Monday, June 28, 2010

Don't Pop The Champagne Just Yet

Random Musings From This Weekend

Wow! Can You Believe It?!?! The Orioles beat the Marlins in their last game, then propelled that momentum into a SWEEP of their 32 mile away neigbors the Washington Nationals over the weekend. Attendence figures were very impressive: Friday - 43,484, Saturday - 28,635, And Sunday - 22,951... all showed up in the hot, humid, muggy 90 degree plus "summer-time" conditions of Inner Harbor Baltimore. Cold beverage sales in Camden Yards were probably equally impressive.

Orioles have actually won four games in a row, and have Monday (06-28-10) off to "re-coup" and prepare before facing the Atlanta Braves. Sounds great doesn't it? Before we go a pop open a bottle of champagne to celibrate this mini streak... we need a reality check. The Orioles are 23 and 52, worse record in baseball. So put away the cork screw and contain your excitment just a little bit.

So What's Next?

Some roster changes (exit Garrett "sit on the bench" Atkins) are being made to make room for some additional pitching. Long over-due and bound to help overall. Luke Scott and Adam Jones have found their swings connecting with some baseballs now and then. Infield and throwing errors seem to be occuring less and less. And perhaps most important of all - there is a little "swagger" in that dugout now. Up in the bullpen, theres some earned and deserved JOY. The players body language no longer reeks of defeat. Instead, it has been replaced with some confidence that says "Hey! We CAN win some games". The television cameras do not lie. More of the players are at the rail watching the game, cheering their team mates on, and "high-five-ing" every little thing.

So maybe we will keep seeing a little better play on the field, alot better player attitude (* thanks Nick *), and some more wins than expected from the Orioles. Winning four in row IS something to be proud of. So, I am not going to pop the cork on that champagne just yet, but will keep the bottle on ice :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

So, You Are An Orioles Fan, Huh?

I am a Baltimore Orioles fan. I turn into an 8 year old kid everytime I get my ticket scanned, go through the turnstile, and pass the gate. I pause "superstitously" to adjust my cap for Orioles "good luck" that night. My eyes get big, my ears take in the pre-game music, and I follow my nose to Boog's Bar-B-Q to say "hi" to Mr. Powell if he is on his stool signing autographs and talking to fans. For The next three and half hours or so, I am in baseball heaven.

Have to remember, I have gone through ALOT to be at this game tonight. Bought my ticket on-line weeks in advance, have driven 210 miles from central Southwestern Virginia, and checked into a local hotel already. So four games a season is usually my limit.

With a record of ONLY 19 wins, and 52 losses (at this writting)it is very hard to be a loyal Orioles fan. It is very flustrating to see your team lose night after night against even medicore teams. Whether it is a poor outing by the starting pitcher who is throwing "batting practice", a game changing throwing error, or a dropped ball... my poor Orioles find some way to lose.

Since I watch the majority of the games on Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), I hear all the pre-game, during the game, and post-game comments and analysis from the in the broadcast booth "experts". Usually they get it right, but they are human and make mistakes. One on-going theme and subject I fully agree with is "it begins and ends with great pitching". And the Baltimore Orioles have none. Great pitching can shut down great hitting everytime... that is a fact! Need proof? Think of the tandem "one-two punch" of Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson winning the World Series for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Baltimore Orioles have neither great starting pitching, nor an excellent bullpen. Ownership and management does not go out on the free agent market and sign the best ace pitchers available like other clubs who have no regard for payroll like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Not real good at "before the dead line" trades either. The few they do sign to inexpensive contracts have questionable records, sporadic sucess, and often lousy overall stats. Seems the Orioles "want to cultivate from within" with first round draft picks and their minor league clubs. This idealogy still has not produced a winning team on the field for years now. Orioles need to "buy" some pitching talent - it is that simple folks!

So I remain a flustrated loyal Baltimore Orioles fan, watching and going to games when I can, knowing no one in ownership or management cares what little 'ol batspeed29 thinks. Seems the Orioles are on their way to losing over 100 games this season... must be the wonderful staff AND Boog's roast beef sandwiches that keep me coming back to Camden Yards :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

You Collect Baseball Cards? You A NERD Or What?

People are always looking for "mutual interests" with those they come in contact with in everyday life. In social settings, it is a "common ground" question to ask others "You Have Any Hobbies?". I always proudly answer "I collect baseball cards". This usually gets raised eyebrows and dropped jaws from the men, and cute smiles with twinkle in their eyes from the women. The ladies know here is a 50+ year old, 6 foot, 240 lb. guy "who still has a little bit of kid in him". The men think "bet he doesn't have a circular saw or a hunting rifle". They are right on all counts.

It is easy to get labeled "An OLD Nerd" when you have such a hobby you apparently should have out-grown. You get those "I thought only kids collected baseball cards" like comments. These usually come from the computer on-line game playing crowd that can not understand the pleasure of actually "touching and owning" a collectible item. Baseball card collecting is also my connection to the players and history of the game. To the serious inquiries from "gamers" I refer to the current price guides. Their jewel cased CD's of the latest (now used) games do not seem to have the same value... hmmm? Also doubt they would realize the bids some of my baseball cards get on eBay if placed for auction.

Though now as an adult I can appreciate the inherent "preceived value" of the older major star and Hall of Famer baseball cards in my collection, I still get a thrill out of opening the packs of the latest releases and sorting them. In a stressful world, I find this activity very relaxing with a favorite CD playing in the background. Some guys find their "comfort zone" in their shop with a table saw and a 2 x 10. Others love heading out into the woods to find "Bambi's Mother". Mine is at the dining room table sorting and filing baseball cards on an older bath towel.

I promise not to mention your saw blade is dull and not cutting well, or your rifle sights are off, if you promise not to label me with a "juvenile hobby".

New Baseball & Related Blog Begins

This is where I begin to unleash MY thoughts and opinions upon the baseball (and beyond) world. And after following our "National Past-Time" as an adult for over 35 years... I have alot of both. Please cry with me when I rant, laugh with me when I rave, and applaud loudly when I "hit the nail honestly on the head".

A little background about me:

Follow the local Top Class A (Carolina League) team faithfully since 1986. Currently that is the Salem Red Sox, and the team is owned by the parent club in Boston. They have an awesome 6,000 seat stadium with Triple A lighting, the best food you could ask for, and a terrific staff of friendly people (y'all come by now ya hear?). Love going to these minor league games with my nearly 80 year old father, and watching all the errors and great plays that occur.

Local cable tv and satilite gives us Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), so we get Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals games, along with Fox and ESPN MLB coverage. Get to watch alot of teams and games - both good and bad.

Have collected baseball cards since I was a kid. Duplicates are carefully filed by manufacture, year, and number in over 40 four tray monster boxes, and over fourty 3-ring binders. A bit of an "autograph hound" when opportunity presents itself - plenty of great prospects with cards have come through the Carolina League over the years, and I have "snagged" as many autographs as I could. Much harder to do nowadays, and that will be the theme of one of my future posts ! Have also tried my hand sucessfully at collecting autographs thru the mail - yet another post down the road.

Plug Time: Run baseball card auctions on eBay all the time... user ID: "batspeed"

This is enough to get us started down the road to the ballpark, or perhaps to the store to buy a pack or two of new baseball cards!