Tag Archive | "oriole park at camden yards"

Britton continues moving closer to Orioles return

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Britton continues moving closer to Orioles return

Posted on 21 May 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The first-place Orioles welcomed the red-hot Boston Red Sox to town to begin a three-game set on Monday, but all pre-game discussion centered around two players yet to step foot on the field in 2012.

Second baseman Brian Roberts appears closer than ever to making his long-awaited return to the field and may start a minor league rehabilitation assignment within the next week or two. Roberts and manager Buck Showalter have a date in mind to begin the assignment, but the organization is keeping it close to the vest in case of any unforeseen setbacks.

In an extensive interview with the gathered media in the clubhouse on Monday afternoon (you can hear his comments HERE), Roberts said it was unlikely he would report to Sarasota but would instead begin playing in minor league games — Double-A Bowie and Single-A Frederick would be the logical destinations based on their schedule of home games — when deemed ready by his doctors.

I’ll have much more on Roberts later at WNST.net, but it’s apparent the Orioles are talking in terms of when — not if — the veteran second baseman returns.

“Hopefully, that’s something that’s imminent,” said Showalter about a rehab assignment. “We’ve got a plan in place, and 99 percent of it is based on what Brian and his doctors are talking about. We’re at the point where there’s a potential date involved.”

Left-handed pitcher Zach Britton is moving closer to a return after pitching in an extended spring training game in Sarasota on Monday. He threw 69 pitches over five innings and will have another workday on Wednesday. If all goes to plan, Britton could report to an affiliate to officially begin his minor league rehab assignment on Saturday.

Britton hasn’t suffered any setbacks since being placed on the 15-day disabled list late in spring training, and it appears the 24-year-old could find his way back to Baltimore by mid-June, which would create the interesting question of who he might replace in the rotation. Given the pitching woes of the last decade, that would be a welcome problem to have.

The news wasn’t as positive on relief pitcher Matt Lindstrom (finger) as he will not be ready to come off the disabled list on Saturday. He will likely go on a brief rehab assignment, and Showalter said it will likely be another two weeks or so until he’s ready to return to the 25-man roster.

Third baseman Mark Reynolds (strained oblique) is also close to going on a minor league rehab assignment. Meanwhile, veteran infielder Miguel Tejada reported to Triple-A Norfolk over the weekend and was scheduled to bat cleanup and play third base for the Tides on Monday.

Here are Monday night’s lineups…

Boston
SS Mike Aviles
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
1B Adrian Gonzalez
3B Will Middlebrooks
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
LF Daniel Nava
CF Marlon Byrd
RF Che-Hsuan Lin

SP Clay Buchholz (4-2, 7.77 ERA)

Baltimore
LF Xavier Avery
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Chris Davis
3B Wilson Betemit
DH Nick Johnson
2B Robert Andino

SP Tommy Hunter (2-2, 4.78 ERA)

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Buck Showalter, Brian Roberts, and Jim Johnson here and follow WNST on Twitter for live updates and analysis from Camden Yards throughout the evening.

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After being on wrong end of history, Orioles must now fight their own

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After being on wrong end of history, Orioles must now fight their own

Posted on 09 May 2012 by Luke Jones

History was made at Camden Yards on Tuesday night, but the story for the Orioles wasn’t Josh Hamilton becoming the 16th player in major league history to hit four home runs in a single game.

Entering Monday with the best earned run average in the American League and coming off a nine-game stretch in which they allowed a total of 23 runs against Oakland, New York, and Boston, the Orioles have surrendered 24 runs over the last two nights against the powerful Texas Rangers to knock them down a couple pegs in an otherwise impressive start to the 2012 season.

Like Brian Matusz on Monday, Jake Arrieta had no answers for the Texas lineup as an Orioles starter turned in a poor outing for the third straight game while a patchwork bullpen that included three call-ups over the last two days hasn’t been any better.

Needless to say, manager Buck Showalter wasn’t in the mood to discuss the heroics of Hamilton, whose 18 total bases on Tuesday set an American League record and were one shy of former Dodger Shawn Green’s major-league record 19 set on May 23, 2002.

