Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Nick Markakis, 2012 Topps Opening Day #33

Well, the wildly schizophrenic Mid-Atlantic weather has swung to another extreme, with a full day of heavy rain slashing the 80-degree temperatures of the weekend by half and postponing tonight's Orioles-Rays game. So instead of driving downtown to watch Miguel Gonzalez square off with Jake Odorizzi, I'm holed up in the house with my pets, cold beer, and WWE Network live streaming on the Xbox. I'm sure Nick Markakis and the rest of the O's are enjoying the extra rest, especially since Adam Jones and Evan Meek are now afflicted with the flu bug that laid low Brian Matusz and hitting coach Jim Presley for the past few days. Get healthy, guys.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Eddie Murray, 2001 Upper Deck Decades: 1970s #163

Yesterday I completed my second vintage Topps set. It's been almost two years since I reached 100% on the 1965 Topps set, and now I've finally finished off the 1975 base set as well. The elusive 660th card was a doozy, card number 228. That would be the rookie card of Hall of Famer George Brett, which explains why I didn't hesitate to drop $15 on the rough-around-the-edges specimen I discovered in one of my local hobby shops. I'm pleased to wrap up Topps' most colorful, funky set without any real headaches. As you can see from the 2001 Eddie Murray card I posted above, '75 Topps inspired plenty of imitators, but it was never successfully duplicated. Now I'll move on to pursue a number of the half-full, commons-heavy 1970s binders in my spare room. I also grabbed some 1971-1973 high number cards from this store's dollar box, sparing myself a dozen or two wild goose chases in the future. The comforting thing about catching up on vintage cards is that there is a finite goal to build toward. No unscrupulous manufacturer is going to come along and extend the finish line.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

David Lough, 2014 Topps Heritage #278

When Janet and I entered the ballpark for last night's game, a matchup of Orioles' fifth starter Bud Norris and Blue Jays' second-year pitcher Drew Hutchison, I certainly didn't expect a pitching duel. But Bud and Drew were both up to the task, trading zeroes for six innings. When Jonathan Schoop drove a double into the gap off of Toronto reliever Neil Wagner in the seventh, with David Lough racing around to score from first base, it looked like Norris might squeak out the win. Looks can be deceiving, though. New O's closer Tommy Hunter got two quick outs in the ninth and quickly ran the count to 0-2 against Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus. When he threw a third straight curveball, Rasmus tried - and seemingly failed - to check his swing. But fill-in third base umpire Jeff Gosney, working his first-ever MLB game, denied catcher Steve Clevenger's appeal. Rasmus powered Hunter's next pitch over the right-center field fence for a deflating, game-tying home run.

When the Birds allowed both Steve Lombardozzi and Lough to bat in the bottom of the ninth, leaving the more powerful Steve Pearce, Matt Wieters, and Delmon Young on the bench, I sarcastically tweeted my approval of the move. Shows what I know, right? Both men were retired in the ninth, but the game pushed on into the 10th, 11th, and 12th innings with the score still knotted 1-1. In the bottom of the 12th, the Orioles finally figured out Blue Jays reliever Todd Redmond in his fourth inning of work. J. J. Hardy smoked a ball into deep right field, but Jose Bautista made a great leaping catch to rob the O's shortstop of extra bases. But neither Bautista nor Colby Rasmus could track down Steve Lombardozzi's drive to center field, and the second baseman motored all the way into third base with a triple. That set the stage for Lough, who'd been struggling with concussion symptoms and entered the game batting .105, to play the hero by belting a line drive over third base for the walkoff hit. Now I've been to two games at Camden Yards in 2014, and they're the only two games the Birds have won at home in the young season. Both were 2-1 finals, with Zach Britton picking up the win in relief each time. I'm hoping that's a coincidence and not a trend...I don't think my heart can take many more razor-thin games like that.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Brooks Robinson, 2003 Topps Tribute Perennial All-Stars #50

In a few moments I'm heading out for a lovely evening of baseball with my wife. Pregame dinner at C & R Pub in Federal Hill, where my oldest friend Joe is tending bar, followed by the O's and the Jays at Camden Yards. Fingers are crossed in hopes of a competent Bud Norris start, some liveliness from the Baltimore bats (way to hand Dustin McGowan his first win since 2008, guys), and improved defense from young Jonathan Schoop at third base. I realize that he's still learning, but the two unearned runs that saddled Chris Tillman with the loss last night were both on Schoop. He was looking more like Mark Reynolds than Brooks Robinson. But today is another day, and I have faith.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Vintage Fridays: Andy Etchebarren, 1972 Topps #26

One of the many wonderful things about Andy Etchebarren is his unusual and unwieldy surname. When the name on the back of your jersey is 11 letters long, the nameplate ends up leaking down into your armpits. I've also noticed this phenomenon with Steve Lombardozzi, one of the newest Orioles. Lombo is a utility infielder who grew up in Howard County, just south of Baltimore, and his father (also Steve) roamed the Twins' infield in the 1980s. Steve's also got an 11-letter last name, and it fills up the back of his O's jersey quite nicely. It's not quite Jarrod Saltalamacchia territory, but it's still a fun sight when tuning into a game.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mike Devereaux, 1994 Score Select #131

It's Mike Devereaux's 51st birthday today! Why not celebrate by watching him rob Joe Carter of a three-run home run on June 5, 1992 in a still-new Camden Yards? This grab came in the sixth inning of a then-scoreless game, and it ended up being a huge play. Blue Jays starter Jimmy Key held the O's to four singles in seven and two-thirds innings, but Cal Ripken greeted reliever Duane Ward with a single to drive in the only run of the game in the bottom of the eighth. With Devo's assist and Cal's timely hitting, Sutcliffe earned his eighth win of the '92 season. Gregg Olson got the save, inducing a double play grounder from Carter and a flyout from Kelly Gruber. With the win, Baltimore pushed their way into a first-place tie with Toronto.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bob Boyd, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #46

Say, didja know that 55 years ago today - April 9, 1959 - the Orioles became the first team in major league history to turn a triple play on Opening Day?

It's true, as at least 85% of the things I write on this blog are. The Birds were kicking off their season a ways down south in Washington, D.C.'s Griffith Stadium. Unfortunately, starting pitcher Jack Harshman had already dug the Birds a 5-0 hole by the bottom of the fifth inning, when famed Venezuelan shortstop Chico Carrasquel made his O's debut as a defensive replacement for Whitey Lockman, who had pinch hit for Ron Hansen. (Still with me?) Hoyt Wilhelm also entered the game from the Baltimore bullpen, and immediately got himself into a jam by walking Roy Sievers and failing to get an out after Bob Allison bunted the ball back to him. With runners on first and second, the knuckleballer was bailed out by his defense. Ed Fitz Gerald smashed a line drive to the right side, but it found first baseman Bob Boyd's glove for the first out. Thinking on his feet, Boyd fired the ball to second base, where Carrasquel forced Sievers for the second out. Chico relayed the ball back to Boyd at first base, and Allison was dead meat. One play, three outs.

Sadly, the triple killing did little to arrest the Senators' momentum. They piled on some insurance in the late innings, and it took a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth from Gus Triandos to spoil Pedro Ramos' shutout bid. Ramos rebounded to retire Brooks Robinson on a grounder to short to complete the 9-2 rout. One of Washington's offensive standouts was a young Harmon Killebrew, who had a single, a stolen base (!), and a two-run homer in four trips to the plate. If it's any consolation, the Orioles clawed their way to a sixth-place, 74-80 record in 1959, while the Senators stumbled into the cellar at 63-91 in what turned out to be their penultimate season in the Nation's Capital.