Baltimore Orioles

Will the Orioles play spoiler to the Yankees? Sunday Night Baseball announcer Matt Vasgersian doesn't think so

The 2011 Orioles knew the Boston Red Sox were trying to scrape a place for themselves in the playoffs. But the O’s had other plans, choking them and winning on a two-out ninth inning single in a game that kept the Red Sox out of October.

This time, it’s the New York Yankees that are under stress. No, it’s not late September, but it’s true that the playoff-bound Yankees have been struggling lately — splitting a series to the Miami Marlins, losing another to the Tampa Bay Rays and dropping a one-game set to the New York Mets, to name a few.


It’s also true that New York has only managed a .500 (6-6) season record against the Orioles.

But will the Orioles play spoiler this time around? Sunday Night Baseball play-by-play announcer Matt Vasgersian doesn’t think so.


“That Orioles team, it was a little bit more veteran-heavy,” he said of the 2011 Orioles in an interview with The Baltimore Sun. “I just think, gosh, especially from the pitching bullpen standpoint, there are so many young players [now] that may or may not be around for the rebuild in Baltimore, and I don't know if you could count on them playing spoiler.”

Though he hasn’t seen much of these Orioles lately, he looks forward to their future, after the rebuild. Players like Cedric Mullins or some bullpen pitchers who survive the overhaul could be exciting pieces down the road.

But as of right now, Vasgersian acknowledges it’s a little odd to single out the Orioles under a national spotlight. Though 16 percent of the Orioles’ wins have come from beating the Yankees, they’re still putting the team with the worst record in baseball on ESPN’s Sunday feature in late August.

“It does kind of jump out at you,” he said. “You're like Orioles/Yankees. OK. Cool. Fans might look at this pairing and think, 'That's an unusual choice.’ ”

Selection of games isn’t up to Vasgersian. But if he had to guess, he’d say it had more to do with the Orioles’ guests than the O’s themselves.

“I think it's clear that the Yankees are kind of dictating that choice. I think we can all concede that point as being true,” he said. “But, look, the Yankees are the sexiest thing not only in baseball right now but in sports. The Red Sox, as good as they are, the Yankees rate. People want to see Yankee baseball, and, even though the Orioles are in a ‘rebuild’ mode right now, [Camden Yards] is still a great setting for baseball.”

As for the match-up itself, while he believes there’s no bad pairing possible in the sport, it’s impossible to ignore the glaringly different places both teams are at at this point. Vasgersian compares the Orioles sometimes to the 1962 New York Mets, who went 40–120 in their inaugural season. He could also see them tussling with another canonically bad team, the fictional Cleveland Indians from the film “Major League,” but thinks the Orioles would probably win.

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“Andrew Cashner could get [the fictional character] Pedro Cerrano with a steady diet of sinkers, and there wouldn't be a problem,” he said.


Even so, Vasgersian asserts that his team, even with a former Yankee in the booth, aren’t out to tear the Birds down more than the summer already has.

“We're going to be fair about it. They're having a historically bad season, and there's no running away from that. There's a lot of questions about not only who's gonna be on the field but who's gonna be making the decisions moving forward because, you know, famously Buck [Showalter] and Dan [Duquette] are both in ‘walk years’ in their deals,” he said.

“I think I speak for the [Sunday Night Baseball] group, for our production team, and I know I speak for Alex [Rodriguez] and Jess [Mendoza] because we've discussed this — we have way too much respect for Buck specifically and the Orioles organization in general to pile on.”

Vasgersian enjoys Camden Yards, and he thinks there might be an added bonus to getting to do Sunday’s call. He might have the honor of calling one Oriole’s last weekend home game in Baltimore.

“I don't know, I don't have any information on this, but I still think there's a chance that [Adam] Jones is moved before the 31st,” he said. “The Indians are the team I had in mind specifically. He would be such a perfect fit there. A right-handed hitting outfielder. They're going to play in the postseason. I'm about a big of Adam Jones fan as there is, and I'd love to see him. ... I know he'd love a chance to play in the World Series.”

Maybe, he says, Jones will even put on pinstripes.