Monday, April 30, 2012

Ronny Paulino Takes Me Back to 100%

Ronny Paulino had been the only new Orioles whose autograph I needed, but that situation was remedied over the weekend. I had purchased a "lot" of Orioles signed postcards and the seller included this bonus Paulino autograph. It was a very unexpected surprise and I was really happy to add Ronny to my collection. I will say that his signature certainly leaves something to be desired but this matches up well with other examples I've seen.

Paulino became the 914th Oriole when he debuted in the second game of the season, and he has started the season off very well. He's hitting .360 over seven games, which is pretty amazing for a back-up catcher!

I would still like to get his signature in-person, but this fills a need in my collection for now.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Try to Follow the Vlad

Continuing with my Vladimir Guerrero Orioles collection, I have added all three versions of his 2012 Topps Heritage Box Topper, which look pretty cool when you put them together. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

TTM Successes

Since I haven't done one of these posts in quite some time, here are some recent and semi-recent TTM requests that former O's have been nice enough to sign and send back to me. I prefer my Orioles autographs personalized if at all possible, so I consider these to be upgrades over unpersonalized cards. 

As you can probably will be able to tell, I am mostly focusing on Orioles players from the early years of the team and am (very) slowly working towards the more recent guys. 

And if anyone out there cares, I will include their Oriole debut number and the date of their first game in Baltimore. 

Neil Berry #30 5/6/54

 Fred Besana #85 4/18/56

Leo Burke #131 9/7/58

 Joe Durham #37 9/10/54

 Bob Hale #68 7/4/55

Bob Kuzava #35 8/11/54 

 Tito Landrum #384 8/31/83

Don Larsen #5 4/13/54 

 Eddie Robinson #116 9/2/57

Art Schallock #59 5/12/55

 Hal Smith #42 4/11/55

 Wally Westlake #64 6/22/55

George Zuverink #70 7/17/55

Friday, April 27, 2012

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Walt Dropo, Oriole #144, Revisited

Walt passed away just before Christmas 2010, and I wrote about his passing at the time. Since then, I obtained another copy of his autograph, and also decided to focus on Orioles debuts, so I have a little bit more to say about him. 

Walt made his Orioles debut on June 24, 1959, and became the 144th player to appear in a game for the team.  He was a ten year MLB veteran by the time he arrived in Baltimore and played the last three seasons of his career for the O's.

RIP Walt.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Oriole #721- Deivi Cruz

Anybody out there remember who the Orioles' starting shortstop was in 2003? Hint-check the title of the post.

Yep, it was none other than Deivi Cruz, who made his Orioles debut on Opening Day 2003 as the team's shortstop, and went on to play in 151 more games for the O's during his only season in Baltimore. He was the only starter who made his Orioles debut that day, although relief pitcher Kerry Ligtenberg made his Birdland debut later in the game.

Looking at the list of players who have filled the Orioles Opening Day shortstop position over the years, I would say that Deivi is rivaled in obscurity only by the 2008 starting SS, Luis Hernandez.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Thanks Russell!

Russell, a fellow Orioles autograph collector who has helped me out many times in the past, has once again come through for me.

This time around, he knocked Richie Lewis off of my list. I've had some assorted versions of Richie's autograph in my collection for some time but had never been able to track down a signed copy of this 93 Donruss, which is his one and only Orioles card.

Richie bookended his Major League career with the Orioles, pitching for them in 1992 & 1998. He pitched just two games in Baltimore in 1992, making his Orioles debut on July 31 and becoming the 519th player to appear in a game for the team, but was selected by the Florida Marlins in the expansion draft following the season. He went on to have a decent career with the Marlins, Tigers, A's and Reds, before returning to Baltimore in 1998 and, once again, appearing in just two games for the team. He continued to pitch in the minor leagues and abroad until 2003.

Russell, thank you (yet again) for your help! I hope to be able to return the favor soon!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Finally Knocked Bako Off My List

After years of searching for a Paul Bako signed Orioles card, I now have one in my collection. The signature won't win any awards for the caliber of sharpie used, nor penmanship, but at this point, I'm just thrilled to scratch Paul's name off of my list.

I had just profiled Paul as Oriole #797 back in December. I now have an Orioles signed 8x10 and a signed certified authentic Old Judge card of him for trade if anyone needs them.

