Davis brings light to dark evening

MIKE LITTWIN

May 20, 1992|By MIKE LITTWIN

Panic was setting in, and not just because some lights went out at Camden Yards.

The real concern was that the lights might be going out on the Orioles, who seemed to be on their way to a third consecutive loss.

The Orioles were playing the Oakland A's, who are looking a lot like the old Oakland A's, who looked a lot more like a contender than, say, the home team.

And then, as 45,799 looked on, Gentle Glenn Davis knocked the ball out of the park, and everything changed.

Oh, the Orioles still lost. But after the homer, it seemed more relevant to point out that the Orioles remained in first place despite the defeat.

And it became easier to suggest that they could possibly, with a number of breaks, stay that way for a while.

Imagine a healthy Davis.

OK, you can't do it, can you? No one in these parts has ever seen a healthy Davis. It's easier to imagine Jose Canseco getting a standing O at Camden Yards. It's easier to imagine a semi-lit stadium.

But guess what we saw last night. In one at-bat, Davis hit a ball that was hit deep, deep into the seats just to the wrong side of the left-field foul pole. And in another at-bat, he simply hit one deep that was driven out of the ballpark on a night when the air was a little heavy and the ball wasn't carrying. But it didn't matter. It never used to for a guy who hit 30-plus homers every year playing half his games in the cavernous Astrodome.

It was Davis' first home run of the year. That's a shocking statistic. The Orioles are in first place and Glenn Davis has one home run. He showed the famous bat speed, and the ball looked like a rocket.

Today, Davis is expected to make his first start at first base since coming back from the strained rib-cage muscle that knocked him out of the season in Game 2.

Maybe, he's finally healthy. The question is whether his problem has been more frustrating for him or for the Orioles. Maybe that won't matter anymore. Maybe, finally, at last, we'll get to see what all the fuss was about when the Orioles got Davis from Houston.

Imagine.

Can you?

Anything is possible. Or maybe you missed the brownout.

As one bank of lights went out -- with a giant poof, like from one of those old-timey cameras with the blinding flash -- some questions leapt to mind:

Does the ballpark come with a warranty?

If so, did Eli Jacobs send in that little white card?

There was no immediate word as to the cause of the outage, but there were some guesses, most of them involving the smoke from Boog's barbecue.

One theory had it that the Orioles planned an intermission in order to sell a few more beers.

Someone suggested BG&E wasn't quite as forgiving with the light bill as the city was with the rent.

Whatever the cause, the ballpark was home to an angry mob of yuppies when the teams retired to their respective clubhouses. I didn't see it myself, but I was told that canapes were raining down from the skyboxes onto the field.

They played "Dancing in the Dark" to soothe the crowd, but then they came back with "The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia," one of the five worst songs of the modern era, and it was a good thing the lights came back on or it really might have gotten ugly.

Actually, it did get ugly. An inning later, the A's knocked Jose Mesa out of the game, and the Orioles were on their way to that third consecutive loss.

What's wrong with the Orioles?

Are you kidding?

Nothing's wrong with the Orioles. For the first time this season, they've had a little rough patch with the starting pitching. It'll happen. How can anyone think anything is wrong with the Orioles when May is more than half gone and the team leads the American League East?

Besides, you can lose the occasional game to the A's. With Mark McGwire back in form, the first-place A's have refashioned their offense back to the point where it's pretty scary for any pitcher to face them. Rick Sutcliffe got three-run homered by McGwire in the series opener. Mesa had it tougher. He walked a few batters, the A's got a few hits that barely found a place to land, and he didn't last the fourth.

Tonight, the Orioles come back with Mike Mussina in the series finale against Bob Welch. It's a semi-big, early-season game for the Orioles, who haven't been swept since those three games in Toronto in the second series of the season.

The Orioles are still trying to prove something to themselves. And Glenn Davis, with some proving to do of his own, may actually be ready to join them in the effort.

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