This New Year we look back on a Team that let some of its proverbial Old Guard go, saw young kids make big contributions, honored its historic past and ultimately fell short in October after a 93-win season. There were so many nuggets – to poach a phrase – in 2012 that it’s hard to imagine Blog has mined them all. But it was not for lack of trying. If you see any glaring omissions, please chime in with a comment. Happy New Year!
Jan. 6 - At dawn of 2012 Team is in midst of being outbid for Prince Fielder. Meanwhile Adam Jones trade rumors are swirling. Also it’s funny, now in hindsight, to read about the push to have Jim Johnson become a starter, given what he would accomplish as closer later in 2012. On this day Nicky Markakis goes under the knife to have a muscle tear in his abdomen fixed.
Jan. 11 - Luke Scott signs deal with Tampa Bay Rays, ending a four-year tenure in Baltimore that was sprinkled with personality and the occasional home run. Also, we learn that Melvin Mora’s reported retirement is off. Melvin is seeking a minor league contract with anyone who will have him, especially if they are “close to my house.” MellyMo would not play in the majors in 2012. As of this writing, however, he was – according to Spanish-language news sites – gearing up to represent his native Venezuela in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Jan 21 - Jonesie Tweets about a “great lunch meeting” with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake, leading Blog to (correct) conclusion that trade rumors were overblown. Also this week, we learn that Buck plans to stick with Mark Reynolds at third base going into spring. Pretty much everyone sees this as a mistake except the Orioles.
Jan. 23 - The Wilson Betemit era dawns over Baltimore. The following day, the Orioles’ not-big-enough offer to Prince Fielder officially falls short as the rotund superstar signs with Detroit. Prince would go on to play 162 games for the Tigers in 2012 and have a huge year. Eight years left on that deal, though …
Jan. 27 - We hold our breath as Brooks Robinson is hospitalized after a fall. Brooksie would be back in the hospital in April with another ailment. But the fabled Hall-of-Fame third baseman would come back strong!
Feb. 6 - Jeremy Guthrie, who did his bit in Baltimore, leaves via trade. Goodbye, Jeremy Guthrie. You did your bit in Baltimore. Hello Jason Hammel! Hello Matt Lindstrom! Hope! Change! And we learn this week that Team essentially plans to hold an open house during spring training, in which any pitcher can hope to make the starting rotation. Perhaps “Open Mound” is a better term. Anyway, it is difficult at this juncture to reconcile inklings of potential with Team’s track record of pitching failures.
Feb. 10 - KOREA-GATE. Orioles are very sorry for failing to TENDER A STATUS CHECK prior to signing then 17-year-old lefty pitcher Kim Seong-min. The fiasco surrounding Kim led to a ban on Team scouts watching KBA games and had fans thinking, “Is our new GM, who spent the last decade outside of baseball, a bumbling rube?” In May, according to a Baltimore Sun report, Kim was in Sarasota “for a workout.” But he was not signed.
Feb. 19 - Clay Rapada disappears into Yankee maw amid rumors that Team, under tutelage of new pitching coach Rick Peterson, will implement a program of BIOMECHANICAL TESTING to vet talent, approaches and injury risk. The move feels part and parcel with Dan Duquette’s other numbers-based approaches. Wayward O is no statistician, and one year is a TINY SAMPLE, but injuries were fewer during 2012 campaign. Fake injuries plummeted, certainly, amid the winning.
Feb. 20 - Look at this Tweet! Wayward O has inkling! In non-Orioles news, this was the day when the Washington Nationals’ plan to “shut down” Stephen Strasburg first began to sear the soul of a nation … and throughout 2012 the searing went on without pause. And it goes on still.
Feb. 26 - Look at THIS TWEET TOO! Blog of Team = prescient. Sadly, any intelligence associated with this Tweet negated by Feb. 27th Tweet urging Redskins not to trade up for RGIII. LoL Wayward O you so stoopit! Also, Okayyy Reimold!
March 5 - Spring training baseball on radio, er, computer. On this day Blog of Team marveled at Chris Davis’ smooth approach at the plate. Davis was heading for a fantastic year. Manny Machado rocks a #85 jersey, makes a nice play.
March 11 - Matt Wieters says all the right things after Team renews his contract for $500,000. Many are left to wonder whether Orioles should have done him better. It’s a tough spot for the spending-conscious Os, who treated Nick Markakis in much the same manner before ultimately rewarding him. Also, it’s not as if Matt is starving to death. He got a $6 million signing bonus after he was drafted in 2007.
March 23 - Rule 5 draftee Ryan Flaherty makes team! He celebrates by flubbing pop-up in Florida sunshine. This was a week in which fans had held their breath about Zach Britton’s shoulder, learning eventually that Zach was not facing surgery. Zach, a bright spot during the brutal 2011 campaign, would see limited action in 2012.
