Who’s this Matt Wieters kid?

May 26, 2009 | Luke Jones

Matt Wieters

I suggest checking out http://www.mattwietersfacts.com/ to get an idea of what kind of hype—and pressure—this 23-year-old kid is facing as he makes his major league debut on Friday night.

While we all hope the above plaque will one day be a reality in Cooperstown, let’s just enjoy watching him grow as a big league catcher without expecting him to turn water into wine—this year anyway.

When was the last time an Oriole rookie’s debut received this much attention?  You would have to go back to Jeffrey Hammonds in 1993 (fourth overall pick in the 1992 draft) or Ben McDonald in 1989 (first overall pick earlier that year).  It would be hard to top the hype for Big Ben, but Wieters is certainly in contention.

The organization handled the Wieters’ situation correctly.  As much as Orioles fans wanted the instant gratification of seeing the young catcher on Opening Day, Andy MacPhail likely saved millions of dollars and an extra year before free agency by waiting to promote him.

And remember, don’t feel too badly for Wieters through all of this.  Critics easily forget the Orioles gave him a straight $6 million signing bonus in August 2007—the highest up-front payment in draft history.  The organization has more than taken care of him financially.

>  Tonight’s win has to make you feel good as an Orioles fan.  It’s well and good when players like Melvin Mora or Gregg Zaun—veterans with no future on this team—are the big offensive contributors, but the key performers tonight were all below the age of 26 and figure to be in the future plans of the organization.

Jason Berken looked like he belonged—already an improvement over Adam Eaton—and picked up his first major league win.

Adam Jones continued to pound the baseball, hitting his 11th home run of the season to put the Orioles ahead in the fifth inning, 3-2.

And not to be outdone, Nolan Reimold hit a two-run shot to the right-center bleachers to add to the lead in the sixth.  The young outfielder has shown very impressive power in his first two weeks of big league ball.

Quite a change from the meaningless wins of the past few years when Steve Trachsel would pick up a stray victory with Jay Payton and Kevin Millar hitting home runs.

At 20-26, it’s obviously been a frustrating year and doesn’t figure to get much better record-wise, but these types of wins have to make you feel hopeful.  It’s one thing to see the younger players in Baltimore, but it’s even better to see them actually contributing.

>  Please come out to Padonia Station tomorrow night at 7 PM for the Coors Light King of Baltimore Sportstalk Finals.  It’s been a fun and challenging competition, and I’m sad to see it come to an end.

I would like to thank Nestor Aparicio and the WNST staff for their vision and creativity in giving amateurs like me a chance to talk sports with the great city of Baltimore.  I’ve also enjoyed meeting the other competitors and wish them nothing but the best of luck tomorrow night.

From the time I was a little boy turning down the sound on the TV to broadcast the Orioles game and then writing an article about it for my dad to read, I’ve always had a passion for sports and media—and more specifically, Baltimore sports and media.  WNST has given me enough of a taste to continue pursuing this passion beyond tomorrow night.  There’s no doubt that it’s very hard work—especially in the dramatically evolving world of journalism and media, but if you truly love sports and love communicating, I cannot think of a better job in the world.

I hope to see you tomorrow night at Padonia Station.  It should be a lot of fun!

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