Sunday, July 31, 2011
I am pretty ambivalent about D. Lee, who spent most of his four months in Baltimore either a) injured or b) performing below his career standards. He seemed like he was starting to heat up at bat, but after playing defense at first base that was pretty stellar (at least to the naked eye) for much of the season, he seemed to start booting balls at the most inopportune of times during the team's recent skid. Seemed like a nice enough guy, but ultimately his Oriole career consists of 85 games with a batting line of .246/.302/.404, 15 doubles, 12 home runs, and 41 RBI. No less, no more.
I'm truly sorry that I won't get to watch the O's first-ever Japanese import do his thing out of the bullpen any more. A dominant setup man is a luxury that is sort of lost on a losing team, so Andy MacPhail did well to get two major league-ready players from the Rangers for Koji. The nagging pessimist that the Birds always seem to bring out in me says that corner infielder Chris Davis is most likely a quadruple-A player, Mark Reynolds with less of a big league pedigree. And Tommy Hunter is no one's idea of a front-line pitcher, but he's got a lot more going for him than many of the stiffs who have taken the mound for this club in 2011.
But I digress. I read about Koji tearing up while he said his goodbyes to players, coaches, and reporters last night, and it touched me. At age 34, he left behind everything he'd known to come play in America for the Orioles, and he really seemed to fit in here better than many other Japanese players before him. He was even photographed at a Ravens game last year wearing a purple Ray Lewis jersey. On the field, he was a force of nature once the O's moved him to the bullpen and freed him from worries about fatigue. Over the past two seasons, he appeared in 86 games with a 2.27 ERA and an 0.82 WHIP. He picked up 13 saves last year, and walked only 13 batters in 91 innings in that span (1.3 BB/9 IP). Most amazingly, he struck out 117 hitters, for a K/9 IP of 11.6 and a K-to-BB ratio of exactly 9. He just pounds the strike zone, and uses his excellent control and movement to keep hitters off-balance.
If there's a silver lining, I am thrilled to have the chance to see Koji doing his thing in the postseason - as a bullpen-mate of Arthur Rhodes, no less! Assuming that Texas can hold off the Angels down the stretch, I might have to become a Rangers fan for October.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
Angry Oriole Bird cap. I've got to represent, you know.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
You want a really random, obscure statistic? Of course you do; you're a baseball fan. In 1990, when he went 13-9 with a 4.10 ERA for the Orioles, Dave Johnson did not allow a stolen base in 24 straight starts to begin the year. Neither were any runners caught stealing while he was on the mound in those games. In other words, no one so much as attempted to run on Dave Johnson, a 30-year-old journeyman. It's the longest such streak to begin a season since 1973, which is as far back as complete baserunning data goes. That is truly bizarre.
Let's look at the circumstances. Dave was a 30-year-old journeyman who tended to pitch righty. Generally, lefties have the better pickoff moves (see: Flanagan, Mike), since they face first base when standing astride the mound. I can't imagine him being that quick to the plate, since he struck out 68 batters in 180 innings in 1990. As for his batterymates, there were no Ivan Rodriguez types at catcher for the O's that year: Mickey Tettleton gunned down 28% of would-be base thieves that year; backup Bob Melvin was only slightly better at 30%. Chris Hoiles checked in at 50%, but in a very small sample size (4-for-8 in 7 games).
Now I'll admit that I have no personal memories of having seen Dave Johnson pitch. Does anyone remember him being tough on baserunners, or was this just one of those freak things?
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
I'm sure some of you are feeling Ginterfatigue, and the only known cure is 1980s cheese! It seems strange to see Brady Anderson wearing #16, instead of the #9 that he wore from 1989 through 2001. But when he arrived in Baltimore via a deadline deal in 1988, Jim Dwyer was wearing #9. So Brady slipped into the #16 jersey that had only been vacated by Scott McGregor upon his release on May 2. Strange but true.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Oh, one more note: I pulled a Troy Tulowitzki Hometown Heroes card yesterday and overlooked his status as a Favorite Player. I've gone back and added 2 points, which will clearly make all the difference. Let's go for real!
19 Daniel Bard - One reason I despise Steve Berthiuame and refuse to watch Baseball Tonight? The constant refrains of "Daniel BAAHD throws wicked HAAHD!" Gag.
