Baltimore Orioles: More Chance Sisco in 2018?

The Baltimore Orioles brought Chance Sisco to the big leagues as a September call-up this year. And the results were very favorable for the young catcher. Sisco hit .333 in 18 at-bats with two homers, four RBI, and an OBP of .455.

The Orioles of course let Matt Wieters walk after last season, and he ended up in Washington. They then signed Welington Castillo, who was this year’s starting catcher. To be clear, Castillo had a solid season and for the most part was good for the Orioles behind the plate. And that’s part of the reason why he’s expected to turn down his $7 million option and become a free agent.

So this opens the door for Sisco in a sense. He didn’t come up with the fanfare that Wieters did, however he’s been a prospect about whom the Orioles have been excited for some time. In ten games behind the plate at the big league level, he turned in a perfect fielding percentage.

The question is whether or not this is the time to fully commit to Sisco as a full-fledge Oriole as opposed to just a prospect. I’d be curious to know how much (if at all) that decision lies with Castillo. Would the Orioles go with the hand of experience if they could get Castillo back cheaply? I suspect they would. You’d prefer not to have to go through on-the-job-training, even with a hot prospect.

But having Sisco waiting in the wings also them options. If Castillo ends up elsewhere, Sisco could easily find himself splitting catching duties with Caleb Joseph. Only time will tell.


Baltimore Orioles: Role reversal in the Fall Classic

Many Baltimore Orioles fans are probably waking up this morning happy to see that the hated New York Yankees have been bounced from the post season. They were defeated last night by the score of 4-0 in Game 7 of the ALCS. The Houston Astros will now advance to the World Series to represent the American League against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

I do find a bit of irony in this matchup, as it’s two teams who seemingly stand for the inverse of what their league is all about. When I think of small ball, I think of National League clubs. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t exist in the American League, because it very much does. Cleveland, Minnesota, Kansas City, and yes Houston all play their share of small ball. And for the record, this is the fourth consecutive year that a small ball team will represent the American League in the World Series.

Los Angeles on the other hand is a power-hitting club. Again, that isn’t to say that there aren’t other teams who rely on power in the National League. The Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals both win games by hitting a lot of home runs. Chicks dig the long ball, as they say.

But for the most part small ball is the National League’s game, and power that of the American League. And that’s in essence done by design. The National League forces pitchers to hit, which incidentally is something I support. I’d love to see the DH struck from the game across-the-board. (I also know that’s not happening anytime soon.) So with all of the strategy that comes with that, it’s natural that small ball would rule the day in the NL.

It’s also natural that in the absence of that strategy in the American League, it would be more based on power. The American sports fan yearns for the big play. Whether it’s a big touchdown, a slam dunk, or in this case the home run ball. It puts people in the seats, and keeps them cheering.

Small ball will once again meet power in this year’s fall classic. Each side will just be represented differently than one might have otherwise expected.

Baltimore Orioles: Dusty Baker deserved better down the pike

When I think of Baltimore Orioles’ opponents, few were as classy as Dusty Baker down I-95 in Washington DC. Similar to Buck Showalter, Baker was an accomplished baseball man who managed the game the right way. And again, he was about as classy a competitor as you’re going to see.

His contract was up after this year, and Washington made no attempts to re-sign him. In fact, I would argue that they made it well understood that he’d be “taken care of” after the season. Now that after the season is here, Washington announced that they would not be retaining Baker.

Dusty Baker won that team two consecutive division titles. That’s unprecedented in the history of that franchise. After those accomplishments, you don’t treat someone like Baker like that. I’m sorry, you just don’t.

And I’m not talking from a baseball perspective. I’m talking as a guy who watched his father and grandfather manage people from a young age. They always treated their employees like family. And that comes off as the exact opposite from how the Nationals did Dusty Baker yesterday. And in reality for much of the season.

That comment above, you just don’t treat someone like that, is kind of what rings in my head when I think of this situation. Many want to say that Baker could have handled situations in the NLDS games – who knows maybe he could have. Others say that the team was so good that anyone could manage them. Again, maybe they could.

But it’s not about that. It’s about how managers treat their employees. And in my view Dusty Baker the employee was done wrong.

Baltimore Orioles: Do buying and selling no longer truly exist?

The Baltimore Orioles technically were buyers at the trade deadline this past year. They have been since 2012. Mind you that in 2011 they “sold,” and ended up with the likes of Davis on the team. That trade kind of worked out.

However in the past few seasons it’s seemed that the line between buying and selling has blurred just a bit. In the past, a buyer would acquire a piece in the form of a player that’s well established at the big league level who can help them. In exchange, the seller would get a hot prospect or two which of course would help them in the future. Selling was considered waving the white flag – on that season, at least.

And I suspect that it still is. However if you use the 2016 New York Yankees as an example, they had a tough first half. Then at the deadline they decided to sell. And they did so en masse. They ended up with guys like Judge among others. Again, that trade kind of worked out.

And almost immediately, they began to win. The prospects they got in return for their players seemingly performed on the big stage right away. And by extension, many of the New York veterans who were still on the team performed better. New York made a run at the playoffs last year at the end, and of course are now one game from the World Series.

But is this an anomaly? Or a trend? It’s really tough to say. A lot of people point to that and say that the O’s should have sold this year. I’ve never really considered that selling and in essence purchasing young talent could make you an immediate contender. Usually that talent either stays in the minors a couple of years before coming the the big leagues, or comes to the big leagues immediately and has to learn on the job.

Moving forward it’ll be interesting to see if in fact this type of trend continues. Time will tell.

Baltimore Orioles: What’s the responsibility to the customer?

