The Return of Adam Jones

Yankees

Went up to the yards last night and saw a rather satisfying outing as the Birds took it to the Yankees 10-4.  Some random observations:

  1. A triumphant return by Adam Jones. Now a caveat is that he still appears to be a bit hobbled. This was especially evident as he did his pregame running. Still you can’t argue with three hits (including a homerun and a double) and 5 RBIs.
  2. The Yanks’ Aaron Judge badly misplayed a Mike Trumbo “double” that sailed over his head.
  3. The O’s have apparently decided that Trey Mancini is their leftfielder. As long as he hits and makes the routine plays in the field, they are willing to overlook his defensive deficiencies.
  4. The Yanks hitters put on an incredible show of power during batting practice. None of it counts of course but it was impressive.
  5. Manny Machado is lost at the plate. He’s is swinging at all kinds of bad pitches and has even seemed to lose his swagger in the field.
  6. Mychal Givens is the unsung hero of the Birds bullpen. He’s the guy that Buck turns to when the starter falters but the game is still close and he usually comes through.
  7. A number of Birds hits last night were hit between third baseman Haadley and the line. None of them were errors on his part but I wonder if his range is shrinking.
  8. I’m always impressed when I see Brett Gardner. He is a tough out in clutch situations.
  9. A reasonably good outing by O’s starter Kevin Gausman. Hopefully he is beginning to turn things around.
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Work In-progress

NovemberThird

The fun part of writing a novel is everything up through the creation of the first draft. Anything is possible. Nothing is too outrageous. Let your imagination soar. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar. Just write and create. The story is yours and those characters will do anything you tell them to do.

The downside is that what you have is completely unreadable by anyone save the author. Time to correct and revise. Fill in the obvious plot holes. Fill in the not-so-obvious plot holes. Make sure your environment is realistic, or at least plausible. Make sure your characters are acting “in character.” And fix those typos. So many typos.

One round of editing after another. All those lines that seemed so clever a month ago now wilt in the light of day. Those sentences that, while grammatical correct but are still “clunky.” Those scenes that provide “necessary” exposition but are so boring. It all needs to be attended to.

But as much as you might try, you still need outside help. Enter the “beta-readers.” Those special people know nothing about your story except what is written on the pages. Their efforts are invaluable and their input is necessary, if this story is ever going to make it to a final form that at least some folks might enjoy.

That’s where it is right now. I am very fortunate that the three individuals who were beta-readers for The Gatekeepers of Democracy have agreed to provide the same service for November Third. In a few weeks, perhaps a month, I’ll have their input. At that point, I’ll have a better idea of how much work it will take to get this thing across the finish line.

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O’s Offense Continues to Sputter

Minnesota

Went up to Camden Yards for a rare mid-week day game. O’s vs Twins. In some ways it mirrored last Sunday’s game. Baltimore starter Chris Tillman struggled in the first couple of innings giving up four Minnesota runs. Baltimore did eventually manage three bases-empty homeruns (Hardy, Davis, and Schoop) but otherwise, their offense sputtered. What scoring opportunities they managed were snuffed out by strikeouts and double plays. A few other random points:

  1. Adams Jones had a rough day (0 for 4 with 3 Ks) as did Twins masher Miguel Sano (0 for 5 with 3 Ks).
  2. Kennys Vargas had two ground ball hits that went to the opposite field against the shift. Don’t know if it was planned or just an accident.
  3. Manny Machado isn’t hustling. He just jogged to first on a single.
  4. Buck has been using Trey Mancini in left field in order to get his bat in the lineup. Trey need serious work on his defense. He had one error today, another play that should be been an error, and another instance of him throwing to the wrong base.
  5. Alec Asher should be given an opportunity to start. He’s the best they currently have in the bullpen and he’s not just limited to a single inning.
  6. When I was growing up most teams had a 10 man pitching staff. Now the Orioles have what is essentially an 18 man pitching staff. How so, you ask? Well, they have five starting pitchers: Bundy, Tillman, Jimenez (don’t laugh), Gausman, Miley. Then in the bullpen you have Brach, Givens, Asher, and O’Day. That’s just nine, you say. The rest comes from “roster management.” They come up from the minors; they go down. It happens daily. Sometimes hourly. I’ve yet to buy a scorecard which has the accurate list of pitchers. Hart, Bleier, Castro, Verrett, Critchton, Aquino, Wilson, Nova, Ynoa, Wright. They come and go so quickly that I can’t confirm they all actually exist but I’ll trust Buck.
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Battle of the Birds

