Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Austin Hays, 2020 Topps Heritage #326


Gee, it only took me until July to pull an Orioles card from a 2020 product (and yes, it took me until August to post it...my bad). I'm still not buying a whole lot of new cards, but now that Topps Heritage has rolled around to the peerless 1971 design, I'm going to part with a few bucks here or there. I broke in with a blaster box from Target, and...eight packs, no O's. I got a D. B. Cooper card, though! So I had to wait for my next purchase (a hanger pack) to get my hands on current center fielder Austin Hays.

Speaking of Mr. Hays, I guess it's also time for my first regular-season recap of 2020! I mean, I don't know that "regular" is the best word to describe this 60-game summer sprint in ballparks devoid of fans but full of cardboard facsimiles, with a universal DH, expanded rosters, extra inning ghost runners, seven-inning doubleheaders (or is that 14 inning doubleheaders?), and expanded playoffs.

Anyhow, the Birds are exactly a quarter of the way through their condensed schedule, and they have a winning record at 8-7. They earned that eighth win the hard way last night, stumbling over the finish line just ahead of the host Phillies with a 10-9 victory in 10 innings. There were six ties or lead changes over the last five innings, which doesn't even take into account Baltimore pinch runner Andrew Velazquez's near-steal of home plate that was overturned by the killjoy umpires on review. Miguel Castro had his first poor outing of the summer in the eighth inning, coughing up a game-tying two-run homer to Bryce Harper followed by a solo shot by Jean Segura to put the Phils on top, 6-5. The O's bats picked him up in the ninth, as Renato Nunez's bases-loaded single knotted the score again. But it looked like they'd blown a chance to put up a crooked number when Pedro Severino popped up near the mound with two outs...until Segura raced over from third base, calling off first baseman Rhys Hoskins, only to stumble over the mound and miss the catch. With the runners moving on contact, two Orioles scored and they carried a two-run lead into the home half of the ninth...just like the eighth.

Current head honcho of the Birds' closer-by-committee approach Cole Sulser got two quick outs before losing his command and loading the bases on a single and a pair of walks. That set the stage for Didi Gregorius to pull the Phillies even again with one of the weakest bits of contact all night, an excuse-me single to very shallow center field. Sulser escaped with a strikeout of Segura, who couldn't redeem himself for his two-run gaffe in the field. That set the stage for Baltimore's second extra-inning game of the Bonus Runner Era.

Velazquez, having made the final out of the Oriole ninth inning, was placed on second base to start the tenth. Austin Hays led off and rapped a sinking line drive to center field. Philly center fielder Roman Quinn, trying to prevent Velazquez from scoring the go-ahead run, made an ill-advised lunge and came up empty. Hays streaked around the bases as the ball rolled to the wall, and Quinn's stumble-and-throw meant that Austin scored standing up. It was more of a little-league homer, but the official scorer's opinion is what really counts, and by that metric, it was the first inside-the-park homer in Birdland since Robert Andino rounded the bases against Boston nine years ago. The Orioles needed both of those runs, since Paul Fry had his own dose of ineffectiveness and poor positioning in Philadelphia's last at-bat. The lefty surrendered a leadoff Jay Bruce single to score Segura (man, that rule is goofy), and later deflected a possible game-ending double play grounder with his foot. A miscommunication between Fry and Severino led to a passed ball that put the tying and winning runs on second and third, and it took a heady play by shortstop Jose Iglesias to freeze the runners on a grounder by Quinn. Travis Lakins, Sr., one of the newest Orioles, relieved Fry and coaxed a grounder to second base by Hoskins to nail down his first career save in MLB. At long last, I exhaled.

I will admit to turning off the video feed of the game twice in late innings before tuning in to the O's radio call just in time to...miss the decisive Hays trip around the bases. But I stuck around (against my better judgment) to hear the white-knuckle exploits in the bottom of the tenth. It's been a while since I lived and died with every pitch like that, and I really did miss it.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Oriole Park at Camden Yards, 2019 Topps #441

I wonder when this stadium will be full again. At the rate we're going, it certainly doesn't look like it will even host baseball games without fans in 2020. You can thank the billionaire owners for that one.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Yovani Gallardo, 2016 Topps Stadium Club #153

Man, one look at Yovani Gallardo's weary, lightless eyes and flat grimace tells you just how excited he was to be in Baltimore. Maybe it had something to do with waiting until the end of February to get a contract - one that came in one year and several million dollars lighter after the famously unforgiving team physical raised some red flags. Or perhaps he realized that pitching in the American League East wasn't shaping up to be a beneficial career move. It's also possible that he stepped in his dog's water bowl on the way out the door that morning. We've all been there, right?

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Chris Davis, 2017 Topps Fire #113

As I continue searching for ways to fill the void left in my everyday life without baseball, and to keep my housebound preschooler from climbing the walls, I have discovered the Orioles Digital Kids' Corner. Once a week, the team's official YouTube account is updated with a video of a current team member reading a bedtime story to their children. A few days ago, we watched Chris Davis read "The Wonderful Things You Will Be" to his three young daughters. It's an endearing glimpse into the personal lives of these guys. Though if I'm being honest, it also soothes my ego a bit to know that while I wouldn't be able to hit a 95 mph fastball if you gave me a few million swings at it, I'm a much more dynamic narrator than most of the clubhouse.

Seriously. You should hear my Grover voice. (I also do a mean Cookie Monster.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Brian Sackinsky, 1995 Bowman #8

Hey, whaddaya know? The last time I featured former second round draft pick Brian Sackinsky on this blog, I said it would be a long while before he made his way back onto these digital pages. As it turns out, that was a week shy of ten years ago. Two moves, one marriage, one child, and one pandemic ago. It was also three postseason trips ago for the O's. If I could travel a decade back in time and tell my 27-year-old self  what the future would bring, that last item may have seemed even more implausible than the rest. I would also probably try to warn that young guy about one or two things that were coming in 2016.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Vintage Fridays: Sam Bowens, 1965 Topps #188

