Let Millar, an analyst for the MLB Network, dissect his old team:

"They are physical, they've filled the void at first base, and [center fielder] Adam Jones has turned into a superstar. I'm surprised the starting [pitching] staff has stayed in the game this long, because they don't have one bona fide guy. It's a testament to the bullpen.

"It's awesome that the city is grasping for a winner for the first time since 1997. When you're the doormat of the league, you get tired of looking up at New York and Boston. It's been fun to watch the Yankees play in [Camden Yards] with more Baltimore fans out there."

Not that Millar wouldn't enjoy being part of the Orioles' renaissance.

"I wish we were this good when I played there," he said. "But right now, it's nice to enjoy these 25 guys and to watch them do their thing.

"I've got friends on that club, and I'm going to live through them. That team has a chance to shock the world."

The Orioles have few bigger fans than Gibbons, 35, the onetime slugger who retired from baseball this year.

"It's so much fun to finally see them winning, even all the way from California," he said. "I shot [trainer] Richie Bancells a text message awhile back and asked him, 'Is this all for real?' He shot back, 'We're praying.'

"I've been on the phone constantly, checking their scores. My wife says, 'Give it up, you don't play for them any more.' But I can't help it."

The Orioles' success helps to shelve thoughts of the lost years, said Gibbons, who'd rather return here anonymously.

"Those were tough times, like in 2002, when we lost 32 of our last 36 games. So I don't need to reminisce when I come back to Baltimore," he said. "Just a 'Hi, Howya doin?' from a fan or two would be fine. I don't want to get eggs thrown at me, or anything."

All Gibbons wants is to sit in the stands and soak up the fervor. Better late than never.

"The atmosphere at the ballpark will be crazy," he said. "I remember going to Ravens games and thinking, 'Man, it would be nice if we had that at our park.'

"Now, we will. And I have to be part of that."


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