A scary story after another big win for the Orioles. The team charter experienced a small fire on the flight to St. Pete tonight and was forced to make an emergency landing in Jacksonville. MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports that the team is currently at the Jacksonville airport while the plane is being inspected.
No word yet on how the fire originated, what with Kevin Gregg having been released, but one assumes Jim Johnson put it out.
The Orioles are traveling to St. Petersburg to face the Rays in a three-game series beginning Monday. At 92-67, Baltimore is tied with the Yankees atop the AL East.
Update: Incredibly enough, the Orioles’ official Twitter account posted this during the game earlier this afternoon (hat tip to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan).
Update 2: The Orioles were able to get back into air after being grounded for about an hour. They learned during the second leg of their flight that they’d be going to the postseason, courtesy of the Rangers’ win over the Angels.
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.