Commentary: On the Orioles

Baseball On the Orioles

The frauds of memory, the limits of penitence. And baseball.

The following article was published in the Sports Illustrated of October 12, 2015.  It is reprinted here by the kind permission of those who not only commissioned the article, but helped with the logistics of getting Mike Epstein back to Washington so as to wash the sin from my hands. So, hey, when Judgment Day comes, they at least have this going for them.  Thanks, guys. *      *      * THE STATIC of the broadcast, the AM-band crackle that the cheap transistor spit up every time it swung or bounced—even this I remember. Just as I recall the heat from the water in the hallway fountain, its cooling mechanism never quite functional. And the godawful smell of the secondary wing boys’ room. It is 1971, and I am new to the fifth grade at Rock Creek Forest Elementary School, a few hundred yards north of the D.C. line in suburban Maryland, where everything is perfectly Proustian, perfectly preserved in memory. I have been on the playground, playing strikeout with Firestone and Bjellos...

Read more
On the Orioles

A quantum of Oriole

This essay appears in the July 21, 2014 issue of Sports Illustrated.  It appears on this site with the gracious permission of the magazine’s editors.    To the beaten dog, every sudden movement is another impending brutality in a lifetime of such. Eventually, even the most modest and trivial move in the mutt’s direction induces a simpering cower. Tell me on June 16 that Matt Wieters, after playing only 26 games, will cross into the valley of the shadow of Tommy John, and I am supposed to mark that date as the moment when the Baltimore Orioles of 2014 ceased to matter. Flay me with the knowledge that Chris Davis—he of the 53 jacks a year ago—will be hitting a buck-ninety-nine at the All-Star break, and I am supposed to lower my head to your rolled-up newspaper. Push my cold little nose into the mess that has come of Ubaldo Jimenez’s first Baltimore season on a four-year, $50 million contract—he’s 3–8 and now disabled—and I ought to accept the rain of blows that surely follows...

Read more
On the Orioles Published Elsewhere

Fear the Bird: The Sports Illustrated reprise.

Last fall, when the revived Baltimore Orioles made their first journey to the playoffs in fifteen years, I was contacted by Sports Illustrated and asked if I had anything in the way of an essay.  As a matter of fact, in the closing days of season, with the O’s on the heels of the hated Yankees for the division title, I was about ready to open a vein.  What follows appeared in the October 1, 2012 edition of the magazine, which featured a cover shot of the Oriole outfielders jump-bumping in celebration of a victory.  I was a proud fan indeed, though terrified as well that I had provoked the dreaded SI cover jinx. In any event, the deep-seated fear in the hearts of all Baltimoreans — that 2012 was a one-off and the O’s would transform back into pumpkins and mice the following spring — seems at this point to be unwarranted.  They are again contending in the AL East and still playing a smart, fresh brand of baseball.  Therefore, this essay is no longer curse...

Read more

Send this to a friend