Fast forward nine years, and the Orioles now boast three black faces in the form of Cedric Mullins, Aaron Hicks, and Jack Flaherty and after defeating the Nationals 5-1 on Wednesday night, they can clinch the AL East division for the first time since 2014 with a win on Thursday.
“I’m extremely impressed by the grit of our team, how tough they are, how we continue to battle,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
As the Orioles set their sights on the division and ultimately reaching the World Series for the first time since 1983, these three MLBbros will undoubtedly be at the forefront of their efforts. However, their success will hinge on their ability to elevate their performance when it matters most.
“The attitude for each of us is that we’re going to be the ones to [get the job done],” Mullins said. “If not us, we know we’re passing it to the next guy, and that’s how the clubhouse scene has been. Just having faith in each other and trust in each other that we’re going to get it done.”
Cedric “CM Storm” Mullins
Mullins, the defensive linchpin of the team as the center fielder and a seasoned veteran who has battled through injuries, faces a pressing challenge. He has struggled at the plate recently, managing just one hit in his last 20 at-bats. Mullins’s defensive prowess will remain crucial, but his offensive contributions will be vital in propelling the Orioles deep into the playoffs.
“He’s a top-tier center fielder, one of the best in the league,” right-hander Kyle Bradish said. “Whenever he’s out there, the ball goes up, you think he’s going to get there.”
“Black” Jack Flaherty
Flaherty, acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals at the trade deadline, has had a rough transition to the Orioles. With a 1-3 record and a 6.68 ERA over eight games (including seven starts) and 33 and two-thirds innings pitched, Flaherty is determined to find his groove. The opposition has hit .308 against him during this span. Baltimore is counting on Flaherty’s talent to shine through as he adapts to his new surroundings and steps up in critical postseason moments.
“It’s been a lot of, ‘Do what you do,’ and, ‘Pitch the way you know how to pitch, and things will go well,’” Flaherty said of the message he’s received in Baltimore. “So that’s a good feeling to have when things kind of haven’t worked out.”
Aaron “The Avenger” Hicks
Hicks, who found himself cut loose by the Yankees earlier this season, has experienced a resurgence since returning from the injured list. In September, he boasts an impressive .351 batting average with 11 RBIs. However, he must maintain his productivity when the playoff spotlight shines brightest in October.
“We don’t have a ton of older veteran presence in our lineup, and so I was hoping that he could come here and just maybe play easy and play like he has nothing to lose, and he did that,” Hyde said.
The Orioles’ resurgence is a testament to their rebuilding efforts, especially their potent farm system that built a team capable of making a deep playoff run. But for Mullins, Hicks, and Flaherty, the limelight may shine brighter with a fanbase yearning for representation of the area to succeed.
Only one of Charm City’s top 30 prospects, Enrique Bradfield Jr., is an MLBbro. This makes it imperative for the trio to showcase their abilities on the postseason stage. In doing so, they not only contribute to their playoff aspirations but also ensure that the pipeline of talent continues to grow in marginalized communities and the culturally rich city of Baltimore.
The Baltimore Orioles officially clinched a spot in the postseason Sunday for the first time since 2016. While the excitement around this achievement is palpable, it also serves as a poignant reminder of a bygone era in Orioles baseball, personified by the legendary MLBbro Adam Jones. And as Baltimore embarks on their postseason journey, it is evident that the torch has been passed to a new generation, led by none other than MLBbro Cedric Mullins.
Jones, a transcendent athlete, five-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glover, and Silver Slugger, was the heart and soul of Orioles baseball for over a decade. Jones’s contributions and memorable moments, both for Team USA and at Camden Yards, will forever be etched in the hearts of Orioles fans.
In a symbolic gesture, Jones retired as an Oriole on Sept. 15, despite his last season on the field being in 2019. His retirement ceremony marked the end of an epoch, and his handing over the reins to the next Black staple center fielder in Mullins signaled a new beginning for the Orioles.
However, the rebuild began long before Jones’ retirement.
On Aug. 10, 2018, Jones stepped aside to allow the rookie Mullins to take center stage, symbolizing the transition of leadership.
He mentored and shared his wisdom with young talents who would later become instrumental in the Orioles’ resurgence in 2023. Players like Anthony Santander, Austin Hays, and Mullins benefited from Jones’s guidance during the challenging years of rebuilding.
“When we started to really stink in the summer of ‘17, and again in ‘18, I tried to let the young guys who were coming up — once we did all the trades — let them know that the big leagues are tough,” said Jones, who played 11 of his 14 MLB seasons for Baltimore. “’I’m not going to be this rude veteran to you guys. I’m going to try and explain the game in a crash course because we’re all going to be gone after these two months.’”
“So I just tried to explain to those guys how the Major League life is and give them the best advice I could.”
Following their clinched postseason spot, Hays, Mullins, and Santander reflected on their journey with unanimous jubilation, declaring in unison, “We did it!”
“They are leading this charge,” Jones said. “You hear them talk, they’ve been through the tough years. And to see what they have now, it’s fun that they’re getting to lead it. There’s nothing better than when you go through the mud and then you get out.”
Mullins is resilient, much like Jones during his early days in the league. After returning from the injured list on Aug. 11, he struggled initially but has since risen to the occasion. Now fully healthy, he’s returned to true captain form, making an impact offensively and with his glove. In the crucial month of September, he’s batting .268 with two doubles, three homers, and 16 RBI, heating up just in time for the Orioles’ quest for their first postseason win since 2014.
“This is something I’ve always dreamed about,” Mullins said. “For us to be able to come back from previous years, and now we’re here, it feels amazing.”
Mullins and teammates embody the grit and determination that comes with the Baltimore faithful while bringing their own fun and flavor to the game.
The future of Orioles baseball is bright, and it’s clear that Jones has played an indelible role in shaping that future. And there might not be a better player to carry the Orioles legacy than Mullins.
Jordan Walker, the rookie sensation of the St. Louis Cardinals is living a storybook first season, and he’s looking to use this late-season surge to set him up for an All-star season next year.
September has arrived, and the rise of the young slugger continues. Batting a scorching .316, with three homers, seven RBI, and three multi-hit games already in the books this month, Walker has been a force to be reckoned with on the diamond.
But the remarkable narrative that has unfolded around this 21-year-old phenom has been the cherry on top of a memorable season. As if plucked from the pages of a Hollywood script, Walker’s journey in September reads like a tale of destiny fulfilled.
Georgia Product Living His Dream
Just last week, Walker made his way to Atlanta. The city where he grew up in (Decatur, Ga.) is just down the road from Truist Park. The very same stadium where, as a child, he sat in the stands and dreamed of one day stepping onto the field as a Major League player. And step onto the field, he did, spectacularly.
“I wanted to play in the big leagues. I wanted to play [at Truist Park] and against the Braves,” Walker said, echoing the dreams that had fueled his passion since childhood.
In his first series in Atlanta, the young slugger left an indelible mark. In a poetic twist of fate, Walker not only played in the ballpark where his dreams were born but also smashed a 413-foot home run, notching three hits and just a triple shy of the cycle. The crowd erupted, and Walker’s family, including his father Derek Walker.
“If we wrote a novel about this, nobody would believe it and call it a fantasy. But this was our fantasy, and it was fantastic,” Derek said, his words encapsulating the incredible journey that his son, Jordan, had embarked upon.
“You dream about this, but you figure it’s just a dream and that’s about it. He didn’t need to do anything tonight. [Jordan] just walking on the field was 100 percent a victory for us. Everything else is just gravy.”
While Corbin Carroll may have the National League Rookie of the Year all but shipped in the mail, Walker has proven himself to be an indispensable asset to the Cardinals. Walker’s power at the plate, combined with his unwavering determination, suggests that he will be a pivotal player in the growth and success of the Cardinals for many years to come.
One thing is abundantly clear: Jordan Walker is a rising star, and his story is a testament to the power of dreams, hard work, and the belief that sometimes, even the most incredible fantasies can become a reality.
Marcus Stroman finds himself in the throes of a second rehabilitation journey, one that is marked by a different injury altogether.
The initial setback occurred when Stroman was sidelined due to a diagnosis of right hip inflammation, leading to his placement on the 15-day injured list on Aug. 2, with retroactive effect from Aug. 1.
His path to recovery appeared promising as he underwent three bullpen sessions during the team’s August road trip through New York and Toronto, eliciting encouraging signs of progress.
However, as the series concluded, Stroman reported experiencing discomfort in his side. This development led to a subsequent MRI, which unveiled an unexpected diagnosis: a right rib cage cartilage fracture.
“I’m still trying to process it,” said Stroman, who added that he has no idea how this particular injury happened.
Now, the right-hander is making his way back again. He threw a bullpen session Monday at the Cubs’ complex in Arizona.
“It was clean,” manager David Ross said. “No real issues. He’ll throw another one soon.”
Cubs Await Stroman’s Return as Playoffs Beckon
Amidst the buzz surrounding Stroman’s return to the pitching mound, one pressing question dominates the conversation: When will he rejoin the Cubs’ rotation, and can he bounce back to his best?
Chicago, who has the best record in baseball (32-14) since July 18, currently occupies the second Wild Card spot in the National League, trailing the Phillies. Before his recent injury, Stroman was in the running for the Cy Young award, boasting impressive stats with a 2.88 ERA and a .203 opposing batting average.
However, his performance took a nosedive in his last three starts before the injury, resulting in a challenging 15.30 ERA and 17 earned runs over just 10 innings pitched. The slump came just four games after the 32-year-old elected not to toe the rubber in the Midsummer Classic to get extra rest in preparation for the second half of the season.
