Friday, January 30, 2009

Ripken's Retro Jersey and Sidney's Rich Real Estate

Some end-of-the-week odds and ends

by Matthew Taylor

From the Roar from 34 mailbag, Jill writes in with a question for O's fans and collectors. Jill, whose uncles shared many a game with their friend Wild Bill in Section 34 at Memorial Stadium, is looking for tips on where to find a Billy Ripken jersey.

Aside from personalizing an O's jersey at MLB Shop, do any Roar from 34 readers have a lead on a Billy Ripken jersey for Jill? If so, send her an email at and/or post what you know in the comments section.

In other news, Sir Sidney has signed on to play for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. The native of Aruba, an autonomous region within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, will operate under the tutelage of pitching coach Bert Blyleven. No word yet on whether this is part of his community service obligation to the island of Aruba.

And speaking of Sidney, word has it that the Yankee free agent is selling his Ft. Lauderdale mansion for nearly $5 million.
"Some of the more interesting features of the house, according to listing information, would be the hidden wine closet tucked under the staircase, the two laundry rooms≠1 up and 1 down [ ... ] and last but not least, a panic room, a high-cost feature of increasing numbers of paranoid rich people."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Roberts Shares Stolen Base Wisdom in New Book

Given a contract extension, he'll likely end up as the O's all-time leader in steals

by Matthew Taylor

Brian Roberts and his father, Coach Mike Roberts, have released an instructional book, "You Can't Steal Second Base And Keep Your Foot on First!" The book comes with a DVD of Roberts stealing bases during the 2007 and 2008 season, including an opening clip of the O's second baseman victimizing former Blue Jay and current teammate, Gregg Zaun.

Here's an excerpt from Roberts introduction to the book.

"A position player has four areas around which to build his game. These are defense, offense, throwing and running. I was not nearly as good as most of my teammates growing up in any of the main areas except running. In order for a player to continue to move up through the different levels of baseball he has to find one skill in which he excels. Since I was one of the smaller players on the field base stealing became that skill for me.


Many players like to practice hitting and some enjoy working on their defense. However, most players do not know how to work on base stealing, show little interest in learning and don't want to put out that effort. I would like to see more players spend time to improve in this area of their game.


I have to keep improving my base stealing. It evolves more each year. As you move up the game changes. This forces a player to continue to work on the details that can make the difference. Mentally, I prepare by watching film, asking for pitchers times, studying catchers, and looking for the best counts.


I am faster at thirty one than I was at twenty three. I regularly work on my speed. Most players do not like to work on their running. However, everyone is capable of improving their quickness and speed.

For me, the best part of stealing bases is I can impact a game immediately."
Roberts has stolen 20 or more bases for six consecutive seasons; his highest totals have come in the past three seasons: 50 (2007), 40 (2008), 36 (2006).

Roberts currently ranks fourth on the O's all-time stolen base list with 226 steals. The team leaders are George Sisler (St. Louis Browns -351), Brady Anderson (307), Al Bumbry (252), Burt Shotton (St. Louis Browns - 247), and Roberts (226). Roberts should pass Shotton and, barring injury or a trade, Bumbry this season. And were he to get the four-year deal he's seeking to stay with the Birds, he would likely retire as the team's all-time leader in stolen bases.

Friday, January 23, 2009

More Love for Wieters

Did you hear that this Wieters kid is pretty good?

by Matthew Taylor

The collective romance (or do the kids call it "bromance" these days?) with Matt Wieters clearly extends beyond the limits of Charm City. First ESPN's Todd Law, now Ted Keith of Sports Illustrated.
"To the many fans who will be learning about him for the first time this spring, Wieters remains a relatively unknown commodity. But to the scouts who have watched him since his high school days in South Carolina and through an All-America career at Georgia Tech, and to those hard-core Orioles fans desperately hoping that he'll lead their team back to respectability, he has been targeted as one of the game's brightest future stars for almost two years."
Best quote (from Wieters): "I'm aware of those expectations, but that's nothing compared to what I expect from myself."

The I-love-the-guy-too-but-that's-a-bit-much.-Did-I-say-a-bit-much?-I-meant-way-too-much anecdote: "Indeed, Wieters seemed to be so blessed with ability that his teammates at Tech nicknamed him God after one especially heavenly performance against Miami in his freshman season, in which he put on a power display while playing pitcher, catcher and first base with equal skill."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Another Day, Another Accolade for Wieters

Hype thy name is Matt Wieters

by Matthew Taylor

ESPN's Keith Law ranks Matt Wieters as baseball's best prospect.
"Wieters is typically compared to one of two current big-leaguers: Mark Teixeira and Joe Mauer. Those are tough comps to hang on a player who has yet to sniff the big leagues, but in Wieters' case, they're merited.


