Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cal Ripken, Jr., 2005 Fleer Showcase #124

Hey, just because Cal Ripken, Jr. retired years ago, there's no reason that card companies can't kept pimping his likeness for their own benefit, right?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cal Ripken, Jr., 1996 Sports Illustrated for Kids #455

Wow, the late 1960s and early 1970s were a dire time for childrens' sweater-related fashion. That's also an impressive combover for young Cal Ripken, Jr.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cal Ripken, Jr., 1996 Classic $100 Phone Card

This thing sure is a symbol of the time in which it was produced. When is the last time you knew someone who used a prepaid phone card? Back in the day, you might have killed a man to get your hands on a $100 card. If it should happen to have Cal Junior on it? Well, some people would have wiped out an entire small town for this bad boy. It's funny to think about now, but for the first three years of college I didn't own a cell phone. As I was living on campus on the Eastern Shore, my parents used to send me on my way with AT&T phone cards so that I might not disappear from their lives. This was as recent as 2003. I'm a reformed Luddite.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cal Ripken, Jr., 2001 Upper Deck Coca-Cola #1

This card comes from a special eight-card set that Upper Deck and Coca-Cola put out in 2001 to celebrate Cal Ripken, Jr.'s retirement. It's a different kind of photo than those that usually appear on a baseball card, with Cal accepting his 1982 Rookie of the Year plaque from Orioles general manager Hank Peters. That's a heck of a suit Hank's wearing - it's amazing to see how people dressed when I was born. That O's locker room certainly looks different, too. It more closely resembles the dressing room in a high school theatre when you think about the cushy accommodations that players have now. The years keep rolling.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cal Ripken, Jr., 2001 Topps Combos #TC16

Man, is this some of the shoddiest artwork you've ever seen on a card, or what? It looks more like John Lithgow and Jason Alexander than Cal Ripken, Jr. and Lou Gehrig. Hope you kept the receipt, Topps.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cal Ripken, Jr., 2007 Upper Deck Masterpieces #53

It's time once again for me to escape from work and home for a week in Ocean City, MD with the family. In my stead, I leave you with a week of Cal Ripken, Jr. cards. I have hundreds, so why not show off seven that grabbed my attention in one way or another? Have a good week, folks. See you back here for the holiday weekend!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Vintage Fridays: Davey Johnson, 1967 Topps #363

Will he or won't he?

It seems like every time there's a managerial vacancy somewhere along the Beltway, Davey Johnson's name is on everyone's lips. It makes sense. He was a three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove second baseman for the Orioles in his playing days, and started at the keystone for the O's clubs that won four pennants and two World Series in the six-year span from 1966 through 1971. In his 40s and 50s, he first led the Mets to a 1986 World Series win, then took the Reds from fifth place to back-to-back division crowns, and finally led his Baltimore clubs to back-to-back American League Championship Series. (Ohbytheway, we're fast approaching 30 years since the last world champion O's team. In those three decades, the only two Oriole clubs to reach the postseason were Davey's 1996-97 squads.) So sure, there's a lot of fondness for ol' Davey in Baltimore and even in D.C.

Yesterday, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman up and quit, despite the fact that his team was riding an 11-1 hot streak to put them over the .500 mark, a place Washington has never been at the end of a season. His contract only ran through the end of 2011, and he had grown frustrated by GM Mike Rizzo's refusal to discuss an extension. Bench coach John McLaren was appointed as interim skipper, but rumor has it that the Nats are looking to make another move by Monday. Davey Johnson is already in the front office as a special adviser to Rizzo, and of course he's receiving most of the buzz despite his age (68) and the fact that he hasn't managed in the majors since the Dodgers axed him in 2000. But hey, he's just a pup next to Jack McKeon.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fernando Tatis, 2006 Upper Deck Gold #1009

Yep, Fernando Tatis was an Oriole. I'm all about celebrating the guys on the fringes of the major leagues: the quadruple-A types, the formerly solid performers fighting against the tide of injuries and age, the career minor leaguers who get a taste of the good life when a team catches itself short-handed. Naturally, being a fan of a team that seems to be perpetually adrift, I get exposed to plenty of fringy baseballers.

If you remember Fernando Tatis at all, you remember him as he was with the 1999 Cardinals, when he put up a .298/.404/.553 line with 34 home runs and 107 RBI. He also had a ridiculous game on April 23 of that year in which he became the only player to hit two grand slams in the same inning...off of the same pitcher. (Why, yes, it was Chan Ho Park. Go figure.) Injuries sapped him of his effectiveness and playing time thereafter, and he seemed to be finished after hitting .194/.281/.263 in 53 games with the Expos in 2003. He was only 28 at that time.

Fernando didn't play at all in 2004 or 2005. But he got involved with the building of a church in his native Dominican Republic, and decided to attempt a comeback in 2006 to raise money for the project. The Orioles signed him to a minor league deal, and he started the season at AAA Ottawa. He hit .298 with a .372 on-base percentage in 90 games with the Lynx, and the O's promoted him to the big leagues in July. In his first start in over three years, he went 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and a pair of runs scored. A week later, he singled and homered against Randy Johnson. Though he played sparingly, he spent the rest of the season in Baltimore, and did well enough, hitting .250/.313/.500 with 2 homers and 8 RBI in 64 plate appearances. 9 of his 14 hits went for extra bases.

Tatis caught on with the Mets in 2007 and spent the entire year at AAA New Orleans, where he totaled 57 extra-base hits, including 21 home runs. He spent the next three seasons as an important role player in New York, with cumulative stats of .279/.343/.447, 21 home runs, and 101 RBI in 258 games. Now he appears to be retired for good, and there's a good chance that his church was built; in 2010, he earned $1.7 million from the Mets.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Milt Pappas, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #351

72 games into the 2011 season, I’m getting a creeping sense of familiarity. The Orioles, for all the talk of prospects and youth and rebuilding and ooh shiny new manager, are and forever have been taking one step forward, two steps back. Injuries spread like a fungus through the pitching staff, veteran free agents wheeze along on fumes, the expensive and well-maintained juggernauts in Boston and New York plow the rest of the league under, and we count the empty green seats downtown. For the 14th consecutive summer, it looks like I will be grasping for things to cheer about: individual achievements, quirky statistical anomalies, funny little moments in the midst of otherwise ignorable three-hour games. Celebrate each and every one of those hard-earned wins, because here in Baltimore you only get 65 to 75, never any more than that. Who knows when that next “W” will appear.