Toronto

Mark and I sent up to the Yards today to see the O’s take on Toronto. Very impressive outing by Jays’ starting pitcher Marco Estrada. Using mostly off speed stuff, punctuated with an occasional zinger, he pretty much silenced the Bids’ bats. 7 2/3 innings pitched; 1 run (Adams Jones HR), 1 walk, 12 strikeouts.

Mark used Play-Index on baseball-reference.com to determine the number of times there has been an outing by a Jays’ starter that was at least that good. It’s been done eight times in the history of the Toronto franchise (four of those were Roger Clemens). Most recent is Ricky Romero (2010).

Wade Miley had a reasonably good outing for Baltimore. A two out error by second baseman Schoop, followed by a single and then a homerun by Devon Travis in the first inning. And that was the game.

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Game 1: October 3, 2014

Os25

So this is it, the number one game I’ve seen in the 25 years of O’s baseball at Camden Yards. It’s been some two and a half years since I posted this summary and it still works for me. I’m still hoping to see that World Series game but in the meantime, this one will have to do.

“Mark came up from Charlottesville last night and we journeyed up to Camden Yards for Game 2 of the ALDS – O’s against Detroit. Stadium packed. Crowd, all in orange, energized to the max. In retrospect the game seemed to be divided into seven distinct stages.

Stage one: the first three innings. Both starting pitchers, Chen for the O’s and Verlander for the Tigers were comfortably in control. All the fans around us were keeping careful track of Verlander’s pitch count.

“We can’t wait to get into Detroit’s bullpen” was the common refrain. Detroit has a notoriously weak bullpen but excellent starting pitchers.

Stage two: Nick Markakis hits a line drive homerun with one on in the bottom of the third. Crowd erupts. Everyone is happy.

Stage three: Top of inning four. In a matter of about fifteen minutes the heart of the Tiger batting order (Hunter, Cabrera, Victor Martinez, JD Martinez, Castellanos – five hitters) produce five quick Detroit runs. Very impressive. Chen exits. Crowd is stunned.

Stage four: Gausman pitches well for the O’s in relief allowing the game to remain close. Verlander throws lots of pitches and eventually is taken out. Crowd rejoices. Sanchez (who normally is a starter) comes in and shuts down the Birds bats. The innings go by. Crowd hangs in there, cheering for their Birds, but things do not look good.

Stage five: Bottom of the eighth with the Tigers up 6-3. For reasons that are not readily apparent Detroit manager removes Sanchez from the game and brings in Joba Chamberlain. This greatly excites the crowd. With one out Joba hits Adam Jones. Noise level rises. Then Cruz singles. Noise level rises even more. Then Pearce singles scoring Jones. Joba exits to the grateful cheers of all. Soria is the new pitcher. He walks Hardy. Bases are now loaded with the Tigers still up 6-4. Crowd excitement level is off the charts. Everyone is waiving their orange towels (actually they have been waving them all game). Buck sends the much maligned Delmon Young into pinch hit. Now as my SABR friends like to point out, there are many things Delmon Young can’t do. He can’t field; he can’t throw; he can’t run (run fast, anyway). The one thing Delmon Young can do however is hit the baseball.

Soria throws and Young swings. The result is a line shot over third base heading for the left field corner. I wish I could describe the ensuing play in great detail but in truth, the only thing I retain from that play is the sight of Orioles base runners whizzing around the bases at top speed accompanied by the roar of the crowd; so load; so deafening; that it actually hurt your eardrums just to listen. When the last Oriole runner had slid across home plate and Young had pulled up at second base I finally realized that the Birds had pulled into the lead 7-6.

