Opening Night, Buck-Ball, Hendrickson and Brooks Robinson

On Friday night in the Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg area, the 2011 season will kick off – finally! – for the Baltimore Orioles.

Everyone is optimistic for the season to begin and for the first time in a long time, let’s all hope that 2011 is the season where the Orioles become relevant again on the national scene.

The Orioles and Andy MacPhail during the winter tried their best to retool, rebuild and get a competitive roster on the field.

Did they accomplish their goals? We’ll see over the next six months.

Buck-Ball came rolling into in August and things have not been the same since. I never thought a manager would not make that much of a difference when it comes to coaching professionals.

I guess I was wrong. He’s seemingly inspired his players. He calls out his rivals and speaks his mind.

I appreciate it. It’s awesome.

Right now, everyone is high on Buck Showalter and he’s gained a lot of a capital in his time while in Baltimore. Let’s hope he avoids an extended losing streak, much more a swoon.

As for the weekend coming up…

Showalter will start Jeremy Guthrie on Friday for game one, Brian Matusz for game two and Chris Tillman to close out the Series against the Rays. Jake Arrieta will take the mound on Monday at Camden Yards for the home opener. The pitching at times in Spring Training was shaky at times. Let’s hope for some consistency and a few wins. Lord knows that we all don’t want to a repeat of the first few weeks of the 2010 season that buried the team before Buck came to town.

The offense has a new look with Mark Reynolds, J.J. Hardy, Vladmir Guerrero and Derrek Lee; therefore, we’ll need to see if they deliver. Furthermore, will Adam, Jones, Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis take their games to another level?

The Orioles’ goal this year and beyond is simple: Win and take a team that has been a punching bag and a joke into a formidable squad.

As we all know, the Orioles have not had a winning season since Bill Clinton was president. That’s a long arse time. Think of it, there are some young adults now in the region who cannot remember a winning Oriole team!

That has to change. No one is the picking the Orioles to end up the World Series, much less win their division; however, most feel that they will be better by at least five or ten games and perhaps even a few games over .500…

The pitching staff has too many questions, there’s a huge injury concern with key members of the team, and some of the new acquisitions need to play to their potential. After the way the Orioles finished up 2010, fans are hoping the best and to avoid a repeat of seasons gone by.

That being said, the games count on Friday for the Orioles. The time-honored clichés have been mentoned, and the talking has been done – it’s time to make it all count.

More than likely, they’ll challenge for fourth place — if all goes miraculously well, perhaps third place. I say they’ll win 78 games.

Moving on…

Mark Hendrickson decided to take an assignment at Triple-A Norfolk and that was interesting to read. Based on what I’ve read online from the Sun and MASN – and I’ll be paraphrasing what Hendrickson said, but it looks as if he wants to stay with the organization not only because of comfort, but to also be close to his family.

Also, let’s hope the best for Oriole legend Brooks Robinson. According to the Baltimore Sun, he was hospitalized today and according to a statement he says he is fine. Thank heavens for that and hope Brooks has a speedy recovery.

He’s such a wonderful representative for baseball in general and a class act.

Finally, Amber Theoharis is back for MASN. Great to see.

Also, I am watching the Mid-Atlantic Sports Report right now on MASN (I’ll be interested to see how that goes) after stepping from a long back day at work and also taking a mid-day work excursion with some fellow employees to watch the Nationals-Braves at a chilly Nationals Park from the cheap seats in D.C.

Good to see live baseball back up here again.