Remembering the forgettable 2018 Orioles season - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Remembering the forgettable 2018 Orioles season

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

As we say goodbye to the most forgettable season in Orioles history, let’s look back at some memorable days and quotes in the year that’s nearing its end.

January 27-The Baltimore Convention Center

Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop were no-shows at the Orioles’ FanFest, leaving Adam Jones to speak for the team. Machado and Schoop had pending arbitration cases, which were settled, and Chris Davis was excused because his wife just had twins.

Jones talked about his impending free agency.

“It’s not about money, it’s about winning,” he said. “If I’m in a winning environment, I’ll be happy. If I’m not, I won’t be happy.”

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March 21-Sarasota, Fla.

A week before the season began, the Orioles completed their starting rotation by signing Alex Cobb to a four-year, $57-million contract. Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman saw the Orioles sign Cobb, Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman during spring training, raising hopes in Baltimore.

“They didn’t stop bothering me the whole offseason,” Cobb said. “They were very persistent, and I think that you notice that confidence they have in you just by the way they speak to you, and the questions you ask and not questioning anything that’s gone on.”

March 29-Baltimore

It’s hard to remember, but Jones ended Opening Day with a home run to give the Orioles a 3-2 win in 11 innings. Their 1-0 record was the only time they’d have a winning record in 2018.

Jones wasn’t in the mood to talk about the future then.

“Who knows, but I’m here now and it’s awesome,” Jones said.

June 28-Annapolis 

During the early innings of an Orioles loss to Seattle, word reached the press box that there had been a shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis.

Later that night, it was confirmed that five were killed, including John McNamara, a longtime sports reporter who had been a press box visitor just a few weeks before.

To honor the memories of those killed, the Orioles placed flowers at the Capital Gazette’s seat, which is next to mine, the next night.

July 16-Washington 

The Orioles’ first half was a mess, and Machado was the Orioles’ only All-Star. The day before, Machado was pulled from the game after a brief rain delay because the team didn’t want their most valuable trade piece to be injured.

At Nationals Park, where the All-Star Game was held, Machado fielded question after question about the trade talk. 

“It crosses my mind all the time. I might stay here all year,” Machado said. “It’s a possibility. I would love that. I wouldn’t have to move … but you’ve got to be realistic.” 

July 18-Baltimore

The day after the All-Star Game, Machado is traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Dan Duquette, the Orioles’ top decision-maker, says there’s more to come.

“Today is the start of the rebuilding process,” Duquette said. “We aim to retool our roster and get our organization back to the competitive stature that we’ve been used to.”

July 20-Toronto

The first day of the post-Machado era begins with Tim Beckham at shortstop and Jonathan Schoop without his best baseball friend.

“You know it’s going to happen,” Schoop said. “When it happened, it’s real. In the back of your mind, you know it’s going to happen. I’m ready for it, but when it happened, you’re not ready for it because it’s real. Every thought. Like today, I ride [by] myself. I ride [by] myself to the field. Normally, it’s me and him. In the clubhouse, you always see me with him.”

July 31-New York

Duquette traded Zach Britton to the Yankees and Brad Brach to Atlanta. When Jones invoked his no-trade clause, vetoing a trade to Philadelphia, there was some thought the Orioles were done dealing, but just minutes before the deadline, Schoop was sent to Milwaukee, and Gausman and Darren O’Day to Atlanta.

“I feel like, to be honest, in my time here, I don’t feel like I pitched to my abilities,” Gausman said. “It’s unfortunate to say that. I really feel like I had [only] two years here where I was [pitching] to the best of my ability.”

August 2-Arlington, Texas

In the eighth inning of a lopsided loss to the Texas Rangers, manager Buck Showalter ran out of relief pitchers and turned to infielder Danny Valencia to complete the game.

Valencia struck out his only batter, Joey Gallo, and strutted off the mound as if he had saved a crucial September game.

I was definitely not going 100 percent today,” Valencia said. “There’s definitely more in the tank. Today, I was probably pitching around 80 percent.”

Eight days later, Valencia was cut.

September 30-Baltimore

The last day of the season ends with Jones playing an inning in center field and seven innings in right. Showalter removes him as the ninth inning is about to begin to a thunderous ovation.

“I’m going to this really excited because I’ve never been flirted with,” Jones said about free agency. “So I want to see if I can be flirted with a little.

