Thursday Thoughts: Orioles Right to Extend Netting at OPACY

1. I was only mildly surprised by Saturday’s Andrew Cashner trade, and really only for a second. It makes total sense that the O’s would deal Cashner, who had put up some decent numbers this season prior to his Boston debut the other night.

What shocked me more than the trade, however, was the reaction to it. I guess I haven’t adjusted my brain to be able to deal with Orioles fans who expect anything other than misery for at least the next five years. This is year one of that, by the way. Some fans reacted as if they had just traded Nolan Ryan for Daniel Cabrera. Part of this is probably just the social media crowd, but from what I gather there was a genuine disgust with the team for trading Cashner away. It’s as if some thought he was necessary for this team, this year.

I’m not entirely sure what other purpose he was serving if not to get traded. It’s probably a bit odd for any fan to be completely okay with a trade that nets two 17-year-old players that no one outside their family has ever heard of. But I am certainly fine with it. There’s a certain amount of closing your eyes and embracing the freefall that goes with supporting the Orioles right now. This is part of it. The drop puts a pit in your stomach and it makes you want to vomit, but eventually that feeling will go away. Making trades for teenagers is just part of it. So is losing a billion games.

Keeping Cashner in an effort to try to be competitive isn’t going to help this team get back to the playoffs. By the time that happens, Cashner will have likely retired. Hoping that you can get more for him is also a pipedream. We’re talking about a 32-year-old that’s been a very average starter throughout his career. That doesn’t net you top prospects.

And when you’re a team like the Orioles that everyone else knows is forced to trade away these types of players, it gets you teenagers.

2. While my brain hasn’t yet adjusted to fans’ anger over trading Andrew Cashner, it also hasn’t adjusted to the uproar over the fact that John Means didn’t get to pitch in last week’s All-Star Game. I wasn’t baffled that people took to Twitter to voice their displeasure over this, but it did amuse me a bit. I guess I’m just getting old, but these types of things don’t really rile me up like they used to. I mean, this is John Means we are talking about. Two weeks earlier, most Orioles fans were upset that it was actually Means representing the O’s over Trey Mancini. Now those same fans were in a tizzy over the fact that Alex Cora didn’t put him into the annual exhibition game. I even saw comparisons to Cito Gaston’s infamous 1993 charade with Mike Mussina.

Let’s be clear about this, Alex Cora is not Cito Gaston. The 1993 Midsummer Classic was IN BALTIMORE and Mussina was at that point, even though it was still early in his career, very well established. He had finished in the top-5 of the Cy Young vote the year prior and was one of anchors of a team in a new ballpark. Means was the necessary arm added to the American League roster to make sure they had enough pitchers and to ensure the O’s were represented.

Means is a really nice story this season, and I’m not trying to take anything away from him. But I didn’t need to see him pitch in the All-Star Game. In fact, I went to the movies that night and only turned the game on in about the 7th or 8th inning. I thought, maybe I’ll see Means pitch, or maybe I won’t. Either way, that game was barely on my radar because the only Baltimore representation was Means.

If the O’s had four players and a starter, I probably would’ve been more invested. 

3. Michael Baumann showed a glimpse the other night of some of the positives within the Orioles system. The 23-year-old’s nine-inning no-hitter for Double-A Bowie capped what has been an outstanding start with the Baysox. The 2017 third-round pick was promoted to Bowie after posting a 3.83 ERA in 11 starts with Single-A Frederick this season. So far for the Baysox, he’s struck out 32 in 27 innings and given up just one run.

There are a few bright spots within the organization, and it won’t be long before Adley Rutschman is in Aberdeen. With the Orioles being as bad as they are, it’s quite obvious and easy to turn attention to the minors. Bowie and Delmarva are both having great seasons and have a bunch of talent that could be up in the majors as soon as next season.

This rebuilding process starts down on the farm, and while the games are not as accessible, it’s still something to pay attention to.

4. The Orioles haven’t made an official announcement yet, but the team confirmed to The Baltimore Sun last week that it plans to extend the protective netting between the foul poles at Camden Yards. This can’t come soon enough, and should be applauded by anyone who goes to games. Talk about protective netting has ramped up in recent months, especially since a young girl was injured by a foul ball at Houston’s Minute Maid Park in May. The Orioles plan to put netting in place at Camden Yards and Sarasota’s Ed Smith Stadium by the start of the 2020 season, if not sooner.

Many other teams are jumping in with action as well, and it’s a wonder why MLB hasn’t stepped in and made it mandatory. Protective netting is common practice in Asia and has never been an issue. The downside for some fans is that they claim the netting impairs the view of the game. That’s not really the case with the type of netting being used these days. These aren’t chain-link fences we’re talking about here. The protective netting is important for the safety of fans. That’s it. That’s all that needs to be said. In this day and age with batted balls coming off the bat at well over 100 MPH, reaction times for the average spectator aren’t good enough.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you have a glove and are ready. The dangerous projectile coming in your direction is still a dangerous projectile. Netting is a win for everyone, and I’m glad the O’s are taking a step to make it happen.

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