Because You Asked - Fury Road

The latest heat advisory mentions how mailbags could go up in flames and to keep them indoors. I’m not taking any chances.

It’s my responsibility to empty mine and save the neighborhood from total destruction.

You ask, I answer, and yada, yada, yada.

If you ever catch me editing for clarity, length or style, drag me in an alley and have me beaten.

Also, my mailbag competes in the Home Run Derby and yours just has the runs.

Now can we panic?
How does this one end up in every mailbag. No. A thousand times, no.

When was the last time an Oriole was the starting pitcher of an All-Star game?
Steve Stone in 1980. He retired all nine batters he faced, striking out three. He also became the last Orioles pitcher to win the Cy Young Award. And then the devil tapped him on the shoulder and said, “It’s time.”

How many All-Star Games did Jim Palmer start?
Palmer started in 1970, 1972, 1977 and 1978. I remember as a young fan being so bummed that he gave up three home runs in ’77, to Joe Morgan, Greg Luzinski and Steve Garvey. Scrubs! Kidding. But you know how it is. He’s repping your team, wearing the uniform, and the world is watching. And then, God tapped him on the shoulder and said, “It’s OK, you’ll never age.”

It seems like the Orioles as a team and lots of individual players have been putting up historical numbers this year. Do you see it that way?

Don’t be greedy. Gunnar Henderson is about to become the greatest player in the history of sports, or something like that. Corbin Burnes is a quality start machine. Anthony Santander couldn’t go a day in June without homering. Adley Rutschman is Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra rolled into one. But for me, it’s mostly the team accomplishments. X-number of these put them on a record pace. The stats and facts are all over the game notes.

Do the Orioles actually have the financial power to afford a contract extension for Corbin Burnes? There seems to be an overwhelming opinion that the O’s can’t afford him. BURNES IN 25!
Who’s saying that they can’t? Check out the ownership group. But it’s also about spending wisely, and that really holds true with pitching. Burnes is gonna test the market. He’s made it quite clear. The Orioles will monitor it. But they may focus on quantity with Kyle Bradish, John Means and Tyler Wells recovering from their elbow surgeries. Spread out the cash. That’s just a theory.

What do you hear about Coby Mayo's defense? Is that really the one thing holding him back at this point?
One reason that Mayo is held back is that the club can’t carry a 27-man roster. Which infielder is removed to make room for him? He isn't a duplicate, for example, of Jorge Mateo or Ramón Urías as far as skill set. You trading Ryan Mountcastle? But also, Mayo needed more work at third base and he could use the reps at first if he’s gonna move across the diamond, at least on occasion. Manager Brandon Hyde was asked yesterday about Mayo’s defense and told the assembled media that “it’s improving.” It isn’t hurting Mayo to remain at Triple-A, but his time is coming. The Orioles need to figure out who goes. An injury would provide a solution, of course, but they can’t sit around waiting for one.

Why isn’t Coby Mayo in the All-Star Futures Game?
From what I understand, teams submit three nominees and Major League Baseball chooses. I believe Mayo wasn’t on the list because he was injured and might not have been available. Turns out, he was available.  

Any predictions on the return of Means, Bradish or Wells next season? Spring training? Any point before the All-Star break?
No chance that any of them return next spring. That would be less than 12 months after elbow surgery. Are you mad? Getting them back before the All-Star break would be celebrated. Wells’ procedure with the internal brace is supposed to bring a quicker recovery, but don’t know about the All-Star break.

Rare or medium rare when cooking a steak?
I used to order “extra rare,” but needed to be careful at which restaurant. No lie, my prime rib at Outback was pink on the outside. Still ate it. My dad used to joke that he just put mine on the sidewalk for a few minutes. I switched to just rare, and now medium rare. But I’ll remove mine first from the pan or grill and let it rest. I have no issues with just straight-up rare, but medium rare is the goal. Anything above that is a crime. Well done is a life sentence.

Any new rumors on the trade front?
Same old ones. There’s talk of a possible reunion with Marlins All-Star lefty Tanner Scott. The Orioles have talked to the White Sox about starter Garrett Crochet. The asking price apparently is high, as you’d expect. The controllability through 2026 brings tremendous appeal, especially with the Orioles proceeding next year without the elbow-surgery trio. But Crochet’s innings need to be managed carefully this summer and the Orioles don’t need another excuse to dig into their bullpen.

Will MLB allow Adley Rutschman to DH on Tuesday so James McCann can catch Corbin Burnes during the All-Star Game?
I totally, 100 percent see what you did there.

Why does Kevin Brown say the speed of the first pitch of the game out loud every broadcast?
Would be harder to hear if he just thought it. OK, I never noticed. Guess I don’t listen to a lot of broadcasts because I’m usually at the game. Let’s do an experiment and see if he reads the mailbag. If so, he’ll approach me with an answer, and I can pass it along. Or better yet, he can do it on the air. I’ll take the publicity. Let me know how that goes.

Should MLB have expanded to 32 teams before expanding the playoffs to 14 teams? Right now the supply of tradeable assets can never meet the demand.
Fourteen teams make the playoffs? I’m confused. I know you meant 12. But I’ll say that I generally hate change, which is why I kept my rotary phone, AOL and Myspace account. I get that an expanded playoff field generates more interest. And it isn’t as watered down as college football bowl games. But I’ll hark back to the old NHL joke about how they play an entire season to eliminate Hartford and Winnipeg. I warned you that it’s old.

