Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Friday, May 31, 2013

Vintage Fridays: Bob Kennedy, 1955 Topps #48

I'm leaving you again! But this time I'll be back on Sunday. I'm spending the next 48 hours in Chestertown for reunion weekend at my college. There will be a roast for a pair of my old theatre professors who are retiring, some catching up with folks I haven't seen in years, a drama alumni performance (I'm a spectator, not a performer), and a beer tasting courtesy of Salisbury's own Evolution Craft Brewing Company. Oh, and my fiancee and I will be getting the authentic college experience by sleeping in a double room on campus. Yes, I waited too long to get a hotel room; why do you ask?

Since my college was founded by George Washington, I thought I'd stick with the presidential theme and show you this broken-in Bob Kennedy card. In addition to begetting late-'80s O's catcher Terry Kennedy, Bob had a long and interesting career. He debuted with the White Sox in 1939 at age 19, served in the military during World War II and the Korean War, and spent parts of 16 years in the big leagues despite a career OPS+ of 80 and a batting line of .254/.309/.355. While seeing time at third base and in the outfield corners for the 1954 Orioles, Bob was second on the team in home runs and RBI...with six and 45. The first year for the Birds in Baltimore was not an offensively robust one, to say the least. After retiring as a player, Kennedy worked in baseball through the 1992 season. He managed the Cubs (1961-1963) and Athletics (1968), and worked in the front office for the Indians, Cardinals, Cubs (general manager, 1977-1981), Astros, and Giants. Bob passed away at age 84 in 2005.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sid Fernandez, 1995 Leaf #353

I recently took advantage of Strat-O-Matic baseball's trial offer of one free team in one of their online leagues. I chose to join a 12-team league with a player pool from the 1990s. The player profiles are based on one of five randomly-selected season stat lines for each player, making it a mystery which one you'll get. For instance, I could have Cal Ripken's 1991 MVP season, his mediocre 1993 season, or his pretty-good 1994 season. The teams are auto-drafted, so I select my preferred 25-man roster in priority order (constrained by an $80 million salary cap) and then hope that I get most of my guys. A full season is simulated at a rate of three games per team per day using Strat-O-Matic's game engine.

I did pretty well in the draft, winding up with an offense anchored by Chris Hoiles, John Jaha, Ripken, Kenny Lofton, Jay Buhner, and Harold Baines. I seem to have a strong bullpen, with Randy Myers closing. Of course, you probably wouldn't confuse my starting rotation with the Bobby Cox-Leo Mazzone Braves. Mike Mussina is the marquee name, followed by Jeff Fassero, Sid Fernandez, Rick Sutcliffe, and Scott Kamieniecki. There's a few names in there that should give longtime O's fans a cold chill.

Nine games into the season, my Hop Bottom Alemeisters are in first place in the East with a 6-3 record. But it hasn't been pretty. In true 1990s fashion, they've hit 16 home runs (led by Buhner's four) and have a .274/.352/.492 batting line that Earl Weaver would love. Cal and Lofton have matching .368 batting averages in a small sample size. But the pitching...woof. Moose has been battered in two straight starts and now has a 6.45 ERA; Fassero and Sutcliffe are almost as bad, and Kamieniecki gave up six runs in three and one-third innings in his lone start. The only guy holding the starters above water is...El Sid. Of course.

Fernandez, one of my favorite punching bags due to his dumpy physique and disastrous year-plus performance in Baltimore, has allowed a grand total of four hits and one earned run in 17.2 innings, with 22 strikeouts and eight walks. In his first start, he hurled a two-hit shutout. In the second, he balked in a run in the sixth and let Jeff Nelson close the door on a 2-1 win in the ninth. That's a 0.51 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, and 11.51 K/9. Just the way I drew it up.

