Wlliam "Wild Bill" Hagy started out as just another Orioles fan from Dundalk who loved his Budweiser in Section 34 of the upper deck at Memorial Stadium. But with his sloping gut, fluffy beard and straw hat, he cut a striking visual. And eventually his O-R-I-O-L-E-S cheers, replete with dramatic contortions of his out-of-shape body, became the emotional fulcrum as crowds at Memorial urged the baseball team to improbable comebacks in the late 1970s and early 1980s. (SLYT)
Today's Orioles and White Sox game at Camden Yards in Baltimore will be the first game in MLB history played in an empty stadium. However, the phenomenon is more common in football (soccer) because of reasons ranging from punishment for racist fans to fears of contagious diseases. The crew at 538.com suggest that the Orioles might lose the home-field advantage from umpiring calls that teams playing in front of a friendly crowd typically enjoy. If you want to view the surreal scene yourself, the game is MLB.com's free game of the day.
Their last winning season came in 1997. Only one member of their Opening Day starting rotation remains, a 27-year-old from Taiwan who hadn't pitched in the majors before this year. The others have been replaced by a Red Sox cast-off picked up from the Mexican League, an ex-prospect with a career ERA of 5.5 in his first three years, and the son of one of their former pitchers, a throw-in in a 2009 trade with the Dodgers. They have only one regular hitting over .270, they're missing two-thirds of their Opening Day outfield, and their 20-year-old third baseman started the year at AA. Nate Silver's PECOTA projection system reckoned they'd finish in last place, 24 games behind the Yankees. And tomorrow night, the Baltimore Orioles will play their first postseason game in 15 years. [more inside]
If you were watching the Orioles-A's game from Camden Yards tonight, you saw a guy playing the National Anthem on an electric violin made out of a baseball bat. This is how that looks and sounds. This is the guy talking about and showing off his Louisville Slugger violin. And this is the Washington Post profile of Glenn Donnellan, a violinist with the National Symphony Orchestra and the maker and player of the world's only electric baseball bat violin.
Where have you gone, Delino DeShields? Seven years ago, Delino DeShields was released by the Chicago Cubs, ending a 13-year, 5-team journey through Major League Baseball during which he earned almost $29 million. He's now the hitting coach for the Billings Mustangs in the rookie-level Pioneer League, making as much money for the season as he used to make per game. The Washington Post goes to Montana to find out why. [more inside]