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Thursday Bird Droppings: The Orioles lease saga rolls on with no short-term extension

It would be more fun if the Orioles having nine of the top 100 prospects on ESPN’s list was the biggest story today

Pittsburgh Pirates v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Hello, friends.

There are now 56 days remaining until Orioles Opening Day. It’s exactly eight weeks from today. Fittingly, with the news of his retirement this week, that’s Darren O’Day number of days remaining until real baseball is back. The number 56 was worn by Kyle Bradish in 2022. If he can become a more memorable number 56 than O’Day, that would be pretty good for him and for the Orioles.

Do you know what would be nice? If the only thing there was to talk about in Birdland today was the latest crowning prospect achievement of landing nine prospects on ESPN’s top 100 prospects list. Instead, the saga of the Orioles lease at Camden Yards rolls on. The Baltimore Sun wrote last night that the O’s would not be exercising the five-year lease extension they had the option to take by yesterday, meaning that as of now, the lease expires at the end of 2023.

The Sun’s report also indicates that the Orioles are hopeful of having a new long-term lease agreement by midseason and that they expect to have a new deal before the current one fully expires in any case.

I guess that all there is to say about that now is let’s see what happens. Whatever is going on with this process, there has not been a bunch of public brinkmanship and threats over what will happen if the sticking points - whatever they are - don’t end up getting resolved promptly. That seems like an encouraging sign to me, that the waters are not being continually poisoned.

It feels dramatic to fans because the wound of the Colts leaving is still deep in the Baltimore sports psyche, even absorbed by those of us who weren’t alive or weren’t old enough to remember the Mayflower vans. Like, why can’t they just get it over with already?

I don’t know. It’s one more thing with the Orioles that feels more complicated than it really needs to be. As we discovered a couple of weeks ago, John Angelos isn’t going to take the opportunity to tell anybody anything that would uncomplicate matters even at a press conference he set up - especially not today, out of respect to Punxsutawney Phil.

Angelos did, however, come out with a joint statement last night with Governor Wes Moore, in which the two announced “joint commitment to creating a long-term, multi-decade, public-private partnership that both develops and revitalizes the Camden Yards complex..” The statement noted that a new lease agreement would make available $600 million in funds.

It’s another clear marker that this thing is going to get done before there’s a crisis. The team CEO and the governor wouldn’t be putting out these statements if the Angelos family was going to move the team themselves or sell the team to people who will. The crisis time is not now or at any point before the end of the coming season. But it’s not done yet and there are numerous and loud enough voices who can’t stop fixating on that until it’s over with.


Back to that top prospect list. This is the most favorable list yet for the Orioles system, with a whopping nine O’s on the top 100, including Gunnar Henderson at #1 and five guys in the top 50. McDaniel’s bold inclusion relative to others is pitching prospect Cade Povich, who was the centerpiece of last year’s trade of Jorge López, at #54 on the list.

If Povich is looking like a consensus top 100 guy by season’s end, we’ll all be feeling better about the future of the Orioles starting rotation. For now, McDaniel is his biggest booster in the mainstream prospect-writing world. McDaniel is also high on Coby Mayo, who’s at #47 on this list while not even making some other top 100 lists. He is not so high on DL Hall, who did not make his top 100 although was apparently one of the last cuts before the list was finalized.

Povich’s inclusion on McDaniel’s top 100 gives the Orioles 11 different prospects who have appeared on one of the major publication lists that has been released so far. The last big one left to weigh in is FanGraphs. That’s a whole lot of guys who have cracked the lists. We can continue to be hopeful around here that enough of them end up making it - or are traded for contributing MLB pieces - to fuel an era of quality O’s baseball.

Around the blogO’sphere

February arrives with roster position projections unchanged (School of Roch)
The Orioles haven’t made any exciting moves like I might have liked, but they definitely have made some moves. Roch writes about how not much has happened to change the expected regular position player mix. I remain curious how Ramón Urías will end up being utilized.

Orioles failure to sign long-term lease fuels fan uncertainty (Baltimore Baseball)
Rich Dubroff outlines some reasons why folks don’t need to feel like it’s 1984 around here.

Can Nomar Mazara earn a roster spot this spring for the Orioles? (Steve Melewski)
I feel like if I think about Nomar Mazara after the calendar turns to April, that’s not going to be a good sign for the 2023 Orioles.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

Today in 2005, the trade that brought Sammy Sosa to Baltimore became official, sending Jerry Hairston Jr., Mike Fontenot, and Dave Crouthers to the Cubs. Sosa had a decent 2004 but cratered hard in his lone season with the Orioles. Perhaps some day the mistake of the baseball writers in not electing this 600 home run club member to the Hall of Fame will be corrected.

There are a number of former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 2015 outfielder Travis Snider, 2000-09 super utility guy then third baseman and also father of quintuplets Melvin Mora, 1995-2002 pitcher Scott Erickson, 1992 pitcher Pat Clements, 1991 reliever Paul Kilgus, and 1968-72 outfielder Don Buford. Today is Buford’s 86th birthday, so an extra happy birthday to him.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: novelist James Joyce (1882), baseball Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst (1923), musician Graham Nash (1942), model Christie Brinkley (1954), and singer-songwriter Shakira (1977).

On this day in history...

In 1461, the York and Lancastrian forces of the Wars of the Roses fought in the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross. It was a strong victory for the Yorkists, who were able to march to London soon after and see their claimant, Edward, Duke of York, supplant the reigning king Henry VI and become Edward IV.

In 1709, a man named Alexander Selkirk was rescued from a deserted island, where he had been shipwrecked. This event is thought to have inspired Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.

In 1887, the first Groundhog Day was observed in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Why anywhere else ever went along with it is a mystery to me.

In 1922, birthday boy James Joyce’s novel Ulysses was first published.

In 1943, the final remaining German forces who had been encircled in Stalingrad surrendered to the Soviets, marking an end to a battle that had raged since the prior August. At an estimated two million casualties, this battle in World War II is one of the most bloody to ever be fought in world history.


And that’s the way it is in Birdland on February 2. Have a safe Groundhog Day.