With such unusual circumstances altering how the media covered baseball this summer, it was necessary to find the humor in just about any situation rather than spend two months pouting over it. A survival tactic of sorts.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde made it a lot easier to lighten the mood, aided by his hearty laugh and tolerance for just about anything thrown at him.
I kept my arm loose.
We had some fun exchanges while taping the pregame manager’s show for 105.7 The Fan, which was done via Zoom. One of my favorites occurred in the final week of the season, and it showed again how Hyde made it feel safe to get a little silly.
Second baseman Hanser Alberto was drilled in the groin by a Phillips Valdez pitch in a Sept. 24 game at Fenway Park. Valdez had replaced Domingo Tapia and did a lot more than just tap Alberto.
Any guy watching at home had to cringe.
Alberto was able to laugh about it - as he does with just about everything - as Hyde and an athletic trainer came out of the dugout to check on him. He stayed in the game, scored on Ryan Mountcastle’s single and delivered a two-run double in his next at-bat to complete a 13-1 win.
Not all heroes wear capes.
Hyde wasn’t the only one with a tolerance for anything thrown at him.
I usually have at least four minutes of airtime to fill on the pregame show and the number of questions depends on the length of Hyde’s answers. The order can depend on my mood.
Let’s be honest, topic ideas begin to dry up late in a season, including the ones that are shortened to 60 games. There are only so many times that Hyde can be asked about the upcoming starting pitcher, a team’s slump, a player’s injury, a prospects improvement.
So I decided to ask about Alberto’s reaction to the groin shot, failing in the process to keep it from getting weird.
Me: “Hanser Alberto still in the lineup after taking a pitch in the groin area, which he was able to laugh about, which I guess is typical Hanser. But something that’s a little painful to watch from the dugout?”
Hyde (after long pause): “I would say so, yes. Yes. When I went out there, you wonder where he got hit, and when he lets you know it makes your stomach drop a little bit. But his reaction ... it’s so hard not to laugh. Gosh. That’s the worst part about it. The three of us are out there and he’s in pain and unfortunately it’s kind of funny. But, yeah, it grazed him. It was a graze and not a full-blown, all-the-way 100 mph to it. It was a graze, that’s why we were able to laugh about it.”
Me: “Anthony Santander named Most Valuable Oriole earlier today ...”
Hyde: “You want to keep talking about that, Roch?”
Me: “I’m trying to transition. It’s really tough to do.”
Hyde: “Is there a follow-up? Is there a follow-up?”
Me: “How painful was it to lose Anthony Santander to the oblique injury?”
Now, let me say that I was pretty proud of myself for how I was able to segue to Santander on my second attempt. And grateful for the laughs, which will stay with me throughout the offseason.
I’ll resist the urge to post a “today’s question” about shared experiences.