After an abysmal start to the season, a 3-1 series in the Bronx is enough to make me forgive the Orioles for salvaging just a single game from their home series against the Blue Jays. The O’s played (and won!) exciting extra-inning games, and got impressive starts from the rotation – even if the lineup didn’t always cooperate. Things are looking up, but I’ll feel a lot better when the offense is not on a nightly No-Hit-Watch.
Man oh man, oh Manny!
The things that Manny Machado can do on the baseball field are unfair. And they are a hell of a lot of fun to watch. As I said on this week’s Bird’s Eye View, I expect that Manny will go from being a Top 3 third baseman in the game to a very, very good shortstop. I have been preaching that we should understand that there will be some drop off, but that we still like what we see out there.
Well, I don’t know if that prediction will pan out or not, but I can tell you this – I liked what I saw on Thursday’s game. A lot.
That play was all kinds of impressive, but I have one minor quibble: stop comparing it to Jeter. Derek Jeter didn’t have half the arm strength Manny has. In order to generate the torque necessary for a throw that deep, Jeter had to to his patented pirouette. Manny slung it over there and made it look effortless.
Full disclosure: last year, I could have walked right into Richard Bleier, and not known who the heck he was.
Further disclosure: that might still be the case.
That aside, Richard Bleier has put some impressive innings together this past week, and filled a role the Orioles have desperately needed. Bleier is the type of guy who doesn’t do any one thing superbly, but quietly does everything better than you’d expect. He can get lefties. He can get righties. He can come in for one batter. He can go multiple innings. He can come in night after night. Give him enough time, and he’ll make Julian fries.
We’re not the only ones who have noticed. ESPN has shown Bleier some love, but admittedly, they think he’s kind of a Dick.
Still not sold on Richard Bleier? I’m not going to try to sell you on his stats this week. Instead, I’m going to tell you to watch him talk about his game. A guy who wants to beat the Yankees is a guy I can root for. A guy who has a personal vendetta against the Yankees, to prove them wrong for DFAing him? That’s a guy I’ll root for hard.
Two Annoying Things About Playing Toronto
- I don’t know why Kevin Pillar annoys me so much, but he does. He gets to everything out in center field. Everything. There are some players (Kevin Kiermaier is a good example) where you just know he’s an excellent defender, you tip your cap, and you don’t mind when you get beat. Pillar doesn’t fit that bill for me, for some reason. I can’t stand watching him take outs from the Orioles. And he does. Because he’s freaking good, and it’s annoying.
- Watching Steve Pearce do well against the Orioles hurts. Some fan favorites, I haven’t minded watching elsewhere. I have nothing but love for Nelson Cruz, and when he hits well against the O’s, I smile and fondly remember the time he did it for us. Steve Pearce is a different story. He’s a guy I miss when I see Colby Rasmus in the lineup. Every time he burns us, I hope for one of those patented mid-season trades to bring him back to Baltimore. I DON’T CARE THAT HE’S NOT THAT GOOD, I WILL ALWAYS BE TEAM STEVE.
There as a time when I beat the attendance drum pretty hard. From 2012 to 2016, I couldn’t stand seeing empty seats at Camden Yards, when the team was doing everything right on the field. The Birds had to resort to throwback pricing in September to get fans in the seats for the Buckle Up Birds season… I’ll never understand it. By last year, I figured that the team deserved every bit of apathy that the fans gave them. A poor 2017 season and an “uninspired” offseason caused a drop in season ticket sales, and so we’re treated to scenes like this week, where the O’s struggled to get 10,000 people in the park.
Forget that kids are still in school. Don’t worry about the performance during the first week. People aren’t going to Orioles games yet because it is downright unpleasant out there. Talk to me in late June if you want to read something into attendance. Maybe I’ll feel the same as last year. Maybe I’ll feel that the Orioles are reaping what they sowed in the offseason. Or maybe I’ll feel like fans are missing out on their last chance to watch Manny Things in orange-and-black, as the team stays in contention (against all odds).
But for now, give it a rest. 7,915 sounds terrible. But watching baseball in 30-degree gusty weather sounds worse.
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