127 James Loney
4 Jhoulys Chacin - "Jhoulys" is Spanish for "Chad". Or not.
218 Bobby Abreu
96 Daniel Boulud - This guy is a French chef whose restaurant is named "Daniel". Very subtle.
164 Heather Mitts
Pack 19 Total = 3 points. Box Total = 160 points. That pack might be the dagger. It was just "there".
248 Ervin Santana - Is there any style of facial hair dumber than the chinstrap?
131 Chris Iannetta
65 Ryan Howard
231 C. J. Wilson - Back again so soon?
165 Jo Frost - (Flips card over) Supernanny? Whaa? You're killing me, Topps.
147 George W. Bush - Biting my tongue...
Topps 2011 A&G Deluxe Binder Ad Card
Pack 20 Total = 4 points. Box Total = 164 points. Looking like I sprinted out of the gate and ran out of gas.
292 Wade Davis - Fake fun fact: When on the road, he checks into hotels using the alias "Dade Wavis".
75 Jose Reyes - 16 triples in 87 games in 2011. Nutso.
281 Adam Lind - Oriole killer. I would never suggest that the O's should deliberately throw at a hitter, but...
133 Geno Auriemma -1 Commissioner giveth, and Commissioner taketh away.
Pack 21 Total = 6 points. Box Total = 170 points. On to the last row...sunrise...sunset...
163 Ian Kennedy - 11-3, 3.22 ERA for the D-Backs this year. National League, man.
219 Johan Santana
204 Jim Thome - JIM JAM! Never fails to make me smile.
225 Jack LaLanne - Because I'm a nerd, all I can think about is his Simpsons cameo, in which he called Bart a "pudgy little pisher".
6 Micky Ward - Another boxer who was the subject of a critically-acclaimed movie. Didn't see "The Fighter", because I hardly ever see movies. I just watched "Star Wars" for the first time a few months back. No kidding.
Pack 22 Total = 7 points. Box Total = 177 points. I'll need a major push to even break 200...
54 Austin Jackson
170 Tim Lincecum - Another of my favorite non-Orioles. Any dominant athlete that's scrawnier than me is okay in my book.
45 Annika Sorenstam
196 Jered Weaver
Yep, another Crack the Code Ad Card
Pack 23 Total = 8 points. Box Total = 185 points. Welp, I can still take the lead with a Wood Mini Parallel, which is worth 50 points and is found once in every 3,436 packs. Watch me get one, but it'll be a Yankee and cost me a 50% penalty. Hah!
249 Carlos Ruiz - Chooch.
179 Shane Victorino - So many Phillies, I've lost count. Stuck on three Orioles, if you're keeping count. This is the kind of thing that gives a card-collecting fan of a bad team a complex.
291 Grady Sizemore
48 Francisco Liriano
Pack 24 Total = 9 points. Box Total = 194 points. No Gint-A-Cuffs champeenship for yours truly. I shall return.
Monday, July 25, 2011
53 Chipper Jones
300 Ryan Braun - Dude's 15 months younger than me. Hello, my own creeping mortality.
114 Brandon Phillips - Love this guy. Can't believe the Indians traded him to Cincy for some pitcher named Jeff Stevens.
77 Rafael Furcal
239 Brett Myers Mini Base - And a dud mini of a wife-beater. Joy.
Pack 13 Total = 8 points. Box Total =106 points. Unlucky number 13. What did I do to deserve that putrid pack?
113 Miguel Montero
214 Elvis Andrus
94 Josh Rodriguez RC Mini Base - Back-to-back no-point minis. Grumble.
Pack 14 Total = 16 points. Box Total = 122 points. The best pack of the box yet, points-wise. Will I pull hits in three straight packs?
195 Tommy Hanson
154 Todd Helton
111 Pablo Sandoval - Can't get enough of the Kung-Fu Panda.
232 Picabo Street - For you whippersnappers that don't remember this Olympic skiing medalist, her name is pronounced "peek-a-boo". Aren't you glad your parents were boring?
59 Jeremy Jeffress RC
Pack 15 Total = 7 points. Box Total = 129 points. Fair-to-middlin', but I can feel the prize slipping away.
285 Alex Rios
57 Derek Jeter -1 Yankee card - It figures. Five zillion Yankee fans roaming the Earth, and not one of you could join this contest and claim your Captain as a Favorite Player.
