September 28, 2011 - Part 5

Paul: I was useless at work all day Wednesday. I really felt like I had spent the last two days on a 48-hour bender, running a marathon, or both. I could barely keep my eyes open. I had a pounding headache that didn’t go away the entire day. My voice was nearly shot and I felt like I couldn’t keep myself hydrated no matter how much water I drank. Worst yet was that my left hand was visibly bruised below the thumb. Pain shot up my thumb every time I typed on my computer keyboard. A co-worker heard my raspy voice and saw me wince in pain upon when trying to type, so she inquired as to what was wrong with me. I deadpanned that I had been cheering too hard at the Orioles’ game last night. She laughed, obviously assuming that I was joking (little did she know). By 4:30, I could barely keep my eyes open and felt like I was running entirely on adrenaline and anticipation of that night’s game. The tribulations of being a diehard fan… Tim: Work on Wednesday was fairly normal, considering I was just looking to get to the end of the day. The difference was the excitement for the most important game that Orioles would play in September in 14 years. The goal was to get home and get down to OPACY as soon as possible.

Paul: I got home a little before 6 and after throwing on my usual game day attire (sandals, shorts, Orioles Jersey, and Orioles hat), I was starting to feel better or at the very least, feeling awake. The beer I downed in about five minutes on my way out the door probably didn’t hurt either. You go to 60-some games a year and by July, you have no desire to show up to the stadium any more than five minutes before game time. This was no ordinary game, however, so we were out the door and on our way down Eutaw Street by 6:30. We got to our seats in Section 82 in Lower Left Field and surveyed the scene. As had been the case the prior two nights and anytime the Red Sox are in town, the rows of seats immediately behind the 3rd base visitor’s dugout was filled with Red Sox fans. The rest of the stadium had a better mix. Throughout the day we had seen on various Orioles message boards and blogs a certain sense of excitement building for tonight’s game, so there was hope that we wouldn’t be vastly outnumbered by Boston fans.

Not long after we sat down, a father and his two grown sons, who had been cheering loudly with us the night before, walked over and took their seats. The father looked like I felt – tried and worn out. We gave them a “we feel your pain” look and chatted about the game as we waited for the game to begin.

Tim: The game got underway with a crowd that was noticeably 50 percent Orioles fans and 50 percent Red Sox fans. The prior two games had good fan support for the Orioles but it was still a majority Red Sox crowd. We were sitting in our usual lower left field seats. A few minutes into the first inning, I spot two Red Sox fans who sit down in the section next to us. They obviously don’t have tickets for these seats. This happens a lot throughout the season and unless it is a complete asshole sitting in the wrong seats, it’s not a problem. Tonight, it was a problem. While trying to get an Orioles chant started, the two Red Sox fans started looking over towards us and trying to start the annoying, “Let’s Go Red Sox” chant. They also seemed to get irritated with any cheering towards the Orioles, despite the game taking place in Baltimore. But that’s the typical Red Sox fan for you.

Paul: It wasn’t just the chants. It was the constant looking over at us as we cheered the Orioles and yelling stuff over at our section and anyone else cheering on the Orioles. Red Sox fans just can’t understand why all baseball fans wouldn’t automatically root for their team. It would be sad if it wasn’t so infuriating.

Tim: After having enough of these two guys acting houlier than thou in our stadium, I decided to go sit behind them. I wasn’t going to taunt them or cause trouble - I was just going to cheer on the Orioles as loud as I could. It only took a half inning for the two to become annoyed with me. They got up and acted as if they were just going to get something to eat. I took satisfaction in getting them to leave there seats solely by cheering on my team. Needless to say, they didn’t return.

Paul: We had a group behind us who weren’t really baseball fans and seemed to be at the game on a work outing. I operated under the assumption that they were from Texas the entire night, but I can’t tell you where I got that from. They were endlessly amused by Tim and his intensity for the game. When Tim moved over a section to sit behind the Red Sox fans, one of the women in their group leaned in and asked me why this game was so important. I explained to her that if the Red Sox lose, they either lose the wild card or have to play a one-game playoff for it. For being a non-baseball fan, she seemed to grasp this. She then asks, “So, if the Orioles win, they are the Wild Card team?” I laughed. It was a perfectly legitimate question and given the way O’s fans were treating the game, it was also a reasonable assumption to make. I told her, somewhat sheepishly, that the O’s wouldn’t make the playoffs, but we would love to keep the Red Sox out of the playoffs just the same. She seemed to understand that sentiment.

