Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Javy Lopez, 2005 Playoff Prestige #18

A few thoughts on a Sunday afternoon:

-Need a unique, dynamic photo for your baseball card? Why not go with a power-hitting catcher jogging back across the infield after making an out? (At least that's what this looks like. Wouldn't be my first choice.)

-Javy Lopez is wearing a mid-1970s throwback uniform, though it always bugged me when the Orioles didn't bother with throwback batting helmets. Go all-out or don't do it at all.

-I didn't realize how much I liked the orange jerseys until the O's finally brought them back a few years ago. I don't think it's a coincidence that Baltimore's return to respectability went hand-in-hand with the revival of orange jerseys and the cartoon bird. I'm only half-joking.

-Look at this dull-as-dishwater card design and tell me why Donruss (who oversaw the Playoff brand) went belly-up.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Radhames Liz, 2008 Bowman #201

Radhames Liz hasn't pitched in the major leagues since he managed to cough up 10 runs while getting four outs in a pair of disastrous relief appearances with the Orioles in 2009. That left him with a career ERA of 7.50 in 28 total games. Since then, he's pitched in the minors for the Padres and Blue Jays for a season each, bookending a three-year stint with the LG Twins in Korea. Overseas, he posted a 26-38 record with a 3.51 ERA. Now Liz is 31, and he's hoping to be the Pirates' latest rehab project. Last year, they went dumpster-diving and came up with solid returns from Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez, and Vance Worley. Pittsburgh apparently saw enough promise in the right-hander that they gave him a spot on the 40-man roster and a major league contract. Can a pitcher with three quality starts in 21 tries become a key contributor to a contender? Stranger things have happened, I guess.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Vintage Fridays: Don Buford, 1972 Topps #370

Whoops, the night has gotten away from me. So here's Don Buford, giving us all the side-eye. I don't know what you did, but he looks pretty pissed off.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Omar Daal, 2003 Topps Total #623

There's laughably bad Photoshop, and then there's this half-assed attempt to digitally change Omar Daal from a Los Angeles Dodger into a Baltimore Oriole. Is that the tiniest jersey wordmark you've ever seen? That's without even mentioning that he appears to be wearing road grays, and yet "Orioles" is in black lettering, as per the Birds' home uniforms at that time. This image doesn't portend great things, and so it went for the 31-year-old lefty in Charm City, the final destination of his big league career. You've got to fail on a grand scale to be the worst starter in a rotation featuring a sophomore-slumping Rodrigo Lopez (7-10, 5.82 ERA, 1.57 WHIP) and a past-his-prime Rick Helling (7-8, 5.71 ERA, 1.41 WHIP). Heck, even Damian Moss (1-5, 6.22 ERA after arriving from the Giants in the Sidney Ponson deadline deal) wasn't appreciably worse than Omar. He went 4-11 in 19 appearances with a 6.34 ERA and a 1.75 WHIP. He allowed nearly 13 hits per nine innings. Then poof, he was gone. You can see why I still shake my head when I hear or read that the current Orioles have a surplus of starting pitchers. It's been a long time coming.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mike Moriarty, 2002 Upper Deck 40 Man #226

Look, I know that I didn't follow the Orioles as closely during my college years, when the funk of their eventual 14-year streak of irrelevance was truly taking root. Still, I have a hard time believing that there ever was such a person as Mike Moriarty. I know for a fact that I didn't see any of his eight big league games in 2002. (Boy, did I miss out: 3-for-16 with a double.) I'm always confusing him with Mike Mordecai, the fungible Braves, Expos, and Marlins utility man of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Then there's Mike McCoy, another mostly anonymous utility guy who batted .190 for the Rockies and Blue Jays from 2009 through 2012. In my mind, they could all be the same guy. No, I find it more plausible that Upper Deck, knowing that they didn't have a full 40 players for the O's anyway (there are 34), had somebody's brother-in-law pose in full uniform and included him in the set under a fictitious name as a sort of inside joke. Or is that more of a Topps thing?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Maximo Heredia, 1999 Multi-Ad Sports Bowie Baysox #15

It's a shame that Maximo Heredia never made it to the major leagues. The six-foot-tall righty from the Dominican Republic could have been the first "Maximo" in MLB. As it is, he's one of 36 Maximos to play minor league ball, and the wait continues for a Maximo - any Maximo - in the bigs.

The Orioles signed Heredia as a teenager, and his age 20 season was a good one. Pitching for the Class A Delmarva Shorebirds in 1997, he went 10-5 with a league-leading 2.13 ERA in 114 innings. He walked only 20 batters, and picked up three playoff wins for the South Atlantic League champs. But his initial success didn't translate to higher levels, and he topped out at AA Bowie in 2000. By 2001 he was pitching professionally in Italy. That's the last record of Maximo Heredia at Baseball Reference.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nick Markakis and Adam Loewen, 2004 Topps #691

Here's proof positive that Nick Markakis has been an Oriole for a long time. The O's grabbed him with the seventh overall pick in the June 2003 amateur draft. That year, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays took Delmon Young with the first pick. Eleven years later, there's no such team as the Devil Rays, and Delmon is probably en route to his sixth team after spending this past season as Baltimore's pinch hitting ace. Later in the first round of that 2003 draft, the Montreal Expos spent the 20th overall selection on pitcher Chad Cordero. That one's a two-fer: a defunct team and a player who's out of baseball altogether despite making the All-Star Team in the Nationals' inaugural 2005 campaign. Just to hammer the point home, Markakis shared his rookie card with the Birds' previous first-round pick, Canadian junior college pitcher Adam Loewen. In the last decade, Loewen has switched from a pitcher to an outfielder/first baseman and back to pitcher again. As the longest-tenured member of the Orioles, Nick Markakis has enjoyed a level of stability that is foreign to Loewen, Young, Cordero, and scores of other baseball players.

Today, Nick celebrates his 31st birthday in an odd sort of limbo. The O's have bought out the $17.5 million option on his contract for 2015, paying $2 million for the privelege of making their senior player a free agent. Rumors and whispers make it seem like all but a foregone conclusion that #21 will stay in Baltimore, with a four-year contract in the $40-48 million range. But if it were so cut and dry, why would it take several weeks and counting to put it to paper? I know that the Orioles typically move at their own pace, but it seems like they're leaving things to chance. I'm sure some fans panicked when word leaked that Markakis' agent was meeting with other teams last week, though you'd have to chalk that up to due diligence.

I expect Nick Markakis to patrol right field in Camden Yards in 2015, just as he has ever since 2006. But until he signs on the dotted line, he is not officially on the team. He is still an Oriole, and yet he isn't. If I'm impatient and anxious about it, I can't imagine how Nick himself feels.