Monday, August 31, 2009

Behind-the-Baseball-Scenes Stories & Other Random Links

The blog-O's-sphere has the big stories - Tejada tipping pitches and dogging it against friends; Matusz showing polish - covered, which leaves some more obscure items left for this link rundown.

First, a couple of behind-the-baseball-scenes stories.

MediaLife addresses the benefits and drawbacks of advertising behind home plate at baseball games.

The upside: local broadcasts place your ads in both markets and on highlight shows. The downside: national broadcasts - including the playoffs and World Series - use digitally inserted ads.

In a typical nine-inning game, there are 18 advertising units available behind home plate, one for each half-inning. So one advertiser will be seen during the bottom of the first inning, then the sign will scroll to a new advertiser for the top of the first, and so on.

Most behind-the-plate ads are sold on a season-long basis for a flat rate, usually as part of a package that includes other stadium advertising. Pricing begins in the low six figures for a full season. The advertiser’s message will rotate to different innings throughout the season.

But sometimes advertisers can come in for shorter periods, such as a half season or a month, when inventory is available.


For example, 56.1 percent of Baltimore Orioles fans are male, and 19 percent more likely to have an annual household income between $150,000 and $249,999 than the average Baltimore resident.
Don't know about you, but I've always found the digitally inserted ads distracting.

Vice President Joe Biden attended the Little League World Series on Sunday. Hopefully he had better protection than he did in Baltimore on Opening Day.

A new book questions post-9/11 changes to the Secret Service and uses Biden's trip to Camden Yards to throw out the season's first pitch as an example of failed security.

The day U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden threw out the Opening Day first pitch at Baltimore's Camden Yards was a good one.

The rain held off for Biden's trip to the mound, his pitch made it over the plate and the bottom-dwelling Baltimore Orioles managed to beat the New York Yankees.

But investigative journalist Ronald Kessler says it could have been much worse.

The vice-president was on the pitcher's mound without a bulletproof vest, none of the announced 48,607 fans had been screened by metal detectors and everybody knew Biden was going to be at the game.

In a new book, Kessler says it was some of Biden's senior advisers who made the decision "overruling stunned agents," which left the number-two U.S. politician "vulnerable to assassination."

Perhaps Kevin Cowherd can find a way to tear into Orioles fans for this Opening Day story as well.

There's only a very loose Orioles connection to this next item, but it's a fun look at the minor leagues with a heartwarming twist.

Eric Vanderwerken, a 39-year old man with Asperger's syndrome, operates the scoreboard at LaGrave Field for the American Association Forth Worth Cats. Particularly memorable among his baseball experiences was attending a Fergie Jenkins - Jim Palmer pitching match-up as a child.

When the game began, this outgoing, sweet-natured man born with a mild form of autism rocked gently from side to side and began announcing the action -- "Thuh pitch. Striiiike one!" he said to himself -- the joy of a boy lighting his face and filling his happy heart.

"This," Eric said proudly, loudly, "is the greatest job I've ever had."

Vanderwerken is paid $25 each home game to hang numerals on the big green scoreboard.

During a pitching duel the parallel rows of white zeroes resemble a necklace, a double strand of pearls. On nights like this one, when bats come alive and runners circle the bases, Vanderwerken stays busy, continually updating the line score, recording each hit, each error, totaling each run scored.

Another story with a loose Orioles connection, this one about a California man who's trying to revive interest in the Pacific Coast League, where his deceased father played in the late-'40s and early '50s.

The alumni of the Oakland Oaks recently gathered in the East Bay, not far from where they played ball before cheering crowds more than a half-century ago when the Pacific Coast League made heroes of factory workers. Fewer and fewer of the "Iron Men" of the PCL attend the annual reunion each year, but the memories live on.

Michael West remembers going to the ballpark with his father, but he didn't realize until recently how big a role baseball played in his father's life.


Michael West is hoping to revive interest in the glory days of minor league baseball in the Bay Area and, perhaps, gain some recognition for his father's accomplishments.

"He was a hall of famer to me,"Michael West said of his dad.

Oscar West, a graduate of Vallejo College, spent time with the Oakland Oaks and Sacramento Solons during spring training in the late '40s and early '50s. He even received invitations from the Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds.

Finally, a former O's prospect is still giving it a go: Richard Salazar has signed with the San Angelos Colts.

In Salazar's 2009 campaign, the southpaw has collected a 5-1 record, with an impressive 3.16 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .256 against the Left hander.

The Venezuelan native is in his eighth year of professional baseball. Salazar's career began in 2001 when he was selected in the 13th round by the Baltimore Orioles. Within the Orioles organization, Salazar reached as high as triple-A in 2007. The lefty's career mark is 21-16, with a 3.75 earned run average.

Colts general manager Mike Babcock spoke with an American Association GM that said, "Richard Salazar was the top left-handed pitcher in the AA."

Salazar, a 2001 Birds draftee, topped out at Norfolk in 2007 where he appeared in eight games and tallied a 1-0 record and an 11.74 ERA.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Flashback Friday: Hal Brown's "No-Hitter"

"I was ready to go in the game in relief, and this old gal got up and screamed, 'The more they come the worse they get.' I think so often of that rather unusual welcome to Baltimore and it always gives me a chuckle."

-Hal Brown

Hector Harold Brown is a perfect fit for this week's edition of Flashback Friday.

Here's why:

1. The Oriole Advocates' 2009 Hall of Fame induction ceremony is on Friday afternoon.

Hal Brown was a 1991 inductee. He played for the organization from 1955 to 1962.

2. The O's face the Indians in the evening.

Brown, the 6'2", 186-pound player nicknamed Skinny, accomplished an unusual feat against the Indians on Aug. 31, 1955: He tossed eight no-hit innings in relief during a 5-1 Orioles loss.

The Indians' first five batters - Al Smith, Bobby Avila, Hoot Evers, Ralph Kiner, and Al Rosen - scored against Orioles starter Bill Wight during that August game at Cleveland Stadium. Evers and catcher Jim Hegan drove in two runs a piece.

(Note: Smith, Avila, and Evers all spent time in a Baltimore uniform. I suppose history does repeat itself.)

Brown took the mound in the second inning and proceeded to strike out 10 batters while allowing no hits during the game's final eight innings. However, Cleveland starter Herb Score went the distance, striking out 13 Orioles and allowing just three hits to earn the victory.

Brown's performance against the Indians was no fluke.

In 1957 he was one of four consecutive O's starters - Billy Loes, Connie Johnson, and Ray Moore were the others - to toss a shutout. The collective effort tied an American League record that the 1974 Orioles topped by one.

In 1960 he one-hit the Yankees in a 4-1 Orioles victory. Mickey Mantle hit a first-inning home run for New York.

In 1961 he pitched a then-franchise-record 36 straight scoreless innings from July 1 to Aug. 8, 1961. He didn't allow a walk in 24 of those 36 innings.

(Of interest: Gregg Olson tossed 41 straight scoreless innings from Aug. 4, 1989 to May 4, 1990.)

All in all it was a good Baltimore career for Brown despite a less-than-hospitable welcome to the city.

