Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Trembley Profile in USA Today

USA Today has a nice profile of O's manager Dave Trembley and his long path to the majors. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: it's hard not to like this guy. He's a good face for the franchise as the team works its way back to respectability.

"He has a bachelor's degree in physical education and a master's degree in education. Trembley took a job in 1977 as teacher and baseball coach at Daniel Murphy High School in Los Angeles. In 1980, he served as baseball coach at a junior college in L.A. and in 1984 joined the professional ranks as a scout for the Chicago Cubs.

He became a minor league manager in 1986, and to expand his experience also managed winter league ball in Mexico and Venezuela. After 20 years toiling as a minor league manager, he was promoted to bullpen coach for the Orioles before the 2007 season.

On June 18, 2007, upon being named the replacement for Sam Perlozzo, Trembley became the seventh manager in major league history without playing professionally in the minors or big leagues.

He promptly restored fielding practice before games and foisted his three-word mantra upon everyone in the clubhouse: Respect The Game.


Trembley says his approach to the game -- and life itself -- remains the same.

'We still drive the same car at home. We still have the same friends. We still go to the same church. I haven't upgraded my wardrobe,' Trembley said. 'When you start taking things for granted, when you think somebody owes you something, when you get out of your lane, when you think you're above it, you're wrong. I'm the same guy who started teaching school in inner city L.A.'"

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Eutaw Street Chronicles - All-Time Bronze Bombers

The good folks over at Camden Chat got the run-around recently when they attempted to track down a list of all-time Eutaw Street home runs. I tried finding that information back in December but likewise had no luck, so I went over to Camden Yards and photographed all of the bronze baseballs. You can see the full set of photos on Flickr (note: the 2008 baseballs are not included because they hadn't been added yet).

I've also started chronicling the stories behind each baseball as part of the Roar from 34 series "The Eutaw Street Chronicles."

MASN's Kate Wheeler explained how the baseballs are installed.

The All-Time Bronze Bombers at Camden Yards

April 20, 1992 – Mickey Tettleton, Tigers, 406 ft.

May 5, 1992 – Kevin Reimer, Rangers, 403 ft.

May 23, 1992 – Lee Stevens, Angels, 430 ft.

July 12, 1993 – Ken Griffey Jr. (Home Run Derby), 465 ft.

April 24, 1994 - Ken Griffey Jr. Mariners, 438 ft.

June 8, 1995 – Kevin Bass, Orioles, 410 ft.

April 3, 1996 – Rafael Palmeiro, Orioles, 412 ft.

April 27, 1996 – Brady Anderson, Orioles, 380 ft.

April 30, 1996 – Paul O’Neill, Yankees, 431 ft.

July 7, 1996 – Mo Vaughn, Red Sox, 419 ft.

July 26, 1996 – Jim Thome, Indians, 440 ft.

Aug. 14, 1996 – Eddie Murray, Orioles, 384 ft.

Sept. 8, 1996 – Bobby Bonilla, Orioles, 405 ft.

April 11, 1997 – Rafael Palmeiro, Orioles, 411 ft.

June 17, 1997 – Henry Rodriguez, Expos, 443 ft.

May 13, 1998 – Brady Anderson, Orioles, 403 ft.

May 30, 1998 – Lee Stevens, Rangers, 415 ft.

June 21, 1998 – Carlos Delgado, Blue Jays, 415 ft.

July 24, 1998 – Rafael Palmeiro, Orioles, 413 ft.

April 29, 1999 – Brady Anderson, Orioles, 420 ft.

June 22, 1999 – Troy O’Leary, Red Sox, 413 ft.

Aug. 8, 1999 – Delino DeShields, Orioles, 422 ft.

Sept. 5, 1999 – Jim Thome, Indians, 420 ft.

Sept. 23, 1999 – Matt Stairs, Athletics, 423 ft.

May 11, 2000 – Carl Everett, Red Sox, 429 ft.

June 21, 2001 – Jeff Liefer, White Sox, 410 ft.

June 8, 2002 – Shawn Green, Dodgers, 410 ft.

July 19, 2002 – Gary Matthews, Orioles, 406 ft.

Aug. 29, 2002 – Ben Grieve, Devil Rays, 435 ft.

June 28, 2003 – Jay Gibbons, Orioles, 420 ft.

July 22, 2003 – Hank Blalock, Rangers, 380 ft.

Aug. 21, 2003 – Aubrey Huff, Devil Rays, 414 ft.

Sept. 9, 2003 – David Oritz, Red Sox, 430 ft.

April 23, 2004 – Jay Gibbons, Orioles, 393 ft.

July 25, 2004 – Justin Morneau, Twins, 412 ft.

Aug. 22, 2004 – Eric Hinske, Blue Jays, 385 ft.

Sept. 29, 2004 – Rafael Palmeiro, Orioles, 390 ft.

Sept. 29, 2005 – Jason Giambi, Yankees, 420 ft.

July 31, 2006 – Brian Roberts, Orioles, 410 ft.

Sept. 28, 2007 – Johnny Damon, Yankees, 390 ft.

May 27, 2008 – Jason Giambi, Yankees, 415 ft.

May 28, 2008 – Jason Giambi, Yankees, 410 ft.

June 14, 2008 – Nick Markakis, Orioles, 395 ft.

June 18, 2008 – Lance Berkman, Astros, 430 ft.

July 1, 2008 – Alex Gordon, Royals, 425 ft.

July 19, 2008 – Luke Scott, Orioles, 420 ft.

Aug. 22, 2008 – Robinson Cano, Yankees, 425 ft.

Sept. 8, 2008 – Luke Scott, Orioles, 415 ft.

2009 Team Preview

Philly Sports Post provided its 2009 MLB Team Preview of the Orioles on Friday with local thoughts offered by yours truly and Scott Christ of Camden Chat. My thoughts are below.
Letter Grade for Offseason Moves: I'd give the O's a solid B.

