Team hoping this Sunday beginning of a new day

July 27, 2008|By RICK MAESE

Is today the day?

Usually, your Sunday morning anticipation revolves around the crossword puzzle, political talk shows, perhaps brunch plans or counting down the days until Week 1 of the NFL season. Maybe even snagging an extra thimble of wine at morning service.

But not this summer. Not in Baltimore.

We wake up once a week wondering whether this is finally the Sunday - oh, cursed Sabbath - the Orioles can finally post a win. It's the most curious and inexplicable stat, fact or truth of the baseball season.

On April 6, that first Sunday of the baseball season, Luis Hernandez rapped a walk-off single to beat the Mariners. Every Sunday since, without fail (or without success, I suppose), the Orioles have lost. Trounced by the Yankees. Nipped by the Nats. Rocked by the Rays.

And walloped mightily every seven days by the calendar.

Entering this afternoon's contest with the Angels, the tally of Sunday losses stands at 15.

But could today be the day?

You know the old song "Never on Sunday," which appeared in the movie by the same title and even won an Academy Award in 1960. Let's sing along:

O's can beat 'em on a Wednesday, a Thursday, a Friday

and Saturday is best

But never ever on a Sunday, a Sunday, a Sunday

'cause that's their day of rest.

A televangelist banished to public access has better Sunday luck. A loss today will make the Orioles worse than the 2007 Miami Dolphins.

In Alabama, it's illegal to play dominoes on Sunday (no joke). In Baltimore, it's impossible to play winning baseball (sadly, also not a joke).

The Orioles have already set a modern-day mark for most consecutive Sunday losses. The all-time mark, though, belongs to their great-grandfathers. The St. Louis Browns dropped 17 straight in 1898.

With a loss this afternoon, the Orioles could tie that mark next weekend in Seattle.

Is it late Saturday nights out on the town? Or the early Sunday mornings in the prayer circle? Or just the long confounding afternoons on the diamond?

There's no way to explain it. And yet, here it is again, the Sunday suffering, like clockwork. Kind of like the popularity of Carlos Mencia, you just can't figure it out.

The Orioles took the Pirates into the 10th inning June 15 and the Nationals into the 12th June 29. They've lost five of their past seven by just one run, including a 2-1 heartbreaker at Boston on July 13.

If Sunday games didn't exist, we'd be talking about a 47-40 ball club, a .540 winning percentage. Not bad.

But instead, we're left singing in sorrow and inquiring in frustration:

Could today be the day?

Oh, they can beat 'em on a cool day, a hot day, a wet day,

whichever one you choose

They'll get you on a gray day, a May day, a payday

but on Sundays they always lose.

The Orioles have lost 14 of 18. With the dog days around the corner, they need to get the week off to a good start.

Today on the mound, Garrett Olson will drag his 6.11 ERA into a Sunday battle against the Angels' Ervin Santana, he of the 11-4 record and 3.37 ERA. Though that might not seem to bode especially well for the home team, let's consider this: Not only has Santana never beaten the Orioles, but Olson has never lost to the Angels.

(Technically speaking, Santana has never pitched against the Orioles, nor has Olson faced the Angels, but do we really want to speak technically? It's been 15 losses in a row!)

There's no reasoning out a win, just as there's no logic to the string of losses. This team needs intervention, the divine variety or perhaps otherwise. Remember, there used to be a city law that prevented sporting events in Baltimore from starting before early afternoon on Sundays. Where are our city leaders in this current time of crisis? Where is the resolution that prevents any baseball from being played on Sundays? At least April through August.

Our only recourse is knowing that someday soon - football season? - there is bound to be a Sunday victory. We just don't know when. Will it be next week? Next month?

Or is today finally the day?

If visiting teams are here on a bleak day, a freak day or a weekday

Well let 'em be our guest

But never ever on a Sunday, a Sunday, the one day

The O's just never seem to impress.

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