Archive for September, 2007

My love affair may be over

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

I heard this crushing news from Camden Chat. I’m pretty naive and I blame myself for being so out of touch with the Orioles for the last few years, but the news hits hard. My Orioles, my Orioles doping? No, please say it isn’t so.

I heard the news a few years ago about Rafael Palmero, but I thought he was an isolated case.

The Orioles are my team, and I can stick by them through decades of losing, but doping/cheating is too much. I already have issues with the MLB, the players salaries, the expense of tickets, and accepting that stadiums are named after corporations. What has happened to us? Are there any limits to our greed?

I hope that further investigation vindicates the players, and reveals that the Orioles staff had no knowledge and did not condone or encourage such behavior.

Just don’t tell me that Cal doped too, or it will be the end of me.

Keeping Score

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

It is with some effort that I attempt to write an entry about the Orioles that remains somewhat positive, as I sit here twenty minutes since the game has ended, still in utter disgust. My cat, who granted is smart, could have predicted how today’s game would end. Hell, who couldn’t. The good news, I suppose, is that the Orioles put up a fight and the game ended with reasonable numbers 3-2 in the Red Sox’s favor, of course.

The disturbing news is that Guthrie, who was pitching a good game, left with an injury. I’m sure everyone reading this understands the impact of that. When it rains, it pours.

Despite the frustration at the Orioles for blowing another attempt to come back from behind, I still enjoyed today’s game. I got a wild hair the other day and decided to do a search for scorecards. I found these templates from Microsoft. Yesterday, I half-heartedly kept score using the basic template, but today I found the more detailed ones which have room for substitutions and boxes for tracking pitch counts, etc. (See for yourself.) They’re great.

I’ve probably mentioned this story 100 times before, but one of the joys of scorekeeping is watching the patterns that emerge. In 1976 (I had to look up the year and was surprised that it was so long ago -I’m old!), Reggie Jackson was briefly on the Orioles. (Wearing an Orioles uniform didn’t make me like him any better.) One day, before the game, he and Jim Palmer had a discussion that went something to the effect that Palmer could predict where the batters were going to hit the ball and Jackson didn’t believe him. (You’ll have to forgive me, since I was only nine at the time, I might not have the exact details of the argument correct, but anyway you get the gist. I looked online to see if I could find another reference to the incident, but haven’t turned up anything.)

In one inning, when the batter stepped up to the plate, Palmer turned towards the outfield and gestured at Jackson to move, waving him a little left, a little right. As a fan, we weren’t privy to why Palmer was doing this, but when the batter hit the ball, it went directly to Jackson. He didn’t move an inch. It was extraordinary! The next batter came up and Palmer again turned to Jackson and repositioned him. Once again, the ball was hit right to him. I think Palmer made his point, whatever it was. I guess Palmer always did his homework and knew his batters.

I’m sure with computers today, there are ever more sophisticated statistics. For the Orioles current bullpen, I’m not sure that memorizing the batter’s hitting patterns would be as useful as just remembering their role as part of the Orioles organization to try to to get the batters out instead of helping them to score runs.

Anyway, the nice thing about scorekeeping is that it keeps you focused on what’s happening in the game. I can’t keep score and do anything else and it forces me to relax and just enjoy one thing, a bit of a guilty pleasure to spend four hours just watching the game. What a luxury.

In life, they say that it’s not a good idea to keep score. Don’t make an effort to remember how many times you were the inviter or invitee, don’t keep track of the gifts given and received, how many times you were the one to say sorry first. Keeping these statistics in our daily lives is a guarantee for disappointing relationships. As I write this though, it occurs to me that our thinking on this is all wrong. Maybe the problem is that we don’t keep score accurately enough?

The thing is, whether we like to admit it or not, we do keep score. We may not realize that we keep score until the moment when we feel like there’s a great deficit, by then an accumulation of hurts and mistreatment enabling us to reflect back and recount every one of the events that lead to the imbalance. At that point, we realize that a part of our brain devoted itself to keeping this mental tally even against our will.

The problem isn’t with keeping score, it’s that our accounting is often inaccurate. In a moment of frustration after a grueling day, we might remember that our spouse has had to be asked to take out the trash the last five times. At that moment, we might not be able to see clearly enough to remember the things our spouse has done, like watering the landscaping the last 100 times, and stopping by Blockbuster every week to make sure there’s a movie to watch over the weekend. We may also conveniently forget our own frequent shortcomings, like not keeping up our agreement to keep the bathroom counter clean of makeup and hair products.

