Z on TV Critic David Zurawik writes about the business and culture of TV

MLB Network offers a timely reminder to O's fans: It could be worse ... and has been

Sunday at 5 p.m., the MLB Network will revisit the Baltimore Orioles infamous 21-game losing streak with a 15-minute special titled “The Other Streak.” It will air within the telecast of “MLB Tonight.”

If you think things can’t get much worse than the start this year’s team is off to, you might want to watch this trip back to 1988.

Fifteen minutes might not seem like much to mark the 30th anniversary of a record no one expects will ever be broken. But it’s more than most of the former Orioles who were part of the misery tour want to give it. To a man, they say in one way or another in the short film, they would rather see it pass unnoticed.

“How excited are you to do this interview?” Billy Ripken is asked in the film.

“Not excited,” he says stone-faced, lips barely moving.

My favorite anecdote comes from former Baltimore Sun O’s beat writer Tim Kurkjian recounting a conversation he had with manager Frank Robinson in the depth of the streak.

Kurkjian says Robinson told him that President Ronald Reagan had called to offer encouragement. Trying to be supportive, the president reportedly told Robinson he knew what the skipper was going through.

“Mr. President, you got no idea what I’m going through,” Robinson replied, according to Kurkjian.

There are also recollections from Bob Rivers, a disc jockey from WIYY-FM (98 Rock) who went on the air when the Os hit 0-11 and stayed on until they broke the losing streak after 21 straight losses.

“I was a brand new DJ in Baltimore,” he says in the film. “And we went and sat in one of the suites. Tonight’s going to be the night. I think it was game 11. And as it became clear that tonight was not going to be the night, the afternoon drive time host at the station said, ‘You know, Bob should stay on the air until they win a game.’”

Being new, Rivers said he just “wanted to help.”

“And I said, ‘sure.’ And I thought, ‘How long could this possibly go?’”

On his website, the Seattle disc jockey, puts his marathon at 11 days and writes that “he only took naps during songs.”

My favorite moment involves the response the Orioles received when they returned from the road trip on which they had broken the streak. Memorial Stadium was packed and the fans acted like it was a World Series game, according to announcer Jon Miller.

That was a nice.

But, overall, “It was just miserable,” Cal Ripken Jr. says of the streak he would rather forget.

david.zurawik@baltsun.com

twitter.com/davidzurawik

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