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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Baseball is finally returning! (Maybe.)

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Nobody is particularly happy about how we got here, but at last there’s a plan in place for a 2020 MLB season...unless COVID-19 torpedoes the whole thing.

MLB Welcome To Australia Press Conference Photo by Matt King/MLB via Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

It’s happening, folks! After months of agonizing, ultimately fruitless squabbles between baseball’s owners and players, MLB is finally putting a plan in place for a 2020 season. As long as the MLBPA agrees to health and safety protocols and confirms players can report to spring training 2.0 by July 1, the league will implement a 60-game schedule, likely starting at the end of July.

Baseball is back. And I don’t know about you, but I’m...feeling conflicted.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. With all the chaos happening in the world right now, the thought of being able to turn on the TV and watch Orioles action 60 times this year makes me smile. Baseball is better than no baseball, any day of the week.

But the process by which we got to this point was, well, infuriating. The distrust and mutual disdain between the league and the players, which gruesomely played out in the media on a near-daily basis, alienated even the most hard-core baseball fans while pushing some casual fans away from the game for good. Given the better part of three months to strike a deal, MLB and the MLBPA never could reach an agreement, forcing commissioner Rob Manfred to unilaterally implement the schedule. Blame whichever side you want — I personally think the billionaire owners were being petulant and unreasonable by constantly trying to short-shrift the players — but either way, it’s a terrible look for baseball.

That, though, isn’t the biggest reason to feel uneasy about all of this. The overarching question, with COVID-19 cases reaching new highs all around the country, is: will they even be able to play the games? Should they even play the games? We don’t have the specifics on what MLB’s health and safety protocols entail, but can the players ever truly feel safe? What will happen in the (likely) scenario that a player, or multiple players or staff members, tests positive for the virus during the season, as has happened recently at MLB spring training sites?

This whole thing could turn out to be a disaster. Or, if everything goes right, it could be just the welcome distraction we all need. I’m frankly nervous to find out.

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe...

In a universe where COVID-19 doesn’t exist, the Orioles opened a three-game series at Yankee Stadium yesterday with a 9-3 win, improving to 63-16 on the season. The MLB-worst Yankees, now 13-66, are in the throes of full-blown fire sale, and the two teams capped the night by pulling off an 18-player trade, the largest deal in MLB history (surpassing the 17-player trade between the O’s and Yankees in 1954).

The Orioles acquired Gerrit Cole, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino, and...well, basically the entire Yankees starting lineup and rotation, with the Yankees paying for all of their salaries in full. (The Yankees also offered Aroldis Chapman, to which the O’s said, “No thanks.”) In exchange, the Orioles sent the Yanks Dillon Tate, Josh Rogers, and Cody Carroll, the three pitchers they acquired for Zack Britton in 2018. “We were kicking ourselves for losing those three guys a couple years ago,” said Yankees GM Brian Cashman. “We’re delighted we’ll be able to build around them during our sure-to-be long, arduous rebuilding process.”

The O’s didn’t really have any need for any of the new players, considering everyone in their current lineup is OPSing over .900 with 20+ home runs and their rotation has a cumulative 1.78 ERA, but they’ll stash them on their bench and in middle relief. You know, for depth.

Simulation brought to you by the PWAG (Paul’s Wild-Ass Guesses) system.


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Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! The tallest player in franchise history was born on this day, the 6’9’’ lefty and former NBA player Mark Hendrickson. Hendrickson, who finished his career with the Birds from 2009-11, turns 46.

The Orioles have had a bunch of exciting and/or historic victories on this day in history:

  • In their inaugural season, 1954, the Orioles set a then-American League record for longest game time, going four hours and 58 minutes to beat the Red Sox in 17 innings. (Only four hours and 58 minutes? Nowadays that’s, like, six innings of a Yankees/Red Sox game.) The Orioles could have avoided the slog if they’d merely held a 7-3, ninth-inning lead, but the Sox scored four runs off Mike Blyzka to force extras, after which eight scoreless innings followed before Dick Kryhoski’s walkoff, run-scoring fielder’s choice.
  • Ten years later, the Orioles mounted an incredible come-from-behind victory against the Yankees, scoring seven runs in the eighth inning to pull off a 9-8 win. Charlie Lau tied a record with two pinch-hits in one inning, starting the rally with a single and finishing it with an RBI double.
  • In 1973, in the second game of a doubleheader, righty Jesse Jefferson had a spectacular major league debut. He dominated the Red Sox at Fenway Park, carrying a shutout into the ninth inning, before Rico Petrocelli heartbreakingly tied the game with a two-out homer. Undaunted, the O’s got the lead back in the top of the 10th and Jefferson tossed a scoreless bottom half to seal his first ML win.
  • In 1976 at Memorial Stadium, the O’s again toppled the Red Sox in dramatic fashion. Jim Palmer worked all 10 innings for the Orioles and seemed on his way to a frustrating loss after Jim Rice’s solo homer in extras. But with two outs in the home half, Tony Muser singled and Bobby Grich smacked a walkoff homer.
  • In the first game of a 1979 twin bill, Eddie Murray blasted a walkoff three-run homer in the ninth to beat the Tigers, 8-6.
  • And in 1991, the Orioles — who entered the day 0-5 in extra-inning games — won both ends of a doubleheader in extras in Kansas City. The opener was a sensational comeback, in which Chris Hoiles crushed a ninth-inning grand slam to tie the game, and Tim Hulett and Brady Anderson homered in the 10th. The nightcap was nearly a monumental collapse; the Orioles blew a five-run lead in the ninth, but recovered to win in the 12th on a Joe Orsulak RBI single.