April 6 - Nicky hits 2-run bomb in first inning and a triple in the sixth to key Orioles’ opening day win against Twins. Jake Arrieta, who would see his share of bumps in 2012, gave up no runs in seven innings this day and the stadium radar gun put him at 96 mph. Also Wayward O got a triple peanut.
April 11 - Season-opening sweep of Twins tempered this day by the New York Yankees, who capped sweep of Baltimore with a 6-4 win on a 10th inning, go-ahead home run by Nick Swisher, who as of this writing thankfully is not an Oriole. During the first game of this series, a 6-2 loss on April 9, there was major angst as Yankee catcher Russell Martin accused Robert Andino of tipping pitches. On April 10 Andino said of the prospect of Yankee retaliation “I don’t know, I ain’t a future teller.” It was one of the departed Andino’s great quotes and just another reason why he was such a fan’s favorite.
April 14 - Wins like these have the faithful wondering things like, “When will the collapse come?” and “Yeah but it’s just the Blue Jays.” Simply put, fans are having trouble believing their eyes. In this game the Os came back from a late 4-2 deficit to win 6-4 behind home runs from Nolan Reimold and Betemit. Young Brett Lawrie is tagged out by Matt Wieters trying to steal home and later is thrown out by Matt attempting to steal second.
April 22 - A 3-2 win in ten innings at Anaheim secured Orioles a winning road trip that included their first touch on the West Coast. As Blog wrote at the time: “We also saw Team dodge veritable Rogue’s Gallery of Oriole Killers including, but not limited to, Jose Bautista, Alex Rios, Paul Konerko and Vernon Wells — not to mention presumptive Oriole-killer Albert Pujols.” Mark Reynolds mired in depths of brutal hitting and fielding slump at third base.
April 28 - While Team’s other eastern import, Tsuyoshi Wada, prepares for Tommy John surgery, Wei-Yin Chen earns second win on season this day with seven crisp innings in Baltimore. Chen was just fantastic all season long, though perhaps he tired a bit down the home stretch. He easily eclipsed his previous innings-pitched marks in 2012.
May 1 - May already and haven’t even mentioned BUCK SHOWALTER yet. Buck gets career win No. 1,000, Brian Matusz snaps long winning drought and Nick Johnson finally comes alive a little bit as Orioles beat Yankees in da Bronx.
May 4 - Mark Reynolds appears to snub Buck after hitting a home run in Boston … It was clearly just an oversight on Mark’s part (he saw he would get silent treatment as a joke from teammates and was trying to sort of get them back). But some writers would hilariously seek in coming days to “defuse a controversy” where none existed. The best part of this infamous .gif is Buck’s reaction: spot-on comedic timing.
May 6 - In a game that fans will remember for decades, Chris Davis pitches two scoreless innings of relief to earn a win in Boston after 17 innings. Davis, who went 0 for 8 at the plate, becomes the first American League position player to notch a pitching win since the 1960s, if memory serves. The Orioles sweep the Red Sox in Boston, win their fifth in a row (including two in the Bronx over the Yankees) and run their record on the young season to 19-9. Davis’ o-fer, incidentally, dropped his batting average to .299.
May 8 - Josh Hamilton day at Camden Yards. The troubled mega-talent launches four (4) two-run jacks. Josh calls the game one of his career highlights. All Buck could so was tip his cap.
May 12 - Team secures series win over visiting Tampa Bay as Jim Johnson earns 11th save and Bill Hall, called up prior to game, hits home run. The slumping Mark Reynolds earns a DL stint with a phantom injury and the Brad Bergesen experiment effectively ends as 3E is designated for assignment. Mid-May would see Team spend a few weeks in first place before ceding the pole position to the Yankees in early June.
May 27 - Adam Jones gets contract extension that should keep him where he belongs for a long time.
June 4 – The Orioles again target potential starting pitching in the amateur draft, picking Kevin Gausman fourth overall.
June 12 - Brian Roberts returns to lineup. The well-remunerated former star puts concussion issues in past, but future will be clouded by other injuries.
June 14 - Team smashes former ace Erik Bedard, now with Pittsburgh, in 12-6 romp.
June 16 - Jason Hammel flirts with no-hitter on Fox Saturday Baseball vs. Braves in Atlanta. Nobody could watch on Internet because … well … Fox. But television watchers in Baltimore and Georgia bear witness to Hammel’s gem, which ran his record to 7-2. Wayward O bore witnesses after the fact, watching archived version.
June 20 - While Team fared decently against interleague opponents including Philly, Pittsburgh and Atlanta, this day saw the Orioles swept by the woeful New York Mets. They made the last game of this series interesting but Brian Roberts grounded out with the bases loaded to end it. Two days prior, eventual Cy Young Award winning knuckleballer R.A. Dickey one-hits Team with a 114-pitch, complete-game masterpiece. June was perhaps the Orioles’ roughest month as Team posted a 13-13 mark and saw worries of regression again surface behind a late June scoring drought many blamed on aftereffects of the Dickey game. Adversity!
