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Orioles Fans Are Pretty Agitated Right Now

Last night's postponement did Orioles fans no favors after last weekend's sweep by the Red Sox.

It was one frustrating series after another, as the O's have dropped five of six to those two teams up north. Yes, Orioles fans are pretty agitated right now.

Neither the offense nor the pitching staff is solely responsible for Baltimore's slide. But just looking at the hitters, it's hard to see this kind of futility continuing.

First things first: offenses across the league are struggling. In 2019, which was the MLB's last full 162-game season, the Cleveland Indians finished 15th in OPS at .756. This year, the Arizona Diamondbacks are 15th in OPS at just .693. The bottom 10 teams in OPS this season have an average OPS of .6345, while the same teams in 2019 had an average OPS of .7136. 

That's a pretty wide gap, a gap that isn't sustainable.

Yes, I'll grant you that the Orioles' lineup isn't exactly filled with stud sluggers who have track records of bonafide production. But they do have a track record of more production than what we're seeing.

We'll start with Trey Mancini, who already seems to be heating up. He's had an abysmal start to the season, slashing .189/.244/.405 for an OPS of .649. That said, Mancini went yard twice against the Red Sox in their last series. Mancini's career OPS is .816, a number I'd expect him to reach by season's end.

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These Are The Weekends It's Tough To Be Orioles Fans

Momma said there would be days like this.

A week after engineering a series sweep of the Boston Red Sox to kick off the 2021 season, the Orioles ended their weekend on the exact opposite end of the spectrum with three losses to that same team in Boston.

This weekend's series showcased all of the Orioles' issues. Anything known to be an issue coming into the season was packaged into the three games against the Red Sox.

It started with shaky pitching and ended with shaky pitching. The bookend starters of the series — Matt Harvey and Jorge Lopez — both struggled in their respective outings, allowing a combined 13 runs in nine innings. Lopez' outing was particularly poor, allowing seven earned runs over four innings.

The struggles extended to the bullpen, too. The O's relievers allowed three runs on Thursday in the opener, another two runs and a blown save on Saturday and a whopping six runs on Sunday. Even Rule 5 draft pick Mac Sceroler, who shined in the opening series against Boston, was charged with three runs in just one inning in his Sunday appearance.

Oh, and the offense was inconsistent. The O's scored just seven runs in the first two games of the series and scored nine in the finale.

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Orioles Magic: They Win One They Probably Shouldn't Have

I remember hearing a baseball analyst say this as a kid, and it continues to stick with me to this day: "You're guaranteed to lose 60 games and you're guaranteed to win 60 games. It's those 42 games in between that you have to win in order to separate yourself from the pack."

On Wednesday night, the Orioles won one of those games in between.

The Yankees not only out-hit the Orioles by nine, but also didn't blow two saves. The Orioles still got it done 4-3 in 11 innings.

Baltimore should have lost this game. Consider, for example:

  • Teams shouldn't win when they register only four hits. Granted, two of those hits were homers, but a team's winning percentage can't be high when they register just four hits.
  • Left fielder Ryan Mountcastle misplayed a ball in the eighth inning that could've been caught. Instead, Gio Urshela drove in the tying run.
  • Two different relievers relinquished the O's lead in the later innings. Shawn Armstrong allowed two hits in the eighth inning before getting the heave-ho, and Cesar Valdez blew his first save in the 10th inning. 

Despite this, the Orioles won. They took advantage of Gleyber Torres' critical throwing error in the top of the 10th to take the lead, and cashed in both scoring opportunities they were given in extra innings, thanks to Major League Baseball's decision to automatically place a runner on second base at the start of extra innings.

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The Orioles' Winning Streak Comes To An End...

The aura of a series sweep usually only lasts as long as the team keeps winning. The aura the Orioles had created with their 3-0 sweep over the Red Sox ended Monday, thanks to a 7-0 loss to the Yankees. 

After a strong performance from the pitching staff in Boston, the O's found themselves in a lot of trouble on Monday night. Jorge Lopez didn't make it out of the fifth inning and was charged with four runs. Shawn Armstrong and Paul Fry combined to retire two batters, all the while giving up three hits, two walks and three runs. 

The loss isn't solely on the pitchers, since you can't win if you don't score. Cedric Mullins and Pedro Severino stayed hot, but the O's got nothing out of their 2-3-4 hitters. 