So here’s your anomaly for the week: today, Oriole rookie pitcher Zach Britton went 2-for-3 at the plate with a run scored. With 3 interleague games left to be played in National League parks (July 1-3 at Atlanta), Baltimore pitchers have collected 7 hits in 15 official at-bats, a .467 average. They’ve had a pair of doubles, a pair of RBI, and the run that Britton scored. The lefthander got the party started last Friday with an RBI double in his first major league at-bat, and is 3-for-5 (.600) on the year. On Sunday, first-baseman-turned-journeyman-pitcher Chris Jakubauskas collected a pair of singles in three trips to the plate. Jake Arrieta dumped a shallow fly ball into no-man’s land to plate a run on Monday. Last night, Jeremy Guthrie doubled in three at-bats in a losing effort. The only O’s pitcher to bat this year without producing a hit is Brian Matusz, who had a groundout and a flyout in two AB’s on Sunday.

Since interleague play began in 1997, Birds pitchers had never totaled more than five hits in any season. What's more, pitchers on the other 13 American League clubs had combined for 9 hits in 120 at-bats (.075) in 2011 entering play today. Of course, the current batch of slugging Oriole pitchers are not going to threaten Milt Pappas' 11 career homers any time soon - that's the team record at the position. But it's better than watching Daniel Cabrera alternately flail away at the plate or refuse to lift the bat from his shoulder.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jorge Julio, 2005 Topps Total Silver #503

I need some input from the blog world, specifically those of you who are team collectors. How do you do it? How do you organize your team cards in binders? It would make my blogging life much easier if I had my Orioles collection arrayed in those nifty clear pockets to page through, rather than stacked in boxes. But as robust as my collection is, there are so many holes. You're talking about parallels (like the superfluous Jorge Julio card above...you're not fooling me, Topps. That border is g-r-a-y, GRAY), inserts, short prints...do you just leave blank spaces for those missing cards - any and all missing cards? Or do you just fill every pocket with a card, letting the chips fall where they will? Do you focus on base cards, and store your inserts and parallels and all of that other noise separately? I'm probably not asking my questions coherently. Basically, just tell me how you organize and store your team collection. Spare no detail, tedious though it may seem. You're performing a great service for a silly man.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Earl Weaver, 2002 Topps Super Teams #102

Today the Marlins announced that Jack McKeon, who previously led the Fish to their second World Series title in 2003, has been appointed as the club's interim manager for the duration of the 2011 season. This is noteworthy because McKeon is 80 years old, and first managed in the big leagues with the Royals in 1973.  He is plenty old, as countless baseball bloggers have hastened to point out today. He managed George Brett and Rickey Henderson during their rookie seasons, and gas cost 50 cents a gallon when he first took the helm of a big league team (recently having spiked from 25 cents due to shortages). The only other octogenarian skipper in MLB history was the legendary Connie Mack, who managed the Philadelphia Athletics until he was 88. But there's an asterisk there: Mack was also the owner of the A's, so he had some unprecedented job security. He also delegated most of the managerial duties to his son and to coach Al Simmons in his later years.

I'm more than willing to add my voice to the chorus: how old is Jack McKeon? He is three months and nine days younger than Earl Weaver, who retired as Orioles manager for the second and final time 25 years ago. I know that there are plenty of disenchanted O's fans who have spent much of the last quarter-century yearning to see Earl back in the Baltimore dugout, although he seems to want no part of it. If McKeon has any success down in Miami, a lot more people might start pestering the argumentative Hall of Famer.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Jerry Hairston, Jr., 2002 Fleer Ultra #115

There's no better day than Father's Day to feature Jerry Hairston, Jr., one of the rare third-generation major leaguers. One of the first things that comes to mind when I think about my own father is sacrifice. Over the last three decades, my dad has done lots of things that were probably less than enjoyable or pleasant for him, but he selflessly put the needs of me and my sister ahead of his own interests. When I was eight years old, he took me to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles "concert" at the Baltimore Arena. That act alone probably qualifies him for sainthood. When I got my first summer job at Bengie's Drive-In Movie Theatre, I didn't have my license yet. So every night, he would make the 10-minute drive up the street to pick me up from work...usually after midnight. Speaking of driving, he drew the short straw and had to go riding with me when I got my learner's permit. The first time we drove together, I jumped a curb and blew out a tire, bending the rim. I can't imagine the patience it took a) to not throttle me right on the spot and b) to get back in the car with me after that incident. A few summers ago, Dad even accompanied me to a WWE live wrestling event at Frederick's Harry Grove Stadium. Even in my adulthood, he hasn't stopped going out on a limb for me. Happy Father's Day, Dad, and thanks for all you've done.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cal Ripken, Jr., 2004 Donruss Studio #27

Yesterday I had to make a pit stop at Target to do some Father's Day shopping, so I figured I'd get a little something nice for myself. I tried in vain to find one of those vintage repacks that Night Owl keeps going on about, but I did find the markdown bin on the bottom shelf. I passed over some 2009 Goodwin Champions and 2008 Topps, but grabbed two packs of 2010 Upper Deck and four packs of 2004 Donruss Studio for a buck-fifty-nine a piece. The Studio was a real treat, as you usually don't find anything that far back on the shelves. Orioles-wise, I did pretty well. The Upper Deck packs yielded one of my Coveted Cluster needs, former backup catcher Chad Moeller. I also got an Adam Jones Supreme Green insert card. From the Studio packs, I pulled this swell card of Cal Ripken, Jr. superimposed on the Baltimore skyline at the Inner Harbor. That's a lot more O's mojo than I usually have when ripping packs. Not a bad way to start the weekend.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Vintage Fridays: Mike Cuellar, 1970 Topps #199

