Thursday, March 27, 2014

Brad Brach Finally Gets It Right

In one of my posts after Fanfest, I wrote about how relief pitcher Brad Brach misspelled my name as "Brian" at the paid signing. I was a bit disappointed, but it has happened a few times over the years. It's a combination of having a name that sounds much like another similar name, and not having the clearest speaking voice. 

I knew that I would see him again at Spring Training and would try to have him correctly personalize one of his cards. 

And I got this...

Now even with having the issues with my name that I mentioned above, this being the second time it happened with Brad, I was wondering whose fault it was at this point. Now, I never want to say anything bad about a player who takes their time to sign for me, but I was disappointed. 

Luckily, I had another one of my dad's OMC of Brad with me, so this time, I spoke up, very respectfully, not trying to overstep my request for an autograph, and asked if he could personalize to Ryan. 

He was very cool about the whole thing and kindly signed and personalized one more card for me, I think he might have even apologized for misspelling it the first time. And I finally had my autograph of his personalized to me, Ryan, as well as some respect for a very compliant autograph signer. 

Brad was just sent to the minors a few days ago, but he had a great spring and I don't doubt that he will make it to Baltimore in the near future. 

And if there are any Orioles autograph collectors out there named Brian or Bryan, do I ever have an autograph you might be interested in! 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spring Training Autos Ready to Join the Collection

Today's focus is on the autographs that I got on my Spring Training trip that are ready to plug into my collection if and when these players debut for the Orioles this season. I've tried to list them in the order of likelihood that they end up in Baltimore at some point, starting from the most likely down to the least. 

I have a pretty good feeling that Evan Meek will be on the 25 man roster that breaks camp. Looks like Evan agrees with me. 

If Meek isn't the last member of the bullpen that breaks camp, then I'm pretty sure it will be Alfredo, who is out of options while Meeks isn't, but Meeks has pitched better. This one should be interesting. 

I'm pretty sure that Brock was merely a victim of the roster crunch, and that he impressed Buck enough to eventually make it to Baltimore this year. 

Almanzar is an interesting case since he is a Rule V pick from the Red Sox, if that wasn't the case, he would be much further down this list. He is currently injured, which seems to even further muddy the waters on this, so really only time will tell. I am pretty sure that the O's would like to keep him in the system if it's a possibility.


The O's seem to be intrigued by Berry's speed and could certainly use a pinch-running stolen base threat, so he will likely make an appearance at some point.

Eddie and his knuckleball was likely another victim of the roster crunch, but he also seems to have impressed Buck this spring. And I know that the creator of these awesome Old Man Cards is certainly in his corner! (My dad has run into Eddie's dad each spring the past three years, and they seem to have hit it off.)

We have officially entered crapshoot territory, I'm not really sure about the chances of any of the rest of these guys. Depending on injuries with the big league club and their performance, anything is possible. 

Ivan seemed to battle some small injuries this spring and struggled to make his way into games. Who knows?

I'm pretty sure that Tim will play for the Orioles someday in the future, but I'm not convinced it will be during the 2014 season. 

I really don't know what to make of Xavier's chances; he played in the late innings of a lot of games, but I don't know what he brings to the table that some of these others do not.

Chris was injured for a vast majority of the spring and never made it into a big league game. If he can stay healthy and put up a strong season, it's possible he could make it to Baltimore.

I have an inkling that Cord Phelps might be the 2014 version of Russ Canzler, knocking on the big league door but never quite cracking the club. 

Johnny Monell is currently in DFA(designated for assignment) limbo after being taken off the 40 man roster to make room for David Adams. He lost the spring back-up catcher competition to Steve Clevenger and would likely stay at Norfolk if he stays in the system.

 Fabio spent a good chunk of the Spring at big league camp, but worked mainly in mop-up type duty. I would be surprised to see him in Baltimore. Side note- I got to use my rudimentary Spanish skills to ask Fabio to personalize this card for me.

