Friday, September 30, 2011

Playoff Contest Closed, Good Luck!

Now that the playoffs have officially started, you can no longer submit a bracket. We have 34 entries and you can see what everyone picked in this handy little spreadsheet.

I still need a few things from a couple of you, so if your name is in yellow, please contact me. Mostly the problems are with people not following the blog to lock in your picks.

Here's a breakdown of who selected which teams in each series.

Division Series

Rays 13
Rangers 21

Tigers 17

Cardinals 4
Phillies 30

Diamondbacks 11
Brewers 23

Championship Series

Rays 2
Rangers 7
Tigers 13
Yankees 12

Cardinals 2
Phillies 20
Diamondbacks 3
Brewers 9

World Series

Rays 1
Rangers 3
Tigers 4
Yankees 4
Cardinals 2
Phillies 16
Diamondbacks 0
Brewers 4

WS Games
4 (1)
5 (6)
6 (17)
7 (10)

Runs In Deciding WS Game
3 (3)
4 (1)
5 (1)
6 (5)
7 (4)
8 (6)
9 (5)
10 (2)
11 (3)
12 (3)
13 (1)

So if the majority of you have your way/are correct, we are going to see a Tigers-Phillies World Series with Philly prevailing in the 6th game that has a total of 8 runs.

The least picked scenario is a Rays-Cardinals World Series with the Diamondbacks coming out of nowhere to winning it all in a four game sweep with 1-2, or 14+ runs scored in the final game. I'm pretty confident in saying that scenario is extremely unlikely.

Personally, I'd rather see a Rays-Brewers World Series that goes 7 games.

Good luck to you all!

One More Contest Reminder & Additional Info Needed from Some Entrants

One last reminder that I need all entries in my MLB postseason bracket contest by 5:07 PM today. Quite a few of you are already locked in but a few of you aren't following my blog yet, so you will need to do that to lock in your entry. It looks like Reds Card Collector, Kyle4KC, Sharon, SportsCardBlog, Card Anathema, arpsmith, & Trey J. all need to follow to have a chance to win.

Contest Rules are here.
Please leave your picks in the comments of this post.

Good luck everyone!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Another Contest Reminder

Just a reminder that I need all entries in my MLB postseason bracket contest by 5:07 PM tomorrow. Sorry for not giving everyone much time to enter, but I have to work around MLB's playoff scheduling.

Contest Rules are here.
Please leave your picks in the comments of this post.

Good luck everyone!

Contest Reminder

Hey everyone, just a reminder that there's only 24 hours left to enter my MLB postseason bracket contest. Sorry for not giving everyone much time to enter, but I have to work around MLB's scheduling.

Contest Rules are here.
Please leave your picks in the comments of this post.

Way to end the season O's! I'm so proud of how you played and the way you knocked the Sawx out of the playoffs!

2011 MLB Post-Season Bracket Contest is Live

Here's the bracket, leave me your picks in the comments section by the start of the first game on Friday at 5:07 PM. All the details are in Monday's post.

Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oriole # 910- Pedro Florimon


Pedro appropriately made his Orioles (and MLB) debut on September 10. I say appropriately because he is Oriole #910 debuted on 9/10; I know it's a silly coincidence but I thought it was worth mentioning, as it's something that's not too likely to happen again anytime soon. 

I profiled Pedro once before, way back in February 2010, when the O's added him to their 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule V draft. Check out that link to see what I thought about Pedro back then; I was surprisingly correct that Pedro would make his Orioles debut in 2011, but wrong about most of my other points.

As I mentioned in yesterday's Kyle Hudson debut post, he and Pedro are really the only two traditional September call-ups that the O's recalled from the minors this year. PedFlo has played in four games since getting the call and is 1-8 with a double, 2 RBI, a walk, and 6 K's.

Since I consider Pedro's 2010 Bowman Prospects card to be an official Orioles card, that's the one that will go into my collection. The rest are up for trade, including the cards in the post from 2010. You might notice that his signature appears different on the Bowman card than the rest of these. I got them all in person, so I know that Pedro actually signed them, but as he signed the Bowman last season and the rest were signed this year, it appears that Pedro tweaked his signature sometime during the offseason. I would have to say that it's an improvement, and while slightly less unique, you can at least make out the P in his newer signature. I don't even know how to describe his old autograph, but it looks very close to the pre-print on the Bowman card.

