Hi, I am the Angry Nerd, and I am a life long fan of the Baltimore Orioles (hi, Angry Nerd). My dear, departed Grandmother, Ethel Rae Keel, was responsible for getting me hooked on this 50 year addiction. From the time I was in diapers, I was going to the old Memorial Stadium with Grandma watching the O's. I spent my childhood summers in the left field bleachers as a Junior Oriole, got to see playoff and World Series games, and the closing game of the old stadium as well as the opening of Camden Yards. Everyone who knew my brother or me knew of our Orioles addiction, and if they knew us from our childhood days, they knew Grandma Keel was at the root of it. And while I love me some Ravens, and cried when the old Baltimore Bullets moved out of the truly crappy (even in the '70s) Civic Center and moved to Landover to become the Washington Bullets (and now the Wizards), nothing has ever quite compared to 'Dem O's in terms of my fandom.
Well, after many years of knowing nothing but success from my favorite team, the last couple of decades have been pretty rough on O's fans. Since our last World Series Title in 1983, we've only made the playoffs twice, in 1996 and '97, with heartbreak and controversy (Jeffrey Maier got an ass whooping coming if I ever meet him...I kid...maybe...). Since then - nothing but embarassment. I tell ya, it's got rough standing up for this team. I fought the good fight defending them and trying to project some optimism, but it ain't been easy to do in this millennium...
Until this year, that is! The Orioles, against all odds, and defying all logic, are in the playoffs! As I do at the beginning of every year, I came into the start of the season with plenty of optimism/blind hope that this would be the year the boys got it together and turned things around, but who saw this coming? 93 wins, coming right down to the wire for the division title against the hated Yankees, still earning a Wild Card spot? UN-friggin'- BELIEVEABLE!
All the years of disappointment, all the getting mad at people who ridiculed the team, all the arguments even this season every time fans were ready to jump ship when the team hit a slump - all that is behind me now, as I anxiously await the one game, win or go home playoff against the dangerous but slumping Texas Rangers!
So to Buck Showalter, thank you for molding this group of young men and steering the ship to a playoff route. If you're not manager of the year, something's wrong. To Dan Duquette, thanks for not paying attention to some of our fans who ridiculed your hiring and some of your moves, and instead got players in here when we needed them. To Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy, Jim Johnson, thanks for holding it down for us. To Nick Markakis, thanks for solidifying that leadoff spot until fat ass Cap'n Crunch Sabathia broke your thumb. To Manny Machado, welcome young man. To Wei-Yin Chen, welcome to America. To Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis, keep hitting those bombs.
To all you guys that got picked up off the scrap heap and had some of thinking, "here we go again, picking up a bunch of nobodies and has-beens", thanks for proving us wrong. To Jim Thome, hopefully you'll finally get that World Series ring on the way to the Hall of Fame. To Robert Andino and Pedro Strop and Nate McLouth, thanks for that spirit and energy.
To all the know it alls that said it couldn't be done, well look at us now! To Bobby Valentine, who turned us down before we hired Buck, and who called us lucky this season, good luck finding another job...
To everyone in the Orioles family (yes, even you, Peter Angelos), congratulations and a big THANK YOU for such a fantastic season! No matter what happens from this point, I think it's safe to say that you all far exceeded the expectations of even the hopeful fan! No go out and beat Texas so we can take on those Yankees!
To my fellow die hard O's fans, who have stuck it through 14 years of losing, and seen our once proud franchise become a laughingstock of the baseball world, well WE'RE BAAAAACK!
And finally, thanks to Grandma Keel for instilling that love of baseball in my brother and me. No doubt we would have become fans anyway, but you were one who got the ball rolling. I only wish you were still here. You would have LOVED this team!