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Friday Bird Droppings: Where we’re wondering how a shortened season would play out

If MLB’s plan for an 82-game schedule comes to pass, could the O’s be unlikely contenders? Don’t answer that.

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MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

It’s been three days since MLB sent its proposal for the 2020 season to the players’ union to review. Since then we’ve heard plenty of public jockeying from each side — with owners arguing that they couldn’t possibly afford to pay players their full salaries, and players adamant that they won’t accept a revenue-sharing plan — but no real news on whether any progress is being made in closed-door discussions.

We do know some details of what MLB’s proposal entails, if the financial and logistical issues can be hammered out. Among other things, it calls for an 82-game schedule beginning in early July, and seven postseason teams (including four wild cards) in each league. That 82-game slate, just over half the length of a normal season, would be the shortest in MLB history. The Athletic’s Tim Britton explored how past seasons would’ve been drastically altered with an 82-game schedule instead of 162.

The Orioles were no exception. In the past 20 years alone, plenty of their seasons would have had very different results if they’d stopped the regular season after game No. 82 — and if there had been four wild card teams instead of two (or one). In 2016, for instance, the Orioles were in first place in the AL East after their 82nd game, so they would’ve hosted a Division Series against one of the wild card teams instead of having to play a sudden-death Wild Card Game in Toronto. You know how that went.

In fact, under the proposed 2020 rules, the Orioles would have made the playoffs five consecutive years from 2012-2016 instead of missing out in the odd-numbered years. The revised system actually would have hurt them in 2014, though. Instead of winning the division by 12 games as they did in real life, they would have finished in second place behind the Blue Jays.

Rather than suffering 14 consecutive losing seasons from 1998-2011, the Orioles would’ve cut that streak in half. In 2005, they were 44-38 at the 82-game mark. Their real-life losing season in 2008 (when they were 68-93) also would’ve transformed into a winning one (42-40), albeit without a postseason spot.

Going back even further, there would have been a lot of weirdness in 2001 and 2002. In both years, the O’s had a losing record at the 82-game point, but in both cases they still would’ve been tied for the fourth wild card spot with the White Sox, necessitating a one-game playoff. That’s right — a sub-.500 team would’ve made the playoffs.

That illustrates one of the flaws with the proposed 2020 playoff system — although, come to think of it, maybe that’s a feature, not a bug. More teams will have a shot at contention in such a short season.

Maybe even the Orioles could sneak into the playoffs this year? ...Eh, let’s not go crazy.


MLB Return: What Major League Baseball’s latest proposal for a 2020 season means for the Orioles | NBC Sports Washington
If MLB’s proposal for playing only regional games comes to pass, the Orioles’ schedule will get a lot harder...but that’ll also given them a leg up on a high draft pick in 2021, writes Andrew Gillis. See, there’s always a silver lining!

Snubbed: The Hall of Fame case for Bobby Grich – The Athletic
Fabian Ardaya writes about the criminally underrated Bobby Grich, who was perhaps the best O’s second baseman in history and put up Hall-worthy numbers, but fell off the ballot in his first year. Perhaps one day the Veterans Committee will give Grich the fair consideration he deserves.

Wynns imparts wisdom and advice to young players via Zoom - School of Roch
Austin Wynns generously donated his time to talking catching with baseball academy students for two hours. Meanwhile I get annoyed when I have to move from the recliner to the couch to have a Zoom call with friends.

A visit with O’s top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez (with video) - Steve Melewski
Among the many bummers of baseball’s shutdown is that minor league games almost certainly won't happen in 2020, so the Birds’ top prospects will miss an entire year of actual competition. Here, Grayson Rodriguez talks about how he's trying to his best to prepare on his own.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Two former Orioles were born on this day: 2002-06 lefty Eric DuBose (44) and 2009 catcher Guillermo Rodriguez (42).

On this day in 1991, Queen Elizabeth attended a game at Memorial Stadium as a guest of President George H.W. Bush. The queen, the president, and their spouses greeted Orioles and Athletics players in a receiving line in the dugout before the game, then watched the first two innings from owner Eli Jacobs’ suite. It was the first baseball game the queen had ever attended. No word on whether she enjoyed it.