Here's how he recalled his first game in an O's uniform:

"I was ready to go in the game in relief, and this old gal got up and screamed, 'The more they come the worse they get.' I think so often of that rather unusual welcome to Baltimore and it always gives me a chuckle."

Extra credit reading assignment: John Steadman, "This former Oriole Pitcher Wasn't Too Skinny."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Who is the most famous player to have suited up for both the O's and the Indians?

The Orioles will play the Cleveland Indians in a four-game set at Camden Yards starting on Thursday evening, which brings to mind the following question:

Who is the most famous player to have suited up for both the Orioles and the Indians?

Some candidates:

Albert Belle

Roberto Alomar

Eddie Murray

Brady Anderson

Harold Baines (thanks, @BirdlandInsider)

Dennis Martinez

Frank Robinson

Jim Gentile

Boog Powell (thanks for pointing out the oversight, Bill)

Lou Piniella (he played a total of ten games combined with the two teams)

Current Orioles Jeremy Guthrie and Michael Aubrey sadly didn't make the list.

Have additional candidates of your own? Add them to the comments section.

Image: Here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Brian Roberts Hits Doubles Like He's Craig Biggio

Brian Roberts has answered accusations that he's phoning it in this season by dialing it up a notch in August.

Heath at Dempsey's Army provides a rundown of Roberts' outstanding August production while Peter Schmuck discusses Roberts' value to the team and the factors that limited his performance earlier this season leading to the aforementioned accusations.

I'm still focused on Roberts' ability to hit doubles, which leaves him at second base on offense nearly as often as when he's in the field.

Two weeks ago I wrote about Roberts' doubles production in the context of Orioles history. Now I'm grudgingly acknowledging that baseball is played in places outside Baltimore and considering the bigger picture.

Craig Biggio is the all-time leader for doubles by a second baseman. Among his 3,060 career hits, Biggio had 668 doubles, which ranks fifth overall among all players.

Roberts has less than half as many career doubles as Biggio, but his performance in the category to this point produces some intriguing comparisons.

Roberts has 310 doubles through age 31 - 1,099 games and counting.

Biggio had 282 doubles through age 31 - 1,379 games.

Roberts is leading the league in doubles for the second time in his nine-year career (Dustin Pedroia, who finished with 54 doubles to Roberts' 51 last season, is currently eight doubles behind Roberts).

Biggio led the league in doubles three times in his 20-year career.

Roberts is in the midst of his fifth season with 40 or more doubles and will likely eclipse 50 doubles for the third time in his career while also passing his Orioles record of 51 doubles.

Biggio had seven seasons with 40 or more doubles but only twice hit more than 50 doubles (51 in 1998, 56 in 1999).

Any player would be lucky to match Biggio's longevity in the game much less his continued production for most of those years.

Nevertheless, it's interesting to note that Roberts has had some of his best years for doubles (42, 51, and currently 48) at ages 29 through 31 while Biggio's best years came at ages 32 and 33 (51 and 56 doubles, respectively).

More importantly, Biggio managed three straight seasons of more than 40 doubles at ages 37 through 39. Age doesn't necessarily produce a decline in the category for second basemen.

Brian Roberts still has a long way to go before his overall career numbers can fairly be compared to those of Craig Biggio, a Hall of Fame candidate. Again, longevity is the key. (Baseball Reference lists Biggio among players similar to Roberts through age 30.)

However, Roberts' ability to hit doubles thus far compares favorably to the all-time leader in the category among second basemen.

Image source: Here & Here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And Here I Thought Baltimore Had An Inferiority Complex

"I'm not one of these jealous people. I played Major League baseball. I played in the big leagues for three years; I know what it's all about. I'm not one of these guys, these radio hosts around the country that like never played a sport and want to rip on professional athletes."

So says former Oriole-turned-radio-host Jim Traber in a most amusing soundbite that appears at the 10:53 mark of a clip posted on Toronto Sports Media.

Traber gets all over an entirely reasonable Nick Collison for his "attacks" on Oklahoma since moving there as a member of the Seattle Sonics-turned-Oklahoma City Thunder. Collison called Traber's radio show to clear the air, and, well ... this one speaks for itself. Give it a listen.

It may just be possible that the Midwest Inferiority Complex exceeds the Mid-Atlantic Inferiority complex.

By the way, this is the same Jim Traber I highlighted in a recent post for his amusing charge-the-mound tactics. If nothing else, Traber is a consistent source of amusement.

Reminiscing with Mike Devereaux

The latest installment of The Sun's enjoyable "Catching Up With" series features Mike Devereaux, who visited Camden Yards earlier this month along with Mickey Tettleton, Dave Schmidt, and Dave Johnson for a celebration of the "Why Not?" season.

I reflected on Devo's famous '89 home run against the Angels and his place in Orioles history in a 2007 Roar from 34 post.
Mike Devereaux has a special place in Orioles lore, largely because of his controversial, game-ending home run against the Angels. Easily forgotten is the fact that he did nearly the same thing against Texas less than a month later. In other words, two of Devo’s eight home runs during his rookie season were game winners.

This explains, in part, how a .254 lifetime hitter with 105 home runs became a hometown hero and now ranks as one of the 50 All-Time Favorite Orioles.

Devo’s popularity is further understood when you consider his defensive prowess, which Baseball Library describes as follows: “He also earned a reputation as one the league's most spectacular center fielders, using his speed to rob batters of sure hits, and his fantastic leaping ability to climb outfield walls and rescue long drives that appeared destined for the bleachers.”

Before Kenny Lofton made a habit of torturing O’s fans with his over-the-wall grabs in Jacobs Field, Mike Devereaux used the outfield fence as a personal springboard to defensive success in Memorial Stadium. The metal bleachers on 33rd Street – the same ones that nonjudgmentally welcomed Devo’s controversial July home run – often offered the best views of his outfield theatrics.
In The Sun piece, Devereaux reminisces about the home run he hit and the many home runs he stole before it was the norm for center fielders. He also comments on all the empty seats at the stadium. Yes, times have changed.

[Excerpts after the jump.]

He hit the Orioles’ first-ever home run at Camden Yards in 1992, but that poke is long forgotten. What Baltimore fondly recalls of Mike Devereaux is his game-winning homer in the summer of 1989 during the Orioles’ improbable pennant run.

By the All-Star break, those Birds seemed a team of destiny, a rag-tag bunch that could do no wrong. Devereaux proved that. On July 15, in a game fixed in the minds of Orioles’ fans, the rookie slammed a walk-off, two-run homer that curled around the left-field foul pole at Memorial Stadium and gave the home team an 11-9 comeback victory over California.

If ever a moment defined a season, that was it. Devereaux’s hit triggered celebrations among the 47,000 fans at Memorial Stadium and howls of protest from the Angels, who claimed the ball was foul. For days, TV showed replays of the homer. Fair or foul? Twenty years later, it’s still the question most often asked of Devereaux when he returns to Baltimore.

