The Sounds of Silence in Camden Yards

Some have asked in the past, "Supposed they played a baseball game and nobody came?" They got their sad enough answer in one of baseball's most beautiful ballparks Wednesday afternoon. Edgy because of Baltimore's riots this week, and after having postponed twice, the Orioles elected to play the White Sox without an audience, with baseball government's sad approval and Baltimore's sad acquiescence.

The deafening silence didn't seem to affect the Orioles early in the game. After starter Ubaldo Jimenez put the White Sox away in order to open, Chris Davis hit a fat Jeff Samardzija pitch for a 3-run homer in the bottom that was merely the exclamation point on a 6-run Oriole first. By the end of the fourth they were up 7-0.

The only noise you could hear when Davis drilled his homer onto Eutaw Street, which separates the ballpark from the warehousing, was a small crowd of fans on the motorless street, and a little murmuring from the press box, the only full section inside the park. Some ballplayers have been known to wonder aloud how pleasant it might be to play the game without a throng of people in the stands hooting and hollering. The Orioles and the White Sox gave one sad answer.

Outrage over young Freddie Gray's death while in police custody, en route a holding cell, apparently, is very much warranted. Baltimore's police should be made to answer for Gray's death, and fast. Even asking, as National Review‘s Kevin D. Williamson writes, whether any adult with a brain would "be shocked to learn that Baltimore has a corrupt and feckless police department enabled by a corrupt and feckless city government? I myself would not, and the local authorities' dishonesty and stonewalling in the death of Freddie Gray is reminiscent of what we have seen in other cities. There's a heap of evidence that the Baltimore police department is pretty bad."

To be outraged over a few thousand thugs seizing the outrage as a reason to break an entire city, none of whose targets seemed to include places where you might find those who permitted the corruption that seeds such a needless death as Gray's, is also very much warranted. "[T]he rioters in Baltimore," Williamson notes, "mostly are not burning down tax offices or police stations but are in the main looting businesses and carrying out acts of wanton opportunistic vandalism — that's not a revolt, but a crime spree. Meretricious 'black rage' rhetoric notwithstanding, what we have seen in places such as Ferguson and Baltimore is much more ordinarily criminal than political."

It is also very much legitimate to be encouraged by such doings as that of the African American mother who recognized her 16-year-old son among the rioters at Mondawmin Mall, when watching news updates, then high-tailed it to where she knew him to be, and delivered a roundhouse to him, just the beginning of a series of whacks to his head, in full view of cameras.

The video went viral and so did Toya Graham's no-nonsense explanation: "I'm a no-tolerant mother. Everybody who knows me, knows I don't play that," she told CBS News in due course. "He knew. He knew he was in trouble. That's my only son and at the end of the day I don't want him to be a Freddie Gray. I was angry. I was shocked, because you never want to see your child out there doing that." She also told CBS that what she saw at the mall told her these were not mere protesters out for justice.

Somewhere in the middle of the deafening Camden Yards silence Wednesday, the White Sox managed to sneak a pair of runs home on a pair of grounders, one of which provoked a throwing error, before Manny Machado delivered an eighth Oriole run with a bomb over the left center field fence in the bottom of the fifth. Jeff Samardzija took one for the White Sox, pitching six, before handing off to Scott Carroll, who surrendered only one hit in two innings work.

Somewhere in the middle of it, too, there were a few laughs to be had — Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph was said to have been spotted signing autographs for imaginary fans. My personal favorite, though, has to be Davis, out of force of habit, perhaps, tossing a ball into the stands as he trotted off the field after a third defensive out. Oops. The clunk when the ball landed must have echoed around the otherwise empty park. For the record, it landed about fifteen rows behind the Oriole dugout.

Prior to the game, Davis was a lot more sober about the atmosphere, in the park and the city. "I watched the news more in the last couple of days than I have in my whole entire life," he told USA Today‘s Paul White. "Just to see the anger, the emotion, the frustration of the city the last few days was shocking. It's frustrating. I understand why people are upset and rightfully so. It's unfortunate that it's escalated to what it has. I think a lot of people were trying to do things the right way. I think there's still a long way to go but I think we're headed in the right direction."

"It was just a surreal environment," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura to reporters after the game ended. "I really don't think we want to play in another one like this. I don't think they do either."

There were those who also said the way the White Sox played they didn't exactly deserve an audience, either. Oh, that's a regular riot, Alice.

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