Always wondered, is Roch your actual given birth name or is it a nickname?
I was born with a nickname, and I need a real one. Yes, it’s my birth name. I’ve told this story. My mom used to babysit a boy named Roch when she was a teenager in Ford City, Pa. She loved it. So Eric got pushed to my middle name. Roch and his brothers would go on to own a funeral home in Ford City. I covered the Orioles. I’d always say that we both worked with stiffs, but then the Orioles got good again, first after Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette arrived and again after the rebuild with Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde, and a good joke was ruined. Thanks a lot, guys.

Who should the Orioles target as a rotation piece? Does Elias think they are ready to win a World Series? Would Elias really part with enough prospects to land a top rotation piece and a pen piece? How early is too early to start drinking? If I go to the doubleheader in two weeks, can I just hide in the bathroom between games and stay inside for free?
You sure ask a lot of questions for a guy from New Jersey (RIP Gilda). Jack Flaherty, just to see if he’d be any better with the media the second time around. Woof. Is Nathan Eovaldi available? I hear he’s good in the postseason. Angels' lefty Tyler Anderson will make $13 million next season. Quite reasonable. Yes, Elias thinks they can win a World Series. That’s why he traded for Corbin Burnes. Define “enough prospects.” Funny how it’s deemed too early to start drinking unless you’re at the bumper of a car in a parking lot. Then it’s perfectly acceptable to start pounding beers hours before the noon kickoff. I don’t know if the Orioles check the stalls between games, but let’s not give anyone any ideas.

Were you the brains behind the title of “School of Roch” for your blog? How about The Sun’s “Roch Around the Clock?”
That took brains? I had nothing to do with either one. The Sun insisted that they owned the rights to the name and I couldn’t use it at False. But we didn’t put up a fight. It wasn’t that important. I went along with the new one.

The O's will make the playoffs. Everybody knows it. Yet they need help. Do the players expect that help at the trade deadline? Like, where disappointment really ensues if it doesn't happen.
I haven’t taken a poll, but yes, players expect moves to be made. And it’s a double-edge sword because they want the front office to go for it, but they could lose friends in the process. They like the clubhouse just the way it is. And they aren’t thrilled if former teammates in the minors are dealt. Like with Corbin Burnes. Happy to get the former Cy Young winner. A bold move. Total excitement. But losing DL Hall and Joey Ortiz hurt.

Do you ever miss publishing in an actual, printed newspaper?
They still exist? But seriously folks. It was nice to have the clips. It was cool to see my name above an article that wasn’t on a laptop screen or phone. I go back to the days when copies of The Baltimore Sun were stacked in the clubhouse. Players read it. Right in front of us. Could get awkward if you had to detail a pitcher’s miserable outing or a crucial error. But I do not miss working for a paper. And especially that early-morning phone call from an editor telling me to chase some story that wasn't on my beat, but no one else was available or answering their phone. My general assignment duties in the offseason. Still cover the Orioles, but also, there's a Coppin State-Morgan State basketball game in December. Or the Baltimore Running Festival. Yeah, that's right in my wheelhouse. But also, keep covering the Orioles. And you aren't allowed to get beat on a story. Ever. Oh yeah, and we're gonna lay off most of the staff.

So, no?
Next question.

Will you be covering the All-Star Game?
Yes. I fly out early Monday and stay through the weekend series against the Rangers. The temperatures will be in the high 90s with air quality that’s like inhaling oatmeal. I’m packing just enough clothing for a carry-on bag. How’s that for bold?

How many double plays has Gunnar Henderson hit into this season?
One. To end last night's game.

Who was your favorite past Oriole to interview?
Such a hard question because there have been so many good ones. And a player can be a favorite for different reasons. In-depth and thoughtful answers are appreciated, but so is a sense of humor and being approachable. Cal Ripken Jr. was one of my favorites because, quite simply, he was Cal Ripken Jr. I appreciated the significance of any conversation with him, on or off the record. But way on the other end of the scale was backup catcher Caleb Joseph. A good time whenever you stood at his locker. I had a great relationship with Brady Anderson. Not everyone on the beat could say that. Randy Myers liked me and despised Ken Rosenthal, and we worked at the same paper. He’d clam up if we both stood at his locker, then hustle over to bring me back after we walked away. Mike Bordick, Jeff Reboulet, Chris Hoiles, Alan Mills, Zack Britton, Chris Davis … So many. And lots in the present, too. But I’ll wait until they’re ex-Orioles, including one who doesn’t really need an interpreter but keeps him close by just in case.

What will Catie Griggs’ first project be as new Orioles president of business operations?
That wasn’t included in the press release, but this was: “Catie led the charge as T-Mobile Park became the first venue to host both MLB All-Star Week (2023) and the NHL Winter Classic (2024) within a calendar year. Combined, the two events generated over $80-plus million in revenue for the city of Seattle and directly engaged more than 300,000 fans.” Hmmm.

Skenes for Kjerstad, Holliday, Norby, and Mayo. Who says no?
Me. And this seems like a good place to stop.

It’s you, Melewski and Weyrich on a boat. One has to be thrown overboard for survival. Who do you get rid of?
I got nervous there for a second, thinking one would have to get eaten. They both know that I’d toss ‘em off a Carnival cruise. But seriously, this definitely is a good place to stop.

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