Friday, July 31, 2009

Farewell Flat Breezy

I have to address something awful that occurred yesterday. Kalina's favorite Oriole (well, he was at least tied with Nolan Reimold), George "Brim Reaper/Flat Breezy/Peril" Sherrill was traded to the Dodgers for a few prospects.

Now, I am smart enough to know that this current Orioles roster isn't going to win anything and that the organization has been building to compete next year and beyond, it is still hard to lose such a popular player. He was a awesome competitor who had ice water running in his veins. He was the type of guy who craved the ball in the 9th inning, specifically with a one-run lead on the road. He loved the pressure.

The game that epitomizes Sherrill's reign in Baltimore was against the Cubs in Chicago last season. The O's had a one- or two-run lead and brought in the Brim Reaper to close the game, but he walked the bases loaded. However, he then promptly struck out the side to finish off the win. His saves, especially last season, were like a high-wire act but he got the job done more often than not.

My favorite memory of George was being at the first home game after the All-Star break last season when the Orioles congratulated George for his three-inning stellar performance in the 2008 All-Star game.

Goodbye George and good luck in LA. While you seem to be more of a country guy than a city boy, I hope things go well for you and that you win a World Series. We will see you in Washington at a Nats game September 22-24.

Bye bye Brim Reaper.

500 Orioles autographs!

I hit another milestone for my blog today by now having 500 different Orioles autographs. I have been able to collect 189 new autographs since I really focused my efforts on this around the end of March this year. That's not bad progress, if I might say so myself.

So to celebrate, I want to share Trader Crack's Card Blog's contest with everyone. He is giving anyone an opportunity to win a mystery autograph, so check it out!

I hope to have a contest of my own sometime soon, but it will be at least two weeks since I will be away from a computer on vacation next week. In the meantime enjoy Trader Crack's contest.

Finally, I want to share a few pictures of the newest addition to my favorite Orioles list, Cla "the Claw" Meredith. They are from Monday's O's game and I really am into sidearm/submarine style pitchers, so it's no surprise that I like Cla. He's also a 97% signer on SCN and Kalina almost got me his signature at yesterday's game! Hopefully I will get one soon.

On the Jumbotron (or is it now the DiamondVision?)

Warming up

First pitch at Camden Yards

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chris Tillman debuts! Or Ryan Freel makes his long awaited return to Camden Yards

Sorry if the title of the post confused anyone; I had to make the joke since Freel (on his third team this season) is in town with the Royals.

But, seriously, Chris Tillman made his big league debut last night against KC. He didn't do too well or poorly but kept the Orioles in the game and left to a nice standing "O"vation from the fans who waited through a 45 minute rain delay to see his debut. Chris pitched 4.2 innings and allowed 3 earned runs, which were all solo home runs, so I can make the argument that he really only threw three bad pitches. He did throw 58 of his 93 pitches for strikes and while that is a lot for 4.2 innings, at least he was keeping it in the zone.

Here are some of my pictures and autographs of Tillman:

I have to start with the shot of Tillman and me at the Tides game I attended earlier this season. You can read about the trip here if you missed the post.

The Tides have one player sign on the concourse when the gates open and I was lucky enough that it was Tillman! You can even see that he is smiling in this picture although he appears to prefer being photographed straight-faced.

I got this Tillman card signed last year while he was at Bowie. He was a consistently good signer and I was able to get him a few times.

Here is Tillman in the dugout before the game. I like to think he was visualizing a W.

And here is Chris Tillman's first Major League pitch. Here's to hoping that there are many more pitches and victories in his future with the Birds. And I won't complain if he mixes a few Cy Young trophies and World Series rings in too.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Some random things

Here are some cards I got over the past few days.

This sweet Markakis auto came to me recently in a trade with a fellow Ryan. I love Heritage/old school style cards and it's a cool closeup of Nick from a few years back. This is only my second autograph of Kakes and the first one on a solo card. My previous auto was on a Topps Prospects card with Adam "traitor" Loewen, so this is a major upgrade.