A few minutes later, the Texans are all focused on Tim’s antics and the same women asks me why I didn’t go over there with him. I laugh and tell her that I am not that brave. She suggests that maybe I am just smarter. I tell her she is probably right. That’s two astute observations from this non-baseball watching spectator from Texas in a five minute period. At that point, she had already done enough to prove she got baseball and baseball fandom better than 99% of the Red Sox fans in the stadium.

Tim: The Red Sox took an early 1–0 lead before the Orioles fought back to take the lead with a 2 run homer from JJ Hardy, his 30th of the year. I was all worked up at this point, having been annoyed by the two Red Sox fans I ran off earlier. Before JJ hits the home run, I am half way down the aisle because I think that some kids are being kicked out of their seats by some Red Sox fans. In a normal state of mind, I don’t even notice this, none the less take action. But I pop up and head down to the seats right as JJ hits the home run. Turns out there was no issue at all regarding seats and Red Sox fans and the Hardy home run made me not feel quite as stupid. Adreneline is a hell of a drug.

Paul: In the fourth inning, things started to get weird on the field. Simon retired the first batter he faced, then let up a double to Marco Scutaro on 7 pitches, before getting the next batter out. Gary Thorne’s favorite shortstop advanced to third on the second out, but it looked like Simon was well-positioned to make it out of the fourth with the lead. I was yelling words of encouragement at Alfredo from one hundred yards away when all of a sudden a loud roar from the Red Sox fans took over all the other noise in thee stadium. I look up and Scutaro is jogging home to score the game-tying run. I turn to Tim, still trying to grasp what was going on, and ask: “They called a balk?” I already knew the answer.

Tim: Like another call later in the night, this was the correct call but I doubt I will see two of these calls in one season ever again, none the less in one game.

Paul: As an O’s fan, you look for signs that the game is about to unravel and get away from the team. An unseen balk is a good sign. An unseen balk followed by the third baseman booting a routine groundball is like the Bat Signal for impending Orioles’ doom. Mark Reynolds’ error increased the tension and empowered Red Sox fans who also sensed the tides turning. Lucky for us, Mike Avilles didn’t get the memo that you never run on Matt Wieters and was gunned down trying to steal second to end the inning.

Tim: Matt Wieters continued to be the most underrated player in all of baseball until the final game, with this play being the predecessor to his heads up 9th inning force out at second.

Paul: Approaching the halfway point in the game in the 5th inning, Tim and I repeated to one another that we just needed Simon to get through the 5th with the game tied and we would be in great shape. That’s all we wanted out of Simon on this night – pitch five innings, keep the team in the game, and then give way to the O’s expanded bullpen that had been pitching so well. As soon as it looked like Simon was heading in that direction, Dustin Pedroia despoited a fastball into the seats a section over and several rows down from us in left field.

Even from all the way out in left field, we could see that the ball little Dustin hit was a good foot over his head. Simon missed his target terribly and Pedroia made him pay by dispensing the high, inside fastball into the left field seats. I dropped my head in disappointment, before looking up to watch the Red Sox fans behind the third base dugout clap and exchange high-fives. I turn to Tim. “Fuck that – we were going to have to score more anyway. I’m not worried.” Tim nods. I don’t know if I was trying to convince myself or him.

Tim: The pitch to Pedroia was the worst pitch Simon threw all night. But like Paul said, we sensed something. Usually our good pitches get hit around. Anyone could have taken Simon’s pitch and crushed it. Little Dustin did just that. But there was still a sense of calm out in left field.

Paul: Simon would let up a single to the next batter, ending his night. I stand to stretch my legs and clap loudly as Simon retreats into the dugout. I subscribe to the theory that you only give the pitcher a standing ovation upon leaving the game if his outing was truly extraordinary – one run over 8 innings, no runs over seven innings, two hits in 7+ innings work, ect. I threw my personal book of fan etiquette out the window for this game however and cheered on Simon as if he had thrown a perfect game, rather than letting up 3 runs over less than 5 innings. I didn’t care. He did enough – he met my expectations – and furthermore I was just hoping that some Red Sox fan would be annoyed by our over the top reaction to Simon’s mediocre performance.