“We didn’t score many runs, either,” Showalter said. “I think you’ve got to tip your hat to their pitching staff, too. We’ve obviously given up a lot of runs in a couple nights to make it tough. Obviously, Hamilton had a big night.”

The offense, which seemed to have come alive in the last five games of the last road trip, has suddenly gone silent over the last two nights against Texas starters Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz, scoring just six runs in two games.

The Orioles have lost consecutive games for the first time since April 20 and 21 in Anaheim, but one of the most impressive aspects of their 19-11 start has been their ability to dust themselves off after the handful of losses suffered over the first five weeks of the season. Even so, you have to wonder how two lopsided losses to the Rangers — who look like the class of the American League early on — will impact the club’s psyche following a successful 5-1 road trip against the Yankees and the Red Sox.

After winning a remarkable 17-inning marathon in Boston on Sunday, the Orioles have appeared to lack energy over the last two nights, though it’s easy to say that when facing a team many regard as the best in baseball. In addition to the physical demands of the aforementioned game against the Red Sox, you wonder if the inexperienced Orioles suffered a mental hangover in coming home after such a successful road trip against their two biggest tormentors of the last 14 years.

One of the biggest signs of a winning team is its ability to rebound quickly from tough losses and prevent negative spurts from transforming into extended losing streaks. Realistically speaking, two straight losses are nothing at all over which to be concerned, but mainstays of the roster over the last few years have a laundry list of lengthy swoons they’ll need to keep from their minds while trying to regroup for the final two games of the series against the Rangers.

As uplifting as their 19-11 start has been, dropping 10 of their next 11 would all but erase the positive vibes circulating through the Baltimore clubhouse. They can try to fight it all they want, but losing still flows through the veins of many key players and can’t be eliminated completely in a 30-game period. Unlike winning clubs of recent seasons, the Orioles don’t have positive experiences of rebounding from adversity from which to draw, forcing you to take pregnant pause at the first sign of trouble.

They simply aren’t familiar with how winning teams handle a bump or two in the road.

Despite being outscored 24-6 over the last two nights, the Orioles will have the opportunity to put that behind them immediately on Wednesday and Thursday as they try to snap a seven-game losing streak to the two-time American League champions that dates back to last season.

Unlike any other sport, baseball gives you the opportunity to erase the pain immediately.

But it’s also unforgiving in how consecutive losses can quickly turn into a nightmarish stretch of time if you’re not careful.

The Orioles know that all too well in recent years and will try to get back on track with their pitching, the phase of the game that’s carried them to their best start since 2005.

It needs to regroup in a hurry.

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Orioles add bullpen help against powerful Rangers

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Orioles add bullpen help against powerful Rangers

Posted on 07 May 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — A day after one of the wildest games in franchise history, the Orioles were forced to make difficult changes to their roster to add a couple bullpen arms to the mix with the powerful Texas Rangers coming to Baltimore for a four-game series.

Limited to just 4 1/3 innings in his shortest outing of the year on Sunday, starter Tommy Hunter was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk along with backup catcher Ronny Paulino to clear room for relievers Jason Berken and Stu Pomeranz. Manager Buck Showalter made it clear the moves were byproducts of the 17-inning series finale in Boston, but he also acknowledged some of the physical challenges that have hindered Hunter in recent weeks.

“Understand that Tommy had a slight oblique, which he’s 100 percent back from,” Showalter said. “He had the flu that everybody had. He had an ingrown toenail. So, he went about two weeks without being able to do some of his strength stuff.”

In six starts, Hunter is 2-1 with a 5.00 earned run average and has allowed 1.42 hits and walks per inning pitched. The 25-year-old right-hander has pitched up in the strike zone far too much, resulting in allowing a club-worst nine home runs in 36 innings.

With the Orioles needing bullpen help and Hunter having an option, he became an unfortunate casualty and creates the question of who will make Friday’s start against the Tampa Bay Rays. Barring a need to replace an injured player, Hunter must remain with the Tides for a minimum of 10 days. Showalter said Berken could be a candidate to make the start, but that will depend on how much the Orioles may need to use him over the next couple nights.

Showalter doesn’t anticipate a long stay in the minors for the club’s No. 2 starter entering the season, but he made no promises when breaking the news to Hunter.

