Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cal Ripken Jr., 1992 Donruss Gallery of Stars #GS-11

The Orioles' offense sputtered mightily at the end of their just-concluded road trip, as they scored a total of five runs over their last four games in Kansas City and Tampa Bay and lost three of those contests. I guess that all they needed was some home cooking. Tonight the O's used three home runs, 15 hits, and a pair of big innings to clobber the first-place White Sox, 10-2. Manny Machado broke an 0-for-17 skid with a double in the third inning, tying the game and delivering the first of four Baltimore runs in that frame. Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo immediately followed with back-to-back homers, and there was no looking back. Janet and I were in a childbirth prep class during the first half of the game, but we juuuust happened to see the score alerts pop up on her phone throughout the class, don't you know. We made it back to the car in time to hear most of the fifth-inning fireworks, most notably Manny's second career grand slam, the 75th round-tripper of his already-impressive career. The star third baseman has now passed Cal Ripken and has hit more homers prior to his 24th birthday than all but two other O's players: Boog Powell (88) and Eddie Murray (79). Machado's birthday is July 6, so he has 62 games to try and track down that pair of Charm City legends. It should be a blast to watch his best effort.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Steve Stone, 1981 Topps #520

I like to think that I'm secure in my heterosexuality, as well as my masculinity (so far as that goes). That's why I have no problem saying that in this photo, Steve Stone cuts a pretty handsome figure. Even today, 35 years along, he's aged fairly gracefully. Of course, he's also the rare gentleman who I'd say looks better clean-shaven than he does with a bit of facial hair. There are exceptions to every rule.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Brian Matusz, 2010 Upper Deck #5

It's time for a bit of the cutting-edge, insightful analysis that you've come to expect from this blog. Are you ready? Here goes:

Brian Matusz is...not very good.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Adam Jones, 2014 Panini Donruss #82

Adam Jones hasn't had a great year in the early going. He sat out a week with a rib injury, and entered tonight's game batting .211 with one home run. But tonight Adam did something he's never done in 1,253 previous big league games: he drew three walks. The Orioles' center fielder is not known for his plate discipline, to say the least. Two years ago, he walked only 19 times all season. Thankfully, the O's did not let Adam's patient streak go to waste, as they battered the Royals 8-3. Chris Davis homered as part of a four-hit night. The red-hot Mark Trumbo drove in four more runs, and leads the team with 15 RBI. Mychal Givens and Brad Brach combined to pitch 3.2 perfect innings of relief, with Givens stranding the bases loaded with a pair of strikeouts to bail out the returning Brian Matusz in the sixth inning. So the Orioles remain the only team in the American League East with a winning record, and they lead the Red Sox and Blue Jays by 3.5 games each. I'll take that.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Vintage Fridays: Milt Pappas, 1962 Topps #75

Earlier this week the Orioles family lost one of its first prominent young pitchers. Milt Pappas died on Tuesday at age 76. If you're anything less than a diehard baseball fan, you probably know Pappas as the chief outgoing player that the O's sent to Cincinnati in the Frank Robinson trade. But if you dig a little deeper, you'll see that Milt was plenty successful in his own right: in a career that spanned 17 big league seasons, he won 209 games and lost 164 with a 3.40 ERA (110 ERA+). He completed 129 of his 465 starts, including 43 shutouts, and twice made the All-Star Game as an Oriole. Most famously, he no-hit the Padres while pitching for the Cubs on September 2, 1972...but lost his perfect game bid on a full-count offering to pinch hitter Larry Stahl with two outs in the ninth. Home plate umpire Bruce Froemming ruled that Stahl had checked his swing and called it ball four, to Pappas' vociferous objection. The pitcher rallied to retire Garry Jestadt on a popup to seal the no-hitter, but it was of little consolation.

In researching tonight's blog entry, I found a great anecdote relayed by MLB.com writer (and former Orioles beat reporter) Richard Justice. On April 18, 1962, longtime Baltimore sportswriter John Steadman approached Milt prior to the righty's first start of the regular season against Mantle, Maris, and the vaunted Yankees. He asked Pappas, still just 23 years old and already in his sixth season in the majors, "How do you beat the Yankees?". In his own blunt and self-assured manner, the O's young starter replied: "If I pitch a shutout and hit a home run, we'll probably win."

