The Baltimore Orioles welcome in the New York Yankees tonight for a four-game set at Camden Yards. Ironically that’s a longer series than normal, but it amounts to the shortest home stand of the year. Once everyone gets settled in at home, it’ll be back out on the road after Thursday’s matinee game – to Denver, for a three-game road swing before coming home again!
Everyone knows that the Orioles are rebuilding. That’s why their record overall isn’t as big of an issue as it was last year at this time. Nobody expects them to be good. Not now at least. However, they’re playing a team that had a similar moment a few years ago when they were about the rebuild. However New York not only tore down, retooled, and rebuilt in seemingly one fatal swoop, they thrived while doing it.
Heck, in 2016 when they traded for the likes of guys like Aaron Judge, they actually improved after knocking down what was in place previously. Consider that for a moment; the season was going south (by New York standards), they sold, and they actually improved. They made an outside run at the post season that year, but fell short (they fell short to the Orioles, who won the second Wild Card in the American League).
This year however, they have the biggest single excuse NOT to be good: injuries. Yet they still are. Regardless of who they plug into the lineup, he seems to produce. They signed Kendrys Morales last week, of course who’s an aging slugger. Granted he’s only had 13 plate appearances, but he’s hitting .300. This as opposed to .200 to that point with Oakland. Heck most recently, they took first place from Tampa over the weekend, in a series that featured New York with a seven-run inning in yesterday’s game. A seven-run inning from a group of guys put together with mud and spit?
Speaking of Tampa, they have something similar going on. Last year I all but scoffed at them trading literally everyone of note who had been on their team away. In doing so, they acquired what rightfully should have been single-A talent. That team of single-A talent finished with 90 wins last year, and is probably on it’s way to doing something similar this season. With guys of whom nobody’s ever heard.
So what do those teams have that the Orioles do not? I think that a certain small percentage of the fan base expected something similar to occur in Baltimore this season. That the team would show up and just blow everyone away. And for a week or so in the very beginning, they were raking in the wins. So again, what gives?
It’s well-known that the Orioles over a long period of time have made mistakes in their scouting – both of players for their own organization, and for players in other organizations. Both New York and Tampa have made it their business to know their competitors as well as they know themselves. That’s a tough thing to do. But you see the results, against of course what the Orioles’ results have been to this point.
This is not to say that the current crop of Orioles are simply a band of misfits thrown together by chance or as a matter of convenience. Most of the guys earned their roster spots in spring training. And we’ve already seen a few diamonds in the rough, such as Dwight Smith Jr., and Richie Martin.
The Orioles are just going about their rebuild differently, basically because they have to. They’re building the organization back up in a brick and mortar type of manner – similar to how the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs did a few years ago. And go figure, current Orioles’ GM Mike Elias was a part of that organization, and current manager Brandon Hyde was a part of the Chicago Cubs’ organization.
So if I were Orioles fans, I wouldn’t put too much stock in why New York or even Tampa was immediately good again, and the O’s aren’t. As I said, the organization is building up in a different manner. Neither way is right or wrong, although New York/Tampa’s way does actually yield to instant gratification. But the goal is to have sustained success as an organization, which is what the Orioles are building towards doing. If that happens in the next few years, the process will have been a success. The ends justify the means.
The Baltimore Orioles should be praising the New York Yankees and MLB this afternoon/evening. They came to a decision to post phone tonight’s game before making the teams and fans wait through a ridiculous rain delay and so forth. The players and coaches certainly wish that had been the case last night!
Last night’s game of course will be made up tomorrow afternoon in the first game of a straight doubleheader. Normally I give the starting pitchers of course, however that’s unclear for both teams given tonight’s rain out and the fact that there are two games tomorrow. Game time is set for 3 PM at Yankee Stadium, with game two set to begin approximately 25-30 minutes after the completion of the first game. (Both teams will also get a 26th roster player for the second game.)