I'm not sure how Pedro fits into the future plans for the Orioles. He doesn't hit particularly well nor with much power and he has averaged over 28 errors per year over his six seasons in the Minors. Since the Orioles drafted Manny Machado in the first round of the 2010 draft, he's no longer the organization's top SS prospect either, so I think this might be the extent of Pedro's time in Baltimore. Whatever may happen, good luck in the future Pedro!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Oriole #909- Kyle Hudson

Kyle Hudson became the 909th player to suit up for the O's when he made his Baltimore (and MLB) debut on September 4th. He is one of only two players that truly qualifies as September call-ups this year; typically the Orioles call up a few more minor leaguers in September but this year they made more late season trades and transactions than they have done in past seasons.

After he played baseball and football for the University of Illinois, the O's selected Kyle in the 4th round of the 2008 draft. Since '08, he has appeared at every level of the minor leagues in the Orioles farm system, from the short season A Aberdeen Ironbirds to the AAA Norfolk Tides. One thing that jumps out at me is that Kyle has never hit a home-run in professional baseball. He's mainly a speed guy, but most players would have run into at least one bad pitch over 389 minor league games, but power is just clearly not a part of his game.

Since Kyle has spent a few seasons in the O's farm system, I've had multiple chances to get his autograph. The card at the top of the post is staying in my collection, but if anyone out there is also collecting Orioles autographs, the rest of these are available for trade.

I would describe Kyle's Orioles call-up as a surprise since he started the 2011 season with the hi-A Frederick Keys. He signed a few of these cards for me at an early season Keys' meet the team day. After spending most of April with the Keys, he was promoted to the AA Baysox and played 28 games there before jumping to the Tides, where he played 68 games prior to be called up the Orioles.

Since his debut on September 4th, Kyle has played in 13 games with the Orioles, mainly playing left and center field, but also appearing as a pinch runner. To give you an idea about how fast this guy is, the O's inserted him as a pinch runner against the Tigers over the weekend and he went from first to third on a wild pitch. You don't see that very often!

Kyle has made one previous appearance on my blog, way back in April 2010, when I showed a number of autographs I got at a Keys game. 

His signature leaves a bit to be desired and has gotten slightly worse over the years. The card at the top of the post was signed sometime in late 2009/early 2010 and looks something like K_ H__big loop__ 21. The rest of these autographs are from this year and Kyle dropped the big loop so we're left with pretty much K H 21. At least the K looks cool, I guess.

Good luck Kyle!

Monday, September 26, 2011

2nd Annual Postseason Baseball Contest

Yep, it's back, my MLB playoff bracket contest. Since the match-ups are still TBD, all the slots on the bracket are still blank, but here's what it looks like. Everyone seemed to enjoy the contest last year and I hope that things go well this year too.

Here's the deal, pretty much copied from my contest post from last year...

All you need to do to enter is to be a follower of the blog and fill out this 2011 MLB postseason bracket. Since none of the match-ups are decided yet, it's blank, but by Thursday morning, or whenever all the postseason spots are locked in, I will re-post a filled out bracket so that you don't need to figure everything out on your own. 

It’s pretty easy to play, just pick the teams you think will win each round of the playoffs up through the World Series champ. All rounds are weighed equally. To avoid a tie, you also need to select the number of games the World Series will last (between 4-7) and the total number of runs in the final game of the World Series. If there is a tie after all that, then will be used to decide the winner.  
As far as the prizes go for this, I was going to list a bunch of cards that the winner could choose from but I have decided to just say that I'll work with the winner to make sure that they are happy with their winnings. It will be something good from my selection of autographs, bobbleheads, inserts, short prints, and base cards. Your prize will be something that will make you happy.  

If you link to my contest on your blog, I will let you submit two brackets. Everyone else gets one. Start spreading the word and check back by whenever all the playoff teams are locked in for the match-ups and to begin submitting your guesses. Cutoff time for submissions is going to be just before the first game start time on Friday. Good luck everyone!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Case of the Sundays- Brian Matusz

Depending on how today's start turns out, Brian Matusz could end the season with the highest season ERA EVER for a pitcher who has made at least ten starts in a season. That's a precipitous fall for the Orioles former #1 pitching prospect.
Here's the top bottom 10 all-time, straight from the School of Roch.

