Hatred not near fevered pitch

The Baltimore Sun

If a rivalry still exists between the Orioles and New York Yankees after all these years at opposite ends of the American League East standings, it is a very strange thing indeed.

Take yesterday, for instance. The Yankees' Edwar Ramirez came out of bullpen in the seventh inning and threw his first pitch over the head of Kevin Millar, prompting some nasty stares and a quick ejection. The pitch was believed to be in retaliation for the pitch by Daniel Cabrera that plunked Alex Rodriguez the night before, though it's possible the guy just didn't like Millar's new haircut.

So, you would think, there's no love lost between these two teams - historical rivals that seem to become hysterical on a regular basis.

That notion might have been reinforced in Tuesday night's game, if you were paying close attention in the late innings when Jason Giambi stroked a single just out of the reach of Brian Roberts in medium right field. Giambi was caught by MASN cameras (New motto: "All HD, some of the time!") flipping Roberts the bird as he rounded first base, and we're not talking about the cartoon Oriole bird or the ornithologically correct Oriole bird or any bird that is recognized by the Audubon Society. We're talking about the dirty digit.

More bad blood? Not exactly.

Giambi couldn't resist after Roberts robbed him of a hit earlier in the game. The level of true animosity became apparent a little later when Roberts reached first base and the two of them spent the time between pitches yukking it up like Millar at a Boston Red Sox playoff game.

Baseball is a funny sport that way. The tension can build to the boiling point at times, but the players are generally pretty chummy until somebody like Cabrera tries to see if he can make a fastball go in one ear and out the other.

Why Millar kills the Yanks

Millar is 7-for-18 with six RBIs in the five games since he changed that ridiculous head of bleached hair, and he has been killing the Yankees this year. His six home runs are the most by any opposing player against the Pinstriped Pariahs in 2008.

Here's a shout-out to everyone who called in sick to stay in front of the TV for yesterday's afternoon game against the Still-Quite-Evil Empire. I like to go with the upper-respiratory infection - fools my boss every time - though some employers will buy a migraine if you don't sound too cheerful when you call.

Sounds of silence

It's too quiet.

Orioles president Andy MacPhail likes it that way, so you can't glean any meaning from that the way you could if it were the Yankees and they had Hank Steinbrenner bound and gagged in a broom closet with the waiver deadline approaching.

When Andy lowers the cone of silence, it could mean the Orioles are working furiously behind the scenes to get something done before it's necessary to put players through waivers before trading them. Or not.

Don't misunderstand. The odds are always against completing a deal because trading players is much more complicated than it used to be. But the Orioles have players who could help contenders. It would be naive to think some of those teams aren't tapping Andy's number into their T-Mobiles.

(That wasn't a plug. I just liked the alliteration. I could just as easily have said that some team might play a song on Andy's Cingular or drop a voice message on his Verizon Wireless. An opposing GM could even mutter into his Motorola. Being a blogger is sort of like being a cartoon character. You can do just about anything you want.)

The point is, a lot can happen in the last hours leading up to the deadline. Here's my trade deadline handicap:

Player Odds against trade

Chad Bradford 3-1

George Sherrill 4-1

Ramon Hernandez 12-1

Aubrey Huff 15-1

Brian Roberts 20-1

Kevin Millar 25-1

Melvin Mora 50-1

Adam Jones 1,000-1

Nick Markakis Powerball jackpot*


Read Peter Schmuck's unique take on sports every day at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.

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