Friday, June 02, 2006

Oh! The Irony

Anyone who remembers baseball history from the past ten years (especially history involving intra-league rivals) most likely remembers Jeffrey Maier – if they don’t remember his name, they probably remember what he did: lean over a wall and snatch a fly ball hit by Derek Jeter away from the waiting glove of Orioles outfielder Tony Tarasco during the 1996 American League Championship Series. Umpire Richie Garcia called the ball, clearly a case of fan interference in every replay, a home run and the Yankees went on to win the game, the series and then the first of their four championships in five years. The Orioles, meanwhile, have struggled in ignominy ever since. I thought the circumstances were pretty unfair myself, but to Orioles fans I imagine that the Jeffrey Maier game is Level 1 on Bill Simmons’ 13 levels of losing.

Alright, groundwork laid, terrible game, terrible experience, Baltimore hasn’t really moved past it yet, even after 10 years…so what? Well, what if Maier ended up playing for the Orioles? Yes, I’m serious. He’s not a shoe-in, but the recently graduated Maier has the record for hits at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and is a potential pick in next week’s MLB draft. And Peter Angelos, owner of the Orioles, is interested in picking him. Can you imagine what that would be like, especially if he turned out to be any good? It would be like Steve Bartman coming up to replace, say, Jacque Jones and being really good at it, or Bucky Dent coming to the Red Sox in 1984 and helping them win it all in ’86. I can only imagine the psychic trauma Orioles fans would go through…although if he helped them win a World Series, I’m sure they’d be willing to bygones be bygones. As we all know, baseball fans are a very fickle lot. Maybe none of this will work out and Maier and the articles written on him will become a footnote in baseball history. Or maybe the Orioles will draft him after all and I’ll do a little dance of glee over the irony of it all.