1. Brian Matusz, 2011, Orioles, 1-8, 10.68 ERA, 11 starts
2. Roy Halladay, 2000, Toronto, 4-7, 10.64 ERA, 13 starts
3. Charlie Stecher, 1890, Philadelphia, 0-10, 10.32 ERA, 10 starts
4. Micah Bowie, 1999, Atlanta and Cubs, 2-7, 10.24 ERA, 11 starts
5. Aaron Myette, 2002, Texas, 2-5, 10.06 ERA, 12 starts
6. Steve Blass, 1973, Pittsburgh, 3-9, 9.85 ERA, 18 starts
7. Sean Bergman, 2000, Minnesota, 4-5, 9.66 ERA, 14 starts
8. Andy Larkin, 1998, Florida, 3-8, 9.64 ERA, 14 starts
9. Edgar Gonzalez, 2004, Arizona, 0-9, 9.32, 10 starts
10. Todd Van Poppel, 1996, Oakland and Detroit, 3-9, 9.06 ERA, 15 starts

I guess the only positive I can take out of this is that Halladay really turned his career around, so what can't Matusz do the same thing? Let's not focus on how the other eight guys turned out.

Good luck in 2012 Brian, I hope you can right the ship.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Orioles Bobblehead of the Week- Matt Wieters Baysox Figurine

So I know that this isn't exactly a bobblehead, but I keep it with my bobble collection and it's certainly in the same family.

The AA Bowie Baysox gave this figurine away on June 19, 2009 to celebrate Matt Wieters being named the 2008 Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year. Wieters had been a member of the Baysox for the latter half of the '08 season.

Interestingly, Brian Matusz made his Bowie debut the night this was given away, so I was doubly motivated to go to the Baysox game. Coincidentally, the Orioles were giving away the full size Adam Jones bobblehead that same day, so I had to swing a trade to add both to my collection.

I thought it was pretty cool how each figurine was hand numbered out of the seemingly arbitrary number of 1260. Honestly, the face doesn't look much like Matt but the pose is pretty accurate and the paint job is fantastic.

I struggled a bit with this picture, but I wanted to show some of the additional detail on the base, including Wieters' signature, the Baysox logo and the company who sponsored the giveaway.
My goal of showing this figurine today is to show my support for Wiety being named the 2011 Most Valuable Oriole (MVO). Every year the Baltimore sports writers vote for the player who they think had the best overall year for the O's, and I feel like Wieters deserves the honor this season. He was the team's lone All-Star representative and has had his best year at the plate while continuing to call a great game behind it.

I highly doubt that any local writers have ever seen my blog, but, just in case, please give Matt your vote. I have a feeling that JJ Hardy will be the MVO and I can't really argue that, but Wieters is my favorite Oriole and it would be awesome if he could win the award!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Cam Carreon

Camilo "Cam" Carreon was a major league catcher from 1959-66 and played in only four games for the Orioles in 1966 at the tail-end of his career. He is better remembered for the six seasons he spent with the White Sox at the start of his career before short stints in Cleveland and Baltimore. He was mainly a back-up catcher for the 354 MLB games he played in, but he was the White Sox regular catcher in 1962-63.

Following his baseball career, Cam worked in the Tuscon, AZ parks & rec department and as a golf course groundskeeper. He passed away at only 50 years old in 1987. Sadly, his son, Mark, made his MLB debut six days after his father's death in what must have been an emotional day for Mark. 

This 1966 Topps card was the only Orioles card produced during Cam's lifetime (the Orioles Crown set came out in 1991) so it took me some time to track down a signed copy of it. I know that Cam was a catcher but this pose combined with the angle of the picture still seems strange to me. Cam's in a half squat with no catching gear, save his mitt, and the photographer appears to have been slightly above Cam when this picture was taken. Rest in peace Cam.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Way to Go O's

Baltimore is in full spoiler celebratory mode as the O's continue to win series over American League playoff contenders. They've now won three in a row against the Rays, Angels, and Red Sox who are all vying for the A.L. Wild Card spot. Out of those three teams, I would be fine with anyone making it except for the Sawx. And their team seems to feel the same way as they're playing to a 5-16 record so far in some crucial September games.

