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The Mood Of The Oriole Fanbase During The First Home Opener Of The Rebuild

Governor Hogan Also Joins The Conversation

Scott & Jeremy
April 04, 2019 - 4:45 pm
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By Alex Woodward

 

As we continue the first year of the Orioles rebuild under the new regime of Mike Elias, Sig Mijdal and Brandon Hyde, I wanted to talk to fans to get a pulse of the fanbase during the O's home opener. So I decided to spend most of my day walking around Oriole Park at Camden Yards to gauge the excitement level heading into this new era. 

Among the topics we discussed, I asked 4 main questions for the 2019 season. Here are my impressions of how the fans feel heading into the season. 

1. New Year, New Era - On a scale of 1-10 how confident are you in the new regime's plan for the rebuild?

Most of the fans I spoke to said that their level of confidence in this new regime is at about an 8. I had two people say they were at a 10 with one of them saying this is the most excited they've ever been heading into a season. Fans are excited about the rebuild. Not just the fact that the team has publicly stated they are heading towards a rebuild but a "real rebuild" as some fans put it. Mike Elias, Sig Mijdal and Brandon Hyde all have experience in turning losing organizations into winners. Fans have taken notice and they aren't tampering expectations. They expect this rebuild to be accomplished within the next 5 years and they expect it to be done right. Most fans say they have the patience for this rebuild but I'm curious to see what the fan reaction is at next year's home opener and the year after that. My gut tells me as the years pile up along with the losses some of these positive attitudes might turn sour quickly. For now, people are excited and hopeful for the new era. 

2. We didn't see it with Manny, Schoop or Jake Arietta but do you think this regime will be more willing to sign their young stars?

This question got a mixed reaction from O's fans. Some said that they think the organization will finally start to retain their young stars; others said that they don't think the team would have enough money to keep a star - if they had one - but both groups shared the same thought...these potential players to retain have to be proven and they have to be for the right price. The former is an obvious but it seems people wanted to clarify that the Orioles shouldn't just re-sign or extend a player just because that's something they typically haven't done with young talent in the past. They need to have a track record and they have to be worth the money - which most fans said that neither Bryce Harper nor Manny Machado were worth the money they got recently. So take that for what it's worth. The Orioles don't have a Manny Machado or Bryce Harper in the organization at this moment but it seems the jury is still out on if fans believe the Orioles would even be able or willing to keep their young stars of the future. 

3. How long do you give Chris Davis before it's time to move on? What kind of reaction do you expect from the fans when he runs out on the orange carpet and steps to the plate for the first time?

The leash is short for Davis when you talk to Oriole fans. Most people said they would give Davis a month before wanting him out of the lineup entirely. The longest some fans said they are willing to keep Davis on the roster is the trade deadline in July. That's not a very long leash for a guy that's in the middle of a huge contract. I also asked the fans about what kind of reaction Chris Davis gets in his return to Oriole Park after the worst offensive season in major league history. Here's the gist: 

Boy, did they call that one. There were minimal boo's mixed in with cheers when Davis ran down the orange carpet in the pregame ceremony but that was followed by an 0-3 day at the plate with 3 k's. Every time he struck out it seemed that the entire stadium was booing him and that's unfortunate but also not unwarranted. So far he's 0-17 with 11 k's on the season...just an awful start and not an ideal way to make a return to the home crowd. Hanser Alberto ended up pinch hitting for Davis in the bottom of the 8th and maybe my ears deceived me but it sounded like the crowd cheered louder for Davis getting taken out for Alberto than they did when Davis ran out on the orange carpet. There is no doubt the booing at home will be a continuing trend throughout the season.

4. What are you most excited about for the 2019 season?

Youth. That was the recurring theme when fans were asked what they were looking forward to this season. People are excited to evaluate what young players could be pieces to future teams and who are just bodies. Many fans know the top prospects like Yusniel Diaz and Austin Hays but couldn't name many other young players they are excited to see and that's okay. Many fans I spoke to said that's half the excitement. Steve - one of the Oriole fans I spoke with - told me, "I have no idea who these guys are so I'm excited to come back here throughout the year and see with my own eyes if they're worth a damn." Another fan named Matt said he plans on going to more minor league games this year than ever because that is where the future stars are.

Fans are also excited about the change in team philosophy. Some commended Brandon Hyde's emphasis on aggressive baserunning and others shared their support for keeping things fun in an environment where the team isn't expected to win much. The beer shower celebrations are universally loved by Oriole fans and it sounds like they want to see more of them. 

Governor Larry Hogan's thought's on the future of the O's

While walking around the ballpark I saw a swarm of people gathered in a circle on Eutaw Street. I had to see what was getting all the attention. Governor Hogan was taking pictures with Oriole fans and chatting people up while simultaneously trying to find his way through the crowd. I was lucky enough to briefly speak with him on Eutaw Street about his thoughts on the O's new regime and if he thinks they would be more likely to retain their young stars in the future. You can listen to that conversation below:

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