Maybe it would be better for our relationships if we did keep better track of our hits, runs, and errors. We would see more accurately the facts about the patterns in our relationships, the relationships that are bad for us and the ones that are good for us. We would know when a relationship is toxic and continues to be toxic, the bad far outweighing the good before we’ve invested too much of our precious life energy. We would see the big picture, instead of focusing so much on a moment in time and turning a strikeout into a .100 batting average, we would be able to see the true batting average of .700, seeing the strikeout in the context of a series of hits, RBIs, and homeruns. We would be able to notice and correct a pattern of poor fielding before it caused irreparable damage to the team. We wouldn’t be able to manipulate stories to suit our purpose, the facts always there, telling the truth. We would have to admit to all the times we overthrew to first, or worse, home, and barely ran to get to get the hit that resulted in a go ahead run for the opposing team.

I can’t say I’ve thought this through thoroughly, so I reserve the right to change my mind, but my first thought is that perhaps we could improve our relationships by creating a scorecard. Doing so would eliminate our ability to focus on what’s wrong with our friends and relatives, and would force us to evaluate ourselves more honestly, realizing our own imperfections when we would rather choose to downplay or ignore them. In our impatient moments, we would be able to see the big picture of a history of all the good things in our relationships and approach a mistake with more forgiveness and equanimity, keeping perspective about an event in time.

I had an older friend once who said, “Whenever you have a problem, first look in the mirror.” It was the best piece of advice anyone ever gave me. Sometimes unfortunately, we spend more time pointing the finger than looking in the mirror, and yet that mirror is such a valuable tool.

Cal Ripken, Jr. in his Hall of Fame speech talked about the life lessons and skills that baseball teaches: teamwork, practice, discipline, and patience. Baseball is known as the sport of statistics.

Is it possible that it can teach us something else, the value of keeping score and accumulating accurate statistics to improve our relationships?

By Scott! We’ve won!

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

What a game!! What a day!

I had some friends over for dinner and I have to admit I was a bit nervous that I was going to have to forego watching the game. I informed them ahead of time that the Os were playing the Sox and it was just a fact that at 7:00 we’d be watching, but I thought, realistically, as a good hostess, them not being fans of the game, I couldn’t really subject them to baseball, let alone the Orioles. However, when game time came, they willingly agreed to sit and watch (the joys of polite guests) and I wasn’t going to miss my opportunity.

So I was watching when Scott Moore hit a grand slam! I can’t tell you the rest of the specific details before that because I was trying to be engaging with my guests while glancing back at the tv every chance I could. We were scoring runs like nobody’s business and I was glad that since my friends had limited exposure to the Orioles, they were getting to see something redeeming in my team. I was particularly glad that the Orioles were playing reasonably professional looking baseball so that I didn’t accidentally say any bad words in front of their four sweet children. (Their children are adorable! Hannah, the youngest at 7, is so precious, you could eat her up.)

My friends left after the big inning and I got to watch the rest of the game in peace. What a game it was. I pulled out the scorecard I downloaded from Microsoft and kept score for the first time in at least twenty years. We had such a big lead that when the Sox predictably scored a run in the top of the ninth, it didn’t put our winning in jeopardy.

And the very best thing about the game? Boy, were those Red Sox fans quiet!!

Tomorrow is going to be the bomb. We wanted to go to the Greek Festival on Friday night, but then I would have had to miss the game, so we decided to put that off until tomorrow. So Greek food, leftovers from dinner today, lots of fresh fruit, and the Os.

Then, we start packing for our vacation.

Predictability and Surprises

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

Today’s word of the day:
commination \kom-uh-NAY-shuhn\, noun: 1. A denunciation. 2. A threat of punishment.

Let’s use it in a sentence.
1) Comminations have been issued from both teams for Daniel Cabrera’s intentional pitch to hit Dustin Pedroia in last night’s game.
2) After Cabrera nearly hit Dustin Pedroia with an intentionally aimed pitch towards his head, the Boston dugout emerged angrily onto the field. Despite repeated comminations to restrain himself, Cabrera continued to incite argument that resulted in the Orioles dugout, and both bullpens rushing the field in preparation for an all out boxing match.

