For the most part, I feel that it's acceptable for columnists and correspondents to show a slight bias towards the teams that they cover. In essence, I want to know that a play-by-play guy for the team is on that team's side, but for the most part he should try to be objective. (So you can imagine my opinion of "fans in the booth" such as Hawk Harrelson of the White Sox, and Michael Kaye of the Yankees.) I hold myself to the same standards in producing this column. However there are some times whereby a situation presents itself and I decide to put that stoicism aside. This post is one of those instances; if you're not prepared to see your humble correspondent bleeding orange and black, I'd recommend not reading on.
Birdland is a vastly different place on this Sunday night than it was at this time last week. First off, the O's are actually playing a game tonight, which is a great source of controversy. However more importantly, one of the rocks of Orioles baseball over the years passed away this week in Mike Flanagan. His apparent suicide on Wednesday sent shock waves through the entire Oriole organization, as well as through the fan base. The O's are doing a wonderful job of properly honoring Flanny, along with trying to move onward in the season. They'll wear a black FLANNY patch for the remainder of the season, and a black banner with 46 in orange will hang over the press box as well. (For the record, my vote would be to make that a permanent fixture at the ballpark.) Of course in the wake of that tragedy, Baltimore saw the landfall of Hurricane Irene last night, which forced teams up and down the east coast to reschedule games. In the midst of tragedy and an impending natural disaster, the Yankees came to town for what was supposed to be a five-game series over four days. That's where the trouble started...
On Thursday Yankee manager Joe Girardi apparently told the Orioles that he thought the doubleheader should be moved to Friday due to the impending storm. The Orioles declined that option, saying they'd deal with the weather as it happened. Ultimately, both games on Saturday were scratched, and the doubleheader was rescheduled for today. The game that originally was scheduled for April 22nd is now going to be made up on September 8th, which was a previously scheduled off-day for both teams. That sent Girardi reeling; according to him, this is not an acceptable solution to the problem because he doesn't want to surrender an off-day. Given that the off-day was to be a travel day for the Yankees and their homey's to travel to the west coast, that might be somewhat understandable. However twice this season the O's were scheduled to travel coast-to-coast and play the next day. Teams do it all the time; it's part of baseball. Girardi offered two alternatives to September 8th; one was to play on September 29th (the day after the scheduled culmination of the regular season). The other was - get this - to play a day/night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium when the O's go there next week. (The Orioles would presumably be designated as the home team in one of those games, which would give them the last at-bat of course.)
I suppose that part of my issue is that Girardi spent the better part of yesterday afternoon complaining to the media about this issue. I thought there was no crying in baseball! Using the media to do your dirty work is real classy I might add. I wouldn't have such an issue playing the game on September 29th, however now that they've complained so much about it I say keep it on September 8th. However the idea of the game being played at Yankee Stadium is...wow; just...wow. That's audacity folks; the idea that a manager would think that was an acceptable solution is pretty fantastic. As much as I'd like to, I don't even need to go into how many things are wrong with that suggestion, and what kind of message it would send. For that matter why don't we just schedule all 18 games between the two teams at Yankee Stadium next season, and designate the O's as the home team in nine of them. The way I see things, the Yankees don't really have a choice in the matter in this case, because the game's been scheduled for September 8th at 1 PM; deal with it.
Ultimately, this entire thing was extremely disrespectful to the memory of Mike Flanagan, and to his grieving family and friends. The fact that the Yankees thought it would be acceptable to ask the O's to alter their schedule in light of what happened was bad enough. The team and the city was and still is reeling, and all Girardi was worried about was getting a game in. However he compounded the problem by crying foul to the media on Saturday. Was it convenient for the Orioles to wash away the games on Saturday due to the storm? Perhaps it was; however isn't some time away or to ourselves something that should be afforded to all of us when going through something like this? So if Girardi wants to say that the Orioles were self-serving in that scenario, perhaps they were. But with good reason. Perhaps Joe Girardi should ask YES broadcaster Ken Singleton (a very close friend and former teammate of Flanny's) what he thought of Girardi's temper tantrum with everything else that's going on. I'm just as guilty of not putting baseball in the proper perspective as anyone else, if not more so. But Joe Girardi should understand that granted it may be a career for him and his players, it's still just a game. A game is a game and a person's life is a person's life. Incidentally, Girardi should also be aware that regardless of his opinion on the matter, the game's being played at 1 PM on September 8th; deal with it.