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Fangraphs has released their 2020 Steamer projections. What do they predict for the Baltimore Orioles?
Immediate Disclaimer: We’re not gathering any major takeaways from the recently released 2020 Steamer projections on Fangraphs, but that doesn’t mean we can’t utilize them for what they’re best for, giving us something to talk about during a long, likely pretty quiet offseason for the Baltimore Orioles.

Here are some of the more interesting projections, including a few that would be welcomed numbers from Orioles players and a few that have us scratching our heads a bit.

Per Steamer, only four Orioles hitters are projected to finish with an fWAR higher than 1.0, with Trey Mancini leading the way at 1.9. Jonathan Villar (1.8), Hanser Alberto (1.4), and Austin Hays (1.2) are the other three. Mancini’s 30 doubles, 29 home runs, and 113 wRC+ are all projected to be team-highs.

There isn’t much that sticks out when it comes to the offense. A .246 average with 27 home runs for Renato Nunez seems on par, as does a 22 home run season with a .261/.305/.453 slash for a full year of Anthony Santander. A -0.5 fWAR season across 56 games for Chris Davis (.196 AVG, 11 HR, 91 K in 57 games) and a projected negative -0.1 fWAR from Stevie Wilkerson are also likely.

If Austin Hays can produce close to his projected 107 games played, 41 extra-base hits (19 home runs), .257/.298/.454 slash, 93 wRC+ it will be a successful season. He may have been electric in September, but can make it through an entire season while staying healthy?

I have questions about the catching projections. Steamer has Chance Sisco playing in 77 games and putting up a .238 average, .324 OBP, and 10 home runs, with Pedro Severino seeing action in 68 games with 21 extra-base hits, a .243 average, and a wRC+ of 83. There are still major questions surrounding Sisco’s future, so I’m not opposed to seeing him get the majority of the time behind the plate.

However, his projected 5.7 Defensive Rating is mind-boggling. According to Fangraphs, he recorded a -7.5 Defensive Rating in 2019. I’m not going to pretend to know the math that goes into creating these projections, but I put more faith into Chris Davis hitting .250 with 30 home runs next season than Sisco becoming valuable behind the plate. Only two catchers in all of baseball were rated worse than Sisco defensively this past season.

Baltimore Orioles 2020 Steamer Pitching Projections.
Here’s where things get even more interesting to look at. Steamer has Dylan Bundy leading not just Orioles pitching, but the entire Orioles roster with a 2.0 fWAR. His nine projected wins are tied with John Means for the team lead while his 8.54 K/9 IP and 5.12 ERA projections lead all starting pitchers.

Steamer doesn’t see a great season from John Means. Limited time in the major leagues plays a role here, but they have him going 9-13 with a 5.41 ERA, 1.4 fWAR, and a team-leading 41 home runs allowed. He recorded a 3.60 ERA in 2019, but owned a 4.41 FIP and 5.48 xFIP and a 30.9% groundball rate. Caleb Smith of the Miami Marlins was the only pitcher with at least 150 IP to record a lower GB rate last season. These numbers don’t help his 2020 projections.

As far as rookies are concerned, Steamer believes Dean Kremer will log the fourth-most innings, throwing 129 across 23 starts. He’s projected at 6-10 with a 5.62 ERA and 111 strikeouts. Keegan Akin is listed at 4-6 with a 5.82 ERA in 15 starts with an 8.09 K/9 IP rate (second-highest among starters) and a 4.93 BB/9 IP rate.

Akin’s command struggles are well noted and will be something to watch closely in spring training/early Triple-A starts next season. I wouldn’t be mad at all if Kremer posts something similar to these projections. That’s a fairly decent major league debut on a team likely to hit 100 losses again.

You can view the full Steamer projections here on Fangraphs. Check them out and let us know what you think? Think anyone will greatly outperform their projection? Is Steamer a little too high on anyone? Let us know!

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Good morning, Birdland!

We can all agree that the Orioles remain miles away from competing with the rest of their division let alone the American League. That won’t change this offseason no matter how hard the front office tries.

Trade the prospects. Sign the free agents. Offer a well-established manager a truck load of cash. Where would that leave the team? Probably with a small window in which they might compete, or possibly on the path to complete and utter disappointment.

Have you seen the Yankees and Rays this postseason? The Bombers have been a juggernaut all season, and the Rays have enough quality pitchers to make your head spin. Neither of those things is likely to change by 2020.

Links & Notes

Three Needs: Baltimore Orioles – MLB Trade Rumors
This article says that the Orioles need to make a decent effort to improve at the big league level in 2020. I tend to disagree. They shouldn’t tank, but they also don’t need to go make a bunch of trades or signings in order to improve. Stay the course that Mike Elias has laid out, and that could very well lead to another five or so wins next season.

