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.”
I wrote this a while back. I think more people should read it:
This past Saturday I was one of the 20,000 (if that) that stayed through the three hour rain delay to watch Eddie Murray’s ceremony and to watch the Orioles lose. I was soaking wet, my voice was hoarse and all for nothing. Sounds like a sucky night doesn’t it?
Oh, did I forget to mention I went with my seven year old cousin? Well that’s what made that night worth sitting through all the rain and terrible baseball. To see a kid who didn’t even know who Eddie Murray was, chant his name at the top of his lungs like he had watched him for years. To see him usher in the new chants of “MANNY, MANNY!” as the future Orioles star stepped to the plate and scream “CHARGE!” as loud as he could when the horn sounded.
My cousin is a diehard Orioles fan. We didn’t give him a choice. So going to the game at the spur of the moment was a heck of a treat for him, but when he found out our seats were in the left field bleachers (where he thought we might catch a home run) his eyes lit up. To see him run up and down the aisle yelling at the Royals’ Alex Gordon (him even getting yelled at himself by an usher) that’s what going to the games are all about.
He got a foam finger, a picture with the Bird, and most importantly, in his eyes, he got some food. That boy can eat! I showed him where Eddie and all the other Orioles legends’ numbers were retired above our heads in left field and explained to him why Jackie Robinson’s was up there too.
For that one night I was able to forget about the fact that the Orioles lost. I was able to even forget about the fact that they are hunting for a playoff spot. Because all that mattered that night was enjoying ourselves, taking in the experience and being around other drenched fans as we rooted for our team down to the bitter end.
Those are the moments that make going to the games worth it. We don’t always have to be bitter about how Peter Angelos steals our money and how he has given us nothing but losing baseball for 14 straight years. We are in the midst of something special right now. Our beloved O’s are in the playoff race! There is finally meaningful baseball in Baltimore again. Besides, every once in a while you can just enjoy going to the game because it’s fun to watch baseball, regardless of the outcome or how well the team is doing.
It doesn’t always have to be a bad experience. Saturday night should’ve been a bad experience. They handled the delay terribly, people left before Eddie’s on field ceremony, the team lost. But I still had a great time. And I know my cousin had one of the most memorable nights he has ever had.
He got to stay up till two in the morning. He got to yell at opposing players and call them names (Billy “Butthead” Butler was his favorite insult). And best of all he got a ball. Growing up that’s all you ever want at a baseball game. “A real major league baseball”, as he said holding it in his hands.
We found ourselves in the very last inning and we still hadn’t caught a home run (even though the Orioles pitching gave up a fair amount). He was on a mission and I wasn’t ready to let him fail so I took him down next to the dugout and told him to ask the players and managers for one. I sat back a few rows and he would come back every so often and ask why they were being so shy. I told him to keep asking.
Eventually the game ended and just when it looked as though he wouldn’t get one, a guy came out and tossed him a ball.
That’s a memory he will have forever. On a crappy night in Baltimore, he didn’t care that the Orioles lost. He isn’t bitter. Call it ignorance, call it youth. He had a great experience. I say we take a little lesson from him and have fun watching this team for however long they give us. Who knows what could happen? Maybe we’ll get a ball too…
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.)
The Orioles seem to get at least a token mention as being on the periphery of talks for nearly every player that’s been known to be available on the midseason trade market. What’s really going on? No one can answer for the bizarrely-successful (thus far) plans of Dan Duquette except for Duquette himself.
One thing that everyone who covers the team and baseball generally seems to agree on is that top prospects Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado are virtually untouchable on the trade market. Teams are asking and the Orioles are not giving signs that there is any player for whom they’d move those guys. That’s a good thing. Nobody should want to see the promise of either Bundy or Machado traded away for a rental in a desperate all-in gamble for one of the wild card spots.
There’s reason to be excited for Bundy and Machado. Their status as top prospects is echoed not only by the team-friendly media but by independent evaluators such as ESPN’s Keith Law and Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. All agree they are studs.
With that in mind, it’s important to remember that there are no sure things in the prospect world. There are a variety of reasons why prospects never reach their projections. Maybe injuries get involved. Maybe there are players who just don’t have the mental makeup for professional baseball. There could be attitude problems or even just someone with a “projectable frame” that never quite fills out.
One axiom occasionally uttered in some corners of the prospect world underscores the nihilism: TINSTAAPP. That is: there is no such thing as a pitching prospect. Of course, this is not true, strictly speaking. The truth contained in it, however, is that all that stands between a young pitcher and a blown-out elbow or a torn labrum in his shoulder is… what? There are ideas about healthy mechanics, conditioning and the like, but nobody really knows. Sometimes a guy is rolling along just fine, and then there’s a pop, and a team’s multi-million dollar investment goes up in smoke.
Another thing is that some people aren’t as good as you thought – or you can’t develop them in the way that you thought you could. This will, we certainly hope, not be a problem with players like Bundy and Machado, but we don’t have to look very far back in the past to see a cautionary tale about relying entirely on the farm system to build up the major league team.
It wasn’t so long ago that Baseball America, the organization that publishes prospect handbooks every year, was projecting that the Orioles’ 2012 infield would consist of Billy Rowell (3B), Luis Hernandez (SS), Brian Roberts (2B) and Brandon Snyder (1B).
