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The Baltimore Orioles celebrate a dinger
Homer hose? Homer hose. Homer hose is fun!
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Know Your Enemy: Baltimore Orioles

Feisty and fun, how a rebuild should be

Young. Hungry. Having a lot of fun. Charming baseball with their talent and their insouciant ways. Am I talking about the 2020 White Sox? No — why would I be doing that? I am talking about the Orioles, the team we are playing! But there are similarities between the long and difficult Baltimore rebuild and where the White Sox were lo those years ago?

Will it turn out the same? Well, the universe bends toward its own destruction, so probably. But for now, the Orioles are sort of the darlings of baseball. It should be a fun series.

The Sox are 1,029-909 against the Orioles overall, with a playoff loss in 1983. That one still stings!

So How Are They Doing, Anyway?

This happened right as I started writing this, on Thursday: The O’s, who have guys who can hit the stuffing out of the ball, walked off Oakland (OK, fine) to win, 8-7, and go a game over .500. They’re second in the AL in slugging and third in OPS, with an OPS+ of 114.

The pitching has been brutal, giving up runs with the rapidity of the White Sox, which makes every game fun. The O’s are going to score some runs, and they’re going to give some up. Every game of theirs has seemed to be an exciting see-saw, a punchy back-and-forth, and the fans are here for it. The team is loose and talented, and while they still might be in the gangling, awkward, and exuberant puppy-dog phase, you can see them becoming beasts.

This is not meant as a comparison to any other rebuild, by god it isn’t!

Any Hitters to Worry About? Should I Worry About Dingers?

What did I say above? I said they have some mashers on the team who are hungry for taters! And while I admit that’s sort of a potato-based spongiform encephalitis generating metaphor, the point is that the Birds can hit.

Adley Ruschmann hits the ball a ton. He’s currently got a 201 OPS+, which probably isn’t sustainable, but still. Ryan Mountcastle is turning into a stud. Ced Mullins is still reaching for his 2021 high, but he’s still a dangerous hitter. Really, this is a lineup that could slump, but right now is hitting just ahead of their pitching. They are dangerous.

And the Pitching Matchups? What of Them?

Your guess is as good as mine, to be honest. These teams give up a lot of runs, with the O’s bullpen being particularly brutal. So if you like runs, this could be a fun series for you.

Friday, April 14
Sox: SP4 (2-0, 3.48)

Orioles: Tyler Wells (0-1, 3.27) A great start against Texas was followed by a rough one against the Yankees, with a couple of dingers leading to a four-spot. He’s not a big K guy, but also hasn’t walked anyone over 11 innings this year.

Saturday, April 15
Sox: Michael Kopech (0-2, 6.75). A horrifying first start was followed by a much more solid outing against the Pirates. Velo is still down, and it might be time to be nervous.

Orioles: Kyle Gibson (3-0, 3.44) Another low strikeout, low-walk sort of pitcher. If the Sox are patient they should be able to put some barrels on balls.

Sunday, April 16
Sox: Dylan Cease (2-0, 1.65). Dylan hasn’t been terribly efficient in the last two starts, getting deep in counts and not deep in games, though a lot of that has been defensive errors. But he gets it done. That just might be the pitcher he is.

Orioles: Grayson Rodriguez (0-0, 6.75) One of the O’s top prospects, Grayson has struggled a bit since coming up, but he’s a key to their rebuild so hopefully they’ll give him some time to learn.

Why Do We Hate the Orioles?

In what seems to be a recurring theme, the O’s are run by an arrogant, tight-fisted failson who thinks that the city owes him nothing but gratitude for bequeathing his business sense upon them. He famously said he’d release the team’s financials to show how poor and struggling his little inheritance was, and has been continually outraged since that reporters would ask him to actually do so. Like most of this country’s wealthy parasites, he assumed that the act of merely saying he would do something good should be enough, and that any follow-up is some kind of incomprehensible nuisance.

They have been shamelessly tanking for longer than the White Sox, and if it works out in Baltimore it will be a cosmic reward for a singularly unappealing way of doing business. If nothing else, it will make a very rich man even richer, which is why we watch the game.

Also, Cal Ripken Jr.’s streak was overrated and it has never been proven that staying in games helped the team more than hurt it, and he became an excuse for every old sportswriter to talk dysphemistically about a “disappearing work ethic.”

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