When Birds ruled baseball’s roost

No young people believe this but the Baltimore Orioles of my baseball-memory infancy were very good and the New York Yankees were god-awful bad.

For reals.

Was reminded of the Glory Days when the Orioles won 10 straight and 11 of 13 right before the All-Star Break. This was cause for great joy—even though it left Baltimore at only 46-46 and last in the American League East, the best division in baseball and a serious problem for my team, the O’s, especially since “we” aren’t very good.

It should be noted that the Yankees, no more than late-60s and early-70s birdseed for Baltimore, are in these more modern times 13 games better than the second-best team in the AL East, currently Toronto.

So not only is my team bad, but the other team, the Evil Empire, is playing like everyone on the roster is a direct offspring of Zeus.

The ultimate indignity.

If you are loyal to a bad team—I smell what you’re stepping in, Texas Rangers fans—the summer can be over before it starts. We in Birdland, the modern day Mudville, have been bad so long that instead of “Wait ’til next year,” I like to say, “Wait ’til next decade.”

More appropriate.

We’ve had issues since the early 1990s when Peter Angelos became the team’s primary owner. Now all Baltimore fans would like to “disowner” him, trust me. Since he started writing the checks, it has been feast (playoffs in 1996 and 1997, 2012, 2014, and 2016) but mostly famine, and by famine I mean rotting carcasses (or carcaii if you prefer) across a dry and barren plain.

Consider that since 2018, the Orioles’ season-wins totals are 47, 54, 25 (COVID season, when we were 25-35 and had a respectable-for-us .417 winning percentage!), and 52 last year. Thank goodness the 2022 bunch should sweep past that mark in early August — I hope.

It’s easier to be a fan of typhoid.

It started going downhill October 9, 1996, Game 1 of the American League Championship Series for heaven’s sake, with Baltimore leading 4-3, bottom of the eighth, when that little kid Jeffrey Maier interfered with Derek Jeter’s fly ball to right that Tony Tarasco had a bead on against the wall until Maier’s chubby little gloved hand reached out and snatched it. Umpire Richie Garcia ruled it a homer; later Garcia said it should have been fan interference, and by “later” I mean after O’s manager Davey Johnson had been ejected and after Baltimore had lost, 5-4, in 11 on a Bernie Williams homer.

Of course New York would win the Series, and that began a quarter century of baseball’s version of Taps played on a regular basis around Camden Yards.

But I’m old enough to remember that Baltimore was the winningest team in the big leagues from 1960-1983. No one won more games.

Beat the Dodgers in 1966 for the World Series title, Cincinnati in 1970 (this is when I was old enough to start remembering), and dough-popped Philadelphia in 1983, when Cal Ripken Jr. was a rookie and stabbed the final liner to end it.

Joy! But …

Reagan was president then. Tootsie was a hit movie.

And Ripken’s now been retired for 21 seasons.

I’d say the new has worn off.

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu