Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Moving Experience

For all of you out there who probably don't know, my wife and I recently moved. Luckily, it was a relatively local move, but a move nonetheless. And it's at least partially to blame for my infrequent, and at times, uninspired posts.

Besides the autographs that I obtained and scanned from Orioles Fanfest in late January, I haven't scanned any of the other new additions that I've added to my collection. You see, the thing is that I have some (somewhat) interesting things to say about most of those autographs, while many of these autographs that have been sitting in my to-be-posted folder are signatures that leave me lacking for words.

Like this autograph of current Orioles owner, Peter Angelos. I don't really collect autographs of Orioles owners, but I got this one for cheap on ebay a few years back. Whoever got this signed had pretty nice seats, as I don't sit in $68 seats, unless someone else is buying.

Angelos has owned the team for quite some time and certain segments of the fan-base aren't very supportive of him. While I don't personally understand some of the moves that he has made during his tenure of owning the team, I think that he has the best intentions most of the time, but things just haven't always worked out for the best. He was born and raised in Baltimore and I think that the thing he wants most is for his hometown Orioles to be a playoff-caliber team. Which it seems like they might be nowadays.

I'm sure that some of you out there likely have different opinions about him, but it seems like the team is certainly heading in the right direction at this point, even if it took a number of years to get there.

In summary, please stick with me, until I get my card station reestablished at my new place. I hope that it won't be long now. Both for the blog and my sanity.

Monday, February 25, 2013

I Love Spring Training Games

MASN, the local Orioles TV network, broadcast the first Orioles game of the year today, and it is always great to see some Orioles baseball again after four long months. 

The network almost always airs O's home games played at their stadium in Sarasota, so the game typically begins with a fairly typical Orioles line-up, featuring many of the regular starters. But, as I'm sure you all know, as the innings pass by during Spring games, the regulars slowly disappear from the game, and they are replaced by players trying to make the 25 man rosters and/or minor leaguers trying to show off their skills. 

I think that I get the most enjoyment out of watching these late innings of games. They help me to get acquainted with new players in the organization and remind me about some minor leaguers I have seen play in the organization over the years. 

Towards the end of today's contest, both Xavier Avery, and L.J. Hoes made an appearance. Respectively the O's 2nd- & 3rd-round draft picks in the '08 draft, both players made their Orioles debuts last season. (Avery debuted on May 13th as Oriole #926 & Hoes appeared in just a single game on September 25th, the final debut of the season, as Oriole #942.) 

The late innings of Spring games are a great chance to catch a glimpse of players who will eventually make it to Baltimore, while some others never will.  

Interestingly enough, former Oriole, and one-time late innings Spring Training guy, Pedro Florimon, is currently in camp with the Twins and played against the Orioles in Saturday's Spring Training opener.

While a guy like Jai Miller, who I probably considered a near lock to become an Oriole at some point at this time last year, never came close to making it to Baltimore and had actually slid down to AA Bowie by the end of the season. 

This off-season, Miller retired from baseball, and announced that he is returning to college to play football at Alabama. Seems like he came to a fork in the road and decided to take it. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Random Autograph Saturday- Tom Matchick

I'm reviving a long-forgotten feature around here to highlight some of the remaining, unposted autographs in my collection. I've said it before, and I apologize if it seems repetitive, but many of the autographs that I have yet to show off feature players that I just don't have a lot to say about. It's nothing personal, but sometimes, shockingly, I don't have much to say. 

Tom Matchick is a near perfect example of a player who leaves me at a loss for words. He was a utility player in the Majors between 1967-72, and he appeared in the Orioles for just the final three games of the '72 season, in what proved to be his last Major League action, although he continued playing in the Minors through 1976. The highlight of his career seems to be that he was a member of the 1968 Detroit Tigers World Series Championship squad.

As far as I can recall, I obtained this autograph in a trade, so I don't have any interesting back-stories about that side of things either.

But anyway, that's about all I have to say about Mr. Matchick.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

2013 Topps Heritage Orioles

As I promised yesterday, here is a breakdown of the Orioles included on the 2013 Topps Heritage Checklist. And my comments on each inclusion, whether you want my opinion or not.

Nick Markakis- pretty standard, has probably represented the O's in almost every Topps set in the past 7 years, except '13 Series 1
Jason Hammel- only his third O's card, but also third consecutive Topps appearance ('12 update, '13 series 1) to decrease my excitement
Manny Machado/Dylan Bundy RC- both have multiple O's cards but first combo card would like great if both sign it
J.J. Hardy- pretty much another one you expect to see, but like Markakis was also left out of '13 Series 1
Jim Johnson- if he pitches like he did last year and remains the closer, he should be in most sets for the forseeable future
Buck Showalter- absolutely deserved, but likely included because the 1964 set this series is modeled off of included managers
Nolan Reimold- a bit of a surprise as he didn't play in any games last season after April 30th, this would be logical spot for McLouth card
Tommy Hunter- similar situation to Hammel, this is his third nearly consecutive (he was in '12 Series 2 instead of Update) Topps card
Luis Ayala- see Hammel & Hunter; dear Topps, this was a nice spot to give O'Day/Strop their 2nd O's card instead of giving Ayala his 3rd

By this point in the set, I was rather pissed about how the set was taking shape. A few guys with not many Orioles cards, but nothing earth-shaking nor first-timers.

