Because You Asked - The Rise of Red

The Orioles are leaving the cold and rain of Baltimore and flying into the cold of Pittsburgh. But no rain.

Daytime highs for the three games are 43, 48 and a balmy 56 degrees. But a new concession item at PNC Park is “The Renegade,” a foot-long hot dog draped in potato pierogis, pot roast, pickles and onions.

Let me start by saying cheddar potato pierogis are the best. I’d eat a box of 12 for dinner back in the day – boiled and slathered in melted butter. Better than pan-fried crispy. I want to pasta texture.

I’ll also say that the pickles are unnecessary and unwanted on this item. Save ‘em for a burger or barbeque sandwich.

And finally, this is a long-winded way of setting up the mailbag.

I’ll fatten up on a pierogi dog but my mailbag is losing weight.

There you go.

You ask and I try to answer. The same question comes at me again, as if nobody is paying attention. And here we are, with the latest sequel to the beloved 2008 premiere.

Don’t forget that I detest editing for clarity, length, style, brevity or fun. We have it all. Just don’t gorge yourselves like it’s a foot-long pierogi dog.

If you had to venture a guess, when do you think Jackson Holliday and Coby Mayo get called up?
I can’t offer you dates, which you’re probably used to from your high school and college days. (Sorry.) I’d expect Holliday to make it first unless there’s an injury to a corner infielder. And it could happen for Holliday as early as April. Maybe May. He’s off to a hot start at Triple-A Norfolk.

We lost a game. Is the team panicking?
This one was submitted before the Orioles lost twice. Still no panic. They gladly will go 160-2 without apology.

Why are the seats in the front row to the left of home plate at OPACY (from pitcher's perspective) nearly always empty? Even on Opening Day?
I’m thinking the owners of those seats don’t attend ever game – Cal Ripken Jr. for instance – and don’t always find takers or offer them. Looked full to me for the opener but I don’t always study the situation.

Why are two rows of seats covered in Section 84 since late last year? Ushers did not even know.
You’d think they’d be told. You'd also think I wouldn't get two seat questions. I’ve heard that the seats are covered because the wheelchair access area is behind them. You can’t have fans standing up and blocking the view. You’ll see the same coverings over seats on the first base side.

If Jordan Westburg eventually becomes a utility guy in the infield, is that a proper use of his skill set? I think his ceiling is far higher than that of a utility player.
So do the Orioles. I don’t think he’s a utility player. This is baseball in 2024. Teams love players who can move around the field, even with rosters expanded from 25 to 26. He’s a second and third baseman who also can play shortstop. But I wouldn’t classify that as utility. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, especially if you’re in the lineup most days. Utility when I was a kid had more of a stigma attached to it. Not anymore.

We need a lefty hitting second baseman. You know of any?
I see what you did there. Sorry, Rougned Odor isn’t walking through that door.

Did Nick Vespi use up an option after replacing Jacob Webb?
Yes. There are no exceptions for the paternity and bereavement lists. I assumed there was, but nope. The more you know …

Since the agreement on the sale, have the players made any requests to the new ownership that maybe wasn't allowed previously? New TV or pinball machine or sauna?
I haven’t heard about any requests. They pretty much got what they wanted anyway, besides long-term extensions.

Why is Jackson Holliday ever playing shortstop if they want him to get reps at second base?
To keep him sharp at his natural position, and to let others also get those reps at second. Connor Norby should be first in line for second after Holliday, but Diego Castillo got the start a few days ago. Norby has played only left and right field so far, maybe in preparation for life in the majors with Holliday at second.

Should we just trade all prospects and get veterans so Hyde will play them?
Jordan Westburg is in the lineup every day. Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson didn’t get blocked by veterans. Grayson Rodriguez is the No. 2 starter and would have broke camp with the team in 2023 if he hadn’t pitched so poorly. Colton Cowser struggled last summer and was sent down. I assume this question mostly is about him. He's appeared in every game, and he singled and scored last night. The Orioles are seeing a bunch of left-handed starters early, including two in Pittsburgh.

Where did those handlebars come from?
Cole Irvin ordered them from a company called “Pro Taper.” My son-in-law races dirt bikes and says that’s one of the top brands. Gotta love that Irvin took it that seriously. It’s a dugout prop.

Which prospect do you see getting traded first, Connor Norby, Coby Mayo, Kyle Stowers or Heston Kjerstad?
Am I allowed to select “none of the above?” Triple-A depth is marvelous. The logic with Norby would be how he’s expected to be blocked at second base and teams happily would take that bat and find a spot for him. And if you can get, say, a starter or high-leverage reliever in the deal, you have to consider it. And then he puts up huge offensive numbers with another team and fans complain about it for the rest of their lives. You know it and I know it. But that’s also part of the deal.