On this date in 1964, Sam Bowens had a very memorable game. The Orioles were hosting the Twins on a Friday night, and what looked like a pitcher's duel on paper never materialized. Minnesota jumped all over Steve Barber with four first-inning runs on five hits, capped by a two-run double from catcher Earl Battey. The O's immediately cut that lead in half, as Jackie Brandt delivered a two-RBI single off of Jim Kaat in the bottom of the first. Bowens hit a solo homer the following inning, but Barber gave the run back in the top of the third when Harmon Killebrew drove in Vic Power with a single. Brandt scored on a wild pitch in the fifth, making it 5-4 Twins. The bullpens took command for a while, as Wes Stock and Dick Hall combined for five shutout innings of relief for Baltimore. Gerry Arrigo replaced Kaat to start the sixth, and was still on the mound as the Birds took their last swings in the home ninth. Brooks Robinson and Boog Powell each struck out, leaving it all up to Bowens. The rookie right fielder belted an Arrigo offering over the left field fence for the game-tying home run, his second of the game and third extra-base hit overall (he'd also doubled in the fourth inning). Bill Fischer relieved Arrigo for the Twins, but had a short and unsatisfying night of work: O's catcher John Orsino gave the Memorial Stadium crowd a thrill with a walkoff four-bagger, likewise to left field. Orioles win, 6-5, improving to 21-12 and maintaining their half-game lead atop the American League.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Cal Ripken, Jr., 2007 Upper Deck Holiday Inn #4

And so we end this week's bizarre mini-series the only way we possibly could: with Cal Ripken giving us a come-hither glance and offering up his hotel rewards card. At least it's not his room key, right?

Okay, I've had a lot of fun at the expense of Junior and the Holiday Inn over the past few days. In the interest of fairness and full disclosure, I do have to let you know that my sister-in-law works for Choice Hotels. There, now I feel better.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Cal Ripken, Jr., 2007 Upper Deck Holiday Inn #2

This is it: the silliest card in the prestigious four-card mini-set. I laughed out loud when I first saw it on Friday afternoon, and for that reason alone, I tip my cap to Max. How do you convince a first-ballot Hall of Famer like Cal Ripken, Jr. to pose with two armfuls of pillows and such a goony, slack-jawed expression on his face? Somebody in an advertising company truly earned their keep with this.

Have you ever even heard the phrase "Pillow Menu" before? Oh, and just wait for the tag line on the back:

"After 2,632 games in a row - I deserve a choice of pillows."

Yeah, you tell 'em, Cal! You will not be denied the pillow of your preferred size and/or firmness, like some common Billy!

I don't know where we can possibly go from here, but the promo set MUST CONTINUE. Until tomorrow...

Monday, May 18, 2020

Brooks Robinson, 1992 Ziploc #5

Last night I promised more goofy cards featuring Cal Ripken hawking Holiday Inn. However, I put those plans on hold when I realized that today was Brooks Robinson's 83rd birthday. I find myself looking for silver linings more than ever right now, and every day that Brooks Robinson is with us, the world really is a better place for it. You'd be hard pressed to find someone with an unkind word to say about Brooksie.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Cal Ripken, Jr., 2007 Upper Deck Holiday Inn #1

Max really outdid himself by sending me the oddest of oddball sets. This is the first of four cards, all of them featuring a balder, heavier, 46-year-old Iron Man awkwardly shilling for the Holiday Inn. But hey, now I know that you can listen to MLB games for free when you stay at a Holiday Inn...or at least, that was the case 13 years ago. Oh, and if you don't think I'm entering the code on the card back to see if I can win a trip to the 2007 World Series...even though I recall it being kind of a snooze.

P. S.: Guess what I'm posting for the next three days.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Vintage Fridays: Duane Pillette, 1955 Bowman #244

Mail Day! By gum, it's been a while. I'm not the only old-timer who's returned to card blogging while housebound. Earlier this week, Max of the Starting Nine blog touched base to let me know that he had some odds n' sods to send my way. I jumped at the offer, and today a messy mix of stuff (Max's words, not mine) arrived by post. My absolute favorite card in the bundle was this 1955 Bowman card of Duane Pillette, the ace starter of the inaugural Oriole squad. There wasn't stiff competition for that title, as the card back notes that his team-best record was 10-14. Still, that's a .417 win percentage for a team that only won 35% of their games overall. His 3.12 earned run average (115 ERA+) was 12th best in the American League, to boot. There were several other cards in Max's package that I can't wait to share with you, so stay tuned.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Jeff Robinson, 1992 Score #186

Looking at Jeff Robinson's right arm, contorted with his palm facing outward, the muscles in his forearm strained and taut, I'm thinking again about just how abnormal the act of pitching a baseball is. As if to underscore this point, the text on the card back mentions a circulatory problem in his fingers that interrupted his sophomore season, back in 1988 with Detroit. That year, he was 13-6 with a 2.98 ERA (128 ERA+) and six complete games, but his 24th and final outing of the season came on August 23. He didn't come close to matching those numbers again, and battled an assortment of maladies over the next two seasons, most notably a stress fracture in his right forearm in 1990. After passing through three organizations in 1992 (Texas, Pittsburgh, and back to Detroit), he was out of baseball by age 31. Sadly, he passed away in October 2014 after suffering from undisclosed health issues.


Friday, May 8, 2020

Vintage Fridays: Mike Adamson and Roger Freed, 1971 Topps #362

Rookies? Yes. Stars? Not so much. Mike Adamson had the rare honor of being drafted in the first round twice: 18th overall by the Phillies in 1965 out of high school, and first overall by the Orioles in the secondary phase of the 1967 draft after a stopover at USC. Within a month of the draft, he debuted in Baltimore, but got battered in three appearances and was sent to Rochester. That was the pattern again in 1968 and 1969 - success at AAA, and rough sledding in brief stints in the majors. After posting a 4.36 ERA and 1.44 WHIP while splitting 1970 between starting and relieving duties with the Red Wings, he really backslid in 1971, allowing 102 hits in 74 innings in stops at Rochester, AA Dallas-Fort Worth, and Milwaukee's AAA Evansville club. Having put up a 7.91 ERA that season, Adamson walked away from pro baseball at age 24.