Wieters could start 2009 in the majors, although giving him a one-month stint in Triple-A would give Baltimore the advantage of another year of control before Wieters hits free agency. Other than that possibility, there's nothing stopping him from becoming an impact catcher from Day One."
I wonder what the members of Zaunbie Nation (you can't make this stuff up) think about Wieters.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Eutaw Street Chronicles: May 23, 1992

A well-traveled Lee Stevens homers just days after a most frightening trip

by Matthew Taylor

"I'd have to say this was probably close to the longest homer I've ever hit. We don't have 'tale-of-the-tape' in the minor leagues."

-Lee Stevens, California Angels

May 23, 1992

: Lee Stevens.

Pitcher: Rick Sutcliffe.

Distance: 430 feet.

When it happened: Top of the third, one on, one out.

Final score: Angels 6 - Orioles 2.

Lee Stevens hit the Warehouse, but he did so on one bounce.

Stevens' third-inning shot landed on Eutaw Street - the third such home run in Camden Yards' brief history - and missed the Warehouse on the fly by 33 feet. With the hit, Stevens
took over the title for longest home run at Camden Yards, a 430-foot blast that traveled three feet farther than a Chris Hoiles homer to left field earlier in the 1992 season.

Stevens' Eutaw Street home run ended his 0-for-20 drought against the Orioles, but the player's struggles at the plate paled in comparison to recent events his team faced.

The May 23 game was the Angels' first win since a bus accident two days earlier on the New Jersey Turnpike left manager Buck Rodgers with a fractured rib, broken left knee, and an elbow fractured in six places. Nearly a dozen team members were injured in the accident, which occurred as the Angels traveled to Baltimore following a series with the New York Yankees.

Said Stevens: "It was hard getting on that next bus. Every time we hit a little bump we were all jumpy. I was terrified."

John Wathan, who filled in as manager while Rodgers was on the mend, told the New York Times that it was important to play soon after the accident.

"It is probably as important as getting on our next bus without fear," said Wathan. "You have to jump back in the saddle. We had our accident and now hopefully that will be it."

Wathan kept things light following the Angels' 6-2 victory.

"There's nothing better than a win and a crabcake," he joked.

Including the May 23 Angels - Orioles match-up, 46 home runs had been hit in just 22 games at Camden Yards. When it came to long balls of the Eutaw Street variety, they tended to occur during multi-homer innings.

-Mickey Tettleton's Eutaw Street home run, the first in Camden Yards' history, was part of a back-to-back-to-back series of long balls.

-Kevin Reimer stroked his Eutaw Street homer two batters after teammate Ruben Sierra went deep.

-And Stevens homered two batters prior to Gary Gaetti.

As for Stevens, who joked,"We don't have 'tale-of-the-tape' in the minor leagues," his stay in the majors would be brief. The Angels traded him to the Montreal Expos following the 1992 season, and he was released by his new club in the spring.

Stevens reemerged in Major League Baseball in 1996 after a vagabond existence that included a two-year stop in Japan with the Kintetsu Buffaloes. He played 27 games for the Rangers in '96 after being named that year's MVP of the American Association while playing with the Oklahoma City 89ers.

Stevens won a championship with the 89ers in 1996 and led the team with 32 home runs. His teammates included then-former O's Craig Worthington, Rene Gonzalez, and Jack Voigt, and future Orioles Fernando Tatis and Rick Helling.

Although he never became a true power hitter in the majors, Stevens, a first baseman/outfielder/designated hitter throughout his career, did record five straight seasons of 20 or more home runs starting in 1997.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Notable Quotes from a Busy O's Weekend

It seems they didn't take the long weekend off at the Warehouse

by Matthew Taylor

Baseball has always been a numbers game, even more so in recent years with the advent of Moneyball and additional, detailed empirical measures of player performance.
Nevertheless, symbols still matter to the sport. On both counts, the Orioles came up big when they extended Nick Markakis' contract.

Depending on your perspective, Markakis' performance to this point speaks to either a star in the making or a star who's already been made but not fully recognized. He'll be putting up good numbers - conventional measures and new formulas alike - for years to come. Thankfully he'll be doing so in Orange and Black.

On the symbolic side, the Orioles gave fans a positive counterbalance to the image of Mike Mussina leaving for New York, a long-held symbol of the organization's inability to ante up in a timely fashion and retain homegrown talent. No one wants to think of their team as a farm system for the big money clubs; keeping Markakis in the fold challenges that thinking for Bird loyalists.

