In years to come, our grandchildren will ask us about 2020. Political and societal turmoil raging against a backdrop of global pandemic will certainly give future historians much to analyze. When all the books are written, at least a few will dwell on the effects of the prolonged suspension of sporting events, both on fans and on the sports themselves.
In the case of baseball, the coronavirus shutdown brought to a rapid boil the labor conflict that had been expected to simmer for another year. It also has brought structural and rule changes, some of which could become permanent. And the shutdown has robbed us of an essential part of summer just as we desperately need diversion.
But on that latter point at least, we can take some consolation. The 2020 regular season won’t start for another month yet, but we don’t have to wait to experience the excitement of Orioles baseball, if only through rebroadcasts of games played in simpler times. MASN will keep “Orioles Classics” coming frequently until live baseball gets going again, offering you the chance set the world and its problems aside for three hours or more (we’ve got a lot of extra-inning games coming your way).
So grab whatever cool drink you prefer and catch an episode of “Orioles Classics.” History will not judge you harshly for it.
Thursday, June 25 - 9 a.m. - Nelson Cruz spent just one season as an Oriole, but he made it count, helping to power the O’s to the American League Championship Series in 2014. While the Birds were gliding to the AL East crown, they visited the Rays on the first weekend of September. In the series finale, Cruz homered with Nick Hundley aboard in the 11th inning to give the Orioles a 7-5 victory. He hit another two-run shot in the sixth and a bases-loaded triple in the ninth inning of the comeback win.
Thursday, June 25 - 7 p.m. - The Reds got their only win of the 1970 World Series on Oct. 14 in Baltimore. Jim Palmer had a 5-3 lead but walked Tony Pérez and gave up a single to Johnny Bench to start the eighth inning. Earl Weaver went to his bullpen for Eddie Watt, and Lee May clobbered him, hitting a three-run homer that would make the difference in a 6-5 win that kept hope alive in Cincinnati.
Friday, June 26 - 7 p.m. - The Reds jumped on Mike Cuellar for three runs in the first inning of Game 5, and it looked as though the Orioles might be letting the 1970 World Series slip through their fingers after winning the first three games. But Frank Robinson hit a two-run homer to close the gap in the bottom of the first, and Cuellar would permit no more Cincinnati runs while registering a complete-game win that made the Birds world champs. Paul Blair and Davey Johnson each went 3-for-4 in the Orioles’ 9-3 triumph. Robinson, Johnson and Merv Rettenmund each chipped in a pair of RBIs, the latter with a longball in the fifth.
Saturday, June 27 - 1 p.m. - Eddie Murray marked a milestone on Sept. 6, 1996, homering in the big leagues for the 500th time. Rafael Palmeiro also went yard, and Palmeiro, Bobby Bonilla and Todd Zeile each had a couple of hits as the O’s lost to the Tigers 5-4 in 12 innings. David Wells was non-decisioned in his 30th start in his only season as an Oriole.
Sunday, June 28 - 11:30 a.m. - Kevin Gausman and the Braves’ Alex Wood each worked into the eighth inning without surrendering a run at Camden Yards on July 27, 2015. Adonis García homered off Zack Britton in the ninth, but former Oriole Jim Johnson gave up singles to the first two batters in the bottom half before J.J. Hardy hit a sac fly to tie the game. Matt Wieters would be the only batter the O’s would need in the 11th, as he took a 1-0 pitch over the wall for the walk-off.
Monday, June 29 - 9 a.m. - If the Orioles’ 2019 season was a novel, it might be called “The Strange Summer of Stevie Wilkerson.” After spending most of his early pro career as an infielder, Wilkerson came to be a truly super utility player last year. Not only was he thrust into the outfield, but Wilkerson made plays there worthy of ESPN’s nightly top 10. A catch he made at Fenway Park on the last day of the season would have to be on the O’s all-time highlight reel. But even more unexpected might have been his mound excursions. Whenever manager Brandon Hyde was out of bullpen bullets, he would likely as not turn to Wilkerson, who on July 25 in Anaheim pitched the 16th inning against the Angels to become the first position player in big league history to record a save.
Tuesday, June 30 - 2 p.m. - The Pirates came to Baltimore for two nights in early June 2017 and the Orioles notched walk-off wins in succession. In the Wednesday finale of the series, Trey Mancini homered twice. His first, a two-run blast, capped the scoring in a four-run ninth that sent the game to extra innings. Mancini went deep in the 11th with two runners on, off Wade LeBlanc (now an Oriole), for the instant 9-6 win.
Wednesday, July 1 - 9 a.m. - At the conclusion of the 1991 season, the Orioles bid farewell to the site of the club’s glory years, Memorial Stadium. Following an otherwise inconsequential game with the Tigers, the team sent the grand old lady of 33rd Street off in style with ceremonies that made Baltimore misty-eyed.
Wednesday, July 1 - 7 p.m. - The Orioles won by a knockout over the Athletics on Aug. 14, 2015 when Manny Machado homered in the 13th off future Oriole Aaron Brooks. Adam Jones and Chris Davis also went deep in the 8-6 victory.