I'm going to acknowledge up front that I'm gaming the time on this one a bit. It's not being posted until 12:30 AM on Saturday, but it's going to count for Friday. This card commemorates Mike Cuellar's strong performance in the first-ever American League Championship Series game on October 4, 1969. He pitched eight innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits and a walk while striking out seven. However, he left trailing 3-2, as his counterpart Jim Perry had been up to the task for the Twins. Perry began the ninth inning looking for a complete game victory, with the only blemishes on his slate being solo home runs by Frank Robinson and Mark Belanger. (Yes, Mark Belanger.) But the longball proved Perry's undoing, as Boog Powell tied the game with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth. A Brooks Robinson single chased the Minnesota starter, but Ron Perranoski held the line and the game went into extra innings. In the twelfth, Perranoski's fourth inning of work, he finally cracked. Belanger eked out an infield hit, Andy Etchebarren bunted him over, Don Buford moved him to third with a grounder, and Paul Blair dropped a bunt single to plate the winner. It was indeed a squeaker...that's e-a, not e-e. You'll have to indulge the English major in me.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jonathan Schoop, 2011 Bowman Prospects #BP25

As with most minor leaguers that Bowman features, Jonathan Schoop is probably several years away from the majors. But he's also a rarity in the Oriole farm system: an international prospect. Schoop (pronounced Scope) was born in Curacao, which is best known by baseball fans as the native country of outfielder Andruw Jones. He began his pro baseball career with the Birds' Dominican Summer League team in 2009, and performed well stateside last year at age 18. He hit .290 overall at three levels, most notably carrying a .316 average with 11 doubles in 39 games at rookie-level Bluefield. The back of this card tells me that he has a strong arm, without which he probably wouldn't be playing much shortstop. Of course, nothing is etched in stone, and Jonathan has further enhanced his value as a player by logging time at second base, third base, and the outfield. After hitting .316 with a .376 on-base percentage and .514 slugging percentage in 51 games at low-A Delmarva this spring, he was recently promoted to high-A Frederick, where he will continue playing all over the field. (Last year's #1 pick, Manny Machado, will get most of the innings at shortstop.) So far he's holding his own as one of the youngest players in the Carolina League, hitting .289 through his first 11 games with 7 runs scored and 4 driven in. ESPN's Keith Law, whose judgment I trust on these matters, has said that he's getting some early consideration for next year's Top 100 Prospects list. I suppose eventually my first reaction when an Oriole minor league position player gets national attention won't be surprise, but for now I'll just accept it as a happy accident.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chris Ray, 2007 Fleer #298

Chris Ray was an Oriole for parts of four seasons, but I didn't know much about the guy. He was born in 1982 (like me), was a product of the College of William and Mary, and used Marilyn Manson's cover of "Sweet Dreams" as his walk-in music from the bullpen...talk about creepy. But it turns out that Chris is also a beer fanatic.

Now I appreciate and enjoy a good brew while I'm at the ballpark or sitting on the couch watching the game on TV, but Chris Ray is serious about his beer. According to this blog post by Kendall Jones, the reliever is an avid home brewer, with greater aspirations for the future. He and his brother have hopes of someday opening their own brewery in Ashland, VA, where Chris lives in the offseason. With the help of his father-in-law (a farmer), he plans to grow his own hops.

The article came about because Chris and Kendall visited Seattle's Fremont Brewing Company last Monday to brew a special batch of beer. Homefront IPA will be sold at several locations in the Seattle area, including Safeco Field, with the proceeds going to Operation Homefront, a charitable organization that assists the families of military members and wounded veterans.

It's good to see Chris putting his other talents to good use, and hopefully the press that he gets helps him to connect with others who appreciate his craft:

I asked if any of his fellow Mariners like craft beer, and if he and the rest of the bullpen ever slip out for a good beer after a game. “Not really,” he said. “There are a few guys, but it’s pretty hard converting light beer drinkers. I do bring my beer into the club house, though.”
Bunch of Philistines.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Terry Crowley, 1983 Fleer #55

Terry Crowley is forever.

In 1966, when the Orioles won their first World Series, they drafted a 19-year-old kid out of Long Island University with their 11th-round pick. It was, of course, "the Crow".

He debuted in 1969, a September callup for the first O's team to lose in the World Series. He went 6-for-18 in 7 games at the end of that season.

A year later, he was a valuable bench bat for the 1970 World Champions, hitting .257 but endearing himself to Earl Weaver by drawing enough walks to post a .394 on-base percentage.

After a two-year exile to Cincinnati, he played seven games for the Braves in 1976 before being released. Three weeks later, he was back in Baltimore, where he stayed through the 1982 season. There was a return to the World Series in 1979, and a near-miss in 1982. At the end of that season, Weaver departed, and so did Crowley, finishing his playing career in 1983 as a Montreal Expo.

In 1985, Terry and Earl were both back in the Oriole dugout, with Crow serving as his former manager's hitting coach. Though Weaver retired for good after the 1986 season, Crowley stayed until 1988.

This time, he didn't resurface in Charm City until 1999, spending much of the interim in Minnesota as Tom Kelly's batting instructor. He reprised the role in Baltimore under Ray Miller, and kept it through the 2010 season, surviving several more managers. Even when he left the post during the past offseason, it was reported that it had been his own choice. Whether or not that was true, he remained in the fold as a minor league instructor.

This week, pitching coach Mark Connor unexpectedly resigned, with bullpen coach Rick Adair assuming his duties. That left an urgent need for an interim bullpen coach, and the Crow got the call. It's not expected to be a long-term solution, but the fact remains that Terry Crowley is spending at least part of a 29th season in an Orioles uniform, and it's his fifth separate stint. 45 years after the Birds kick-started his pro baseball career, he's still here...or here again.

To end on a complete non-sequitir, how about that goofy, gawky kid hovering over Terry's shoulder on this card?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Craig Worthington, 1990 Topps Heads Up #22

What in the wide world of sports is this monstrosity? Well, obviously it's the disembodied head of former Orioles third baseman Craig Worthington. More specifically, it's a Topps Heads Up...card? Collectible? Call it what you will, it's a five-inch tall cardboard likeness of Craig's head, with an adhesive strip and a suction cup on the back. You could totally hang it up in your locker, or on your car window! I'm not sure why you would, but it's your prerogative. I obtained this thingy as part of the TribeCards Buck-a-Box break, and my haul arrived today in the mail. In addition to my Craighead, I also received a Gregg Olson Heads Up (now I have the entire two-head team set!), six 1988 Sportflics (Ray Knight, Cal Ripken, Jr., Billy Ripken, Eddie Murray, Larry Sheets, and a trivia card with the Orioles team logo), two 2009 Allen and Ginter (both Nick Markakis - base card and National Pride insert), and four 2011 Bowman (Ronnie Welty, Nick Markakis gold parallel, and Jonathan Schoop in base card and Chrome flavors). Not bad for the cost of an Abe Lincoln. Now I just have to decide where to hang the floating heads of the Orioles' top two rookies of 1989...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Eddie Murray, 1984 Donruss #47

