Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Kevin Millwood, 2010 Topps Update Series #US255

Right. So this card was supposed to be published yesterday, on the occasion of Kevin Millwood's 38th birthday. But my time management skills could use improvement in general, and that ain't getting any better around the holidays. Now I'm saying hello and goodbye and Merry Christmas, if you choose to celebrate it. I'm on my way to Charlotte in about seven hours, and I don't have any cards scanned for the rest of the week while I'm away. (See previous statement about time management skills and a personal lack thereof.) I will see you on Sunday or Monday, but until then you get a vacation from me as I get a vacation from everything else in my own life. Be good!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mike Flanagan, 1987 Fleer #470

I wish that I didn't have a reason to write today's post. For the second time in as many years, a former Orioles player has taken his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Last year, it was Mike Flanagan committing suicide in August. Now, we've heard that Ryan Freel killed himself at his home in Florida yesterday. The former outfielder, who batted .133 with a .350 on-base percentage in a brief 9-game stint in Baltimore in 2009, was 36 years old. He leaves behind a wife and three young daughters, and does so right in the midst of the holiday season. Just awful news all around. I don't know what else to say.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Benny Ayala, 1981 Donruss #236

If Donruss had only tried a little harder, I'm sure that they could have found a blurrier photo of Benny Ayala. The focus here is softer than on those Barbara Walters interview specials. The only part of Benny's face that comes through clearly is his thick black mustache. It's a fine mustache indeed, but I'd like to think that there was more to the veteran outfielder than a cookie-duster. If it were up to Donruss, we might never know.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Vintage Fridays: Hank Bauer, 1966 Topps #229

I feel as exuberant as craggy ol' Hank Bauer looks in this uncharacteristic photo. As of 3:30 this afternoon, I am officially on Christmas vacation. I won't have to go back to the office until January 2. That's 11, count 'em, 11 days to do as I please. This is the first time I've been able to take off for the entire week of Christmas since at least 2008. I'll be filling my time with holiday parties with friends, a Christmas Eve and Day with my family, and then a few days in Charlotte with my girlfriend and her loved ones. Naturally, I'll still be checking in with you fine folks each day. Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Luis Matos, 2005 Donruss #109

I hope that I never run out of cards with distinctive photos like this. I can't tell you why Donruss selected a picture of Luis Matos trudging back to the dugout after a strikeout, but I'm glad that they gave me a puzzle to solve. The opposing catcher is wearing Detroit Tigers duds and has a name ending in "Z". Baseball-Reference tells me that Matos played three games for the O's in Detroit in 2004: a May 28-30 weekend series. He didn't strike out on Friday, and Brandon Inge was behind the plate on Saturday, with Ivan Rodriguez serving as designated hitter. Sunday afternoon "Pudge" was catching for the Tigers, and Matos went 2-for-5 with a pair of singles, a run scored, and a strikeout looking. Bingo.

So this picture was taken on May 30, 2004. Mike Maroth took the mound for the Tigers, with Erik Bedard toeing the rubber for the Birds. After a scoreless first inning, Luis batted with one out in the second and was called out on a 2-2 pitch, which immediately preceded the moment captured above. Detroit eventually took a 2-0 lead on a pair of RBI singles by Rodriguez, but the O's broke through in the top of the sixth. Brian Roberts and Jerry Hairston had back-to-back hits, and B-Rob scored on an errant pickoff throw by Maroth. The score held at 2-1 until the top of the ninth, when Motown closer Ugueth Urbina ran into some trouble. The first four Baltimore batters reached safely, with Javy Lopez, Matos, and B. J. Surhoff all singling and Rafael Palmeiro drawing a walk. With the game tied and the bases loaded, Robert Machado struck out. Roberts then walked on five pitches to give the Orioles their first lead of the day, and Hairston followed with a two-run single. Future Oriole Jamie Walker replaced Urbina and got Melvin Mora to strike out, then intentionally walked Miguel Tejada to reload the bases. Manager Alan Trammell's strategy backfired, as Larry Bigbie (who had pinch-run for Lopez) drove in a pair with a single. Matos grounded out to end the inning at last, but that was of little consequence. In all, the O's scored six runs on five singles and three walks.

Jorge Julio came in to wrap up the win for the visitors, but walked the first two batters with a five-run cushion. (That sounds about right.) He got a big break when Rodriguez bounced into a double play, then allowed an RBI single to Rondell White. It was too little, too late for the Tigers, as Craig Monroe flew out to Matos to bring about the 7-3 final. So even though the Donruss photographer caught Luis in a moment of frustration, things worked out for the best...at least for one day.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chito Martinez, 1992 Donruss #558

Admit it, you haven't thought about Chito Martinez in a while. You didn't even know that today was his 47th birthday. It's okay, that's why you're here. So here are some other fun facts about every Oriole fan's third-favorite Martinez:

1. His full name is Reyenaldo Ignacio Martinez.

2. He is the only player in MLB history born in Belize, but played high school baseball in Metairie, Louisiana.

3. Chito was drafted by the Royals in 1984, and signed with the O's as a minor league free agent prior to the 1991 season.

