Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Eutaw Street Week: Inside 2110 Eutaw Street

"Nick and Adam jumped at the opportunity to get closer to the fans, and that is why I think the program will be a success."

Day two of Roar from 34's "Eutaw Street Week" provides an interview with Greg Bader, director of communications for the Orioles, about the team's new 2110 Eutaw Street promotion.
Bader discusses such topics as Anita Marks' role in the creation of 2110 Eutaw Street, the process that bring these types of marketing efforts to life, and factors that contribute to a player's marketability.

As most Bird Watchers know, the promotion, which celebrates young outfielders Nick Markakis (21) and Adam Jones (10), debuts on July 12 when the O's take on the Blue Jays. For $21, fans get a Eutaw Street bleacher seat and a limited edition "I Live at 2110 Eutaw Street" t-shirt as well as the opportunity to catch baseballs tossed into the stands throughout the game by Markakis and Jones. Should either player homer during the game one fan in the 2110 section receives an autographed bat.

Here's what Bader had to say:

RF34: How did the idea for the 2110 Eutaw Street promotion come about?

Anita Marks actually approached me after attending a game in the bleachers earlier this year. She felt that while the section was pretty full, the overall feel of the area could be kicked up a notch. After spending nearly four hours on the Scott & Anita show taking phone calls about possible names for that area, we sat down to discuss a new program that would create fan excitement, highlight two franchise players in Nick and Adam, and provide a great value and experience for Nick and Adam's biggest fans. After a few weeks of finalizing details, we announced 2110 Eutaw Street as the new program.

RF34: What has the response been like for the promotion? Has there been a measurable increase in ticket sales beyond what you would normally project for a Sunday game in the summer?

Response has been overwhelmingly positive. People have been excited that the club is embracing two of its young stars and put together a program designed to link the players and the fans in a direct manner. July 12 is the first game (and only announced date) and we had earmarked 500 tickets for the event. At this time, we are over 2/3 full and expect to sell out the area soon.
[Editor's note: response provided on June 24.]

RF34: How do you evaluate the success of a given promotion?

Success will of course be based on ticket sales, but also whether the overall atmosphere of the Eutaw Street Bleachers area picks up for this game. Our fans are so critical to our success, and to provide our players with an opportunity to directly connect to the fans--especially in-game--is an exciting proposition. If that connection is made, we will have succeeded.

RF34: How many additional 2110 games might we see this season? Could this promotion live on beyond the 2009 season?

We are expecting an additional 3 or 4 games this season featuring the 2110 promotion-- all most likely on weekends, when it is often most convenient for fans to attend games. If successful, this promotion may continue into next season and beyond.

RF34: How do the Orioles' marketing efforts in the past two or three years differ from what's been done in previous years at Camden Yards?

The club has always looked to keep ticket and concessions prices as low as possible, providing the most affordable opportunities possible for all fans. Student Night, Bargain Night, Bleachers and Boog's, and the Dugout Club have all been around for several years. We added promotions this year including Kids Nights (children 10 and under free on Thursdays) and the Birthday Offer (free tickets in each fan's birthday month) as part of the Birdland Stimulus Package. But overall, the concept in how we market our product has not changed... Camden Yards is the premier ballpark in baseball and we always try to highlight the ballpark experience and overall value whenever possible.

RF34: Who is responsible for the team's marketing decisions? What's the process for making something like 2110 Eutaw Street happen, from idea to implementation?

The club has several dedicated employees across various departments that are ultimately responsible for executing the team's marketing initiatives. The management team in place provides the overall objectives and goals, and the club's staff works to execute such objectives. With a promotion such as 2110, members of the Communications, Programs/Promotions, Sales/Fan Services, and Ballpark Operations all work together to make sure that the program is properly implemented.

RF34: What factors determine a player's marketability?

Orioles fans have traditionally not only supported the superstar player but also the 25th man on the roster, and in turn, we try to spread our focus across a variety of players. Obviously guys like Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts and Adam Jones seem to get the most attention because of their on-field exploits and their off-the-field community efforts; however, guys like Wieters, Reimold, Huff, Mora, Uehara and others have been highlighted in promotions this year as well. On-field success, relationship with fan base and personality all play an important role.

RF34: Are there any contractual restrictions on how a player is used as part of marketing promotions?

Players on the roster do not need to provide their approval for promotions such as bobbleheads, t-shirts and other promotional materials or ticket programs. However, we usually try to get the player to buy in before we announce anything to ensure that everyone is on the same page with the program or promotions overall goal. In the case of 2110, Nick and Adam jumped at the opportunity to get closer to the fans, and that is why I think the program will be a success.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Eutaw Street Week: What if the Warehouse Were in Left Field?

Roar from 34's Eutaw Street Week begins with an architectural thought exercise: What if Eutaw Street ran behind left field rather than right field?

A simple change of direction at Oriole Park at Camden Yards - a shift of 15 minutes, maybe even less, in a clockwise direction - would alter the course of the ballpark's history and with it much of the local lore.

Here are four considerations of what might be different had HOK and the decision makers responsible for our jewel of a stadium momentarily lost their senses and favored parking-lot and on-ramp vistas over a center field view of Baltimore's fair cityscape.

We'd Remember Gonzalez Rather Than Griffey

It's easy to forget that Juan Gonzalez won the 1993 All-Star Home Run Derby because Ken Griffey Jr. walked away with the more memorable prize that July day, namely a 465-foot blast off of the Warehouse brick. No batter has accomplished the feat in game action.

Griffey was, and one assumes always will be, a key part of Camden Yards history. No matter that Gonzalez out slugged The Kid 12-11 in two overtime sessions to claim back-to-back Derby titles. No matter that Gonzalez hit a longer home run to left - an estimated 473-foot shot off of the upper-deck facade - than Griffey's Warehouse blast to right. Griffey was the story that day and has been ever since.

But if Eutaw Street, and the Warehouse, were in left field rather than right field, Gonzalez would have walked away with a bigger prize and the associated piece of history. Instead, he's a footnote in the Camden Yards story.

Which brings us to our second observation.

Righties Would Displace Lefties in the Camden Yards History Book

Memorial Stadium's most prized long-ball legend belonged to Frank Robinson, a right-handed batter and the only player ever to put a ball completely out of the park. He did so on May 8, 1966. The spot was marked with an orange-and-black flag in left field that read simply, "Here."

Less well-remembered are the near-misses of the left-handed batters who took the ball deep, but not quite deep enough, to right. Those hits are flagged only in the memories of the individuals who witnessed them. Consider Jason Jubb's recollection - with video evidence - of Eddie Murray's April 25,1985, home run that landed in the far reaches of the right-field bleachers, or my own less-evidenced memory of a prodigious foul ball off of Sam Horn's bat.

Because of the newer ballpark's design, Camden Yards' long-ball legends belong instead to the lefties - the Mickey Tettletons (first Eutaw Street home run), Henry Rodriguezes (longest Eutaw Street home run), and Kevin Basses (first Eutaw Street home run by an Oriole) of the baseball world.

Cal Ripken, the Orioles' all-time leader in home runs, who played 10 years and several hundreds of games at Camden Yards, doesn't have a bronze baseball on Eutaw Street. There's little doubt that he would have one if Eutaw Street were in left field rather than right. He may even
have parked one there during his three-game home run streak in the days leading up to and including his record-breaking 2,131st consecutive game.

