The Baltimore Orioles were one of the best teams in baseball when I was a young kid. They had Earl Weaver and Jim Palmer and Brooks Robinson and Eddie Murray and lots of pitching. And they had a funny cartoon bird on their cap. But they won, and that’s what mattered.
In 1989, the year that the Jeff Ballard card shown above appeared, the Orioles did away with the bird. Ballard and his teammates were given a more bird-like creature to wear on their hats. And the team somehow stopped being good. They made the playoffs in 1996, but lost out to the Yankees. And they haven’t gone back since, until tonight.
The cartoon bird returned this season, and the Orioles are still playing games that count in October. Some won’t believe that there’s anything to that, thinking that the players could wear armadillos on their hats and still win, if they’re good enough. And maybe that’s true.
The overlap is too good to disregard, though. The Cartoon bird is back, and the Orioles are winning again. Coincidence? Who knows? I just know that I’ll be watching as they play meaningful games next week. The Bird is the word, or so it would appear.