Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cal Ripken Jr., 1996 Upper Deck #115

"Young at Heart" was a subset in the 1996 Upper Deck base set that highlighted prominent veterans. If you think about it, it's kind of condescending, though. "Sure, your best days are behind you, but you're only as old as you feel!" The career dates at the bottom of the card (1981 and 1996, in this case) seem like an epitaph. But hey, at least Cal Ripken's card features an awkward photo of him standing at a podium in the middle of the diamond. Harold Baines is also featured in the subset, should you be wondering.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Jeremy Guthrie, 2009 Topps Heritage #12

Jeremy Guthrie is starting Game Seven of the World Series tonight. There's a sentence I didn't ever think I'd type. Of course, the ex-Oriole is taking the mound for the Royals in this evening's winner-take-all contest against the Giants. I'm actually rooting for San Francisco; the Orioles' ALCS sweep at the hands of Kansas City still stings, and many of my favorite non-O's (including Pablo Sandoval, Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum, and the delightfully gooberish Hunter Pence) play for the Giants. Guthrie's post-Game Three press conference in the ALCS, in which he wore a shirt that said, "These O's Ain't Royal", stirred up a lot of anger in Baltimore because it was considered to be kicking his former club while they were down. Once the smoke cleared, I was actually more disappointed to learn that the phrase on the offending shirt was a parody of a line from a Chris Brown song. Brown, for the uninitiated, is a garbage person. So I'm not going to hold some silly lifelong grudge against Jeremy for a pretty dumb clothing choice, but I'm not exactly going to cheer him on, either. When it comes down to it, I'll be pulling for the team in orange and black. Makes sense, doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mike Mussina, 2001 Fleer Triple Crown #174

This is a pretty wild photo. Only Mike Mussina's index finger is extended, and it appears as though the baseball is sailing right off of the tip of that finger. It's not a release that I'm used to seeing.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ryne Duren, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #117

Ryne Duren is one of the numerous early-era Orioles who found his fame either before or after passing through Charm City. Duren had signed with the franchise back when they were still the St. Louis Browns, in 1949. He made his big league debut in the O's inaugural season in Baltimore, relieving Don Larsen after the starter allowed three runs in two innings against the White Sox on September 25, 1954. Duren fared no better, also yielding a three-spot in two innings, though at least one of his runs was unearned. It mattered little, as the punchless Birds were blanked on five hits by Billy Pierce in their season finale, 11-0. It was their 100th loss, a nice, round number.

Duren never pitched another game for the Orioles, and eventually resurfaced with the Athletics in 1957. They traded him to the Yankees later that season, and wouldn't you know it, he had a brief burst of stardom. He was an All-Star reliever in New York in 1958 and 1959, accumulating a 9-10 record, a 1.95 ERA, and 34 saves in those two seasons. He struck out 10.8 batters per nine innings, helping to offset the 5.1 batters per nine that he walked. The bespectacled, hard-throwing righty was never that effective again, as he struggled with alcoholism throughout his career. However, he sobered up after he was through in baseball and spent the second half of his life counseling others about the dangers of addiction. He was 81 when he passed away in 2011.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hank Foiles, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #138

It's been a relatively quiet weekend on this blog because I'm on the road again. I'm in Richmond, VA (birthplace of Hank Foiles!) to see a Chikara Pro Wrestling show with some friends. Back to normal tomorrow, I suspect.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Vintage Fridays: Rich Coggins, 1974 Topps #353

This is a card that I intend to upgrade some day, especially since I intend to complete the 1974 Topps base set. You can see the shmutz (technical term) on the left border, and the print is a bit out of focus. I've been staring at the card, and I still can't tell whether it's miscut or if I just scanned it crooked. Like most things in life, a baseball card collection is forever a work in progress.

In 1974, Rich Coggins must have felt as fuzzy as he looks on this card. A year earlier, he had batted .319/.363/.468 (134 OPS+) in 110 games as a 22-year-old rookie. His nine triples were second on the club only to fellow rookie Al Bumbry's 11. He was also the Orioles' first runner-up to Bumbry (.337) in batting average. But the hits didn't fall in for Coggins as a sophomore. He had a brutal April (.154/.241/.250), and things didn't get a whole lot better from there. Aside from a .354 average in July, the outfielder didn't bat above .250 in any single month. He finished the year at .243/.299/.319 (81 OPS+), which didn't really cut it. The year ended on a particularly sour note for Coggins, as he took an 0-for-11 collar in the team's ALCS loss to the Athletics. He did steal 26 bases in 32 tries, combining with Don Baylor and Paul Blair to give the O's a trio of outfielders with at least 26 steals apiece. But Rich wouldn't get a chance to reverse his fortunes in Baltimore, as the Birds shipped him north to Montreal with Dave McNally in exchange for Mike Torrez and Ken Singleton.