It seems hard to believe, but those memorable September nights at Camden Yards in 1995 could have been even more memorable if Eutaw Street ran behind left field.

Center Field Would Still Rule the Roost

Ultimately, Camden Yards is the political spectrum of baseball stadiums. Left and right get most of the attention, but the majority still rest closer to the middle.

A review of longest home runs in Camden Yards' history reveals that the biggest blasts tend to take flight toward center field.

I actually had nightmares (sad, I know) after the Yankees' Daryl Strawberry sent a Mike Mussina offering 465 feet to center field on June 17, 1998. No ball has been hit farther during game action.

The second-longest Camden Yards home run, by Pedro Munoz (yes, you read that correctly: Pedro Munoz), traveled 463 feet to ... center field.

Overall, four of the five longest home runs in Camden Yards history have traveled to center field. In addition to Strawberry and Munoz's efforts, Russell Branyan homered 459 feet to center this season, and Mo Vaughn drove a ball 457 feet in the same direction on July 7, 1996.

(Baseball Reference doesn't indicate the direction of Vaughn's home run, but deductive reasoning suggests that it was center field. An earlier home run that day by Vaughn traveled 419 feet to right field and landed on Eutaw Street, and Vaughn has only one bronze marker to his credit. He surely didn't go 457 feet the opposite way.)

The only roundtripper among the top five on Camden Yards' list of longest home runs that may have traveled to left field (again, Baseball Reference does not indicate the direction of the hit) was Jeffrey Hammonds' 460-foot shot off of Eric Plunk on Sept. 15, 1997.

Which leaves us with one final question ...

Would the Warehouse Still be Untouched?

This is perhaps the most fun (or "funnest," depending on your grammatical flexibility) inquiry of this whole "What If?" exercise: If Eutaw Street ran behind left field, would a right-handed batter have hit the Warehouse by now during game action?

Given the shifting distances it takes to reach the Warehouse depending on where the ball leaves the yard, no two Eutaw Street home runs are created alike. The best chance of accomplishing the feat comes with a shot straight down the line, but the approximate distance and location required to accomplish the feat is difficult to measure accurately.

On the day of 1993 Home Run Derby, newspapers estimated that a ball would have to travel 470 feet to hit the Warehouse; Griffey's home run is marked with a plaque that reads 465 feet.

The best baseball arguments are hypothetical rather than concrete, which makes this final question all the more intriguing. So who would fare better in the Warehouse chase: a lefty or a righty?

A review of multiples lists of home run leaders (from this season, the all-time list, etc.) shows a fairly balanced mix of right-handed and left-handed batters. However, there is evidence to suggest that ballpark dimensions and the preponderance of right-handed pitchers favors lefty sluggers, which translates to more home runs but not necessarily longer home runs.

Were the Warehouse in left field rather than right field, my money says that a batter would be more likely to hit it with a home run in game action.

Feel free to disagree. After all, that's in part the beauty of the exercise.

Image source: Flickr.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dunn Hits 50th Eutaw Street Home Run

Home run is the second-longest hit on to Eutaw Street in game action

It's fitting that as Roar from 34 kicks off "Eutaw Street Week" another batter became a bronze bomber by putting a ball onto the walkway between the stadium and the warehouse. Unfortunately, it wasn't for the home team.

Adam Dunn stroked a 442-foot home run in the second inning of Sunday's 5-3 loss to the Nationals that one-hopped the warehouse. Dunn's blast was the second-longest Eutaw Street home run during game action, missing Henry Rodriguez's 443-foot shot on June 17, 1997, by just a foot.

According to Roar from 34's unofficial tally, Dunn is the second player to visit Eutaw Street this season after Aubrey Huff did so in April. Dunn's was the 50th Eutaw Street home run overall.

Here's a link to the full list of Eutaw Street home runs through the 2008 season.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Flashback Friday: Jesse Orosco, The Snapdragon, and a Relief Record

Thursday was the 10th anniversary of Jesse Orosco setting the major-league record for relief appearances. This week's Flashback Friday revisits that game and Orosco's tenure in Orange and Black, which had Baltimore fans talking about the pitcher's "snapdragon" curveball.

Orosco spent five of his 24 MLB seasons with the Orioles, pitching for the Birds from 1995 through 1999. During his time in Baltimore the left-handed specialist pitched 336 games, compiling a 15-11 record with a 3.35 ERA, 241 strikeouts, and 133 walks. He led the American League in games in 1995 with 65, although it was the fewest appearances he would make during any one season in Baltimore. Orosco was a key part of the O's 1997 Wire-to-Wire run in the AL East as he tallied a 2.32 ERA in 71 games.

the night he broke the relief appearances record Orosco pitched 1/3 of an inning against the Yankees. He surrendered an RBI single to Tino Martinez that was charged to Scott Kamienicki, induced a Paul O'Neill groundout, and intentionally walked Chili Davis in a game the O's lost 9-8.

A fan and media favorite, Orosco
has a plaque honoring his accomplishment in the home bullpen at Camden Yards. In 2004, he was named to the O's list of 50 All-Time Favorite Players. These days Orosco follows the career of his son, Jesse Orosco Jr., who debuted as a rookie minor leaguer in 2008.


Baseball Library

Baseball Reference

New York Daily News

School of Roch

Sports Illustrated

Image: NumerOlogy (click photo for original)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

An Encyclopedic Knowledge of the Game

"Only books about the Yankees and Notre Dame sell."

If you're an O's fan and you happen to have $55 burning a hole in your pocket ($34.65 if you go the Amazon route) you may want to check out "The Orioles Encyclopedia: A Half Century of History and Highlights."

I have an immediate soft spot for the exhaustive 821-page effort, which took more than six years to compile and features 425 rare photographs along with nearly 400 player profiles. (Note: I don't have a copy myself. I'm just a messenger.)

For one thing, the author, Michael Gesker, grew up in my native Catonsville (I suppose the area just breeds diehard baseball fans).

Then there's the fact that the original publisher dropped the project "because only books about the Yankees and Notre Dame sell." The publisher neglected to mention that you have to sell your soul to root for either team.

And I'm a sucker for a sentimental baseball story like Gesker's tale in The Catonsville Times of how he got hooked on the Orioles .
"One day, he and two friends took a public bus to Memorial Stadium to watch the Baltimore Orioles play the Kansas City Athletics.

When the game ended, the three boys ran to the parking lot where the home team's players parked their cars.

Out walked Clint Courtney, the Orioles' catcher known as 'Scrap Iron' whom Satchel Paige once called 'the meanest man I've ever met.'

Gesker and his buddies casually walked up to Courtney and said, 'Hey, Mr. Courtney! Can we get a ride home?'

They knew Courtney lived on Midvale Avenue, in Catonsville, in a house previously owned by Hall of Fame knuckleball pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm.

They also knew that was just around the corner from Gesker's home on North Beechwood.

Courtney responded, 'Yeah, come on. Get in the car,' and the three had their ride home.

For Gesker, now 60, it was 'really a memorable moment,' he said."
Press Box also has written about Gesker's "Encyclopedia of the Orioles."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Yanks Going Online; Could the O's Be Far Behind?

Big news on the business side of the game today as Major League Baseball announced that two teams, the Yankees and a second unnamed franchise rumored to be the Red Sox, will deliver live games online within their home broadcast territories starting in July.

