Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Vintage Fridays: Doug DeCinces, 1975 SSPC #387

Happy 64th birthday to Doug DeCinces. Doug's best season with the Orioles was 1978, when he led the club with 37 doubles, 28 home runs, a .526 slugging percentage, and an .872 OPS. I was surprised to learn that he was never a Gold Glover at third base, and his only All-Star season was in 1983, the year after he batted .301/.369/.548 for the Angels with 42 doubles, 30 homers, and 97 RBI, all career highs. For a guy with a solid 115 career OPS+, he doesn't seem to get his due. So here's to you, Doug.

P.S.: I'll be away and without Internet access for the weekend. See youse on Tuesday!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fred Valentine, 2014 Orioles Alumni Postcards

Here's another of the signed postcards that I picked up at Camden Yards on Monday night. I had noticed that Fred Valentine was wearing an MLB Players' Alumni Association polo shirt, but I didn't realize until I read his bio on the card back that the ex-outfielder was one of the founding members of that group back in 1982.

Here's a few more interesting tidbits about Fred Valentine, courtesy of the SABR Biography Project:

-His aunt nicknamed him "Squeaky" as a toddler, and the moniker stuck throughout his life.

-Fred is ambidextrous, which was an asset when he played quarterback in high school football.

-He graduated from Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial College (a historically black college, known today as Tennessee State University) in three and a half years.

I'm glad I got a chance to meet a former player who had a greater impact off the field than on it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

B. J. Surhoff, 1996 Pinnacle Aficionado #92

I hope they used B. J. Surhoff's good side for that profile shot.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Larry Sheets, 2014 Orioles Alumni Postcards

I guess the only thing the Orioles needed to awaken their bats from a Wrigley slumber was the calming presence of Larry Sheets.

Allow me to clarify. Remembering that the Orioles make a few ex-players available for autographs along the Eutaw Street concourse prior to Monday and Thursday games, I wandered over that way with my sister once we got through the gates yesterday evening. Sure enough, there he was: Larry "31 homers in 1987" Sheets, alongside mid-'70s infielder and Baltimore native Tim Nordbrook and outfielder Fred Valentine, who had three separate stints with the O's in 1959, 1963, and 1968. Since there was still over an hour before first pitch, I waited in line to collect signatures from the trio. Larry looks pretty good for 54, much better than Cal Ripken, if we're being brutally honest. I was a little sorry to see that he'd lost the trademark mustache, but you can't fault a guy for keeping his look fresh. A group of older guys passing by called out to Nordbrook to invite him out for drinks after the game, and he playfully asked if they wanted his autograph. When they responded in the affirmative, Tim yelled, "Get in line!". Valentine was moving more slowly than the two younger ex-players, but his signature was meticulous and clear, so it was a fair trade.

On yet another in a series of the moderate nights that have made this an atypical summer in Baltimore, the Birds seemed glad to be home, even if the crowd was on the small side (15,516 paid, though several of them must have stayed home). Chris Tillman looked sharp right from the start, generating weak grounders all over the infield. Steve Pearce and Jonathan Schoop each dropped a throw from J. J. Hardy on consecutive plays in the third inning, giving Tampa Bay a very short-lived 1-0 lead. But you can't keep a power-hitting team like the Orioles dormant forever, and the breakout came in the bottom of the third. Nick Markakis ended an 0-for-21 skid with a two-run homer to put the O's on top, and Steve Pearce immediately followed with a moon shot to left field. 3-1 Birds on back-to-back home runs against Jake Odorizzi.

The real fun came two innings later, as things got really out of hand in a good way for the hosts. The inning opened with three straight singles by the law firm of Pearce, Jones, and Cruz. After an initial hesitation, Pearce rumbled around third base and scored on Cruz's knock to left, as Rays left fielder Matt Joyce bobbled the ball. I had noticed Steve and Joyce conversing in the outfield during pregame warmups, and my idle theory was that the Oriole slugger was subtly intimidating his contemporary. It sure looked like it on that play. Anyhow, back-to-back-to-back singles are all well and good, but how about back-to-back-to-back home runs? I can tell you first-hand that they're pretty great. Delmon Young continued his baffling rejuvenation with an Earl Weaver Special over the left-center field fence, making it 7-1, and J. J. Hardy chased Odorizzi with a solo shot in the next at-bat. Chris Davis, who probably would've liked to take some hacks against the unraveled starter, rallied to welcome reliever Kirby Yates with a solo four-bagger of his own. It was 9-1, and there were still no outs. Nick Hundley made it seven hits in a row with an infield single and a one-base error by first baseman James Loney, but Yates stopped the bleeding there. Still, the Orioles had made team history by stacking back-to-back homers AND a separate occurrence of back-to-back-to-back home runs for the first time in their 60-plus seasons in Baltimore.

The rest of the game was less eventful. Tillman earned his 11th win with seven innings of three-hit ball, Darren O'Day and Zach Britton were untouchable as usual, and the Birds maintained their six-game division lead. Oh wait - there was a pretty decent double play turned by Adam Jones and Jonathan Schoop. You might see this one on highlight reels for a little while yet.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Calvin Pickering, 2000 Fleer Ultra #272

I'm off to the ballpark again tonight, as the Orioles open an 11-game homestand with the first of four games against the Rays. I hope the Birds' bats are waiting for them at Camden Yards, since they sure didn't travel to Wrigley Field with the team. Baltimore racked up a total of four runs in 27 innings against the rebuilding Cubs, two of which came on solo home runs. Things bottomed out yesterday afternoon, as Steve Pearce's four-bagger was the team's only base hit. With Manny Machado and Matt Wieters gone for the season, something needs to change. Chris Davis hitting more like Chris Davis of 2013 and less like Calvin Pickering of any year would be a nice start.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Cal Ripken, Jr., 2010 Topps Walmart Exclusive Chrome Refractors #WME-2

It's Cal Ripken, Jr.'s birthday today. Number 54 to be exact. And the Orioles began playing in Baltimore in 1954. Coincidence? Absolutely. In case you were curious, Cal's 54th career home run (of 431 total) came on September 28, 1983, off of Dan Petry of the Tigers. It was his 26th and penultimate homer in his first MVP season, and it went for naught in a 9-5 loss. The Iron Man's only birthday home run also came during that thrilling '83 season. On August 24, 1983, Rip hit game-tying solo shot in the tenth inning off of Toronto's Joey McLaughlin. This was the famous game in which Tippy Martinez picked off three Blue Jay runners in one inning, with Lenn Sakata catching. Sakata went on to hit a walkoff three-run homer later in the tenth.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Manny Machado, 2014 Topps Gypsy Queen Debut All-Stars #AS-MM

It's not been an ideal weekend for the Orioles. Two straight losses to the inhospitable Cubs, and the unwelcome news that Manny Machado is officially out for the rest of the season and the postseason with his second knee surgery. I guess it's better that it's the right knee this time, instead of a second operation on the left...but you wonder how many key players the O's can lose while maintaining their winning ways. Tomorrow is another day, I guess.