Prior to Wednesday’s game three of the ALDS between the Orioles and New York Yankees, we heard a lot about Jeffrey Maier. Maier was the then-12-year-old fan who interfered with a Derek Jeter fly ball in game one the 1996 ALCS.
Maier’s actions led incompetent umpire Richie Garcia to rule the Jeter fly ball a home run when it should have ruled an out. Instead of being thrown out of the stadium for fan interference, Maier became a celebrity.
Wednesday night, the Orioles played their first postseason game in New York since 1996 and they lost in heartbreaking style.
Unlike 1996, there was no controversy. Just a veteran player coming up huge.
The Orioles were two outs away from taking a 2-1 series lead over the favored Yankees when Raul Ibanez added his name to the list of athletes who has broken the hearts of Baltimore fans.
Ibanez, pinch-hitting for the struggling Alex Rodriguez, spanked a Jim Johnson pitch into the right field seats to tie the game at 2-2.
Three innings later, Ibanez homered again– this time off Brian Matusz–to win the game and push the Birds to the brink of elimination.
Prior to Ibanez’s heroics, the Orioles had won 16-straight extra inning games and were 76-0 when leading after seven innings.
By the way, Baltimore is now 0-3 against New York this season in extra’s.
However, before we put a period on this season, let’s remember that the day after the Maier debacle the Orioles beat the Yankees, 5-3.
Unfortunately, they would still go on to lose the series.
My point is, the Birds do have a game on Thursday. But there is no tomorrow for Buck Showalter’s crew.
They have to win.
Raul Ibanez has pushed them to the brink.