Orioles' Birdland Caravan sounds like a nice idea - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ Birdland Caravan sounds like a nice idea

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

Most years, Oriole fans have spent the last Saturday morning of January lining up in front of the Baltimore Convention Center for FanFest. With the Orioles not holding FanFest in 2020, they’re trying something new, a three-day Birdland Caravan.

Last month, there was the Winter Warmup event, and just before spring training, February 7-9, the Orioles will conduct the caravan, where players, coaches and executives visit areas surrounding Baltimore to talk about the new season.

Other clubs have had caravans for years. Last weekend, the Cincinnati Reds sent four separate bus tours to areas as far away as Nashville, Louisville, Columbus, Indianapolis and Parkersburg, West Virginia.

The Orioles’ caravan isn’t quite as ambitious, but it’s their first shot at it.

There will be private events at schools in Aberdeen and Timonium, a stop at Fort Meade and other visits to Frederick, Hagerstown, Westminster and York, Pennsylvania.

There will be Happy Hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at The Greene Turtle in White Marsh, the Calvert Brewing Company in Upper Marlboro and the Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick. Each will be from 4-6 p.m.

On Saturday and Sunday, there will be other meet-and-greets in Ellicott City, Annapolis, Frederick and Westminster.

Manager Brandon Hyde, Richie Martin, Gunnar Henderson, DL Hall, Adley Rutschman, Cedric Mullins and coaches Tim Cossins and Fredi Gonzalez will be in White Marsh.

General manager Mike Elias, Trey Mancini, Mike Bordick, Brian Roberts, Hanser Alberto and Ryan McKenna will be in Upper Marlboro.

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Eddie Murray, assistant general manager for analytics Sig Mejdal, Dwight Smith Jr., Rio Ruiz, Ryan Mountcastle and Grayson Rodriguez will attend the Frederick Happy Hour.

A complete list of the public events can be found here: https://www.mlb.com/orioles/fans/caravan

The tour will stop at three of the four Maryland affiliate territories — Aberdeen, Bowie and Frederick. The team chose not to extend the caravan to the Eastern Shore.

All stops are within 75 miles from Baltimore. Extending the caravan to Salisbury, home of the Delmarva Shorebirds, would make it a two-hour-plus drive from Baltimore because it’s 120 miles away.

Perhaps if the caravan is successful, it will be lengthened next year and stops in Salisbury and Norfolk will be added.

There are no stops in Baltimore.

The club wants to encourage fans to come back to downtown Baltimore next season. The fears of crime in the immediate vicinity of the stadium have been disproven by the Ravens.

On an unseasonably warm Saturday night in January, more than 70,000 fans made their way downtown for the Ravens’ playoff game, and there wasn’t any chatter about how unsafe it was then.

Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report on February 11 to the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota. Other than Rustchman, who will be invited as a non-roster player, all the players participating in the caravan and coming to major league camp are infielders and outfielders.

Position players are scheduled to report on February 16.

Will there be robo umps in Sarasota? Commissioner Rob Manfred announced plans to use robot umpires at some spring training games. Manfred said that the “robo umps,” which were used in the Arizona Fall League, would be used in the minor leagues.

The umpires association told ESPN on Wednesday night that human umpires will still be calling the nine games in Florida, where the robot technology will be tested.

The experiment with robotic umpiring began last season with the independent Atlantic League.

Orioles connection with Mets manager: In the wake of the electronic sign-stealing scandal, the New York Mets fired Carlos Beltran, whom they hired to manage the team in November.

He is reportedly being replaced by Luis Rojas, who is the son of former major league player and manager Felipe Alou.

Rojas, who was the Mets’ quality control coach last season, began a brief playing career in the Orioles’ organization in 2000. He never played above Rookie Level.

