When the Orioles were looking for a new public address announcer last spring and mentioned that they'd need someone available to work post-season games, most of us chuckled — we should live so long, and be so lucky, we said.

Yet here we are; not in the playoffs yet, assuming nothing before it's time, but so elated, charmed, and thoroughly surprised that we can barely contain our smiles. Reluctantly, we're starting to ask, "Why Not?" We're explaining to loved ones who missed the glory years how great the O's used to be, and how great is the feeling of an inspiring team that seems bound to uplift us, rather than disappoint.

Everything they're doing is turning out right. Sixteen straight extra inning wins? Impossible but true. Contributions from every player, including all the mid and late season add-ons by GM Dan Duquette? You can look it up. A manager (Buck Showalter) so old-school and cool, yet doing right things every day, it makes you want to believe in miracles.

There really is no "I" on this team. Sure they've had stumbles, injuries, even errors, but they keep on coming back. It's over-used, but it's true — they don't quit. We miss Brian Roberts, and life can be hard, but the number of rising-to-the-occasion heroic performers who have filled in and lifted us up is stunning and wonderful.

Better to beat the Yankees and win the division, or to get in as the wild card and take the improbable worst-to-first idea even farther? Hard to say. It's enough to know that there really is such a thing as "Oriole Magic" from a scrapping, struggling, winning team. They're not just traveling mercenaries — they're ours. They're probably not unbeatable, but they've already won our thanks for making us proud, the way the '58 Colts and older O's did, and the Ravens in their turn; we're back in the big leagues, and the Oriole Way means something once again. Go O's.

Andy Barth