4. In 1991, he made his big league debut after hitting .322/.393/.654 with 20 homers and 50 RBI in only 60 games at AAA Rochester.

5. As a 25-year-old rookie, Martinez more than held his own, batting .269 and slugging .564 for the Birds in 67 games.

6. The first of his 13 home runs in his first major league season was a pinch-hit solo shot against Oakland's Gene Nelson on July 11, 1991. With the Orioles trailing 8-0 in the eighth, he batted in place of Billy Ripken.

7. Chito fell out of favor with the O's after an 0-for-15 start to the 1993 season. He spent the rest of that year in the minors, and never returned to the big leagues.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Derrek Lee, 2011 Topps Chrome #148

If you should find yourself feeling antsy over the Orioles' quiet offseason to date, just remember: it's better to stand pat than to make moves just for the sake of cosmetic improvement. Otherwise, you might end up paying Derrek Lee $7.25 million to wheeze out a .246/.302/.404 batting line with 41 RBI for a 93-loss team, only to flip him at the trade deadline for a non-prospect. If you're not convinced, look upon the free agents that CSN Baltimore's Rich Dubroff suggests as fits for the Birds and despair.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Geronimo Gil, 2002 Donruss Originals #149

You know what they say: when life hands you lemons, make Geronimo Gil.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Luke Scott, 2012 Topps Gold #107

Well here's a rare sight: Luke Scott robbing a home run in left field at Camden Yards. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to make a play like this: racing back to the wall, timing your jump just right, snatching the ball securely in your glove...and that's without accounting for the yokels in the front row who are reaching their filthy meathooks out to try to grab it away from you.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Larry Bigbie, 2000 Topps HD #92

It's a good thing that this card is presented in High-Definition (spoiler alert: it's actually just super-glossy), because that affords us the chance to see every freckle on Larry Bigbie's adorable baby face. This photo was undoubtedly taken shortly after the Orioles drafted the 21-year-old outfielder with the 21st overall pick in the 1999 amateur draft, but I defy you to tell me that Larry looks a day over 18. I'm willing to bet that he got carded any time he went to the bar in numerous minor league towns.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Vintage Fridays: Harvey Haddix, 1965 Topps #67

On this date in 1963, the Orioles acquired three-time All-Star Harvey Haddix from the Pirates in exchange for minor-league shortstop Dick Yencha and cash. The 38-year-old southpaw, who'd won 20 games with the Cardinals a decade earlier, was used strictly as a reliever by Baltimore manager Hank Bauer. Haddix excelled in the role, finishing second on the 1964 O's with 49 pitching appearances and clocking in with a 2.31 ERA. He went 5-5 and saved 10 games in support of Stu Miller, who paced the club with 23 saves. "The Kitten", so nicknamed for his resemblance to Harry "the Cat" Brecheen, struck out 90 batters in 89.2 innings and allowed only 23 walks and 4 home runs. He was less effective in 1965, which proved to be his last season in the big leagues; the lefty equaled his previous season's total of 23 walks in just 33.2 innings of work. He still fashioned a 3.48 ERA, but that was only by the grace of 9 unearned runs on his ledger. But Harvey's 1965 struggles don't change the fact that he contributed in a meaningful way to the 97-win Orioles of 1964.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mike Devereaux, 1993 Studio #55

Am I the only collector who goes wild for 1993 Studio? I've loved this set since I started buying packs off the shelf of my local hobby shop for 99 cents a pack in the fall of that year. The holographic facsimile signatures and the use of team jerseys, logo patches, and cap insignias as backgrounds were design touches that appealed to me at age 11 and still hold up in my mind. Photographically, it was a departure from the disastrously goofy posed yearbook shots of the previous two Studio sets. Most of the player photos on the card fronts in 1993 Studio appeared to be candid shots, offering a better glimpse into the subject's personality than any stiff "smile for the camera" grin or "show us your game face" glower. The more formal portraits were consigned to the card back, but zoomed in and bleeding in from either the left or right border, giving you a (literally) closer look at your heroes than ever before. These shots are fine as a contrast to the candid pictures on the front, and fit well with the sometimes-enlightening, often-confounding "Up Close" factoids. Where else will you learn that Mike Devereaux dislikes inconsiderate drivers?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Roberto Alomar, 1997 Fleer #696

Happy 12/12/12 to you all! I'm sure most of us aren't celebrating the last "repeating number date" of our lifetime in any particular way, especially with all of those more prominent December holidays hogging all of the attention. But one Hall of Fame #12 is making it a very special day indeed. Roberto Alomar got married to his second wife Kim today in Toronto, and hopefully the second time will be a charm for him. I'm sure Canada is lovely in December. Personally, I'd be willing to wait a few months for a chance at warmer weather...of course it was a sunny and pleasant 45 today in Baltimore, so what do I know?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Todd Frohwirth, 1993 Topps #415

Why this card, and why today?