It looks like I got one of Sid's early-1990s Mets seasons. Thank goodness.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Chris Davis, 2013 Topps #119

I just had to post a Chris Davis card on the day that he gets honored with a Superman-esque t-shirt giveaway. The legend of "Crush" just keeps on growing, as another recent hot streak has him leading the major leagues with 17 home runs, a .728 slugging percentage, and a 1.165 OPS. I feel like I've seen him hit (at least) one home run in every game I've attended since the beginning of 2012, and it's not far from the truth. (Running tally: 18 HR in 25 games.) Will he come up big again on his big night? Will he get to celebrate with Adam Jones in their own inimitable gesture? I've got a good feeling.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Rick Bauer, 2003 Topps Total #713

Hey kids! Let's count the falsehoods on the back of Rick Bauer's Topps Total card!

-"Used primarily as a middle reliever, Bauer has proven that he can come in and hold a lead." In 2002, Rick was charged with six losses and three blown saves in relief. Oh, but he did have 12 "holds", so in the barest sense, I guess there's some truth.

-"He can get hitters to swing through his fastball or slider." 2002: 45 strikeouts in 83.2 innings pitched, a rate of 4.8 strikeouts per nine innings. So I guess he simply chose not to get most hitters to swing and miss?

-"Improved command of his pitches." 2002: 36 walks, 3.9 per nine innings. He'd walked two per nine innings in the minors in 2001. Maybe Topps was making a friendly suggestion to Rick.

-I'll give Topps the benefit of the doubt on Bauer's listed height (6'6"), weight (212 pounds), and handedness (right). I'm in a generous mood.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Vintage Fridays: Jim Palmer, 1976 Topps #202

Jim Palmer was such a showoff in these 1970s Topps sets. "Ooh, look at me, I have the lowest ERA! Whaddaya know, I had the most wins last year! Huh!" You will note that the first and second runners-up to 'Cakes for the 1975 American League ERA title both eventually joined him in Cooperstown. Of course, you probably know Jim Hunter as "Catfish". Hunter was from Hertford, North Carolina, which is...not terribly close to Charlotte. It's so far north it's practically in Virginia, actually. What am I rambling about? I'm getting ready to leave for a last-minute holiday trip to Charlotte with Janet to visit her folks. So the blog will be going dark until Tuesday. Until then, enjoy this hunky triumvirate of Hall of Fame pitchers!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Frank Robinson, 2012 Topps Retired Rings #RR-FR

Recently I participated in my first card draft over at Thorzul Will Rule. Essentially, Thorzul had a big mess o'big-ticketish cards: autographs, relics, serial-numbered parallels, rookie cards, a little vintage, you name it. So for $25, you could claim a spot in the draft and be guaranteed 20 cards. Once Mr. T posted the master list of cards available, each participant sent a priority list of the 20 cards they wanted most. He established a draft order at random, and proceeded with the draft in a snake order (i.e. 1-12, then 12 back to 1) until one of the participants ran out of potential picks. There were 11 folks entered in the draft, and Thorzul made it through eight rounds before we needed to send updated draft lists. At that point, everyone submitted a new list with their top 25 to 30 choices from among the remaining cards. My pack of 20 arrived in the mail yesterday, and I was quite pleased with the results.

I drafted third overall, and got each of my first five preferred cards, all of which were Orioles. First was this incredibly thick Frank Robinson card, complete with manufactured ring relic embedded in the front. The ring, of course, features his #20, which was retired by the Orioles when they traded him to the Dodgers in 1972. The rest of the top five were a 2008 Nick Markakis Upper Deck A Piece of History Red Parallel (serial numbered 79 of 149), a 2001 Cal Ripken Fleer Tradition Diamond Tributes insert, a 2010 Matt Tucker Bowman Chrome Refractor, and a 2009 David Hernandez Topps Update Chrome Rookie Refractor. The other 15 cards were non-Orioles, but each was a welcome addition to my collection at large:

-1970 Topps Don Kessinger
-1973 Topps Harmon Killebrew
-1979 Topps Jesus Alou
-1979 Topps Rod Carew (Killebrew, Alou, and Carew...I'm a poet and I didn't even know it)
-1981 Donruss Ozzie Smith
-1981 Kellogg's J. R. Richard
-1981 Kellogg's Ben Oglivie
-1981 Kellogg's Joe Charboneau
-1981 Topps Johnny Bench Record Breaker
-1981 Topps Nolan Ryan
-1981 Topps George Brett
-1982 Kellogg's Chet Lemon
-1983 Donruss Carl Yastrzemski
-2002 Topps Opening Day Rickey Henderson Season Highlight
-2012 Topps Tribute Lance Berkman

