Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Luke Scott, 2011 Topps Allen and Ginter #78

On Saturday, June 25, 2016, at 10:03 AM, Finn Caleb Brotzman was born. Seven pounds, seven ounces, 21 inches long. He is as healthy as can be, and his cleft lip has no palate involvement, so he'll only need one surgery to correct the lip. The 28.5 hours that crawled by between the time we checked in to labor and delivery on Friday morning and the moment that our son took his first breath the following morning were full of restlessness and anxiety. Janet and I are both still exhausted, but it was all worth it.

During our stay in labor and delivery and postpartum, we watched at least parts of all four games of the Orioles' home sweep of the Rays, so Finn's life as an O's fan is off to a charmed start. He has a motley assortment of Birdland Birthday Buddies: Luke Scott, turn-of-the-century reliever Ryan Kohlmeier, and 1977 bullpenner Dick Drago. I know you'd probably like to read several paragraphs about Dick Drago, but instead I'll distract you with baby pictures. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Brian Roberts, 2004 Fleer Tradition #350

And then there was one. One. One sleep until we meet our baby. It's so surreal.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Eric Davis, 1998 Upper Deck #39

Just a reminder: Adam Jones is not the first lithe, power-hitting Orioles outfielder to enjoy a good wad of bubble gum. Eric Davis was blowing bubbles while Adam Jones was still in middle school.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Jonathan Schoop, 2014 Bowman Chrome #7

I might not officially be a father for another five days or so, but I had a very enjoyable first Fathers' Day today. My wonderful wife Janet treated me to a breakfast of scrambled eggs, along with apple cider donuts from Weber's Farm. Then my sister and I took our dad to Camden Yards, where the Orioles won the rubber game against the Blue Jays in a less-than-tidy three and a half hours, out-slugging Toronto in an 11-6 final. Baltimore pounded out a season-high 19 hits, including Matt Wieters' 4-for-5, four RBI performance. Three other O's had three hits apiece: Hyun-Soo Kim, Chris Davis, and Jonathan Schoop. Schoop had the most impressive hit on the day, a towering 458-foot two-run home run off of Jesse Chavez in the bottom of the seventh inning. His blast reached the recessed seating beyond the concrete walkway in the lower deck in left field, which nobody seems to recall happening before. Chris Tillman wasn't at his best, allowing a pair of two-run homers in the second inning, but he stopped the bleeding there and cleared five innings to earn his tenth win against just one loss. Oh, and my father and I got these snazzy newsboy caps, a fine promotional giveaway if there ever was one:

So Happy Fathers' Day to all of the current dads and dads-to-be out there.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Eduardo Rodriguez, 2013 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP207

The Orioles' starting pitching has been identified as the team's Achilles' heel since before the season began. Entering tonight's game, the team's non-Chris Tillman starters had an unsightly 5.53 ERA, leading many to lament the prospects that were traded away in midseason deals in recent years, emerging pitchers such as Zach Davies and Eduardo Rodriguez. Yeah, about that...

Tonight the O's took their hacks against Rodriguez, dealt away to Boston in July 2014 in order to bring Andrew Miller to Baltimore. The lefty turned heads last year with a 10-6 record and 3.85 ERA (111 ERA+) as a rookie last year, but started this season on the DL and made just his fourth start of the year tonight. The Orioles were not accommodating, chasing him in the fifth inning and racking up five runs on eight hits. Meanwhile, Tyler Wilson excelled. Facing a formidable Boston offense, he tossed a career-high eight shutout innings, allowing three hits and a walk and striking out six. So the Birds return home tomorrow in sole possession of first place, and they'll try to keep the surging Blue Jays at bay. As Buck Showalter would say, "Bring it on".

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Brady Anderson, 1997 Fleer Ultra #2

Countdown to Parenthood has reached nine days...or less. (Please take your time, kid.) Are we ready? Will we ever truly be ready? Probably not, but we have a pail full of clean cloth diapers and a freezer full of donated breast milk, so I guess the necessities are in place.

Huh...eight years ago, I never would have thought I'd be mentioning breast milk on this blog. It's a brave new world.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Bobby Bonilla, 1996 Donruss #225

Last weekend, the Orioles picked up some familiar names in the MLB amateur draft. In the seventh round, they spent the 211th overall pick on North Carolina State University first baseman Preston Palmeiro, the younger son of former O's All-Star Rafael Palmeiro. Yes, he bats lefty. In 59 games as a junior, Preston batted .337 with 20 doubles, nine homers, and 55 RBI. Scouts like his contact hitting ability but question his power potential; sounds a lot like the early outlook for his father. Back in spring training, Preston's big brother Patrick was in the Birds' minor league camp, but was released before long.

