Drunk Hasselhoff: An Exclusive, Authorized Interview as the Actor Talks Baseball, Berliners, and Angela Lansbury*

1983 Donruss Knight Rider #23

Interview by M. G.

MG: Danke, Fräulein. And if I may, that’s a lovely apron-dress thingy you’re wearing tonight.

[Barmaid walks away unamused.]

DH: (sighs) It’s called a dirndl.

MG: Ah, so she misunderstood. I thought perhaps she didn’t like me.

DH: Right. What paper did you say you’re with again?

MG: Paper? Come now, Hoff, you should realize it’s the digital age. After all, you’re “The King—

DH: “The King of the Internet.” Yeah, very funny.

MG: Huh, they’re showing baseball on TV. I would have thought these Germans would all be watching soccer.

DH: They were. I changed it.

MG: Wow. You better watch your back.

DH: They know me here, and I’m friends with Boris, the owner. Besides, the O’s are in the playoffs, dammit, so of course. . . . Wait—what the hell are you drinking?

MG: Uh, Heineken. Why?

DH: Nobody here drinks that shit. It’s not even German.

MG: The Dutch aren’t German?

DH: At least order a Becks or Bitburger.

MG: What are you drinking?

DH: Laphroaig (coughs), ten-year.

MG: Scotch isn’t exactly local.

DH: I’m making my way through the E.U. France is next.

MG: Which brings me to my first question: Now I understand it’s a sensitive topic, but what made you pick this place for our meeting?**

DH: For one, I prefer that you don’t know my hotel.

MG: Fair enough.

DH: You might be one of these crazies with “Looking for Freedom” as their ringtone. You just never know with fans: look what happened to Nancy Kerrigan.

MG: In truth, that wasn’t one of her fans; he was more a henchman for Harding.

DH: So if you were to, say, crack a pipe over my head in an alley later tonight, it could really be for someone else’s benefit.

MG: Right. Nothing personal against you.

DH: Oh, that makes me feel much better.

MG: You know what I meant, though: why did you pick here, a bar? I thought you were on the wagon—or is it off the wagon?

DH: It’s on, and I was more just clinging, kind of dragging in the dirt.

MG: Hanging on for dear life to a cheese burger.

DH: (grimaces) You had to go there.

MG: Sorry. . . . It doesn’t make up for it, but we do have something in common.

DH: You’ve been to Betty Ford?

MG: No, we grew up in the same place.

DH: (looks up at the game) You’re from Baltimore?

MG: Well, no—not really. It’s a small town an hour west—

DH: Frederick?

MG: Yes! You know, it was briefly the capital of Maryland at the start of the Civil War.

DH: Wasn’t it named after Frederick Douglass, the abolitionist?

MG: That’s a popular misconception.

DH: Guess what the folks in Baltimore call Frederick?

MG: What?

DH: Fredneck.

MG: Yeah, well, your name sounds like an onomatopoeia for your damn poofy hair.

DH: Onomatowhaty?

MG: Forget it. I guess you don’t spend as much time outdoors soaking up the rays as back in your Baywatch days, huh?

DH: Actually, you’d be surprised how much of that show was filmed on set.

MG: As popular as the show made you back in the states, you’re pretty well liked around here. You really parlayed that singing atop the Wall business into a career.

DH: What can I say? As far as audiences go, they’re absotutely wunderbar.

MG: That reminds me: I wanted to ask if I could have your autograph.

DH: I’d be delighted. Whaddya got?

MG: Would you sign my 1982 Knight Rider trading card set?

DH: The whole thing? That was like a fifty-card issue.

MG: Fifty-five.

DH: Christ.

MG: It’d really mean a lot to me. You know, I grew up on that show. Michael Knight was my role model; he practically raised me.

DH: That’s genuinely disturbing.

MG: Honestly, every Saturday afternoon—it was like my generation’s The Lone Ranger. I believe it was the lead-in for Murder, She Wrote. Of course, this was well into syndication.

DH: Gawd-damned Angela Lansbury. She showed her true colors in The Manchurian Candidate. Still I’ll admit she’s one fine strawberry shortcake.

MG: Yeah, I guess she used to be pretty sexy.

DH: Used to?

[In the background, the crowd on the television erupts with a home run hit by Baltimore.]

DH: [Tosses his drink back and slams it down.] This is it! This is the year!

