On July 11, I wrote one of my most heartfelt columns of the year at Z on TV. In it, I confessed my addiction to watching baseball on TV the last four decades -- and how the pitiful play of the Orioles had driven me from the tube. I announced I would no longer be watching the Birds on television -- as hard as withdrawal might be.
Here's a bit of the way I explained it:
TV baseball has been one of the great pleasures of my adult life. Coming home at 8 or 9 p.m. after a long day of covering a media world that has gone nasty and mad, I would click on MASN's coverage of the Baltimore Orioles the way some folks might pour themselves a glass of wine.
Hearing analyst Jim Palmer explain for the 10,000th time that "baseball is game of adjustments" had the same soothing effect for me that I expect hearing the litany of the saints or the saying of the rosary has for some devout Catholics. (And I mean that in a good way. I love Palmer's commentary, and I think Baltimore is lucky to have him.)
But by the end of Sunday's game with the Boston Red Sox, I was through with Orioles' TV baseball. After more than 20 years of faithfully following the team on TV, I cannot take it any longer.
By and large, it is not the coverage that has driven me from the tube. Technically, MASN does a decent enough job.
But given the abysmal performance and culture of losing that clearly remains despite Buck Showalter, all the pleasure of following the Orioles night after night is gone. All that remains is frustration and anger -- and now, I find myself yelling at the TV when Rick Dempsey or one of the other post-game folks starts pulling punches about how awful this team is.
You can read the full piece here.
So here's what you're thinking: "Now that the Orioles are playing spoiler and threatening to cause tremendous pain throughout New England by possibly keeping Boston out of the playoffs, you come crawling back to the TV, hey Z, you worm?"
Not exactly, I still love baseball on TV. And there is nothing better than watching the playoffs -- including the World Series, which usually feels like anti-climax.
I will be watching to cheer the Red Sox into the playoffs tonight. The Orioles just happen to be the team Boston is playing. I still have disgust for the Orioles and am angered by the team's utter lack of accountablity to the fans of this city.
It is easy to play the kind of baseball the Orioles have the last couple of week's when you have nothing to lose. The great players win when they have everything to lose like the Sox did last night.
I feel baseball playoffs TV in the air today, and with it comes memories of those powerhouse Orioles teams in the 1990s that general manager Pat Gillick built and Davey Johnson managed into some epic championship series showdowns. Those teams won some big games against great opponents with everything on the line.
And oh, by the way, I haven't missed Orioles TV even a little since breaking the habit on July 11. Go Sox.