This is a pretty strange photo. It looks like the ball is getting ready to bury itself in Eddie Murray's cheek, yet Steady Eddie isn't flinching in the slightest. If I had to guess, I'd say that he stared the ball down, causing it to freeze in terror an inch away from his face. The ball then slunk away meekly, grateful that Murray showed mercy by not clobbering it into the stratosphere.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Nick Markakis, 2008 Upper Deck Timeline #34

Last night Nick Markakis finally slew the foul alien replicant that had supplanted him in the Orioles lineup. At least that's the most reasonable explanation I can muster. Why else would the right fielder, who claims he's completely healthy and entered 2011 with a career .298/.368/.463 batting line and 4 straight 40-double seasons, be sitting on a line of .238/.298/.304 as action began last night? He had only four doubles all year, and no extra-base hits of any kind since homering against the Rays on May 15.

But last night, he nearly single-handedly drove the Baltimore offense. With the O's leading by a run in the bottom of the second, Luke Scott led off with a walk and Mark Reynolds doubled against Jeremy Hellickson, who didn't give up a run in either of his first two starts vs. the Birds this year. It looked like they were going to let him off the hook when Felix Pie lined out and Robert Andino was retired on an inexplicable bunt attempt. But J. J. Hardy coaxed a walk, and Markakis put a sudden and satisfying end to his drought by lining the first pitch he saw over the right field scoreboard for his third career grand slam. 5-0 Orioles.

The Birds' offense went dormant after that, so Nick decided to tack on some insurance in the eighth. Back-to-back two-out hits by Andino and Hardy set the stage, and Markakis knocked them in with a double to deep left-center. Not only did he have his first two extra-base hits in nearly a month, but he also set a new career best with six RBI in a game.

It might be premature to say that Nick is back, but he does have a couple singles tonight. Given his previous track record, I'm comfortable with giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Vintage Fridays: Jim Northrup, 1975 Topps #641

No one likes writing downer posts, but I've noticed that three old Orioles passed away in recent weeks and tribute should be paid.

Most recently, Jim Northrup died on Wednesday at age 71 after struggling with rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer's Disease in recent years. He was best known for his decade-plus with the Tigers, particularly his heroics in Detroit's 1968 championship season. That year, he hit 21 homers and drove in a career-high 90 runs, and knocked in another 8 in the World Series. Seven of those RBI came in the final three games of the Fall Classic, as the Tigers fought back from a three games-to-one deficit to unseat the Cardinals. His grand slam in Game 6 blew the contest open, giving his club an 8-0 third-inning lead.

He finished his career in Baltimore, going 4-for-7 with a pair of walks in late September 1974 after being purchased from the Expos. He came back in 1975 to serve as a part-time outfielder and pinch hitter, and had a solid .273 average in 84 games. He excelled in the pinch hit role, putting up a .391 AVG/.484 OBP/.652 SLG in 31 plate appearances. On April 26, 1975, Northrup pinch hit for Mark Belanger with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, runners on the corners, and Cleveland leading the O's 2-1. The 35-year-old veteran delivered a single to score Ken Singleton with the tying run, and one batter later Al Bumbry completed the comeback with a walkoff single.

Like Northrup, Jim Pyburn also succumbed to Alzheimer's Disease recently. He passed away on May 21 at age 78. Pyburn was one of the early "bonus baby" amateur signings, a football and baseball star at Auburn University who inked a $48,000 deal with the Orioles in 1955. Because of the major league rules at the time, he was forced to remain on the big league roster instead of developing at his own pace in the minors. He played third base and center field for Baltimore from 1955-1957, struggling to keep up with the top pitchers in the sport. He had a batting line of .190/.275/.272, totaling only 3 homers and 20 RBI in 333 trips to the plate over those three seasons. After spending a chunk of 1957 and all of 1958 back in the minor leagues, he walked away from baseball and returned to Auburn as an assistant to football coach Vince Dooley. He spent nearly two decades on Dooley's staff at Auburn and then the University of Georgia, working with defensive players. An O's highlight came on June 11, 1957, when his two-run homer off of Billy Hoeft broke a seventh-inning 1-1 tie. The Orioles went on to win 4-1.

Former righthanded pitcher Duane Pillette lived a long and productive life, finally leaving this world on May 6 at age 88. He spent parts of 8 seasons (1949-1956) with the Yankees, Browns, Orioles, and Phillies. His career started late because he went to college at Santa Clara University and then served in World War II. He started and finished the final St. Louis Browns game, taking a tough 11-inning loss by a 3-2 score on September 27, 1953. He also went the distance on April 14, 1954, earning the Orioles' first-ever win by a 3-2 score over the Tigers. Despite a lackluster 10-14 record that year, his 3.12 ERA and 1.26 WHIP were the best marks on the Baltimore staff.

Happy trails, fellas.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bob Melvin, 1991 Bowman #89

Bob Melvin got a new job today. Bully for him! The former Tigers/Giants/Orioles/Royals/Red Sox/Yankees/White Sox catcher is now the interim manager of the Oakland Athletics, after the O's beat the A's so badly that they had no choice but to fire skipper Bob Geren. Sure, the experts will blather on about four straight years without a winning record this, and alienated the players that, but you and I know the truth. Anyway, I'm glad Melvin is getting another shot. In 2007, he led the Diamondbacks to 90 wins and an NLCS appearance and won the N.L. Manager of the Year Award. Arizona finished with a record 11 games better than expected, based on the fact that they were outscored over the course of the year by 20 runs. I don't know if you can give him the credit, but let's see you win a division with Livan Hernandez, Doug Davis, and Micah Owings as your 2-3-4 starting pitchers. Anyway, they slipped to 82 wins the next year despite adding Randy Johnson and Dan Haren, and Bob got the quick axe in 2009 when the club got off to a 12-17 start. Sounds like a raw deal if you ask me. I hereby wish Bob Melvin and the Athletics the best of luck...until August 15, when the O's travel to that empty concrete pit in Oakland to settle the season series.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Adam Jones, 2010 Topps 206 Bronze #196

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the third annual MASN Orioles' Blogger Night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. You can read about my previous experiences here and here. We had a smaller group this year, probably because it was a weeknight and a handful of the best O's bloggers are from far-flung locales like New York, North Carolina, and Atlanta. But it's always good to see familiar faces like Stacey and Mark (Camden Chat), Anthony and James (Oriole Post), and Daniel (Camden Crazies). I also got to meet Jon from Camden Depot.

