No joy at the old ball game

The Baltimore Sun

I have seen many things, good and bad, in my 24 years of covering the O's for The Sun. This year what I have seen is painful.

The fun I had observed in the past is gone; it almost seemed gone from the first day of spring training, which I covered. Oh, Kevin Millar could always be counted on for some lively entertainment, but the energy falls off quickly after him. Team members report to camp or the park, go through the motions, with an occasional outburst of emotion, shower and go home. There is no apparent joking among teammates; instead you witness players sitting in cliques on the bench, or in one recent case, Miguel Tejada sitting alone at the very end of the bench, far removed from his "teammates."

Two weeks ago I witnessed a glaring example of the wheels falling off the cart. It is a baseball tradition that when a player makes a third out, a teammate will bring his glove and cap out to him in the field. Two weeks ago, Tejada did make the third out, and stood there as his teammates passed him by, with no glove, no cap. An oversight, or an indication? You be the judge.

My dealings with recently fired manager Sam Perlozzo have been brief but always pleasant and professional. Add me to the list of those who think he is a good guy who was done wrong.

On Friday night, June 15, after Todd Williams gave up the game-losing three-run home run to a pinch hitter for the Washington Nationals, I photographed a dugout scene that ran large in Saturday's Sun. It was of a dejected pitcher sitting with his head buried in a wet towel, knowing that his major league career might be on the line, which proved to be prescient as he was released two days later. It also showed a team devoid of all happiness and fun, possibly a new low. It's just not fun anymore at Camden Yards, and that is the real loss.

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