Miguel Gonzalez- Until this guy! Finally, a deserving player being given his first O's card. And his MILB cards are few and far between too
Chris Tillman- deserves the inclusion after finding himself last year, but one of many of his O's cards
Joe Saunders- and here is the dagger, an official Orioles card of a guy who left town; it's always a chore to get cards signed once they leave
Adam Jones SP- Kind of surprising to see Jonesy as a short print, but I have plenty of his cards, so it's all good
Wei-Yin Chen SP- same with Chen, but I don't have quite as many of his cards, might need to track this one down

In addition to these base cards, two other Orioles insert cards caught my attention: a Clubhouse Collection relic card featuring Chris Davis (possibly commemorating his day on the pitching mound in Boston), and a Chris Tillman error short print, that likely will feature some sort of photo variation.

So there you have it, my official take on the Orioles included in the 2013 Topps Heritage set. Here's what I said after my review of 2013 Topps Series 1 "However, I was expecting to see Nate McLouth and Miguel Gonzalez featured for the first time as Orioles, especially after last year's playoff run. And it's strange that both Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy were passed over, but you can't include everyone in every set. But, if it was up to me, I would have included Markakis, Hardy, McLouth, Gonzalez, and probably Wei-Yin Chen, Ryan Flaherty, and Wilson Betemit over the combination of Reynolds, Arrieta, Hoes, Andino, Matusz, Ayala, and Chavez." So it appears that I nailed the inclusion of Markakis, Hardy, Gonzalez, and Chen, as well as the players who possibly shouldn't have been included, minus Ayala. But when is Nate McLouth going to get some Orioles card love? Topps generally loves taking advantage of the former star comes back to make a postseason impact story, and I'm shocked that McLouth didn't make the cut in either of the 2013 sets. 

And mainly because I don't want to write back to back image-less posts, here is an autographed 1964 Topps Orioles card of Bob Saverine, to show the basic template for the 2013 set. Bob played in six MLB seasons between 1959-67, including 170 games over parts of four years spent with the O's. He holds the American League record for having gone 0-12 in a 1966 doubleheader during his time in Baltimore, and definitely seems to have made it to the big leagues more for his defensive prowess than his skills with the bat.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Beckett Releases 2013 Topps Heritage Checklist

(Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that my last post was a week ago when I speculated the the start of Spring Training might hearken an increase in my posting here. Well, it hasn't yet, but I hope it will soon. One post a week isn't good enough for you Orioles autograph fans.)

Yesterday, Beckett posted the final checklist for 2013 Topps Heritage. From an Orioles fan perspective, there aren't too many surprises but a couple of players will be featured on their first card as an Oriole. Since I reviewed the Orioles who were included in the 2013 Topps Series 1 set last month, I will do the same with the 2013 Heritage Orioles. I hope to have that review up tomorrow, which at least would mark my second post of the week, and an improvement over last week!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Happy Orioles Pitchers and Catchers Reporting Day! of today, baseball is officially back. This is always one of my favorite days of the year, mainly for the anticipation it brings for the coming season. It doesn't sound like the Orioles did much today outside of maybe showing up to the Ed Smith complex in Sarasota, and possibly taking physicals or something, but I'm excited nonetheless. 

And maybe (hopefully) the return of baseball will provide the impetus I need to get back to blogging regularly. 

(picture "borrowed" from O's Facebook page)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Upgrading Rich Coggins

For a number of years, it was pretty hard to track down an autograph of Rich Coggins. That is, until the past year and a half or so during which Rich has completed a few private signings, so is signature is more widely available if not still somewhat hard to find. 

Well, I was lucky enough to get in on one of the private signings and get my card signed and personalized by the man who came in 6th place in the 1973 Rookie of the Year voting during his time with the O's. All told, Rich played three seasons in Baltimore during his five year MLB career.

The interesting part about the signed & personalized Orioles Crown card above is that it is considered to be Rich's "good signature". I mean, I know that my signature is nothing to write home about, but when that's considered your good signature, what does the bad one look like?

This is what the bad one looks like, and is what the Crown card replaced in my collection. So if anyone out there needs a bad signature of Rich, I've got one available.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Earl Williams

Sadly, another former Oriole passed away this past week when former catcher, Earl Williams, died from complications of leukemia on Thursday.

Earl played with the Orioles during the 1973-74 seasons and was a former N.L. Rookie of the Year. I wrote about him in 2011, and used his story to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. day that year. I don't have much to add about him since then, but after his passing, I've read some stories about him after his playing days, and it sounds like he was a pretty great guy.  RIP Earl.

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 not very smart, says "Me fail English? That's unpossible."