There were some new MASN folks in charge of the event this year: Jim Buckle and Lindsay Rykiel. Both did a fantastic job keeping things running smoothly, and helped keep things fresh for those of us who had been there before. We were able to hang out right on the field during batting practice, taking in the sights and sounds while the O's took their hacks. There was an athletic-looking guy in t-shirt and shorts standing nearby, and I spent a few minutes racking my brain to figure out where I'd seen him before. Much to my satisfaction, I soon correctly identified him as Rams wide receiver (and ex-Raven) Mark Clayton. He was there as a guest of Adam Jones. Local reporters such as Peter Schmuck, Mark Viviano, and Pete Kerzel chatted with the coaches and Buck Showalter. Here's a few pictures:

 Above: Buck chats with the Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck

 Above: Rick Dempsey chats with a fan. Actor Ed Harris, who threw out the first pitch, warms up in the background in a #11 jersey.

Another new (and exciting) part of last night's itinerary was a Q-and-A with Adam Jones. He was candid and engaging, giving thoughtful responses to our questions even though he's probably heard them all before. Highlights:

-I knew that San Diego was his hometown, so I asked if he had spent much time in Coronado, where some friends of mine live. He was adamant that he doesn't really go down there; I'd forgotten that it's more of a hoi polloi sort of place, just because my friends are sort of fish out of water there. But he met me halfway, noting that he did play games against Coronado High School. He also mentioned a breakfast place near Balboa Park that he liked but couldn't remember its name.

-I asked about his favorite road city: Chicago, for the food and the attractions and cleanliness. He doesn't like playing in Oakland, especially since the ballpark is "like the Grand Canyon". He also mentioned that it sucked to go to Cleveland and Detroit, neither of which offer much night life.

-I wanted to know if there were any pitchers Adam dreaded facing. He's relieved that Roy Halladay is gone from the American League East.

-I also asked whether he heard from players on other teams after his amazing catch last week in Seattle. Adam said that he got some text messages that night, and that a lot of the Toronto players were complimenting him during the following series in Baltimore. I think those were all of the questions I had. Some of his responses to others:

-His approach to Twitter: "I don't get too personal...I always think, 'is this something I want my Mom to see?'".

-Stacey asked why the O's outfielders had stopped doing their jump celebration. It turns out that Jones had a habit of landing on Felix Pie's feet, and Felix didn't like having 220 pounds come down on his toes. So after a recent win, Felix audibled to a group hug and they just went with it. The man is too entertaining for words.

-What was his Draft Day experience? He didn't have a big party like all of the draftees they showed on television Monday night. He was in his high school government class.

-How does he pass the time on flights? Depends on where they're going. "Longer flights mean more booze." He clarified that they only drink when they're headed out of town, since they're all getting in their cars when they get back to Baltimore. Wise choice. He also plays cards, listens to music, and watches DirecTV (especially National Geographic - he likes "I Survived").

-Adam isn't really on guard when he's out on the town. He doesn't mind signing autographs or saying hello to fans, just don't bother him while he's eating. Reasonable enough.

-He hasn't ever gotten on Buck Showalter's bad side, and doesn't plan on it in the future. "Do you want me to get in trouble?"

When we wrapped up the session, he shook hands with each of us. I thought that was a cool thing to do.

 No one thought to ask Adam about his "I Love Boobies" bracelet. I assume it's for breast cancer awareness, but either way, more power to him.

Next we got to watch Jim Hunter and Rick Dempsey prepare for the MASN pregame show, and we had time for a few questions. Jim carries a messenger bag stuffed to the gills with draft almanacs, stat books, and media guides every time he goes to the park. Both men have earpieces, and they deal with producers talking in their ears on a regular basis.

 Next we traveled up to the broadcast booth. Unfortunately we were running a bit late, so Gary Thorne was off grabbing a quick bite to eat before he had to go on air. But Mike Flanagan was kind enough to interrupt his own pregame meal to chat with us. He talked about the importance of letting the game dictate the conversation, as opposed to forcing in your own prepared talking points. He also offered a few anecdotes from his career. He said that the only time he was ejected from a game was in 1991, when  an impatient umpire called him for a balk in a tie game. Mike claimed that the umpires had a flight to catch, and one of them was checking his watch. By the way, his memory was pretty spot-on.
 The view from the broadcast booth.

An anecdote from Flanny's early broadcasting days: Indians pitcher Chad Ogea (pronounced Oh-jay) is warming up. Mike says, "They've finally got Ogea in the 'pen". As the words are coming out of his mouth, he's certain that he's crossed the line, but it starts snowballing. "I bet the glove doesn't fit." Fortunately, the old lefthander didn't get himself run out of the booth for his take on current events.
The backdrop in the booth.

I would like to tell you that I beat the 90-degree heat by watching the game itself from the comfort of the fully furnished and air-conditioned MASN suite, but I just couldn't separate myself from the action. I sweated it out in the balcony seats in front of the suite, but I was certain to help myself to a few cold beers and some crab cakes, chicken wraps and tenders, and cookies. By perching out in the box, I also missed a drop-in by Joe Orsulak, but he was kind enough to leave behind some autographed postcards for all of us.

The game exceeded my expectations, with spot starter Chris Jakubauskas teaming up with relievers Clay Rapada, Jeremy Accardo, and Koji Uehara to shut out the Athletics on five hits in a tidy two and a half hours. Jakubauskas' story is a good one. The 32-year-old spent the first five years of his pro career riding buses in the independent leagues, playing for storied franchises like the Florence Freedom, Ohio Valley Redcoats, and Fullerton Flyers. He appeared in 35 games for the Mariners in 2009, going 6-7 with a 5.32 ERA. In his first start for the Pirates in 2010, he was injured by a Lance Berkman line drive to the head four batters into the game and missed the rest of the year. This was his first big league start since, and he got the win with a career-high five strikeouts. There was a moment when it looked like he might get hosed out of a win, as another comebacker hit him in the leg with two outs in the fifth inning. But he shook it off and completed the inning on the next pitch.

