Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Monday, October 31, 2011

Randy Myers, 1997 Fleer Ultra #9

Okay, it's not Michael Myers, but if you ask me, Randy Myers is just as scary. Instead of a white William Shatner mask and a butcher knife, he had a nasty fastball and a locker full of grenades and hunting knives. If you were a lefthanded batter given a choice between the two, it would probably be a toss-up. Happy Halloween, kids. Don't forget to watch out for cars and share your candy!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tim Stoddard, 1984 Donruss #245

It was something of a happy accident, but I spent my first day without baseball out being social. Not even an onslaught of October snow - SNOW! - was able to keep me from my plans. There was a 5:00 PM birthday party for my cousin's little girl, where I caught up with the extended family and failed to suppress a few smirks while my uncle ranted about my ridiculous luck in fantasy football. (My Fightin' Igwebuikes are 7-0, and could run it to 8-0 with a good game by Michael Vick tonight.)

I didn't think I was going to have any Halloween-type activities to attend this year, but late in the game my sister invited me to a small get-together at her house. I swung by at 7:00 PM in my cost-effective and quickly-assembled costume, consumed much dessert, and watched the horrendous Halloweens 4 and 5. Pictured below: me in my hipster getup. I trimmed the beard down to my best ironic/absurd facial hair. I think Tim Stoddard wears it better, but I'm pleased with the way it turned out. My sister's friend Justin is visible in the background as Marty McFly.
Earlier in the day, I'd gotten an 11th-hour invite to a Halloween party that night in Greenbelt hosted by some friends from the Rude Mechanicals, a theatre troupe I acted with when I lived down that way. I haven't seen them much since I moved back to Baltimore, so I wanted to make an appearance. Knowing that their parties skew later in the evening, I bade my sister goodbye at 10:30 and made the hourlong drive south. I had a good time and made it safely back home at the responsible hour of 3:30 in the morning. Somehow I'm still in one piece, and I'm a bit relieved to be staying in and giving out candy tomorrow night.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Arthur Rhodes, 1995 Upper Deck #369

A hearty congratulations to Arthur Rhodes, who just won the World Series with the Cardinals. It's the lefty's first championship in his 20 year big league career. Rhodes retired all three batters that he faced in three games in the Fall Classic, capping a scoreless postseason for the 42-year-old. Though I wasn't rooting for the Cardinals in the Series, I was glad to see Arthur earn a "hold" by coaxing a flyout from pinch hitter Yorvit Torrealba in the seventh inning last night. He set a record as the oldest pitcher ever to record a hold in the World Series, of course. I was even happier to see him smiling widely while rushing out to join the mob scene on the infield in St. Louis after the final out was recorded. I'm not sure if he'll be back next year after putting up a 4.64 ERA in 2011, his highest mark since 2006. But if he walks away from the game now, he'll be doing it while on top of the baseball world. Not bad for a guy who was drafted a few months after current O's pitcher Chris Tillman was born back in the spring of 1988.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Vintage Fridays: Wally Bunker, 1968 Topps #489

Yes, I know that we're in the midst of one of the most closely contested, thrilling, unpredictable World Series of our lifetime, but there are more important matters to discuss. Namely, the cartoon bird is back! MASN's Roch Kubatko and the Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly have confirmed that the O's caps next year will feature a smiling caricature of an Oriole bird for the first time in a quarter-century. Supposedly it will be "a combination" of the two distinct birds that have been used. The original bird lasted from 1966 through 1974, and the newer bird was worn from 1975 through 1988. Though full details aren't available, I would assume (and hope) that the caps will be black with orange bills instead of including the white front panel that came about in later years. There are a lot of people who preferred the various ornithologically-correct bird logos that the Orioles cycled through from 1989 through 2011, but that grinning fowl is the iconic image of the franchise, and baseball takes itself too seriously as it is. As long as the new bird doesn't end up looking like the lame "Fun Bird" of last decade, it's all good.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Phil Bradley, 1989 Bowman #17

