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Friday Bird Droppings: Like it or not, the ALCS begins tonight

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Welp, it’ll be the Red Sox against the Astros for the American League pennant. Try to contain your enthusiasm.

MLB: ALCS-Workouts Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

The 2021 playoffs roll on tonight with the start of the American League Championship Series, featuring... (sigh) ... the Red Sox and the Astros.

The Red Sox and the Astros. Those are certainly, um, two AL teams. No doubt about that. Whether they’re the two teams we want to watch battle for supremacy of the league is a different question.

You could forgive baseball fans for feeling a little irritated that this is the matchup they’re stuck with. The Astros, of course, were famously outed for their sign-stealing, trash can-banging scandal that made them baseball’s most reviled villains, forever tainting their 2017 championship. And the Red Sox don’t exactly have the moral high ground to stand on, either, considering they were found to have illegally stolen signs in 2018, their own championship season. Also, they’re the Red Sox.

Who is the average fan supposed to root for in this series, besides, obviously, the meteor? How does one get invested in a series in which they wish neither team could advance? If this puts a real damper on your enjoyment of the postseason, you’re far from the only one. And if you refuse to watch the series at all, you are, I’m sure, not alone.

Fun fact: both of those teams got swept at home by the Orioles in 2021, the only two teams in the majors to do so. So by the transitive property, the O’s are better than both of them. (That’s how the transitive property works, right?)

Meanwhile, the O’s made minor news last night by beginning to clear out some clutter from their roster. Travis Lakins Sr., who appeared in 24 games but suffered a season-ending stress fracture in his elbow in June, was outrighted off the 40-man and to Triple-A Norfolk, while reliever Zack Burdi was claimed on waivers by Arizona. Burdi was one of four pitchers who appeared in exactly one game for the 2021 Orioles, so it’s cool if you don’t remember him. At least the Orioles will always be able to say they once had a guy named “Birdie” pitch for them.

Links

Harvey on Rutschman: “Ain’t no joke with him. He’s got everything” - School of Roch
Add Hunter Harvey to the extensive list of Orioles who are impressed by what they’ve seen with Adley Rutschman. I can’t wait until it’s April 2022 so we can see Rutschman in an O’s uniform. Or possibly May 2022, depending on service time manipulation.

Orioles start to gain ground in the Dominican Republic - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Mike Elias’ investment in developing international talent is starting to pay off, as opposed to the Orioles’ pre-Elias philosophy of “let’s do absolutely nothing in the international market and hope it works out.” Funny how that makes a difference.

Baltimore Orioles: What’s New with Carter Baumler? - Eutaw Street Report
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the Orioles’ only pitcher drafted in 2020, but Eric Garfield has an extensive interview with Baumler about his recovery from Tommy John surgery, his high school punting career, and more.

Prospect check-in: Robert Neustrom on his big 2021 season - Steve Melewski
Neustrom is one of those non-ballyhooed prospects who quietly made a name for himself this year, and the O’s must decide whether to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. I feel like there’s enough dead weight on the 40-man that they could afford to add him, don’t you?

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! And happy 76th birthday to one of the greatest Orioles — and major leaguers — of all time, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer. In case you’ve just wandered in from living under a rock, Palmer was a three-time Cy Young winner and six-time All-Star who had eight 20-win seasons, posted a lifetime 2.86 ERA, and was the only player to be a member of all three O’s championship teams, to name just a few of his many bona fides. Oh, and he never gave up a grand slam. Not sure if you’ve heard. He’s still going strong as a color analyst for MASN, a job that he’ll hopefully hold for as long as humanly possible.

Several less-famous ex-Orioles were also born on this day: recently released right-hander Cody Carroll (29), six-game outfielder Chad Mottola (50), and early 1980s infielder Glenn Gulliver (67).

Oct. 15 is an especially memorable date for the Orioles. On this day 51 years ago, the Orioles won their second World Series title, defeating the Reds, 9-3, in the decisive Game 5. Mike Cuellar went the distance for the Birds, giving up three runs in the first but keeping Cincinnati off the board for the final eight innings, while the O’s lineup teed off. Every batter except Cuellar had at least one hit, including 3-for-4 performances from both Paul Blair and Davey Johnson, and Frank Robinson and Merv Rettenmund homered. A crowd of 45,341 was on hand in Baltimore to celebrate.

On this date in 1983, the Orioles inched one game away from their third championship, beating the Phillies, 5-4, to take a three games to one lead in the World Series. Light-hitting second baseman Rich Dauer collected three hits and three RBIs, while John Shelby drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth on a pinch-hit sac fly.

There have also been some pretty miserable games for the Orioles on this date, including a walkoff loss to the Mets in Game 4 of the 1969 World Series, and elimination from the ALCS in both 1997 (Tony Fernandez’s infamous 11th-inning homer off Armando Benitez in a 1-0 loss to Cleveland) and 2014 (a 2-1 defeat in Kansas City that finished the Royals’ four-game sweep). But enough about those. How about those 1970 champions, huh?