  • Because "Todd Frohwirth" is fun to say.
  • Because nothing says "Tuesday night in December" like Todd Frohwirth and 1993 Topps.
  • Because submarine-style pitchers are always cool, especially when that odd underarm delivery is coming right for you.
  • Because I'm thinking about starting a 1993 Topps blog, and I want people to tell me that I'm crazy for even considering it.
  • Because 1993 Topps reminds me of a time when I actually did walk down to the drug store to buy 79-cent packs of cards, and then traded with my friends. (Suddenly I want to have a warm glass of milk and an early bedtime.)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ryan Minor, 1999 Topps #293

There's something incredibly eerie and lonely about this photo. Ryan Minor is just readying himself for a line drive down the first base line, but because of the zoom and the angle, it looks like he's the only man left standing on the diamond. There's nothing but arid infield dirt, dull outfield grass, and a man's own shadow. He remains vigilant against an opponent that may never come.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cal Ripken, Jr., 1991 Post #19

Imagine for a moment that you were some tragically sheltered child in the early 1990s. Your only exposure to baseball came through oddball cards that came with your breakfast cereal. Because the fine folks at Post didn't want to pony up for an MLB license (isn't the players' association enough for you?), you have no idea that uniforms actually feature logos and wordmarks on the caps and jerseys. The Orioles have the solid black hat and the white jersey with orange piping on the sleeves, the Yankees have the solid navy blue hat and the white uniform with navy pinstripes, and so forth. It all looks kind of dull, so you assume that you're not missing much. Fortunately, you and I knew better than that.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Mike Mussina, 1992 Baseball Cards Magazine #77

Today is Mike Mussina's 44th birthday, and I've spent much of it trying to sort mountains of early 1990s junx wax, something I've been putting off for months. On the plus side, it allowed me to come across this oddball card of Moose. Back in the day, Baseball Cards Magazine used to give away cards in every issue featuring contemporary players and classic Topps set designs. Here, they've produced a pretty faithful tribute to the 1970 set, for better or worse. I'm not nuts about the original design, but for some reason this card works for me. Maybe it's a calming influence when set against the excesses of the hobby in the 1990s. Hopefully someone got Mike a decent razor for his birthday.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Vintage Fridays: Baltimore Orioles, 1974 Topps Team Checklist

For the first Friday of December, I thought this team checklist with its Christmasy colors would be an appropriate choice. As you can see, it features facsimiles of several Orioles' signatures: Andy Etchebarren, Dave McNally, Boog Powell, Jim Palmer, Don Baylor, Paul Blair, Brooks Robinson, Mark Belanger, Earl Williams, Mike Cuellar (I think), Bobby Grich, and Tommy Davis. The card back lists all 28 O's cards included in the 1974 Topps base set, along with uniform number and position where applicable. As an added bonus, my copy has most of the check boxes filled in with pencil. I also have checklists for the Astros, Royals, Twins, and Mets. Isn't that special?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Logo Card, 1996 Fleer Orioles #19

Well, the stupid jerkface Red Sox already blew my dream scenario to bits by signing Koji Uehara to a one-year deal today. Booooooo. Oh well. I might as well tell you who else is on my Christmas list.

Billy Butler: Yes, I've forgiven Kansas City's burly slugger for ruining Brad Bergesen's career with that heat-seeking line drive back in 2009. It's hard to resent anyone who's stuck playing for the Royals, especially when his nickname is "Country Breakfast". K.C. is desperately shopping for an established starting pitcher, and rumor has it that the Birds are interested in both Butler and young first baseman Eric Hosmer. The O's probably wouldn't part with veterans Jason Hammel and/or Wei-Yin Chen, and the only other starters they've got with even a season's worth of solid performance are Chris Tillman and Zach Britton. There's not really a good trade match here, but at least there's some indication that the Orioles have good taste in middle-of-the-lineup hitters. It's my fantasy, and it features Country Breakfast DH'ing and batting cleanup for the hometown team and maybe replicating the .313/.373/.510 batting line he produced in 2012, along with those career-high 29 home runs. I'm fairly sure that he'd be worth the defensive downgrade that would come from moving Chris Davis back to first base.

