Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Larry Bigbie, 2005 Donruss Team Heroes #45

This card is somewhat ironic in hindsight. Given Larry Bigbie's disappointing early flameout, and his later implication as a performance-enhancing drug user in the Mitchell Report, it's safe to say that he was far from heroic. I don't point this out as a way of blaming or attacking Larry Bigbie. If anything, I'm empathizing with the outfielder who was briefly one of my favorite O's. I don't consider myself a hero, and one of the biggest reasons for this was on display at last night's game.

I have a terrible, irrational temper, and it's always at its worst when I'm watching sporting events and have some sort of rooting interest. It's embarrassing to me, but it's pretty clear that it's even more embarrassing to those closest to me. In the most recent example, I joined my younger sister, my future brother-in-law, and a friend of theirs for the opening game of a weekend series between the Orioles and the Yankees. I've actually never been to a game at Camden Yards when the hated pinstripers were in town, and just the thought of their obnoxious, front-running fans taking over our home ballpark fills me with anger and disgust. I knew it would be a long night even under the best of circumstances, and with erratic rookie Radhames Liz taking the mound for the Orioles, we weren't looking at the best of circumstances.

Fortunately, as we climbed the stairs to our student-discount tickets in Section 362, the loud, overbearing voices that wafted down to us were from an enthusiastic (if uncouth) group of young Oriole fans. It warmed my heart to hear their chants of "Yankees Suck" and "F*** the Yankees", and although I was too polite to join in on the latter, I did clap along to the rhythm. To be sure, there was still a disturbing amount of cheers when pro-Yankee events unfolded, but we weren't going down without a fight.

Early on, the fight almost got physical, as some O's fans a few rows in front of us stood and engaged in a shouting match with a particularly annoying young man in a Robinson Cano tee and one of those stupid fashion caps with a black Yankees logo on a black hat. These hats are utterly ridiculous, because a) what's the point of odd-colored team merchandise? Black isn't in the New York color scheme, and b) black on black means you can't even see the logo. Dumb. Anyway, both parties were admonished by our usher, but that just encouraged the Yank-lovin' bozo. He was in my line of sight all night, and I smoldered as he stood and applauded demonstrably for each and every hit by the visitors. He would turn and mug to the rest of us. He was the embodiment of everything that is hateable in a Yankee fan.

It was a tense, back-and-forth game, which managed to keep things relatively in control until the Baltimore bullpen collapsed in the eighth and ninth innings, handing New York a five-run lead with Mariano Rivera already in the game and the bottom portion of the O's lineup due up. Now the invaders became truly insufferable, serenading the disgusted majority of hometown fans who headed for the exits with chants of "Beat the traffic!" and "Let's go Yankees!". It takes some brave people to make themselves heard when the outcome is safely in hand. Unsurprisingly, our friend in the navy #24 shirt was a ringleader, hopping up and down so animatedly that you would have had assumed he was on hand for a World Series-clinching game, not an August matchup of an underachieving $200-million-dollar Frankenstein and a beleaguered last-place club with a patchwork rotation and bullpen.

Simply put, I lost my mind. Already physically sore from sitting in a tense and rigid position all night, and going hoarse from cheering and jeering, I tore into my new enemy, knowing it was futile. He didn't care that his team was in a distant third place, because we were worse. (I'm not sure how you can celebrate beating someone you're expected to beat, but there you go.) I was aware that by reacting to his showboating, I had taken the bait and given him the perverse satisfaction that he had sought. My sister cringed and rolled her eyes as I cursed, spat, and made obscene gestures, bringing myself down to this punk's level. Eventually, I exhausted myself and became resigned to the disturbing reality of the game. We (myself, my sister, and a few kindred souls in the row below us) derived a passive-aggressive entertainment from sitting back and mocking the overzealous display of The Jerk, because he obviously was overcompensating for some other sort of personal shortcoming. In hindsight, this is the approach I should have taken from the beginning, acknowledging the absurdity of the situation. But no matter how I try to reason with myself before and after the fact, I always seem to give in to my baser instincts when the going gets tough. I detach myself from reality in the heat of the moment and become someone I'm not proud of.

I'm no hero. Talking about your shortcomings is one thing. But doing something about it is another matter. I'll try to let you know how things change in the future.


Bobby said...

Experiences like that are pretty much why I tend to avoid Orioles-Yankee games. Or Orioles-Red Sox games, for that matter. (Its amazing how their fan bases are so similar.)

dinged corners said...

"August matchup of an underachieving $200-million-dollar Frankenstein and a beleaguered last-place club with a patchwork rotation and bullpen" -- Kevin, that's the sort of descriptive writing we love about OCOTD. Don't get mad. Get eloquent.

Kevin said...

Bobby - Yeah, I figured I had to represent, but I was in over my head a bit. In an unrelated note, one of the great ironies of life is that my best friend (who was my roommate for 5 years) is a Yankees fan. He's the least obnoxious and entitled NY fan I've ever met, in part because he remembers their own lean years with Mel Hall, Andy Hawkins, etc.

Patricia - Thank you! That really does mean a lot. I love "Don't get mad. Get eloquent." I may adopt it as a credo.