My favorite Orioles-Yankees game of the last 15 years took place during the 2012 American League Division Series. On a chilly October night at Camden Yards, the Orioles beat the Yanks 3-2 to tie the series at one game apiece.
Yankee fans often occupied half the seats at Oriole Park during regular season match-ups, but the stands that night were a beautiful sea of orange and black. After 14 years of futility, the Orioles finally didn't stink, and the hometown fans took full, vocal ownership of the stadium.
The only thing about that night that wasn't great was that my wife and I were seated next to two of the relatively few Yankees fans in the stadium. As we found our row and began shuffling toward our seats, I spotted them, a husband and wife duo in those dreaded Yankee hats and coats.
I switched places with my wife so that she would sit next to them and not me and had a little talk with her. Jennifer is an Orioles fan but not a particularly fanatical one like me. I told her, "Listen, I know it's in your nature to be nice and make small talk with the person next to you, but not tonight. No talking to the enemy."
We sat there and cheered for three-plus hours and didn't so much as make eye contact. I didn't care if those Yankee fans were Peace Corps volunteers who orchestrated kidney donations to orphans in their spare time. Oriole Park was ours that night; they needed to know that they were not at home.
I am having similarly proud Orioles and similarly intense (and perhaps just a tad irrational) anti-Yankees feelings as this memorable 2014 regular season winds to an end. MLB and ESPN keep talking and writing about Derek Jeter's legacy and final visits to various stadiums. The Yankees plan to wear special uniform patches for the rest of the season to commemorate Jeter's career, and there's even talk of a ceremony at Fenway Park during Jeter's final game. (My friend Brett, a big Red Sox fan, is absolutely beside himself about this. "What are the Sox doing honoring Jeter!?" he texted me recently.)
Our turn, so to speak, comes tomorrow. The Yankees visit Baltimore for four games from Friday through Sunday, and the series will mark Mr. Jeter's last visit to Camden Yards.
Good riddance, I say.
Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
I have no problem with the Yankees doing special things to recognize their superstar at their park. Baseball is a nostalgic game, and Mr. Jeter has had a memorable career. But for the love of Cal Ripken Jr. and Eddie Murray, I am calling upon Orioles fans to not stand up and cheer for him.
I don't think Orioles fans should boo Mr. Jeter either. Just play the games. No ceremonies, no standing O's, no plaques, and please Orioles, no Jeter video montages.
Let's give their captain and his mates a real Baltimore send-off by beating them a few more times and wrapping up the AL East. Then when the Orioles visit Yankee Stadium for the last home series of Mr. Jeter's career, the Yankees can have all the ceremonies they like. By then, I hope the games won't even matter.
The Jeter era began back in 1996 when the Orioles were a competitive, top-of-the-division club. It's ending as the O's have finally returned to playing good baseball these last three seasons. In between? We stunk and they were great. Mr. Jeter, surrounded by the best teams money could buy, reached the playoffs in 16 of 19 seasons. He's won five World Series titles and played in an absolutely absurd 158 postseason games.
Those numbers don't make me want to clap; they make me want to puke.
I can't wait for the series to start. I hope the Orioles sweep and see to it that Mr. Jeter only plays in 158 postseason games, not one more. For that I'll stand up and cheer.
Greg Abel is president of Baltimore-based public relations firm Abel Communications. He never had a better summer job than those three seasons he spent selling hot dogs, sodas and beer at Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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