“It’s been a great run here, a great tenure here. Hopefully, we’ll go somewhere and see what the next chapter in my career has [in store].”

October 27-Baltimore

Three weeks after he and Duquette were dismissed, Showalter returned to Baltimore to pack up his house and host the annual run to benefit KidsPeace, an organization that promotes foster care.

He explained why he didn’t acknowledge the fans on the final day of the season when he knew he wouldn’t return.

“I thought it was Adam’s day,” Showalter said. “I really did. I made sure it was all about Adam.”

November 19-Baltimore

After a six-week search, John and Louis Angelos make a rare public appearance to introduce Mike Elias as executive vice president and general manager.

“The plan is simple,” Elias said. “We’re going to build an elite talent pipeline that’s going to extend from the lowest realm of our minor league ladder … all the way up to Triple-A and up to the major league roster in Baltimore.”

December 11-Las Vegas

Elias had been able to keep his managerial search quiet until he reached the Winter Meetings. During an uncomfortable meeting with Baltimore media, news that Brandon Hyde had been selected as the Orioles’ manager was denied by Elias even as reports of his hiring were shown on the television a few feet away.

Elias ended the session with a quip.

“I’ll turn the TV off next time, huh?”

December 17-Baltimore

The day after the Winter Meetings, Hyde’s hiring was announced, and sitting in the front row was Brooks Robinson, exciting the organization’s 20th manager. Robinson is perhaps the only person who knew the previous 19.

“I grew up a baseball rat that knew history, knew tradition and to be around history and to be involved in a city like Baltimore is a dream come true,” Hyde said.

27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Bhoffman1

    December 31, 2018 at 9:13 am

    You should have posted Chris Davis had just about the worst stats ever for a regular Major league hitter. Plus he got played upwards of 20 million for that. I feel he is being let off to easy and unless there is a major change I don’t expect anything different in 2019. Also Adams quote he just wants to play for a winner. Well he had the chance to go to a winner he decided to stay with a loser. Adam seems like a real good guy but many of his quotes show he’s not the brightest star in the galaxy. As for Gausman I know you won’t agree with this but I blame Bucky for his lack of success here. He will be a ace in Atlanta. On a good note the hiring of Elias and Hyde gets four stars for the Angelos brothers.

    • Paul Folkemer

      December 31, 2018 at 9:55 am

      Anyone who says Jones is “not the brightest star in the galaxy” clearly doesn’t know much about the man. He’s one of the most intelligent, insightful athletes I’ve ever covered, which he proved repeatedly during his 11 years in Baltimore with his thoughtful comments on a variety of baseball-related — and non baseball-related — topics.

      Jones’ comment about wanting to play for a winner was in reference to his free agency. Agreeing to a midseason trade is a different issue. He had his reasons for declining the trade, but that doesn’t mean he’s not serious about signing with a winning team as a free agent.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 31, 2018 at 9:56 am

      Happy New Year, Bhoffman. I considered using a Davis quote, but I’ve written plenty about his awful 2018 and will write more. Most of the players I quoted, except for Cobb, are already gone. I focused around noteworthy quotes, and those were the ones that stuck out to me.

    • PA Bird Lover

      December 31, 2018 at 12:01 pm

      Bhoffman, your brightest star comment was uncalled for. Adam was here working his butt off through seasons that mostly all resembled themselves. He proved his metal by doing more than most people for city kids. I’m hoping the O’s re-sign him to be a mentor to our new kids who most probably never held a razor in their hand.

      • Rich Dubroff

        December 31, 2018 at 12:22 pm

        PA, I wouldn’t bet on Adam Jones coming back–not with his no-trade clause.

    • PA Bird Lover

      December 31, 2018 at 5:25 pm

      Rich, I’m taking your advice. I won’t, because I too believe they won’t sign, him unless he’s the only one left up on the board and would sign elCheapo.

    • Bhoffman1

      January 1, 2019 at 8:41 am

      Some of Adams quotes like tipping his hat to the other team when they played better bother me. He had a lot of talent but if he was as smart as you say he could have made himself a more disciplined hitter not going after those outside balls in the dirt his whole carrier here. In my opinion his stats were misleading as he was a terrible clutch player and a terrible post season player. Now he may be a great guy with kids but this game is played on the field not off it. No way will Elias bring him back.

