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A quarter-century old, Oriole Park at Camden Yards still setting the standard

A quarter-century old, Oriole Park at Camden Yards still setting the standard

Next year, Oriole Park at Camden Yards will celebrate its 25th anniversary, and it’s still great.

According to a survey of all 30 major league ballparks by Stadium Journey, it’s ranked the highest. 

I’m often asked about my favorite ballparks. I’ve been to 53 major league parks—all 30 current ones—and 23 no longer in use. 

Of the 30 contemporary ones, and I’m including Atlanta’s Turner Field, which will be replaced for next season by SunTrust Park, there aren’t any awful ones. 

Even some of the ones that Stadium Journey ranks among the lowest—Milwaukee’s Miller Park, Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field, Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field, Miami’s Marlins Park and Oakland’s Coliseum, have some redeeming features for fans. 

The park we’re most familiar with here has some competition for the top spot. San Francisco’s AT&T Park and Pittsburgh’s PNC Park have many champions and are highly rated in this survey. In particular, I’m impressed with the Giants’ home with its dynamic view of the Bay and intimate feel. 

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Stadium Journey inexplicably rates Yankee Stadium 29th. Its atmosphere is great, if a bit busy, and though it’s extremely expensive, the ballpark remains impressive. 

What’s most striking about the survey is that a ballpark that’s now in middle age is still so well regarded. Most of the parks that came after it, and 21 of the 30 are newer, are still well behind Oriole Park in many ways. 

Three years ago the Braves announced they were going to replace Turner Field, built for the 1996 Olympics, and it hosted its first baseball game five years after Camden Yards. 

While that was a shock, it shouldn’t then be surprising that Texas’ Globe Life Park in Arlington (opened in 1995) and Arizona’s Chase Field (1998) may soon be replaced. 

The Orioles’ home doesn’t look much different than it did in 1992. It truly revolutionized ballparks, and those that were built just before it, Toronto’s Rogers Centre (opened in 1989) and U.S. Cellular Field (1991) look as if they’re from a different and faraway time. 

A few years back, the Orioles added a roof deck in center field, but other than that, there haven’t been many major changes though the team continues to study improvements. 

There are certainly a few things that be improved. Other than Boog’s Barbecue, the food choices, particularly for non-meat eaters aren’t great, the sound system isn’t wonderful, and compared with many newer stadiums, the scoreboard is small and sometimes hard to read. 

Watching a game at Oriole Park is still wonderful. The view is great, and while it’s disappointing when the stands aren’t full, the ticket and particularly the parking prices, aren’t terribly expensive, especially when compared with Nationals Park. 

One of my favorite parts of covering a game there are the fans. During the 2014 season, I began showing off their dedication by showcasing a jersey of a former Oriole each game.

Most fans wear a jersey featuring a current favorite: Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones and Manny Machado, but I enjoy finding an obscure one. 

How many other parks have fans wearing jerseys of players from 40 40 or 50 years ago? This past season, I found fans wearing Luis Aparacio, Curt Blefary and Dave McNally jerseys. 

While Oriole Park has yet to host a World Series, there’s still hope. When it was still new, Cleveland’s Progressive Field, then Jacobs Field, hosted World Series in 1995 and 1997.

At that time, it vied with Camden Yards as one of baseball’s top parks. More than two decades later, it’s fallen to the middle of the pack. 

The hope here is that 25 years from now, Oriole Park will continue to provide joy to fans in this area, and that it will still be considered one of baseball’s best. 

RELATED: ADAM JONES CLOSING IN ON LEGENDARY STATUS IN BALTIMORE

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Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

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USA Today Sports Images

Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

Live baseball is close to gracing our television screens again. The Orioles haven't had the most active offseason, to put it mildly. Fans are still wondering who will make up more than half the spots in this year's rotation, and Manny Machado's upcoming free agency is looming over every decision the organization makes.