Better TV show, Married With Children or Soap?
Soap by a mile. So underrated. Antenna TV airs episodes every Sunday.

Any early guesses on stadium upgrades besides the PA system?
The scoreboard. It needs to be bigger and easier to read from distances beyond five feet. I’m curious what they’ll do with the concourse. There used to be talk about opening it up, maybe removing some seats and allowing fans to see the field. The press box might be moved from behind home plate. I wouldn’t consider that an upgrade, but we’ve braced for the possibility for years.

Has there ever been another team in major league history that has five major league ready top prospects in Triple-A who can't crack the major league roster?
I’m sure it’s happened. Right? I believe the 1993 Richmond Braves had Chipper Jones, Ryan Klesko, Javy Lopez, Tony Tarasco, Mike Kelly, Mike Mordecai, Mark Wohlers, Pedro Borbon and Marvin Freeman. Give me some others. And thanks.

Is there any scenario where Ben McDonald would wrangle an alligator in Camden Yards? It's a long season, we've got to start thinking about some original content.
I am 100 percent behind this idea. Never happen, of course, but 100 percent. We’d need play-by-play and studio analysis. Would have been a better idea to distract from a 110-loss season. Put Ben in his “Yellowstone” clothing and promise him a bourbon afterward. Trust me, I’ve done stupider things for a lot less. But this isn’t about me.

What does Jim Palmer do during a long rain delay?
He somehow gets younger.

Is Cole Irvin the first guy out of the rotation when John Means or Kyle Bradish return?
That’s the assumption based on his status as the No. 5 starter. And Means would replace another left-hander, keeping one in the rotation. But let’s see how the group is performing. Those returns aren’t imminent. I do feel that Corbin Burnes is safe. #HotTake.

Miss Florida weather yet?
You had me at “Miss Florida.” And yes. But only every five minutes.

Is Tony Kemp the shortest Oriole in team history, of course cutting off the St. Louis Browns? I think he might be.
Kemp is listed at 5-feet-6 and that’s refreshingly honest. Guys usually are listed as being taller than the truth. Don Buford was 5-7. Brian Roberts is 5-9, again per But I bet you forgot about outfielder Albie Pearson, all 5-5 of him. Pearson played for the Orioles in 1959-60 and went to the Angels in the expansion draft.

Who will make a larger impact with a major league team this year, Coby Mayo or Connor Norby? (Note how I didn't specify which major league team).
I caught that. And I really don’t know. You probably just want a guess, but then I’m shortchanging the other guy. There’s a chance that neither makes an “impact” in 2024. If so, it won’t mean that they lack the skills to play in the majors. Should I keep tap dancing or can I stop?

Connor Norby, Oriole ever or no?
I’ve noticed a lot of Norby curiosity and interest. I hope he appreciates it. I’m saying yes. He’s a huge Vikings fan (well, a fan of all Minnesota sports teams), so we’d have lots to talk about. My favorite spring training non-baseball, just two dudes talking, conversations were with Norby.  

When and why did all the players decide to rock the mustache this season? And did Jackson Holliday's inability to grow one factor into him starting at Triple-A?
Good one. They haven’t all grown mustaches, but I began to notice a few at the start of spring training. Austin Hays might have been the first to catch my attention. A goatee didn’t get approval at home. Jordan Westburg talked about his facial hair after his walk-off home run, and whether he might try to grow a handlebar mustache as a nod to the new dugout celebration. He doesn't think he's capable of making it work.

Have you had opportunity to try any of the new food offerings at the Yard yet? Have a favorite? And don’t say “your mom.”
I’d never! And I haven’t. The media was invited to sample the new items on the workout day, but plans were canceled after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse. I don’t usually visit the concessions. I’ll gladly take recommendations.

Is Rice-A-Roni still considered "The San Francisco Treat?"
Yes, but Sharon Stone gave it a run for its money.

With all the pressure she's faced and all the miracles she's performed in over 20 years as the ballpark’s heads groundskeeper, do you think Nicole Sherry has ever considered changing her name to Nicole Shots (with a chaser, of course)? Inquiring barflies want to know.
She has not. I will say, however, that she should be considered for the Orioles Hall of Fame. Guess she’d have to retire first.

What are the left-handed options to replace Cionél Perez?
Nick Vespi, of course. Andrew Suárez, Bruce Zimmermann, Matt Krook and Tucker Davidson also are in Triple-A.

How do you feel about the league emphasis on enforcing baserunner interference?
Yeah, let’s give Ángel Hernández one more thing to screw up.

