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Friday Bird Droppings: Where the worst-case ALCS may well happen

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The unlikeable Astros have already advanced, and the hated Yankees could join them tonight. Yuck.

League Championship Series - New York Yankees v Houston Astros - Game Six
The classic Aaron-Judge-towering-over-Jose-Altuve photo is about the only good thing that could come out of a Yankees/Astros ALCS.
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

We had another jam-packed slate of postseason baseball yesterday, as all four Division Series were in action. That won’t happen again this year, thanks to a slew of sweeps that helped set the field for next week’s Championship Series. Among the teams to advance were the (barf) Houston Astros, the scandal-ridden, fraudulent 2017 world champs, a club that finished under .500 during the regular season but snuck into the expanded playoff field because almost every other team in their division was terrible. The Astros are, uh...what’s the exact opposite of the phrase “America’s Team”?

Under normal circumstances, we’d be rooting hard for the Astros’ ALCS opponent. Except that that opponent may well end up being the New York Yankees, who, while not plagued by any trash can-banging scandals or other allegations of misconduct, are unlikeable simply because they’re the New York Yankees. Like the Astros, the Yankees only made the playoffs because MLB decided to expand to eight teams per league this year; New York had the sixth-best record in the AL and would’ve been left out under the usual five-team format. And these are the two teams that could be playing for a spot in the World Series? This would be a definite “rooting for the meteor” type of scenario.

There’s still a chance this nightmare matchup can be avoided. The Yankees will take on Tampa Bay in the winner-take-all Game 5 of the ALDS tonight, so we know where our rooting interests lie. The Rays will have their work cut out for them, though, with Yankee ace Gerrit Cole scheduled to start on short rest.

Good luck, Rays. We’re all counting on you.

Poll

Would you watch an Astros/Yankees ALCS?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Yes. It’s still postseason baseball.
    (120 votes)
  • 24%
    No. I can’t stand to see either team do well.
    (67 votes)
  • 32%
    I haven’t been watching the playoffs anyway.
    (90 votes)
277 votes total Vote Now

Links

Vince Bagli was The Dean of Baltimore Sports - BaltimoreBaseball.com
I regret to say that I was unfamiliar with Vince Bagli until his passing earlier this week. But the iconic sportscaster left a lasting legacy in Baltimore, writes Rich Dubroff.

On the passing of a local sports legend and other notes - Steve Melewski
Melewski too shares his fond remembrances of Vince Bagli, and also notes that the Braves just matched an impressive postseason feat last accomplished by the ’66 Orioles. Today happens to be a special anniversary for that ’66 club, as you'll see in the Orioles History section below. (That’s what we call a teaser, folks.)

Crunching some Orioles numbers - School of Roch
Roch Kubatko runs down some quirky statistics for the 2020 Orioles, including the fact that Thomas Eshelman and Travis Lakins Sr. were the co-leaders in wins. As if you needed further proof that wins are a pretty useless statistic.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Three former Orioles share your birthday, including fan favorite Brian Roberts, who turns 43. Roberts, who was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 2018, ranks second in franchise history in stolen bases and fourth in doubles. This past season he provided Zoom commentary for some MASN broadcasts. Hopefully he’ll get to be in the booth a little more often next year. Also celebrating birthdays today are 2015-16 righty Chaz Roe (34) and 2013 four-game outfielder Jason Pridie (37).

On this day in 1966, the O’s achieved ultimate glory, bagging a World Series championship for the first time in franchise history. Woo! The Birds threw their third straight shutout of the series, this one by Dave McNally, and set a World Series record with 33 consecutive scoreless innings. Frank Robinson’s fourth-inning homer off fellow Hall of Famer Don Drysdale provided the game’s only run, leading the Orioles to a four-game sweep over the heavily favored defending champ Dodgers.

But beyond that, and a win in Game 1 of the 1971 World Series, October 9 has historically been a terrible day for the Orioles. They’ve lost their last four games played on this date, all in the ALCS:

  • In 1973, the Orioles lost Game 3 to the Athletics on a walkoff homer by Bert Campaneris in the 11th inning. Both starting pitchers worked the entire game, with Mike Cuellar’s 11-strikeout performance being ruined by the walkoff blast while Ken Holtzman (who would join the Orioles three years later) holding the Birds to three hits in 11 frames. The defeat put the Orioles in a 2-1 hole in the best-of-five series that they would go on to lose.
  • One year later, the Orioles again lost to the Athletics by an identical 2-1 score, this time ending the series in the fourth game. Again Cuellar was on the wrong side of the decision, as he labored for nine walks (but somehow no hits) in 4.2 innings, while Hall of Famers Catfish Hunter and Rollie Fingers combined to allow just one run.
  • On this day in 1996, a punk kid reached over the fence at Yankee Stadium. I needn’t say more.
  • And in 1997, in a dagger of a loss to Cleveland in Game 2, Marquis Grissom’s three-run homer off Armando Benitez in the eighth inning erased a 4-2 Orioles lead and tied the series. Well, at least Armando wouldn’t have any more gut-punching screwups in that series, he said sarcastically.