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Ed Schrader’s Sports Beat

The press box is an interesting cross-section of guys that St. John’s Bay would want wearing their cargo shorts and polos—and they do.

If a future being were to travel back in time thousands of years and look upon this diamond, standing here in the press box centered directly over the catcher and umpire, adorned in their strange armor, firmly poised in reverence, facing a great flag with 15 stars and 15 stripes, there would be much lost in translation; yet even this exotic diplomat, suddenly whisked into an ancient dimension, would sense that something indeed was astir down there on the brown dirt pulpit—a priest of sorts in waiting on an earthen mound, a collective meditation, a moment of reverence before ritual.

It’s a muggy Monday night in Birdland as the scrappy Orioles dig in to face off against their worthy adversary, the Chicago White Sox, with hopes of maintaining a bid for the postseason. They’re not far behind the Yankees, and for the moment, they’re maintaining prime real estate in the top of a Wild Card race that is anything but stagnant, with Tampa Bay and Oakland constantly nipping at their heels. This is the game at its richest.

The mighty Wei-Yin Chen takes the mound. He recorded his first major league victory against the White Sox in April with two earned runs on six hits and two walks. Pete Townshend’s “Let My Love Open The Door” blasts over the PA, accompanied by a Jumbotron video of women painting the walls of some children’s community center. No one seems focused on this. The song—which is essentially about a man trying to convince an optimistic person, in a world of naysayers, that he is the one and that they should be together—seemed rather inappropriate for the occasion, most notably when you consider Townshend’s whole child-porn debacle that had the boys at Scotland Yard wondering if the kids were truly alright.

Chen starts in on White Sox left fielder Dayan Viciedo with a nasty fastball—strike one!

The press box is an interesting cross-section of guys that St. John’s Bay would want wearing their cargo shorts and polos—and they do. Good men who will spot money to their weird kid brothers at the casino and drive their mother-in-laws to Spa World. Even some honest-to-goodness nerds in the mix—one fella plays some kind of The Avengers game on his laptop that looks like a cross between Pokémon and World of Warcraft. I also can’t help but notice the pair of Smash Mouth sunglasses sitting beside his popcorn cup. Meanwhile a gray-haired man with a beet-red face throws continuous wads of crumpled paper over his shoulder, missing the garbage can almost every time. A brunette journalist in her early 30s tells inside jokes to a man who slightly resembles Joe Namath and seems drunk or half-asleep.

A rather large cricket jumps into the press box, looks around, and decides to take a rain check, diving back into the grandstand. Through two innings Chen has kept the wolves at bay, grabbing a couple strikeouts along the way. Down in Jumbotron country, some guy that looks like Billy Joel after 200 bourbons wins some “act insane and embarrass your child contest” by making a face akin to Barney Gumble. It’s somehow touching.

It’s now the bottom of the second, and no folks those aren’t boos; that is most of the 10,955 attendees screaming “Lewwww” as Lew Ford crosses the plate after bashing out a solo shot, his first big-league banger since July 29, 2007! Aside from coming up short with the bases loaded later on that inning, and Chen handing out strikes like $400 tow rides on East 33rd Street on a Tuesday morning in Charles Village (compliments of our fair city), the O’s stay relatively quiet until the sixth, when the Sox answer back with a two-run homer from Kevin (ya-killen-me) Youkilis. Later on that same inning, with tension building, the O’s luck out with a slew of walks and a single to help put one on the board, leaving fans with bated breath, hoping for that go-ahead run.

At this point, I notice that we have a bit of a meta-game happening with John Lennon—who has two songs under his belt, “Power to the People” and the Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There”—vs. Pete Townshend, with the previously mentioned song and the Who’s “Who Are You,” which played in the fifth. In both worlds, it is a two-to-two tie.

Action picks back up in the eighth inning on both ends, as the Sox squeeze in another run, making it a 3-2 lead for Chi Town—but then, as Mariah Carey says, “a hero comes along,” one Nate McLouth hits a towering two-run shot to right that even wakes up The Avengers RPG dude. It lands, to everyone’s astonishment, on the street, unless of course that was the eight cups of complimentary press-box coffee messing with me! Jim Johnson seals the deal, giving us the “lovely total” of 4 to 3.

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