Jonah has a good shot to play in Baltimore down the road, but is probably a few years away at this point. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Another One Bites the Dust

The Orioles made a relatively small trade yesterday, sending veteran infielder Alex Gonzalez to the Tigers in return for utility infielder, Steve Lombardozzi. On paper, it's a great trade in that the O's traded a 37 year old player who was signed on a minor league deal and likely would have been used mostly as a short-term fill-in at third base during Manny Machado's absence for a 25 year old who can more easily move around the infield and is under team control for four more years.

If nothing else, it's a nice depth move that looks towards the future of the club, and it sounds like Lombardozzi is expected to make the 25-man roster out of Spring Training and head north with the team. But it also sounds like that would have been true with Gonzalez. And I would have been much happier from an autograph standpoint.

Because I had some pretty solid success with Alex during my spring training trip. This card was ready to slide right into the collection.

And these were ready be used as trade bait. 

But at least someone still might be able to use this one...

 I'll trade it for an autograph of Lombardozzi. Anyone?

*This is the second time this off-season that one of my signed and personalized OMC Orioles cards are not going into my collection due to roster moves. But if anyone needs an autograph of Liam Hendriks or Alex Gonzalez, I'm your guy.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Terry Mathews 2

Just over two years ago, former Orioles pitcher Terry Mathews passed away at the way too young age of 47. I wrote a post about his passing at the time.

I mentioned in that post that Terry was featured on just a single card Orioles card that came out fairly well after his time in Baltimore and near the end of his career. And it was in the relatively obscure Pacific Online set to boot. I figured that I would never find a signed copy of that card. You can fairly easily find his autograph on his many Rangers and Marlins cards, but I thought it was entirely possible that Terry had never signed a single copy of that Orioles card. Until about two weeks ago, that is.

This bad boy is now in my collection and I couldn't be happier. I got it for a very reasonable price and I was able to knock another name off of my need list. Day, made.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My First In-Person Alexi Casilla Autograph

Every now and then, a random Orioles player will seem to elude my autograph seeking over a period of time. A few years ago, that player was Julio Lugo. Last year, chiefly in Spring Training, it was Alexi Casilla. He was one of the few new Orioles players who did not sign for me last year (admittedly in part because I spent less time overall graphing after my spring trip). My dad did get his autograph for me after I had to fly back north, but I finally got my first in-person signature from him during this years trip to spring training. 

From speaking with other graphers in Sarasota, Alexi doesn't stop to sign very often, so I seem to have lucked out. Unfortunately, I got a bit greedy and handed Alexi two cards, thinking that a back-up infielder competing for a spot on the roster would sign more than one card. But I was wrong, and he signed and personalized this card, which was created by and I had intended to send to my autograph trading buddy, Russell. Sorry Russell, I tried, but the signals got crossed and he personalized your card instead of the Old Man Card that I had handed him.

But I guess that I finally got his autograph, and that's got to count for something!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My Toughest Spring Training Autographs

I attended four Spring Training games on my trip this year (it would have been five, but one was rained out), and I spent a good chunk of each day trying to get autographs. I spent sometime before, during, and after each game trying to get signatures of the O's players and two of them seemed to elude me day in and day out. While I certainly didn't get autographs of everyone on the team, Delmon Young and Julio Borbon remained just out of my reach, at least until the last day.

*For what it's worth- I didn't see Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Tommy Hunter, Darren O'Day, Ryan Webb, Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, or Steve Pearce sign at all, but I already have their autographs and wasn't trying as hard for them.

Between Young and Borbon, Delmon certainly has a much better chance at playing for the O's in 2014; in fact, Borbon was sent to minor league camp the day I left Florida. But depending on how everything works out this year, either of them could conceivably make an appearance in Baltimore at some point. And I always prefer to be prepared in that case.

I heard a few times before my trip that Delmon was not an easy signature to get, so I figured he would be a tough get. I know he has had a few "incidents" over the years that might back up a surly demeanor, but I know that we all can change, so didn't want to judge. I asked him a few times to sign at games, and he turned me down at least twice with standard variations of the "not now" excuse. When he finally did sign, I have to give him credit that he came down the third base line in Bradenton to sign for a handicapped fan who I happened to be standing next to at the time.

Julio Borbon was not someone who I anticipated having any trouble getting a card signed by, but he didn't seem to spend much time signing autographs. The day he signed for me, I honestly didn't see him signing for anyone else, so this could be the only autograph he signed over the four games I attended. I'm just happy that he signed it for me!

