Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jay Gibbons, 2003 Fleer Tradition #252

I haven't posted a Jay Gibbons card since last October. Since I don't know what this blog would be without Jay Gibbons, here's the former outfielder wearing sunglasses on top of his cap and an especially doofy expression on his face. This has been Jay Gibbons card number 12 on Orioles Card O' the Day. In conclusion, Jay Gibbons.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Roger Marquis, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #276

Who is Roger Marquis? He's the first of the true "Cup of Coffee" Orioles, those hearty men whose major league experience lasted all of one game appearance. "Noonie" was a Holyoke, MA native who signed with the O's out of high school at about the same time that the club inked young Brooks Robinson to a deal. With Paul Richards going full-tilt on a rebuild, Marquis became one of 54 players to get a look during the 1955 season. The 18-year-old entered the September 25 game against the Senators in the bottom of the eighth inning, replacing Angelo Dagres (himself only 20) in right field. Washington went 1-2-3 and no ball left the infield, so Roger's glove went untested. In the top of the ninth, he led off against reliever Bob Chakales and grounded out to shortstop. He was replaced in the field by Cal Abrams for the bottom of the ninth, and his place in the baseball encyclopedia was etched in stone. After batting .225 and slugging .308 in the glamorous Class D locales of Thomson, GA and Paris, TX (he also took the mound for six games with Thomson), Marquis retired from baseball at age 20. Don't feel too badly for Noonie, though. He returned home to Holyoke and eventually started an oil business that he was able to sell in the 1980s. He passed away at age 67 in 2004, survived by his wife Alice, two sons, and four grandchildren.

If you're curious about the rest of the Orioles' half-dozen one-game wonders, here's an up-to-date list. If I keep at this silly blog long enough, I will probably feature each and every one of them:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Eddie Murray, 2005 Upper Deck All-Star Classics #83

This is a great card, largely because of one of the best late-career photos of Eddie Murray that I've seen. In his road grays, #33 literally stands in the twilight and eases into that familiar crouch one more time. His face is hooded in shadow, but you can still see the laser-focused gaze of his eye toward the pitcher. You almost pity the unseen opponent of Eddie Murray.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Gregg Olson, 1991 Studio #8

The Orioles really missed the boat in the early 1990s when it came to merchandising. Take a look at the brooding, steely masculinity of this Gregg Olson portrait and tell me that you wouldn't have bought a team-branded cologne endorsed by the Otter. "Eau de O", anyone?

Well, it would've been a damn sight better than that Yankee fragrance.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

B. J. Surhoff, 1997 Collector's Choice #43

I've never really given it all that much thought, but I suppose it's not common for a baseball card action photo to depict its subject making eye contact with the camera. Now that I've seen B. J. Surhoff's icy stare boring holes straight through me, I think I know why. I didn't mean anything by it, B. J.! Don't hurt me!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Eric Davis, 1997 Pinnacle New #143

It was only once he'd attempted to use the so-called "invisible bat" in a game situation that Eric Davis realized the awful truth: he'd been had. $300, down the drain. He suspected that he'd never see the traveling salesman again.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Vintage Fridays: Don Stanhouse, 1979 Topps #119

If it seems like I mention High Heat Stats frequently on this blog, that's only because it's a fascinating source of baseball analysis and trivia. The latest factoid that caught my eye came from this post by Raphy (presumably not the former O's first baseman). There have been 19 players in major league history whose only career home run was a grand slam. Only one of those players performed the feat as an Oriole: utility infielder Frank Baker, who put the cherry on top of a Memorial Stadium record-setting 18-4 rout of the Indians on September 28, 1973 with his bases-loaded clout off of future Birds' pitching coach Dick Bosman. Baker actually had a team-high 6 RBI off of the team's bench, including the only Baltimore home run that day. He was only in the game because of a first-inning injury to starting second baseman Bobby Grich. If you check out the box score, you'll also see a great stat line from Andy Etchebarren: 4-for-4 with a walk, 3 runs scored, 3 RBI, and a caught stealing! Even better, it seems that Cleveland pitcher Milt Wilcox had Etch picked off, but the unibrowed catcher reached second base safely when Tribe first baseman Chris Chambliss committed an error.

