Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Greg(g) Zaun, 1996 Pinnacle Summit #167

I'm not sure when exactly Greg Zaun became Gregg, but the latter is now the widely accepted spelling. All of his cards from his Orioles days refer to him as "Greg", though. Clear as mud, right?

Gregg Zaun could be on his way back to Baltimore. The O's are in a precarious situation as they shop for a veteran catcher in the wake of last month's trade of Ramon Hernandez. Matt Wieters will be assuming his throne some time in 2009, the only question is when. So no matter who the O's sign, they'll be signing him with the understanding that he is coming to town as a placeholder, a Band-Aid who will be phased out as soon as the Chosen One arrives from Norfolk. Maybe it will be May, maybe it will be July, but when the times comes, you'll be relegated to the bench, relied upon to dispense advice to the kid and give him a breather whenever he needs it.

Most veteran free agents would laugh in Andy MacPhail's face when presented with this scenario. For instance, I can't see Ivan Rodriguez (another rumored pickup) agreeing to this. But Gregg Zaun has made a career out of being there in a pinch. He's topped 110 games in only one season, and 38-year-old catchers with .251 career averages can't be too choosy. When contacted by the local media, Zaun's said the right things: Wieters is a great kid, I love the Orioles organization, etc. He probably mentioned something about Rick Dempsey being his uncle, which is the sort of trivia that has been beaten into the heads of Bird fans for the last decade-plus.

I wouldn't mind having Gregg Zaun behind the plate next year. We've plumbed the depths of Paul Bako and Geronimo Gil and the rest, and Gregg's certainly better than them. Besides, as a fellow Camden Chatter discovered, he's got one totally radical website.

Bring your Z-game, indeed.


William said...

I've got a soft spot in my heart for Gregg Zaun. I'm an Astros fan and got his auto before a 'Stros/Phillies game. I'll never forget how pumped up he was in July of 2002 after he hit that pinch hit walk-off grand slam against the Diamondbacks. I've never seen that much emotion on a baseball field before. Amazing. It's a big shame he was caught up in the steroid mess.

Kevin said...

William - Yeah, he's always struck me as kind of a fun guy, and I was shocked to see his name in the Mitchell Report. But I wonder what I'd have done in his shoes, if you've had to scrape by season-to-season just to stay on the roster and you see these juiced-up guys blowing past you.