The offseason was a steady step in the right direction. The team didn't make a big splash on the free-agent market, but their time will come. They need to continue making incremental steps toward being a competitive outfit and then they can overspend on a big bat to complete the puzzle. It would've been a mistake to overpay for pitching, especially a guy like A.J. Burnett. Andy MacPhail set out a rebuilding model when he got to town, fans are buying into it - especially after the Bedard trade and Markakis extension - and even Peter Angelos seems to be among the converted.

You can't overstate the importance of signing Nick Markakis this offseason. The Markakis signing proves that the team actually learned something from losing Mike Mussina to the Yankees years ago when they had a chance to lock him up before he hit the market. Signing Cesar Izturis was a good, underrated move, and it's nice to have the Brian Roberts situation resolved. Add in the fact that the O's signed their recent top draft picks, Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz (granted, not offseason moves), and the team is sending a real message that this is a brave, new Andy MacPhail world that Baltimore fans live in.

Most Essential: Jeremy Guthrie. O's fans are going to have a lot of fun watching some exciting position players this season. It'll be fun to track Adam Jones' development, there's hope that Felix Pie can finally make good on his promise given a full-time role and less pressure to produce, Cesar Izturis will provide a much-needed steady hand at shortstop, not to mention the anticipated production of Nick Markakis, the debut of Matt Wieters, etc. But with all that said, the starting rotation is a real Achilles heel.

Guthrie is a solid, underappreciated pitcher, who will have to provide reliable production out of the No. 1 spot and serve as a model for a shaky rotation if the O's are going to have any chance of avoiding a disappointing record that doesn't match their promise on other parts of the diamond. His time away from the team for WBC duties and less-than-stellar return to camp is an early cause for concern.

Breakout Potential: The good news for O's fans is that there are a multiple players to be excited about in regard to the potential for a breakout season. No one expected the production the Birds got from Aubrey Huff last season, but this year it's more about the young talent. There's much anticipation - perhaps even too much - surrounding Matt Wieters' debut in Orange and Black, but given that Wieters won't start the season in the big leagues, Adam Jones is the guy to watch over the long haul. By all accounts, Jones put in a lot of work in the offseason. Hopefully he reaps the rewards of that effort.

Prediction for 2009: It's still not going to be pretty when the final numbers are posted. There will be multiple noteworthy individual performances, but the team will have to fight to get out of the cellar in the AL East. Regular fans of the team will see the improvement, outside observers will say, "Same old Orioles."

This is a team that has won more than 74 games just once since the 2000 season. I'm anticipating a run at the Blue Jays for fourth place and a win total in the low- to mid-70s. We're more Kansas City than Tampa Bay at this point. If the Royals could win 75 games and outlast Detroit for fourth place in the Central last season, we can win 75 and outlast Toronto this year. Then, in a couple of more years, we can talk about a Rays-like season.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Flashback Friday: The Birds' 1954 Opening Day Parade

Everybody loved a parade - and not just any parade - in 1954

"It's the biggest thing since beer came back."

-A local bar patron at the start of the 1954 season

Earlier this week Roar from 34 highlighted Frank Robinson's upcoming role as grand marshal of the Cincinnati Reds' traditional Opening Day parade. Towns like Cincinnati and St. Louis still hold such festivities when the baseball season opens, just as the International League Orioles did in the late-1890's and early-1900's. However, one of the more famous Oriole parades occurred in 1954 when the relocated and renamed St. Louis Browns opened the modern baseball era in Baltimore.

On April 15, 1954, 22 bands and 33 floats wound their way from Camden Station, where the team arrived after having played in Detroit, through downtown Baltimore during a 90-minute parade before 350,000 enthusiastic locals that ended on 33rd Street, where the Orioles defeated the Chicago White Sox 3-1 in front of 46,354 lucky ticketholders.

Baltimore native Joe Jerardi described the festive atmosphere that permeated the city that day during a 2004 interview with the York Daily Record.

"I grew up in Baltimore and attended Opening Day in 1954. My three brothers and father were all baseball fans and it was an exciting time," said Jerardi. "There was a lot of hoopla surrounding the Orioles, and the schools even closed for the Opening Day parade [which attracted an estimated crowd of 350,000].

The Sun's Mike Klingaman offered the full story - excerpted below - as part of the Birds' 50th anniversary:
"The day the Orioles arrived in Baltimore, trolleys clanged down cobbled streets. Kids rushed to see Pinocchio at the Hippodrome. Banana boats dumped their bushels onto weathered wharves where the Inner Harbor now stands.

On April 15, 1954, Baltimore had no Beltway, no Harbor Tunnel, no Jones Falls Expressway. Working farms still prospered inside the city; ditto, a row of bustling department stores.

Nationally, April was a month of firsts. Hank Aaron hit his first home run. Elvis cut his first single. America suffered its first casualty in Indochina.

But in Baltimore, the focus was on its new big league baseball team, a group of exiles from the Midwest hitting town for their first home game.

At Camden Station, the Orioles - having traveled from Detroit, where they split their first two games - stepped off the train and into Oz. Lampooned for years in St. Louis, the players paraded through the streets of Baltimore, flanked by brass bands and beauty queens and hailed by a crowd of 350,000 - more than had attended all of the Browns' home games in 1953.

People lined Charles, Madison and Howard streets, and hung from trees and fire escapes in a cold drizzle to watch their team, a caravan of .250 hitters and journeyman pitchers. Perched atop the back seats of cream-colored convertibles, players lobbed plastic baseballs - 20,000 of them - to the slew of school kids given the day off.


Five thousand Hawaiian orchids were strewn along the 3 1/2 -mile parade route, ahead of the Orioles' entourage, though many spectators darted between cars and scooped up the flowers to use as corsages.

Baltimore's revelry went national: NBC-TV carried festivities live on the Today show with Dave Garroway. The New York Times likened the procession, 90 minutes long, to "the Florentine Army clanking triumphantly home after the second sack of Pisa."

Fifty years later, pitcher Duane Pillette, 81, called the reception "one of my most exciting times in baseball. I never had a big ego, but my heart and body kind of puffed up right there, during the parade. I thought, 'Damn, we're pretty good.' "

What last-place club rates a salute of 22 bands and 33 floats? Army bugles, Scottish bagpipes and German oom-pahs led the Orioles downtown. A 14-foot papier-mache statue of Babe Ruth sprouted from one float; the reigning Miss America waved from another. One crowd-pleaser featured a mechanical oriole chirping as her brood hatched from a huge, baseball-shaped egg. Next came Bozo, a live spider monkey dressed in an Orioles uniform, riding the back of a long-legged whippet.

