Matthew Taylor: Hearing the call of Orioles Magic

Baseball in Baltimore doesn’t involve near the level of mythology that it does in bigger cities. We don’t have ghosts in our stadium and the only curses fans express involve neither the Bambino nor goats. If there’s any bit of enduring mystical lore around this team, it’s Orioles Magic, which has taken on different forms the past few seasons to be about something other than miraculous victories.

Earlier this week, I wrote about Orioles Magic in terms of comeback wins and walk-offs. Those types of rallies are central to the traditional understanding of Orioles Magic, and we’ve been fortunate to enjoy several of each variety this season. The O’s lead the division in comeback wins with 20 and walk-off wins with six. However, the team has lots of work to do to catch the most magical O’s outfits, the 1970 and 1974 Orioles who had 14 walk-off wins each.

It is said that Orioles Magic was born on a Doug DeCinces two-run, game-winning homer in 1979. However, if you look at the totals from previous seasons, it’s clear the Orioles were producing plenty of magic before then. Seven of the nine seasons in which the Orioles had double-digit walk-off victories came prior to 1979. DeCinces’ shot was as much the culmination of an era of never-say-die baseball as it was the beginnings of something new. His effort inspired us to give name to the concept.

When we look back on this current run of winning Orioles baseball, I believe the era will still be defined by Orioles Magic, but not the kind that instinctively comes to mind with comebacks and walk-offs. Rather, this modern brand of Orioles Magic is best described by a verse from the original song: “And you never know who’s gonna hear the call.”

Steve Pearce is the latest example of a guy who has heard the call in Baltimore under Buck Showalter. Pearce had never made an opening day roster prior to this season, played for three different teams in 2012, and was released and re-signed by the O’s in May. He’s gone on to post the second-best OPS in the American League in June at 1.099. His 10 home runs are already more than double his previous career high of four.

We should be used to this sort of thing by now. We’ve seen Chris Davis go from being considered a four-A player to end up as the franchise’s single-season leader in home runs. We’ve watched Lew Ford and Nate McLouth homer in the same game after a span of nearly two years where they weren’t even in the major leagues at the same time. And then there’s the bullpen, which could be a post all its own, and the emergence of closer Jim Johnson, who posted back-to-back seasons of 50 saves.

One simply needs to look at the 2012 team to understand that Orioles Magic has shifted. It feels, in retrospect, like that team had a ton of walk-off wins. In fact, they had seven, one more than the 2014 Orioles have produced so far. Magic was happening that season; it was simply of a different variety.

Many Orioles players have ended up wearing a Dangerously Delicious pie during postgame interviews in 2014. The next time it happens, think not only about what he did to earn the cream pie mask, but also who is wearing it. It will tell you who heard the call on that particular night.

Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. Follow him on Twitter: @RoarFrom34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of’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 but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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