Thankfully, it's just one game. But it's a reminder that as fun as the series sweep over Boston was, there's going to be a lot of losing coming the Orioles' way this summer.

As I wrote before the season, the Orioles need to be judged on how their young talent develops over the course of the season, not necessarily of how many games they win.

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Time To Break Up The Orioles After Starting Season 3-0 :)

Ain't the beer cold?

Look, anytime you sweep the Red Sox in Fenway, there's cause for celebration. I'm well aware that the season is 1.8 percent of the way finished and that there's a long way to go, but let me enjoy this.

Through three games, the Orioles are good. Damn good, actually. 

O's fans saw it all in the team's opening series — solid starting pitching, a reliable bullpen and a lineup full of young sluggers. Baltimore used a combination of all three to bludgeon the Red Sox this past weekend.

The Means Justify The Ends

John Means earned his 2019 All-Star appearance and even threw his hat in the ring for Rookie of the Year. The following season was as rocky as it gets, thanks to COVID-19 and injuries.

But if Means' Opening Day start is any inclination of what Orioles fans are going to see in 2021, Means just might be returning to the Midsummer Classic.

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At Least Fans Got To See The Orioles' Opening Day Roster

Pain.

That's what I felt when I read MASN's Roch Kubatko's tweet about the postponement of the Orioles' Opening Day tilt with the Red Sox this morning. Imagine waking up on Christmas morning and your Dad saying, "Nah, we're opening presents tomorrow."

Gee, thanks.

But at least Kubatko shared the Orioles Opening Day roster on his Twitter shortly thereafter, so we've got some fat to chew on until Friday. Here are three things that stood out to me.

Youth Abounds In The Outfield

I'm 26 years old and I'll be 27 in July. One of the problems about my age is that I'm still getting used to players I root for and follow be younger than me. It's weird.

What isn't weird is that every single active Orioles outfielder is younger than I am. Both Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander were born three months after I was. Austin Hays is a year and a few days younger than I am. And baby-faced Ryan Mountcastle is 24 years old.

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For Orioles, Time To Stop Tanking, Time To Start Winning

A line from The Athletic's Joe Posnanski really struck me this offseason.

"Tanking," Posnanski wrote "depletes the soul."

Tell me about it. Watching the Baltimore Orioles deliberately lose in an effort to stockpile young talent through the MLB Draft has nearly depleted my baseball soul.

Nearly.

Once again, another Baltimore Orioles season awaits in which the win and loss totals don't actually matter. The O's are likely to finish in the AL East cellar for the fourth time in five seasons. The pitching isn't there, whether it be in the rotation or the bullpen. There are too many questions on offense, too.

So for the average Orioles fan, what is there to look forward to? How can you look forward to the beginning of a 162-game slog that will surely end in a losing record?

Keep your baseball soul.

First things first: it's ok to cheer for wins. Far too many O's fans have spent the last three seasons cheering L's because they think a higher draft pick is an assured way to secure more W's in the future.

If you're in that crowd, I've got the Dodgers on Line 1 for you. And the Rays on Line 2.

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Where's The Beef? Maybe Finally Returning To VT DLine...

I'm here to talk about Virginia Tech's 2018 football season.

Yes, I'm aware that season brings back a lot of anger and despair for Hokies fans, but humor me for a moment.

The 2018 season happened to be Ricky Walker's final season in a Virginia Tech uniform. It also happened to be Vinny Mihota's final season in a Tech uniform. Both graduated and moved on after the season.

Mihota had an odd career — he started it at defensive end opposite Ken Ekanem and served his purpose as an edge-setting end that allowed Ekanem to rush the passer on the other side. Mihota would later move inside to defensive tackle out of necessity, forcing the injury-prone 270-pounder into the slog that is the interior.

Unsurprisingly, Mihota struggled. He played in just six games, registered 11 tackles and zero sacks.

Defensive tackle has been a sore spot for the Hokies for the last several seasons. Woody Baron was the last uber-productive tackle to play in a Hokies uniform, though Walker was more than respectable during his tenure. 

But Woody Baron doesn't come around often. You don't find 260-pound defensive linemen who can dominate the interior very often. You need bigger bodies in there and you need a lot of them

For the first time in what feels like forever, Virginia Tech might have the beef.