Not surprisingly, an effort that involves the Beasts of the AL East is already raising concerns about disparity. However, before O's fans get frustrated, it's worth noting that the Orioles have looked into the possibility of streaming games online. (Emphasis added below.)

The deal also sets up a potential "Pandora's Box" scenario in which other club-owned RSNs would look to launch in-market streamed games. The Red Sox and Orioles are but two clubs that have looked into the possibility. If so, it will create a have and have-not issue based on the new revenue stream for clubs that are in the position to foster carriage deals through their club-owned RSNs.
It's a lesson that bears repeating: Don't underestimate the importance of regional sports networks to the health of a team's bottom line.

These Thoughts I Had ... And Shared

Tuesday was my "MASN Day," and the Orioles almost didn't disappoint.

the outcome of the game, the Birds' ninth-inning comeback offered a thrilling start to my new life as a North Carolina satellite subscriber and therefore MASN viewer.

I typically prefer to collect my thoughts before writing; however, in order to celebrate my new-found freedom from Time Warner's non-baseball dominion I used Twitter (I believe the cool kids call it "Tweeting") to provide instant analysis of the Orioles' extra innings loss to the Marlins.

Here are the 16 thoughts that ran straight from my head to the virtual page during 12 innings of Birds baseball. Topics for further discussion are in italics.

Tuesday Night Tweets:

Just watched some "Defining Moments." How'd MASN get Screech to do the "Miracle in May" spot? Did Dennis Sarfate notice the resemblance?

1-0 just like that. Says Buck Martinez: "Baseball can look so easy at times."

Koji strikes out. On the upside, he didn't swing at the first pitch like many O's are doing tonight. He even fought off some pitches.

Robert Andino tracks down the pop-up. So who has the cooler flat brim: Andino or George Sherrill? Is that even a fair question?

New nickname for Nolan Reimold: wheels. His hustle out of the box caused Hanley Ramirez's error.

Buck Martinez jinxed Koji. As soon as he said Koji was "really sharp tonight," Uggla went deep. 1-1.

Uehara hit hard but defended his position to preserve the lead. It's crazy that the O's almost turned two on a sac bunt. That's MelmOsity.

Another double-play attempt on a sac bunt. How far in was Melmo playing for that one?

Baez must not want to be traded. His strategy for staying put: mess up. Pretty sure I saw a similar thing once on Everybody Loves Raymond.

Matt Wieters is a smart ballplayer. After the controversy with his 1st home run ball he made sure the second one didn't stay in the stands.

Random 9th inning fact: "Rookie" Koji Uehara is older than all the Marlins who started tonight. Among O's who started only Mora is older.

Magic, Magic, Magic, Magic? One more run ties it up. Go with two, O's, go with two.

Tie game! Magic indeed.

@DempseysArmy Okay, I'm a believer. Two hits on the night including the game-tying RBI with two out in the ninth. Hail Salazar!

Did Ty Wiggington suddenly think he turned into Emilio Bonifacio? Great hit, bad baserunning mistake.

Ugh. Zaun challenges Wiggington for most frustrating Oriole tonight. Passed ball in 12th and he missed Scott's throw at the plate. O's lose.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Appreciate the Rookie Rather than Despising the Veteran

It would be easy to pile on Gregg Zaun right now. Zaun wasn't able to glove Luke Scott's throw at the plate and prevent speedy Emilio Bonifacio from scoring the winning run in the 12th inning of Tuesday's 7-6 loss to the Marlins. "An above-average throw ... a play I should have made," Zaun explained afterward on MASN.

Earlier in the inning Zaun failed to knock down Brian Bass' wild pitch - an errant but blockable throw that put Bonifacio on second base.

Both were tough plays, but since when are passionate baseball fans fair in their snap judgments at the end of an emotional game?

Nevertheless, even the cold-hearted, cynical baseball fan has to feel for Zaun, who initially was keeping the catcher's position warm for Matt Wieters and is now keeping the bench warm to allow Wieters to blossom. You want to see a veteran like that succeed when he gets his chances.

So my message is this: Save your anger for Ty Wiggington. (That's another post altogether.)

Okay, the larger point - regardless of what happened with Zaun in extras - is that Wieters' efforts behind the plate deserve attention.

Admittedly, the rookie phenom's bat can be distracting, especially on a night when he went 2-for-4 with a home run and 2 RBIs, but consider also Wieters' composure in some tight defensive spots on Tuesday, and you can see why the guy could become a special player.

Bottom of the fifth inning. Dan Uggla led off the home half with a game-tying home run, and the Marlins suddenly were putting good wood on Koji Uehara's previously strong offerings. The floodgates appeared ready to part as Florida loaded the bases with one out.

Then, Koji fielded a tough shot from Bonifacio - there's that guy again - and tossed to Wieters covering home. Wieters calmly converted the double play with a strong throw to first. It seemed like a routine effort because it was so well executed. And for that, Wieters - who was only part of the play, but a keep part at that - deserves credit.

Meanwhile, Wieters blocked some tough pitches in the dirt during key situations in a tight contest that kept Marlins runners from advancing on the base paths.

So my second, more important message is this: Don't get distracted by Zaun's miscue(s). Instead, focus on what his mentee, Matt Wieters, is doing behind the plate. It's worth noticing.

My Own Personal MASN Day

Tuesday is MASN Day in North Carolina. Okay, so it's only MASN Day in one North Carolina home, but that home happens to be mine.

After various fits and starts (as my wife can attest, there have been plenty of fits), I will finally be able to watch the Orioles on MASN this evening when I return home from work. Gone is Time Warner Cable; we're a satellite family now with all the ugly-dish-in-the-side-yard benefits.

I've written a fair amount about MASN's continuing dispute with Time Warner, which became personally frustrating when I relocated to North Carolina last summer. The News & Observer provided an effective overview of the problem back in April.
Frankoff, like other Time Warner Cable subscribers, is stuck in a perpetual on-deck circle, awaiting his turn to tune in the Orioles and the Washington Nationals, the designated home teams for much of North Carolina. Until the cable company's fight against MASN ends, he can't.

Not even the extra $169 he spent to get the MLB Extra Innings package of games from Time Warner this season allowed him to see the Orioles beat the New York Yankees 10-5 on Monday in the season-opening game for both teams. MASN -- the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network -- owns the rights to the Orioles and the Nationals, so ESPN's telecast was blacked out.


Two arbitrators and the Federal Communications Commission media bureau chief already have ruled in favor of MASN, saying the cable company discriminated against the regional sports network by not making its programming available on its basic digital service. TWC has insisted on putting MASN on a more expensive digital sports tier.

Despite its 0-3 record, Time Warner has appealed the most recent ruling to the full FCC, and there's no indication when that five-member body will deal with the issue. The FCC lists it as an "item on circulation," and it is not on the agenda for the commission's meeting today.
Here's the rundown of previous MASN/Time Warner postings on Roar from 34:

More Press on the MASN Situation

The MASN Dispute Gets Personal

The Business of Baseball: In Praise of Peter Angelos?

MASN in North Carolina, Sammy in the Dominican Republic

Dempsey in Durham

Monday, June 22, 2009

Baseball's Most-Ejected Managers

Forbes' list of "Baseball's Most Ejected Managers" only goes back to 2004, but that doesn't stop Monte Burke from giving a nod to Earl Weaver.

