Kamenetz Declares Thursday “Orange You Pumped?” day in Baltimore County
All County Citizens and Employees Encouraged to Wear Oriole Orange to Work
Towson, MD (September 6, 2012) – Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz may be attending the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, but he is tuned into ESPN, keeping track of Orioles’ late season charge to overcome the Yankees and win the division.
Getting caught up in Oriole Magic, the County Executive declared Thursday, September 6 “Orange You Pumped?” day in Baltimore County. ”I can’t think of a better day to paint the town orange than this Thursday,” said Kamenetz. ”Baltimore County’s resident Iron Man Cal Ripken will have his statue dedicated early that evening and the Orioles will begin a four-game series against the Yankees with a golden opportunity to shock the baseball world. I hope everyone will wear orange to work that day, and I hope that later that night Camden Yards will be a sea of orange. You just have to love Buck and this team. It’s a different hero every night.”
If I understand the way the math works, the Baltimore Orioles’ magic number to clinch an American League Wild Card spot currently sits at 48.
I really felt the need to tell you that because for some goofy reason I sat and worked on it Sunday while I was supposed to be watching the Baltimore Ravens practice at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Congratulations Birds, you’ve successfully gotten me to take attention away from the Ravens and place it on the orange and black. The moment has actually occurred. I’m blown away.
The magic number is 48.
That means that if the total combination of O’s wins combined with losses (individually) from any other team in the Wild Card race reaches 48 before the end of the season the now 15 year playoff draught will officially be over.
It means the Birds will be playing on Friday, October 5 as part of Major League Baseball’s first ever Wild Card play-in games.
I honest to God can’t believe I’ve just typed all of this.
It’s time to cue the music.
I feel like it’s safe to say that I’ve been as reluctant (if not more reluctant) than anyone in town to accept this as an actual, realistic possibility. And if truth me told I would still say “no” if an assailant questioned my belief that the Orioles make the playoffs with a gun pointed to my temple.
It might seem like a four game split with the Kansas City Royals at home would be an odd time for me to suddenly stand and pledge allegiance to the “Why Not?” bandwagon, but…you know…Machado and all.
My original idea for my weekly “Reality Check” column was to write about the realities of 3B Manny Machado’s hot start (6-16, 3HR, 7RBI in four games). I had planned to say “I hate to be the bad guy, but let’s remember that the most likely scenario is that Machado won’t be able to continue this success for the rest of the season or likely even for the rest of August.”
I had intended to say something along the lines of “American League pitchers will likely end up catching up with Machado, who also won’t have the benefit of facing Kansas City Royals pitching every time out.” I was going to add thoughts along the lines of “let’s not forget that even OF Xavier Avery collected 10 hits in his first eight games after getting called up to Baltimore earlier in the season.”
I probably would have mentioned that in the coming week Machado would have to go up against veteran pitchers like Red Sox starters Josh Beckett (albeit a Beckett that has struggled mightily in 2012) and Clay Buchholz as well as reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers. It’s a bit more legitimate than a group of KC starters that included Will Smith, Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen.
I also think I would have mentioned that Machado had not hit .300 in a single month while playing in the Eastern League this season, making a market correction from a very hot start to August seem likely at some point.
That’s what I WAS going to do. But for some reason, it just didn’t stick.
As we’ve repeated ad nauseum during the 2012 Orioles campaign, there is no statistical explanation for why the Birds have won 62 of their first 115 games. Those of us who have been watching understand that the team has benefitted from an incredible bullpen, a number of home runs, great success in close games and expert guidance from AL Manager of the Year candidate Buck Showalter.
That’s why I couldn’t write the Machado column. I didn’t have it in me.
Maybe there IS a chance Machado can continue to make significant contributions as a 20 year old in a lineup that has been seeking an additional spark. The Birds don’t have a full season .300 hitter in their lineup, but they’ve managed to get continued contributions from unexpected places.
Career journeyman INF Omar Quintanilla is batting .328 in just 20 games sense being acquired in a deal with the New York Mets. Veteran (and by “veteran” I mean “washed up”) OF Nate McClouth has eight hits in his first 24 AB’s since being called up from the Norfolk Tides. Even the miserable bat of Mark Reynolds (.211 and just nine home runs in 289 AB’s) provided what proved to be the game winning RBI in Sunday’s win over KC.
I don’t think it can be sustained. I didn’t think it could be sustained two months ago. I was wrong then. Maybe I’m wrong now. I don’t think I’m ever going to understand exactly how all of this has happened this way this season.
