New skipper, same results in Baltimore

10 Comments

Juan Samuel Orioles.jpgClay Buchholz ruined Juan Samuel’s first game as O’s interim manager, tossing a complete-game five-hit shutout as part of an 11-0 victory on Friday night. The Orioles have now lost nine consecutive games and enter play on Saturday at 15-40. They currently sit an incredible 21 games behind the first-place Rays in the American League East.

It doesn’t look like things are going to get magically better any time soon, but Samuel’s sense of humor is still intact. For now, anyway. (via Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com).

“Well, we got the first one out of the way for me.”

Friday’s starter Chris Tillman was only able to record four outs before he was yanked
after 57 pitches, giving up four runs on five hits while walking two and
striking out two. It was only his second start back in the big leagues, but the young right-hander is symptomatic of a core of young players — including Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold, Brian Matusz and Brad Bergesen — who have taken a “giant step” backward this season, according to team president Andy MacPhail.

It’s hard for MacPhail to preach patience when the team needs to try to sell tickets — especially with the excitement in the region tilting in the Nationals’ favor — but let’s just say that the young core mentioned above isn’t the only thing that has diverted off course in the past year. I believe the Orioles unfairly raised the expectations of their fanbase by bringing in veterans like Kevin Millwood, Mike Gonzalez, Miguel Tejada and Garrett Atkins this winter when they really didn’t need to.

The injuries to Gonzalez and Brian Roberts haven’t helped their plight, but contending should never have been a consideration this season anyway. The Gonzalez signing was especially absurd at the time and looks even more egregious now. With that being said, I still trust MacPhail’s overall vision for the franchise. I just hope it isn’t much longer before we see names like Millwood and Ty Wigginton give way to promising youngsters like Jake Arrietta and Josh Bell.  
 

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.