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Late April Reflections on Baltimore Orioles and Columbia Lions

Readers of this blog will know that I am passionate about one pro team the Baltimore Orioles and the teams of my two alma maters Columbia and Wisconsin esp. baseball and basketball. (It remains maddening that Wisconsin gave up baseball in the late 1980s and remains the only Big Ten (or Big Fourteen) school without a baseball team. And no real hope that situation will change in the foreseeable future.)

The Orioles started 2016 with seven wins in a row - a team record for the early going and the first 7-game winning streak for my Birds in many years. They have come down to earth now with an 11-6 record, but they still lead the AL East by three games in loss column over the Red Sox with the Blue Jays beginning to make some noises.

Though under .500, the Rays and Yankees should not be counted out because they have the pitching to compete (though the Yankee starters have been inconsistent so far and their bats largely missing in action).

I still feel that the only possible runaway team in MLB this year could be the Cubs - 14-5 as I post this blog. But the Pirates and Cardinals will have something to say about that.

We must wait until the end of May before any real assessment of the season can begin. And even that milepost doesn't mean as much anymore because major additions to rosters can be made via trades until July 31.

On the college scene, Columbia basketball celebrated its winningest season ever with a farewell banquet to its four remarkable seniors and coach Kyle Smith who is heading back to the west coast as head coach of the U of San Francisco Dons, coached at one time by Phil Woolpert and Pete Newell and alma mater of Bill Russell and KC Jones.

Senior forwards Isaac Cohen and Alex Rosenberg and guards Maado Lo and Grant Mullins
all spoke with humor and emotion at the banquet last week. Lo and Mullins are likely to continue their careers next year - the quick sharp-shooting Lo with a chance for the NBA and Mullins with one year of eligibility left because a concussion kept him idle for over a year.

Meanwhile, Columbia's chance for an unprecedented baseball four-peat in the Ivy League is hanging by a thread. They will need a lot of help from Cornell who will play division leader Princeton four times this weekend while Columbia ends the regular season with two at Penn on Friday and two at home on Saturday.

The Lions at least kept Princeton from celebrating on Columbia's Satow Stadium at Robertson Field this weekend. They won three out of four despite the presence of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie whose son Andrew is a senior catcher for the Tigers.
Princeton still leads Penn by one game and Columbia by three with four to go.

I must end on a melancholy note. Columbia and a remarkably wide swath of America are mourning the passing of Bill Campbell, 75, who succumbed to a long battle with cancer last week. He was a Columbia football captain - class of 1962, and a former Columbia football coach who moved to Silicon Valley to become a major player in the computer industry.

No Columbia athlete will ever Campbell's #67 again. And that number is now painted on the baseball field and of course will be on prominent display in the fall on Robert Kraft Field at Lawrence Wien Stadium at the Baker Field complex.

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

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Orioles Win Sixth Straight As Pundits Must Be Puzzled

Orioles just won a Fenway Park classic 9-7, spoiling the Red Sox April 11 home opener.
Chris Davis's mammoth two-out three-run homer to dead center off Red Sox expensive new closer Craig Kimbrel provided winning margin in top of 9th.

Mookie Betts homered to lead off bottom of 9th off O's closer Zack Britton and Bosox got the tying runs on with none out. But a great 4-6-3 DP started by Jonathan Schoop and strikeout of Hanley Ramirez cemented the O's sixth win in a row to start season.
The pundits who saw the O's as a sub-.500 team must be at their computers now coming up with explanations for this aberration.

One doesn't win a pennant in April but you can dig yourself a big hole by losing in April. The Minnesota Twins are facing that climb. Amazing how streaks can start and end suddenly. Orioles lost 7 in a row to Minnesota last year who essentially knocked them out of pennant race in mid-August. This year the Birds swept them to begin the season.

American League East looks like another dogfight all season so nice to start building up a little lead. If Orioles starting pitching goes deeper into games (Yankees have the same need), they could have a lot of fun in 2016.

And let's hear it for backup catcher Caleb Joseph who started both big rallies today for Birds - the five-run third against another Red Sox big ticket acquisition David Price punctuated by a Mark Trumbo 3-run homer, and the ninth inning rally that ended with Davis's mammoth shot. Earl Weaver is smiling somewhere tonight in Baseball Heaven or more likely in a very liquid passionate Baseball Hades.

Caleb Joseph is what Oriole baseball is all about. He toiled in the minor leagues for almost 10 seasons, living in the clubhouse in double-A at times. Hard not to root for a guy like that.

FINAL NOTE: I hope you can see Part I of the Ken Burns Jackie Robinson documentary. It airs on PBS tonight Mon Apr 11 with Part II on Tues Apr 12. There are three cuts of me in Part I talking about Branch Rickey's role in Robinson's emergence.

Thanks for your time this time until next time, this is Lee Low' (aka Teny Ymota) reminding you to Take It Easy But Take It.

PS Teny Ymota stands for The Earl of NY Your Man On The Aisle.
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