Roger Freed's stock was high entering the 1971 season. As part of a loaded Rochester squad that included Don Baylor and Bobby Grich, Freed was the 1970 Player of the Year for the International League. He earned those honors with a .334/.427/.561 triple slash, 24 home runs, and a league-best 130 RBI. The O's rewarded Freed with a September callup, and he saw action in four games, collecting two hits and three walks in 17 trips to the plate. Those would be his only four games as an Oriole, with his path to the majors blocked by Frank Robinson, Don Buford, Paul Blair, Merv Rettenmund, and Baylor. That December, the Birds dealt him to the Phillies for Grant Jackson and a pair of reserve outfielders. Freed scuffled in two seasons in Philadelphia, batting .222/.321/.335 with a dozen homers and 55 RBI in 191 games. He spent the rest of his career as a journeyman, passing through the Indians, Reds, Expos, and Cardinals organizations, and even spending 1975 in Monterrey, Mexico. He briefly found a role in St. Louis as a pinch hitter and backup first baseman to Keith Hernandez. In 95 plate appearances in 1977, he batted .398/.463/.627, and was 9-for-23 off the bench. Roger's overall performance in 1978 was less impressive (.239/.297/.370 in 101 PA), but he excelled again in a pinch (11-for-29 as a PH). Freed passed away in 1996 at age 49 due to a heart condition.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Gregg Olson, 1992 Studio #128

YouTube continues to be my baseball lifeline in 2020. Today's special took me back to July 11, 1990, as the Orioles hosted the Royals for an ESPN Wednesday Night Baseball telecast. It was an odd one-game series, wedged in after the All-Star Break to make up one of the games lost in the brief lockout at the beginning of the season. The broadcast team was a fresh-faced Gary Thorne, Norm Hitzges, and (ugh) Mike Lupica. Thankfully, Lupica was the third man, and didn't talk as much as you might fear. If you're familiar with Gary Thorne's work, you won't be surprised that he wryly referred to the game as a "one-night stand". Though there's an inning or so missing near the beginning, this was a surprisingly fun little midseason game between two scuffling clubs. George Brett slugged three doubles for Kansas City, one of them marking his 2,600th career hit. Bo Jackson (pre-traumatic hip injury) made an incredible sprinting catch in center field to deny Joe Orsulak, with his momentum causing him to literally run up the outfield fence in three steps. If you don't feel like watching two-and-a-quarter hours of a 30-year-old VHS transfer, skip to 31:20 for that play.

Things didn't look good for the O's early in this game, as a Randy Milligan error at first base opened the floodgates in the top of the third. In the blink of an eye, a 2-0 lead turned into a 5-2 deficit. Bob Milacki couldn't make it through the inning, as KC strung together five straight two-out hits off of Milacki and reliever Brian Holton. But the rest of the Baltimore bullpen held the line, with Ben McDonald (in his ninth career game), C*rt Sch*ll*ng, Mark Williamson, and Gregg Olson combining for six scoreless innings. Meanwhile, the Oriole bats clawed back with three runs in the home half of the fourth to tie it, but the score remained deadlocked until the bottom of the seventh. Facing Maryland native Steve Farr, the Birds played a bit of small ball, turning four singles and a Brad Komminsk sac bunt into two runs. Orsulak had the go-ahead knock, and Milligan provided the insurance run. Manager Frank Robinson probably felt secure handing the ball to Olson with a 7-5 lead, but the Otter made it interesting by loading the bases in the ninth. He did strike out the side in the midst of all of that drama, with third base umpire Don Denkinger ringing up Willie Wilson on a borderline check swing to end the game. It was the 18th save of the year for Olson, and he preserved the first career win for Schilling, who retired all six batters he faced in the sixth and seventh innings. There would be 215 more W's for Schilling by the time he hung 'em up in 2007, but this relief appearance marked his only victory in orange and black. No matter how odious Curt may be as a person, it is noteworthy that this particular game is available to watch online.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Wayne Gross, 1986 Topps #173

I hope everyone is continuing to find ways to take care of yourselves (mentally and physically) and stay connected to loved ones as we creep up on two months of stay-at-home efforts. We had a very good weekend on those fronts, and the beautiful weather here in Baltimore helped a lot.

Friday marked seven years since I proposed to Janet, and seven years since she said yes. (Spoiler alert!) In our ongoing effort to support local business, I ordered some festive beverages from DuClaw Brewing and a birthday cake-flavored ice cream pie from the Charmery, all for curbside pickup. After dinner and dessert, we put Finn to bed and dialed in to a Zoom call with more than a dozen friends from my college theatre department. We came together to read and act out a series of thirty short - two minutes on average - comedic scenes that we'd originally performed as undergrads back in the early 2000s. We had a blast, and spent a few hours afterward reminiscing over drinks. The plan is to do it again soon with a more extensive cast. In the meantime, I'll try to figure out how it's possible that I went away to college TWENTY years ago.

Saturday we took a picnic lunch to a nearby park, and then let the little man splash around in the creek until it was time to head home. Later that evening, Janet had a video chat with three of her oldest friends, and we played some online party games with them.

As for Sunday, well...I spent most of the afternoon attacking the jungle grass on the far side of our property with a weed whacker. So that wasn't fun, but I got some fresh air and sun and finally made a dent in the Effectively Wild podcasts that have been piling up since my daily commute disappeared. Plus, we still had some ice cream pie left for dessert.

Today, it was back to the teleworking grind, but our "new normal" weekend filled my tank for a while. And my latest old ballgame discovery on YouTube helped me pass a couple hours: an HTS broadcast of an Athletics at Orioles ballgame from June 2, 1985. I won't spoil the outcome, but I will say that Wayne Gross played a surprisingly prominent role.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Austin Hays, 2018 Topps Opening Day#125

Just tossing up a quick post before bed, since I'm still working at incorporating blogging back into my routine. So please enjoy this video of Austin Hays robbing Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. of a home run last September 19. As you'll note from the bare expanse of green seats in center field, Baltimore fans got the jump on social distancing.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Billy Ripken, 1993 Upper Deck #181

Hey, it's been a while since I've sleuthed out a baseball card photo, so let's jump on it. Orioles at Oakland, Billy Ripken attempting to turn the double play with Dann Howitt sliding into second base. My first stop is Billy's 1992 game log on Baseball Reference. He played four road games against the A's that season, all starts at second base. The two later-season options (August 31, September 1) didn't include Howitt, so that narrows it down to May 30 and 31. Incidentally, Howitt was erased at second on a twin killing in each of those games, but the play-by-play from May 31 indicates that Cal Ripken made the putout. So, May 30, 1992 is our winner.