“I look to see Tommy really getting back on track down there with one or two starts,” Showalter said. “We’ll see where it takes us.”

It appeared to be a foregone conclusion that third catcher Luis Exposito would be optioned back to Norfolk with the Orioles calling up at least one reliever, but Paulino received the surprising demotion instead. Showalter cited Paulino’s abbreviated spring training — due to work via issues — and his preference to get more time for Paulino behind the plate, which makes you infer the Orioles manager may not be enamored with Paulino’s defensive work.

“He’s done some good things for us,” Showalter said about Paulino. “We just want to let him catch every day down there and get back to where he’s comfortable. Build up some of his leg strength and get some consistent at-bats.”

As for Monday night, Showalter would not tip his hand as to who else would be available in addition to Berken and Pomeranz, but you can only imagine the list to be a short one. He essentially ruled out any pitchers who appeared in all three games of the Boston series — Matt Lindstrom and Troy Patton fall into that category — but it’s hard to imagine him wanting to go to Kevin Gregg or Jim Johnson.

Each threw two innings on Sunday, but neither is accustomed to going more than one inning under typical circumstances. With Gregg’s sporadic workload over the last month and Johnson’s recent bout with food poisoning zapping his strength, the Orioles would be wise avoiding those two if possible.

Considering the Orioles called up two relievers and made two unexpected demotions in the process tells all you need to know about the desperate state of the bullpen.

More than anything, Showalter is praying for a lengthy outing by left-hander Brian Matusz as the Orioles welcome the Rangers to town in a four-day meeting between two of the best teams — record-wise — in the American League. After recording his first win of the season in his last start in New York, Matusz will be expected to give the Orioles innings in the series opener — even if the results aren’t the prettiest.

Here are tonight’s lineups…

Texas
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
DH Adrian Beltre
1B Michael Young
RF Nelson Cruz
C Mike Napoli
3B Brandon Snyder
CF Craig Gentry

SP Matt Harrison (3-2, 5.40 ERA)

Baltimore
2B Robert Andino
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
DH Matt Wieters
3B Mark Reynolds
LF Wilson Betemit
1B Chris Davis
C Luis Exposito

SP Brian Matusz (1-3, 4.67 ERA)

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Morning Reaction Orioles 10-Game Scorecard (Games 11-20)

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Morning Reaction Orioles 10-Game Scorecard (Games 11-20)

Posted on 30 April 2012 by Luke Jones

During the 2012 season, Drew Forrester and Luke Jones of The Morning Reaction will provide the “10-Game Scorecard” for the Orioles, rating the club in 10-game increments in a number of categories and looking ahead to how Baltimore will fare over the next 10 games on the schedule.

(Editor’s note: This scorecard reflects games 11 through 20, not accounting for the final two games of the Oakland series over the weekend.)

To hear the full explanation of the “10-Game Scorecard” during Monday’s show, listen HERE.

1. Should the Orioles have been better or worse than their 6-4 mark?
Drew: Worse
Luke: Better

2. Most Valuable Player/Least Valuable Player
Drew: MVP – Adam Jones; LVP – Mark Reynolds
Luke: MVP – Adam Jones; LVP – Kevin Gregg

3. Biggest surprise
Drew: Darren O’Day
Luke: Jason Hammel

4. Best thing about the 10-game stretch
Drew: Bullpen
Luke: Bullpen

5. Ten games from now…
Drew: Mark Reynolds will hit four home runs and strike out 12 times (over the next eight games).
Luke: J.J. Hardy will hit three home runs (over the next eight games).

6. Record in the next 10 games
(**already two wins over Oakland**, three at New York, three at Boston, two with Texas)
Drew: 6-4
Luke: 6-4

7. Stock rising/falling over the next 10 games
Drew: Rising – Mark Reynolds; Falling – Wei-Yin Chen
Luke: Rising – Brian Matusz; Falling – Jason Hammel

8. Grading Buck Showalter in games 11-20
Drew: A
Luke: A-

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Orioles closer Johnson remains hospitalized with bacterial issue

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Orioles closer Johnson remains hospitalized with bacterial issue

Posted on 25 April 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Though Pedro Strop passed his first test as the interim closer in a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night, the Orioles still anxiously await the return of Jim Johnson, who remains hospitalized with flu-like symptoms.

