James Jones column: Henderson, O’s can capture title

Published 4:33 am Saturday, October 7, 2023

Shortstop Gunnar Henderson has a great chance to play in the World Series and win a championship.

Baltimore will face Texas in the American League (AL) Divisional Series that starts Saturday at noon on FS1.

Henderson, the former Morgan Academy Prep All-American, had an outstanding regular season, helping the Orioles win the AL Eastern Division title. Henderson hit 28 homers with 82 RBI and 99 runs.

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Henderson is a cinch to win the AL’s Rookie of the Year.  I haven’t seen anyone produce a better rookie season than Henderson has this season. It would be a shame if Henderson isn’t named rookie of the year.

Former Baltimore Oriole legend Cal Ripken Jr. considered, one of the greatest MLB shortstops ever, has said he is a big fan of Henderson. Ripken’s homer record as a rookie was tied by Henderson, who broke the runs record.

“Gunnar Henderson’s development, I always liked him as a player,” Ripken told the Baltimore Sun this week. “He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast. He seems to understand the game. And he’s doing it at multiple positions So, he’s really fun.”

I see similarities between Henderson and Ripken at the early stages of their careers.

Forty years ago, Ripken won a World Series in 1983, his second full season in the majors.

Henderson, 22, told MASN.com that he met Ripken while still attending Morgan Academy during the 2018 Under Armour All-American game. Henderson said he occasionally talks to Ripken at Camden Yards, the Orioles’ clubhouse.

“I talked to Cal a bit, and he said he loved watching me at short because he was a bigger shortstop as well,” Henderson said. “[He] really liked how I moved out there and how I played the game, so [it was] pretty cool to talk to him about that.”

The dream matchup in the World Series for Selma and Dallas County residents will be the Orioles against the Atlanta Braves, who meet Philadelphia in a National League Divisional Series that begins Saturday at 5:07 p.m. on TBS.

Dallas County is full of Atlanta fans in all three professional sports: Falcons (NFL), Hawks (NBA), and especially the Braves.

After all, Atlanta is only a three-hour drive from Dallas County.

Several baseball observers are picking a Houston-Atlanta World Series.  ESPN Senior Writer David  Schoenfield picked the Orioles to win the World Series, saying its their year.

We like the Orioles’ chances.

Winning 101 games in the regular season sends a strong message to the baseball world that Baltimore’s for real.