Blog of Team takes advantage of Dark Times at Year’s End to delve into year that was.
It was a strained year on-field, in which homer-
dependent -happy Team finished above .500 but well out of the money. But it also was a year in which many of Team’s shrewdest moves were on display.
Now, our 2013 off-season also is shaping up to be strained, with many high-profile departures and, thus far, few acquisitions that are more than marginal. However, compared with recent past years, one doesn’t need a microscope to see why fans of Team have high hopes.
Fans of Team also saw passing of two Oriole greats. Both were unexpected deaths that occurred during course of post-career public obligations.
In other years this endeavor has attempted to be more comprehensive. This year Blog of Team had to make minor concessions to time and keep it a skootch more abbreviated. But hopefully the high- and low-points we all experienced are mostly alluded to here. If Blog missed a couple-few, and you got to howl about it, please do so in comments!
Jan. 16 - Jobs of amorphously-titled CEO Dan Duquette and Manager Buck Showalter extended through 2018 season. Two days later Team lynchpin Matt Wieters receives $5 million raise over 2012 pay of $500,000. Not long after, however, in March, the San Francisco Giants likely struck fear into heart of Warehouse by paying their star catcher, Buster Posey, $167 million over nine years. Wieters’ future assumes firm number one spot on list of topics with with speculating bird watchers occupy their time.
Jan. 19 - Earl Weaver dies on cruise ship. Team’s great manager, architect of its golden years in 1970s and 1980s and forward-thinking baseball strategist passes away at age 82.
Feb. 18 - Team locks up reliever Darren O’Day, who was on track for another stellar year. Following day Team gives former outfield standout and steroid-era urban legend Brady Anderson an executive-suite gig.
March 25 - Designated hitter Wilson Betemit hurt in spring game. Wilson’s injury seen internally a serious blow and leaves Team struggling to find production from DH spot. Unlike many springs past, much of Team was set going into Grapefuit League action.
April 4 - Brian Roberts ruptures tendon in knee stealing second base in opening series vs Rays. Great sadness re-endarkenates soul of Orioles nation. No team goes through baseball season without injury but it can be said that Team’s 2013 campaign was marred significantly by these two and at least one more.
April 5 - Chris Davis hits grand slam as sun-splashed Orioles home opener ends with happiness and, in Dulaney Valley, the Merrye Peasants dance. Earl’s passing remembered in touching ceremony, in which first pitch was skipped in favor of ball placed on pitcher’s mound.
April 12 - Bubble gate! Adam Jones, in bubblante-delicto, misplays fly ball, allowing three Yankees to score. Misplay, not Jonesie’s first on young season, sparks weeks of debate about bubble-blowing and whether … yeah let’s not re-ponder all of that. It was almost worse than “run differential-gate” and “one run game-gate.” Later in game Yankees would turn bizarre triple play.
May 5- Like playoff vintage from 2012, Team proves again in 2013 it can handle its business on West Coast.
May 15 - Another in Triumvirate of key early-season injuries hits Team as starter Wei-Yin Chin seizes up with muscle strain that would cost him large chunk of season.
May 18 - Looking lost and listless, closer Jim Johnson melts down in 9th inning and allows Rays to gallop past Team in 9th inning. This undoubtedly was one of performances that led to JJ being traded to Oakland after season in move of debatable wisdom.
June 1 - Starter Jason Hammel ejected after giving up dong barrage vs. Tigers and then plunking Matt Tuiasosopo. Hammel had a rough season, including suffering a forearm injury, and couldn’t hold on to his spot in rotation.
June 5 - For those of us who obsess over WBAL radio broadcasts, 2013 featured a skinnier (and sassier) Fred and a just-as-cool-as-ever Joe calling ‘em as they saw ‘em. But, in a revolting development, Royal Farms abandoned the Chicken Man radio campaign in favor of featuring a crazy woman who eats three convenience-store meals a day. Lady, you got to eat right.
June 13 - Boy wonder Kevin Gausman guts out gutsy start at Fenway. The consensus after 2013 was that kid’s stuff is real deal despite fact that he WHIP’d and ERA’d high. Kevin supposedly is in mix for full-time role in 2014 rotation.
June 21 - Buck goes nuts in loss at Toronto. After (ugh) Angel Hernandez ejects him, Buck returns favor, ejecting umpiring crew. Like Nicky, who goes berserk about once a year, Buck’s usually good for at least one memorable ejection each season.
June 26 - Team’s current other wunderkind, Dylan Bundy, requires Tommy John surgery to address lingering injury.
June 30 - Team establishes itself as “buyer” heading into July with three-game sweep of Yankees at Camden Yards. Manny Machado and Chris Davis hit home runs to pace Orioles on rare Sunday night baseball broadcast.