Doctors continue to run tests in trying to pinpoint the bacterial issue, so Johnson will be unavailable for the second straight night. Manager Buck Showalter revealed upwards of nine players are currently dealing with flu-related or upper respiratory issues stemming from a bug that swept through the Baltimore clubhouse in the latter portion of last week’s road trip.

Showalter has exchanged text messages with his closer but is more concerned with Johnson simply getting his body right before talking about when he will return to the mound.

“You’re talking about some things that you have to be careful with, but he’s in great hands — some of the best doctors in the world,” Showalter said. “At some point, he’ll rejoin us and then we’ll start talking about baseball.”

Nolan Reimold is out of the lineup for the fourth straight game but says his neck is improving after taking early batting practice on Wednesday afternoon. The left fielder is still experiencing stiffness in trying to move his head up and down, but his side-to-side movement has improved.

Second on the team with five home runs, Reimold is confident he will avoid the 15-day disabled list and return to the lineup sooner rather than later.

“I think we are being cautious,” Reimold said. “[The pain] was there when I played in Anaheim and then it just tightened up real bad after the game and the next morning. I think they want to make sure I’m right and can come back and remain back and not set myself back any further.”

Japanese pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada will receive a second opinion from Dr. Lewis Yocum regarding the ligament damage in his pitching elbow. Showalter confirmed the two options at this point of potentially resting and rehabbing the injury or undergoing a surgical procedure that would presumably end his season.

The Orioles manager had good news on left-handed pitcher Zach Britton, saying his rehab on the left shoulder is “right on schedule.” Britton is close to pitching bullpen sessions from the mound and has not experienced any setbacks since receiving platelet-rich plasma therapy in March.

Pitcher Jason Berken has been recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to take second baseman Robert Andino’s spot on the 25-man roster. As revealed on Tuesday, Andino has been placed on the paternity leave list to be with his wife as the couple gave birth to a daughter, Amarise Hazel, on Wednesday.

Andino joked with Showalter that the couple is now “three and out” after welcoming their third child and that he is planning to purchase a shotgun to keep the boys away since he now has a daughter. The second baseman also celebrated his 28th birthday on Wednesday.

Making three starts for the Tides, Berken would be on regular rest and is available to pitch multiple innings if needed over the next day or two before he presumably returns to Norfolk upon Andino’s return to the club.

“I’ll be in the pen,” said Berken, who credited a new commitment to his changeup in explaining his 0.60 earned run average in 15 innings at Norfolk. “I’m just here to pitch any time they need me, whether it’s one or five [innings].”

Catcher Taylor Teagarden remains in Sarasota and will receive a third epidural injection in his back. The organization hopes this will resolve the issue before needing to explore other treatment options.

Here are tonight’s lineups…

Toronto
SS Yunel Escobar
2B Kelly Johnson
RF Jose Bautista
1B Adam Lind
LF Eric Thames
3B Edwin Encarnacion
DH Brett Lawrie
CF Colby Rasmus
C J.P. Arencibia

SP Kyle Drabek (2-0, 2.00 ERA)

Baltimore
LF Endy Chavez
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Chris Davis
3B Wilson Betemit
DH Mark Reynolds
2B Ryan Flaherty

SP Jason Hammel (2-0, 2.37 ERA)

Follow WNST on Twitter for live updates and analysis throughout Wednesday’s game and visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear more from Nolan Reimold, Jason Berken, and Buck Showalter here.

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20 Years of Unintended OPACY Consequences

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20 Years of Unintended OPACY Consequences

Posted on 12 April 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

Did Oriole Park make the Ravens and kill the Orioles? If so, was it worth it?

 

 

There are a couple of ways of looking at the yearlong celebration that is 20 years of baseball at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

 

On the one hand it’s a reminder of just how right Baltimore “got it” back in the early 90’s in paying homage to baseball and the history of the game and its impact on Baltimore. In fact, Baltimore got it so right that others quickly felt compelled to follow suit, making the gem of a ballpark that is OPACY often imitated but never quite duplicated.