There have also been a trio of one-time Orioles pitchers who drove in four on their lone career homer: Kent Mercker (as a Cardinal), Erv Palica (as a Dodger), and...Don Stanhouse (as an Expo). Yep. Good ol' Fullpack victimized veteran Cubs starter Bill Bonham on July 6, 1977, and naturally he did it at Wrigley Field. I guess the wind was blowing out. Of note: Chicago won anyway, 8-6. One of the runners who scored on Stanhouse's four-bagger was rookie Andre Dawson, playing in his 88th career game. There's always something new and surprising to be found in an old box score, don't you know.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Brady Anderson, 1998 Stadium Club #188

Brady Anderson just keeps climbing the ladder in the Orioles organization. It was only 13 months ago that the former outfielder was named (deep breath) Special Assistant to the Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations. This past Tuesday, he was promoted to Vice President of Baseball Operations. In addition to having a much more concise job title, Brady will have a "new and expanded role" per front office honcho Dan Duquette. No specifics yet, but the expectation is that he will still be dealing primarily in player relations and development as well as physical training. When I was watching Brady Anderson do his thing in the O's outfield back in the 1990s, I don't think I ever imagined that he would have a significant role in the team's front office some day. At any rate, better him than Mike Pagliarulo.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Brian Roberts, 2006 Topps Heritage #190

Hooray, baseball is back!

Well, in a manner of speaking. The Orioles had their first set of intrasquad exhibitions today, or as I phrased it to my girlfriend, they decided to play with themselves. Ahem. Anyway, despite the fact that none of this counts, not even for Grapefruit League standings, I couldn't help but carefully read the flurry of tweets from O's beat reporters. I drank in the names, so familiar: Jake Arrieta. Zach Britton. Brian Matusz. Chris Davis. Nate McLouth. Brian Roberts.

Though this was little more than a glorified practice session, it was especially encouraging to learn that Roberts began the spring on a positive note, stroking a single off of Britton to score McLouth. Last year, the post-concussed second baseman didn't play in a single preseason game. He made it back to the field at Camden Yards in mid-June, and saw action in 17 games before hip surgery ended his season prematurely and unsatisfyingly. He's still no sure bet to stay healthy, and even beyond that, there's bound to be some rust. You won't find many people bullish on the potential performance of a 35-year-old infielder who has totaled 115 games in the past three seasons, but even a long-shot comeback story has to start somewhere.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pat Hentgen, 2003 Topps Total #661

A tip of the hat to Craig "Flip Flop Fly Ball" Robinson, who noted on his Tumblr that there have been only nine players in MLB history who played for all three "Birdy Teams": Orioles, Blue Jays, and Cardinals. Those players are Alberto Castillo (the catcher, not the pitcher), Pat Hentgen, Cesar Izturis, Paul Kilgus, Mike Morgan, Corey Patterson, Nerio Rodriguez, Mike Timlin, and Tom Underwood. At present, Hentgen is the only player with the distinction of suiting up for only those three teams. Eat your heart out, Mark Fidrych.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Adam Jones, 2012 Topps 1987 Mini #TM-29

There are numerous reasons why I am glad that Adam Jones will be an Oriole for the foreseeable future. Reason number 76 is the prank that he pulled on Kevin Gausman last week. Gausman was the Orioles' first-round draft pick last year, a pitcher out of Louisiana State University. The young righthander has a reputation as something of a flake, thanks in part to his game-day superstition of eating four Hostess powdered mini-donuts after each inning. So Jones welcomed Gausman to Spring Training by filling the youngster's locker with 1,500 powdered donuts. Camden Chat has the photo evidence. It takes a true team leader to keep his teammates supplied with sugary baked goods.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Jim Palmer, 2013 PunkRockPaint Old Hoss 100 #89

I can't help myself. I'm going to share another card from the Old Hoss 100, because it features one of the meaner comments in the set. Mean, but still funny. Hopefully Jim Palmer isn't the litigious type.

Oh, nuts.

Brooks Robinson, 2013 PunkRockPaint Old Hoss 100 #43

Yesterday my very own complete factory set of the Old Hoss 100 arrived. As I was flipping through the cards, it dawned on me that my very first purchase of a 2013 card product wasn't Topps, but the hard work of a very talented fellow blogger. That makes me quite happy, especially since it's a legitimately well-done and entertaining set.

A little background: PunkRockPaint is the sporadically-updated blog of Travis, a Padres fan and an excellent artist. Old Hoss refers to the parody Twitter account of Charley "Old Hoss" Radbourn, the Hall of Fame 19th-century pitcher who was famous for his 59-win, 73-complete-game 1884 season with the Providence Grays. Hoss was also a famed raconteur, and the @OldHossRadbourn account plays it to the hilt. He's usually scoffing at the sissification of the modern game, making offhand references to his scores of illegitimate children, or skewering sports media coverage. In that vein, "Hoss" spent last December commenting upon ESPN's Hall of 100, a list of the purported 100 greatest baseball players of all time. Travis was inspired to create a limited-edition set of cards featuring those 100 players, with "Radbourn"'s comments on the card backs. As you can see, it's a beautiful sepia-toned set, similar in size and presentation to the old tobacco cards. It doesn't even suffer for the Photoshopping that removes or distorts cap and jersey insignias, in my opinion.

I'm glad that I was quick enough on the draw to snap up a set, as they're sold out now. The box that the cards were packed in is serial numbered 8 of 84. It promises a complete 100-card set plus 5 "rarities". The rarities include randomly-inserted and serial-numbered cards of ESPN's 25 honorable mentions, as well as alternate photo parallel cards of base set players. My rarities were #104 Dave Winfield, #106 Whitey Ford, #110 Harry Heilmann, and #122 Edgar Martinez (each numbered to 10), as well as #72 Bert Blyleven modeling his "I Love to Fart" shirt (numbered to 5). Glorious.

There are four Orioles in the set. In addition to the Brooks Robinson card I'm showing here, you've got #31 Cal Ripken, Jr., #65 Eddie Murray, and #89 Jim Palmer. (Frank Robinson is pictured with the Cincinnati Reds.) I'm glad to add them to my team collection. I'll let Old Hoss have the final word:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Vintage Fridays: Merv Rettenmund, 1973 Topps #56

As of today, full-squad Spring Training officially begins for the Orioles down in Sarasota, Florida. Of course, nearly all of the position players reported early this year. It's almost as if they're more eager to play in 2013 after the excitement of a 93-win season in which they fell two runs short of the American League Championship Series. Funny how that works.

Though it's starting to look like the cost of airfare is obscene enough to keep me away from Ed Smith Stadium this time around, I can still look at cards like this one and think warm thoughts. As is the case with several Topps cards from the 1970s, Merv Rettenmund's 1973 Topps photo shows him taking his practice cuts down south at Spring Training. Since he's wearing his road grays, I'm not sure that the Birds are being photographed at their old base of operations in Miami. But I see a blurry palm tree in the background, and a bunch of black and orange gear scattered in the grass, and both things make me happy in a simple way. Sometimes that's all that it takes.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Brian Holton, 1990 Score #177

In a quick search of my archives, I discovered that I've already commented on these dorky black turtlenecks twice before. I just can't help myself. The only thing that looks worse than a plain black turtleneck on a ballplayer is a turtleneck with thin orange stripes around the neck. I guess I should just be grateful that the Orioles didn't pair the striped turtleneck with the 1970s-1980s era polyester uniform pants and striped elastic waistbands. The O's came perilously close to being engulfed by horizontal stripes. The horror...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Vladimir Guerrero, 2011 Topps Diamond Duos #DD-23

These Diamond Duos cards aren't bad by recent Topps insert standards. Some of them fall flat for me - matching Brooks Robinson with Ryan Zimmerman is borderline blasphemy - but when they hit on a good match, it works. Here you've got Big Papi and Vlad, a pair of American League East designated hitters from the Dominican Republic who have a shared legacy of beating the ever-loving snot out of the ball. Of course, Guerrero was just about cooked by the time he landed in Baltimore in 2011. I was surprised to learn that Vlad is just nine months older than Ortiz, who still seems to have something left in the tank. If I believed in jinxes, I'd start talking up Papi's chances of bouncing back from injury in 2013 and leading the Red Sox out of the cellar...but that's not my style. No sir.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ted Gray, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #162

Since I wrote a bit about journeymen on Friday, I thought I'd share this fun post by Doug over at the High Heat Stats blog. He searched Baseball Reference to find the players who did the most team-jumping over short spans of time. There were a few ex-Orioles on the various lists: Jose Bautista, Bruce Chen, Jorge Julio, Todd Zeile, Hoot Evers, Eddie Robinson, and Ted Gray. Gray is something of an interesting case, a World War II vet and an early-1950s mainstay of the Tigers pitching staffs. His ERA+ got steadily worse throughout his career, falling from a high of 119 (3.51 ERA) in his sophomore season of 1949 all the way down to 70 (5.38 ERA) in 1954. So after spending parts of his first eight big league seasons in Detroit, Ted was traded to the White Sox in a six-player deal that also involved future O's Walt Dropo and Bob Nieman. From there, here's the sad transaction history of 1955 for Ted Gray:

May 23, 1955: Released by the Chicago White Sox.