His answer? "Every time I check the record book, it says ‘fair,’" said Devereaux, 46, of Woodstock, Ga. "I hit it hard and I watched it as long as I could. I knew it was close."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sherrill & Johnson: A Shaky Save is a Save All the Same

George Sherrill picked up his first Dodgers save on Saturday in a 2-0 win over the Cubs. The lefty pitched in a style familiar to O's fans, allowing a one-out single and a two-out walk before finally closing the door on the Cubbies in the ninth.

Combined with his final two innings in Baltimore, Sherrill has now tossed 13 2/3 straight scoreless innings and has a 0.87 ERA over his last 20 appearances.

Sherrill's performance in place of regular Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton, who has blown two saves in the past two weeks, raised some eyebrows in Mannywood. Manager Joe Torre flip-flopped Sherrill and Broxton, with the latter hurler making a rare eighth-inning appearance, a move he attributed to match-ups.

The L.A. Times' Bill Plaschke offers his take:
Jonathan Broxton, the struggling All-Star closer, was used as a setup man.

George Sherrill, the hot All-Star setup man, was used as a closer.

Roles were reversed, egos were tested, questions were raised, long-term implications were considered.

It looked unusual. It felt unsettled.

Fans gave Broxton a ninth-inning standing ovation in the eighth. Teammates gave Sherrill an eighth-inning embrace in the ninth.

On a team fighting for pitching stability at the start of a stretch run, it seemed just plain wacky.

But it worked. And in the end, the real save went to neither pitcher, but to Joe Torre, the old-fashioned manager unafraid to make a new-age decision.
Meanwhile, Teddy Mitrosolis of MVN offers his perspective on the move, which he says "could bend baseball's flawed logic":

For years, the "save" statistic has defied common logic but continues to define the game plan of the manager. Even the casual fan knows that the save isn't the most veracious statistic to use when evaluating the performance of a closer, but clubs still pour their dollars into the bank accounts of specific relievers because they happen to pitch the ninth inning more often than others.

I don't think saves are utterly meaningless, and I'm certainly not trying to downplay the importance of a strong closer. Ask the Yankees what Mariano Rivera means to their franchise. But the fact remains that plenty of baseball games are won or lost in the seventh and eighth innings, while the most powerful of arms are spitting seeds from a bullpen lawn chair. Only in the baseball world would that model of efficiency, or lack thereof, make any sense to even a few minds.

If baseball managers are feeling particularly bold they can try multi-inning saves, which would be more retro than revolutionary. Ever wonder how many retired pitchers wish they had played the game today when they would get paid more to do less?

Back home in Baltimore new Orioles closer Jim Johnson is, as Peter Schmuck observes, doing his best Sherrill impression. Sunday's near-miss performance in the O's 5-4 victory against Chicago - two hits, one run, tying run left on second base - only added to that feeling.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Eutaw Street Chronicles: April 30, 1996

O'Neill's long homer kicks off baseball's longest game

"O'Neill hit a thigh-high fastball from Arthur Rhodes so far to right that even those positioned in the flag court didn't bother to move."

-Buster Olney

Paul O'Neill's long first-inning home run on April 30, 1996 - the eighth ball to land on Eutaw Street during game action - was obscured by the length of the record-setting contest in which it was hit.

O'Neill's home run off Arthur Rhodes traveled 431 feet.

"O'Neill hit a thigh-high fastball from Arthur Rhodes so far to right that even those positioned in the flag court didn't bother to move," wrote Buster Olney. "The ball cleared Boog's Barbecue and bounced on Eutaw Street, a 431-foot homer, worth a couple of runs."

The game between the Yankees and Orioles lasted four-hours and twenty one minutes -- the longest nine-inning contest in major league history.

Said Orioles Manager Davey Johnson: "This one seemed really long."

The Orioles had fallen three minutes short of the record for longest game just two weeks earlier in a 26-7 loss to the Rangers. On this night, the Orioles and Yankees eclipsed the previous mark - set by the Dodgers and Giants on Oct. 2, 1962 - by three minutes.

"We were close in Texas," Brady Anderson joked afterward. "I knew we could do it."

Rhodes tossed the game's first pitch at 7:36, thereby commencing an offensive onslaught that ended at 11:57 p.m. with the Yankees on top 13-10.

The O's led 9-4 after two innings, driving New York starter Andy Pettitte from the game before he could record the first out of the second inning.

However, the Yankees rallied with five runs in the fifth to tie the game at nine. New York's five-run comeback was its largest since 1993 when the team rallied from a 7-2 deficit to defeat the Indians 14-8.

The first six innings alone took three hours and featured seven different pitchers.

Who could blame fans for peeking at the out-of-town scoreboard where the incoming results were equally outrageous?

Toronto defeated Milwaukee 9-8.

Seattle blanked Texas 8-0.

Boston scored 13 against Detroit.

And the Twins tallied 16 runs against the Royals.

Meanwhile, no winning team in the National League scored less than seven runs.

Power was now king in baseball; journalists and players alike wondered if it was making a jester of the game.

Olney, writing for The Sun:
"Runs are scoring at a record pace, and all the parameters and traditions of the game of baseball are changing. Pitchers are to hitters what Ed McMahon was to Johnny Carson, the straight men providing the means for the laughter. Batting coaches can now be called offensive coordinators, pitching coaches are defensive coordinators. This is like the NBA in the late '70s: The first three quarters are irrelevant, and there's no defense. Ultimately, after the two sides trade shots, the game is decided in the late innings."
John Giannone, writing for The Daily News:
"In a season where pitchers have become an endangered species and hitters swing with all the recklessness of a Sunday softball team, the Yankees and Orioles last night did nothing to halt this trend."
Pitchers were particularly wary of the trend and reached for an appropriate comparison.

Said Scott Kamieniecki, who stopped the bleeding in relief of Pettitte with four innings of two-hit ball:
"You score 10 runs in the American League and you might get a win. This is not baseball, it's softball. It used to be hitters would get one good pitch per at bat. Now they're waiting on two, three or four pitches."
Steve Howe: "It's more like football."

Jimmy Key: "It's entertainment, I guess."

David Cone: "It's out of control."

Mike Mussina, who would leave Baltimore for New York following the 2000 season, summed it up thusly: "Smaller strike zone, smaller ballparks, bad pitching, bigger hitters, loaded baseballs, corked bats and higher-altitude cities . . . does that about cover it?"

Steroids were not yet a part of the conversation.

In the end, a game that featured 28 hits, four home runs, and 22 RBI was defined by a near miss.

After the Yankees surged ahead with a three-run seventh inning, Brady Anderson came within several feet of a game-tying two-run homer in the bottom of the frame. Left fielder Gerald Williams caught the ball on the warning track, leading Anderson to send his helmet airborne in frustration.

Two batters earlier B.J. Surhoff crossed the plate on a Gregg Zaun ground out. The O's would not score again.

With the victory, the Yankees took a half-game lead on the Orioles in the A.L. East and sat alone atop the division for the first time.

O'Neill's bronze bomb was the third of seven home runs to reach Eutaw Street in 1996, the most in any one season until 2008 when eight baseballs landed on the famed walkway.

"Any day now, President Clinton will declare Eutaw Street a disaster area," Rosenthal joked.

