Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Monday, February 29, 2016

Jim Dwyer, 1988 Donruss #459

I love the 1988 Donruss set just as much as any person possibly could, which is to say not at all. It's ugly, it's dull, and it's more ubiquitous than Starbucks. But as I was looking at this scuffed-up Jim Dwyer card with its dinged corners, I had a brainstorm. I think the cards in this set are actually improved by taking damage. It gives them character, and makes them seem like they're from a bygone era. In a way, they are - 1988 Donruss is four years older than Manny Machado. So as I sort through the hundreds of '88D cards that I've managed to accumulate (primarily through osmosis - I sure didn't actively seek them out), I just might place a premium on those copies that have been beaten up a bit. They shouldn't be hard to find; the dark borders and flimsy card stock have ensured that many of Pigpen Dwyer's ilk look much worse the wear after nearly three decades.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Vintage Fridays: Pete Richert, 1969 Topps #86

The Washington Senators traded Pete Richert to the Orioles in May of 1967, yet here he is on a 1969 Topps card wearing a Senators cap with the logo blacked out. You might also notice his pinstriped jersey, with a hint of the red "Senators" script peeking up over the bottom border. Boy, this set is a drag.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Brad Pennington, 1993 Upper Deck #437

Whoops. Dexter Fowler won't be an Oriole, and nobody is really sure what happened. Instead of wringing our hands over what could have been, I will move forward by convincing myself you that we are better off in Baltimore without Fowler. To wit:

1. His birthday is March 22. Do you know who else was born on that day? Wackadoo Christian televangelist Pat Robertson. Pretty suspicious company.

2. He'll be 30 next month. He's practically got one foot in the grave, athletically speaking. Why, he's only two and a half years younger than Nolan Reimold.

3. I know batting average is a dinosaur statistic, but do we really want to give tens of millions of dollars to a guy who was .025 behind Jimmy Paredes last year?

4. Dexter struck out looking in Game Four of the 2015 NLCS to eliminate the Cubs from the postseason. Choker.

5. He turned down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Cubs at the beginning of the postseason, only to twist in the wind all winter before ultimately spurning the Orioles' three-year, $35 million and signing a one-year, $8 million deal with the Cubs featuring a $5 million buyout and a $9 million mutual option for 2017. Should he use that option at the end of this season, he will effectively have signed a one-year, $13 million deal. Otherwise, he'll get two years and $17 million. If that's the kind of sound decision making Fowler employs on a day-to-day basis...

6. Hey, now we get to keep our 28th overall draft pick in June!

7. We'll be spared three years of huckster sports writers making forced references to that TV show about a charming serial killer.

8. A "fowler" is defined as a hunter of birds. Somewhere, the O's mascot is breathing a sigh of relief.

9. Dexter is actually his middle name; his first name is William. What's he trying to hide?

10. If Fowler played for the Orioles, our pitchers wouldn't have the pleasure of getting him out any more. In 10 career games against Baltimore, the outfielder has hit an anemic .167/.302/.194 with no home runs and three RBI.

...No, YOU'RE grasping at straws. Who am I kidding? This sucks. It sucks more than Brad Pennington.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Eddie Murray, 2013 Topps Rookie Card Patch #RCP-10

Oh day of days! It is the 60th birthday of Eddie Clarence Murray, long may he reign in badassitude. It would be nice and tidy if this happened to be my 60th Eddie post, but it's actually number 67. Oh well. More is more, you know? Anyhow, just for a lark, I looked up Steady Eddie's 60th career home run. It came on June 19, 1979, in the midst of his third big league season, and it was a pivotal one. In the bottom of the sixth inning in Cleveland, Steve Stone and Tim Stoddard had allowed three runs to the Indians to tie the game 3-3. Leading off the top of the seventh, Murray went deep against Mike Paxton to put the O's on top for good. They held on for a 6-4 win, their fifth straight. At that point the Orioles were 43-22 en route to capturing the American League pennant.

Eddie then, Eddie now, Eddie forever.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Adam Jones, 2012 Panini Triple Play #7

Hey, the O's finally decided that Adam Jones shouldn't have to carry the entire outfield by himself! Though Yovani Gallardo's contract hasn't been finalized yet ("physical" is the scariest eight-letter word in Birdland), the Orioles are keeping busy. They've agreed to a three-year deal with free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler, late of the Cubs. Like Gallardo, Fowler is on the verge of his 30th birthday and has had to wait until the start of spring training to find a team thanks to the thorny issue of draft pick compensation. But giving up a lottery ticket on a young amateur seems like a fair price to pay in order to bring in a player with a .363 career on-base percentage. What's more, Dexter will slide over from center field to right, improving Baltimore's outfield defense to levels unseen since Nick Markakis was young and spry. Fowler's acquisition also allows Buck Showalter to write Mark Trumbo's name into the lineup at designated hitter, which is assuredly the slugger's natural position. The O's are a better team today than they were yesterday, and I think I can live with that.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Ubaldo Jimenez, 2014 Bowman Chrome Refractor #61

