Wednesday, March 31, 2010

1970 Orioles Rank Among the All-Time Great Teams

O's fans will be hearing a fair amount this season about the 1970 World Series champions, and rightly so.

The Orioles will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the organization's second championship team during a pregame ceremony at Camden Yards on June 26.

In the meantime, Tom Verducci has ranked the 1970 Baltimore Orioles as No. 7 on his list of the top ten greatest baseball teams.

Finally, here's a Fan Fest video featuring members of the team reflecting on their championship season.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The View from Sarasota, Part 5

The blog-O's-phere has provided some quality, in-person updates from Spring Training of late.

Over at Dempsey's Army, Heath reported on his visit to the team's minor league camp as well as his trip to Ed Smith Stadium.

Meanwhile, Wayward O secured a press pass for Brian Roberts' spring debut, chatted up Joe Angel, and watched Josh Bell fight a bear and a pterodactyl.

Roar from 34's crack reporting staff of one, operating on a travel budget of peanuts and Cracker Jack, didn't fly South this season. But thanks to Sarasota baseball advocate Norm Schimmel, the Spring Training updates continue.

Here's the fifth in Roar from 34's "View from Sarasota" series; quality Birds eye view photos from the Red Sox and Yankees games courtesy of Schimmel.

[Check out the complete "View from Sarasota" series.]


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cement Head? Actually, Altobelli will be Cast in Bronze

The Rochester Red Wings have announced they will honor former Orioles manager Joe Altobelli - the man owner Edward Bennett Williams once dubbed "cement head" - with a statute outside the team's stadium.

I profiled Altobelli for a Flashback Friday in June and learned more about his Rochester connection.

Here's an excerpt:
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.


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.

Read the full post.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Flashback Friday: Feeling Ducky

The Long Island Ducks are not an Orioles affiliate; it only seems that way after the Atlantic League club signed Sir Sidney Ponson this week, two years after serving as the home base for the Jay Gibbons apology tour.

Paging Daniel Cabrera.

As an independent baseball team, the Ducks tend to capitalize on the nostalgia marketing model, attracting fans by signing major league veterans with high name recognition. Thus the likes of Carl Everett, Carlos Baerga, Juan Gonzalez, and John Rocker have all been part of The Flock since the team's inaugural 2000 season.

Aside from Ponson and Gibbons, how many former Orioles can you name who also played for the Long Island Ducks?

(Over/Under for those not holding season tickets to the Ducks = 1.)

Here's the list of players to have suited up in orange and black Baltimore as well as orange and green in Central Islip:

Jim Brower

Hector Carrasco

Alberto Castillo

John DeSilva

John Halama

Aaron Ledesma

Jose Leon

Mark Lewis

Richie Lewis

Julio Manon

Todd Williams

And here are a few O's prospects and Duck veterans who never made it to the bigs in Baltimore:

Kimera Bartee

Pete Rose Jr.

Tom Martin

Image source: Rake Blog.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

March Madness? Mark Hendrickson Knows All About It

Not only is Mark Hendrickson among a handful of major leaguers to have played in the NBA, he's also on the list of professional baseball players to have participated in March Madness.

Hendrickson played for Washington State in the 1994 NCAA basketball tournament. The Cougars, an eight seed in the East, lost a tough opening-round contest to the ninth seeded Boston College Eagles 67-64. The game was played in Landover, Md., just down the road from Hendrickson's future Camden Yards home.

Boston College upset top-seeded North Carolina in the tournament's second round as part of an Elite Eight run that season.

Hendrickson, a sophomore, averaged 10.5 points during the 1993-1994 season for Coach Kelvin Sampson's Cougars. He ended up a two-time All-Pac 10 selection and ranks second in career rebounds at Washington State. The Philadelphia Sixers drafted Hendrickson with the 31st pick in the second round of the 1996 NBA Draft.

Read more about Hendrickson and the Cougars' NCAA tournament season at the WSU website.

Also worth noting is that Hendrickson won a basketball state championship in high school and is a member of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Hall of Fame. For more, visit the WIAA website.