“Listen, he’s a big part of why we’re here,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said. “He was one of the best pitchers in baseball. He’s had some struggles now, but certainly, guys have ups and downs all the time. And he really carried us for a period of time. The hope is that he gets back to that, certainly.”
Cubs’ Pitching Rotation Rises to the Occasion as Stroman Rehabs
As the 2023 All-Star makes his comeback, the Cubs are banking on his return to full health and a resurgence of his first-half form. If he can recapture his earlier dominance, the Cubs could become a sleeper team in the postseason race.
“I think a healthy version of him is a good thing for us,” Ross said. “However we use that, however he feels about that, I haven’t had conversations with Marcus. … We haven’t made any decisions today. I think we’ll get him healthy. We’ll stretch him out as far as we can, work him back to be a starter, and if we get to a point where that benefits us, great. If it doesn’t, we’ll look at another role.”
In the meantime, the Cubs rotation is holding down the fort until Stroman can get back into the mix.
“We’re right in the thick of it,” Stroman said. “You see how we’re playing. I truly believe we can win the division and once you’re in the playoffs, it’s anyone’s game. No one’s a bigger believer in the Cubs than me.”
Chicago’s rotation without Stroman is led by All-Star Justin Steele and veterans Jameson Taillon and Kyle Hendricks. Javier Assad has earned himself a spot on the staff with his recent success, while lefty Drew Smyly and righty Hayden Wesneski offer options for the fifth spot.
“It’s no secret Stro was one of the best pitchers in baseball for like two months,” Taillon said. “We would love to get him back. I really have no clue what his timeline is or where he’s going to be at, but it’s a good opportunity for me. … I have an opportunity in front of me to step up and prove why they went and got me.”
Taillon signed a four-year, $68 million contract in free agency last offseason. He will play a pivotal role on the bump and help guide this staff in Stroman’s absence.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred unveiled the launch of the Commissioner’s Ambassador Program on Tuesday, a program that is poised to reshape the way the world views America’s favorite pastime.
What’s an absolute blessing it is to be apart of this amazing group. Can’t wait to work with these amazing baseball players but ever better amazing humans trying to advance the great game of baseball. The best is yet to come!! #CAP@email@example.com/lFDKXs5H2q
“Leading the Commissioner’s Ambassador Program alongside Ryan and a group of former players who all share the same passion as we do was an opportunity I knew I couldn’t pass up,” Rollins said. “To be working with Major League Baseball after our playing careers and still have the chance to help continue growing the game we all love is a true honor. I’m excited for the work and impact this program will have on the sport.”
The program features 13 former players, rounded out by Dellin Betances, Jeremy Guthrie, Jed Lowrie, Ichiro Suzuki, Nick Swisher, and Shane Victorino, who will participate in Major League Baseball programs, represent the game at MLB events and support the league’s international growth.
“We are thrilled to begin our Ambassador Program, which will highlight the impact that former players continue to have,” Manfred said. “Their active participation in our initiatives will keep them close to the game and help us advance Major League Baseball in the future. I appreciate this group’s great enthusiasm to support the game’s growth for the next generation of fans.”
It’s evident that each player was chosen with the utmost intentionality. The group’s extraordinary success on the field is certainly a factor, but the common thread that binds these remarkable athletes is their rich and diverse ethnic backgrounds, including the Dominican Republic, Japan, Italy, Hawaii, and the myriad experiences of Black American players, this ensemble embodies the rich tapestry of global baseball.
“I’m honored to have been tasked to help lead and develop the Commissioner’s Ambassador Program,” Howard said. “Being able to work with a collection of former players, who all meant so much to this game, and having the opportunity to assist Major League Baseball in its continued efforts to expand the footprint of the sport was something I knew I wanted to be involved in.”
What Will The Ambassadors Do?
The players will bring their unique cultural backgrounds to marquee events like the All-Star Game, the MLB World Tour, and the Draft Combine, offering athletes and youngsters a familiar face to look up to. This inclusivity extends even further, encompassing MLB Together community programs and youth baseball initiatives around the country.
The profound influence of representation at the highest echelons cannot be overstated when it comes to propelling baseball’s growth across all communities. The addition of luminaries such as Howard, Rollins, Suzuki, and Betances to the Commissioner’s Office team, which already boasts trailblazers like Ken Griffey Jr., who launched the inaugural HBCU Swingman Classic at the 2023 All-Star game, along with Albert Pujols, CC Sabathia, Raul Ibañez, and Adam Jones, amplifies the diversity that will inevitably shape the aspirations of the next generation of ballplayers worldwide.
The Commissioner’s Ambassador Program stands out as a potent catalyst for authentic change in a sport that has been yearning for it, with players who have a passion for the game and its growth. Ensuring that baseball diversity within this country is a priority is also a mission of the program, which has the potential to shape not just the future of baseball but also the hearts and minds of those who cherish it.