All told, I had a blast doing this. I'll definitely be on the lookout for more card drafts in the future!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Melvin Mora, 2004 Leaf Second Edition #10

Last night Nate McLouth provided some walkoff magic, hitting a home run to lead off the bottom of the tenth inning, as the Orioles beat the Yankees 3-2. It was a cathartic win, coming on the heels of six consecutive losses to open this eight-game homestand, and it happened under quite unique circumstances. All three O's runs scored on solo homers, with backup outfielder Chris Dickerson providing the other two longballs in the third and fifth innings.

As I continue searching for ways to get the most bang for my buck from my subscription to the Baseball Reference Play Index, I decided to find out how many games the Birds have won in which each of their runs came courtesy of a bases-empty home run. The tally is 61, with the high being a five-homer barrage on June 19, 2001. That day, the O's bested the Blue Jays 5-1 at Camden Yards, with Brady Anderson, Jay Gibbons, Melvin Mora, and David Segui (twice) doing the honors. There has also been one four-homer game that met the criteria: September 6, 1995, better known as Cal Ripken's 2,131 game. Everyone remembers Cal's dramatic fourth-inning shot, and he was joined by Bobby Bonilla and Rafael Palmeiro (twice). Last night's game was the seventh in Oriole history with three solo home runs accounting for all of the team's scoring. It was, however, the first time the O's have ever hit that many solo homers, scored no other runs, and won in walkoff fashion. So you see, there's a first time for everything.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Adam Jones, 2013 Panini Triple Play #7

I was picking up some necessaries at Target when a rack pack of 2013 Triple Play jumped into my hand. Naturally, I bought it. I can't get enough of these goofy pop-art caricatures, and buying a non-MLB licensed card product makes me feel like I'm sticking it to The Man. The crab-and-bird-and-sailboat backdrop is just the icing on the cake. I'd like to think that posting this bobbleheadish Adam Jones avatar will spur him to lead the O's to a skid-snapping victory tonight, but I may just have to accept that I have no control over the things that happen on the baseball diamond.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sidney Ponson, 1998 Upper Deck #594

2013 marks the 60th season in Orioles history. Over these last six decades, there have been 46 complete-game shutouts thrown by 22 different O's pitchers against the Yankees. As follows general trends in pitcher usage (and team trends in pitcher quality), only five of those shutouts have come in the last 30 years. You can find the full list here. Some interesting notes:

-As you might expect, Jim Palmer leads the way with seven whitewashes of the New Yorkers. He is followed by Dave McNally (six), Mike Cuellar (five), and ex-Yankee farmhand Scott McGregor (four, though one was a rain-shortened six-inning game).

-Charlie Beamon had only three career victories, and one of them was a wild four-hit, seven-walk, nine-strikeout blanking of Whitey Ford and the Yanks on September 26, 1956. The Birds did not turn a single double play and caught one runner stealing (Joe Collins in the first inning), but the Yankees went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10.

-The highest Game Score was 93, for Hoyt Wilhelm's 1958 no-hitter.

-Mike Mussina never blanked the Bronx Bombers, but Bob Milacki did it twice! Baseball, man.

-Sidney Ponson is the only O's pitcher to shut out the Yankees from 1993 to the present day. On September 4, 2004, he needed 109 pitches to beat them 7-0. All New York could muster were a pair of hits and a walk. Mike Mussina was the tough-luck loser (2 ER in 7 IP), and Mariano Rivera was blasted for four runs in one-third of an inning in a non-save situation. See note on Bob Milacki.