So can Manny Machado keep contributing to an Orioles team pushing towards an appearance in the postseason?
I hypothetically asked the question a few weeks ago on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net.
“If the Baltimore Orioles are able to remain in the postseason hunt into September, will it have any impact at all on how you watch/support the Baltimore Ravens in September?”
I pointed out at the time that the two teams did not have games scheduled at the same time at all during September. (The Ravens’ Week 1 Monday night and Week 4 Thursday night primetime home games come on scheduled off days for the Birds. The Week 2 game at Philadelphia is scheduled for 1pm while the O’s are scheduled to play after 4 in Oakland. The Ravens’ Week 3 game also happens in primetime while the Birds take the field in Boston at 1pm.) There would be no direct conflict unless there is a weather related reschedule, or possibly if the Orioles were to make the postseason.
The truth is that there is no basis for comparison when it comes to how Charm City sports fans would treat this short crossover period. The Orioles’ last run to the postseason came in 1997, before the Ravens had captured the collective imaginations, hearts and back accounts of the Mid-Atlantic region’s sports fans. If we date back to the time when the Baltimore Colts and Orioles shared the city; mass media consumption, television coverage and big business of sports were incomparable to 2012.
Reaction to the question was quite varied. Some fans said they wouldn’t change any priorities related to the Ravens because football simply had become more significant to them. Other fans said they couldn’t imagine making any early season football game a priority while the Orioles were in pursuit of their first playoff appearance in a decade and a half. Still others thought it impossible to think that they would have to alter the way they paid attention to or supported either franchise, stating that other cities (namely Boston and New York) have never appeared to struggle with the same problem.
For many, the topic remains the elephant in the room. It might actually happen, they just don’t want to talk about it. They’d rather say things like “let’s just see if the Orioles can hold up their end of the bargain.” The Orioles however took the opportunity Wednesday to remind you that not only does the elephant exist, it’s an actual f*cking elephant.
Perhaps the Baltimore Orioles’ decision to purchase the contract of Bowie Baysox INF (and former first round pick) Manny Machado and allow him to make his MLB debut Thursday night has nothing to do with the fact that the Ravens are opening the preseason against the Falcons in Atlanta.
Of course, perhaps the correlation is absolutely purposeful.
Perhaps the Orioles wanted to take a strike against the pro sports team in town whose success has relegated them to “orange-headed stepchild” status 364 days a year (yes, I’m giving the Birds Opening Day. Nothing more.)
Perhaps members of the Orioles organization had a conversation this week about the lackluster attendance figures at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the three games against the Seattle Mariners and said “this is probably going to be worse Thursday since fans will want to stay home and watch the football game. Let’s try to combat that somehow.”
Perhaps Peter Angelos (well…probably not Old Man Angelos but someone he allows to advise him and/or make decisions) is still pissed off about the Ravens’ Facebook jab from Opening Day and decided they wanted to put a dent in the football team’s television ratings-which will likely already be hurt by the fact that the game had to be moved from WBAL to WMAR and will be going up against the NBC affiliate’s continued Olympics coverage.
Perhaps there’s still bitterness for how the teams’ MASN-fueled relationship fell apart in 2010 and the Orioles wanted to flex their muscles a little bit to remind the Ravens they’re now working a network (Comcast SportsNet) that has clearly made the Washington Redskins a greater priority over the last two seasons.
Perhaps the Orioles are hoping they can play off the small bit of fan angst created when the Ravens ended their Westminster Training Camp tradition and win the hearts of young sports fans who are angry they can’t get autographs at McDaniel College. Perhaps they’re hoping to steal back part of an already small market that has partially abandoned the Orange and Black.
Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV).
Quote from Bovada.lv Sportsbook Manager, Kevin Bradley
“With the trade deadline passing Tuesday in Major League Baseball teams are stocking up on talent for their playoff runs. The biggest winners after the trade deadline were the Los Angeles Angles that moved form 10/1* to 15/2, the Los Angeles Dodgers moving from 22/1* to 14/1 and finally the San Francisco Giants that moved form 15/1* to 12/1.”
*Odds taken from 1 week before the trade deadline for comparison purposes
The good news is that no matter what happens before 4pm Tuesday, I won’t have to wear a Hooters outfit anywhere.
That’s good news for all of us.
