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O'Day on which MLB stadiums have best bullpens

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O'Day on which MLB stadiums have best bullpens

BALTIMORE – For eight years, Darren O’Day has sat in big league bullpens. That’s long enough to form firm opinions on life outside the field of play.

O’Day is the Orioles’ player representative, and he has definite likes and dislikes.

“The most important thing is probably shade. The second most important thing is comfort of the bench,” O’Day said.

Twenty-six of the current 30 major league ballparks have bullpens off the field, only four have bullpens on the foul lines: San Francisco’s AT&T Park, Oakland’s O.Co.Coliseum, Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field and Chicago’s Wrigley Field.

While fans and writers may rate AT&T Park and Wrigley Field as favorites, O’Day is thinking about his job.

“All the bullpens need to get off the field. It’s not inhibiting me. It’s not hurting my performance, but if you want to have really happy bullpen guys, you’ve got to get them off the field,” O’Day said.

Oakland, Tampa Bay and Wrigley come in for particular disdain. Wrigley “might be the worst one in the league,” he remarks.

Of parks opened in the last 15 years, only AT&T Park was built with bullpens on the field, and next year, Wrigley is scheduled to move its bullpens to the outfield beneath the stands next year, a move heartily supported by O’Day.

“If you build it and leave a little bit of space where guys get a little bit of sun, it’s perfect really. Houston’s a tunnel and it’s one of my favorite bullpens,” O’Day said.

“If you’re sitting in a day game at Wrigley, and there’s no shade, that’s a tough one. It’s no fun.”

Fans who are visiting parks with bullpens on the field might enjoy them because they can easily see who’s warming up, and if you sit close, you may get to eavesdrop.

O’Day isn’t sympathetic.

“There’s no shade. They’re on the field. We like to have our own little space,” O’Day said.

He doesn’t necessarily dislike fan interaction.

“Depends on if you can get away from them. In Tampa, you can’t. People are sitting two feet right behind you, and they get in your conversations and just talk to you the whole game, and you can’t get away. You can’t pull a chair away from the wall because umpires yell at you,” O’Day said.

“Sometimes you get great fans, and they’re nice. You just talk to them. Sometimes you get people you don’t want to be near. I enjoy being close to fans as long as once it’s time to focus on the game, you get away from them.”

What makes a good bullpen?

“New York’s got a little room where you can go get some AC. Detroit has AC. That’s always nice. I thought Miami would be cool because there’s a nightclub next to it. There’s interesting people to look at, but really it got old very quickly just because of the techno music,” O’Day said.

“Pitchers usually like to see games from the pitchers point of view. The closer I can be to center field, the happier I am. The more I feel like I’m into the game. When you’re on the lines, obviously you can see the game up close, but it’s from a different angle. I’d rather be able to be out in center field, right or left-center, to be able to watch and see how pitches are moving, how the umpires’ strike zone is.

“Tthe farther back from the fence you are, in Cleveland or Philly, you’re way up there, you feel like you’re kind of detached from the game. My favorite bullpen of all them is probably Seattle. It’s comfortable, there’s heaters, there’s a roof, good coffee, there’s people to look at over the wall if you want to, and you’re right next to the fence, so you feel like you’re right next to the fence.”

If you’re looking for O’Day, don’t expect to see him at first pitch. He usually spends the early innings in the clubhouse.

“I watch our team hit from the bench before I go out. Sometimes I do that. For pitchers at least, you’re going to learn a lot more by watching the game on TV because you can see the umpires strike zone, you can see the batters in the box. That’s where we do our work from, is from the pitchers’ view behind the mound. If there’s a TV in the bullpen, guys watch it intently,” O’Day believes.

The clubhouse moments are important.

“I’m old. I like a little quiet time,” O’Day said.

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

The Orioles have finally found their man.

After entering the Winter Meetings without having yet hired their new manager, a rarity in this era of baseball, the Orioles announced Friday that they had hired Brandon Hyde to fill the role.

Hyde joins the organization after spending half a decade in Chicago under Joe Maddon, and many years prior with the Marlins. He has a long background in player development, something that was important to new Orioles GM Mike Elias, which makes sense considering the state of the organization and their upcoming rebuilding process.

Hyde is 45, so he’ll have the opportunity to stick in Baltimore for a long time if he finds success, however, Elias defines it, in the next few seasons. Many times, the manager leading a team as it embarks on an organizational rebuild is not the same one who leads them back into contention, but the Orioles front office will certainly hope Hyde is up to both tasks.
 
“After conducting an intensive search, I believe that we have found the ideal leader for the next era of Orioles baseball,” said Mike Elias, Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager, in a statement released Friday.

“Brandon’s deep background in player development and Major League coaching, most recently helping to shape the Cubs into a World Champion, has thoroughly prepared him for this job and distinguished him throughout our interview process. I look forward to introducing him to our fans next week and to working together with him to build the next great Orioles team.”

Elias was thought to have preferred someone with Major League experience, so as to avoid saddling an up-and-coming manager with multiple 90-plus loss seasons inevitably on the horizon in Baltimore. Hyde technically has experience coaching in the big leagues, though it comes in the form of a single game. The Marlins lost his one game as acting manager 2-1 to the Rays, and Jack McKeon was named interim manager the next day.

Maddon has developed a reputation as a stellar communicator and somebody open to analytics, and it stands to reason that Hyde would follow a similar style of leadership, especially considering how critical those traits are in the eyes of Elias.

Hyde replaces Buck Showalter, a beloved figure in Baltimore after his 8 ½ seasons at the helm brought winning baseball back to a city desperate for relevancy. Showalter’s contract was not renewed at the end of this past season, an understandable decision given his age and how long it will be until the franchise is ready to compete again.

Reports swirled about Hyde being named the 20th manager in franchise history as early as Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, though Elias and the front office were quick to emphasize that nothing was official at the time. In the end, Hyde does end up accepting the job, and he’ll be introduced at a press conference Monday.

Nationals bench coach Chip Hale was, along with Hyde, one of six finalists who interviewed for the position, so the Nats won’t be losing a valuable piece of their staff.

The Orioles are in the honeymoon phase of the rebuild, where hope springs eternal and the losses to come haven’t set in yet. Hyde checks all the boxes for what Elias was looking for, and despite his relative inexperience, he’s someone who should excite, if not necessarily inspire, the fanbase in Charm City.

Orioles fans won’t have many exciting acquisitions to cheer on in the near future, but they may have just made one of their most impactful. The O’s finally have their GM-Manager combination set for the foreseeable future, and they’ll hope to experience as much success and more as the previous regime.

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Orioles GM Elias calls reports of Brandon Hyde being next manager "premature"

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Orioles GM Elias calls reports of Brandon Hyde being next manager "premature"

Orioles new general manager Mike Elias is a busy man out in Las Vegas. Not only is he looking to add much needed talent to Baltimore's roster but he is also searching for a new manager. Elias interviewed six candidates, including Nationals bench coach Chip Hale, for the vacancy. On Monday, Elias said they were “pretty far along in the process.”

Then the reports surfaced on Tuesday that the Orioles had found their man. 

For a second straight year, Joe Maddon's bench coach has landed a managerial job (Davey Martinez). 

But, in the words of College Gameday's Lee Corso "Not so fast my friend!"

Does that mean Hyde is not the manager? Not necessarily. It likely means Elias wants the news to come out on his terms.