Among the 28 current major league managers, only Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics has played for the Orioles. The jobs in Boston and Houston remain open.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. BirdsCaps

    January 23, 2020 at 9:46 am

    I hate to sound like a broken record, but when will Manfred stop with the changes to the game. Soon he’ll have robotic players (like the robotic football players in the Jetsons). There is not much that stays the same in life, but baseball has been generally stable. Baseball has always been nostalgic about everything, unlike other sports (especially the NFL which has new all time statistical leaders every few yrs due to the rule changes), but now seems almost as “forward thinking” as the other leagues. So, in the future we’ll sing 1-2-3 strikes you’re out at the “new” ballgame. Also, the caravan is a nice idea. It looks similar to the purple caravans (but with more players) and is an attempt to ween fans off of fan fest.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 23, 2020 at 9:52 am

      Stephen, I’m OK with electronic strike zones. Too many umpires have said, “my strike zone.” Well, the strike zone is the strike zone. It’s arbitrary, and if that helps, great. The human element should be the players, not the umpires.

  2. willmiranda

    January 23, 2020 at 9:54 am

    I’m really looking forward to robo managers, programmed to cuss, kick dirt on home plate, and stomp off muttering to the clubhouse. Not to mention robo ESPN announcers. Oh, wait, we already have them.

    • WorldlyView

      January 23, 2020 at 6:45 pm

      We might even get robots supplying the comments on Baltimore Baseball, freeing us to do other things.

  3. ClayDal

    January 23, 2020 at 11:50 am

    Rich , I agree that the caravan sounds like a good idea. Scrolling down on my phone, you wrote about Fan Fest being cancelled on October 29th. 86 days later, the Orioles are announcing an alternative event. From a PR standpoint, would have been a good idea to announce that there was going to be a caravan when word leaked out that Fan Fest was being cancelled. Details to follow. Would have saved them the PR headache, which they really don’t need. Of course if the Ravens had won the Super Bowl, this would have been dwarfed by the victory parade

  4. Bancells Moustache

    January 23, 2020 at 12:53 pm

    I’ve been saying this for awhile, you need to get away from the city, because that’s where the bulk of the paying customers are coming from. They should have been doing this for the last 25 years, but better late than never. Ditching FanFest I understand. The Orioles only obligation to Baltimore is to play 81 baseball games to the best of their ability. However, doing so this fall after a second 100 loss season and having no alternative in place was a disastrous PR decision. Avoiding the Eastern Shore is dumb. Nobody says you have to go all the way to Salisbury. You can certainly set up shop in Kent Narrows or Easton and I guarantee the place fills up. An awful lot of O’s fans over there, and they are probably the most likely to avoid going to the ballpark, since driving over the Bay Bridge, particularly this summer with the repair work, is an enormous pain in the behind. It would be wise to toss them a bone.

  5. deqalt

    January 23, 2020 at 12:59 pm

    I like the idea of this caravan, but it needs to be in the whole Orioles viewing area. North Carolina is completely blacked out because they are ” in market”. If that’s the case they should cover North Carolina. Especially at a time when we are told basically no meaningful baseball for a few more years

  6. chico salmon

    January 23, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    A bit off topic, but thought it was important to mention. My son was an usher for the past three years for the Orioles. This week he received a letter of termination from the Orioles, no reason given. He called around to a few of the other ushers who received termination letters. It’s related to decline in attendance, of course. Like any business, you lay off employees when your business slows down. I’m sure he, the other ushers and stadium employees who were terminated, will find other work in this economy. But tanking, willing to endure multiple years of losing and declining attendance, has produced collateral damage to many stadium employees. Just FYI.

    • deqalt

      January 23, 2020 at 1:52 pm

      So sorry to here that. This whole rebuilding is a mess. No one wins!

      • CalsPals

        January 23, 2020 at 2:38 pm

        Unfortunately someone wins, it’s just not us….go O’s….

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        January 23, 2020 at 6:52 pm

        Soon, if you look up the word “rebuilding” in a thesaurus, the 1st word you’ll find listed is “tanking”.

    • CalsPals

      January 24, 2020 at 7:37 am

      & a picture of Elias….lol…go O’s…

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