Box Score

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rushing the Field, Camden Yards Style

The guy who rushed the field the other night at Camden Yards is now on YouTube, with an Hot Clicks mention to boot.

Kudos to the Camden Yards music guy for his song choice as the guy was carted away in cuffs: "Loser."

(Click here for the very funny "Literal Video Version" of the Beck song.)

Giving a Whole New Meaning to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"

There are many interesting angles from this week's series against the Rays that are worth discussing. And while I could wax poetic about something more important - say, for example, the continuing development of the team's young guns - I'm stuck on attendance, or the lack thereof in Tampa.

Watching the Orioles play in front of a bunch of empty seats is nothing new, but watching them do so on the road against a team in the playoff hunt grabs my attention.

Perhaps the thing I've missed most in the past decade-plus of losing in Baltimore is the electric atmosphere that once existed at Camden Yards.

There were plenty of times in the '90s when I couldn't get a ticket to the ballpark, when snagging a standing-room spot amounted to a victory. I remarked then about how nice it was during the Memorial Stadium days to make a spontaneous decision to attend a game and be able to do so at the last minute.

I was wrong.

I want the sellouts back. I want the return of the ballpark magic that produces Orioles Magic. And it would be there if the O's were in the playoff hunt.

Not so in Tampa Bay and, as it turns out, in many other towns as well. Which is why I think attendance should count toward the division and Wild Card standings. But I'll get to that later.

As I mentioned on Wednesday, the Orioles are drawing more fans - overall and average per game - than are the Rays. Curiosity led me to take a closer look and consider the attendance figures for the top eight contending teams in each league.

Nothing scientific - I don't even factor in the size of the respective ballparks - just considering attendance in a general, broad-brush way.

Here are some observations:

Baseball in Florida - It Ain't Exactly a Trip to DisneyLand

Combined, the Rays and Marlins have drawn less overall fans (2,515,644) than three individual major league teams: the Yankees, Dodgers, and Phillies.

It's not just a big city thing. The Cardinals have drawn only 64,534 less fans than the two Florida franchises together.

Wild Card Does Not Necessarily Equal Wild Fans

The Houston Astros are four games under .500 (58-62) and nine games out of the Wild Card chase. In other words, Houston does have a problem: they aren't going to the post-season.

Still, the Astros have drawn more fans - 1,865,142 - than six Wild Card contenders (Colorado, Atlanta, and Florida in the N.L.; Tampa Bay, Seattle, and Chicago in the A.L.).

Houston has drawn only 12,251 less fans than A.L. Central-leading Detroit, who more than any other fan base deserves a break because of the economy.

The O's Are in Third Place! ... in Attendance

Try explaining baseball to a non-fan; you'll quickly realize how silly and arcane many of the sport's rules are.

Throw in the uneven realities of "baseball etiquette" and "make-it-up-as-we-go-along" systems like the Wild Card and All-Star Game outcomes that determine home field advantage in the World Series, and you realize that nothing's really out of the realm of possibility for the sport.

Not that I dislike those latter systems, mind you. Rather, I acknowledge that for a sport that prides itself on its traditions, baseball is open to any changes that may translate into more change in owners' pockets.

Which is why owners should consider factoring attendance into division and Wild Card standings. Talk about a home-field advantage!

This new system would provide a disincentive to visiting fans who invade other teams' stadiums, especially when the division races are close. That fact alone would earn the proposal a majority "Yes" vote in Charm City. The players aren't local; at least the fans should be.

Major league teams have no bones about blackmailing cities into building new stadiums by threatening to leave town, so why not pose some consequences to fans who aren't willing to spend their hard-earned money on tickets?

Granted, this set-up would give the Yankees an unfair edge on other teams, but that's sort of an unwritten rule in modern baseball anyway.

Here's how the A.L. East would break down if attendance factored into the standings.

1. New York - 2,697,208

2. Boston - 2,120,048

3. Baltimore - 1,510,081

4. Tampa Bay - 1,422,731

5. Toronto - 1,441,909

In the end, factoring in attendance figures wouldn't dramatically alter the standings anyway. New York and Boston would still top the division.

The only thing that would really change is that Tampa fans would be punished for not giving their team the support it deserves.

Attendance Breakdown for Teams with the Best Records in Each League


New York - 2,697,208

Los Angeles Angels -2,335,805

Boston - 2,120,048

Detroit - 1,877,393

Texas - 1,770,921

Chicago White Sox - 1,759,520

Seattle - 1,681,813

Tampa Bay - 1,422,731


Los Angeles Dodgers - 2,759,940

Philadelphia - 2,656,565

St. Louis - 2,451,110

Chicago - 2,296,389

San Francisco Giants - 2,096,514

Colorado - 1,747,659

Atlanta - 1,773,033

Florida - 1,092,913

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Catching Up with Al Bumbry - It's Easier Than It Used to Be

The Centre Daily Times in Pennsylvania has profiled Al Bumbry as the former Oriole prepares to be an honorary manager for the New York-Penn League All-Star Game.

The article primarily focuses on changes in the game as seen from Bumbry's perspective, but there's also an interesting anecdote in there about Bumbry's Vietnam service as a first lieutenant, which earned him a Bronze Star.

On the baseball side, Bumbry bemoans bad baserunning and manages not to mention the Orioles' problems in that department even once. Must have something to do with his public relations work for the O's that's also mentioned in the article.

[Bumbry on baserunning after the jump.]

Bumbry’s pet peeve is baserunning and you can understand why.

Not only was the 1980 American League All-Star an excellent baserunner during his career, he was also an outfield and baserunning instructor for three major league teams.

On most nights in the NY-PL and other leagues, it’s common to see a runner picked off or thrown out trying to take an extra base.

“When it came to teaching baserunning …,” Bumbry started before stopping to shake his head. “It was hard to convince guys on how to be good baserunners and how that could contribute to the end results of games. Of all of the complaints that I’ve heard from over the years — from admin people, fans or coaches, is the lack of attention and detail to baserunning.

“When you think about it, being a good baserunner translates into offensive statistics that’s going to contribute to your contract.”

Bumbry said a willingness to learn and observe the game is the key to baserunning. Knowing the opposing defense, reading game situations and the ball can make a difference between being safe or out.

Speed isn’t always the difference maker. Bumbry points to former teammate Cal Ripken, who wasn’t the fleetest of foot, but was recognized as an excellent baserunner.

“Cal could be running and size up a ball hit to the outfield as he’s running and make his decision on what he could do or not do on how the ball was first hit,” Bumbry said.

Bumbry says too many runners want to watch the play, instead of run. He uses runners rounding third and heading to the plate as a perfect example.

“If you see it 10 times, I bet you eight of those 10 guys looks back to see where the ball is,” he said. “For what? The ball is coming to the plate. You don’t need to look back to see where the ball is or what kind of throw the guy is making. It’s like they can’t make themselves run hard until they see the desperation. As opposed to when I ran, I ran with desperation all of the damn time.”

Image source: Here.

How Can They Make No Mention of Mickolio?