Image source: WIAA.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Return of Steve Johnson; Orioles Father-Son Combos

Last month I wrote about Bob Kennedy being the first player for the modern Orioles to hit a grand slam. Kennedy also happens to be among the rare father-son combinations to have played for the Orioles; his son, Terry Kennedy, caught for the Orioles in 1987 and 1988 and earned an All-Star nod in '87.

The return of Steve Johnson to the Orioles on Tuesday raises the possibility of this list getting longer. And why not? Dave Johnson played for the Birds from 1989 through 1991.

Other father-son duos to have suited up for the Orioles include the following:

-Dave May (1967-1970) and Derrick May (1999).

-Don Buford (1968-1972) and Damon Buford (1993-1995).

-Tim Raines (four games in 2001) and Tim Raines Jr. (2001, 2003, 2004).

Other potential candidates besides Steve Johnson are as follows:

-Steve Bumbry, son of Al Bumbry (1972-1984), who was drafted by the Orioles in 2009.

-Toronto pitchers Kyle Drabek, son of Doug Drabek (1998), and Josh Roenicke, son of Gary Roenicke (1978-1975). 

-Tug Hulett, son of Tim Hulett (1989-1994), who plays in the Boston system.


Fishing with Luke Scott

I'm not much of an Angler, so I don't have a good 200-words-or-less answer for WFN as to why every day is a good day for fishing.  Nevertheless, this seems like a pretty cool contest.

Early entries are closer to 20 words than 200. They include the following:
"Cause fishing is just amazing cold, stormy,warm, doesn't matter fishing is relaxing and can make your day if you catch the right fish."

"Get's me way from the daily work and issues. It is just a nice escape for a while."

"Get out experience nature as it should be!"

"Everyday is a great day for fishing so I can think of excuses to where I've been when I'm not fishing!"
I prefer the Homer Simpson logic: "If you love fish like I do, you want them to die with dignity."

However, I'm guessing the experience would be more like that of Tony Soprano and Bobby Bacala.


Before "The Perfect Catch" there was "The Hero!"

O's fans are rightfully excited about Matt Wieters appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He's the first Orioles player to do so since Roberto Alomar following the 1996 ALDS.

Do yourself a favor and also visit the SI vault to view the last pre-Wieters cover to feature a Baltimore catcher, 1983 World Series MVP Rick Dempsey.

The associated feature story about the '83 Series, "The Orioles All Pitched In," is filled with enough narrative color to match the fine imagery in the photo array that accompanies the article.

You can read all about -

Eddie Murray's reflections on winning it all.
There have been world champions with more talent, but there has probably never been a team as selfless as these Orioles. "Just knowing that you're part of the best team in baseball," said Murray, "well, it's a nice little feeling."
The timeless value of pitching.
The National League champion Phillies and the American League champion Orioles were as different as, say, cheesesteaks and crab cakes, but they did have a couple of things in common. One was a firm belief in two-platoon baseball. The other was good pitching, and as everyone knows, good pitching beats good pitching.
The trio that Kenny Singleton dubbed "The Three Stoodges."
Coming up after Lowenstein were the Stooges, Larry (Rich Dauer), Curly (Todd Cruz) and Moe (Dempsey) ..."I'm Moe because I'm the most intelligent," says Dempsey. "I'm Curly," says Cruz, "because he's my favorite guy. Whoowhoo. I do the backstep good, too, so I told Joe [Manager Altobelli] that the next time he pinch-hits for me, I'm gonna do the backstep into the dugout."

During the game Boddicker asked if he could be Shemp, the Stooge who replaced Curly, because of his RBI. 
And Sammy Stewart's bullpen behavior.
Stewart, the Throwin' Swannanoan (he's from Swannanoa, N.C.), came on to pitch in the sixth. Actually, he had already been busy in the game, washing the windows of the O's bullpen. "They were all scratched and smudged from doubles by Schmidt and [Andre] Dawson and [Dale] Murphy," said Stewart. "So we called down for Windex and towels in the first." For the next 2 1/3 innings, Stewart wiped up the Phils.
The SI spread also provides a review of Earl Weaver's work in the broadcast booth (it's no wonder he returned to the dugout) and a sidebar on the Series MVP, "Dempsey: He Was Moe Than Philly Could Handle."


Image sources: SI Vault.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Matusz at the Top

People like lists.

People love lists that include their favorite players.

