The crack of the bat. The roar of the crowd. The click of the mouse.
The 2023 playoffs had it all. Marathon extra-inning games, young aces failing to show up on the mound, a disappointing end to a magical record-setting San Francisco Giants run...In the end, a Curse was broken and a new one took form.
After a disappointing 2022 season, the Baltimore Orioles set out to return to postseason play and prove their stellar 2021 season was no fluke. The Orioles won the AL Wild Card and came from behind in both the ALDS and ALCS before returning to where it all fell apart just two years earlier. The World Series.
A new foe was before them, but the same goal still there. They faced the Chicago Cubs, a franchise deemed cursed in the midst of a 115 year championship drought. While you might have overheard national pundits crack jokes of comparison between Mark Prior and newly injured firethrower Ben Willis, this was not the same team of the early 2000s or even 1969 or 84.
Game 5 saw questionable managerial moves and a bullpen collapse lead to a Cubs extra innings win, giving them command of the series heading back to Wrigley. In game 6, the O’s found themselves an out away from forcing game 7. With a runner on, Anthony Rizzo stepped to the plate to face one of the best lefty relievers in the game, Carlos Perez. Rizzo turned around a 94 mph fastball and sent it over the Ivy and into baseball history! The Cubs had won the Series! The Curse of the Billy Goat was over.
While Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, and the other Chicago homegrown stars celebrated on the mound, Orioles captain Manny Machado, with his head locked on the grass and dirt, headed toward the visitor’s dugout. This was not the first time he had made this walk. He remembered the all-too-familiar feeling from just two years ago. Birdland was told then their team was young and they would have to “wait another year.” They waited two. A team now filled mostly with veterans headed back to Baltimore wondering if maybe they are the ones who are cursed. If the 2023 World Series taught them anything, though, it’s that curses are meant to be broken.