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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Where we’re still amazed we got an MLB season

As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on other major sports, it feels even more improbable that MLB actually completed a season, truncated or not.

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Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Nicholas T. LoVerde/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

You don’t need me to tell you that the COVID-19 pandemic is still around, and that it’s worse than ever. It continues to destroy lives, businesses, and everything else in its wake.

The sports world, too, has been wrecked by the devastating virus, with a couple of local teams particularly impacted recently. The Maryland men’s basketball team scrapped its scheduled game against Towson today after a member of Towson’s Tier 1 staff tested positive for COVID. It’s just one of a slew of college basketball games that have been canceled or postponed across the country in the first weeks of the season.

And we can’t forget the chaos that’s embroiled the Baltimore Ravens the last few days. Originally scheduled to face the Steelers on Thanksgiving, the Ravens suffered a coronavirus outbreak among their roster and coaching staff, with at least 12 members of the team testing positive so far. As the positive tests keep rolling in, their scheduled game was pushed back to Sunday, then pushed back again to Tuesday night, and finally moved once more to Wednesday afternoon, where the Ravens will have to play with a depleted roster that will be missing, among others, quarterback and defending MVP Lamar Jackson. What an absolute mess, to put it mildly.

Seeing other sports struggle to patch together a full season amid the pandemic makes me even more amazed that we got any kind of season at all from Major League Baseball. Yes, it started four months later than usual and was just over a third of the length of a normal season, but we got one. There was a World Series and everything!

I wouldn’t say MLB did everything right; the outbreaks that erupted in the Marlins’ and Cardinals’ clubhouses during the season threatened to torpedo the whole campaign, and then there was the whole Justin Turner debacle in the World Series clincher. But on the whole, MLB’s health protocols and hastily arranged rules and schedule changes — including eliminating games between non-divisional opponents to reduce travel — seem to have helped stem the spread of COVID. The NFL and other sports haven’t had as much luck, and it remains to be seen if they’ll be able to get through their seasons as planned.


5 best seasons by an Orioles position player -
Joe Trezza ranks the best individual seasons in Orioles history, making the controversial decision to put Cal Ripken’s 1991 over Frank Robinson’s 1966. By WAR, yeah, Cal had the better year, but his team finished in last place while Frank was the on- and off-field leader of a World Series winning club. I feel like that should be the tiebreaker.

Predictions on the Orioles’ arbitration-eligible players – The Athletic
Dan Connolly gives his best guess as to which arbitration-eligible Orioles will be tendered or nontendered this week. I wonder if any will fall into the Jonathan Villar category — traded for a fringe prospect just before the deadline in an obvious salary dump.

Orioles prepare for a pivotal week -
I don’t know if I’d call it a pivotal week, per se, but it will at least be a newsworthy one. And that’s something to be happy about in the midst of a long, quiet winter.

Will 2021 see O's top prospect in Baltimore? - Steve Melewski
What say you, friends, will Adley Rutschman debut with the Orioles this year? I like to think so, but we’re still missing the critical information of whether there will be a full minor league season and what it'll look like. Seems like that could affect his ETA.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Two former Orioles share your birthday: 1991-94 catcher and Dave co-star Jeff Tackett (55) and 2019 right-hander Dan Straily (32), who’s coming off an impressive first year in the KBO, going 15-4 with a 2.50 ERA for the Lotte Giants.

Dec. 1 has been a surprisingly busy day in Orioles history:

  • On this day in 1954, the O’s and Yankees put the finishing touches on an MLB-record 17-player trade by finalizing the players to be named later, with each club sending four minor leaguers to the other. The bulk of the trade had been completed on Nov. 17, with the Orioles sending three players — including future World Series perfect game thrower Don Larsen — for six, including No. 42 greatest Oriole of all time Gus Triandos and honorable mention Gene Woodling.
  • On this date in 1970, the Orioles acquired right-hander Pat Dobson from the Padres in a six-player deal. Dobson became one of the Birds’ four 20-game winners in 1971 and was an All-Star in 1972.
  • In 1998, the Orioles signed talented but foul-tempered slugger Albert Belle to a five-year, $65 million contract, at that time the largest free agent deal the Birds had ever handed out. Belle lasted only two years into that deal, batting .289/.374/.509 with 60 homers and 220 RBIs, before a degenerative hip condition ended his career.
  • On that same day in 1998, the O’s traded hard-throwing but frustratingly erratic reliever Armando Benitez to the Mets for catcher Charles Johnson, ending a five-year O’s career in which he posted a 3.62 ERA in 207 games but suffered some notable postseason failures.
  • And on this date in 2002, former O’s ace lefty and No. 15 greatest Oriole Dave McNally succumbed to lung cancer at age 60.