The dream is dead. The Baltimore Orioles ended their postseason run today in the least glorious fashion imaginable: a 4-game sweep in the ALCS. I know I should probably be happy with how far they got, but I’m just not.
Three years ago this eventuality was unimaginable. From 1998 through 2011, the Orioles never even had a winning season, let alone any playoff action. Those were really tough years. It doesn’t help that the American League East is an impossible division; the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Rays, the Blue Jays. It’s not wonder the Orioles couldn’t get their footing. But then, late in the 2010 season, something happened. That something is named “Buck Showalter.” Buck took over as manager after professional bad-decision-maker Dave Trembley was released. And things started changing.
The team didn’t become a success overnight. The 2011 season was still pretty rough, but it was easier to find the silver lining in such a youthful, exciting team. The following year the Orioles broke out in a big way. It was the first time in a long time when my expectations for the season were practically non-existent, but I’ll be damned if the boys in orange didn’t surprise me and end up in the postseason for the first time in 15 years. It was an amazing experience that was tragically cut short by the Yankees in the ALDS, but I took a lot of positives from the experience.
The 2014 regular season was even better. The Orioles were dominant throughout. With 96 wins they actually won the division outright for the first time in 17 years (though the abysmal showings by every other team in the AL East certainly helped). As October began, it finally felt like this was our year.
The ALDS did nothing to lessen this experience. The Orioles steam-rolled right over the Detroit Tigers and their excellent rotation of starting pitchers. There were a couple edge-of-your-seat moments, but the team looked in control throughout. But what I wasn’t necessarily thinking about was the fact that the Royals were doing the same thing.
Kansas City was barely on my radar as the post-season began. Surely they would lose the play-in game against Oakland. No? Well, there’s no way they will beat the Angels in the division series. The Angels have to win, that way I can watch an Orioles playoff game in LA. Oh they did lose? The Royals swept them? Surely a few days off with kill the Royals’ momentum, no? Turns out: no.
Because the Royals don’t just have momentum. They have God’s hand itself pushing them forward. I was so focused on this being “our year” that I didn’t really think about the fact that this was the first playoff team the Royals have fielded since 1985. That’s 28 seasons! How can the Orioles compete with that. And now I’m in the unenviable position of kind of hoping for the Royals to win, since the Giants and the Cardinals have both won too often in recent years.
I guess I’ll just end my baseball season here, just like my team. I’m having a tougher time staying positive this year. The playoffs have quickly become an attainable feature of an Orioles season, so failure hurts even more now that I expect them to do well. I mean, come on. A sweep? That’s embarrassing. You can blame the Royals’ momentum or the number of injured of ineligible players on the Orioles, but the truth is that there is no justification. Best to just accept the inadequacy and move on. In a week or two I hope to look back on this season and see all of the great aspects, but for now those kind of elude me. There’s always next year, as they say. I hope that’s true. I’m not calling for Buck’s head. Yet.