Monday, November 23, 2009

Jason Berken, the anti-Cy Young?

Joe Posnanski has awarded Jason Berken his "anti-Cy Young" award, noting that "Basically, the whole league was an MVP candidate when Jason Berken was on the hill."

Posnanski's says he's not giving up on the young O's hurler: "Berken was only a rookie, and there is reason to believe he still has a bright future ahead of him, maybe in the bullpen. So I'm not writing off his future by any means."

However, the writer had a hard time overlooking this line: "The league -- the whole league -- hit .327/.384/.522 against him."

Read the full article here

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Taking it back to the Old School

Your work day just became even less efficient.

Thanks to The Lost Ogle, I located the Internet version of RBI Baseball 2, where you can reunite many of the 1989 Why Not? Orioles.

Choose among Jeff Ballard, Bob Milacki, Dave  Schmidt, and Pete Harnisch for your starting pitcher.  (Where's the Pride of Middle River?)

Go with the regular starting lineup that includes Cal in the three hole, Mickey "Fruit Loops" Tettleton batting cleanup, and Joltin' Joe O offering protection in the five spot.

Or look to the bench for Steve Finley, Bob Melvin, Billy Ripken, Jim Traber, and Brady Anderson.

(Want another flashback? The Lost Ogle also  provides this YouTube clip from "Dream Team." Listen for the Ken Gerhart and Rene Gonzalez references.)

As if you needed another distraction.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembering One of Baseball's Military Veterans

Bob Neighbors of the St. Louis Browns appeared in seven big league games, totaling two hits in 11 plate appearances in 1939. One of those hits was the 21-year-old's lone career home run, a solo shot to left at Fenway Park on Sept. 21 against Denny Galehouse.

An estimated 598 fans saw the rookie's first hit. Fellow rookie Ted Williams, playing for the Red Sox, went 0-for-4 in the game Boston won 6-2.

Nearly thirteen years later, on Aug. 8, 1952, Neighbors, at age 34, was shot down during the Korean War. He was listed as missing in action and later declared dead.

Neighbors was the only major league player killed in the Korean War. Williams survived a crash-landing after his jet was hit during a bombing run.

Here are two profiles of Neighbors worth reading:

Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society - Bob Neighbors: A Hero Remembered, by Ronnie Joyner

SABR's Baseball Biography Project - Bob Neighbors, by Bill Nowlin

Image Source: Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just Call Adam Jones Silence, Because He's Golden

Orioles center fielder Adam Jones was awarded his first Gold Glove on Tuesday, making him the team's second Golden Glove outfielder after Paul Blair who won eight.

The good news for Jones is that every Orioles Gold Glover - there are 12 others - has won the award more than once. And for multiple Gold Glove winners in Baltimore, consecutive wins are the norm.

Only Luis Aparicio, Blair, Mark Belanger, and Roberto Alomar won multiple Gold Gloves in non-consecutive fashion. The team's other winners are Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson, Davey Johnson, Bobby Grich, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, Mike Mussina, and Rafael Palmeiro.

(See the detailed list of O's winners here.)

Blair set a high bar for Jones in the outfield; coming into today's announcement his career Gold Glove total trailed only five other outfielders: Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays (12 each), Ken Griffey Jr., Andruw Jones, and Al Kaline (10 each).

However, Torii Hunter and Ichiro each earned their ninth Gold Glove on Tuesday, bumping Blair down on the list.

As for the team record, that bar isn't even in sight for Jones. Only pitchers Greg Maddux (18) and Jim Kaat (16) have equaled or exceeded Robinson's 16 career Gold Gloves, which he earned at third base for the Orioles every year from 1960 through 1975.

However, Jones is already halfway to Ripken's two Gold Gloves, earned in 1991 and 1992.

Orioles shortstops have done well overall: Mark Belanger totaled eight Gold Gloves while Luis Aparicio earned nine, though only two - in 1964 and 1966 - came with the Birds. 

Among pitchers, Mussina won four of his seven career Gold Gloves with the O's. His total in Baltimore matches that of Palmer, who won the award each season from 1976 through 1979.

At second base, Alomar (1996 and 1998) won two of his 10 Gold Gloves while wearing the orange and black. Alomar's career total is tops among all second baseman, one better than Ryne Sandberg of the Cubs.

Other O's second basemen to win multiple awards at the position are four-time winner Bobby Grich (1973-1976) and three-time winner Davey Johnson (1969-1971).

