Tag Archives: Baltimore Orioles

Marking the Baseball Solstice with a list of Top 10 moments

To mark the Baseball Solstice, I’ve been contemplating the greatest moments in baseball history. A number of these came to mind instantly, a few of them took a bit more prodding of the memory banks.

This list is strictly my own reckoning on this date. Ask me in a few weeks or a few months, and some of the items may change — although the top three to five would likely stick.

10. The Amazin’ Mets win the 1969 World Series. The expansion Mets were a miserable franchise in the 1960s (no comment on subsequent decades) and their defeat of the Orioles was as exhilirating as it was surprising. I should note that I was rooting for the Orioles, yet even as a kid I thought the Mets were quite the story.

9. Cal RIpken breaks Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played. Gehrig’s once unassailable record fell when Cal took the field that night, an event that connected the glory days of the past to what was then the present day.

8. Billy Buckner boots the grounder at first base. The Red Sox were oh so close to breaking the curse of the Bambino, and then Buckner let the ball go between his legs. It would be several more years before the Red Sox would finally win their first World Series  since the first decade of the century.

7. The George Brett pine tar bat incident. Never have I seen anything so uproariously funny during a baseball game. Brett charged from the dugout like a demon, screaming bloody murder. Later it came out that Billy Martin had waited for the ultimate moment to call the pine tar violation, which makes the incident even funnier.

6. Who’s On First? OK, so this isn’t a real baseball moment. But Abbot and Costello’s classic routine underscores baseball’s relevance in American culture better than anything.

5. Babe Ruth calls his shot. We know that “Who’s on First” was made up, but the Ruth legend is somewhere in between fact and fiction. That the famous gesture to center field was issued in a Yankees’ defeat of the Cubs in the World Series tells me without a doubt it really happened.

4. Lou Gehrig’s “luckiest man” farewell address. This sad yet sweet moment under the echoing arches of Yankee Stadium is undeniably one of the great ones. It’s a reminder of the nobility of man, and that baseball can break your heart.

3. Roger Maris hits his 61st home run. Through all the relentless pressure he faced, Maris still managed to launch home run No. 61 off Tracy Stallard in 1961. He broke Babe Ruth’s single-season record that day. And he did it witout any hint of performance-enhancing drugs.

2. Willie Mays catch at the Polo Grounds. In Game One of the 1954 World Series, Vic Wertz ripped a monster drive into cavernous center field. Mays raced straight back and brought the ball to earth and, his cap flying off, hurls the ball back toward the plate. The Indians, the winningest regular-season team ever, were toast and lost to the Giants in four straight.

1. The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.  Bobby Thompson smacked a home run off Brooklyn’s Ralph Branca to give the Giants a victory in the final of a three-game playoff series to determine the National League champion. It was the ultimate “walk-off” moment, immortalized by Russ Hodges’ radio call: “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”

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Manager of the year in baseball? Bob Melvin

Who was the best manager in baseball in 2012? I’m going with Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics.

My criteria are twofold: I go with the skipper whose team is a winner and whose team achieved its success in disproportion to its expectations and talent.

By those standards, Melvin is a slam dunk (and I apologize for using a basketball term).

Think about it. Did anyone seriously believe as the season started that the Oakland Athletics could make a serious run at the America League West title given the powerhouse teams assembled by the defending champs in Texas and the Pujols-improved Angels?

Nope.

Did anyone seriously think after the first two months of the season that the A’s could turn it around and contend for the division title?

No way.

Did anyone seriously think with about a month to go that Oakland — improbably staying afloat in the wild card race — would be able to overtake the Rangers and emerge as division champions?

No siree, Bob.

So here’s my ballot for the BBA Connie Mack Award:

1. Bob Melvin, Oakland

2. Buck Showalter, Baltimore (You can make a case for him as No 1, certainly, but I give Melvin the edge for overcoming even lower expectations than the birds had)

3. Bruce Bochy, San Francisco (I know, I know. I’m a Giants fan. But look how the Giants responded when Melky Cabrera went away for steroids and the Dodgers spent their way to a title except they ended up eating the G-men’s dust.)