If the Baltimore Orioles had made a trade “of significance” before our WNST Baltimore Sports Media Superstar finals last week at Hooters, I had pledged to don the whole garb. I was going to show up to the event in the white tank top (with padding), orange booty shorts and tights. (I had a listener ask if I had also agreed to wax, and I said I had. Looking back, I have no idea why I said that.)
Thankfully, the acquisition of INF Omar Quintanilla (even after getting three quarters of the way to hitting for the cycle Sunday) could not be argued as “significant” by much of anyone.
Don’t get the wrong idea. This wasn’t some sort of fetish. I had ZERO interest in donning tights…unless I was given an offer to replace Christian Bale in the next Batman installment. But truth be told I would have happily squeezed into the shorts if it meant Josh Johnson had been pitching against the Oakland Athletics this weekend instead of the San Diego Padres.
Following Sunday’s win over the A’s, the Birds have gone 8-9 since the All-Star Break. They’ve lost 22 of the last 36 games they’ve played overall, but they’re still 53-49 overall and just two games back in the AL Wild Card race.
Quick, back to the negative. The O’s have a -58 run differential for the season and despite being tied for second place in the AL East, ESPN calculates that they have a 6.2% chance of making the postseason. Despite the statistic being meaningless, I figured I’d pass along that the two teams behind the Orioles in the division (the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox) are given an 18% and 21.9% “POFF” respectively by the Worldwide Leader.
Here we are.
I’ve maintained that there’s little way to explain the success of the 2012 Baltimore Orioles as anything other than “an accident”. It hasn’t happened because GM Dan Duquette put together an overwhelming level of talent on the field before the season. It hasn’t happened because the pitching staff matured to a point where the “cavalry” evoked visions of Palmer, Cuellar, McNally and Dobson in Charm City. It hasn’t happened because the lineup has figured out a way to get the one big hit necessary when given the opportunity. It definitely hasn’t happened because the team has stolen runs with good base running and taken away runs with stellar defense.
The only tangible ways to explain the success of the Baltimore Orioles to this point are a stellar bullpen, sound leadership from Buck Showalter and a surprising amount of power lead by CF Adam Jones.
Despite the fact that pitchers like Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Anibal Sanchez, Francisco Liriano and Wandy Rodriguez and capable position players like Ichiro, Hanley Ramirez and Chris Johnson aren’t available anymore, there are plenty of capable players that are.
I do not believe anyone is making smoke and mirrors available however.
(I’ve thought that it would be REALLY funny however if the Birds were to acquire recently demoted Seattle Mariners 1B Justin Smoak and Milwaukee Brewers 3B Aramis Ramirez. Get it? “Smoak and Ramirez?” I’m hilarious.)
I was in Paris when the Baltimore Orioles’ trade for veteran DH Jim Thome became official and didn’t get much of a chance to opine about it. My guess is that I would have politely said something along the lines of “sure, Jim Thome is better than no one, but is a part time DH with little left in the tank really going to make much of a difference?”
I’m glad I didn’t have the chance to say that. Boy would there be egg all over my face.
Thome has come to the plate in six of the Birds’ eight games since being acquired. He’s managed to collect five hits (all singles), score a run and drive in another. He’s also walked four times and struck out 11 times. He’s been far from terrible since arriving, but hasn’t really made much of a difference in the lineup either. The O’s have won three of the eight games they’ve played since acquiring Thome and enter the All-Star break without scoring a run over their last 21 innings.
The Birds finished the first half of the season with a 45-40 record, good enough for 2nd place in the AL East and currently holding what would be the second Wild Card spot in the American League. The troubling part is that over their last 19 games before the break, they compiled a 6-13 record and averaged scoring less than three runs per game during the stretch.
I don’t want to seem like I’m taking the Orioles’ pitchers off the hook during the stretch. The team allowed nearly 5.5 runs per game during the same stretch, demoting starting pitchers Tommy Hunter, Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta to AAA Norfolk in the process.
I’ll stop short of labeling the stretch “a disaster” for the Birds, but I’ll admit that I went through about ten minutes of inner monologue before I decided the term would be unfair.
I’m not particularly mad at Thome for not lighting the world on fire during his first week with the Orioles. It would be unfair to expect any player to become a serious catalyst in just one week, but there was absolutely zero reason to expect a soon to be 42 year old who hasn’t put up particularly good offensive numbers since 2008 to be the one to do it.
The truth is that the Thome acquisition is going to bug me until the Orioles decide they want to acquire players who are actually good.