The name of the game for the O's hitters was power. J. J. Hardy, batting leadoff for the first time in his career, made like Rickey Henderson and hit the second pitch he saw for a home run to give Jakubauskas an early lead. He also played some smooth defense, as did the rest of his mates in the infield. The slumping and banged-up Luke Scott hit one of the most impressive home runs I've ever seen in person, a towering shot that arced so high that A's right fielder David DeJesus was camping under it with his glove extended even as it was soaring over the out-of-town scoreboard, clearing the flag court and landing on Eutaw Street. It was Luke's sixth career home run to land out on the concourse, surpassing Rafael Palmeiro for a Camden Yards record. A third solo homer came from Adam Jones, who showed off for us bloggers with a 3-for-4 night. The last run came on back-to-back doubles by Luke and Mark Reynolds in the seventh.

Well, I've prattled on long enough. Thanks to Jim, Lindsay, Adam Jones, Jim Hunter, Rick Dempsey, Mike Flanagan, and everyone else who took time out from their regular jobs to make a few small-time bloggers feel appreciated.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dwight Smith, 1995 Topps #261

Major League Baseball and its clubs kicked off the Rule 4 Amateur Draft last night, and I'm happy with the Orioles' fourth-overall choice of high school beast Dylan Bundy, for whatever that's worth. I realize these things are a crapshoot, but I'll take my chances with a kid who can hit 100 mph at age 18 with a 158-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Add in the fact that his big brother Bobby is currently 6-3 with a 2.73 ERA at the Orioles' single-A Frederick affiliate, and you've got a great story.

Of course, the draft is also an annual reminder of the relentless passage of time. The high school seniors being picked this year are a full decade younger than yours truly. In a pre-taped profile of A's first-rounder Sonny Gray, it was mentioned that he had starred in a school production of "High School Musical". This is a new and scary generation, I said, shaking my fist impotently at the young hooligans loitering in my yard. It really hits home when I hear the names of players I grew up collecting...only there are "juniors" appended. Last year it was Delino DeShields, Jr. getting the call from the Astros. Yesterday evening, the Yankees used a first-round "sandwich pick" (51st overall) to select Dante Bichette, Jr. Just two picks later, the Blue Jays picked up another high school outfielder, Dwight Smith, Jr.

For what it's worth, Li'l Dante was considered a reach at #51, with such lovely descriptors as "real power", "lacks quickness", and "a whole lot like what Shelley Duncan brought to the table" (ouch!). Smith, whose pops hit .311 in a 28-game stint with the Orioles in the strike-shortened 1994 season, has been called a "pure hitter" and a "physically-stronger" version of his dad, which is all you can ask for, right? Of course, Smith the Elder was renowned for his lovely singing voice, and baseball card copy writers loved to mention his occasional pregame renditions of the Star-Spangled Banner. No word on whether Dwight Jr.'s pipes measure up to the old man.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Joe Coleman, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #80

Joe Coleman
A recent Baseball-Reference Blog post brought an odd old Orioles game to my attention. On July 6, 1954, the brand-new Birds traveled to Cleveland to face a juggernaut Indians team. Future Hall of Famer Early Wynn got the start for the Tribe, and began the proceedings with a scoreless first inning. O's starter Joe Coleman did not do the same.

Bill Glynn led off with a homer. Bobby Avila and Larry Doby singled, and each moved up a base on a wild throw by left fielder Cal Abrams. Baltimore manager Jimmy Dykes ordered an intentional walk for Al Rosen, who would win the A.L. MVP that year. Wally Westlake cleared the bases with a triple. Dave Philley walked. George Strickland singled to drive Westlake home.

Coleman was yanked, having given up five hits and two walks to the first seven batters of the game. The O's were in a 5-0 hole and things were about to get worse.

Reliever Mike Blyzka was greeted rudely by Jim Hegan, who singled in run number six. Wynn bunted to third for a single(!). Glynn, batting for the second time in the inning, had a two-RBI single. That closed the book on poor Coleman, who gave up seven earned runs without retiring a batter. In the process, his ERA jumped from 2.58 to 3.07. Finally, Avila flied out to Abrams for the Indians' first out after ten batters reached safely and eight runs scored. Still, Cleveland wasn't done abusing the Birds.

Doby singled in Wynn, Rosen walked, Westlake popped out, and Philley singled in a pair. To add insult to injury, future Oriole Philley stole second. Blyzka finally stopped the bleeding, inducing a groundout to short from Strickland. 11 runs on 10 hits, 1 error, and 3 walks. If you're wondering how rare this explosion was, only 10 teams since 1950 have batted around in a game before recording an out. But this game was rarer still.

After allowing two inherited runs plus four of his own in that ugly first inning, Mike Blyzka shut down the Indians. He gave the O's another six innings of emergency relief, scattering four hits and three walks. Howie Fox relieved him in the eighth and retired the side in order. Alas, the Oriole offense couldn't touch Wynn until the eighth inning. They got on the board with a Jim Brideweser RBI triple, and tacked on a couple more runs in the ninth with four straight singles. But Wynn stranded two Baltimore runners to wrap up the complete game victory. Indians 11, Orioles 3 in 2:00. Can you imagine a 14-run, 28-baserunner game finishing in 2 hours flat?

Of the 10 post-World War II games on record in which a team batted around before making an out, this was the only one in which the offense was shut out for the rest of the game. Baseball is delightfully weird.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Arthur Rhodes, 1993 Donruss #133

Aaand as promised, here are the ex-Orioles muddling along with other American League teams in 2011.

-Gustavo Molina, C, Yankees: .167/.167/.333. He had a double in six at-bats in April, but is currently taking in the glorious sights and sounds in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

-Darnell McDonald, OF, Red Sox: .143/.217/.286, 1 HR, 1 RBI. Last year's scrap heap surprise has crashed down to earth in his first 19 games of this season.

-Matt Albers, RP, Red Sox: 1-3, 3.86 ERA, 1.38 WHIP. Hey hey hey, it's Faaaaat Albers! The hefty righty actually has had a good season except for a blowup against the Cubs in which he allowed six runs (five earned) without retiring a batter.