My original intent was to show an autographed Red Sox card of a player who had also played for the O's, but I try to avoid having signed Yankees or Red Sox cards taint my collection whenever possible, and don't have any to share. Then my thought was to share a card of Mark Reynolds, who homered twice last night to help power the O's to a win. But you've already seen all my autographs of him too.

So I settled on sharing autographs of the four Orioles pitchers who appeared in the game last night and held the Red Sox in check.

Tommy Hunter started last night's game and gave up all four of the Red Sox runs over 6.2 innings. Overall, it was a solid performance against a potentially explosive offense.

Tommy signed and personalized this card for me prior to Sunday's Orioles-Angels game. His autograph is awesome and this is probably the longest signature + inscription combination I've ever received from a player inside a stadium. Nice work Tommy!

Clay Rapada came on in relief of Hunter, who appeared to tweak a leg/groin muscle in the 7th inning but was nearing 100 pitches and likely would have been pulled following the inning anyway. The timing might have been fortuitous though since Rapada is almost certain to get lefties out and he mowed down Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz on only 10 pitches. It was good enough to earn Rapada his second win of the season since the O's took the lead in the top of the eighth.

Next up was Willie Eyre who needed only three pitches to get two outs to close out the eighth inning and earned a hold for the effort. Now that's what I call being efficient with your pitches!

Willie also signed this card for me prior to Sunday's game. For some reason, I forgot to ask him to personalize it for me, but it's still my first in-person autograph of his, so it will be inserted into the collection. 

Jim Johnson, whose current closer status is the worst kept secret in Birdland, came on in the ninth inning to mow the Sawx down in order on only nine pitches. 

And there you have it, the O's first four game series win in Boston since 2003. I always enjoy when we can get rid of silly losing streaks like that; the Birds seem to have some sort of "haven't beaten team X over a certain number of games/series for many years" record against most opponents and they all irk me. 

To recap, three Orioles relievers pitched 2.1 innings of no-hit baseball to close out the game and only needed a combined 22 pitches to get 7 outs. BOOM! That's some effective relief pitching!

I couldn't close out this post without noting how it appears that the Tides stole/borrowed their picture of Rapada for his 2011 Tides team set card. 

This is the picture the O's used for Clay's inclusion in the 2011 team postcard set. It appears to have been taken a split second before the picture on the Tides card. The Tides card has the Orioles logos shopped out, but you can tell that it's from the same sequence of pictures. 
I doubt that anyone else cares about something like that, but I don't remember an Orioles minor league team ever doing that before and figured I would share.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Oriole #908- Pedro Strop

The 908th player to wear the Orioles' uniform in a game is pitcher Pedro Strop, who (pretty much) came to the Orioles from the Rangers in an end of August trade deadline deal for the much maligned Michael Gonzalez. I say pretty much because the Rangers had placed Pedro on waivers and the Orioles somehow were able to choose him as the player to be named later (PTBNL) in the Gonzo transaction. Normally, when the Orioles make one of these late season trades, the PTBNL transforms into cash coming to the O's, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear we would receive an actual player for once.

Pedro was originally signed by the Rockies as an international free agent in 2002 to play shortstop. After he didn't have much success at the plate, they eventually converted him to a pitcher in 2006 before releasing him after the 2008 season. The Rangers then signed him and he has spent parts of the past three seasons pitching for Texas in the Majors.

So far, Pedro has been nothing but dominant since being traded to the O's and has pitched in eight games without giving up a run since his September 3rd debut. Over 7.2 innings pitched, he has only given up two hits, walked two, struck out nine, and has maintained a tidy .5222 WHIP. Those numbers will be almost impossible to keep up over time, but it's a great start nonetheless.

Pedro's only major card release to this point in his career was 2010 Upper Deck. I didn't have any cards of his so had to buy this card online and it's a little bit of a busier design than I generally would choose but it was my favorite of his cards. I can't really tell what's going on with his signature, but I like the squiggle inside the larger loop.