July 2 - Team ships Jake Arrieta, Pedro Strop and loot to Cubsies for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger in effort to shore up rotation for playoff push. No Oriole fan ever will forget Jake’s great moments, including his 2012 Opening Day gem. But trade also illustrates limited value of falling in love with young, untested pitchers to complete exclusion of other available talent.
July 7 - In Team’s best on-field 2013 moment, center fielder Adam Jones throws cold water on Mariano Rivera’s endless and cloying going away party. Wayward O goes crazy and nearly requires police escort out of Bronx.
Mo Face! via MLB.com
July 26 - Chris Tillman, another product of Team’s shrewd past dealings, becomes first Oriole since 2007 to eclipse 13-win mark with dominant start against Boston. Team was pretty hapless against Yankees and Rays in 2013 but Boston, the eventual World Series champs, suffered opposite fate.
July 31 - Orioles trade two known Orioles, including L.J. Hoes, for starter Bud “Taco” Norris in deadline move. Team drops chassis in 11-0 home loss to Bud’s visiting Astros in what now-departed Nate McLouth called “our worst game of the year.”
A week prior Team also traded for over over-the-hill reliever Francisco Rodriguez. Moves notwithstanding Team would tread water in July and August as Boston and Tampa Bay pulled away.
Aug. 25 - Cap’n Nicky ends lengthy extra-base hits drought. Sun-bleached Fans of Team go, OK Cool. Nicky says “I’m just glad I hit the ball hard.” Because Cap’n Nicky is Cap’n. This was a Feldman win that also featured a J.J. Hardy dong and gave fans some hope that flagging Wild Card push was gaining momentum.
Aug. 30 - Known Oriole Xavier Avery sent to Seattle for Mike Morse as Team seeks consistent offensive production. Morse would prove to be irrelevant.
Sept. 1 - After Dan Duquette lets backup catcher Taylor Teagarden go and brings in pair of supposedly better-hitting backstops, Buck showalter – in rare public moment of apparent displeasure – tells Baltimore Sun “I’m sure there were some good reasons.” Implication is that Buck was not in on move or did not agree with it.
Sept. 12 - Swept in Bronx at hands of that juicing, lying so-and-so A-Rod and his Yankees, Team slips beneath wild-card waves.
Sept. 23 - Team drops fourth straight to Rays in series where, going in, there remained only marginal playoff hope. Said hopes are extinguished. But that was not worst news. Fans of Team and Players of Team all say “OH JEES OH YIPES LET MANNY BE OK.”
It seems he is gonna be Okay!
One more note about this day: This was not first time in 2013 that Team was swept by Rays. They were swept by Tampa Bay between May 17-19 as part of six-game losing streak that month. One major difference between playoff squad from 2012 and 2013 vintage was that the latter displayed penchant for damaging losing streaks.
Sept. 29 - Most Valuable Oriole Chris Davis exits game with gimpy wrist after collision with Jacoby Ellsbury. Davis, the Texas castoff, put up monster numbers in 2013, and Team – in having acquired him – showed herein its best lights. Davis set club single-season home run record on Sept. 17.
October - Unlike 2012 October proves uneventful except for 16th, when 30th anniversary of Team’s last championship comes and goes. Defensive and offensive accolades are parsed out – going in large measure to members of Team – in late October and early November. Team also finds new pitching coach Dave Wallace, who is said to love America and eat whole-grain breakfasts.
Nov. 7 - Sun reporter Eddie Encina quotes Jonesie as follows: “I think it’s a very big winter. I think our fan base wants to win. I think now you go into it where .500 isn’t good enough anymore, and as a player I like that.”
Dec. 3 - Team, unwilling to go to arbitration with Jim Johnson, trades him to Oakland for Jemile Weeks in move Duquette essentially admits to be a $10 million salary dump.
Dec. 17 - To surprise of exactly nobody Brian Roberts, his ill-fated contract with Baltimore having elapsed, signs $2 million free-agent deal with New York Yankees. Fans of Team will always remember B-Rob, not just for his injuries, but for the dynamic and talented player he used to be — full of passion for game.
Dec. 18 - Orioles nation pencils in David Lough for left field after Team makes what appears to be potentially complementary trade with Royals, sending Danny Valencia to Kansas City. Valencia stepped up and claimed DH role for Team during second half amid disturbing talent-vacuum.
Dec. 20 - Orioles, scrambling to replace aforementioned closer, had settled on 2-year, $15 million deal with Grant Balfour. But this day Team balks, and spits out contract, due to what it calls problems with the aging Oakland reliever’s shoulder. At year’s end Team had no closer. 2014 appears to be dawning with key questions unanswered for Team in starting rotation, possibly outfield and bullpen.
Dec. 26 - Well-remembered center fielder Paul Blair passes away at age of 69. Blair stole 24 bases and OBP’d at a .344 clip for the 1970 World Series Champions. Like Blog of Team, he also talked a lot of shit.