Oriole fans struggle with Nationals question; former Orioles featured in Braves-Cards series – Baltimore Baseball
What’s the struggle? The Nationals are the worst. I mean, not as bad as the Red Sox, or the Yankees or that Blue Jays fan who threw the beer at Hyun Soo Kim, but still. They are the worst!

Checking in on Orioles prospects in Arizona Fall League at halfway point – Baltimore Sun
Last year, outfielder Ryan McKenna was lighting the Arizona Fall League ablaze. It has been less exciting for the the O’s youngsters this year, but that’s OK too.

Former Orioles Manager Buck Showalter Showing Interest In Managing Mets – NESN
Why, Buck? You have had a good career. There is no way that signing up with the Mets can end well. Enjoy retirement.

Manny Machado, San Diego’s franchise player, letting it be known he would like Padres to at least take a look at Buck Showalter, his former skipper, as they go through their managerial search.

— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 8, 2019
Orioles birthdays and history

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

Chaz Roe and his crazy slider turn 33 today. The right-handed pitcher spent 45 games with the Orioles between 2015 and 2016. Now he serves as an important piece of the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen.

Well-travel utilityman Jason Pridie is 36 years old today. He played in just four games for the 2013 O’s, and has been out of affiliated ball since 2017.

Last, but certainly not least, we want to wish a very happy 42nd birthday to longtime Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts. From 2001 through 2013, Roberts spent a lot of time at the top of some dreadful lineups. He made two all-star teams, led the league in doubles twice and topped the MLB in stolen bases once. He is a member of the team’s Hall of Fame and seems to be on track to become an important piece of the MASN broadcast crew moving forward.

1966 – The Orioles complete a sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the franchise’s first World Series title. Dave McNally tosses a four-hit shutout and Frank Robinson’s home run supplies the offense.

1971 – Game 1 of the World Series goes to the Orioles. Dave McNally gets the win and Merv Rettenmund hits a three-run homer.

2014 – The Orioles announce that they have signed shortstop J.J. Hardy to a three-year, $40 million extension one day prior to the start of the ALCS against the Kansas City Royals.

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Good morning, Camden Chatters.

For much of the Orioles’ 2019 campaign, I couldn’t stop thinking about how ready I was for the season to end. That tends to happen when you’re watching a 108-loss ballclub. A nice, long offseason seemed like a refreshing change of pace from watching the Orioles’ nightly calamities.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Once winter arrives, though, it doesn’t take long for me to start jonesing for baseball again. I’d forgotten just how sloooooow and booooooooring the MLB offseason really is, especially for a team like the Orioles that isn’t expected to make any major splashes.

After the brief excitement of the O’s adding four prospects to the 40-man roster on Wednesday, we’re now in a lull on the offseason schedule. The next important date, the non-tender deadline, doesn’t arrive until Dec. 2. That’s when we’ll find out if the Orioles offer a 2020 contract to Jonathan Villar and other arbitration-eligible players. Until then, though, don’t expect a lot of action.

Perhaps the O’s will swing a trade involving Villar, or someone else, before that date. I wouldn’t bank on it, though. The hot stove may be awfully quiet for a while.

Links
O’s progressing toward deal with Sanders as first base coach – School of Roch
The O’s are close to hiring a new first base coach. And here I thought there was nothing exciting going on!

Looking deeper at which prospects the Orioles added to their 40-man roster — and four that they didn’t protect – The Athletic
Dan Connolly profiles the four O’s who were added to the 40-man, and looks at four who were left out. Somehow I’ll manage to soldier on if the O’s lose Zack Muckenhirn.

Four to the 40-man: Hearing from the O’s added to the roster – Steve Melewski
The aforementioned four new roster additions talk about what it means to them to join the 40-man. Keegan Akin didn’t know the deadline was coming until his uncle texted him, so I guess he wasn’t stressing over it too much.

After Career Year, Is Trey Mancini A Building Block Or Trade Chip For Orioles? – PressBoxOnline.com
Matt Kremnitzer estimates that a Mancini extension could be something like $10 million a year for five or six years. That doesn’t sound unreasonable to me for a productive player and the Birds’ most recognizable face, although I get why not everyone would be on board.

Orioles birthdays and history
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Your two O’s birthday buddies are 2007-08 outfielder Jay Payton (47), whom I only remember for getting chirpy with Melvin Mora one time during the dark ages, and 2016-17 lefty Jayson Aquino (27), whom I don’t remember but whose name I want to sing in the same rhythm as “Jason Derulo.”

On this day in 1965, O’s outfielder Curt Blefary was named AL Rookie of the Year, the second of six players in Orioles history to win the award. The 21-year-old hit .260 with an .851 OPS, 22 homers, and 70 RBIs. Blefary started his career with three decent years for the Birds, but his production fell off a cliff after the O’s traded him to Houston for Orioles Hall of Famer Mike Cuellar. Blefary’s MLB career was finished by age 28.

