“Ain’t Baseball Great?”

The Baltimore Orioles have used the same insipid tagline on their television commercials for years now. (I want to say 60 years, but, well, at least the last couple seasons.)

“Ain’t Baseball Great?”

Today, with the Orioles five games under .500 and in last place in the AL East, every time that stupid, tired, old commercial, with its obnoxiously cheery, “Ain’t Baseball Great?” comes on … even if I’m not paying attention, even if I’m in the other room, even if I’m half asleep, I answer. Because only a shmoo doesn’t answer when someone asks them a question.

“Ain’t Baseball Great?”

“Ain’t it?”

For God’s sake, stop torturing me.

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Fan-Tastic

“At the ballpark or even in front of the television, fans are, for the interlude of a few hours, different from whom they are in everyday life. … In the drama that is a baseball game the fan imagines himself not a spectator but a participant, as if the fervor of his rooting will have a bearing on the outcome.” ~ John Thorn, Official Historian of Major League Baseball

Sometime in the 1880s or so, newspapers started to mention baseball “fans” and “cranks” and “rooters.” Before that, who knows what they called the men (and they were mostly men) who would sit and watch the other men (and they were mostly men, too) play baseball.

Ty Cobb unkindly called fans “bugs,” but he didn’t have a good word to say about anyone.

Umpires might argue that today’s fans can be rowdy at times, but all in all, fans are a pretty good bunch.

We’re certainly nowhere near as rowdy as our grandparents and great- and great-great grandparents who went to games and shoved their way onto the outfield, or, if the weather was hot, would bully players out of their dugouts and take over the benches in the shade.

rowdies

— SDN-006846, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum. (1908)

 Police hold back the rowdies at Chicago’s South Side Park on April 14, 1908. The White Sox will defeat the Detroit Tigers 15-8. (And, look at that trash!)

Cranks would fight with other fans, the umpires, and the players. They would throw bricks. Today, I pack my scorecard, maybe some peanuts. Back then, fans would pack bricks and guns, along with their sandwiches and moonshine.

Players would climb into the grandstands and beat up heckling fans. Fans would jump onto the field and clobber a player or ump.

Games were forfeited because fans were jerks.

Ahh, the good old days.

I have been known to complain at games if the person next to me is bogarting my cup holder. (Yours is on the right, Bozo.) Back then, I’d have been lucky to get through the game without losing an eye.

I recently asked a policeman at Oriole Park at Camden Yards what the hardest part of his job was and he said catching the underage drinkers who all sit together in the upper deck on student nights. (Yes, fans today are so well-behaved even the bad ones cooperate by sitting together.)  Other than that, he said, he got paid really well to walk around for a few hours, maintaining the peace and watching the game.

So sure, a few bad fan eggs. But, without us there would be no baseball.  We are the 10th player. We pay the salaries. We are irreplaceable.

That’s why teams have Fan Appreciation Days and lavish gifts on us to lure us to the park – caps and shirts and seat cushions. Bobbleheads that are supposed to look like certain players, but usually don’t.  Garden gnomes that are supposed to look like certain players and sometimes actually do.

Sure, it’s cheap crap, but fans will line up for hours – HOURS – to get our swag.

nick bobblehead

Nick Markakis Bobblehead? Horrible. Did Helen Keller design this?  Socks down! Socks down!

wilson gnome

Wilson Photo: by CBL 62, via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 (2011)

Brian Wilson Garden Gnome? Awesome.

Every baseball fan is a great fan.  Even if you don’t know a balk from a walk, and can’t name your team’s starting pitchers, you’re still all right in my book.

But, some are just a tiny bit all righter. Here are three of them.

On Friday night, the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Seattle Mariners 2-1 in 10 innings. These fans were at Seattle’s Safeco Field.

1) Happy Homer.

cruz homer

Who cares if your team just gave up a go-ahead run, you just caught the freaking home run ball!  Good for you, happy Mariners’ fan.  Your team will lose because of that run, but at least you didn’t spill your beer.

(For the record, if you catch a home run ball, keep it. Even if it was hit by the opposition. You may think you’re some hero by throwing it back on the field in disgust, but really, we just think you’re stupid.)

Watch here.

2) One of these fans is not like the others.

oriole fan

This Orioles fan sat in a sea of Mariners on Friday night.

Editor/Husband thinks the guy lost a bet. I think he’s just a very good fan. Sure, he kind of looks uncomfortable and maybe just a little sad. But, at least he didn’t have to worry about being hit on the head with a brick.

