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Forget The Record; Mullins and Mancini Make O's Fans Smile

The Baltimore Orioles are bad. I know this, you know this, heck, even Maggie The WonderBeagle knows this.

But for just two days, the Orioles’ struggles were outdone by their excellence. More specifically, the excellence of Trey Mancini and Cedric Mullins.

At 28-61, the Orioles’ ineptitude has somewhat covered up the individual greatness that we’re seeing from Mancini and Mullins. But that all changed in Denver at the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game.

Let’s start with Mullins, the former 13th-round draft pick who was demoted to Double-A in 2019. All Mullins has done is turn himself into one of the best center fielders in baseball, hitting 16 home runs, totaling a first-half OPS of .921 and playing elite defense in center field.

Mullins wasn’t voted in as a starter, but with Mike Trout still on the mend, Mullins got the nod in center. And nobody deserved it more.

Seeing an Orioles’ All-Star there because he earned it, not because Major League Baseball requires that all 30 teams be represented, was a beautiful sight for sore eyes. Mullins would reach on a hit later ruled as an error, and score a run in the American League’s 5-2 victory.

As great as it was seeing Mullins be recognized for his stellar first half, Mancini stole the weekend.

Mancini kicked off the Home Run Derby in dramatic fashion, knocking off well-known slugger Matt Olson in the opening round before beating hometown favorite Trevor Story in the semifinals. Mancini ultimately fell to Derby animal Pete Alonso, but not before Mancini slugged another 22 home runs.

In all, Mancini deposited 59 baseballs over the Coors Field fences. He outpaced everyone’s expectations, maybe even his own.

Remember that just a year ago, Mancini had two more months of chemotherapy treatments waiting in the wings. Within a year, Mancini is not only playing baseball every day, he’s shining on the world stage. Not only did Mullins acknowledge his teammate’s incredible comeback during the All-Star Game, so did Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Maybe the best part of it all was seeing that Sara Perlman, an NBC Sports on-air personality, was there to witness it all. Perlman happens to be Mancini’s girlfriend, and not only has Perlman supported Mancini through all of this, she practically took care of Mancini during the COVID-19 shutdowns.

As much of an angel as Mancini is, Perlman is just as much so. Seeing the above photo of Mancini and Perlman sharing that moment together is enough to shed more than a few tears.

There are two faces of the Orioles’ franchise and the organization couldn’t be luckier to have both of them. Orioles fans have known just how amazing these men are for quite a while now.

After the last two days in Denver, the world now knows it too.

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Sunday, 29 January 2023

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