The weekend was supposed to conclude another month of baseball, most likely leaving the Orioles at the bottom of the division standings, but we’ll never know. We do know what happens when we assume. It isn’t about wins and losses in a rebuild, the reminders coming at us like line drives. However, we could have checked on the progress of some important players in the
The baseball shutdown keeps plowing through the month of May, as we knew it would, and the people who cover the sport are digging through a mountain of memories. I’ve been fortunate to attend some historic moments in a working capacity, including the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park, when players surrounded Hall of Famer Ted Williams during an emotional tribute in the infield -
Because I’ve become quite adept at disappointing fans who seek answers from me during the coronavirus pandemic, I’m comfortable opening my latest “mailbag” and also putting the word in quotation marks. With all of the binge-watching that’s taking place in households around the world, I’m hoping that you’ll happily accept my latest sequel. Try to fit it in between episodes of “Ozark” and “Tiger King.”
No matter what happens on baseball’s major league side, the players swatting away another ownership proposal this week as if inhabited by the spirit of Dikembe Mutombo, it appears to be a certainty that the minors will remain shut down until 2021. Fans keep wondering how the Orioles’ prospects and the rebuild process are going to be impacted. No one truly knows. These are unprecedented
The last pitch thrown by Orioles reliever Miguel Castro on March 6 provided evidence that work done on the side, the late tinkering of his delivery, was producing the desired results. But could he keep it going so many miles from the spring training complex? From his home in the Dominican Republic over the past two months? Pitching coach Doug Brocail keeps checking on it
My optimism is growing that baseball will be played later this summer. Which in the past has meant nothing because I can become skeptical again in a matter of seconds. But it appears that progress is being made toward spring training 2.0 and an opening day in July. Contingencies are in place in case it doesn’t happen, which I’ve heard from people who are close
With the exception of the 37 minor league players released last week, the Orioles haven’t done much with their personnel since returning home from spring training. The sport is on hold and the camp roster is on ice. Infielder/outfielder Ryan Mountcastle, pitcher David Hess, infielder Ramón Urías and outfielder Cedric Mullins were the last players cut, and those moves became official back on March 19.
After offering a partial list of athletes who would interest me in a 10-part documentary, I wanted to pile on by including an obvious choice. One that must be near or at the top. Hank Aaron would be an incredible watch. Also a difficult one, given the ugliness that followed his pursuit of the all-time home run record. But racism isn’t supposed to be comfortable.
The Orioles hadn’t made a final decision on shortstop Richie Martin prior to baseball’s shutdown in spring training. He remained on the camp roster, which is frozen at 50 players. The club could have placed him in a utility role or, more likely, assigned him to Triple-A Norfolk in an attempt to further develop his skills. They had the freedom to go in any direction
Pitchers who are confined to their homes during the pandemic are challenged to find a mound and perhaps a willing partner to provide a target. Hitters are relegated to batting cages, if they have one built or access to a facility that’s open, in order to stay sharp. What’s an infielder to do? José Flores, who replaced Bobby Dickerson as Orioles third base coach and
The conclusion of “The Last Dance” 10-part documentary on Michael Jordan is going to leave a big void in my television viewing. It was must-see programming with its behind-the scenes access. Perhaps ESPN could milk it a little bit more and give us “Jordan: The Wizards Years.” I’ll admit that I initially thought 10 parts might be excessive. Once again, I was wrong. Is there
The shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic haven’t impacted the number of questions about baseball’s attempts to play in 2020. Spring training locations appear to be solved, with teams expected to work out in their home ballparks rather than the camp facilities. The Orioles won’t have all those fields and bullpen mounds at their disposal, so they’ll need to get creative while conducting their drills.
The Orioles did an admirable job last season of preventing the losses from breaking their collective spirit. There were some chips and cracks, but nothing they couldn’t repair. It might have been done with a win or the stubborn nature they’d exhibit in defeat, battling until the final out and whittling away at the deficit. But there also was the game exactly one year ago
The Orioles are supposed to be in Minnesota today to start a three-game series. They’re supposed to be putting last year’s failings behind them. In a big pile that could bury them if it toppled. Three games against the Twins at Camden Yards produced three losses. Three games at Target Field produced three losses. All of them coming in April, with a series win against
The pandemic and absence of sports leaves many of us lamenting losses that, when kept in proper perspective, aren’t really that important. They hurt but they don’t do irreparable harm. This isn’t a lecture. Maybe more of a reality check. I’ve got my health and my job. Same with my fiancée, sister, daughter and niece. My mother is doing the best that she can in
If the Orioles are able to play baseball in 2020, no one else on the active roster is going to have more home runs or RBIs from the previous season than designated hitter Renato Núñez. Trey Mancini ranked first in both categories, but is unable to play this year while recovering from colon cancer surgery. His goal is 2021. It was a breakout season for
The spring training shutdown did more than stop the workouts and exhibition games. It also led to the shredding of mock rosters, destroying all of the hard work put into choosing the 26 players who would head north for opening day. If there is a 2020 season, it’s going to come with an expansion that might allow teams to carry 30 players and a hefty
The Zoom conference calls have allowed Orioles catcher Austin Wynns to feel more connected to his family, friends and teammates. The club set up a promotion where he could speak with Birdland Members deprived of a season. The images on his screen have been personal in some ways and linked more to his profession on others days. But they touch his heart just the same.
