Friday, May 14, 2010

Nolan Reimold Bobblehead Night

I had some down time this afternoon at work and took a moment to do some quick staring at the Orioles schedule I keep pinned on my cubicle wall. Yesterday's magical Orioles triumph over the Mariners (more on that later) which i watched from amazing behind home plate seats (more on those later) revived to a degree my desire to make the journey from DC to Baltimore for the purpose of watching baseball. In scanning the list of promotional dates listed on the schedule, I had to laugh. Later this month the Orioles will unveil the first of this season's set of player bobbleheads. The player? Nolan Reimold.

Great, right? Reimold had a very promising 2009 campaign and most reputable baseball publications predicted more of the same from the Orioles' young left-fielder. He is expected to join Adam Jones and Nick Markakis for years to come to terrorize American Leage pitching. A trio of young talented outfielders. Orioles Magic. Feel it happen!

Theres a problem. Reimold has been a combination of hurt and awful so far in 2010. Last week, he was demoted to Triple-A Norfolk in favor of a ghost from Baltimore's losing past, Corey Patterson (more on him to come, he has earned a proper welcome back. Really. He's earning my warmest praise.) Which leaves me wondering...what happens later this month on Mr. Reimold's big night? Cancel the promotion? That will make the 3 piece set with the other 2 previously mentioned outfielders kind of awkward. Do they scramble and construct a Corey Patterson bobblehead? Or, do they give out a bobblehead of a player who has been demoted (he's not rehabbing) to the minor leagues? If that is the chosen course of action, where will that rank in the all-time order or awkward baseball promotions?

Now to what happened yesterday which shook me out of a brief torpor and once again inspired me to stare into my computer screen and type up a blog post.

Thanks to 13 seasons of spectacular inepptitude on the part of the Orioles, very good seats for games at Camden Yards can be had online at very low prices. At about a 60% discount, I found tickets behind the visiting team on-deck circle. Thank you unholy streak of losing seasons.

The events of the game don't really merit discussion until we reach what transpired in the bottom of the 8th inning. Well, one quick thing. Watching Ichiro bat remains one of my all-time favorite pastimes. He did not disappoint on Wednesday, notching 3 hits including a homerun to right-center field. As angry as I was about the Orioles surrendering yet another homerun, its near impossible not to appreciate the grace with which Ichiro swings, runs, stretches, and heck, he looks good cursing.

In the bottom of the 8th with the Orioles trailing 5-1, Corey Patterson, playing in his 2nd game of the season since the Orioles took a low-cost flier on him, lined what looked like a meaningless homerun to right field. 5-2. After a wild pitch negated an Adam Jones strikeout (when will that boy learn that the strikezone has a southern border?), Nick Markakis lined a single to center. Markakis then broke up a Miguel Tejada double play ball, leaving the Orioles with runners on 1st and 3rd and one out. Ty Wigginton walked. And then Luke Scott wasted no time in lining a Brandon League fastball barely over the left field wall. At first glance I thought the Mariners' leftfielder had caught the ball, but, 20,000 fans cheering convinced me otherwise. With that one swing of his bat, Scott turned a 5-2 deficit into a 6-5 lead.

After the inning, a Luke Scott montage played on the centerfield screen depicting the Orioles DH as a Jedi knight. They even used James Earl Jones' lines from The Sandlot as a voiceover to give Darth Vadar a baseball-y feel.

My fiancee's father is a good sport attending baseball games but his true interests in life lie elsewhere, and, he has a strong fear of any game he attends going extra innings. So, although a somewhat neutral bystander for 8 innings, in the top of the 9th, with the Orioles leading 6-5, he joined me in rooting for the Orioles closer-du-jour Alfredo Simon. I issued a warning that the mere sight of Simon makes me nervous. And after retiring Ryan Langerhans to start the inning, Simon justified my nervousness by hitting Jack Wilson and then walking pinch hitter Ken Griffey Jr. With two outs and two men on base, Simon served up a single to the aforementioned Ichiro, Wilson sprinted around 3rd base racing for the plate, Corey Patterson fielded the ball, cocked, fired, and threw Wilson out at home plate. An excellent tag by Matt Wieters and the game ended.

Easily the best ending to a baseball game that I have witnessed in many, many years.