Oriole fans do have much to be thankful about. This past week, the addition of Mike Elias as the team’s new executive vice president and general manager, and his first hire — Sig Mejdal, to run the fledgling analytics department — were met with acclaim from a restive fan base.
While this past year has been difficult, on this wonderful holiday, let’s take a few moments to thank the Orioles who won’t be returning next year.
Manny Machado gave Oriole fans great thrills with his wondrous play at third base and his strong offensive showing. Most knew he wasn’t going to be an Oriole for the long-term, but watching this generational talent was fun while it lasted.
Be thankful for Machado’s buddy, Jonathan Schoop, who was the team’s most valuable player in 2017 and the Orioles’ only All-Star. Unfortunately, Schoop’s new fans in Milwaukee didn’t get to see the real Schoop. Those Machado-Schoop handshakes were pretty cool.
Another former Oriole to be thankful for is Kevin Gausman, who despite teasing the fans with some excellent pitching performances for six seasons, never pitched consistently well. Gausman was always thoughtful and often funny and is definitely missed.
There was reason to be thankful for Darren O’Day, who was traded along with Gausman in a salary dump. From 2012-15, O’Day put together four consistent seasons in the bullpen and in his Orioles career went 28-14 with a 2.40 ERA.
Gausman, O’Day and Brad Brach, the classy right-handed reliever, ended up in Atlanta, and Brach gave Oriole fans reason to be thankful when he made the All-Star team in 2016 as an excellent middle reliever. We never had to look hard to find Brach on those rare occasions when he had a rough outing. He was always there, never making excuses.
Oriole fans are thankful for Zach Britton, who had the season of a lifetime in 2016 and is ready to cash in on the free-agent market. Britton, too, was always thoughtful and available, and also one never to make excuses.
They are thankful for Adam Jones, whose excellent play and community involvement make him one of the most popular players in Baltimore history. Fans are also thankful that Jones vetoed a trade that would have sent him to Philadelphia in late July and they got a chance to thank him personally on the season’s last day.
They didn’t get a chance to thank Buck Showalter, but that’s the way he wanted it. Buck wanted Jones to have his last day with the Orioles in the spotlight. Fans got to thank Showalter when he returned for his charity race in late October, and he returned the favor by writing a well-received letter to fans on these pages.
Oriole fans are thankful for Cedric Mullins, who replaced Jones in center field and, in his major league debut, led the team on to the field.
They’re thankful for first base coach Wayne Kirby, who entertained fans with his banter and by tossing balls to fans.
They’re thankful for Caleb Joseph, outspoken and devoted to his craft and to his team.
I’m thankful for the readers who welcomed me warmly to BaltimoreBaseball.com, when Dan Connolly left the site for The Athletic at the All-Star break.
I’m especially thankful for Steve Cockey, our publisher, and Jack Gibbons, longtime sports editor at The Sun.
This week was full of reminders of the team’s irreplaceable part of Baltimore. Despite the horrible 2018 season, there’s a pent-up affection for the team, and hope that a new day is coming soon.
Oriole fans were reminded at the introduction of Elias, who hit all the right notes, of what helped bring him to Baltimore. Elias grew up in Northern Virginia at a time when there wasn’t a major league team in Washington, and he regularly made the trek to Baltimore to see Camden Yards when it was new and filled regularly.
Fans are thankful to have that gem of a ballpark and hope that in the not-too-distant future, under Elias’ guidance, it will once again be filled regularly with a team that’s once again worthy of the grand venue.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.