The Baltimore Orioles face a scenario that they haven’t seen since 2016: elimination from MLB’s Postseason.
A tumultuous position, not only for these gritty players who have transcended numerous hurdles throughout the season but also for a fan base that has been enveloped in the shadow of defeat for far too long. Tonight isn’t just a game. It’s a turning point. A moment perhaps *too* monumental for some, encapsulated by years of agony, losses, and an unwavering spirit of loyalty.
But I don’t mean for the players. I’m talking about us, the fans.
The Orioles stand at a precipice, down 2-0 to the Texas Rangers in the ALDS. The air is saturated with an amalgamation of hope, anxiety, and a universal pressure that meanders through the skies of Birdland. For the fans, the moment teeters on the brink of implausibility. A pendulum swinging between the dread of familiar defeat and the craved taste of victory. Fans clinging tightly to the thrill of being playoff contenders while concurrently battling the ghost of previous despair, rendering the moment almost *too* big, *too* overwhelming to be fully realized.
I’ve recently stepped away from most of the discourse online surrounding the team, content to soak it all in quietly rather than engage with fans (the bedrock of any team’s spirit) who remain cocooned in a confusion of exhilaration and trepidation. I felt a growing toxicity with every loss or misstep towards the end of the season. A sensation I know that springs from years of accustomed losing, whisperings that perhaps these long awaited moments might be yet again slipping through our fingers, becoming yet another ‘get em next year’ season.
I wish I had words that could do the work of wins. I wish I had the eloquence and articulation to bring into focus the entirety of the situation. That the Orioles of today, who as of this writing remain bold and undeterred in this postseason, are different. This team, this organization, a testament to the meticulous reconstruction spearheaded by Mike Elias and a host of dedicated team members, who have navigated through the shambles of multiple 100-loss seasons, are NOT one and done.
Rooted deeply in the philosophy of a “growth mindset,” this new-look blueprint has been a steady compass, guiding the organization through a strategic, process-driven approach that has not only defined a new trajectory for the team but also substantiated results that have surfaced well ahead of anticipated timelines and projects well into the future.
But while the future is bright, it’s pivotal to acknowledge the inherent and ever-present uncertainties that shroud the world of sports. The best team doesn’t always win, folks. Not even the best edges, though sharpened with skill and strategy, guarantee a pathway to unfettered victory. But within this scope of ambiguity a promising Orioles’ future exists. Losses will continue to happen along the way; some will sting, and others may pull them into a vortex of critique. However, thanks to the robust foundation laid by a rejuvenated, process-centric approach, these defeats should no longer plummet the team, or their fans, into abysses of despair but rather be seen as stepping stones, carving out pathways and refining strategies, leading to a future where victories are sweet and losses mere bumps on a forward-moving path.
As the Orioles etch their presence into the monumental stage of these playoffs, we fans find ourselves on a parallel journey, learning to navigate the tumultuous seas of an unfamiliar, albeit splendid, reality of winning baseball. The focus not on the shadows of past defeats, but on the luminous possibility of the future, propelling our Baltimore Orioles forward, towards a time where moments of triumph are not *too* big but are relished, celebrated, and above all, believed in.