Every time I look at a 1989 Bowman card, I find it hard to believe that there was ever a 1990 Bowman set released. These cards are ugly, dull, and clunky. Nearly every card in the set looks just like this, a portrait of a player staring straight ahead. Some smile, some grimace, and some just kind of go slack. They're bigger than standard cards, making them a pain in the ass to store in boxes. Sure, you could put them in 8-pocket binder pages, but who would want to do that? Boo to you, 1989 Bowman. Boo.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tim Raines, Jr., 2002 Topps Total #119

I thought Tim Raines, Jr. was a fitting choice on the night that rains washed out the sixth game of the World Series. Yes, I know. That's a reach even for me. But look on the bright side: we're able to put off the end of the 2011 baseball season for at least one more day. It'll be a long winter, so the longer we can hold it at arm's length, the better.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Brady Anderson, 1997 Stadium Club Instavision #17

In my experience, attempting to scan a card with foil, chrome, holographic images, lenticular images, or any other kind of bells and whistles is a real roll of the dice. Some look dull or indistinguishable compared to the real thing, and some actually look better than they do in hand. The light from the scanner can bring out something brilliant. This holograph is a mixed bag. You don't get the bright colors and mirror-like reflective effect in the scan, but it did capture two distinct images from the scene of Brady Anderson's Orioles-record 50th home run of the 1996 season.

The game in question is the regular-season finale at Toronto's SkyDome, a Sunday afternoon game on September 29. The O's had already clinched the American League Wild Card, but they at least began the game with a few regulars in the lineup. Brady of course batted leadoff, and belted Blue Jay starter Pat Hentgen's fifth pitch over the fence for his landmark 50th home run, breaking a tie with Frank Robinson for the team single-season record. As Anderson followed through on his swing, Hentgen had no choice but to bolt upright and follow the trajectory of the ball. It was the Baltimore outfielder's 12th leadoff homer of the year and it made him the 14th player in major league history to touch 'em all 50 times in one season.

Yet Hentgen shut down the O's after that, and Toronto used some well-timed hits to give him his 20th win by a 4-1 score. Pat got the Cy Young Award, but Brady and the Birds got to keep playing.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Arthur Rhodes, 1993 Fleer #174

Alright, you get the quick n' dirty Willard Scott treatment tonight. Happy 42nd birthday to Arthur Rhodes, who is still in the running for the first World Series championship of his very long career. He was born in 1969, when the Orioles were still a juggernaut. Imagine that.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gary Roenicke, 1984 Fleer #18

I am a man of simple tastes and basic needs. If I had a batting glove with a little 1980s-vintage Orioles logo on it, like the one Gary Roenicke is wearing in this photo, I would be set for life.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Brooks Robinson, 2011 Topps Kimball Champions Mini #71

Earlier today, a statue depicting Brooks Robinson winding up to throw to first base was officially dedicated across the street from Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The nine-foot bronze sculpture stands on the plaza at Washington Boulevard and Russell Street, and was commissioned by The Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation and The Dorothy L. and Henry A. Rosenberg, Jr. Foundation. Brooks and his wife Connie were joined at the brief ceremony by several local officials, former teammates such as Ronnie Hansen and Scott McGregor, Baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson, and about 1,000 enthusiastic O's fans. I can't wait to see the statue for myself next spring when I grab a beer at Slider's. For now, a picture will have to do. It looks like Baltimore's Joseph Sheppard did a fine job creating it!