June 15, 1955: Signed as a Free Agent with the Cleveland Indians.

June 29, 1955: Released by the Cleveland Indians.

June 30, 1955: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees.

July 20, 1955: Released by the New York Yankees.

July 26, 1955: Signed as a Free Agent with the Baltimore Orioles.

September 17, 1955: Released by the Baltimore Orioles.
When the Orioles cut Ted loose, it definitively brought an end to the 30-year-old's career. While pitching for half of the clubs in the American League that season, the southpaw had only racked up 14 appearances totalling 23.1 innings. He gave up 38 hits, 15 walks, and 30 runs (25 earned), struck out only 11 men, and served up 4 home runs. The final tallies: a 9.64 ERA and a 42 ERA+ (again, 100 ERA+ is league-average). Somewhere in that mess, he managed to win a single game for the Orioles, tossing a scoreless ninth inning against the crummy Athletics and benefiting from a walkoff two-run double by Bob Hale.

Now that's how you rack up some mileage in style.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Paul Winterling, 2008 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP173

Nope, never heard of him.

But that's my fault, not Paul Winterling's. I can look at the back of the card, and see that he's a local boy: McDonogh High School and Johns Hopkins University. Signed with the O's as an undrafted free agent in 2005, and batted .231/319/.393 in four minor league seasons, topping out at high-A Frederick. Bowman's Scouting Report notes that Paul "aspires to coaching", and indeed he is apparently available to train folks in baseball in the Baltimore area. Call now!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mike Mussina, 1993 Studio #202

One exciting outcome from my weekend of sorting miscellaneous 1993 cards was the discovery that I nearly have a complete set of 1993 Studio, one of my favorite card sets of all time. I only need 18 more cards to finish it off - I've put the rest in a binder and everything. So if you have the inclination, go check out my 1993 Studio want list here. Drop me a line and maybe we can make a deal!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Damon Buford, 1993 Upper Deck #691

Because I really know how to have a good time, I've spent the bulk of my weekend thus far sorting a few thousand 1993 baseball cards. On the plus side, I've been able to get reacquainted with the magnificence of the 1993 Upper Deck set. Just look at this card, which zooms in on Damon Buford dancing away from the base. The photo is tight enough that it's just Damon and the infield dirt. He could be on the beach in Ocean City, if you use your imagination. I'm also really drawn in by Buford's shadow mirroring his movements from below. This is a baseball card aspiring to be art.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Vintage Fridays: Moe Drabowsky, 1968 Topps #242

Earlier this week, the Orioles became the fourth team to acquire Russ Canzler this offseason. The 26-year-old first baseman/corner outfielder has only 29 games of big-league experience, all coming with the Rays and Indians over the past two seasons. Though he's too old for prospect status, Russ is an attractive option for AAA depth. In 2011, he batted .314/.401/.530 with Tampa Bay's top farm club in Durham. But that "AAA depth" label seems to have cursed Canzler to become the ultimate fungible roster piece, a journeyman's journeyman.

On December 18, 2012, the Indians designated him for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot for our old pal Mark Reynolds. Three days later, the Blue Jays claimed Russ on waivers with the intention of stashing him in the minors. However, he needed to clear waivers first; Cleveland grabbed him back on January 2 of this year. Just two days later, the Tribe tried to pass Canzler through waivers when they signed Brett Myers, and this time the Yankees snatched him. He lasted nearly a full month on New York's 40-man before his ex-Indians teammate Travis Hafner signed with the Yanks, so Russ hit the waiver wire again last Friday. That brought him to the O's 40-man roster...for the time being. I'll be pulling for Russ Canzler, wherever he lands.