O's fans will love Sports Illustrated's list of "Top 20 Fantasy Impact Rookies to Watch."

Brian Matusz takes the top spot.

Publish Post

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The View from Sarasota - Part 4

Orioles vs. Pirates in Sarasota, and Norm Schimmel is on the scene once again. Thanks to Norm for another great round of Spring Training photos.

Previous Views from Sarasota: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.


Friday, March 05, 2010

Flashback Friday: Johnny Orsino's Spring Training Homer Binge

In lieu of this week's Flashback Friday, Roar from 34 turns its attention to Keith Olbermann's MLB blog "Baseball Nerd" where Olbermann tells the story of former O's backstop Johnny Orsino.

Orsino , nicknamed Horse, made a unique claim to baseball fame with his streak of five straight Spring Training home runs to start his Orioles career.

Olbermann describes the accomplishment as follows:
So his first at bat in an Orioles uniform on March 15th was by itself something of a triumph.

Orsino promptly hit a three-run homer off Joe Moeller of the Dodgers. In his next at bat, he was accidentally intentionally walked (Boog Powell had been balked to second and manager Walter Alston was gesticulating wildly about the call; Dodger catcher Mike Brumley mistakenly believed he was being inexplicably ordered to walk his Oriole counterpart). In his third trip to the plate, Orsino hit another homer, a solo blast.

He came out of the game at that point, and missed Baltimore's next two exhibitions. But against veteran Reds' lefty Jim O'Toole at Al Lopez Field in Tampa on March 18th, Orsino made it three homers in three Baltimore ups. Then four in four. Then five in five. 

You read correctly. Not just home runs in five consecutive official at bats, nor just home runs in the first five at bats of spring training, but five consecutive home runs in the first five at bats with a new team. The streak was finally snapped when a Reds' prospect named John Flavin got Orsino to pop up to the catcher.

Orsino was later part of another baseball rarity when he caught a game during which both pitchers tossed one-hitters. The only players to record hits in the game were the catchers.

On Sept. 12, 1964, pitcher Frank Bertaina of the Birds topped Bob Meyer of the Kansas City A's before 13,162 fans at Memorial Stadium.

Bertaina, a 20-year-old rookie, struck out seven and walked five. His only hit allowed was a lead-off double in the fifth inning to A's catcher Doc Edwards.

Meyer, a 24-year-old rookie, pitched seven no-hit innings before allowing a lead-off double to Orsino. A sacrifice bunt by Bertaina moved pinch runner Bob Saverine (nicknamed "Rabbit") to third. Saverine then scored on a Jackie Brandt sacrifice fly.

So the critical sequence started like this: Lead-off double by the Horse, replaced by the Rabbit as a pinch runner. If that's not wise managing I don't know what is.

The Orioles moved to 87-58 with the 1-0 victory while the Athletics fell to 52-91.

Bertaina finished the 1964 season 1-0 in six starts. He recorded 19 career wins in seven major league seasons.

Meyer finished the 1964 season 2-8 in 22 starts. He tallied two career wins in three major league seasons.
Image Source: EBay


Thursday, March 04, 2010

The View from Sarasota - "Opening Day" Edition

The Orioles started their Sarasota Spring Training adventure in grand fashion on Wednesday, hammering the Rays 12-2. Norm Schimmel was on the scene and provided Roar from 34 with more great photos.

Previous Views from Sarasota - Part 1, Part 2.



Fear the Cartoon Bird

How do you make a nearly perfect evening at Comcast Center even better? By holding up a throwback Orioles hat in the middle of the post-game celebration, of course.

Well done, anonymous Terps fan. Well done.

Image via The Sun's game gallery.


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Orioles' Ghosts of Top Prospects Past

On the heels of Baseball America's list of 100 Top prospects for 2010, Sports Illustrated's Sky Andrecheck examines the publication's top 10 prospects from 1990 through 2006.

Andrecheck uses WAR data to divide those players into five categories: busts, average players, good players, great players, and franchise players.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The View from Sarasota, Part 2

Here's another look at the springtime happenings in Sarasota, again courtesy of local baseball advocate Norm Schimmel. (See "The View from Sarasota," Jan. 29, 2010).

Copyright on all photos: Norm Schimmel.