We made it! It’s Opening Day! Orioles baseball, the real kind that counts in the standings and in the record books, is back in our lives. The 2023 season kicks off today in Boston, where the weather will be cold and not particularly baseball-like. This is Game 1 of 162, or if you’re that optimistic about the team, more than 162.
Just about the only bummer is that the Orioles are once again opening up the season on the road. The team has not been scheduled to play its first game at home since 2018. That’s quite a streak of road openers, long enough that a person might think about adding this to the list of petty slights - such as Oriole Park at Camden Yards not hosting any recent All-Star Game - that point towards some kind of low-level grudge by the league against the franchise.
The party is set to get started at 2:10 in the afternoon, Eastern time, today. Or at least we can hope it’s going to be a party. The Orioles have only been victorious once on Opening Day under Brandon Hyde’s managerial tenure, back in 2021 when the team also started the season in Boston. In fairness, every other one of those teams was expected to stink, so it wasn’t a surprise when they lost.
There are expectations this year, and every loss may potentially matter at season’s end - like they all mattered last year when the Orioles came up three games shy of a playoff spot. Going 0-7 with runners in scoring position on Opening Day against the Rays mattered; they lost the game, 2-1. Once the team is good enough, it all matters.
Over the last few days, we’ve been previewing each group of Orioles players to try to figure out what’s going to happen this season. Alex wrote about the outfield, Tyler covered the infield, Paul previewed the rotation, and John covered the bullpen.
One more bit of good news now that spring training is over: The Orioles-owned television network MASN will actually be bothering to broadcast every Orioles game again. Some of the games, like today’s, will be on MASN 2 instead. And of course there will be occasional exceptions for national broadcasts, which the O’s may appear on a bit more often now that they’ve got a little buzz.
The flagship stations of the Orioles Radio Network - 97.9, 101.5, and 1090 - will also be broadcasting. Now it’s up to the team to make sure you don’t want to turn it off by the fifth inning. At least with the new pace of play rules, even the bad games should move along at a faster pace.
Around the blogO’sphere
Orioles CEO John Angelos again whiffs on self-imposed deadline to share club’s finances (The Baltimore Sun)
The Orioles beat writers have not yet forgotten that John Angelos lied to their faces twice in the span of a month or so, generating an attitude towards Angelos that I hope continues for the duration of his time as control person for the franchise.
Terrin Vavra earned his spot by being willing to play anywhere (The Baltimore Banner)
A solid super-utility kind of player isn’t a must-have, but it certainly can’t hurt if one bench spot can go to a guy with a variety of positional value.
Orioles thinking and talking playoffs in 2023 (School of Roch)
Hopefully they’re still talking playoffs by the time late September rolls around.
Position power rankings: Summary (FanGraphs)
The folks at FanGraphs have been running down the power rankings at each position over the last week or so, and now they’re at the end. The Orioles, in aggregate, come out 21st in projected WAR. Let’s hope reality is more fun for us than that.
Orioles set on beating the projections in 2023 (Orioles.com)
This is really what it all comes down to. They’ve got to do better than the computers think!
From the field to the food, there is a lot new at Oriole Park this year (Steve Melewski)
A solid rundown of some stuff that’s new at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for this season, including a completely replaced sod layer, and also an absurd “extreme food” menu item.
There was also some late-breaking general baseball news last night:
BREAKING: A deal is in place between the minor league players in the MLBPA and Major League Baseball on the historic first collective-bargaining agreement for minor leaguers, union officials tell ESPN. Deal is five years and includes at least 2x pay at all levels of the minors.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 30, 2023
This is a nice start. The lower levels of the minors are getting the highest percentage increases.
Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries
It’s not every year that the Orioles are playing in March. They were victorious the last time they played on this date, beating the Yankees, 5-3, to even their 2019 season record at 1-1. Jimmy Yacabonis was the winning pitcher and Mike Wright got the save. The big run-producing juggernaut was catcher Jesús Sucre, who drove in three runs. Four years never felt so long ago.
Of all the players to ever play for the Orioles, not a single one was born on March 30. That’s not going to change with any of the several new Orioles today today. There’s not even one Oriole on the Opening Day roster who was born in the month of March at all.
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: Ottoman sultan Mehmed the Conqueror (1432), Salem witch trial victim John Proctor (1632), painter Vincent van Gogh (1853), actor Warren Beatty (1937), rapper MC Hammer (1962), performing artist Celine Dion (1968), and musician Norah Jones (1979).
On this day in history...
In 1815, the king of Naples, a French general named Joachim Murat, issued a proclamation calling on all Italians to resist Austrian occupation. It didn’t work, probably because Murat was an occupier himself, but the Rimini Proclamation is thought to have helped inspire later Italian unification.
In 1855, invading slavers from Missouri entered Kansas to force the election of a pro-slavery territorial legislature, in hopes of leading Kansas to enter the Union as a slave state. This was one of the key events on the path leading up to the Civil War.
In 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from Russia for a price of about two cents per acre, or $7.2 million at the time. Dubbed “Seward’s Folly” at the time after the Secretary of State who arranged the purchase, the transaction looks much less of a folly today.
In 1981, President Ronald Reagan was shot by a would-be assassin who believed this act would bring him to the attention of actress Jodie Foster.
And that’s the way it is in Birdland on March 30. Have a safe Thursday. Go O’s!