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Pre-Labor Day Reflections on Orioles Baseball and "My Life On A Diet"

August 29, 2018

Tags: Orioles' first sweep of 2018, Trey Mancini, Josh Rogers, Bart Giamatti, Cyclones and Yankees, Renee Taylor's "My Life On A Diet"

The Orioles just completed a three-game sweep at home against the Toronto Blue Jays. It was nice payback for the two sweeps they endured at the hands of the Jays in Canada earlier this year.

The Orioles won convincingly 7-0, 12-5, and 10-5 with second-year slugger Trey Mancini finally get into a good groove. Southpaw Josh Rogers from New Albany, Indiana and the University of Louisville - one of three pitchers obtained from the Yankees in the Zach Britton trade - won the middle game in his MLB debut.

Rogers was supported by his parents, girl friend, and as many as two dozen fans from his home area. Rogers becomes the first Indiana native to make MLB this season. I am happy to add that at least seven from the New York metropolitan area have made The Show so far in 2018.

It was the first three-game sweep of the year for Baltimore who "improved" to 40-94, tying the 1962 Mets for wins with 26 games left to play. The Birds go to Kansas City on the Labor Day weekend, the only other team that has a chance for the number one amateur draft pick next June.

In September the Orioles have a chance to play spoiler against wild card contenders Oakland and Seattle and wind up the season with games against the Red Sox and Yankees followed by the season-ending visit to Camden Yards of the defending World Series champion Houston Astros.

As fall looms on the horizon, any baseball game becomes a special treat for yours truly. Late baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti put in very well when he wrote that just when you need baseball the most, it leaves us. So treasure all those games while they are still here - in the minor and independent leagues as well as The Show.

Of note for those in the NY area, both New York teams in the Short-Season Low A New York-Penn League, the Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets) and Staten Island Yankees - aka Pizza Rats on weekends - are still alive in the playoff hunt. The Cyclones host the Yankees Sa Sept 1 and M Sept 3 (Labor Day at 4p) and the Yankees host the Cyclones on Su Sep 2.

In closing, I want to give a plug for an interesting show I recently saw. You have just a couple more chances to see Renee Taylor's "My Life On A Diet." At 85 this actress/comedienne is a marvel, doing eight one-woman shows a week, 90 minutes without intermission, at St. Clement's Theatre in the church at 423 West 46th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues.

Younger audiences will remember Renee as Fran Drescher's mother on the TV series "The Nanny". Movie buffs will remember her far earlier as Jerry Lewis's assistant
in the movie "The Errand Boy". She talks about these experiences as well as her early and sustained friendship with Barbra Streisand.

I remember her for her work as a manners correspondent on the NBC network show
"That Was The Week That Was" that aired in the early 1960s. She also memorably played Eva Braun opposite Dick Shawn's madcap Hitler impersonation in Mel Brooks' trailblazing film "The Producers".

Unfortunately Renee didn't discuss them in "My Life On A Diet" that was co-written by her late husband actor Joseph Bologna. I guess she could only cover so much of an event-filled and sometimes turbulent life.

I think audiences will like her tales about her life and work as a member of the Actors Studio with fellow students Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando.

"My Life On A Diet," which really isn't about dieting but about how Renee Wexler from the Bronx became a standout performer, runs only through Sunday afternoon Sept 2. I recommend it. Just take those stairs carefully!

That's all for now. Always remember: Take it easy but take it.



The Plot Thickens as Orioles Gain in the Playoff Race

August 27, 2017

Tags: Baltimore Orioles, Doug Fister, Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, Jonathan Schoop, Roberto Alomar, Trey Mancini, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach Britton, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Milwaukee Brewers

“Playing meaningful games in September” is all this baseball fan realistically wants.
Which is why the “outrageous sense of entitlement” of too many Yankee fans rubs me the wrong way, to put it mildly.

And lo and behold it’s possible after this weekend’s sweep of the Red Sox at Fenway that the Orioles might have a meaningful September after all. With 32 games to play, they are at back at .500 with a 65-65 mark.

Now carrying the remaining schedule in my wallet wasn’t such a bad idea after all. They return home for a 10-game home stand against Seattle, Toronto and the Yankees, the first and last teams with very realistic hopes for playoffs themselves.

Sunday’s 2-1 victory for O’s at Boston was the proverbial nail-biter. After outscoring Boston 23-3 in the first two games of the series, I expected a pitcher’s battle and got one.

I was happy that Doug Fister pitched well for Boston because he helped knock the Yankees out of the playoffs a few years ago, earning a special plaudit on our Yankee Elimination Day (YED) caps. It is always a special occasion when the Yankees are eliminated because they brag about their 39 post-season appearances but ignore their twice-as-many failures.

This Sunday August 27, the O’s made two runs in the first stand up against a suddenly slumping Boston offense that left 13 men on base.

My O’s still have many holes on offense and in starting pitching. Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo are not producing at bat but the slack has been picked up by talented second baseman Jonathan Schoop who just broke Roberto Alomar’s Oriole record for most RBI by a second baseman. And rookie Trey Mancini has been a godsend as a run-producer and near -300 hitter while adjusting quite well to his new position of left field.

