It's kinda nice to root for a loser

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Fulton County Stadium empty.jpgI disagree with Charles Krauthammer on almost everything, but he and I are hand in hand about the pleasure of rooting for a losing team. He’s a Nats’ fan, you see, and though he’d like to see some winning baseball, he’s just fine if it takes its sweet time arriving:

I go for relief. For the fun, for the craft and for the sweet, easy cheer at Nationals
Park. You get there and the twilight’s gleaming, the popcorn’s popping, the
kids’re romping and everyone’s happy. The joy of losing consists in
this: Where there are no expectations, there is no disappointment . . . No one’s happy to lose, and the fans cheer lustily when the Nats win.
But as starters blow up and base runners get picked off, there is none
of the agitation, the angry, screaming, beer-spilling, red-faced ranting
you get at football or basketball games.

The Braves have either been a winning team or a respectable team for 19 years now, but my love affair with baseball was solidified between 1985 and 1990 when they sucked eggs night-in, night-out. I didn’t go to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and take it in like Krauthammer does the Nats, but I got something close to the low-leverage, amiable experience watching on TBS each night. Even the sound production on those broadcasts seemed designed to be low key and to lower expectations.

Krauthammer’s best line in the piece is “you root, root, root for the home team, but if they don’t win ‘it’s a
shame’ — not a calamity.”  I totally dig that. Don’t get me wrong: I want my team to win. But unlike the way I get during Ohio State’s football season, I can enjoy baseball even if they don’t, because it truly is a pastime more than it is a sport as that term has come to be thought of. There are winners and losers, but all the fans win for having been able to take in the ballgame.

It’s a great show. It’s a great experience. And in some weird way, it’s almost more enjoyable when the expectations are at their lowest.  If I lived in D.C. or Pittsburgh or Kansas City I’d probably buy Nats’ season tickets to get a taste of that.

Albert Pujols passes Mark McGwire with 584th career home run

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 11: Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim runs out a double during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on August 11, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Angels 14-3. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.

Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.

Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.

Zach Britton allowed an earned run for the first time since April 30

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 22:  Zach Britton #53 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches for his 38th save in the ninth inning during a baseball game against the the Washington Nationals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 22, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Oriole won 4-3.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.

The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.

Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.