Paul: Troy Patton took over for Simon. A hit and two outs later and the O’s were heading back to the dugout still down only a run. I glanced at the scoreboard to see the Yankees were still handily beating the Rays. For the first time that night, I think I started to worry.

Tim: Troy Patton earned a spot on my 2012 roster (if I were managing) just for his performance on Monday night. Wednesday night reconfirmed my initial feelings.

Paul: Troy Patton pitched a perfect top half of the sixth. The grounds crew began to stir in their dugout next to the right-field scoreboard. Tim checked the weather one his phone and sure enough, storms were heading are way. Storms often appear to be heading our way during a game. Sometimes there is no rain at all. Sometimes it rains, but not enough to stop the game. Until the game is actually delayed, it is pretty difficult to call. Nonetheless, I decided to run out and get one last beer now, in case the game was delayed after the bottom of the 7th when the stadium stops selling beer. I am nothing if not prepared.

Tim: Paul and I are very amateur weather enthusiastics. We understand how to read radar, most of the time better than the professionals broadcasting on TV. It wasn’t a matter of when it was going to rain but how much and how long the delay would be.

Paul: Remember what I said earlier about signs of impending doom that only Orioles’ fans would recognize? We had two more of those signs in the bottom halves of the fifth and sixth innings in the form of missed offensive opportunities. After doubling in the fifth and reaching third with only one out, Reynolds was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a Nolan Reimold groundball. In the 6th, Hardy and Nick Markakis walked back-to-back leading off the inning. Vladimir Guerrero then stepped to the plate. I couldn’t even get the words “he better not hit into 2” out of my mouth before Vlad did just that. I like Vlad a lot and he truly has been one of the good guys in baseball over the past two decades. However, I definitely won’t miss his complete lack of patience at the plate and penchant for hitting into rally-killing double plays in 2012.

Tim: To be fair to Vlad, the double play was well executed by the Red Sox but he was a constant source of those throughout the year. I’ll be glad when the Orioles finally get by the stage where they feel the need to play the veteran everyday just out of respect.

Paul: You can’t judge how a game is going only by the scoreboard. Some nights the O’s might be up by two runs in the 6th, but everything else points to a complete momentum shift upcoming. The inverse is also true – the team could be down by five runs in the fourth inning, but there are enough positive signs that indicate that the O’s still have a good shot at winning. You have to read the tea leaves. Up until the 7th inning, these signs seemed to be neutral more than anything. The O’s were avoiding what are normally signs of oncoming disaster, but at the same time, there weren’t a whole lot of positive indicators pointing in the O’s direction.

That seemed to change in the 7th when Troy Patton walked Pedroia and then let up a hit to David Ortiz. The Ortiz ball wasn’t hit hard and landed in front of and to the side of Adam Jones in centerfield. Pedroiaraced around second and was easily heading into third, when all of a sudden I looked up and shouted “Ortiz is going for two!” Jones saw the big designated hitter chugging towards second, made a controlled throw towards second base, where the tag was applied to easily retire Ortiz. The move can’t be described as anything but a base running blunder. It also reeked of desperation. Here was David Ortiz, his team up by a run late in the game, inexplicably trying to stretch a single into a double in the hopes of slightly improving the Red Sox chances of scoring two runs that inning. Instead, he created the second out of the inning and allowed the Orioles to walk Adrian Gonzalez intentionally for the second time that night. Had Ortiz stayed at first, there is a good chance the O’s pitch to Gonzalez rather than taking their changes with the rookie catcher Ryan Lavarnway with the bases loaded and only one out. Instead, Ortiz’ blunder allowed Gonzalez to be walked and Willy Eyre replaced Patton to induce a Lavarnway groundout to end the inning.

Tim: Lavarnway’s two home runs on Tuesday night ending up paying off dividends for the Orioles as his promotion to batting fifth allowed Adrian Gonzalez to be worked around all night.

Paul: Alfredo Aceves made his way out of the visitor’s bullpen to pitch the bottom half of the 7th, which was good news on several accounts. First of all, getting Lester out of the game after six innings and being down by only one run was a minor success. It gave the O’s two innings to work with in between Lester and Jonathan Paplebon in the ninth. Secondly, Aceves had thrown 36 pitches in 3.2 innings the night before, putting him at 83 pitches in 6.1 innings pitched over the past 3 days. Aceves had a heavy workload for the Red Sox all year, but running a guy out there for the fourth day in a row after throwing 86 pitches the past three days was just asking for trouble. We had seen Aceves warming up during the top half of the sixth but figured there was no way Francona was going to use him again, but there he was.