It was a Saturday afternoon game, with the marquee pitching matchup of Jose Mesa vs. Joe Slusarski. Two first-inning Baltimore runs were matched by a pair of Oakland tallies in the second, with Dann Howitt himself delivering an RBI single for the tying run. Then Mike Bordick tapped a ground ball to O's third baseman Leo Gomez, leading to the double play that is captured on this very card. The teams remained deadlocked until Brady Anderson put the Birds on top with a solo home run in the top of the fifth. The visitors extended the lead with a four-run outbreak in the sixth via two more homers - a leadoff solo shot from Sam Horn and a three-run blast by Chito Martinez. That 7-2 cushion didn't last long, though. The Athletics crawled back with two-spots in the seventh and eighth innings each; Randy Ready's pinch hit two-run homer off of Mike Flanagan closed the gap to a single run and necessitated a six-out save from Gregg Olson. Fortunately, the Otter was up to the task, pitching around two hits and a walk to secure his 11th save. O's win, 7-6. "The more you know..."

Friday, April 24, 2020

Vintage Fridays: Brooks Robinson, 1969 Topps #421

There's a few things to unpack with this Brooks Robinson All-Star card. First things first: yes, it's very well-worn. It's entirely possible that somebody tried to make an origami crane out of ol' Brooksie. You might also notice that his cap looks pretty old-fashioned. Indeed, the Orioles last wore those black caps with the chicken-scratch-looking bird way back in 1965. As with many other cards in the 1969 set, this presumably has something to do with the Marvin Miller-orchestrated player boycott of Topps photographers that spanned the 1967 and 1968 seasons. (More information here.) Lastly, there's the background image. When I first grabbed this card from the binder tonight, I thought it was an early example of an action photo on a baseball card. But a closer look reveals an odd painting effect. Your guess is as good as mine. The back of the card is a piece of a photo puzzle of legendary Red Sox left fielder Carl Yastrzemski. It's most of his cap, with the familiar Boston "B". I'm not including a picture here, because it's just a disembodied hat. I have my limits.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Sebastian Vader, 2014 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP72

It's been ten years since the Orioles drafted Sebastian Vader with their 18th-round draft pick, and I'm still disappointed that someone with such a first-rate name didn't make it to the major leagues. Vader spent six seasons in pro ball, all in the Baltimore organization, but never so much as reached AA. He totaled just 80 games (68 starts), with a 24-24 record and a 3.31 ERA. Dr. Google tells me that the righty from California dealt with shoulder problems in 2015, and retired the following spring, leaving the Orioles' promotional team lamenting the Star Wars tie-ins that could have been.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Mike Bordick, 2001 Topps Chrome Retrofractor #T36

It's hard to believe, but it was just a shade over two and a half months ago that the Orioles held their first-ever Birdland Caravan, a successful series of public events featuring players, coaches, team executives, and former players. It was a sendoff of sorts as the team prepared to head down to Spring Training, and was intended to fill some of the void caused by the discontinuation of the traditional FanFest event. I'd been attending FanFest each year since 2010, but I can't say I was too sorry to see it go. There's only so much time you can spend weaving around masses of people in the Convention Center, especially when you've got a toddler to wrangle. So the Caravan seemed like a good way to scratch my offseason baseball itch when it was announced. O's personnel and craft beer? You don't have to ask me twice. I took a look at the itinerary, and decided to drive an hour south to check out Calvert Brewing on Saturday, February 8. We'd originally intended to make it a family outing, but Finn ended up catching strep throat, and Janet graciously offered to stay home with him so that I could go solo and not miss out.

Now, I'm not telling secrets when I say that the Birds haven't played the best brand of baseball in the past few years, and are not expected to be competitive in the near future. Camden Yards has been sparsely populated by fans, and nobody would blame we Baltimore rooters for a lack of enthusiasm. But when I pulled into the building complex that hosts Calvert Brewing on that Saturday afternoon, I had to go to the far end of the lot to find a parking space. I walked into the taproom and there was a crush of people from one end of the room to the other, a throng of orange and black. I told my wife later that it was just as well that she'd stayed home; she's an introvert through and through.

I wriggled my way through to the bar, where I could see team VP and GM Mike Elias (center in above photo), slugger Trey Mancini (right, wearing the hell out of a denim jacket), and former shortstop and current broadcaster Mike Bordick (left above) pouring drinks for the customers. I was looking forward to possibly meeting Brian Roberts again, and thanking him for the bat that he autographed for Janet back when she was battling cancer, but he wasn't able to make it for whatever reason. I did manage to get Bordick's attention, and ordered a Shake Your Tree (the most important thing about craft beer is thinking up ridiculous names that are as embarrassing as possible to say out loud). Now I can't say that I've never been served a pint by the top defensive shortstop of 1999.
I stepped out to get some fresh air and a chicken gyro from the food truck, then made my way back to the brewing tanks, where there were a few tables and games set up. It was less crowded there, which gave me a close-up view of infielder (and surprise owner of a .305 batting average in 2019) Hanser Alberto, who was playing cornhole with some small children. A little later, he took his own turn at tending bar, and paused to take a few selfies with fans as things were winding down. I got my own photo with Hanser, and told him that I was sure he would win the batting crown in 2020. He responded with a thumbs-up, so I think that confirms it. Now we just need to actually have a season of some sort.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Scott McGregor, 1986 Donruss #291

There's something reassuring about picking up a stack of ugly-ass mid-eighties Donruss cards 35 years later and learning new things. From flipping this card over and reading the back, I discovered that Scott McGregor's middle name is "Houston". He grew up in California, so he wasn't named after his hometown. I've also learned that as of 1986, Scotty was living in Phoenix, MD - 14 miles away from my current domicile. Oddly enough, he was also a switch hitter. He never batted in the regular season, but did step to the plate 11 times in World Series play. He went 0-for-9, but did walk twice and score once. So that's a .182 on-base percentage...which is probably better than I managed in little league.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Vintage Fridays: Bob Nieman, 1957 Topps #14

I would like to apologize to Bob Nieman on behalf of whoever gouged up his face in the fifty or so years before this card came into my possession. Surely, that's no way to treat the first Oriole regular to ever bat .300 in a season. As you may be able to see, Nieman also wore number four, one of the few players to do so before Earl Weaver claimed it for perpetuity. (Hall of Famer/Brooks Robinson mentor George Kell was another, and first baseman "Diamond Jim" Gentile was the most well-known.) Additionally, Bob worked for several big league clubs as a scout from 1967 through 1984. He had a hand in the Indians drafting and signing John Lowenstein in 1968, incidentally.