Here are some notable quotes on the recent activity at the Warehouse, including the Pie and Bierd deals.

O's extend Markakis; rightfielder can now purchase glove made of gold

"Every dollar that he gets, I think he deserves it. The guy puts up numbers. He's a great defensive player, great in the clubhouse. I'm happy that the Orioles locked him up. He just got married, has a baby on the way. I'm happy as hell for him."

-Adam Jones

"This had to be done if you ask me, and kudos to the front office for getting it done. If you're looking long-term, he's the key cog. He's proved his worth. It's a step in the right direction, a commitment. It's no secret we're playing in a tough division. If you're going to compete, you have to make the right moves. That was one of the smartest moves they've made since I've been here."

-Aubrey Huff

"It's good to see a team take the unused money they had earmarked for a special free agent, who ultimately signed elsewhere, and use it in another productive way.


The Orioles will probably never acknowledge whether Mark Teixeira's spurning their offer for the Yankees' allowed them to reach agreement with Markakis -- or put another way, whether the hypothetical signing of Teixeira would have precluded the Markakis deal -- but mid-market teams like the Orioles have to make hard choices."

-Dave Sheinin, The Washington Post

"It is by far the most significant move made by the Orioles this offseason. To keep Markakis at a little more than $10 million a year over the next six years is huge for the O's and their future."

-Steve DeClue, Baltimore Examiner

Garrett Olson traded for Felix Pie, witty headlines follow

"I had the opportunity to play every day in the minors, and everybody knew me in the minors. In the big leagues, it was a little different. It was up and down and up and down, and I didn't get a chance to show people that I can play every day and I can be a superstar. Now, I can show everybody what they are getting from me."

-Felix Pie

"He's going to be with us all year. Our guys think he'll be able to make the adjustments. It stays with our trying to get younger and more athletic ... and putting more emphasis on defense in the outfield. I can't imagine there is a better defensive outfield in the game when we have Adam, Felix and Nick out there."

-Andy MacPhail

"I'd like to play the outfield, to tell you the truth, but if I was DH'ing a few days a week, it wouldn't be bad. I always say, whatever they want me to do, I'll do my best at it."

-Luke Scott

"I don't believe Felix Pie failed during his time with the Cubs. I believe the Cubs failed him. Pie wasn't a creation of media hype. He was a legitimate prospect. He was a six-tool player -- glove, speed, arm, power, stroke and attitude -- and he should have become a fixture at Wrigley Field, patrolling center field for the next decade. But now he's gone, swapped for a couple of undistinguished pitchers, and that's a darn shame.


You don't find a kid in the Dominican Republic, sign him as a 16-year-old, nurture him through his teenage years, watch him light up the minor leagues at every level, then jerk him around for two years and dump him. It makes no sense on any level -- personal or business.


In case you've forgotten, Pie was a winner. He won four championship rings in the minors, and you can make light of that if you want, but I believe it was indicative of his heart. He was an exuberant, confident, aggressive player before the Cubs sucked the life out of him. Many have compared him to Corey Patterson. But unlike Patterson, Pie never was given a legitimate chance to win the center-field job."

-Carol Slezak, Chicago Sun-Times

"But this is serious business. It's just another reason the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908 or even been in one since 1945.

The likes of Gary Scott and Kevin Orie were a laughing matter when they fizzled.

But now the likes of Felix Pie and Corey Patterson are more a crying shame.

Pie - once the alleged next Willie, Mickey and the Duke all in one - was traded to Baltimore on Sunday.

That would be OK if the return was someone like Brian Roberts, the dynamite leadoff man/second baseman/energizer bunny the Cubs need.

Instead, all Pie could bring in return were a left-handed pitcher who had a 6.65 ERA last season and a right-hander who was in the low minor leagues."

-Mike Imrem, The Daily Herald

O's deal short-timer Randor Bierd, Roar from 34 Mourns

"The winner and loser of this trade won't be determined until the players take the field, but it was good move for The Birds in that they acquired a need, starting pitching, while getting rid of a surplus, relief pitching.

Then again, if Bierd recovers from injuries he suffered last year and becomes the next Rollie Fingers, we could be talking about this trade for decades."

-Jay Trucker, The Baltimore Examiner

"It might not be an earth-shattering deal, but the Sox did add another non-roster right handed reliever."

-Amalie Benjamin, Boston Globe

“It was great being with the Red Sox and getting the exposure and experience playing for them. I couldn’t have picked a better team to break in with. This is just another step in my career. This is an opportunity for me to get some more playing time and possibly have a starter’s role, where I’m starting on a consistent basis.”