Photo credit: AP

Friday, October 21, 2011

Vintage Fridays: Dick Williams, 1957 Topps #59

I've had a lot of fun with mutilated old cards on this blog, whether they be coated in Con-Tac paper or missing half a back or scribbled on or just plain worn out. It is in this tradition that I present to you a custom-made 1957 Topps mini card. At some point in this card's 54-year odyssey from a 5-cent pack to my hands, a (presumably) young mad scientist trimmed off the white borders surrounding Dick Williams, leaving behind the sort of full-bleed photo that would become all the rage in the 1990s with Topps' Stadium Club and similar sets. What tickles me is that the 1957 set was the first to feature the now-standard card size of 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches, a reduction from the 2.625" by 3.75" cards that Topps had manufactured since 1952. I guess they still weren't small enough for somebody.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Manny Alexander, 1996 Topps #34

I finally got around to ripping through the box of 1992 Topps that I bought last month, and my hopes of completing the set proved misguided. Despite needing less than 200 cards for the full 792, I was undone by the crappy collation of the junk wax era. I'm still 55 short, and I throw myself upon your mercy, fellow collectors. You can find my handy-dandy want list here, and email me for trade talk at brotz13 at gmail dot com. Let's do business, so that I might finally close out my only incomplete Topps base set from 1986-1993.

The most glaring need in my set, by the way, is card number 551. It's been the only Oriole I've needed for several years, and I never bothered checking to see who was on it because I kind of enjoyed the mystery. But after opening 36 packs of 1992 Topps without finding that white whale, I finally gave in and looked it up. It's a multi-team prospect card featuring Alex Arias, Wil Cordero, Chipper Jones....and Manny Freaking Alexander. Very sneaky, Manny.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Justin Duchscherer, 2011 Topps Diamond #479

On the heels of last Friday's Dennis Blair card, here's another guy who never threw a pitch for the Orioles. Every time I read about Justin Duchscherer's starts and stops down in extended spring training this year, I just felt worse for him. "Duke" was a two-time All-Star in Oakland, a good reliever who also had success after converting to the starting rotation in 2008. His 3.13 career ERA is worthy of a thumbs up, certainly. But hip and arm troubles interrupted his 2007 and 2008 seasons before costing him all of 2009. He was limited to five games in 2010, and has also struggled with depression. He's been forthcoming about his anxiety, remarkably stating that he's even felt guilt when he retired opposing batters. So when the O's took a flyer on him for less than a million dollars guaranteed, I rooted for him to succeed.

Unfortunately, his body is just not cooperating any more. It seemed like I read about two dozen articles with the phrase "cut short" attached to Justin's name. Several times, he had to be shut down during workouts and simulated games because his back started spasming or his hip began aching. It happened when he threw pitches and when he tried to field his position. Finally, the Birds packed it in and released Duke in August. I still want to see him somewhere in the major leagues next year.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gregg Olson, 1992 Donruss #110

Gregg Olson was one of the goofiest-looking guys to ever put on an Oriole uniform, and that's before you get to talking about what he looked like in action. Have you ever seen another pitcher whose delivery left him bow-legged?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mickey Tettleton, 1988 Score Rookie & Traded #31T

Orange is not a color that's frequently used in baseball card designs. For obvious reasons, I'm always eager to get my hands on cards with border colors that complement the Orioles' orange and black uniforms. You probably won't find many other collectors who give the stamp of approval to 1988 Donruss Baseball's Best, for instance. Topps has had orange-bordered refractor parallels in its Chrome products since 2008, and yet I don't have a single orange refractor of an O's player. But sometimes all you have to do is ask nicely, so I went a-beggin' when I saw that Night Owl had pulled pumpkin-hued Nick Markakis and Mark Reynolds shinies from 2011 Topps Chrome. Out of the kindness of his heart, Greg sent both cards, along with some other chromy Birds of recent vintage.

On Friday afternoon, I rode up to the family cottage with my father to close up for the year. On my way out the door, I saw Greg's bubble envelope waiting for me in the mailbox. So I grabbed it and checked out the goods while sitting shotgun en route to northeastern PA. Do you want to guess where those cards are now?