Tim: I was pleased that the Red Sox had to warm up before the rains came. It seems like the O’s are always on that end of the stick. Another of the foreshadowing omens of the night.

Paul: Before Aceves even reached the mound, the skies opened up and the rain started to fall. A quick check of the weather on my phone confirmed that a storm was directly above us and we were in line for a good 30 minutes to an hour of rain. The O’s ground crew obviously came to the same conclusion. Aceves finished with his warm up pitches as the rain picked up its pace and the umpires called for the tarp. We were heading to a rain delay.

I got up to get out of the rain and retreated into the tunnels. Tim always gets on me for my lack of awareness at games. No matter how much I am paying attention, I have a tendency to get the count wrong, get the innings and scores messed up, and just show a general unawareness of what is going on around me. When I got to the tunnel, I turned around to look for Tim, who had been right behind me as we walked up the steps in the stadium, only to see he was nowhere in sight. No problem – I casually sipped on my beer that I was no happy I had gotten a half an inning earlier and waited for Tim to appear out of the throngs of people that were seeking shelter from the rain in the tunnel.

I stood on the second step near an exit and surveyed the scene. I was in a complete haze inside the stadium and had not surveyed the crowd since the game started. The Red Sox fans gathering in the tunnel appeared to be content overall. Some appeared downright giddy, others were more constrained in their joy but seemed no less relieved at how the events of the evening had so far transpired. I glanced at MLB game day on my phone. The Yankees still held a 7–0 lead on the Rays as the game entered the 8th inning. The TV’s in the tunnel turned towards the Phillies-Braves game, which was 3–2 in the 9th inning. I mindlessly watched that game, as everyone else seemed to be doing also, at the same time wondering where in the world Tim had gotten off to.

Tim: I had absolutely no idea where Paul went. He was behind me one minute heading towards the covered seats and gone the next.

Paul: At some point (my sense of time was completely shot at this point so for all I know, I could have been standing there watching the Braves-Phillies game for 15 minutes at that point), I decided to call Tim to see where he was. No answer. I texted him and finally got a response – he was sitting underneath the awning in the section directly above our seats and had been there for the duration of the rain delay. I made my way through the crowd and took the ragging from Tim that I knew I had coming for “stupidly” heading into the tunnel rather than the covered seats when the game was delayed.

Rain delays generally suck. Rain delays this late in a game are especially frustrating. There is usually nothing to do but sit there and try to watch whatever half-assed rain delay entertainment the O’s throw up on the scoreboard (I’ll be perfectly fine if I never see the Major League Baseball produced recap of the 1983 World Series ever again). You’ve been sitting with the same people the entire game and with no new action in the game, there is little if anything new to discuss, so you end up sitting there in virtual silence. This rain delay didn’t start out any differently from that. Tim and I played around on our phones and watched the Braves-Phillies game being shown on TV. The Phillies-Braves game being on helped speed up the rain delay and there was a certain level of excitement as Pete Orr cross the plate on a Chase Utley sacrifice fly to tie the game in the 9th shortly before 10:00 PM.

Tim: I was initially against the idea of airing the Braves/Phillies game on the screens at OPACY. Why not play the Rays vs. Yankees? It worked out for the best and wouldn’t have gone well had the Yankees closed the game but it also made tracking the games progress more of a struggle.

Paul: About 40 minutes into the rain delay, I checked MLB At Bat and saw that the Rays had scored their first run of the game off of a bases loaded walk in the 8th. Even better was that there were no outs in the inning. I relayed the news to Tim, but we both reacted with the level of enthusiasm one would expect from the news that a 7 run lead was now “only” a 6 run lead. The Phillies-Braves game was well into extra innings at this point and for the most part, the stadium’s attention remained focus on that game.

I manually reloaded At Bat (the 3G coverage inside OPACY is pretty bad causing Gameday reloads on At Bat to be very, very delayed at times) and saw that the Rays had scored a second run. No sooner had I loudly announced the second when the third Rays run off the inning crossed the plate. I excitedly relayed the news to Tim who gave the obligatory “come on guys” verbal encouragement to the Rays team that was a thousand miles away. A fan sitting next to us perked is ears up and turned towards the out of town scoreboard to confirm that our reports were true. People were starting to take notice.

