This year’s Orioles FanFest has a slightly less optimistic feel to it, and by slightly, I mean not even close.
FanFest 2012 is Saturday, Jan. 21 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Baltimore Convention Center. Last year there were good vibes throughout the event. The Orioles made some moves last offseason, bringing in shortstop J.J. Hardy and hard-hitting Mark Reynolds. They also signed first baseman Derrek Lee.As if that wasn’t enough, last season was Buck Showalter’s first full season as manager of the O’s, and after they finished the 2010 season 34-23 once Showalter came aboard, things looked bright for a change…and then 2011 happened.
This year, after the O’s finished the 2011 season in last place—for the fourth year in a row—with a 69-93 record, things aren’t as optimistic.
General Manager Andy MacPhail is gone, and the Orioles and have replaced him with Dan Duquette as VP of Baseball Operations. So far, his biggest acquisition has been Endy Chavez.
The Orioles need a DH but didn’t go out of their way to talk to Luke Scott, who is now with the Tampa Bay Rays.
If that isn’t enough, Nick Markakis had abdominal surgery recently, and probably won’t be at 100 percent until June, and Brian Roberts’ recovery from a concussion he suffered last season seems to have been derailed.
Roberts’ agent announced that BRob would skip FanFest, an event he has attended every year he has been with the club, because the “stress” of the event—noise, flashing lights, etc—might be too much. That does not sound good.
As per last year’s model, this year’s FanFest will feature autograph sessions. Autograph vouchers cost $15 and the proceeds go to support OriolesREACH, the Orioles’ community service program. Most of the autograph sessions are sold out, but there are still a few left, so I suggest you get crackin’!
All in all, 2012 outlook aside, FanFest is a great time to go and see another side of the players. There is a great Q&A session the players have with the season ticket holders, but anyone can listen in. They also have youth clinics, memorabilia for sale, interactive games, and my favorite part: food. I’m just kidding.
My favorite part, besides being able to chat with the players was the mini baseball field they had set up on the ground level in the back right corner where kids were taking batting practice. Good times!
I will leave you with this final thought. When Buck Showalter was with the New York Yankees, he went 76-86 in his first full season as manager. During his second year, they went 88-74.
While with the Arizona Diamondbacks, they went 65-97 his first year and then he turned them around to 100-62 the next year. Finally, while with the Texas Rangers, Buck’s first full year saw the Rangers go 71-91 before they turned it around to 89-73 in his second year. Do you see a pattern there?
by Andy Mindzak