Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Friday, June 26, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Ross Grimsley, 1975 SSPC #377

Tonight, Nationals starter Max Scherzer finally gave up a run, as the Phillies touched him up for a pair in the seventh inning. It snapped a 47 and one-third inning shutout streak by Washington starting pitchers, ensuring that the 1974 Orioles' post-expansion record of 54 straight scoreless innings will stand. Of course, the Birds did it the hard way, as those innings were truly consecutive. Dave McNally finished up a 7-1 complete-game victory over the Royals with a scoreless ninth inning on September 1 after his shutout was spoiled by a John Mayberry groundout with runners on the corners in the eighth. The next day, Ross Grimsley and Mike Cuellar each went the distance in a pair of 1-0 squeakers, as the O's swept Boston in a twinbill in Memorial Stadium. "Scuz" twirled a three-hitter, and Cuellar one-upped him with a two-hitter. Jim Palmer continued to flummox the BoSox on Wednesday the 4th, blanking them on three hits in a 6-0 breezer. The Orioles traveled to Cleveland for a Friday doubleheader and McNally (three-hit, 2-0 final) and Cuellar again (five-hit, 1-0 final) kept the zeroes coming. On Saturday, September 7, Grimsley carried a four-hit shutout into the game's final frame. With the Tribe down by three, George Hendrick led off with a double and Charlie Spikes finally spoiled the fun with a two-run homer. Ross regrouped to put down the next three Indians hitters in order, preserving the complete game victory. It was the tenth straight victory for the O's, who were in the midst of yet another late-season surge under Earl Weaver. That must have been an incredible time to be a fan.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Steve Pearce, 2015 Topps Orioles Team Set #BO-10

Earlier today, Buck Showalter remembered that Steve Pearce is still on the active roster and penciled him in as the starting left fielder. Last season's breakout hitter rewarded his manager with a three-hit, two-double game, and the Orioles won yet another series in Fenway Park by eking out an 8-6 win in the rubber game. Most of the damage was done in a six-run fourth inning, as the O's heated up with seven straight hits against former Baltimore prospect Eduardo Rodriguez and chased him from the game. Rodriguez, sent to Boston last summer in the Andrew Miller trade, saw his stock immediately rise in the Sawx organization, leaving many Birds fans wringing their hands about the one who got away. On this day at least, the Orioles took a bit of luster off of him. So that's 15 wins in the last 20 games for the resurgent Showalters, and six straight series wins if you count the home-and-home four-game thing with the Phillies as a single series. That's how you climb in the standings. And the lovely capper on it all? Dating back to 2011, the Orioles have won nine of their past 12 series in Beantown. They've split two more series, and lost only one. I remember when arrogant Boston fans used to refer to Camden Yards as "Fenway South". What a difference a few years can make.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Joe Orsulak, 1989 Topps Big #181

Longtime reader and commenter Zach knows that I take his posting requests as a challenge, and I like to think that I'm up to the task. He took it easy on me yesterday by asking for a Topps Big card. The Orioles had a schizophrenic presence in that particular set, as all of the action photos used for the backdrops featured the players in 1988's tri-color headgear with the cartoon bird, and the foreground portraits had the O's clad in the brand-spankin'-new solid black caps with the more realistic bird. Joe Orsulak's card shows him batting in a chilly and sparsely-attended Old Comiskey Park, I believe. This is Topps Big, so I'd be remiss if I didn't scan the card back, too:
Unlike most of the players included in the Topps Big sets, Joe actually somewhat resembles the generic beefy white dude in the cartoons. The first panel, with "Orsulak" sporting an old-timey pirate hat and eye patch as he hoists a stack of pilfered bases, is especially choice. I do find it a bit odd that they couldn't pick out anything about his just-concluded 1988 season to highlight. Joe O was one of the few bright spots on that year's wretched Baltimore club, posting a team-high .288 batting average after a year's hiatus from the big leagues. His 113 OPS+ was a new career best, until he topped it in '89 with a mark of 121. But yeah, tell me all about his time in Pittsburgh in the middle of the decade.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Jeffrey Hammonds, 1997 Score #205

I took a quick look at all of my previous Jeffrey Hammonds posts to make sure I hadn't used this card before. When you post a card scan on a near-daily basis for seven and a half years, you can never be too sure. Anyway, I realized that there are quite a few amusingly goony Hammonds cards in circulation. Click the link above, and you'll see what I mean. This 1997 Score card, with Jeffrey shooting a knowing glance at the photographer ("I see you snapping shots of my butt, and I don't even care"), doesn't even crack the top three.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Jim Palmer, 2013 Topps Allen and Ginter #293

Okay, I'm back from a quick weekend trip to Charlotte, and I'm glad that the Orioles were kind enough to take two of three in Toronto while I was away. For the sake of my blood pressure, I'm also grateful that I didn't have to witness those games live. But as long as the O's have a night off in Boston, I'll show off the one and only Oriole that I pulled from a discounted box of 2013 A&G while on a Target excursion in the Tar Heel State. If you're only going to get a single Oriole in a box of 48 cards, it may as well be 'Cakes. Besides, there were plenty of other great vintage players in that blaster: Stretch McCovey (mini and base), Bob Gibson, Mike Schmidt, Wade Boggs, Catfish Hunter, Robin Yount, and a mini A&G back Spahnie. I also got a mini Bud Selig, but that's why God invented the Sharpie.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sam Horn, 1991 Upper Deck #530