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Good morning, Camden Chatters.

It happened at last. The big night finally arrived. Let it be forever etched in the record books: on Aug. 22, 2019, the Baltimore Orioles became the most homered-upon team in the history of baseball.

We all knew it was coming, of course. The O’s have been on this collision course with destiny for months now, when it became apparent that their pitchers had a unprecedented talent for coughing up dingers. It was only a matter of when, not if, the 2016 Reds’ previous record of 258 was going to fall.

The O’s cleared that bar with plenty to spare, giving up fateful homer No. 259 in their 128th game, with five weeks remaining on the schedule. Mark Brown broke down all the stats behind the season-long home run barrage.

The historic feat was not without some drama. Asher Wojciechowski and the Orioles gave up the record-breaking dinger in the second inning (and another blast in the fifth), but the game was interrupted by rain in the bottom of the fifth inning, before it became official. Had the clubs been unable to resume play, the game and its stats would’ve been wiped out, and the Orioles would’ve had to wait at least one more night to officially (re)set the record.

Ultimately, though, the teams waited out a two-hour, 16-minute delay to assure they could at least finish the fifth inning and make things official. And with that, the record belonged to the Orioles, once and for all.

Hooray?

Links
Hyde says that Chris Davis’ playing time could be limited for rest of season – BaltimoreBaseball.com
It’s a move that has needed to happen for some time, but it’s sad to see a once-great Oriole reduced to a benchwarmer and lineup-card-bringer-outer.

10 stats about the Orioles giving up home runs that highlight the absurdity of Baltimore’s record-setting season – CBS Sports
R.J. Anderson checks in with a few more factoids about the Orioles’ gopher ball record. The gist: O’s pitchers are unspeakably bad.

Mantle? Pujols? Alberto hangs with elite vs. LHP – Orioles.com
Hanser Alberto is being mentioned in the same breath as baseball legends. Just as we all predicted in March.

Another look at the Orioles’ improved Dominican program – Steve Melewski
When’s the last time the Orioles had any players in the Dominican Summer League worth talking about? Now they do, and Dominican academy director Felipe Alou Jr. is more than happy to talk about them.

Orioles birthdays and history
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You have a smorgasbord of O’s birthday buddies, the most prominent being Orioles Hall of Famer Mike Boddicker (62), who spent the first nine of his 14 major league seasons in Baltimore. He was an All-Star and 20-game winner in 1984, and in 1988 the O’s traded him for Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling. Not a bad return. It’s also the birthday of the late Baseball Hall of Famer George Kell (b. 1922, d. 2009), who ended his career with a couple years on the Orioles.

Six other ex-Orioles have birthdays today, most of them of the blink-and-you-missed-them type. The list includes pitchers John Morris (78) and the late Ed Barnowski (b. 1943, d. 2017), who combined for 25 appearances with the O’s in the 1960s; and position players Raul Casanova (47), Casey Blake (46), and Alejandro Freire (45), who combined for 33 games in the early 2000s. Finally, it’s the 55th birthday of 1995 infielder Jeff Manto, who’s currently the Orioles’ minor league hitting coordinator.

On this day in 2002, the Orioles stormed back from a 6-0 deficit to beat the Blue Jays, 11-7, at Camden Yards, bringing their record to an even 63-63. That’s good! Then they proceeded to go 4-32 to finish the season. That’s not so good!

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When the Washington Nationals dropped a 6-4 decision to the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 23, the Miami Marlins were breathing down their backs.

Yes, the 105-loss Marlins, who on May 23 were just 1 1/2 games back of the 19-31 Nationals in the NL East. The Toronto Blue Jays, who went on to lose 95 games, had one more win than the Nats on that date. Pitching coach Derek Lilliquist was replaced earlier in the month, and manager Dave Martinez’s seat was on fire.

On Wednesday, those same Nationals beat the 107-win Houston Astros in Game 7 to win the World Series.

The Nats did it after their horrendous start to the season. They did it while winning four times on the road against the best team in baseball. And they did it with five come-from-behind wins in five different elimination games, the first time that’s ever happened, according to MLB Stats.

What the Nationals just accomplished has already entered baseball lore. But are they the most unlikely champions of all time? Let’s see how they compare to a few other stunning World Series winners.

1906 Chicago White Sox

Transcendental Graphics / Getty Images Sport / Getty
The story: Nicknamed the “Hitless Wonders” – they hit a collective .230/.301/.286 in the regular season and averaged 3.68 runs a game – the 1906 White Sox won the pennant anyway, thanks to a 19-game win streak in August and a pitching staff that spun a modern-era record 32 shutouts. In the all-Chicago World Series, they hit .198 as a team but still upset the 116-win Cubs in six games. George Rohe – who had a 92 OPS+ in 1906, his second-last MLB season – torched the Cubs by hitting .333/.440/.571 with four RBIs. The Sox beat the great Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown twice and knocked him out of the clinching Game 6 in the second inning.