Young students should be filing into Camden Yards this morning for the annual “Weather Day” event at the ballpark. A chance to watch baseball after they learn about barometric pressure. Sun is in the forecast with temperatures in the upper 60s. It’s been a little chilly for the second week of May, but no one would be complaining. The weather doesn’t really matter. We’re stuck
If every at-bat and every swing from Chris Davis in spring training led to a series of dissections, discussions and debates, Rio Ruiz’s trips to the plate by comparison seemed to be shrouded in secrecy. The player with the second-highest average on the team and the third-highest on-base and slugging percentages didn’t get nearly as much attention. There isn’t a dome at Ed Smith Stadium,
One of my more interesting and enlightening conversations in spring training, before the door slammed shut and everyone headed home, came on Feb. 24 with first baseman Chris Davis as we sat in the media workroom following his final round of batting practice. The Orioles were on the road and I stayed back in camp, waiting for Davis to leave the field and wondering if
My article last week on players who easily could be forgotten for their brief stints in Baltimore, or who attained legendary status elsewhere, sparked a fun discussion in the comments section of the blog. My biggest omission had to be Reggie Jackson, forever linked to the Yankees and Athletics and only a footnote in Orioles history. They traded for him prior to the 1976 season,
Don Long took his seat on one of the buses parked at the Ed Smith Stadium complex on March 12, assuming that he wouldn’t rise again until arriving in Fort Myers for a night game against the Twins. The trip lasted about as long as it takes to fill out a lineup card. The bus made four left turns and was back in camp. The
My father would have turned 80 today, but Stage 4 esophageal cancer took him away from his family and friends in January 2019, leaving us heartbroken that he’s gone but also relieved that he didn’t suffer. The sentence is harder to type than I imagined. I had to pause in the middle of it. We wouldn’t have been able to talk baseball this year, at
The boredom and mind-numbing, stay-at-home routine during the pandemic has led to some interesting and amusing entertainment ideas on Twitter, a place that often should be shut down or rationed in visits to avoid breathing in the pollution. The idea of wearing a mask should have started there. A recent thread was created with baseball players, famous for their years with a specific team, referred
Orioles outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. no longer has MLB The Show to distract him from baseball’s lengthy shutdown and uncertain future. He had a blast guiding his video team to a fifth-place finish and a playoff berth as the organization’s representative and earning top honors as manager with the current roster. Now he’s back to full-on pandemic life like everyone else. Smith isn’t ready to
The Orioles would have been wrapping up a three-game series this afternoon in Toronto if the coronavirus pandemic hadn’t short-circuited the season. Thirty-six games already would be in the books, assuming there were no postponements. The Orioles would enjoy an off-day Thursday, along with the rest of us, and host the Angels for a weekend series. This is how it’s supposed to be playing out.
As a young boy growing up in Severn, I used to believe that I’d have all the answers as soon as I reached adulthood. No more confusion and anxiety. Life would be much simpler. If my parents were so smart, I’d naturally become wiser over the years. Boy, was I dumb. Part of my job at MASN and MASNsports.com is to field questions, but I’ve
The last trip to the mound by Miguel Castro in an exhibition game resulted in three batters faced and three strikeouts. He left on such a high note that it should have come with a safety net. There’s no real momentum in baseball. It’s been described as the next day’s starting pitcher. And any drops of it would have evaporated since Castro received his congratulatory
Players stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic are adapting to life away from baseball. A shock to the system. They’ve been playing the sport since they were kids. For fun and later as a profession. Their body clocks are wired to it. The shutdown can challenge them both mentally and physically. “It just reminds me of a lockout or a strike, but with more
Miguel Castro vowed back in February to return home to the Dominican Republic following the 2020 season, with no fears or trepidations created from the previous month’s robbery that almost cost him more than just a couple of gold chains. The Orioles reliever made the trip much sooner than he expected with sports shutting down due to the coronavirus pandemic. And he’s using the time
While Eric Davis was undergoing colon cancer surgery and chemotherapy treatments in 1997, one of the most popular players in franchise history - a member of its Hall of Fame and satisfier of pit beef cravings - would be subjected to a similar procedure and regimen in the exact same summer. Davis was diagnosed in June during the first of his two seasons in Baltimore.