One of the best things about being a sportswriter during a clinching celebration -- whether it's a division title like the Orioles captured Tuesday night or a World Series, which I've covered five times in my career -- is the ability to be in the middle of everything and observe.
To watch and listen to the sights and sounds going on around you. I saw a bunch of cool ones last night involving the team, but I'm going to start with a personal one.
Ben Barlow, the husband of the club's late public relations director, Monica Barlow, was in the clubhouse as the champagne celebration was going on. In one sense, it was a reminder that Monica, who passed away in February at age 36 after courageously battling lung cancer, wasn't with us. But it also was a reminder she was with us.
Ben was greeted by tons of players and friends, and one, Orioles video coordinator Mike Silverman, had the perfect line: "We have an angel watching from above tonight."
That line, that image, is what's going to stick with me the most.
But here are some other things I watched and are worth noting.
* Right fielder Nick Markakis, who had a broken thumb the last time the Orioles clinched a playoff spot in 2012, standing on the field, staring at the big screen, and taking everything in. He's the longest tenured Orioles player. He doesn't have a set contract for next year (he has a mutual option, but those almost never get picked up by both sides), so who knows if he'll ever do this again at Camden Yards. And you could tell Markakis understood that as he looked all around the ballpark for several moments before joining his teammates. No one has had a longer journey to this point than Markakis.
* Adam Jones, probably Markakis' best friend on the club, walking up to the right fielder, and carefully and skillfully rubbing a pie in his face while Markakis held his youngest son in his left arm.
* Nelson Cruz, with a helmet camera on his head, positioning it perfectly so he could record everything that executive vice president Dan Duquette said to him. I don't think it was to use in future contract negotiations; Cruz just wanted every moment to be captured. Duquette repeatedly patted Cruz on the shoulder and told him how great of a job he has done. Duquette deserves his own pat on the back for signing Cruz to a team-friendly, one-year, $8 million deal.
* The always smiling Ubaldo Jimenez, with misty eyes, talking about how much he treasured the opportunity to help get his team the clinching win after struggling so much this season.
* Markakis spraying little bits of beer every few seconds on Duquette's 6-year-old stepson, Brodie, who was giggling uncontrollably.
* Reliever Tommy Hunter, with two beers in each back pocket, walking over to the fans and spraying a beer on them. Hunter probably has gotten more heat from fans this year than any Orioles player besides Jimenez. But the fans were loving Hunter on Tuesday. He actually threw a full, unopened beer to one of the fans near the visiting dugout. There were a couple police officers nearby; they just laughed.
* Hunter smashing a pie into Darren O'Day's face. O'Day then grabbed his pregnant wife, Fox News reporter Elizabeth Prann, and kissed her. Prann later joked that the pie was for the baby.
* Zach Britton, who has worked out in the offseason with club vice president Brady Anderson, pouring a bottle of champagne on the former Orioles star while yelling, "This is for you, B."
* Buck Showalter, smiling ear-to-ear, with his wife and son. He always talks about how these are the players' moments. But, no question, it was his moment, too.