Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Larry Bigbie, 2004 Leaf Certified Materials #121

What would possess me to feature a Larry Bigbie card tonight? Well, I want to talk about Eric Byrnes, but I don't have any cards of him in an Orioles uniform. But the O's did trade Bigbie to acquire him at the trade deadline in 2005. It's a long and winding road that runs through my brain, but it gets you where you need to go.

Byrnes had been a productive major leaguer for a few seasons prior to his arrival in Baltimore, seeming to really come into his own with a .283 average, 20 homers, and 73 RBI in 2004. But he had been scuffling in Oakland in '05, and didn't light the world on fire in the two-and-a-half weeks he spent with the Rockies (.189 in 53 at-bats). The Birds must have hoped that the third team was a charm (or they were desperate to unload the fragile Bigbie), but they were off the mark. He didn't hit for average (.192), power (.299 SLG), or work the count (.246 OBP). He was 4-for-55 (.073) after August 31. Plus, the team cratered both on and off the field, having completed an in-season first-to-worst mini-collapse. So my first prolonged exposure to the man dubbed "the Human Crash Test Dummy" (for his reckless disregard for his own body in the outfield) was altogether unpleasant.

That offseason, Eric signed with the Diamondbacks. That's when he really started to bug me. He looked like a whole different player, putting up 67 doubles, 47 home runs, 162 RBI, and 75 steals with a .277 average in the 2006 and 2007 seasons combined. It was bad enough that he was producing while we were suffering with the likes of Jay Payton in left field, but he also started showing up on offseason and postseason ESPN and FOX baseball broadcasts as a loud, uninteresting, mop-headed color analyst. I particularly remember him camping out in a kayak in McCovey Cove during the 2007 All-Star Game. It was as hilarious as it sounds.

Of course, the Eric Byrnes I was familiar with from that two-month stretch of 2005 reared his ugly head soon after signing a three-year, $30 million contract extension with the Snakes. Injuries limited him to 136 games over the past two seasons, and his batting line was a grisly .218/.271/.382. This prompted Arizona to eat the last year of his contract, whereupon Seattle snapped him up on the cheap. The now-34-year-old hit rock bottom for the Mariners, scraping together three hits in 32 at-bats (.094) and going out in a blaze of baffling glory last Friday night. With Ichiro on third base with one out in the 11th inning of a scoreless tie, Byrnes was called upon to squeeze bunt. For no apparent reason, he pulled the bat back, leaving the incoming runner dead to rights. After the ball reached the catcher, Eric inexplicably squared to bunt again! Ichiro was easily tagged out, and opposing manager Ron Washington of the Rangers was ejected for arguing that the pitch should have been called a strike. A few pitches later, Byrnes struck out anyhow.

After the game, the floundering outfielder did not stick around to answer for his bizarre decision. Instead, he exited the clubhouse and rode his bicycle through the hallway, passing a group of reporters and Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik along the way. After sitting out Saturday's game, he went 0-for-4 on Sunday and was released shortly thereafter. It remains to be seen where he will land next, but I can only hope it's not anywhere near my television.


Kevin said...

I have a blog creating the ultimate set for any given year by taking the Topps sets and then adding any cards from other sets of players not found in the Topps sets. Today I put a list together for the 1982 Baltimore Orioles and added a link to this blog. My blog is http://ultimateset.blogspot.com/

If you know of any Baltimore Oriole regional sets or oddball cards that can fill in the blanks of my checklist, let me know.

Kevin said...

Kevin - Great idea for a blog! Thanks for the link. In 1991, Crown Gasoline and Coca-Cola sponsored a regional oddball set of cards featuring every player in modern Orioles history (1954-1990). You might be able to snag a set (it came in four series) somewhere, but if not I can send you some scans.

Kevin said...

I'm confused.

Kevin said...

Kevin - Could you make one for 1966 as well?

Kevin - That's a great set. I got mine back in the day at Memorial Stadium!

Kevin - So is Larry Bigbie about where his career went wrong.

Kevin said...

I'll keep those in mind when I get to 1991...which will be a little while from now. I am going through the 1982 teams in order of how they finished, sort of like an old Fleer set.

William said...

hahaha I'm the brigand who posted the anonymous as the anonymous "Kevins"...having 2 people post with that name threw me off, so I wanted to see how long I could keep it going. What are the chances we see a Dorn Taylor -- or a similar jabroni (you like wrestling, I'm sure you use that term) -- in the near future?

Kevin said...

Kevin - Are you just looking for cards that were manufactured in 1982, then? Because everyone who played in 1982 is in that set.

William - Haha, I might have guessed it was you. Dorn Taylor is lurking in that Crown/Coca-Cola set, as you probably know. Because that's such an off-the-wall choice, I might have to honor your request, you pencil neck geek. (There's a wrestling term for ya!)