Whose idea is it to keep everyone waiting Wednesday through the rain, with no apparent window to play?
It’s explained to me that Major League Baseball makes that call when an opponent isn’t coming back later in the season. The Royals don’t return to Camden Yards. Meanwhile, it shouldn’t matter if there’s zero chance of playing or if the delay must be stretched over five hours. When does common sense kick in? Anyway, they played last night. They found a window.

Think you'll ever update your profile pic or continue to use the one right out of college?
Ha! It’s from 2008 after I joined MASN and the web site. I’ve asked for it to be changed hundreds of times. I’ve provided updated photos. I have a better chance of sketching myself and embedding it in every story.

Will we ever really see John Means pitch another game at Camden Yards?
Yes. You’ll see John Means pitch plenty of games at Camden Yards and on the road. He isn’t injured. He’s just building back up.

Which frozen vegetable bag was the sacrificial lamb this spring training?
Brussels sprouts and broccoli with cheese. Considered eating one of them on my last night at the hotel but tossed them in the trash. A tradition unlike any other.

Has anyone provided any specifics as to what Cal Ripken's role will be with the team?
I asked him at the David Rubenstein presser and he didn’t really get into specifics. “I learned about business in the last 20 years, so I can make a contribution there,” he said. “I know a little bit about baseball, where I can be a sounding board for Mike (Elias). But Mike and company have really done a fantastic job of restoring baseball. They’ve loaded the farm system, got a lot of talent at the big league level. There’s nothing that needs to be fixed, as far as I’m concerned. But if I can help in some small way, I’m glad to be available as a resource.”

Doesn’t really answer my question.
I never said I’d help in some small way. And that wasn’t a question.

With sequels to Beetlejuice and Happy Gilmore in the near future, what movie would you like to see get a legacy sequel?
Bonnie and Clyde. Turns out, every bullet missed them and they were just faking it.

How much influence does Brandon Hyde get to have on the 26 man roster? A lot? A little? None?
Mike Elias makes the final call, but Hyde and others offer their input. They meet, they talk about it. I can’t put a percentage on it.

What is it about Jordan Westburg that the team thinks he can handle bouncing around the infield as a newbie?
They trust his defense and his ability to stay focused. He won’t let the moving around distract him in the field or at the plate. I saved this spring training quote from third base coach Tony Mansolino, who works with the infielders: “Wherever you put Jordan, it seems like he catches the ball.”

What's your favorite rain delay activity.
Eating my feelings.

Do you get to have lunch and supper during rain delays? Do you get to at least talk to the players to get more info and/or ideas for posts?
People still say supper? Where are we, Mayberry? The dining room eventually closes but you can grab a hot dog or nachos, where the chips and condiments have been sitting out all day. There’s no player access during the delays. They’ve also been sitting out all day.

Do you think the O's will trade Jorge Mateo at or before the All-Star break and if not, will he be on the 2025 Opening Day roster?
We’re already talking about 2025? A trade always is possible, but again, the Orioles love his speed. They’re bordering on obsessed. They want it on the roster. And they are working to expand his versatility and ability to make use of it. They can make room for Jackson Holliday, for example, without getting rid of Mateo. Now, don’t ask how they’d fit Coby Mayo and Connor Norby. One high-rent problem at a time.

Do the Orioles have scouts in Japan and have they evaluated Roki Sasaki?
The Orioles scout talent in Japan. I’m sure they’re familiar with Sasaki.

Are the Orioles still banned from recruiting in Korea or were we forgiven?
The team scouts in Korea. You, however, aren’t allowed in the country.

I would like to know your plans if MASN ceases to exist. What do you recommend that we do if your blog goes away?
Have you heard something? No, seriously. I’ve thought about Plan B. Who hasn’t in their lives? And I’m reminded again that I have a limited skill set – at least that pays. I’d have to find something that allows all of you to stay with me. I’ll need a bigger house.

How many rookies will break camp on the 26 man active roster?
One. Colton Cowser. And I need to empty this mailbag more often. Sorry.

Do you think the Orioles would try to re-sign James McCann as their backup catcher in 2025?
They might consider it if McCann wants to keep playing and is on the market. At what price, though. But they also have Samuel Basallo as their No. 2 prospect. Let’s see if he’s ready. Maverick Handley is in Triple-A and deserving of consideration.

Some classmates should get an F grade for stupid comments … Do you grade strict or on a sliding scale? … In my college physics course I had a 29 average and got a C.
I’d fail you for the dot dot dots. Might be immediate expulsion.

Over/under Ryan Mountcastle 30 home runs with the O's in 2024?
I'm taking the under only because Camden Yards will break his heart a dozen times. But I'd have him getting close.

Do you root against late comebacks so you don't have to rewrite your game story?
This is probably a good place to stop.

If service time were made of barbecue spare ribs, would you eat it?
This is definitely a good place to stop.

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