Yep, they're safely stored back in that envelope...220 miles away, sitting on a shelf in the living room of the cottage. I will not see these cards again until May 2012. That's what happens when you try to pack up in the morning.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Eddie Murray, 1988 Topps Big #215

28 years ago today, I was 14 and a half months old. Oh, and the Orioles won the third World Series in team history with a 5-0 shutout over the Phillies. Scott McGregor went the distance, blanking the host Phils  on five hits and two walks while striking out six. It was a sweet bit of redemption for the veteran lefty, who snapped a personal three-game postseason losing streak that dated back to the Game 7 heartbreaker in the 1979 Series. Likewise, the O's only got five hits, but theirs all came early against opposing starter Charles Hudson, who didn't make it through the fifth inning. They made those hits count, as Eddie Murray hit a pair of home runs and Series MVP Rick Dempsey homered and doubled. Those two players were the only ones in the Baltimore lineup to hit safely, with Murray's single standing as the only Oriole hit that did not go for extra bases.

Obviously I have no conscious memory of the last time my hometown team stood on top of the baseball world. I've nearly stopped believing that it's possible for them to get back there. Even if the O's were capable of reversing their fortunes and returning to the postseason, I've seen enough strange things happen in the playoffs as a neutral observer to know that October is a total crapshoot. So I'm left with blind hope and wishing...but aren't we all?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cal Ripken, Jr., 1994 Donruss Special Edition #40

I enjoyed that Albert Belle card so much on Thursday that I am going back to the holographic well. Given what was to come in the mid-to-late 1990s, this parallel insert from Donruss is downright subdued. More importantly, we get a shot of Cal Ripken wearing the throwback threads of the 1954 Orioles, complete with orange-striped stirrups. Me gusta.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Vintage Fridays: Dennis Blair, 1978 Topps #466

If you don't remember Dennis Blair, you can't be blamed. He only pitched for parts of four seasons in the major leagues with a 19-25 record and a ho-hum 3.69 ERA, and walked a few more batters than he whiffed. Then there's the inconvenient little fact that...he never pitched for the Orioles.

Your suspicions were probably stoked by the slapdash airbrush job on this card: the inauthentic thick black-and-orange stripes on the neckline, the squashed-looking Oriole bird, and the odd contrast between Blair's left ear and the skyline behind him. He looks more like a cardboard cutout than an in-the-flesh player. So what gives?

Dennis burst upon the scene as a lanky (6'5", 182 lbs.) 20-year-old rookie with the Expos in 1974. He started 22 games and went 11-7 with a 3.27 ERA that was lowest among Montreal starters. He also yielded only 7 hits per 9 innings, but that was offset by a high average of 4.4 walks per 9 innings. When the righthander's control slipped even further in his sophomore season (5.8 BB/9 IP, 0.77 K/BB), his record tumbled to 8-15 with a 3.80 ERA. The Expos sent him to AAA Denver in 1976, but his accuracy didn't improve there, and he walked 11 in 15.1 frames during a September callup to the bigs. Thus he found himself back in the minors in 1977, still scuffling and probably hoping for a fresh start.

On September 6, 1977, the Expos traded Blair to the Orioles as the ever-popular player to be named later from a mid-July deal that had sent reliever Fred Holdsworth north of the border. He remained in the O's organization for parts of three seasons, never pitching well enough to earn a return ticket to the majors. In June of 1979, the Birds finally parted ways with Dennis, swapping him to the Padres for fellow minor league pitcher Randy Fierbaugh. Blair actually appeared in 5 games for San Diego in the summer of 1980, 4 years after his last promotion. But he was knocked around in 3 of those games, and played out the string at AAA Hawaii before hanging up his spikes at age 26.

I can think of worse places to end your career.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Albert Belle, 1999 Topps All-Matrix #AM5

Rules of this blog:

1. When Max pops up out of the blue and sends me a padded envelope with a bunch of Orioles cards, a 1972 Topps card of Baltimore Bullets guard Eddie Miles, a 1965 Topps Tug McGraw rookie card (now I'm 14 cards away from the complete set!), and a 1996 reprint of Mickey Mantle's 1965 Topps card (one of the few that I still need for aforementioned set...this will do nicely as a space-filler in the binder), well, I've just got to mark the occasion with a post.