I'm telling you all of this because the Orioles have hit their first truly ugly stretch on the year, losing five in a row to the Padres and Rays. This is not the best time to be facing the Yankees, especially when tonight's pitching matchup is CC Sabathia (17-3 career vs. the O's) against Freddy Garcia (eight runs allowed in his last nine and two-thirds innings pitched). We need something weird to happen to snap out of this funk.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cal Ripken, Jr., 1995 Collector's Choice #85

One of the most impressive things about Cal Ripken, Jr.'s record-breaking consecutive games played streak was how he managed to avoid any serious injuries despite being routinely stalked by a rabid Ben McDonald.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Brooks Robinson, 1993 Action Packed All-Stars #120

Today is Brooks Robinson's 76th birthday, but everything else about this day made me feel like baseball is a cruel, pointless, stupid game. Yes, I was at Camden Yards for Jim Johnson and Darren O'Day's six-run ninth-inning meltdown; why do you ask?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Vintage Fridays: Willie Kirkland, 1964 Topps #17

Willie Kirkland looks dubious. He knows that he's got the Indians' wishbone "C" and Chief Wahoo (sigh) on his cap, and he's gazing up at the blue block letters that spell out "Orioles" at the top of the card and wondering what gives. Here's what gives, Willie: Cleveland traded you to the O's for Al Smith and $25,000 in December of 1963. But don't get comfortable just yet. You'll only be in Baltimore until August 12, when the Birds sell your contract to the Senators. Your final stat line as an Oriole: .200/.281/.293 in 66 games, with three homers and 22 RBI. I guess Charm City just wasn't your kinda place.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ivanon Coffie, 2001 Upper Deck #14

Ivanon Coffie turns 36 today. He was born in Curacao, his surname is pronounced like the caffeinated beverage, and his major league career totaled 23 games in the summer of 2000, when he hit .217/.284/.317 with no home runs and six RBI for the Orioles. Now we all know four things about Ivanon Coffie. Here's one more: he and 1950s pinch-hitting specialist Dave Philley are the only two O's to share a birthday with my maternal grandmother, who would have been 84 today.

My Gram, who went by the nickname "Boots" from a very young age, left us nearly seven years ago. Time keeps moving along, always forward, and I still can't believe that we've been without her for so long. I keep her close to me in my heart and in my mind, and there are little reminders of her scattered throughout my home. A 2001 portrait photograph of her, smiling brightly, sits in my living room. An older photograph, this one from Christmas 1986, rests on my dresser in the bedroom. I asked for a few keepsakes when the family combed through her personal effects, and these are still with me as well: a few beer glasses (one rose-tinted and engraved with the name "BOOTS", the other a mug bearing the logo of her old reliable Natural Light), a tin Schaefer beer serving tray that I've hung on the kitchen wall, the well-worn Scrabble board and deck of Phase 10 cards that we used to pass the hours on many a weekend or summer day, and of course the Super Nintendo that she herself bought about 20 years back. That last item was the first modern video game console in our house, and it still works...though I need to solder the A/V cable.

But those are just things. What matters to me most are the things that I remember, things that I feel the need to share with you and to put into written word on the chance that those memories ever fade. There was her near-inscrutable Baltimore accent, a Highlandtown dialect that turned "dial" into "doll", "oil" into "ool", and most amusingly, "sink" into "zink". She had a love for any and all games: scratch-off lottery tickets, card games (scat and Skip-Bo were some favorites), Bingo, board games, TV guide crosswords, pinball and casino video games...you name it. But she was fiercely competitive; if you got the upper hand against her, she'd snap about how you "had a horseshoe up your ass" or that you were "unconscious". It was all in good fun, though. Boots loved strawberry shortcake and ice cream with pretzels for dipping. Every St. Patrick's Day she would raise a glass of dyed-green beer in a nod to the Irish portion of her heritage. Still, I'm not getting to the heart of it.

Most of all, my Gram was full of love. She loved her brothers and sisters, her cousins, her children, and most of all, her grandchildren. When my sister and I were growing up, she was our usual babysitter, and she even lived on the bottom floor of our house for 17 years. She helped us learn to read by reading to us. She would sometimes wake us by singing the first few notes of "Good Morning!", from Singin' in the Rain. We'd watch The Price Is Right, maybe play a game of Pay Day or Aggravation. She'd whip up an omelet for breakfast or maybe just Rice Krispies with a heaping helping of sugar (to Mom's dismay), and grilled cheese for lunch. Whether my parents were home or not, Gram was always right downstairs, and she always had time for me and my sister. When the family went on vacation to our cottage in Northeastern Pennsylvania or to Ocean City, she came along, sharing the back seat with the kids and playing the license plate game or the alphabet game to help pass the tedious hours in the car. She was such a large and active part of our lives.

