The Baltimore Orioles are in the kind of late-season slump that makes you go …
Yup, there goes your post-season.
When you were little, did you ever have someone hand you an ice cream cone and you greedily pushed your tongue into it and, just like that, the scoop of the best chocolate ice cream in the whole world, pure frozen perfection, the best thing you ever, ever tasted, just fell over off the edge of the cone and landed at your feet?
And, there’s a moment of stunned silence, when you think, like any five year old would, “What the f***?”
And, then you cried.
Not tears-rolling-out-of-your-eyes cried, but the shrieking, gulping, wailing kind of cry that only children can get away with, and that pretty much sums up how it feels to have your ice cream fall to the ground … the result of some lazy, careless adult who couldn’t take the two seconds to tamp the scoop firmly into the cone before giving it to you – a child – and who has now ruined everything because this has to be one of the worst things that could ever happen to anybody …
Until, years later, the Orioles fall over, just like that lousy ice cream and you realize …
Suckity, suck, suck, suck.
Not a single Oriole, not a single one of the 19 position players who have had at least one at-bat is batting better than .295 over the past 30 days. Nine of the 20 – that’s 45 percent of them – are batting .208 or worse.
Compare that to the Toronto Blue Jays, who have six players batting .300 or better during the past 30 days.
That, along with porous, unreliable, hapless pitching, is why the Orioles have won just three of their last 16 games. They are 3-13 and 6.5 nearly impossible games away from that second Wild Card.
It makes you want to change the subject …
On this date, September 3, 1897, Baltimore Oriole right fielder Wee Willie Keeler went 6-for-6 in a game against the St. Louis Browns. (“Wee” because the outfielder stood just shy of 5’5”.)
His teammate, first baseman “Dirty” Jack Doyle, went 6-for-6, too. (“Dirty” because he was an aggressive baserunner, prone to brawls on and off the field, and was once arrested in the middle of a game.)
Left fielder Joe Kelley went 5-for-6.
The 1896 Orioles. Keeler is in the front row, third from the left (with his elbow on his manager’s leg). Doyle is in the front row, far left, holding a bat. Kelley is in the second row, third from the left.
The Orioles defeated the Browns that day 22-1. Twenty-eight hits.
(Over their past four games, the 2015 Orioles have scraped together 26 hits and 12 runs. Total.)
Keeler and Doyle are two of only 98 major league players to get six hits in a regular nine-inning game. They are the only teammates to do it in the same game.
Baltimore Orioles game program, 1897
The Orioles would finish the 1897 season second to Boston. Keeler would lead the league with a .424 average.
Those 1897 Orioles did not evolve into the present-day Orioles. They share only the name. (The 1897 St. Louis Browns were renamed the Cardinals a few seasons later. Yes, those Cardinals.)
(Those Orioles are also not the 1902 Baltimore Orioles that, through a cruel twist of fate, became the New York Yankees.)
They were one of baseball’s greatest teams.
And, Keeler was one of the greatest batters. His secret? “I have already written a treatise and it reads like this: ‘Keep your eye clear and hit ‘em where they ain’t; that’s all.’ ”
And, hang on to your ice cream …
UPDATE: Maybe Wee Willie Keeler wasn’t 6-for-6 after all. Here’s where I revisit the “facts” and change my mind about things: “The Official Table of the Slaughter”
I haven’t give up hope. Yet. (Or, maybe I have. I can’t decide.)
Love the cover of the program. They just don’t do it that way anymore. Shame, isn’t it?
I know! They’re beautiful … even the advertisements. And, the old programs would have the players already listed on the scorecard. I guess line-ups were pretty much set in stone back then.
How is it that we never forget the loss of that scoop of ice cream the first time? Unlike a baseball team, it’s easy to make sure that such a loss doesn’t happen again. Ah well, as those of us Cubs fans have been way too accustomed to saying, there’s always next year– and sometimes next year finally happens.
Hold onto your seat, Gloria … you might get a fun ride from your Cubbies. (Thanks in no small part to the five former Orioles on your pitching staff.)
This is fantastic stuff. (Sorry about your Orioles.) I especially love the team photo (they always looked so casual back then), and the cover of the program. Two teammates going 6 for 6 on the same day? You learn something new every day.
Thanks, Bill. But, here’s what I learned today. Box scores often disagree … and, like the instant replay fellas in New York, I’m reversing the call. Based on some new information, I’m going with the re-revisionist history and have written another post based on another box score — which is likely from the “official” scorer — and a letter from outfielder Joe Kelley, both of which indicate that Keeler went 4-for-5. Still, what a game!
I just read your follow-up. Excellent research. Apparently, history really is often a lie agreed upon. Or in this case, disagreed upon.
Thanks, Bill. I always appreciate your kind words, because you do such great research. I read a paper recently that explained why once a “legend” is set, it’s impossible to change peoples’ beliefs, no matter what the truth is. So, I guess Willie Keeler gets to keep his 6-for-6. What fascinated me the most, though, was that Joe Kelley’s letter clearly referred to him as “Billie” Keeler. Now I have to get to the bottom of that! :)
Mired, they are.
This is the harshest write-up on your beloved O’s I’ve seen from you. The season must really be getting to you. Why, it’s as if your summer days have been marked by one lost ice cream after the other. Just think how good they are going to be next year.
Next time you tune in to cheer for your team, you and yours might try one of those Bartholomay’s. I see that they are bottled for family use.
I haven’t given up hope yet. (Well, I’m pretty close.) I’m well-acquainted with miserable seasons. As long as they continue to play hard, they still get my baseball love.
Wasn’t that beer ad cool? Makes me thirsty! :)
a family brew
I’m not sure I like your tone when you talk about the Cardinals, young lady! Lol. Even though your team may blow, be grateful that you don’t have to go through the grind and potential heartbreak of a playoff series loss. It can be very draining. Of course, when they win, it’s pretty great.
You are not making me feel better.
The BlueJays are the sexy pick to win it all….but jeeeeezus they look really good.
If it comes down to the Blue Jays in the Series, I’m afraid I’ll have to jump to the National League. I just can’t cheer for the Blue Jays.
Pingback: “The Official Table of the Slaughter” | The Baseball Bloggess