Eddie Murray (1982-1984) and Rafael Palmeiro (1997-1999) each won three Gold Gloves at first base, although Palmeiro's final award came with Texas.

See The Sun's story about Jones' award here.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Happy Randy Milligan Day

It's Randy Andre "Moose" Milligan day in Baltimore.

Twenty one years ago today, on Nov. 9, 1988, the Orioles acquired Milligan from the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named later, who turned out to be Peter Blohm.

Milligan played four seasons in Baltimore. He hit for a .258 average, with 59 home runs, and 228 RBI. More impressive, he maintained a .388 on-base percentage. Milligan slugged a career high 20 home runs in 1990. Blohm, meanwhile, never advanced beyond the Triple-A level.

Milligan emerged as a central figure in the Birds' Why Not? season. His game-tying three-run homer at Fenway Park on Aug. 2, 1989 is a key highlight from that magical year. The clout helped the Orioles avoid a four-game sweep in Boston and extended the team's lead over the then-second place Red Sox to two games.

Like many O's fans, I have a soft spot for the Moose. Among other factors that made him so likable to me, Milligan hit a batting practice home run that landed in my teenage hands at Memorial Stadium. It's one of only two baseballs I caught as a kid. The other came off the bat of the Milwaukee Brewers' Dante Bichette.

Here are some appreciations for Milligan from the blog-O's-phere: Camden Chat, Orioles Card "O" the Day, Birds in the Belfry (an outstanding chronicle of the '89 season).

Image Source: Baseball Almanac.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Sure, it got the Yankees a ring, but what else does $423.5 million buy?

The Yankees spent $423.5 million during the off-season, and what did they get in return?
C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Mark Teixeira, and a World Series ring.

That's nice and all, but have you considered what else you could buy for that kind of money?
-You could have your choice of 17 other MLB franchises, 18 if you ponied up an additional $3 million for the Seattle Mariners. The Yankees already treat smaller market organizations like their own farm teams. Why not make it official? 
-You could pay off Barack Obama's campaign debt and still have plenty left over to lobby on behalf of the Evil Empire. Given the team's lack of success with Republicans in the White House, it'd be a wise investment. 

-How about purchasing the stadium naming rights for two of the Yankees' three vanquished playoff opponents - the Phillies and Twins? Heck, maybe you can convince the Angels to sell their ballpark's name while you're at it.

-Perhaps you heard the Boston Globe was available this summer? I'm sure Red Sox fans would appreciate the gesture.

-Just because you're rich doesn't mean you can't be thrifty. Check out the McDonald's Dollar Value Menu. That kind of money is good for 423.5 million Hot Fudge Sundaes.

-A nice centaur painting can be had for $3,700. Those two over A-Rod's bed may not be enough to satisfy his ego.

-Derek Jeter can't get enough Minka Kelly. Take care of your franchise player with six million copies of the "Friday Night Lights" three DVD set.
-Oh, and A-Rod can't get enough of Kate Hudson. But he's an easy target regardless of how many post-season RBI he gets. Buy 36 million copies of "You, Me and Dupree" and ask him what he thinks of Owen Wilson's performance. 

-Mark Teixeira would make good use of four million Don Mattingly jerseys.

-Why not download 423.5 million copies of "My Way" on I-Tunes and see if you can ruin another Sinatra classic?
-While you're on I-Tunes, check out "Empire State of Mind"? Forget buying the song; buy the artist. Jay-Z's a veritable steal at $150 million. You can throw in Russell Simmons for a little Old School flavor at $110 million and house them each in their own Yankee Stadium suite.
Then again, the Yankees are traditionalists at heart. They believe in the purity of the game just like everyone else.

And $423.5 million buys a hell of a lot of peanuts and cracker jacks.

Former Orioles Sporting World Series Rings

Jerry Hairston played one season in New York, appearing in 45 games.

Mike Mussina played eight seasons in New York, starting 248 games.

Hairston has a World Series ring; Mussina never won one.

You can call it the "Curse of Mussina" or pair the former Orioles ace with Don Mattingly and pronounce the pair "the two unluckiest men to ever don the pinstripes"; Mike Mussina still says he has no regrets about retiring after last season.

Fair enough. But does he know about Josh Towers?

Towers, who started his career in Baltimore when Mussina left Charm City, pitched two games for the Yankees this season.

Yes, even he now has a World Series ring.