It's always interesting to me which players I have had trouble with; there seems to be an eclectic combination of more recent players with just one, or maybe a few different Orioles cards, many of which were issued after the player had already left town, as well as some long-deceased types who are difficult because they haven't signed any autographs for many years. Once I knock a player off of my need list, I typically stop thinking about them, so this is probably the last you will hear about Paul around these parts.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Still Partying...Cartoon Bird Style

So the Orioles wrapped up their ten game, three city road trip yesterday with a win against the Angels of Anaheim in Southern California and a 6-4 record on the trip. That might not seem too amazing to many of you that root for, how do I say this...somewhat more successful teams. But it was the Orioles first winning record on such a long road trip since 2004. Even though the team lost the series to the Angels, since they had won two of three in Toronto and then three of four against the White Sox, they were guaranteed at least a .500 record on the trip when they arrived in Anaheim.

I'm probably getting ahead of myself, but this year's team seems to be different from the Orioles teams of recent seasons. Now, I'm quite a realistic fan who would be happy if the team could get to 81-81 (or even 82-80!) and break the consecutive losing seasons streak for the time being. Then they can continue to build towards being a playoff caliber team.

Yesterday, I cited the official return of the orange uniforms as my unfounded reason for the team's improved play. Russell, a fellow Orioles autograph collector, commented on the post, and mentioned that he believes the return of the cartoon bird caps could be responsible for the turnaround. Hey, why not? I'll go with that, so here are some of the cartoon bird hats from over the years.

Here's Dave Boswell showing off the cartoon bird cap worn from 1966-74.

Mark Brown is kindly displaying the 1975-88 version of the bird. 

And here's new Oriole Endy Chavez wearing the 2012-hopefully forever cartoon bird cap.

You might notice that this card isn't signed yet, but I'm working on it! Endy is one of the few new players who already have an Orioles card that I need to get signed to have my collection up-to-date.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Celebrating a Hot Start

In the off-season, the Orioles officially brought back their orange uniforms and they have started the season much better than anticipated. Coincidence? I think not. Even though I believe they have only rocked the orange unis once so far, there is an obvious correlation between the improved play on the field and the return of the orange. So I'm having an orange uniform party.

Mark Thurmond is here, even though it seems like he has better things to be doing. 

Jeff Robinson is attending too, but he seems a little out of it right now. Give him time. 

Rick Elder showed up, but he's unimpressed with the fiesta. 

 Awww yeah! Chris Fussell is the life of the part, just look at that smile. 

At least someone is happy to be at my orange uniform celebration!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Let's Trade! (Recent Topps & Topps Heritage)

I've been working a lot on my set needs list lately and I would love to knock some of these sets completely off of the list. I have many doubles (and triples and some quadruples, if that's a word) of various cards in the listed sets, so if you are trying to finish them up too, chances are that we can help each other out.

If the link above isn't working, you can also access my list on the left hand sidebar. It mostly consists of Topps & Topps Heritage sets from 2005 to the present, as well as a few random insert sets that I determined to collect for various reasons.

This 2005 Topps card of former Orioles pitcher Jorge Julio (Oriole #687, if you like knowing that sort of thing) is actually one of the cards I need for my '05 set. My general feeling about cards is the a signed card > an unsigned card and that is almost universally true for me. I will gladly break up a set for a chance to get a card signed, which makes my want list a constantly changing thing. Any time the Orioles sign a new player, I check to see if they have cards in the sets I've collected, so that way I don't have to purchase any additional cards for a chance at an autograph for my O's autograph collection, which is priority one for me. So sometimes, I re-need a card. But I digress.

Is there anyone out there who still has needs to fill for these sets? I have some other random cards for trade from various recent releases that I haven't tried to complete, so let's work something out!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Rip Coleman, Oriole #147

Walter Gary "Rip" Coleman pitched five season in the Majors from 1955-60 and spent time with the New York Yankees, Kansas City A's, and Orioles. Over 95 total games, he had a 7-25 record with a 4.58 ERA.

Rip spent the tail end of his time in the Majors with the O's and pitched briefly for the team in late 1959 and early 1960. He made his Baltimore debut on September 9, 1959, becoming the 147th Oriole, and appeared in just eight total games for the team, going 0-2 with a 5.63 ERA in only eight innings pitched.

He passed away in 2004 at the age of 72. Rest in peace, Rip.

To briefly explain the misspelled/made up title of these weekly posts: Every Friday, I profile a former Oriole who has passed away. I've substituted the word unpossible for impossible as an homage to a line from "The Simpsons". Young Ralph Wiggum, who is as sharp as a bowling ball, says "Me fail English? That's unpossible."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Oriole #722- Kerry Ligtenberg

We have firmly entered an era of Orioles baseball that was largely ignored by yours truly. While I still enjoyed attended Orioles games and tuning in on TV, I didn't follow the teams moves much. So I don't have many memories of many of the players who played for the team only in the early/mid 2000's. 

