Yesterday the Orioles held their annual Fanfest at the Baltimore Convention Center and it was a good time.
First of, the place was packed. When My friend Josh and I arrived a little before 10 AM, to attend the "State of the Orioles" forum for season ticket hoders the line stretched around the convention center's west building. The most official number from the Baltimore Sun had about 10,000 fans pack the center, and it definitely felt packed in the morning.
The State of the Orioles Forum
I really like these forums but, much like the annual State of the Union Address, nothing Earth-shattering comes out of them. General Manager Andy MacPhail and Manager Buck Showalter each had an initial statement where they praised the work of the team in the off season and pledged to do everything they can to continue the momentum and goodwill built up at the end of last year. The Q+A session bore slightly more interesting fruit; A constant topic of conversation was, of course, Vladimir Guerrero. When questioned MacPhail gave his best non-answer, trying to give a legitimate response while understanding that this is an on-going negotiation and he simply can't say all he might wish. Reading between the lines a bit there I would say it is a good bet that Vladdy starts the year as an Oriole. Yesterday ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted:
Heard this:O's settled with their position in the Vlad talks.O's want him at their price(package $4.5-5 m.).If not, they'll live with it.
I think the Orioles get this deal done, they don't need to get the deal done and we can argue what the direct impact of the deal will be on the team but I can't argue with the concept nor the suspected monies involved.
As always there is a question about Sabermetrics. Now if you don't know what Sabermetrics are, what are you doing here? Seriously though, Sabermetrics (or SABR) is basically a new field of advanced statistical analysis for baseball. And every year at Fanfest someone asks the manager how does SABR play into your decisions? Now, I am not knocking the SABR crowd here but everytime I hear that question get asked to a big league manager, especially if they start throwing out the acronyms, I get this image of Shatner at a Trek convention being asked about this minute detail or flaw in one episode of a show he did 30 years ago. He answers the question politely and to the best of his ability but deep down inside he is thinking: "nerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrd".
Buck responded well stating that "I want the stat to back up my gut, not my gut made by stats." Buck doesn't strike me as a SABR guy, and if it works for him so be it. Let's hope it continues to work for us.
After the opening forum my friends and I milled about the crowd, we decided to forgo the autograph sessions this year; not because of some misplaced frustration over the new policy (I am all about giving money to charity) I just didn't really feel like waiting around for signatures this year.
2011 Orioles Fan Fest Photos