Earl Weaver, the fiery, longtime manager of the Baltimore Orioles, was perhaps the art's most flashy practitioner. While he argued, he furiously pecked the brim of his hat on an umpire like a bird. He once tore up a rulebook and scattered the pages all over the field. In an infamous incident, Weaver was tossed for smoking a cigarette in the dugout. The next day he delivered the lineup card to the ump with a candy cig dangling from his lip. He was tossed again.

Jeter Not So Clutch in Florida

No sport is mythologized quite like baseball, and no current player is mythologized quite like Derek Jeter, so it brought a smile to my face when I heard Jeter mocked on SportsCenter on Saturday after the shortstop grounded into an eighth-inning double play with two on and the Yankees trailing the Marlins 2-1. The anchor made light of the fact that Jeter's non-clutch at-bats tend not to wind up on the back page of the New York Post like those of a certain less-than-popular teammate of his.

Turns out Jeter was at it again on Sunday.

Jeter Clutch grounded out weakly to shortstop for the game's final out with runners on first and third. The Yankees had scored two runs in the frame to narrow the Marlins' lead to 6-5. And that's where it stayed.

Jeter was 3-for-13 (.231) for the weekend in Florida.

O's Get That Sweeping Feeling

Celebrating the Orioles' current win streak and revisiting past sweeps

"I don't think anybody's ready to declare us where we want to be quite yet, but people maybe are noticing that we are at least moving in the right direction. That's important for all of us to start to see the light at the end of the tunnel."

-Brian Roberts

A sweeping feeling has replaced the sinking feeling that had settled in around the Birds a little more than week ago. Is your head spinning yet? Welcome to the Orioles' youth movement in all its inconsistent glory.

What better way to rejuvenate the recently declining spirits of a fan base ready to celebrate any and every sign of progress than to take a three-game set from the defending World Series champs in their home.

Neal Shaffer over at The Loss Column has done a nice job of chronicling the Orioles' recent ups and downs (see "What a Difference a Week Makes" and "Do They Feel Like the Worst Team in the AL?")

Sweeps tend to make the sun shine a little brighter and - apologies in advance for the end of this sentence - the birds chirp a little louder. This is the Orioles' spring, a hopeful season that hints that the deep freeze of the team's extended winter may finally be ready to thaw.

[Seasonal metaphors end here.]

This weekend's games represented the Orioles' second three-game seep of the season, the first having taken place May 25, 26, and 27 against the Blue Jays. That sweep formed part of the team's first five-game win streak of the season; this is their second.

As for last season, the Orioles managed two sweeps of three games or more, each memorable in its own way and both, like this year's efforts, indicative of changing times in Baltimore.

The first 2008 sweep came right out of the gate as the O's took four straight from Seattle, April 4-7, as part of a six-game win streak. The sweep took on added meaning given the presence of Adam Jones and George Sherrill, who recorded three saves, in Orange and Black following the off-season trade of Erik Bedard to the Mariners.

The Birds' second sweep came in June during a three-game Interleague set with the Astros. This was another past-versus-present match-up as Miguel Tejada visited Baltimore for the first time since the 2007 trade that brought Luke Scott, Matt Albers, Troy Patton, and Dennis Sarfate to the Orioles. The team's late-inning heroics (1, 2) had fans whistling Oriole Magic again.

Bottom line: Sweeps are good for the soul.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Baseball's Fathers and Sons

I've written before that baseball is in large part about fathers and sons (or daughters for that matter). It's not an original sentiment per say, but it holds the same truth all the same. Roar from 34 is littered with entries that draw upon memories of simple times at the ballpark with my dad. It seems that sentiment applies to players as well.

The most obvious Father's Day story belongs to Melvin Mora, father of 8-year-old quintuplets, who tragically did not enjoy the good fortune of enjoying days at the ballpark with his dad. The Sun tells the story of Mora the dad while Guideposts relates the gritty details of Mora's own upbringing without his father.
One day, when Melvin Mora, the third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles, was a young boy, he was walking with his dad in front of the family’s home.

Suddenly, a man approached, pulled out a gun, pointed it at Melvin’s father, and pulled the trigger. Mora’s father stumbled into the house and collapsed on a couch.

"I was six years old," Mora recalls. "I didn't know how to react…I saw my sister crying, so I began to cry. The thing I most remember was that he was lying on the couch. I saw blood…And then he died."
Other O's-related Father's Day articles include Brad Bergesen's story of his father and best man (looks like I have something in common with the young pitcher), which Dave Johnson certainly appreciated.

Okay, I am officially jealous. What a wonderful story. Good for both of them. I had hardly made it halfway through the article before my eyes welled up and I had to go for the tissues.

I have wondered for a while now, what would it have been like to spend that kind of time with my dad? On this Father's Day weekend, I find myself thinking about my time with my dad. He loved baseball, yet I never remember having a conversation about it with him.

There are three particular days that I remember spending with him that had to do with baseball. For my 12th birthday, he took me to a 1971 World Series game when the Orioles played the Pirates at Memorial Stadium. We sat in the upper deck and I just remember how big the field looked.
Finally, former Oriole Will Clark is taking on a new challenge as a full-time father in his life after baseball.
In 1999, the first season after the diagnosis, Clark's trade from the Rangers to the Orioles in 1999 made life simpler for the family. The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore was already providing vital therapy for Trey.

Clark also played alongside catcher B.J. Surhoff, who has an autistic son a few years older than Trey. But the road trips, the time away from the family during spring training, prevented Clark from providing the kind of stability he wanted for his son.

In late 2000, when he split the season between Baltimore and St. Louis, he hit .319 and had a .418 on-base percentage. Clark was only 36, but he decided to retire after the Cardinals were eliminated in the NLCS. He wanted to be with the family.

"I was on my tail end anyway, but I cut my career short," he said. "Since I have been home more, there's been tremendous improvements in Trey. Having two parents home, his father figure there, we've seen big improvements. ... Plus, getting him involved in sports has made a difference. Being around other kids and interacting the way you do in the games has really helped."

Can the O's and Nats Pull Off a Trade?

With the trade deadline on the horizon, it's time for the Orioles to execute a blockbuster deal with the Washington Nationals. The teams should swap divisions.

The Orioles polished off Philadelphia in the ninth inning on Saturday to guarantee a series victory against the Phightin (Mad) Phils. This comes on the heels of series victories against the Nationals, Braves, and Mets. The Birds' Interleague record stands at 8-3.

Meanwhile, the woeful Nats have engineered consecutive walk-off wins against Toronto as part of a season-best four-game winning streak that includes a series win against the Yankees. The Nats are 5-6 in Interleague play.

So a division trade would be win-win with an edge, of course, to the O's.

Headed into Sunday's games, the O's have the third-highest team batting average in Interleague play (.296) and the third-most runs scored. As Adam Sandler says in The Hanukkah Song, "Not too shabby."

Other O's-related News & Notes:

-The Birds have purchased the contract of first baseman Eric Crozier from the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. Crozier is the first-ever Blue Crab signed by the O's. He has spent time with the Indians, Jays, Yankees, Reds, and Red Sox organizations. (See the 2008 Roar from 34 post, "A Visit to Crustacean Nation.")

-Towson University alum and Pasadena, Md.-native Gary Helmick has signed a free-agent contract with the Orioles.

