On Thursday I provided details of past attacks on Baltimore’s beloved Oriole Bird and included a mention of Juan Samuel’s knockout blow in a fight with the Bird. Samuel was the Detroit Tigers’ first-base coach at the time of the throwdown.
(Quick aside: Perhaps Samuel could have given the Royals’ Tom Gamboa some useful tips for fending off attackers in the coach’s box. Gamboa also could have looked to Conan O’Brien … “The More You Know.”)
This week’s Flashback Friday takes a closer look at the battle between base coach and mascot and locates a useful lesson for the 2010 Orioles: If you need to end an extended losing streak, have Juan Samuel attack the opposing team’s mascot.
Here’s what former Phillies’ reporter Jayson Stark had to say in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the incident a week after it occurred.
Mascot masher of the week: The Orioles’ Bird mascot is suing a fan from Philadelphia – and our old amigo, Tigers coach Juan Samuel, may be next. While boxing playfully with the Bird before an Aug. 6 game, Samuel accidentally knocked the mascot’s head off. The Tigers then won to break a nine-game losing streak. So Samuel said, “I’m forced to beat him up again.” The Bird dodged him the next day, and the Tigers lost. But they had a rematch before the series finale Sunday – and the Tigers won again. Told there was no mascot to fight in the Tigers’ next stop in Texas, Samuel said, “I may have to import one.”
Word spread far and wide, as evidenced by these comments on Aug. 25, 1999, by Tyler Kepner of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer when the Tigers came to town to face the Mariners.
During a recent game at Baltimore, Detroit Tigers coach Juan Samuel playfully fought with the Orioles’ mascot, pulling off the bird’s head. The Tigers won the game, snapping a losing streak, and won again later in the series when Samuel did the same thing.
For a team struggling to find ways to win, mascot-bashing may be the answer – which could be bad news for the Mariner Moose.
“If he comes down here, I’m going to get him,” said Samuel before last night’s game with the M’s. “But he doesn’t usually come down.”
The 2010 Birds need to go down fighting from here on out. And Juan Samuel should lead by example.