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Friday Bird Droppings: Where we’re thankful Cal is okay

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The Iron Man revealed yesterday that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in February, but has since made a full recovery.

MLB: Houston Astros at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Usually I begin Bird Droppings with some no-doubt brilliant observations about the latest Orioles performance on the field. But this time we must first turn our attention to a much more important story that dropped a few hours before yesterday’s game. Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr. revealed on a Zoom media call that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in February and — thankfully — has fully recovered after having surgery in March.

Whew. Even knowing he’s OK now, chills ran down my spine when I heard that news. It’s always scary to hear the “c” word uttered, whether it’s a hometown sports hero you’ve cheered from afar or a friend or family member you hold dear to your heart. Ripken’s outcome was the best-case scenario (if anything involving a cancer diagnosis can be considered “best”), in that the cancer was caught and contained early enough that he didn’t have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments. But so many others aren’t so lucky — as Cal himself knows after his father died of lung cancer in 1999 — which is what convinced Ripken to share his experience after keeping it private for months.

“The reason I’m letting it slip out now is I want to use the opportunity to help other people who struggle with that decision and encourage other people to go get their regular exams, get their tests,” he told the media.

As we celebrate the welcome return to health of an Orioles great — and I apologize for the awkward segue — there’s not much celebration to be had about the present-day Orioles. The club ran its losing streak to five in a row last night after getting blown out by the worst team in the AL, the Red Sox.

It was the kind of flat, mistake-filled performance that has become the norm for the Birds during this woeful, 1-6 homestand so far. The Red Sox took an early lead when O’s outfielders failed to catch a routine fly that had an expected batting average of .060, followed by Hanser Alberto bobbling a potential double-play ball. Starter Asher Wojciechowski labored for so many pitches that he couldn’t get out of the fourth inning. And the O’s offense sleepwalked through the game as they’ve done for much of the week. Tyler Young’s recap has the gory details.

The Birds, after just last week winning six in a row and inspiring some national media pundits to proclaim them contenders, are threatening to free-fall their way out of relevance in a hurry. They’re now under .500, they’ve fallen to fourth place in the division, and they’re no longer in playoff position. At this rate, they could soon replace the Red Sox in the cellar of the AL East.

Still, there are much bigger things in life to worry about than a bad baseball team. The Iron Man’s health scare was a potent reminder of that fact.

Links

Hyde meets with team to review fundamentals - School of Roch
Yeah, uh...Brandon? I don’t think it worked.

Former O’s offer support as Cal Ripken Jr. reveals details of cancer battle – The Athletic
Billy Ripken, Brady Anderson, and others talk about how they reacted when Cal told them of his diagnosis. The prevailing sentiment was, “Don’t worry. You got this.”

1 prospect for each team we could see soon - MLB.com
The Orioles’ representative on this list is not Ryan Mountcastle. Apparently MLB.com doesn’t think we’ll be seeing him anytime soon, and they’re probably right.

Sara Perlman has been by Trey Mancini's side throughout his bout with cancer - BaltimoreBaseball.com
If you hadn’t heard, Trey Mancini and former MASN sideline reporter Sara Perlman are an item, and he calls her “the MVP of this whole ordeal” for caring for him during his chemotherapy. They seem like the absolute best.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! The two Orioles born on this day are 1971 infielder Jerry DaVanon (75) and 2019 outfielder Mason Williams (29), who is currently at the Birds’ alternate site after playing 11 games for the O’s last season.

Historically, Aug. 21 has been a good day for Orioles wins, with the club carrying an all-time record of 36-25 on this date. They even had a blowout victory on this date last year, though they also gave up their MLB record-tying 258th home run.

On this day in 1999, Brady Anderson led off both games of a doubleheader with a home run, becoming just the third player ever to do so.

And on this date in 1977, Orioles legend Brooks Robinson officially ended his playing career, going on the voluntary retired list eight days after he made his last appearance. Brooks retired as a surefire Hall of Famer, spending all 23 of his MLB seasons with the Orioles, winning 16 Gold Gloves, and — at the time of his retirement — rating as the franchise’s all-time leader in games played (2,896), runs (1,232), hits (2,848), total bases (4,270), and RBIs (1,357).

He now ranks second in all those categories, having since been passed by another Hall of Fame Oriole who we’re especially thinking of today. All the best, Cal.