There was no fanfare.
No acknowledgement from the team. No mention of it on the game broadcast. And nothing from any of the beat reporters.
But the “Basement Day” has already passed for this year’s Orioles team.
I’m speaking, of course, of the date that the Orioles settle into the basement of the American League’s Eastern Division and stay there for the duration.
In 2018 – the shocking first season of what has become a five-year-long-and-counting tailspin – the team settled into last place on April 19…and stayed there for the rest of the season.
In 2019 – after a massive purge of talent and turnover at both the executive and managerial levels – it happened on April 22.
We’ll ignore the shortened, 60-game season of 2020 as an outlier for many reasons.
But then in 2021, the Orioles found their way to the basement for good on May 2 – following the 28th game of their season.
Expectations for the 2022 Orioles were no higher than they’ve been since the start of this rebuild, and fans fully expected the team to settle into last place again in what is shaping up to be a powerhouse A.L. East.
It’s just that this year…it only took five games.
The O’s settled into last place on April 12 – when they lost to the Brewers to drop to 1-4 on the young season. (And then lost again the following night in a game where they also lost their best pitcher, John Means, likely for the season.)
To put it mildly…things have not gone well for the Birds in 2022.
But even though they took their perch in the basement a little earlier than normal this season, there is at least a bit of light that’s finally beginning to become visible at the end of the tunnel.
Could April 12, 2022 Be the Last “Settling In” Date for the Orioles?
Now, I’m not operating under any sort of delusion that this year’s Orioles will suddenly get hot and overtake one of the other teams in the division. I fully understand that the team is almost certain to remain in last place for the rest of this season.
But we can at least look to the minor leagues and see that help appears to be on the way.
Grayson Rodriguez (below) and Kyle Stowers are not playing in low-A ball…they’re at Triple-A Norfolk. And they’re knocking on the door to Camden Yards.
Pitcher DL Hall should also arrive sometime this season after more fine-tuning at the Sarasota complex and then, likely, some time at Norfolk.
Catcher Adley Rutschman appears set to return to game action and join the Orioles hopefully no later than the first week of May.
And the next wave – including help in the infield with the likes of Jordan Westburg, Gunnar Henderson and Joey Ortiz – is right behind that group at Double-A Bowie.
Not all of these prospects will pan out, of course. There are bound to be disappointments…and we all know that the development path for each player is unique.
But even while we come to grips with the fact that another lost summer is upon us in terms of the standings…there’s at least something more interesting on the horizon.
Heading out to Camden Yards – or watching the Birds on television – will be a little more interesting as some of these players begin making their way to Baltimore.
Maybe their arrival will help move this rebuild into the next phase, where instead of trading away talent to dump salary and obtain prospects…the team is only trading away talent to create space for even better talent behind it.
And maybe – just maybe – as those talented players begin to settle in and establish themselves…at some point a few dollars could be spent on acquiring Major League talent to help the club win games and return to contention.
As I said, not all of the prospects will pan out…and maybe the ride will be a little bumpier than we like.
But hopefully, those of us cheering the team on from the stands – and from the couches – are near the point where we won’t have to worry about “settling in” to the AL East basement anymore.