Of course, any team with wildly inconsistent Ubaldo Jimenez in its rotation has mound issues. And last year’s star closer Zach Britton now has knee issues to go with his earlier forearm ailment.

Nonetheless there is hope in Charm City as the Labor Day weekend nears. A most lovely hopeful feeling that makes the foolish illusion of contention seem less foolish.

One final note on the series in Boston. The Red Sox NESN cable feed utilized former catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia as their color commentator. Though he made an interesting observation about location as a big factor in baserunners stealing signs from second base, he should be forbidden from using the word “great” until the next millennium. He also talked too much and too much of it was trite cheerleading.

Here’s a shout-out to the Milwaukee Brewers who beat the LA Dodgers in a series on the road this past weekend. It was the first series loss for the Dodgers since early June as they have a chance to break a regular season record of 116 wins.

Milwaukee is only two games behind the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs. As someone with strong affinity for the Wisconsin Badgers (I got my master’s and doctoral degrees in American History at Madison in the 1960s), it’s nice to see the Brewers get into the hunt for post-season glory.

That’s all for this time. Always remember: Take it easy but take it!

Pre-75th Birthday Musings on Orioles and Baseball's Wonderful Unpredictability

June 25, 2017

Tags: Dylan Bundy, Donnie Hart, Mychal Givens, Chris Tillman, Evan Longoria, Trey Mancini, Jonathan Schoop, Joey Rickard, Brad Brach, Darren O'Day, Zach Britton AL East and AL Central tight races, Warren Giles

I'm not going to say that the Orioles are back in the AL East race on the basis of two satisfying wins at Tampa Bay on Sat. and Sun. But as a pre-birthday caution to myself,
I have dropped the idea of calling this blog entry "The Return of the Woerioles."

Perhaps from little victories big oaks will grow. Dylan Bundy stepped up on Sat. to pitch seven innings of three run ball - late thunder by the Birds led to a 8-3 win.

The score was not insignificant because Bundy's effort - and the work of relievers Donnie Hart and Mychal Givens - broke an embarrassing string of 20 straight games in which Oriole hurlers had given up five or more runs.

That ugly mark is now an unwelcome American League record and ties the 1924 Phillies for major league mound inefficiency. Those Phillies finished 55-96 and 7th in the National League.

The 2017 Orioles have slumped from first in early May to fourth in the five-team AL East. Yet they will resume play on Tuesday June 27 - my birthday - 37-38, only four games behind the Yankees who all of a sudden have lost 10 out of 12 games. The Red Sox are in a virtual tie with their great Bronx rival but they have sputtered lately too.

Since the Orioles burst into contention in 2012, they have not really had a mound ace, but Chris Tillman, a 9-year veteran, was the closest to it. On Sunday June 25 he showed flashes of his previous form at one point striking out four tough Rays in a row.
But he weakened in the 5th and gave up a three-run homer to personal nemesis Evan Longoria.

The Birds battled back and tied it on solo homers by sensational rookie Trey Mancini and increasingly reliable second baseman Jonathan Schoop. Defensively Schoop belongs on a Mount Rushmore of defenders for the way he stands in on a double play and rifles throws to first base. The former shortstop's range is also impressive.

Rays discard Joey Rickard got the game-deciding hit in the 9th, a double down the left-field line, and Brad Brach picked up a two-inning save. Last year's perfect closer Zach Britton should be back from injury in about 10 days, key veteran Darren O'Day is already back so the Orioles bullpen might become a force again.

IF THE STARTERS PROVIDE LENGTH. Still a big IF.

Only the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals are seeming locks to be in the post-season. I don't know if the late National League president Warren Giles ever
really said that his dream year was for every team to be near .500 come September, but it could be true for the NL Central and most of the American League in 2017.

To give you a sense of the delicious inconsistency in the A.L. - delicious if you are not an ardent Minnesota or Cleveland fan - the defending league champ Indians went into the Twins' Target Field a week ago and swept the Minnesotans and knocked them out of first place. This weekend the Twins turned the tables on the Indians at Progressive Field.

With more than a half-season to play, the best advice to all fans including yours truly is to take deep breaths and realize that the game of baseball is design to confound you. But if you throw strike one and play solid defense (meaning not giving any outs away), you will be in the hunt come September.

That's all for now - always remember: Take it easy but take it!

Some Mid-April Thoughts on Ivy League Baseball, Game Length, and Orioles' Fine Start

April 17, 2017

Tags: Ivy League baseball race, Randell Kanamaru, Kyle Bartelman, Ivy League schedule changes for 2018, "speeding up the game" issues, Orioles so far: Buck Showalter, Zach Britton, Darren O'Day, Mychal Givens, Trey Mancini

Being a secular Jew who does not observe most of his religion's holidays, I had no
guilt pangs about going to a college doubleheader on Easter Sunday yesterday.

My alma mater Columbia salvaged the last game of its four-game series against division rival Cornell thanks in large part to long balls by slugging junior (more…)

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