Ravens fever everywhere; Astros under attack; Last season for Frederick? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Ravens fever everywhere; Astros under attack; Last season for Frederick?

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

Everywhere you go in Baltimore, the talk is about Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. Orioles talk is muted, and besides, it’s more fun to talk about a winner.

Since the 1999 season, the Ravens’ fourth in Baltimore, they’ve had just four losing seasons. During that time, the Orioles have had just four winning ones.

Jackson is by far the most popular athlete in town, and if he continues his brilliant play, he could be one of the most acclaimed Baltimore sports figures in history.

The Orioles have a long way to go to catch up.

As much as fun as the Ravens’ season has been, having a successful Orioles season would make life more enjoyable for Baltimore sports fans.

It’s actually possible to have two winning teams concurrently. In 2012, the Orioles broke their string of 14 losing seasons with a win in the American League wild-card game and a narrow loss in five games to the New York Yankees in the Division Series.

That year, the Ravens went on a late-season roll, beating the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game and the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.

As well as the Ravens are playing, it seems entirely possible, and perhaps likely, that they’ll play in the Super Bowl for the third time, on February 2 in Miami.

For many Oriole fans, who were pained when the Nationals won their first World Series last month, a Ravens Super Bowl win would take away that pain, especially since the Redskins are having as difficult a season as the Orioles had.

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There’ll be plenty of time to fantasize about the Super Bowl over the next two months, but Oriole fans can hope that in a few years their team will have its turn.

The Ravens have played in four AFC Championship Games, all on the road, and their Super Bowls have been in Tampa and New Orleans. Many season ticket-holders eager to attend the game aren’t fortunate to be chosen in a lottery and others find the trip on short notice to be pricey.

Baseball’s postseason is played at home and not at neutral sites as the Super Bowl is. While a third Ravens Super Bowl win would be great for Baltimore’s wounded psyche, an Orioles World Series would be better because more fans could enjoy the games at the ballpark as Nationals fans recently did.

Astroball under attack: After the Houston Astros won the World Series in 2017, their management style was widely copied, and the Orioles, who hired Mike Elias to be their general manager a year later, followed the plan in many ways.

Now, the Astros are under suspicion. Former Houston pitcher Mike Fiers charged that the team electronically stole signs in 2017.

Major League Baseball is investigating, and former Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman thinks the practice continued.

“This Astros thing is bad!!! Guys lost jobs, got sent down, missed service time bc of how they were hit in HOU. Does anyone really think they only did this in 17? #getreal,” Gausman tweeted.

Many in baseball have been suspicious of the Astros since their World Series win. They developed a cult following and an excellent book, Astroball, was written by Sports Illustrated’s Ben Reiter, chronicling their worst-to-first rise.

After assistant general manager, Brandon Taubman, taunted Reiter’s colleague, Stephanie Apstein, and other female reporters after Houston’s ALCS win over the Yankees, with cries celebrating the teams’ acquisition of reliever Roberto Osuna, MLB has watched Houston more carefully.

Osuna was acquired by the Astros after he was suspended for 75 games for domestic abuse.

Houston was incredibly slow to acknowledge Taubman’s wrongdoing, which eventually ended with his dismissal. Since then, whistleblowers have been emboldened to come forward with suspicions of Astros wrongdoing.

Sign stealing done with your own eyes or binoculars is an accepted art in baseball. Electronic sign stealing is a heinous baseball crime, and those responsible should pay heavily.

Losing your Keys?: Last month when a report surfaced about MLB’s plan to downsize minor league baseball, the identities of the teams they wanted contracted were unknown.

Now, they’ve become clear. There’s a list of 42 minor league teams MLB would like to eliminate as part of their plan to control minor league costs.

The list includes the Frederick Keys, the Orioles’ longest-running affiliate.

That news is puzzling because the Keys are one of the most economically successful teams in the Carolina League, and the atmosphere at their games is a lively one.

MLB believes that many leagues are too spread out, and they’d like to eliminate Short-Season leagues and others who play in unsuitable ballparks.

The Aberdeen IronBirds, who play at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium, the nicest facility in the Orioles’ minor league chain, would presumably replace Frederick in the Carolina League, but that’s not been definitively decided.

