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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Oriole Park almost got a new name

The sale of the Orioles scuttled a corporate sponsorship that would have changed the ballpark’s name to T. Rowe Price at Camden Yards.

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St. Louis Cardinals v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

The weather may still be gross in the greater Maryland area, but spring is drawing ever closer as the Orioles make their way down to Sarasota to begin camp this week. Soon we’ll be hearing breathless reports about how every player is in the best shape of his life, and all will be right with the world again.

Meanwhile, we’re continuing to learn some surprising details about the impending sale of the Orioles from the Angelos family to David Rubenstein. According to The Baltimore Banner, the previous ownership group was on the verge of selling the naming rights to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and had agreed to a 10-year deal with T. Rowe Price that would have renamed the ballpark T. Rowe Price Park at Camden Yards. The parties would have announced the deal on Feb. 6.

The surprise sale of the team, though, has at least postponed the agreement and maybe scrapped it altogether. It’s not known whether the new ownership group will attempt to revisit the deal with T. Rowe Price, as Rubenstein will not comment until the O’s sale is finalized.

Had the deal gone through, it would have marked the first name change to the O’s ballpark since its opening in 1992, and I’m going to assume it would have stirred up a lot of strong opinions among Orioles fans. There’s a sizable portion of the fan base that would accuse the Birds of selling out and defiling the great history of their iconic ballpark by branding it with a corporate sponsor.

I get that. It’s kind of cool that the Orioles have gone more than 30 years playing in one of the few sports venues not named after a company. A ballpark whose name started out as a bit of word salad — a compromise forged when then-owner Eli Jacobs and then-governor William Donald Schaefer couldn’t agree on the best name — has become quaint, familiar, and synonymous with Orioles baseball. Plus, “T. Rowe Price Park” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. And it would not make me any more or less likely to use T. Rowe Price for all my investment management needs.

Still, if the deal had happened — and if it still ends up happening at some point — I suspect we’d get used to it. If the new name sounds awkward, well, there’s no rule that you as a fan have to use the full name. Just keep calling it “Camden Yards.” We’ll know what you mean. And the Orioles would be getting a financial boost from the deal, which is nice. Of course, whether the Angelos family would have reinvested some of that money into the roster or simply pocketed it is another question.

It doesn’t matter anymore, as the Angeloses (Angeli?) will no longer be involved. If a corporate sponsorship is something Rubenstein wants to pursue, so be it, but I would wager that renaming the ballpark will not be highest on his list of priorities once he takes over as the primary owner.

Links

Projecting Orioles 2024 Opening Day roster - MLB.com
Opening Day is a month and a half away, but it’s never too early to start predicting the roster. Jake Rill, for his part, projects Jackson Holliday to make the team out of camp as the starting second baseman. From your keyboard to the baseball gods’ ears, Jake.

Burnes’ impact on Orioles bullpen and other camp competitions - School of Roch
The Orioles’ Opening Day starting pitchers within the last five years have included Tommy Milone and Andrew Cashner. Now it’s almost certainly going to be Corbin Burnes. Roch Kubatko is right: these aren’t the same Orioles.

Answers to your Orioles questions, Part 1 - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff notes that some fans might be jumping ship from the Nationals to the Orioles, considering the O’s had the better attendance last year. I for one welcome any and all ex-Nats fans onto the bandwagon.

It was an easy call: Catcher Samuel Basallo is O’s top international prospect - Steve Melewski
Melewski begins his ranking of the Orioles’ top 20 international prospects with the slam-dunk #1 pick. I look forward to seeing this guy in Baltimore in the near future, though how he’ll split playing time with Adley Rutschman will be an interesting challenge.

Baltimore Orioles 2024 top 20 prospects: Jackson Holliday leads top farm system - The Athletic
Speaking of international prospects, six of them are part of Keith Law's top 20 Orioles prospects list. This is one loaded farm system, you guys.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Five former Orioles were born on this day: outfielder Henry Urrutia (37), utility man Howie Clark (50), right-handers Logan Ondrusek (39) and Todd Williams (53), and the late infielder Jim Brideweser (b. 1927, d. 1989).

The O’s haven’t made many moves on Feb. 13, since they’re usually starting or gearing up for spring training this time of year. But on this date 10 years ago, they agreed to a three-year, $5.75 million contract with Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon, the former MVP of the Korea Baseball Organization. Yoon’s KBO success, unfortunately, did not transfer to the States. He spent the entire 2014 season with Triple-A Norfolk, where he was bashed for a 5.74 ERA and nearly 12 H/9, and headed back to the KBO without ever appearing in the majors.