-Rich Hill, RP, Red Sox: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP. Boston turned the erratic pitcher into a lefty specialist, which was going really well until his elbow went boom in his ninth appearance of the year. He's on the shelf until 2012 now.

-Jose Bautista, OF, Blue Jays: .354/.500!/.753!, 20 HR, 40 RBI. I would feel a lot worse about the Birds giving up on him after 12 plate appearances in 2004, but it took another four team changes and six seasons before he turned into Baseball Galactus.

-Corey Patterson, OF, Blue Jays: .294/.322/.467, 5 HR, 28 RBI. I don't know how he does it, but the dude keeps on keepin' on. Homered and added two bunt singles in yesterday's game vs. the Orioles.

-Omir Santos, C, Tigers: .200/.200/.200. Detroit just called him up from Toledo after Brandon Inge went on the DL, and he has a single in five trips to the plate.

-Will Ohman, RP, White Sox: 0-0, 5.79 ERA, 1.43 WHIP. 3 home runs allowed in 14 innings is not so good.

-Bruce Chen, SP, Royals: 4-1, 3.59 ERA, 1.34 WHIP. Believe it or not, Bruce was the top pitcher in the K.C. rotation until he strained a lat muscle about a month ago.

-Jim Hoey, RP, Twins: 0-2, 9.53 ERA, 2.47 WHIP. Yeeeah, I think we might have gotten the best of that J. J. Hardy trade. 20 hits, 8 walks, 8 strikeouts in 11.1 innings.

-Arthur Rhodes, RP, Rangers: 3-3, 1 SV, 4.85 ERA, 1.46 WHIP. The ancient southpaw has already allowed four homers, the same total he surrendered in the full 2010 season.

-Jack Cust, DH, Mariners: .229/.369/.343, 2 HR, 19 RBI. Leave it to Safeco Field to sap Stumblin' Jack's power. Fun fact: Cust has 38 hits and 36 walks...and 56 strikeouts.

-Erik Bedard, SP, Mariners: 3-4, 3.41 ERA, 1.26 WHIP. Don't look now, but Buh-DARD looks healthy. I wonder if Seattle has thought about trading him before the other shoe drops.

-Chris Ray, RP, Mariners: 2-1, 6.60 ERA, 1.67 WHIP. As bad as the overall stats look, he hasn't given up an earned run since May 4. That includes a pair of scoreless outings against the Orioles.

I tell you what: let's see if Toronto would accept a trade of Luke Scott for Jose Bautista. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Rodrigo Lopez, 2003 Donruss Diamond Kings #10

I came home after a dinner with my family last night and flicked on the Cubs-Cardinals game on the MLB Network. I was treated to a rare double-sighting of Rodrigo Lopez and Lou Montanez, both of whom were recently added to the Cubs roster. Two months into the season, it seems like a fine time to do a roundup of former Orioles across the major leagues. I'll break it up into two parts, with the National Leaguers kicking things off today. All stats are through Friday's games.

-Danys Baez, RP, Phillies: 1-3, 4.33 ERA, 1.48 WHIP. He's made 22 appearances out of the Phils' bullpen and given up 32 hits in 27 innings. That sounds about right.

-George Sherrill, RP, Braves: 1-1, 2.57 ERA, 1.21 WHIP. "Flat Breezy" seems to be back on track after a rough year in L.A. in 2010. He's struck out 19 batters in 14 innings with only 5 walks.

-Justin Turner, IF, Mets: .312 AVG/.353 OBP/.450 SLG, 2 HR, 22 RBI. He had a few cups of coffee in Baltimore after coming over in the Ramon Hernandez trade, but has been an unexpected contributor for the scuffling Mets.

-Willie Harris, UT, Mets: .214/.300/.296, 1 HR, 8 RBI. Yuck.

-Tim Byrdak, RP, Mets: 1-0, 5.27 ERA, 1.54 WHIP (24 G, 13.2 IP). Yes, he's left-handed. Why do you ask?

-Jerry Hairston, 3B, Nationals: .243/.303/.342, 2 HR, 14 RBI. The Nats have seen more of Jerry than they had probably hoped, thanks to Ryan Zimmerman's injury troubles.

-LaTroy Hawkins, Brewers, RP: 0-0, 0.68 ERA, 1.35 WHIP. The 38-year-old has been a little lucky runs-wise, giving up a single earned run in 13.1 innings despite allowing 18 base runners.

-Ramon Hernandez, C, Reds: .308/.357/.538, 7 HR, 17 RBI. Razor Ramon is essentially platooning with Ryan Hanigan, but has the better numbers by far. He's already matched his home run total from last year; I'm a little gobsmacked that he's doing so well. Of course, this doesn't take his defense into account.

-Garrett Olson, RP, Pirates: 1-1, 2.08 ERA, 1.15 WHIP. Made the Bucs' Opening Day roster, gave up one run in four relief appearances, but was sent down to AAA Indianapolis in early April anyway. He's continued pitching well enough there.

-Lou Montanez, OF, Cubs: .308/.357/.462, 0 HR, 2 RBI. Good ol' Lou was promoted to Chicago recently due to a rash of Cubbie injuries, and has 4 hits (including 2 doubles) in his first 13 trips to the plate.

-Rodrigo Lopez, SP/RP, Cubs: 0-0, 9.53 ERA, 1.94 WHIP. The Mexican-born righty began the year with a strong showing for Atlanta's AAA Gwinnett club, which prompted the Cubs to trade for him when injuries and ineffectiveness left some holes in their rotation. He was clobbered in his season debut, allowing 6 runs on 10 hits in 4.2 innings against the Astros, but escaping with a no-decision. He tossed a scoreless inning of relief last night.

-Aubrey Huff, 1B, Giants: .229/.286/.395, 8 HR, 30 RBI. Eesh. He also began the year with some brutal defense in right field before the Giants moved him back to the infield. Imagine how bad his stats would look if he hadn't gone deep three times in one game at St. Louis this week.

-Miguel Tejada, SS, Giants: .211/.237/.271, 1 HR, 16 RBI. A batting line reminiscent of Cesar Izturis, with none of the glove. Miggi looks D-U-N.

-Eli Whiteside, C, Giants: .176/.271/.275, 1 HR, 2 RBI. He figures to get more playing time with Buster Posey out for the season. In other words, San Francisco should probably find a Plan B.

