Who said that yesterday was supposed to be an off day? Regardless of whether or not there’s actually a game, there’s always something going on behind the seams for the Orioles. First off, they had optioned Miguel Socolovich after yesterday’s game. They re-acquired lefty reliever J.C. Romero from the Cleveland Indians (in exchange for Norfolk infielder Carlos Rojas). Romero had been a part of the organization at Norfolk, but opted out of his contract when he wasn’t going to be sent to the majors. So he’s the corresponding roster move for Socolovich. The O’s are also sending LHP Troy Patton to the DL after he reportedly rolled his ankle last night. I know what your follow-up question will be, and I have nothing…no clue how he rolled his ankle.
Tonight the Birds will return to the field to open up a three-game set with the BoSox at Camden Yards. So far as I’m concerned, this begins a stretch run for the Birds which will culminate in the first few days of October in Tampa. Boston’s been reeling all season, their clubhouse is in disarray, much of their roster is injured, and some say that their manager is in danger of being terminated. Yet, they’re still the Boston Red Sox that have won two World Series’ in the last eight years. Thus, they’re still worthy of the respect of the Orioles and Orioles’ fans. People might not want to hear that, however respect is part of the very fabric of baseball.
Having said that, Orioles’ fans shouldn’t respect them to the point that they forget the recent history between the two teams. Speaking of 2004, I can remember attending a Saturday night game with some friends on the final weekend of the season at Camden Yards that happened to be against Boston. The Orioles were going home at the end of the season, and Boston would go on to win the World Series under first year manager Terry Francona. Out of the 40K plus in attendance that night, I might have been one of about 8,000 people rooting for the O’s. Without a doubt, seeing so many Boston fans in Baltimore’s crown jewel of a ballpark hurt me about as deeply as one can be hurt. And the worst part was that they weren’t shy about rubbing in the fact that they were the majority that night; this is a story we’ve seen over and over and time after time since then. And the worst part? Boston always seemed to rise to the occasion against the Orioles, and like their fans they weren’t shy about letting the Orioles know. How can we forget the Mother’s Day Massacre in 2007, numerous other comebacks, and of course Manny Ramirez moonlighting for “his fans” after hitting his 500th homer at the yard?
Boston is a team that’s struggled thus far this year, evidenced by the number of their fans that have come to Camden Yards and to other parks around the league. This time around, it’s the O’s that are fighting for the playoffs. While Boston is on the outer fringes of being in contention, they still haven’t been dealt that knockout blow. Ironically, I saw on a posting on a Boston message board that Boston fans feel they owe the Orioles some payback for last year. In other words, they’d love to spoil the Orioles’ chances at the playoffs this week.
First off, one game or one series isn’t going to throw the Orioles for a loop like they did to Boston last year. This series doesn’t feature any elimination games. However the Orioles could deal that knockout blow to a Boston team that comes into the series at 11.5 games out of first place. They’ll start the series off with Josh Beckett on the mound, who’s posted a 5.91 ERA in his last five starts against the Orioles. Wei-Yin Chen will throw for the O’s, who’s coming off of a bit of a clunker last Thursday against Kansas City. But thus far this season, Chen’s usually bounced back after poor outings.
I suppose my point is that Boston and the Orioles might well be two franchises that once again have their immediate futures juxtaposed together. That’s not to say that one specific outcome or the other will set the tone for the next five years, however with this series the Orioles will head into a murderer’s row of opponents coming up in Detroit and Texas (both on the road). That makes this series with Boston all the more important, as Detroit and Texas probably represent much stiffer competition.
Incidentally, I mentioned one of my favorite literary terms above: juxtaposition. I first learned that concept in my junior year of high school when we studied Shakespeare. Shakespearean plays of course are famous for their concept of double-entendre. So with that said, my junior year in high school was the autumn of 1997…the last time that the Orioles were in the playoffs.