Major League Baseball

Orioles fans celebrate rare no-hitter to top MLB's good times last week

May 10

By Jake Mintz
FOX Sports MLB Writer

Who had a good time in baseball this week? 

Each Monday, we look at three "people" – managers, players, teams, cities, fan bases, etc. – who had a good time the previous week in Major League Baseball. 

What are we waiting for?

1. Orioles fans

I’ve been a shameless, passionate Baltimore Orioles fan since I entered this world on Sept. 5, 1995, the same day Cal Ripken tied Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played. My grandma, a lifelong O’s fan, left the hospital about an hour before I was born because she had tickets to see Cal.

I grew up going to Camden Yards with my grandfather and still have a Jay Gibbons signed baseball somewhere in my parents' house. In 12th grade, I wore orange and black all October, even when the other kids at my DC-area high school were fawning over the recently good Nats. In college, I took an overnight bus, alone, from St. Louis to Kansas City to watch the Orioles lose Game 4 of the ALCS to get swept by the Royals.

All this to say: For better or worse, I really love the Baltimore Orioles. And never once, until John Means shook the baseball world last Wednesday, had I really considered that they’d never thrown a no-hitter during my lifetime.

It wasn’t omnipresent like the Padres' situation pre-Joe Musgrove when they were the only team without a no-hitter. The Orioles last threw one in 1991, but it was one of those weird, combined ones that always feel less cool. Their last complete game no-hitter was Jim Palmer in 1969 when I was negative-26 years old, so that didn’t mean jack to me.

So as Means journeyed through the late innings of his dominant performance, I was struck by how invested I was. I know that sounds dumb — "Fan of Favorite Team Cares About Team's No-Hitter" isn’t exactly groundbreaking — but the experience of it being my team and my guy hit me harder than I thought. I didn’t know how much I cared about an Orioles no-hitter until it actually happened.

And I think the reason Orioles fans like me were buzzing so high on Cloud Nine on Thursday morning was because Means was the one who threw the no-no. No offense to Reds fans, but there wasn’t exactly an emotional connection between player and fan base when Wade Miley tossed his no-hitter on Friday night.

But Birdland cares about John Means.

The Orioles have not had a "dude" since Mike Mussina. If you want to be "that person" then I guess you could argue it was Erik Bedard, but please chill. Either way, there’s no doubt that the organization has struggled mightily, even during the 90-win seasons of the Showalter Era, to develop homegrown impact starting pitching. 

That’s what makes the no-no extra fulfilling for the fanbase. Means is the closest thing the Orioles have had to a No. 1 starter in decades. His no-hitter was more than a celebration, it was a coronation.

The Orioles have an ace, or at least something that smells like an ace. That’s not going to change the franchise’s fortunes overnight (just look at their series sweep to Boston over the weekend, yikes) but it’s a sign of progress. It’s a reason to be genuinely joyful about a not-good baseball team. And it’s an opportunity to praise Means for the pitcher he’s become.

2. The Bat Flip to Space

First things first, watch this work of art if you haven’t yet.

This is no question the highest bat flip that I’ve ever seen. It’s downright jaw-dropping. That Luis Santana flipped the bat that high and got it to come straight down and not fly in the wrong direction is sorcery.

Baseball culture’s relationship to bat-flips is changing, which is a good thing. Celebrating is much more accepted than it was even just a few years ago. It’s not perfect — grumpy elders of a bygone generation still whine into the void — but it’s getting there.

Part of the issue for years has been the way minor league players are conditioned to conduct themselves on the field. The joy is squeezed out and an archaic notion of "respecting the game" is prioritized. Just look at how much fun college baseball players have and then look at how those same players behave a few years later in Double-A. 

Not every homer needs a moon-scraping bat heave, but to see a minor leaguer like Santana feeling comfortable and empowered enough to unapologetically express himself on the field is a great sign. If any other minor leaguers can beat the height on Santana’s flip, I’ll donate 100 bucks to the charity of their choice.

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3. Cavan Biggio

Homering against your Hall-of-Fame dad’s longtime team is not a feeling that you, I or most human beings can relate to. But I have to imagine it feels pretty good.

This is even cooler for Cavan when you consider that he grew up in Houston, went to Astros games, played high school ball nearby and was certainly a huge Stros fan even beyond the fact that his dad was, like, the most iconic player in franchise history. Add to that the look on Craig’s face when the camera cuts back to him? Just beautiful stuff.

But you know in Craig’s heart of hearts he wants Cavan to go 4-for-4 with four homers, and for the Astros to win 5-4. He’s been Cavan’s dad since 1995 and joined the Houston Astros organization in 1987, after all.

Jake Mintz is the louder half of @CespedesBBQ and a baseball analyst for FOX Sports. He’s an Orioles fan living in New York City, and thus, he leads a lonely existence most Octobers. If he’s not watching baseball, he’s almost certainly riding his bike. You can follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Mintz

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