Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Brian Roberts, 2008 Upper Deck SP Authentic #83

I've never considered myself a very superstitious sports fan, but here I am three days from the Super Bowl in desperate need of a haircut and a trim of the ol' beard. I like to keep my hair short enough that I don't have to dry/style/otherwise fuss with it, and I generally trend away from the bushy Grizzly Adams look. But once the NFL playoffs began, I got it in my head that as soon as my Ravens bowed out of the postseason I would clean it all up. Lo and behold, the "other" Birds plowed through the Colts and the highly-favored Broncos and Patriots to earn their second-ever trip to the Super Bowl. I think I look a bit silly now (though still not as silly as shaggy-haired Brian Roberts up there), but I'm not about to change things up at this late date. Viva the playoff beard!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cal Ripken, Jr., 2002 Fleer Ultra Glove Works #3

I recently read Deadspin's obituary of Chestertown resident Richard Ben Cramer, a critically-acclaimed sports journalist who succumbed to lung cancer earlier this month at age 62. Sadly I was never acquainted with Cramer's work during his lifetime, but I followed a link in that story to an excellent feature article that he wrote for Sports Illustrated about Cal Ripken, Jr. back in 1995. It does an incredible job of celebrating the "Iron Man" while simultaneously skewering the mythmakers in Baltimore's sporting and civic hierarchies. It's easy to see how, in the same way Cal was used to distract from the very real problems with the infrastructure of the Orioles organization, Camden Yards and the Harborplace were little more than a shiny veneer on a troubled city. More than 17 years later, it's interesting to plot the trajectories of those mentioned in the piece, including "Rookie of the Year" city councilman Martin O'Malley. If you have a few minutes, go give it a read. You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Javy Lopez, 2004 Upper Deck Etchings Bat Relic #BE-JL

As a collector, sometimes I don't know that a certain something is missing from my collection until it's in my hands. Just yesterday, card enthusiast and blogger par excellence Max sent along a small packet with a half-dozen O's cards that he'd recently picked up at a hobby show. Included was this Javy Lopez card, and I feel safe in declaring that it's the first bat relic in my collection to feature the team logo stamped on the lumber shaving. It's kind of nifty looking, the card isn't freakishly thick to the point of distraction, and I'm not even that broken up about the wanton destruction and defacement of a tangible piece of baseball history - it's at least even-odds that Upper Deck didn't use an authentic Javy bat to decorate this card, no matter what the boilerplate on the card back claims. Also included in the padded envelope were a couple of shiny new Adam Jones cards, a 2012 Topps Frank Robinson insert, a 1983 O-Pee-Chee Eddie Murray, and a 1993 Stadium Club Sherman Obando (presumably added to the stack for giggles). Thanks, Max!

Monday, January 28, 2013

John Halama, 2006 Upper Deck Special F/X Red #531

I feel as though certain baseball cards can function as stand-ins for the state of the hobby at large. For instance, this is a shiny parallel insert, serial-numbered and limited to 50. The player featured is lefty John Halama, who was an Oriole for all of 29.1 innings in 2006. He walked 13, struck out 12, and allowed 38 hits, so you know that he came by his 6.14 ERA honestly. Somehow he also won three of his four decisions in what proved to be his big league swan song after a nine-season career that also included stints with the Astros, Mariners, Athletics, Devil Rays, Red Sox, and Nationals. Way back in 1998, he had been the infamous Player to Be Named Later in the deal that sent Randy Johnson to Houston, and that's pretty much the highlight for ol' John. I guess you could point to a 14-9 season in Seattle in 2000, but his 5.08 ERA (90 ERA+) indicates that the southpaw had a lot of help notching all of those W's.

So back to my original point. Upper Deck took a base card of an unexceptional veteran, stamped some foil and a plasticine veneer on it, and created some artificial scarcity. How did we get here?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Brooks Robinson, 2010 Topps Commemorative Patch #MCP82

I'm milking at least one more day out of the box of cards that William/Zach sent me. As corny as the concept of manufactured patches might be, I rather like this one. It features the logo from the 1964 All-Star Game, which was hosted by the Mets at Shea Stadium in conjunction with that year's World's Fair in New York. On July 7, 1964, the National League once again outlasted the American League in the Midsummer Classic, but Brooks Robinson was a standout performer in the losing cause. He started at third base and played the entire nine innings, going 2-for-4 with a triple and a pair of RBI. He might have earned the game's MVP honors (to match his regular-season AL MVP) if Joe Pepitone's throwing error hadn't sparked the National League's four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth. Thanks a lot, Yankee.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Vintage Fridays: Earl Weaver, 1972 Topps #323

