I shot the video accompanying this post from the upper deck behind home plate last night at Camden Yards. It’s less than a minute and a half — the last two pitches from Jim Johnson striking out Alex Rodriguez — and the wild scene during and after the final out of the O’s huge 3-2 win.
The clip starts with fans rising to their feet with two strikes on A-Rod, and then booing loudly when he calls timeout and steps from the batter’s box. The crowd soon rises again, cheering madly until Rodriguez takes Johnson’s ensuing pitch for a ball. (At this point, you can hear Baltimore author and life-long O's fan Rafael Alvarez, standing next to me, chime in: “You don't want Cano coming to the plate,” referring to the Yankee slugger in the on-deck circle.)
Finally, Johnson, who had already retired future Hall of Famers Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki, punches out A-Rod and Camden Yards explodes. Fireworks go off over the Eutaw Street scoreboard as the Oriole outfielders leap for a victory bump in centerfield.
I didn’t know if the craziness at Camden Yards was translating to television last night, but the ballpark was rocking from first pitch to last. Fans — every single one in some kind of O’s gear — were on their feet, jumping up and down, screaming, clapping, hanging on every pitch and twirling those white Oriole towels for nine innings.
Whether we beat the Yankees or not in New York over the next few days, if last night proved anything, it’s that Baltimore is a baseball town. A helluva baseball town. We needed a real team again, that's all.