Mark My Words
In a strange twist, the Baltimore Orioles are watching a Little League game in order to learn how baseball is played.
"Remember that ground ball you let go through your legs the other day?" manager Frank Robinson is telling his first baseman, Eddie Murray. "That's how you field a grounder properly."
Eddie Murray watches a Little Leaguer scoop up a ground ball and tag first base.
"I see," Murray says, scribbling in a notebook.
"And remember that fly ball you dropped in the outfield the same day?" Robinson is telling his right fielder, Fred Lynn. "That's how you make a catch in the outfield."
Lynn watches a youngster circle under a ball, stick his glove out and make the catch.
"Oh," Lynn says, scratching his head. "That's how it's done. I guess I need more practice."
"And remember those strikeouts you keep getting?" Robinson is telling his shortstop, Cal Ripken Jr. "You've got to even out your swing, like that boy over there."
Ripken watches the boy, chunky, with the remains of a chocolate bar smothered across his face, smash a baseball over the shortstop's head.
"Okay, I get it," Ripken says, mimicking the boy's stance and swing. "It feels good. Maybe I can set some pointers from that little fella after the game. Maybe, if I'm lucky, I can get his autograph." Ripken giggles at the thought. He practices his new-found swing again.
The Baltimore Orioles are gathered in the tiny bleachers beside the Little League field, observing intently. The Orioles pitchers are watching the Little League pitchers. The Orioles fielders are watching the Little League fielders. The Orioles hitters are watching the Little League hitters.
"Going to a ballgame is a real learning experience for these players," Robinson is telling a fan sitting beside him. "They learn a lot from just watching."
"You know, we can use all the help we can get," Robinson is saying. "We're not having the best of seasons." He chuckles. "In fact, we haven't won a game."
Robinson sighs. "Baseball is a great game," Robinson is saying, "but there's too much emphasis on winning. Win, win, win. That's all you ever hear about."
Robinson smiles. "Those kids on the field. If they win, it's fine. If they lose, oh boy, the horse manure hits the windmill."
"Thank God there's no pressure us to win. We're just learning the game, and enjoying the hell out of the experience."