Game stories from The Sun and the Associated Press failed to mention Kam Mickolio's two inning, four strikeout relief performance against the Rays on Tuesday night, but the rookie's effort out of the bullpen was an encouraging indicator amidst what is fast becoming a disastrous second half of the baseball season for the Orioles.

Mickolio entered the game in the seventh inning with no outs and two runners in scoring position. He first struck out 2008 American League Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria. Mickolio then followed an intentional walk to Carlos Pena with another strikeout, this time of Pat Burrell. Finally, he retired Gregg Zaun on a pop-up to help the Birds escape the inning unharmed. (At least Peter Schmuck gave Mickolio his due.)

Matt Wieters followed Mickolio's outstanding seventh-inning effort by clouting a two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning in a strong nine pitch at-bat against Randy Choate. Wieters worked a full count by fighting off five of Choate's offerings before depositing a fastball into the stands in right-center.

On most nights this month the Orioles have made it hard to remain optimistic about the team's future. Last night wasn't one of them despite the game's disappointing outcome.

Extra bases

I like the Rays, really I do, but I'm certain the Orioles could muster many more fans for an August game were they in the thick of the Wild Card chase and one season removed from the World Series than the 16,514 who showed up last night at Tropicana Field.

Here's your sad but true fact of the day: The 48-71 Orioles are drawing more fans - overall and average per game - than the 64-54 Rays.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gregg Zaun: "I Go in Like a Bull in a China Shop"

Zaunbie Nation has flown South for the season, and you'd better believe that Gregg Zaun is bringing his Z-game.

Joey Johnstone of The Tampa Tribune provides the details.
"I really don't have much trouble making friends,'' said Zaun, who has two homers in his last three games, including a solo shot on Friday night in his first home appearance with the Rays. "I'm not shy. Big things like this [grand slam] do help people like you a little bit more. It helps with their impression of you.

"I go in like a bull in a china shop. I pretty much let people know who I am. I'm always respectful. But I've been playing long enough. I don't think I need to tip-toe.''

Considering (in jest) the Aubrey Huff Legacy

What do Aubrey Huff, Chris Hoiles, Larry Sheets, Brandon Fahey, and Jim Traber all have in common?

Each player finished his Orioles career with five stolen bases - along with a number of other O's players - to create a log jam at 260th place on the team's career list in that category.

For the record, Huff was caught stealing seven times.

Yes, with Huff now a Tiger, it's time to consider - almost entirely in jest - his Orioles legacy.

Surely O's fans will remember Huff's broadcast abilities, his home run trot, and his demanding off-season workout regimen, but what about the numbers?

How will you remember Aubrey Huff?

[More after the jump]

For the home runs?

Huff's 60 career homers for the Birds were one better than Randy "Moose" Milligan's total but leave him tied with Albert Belle among O's players.

One more long ball and Huff would've ventured into Mike Bordick territory.

For the RBIs?

Huff's 252 RBIs leave him tied with Don Buford and that other "Moose" - Moose Solters - in the O's history books.

You remember Moose Solters, right?

For the doubles?

Huff recently passed Luis Aparicio on the O's career list with his 106th double.

Little Luis just can't catch a break lately. Thanks a lot, Jeter.

Which would bother you more: losing 58th place on the O's career list for doubles or losing first place on the all-time list for career hits by a shortstop?

For the hits?

Huff needed just four more hits as an Oriole to pass David Segui for 92nd place.

Feel free to draw your own conclusions, but mine is this: For the love of baseball, bring Aubrey Huff back to Baltimore.

Huff deserves a chance to chase down Mike Bordick and David Segui.

And he can finally put Moose Solters behind him once and for all.

Image source: Flickr.

Ballpark Personalities: A Baltimore Orioles Ball Girl

If you grew up in Baltimore there's a good chance you know someone with a story about how they almost-should've been-were this close to being a ball girl or ball boy for the Orioles.

Craig Clary of The Catonsville Times offers the story of a local resident whose only near miss was on a fly ball headed down the right-field line. Towson University student Lacey Jennings is currently a ball girl at Camden Yards.

[Excerpt after the jump.]

Jennings, 20, didn't allow any family members or friends to attend the tryouts that included fielding, interviewing and cheering -- she gave her best "Charge!" yell -- skills.

"I was nervous because I hadn't played softball, baseball or anything since the eighth grade," said Jennings, who received news she made the cut the next day. "When they hit you those ground balls in tryouts, it's nothing like (Orioles' center fielder) Adam Jones hitting you a ground ball."

Jennings made her debut when the Orioles hosted defending American League champion Tampa Bay April 10. The Orioles won, 5-4.

Although it was the only game she didn't field a grounder so far this season, she did have an eventful moment while perched on her stool down the right-field line when a pop fly was coming straight toward her.

"I just ran," Jennings said. "The player caught the ball and barely missed tripping over my stool. If he would have fallen, I would have been humiliated."

Monday, August 17, 2009

American Pie (and no, that's not a Felix Pie pastry reference)

Surely the Orioles must lead the league in PCPGIWCISC this season.

PCPGIWCISC = Players Conducting Post-Game Interviews While Covered in Shaving Cream.

Chris Tillman joined the club after earning his first big league win on Friday against the Angels.

Lead instigator Adam Jones caught Tillman even though the rookie ducked out into the hallway for his MASN interview. It came on a night when, as The Sun reports, the O's set a season-high in shaving cream pies with three.

[More after the jump]

Felix Pie - who became the fourth player in Orioles history to hit for the cycle - took two pies, the second from Robert Andino after the first effort missed.

Unlike the Birds' steady rookie hurlers, Pie was unable to continue his interview.

You have to be impressed with the composure of our rookie pitchers in these situations. But who conducted the better interview while covered in shaving cream: Tillman or Brian Matusz?

See the videos here and here.

(Note: The headline for this post does not violate Roar from 34's season-long moratorium on Felix Pie pastry references.)

"I Don't Love the Orioles, but I Do Love Orioles Nation"

Norman Schimmel is not an Orioles fan, but he plays one on public access television.

Sort of.

Schimmel testified before the Sarasota City Commission regarding the Birds' Spring Training move there.

Multiple clips of the hearing now appear on YouTube, but Schimmel's is the most entertaining.

Says Schimmel:
"I don't love the Orioles, but I do love Orioles Nation."

"I love these people, and yet I've never met one yet."

"They will raise my property value, they will pay assorted taxes, they will create much-needed income ...."
Baltimore = Bucks. At least that's the hope in Sarasota.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rick Dempsey as Braveheart

Tip of the Orange-and-Black cap to Heath of Dempsey's Army, who created the above image in response to my Friday post about Rick Dempsey.

Flashback Friday: Shoeless Willie Tasby

Baltimore once had its own shoeless baseball player, and his name was Willie Tasby.

On July 19, 1959, the center fielder found himself standing in puddles following a rain delay with two outs in the top half of the ninth inning of a home game against the Tigers. Spooked by a thunderstorm that caused the delay, Tasby removed his spikes and placed them in the Memorial Stadium bullpen.

"He gambled he could catch up with anything hit his way in his stocking feet," The Milwaukee Sentinel reported.