2. When one of the Orioles cards that Max sends is a shiny holographic Albert Belle number, I don't think twice about which card I'll be featuring.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sid Fernandez, 1994 Topps Traded #28T

I'm going off the beaten path from the usual caliber of O's Card birthday wishes today. Yes, it's my pleasure to wish a happy 49th to #50, Sid Fernandez. I've made El Sid the butt of my jokes more than once, due to his doughy physique and his abominable two seasons in Baltimore. It's easy to forget that the guy was a pretty danged good pitcher for the Mets in the decade prior to his arrival here. He was a two-time All-Star with a 3.15 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 8.2 strikeouts per 9 innings when the Orioles inked him to a three-year deal. Though you can question the wisdom of Peter Angelos and Co. giving a guaranteed three-year deal to a 31-year-old lefty with weight issues, you certainly can't fault Fernandez for taking the money. Sure, he could've rewarded his new employers by getting in better shape, but let's not get crazy. Anyway, time really does heal all wounds...or most, anyway. (This isn't over, Jeffrey Maier!) I just can't stay mad at someone whose cards give me so much entertainment, and I've always thought that there weren't enough native Hawaiians in the big leagues. Plus, I read a book about the 1986 Mets that revealed that Sid thought pro wrestling was 100% legit. You've gotta love that.

Other Orioles born today: Nolan Reimold (28), Leslie Brea (38), and Ray Murray (b. 1917, d. 2003).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sammy Stewart, 1985 Topps #469

I'll begin this entry with a heartfelt apology to anyone who might have assumed that this would be a full Joe Orsulak week. Never assume, folks.

Early this morning, Dan Connolly printed a letter from former Orioles pitcher Sammy Stewart on the Baltimore Sun's Orioles Insider blog. Stewart is currently incarcerated at the Buncombe Correctional Center in Asheville, NC due to a felony drug charge levied in 2006. It sounds like he's truly contrite and hopes for a fresh start when he's released from prison, which could be as soon as January 2013. In the letter, he mourns the untimely death of his teammate and friend Mike Flanagan, and also pays tribute to the other O's of his era who have left us. It is definitely worth a read, and if you would like to offer some words of encouragement to Sammy, he also provided his address. I'll reprint it here for convenience's sake:

Samuel Stewart, 0390745
PO Box 18089
Asheville, NC 28814

Let me know if any of you write to him. I'm planning on doing so, and I'd be glad to know if he responds to you. We all deserve second chances, and I'm optimistic that Sammy will make the most of his when the time comes.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Joe Orsulak, 1993 Topps #28

Posting that Joe O card last night reminded me that some of my favorite Orioles cards feature Orsulak as the subject. There's just something about him that is so expressive and it comes through in these pictures. A lot of times, he's grimacing or concentrating heavily - even his smile has a hint of a groan in it. Do yourself a favor and click on the "Joe Orsulak" tag at the bottom of this entry. You'll see that I've posted some doozies.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Joe Orsulak, 1988 Fleer Update #U-2

Fred Lynn (left) and Joe Orsulak (right) want to know what the hell you're staring at.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Jerry Hairston, Jr., 2002 Upper Deck Vintage #60

