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In praise of the Baltimore Orioles

Posted by Alan Wirzbicki  September 29, 2011 04:04 PM

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BASEBALL_.jpg On my Twitter feed last night — a real-time catalogue of Red Sox angst — I came across more than one snarky comment about the Orioles’ game-ending pile-on at home plate. Wow, the tweeters grumbled (in not so many words). That’s a lot of joy for a team that’s going home, too. In last place. What do they have to celebrate?

Snark is an excellent way to deflect misery. But for me, the Orioles’ joy was actually a bright spot in a miserable night. Maybe that’s because watching grown men hug with glee is one of my favorite things about professional sports. (Unless those men are Yankees. I draw lines.) But really, the pile-on was proof that playing hard has its rewards, even when there’s nothing real at stake. Take it from the Orioles’ Robert Andino, who hit the game-ending double off Jonathan Papelbon. “Everybody wants to walk off," he told the Associated Press."It's priceless man, you don't have any words for it. Just enjoy it, and there's no tomorrow, so next year."

Yes, there might have been a smidge more than pure joy at work here. The Orioles clearly have lingering resentment toward the Sox after that bench-clearing brawl in July. (Andino also said he was glad “to make Boston go home sad, crying.”) Still, it was striking how hard the O’s fought all night, how much they refused to quit, unlike a certain team that managed to give up a 7-run lead last night. The Orioles played the 162nd game of the year as if it were a season in itself. That’s baseball. That’s sportsmanship, too.

Reuters/Joe Giza: Baltimore Orioles players celebrate their win over the Boston Red Sox yesterday.

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ABOUT THE ANGLE Online commentary and news analysis from the Boston Globe. The Angle is produced by Rob Anderson and Alan Wirzbicki. You can follow Rob on Twitter at @rcand.

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