I am on vacation. There has been an earthquake, there is a hurricane on the way, Ocean City is being evacuated, the Orioles just swept 4 games in Minnesota and Mike Flanagan has apparently committed suicide. What in the heck is going on? Can’t wait to get back to work – yeah right. I am not sure if it is “official” yet, but sources and police are calling it – “a self inflicted gunshot wound.” That’s heavy. My definition of suicide – a permanent solution to a potentially temporary problem. Something was troubling Michael, down there deep.
My two fondest memories of Mike Flanagan are - a) the entire 1979 Orioles season and b) the ninth inning on October 6, 1991. After Palmer, Flanny was the ace of the Orioles staff. Most of the time you felt like the O’s always had a shot when he was in there pitching. He was confident, stoic on the mound. One of the best left handers ever- in my book. He was….. a Baltimore Oriole. 1979 – Flanagan, Scott McGregor, Dennis Martinez, Jim Palmer, Sammy Stewart, Don “Full Pack” Stanhouse and Tippy Martinez. That’s not all of them but wow, what a staff. 1991 – the Orioles bring in Flanagan to pitch the final two outs - class act. The last Oriole to pitch in Memorial Stadium and he threw 2 strikeouts. Yes, I was there.
MASN is pulling out all the stops. “Remembering Flanny” tributes have been flying. I believe MASN is even going to broadcast that final game at Memorial Stadium the next 2 nights. I also hope they show more Oriole Classics – i.e. 1979 and 1983 World Series. Check your cable listings and Do Not Miss. MASN may go into “Overload” with this one, but it is warranted. I have to give credit – where credit is due. MASN handled the news last night with class. I had heard the announcement around the 5th inning last night on a break through on the radio. So I go turn on the tube - nothing. Palmer and Jim Hunter are calling the game as if nothing had happened. Quick break to radio broadcast – heard nothing more of death notice. Game ends. O’s win. The flood gates open.
Class move. Awful circumstance – but a pleasure to watch MASN handle the situation. Demper and Palmer expressing heart felt sympathy, trying to gather themselves and report on the passing of a lost friend. Amber Theo-Harris, Jim Hunter, Buck-Buck, Tom Marr, etc. all of them - passionate expression during a live broadcast. I was riveted. All the while asking ….well how did he die? Then came the 11 o’clock news and the walls came “Crumblin’ Down” – (John Cougar Mellancamp).
Classless act – WBAL news staff and Gerry Sandusky. This is what was being reported……not verbatim – Mike Flanagan is dead of an apparent suicide in his Monkton home………(brace yourself for this)….Despondent over the inability to make the corrective changes to the Orioles organization to better the team. My first words – are you (blankety-blankety) kidding me. The news media - are they to report news or make news? A tragedy being made worse by the media. I may never watch Channel 11 again. WJZ and Viviano handled it better, short to the point, reporting only information that needed to be expressed at that time. Comcast Sportsnet, ESPN, etc. all reporting with dignity.
Mike Flanagans death has been reported as a suicide, potentially due to “financial issues.” Something wasn’t right in Bedrock. In my book the public does not really need to know – unless it is the family wishes and knowledge of said suicide could help another human being who is troubled. Bottom line – a respected man by his peers took his life. A fan favorite of Baltimore and a definite member of the Orioles family has passed. For those of us approaching the ripe age of 50 – he was a staple of Orioles conversation during our high school /college and those entering the work world years. He did “try and make a difference” in the organization. He stayed with the Orioles organization. He wore orange and black inside and out.
The Yankees and Irene are blowing into town this weekend. The weather and emotions may be fairly turbulent. Pre-game at tonights Ravens/Redskins game and tomorrow nights O’s Yankees game will be rough. Hopefully the Camden Yards crew took some lessons from MASN and the Minnesota Twins organization and will continue to display class tribute to a great Oriole. Thanks for the memories – Mike Flanagan. Go O’s.