THERE'S A GREAT new T-shirt hanging in the window of a store downtown. It says: "Bring the Birds South." South is here, Washington, D.C., if you start in Baltimore. And that's where the baseball Orioles are at the moment. But never let it be said that we are resentful about not having the Orioles scheduled to play any games here next year even though a Washingtonian has purchased the team. We are happy to put aside our rivalry with Baltimore and celebrate. After all, our team is in the World Series.
Yesterday staff writer Thomas Boswell caught the fervor and character of the Orioles and their World Series opponents, the Pittsburgh Pirates, when he wrote that both teams are like their home towns -- tough. How true. Pittsburgh, a town known for steelworkers, has big, hulking ballplayers like Willie Stargell and Dave Parker, ready to physically overwhelm and intimidate the opposition. And the Orioles, with superpitchers like Jim Palmer and Mike Flanagan -- as well as the best manager in Earl Weaver -- are a scrappy, tough team like their town: Washington.
When Weaver turns his cap around so the bill doesn't keep him from putting his face in the umpire's face while he is screaming, he is like every Washingtonian arguing with a cabbie who doesn't want to go anywhere but on a $25 trip to Dulles Airport. Palmer telling Weaver he doesn't want to pitch the first game of the playoffs is like so many young lawyers hungering for the big break and certain that a senior partner is making a dumb managerial decision that will ruin their careers. And, of course, making a televised Richard Nixon chew on his handkerchief in anxiety, as the Orioles did in their game Friday, is quintessential Washington.
In the series, the Orioles will be in the traditional Washington pressure cooker of TV lights, national headlines and make-one-bad-move-and-you'll-never-live-it-down. For a Washington team, this should be no problem. It might be too much for a Baltimore team. So here's to our team: may they be as tough as our town.