What they're saying about the Orioles (and the Red Sox's collapse): Sept. 29

Here's a look at what other media outlets are saying after the O's beat the Red Sox in the season finale:

• Nando Di Fino of The Wall Street Journal writes about the "five perfect minutes of baseball" played across the major leagues on Wednesday night, including the Orioles' 4-3 walk-off win at Camden Yards.


The 2011 Major League Baseball season had started approximately 260,632 minutes before midnight struck Wednesday night. Just five minutes later, and the fates of two teams would be decided by swings of two bats 1,060 miles apart.

There was a beauty in the sudden turn in events on Wednesday, which sent Tampa Bay and St. Louis to the playoffs and put a coda on the epic collapses of the Red Sox and Braves. Millions of different scenarios had to play out perfectly for it all to happen, from the short-term (a rainstorm in Baltimore allowed for a delay just long enough to keep the Orioles-Red Sox game on pace with the Yankees-Rays) to the long-term (Dan Johnson's journey from Oakland prospect to Japanese baseball player to Tampa Bay reclamation project put him in the batter's box in the bottom of the ninth as a pinch hitter).


There were multiple heroes involved, and when you ask 10 people to re-tell the story of what happened, you'll get 10 different starting points. "Over five hours on a Wednesday night in late September," Yahoo's Tim Brown writes, "when baseball was supposed to be quietly ironing its bunting and hoping people soon would be paying attention again, the game willed itself to incomprehensible greatness."

• SI's Tom Verducci says the drama of Game 162 has never been seen before and likely never will again.

They will go down as the most thrilling 129 minutes in baseball history. Never before and likely never again -- if we even dare to assume anything else can be likely ever again -- will baseball captivate and exhilarate on so many fronts in so small a window the way it did September 28, 2011.

Starting at 9:56 p.m. Eastern, the grand old game, said to suffer by comparison from football's siren sisters of gambling and violence, and said to suffer from America's shrinking attention span and capacity to contemplate, rose up and fairly screamed, "Watch this!"

At that minute, the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves clung to twin 3-2 leads and the belief that they would avoid the completion of the greatest September collapses in the history of the sport, even if, in Atlanta's case -- the Braves appeared headed for a tiebreaker game with St. Louis -- it meant a 24-hour stay of execution. Boston seemed home free to October, seeing that Tampa Bay, its competitor for the wild card spot, was getting blown out by the Yankees, 7-0.

But what happened at that moment was the beginning of the end.

• Howard Ulman of The Associated Press writes about Boston's latest epic collapse.

Move over, Bucky Dent. Step aside, Bill Buckner. Make room, incredibly, for Jonathan Papelbon.

The star closer is the stunned symbol of the latest Red Sox collapse. This one lasted a month and finally ended when there were no more games left to lose.

"This is just maybe the worst situation that I ever have been involved in my whole career," designated hitter David Ortiz said. "It's going to stay in a lot of people's minds for a while."

No team has blown a bigger lead in September -- a nine-game margin through Sept. 3 -- and missed the playoffs. Boston went 6-18 after that and did not win consecutive games at any point in the month.



"This is one for the ages, isn't it?" general manager Theo Epstein said, a blank stare on his face.

• Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports chronicled how the momentum started to swing at Camden Yards.

When the ninth inning began, the Red Sox couldn't have been dwelling too much on Scutaro's blunder. They had a 3-2 lead with All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon on the mound.

Papelbon had labored hard all week -- 29 pitches in New York on Sunday, 28 pitches in Baltimore on Tuesday -- in victories Boston desperately needed. Now, manager Terry Francona called on him once more. It was an easy move, really, one that turned Francona into a spectator while his team's season was decided.

And for a moment, Red Sox fans flipping back and forth between the games had to feel confident that their team would taste champagne in short order. A Yankees rally was taking shape under the dome. In the top of the 12th, they put runners on first and third with no one out. They were one base hit away from taking the lead. After that, the Yankees would get three outs -- just like Papelbon was about to do -- and the Red Sox would be on their way to October.

Papelbon struck out Jones to start the inning. Then he struck out Mark Reynolds. The Red Sox were one out away. Who cared that somehow the Yankees didn't end up scoring in the 12th? Pap looked great. One more out, and the Red Sox would be assured of playing another game -- even if the Rays managed to come back.

But as the witching hour neared, the plot shifted.

• Rich Dubroff of CSN Baltimore says the season ended spectacularly, but lots of questions remain.

The stunning victory and sudden conclusion of the Red Sox' season meant a lot to the downtrodden Orioles, who completed their 14th straight losing season.

At least this one ended differently from the others.

The Orioles engulfed Robert Andino, and acted as if they had won the wild card.

"To end the season like this and make Boston go home sad and crying—I'll take that all day," Andino said.

While the win was exhilarating, it can't take away from their sixth straight season of 90 or more losses. There's still much for the Orioles to do.

[Compiled by Matt Vensel. If you enjoy reading these posts about the Orioles, Ravens and other Baltimore sports, check out Matt Vensel's Coffee Companion posts every morning, Monday-Friday.]

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