Another whopper is the projected 2012 rotation in the article: Chris Tillman (no. 1!), Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Jeremy Guthrie, and Radhames Liz. If you’re lucky, you’ve already forgotten Liz. The rest of us can remember the one great game of his career, against the Twins in September 2008, and a whole heck of a lot of painful outings.
Up until this year, there had been a trend with the Orioles in the offseason and preseason to have the front office and whatever media was willing to echo their comments talking about how a few key moves would bring winning baseball back to Baltimore.
“We just need to solidify the bullpen,” they might say, and then Mike Gonzalez was signed, or Kevin Gregg. “This team needs proven veteran performers,” they might also say, and then Derrek Lee was signed, or Vladimir Guerrero. Gonzalez had the two key blown saves that led to the 2010 season’s opening up with that 2-16 disaster – though there was much else wrong, to be sure. Gregg… must think positive thoughts.
As for Lee and Guerrero, they largely performed at the plate like any minor league call-up. Guerrero’s continued occupation of the DH and cleanup spot made the team actively worse by forcing Luke Scott into the field and Nolan Reimold to the bench.
The Orioles signed those two veterans to a combined near-$15 million in salary. That was money flushed down the toilet in some futile quest to get to 82 wins, and, as it turned out, seasons that started out with the goal of buying parts to get to 82 wins ended up instead oriented around the goal of avoiding 100 losses.
Whether it was intentional or not, this year’s team did not have that, “Maybe THIS is the year to break the consecutive losing season streak” buzz around them. In fact, not long before the season got underway, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette was asked point blank by Eddie Encina of The Baltimore Sun whether he thought this was a .500 or better team, and he said no.
Coming into the organization from so long out of baseball, one thing you might say for Duquette is that he had fresh eyes. He took a look at the roster, and it’s clear that he decided that there is no way the Orioles were one or two pieces away from contention. He swept away some of the dead weight – Matt Angle, Kyle Hudson, we hardly knew ye – and set about tinkering around the margins for small but cost-effective upgrades over recent-vintage Orioles teams.
Some of the offseason moves that really characterize this for Duquette include the trade of a couple of minor leaguers for Dana Eveland, a separate trade for a couple of minor leaguers for Taylor Teagarden, and signings of players like Matt Antonelli, Endy Chavez, Luis Ayala and Wilson Betemit. None of these are moves you look at and think, “That’s it! This is the piece the Orioles need to win.”
Looking at moves only through the lens of whether or not it is the last move to get the Orioles into contention is a mistake. It’s true that in baseball in the present, you need stars and superstars to win, and the Orioles only have Adam Jones and maybe Matt Wieters at that level.
But, you also need guys to play well enough to hold their own for the major league minimum or near it – or at least, that’s what you need if you’re the Orioles. There is probably room to add to the payroll, if it makes sense to do it, but the team can’t buy the best player at every position. They probably can’t buy the Albert Pujols- or Prince Fielder-caliber players at all. Sometimes they are going to have to settle for the best player in a certain cost range and hope they fit into the plan. They need to eventually get their scouting and farm system turned into a well-oiled machine that continually churns out solid players with years of team control.
If you blinked earlier this week, you missed the brief return of Brad Bergesen to the Baltimore Orioles. He was called up for Tuesday’s game as long relief insurance in case Zach Britton had a short outing, but did not find his way into the game even though Britton only made it four innings. Wednesday, he was designated for assignment to make room for Tommy Hunter – ouch.
In fact, it was the second time the Orioles have DFA’d Bergesen this year; for the first, he was cast aside to make room for the short tenure of Bill Hall. The players who get yo-yo’d back and forth like this, tossed from the roster, called up for a day and tossed again, are the ones the teams don’t care about. That’s fair, in Bergesen’s case. When we saw him last year at the big league level he threw over 100 innings and had a 5.70 ERA.
He probably has no part of the team’s future any more, but whenever I think of Bergesen, I can’t help but remember the unexpected delight from his debut season. Maybe it’s not rational. In fact, it’s probably not rational. Part of the fun of being a fan is going wild sometimes. You have to be careful not to get too crazy about it – otherwise you end up like Yankees fans trying to say that Derek Jeter is a great defensive shortstop. You get your moments, though, and mine is what Bergesen might have been if it wasn’t for the scourge of a Billy Butler line drive.
It’s a little hard to remember those heady days now. The spring of 2009 was yet another year in recent memory where the future looked brighter than the present. This was the time when then-manager Dave Trembley was uttering quotes like “The cavalry is coming” – referring to promising pitching prospects like Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz. We were excited about those guys once, and early in 2009 we had no reason not to be.
Bergesen was like the cherry on top. Here were all these prospects coming along, but they weren’t quite ready yet, so when a hole in the rotation opened up in April, up came Brad Bergesen. Who? He was not on any prospect lists. I had never heard of him. You had probably never heard of him. But he was a groundball pitcher who’d had some decent results in AA the year previous – 24 games, a 3.22 ERA – so when a space opened, it was his turn. Heck, why not? Everyone else the O’s were throwing out in ’09 was not doing so great.
Over his first seven starts, you might say he looked like he fit in perfectly with the 2009 rotation, which isn’t a compliment. A month into his big league career, he had a 5.49 ERA. Then… well, I still don’t know what happened. His next eleven starts saw his ERA drop to 3.43. He went at least six innings in every one of those starts and he went seven or more innings in six starts, with eight innings in four starts and one complete game. That’ll play, and it did play.