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New Year’s Eve Bird Droppings: Goodbye and good riddance, 2021

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This year wasn’t much of an improvement over 2020, both from an Orioles standpoint and in the world at large. C’mon, 2022. Third time’s the charm.

2021 Times Square New Year’s Eve Celebration Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Tonight, we say goodbye to 2021 and flip the calendar to 2022. We can only hope that Earth’s next revolution around the sun will turn out better than this travesty of a year.

Of course, we had the same hope last year, and that didn’t exactly turn out to be the case. Most of us thought 2021 was almost certain to be an improvement over 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived and ruined (or at least greatly disrupted) so many people’s lives. And yet here we are at the end of ‘21 and coronavirus is spreading more rapidly than ever, overwhelming health care systems and continuing to throw society into chaos. C’mon, 2021. You were supposed to be cool.

In much less important news, 2021 also brought another unsightly season for the Orioles — at least in terms of the major league club, which sputtered to an MLB-worst 52-110 record. It was an improvement over 2020 only in the sense that they actually got to play 162 games, compared to the truncated 60-game campaign a year earlier, although O’s fans might have been just as happy to cut 100 of those games out of the schedule. The good news came in the minors, where prospects were back in action after a canceled 2020 season and many O’s youngsters flashed enormous potential.

To add to the consternation that was 2021, the year ends with all of MLB in a holding pattern, as the owners’ lockout of the players is about a month old, with no end in sight.

What will 2022 bring, for the Orioles, for baseball, and for the world at large? Things can’t get worse from here, can they? ...Actually, don’t answer that.

Speaking of years (smooth segue, Paul, really crushed it), today’s Camden Chat Sporcle quiz tests your knowledge on some of the best years in Orioles history. Can you name the eight seasons in which the O’s had the best record in the American League? (It may seem inconceivable to the modern-day Orioles fan, but yes, the O’s used to be the AL’s best team quite often. Must have been nice.)

Links

A few highlights from 2021 - School of Roch
Not everything was miserable for the Orioles in 2021, as Roch Kubatko reminds us. The performances of Cedric Mullins and especially Trey Mancini won’t soon be forgotten.

Baseball's Most Handsome Managers - Cup of Coffee
Craig Calcaterra unveils his annual ranking of MLB’s handsomest managers, and poor Brandon Hyde is a distant 25th place. But at least he’s got bragging rights over Buck Showalter (#28).

Sizing up one 2022 rotation candidate - Steve Melewski
Melewski profiles rookie righty Mike Baumann, but he omits one crucial fact: Baumann’s birthday is Sept. 10, and people with Sept. 10 birthdays are inherently awesome. It’s just a fact; I don’t make the rules.

New Year, New Me - by Jon Meoli
Jon Meoli’s analytics-oriented articles at the Baltimore Sun were always a great read, and now he’s taking his talents to a new Orioles blog. It’ll definitely be worth checking out.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Three former Orioles were born on New Year’s Eve: outfielder Donell Nixon (60) and the late right-hander Ken Rowe (b. 1933, d. 2012) and lefty Ted Gray (b. 1924, d. 2011).

On this day in 2010, the O’s agreed to terms with veteran first baseman Derrek Lee on a one-year, $7.25 million contract. The 35-year-old Lee had had a productive 14-year MLB career to that point, but that ended as soon as he joined the Birds, where he posted a .246 average and .706 OPS in 85 games before the O’s dumped him onto the Pirates.