Baltimore City Paper

Pennant or bust

Baseball season is coming down the stretch, and as the Red Sox and Rays have stumbled, the Orioles failed to take advantage. Jim Johnson blew three saves in a row for the second time this season and was called the least valuable player in the bigs by ESPN's David Schoenfeld. Still, Buck Showalter expresses his confidence in his close-free closer. I guess it's a good sign that we've gotten to a place where five games out of first is depressing, but it's still depressing.

Of course, things could be looking a lot better by the time you read this, I have no idea. By Wednesday night, the O's will have three games against those rival Rays under their belts, and things could be looking way differently. The Orioles might have overtaken Tampa for second place in the AL East, taken the driver's seat in the Wild Card race, and be breathing down the A-Rod beaning necks of Boston. On the flip side, they could be tanking, have lost three straight to Tampa, and Baltimore's sports talk radio could be sounding about as chipper as the minutes from a Morrissey fan club meeting held at a Ponderosa Steakhouse. That's why writing sports for a weekly sucks. Unless you've got a laptop time machine (kind of like a Hot Tub Time Machine, but with doughy sportswriters filling in for the all-star cast), you're guaranteed to sound like half an idiot. When you're already half an idiot, the first half will combine with the second and you'll end up four-fifths a moron. That's why I've been thinking of writing more about actually doing sports instead of just watching them. Sort of turning this column into a one man Wide World of Sports.

It's supposed to be about Baltimore, though, so I guess it can't be that wide. Maybe not Wide, perhaps more of a Narrow World of Sports? And a lot of those Wide Worldy sports are pretty extreme. Thankfully I have been blessed with the courage of a lion! Sadly, it was before that lion visited The Wizard. Then there's the fact that all that Wide World of Sports stuff costs money. Thankfully I've got the City Paper's budget behind me.

Welcome to Jim Meyer's Very Narrow World of Sports.

I found a place that rents those water jet packs where you can fly above the water like an exceptionally moist James Bond. That would have been fun to write about. I'd have called the column "Soggy Finger" or some other clever .007 thing, maybe "Fat Guy Skyfalls from a Water Jet Pack." Would have been cool, but it was a mite spendy.

I had another great idea and almost went hang-gliding last week. For $350, they strap you to some hang-gliding dude and drag you behind a plane a mile up and let you soar back to Mother Earth, one with the wind on wings of gossamer. It would have made a hell of a column. You'd have loved it. There would have been all kinds of beautiful stuff about the curvature of the earth and riding thermals like some sort of majestic sky-eagle, but a mile up is roughly 5,275 feet out of my comfort zone and, again, $350. Perhaps I could write a column about kite-flying while hopping?

I ruled out cliff-diving because there are no cliffs in Hampden, and bullfighting because I chafe in tight pants. I briefly considered trying my hand at stamp-collecting, which is almost like a sport, but I didn't want to be seen as pandering to the philatelists. Plus, my wife kept mailing all my stamps. The most athletic thing I've actually done in the last week is play fetch with my dog, so prepare yourself for the Wide World of Throwing Balls to German Shepherds!

Holy Christ, this doer vs. writer thing is tough. Well, until you, my dear reader, send some good suggestions for sporty stuff I can do on a City Paper budget (think in pesos-maybe yen), looks like I'm gonna be talking some baseball, and though I may sound like a schnook by the time you read this, I think things are gonna be OK. The Orioles looked pretty damned good stomping the hell out of the Rockies, their rotation is coming together, and this club can flat-out knock the cover off the ball. The usual cast of characters (Markakis, Davis, Machado, and Jones) is as good as any in the business, and now with Brian Roberts, who is finally getting the opportunity to compete in a pennant race, and taking advantage with a torrid bat.

As I write this, the Birds still have 39 games to go, with 29 of them against the AL East (including those three against the Rays that you future people already know about). Not a lot of baseball left in the grand scheme of things, but more than enough to make up four and a half games. Heck, we are a Jim Johnson meltdown out of first as it is, if Buck can find it in his heart to move Tommy Hunter or K-Rod into the closer role, this club could make a run, and here it goes, my guarantee of the millennium (I feel safe in doing these, as when I do, no one remembers but me, so if I'm wrong, this is the last anyone will ever hear about it, and if I'm right, I'll be hiring a skywriter for the World Series parade), the Orioles are winning the East, half a game over the Rays and three over the Red Sox, and when they do, they're going to the series.

Either that, or I'm going to swim with sharks. ■