Tasby's theory never was tested as Tiger pinch-hitter Lou Berberet did him the favor of fouling out to Brooks Robinson to end the game.

The Orioles defeated the Tigers 2-1 on their way to a 74-80 overall record.

"Man I was scared of that lightning," Tasby said after the game. "I was standing in pools of water and didn't want those spikes on my feet at a time like that."

Tasby's feat became the stuff of local legend, but the player's quirky actions on a single day shouldn't obscure a career filled with notable moments and a significance beyond the game.

More about Willie Tasby:

-Tasby helped preserve the first no-hitter in modern Orioles' history - Hoyt Wilhelm's effort versus the Yankees on Sept. 20, 1958 - when he snared a powerful first-inning drive to right-center off of Mickey Mantle's bat. (Source: John Drebinger, New York Times, Sept. 21, 1958)

-Tasby was the first everyday Black player for the Boston Red Sox in 1960 after Pumpsie Green filled a utility role for the team the prior season.

He hit ahead of Ted Williams before the Splendid Splinter went deep off of Baltimore's Jack Fisher at Fenway in the final at-bat of his career. John Updike wrote that the only time he saw Williams grin that afternoon was when he played catch with Tasby before the game.

-Tasby helped integrate the minor leagues in the Deep South. He reflected on the experience, including his stint with the San Antonio Missions in the 1950's, for an April 18, 1999, Charleston Gazette article about integration after Jackie Robinson.

"I think all the black guys who played in the minor leagues at the time were like Jackie Robinson. We didn't eat right. But when we played, we had to have endurance, stamina. There weren't any places for us to eat at certain times at night," Tasby said. "I guess God took care of us. I guess he kept us from doing things that probably could have gotten us killed or hurt. A guy could come over from Italy and play, from Mexico and play. I was born here, and I couldn't play. What the hell was going on?"

-Tasby was tied for second among the 1961 Washington Senators for home runs with 17, one of which - a June 18, 1961 grand slam - put the Senators in the record book alongside the Red Sox among a handful of teams to each hit grand slams in the same inning.

The grand slams came as part of a wild ninth inning at Fenway when the Senators scored five runs only to be topped by Boston's eight runs in the bottom of the frame. The Red Sox won 13-12.

-He inspired Washington, D.C., baseball fans who, then without a team of their own, wore "Willie Tasby Fan Club" T-shirts to Memorial Stadium when the Red Sox visited town.

Tasby played for the Senators, Orioles, and Red Sox as well as the Indians during his six-year career

A big tip of the Orange-and-Black cap to friend and author Jon Bloom, who knows of my interest in Orioles history and forwarded me Tasby's Baseball Library entry.

Image Source:

Rick Dempsey Belongs in the Movies

If you haven't done so already, read Rick Dempsey's latest MASN blog posting, "Who, What, When, and Where We Are." It's the perfect antidote to the pessimism and frustration of another disappointing August in Baltimore.

The excerpts below don't do justice to the full piece, which reveals Dempsey's love for the city, the team, and its fans as well as his belief that the Orioles can win in the A.L. East.
Who we are is very important. We are the Orioles.


What we are right now is a power in the making.


When will we win again? - When they themselves start to believe it.


Where are we right now? - Better than our record indicates.


It's a state of mind--I BELIEVE.
If I were better with PhotoShop I would create an image of Rick Dempsey as William Wallace from Braveheart.

Just change some of Wallace's words from the movie, and you can imagine Dempsey saying them to his young team:

[More after the jump.]

"Aye, fight and you may lose. Run to the North, and you'll win... at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade ALL the wins, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell the Evil Empires that they may take our free agents, but they'll never take... OUR TITLE!"
Or this to, say, Matt Wieters:
"Now tell me, what does that mean to be noble? Your skills give you claim to the captain of our team, but men don't follow captains, they follow courage. Now our players know you. Noble, and common, they respect you. And if you would just lead them to the post-season, they'd follow you. And so would I."
Dempsey writes as if he's giving an impassioned clubhouse speech, and based on the comments in response to the post some fans wouldn't mind that being the case.

To his absolute credit, Dempsey offers a response to each comment and makes it clear that he's not jockeying for the manager's position. However, he wouldn't turn it down if given the opportunity.

Most interesting is his response to commenter Burto.
Burto said:


Great blog! This is exactly why I've said countless times over the years that you need to manage this team. There's no question in my mind about this. You love the Orioles, bleed orange and black, and you call it like it is. I just have a feeling that you as manager could get one helluva lot more out of this talent then what is happening currently. Just my opinion.

Also, my buddy and I met you on Opening Day of this year and tried to get a picture with you, but I had no clue how to use my buddy's camera phone. Not sure if you remember that, but we stopped you 3 times trying to make it work. You were a real gentlemen even to two guys fumbling with technology. I'll always appreciate that.

Thanks Rick!


What you believe --I believe. But I'm not the one to make that decision. meanwhile I just want to see the O's win regardless.

Speaking of Dempsey and movies, Adam Sandler's Happy Madison is planning a baseball movie based in part on Dempsey's life experience.
The film got its start when Rick Dempsey sat down for a chat with lifelong Orioles fan and improbably handsome That Thing You Do! star Jonathan Schaech*, who then wrote this script with Richard Chizmar and Josh Wolf. Schaech described the story to Variety as "'Catch Me if You Can' meets 'Bad News Bears' with a touch of 'Bad Santa.'" Now that's a description to get us on board.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Brian Roberts Doubles Down but Still Has Doubters

Credit in baseball tends to go to the players who touch all of the bases, not just two of them.

Nevertheless, Brian Roberts deserves a tip of the cap for lacing his major-league-leading 40th double of the season on Wednesday against the A's.

Roberts has hit 40 or more doubles five times in his career. He led the majors with 50 doubles in 2004 and set the Orioles' club record for doubles with 51 in 2008 (Beau Bell also hit 51 doubles in 1937).

[More after the jump.]

He currently stands sixth on the O's all-time list for career doubles. His 302 doubles are 27 behind Brady Anderson, and he is likely to finish in the top three behind Cal Ripken (603) and Brooks Robinson (482), ahead of Eddie Murray (363).

Last season Roberts joined Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff as only the second trio of Orioles teammates to eclipse 40 doubles in the same season. Robert Alomar, Rafael Palmeiro, and Cal Ripken did so in 1996.

Should Nick Markakis hit four more doubles this season, he and Roberts will have both reached the 40-double mark for three consecutive seasons. Markakis is currently tied for second among A.L. leaders in doubles.

Despite Roberts' efforts,'s Joe Posnanski doesn't like the second baseman's 4-year, $40 million contract with the Birds.

Speaking of Roberts and Michael Young, Posnanski comments, "Maybe I'm wrong -- I hope I'm wrong because they both seem like likable guys you would root for -- but it seems to me that one or both of these contracts will be an albatross before the day is done.
Image Source: Here.

Historical Orioles Tweets

Bleacher Report's Matt King recently posted the article "If Sports Figures Could Have Twittered Through History," an amusing look at what jocks would have said in 140 words or less had the technology of the time allowed such an opportunity.

