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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Pitchers and catchers report!

Aside from “the pandemic is over,” they’re the four greatest words we could hear right now.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

...Is it here? Is it time? Is this actually happening?

Great googly moogly, it is! Orioles pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training today at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. That glorious, annual rite of spring, the first real sign of baseball on the horizon, is upon us at last.

I’m excited! I’m pumped! And I’m...feeling a little cautious, to be honest.

After everything that’s happened in the past year — and with everything that’s still happening in the world — I’m glad there’s the strong possibility of baseball in the near future. But we learned the hard way in 2020 that those plans could go haywire at a moment’s notice. After all, this is what poor, naive me wrote on pitchers and catchers reporting day last year:

From here, we can start ticking the important dates off the calendar for the next few weeks until the real games begin. Exhibition games begin on Saturday the 22nd, the first game in Sarasota is the following day, and then...well, then there’s a lot of Grapefruit League action until camp breaks on March 23. The O’s begin their regular season schedule in Baltimore on March 26, a full 44 days from now.

As we well know, things didn’t exactly turn out that way. The O’s hit the first couple of those dates, but got less than three weeks into their Grapefruit League schedule before the world shut down. Their regular season schedule ended up starting a whopping 164 days after pitchers and catchers first reported to Sarasota. So, yeah, it was a bit more than 44.

Don’t get me wrong — pitchers and catchers reporting is more thrilling to a baseball fan than pitchers and catchers not reporting. I sincerely hope everything goes smoothly over the next few weeks, that the full spring training schedule goes off without a hitch and the regular season begins on time. But this time I’ve learned better than to consider it a foregone conclusion.

...I’m still excited, though. Woo!


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Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Four former Orioles were born on this day, including Terry Crowley (74), who spent 12 years as an O’s player, 16 as a hitting coach, and one memorable radio-show outtake as the subject of Earl Weaver’s disdain. Also born on this day were last year’s O’s Opening Day starter Tommy Milone (34), 2015 right-hander Jorge Rondon (33), and 2005 outfielder turned MLB Network personality Eric Byrnes (45).

On this day in 2003, tragedy struck at Orioles camp, as 23-year-old pitcher Steve Bechler collapsed from heat stroke during spring training drills, passing away the next day. His use of the weight-loss supplement ephedra was found to have contributed to his death, which led the U.S. government to ban the substance in all dietary products.