In looking for an Earl Weaver card to post last Saturday, I noticed that I haven't featured any of his vintage cards since 2009. That's far too long to go between classic Earl cards, so here's a great one from the trusty ol' Psychedelic Tombstone set (TM Night Owl). I don't know who's standing to Earl's left, nor what that person might be doing, but they've inspired an expression on the future Hall of Fame skipper's face that seems to say, "Ugh...THIS f***ing guy". As the palm trees and the blurry signs on the outfield fence tell us, it's Spring Training. Though Weaver is wearing his road grays, it's still possible that the team is working out at their Grapefruit League home in Miami.

If I had to venture a guess, I'd say that Jim Palmer is recipient of his manager's withering gaze. The righty probably just told Earl that his elbow is barking, and he thinks he'll have to spend the morning getting treatment in the training room. It's enough to make a guy reach into his custom inner jersey pocket for a cigarette.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Brady Anderson, 2001 Upper Deck Reserve #36

Here's the first selection from the Mystery Box O'Wonder that reader William/Zach (a man of many names) sent earlier this week. It's a well-known fact that Brady Anderson has kept himself in outstanding shape as he nears age 50. However, in this late-career photo, his age is showing a bit. There's something about the sharp angle of those sideburns, the lines on his face, and that sideways leer that makes him look like somebody's lecherous uncle. Sure, everybody wants a piece of you when you're in your twenties, hitting homers and stealing bases, and 90210 is still culturally relevant. The next thing you know, you're 37, your team is in the tank, and your OPS is in the low .600s. Baseball is a young man's game. It's cruel, but it's true.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dan Boone, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #42

Yesterday I arrived home to find a telltale small white box sticking out of my mailbox. It was from longtime blog reader and commenter William, who was kind enough to send an assortment of Orioles cards to help me celebrate five years of doing this sort of thing. There were quite a few cards that were new to my collection, featuring players ranging from Brady Anderson to Matt Riley to Zach Britton.

William's only request was that I write up the 1991 Score "Rookie Prospect" card of Dan Boone. Regrettably, I'd already covered that ground way back in May 2008, which might well have been before William started reading me. But there is good news, and it's twofold: First, in rereading that old blog entry, I feel that I did justice to Boone's improbable story, and it still holds up years later. Also, this gives me an excellent chance to recap it in handy bullet-point form! To wit, the Life and Travels of Daniel Hugh Boone:

-June 1973: Boone, aged 19, is drafted by the California Angels in Round 15. He does not sign. Over the next three years, he is in turn drafted by the Angels (again), the Yankees, and the Padres, and declines to sign three more times.

-June 1976: Drafted in the second round by the California Angels, the now-22-year-old southpaw finally signs a pro contract.

-1977 through 1980: Dan's minor league apprenticeship takes him through Salinas, CA; El Paso, TX; Salt Lake City, UT; Amarillo, TX; and Hawaii.

-1981: Boone makes his major league debut with the San Diego Padres at age 27. He has a solid rookie season in relief, putting up a 2.84 ERA in 63.1 innings.

-1982: He's not especially effective in 20 appearances split between the Padres and the Houston Astros, allowing 15 earned runs in 28.2 innings (4.71 ERA).

-1983-1984: Dan continues to struggle at AAA Tuscon (Astros) and Vancouver (Milwaukee). Following the 1984 season, the 30-year-old is out of organized pro ball.

-1989: The lefty re-emerges in the short-lived Senior Professional Baseball League, relying on a knuckleball to log a 3.16 ERA for the Bradenton (FL) Explorers.

-1990: Now 36, Boone signs with the Baltimore Orioles. He goes 11-5 with 8 saves and a 2.60 ERA at AAA Rochester, earning a September callup at age 36. In his first taste of the big leagues in eight years, he logs five shutout innings of relief spanning three games. In the Birds' penultimate series of the season, Frank Robinson gives the veteran a spot start in the nightcap of a doubleheader against Cleveland. He takes the mound in the bottom of the fifth with a 3-1 lead, but allows the Indians to tie it up before being yanked with two outs. This will be his final game in the majors. He departs with a 2.79 ERA for the year, and a 3.36 mark for his career.