You’re liable to see something new in baseball everyday, and in fact I saw something I had never seen before this evening with the Baltimore Orioles in the Bronx. It rained in NY all day, and more rain is expected tomorrow. The New York Yankees announced that the game would start at 7:45 PM.
But that never happened; the field itself was still soaked. The managers, umpires, grounds crew, etc. got together on the field several times over the course of an hour or so. It appeared that they were actively trying to play the game, although the field conditions seemed to indicate that wasn’t possible.
The game was officially canceled at approximately 8:45 PM – one hour after they thought they’d be able to start the game. However this was just a bizarre scene; the coaches walking the field and nobody seeming to know what was going on. At various points Oriole coaches looked incredibly frustrated; almost as if they felt their hands were being tied and they were being forced to play despite the field conditions. It took a bit of time, but the right decision was eventually made.
The game will be made up on Wednesday as part of a single-admission doubleheader. This is the third time this year the O’s will have gone through that routine, however the first game will begin at 3 PM. The second one will commence approximately 25 minutes after the completion of the first one.
As of now, tomorrow’s game is expected to be played at Yankee Stadium. David Hess gets moved into tomorrow’s starting slot for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s J.A. Happ. Game time is set for just after 6:30 PM.
Baltimore Orioles’ majority owner Peter Angelos took the nearly unprecedented step in standing with the players during the 1994 Major League Baseball strike. That ruffled a lot of feathers in the league office, starting with commissioner Bud Selig. And the reverberations of that are still being felt today.
For the record, my personal opinion is that Angelos was right to stand with the players. Either way, you have to admire bucking the hand that feeds him to stand up for what he believed. That aside, he’s been unpopular in the league offices since then. The fact that he was able to in essence hoodwink the league into owning the television rights to the Washington Nationals didn’t help.
Last week the Nationals were allegedly awarded in excess of $100 million in back pay for the rights to their games on MASN from 2012-2016. While that’s more than MASN and the Orioles wanted to pay, it’s also significantly less than the $288 million that the Nationals initially wanted. MASN of course may or may not appeal the decision.
Peter Angelos of course is in ailing health, and his sons John and Lou have been running the team for well over a year. MLB has asked the Orioles to clarify who’s in charge of the team. In essence however, if John and Lou are being gifted the team or if they inherit it when their father dies, 2/3rds of the owners still have to approve them as the new owners. (As an example, Washington Nationals owner Ted Lerner in essence gifted the team to his son Mark last year. The other owners approved it, and on they went.) Votes like that are normally formalities, because no owner wants to set a precedent that his family could be voted out of owning his team/company. However the potential is there for the league to not approve the Angelos sons, at which point the team would have to be sold.
Why is this all important now? Over the weekend, Attorney Ben Neil was a guest on Bruce Cunningham’s show on the Orioles’ flagship radio station, 105.7 “the fan” WJZ-FM. He mentioned that he’s heard on good authority that the league wants the Orioles to move, preferably to Las Vegas. Neil didn’t say how he had heard this information, or who his source was. He simply said that these were MLB’s wishes. He also said that a $3 million dollar offer either was or had been on the table to move the team to Vegas when the current lease at Camden Yards expires after 2021.
To be frank, this is heresy at this point. The Program Director of WJZ, Chuck Sapienza, tweeted a disclaimer of sorts yesterday in that these were unsubstantiated rumors and should be taken as such. But…should Orioles fans take this with a grain of salt?
Baltimore fans remember all too well that teams can move – often in the dead of the night. It’s easy to say the team will never move, or that MLB would never want to leave Camden Yards vacant. But certainly after the Colts left, you can forgive people for being skeptical.
Furthermore connect the dots of what I said above. The league office has multiple axes to grind with Peter Angelos and thus by extension the Angelos family – justified or not. Would taking the team away from him or his family and then moving them out of the city that they all love not grind that ax?
The league itself can’t just up and move a team. However if Mr. Neil’s comments are in fact true, it sounds like they’re trying to make that happen – again, IF Mr. Neil’s comments are true. The league could either be trying to pay their way out of Baltimore, or force a sale. And the league could then very easily make a condition of the sale being that the team has to move to Vegas.
