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Fan-friendly and consistent, Adam Jones approaching legend status in Baltimore

Fan-friendly and consistent, Adam Jones approaching legend status in Baltimore

Orioles fans are on a first name basis with the franchise’s all-time greats.

There’s Brooks, Frank, Eddie, Boog, Brady, Cal—and soon they’ll be joined by Adam. 

Adam Jones, already one of the best players in Orioles franchise history, will soon leave an unforgettable mark on the team. 

It’s not just his outsized personality or his record of community involvement. It's his ability to connect with fans.

Check out the concourse before an Orioles game and you'll see dozens of African American fans--and not a few white fans--wearing his jersey. 

Even though Jones doesn’t live in Baltimore fulltime, he’s one of the few Orioles to own property here, and he gets Baltimore. 

One of the best investments the Orioles made in recent years was their six-year extension to Jones. With two years remaining on it, Jones has been remarkably consistent. 

He’s hit 25 or more home runs and driven in 80 runs for six straight seasons. 

While his batting average dipped to .265 and he had a rough last month of the season, batting just .223 from Sept. 2 on, Jones hit much better after he was moved to the leadoff spot in late May.

Jones was hitting just .223 on May 27, and hit .282 as a leadoff batter. 

Manager Buck Showalter wants to move Jones out of the leadoff spot, thinking Jones will be more productive lower in the lineup. 

The 2017 lineup isn’t likely to feature Mark Trumbo, so there’ll be a place for Jones. Of course, the Orioles will have to find a suitable leadoff hitter to replace him. 

In the season just past, Jones continued to climb up the Orioles all-time lists.

He’s currently ninth in hits with 1,448, but with 167 hits next year, he would end 2017 trailing only Cal Ripken, Brooks Robinson and Eddie Murray on the all-time list. 

Jones currently trails Brian Roberts by four hits and Ken Singleton by seven. With a hundred more hits, he’ll pass Nick Markakis, and he’s 126 away from Boog Powell. Brady Anderson is fourth with 1,614 hits.

Jones is already sixth on the team’s homer list with 222. With his next home run, he’ll tie Rafael Palmeiro for fifth place, and with two seasons left on his contract, he’ll take aim at Brooks Robinson’s 268 homers. 

His contractual situation may be a tricky one. While he’s had an outstanding four years, the Orioles need to address Chris Tillman, Manny Machado and perhaps Zach Britton and Jonathan Schoop before they get around to a player who’ll be 33 two years from now. 

Jones could make it easy (or harder) on them if he has two more years approaching his last four. 

He was the first of this group to sign an extension, in May 2012, and since them he’s watched J.J. Hardy, Darren O’Day and Chris Davis follow suit. 

His place in team history is assured even though without a World Series title, they may not erect a seventh statue to honor him. 

Jones’ time in Baltimore has been honorable. Not only the community involvement and the stellar play, but in recent years he’s become the team spokesman. 

In the latter part of 2015 and through much of 2016, Jones has been the go-to guy—not when the team wins—but when it loses—and others hide. 

His best interviews have come after bad streaks, bad losses or controversial incidents. 

Jones was won over by Hyun Soo Kim, and when a beer can was tossed at Kim during the wild-card game in Toronto, there was Jones looking for the miscreant and addressing it afterward. 

In his time in Baltimore he’s seen treasured teammates leave. He hurt when Nick Markakis, who he admired for his lack of pretension, left two years ago. 

He stood up for Davis and met with Peter Angelos to make a case for increased payroll and refused to knock Orioles fans for small crowds at crucial games. 

This offseason, Jones could see Matt Wieters, who’s second to him in tenure, go as well. 

He knows not to get too attached to teammates. When Steve Clevenger made disparaging comments on Twitter, Jones said that most of his teammates were acquaintances and not friends. 

But, he is attached to speaking out on social issues. Last month after he spoke about race and baseball to a national publication, Jones followed that up with a 12 ½ minute interview about the subject, both reiterating and expanding on his comments, which were perfectly reasonable. 

It’s perfectly reasonable to expect at least two more good seasons—and maybe more—from Jones, excuse me, from Adam. 

Cal, Brooks, Frank, Boog, Adam. Sounds about right. 

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Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

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USA Today Sports

Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

BALTIMORE  -- Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman will wear No. 34 next season as a tribute to Roy Halladay, who was killed in a plane crash last month.

Gausman announced the switch Thursday on his Twitter account. The right-hander wore No. 39 last year.

Gausman and Halladay are both from Colorado, and the Orioles pitcher said he followed Halladay's career closely and idolized him.

In a post next a photo of his new jersey, Gausman wrote: "Roy gave me the inspiration that I could fulfill even my biggest of dreams -- being a pitcher just like him."

