IMAGINE FOR A SECOND THAT YOU’RE FORMER HOKIE JOE SAUNDERS. It’s been a pretty good life so far. You had a great career pitching at Virginia Tech, became a first round draft pick and, at age 31, have earned more than $16 million playing baseball.
And tonight, you can become the toast of an entire city.
IT SAYS SOMETHING ABOUT THE REMARKABLE NATURE OF THIS ORIOLES SEASON that Saunders, a guy who was acquired August 26 for a so-so reliever (Matt Lindstrom) and a player to be named later, is pitching the most important game of the year tonight against Texas. On paper, this matchup stinks for Baltimore. Saunders is a fly ball pitcher. The Rangers have hit 200 homers — fourth-most in the AL. Saunders has a 6.48 ERA in 11 career starts against the Rangers, including a 9.38 mark in six games in Arlington.
Then again, paper’s meant nothing this year.
MY PAL WES MCELROY, A RADIO HOST IN RICHMOND, ASKED ME AN INTERESTING QUESTION IN EARLY SEPTEMBER. Knowing that I grew up an Orioles fan, and with the Orioles looking like they were going to stick in the race for the duration, Wes asked me what Baltimore would have to do for me to be satisfied with this season.
“Are you kidding?” I replied. “They’ve already done it!”
Yes, meaningful games in August are all I’d wanted for some time now. These O’s not only did that, but they delivered meaningful games in September and made the postseason. This team has provided indelible memories and countless hours of entertainment. I’m truly happy regardless.
So let’s revise the hopes. The one thing I really want to see is Charm City decked out in orange, roaring for every pitch, like only the postseason can do (unless we’re talking about San Francisco Giants fans; those people roar from game 1-162; impressive). To get there, the O’s will have to win tonight as a 2-to-1 underdog against a pitcher (Yu Darvish) who closed the regular season with eight straight quality starts.
Best of luck, Hokie Joe.
-I’ve been going back and forth on this game. Kind of hard to pick against Atlanta starter Kris Medlen, who hasn’t lost since May 26. Then again, Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse went 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA and is one of the most laid-back dudes in the game. Braves are an 8-to-5 favorite; this feels like a coin flip to me. Game starts at 5 p.m. on TBS, with O’s-Rangers to follow.
-Here are Robert’s predictions on tonight’s high school games.
-Here’s Robert’s feature on Glenvar quarterback Levi Mullins.
-Tech running back Tony Gregory is listed as doubtful for tomorrow’s game at UNC. We’ll have the live blog here as usual.
-Red Sox fire Bobby Valentine.
-NHL cancels two weeks of season because of lockout.
-Miami AD Shan Eichorst resigns to take the same role at Nebraska. Blake James will be acting AD.
-Rams beat the Cardinals in the Thursday nighter.
-No. 13 USC rallies to beat Utah, 38-28.
-Tonight’s games are Pitt-Syracuse (7 p.m., ESPN) and Utah State-BYU (10:15 p.m., ESPN).
NAME THAT TUNE
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can’t we give love that one more chance?
Why can’t we give love give love give love give love
give love give love give love give love give love
‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And loves dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves…