A new year is here and it’s time to look forward to 2014. There are 43 days until pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota, Fla., for spring training.
But first let’s look back to the past year. The Orioles had their share of successes and disappointments in 2013.
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As for me, covering Chris Davis’ record-setting season was something I’ll always remember. From beginning to end, he provided plenty of memories, from his grand slam in the Orioles’ win over the Minnesota Twins in the home opener to his record-setting 51st homer in Boston against the Red Sox.
I was able to see most of Davis' home runs, including those two, in person. Two other home runs by Davis also stick out. His 453-foot blast to right-center field in San Diego might have been the deepest shot I’ve seen over the two years of covering the team. From the time he hit it, I remember being taken aback. You knew it was gone – it was just a matter of how many rows into the seats it would land.
The other was Davis’ 50th home run in Toronto, which tied Brady Anderson’s single-season franchise record. Davis admitted pressing down the stretch and there were some days when he struggled hiding it. But hitting No. 50 was a relief. You could tell.
Both of those homers came in wins, which Davis would tell you made them mean more.
Combine Davis’ 53-homer season with the emergence of third baseman Manny Machado and right-hander Chris Tillman, and there's plenty to be excited about moving forward, even though the Orioles’ 85-win season was unquestionably a disappointment following 2012’s out-of-nowhere playoff run.
Because the Orioles have a strong core of players -- Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy, Davis, Machado and Tillman – that’s also why this offseason has been disappointing.
Instead of adding, they’ve subtracted. The club traded closer Jim Johnson to the Oakland Athletics and let second baseman Brian Roberts, outfielder Nate McLouth and right-hander Scott Feldman walk via free agency.
While the New York Yankees and Red Sox reloaded, the Orioles picked at scraps. And even when they tried to add a player, it didn’t work. After agreeing to a two-year, $15-million deal with free-agent closer Grant Balfour, the Orioles stepped away from the deal after a concern arose during Balfour’s physical, prompting a PR mess that only time – or a big acquistion – will truly heal.
As we all switch the calendar to 2014, what will you remember the most from 2013?