There's a lot to be excited about as Orioles begin workouts -
Rich Dubroff

There’s a lot to be excited about as Orioles begin workouts

Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports


SARASOTA—As pitchers and catchers prepare for their first official workout on Thursday, there will be a new and different feel around the Orioles.

There will be expectations for a team that won 101 games, the most in 44 years. Expectations will be even higher because of the addition of top-shelf starter Corbin Burnes, a former Cy Young Award winner who figures to start the team’s season opener on March 28th.

Burnes joins an exciting, young group of position players and solidifies a starting rotation that showed a combination of promise and excellence last season.


Besides all that, there will be an air of mystery around the Ed Smith Stadium Complex.

Last month, the Orioles were sold by the Angelos family to financier David Rubenstein, who could become the team’s controlling owner by the time Opening Day arrives.

The uncertainty won’t affect the players. They’ll concentrate on their jobs. Nor should it affect manager Brandon Hyde and his coaches, and it shouldn’t bother executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias.

Most teams in professional sports aren’t sold when they’re on the upward swing. It’s hardly unusual for a family-owned team to sell after the death of a longtime owner, but Peter Angelos, who bought the team in 1993, is 94 and incapacitated and the family will hold on to a large stake, though not control the team while he’s still alive.

Rubenstein, a world class investor, is buying a hot stock, and fans are eager to hear what he has in mind for the team. It will be interesting to see if Rubenstein attends spring training. Perhaps he’s already seen the Orioles’ lovely spring training headquarters.

The Orioles’ sale is unusual because it happened just before spring training. When Angelos bought the team, he purchased it at the end of the 1993 season. The Orioles were a contender, and their general manager, Roland Hemond, and manager Johnny Oates stayed put for Angelos’ first season. Oates was let go after the season, and Hemond stayed on through 1995.

In this case, fans hope that Elias and Hyde stay for the long term, and they’ll be buoyed by the hope of funds being freed up to extend some of those young players and to at least become a more regular participant in the free-agent market.

No one knows what Rubenstein’s philosophy is on running a team. What is unusual here is that John Angelos, who’s been the team’s controlling owner since his father has been in declining health, is selling the team to an older man. John Angelos is 58, and Rubenstein, a lifelong Orioles’ fan, is 74. Usually, it’s an older person selling to someone younger.

So many questions surround the business of the team. What will Camden Yards look like now that the long-term lease has been signed? What physical changes are in store? Will the Orioles sell the rights to name the park? The Wall Street Journal reported that mutual funds group T. Rowe Price had made a deal to rename the ballpark, but once the team was sold, that was put on hold.

Will fans, many of whom have complained about the lack of access to games on television, get to see them soon? Rubenstein must decide what to do with the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. Does he keep the network? Does he want to sell off part of it so that the Washington Nationals can finally control their television rights and perhaps sell their team, too? Or would he like to get out of the broadcasting business entirely?

As part of the new lease, the Orioles can develop the Warehouse and Camden Station. Rubenstein has nearly four years to make an agreement with the state of Maryland on plans.

Those are all concerns for fans, but the biggest question is can the Orioles take an important step and win a playoff series and advance to the American League Championship Series for the first time since 2014 and perhaps even get to Baltimore’s first World Series since 1983.

Camden Yards hosted the ALCS in 1996, 1997 and 2014, but it’s never had a World Series.

After such a wonderful 2023 season, anything less than winning a division would be a letdown. The team looks deep with just a few positions undecided as spring training begins. For the past two seasons, the team has been healthy and had few key players unavailable due to injury. That must continue.

For the next 40 days, the team will bond about 1,000 miles away from Camden Yards. Though the off-field questions will remain, fans should be excited about what’s in store for 2024.

Notes: The Orioles will televise seven Grapefruit League games on MASN (February 24th vs. Boston),  March 2nd (Yankees), March 11th (at Yankees), March 19th (at Toronto), March 20th (Philadelphia), March 21 (at Boston) and March 23rd (Toronto). Broadcasters will not be site for these games. Twelve games will be broadcast on WBAL/98 Rock. The first radio game will be on February 24th. … Fans are welcome to watch workouts before games begin. Workouts are scheduled daily for February 15th-23rd from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Ed Smith Stadium. Fans may park in the East Lot.

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