Like Russ Canzler, Moe Drabowsky got his start in the Cubs organization. Unlike Russ, Moe was a major leaguer from age 20 onward. But he did his share of moving in his own right, pitching for eight different teams in a 17-year career. After an initial five-year stint in Wrigley, the Polish native stopped briefly in Milwaukee and Cincinnati before a three-plus year engagement with the Kansas City Athletics. Then there was a greatly successful three-season tenure in Baltimore's bullpen (1966-1968), after which Moe was claimed in the expansion draft by the Royals. That gave him the rare and dubious distinction of pitching for both of K.C.'s big league teams. The Birds reacquired the righty in the summer of 1970, but before the champagne had been sopped up from the team's second World Series title, he was dealt once more, this time to St. Louis. Finally, in 1972, Moe finished his career in a White Sox uniform following an early August release from his Cardinals contract. I'm always fascinated by the various twists and turns a player's career can take, even when he's one of the very best at what he does.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tim Raines, 2001 Fleer Platinum #308

Last year I finally got my hands on a card depicting Tim Raines (Senior, a.k.a. "Rock") in an Orioles uniform: his short-printed 2002 Fleer Tradition card, to be exact. It had been on my Most Wanted list, and a certain Cardboard Junkie came through for me. I very desperately wanted to show it off, but I knew that I had to save it for a special occasion: only when Raines finally got his just due and gained entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame would I scan and post that particular card. Sadly, the fine voters of the BBWAA have made such a mess of the ballot, one of the greatest speed-and-on-base guys of his own era might never make it.

I didn't even know that Fleer had produced another card of Raines the Elder as an Oriole, and done so one year earlier. But this wonderful card, from the unplanned second series of the first-ever Platinum set, showed up in the box that Zach sent me last month. Even better, I get to flaunt it in celebration of Tim's election to another Baseball Hall of Fame...the Canadian version. Way to get beat to punch, American baseball writers.

I wasn't sure that I'd be able to get one Tim Raines O's card. Now I have one for each of the two games he started alongside his son and namesake in the Baltimore outfield.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Brian Burres, 2007 Fleer #325

Remember Brian Burres? Oh, sure you do. Replaceable lefty, went 13-18 with a 5.88 ERA and a 1.66 WHIP with the Orioles from 2006-2008? Shut out the White Sox for eight innings that one time? Jim Palmer seemed to like him a lot? Yeah, it's coming back to you.

Anyway, Brian's career hasn't exactly been on an upward trajectory since he left Baltimore. He pitched briefly and disastrously for the Blue Jays in 2009, tossed 93.1 middling innings for the Pirates in 2010 and 2011, and was stuck at AAA Fresno in the Giants' organization last year. So it's probably just as well that the southpaw is moving overseas in 2013. He will be toeing the rubber in Taiwan for the Lamigo Monkeys, who have both an excellent name and a pretty fierce hooded sweatshirt design.

Pitchers and catchers report next week. Until then...monkeys.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Frank Robinson, 2012 Topps Blockbusters #BB-3

Gross things about modern baseball cards, Volume 59: Registered trademarks after team names.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Cal Ripken, Jr., 1998 Upper Deck #310

Last night I had the pleasure, for the second time in my life, of watching my city's football team win the Super Bowl. As I did back in 2001, I celebrated at my aunt and uncle's house with much of my mother's side of the family. There was wine and beer (for the third straight Ravens' postseason game, I went with Loose Cannon triple-hopped IPA, my favorite brew from Baltimore's Heavy Seas outfit), purple Jell-O shots to celebrate touchdowns by our guys, and tons of good food. Meatballs, crab soup, crab pretzels, jambalaya...we even had an ice cream cake for my uncle's 50th birthday. Some people are nervous wrecks when watching their favorite team in a high-stakes game, but I'd rather be around folks that are near and dear to me. When things are going well, it's great to add your voice to a group cheer rather than letting it bounce of the walls of your own empty living room. Every big play by the Ravens set off a round of jubilant high-fives. Even when things got surprisingly tense in the midst of San Francisco's second-half rally, I appreciated the companionship of my girlfriend and my family. I might have been pacing the house, ranting and raving, if I had stayed home. I even won $12 in our low-stakes score grid pool thanks to coach John Harbaugh's choice to take a deliberate safety to set up a game-ending free kick.

