One last look back at 2012

Happy new year to everyone. I'll type quietly this morning in case your head is pounding.

When the ball dropped at midnight, I fully expected Wilson Betemit to be charged with another error. (I kid, I kid.)

I tried to avoid writing an Orioles-related remembrance and resolution blog entry yesterday because it's so cliched. Better to wait until today to be unoriginal.

The Orioles provided plenty of memorable moments in 2012. I often sat in the press box wondering exactly how they were in the playoff hunt while running so low on ammunition.

The CC Sabathia fastball that smashed into Nick Markakis' left thumb on Sept. 8 was supposed to end the hunt. Same with the various road trips to American League East cities before and after. And all those extra-inning games? That's usually death for a pitching staff. The bullpen gets fried, the next day's starting pitcher pays a heavy price and a losing streak ensues.

That's how it usually works, but not with the 2012 Orioles. They kept defying logic.

Ask anyone on the beat and he/she will point to the 17-inning marathon in Boston on May 6 as the single most memorable game. Chris Davis got the win, Darnell McDonald the loss. And it still sounds ridiculous eight months later.

Has it really been that long?

We saw Davis walk to the bullpen, laughed and went back to our writing. We saw him begin to warm up, laughed and went back to our writing. We saw him enter the game, laughed and couldn't take our eyes off him.

It was a year of oddities. Josh Hamilton hit four home runs in a May 8 game at Camden Yards. Two days later, the Orioles became the first team in American League history to have the first three batters of the game hit home runs (Ryan Flaherty, J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis). The last team to hit three consecutive homers to lead off a game was the Milwaukee Brewers on Sept. 9, 2007 (Rickie Weeks, Hardy and Ryan Braun).

Hardy batted second in both games. How crazy is that?

The Orioles were involved in consecutive games that featured a three-homer game by an individual for or against them (Adrian Beltre on Aug. 22 and Davis on Aug. 24). According to Elias, it was the first time in major league history that a team had been involved in consecutive three-homer games.

Davis became the fourth player in major league history to record a pitching win and a three-homer game in the same season, joining Guy Hecker of the 1886 Louisville Colonels, Babe Ruth of the 1930 New York Yankees and Jim Tobin of the 1942 Boston Braves.

The Orioles kept Elias on speed dial.

I stayed up for the 18-inning game in Seattle on Sept. 18, filing my last blog entry as the sun came up. I awoke a few hours later to breaking news that the Orioles were calling up top prospect Dylan Bundy.

The Orioles also had shocked the media a month earlier by promoting Double-A shortstop Manny Machado, their top position prospect, and putting him at third base. Did not see that coming.

Taylor Teagarden hit a walk-off home run in his first game with the Orioles after coming off the disabled list. Did not see that coming.

I feel as though I'm only scratching the surface here. Give me a few more minutes and I'd remember a dozen other games or moments that helped to define the 2012 Orioles.

It culminated for me with the wild champagne celebration in Texas. I hadn't been drenched in the bubbly for many years, and never to that extreme. Troy Patton emptied a bottle over my head. Brian Matusz emptied a bucket of ice water over my head. I wore at least one can of beer. I lost count.

My clothes marinated in that sticky concoction in a plastic hotel bag until I returned home the following night after going directly from BWI airport to Camden Yards. The scent of a whoa man! (OK, I tried.)

I considered striking a match and burning them, but it didn't seem appropriate during a season that wouldn't go up in flames.

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