MLB

Goodbye Old Friend: A thank you note from all of Birdland

Manny Machado got traded to the Dodgers, but he'll be always be remembered as an Oriole.

The Manny Machado sweepstakes, or should I say saga, has finally come to a close. At least that is the case for those involved with the Orioles organization, including the fans. He still projects to be one of the top free agents this coming offseason. It remains to be seen where he may end up, but in all likelihood he could be worth $400 million come this time next season.

For the remainder of this season, and what the Los Angeles Dodgers hope to be a World Series run, Manny will be wearing the blue and white in Hollywood, as part of Mannywood 2.0.

What did the Oriole get in return? Well they got a package of five prospects, including the Dodgers’ fourth and baseball’s 84th best prospect, Yusniel Diaz, third baseman Rylan Bannon, right-hander Dean Kremer, relief pitcher Zach Pop and second baseman Breyvic Valera. Diaz, Bannon and Kremer were all top-30 prospects in the Dodgers farm system.

Diaz was the centerpiece of the deal for the Orioles and projects to be a top-two prospect for them. He also gives them a second top-100 prospect.

This was a move that the organization had to make since they were unable to complete a long-term deal. To their credit, they took their time trying to make an informed decision. Something that can’t always be said for the moves they make.

Give General Manager Dan Duquette credit. He is someone that I have been critical of in the past, but he truly took his time and got the best package that he could. He did a good job beginning the rebuild process for the Orioles, and whether he is part of the front office next year or not, he will have helped start the necessary rebuild.

If everything pans out with Diaz, the O’s could have one of the best young outfield trios in the league in a few years with him, and top five Orioles prospects Austin Hayes and Cedric Mullins.

If things don’t pan out, the Orioles got rid of Manny for virtually nothing. But that’s the thing with prospects. They are prospects for a reason. They aren’t proven at the major league level yet, so you never know how things are going to turn out. Diaz looks like a stud according to all reports.

But you never know.

With that being said, the Orioles had to make this move. They couldn’t let Manny just walk in the offseason without getting anything in return. It appears that the O’s did their due diligence and got the best package that they could.

For now, it’s a waiting game for Orioles fans as they watch Manny get a legitimate shot at a World Series run with the Dodgers.

Now that that is out of the way…


 

Manny,

I think I speak for all of Birdland when I say thank you. It sucks seeing your tenure with the Orioles end this way. Six years ago, at the age of the 19, you helped this team return back to the promised land, the playoffs, after a 14 year hiatus. Since I was born in 1996, 2012 was an exciting year because it was the first time that I was able to watch the first pro sports team that I fell in love with experience success. You helped the O’s win the first-ever Wild Card game played, and took the evil empire all the way to the decisive game five. All in a year where the Orioles weren’t supposed to come close to the playoffs. You, along with Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, truly helped change the culture of Baltimore baseball.  

The accolades you racked up in such a short time in Camden Yards will be etched into the fabric of this team for years to come. Your four All Star Game appearances, two Gold Gloves, one Platinum Glove, and two top five MVP seasons, along with countless web gems and tape-measure home runs will stick with Birdland forever.

My favorite moment of your tenure in the orange and black is from last season. I was able to watch you and Mike Trout, two of the game’s top talents, exchange blows, with you delivering the knockout blow in the bottom of the 9th with a walk-off Grand Slam.

 

 

You had three home runs in that game Manny. Trout had just one. You went toe to toe with the unquestioned top player in the league, and beat him, on a fireworks night. Being in attendance for that game was one the most exhilarating moments of my life.

I wish you didn’t have to go. I wish the Orioles would have re-signed you to a long term extension. I can’t believe that one day I will be able to tell my kids and grandkids that the Orioles had one of the best ball players of my era, but couldn’t sign him to a long term deal. At least I will be able to show them highlights of your time with the Orioles and watch as their faces light up with the same awe that mine did.

Instead, your name will be added to the countless list of Oriole players who should have been lifers but weren’t, joining recent members Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters, Brian Roberts, going all the way back to Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling and before.

Maybe by that time, you will be in the Orioles Hall of Fame. It may be a stretch to some, given the short time you were here in Baltimore, but your impact on this team in that time was immense. An example of that impact can be seen in this season. You were the best player on one of  the worst teams in all of baseball. You put up the best numbers of your career offensively. But it also extended to off the field, as shown by the love you showed one fan in Atlanta. You made that young fan’s year, and also helped the Orioles to one of their few series wins on the season.

Not many players can say they played their whole careers in one town, especially in today’s professional sports landscape. There aren’t many Cal Ripken’s or Brooks Robinson’s anymore. Those days are largely gone. If basketball is any example, there is no loyalty. It’s just business.

But at the end of the day, I think I knew going back a few off-seasons ago, that your time in Baltimore had an expiration date. When extension talks went nowhere, and eventually became non-existent, I figured that you were inevitably going to be wearing another team’s uniform.

If you end up signing with the Yankees, many O’s fans may get upset. But that’s not fair. You have earned the right to sign with any team that you want to. The O’s had a chance to negotiate a long-term extension and for whatever reason it didn’t work out. So, if that happens, fans may not be thrilled; in fact, there may be some who boo, but the only reason they are acting like that way is because to them, you were part of their extended family. It hurts a little to see a person you rooted so hard for in another team’s uniform. We will alway cherish all of the fond memories you gave us.

While you weren’t able to help bring a World Series back to Baltimore, it was still magical to watch you play some of the best defense at third base and shortstop since Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken manned those positions, to go along with the offensive tools you brought to the plate everytime you dug in. Some of those plays truly were magical and made you look like a magician. It was magic, Orioles Magic.

 

You told Ken Rosenthal during the All Star game that it was a tremendous honor to wear Baltimore across your chest and you hoped that you did everything you could for the O’s. You certainly gave it your all to make this team better. We won’t forget all of the work you put in and we hope you won’t forget us.

Best of luck to you the rest of this season with the Dodgers, and wherever you end up next. Birdland will be watching!

When you make your return to Camden Yards, whenever that is and with whatever team that is with, I am sure there will be a nice tribute.

From all of us here in Birdland Manny,

Thank You!

 

1 comment on “Goodbye Old Friend: A thank you note from all of Birdland

  1. warningtrack

    Great analysis and great emotion. As a fan of LeBron (and Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel etc.), I understand.

    Liked by 1 person

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