June 22 - We learn that Reimold has been bitten badly by injury bug once again. The left fielder, absent from lineup since late April, requires surgery for bulging disc in his neck. Ouch, man. Along with several less-important Orioles, Nick Markakis also is battling injury. But our resilient squad still manages to take two of three from eventual NL East champion Nationals in Baltimore.
June 26 - Muted MLB.tv gamecasts mysteriously begin un-muting themselves as baseball seeks to force Internet fans to listen to ads in between innings. But Bud Selig still hasn’t figured out how to override the MUTE BUTTON on the computer. Hardware 1, Software 0.
June 27 - The Mike Trout catch. Nuff said. Also our friend Brian Roberts is starting to raise eyebrows because of the sheer number of soft outs he’s making.
June 29 - Derecho’d! Also Chen strikes out 12 A’s in a 6-1 win.
July 4 - Mark Viviano wishes nation a happy 136th birthday.
July 6 - He was so dazzling on Opening Day. But after a brutal outing against the Angels, Jake Arrieta earns a dreaded taxi ride to AAA Norfolk.
July 8 - After a worrisome June, many feared Team would get knocked out of contention during seven-game road swing through Seattle and Anaheim. But scrappy Team wins three of these games, including a brilliant 8+ inning effort by Chris Tillman on July 4 and a July 3 outing in which Chen bests Felix Hernandez. The July 3 outing is almost lost at the hands of Pedro Strop but Robert Andino bails him out with a ninth-innng home run. The win on July 6 is the first in the bigs earned by Miguel Gonzalez, who would shine throughout the second half. The July 6 win also features a great diving catch by Xavier Avery.
July 9 - Jonesie poaching delicious spare ribs at home run derby. The following night, on live television, the All-Star Game is broadcast and Tim McCarver says things. The NL wins again, grabbing home field advantage in World Series for the eventual world champion San Francisco Giants.
July 15 - Nooooo! Jason Hammel set for (thankfully minor) knee surgery. Too much loose cartilage. The parlor game of mid-July is guessing who would replace him in rotation. Brian Matusz, recently sent down to work on stuff, did not get the call. That would prove to be a wise move by Brain Trust. Tommy Hunter got the taxi ride. Also on this day, the Orioles are blanked by Justin Verlander and the Tigers.
July 22 - July 17th saw Team skid to a 4-9 mark to begin a month where their playoff hopes have gone to die in the past (see: 2005). But this day saw them run a winning streak to five games on the road against Minnesota and Cleveland that featured wins from Hunter, Chen, Gonzalez, Tillman and Zach Britton. Britton tossed six innings in his second start of the year and fears of fading away were quieted this day most resoundingly. J.J. Hardy, who had something of a weak year with the bat, paced the attack to benefit Zach with 2 hits, one of them a home run.
July 25 - RUN DIFFERENTIAL idiocy reaches its peak this day with team’s 10-1 loss at hands of Rays. Team proceeds to win nine of next 13 games. But one of the losses during the span, a 14-9 beatdown by Oakland, serves to flame the run differential fire.
July 29 - Brian Roberts’ brief 2012 flirtation with a comeback ends as the second baseman elects season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip.
July 31 - Giants skipper Bruce Bochy inserts Matt Cain to pinch run for Aubrey Huff. LoLz. Tillman notches another win in his magical season, this one in the Bronx. Lew Ford gets first MLB hit since 1839. Nick Markakis, tearing the AL a new one since getting keys to leadoff spot, goes 3-for-5 to lift his average to .292. The Orioles make no big moves at the trade deadline, though they were rumored to have been trying to deal for Phillies starter Joe Blanton.
Aug. 9 - Manny Machdo debuts at third base, collects two hits including a triple in his second at-bat that will live in Baltimore lore. But Billy Butler makes sure Manny tastes defeat in his big game, smashing three hits including a home run off of Chen. The next day, apparently angered by the KC win, Manny takes matters into own hands, hitting two home runs off Luke Hochevar in a 7-1 Orioles romp. The power display triggers a giddy round of Manny-mania among the faithful. The unassuming Miguel Gonzalez runs record to 4-2 on Aug. 10.
Aug. 14 - Earl Weaver treated to three-run Reynolds Wrap on his 82nd birthday. Orioles cruise to 7-1 win over hapless Red Sox. Many were left to wonder whether Josh Beckett may have bumped Bobby V. after beleaguered big mouth pulled his starter. Jen Royle hazing reaches fever pitch.