One last note: I swear that I chose this card at random, but once I started doing the subsequent research, I found out that Bob Nieman died in 1985 age 58 in...Corona, CA. There are coincidences everywhere when you're looking for them.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Dwight Smith, Jr., 2019 Topps National Baseball Card Day #BAL-7

At least there's one current member of the Orioles who is playing baseball this month.

Outfielder Dwight Smith, Jr. (yes, I remember his father playing in Baltimore in 1994, and suddenly all of my joints ache) is the team representative in MLB The Show's Players League, a round-robin video game competition with 30 major league players facing off against each other. Games are three innings in length, and are played in four-game chunks on pre-scheduled nights, with the contests streamed across several various social media hubs. There will also be a "postseason" for the top eight finishers. Each team's home city receives a $5,000 donation to a local chapter of the Boys & Girls Club, with an additional $25,000 going to the designated Boys & Girls Club in the league winner's home city. So it's all happening for a good cause, besides giving some baseball-starved athletes and fans a diversion.

Anyway, last night was Dwight Junior's Players League Debut, and it was a strong one. He won three of the four games he played, with victories against Tommy Kahnle's Yankees (6-5), Hunter Pence's Giants (2-0), and Cole Tucker's Pirates (1-0). The lone blemish on his record was a 5-4 heartbreaker to Blake Snell's Rays that featured a Mychal Givens blown save in the third inning and a Mike Zunino walkoff homer in the fourth. And wouldn't you know it, Smith hit a pair of home runs and drove in three runs playing as himself. He also went deep on behalf of teammate Trey Mancini twice, and once each for Anthony Santander and Chris Davis.

If you'd like to read a more detailed recap of Dwight Smith, Jr.'s successful gaming evening, Paul Folkemer has you covered at Camden Chat. If you want to live vicariously through Dwight himself, his next quartet of mini-games will take place on Thursday night, beginning at 9:00 Eastern.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Dylan Bundy, 2018 Topps Big League #380

This was a set I really liked. It was geared towards kids, with a lower price, a simple and colorful design, and a few fun features. For example, some great former players were peppered throughout the set, and there was a Ballpark Landmarks subset that included Oriole Park's own B&O Warehouse.

Speaking of the Warehouse, there have now been 28 seasons of baseball played at Camden Yards, and nobody has hit a home run that struck the edifice on the fly. It's certainly possible - 439 feet down the right field line - but Ken Griffey, Jr.'s moonshot in the 1993 Home Run Derby stands alone all these years later. If Dylan Bundy didn't serve one up in 2018, when he led the American League with an ignominious 41 homers allowed in 31 starts, maybe it's tougher than it seems.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Cal Ripken Jr., 2001 Fleer Cal Ripken Jr. Career Highlights #21

Cal Ripken, Jr. is in the news again this week, because that guy just can't stop hogging the limelight. Okay, call off your dogs, I swear I'm joking. In actuality, Junior joined Twitter on Tuesday. I wouldn't recommend doing such a thing myself, but his intentions were good: he's promoting the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation's "Strike Out Hunger" fundraiser, which is a partnership with Feeding America that will provide food for families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you want to follow Cal on social media, his username is @CalRipkenJr, oddly enough. He is not stingy with the doggie photos, and his golden doodle Nash is by all appearances a very good boy.

The same day that the Iron Man logged on to the Twitter hellscape, ESPN rebroadcast his record-breaking 2,131st consecutive game, seeing as how they had an opening in their schedule. Ripken claims that it was the first time he'd watched it start-to-finish since that landmark night of September 6, 1995. He told the Sports Junkies that he didn't want to mess up his own memories of it, which I can understand.“Once you start seeing things, you’re like, ‘Oh, that guy was on my team?’ Then you start looking up rosters.”

I mean, if I were Cal, I'd also probably try to forget that Manny Alexander was the other half of the double-play combo the day that I broke Lou Gehrig's record. Until you see the video footage, you can just keep fudging the timeline and pretend that it was Roberto Alomar.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Brian Burres, 2007 Upper Deck #3

Happy 39th birthday to Brian Burres, the second-best lefty pitcher to ever appear on an Erik Bedard card. Brian last appeared in the majors with the Pirates in 2011, but he didn't throw his last pitch in pro ball until 2016. Unbeknownst to me (at least until I rung it up at Baseball Reference just now), Burres plied his trade for three seasons with the Atlantic League's Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. In 63 games (59 starts), he had a 22-20 record with a 3.34 ERA. His 1.35 WHIP was a bit less impressive, but he allowed only 21 home runs in 339.1 innings. It's just another reminder that even the major leaguers with the least remarkable resumes are still great athletes.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Chris Davis, 2015 Topps Allen and Ginter #170

Somebody at Topps saw a prototype of this card and said, YES. This is what I want. Do you know the creepy portraits where it looks like the eyes are following you? We've captured that. Chris Davis' baleful baby blues will bore a hole right through your soul. Print it!

Friday, April 3, 2020

Vintage Fridays: Bobby Grich, 1975 SSPC #388

As I mentioned in a recent post, I happened to find a copy of an old ABC “Monday Night Baseball” broadcast (complete with the original commercials!) on YouTube. It featured the Orioles hosting the AL West-leading Royals at Memorial Stadium on August 30, 1976. Warner Wolf and Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson, who had just retired at the end of 1975, were the announcing team. Because I miss baseball just this much, I decided to watch the whole thing and time-stamp my observations. I did not look up the box score ahead of time, so I’m going in spoiler-free. Follow along if you so desire. Enjoy!

1:22 – Lineup introductions are handled by the players themselves, with the Kansas City starting ten (including the DH) parading on-camera one-by-one and awkwardly mumbling their name, position, and hometown. The highlight is the camera suddenly panning down from 5’11” second baseman White to 5’4”, 140-pound shortstop Freddie “the Flea” Patek.

2:57 – As the Orioles’ defense is shown warming up, Wolf mentions that Doug DeCinces, in his first full season in the majors, is starting at third as the heir apparent to Brooks Robinson. It’s wild to think that Brooksie was still hanging around at the time.

