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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Where we really missed baseball yesterday

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Baseball on Memorial Day is an American tradition. Until this year.

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Detroit Tigers v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

It’s now been 75 days since MLB was shut down, and 61 since what would have been Opening Day. Yesterday, the Orioles would have reached the one-third mark in their 2020 schedule by playing their 54th game. They would have returned home from a 10-game road trip to begin a week of games at Camden Yards, starting with a Memorial Day afternoon contest against the White Sox. Instead...

Yeah.

It’s a scary world out there right now, for all sorts of reasons that are far more serious than baseball being on hold. But baseball being on hold sure doesn’t make things any better. Missing out on something that has been a mainstay for the last 140 years really drives home the point about how much this all sucks.

Normally in this space, I concoct an elaborate storyline about how the Orioles would be faring in a parallel universe where COVID-19 doesn’t exist, with increasingly wacky things happening like the Orioles hitting 11 home runs in a game or signing a bunch of 50-year-old ex-players to lead them to victory.

But in this case, all I can think about is the simplest scenario. If COVID-19 didn’t exist, the Orioles would’ve played baseball yesterday, on their home field, in beautiful, sunny, 70-degree weather. Thousands of fans would’ve filed into the ballpark (and collected their Orioles beach towel giveaway) or watched or listened to their favorite team from their homes, perhaps while getting together with family and friends. The Orioles might have won. They might have lost. It doesn’t really matter. There would have been baseball, and it would have been glorious.

Perhaps there will still be baseball, in some form or another, sometime this year. So far, though, the wait has been interminable.

Links

Simulating the 2020 Orioles: Making trades, losing games, promoting prospects – The Athletic
The simulated Orioles, under Dan Connolly’s stewardship, have the worst record in baseball and a 6.53 team ERA. If that’s what the real season would’ve been like, maybe I don’t miss it as much as I thought. On the plus side, virtual Hanser Alberto was the All-Star Game MVP.

MLBPipeline.com’s Jim Callis on O’s No. 2 pick and more (with video) - Steve Melewski
Even if there’s no baseball on the field in June, there will definitely be an MLB draft to give us something to talk about. Jim Callis still thinks Vanderbilt infielder Austin Martin will be the O’s pick, but mentions Texas A&M lefty Asa Lacy as a potential alternative.

A summer for great baseball books - BaltimoreBaseball.com
If you’re the kind of person who always says, “I would love to read, but I just don’t have the time,” what’s your excuse now, buddy? Here, Rich Dubroff provides some classic baseball book selections.

O’s Top 5 right-handed starters: Trezza’s take - Orioles.com
Joe Trezza ranks the Orioles’ top five righty starters in franchise history. There must be some kind of mistake; I don't see Ubaldo Jimenez anywhere on the list.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You share a birthday with 2017-19 Orioles right-hander Gabriel Ynoa (27), who last season went 1-10 with a 5.61 ERA. This past winter he signed with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of the Nippon Professional Baseball League, which recently announced that it will start its season June 19. Other ex-Orioles celebrating birthdays today are 1991 righty Stacy Jones (53) and 1993 lefty John O’Donoghue (51).

The Orioles have lost five straight games on this date, including a Mychal Givens meltdown in Colorado last year, when he blew a ninth-inning lead by walking home the tying run before a game-ending sac fly. But the Birds have played some barnburners on May 26, too:

  • In 1979, the Orioles outlasted the Tigers in a 16-inning marathon in Detroit, 7-5. After closer Don Stanhouse committed an error on what would’ve been the final out of the game, allowing the Tigers to tie the score in the ninth, Sammy Stewart worked five shutout innings of relief, and Lee May’s two-run single in the 16th provided the margin of victory.
  • In 1990, the O’s scored two runs on a strikeout. In the top of the 10th in Texas, Cal Ripken struck out swinging while his brother Billy and Joe Orsulak took off for a double steal. Rangers catcher (and future O’s bench coach) John Russell threw wildly to third, allowing Ripken to score, and then third baseman Steve Buechele made a bad throw home to bring home Orsulak, too. Just a brutal defensive play for the Rangers, and it led to an O’s 7-5 win.
  • In 2014 in Milwaukee, the Orioles stunned the Brewers’ closer, former Birds dud Francisco Rodriguez, by scoring two runs against him in the ninth to erase a deficit. Nick Hundley’s RBI single in the 10th delivered the game-winner.