I miss her.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ramon Hernandez, 2006 Upper Deck #380

The Orioles finally suffer their first series sweep of the year thanks to a listless drubbing at the hands of the punchless and largely anonymous Padres. Gross. Two-game series bookended by days off...interleague play...12:35 getaway games after night games...if you ask me, Bud Selig is to blame for this mini-skid.

Okay, I'm only half-serious. But the past 18 hours of baseball made me grumpy, and I figure that nobody ever made enemies by bashing Mr. Commish-for-Life.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Jeff Tackett, 1993 Topps #6

For a backup catcher with a career batting line of .217/.300/.336 and 136 total games played, Jeff Tackett had some truly righteous cards. This 1993 Topps card, which holds a position of honor on the first binder page of the set (nestled snugly next to Tony Gwynn, no less), was my first exposure to Chris Hoiles' water carrier. Jeff gets the unique designation of being the first Oriole featured in the first card set that I collected as a kid, which was somehow 20 years ago. As vivid a story as this photo tells, with the catcher taking a moment to sullenly contemplate what seems to be a run-scoring play at the plate, it's not even the most visually compelling of his cards. You can see an art gallery's worth of Tackett action shots and portraits in my archives.

This card serves as a not-so-sneaky segue to the official launch of my 1993 Topps set blog. I've been kicking the idea around for months, but I wasn't about to toss another chainsaw into the fire until I'd wrapped up my 1965 Topps blog, which I finally got around to doing last weekend. I'm really excited to jump into this, since the set and its players hold a personal nostalgia for me that the truly vintage sets don't. There will be pithy remarks, a few less-known facts about each player, recollections of my childhood, historical and pop culture facts from '93, and a bit of wit and wisdom borrowed from Bill James. Be sure to bookmark the blog now, share it with the people you love, and get to reading! I've already posted an introduction of sorts, as well as the first card of the set. One down, 824 to go!

...Of course, there were six extra players who appeared only in the Gold parallel set, replacing the checklist cards. So that's 830 to go. Oh, and I can't forget the 132-card Traded set. So that takes us to 962 posts left to write. I wonder if I should do the 44 BlackGold inserts....

What have I started?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Cal Ripken, Jr., 1999 Topps Record Numbers #RN9

I knew that Cal Ripken was durable, but I didn't even remember him continuing to play third base in the midst of an on-field pyrotechnic explosion. It was pretty irresponsible of the Orioles to schedule their Friday night fireworks display for 8:00 PM. Live and learn, I guess.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Jay Gibbons, 2003 Donruss Studio #7

I spent several hours last night sorting Orioles cards, a task that I'd literally been putting off for a few years. Among other things, it served as another reminder that I own a metric crapton of Jay Gibbons cards. At least this one is visually appealing (as much as any card featuring a closeup of Jay can be), with the background image of the Home Plate Plaza entrance to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. You feel like you're right downtown at the ballpark.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Randy Myers, 1997 Score #190

Randy Myers got pushed aside last night, as current Oriole closer Jim Johnson set a new team record by converting his 35th consecutive save. Myers was the previous record holder, as he nailed down 34 in a row back in 1997. Johnson has targeted Myers before, as his 2012 season total of 51 saves broke another of the latter's team records; Randy saved 45 games for the O's in 1997. As they say, records are made to be broken.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Vintage Fridays: Luis Aparicio, 1965 Topps #410

Today I posted the final card on my Great 1965 Topps Project blog. It's incredibly satisfying to officially close the book on my most ambitious undertaking to date as a collector. The 1965 Topps blog predated my Orioles card blog by a couple of months, and it took me a shade under five years to complete this classic 598-card set. It took another nine months to complete posting those cards to the blog, but that's neither here nor there. If you've never checked it out, or haven't been there for a while, go read up on all of the most prominent players of the 1960s, from Luis Aparicio (complete with Star-Spangled Banner Sesquicentennial sleeve patch) to Willie Mays, from Sandy Koufax to Warren Spahn, and then some. At the risk of repeating myself, I'm forever in awe of the kindness and generosity of my fellow collectors. Most of you have never met me face to face, and yet you reached out to me and went out of your way and helped me complete a vintage set that is nearly 50 years old and chock-full of Hall of Famers. My next task is a bit less grandiose: I'll be blogging the entire 1993 Topps set. I'm hoping to launch that project in the next week or so; stay tuned!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Baltimore Orioles, 1991 Upper Deck Stickers