Dignitaries, too, got swept up in the fervor. One woman stood out in her black silk suit, orange blouse and matronly hat with orange and black feathers: Mrs. Clarence Miles, wife of the Orioles' owner."

The 1954 Orioles finished their inaugural season with a record of 54-100, good (loosely speaking) for seventh place in the eight-team American League, a mere 57 games behind the first-place Cleveland Indians.

The only O's players to lead the league in any category that season were Don Larsen, who piled up 21 league-leading losses two years before throwing a perfect game in the World Series, and Don Turley, who paired the most strikeouts (185) with the most walks (181) on his way to a 14-15 record.

Visit Flickr for another picture from the 1954 Opening Day Parade. The photo above comes from The Sun and is linked accordingly.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Midweek Trivia Answer

This week's Midweek Trivia Question asked who was involved in the 1988 trade that brought Curt Schilling to Baltimore. Congratulations to Heath, of Dempsey's Army, who correctly identified the other players as Mike Boddicker and Brady Anderson.

While most O's fans think of the
regrettable 1991 trade that cost the team Schilling, Steve Finley, and Pete Harnisch for Glenn Davis, the deal that brought Schilling to Baltimore three years earlier, on July 29, 1988, also included some recognizable names, specifically Boddicker, who went to the Red Sox, and Anderson, who came to the Birds with Schilling.

Boddicker went 7-3 down the stretch for the Red Sox in 1988 and posted a 2.63 ERA. He got shelled in his lone postseason appearance that year, giving up eight hits and six runs in 2.2 IP during Game 3 of the ALCS against Oakland.

Boddicker pitched two more seasons for the Red Sox, going 15-11 in 1989 and 17-8 in 1990. In 1990, Boddicker again lost Game 3 of the ALCS, again to the Athletics, but this time he threw a more respectable eight innings, giving up four runs to a stacked A's lineup that included Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco, Harold Baines, Mark McGwire, and Dave Henderson.

After earning $1.3 million with Boston in 1989 and $675,000 in 1990, Boddicker signed as a free agent with the big-spending Kansas City Royals, who doled out roughly $3 million per year for three seasons. The Brewers purchased Boddicker's contract in his final season, 1993, and he went 3-5 in 10 games started.

After being acquired by the Birds in 1988, Brady Anderson played 13 1/2 seasons in Baltimore, appearing in three All-Star Games, two Division Series, and two ALCS. Anderson finished his career second only to George Sisler among the Orioles for all-time stolen bases with 307 to Sisler's 351. The Silver Spring native also finished sixth on the O's all-time home run list (209), ninth in RBIs (744), fifth in hits (1,614), fifth in runs (1,044), fifth in doubles (329), tenth in triples (64), fourth in extra-base hits (602), sixth in games (1,759), sixth in total bases (2,698), and third in walks (927).

Anderson holds the O's single-season records for plate appearances (749 in 1992), total bases (369 in 1996), most home runs by a left-handed batter (50 in 1996), most home runs by a leadoff hitter (34 in 1996), most home runs leading off a game (12 in 1996), most consecutive games leading off a game with a home run (4 in 1996), most extra-base hits (92 in 1996), and most hit by pitch (24 in 1999). Many of those records came during Anderson's controversial 1996 campaign. Just ask Jim Palmer.

Anderson was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 2004. He also holds the unique distinction of being the final batter in Cal Ripken's last game; Ripken was in the on-deck circle when Anderson struck out on a 3-2 pitch.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Midweek Trivia: Oriole Trades

Earlier this week Curt Schilling announced his retirement from Major League Baseball at the age of 42. Schilling pitched three seasons for the Orioles, from 1988 to 1990, before being shipped off to the Astros in 1991 along with Steve Finley and Pete Harnisch for Glenn Davis in perhaps the O's most infamous trade of all time.

Midweek Trivia asks, Which players were involved in the Birds' 1988 trade with the Boston Red Sox that brought Curt Schilling to Baltimore?

Monday, March 23, 2009


A rundown of some recent qu'O'tables:

"I think Andy has done a great job. If we can maintain that impetus, things can be pretty good. I don't know about this year, but next year and the year after we have high hopes for."
-Peter Angelos, in The Sun. He's happy with Andy MacPhail's rebuilding efforts and, according to the paper, says he'll "make a notable free-agent move" when the time comes.

"You're talking about three legitimate top-of-the rotation talents."

-Dave Trembley, in a Buster Olney column.
Like Whitney Houston, Trembley believes the children are the future; specifically, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, and Jake Arrieta.

"Do you know how fortunate we are to be doing what we're doing? People are going to be making sacrifices to come out and see you this year. There should be no excuse for a lack of energy and enthusiasm as you do your work."

-Andy MacPhail, also quoted by Buster Olney.

"I've looked at them and thought, 'Man, that'd be fun.' ''

-Frank Robinson in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Robinson was commenting on Opening Day parades and his upcoming role as grand marshal for the Reds' parade, which dates back to 1890.

Finally, from the way Hal McCoy of the Journal-News tells it, Manager Richie Hebner, who is preparing for his first full season with the Frederick Keys, will be good for many entertaining quotes.

A man a Baltimore Orioles uniform approached me on the back fields of the City of Sarasota Sports Complex, stopped in front of me, and said, “I can’t believe you’re still above the ground.”

So whatever happened to, “Hi, how ya doing?”

Upon further review, I discovered the man was former Pittsburgh Pirate Richie Hebner - and that explained it all. To say Hebner is different is to say grass in green and the sky is blue.

When Hebner played, he was an undertaker/gravedigger in New England, so his sense of humor borders on the macabre. For example, he once told me, “Man, the winter was tough. The ground was frozen solid. We buried some of those folks so shallow they might have scratched their way out.”