-Former Orioles reliever Chad Bradford continued his minor league rehab assignment in Durham on Saturday, tossing two innings of one-hit baseball. The Moneyball phenom did what he does best, recording ground ball outs during his time on the mound.
Bradford's speed regularly rested in the low to mid-70s, with pitches as slow as 63 MPH and topping out at 79 MPH.

Another former Baltimore athlete, this one of the football variety, made an appearance at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Saturday: Super Bowl Champion Tony Siragusa.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Flashback Friday: Alto Was Key

Remembering the manager of the Orioles' last World Series team

"A lot of people are frightened of the word 'pressure,' but your job's not worth a hill of beans without a little of that."

-Former O's manager Joe Altobelli, as quoted in The Baltimore Sun

He managed a 1971 Rochester Red Wings team that included Mike Ferraro, Johnny Oates, Don Baylor, and Ray Miller, each of whom would likewise manage in the majors.

He instructed the youthful iterations of Cal Ripken Jr., Don Mattingly, and Mark Grace on how to play the game.

His stories of mentoring Steve Dalkowski, a pitcher who threw as hard as he partied, provided screenwriter and director Ron Shelton with the grist for the Bull Durham characters Crash Davis and Nuke NaNoosh.

His jersey was the first of two that have been retired in Rochester, where is known as "Mr. Rochester."

In 2008, he was inducted into the International League Hall of Fame.

But Baltimore fans know him best as the manager of the last Orioles team to win the World Series.

A Thursday Roar from 34 post asked, "What day is complete without a Joe Altobelli reference?" So it seems that this day, a Flashback Friday, will be complete.

Joseph Salvatore Altobelli arrived in Baltimore in Earl Weaver's shadow and perhaps never escaped it.

After taking over a job he "never applied for" in 1983, Altobelli led the team to its first World Series in 13 years. A longtime minor league player and manager who batted .210, with five home runs and 28 RBIs in 166 major league games, Altobelli served three years in Orange and Black, following a championship season with 85 wins in 1984.

Owner Edward Bennett Williams, who reportedly called Altobelli a "cement head" behind his back, dismissed the manager
in 1985 after a 29-26 start and replaced him with the man he had replaced - Earl Weaver.

After leaving Baltimore Altobelli managed one game in the big leagues, an 8-6 Cubs loss to the New York Mets on May 21, 1991, in place of the fired Don Zimmer. Altobelli's major league record as a skipper was 212-167 (.559).

As a minor league manager, Alto finished in first place six times in 12 seasons. From 1971 to 1976, he led the Rochester Red Wings, then an O's affiliate, to a 502-350 (.589) record, two Governors Cup titles, four pennants, and one Junior World Series.

Following his retirement from the game, Altobelli filled every available role for the Red Wings except - as noted by The Baltimore Sun - the mascot's position, which he left to his grandchildren. Altobelli moved into Rochester's broadcast booth in 1996 and remained there through last year. The 2009 season is the first since 1950 that Altobelli has spent away from organized baseball.

Altobelli's entry in the International League Hall of Fame reads as follows:
Joe Altobelli is known as "Mr. Baseball" in Roch­ester, where he has served the club as a player, manager, general manager, and radio broadcaster. The Detroit native won a HR championship and a Governors' Cup crown as a player before going on to manage three more Governors' Cup Champions. The three-time IL Manager of the Year is Rochester's alltime leader in victories (502) and was an inaugural member of the Red Wings Hall of Fame in 1989. His #26 was the first uniform number ever retired by the Red Wings.

Sources: Minor league news

The Baltimore Sun (Mike Klingaman, April 6, 2008: "Remembering the 1983 Orioles; 25 years laters, still a good Joe; Altobelli Remains Consumate Pro After Six Decades.")

Sports Illustrated (Pete McEntegart, June 30, 2003, "Where Are They Now?")

Baseball Reference

Image source: Baseball Almanac (click photo for original)

The Un-Peter Angelos Gets a Mention

The Peter Angelos Twitter page - now known as "Un-Peter Angelos" in the wake of Tony LaRussa's threatened lawsuit - gets a mention on The Biz of Baseball.
Social networking giant Twitter is in the midst of Beta testing a verification system in an effort to thwart fake Twitter profiles. The addition of the system comes in the wake of a suit by Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who was prepared to sue Twitter over a fake profile created by someone claiming to be him. Similar accounts have been created for high profile individuals in baseball including Bud Selig, Theo Epstein, and Peter Angelos.
Just for fun, here's the latest Un-Angelos Tweet:

Don't worry about the guy who caught Matt Wieters' 1st homerun ball - he'll be dealt with immediately & with great impunity.

Should Huff Have Given K-Rod "the Joba Treatment"?

The only thing that could've been more entertaining about Aubrey Huff's walk-off single in Thursday night's 5-4 comeback victory was if he had given K-Rod "the Joba treatment."

Granted it wasn't a home run, but have we established rules for giving a pitcher the Joba treatment? Do you have to go deep to mock a guy who favors theatrics on the mound, or will any clutch hit suffice? Perhaps we should ask the Yankees' Brian Bruney what he thinks.

The O's don't play the Mets again this season, so retribution wouldn't be an issue. Perhaps Huff just doesn't want to offend a guy who may be his teammate by mid-July.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lenn Sakata in the Seattle Times

The Seattle Times recently spoke with Lenn Sakata about fellow Japanese-American and current Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu.

Sakata, who currently manages a minor league club in Japan, offers some pointed insights in the article, which also reviewed the former Oriole's baseball credentials.

Make no mistake, though, Sakata is one who cares. He's immensely proud of the fact that he was the second Japanese-American to wear a major-league uniform after fellow Hawaiian Ryan Kurosaki pitched seven games for St. Louis in 1975.

Sakata, an All-American second baseman at Gonzaga, was drafted by Milwaukee in 1975. He began his major-league career with the Brewers in 1977, but is best remembered for his six seasons in Baltimore.

He was the last guy to play shortstop before iron man Cal Ripken moved there permanently from third base in 1982, just 28 games into his record streak of 2,632 consecutive games played. Sakata was also a member of the Orioles' 1983 World Series championship team. In fact, the turning point for the Orioles that season well might have been a game in which Sakata was the improbable savior and then the unlikely hero.

The Orioles had been in a tight race all summer long and stood a half-game out of first place as they played Toronto on Aug. 24. The game went into extra innings with skipper Joe Altobelli having managed himself out of catchers, so he shifted Sakata behind the plate from second base. It was the first and only inning Sakata played at catcher in his 11-year major-league career.

Three successive Toronto batters reached base in the 10th inning, each with the idea of running on the novice catcher. They were so brazen with their leads that pitcher Tippy Martinez, not known for a strong move to first, picked each one off. Then, in the bottom of the frame, the fill-in catcher made sure he wouldn't have to endure another inning out of position by belting a three-run home run, one of just three homers he hit that season.

"The funny thing is," Sakata recalls, "When you're thinking about having to catch one more inning, my legs were already shaking because I wasn't used to squatting and the pressure of the game itself and having to catch. I was just thinking, 'Let me get a hit so the game is over,' and then I just happened to hit a hanging slider and it went over the fence. It was unbelievable."

The victory halted a two-game slide and propelled the Orioles to an eight-game winning streak during which they recaptured first place and never fumbled it the rest of the way.

