Three great baseball brawls

Somehow this is a big part of my Saturday night. Thanks to Deadspin for kicking off this exploration: highlighting the first, linking to the second and inspiring me to find the video from the third. I’d forgotten about that early news in Moose’s career.

The New York Times, June 7, 1993: “BALTIMORE, June 6— Seattle starter Chris Bosio sustained a collarbone injury, at least two players were bloodied, and a manager and seven players were ejected when the Mariners and Baltimore Orioles engaged in a lengthy brawl this afternoon.”

Baltimore Sun, same day: “It started out to be a beautiful afternoon at Oriole Park, but it turned ugly in a hurry. The game between the Orioles and Seattle Mariners turned into a brawl yesterday when tempers flared and a 60-man free-for-all erupted in the seventh inning.”

The Washington Post, same day: “BALTIMORE, JUNE 6 — This was not the usual milling-around, push-and-shove, don’t-get-hurt baseball fight. Today the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners exchanged honest-to-goodness punches — then angry accusations — with an ugly brawl erupting after Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina drilled Mariners catcher Bill Haselman in the left shoulder with a seventh-inning fastball.”

2013 Big Lead look-back: “Kudos to the Camden Yards PA for deciding to play Three Dog Night’s ‘Mama Told Me Not to Come’ during the brawl. Not exactly fighting music, but a nice touch nonetheless.”

When the time arrives for Mike Mussina, I’m ready

As you know, I’m a fan of ex-Orioles ace Mike Mussina.

New York Daily News, a month ago: “Mike Mussina didn’t receive a call from the Hall of Fame, but his chances of one day being enshrined in Cooperstown went up. After appearing on only 24.6% of ballots in 2014, that figure jumped up to 43%, more than any other player, on Wednesday.”

Baltimore Sun, same week: “While Mussina still fell well short of 75 percent needed to gain election, it positions the five-time All-Star and 270-game winner well moving forward. This was just his third year of eligibility, and players can remain on the ballot for 10 years provided they receive at least five percent every year.”

Now in my closet, via Ebay and three months of the seller and I grappling with the mistake-prone United States Postal Service and Canadian Post, a new jersey to go with my Mussina Yankees and Stanford jerseys, ready for a Mussina induction one of these years:

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Winning isn’t everything

Seen two losses in the past week but had two good times.

Camden Yards with the Grishams last Sunday. Orioles lost, 6-1, and the weather was some of the hottest of the summer; but the seats were great.

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Nationals Park with Becky and Kyle on Wednesday. Nats lost, 11-4, and first baseman Tyler Moore had to pitch in relief, but weather was great. And:

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Yes, on Jayson Werth Chia Pet Night (we bought tickets in February), above is Abe Lincoln winning the Presidents Race with a green Chia beard.

Not one, but two first-placers?

What a summer it’s been to be a Nats fan with a past and eternal soft spot for the Orioles. Baseball blessings like this don’t come around too often.

June 7 at Camden Yards…

Hot dog and mac and cheese and crab.
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Love a late afternoon start.
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And a breezy evening finish.
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August 5 at Nats Park…

Jayson Werth garden gnome night. Not pictured: the gnome.
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They’re off, but where’s Teddy?
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He’s hiding at the finish! To knock them over and win. Good guy.
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August 10 at Camden Yards…

Bird!
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“Did you take a picture of me because I looked like that child?”
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Amazing seats, courtesy of the Grishams.
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Usually ultra-subdued Buck goes nuts, gets tossed. It was amazing.
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And there’s still another five weeks left to play. At least.

Seven homers and a seagull

Things I’d never seen in person before last night:

1. Nineteen runs in a Major League baseball game.

2. A Camden Yards home run reach Eutaw street.

3. A Major League grand slam. (I think. I can’t remember another.)

4. Seven homers in a game.

5. A crowd of 25,000 people cheer a meandering, mid-field seagull.

Yes, last night was a great game. In my first game at Camden Yards since the arrival of the Nationals in Washington and the long-time-coming switch of my professional baseball allegiances, the Orioles and Baltimore reminded me why they were my favorite ballclub for so long. Lori’s dad has season tickets — and a very decent respect for the Nats and the inner conflict of a mid-Atlantic baseball fan — and got us all terrific seats for the game.

