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Friday Bird Droppings: Let’s try this Opening Day thing again

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The Orioles’ 2021 season opener was rained out yesterday, despite the fact that it didn’t actually, you know, rain. Today, it’s do-over time.

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Well...that was kind of a letdown of an Orioles Opening Day, huh?

It’s supposed to be the greatest day of the year, win or lose. I woke up excited, knowing that within hours I’d be watching O’s baseball for the first time in months. We were ready to break out the soft pretzels and jalapeno poppers and settle in front of the TV for the Birds’ opening game at Fenway Park.

It didn’t take long for those plans to change. It was just after 9 a.m. that the Red Sox announced the postponement of the game, citing a dreary weather forecast in Boston. Ugh. The anticipation would have to wait another day. The pretzels and poppers weren’t coming out of the freezer just yet.

The postponement was made more curious by the fact that most forecasts weren’t calling for any rain in the afternoon, and in fact it didn’t end up raining in Boston during the window when the game would have been played, though it was cold and overcast (and the forecast is more promising for today’s makeup). I don’t know. If I were a fan who had tickets to Opening Day, sure, I’d rather attend a game when it’s sunny and not totally freezing. But it might also be hard to rearrange plans and shift work schedules on short notice in order to attend a game a day later than expected.

But let’s look at it this way: at least we only have to wait one extra day for Opening Day. Last year, we had to wait four extra months. Things could certainly be worse than a weather-related postponement, which, unfortunately, the Birds’ regional rival Washington Nationals have learned the hard way. The Nats were forced to cancel their opening game, and send nearly their entire roster into quarantine, after at least three players tested positive for coronavirus. At this point, they’re not sure when they’ll be able to start their season.

It’s a stark reminder that the lingering presence of COVID-19 will continue to loom large over the baseball world for a while longer. With any luck, the Orioles will be able to stay safe and healthy amid the difficult circumstances in the country right now and get through their full, 162-game schedule without incident. If that happens, nobody will care that their season started one day after it was supposed to.

So let’s go. It’s Opening Day, take two. This time for real...I think.

Links

Injuries weren’t biggest hurdle cleared by Orioles in spring training - School of Roch
Among other observations heading into the season, Mike Elias notes that the Orioles did a good job of staying COVID-free at spring training. True, but so did the Nationals until the very last day, a reminder that the O’s shouldn’t let their guard down just yet.

A look at the opening day pitchers and more - Steve Melewski
Assessing his team, Brandon Hyde says that the Orioles’ offense could be a strength this year, which certainly could be true. Just don’t ask about the pitching.

Orioles pitcher John Means’ tale of losing his dad and gaining a son – The Athletic
John Means' Opening Day start today is going to be an especially emotional one, as Dan Connolly writes in this excellent piece. Have your Kleenex handy.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Four Orioles were born on this day, but only one is still living: Pete Incaviglia, a bench player for the 1996-97 Orioles, turns 57 today. The other three all played for the O’s in the early years of the franchise: infielder Bobby Avila (b. 1924, d. 2004), right-hander Gordon Jones (b. 1930, d. 1994), and lefty Art Ceccarelli (b. 1930, d. 2012).

On this day in 1976, the Orioles pulled off a blockbuster trade with the Athletics, acquiring former MVP and six-time All-Star Reggie Jackson as part of a six-player deal. Unfortunately, the future Hall of Famer didn’t make a great impression in his one year with the Birds, holding out over a contract dispute at the start of the season. When he did play, he put up solid numbers, but he’d alienated the clubhouse and ultimately left as a free agent after the year. And one of the players the O’s traded to get him, Don Baylor, ended up winning the AL MVP three years later.

The Orioles will be starting their season on April 2 for the eighth time in club history. They’ve gone 5-2 in those other seven April 2 openers, so that could be a good omen for today. One was in 1997, when the O’s beat the Royals, 4-2, to claim a share of first place...and stayed there for the rest of the season, going wire-to-wire to win the AL East crown. Another was in 2001, when the Birds outdueled Pedro Martinez and the Red Sox with a walkoff, 11-inning victory. And in 2013, the Orioles pulled off a late-inning comeback to beat the Rays in Tampa Bay, with Adam Jones doubling home the tying and go-ahead runs in the seventh and Chris Davis crushing a three-run homer to put the game out of reach.