On Celebrating Good Times; Or, why can't the Flyers get drunk like the Orioles?

Ronald Martinez - Getty Images

A baseball team that never wins anything has celebrated more in the past weeks than the Flyers have in the past decades. What gives?

As most of you probably know, I am a Philadelphia Flyers fan. As fewer of you know, I'm also a Baltimore Orioles fan. I mostly just really like orange.

While the Flyers are perhaps the really goodest team ever (as I wrote in my last substantial post here on BSH), the Orioles have not been good at all in the past 15 years. They're stuck in an impossible division, and don't make life easier on themselves--or me, their fan--by historically choosing not to win games.

But the 2012 season has been different. The Orioles suddenly won a lot of close games, and despite a run differential that was negative for most of the season they finished some 24 games over .500 and made the playoffs.

When they clinched a playoff spot, the Orioles celebrated wildly. When they won a one-game playoff to advance to the divisional series, they celebrated wildly again, spraying each other with beer and champagne in a tarped-off locker room scene that is ubiquitous around the baseball postseason.

Making the playoffs isn't anything remarkable for my other favorite team. Dating back to 1998, the Flyers have made the playoffs 13 times and won 12 playoff series. Dating back to that same year, the Orioles have made the playoffs once and won 3 playoff games.

But despite that huge disparity, I've never seen the Flyers have any celebration even coming close to resembling the one the Orioles have now had twice within a month, which is counter-intuitive to say the least.

Why is that? Is it because baseball isn't really a sport and therefore binge drinking doesn't really impair performance? That's one factor. But it's also because baseball doesn't have the same hangups as modern hockey about there being only one ultimate prize to be won. Hockey players keep tunnel vision about the Stanley Cup while baseball players pass out Solo cups. A hockey team celebrates once they win the whole thing and the season is over, but that's a privilege limited to a cruelly small part of the population.

Is one really more conducive to winning than the other? Well, neither team has won it all yet, so who knows. But in this October, with one league locked out and the other just black out, it sure looks is less fun to play--and vicariously to root for--a team in the NHL (aka No Hoorays, Lads) than the MLB (aka Me Like Beer).

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