and was a life-long Sox fan. He died about three weeks after Boston had won the World Series. I was glad to see his team win it all before he passed on.
Which brings me to the Baltimore Orioles.
From 1966 through 1983, there was perhaps no more successful franchise in the sport than the Orioles. They appeared in three straight World Series, winning it in 1970; won two others in 1966 and 1983 and appeared in one other Fall Classic in 1979 losing to the aforementioned Pirates. Baltimore fielded such legendary names as Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer and Cal Ripken, Jr. along with a laundry list of All-Stars and award winners managed by Hall of Famer Earl Weaver during most their run of excellence. They even had their own style of play, a phrase coined by Cal Ripken, Sr. called “The Oriole Way” which emphasized an adherence to fundamentals at all levels of the organization with the belief that when the skills of older players diminished, younger players could seamlessly take their place. After a stretch of mediocrity with a dash of downright awful (21 game losing streak to start the 1988 season), the Birds returned to prominence in 1996 by winning the American League Wild Card and in 1997 by winning the American League East. Both times, the team lost in the American League Championship Series.
Since 1998, the Baltimore Orioles have not had a winning record. That statement is beyond shameful; it is sheer lunacy.
This is the franchise that gave the world Camden Yards, a simply breath-taking ballpark even almost 20 years after it opened which spawned the phase of new stadiums for everyone. I have been there twice; if you call yourself a baseball fan you must go before you are too senile to appreciate its beauty. They have a fan base that is second to none, steeped in tradition that simply deserves better. They have the resources to compete year in and year out. Baltimore is a nice city with such gleaming suburbs as Aberdeen and Havre de Grace (that is pronounced how?). It was also the setting for one of the best shows in TV history, “Homicide: Life on the Street”. Hopefully, the recent hiring of Dan Duquette can jump start a proud franchise and along with Buck Showalter can finally end the madness and turn the WO’s back to the O’s.