Tim: I was so full of energy and enthusiasm that my reactions to each Rays run grew louder and louder. If these fucking Red Sox fans were going to cheer a 5–0 Yankees lead, they sure as hell were going to hear me give them a update for each Rays run.

Paul: I glanced down at my phone. Evan Longoria was up for the Rays with two men still on in the 8th. The Gameday feature, mobile or otherwise, will inform a user immediately with a vague description of the result of an at bat before updating with a full description of what happened. For example, as soon as a batter grounds out, Gameday will inform the user with a description like “Pitch 4: In Play (Outs).” Thirty seconds later it will update to inform you that the batter grounded out to the short stop who threw to first for the out. My eyes were glued on my phone during the Longoria at bat when the description “In Play (Runs)” came up. I yelled (“shrieked” might be more accurate) “In Play, Runs!”. Tim, luckily, understands Gameday language and knew what I met. He looked over my shoulder as we saw the full description come across – “Evan Longoria Home Run (30) to R. Sam Fuld and Sean Rodriquez score.” Tim shouts the news out loud, hopeing to finrom Red Sox and Orioles fans alike of the suddenly close game happing in St. Pete. The fan sitting next to us shakes his head in disbelief. Tim yells at no Red Sox fans in particular: “7–6 in Tampa … it is all falling apart!”

Tim: The amount of satisfaction I got from announcing the Rays comeback was ridiculous. I’ll be the first to admit that. But it was all worth it.

Paul: After the out-of-town scoreboard updates to reflect the 7–6 score in Tampa, the Orioles finally decide to cut into the Tampa-Yankee game by showing a replay of the Longoria homerun. Those that haven’t been paying attention are shocked by the sudden change in the score. Everyone O’s fan still at the game cheers.

Tim: I yelled some more and got even more psyched for the last 2 1/2 innings.

Paul: At some point, the rain lets up. If my awareness of things like the time was low before, it is non-existent now that the Rays-Yankees game as suddenly got much more interesting. You could have told me it was 11:30 or 9:45 and my reaction to both would have the same – “okay, that sounds right.” I guess the real time was somewhere around 10:35. Tim and I headed back to our seats.

It was at this point, that I made a decision fueled by equal parts exhaustion, a slight buzz, and the euphoria of the Rays comeback. The O’s were, perhaps smartly in case the Rays didn’t come back to win, still showing the Phillies-Braves game on the scoreboard. I remembered that an MLB.tv subscription was only $3.95 for the final day of the season. I had been a subscriber at different times, so I quickly went to work in renewing my subscription. I didn’t think twice about the sensibility in taking the time to enter my full credit card information and spending $4 for a one night subscription – I needed to see the game. I manically typed in my information and moved from screen to screen flawlessly in spite of the poor 3G reception. In about two minutes, I was successfully viewing the game on my iPhone. I don’t know how I lived before it.

Of course, the 3G connection was still crap, causing the game to freeze and buffer after 15 – 20 seconds of picture. With the Rays still down by a run and down to their final out in the 9th, I gave up on the video feed. Dan Johnson was up at bat for the Rays and had two strikes on him. No sooner had I done that then we heard some cheers elsewhere in the stadium and someone in LF proclaiming that the Rays had tied the game. Sure enough, a quick check of Gameday confirmed that Johnson had a hit homerun to right-field to tie the game at 7. We went nuts. Tim yelled, again to no one in particular, that it was still all falling apart and that we now had a brand new ball game. Word spread through the stadium like wild fire as the Red Sox starting pouring out onto the field to restart the game.

Tim: The worlds fastest hour and a half rain delay ends with the Orioles ready to bat. Alfredo Aceves takes the mound for the Red Sox, having been over used in the series already, not to mention the month of September. The fastest rain delay ever is capped off by the slowest half inning of baseball I saw in 2011. When Aceves wasn’t hitting Nolan Reimold or Mark Reynolds to get himself in trouble, he would just hold the ball. I think there were two, possibly three seperate visits to the mound by Lavarnway because they couldn’t get the on the same page.

At this point, I’m so dehydrated and tired that if I don’t stay standing and cheering on the team like this is our playoff opportunity, I’m most likely going to hit a wall and lose any energy I have saved up for the stretch innings. I’m screaming at Aceves, screaming at the home plate umpire for allowing all of these visits, and trying to root our guys back into the game. As a fan, you are powerless 99.9999% of the time. But every so often, there is that .0001% time when you just cheer so hard that there has to be some kind of reward, whether it is karmatic towards the team or just to yourself. This night would be one of them.

