If any yearly attendee of the Orioles FanFest were to have been in a coma over the past 365 days and come back this year without knowing about the 2012 season, it would be immediately obvious that something incredible had happened. Every other year I’ve been able to walk up to the door and walk right in. Not this year. The line to enter (simply of advanced tickets holders) literally lapped three-quarters of the way around the entire Baltimore Convention Center. An estimated 18,500 attended – more than twice the number of just a year ago.
Much on the mind of everyone was the recent news of the passing of Earl Weaver. Gary Thorne commented about how Earl said at the statue unveiling, “I’m going to be remembered” … the point being that he was pleased, and maybe a bit surprised, at the thoughtfulness of it all, and that it really did gratify him deeply.
Among those FanFest remarks that caught my ear:
Dan Duquette – Regarding a question about discussions involving a trade for Mike Morse, “We had discussions with a number of teams but at the end of the day, we wanted to maintain our pitching depth.” And then further he said, “I think we have a lot of the same types of ballplayers on our club as we could have acquired in a trade … we’re returning the ballclub from August and September … ” – referencing the 37-18 record. Of Earl Weaver, “He was the godfather of sabermetrics … understood the value of defensing specific players.”
Buck Showalter – He has to be the most quotable person imaginable! In response to how the AL East teams have made many off season moves, “Why are they doing that? Because of the Orioles! But I don’t spend much time worrying about that … if you’re scared, you need to get a dog. There are no Cinderellas in baseball. I don’t spend a lot of time coveting other players and thinking about what they’ve done.” I really like this attitude that Buck has. Regarding bringing along younger players, “Their ability to defend allows us to give them the opportunity to develop offensively … because we can’t allow more than 27 outs.”
More Buck Showalter – Concerning lineups and especially leadoff, “I don’t stay awake at night thinking about <leadoff> because we have options. One of the most important positions in the lineup is the guy batting 9th – to turn it over. I think the batting order is way overblown.” I have to say I disagree with him on this final point, but I understand where he’s coming from.
Showalter Humor – There are so many good lines, but here is one: “My wife asks me ‘How can you remember a pitch sequence from the 1980s, but you can’t remember where your keys are?’” This was part of an answer to a question about what Buck is seen occasionally writing down in a little black book. “I write down reminders about how certain situations are critical – to put together with positive and negative examples of some fundamental technique … or will tell John Russell to remember it to show it <by using video> to the guys, or even at AAA or AA.” I thought this was especially interesting, as it demonstrates Buck’s great mind for the fundamentals of the game and the need for teaching it throughout the system. This is the stuff of a champion outfit.
Humorous Player Statements – Nate McLouth, who has clearly and quickly become a fan favorite, was asked about being carried around the infield by Chris Davis in the famous walk-off hit situation… “I knew he was from Texas and probably picked up bales of hay that way and has done it many times” … Davis responded, “I got carried away with the spins a little bit and almost took out some teammates.” Another from Davis regarding what he thought when being brought in to pitch in the famous Boston game, “I was pissed … was 0-7 with 5 strikeouts, and now I’m going to get the loss!”
These current Orioles are really, truly, honestly a great bunch of guys. It is so clear. So many of them talked about the clubhouse atmosphere as something they’ve never experienced anywhere else. That is worth so much; may it long continue!