-Late 1990: Dan returns to the SPBL and has a 5-1 record and a 1.85 ERA when the league folds at midseason.

-1995: As the MLBPA strike plods onward, owners of 27 MLB teams (only the Orioles hold out) open Spring Training with "replacement players". At 41, Boone is back in Padres' camp...at least until the strike is finally settled in early April.

-1989-2002: Dan also turns up in amateur leagues in California and Alaska, and appears to have finally stopped playing early this century at age 48.

Dan Boone's story is definitely one worth revisiting. Thanks, William!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mike Devereaux, 1992 Upper Deck #209

Today I'll show the last pair of autographs that I received at FanFest last Saturday. The first, from Mike Devereaux, is already ticketed to another collector. Alan Diddle was unsuccessful in obtaining Devo's signature through a mail request, and I'd already gotten the former center fielder's autograph at a previous appearance in 2009. So I'm trading this fine specimen for Alan's spare Ken Singleton autographed card, a 1984 Donruss. I love it when a plan comes together.
This is the first time I've gotten a current Oriole's John Hancock on a non-Oriole card. But I own exactly two Lew Ford cards, both from his mid-2000s tenure with the Twins, so I decided to mix it up a little. Lew didn't seem to have a problem scrawling his name on a cardboard reminder of his previous baseball life, though he joked with one of the FanFest volunteers that they should install a conveyer belt to help make the process more efficient. I kind of pitied the nonpaid workers supervising the autograph stations, as their pleas for the fans to keep moving and to refrain from taking personal photos with the players mostly fell on deaf ears. But I guess that's what happens when you charge $15 for an autograph session, no matter how charitable the cause: folks are going to try to get their money's worth.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Zach Britton, 2012 Topps Orioles Team Set #BALT16

Here's another autograph that I snagged on Saturday at FanFest. I don't know that Zach Britton's signature is the most legible I've ever seen, but I appreciate the flair with which he looped the "Z" and the "B". And considering that Zach is a lefty, I'm grateful that he didn't smear the ink with his hand as he went.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Brian Roberts, 2008 Upper Deck Goudey #17

After a false start last year, I was finally able to meet Brian Roberts and get his autograph at yesterday's jam-packed Orioles FanFest event. It was worth the wait to get my favorite player's signature, especially since the injury-prone second baseman appeared to be healthy and in good spirits. He was also the most polite of the four players I met, making eye contact and thanking me for coming. I considered asking him to sign directly on top of Derek Jeter's face, but I decided to take the high road. Hopefully that sort of good karma will translate into a full and productive season for B-Rob.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Earl Weaver, 1981 Fleer #178

By now you've probably heard that the Orioles family has lost its greatest leader. Early this morning, Earl Weaver died after suffering a heart attack on an Orioles fantasy cruise to the Caribbean. He was 82 years old.

I never had the pleasure of watching Earl manage the O's, but his feats as both a tactician and an umpire-baiter are legendary. The 5'6" skipper was ejected from two consecutive games prior to my birth date, both for arguing balls and strikes. So I'm proud to say that on the day I was born, the newspapers carried stories of one of Weaver's 94 career ejections.

Earl's dirt-kicking, hat-spinning, finger-pointing tirades shouldn't overshadow his managing acumen. Number four was at the helm of the Birds for 17 seasons, and he didn't have a sub-.500 club until he was pulled out of retirement and handed an aging, subpar collection of talent in 1986. Overall, Weaver won 1,480 games and lost 1,060 for an excellent .583 win percentage. Though his teams were unlucky in the postseason, he did take Baltimore to four World Series, including three straight from 1969 to 1971, and he got his lone championship in 1970. He got his proper recognition in 1996, when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I still need to read "Weaver On Strategy" someday, the ahead-of-its-time book that lays out Earl's strategic philosophies. He's well-known for putting an emphasis on reaching base by any means necessary, as opposed to the traditional mindset that walks were somehow sub-optimal. He just wanted to make sure that there were ducks on the pond whenever one of his hitters was able to get a hold of a pitch: his famous credo was "pitching, fundamentals, and three-run homers". Unlike many of his contemporaries, Earl also harbored a disdain for "small ball", saying that "I've got nothing against the bunt ...in its place. But most of the time, that place is at the bottom of a long forgotten closet."