Tell me if you saw this coming: Jerry Hairston could be on his second World Series-winning team in three years. A deadline deal in July 2009 saw the Yankees acquire Jerry from Cincinnati to bolster their bench, and he ultimately appeared in a half-dozen postseason games. He played the final five innings of New York's Game Six Series clinching win against the Phillies. After spending 2010 with a Padres club that missed out on the playoffs, he began the 2011 season with the non-contending Nationals and received unexpected playing time at third base due to a Ryan Zimmerman injury. Once again a late-July trade sent him to a top team, as the Nats swapped him to the Brewers, who were getting zilch-and-a-half out of incumbent third baseman Casey McGehee. Jerry played 45 games for Milwaukee in the last two months of the year, finishing with perfectly acceptable overall numbers of .270/.344/.383. Now he's started all five games in the Brewers' tense NLDS win over the underdog Diamondbacks, collecting six hits (including a pair of doubles) and two walks for a line of .375/.400/.500 with three RBI. In yesterday's 10-inning, 3-2 Milwaukee win he was robbed of several runs batted in by some sparkling Arizona defense. Now Hairston and the Brew Crew will face their division rivals the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. If the last few days of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs are any indication, it should be a lot of fun to watch.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Vintage Fridays: Harry Brecheen, 1955 Topps #113

This is a card that I've had in my sights for quite some time, and now it's all mine. It's one of the oldest cards that I purchased at last month's big show, and it's just unquestionably cool and quaint for a coach to have his own card. When that coach is Harry "the Cat" Brecheen, it's all the better.

Brecheen was a native Oklahoman who did not reach the big leagues for good until joining the Cardinals at age 28 in 1943. He never posted an earned run average above 3.80, and his ERA+ was 112 or better every year. The Cat, who earned his nickname for the nimble manner in which he fielded bunts, was a mainstay on the St. Louis pitching staff for a decade, averaging 16 wins per year in a six-year span from 1944-1949. He was a two-time All-Star, including his career year in 1948: 20-7 with a league-best 2.24 ERA, 7 shutouts, 149 strikeouts, 1.04 WHIP, and 0.2 home runs allowed per 9 innings. He had a postseason record of 4-1 with an 0.83 ERA in 7 games spanning 3 World Series, with only 3 runs allowed in 32.2 innings overall. His superlative effort in the 1946 Fall Classic spurred a 7-game Cardinals triumph over the Red Sox: 3-0 with a single run allowed in 20 innings of work, including a 2-inning relief stint in the clincher just two days after a complete-game win in Game 6. His curtain call as a pitcher came in 1953, when he suited up for the crosstown Browns and suffered a 5-13 record despite a 3.07 ERA. The 38-year-old retired with a 133-92 mark in parts of 12 seasons and a 2.92 ERA.

With the Browns pulling up stakes and heading east to Baltimore in 1954, Brecheen came along to serve as the pitching coach of the now-Orioles. He must have taken to it pretty well, because he stayed in that role for 14 seasons, coaching under 5 different O's managers (Jimmy Dykes, Paul Richards, Lum Harris, Billy Hitchcock, and Hank Bauer). He cultivated the talent of young pitchers such as Billy O'Dell, Milt Pappas, Jerry Walker, Chuck Estrada, Steve Barber, and Dave McNally. He was the first coach that Jim Palmer had in the big leagues, and he stuck around just long enough to celebrate the club's first World Series title in 1966. For good measure, he even spent a couple seasons coaching Harvey Haddix at the end of the lefty's career. (Haddix was dubbed "Kitten" when he debuted with the Cardinals in 1952, a jab at his resemblance to elder teammate Brecheen.)

So there you have it, a coach's card that holds its own with the heavyweights of the 1955 Topps set.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sidney Ponson, 2005 Fleer Ultra #115

Fun fact: That smudge on Sidney Ponson's cap is a gravy stain.

Fun fact #2: Sir Sidney sucked even harder as a Yankee (6.63 ERA, 1.7 WHIP in 21 games) than he did as an Oriole (4.86 ERA, 1.45 WHIP in 223 games). Of course, the Yankees weren't dumb enough to keep him around for eight years.