As I mentioned last night, Twins refugee Chris Parmelee had one hell of an Orioles debut, collecting a pair of singles and a pair of home runs in his first four at-bats. In 61-plus years in Baltimore, only one other player hit two round-trippers in his first game for the team: the one and only Sam Horn. On April 9, 1990 - Opening Day - the former Red Sox prospect went 4-for-5 with a pair of three-run homers, nearly single-handedly carrying the O's past the Royals in a 7-6 win. Sam had a nice little three-year stay in Charm City, batting .240/.328/.468 (122 OPS+) with 42 home runs and 125 RBI in 827 plate appearances. I wouldn't bet on Parmelee to stick around that long, but Dan Duquette has found useful players in unlikely places before.

P. S. : No posts from me for the rest of the week. See y'all Monday.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Brady Anderson, 2001 Donruss #66

Tonight the Orioles throttled the Phillies 19-3. They scored in all but one inning, and put up three or more runs in four separate innings. Oh, and I buried the lede - the O's set a new team record with eight home runs. The record-breaker was hit by Ryan Flaherty off of Philly outfielder Jeff Francoeur, who took one for the team by tossing 48 pitches over two innings. Manny Machado led off each of the first two innings with homers, Chris Parmelee added a pair as part of his four-hit Oriole debut, and Jimmy Paredes, David Lough, Chris Davis, and Flaherty had one apiece. It was the most runs scored by the Birds since a September 28, 2000 rout of Toronto that ended up at 23-1. That day, the O's also had a leadoff homer - from Brady Anderson. So it's been a minute.

Did I mention that I was at tonight's game? Well, I guess I did, just now. Thanks for the fireworks, guys.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Wei-Yin Chen, 2015 Topps Orioles Team Set #BO-15

Wei-Yin Chen, or "Weentsy", as I (and nobody else that I know of) call him, came through in a big way for the Orioles tonight. The bullpen has been working overtime lately, as O's starting pitchers had failed to complete six innings in eight consecutive games before tonight. But Chen was equal to the task, plowing through the Phillies for eight shutout innings in a 4-0 win, the team's ninth victory in the past 11 games. The Philly batters hit only four balls out of the infield, none before the fifth inning. The big blow for the Birds was a two-out, three-run homer by Matt Wieters in the sixth inning, but it's nice to see a starter give most of the 'pen a night off. Thanks, Weentsy!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Manny Machado, 2014 Panini Donruss #125

When you're hot, you're hot. The O's win streak has reached six straight games, as they throttled the Yankees again tonight by a 9-4 score. Another 15 hits for the Baltimore bats, including home runs by Nolan Reimold, Manny Machado, and David Lough. Manny had three hits and four RBI, and is on a 14-for-30 pace over his last seven games. That's the kind of performance you like to see from a leadoff hitter. The top of the American League East is getting pretty cozy, with the Yanks dropping into a first-place tie with the Rays. The Blue Jays, who have used some sort of dark Canadian magic to rattle off ten consecutive wins of their own, are one game behind the leaders, and the Orioles are lurking a game back of Toronto. Meanwhile, Boston is firmly in the cellar with a 27-36 record, five games behind Baltimore and seven back of first place. The next 101 games should be interesting.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Hank Bauer, 1964 Topps #178

I headed to Oriole Park at Camden Yards tonight expecting the worst. It was hot and muggy, the Yankees (and by extension their fans) were in town, and the pitching matchup was Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Michael Pineda. Sometimes I love being proven wrong. Jimenez gutted out five innings of three-run ball, the Yanks stranded the bases loaded twice, and the O's hammered out 16 hits en route to an 11-3 win. Chris Davis had a game-breaking three-run homer among his three hits, and Caleb Joseph also had a homer and three hits. New York didn't look much like a first-place team; they had two errors, two more misplays that were generously scored as hits, and a wild pitch. It was fun to watch.

This was a pretty significant win for Baltimore. It's their fifth in a row, their most runs scored since April 26's 18-7 beatdown of the Red Sox, and it draws them even at 30-30. The Birds hadn't seen the .500 mark since May 5. It was also Buck Showalter's 407th win as the O's manager, tying him with Hank Bauer for third-most in team history behind Earl Weaver and Paul Richards. Pretty good for one night's work.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Nolan Reimold, 2012 Topps Orioles Team Set #BAL3

Here's a thing that I didn't think I would say in 2015: Nolan Reimold made some major contributions as the Orioles completed a sweep of the Red Sox with a 6-5 win. The 31-year-old outfielder, who was promoted from AAA Norfolk earlier this week, chased down eight fly balls in left (and later right) field, and added a solo home run. It was his first round-tripper in an O's uniform since July 10, 2013. It's been a very uneven couple of months in Baltimore, but the Birds are riding their first four-game win streak of the year and are back within a game of .500. This weekend, they can take their best shot at the first-place Yankees. It's anybody's game right now.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bryan Bass, 2007 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BC116

