I tend to look at all Major League Baseball before the All Star Break as an extended Spring Training. Yes, there are stats being recorded and yes, the wins do count. But everything is just so abstract and whimsical during the first half of the season. If my Yankees go on a 3 game losing streak, I’ll be disappointed, but I will not lament a playoff berth-costing slide. If Frank Thomas stays healthy for three dozen straight games and bangs out thirty homers, I’m not going to assume he’ll play all 162 and break Bond’s record. It is very easy to look at a team firing on all pistons in the spring and early summer and just assume the trend will continue as the season begins to grind away at everybody. Perhaps I’m more cynical than most, but the first 75 or 80 games are glorified tune-ups.
Keeping that in mind, I’ve got a couple of observations I’d like to share about the regular season now that we’ve got about a week’s worth of this extended Spring Training in the book.
1. The Baltimore Orioles are not good. When your mashers are Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora, you do not have a good baseball team. Brian Roberts will likely get caught trying to sneak out of Charm City on a mail plane, and Nick Markakis will spend the next three years being drafted too low in fantasy baseball because no one will be on base when he is at bat. And there is no home field advantage, since Camden Yards serves as Yankees/Fenway South for all AL East games. Sorry, Baltimore, at least you have Duff Goldman and a temporary 0.800 winning percentage.
2. Mets fans should’ve expected Pedro Martinez to get injured in his first game. I mean, come on. The Gods of Sport are a humorous bunch, and they would not let a 36 year old whose delivery has been ruining his body for a decade last more than one game. That’s just how they operate and by now we should all know that.
3. The Cult of Joe Torre is going strong in Los Angeles. Sporting a 4-2 record and fresh off an ESPN story that treats him like Elvis, people flock from all over the West Coast in the hopes that his rhythmicly slow gait to the mound and his ability to put runners in motion in predictable situations will cure their ills and inspire them to greatness.
4. No one saw the Detroit Tigers starting out 0-6. It doesn’t matter, really, since these games hardly count, but it is worth noting.
When the Texas Rangers hang 30 runs on the Baltimore Orioles pitching staff, it gives cause for the powers that be at Nerds on Sports to defrost me a few days early. I’m sure most of the country wanted something like this to happen to the Yankees, but the O’s really are a fantastic team to suffer through a three touchdowns and three field goals shellacking. Over the past ten seasons (including this one), they’ve been the model of consistency – 4th Place in the AL East nine times, and third place once. You could set a horrendously made watch to that kind of consistency. That, coupled with their “one good pitcher and Brian Roberts” team building strategy truly make for the perfect storm. You know, the kind of storm that rains RBIs.
This is still fresh in everyone’s brains, so I need to snark on this as heavily as possible. For sake of easy browsing, I have broken my snarks into quick-reference categories: Read More
First and most important: RIP Rod Beck. I didn’t follow his career closely enough to write a proper eulogy, but he and his awesome facial hair will be missed.
In lighter news, last Thursday dollar bills fell from the sky at Petco park, just before Albert Castillo hit a solo homer in the sixth inning. Apparently, a fan in one of the suites threw a couple dozen dollar bills onto the field below, with the majority of them landing in left field, foul territory and the Orioles dugout.
Described as “a literal money shot” – which is really an unfortunate play on words, if you think about it – the homerun inspired Castillo’s teammates to collect the falling bills they could find and award them to him. Although he declined the money, perhaps fans have found the proper incentive in getting the Orioles offense to wield a little more power? Maybe some fives and tens to get Millar on base more often? Or a couple of benjamins to motivate the O’s bullpen to actually successfully save a game?
I wonder how much the ballgirl ended up finding. It’s got to beat the stuff that usually gets thrown onto the field: beachballs, batteries, and all the rest.
This past week the day job had me travel down to D.C. to meet with a client. Well, our team of 4 decided (after a long day of work that had started at 4am by waking up to catch a flight) to squeeze into a Honda Civic driven by someone’s cousin for the hour drive to Baltimore to catch the Orioles v. Tigers game. At the time I didn’t know if this was a very intelligent idea, but the only ballpark I had ever been to was Fenway and it’s high time I start exploring.
We arrived just in time to see former ESPN personality Roy Firestone sing the national anthem. At this point I started compiling the ways Camden is better an Fenway. So far: cheaper seats, cheap and available parking, fireworks during the national anthem (rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air) and space to walk around. We then decided on what to eat. Even though Boog’s was right there and recommended, we weren’t in the mood for BBQ. We went with spicy cheese dogs and beer — perfect baseball food.