September 30 was a beautiful Sunday. The final home game of the year is always a little bit of a drag but 2012 was different, since we fully expected to be back at Camden Yards within a weeks time for at least two more playoff games. When you go to so many games in a single season, the need to be there early goes away. Prior to 2012, Paul and I would arrive at absurd times, mostly to secure a t-shirt give-a-way. This was mostly my doing, since I always anticipated demand being higher than it was in reality. This past season we changed things up and often arrived just in time for line up’s.
On this particular Sunday, we decided to get Jimmy John’s prior to the game and to avoid a long line, we ended up in our seats at around 12:15. The next hour was just spent taking in the beautiful scenery and really relaxing.
I’m not a relaxed person, though it is something I am working on. But for that hour prior to the pre game ceremonies starting, I was able to tune out everything else and just enjoy the beauty of Camden Yards. It’s not something that happens a lot, especially in the midst of a playoff race, but for whatever reason, it was the modis operandi for the day.
The game was a breeze for the O’s, winning 6–3 behind a solid effort from Joe Saunders. Besides having to deal with a drunk, bandwagon fan sitting next to Paul, there weren’t any complaints until the end of the game.
The national baseball media had played the Orioles two ways in 2012. The Orioles were either “lucky” and that luck would fade away or there was always a “better” story that they would rather talk about. We came to accept that and take it for what it was - the feel good stories that don’t feature stars or unbelieavble circumstances don’t play well to the average person.
As Jim Johnson is wrapping up save number 50 and Orioles win number 92, we are glued to our phones, seeing that Texas is beating the Angels 4–3 in game one of a double header. A Texas win means we clinch at home and get to celebrate with the players on the field.
The O’s are doing their regular post game celebration and the jumbo tron starts playing the Angels vs. Rangers game, with Texas closer Joe Nathan on. Almost no one has left Camden Yards and is waiting to celebrate a very special occasion.
Just like the national media stories played out, this was no different. Joe Nathan* proceeded to blow the save and the game and their would be no celebrating with the fans. It boggles my mind how things turn out sometimes. The Nationals, having already celebrated clinching the playoffs with their fans at home, celebrated again for clinching the NL East after a 2–0 loss to the Phillies. This was not the first and not the last time we would see that things aren’t supposed to be this way.
The players eventually left the field, but not before a rousing ovation from the crowd and knowing that it was just a formality until the playoff spot was secured. That occurred a little more than nine hours later, thanks in part to former Oriole Koji Uehara having a great 8th inning, including making Rookie of the Year Mike Trout look like a rookie. Joe Nathan proceeded to almost unravel again in the 9th and the O’s celebrated on the plane to Tampa Bay.
* Joe Nathan would get this personal comeuppance from the Orioles during the 9th inning of the Wild Card game, when he let runs 4 and 5 score, making the bottom of the 9th a lot less tense than it would have been with only a 3–1 lead.