Hey, it's a Bowman prospect card from eight years ago, so the question is: who in the blue hell is Bryan Bass? The Internet tells me that he was the Orioles' first-round compensatory draft pick (31st overall) in 2001, a consolation prize for losing Mike Mussina in free agency. It took Bass, who was selected out of Seminole High School in Florida, six years to make it to AA Bowie. In 170 games over two seasons with the Baysox, Bryan batted .221/.317/.359 with 14 home runs and 60 RBI. The O's cut bait on him after the 2007 season, and that was all she wrote for his baseball career, save for a one-game stint with the Tucson Toros of the independent Golden Baseball League in 2009. So why did Topps/Bowman put him on a "prospect" card when he was on his way out of affiliated baseball? I guess you'd have to ask them.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Jay Gibbons, 2005 Donruss Team Heroes #44

Today in Fuzzy Background Figures on Baseball Cards: Jay Gibbons hits a majestic fly ball, and the home plate umpire forgets himself and lets loose with an enthusiastic fist pump.

Monday, June 8, 2015

J.J. Hardy, 2015 Topps Orioles Team Set #BO-11

I love this card, unfortunate numbering convention notwithstanding. This photo was taken in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 2 of the 2014 ALDS - Friday, October 3, 2014. Delmon Young had just roped a bases-loaded pinch double into left field, blowing the nonexistent roof off of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. J.J. Hardy is sliding home ahead of Alex Avila's tag to give the O's a 7-6 lead. It's the most exciting moment I've witnessed in person as an Oriole fan, and now it's preserved in card form.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Matt Wieters, 2013 Panini Prizm #17

The Orioles are undefeated in 2015 when Matt Wieters starts. Sure, it's a sample size of two games, but it's good to see the team's star catcher back in the lineup after a year-plus hiatus due to Tommy John surgery. He looks to be in great form, too; in Friday's 5-2 win at Cleveland, he had a single, an RBI double, a sacrifice fly, and a run scored in four trips to the plate. Today, Matt completed his weekend cycle with a triple (with an assist to overmatched Indians right fielder Brandon Moss) and a solo homer in a 7-3 O's victory. A week into June, the Birds are finally approaching full strength. They've got five and a half games to make up in the AL East, but there's an encouraging precedent. On this date last year, the Orioles dropped a 4-3 contest to Oakland to fall 6.5 games behind the Blue Jays. So, why not?

Friday, June 5, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Ken Singleton, 1980 Topps #340

You don't see guys wearing the cap under their batting helmet any more; Juan Pierre is the most recent example that comes to mind. Is it because the helmets are constructed to fit better, or are today's players just more conscious of the fact that wearing two pieces of headgear together looks incredibly doofy? I'm guessing it's a bit of both.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Matt Albers, 2009 Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee #156

Yup, somebody thought that this photo was suitable for a baseball card. I'm sure that Matt Albers was aiming for a smile, but it ends up looking like he has a bad case of gas. Whoops.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Alex Gordon, 2000 Topps Traded #T21

Leave it to the Orioles to sign the wrong Alex Gordon. Their version was an undrafted high schooler from Washington state whom Topps saw fit to put on a baseball card after he put up a .348/.418/.678 batting line in 63 games at the lowest level of the minor leagues. As you may have guessed, that performance was not sustainable, and he was out of pro ball by age 24, never having made it to AA. In 2005, the Royals drafted their own Alex Gordon with the second overall pick in the draft, and after some early struggles the University of Nebraska product found his comfort level as a strong defensive left fielder with good power and on-base skills. He's a two-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glover, and the only thing he has in common with "our" Alex Gordon is his name.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Frank Robinson, 2000 MLB All Century Team Playing Cards

Does it get any better than an oddball card of Frank Robinson showing off his 1966 MVP plaque in Yankee Stadium? Well, the current-day Orioles could stop scuffling and take charge in a subpar American League East, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards this week. There's 110 games left after tonight, but it's hard to be patient and calm when the team's looking as snakebit as they are right now. Already tonight, a four-run lead evaporated in two innings. I can't bear to watch.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Luis Matos, 2001 Upper Deck MVP #71

Luis Matos is a Loon.

I swear I'm not resorting to childish name-calling. Matos, who is still only 36 years old, is currently the manager of the Dodgers' Class-A Midwest League affiliate, the Great Lakes Loons. This is his first year on the job, and the team is currently 25-26, smack in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Division. They are five and a half games behind the Lansing Lugnuts, and boy do I enjoy goofy minor league team names. Oh, and here's the kicker: the Loons' hitting coach is one of Luis' former Orioles teammates, the one and only Jay Gibbons. The only way it could be any better would be if the Great Lakes pitching coach was Matt Riley. (For the record, it's Glenn Dishman, who pitched for the Padres, Phillies, and Tigers from 1995-1997, and was born in Baltimore. I guess Midland, Michigan is Charm City North.)