I went to the Keys game on Saturday (partially for the Markakis bobblehead giveaway) but did not account for the changed start time due to Friday's rainout. This is the first time this has happened to me as I normally double-check these things before heading out but I luckily still got my bobblehead; a post will be coming on that in a few days.

My late arrival affected my ability to get the Keys' autographs this time around but I was still able to pull a few...

It worked out that Pedro was again tracking the pitches so he was hanging out and signing autos by the Clubhouse while everyone else was warming up. I think this brings my total of Beato autographs up to 10! Anybody need one?

Wally was a member of the Georgia Tech baseball team along with Matt Wieters and was drafted in the 12th round of the '07 draft.

I love this action shot of Richie; now that's how you coach third base while managing your squad!
He was once again thrilled to sign for me, but at least he did.

Dave Schmidt 1987-89

Here is the wild card autograph I got at the Key's game; Schmidt is the Orioles minor league roving pitching instructor, who I finally had a card of to get signed when I saw him. You never know when or where these roving instructors will show up, so I was always caught with my pants down in the past. But not this time.

Dave was mainly a reliever over his twelve years in the bigs, but started 49 times for the Orioles between '87-89. He was decent in 1987 & 88 but once the Orioles tried to convert him mostly to a starter in '89, things fell apart. He finished in the bottom ten of AL pitchers in losses, home runs and earned runs allowed.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A few TTMs

As they continue to roll in, I will continue to share them with you; that's what I'm here to do!

Mike "Bird" Parrott 1977

I have to start by addressing Mike's nickname. Now obviously, a parrot is a bird, so it makes sense, but wouldn't it have been more original to work off of Parrott? Mark "the Bird" Fidrych was already pitching in the Majors so I feel like "Bird" was pretty lame for Mike.

Ok, now that I got that out of my system; Mike was the O's 1st round draft pick in 1973 but only pitched in 3 games for the Birds (haha) before he was traded to the Mariners after the '77 season. He was the Opening Day pitcher for the Mariners in 1980, and won that game, but he did not win again for the rest of the season, finishing the year at 1-16. At least the '09 O's won't let that happen with Jason Berken, will we? I mean, at least, Berken wasn't our #1 starter at the beginning of the season, right?

Mike is currently the pitching coach for the D'backs AAA team, the Reno Aces.

Jerry DaVanon 1971

Jerry was the Orioles backup infielder during the '71 season and is currently officiating high school basketball in Houston, TX. His son, Jeff DaVanon, also played in the Majors for a few seasons.

Royle Stillman 1975-76

There isn't much information to be found about Royle, he played in a combined 33 games for the Orioles over two seasons. So I will focus upon the bet I made with myself when I first saw this card. I said "I bet Royle is from California." I was right, so I got paid, by myself. Win some, lose some.

Bobby "Bo" Bonilla 1995-96

Six-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger, four-time MVP vote receiver (coming in second to Pirates teammate Barry "Barroids" Bonds in '90, and third beyond Bonds and winner Terry Pendleton in '91). Bobby Bo accomplished all of these things before donning the black and orange but is a guy I have always had a soft spot for; but I know you Mets fans would disagree with me. Now I did grow up liking the Pirates and then the Orioles, so that had a lot to do with it, but Bobby always had some flair or attitude to his game that appealed to me.

After a few tumultuous years with the Mets following his Pirates days, he was traded to the Orioles for Damon Buford and Alex Ochoa on July 28, 1995. Nice work on that one O's front office; but I'm serious this time. Bobby Bo was only on the Birds for a season and a half, but he did help the O's make the '96 playoffs. He signed at the Orioles Alumni Autograph tent at the Orioles game on 6/29 but I was unprepared as he wasn't on the list of possible signers, so I was really glad to find that he signs TTM.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fun with Ebay in June & July

Since I want to build my collection mainly through trades, TTMs, and getting guys to sign for me at games; I try to avoid buying anything. But try as I may, I come across some cards every month that can help my collection and the Ebay listings draw me in either due to their low price or scarcity.

Here are those cards from the last two months:

Stick with me as I am ramping up from the peons to the big guns...

