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The Blue & Gray Press | October 21, 2017

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Clean Slates on Opening Day

By Joey Merkel

I’m a fairly religious person, but let’s just say the amount of times I’ve been in a synagogue in the past two years can be counted on one hand. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is my place of worship and the “Oriole Bird” is my false prophet.
For me, baseball and the Baltimore Orioles are very sensitive subjects. Talk trash about my team or my sport, I’m ready to throw down in the verbal formality.
This past Monday I was lucky enough to attend the Orioles season and home opener in Baltimore at Oriole Park. Sadly, I had to miss my classes that day, but opening day only happens once a year and I can learn about the subjunctive form of Spanish verbs whenever.
My friends and I arrived early to the game, wondered around the ballpark looking for the best hot dog stand. Most of the time you can find better dogs outside for cheaper than inside. By the time we were at the ticket taker our hot dogs were finished and we were looking for something else to sink our teeth into.
Entering the stadium we were overwhelmed with the feeling that every baseball fan gets when they enter a ballpark on opening day or sit down to watch the game on TV. “This is our year,” I said to myself. In our hearts we know that there is no way that the Orioles come remotely to contending this year but for a lucky few, baseball is infectious, it gives us hope.
For other fans, this year was different. It was the first inning when I noticed that most of the stadium was not very full. It was understandable—we were playing the Rays and we are entering our eleventh straight season with a losing record.
Understandable? Yes. Is it a good enough excuse? No.
Baseball fans do not stop being baseball fans. Go ahead and stop loving your team, you fair-weather fans, but don’t take it out on the rest of the fans. The first inning of the game was the best an O’s fan could hope for, a double steal, a two-run double and left-fielder who makes an error right in front of you thus deserving thirty minutes of heckling.
As our “ace” pitcher slowly crumbled, he went on to give up six runs over six and a third innings. The one bright spot after that was that it had stopped raining.
My friends and I left Oriole Park with a shot of pure real world injected directly into our bloodstreams. The magical glow of opening day had disappeared and we knew where the team was heading in 2008: the basement of the American League East.
The Orioles lost 6-2 Monday. I’m not happy about it but there is not anything I can do about it. I’m not playing. But what us fans should be doing is going out there and rooting our asses off so that when our teams do start to win we can have the last laughs.
So I write this to all fans of losing teams—the Giants, Pirates and Royals. Don’t give up hope on your favorite teams. Someday our time will come.