The Orioles beat the Mariners, 11-8, and just about everyone hit a homer. Chris Davis hit his league-leading 40th for the O’s all the way into Eutaw Street. I knew Davis had hit many this year, but seeing the ball fly made me understand the number in a way I hadn’t before. Nate McLouth hit the grand slam. The stadium went playoff-berserk. Ryan Flaherty hit another that we saw bounce onto the right-field porch as we circled to Boog’s BBQ. In town with Seattle, among their four homers (one more than the O’s), beloved former Nat Michael Morse got one. Morse hasn’t had the best year, but I continued my recently found belief in The Curse Of The Beast.

Food-wise: Boog’s lived up to its reputation. How had I never been there before? The sandwich wasn’t the best barbecue I’d ever had, but it was the best I’d ever tried at a ballpark. I had the pork. If prices had been lower, I would’ve eaten three. Also winning was the hand-rolled pretzel from the big pretzel booth near the right-field gate. Again, could’ve eaten three.

But let’s talk about the seagull.

The bird entered from break in the stands over center field. The gull flew high around the field but curved its path to made a circle with one edge above second base and the other around the warning track. The crowd saw the bright white bird immediately and began to a low, increasing roar as the bird swung increasingly lower over the grass. Finally, after coming within feet on its previous run, the gull landed, and the crowd went wild.

You couldn’t have found a gathering of 25,000 happier people. The older woman sitting behind me and Lori — an usher, finished for the night — leaned forward and said, “Here in Baltimore, we cheer for everything.”

After a moment, the gull took off again.

The Sun gamer captured its exit, which we also cheered. “Playing before an announced 25,947 at Camden Yards — which seemed as thrilled by the power display as they were with a seagull that glided around the park in the eighth inning and eventually flew beyond the center field wall to freedom — the Orioles again showed how important it was to go deep.”

Great animated GIFs of the gull and crowd are here.

And here are a few mediocre photos of my own, including the marking on Eutaw Street of where Chris Davis’ massive shot landed…

Continue reading Seven homers and a seagull

Why I am sad about the Nats but not broken

In 1989, the Baltimore Orioles played the Toronto Blue Jays in the final series of the season, With two wins in the three games, they would have caught the Jays in the American League East and forced a one-game playoff. With a sweep, they could would have won the pennant outright. The Orioles had bounced back from 107 loses the previous season, with a record 21 losses to begin the year. That the 1989 team was just a game out of first place with three games to go was a near-certifiable miracle.

The Orioles lost the first two games of the series, and I began to grasp losing in professional baseball. I was nine. I went to my room and cried.

The Orioles were in contention but faded during the 1992 and 1993 seasons. In the 1993 All-Star game, held at Camden Yards, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston declined to play my favorite player, Mike Mussina. In 1996 and 1997, the Orioles went to the American League Championship Series. They lost the first time when the series momentum turned on a Yankee fan reaching from the stands to disrupt play. When they failed the next year, every game they lost was by a margin of one run.

In 1994, Mussina, by now a personal hero to my 14-year-old self, had a chance to win 20 games for the first time, but the strike ended the season. In 1996, Mussina in his last start had a chance again to win 20, but the bullpen lost his lead. In 1997, Mussina lost a perfect game with two outs to go. I was watching and blamed my brother for the loss. He had noted the possibility a batter or two earlier. In 1998, Mussina lost a perfect game with four outs to go. In 2001, he lost a perfect game with one out to go.

My love of Washington baseball has never gone much better. I grew up knowing Washington had lost two versions of the Senators, to Minnesota and then to Texas. And any baseball-card collector knew Topps had once printed Washington Padres cards, but the planned 1974 from San Diego had fallen apart. Washington lost league expansion competitions in 1993 and 1998. (I hadn’t been around for when we had lost to Toronto in 1976.) Attempts to buy other teams and bring them to D.C. failed as well.

But Washington finally landed a team. The team was in first place after the first half of its first season here. It lost most games subsequently. But this year, seven years later, the team finally made the postseason. The Nats lost a deciding fifth game to the Cardinals last night — after twice being one strike away from winning and advancing to the NLCS. I was there at Nationals Ballpark, cheering, as I had been for the two previous games.