-Dave Pauley

"First of all, I'd like to suggest that David Pauley be known in Baltimore as Pauley-Walnuts."

-Roch Kubatko

Friday, January 16, 2009

Blogger Compares Homegrown, Acquired Players

by Matthew Taylor

Paul Francis Sullivan - "Sully" - must be quite the baseball fan. The television producer/director/comic/baseball blogger is working on an off-season project where he identifies the all-time 25 man roster of homegrown players for each Major League baseball team and compares that squad to the best all-time 25 man roster of acquired players. It's an interesting effort considering how often "home grown" vs. "acquired" comes up in baseball debates, especially among A.L. East fans.

Sullivan posted his list for the Orioles (including the St. Louis Browns incarnation of the modern franchise) on Monday. He ultimately picks the home-grown squad to win an imagined match-up against the team's acquired players.
"It's tough to pick against a team that has Frank Robinson at the heart of their line up and can bring Satchel Paige out of the bullpen.

But look at the lineup the Home Grown Team has.
Ripken? Brooksie? Murray? Powell?

Starting Jim Palmer?

Yeah their bench isn't as strong.
But I have a feeling the Iron Man can go nine!


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Quick Hits

by Matthew Taylor

Tomato, Tomatoh, Potato, Potatoh, Way-a-hara, Oo-eh-ara

The O's introduced Uehara at the Warehouse on Wednesday, which offered fans and the media an opportunity to get a feel for the pitcher's personality and start to formulate an answer to the question, "Who is this guy?" It seems the team and the city could use all the help they can get with their response.

On Jan. 9, Dan Connolly of The Sun wrote the following (emphasis added):

"Uehara (pronounced "Way-a-hara") instead joined the Yomiuri Giants, Japan's version of the
New York Yankees, and won two Sawamura Awards as the country's best pitcher. In 2007, he was moved to the bullpen and became an all-star closer, but his 2008 was marred by ineffectiveness, injury and a brief minor league demotion.

Prior to Wednesday's press conference, Jeff Zrebiec of The Sun offered a contrary pronunciation for the pitcher's surname (emphasis added):
"At this point of the offseason, Uehara, whose name is pronounced oo-eh-ara, is penciled in as the Orioles' No.2 starter, behind right-hander Jeremy Guthrie."
Who better to clear up the confusion than Roch Kubatko?

"Upon further review (and a few of you already knew this), the Orioles have discovered that Uehara pronounces his name 'oo-eh-ara.'

And just when I had it memorized the other way."

This much we can agree on: no matter how Uehara's name is supposed to sound, Rick Dempsey will create his own pronunciation during the MASN postgame show.

Picture This

Forgive The Sun for its pronunciation problems. After all, it was the team's error. When it comes to mixing up pictures of Japanese pitchers, though, the mistake is all their own.

From the Jan. 10 edition of The Sun: "A caption on a sports page yesterday incorrectly identified a photo of Kyuji Fujikawa as Koji Uehara, who is expected to sign with the Orioles."

Whoops! Looks like it's going to be fun having Uehara in town.

Beer Barons

Prior to the 2008 baseball season I compared Baltimore and Pittsburgh's respective baseball fortunes under the headline "Just Don't Compare Natty Boh to Iron City City." Turns out that Rob Kasper has done just that.

With the Ravens set to face the Steelers on Sunday in the AFC Championship, Kasper made the Boh-Iron City comparison this week on his Sun blog, "Kasper on Tap."

I think it's a safe bet that Heath of Dempsey's Army hasn't gone down that path on his Bottles of Barley blog.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Let's just pretend this never happened

by Matthew Taylor

"You have a real short memory and you let it go."

-Dave Trembley, following the O's 30-3 loss on Aug. 22, 2007.

For O's fans, it seems the best way to cope with the
30-3 loss to the Texas Rangers during the 2007 season was to pretend it never happened. Apparently, the team has taken the same approach.

A look at the single-game records listed on the Orioles' web site (pictured above) shows that at least three categories - most runs yielded; largest loss margin; and most hits yielded, home game - still haven't been updated to include the Aug. 22, 2007, game.

The game story from that fateful night mentioned the many records that fell, including the American League record for runs scored.
"Hours after announcing manager Dave Trembley would return for the 2008 season, the Orioles absorbed the most lopsided loss in franchise history and set a team record for hits allowed in a game (29).


The Rangers set a team record for runs scored in a doubleheader -- before the second game even started.