209 Guy Fieri- Urgh. Just threw up a bit. If you're blessed enough not to know this clown, allow me to ruin your night.
227 Lucas Duda Black Bordered Mini +3 I will NOT sing Camptown Races...
HH50 Josh Hamilton Hometown Heroes (Raleigh, NC) +1 Hometown Heroes, +2 Any Favorite Player = +3 total. I like.
Crack the Code Ad Card
Pack 16 Total = 10 points. Box Total = 139 points. If you count the Jeter penalty, six of those eight cards were worth points. That's not something you see often.
199 Jake Peavy
144 Jorge Posada -1 Yankee card - Flames...flames...on the sides of my face...
64 Ricky Romero
263 Mark Trumbo RC - That's a fun name to say. TRUMBOOOOO
201 Andrew Romine RC
Pack 17 Total = 4 points. Box Total = 143 points. That sure was an equalizer to all that went on in the last pack.
62 Alfonso Soriano
50 Carl Crawford - I wish my Birthday Buddy hadn't joined the Pink Hats in Boston. Makes it much harder to like him.
175 Jose Bautista - 85 home runs in his last 252 games. Ridiculous.
169 Dan Haren
Pack 18 Total = 14 points. Box Total = 157 points. Bob is in the lead with 232 points. With all three hits already pulled, what are the odds that 78 points are waiting for me in the last 6 packs? 13 points a pack? The fat lady is warmin' up.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
1 Carlos Gonzalez - I hate the lazy shortened-name monikers so many players have. "CarGo" is no exception.
265 Buster Posey
39 Stephen Drew - Yipes. All three guys are currently injured, the last two on gruesome plays at the plate.
Dan's Philly fandom.
112 Timothy Shieff
190 Sue Bird - Not much of a WNBA fan, but I've always found her attractive.
123 Rajai Davis Mini Base - Yep, already have two variations of Rajai's mini card. Any Rajai Davis supercollectors out there?
Allen and Ginter Official! Deluxe Binder Offer Card - Interesting. Shades of the old Topps puffy sweatshirt offer cards.
Pack 7 Total = 3 points. Box Total = 60 points. Sensing a trend in the last four packs: 11, 8, 4, 3. No sir, I don't like it.
58 Alcides Escobar
269 Derrek Lee +1 Favorite Team - Hm, I wonder how Derrek played today? 1-for-3 with a strikeout. Still OPSing under .700. But at least I'm getting some use out of him.
212 Aramis Ramirez
276 Desmond Jennings RC - Just got called up this weekend. It's about time.
293 Royal Wedding: Prince William and Kate Middleton - OMG OMG OMG Be still my heart.
Pack 8 Total = 8 Points. Box Total = 68 Points. Getting better. If only the Commissioner were a fan of insanely overhyped fairy-tale nuptials.
268 Dallas Braden
89 John Axford - Creative facial hair without all the hype of Brian Wilson. Thumbs up.
243 Mike Nickeas RC - Who?
180 Kyle Drabek
Oh, Danny Boy...
Crack the Code Ad Card
Pack 9 Total = 7 points. Box Total = 75 points. At least I'm getting better at avoiding the Yankees.
156 Marlon Byrd - He plays for neither the Marlins nor the Birds. Discuss.
117 Jonathan Sanchez
148 Sanya Richards
dayf, those clowns at Topps don't even know what "penultimate" means!
Another stinkin' Crack the Code Ad Card
Pack 10 Total = 9 points. Box Total = 84 points. Movin' right along.
192 Carl Pavano
49 Javier Vazquez - It's a tag team of pitchers that make Yankee fans break out in hives!
162 Mat Latos
51 Tim Collins - He's only 4'10". Okay, 5'7". Still tiny.
Pack 11 Total = 9 points. Box Total = 93 points. Back-to-back nines? Makes me nervous about the next pack.
245 Brian McCann
115 Shin-Soo Choo - With an injury-riddled, subpar season, he's been brutal for my fantasy team. Plus he had a DUI, so all in all, a great effort.
106 Jonathan Broxton
7 Mickey Mantle -1 Yankee Player - Thank you, Topps, for your downright embarrassing hagiography of this guy.
107 L. L. Zamenhof - Apparently he invented the Esperanto language. His mini card is worth 2 points, but no dice for the base card. What gives, Commissioner?
Pack 12 Total = 5 points. Box Total = 98 points. At the halfway point, I'm still waiting on the big hits, which gives me some optimism for the coming days.