"Being an Oriole is also about playing meaningful games in September." - Cal Ripken Jr.
"The Streak didn't define Junior. Junior defined what The Streak was about." - Billy Ripken
Outstanding ceremony for Cal Ripken Jr. earlier today, as his statue - depicting him fielding - was unveiled in the old picnic area.
Current Orioles in attendance included Adam Jones, Mark Reynolds, J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis. Manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette also were there, as usual.
Brooks Robinson arrived a little late and received a standing ovation. He also attended the on-field ceremony for the first time. He usually leaves after the statue unveilings. That's a good sign.
Ripken's mother, Vi, attended the ceremony and also received a warm ovation when MASN's Gary Thorne introduced her.
Brady Anderson and Billy Ripken gave speeches before it was Cal's turn to speak. They drew the expected laughs.
Cal choked up as he began to talk about his family, just as he did during his Hall of Fame induction speech. There was a long pause as he tried to compose himself.
Anderson hugged actress Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman) after the ceremony and spent a few minutes talking to her. You can't make this stuff up.
Showalter played against Ripken in Double-A ball in 1980.
"Cal was very serious about his trade," Showlater said. "That's what hit me. Everything had a purpose. His style was his substance. You saw this young guy - Billy, too. They were hard to beat.
"It was an honor playing against him. And it wasn't like you went, 'Whoa, this guy's gonna be some kind of major league player.' You said to yourself, 'This guy's going to be as good as he's capable of being.' Relays, everything. I remember catching ground balls between innings, watching him. Everything had a purpose. He was a serious guy about his trade."
The stands are packed tonight and there's a lot more orange than in previous series against the Yankees. Let's get this game started.
"Our guys realize it's their responsibility to hopefully put a product on the field that's consistent enough that people trust emotionally, and I don't think anybody feels that we're there yet," Showalter said.
"Our guys really have a grip on how fleeting everything can be. This is a team that takes nothing for granted."
UPDATE: The Orioles apparently mean business, judging by the first inning.
They scored four runs off Yankees starter David Phelps, the last three on Matt Wieters' 19th homer of the season. His last one was Sept. 1 off Phelps.
J.J. Hardy and Nate McLouth singled with one out and moved up on a balk. Adam Jones singled into center field, with Hardy scoring and McLouth racing back to second because he thought center fielder Curtis Granderson made a sliding catch.
No matter. Wieters followed with his three-run shot to the opposite field.
Mark Reynolds followed with his 62nd walk, and Derek Lowe began to warm in the Yankees bullpen. Phelps threw 29 pitches.
Jason Hammel induced three ground balls in the top of the first while retiring the Yankees on 10 pitches.
This place isn't just packed, it's ridiculously loud. Really reminds me of the 1997 season, my first full year on the beat.