Friday, June 17, 2016

Baseball as life

Going to get all baseball-centric here for a minute, and even if you don't care for the greatest game ever invented, you probably understand that baseball is a perfect metaphor for life.  Just look at how many baseball terms wound up in our everyday lexicon:

  • out in left field
  • pinch hitter
  • rain check
  • hit it out of the park
  • warming up in the bullpen
  • throwing up in the bullpen
OK, that last one, maybe not.  

But today I am thinking of a ballplayer named Carl Crawford, recently released by the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles (in case anyone confuses them with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.) Crawford came up with the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays and went on to the Boston Red Sox before signing a huge contract with the Dodgers.

He will be on any list of All Time Underachieving Ballplayers for his generally lackadaisical efforts on the diamond, and now I'm reading that he has been involved with a woman who once was married to Chad "Ocho Cinco" Johnson, former football player, and they say that she will probably drive off with most if not all of his money as she leaves him for the next payday. 

So as he sits around in the future, looking back over the glory days, he might recall the night of September 28, 2011, when he stood out in left field as a member of the Red Sox.  And I don't mean that he stood out by dint of his excellent play; I mean that he more or less stood around out there, displaying all the agility and effort of a statue.

In those days, the Orioles were a pretty awful team, populated by once-but-not-anymore greats like Vladimir Guerrero and never-greats like Kyle Hudson and Willie Eyre.  But the base of the now-great team was already forming, with Jones, Weiters, Davis and Hardy on the field in orange and black.  

That was the last game of the season, and it would have been easy for the O's, in fifth place out of five teams in their division, to pack it in early and wait for next year.  But they went into the ninth inning losing 3-2, tied the game on a double by Nolan Reimold and won the game when Robert Andino, a little-known utility player, drove Reimold home with a hit that Crawford didn't quite try hard enough to catch.  I still love seeing the videos of that night because the final game of the 2011 season carried over into the 2012 season, and that's when the Orioles started winning.

Robert Andino.jpg
Robt. Andino
You see, as the Orioles were playing the Red Sox in Baltimore, the Tampa Bay Rays, who had let Crawford go seek his fortune in Beantown, were playing the Yankees in Florida and were losing by 7-0 in the eighth inning. The Sox and the Rays were the last two teams in contention for the wild card spot in the playoffs, and all the Red Sox had to do was beat the Orioles, or hope the Rays lost, to get in. The Rays came back from being seven runs behind to win their game, and, as we have seen, the Red Sox lost, and this is why the Rays went on to the playoffs and the Red Sox went home to sulk.

Those who believe in jinxes and hexes call it The Curse of The Bambino that the Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees and therefore did not win the World Series for dozens of years. Knocking them out in 2011 is still known as The Curse of The Andino around here, and even though Robert is not currently a major-leaguer, he would still get a standing ovation if he showed up here in Baltimore.

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