Gausman concluded: "The loss of Roy is tragic and saddening, but I feel honored to have watched everything he achieved."

Halladay died on Nov. 7 when his small plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. He played 16 big league seasons, winning the Cy Young Award in each league and being named an All-Star eight times.

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Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

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USA TODAY Sports

Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

HOUSTON (AP) -- Home runs kept flying over the wall at Minute Maid Park, on line drives up toward the train tracks, on fly balls that just dropped over the fence.

Seven more were hit in Game 5, raising the total to a World Series record 22 -- with two possible more games to play. Twenty-five runs were scored in a game started by the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and the Astros' Dallas Keuchel, Cy Young Award winners regarded as among baseball's best.

After a season when sluggers outpaced even their steroid-era predecessors for home runs, some are convinced that something is amiss with the baseballs.

"The main complaint is that the balls seem a little bit different in the postseason, and even from the postseason to the World Series balls," Justin Verlander said Sunday, two days before he takes the mound in Game 6 and tries to pitch the Astros to their first title. "They're a little slick. You just deal with it. But I don't think it's the case of one pitcher saying, `Hey, something is different here.' I think as a whole, everybody is saying, `Whoa, something is a little off here.'"

A record eight home runs were hit in Game 2, including five in extra innings, and Game 5's seven long balls would have tied the old mark. The 13-12, 10-inning Astros' win Sunday night was the second-highest scoring game in Series history.

Keuchel was quoted as saying after Game 2: "Obviously, the balls are juiced."

Not so obvious to everyone, even amid the power surge.

"I haven't personally noticed anything. I haven't tried to think about it either," Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow said after giving up two homers in Game 5. "It's not something you want to put in your own head."

Same for Kershaw, even after giving up his record eighth homer of the postseason Sunday.

"I don't really pay attention to it," Kershaw said. "I just assume that both sides are dealing with it, so I'm not going to worry about it."

This year's long ball assault topped the 21 of the 2002 Series. Anaheim hit seven and Barry Bonds and his San Francisco Giants slugged 14 over seven games. That was the year before survey drug testing.

Speculation that something has changed includes a study claiming to have found differences in the size and seam height of balls since the 2015 All-Star break.

"I know there was talk about different sizes and some of the baseballs were slightly bigger and some were smaller. Some of the seams were higher, some of the seams were lower. But, no, it's been consistent," said Rich Hill, who will start Game 6 for the Dodgers. "I think that just has to do with conditions -- if it's colder it's going to be slicker. If it's a little bit warmer out or humid, I think you're going to find that you're going to have a little bit more of moisture to the baseballs."

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred insists nothing nefarious is going on.

"I'm absolutely confident that the balls that we're using are within our established specifications," he said Friday.

Verlander rejected that assertion.

"I know Mr. Manfred said the balls haven't changed, but I think there's enough information out there to say that's not true," he said.

Verlander also does not think it's an issue of how balls are rubbed up before games.

"I know baseball uses the same mud for every single ball for every single game that's played," he said. "I think there's a broader issue that we're all missing."

On the day he become commissioner in January 2015, Manfred said, "I'm cognizant in the drop in offense over the last five years, and it's become a topic of conversation in the game, and it's something that we're going to have to continue to monitor and study."

Offense started rebounding during the second half of the season, and a record 6,105 home runs were hit this year, 2.4 percent more than the previous mark of 5,963 set in 2000 at the height of the Steroids Era.

"I think it's pretty clear," Verlander said. "I think our commissioner has said publicly that they wanted more offense in the game. I'm pretty sure I'm not fabricating a quote here when I say that. I think it was already All-Star break of `15, or right before, when he said that."

San Francisco's Johnny Cueto and Toronto's Marcus Stroman also think the balls have changed, with Stroman blaming slick balls for a rise in pitcher blisters -- an affliction which has struck Hill a few times in the past couple seasons, too.

Houston's Brent Strom and the Dodgers' Rick Honeycutt, the World Series pitching coaches, both were quoted by Sports Illustrated on Sunday as saying the slickness of the ball made throwing sliders difficult.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I don't see a ton difference, but I'm not going to get in a verbal war with coaches and players who think otherwise."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had a similar view but acknowledged the power records got his attention.

"The pitchers talk about it feels different in their hand. The one component is the slickness and guys at different ballparks rub it up differently," he said. "Sort of feels the same to me. But it's hard to argue the numbers. You know there's more velocity. Guys are swinging harder. I know in Los Angeles the air was light. It was hot. The ball was flying, carrying more than typically. But I hesitate to try to give you any insight because I really don't know."

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