The Baltimore Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays last night 8-2 and with the win, they locked up the American League East. It’s the first division title for the Orioles in 17 years.
To put this achievement into context, the last time the Orioles were AL East Champions, Cal Ripken Jr. was at third, Brady Anderson roamed centerfield, and Chris Hoiles was behind the plate. The Peacemaker, starring George Clooney and Nicole Kidman was the number one movie. Bill Clinton was President of the United States and nobody yet knew about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Elton John’s remake of Candle in the Wind, a tribute to Lady Di, was the number one song.
Between then and now, the Orioles played a lot of sucky baseball. They put together 14 straight losing seasons after 1997. It was a bad time to be Orioles fan. It was a bad time to be a watcher of baseball in Maryland.
One of the most remarkable things about this season is that they were able to win the division without the services of two of their best players, Matt Wieters and Manny Machado.
Last night’s game on TV was pretty special. MASN chose not to go to commercial between the eighth and ninth inning. Instead, they just showed the crowd and the players take the field to get the last three outs. The best part was that they had Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer in the broadcast booth turn their mics off. The only sound you heard were the cheers of the crowd as the Orioles took the field. It was nice.
No matter what happens in the playoffs, winning the American League East is quite an achievement.