Baltimore Orioles relive history with season rise and top pick in draft

When Baltimore put Ben McDonald as the top pick in the 1989 draft, which was just a small part of a thrilling season for the Orioles.

They had the #1 pick because the year before that was bad, but by the time they actually picked, Orioles was in first place in AL East, well on its way to becoming one of baseball’s classics. . In fact, McDonald’s was founded on June 5, 1989 – the same day Baltimore won its eighth straight game of the season.

Sound familiar?

This year’s Orioles were suddenly compared to that ’89 team. After entering the season amid a tough rebuild – Baltimore will pick first place in Sunday’s draft for the second time in four years – the Orioles have turned out to be one of the game’s biggest surprises. in the past few weeks. A 10-game winning streak has put Baltimore above the 500. As the All-Star season draws near, the Orioles have almost more wins (45) than they have in all of the last year (52).

A playoff kick still seems unlikely, but at this point, Baltimore is only 2 ½ games away from the last game in the US championship.

“It’s been a pleasure to watch this team, man,” said McDonald, a right-hander who played nine seasons in the professional leagues and is now part of the Orioles TV show. “It reminds me a lot of that ’89 team in some ways, where they had some confidence and then took off.”

The team born in 1989 occupies a special place in the hearts of Baltimore fans. In 1988 Orioles lost 107 games, and that didn’t deserve the joke they made after starting 0-21. There’s not much reason to expect a quick turnaround in ’89, but amazingly, Baltimore led the AL East 7 ½ games in mid-July.

The team eventually made it to the final series of the season in Toronto. The Orioles lost their first two games, allowing the Blue Jays to claim the title. Baltimore won the finale, with McDonald – who majored the same year he was enlisted – claiming his first win of his career.

The current Orioles team has risen from the same depths as that 1989 team. Baltimore dropped 110 games last year, including 19 failings that almost tied the team’s 1988 record for the longest losing streak in US league history. Even before this July surge, Orioles looked more competitive, thanks in part to an improved but still relatively anonymous bullpen.

Baltimore then began its winning streak with a win at Minnesota before scanning series against Rangers, Angel and Unit. It was a pleasant surprise for Orioles fans, who spent much of the season tracking the progress of promising minor leagues and reviewing drafts and trading deadlines as basis. association to add.

“I think we’re stocking up on a lot of good stuff here for the next few years,” said general manager Mike Elias. “I’m glad that was clearly reflected during the duration of this game for our fans.”

This run by Orioles could really complicate the rest of the month for Elias. Baltimore is considered a salesman at the end – 30 years old Trey Mancini can have several values, and Raw smell and Jordan Lyles are on a one-year contract – but amid the team’s truly successful first period in a while, there could clearly be a temptation to scrap it and give chase after the season.

With the extended knockouts, it’s not uncommon for a team to pick #1 in the draft and then become post-season in the same year. Minnesota did just that in 2017.

“Everything I do or we do has trade-offs,” says Elias. “All I can say is, we do everything from a global perspective, very thoughtfully, about what is the right thing to do for the health of the Orioles franchise. And all that is going on. be considered for the draft, but also the Commercial Deadline.”

For all the excitement of 1989, it was essentially an exception. The Orioles sank below .500 the next year and lost 95 games in 1991. Baltimore traded Pete Harnisch, Steve Finley and Curt Schilling – all part of the ’89 team – to slugger Glenn Davis in one move. backfire badly.

The lesson is that, while Baltimore’s long winning streak is an interesting story for fans to rally around, the Orioles still need to make smart squad moves if they’re going to build it.

Elias didn’t say too much when advising Baltimore into the draft, but he did say there was a general feeling in the industry that the first player brought in would be a position player, not a pitcher. shadow.

Whatever happens over the next few weeks, the good news for Baltimore is that there seems to be more help along the way. In right-hand man Grayson Rodriguez and quarterback Gunnar Henderson, Orioles has two of the game’s top five prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. Rodriguez has been sidelined with injury, but Henderson has enjoyed a good record in Triple-A.

The catcher Adley Rutschmanthe top pick in the 2019 draft, had his major league debut against Baltimore earlier this year.

“I think the organization is in a very healthy position, and it’s largely down to the players, and the way they’re playing here at the major league level right now,” Elias said. “Then there’s clearly a group of excellent minor league prospects behind them.”

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