A few years ago, Mike Mussina, in the last season of his 17-year career, whom by then the Orioles had lost through free agency to the Yankees (a move that somehow made sense in my opinion), finally won 20 games.

This year, the Orioles finally returned to the playoffs. They weren’t my team anymore, but I was happy for them. The chance of a local World Series was exciting. But the Orioles lost a deciding fifth game last night as well. I was sorry for them. They weren’t my team anymore, but twenty-three years ago, making that turnaround run for the playoffs, the Orioles had taught me losing in baseball wasn’t forever. Falling short, they had reminded me loss was forever, but losing was a only matter of timing.

I’m getting better and worse at baseball photos


On the way to work one morning.

As I get older, and as cell-phone cameras and apps advance, I feel like I’m getting better at taking photos at baseball games. I am not losing myself in zoom. I am not trying to capture on-field action I cannot, with my technology, capture. I am finding the moments that work for me.

It’s been great recently to get many opportunities to do so! Chris and Laura invited me to the Nats last Friday, and the Grishams invited me last Saturday. Both nights were beautiful nights to be at the ballpark and saw two terrific games. The Nats fell in both by slim margins, but both were all kinds of watchable on the field, with good conversation and sights in the stands. Thanks so much to the Amicos and Grishams.

Back to the photography — I think I’m getting better. But there is part of the game that continues to present challenges. Here’s the good…

Continue reading I’m getting better and worse at baseball photos

Good news, America: Brady Anderson still has sideburns

Brady Anderson

I needed some good news by the end of yesterday, and the Orioles Card “O” The Day blog delivered. Kevin wrote about Brady Anderson playing “in an 1890s-style baseball game for charity.” Yes, indeed.

“According to this excellent first-hand account from the Walkoff Walk blog, Baltimore’s own sideburned hero of the 1990s made some of the headlines at the game. Before the first pitch, he was traded from the Legends to the Stogies in exchange for a catcher and a giant novelty bag of cash. Perhaps the Stogies owner was a distant Steinbrenner relative. Brady also pitched an inning, and reportedly threw very hard.”

Flickr’s evie22 got the above action shot (thanks, Flickr sharing tools), and the Mercury-News got a great pic of the ‘burns. See photo #19.

Pic: ‘Milk Bone Super Stars’

ripken-dog-225The best Cal Ripken card I’ve never seen before, via the always-entertaining Orioles Card “O” the Day blog. Click through for the large version and suitable sweater commentary.

Additional recent card blogging: “I dug into my box of mid-90’s Orioles cards tonight with something vague, yet oddly specific, in mind. I needed to go to my happy place. After the frustration and ranting and shiny unpleasantness of last night, I had to cleanse the palate. I wanted to find something silly and unusual. So I got halfway through the box and suddenly I found Ben McDonald, informing me that I had a front row seat to the Gun Show. Thanks for the boost, you crazy Cajun.” Link.

Nats’ best game all year?

rob-and-meThe Coopers were all in town last weekend and saw a Nats win, the combined odds of which are about five billion to one.

The Dunn slam was wicked, probably my favorite Nats homer since the Zimmerman walk-off against the Yankees. After the O’s intentionally walked Zimmerman to get to the big guy, the crowd wanted the come-from-behind shot bad. And everyone played well. Take the AP’s sentence on the grand slam setup, “With Washington trailing 5-4, pinch-hitter Anderson Hernandez led off the seventh with a single against Chris Ray (0-1). Willie Harris singled, Cristian Guzman sacrificed and Ryan Zimmerman was intentionally walked to load the bases.” Want to engage the fans? Be consistent.

Meanwhile, Kearns ran into everything to catch stuff, and Martis was less wild than he could’ve been and redeemed himself for giving up a hit to the opposing pitcher by getting a nice hit of his own. Hanrahan looked surprisingly confident with two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 9th.

Other highlights: Good to run into Penn Beth in the concourse. Teddy held a wide, wide early lead in the President’s Race, but he lost when he stopped to beat up the Oriole Bird. Worth it. (Update since writing but before publishing: Meghan links to the video.) Missed her National Anthem, but the ending of God Bless America from five-year-old Kaitlyn Maher was way above expectations. Bird beating, kid song pix here. No idea if the kid behind Rob is about spit up a tater tot or what.