Do they compare? The White Sox and Nats both ran on superb starting pitching and earned their first three World Series wins on the road. Of course, we all know the Nats were a far, far better team at the plate, though the “Hitless Wonders” are still one of the most unlikely champions of all time.

1954 New York Giants
The story: The 97-win Giants were very good, featuring multiple All-Stars, an ace reliever in Hoyt Wilhelm, and NL MVP Willie Mays in center field. But they were huge underdogs in the World Series against a 111-win Indians team that was great enough to interrupt the Yankees’ dynasty. Cleveland crushed 156 homers and had a star-studded pitching staff whose collective ERA was well below three.

Then Mays went to work in Game 1.

The catch demoralized Cleveland. Giants pinch-hitter Dusty Rhodes – who didn’t start a game in the series but still hit .667 – walked off Game 1 with a pinch-hit homer in the 10th, and New York swept the Indians with ease.

Do they compare? There are plenty of parallels, with both teams employing star young outfielders who had breakout seasons at the plate. Also, both the 1954 Giants and 2019 Nats beat World Series opponents who had 14 more wins in the regular season, the second-largest gap in history (trailing 1906). The World Series win was shocking, but the pennant win wasn’t a complete surprise.

1969 New York Mets
The story: The Mets were hapless, lovable losers from their start in 1962 but roared to 100 wins behind a young pitching staff of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry, and Nolan Ryan. After holding off the star-studded Cubs in the regular season, the Mets swept the Braves in the NLCS before stunning the heavily favored, 109-win Orioles in five games to win the World Series. They’re still baseball’s most famous underdogs.

Do they compare? Few Cinderella stories were better than the “Miracle Mets.” But it’s hard to put them in line with the Nats because these Mets featured all kinds of young talent whose careers were just getting started. It’s not that the Mets weren’t amazing – they still are. It’s just hard to directly compare them to an older Nats club that finally got over the hump.

1990 Cincinnati Reds
The story: The Reds had struggled for two years during the Pete Rose scandal and Marge Schott’s unstable ownership, making the 1990 turnaround all the more surprising. Led by the great Barry Larkin, ace Jose Rijo, and the infamous “Nasty Boys” bullpen, Lou Piniella’s Reds went wire-to-wire atop the NL West before stunning Barry Bonds and the Pirates in the NLCS.

They were heavy World Series underdogs against the defending champion Athletics, who cruised to a third straight AL pennant. But Billy Hatcher hit .750, the pitching staff (led by series MVP Rijo) held the powerful A’s to just eight runs, and the Reds pulled off the unthinkable sweep.

Do they compare? This is one of the more shocking World Series outcomes, with the 103-win A’s getting swept by a team with 12 fewer victories. But the Reds differ from many of the Cinderella teams on this list, including the Nats, because they went wire-to-wire. The lack of a midseason turnaround means these Reds were just a really strong team that did what they were supposed to do, even if few actually saw it coming.

2003 Florida Marlins
The story: The Marlins were 16-22 when they fired manager Jeff Torborg in favor of Jack McKeon. It didn’t help at first; Florida fell 10 games under .500 less than two weeks later, and didn’t go above that mark for good until mid-July. But they scratched and clawed their way to October, fighting off multiple teams to sneak in as a 91-win wild card.

From there, the Marlins would not be denied. Pudge Rodriguez held onto the ball to upset the 100-win Giants in the NLDS. Down 3-1 in the NLCS, the Marlins came back (with help from a famous incident) to beat the favored Cubs in seven. And then for the grand finale, they showed no fear while beating Joe Torre’s 101-win Yankees in six games, clinching it in the Bronx on Josh Beckett’s five-hit shutout.

Do they compare? An NL East wild-card team that at one point was 10 games under, featuring a bright young hitting star alongside a hodgepodge of assorted veterans, coming from nowhere to stun heavily favored juggernauts? You better believe they’re similar. One key difference is this year’s Nats were at least expected to compete for a playoff spot, whereas the 2003 Marlins were supposed to be just another wretched squad. But this is more in line with the kind of jaw-dropping upset we’re looking for.

1914 Boston Braves
The story: On July 4, the last-place Braves fell to 26-40 after dropping both ends of a doubleheader to Brooklyn. They sat 15 games back of the first-place Giants. But on July 5, the Braves suddenly started to win.

Bettmann / Bettmann / Getty
The “Miracle Braves” engineered one of the most remarkable midseason turnarounds in sports history. After that Fourth of July doubleheader they went 68-19, took first place from the Giants for good on Sept. 8, and ultimately won the pennant by 10 1/2 games. In the World Series, the Braves swept the dynastic Philadelphia Athletics – who boasted five future Hall of Famers and were looking for their second straight title, and fourth in five years – in stunning fashion, holding them to a .172 average while using just three pitchers in the process.