On Saturday the O's used their 13th round selection on lefty reliever Brandon Bonilla, the progeny of slugging third baseman-outfielder Bobby Bonilla. Bobby Bo spent parts of two seasons in Baltimore in the mid-1990s, and his kid saved a dozen games as a senior for the Hawaii Pacific University Sharks. He reportedly throws 97 mph, and allowed just one run in 25.1 innings this season, striking out 38 and walking 15 while giving up nine hits.

As always, there's no telling whether either second-generation player will ever make it to the big leagues. But it certainly seems like they have some good tools.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Jeffrey Hammonds, 1994 Leaf Limited #1

11 days. Eleven. I will be a father in less than two weeks. I'm dealing with a lot of complex emotions, and I tried to unpack some of them earlier today in a Facebook post. I hope you'll forgive me if I copy and paste:

"Sometimes I worry that I'm going to run out of ways to express my gratitude to everyone. Since Janet's diagnosis back in March, our friends, family, coworkers, and community members have given so much: advice, companionship, sympathy, prayers, hope, time. Then there are the material gifts: baby clothes, toys, books, and care items, ready-to-heat meals (that's a biggie)...and of course we were blown away when you donated $3,700 to Janet's head shaving fundraiser for the St. Baldrick's Foundation.

It's precisely because of this generosity that we've hesitated in asking for more. But our friend Molly offered to set up a donation page to help defray our medical costs, and I don't mind telling you that the expenses associated with cancer treatment caught us off guard. Long story short - Blue Cross/Blue Shield Federal offers great maternity coverage, but their cancer coverage leaves a lot to be desired.

Our GoFundMe page has been up for less than 48 hours, and you've already contributed over a thousand dollars. Janet and I both are simply overcome with emotion. Some of you have boosted the signal by sharing our page with your own friends, resulting in donations from folks that we don't even know. What is there to say? Thank you. You've given us comfort, hope, and peace of mind. I hope we can repay you in kind."

You can find our GoFundMe page here. Every bit helps, and I'm not just talking about donations. It helps to know that there are people I've never met who are pulling for us, reading about my experiences and hopes and fears and offering encouraging words. Thanks as always.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Vintage Fridays: Billy Gardner, 1957 Topps #17

Things to know about Billy Gardner:

-His nickname was "Shotgun", due to his strong throwing arm.

-He played eight minor league seasons before debuting with the Giants in 1954. Though he didn't see action in the World Series that fall, he did receive a winner's share of $11,147.90.

-During the 1956 season, Billy hit a pair of home runs off of Athletics pitcher (and future Dodgers manager) Tom Lasorda.

-His best big league season came with the Orioles in 1957. He batted .262/.325/.356 and led the American League with 36 doubles, and was voted Most Valuable Oriole.

-On August 13, 1957, he hit two homers and drove in three runs as the Orioles topped the Senators 5-3. His two-run shot off of Joe Black in the top of the ninth was a tiebreaker, and it provided the winning margin.

-After his playing career ended in 1964, Gardner spent more than two decades as a coach and manager. He skippered minor league teams affiliated with the Red Sox, Royals, and Expos, helming five first-place clubs. From 1981-1985, he managed the Twins, peaking with an 81-81 third-place finish in 1984. On June 21, 1985, he was fired and replaced by longtime Orioles pitching coach Ray Miller. Billy also served as manager of the Royals in 1987 after Dick Howser had to step down for medical reasons, but was let go in late August.

-His son, Billy Jr., was a 50th round draft pick of Kansas City in 1987 and has been a minor league manager since 1995. He is currently with the Nationals' AAA Syracuse Chiefs club.

-Gardner, now 88 years old, still lives in Connecticut.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Dylan Bundy, 2013 Bowman Chrome Blue Refractor #134

Dylan Bundy earned another win tonight with 2.1 scoreless innings in relief of Tyler Wilson, and the Orioles mounted another comeback, wiping out a pair of three-run deficits to top the Blue Jays 6-5. Chris Davis drove in three runs, including a game-tying solo homer in the seventh and the game-winning sac fly in the ninth (Hyun-Soo Kim led off the inning with a double off of Toronto closer Roberto Osuna). The Birds are a season-high 13 games over .500 and increased their division lead to two games over idle Boston. These guys might be on to something.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Manny Machado, 2014 Stadium Club #52

I'm not one to condone violence, but on the other hand, what could be more violent than hurling a small, hard projectile directly at another person at 99 mph? I'm not thrilled that Manny Machado's retaliatory punches and takedown of Kansas City pitcher/petulant man-child Yordano Ventura will result in a suspension for the Orioles' best player, but I'm glad he defended himself and that he connected when he swung. Oh, and if living well is the best revenge, there is the fact that the O's beat the crap out of Ventura in a baseball sense, battering him for six runs in his abbreviated start. Immediately after Yordano was ejected for his beanball, Mark Trumbo (20 HR) and Chris Davis (12 HR) went back-to-back against reliever Chien-Ming Wang, who is apparently still active. Adam Jones added another longball the following inning, and the Birds romped to a 9-1 win to match their season-best mark of 11 games over .500. The scuffling Royals, meanwhile, are losers of six straight. Let's make it seven tomorrow.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Brady Anderson, 1994 Fleer Flair #251