In the Shadows of the Matt Wieters Spotlight

Some other Orange-and-Black items from Wednesday night

Undoubtedly, Wednesday's big story was Matt Wieters earning a Camden Yards curtain call with his first major league home run. (
See the MLB story with video of the hit.)

My dad called me just to make sure I knew it happened.

Meanwhile, my wife celebrated the fact that she correctly predicted how long it would take Wieters to homer in a previous Roar from 34 poll.
(You know it's love when your wife actually reads your blog.)

Believe it or not, there were other O's-related news items from Wednesday, these involving Brian Matusz, Luis Aparacio, and Joe Altobelli.

And really, what day is complete without a Joe Altobelli reference?

Matusz pitches a "masterpiece" in his first Bowie start.
Left-hander Brian Matusz kicked off his Baysox career with a 6.0 inning, 10 strikeout gem as Bowie defeated Reading 4-1. Catcher Adam Donachie's blasted a two-run home run in the fifth inning to put the Baysox on top, as they improve to a season-high four games above .500 at 34-30.
Omar Vizquel matched former Oriole Luis Aparicio's record for hits by a Venezuelan player.
Omar Vizquel matched Luis Aparacio with his 2,677th hit Wednesday night -- the most by a player from Venezuela. Just how good was Aparicio?

Aparicio led the American League in stolen bases for nine consecutive seasons, 1956-64, with a career-high 57 in 1964 with the Baltimore Orioles.

He was also a nine-time Gold Glove winner, with the White Sox and Orioles.

He was the sparkplug on the 1959 pennant winning White Sox, and batted .308 in the World Series. He was also the sparkplug on the World Series champion Orioles in 1966.
Finally, Twitter-Loving Tony LaRussa's selection as a National League All-Star coach brings out the Joe Altobelli references.
La Russa has managed in five All-Star Games --1989, 1990 and 1991 with Oakland and 2005 and 2007 with the Cardinals. He's 3-2 overall, with each of the victories coming when he was with the A's of the American League.

La Russa also is no stranger to coaching.

"I've done it for (Joe) Altobelli, John McNamara, Dusty Baker," he said. "But it's a National League game, so watching the (lineup) card is going to be something that changes, (with) who's available and all that.


La Russa's first All-Star Game assignment was in 1984 as a coach for Altobelli, then-manager of the Baltimore Orioles. In 1987, he was on the staff of McNamara, then-manager of the Boston Red Sox.

Image source: Reuters via Yahoo! Sports (click photo for original)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mets Fans Tweet About the Birds

There were numerous game updates.

A debate about whether an error-filled victory over a last-place team counts as a "good win."

And expressed affection for David Wright as a player, team leader, and, well, because he's just plain "Hot Hot Hot."

What could be worse than the latter Tweet? How about this corny ninth inning musing by TheRopolitans: "I hope Ty doesn't Ty it up."

What else were Mets fans tweeting about during and after Tuesday night's 6-4 win against the Orioles?

Here's a quick rundown.

On the Aubrey Huff error:

GregDiener Well there goes the Mets interest in Aubrey Huff, Mets get one back for the missed Castillo Pop-Up on Friday i guess.

darknova306 Hahaha! *cries* hahaha sigh... RT @TheRopolitans: He pulled a Castillo!

melissag57 RT @metsjetsgirl RT @joeviddy: Other teams can drop the ball too?!?!

noah_s Haha nice drop!

mr_met ...and that kids is why you run it out. Huff drops pop up down the 1B line leading to the #Mets scoring 2, 6-2 Top 7.

mikevooss So the Orioles pop-up error cost them 2 runs and ultimately the game. Sound familiar to anyone? #Mets

twayward Gr8 lead by AP: BALTIMORE--This time, the NY Mets were the ones to benefit from a popup. #Mets

PaulsRandomStuf Nice to see the #Mets take advantage of another team's mistakes... even if they don't want to make it easy!

On O's fans and Camden Yards:

spo_ wow... and we weren't happy with citi's music? could be worse... they're playing "thank god i'm a country boy" at camden right now... #Mets

dreilly11 Also, I love how you can hear a B'More fan heckling Castillo about the pop-up. Would love if Luis said "dude, you're an Orioles fan." #Mets

jrobelen @MetsWFAN good to hear the #Mets stirring it up at the Yards. Too bad the O's can't fill seats there any more.

docnolz Did you all hear the crowd at Camden chanting Lets Go Mets last night on TV? Sounded almost like Queens ! #Mets

A compliment:

swirlywand Dear Nats announcers- you could learn some class from Os broadcast team. #mets #orioles

And some concessions on the Mora strikeout:

ckanterman Even though the #Mets benefitted, the umpiring is pathetic this season #Orioles #MLB

chrisbirckhead Sorry #orioles fans.. that was a horrible horrible call. #mets

Myers Brings the Fundraising Heat

"A lot of students go on to professional ball, or go to a four-year university to continue with baseball. At one time there was seven baseball players in Clark County that went on to play professional baseball including myself, and even now there are five from Clark County who are in the major leagues."

-Randy Myers
, Clark College alumnus

Former Oriole Randy Myers is
helping revive the baseball program at his alma mater, Clark College, in his hometown of Vancouver, Wash.
A return as a varsity sport has been difficult. For some reason, baseball team funding has been denied by the Associated Students of Clark College, which administers student fees. College officials have pressed ahead, and seek funding from the public.

The Clark College Alumni Association and Penguin Athletic Club have been pushing for some time to return baseball to the campus. But the standout booster for Clark baseball is Randy Myers, a member of the Clark College Class of 1983 and star Penguin pitcher.
Myers pitched at the junior college in the early '80s and received the school's Outstanding Alumni Award in 1991. When he was a student, Myers served on the school's club committee, which helped fund the baseball program. Years later, he served as an assistant coach for the women's basketball program.

Myers' generous contributions to the school, including matching donations that ranged from the hundreds to the tens of thousands of dollars during the recent fundraising campaign, helped revive the program that has been defunct since 1992. The Clark College Penguins will "Play Ball"again starting with the 2009-2010 season.

Myers tallied 76 saves in two seasons with the Birds, including a 45-save effort during the team's 1997 A.L. East Wire-to-Wire run that stands as the Orioles' single-season club record. His 131 relief points in '97 also are an O's record.

Myers made the All Star team in 1997 and finished fourth in both the MVP and Cy Young voting. Ken Griffey, Tino Martinez, and Frank Thomas finished ahead of him for MVP while Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Brad Radke topped him in the Cy Young race.

Image source: Clark College Foundation (click photo for original)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Off Days Aren't Necessarily Rest Days

“It was pretty neat to come out [and interact]. The [fan’s support] means a lot to me personally ... We want to get a winning season of course. But, at the same time, you’ve got to rebuild and it starts with pitching because the offense is there ... Once the younger guys get a season or two under their belts in the big leagues, they’ll be comfortable and we’ll go out and have a crazy year.”

-Adam Jones, as quoted at a Westminster autograph session

Just because the O's weren't on the diamond Monday night doesn't mean they weren't keeping themselves busy.

Adam Jones headed out to Westminster for an autograph session at Great Moments (Koji and Brian Roberts will make appearances in August) while Luke Scott and Brad Bergesen joined Scott McGregor at the Hagerstown Area Church Softball League’s annual banquet.