3-1 Detroit at the seventh inning stretch. Let's go Tigers!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mark Thurmond, 1990 Score #350

I fully realize that this photo was probably snapped while Mark Thurmond was taking his warmup tosses between innings. But it's funny to imagine that his center fielder (probably Mike Devereaux) has lost his focus in mid-game and is staring at a couple of pigeons scrambling for food behind the fence at Memorial Stadium. Normally, the home plate umpire would call time out when something odd happens on the field, but last night Devo yelled some very hurtful things at the ump after a questionable call, and the umpire has let his pettiness get the best of him. Let's just see what happens. Thurmond delivers his pitch to the batter - let's just say it's Pat Tabler - and it gets too much of the plate, allowing Tabler to hit it on a line to center field. The crack of the bat snaps Devereaux out of his momentary trance, but he can't track the path of the ball in time. It glances off of his head, but he avoids serious injury. He does not avoid the nickname "Birdbrain", which follows him around for the rest of the season.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pat Kelly, 1981 Donruss #600

We have made some incredible technological and cultural advances as a society over the past three decades, but I think everyone can agree that few breakthroughs have been more beneficial than the newer styles of cold-weather sportswear. The collared-jacket-under-jersey thing just wasn't a flattering look for anyone.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Bob Milacki, 1989 Topps #324

If you haven't already bookmarked the Baltimore Sun's Toy Department blog, do it already. It's worthwhile just for Mike Klingaman's "Catching Up" series, which I've mentioned here before. Last week he spoke with Bob Milacki, who spent parts of five seasons pitching for the Orioles. You can read the whole thing here, but I'll give you the gist too. Milacki is now the pitching coach for the Phillies' AA Reading club, which is managed by fellow ex-Oriole Mark Parent. He seems to have a self-deprecating sense of humor, mentioning that he has a bottle of champagne in his trophy case at home from the combined no-hitter that he pitched. It's signed by all four pitchers: Milacki, Mark Williamson, Gregg Olson, and the late Mike Flanagan. The righthander mentions that there aren't many other notable keepsakes in that trophy case. He also recalls his retirement in the mid-1990s, saying that "my fastball had caught up to my changeup". It's a pretty good line.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Val Majewski, 2005 Topps Cracker Jack #177

Congratulations are in order for Val Majewski, manager Andy Etchebarren, catcher Osvaldo Martinez, and the rest of the 2011 Atlantic League Champion York Revolution! The Revs outlasted the Lancaster Barnstormers in the divisional round and rallied from a Game One loss to take three in a row from the Long Island Ducks in wrapping up the championship. It's the second straight league title for York. Majewski played 71 games for the Revolution this year, hitting .317 with a .399 on-base percentage, 11 home runs, and 48 RBI. Val drove in runs in each of the team's three championship round wins, including a two-run home run in their Game Two victory. At age 30, it's not likely that he will make it back to the major leagues, but it's good to see him still pursuing the dream.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Koji Uehara, 2010 Topps Chrome #140

Well, the baseball postseason is underway. Who are you rooting for? As usual, I'm in Anyone But the Yankees mode. I'd be okay with the Rays, Rangers, or Brewers because none of those teams has won the World Series. Besides, Koji (*cough and Mike Gonzalez cough*) would look good with a huge gaudy ring with a big 'T' on it. The Tigers haven't won it all since 1984, so their fans have been waiting almost as long we have. Normally, my underdog favoritism would turn me against the Phillies, but I have a lot of friends who are Philly fans and I don't begrudge them their success. The Diamondbacks have stupid uniforms, a swimming pool in the bleachers, and Mark Grace on their telecasts, but they're a good worst-to-first story and if you're so inclined you can cheer for David Hernandez in important late-inning relief appearances. And their coaching staff (Kirk Gibson, Don Baylor, Alan Trammell, Charles Nagy, Eric Young, and Matt Williams) is incredibly badass. My least favorite team in the National League is the Cardinals, because Tony LaRussa is one of the most obnoxious people alive. Mostly I'm just going to enjoy watching as many games as I can, because we've got less than 40 games left to hold us over until 2012.