King included one imagined Tweet from Cal Ripken Jr., but it's time to take it a step further and look at what some other Orioles players and managers may have Tweeted during big moments.

Tony Tarasco, ALCS Game 1, Oct. 9, 1996

@TonytheTiger: Going in as defensive replacement for @BobbyBo. Only six outs to go. Hope the bleacher creatures leave me alone.

Brady Anderson, Oct. 6, 2001

@BAAbs: On deck. If @TBat doesn't get a hit, it's up to me to extend @IronMan's career for one more at bat. Anything for a friend.

Dave Trembley, Aug. 22, 2007

@Trembo: No more interim tag for me. After 20 years I finally have a chance to run a big league club. Tonight is going to be special.

Mike Mussina, Aug. 7, 1994

@Moose35: Just notched 16th win. Winning 20 this season is going to be a breeze.

Cal Ripken Sr., April 4, 1988

@CalSr: Start of a new season with @BillyBall and @IronMan by my side. Maybe this is what they mean by #Orioles Magic.

Frank Robinson, April 3, 1989

@TheJudge: The guys outlasted @Rocket today. @IronMan went deep. Winning record? I don't see why not.

B.J. Surhoff, July 31, 2000

@SirHoff: Trade deadline almost here. Thrilled to still be an #Oriole.

Davey Johnson, Nov. 6, 1997

@Davey: American League Manager of the Year! That'll look great on my resume.

Sam Perlozzo, May 13, 2007

@ThePerl: Great game by @Guts today. Always good to get a win in #Boston. Happy Mother's Day to all the Oriole moms.

Jon Miller, Oct. 13, 1996

@VoiceoftheOs: #Yankees 6 - #Orioles 4. What a heartbreaking way to end the season, especially for anyone like me who bleeds orange and black.

Have some ideas of your own about what Orioles players might have Tweeted? Post them in the Comments section.

Images: Here & Here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Charging the Mound, Jim Traber Style

Kevin Youkilis charged the mound Tuesday night and sent Tigers rookie Rick Porcello backpedaling before earning two points for the take down. According to Keith Law, Youkilis was "acting like a fool."

That's nothing.

You want backpedaling? You want "acting like a fool"? I've got two words for you: Jim Traber.

The former Oriole once chased a Japanese pitcher into center field while charging the mound and later fell on his face, and into a kick, during a return trip to the mound.

Here's the classic YouTube clip.

Traber, whom the Baltimore City Paper listed in 2002 among its "Most Useless Orioles of All Time," is currently a radio host in Oklahoma. He batted .227 with 27 home runs and 117 RBI during four seasons with the Orioles

David Hernandez, Brad Bergesen, and Quality Starts

David Hernandez recorded his fifth quality start in his last seven outings on Tuesday to lead the Orioles to a 3-2 victory over the A's. It was the 42nd quality start of the season for the Birds, who are last in the A.L. East in that category.

Toronto leads the division with 60 quality starts followed by Boston (56), New York (52), Tampa Bay (51), and the Orioles.

Roy Halladay and Josh Beckett are the individual division leaders in quality starts - each has 16 such starts in 22 games pitched. Jon Lester and A.J. Burnett have 15 quality starts while teammates Matt Garza and James Shields each have 14.

The Orioles are led in quality starts by T-shirt Tuesday Brag Bergesen. Bergesen has posted 13 quality starts in 19 games to outperform the majority of the Yankees rotation - C.C. Sabathia (12 in 24), Andy Pettitte (12 in 23), Joba Chamberlain (11 in 22) - and for all intents and purposes match Blue Jays rookie sensation Ricky Romero (12 in 18) in the category.

Bergesen and Romero make for an interesting comparison given the similarities in their numbers.

Romero strikes out more batters than does Bergesen (see Heath's commentary at Dempsey's Army on the need for more strikeouts from Bergesen), but he also walks more batters, leaving the rookie hurlers with nearly identical K/BB ratios.

10-5, 3.66 ERA, 115.2 IP, 114 H, 13 HR, 44 BB, 90 K's, 1.366 WHIP, 7 K's/9, 2.05 K's/BB

7-5, 3.43 ERA, 123.1 IP, 126 H, 11 HR, 32 BB, 65 K's, 1.281 WHIP, 4.7 K's/9, 2.03 K's/BB

Romero is very much in the Rookie of the Year conversation (see, for example, here and here). Bergesen has been in the discussion at times, but Romero and White Sox third baseman Gordon Beckham seem to be getting the most chatter right now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Major Awards for O's Minor Leaguers

Three O's farmhands have received Player of the Week honors in their respective leagues, adding to the organization's growing list of award winners this season. Some interesting patterns emerge from the season-long list.

Recent call-up Brian Matusz has received Player of the Week honors this season at both the Single-A and Double-A levels. A 2008 draftee, Matusz hasn't played at the Triple-A level.

Jake Arrieta, who is currently doing some necessary on-the-job learning with the Norfolk Tides, has twice been honored as the Double-A Eastern League's Player of the Week this season at Bowie.

Designated Hitter Robert Widlansky, an 11th round O's draft pick in 2007, is a three-time Carolina League Player of the Week award winner for the Single-A Frederick Keys. Widlansky represented the Aberdeen IronBirds in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game earlier this summer.

Nolan Reimold has double-dipped in the awards category at the major- and minor-league levels. Reimold was the International Player of the Week back in April; two months later he earned MLB's Rookie of the Month award as an Oriole.

These would all seem to be positive indicators for the O's future.

Then again, the O's also had the MLB Player of the Month for August last season: Melvin Mora.

[Full list of award winners after the jump]

Orioles Minor League Players of the Week
2009 Season

Aug. 3 - 9

Brandon Snyder, Norfolk

Brandon Erbe, Bowie

Rober Widlansky, Frederick

July 6 - 12

Brian Matusz, Bowie

Robert Widlansky, Frederick

June 15 - 21

Robert Widlansky, Frederick

June 8 - 14

Matthew Angle, Frederick

June 1 - 7

Jake Arrieta, Bowie

May 25 - 31

Brian Matusz, Frederick

May 11 - 17

Jake Arrieta, Bowie

April 8 - 19

Nolan Reimold, Norfolk (MLB Rookie of the Month in June)

Monday, August 10, 2009

George Sherrill, Brian Matusz, and the Great Number Shift

Last week I commented on the changing face of number 52 for the Orioles. The number belonged to relievers B.J. Ryan and George Sherrill before recently moving into a starting role with Brian Matusz.

It seems the Dodgers have done a little number shifting of their own with 52, which has produced positive results in the superstitious baseball universe.

Dodgers blog True Blue L.A. explains.
"When reliever George Sherrill arrived from Baltimore on July 31, James McDonald gave up his number 52 to the veteran, who wore that number in both Baltimore and Seattle. McDonald switched to number 31, and since then has pitched four straight scoreless relief appearances of at least two innings, allowing only four hits and no walks while striking out six, and opposing batters are hitting .143/.143/.179 off number 31."
Clearly this numbers business is no small thing.

