So it’s way past midnight and I still haven’t packed for my 7:30 a.m. flight to Tampa Bay.
Heck, I can sleep in the offseason.
The Orioles sealed their first postseason bid in 15 years tonight, capping a bizarre and surreal day, one that most long-suffering O’s fans will remember for years.
The image that will last in my mind is one of the Orioles players giving high fives on the field after their 6-3 win over Boston, then staying on the field to watch the final inning of the Angels-Rangers afternoon game.
For many years, disheartened Orioles fans felt a disconnect from their baseball team as they suffered through 14 straight losing seasons, but here they were reunited with one purpose – hoping to celebrate the first postseason berth since 1997.
After Torii Hunter’s two-run double in the ninth inning served as the official party spoiler in the Angels’ 5-4 comeback win, Orioles players looked into the stands and lifted their caps to thanks the sea of orange, waving to the crowd in thanks.
Even though there was no afternoon celebration at Camden Yards, it was one of the most enthralling moments of this miracle season.
Then, news that the Orioles team charter was forced to make an emergency landing in Jacksonville when there was smoke coming out of the kitchen area of the plane. It sounds like the incident sounded worse than it was, and at the end of the day, the Orioles were just delayed a couple hours.
Just as the Orioles were about to take off again for St. Petersburg, they received word that the Angels lost their doubleheader nightcap to the Rangers, clinching a postseason spot for the Orioles. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the celebration was subdued, especially with the knowledge that a division title is within this team’s reach.
On Twitter, grown men talked about a childhood dream come true. Fourteen years isn’t a drought, it’s a destitution of misery. All cleansed away with one day.
The Orioles could go in two very different directions from here. They face a desperate Rays team that is fighting for its postseason life. The next three games at Tropicana Field will be difficult, and expect a playoff atmosphere under the dome roof.
Before they left town, Showalter talked about the hope of ensuring a home playoff game at Camden Yards. They haven’t done that yet. But these Orioles still won’t be satisfied with that.They’re focused on stealing the AL East from the Yankees.
Or even forcing a one-game playoff with the Yankees for the division on Thursday – at Camden Yards.
In the meantime, I’ll likely be needing an extra cup of coffee this morning.