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Fifteen years later, an Oriole remembers his 9/11 loss

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Fifteen years later, an Oriole remembers his 9/11 loss

Everyone knows where they were 15 years ago today. Everyone remembers the unspeakable tragedy of 9/11. 

It was much more personal for Keith Bodie. The 60-year-old Bodie just completed his second year in the Orioles organization, and his first year as the manager of the Frederick Keys. 

The Keys ended their season on Monday, and Bodie is back in his offseason home in Gilbert, Ariz., a long way from his native Brooklyn. 

Bodie has seen a lot of tragedy in his lifetime. His father died when he was young and his mother is gone, too. So are a brother and sister, and tragically, so is his cousin, Nicholas Chiofalo.

For years, Bodie had tried to make the major leagues as a player, coach and manager, but it wasn’t until Sept. 9, 2001 that he joined the Kansas City Royals. 

Bodie had finished a successful season as the manager of the Royals’ Double-A team in Wichita, and his reward was a promotion to the big leagues. 

On Sept. 11, Bodie began his day watching news reports of the World Trade Center attacks, and like all native New Yorkers, was shocked by what he saw. 

He called his mother in Brooklyn and told her to watch television. He never dreamed that he’d lose a family member. 

“I never put two and two together,” Bodie said. 

That night, all major league games were postponed, and as the country mourned, the sport like nearly everything else in the country, was put on hiatus. 

The nex day, the Royals were taking batting practice, and Bodie was out on the Kauffman Stadium field. 

“I saw a security guy walking down the stairs. I had this eerie feeling he was coming for me,” Bodie said. 

Bodie was escorted into manager Tony Muser’s office where his wife called him. 

“Nicholas is missing,” his wife told him. “If anybody was missing that day, it wasn’t very good.”

Nicholas Chiofalo, was 40, five years younger than Bodie, and  a firefighter in Brooklyn who made a choice that ended his life, but made him a hero.

Chiofalo agreed to work an extra shift for a colleague and called his wife to tell her not to expect him home that night. 

His engine company was called from Brooklyn to lower Manhattan to help. 

“Everybody on that engine was killed,” Bodie said. 

Bodie’s memories of Nicholas are vivid.

“He had a tremendous sense of humor, a helpful person, thoughtful. He was kind to his neighbors, his fellow man, very generous,” Bodie remembers. 

As Bodie learned the news, the Royals assembled in the clubhouse to comfort him. Their biggest star, Mike Sweeney gave Bodie the $20,000 the team collected from their “Kangaroo Court,” the petty fines players assess each other for breaking silly rules. 

The Royals’ owner matched the $20,000 and Bodie presented the money to his cousin’s son, Nicholas Jr., who was 12 at the time. 

Nine months later, Kansas City played at Shea Stadium, and Nicholas Jr. went to the game and met the Royals in their clubhouse. 

Sweeney promised to hit a home run for Nicholas, and did in his first at-bat. 

That was the last time Bodie saw his cousin’s son. 

When Bodie was young, his family would trek to Bay Shore on Long Island to visit Nicholas’ family and other family members who lived there, too. 

Unfortunately, after the tragedy, Nicholas’ family became estranged from the rest of the family. 

“That’s the saddest part of this whole thing, how it turned my family upside down,” he said. 

This summer, during the Carolina League All-Star break, Bodie brought his family, his wife and three children, to Brooklyn to show them where he grew up. 

They visited Coney Island where the Brooklyn Cyclones erected a memorial for fallen police officers and firefighters. 

Then the Bodies went to Manhattan to visit the World Trade Center site and museum. They saw Nicholas’ name engraved in the memorial and his picture in the museum. 

Bodie recalled Nicholas’ funeral on Long Island. 

“It was incredible,” he said. “There were fire trucks all over that were parked over both sides of the road. There were American flags everywhere.”

A mile from the church, Bodie saw firefighters from the entire Northeast there to honor his cousin.

September 11 will never be just another day for Bodie. 

“It’s kind of an ill feeling in your stomach,” Bodie said. “It brings back all those old memories, all those old feelings.”

It’s therapeutic to the man who has been in baseball for over 40 years to talk about his family losses. 

He wants to remember the goodness of his cousin and the others who perished 15 years ago today.

“They’re heroes. There’s no doubt about it. When people run in harm’s way to save people, they’re heroes."

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Manny Machado pens goodbye to O's fans on Instagram

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Manny Machado pens goodbye to O's fans on Instagram

Days after being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that captivated much of Major League Baseball, former Oriole Manny Machado took to Instagram to thank the only organization he's ever known. 

The 26-year-old's contract expires at the end of this season, which the Orioles chose not to renew as the last-place club enters a rebuilding phase. 

Machado put up big numbers in the team's first 97 games totaling career-highs in home runs (24), RBIs (65), OBP (.387) and OPS (.962). 

He is expected to play shortstop for a Dodgers club which finished the first half of the season 10 games above .500 in a competitive, tight NL West. 

The Dodgers will pay Machado $6.3 million. 