Today the Orioles boosted their starting rotation by signing Yovani Gallardo to a three-year, $35 million contract. The ex-Brewers and Rangers starter is a week shy of his 30th birthday and has a 103-75 career record with a 3.66 ERA. He's durable, having made at least 30 starts in each of the last seven seasons. There are questions about Gallardo, as his velocity and strikeouts have dropped in recent years, and by signing him, the Birds are forfeiting their first-round draft pick. But he'll be an upgrade on the fifth starter candidates in camp (Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson, Odrisamer Despaigne, etc.), he signed for less money than most folks expected, and...he's going to be better than Ubaldo Jimenez. Right?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Vintage Fridays: Al Bumbry, 1978 Topps #188

I just plain like this card. I've got a thing for the simplicity of the 1978 Topps design, and the candid photo of Al Bumbry yukking it up while applying pine tar to his bat is a winner. There are plenty of other small touches: the batting practice net in the background, Bumbry's shell necklace, the oh-so-precise part in his hair. It's a moment in time that you just don't get with those dime-a-dozen action photos.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Jonathan Schoop, 2014 Bowman #128

Baseball is back! In Florida and Arizona, at least. Pitchers and catchers reported to O's camp in Sarasota today, as did the overachieving types among infielders and outfielders. The double-play combo of Jonathan Schoop and J. J. Hardy were present today, as both are hoping to rebound from injury-marred 2015 seasons. Today it seems possible. Hope and optimism reign.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Larry Sheets, 1990 Score #111

So I've been missing in action for a week, but I've got a heck of a story. Friday, Janet and I drove down to Charlotte to visit her family over the long weekend. We were feeling snake-bit about traveling when the forecast called for more winter weather in the Mid-Atlantic (you might remember our misadventures one year ago), but Janet's grandmother is in poor health so we decided to go. We watched the weather reports closely on Saturday and Sunday, and finally resigned ourselves to cutting our stay short and leaving Sunday afternoon at 4:30. That allowed us to...drive directly into the snowstorm in southern Virginia at about 6:00 pm. Janet and I struggled with lessened visibility, often-slick road conditions, and speeds as low as 35 mph for the next five-plus hours, which made for lots of tense moments. With its two-lane structure and heavy tractor trailer traffic, I-81 can be a challenging drive even on clear days. Shortly after a restroom and coffee stop in Staunton, VA (birthplace of Larry Sheets!), we realized that the interstate wasn't getting any smoother and our ETA was climbing up to 2:30 AM. So by 11:30, we called it a night and checked into the Comfort Inn in Woodstock...and stayed until noon on Tuesday. Monday turned out to be a total wash, thanks to a daylong progression of snow, sleet, and torrential rain. When we finally did hit the road again, it was a clear shot home. We were back in Baltimore just before 3:30 yesterday afternoon, a mere 47 hours after we'd begun the trip. Next year, I think we'll be staying put for President's Day.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ryan Finan, 2007 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BC217

It's probably not a good sign for your prospect status when a blogger is looking you up on Baseball Reference a decade after the fact to figure out how far you went in the minors. Ryan Finan was a tall (6'5") corner infielder whom the Orioles drafted out of Lamar University in Texas. He was a 21st-round pick in 2004, and it may comfort him to know that nobody else from that round ever cracked the major leagues. This includes such bright lights as high school shortstop Raymond Honey and Bethune Cookman College pitcher Mumba Rivera. Anyhow, Ryan stuck around in the O's farm system for five years, batting .270/.370/.430 with 46 homers and 259 RBI. Despite those strong on-base skills, he was out of baseball after putting up a .257/.347/.406 line with 11 home runs and 54 RBI with the AA Bowie Baysox in 2008. At 26, he was a bit old for his level, but other players have stuck around the minors far longer with lesser results. Maybe Finan was realistic about his chances of reaching the big leagues, and chose to pursue another line of work rather than continuing to grind away in the Eastern League. He wouldn't be the first.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Leo Gomez, 1991 Studio #3

Leo Gomez Fun Fact No. 62: In the Orioles' clubhouse, the locker next to Leo Gomez was reserved for his eyeglasses.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Rafael Palmeiro, 2004 Topps #620

