I'm gonna begin this post with the TCM tips because I just learned that Friday July 28 TCM (Turner Classic Movies cable channel) will air 10 Joe E. Brown films between 1930 and 1936 from 6AM until 8PM.
It will include the baseball trilogy: "Fireman Save My Child" at 845A; "Elmer the Great" at 1130A; and "Alibi Ike" at 215p. The latter two loosely based on Ring Lardner stories with Olivia DeHavilland debuting as Joe E.'s love interest and another genuine baseball nut William Frawley as Brown's manager.
The last Noir Alley until September airs at Sat midnight July 29 (repeated Sun morning at 10A):
"Desperate" (1947) directed by Anthony Mann with Steve Brodie, and Raymond Burr still in very bad guy mold.
Much of Tu Aug 1 will be devoted to early Lucille Balls films including "Easy Living" (1949) with Lucy as
LA Rams owner Lloyd Nolan's secretary and Jack Paar (!) as team publicist and much more.
Wed Aug 2 will be devoted to Anthony Perkins with Hitchcock's "Psycho" at 8P and "Fear Strikes Out" at 1030P with Perkins not really well cast as Jimmy Piersall and Karl Malden as his hard-driving father.
Now that's turn to the meat and potatoes of the 2023 baseball season rising to a boil as August nears.
It's hard to believe that after 100 games of the 2023 MLB season the Orioles were 62-38. They did lose leads in the last two games of a series in Philadelphia so as they prepare to face the Yankees at home the last weeknd of July, they still lead the struggling Tampa Bay Rays by a game and a half and three in the lost column.
Don't look now, but it is conceivable that the three wild cards in the American League could come from the
AL East. Boston is suddenly 8 games over .500 with a powerful lineup and a playoff-hardened manager in Alex Cora (you are allowed to snicker at Cora who was suspended for a year for his role in the sign-stealing scandal while coaching in Houston in 2017).
Preseason favorite Toronto is 11 games over .500 and even the Yankees could make a move with the imminent return of the mega-priced Aaron Judge and big ticket free agent Carlos Rodon already back in the rotation.
Of course, either Texas or Houston would have to slide in the last 60 games, and the Angels with
the miraculous Shohei Ohtani assured of his spot in LA for the rest of 2023 could lead a rousing rush to the post-season.
There is less drama seemingly ahead for the National League. The Cincinnati Reds are clearly the feel-good
in the senior circuit - how easy it is for a lively octogenarian dincosaur like yours truly to lapse into hoary
sportsspeak. The NL is "senior circuit" because it was founded in 1876 while the AL, "born in rebellion" as founding president Ban Johnson liked to say, didn't fully establish itself until 1903.
Sadly, because of the so-called "balanced" schedule that we are stuck with for the foreseeable future, there are now only 13 intra-divisional games instead of 19. The Oriole-Yankee clash this weekend is the last in the regular season. The Reds-Milwaukee Brewers recently-concluded gripping series was their last of the year.
The Atlanta Braves have a double-digit lead in the NL East even while being swept just now at Fenway Park.
The Phillies might be making a move towards the wild card with Bryce Harper back in lineup playing first base
In NL West, Giants surprised a lot of people including me looking like a contender until they fell on the non-contending Washington Nats. Arizona Diamondbacks are in a deep slide that may have started when Tampa Bay rallied to beat them in 9th inning a few weeks ago. Once again the Dodgers look like the team to beat in that division.
Now let's turn to the team I care about the most.
I had a memorable few days in Baltimore last week. Many people think I'm a Baltimore native but I actually only lived there for a few years between 1968 and 1976. But I've been an ardent Oriole fan since 1970.
I must admit the New Yorker in me was happy for the 1969 Mets but I surely understand the pain in Charm City for losing not only that World Series but seven-game classics against the Pirates in 1971 and 1979.
I loved Memorial Stadium with the trees beyond the outfield walls and the row houses beyond that. It was where a winning team was virtually a constant starting in 1960, but I understand why Oriole Park at Camden Yards was built to draw more from the DC area at a time when the baseball famine was acute in the nation's capital. And impatient owner Edward Bennett Williams, the big shot DC lawyer, was threatening to move the whole team down the beltway.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards is now over 30 years old and it remains a great place to see a baseball game.
Last week I saw the last two games of a rare series with the LA Dodgers. I conveniently arranged to speak about my new book on scouting BASEBALL'S ENDANGERED SPECIES at the Babe Ruth Museum and Birthplace before the second game of the series.
The cozy and very informative BRM is located at 416 Emory Street a short walk from Camden Yards on West Camden Street. It is opened most days from 10A to 4P and later when there are night games. Definitely worth a trip on jaunts to Camden Yards. So is the amazing crabcake at Koco's Pub on 430l Harford Road not
far the campus of Morgan State University.
After my talk, I saw a rare rout of the 2023 Orioles by the visiting Dodgers who picked on suddenly-slumping Tyler Wells for 5 runs in the first 2 innings and it was really no-contest from then on.
The evening was saved by being with friends and finding refuge from the typical summer Baltimore heat in lower right field stands that happily reminded me of the great sightlines facing the pitcher at old Memorial Stadium.
The following afternoon, the Birds salvaged the final game of the three-game series against the Dodgers with another one of their come-from-behind victories, 8-5. They actually led 4-2 after one inning and held the lead throughout but not without some tense moments. They simply cannot win a game easily - I guess not in team DNA.
What I'll remember most were the field conditions. The game started almost 45 minutes late because a freak rain storm during the night left the uncovered field a mess. But chief groundskeeper Nicole Sherry and her acclaimed staff worked feverishly to straighten things out.
I had great seats two rows from the field along the first base line. It was fun to see Sherry between innings instructing the umps about areas in the infield that must be carefully watched. I also had a marvelous view of LAD first base coach Clayton McCullough whose back pockets were filled with all sorts of goodies for his base runners.
The downpour early in the game that didn't stop the action was a blessing because it was a very hot day with added discomfort from lingering smoke from the Canadian wildfires. What was weird is that it didn't seem to rain in the outfield or upper decks.
The second base range of rookie infielder Jordan Westburg astonished me. It is not lost on me that Westburg, a 24-year-old from Texas who played for college powerhouse Mississippi State, came up to the bigs on June 26, one day before my 81st birthday. Not that I look for emotional connections LOL.
Second base is not even the regular position for the longtime shortstop who insiders think is more suited for other infield slots. it wasn't just his lateral range, but I was awed by his quickness and range on pop flies to right field.
I don't know if the Orioles can keep up the above .600 winning percentage. But it will be fun to watch them
try. Manager Brandon Hyde did not use closer Felix "the Mountain" Bautista in the Philadelphia series after his yeoman work in Tampa Bay.
Am hoping the strategy was to risk losing an inter-league battle to win the divisional war come October. Tampa Bay does come in for four games in mid-September and the now-second-place Rays will be primed
for revenge. We have two series left with Toronto and Boston so we'll have to earn a playoff spot. The way it should be.
In closing, you must be wondering where the title of this blog comes from. I saw it stenciled on a street in the Harbor East section of Baltimore near the TruHilton where I stayed. It was put up by a local poet @Poetry by Boots.
"We Are All Damaged. It's All How We Still Love With A Broken Heart That Still Matters." Does that ever apply to the inner life of the marvelously addicted baseball fan.
That's all for now. Always remember: Take it easy but take it and stay positive and test negative.