Celebrating a blowout: When's it safe to rub it in the faces of 52,567 Yanks fans?
By Christopher Heun
The record defeat the Orioles suffered a few days ago at the hands of the Rangers is best replaced in our consciousness with memories of a lopsided win over the Yankees the week before.
For an Orioles fan living in New York, nothing could be more satisfying on an August evening than to sit in Yankee Stadium and watch the Birds pile up crooked numbers on the scoreboard while shutting out the home team. (And silencing the near-sellout crowd.)
Sure, it would be nice if the game actually meant something in the standings to both teams. Still, any night overrated Derek Jeter goes 0-3 is sweet. For Orioles pitching to hold the entire Yankees lineup to just two hits is a precious gift. And to hear Yankees fans sarcastically cheer their own players for finally recording an out is sublime.
But to have it all happen on the same evening, while the Birds score a dozen runs? It's like Christmas morning when I was six years old.
I was there Tuesday night, Aug. 14, when the Birds pummeled the Yankees 12-0. But since I was also in The Stadium April 7 when the bullpen blew a 7-3 eighth-inning lead and eventually lost 10-7, I knew better than to start celebrating prematurely.
The problem was, this time around I was too nervous to enjoy the game while it was still being played. In fact, I never really celebrated at all.
This prompts the question: How do you know when a blowout is locked up? Is it:
A. When Danys Baez enters the game. (Hint: This cannot possibly be the correct answer, since that’s what happened back in April, which eventually led to some meathead spotting my Orioles hat, pointing and shouting “Loser!” to the delight of his beered-up friends, who laughed heartily. Also, notice in the box score that Trembley didn’t use Baez Tuesday night.)
B. When Paul Shuey enters the game. (This is actually a pretty good bet, since the last time before Wednesday that Shuey appeared in an Orioles win was July 27, also vs. the Yankees. But after Wednesday’s performance vs. Texas, in which he surrendered nine runs in two innings of work, Shuey may never appear in a game with the lead the rest of the season.)
C. When Jim Brower comes out to pitch his third consecutive inning. This is the important part: He’s not pitching for the O’s any more! What luck! (Who has forgotten Brower’s Oriole career that lasted about a month last April, during which he managed to allow 19 earned runs in 12.1 innings of work?)
The correct answer is C. Although I didn’t quite believe the game was in the bag until the leadoff batter in the ninth for the Yanks was retired.
The next day, Brower and Jeff Karstens, who started the game for the Yankees, were optioned to AAA. Shuey can avoid a similar fate at the hands of The Warehouse if he can manage to hang on for another week when rosters expand Sept. 1.