Watch here.

3) Rally Kid

rally kid2

First off, there’s that napkin. The rally napkin. If you don’t have a ball cap to twist or turn to spur your team’s late-inning rally, then you get creative. This kid stuck a napkin on his head. Because, hey, why not?

Well, whatever it was, it didn’t work. Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano – the would-be tying run – was called out to end the game after a challenge.

The rally napkin folded like a … a … a napkin.

Ten innings that kid sat through. The tying run is on first and then, suddenly, he is gone. His team has lost.  He is not happy. I love him. I could watch him all day. (He comes at the 1:52 minute mark. He’s worth the wait.)

Watch here.

Don’t worry kid, there’s always tomorrow.

_______________

Not done yet. Here’s Fan-Tastic, Part 2 ~ Unruly Fans/Ruly Fans. Click here.

 

Don’t Skip The Commercials

“I used to play sports. Then I realized you can buy trophies. Now I’m good at everything.” ~ Demetri Martin

The Baltimore Orioles look like the guys who might deliver a truckload of mulch to your house.

(Did you know that people have truckloads of mulch delivered to their houses? Truckloads. I didn’t know someone would need that much mulch, but apparently there are mulch-mad people out there. I have no idea what you do with mulch. Seriously, I know nothing about mulch.)

The O’s look like the guys who will change the oil in your car, put the gravel on your driveway and push the snow off of it. Ordinary guys.

No crazy, mountain-man beards. (Not allowed.)

No dreadlocks. (Also, not allowed, which was, I’m sure, shear sadness for Jemile Weeks who joined the club fully dreaded in December, but is now the undread.)

No mustaches. (Unless they are “neat.” Yes, that’s the Orioles’ rule. Neatness counts, fellas.)

snidely whiplash

Neat? Not Neat? Close call.

So, no wacky allowed in Birdland. No wacky at all.

I like a little wacky and I know you do, too. (I’ve gotten to know my readers – both of you – and I’ve checked your Facebook pages. I know how you appreciate a healthy dose of irreverence, bad puns, and third-grade potty humor:  What’s the difference between mashed potatoes and pea soup? Anyone can mash potatoes. Really?  Really?)

But, back to the Orioles.

I appreciate Baltimore’s working guy thing. I like that the sports world gives the Orioles no chance … no chance … to do anything in the AL East this season.

As the Orioles will tell you (when they’re not tidying up their mustaches and memorizing the dress code), they like this fly-under-the-radar thing.

No expectations in April will, of course, make their almost-assured World Series championship in October that much sweeter.

Closer Grant Balfour was nearly-almost-thisridiculouslyclose to signing with the Orioles in December. Then, he failed his physical and the deal was off.  But really, I think the deal was off when the Orioles discovered he drove this …

balfour truck

That is not a workingman truck. (And, good luck parking that in Tampa.)

But, back to the Orioles.

They are allowed neatly groomed mustaches, they have a ping-pong table, and on super hot days they get to wear shorts for batting practice.

Other than that, they keep the crazy locked down tight in the clubhouse.

You won’t see any goofy television commercials from Birdland.

(Let’s not blame the team. Let’s blame the team’s PR firm.)

So, check out some new sweet, sassy ads from other teams.

Here’s Minnesota Twins’ legend Kent Hrbek giving playing tips to Joe Mauer.

hrbek1

This Twins’ commercial has a back story. Click here. (Gant was safe, by the way.)

Here are two from the Oakland A’s

The Home Run Tunnel

homerun tunnel

(That’s University of Virginia alum Sean Doolittle with the beard.)

Josh Donaldson’s “Tarp Therapy”

tarp therapy

From the Seattle Mariners

Kyle Seager is Old School

kyle seager

And, Felix Hernandez is King.

king felix

And, from the San Francisco Giants

Mi Amor from Sergio Romo and Buster Posey

buster sergio

The Two Brandons (Belt and Crawford)

brandon2

“New Guy” Michael Morse

mike morse

The Giants, overachievers that they are, have a bunch more and you can see them all here.

But, back to the Orioles.

They picked up a lot of talent in the off-season. Acting chops, too. Who knew?

Here’s the Orioles’ newest starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez when he was with the Colorado Rockies in 2011.

ubaldo

And, here’s the Orioles’ newest home run smoosher Nelson Cruz when he was with the Texas Rangers in an ad for a video game in 2010.

nelson cruz

Just two days ’til Opening Day …