Archive for February, 2008

First Name Basis with Ken

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

Seeing a few of the ’83 Orioles, in a word, “ROCKED!” I was beaming from ear to ear. They reminisced about the World Series and answered questions from the audience. Before the Q&A, I was wondering what people would ask. I mean the audience was full of geezers. We were all there back then. What’s to ask. As it turned out, it was quite interesting.

One question posed to the former Orioles was “Do you think the ’83 Orioles could compete against the modern day Yankees and Red Sox.” Orioles.com quotes Ken Singleton’s answer,

There’s no doubt in my mind we could,” he said. “We had some pitchers. We could get people out. … In the tightest situations, you had all the confidence in the world.”

During the “…” Singleton said the most important thing, and one that I keep harping on, is that the outfielders on the ’83 Orioles knew who to throw the ball to and how to get it there. Bumbry added that he didn’t have as much arm strength so he compensated by always planning ahead, deciding with each batter where he would throw the ball if it came his way. Both Bumbry and Singleton joked that they did their job because if they didn’t there was a guy in the dugout “about this tall,” and here Ken held out his hand at about the height of the stool, “wearing a number 4, who would call you out in front of everyone and I didn’t want to hear it.” Bumbry echoed the sentiment. I wish the current Orioles would take this hint!

One of the best questions was, “What was your favorite game that wasn’t a World Series game.” The crowd applauded Stefero’s answer: his first game with the Orioles, stating how happy he was just to be in the big leagues surrounded by Orioles.

The same article mentions this woman, the first one to make a statement to the Orioles attendees:

“I just want to thank you guys for being the last ones to bring us a championship,” said an unidentified woman in the back row. “Hopefully, one day we’ll do it again.”

Unfortunately, the quote fails to capture her thick Dundalk accent, which added a special indescribable note to her sentiments. You just knew she was friends with Wild Bill and was at those games in Section 34. At the end of the Q&A, she started an Orioles cheer that, sadly, fell flat, most likely because we weren’t expecting it. We all did a mercy chime in at the end with a weak “Orioles.” I made a mental note to self that the most important part of the cheer is the lead up, getting the fans “buy-in,” in corporate speak. Or to only do the cheer drunk so I can’t remember the unenthusiastic crowd the next day.

During the autograph signing I couldn’t help but emote to Tippy, “I grew up behind Memorial Stadium so I watched you a lot” or something to that effect. John Stefero, sitting next to him, looked up at me and said, “That must have been fun!” How cool is that!!!

Later, I was watching the filming of Tom Davis with each of the Orioles (for ESPN). Ken Singleton who was up next, came and stood beside me. Some bozo was blathering on about something to him, completely monopolizing Ken’s time with me. He looked arrogant and was really getting on my nerves. I wanted to knee him in the misters and say, “Time to move along now.” I didn’t though. He finally left and here’s how my conversation with Ken went:

Me: Looking really nervous and stupid, “Hi!”
Ken: “Hi!”
Me: “Hi!”
Ken: Raising an eyebrow, looking a bit nervous, backing away, “Um…”
Me: “Hi!”

That’s how I imagine it happened, Ken feeling trapped and regretting being stuck there with me. In reality, I’m not sure how stupid I sounded, but if history is any guide, I’d wager pretty stupid. I was too nervous to remember everything we said. I know I asked him to confirm the rumor that he was working for the Ys. “Yes, I’m the announcer.” When I looked like :-O, he replied, “I was born in New York” as if that would somehow excuse his behavior. Oh well. I also asked him about the Bedard trade with a leading question, “Wouldn’t you agree that we should keep Bedard?” to which Ken responded that Sherrill was a really good reliever. I trust Ken’s judgment, so for the first time, I’m optimistic that trading Bedard won’t be the worst mistake we’ve ever made. The important thing is that we exchanged actual sentences and I was on my best behavior, and I didn’t pull out either boob for him to sign.

Within a couple of minutes, my mom came over, along with some service man freshly home from Afghanistan or Kuwait, or somewhere. I didn’t really talk to him, my mom did. I was too engrossed in standing next to Ken Singleton. My mom started talking to Ken and that immediately made me nervous. As we’ve established, she derives great pleasure from embarassing people, most particularly, me. I could feel my stomach winding into a knot. She told Ken how I drove all this way from Charlotte for the event and then Ken turned to me and said, “Thank you Crystal.” Aww shucks. No, thank you, Ken!

I needn’t have worried about my mom (this time anyway). Plus, the service man did the most embarassing thing. First of all he was flirting with me, proving that the poor man, bless his heart, must not have seen a single woman during his entire deployment. I wonder how many years he was gone. Then he shook Ken’s hand saying, “What’s your name, sir?” :-O

Since he’s just back from serving our country, I cut him a break.

In summary, the event rocked!!! Here’s my advice, when you’re feeling down and life is getting to you, to improve your outlook, attitude, and mental health, go see the ’83 Orioles!!