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Wednesday Bird Droppings: A big stadium decision looms

Plus: Gunnar gets compared to Rolen (again), the O’s get graded, and the Nationals are waiting on the MASN money.

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Milwaukee Brewers v. Baltimore Orioles Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Good morning, Birdland!

Spring training starts this month, but before the Orioles can get down to Sarasota and start preparing for the season ahead they need to do a little business at home.

As Nathan Ruiz reports in The Baltimore Sun this week, Wednesday is the deadline for the Orioles to trigger a one-time extension of their lease at Camden Yards. The current deal with the Maryland Stadium Authority is set to expire on December 31 of this year. If the extension is opted into, that will be pushed to 2028, giving the Orioles and the MSA more time to work out a long-term fit.

There is no reason to believe the Orioles will do anything other than take the extension. It is generally accepted that the franchise will remain in Baltimore for a long time to come, and the state has baked in several generous incentives to keep the O’s around. But even if you are someone that thinks they are ultimately destined for Nashville or Portland or wherever, a major move like that isn’t coming together in 11 months.

You may have heard the Orioles have a few other fires to put out in the meantime. There’s the infighting of the Angelos family plus the ongoing feud with the nearby Washington Nationals over the MASN money. Giving themselves a little breathing room on one front seems like a no-brainer.

Even still, it is frustrating that the battle has gone on this long. While earlier this month the Ravens nabbed a 15-year lease extension at M&T Bank Stadium that could run as long as 25 years, across the parking lot the Orioles continue to play hardball.

The eventual conclusion to this saga will bring welcome relief, but it is unclear when that will actually come. For now, a short reprieve is likely to be all that we get.


Gunnar Henderson Explores the Rolen Zone | FanGraphs
Getting compared to Scott Rolen the same week he gets voted into the Hall of Fame seems good. Henderson has gotten this honor twice in just a few days. I still think he spends 2023 as the Orioles shortstop rather than third baseman, but it could be short-lived and dependent on the ascension of other infielders in the organization, particularly Jackson Holliday.

MLB offseason grades for all 30 teams: Who got the highest (and lowest) marks? | The Athletic
The Orioles get a C+, which seems fair enough. The offseason has been fine, and the roster is better now than it was in October. Considering how close this team got to the playoffs in 2022 that could be all it takes to push them even further in 2023, but they certainly don’t feel like a World Series contender. From that perspective, it’s been a disappointment.

The Nationals’ sale remains a mess with no end in sight | The Washington Post
Given the relationship between the Orioles and Nationals, changes by either impacts the other. The Angelos family has not publicly said the team is for sale, although we can read the tea leaves a bit. The Lerners, on the other hand, are openly shopping the Nationals. The MASN money is a hold up for both groups, and it sounds like there could be some end in sight: a March 14 court date in New York for the O’s to fight the decision that says they owe the team in D.C. $100 million in local TV revenue.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Joe Mahoney turns 36. He appeared in two games for the 2012 Orioles.
  • Rich Becker is 51. The outfielder had a 79-game stint with the O’s in 1998.
  • Kent Mercker is 55 years old. His MLB career spanned 18 seasons, but he spent just part of the 1996 season in Baltimore, accumulating a 7.76 ERA over 58 innings.
  • The late Paul Blair (b. 1944, d. 2013) was born on this day. An Orioles legend, Blair patrolled the team’s outfield from 1964 through ‘76. In that time he won eight Gold Gloves, went to two All-Star games, won two World Series, and even earned some down-ballot MVP votes on four different occasions. He was added to the team’s Hall of Fame in 1984.

This day in history

2010 - Broadcaster Jon Miller is named the winner of the Ford Frick Award, an acknowledgement of “meritorious service by baseball broadcasters.” Miller called Orioles games from 1983 through 1996, presented play-by-play of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball starting in 1990, and became the voice of the San Francisco Giants in 1997.