Neither my heart nor my sleep patterns can take too much more of the heart attack baseball being played by the Baltimore Orioles.
But that said, I get a lump in my throat everything I simply think of the fact that the Birds are still playing baseball on Oct. 12.
Who would have thought it at the beginning of the season?
On April 10, I published a column about the clean slate that every new baseball season presents to all baseball fans, but especially to the long-suffering fans in Baltimore.
I wrote about the promises made, year after year, about this year's crop of youngsters, and the fan favorites who were routinely traded away or allowed to get away to teams offering better pay, and how it gets tiring to hear that this year is a rebuilding year.
There are only so many "rebuilding" years in a row that any fan can endure.
But these Birds of 2012 came out of the gates like gangbusters. I got all excited about a good start, only to be told by the naysayers that the season was young and not to get too excited about a team that would surely fade away by the All-Star break.
This team, with a just a few names that were familiar to me at the beginning of the season, has done what many thought was the impossible.
The gang of mostly unknowns hung tough all summer, never slipped lower than third place (and then still remained within a couple of games of first place), were in the running for first place in the division until the last two games of the regular season and managed to snag a wild card berth into postseason play when first place didn't pan out.
In a game that made me a nervous wreck, the baby Birds managed to beat the Texas Rangers (two-time defending American League champs) in that do-or-die wild card game to earn the right to battle the hated (in these parts) New York Yankees for the American League East title.
I think back to that column I wrote in April, and I think of Dundalk native Nancy Cook's grassroots efforts to create Orange Wednesdays in support of her favorite baseball team, and I just smile.
What a gift these Orioles have given to all Baltimore baseball fans, both long-suffering followers as well as the newly devoted!
The Orioles were so much in the thick of the division title that even the football season seemed to sneak up on us. Usually, by the time August rolls around, the baseball season in Baltimore is all but forgotten and all sports talk centers around the Ravens.
Not so this year.
Local shops are actually making money on Orioles merchandise (and having trouble keeping it in stock), and local pubs and taverns are filled with folks looking for a little camaraderie as they sit glued to the televised Orioles games.
The 2012 Birds have made an impact on our hearts as well as the local economy. They have allowed us to dream, to hope, to brag and to proudly wear our orange and black.
They have helped the coffers of many local businesses, whether through the sale of a glass of Natty Boh or a bright orange sweatshirt with the distinctive cursive Baltimore logo.
Some even say the resurrection of the cartoon bird (also selling well on merchandise of all kinds) played a hand in the turnaround of the team.
So the 2012 season all comes down to today's Game 5 of the American League Division Series.
The winner moves on to the American League Chamiopnship Series against the Detroit Tigers, and the loser goes home.
I of course want the Orioles to be the ones planning their attack on the Tigers.
But if these young Birds lose today, they will have absolutely nothing to hang their heads about.
They have given this town the ride of a lifetime (at least for many fans too young to remember the 1996 and ’97 playoffs, let alone any of the World Series championships).
Win or lose, the entire season has been a gift to all Baltimoreans.
I just hope I don't hear anyone calling our Orioles a bunch of bums if they lose today, because they are far from it.
And I hope that owner Peter Angelos keeps manager Buck Showalter and the rest of this team together and allows them to build on the success of this year—I want these Birds to remain in the nest for a long time to come.
But my biggest hope is that this time next week, I'm writing about the Orioles winning the American League championship.