Cumberland Times-News

July 20, 2013

A night at the theater

Mike Burke
Cumberland Times-News

— Friday, July 19, 6:26 p.m., and Nathan texts, “Baseball back! But I will be at the Cumberland Theatre for a play. Keep me updated if you can. I’m taking one for the team tonight.”

Aside from the fact that “The Producers” is a wonderful play, Nathan doesn’t realize how lucky he is to be spending a night at the theater. Most summer evenings he spends taking days off his life by eating his guts out over every pitch of an Orioles game. Thus, it is on me to further shorten his life with updates of the Orioles-Rangers game that is to be televised on MASN2 at 8 p.m. — Orioles pregame at 7:30.

7:05: We begin our evening by easing into the stress of Orioles baseball by watching the Nationals-Dodgers game, which is airing on MASN. We’re not really watching, although Yasiel Puig has our curiosity and Stephen Strasburg is pitching.

7:58: With the Dodgers leading 2-1, we turn the game to MASN2. The Orioles pregame is not on; an infomercial for is.

8:02: As we look into some woman’s giant eyeballs, we begin to wonder what happened to the Orioles.

Our friend Sharon has joined us for the game and, in the words of Tom Bosley, she doesn’t love the Orioles, she needs the Orioles. Sharon is the first to wonder aloud, “Why isn’t the Orioles game on? Where is the Orioles game? It started at 8:05 and it’s not on.”

“This happens sometimes when the game is on MASN2,” I say. “Usually the infomercial is about the wonder of coin collecting. The last time I remember this happening Teddy Ballgame, Washington Nationals fan and affable man about town, called Atlantic Broadband and they hit the switch. It’ll be on.”

“It had better be,” Sharon says.

“MASN was created to show the Orioles and Nationals games,” I assure her. “It will be on.”

“And I said,” says Sharon as though it were up to me to hit the switch, “it ... had better be.”

8:11: Nathan texts, “Any score?”

8:12: I text, “Game not on. Minerals infomercial.”

8:12: Nathan texts, “Hah! I appreciate you trying to make me feel better ... But I’m sure the game is on.”

I actually deserve this because I’ve lied to Nathan so many times about the Orioles I’ve lost track. I once had him believing the Orioles signed Josh Hamilton for three years and $51.5 million and he was so happy I thought he was going to have an accident. But anyway ...

8:12: I text, “It is not on as of yet. It’s on (channel) 48 ... Hello?”

8:16: My friend Matt, who has planned an evening of catching up with his wife and daughter, who were away all week, by watching the ballgame, texts, “Is the Oriole game not on?”

8:19: I text, “Doesn’t appear to be.”

8:20: Having learned more about 10-in-1 volumizing mascara, sunless tanner, foundation, multi-wrinkle repair and seductive neutrals for the eyes than we ever cared to, we are becoming uneasy. Word reaches us that the Orioles have gone ahead 1-0 on a Matt Wieters home run. The French underground is still the best at what they do.

Receiving this word, however, does not seem to please Sharon. In fact, Sharon is not very happy at all. She has missed a Matt Wieters home run, so she fires off a Facebook message to MASN: “Why isn’t the Orioles game on Atlantic Broadband?”

MASN responds, “Are you in Cumberland?”

“Funny,” I say, trying to cut the tension in the air. “I ask myself that a lot.”

Nervous laughter from me; a stare that could penetrate steel from Sharon.

At this point it becomes clear Sharon is rather agitated and I grow increasingly nervous. She fires off an email to MASN, asking in no uncertain terms, “Why am I not watching the Orioles game?”

8:29: MASN emails back to Sharon, “We contacted Atlantic Broadband and notified them of the issue, they are currently in the process of resolving the issue. If the game does not come on in the near future please contact Atlantic Broadband directly for further assistance.”

I come to find my brother Kevin was on the phone to Atlantic Broadband at this time for over 20 minutes waiting for an answer. My brother also has a deep need for Orioles baseball, and knowing his patience for things such as this, I find retrospective comfort in having been with Sharon and not him.

8:40: Matt, who is very similar to my brother in temperament when something he has paid for is not delivered, has something else in common with Kevin, as Matt texts, “I emailed MASN and they said call Atlantic Broadband. Been on hold for 22 minutes and counting.”

8:40: Just as the woman on the screen is about to stick something in one of her giant eyeballs, the game comes on.

Sharon puts down her phone. I mop my brow. She tunes us out. The Orioles are on; she has more important matters to contend with.

8:42: I text to Matt, “It’s on now.”

8:42: Matt texts, “It’s on.”

8:44: Matt texts, “I hung up after 23 minutes on hold with no answer. This is totally (unjust) and MASN says it’s company’s fault and ABB will say it’s MASN’s fault. Customer is the only person that gets (wronged).

9:40: Nathan texts, “Intermission ... play is actually great.”

10:57: Bill texts, “The blonde in the red behind left-handed batters has (very attractive physical qualities).

11:05: Nathan texts, “Got to the car to hear the last inning! ... The play was great. Funny ... and acting was really good.”

11:06: MASN texts, “Chen allows one run in 6 1/3 innings, leading O’s to 3-1 win over Rangers. ‘O’s Xtra’ airing now on MASN2.”

Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at