Do they compare? The “Miracle Braves” are the only other team besides the Nats to have won the World Series after being at least 12 games below .500 during the regular season, according to ESPN Stats & Info. And while the Nats’ record through their first 50 games is now the worst for a champion, the Braves nearly turning a 15-game deficit into a 15-game lead is a feat that should stand the test of time.

Realistically, the 1914 Braves are just about the only club that can claim to be a more unlikely champion than the Nationals. Not only did they complete that wild midseason turnaround, but they did it with a largely anonymous team that returned to irrelevancy two years later. Outside of star infielders Rabbit Maranville and 1914 MVP Johnny Evers, the Braves fielded a roster of no-names like Lefty Tyler, Butch Schmidt, and Possum Whitted. And that group showed the same lack of fear as the Nats while taking down one of the greatest teams ever assembled.

So let’s leave it at this: the 2019 Washington Nationals just did something we haven’t seen in 105 years. It might take another 105 to see it again. It was that unprecedented.

You might as well call it a miracle.

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Though the Astros came up short in Game 7 of the World Series, they still nearly achieved something in 2019 that no team had ever done — sweep the Most Valuable Player, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards.

The American League Cy Young Award was a two-pitcher race between Houston teammates Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, with Verlander ultimately prevailing by just four first-place votes. Earlier in the week, Astros designated hitter Yordan Alvarez was the unanimous pick for AL Rookie of the Year.

• 2019 BBWAA Award winners

That left only the AL MVP Award, which Astros third baseman Alex Bregman lost to Angels superstar Mike Trout by just 20 points. But the Astros are still in pretty exclusive company even by winning just two of the three major BBWAA Awards, while also finishing with the runner-up in the other category.

Through 2019, the same team has produced two of the three MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Award winners 54 times, including the ‘19 Mets (NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso and NL Cy Young Jacob deGrom) and Astros. That includes years in which the same player accounted for both, such as Clayton Kershaw winning the NL MVP and Cy Young Awards for the ‘14 Dodgers, or Ichiro Suzuki taking home AL MVP and Rookie of the Year honors for the ’01 Mariners.

Bregman finishes 2nd for AL MVP
Bregman finishes 2nd for AL MVP
00:29
Nov. 14th, 2019
Of those 54 instances, that same team was responsible for the runner-up for the third award just eight times — including this year’s Astros. That number drops to five when removing cases that include the same player vying for multiple awards. In other words, only six times in MLB history has the same team had three different players account for winning two of the awards and finishing second for the other.

Below is a list of those eight times the same team won two of three awards and produced the runner-up for the third (bolded names were runners-up; unbolded names won the award).

2019 Astros: Alex Bregman (MVP), Justin Verlander (Cy Young), Yordan Alvarez (ROY)
1993 White Sox: Frank Thomas (MVP), Jack McDowell (Cy Young), Jason Bere (ROY)
1988 Athletics: Jose Canseco (MVP), Dennis Eckersley (Cy Young), Walt Weiss (ROY)
1985 Cardinals: Willie McGee (MVP), John Tudor (Cy Young), Vince Coleman (ROY)
1974 Rangers: Jeff Burroughs (MVP), Fergie Jenkins (Cy Young), Mike Hargrove (ROY)
1973 Orioles: Jim Palmer (MVP), Jim Palmer (Cy Young), Al Bumbry (ROY)
1967 Red Sox: Carl Yastrzemski (MVP), Jim Lonborg (Cy Young), Reggie Smith (ROY)
1965 Dodgers: Sandy Koufax (MVP), Sandy Koufax (Cy Young), Jim Lefebvre (ROY)

Obviously, not every runner-up finish is created equal. Jason Bere finished second in the 1993 AL Rookie of the Year race, but the White Sox right-hander did not receive a single first-place vote in his quest to join teammates Frank Thomas (MVP) and Jack McDowell (Cy Young) in the winner’s circle. Angels outfielder Tim Salmon was voted the unanimous Rookie of the Year that season.

Likewise, Cardinals left-hander John Tudor received zero first-place votes in his runner-up finish for the 1985 NL Cy Young Award (Dwight Gooden was the unanimous winner). Orioles right-hander Jim Palmer was also second to unanimous ’73 AL MVP winner Reggie Jackson, though Palmer at least took home the Cy Young Award that season, while teammate Al Bumbry was named the Rookie of the Year.

While those three runners-up did not receive any first-place votes, Dennis Eckersley and Reggie Smith each received exactly one first-place vote, respectively, in the 1988 AL Cy Young and ’67 AL Rookie of the Year races. Eckersley lost out to Frank Viola, who received the other 27 votes, while Smith yielded way to Rod Carew.

That leaves two truly close calls — the 1974 Rangers and ’65 Dodgers.