But the Earl Weaver quote that's probably being bandied about the most today is darkly fitting:

"On my tombstone just write, 'The sorest loser that ever lived.' "

May you rest in peace, Earl. Thanks for the years of excitement and laughter that you brought to my city.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Vintage Fridays: Bob Hale, 1959 Topps #507

Bob Hale commanded attention as a 21-year-old rookie with the Orioles in 1955, batting .357 in 182 at-bats after debuting in July. Though he stuck around for parts of seven big league seasons, he played sparingly afterward and was primarily a pinch hitter. Power wasn't really his game, as he hit only two career home runs. Of course, the first of those came against Hall of Famer Bob Lemon.

Hale was born in Sarasota, which is now the spring training home of the Orioles. If all goes well tomorrow, my sister and I might be booking a weekend in March to check out some Grapefruit League action. I'm looking forward to seeing Ed Smith Stadium and the rest of the complex, since my getaway to the O's previous spring home in Fort Lauderdale back in 2007 left me less than impressed. From what I've heard about the Sarasota digs, the difference is night and day. Besides, if it's half as cold here in Baltimore in March as it is now, I'll be glad to fly south for a bit.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Earl Weaver, 1985 Topps Traded #129T

Yesterday the Orioles extended the contracts of manager Buck Showalter and GM (excuse me - that's executive vice president) Dan Duquette through the 2018 season. Keeping in mind the significant caveat that one or even both of them could still be fired before those deals expire, this is encouraging news, particularly as it concerns the man in the dugout. As Roch Kubatko astutely noted, Buck would have an eight-plus year tenure if he does indeed stick around through 2018. I was a bit surprised to learn that this would give him the second-longest reign as O's manager, behind only Earl Weaver. Of course, once you get past Paul Richards, the original architect of the Birds, there isn't a whole lot of competition. In my lifetime, only Mike Hargrove has lasted as many as four seasons at the helm, and his clubs averaged 93 losses per year. I suppose it's to Peter Angelos' credit that he never deluded himself into giving overmatched skippers like Dave Trembley and Sam Perlozzo multi-year contracts, but that's just a good sign that they shouldn't really have been hired in the first place. But as the Orioles sunk to the bottom following Davey Johnson's acromonious departure in late 1997, it became increasingly difficult to find qualified candidates who were actually willing to take the job. Now, not only has Buck Showalter restored professionalism and respectability to the Baltimore organization, he's actually agreed to stay throughout the decade. Long live Buck!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Brandon Snyder, 2011 Topps Diamond #213

I need baseball back soon. This has been one of the grayest, dampest, dreariest weeks in recent memory. I yearn for a warm June evening with a light breeze. As the sun sets over Camden Yards, I stroll down the Eutaw Street concourse and buy myself a cold beer. There's a comfortable buzz of voices and activity all around. None of this "pitch black at 5:00 PM" nonsense. No more "two dozen blog posts about Kyle Lohse" as a substitute for actual baseball news. I can stop twiddling my thumbs and waiting with bated breath for Dan Duquette to do something, anything. Maybe I'll even be able to find something to blog about without fishing about in such desperation. Yeah, that'll be something.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chris Hoiles, 1992 Upper Deck #183

Questions raised by this photo:

-Who taught Matt Nokes how to execute a hard slide? He looks like he's trying to play patty-cake.

-Was he safe or out? It looks like Chris Hoiles missed the ball, but it's Spring Training for the umpires, too.

-Most importantly, who is standing at the backstop, and why are they wearing shorts?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cal Ripken, Jr., 1992 Pro File National Sports Collectors Convention #12

Yep, this shiny, foily, spangly thing was a promo card from the 1992 National Sports Collectors Convention, which was held in Atlanta. One of these days, I'll have to make a list of my favorite Cal Ripken, Jr. oddball cards. You can bet that this hastily-assembled bauble will make an appearance.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Adam Jones, 2010 Topps ToppsTown #FCTTT20

I had planned on updating the blog last night after the Ravens' playoff game, but somehow the insanity of a back-and-forth, double-overtime, 38-35 win absolutely sidetracked me. I think a small measure of credit goes to Adam Jones, who attended yesterday's game in freezing-cold Denver, as well as last week's 24-9 win over the Colts in Baltimore. Although Adam is scheduled to attend next Saturday's Orioles' FanFest in Charm City, a small part of me hopes that he takes a red-eye flight to Foxboro for Sunday night's Ravens-Patriots AFC Championship Game. He's been something of a good luck charm for our city's other Birds.

