So my buddy Brock called me around noon yesterday and asked if I was interested in heading down to the Yards for a good old-fashioned baseball doubleheader. I checked with the wife for clearance, she said o.k., and I met Brock around 5:15 and we headed in.
Perhaps we should have stayed away.
But that’s the truly amazing part of baseball. You go to a game to enjoy the baseball, have a bite and a brew, and out of nowhere, history occurs before your eyes.
Trust me, I was there. There was no reason to believe that anything extraordinary was going to occur even after the 9 run sixth inning that made the score 14 – 3. But as the incredible top of the eighth inning kept unfolding, and the Rangers had plated 20, then 22, then 24(!) runs, my stats-addled brain began churning. What was the most lopsided loss in Orioles history? This had to be the most runs allowed in franchise history, right? Had any team ever scored 30 before? Brock and I debated all this before the top of the ninth. And I told him I was rooting to see thirty runs. He tried to scold me for rooting against the Birds until I convinced him that I’d much rather see history made than some forgettable blowout. "C’mon thirty!" I said aloud, and surprisingly, everyone around us cheered that. It seems history was on all our minds.
Paul Shuey was historically inept (as were Brian Burres and Rob Bell) and before we knew it, there were Rangers on the corners and 27 runs on the board. And when Ramon Vasquez lined that 3-run shot over the scoreboard in right, the ENTIRE crowd (all 11,000 of us) was on its feet cheering. As strange as it sounds, I was truly energized by the scene. THIRTY FRIGGIN’ RUNS? And I’m actually here to see it? Unreal!
I’m proud that Baltimore baseball fans are smart enough to cheer something as incredible as 30 runs. It proves to me that we are still some of the most knowledgeable, passionate fans of the game. Even when it’s us taking the beating. And the stadium’s three quarters empty.
I’ve never seen a no-hitter, a perfect game, a batter hit for the cycle or a milestone hit like Cal’s 400th homer or Eddie’s 500th. But I have seen something that NOBODY in the ENTIRE 20th Century ever saw: a baseball team scored 30 runs in one game.
How crazy and great is baseball anyway?
Last night’s historic loss had me contemplating this on my drive home: As proud a tradition as the Baltimore Orioles have, this franchise has also endured some epically bad baseball. To wit:
0 -21 to start the 1988 season (which I contend is the MOST unbreakable individual or team record in the game).
The game when Toronto hit 8 homers against us.
Don Larsen’s 3 -21 season.
Ken Dixon, Omar Daal, Marty Cordova, Brook Fordyce.
The 1986 game when the Birds hit TWO grand slams in one inning and LOST (to the Rangers, by the way).
Jeff Stone, Ken Gerhart, Jay Tibbs, Pete Stanicek.
Nine consecutive losing seasons (and closing on a tenth).
I realized that these things help to define baseball as a paralell to life. There are moments of personal triumph and satisfaction in all our lives, but life is long and difficult, and we fail more often than we succeed. And that’s alright, because we have an uncanny ability as humans to put those bad memories in the way back recesses of our minds. Which is probably for the best.
One final thought about 30 -3: The irony of Wild Bill was not lost on me last night. This game was the make-up for Monday night’s rainout, which was the day Wild Bill passed. I wonder if somewhere Wild Bill was having a good laugh and a cold beer as "his" team got clocked in historic fashion.
Because I think that’s the one thing Wild Bill never got back in his life after 1985. The love of his life, the Baltimore Orioles.