Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Monday, November 30, 2015

Scott Erickson, 1999 Fleer Brilliants #84

I spent the long holiday weekend in beautiful and sunny Wrightsville Beach, NC with my wife and in-laws. There were temperatures in the 70s, plentiful good food and drink, walks by the sand and surf, board games, a community craft fair, a holiday flotilla and fireworks show...and most blessed of all, three full days of leisure after a couple of downright jam-packed months.

Now it's Monday in Baltimore, and I've returned to a full work week, an overflowing list of errands, a weather forecast of fortysomething temps and rain, and Scott Erickson hurling baseballs into the murky abyss. Sounds about right.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Miguel Tejada, 2004 Fleer Ultra #227

As you may have surmised, updates to this blog will be more sporadic than usual for the foreseeable future. But I'm doing my best to pop in a few times a week as the opportunity arises. Last night, as I was busy staying up way too late (I even procrastinate at bedtime), I caught the end of the Serie de las Americas baseball tournament from Marlins Park. The Dominican Winter League's Aguilas Cibaenas club eked out a 4-3 win over the Venezuelan club Cardenales de Lara, thanks to a two-run single by Zoilo Almonte in the top of the ninth inning. This two-day tournament featured teams from both the Dominican and Venezuelan winter leagues, and the winners from Cibao were managed by none other than Miguel Tejada, making his debut at the helm. I wonder what Miggi will do for an encore.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Herm Starrette, 1965 Topps #539

Today is the 77th birthday of Mr. Herman Paul Starrette, a native of Statesville, NC. I've been through Statesville several times en route to Charlotte to visit my in-laws, which is neither here nor there. He did all right for himself in a brief big league career with the Orioles, pitching to a 2.54 ERA in 46 innings of relief from 1963 through 1965. He allowed just one home run as a major leaguer, a two-run shot to Elston Howard on August 4, 1963 at Yankee Stadium. Despite his moderate success, Herm hung up his spikes at age 27 in the midst of the 1966 season, his fourth spent primarily at AAA Rochester. But that wasn't the end of his life in baseball by a long shot. He worked as an MLB coach, minor league pitching coordinator and coach, and farm system director for a number of teams from 1967 through 2002. He coached in the O's system on two separate occasions (1967-1973 and 1988), and also worked with current Baltimore GM Dan Duquette in Milwaukee, Montreal, and Boston. I wonder if Herm might have any pointers for Duke's current pitching staff.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Willis Otanez, 1999 Fleer Tradition #500

Do you think Willis Otanez was able to watch Diff'rent Strokes in his native Puerto Rico when he was younger? Or did he have no idea what his more obnoxious teammates and opponents meant when they said, "What you talkin' about, Willis?".

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Aubrey Huff, 2008 Topps #277

In one of the more unlikely comeback stories, Aubrey Huff is hoping to lace up his cleats again in 2016. The one-time Most Valuable Oriole is now 39, has only been training for the past two months, and hasn't played since struggling with anxiety in 2012. That wasn't a great year in any sense for Huff; he batted .192/.326/.282 with a single home run in 95 trips to the plate and closed himself off from his teammates. But by his own admission, Aubrey is feeling much better after undergoing treatment and discovering a level of spirituality. If nothing else, I'm pulling for him.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Adam Jones, 2013 Topps Chipz #NNO

I'm checking back in at the end of a long, busy weekend of domesticity just to assure you that I'm not disappearing for another month. I know that I missed a few Orioles happenings during my recent hiatus; for instance, Adam Jones was selected as the Marvin Miller Man of the Year as part of MLB's annual Players Choice Awards. Adam was recognized by his peers for his contributions both on the field and in the community at large. He's the first O's player to earn the honors since the inception of the award in 1997.

Jonesy doesn't look too thrilled to be included in Topps' poker-chip themed product line, though. Maybe he thinks that the 1990s-esque tactic of spelling "Chipz" with a "z" on the end is asinine, and now he can't stop picturing Chuck E. Cheese wearing a backwards hat and fingerless gloves. Or maybe - speaking of the 1990s - these small plastic discs are reminding AJ of the pogs collectible milk caps that briefly took elementary schools by storm in his youth. He probably had an overly strict teacher who confiscated his pogs, and thinking back on that dark day is really bumming him out. Poor guy.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Mark Belanger, 1977 Topps #135

Wow. I didn't plan on a month of blogging silence, but then again, I'd forgotten what a colossal pain it is to move. Even as I write this, there are several boxes that need to be unpacked, and straggler items to be brought over from the old rowhouse. Then there's the matter of cleaning and maintenance on that house, so that we can rent it out for some extra income and...no, I'm not crying. Who said I was?

For the two and a half years that Janet and I (and our three cats and one dog) lived together under the roof of a much-too-snug 900-square-foot rowhouse, we would talk in far-off, dreamy tones about our "grown-up house" yet to come. For example: "In our grown-up house, we'll have enough cabinet space to store all of our pots and pans, instead of stacking them on top of the stove and storing them in the basement." Or maybe, "When we get a grown-up house, the master bedroom will have closets for both of us!" Yes, Janet's closet was in the spare bedroom/cat room/baseball card storage. Are you getting the picture?

Finally, enough was enough. We'd been talking for some time about growing our family, and the rowhouse was already too small for us and our four-legged creatures and all of our crap cherished belongings. There was no way another human, however tiny, would squeeze in there with all of its various and sundry accessories. In early August, we started the search in earnest. Let me tell you, I would not wish house-hunting on the worst of my enemies...not even Sidney Ponson. Each open house brought its own delightful surprises: overbearing real estate agents (Who argues with a potential buyer when they complain about smelling cigarette smoke?), slap-dash renovations, creepy basements...and wood paneling. So much paneling. I think one house in particular was sponsored by 84 Lumber. On one of our first days out, we did meet a realtor we liked enough to hire on as our buyer's agent. So she helped keep us on-task and dealt with selling agents so that we didn't have to do it ourselves.

Early on, we zeroed in on a completely renovated rancher with a fully finished basement that Janet and I both loved. After comparing and contrasting it to a few dozen more available homes, we decided to act; our agent had told us that there was another offer pending. After the three of us scrambled all night to put together a competing offer, the seller accepted the first offer - apparently without knowledge of our offer. Exactly what happened is unclear, but at the very least it was a breakdown in communication, and it was very discouraging. Have you ever been sniped on eBay? Well, it was like that, only with much higher stakes. I don't recommend it.

Though we might have found it hard to believe in the moment, our new home was still out there waiting for us, and we uncovered it just a couple of weeks later. This isn't just sour grapes, but the new place is a much better fit for us than the near-miss. It's a roomy two-story house with a finished basement, and it's not as ultra-modern as the other potential new house, but it was well-maintained by the previous owners. They lived here for thirty years and raised three children. There were little touches all over the place that made us feel like this house was meant for us: the slate patio, the storage nooks in every corner of the house, the wet bar in the basement, and of course the cat door cutouts. This is home.

(Tomorrow I'll tell you all about the joys of moving. I'm probably being sarcastic.)