 

The 20 year “celebration” is also cause however for Orioles fans to reflect on the fact that in 2 decades of Orioles baseball therein, the O’s have a grand total of 4 winning seasons and just 2 playoff appearances. As the team looks as far away from “right” as ever, the stadium is simply the silk hat and lipstick that adorn the proverbial pig that is Orioles baseball. More often than not over the last 20 years, the only thing about the ballpark that wasn’t breathtaking was the team that occupied it and the brand of baseball that they’ve played.

 

Baseball has a long history of curses, at now 20 frustrating years into this experience, maybe it’s time to question whether Camden Yards itself has been cursed. For now though it seems fairly clear that the only pox on the house of Orioles baseball is the owner, Peter Angelos.

 

Still, for the Orioles and the city of Baltimore, OPACY has been both a blessing and a curse, with a myriad of unintended benefits and consequences.

 

First, OPACY started a revolution in baseball; it changed the game. It took the Orioles from a middling financial player to big spenders overnight. Predictably, the rest of baseball began following suit very quickly thereafter. When Cleveland and the Indians jumped into the baseball-only facility business, the beginning of the end of the Cleveland Browns was already underway…thanks in no small part to the influence of OPACY.

 

The park also gave the Maryland Stadium Authority clout. It earmarked the prospective property and plans for a football specific neighbor and had the city poised to pounce when an opportunity like Browns to Baltimore presented itself.

 

So OPACY started the revolution that Cleveland followed, thus leading the Browns into the financial strife that made them the Ravens. In far less then 6 degrees of separation, the construction of OPACY “created” the Ravens.

 

The other side of that coin is that the arrival of the Ravens and the cushy deal that they got from the city may have put Baltimore and Angelos at odds. Given the history of Angelos and seemingly everyone he does business with, it’s arguable that he and the city were bound to be at odds eventually…inevitably anyway.

 

The park also packed in enough fans night by night, regardless of the on-field product, to give baseball a case to park the Expos in DC, which led to the compromise that created MASN, and has essentially turned the Orioles profitable without having to worry much about filling the stands anymore. In that way, OPACY might be the biggest and most beautiful catch-22 ever constructed.

 

So in a very roundabout way of thinking, Oriole Park may have built the Ravens and killed the Orioles. Of course the Orioles aren’t actually dead, they’re just on life support, and the stadium isn’t what’s killing them, the owner is. The building though, at least helped to create the circumstances that precipitated both events, and it may once again host important and meaningful games at some point.

 

If asked back in 1994 or so if they’d trade 20-years of sub-standard baseball for the NFL’s return to Baltimore, I’m guessing most would have taken it. Like it or not, we’ve gotten it and then some (on both accounts). But Camden Yards…what have you done for us lately?

 

 

 

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Patsos Honored With First Pitch at Camden Yards

Posted on 10 April 2012 by WNST Staff

Strike! Patsos Throws Out First Pitch Before Orioles Game

BALTIMORE – Loyola University Maryland Head Coach Jimmy Patsos was recognized Tuesday night and threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Oriole Park at Camden Yards before the Baltimore Orioles took on the New York Yankees.

Patsos threw a belt-high strike over the outside corner of the plate to Orioles relief pitcher Luis Ayala. He was honored by the Orioles, along with senior captain Shane Walker, prior to the pitch.

The eighth-year coach was named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and National Association of Basketball Coaches District II Coach of the Year, and he was later honored as the 2012 recipient of the Skip Prosser Award as college basketball’s Man of the Year at the Final Four.

“It was a great experience tonight, one that I am going to remember forever,” Patsos said. “Shane and I got a chance to meet (Orioles manager) Buck Showalter, and I said I had a chance to do what he has done with the Yankees and Diamondbacks, and what he’s doing here: build a program. It’s a small thing that we have in common, but his work is something I have admired.”

Patsos guided the Greyhounds to a 24-9 record and their second-ever berth in the NCAA Tournament this season. He took over a program in 2004-2005 that had won just one game the season before. Earlier this year, he became the third coach in the last 20 years to win 100 games at a school after taking over following a season after the team won zero or one game.

