The 2016 MLB playoffs have already included historic performances. Here are a few outstanding efforts that we’ve witnessed so far and how they compare to the Orioles’ postseason records. Continue reading
There’s a budding Twitter bromance taking place between Orioles reliever and resident Budweiser smuggler Tommy Hunter and wrestling legend Ric Flair. After delivering an off-color, Flair-inspired locker room speech following Sunday’s wild card clincher, Hunter reached out to the 16-time world champion on Twitter and got nothing but love in return.
— Ric Flair® (@RicFlairNatrBoy) October 3, 2016
Sure, I could burnish the legend of Orioles baseball for my kindergartner by regaling him with stories of the great Cal Ripken Jr., who showed up every day, worked hard, gave blue-collar Baltimore its very own hero, and saved baseball after the strike. Or, I could tell him about the relief pitcher who loved Budweiser products, dropped f-bombs on live television, and channeled pro wrestling promos. How can you not be romantic about motherf&#@in’ baseball, son?
Given Roar From 34’s focus on Orioles history, it would feel like I’m not doing my unpaid job if I weren’t to provide some historical context on “two claps and a Ric Flair.”
Should the Orioles Be So Excited About a Wild Card Berth? Allow Me Answer That With Two Claps and a Ric Flair.
Overall, nine Orioles teams have won 90 or more games and not made the playoffs. The 2016 O’s are the third team to have won exactly 89 games, and they are the first of that trio to have made the postseason.
The Orioles became something of a pinata following the team’s clubhouse fiesta in honor of clinching an American League wild card. The bearers of the virtual fringed pinata sticks tsk-tsked the O’s for what in their eyes equates to a celebration of not finishing first. Go for the gold, but don’t dare stand on the podium if you get bronze or silver. To those critics I would offer a defiant two claps and a Ric Flair. Don’t let the champagne soak you on the way out of the clubhouse doors.
In many regards, I’m not a fan of baseball’s second wild card, which amounts to a version of the NCAA basketball tournament’s play-in game. You made it, but not really. Perhaps that’s why Dan Duquette was talking like a small conference basketball coach in the clubhouse on Sunday.
“So now we’ve got a shot to go for the dance,” Duquette said. “We want to advance in the tournament.”
Duquette may as well have quoted that March Madness truism, “Survive and advance.”
One thing I do appreciate about the two wild card system, besides the fact that it allows me to spend money on overpriced postseason merchandise, is that it provides a measure of recognition to worthy teams that might otherwise be forgotten.
Perhaps you heard about a certain South Korean baseball player hitting a ninth-inning, pinch-hit home run for the Orioles in Toronto on Wednesday night. Here’s a hearty, Dave Wallace-esque double bow to Hyun Soo Kim for keeping the Orioles’ postseason hopes alive, and frankly for making my world a better place.
How you ask?
Well, my son rushed into our bedroom this morning at 3 a.m. needing to go to the bathroom. He didn’t make it there. I’ll spare you the details. Normally this would be a source of tremendous frustration for me, but in my early morning haze I thought, “That’s okay, Hyun Soo Kim.”
The experience got me to wondering if this feeling could carry over to the rest of my day. Could Hyun Soo Kim deliver peace to my world?
Just imagine …
Rookie call-up Trey Mancini proved to be a rare bright spot this week as the Orioles’ postseason ambitions became clouded.
On Wednesday, Mancini distinguished himself as the third Oriole to homer in his major league debut. What did he do for an encore? On Thursday, he became the first Oriole to homer for his first two hits as well as the first Oriole to homer in his first two starts.
Mancini’s mother was proud. Perhaps Larry Haney was, too.
In 1966, Haney became the first Oriole to homer in his major league debut. The 23-year-old catcher appeared in 20 games during the 1966 season starting with a July 27 contest against the Cleveland Indians. After grounding out in his first at-bat, Haney deposited a John O’Donoghue offering into the stands with Paul Blair aboard in the fifth inning to give the O’s a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in a 7-1 victory. Continue reading
It would be simplistic to suggest that in this, the 50th anniversary season of the Orioles’ first World Series team, the current model of Baltimore’s beloved baseball machine resembles the model from five decades ago that became a classic.
Sure, our beer still winks at us, though now it peeks around corners to do so rather than swaggering down the sidewalk. There will be no repeat of the 1966 National Beer serving tray featuring the O’s team photo.
On the field, our strike zone is different – shoulders to knees kept batters on their toes until baseball changed its umpiring ways in 1969 – our mound is lower, and the complete game is an accomplishment rather than an expectation. The early O’s had only a league title to chase, meaning that any talk of a wild card would have centered on eccentric reliever Moe Drabowksy.
Regardless, it’s fun, in hindsight, to read about the perceived shortcomings of the city and the team in October of 1966, which ring familiar today. In the stands, Orioles fans took their knocks. On the field, the Orioles were defined by their knocks.