Of course, Pappas couldn't quite finish the job. All he did was hold New York scoreless on two hits over six innings before turning things over to Hoyt Wilhelm. But before he left the game, Milt did hit a solo homer off of Yankee starter Bill Stafford. The O's won, 1-0.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Manny Machado, 2013 Panini Pinnacle #163

My reward for sticking out last night's 10-inning, three-hour and 22-minute slog of an Orioles game was that I got to see history. For the first time ever, the O's won on a walkoff passed ball. Caleb Joseph started the rally with a two-out double, and Joey Rickard's infield single (his third hit of the night) and Manny Machado's walk loaded the bases for Adam Jones. The center fielder took ball one from rookie reliever Joe Biagini, fouled off a pitch, and then took a second pitch. That one squirted away from Toronto catcher Josh Thole, and Caleb dashed home with the winning run. It's always fun to see somebody get doused with a celebratory cooler full of water for scoring on a catcher's mishap.

Machado continued his hot start with two hits and an RBI in addition to his two walks, as he's now kicked off the 2016 season with a 14-game hit streak and counting. At the end of last night's game, his batting line was a robust .407/.467/.796. Oh, and he's doing a fairly bangup job with the glove and arm at third base as well. Basically, I'm ready for the Birds to give Manny as much money as it takes to keep him in Baltimore for years to come.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Mark Reynolds, 2012 Topps Allen and Ginter #271

The Orioles are enjoying the rarity of back-to-back days off, thanks to yesterday's rainout in Texas and today's travel day. I'm doing my best not to dwell on the team's three losses in their past four games (gulp), so I figured I'd check in on an old friend. When Mark Reynolds signed with the Rockies during the past offseason, my imagination ran wild. Finally the ultimate all-or-nothing hacker would be calling the thin air of Coors Field home. "The Sheriff" has started eight of Colorado's 12 games so far in 2016, so let's see how many homers he's bashed...


Nope. Madison Bumgarner has a home run this year. Odubel Herrera has gone deep. Baltimore's newest darling Joey Rickard has touched 'em all. Something called Jeremy Hazelbaker has three homers, and yet Mark Reynolds is sans dingers. He's batted .250/.323/.357, with three doubles and three RBI. But he does have 10 strikeouts in 31 trips to the plate, so at least something is going according to plan.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Napoleon Calzado, 2002 Topps Heritage #347

I can find at least three things wrong with this card:

-Napoleon Calzado's first name is misspelled. I guess somebody at Topps doesn't know their French history.

-The card back lists his date of birth as February 9, 1980. According to Baseball Reference, he was actually born on that date in 1977. I assume that he was one of several Dominican players who was later found to have falsified his age so that he would be more desirable as an amateur free agent.

-The photo filter Topps used to give this card a "retro" feel has turned Napoleon into some sort of demented-looking Muppet.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Rafael Palmeiro, 2004 Topps Hit Parade #HP21

The Orioles have had a rich, six-plus decade tradition of great power hitters. But from Jim Gentile to Boog Powell, Frank Robinson to Eddie Murray, and Rafael Palmeiro to Chris Davis, nobody had ever done what Mark Trumbo did last night, in just his tenth game in an O's uniform. In the seventh inning, he was the driving force behind an immense nine-run outburst that turned a 5-1 deficit into a 10-5 lead just like that. He blasted a two-run homer after Davis walked to lead off the inning, and then came up again with two outs and two men on and crushed a three-run shot. No other Oriole hitter had ever homered twice in the same inning, and in franchise history, it hadn't been done since Ken Williams went deep twice in an inning for the 1922 St. Louis Browns. Trumbo and Davis are now tied for the American League lead with five home runs, two weeks into the season. As a team, the Birds are leading the pack with 24 dingers. So far the Baltimore offense has been as advertised.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Billy Ripken, 1990 Bowman #256

Members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, whose win in Super Bowl VII clinched a perfect 17-0 season, have a champagne toast each year when the last remaining undefeated NFL team finally loses its first game. In a similar vein, I'd like to imagine that Billy Ripken, Dave Schmidt, Jay Tibbs, and the rest of the 1988 Orioles gather and raise a glass of frosty cold Natty Boh each April when the last winless MLB team gets that elusive first W. As we approach the end of week two of the 2016 campaign, those pale American lagers are still on ice. With losses today, both the Minnesota Twins and the Atlanta Braves are still gaining on those 0-21 '88 Birds. Each team is 0-9, with anemic offenses and untimely lapses in pitching. The Braves in particular look like a serious contender to Baltimore's throne of futility. The team is in rebuild mode, having divested themselves of prime players such as Andrelton Simmons, Jason Heyward, and Justin Upton. They've also got an O's connection that can't be ignored. No less than four ex-Orioles - Jim Johnson, Kelly Johnson, Nick Markakis, and Bud Norris - are currently occupying space on Atlanta's big league roster. Jim and Bud have each lost a pair of games, combining to allow a dozen runs in 15.2 innings. Cover your eyes, folks.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