Did you hear that the Orioles signed Palmeiro yesterday? Patrick Palmeiro, of course. Who did you think I meant? Anyhow, the O's inked Raffy's oldest son to a minor league deal yesterday. Patrick will turn 26 next month, and batted .256/.315/.404 with 13 homers and 68 RBI for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League last year. You might remember that the Skeeters signed Rafael Palmeiro at the end of the season so that he could play alongside his son. Now the younger Palmeiro will get another crack at affiliated ball after a three-year stint in the low minors with the White Sox.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Tony Batista, 2002 Playoff Absolute Memorabilia #17

It's been a long, strange winter, from the 70-degree temps of Christmas week to last month's weekend blizzard, and it's still far from over. It looks like a few more inches of snow are en route to Baltimore tonight and tomorrow, though in my house we'll be turning our pajamas inside out and backwards just to seal the deal. There are signs of hope, nonetheless. In just ten days, pitchers and catchers will report to Sarasota to kick off Orioles Spring Training. Sure, we still have to wait until April for games that count, but practice drills and exhibition games are better than no baseball at all.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Vintage Fridays: Andy Etchebarren, 1971 Topps #501

It's great that Topps started incorporating action photos into their base set in 1971, but an action shot is wasted on Andy Etchebarren. Why would you zoom out and obscure the classic masterpiece that is his face? That could be any old schlub taking his hacks in road grays. Luckily they learned from their mistakes and returned to posed close-ups for the rest of Etch's career.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Cal Ripken Jr., 2001 Fleer Cal Ripken Jr. Career Highlights #26

This card is part of a 60-card box set that arrived as part of the mystery package from Zach last month. It's a pretty snazzy deal, as it commemorates Cal Ripken's legendary career with 20 reprints of his Fleer base cards, 10 cards focusing on significant achievements throughout his career, 13 cards marking major milestones in his consecutive games played streak, and 17 cards chronicling his farewell season. The featured card shows the moment in the sixth inning of the 2001 All-Star Game when commissioner Bud Selig stopped the game to present Tony Gwynn and Ripken with career achievement awards. It's nice that they've captured this memorable moment on the card, but it's poor form to cut Gwynn in half. I know we're focusing on Cal here, but Tony Gwynn was a fellow hometown hero and Hall of Famer, not some schmo middle reliever. Speaking of schmoes, I'm quite sure that is then-Yankees first base coach and future failed O's manager Lee Mazzilli standing behind Ripken. Tony Gwynn gets cropped out, and that guy stays in the picture? Come on.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Jeff Conine, 2002 Donruss Fan Club #70

I haven't given a baby update since I spilled the beans here one month ago, so here's the latest. Baby B's gestational age is 18 weeks and five days, putting the little peanut firmly in Jeff Conine territory. "Niner" wore #18 during his first stint with the Orioles (1999-2003), and switched to #19 for his second go-round in Baltimore in 2006. So whether you round up or down, well...you get it. Today we had a lengthy ultrasound appointment, and though the primary objective was to make sure everything was in its right place (bones, organs, all that fun stuff - and yes, baby passed with flying colors), obviously Janet and I were just excited to spend 45 minutes of our afternoon watching our unborn kid squirm, stretch, and even yawn. I don't want to get too syrupy here, but it was just an awe-inspiring experience. I will try to refer back to this blog post in July, when I am feeling desperately overwhelmed and sleep-deprived...and then again in a decade or so, when I need to embarrass the hell out of my child.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Scott Erickson, 2002 Upper Deck 40 Man #217

It turns out that Groundhog Day is a big day for Oriole birthdays. Scott Erickson is 48 years old today, Melvin Mora is blowing out 44 candles, and Don Buford turns 79. They are probably not celebrating together, but that would be one interesting party.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Joe Carter, 1998 Upper Deck SPX Finite Spectrum #252

Was Joe Carter really an Oriole? Yes, for 85 lackluster games in 1998, his farewell major league season. The 38-year-old slugger joined the O's on a $3 million free agent deal, departing the Blue Jays after seven seasons as the team's all-time home run leader with a total of 203. He's now fourth behind Carlos Delgado (336 HR), Jose Bautista (243 and counting), and Vernon Wells (223). As one of many players to underperform for the defending AL East Champion Orioles, Carter batted just .247/.297/.424 with 11 home runs and 34 RBI in 303 trips to the plate. In late July, with Baltimore treading water near the .500 mark, Joe was dealt to the Giants for the excellently-named minor league pitcher Darrin Blood. He finished strong in San Francisco, batting .295/.322/.562 with seven homers and 29 RBI in 41 games. He hung up his spikes at the end of the season, ending up with 396 career four-baggers and 1,445 RBI. So Joe Carter might not have made an impact in Baltimore, but at least he looked good in the uniform.