To my Baltimore family, I’ve spent the last few days trying to figure out how I would say goodbye but there wasn’t an easy way to do it. I first joined this organization at the age of 17 and these past eight years have far exceeded anything I ever could’ve imagined. Throughout the ups and downs, you embraced me unconditionally and you took a kid from Miami and brought me up as one of your own. I’ve enjoyed my time here and you all have played a big part in that!! Thank you Birdland! You are forever in my heart! To the Baltimore Orioles, it has truly been a blessing to put on that uniform every day. To the Angelos Family & Dan Duquette, thank you for making my dreams come true!!! To Buck and the coaching staff, thank you for your commitment and dedication to making me the best player and teammate I can possibly be…I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of you. To my teammates, we’ve shared some amazing times with lots of memories & friendships that I’ll cherish forever. Schoopy, I love you bro and I know you will carry the torch!!! ! Much love always, Manny #13

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Manny Machado trade rumors are dominating headlines at All-Star Game 

Orioles star shortstop Manny Machado traded to Los Angeles Dodgers 

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What exactly did the Orioles get in return for Manny Machado?

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What exactly did the Orioles get in return for Manny Machado?

So, the Orioles made some headlines earlier this week. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but minor league pitcher Asher Wojciechowski exercised his opt-out clause and is no longer with the organization. Please keep Orioles fans in your thoughts during this trying time.

As everyone reading this is undoubtedly already aware, the Orioles *also* made a trade yesterday, sending 26-year old superstar Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In return for their once-in-a-lifetime talent, the Orioles received a whopping five prospects from the Dodgers’ minor league system.

Yusniel Diaz, OF, 21

It’s fitting that this trade is being compared to the Erik Bedard trade, which was also a five-for-one, because Diaz could be a poor man’s Adam Jones. He’s not the prospect Jones was, but he could end up being a really nice player.

Talent evaluators are split on his ultimate ceiling. Some describe him as a bona fide stud, and others leave him off their top 100 lists. I’ve seen him ranked as high as 31st overall (by Baseball Prospectus), which, if accurate, is a terrific main piece in a package for a star rental. 

Most consider Diaz’s main flaw as a prospect to be his in-game power, though anyone watching the 2018 MLB Futures Game would be confused by that, as he became the second player ever to hit multiple home runs in the game. It’s possible that more power develops as he matures, and he certainly wouldn’t be the first player to hit for more power once reaching the Majors, but for now, it’s not a strength. I wouldn’t expect him to top 20 home runs in most seasons.

His bat-to-ball ability is his clearest strength, as he projects to consistently hit for a high average. His batting eye, while formerly a weakness, has become a strength in 2018, as he’s actually walked more times than he’s struck out (a rarity in this day and age). That will play well with O’s fans who are tired of seeing their players challenge strikeout records.

Dean Kremer, RHP, 22

Kremer isn’t a major name, which is a disappointment for O’s fans and one of the reasons their haul felt so uninspiring. Compared to more highly-touted prospects like Dustin May, Kremer looks like the team settled.

That said, he’s currently sporting the best K/9 ratio in the minors, and could end up being a diamond in the rough. He’s come a long way since being a 14th-round pick two years ago, and you have to wonder if the Orioles’ much-maligned pitching development can pick up where the much more successful Dodgers instructors left off.

Kremer is also notable for being the first Israeli-born player ever drafted in Major League Baseball.

Rylan Bannon, IF, 22

Bannon was an 8th-rounder last year and is having somewhat of a breakout this season. He’s leading the league in home runs, though playing in a notorious band box of a home park is skewing those numbers.

Bannon is undersized, but has a reputation of a good, if not elite, fielder. He’s a third baseman, but will likely spend some time at second as well. If the power breakout is real, he could end up a solid starter for the Orioles down the road. Again, that’s about all you can hope for in trades of this nature.

Zach Pop, RHP, 21

Pop has been described as potentially a future “right-handed Zach Britton,” which every O’s fan would take in a heartbeat. Of course, he’s not ranked like a future All-Star, as even in the weaker Orioles farm system he’s likely no better than around 25th. 

Still, the filler players in big trades like this are just lottery tickets, and considering his lack of pedigree, Pop seems like a relatively “safe” pitcher with projectability. He strikes out a lot of batters and gets a lot of ground balls, and at the very least can likely become a decent middle reliever.

Breyvic Valera, IF, 26

In a best-case scenario, Valera becomes the Orioles’ Ryan Flaherty replacement. If you squint, you can see somewhat decent upside in each of the other returning players, even despite their modest prospect rankings, but Valera is a clear utility player. 

He gets on base and hits for contact well enough to stick around and has proven capable of defending multiple positions, so there actually might be a spot for him at the end of the Orioles bench.

Overall

This trade has been described as anywhere from adequate and somewhat deflating to a great haul O’s fans should be excited about. Four of the five players have decent ceilings, though the chance of all four (or even just two of them) reaching those ceilings is highly unlikely. It’s just the nature of baseball.

Ultimately, this trade will be judged on the success or failure of Yusniel Diaz, who is the clear centerpiece of the package. Whether or not he succeeds will be partially up to him, and partially up to the front office and player development team.

If this trade is the beginning of the core for the next competitive Orioles team, then it’ll have to be considered a success. If these players each bust out of the league, then it was still the correct decision to trade Machado instead of settling for draft pick compensation, but it will still sting all the more for O’s fans seeing Manny soar to new heights elsewhere.