Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Brooks Robinson, 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Across the Years #ATY-BR

This week I've been featuring cards from a Fairfield repack box that jumped into my hand last weekend at a Target in Charlotte. I've pretty much given up on the repacks that consist of a 50, 100, or 200-card loose assortment, since they're always packed to the gills with junk wax. But the $20 boxes that feature 20 packs of recent-vintage cards still scratch that itch. I can justify buying newish Topps products by telling myself that the money's not going directly to the company (though I'm sure Fairfield is compensating them for their unsold inventory), and a buck a pack is a price I'm willing to pay.

This box consisted of a single pack of 2008 Upper Deck Spectrum, a bunch of 2013 Topps products (Allen & Ginter, Opening Day, Archives, and flagship Series Two), and to my surprise, a few packs of 2014 Topps Heritage. Each box also comes with a randomly-inserted "hit", which in this case was a 2005 Topps Update All-Star Stitches jersey relic of Morgan Ensberg. It doesn't get much more random than that, and the swatch is a lovely deep orange. I also pulled a Craig Gentry autograph from one of the Opening Day packs, which is a nifty thing to get even if I couldn't pick the guy out of a lineup. I filled a few more set needs for Heritage, and got some 2013 Topps Series Two and Opening Day Orioles that I needed. There was also this Brooks Robinson insert from last year's Allen and Ginter, a fortuitous pull from a six-card pack. On the back, it lists some notables that share Brooksie's May 18 birthday, including Pope John Paul II, Frank Capra, Tina Fey, Reggie Jackson, actor Robert Morse, and Superfly Jimmy Snuka. Truly news you can use.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Adam Jones, 2013 Topps Opening Day #76

I've been wondering what I could say about the Orioles' 2014 season that I haven't already said over the past six or seven months. It was a thrilling ride, often frustrating, but even more often delightful. I think I captured my feelings succinctly last Wednesday, while watching the O's go down fighting in their ALCS and season finale against Kansas City: I just wasn't ready for it to end. Not yet.

Including the postseason, the Orioles played 169 meaningful games in 2014. They won 99 of them, a level of success they hadn't approached since 1997. That was something of a common phrase throughout the year: "since 1997". It's little wonder, since that was the last time the O's stood atop the American League East after 162 games. Make no mistake, this team belongs to Baltimore's baseball history in a high place, as does that wire-to-wire squad. As the saying goes, "flags fly forever". The Orioles might have been stopped four wins short of the pennant, and eight shy of the big shiny trophy, but they were still division champions. That flag will hang in Camden Yards next year, and the year after, and so on. A four-game stretch of bad breaks and near misses shouldn't cancel out 162 (or 165) successful games.

In my second year as a season-ticket holder, I was fortunate to attend 25 games, including the first three of the club's four postseason home contests. It was my pleasure to witness 17 wins against just eight losses:

Rk Gm# Date Tm Opp W/L R RA Inn W-L Rank GB Win Loss Save Time D/N Attendance
1 1 Monday, Mar 31 boxscore BAL BOS W 2 1 1-0 1 Tied Britton Lester Hunter 2:53 D 46,685
11 11 Saturday, Apr 12 boxscore BAL TOR W-wo 2 1 12 5-6 4 1.5 Britton Redmond 3:39 N 30,446
23 23 Saturday, Apr 26 boxscore BAL KCR W-wo 3 2 10 12-11 2 1.5 Britton Duffy 3:09 N 34,941
33 33 Friday, May 9 boxscore BAL HOU W 4 3 19-14 1 up 0.5 Chen Williams Hunter 2:29 N 28,875
35 35 Sunday, May 11 boxscore BAL HOU L 2 5 20-15 1 up 1.5 Cosart Tillman Qualls 3:21 D 45,944
45 45 Thursday, May 22 boxscore BAL CLE L 7 8 13 23-22 3 1.5 Outman Patton Atchison 4:22 N 18,894
47 47 Saturday, May 24 boxscore BAL CLE L 0 9 24-23 3 2.5 Kluber Jimenez 3:05 D 36,873
60 60 Saturday, Jun 7 boxscore BAL OAK W 6 3 31-29 2 5.5 Gausman Gray 2:51 N 44,202
64 64 Wednesday, Jun 11 boxscore BAL BOS W 6 0 33-31 2 4.5 Chen De La Rosa 2:49 N 25,886
66 66 Friday, Jun 13 boxscore BAL TOR L 0 4 34-32 3 4.5 Hutchison Jimenez McGowan 2:44 N 44,031
77 77 Wednesday, Jun 25 boxscore BAL CHW W-wo 5 4 12 41-36 2 1.5 Hunter Webb 4:03 N 22,020
80 80 Saturday, Jun 28 boxscore BAL TBR L 4 5 42-38 2 1.5 Bedard Chen McGee 3:13 D 36,387
90 90 Wednesday, Jul 9 boxscore BAL WSN L 2 6 49-41 1 up 2.5 Fister Norris 2:50 N 35,575
92 92 Friday, Jul 11 boxscore BAL NYY W-wo 3 2 10 51-41 1 up 3.0 McFarland Warren 3:05 N 45,389
119 119 Wednesday, Aug 13 boxscore BAL NYY W 5 3 69-50 1 up 7.5 O'Day Kelley Britton 2:45 N 37,587
129 129 Monday, Aug 25 boxscore BAL TBR W 9 1 74-55 1 up 6.0 Tillman Odorizzi 2:56 N 15,516
131 131 Wednesday, Aug 27 boxscore BAL TBR L 1 3 75-56 1 up 6.0 Smyly Gausman McGee 2:44 N 20,762
139 139 Thursday, Sep 4 boxscore BAL CIN W 9 7 82-57 1 up 9.5 Hunter Parra Britton 3:26 N 21,114
146 146 Friday, Sep 12 (1) boxscore BAL NYY W-wo 2 1 11 87-59 1 up11.5 Brach Warren 3:51 D 31,871
147 147 Friday, Sep 12 (2) boxscore BAL NYY W 5 0 88-59 1 up11.5 Norris Mitchell 2:57 N 43,707
151 151 Tuesday, Sep 16 boxscore BAL TOR W 8 2 91-60 1 up13.5 Jimenez Hutchison 3:02 N 35,297
152 152 Wednesday, Sep 17 boxscore BAL TOR W 6 1 92-60 1 up14.5 Norris Happ 3:13 N 37,537
Rk Gm# Date Tm Opp
ALDS Game 1 Thursday, Oct 2 boxscore BAL DET W, 12-3 WP: Tillman LP: Scherzer
ALDS Game 2 Friday, Oct 3 boxscore BAL DET W, 7-6 WP: Brach LP: Soria SV: Britton
ALCS Game 1 Friday, Oct 10 boxscore BAL KCR L, 8-6 (10 IN) WP: Davis LP: O'Day SV: Holland
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/21/2014.

If you go further down the rabbit hole with me, you'll see that things started well with a personal four-game win streak, followed by a dip that tracked the team's first-half struggles. Then there was a 10-1 stretch (and an embedded seven-game win streak) that lasted through the season's second half and on into the ALDS, before those magical, mystical Royals gummed things up on October 10. But still, I experienced a lot of great games and moments, including:

  • Opening Day, featuring the first of Nelson Cruz's career-high 40 home runs.
  • Five walkoff wins. The heroes in those games were David Lough, Nick Markakis, Lough again (scoring on a wild pitch, and this game gets an asterisk anyway, because I reluctantly left during a lengthy late rain delay on a work night), Nick Hundley, and Jimmy Paredes. Go figure, right?
  • Kevin Gausman's first major league win as a starting pitcher.
  • Two of the team's 13 shutouts. How long has it been since the Birds had such a strong pitching staff?
  • Four of Baltimore's pivotal 13 wins over the Yankees, including both ends of a doubleheader sweep, the first twinbill they'd taken from New York in 30 years.
  • A two-homer, four-run eighth-inning rally to down the Yanks in mid-August.
  • A raucous win over the Rays that featured separate instances of back-to-back AND back-to-back-to-back home runs (a first in team history), as well as an astounding catch-and-throw by Adam Jones to take three runs away from Tampa Bay.
  • The first division-clinching win in Charm City since 1969.
  • Christian Walker's big league debut and first career hit, as well as a multi-homer game from Steve Pearce.
  • The first and second games of the Orioles' three-game ALDS sweep over Detroit's three Cy Young winners, featuring a pair of incredible eighth-inning offensive outbursts.
  • The first ALCS game at Camden Yards (all together now) since 1997. It represented the beginning of the end for the O's, but the atmosphere was surreal and the game was exhilarating, featuring a comeback from a four-run deficit before the home team succumbed in the tenth inning.
That's just from a 15 percent slice of the team's full schedule. I wasn't there for the walkoff homers from Matt Wieters, Chris Davis, and Manny Machado, or Manny's acrobatic defense in his injury-shortened season, or Caleb Joseph's five-game home run streak, or the 60th anniversary ceremonies...it goes on and on. The 2014 Orioles were a joy to watch, and I'm already missing them.