David Murphy had five of the Rangers' 29 hits, the most by a major league team since Milwaukee had 31 in a 22-2 victory over Toronto on Aug. 28, 1992, according to Elias. Texas had 57 at-bats, tying the AL record for a nine-inning game set by Milwaukee in its 1992 rout of Toronto.


Texas made it 14-3 by scoring nine runs on 10 hits in the sixth. The 10 hits matched a club record for one inning and were three more than the Rangers totaled in their previous two games."
The let's-just-pretend-this never-happened mentality should be familiar to baseball fans of all stripes. As Dave Trembley, citing familiar baseball wisdom, said following his first game as (no-longer-the-interim) manager: "You have a real short memory and you let it go."

Nearly a year-and-a-half later, the O's continues to take his advice.

Remembering 30-3:

- My post-game ramblings during a sleepless night.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Eutaw Street Chronicles: May 5, 1992

Reimer draws attention with his bat and his glove; another former "O" visits the Yard

"Instead of an applause meter, they should have used the boo meter. I knew it was going to happen."

-Jeff Robinson, former Oriole, May 5, 1992

The Eutaw Street Chronicles: May 5, 1992

Hitter: Kevin Reimer.

Pitcher: Jose Mesa.

Distance: 403 feet.

When it happened: Top of the second, nobody on, one out.

Final score: Rangers 5 - Orioles 3.

The second Eutaw Street home run in Camden Yards history was but a footnote in the game's retelling: "The Rangers hit three home runs, including one by Kevin Reimer that missed hitting the warehouse in right field by 28 feet, 8 inches." It was Reimer's glove rather than his bat that attracted the most attention during a rain-delayed match-up between the Orioles and Rangers on May 5, 1992.

During a three-run first inning for the Birds, 6-foot-5-inch, 250-pound designated hitter Sam Horn drove a sharp opposite-field hit toward Reimer in left field. After briefly snaring the drive on the run, Reimer fell to the soggy turf and lost the ball, allowing Horn, in his 879th Major League at-bat, to record his first and only triple.

"I thought it was over his head and that I'd trot into second," said Horn to The Washington Times. "But after I saw what happened, I said, 'There's no reason I shouldn't take third.' I turned the corner and daylight was there."

In a game full of intriguing storylines, one of the most prominent tales, aside from Horn's jaunt around three-quarters of the diamond, was that of former Oriole Jeff Robinson. Robinson worked five scoreless innings in long relief of Nolan Ryan to earn the win, giving up two hits, three walks, and striking out none in front of a frustrated home crowd that booed the 30-year-old hurler, whom the club had released during the winter.

Robinson pitched just one season for the O's after the team acquired him in an off-season trade that sent Mickey Tettleton to Detroit prior to the 1991 season. (Tettleton hit the first-ever Eutaw Street home run on April 20, 1992.) Robinson was 4-9 with a 5.18 ERA for the Birds in 1991, a performance poor enough to frustrate any hopeful fan; however, it was more Robinson's attitude that drew jeers from the faithful in 1992. After being demoted to the minors on July 30, 1991, along with Jeff Ballard - a move that cleared room on the roster for 22-year-old Mike Mussina, the team's No. 1 pick in the June 1990 draft and future ace - the frustrated hurler attacked the proud organization that wrote his checks.

"They said they'd do everything they could to trade me because they realize I don't want to come back," Robinson said to The Washington Post following his demotion. "It's all the same to me: Baltimore, Rochester. They're both Triple A, as far as the way players are treated.

"I have no hard feelings toward Johnny, but the organization itself. . . . Like I told [Oates on Monday], I'd be willing to bet my contract for the next three years that this team is not going to be a contender unless they make drastic changes, and I don't mean just the players."

One year later, following the early season win with his new team, Robinson was a bit more diplomatic about his former employer.

"I have no hard feelings toward the people in [an Orioles] uniform," said Robinson after the May 1992 contest. ". . . It was an unpleasant experience [playing for Baltimore], and I didn't pitch very well either. . . . It's not like it makes me feel any better to do it against the Orioles. The bottom line is, I just didn't do the job they expected me to do."

Robinson picked up one more win with the Rangers in 1992 before the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired him off of waivers on June 10. After posting a combined 7-5 record with the two teams, he never again pitched in the major leagues.

Three years after Robinson's surly prediction about the O's, a strike-shortened 1994 season kept either party from answering the criticism. At the time of the strike the Orioles held a record of 63-49, good for second place in the A.L. East, 6.5 games behind the New York Yankees. The team sat 2.5 games behind the Cleveland Indians in what would have been the first-ever Wild Card race.