Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Brian Roberts, 2001 Donruss The Rookies #R70

The little goblins that live inside Facebook reminded me that one year ago today, I met Brian Roberts. Incidentally, Roberts is returning to the Orioles this season...in a manner of speaking. The Sunday before last, the longtime Baltimore second baseman joined MASN for the network's telecast of the O's-Rays Grapefruit League game. He will also be in the broadcast booth for an unspecified regular season game in May. I'm glad he was able to find a hobby in retirement.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Kevin Gausman, 2013 Bowman Platinum Top Prospects #TP-KG

If the Orioles' starting rotation is going to right the ship in 2016 after a subpar group effort last season, Kevin Gausman will probably need to take a big leap forward. Of course, now it looks like he might spend Opening Day on the disabled list with a balky shoulder; he just received a cortisone injection last Sunday. This is...less than ideal.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Cal Ripken Jr., 2001 Fleer Cal Ripken Jr. Career Highlights #2

Did somebody say 3,000?

Sunday night I mentioned on this blog that my wife Janet is trying to put a positive spin on her cancer diagnosis by raising funds for childhood cancer research through the St. Baldrick's Foundation. Long story short: she shaves her head this Friday (before the chemo causes her hair to fall out, because who wants to wait around for that to happen?). Folks sponsor her by making a monetary donation to St. Baldrick's. Simple. Her original $500 fundraising goal was exceeded in under two hours on Saturday night, at which point Janet boosted her target to $2,000. She topped that mark this morning, and she's not ready to stop yet. The next objective is $3,000, though the word of mouth is traveling so far and so fast, three grand might not be the end point. As challenging as it is to face a disease like this, there's something fun about watching those donations add up. For me, it's a much-needed reminder that there is still a lot of good in this world.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Adam Jones, 2008 Upper Deck Documentary #637

2008 Upper Deck Documentary: Because sometimes you just have to know if the Orioles won their 27th game in the first full year of the Dave Trembley Era. Spoiler: they did! Here's the box score from that sparsely-attended Tuesday night game in Baltimore. Garrett Olson won his first game of the season by walking the tightrope for 6.2 innings (4 H, 5 BB, but only 2 ER), rookie reliever Randor Bierd made things a bit too interesting by surrendering a two-run homer to B. J. Upton, and George Sherrill slammed the door for his 10th save. Future Oriole Jason Hammel was the loser for Tampa Bay, giving up three runs on six hits and four walks in two and two-thirds innings, and Aubrey Huff had the big hit for the O's with a two-run homer in the sixth inning. Cover boy Adam Jones had a modest game (one single in four trips to the plate), but he did throw out Rays catcher Dioner Navarro when he tried to advance to second base on a Jason Bartlett single. With the win, the 16-11 Birds maintained a first-place tie with the Red Sox. It's just the last 134 games of 2008 that proved to be Baltimore's undoing.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Cal Ripken Jr., 2001 Fleer Cal Ripken Jr. Career Highlights #24

Thank you for being a sounding board for my fears, hopes, anxieties, frustrations, and other miscellaneous emotions this weekend. To everyone who commented, your supportive words mean more than I can say. Janet is holding up remarkably well after her first chemotherapy treatment. She was a bit achy, tired, and flushed this afternoon, but felt better after a nap and a good dinner. She's had no nausea at all, and has been fairly energetic otherwise, so hopefully that's a good sign for future treatments.

Janet has also spent the weekend grappling with the reality of losing her hair. Research indicates that most chemo patients find their hair falling out about two weeks after the first treatment. That would be right around April 1, because the universe has a warped sense of humor. The oncologist suggested that Janet take control of the situation before it takes control of her, and she has found an excellent way of doing just that. Next Friday, March 25, Janet will be shaving her head, but she's not doing it for nothing. She's collecting donations to benefit the St. Baldrick's Foundation, which boosts research into cures and treatments for childhood cancers. Last night my brave wife launched her fundraising page with a modest goal of $500 in donations, posted a link on Facebook, and blew past that mark in under two hours! With nearly a week left to raise funds, she's set her sights on $2,000. She's already two-thirds of the way there, and if you'd like to pitch in, you can do so here:

St. Baldrick's Foundation

I know that Janet is anxious about going bald for the first time since she was a toddler, but I bet she's better looking with a bare head than Cal Ripken is.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Vintage Fridays: Brooks Robinson, 1969 Topps Deckle Edge #1

Brooks Robinson, as you may know, was successfully treated for prostate cancer back in 2009. I can't for the life of me find an easy segue to tonight's blog post, so I'll just get on with it.