By the way, A. J. will also play for Team USA in this spring's World Baseball Classic. Will he be able to put the Americans over the top against the nefarious Dominicans, Japanese, and Koreans? Only time will tell.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Vintage Fridays: Ken Singleton, 1980 Kellogg's #30

Well, my autograph plans for next Saturday's FanFest remain in flux. Today the Orioles announced that Ken Singleton will be unable to appear. In his stead, Lew Ford and Mike Devereaux will be signing at my session. For the time being, facsimile signatures like the one you see above will have to do.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Glenn Davis, 1992 Fleer Ultra #1

January 10, 1991.

Never forget.

A few observations:

-Yes, I've already written about the Glenn Davis Trade on its anniversary, two years back. Considering that I have written over 1,800 blog posts in the past five years, it's a wonder I don't repeat myself more often. Besides, this trade was such a dud (and was further compounded by the ensuing Mickey Tettleton-for-Jeff Robinson swap) that I am considering making this a yearly thing.

-The juxtaposition of this event with yesterday's Hall of Fame voting, in which both Steve Finley (who received four votes and will be considered nevermore) and Curt Schilling (who received votes on 38.8% of the ballots cast, but probably deserved more) were eligible for the first time, is worth a bit of meditation.

Now I'm going to go stare at the bathroom mirror and say "Glenn Davis" 22 times.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Steve Finley, 1991 Upper Deck #330

I'm sure you've heard today's controversial news by now. Steve Finley was not elected to the Hall of Fame. In fact, he garnered just four votes, and will not even be eligible for future ballots.

Oh, and Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Craig Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Alan Trammell, and Mark McGwire were also left out in the cold. For the first time since 1996, the Baseball Writers' Association of America failed to elect a single player. But they succeeded in commanding a lot of attention for themselves and ensuring the future irrelevance of the Baseball Hall of Fame. It's probably just as well. It's a pain in the ass to get to Cooperstown anyway.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Gregg Olson, 1990 Score Rising Stars #32

Now that the Orioles have put "Baltimore" back on their road jerseys and returned the cartoon bird to their caps, I think their next step should be to bring back stirrup socks. It's a much better look than solid black socks, says I.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tim Hulett, 1991 Topps #468

Did you have any idea that Tim Hulett started 69 games for the Orioles in 1993? I could tell you off the top of my head that the utility infielder batted .300 that year, but I wasn't aware that he was on the field so often. But it makes some sense when you consider that 65 of those starts came at third base, where presumptive starter Leo Gomez spent much of the season injured and/or terrible (.197/.295/.348). Hulett may not have provided much power (15 doubles and 2 home runs in 260 at-bats), but he hit for average and drew a few walks. His on-base percentage that year was a personal-best .361. Of course, both his average and his OBP appear to be luck-based, as his average on balls in play was a quite-high .373, but them's the breaks. He was also just a winner: the Birds were 38-31 in his starts, and 47-38 when he played at all...I said, tongue firmly placed in cheek.

If you think that I just opened up Tim Hulett's Baseball Reference page because it's been a slow news day/month/offseason for the O's...you're right. Have a cookie.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Bobby Bonilla, 1996 Fleer Flair #3

On Sunday, September 1, 1996, the Orioles lost at Seattle by a 5-1 score. Bobby Bonilla's solo home run off of Terry Mulholland produced the lone run for the O's offense. However, it wasn't a lost day for Charm City, as the Ravens beat the Raiders 19-14 in the first NFL game in Baltimore in 13 years. That game was also notable as the NFL debut for linebacker Ray Lewis.

Today, Lewis played his last home game in an illustrious 17-season career. Number 52 went out on top, as the Ravens exorcised a few demons by beating the Colts 24-9 in a wild card playoff game. Next week, he'll try to keep things going a little while longer in a divisional round game in Denver. Though baseball and the Orioles are my first sports love, I've had the benefit of watching and rooting for one of the best defensive players in NFL history for more than half of my life. I would have to say that Ray is calling it a career at the right time, but it's still going to be strange to watch the Ravens next fall without seeing him on the field or the sidelines. So for one day only, I'm turning this blog over to football cards so that I can pay proper tribute to Ray Lewis. Thanks for everything, 52.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ken Singleton, 1981 Fleer #188

