photo by Samara Pearlstein
Most horrifying moment of the series: THAT PHOTO UP THERE. DO YOU GUYS SEE THAT? WHAT IS THAT? WHY IS THAT?
You can, I am sure, imagine my PURE HORROR when I first saw that at the ballpark. During BP on Saturday, Inge’s hat stayed on, and it wasn’t until he trotted out of the dugout to warm up Nate in the bullpen, holding his hockey mask, that we were treated to the sight of his startlingly bare pate. NO, I thought. NO, SURELY I AM HALLUCINATING FROM THE HEAT.
Quick sidenote, but you guys, Baltimore is hot. When you are outside for any length of time, you kind of want to die. If we had not had occasional cloud cover for the Sunday game, you probably would not be reading this blog right now, because I would have been reduced to a small puddle of melted Tigers blogger. Hallucinations seemed a very plausible explanation.
Evidence, however, suggested that neither the loss of Brandon Inge’s hair nor the implicit loss of his sanity were the result of my heat-fevered imaginings. He had to keep taking off his catcher’s mask all throughout Saturday’s game to wipe his face and head, for instance, because he no longer had any hair to absorb the sweat. It was the same with his regular hat on Sunday. GOOD JOB THINKING THIS ONE THROUGH, BRANDON. And of course he gave an FSN interview before the Sunday game partially sans chapeau, which gave me the opportunity to shoot that ridiculous photo up top and to more firmly confirm the shearing.
So, obviously, I am not a fan of this move. Some guys can rock the bald look. Brandon Inge is not one of those guys. I think it makes him look a) a lot older and b) kind of like a mutant. Apparently Fernando got a haircut too, but, unlike Brandon, he does not look like he’s been exposed to radioactive industrial waste post-clipping.
The haircut did, however, give us the following quote, of which I very much AM a fan:
Dolsi, who charged Rodney $200 for the haircut, took the shears to Brandon Inge Saturday afternoon. Inge came out halfway through his head shaving, saying his brief look with hair on the sides was modeled after various balding reporters, teammates and his manager.
“There’s something wrong with Inge,” Leyland said, chuckling. “He’s rowing with one oar. But he has life and spirit and plays his ass off. That’s what it’s all about.”
Steve Kornacki/Mlive.com article
Rowing with one oar. Nice.
Second most horrifying moment of the series: Polanco being called out at the plate in the top of the 10th on Saturday. ‘Cause, um, no. He was safe! In fact, they showed the replay in slow motion IN THE BALLPARK, and it was CLEAR that he was safe, but by that time the call had already been made and Polanco had already been herded off the field before he could get himself tossed by saying a couple magic words.
I understand that the umps are human, they make mistakes for every team, part of the game, so on and so forth, but GRRARRGGH. This would have been a LOT less galling if the Orioles hadn’t gone on to win it in the next inning, thus making that Polanco play a pivotal moment in the game. Ugh. Quadruple ugh.
Tigers fans in attendance stepped up to the plate with a few ‘POLANCO WAS SAFE’ signs at the Sunday game. I was very proud of our ability to display adaptability.
Third most horrifying moment of the series: There is a song called ‘Orioles Magic!’ and they play this song at the ballpark. If you are strong of heart you can hear the song right here. You will probably laugh until you cry.
Something magic happens, everytime you go
You make the magic happen, the magic of Orioles Baseball!
THEY ACTUALLY PLAY THIS AT THE BALLPARK. ‘Go get ’em Tigers’ is downright sedate in comparison.
There’s also something called ‘the Crab Shuffle’ that happens on the scoreboard, where you have to track which crab has the baseball, like that cup-and-ball magic trick. As my mother pointed out, it’s not actually HARD, but it can pose problems if you’re a) not paying that much attention or b) drunk, which may usually account for most of the Orioles crowd.
Fourth most horrifying moment of the series: Every single Tigers pitcher except for Fernando and the Fossum Possum on Saturday. Although I’m actually being a little unfair to Zoom by saying that, but the home run he gave up to Ramon Hernandez was bad enough to qualify as horrifying. Fernando had a bunch of Ks and the Fossum Possum, despite a teensy bit of unpleasantness at the end of his outing, was much more solid than I expected when I saw him coming into the game.
Everyone else was very bad and I hope they feel bad.
Fifth most horrifying moment of the series: Both the Tigers and Orioles batting around on Saturday. You notice how all these horrifying things are from Saturday? Anyways. I score games that I attend, and batting around screws up scorecards something awful, which drives me NUTS… especially because the Orioles scorecards are printed on a black background, so it’s hard to scratch out the inning numbers if you have to change them. Maybe I’ll scan them in or something so you guys can see.
I did mostly like the scorecards, though. They don’t really give you enough room for pitchers but are nicely sized otherwise, and you can get ’em separate: you don’t have to buy a whole program, you can just get the roster and scorecard for a dollar. I strongly approve.
Enough with horror, what about the good stuff? I will say this: Camden Yards is, as advertised, a really nice ballpark with a bunch of really nice features. The seats were comfortable (bearing in mind that what I know best is the Fenway grandstand, so compared to that perhaps every other ballpark in the world is going to seem extra comfortable) and although the heat is very UNcomfortable, that’s not the fault of the ballpark (and in fact they had at least one ice station in the concourse to keep people hydrated/alive). The Eutaw Street bit, with the warehouse and the home-run-marking baseballs, is very neat. It’s easy to think that Camden Yards looks like a bunch of other new ballparks, but you have to remember that when it was built it was the first of its kind, and all the others followed from its example.
It was also, so far as I could tell, about half full of Tigers fans. The Sunday crowd was maybe a little more strongly Oriole-oriented, but there were TONS of Tigers fans at both games and in my hotel and wandering around the city. Our section for the Saturday game was AT LEAST 75% Tigers fans. I mean, we had people spontaneously saying, “Go Tigers!” and, on Sunday, “Polanco was safe!” everywhere we went around the city. It was a little weird, because I’m used to that with Red Sox fans, but not usually with Tigers fans.
Verlander on Sunday was amazing. After the long game Saturday, I was TERRIFIED that we were going to be treated to a slow 100-pitches-by-the-5th-inning Verlanderian game, which probably would have caused the aforementioned heat-related blogger meltdown. Instead he threw 105 pitches through 8.2 innings and gave up only 3 (!!) hits, which both sped up the game and gave the bullpen a desperately-needed rest. He also FINALLY managed to sneak his ERA back under 4.00, joining Arrrrmando as the only starters for whom this is the case.
It would have been really nice to see him get the complete game, and it was HIGHLY nerve-wracking to watch the Rollercoaster do what he usually does to games that aren’t save situations, but obviously Leyland desperately wanted to win this one. That’s fine; I desperately wanted the Tigs to win it too. And Justin took his removal from the game with a (bemused? wry?) grin for his manager, and he took his hat off to the (appreciative mostly-Tigers-fan) crowd as he headed to the dugout.
I did also very much enjoy getting a chance to see The River Thames hit a home run in person. Now it’s like I’m part of the phenomenon!
I (obviously) took about a trillion photos, and I will get them on the internet eventually for your enjoyment.
Tonight we’re in KC for the Return of Zach Miner vs. Luke Hochevar and his bad hair. Game’s at 8:10 pm EDT due to the imaginary central time zone. Go Tigers!