Good morning to everyone. I'm nursing my FanFest hangover this morning, and it has nothing to do with alcohol.
That was quite a scene yesterday at the Baltimore Convention Center. The crowd exceeded 10,000, but fell short of the 12,000 that poured into the facility last year. Members of the media, and some Orioles officials, agreed that it seemed like more people were in attendance - probably because the venue was smaller. But I can vouch for the long line that wrapped around the building about an hour before season-ticket holders were allowed inside at 10 a.m. And it was a challenge getting from the main stage to the MASN booth. I was darting and cutting like Ray Rice to avoid collisions.
One of my favorite lines of the day, and I mean the spoken kind, came from center fielder Adam Jones, when asked backstage whether he hoped that the Orioles would sign Vladimir Guerrero.
"Why not?" he replied. "I'm tired of chasing the (stuff) he hits."
And what would Guerrero mean to this lineup?
"It would mean that you don't have to worry about a cleanup hitter," Jones said. "I mean, he's penciled in. He's fourth. Then you work around him. It's easier. You'd have the one and four spots in your lineup guaranteed."
One, of course, is Brian Roberts.
Like a lot of other players, Jones noticed the extra enthusiasm from fans yesterday. Optimism is overflowing despite the moves made by the Red Sox over the winter and the usual hurdles placed in front of an AL East team that hasn't posted a winning record since 1997.
"This is the first offseason that a lot of moves have really been made and it's pretty interesting. It's cool," Jones said. "The team won't be brand new, but there are a lot of different pieces to it. Right now, you can't be anything but pleased with everything that everyone's done this offseason."
My favorite conversation took place with reliever Jason Berken, who gladly shared the secrets of his dramatic weight loss. He says 30 pounds have come off, and I believe him.
One reader this morning remembered how Matt Albers, after being urged by former manager Dave Trembley to get in better shape, claimed that he lost eight pounds over the winter. Not quite what the Orioles had in mind. Berken, however, took his challenge much more seriously.
The conversation yesterday was enhanced by reliever Jim Johnson, who made sure that he received some credit for pointing Berken in the right direction. Johnson first suggested that Berken cut out fried foods. And he playfully called out Berken yesterday when the Wisconsin native talked about having a bratwurst next weekend while watching the Super Bowl. But only one!
Berken was born in Green Bay and is a huge Packers fan. He attended the NFC championship game in Chicago. He's entitled to one bratwurst. But the timing of his admission was pretty funny.
It's clear that Buck Showalter is still in the honeymoon stage with fans, as you would expect. He might have received the loudest ovation of the day when he took the stage with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail. And I still heard chants of "Luuuuke" for the bearded designated hitter and political commentator.
If anyone is holding a grudge against Luke Scott for his comments about the president during the Winter Meetings, it was being held inside. I didn't hear any jeering, though I'll admit that I spent most of the day with my head down, pounding away on my keyboard with my computer balanced on my lap.
I guess that's why they call it a laptop. Who knew?
Jeremy Guthrie mentioned to reporters that his agent has contacted the Orioles once regarding a contract extension. The club isn't ready to make that commitment. Maybe later.
MacPhail noted how he's a big Kevin Millwood fan, and he keeps the number 191 on his board next to the right-hander's name to represent the number of innings that Millwood threw last season. It was actually 190 2/3, but you get the idea. MacPhail is impressed that Millwood ate that many innings despite 16 losses and a stay on the disabled list.
I still say that Millwood looks like the most appealing option among the remaining free-agent starters. At least he isn't such a health riddle.
I've got more leftovers from FanFest that I'll share later. And thanks to everyone for the kind words regarding MASNsports.com's coverage. It was terrific meeting or getting reacquainted with some of you at the Convention Center.