During our conversation yesterday, he said he now drives a hearse in the off-season, and said, “I’m your last ride. I get in the hearse, turn on the radio, turn to the back and ask, ‘Any requests?’ Never had one.”

Hebner is managing the Class A Frederick (Md.) team for the Orioles.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Midweek Trivia Answer

With pitchers Radhames Liz and Chris Waters looking at bullpen duty this season, Roar from 34's Midweek Trivia asked on Wednesday,"Which O's reliever holds the team record for most consecutive games won, and how many games in a row did he win?"

Answer: Grant Jackson, who won three straight times on Sept. 29, 30, and Oct. 1, 1974.

Jackson appeared in the World Series three times for three different teams and - you may want to cover your eyes, O's fans - was the winning pitcher for the Pirates in Game 7 of the 1979 Series against the Birds.

The pitcher started his career in Philadelphia, where he didn't have a winning record in six seasons. Originally a starter, Jackson posted a 14-18 record and a promising 3.34 ERA in 1969, but he struggled significantly the following season (3-15, 5.28).

The Orioles acquired Jackson in 1971, and he became a central part of the team's bullpen by committee. He went undefeated in 1973, finishing sixth all-time for wins in a season without a loss at 8-0. He pitched the Birds to a Game 4 victory over the Oakland A's in the ALCS that year.

Jackson also figured indirectly in the O's 1983 World Series championship. In 1976, he was traded to the Yankees in a 10-player deal that brought to Baltimore both the '83 Series MVP, Rick Dempsey, and the Series-clinching Game 5 winner, Scott McGregor.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Midweek Trivia: Bullpen Records

Radhames Liz is
headed to the bullpen, and Chris Waters will likely join him there in a middle-relief role. Having missed on their original goal of making the starting rotation, Liz and Waters can now establish new goals. Perhaps they should consider chasing the Oriole record for most consecutive games won by a reliever.

Midweek Trivia asks: Who holds the Oriole record for most consecutive games won by a reliever, and how many games in a row did he win?

(Major bonus points for any O's fan who knows the answer without having to look it up.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Eutaw Street Chronicles: April 24, 1994

The Kid goes yard - and then some - for the second time

"You can lose ugly, and you can win ugly. Today, we won ugly."

-Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners

Major League Baseball's best hitters rained baseballs onto Eutaw Street during the 1993 Home Run Derby; however, no player accomplished the feat during game action that season. Fittingly, Ken Griffey Jr., who hit the Warehouse on the fly during the '93 Derby, put a quick end to the Eutaw Street drought in 1994, touching up reliever Brad Pennington
on April 24 for an eighth-inning three-run homer that capped a Mariners 7-6 come-from-behind victory over the Birds. Griffey's blast traveled 438 feet, 25 feet short of the Warehouse.

Having lost the first two contests of a three-game set with the Orioles, the Mariners arrived at Camden Yards for the early season Sunday afternoon contest saddled with a four-game losing streak. The O's looked ready to continue the trend, jumping out to a 6-3 advantage after six innings on the strength of a Chris Hoiles 420-foot solo blast and a series of Mariner errors, including an errant throw on a Rafael Palmeiro-Chris Hoiles double steal.

"You can lose ugly, and you can win ugly," said Griffey. "Today, we won ugly."

Mariner starter Greg Hibbard gave up six runs in six innings pitched, but only three of those runs were earned. Hibbard avoided an unearned loss thanks to the O's miscues, notably a botched sacrifice bunt in the eighth inning that allowed Mariner catcher Dan Wilson to pick off lead runner Rafael Palmeiro, who reached second base one batter earlier when a fortuitous Cal Ripken Jr. sacrifice bunt stayed fair along the third-base line.

"A sinker is a hard pitch for a runner to read, and when I saw that Palmeiro was on his front foot, I knew I had a chance to get him," Wilson said.

The pickoff helped calm the nerves of Mariners closer Bobby Ayala, who was 0-for-2 in save situations on the young season, and spoiled a two-on, no-out rally attempt. Oriole backstop Chris Hoiles, whose two failed attempts to lay down a bunt ultimately coincided with Palmeiro's baserunning gaffe, struck out for the second out of the inning, and designated hitter Lonnie Smith grounded out to squelch the potential Oriole Magic.
Ayala pitched a clean ninth inning to earn the first of his 18 saves during the strike-shortened 1994 season.

Perhaps the game's biggest mistake, at least in the collective eyes of the home fans, was Johnnie Oates' decision to call Brad Pennington from the pen after getting seven strong innings from starter Jamie Moyer. Moyer loaded the bases in the eighth, starting with a
Darren Bragg drive that caromed off of Moyer's glove and past second baseman Tim Hulett.

"We finally got a break," said Mariner Manager Lou Piniella. "Those are two things that have been happening to us, not for us."

Following Bragg's hit, Moyer issued a free pass to Rich Amaral and surrendered a single to Torey Lovullo to crowd the sacks.

entered and threw two pitches. The first, a wild pitch, allowed a run to score. The second, Griffey's homer, brought three runs to the plate. Oates sent Pennington to the showers and O's fans responded by showering the young Indiana native with boos.

"I was booing too," said Pennington. "We worked so hard to get the 6-3 lead, those fans have the right to boo."

The O's demoted Pennington to the minor leagues the following day.

As for Griffey, the 24-year-old center fielder expressed relief after helping his team end its losing streak and compared his 1994 Eutaw Street longball to the exhibition shot that hit the Warehouse the previous season.

Said Griffey: "I hit this one harder."

Box score for April 24, 1994

The Bronze Bombers (previous entries to the Eutaw Street Chronicles):

-Mickey Tettleton, April 20, 1992
-Kevin Reimer, May 5, 1992
-Lee Stevens, May 23, 1992
-Ken Griffey Jr., July 12, 1993

Roar from 34's Long Shot Gets Shot Down

So long, Fredy Deza, we hardly knew ye ... but we tried.

Roar from 34's spring training "Long Shot to Root For" doesn't make the cut.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP)—Prized pitching prospects Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz were among 12 players the Baltimore Orioles reassigned to minor league camp on Saturday.