Now that yesterday's Debbie Downer post has had a little time to breathe, I should acknowledge that it's actually good to be an Orioles fan these days. That's been a reality since the beginning of last season, and it still seems surreal. The Birds are 21-13, a half-game behind the Cardinals for the best record in baseball. The men in orange and black are riding a season-high four-game win streak, enabling them to tie the Red Sox for first place in the unforgiving American League East. Speaking of the East, the preseason darlings from Toronto are a full eight and one-half games back already, with several high-profile players on the shelf. Out west, the mega-bucks Angels are within sniffing distance of the league's worst record, with a shaky pitching staff, a floundering Josh Hamilton, and a gimpy Albert Pujols.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying watching the O's do their thing on a nightly basis. Highlight-reel defense, competent starting pitching, reliable relief pitching, and timely offense from a likable bunch of guys. Then there's the Fun With Arbitrary Endpoints Stats:

  • Since July 29, 2012, the Orioles have the best overall record (62-33, .653 win%) and the best home record (32-13, .711) in baseball.
  • Left fielder Nate McLouth, the namesake of my fiancee's orange and black beta fish, has reached base in 31 of his last 68 plate appearances.
  • The Birds have won 108 consecutive games when leading after seven innings, dating back to August 2011. This is a particularly goofy thing to track, especially since it allows for games to be blown when leading after eight innings. But Baltimore is closing in on the major league record of 116 straight, held by the 1998-99 Yankees. I'm willing to celebrate the toppling of any Yankee record, no matter how convoluted the calculus.
Tonight I'll be at Oriole Park in Camden Yards, in my usual roost in section 340, as Freddy Garcia tries to secure the team's first series sweep of the year. The 36-year-old is Dan Duquette's latest bargain-bin find, and naturally he no-hit the Angels for the first six innings of his O's debut last Saturday. Hopefully the home ballpark is as hospitable to his soft-tossing repertoire as "The Big A" was.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Brian Roberts, 2011 Topps Attax #34

Hamstring surgery for Brian Roberts. Out at least another six weeks. Third different surgery in the past nine months. I don't even know what else to say. My heart breaks for this guy.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mark Smith, 1994 Score Select #408

It's Mark Smith's 43rd birthday today, which is the kind of information that you're only going to get here...or through a quick Google search...or by reading the back of a 20-year-old baseball card. Ahem. Anywise, help yourself to a hearty stew of Mark Smith Fun Facts!
  • There have been two Mark Smiths in MLB history. The first was a righthanded pitcher who gave up 11 runs on 24 hits in 14.2 innings for the Athletics in 1983. Therefore, the Orioles' Mark Smith is the greatest Mark Smith to ever play the game. (The 13 Mark Smiths who have played in the minors, but not the majors, look at Mark's career OPS of .719 and marinate in their own envy.)
  • Mark was the Birds' first-round pick, ninth overall, in the 1991 draft. Players chosen later in that round include Manny Ramirez, Cliff Floyd, and Shawn Green. Of course, Al Shirley, Scott Ruffcorn, and Tom McKinnon were also later first-round picks that year, so why second-guess?
  • According to Baseball Reference, Smith's agent was Arn Tellem. I always thought that was a funny name. Just roll it around on your tongue.
  • Mark played 67 total games with the O's from 1994-1996. He had a pair of three-hit games. They came on back-to-back days: August 25 and August 26, 1995.
  • On September 22, 1995, Mark Smith was intentionally walked in the ninth inning with the Orioles leading the Brewers 10-3. Jeffrey Hammonds had just hit a one-out double, and Jeff Huson was on deck. Huson was retired on a foul pop to third base, and Jarvis Brown struck out, so I guess Phil Garner's strategy...worked? It was one of four career intentional walks for Smith.
  • He hit seven home runs as an Oriole. So did Jake Fox, Jeff Tackett, and pitcher Jack Harshman, among others.
  • Smith started four games in center field for the Expos in 2001, which suggests that Felipe Alou was just making sure that everyone was paying attention. For what it's worth, Mark handled nine chances without an error.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Miguel Tejada, 2007 Upper Deck SP Authentic Power #AP-36

