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New Years Eve Bird Droppings: Saying good riddance to the strangest of years

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2020 went a tiny bit better than expected for the Orioles, but was pretty terrible overall. So long! May 2021 bring the world better things.

Entertainment & Tourism Industries In New York City Struggle Under Pandemic Restrictions Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Hello, friends.

There are now 92 days remaining until the next scheduled Orioles game, which is Opening Day 2021. We’ll have a better idea of whether that original schedule can stick when we find out if there are any disruptions to spring training, now set to get started about a month and a half from now.

Crucially, today is the last day of 2020. It has not been a fun year for many people. All of the things that made 2020 not particularly fun will not magically go away as soon as the clock strikes midnight tonight.

Still, the coming of 2021 can inspire some optimism that maybe things can be better eventually. Vaccines are going out. More will be coming. We can hope these things result in real improvement in everyone’s quality of life shortly. Maybe not as short as we’d like, but it’s something.

In the sphere of Orioles baseball, which is not at all a matter of life or death like the pandemic but is the focus of this website and so always matters here, I am less confident that 2021 will have a better winning percentage than 2020. The Orioles went 25-35 in the shortened 60-game season, and as we’ve had about a month to lament, they’ve traded one key contributor away and kicked another couple to the discard pile.

These were not moves made with short-term improvement in mind. In the long run I do remain hopeful for the Orioles, though. The prospects will still be coming. Hopefully we’ll get to see a bunch of them as 2021 progresses. The 2020 season was made better for getting to see Ryan Mountcastle, Keegan Akin, and Dean Kremer.

Knocking on the door this year - we can hope - could be Zac Lowther, Yusniel Diaz, and more... maybe even including a little late-season appearance for Adley Rutschman? Hey, even a dyed-in-the-wool pessimist like me can get swept up in a flight of fancy from time to time. The Orioles could well have a worse winning percentage but leave fans feeling better about the medium-term outlook for the franchise.

Around the blogO’sphere

More on Martin in shortstop competition (School of Roch)
It would be nice if another Orioles Rule 5 pick pays off a couple of years down the road after it was made. I don’t have high hopes for Richie Martin, which doesn’t mean that I won’t be rooting for him to succeed.

Five farm systems that improved most in 2020 (MLB Pipeline)
“Overall, the system has more high-end talent and projectable depth than it has in years.” Hey, that’s what I like to hear!

Five things the Orioles will be glad to leave behind in 2020 (Baltimore Sun)
The number five remains popular when it comes time to make a list. One of Jon Meoli’s five is to leave behind “Believing in Chris Davis’s false dawns.” I have a suspicion that the Mike Elias-era Orioles have not actually believed in Davis in any way.

Associated Press’ David Ginsburg is retiring after covering Baltimore sports for 30 years (Baltimore Baseball)
If you’ve read an AP story in Baltimore sports for the past three decades, it was probably either written by David Ginsburg or by a freelancer he picked. Here’s my brief Ginsburg story: One time I was in the press box at Camden Yards about an hour before a game, typically when the regular beat writers go to eat their dinner. There was an announcement that the Orioles had just designated Endy Chavez for assignment. Several people grumbled and postponed dinner. Ginsburg said, “Ah, who gives a shit about Endy Chavez?” and went to eat.

A future rotation candidate who may be flying under the radar (Steve Melewski)
Steve wants to make sure you don’t forget about Kyle Bradish, part of the Dylan Bundy trade return.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

Today in 2010, the Orioles signed Derrek Lee to a one-year contract. This did not result in success for the “buy the bats” portion of Andy MacPhail’s “grow the arms, buy the bats” philosophy.

There are a few former Orioles who were born on New Years Eve. They are: 1990 eight-game outfielder Donell Nixon, 1964-65 reliever Ken Rowe, and 1955 nine-game pitcher Ted Gray.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: Revolutionary War loser Charles Cornwallis (1738), Gettysburg Union general George Meade (1815), Marshall Plan planner George Marshall (1880), actor Anthony Hopkins (1937), musician John Denver (1943), author Connie Willis (1945), rapper Psy (1977), and gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas (1995).

On this day in history...

In 1501, a Portuguese armada led by João da Nova battled the Zamorin of Calicut at Cannenore. da Nova’s outnumbered ships emerged victorious. This battle is recognized as being the first earliest known use of a naval line of battle, and also for being the first naval battle to be settled solely by cannon fire.

In 1796, the city of Baltimore was incorporated.

In 1862, West Virginia was admitted as a state after President Lincoln signed an act authorizing its admission.

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And that’s the way it is in Birdland on New Year’s Eve. Have a safe Thursday.