Among those returning are DaShawn Crawford, Norell Pollard and Mario Kendricks, all of whom have flashed at various points. Josh Fuga is also back, as well as Jaden Cunningham and Maxx Philpott. Oh, and Clemson transfer Jordan Williams is in town too.

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J.C. Price Quickly Having An Impact At Virginia Tech

That didn't take very long.

Just a few weeks after accepting a position at his alma mater, J.C. Price is already impacting Virginia Tech's roster decisions.

C.J .McCray is an intriguing addition. The 6-foot-4 linebacker enrolled at Marshall as a 2020 recruit with academic issues that kept him ineligible last season. McCray took care of those issues, and now is following Price to Blacksburg.

Time will tell if McCray impacts Virginia Tech's program. Any time you can add a linebacker at that height, you're adding someone who could realistically grow into a solid outside backer. He wasn't a highly sought after prospect, but his eligibility issues could have affected that.

More importantly, McCray's decision to transfer shows that Price is being taken seriously inside those coaches' meetings. And that's encouraging.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they take over a management role is hiring only people that they're familiar with and people that think like them. It creates an echo chamber of thinking with almost no dissent or creativity to be found.

Justin Fuente has done this throughout his tenure. His offensive coordinator has followed him around for years. His defensive coordinator coached under him for two seasons. Most, if not all, of his assistants have some prior connection to Fuente's past stops.

Familiarity is helpful, but so is a diversity of thought. That's what Price offers.

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VT's Brooks Finally Accomplishes Two Long-Term Goals

It took five long seasons, but Kenny Brooks finally accomplished two of his long-term goals that he set when taking the Virginia Tech women's basketball head coaching position.

One was to get the Hokies to an NCAA Tournament. The other was to win a game in the tournament.

Check and check.

A lot has happened in these last five seasons. Brooks inherited a program that had grown accustomed to losing — Tech didn't finish a season with a winning record from 2007-08 through 2014-15 — and accustomed to an early end to the basketball season. Tech broke into the WNIT in 2015-16 under Dennis Wolff, but his contract wasn't renewed after the season.

Brooks' arrival instantly changed the program. He moved longtime point guard Vanessa Panousis to an off-ball role to take advantage of her shooting prowess. He unleashed Sami Hill and enabled her to be the scoring wing player she was capable of being. And he developed Regan Magarity into one of the best players in program history.

Tech won 20 games in Brooks' first season, and the Hokies proceeded to eclipse the 20-win mark for the next three seasons. Last year, they came awfully close to clinching an NCAA Tournament bid for the first time since 2006, but the cancellation of the Big Dance evaporated those hopes.

This year, they came back for more.

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Hokies Won't Get To See What Bamisile Could Have Become

This isn't my idea of what college athletics was supposed to be.

The original purpose of college athletics was a simple one — athletes can attend accredited four-year institutions at no cost to themselves (sort of). In return for them playing a sport and assisting with the marketing efforts of a university, those athletes can earn a college degree, usually a bachelor's and sometimes a master's.

But that's not reality.

College athletics is now a multi-billion dollar industry that will resume its consistent track record of growth as soon as the country returns to normal and exits the lockdown stage. Coaches are often the highest-paid employees by their respective state government, and players are worth their weight in gold.

I don't have an issue with college athletics being big business, but if it's going to be big business, players have to have rights. Pursuing opportunities at other programs has to be one of those.

That's what Virginia Tech's Joe Bamisile did Monday.

The freshman guard announced that he's entered the transfer portal in search of playing time. His decision had nothing to do with the coaching staff in Blacksburg; he just wants a bigger opportunity.

Who could blame the Richmond native? Certainly not me.

Bamisile has every right to look elsewhere to better himself and his professional prospects. And given that he's been class personified since committing to the Hokies in July 2019, he should be given the benefit of the doubt. I wish him nothing but the best.

That doesn't mean I'm happy about this.

Bamisile would have found himself in a crowded backcourt next season with the return of Tyrece Radford, Nahiem Alleyne, Darius Maddox, Jalen Cone and Hunter Cattoor. Oh, and don't forget the additions of Wofford transfer Storm Murphy and incoming freshman Sean Pedulla.

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