The Matt Wieters Era is here.
It officially begins Friday night against the Detroit Tigers when the can't-miss catching phenom goes 4-for-4 with a couple of moonshots into the bleachers, performs spectacularly behind the plate and wraps up a flawless post-game interview with MASN sideline superstar Amber Theoharis
Look, this guy is so good he'll probably even duck the shaving-cream pie they try to smush in his face when it's all over.
Think that's putting too much pressure on the kid?
Why should I be any different from everybody else?
Oh, the Orioles are trying to temper expectations, which is a good thing. Give him a little space, general manager Andy MacPhail and manager Dave Trembley say.
But fans don't want to hear about ratcheting down expectations.
No, the fan base - what's left of it - seems totally energized over Wieters' arrival. And that's why bringing him up from the minors was the perfect move for the team to make at this time.
"I think it's fantastic," Bill Stiffler of Bel Air said. "He's just a very important step in the rebuilding you're starting to see here."
Stiffler, a community college professor, was at Camden Yards with his son, Greg, who's also a community college professor. But both recognized that the idea of Wieters' being some kind of team savior - the sports talk shows have been hammering this theme for weeks - is ridiculous.
"There is a lot riding on him," Greg Stiffler said. "You don't want to be unfair to the guy. But he did have a lot of buzz [surrounding] him, even from the beginning."
After announced crowds of 10,130 and 13,713 at Camden Yards the past two days - it was so empty Tuesday night you would have thought they were playing club soccer - there was zero energy in the place.
But with Wieters' call-up, "there's definitely been a spike" in ticket sales, Orioles public relations director Monica Barlow said before the Orioles' 12-10 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday. "I think we'll see the biggest spike in the walk-up to Friday's game."
Friday is also Student Night ($6 tickets with a school ID) and the team's first fireworks night, which are always decent draws.
So expect a big turnout - I'm thinking at least 40,000 - when Wieters trots behind the plate before the national anthem.
And if his heart isn't pounding and his hands aren't a little sweaty, there's something definitely wrong with the guy.
The Orioles aren't planning a Matt Wieters T-Shirt Tuesday just yet - they don't want to freak out the kid. And there weren't any Matt Wieters bobbleheads at the souvenir stands.
But the team is excited he's here, and so are the fans. And that can be only a good thing for a ballclub that has squandered a huge amount of public goodwill during 11 straight losing seasons.
Let's see, a big, strong catcher who hits for average, hits for power, has terrific defensive skills and a cannon for an arm (he was a closer at Georgia Tech who threw in the mid-90s) - yeah, you can see why that generated a little buzz.
He received a franchise-record $6 million signing bonus. And he was just starting to tear up Triple-A pitching (.391 batting average, four homers, 18 RBIs in his past 46 at-bats).
"I'm excited about seeing him because it's been a long time since the Orioles had such a highly regarded prospect that everyone's talking about," said Chris Welsh of York, Pa.
Welsh, who's in the Army and headed for his third tour of duty in Iraq, was stationed in Texas recently and said even the Rangers broadcasters have been talking up Wieters in recent weeks.
"It's everywhere," Welsh said of the Wieters hype. "ESPN's made a big deal out of him, too."
Maybe that's why Trembley felt compelled to sit down with the media Wednesday and talk about what effect all the hype would have on Wieters.
"I don't think it will be tough on Matt Wieters," Trembley said. " ... I think everybody in this room has been impressed by how he handles himself, how he talks. I hope you all and everybody just kind of gives him a little space.
" ... He's not going to be any different than anybody else. He's just going to be a guy on the team, and I would like to approach it like that with him so he doesn't feel like there's a big spotlight on everything he does all the time, even though we all know it will be hard to avoid. That comes with the territory."
Matt Wieters no different from anyone else?
Good luck with that plan.