Grabbing some more time at work. My schedule has been a killer lately, and when I’m not working I am sleeping or watching baseball…but not writing about it. I am a horrible blogger. The worst kind.
Anyone who reads this space does not have to be a rocket scientist to know that the outcome of the Yankees/Orioles series was a terrible letdown for me. The Yankees being the Yankees, I wasn’t totally convinced that Baltimore could do this. But they have been so good this year and have been so surprising, I was hoping that streak could continue. I had made a silent promise to myself in fact that if they won the World Series, I would get an oriole tattoo, their big logo (the regular one, not the happy cartoon one, as I am not particlarly a fan of it). I almost made the declaration on Twitter, but even though I know that superstitions are silly, I still find myself being superstitious about baseball; so I kept quiet, thinking that maybe if I said something, they would lose and I would feel terrible. Now I wonder if I should have said something, if they would have won. I am an idiot who loves baseball.
Our cable service had yesterday’s game listed as starting at 5; so I bookmarked it and was looking forward to watching the game after I got home from work. Instead, I turned on the TV just in time to catch the last out of the 9th inning, and see the Yankees celebrate and the Orioles walk, slowly, sadly and heads down back into their clubhouse. It was gut-wrenching and heartbreaking and all of the things one might think it was upon seeing a team you were really rooting for but that wasn’t yours lose their big shot at the Series. I am positive that those Mariners fans who were on the A’s side against Detroit know exactly what I am talking about here.
Me? I was not on the A’s side. I have a foam claw and Detroit is another very peripheral team for me. It’s not that I hate the A’s, I just like Detroit. See also: Red Wings. That said, it was incredibly distressing to me to see the A’s lose. As the last out was recorded and the Tigers celebrated on the field and then in the clubhouse pouring champagne on each other (I loved seeing Doug Fister give Prince Fielder a massive clap on the shoulders as he was being interviewed by TBS, spattered in bubbly), the fans in attendance did a marvelous, beautiful thing; they saluted their team.
I have heard horror stories about A’s fans in Oakland. They are usually fine here; fun to hang out with, even. But I have heard stories of people throwing things at opposing teams, merciless heckling over the outfield walls, and generally just being a bunch of rowdy intimidating crazies. These stories could be true, they could be exaggeration from players, or they could be completely untrue, but they have sort of formed, for me, a vague opinion of A’s fans in their natural habitat. So what happened the other night just broke my heart – but in the happiest possible way – because I know that if it was the Mariners, I would do the same thing. As the Tigers filed into their clubhouse to bottles of celebratory booze, A’s fans stood up in the stands, and started waving flags and cheering and chanting as an entire stadium “Let’s go Oakland!” They did this for at least five minutes that I could tell from the broadcast. It seemed like longer, but that might have been because of the way that the scene affected me. I am going to be honest; throughout the past 5-ish years, there have been only a few moments that have caused a hitch in my throat, moments that have made me so very emotional that I could swear that I was cutting onions even though I wasn’t. As the A’s fans started their loud praise of a team that has been absolutely brilliant this year and a pretty big surprise to everyone, I sat on my couch and I’ll be damned if I didn’t cry a little. I’m getting misty just writing this. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’ve seen and read Moneyball or that the A’s have always been sort of like our frumpy cousin that never gets asked out on a date, but I was so happy for them, in spite of the loss and end of the season. I haven’t been that emotional about a baseball game since the last game of 2009, which culminated in the entire Mariners team walking around the field and hoisting Ichiro and Junior on their shoulders. It was a beautiful thing to see, and completely reforms my opinion of A’s fans, regardless of how ridiculously formed it may have been. What a marvelous year for them.
The Orioles, however, lost on foreign soil and had no such group of people to pay them that kind of tribute. I am actually a little glad that I was not home for the entire game, or I would have been crushed; having to watch all of that to its inevitable conclusion, sharing those 9 innings with Orioles fans on Twitter, and then…*poof!*, gone, just like that. I was really hoping for a Tigers/Orioles ALCS because of my friend Jennifer. It would have made watching the series so much more fun, being diametrically opposed to my newly-baseball-converted friend. I was looking forward to it. Now, I hope that her team the Detroit Tigers can make it to the World Series and defeat the team that defeated my Birds. I don’t know what the chances are of that, but I know whose side I am on, and I am on that side more than I have been in past years. This playoff season has been one of the most exciting ever, and I am happy to be a baseball fan right now.