Section 8′s take on the end of the O’s season
When the end came, our group of Orioles’ faithful was gathered in a speakeasy basement baseball bar called Phelan’s Pub located underneath my buddy Billy Birrane’s Canton row house.
Orioles’ catcher and fan favorite Matt Wieters hit a weak ground ball back to Yankees’ starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia, who was still on the mound to record the last out in the top of the ninth inning of the fifth and deciding game of the American League division series, waking us from our dream season.
At first the room was deflated. We had gone from chanting and cheering and attempting to conjure spirits, tossing our hats into a rally-cap pile, along with two carved Orioles pumpkins, a Matt Wieters bobble head and some Buckle Up towels. We held hands in a circle and collectively droned the letter O as in “Ohhhhhhhhhhhh…” It had worked the night before.
But with the final out, our last gasp was extinguished. Somebody mentioned the bases-loaded, lost opportunity in the previous inning, a few F-bombs were dropped and other expletives expelled, someone asked for the volume on the television to be lowered and we mourned silently for a moment. Just about everyone’s eyes were misty but from one-lump-filled throat arose a cry, “How about ‘dem O’s! Let’s hear it for a great season.” Someone else said “Let’s hear it for Billy for having us over all these nights!”
And just like that a season’s worth of joy returned. In less than a minute we had progressed through the Kübler-Ross model of the Five Stages of Grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance and embraced our sweet pain. This bittersweet, melancholy feeling swept over the city like a wave and was Orioles’ fandom’s immediate response to a frustrating and disappointing defeat at the hands of the teams’ most bitter rivals.
A few minutes after the game had ended I received a text from a friend and fellow fan suggesting that we should meet the Orioles at Penn Station upon the teams’ return that evening which was later updated to Camden Yards, and so we did.
When the three buses containing members of the team and their families pulled into the parking lot, all on board disembarked and stopped to mingle briefly with the 400-500 fans who showed up. The sad and morose looks on the players faces were replaced by appreciative smiles, we chanted “Let’s go O’s!” took pictures and shook hands. I looked back at the ballpark’s façade and couldn’t wait for next season.
This paradoxical feeling of joyful sadness is a soothing balm for our wounded collective psyche it’s also something that Yankees fans rarely, if ever experience or understand, where after every game they leave with the same hostile demeanor win or lose and anything less than a World Series championship is deemed as failure.
And so while our season has come to a close and all we’ve got left to root for is the second half of the old cliché…“and anyone who’s playing the Yankees,” let’s enjoy our own sweet pain for as long as it lasts.