J. J. Hardy, 2014 Bowman #104

All good things must come to an end, and so it is tonight; the Orioles' season-opening seven-game win streak was snuffed out in Boston tonight. But we might as well take a moment to recognize how special that 7-0 start was. Not only was it the best start to a regular season in O's history (only bested in franchise annals by the 9-0 mark by the 1944 St. Louis Browns), it was the longest win streak for any Orioles team since 2005. I knew that the Birds hadn't ripped off many extended winning jags in recent years, but I was still surprised to hear that. A belated tip of the cap to J. J. Hardy, who took advantage of the ridiculous dimensions at Fenway Park in last night's Dolly Parton Special (9-5 final, you know?) by wrapping a pair of two-run homers around the Pesky Pole down the right field line. Any time you can squeak out a couple of sub-340-foot home runs, that's a good night at the office.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Chris Davis, 2014 Topps Power Players #PP-209

For the first time in the team's 63 seasons in Baltimore, the Orioles have started the year with six straight wins. That's 6-0.

Today brought another first: I watched a couple of innings from the dentist's chair.

By the time I got to the dentist's office, it was already the fifth inning and momentum had swung back and forth and back again. In their home opener, the Red Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the time O's starter Yovani Gallardo recorded his first out. But the Birds rallied with a five-spot off of big-bucks Boston pitcher David Price in the top of the third, via a two-run single by Chris Davis and a three-run homer by still-new Oriole Mark Trumbo. An inning later, the Sawx plated a pair to tie the score at five-all.

The O's helped keep me distracted while the hygienist scraped away at my teeth with her little metal pick (don't you just love that?). I'm grateful that the dentist's TVs were tuned to MASN, instead of their usual default setting of HGTV. They took another short-lived lead in the sixth inning while I was getting my pearly whites cleaned, thanks to back-to-back doubles by J. J. Hardy and Jonathan Schoop. But by the time I was back in my car and headed for the beltway, it was a tie game again. I'll admit that I was worried.

Thankfully the O's were just saving the rest of the fireworks until I could get home and tune back in. I wasn't sure how they would handle flamethrowing closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning, but Caleb Joseph and Manny Machado both drew walks to give Davis another shot at playing the hero. With two outs, the slugging first baseman crushed a 97mph fastball 449 feet to center field. Just what Earl Weaver ordered. Zach Britton created some tension in the home half of the ninth, serving up a leadoff homer to Mookie Betts and allowing the next two batters to reach on a single and a walk. But with David Ortiz representing the go-ahead run, Zach bore down and slammed the door. Double play grounder, strikeout of Hanley Ramirez, 9-7 final. Last year, the Orioles never enjoyed more than a half-game lead in the American League East. As the sun set this evening, they were up 2.5 games on the second-place Yankees. I'll take it.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Manny Machado, 2015 Topps #136

I'm almost ashamed to admit that I did not stick out the Orioles' 3-2 walkoff victory on Opening Day until the bitter end. My sister and I arrived at Camden Yards at about 12:30 Monday afternoon, and after wandering the stadium for two hours and witnessing the half-hour of pregame ceremonies, we were frustrated to see the tarp pulled onto the field despite a lack of rain. The O's ground crew tried to make the call based on the radar, and came up empty. We waited out a delay of an hour and 40 minutes in nothing stronger than a light drizzle, only to see the rain start in earnest almost as soon as the game actually started. Two innings in, the tarp came back out. It was 5:30, meaning that we'd already been in the ballpark for five hours, and with the intensity of the precipitation, we knew it'd be another hour at least before they would be ready to play again...if they resumed at all. So we threw in the towel. I rationalized it, as we also had tickets for Friday night's game against the Rays.

