Orioles' Momentous Victory Leads To Sleeping Fast
By Stan "The Fan" Charles
By the time you, the reader, are looking at this column on your monitor, iPad or mobile device, it's hard to imagine you don't have the facts down pat: the Baltimore Orioles' remarkable 2-1 victory during 13 innings against the New York Yankees has set up the third elimination game for the O's during the last week.
A week ago, after waking up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the Birds faced the Texas Rangers during a one-and-done wild-card round and passed the test. Then Wednesday night's demoralizing loss to New York put the O's in the precarious position of facing extinction Oct. 11 during Game 4. And again, this group of Birds showed their mettle, defeating the Yankees in as taut and tense of a game as one could imagine, 2-1 after 13 innings.
The Orioles' reward for that victory is to again face the Boogie Man at 5:07 p.m. Oct. 12. Baltimore's gutty, gut-wrenching win, which ended after midnight, punctured whatever momentum advantage the Yankees had gained from Raul Ibanez's game-tying and game-winning home runs during Game 3.
During his Orioles managerial tenure, Buck Showalter has used a phrase after long night games, when his club, the media and the fans face a day game the next day: "Sleep fast, and we'll see you tomorrow."
Predicting a winner in this finale looks to be as simple as going with the side that has CC Sabathia on it. The Yankees' ace is home, he's formidable and he is worthy of being a big favorite tomorrow. But, as mentioned in this space many times during this miracle-laden season, previous statistical accomplishments do not always dictate game results.
Although those past performances can lead one to predict possible scenarios, the numbers don't take into account the human factor. They can't measure the size of the heart of Orioles' Game 5 starter Jason Hammel; they don't stare into the eyes of O's outfielder Adam Jones and tell him to relax; they don't understand what is driving left fielder Nate McLouth to play as if he never had a confidence crisis.
Nor can those numbers see into the soul of Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki to see how, in any given game, he can still play with the passion of, say, a Ricky Henderson in his prime. Those numbers won't will Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez back to greatness.
It's interesting that this game will be played in the new Yankee Stadium, one with not nearly the regaled history of the now-defunct one. These are heady moments for this aging, but gallant bunch of pinstripers. They could rise to the occasion and begin to create the kinds of memories that have perpetuated the Yankee myths.
But it also seems fitting this battle to the death between Yankees and Orioles, one that figures to be epic, shall begin at the time of the day called twilight. How fitting, you ask?
Twilight is the time of day that precedes the darkness, when, as legend will tell you, vampires awaken and steal the essence of life and live off that essence to become immortal.
Anyone who has watched these movies, or any of the hundreds of others, can tell you one truism regarding vampire killers: if they catch a vampire while they are sleeping, they must, when faced with the opportunity, knock a stake through their hearts to ensure their death.
The past few weeks, the Orioles have done everything imaginable to wrestle the American League East lead away from these Yankees. But, time after time, the opposition wasn't willing to be slain. The vampire killers weren't able to pierce the Yankees' heart with that stake, and New York lived to play another day.
But, as the Orioles have shown during these past couple of weeks, perhaps they have a bit of the vampire's spirit in them as well. Because when it comes to watching this particular movie, maybe the ending is not so much predicated upon those revered stats, but by the more primal realization that maybe it was the Yankees who needed to make sure the Orioles were in fact dead when they had the chance.
Posted Oct. 12, 2012