Turns out that Kerry's single season in Baltimore was rather successful, as he pitched in 68 games for the 2003 O's and went 4-2 with a 3.34 ERA. That's very respectable for an Orioles reliever since the team hasn't had much success in recent years. He made his Baltimore debut on March 31, 2003, which was Opening Day that season, and became the 722nd player to appear in a game for the Birds.

Kerry pitched eight MLB seasons between 1997-2005 mostly with the Braves from 97-02 but later bounced from Baltimore to Toronto and onto Arizona. He pitched in various Independent Leagues before and after his time in the Majors and officially retired during the 2009 season.

In Spring Training 1995, he briefly played as a replacement player with the Mariners during the infamous  baseball strike, so he was never able to become a member of the player's association.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The 2012 Orioles Walk-Up Song Project

To celebrate yet another awesome Orioles victory in Chi-Town, I am reviving an immensely popular feature that I started last year, chronicling the walk-up/warm-up songs of the 2012 Orioles roster. Here's what I have so far, based on my in-person observances and assisted by the Orioles website and an article on the Baltimore Sun's website. I will note if the information is mine (in-person/IP), from the Orioles (O's), or the Sun (S), or a combination of the three. 

Note-some links might contain explicit lyrics, if you're offended by that sort of thing.

A few returning players have opted to keep the songs they used last season.

Nick Markakis"Deliverance" Bubba Sparxx (IP/O's/S)
Adam Jones- He used four songs last year and is bringing back the last two: "California Love" 2Pac (IP/O's/S), "Keep Their Heads Ringin'" Dr. Dre (IP/S)
Matt Wieters"Barefoot Blue Jean Night"  Jake Owen (IP/O's/S)
Jake Arrieta"Bad Company" Five Finger Death Punch (IP/O's)
Jim Johnson"The Pretender"  Foo Fighters (O's/S)

And here's the rest of what I have so far:

Nolan Reimold- "Wolfpack Theme Music" NWO (seems to be a wrestling thing) (IP/O's/S)
J.J. Hardy- "Flower" Moby (IP/O's/S)
Mark Reynolds- "Country Boy" Aaron Lewis (IP/O's/S)
Chris Davis- "Mystery of You" (O's/S) & "Watch You Crawl" (S) Red
Wilson Betemit- "Te Pue Cuida" El Batallon (O's)
Robert Andino-"Hustle Hard" Ace Hood ft. Rick Ross & Lil Wayne (IP) "Go N Get It" Ace Hood (S)
Endy Chavez"7 Locas" Don Miguelo (O's) 
Ryan Flaherty"Wild Rover" Dropkick Murphys (O's/S)
Nick Johnson"I Got 5 On It" (Instrumental) Luniz (IP/O's)
Ronny Paulino- ???

Tommy Hunter"Where I Come From" Montgomery Gentry (IP/O's/S)
Jason Hammel"Panic Switch" Silversun Pickups (O's)
Brian Matusz"VooDoo Child" Jimi Hendrix (O's)
Wei-Yin Chen"Just A Dream" Nelly (O's)
Luis Ayala"Jefe de Jefes" Los Tigres Del Norte (IP/O's/S)
Kevin Gregg"Country Boy Can Survive" Hank Williams Jr. 
Matt Lindstrom- "When the Levee Breaks" Led Zeppelin (IP) "Fireman" Lil Wayne (S)
Darren O'Day- "Thickfreakness" (O's) "Lonely Boy" or "Howlin' For You" (S) The Black Keys
Troy Patton-"Glitter" Ghostland Observatory (O's/S)
Pedro Strop"Ponte Tu Chaleco" Secreto El Biberon

Both sites also have songs listed for players who are either injured or didn't make the team out of Spring Training, so I obviously haven't been able to confirm the following songs.

Brad Bergesen- "One" Swedish House Mafia (S)
Zach Britton- "Closure" (O's/S) or "Alive" The Continuums (I'm guessing that he's friends with someone in the band since their songs only have like four views on YouTube)
Dana Eveland- "Symphony of Destruction" Megadeth (S)
Zach Phillips- "Stranglehold" Ted Nugent, "When the Levee Breaks" Led Zeppelin, or "Those Shoes" The Eagles (S)
Chris Tillman- "Take It Outside" or "Kick It In the Sticks" Brantley Gilbert (S) (He used the latter last year)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What a Great Win Last Night!

If you're an Orioles fan at least. If you're a White Sox fan, I'm guessing that you are not checking Orioles fan's blogs today. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, let me indulge you.

The O's were losing 4-1 to the White Sox in Chicago heading into the top of the 8th inning last night when suddenly their bats came alive. Matt Wieters homered in the 8th, and Nolan Reimold and Adam Jones both homered in the 9th to tie the game up. When the game headed to extra innings is when things got really interesting.