The Orioles have notably gone 30 years since their last World Series win. Even the comparatively-short 12-year gap between Ravens' championships seemed significant when watching scores of notable players (Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, Bart Scott, Jarret Johnson) pass through Charm City without winning a ring. As I've spent my adult life watching my two primary rooting interests ride different tracks, I've thought about how difficult it is to ride the right combination of talent and good fortune to a title. As demoralizing as it was to see the O's stumble around the basement for 14 years, there was a different sort of agony in witnessing several very good Ravens teams sacrifice so much energy and physical well-being only to fall just short time and again. I've got a different appreciation for this Super Bowl than the first one. The Ravens were only in their fifth season when they captured that initial Lombardi Trophy, and it was the first time that they had even been to the playoffs. It wouldn't always be that easy. I wasn't even completely jaded by the Orioles yet. Even with three straight sub-.500 seasons, they'd still been contenders in half of my eight seasons of fandom to that point. The playoff pushes of 1996 and 1997 were still fresh in my mind.

A popular sports cliche says that "Flags Fly Forever". It's a good thing that they do, because they're harder to get than you'd think. I'll see you at the parade tomorrow morning.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Gregg Olson, 1989 Donruss #46

Now that I've posted yesterday's blog entry on a 15-hour delay, here's a short little something for Super Bowl Sunday. I don't know many people who are greatly enamored with 1989 Donruss' rainbow gradient borders, but the purple ones (as seen here on Gregg Olson's rookie card) are a great way to tangentially throw a little support to my other favorite team. In a few hours, the Baltimore Ravens will have the opportunity to win their second Lombardi Trophy, and the first since January 2001. They have the chance to send Ray Lewis (and possibly Ed Reed, because who honestly knows how long he'll be around?) out on top, and to put a pretty damned good exclamation point on a fine year for the local sports teams. Go Ravens! Beat those 49ers!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Arthur Rhodes, 1998 Pacific Online #100

While the Orioles have had a quiet offseason, it hasn't been completely boring. GM Dan Duquette's penchant for dumpster-diving has left the door open for a few graybeard ex-O's to make a return to Baltimore.

A few weeks ago, 6'9" lefthander Mark Hendrickson had a tryout and came armed with a new sidearm delivery. It's still not a done deal, but the expectation is that Hendo will get a minor league deal and a spring training invite. That's all you can ask for as a 38-year-old who's been out of the game for a year. Mark always seemed like a nice guy, and as a native of York, PA he particularly enjoyed being with the Orioles. I'm always in favor of unconventional pitching deliveries, and the ex-NBA player angle makes him even more interesting than most journeyman relievers.

Earlier this week, another pair of former Birds got a chance to show their stuff. Fernando Tatis, also 38,  was best known for slugging 34 homers for the Cardinals in 1999, but had a nice little 28-game stint with the O's in 2006 after a three-year absence from the majors. Afterward, he had two solid years and a not-so-solid one as a part-timer for the Mets, and hasn't been seen in the bigs since 2010. Tatis might be an intriguing spring training story, but I don't really see a spot for him on the O's bench. Then again, they've been talking seriously about a Wilson Betemit-Danny Valencia DH platoon, which is...ugh.

But the guy that's really got me daydreaming is Arthur Rhodes. Yep, at the same time the Orioles worked out Tatis, they also put the 43-year-old southpaw through the paces. Rhodes last pitched as a situational lefty for the Rangers and Cardinals in 2011, but I guess he's still got the itch. Now that Jamie Moyer's career options have apparently dried up, an Arthur Rhodes comeback might be my new pet cause for the 2013 season. How great would it be to have him back in orange and black? When the Orioles drafted Arthur in 1988, Brian Roberts was a sixth-grader. He made his major league debut on August 21, 1991...almost a full year before Manny Machado was born!

C'mon, Duke...pull the trigger and bring Arthur Rhodes back to Charm City.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Vintage Fridays: Earl Williams, 1975 Topps #97

Earlier this week, former Orioles catcher/first baseman Earl Williams died after a months-long battle with leukemia. He was 64 years old. Though he started his career with a bang in Atlanta, winning the National League's 1971 Rookie of the Year honors on the strength of 33 home runs and a .491 slugging percentage, those age-22 numbers represented the peak of Williams' performance. He wore out his welcome with the Braves one year later, which should have been a red flag to the O's. But someone in management (Earl Weaver spent the rest of his own life denying that it was him) was sufficiently enamored with the mercurial slugger's talents to surrender a four-player package headlined by All-Star second baseman Davey Johnson. Earl Williams' SABR biography details his clashes with Baltimore teammates, coaches, and even fans. I don't want to pile on when speaking critically of the recently-deceased, though his record and his departure from the big leagues at age 29 tell the story. I will say that it's a shame that he suffered with such a significant illness at the end of his life. Perhaps now he's found a peace that often seemed elusive in his youth.