      • Paul Folkemer

        January 1, 2019 at 9:34 am

        “Tipping your hat” is something that probably 99% of players and coaches have said at some point. It’s pretty common to give credit to the other team when they win.

        Jones’ plate discipline (or lack thereof) has nothing to do with intelligence. It’s a skill, and different players just have different skills. That’s like saying Joey Rickard isn’t smart enough to hit 30 home runs a year.

  2. bobbymac824

    December 31, 2018 at 9:45 am

    Nice recap Rich! It was an ugly denouement, but things can turn around in a hurry (or not). At least we seem to have a new plan and direction.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 31, 2018 at 11:15 am

      Happy New Year, bobby. Hopefully a year from now, there will be more interesting things to write about.

  3. boss61

    December 31, 2018 at 10:35 am

    I missed your work over the last week Rich and hope you had a nice holiday.

    Over the holidays I picked up the book “Astroball” – Chapter One is about Sig Mejdal. The book should be required reading for an O’s fan – it offers such insight into why Elias and his assistants were selected and offers hope for the future.

    Happy New Year!

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 31, 2018 at 11:17 am

      Thank you, Mark. After the 2018 season, I needed a break! Our publisher, Steve Cockey, wrote a brief review about “Astroball,” in a piece about baseball books here a few weeks ago.

      Happy New Year.

    • mlbbirdfan

      December 31, 2018 at 11:20 am

      I am reading “AstroBall“ too. It is a brilliant capture of the Houston rise from the absolute bottom to the absolute pinnacle of major league baseball. Hopefully, also a perfect forecast for US. Elias, Mejdal (pronounced My Dell) and the selection of a young manager with catching experience, player development, willingness to partner with the Front Office, ability to use both statistics and interpersonal skills. It’s all there. Every True Orioles fan will want to read this book !

      • Rich Dubroff

        December 31, 2018 at 12:23 pm

        mlbbirdfan, you’re making me want to read it. (I read an excerpt in Sports Illustrated).

    • Bhoffman1

      January 1, 2019 at 4:01 pm

      The more I hear about Elias, Medjal and Hyde it makes me feel good about rebuilding this team and organization

  4. cedar

    December 31, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    What I find most interesting about this recap, and maybe it’s because of the quotes you chose, is that while the players saw the ship sinking they still said all the “right” things about playing elsewhere, friends being traded, being disappointed at their own play. No one chose to point a finger at someone else.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 31, 2018 at 12:24 pm

      cedar, there wasn’t finger pointing. I chose those because they were the best ones.

  5. Orial

    December 31, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    To me one trait stands out concerning the O’s play of 2018–SLOPPY. Both mentally and physically. Tighten up the defense,run the bases smartly,play on your toes NOT your heels. They may and Probably will lose 100 games again but look sharp doing it(is that possible?) Let 2018 be a learning experience. Fortunately many on that squad are gone. Happy New Year Rich,Paul,and everybody on this site.

    • cedar

      December 31, 2018 at 3:03 pm

      Orial, I agree with your line of thinking for 2019 – tighten up the defense, run smart, master the fundamentals of the game. I look forward to watching the hungry players play themselves onto the team.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 31, 2018 at 9:29 pm

      Thank you, Orial.

  6. SpinMaster

    December 31, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    Rich: It is always sad to read about Jonathan Schoop’s parting with Manny. It seems like destiny has played out for Jonathan since he has signed on with the Twins and his mentor and buddy from the 2014 Orioles, Nelson Cruz has signed with the Twins as well. I hope that has put the smile back on Jonathan’s face.
    I concur with others and wish all the great writers and staff of BaltimoreBaseball.com the happiest and safe New Years.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 31, 2018 at 9:30 pm

      Thank you, Spin!

  7. ClyOs

    December 31, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    And if we are forgetting, let’s forget Colby Rasmus, Pedro Alvarez, Craig Gentry, and Mike Wright. Goodbye 2018 and good riddance.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 31, 2018 at 9:31 pm

      Happy New Year, Clyos.

    • Bhoffman1

      January 1, 2019 at 3:55 pm

      Is Mike Wright spelled wrong no longer a part of this organization. I hope so.

    • Bhoffman1

      January 1, 2019 at 3:58 pm

      Pedro Alvarez was a good guy going from a all star to Buckys Norfolk shuffle and never complaining.

    • Raymo

      January 1, 2019 at 5:46 pm

      Mike Wright is still on the 40 man roster.

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