In the top of the tenth, the Orioles blew up and scored six more runs including Matt Wieter's second homer of the night, which also happened to be his first career grand slam.

I still don't know what to expect from the team over the course of the season, but I like what I see so far!

And I have to give special props to Nolan for coming in to the game as a pinch-hitter and delivering the long ball. He already has three home runs this season and all of them have come in the ninth inning. Keep it up Nolan!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Oriole #723- Omar Daal

I'm finally getting back to counting down the Orioles whose autographs have yet to appear on my blog, and up today is the 723rd man to appear in a game for the Birds, Omar Daal.

Omar made his Orioles debut on April 2, 2003 and pitched the final season of his eleven year MLB career in Baltimore. He went 4-11 with a 6.34 ERA over 19 games, including 17 starts, so it wasn't a great year for him.

All told, Omar pitched for six different MLB teams over his career; he played with the Dodgers for four seasons, and 138 of his 392 appearances were in the Dodger blue.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

More of the Same Vlads

When I decided to collect Vlad's Orioles cards, I really didn't know what I getting myself into. I mean, I knew that variations were out there, but not to this extent.

This is the black (#ed to 60), target red, walmart blue, and base versions of Vlad's 2011 Topps Update card to go along with my diamond, gold, & cognac versions of it. I know there are different colors and designs involved but to me, I'm kind of just looking at the same card over and over.

This is probably far from breaking news to many of you player/team collectors, but I haven't specifically collected anything but autographs and sets in recent years and the number of variations of just one card is staggering. And I'm sure that I'm still missing a few!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Unpossible Autograph Friday-Marv Breeding- Oriole #150

After getting away from my weekly features for a while, U.A.F. has returned to it's normal slot. Hopefully, the Saturday bobbles will be back next week, or whenever I can find the time to properly photograph them.  

Up this week is Marv Breeding, who played three of his four Major League seasons with the O's from 1960-62. When he made his Baltimore and MLB debut on Opening Day of the 1960 season, he became the 150th player to appear in a game for the Birds. I also want to point out that April 19th was the first day of the season that year, which seems quite late to me since the season now typically gets rolling in late March.

Marv was the Orioles starting second baseman in his rookie season but appeared in significantly fewer games in the following two seasons in Baltimore. He split his last year in the Majors between the Senators and Dodgers, but was lucky enough to be a part of the Dodgers' 1963 World Series team, although he didn't appear in any of the team's playoff games.

He passed away in 2006 in his hometown of Decatur, Alabama; he was 72. RIP Marv.

One personal item of note, is that Breeding, and the last player I featured on U.A.F., Marv Throneberry, are the only two players in Orioles history that share my dad's relatively uncommon name. If either of them were still alive, I would send them a TTM request to try to get my dad a "To Marv, from Marv" autograph. Those types of things crack me up for some reason.

To briefly explain the misspelled/made up title of these weekly posts: Every Friday, I profile a former Oriole who has passed away. I've substituted the word unpossible for impossible as an homage to a line from "The Simpsons". Young Ralph Wiggum, who is a sandwich shy of a picnic, says "Me fail English? That's unpossible."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Orioles Coaching Staff Autographs

I was able to upgrade a few of the signatures in my coaches and managers collection on my Spring Training trip last month. 

Manager Buck Showalter, pitching coach Rick Adair, bench coach John Russell, and first base coach Wayne Kirby all signed and personalized autographs for me. 

The two new members of the coaching staff, third base coach DeMarlo Hale and bullpen coach Bill Castro "big-leagued" me at Spring Training, but luckily I was able to purchase their autographs for a few bucks each from a fellow collector. I certainly prefer not adding any players or coaches to my need list at the start of a season!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Two More Debuts- O'Day & Chen

The final two players on the Orioles 25 man roster who had not yet appeared in a game for the O's have now both made their Baltimore debuts. 

Darren O'Day became the 919th player to appear in a game with the O's when he made his debut out of the bullpen during Monday's game. He pitched 1.1 innings and was the first man out of the 'pen to replace the struggling Brian Matusz. He retired the Yankees 4-5-6 hitters in order in the fifth inning but ran into some trouble in the sixth, and only was able to get one more out after allowing a leadoff homer to Andruw Jones, two walks, and a single before being pulled from the game.

Darren was nice enough to sign this postcard and card for me during my spring training trip.

I also have the below postcard and card now available for trade that I obtained in a trade following O's FanFest.

