I’m not sure if Florida Grapefruit League Opener is the right term for what the Baltimore Orioles will do tonight. And consequently I’m not sure that we should even use the term exhibition opener. We certainly could use it, and I did in the title. But…I think you get my gist.
In accordance with the return to play agreement, MLB teams were allowed to schedule up to three exhibition games leading into the season. So as has been previously reported, the O’s will head to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia tonight, then home tomorrow evening against Washington, and then against Washington again on Tuesday at Nationals Park. That gives them two full days (plus much of Friday) to get ready for the regular season.
This of course is a season that’s everything BUT regular. It’s almost shocking to me to think that I’m writing about a real game tonight that the Orioles will be playing. I still remember the day that everything was canceled back in March – the O’s had a 6 PM game at Minnesota (in Fort Myers, FL), and while everyone knew the game would probably be canceled nothing official had come down the pike. The Oriole buses made it five minutes out of Ed Smith Stadium before being turned around to go back. And that’s where we left off…
…until tonight. Now mind you folks, if exhibition games are vanilla in nature and have next-to-no pizzazz to them, these three exhibition games will probably be worse than what we’re used to. This isn’t spring training; spring training is fun and light-hearted, everyone’s in Florida enjoying the weather and the beaches, and fans get more access to players. These games will be games that don’t count played in empty ballparks with piped in crowd noise.
And perhaps that in and of itself is part of the reasoning as to why these games are going to be played. Yes it helps teams get ready for a very irregular regular season. However playing in empty parks is going to be a big change. Better to be accustomed to it before it counts for real.
One thing of concern, John Means was meant to start this game, putting him on line to start Friday in Boston (Opening Day). However Means was scratched due to what might be termed mild “dead arm.” It’s unclear if he’ll be ready to go on Friday.
As is aforementioned in this column, the O’s head to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia for tonight’s game. Tom Eschelman gets the start for the Orioles, and at this moment Philadelphia is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.