Paul: Aceves’ refusal to throw a pitch was just so … odd. This wasn’t a pitcher shaking off a ton of signs leading to a catcher’s visit. This wasn’t a pitcher holding the ball an extra second to freeze the batter. This was a pitcher that just didn’t seem to want to throw the ball. Maybe Aceves was hurting after being way overworked the past week and the entire season. Maybe he was scared to make a mistake. Whatever the reason, he just held the ball and it was one of the oddest moments I’ve seen at a baseball game.

Tim: The 8th inning was relativly calm compared to the bottom of the 7th and the top and bottom of the 9th. Marco Scutaro’s poor base running, being gunned down at home via Jones to Hardy to Wieters was a great moment, as was Pedro Strop’s requisite fist pump. Marco Scutaro (or his Red Sox equivalent in other years) almost always scores in that situation against us. Especially after Reimold comes within inches of catching the ball with a nice dive.

Tim: Top of the 9th and Ellsbury leads off with an out. Red Sox Manager Terry Francona comes out to give his sob story about the ball not being controlled by first baseman Mark Reynolds. I’m livid at this point, boo’ing with the last shreds of voice I have left. “Get off the field. Stop killing time!” But I know that this is just a show and that he will either go back to the dugout or be ejected. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The umpires start to convene and reverse the call.

Upon watching the replay when we got home, the correct call was made. Reynolds was juggling the ball and didn’t have full possession of it. But can any non-Red Sox fan tell me with ANY shred of creditability that the call would have been talked about in an umpire huddle, none the less reversed if the Orioles were batting?

Paul and I lose it. So do the rest of the Orioles fans.

I look at Paul and give him the usual spiel, “If this fucks us, I’m done.”

30 seconds after the call is reversed, we start getting yelled at by two Red Sox fans who are just walking along the concourse. The wife starts screaming about seeing the replay on TV and how it was the right call. First off, we were still angry over the general principle of the call and had every right to be. Second, we weren’t yelling at this lady yet she decided to throw her two cents at us. I start screaming at her to get out of here while Paul gives he the choke sign with his two hands wrapped around his throat. He may have said something to her husband as well, probably not worth repeating on the blog.

The rest of the inning is as tense as it gets, with Matt Wieters making a tough force out at second look like second nature and the under rated duo of JJ Hardy and Robert Andino turning a double play so quickly that Mark Reynolds couldn’t help but pump his fist in the air as the O’s escaped what could have turned out to be a disaster.

Paul: Like Tim said, the right call was made. However, I’ve never seen a call like that reversed in all of the time I have watched baseball. That’s what we were yelling at – “how can you reverse the call?” In the bottom half of the 9th, I would spot the woman that came over to yell at us standing in front of her seats over by the bullpen. Apparently, Tim was loud enough that she made her way all the way over to our section to yell at us for booing the umpire and yelling about the call. I admit to making the Reggie Miller “choking” sign with my hands, but I said nothing to her or her husband. I think I yelled “it’s all falling apart” but I was yelling that a lot over those three games.

Tim: Bottom of the 9th. All came down to this. Until the O’s make the playoffs again, this will be the single most memorable half inning of baseball I have ever witnessed. For a stadium that was only half full due to the hour and a half rain delay, the atmosphere was electric. The Rays and Yankees were tied, so a little bit of the pressure was off. But there was also a feeling of confidence. It felt like the Orioles could come back and would. Paul and I had been standing since the bottom of the 7th and continued to scream and cheer as loud as we could.

After a great battle the night before against Papelbon, Jones went down relativly quietly. Same with Mark Reynolds. But a Chris Davis double kept things alive. At this point, I’m just trying to be as loud as possible. Papelbon fell behind 2–0 on Reimold and came back with two strikes, both swinging.

And then it happened. Reimold took a mid-level strike and slammed a double. We were euphoric. At this point, I’m not concerned about extra innings. For the first time in recent memory, I am certain that an O’s victory is inevitable. Like Paul, I really don’t remember much about Andino’s hit, other than absolutely freaking out, jumping up and down, and celebrating wildly. There wasn’t even enough time to think about taunting the Red Sox fans, at least for now.

