Camden Yards was full and loud. Orange shirts were everywhere. Spirits were high and Orioles fans were probably convinced their team was heading to the World Series.
That is how it felt in early October 2014 and yesterday, during “opening day at home,” we saw a replay of the Orioles’ eighth-inning comeback win over Detroit in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.
It was a nice way to spend a few hours and a nice diversion from the virus that has put the game on hold for now. The O’s four-run rally in the last of the eighth brought them from 6-3 down to 7-6 ahead and they won by that margin.
Delmon Young’s pinch-hit three-run double put them ahead by one run and provided us with of the best and loudest moments in club history.
Two days later, Nelson Cruz hit a two-run homer and Bud Norris pitched a gem. The O’s won 2-1 at Detroit to complete a three-game sweep. The AL East champion Orioles won games started by the previous three AL Cy Young Award winners. The 2011 winner, Justin Verlander, gave up three runs in five frames in Game 2. The 2012 winner, David Price, took a tough-luck loss in Game 3. The 2013 winner, Max Scherzer, allowed five runs in 7 1/3 innings in Game 1.
The games were all close. While the Orioles took the opener 12-3, they led just 4-2 until scoring eight runs in the eighth. They then recorded 7-6 and 2-1 wins. It was the Orioles’ first postseason series sweep since they went 3-0 against the Oakland A’s in the 1971 AL Championship Series.
The Orioles improved to 3-1 in ALDS play, winning 11 of 16 games. The Game 3 win improved them to 52-35 (.598) all-time in the postseason to that point.
Even without three key players in Matt Wieters, Manny Machado and Chris Davis, the Orioles won three straight games and advanced to face Kansas City.
We know the rest. The O’s got swept in four straight by a Royals team that made diving catch after diving catch for four games. They won those four games by a total of six runs, taking the last two by 2-1 scores.
Close each game, but they didn’t win any of them. The Orioles have been in just one postseason game since those series versus the Tigers and Royals. We know how that one ended too.
Feeling a draft: A report from ESPN yesterday indicated that Major League Baseball officials are expected to shorten and delay the 2020 First-Year Player Draft. The Orioles hold the No. 2 pick in the first round for the first time. Some details began to emerge later last night.
The draft, originally set for June 10-12, would be pushed back, likely until sometime in July. It also could be limited to five to 10 rounds, not the 40 that are held now. One report stated it would be five rounds, but MLB held the right to hold a longer draft, perhaps of 10 rounds.
Plus there’s been discussion and speculation of a maximum bonus for undrafted players with a figure of $10,000 to $20,000 being floated. Such a smaller dollar figure could lead many college juniors to return to school and many high school players to opt for college. If they attend a junior college, they can re-enter the draft after one year.
But even a limited draft could be good news for the Orioles. It would allow them to make their four picks among the first 75 and five among the top 105 selections. It would thus allow them to pump some needed top young talent into their farm system.
They hold picks No. 2, 30, 39, 75 and 105.
This beats having a draft delayed until 2021 and there was speculation on that. But it also means the Orioles (and every other team) would lose out on adding depth in later rounds. They would also lose out on finding that diamond in the rough in rounds 12, 14, 16 or whenever. But all teams would lose out on that. No advantage gained by anyone.
During my recent interview of Baseball America draft expert Carlos Collazo, he noted it’s a good time to have many top 100 selections, as the Orioles do.
“It’s great for that. The strength of this year’s draft is just the depth, particularly on the college side,” he said. “For the Orioles, that’s a fantastic spot to be in. Not only do you get to the pick at the top and get one of the elite talents, you also have picks in the top 100.
“This could be one of the better draft classes in the last 10 years. I have frequently compared it to the 2015 draft, which had such a strong college class. There are people saying it’s the best class since 2011. And if you go back and look at that 2011 class, there are impact major leaguers throughout the first round. So it’s a good time to have a number of early picks.”