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Friday Bird Droppings: Where fans were back to cheer on the Orioles

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For the first time in 19 months, the Orioles got to take the field in front of their home fans. If only they had put on a better show.

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Yesterday afternoon, for the first time since Sept. 22, 2019, Baltimore Orioles fans got to take their seats at Camden Yards to watch their favorite team play.

There was a time when such an event would be taken for granted. Yeah, fans showed up to watch a baseball game. What’s the big deal?

The last year-plus, of course, has shown us just how big a deal it really is. It’s hard to understate how meaningful it is for fans to be able to participate in the gameday experience at long last, after a season of baseball played in sad, empty ballparks, devoid of any real atmosphere aside from piped-in crowd noise. Fans sorely missed being able to cheer on their guys in person, and players equally missed the energy and enthusiasm that only a live crowd can bring.

So it was a joyous occasion as the Camden Yards gates swung open and fans — just over 10,000 of them — filed in, finally restoring that much-missed connection between all the parties involved. I was lucky enough to be among the attendees yesterday, and man, did it feel great to be back at the ballpark. The weather was beautiful, the field was pristine, the crowd was enthusiastic. For a few hours, everything felt normal again, even if the world is still far from normal right now.

The game itself was, well, not great. After a decent first few innings, the Orioles did Orioles things — bad defense, shoddy relief work, and strikeouts galore from their swing-and-miss lineup — which of course led to some restlessness in the crowd and cracks like, “We came back for this?” But there were also moments of pure joy, particularly the two raucous standing ovations the Orioles faithful gave to Trey Mancini, who was genuinely touched by the appreciation. Check out Mark Brown’s recap for the full details of the home opener highs and lows.

Barring any other unpleasant COVID-19 developments, the Orioles have 80 more games at Camden Yards on the schedule this season. Some (possibly many) will be as ugly as yesterday’s; some will be truly delightful; some will be somewhere in between. But what matters most is that there will be Orioles fans in the stands to watch it all happen.

Links

Mancini’s return to Camden Yards high point in loss (updated) - School of Roch
Roch Kubatko’s got plenty of post-game quotes from the Orioles, including Brandon Hyde’s reaction to getting ejected from the home opener. I feel like that has to be a first for an O’s manager, right? I don’t think even Earl Weaver ever got the heave-ho from his team’s first home game.

A bedazzled homecoming: Trey Mancini’s crafty sisters prepare for emotional Camden Yards opener – The Athletic
If anyone was at the game yesterday and saw a couple of fans rocking rhinestone-covered denim “Mancini” jackets, yup, those were his sisters. I think it’s a good look, personally.

Anthony Santander thriving for Orioles - Orioles.com
It’s been a study in contrasts in the outfield, as Anthony Santander has excelled with the glove while Ryan Mountcastle has, um, not, to put it mildly.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! And happy 26th birthday to one of the newest Orioles, Rule 5 right-hander Mac Sceroler, who made his MLB debut with 2.2 scoreless innings at Yankee Stadium on Monday. I’m sure he’s enjoying his first birthday as a big leaguer. Also celebrating birthdays today are a pair of mid-00s pitchers — and two members of the legendary 2008 Orioles Magic music video — Dennis Sarfate (40) and Adam Loewen (37).

Only once in their first 15 years of existence did the Orioles play a regular season game on April 9. But when they did, in 1959, they made history by turning a triple play, the only team ever to do so on Opening Day. In the fifth inning, first baseman Bob Boyd caught a line drive from the Senators’ Ed FitzGerald and doubled up the runners at both first and second. The O’s, though, lost the game, 9-2.

And on this date in 1976, the Orioles opened their season with a classic pitcher’s duel between two future Hall of Famers, Jim Palmer and Boston’s Fergie Jenkins. In a game that lasted a tidy two hours and three minutes, Palmer and Jenkins each worked eight stellar innings without allowing an earned run, but the Birds plated an unearned run that proved the margin of difference in a 1-0 victory. In addition to the two hurlers, the game featured four other Hall of Fame players — Brooks Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, and Carlton Fisk — as well as Hall of Fame O’s manager Earl Weaver.