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Live from Camden Yards: Orioles ready for potential carryover with sign-stealing accusation from Yankees

Posted on 10 April 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — As Yankees closer Mariano Rivera recorded the final out of the Orioles’ 6-2 loss to New York on Monday night, you may have missed the fireworks between his catcher Russell Martin and Baltimore second baseman Robert Andino.

Martin accused Andino of trying to relay signs from second base and the two barked at one another as the ninth inning concluded. Both Andino and Martin are in their respective lineups, and Orioles manager Buck Showalter is downplaying what happened while maintaining his club will be ready for any potential fallout or retaliation in the second game of the three-game set.

“We’ll deal with it if it happens,” Showalter said. “I know where I think the right and wrong in the sense of the reality. It’s not exactly like Mariano [Rivera] is featuring a curveball and a changeup and a split. Certainly didn’t work out too well [for us] if that was the case.”

In typical Showalter fashion, the manager quipped that the best way to prevent the opposition from trying to steal signs is to keep runners off second base.

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters always assumes the opposition is trying to relay signs and makes adjustments to prevent that from happening.

“That’s why you do sequences; that’s why you try to move late,” Wieters said before Tuesday’s game. “You’re not going to like it if you do think someone is stealing pitches, but at the same time, it’s where you go to disguise it.”

Taiwanese left-hander Wei-Yin Chen makes his major league debut tonight as he takes the hill against the Yankees. Showalter acknowledged the extra excitement in the air with Chen’s debut and pointed to how the game will be broadcast live in Taiwan, joking that many people will be late to work with the early-morning start in Chen’s homeland.

The 26-year-old features a fastball, changeup, splitter, and curveball and depends on command and location to retire hitters. His fastball averages roughly 90 or 91 miles per hour, so he isn’t the type of hurler to overpower the opposition.

Wieters is in the lineup for the fifth straight day and will start again on Wednesday, according to Showalter. With his starting catcher fresh and the start of the season, the manager wanted Wieters behind the plate for every starter’s first turn through the starting rotation.

The Orioles are off on Thursday and Wieters will receive either Saturday or Sunday off in Toronto, depending on the pitching matchups.

Here are tonight’s starting lineups:

New York
SS Derek Jeter
RF Nick Swisher
2B Robinson Cano
3B Alex Rodriguez
1B Mark Teixeira
CF Curtis Granderson
DH Andruw Jones
C Russell Martin
LF Brett Gardner

SP Freddy Garcia

Baltimore
LF Endy Chavez
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
DH Nick Johnson
3B Mark Reynolds
1B Chris Davis
2B Robert Andino

SP Wei-Yin Chen

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear more from Buck Showalter and Matt Wieters and be sure to follow WNST on Twitter for live updates throughout the evening from Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

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Your Monday Reality Check-O What A Weekend

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Your Monday Reality Check-O What A Weekend

Posted on 09 April 2012 by Glenn Clark

I receive plenty of ridiculous messages via Facebook, Twitter, email, text, phone and here at WNST.net every week. I have a soft spot in my heart for those many messages and those who send them.

On Sunday, one of the more ridiculous messages I’ve seen was brought to my attention on Twitter.

bet ur pissed Os are 3-0 and ur boycott isnt working

I won’t say who sent me the note because I have no idea if they’re an actual listener/reader or just a troll who was sent my way during my brief spat with Baltimore Orioles OF Adam Jones last week. There’s no particular reason to allow this person any attention anyway.

The statement here is so ridiculous that I will need a minute to address it. I’ll start with the notion that I’d be “pissed” about the O’s starting the season with a sweep of the Minnesota Twins. The note implies one of two things-either I’m not a fan of the Birds at all or I’m a fan who for some reason doesn’t want to see them win.

I’ll start with the notion that I’m somehow “not an Orioles fan”. Here’s a picture from Chase Field in 2007 when the Orioles visited the Arizona Diamondbacks and I was working at The Fan 1060 (KDUS) in Phoenix…

I looked almost exactly like that all weekend. I could probably post about 1,000 more pictures here-but you can check my personal Facebook page for your own proof. As Nestor Aparicio knows all too well, somehow asking for a team to get better translates into “not a fan” in the minds of folks who likely also believe their favorite band WANTS to be known as a sellout. I’m a Baltimore Orioles fan, plain and simple.