MG: You think so?

DH: If Showalter can’t do it, nobody can.

MG: So how about it? Will you sign the cards?

DH: What’s in it for me?

MG: I’ll give you half of the proceeds when I sell them on E-bay.

DH: Hmm. Kid, I’ll tell you what: throw in a glass—no, make it a bottle of Pernod and you’ve got yourself a deal.

*This interview is neither exclusive nor authorized. And, of course, it’s probably not real.

**Note: Berlin’s Da Lichtenstein is well-known for catering to expats; hence Hasselhoff likely felt there was less chance of being spotted by eager fans and sycophants.

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Death, Burying the Dead, & the Orioles

In light of yesterday’s final demise of the O’s and many a pinned and crushed hope for this morning’s mournful Baltimoreans, David Salner’s “Opening Day” seems an oddly appropriate poem to close the Orioles’ postseason:

from David Salner’s Opening Day, ed

(Read the full poem by Salner in Cobalt‘s 2014 baseball theme issue, available online for free.)

Ephemera Found When You Move, Part I: Nostalgia-making of a Ticket Stub

Orioles vs. Brewers 9-13-92 ticket stub front

I don’t remember ever seeing the Baltimore Orioles play at Camden Yards, the place whose very name evokes feelings of an Arcadia or Camelot—some legend, myth, or fogged history. But apparently I did visit the cathedralesque ballpark with its once newly minted cast-iron gates, ochre-bricked arches, and sprawled, luxuriant lawns. Judging by the date printed on one bruised, lavender-hued ticket stub from when the Orioles played the Milwaukee Brewers on September 13, 1992, the inaugural season for Camden Yards, I was twelve years old at the time and thus likely accompanied by my dad. (According to Baseball-Reference, we were but two among 44,242 spectators in attendance.) A true Yankees fan born in Yonkers, though unfortunately raised in New Jersey, my dad must have suffered through the tedium of that daytime game between two relative non-contenders scrapping it out—and he all the while humoring, even accommodating a traitorous son’s burgeoning love for the Orioles. Or perhaps he suffered more my fanaticism for exorbitantly priced stadium hotdogs and souvenir bric-a-brac and my comparative inattention for the actual game. Whatever the case, the O’s eventually conceded in a 1-3 defeat with good ole Ben McDonald the losing pitcher of the afternoon. Sure it wasn’t a great game, or even a very important one for that matter. But it was my game. And although the memory has sadly faded from my always aging mind, thankfully the ticket stub still serves its truest, most admirable purpose: as memorabilia, nay memento. Now the game becomes meaningful—and I a new meaning make. Because even if I don’t remember, well, at least I can imagine.

Orioles vs. Brewers 9-13-92 ticket stub back

Showalter’s Stratagems

Game commentators, sportswriters, and couch critics alike seemed to cherish reporting on Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter and his latest eccentric training gimmick: his new water polo clock. Jocular chatter brewed throughout spring training and well into the opening weeks of the 2013 season. Were the Orioles still playing in the same league—much less the same sport? Not surprisingly, Showalter’s motives were far more practical than the amusing lore implied. He simply felt that the clock was an effective timing device during spring training fielding practice for calibrating a strict “internal clock” for his players.

Admittedly, this notion of a clock in baseball seems curious for a sport that historically shuns all manner of imposed time constraints—to say nothing of a lacking awareness of time in general. Particularly in recent decades, baseball continues to drag its feet with lengthy, elaborate, and some may hazard to say tedious gaps in the game: pitcher and batter rituals, almost comical sign exchanges, and intervals between pitches and swings. Apart from a speeding base runner, any urgent threat of time running out simply does not exist. For not unlike tennis or golf (and I say that begrudgingly), baseball of course knows nothing of game clocks, shot timers, or buzzers. Strangely, though, what Showalter valued most in the water polo clock was its emphasized feature of a countdown.*

But O’s fans need not fear: Camden Yards will not become the Water Polo Grounds. Sportswriter Jayson Stark on ESPN blogs assures Orioles fans that “No, the Orioles aren’t performing any PFPs underwater.” However, Showalter did commission some research and “determine[d] that the average hitter took 4.5 seconds to run to first base last season, [so] he then took that info to the next level,” naturally.

