Dear Mr. Baseball:
I was wondering: Will the Orioles wear their black tops this year?
Dear Lou Sacchetti:
Mr. Baseball isn't real strong on fashion trends, as evinced by the paisley sliding pants in the sock drawer. But a call to Orioles PR director John Maroon did lead to the information you're seeking.
First of all, it bears mentioning that your letter to Mr. Baseball arrived two weeks ago, before the two games this year in which the Orioles wore black.
The second time was Monday night, at Camden Yards, in roughly 200 percent humidity.
The first time was a May 31 victory over the Angels. Ben McDonald pitched in both games, which is no surprise considering that he became very attached to the black shirts last year.
Maroon, a PR director of a different color, reported that the
Orioles had decided to forgo the black shirts this year. Before the California game, McDonald persuaded manager Phil Regan to reconsider, a decision that required last-minute uniform scrambling.
The team hadn't brought its black jerseys on the West Coast trip. So, to accommodate McDonald, the Orioles wore their black batting-practice shirts.
Dear Mr. Baseball:
How come players never stand inside the on-deck circle?
Dear Ben Hackerman:
It pains Mr. Baseball to say so, but the situation you are describing is rampant in baseball.
Coaches don't stand inside the coaching boxes.
Fungo-hitting coaches rarely swing from that little fungo circle near home plate.
And on-deck hitters refuse to kneel in the on-deck circle.
There are several explanations for this phenomenon.
Safety is one. At some ballparks, including Camden Yards, the on-deck circle is very close to the batter's box. Sidestepping a foul ball is almost impossible.
Mr. Baseball's theory on this fascinating topic is that players are engaged in a silent protest against groundskeepers, whom they secretly blame for the proliferation of turf-grass diseases.