Joining right-handers Tillman and Arrieta at the minor league complex in Sarasota will be right-handers Fredy Deza and Ryan Keefer; catchers Jose Reyes and Adam Donachie; and infielder Craig Brazell.

Matusz, a left-hander who was the fourth overall pick in last summer’s first-year player draft, was among five players on the 40-man roster to be reassigned. The others were right-handers Chorye Spoon, David Hernandez and Jim Hoey, and left-hander Troy Patton.

The moves leave Baltimore with 56 players in camp."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Flashback Friday: Old Birds Logos

With the Orioles sporting new uniforms this season, Flashback Friday takes a look at some old Birds logos and images, courtesy of Kelly Mangum's website. A sampling of images, with links to the source, are below. Mangum displays a fuller range of logos, covering 1954 until 1998, and provides a brief description of each. It's definitely worth a visit to his site.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

All the Concessions Coverage That's Fit to Print

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, but hold the hot dog.

While other sites are examining the O's latest personnel moves and player prospects, Roar from 34 isn't afraid to look outside of the spotlight to bring you the latest ... concessions news?!?

First, there's the trial of Ann Copland, a former aide to Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, who's been on trial for swapping favors with Jack Abramoff's lobbying firm. There's an O's connection in there? Sure is.

Copland's e-mails revealed, among other things, that
she wasn't pleased with the food offerings in her luxury box at Camden Yards.
"At one point she sent a long list of ticket requests that included several concerts, hockey, ice skating and the circus. At other times she sent e-mails complaining about the food and drinks in the firm's luxury box at the Camden Yards baseball stadium in Baltimore.

'Ackkk. Only beer and no Hebrew National hot dogs,' she said in one e-mail after the firm had arranged to get her the seats for a Baltimore Orioles game for a party for her son.

Do people really write the word "Ackkk" in e-mails? Suddenly, LOL looks mature.

Had Copland ventured out of her luxury seating in years past, she could've grabbed some kosher food down on the concourse. No longer.

"Kosher Sports Inc., based in New York, and the kosher caterer at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium for the Baltimore Ravens, will not be returning to the O’s.


To cut costs, the O’s operation was reduced last season to a cart on the third-base line, from its more familiar past leftfield location. Mr. Katz told Aramark, concessionaire for the Orioles and the Ravens, that the contract had to be restructured, and if that could not happen, Kosher Sports 'couldn’t operate here.'

'They didn’t blink an eye,' he said. 'This is a business, and we couldn’t operate at a loss.'

Mr. Katz said he had the kosher cart removed last Friday, Mar. 6. Kosher Sports is under the kosher supervision of the Baltimore-based Star-K supervisory organization."

These are clearly angry times in the sports food-delivery world. Perhaps we all just need to lighten up and, amidst this concessions confusion, take time to remember what's really important: the Lemonade Shaking Guy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Business of Baseball: Fewer Fans, More Money

BizJournals is sharing an ugly truth about the O's franchise, ranking it below even the Royals and the Nationals in the publication's evaluation of success on the field and in the ledger. The Birds beat out one only other major league team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and ranked 115 out of 122 total sports franchises. But don't believe any of these owners if they tell you how bad they have it.

The value of the Nationals, the Orioles, and the Pirates still increased (the Nats by 3 percent, the O's by 1 percent, the Pirates by 7 percent) despite each team's dismal on-field performance and low ranking among the money-makers in sports. Those franchise values are based on estimates published by Forbes magazine, which show that between 2006 and 2008 the O's worth went from $359 million to $398 million. Just imagine how much money Peter Angelos could make on a winner.

Say what you want about competitive imbalance, steroids, and all the other ills of baseball; the owners are still making money. Take John Henry of the Red Sox. Sure, he's calling for a salary cap, but his team ranked fifth in the Bizjournals poll and gained 13 percent in value compared to the Yankees' ranking of 23 and 9 percent increase in value. Granted, the Yankees' overall value is greater than that of the Red Sox, which makes it harder for New York to move the needle. And there is certainly a valid argument to be made for competitive imbalance in the sport. However, the idea that payroll disparity - or any of these other issues for that matter - is hurting baseball where it counts most, in the pocket, just doesn't add up.

There's a lot of interesting discussion to be had based on these rankings. Here are some of the details of how Bizjournals carried out its evaluation:

"Bizjournals analyzed the performances of all 122 franchises in the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League in the 2008 calendar year. The top scores went to those teams that were strongest at the twin missions of professional sports -- winning games and making money.


Half of a team’s score was determined by its level of success on the field, court or ice. Bizjournals’ formula considered each franchise’s win-loss record, average margin of victory (or defeat), and playoff results.

The other half was determined by a team’s relative success in business. The formula analyzed average home attendance, the percentage of available seats sold for home games, and the increase (or decline) in a franchise’s value from 2007 to 2008. The latter was based on annual estimates published by Forbes magazine."

Given the focus on attendance in the rankings, it's surprising that the Nationals, having just completed Year 1 in their new stadium, didn't rank considerably better than the O's. However, the Nats only managed an average gate of 29,005 at Nationals Park compared to the 25,000 average gate at Camden Yards. I examined the issue of the "new ballpark bump" and the Nationals' stadium in an April 2008 Roar from 34 posting.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Goodwin's Life on the Outskirts of Pro Ball

An Oriole in his early 20s, a South Georgia Peanut at age 35. What is Curtis Goodwin's story?

Don't blink or you might miss Curtis Goodwin. Such a thing could be said of Goodwin's speed on the base paths or of his brief tenure with the Birds, but in this case the words reference the player's appearance in the reality series/documentary "Playing for Peanuts."

Goodwin first appears, seemingly from out of the blue (were this a fictional baseball movie, he would've emerged from a corn field), in the eighth of 10 episodes on the 3 DVD "Playing for Peanuts" series. The outfielder, as portrayed, is full of personality and confidence as Peanuts creator/director John Fitzgerald focuses on Goodwin's tendency to talk ad nauseum about his experiences in the bigs - one scene shows him chattering in the outfield during game action about facing knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

Goodwin is largely absent from the DVD in the final two episodes of the series, with his name and related game highlights popping up only briefly during the Peanuts' championship run in the now-defunct, independent South Coast League.