Baseball has a nearly limitless ability to surprise. Would you ever have suspected that Brady Anderson's resume would someday include both a 50-homer season and a position as a trusted executive in the Orioles' front office? The O's have been a competitive team for the past five seasons, and for much of that time they have kept me guessing. After last year's frustrating 81-81, third-place finish, I wasn't brimming with optimism for 2016. I didn't figure on the team retaining Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, and Darren O'Day. Even after they did so, I didn't think it would be enough to boost them back to the top of the division. I didn't expect Mark Trumbo, acquired from Seattle in a salary dump, to be closing in on 20 home runs in the first week of June. When the Orioles stumbled in recent weeks, losing seven of nine games (including dropping the first two of a four-game series vs. Boston), I didn't foresee them bouncing back to win five of the next six and counting. They're doing it in quite unusual ways:

-Last Wednesday, they outlasted the Red Sox in a bizarre 13-9 slog. I was there, and stuck around as it took 3:58 to play eight and a half innings. The Sawx outhomered the Birds 5-0, and it didn't matter.

-Thursday the O's clobbered Boston again, 12-7, and this time blasted seven home runs, one of them by rookie catcher Francisco Pena, who was recalled from AAA Norfolk earlier in the series after Caleb Joseph hit the DL. Ubaldo Jimenez blew a 4-0 sixth-inning lead in the blink of an eye, but the Baltimore offense was up to the task.

-Over the weekend the Orioles took two of three from the Yankees, earning comeback wins against dominant relievers Dellin Betances on Friday and Aroldis Chapman on Sunday. Yesterday's game was especially remarkable, with Chapman blowing a save following a 97-minute rain delay in the eighth inning; Matt Wieters erased a 1-0 New York lead by turning an 0-2, 101-mph fastball into a single up the middle to un-load the bases. Even in Saturday night's 8-6 loss, the O's nearly wiped out a 7-0 deficit with six runs in the seventh before running out of gas.

-Tonight the string of weird W's continued with a 4-1 victory over the scuffling defending World Series champs from Kansas City. Mike Wright was so putrid in a 2.2-inning start last Wednesday that he was immediately sent down to Norfolk, only to return to Charm City when Darren O'Day landed on the DL. Given a second chance, he held the Royals to a single unearned run on five hits and two walks over seven innings to earn his first win since May 14. Scoreless through six innings, the Baltimore bats woke up for three home runs and four runs total in the seventh and eighth innings to salt the game away.

Sure, the Red Sox are probably still the favorites to take the East, but it's the Orioles who are in the lead after a bit more than one-third of the season. They've had at least a share of first place for 48 days this year, after enjoying the top spot for just 11 days in 2015. What's not to like?

Friday, June 3, 2016

Vintage Fridays: John Orsino, 1965 Topps #303

For three years, John Orsino wore #12 on the back of his jersey in Baltimore. Tomorrow I'm taking a quick overnight trip to Chestertown for my college reunion weekend. 12 years out of school, and I know that's not a big milestone, but I'll take any excuse to spend a bit of time in C-town, especially when I haven't been back in two years. That's gotta be my longest absence since graduating. As I've done in years past, I'll be performing in a drama alumni improv show tomorrow night. I'm not above humiliating myself for the entertainment of others now and then, and the cash bar in the lobby will hopefully make the audience more receptive. I'll drop back in on the blog in a day or two. Have a good weekend, and enjoy your (once again) first-place Orioles!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Doug Jones, 1995 Stadium Club #564

1995 Stadium Club #564 Doug Jones Front 
Given everything that's been going on in my personal life lately, I hope my few regular readers are not worrying too much when I go silent for a few days. I'm doing well, as are Janet and Baby B. We have a new due date, and it's as set in stone as these sorts of things ever are. They will induce labor at 39 weeks, otherwise known as three weeks from tomorrow: Friday, June 24. Ho. Ly. Crap. I don't feel remotely ready, but we've taken the childbirth prep and infant care classes, I've read a few parenting books, the thank you cards for baby gifts have been written and sent, and the nursery is...getting there. It's been painted, and the crib and dresser are assembled. If our kiddo is content to hang around for another 22 days, he or she will share a birthday with Doug Jones. Not one of my favorite O's ever, but he had a long, solid career elsewhere. Other than the mustachioed closer, the most prominent big leaguers in the June 24 club are current Twins starter Phil Hughes, 1970s Cardinals third baseman Ken Reitz, and 1960s slugger Don Mincher. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to enjoy the Orioles' just-concluded win against the Red Sox and I'll be doing my best not to panic. Our infant care teacher said to trust our gut instincts, and she is a professional nurse. Sounds easy enough, right?

Don't answer that.