There were two plays that personified the end of the year for the Baltimore Orioles in 2013, and those plays were a stark contrast to the jubilation of 2012.
If you revisit 2012, there are many plays from September that still stick out. The home run barrage against the Yankees in the 8th inning on Cal Ripken Jr. statue night.
Chris Davis’ long home run against the Rays in Tampa in a 1-0 game. Then rookie Manny Machado’s defensive wizardry where he caught Rays speedster Rich Thompson making a wide turn at third base (VIDEO: http://deadspin.com/5942850/manny-machado-faked-out-the-orioles-announcers-camera-crew-26076-fans-and-one-tampa-bay-ray). All plays of one of the greatest years in recent history for Birds fans.
But in 2013, the two plays in two innings (I had forgot they took place in the same game) that come to mind quickest for me are both U-G-L-Y. But the long-term ramifications ended up much different than initially expected.
There was Manny Machado, writhing in pain and screaming on the first base side at Tropicana Field. I remember the game was an afternoon game, it was sometime in the 5 o’clock hour when the injury occurred because I was supposed to be working, but was watching replays and seeing the thoughts stream in over twitter.
Many feared the worst. The Rays’ doctor, Koco Eaton, now one of Buck Showalter’s least favorite trainers, offered a grim prognosis. And Orioles fans felt 2014 start to slip away.
But, the results were not that bad. And now, Friday is the day where Manny will likely get the go ahead to return to baseball activities.
The other play, which occurred only minutes later may have been even scarier. Alexi Casilla, running full speed toward right field, collides with Nick Markakis (http://network.yardbarker.com/mlb/article_external/alexi_casilla_enters_game_for_injured_manny_machado_leaves_next_inning_after_headfirst_collision_in_outfield_video/14612356?linksrc=story_article_yb_original_head_14612356). Casilla has the ball in his glove, and then it falls out.
Casilla would end up on the disabled list with a concussion, and most Oriole fans felt that would be the end of his time in orange and black. But that may not be the case.
Alexi is back in black this season, as a minor-league signing with a spring training invite. I wouldn’t place the odds on him making the Opening Day roster as high, as he would have to beat out either Jemile Weeks or Ryan Flaherty. But if Weeks would win the 2B job, and Flaherty makes the team as utility player, there may be room for Casilla as a guy who can backup Weeks, J.J. Hardy, and Manny Machado.
The memories of the end of the 2013 season are ones O’s fans want to put to bed. As the calendar turns to February, it is time to do just that!