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Eye on the Tigers: Orioles face uphill battle chasing Detroit for No. 1 pick

Eye on the Tigers: Orioles face uphill battle chasing Detroit for No. 1 pick

It's an honor no team wants, but at this point in the season, Detroit and Baltimore have few goals more meaningful than earning the top overall pick in next year's draft.

Each team has roughly 25 games left on their schedules, but the Tigers find themselves with a four-game “lead” for the "top" spot the 2020 MLB Draft, awarded to this season’s worst team.

Is one month enough time for the O’s to earn a second straight top overall pick? If so, it would go a long way toward their return to contention. 

Not only would a league-worst record allow the Orioles their choice at the top of next year’s draft, but it would also likely give them the largest allotment of bonus pool money through the first ten rounds. This would allow them to take bigger swings at players considered tough signs, allowing the front office to prioritize talent over money.

So to break it all down, let’s take a look at the remaining series for each team.

Orioles

Games remaining: 25
Series: at Rays, vs Rangers, vs Dodgers, at Tigers, vs Blue Jays, vs Mariners, at Blue Jays, at Red Sox
Combined opponent winning percentage: .470 

This is a frontloaded September schedule. Both the Rays and Dodgers will be playing for the postseason, with Tampa Bay fighting for a spot and Los Angeles looking to solidify its top seed.

The back half of the schedule looks extremely easy, which could hurt the Orioles for next year’s draft. Only Boston has a chance of having something to play for among the final five series of the season, and even they enter the final month 5.5 games back in the AL Wild Card race.

Of course, one series stands out among all the rest: at Detroit, September 13-16. This four-game set will go a long, long way toward determining next year’s top draft pick.

Tigers

Games remaining: 27
Series: at Royals, at Athletics, vs Yankees, vs Orioles, at Indians, vs White Sox, vs Twins, at White Sox
Combined opponent winning percentage: .498

The Tigers’ schedule looks significantly more difficult than the Orioles’, with four series against true American League contenders in the Yankees, Athletics, Indians and Twins. Plus, each of the three is very likely to have something to play for, with the Yankees currently tied with Houston for the top seed in the AL, the A’s one game out of the Wild Card, and the Indians and Twins locked in a tight battle with each other to avoid the Wild Card altogether by winning the AL Central.

Beyond that, the Tigers face their fellow NL Central bottom-dwellers in the White Sox and Royals, two teams against which Detroit has combined for a 13-15 record this season. That’s nearly a third of their win total this season, so it’s possible they even win another series or two down the stretch.

As mentioned above, however, the obvious standout series remains those four games against the Orioles. The Tigers’ run-differential of -270 is even worse than the Orioles’ -245, and with their “lead” have to be considered favorites right now. But the Orioles will partially control their own destiny thanks to the schedule makers.

The Tigers earned the top pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, and the Orioles had their turn in 2019. Now, the two franchises are pitted against one another in a race for their second top pick in the last three seasons, with the future of each organization at stake. It may not be for the postseason, but for two rebuilding teams in desperate need of more stars, it’s just as compelling of a race.

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Glove Jeffrey Maier used to catch Derek Jeter's HR vs. Orioles in 1996 ALCS is up for auction

Glove Jeffrey Maier used to catch Derek Jeter's HR vs. Orioles in 1996 ALCS is up for auction

Orioles and Yankees fans, and plenty of other baseball supporters, will forever remember the name Jeffrey Maier. Now, if they want to, they can own an item of his that will always be a part of MLB history.

Maier's glove from Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS is now up for auction through Lelands Auctions, according to The Action Network's Darren Rovell. The minimum bid on the item is $2,500.

For those who need a refresher -- sorry Orioles fans -- a 12-year-old Maier made his mark During Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS between Baltimore and the New York Yankees. The Orioles held a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. With a young Derek Jeter stepping up to the plate, Maier was a fan planted at the front of the right-field stands. Jeter sent a ball his way, and Maier reached out and grabbed the "home run."

Home run is in parenthesis because the argument to this day is that Orioles' right fielder Tony Tarasco was in a position to potentially catch the ball as it was not going over the wall, but Maier interferes with the play. Despite evidence to support that, it was called in the Yankees favor.

New York would then go on to win the game in extra innings, shifting the momentum in the series and eventually advancing to the World Series. For Yankees fans, Maier could be viewed as a small hero. As for those in Baltimore, he carries a similar reputation to Steve Bartman. 

New Yorkers may want the glove as a symbol from their 1996 World Series run, while Baltimore fans already have some ideas for what they would do with the tainted piece of history.

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Buck Showalter: Fans don’t want to hear MLB players complain about salary cuts

Buck Showalter: Fans don’t want to hear MLB players complain about salary cuts

As Major League Baseball and its players union weigh the league’s proposal for returning to play amid the coronavirus pandemic, several players have spoken out against accepting further pay cuts in order to return to the field.

The two sides agreed to prorate all player salaries in March based on the number of games lost as a result of the outbreak. However, MLB has reportedly asked the union to reconsider that deal after it became increasingly clear the season would have to begin without fans in the stands.

That’s prompted several players, including Tampa Bay Rays starter Blake Snell and Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper, to publicly argue against the idea of sacrificing even more of their salaries.

“Y'all gotta understand, man, for me to go—for me to take a pay cut is not happening, because the risk is through the roof,” Snell said on his Twitch channel last week. “It's a shorter season, less pay.

“No, I gotta get my money. I'm not playing unless I get mine, OK? And that's just the way it is for me. Like, I'm sorry you guys think differently, but the risk is way the hell higher and the amount of money I'm making is way lower. Why would I think about doing that?”

However, league officials aren’t the only ones who disagree with players like Snell. In an interview with 105.7 The Fan on Friday, former Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he wouldn’t be putting up with comments like that from his own players.

“I know one thing, fans don’t want to hear players talking about, ‘I’m not going to play for that type of pay cut,’” Showalter said. “Somebody that’s getting some real bad advice is making those statements. I’d be telling my guys, ‘You need to shut up.’ Fans working at home trying to make ends meet don’t want to hear about you complaining about not getting your full salary.”

Showalter has spent parts of 20 seasons as an MLB skipper, making five playoff appearances and receiving three Manager of the Year awards. He managed the Orioles for nine years before being fired in 2018 following a season in which Baltimore finished 47-115. The 63-year-old is now a contributor for the YES Network and MLB Network.

Known for his stoic attitude and intense approach to the game, Showalter was a member of the “old guard” that pushed against allowing players to show their emotions on the baseball field. With MLB hoping to return this summer and provide fans with a sign of hope amid a global pandemic, the former manager doesn’t want to hear from players who don’t believe they would be receiving their fair share.

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