Whoops, change of plans. Thanks to a bit of oversleeping on my part, combined with the labyrinthine horrors of Ticketmaster, most of the Orioles FanFest autograph session vouchers seem to have been sold out by the time I roused myself at around 10:30 AM. I was still able to get a voucher for a Brian Roberts dealie, but it was the 4:40-5:40 one. So instead of Brady Anderson, Jake Arrieta, and Troy Patton, I'll be getting signatures from Ken Singleton and Zach Britton. That'll do nicely, I think.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Vintage Fridays: Jim Palmer, 1975 Hostess #126

Tomorrow morning at 10:00 AM, autograph vouchers for Orioles FanFest (two weeks away!) go on sale. As I've done each of the past two years, I'll be dropping $15 for one voucher. It's worked out pretty well thus far, as I added signed cards of Dick Hall, Matt Wieters, Jim Johnson, Troy Patton, and Buck Showalter to my collection. (Oh, and Craig Tatum and Alfredo Simon. Can't forget them just because they're not very good at baseball!) Before the player and coach lineup was posted earlier this evening, I thought that this might be the year that I finally get a Jim Palmer autograph. Unfortunately, the Hall of Famer's a part of some less-than-exciting combos. At 12:40 PM, he joins 2012 first-round draft pick Kevin Gausman and backup catcher Taylor Teagarden for some grins, grabs, and 'graphs. Then at 3:20, he's the meat between the white bread of relievers Luis Ayala and Pedro Strop. For overall appeal, I'm drawn toward the 2:00 foursome of Brady Anderson, Jake Arrieta, Troy Patton, and Brian Roberts. Since BRob wasn't well enough to attend last year's FanFest, I still need his John Hancock. I grew up watching Brady, and I don't have any signed Arrieta cards either. I don't mind doubling up on Patton.

Sorry, 'Cakes. Maybe in 2014.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Nate Smith, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #429

Does Nate Smith ring a bell? He didn't seem familiar to me. So I looked him up, and found out that his middle name is Beverly. Though he was born in Chicago, Nate attended college at Tennessee State University in Nashville. The Dodgers signed him as an amateur free agent in 1956, but he never broke through to the majors. In mid-September of 1962, the then-27-year-old had his contract purchased by the Orioles, who hadn't had much production behind the plate that season. (Gus Triandos hit .159 with only 6 home runs in 66 games in his final season in Baltimore.) Smith saw action in five games during the season's final month, including three starts at catcher. He went 2-for-9 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch.

Those 11 plate appearances represented the entirety of Nate's big-league career. He played in 42 minor league games over the next couple of years, and that was it. According to Baseball Reference, Smith is alive and well today at age 77. If anybody has more information, please enlighten me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Miguel Tejada, 2005 Playoff Prestige Changing Stripes #CS-14

Yeesh. You can't get blood from a stone, as they say, but Miguel Tejada seems determined to wring every last ounce of athletic ability out of his own body. After the Giants released him in September 2011, he didn't catch on with another team until the Orioles gave him a minor-league deal last May. In 36 games at AAA Norfolk, he batted .259/.325/.296, with 5 doubles representing the entirety of his extra-base prowess. Reports about his defense at third base were none too encouraging either, so the O's punted on the Miggi experiment and released him in late June. The one-time American League MVP remained unsigned during the second half of the 2012 season, and headed to the winter league in his native Dominican Republic in an attempt to prolong his career. I guess it worked, because over the holidays came news that the Kansas City Royals had signed the 38-year-old Tejada to a minor league deal. What's more, there are reports that it will become a guaranteed one-year deal for $1.1 million dollars (with an extra 400 grand in performance incentives) just as soon as the team can clear a spot on their 40-man roster. Because Tejada has looked thoroughly cooked since about 2009, and because of the Royals' comfortable position as a league laughingstock, this transaction is being received with considerable derision. I know that I would be apopleptic if the Orioles had made such a move. But if nothing else, you've got to admire Miguel's persistence...and wonder whether you can get his agent to represent you.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Mike Young, 1988 Topps #11

I made it back from my post-Christmas trip to Charlotte, just like I promised! I'm just in time to mark the fifth anniversary of this silly little blog. On New Year's Day back in 2008, I posted Fred Lynn's card from the 1988 Topps set. Here we are in 2013, and it's now been 25 years since that set was released. Cards that I held in my hand as a child are a quarter-century old. As I try to process that, Mike Young looks up from his resting place behind the batting cage and gives me a sideways glance, as if to say, "Hey, time passes. Deal with it. I hit 28 home runs in 1985. By 1990, I was out of baseball." Mike does not look like the sort of dude I'd want to mess with, so I'll be moving along. Happy New Year, folks.