When I was looking for Darren's cards after the O's signed him, I found that he has just four MLB cards; these two Upper Deck cards from 2008 & '10, and two certfied autographs issues from 2008, so exactly 50% of his big league cards are pre-signed. Good if you need his autograph for your collection, but bad if you prefer to have him sign in-person.

Oriole #920 is starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen, who made his Orioles, as well as his U.S. and MLB, debut on Tuesday night against the Yankees. Things got off to a shaky start when he gave up a lead-off homer to Derek Jeter followed by a Nick Swisher double. My expectations for him almost immediately began to dip and I figured I might be able to catch up on some of the shows on my DVR. 

But instead, Wei-Yin turned things around in a hurry and didn't allow another hit until the fifth inning. He ran into some trouble in the sixth, no thanks to a very poorly timed Mark Reynolds error, and exited the game after 5.2 innings, having allowed seven hits, one walk, and four runs (two earned), while striking out six. All told it was a solid American debut against a tough Yankees line-up. He very well could have won the game if not for Reynolds' poor defense. 

 Chen became the first player from Taiwan to play for the Orioles and I believe just the seventh player from the country in MLB history. After last night's relatively impressive debut against a strong opponent, I think that he has a good chance to have a lot of success for the O's.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Orioles Are 3-0! 2012 Debuts So Far...

And I'm back; the trip went a little longer than expected and then I got swept up in the excitement of Opening Day, so I was away longer than I had planned. But now I'm back and don't plan on going anywhere for awhile.

Somehow the Orioles are 3-0 and swept the Twins out of town. I was lucky to attend Opening Day on Friday and game #2 on Saturday, but couldn't make it to Jason Hammel's near no-hitter yesterday. All told the O's outscored the Twins 15-5 in the series and the O's three starting pitchers, Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, and Hammel, allowed only one earned run over 22 innings pitched. Nick Markakis hit a homer run in each of the first two games and Matt Wieters, JJ Hardy, and Adam Jones all went deep as well. Freakin' Ronny Paulino went 4-4 in his Orioles debut on Sunday. Who knew? Maybe this team will be alright. Or maybe the Twins are pitiful.

On to the debuts...of which there were eight over the first three games.

There were two debuts on Opening Day, which is a relatively small number for the first game of the season.

Wilson Betemit was the first Orioles debut of the season and will forever be Oriole #911. He went 1-3 as the Opening Day designated hitter.

Matt Lindstrom gave up two hits but no runs in the eighth inning and is now Oriole #912.

Game #2 on Saturday had four debuts. 

Nick Johnson started the game at first base, but went 0-4 at the plate. He is Oriole #913. 

The previously mentioned Ronny Paulino was the designated hitter on Saturday and scored two runs along with his four hits, including a double. It was an impressive start. Unfortunately, I don't yet have Ronny's autograph and he turned down a request when I had him 1 on 1 earlier on Saturday. Luckily, he has a number of certified autographs out there, and backup catchers don't normally get too much cardboard love. So I might go ahead and buy one of his autographs out there. I hate adding guys to my need list, which is now populated solely by Ronny. He is Oriole #914.

Luis Ayala, Oriole #915, came to pitch a clean ninth inning in the O's 8-2 victory. While he did have a six run lead, I wouldn't expect him to be the mop-up guy out of the bullpen, I think he just needed the work. My guess for the current mop-up guy is the one who began last season as the team's closer, but rarely had a clean outing.

Ryan Flaherty also made his Orioles, and MLB, debut in the ninth inning of Saturday's game. He came in as a defensive replacement for Mark Reynolds, who had fouled a ball off of his calf muscle earlier in the game. Reynolds also made a a few suspect plays in the field and recorded his first error of the season earlier in the game. Flaherty made a slick play in the top of the ninth that I'm not convinced Reynolds would have made if he was still in there. Flaherty is Oriole #916.

Sunday's game saw two more Baltimore debuts. 

Jason Hammel was the starting pitcher and tossed a gem in his first Oriole outing. He didn't allow his first hit until the top of the eighth inning and went on to allow just two hits and one run over 8. Pretty great for a third starter. Jason is Oriole #917. 

Endy Chavez started in left field and went 1-4 at the plate. He is the 918th player to appear in a game for the O's. Unfortunately, he has already been pictured as an Oriole in the 2012 Topps Heritage set, as well as the Topps Orioles team set, so I already need an upgrade for my collection.

 At this point, Wei Yin Chen and Darren O'Day are the only two players on the 25 man roster to have not made their Orioles debut yet, but I know Chen is scheduled to start on Tuesday and I would imagine we see O'Day matched up against a member of the Yankees over the next three nights.

Good luck to all of the 2012 Orioles, keep up your winning ways!