Stage six: Zach Britten comes in to pitch the top of the 9th. There is no fight left in the Tigers. Three up. Three down. One last crowd explosion. Everyone is happy (delirious actually).

Stage seven: Massive traffic jam trying to get out of parking lot. No one seems to care.

So that’s it. I’m especially glad that Mark got to see it. He’s been an O’s fan since ’98 and has seen many, many dismal Orioles games (seasons). This one was special.”

 

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2,000 and counting

WhiteSox

Went up to the Yards for what was a rather strange little game between the Birds and the White Sox. The Orioles won 4-0. Random notes in no particular order.

  1. Today was Youth Baseball day at the Yards. Most of the seats around me were occupied a tween girls softball team. Their interest in the game was minimal as they were primarily involved in making such gut wrenching decisions as whether to get the pink or the blue cotton candy.
  2. The scoreboard kept flashing that this was the 2,000th game played at Camden Yards but there was no special ceremony or PA announcement.
  3. Chris Tillman started for the Birds. His first start of the year and led off the game by walking the first two Sox batters on nine pitches. Then in classic Tillman fashion, he bore down when necessary and pitched five scoreless innings.
  4. The Birds picked up two runs in the first inning and two more in the second. In the first, it was a couple of walks, an infield single, a sacrifice fly out, and another single. There were four hits in the second (all singles) but two of those were fluky Texas leaguers which landed on the foul line. Not the most robust showing but it worked.
  5. There were eighteen hits in the game. All but one were singles.
  6. Lots of fly ball outs. The wind was blowing quite a bit so perhaps that was a factor in keeping the ball in the park.
  7. Until the ninth inning, there were very few pitches that hit 90 on the radar gun. Finesse, not power was the order of the day.
  8. In the end, the softball girls went with the pink cotton candy. They seemed happy with their choicer.
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Game 2: October 15, 1997

Mussina2

When last I left you I had done Game 3 in my Camden Yards countdown. Game 2 was a contest that almost didn’t happen.

The Orioles opponent in the 1997 League Championship series was Cleveland. I had tickets for game six, if there was to be one. Baltimore won the first game but then lost the next three. Things looked bad but they did manage to win game five. Game six was a 5 PM start on Wednesday October 15. If the Orioles won there would be a game seven while if the Indians won they would be the American League Champions.

The Baltimore starter was Mike Mussina while Cleveland countered with Charles Nagy. If there was one word that could describe this game it would be “tension.” Every time Cleveland came to bat the crowd would suffer through each out, through each pitch. Then after Cleveland would be retired without scoring, it would be the Birds chance to try and get things going. Just about every inning the Orioles would get men on base, usually in scoring position. And every time they would fail to score. The Orioles had ten hits that day and fourteen men left on base. Every time they got men in scoring position Nagy would get tough and shut them down.

Eventually the two teams went to their bullpens: Meyers for Baltimore, Assenmacher, Jackson, and Anderson for Cleveland. Nothing – either way. After a while I just became exhausted from the tension that mounted inning after inning. Then in the top of the eleventh inning manager Johnson brought in Armando Benitez. I had been dreading this. Benitez could be spectacular but he was a bit erratic. He got two outs, but then infielder Tony Fernandez popped a drive to right field. All of us experienced a sinking feeling as we watched the ball sail into the temporary seats that had been erected behind the scoreboard. Cleveland had a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the eleventh the Tribe brought in their closer Jose Mesa. The Birds did manage a two out single by Brady Anderson but Mesa then struck out Alomar for the final out. The Cleveland Indians were the American League champions and I watched with disappointment while the Indians players ran out on to the field to celebrate. Leaving the Yards that night, I fully realized that this had been one of my most memorable ballgames ever. One again I would not be going to the World Series but at least I could say that I saw a game that decided the pennant.

My wish to see a World Series game remains but a dream, but with a dream there is always hope.

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