There's still a lot to like about the woeful Orioles

May 26, 2010|By Kevin Cowherd

Tired of reading nothing but gloom and doom about the Orioles?

Join the club — I'm tired of writing it.

So today we put on our best smiley face and present 10 good reasons to still care about this team:

Camden Yards. It's still a baseball cathedral. Still the best place to watch a ballgame, even when the home team stinks.

Even with that big, ugly Hilton hotel looming beyond left field, the skyline is enchanting at night.

And there's plenty of room to spread out. You can have your own row. On some nights, you can have your own section. The upper deck is often so empty, you could hang laundry.

The ballpark's no-Taser policy. Have a few Budweisers swishing around in your gut? Feeling a little stupid? Thinking of hopping the wall and running on the field like a jackass during the game?

Well, guess what? You can still do it at the Yards without getting a jolt of electrical current and dropping face-first to the ground with your limbs twitching.

Sure, the police might knock you around a little, especially if you make them chase you. But not having to worry about Taser's vaunted "neuromuscular incapacitation" while running from some beefy cop? Priceless.

Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer. The MASN TV guys are still great company during a game — even a bad game.

Thorne, a total pro, remains anything but a "house" man. When Julio Lugo failed to run out a ground ball earlier this season, Thorne was practically apoplectic, calling for Orioles manager Dave Trembley to bench Lugo on the spot.

And listening to Palmer talk pitching is like hearing a nightly dissertation on the subject. The big lug won me over years ago with his great line about Earl Weaver: "The only thing Earl knew about pitching was that he couldn't hit it."

Luke Scott's homers. The designated hitter hits some jaw-droppers. They leave the yard in a hurry. They go far.

And the sound they produce — the crack of a 95-mph fastball meeting maple or ash — is like no other. Too bad he's such a streaky hitter. If he hit such prodigious shots night after night, they would name a candy bar after him.

Ty Wigginton's steadiness. He's not flashy. He's an accident waiting to happen in the field. But all he has done is carry the Orioles' offense.

Going into Wednesday night's game, he was batting .290 with a team-leading 13 homers and 32 RBIs. That's right up there with the league leaders.

And he doesn't, um, overanalyze. I asked him the other day whether he's off to the best start of his career.

"I don't know," he said. "I don't think about it. I just go out and play."

I haven't been able to say that since I was 6 years old.

Kevin Millwood's stoicism. There should be a sign over his locker that says: "Welcome to baseball hell."

Millwood, the Orioles' best pitcher, is 0-4 with a 3.71 ERA. He has pitched a team-high 68 innings. He has struck out a team-high 56 batters. But the guy has no luck. When he pitches, the Orioles don't hit. They don't play defense. They fail to tag up on long fly balls.

But instead of kicking over the post-game spread after every outing, he shrugs and endures. And never complains.

Whatever he's on, I want to be on it, too.

Superstars on opposing teams. Even if you can't stomach the way the Orioles have been playing, it's fun to watch the players they face: Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria on the Rays. "Big Papi" Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Jonathan Papelbon on the Red Sox. A-Rod, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira on the Yankees.

What's more fun than booing Teixeira for spurning the Orioles for the bright lights of New York?

Sure, it's narrow-minded and parochial. But it's a good kind of narrow-minded and parochial.

Wacky promotions. Here's my favorite: Wednesday night was Nolan Reimold Mini Bobblehead Night at the Yards.

Except Reimold himself no longer plays for the Orioles. He has been demoted to their Triple-A affiliate, the Norfolk Tides.

"So what?" the Orioles said. When you're a struggling fifth-place team with 10,000 Reimold bobbleheads lying around a dusty warehouse, by God, you schedule a night and give 'em away.

Even if the inspiration for that bobblehead now plays 235 miles to the south.

It beats sitting in traffic on I-295 South to get to a Washington Nationals game.

What else are you going to follow, Ravens minicamp? To see who's got the edge to be the backup offensive tackle?

It's baseball season, people.

Let's try to remember that.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

Listen to Kevin Cowherd from 4 p.m. to 6p.m. Tuesdays with Jerry Coleman on Fox 1370 AM Sports.

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