As bad as 1974 seemed for Coggins, things were worse beyond Charm City. His major league career had only two more seasons and 103 games left to it, as he compiled a measly .498 OPS (43 OPS+) for three teams. I've read that a thyroid condition was to blame for his abbreviated and downward-trending career. How frustrating it must have been to be robbed of his livelihood at age 25.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Rick Krivda, 1996 Collector's Choice #11

Oh no! Rick Krivda is being forced to pitch in front of a giant American flag for some reason! Only you can save him now.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Brooks Robinson, 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Across the Years #ATY-BR

This week I've been featuring cards from a Fairfield repack box that jumped into my hand last weekend at a Target in Charlotte. I've pretty much given up on the repacks that consist of a 50, 100, or 200-card loose assortment, since they're always packed to the gills with junk wax. But the $20 boxes that feature 20 packs of recent-vintage cards still scratch that itch. I can justify buying newish Topps products by telling myself that the money's not going directly to the company (though I'm sure Fairfield is compensating them for their unsold inventory), and a buck a pack is a price I'm willing to pay.

This box consisted of a single pack of 2008 Upper Deck Spectrum, a bunch of 2013 Topps products (Allen & Ginter, Opening Day, Archives, and flagship Series Two), and to my surprise, a few packs of 2014 Topps Heritage. Each box also comes with a randomly-inserted "hit", which in this case was a 2005 Topps Update All-Star Stitches jersey relic of Morgan Ensberg. It doesn't get much more random than that, and the swatch is a lovely deep orange. I also pulled a Craig Gentry autograph from one of the Opening Day packs, which is a nifty thing to get even if I couldn't pick the guy out of a lineup. I filled a few more set needs for Heritage, and got some 2013 Topps Series Two and Opening Day Orioles that I needed. There was also this Brooks Robinson insert from last year's Allen and Ginter, a fortuitous pull from a six-card pack. On the back, it lists some notables that share Brooksie's May 18 birthday, including Pope John Paul II, Frank Capra, Tina Fey, Reggie Jackson, actor Robert Morse, and Superfly Jimmy Snuka. Truly news you can use.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Adam Jones, 2013 Topps Opening Day #76

I've been wondering what I could say about the Orioles' 2014 season that I haven't already said over the past six or seven months. It was a thrilling ride, often frustrating, but even more often delightful. I think I captured my feelings succinctly last Wednesday, while watching the O's go down fighting in their ALCS and season finale against Kansas City: I just wasn't ready for it to end. Not yet.

Including the postseason, the Orioles played 169 meaningful games in 2014. They won 99 of them, a level of success they hadn't approached since 1997. That was something of a common phrase throughout the year: "since 1997". It's little wonder, since that was the last time the O's stood atop the American League East after 162 games. Make no mistake, this team belongs to Baltimore's baseball history in a high place, as does that wire-to-wire squad. As the saying goes, "flags fly forever". The Orioles might have been stopped four wins short of the pennant, and eight shy of the big shiny trophy, but they were still division champions. That flag will hang in Camden Yards next year, and the year after, and so on. A four-game stretch of bad breaks and near misses shouldn't cancel out 162 (or 165) successful games.

In my second year as a season-ticket holder, I was fortunate to attend 25 games, including the first three of the club's four postseason home contests. It was my pleasure to witness 17 wins against just eight losses:

Rk Gm# Date Tm Opp W/L R RA Inn W-L Rank GB Win Loss Save Time D/N Attendance
1 1 Monday, Mar 31 boxscore BAL BOS W 2 1 1-0 1 Tied Britton Lester Hunter 2:53 D 46,685
11 11 Saturday, Apr 12 boxscore BAL TOR W-wo 2 1 12 5-6 4 1.5 Britton Redmond 3:39 N 30,446
23 23 Saturday, Apr 26 boxscore BAL KCR W-wo 3 2 10 12-11 2 1.5 Britton Duffy 3:09 N 34,941
33 33 Friday, May 9 boxscore BAL HOU W 4 3 19-14 1 up 0.5 Chen Williams Hunter 2:29 N 28,875
35 35 Sunday, May 11 boxscore BAL HOU L 2 5 20-15 1 up 1.5 Cosart Tillman Qualls 3:21 D 45,944
45 45 Thursday, May 22 boxscore BAL CLE L 7 8 13 23-22 3 1.5 Outman Patton Atchison 4:22 N 18,894
47 47 Saturday, May 24 boxscore BAL CLE L 0 9 24-23 3 2.5 Kluber Jimenez 3:05 D 36,873
60 60 Saturday, Jun 7 boxscore BAL OAK W 6 3 31-29 2 5.5 Gausman Gray 2:51 N 44,202
64 64 Wednesday, Jun 11 boxscore BAL BOS W 6 0 33-31 2 4.5 Chen De La Rosa 2:49 N 25,886
66 66 Friday, Jun 13 boxscore BAL TOR L 0 4 34-32 3 4.5 Hutchison Jimenez McGowan 2:44 N 44,031
77 77 Wednesday, Jun 25 boxscore BAL CHW W-wo 5 4 12 41-36 2 1.5 Hunter Webb 4:03 N 22,020
80 80 Saturday, Jun 28 boxscore BAL TBR L 4 5 42-38 2 1.5 Bedard Chen McGee 3:13 D 36,387
90 90 Wednesday, Jul 9 boxscore BAL WSN L 2 6 49-41 1 up 2.5 Fister Norris 2:50 N 35,575
92 92 Friday, Jul 11 boxscore BAL NYY W-wo 3 2 10 51-41 1 up 3.0 McFarland Warren 3:05 N 45,389
119 119 Wednesday, Aug 13 boxscore BAL NYY W 5 3 69-50 1 up 7.5 O'Day Kelley Britton 2:45 N 37,587
129 129 Monday, Aug 25 boxscore BAL TBR W 9 1 74-55 1 up 6.0 Tillman Odorizzi 2:56 N 15,516
131 131 Wednesday, Aug 27 boxscore BAL TBR L 1 3 75-56 1 up 6.0 Smyly Gausman McGee 2:44 N 20,762
139 139 Thursday, Sep 4 boxscore BAL CIN W 9 7 82-57 1 up 9.5 Hunter Parra Britton 3:26 N 21,114
146 146 Friday, Sep 12 (1) boxscore BAL NYY W-wo 2 1 11 87-59 1 up11.5 Brach Warren 3:51 D 31,871
147 147 Friday, Sep 12 (2) boxscore BAL NYY W 5 0 88-59 1 up11.5 Norris Mitchell 2:57 N 43,707
151 151 Tuesday, Sep 16 boxscore BAL TOR W 8 2 91-60 1 up13.5 Jimenez Hutchison 3:02 N 35,297
152 152 Wednesday, Sep 17 boxscore BAL TOR W 6 1 92-60 1 up14.5 Norris Happ 3:13 N 37,537
Rk Gm# Date Tm Opp
ALDS Game 1 Thursday, Oct 2 boxscore BAL DET W, 12-3 WP: Tillman LP: Scherzer
ALDS Game 2 Friday, Oct 3 boxscore BAL DET W, 7-6 WP: Brach LP: Soria SV: Britton
ALCS Game 1 Friday, Oct 10 boxscore BAL KCR L, 8-6 (10 IN) WP: Davis LP: O'Day SV: Holland
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/21/2014.

If you go further down the rabbit hole with me, you'll see that things started well with a personal four-game win streak, followed by a dip that tracked the team's first-half struggles. Then there was a 10-1 stretch (and an embedded seven-game win streak) that lasted through the season's second half and on into the ALDS, before those magical, mystical Royals gummed things up on October 10. But still, I experienced a lot of great games and moments, including:

  • Opening Day, featuring the first of Nelson Cruz's career-high 40 home runs.
  • Five walkoff wins. The heroes in those games were David Lough, Nick Markakis, Lough again (scoring on a wild pitch, and this game gets an asterisk anyway, because I reluctantly left during a lengthy late rain delay on a work night), Nick Hundley, and Jimmy Paredes. Go figure, right?
  • Kevin Gausman's first major league win as a starting pitcher.
  • Two of the team's 13 shutouts. How long has it been since the Birds had such a strong pitching staff?
  • Four of Baltimore's pivotal 13 wins over the Yankees, including both ends of a doubleheader sweep, the first twinbill they'd taken from New York in 30 years.
  • A two-homer, four-run eighth-inning rally to down the Yanks in mid-August.
  • A raucous win over the Rays that featured separate instances of back-to-back AND back-to-back-to-back home runs (a first in team history), as well as an astounding catch-and-throw by Adam Jones to take three runs away from Tampa Bay.
  • The first division-clinching win in Charm City since 1969.
  • Christian Walker's big league debut and first career hit, as well as a multi-homer game from Steve Pearce.
  • The first and second games of the Orioles' three-game ALDS sweep over Detroit's three Cy Young winners, featuring a pair of incredible eighth-inning offensive outbursts.
  • The first ALCS game at Camden Yards (all together now) since 1997. It represented the beginning of the end for the O's, but the atmosphere was surreal and the game was exhilarating, featuring a comeback from a four-run deficit before the home team succumbed in the tenth inning.
That's just from a 15 percent slice of the team's full schedule. I wasn't there for the walkoff homers from Matt Wieters, Chris Davis, and Manny Machado, or Manny's acrobatic defense in his injury-shortened season, or Caleb Joseph's five-game home run streak, or the 60th anniversary ceremonies...it goes on and on. The 2014 Orioles were a joy to watch, and I'm already missing them.