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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Where the Orioles have a strange week in store

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The O’s will play four games at Camden Yards, but be the “road” team in two of them, against a COVID-stricken club that’s reconstructing half its roster from scratch, all while a hurricane barrels toward the coast. Fun times.

MLB: AUG 02 Rays at Orioles
Be honest, would you recognize Andrew Velazquez even if he didn’t have a mask on?
Photo by Nicole Fridling/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Well, I guess we all knew that attempting to play a baseball season in the middle of a pandemic would have its challenges. But man, are things getting bizarre.

Over in the NL Central, the St. Louis Cardinals are the latest team to be felled by an outbreak of COVID-19. Thirteen members of the organization have tested positive for the virus, including seven players, causing the club to postpone its scheduled four-game series against the Tigers this week.

It’s like a never-ending game of Whack-a-Mole in the majors right now. Just as one team’s outbreak subsides, another team’s begins. The Cardinals are shutting things down just as the first outbreak-stricken MLB club, the Marlins, is set to resume play in Baltimore tonight after an eight-day hiatus. The Phillies, too, who were sidelined for a week, finally got back on the field last night at Yankee Stadium.

MLB seems insistent on forging ahead with the 2020 season, even though on any given day there are anywhere from two to eight teams that are unable to play because of coronavirus concerns. How long can the league continue juggling these flaming torches before the whole thing comes crashing down?

Even the Orioles, who have been thankfully free of COVID-19 concerns so far, aren’t immune to the weirdness that is the 2020 season. Their four-game series against the Marlins will include a doubleheader tomorrow — playing a pair of seven-inning games for the first time in franchise history — and two of the four will feature the Orioles as the “away” team in their own ballpark. They’ll be facing a patchwork Marlins team that will look radically different than when it last played a game, as more than half the roster is expected to be placed on the COVID-19 injury list, leading the Fish to cobble together a new team on the fly.

Oh, and Tropical Storm (and expected to soon be Hurricane) Isaias is bearing down on the East Coast as we speak, putting at least tonight’s game in doubt amidst torrential rains.

Are we having fun yet?

Links

Orioles embrace baseball’s 2020 realities, including the extra-inning rule - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff has noticed the lack of atmosphere in the ballpark without fans, including the fact that “the pumped-in crowd noise is a second or two late.” OMG, yes — that has been bugging the crap out of me. An Oriole makes the catch, tosses the ball back to the infield, and only then does the canned applause erupt. I’ve also noticed cheering for when an Orioles hitter is retired, which is weird.

Baltimore Orioles showing anything can happen in a snack-sized season - Sports Illustrated
If you were wondering how long it would take for the national media to notice the Orioles’ hot start, turns out it wasn’t long at all! But Matt Martell turns into Debbie Downer by saying, “Let’s not kid ourselves; the Orioles will not make the playoffs this season.” Not with that attitude, buster.

MLB Power Rankings, August 3, 2020 – The Athletic
On the flip side of the coin from that SI piece, Grant Brisbee ranks the Orioles dead last in the majors, but writes, “They’re going to win the World Series, just watch. It’s what this season deserves. It’s what this year deserves.” I’m on Team Grant here, even if that’s a backhanded compliment.

Inbox: How will O’s handle Mountcastle? - Orioles.com
In Joe Trezza’s latest mailbox, he notes that the Orioles will have a whopping 10 arbitration-eligible players this upcoming offseason. Get ready for a lot of non-tenders and Jonathan Villar-esque salary dumps.

Zimmermann, McKenna and Bradish join alternate camp site - School of Roch
The Orioles added three minor leaguers to their secondary camp, including Ellicott City native Bruce Zimmermann. Fingers crossed the local guy gets to make his MLB debut sometime this year.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! And happy birthday to Orioles Hall of Famer B.J. Surhoff (56), who just yesterday was unveiled as Camden Chat’s 32nd greatest Oriole of all time. I’m sure it’s the best birthday present he’s ever received! Also celebrating a birthday today is 2007 seven-game Oriole Jon Knott (42).

On this day in 1971, the O’s stole a win from the Red Sox at Memorial Stadium. Down by two with two outs in the ninth, the Birds tied the game on RBI singles by Boog Powell and Davey Johnson, then walked off in the 10th on a Merv Rettenmund base hit.

On this date in 1998, the Birds’ Mike Mussina was just four outs away from a perfect game until the Tigers’ Frank Catalanotto roped a two-out double in the eighth. Mussina settled for a two-hit shutout. It was one of several times the Hall of Famer came agonizingly close to a perfect game in his career, though he never ended up throwing one.

And on this day in 2005, the Orioles fired manager Lee Mazzilli, who had guided the club to 14 games over .500 as late as June before suffering a complete collapse. At the time of Mazzilli’s firing, the Orioles had lost 16 of their last 18 games, including eight in a row, to fall from first place to fourth in the AL East. Perlozzo won his debut, 4-1 over the Angels, but the O’s never got back above .500 again that season.