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Orioles and Red Sox to play in 2020 Little League Classic

Orioles and Red Sox to play in 2020 Little League Classic

The Orioles and Red Sox are headed to youth baseball's roots next season. 

Major League Baseball announced Wednesday that Baltimore and Boston will play at Williamsport's Historic Bowman Field on Sunday, August 23, 2020. The game will count as an Orioles' home game and will air on Sunday Night Baseball that evening. 

“Participating in next year’s Little League Classic is a tremendous honor for our club,” Baltimore Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Elias said in the press release. “Our entire organization is deeply committed to growing the game at all levels, and to celebrating the invaluable life lessons learned through youth baseball. As a Little League Baseball alumnus myself, I look forward to visiting Williamsport as we come together to share the game of baseball with the next generation.”

Bowman Field is currently occupied by the Williamsport Crosscutters, the Philadelphia Phillies' Class-A team. The AL East tilt will be the fourth game in the Williamsport series — the Pirates and Cubs are set to play next week. 

Both the Orioles and Ravens will attend Little League World Series games earlier that morning before the Sunday evening game. 

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Orioles' Chris Davis and family make record donation to UMD Children's Hospital

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Orioles' Chris Davis and family make record donation to UMD Children's Hospital

Chris Davis has had a rough couple of seasons on the field. Off it? He remains one of the biggest stars in the game.

The Orioles slugger and his wife, Jill, donated a whopping $3 million to the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Per a release, it was the largest donation ever received by the hospital from a Baltimore athlete.

The gift is earmarked for hospital expansion, in an effort to provide top-notch care for the most seriously ill children.

“This is a cause that is close to our hearts,” Davis says in the press release. “Everyone at the hospital has inspired our family – from the patients and families who show such courage in the face of overwhelming challenges, to the medical professionals and caregivers who dedicate their careers to saving and improving lives.”

Davis famously signed the largest contract in franchise history, so the money is certainly within his budget, but this is still a remarkable gift to give to the city.

The Davis family has been involved with the children’s hospital for years, and plenty of local athletes have served important roles within the community, but this is going a step above for a player dealing with major struggles on the diamond. 

With acts of generosity like this one, it’s no surprise Davis has been named the Orioles’ nominee for Major League Baseball’s Roberto Clemente award, given to individual players based on their character and community involvement, for three straight seasons. Carlos Carrasco of the Indians won the 2019 Roberte Clemente award last month.

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Orioles' John Means named finalist for 2019 AL Rookie of the Year

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Orioles' John Means named finalist for 2019 AL Rookie of the Year

In another tough year at the big league level, the Orioles had very few bright spots to point to. When a team loses 108 games, there aren’t many options.

One silver lining to the 2019 season was the out-of-nowhere breakout of starting pitcher John Means.

The O’s newest ace was never considered an upper-echelon prospect, but his lack of pedigree didn’t prevent him from impressing the organization all season long with a 3.60 ERA and 12 wins. 

Not only was the 26-year old named to his first All-Star Game in July, but he has now been listed as a finalist for AL Rookie of the Year honors.

There are a few things working against Means in this race. Most importantly is the play of Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez, who came up halfway through the season and proceeded to utterly dominate opposing pitchers.

By some context-adjusted metrics, Alvarez was actually the second-best hitter in all of baseball from the moment he came up, behind only some guy named Mike Trout.

His was a historic rookie campaign, and the only possible argument against his candidacy is a lack of playing time. But by the end of the season, he had done more than enough and will likely finish as the unanimous winner.

Secondly is the historical bias against pitchers in rookie of the year races. Only two full-time pitchers — a necessary distinction thanks to Shohei Ohtani — have won the award in the American League this decade, and both Michael Fulmer (2016) and Jeremy Hellickson (2011) came in particularly weak seasons.

The National League has been no better, with only two starting pitcher winners as well, though came from true aces in Jacob deGrom (2014) and Jose Fernandez (2013).

Means likes won’t end up winning the award this year, but that shouldn’t take away from his terrific season. Finding unexpected surprises like him is one of the few fun parts of a full-scale rebuild and his success story should give Orioles fans hope that maybe, just maybe, the franchise is finally more capable of developing starting pitching.

There’s a long way to go in both Means’ career and the Orioles rebuild, but for now, feel free to enjoy one of the lone bright spots from an otherwise dark season.

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