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Getty Images

I’ll go Bart Scott here….Can’t wait! The All-Star break has come and gone it’s PLAY BALL Friday in the big leagues. I’ll take a 6-4-3 double play over an ESPY any night. The Home Run Derby was fine; the All-Star game chock-full of Orioles with a fantastic tribute to Mariano Rivera was great, but now it’s time for the real deal and I can’t wait.

If you are a baseball fan you understand, the game is like the love of your life. It’s always there. Sure, there are good days and bad, but the pain of today’s heartbreaking loss quickly turns into the promise of tomorrow’s game. Around Baltimore a lot of people divorced themselves from the game, 14 straight losing seasons will do that, but Buck Showalter’s Orioles have brought a lot of those divorcees back.

For the second straight year the Orioles are relevant. After a playoff run in 2012 they’re back in another pennant race. The period after last Sunday’s game until Friday seemed like 2-weeks of agonizing detox for Orioles fans. So here we go 96 games down, 66 to play. The Orioles are 10 games above .500 (53-43) in third place 4.5 games behind Boston.

As they get ready for Opening day 2 I’ve got a lot on my mind. Is Cuban Henry Urrutia ready to show off the same bat that was hitting at better than a .360 clip in the minors? Can Deputy (Chris Davis) hit 60 bombs; will Nate McClouth steal 40, will recently of age Manny Machado set an MLB doubles record and continue his Brooks impersonation at third base? Can Brian Roberts be productive and stay healthy?

What about that rotation of Chen, Gonzalez, Tillman, Hammel and Feldman. Will they be able to pitch deeper into games and help the bullpen survive the dog days of the season? Will Jim Johnson become just the second closer in history to record back to back 50 save seasons? Can Adam Jones and JJ Hardy help keep the Orioles at the top of the HR list? What about Matt Wieters, will the best defensive catcher in baseball ramp up his offense?

I don’t think Buck and Dan Duquette could answer all these questions, but I need to know. I’m glad the guys you cheer for had some family time, but vacation is over. It’s time to play hardball, by October we’ll have all the answers.


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