The Baltimore Orioles, MLB, and the rest of the sports world are avidly watching the NFL and what’s going on with the anthem protests. This isn’t so much about whether one should stand for the anthem anymore, however. It’s now entered an entirely new realm.

The NFL said this week that their “stance” is that they encourage and want all players to stand for the National Anthem, however it’s not required. Basically, you won’t be disciplined if you don’t. On one hand you have some players arguing that it’s a civil rights issue and so forth. And on the other hand you have fans (paying customers) who are disgusted by the entire thing.

The fact is that NFL ratings are down once again this year – supposedly by approximately 7.5%. When networks and sponsors are paying as much as they are for coverage and exposure, that’s a lot. We can’t be sure that the anthem protests are the reason for all of that, but it’s safe to say that some of it is due to that. However I’m not sure that the number of eyeballs watching is necessarily that different. Sports bars now shoe every game, and people can stream games online. That might attest for some of it as well.

However, where’s the line of justice in all of this? Again, MLB should be watching this intently. One player opted to take a knee before the season ended in September, but this is an issue that might become more prevalent next year for all they know. And in effect, both sides kind of remain at an impasse.

Many people try to liken this to slavery, in that they feel that owners (most of whom are older white gentlemen) are trying to claim that because they pay these players lots of money they can tell them how to behave and so forth. The slavery comparison is out of line – let me just say that up front. However, the fact is that any employer can basically dictate what their employees’ behavior is expected to be while they’re on the clock. And these players are very much employees on the clock during the National Anthem.

This of course comes with the caveat of within reason. Your employer can’t ask you to break the law or anything along those lines. However if the NFL or an individual owner sees that their customers are bothered by players (employees) taking a knee during the anthem, the fact is that they do have a right to in that instance tell players they’re expected to stand. As would MLB.

And the fact is that employers do things like this all the time. Things which could in theory border on infringing on people’s personal liberty. There are companies out there who forbid their employees to smoke. Not you can’t smoke during work hours, or you can’t smoke on company property. But literally you aren’t allowed to be employed there and be a smoker – even on your own personal time.

I see that as worse than dictating what behavior is expected on the job. That’s literally dictating someone’s life outside of work. And yes, people have been fired for these types of transgressions. But I digress. Should the NFL and perhaps other leagues infringe on the personal liberties of it’s employees? Should they appease their customers at all costs? Again, the sides remain at an impasse.

Baltimore Orioles: Devoid of the “clutch gene” in 2017?

Manny Machado had his share of clutch moments for the 2017 Baltimore Orioles. And there were plenty of others as well. Look back to Opening Day and you’ll see Mark Trumbo hitting a walk off homer to beat Toronto. That’s a big spot and it’s obviously as clutch as it gets.

But also look to last night’s ALCS game where New York came from four runs down late to defeat Houston. You have Judge of course hitting a home run, and New York proceeding to bat around in the following inning. Can we say that something like this never happened to the 2017 O’s? Of course not. But it sure seeed that the times it happened were few and far between.

So how did this clutch gene seemingly land in New York? Perhaps the better question is how does it seemingly always seem to land in New York – over the generations? That’s really tough to say. This is a New York team that knows they’re playing on borrowed time in a sense. They weren’t supposed to be this good this quickly.

And in a sense, they’re soaking in the experience of playing at the level at which they are. And perhaps that’s relaxing them to the point of playing the way that they are. Instead, the Orioles felt the pressure almost from day one. And at a certain point it took it’s toll.

However keep in mind that Judge is a hitter that’s probably similar to the likes of Davis and Trumbo. He’s predictable in the sense that he swings at anything and everything. Right now his bat is catching everything, making people think he’s the begin all end all of hitting. But keep in mind that he had a secon half swoon as well where his bat wasn’t catching anything.

And that’s perhaps part of the story of the 2017 O’s. They were constantly predictable in the sense that teams knew they were going up to the plate hacking. So at some point they’d employ a small wrinkle in their game plan, perhaps as small as late movement one way or the other on a pitch. And being predictable, the Orioles couldn’t adjust.

And that’s part of why they couldn’t seem to get that clutch gene going. Will that change in 2018? It’s going to have to.

Baltimore Orioles: Playoff games are in fact longer

The Baltimore Orioles have been in the post season of late enough for fans to know that post season games are longer. And that’s literally a fact, not so much because of how the games unfold, but because of the between-innings clock. During the regular season teams have two minutes and thirty seconds between innings. In the post season it lengthens to just under three minutes.

But that’s not uncommon. Commercial breaks are longer for Sunday or Monday night football than they are for a regular Sunday, 1 PM NFL game telecast. The same is true with Sunday Night Baseball. It’s more of a national television thing than anything else.

Having said that, the fact is that post season games unfold differently than do regular season games. If a starter doesn’t have it early, he’s probably pulled in the second or perhaps even the first inning. We don’t see this same sense of urgency in the regular season, nor should we (for the most part). Dropping one game isn’t going to do you in. It could in the playoffs.

And the other ironic part is that we don’t see too many people complaining about the length of games in the playoffs. Post season baseball is one of the most compelling things in sports. And that’s mainly because of the fact that the games do unfold with much more of a sense of urgency.

The NFL playoffs have that same sense of urgency because its one and done. However in general games aren’t played differently than they are in the regular season. Maybe the end of games might vary slightly if it’s close, but for the most part football is football.

Again, nobody really complains about the length of the games in the MLB playoffs. One thing that does get covered ad hoc is the start times of the games. Two NLDS games this week are beginning at 9 PM eastern time. I’m the first one to tell you that’s way too late.

How can MLB expect kids to stay up and watch those games if they’re starting so late? And if the games are lasting four hours in general, how can they expect anyone to stay up and watch them? Find another way; start the games earlier – for the kids’ sake!