The Woes of the O's


It's hard to be a wearer of orange nowadays.

The Syracuse men's basketball team and the Philadelphia Flyers, both of whom had a chance for championships, were knocked out of their respective playoff appearances early.

The New York Knickerbockers and the Cleveland Cavaliers both face elimination in the NBA playoffs.

And then, there are the Orioles.

Yes, those O's-and-21 Baltimore Orioles, who have become a butt for jokes this past month because of their ineptitude. Thankfully for the collective psyche of O's orange wearers, they broke the slump with a 9-0 crushing of the White Sox last week.

The guys in orange from Baltimore had tried everything from hiring a new manager to accepting advice from Ronald Reagan. It was reported that the Reagans used an astrologer to help them with tough decisions. Voodoo economics say hello to voodoo baseball.

Here's Johnny

There would have been more Baltimore Orioles' jokes told by Johnny Carson and David Letterman, except there's a writers' strike going on in Southern California.

Normally wasting one eighth of a season isn't that big a deal. It's only two NFL games, 10 NBA or NHL contests. But in baseball, losing an eighth of the season is a pretty big deal. Just ask any O's fan.

Some scattered friends of mine began wearing Orioles' paraphernalia when the losing streak reached about a dozen. They had a pretty good sense of humor about the whole thing. "After all," one told me, "they'll come back."

And with guys on the mound like Mike Boddicker and Scott McGregor and guys in the field like Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray, I thought that a little thing like an 0-12 start could be turned around in a few days.

I was wrong.

Days later, when the streak reached new depths, the guys wearing weather-beaten Orioles caps were not happy. Year in and year out they had rooted for the O's. And now the Orioles were taking a pounding--the loss count was reaching 20.

In that week, walking through Tercentenary Theater, I saw a good friend of mine who lived next to me last year. He is an Orioles fan, but he wasn't looking particularly bleak even though Baltimore had lost its 20th in a row the previous day.

He wasn't wearing orange at all. Instead he was wearing powder blue--the powder blue of Columbia University.

He didn't have to explain the joke.