Trey Mancini’s unforgettable Orioles tenure ended too quickly

By Jake Mintz
FOX Sports activities MLB Author

On Sept. 17, 2016, Trey Mancini was sweating his ass off underneath the Florida solar. 

The yet-to-debut, No. 6 Orioles prospect had already completed his minor league season and was staying contemporary on the staff’s Spring Coaching complicated simply in case the O’s wanted reinforcements down the stretch as they battled for a Wild Card spot. In Mancini’s thoughts, it was largely eyewash. He’d get his large league call-up sooner or later in 2017.

However then Steve Pearce, the Orioles’ right-handed bench bat, harm his elbow and landed on the 60-day IL, opening the door for Mancini. Just a few days later the 24-year-old made his large league debut at Camden Yards towards the Purple Sox, launching a homer within the fifth inning for his first profession hit.

Mancini caught absolute hearth down the stretch for the O’s, hitting three homers and a double in simply 15 plate appearances. However in that fateful AL Wild Card loss to the Blue Jays, Mancini by no means noticed the sphere.

“I don’t think at that time, I truly realized what it all meant.” Mancini instructed FOX Sports activities again in Might. “It was cool to me, yeah, but looking back I’m really lucky to have gotten to experience that. A lot of guys go their whole careers without experiencing a playoff game.”

It might be the closest he ever received to a postseason ball discipline as an Oriole.

On Monday afternoon, 5 years and ten months after he first donned the cartoon fowl, Mancini was dealt to the Houston Astros as a part of a three-way commerce with the Tampa Bay Rays.

In his 5 plus seasons with the membership, Mancini turned a fan favourite, at occasions the one watchable lifeforce on abysmal, zipless Orioles groups. The proverbial “hold-your-hand-through-the-darkness” participant, somebody who by no means grumbled, by no means pouted and who oozed kindness and compassion wherever he went.

His well-documented battle with colon most cancers in 2020 solely additional deepened his connection to town and fanbase, as Trey obtained remedy down the street at Johns Hopkins Medical Middle. As his story turned nationwide information, Mancini started spreading consciousness for others together with his illness, even whereas present process his personal chemotherapy in Baltimore throughout the 2020 season. Mancini returned on Opening Day of 2021 to a standing ovation.

“I love this city, I love these fans.” Mancini shared. “It’s been kind of a strange journey, going through this entire rebuild, but I’ve always loved my time here. It’s a really special place no matter what happens.”

What occurred was a commerce, a commerce that months in the past felt like a foregone conclusion. Mancini was an impending free agent, the Orioles a membership destined for one more fifth place end. His departure appeared inevitable. However then the funniest factor occurred: Baltimore began successful. 

In July, the membership ripped off 10 straight wins, catapulting themselves into the hunt for the third AL Wild Card spot. Even after Mancini received a curtain name in his ultimate residence recreation earlier than the commerce deadline, after one of the crucial distinctive and unforgettable homers in franchise historical past, it nonetheless felt just like the staff was too near rivalry for GM Mike Elias to truly pull the set off. The vibes had been too good and Mancini too basic to these vibes.

Baltimore’s shock ascension from AL East punchline to pesky playoff contender had them at 51-51, simply three video games out of the third Wild Card spot heading into play on Monday night time. They’ve advanced right into a close-knit unit that is helped to reinvigorate a dormant franchise. Attendance at Camden Yards is up, the vitality is just too. That Orioles magic, that … feeling, felt prefer it’d lastly returned.

However dealing away Mancini is one hell of a vibe swap. It is a miscalculation: a misguided prioritization of worth over values. The 2022 Orioles have been one hell of a celebration, and by buying and selling Mancini, Mike Elias is instantly the man tripping over and breaking the speaker, so the music cuts off.

“It’s gonna be tough without him,” Orioles first baseman Ryan Mountcastle mentioned to MLB.com’s Zachary Silver. “And I know a lot of us are pretty upset.”

Since changing into the staff’s head baseball operations individual forward of the 2019 season, O’s GM Mike Elias has been ruthlessly environment friendly, keen to deal away veterans when given a chance to construct for the longer term. It is a cold-hearted strategy to staff constructing that is lastly begun to repay within the win column.

Objectively, it is a strong haul — Seth Johnson was Tampa’s No. 6 prospect per FanGraphs, Chayce McDermott was Houston’s No. 10 — for 2 months of a .751 OPS first baseman about to hit free company, however this can be a commerce with ramifications far past the spreadsheet. 

Each metropolis, each fanbase has shaped relationships with gamers. At occasions these hyperlinks can really feel considerably pressured., They’ll really feel like a product of probability, considerably compulsory or transactional. However for no matter purpose, Trey’s relationship with Baltimore at all times felt pure and genuine. 

When requested again in Might about what he’ll keep in mind most from his time in Baltimore, Mancini zeroed in on the 2019 All-Star break. He’d had a fairly brutal first half of the season and was scuffling to seek out his footing because the face of the rebuilding Orioles.

However as an alternative of flying residence to Florida for the break, Mancini stayed behind in Baltimore with a purpose to spend a while with a younger O’s fan named Mo Gaba who’d been recognized with a number of extreme forms of most cancers. 

“We’d met up once before,” Mancini remembered. “But I wanted to hang out with him without any cameras, so I took him and his mom to Dave & Busters. We had a great time. That moment just gave me a ton of perspective and helped turn my mental state and my season around.”

The 2 developed a particularly shut bond earlier than Gaba tragically handed away on July 28, 2020, particularly after Mancini obtained his personal analysis in March of that 12 months. Trey would frequently cease by the Gaba family simply to spend a while with Mo in between chemo remedies.

The staff now holds an annual Mo Gaba Day at Camden Yards on July 28, a day on which Mancini has homered every of the final two seasons, together with his unbelievable sun-aided inside-the-parker final week. That Mo Gaba Day will dwell on indefinitely, is only a small, however vital a part of Mancini’s Baltimore legacy.

*** ****

Professional sports activities within the trendy age is nearly fully about successful and dropping. Who’s successful? Who’s dropping? Who’s buying and selling for whom with a purpose to do extra successful and fewer dropping? And so on, and so forth, and so forth.

However generally it is a couple of bit greater than that. Followers love successful as a result of basically, they’re in search of one thing or somebody(s) to latch onto; something they will emotionally latch onto with a purpose to distract them from the doldrums of their every day lives. 

In Baltimore, Trey Mancini did not do a complete lot of successful — solely 37% or so of his video games to be precise — however he did succeed within the way more essential activity: connecting. Groups rise and fall, seasons come and go, however gamers and their actions stand the take a look at of time. That actuality is probably what Mike Elias is lacking. It is not at all times concerning the wins and losses, whether or not in 2022 or 2026 or 2032, generally it is about having a purpose to provide a crap, it is about with the ability to care.

Baltimore cared about Trey Mancini as a result of Trey Mancini cared about Baltimore.

“This city …” Mancini mentioned “This city saved my life.”

Jake Mintz is the louder half of @CespedesBBQ and a baseball author for FOX Sports activities. He’s an Orioles fan dwelling in New York Metropolis, and thus, he leads a lonely existence most Octobers. If he’s not watching baseball, he’s nearly definitely driving his bike. You may observe him on Twitter @Jake_Mintz.


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