Here’s a review. In the fourth inning Cabrera, nervous about Crisp on third, balked, sending him home and resulting in a 3-0 Boston lead. Now, I suppose, angry about this, Cabrera lost his cool and took aim at Pedroia. I’m so naive, I thought he must have done it accidentally. Our bullpen is so pathetic, I can’t even give them credit for having enough mastery over their pitches to control where they go. At this point, I just assume that when a pitch makes it over home plate, it’s by some extraordinary stroke of luck, especially since the pitches aren’t the sort to help the Orioles win a game. If they had control over the ball, one assumes the pitchers might understand their role as part of the Orioles roster to limit the runs scored by the opposing team. A look at the score of any game in the last month will clearly demonstrate this lack of understanding by the Orioles bullpen.

At any rate, Cabrera took aim at Pedroia and members of the Red Sox dugout immediately emerged onto the field. Instead of collecting himself, Pedroia continued to lose his temper, and provoke a fight. He had to be held back, first by one of the umpires, and later with the help of Melvin Mora. Both dugouts and bullpens spilled onto the field ready for the ensuing brawl. I bet as frustrated as the Orioles must be, they were itching for an opportunity to release some aggression. Palmer said during the hoohah, “They might as well just tackle each other.”

Narrowly, the teams escaped any punches being thrown, but I found myself almost wishing for someone to put Cabrera on the DL. It’s not bad enough that we can’t pitch, but then we act like school kids getting angry at the other team because we can’t pitch? Haven’t we endured enough shame at the hands of our pitching staff this year?

The rest of the game was pretty uneventful and no surprise, we didn’t score even one run.

I pity Dave Trembley. I think of his joy the day he accepted the job as manager and what a miserable experience managing the Orioles must have been for him since that day. I bet he lays awake at night trying to figure out new strategies, new lineups, new combinations of his pitchers and wondering how he let himself get in this situation. Poor guy, his bubble burst, a long awaited dream turned nightmare.

Yet, for every press conference he maintains his composure, even last night, when he was struggling to hold back his frustration about Cabrera’s unacceptable behavior. He continues to stand up for his team and compassionately coaxed Cabrera off the field when he was ejected, deservedly, I might add, when I’m sure a part of Trembley really wanted to throw his own punch to Cabrera’s head.

The final score was 4-0.

So once again, I find that the Orioles surprise me in new ways. I can’t remember the last time I saw a bench clearing incident. And simultaneously, the Orioles are as predictable as the rising sun. Much like the sun they’re always in a lot of heat, they’re hard to look at, you stick around too long (past the sixth inning), you’ll get burned, and while they provide some warmth, sometimes you just need to get away from them and cool off.

Tonight’s game will be even harder to watch. The stadium will surely be packed with even more Red Sox fans and I’ll miss at least the first hour of the game. We’re having friends over for dinner and I’m afraid I’m going to be a rude hostess hurrying them out the door as quickly as possible. By the time I tune in, we’ll be down a good five runs if things are going well. At least we have the DVR so I won’t have to miss anything worth seeing. The question is, will there be anything worth seeing?

Jeremiad: V. 07, Edition 109, Prayer proves futile

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

Here are two new words for tonight’s post:

toper \TOH-puhr\, noun: One who drinks frequently or to excess.
animadversion \an-uh-mad-VUHR-zhuhn\, noun: 1. Harsh criticism or disapproval. 2. Remarks by way of criticism and usually of censure — often used with ‘on’.

Can you guess the outcome of tonight’s game? Before you jump to conclusions, let me tell you that the Orioles took the lead in the first inning and came from behind twice. The game stayed tied for three innings until one team scored in the ninth. Can you guess who it was?

Oh, who am I kidding? If you didn’t know already that it was the Red Sox in the top of the ninth, then you’re either stupid or as hopelessly in denial about the Orioles as I am. Let’s be honest, those two words are synonymous. It is with great animadversion that I say it’s amazing I haven’t become a wretched toper by now. I’m only wretched.

Here’s the real animadversion, with the focus on adversion (to winning) and adversity, our baez team is really hoey. What should have been the first out in the top of the ninth, resulted in Coco Crisp getting on base because Brian Roberts was unable to pick up the ball. It’s true I haven’t played in the majors but that looked like a routine out to me. While Varitek was batting, Crisp made an attempt to steal second and was successful. Why? Again, he should have been out, but Hernandez’s aim is worse than a 3 year old’s and our fielders are no better. After that, Varitek’s line drive easily allowed Crisp to score and that was the go ahead run for Boston. Yet another crushing defeat.