Imagine what might happen if Matusz decides to take over his college and Team USA baseball number when Aubrey Huff's tenure in Baltimore is over?

Image Sources: Here and Here.

Ask Roar from 34, Vol. 3

Volume 3 (see: Vol. 1 & Vol. 2) of Roar from 34's imagined advice column "Ask Roar from 34" addresses fatigue and injury issues, stain-removal tips, and the loss of loved ones as well as less-loved ones.

Dear Roar from 34,

I'm feeling drained, and I've been limping around with a groin strain to boot. What gives?

-Young Gun

Dear Young Gun,

Welcome to Baltimore, kid. I'm not surprised on either count. That latest no-decision must've felt like a kick in the groin. Perhaps that explains the injury.

-Roar from 34

[More advice after the jump.]

Dear Roar from 34,

What's it like in Baltimore this time of year?

-Player to be Named

Dear Player to Be Named,

So hot it'll make you swoon.

-Roar from 34

Dear Roar from 34,

Got any tips for removing shaving cream stains?

-Debuted in Detroit

Dear Debuted in Detroit,

Well, Good Housekeeping makes it seem pretty simple. Pretreat with a prewash stain remover and launder.

-Roar from 34

Dear Roar from 34,

I just hit a clutch home run before a sellout crowd to finish a dramatic four-game sweep of our main rival. My new team has a solid hold on first place in the division. Can you guys in Baltimore understand now why I decided to come here?

-Tex in New York

Dear Tex,

Raucous crowds. Meaningful games. Post-season play. How selfish can you be?

-Roar from 34

Dear Roar from 34,

I've been playing hurt for a guy who doesn't respect me. I don't deserve this.

-Aging and Angry

Dear Aging and Angry,

Congratulations on clearing waivers. Maybe you'll get what you deserve after all.

-Roar from 34

Dear Roar from 34,

Do you guys miss me yet?

-West Coast Flat Brim

Dear WCF,


-Roar from 34

Dear Roar from 34,

How about me?

-DL'ed in the Emerald City

Dear DL'ed,

Ummm ... not as much.

-Roar from 34

Image source: Here.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Flashback Friday: Remember When the Yankees Hated Jerry Hairston Jr.?

"Cleveland's Jaret Wright may be the only opposing player who has generated more animosity among the Yankees than Orioles second baseman Jerry Hairston."

The Houston Chronicle, June 10, 2001

The New York Yankees acquired Jerry Hairston Jr. in a July 31 trade with the Cincinnati Reds.

Since the deal, Hairston has won praise in New York for his defense and his versatility.

Both the player and the team seem happy.

Says Hairston:. "I had a chance to play against those great Yankees teams, and playing against them wasn't too fun. They had a great team back then, and they have a great team now. I'm very excited to be here."

Joe Girardi's thoughts: "I'm glad he's here. He's going to provide a lot of versatility for us. He's played six positions, so I won't hesitate to put him anywhere."

This whole love fest leads me to wonder, "Isn't this the same guy the Yankees used to hate?"

The answer: Yes, yes it is.

Turn back the calendar eight years, and the Yankees' were mailing high-and-tight pitches rather than membership dues for the Hairston fan club.

In the eighth inning of a June 7, 2001 game at Yankee Stadium, Rogers Clemens twice threw inside to Hairston before blazing a fastball behind his head.

The pitcher's antics came during a three hit, 10 strikeout game that the Yankees won 4-0. Clemens received no warning for his head hunting.

In the following days, newspapers stories detailed the Yankees' collective animosity toward the Orioles' young second baseman.

"The Yankees aren't fond of Baltimore second baseman Jerry Hairston." (Dan Graziano, The Star-Ledger, June 8, 2001)

"Cleveland's Jaret Wright may be the only opposing player who has generated more animosity among the Yankees than Orioles second baseman Jerry Hairston." (Houston Chronicle, June 10, 2001)

"Jerry Hairston, a player reviled by many in the Yankees clubhouse ...." (Graziano)

"Jerry Hairston, whose confident air has irked the Yankees this season." (Buster Olney, New York Times, June 8, 2001)

For Hairston's part, he "vowed not to change his style of play, no matter how much he apparently has agitated the New York Yankees" (Associated Press, June 9, 2001).

Explanations for the Yankees' distaste for Hairston ranged from the general to the specific.

Some writers claimed that it was Hairston's offensive habits of repeatedly stepping out of the batter's box and dancing on the base paths that angered the New York players.

The anger similarly was attributed to Hairston's "hot-dog antics on the field."

Meanwhile, Olney -- then a beat writer for the Yankees -- detailed examples of Hairston's seeming lack of etiquette on the diamond.

"Paul O'Neill was attempting to steal second base when a pitch was fouled off in the second inning. Rather than alert O'Neill and allow him to pull up -- seen as a professional courtesy by most players -- Hairston said nothing and O'Neill slid into second.

O'Neill appeared to say something to Hairston on his way back to first. The next half-inning, Hairston slammed his bat down after popping up, and Clemens glared at Hairston as he rounded first. Clemens threw a pitch high and inside to Hairston in the fifth, but did not hit him."

And Graziano argued that Clemens' actions were the expression of accumulated Yankee frustration.

"They've been upset with him for more than a month now because of something he said during an earlier Orioles-Yankees game. And left fielder Chuck Knoblauch had some ugly words about Hairston on Tuesday night, when he felt the Baltimore second baseman was hot-dogging in the field, diving for ground balls for which he didn't need to dive."

Years later, the specific reasons, like the animosity, may well be forgotten by all parties -- including Hairston.

"The guys have really welcomed me in. It feels great," says Hairston. "Obviously, it's a first-class organization."

Image sources: Here & here.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Catching Up with the Heaviest Player in Major League History

The Edmonton Capitals of the Golden Baseball League are promoting "Lima Time" in the Great White North, calling Jose Lima "the biggest acquisition in franchise history."

Technically speaking, the biggest acquisition in franchise history is actually former Oriole Walter Young.

Young was the heaviest player in major league history when he took the field for the Orioles at 322 pounds in 2005. [He is listed as 295 pounds on the Capitals' roster.]

Young played 14 games for the Birds, batting .303 with one home run, and three RBIs. His lone clout came on Sept. 13, 2005, in a 4-3 road win against the Rangers.

The Edmonton Journal tells Young's story -- including the tale of his 500-foot home run in Calgary -- in the article "Capitals slugger has big following."

[Excerpts follow the jump.]

Size is an obvious factor in Young's popularity. He became the heaviest player in major-league history when he had a cup of coffee with the Baltimore Orioles in 2005, weighing in at 322 pounds.

But with that bulk comes bases-clearing power, and Young has displayed that throughout his career, from the 25 he blasted in A ball in 2002, to 33 in 2004 with AA Bowie, to 21 in 95 games with the Winnipeg Goldeyes in 2007.

"We all stop doing what we're doing when he comes up to hit. You never know how far he's going to hit it," Brinkley said.

"I guess I'm known for my power, so yeah, that has a lot to do with(the support)," Young said.

Image source: article