How likely is any of this to happen? Probably not very likely, even given the political stuff I mentioned above. However Orioles fans should know that regardless of what they think of the current ownership, the Angelos family is the biggest proponent that they have in terms of the team staying in Baltimore long term.
My personal opinion is that while relocation is probably unlikely, I doubt Mr. Neil made up that story. It was intended as a call to arms to Orioles fans. On a civic level, it’s up to you to do your part to ensure that the team stays here. I can’t tell you what “doing your part” means, because I’m trying to figure that out myself. But ultimately fan empathy, or simply dismissing the idea as ridiculous plays right into the hands of forces who might seek to move the team.
What I can tell you is that while I have a small voice in the grand scheme of people who cover the Orioles, I do have a voice with this column. And I’m going to put the full force of that voice behind keeping the Orioles in Baltimore forevermore.
The Baltimore Orioles were lucky that they mustered five hits off of Tampa’s starter Glasnow this evening. He turned in a dominant performance, keeping the Birds off the base paths. Dan Straily started for the O’s, and Tampa was quick to pounce. Straily’s line: 4.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 2 K.
Straily surrendered a double to lead off the game, and then Pham’s RBI-single subsequently, which came on a check swing. Tampa’s good, but they’re also lucky. A check-swing base hit which ended up in the right field corner. Imagine that for just a moment – I suppose better lucky than good.
Straily settles down – for a short period. In the third he surrendered a three-run homer to Zunino, giving Tampa a 4-0 lead. Zunino came into the game hitting .195, and smacked a three-run homer.
Tampa would also muster two additional runs in the latter innings, which gave them some insurance in a sense. But Glasnow and later the Tampa bullpen dominated the Orioles’ lineup. The good news I suppose is that Glasnow won’t be pitching in either of the remaining two games in the series.
As I’ve said ad hoc, Tampa plays a lot of different oddities as part of their game. If there was an analytical stat which said they’d play better if they wore spandex they’d try it. You have to be prepared for their antics. Often they change defenses square in the middle of at-bats. Before you know what’s going on, you’ve hit the ball right to them.
The series continues tomorrow night at Camden Yards. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s, and as this is being written Tampa is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.
The Baltimore Orioles now have an impromptu night off in Chicago. This evening’s game against the ChiSox has been rained out. This, due to very poor weather in the greater Chicagoland area.
The game will be made up tomorrow as part of a straight (traditional) doubleheader. Not that it matters to fans in Baltimore, but that’s one admission, two games. For the record, this means that both teams will get the benefit of a 26th roster spot for the second game.
Game one will begin at 4:10 PM (EST) at Guaranteed Rate Field, with game two beginning 25-30 minutes after the completion of the first game. David Hess gets the start for the O’s in game one, and he’ll be opposed by Chicago’s Ivan Nova.
The Baltimore Orioles will start Alex Cobb in tonight’s series opener in Minnesota. Cobb you might remember came off the Injured List last weekend just in time to get run out of the ballpark by the same Minnesota team he’s facing tonight. So the question is how healthy is Cobb?
Perhaps the bigger question should be how much rehabbing has he done, and how effectively at that? When Cobb came off the IL (due to a lumbar strain) he didn’t spend any time in the minors on a rehab assignment. He said he felt good, but his rehab was pitching simulated games. Again, this as opposed to a rehab assignment.
Just as spring training games are important to get guys ready for the season, I really feel that rehab assignments are important for injured players. Even if the player’s been out of commission for a short period, it still helps you to get your timing back a bit, and to see live game action. Simulated games are fine, but they aren’t live bullets. There’s a big difference.
Cobb could have taken that type of beating in a minor league game, and then perhaps been ready to come back to the Orioles when he was right. At the end of the day, they opted to do a simulated game – certainly their choice. But the question is whether or not that was the right choice. Tough to say.