Still, it's exciting to be able to follow the team again. Not every game is televised, so get ready to constantly refresh your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll be comforting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Jonathan Schoop is building on his breakout season, or if top-prospect Austin Hays is all he's cracked up to be (spoiler: he is).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing in the next few weeks. The O's haven't yet made a big splash this offseason, but with the sheer volume of capable players still on the market, you have to wonder if they'll try to sign some impact players at bargain values.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the lineup or rotation has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be taking place while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hecticfew weeks as teams prepare for thier seasons, so bookmark this page to check on on the Orioles spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Orioles 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Feb. 26 - Tigers at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Cardinals at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 1 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Tuesday, Mar. 6 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 9 - Orioles at Blue Jays, 1:07 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 (SS) - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Phillies at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Orioles at Pirates, 1:05 pm 
Tuesday, Mar. 13 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 14 - Yankees at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Orioles at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 - Orioles at Mets, 1:10 pm 
Saturday, Mar. 17 (SS) - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Mets at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Orioles at Tigers, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Rays at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Orioles at Yankees, 6:35 pm 
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Mar. 27 (in Norfolk, VA) - Orioles at Tides (AAA), 3:05 pm

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Baltimore Orioles add to their rotation, sign RHP Andrew Cashner

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Orioles add to their rotation, sign RHP Andrew Cashner

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Baltimore Orioles signed right-hander Andrew Cashner to a two-year, $16 million contract on Thursday after searching for starting pitching all offseason.

The 31-year-old Cashner is 42-64 with a 3.80 ERA in eight major league seasons with the Chicago Cubs, San Diego, Miami and Texas, including 11-11 with a 3.40 ERA for the Rangers last year. The deal with the Orioles has an option for 2020.

He'll join right-handers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman in the rotation.

"I do know that they need some starting pitching, and here it is, show up every day and whoever I can help out, help out and my job is to come here and pitch and win," Cashner said.

Cashner's deal could be worth $41 million over three seasons if he pitches 200 innings annually. He gets a $3 million signing bonus, payable in equal installments each Jan. 15 from 2020 through 2021.

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Cashner has salaries of $5 million this season and $8 million in 2019, and there is a $10 million option for 2020 that would become guaranteed if he pitches 340 innings combined in the next two seasons. If he reaches 360 innings, it would become a player option.

He can make $5 million in performance bonuses each year.

There are $1,525,000 per season in bonuses based on starts: $250,000 each for 10 and 15, $625,000 for 20 and $400,000 for 30.

Cashner also can make $3,475,000 each year based on innings: $250,000 each for 110 and 120, $275,000 for 130, $350,000 for 140, $750,000 for 150 and $400,000 apiece for 170, 180, 190 and 200.

Cashner was at the Orioles' spring training facility, and was due to head to his Texas home for a few days before returning on Sunday when Baltimore's full squad is required to report. He'll likely work out with the team for the first time Monday.

He has little experience against the Orioles, but said he was excited to join the team.

"It's a lineup you can't really make a lot of mistakes against," Cashner said. "It's a lot of power in there, and I got to pitch (for) San Diego one year in Baltimore. Really cool stadium, really neat, a lot of history. It's one of my favorite places to pitch, so I'm looking forward to making that my home (stadium) every night."

RELATED: ORIOLES TO SHUFFLE UP INFIELD AHEAD OF MACHADO'S FINAL SEASON

Manager Buck Showalter said Cashner would be an ideal addition to the club.

"He's a veteran starter. That's a good deal for both us and him," Showalter said. "He's a guy who's pitched well in the American League. That's something that I think played in his favor."

Cashner said that he began negotiations with Orioles Vice President of Baseball Operations Brady Anderson last fall and in a challenging offseason for free agents, he said patience was vital.

"I don't think it's been difficult. It's been interesting. It's been different," Cashner said.

To make room for Cashner on the 40-man roster, Baltimore placed left-hander Zach Britton (Achilles) on the 60-day disabled list.