-Melvin Mora, 3B, Diamondbacks: .257/.271/.307, 0 HR, 15 RBI. Here's one more stat for you: 2 BB, 19 K. It's probably time for MelMo to come back home and raise all of those kids.

-David Hernandez, RP, Diamondbacks: 2-1, 1 SV, 1.71 ERA, 1.29 WHIP. Looks a damn sight better than the guys who are pulling down millions in the O's 'pen.

-Kam Mickolio, RP, Diamondbacks: 0-0, 6.75 ERA, 1.95 WHIP. Only six games in the bigs so far for the 6'9" reliever, but it looks like he still hasn't figured anything out.

-Ty Wigginton, 3B, Rockies: .254/.308/.459, 5 HR, 16 RBI. Wiggy has claimed Colorado's third base job by default, kind of like his experience in Baltimore in 2010. I saw Melvin Mora hit a ball through his wickets in a recent game to score a two-out run. The Rockies' left fielder then gunned down Mora trying to advance to second base. It made me laugh, because I'm a bad person.

-Casey Blake, 3B, Dodgers: .299/.400/.494, 3 HR, 11 RBI. The bearded veteran missed a chunk of time with a really gruesome elbow infection.

-Jay Gibbons, OF, Dodgers: .255/.323/.345, 1 HR, 5 RBI. Yep, one homer in 62 trips to the plate.

-Juan Castro, IF, Dodgers: .231/.286/.231, 0 HR, 1 RBI. That's a six-game stat line. Remember that time Castro hit a home run against the Yankees? I sure do.

-Lance Cormier, RP, Dodgers: 0-1, 9.88 ERA, 1.98 WHIP. 13.2 ugly innings for the 2008 Oriole. You know things are going badly in L.A. when they've used four ex-O's.

So there you have it. If I don't get distracted by something shining, I'll run down the American League tomorrow. Here's a preview: Jose Bautista is the destroyer of worlds.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Vintage Fridays: Don Lenhardt, 1954 Topps #157

On this date in 1952, the Red Sox and Tigers got together on a nine-player trade. What does that have to do with the price of eggs? Well, incredibly, eight of those nine players ultimately passed through the Orioles organization. The Red Sox acquired:

-Johnny Lipon, a shortstop who played seven games for the Browns in September 1953 and was traded to the White Sox the following February, just after the team moved to Baltimore.

-Hoot Evers, an two-time All-Star outfielder. He had stints with the O's in 1955 and 1956, hitting .239 with a .334 OBP, 7 home runs, and 34 RBI.

-George Kell, a future Hall of Fame third baseman. He finished his career in Charm City (1956-1957), mentoring young Brooks Robinson and representing the Orioles in the All-Star Game and posting a .297 average in his final season.

-Dizzy Trout, a righty pitcher who posted a 27-win season for the Tigers during World War II. He attempted an ill-fated comeback with the Birds as a 42-year-old in 1957, allowing four hits and three runs and retiring a single batter.

The following players headed to the Tigers in the deal:

-Walt Dropo, hulking first baseman and former Rookie of the Year. He too ended his career in Baltimore, batting .272 with 11 homers and 44 RBI from 1959-1961.

-Don Lenhardt, an outfielder and corner infielder who peaked with a .317 average in 97 games for the 1953 Browns. He was a member of the O's first Opening Day roster in 1954, but was traded back to Boston after playing in 13 games.

-Johnny Pesky, beloved Red Sox second baseman and three-time A.L. hits leader. The Orioles signed him in December 1954, but released him the following spring. He then called it quits.

-Bill Wight, a veteran lefty who pitched for eight different teams. He was an Oriole from 1955-1957, posting a 21-26 record and a 3.46 ERA. He made his bones as a scout for 37 years, primarily with the Braves. His signings included Joe Morgan, Dusty Baker, Dale Murphy, Bob Horner, and David Justice. Incidentally, the O's got him in 1955 by sending Hoot Evers to Cleveland.

The odd man out was infielder Fred Hatfield, an infielder known for his deft fielding and an ability to draw a walk. He never passed through the Baltimore organization, but in addition to this deal, he was a part of two other trades that involved a total of four one-time Orioles (Al Smith, Jim Brideweser, Harry Byrd, and Bob Kennedy).

I'm sure this all means something, but I couldn't began to tell you what that might be.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Don Aase, 1986 Donruss Highlights #12

Have you ever found yourself wondering what Don Aase might have looked like without the tufted grandeur of his trademark walrus mustache? Probably not; that way lies madness. However, this isn't a rhetorical question. I recently added the former Oriole closer's 1976 Topps rookie card to my collection, one of those four-player combos that featured three other young pitchers. I was stunned to see a clean-shaven Aase in his scarlet Red Sox cap smiling back at me. He wasn't a bad-looking dude. See for yourself:
I still like him better with the ol' cookie duster. Your mileage may vary.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Adam Jones, 2009 Topps Ticket to Stardom #188

I know that I just wrote about Adam Jones a week ago, but it would be criminal to ignore what he did today. With the Orioles having celebrated their return to the .500 mark by losing each of the first five games of a six-game West Coast road trip, often in a sloppy and punchless manner, the team's center fielder took it upon himself to deliver a win in an afternoon getaway game in Seattle.

The big stories heading into today's game were the season debut of pitcher Brian Matusz and Nick Markakis' big league debut at first base - and to a lesser extent, the end of the illustrious Jake Fox Era. While Matusz had a very encouraging start (1 ER, 4 H, 5.2 IP, no decision), he got a little help from Jones. With the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth, Miguel Olivo led off with a towering drive to deep center. Adam ran back to the fence on a dead sprint, leaping and catching the ball over his shoulder as he planted his feet against the wall. Despite the impact, he held on and did a bit of a backwards somersault for the icing on the cake. See for yourself. Two innings earlier, he almost cut down Olivo at the plate, but a rare miss by Matt Wieters allowed the lone Mariners run to score. Jones also singled in two of his first three at bats, but was stranded both times. He finally got tired of waiting around on the bases, crushing an upper-deck home run to left field in the eighth inning to deliver the go-ahead run. It held up, as the O's salvaged something from this miserable road trip with a 2-1 victory.

As much fun as the Adam Jones Show is, I'd like to see some of his teammates join the party when the Birds host Toronto this weekend.