Honorable mention: Joe Girardi, who probably was a contender for the Nobel Prize in medicine this year, given all the Yankees’ injuries; Davey Johnson, because he brought the Nationals to the playoffs and the best record in the NL.

 

 

 

Baltimore-Washington wins the 2012 Major League Baseball metro-area title

Which metro area had the most successful baseball season? After listening to the Athletics overtake the Rangers on my way home from work last evening, I was all set to declare the Bay Area the cross-league, total victory champions.

But then I remembered that Baltimore-Washington is eligible, and a check of the standings this morning shows the Orioles and Nationals with a combined 191 victories. That’s three better than the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s at 188.

Third place goes to Los Angeles, with the Angels and Dodgers piling up 175 wins. The New York metropolitan area checks in at fourth with 169 wins for the Yankees and Mets. And in fifth, the White Sox and the wretched Cubs trailed with a mere 146 victories, well below the .500 mark of 162.

Does anyone else on the planet care about this matter? I doubt it.

What people do care about is predictions on who will meet in the World Series.

I’d love to see an all orange and black series with the Orioles facing the Giants, and another Bay Bridge series between the Giants and A’s would be fun.

No team is a lock to make it out of its first round, let alone get to the Series. Acknowledging that the playoffs are all the more so a crap shoot with the new wild card format, I’ll pick the Giants to square off against the Yankees.

Another magic night in Baltimore: Josh Hamilton clouts four home runs

When I heard last night that Josh Hamilton had hit four home runs in Baltimore, the Cleveland Indians genetic coding in my brain lit up. It was in Baltimore back on June 10, 1959, when Rocky Colavito knocked out four homers against the Orioles at old Memorial Stadium.

Hamilton homered twice, doubled, then homered twice more as the Texas Rangers pounded the Orioles 10-3. Colavito hit his four homers in successive at bats, and the Baltimore Sun has a wonderful account of it on the Orioles Insider blog.

I was a toddler when Rocky had his big night and likely was sound asleep when he circled the bases for the fourth time. Yet it was one of the earliest stories about Indians’ history I can recall related to me by my father.

Hamilton and Colavito are among just 16 major leaguers to hit four homers in a single game. That’s rarer than pitching a perfect game — an outstanding accomplishment.

The Orioles bring back the cartoon logo

The Baltimore Orioles have resurrected the old cartoon logo that was featured on their uniforms and caps up until the late ’80s. The Baltimore Sun tells you pretty much all you need to know at this link. The Sun also has a poll, and the fans are overwhelmingly in favor of the change.

I prefer the “ornithologically correct Oriole” myself, but I still like the cartoon bird. What I don’t like is the logo imposed on a white panel and the front of the cap.  That brings back too many bad 70s fashion flashbacks.

What a night in baseball!

What a crazy night in baseball.

Using the MLB app on my iPhone, I just listened to the last inning as the Braves fell to the Phillies in 13 innings to give the Cardinals the NL wild card.

Then I switched over to the Yankees broadcast to hear the Rays win in the 12th moments after the Red Sox fell to the Orioles.

You’ve got to love this game.

 

After the first full week of play, some startling names atop the baseball standings

As I write this post, the Yankees and Red Sox (again!) are playing on the Sunday night telecast. If the Yankees win, they’ll manage a tie in first place of the American League East not with the Sox but with the Baltimore Orioles.

Whoa.

And check the AL Central standings. The Indians, who (be honest) most people on the planet expected to have a wretched year even by Cleveland standards, are on top.

No surprise in the AL West, where the Rangers have revived themselves and have raced to an 8-1 start.

Over in the National League, it’s not a big surprise that Philadelphia is leading the East. But Atlanta in the cellar? That’s a surprise. And so, frankly, is the Pirates’ .500 record in the NL Central.

Out west, the Rockies are out front and the defending champion Giants are in last place. Neither surprises me much, especially with San Francisco missing Cody Ross, who propelled their playoff offense last fall, and closer Brian Wilson off his game.

I’m glad some of the divisions are mixed up and confounding the experts. Wouldn’t it be great to see the Orioles take the AL East?