Viewers can learn a bit more about Goodwin in the "Meet the Peanuts - Again" segment on the "Playing for Peanuts" blog, but his back story, like that of many other players in the series, is left largely unexamined, which contributes to a sense that the series leans more toward its Reality TV billing than its documentary side. It seems like a missed opportunity, but perhaps for a good reason.

It's fair to assume that Fitzgerald faced a sizable challenge in trying to get mostly young, 20-something ballplayers to engage in any level of self-examination, much less to do so on camera. Perhaps with this in mind, or even having tried to take on the task, Fitzgerald ultimately chooses to use Wally Backman's journey through the professional and minor league ranks as a player and as a manager as one of the series' predominant narratives. The consistently colorful Backman rarely disappoints, and Fitzgerald captures some telling moments along the way, most notably an obvious discrepancy between the media re-telling of a Backman tirade and the reality of the day's events as captured on video. Fitzgerald also focuses on the overall struggles of the start-up league and its Keystone Cops umpiring crews.

Interestingly, Fitzgerald notes the following of Goodwin on the Peanuts blog: "Curtis suffered from a weird strain of camera shyness - he never wanted to do interviews, but he would jump in front of our cameras whenever he could - mostly during games or batting practice. I had to work extra hard to get Curtis to sit down for this interview and he didn't disappoint."

What does it mean to not know if you're single, as Goodwin states in the interview? What convinces a guy to "kind of retire" at age 26 and then re-emerge in his mid-30s in a start-up independent league? Why did Backman keep Goodwin waiting to be signed, and better yet, why was Goodwin so willing to wait? Sometimes lives left unexamined are that way for a reason.

I provided a brief bio on Goodwin and described meeting him before anyone really knew who he was in a September 2008 Roar from 34 posting.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Monday Odds and Ends

Some random, O's-related tidbits from the baseball weekend ...

Those Aruban Knights
One of the biggest baseball stories from the weekend was the Netherlands' 3-2 upset victory over the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Two former Orioles, Sidney Ponson and Eugene Kingsale, suited up for the underdog victors.

made his professional debut on Sept. 3, 1996 as a defensive replacement in left field for B.J. Surhoff and in the process became the first Aruban-born player in the major leagues, edging out fellow Aruban Calvin Maduro, who played his first game for the Birds five days later. Maduro has remained in the O's system; in 2008 he served as pitching coach for the Gulf Coast League Orioles.

Kingsale, Ponson, and Maduro are all knights in the Order of Orange-Nassau. Take that little tidbit with you to your next O's trivia night.

When Dirt-Bag is a Compliment

Dave Trembley called Ty Wiggington a dirt-bagl; baseball fans know that's actually a good thing.

Said Trembley: "Wigginton should have been playing in the '50s. He's a dirt-bag. He just wants to play, he competes, nothing's ever been given to him. He's just a baseball guy."

As if We Needed Additional Reasons to Hate Teixera
Hate Mark Teixeira if you must (and as an O's fan, you must), but I blame the parents. They should've known something was wrong with their five-year-old when he started rooting for Yankee players.

Some excerpts from a Q&A with the Star-Ledger:
You were an Orioles fan? How often did you get out to the park?
I tried to get out between five and 10 times a year depending on the year and how the O's were doing and how much time I had. We went to plenty of games when I was a kid.


You're a big Mattingly guy. Do you remember the first time you saw him play?
It was probably kind of a gradual thing. I had seen him play here and there at Oriole games. I'd watch highlights of games or whatever and then you start trading baseball cards, Mattingly cards. Then, all of a sudden, it just all clicked, like this is my guy. I was young. I was probably 5 or 6 years old, when Mattingly won his MVP, what in '85? So I was 5 or 6 years old and once he won that MVP, he took off as my favorite player.


You played a lot of sports. Why did you pick baseball?
I was the best at baseball. I love playing basketball and I love soccer. Played tennis, dabble with golf on the side, but I wasn't that good in those sports. I think I was naturally drawn to baseball because of my family, because of growing up going to O's games. We didn't have a football team in Baltimore when I was growing up. We didn't have a basketball team in Baltimore. We didn't have a hockey team. It was the Orioles. And I gravitated toward baseball.

Speaking of the Yankees
With A-Rod on the shelf and Cody Ransom being, well, Cody Ransom, Buster Olney tossed around some names on ESPN this morning that the Yankees could pursue. Oriole-turned-Astro David Newhan and current Oriole Chris Gomez made the list.

Huff-in' and a Puffin'

These sorts of stories
make Spring Training fun.

From Friday's game against the Nats:

First baseman Aubrey Huff was asked before the game how he intended to approach his first at-bat against Cabrera, and his answer pretty much summed it up.

"I've told Daniel a thousand times: 'If I ever face you, I'm just going to stand there. If you can throw three strikes, that's great. Then, just for fun, I'm going to steal on the first pitch.'"

Huff made good on half his promise. He didn't just stand there. He fouled off a few pitches before walking in the first inning. But he was true to his word and stole second base at the first opportunity, exposing Cabrera's well-known inability to hold runners on base, even runners who aren't normally considered a threat to steal.

"Yeah," Cabrera said afterward, without a trace of disdain, "he got me today.
Had Aubrey Huff done this during the regular season, he may have wound up with a baseball in his ear. I guess it depends on how one interprets the unformulated subsections of baseball's unwritten rules (note the sarcasm - I've made my feelings known on baseball's subjective etiquette).

For the record, Huff has 25 stolen bases in nine major-league seasons.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Flashback Friday: "It's the Right Idea for Left"

A mid-summer article from 1982 demonstrates the value of the left-field platoon

"Platooning is nothing new to baseball, but what Weaver has done with these three resembles what Mozart did for the flute."

-Steve Wulf, Sports Illustrated, July 12, 1982

Earlier this week, Roar from 34 explored the debate over "Who's in Left?" and referenced the celebrated Roenicke-Lowenstein-Ayala platoon from the Earl Weaver days. Flashback Fridays often demonstrate that everything old is new again on the baseball diamond, and this week's edition is no different.

