Welcome to the first series of 2012! The Minnesota Twins (0-0) take on the Baltimore Orioles (0-0) at beautiful Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Friday, April 6: RHP Carl Pavano vs. RHP Jake Arrietta, 2:05 p.m. CDT
According to weather.com, conditions in Baltimore will be absolutely perfect. Daytime temperatures for all three days will be in the mid 60s with zero chance of rain. The Saturday game might be a little chilly, since it’s played at night. Saturday’s low will dip to 47 degrees.
The Head to Head:
In a rivalry with a 111 year history (counting the Twins’ time in Washington), the head-to-head record is surprisingly close. The Orioles have the advantage, though, with 949 wins to the Twins’ 935.
Since the O’s moved to their park at Camden Yards, the Twins are just 37-48 in games played in Baltimore.
Both teams would like to erase 2011 from their memories. As we all know, the Twins stumbled to a 63-99 record, worst in the American League. Until late September, the Orioles gave the Twins a little competition for that dubious distinction – they ended up with a 69-93 mark. For Minnesota, the losing season came as a massive surprise, thanks to a plethora of injuries and a roster that underachieved in nearly every aspect of the game. For Baltimore, it was the 14th consecutive losing season. The Birds have not won more than they lost since a 98 win campaign in 1997.
Both teams have something to prove this year, and the proof starts this weekend. The Twins may have an easier task making their case, since they play in the relatively weak AL Central. The Orioles, on the other hand, have absolutely no room for error in the perilous East.
You’ve heard all offseason about how the Twins need to stay healthy, and how the season will depend on the health of a few key players and the ability of some youngsters to take on expanded roles. Do not worry about any of that this weekend. This weekend is all about enjoying the return of baseball. Sit back, pop a cold brew (or a cold soda if you’re not a drinker), and enjoy the game.
If you have not already taken today off work, call in sick. If you’re already at work, fake an illness and go home. This is Opening Day!
The Other Side:
For the Orioles’ fans perspective on this series, we sent three questions to Domenic Vadala, Managing Editor of Birds Watcher, the greatest Orioles website on Earth.
1. How do you think the O’s will do this year?
DV: In my season preview which is currently available on Birds Watcher, I predicted 72 wins which is slightly more than what most are saying or thinking. My reasoning is that the Orioles would have been better over the past 2-3 years had they not been decimated by injuries. There were back-to-back weeks at various points where guys were dropping like flies. Granted that could still be the case in 2012, however this year the organization has better depth than it did last season so I think they’re better equipped to deal with it. The season really banks on the starting rotaiton, how effective they are, and whether or not they can stay healthy.
2. It’s the 20th anniversary of the park at Camden Yards. Is it still as nice as when it opened?
DV: In my opinion Oriole Park at Camden Yards is the nicest venue for a sporting event in this country. It was the first ballpark of it’s kind, and when the Orioles trademarked the phrase “the ballpark that forever changed baseball,” they did so with good reason. This past off season there have been several upgrades to the ballpark such as a party deck in centerfield, a new restaurant that will feature food items and a brewery run by former Oriole Rick Dempsey, and some eventually statues of all Orioles in the Hall of Fame. So there are several aspects of Camden Yards that will be new to all of us this year. However one thing that won’t change is that it’s the best ballpark in baseball, even 20 years later. The sightlines are better than anywhere else, and the structure and the feel of the park is uniquely “Baltimore.”
3. Can we please have J.J. Hardy back?