When the New York Yankees visit Baltimore each year, the stakes always seem to be a bit higher for the crowds at Camden Yards.
With the success of the Orioles last season and through the first half of 2013, as much is true again this season. And the national audience has noticed.
Saturday night’s game is being televised regionally by Fox, and Sunday night’s series finale will be the first time ESPN’s "Sunday Night Baseball" is in Baltimore since July 31, 2005.
In that game, the Orioles fell to the Chicago White Sox, 9-4. Right-hander Rodrigo Lopez took the loss, and current Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Freddy Garcia earned the win. Shortstop Miguel Tejada and left fielder Eric Byrnes each had three hits, and second baseman Brian Roberts homered for the Orioles.
Before a Sunday night game April 14 in the Bronx, the Orioles’ previous appearance on "Sunday Night Baseball" had been Sept. 21, 2008, in the final game at the old Yankee Stadium.
ESPN "Baseball Tonight" host Karl Ravech reminisced Friday about growing up in Boston and watching the likes of Earl Weaver, Mark Belanger and Brooks Robinson play against his hometown team. Ravech said he enjoyed watching the team, and not just because he liked the Orioles’ uniforms.
“There was always something -- and I don’t mean this in a dismissive way -- there was always something very quaint about the old ballpark, Memorial Stadium,” Ravech said. “There was always something very quaint about it and it just resonated with me.”
Ravech worked alongside Orioles manager Buck Showalter on the set of "Baseball Tonight," where Showalter served as an analyst in the late 2000s before he was hired by the Orioles. Ravech praised Showalter as an observer of things at a small scale to make a team successful and said he wasn’t surprised at the Orioles’ playoff run last season.
“It’s not secret if you look at his resume what happens in successive years after his first year with an organization,” Ravech said. “Thankfully, the Orioles have demonstrated a level of patience that some other organizations didn’t. I think that Buck will be rewarded with a deep playoff run or World Series that he richly deserved in Arizona or New York.”
Ravech considers the Orioles’ lineup to be the best in the division, and he cited the success of third baseman Manny Machado and first baseman Chris Davis as signs of a bright future in Baltimore with more playoff berths in sight.
And with more success, the Orioles’ profile could be boosted even further with more nationally televised appearances.
“It’s all cyclical and the key is to make these cycles last a long, long time,” Ravech said. “The fact the Orioles are on 'Sunday Night Baseball' is wonderful in 2013. If you use 'Sunday Night Baseball' as sort of the gold standard, the barometer exposing baseball teams that have a chance to win World Series, you want to be on in 2013, then you want to be on multiple times in 2014, 2015 and beyond.”