Paul: I have zero recollection of leaving our seats after the game. None at all. This might be the first time I’ve failed to remember significant chunks of time just because I was so elated at the time that everything has become a blur. We made our way towards the bullpen picnic area – somehow – and were stopped by an Oriole employee who was herding exiting fans towards the post-game show area as they do every night. We never stop – the idea of my face being on MASN for two seconds doesn’t excite me enough to stop on most nights – but as I’ve said throughout this report, these weren’t ordinary circumstances. We stopped and screamed at the cameras when signaled to. I don’t think I have any desire to participate in that again (though don’t hold me to that if the Orioles make the playoffs).

Tim: I really lost the remaining remnants of any voice at the MASN broadcast booth. When the roar of the crowd would begin to die down, I would scream as loud as possible and everyone would get back into it.

Paul: The next several minutes have been erased from my memory as well – or at the very least, the memories are really fuzzy. I know we made a right onto Eutaw Street and started walking. Normally we would make a left out of the bullpen area and exited the stadium at the Eutaw Street gates, but we weren’t done celebrating. I think we took our time walking, high-fiving O’s fans, shouting at Red Sox fans, and just partaking in the general euphoria of the moment; after all, what else besides that would we really be doing? I suspect we hung around by the exit on the opposite side of Eutaw Street for several minutes before exiting, but your guess is as good as mine. I do know that eventually we decided to exit through the stadium gates and that’s where things started to get interesting.

By the time we walked out of the stadium, Tim was in an entirely other place. On a normal day, there are few people more reserved and less-likely to cause a scene than Tim. On the other hand, I am not sure I know anyone who is more excitable and emotional as he is. This was as an exciting and emotional conclusion as anyone could have drawn up, which left Tim in an other-worldly state. He was 100%, pure emotion at that point. Common sense, manners, and natural instincts all took a back seat to that. For some reason that neither of us can remember, we decided to make a right after leaving the stadium, instead of heading towards the parking lot and walking around the front side of the stadium like we normally would have. After exchanging a high-five with a woman usher, we spotted a NESN truck parked in front of the stadium. Tim, again operating on pure emotion mind you, decided to release some of this pent up emotion at the truck. I think the exact words were something like “Are you going to report on it when Paplebonchops of his wives’ head?”

Tim:All I will say about the Papelbon question is that it was half true and half trolling. Would he finally lose it? Probably not but at that time and place, it was a valid question.

Paul: Everyone in the area could hear Tim. I don’t think it would have mattered had we continued walking in the same direction. Of course, it was right at that time that we realized we should be walking the other way and turned around. Tim started “Whoo’ing” (think Ric Flair in some of his more excitable moments) at nobody in particular. This caused some salty Red Sox fans to start to shout back in our direction. I am not nearly as emotionally charged as Tim and by this point, the buzz was wearing off a little. I backed away from Tim slightly as he continued with the “Whoos!”.

Tim: The whooing was directed at this old man wearing a Phillies hat who wasn’t happy with my Papelbon question. He was angry (he was from Philly after all) but he also didn’t get it. He was trying to get me to stop acting “like a fool.” He needed to mind his own business. His final question to me was if I was high on drugs? My answer: the only thing I am high on is life. He lefty shaking his head, I left knowing I had won that small battle.

Paul: I watched all of that in amusement from about ten feet away. When it seemed Tim was ready to continue on home, I walked up behind him and we started heading towards the parking lot. I get about five feet before some guy, my guess is he was about college-aged or maybe right out of college, approaches me. “What are you doing?” I was confused by the question and remember my first thought being that he was either shilling for some nearby bar or trying to figure out where everyone was going to go after the game. So my response was 100% honest – I am going home.

His response? “Good, then why don’t you start going there?” I was sharp enough to realize that I was now dealing with an angry Red Sox fan. I laughed and said something along the lines of “Look, we are just celebrating. Calm down.” His retort indicated that he didn’t like the way we were celebrating and what ensued was a less-than-highly intellectual debate on how we were or weren’t allowed to celebrate. All the while, this kid’s eyes are growing wider and I am becoming more and more aware of the fact that he is trying to escalate the situation. Several times I turn away from him but he keeps focusing his attention on me. I have no idea where Tim was at this point.

Tim: This kid was a prototype of the douchebag Red Sox fans you see at OPACY - the main characteristic being the “New England eyes” which are more round and stand out from everyone else.