Said Scott of his active off day:

"It is valuable free time, but I know what's important," Scott said. "I'm honored to be here. It's a blessing. God blesses us. He doesn't want us just sitting in our houses. I'm blessed to be playing in the major leagues. This is the least I can do.

"When I go to heaven, I'll have all the rest I'll need."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Remembering "Why Not?" Times Three

Triple play facts on the 20th anniversary of the day the O's turned one against the Yankees

Twenty years ago today, on
June 15, 1989, the "Why Not?" Orioles defeated the Yankees 3-2 in 10 innings before 30,284 fans at Memorial Stadium.

Cal hit his fifth homer, Randy "Moose" Milligan went 3-for-4 with one of his 16 career stolen bases, and reliever Mark Thurmond picked up the win after 7.1 quality innings from Jeff Ballard. Even Rene Gonzalez got in on the action with the game-winning RBI single that plated Mickey Tettleton in the 10th. However, the big story of the day was the Orioles' triple-play defense.

Desperately in need of an out in the game's first inning, Ballard did three better.

With one run across, two runners on, and the game's first out yet recorded, the Yankees' Steve Balboni hit a line drive to shortstop that Cal fielded to initiate the triple play. Cal's throw to Billy Ripken at second got Steve Sax for out number two, and Billy's throw to Milligan at first got Don Mattingly for the inning's third and final out.

The Orioles had the American League's only triple play that season. Meanwhile, four triple plays were recorded in the National League in 1989.

Since 1954, the Orioles have recorded 29 triple plays. The team's most recent effort came on Sept. 1, 2000, against the Indians.

The most triple plays in a season for the Orioles was three - all in August - in 1992 (Aug. 7 against the Indians; Aug. 25 against the Angels; and Aug. 30 against the Mariners).

The modern Orioles have recorded two triple plays during five different seasons (1954; 1955; 1967; 1973; and 1979). The O's also had a streak of seven consecutive seasons with a triple play from 1963 through 1969.

Sources: Baseball Reference, SABR Records Committee

Speaking of Brad Bergesen and Two Names No O's Fan Wants to Hear

Bergesen is the youngest Oriole to toss a complete game since Daniel Cabrera did so in 2004, also at the age of 23, also against the Braves. Cabrera's line: 9 IP, 4 hits, 0 ER, six strikeouts, 2 walks.

Brad Bergesen is young (23), and he just
tossed a complete game on the heels of an eight-inning gem. He's gone seven or more innings in each of his last four outings, giving up two runs or fewer each time. This is all very good news, but there's some less heartening news to consider as well.

Recent O's history suggests that youth and endurance don't necessarily translate to success. Avert your eyes, Orioles fans, because we're about to talk some D-Cab and some Sir Sidney.

Bergesen is the youngest Oriole to toss a complete game since Daniel Cabrera did so in 2004, also at the age of 23, also against the Braves. Cabrera's line: 9 IP, 4 hits, 0 ER, six strikeouts, and two walks. Cabrera tallied six complete games in five Orioles seasons.

Oh, it gets worse.

Sidney Ponson threw six complete games at age 22, an accomplishment he matched the following season at age 23. Ponson pitched 28 complete games as an Oriole.

Ponson and Cabrera are just two of the young guns who have showed signs of promise for the Birds this decade. Other familiar names on that list include Adam Loewen, who took to the mound in 2006 at age 22; Hayden Penn, who pitched in 2006 at age 21; and Garrett Olson, who in 2007, like Bergesen, started for the O's at age 23.

These days, Loewen is reinventing himself an OF/1B in the Jays' system, Penn is trying to find his groove as a reliever with the Marlins' Triple-A affiliate after giving up three bases-loaded walks for the big club, and Olson is fluctuating between a starter's role and a relief role in Seattle.

Recent history be damned, I am choosing to remain excited about Brad Bergesen.

Who's been "going the distance" for the Birds?

Four complete games in 2008: Daniel Cabrera (2), Guthrie 1, Waters 1.

Four complete games in 2007: Cabrera, Bedard, Trachsel, Jon Leicester.

Five complete games in 2006: Kris Benson (3), Daniel Cabrera (2).

Two complete games in 2005: Sidney Ponson, Bruce Chen.

Eight complete games in 2004: Sidney Ponson (5), Rodrigo Lopez (1), Daniel Cabrera (1), Bruce Chen (1).

Nine complete games in 2003: Sidney Ponson (4), Pat Hentgen (1), Rodrigo Lopez (3), Eric Dubouse (1).

Friday, June 12, 2009

Flashback Friday: The Art of the Two-Run Sac Fly

Remembering two-run sacrifice flies for and against the O's

Baltimore broke a five-game losing streak on Russ Snyder's two-run single and a two-run sacrifice fly by Brooks Robinson in the 11th inning. ... An enthusiastic D.C. Stadium crowd of 26,012 went home disappointed as the Senators, winner of 12 of their last 14 games, collapsed defensively in the 11th inning. Among the onlookers was former President Eisenhower.

-The Free-Lance Star, July 24, 1967

Last weekend, the Paul Bunyan of the National League, Albert Pujols, accomplished a rare baseball feat when he hit a two-run sacrifice fly against the Rockies. Given Pujols' unique accomplishment for St. Louis' Birds, this week's Flashback Friday considers two-run sacrifice flies for and against our Birds, including Brooks Robinson's extra-innings effort in 1967.

You don't have to go back
very far to locate the most recent two-run sacrifice fly against the Orioles. Just last season Joe Mauer put two runs on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning on a long fly ball to left-center at the Metrodome that Adam Jones caught before falling down on the warning track. With Carlos Gomez providing the latter run, Mauer commented of his accomplishment, "It helps to have the fastest man in baseball on second base." The Twins defeated the O's 7-5.

Fifteen years earlier, on Aug. 8, 1993, the Orioles surrendered a first-inning, two-run sacrifice fly to the Indians' Albert Belle in a game they eventually won 7-6. Belle's towering drive to right field scored Kenny Lofton and Wayne Kirby.

But what about two-run sac flies by the good guys? The most recent such effort by an Oriole came on Aug. 26, 1983, against the Twins, when Al Bumbry plated Jim Dauer and Todd Cruz in the bottom of the second inning of a game the O's won 9-0. (Newspaper clip.) However, a more memorable effort came 16 years earlier off the bat of Brooks Robinson.

Robinson's 11th inning sac fly on July 23, 1967, helped halt a five-game losing streak for the Birds and disappointed the home fans at D.C. Stadium, including former President Eisenhower. Robinson's effort followed a two-run, go-ahead single by Russ Snyder and an intentional walk to Paul Blair that loaded the bases.

Robinson drove a ball to left field that the Senators' Hank Allen caught; however, Allen mistakenly thought it was the inning's third out. Luis Aparicio and Snyder raced home as Allen, who replaced Frank Howard in left field to start the ninth inning, jogged toward the infield. (Newspaper clip.)

Allen's Baseball Wiki entry notes (along with multiple other duplicate sources), "he was just fair defensively." However, two years after his mistake in the outfield, Allen would become a part of Washington (er ... Texas?) baseball history as he reeled off seven straight multi-hit games - including a series against the O's - for manager Ted Williams. Cristian Guzman matched Allen's effort for the Nationals in 2008.