Aug. 17 - A week after being immortalized in Camden Yards with a statue in his honor, Hall-of-Fame first baseman Eddie Murray settles insider trading charges brought by federal securities regulators. Former Oriole Doug DeCinces, too, is caught up in this mess and many are left to wonder, without naming names, whether others may have been too.
Aug. 24 - Matusz, who has struggled mightily with consistency as a starting pitcher, is recalled to Baltimore to help from the bullpen. He would go on to shine in this role but will vie for a starting job this spring.
Aug. 26 - Matt Lindstrom and other considerations sent to Arizona for Joe Saunders as Team seeks experienced starting pitching for post-season push.
Sept. 8 - C.C. Sabathia breaks Nick Markakis’ wrist, forcing Nick, who had really found a seam in the lead-off spot, out for the rest of the year. It was a sad development for Nick to have missed appearing in playoff baseball, to be sure. After this game, Nate McLouth filled in admirably batting leadoff and acquitted himself well in the playoffs, too. But at this time playoffs were not guaranteed and the Os, Yankees and Tampa all were in the mix for the division. The Os got the win despite losing Nick behind home runs by Reynolds, Hardy and Lew Ford.
Sept. 13 - A 14-inning win caps sweep of Tampa Bay in biggest series of year. Orioles win breathing room in hunt for Wild Card berth. The Manny Machado play, as it forever will be known, has many discovering what Os fans already knew — the kid is something special.
Sept. 23 - Dylan Bundy, one of baseball most highly touted young pitching prospects, makes his Major League debut in Boston, recording two outs for Baltimore in a loss to the Red Sox two months before his 20th birthday.
Sept. 30 - PLAYOFFS! Sweep of Boston makes it official. A day earlier the Orioles’ 91st win moved them into a first place tie with the Yankees with four games remaining. But the Os would lose two of the final three games and cede AL East to hated rival. Team caps season of honoring past greats by unveiling statue of Brooks Robinson. “I don’t like to call you fans. I like to call you friends,” says ol’ No. 5.
Oct. 1 - Normally the quietest month for the Baltimore Orioles, 2012 would see a harvest moon of baseball delights for the Wild Card Orioles … and, sadly, ultimate disappointment.
Oct. 5 - All of the punishments meted out by Josh Hamilton and the Rangers were atoned for this night as the Orioles knocked Texas out of the postseason with a dazzling team effort. Matusz’ strikeout of Hamilton was an especially notable moment. But, amid the glow of success, there are signs that Team’s vaunted power bats are in a deep autumn slumber. And that would not bode well against the Bronx Bombers…
Oct. 11 - J.J. Hardy comes up with a clutchy double to send the ALDS to a game five in the Bronx. Joe Saunders comes up big for Baltimore in a tough spot.
Oct 12 - We has a sad in Orioles nation this night as Team can’t. quite. find. that. big. hit. again. The Yankees would go on to be “utterly humiliated,” as USA Today put it, by Detroit. This day would also see the Washington Nationals elmininated by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Oct. 31 – Gold gloves for Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones. Wayward O got so many text messages during October amid all the drama that he had to stop texting people …
Nov. 2 - Team grabs Twins cast-off Alexi Casilla. Maybe he’ll play infield in 2013.
Nov. 13 - SNUB! Buck denied Manager of Year award. Some guy in Oakland wins it or something. Os fans yawn, roll over, go back to sleep.
Nov. 20 - Robert Andino traded to Seattle for Trayvon Robinson. It’s sad to see Bobby Dino head out the door.
Decemberish - Team Rule 5′s a guy, waiver claims some guys, trades some guys. Travis Ishikawa is an intriguing pickup. Meanwhile the Blue Jays, Yankees and Red Sox are
overpaying signing free agents with quickness. It’s hard to know whether the Orioles should be doing the same. Signing Nate McLouth on for 2013 is widely seen as a bright move.
Dec. 18 - Mark Reynolds signs $6 million deal with Cleveland after Orioles turn down his 2013 option, which by all accounts was too expensive, and the sides apparently have little or no discussion thereafter.
Dec. 21 - It’s not just nutty Os fans who have noticed the lack of off-season activity. The respected baseball writer Jayson Stark publishes anecdotal evidence that suggests MLB people also are confused by the torpor.
Dec. 29 - The Baltimore Sun names Buck Showalter “Marylander of the Year.”
“[O]ver the course of the season, the one thing that resonated about Showalter was the pride and passion for what he does,” the Sun beat writer Eddie Encina writes.
Dec. 31 - Os fans bed down with the wind howling, high hopes for Manny Machado and the rest of the young talent and a vague vision of Justin Smoak through the wintry haze. But concerns mount that the AL East is loading for bear all around Team and Buck, Dan and Petey may not be keeping pace. But Buck, who says the Orioles no longer will be pushed around, and his crew will have something to say about that notion to be sure.