The Orioles are throwing punches rather than taking them from Red Sox Nation
Sept. 19, 2013
I don't mean "lived" in the sense that you attended Opening Day, drank a few Natty Bohs, cheered "O" during the anthem, and resolved to do it all again the same time next year.
Rather, I mean "lived" in the sense that your baseball heart, already lodged in deep recesses that can only be discovered during an extended period of mourning, sank even further in 2010 to watch Manny Ramirez hit No. 500 at Camden Yards and be celebrated wildly by the crowd for doing so. Each ballpark takeover felt personal, none moreso than Manny's moment.
It's the difference between head and heart. If you had your full anatomy engaged with the local nine, there was more than a sense disappointment. It was outright humiliation. And no team, fans, or beat writers made the entire exercise feel worse than did the fine folks up in Boston.
The whole "they don't respect us" trope is overdone in sports but let's face it, that was an accurate description of the Red Sox-Orioles dynamic for many years. To be fair, there wasn't much to respect. Now that there is, it feels redemptive. And in terms of the Wild Card race, it couldn't come at a better time.
Back in 2009, the collective wit of Boston sportswriters was on full display as they described our boys as The Triple A Orioles, the Uh-O's, and the Sox' punching bag. Now, a day after the Orioles moved closer to clinching the season series for a second consecutive year, we get headlines like "Surging Orioles proving their contenders," and descriptions like these: "But the Orioles are a tough out and the Red Sox respect that."
There is even an article that turns the Boston beard gimmick on its head: "The word can also be used as a verb, too, which is what happens so often when Buck Showalter and his clean-shaven Baltimore Orioles are in the opposite dugout. To beard: to confront and oppose with boldness, resolution and often effrontery."
A couple of wins in Boston won't change the outcome of the division race, but it sure feels good to see the Orioles throwing punches again rather than taking them. The game outcomes are changing and so are the narratives around them.