The national media attention is swelling around the Orioles, who were largely ignored through the rebuild years.
They had lots of room to conduct their work. No one crowded them.
Ryan Mountcastle had everyone chirping after his nine-RBI night that tied the club record. More rays of favorable light shined on the team. It’s seen or heard on television and radio.
MLB Network ran a segment this morning promoting “Brandon Hyde’s Landscaping Company,” with Mark DeRosa explaining why players belonged on the crew. Mountcastle is mowing lawns, Adley Rutschman handles the stone work, Austin Hays is raking, Kyle Gibson trims the hedges, Félix Bautista is blowing leaves instead of leads, and Jorge Mateo gets dirty as the mulch guy.
Everyone gets a water break, of course.
“I like our guys to get recognized,” Hyde said. “I think it makes everybody feel good. I watched the thing they did on MLB Network this morning with my landscaping company. It was phenomenal. Really, really funny. That stuff, I like to see the highlights of our guys on 'SportsCenter' and 'Baseball Tonight,' just because it’s great for them.
“Some of these guys had a couple really tough years here, and now they’re seeing themselves in a positive way. That’s great.”
Mountcastle took two more turns on the homer hose last night. Players fill their mouths with water in the dugout and spray it like sprinklers when a teammate reaches on an extra-base hit.
Introducing the H2O’s.
“I absolutely love the fact that we have personality. I think it makes it a lot more fun in a six-month grind of a season,” Hyde said. “I want our guys to be loose and have fun. All those things – the home run chain last year, the SeaWorld acts we have going on right now – those are all things that didn’t come from the coaching staff or came from us. It’s player-generated, and for me, that’s awesome. It just shows you how awesome their personality is.
“You go in our clubhouse, guys are interacting, you can tell they like each other. It’s so important because we live together 12 hours a day for six months straight, and to be able to have that sort of camaraderie.”
Mountcastle is learning his Orioles history. He knew about Hall of Famer Eddie Murray and Jim Gentile, who shared the RBI record that he tied last night. Gentile hit two grand slams on consecutive pitches in 1961 in Minnesota.
It resonates in the clubhouse and inside the manager’s office when past greats are mentioned.
“I love baseball history,” Hyde said. “I’m interested in coaching, I’m interested in all sports, honestly, with the historical aspect. I’m super appreciative of Eddie Murray being there in spring training, and Brooks Robinson coming around the way he has the last couple years. I think our guys, that’s really, really important. To have Cal Ripken here opening night, that was awesome to see him in the stands. You want to give back to older players the way they gave back. They did a lot of things for our new generation, and you want to recognize and appreciate what they went through.
“Baltimore has an amazing baseball history. To see Jim Palmer every day, you pinch yourself a little bit. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher, best pitcher ever in Baltimore. He’s around, he’s talking with our guys. We’re lucky in that way.”
The Orioles are facing their fourth left-handed starter in a row, but four consecutive right-handers are following, including three in Chicago.
A day game Thursday and two against the White Sox also are going to influence the lineups.
Whatever Hyde writes down on his card, it’s going to be more impressive than the earlier versions. The talent level and name recognition have increased.
The lineups, in keeping with this year's theme, don't seem as watered down.
“It is a lot of fun,” Hyde said. “We have a lot of talent. I can try to get everybody in there to try to keep guys as fresh as possible and match up as well as we possibly can. Our lineup’s definitely deeper than it was my first couple years, and we do things different. We have power, we have team speed, we have guys who control the strike zone now, and it’s a nice mix.
“We have a lot of guys still who I wouldn’t call true veteran-type players. (Adam) Frazier and (James) McCann are guys who have been around for a while, but besides that, guys are still coming into their own and that’s fun.”