5:20 – Left fielder Jim Wohlford steps into the box as the first batter of the game, facing lefty Rudy May. The on-screen graphics show each batter’s age, hometown, and years of big league experience, as well as basic batting stats (AVG, HR, RBI). It’s a very different information set than we’re used to now.

5:58 – Wolf points out that Amos Otis completely smears away the right-handed batters’ box as he comes to the plate. No respect for the grounds crew!

7:16 –After Otis singles up the middle, George Brett comes to bat, carrying a .486 (17-for-35) average against the O’s. Ouch. Fortunately, he bounces into a force play at second base.

11:42 – Miller High Life ad: “If you’ve got the time, we’ve got the beer!”

14:17 – 35-year-old Tommy Harper is the DH and leadoff batter for Baltimore, and an on-screen graphic notes that the Birds are his eighth team (Reds, Indians, Pilots, Brewers, Red Sox, Angels, A’s, O’s). They’ll also be his last, as he bats .234/.318/.338 in just 46 games on the year.

15:42 – Reggie Jackson takes his first at-bat, receiving a smattering of boos from the sparse Monday night crowd that is noted on play-by-play. Reggie is quoted as saying that he doesn’t mind being booed, because “it means they’re paying attention to me”. That seems on-brand. He drops a single over the infield and promptly steals second base before Lee May strikes out to strand him there.

19:52 – Vintage commercial update: Bob Hope for Texaco Motor Oil, with “In the Summertime” by Mongo Jerry as the music accompaniment.

24:00 – There are a ton of invisible fans sitting in the yellow bleachers. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear the Baltimore fans were practicing social distancing.

24:46 – Back-to-back doubles by Al Cowens and Frank White give KC an early lead.

25:52 – Bob Gibson claims that Patek’s response to being asked what it’s like being the smallest player in the major leagues is that “It’s better than being the smallest player in the minor leagues.” Can’t argue with that.

30:16 – Wild batting splits for Kenny Singleton: .204 righty, .288 lefty.

34:50 – It’s reported that the Royals call manager Whitey Herzog “Stein”, short for “Frankenstein”. That one’s new to me!

36:40 – With Kansas City eight games ahead of Oakland in the West and the Yankees 11.5 up on the Orioles, the ALCS seems like a foregone conclusion. It’s noted that the Royals took the season series from New York, 7-5. Of course, the Yanks would scrape by in five games in the postseason series (which was then best-of-five).

41:52 – Wohlford is caught stealing second base by O’s catcher Dave Duncan, who is playing out the last season of his 11-year MLB career. He should get into coaching or something.

43:28 – There’s an odd ad: Fred Lynn and Jim Rice urging youngsters to join the Navy.

47:15 – Since July 1, Duncan is 9-for-71 (.127)…make it 9-for-72, as he pops out. I’ve got a hunch why this was his last year.

48:58 – Mickey Mantle hawking an athlete’s foot treatment (NP-27). I guess a paycheck is a paycheck.

51:08 – It’s the always-fun May-to-May putout, as Rudy corrals a comebacker from league-leading hitter Hal McRae and Lee digs out a low throw at first base.

53:16 – John Mayberry is credited with 12 game-winning hits for the Royals. I had assumed that the oft-derided “GWRBI” statistic hadn’t come about until the 1980s.

54:58 – Bob Gibson claims to have been used as a pinch runner “lots of times”, until he got injured doing so and the practice was discontinued. His career splits do show that he scored 14 runs as a pinch runner.

1:01:28 – We see that Reggie has tied an American League record in 1976 with a six-game home run streak. As you may know, that record was broken in 1987 by Don Mattingly, who ended up tying Dale Long’s MLB record with homers in eight straight games (Ken Griffey, Jr. tied Mattingly in 1993). Reggie’s streak is still an Oriole record, tied by Chris Davis in 2012.

1:05:54 – The Birds are finally on the board in the bottom of the fourth, as Bobby Grich singles, Lee May doubles him to third base, and Singleton brings him home with a groundout. We’re tied 1-1.

1:10:45 – Incredible backhand in the hole by Mark Belanger, who guns it across the diamond to put out KC catcher Buck Martinez by several steps. He didn’t last 18 years in the majors with a .580 OPS for no reason.

1:15:14 – Just like that Kansas City takes the lead back, thanks to a two-out double by Wohlford and a seeing-eye single by Amos Otis. 2-1.

1:17:16 – As Dave Pagan warms up in the Oriole bullpen, we see Mike Cuellar (sans hat) shuffling around behind him.

1:18:14 – Good gravy. Whose idea was it to let Pete Rose sing in an Aqua Velva spot?

1:19:11 – A pregame interview with KC starting pitcher Andy Hassler is shown, discussing his 18-game losing streak, which spanned two seasons and wasn’t snapped until a few weeks prior to this game, shortly after he’d been traded from the Angels.

1:27:50 – Another pre-recorded segment, as Rudy May tells the story of tripping over his dog in the middle of the night and breaking BOTH arms. Man’s best friend, indeed.

1:30:11 – Some great curmudgeonly commentary from Gibson, as he retells the story of a Roberto Clemente comebacker that broke his leg, and somehow spins it into a defense of raising the mound back to its 1968 height. Then Warner Wolf mentions Gibson returning to pitch against Boston in the World Series, and needles the future Hall of Famer about giving up a home run to opposing starter Jose Santiago in Game One in Fenway Park. Bob shoots back, insisting it was a pop-up that sailed over the cozy fence in Boston’s home park. I can see why he’d be so salty, as that solo homer was all that kept Gibson from a complete game shutout.

1:37:30 – Leading off the bottom of the sixth, Harper draws the first walk of the game for either team.

1:39:32 – Grich blasts a double to the center field wall, scoring Harper with the tying run. 2-2. As Rick Dempsey would say, walks will kill you every time.

1:42:02 – Lee May booms another deep fly ball, caught by Otis. Grich (who had moved up on a Reggie Jackson grounder) tags from third and scores, giving the O’s a 3-2 lead. It’s Lee’s 84th RBI, tying him with the Yankees’ Chris Chambliss for the league lead.

1:56:04 – With DeCinces batting, Wolf talks about how he was almost traded to the Mets prior to the season for Rusty Staub. I’d never heard that, either!

