The Orioles are encouraging fans to continue wearing orange to tonight’s Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. It’s not a blackout Friday at Camden Yards.
Maybe you can bring a black umbrella to go with your orange jersey. Cover all the bases, as well as yourself.
The umpires for the ALCS are crew chief Joe West, Brian Gorman, Marvin Hudson, Dan Iassogna, Ron Kulpa, Tim Timmons and Mark Wegner.
Manager Buck Showalter must turn in his roster by 10 a.m. Here we go again.
I won’t do anymore speculating beyond the assumption that he goes with 12 pitchers and Ubaldo Jimenez and Jimmy Paredes are in danger of losing their spots. We’ll see.
The ALCS could turn into a battle of the bullpens. Neither team can afford to fall behind in the later innings.
This isn’t Detroit. Joba Chamberlain and Joakim Soria aren’t walking through that gate.
Orioles left-hander Zach Britton was asked yesterday when he first envisioned being Showalter’s closer.
“He never told me,” Britton said. “He still hasn’t told me. I’ve been waiting for him to say something. Maybe I’ll ask him.
“I never thought about it. I really didn’t. The first time somebody brought it up to me was in spring training. Brady Anderson and I were in the gym and he just asked whether I ever thought about being a closer, and I said, ‘No, I’m still trying to figure out how to warm up in the bullpen right now.’ And that was it.”
Britton’s first career save came on May 15 in Kansas City. Coincidence? Yes, absolutely. But it’s still an interesting fun-fact.
“When Buck called down in Kansas City that one day, I just felt like maybe I was the guy who was only available that day, and then I rolled with it,” Britton said. “But nobody has confirmed me as anything, so I’ve been taking the approach that I’m not really entitled to anything. Just whoever Buck wants to use in the ninth.”
It’s always going to be Britton if he’s available. He must know by now that he’s really the closer.
“I think Darren (O’Day) was kind of like, ‘I think you’re the closer,’ after my 10th save or something like that,” Britton said. “I try not to read too much into it. Like I said, I was still getting adjusted to the bullpen. I wasn’t putting too much weight into one specific inning. I was still trying to find my way down there.”
He found his way to 37 saves during the regular season.
Anderson, Cal Ripken Jr. and Mike Bordick took questions from the media yesterday. Here’s another sampling:
Q. Mike and Brady, I knew you guys were here, Cal, you saw it on TV. What was the crowd like for you guys seeing and hearing the crowd for those two games and what do you think it’s going to be like for these games?
Bordick: “Well, obviously there was great intensity. I think Baltimore has been hungry to make it back to the postseason. Got a taste of it back in 2012, so I think there were expectations building. And then to finally get there, Baltimore is truly a baseball city. They have great passion. They missed it for 14 years getting back to the postseason, so I think they’re kind of reflecting on what they’ve been waiting for. High energy. Great intensity. And I think it really shows the true passion that Baltimore has for baseball.”
Ripken: “The only thing I’ll say is I got a chance to witness it two years ago. And we’ve all played in some pretty electric environments, but two years ago when they returned to the playoffs it was like I hadn’t seen it. It was loud. It was crazy. It was electric. And so I expect it to be the same. I wish I would have had a chance to absorb that and take that in. It’s a wonderful environment here.”
Anderson: “They have it covered.”
Q. Cal, in the early years of your career, what did the Royals and specifically George Brett mean to you? And is this more special because these two teams with such great histories are trying to get back?
Ripken: “It is interesting. The first part of my career the Royals were a very good organization, playoff‑bound every year, just fresh off of being in the World Series, so it was really meaningful when you played the Royals. And I remember, I know there’s a different style that has developed as far as how the Orioles score runs and how the Royals score runs. It almost seemed more severe years ago when they played on turf. Being on that turf, if felt like they had a total advantage, seemed like it was a track meet all the time. And we had to deal with that, which is really fun. But it’s a bit ironic to look at the two organizations, they were great organizations, and they were thought of a certain way around baseball. And then for a while they went away. And now they’re both back and it’s really exciting to think about that.
“I enjoyed competing against them from the very beginning. George Brett, a great Hall of Fame player, he would always complain that he was struggling and be 3‑for‑6 or 3‑for‑7 in the series. He was a fantastic player and he was the heart and soul of that team, which was built around speed. I can’t say that team was more of a track team than this team that’s on the field now. But I’m very curious and interested to see how the styles of the two teams develop during the series.”
Q. Cal, you got to call the Royals and the Angels series. A lot of people have compared the two teams’ pitching staffs and said there are a lot of similarities between them. Do you see a lot of similarities between the pitching staffs?
Ripken: “Yeah, they’re both really good pitching staffs. And the thing that is interesting to me is that both teams kind of play a six‑inning ballgame. They want to actually get to their ‘pen and match up and do different things, so there’s a sense of urgency that develops against the starter, trying to figure out how you can maybe play for one run. Kansas City will bunt in the first inning, and play for the one run early to get a lead. But I know from a player’s perspective, we played against the Yankees during that time we were just talking about, and it felt like if you didn’t have a lead going into the sixth inning there was a lot more pressure that built on you. The game can be won or lost in any of the nine innings, but in this particular series, the first six are really important.”
Q. When you were a kid you caught the last out in the 1983 World Series. And when you squeezed that baseball, I would imagine you felt, I’m 21 years old, so we’ll do it the next year or year after or year after that. It never happened. Now it’s 30 years, do you impart that feeling to a lot of these young kids to make the most of what they have, their opportunities?
Ripken: “I don’t know if that sort of wisdom is something that you would say. I was a young man and we won the World Series and you expected with our organization that we’d have many other opportunities to play in the World Series. I am grateful looking back that I found out what it felt like to win one. But you know, each team develops and they have different players on the team. You want to tell them to enjoy it, to relax, to have fun. But many times you just have to experience it yourself before you know what it’s all about.
“When you’re older, and we had a chance in ‘96 and ‘97 and we were this close to getting back to the World Series, I was in a position as an older person that had gone through it, to realize how difficult and hard it is to win a World Series. And it’s probably more difficult now to win a World Series because you have extra rounds of playoffs and that’s a little bit more taxing for your team. I remember we won the first three out of five against the White Sox and then we went right to the World Series, so it’s only two series. Any team can win when they make the playoffs. It’s the team that plays the best, executes the best and is hot.
“Looking back on it, I’m thankful I had one. And my advice, if anybody would care, to the players that are playing in the World Series is embrace it. Have fun with it. Go out and enjoy it. Because that’s why we all play.”
Q. Last week Buck talked about the importance of having Brooks Robinson come in and talk to the team last week. There seems to be more of an effort to embrace the team’s past and bring former players into the fold. What does that mean to you as former players to see that in an organization?
Anderson: “I thought there was a concerted effort last year with the unveiling of the statues. The thing about Baltimore, it’s a great baseball city. I remember coming over here in 1988 and there was a team which I think lost 106‑something games that year, they lost 21 to start off the season. And my first game I remember getting a standing ovation for a sacrifice bunt, and there was 30,000 people in the stands. I remember thinking how great the fans were even during a losing season.
“And there’s a period of time where we played really well at the beginning of the stadium, when the stadium opened, we were a playoff contending team in ‘96 and ‘97 and the fans started expecting us to perform every single year. We dropped off and they got disenchanted and now they’re back, and I think everything has come full circle.
“The fans from Memorial Stadium are back into it the fans from Camden Yards are going crazy.”