The Flashback revisits the 1982 season with a July 12 Sports Il
lustrated article about that left-field platoon titled "It's the Right Idea for Left," excerpted below.

"The leftfielder for Baltimore leads the American League in homers and is second in RBIs. He's at once an anthropologist from Las Vegas, a mystic from Puerto Rico and a perfectly normal human being from Diamond Bar, Calif. His manager misspells one of his names, and mispronounces the other two.

The Three Faces of Weaver are John Lowenstein, Benigno Ayala and Gary Roenicke, and as the Orioles' rotating leftfielder they had produced 24 homers and 69 RBIs at week's end. Earl Weaver decides which of their names to write on his lineup card depending on who's hot, who's not and who's pitching. Platooning is nothing new to baseball, but what Weaver has done with these three resembles what Mozart did for the flute.


No matter where they're coming from—and Ayala and Lowenstein are living examples of the expression 'out of left field'—they're heading for a phenomenal season. Through Sunday, Lowenstein was hitting .307 with 11 homers, one fewer than his career high, in only 137 at bats. Ayala, batting .304, had 13 RBIs on 13 hits. Roenicke, who has also played center, right and first, had eight of his 15 homers and 23 of his 41 RBIs while in leftfield. He was batting .259 overall and .255 as a leftfielder. The three have shared leftfield since 1979, but not with this kind of production.

'Naturally, there will be better years than others,' says Lowenstein, 'attendant on the semicircular seasonal statistics. Right now, we are moving toward the peak of our equilibrium.'

'They're a blooming phenomenon,' says Weaver, who doesn't use the word blooming.

Roenicke and Ayala bat righthanded, and Lowenstein hits from the left side, but the platooning isn't as simple as sticking a certain guy in against a certain kind of pitcher. Weaver's famous stats, which show how his hitters do against specific pitchers, usually determine who's in the lineup. If, for instance, Centerfielder Al Bumbry has trouble against a particular southpaw, Weaver will play Roenicke in center and Ayala in left. Sometimes, Weaver will play Roenicke against a righty because Weaver just has a feeling.

'In glancing at the lineup card, I look for length,' says Lowenstein. 'If I see a very long name, I know I'm playing. I also see a misspelled name. Earl always puts the i before the e. Sometimes I'll correct it, but the next day it's still misspelled.' Provided it's there at all.


As the leftfielder(s) go, so go the Orioles, who have been rising steadily in the AL East standings, from seventh on May 12 to third on Sunday. 'This team is like my tomatoes,' says Weaver. 'In April and May, they're scrawny little things, barely sticking out of the ground. But by August and September, they could feed the whole blooming world.' Weaver has a particularly nice patch in left."

[Image source: Orioles Card "O" the Day. Click photo for original]

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Perhaps Baltimore is Iron City

Tom Verducci's analysis of A-Rod's injury makes this mention of Oriole great Brooks Robinson: "Only three third basemen age 33 or older ever managed more than two seasons with at least 150 games: Brooks Robinson, Pete Rose and Mike Schmidt."

With Iron Men like Ripken and Robinson, perhaps Baltimore should steal Pittsburgh's moniker as Iron City. Surely Mayor "Steelerstahl" would block any such effort.

Exhibition Brings Back Memories for Scott

Luke Scott comments in a Sun article on Thursday that he loved the atmosphere during Wednesday's exhibition game against the Dominican Republic's WBC team and was reminded of his time playing in Venezuela.
"I loved the atmosphere," Orioles designated hitter Luke Scott said. "It reminded me of winter ball, which is a great experience. Lots of passion, the fans get really into it. One of the best times I've ever had was in 2005 in Venezuela. It was fun; that's the best way to describe it. Baseball is at its purest when guys are out there having fun."
Luke Scott loved the Venezuelan fans, and they loved him. Scott was dubbed "El Monstruo de Cuadrangular" (the Home Run monster) and generated the type of passion among fans that you see in the video below. YouTube is littered with highlight videos from Scott's days in Venezuela. (See also Roar from 34's July 22, 2008 post about Scott.)

Matos in Minnesota

Luis Matos reflected on the end of his time in Baltimore, his brief tenure in Washington, and his effort to get back to the bigs in a Star Tribune article on Wednesday.
"The transaction seemed strange when it hit the wires. There had to be a story behind it, and there was.

When the Twins signed Luis Matos to a minor league deal Dec. 18, they were adding to an outfield stockpile.

Matos entered spring training below at least six players -- Carlos Gomez, Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer, Delmon Young, Jason Kubel and Jason Pridie -- on the Twins' outfield depth chart.

Just three years earlier, with his career unraveling rapidly, Matos had insisted he was an everyday player and nothing less. He refused to accept a bench role and got released by the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals in a bitter two-month span.

Long considered one of Baltimore's top prospects, Matos had batted .255 in 508 big-league games, and he was only 27 years old.

'Those last two years went by pretty quickly,' Matos said Wednesday. 'But I got a lot of experience, and mentally I'm prepared for any job they'll give me.'


He's so intent on making an impression on the Twins he turned down an invitation to play for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.

In the 2006 WBC, Matos went 3-for-9 with two doubles. He said he briefly regretted skipping this year's event on Monday, when the Twins played Puerto Rico in an exhibition game and he caught up with former WBC teammates including Carlos Beltran and Alex Rios."

Matos will likely wind up in Triple-A Rochester, the former longtime Orioles affiliate. Bob Mathews of the Democrat and Chronicle says he's "worried about the 2009 Rochester Red Wings," even with Matos.

"I see a team with decent starting pitching but lacking pitching depth and run-scoring potential.

I hope Minnesota Twins minor league supervisor Jim Rantz is looking for a power bat or two for the Wings, but it probably is too late for that.

Chuck Hinkel is gushing over Rochester's potential five-man starting rotation. Of course, Chuck is the team's director of media relations. His job is to pump up the Wings as a playoff contender — even when they aren't.


OF Luis Matos/Matt Moses. Matos had a few decent seasons with the Orioles but hasn't done much lately. Moses has been a bust so far.


