Sometimes, I’m sure we all feel common sense has abandoned this world.
One of the reasons I like sports, and, specifically, baseball, is that there’s a comforting order to the game, a simple sensibility that is refreshing when everything else seems to be going off the rails.
This past week or 10 days, though, well, Orioles’ baseball has been just as confounding as society itself.
I’ve covered this sport for a long time, and I can’t remember a period so strange, so disturbing, so disjointed as this stretch has been.
I’m not talking wins and losses. For one, I don’t play in the games, I just write about them. The outcome for me, in a sense, is incidental. Besides, I once covered an Orioles team that lost 32 of 36 to end a season. That was bizarre, but made sense: That team was awful.
As far as on-field play, these Orioles have been fine, pretty darn good, actually.
No, this stretch of Orioles baseball has been much different from anything I can remember. You take away that 9-1 blown lead against the New York Yankees, and most of what has all of us scratching our heads transpired between the Orioles and Red Sox since April 21.
It’s not worth rehashing in detail. If you read this site, you know what has transpired: Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia on a slide; Machado has been thrown at several times since. Mookie Betts was plunked this week by Dylan Bundy; Adam Jones was the target of racial taunts and a bag of peanuts from Fenway Park fans, Jones was then celebrated the next day by some Fenway Park fans moments before Machado was thrown at again.
And then there was Wednesday night, when Orioles starter Kevin Gausman was ejected in the second inning by veteran umpire Sam Holbrook for plunking Xander Bogaerts on the hip with a 77-mph breaking ball.
It would have been one of the oddest purpose pitches in recent memory. Holbrook (pictured above) has been around the game a long time and should have recognized that – and if he didn’t, Gausman repeatedly yelling, “It was a curveball,” probably should have been a solid clue.
Later, Holbrook ejected Jones – the first ejection of the outfielder’s career – for arguing about a previous strike call. Jones was chirping on his way to the dugout, but he was walking away from Holbrook. Usually, veteran umpires let that go.
But, again, there’s been no such thing as common sense surrounding these teams recently.
I understand that the umpires need to control the game. And that Holbrook had a lot of pressure on him to carry out that charge. But, for goodness sake, consider the facts, the moment and the precedent.
Heck, Chris Sale wasn’t ejected Tuesday when he threw behind Machado and Bundy wasn’t ejected Monday when he hit Betts. But Gausman is Wednesday after throwing a curveball? It doesn’t matter which team you care about, the inconsistency just doesn’t add up.
Issue a warning to Gausman even if the pitch was benign, I get that. But an ejection in the second inning that changes the complexity of the game?
After the Orioles’ 4-2 loss, Showalter told MASN’s Gary Thorne that Holbrook’s call was “a mistake” and that, “We keep trying to do the right thing, and keep getting screwed.”
Gausman told Thorne that Holbrook’s decision was “a stupid call on his part. … just bush league … a complete joke how they handled” the situation.
See, the thing is, jokes are funny.
This wasn’t funny, however. It was simply head-scratching. Like most of the past two weeks.
Whether you cheer for the Orioles, Red Sox, hate both teams or are charged with being objective due to your occupation, Wednesday night was unsettling, continuing a recent trend.
Baseball should make sense. It usually does. It will again.
Right now, though, it seems like everything involving the Orioles and Red Sox is upside down.