Why Baseball Is Still America’s Game and A Thank You

Featured, Sports and Bets — July 1, 2013 at 2:00 pm by

by J Fell

Being born and raised in Baltimore, I guess I took it for granted that baseball was always going to be there to bring a smile to my face.  See I was born the same year that the Orioles won the World Series and as I grew up the Birds were always there for a feel good summer moment.  Their successes gave this area a sense of gratification and pride.

Not fan interference ump?  Really?

Not fan interference ump? Really?

But then came 1996. That was when the scrawny left arm of Jeffery Maier reached for a ball right above the weight room forged arm of Tony Tarasco in Yankee Stadium.  At that moment it seems like the world stopped, then it shook and slowly started back up as we collected our emotions after feeling robbed by the sports juggernaut George Steinbrenner created.

The club somehow rebounded to go wire-to-wire in 1997.  But that season ended on the bat of Tony Fernandez, who hit a home run off of Armando Benitez in the 11th inning here at Camden Yards.  The final score was 1-0. The Birds had lost the ALCS in six games

At that point the great prestigious franchise known as the Baltimore Orioles began to fade like a dying star.  The Ravens came to town, and while not immediately successful, took the crown as the dominate Bird in the hearts of native Marylanders everywhere.  The Orioles, meanwhile, went through managerial changes and million and one longshot additions and subtractions from the roster.  We endured the pit stops of Albert Belle, Sammy Sosa, and Vladimir Guerrero  before they thankfully decided to hang up their cleats.  We wanted the world for Melvin Mora.  We cheered for Miggy.  Finally exhausted and disappointed, we left the pews of our great baseball cathedral known as Camden Yards with only a few true Oriole stragglers, most probably drunk from the numerous Baltimore bars.   The other fans in the seats seemed to be tourist or fans of the opposing club. Yet others were just local businesses dragging their out-of-town clients into the games just to see our beautiful park.  Unfortunately the quality of the home town team didn’t match the architectural genius of the Yard.  We honestly could have attracted more people to an Auqa-net Hairspray sale in Dundalk than a baseball game at OPACY.

"Down, set, Blue 22 Razor, Blue 22 Razor,  HUT, HUT!!!!"

“Down, set, Blue 22 Razor, Blue 22 Razor, HUT, HUT!!!!”

Many say that the NFL has taken over as the dominate sport in this country.  They say  it is for us what the gladiator games were to Rome.  But baseball is still the purest of any sport there is.  The schedule of 162 games is the equivalent of an athletic symphony, it peaks and flows then builds to the great climax known as the Fall Classic.  While football collides men like a city intersection without a working traffic light, baseball brings a level of peace back into our lives.  It’s tough to express in words what feelings baseball captures in a person, but think of the gleam in the eyes of Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, and Ray Loitta in the flick Field of Dreams.  This childhood game reminds us bigger and faster isn’t always better, and that it’s the little things in life that make all the difference.  Home runs are great, but how many of those bloop singles have won games?

"Bro, listen, any second these dead dudes are gonna walk out of this corn field and play baseball with us.  I swear, man."

“Bro, listen, any second these dead dudes are gonna walk out of this corn field and play baseball with us. I swear, man.”

This brings us back to present day. This weekend’s final game of the home series against those high and mighty Yanks had something in the air.  As the stadium filled to capacity this evening, O’s fans held their collective breath for nine innings, only to exhale despite Jim Johnson making us all squirm in our seats in fear of another blown save.

But he didn’t.  We won and there’s that warm feeling in your heart.

fells o's win

And the one thing I realized while watching the game was that our city lifted this team.  The cheers (yep we had to get our Seven Nation Army chant in) came at the right times with the subliminal message that we all believe, we all need this.  If you would have told me five years ago that the O’s would have been like this, then I would have told you to stop lying and torturing me, then I might have asked if death by paper cuts was an option instead of your mind games.

So, I like many was an Angelos  basher.  I mocked him, as I felt he had taken something from me, something I had held so dear and he just ran it into the ground.  It seems he was just a rich man who wanted to own a team to “just have it”.

In this day and age with an unforgiving media and the likes of ESPN, who make long-lasting stories out of irrelevant events linked to athletes (Like Bret Farve’s junk shots and the fact they must have hundreds of people analyzing stupid tweets by third string kickers on Canadian football teams), it seems we always want to say and propagate what’s bad in sports.  It’s rare that we say that we’re wrong.

Well I haven’t heard anyone say this. . .

Thank you Peter Angelos for listening.  Thank you for hiring the right people and letting them do what they do best.  Thank you for the past year and a half of amazing baseball, and here’s to a new era of Black and Orange.


One Comment

  1. Love Dem O’s but difference is that I will sit and watch any NFL game, but I would rather go for a car ride with Aaron Hernandez, than sit through any other baseball game than the Birds.

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