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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Thanks, Brooks

Friends, family, and hundreds of fans gathered at Camden Yards yesterday to celebrate the life of Mr. Oriole.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Four days from now, the Orioles will host Game 1 of the Division Series, opening a new chapter in what could be a magnificent future. But yesterday, the O’s said goodbye to a storied part of their past.

Hundreds of O’s fans joined the family, friends, and former teammates of Brooks Robinson at a memorial service for the Hall of Fame third baseman at Oriole Park. Fellow Orioles stars Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray, and Boog Powell spoke at the service, along with several of Robinson’s children and grandchildren. The ceremony lasted roughly an hour, but if everyone who had fond memories of Brooks were allowed to speak, it would have gone on for months.

No player more perfectly embodied what it means to be a Baltimore Oriole — and what it means to be a gracious and classy individual — than Brooks Robinson. As sportswriter John Steadman once wrote, “He’s an extraordinary human being, which is important, and the world’s greatest third baseman of all time, which is incidental.”

Twenty-three seasons in an Orioles uniform. Sixteen consecutive Gold Gloves. An 18-time All-Star. An AL MVP and World Series MVP. The best defender to ever play his position, and a first-ballot Hall of Famer. And yet Robinson was, by every account, the friendliest and most humble person you’ll ever meet, legendarily generous with his time at every turn. You can’t write the story of Major League Baseball without Brooks Robinson. You can’t write the story of the city of Baltimore without Brooks Robinson. He was, and forever will be, Mr. Oriole.

Thanks for everything, Brooks.

Meanwhile, the MLB postseason officially kicks off today with a full slate of four Wild Card Series. The series of most interest to Orioles fans, the Rangers at the Rays — whose winner will play the Birds in the Division Series — opens the festivities at 3:08 PM, followed by the Blue Jays/Twins (4:38), Diamondbacks/Brewers (7:08), and Marlins/Phillies (8:08). Pick your winners.


Birdland celebrates the life and career of Brooks Robinson in public memorial - Steve Melewski
Melewski has more on the Brooks remembrance. There might not have been a dry eye in the house.

Who should Orioles want to face: Rangers or Rays? -
We’ve been mulling this exact question on Camden Chat. I made the case for playing the Rangers yesterday, and John Beers will argue for the Rays later today. MLB’s Jake Rill leans slightly toward the former, but either team will be a challenge.

Peter Schmuck’s Short Take: O’s tiptoe into October -
Schmuck is concerned about the Orioles' offensive slump during the final couple weeks of the season. How much of that can be attributed to hangovers after their various clincher celebrations?

Page turns from Orioles’ regular season to playoff preparations in storybook season - School of Roch
A manager who once had to preside over three 108+ loss teams is now headed to the postseason for the first time. It’s hard not to feel excited for Brandon Hyde.

Orioles reset: Baltimore’s depth fueled its best regular season in decades. Now comes the real test. - Baltimore Sun
Don’t expect to see the O's stick with one regular lineup for the postseason. They’re going to keep doing what they’ve done best all season, mixing and matching to put players in the best position to succeed. And still people on Twitter will complain about it.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You share your day with former Orioles pitchers Adam Plutko (32), Mike Belfiore (35), and Mike Johnson (48).

The O’s have played four postseason games on this date in history and have won all four. Three of them — 1970, 1971, and 1979 — were openers of a best-of-five ALCS. The 1970 game in Minnesota saw the O’s explode for a seven-run fourth inning that included solo homers by Don Buford and Boog Powell and, incredibly, a grand slam by pitcher Mike Cuellar. The late, great Brooks Robinson went 3-for-3. Cuellar didn’t fare as well on the mound, giving up six runs and getting chased in the fifth, but reliever Dick Hall worked 4.2 scoreless innings to preserve a 10-6 win.

In ‘71, the Orioles rallied back from a 3-1 deficit to the Athletics thanks to a four-run rally in the seventh at Memorial Stadium. Against A’s starter Vida Blue, who won both the AL Cy Young and MVP that season, the O’s collected three straight RBI hits with two outs: a Mark Belanger single, Curt Motton pinch-hit two-bagger, and a go-ahead, two-run double by Paul Blair. Dave McNally earned the win with seven strong innings, and Eddie Watt tossed a two-inning save.

In 1979, John Lowenstein walloped one of the biggest home runs in O’s postseason history, blasting a pinch-hit, walkoff, three-run shot in the 10th to defeat the California Angels, 6-3. In a pitching matchup of Hall of Famers, both Jim Palmer and Nolan Ryan held the opponent to three runs, with Palmer working nine innings and Ryan seven.

And on this date in 2014, the O’s beat the Tigers in Game 2 of the AL Division Series, 7-6. You might remember that game.