I know WNST.net’s Drew Forrester said Sunday the Birds “had better” make moves to upgrade the team before the July 31 trade deadline. My column today isn’t just an echo of Forrester’s sentiments. My column is much more particular.
I’ve said for some time that the Birds cannot view their start to the 2012 season as a sign that they’re on the cusp of turning the page. There simply is not enough evidence of that being the case. There is significantly more evidence of the Birds experiencing good fortune thanks to a couple of nice pieces (OF Adam Jones, C Matt Wieters and P’s Jason Hammel & Jim Johnson notably) and an element of luck via injuries to rival teams.
I’m certainly not backing off of those statements. The start of the 2012 season is in NO WAYS a sign that the Birds’ “rebuilding” plan has worked, or that former executive Andy MacPhail and current GM Dan Duquette have put together a group of players that are just a year away from reaching greatness. The reality is that there just aren’t enough good players either currently at the Major League level or set to reach the majors in the next year or two to suggest the team will be able to win for more than half a season.
The players I mentioned before (Jones, Wieters, Hammel, Johnson) are good players. Unfortunately, that’s about where the list ends. OF Nick Markakis and SS JJ Hardy are supposed to be good players. SP Wei-Yin Chen and RP Pedro Strop have showed signs that they might be good players. P Dylan Bundy and SS Manny Machado are believed to be good players for the future. Thome and 2B Brian Roberts USED to be good players. 3B Mark Reynolds and 1B Chris Davis (or is that 1B Mark Reynolds and OF Chris Davis?) are players you want to believe are good but you know better.
If I were headed in the direction of Las Vegas soon, I’d be at least interested enough to stop by the MGM Grand Sportsbook.
I can’t fathom they have odds set for “Do the Baltimore Orioles make a significant move before the July 31 Major League Baseball trade deadline?”, but I would think I could convince someone to let me place a bet. I don’t think it will surprise anyone that my bet would almost certainly be placed on “no.”
During my show “The Reality Check” (afternoons 2-6pm AM1570 WNST.net), I like to point out that if an entity has typically shown a certain type of behavior I will assume that behavior continues until proven wrong. It could be more easily defined as “a leopard does not change his spots”, but it might not totally be fair.
I have a doubt that the Birds will make a significant acquisition at the trade deadline because they have a history of not making such moves under the watch of owner Peter Angelos. Perhaps the last time the O’s made a significant trade deadline acquisition was when they dealt P Jimmy Haynes to the Oakland Athletics for RF/DH Geronimo Berroa in 1997.
Wait…that CAN’T be right. Can it?
It’s not totally fair for me to go down the “a leopard does not change his spots” road with this team because new General Manager Dan Duquette has never been in this position. Even if the Orioles have shown the propensity to be sellers more frequently than buyers over the years, Duquette hasn’t had the chance to show whether or not deadline deals are a possibility during his tenure in Charm City.
There are certainly other reasons why the Orioles might not add a major piece before August. As rumors/reports swirled last week about the team’s interest in Chicago Cubs OF Alfonso Soriano and P’s Matt Garza & Ryan Dempster, we received a painful reminder that the organization simply does not have an overwhelming amount of young talent at its disposal with which to use as bait. The organization’s most valuable commodities (P Dylan Bundy and INF Manny Machado) are players so highly regarded it’s hard to imagine a willingness to discuss their availability. Other young INF’s (Jonathan Schoop, Nick Delmonico and Jason Esposito) as well as P’s (Parker Bidwell, Mike Wright, Bobby Bundy and Oliver Drake) seem unlikely to net a player of significant consequence.
With these topics swirling, Duquette fielded questions from season ticket holders at the annual “State of the Team” event Saturday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. When asked about the immediate future of the 2012 Orioles, Duquette delivered a line (according to the Baltimore Sun) that would easily draw roaring applause and look pretty in headlines everywhere.
“We are in contention, so we are going to do whatever we can to make the playoffs.”
Center fielder Adam Jones has jumped up to fourth place among American League outfielders. He is still the top-ranking vote-getter among Orioles players with 1,959,207 votes and is closing in on Toronto’s Jose Bautista (1,996,940 votes) for the final starting OF spot.
Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy are both in third place among their positions with 1,242,247 and 968,963 votes, respectively. Other Orioles in the running include Robert Andino, who is in fifth place among second basemen and Nick Markakis ranks 13th in the AL outfield race.