2:02:26 – With one out in the bottom of the seventh, the Orioles finally chase Andy Hassler with a Paul Blair single. That moves DeCinces, who walked to lead off the frame, to second base. Mark Littell enters from the bullpen on…the cart!

2:07:00 – On Littell’s second pitch, DeCinces is thrown out at third base on an attempted double steal. Now you know why Earl Weaver didn’t like small-ball.

2:11:14 – Tony Muser, future manager of the Royals, enters the game for Baltimore at first base, replacing Lee May.

2:14:02 – As Warner Wolf notes, back-to-back flyouts to Ken Singleton mean that Rudy May has held KC’s two most dangerous hitters (Brett and McRae) to a combined 0-for-8, while giving up nine hits in all (UPDATE: 11 hits).

2:17:43 – May escapes the eighth inning, stranding two runners after Frank White hits a tapper to Grich. Moments earlier, White had been admonished by home plate umpire Joe Brinkman for having too much pine tar on his bat. Do you think George Brett was paying attention?

2:31:00 – Bob Gibson cracks that Cookie Rojas “has been 37 years old for about 37 years”, but the Royals’ pinch hitter gets the last laugh with a single. That’s 12 hits allowed by Rudy May in eight and one-third innings.

2:34:05 – Amos Otis gives the ball a ride, but Paul Blair barely moves before snagging it for the final out. O’s win 3-2 (box score and play-by-play), despite being outhit 12-5. Rudy May gets the complete game win to improve to 11-9 with a 4.01 ERA. Despite scattering those dozen hits, he didn’t walk a single batter. He also only had three strikeouts, so he kept the defense on their toes.

2:34:58 – Marvelous Marv Throneberry sighting! A Miller Lite commercial. That seems like a good place to end this.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, 2010 Topps #543

Ten years later, it's funny to look at this card and realize that Nick Markakis is still in the major leagues and Adam Jones is not. Amidst all of the upheaval of the past few years, the biggest blow to me as a fan was when the Orioles parted ways with AJ before the 2019 season. It was all the worse because there was no clean break; while Adam remained an unsigned free agent throughout the winter, new GM Mike Elias was careful not to say anything one way or the other about a potential reunion. It was up to the fans to read between the lines - at least until March 11, when Jones finally signed a one-year deal with the Diamondbacks. With a stroke of the pen, his 11 years as a Baltimore fixture came to an end. He left behind a legacy of five All-Star appearances, four Gold Gloves, and a position of leadership in the clubhouse and the community.

I was rooting for Adam to rejuvenate his career in Arizona, and it looked promising in the early going. Through June 1, he was batting .283/.329/.516 with 12 homers and 37 RBI in 56 games. But in his final 81 games (66 starts), he slumped to .241/.300/.331 with 4 home runs and 30 RBI. His full-season numbers (.260 AVG, .728 OPS, 87 OPS+) were his worst since 2008. When factoring in his defensive metrics in right field, Jones finished with a -0.6 WAR, his first-ever season below replacement level. In December, the 34-year-old outfielder signed a two-year, $8 million deal with Japan's Orix Buffaloes.

Meanwhile, the 36-year-old Nick Markakis is somehow plugging along with the Braves, preparing to spend his sixth season in Atlanta when and if the season gets started. He's batted .284/.359/.403 in his half-decade in the National League, essentially swapping some of his already-modest home run numbers as an Oriole for more doubles. He's up to 2,355 career hits in 14 seasons overall, and his next two-base hit will make a nice round 500.

As we hover indefinitely on the verge of a 2020 MLB season, Baltimore's projected outfield is some combination of Dwight Smith, Jr., Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, and (pending his own health and the ongoing sad saga of Chris Davis at first base) Trey Mancini. Based on their collective potential and 2019 performances, it's actually one of the better segments of the Oriole roster. But a few years along, it's still strange not to see #10 and #21 in the center-right alley in Camden Yards.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Chris Fussell, 1999 Fleer Tradition #361

Yes, I know what you're thinking. It may have taken twelve years, but I finally got to Chris Fussell. The only thing I can recall about Chris Fussell without doing any research is that the Orioles traded him to Kansas City for Jeff Conine, which was a nifty little deal. Looking at this card, I can also tell you that he threw right-handed, and debuted in the majors in 1998. There, I've already tripled my knowledge!

So, what else is there to know about Chris Fussell? Well, his middle name is "Wren", he's from Oregon (a town in Ohio, not the state), and the O's drafted him out of high school in the ninth round of the June 1994 draft. He split the 1998 season between AA Bowie and AAA Rochester, ranking second in the organization with 135 strikeouts in 151.2 innings. He was the starting pitcher in his MLB debut against the Rangers on September 15. Things were looking good through five innings, with the Baltimore offense handing the 22-year-old a 5-0 lead. Fussell had struck out five hitters and the defense turned two double plays behind him, limiting the damage from three walks and a pair of singles. The first three Texas hitters reached in the sixth, which brought an end to the rookie's evening. Pete Smith and Arthur Rhodes conspired to allow the inherited runners to score, leaving Chris with a final line of three runs allowed in five innings. Still, the Birds clung to a one-run lead all the way until the ninth inning...when Armando Benitez served up a two-run homer to Ivan Rodriguez to blow the save and a potential win for Fussell. The young righty was hit harder in two subsequent appearances that season, finishing his Orioles career 0-1 with an 8.38 ERA.

After the April 1999 trade with the Royals, Fussell appeared in 37 games for K.C. over the next two years, racking up a 5-9 record and a 6.79 ERA. He had surgery in 2001 to remove bone spurs from his elbow, and never made it back to the big leagues after that. He did pitch in the minors and independent ball for another seven years, calling it quits after putting up a 6.39 ERA in 24 relief appearances for the Dodgers' AAA Las Vegas club in 2007.

Jeff Conine, on the other hand, earned 7.1 WAR (by Baseball-Reference's metric) in the better part of five seasons before an August 31, 2003 trade to the Marlins. So yes, that's a small-scale win for the O's.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Ron Kittle, 1991 Topps #324

If there's a silver lining to be found in our current housebound circumstances, it's the opportunity to spend more time with the immediate family. Janet and I both telework during the day, so thankfully Finn is pretty self-sufficient when it comes to playing. Still, he does get antsy, especially when he has to wait until 3:30 or later to go outside. So in an attempt to give him a new experience, I gave him a pack of baseball cards to open a couple of weeks ago. It was 1991 Topps, because 1) he's not old enough to take good care of them yet and b) it's important to manage expectations.