Showalter, quite rationally, further explains the origins of his new gizmo:

I’ve talked about this with our infield guys for three or four years. . . . How do we teach a clock? Everybody says, you’ve got to have that [internal] clock. Well, you don’t teach it. You can’t say, ‘Hey, slow down. You don’t have to hurry that much.’ You’ve got to go, ‘Here’s how much time you’ve got.’

Indeed, how do you “teach a clock?”

Well, apart from the countdown element, the clock’s salient buzzer appears to hold some additional appeal for training purposes—appeal for the trainer, not necessarily the trainee. Again, Stark explains:

So the concept here is to give players a sense of how their internal clock should function by supplying an external clock that pounds the amount of time they actually have into their noggins. The only downside is that, when that water polo clock hits zero, the shrill buzzer it uses to get that message across is also doing wonders for Advil business in the clubhouse.

The players concur: “‘I’d say it’s not the kind of buzzer you want to hear,’” [player Jason] Hammel chuckles. “‘It’s kind of like the alarm you get in the morning.’”

In any case, it seems to be working so far (although the season is still early at the time of this writing). The O’s currently sit in their division standings just behind the first-placed Boston Red Sox, as the Baltimore team boasts a winning record safely above the .500 mark—and in one of baseball’s tougher divisions. More relevant to Showalter’s spring training stratagems: as a team, Baltimore currently ranks first in fielding in MLB.

In fact, even with nary a reference to the water polo clock, some sportswriters genuinely discern this noticeably improved talent of timing in the Orioles. For example, speaking of young Manny Machado (currently at third base), The Baltimore Sun observes how “Machado’s internal clock is tuned pretty precisely.”

Leave it to seasoned manager Buck Showalter to find something new under the sun in a game as old as baseball. And while he’s certainly not as old as the game, Buck has been around for a while. . . .

1981-82 Arby'sBuck Showalter

Image courtesy of COMC.com.

*Note: there seems to be an absolute dearth of any available images of Buck’s infamous water polo clock. From various reports, however, it should be assumed that Showalter opted for an updated, digital clock system rather than some antique analog one (as fun as that would be).

Works Cited

Stark, Jayson. “To no surprise, O’s rotation far from settled.” Spring Training. ESPN, 19 Feb. 2013. Web. 27 April 2013.

The Official Site of the Baltimore Orioles. MLB Advanced Media, 2013. Web. 26 April 2013.

Vensel, Matt. “Manny Machado isn’t showing his age at third base.” The Baltimore Sun, 24 April 2013. Web. 25 April 2013.

McLouth!

This stunning sequence was pieced together from the Orioles vs. Bluejays game on Thursday (5-23-13) with still images courtesy of MLBN’s Plays of the Week. The good folks from Plays of the Week showcased Nate McLouth’s stadium-crashing catch as ranked ninth in top plays of the week. (All personal bias admitted, I believe the stellar play ranks even higher.) To be sure, it was a catch tailor-made for the highlight reels. What seems additionally striking is McLouth’s impassioned and purely sacrificial effort here. Take a look.

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See Nate.

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See Nate run.

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See Nate see.

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2013-05-29-5814See Nate catch!

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See Nate Crash!

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What’s almost as entertaining as McLouth’s outstanding catch is the onlooking young man donning his yarmulke. Watch his reaction. Though he came to the game sans fan gear, he’s clearly a Bluejays devotee.

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Watch him as he futilely tries to make the call for the officials.

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Another fan behind the young Jewish man even joins in, desperately signaling to umpires and cameras alike. The behavior of these Torontonians, these naysayers, suggests that McLouth dropped the ball–perhaps whilst out of sight behind the wall with his feet over his head. In excited agitation, these bluebirds thusly flap their French-Canadian wings in protest and allege the catch was no good, no good!

Oh, but it was good.

It was very, very good. . . .

And then it “turned ugly.”

The Baltimore Sun reports that one of those bluebirds soon turned to heckling and then chucked a soda or beer can on the field in McLouth’s direction. Thankfully, McLouth went unharmed by the beverage projectile (as if a half-empty aluminum can would injure him after such a stadium-diving display), and the offender was thereafter escorted away.

However, the real damage done in that same 6th inning was felt in another way by the O’s: when the Jays scored four more runs in what would be an ultimately brutal 6-12 Orioles loss.

But it was still a great catch–and no amount of ugliness can diminish the purity of that.