Last year at this time, I was touting the Red Wings as a playoff team. They started slowly and finished fast but missed the postseason with a 74-70 record. Rochester led the 14-team IL in batting average and was third in runs and fourth in home runs. They were sixth in pitching with a 4.13 ERA.

On paper, these Wings don't inspire much confidence. Maybe they'll make the playoffs. If they do, I think even Hinkel would be surprised."

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Who's no longer on first, Who's in left field

Aside from the question of which of the many arms in O's camp will survive long enough to make the parent club, one of the most intriguing Spring Training story lines offers a unique take on the classic Abbott and Costello routine - Who's no longer on first, Who's in left field.

Steve DeClue of The Examiner thinks the Birds should trade Luke Scott to free up room for Felix Pie, backed by Lou Montanez, Ryan Freel, and/or Nolan Reimold.
"While Scott played well in his first season in Baltimore, because of his age, he should be the odd man out in what has become an incredibly crowded outfield situation.
Nick Markakis and Adam Jones are already cornerstones of the franchise, and the team traded for both Felix Pie and Ryan Freel this offseason. While Freel doesn't figure into the long-term plans, Pie most certainly does. He's had plenty of success in Triple-A, so he needs to be an everyday player and show what he can do at the big league level.

The Orioles also have Lou Montanez, another former Cub who really shined in limited time at the end of last season. Then there is Nolan Reimold, one of the team's top position prospects. He will be 25-years old and needs to be playing in the major leagues.

I know the team plans to use Scott almost exclusively as a designated hitter, but they would be better off clearing some roster space and letting Reimold get some action. Obviously, the team wants to win games this year, but the goal is to be a contender in 2010 and beyond."
Heath, of Dempsey's Army, disagrees.
"Who’s going to DH? Ty Wigginton? Scott is a legitimate offensive threat, even if he should be platooned from time to time. And I’d like to have a deep bench going into the season for a change. Having Scott on the team gives Dave Trembley a lot of options. On off days, Scott makes an imposing pinch hitter.

DeClue also mentions Lou Montanez and Nolan Reimold….let’s just set all this straight right now.

I like Montanez. Like him. I don’t love him. I would have been fine with him starting the season as the fourth outfielder. But the fact that he probably won’t be makes this team better. He was an average hitter at best and was a poor fielder by almost any measure you want to use. He’s 27 this season. He may get better but not that much better. Like him. Don’t get the fascination some fans have with the guy.

I like Reimold a lot but last season was the first year that he’s been healthy and produced. And it was at AA. I’d like to see him have some success in Norfolk before promoting him to the big club. Hardly a reason to trade Scott right now.

If the O’s decide to move Scott at the trading deadline this season, I’m all for it. But let’s take a look at this lineup as currently constructed before trading every veteran who’s not nailed down."

Meanwhile, back in mid-March, Weaver's Tantrum made a common-sense argument against trading Luke Scott by asking the following: What are you going to get in return?
"The O's never traded Roberts because they never got the right offer. I think the same is true of Scott. There isn't a market for him. To make a deal worthwhile for Baltimore, a trading partner would have to give up a prospect with significant potential, hopefully a pitcher or infielder. Maybe a young but proven back-end starter. Who would give that up when Griffey Jr. and Jim Edmonds are both available without giving up so much as a draft pick? Edmonds does exactly what Scott does. He hits righties well and plays solid defense. Depending on exactly what teams are looking for, Nomar, Luis Gonzales, and Garrett Anderson are also available, possibly for nothing but a minor league contract with ST invite. Also, the Yankees, Angels, and A's all have gluts in their outfields and might be willing to trade younger outfielders than Scott. Its a buyers market. I don't see us getting a great deal for Luke. Anything could happen by the trade deadline, but I don't see it right now.


I don't want to see him go unless MacPhail can fleece someone."
Lawrence Barreca, of Bleacher Report, runs through five options in left for the O's, including Justin Christian, and concludes that Pie and Scott will share time in the outfield.

"There is one position on the field, though, that truly remains up for grabs. That spot is in the Orioles' left field.

Let's count everyone who is fighting for the job:

1) Felix Pie
2) Lou Montanez
3) Nolan Reimold
4) Justin Christian
5) Luke Scott

Five, yes five, players that will battle throughout the spring in order to win the job.


Come opening day, I can see Felix Pie and Luke Scott sharing time in left, with Reimold, Montanez, and Christian each sharing the outfield down at Triple-A.

I'm sure we will see glimpses of all five players from time-to-time, but for now, each still must fight to the death for that starting role.

Who knows, someone else may join the mix before it is all said and done."

As I see it, the Orioles traded for Felix Pie so they could play him and see if his enormous potential will finally emerge on a big-league diamond; he'll get plenty of time in left. But even with the other names in the mix, Scott will see his time as DH and as a replacement for Pie. In line with Heath and Weaver's Tantrum, Scott isn't going anywhere until at least the trade deadline, and only then if he can warrant a solid return.

Outside of the obvious positions that are claimed, the name of the game for the O's these days is flexibility, which will allow them to play some good old-fashioned Weaver ball.
And that's not a bad thing.

From Whiz Kid's Baseball Wisdom comes the wisdom of Earl Weaver.
"Weaver: 'By matching your bench-players' strengths to your starters' weaknesses, you can create a 'player' of All-Star caliber from spare parts.' Weaver was famous for his platoons, but they weren't all traditional platoons, like lefty-righty or offense-defense. He would use some unusual platoons to cover for his starters' particular problems. And he's not exaggerating about All-Star caliber, either; guys like Gary Roenicke, John Loewenstein, and Merv Rettenmund were fantastic as one-half of a productive platoon and they made relatively little money. It seems today that generic benches are created for all teams with a select few required role players. Very few managers (and executives) have the courage to build a bench that matches their particular needs, rather than just getting the same guys as everybody else."
It's fitting, then, that the O's primary platoon position this year will be left field, home of the team's most famous, not to mention successful, platoon - Roenicke, Lowenstein, and Ayala. The concern at Roar from 34 isn't as much about who will win out at the position as much as it's about who is ready to rise up and pump his fists while leaving the field on a stretcher a la Brother Lo.