I know well that Baltimore Orioles fans weren’t REALLY mad that a pitcher was thrown out of a game for hitting a batter on the first pitch after giving up three straight home runs.
I know very well that Baltimore Orioles fans were mad about late Saturday afternoon was THEIR pitcher getting thrown out of a game for hitting a batter on the first pitch after giving up three straight home runs.
As much as I wasn’t interested in fighting with baseball fans on Twitter, I was certainly happy to see the passion. The passion has been perhaps my favorite part of the Birds’ resurgence over the last 14 months.
I was up close and personal (okay, ten rows back) from that very passion Friday night. I had a great friend invite me down to Oriole Park at Camden Yards after our live broadcast of “The Reality Check” at Hooters Friday afternoon. My fiancé and I spent the evening wandering through the ballpark with our friends, taking in the Centerfield Bar, the Orioles’ corporate suite and our fantastic lower level seats at the sold out game against the Detroit Tigers. (I don’t say those things to rub in how great my night was, but instead to offer another thank you to my friend Mike-who might very well be reading this. He was a tremendous host. Indulge me for his sake, please.)
When Nick Markakis came to the plate to lead off the 9th inning, I couldn’t find a single person that wasn’t standing. By the time Chris Dickerson sent everyone home happy, the 40,000 or so in attendance were whipped into an absolute frenzy.
It was one of the more amazing moments I could ever remember as a baseball fan…and it might not have even been the most exciting victory the O’s had all week.
There was more passion inside OPAC Y Friday night than any sunrise Easter service I’ve ever attended in my life. It was a night full of fire, a night full of madness and a night full of, well, Orange Fever.
Dickerson perhaps supplied the final act of “Orioles Magic” with his three run, two out walk-off jack; but the displays of “Orioles Magic” were bountiful from the time I hit President Street at 1pm and couldn’t get to Harborplace until 1:55 because the city was packed.
There were displays of “Orioles Magic” as fans came by to see Larry Sheets while we were sitting at Hooters. There were displays of “Orioles Magic” as a group of Orange and Black supporters shouted down Tigers fans who came to visit at Hooters and declared they had made the trip because “the Tigers were winning the World Series and they wanted to see as many games during the World Series year as possible.” They also couldn’t believe Luke Jones would describe the Orioles as having the American League’s best offense. I’m so glad the Birds were able to make them second guess by Sunday evening.
There were displays of “Orioles Magic” as we walked to and from the stadium. They were of course more after the game, including many who wanted to go out of their way to throw high fives or start a “Seven Nation Army” chant back up.
“Orioles Magic” was everywhere. The passion was real.
The passion was real again Saturday, but I wasn’t necessary as close to the action for it. I had to attend an ex’s wedding in Pikesville Saturday night and watched the better part of the game from my couch.
I’ll admit, it didn’t give me quite as good of a view of Matt Tuiasosopo’s shoulder as home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt did when Jason Hammel plunked it. My view also included a MASN broadcast where Mike Bordick wasted no time in letting me know the pitch was a slider and barely more than 80 miles an hour. Obviously no pitcher could ever purposefully hit a batter with such a pitch.
I took to Twitter to say the following…
It lead to a 30 minute back and forth that included legitimately ANGRY responses from 20-30 Orioles fans absolutely bullish about how disastrous of a decision Wendelstedt had made to toss Hammel without a warning.
Because apparently giving up three straight home runs suddenly needs to come with a warning.
Hendelstedt of course had every right to toss Hammel from the game. He didn’t have a radar gun available behind the plate, but even if he could tell the ball wasn’t thrown with Nolan Ryan heat, he had the right to decipher the pitch may well have been thrown with frustration.
Warnings come when an umpire fears retaliation. Ejects come when an umpire fears a pitcher throw a ball merely out of frustration.
Sometimes those decisions come with collateral damage. Hammel (and just about everyone connected to the organization) wanted to let you know after the game that there was no intent involved in the pitch. Of course, if you can remember the time a pitcher admitted intent after a game I’d love to have you forward it to me. (It’s firstname.lastname@example.org by the way.) (Edit from GC: I absolutely meant to say “admitted intent after a game and wasn’t suspended. I did not. It’s my fault and I apologize. Thanks to those of you who reminded me that Cole Hamels had indeed admitted intent after plunking Bryce Harper.)
Sadly, no umpire has the time to stop the game and conduct a full trial to determine intent on a pitch. I don’t necessarily think Jason Hammel intended to plunk Matt Tuiasosopo, but I don’t know for sure he didn’t, either.
Neither does anyone else, despite how many of you angrily Tweeted otherwise.
But I get it. It’s passion. It’s magical.
It’s way better than everyone getting together to ignore Eric DuBose’s most recent start together.