By: Michael Johnson
Row 16, section 26: a location I will not soon forget. A vision in orange, he stepped up to the plate, facing a 2-run deficit in the bottom of the eighth and the hushed prayers of the some 40,000 at Camden Yards. “We all know he’s ready to go on that first pitch,” noted TBS’s play-by-play announcer Brian Anderson.
The weeks preceding Delmon Young’s eighth inning heroics, when he lined a go-ahead, bases-clearing 3-run double into the left field corner to take the lead in game 2 of the 2014 ALDS, were filled with similar excitement. Orange and black dress down days, let’s go O’s chants in assemblies, talk of the Orioles winning the American League for the first time in many of my peers’ lifetimes— Gilman awaited postseason baseball with an enthusiasm that I had never before observed, and I vividly remember the collective hype surrounding the Ravens’ 2012 Super Bowl Run. Perhaps it’s their grassroots, smallmarket appearance or perhaps it’s their half-century long relationship with the city of Baltimore, but in any case the city and the school come alive when our Orioles are hot.
Like any devout fan, a part of me died last year as the Birds encountered their first losing season since 2011. At 75-86, the Orioles’ renaissance appeared to have found its inevitable end. The potential of another decade without a successful Orioles squad rattles me to my core. League pundits offer little consolation, forecasting a similarly unfruitful 2018 season. At the center of our team’s potential standing next season, I feel, is third-basemen-and-soon-to-be-shortstop Manny Machado. Simply put, he’s the face of the franchise. Crucially, his star power has shot him out of a role in the Orioles future: he’s too good for us. Even in a down season last year, batting .259 with 33 homers and a measly 107 OPS+, Machado and his agent expect a long-term deal that may approach $400 million in total evaluation in the mind of Fox Sports writer Ken Rosenthal. Accordingly, many fans—and as we now know, the front office—would like to move Machado in an effort to gain something from his value before he walks to a big-money, big-market team—cough, The Yankees, cough.
My view on the matter differs. Yes, there’s little hope in keeping Machado, but against all apparent logic, I say we don’t trade him just yet. I’m not just an inane Orioles fan who worships our third basemen. You see, I want the juniors, sophomores, freshmen, to understand the ecstacy of an orange ALDS, which relies on a successful Orioles team behind a certain Manuel Arturo Machado. Despite every league analyst’s qualified opinion, I see a team in Baltimore that can shock the world and play deep into October. Our infield trio of Machado, Beckham, and Schoop, matched with young arms that showed flashes of brilliance last season in Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, can get hot and stay hot. Yes, our outfield lacks talent with the exception of an aging Adam Jones, our closer Zach Britton is out due to a busted achilles, and starting pitching remains a question mark, but we have the pieces, the most of crucial of which is Manny. With his greatness and at least average performances from the rest of our squad (I’m not asking for much; I’d even accept Chris Davis grounding out more often at this point), this Gilman News writer thinks we can win.
Gilman is in an orange drought. Waking up and attending the same institution every weekday morning for nine months is at times objectively mundane. The energy the Baltimore Orioles can provide to this school offers the student a chance to break from the usual pattern. We need postseason baseball, and we need it now. You may be asking yourself, wait, Michael, you’re a senior and won’t be here next year. Why do you care about Gilman experiencing an orange postseason next fall? Thanks for the question, reader, that’s a fair and well put together thought. At my core, I’m a baseball fan, and I support any opportunity to promote the world’s greatest sport at a time when my generation neglects it. What’s more, the tradition of the Orioles makes Gilman a better place. We’ve experienced the Ravens’ success in the early 2010s—an unmitigated triumph for school spirit. Still, the school comes together in some intangible, unique way when the Orioles have a shot at the fall classic. I’d say it’s because, although many don’t consciously think it, when the student body roots for the Orioles, we connect ourselves to kids in Baltimore across decades. When we cheered at Delmon Young lacing a double into the left-field corner in 2012, we were no different than those young Baltimore faithful that watched in awe at Brooks Robinson’s throw falling away from the third base line in the 1970 World Series. Routing for the O’s is in our blood.
So, Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter, you’ve built a pitching rotation featuring Ubaldo Jimenez, Yovani Gallardo, and Wade Miley over the past couple of years. Let’s make one last bad decision together: keep Machado for this season, and go for broke, for Baltimore and for Gilman
Michael Bradford Johnson