If the Orioles are on the verge of something wild and wonderful, you can bet the New York Yankees are lurking around somewhere.
The long-standing rivalry between the Orioles and the Yankees – and between Baltimore and New York – will be front and center again when the best-of-five Division Series opens at Oriole Park on Sunday night.
Who else, indeed? The Orioles battled the Yankees right down to the wire this year for the American League East title. The last time these teams met in a postseason series, of course, was the 1996 American League Championship Series that featured the infamous “Jeffrey Maier” phantom home run and a Yankees team that had been manager Buck Showalter’s first major league turnaround project.
Showalter was no longer the Yankees manager that year, but his fingerprints were all over that team.
The Orioles were the dominant team for a large chunk of the 1960s and ‘70s, but the Yankees owned the civic rivalry because of the huge upsets pulled by the New York Jets over the Colts in Super Bowl III and the “Amazin” New York Mets over the 109-win Orioles in the World Series in 1969.
No wonder Baltimoreans savor the opportunity to take a bite out of the Big Apple. Maybe this will be the year.