Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mike Johnson, 1997 Fleer #532

You might have heard that the official World Baseball Classic rosters were released yesterday. I scanned them with mild interest this morning, looking for familiar players who have fallen off of the Major League Baseball radar (the biggest name among these being former Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams). I was also curious to see which former Orioles will be representing their home countries, or the countries of their ancestors in some cases.

There are four current Orioles who will play in the WBC next month. Default ace Jeremy Guthrie will pitch for Team USA, while the left side of the O's starting infield (shortstop Cesar Izturis and third baseman Melvin Mora) will wear the maroon and gold of Venezuela. Lastly, minor league infielder Mike Costanzo joins Team Italy.

Some of the ex-Oriole participants are familiar and expected names, while others may give you pause:

-Former closer B.J. Ryan will be in the American bullpen, and on the other end of the spectrum is Australian lefty Damian Moss, 1/3 of the disappointing return in 2003's Sidney Ponson trade.

-Fifth outfielder type Adam Stern will once again be catching flies for our maple-leaf-loving friends to the North. He'll be teaming with pitcher Mike Johnson (more on him in a moment).

-A foursome of one-time Birds join forces for the Dominican Republic: reliever Julio Manon, ageless catcher Alberto Castillo, shortstop/person of interest Miguel Tejada, and outfielder Jose Bautista.

-Trios are all the rage in Mexico: currently unsigned pitcher Rodrigo Lopez, infielder Jerry Hairston (whose heritage was a surprise to me), and forgettable two-time O's outfielder Karim Garcia.

-Speaking of free agents, our old pal Sidney Ponson will squeeze into an XXL jersey for the Netherlands, and will reunite with former teammate Gene Kingsale, an outfielder.

-Pitcher Bruce Chen rides again for Panama!

-It's mildly surprising that Puerto Rico has no Baltimore flavor. I guess Javy Lopez really is retired.

-A couple true Birdland favorites will join Melvin and Cesar on Team Venezuela: 2007 garbage heap hurler Victor Zambrano and sluggish catcher Ramon Hernandez.

You've got to agree, that's quite a list, featuring plenty of guys that you haven't thought about for years (assuming you're mentally sound). Mike Johnson might be the biggest wild card in the bunch, both in terms of his Orioles footprint - 0-1, 7.94 ERA in 14 games as a Rule 5 rookie in 1997 before being traded to the Expos in midyear - and his career in general. Mike is now 33 and has not pitched in the major leagues since tossing 11 and 1/3 innings with Montreal in 2001. He last played minor league ball in 2004 for the Expos' AAA club in Edmonton. These are things to keep in mind before you put your money on Canada in your WBC office pool.


Commish said...

I heard tonite that Miggy has declined his invite. I was only half lisyening but I thought I heard them say he had been told he'd play 1st base(?!?!) so he isn't playing.

Kevin said...

Miggy is the sensitive sort, isn't he?

Commish said...

And I'm the sort that can't type very well. ;-(

Rounding Thirty 3rd said...


Actually, that should be a real word - when you are craving to hear some really good news.