I was hoping he'd pull at least one Oriole from the pack, but nada. Not even Ron Kittle, with his .498 OPS and his "What did I just step in?" facial expression. He did get a couple of guys who played for the O's at other points in their careers: Phil Bradley, who had just been traded from Baltimore to the White Sox for Kittle in the previous season, and future Hall of Famer and 1994's All-Star closer, Lee Smith. Finn also pulled a couple cards of journeyman pitchers with all-time fun names: Paul Assenmacher and Joe Klink. I don't think he's caught the collecting bug just yet, but that's probably just as well. There's enough of his stuff spread all over the floors of our house right now.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Jonathan Villar, 2019 Topps #88

Tonight's late-night entry is blessedly just about baseball and card collecting. What a concept!

Because I didn't post to this blog at all last year, this is the first 2019 card I've featured here. It was also the first Oriole that I pulled from a pack of cards. I wasn't crazy about last year's Topps design; the gray block text for player surnames were pretty dull, and the decision to put the last name above the first name drives me bonkers. To the limited extent that I still buy new cards, I prioritize the Topps Heritage set over the flagship set. God, I really am middle-aged now, huh?

Anyway, a few words on Jonathan Villar. His entire tenure as an Oriole came and went between updates to the blog. He was the only major leaguer acquired in the July 2018 deadline deal that sent a fellow Jonathan (Schoop) to Milwaukee. Even if neither of the two prospects that the Brewers shipped out along with Villar pan out, the O's still won that trade. Schoop, of course, had a forgettable three months in Milwaukee, posting a mere .577 OPS with four homers in 46 regular-season games and going 0-for-8 in the postseason. He was non-tendered the following winter, and Brewers GM David Stearns went so far as to admit that the swap was a "bad deal".

Villar, on the other hand, provided a needed spark to a pretty sparse O's roster. He stole 21 bases in 24 attempts in August and September, and followed up by reaching career highs in runs scored (111), home runs (24), and RBI (73) in 2019. He also led the Birds with 40 steals in 49 tries and hit for the cycle on my birthday - in a 9-6 loss to the Yankees, alas.

Although baseball is a business, I'll admit that I was bent out of shape when the Orioles chose to non-tender "Villi" in December to save a few million dollars. They ultimately traded him to the Marlins for a minor league pitcher. I'm sure the front office is taking a calculated risk that he won't repeat his strong 2019 performance, but I don't see why they couldn't have kept one of their few big league-caliber players for one more season. Then again, we still don't know if anybody is playing anywhere this year.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Vintage Fridays: Jim Palmer, 1975 Topps #335

As I alluded to yesterday, the combination of weeks or possibly months quarantined at home with no new baseball to watch is our new and unwelcome reality in 2020. I'm interested in hearing how others are coping. I find myself watching old games on MLB.TV and YouTube. Yesterday, I watched parts of a handful of games from MLB's "Opening Day at Home" promotion - the second half of the Brewers' 10-inning walkoff win over the Rockies in Game One of the 2018 NLDS, the first few innings of an Angels-Yankees tilt from May of 2018 (can't go wrong with Trout and Ohtani), and as I finished my blog post last night, I used the first few innings of Game Two of the 2014 ALDS (the Delmon Young game) as my soundtrack. I would've gladly watched even more archived baseball yesterday, but I was trying to keep my three-year-old son placated while I worked from home, so we switched over to "Bluey". Earlier this week, I found a 1976 ABC Monday Night Baseball game between the Orioles and the Royals on YouTube in its entirety...even commercials. I was only able to get a few innings into that one before Finn requested cartoons, but it's on my to-do list.

In case you haven't seen it, I will also share a minute-long video that the Orioles released yesterday, narrated by Jim Palmer himself. I found myself welling up as I watched it; the sweeping shots of an empty Oriole Park inter-cut with clips of both Baltimore fans and players celebrating throughout the years, while the Hall of Fame pitcher and broadcaster who has spent all 55 years of his adult life linked to this team and city delivered a message of hopeful longing. There will be baseball again, when all is said and done. We will gather and raise our voices.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Trey Mancini, 2018 Topps Opening Day #18

Oh, don't look so shocked.

It took several things to bring me back to this blog after an unscheduled hiatus of nearly two years: a new scanner, the prospect of a spring without baseball, and of course, being confined in my own home for two weeks and counting.

Let me back up a bit. I'm perfectly healthy, as are my wife and son. Maryland has been doing its part to flatten the curve of COVID-19, and Janet and I are both fortunate enough to have jobs that can accommodate for full telework in the case of a friendly neighborhood pandemic.

Like most of you, I'm trying to come to grips with a really anxious, frightening, unprecedented situation. Our daily lives as we know them have been upended. We don't know when we will be able to hug our friends, visit our parents and siblings, feel the simple sense of community that comes from a meal at a restaurant or a night at the theatre...or the ballpark.

So as we're all looking for an outlet for our worries and frustrations, it only makes sense that I've found mine in a familiar yet long overlooked place. At its best, this blog serves as a place for me to share anecdotes and memories of my loved ones, to live out the highs and lows of my decades-long fandom, and to get really wonky about my hobby. Whether you've somehow found me for the first time today, or you've been reading since the beginning (back when Dave Trembley was still the manager and the Adam Jones trade was still a month away), you've allowed me into your life in a small way. We may not have games to watch today, or tomorrow; there's not even a guarantee that there will be an MLB season at all 2020. But in this space, we can still celebrate baseball.

It's no accident that I've chosen Trey Mancini as the first featured card on this blog since things went pear-shaped for the O's back in 2018. The Orioles have of course fully committed to a prolonged rebuilding plan, and the slugging outfielder/first baseman from Florida has been one of the rare bright lights for the team in recent times. But coming off a strong 2019 season (.291/.364/.535, 35 HR, 97 RBI), Trey appeared in only five Grapefruit League games this year before undergoing surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his colon. That's a scary thing for anyone to deal with, particularly a 28-year-old athlete at the top of his profession. There's still not a lot of news about diagnosis or long-term prognosis, so as with most things in our current climate, we wait and worry and hope and offer support.