Before violent (and then brisk) spring weather returned to Baltimore yesterday, nature bestowed a few short hours of warm temps to Camden Yards as the Orioles got off to a winning start in 2006 by defeating the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 9-6. (As I have said for a few days now, the battle for fourth place in the AL East has been joined.) Twenty-two-year-old lefty phenom Scott Kazmir started for the Rays, impressing with his fluid motion, but labored through the first two innings, throwing over sixty pitches and opening the door for the hometown ten. O’s starter Rodrigo Lopez was typically erratic, struggling at times but pitching well enough for the win. God bless Melvin Mora, and sweet-swinging rookie Nick Markakis (who made a ninth-inning appearance as a defensive replacement in right field)—things may never look this rosy for the rest of the season.
In some parts of Mobtown, Opening Day is a traditional holiday, the kind where old (and not-so-old) ladies hang decorations on the front of their house, or in the workplace. So it’s not as unusual as it might be that, while walking through the union cafeteria on Monday morning—I work in a large aerospace firm with a manufacturing facility—folks were stringing up black-and-orange crêpe paper, as well as large baseball cutouts, from the ceiling; covering buffet tables in white paper; and preparing for mass quantities of hot dogs with all the fixin’s.
This also marks the opening of the 2006 season for ffactory, whose proprietor has been laboring under the thumb of the man for far too long. Play ball!