So the Orioles have survived a brutal 11-game, 11-day West Coast road trip with a strong 7-4 record. Their reward is a nice long...three game homestand? Then they go to Minnesota for three games, then back home again? What sort of half-crazed, gibbering primate put together this schedule? Baseball, man.

Anyway, the Royals are coming to town tomorrow night, which means a reunion of sorts with former O's Jeremy Guthrie (Thursday night's scheduled starter), Bruce Chen, and Miguel Tejada. This may be our last chance to see Miggi play in Baltimore, as the 2002 American League MVP is weeks away from his 39th birthday and clinging to a utility role in Kansas City. He's only appeared in eight games thus far (four starts), with predictable results: .313 (5-for-16) with a walk and a double.

If you ever rooted for Tejada, and especially if his gradual decline and his highly emotional nature frustrated you, I would recommend reading the long-form profile by former Washington Post reporter Jorge Arangure, Jr. that was recently published on Sports on Earth. It draws a more complete picture of the man and the athlete than I've ever come across before. It's a reminder that what we see on the field and what we read in sound-bite quotes is usually only skimming the surface.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Roberto Alomar, 1997 Pinnacle New #102

Somewhere in the excitement of the past week, I neglected to mention that Roberto Alomar was voted into the Orioles' Hall of Fame. While the well-traveled second baseman spent only three seasons in Baltimore, he made them count. Alomar was a three-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove award winner, and a one-time Silver Slugger award winner in his time in Charm City. His batting line with the O's was .312/.382/.480, with 50 home runs and 210 RBI. Roberto also has the rare honor of belonging to the Orioles' Hall of Fame, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame (the one in Cooperstown, don'tcha know). That's probably the second-most important Triple Crown in baseball.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Mike Boddicker, 1984 7-11 Coins East #9

Sorry for the cruddy scan, but that's what you get with a lenticular card that's the size of a half-dollar. The primary image that you see is Mike Boddicker in mid-windup, with a ghost of the portrait image that would appear with the flick of a wrist. These odd little discs were given away with Slurpee cups at 7-11, and my crack research shows that there were three different 24-coin sets released regionally: East, Central, and West. The East set includes four Orioles: Boddicker, Rick Dempsey, Eddie Murray, and Cal Ripken. The Central and West sets feature only Eddie. The nifty thing about the Boddicker coin is that it includes mention of his 1983 ALCS MVP honors on the back. Mike got the nod thanks to his five-hit, 14-strikeout shutout of the White Sox in Game Two. That performance is all the more remarkable when you consider that he never struck out more than a dozen batters in any regular season game in his career, and had only five double-digit strikeout games total. He picked a good time to throw the game of his life.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Vintage Fridays: Jack Fisher, 1961 Topps #463

Who taught Jack Fisher how to roll up his pants? He looks like a total goober.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Chris Davis, 2012 Topps Heritage High Numbers #H621

I took a rare off-day from posting yesterday, for the best possible reason. I asked my girlfriend Janet to marry me, and she said yes...about a dozen times. I told her that I would take that as a "yes".
The past nine-plus months with Janet have been some of the happiest of my life. We've even been to a few great Orioles games together. Our first Oriole Park date was on Friday, August 24, 2012, when Chris Davis nearly singlehandedly carried the O's to a 6-4 victory over the Blue Jays. "Crush" Davis had three of Baltimore's eight hits that night, each of them home runs, and drove in four. He's pretty much been on a roll ever since, and today was named the American League Player of the Month for April. In the first month of the 2013 season, he batted .348/.442/.728 with a league-leading nine home runs as well as 28 RBI. But I still think that I'm having a better year.