Paul: The guy again tells me to leave and that’s when I start to get a little annoyed. I don’t know if this guy heard Tim’s remark about Paplebon or not. I do know we never once yelled directly at anyone while walking outside the stadium and I knew I had said zilch. Who was he to tell me to leave? As if Red Sox fans wouldn’t be celebrating like this had the roles reserved (a fact I brought to his attention at one point). I chirped back a little more and basically tell him to get lost. I told him that “this is stupid” and I am not going to get in a fight over this. For perhaps the third time, he asks me what I am going to, getting extremely close to me in the process. I’ve already sized up the situation and decided that if this guy wants to take a punch at me, I’ll take it. I had no intentions of fighting back, but no intentions of back down either. Sometime during this, Tim as taken notice of our verbal sparring and is trying to get me to go, but childish or not I was now at the point where I didn’t want to leave on my own terms.

I laugh and say “I’ve already told you I am not going to do anything! So just get out of my face and get out of here.” He promptly ignores my suggestion and continues running his mouth. It is now clear to me that he is not going to do anything and wants me to come after him. I’ve never been in a real fight in my life and I sure wasn’t going to end that streak due to a dumb situation like this. Tim moved in between us at one point, which of course did nothing but make me feel bolder. I was pretty sure this guy wasn’t going to do anything to begin with. With Tim holding me back, I was positive so I felt free to talk some more. It was also apparent that this guy sought me out instead of Tim (who was the one doing all the yelling) because he didn’t want to mess with him. I don’t blame him for picking on the guy who is 2–3 inches shorter and 80 pounds lighter, but I also realized that was exactly what was going on and it did little to help my mood.

Tim: In retrospect, it is really funny how this kid only wanted to fight with Paul, certainly because of the size difference. I wasn’t even being ackowledged as I tried to move us on. If only he had known how tired and dehydrated I was. One small push could have knocked me on the ground but he didn’t want to “talk” to anyone but Paul.

Paul: Eventually his friend comes over and gets him to continue on – or so it appeared. After appearing to be there to simply break his friend away, the other kid starts getting into it with me. It’s the same old stuff is friend has been saying. In retrospect, I should have just walked away as I had already correctly surmised that both were just talking a big game. I think it was the frustration of all prior Red Sox gams coming to a head for me. Remember, I have had shit thrown at me by Red Sox fans and been yelled at by them all for cheering my team. On the one night where the O’s exacted some measure of revenge on the field, I wasn’t going to let these guys “get the best of me” as juvenile as that idea might be. We jawed back and forth before Tim and I once again continued on our way.

Ten seconds later, the second kid comes running up to us again. This time his complaint is that we said we were leaving and now we are still talking. I think I just laughed at this point. I had NO IDEA what he was talking about. Tim later said that he might have yelled something as we were walking away, but I guess I just missed that.

Tim: As we were walking away, I think I yelled, “Enjoy the offseason.” Nothing offensive but it made the original kid and his friend immediatly start towards us again. Probably shouldn’t have said it, but I was still in celebration mode.

Paul: The guy is all up in my face again, quite literally, so I lightly push him away to create some space. In fact, “push” might be too strong of a word. It was more extending my arms as if to say, “leave some room”. Of course, fake tough guy that he was, that was enough to get him going and he continued trying to get me to hit him or something. Again, we walked away and this time they finally got the message. The whole thing was ridiculous and a I fully acknowledge that we weren’t free from the blame, even if it was the Red Sox fans that were continually looking for a fight.

Tim: The sad thing about this whole encounter is that the original kid wanted us to throw the first punch. He knew he wasn’t going to do it and we knew we weren’t, so his trolling was futile. When the first you can do is step on Paul’s sandal, it shows how ready you are to get into it with someone. Five plus years of Red Sox taking over the stadium ends in a typical fashion, with these two goofs trying to start something but failing miserably like their team did on the field that night.

Paul: We get home, still riding a high from the evening. We spend the next two hours reading up on the game on the internet and catching all the highlights on MLB Network and Baseball Tonight. People are already calling it the greatest night in MLB history and at that moment, we definitely agreed. Around 2:30 I finally get myself to come down enough to get to sleep.

Tim: I couldn’t fall asleep that night. I tried to sleep from 2:30 - 4:30 but ended up going to work early and finally crashed when I got home at 3. When Paul got home from work, we rewatched the 9th inning for the first of many times this offseason. The win still feels as good as it did back in September.