Naturally, Friday night's game was also challenging from a weather perspective. Clear skies, but it was windy with temperatures in the mid-40s. This time, we toughed it out. Janet came along with us, since extra tickets were readily available. We all bundled ourselves in our warmest orange and black finery and were treated to a fairly quick 6-1 victory, the Birds' fourth straight to start the year. Chris Tillman, T. J. McFarland, and Brad Brach limited Tampa Bay to five hits and three walks, and the O's clubbed four solo homers, including three in the span of 11 pitches in a wild fifth inning. Chris Davis kicked off the team's scoring with a towering blast to center field in the second inning, thereby earning everybody in attendance a coupon for a free Grand Slam breakfast from Denny's. The multi-homer outburst in the middle of the game came from the bats of Jonathan Schoop, Nolan Reimold, and Manny Machado. It was the second of three straight games (and counting) in which Manny has gone deep. Also of interest, Machado had a rare start at shortstop on Friday, as J. J. Hardy rested a tight calf muscle. He fielded his position without a hitch, of course. Moreover, Janet maintained her status as the team's good luck charm.
Today, the O's completed their weather-shortened two-game series sweep of the Rays with a 5-3 win. With a 5-0 record, they're the only undefeated team left in the big leagues. It matches the best start in team history, as the 1970 Orioles also won their first five games. I've heard something about that season ending in a particularly satisfying manner...

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Dylan Bundy, 2013 Bowman Platinum Gold #99

In any random game in early April, you can find plenty of things to like. Tonight:

-Ubaldo Jimenez rebounded after giving up two runs on four hits in the first two innings, completing seven frames and striking out nine...with NO WALKS.

-Caleb Joseph started at catcher and threw out two would-be base stealers. You run on Caleb at your own risk.

-The O's dug out of a 2-0 hole late in the game, thanks to a sixth-inning solo homer by Manny Machado, a two-run rally in the seventh featuring a Jonathan Schoop go-ahead single, and Rule 5 draft pick Joey Rickard's first career home run in the eighth.

-Dylan Bundy made his first major league appearance since 2012, tossing a scoreless eighth inning and protecting a one-run lead.

-The Birds won 4-2 without the services of Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, and Zach Britton. In their stead, Joseph, Nolan Reimold (2-4 with a double), and Darren O'Day (struck out the side for a rare save) filled in nicely.

-After losing all seven games against the Twins in 2015, the Birds just opened the 2016 season with a three-game sweep of Minnesota. Baltimore is currently the only American League club with a 3-0 record; Detroit won their first two games in Miami and won't play a third until tomorrow afternoon's home opener vs. the Yankees. I guess I don't mind if the Tigers start 3-0.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Vladimir Guerrero, 2012 Topps #119

When I first came across this card, I did a double take. I've repressed a fair amount of Orioles baseball from the Crap Years (1998-2011), but I was still pretty sure that Vlad Guerrero didn't shamble his way to a third-place finish in the American League batting race in 2011. Then I realized that this was a career leader board, and it made more sense. Vladi batted .313 in eight seasons in the junior circuit with the Angels, Rangers, and O's, and honestly his .290 average in 145 games in his lone season in Baltimore was better than I figured. But his .416 slugging percentage was by far a career low, which helps explain why that season turned out to be his last. Amusingly, the expanded list of active AL batting average leaders on the back of the card shows Guerrero and Derek Jeter tied at .313, and I'm shocked that Topps missed out on a chance to shoehorn Jeter onto another card. Maybe they went down to a fourth decimal place and Vladimir beat out Jeets fair and square.

Joe Mauer, whose .323 career average through 2011 has dipped to .313 after a couple of down years by his standards, finds his Twins trailing the Birds 4-2 after seven and a half innings tonight. It would be great to shut down Minnesota in two straight games after getting swept in the seven-game season series last year, so let's get those last three outs.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Adam Jones, 2014 Bowman Chrome #71

You can't beat an Opening Day win, especially a walkoff...even if it did include nearly three hours of rain delays. It was Matt Wieters that delivered the game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth, but cards featuring the O's catcher are scarce - Topps doesn't have rights to his image. So I went with Adam Jones, who made his ninth Opening Day start in Baltimore and delivered an orange cream cake to Wieters' face during the postgame interview. This circumvented the team's new "no celebratory pie-faces" edict. Jonesy is now second to Paul Blair when it comes to the most openers by an Oriole outfielder. Blair started a dozen straight Opening Days in center field for the Birds. Now the O's enjoy a day of rest tomorrow before trying to double their season win total on Wednesday.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Vintage Fridays: Rick Dempsey, 1977 Topps #189

Good news, everybody! This is the last Friday without real, live Major League Baseball games for the next six months. I have my tickets for Opening Day, and I've gone ahead and taken a long weekend for myself. So on Monday afternoon, I'll be back in Section 340 in Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the first time in 2016, watching Rick Dempsey throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Then, hopefully I'll see Chris Tillman shut down the Twins.