Another team on the chopping block is the Hagerstown Suns, the Nationals’ Low-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League.

While Frederick is a viable franchise playing in a relatively modern park, Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown is a relic.

Losing both Frederick and Hagerstown would cut the number of affiliated minor league teams in Maryland from five to three.

Aberdeen, Bowie and Delmarva would remain, but there no longer would be professional baseball in Western Maryland.

Frederick is a growing and prosperous area, home to many who work in both Baltimore and Washington. Eliminating pro ball from there is downright silly and short-sighted.

Negotiations between MLB and MILB will continue. While the minor leagues seem to have little leverage, legal and legislative remedies could be the result.

While it’s inevitable that some teams will be lost for 2021, it would be sad if Frederick is no longer part of the Orioles’ or minor league landscapes.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. deqalt

    November 19, 2019 at 7:39 am

    That would be horrible to lose Fredrick. The losing continues…..

  2. NormOs

    November 19, 2019 at 8:28 am

    Maybe I’m not paying enough attention to the minors, but this seems to me to be ridiculous to take baseball out of Frederick. May I ask why they (whoever that is) want to take baseball out of a town that always supported the game? Seems crazy to me!

  3. Orial

    November 19, 2019 at 8:50 am

    I am particularly thrilled with this Ravens success. I remember Unitas,Lenny,Matchetti. I’m just hoping there’s a magical/subliminal way it can overlap onto the Orioles. Everybody’s talking about scaling back on MiLB teams but nobody’s said why. Rich I can only assume that it’s that ugly elephant in the room again–MONEY(financial). Is Bowie in such a powerful area that it couldn’t be swapped out to Frederick and rewarding that town with a AA team(relocation)?

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 19, 2019 at 11:31 am

      MLB owners are under pressure to pay minor league players more, and this is a response. Also, they realize how few players from the low iminor leagues and rounds past 20 make it to the big leagues, and they want to concentrate on higher-level leagues.

      Bowie has a good location compared with other cities in Eastern League–close to Harrisburg, Reading, Trenton and Richmond while Frederick has only Potomac and Wilmington relatively close.

  4. Bancells Moustache

    November 19, 2019 at 9:41 am

    Between the boys up 295 winning the Series and one of the best run organizations in all of professional sports right across the street, you’d think the Orioles might develop a sense of urgency as they continue to take the field in front of 80% empty seats.

    …Don’t hold your breath.

    I think it is inevitable that MiLB contracts, which I’ve been saying for a few years now, but talk of “logistical concerns” and ”facility standards” is complete manure. MLB is trying to save money and the bushes, both the towns and the players, are getting shafted as a result. If I’m not mistaken, the Frederick county taxpayer forked over some pretty significant coin to make Harry Grove the fine ballpark that it is. Now MLB is pulling the team out? Hooo boy, this is gonna get ugly. And if MLB is planning to use this to extort small town taxpayers to build their ballparks the way the big league teams do to major cities, every mayor, councilman or county executive who tells them not to let the door hit them on the way out has my vote.

  5. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    November 19, 2019 at 10:51 am

    It would be a shame if the Keys lose their affiliation with the Orioles. As noted it’s a great minor league baseball town. The stadium is nice and they draw well. I am not sure how the propsed Dream League will play out there and other towns.

  6. Hallbe62

    November 19, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    GO RAVENS!

  7. WorldlyView

    November 19, 2019 at 4:37 pm

    Suggestion to improve the Orioles: sell the team to Steve Bisciotti who seems to know how to successfully run a sports franchise.

  8. BirdsCaps

    November 19, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    As an Ironbirds season ticket holder, there have been rumors of Aberdeen getting a higher caliber club for the past two seasons. However, the rumor was a switcharoo that would send The double a franchise to Aberdeen and the short season team to Bowie. Even though I would love to see High A ball in Aberdeen, I feel for the faithful Keys fans. We’ll see what comes of this, as it sounds speculative at this point.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 19, 2019 at 7:15 pm

      Stephen, in the proposal Short Season teams were to be eliminated, so I guess we’ll have to learn more.

  9. Mickraut

    November 20, 2019 at 6:47 pm

    Lefty Grove is turning in his grave.

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