10. Celebrate 20 Years of OPACY
If you've somehow missed it - this is kind of a big deal. I've been to a handful of OPACY clones including my second favorite MLB stadium AT&T Park in San Francisco. However, nothing feels quite as magical as standing out on Eutaw Street in the shadow of the warehouse. The smell of Boog's in the air and the sounds of batting practice are what dreams are made of. Whether you like sitting up in the upper deck, behind the dugouts or out in centerfield, Camden Yards is a premier sports venue. Yeah, #2 in the world according to ESPN, that's right.
9. Mark Reynolds and the Elusive HR
Mark Reynolds hit 37 Home Runs last year. The last time an Oriole hit 37 Home Runs was Albert Belle in 1999. It really has been a long time since Baltimore had a true power bat in its lineup. Now I'm not suggesting that the strikeouts don't matter. I'm just saying, when he takes that big swing and connects, the ball soaring towards the bullpens. It's a sight to see.
8. What Will Chen & Wada Bring?
The Orioles dipped into Dan Duquette's extensive connections in Asia this offseason by signing both guys out of the NPB this offseason. The O's hope that both can contribute to the club. The question is whether that will be from the rotation or the bullpen or possibly both. Personally, I'm really excited about Chen. O's fans bashed the team for signing Uehara rather than Kawakami, and we all saw how that turned out. Let's see if the Orioles found some hidden gems again.
7. The Old Bird
We discussed the history of the bird way back in November, and the cartoon bird has yet to make its presence known in regular season games. It will be great to see the O's represent the city and the old Orioles teams with their uniforms this year. I know it's not the biggest thing in the world, but it just never felt right to not have the cartoon bird.
6. Brian Matusz's(Hopeful)Resurgence
I'm not going to say I Told You So... but... Matusz has been looking good. IF his luck regresses to the mean a bit, IF his fastball stays up in the lower to mid 90s as it has through spring Training, IF he continues to showcase solid control, then he might just return to the Matusz of old. Matusz was drafted 4th overall and was a top prospect in baseball. I'm betting he turns it around, and any O's fan should want to be there to see it.
Adam Jones is one of the more entertaining Oriole players, not to mention one of the best. The O's starting CF might be around for years to come. Then again, he might be gone by August. Moral of the story - enjoy him and his bubble-blowing antics while you can. Adam plays the game the way we all would if we could - like the little kid inside of all of us would. Nobody makes the game of baseball look more fun than Adam Jones.
4. Playing Spoiler
Let's be honest. I'm not counting down to: 1. Playoffs!. Last year I went to the last game of the season, Orioles vs. Red Sox, wearing an O's hat, Longoria jersey, and O's shorts. Was there some sort of tangible benefit to sending the Rays to the playoffs as opposed to the Red Sox. Well, not that I know of yet (unless the Sox implode after this offseason). You know what I did thoroughly enjoy though? Playing the spoiler. Seeing O's fans get pumped about kicking a rival out of the playoffs. Seeing the look of Ortiz's face sitting in the dugout after Crawford bobbled the ball. I'll never forget that night, even though it had literally no impact on the Orioles season.
3. Food at OPACY
I'll just leave these here (courtesy of Darren Rovell):
2. Matt Wieters Blossoming
I'm going to throw out some quick stats here:
A. .249/.319/.377 with 11 HRs
B. .262/.328/.450 with 22 HRs
A is Matt Wieters in 2010, while B is Wieters in 2011. Note the improvement. For real analysis on Wieters, read our analysis here. I'll sum this up with this: Wieters is one heck of a catcher, the type of guy you build a franchise around. He's fun to watch behind the plate.
1. Baltimore is a Baseball Town
If you read this article from CBS Baltimore, you would come away with the understanding that Baltimore is and forever will be a Raven's town. You know something though? Camden Yards finished second to the Skydome in Attendance from 1990 to 1999 with 27,321,449 fans. The kicker? Camden Yards was only open for 8 of those 10 years unlike many of the other stadiums (including the skydome). When the Orioles made a run at things in the late 90s, Baltimore was the best baseball town in the country. One day, we'll all get to see what it was like. Today only the die-hard fans show that fervor, but a night at the yard is still one of the best things you can do in Baltimore.