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Steve Likes to Curse
Writing, comics and random thoughts from really a rather vulgar man
O’s 4, D’Backs 6, but still a hell of a day 
Sunday, June 17th, 2007 | 07:06 pm [baseball, personal, writing]
Steve
We left for Baltimore a little after 10 this morning to give ourselves time to get lost. We needed some of it, first to find the ballpark and then to find a parking lot. The long walk from the lot to the ballpark took us across a bridge that ran over the train yard. Only mass-transit trains run those tracks today; years ago, the entire Camden Yards area was a rail yard. The B & O Railroad had trains coming and going all day long. I wondered how often Pap’s work on the railroad brought him here as a young man, and how different the place must have looked then.
 
I was struck first by the immensity of Oriole Park on the outside, and then by how humble the field looked inside. Not to say it wasn’t a gorgeous, immaculately tended field, but it looks so enormous on television; looking down on it as an actual place took a minute to get used to. We got to our seats about an hour before game time, in time to watch the Diamondbacks warm up playing catch. I watched as members of a mediocre major league team effortlessly whipped baseballs 200 feet back and forth with almost perfect precision. Such are the requirements merely to play; imagine how superlative an athlete must be to excel at this level.
 
Near the stands in shallow left field the team mascot, the Bird, had arranged a makeshift diamond with a set of practice bases, and played wiffle ball with some kids. He’d lob an easy one to the kid, who would whack it with one of those big red plastic bats and take off running for first. The Bird futilely chased the first kid in a circle to first, then second, third, and home, waving the ball but unable to make the tag. The second kid hit the wiffle ball pretty good over the Bird’s head; on his way to retrieve the ball, the Bird picked up second base and flung it into left field. Not missing a beat, the kid ran the extra fifteen feet, touched second, and turned toward third. For the next kid, the Bird tried throwing himself over second base, smothering it so the base runner couldn’t touch it; that kid simply bypassed second altogether and cut straight across to third, then home. When it was finally the Bird’s turn at bat, he whacked one over the head of his 5-year-old pitcher and took a victory lap around the bases as though he’d just bounced one off the side of the warehouse.
 
The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by a retired brigadier general and cancer survivor. The old guy had to be pushed out to the infield in a wheelchair, and needed a cane to stand. Someone stood beside him to steady him as he made his throw. The ball rolled off the tips of his fingers, hit the grass about a third of the way to the plate and rolled mildly into the catcher’s waiting glove. We applauded him as they rolled him off the field. A few minutes later, an a capella group sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I looked around the ballpark, watching the pitchers continuing to warm-up in the bullpen, watching the other fans; my father’s eyes never moved from the American flag on left-center field.
 
The game itself wasn’t bad. Starting pitcher Brian Burres gave up a homerun on his second pitch, and two more runs in the second, but then settled down and pitched very solidly through the seventh. When it appeared manager Sam Perlozzo was going to pull Burres from the game in the bottom of the 7th, the fans erupted in boos. Perlozzo left Burres in, Burres struck out his last batter and left the mound to a standing ovation. The game was tied 3-3 at that point, the O’s having made things interesting in the previous few innings. Their bullpen allowed the D’Backs to score three more in the top of the 8th.  The O’s got one back in their half of the 8th. The Bird spent the bottom of the 9th nervously pacing the roof of the Baltimore dugout, stopping every few seconds to encourage us to clap or lead us in cheers. The Orioles managed a few men on base, but 6-4 D’Backs wound up the final score. An Orioles win, rather than their 8th consecutive loss, would have been nice, but the score was beside the point. On the walk back I slapped my Dad on the back and told him, “Happy Fathers Day.” He laughed. “This was a good present,” he told me.
 
Far from being a once-in-a-lifetime experience, what we saw today happens at least 81 times every year in Baltimore, with some slight variation in the details. Yet its normality renders it no less wondrous. Of all the gifts we have given ourselves, surely baseball is one of the finest.
Comments 
Monday, June 18th, 2007 | 12:16 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you had a good time at the ballpark. I'm probably the only one in Maryland that doesn't like Camden Yards. I think it too shtick. The whole fake old time theme doesn't impress me too much. It reminds me of Main Street at Disney Land. It's fake.

Worse, they go with the old time feel and then don't use an organ. They pump the ridiculous music every time a player comes up to bat. I remember once seeing Eddie Murray come up to bat and they were playing 'Rock You Like A Hurricane'. That looked so retarded. Dodger stadium has an organ. Why can't Camden Yards?

I don't like the foul areas either. As in there aren't any. Too many foul balls go into the stands instead of becoming easy outs. One of the reasons the pitching always sucks is because the Orioles play half their games in Camden Yards.


Monday, June 18th, 2007 | 01:45 pm (UTC)

It is definitely a hitter's park, no doubt about that. And the music is pretty silly. When they burned through two short relievers in the 8th inning and finally gave up and called in closer Chris Ray, his theme music was Marilyn Manson's cover of "Sweet Dreams." You'd think one of the fucking robots from Base Wars was rolling out to the mound.

Not all the music was bad, though. Hearing "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" over the speakers during the stretch was a highlight.

--Steve
Monday, June 18th, 2007 | 06:57 pm (UTC)
You must be good luck. You got to witness Sam Perlozzo's last game as the O's manager.
Monday, June 18th, 2007 | 08:59 pm (UTC)

Yeah, who woulda thunk it? Now I've had an experience I can share with future generations. I'm surprised Perlozzo hung on as long as he did. They should've hired Eddie Murray a few years ago, instead of Mazzilli, that fucking Yankee. And apparently they want Joe Girardi to replace Perlozzo. If they ever get over their fucking Yankee-envy, maybe rebuilding the team could finally go somewhere.

--Steve
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