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Friday Bird Droppings: Where we’re looking ahead to 2021

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The truncated 2020 season hasn’t started yet, but the Orioles unveiled their 2021 schedule that includes a full 162 games. Let’s hope it plays out that way.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles-Workouts Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

The Orioles and MLB are still on track to begin the 2020 season two weeks from today. But it’s never too early to start looking forward to next year (for a lot of reasons).

The O’s released their 2021 schedule yesterday, and my, it’s certainly refreshing to see a full, six-month, 162-game slate laid out in front of us. It’ll be a nice change of pace from the paltry 60 games we’re about to witness — if we even end up getting that many.

The 2021 schedule, as always, has its quirks, including a weird 10-game road trip in June-July that takes the Birds through three time zones, from Toronto to Houston to Los Angeles. But the Orioles will also have 17 home games in September, so they’ll get to spend a lot of time on friendly terrain for their late-season pennant push. (What? It could happen!)

Of note: instead of repeating this year’s originally scheduled (and subsequently canceled) interleague matchups against the NL Central, the Orioles will be matched up against the NL East next year. So for those of you who are Orioles and Cubs fans and were looking forward to seeing them square off at Camden Yards this year, like my father-in-law, it looks like you’ll have to wait another three years or so.

Of course, before we talk about the 2021 schedule as if it’s definitely going to happen as planned, we can’t ignore the coronavirus elephant in the room. Will the looming specter of COVID-19 still be around to muck things up a year from now? I would certainly hope not, but then, four months ago, I didn’t really expect it to still be as big a problem as it is now.

In a perfect world, by this time next year there will be a readily available vaccine and COVID-19 will be all but kaput. If that’s not the case, well, we’ll have far bigger problems than the prospect of another interrupted baseball season.

Links

The team gave up and so did I: Inside the Beat 2017 Orioles – The Athletic
Britt Ghiroli continues her Inside the Beat series with the disappointing 2017 O’s season, which marked the beginning of the end of both Ghiroli’s MLB.com career and the Orioles’ status as a good team.

What it was like to be at Camden Yards for the Orioles’ first intrasquad game - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Steve Cockey talks about the experience of covering an intrasquad game while dealing with the new health protocols for the media. It sounds like the Orioles really have their act together as far as keeping people as safe as possible.

Hunter Harvey: “I couldn’t wait to get back to a ballfield” - School of Roch
I’m looking forward to seeing what Hunter Harvey can do with a full, healthy season, even if it’s only 60 games. And I’m especially looking forward to again seeing his mullet, which Roch Kubatko dubs “ultra-spectacular.”

Healthy Stewart ‘even more confident’ in camp - Orioles.com
One player helped by the late start to the season is DJ Stewart, who was rehabbing a surgically repaired ankle in April but is back to full health now (and one of just two available outfielders on the active roster). This could be a make-or-break season for the former first-round pick, so best of luck to him.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Two current Orioles celebrate a birthday today: righty David Hess (27) and lefty Josh Rogers (26). Hess is one of the 45 players working out at summer camp at Camden Yards, hoping to earn a spot in the Opening Day bullpen, while Rogers is still recuperating from Tommy John surgery he underwent last July.

A bunch of former Orioles also have birthdays today, including 2017 seven-game infielder Johnny Giavotella (33), outfielder and tanning bed enthusiast Marty Cordova (51), early-2000s lefty Buddy Groom (55), and 1975-76 infielder Bob Bailor (69).

On this day in 1968, the Orioles fired manager Hank Bauer, who had led the club to its first World Series championship two years earlier. The O’s replaced Bauer with a coach named Earl Weaver. That worked out okay.

In 2001, Cal Ripken made his final All-Star appearance a memorable one, swatting a home run and winning game MVP honors in the American League’s 4-1 win in Seattle.

The Orioles have won their last five games played on this date, including two games that ended on a Jonathan Schoop walkoff (a homer to beat the Nationals in 2015 and an RBI single to ice the Yankees in 2018). Too bad Schoop is no longer on the Orioles to go for another July 10 walkoff today. If, you know, baseball were actually being played today.