It took about every ounce of willpower to not grab every object in the room and throw it at the tv. It’s maddening beyond description.

Someone in the chat room put a Boston hat on after that. I question how he can even own such a loathsome object, but I sympathize with his disgust. Even I feel like giving up. You stick with them through the whole game, just hoping for that ninth inning comeback, or even better, holding onto a lead they already have! What reward is there? If I feel this defeated, I can’t imagine what the team feels like.

On the other hand, what are their salaries again? I could stink for that kind of money.

They’re killing me. Toperism isn’t far off in my future. Tankeray, liquor of losers.

A small part of me feels like someone in the universe ought to take some pity on us. I mean, is it possible to lose this badly, night after night, by coincidence? A higher power must be at work, it’s the only logical explanation.

I’m not generally of the opinion that there’s an afterlife or all powerful forces at work, but it’s given me pause that before Wild Bill died, the Orioles were really close to third place – I mean with a lot of luck close to third. I told my husband all about how we were going to at least finish third, we were on such a roll. Since Wild Bill died, we don’t just lose, we lose in a hateful, make the fans bleed from their eyes kind of way.

As a rule, I don’t pray. I haven’t seen much utility in it in my life, but then maybe I’m just not one of God’s favorite people. At any rate, I don’t think I’m powerful enough to influence God to do what I want just because I’m miserable, or happy, or want it, or asked politely (and sometimes not so politely). But this team makes me hurt so bad, they’ve reduced me more than once to plaintive cries, “Please God, please let them get another out, please, and make this inning end,” and “Please God, please, can’t we use a pitcher from the other bullpen?” Once again in my life, prayer has proven to be futile.

I can barely feel anymore, my brain has made me numb to protect me from this repeated abuse. If you know me personally and happen to be reading this, wonder not anymore why I always expect the other shoe to drop. You see, as a lifelong Orioles fan, you never trust things that seem to be good until the event is done and passed and you have the pleasure of reflecting back on it, time unable to take steal your joy.

This is why I live by cautious optimism, “Sure things are great, but I’ll let you know at the end of my life how it all turned out. It’s just too soon to tell yet.”

As an Orioles fan, even in the ninth, with two out, and two strikes, and no men on base, with an Oriole lead, it’s just too soon to tell yet.

Sisyphus had it good

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Sisyphus has nothing on the Orioles fans. Tonight’s game against Tampa, let me say that again so you get the full effect, Tampa, ended 17-2. Guess which team had 17 and which team had 2. We Oriole fans are running out of analogies to describe this team and this season.

Several times during the game I updated my husband on the score. He replied, “You act like it’s out of the ordinary.” Sadly, from his perspective, this is ordinary. This is the first season he’s ever been subjected to games, night after night. This is all he knows of the Orioles, with their hideous fielding and their…their…the word doesn’t exist yet to describe the bullpen. In fact the Orioles could probably coin a new word to describe the worst possible bullpen in baseball history. There was a time when I would have called it a “Stanhouse,” as in, “the Orioles stanhouse bullpen failed them once again.” Now though we have so many choices, how do you narrow it down. Baez? Cabrera? Hoey?

So I won’t waste your time recounting the details of yet another baez game with our hoey bullpen. You know the story already. At least I have the fans at Camden Chat. I’m so thrilled to have found them. They make me laugh, and remind me that I’m not alone. There might not be a big Orioles audience, and it might be decreasing at an accelerating (speed of light) rate, but at least we have each other.

Tonight daydztoe brought the Tankeray, the liquor of losers, moonshine of the Orioles fans. See a picture of it here. With his permission, I’ll post it later on the Orioles page.

Tomorrow night starts the series against Boston. Maybe if I start drinking with my morning coffee, I’ll be able to get through the game. One day at a time.

Well butter my butt

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

and call me a biscuit. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what that Southern expression means, but I love it so much that I look for any opportunity to use it. My Southern accent isn’t bad either.

The Orioles WON. I know what you’re thinking, but fear not. You are okay. No need to make an emergency call to your doctor to report the sudden onset of Wernicke’s aphasia. You read that correctly.

I’m not guaranteeing that the world isn’t ending though and to be honest, I feel a little unsettled. There’s a kind of peaceful joy enveloping me and I don’t know what to do with it.