Texas outfielder Jeff Burroughs held off a trio of Athletics — Joe Rudi, Sal Bando and Reggie Jackson — for the 1974 AL MVP Award. Teammate Mike Hargrove won the Rookie of the Year Award in decisive fashion, beating out Bucky Dent and George Brett.

That left only the AL Cy Young Award. Texas right-hander Fergie Jenkins went 25-12 with a 2.82 ERA, 225 strikeouts and 29 complete games in 1974 — but it wasn’t enough. Jenkins’ 10 first-place votes were two fewer than Oakland righty — and fellow future Hall of Famer — Catfish Hunter, who received 12 votes after posting an identical 25-12 record to go along with a 2.49 ERA, 143 strikeouts and 23 complete games.

Moving on to the 1965 Dodgers, Sandy Koufax was the unanimous Cy Young Award winner at a time when the award was given to only one player across the Majors, instead of one from each league. That same year, Dodgers infielder Jim Lefebvre easily claimed Rookie of the Year honors over future Hall of Famer Joe Morgan.

As for the NL MVP race, the Dodgers actually had two of the top three finishers — and three of the top five. Koufax received six first-place votes to go along with his Cy Young Award, and teammate Maury Wills received five first-place votes. Neither had enough to edge Giants outfielder Willie Mays, who received the other nine first-place votes after racking up 52 homers and 112 RBIs.

Koufax’s Game 7 gem
Koufax’s Game 7 gem
01:33
Oct. 14th, 1965
Though those are the two closest calls since the Cy Young Award was first handed out in 1956, it’s worth mentioning the 1952 Philadelphia Athletics. Left-hander Bobby Shantz won the AL MVP Award, while teammate and fellow pitcher Harry Byrd won AL Rookie of the Year honors. The Cy Young Award did not exist yet, but it stands to reason that Shantz would have won the award for the league’s best pitcher, considering he won the AL MVP Award in convincing fashion — and the MVP on the NL side was outfielder Hank Sauer.

The Astros figure to at least join the ranks of these close calls barring any surprises in Cy Young or Rookie of the Year voting, but time will tell if the MVP voting results in a first-of-its-kind sweep for Houston.

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It started innocently enough: Every time the Nationals clinched a playoff berth, Russell de Leon would buy cheap champagne and toast the team with a fellow bartender.

The problem, though, was what came next. Year after year—2012, 2014, 2016, 2017—the Nationals won their division; year after year, they flamed out of the NLDS in dramatic fashion. “I always got really excited, and then they lost,” de Leon says. “And then I’d root for them again, and they’d lose again.” By 2017, when the Nationals once again fell in the first round of the playoffs, it felt important to drink the champagne early, because the Nats weren’t likely to offer anything else to celebrate. Rooting for the Nationals in the postseason, he says, was “just tedious.”

On Wednesday night, de Leon held down the bar at the Pug in Northeast Washington, D.C., the kind of dive that brags about its bad Yelp reviews. (“Décor is a mishmash of anything goes and garage sale items, including the ripped booth cushions we sat on. It just felt dirty all over.”) To face Game 7 of the Nationals’ first-ever World Series, a grab bag of Washingtonians arrived: Long-time neighborhood residents who grew up rooting for the Orioles, politicos still wearing the day’s suit and tie, recent transplants who’ve helped make D.C. the most rapidly gentrifying city in the country, students from nearby Gallaudet University signing their anxiety and delight (de Leon, like a lot of H Street denizens, can do the basics). As Nats starter Max Scherzer labored through five innings against the Astros, each of the hits and walks he issued fell on the Pug’s crowd concussively—ducking, wincing, covering their heads, letting out quiet hisses. When Yuli Gurriel homered in the bottom of the second inning, the standing-room-only bar fell silent.

De Leon, 40, grew up in the Virginia suburbs and moved to D.C. proper in 2008. He started bartending at the Pug in 2011; the bar’s owner, Tony Tomelden, is a D.C. native and has covered the walls in assorted District bric-a-brac: a picture of the Washington Senators, torn-out sports pages from The Washington Post, bobbleheads of G-Wiz, Davey Johnson, and Tanner Roark. “My favorite athletes as an adult have been Sean Taylor, RG3, John Wall, and Bryce Harper,” de Leon says. “That’s really all you need to know.”

The Pug bartender Russell de Leon Claire McNear
This was a Nationals team with a tendency to make fans grind their teeth. Entering Wednesday, the team had trailed in all four of the postseason elimination games that it faced (the wild-card against the Brewers, twice in the NLDS against the Dodgers, and Game 6 of the World Series). The Nats did the same in Game 7, carrying a 2-0 deficit into the seventh inning before finally roaring back.

Anthony Rendon hit a one-out home run in the seventh, and then Juan Soto walked. The cheers for Howie Kendrick, already a postseason hero after hitting a 10th-inning grand slam to win Game 5 of the NLDS, began even before he smashed the go-ahead run off the foul pole; that ball, inked with the pole’s yellow paint, is already on its way to Cooperstown. At the Pug, beer flew.

