Notes and observations (beating the Yankees, great atmosphere, Roberts)

July 01, 2013|By Dan Connolly | The Baltimore Sun

So how long has it been since the Orioles won at least five straight games at home against the New York Yankees?

Well, you have to go back to the Orioles’ 10-game winning streak versus the Bronx Bombers that spanned from 1981 to 1983.

You want some perspective on how long ago that was?

When Orioles manager Buck Showalter was told about it, he said, “I was still playing.”

It’s true. Showalter, now 57, played 89 games for the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate in Nashville and 18 games at Triple-A Columbus in 1983 before ending his playing career.

Another thing about the Orioles sweeping the Yankees: Don’t think it was just Orioles’ fans that were excited.

I went up to center fielder Adam Jones after the game and asked him the significance of the Orioles sweeping the Yankees in a three-game home series for the first time since 2005 -- while Jones was still a minor leaguer in the Seattle Mariners’ organization.

Usually players -- especially Jones -- like to downplay the importance of beating one certain team. All players want to feel like they are on equal footing with their competitors, so they often view those questions as if they are being asked whether they are surprised they actually swept.

But Jones didn’t play that game Sunday.

“Huuuuge to sweep the Yankees. I know they have a lot of players on the DL, but they still have that mystique with them. And they come to play. Girardi is having them boys coming out there to play. So it was a big sweep. We beat two of their big aces,” Jones said. “But to sweep the Yankees? That’s not something you hear a lot. Even throughout baseball, throughout the whole season. It’s a testament to how this team is playing ... And two nights in a row on national TV. You get a little more pub. And we performed as a team. And that’s all you want.”

I’m not sure how it looked on TV, but Camden Yards was rocking this weekend -- especially Saturday and Sunday night. The atmosphere was similar to last September and the playoffs. As a native Baltimoron, I’ve been saying for years: If the baseball team in this town can compete, the fans are going to rekindle their tremendous passion for it -- no matter how well the Ravens do. There is a room in the Baltimore sports fanatic’s heart for both.

And if you don’t believe me, read this tweet from former Baltimore Sun reporter and current ESPN senior baseball writer Buster Olney: “For years, I'd tell friends re: empty seats at Camden Yards that, yes, O's have a passionate following. They were just waiting to be inspired.”

One other thing about the crowd. I must admit it even surprised me a little bit when Brian Roberts came to the plate in the third inning for his first MLB at-bat since April 4 and his first one in Camden Yards in a year (July 1, 2012).

I’ve heard from so many fans in the last year or so about how Roberts and the Orioles need to shake hands and move on -- and yet many in Sunday’s crowd jumped to their feet and give him an ovation. It really was a pretty cool, and pretty genuine, moment between the fans and one of their longtime favorite athletes who hasn’t been able to play much since 2010.

Said Roberts: “My first at-bat was definitely special. For me to be here as long as I have, and go through so many ups and downs, you don’t really know sometimes if people are just tired of you. Or they really want you out there still. I said to somebody that I think my journey people can relate to. Life isn’t always easy. Not many people just have it easy every day. But they want to see you fighting, they want to see you continuing to try and make the best of every day. And that’s what I have tried to do. And I was very appreciative of the support.”

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