What I hope Trembley has realized is that just like with every dysfunctional relationship, the important thing is to break the existing destructive, entrenched pattern. Whereas normally we have the lead and then approach the opposing team and say, “Hey, would ya’ll like to win tonight?” and they reply, “Hell yeah” and we say, “Okay, hang tight. We’ll pitch you a bunch of homerun balls.” Tonight we tried something different. We decided to wait to score and then came from behind to win it.

I do seem to be gradually learning to take the Os in stride, and with some more exposure, I may yet be able to calmly watch a typical game without revealing my seething rage.

There’s only one more week of games for me. We leave next week for our vacation, so I hope I get to see a few more winning ones – particularly this weekend against the hateful Red Sox. Saturday we’re having friends over for dinner and even though they’re from D.C., they’re not particularly Orioles fans. I know, I find it appalling too. The good news is that through my influence they’ve learned to hate the Ys. I’m rather proud of that. One fan at a time.

Sleep tight, mes amis! Savor our victory!

The Making of Tankeray

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

jeremiad \jair-uh-MY-uhd\, noun: A tale of sorrow, disappointment, or complaint; a doleful story; also, a dolorous or angry tirade.

Welcome to yet another jeremiad about the Orioles.

I should title every Orioles blog post “Yet Again, We Lost, We Had the Lead, but Decided We Were Just Kidding, We Really Don’t LIKE Winning.”

Here’s the short version – we were ahead by 4, early on, like usual, gave up the lead, as usual, then gave up more runs, as usual, then scored a couple more runs, but were so far behind there was no way possible to catch up, as usual.

Gary Thorne said, “Tonight though, that bullpen did not have it.” It reminds me of the weather in Tampa. The weather forecast is the exact same thing every day. In the winter, the temperature is 83 degrees with a chance of rain. Every day. The weather reporter could go on vacation and play the same clip and you wouldn’t know the difference. The Orioles are much the same way. The uniforms on the other team change, but otherwise, it’s the same predictable, painful pattern night after night.

Perhaps the most interesting thing was a “bad” call by the first base umpire in the 3rd inning. Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford was called out at first, but he was safe by a hair. Perhaps. It was hard to tell even with the DVR. Crawford lost his mind. It’s not like it was the World Series and it’s not as if TB wasn’t going to win the game anyway. He jumped about three feet in the air and threw his helmet on the ground. In the end it made no difference. Tampa scored three runs that inning and tied it in the 4th. Then scored five more in the remaining painful five innings, starting with three in the bottom of the seventh. Does that sound familiar?

I made progress tonight. I didn’t curse once. I mentally prepared myself for the seventh.

If needed, I can always rely on Tankeray. It’s an Orioles-branded Moonshine created by some folks at Camden Chat. For sale during every Orioles game.

At the end of the game, I’m sure I looked disgusted (after we scored three in the ninth and it still wasn’t enough) and my husband said, “Just don’t watch.” Just don’t watch. More than remembering to call home plate, “home” instead of “4th,” I’ll know he really gets it when he understands why I watch and how I can say something seemingly illogical like, “I still enjoy watching them.” It’s true “enjoy” isn’t quite the right word, but until I figure out a better word, it will have to do.

So tomorrow, I’ll prepare myself for another loss, and I’ll get the Tankeray ready for Duck, dayzdtoe, merdon, Balto, theWaywardO, and Born Under a Bad Moon, and we will drink virtually to numb our pain.

We make history again

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

Yippee.

Here’s the wrap from Os.com:

BOSTON — You may not have known his name when the night started, but you will by Sunday. Red Sox rookie Clay Buchholz no-hit the Orioles on Saturday night, etching his name into the record books alongside some of the all-time greats. Buchholz, who had made just one big league start before Saturday, never left much doubt in Boston’s 10-0 victory.

The no-hitter was the third of the season — joining Chicago’s Mark Buehrle and Detroit’s Justin Verlander — and the first against Baltimore in more than five years. Hideo Nomo no-hit the Orioles in April 2001. Prior to Saturday night, the Orioles were the only team in the Majors that hadn’t been shut out.

The Orioles never really came close to touching Buchholz, and only two plays even looked like they had a chance at breaking up his bid for history. Center fielder Coco Crisp made a long run to catch a ball in the sixth inning, and second baseman Dustin Pedroia robbed Miguel Tejada by making a highlight-reel diving stop and strong throw to first in the seventh…blah…blah…

Sigh. What can I say? At least we didn’t get close to scoring a run tonight, so at least I didn’t get my hopes up. A little easier to take than most games.