The celebrations swept across D.C. At a drizzly watch party at Nats Park, one fan ripped off his T-shirt and flung himself belly first across the top of the dugout. A Metro driver leaped out of his idling bus to dance in the street. José Andrés cheered from the background of a newscast; Alex Ovechkin loosed a bottle of champagne at the Capitals’ Halloween party. This October, Tomelden—manning the Pug’s Twitter account—was fond of reminding followers when the Nationals were leading that it was still early. This time, with Washington’s championship sealed with a 6-2 victory, de Leon lined up a long row of shot glasses and poured. A man tried unsuccessfully to get a “fuck you Har-per” chant going, climbing onto a bench to direct a nonplussed crowd. De Leon told him to get down.

D.C. is a funny place, one whose sports fans are sometimes written off. It’s a city of transplants, of business casual and sterile downtown and nonstop politics talk; it’s also a city of mumbo sauce and go-go and people whose work has nothing at all to do with the Capitol and, until recently, rotten sports luck. Since they arrived 14 years ago, the Nats have been a unifying force—for the people who come to D.C. for work, for the people who stay many years later, for the people who’ve been here all along. They’ve welcomed in fans who mourned the Senators and the Grays alongside those who endured years of Major League Baseball’s dangling a new team before the city alongside those who moved to D.C. as adults and fell in love with baseball for the first time. On Saturday, all of them will get a parade.

This year, de Leon broke with tradition: There was no champagne when the Nationals secured their place in the playoffs, squeaking into a wild-card berth. Instead, when the last out of the World Series finally came, he shook a beer, aimed it at his customers, and let loose.

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While it was a joke, the Tampa Bay Rays social media team made a fool of themselves in a post comparing themselves to the 1966 world champion Baltimore Orioles team.
The 1966 Baltimore Orioles and 2019 Tampa Bay Rays have something in common. 53 years after the Orioles went 8-1 against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in 1966 the Rays were able to complete the same feat as they dominated Boston in their home ballpark.

With that fact in mine, the Rays had a little fun tweeting that their current 2019 club was better than the 1966 Orioles.

2019 Rays > 1966 Orioles#RaysUp pic.twitter.com/SGNfo3OSZ0

— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 2, 2019

For those who are unfamiliar with the 1966 Orioles, they were one of the most dominant teams in franchise history. The Birds went 97-65 and swept the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series to win their first championship in team history.

The team consisted of future Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Luis Aparicio and Frank Robinson who was named 1966 American League MVP after hitting .316 with 49 home runs and 122 RBI’s.

It’s safe to say, 1966 the Orioles don’t even compare to the 2019 Tampa Bay Rays (64-48). The Rays currently trail the New York Yankees by eight games for first place in the American League East, hold just a half game lead in the second Wildcard race and are on pace to finish the season 92-70.

While the team is better than most in baseball, they do not have a single star player, lacks home support and very well may miss out on the postseason.

Yes, the Rays social media was trying to make a joke, but it’s hard not to take offense to it as some of the most historic players to ever play the game of baseball played for the 1966 Orioles and helped them bring the first-ever world series championship to the city of Baltimore.

Though the joke was in poor taste, no Orioles fan will complain watching the Red Sox season fall apart just a year after winning the world series.

However, the Rays must remember 1966 Orioles > 2019 Tampa Bay Rays. Hear it from Palmer himself.

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Former Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts is among the first-time candidates up for induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Roberts, who played for the Orioles from 2001-13 before spending 2014 with the New York Yankees, is one of 18 players who will be on the ballot for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time, along with 14 holdovers.

The Orioles drafted Roberts with the 50th overall pick in 1999 out of the University of South Carolina. During 13 seasons in Baltimore, he was a two-time All-Star, twice leading the American League in doubles and leading the AL with 50 steals in 2007.

Baltimore Orioles batter Brian Roberts shakes raindrops off his body as he fouls off a pitch against the Washington Nationals in the third inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards Friday, Jun 22, 2012.

Baltimore Orioles batter Brian Roberts shakes raindrops off his body as he fouls off a pitch against the Washington Nationals in the third inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards Friday, Jun 22, 2012. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun)
For his career, Roberts, 42, was a .276/.347/.409 hitter and ranks in the top 10 in Orioles history in various statistics, including doubles, hits and walks. He has served as an analyst for Orioles radio and television broadcasts since 2018.

A player must receive 75% of the voting, which is performed by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, to earn induction into the Hall of Fame. Players can be on the ballot for up to 10 years, under the condition that they appear on at least 5% of the ballots each year. Voters can vote for up to 10 players each year.

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Other players with Orioles ties on the ballot are outfielder Sammy Sosa and right-hander Curt Schilling, both of whom are on the ballot for the eighth time. Schilling, 53, was the leading vote-getter among players who did not earn induction in 2019, appearing on 60.9% of ballots. He pitched in Baltimore for parts of three seasons to begin his career.

