I've come to realize that Tony Batista is one of my favorite goofy Orioles from the team's recent extended run of loserdom. It's a combination of factors, really. There's his ultra-thick caterpillar eyebrows, the bizarre straight-legged batting stance, the fact that he re-emerged with the Nationals in a #77 jersey, and of course the fact that even on his way out of Baltimore, he recommended the city to good friend and free agent Miguel Tejada as a great place to play.
I remember my excitement when the O's landed Tony on a midseason waiver claim from the Blue Jays in 2001. I'd managed him on my fantasy team the prior season, when he hit 41 home runs and drove in 114. I was seduced by those gaudy numbers, and convinced that he was a star player. And we'd gotten him for practically nothing! Cal Ripken, Jr. was in the midst of his farewell tour, and we'd found his replacement. Of course, I was blind to his flaws: a low batting average and a brutal strikeout-to-walk ratio (he averaged just 36 walks per season, and 98 strikeouts). Then there was his adventurous defense at the hot corner. Sure, he kept hitting home runs - nearly leading the dreadful Birds in just half a season in 2001 and topping the club for the two proceeding seasons. But he didn't hit enough of them to make up for his increasingly obvious shortcomings elsewhere, and after 2003 the Orioles decided to move the emerging Melvin Mora to third and wave goodbye to the incumbent Batista. But Tony was fun while he lasted.