James Baker: The roller coaster of emotions

The Orioles continue to take their fans on a roller coaster of emotions. Yesterday, fans of the Orioles experienced both crest and fall with the announcement of playoff ticket invoices and the crushing defeat at the hands of the Texas Rangers.

In the middle of an uneventful Tuesday in Baltimore, the Orioles surprised their fans with the announcement of the year so far: Playoff tickets are on sale now. Baltimore. Orioles. Playoff tickets. Think about those words for a bit and now try to convince yourself that it is reality and not some sort of madman's fever-dream. Yes fans, the Orioles are taking American currency for playoff tickets, at least for season plan holders at this point.

I was a partial plan holder for the last two summers, but I did not renew this year. My choice to not renew was not done out of frustration or lack of desire - rather lack of funds. I never for a second regretted my decision to not renew my plan - until yesterday. I saw the picture of the tickets, and my heart hurt - just a little bit. Playoff tickets. I honestly never thought I would see this day come so soon and I don't know how to process it. As excited as the thought of playoff tickets makes me, it also fills me with a certain sense of dread. That was confirmed last night in Texas.

On the anniversary of the infamous 30-3 game, the Orioles took on the Rangers once again, this time in Texas, and the result was similar. Adrian Beltre hit three home runs, two of them in one inning, and Mitch Moreland hit a grand slam as Orioles pitcher Tommy Hunter was victimized in his return to Texas to the tune of a 12-3 defeat.

Nick Markakis drove in all three of the Orioles' runs. Catcher Matt Wieters gave Orioles fans everywhere a fit of nausea as a foul ball cracked the All-Star catcher on the shoulder. With the game out of hand Wieters was lifted from the game and fans learned that X-rays were being taken. You could hear the collective stomachs of the Baltimore region sinking at once. Thankfully, Wieters' shoulder is merely bruised and the day off should be more than enough recovery time.

The Orioles are having such an amazing, improbable, ridiculous season that is flying in the face of reality, math and all forms of common sense. Every win in the most enormous high and every loss feels like the beginning of the end. The Birds lost last night, badly. They have fallen a half-game behind the Oakland Athletics in the wild card race and remain five games behind the Yankees in the AL East. Despite the loss last night, the Orioles are still in the heart of the postseason race and sit 10 games over .500, even if it doesn't feel like it right now.

James Baker blogs about the Orioles at Oriole Post. His observations about the O's appear as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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