I will continue to show off my Spring Training autographs over the coming weeks, hopefully wrapping them up by Opening Day. And I need to do a final count on how many of these old man cards I got signed, because I'm guessing they were easily at least 50% of what I got signed down there.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Heading for the Colleciton

A vast majority of the autographs that I got during my Spring Training Trip were of players who have yet to have played for the Orioles. In fact, quite a few of them might never appear in a game for the Orioles, but since you can never predict that sort of thing in early March, I always try to get their signed Orioles cards so that I can just slide it into my collection if/when they make their Orioles debut. A preventative strike, if you will.

Today, I'm going to show off a few autographs that I got on my trip that I am quite confident are heading straight for my collection, for a few various reasons.

I'll start out with the personalized upgrades of players who have already appeared in a game with the O's, so they will be directly slotted into my collection.

I'll start with Bud Norris, whose autograph I got on this Orioles card for the first time at FanFest thanks to Aaron. And now I have it personalized too!

I always get excited when the O's bring in former players to help out at camp. Todd Frohwirth has been a scout for the organization for a few years but is based on the west coast so rarely appears at games in Baltimore. He was in Sarasota to help current side-armed reliever Darren O'Day on his "mechanics" or whatever those wacky sidewinders call their pitching motion. 

Jack Cust was also back in camp with the Birds, after they signed him to a minor league contract. He seemed like a really nice guy when I ran into him at the team's minor league camp.

Next up are the two players who the O's signed this off-season that I am quite confident will end up playing some games in Baltimore, Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz.

Finally, I was able to add/upgrade some autographs for my coaches collection. 

Bobby Dickerson and Einar Diaz were both on the coaching roster last year and I was able to get their personalized signatures. 

While Dom Chiti and Dave Wallace are both new in town but were nice enough to sign and personalize their cards as well.


 As always, thanks to my dad for producing these awesome old man cards.I don't know how many people comment about them and pass along their complements but you do a really great job on them! Thanks old man!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I'm Back In Town

I have returned to the Arctic Tundra of good old Baltimore from the enjoyable sunshine of Sarasota, and for the most part, I wish that I didn't have to be back. It's always amazing to get an early taste of baseball, but it makes coming back north and waiting three more weeks for another game that much harder.

The Orioles went 4-0 in the games I attended and the team looks solid, pretty much from the top to the bottom. I'm hoping for and thinking that 2014 will be a good season in Birdland.

I also got a bunch of autographs, 120 to be exact. I was very excited to get so many signatures, and a vast majority of those are of players on the Orioles 40 man roster. Very few players eluded me over the five days that I spent trying to obtain autographs, so I'm well prepared for the pending 2014 O's debuts.

Here's a glimpse of one of the autographs I got. Since Matt is my favorite player, and I pretty much only ever get his autograph during Spring Training, this seems like an appropriate card to serve as a representative for my all of my other autographs until I have the time to get them scanned.

I hope to get everything scanned in the next few days, but for now, I'm just going to list the players who signed for me. Some signed multiples, others only signed one, but I get at least one signature from all of these players/coaches.

Alfredo Aceves
Michael Almanzar
Quintin Berry
Julio Borbon
Brad Brach
Zach Britton
Alexi Casilla
Fabio Castillo
Wei-Yin Chen
Dom Chiti
Steve Clevenger
Nelson Cruz
Ivan De Jesus
Kelvin De La Cruz
Einar Diaz
Bobby Dickerson
Eddie Gamboa
Alex Gonzalez
Brock Huntzinger
Ubaldo Jimenez
Caleb Joseph
Wayne Kirby
David Lough
Manny Machado
Nick Markakis
Chris Marrero
T.J. McFarland
Evan Meek
Johnny Monell
Bud Norris
Xavier Paul
Cord Phelps
Jim Presley
Eduardo Rodriguez
Jonathan Schoop
Chris Tillman
Henry Urrutia
Dave Wallace
Brian Ward
Jemile Weeks
Matt Wieters
Suk-Min Yoon
Delmon Young