Even before the first pitch of the weekend series between the Orioles and the Rays, we already know that the three upcoming games will get special marks in the annals of baseball history. In light of the recent riots and events in Baltimore, Major League Baseball has decided to move the weekend series against the Orioles to the Tropicana Field.
This is a far better alternative than the O's and White Sox face, who will play an afternoon game in front of an empty stadium at Camden Yards. The match will be today's free match up on the MLB.tv app.
Concerned to not alter the matches any further, MLB chose to consider the Orioles as the "home team," a decision that will lead the Rays to wear their away uniforms at home, and also to bat first. Baseball history is long and full of odd events, but this might very well be a true
first third fourth fifth (after some additional research, it appears that the Blue Jays played a home game against Philly in Philly because of security concerns surrounding the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto, the Astros played a home game in Milwaukee against the Cubs because of Hurricane Ike, the Marlins played a home game in Seattle because of a U2 concert, and the Reds played a home game in San Francisco because of difficulty rescheduling a rainout [h/t PrestigeWorldwide96 on that last two]).
During the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, Dodgers baseball games were postponed and held later during the season in L.A, but they were not 'relocated' as the Orioles-Rays series will be.
Chris Archer, the Rays' union representative, said that it would be "strange to start a game at his home park and not pitch until the bottom of the first inning," but noted it was for the best, given the situation. Archer expressed his concerns to Tony Clark, the executive director of the Players' association, making it clear that the team didn't want to play in Camden Yards:
As soon as we saw how severe it was getting there, I texted Tony Clark and said, ‘Hey, we have some guys that were concerned for their safety,' maybe not for them personally, but wives and children, traveling separately," Archer said. "There's no way we were going to allow them to come on the trip alone. That's a place where we walk to the field, and it's in the heart of downtown. They said everything was moving downtown."
A matter of safety that the league understood in its totality, as well as the Orioles owner, Peter Angelos, who put the safety of the Baltimore fans above any other consideration according to the Commissioner Rob Manfred.
"Mr. Angelos, from the first minute of the very first conversation we had last night, put the safety and well-being of the Baltimore fans above any other consideration, competitive or monetary," Manfred said.
As for the series in itself, it will surely be odd to see this in action, although there isn't much else to do, considering the situation in Baltimore, as said the Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times:
"At the end of all of it, really without a lot of discussion with us at all, it was decided to play the games at Tropicana Field," Stuart Sternberg said.
"It's going to be odd for our fans to be there and we won't have our normal game presentation," he said. "There won't be any horns going off for the eight home runs we hit in the three games or anything."
Hopefully, the situation will get better soon in Baltimore and the current social environment over the country will get less tense. A feeling shared by Baltimore-native Brandon Guyer:
"What's going on there is out of control and it's ridiculous. It's a shame that we can't go there and go play, but hopefully at the end of the day they can get it under control and get that city back in order."
Sports in general are sometimes creating tensions and rivalries among fans, but this time it could also be the occasion to create a feeling of unity and bring back a better spirit in light of the recent events.
All tickets will be sold as General Admission tickets in the lower level only (excluding the DEX Imaging Home Plate Club) and will go on sale to the public at noon today, Wednesday, April 29. Tickets are available online at raysbaseball.com, all Ticketmaster outlets, the Rays Tampa Store (400 N. Tampa St.) and the Gate 1 Tropicana Field Box Office, or over the phone at 888-FAN-RAYS and 1-800-745-3000.
The Rays vs. Orioles series schedule and ticket prices:
Friday, May 1 7:05 p.m. General Admission $15
Saturday, May 2 7:05 p.m. General Admission $18
Sunday, May 3 1:35 p.m. General Admission $15
Entry: Gates 1, 4, 5, 6 ONLY; an hour and a half before game time.
Parking: lots 1, 2, 6, 7 ONLY; two hours prior to game time; $15 per car and free for cars with 4 or more passengers on Sunday.
- Masahiro Tanaka is headed to the disabled list with multiple arm ailments, so the Rays will be facing Michael Pineda this afternoon, at 1:05. Drew Smyly gets the start.
- It looks like Grant Balfour has cleared waivers, and is on his way to a new club.
Thought maybe the #MNTwins would have interest in a Balfour reunion -- cleared today. But told he's signing elsewhere.— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) April 28, 2015
- Baseball Prospectus came up with a new statistic, and a pretty big one: Deserved Run Average. Compared to the ERA, this stat is supposed to measure a pitcher more accurately, in terms of his past performance. The best part? The whole article is free to read. The even better part? The two current leaders in terms of DRA are the Rays own Jake Odorizzi and Chris Archer.
- Still at BP, the Lineup card takes a look back at Craig Biggio Hall of Fame Career and its major events.
- Jeff Sullivan from Fangraphs wades into the DH debate by pointing at the worst month in history in terms of pitchers' WRC+
- The Hardball Times looks at the Day/Nights splits performances according to the eye color of the players.
- In a good fashion of mixing scouting and sabermetrics, Kevin Ruprecht from Beyond the Box Score wrote a piece about pitching mechanics and results over time.