Baseball is here! Inspired by an old feature on The Black Table, we're previewing the season by going team-by-team and distributing Four Things You Don't Know about them. If you have suggested oddities on your team, send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Today: The Baltimore Orioles.
• 1. Why Your Hometown Columnist Doesn't Suck. Center fielder David Newhan's father, Ross Newhan, is the longtime baseball writer for the Los Angeles Times and is a member of the writer's wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is a winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award.
• 2. When the Sun's Comin' Up They Got Cakes On the Griddle. John Denver lives on at Camden Yards: It's been an Orioles tradition since 1980 to play Denver's Thank God I'm a Country Boy after Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh inning stretch. During the bridge of the song, in which Denver holds a long note, fans yell "Ooooooooh!" in honor of the O in Orioles. One time this didn't happen: During the filming of Major League II (1994), a movie about the Cleveland Indians, which was actually filmed at Camden Yards.
• 3. Fans Want Them To Flip The Bird. Some ardent Orioles' fans feel executives should reconsider switching the team's ornithologically correct cap to the classic smiling bird head hat. The old caps literally smiled on the Orioles as they won six division titles and three World Championships wearing them from 1966-1988. During that 22-year period the team even sported the highest winning percentage in the league. Since switching to the plainer bird caps in 1989, the Orioles have had 12 losing seasons over the past 17 years, including sub-.500 teams the past eight straight seasons. — (thanks to Shane Igoe).
• 4. They Will Kick Your Ass In Raquetball. Jeff Conine is a world-class racquetball player who won the 1985 Junior National Championships and has participated in several pro tournaments. But his wife, Cindy, may be even better. They won the 1999 U.S. National Doubles Racquetball Championship 25-and-over mixed doubles title. Cindy is a two-time national doubles champion and won the silver medal in women's doubles at the 1993 U.S. Olympic Festival in San Antonio.
(Tomorrow: The Minnesota Twins)