long time blog pal and fellow Midnight Son @ryan97ou recounts his personal experience at CRUSH NIGHT. Sports!
Sometimes in sports, as in life, it’s a bit sweeter to hit that 60 foot putt instead of the 4 foot gimme; to get up off the ground after being punched by the new kid in town and knock him straight the hell out. TKO. In last night’s case our never-say-die Orioles did just that, and put Camden Yards into a fervor I haven’t seen since the lone home playoff win last October.
Last night marked the 3rd game of the “Battle of the Beltway” series between our Orioles and D.C.’s Nationals, this being the first game on our home turf. The series was split 1-1, the weather was perfect, and it was Chris “Crush” Davis t-shirt night (which featured an orange/black “O” Superman logo); perfect conditions for the 39,000 O’s and Nats fans that showed up to The Yard(s) (I estimate about 75% O’s fans). The scene was set for a good old fashioned showdown between the teams and the fans.
The game starts off in the wrong direction with Ryan Zimmerman cranking a LONGGG home run in the first inning and the Nats fans acting appropriately: jeering a bit, but not too much; fully knowing they could get it thrown back in their face in short time. Smart move since the O’s tie it up the very next inning off an improbable double. But the next couple innings would do nothing but embolden the curly W fan base as they tack on 5 more runs to our 1 (including 2 more home runs from the Nats’ Zimmerman), increasing the score to 6-2 and putting all Orioles fans square in the bulls-eye of any fan who’s filled with a little too much “Natitude” and Bud Light Limes (I assume that’s what DC people drink, right?).
Not ones to back down, the team and the fans show life when Nick Markakis hits a scorcher into the right center field bleachers, cue: dancing, high fives, and bit more hope to make up that now 4-run differential. Pick yourself up off the ground. Then dust that dirt off your pants because Steve Pearce just hit a by-the-skin-of-your-teeth two run homer. 6-5. Check your surroundings, because it’s going insane at Camden, and everyone knows, hopes, and needs to happen what’s about to. It’s inevitable, right?
Nate McLouth gets on as the tying run with no outs, the Nats are on their heels, and up at the plate is the impossibly clutch rookie Manny Machado. A short stop to pause just how awesome baseball can be even if you don’t know the stats, the pitchers, or hell…even the team you’re playing against. Scenes like this are what you hope for when you plunk down that $10+ and head into the Yards proudly strutting around in your Manny BOHchado shirt. At this point the MAN-NY, MAN-NY, MAN-NY chants are being screamed loud enough to be heard in Hampden and with the flick of a bat he delivers with a 1-run double to tie the game, cue: pandemonium, friends hugging, $8 beers HAPPILY spilled, and perfect strangers high-fiving. America’s past time indeed.
But wait, no outs, the Nats are stumbling, and their fans have been quieted by the feet inserted into their mouths; time for the knockout punch. Nick Markakis, the seasoned veteran, knocks in the go ahead run like it’s no big deal and again, madness in the stadium. Even the beer guys are happy because they’re still serving until the end of this inning, and people sure are buyin’. Adam Jones gets out on a fly ball, which leads to the too-good-to-be-true Chris “Crush” “Superman” Davis up at the plate. Everyone in the stadium is wearing his shirt, he already hit a homerun in the 4th, and once again it’s inevitable, right?
Cheers, shouts, everyone on their feet (minus the Nats fans who are now filing out of the stadium), then the pitch … silence. CRACK. The roar gets louder as the ball sails, just waiting for the eruption as it clears the right field fence, and then pure joy. Yah it’s only May, yes the season is long. But for a night, all that is out the window. This. Is. Awesome. Baseball stat-heads who hate terms like “moxy” can’t put this into their equations. This feeling can’t be marginalized and shouldn’t be because that’s what it’s all about in a season of ups and downs: celebrating like there’s no tomorrow when you do it, and looking forward to tomorrow when you don’t.
The Orioles scored 6 runs in the seventh and effectively took the Nationals out of the game as Jim Johnson came in and finally closed down a game with decisive pitching. Yet no one wanted to leave. Everyone just lingered around in euphoria, watching Chris Davis get shaving cream pie’d in the face during his post-game interview and high fiving anyone with an orange anything on.
“It’s just one game” they like to say, well tell that to anyone at the May 29th game versus the Nationals, because that’s a game everyone there will remember for some time. And yet today is also “just another game”, to which I say: