Visiting Clubhouse Manager Fred Tyler had about 100 bottles of champagne ready to go last night in case Tampa Bay clinched their first ever AL East division title.
The Orioles knew they were there before the game. That had to be irritating. Those champagne bottles just sitting there on ice had to make the O's a bit angry and envious. The least they could do was delay the opening of those bottles until the Rays left town.
Even though the Rays will most likely win the division, the Orioles didn't want the celebration to happen in their house.
Lucky for an already deflated team, it didn't.
Interestingly though, the Orioles were not responsible for the foiled celebration, as they lost to the Rays 11-6 last night. The only reason the Rays didn't clinch was because the Red Sox beat the Indians.
It would have been good for the Birds to be the ones to take the wind out of the Rays' sails. Right now, the team could use any kind of pick me up.
Kevin Millar knows how deflating a busted clubhouse celebration can be.
Millar was a member of the 2003 Red Sox when they lost Game 7 of the ALCS. Boston was up 5-2 on the Yankees in the eighth inning. The tarps were up, covering the lockers. The champagne was ready.
Then the Yankees came back to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth. Millar said the clubhouse attendants literally wheeled the champagne cases out of the Red Sox clubhouse and into the Yankees clubhouse. The Yankees went on to win the game and the series.
That had to be a depressing sight for the Red Sox. The Orioles wanted to create the same depressing sight for the Rays. Though the stakes weren't as high as they were for the Red Sox in the playoffs, the Orioles hoped to stave off an embarrassing moment.
In the end, they didn't have to watch the Rays win the division at Camden Yards, but their loss deprived them of the chance to play spoiler. At this point in the season, spoiling another team's division-clinching celebration is one of the few reasons to take the field.
The Birds are 29 games out of first place and they could have used that petty victory last night to help salvage pride and boost morale.
Who knows? Maybe the Orioles will use the Rays success this season as inspiration. The Rays were in the same place as the Orioles this time last year. It's a good reminder that anything is possible.
By the way, the Rays took the champagne bottles on the plane with them to Detroit.