Kris Foster 2001

Here is a guy that I do not remember at all. He pitched 7 games for the 2001 edition of the Birds, and I am really happy the he even has a card in an Orioles uni. He came to the Orioles from the Dodgers on 7/31/01 with Geronimo Gil in exchange for Mike Trombley. And if you're a footnote in the Gil-Trombley blockbuster, I wouldn't say that's a good thing.

Rocky Cherry 2007-08

Beyond having one of the greatest, most ice-cream-sounding names ever, Rocky didn't contribute much else to the Orioles. The Cubs traded him and Scott Moore to the Orioles in exchange for Steve Trachsel at the end of August 2007, presumably so that the human rain delay (Trachsel) could somehow stall for them to make the playoffs. The Mets took him from the O's in the Rule 5 draft after the 08 season and consequently released him after the O's decided they did not need him back. He's currently in the Red Sox system. Do you notice how I avoided telling you about his 0-3 record and 7.02 ERA for the Birds....whoops I was trying to avoid those stats...that's why this card was only fifty cents!

Steve Stone 1979-81

This guy has some interesting stats. If you take away his 1980 Cy Young season (in which he threw more than 50% of his pitches as curveballs, reportedly) he had a sub .500 career record. But somehow, in one magical season, he went 25-7 with a .781 winning percentage and pitched 9 complete games. He is easily the most forgettable O's Cy Young winner, as he was out of baseball a year after he won the award and only pitched for the O's for 2.5 seasons. Sadly, he is also the last Orioles pitcher to win the Cy Young.

He has been a broadcaster for the Cubs and White Sox since his playing career ended and also posed for Playgirl. Now that's a great visual!

Dwight "Dewey" Evans 1991

Dwight is mainly known for his 19 stellar seasons with the Boston Red Sox, during which he won 8 Gold Gloves, appeared on 3 All-Star teams, and finished in the top 11 in MVP votes 5 times. He is the only player to hit at least 20 HR's every season from 1980-89 and hit 256 homers during the '80s, more than any other player. I'm not entirely sure why he left the Sox at the end of his career to play one season with the O's. Does anyone know?

Luis Aparicio 1963-67

Now here is a famous Oriole, one that's in the HOF even!

Luis, a slick-fielding Venezuelan shortstop, had an amazing career that started when he won the 1956 AL ROY with the White Sox. Throughout his 18 season in the Majors that spanned 3 decades, he was a 10 time All Star, a 9 time Gold Glove winner, and received MVP votes 10 times! He also was on the '66 Orioles World Series championship team and was the first player from South America elected into the Hall of Fame.

A few other facts about Luis that jumped out at me were that he led the AL in stolen bases for 9 consecutive seasons to start his career, and when he retired he held records for most games played, assists and double plays as a shortstop. That is quite an amazing career.

So there you have it, from Kris Foster to Luis Aparicio, my recent Ebay acquisitions. That is also the only time in the history of baseball that those two guys will be mentioned in the same sentence.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Meghan comes through in the clutch!

My friend, Meghan, who is a reader of the blog and all-around nice person, recently surprised me with an autograph I needed. One Mr. Chuck McElroy, who, as the person who sponsors his Baseball Reference page so eloquently puts it, "sure knew how to wear a pair of glasses."

Chuck McElroy 2000-01

Chuck pitched in 654 Major League games over 13 seasons, but only started 7. That means that he was the starter in just over 1% of his apprearances. Why am I focusing on this stat? Because Chuck started those 7 games for the Orioles during the 2000-01 seasons. Here is a guy that had pitched in over 550 games in 11 seasons before he came to the Birds and he gets there and someone in the brain trust of the front office was like "this career reliever should start for us." Now I understand that it was likely slim pickins on those dismal early 00's teams but c'mon now. But hey, it wasn't all bad, he did go 3-1 in those starts.

Chuck came to O's from the Mets in the '99 offseason for Jesse Orosco. He is currently volunteering his time for Cal Ripken baseball camps.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A few more autos from Bowie

And here are the rest of the forgotten Bowie autographs...