Allen was one of Dick Allen's two younger brothers to play big league ball. Chances are the mistake against the Orioles and his relative lack of success outside of the 1969 season didn't phase him. As one fan recounted after meeting Allen at a Senators reunion, the former player made sure to note of baseball that it was "what I did ... It is not who I am."

After winning their first World Series the season prior, the Orioles finished the 1967 season with a 76-85 record, 15 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in sixth place out of the 10-team American League.

Sources: BaseballReference.com, Google News, Orioles Director of Communications Greg Bader, StephenJ.Walker.com, PressDemocrat.com, Washington-Nats.com, BaseballWiki.

Image source: BaseballReference.com Click photo for original.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What's the Story on These Draft Picks?

"The steal of the draft may have come in round seven when El Toro pitcher Aaron Wirsch was taken by the Baltimore Orioles with pick No. 206."

-Orange County Illustrated, demonstrating the beauty of local bias

There's a kid from Canada who joined his brother as the only New Brunswick players to be drafted (Jay Johnson), the son of an Oriole great (Steve Bumbry), the draft's first NAIA player selected (Ashur Tolliver), a Dookie (Cameron Coffey), and the brother of the Ravens' starting quarterback (Mike Flacco). All are among the O's 2009 Amateur Draft selections.

Roar from 34 offers a rundown of stories for almost all of the Birds' draft picks through Day 2, plus the first pick from Day 3 since he's related to the Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year.

Fill in the blanks with MLB.com's O's draft story.

5 Hobgood, Matthew
Orioles draft RHP Hobgood with 5th overall pick

54 Givens, Mychal
Orioles select Plant's Givens

85 Townsend, Tyler
Townsend draft by Orioles, not returning to FIU

116 Henry, Randy
30 Oklahoma players chosen during day two of baseball draft

146 Tolliver, Ashur
OCU's Tolliver first NAIA player taken in MLB draft

176 Dalles, Justin
Orioles select Gamecock in sixth round of 2009 MLB Draft

206 Wirsch, Aaron
Nine more OC products taken early on day 2

236 Harris, Devin
Pros call on Pirates

266 Berry, Ryan
Holt, Berry taken in ninth round of MLB draft

296 Cowan, Jacob
Two Longhorns selected in fifth round of MLB Draft

326 Ohlman, Michael
Orioles draft Lakewood Ranch's Ohlman in 11th round

356 Bumbry, Steven
Orioles reach to their past, pick Bumbry

386 Kelly, Tyler
Local players picked in draft

416 Baker, David

446 Bush, Garrett
North Florida players get draft calls

476 Palsha, Ryan

506 Walters, Jeffrey

536 Martin, Jarret

566 Schutz, Kipp
Orioles take Schultz in 19th round; two North grads picked

596 Brandhorst, James
Lamar Pitching Trio Selected On Second Day of MLB Draft

626 Landry, Kevin
Baseball: Landry drafted by Orioles

656 Coffey, Cameron
Duke Chronicle

686 Mooney, Michael
Gator's second-day draft haul: Lucky 13

716 Anderson, Justin
ULM's Justin Anderson selected by Orioles in 24th round of MLB Draft

746 Johnson, Jay
Major league draft for the 'Birds' for N.B. pitcher

776 Mechaw, Michael

806 Planeta, Michael

836 Hoppy, Kyle
Three Local Players taken in MLB Draft

866 Alexander, Brandon

896 Webb, Brenden
Locals draft chart

926 Mike Flacco
Two Flaccos flying around Baltimore

Brooks: Major Investments in Minor Interests

York, Southern Maryland ... Richmond?

Brooks Robinson is expanding his minor league interests. The part-owner of the York Revolution and the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs is hoping to help redo Richmond's minor league stadium and host a Double-A Eastern league team there. Richmond recently lost the Braves' Triple-A affiliate to Gwinnett County, Ga.

The Richmond Metropolitan Authority has termed a renovation proposal by Opening Day Partners (ODP), which includes Robinson as a principal and is chaired by Peter Kirk, the former owner/operator of Baltimore Orioles farm clubs, "intriguing and worthy of evaluation."

More from the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Opening Day Partners today will release a $28 million plan for a "transformation" of The Diamond.

ODP, based in Annapolis, Md., last spring delivered a $40 million proposal to the city for a new ballpark that could be located on the Boulevard, or at another Richmond-area site. ODP's transformation plan proposes a "brand new, state-of-the-art ballpark and community activity venue" on the footprint of The Diamond.

The Diamond opened in 1985, and its condition influenced the Atlanta Braves to move their Class AAA franchise from Richmond to Gwinnett County, Ga., after last season. The Diamond could be fully transformed for next season if construction started by Aug.1, according to Peter Kirk, ODP's chairman.

Brooks Robinson, the Hall of Famer who starred for the Baltimore Orioles, also is an ODP principal. In the release, he says "We have been closely following the debate over returning minor-league baseball to Richmond and would very much like to see baseball return as quickly and as efficiently as possible."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Birds Get Bumbry

On Tuesday I posted a piece about Steve Bumbry, son of Orioles legend Al Bumbry, and the possibility that he would get drafted. Turns out he did, and the Birds got him.

Bumbry was projected as the No. 146 prospect, but the O's took him with the 356th pick.

Bergesen, Bluefield, and the Baby Birds

Call it Twofer Tuesday, as two big stories dominated the local baseball scene last night: Brad Bergesen (8 IP, 5 hits, 0 ER, O BB, 6 Ks in a 3-1 O's win) and the amateur draft. All the better when you can fit both into the same story.

Just ask Dave Trembley: "I think tonight was kind of appropriate, being draft day, that a couple of our guys, drafted by the scouts that I met here today, did so well. I think that's just tremendous. Bergesen was good. That's the best we've seen out of him."

Down in Bluefield, home of the Orioles' Rookie League affiliate, the focus is the same. They're excited about stocking up on the team's new young talent and proud of the success of one of their own - Bergesen is the first MLB product since Daniel Cabrera to have played in Bluefield.

From the Bluefield Daily Telegraph:
Bluefield, which has had Minor League baseball since 1937, and have been part of the modern Appalachian League since 1957, has produced numerous big leaguers as well, includ ing Hall of Fame inductees Cal Ripken, Jr., and Eddie Murray.

Others to start at Bowen Field include Bobby Grich, Don Baylor, Mark Belanger and Doug DeCinces, who had the unenviable task of following Brooks Robinson at third base in Baltimore.

It had been a while since any Baby Birds had reached ‘The Show’ until Brad Bergesen, a pitcher with Bluefield in ‘04, made his debut this season in Baltimore. Daniel Cabrera, who pitched in Bluefield in ‘02, had been the last to get there, making it in '04.


The Orioles, meanwhile, have 10 players on the Prospect list, including first round picks Billy Rowell (No. 7, ’06) and Brandon Snyder (No. 9, ‘05), along with second round selection Ryan Adams (No. 28, ‘06).

The Prospect book — the bible for anyone interested in the future stars of baseball — includes numerous players who have visited Mercer County from the league’s other organization.


In a tough economy, why not take a break from the long trip this summer and catch an Appalachian League game? Make sure you purchase a program and check it out on a few years.

Who knows who you may have seen once upon a time?
Here is a past Roar from 34 posting about Bluefield and its love for the "Baby Birds."