Brandon McCarthy: The O's haven't been linked to the free agent starting pitcher, who put up a 3.29 ERA (121 ERA+) over the past two seasons in Oakland. But Dan Duquette claims that he's looking for another veteran starter. McCarthy seems like a talented, entertaining guy (if you're on Twitter and don't follow him, you're missing out), and his recovery from brain surgery after taking a line drive to the head late last year was inspirational.

R. A. Dickey: This is the super long shot. The reigning N. L. Cy Young winner is only signed through 2013 for a bargain price of $5 million, and the Mets haven't made much progress in extension talks. They've been letting other teams know that the 38-year-old "power knuckleballer" can be had for two top prospects, preferably a catcher and an outfielder. That's not going to hack it for the Orioles, who have a bare cupboard behind the plate and no outfielders better than fourth-OF types Xavier Avery and LJ Hoes. Still, Baltimore is thought to have at least checked in with the Mets about Dickey, which is all of the license I need to imagine the Tolkien-loving, mountain-climbing, book-writing All-Star taking the ball from Buck Showalter every fifth day. 20-6, 2.73 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 230 strikeouts? And despite his age, Robert Allen's got time on his side. His mentors (Phil Niekro, Tim Wakefield, et. al.) pitched effectively well into their forties. I'd be willing to see if New York would take Jonathan Schoop and any two pitchers not named Dylan Bundy for Dickey. Of course, word has it that they're already asking for much more than that, so I'm starting to sound like a talk radio caller, I fear.

Hey, I've got to think warm thoughts. It's getting colder outside.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Koji Uehara, 2011 Bowman #138

The marvelous thing about baseball's offseason is that fans can spend time daydreaming about player moves that might happen, or could happen...or even those that probably won't happen. So far, the Orioles have taken an even more restrained approach to the Hot Stove League than they did last year, adding and subtracting pieces on the margins of the roster. Since Alexi Casilla and Danny Valencia aren't going to get anyone's blood pumping, I started fantasizing about the more prominent names that the O's have been linked to in some recent trade and free agency rumors. I'll plug away at this for the next few days, but let's start with a familiar face...

Koji Uehara: I figure he's the one most likely to actually land in Baltimore. Koji loved playing here back when the team was still lousy, and during his season-plus in Texas he was actually rumored to be a trade target for the Birds once or twice. Now that he's a free agent, the Japanese control specialist has inevitably been linked to the Orioles once again. It might seem like the bullpen is the one facet of the team that doesn't need improvement, but repeat after me: You. Can. Never. Have. Enough. Pitching. What if the Pedro Strop of September rears his ugly head again? What if Luis Ayala has a crummy season, like he did in 2008 and 2009? What happens if (when) somebody gets injured? Koji turns 38 in April, but his 1.75 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, and 14.33 K/BB ratio (!) in 2012 suggest that he's got plenty left in the tank, especially for one inning per game. After making $4 million last year, he's a bit pricier than you'd like for a setup man, but come on...it's Koji!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Rafael Palmeiro, 1995 Pinnacle Zenith #82

I'm guessing that somebody at Pinnacle really loved The Wizard of Oz. Follow, follow, follow, follow...

Monday, December 3, 2012

Chris Hoiles, 1994 Bowman #131

With Christmas just three weeks away, it's easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle. Buying gifts, cleaning and decorating the house, attending parties, making travel plans...you might feel like the holiday season ambushed you. But I think we should all take a moment to stop, breathe deeply, and pay attention to the smaller details in life. For instance, take this Chris Hoiles card. The two things that jump out at me are as follows:

1) Chris has his last name printed in black marker on the strap of his batting glove. You see this a lot on cards - player names, nicknames, or initials scrawled on a piece of equipment. It makes sense; with 25 guys in the clubhouse, and six months of in-season travel, you don't want to get caps and gloves mixed up. There's still something endearing about the haphazard and informal personalization, though.

2) Not only does Hoiles have the Orioles' 1993 All-Star Game host patch on the left sleeve of his jersey, but All-Star is the brand of his chest protector. That's a nice bit of synchronicity.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Vladimir Guerrero, 2011 Topps Lineage #41

This is obviously a posed picture. For accuracy's sake, I wish Vlad Guerrero had posed as if he were swinging at an ankles-high pitch.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Mark Reynolds, 2012 Topps Archives #199

There's not much room for sentimentality in baseball. In this vein of thinking, yesterday the Orioles chose not to tender Mark Reynolds a contract. Though "the Sheriff" hit 60 home runs over the past two seasons and proved to be a surprisingly adept defender after switching to first base last year, he probably wasn't worth the $11 million that he would have made if the O's had picked up his option for next year. He's now a free agent, and the reported lack of contract talk from GM Dan Duquette makes it likely that he'll sign with another team for 2013. It's a shame, but I'll play the optimist and suggest that the Birds can probably find someone better going forward. So long, Mark, and thanks for all the dingers.