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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Where summer camp starts tomorrow

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A 2020 MLB season is on the horizon (for now, at least). The Orioles will finally return to the field tomorrow for the first time in more than three months.

MLB: Spring Training-Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Today is the last day of June, and if all goes well — and that’s a big if — this might be our last month without baseball for a while.

Tomorrow, MLB summer camp begins all across the country. Players and coaches are reporting to Spring Training 2.0, which each club is holding in its home city, and we’re going to get our first look at how the new COVID-19 health and safety protocols play out. Everyone will be tested for the virus as they arrive at camp, so don’t be surprised to hear about slews of positive tests before any baseball action even gets started. And we’re already starting to hear about players who have decided to opt out of the season entirely, including the NationalsRyan Zimmerman and the DiamondbacksMike Leake, among others.

And then, well, who knows? The plan is for teams to work out, get in playing shape, and perhaps hold some intrasquad games or exhibition games for the next three weeks, with Opening Day scheduled for July 23 or 24. Will we actually get there, or will the spread of COVID-19 prove to be too much for baseball to start its regular season at all? Even if it does start, how likely is it that we’ll get through all 60 games in the schedule, plus the postseason?

I suppose all we can do is take things one day at a time. For now, the Orioles are making their way to Camden Yards, and as nervous as I am about how this MLB experiment is going to play out, a part of me is looking forward to hearing some actual baseball news trickle out of camp. It sure has been a while.

Links

Elias: “So far we are expecting full participation” - School of Roch
Mike Elias spoke with the media yesterday about how the Orioles are preparing for this unusual season. My heart skipped a beat when he said “we’re going to do our best to get to the playoffs and have a successful World Series,” until I realized the “we” referred to MLB, not the Orioles.

Back to baseball: Looking closer at the Orioles’ 60-man — 44-man — roster pool – The Athletic
Dan Connolly breaks down who is — and who isn’t — a part of the Orioles’ initial 44-man roster pool. Seeing all these names again really reminded me of just how bad the Birds’ roster is, especially without Trey Mancini. Hoo boy, this is a threadbare group.

Orioles’ 2020 strength of schedule will be difficult - Steve Melewski
Playing against only AL East and NL East teams is going to be brutal for the Orioles. They’ll be facing only two teams that finished under .500 last year. On the plus side, they don’t have to face the Twins, who swept the season series against the O’s last season and hit 23 homers in six games. So, uh...yay?

Baltimore Orioles cannot figure out path for Ryan Mountcastle - Call to the Pen
Ryan Mountcastle wasn't included on the Orioles’ initial 44-man roster list, and David Hill is hopping mad about how the club is mistreating him. Eh, I think it’s a little early to accuse the O’s of burying Mountcastle. There’s literally been no season yet — what are they supposed to do?

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Nobody with a June 30 birthday has ever played for the Orioles. But it is the birthday of Chan Ho Park, who served up the meatball that allowed Cal Ripken to dramatically homer in his final All-Star Game in 2001.

Speaking up Cal Ripken, on this day in 1997, he hit a grand slam to help the Orioles beat the Phillies in their first game against them since the 1983 World Series and their first ever in the regular season. (Interleague play was new that year.) Mike Mussina earn his 100th career win in that game.

But perhaps more notably, today is the 11th anniversary of the greatest comeback in Orioles history, as they scored 10 unanswered runs in their final two at-bats to stun the Red Sox, 11-10, at Camden Yards. What an epic game that was (as Stacey recapped for Camden Chat). The Orioles were losing by nine runs when a rain delay halted the game for over an hour. Not many fans were left in the stands by the time play resumed (and if I hadn’t been in the press box that night, I might have stopped paying attention, too). And then, boom — five runs in the seventh inning and five more in the eighth, capped by Nick Markakis’ go-ahead double off Jonathan Papelbon, and suddenly the Red Sox were trudging off the field, shell-shocked. It was just... <chef’s kiss> ... perfect.