So, last night happened. And just like that, the baseball season is over here in Baltimore. That's all we need to say about last night for now.
Instead, let's put a few things about the 2016 Baltimore Orioles into perspective here. When photo editor J.M. Giordano and I traveled down to spring training earlier this year, the team didn't have a win in its first 10 games and outfielder Hyun Soo Kim started out 0-for-23. Just before the start of the 162-game season, many writers and analysts picked the O's to finish near the bottom of the AL East.
As we know now after this crazy roller coaster ride of a season, the Orioles proved to be much better than that. Kim, after being booed on Opening Day, hit .302 and became a fan favorite. Mark Trumbo, acquired by Dan Duquette for backup catcher (and shitty Tweeter) Steve Clevenger, led the majors in home runs, with 47, and had 108 RBI. Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy, always considered to be important building blocks, made significant contributions.
It wasn't always pretty, though. Deadspin writer (and former CP staffer) Tom Scocca summed up the 2016 squad pretty succinctly: "The Baltimore Orioles are a lax, sleepy team that sends out one unimpressive starting pitcher after another, fails to string together any hits to support them, gets demoralized, and writes off a whole week or two. The Baltimore Orioles are a steely, fearless team that doesn’t even care who’s starting, because their defense will shut down any opponent while their mighty home-run bats slug them out to a lead that their bullpen will never relinquish, day after day after day."
In spite of this Jekyll-and-Hyde formula, your 2016 Orioles went 89-73.
The highs were very high—as high as the dongs launched into the stands night after night by a lineup that continued to pound the ball. Seriously, the team put together a highlight reel from the season—it's definitely worth your time if you're still bummed about last night—and almost all of it is dedicated to dingers.
The lows were pretty low too, when it seemed liked they couldn't get anything right and couldn't get a well-timed hit (particularly with a runner in scoring position) to save their lives. Or when it seemed liked any starting pitcher not named Chris Tillman couldn't pitch for shit.
But there was cause for hope as the team pushed for the playoffs in September. The starting pitching—especially Ubaldo Jimenez, once an outcast—looked amazing. And in the immediate aftermath of a Kim pinch-hit go-ahead home run in Toronto, it seemed like everything else was finally in sync. The O's were supporting the great pitching by finding ways to score that didn't involve driving the ball 400 feet. They were playing great team baseball, all around.
Then last night happened, and everything fell apart almost as suddenly as it seemed like it was coming together.
At home, following up the six-pack I had during the game with some much-needed whiskey, I felt the need to find a song to match the somber mood. I was so sure that the Orioles would beat the Blue Jays and continue on. Even now, as I write this, it still doesn't seem real that I won't be able to watch the team again until April of next year. I know it to be true, but it doesn't feel like that.
I landed on this one from The Smiths, on the recommendation of a friend, and it captures those postseason aspirations and the feeling of having the rug pulled out from under your feet that is losing a one-game playoff.
"I know it's over/ And it never really began/ But in my heart it was so real"
Here's to next season.