The next thought would be that I for some reason don’t want the team to win. This is an all-too-often misconception related to WNST’s “Free The Birds” campaign that I have openly supported since its’ inception in 2006. I’d like to come back to this in a second.

The final part of the statement “your boycott isn’t working” reflects an absolute lack of knowledge about “Free The Birds” in general. To some, it is incomprehensible that I can both believe a current regime is incapable of creating a quality product but yet appreciate the product when it shows to be of quality.

Before heading in to see the Birds open the season against the Twinkies Friday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, I wandered across Pratt Street to chat with fellow fans at Luna Del Sea. I had a great time hanging out, talking baseball and promoting FTB. Two listeners in particular approached me to say “thank you” for defending those who believe in our cry (and also the cries of groups like “Occupy Eutaw Street”) on my show last Thursday. I engaged in a great back and forth in which I reiterated a statement that I feel must be repeated.

“Free The Birds to me has only ever been about one thing-making the team better. It’s not anything personal about players, managers, general managers or even (wait for it) owners. If the Orioles can get better and baseball can become relevant in Charm City again with Peter Angelos as owner I will owe a debt of gratitude to the man. I just don’t really believe it will happen.”

Free The Birds isn’t a “boycott”. Free The Birds is ABSOLUTELY not a statement that we don’t support the Baltimore Orioles when they take the field. Those misconceptions will exist in the minds of some forever, but it won’t make them true. Free The Birds (for me) is simply a belief and statement that losing is NOT okay.

That concept alone is apparently not even enough for all to agree. That’s fine. Not every fan has to demand quality from the entity they support. The fact that Bon Jovi has managed to sell plenty of concert tickets over the course of the last decade is living proof of that.

The fact is, I want quality from the Baltimore Orioles and I don’t believe it will happen with Peter Angelos as owner. But my belief/expectation will never be cause for me to “hope” or “root” against such an occurrence. As many of you are aware, I don’t pick the Baltimore Ravens to win every football game they play. There hasn’t been one time in my life however that I wasn’t rooting for them to show me just how little I know.

I root against my own belief that the Orioles will fail to succeed under the control of Peter Angelos. I OPENLY root against it.

Like many years during what I’ve called “The Rock Bottom Era” here in Baltimore, the Birds got off to a hot start this weekend. Pitchers Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter and Jason Hammel combined to allow ONE run over 22 innings pitched. That number seems so impossible I’ve actually quadruple-checked it.

After an Opening Day sellout, another crowd of 30,000 plus took in Saturday night’s game (there was even a buzz about it at Power Plant Live as I was leaving the Alabama Shakes show at Rams Head Live). Sunday’s crowd looked all too “Baltimorean”, but the Easter holiday clearly had something to do with it.

(Oh and I didn’t even mention the awesomeness of the orange uniforms Saturday night. The last time I’ve wanted an article of clothing so badly was the first time Stone Cold Steve Austin donned a knee brace.)

It was an awesome weekend that left the city buzzing. It makes Monday a happier day to be in the state of Maryland than it would have been otherwise.

It doesn’t mean things have changed with the Orioles organization. It doesn’t mean the Birds will be 6-0 when the New York Yankees leave town. It absolutely doesn’t mean the AL East should be on notice. It means we’ve had way more fun as fans for three days than we would have otherwise.

Of course, maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe this weekend marked an official turnaround for the Orioles. Maybe the excitement of eliminating the Boston Red Sox last September truly carried over and this type of baseball will be a reality for the Birds all season.

Maybe the Orioles truly are better despite an offseason that made us believe they might be worse.

Let me repeat that. Maybe this weekend was a sign that the Orioles really are better. I don’t believe it, but I’d love to be wrong.

If they are, Free The Birds is a success. This is all we’ve ever wanted.

-G

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Undefeated Birds Welcome Winless Yanks to OPACY Monday

Posted on 08 April 2012 by WNST Staff

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