My wife is 25 weeks pregnant, and two weeks ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

If that sentence hit you like a punch in the gut, you have some small idea of how we felt when the hospital called with the biopsy results. We were in Charlotte at the time, so we could attend the visitation and funeral for Janet's grandmother, a remarkable woman who had just passed away after 96 years well lived. (The first week of March 2016 will not be making our favorites list, to say the least.) I've been wrestling with so many conflicting emotions over the past couple of weeks, so please indulge me as I spill everything out through my keyboard.
  • I'm relieved that Janet's cancer treatment doesn't carry any risk of harm for our unborn baby. On the back end of the second trimester, the fetus has done most of its crucial development and is mostly just adding weight and length from now until it reaches full term. Janet will be undergoing chemotherapy up until delivery, and the drugs are unable to pass through the placenta. In the early going, focusing on the development of our child has helped us both to stay sane in the face of our new struggle. We've spent good chunks of each day just sitting or lying together and feeling the kid's kicks and movements.
  • I was bewildered by the diagnosis. The only cases of breast cancer in Janet's family are two generations removed - a great aunt and second cousins, all of whom were decades older than she is now. As the cherry on top of this crap sundae, so-called gestational breast cancer is diagnosed in just one of every 3,000 pregnant women. As Janet said to her OB, that's like buying a lottery ticket and finding out that you owe the lottery commission more money.
  • I'm furious that my wife has to endure this. Less than a year ago we suffered the heartbreak of a miscarriage, we walked on eggshells through the first trimester of this second pregnancy, and now that we've gotten a strong bill of health for the baby, there's a whole new set of difficulties. She's probably going to spend the coming weeks dealing with nausea and exhaustion, and is already worried about losing her hair from the chemo. After the kid is here, Janet isn't sure if she'll have the strength and/or energy to do the simplest of things, like lifting and carrying the car seat. Breastfeeding may very well out of the question, and that by itself has been a big emotional blow for her. She will have a lumpectomy just a few months after giving birth, and will undergo radiation treatment afterward. How much hardship can be dumped upon one person, especially one as giving and kind and compassionate as Janet?  This is probably a good time to mention that "God has a plan" is possibly the absolute WORST thing to say to somebody in this situation. Even if you mean well, you should know that it's okay to just say nothing, rather than to suggest that God doles out cancers and accidents and such just so we'll have obstacles to overcome.
  • I am grateful that Janet is in very capable hands. She's undergoing treatment at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, which has become our go-to for medical care. Janet's primary care, asthma and allergy, OB/GYN, and cancer treatment are all at GBMC. We've never had a bad experience there, and all of the doctors, nurses, and administrative staff are incredibly knowledgeable and compassionate. The breast surgeon spent an hour and a half meeting with us, and the oncologist gave us even more of his time. The cancer team at GBMC has gone above and beyond to help us understand why they're treating the disease the way that they are, and to make sure that we're completely comfortable with everything.
  • I'm worried. "Cancer" is such a loaded word, and it's hard not to obsess over worst-case scenarios. I'll just leave it at that.
  • Most of all, I am thankful that we have such an incredible support system. In a short amount of time, Janet and I have been overwhelmed with offers of help from family members, friends, coworkers, members of our church...prayers, thoughts, well-wishes, good vibes, and the like are all appreciated. But our friends and loved ones have also come forward with food, personal care items, gifts, and most importantly, their time. We are very lucky to know so many generous and warm people. I know that we wouldn't be able to face this challenge alone, and I'm glad that we don't have to do that.
As I finish this entry late on Friday night, Janet has completed the first of 16 chemotherapy sessions. She's doing well, though we've been led to believe that the side effects won't crop up for a day or two. But just getting started with the treatment plan is important to both of us. We sat in the infusion center for four hours today while she received those all-important cancer-killing drugs via IV, and it assuaged the fear of the unknown. As I keep telling Janet, we've got this.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Leo Daigle, 2007 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BC94

Due to the murkiness of this scan, you'll have to take me at my word: those are palm trees beyond the outfield fence in Fort Lauderdale. I'm gazing longingly at this tropical scene because I just heard that there is snow in the forecast in Baltimore for this Sunday, a.k.a. the first day of Spring. Temperatures have been around 70 for the past few days. Very funny, huh? Almost as funny as Topps/Bowman devoting "prospect" cards in multiple 2007 releases to a guy who'd been bouncing around the minors since 1998 and had already been cut loose by the Orioles.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Jose Morban, 2003 Upper Deck 40 Man #175

Thirteen years later, I'm still baffled by the Orioles' insistence upon claiming Jose Morban from the Twins after Minnesota had chosen him in major league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, and even more perplexed by their stubbornness in keeping him on the MLB roster for the entire season. Morban was a 23-year-old who had just reached high-A minor league ball in the Rangers' organization in 2002, batting .260/.326/.414 with eight homers, 66 RBI, and 12 triples. Since Morban had to stay on the 25-man roster for the entire 2003 season or be offered back to his previous team, the depth-challenged Birds might as well have playing a man down all year long. Jose started just 16 games, pinch hit 11 times, pinch ran 23 times, and made 11 appearances as a defensive sub late in games. Used sparingly at the plate, he collected 10 hits in 71 at-bats, a punchless batting line of .141/.187/.225. He did slug a pair of home runs. For trivia purposes, I will tell you that his first four-bagger was a pinch-hit solo homer off of Tampa Bay's Al Levine leading off the bottom of the ninth on April 19, 2003. It was the first of five straight O's hits, sparking a four-run rally that fell just short in an 8-7 Baltimore loss. His second homer came four months later, also at Camden Yards, against Yankee pitcher Sterling Hitchcock.

So, did the Orioles' patience with Morban pay off? I think you know the answer to that. It was back to the minors in 2004, where the infielder batted only .221/.290/.352 between Frederick and Bowie. The Birds cut him loose after that, and he had minor league stops with the Indians, Mariners, and Rangers, and also appeared in a couple of independent leagues and Dominican winter ball. He last played in 2009. Would he have had a more productive career if the O's hadn't jumped him to the majors in 2003? Maybe not, but we'll never know now.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Luis Mercedes, 1992 Stadium Club #242

Luis Mercedes looks like he could be knocked over by a fly swatter. Put some meat on those bones, son.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Robert Andino, 2012 Topps Heritage #205

I don't know what's bothering Robert Andino in this picture, but he looks almost as forlorn as he does in his infamous headshot portrait.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Vintage Fridays: Frank Robinson, 1972 Topps #100

The Orioles signed Pedro Alvarez this week, who doesn't seem to bring much to the table besides his prodigious power. He doesn't hit for average (.236 career), strikes out a ton (809 K in 742 games), and isn't even a passable defender at first base (23 errors last year...how?). But he does have something in common with Frank Robinson. Much like Robby once hit a ball clear out of Memorial Stadium, Pedro walloped a ball completely out of PNC Park last May. I have a pessimistic sense that the O's might be boom-or-bust to the extreme this year, but when they square up those balls, they should be awfully fun to watch.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Javy Lopez, 2004 Fleer Ultra #233

Javy Lopez doing sexy lunges? Javy Lopez doing sexy lunges.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Eric Chavez, 1993-1994 Fleer Excel #3

I know what you're thinking, but no, it's not THAT Eric Chavez. This is not the guy who slugged 260 home runs for the A's, Yankees, and Diamondbacks in a big league career that spanned the 1998-2014 seasons. That was Eric Cesar Chavez, born in 1977 in Los Angeles and drafted 10th overall by Oakland in 1996. THIS Eric Chavez is Ruben Eric Chavez, born in 1970 in Montebello, CA and signed by the O's as an undrafted free agent in 1992. The Orioles' Eric Chavez spent six years in the farm system, but had only 15 games at AA Bowie and none at AAA Rochester. He did hit 96 home runs in 638 games, with a single-season high of 23 for the Frederick Keys in 1994. He also played for the Albany Polecats in 1993, and yes that was really a Baltimore affiliate in the mid-90s. They played in Albany, GA in the low-A South Atlantic ("Sally") League, and had an adorable cartoon skunk logo. Dig it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Mike Devereaux, 1994 Fleer Flair #252

You might've noticed that I disappeared for a week. There's a hell of a lot going on in my world right now, and I'm trying to make sense of it all. But I can still take solace in the nonsensical, like Mike Devereaux fighting a slightly larger Mike Devereaux. Which is mightier? Little Devo's Bat of Truth or Big Devo's Fist of Justice? There are no wrong answers.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Christian Walker, 2015 Topps Finest #49

There was baseball today! Well, sort of. Ryan Flaherty batted leadoff for the Orioles in their Grapefruit League opener, the team used eight pitchers, and they settled for a 4-4 tie with the Braves after ten innings. But it's all good. Christian Walker drove in the first run of the spring for the Birds, plating Flaherty in the top of the first inning. He also had a two-run homer later in the game; after a so-so 2015 at AAA Norfolk (.257/.324/.423, 18 HR, 74 RBI), the 25-year-old is starting the exhibition slate on a positive note.