Joe Nowicki hit a walk off HR at the last Baysox game we attended.

Ryan has been one of my favorite minor-leaguers for the past two season, starting last season in Frederick. This is partially because of his last name that I fail at pronouncing correctly (Kalina always reminds me that it is OH-let, not OH-lay or EW-let), and also due to the fact that he normally is rocking a sweet mustache and is thusly nicknamed "the Stache".

Wilfrido is another favorite; he has always been nice to fans and autograph seekers alike and he pitches really well for a little guy. I wouldn't be surprised to see Willy in Balitmore in the next few seasons if he can stay healthy.

Josh was a member of the Harrisburg Senators last season and my dad got me his autograph on a Senators card, so when I found out that he was on the Baysox this season I said "I already have his autograph." Weird coincidence I suppose. But now I have his autograph on a Baysox card, which is good since he is now pitching at Norfolk, which is much farther away from me than Bowie.

G-Rod has been relegated to backup catching duties but also DHs so he keeps busy. He dominated my silver sharpie on his autograph here.

Chad Thall is another of the Baysox jokesters. We have seen him chew many pieces of Dubble Bubble during warm-ups and throw it on the field near where the first base umpire stands during the game. I bet that umpire stepped in 15 pieces of gum throughout the game; that would be fun to scrape off your shoes. This is another one of the sweet 2006 I-birds cards that I now have signed.

"Scrappy" Tucker is one of those guys who you can't help but root for to make it to the Majors one day. He has a great attitude and has played all over the field on an effort to improve his chances of getting promoted. He also comes to the plate to Jay-Z's "Say Hello to the Bad Guy" which is not something that seems to fit him very well.

This is one of the strangest pictures I have ever seen used on a minor league card. Valido's eyes are closed and you can't really tell if he made the out or not. But I'll give the photographer credit for going for something a little different than the norm.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Baysox Autographs

Somehow the autographs I got at the last Bowie game I attended, some Friday 2-3 weeks ago, slipped through the cracks and didn't get scanned until last night. So I will share them with you now. The orange bordered cards are from the 09 team sets that seem to have just been released in time for that game.

Miggy has always been a great signer, well he was at least good last year at Frederick and this season in Bowie. He is typically the first position player out of the clubhouse and seems to know a lot of the fans; he has a good personality and I hope he can continue to progress through the O's system. I got another one of my favorite 06 Ironbirds cards signed!

Mike Costanzo came to the O's from the Astros as part of the Miguel Tejada trade before the 08 season. He started this season in Norfolk but was sent to Bowie about a month into the season and has underperformed for most of the year. A possible reason recently surfaced, as he has a torn meniscus and needs season ending surgery.

Eric Crozier was signed to the Baysox towards the end of June and I was able to track down these cards before I went to Bowie. He seemed like a really cool guy and signed for everyone.
Kalina also made the astute observation that he has Popeye-like arms.

Fredy Deza has bounced back in forth between Bowie and Norfolk for most of the season. I saw him in Frederick last year; it's only a matter of time before he is sent to the Bluefield!

Adam has become the Baysox everyday catcher. He was surprised to see that I had the 08 NW Arkansas Naturals card and I told him that I recently had visited family in Springdale. He asked me about a few of the guys on the Nats, so that was cool.

Paco still has one of my favorite autographs. I really like the loopiness of it. Unfortunately, he has been off and on the DL for most of the season.

Moe is the field coach for the Baysox and is another guy who seems to have a lot of fans in the stands that talk to him and know him.

Jim pitched for the O's in the 2006 & 2007 seasons. He relied heavily on his heater at the time but is trying to develop a curveball to get back to the Majors.

Dave has been the Baysox leadoff batter and resident funny-man this season.

Oh Radhames; last time we saw ye, you were at least in Norfolk, albeit in the stands tracking pitches.
But now you have slid from AAA to AA, but at least you still sign for the fans. Even if you were the last one out of the clubhouse and only signed for me and one other fan. I hope that you can get your delivery fixed and take that electric arm back to Baltimore. At least no-hit Harrisburg again, please.