Keep up the great work Pedro!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nearing the End...& Luis Carlos Garcia

As another baseball season is coming to a close, I think it's an appropriate time to discuss how I'm also nearing the end of my Orioles autograph collection. As things stand today, I need only nine autographs to have something signed by all 910 players who have appeared in a game for the O's. However, there are 33 other players who I still could (theoretically at least) upgrade to a signed Orioles card. So I guess that I'm technically 42 autographs away from completing my collection.

No worries though, this blog won't be going away anytime soon since I still have hundreds of scanned Orioles autographs that have never been shown here. That, and the fact that the O's seem to feature about 20 new players every season, should give me fodder for posts for years to come.

So why am I bringing all of this up today? Because I recently added one of the most elusive modern Orioles autographs to my collection.

Luis Carlos Garcia was drafted by the White Sox in 1994 and spent the next four seasons playing in their minor league system before returning to his native Mexico to play in the Mexican League for two seasons. The Orioles then signed him to a contract on November 12, 2001 and he played in the only six MLB games of his career for the O's in April and May 2002. In those six games, he was used as a pinch runner, pinch hitter, and as a defensive replacement in the outfield, always in the late innings of games, so he only had three big league at-bats, and went 1-3 with a strikeout. Luis's last appearance with the O's was on May 30th, and he spent the remainder of the season with the AAA Rochester Red Wings. Following the season, Luis went back home to Mexico and has stayed there ever since; he has played the past seven seasons in the Mexican League with six different teams.

As far as I can tell, through the mail (TTM) autograph requests are pretty much a dead end with players in the Mexican League and Luis is obscure enough that there aren't many of his autographs floating around. Further complicating matters is that he wasn't the only Luis Garcia playing in the Majors in the early 2000's so it's been difficult to separate him from the other Luis Garcia's who have played in the same time period.

During his short MLB career, Luis was featured on two cards in an Orioles uniform (this 2002 Fleer Box Score and the 02 Upper Deck 40 Man set), so there is still a chance to one day upgrade my signed black & white Winston Salem Warthogs custom to an autographed Orioles card. I have both of his Orioles cards in my collection and have a line on a collector who travels to Mexico each season, so I'm hoping that Luis plays again in 2012 and that my contact can somehow cross paths with him. 

Even if I can't upgrade my autograph of Luis, I'm relieved to have AN autograph of his; the remaining nine players that I don't have autographs of all played in the 1950's & 60's, so Luis stuck out like a sore thumb on my need list.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Congratulations to the 2011 Carolina League Champion Frederick Keys!

The Frederick Keys, the Orioles' hi A affiliate, won the Carolina League Championship on Saturday night as they took down the Kinston Indians three games to one. It's the first title won by one of the O's nearby affiliates since I got into following the Orioles' minor leagues in 2008. While I only made it out to Frederick for about five games this season, it's still exciting to know that some of the young players in the Orioles farm system will be accustomed to winning by the time they reach Baltimore. And maybe, just maybe, things like that can build the Orioles into a winner. It never hurts to be optimistic, right?

To celebrate the championship, here are the autographs I have of everyone on their 2011 playoff roster. (I'm only missing outfielder, Glynn Davis, a late season call-up from the short season Aberdeen Ironbirds.) I'm using their signed 2011 Orioles Minor League issues whenever possible.








Everybody shake your Keys! Congrats Guys!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Case of the Sundays- Bobblehead Edition

Yesterday, you saw one of my favorite bobbleheads. Today I present to you my least favorite.

Friggin' Adam Loewen. I just wrote about him last week, so click the link if you missed why I dislike this guy so much. I don't feel like repeating the story, but long story short, he screwed over the Orioles. 

To disrepect Loewen, I've intentionally misaligned the pictures of his bobblehead. That'll show him not to mess with us Orioles fans alright. 

In all fairness, the Baysox gave away this bobblehead back on August 7, 2008 back when Loewen was still in good graces with the O's and their fans. The AA Baysox did a pretty nice job with it and overall, it looks a fair amount like the traitorous Loewen. Hopefully, this will be the last time that I have to utter his name, and I'll make an attempt to not feature him on the blog ever again.