Newly signed Baltimore Oriole, Sammy Sosa, was introduced to the media during a press conference at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Newly signed Baltimore Oriole, Sammy Sosa, was introduced to the media during a press conference at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. (GENE SWEENEY JR/Baltimore Sun)
Sosa, 51, garnered 8.5% of the votes last year. He played 102 games for the Orioles in 2005, his penultimate season in the major leagues.

Ballots are due Dec. 31, with the results announced on MLB Network at 6 p.m. Jan. 21. Elected players will be inducted July 26 in Cooperstown, New York.

2020 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot
Bobby Abreu, Josh Beckett, Heath Bell, Barry Bonds, Eric Chávez, Roger Clemens, Adam Dunn, Chone Figgins, Rafael Furcal, Jason Giambi, Todd Helton, Raúl Ibañez, Derek Jeter, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Paul Konerko, Cliff Lee, Carlos Peña, Brad Penny, Andy Pettitte, J.J. Putz, Manny Ramírez, Brian Roberts, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Alfonso Soriano, Sammy Sosa, José Valverde, Omar Vizquel, Billy Wagner, Larry Walker

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Good morning, Camden Chatters.

For any O’s fan who’s planning to attend a weeknight game at Camden Yards next year — before Memorial Day or after Labor Day, at least — last night’s club announcement should be of particular interest to you. The Birds, for the first time, will be shifting those games to a 6:35 PM start time, half an hour earlier than what’s been the norm for the last couple of decades. A total of 16 games will start at 6:35.

The time change is a double-edged sword. In theory, it should allow more kids to be able to attend games — and perhaps even stay to the end — while being able to get home at a reasonable hour on a school night. Plus, if you’re the early-to-bed type who has trouble staying up for the end of night games, you’ll be in luck at the start of the 2020 season. Only one of the Orioles’ first 18 games — home or road — will start as late at 7:05 PM. So, well until mid-April, plenty of O’s games will be over in time for fans to enjoy the rest of their night.

On the other hand, a 6:35 start time could make it more difficult for people with 9-to-5 jobs to get to the ballpark on time, especially if they don’t live or work particularly close to Camden Yards. And even fans who are just watching on TV might have to alter their usual evening routine to accommodate the new schedule.

Personally I like the change, but I say that as someone who rarely attends weeknight games these days. I don’t think it’ll have any meaningful impact on attendance, if that’s the goal. As of this writing, more voters in Mark’s poll seem to be in favor of the change than against it. What do you think?

Links
Elias holding same shopping list as GM meetings conclude – School of Roch
I hadn’t seen this tidbit about Jose Iglesias before: “They did their homework on him last winter, found that he’s developed a reputation as a negative influence in the clubhouse and passed on him.” Guess you can scratch his name off the Orioles’ shopping list.

Could a pair of former first-round picks elevate the O’s ’pen? – Steve Melewski
Having a full season of Hunter Harvey and/or Dillon Tate could help the Orioles’ bullpen improve over 2019. That’s not a high bar to clear.

Pitcher Aaron Brooks leaves Orioles for an opportunity in South Korea – BaltimoreBaseball.com
If you’ve been wondering how things are going for Tyler Wilson in the KBO, he checks in via text message at the end of this story. Happily, it seems like he’s having a pretty good time. Hopefully the same will be true for Brooks.

Baltimore Orioles: Could An NL West Team Come For Jonathan Villar? – Birds Watcher
The Padres have prospects to trade and are reportedly trying to make a run, so Nick Stevens wonders if a Villar trade could entice them. I sure wouldn’t mind raiding that stacked minor league system, but I’m not sure the Padres will be so eager to give youngsters away for a pending free agent.

Orioles birthdays and history
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! And let’s all wish a happy 27th birthday to one of the Orioles’ longest tenured veterans, Dylan Bundy. Bundy may not have lived up to the massive hype that came with being the No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 draft, but he’s developed as a guy who will take the ball every fifth day and won’t embarrass you. He was basically a league-average pitcher in 2019 by ERA+ (99), which is perfectly fine for the O’s. Bundy is one of only four players remaining from the Birds’ last playoff team in 2016, along with Chris Davis, Trey Mancini, and Mychal Givens.

Other O’s birthdays today include 2002 soft-tossing Australian John Stephens (40) and 2004 righty Darwin Cubillan (47).

On this day in 1983, Cal Ripken Jr. won the first of his two career AL MVP awards, following up his 1982 Rookie of the Year campaign with an even better season. Cal led the league in runs (121), hits (211), and doubles (47) while batting .318/.371/.517 with 27 homers and 102 RBIs for the world champion Orioles. He became the first player in big league history to win the ROY and MVP in consecutive seasons.