For the past 11 hours, I’ve been contemplating the Orioles’ mortality. Not looking good for Buck’s boys, after the bullpen blew a lead for the third straight night in Arizona, dropping Baltimore to six games behind Boston in the AL East and 2.5 behind the second wild-card spot. Three straight walk-off losses? Man, now I know how Rocky felt in that first Clubber Lang fight.
We’re about to hit a very exciting stretch for baseball fans. Division games as far as the eye can see. Cooler weather. Feistier crowds. Bigger stakes. “Baseball with sleeves” is what I like to call it, and it deserves at least one day in the spotlight in this week’s blog.
So here goes, five Baseball with Sleeves thoughts for Thursday:
1. I’m wondering if the Yankees aren’t still in this thing. They’ve won four in a row and are 62-57 — five games back of the second wildcard. There are three other teams (KC, Cleveland and Baltimore) ahead of them in that hunt, but they’re healthier than they’ve been all year, and Alfonso Soriano is playing like he’s 26 again. Keep an eye on ‘em.
2. The Pirates ought to be everybody’s second-favorite team right now, the sentimental choice should your team fail to make the playoffs. After teasing their fans with strong starts for two straight years, they look like they’re going to close the deal this time. They beat the Cardinals handily last night to move to three games up in the NL Central.
3. Can anybody stop the Dodgers? After rallying for two in the ninth and one in the 12th to beat the Mets last night, L.A. improved to 40-8 since July 8. Ridiculous.
4. See Secretariat run. Atlanta is a whopping 14 games ahead of second-place Washington in the NL East, despite the Nats having won five in a row. The Braves’ division dominance isn’t unprecedented — the 1995 Cleveland Indians finished 30 games ahead of second-place KC — but it’s pretty incredible.
5. Revisiting the preseason over-unders for wins, it’s interesting to see the biggest over- and underachievers. The Indians (currently 65-56) were set at 78. Toronto (55-65) was set at 89. Angels (53-66)? 92! And hey, the Orioles (65-55) were set at 78.5 and are on pace to win 88. Time to put on those sleeves and see if Rocky has anything for Clubber in the rematch.
-The Hokies will play Penn State in 2022 and ’23. Says AD Jim Weaver: “We do want to play a schedule that has strengths in it if we’re fortunate enough to be a good ballclub. We don’t want to be left out of the mix because we haven’t done a good enough job non-conference-wise.”
-Former UVa quarterback Michael Rocco says he isn’t second-guessing his decision to leave UVa. “I’ve kind of been through everything a quarterback can see,” he says.
-Auburn High has not won a football game since the 2009 season opener — a run of 39 consecutive defeats. Again, some perspective for those three straight walk-off losses.
NAME THAT TUNE
You come from Georgia where the peaches grow
They drink lemonade and speak real slow
You love hip hop and rock n roll
Dad took off when you were 4 years old
There was a good man named Paul Revere
I feel much better baby when you’re near
You love Fun Dip and Cherry Coke,
I like the way you laugh when I tell a joke
When I met you I said my name was Rich
You look like a girl from Abercrombie and Fitch…