There’s a Sense of Normalcy in Cheering For a Loser

By Mark Suchy || Layout Assistant

I woke up yesterday to the sounds of birds chirping at sunrise. While I would have appreciated a few more hours of (much-needed) beauty sleep, I could not help but have a small smile on my face. Spring is starting, which means two of my favorite things: playoff basketball and opening day baseball.

We as a society search for certain things to help center ourselves in an ever-changing, fast-paced world. Some rely on their mother’s home-cooked meals, others enjoy reminiscing about old photographs, or maybe they go for long walks—I watch the Orioles lose baseball games.

My earliest childhood memory is sitting on the first baseline at Camden Yards, where the O’s play. It was the 2005 season and the O’s had just lost their 88th game of the season to the New York Yankees (of course), which virtually eliminated them from postseason contention (again).

I was four years old, so all I could think about was that the cotton candy was delicious, the popcorn smelled good, and the players were enormous! I had no clue that the O’s were defined by losing to my generation.

The Orioles did not have a single winning season until I turned 11 years old. In 2012, something weird happened—Manny Machado came to town. Machado was a 19-year-old shortstop/third baseman that electrified the town. 

Suddenly, the ballpark that was traditionally filled with around ten thousand people began seeing crowds two or three times the size! We were in a pennant race. I watched every pitch of every game that year, and when I couldn’t make a game, it was on the DVR. I can still name almost all 25 players on the roster that year.

The O’s did not win the American League East that year, but we qualified for the inaugural play-in wildcard game. We ended up winning against the Texas Rangers. Euphoria.

Although the hated Yankees defeated the Orioles in the next round, the foundation had been laid for 2014, the best year of my baseball fandom.

Heading into the 2014 MLB season, the O’s were picked by the “baseball experts” to finish last. As you might have guessed from the sarcastic air quotes above, the O’s won the AL East that year. 

Led by Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, Buck Showalter, and Manny Machado, the Orioles won their first division title since 1997–the first of my lifetime!

In 2014, I would get home from middle school basketball practice at 6 pm, scarf down the wonderful meal my mother had prepared (sorry for being rude Mom, but the O’s were on soon), then watch the MASN pregame show before first pitch at 7:05. I was in baseball heaven.

The dream came to an end that October. The O’s were swept by the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS (ugh! We were 4 wins away from the World Series). I was upset, but still hopeful because the team had shown they had what it took to compete in the AL East. The O’s were going to be around for a long time.

Why did I think that? What possible part of being an O’s fan my whole life, made me think they would compete for years to come?

The Orioles made the playoffs again in 2016, which was exciting, but it was nothing like 2014. The emerging Blue Jays knocked us out in the wildcard play-in game. 

The O’s proceeded to trade Manny Machado, let Nelson Cruz go, let Adam Jones walk, fail in three straight drafts, let Nick Markakis walk, sign Chris Davis to the biggest deal in team history, fire Buck Showalter, and reenter the cellar of the AL East once again.

While 2021 has the chance to be the 5th straight Orioles losing season, Fangraphs gave the birds a 0.0% chance of winning the AL East. Yet, I am writing this article with a smile on my face.

I will attend games at Camden Yards as I did pre-2012, marking my calendar in anticipation of when other teams will come to town to squash the O’s so that I can watch the great young players of today’s MLB.

I will support the Orioles as I have since 2005. I love this team and I think Baltimore might be partying like it’s 2014 this September. Don’t give the O’s a chance this year —we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Sophomore Mark Suchy is a layout assistant. His email is msuchy@fandm.edu.

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