Calling the Pen: Maybe fans could help Craig Kimbrel save his season -
Calling the Pen

Calling the Pen: Maybe fans could help Craig Kimbrel save his season


There’s not much difference in sound between a moo and a boo, but it makes all the difference in the world to Orioles outfielder Colton Cowser.

He had such an outstanding April that he was named American League Rookie of the Month after leading other rookies in RBIs, slugging percentage, total bases, extra-base hits and tying for the lead in home runs with six. But the best part has been the fans’ reaction to Cowser.

With Orioles analyst Ben McDonald saying, “The Milkman always delivers,” fans began showing up in onesies, dressed as cows. Others chose the traditional milkman uniform — white cap, shirt and pants with a black bowtie. Being the son of a milkman, the fun has delivered memories for me.



It’s delivered a boost for Cowser, who thinks “it’s pretty cool,” and just hopes the onesies don’t get too hot in the summer. He got a tip that the fans were going to start the mooing, so he didn’t mistake it for booing.

The fans’ inventive support made me think about a player who’s beginning to get the latter, closer Craig Kimbrel. He has failed to convert four of his last five save opportunities after signing a one-year contract to fill in for Félix Bautista, who won’t pitch this year because of Tommy John surgery after being named the AL’s top reliever last season.

Even though Kimbrel is tied for fifth all-time in career saves, the 6-foot-8 Bautista left some big shoes to fill. And Kimbrel, who will turn 36 on May 28th, faltered down the stretch for his last team, the Phillies, losing Games 3 and 4 of the National League Championship Series.

That same fan base, which can be harsh, did something unusual last season. They stopped booing shortstop Trea Turner, who was having his worst season and was coming off an 0-for-5 game in which he made an error that allowed the winning run to score. The next day, the Philly Captain of fans asked for some brotherly love. Specifically, he asked fans not to boo Turner but to give him a standing ovation.

Turner said the reaction helped him to relax and to make the adjustments he needed to make to get his game back on track.

Maybe Oriole fans could extend the same grace to Kimbrel, who still has the support manager Brandon Hyde. After pulling Kimbrel from a game for the second time on Wednesday, Hyde said: “It’s important that we get him right.”

Kimbrel doesn’t have a name that lends itself to the clever ways fans are “mooing” Colton Cowser, but perhaps he would respond to the treatment Turner received. columnist Peter Schmuck said he can’t imagine that Kimbrel is having a crisis of confidence after taking the ball in the ninth inning for has long as he has. But there’s a big psychological component to playing sports. And just as Cowser has appreciated his growing group of fans, Kimbrel might appreciate some support right now.

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