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Tuesday Bird Droppings: It’s playoff time

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Once again, an MLB postseason begins without the Orioles involved. Tonight, their two biggest nemeses will kick off the playoff slate.

MLB: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

The 2021 MLB regular season is in the books, which means we’re finished watching the Orioles for the year. I don’t know about you, but I’m totally fine with that. I’ve seen plenty of bad O’s teams in my lifetime, but 110-losses bad? That’s a rare feat. I think everyone could use a long break, most of all the Orioles themselves.

Is the worst stretch of the rebuild behind the Orioles? From the current looks of their roster, I wouldn’t count on it. Then again, the next time we see the team in action, Adley Rutschman could be in the lineup, or at least a matter of days or weeks from joining it. For that alone, the 2022 Orioles are already shaping up to be a lot more watchable than the hapless crew we’ve just endured.

In the meantime, we’ve got other baseball to keep us company for the next month. The MLB postseason gets underway tonight with two teams O’s fans are never happy to watch succeed: the Yankees and the Red Sox. Blegh. After all the excitement on Sunday morning about how there could be a multitude of Wild Card tiebreaker scenarios involving two, three, or even four teams, all dreams of #chaos were thrown out the window by the stupid Yankees and Red Sox winning their season finales to clinch both spots. Booooring.

So now those two teams are set to face off in the sudden-death, win-or-go-home Wild Card Game at Fenway Park. One will lose, and will have played just one more postseason game than the Orioles this year. The other will advance to, hopefully, get handily swept by the Tampa Bay Rays in the Division Series. Tomorrow the second best team in baseball, the Dodgers, will be relegated to the NL Wild Card Game against the red-hot Cardinals, with the MLB-best Giants awaiting the winner. We’ve also got the White Sox/Astros and Braves/Brewers on tap later this week. Let the games begin.

Poll

Are you looking forward to tonight’s Yankees/Red Sox Wild Card Game?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Yes! Postseason baseball is exciting, and it’ll be fun to see one of these teams lose.
    (57 votes)
  • 28%
    No! I don’t want to see either team advance, plus the game will definitely be like five hours long.
    (63 votes)
  • 46%
    I’m just rooting for the meteor.
    (105 votes)
225 votes total Vote Now

Links

Orioles replacing Don Long as hitting coach - School of Roch
It didn’t take long for the Orioles to start turning the page on 2021, as Stacey’s uncle Don Long (not actually Stacey’s uncle) won’t be returning to the Orioles’ staff after three years as hitting coach.

Minor Monday: Stowers has power potential for Orioles - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rutschman isn’t the only reason to look forward to next year. His co-Minor League Player of the Year is primed to unleash some Eutaw Street bombs in the near future.

Next task for O’s: Try to get better in the rugged AL East - Steve Melewski
The Orioles’ rebuilding effort is made all the more daunting because they share a division with three playoff teams and a fourth-place team that won 91 games. Who do we need to petition to get the O’s moved to the NL East?

‘Just a goofy dude’: The fun-loving persona inside Orioles’ quiet slugger Ryan Mountcastle – The Athletic
Dan Connolly’s delightful profile on the O’s first baseman is a must-read, even if Mountcastle’s choice in karaoke songs leaves something to be desired. (Come on, man...Creed?)

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Your lone Orioles birthday buddy is the late Terry Mathews (b. 1964, d. 2012), a reliever for the 1996-98 club.

The Orioles have played 17 games on this date in history, and they’ve come in all forms: six regular-season games, one Wild Card game, three Division Series games, six ALCS games, and one World Series game. And there have been a whole lot of memorable ones:

  • On this date in 1966, the Orioles kicked off their first-ever World Series by defeating the Dodgers in game one, 5-2, in Los Angeles. The Birds jumped out to an early lead on back-to-back, first-inning homers by Hall of Famers Frank and Brooks Robinson (off of fellow HOFer Don Drysdale) and never looked back. After O’s starter Dave McNally was chased in the third inning, Moe Drabowsky came up huge in long relief, working 6.2 scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts for the win. Spoiler alert: the Dodgers’ two runs in this game would be the only ones they’d score in the entire series.
  • In three consecutive seasons — 1969, 1970, and 1971 — the Orioles won an ALCS game on this date. In ‘69, the Birds won a walkoff against the Twins, a 1-0, 11-inning victory that gave them a 2-0 series lead. Curt Motton’s pinch-hit RBI single ended it, making a winner of McNally, who threw all 11 innings and struck out 11 for the Birds. And in both ‘70 and ‘71, the O’s completed a three-game ALCS sweep. The former came against the Twins, a 6-1 victory in Baltimore in which Jim Palmer threw a complete game with 12 strikeouts and also contributed an RBI double at the plate. The latter was against the Athletics, a 5-3 win in Oakland in which — guess who? — Jim Palmer threw another complete game. He gave up three solo homers, two to Reggie Jackson, but was supported by the Robinsons, each of whom collected RBI hits for the Orioles.
  • All three Division Series games the O’s have played on Oct. 5 have been wins. In 1996, they completed an upset of 99-win Cleveland with a 4-3, 12-inning victory at Jacobs Field to clinch the series. Roberto Alomar — who was booed vociferously by the Cleveland crowd every time he came to the plate, a week after spitting on umpire John Hirschbeck — twice played the hero, first tying the game in the ninth with a two-out RBI single, then winning it in the 12th with a home run. A year later, the O’s again sealed a Division Series victory, this time over the Mariners, with Mike Mussina outdueling Randy Johnson in a battle of Hall of Famers. Jeff Reboulet and Geronimo Berroa both homered in the 3-1 win. And in 2014, the O’s completed a three-game sweep of the Tigers, with Nelson Cruz homering off David Price to provide all the runs the O’s would need. Bud Norris pitched 6.1 strong innings and Zack Britton escaped a ninth-inning jam to give Buck Showalter his first career playoff series victory.
  • In 2012, the Orioles traveled to Texas for the first-ever AL Wild Card Game and their first postseason game in 15 years...and, against all odds, they won. Joe Saunders, who entered with a career 0-6 record and 9.38 ERA in Texas, miraculously outdueled Rangers ace Yu Darvish, backed by 3.1 scoreless innings by the Birds’ stellar bullpen. Man, that was a fun night.
  • And on this day in 1986, Earl Weaver managed the final game — for real, this time — of his Hall of Fame Orioles career, losing 6-3 to the Tigers. Weaver had previously said his goodbyes at the end of the 1982 season, but returned for an ill-fated comeback in ‘85 and ‘86. He finished with a career 1,480-1,060 regular season record and 26-20 in the playoffs.

Phew! That’s a lot of stuff. Perhaps one day the O’s will be playing meaningful games in October again.