The series in Minnesota begins tonight at Target Field. The aforementioned Alex Cobb will get the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Martin Perez. Game time is set for just after 8 PM.
On a personal note, you can still follow the Birds here on http://www.birdlandcrush.com, and via my Twitter feed. However you might notice some oddities regarding the timing of the columns and in-game tweets. Unfortunately for you, the Orioles aren’t my first priority this weekend – I’ll be attending my sister’s wedding over the weekend. So again, you can expect game recaps as normal, just well after the games have ended. Sorry folks, this is kind of a big deal!
Prior to last night’s 4-3 victory over Chicago the Baltimore Orioles announced that they had consummated a trade of pitcher Mike Wright to Seattle. Wright of course had been DFA’d on Monday, and had been in limbo ever since. Manager Brandon Hyde had hoped that Wright would have cleared waivers and remained in the organization, but it was not to be.
In return for Wright, the Birds acquired infield prospect Ryne Ogren, who was immediately assigned to single-A Delmarva. In his first year of pro ball last year, the 22-year old Ogren hit .250 with an OPS of .700. He saw time at second, short, and third.
The Orioles got to a point with Wright where they couldn’t sustain him in the rotation. Given that he was out of options, they had no choice but to DFA him. So given those things, they got a good return for him. Wright now becomes a candidate to be a “change of air” type of guy. For his sake, I hope that Orioles fans join me in wishing him well.
Lots of people were talking about the strike one call in the ninth inning of yesterday’s Baltimore Orioles loss to Minnesota. I wrote about it myself, in fact. Needless to say, it was a horrible call. That should have been ball four, and the game should have been tied.
I think the most frustrating part was that the Orioles had been trying to get that exact pitch location called a strike all day. And Oriole pitchers had been hitting that spot consistently – and it was consistently called a ball. But then Minnesota hits that spot, and it’s a called strike. With the game on the line.
A lot of people tweeted me saying that robot umpires would take care of this problem. And I couldn’t disagree more. Granted you’d still need a home plate ump to operate the machine, and to call things such as safe/out. However I’m squarely in the camp which says robots calling games aren’t the answer. And quite frankly, my reasons are cliche.
People who are all in favor of this method say they want to hear why there shouldn’t be robot umpires, and they don’t want to hear because that’s not how it’s always been. Well…humans umpiring games is just how things have always been. And that is in fact as good a reason as any. Do folks really want to change the game THAT much?
But you’re asking for a better reason than that – I get it. So here’s one; could those robots not be hacked? In the age of computers and technology, everyone’s account for anything could be hacked. So does MLB really want to run the risk that someone could hack a robot and perhaps influence game outcomes? As big as gambling is becoming, do we think someone might not try to do that?
My personal opinion is that umpires just need to buckle down and be more consistent. Maybe longevity of service should be looked at more stringently. This in the sense that perhaps some younger umpires should be calling more games. Furthermore, what happens if a manager for instance were to prove that even a machine isn’t calling the game properly? Where do we turn then?
Part of my point is that not everything has to change. I recognize that MLB wants to do what it’s audience thinks it wants to see. But…does the game have to fundamentally change in order to do that?
I probably didn’t need to tell you that the Baltimore Orioles weren’t going to play tonight. All you probably had to do was look out the window and see what the weather is bringing us in the mid-Atlantic region. In short, not good.
So the first game of the Birds’ series with the Minnesota Twins will not be played tonight. It will however be played tomorrow. Along with tomorrow night’s regularly scheduled game.
The Orioles and Minnesota will play a traditional doubleheader tomorrow at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. That means you get to see two games for the price of one – good deal, right?! Game one will begin at 4 PM, with the second game starting approximately 20-25 minutes after the completion of the first one.
Fans with tickets for tonight’s game can exchange them for a later date – including the doubleheader. (Tickets for Friday night will not be automatically honored for Saturday.) If you have tickets for the scheduled Saturday game, you’re in luck – you now get to see two! Alex Cobb gets the start for the O’s in game one, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Jose Berrios.