Wednesday, January 2, 2019

When You Don't Pay Attention to Those Pesky Details

A few years ago, when I was in the middle of a pretty dumb idea that turned out pretty well, I stumbled across a Steven Stamkos card that I had no idea existed. It immediately became my goal to acquire one of these cards. As with all of my goals, my dedication to actually accomplish it has fluctuated. Mostly, I forget about it for a month or two and then something reminds me of the card and I do an eBay search.

At first those searches came up completely empty, but as of late there are some hits. None with the Stamkos, but Phil Kessel and Jeff Skinner cards from that series have shown up. One particular result peaked my interest. It was a complete set for the 2017 Upper Deck NHL Smashfest Promo Set Rare. The photo showed Patrick Eaves holding a trophy and the design was exactly like the one featuring Stamkos. Sure I was buying nine cards instead of just one, but that wasn't a big deal. It's a complete set! He is part of the set! Therefore he will be in the set! Logic!

I'd get my Stamkos card and then just sell off the others to make a little money back. It was a foolproof plan. Or so I thought.

I put in an offer and after a couple of days it was accepted. Payment went through around Christmas and I sat back and waited for the cards to arrive. While I was waiting I went back into the auction and actually read the details. The seller had posted the checklist in the initial description (which I hadn't bothered to read) and....there was no Steven Stamkos.


Quickly I realized that the 2017 set was the SECOND year that Upper Deck had produced a Smashfest promo set. Stamkos' card was included in the FIRST year. They used the same design to keep continuity, but it featured different players. Even the numbering system lined up. The 2016 set had 11 cards and this set started at SF-12. Bummer.

I don't regret the purchase, after all these are some neat cards to own. The question is, what do I do with them now? Do I keep them and try to put together the whole collection? Do I sell them individually? I busted them out of the cellophane in order to scan them. How do I log them? As far as I can tell the set isn't listed on Trading Card Database yet. Do I enter them as "Hockey Cards" or "Non-Sport Cards"?

So many questions.  In the meantime, since there isn't a lot of information on these cards, here's what was included:

Patrick Eaves SF-12

Derick Brassard SF-13

Alex Burrows SF-14

Aaron Ekblad SF-15

Chris Kreider SF-16

Mitch Marner SF-17

Sean Monahan SF-18

Antoine Roussel SF-19

Cam Talbot SF-20

Tom Wilson SF-21

If you're interested in any of the cards let me know. If you have a Stamkos 2016 SF-7 card that you'd like to trade out DEFINITELY let me know.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Great Hockey Card Sell Off

As part of my self-created role over at Raw Charge, I've started reviewing all of the hockey releases this year. That requires me to purchase a box of each product.  Well it doesn't require me to, but how am I supposed to review something that I don't have in my hands, right?

In a related note, before I moved to Pittsburgh I divested myself of my non-Lightning hockey collection. I'm trying to keep it divested. So after two boxes of MVP and a box of O-Pee-Chee I have some cards to get rid of. In order to not go into bankruptcy during this project I have listed a few of the items on eBay (feel free to bid away) but I still have some base cards and inserts collecting dust.

So I've decided to see if anyone wants to take them off of my hands. And to help offset past and future products I have decided to sell them off as team lots. Each team (minus the Lightning) is listed below along with a cost based on what cards are there (no team is more than $5.00).  Payment would be through PayPal.They will ship in a padded envelope and team bag. Shipping is $3.50 and if you want more than one team I will combine shipping charges. Shipping to Canada might be a little bit more, but we can work something out.

Let me know if you have any questions. First come, first served. Leave a comment with the team you want and shoot me an email at and I'll arrange to ship them out.

Anaheim Ducks (17 cards) $3.40:

MVP - #2 Ryan Getzlef (2), #54 Jakob Silfverberg (2), #74 Rickard Rakell, #177 Ondrej Kase, #148 Corey Perry (2), #189 Adam Henrique (2)

O-Pee-Chee - #26 Ryan Getzlef, #66 Ondrej Kase, #161 Brandon Montour, #242 Hampus Lindholm, #434 Derek Grant, #587 Team Checklist Short print, # 66 Retro Ondrej Kase

Arizona Coyotes (14 cards) $2.80:

MVP - #10 Oliver Ekman-Larsson, #37 Clayton Keller, #62 Max Domi, #134 Christian Dvorak, #192 Derek Stepan (2)

O-Pee-Chee - #55 Clayton Keller, #111 Derek Stepan, #326 Nick Cousins, #353 Niklas Hjamarsson, #382 Kevin Connauton, #497 Antti Raanta, #326 Retro Nick Cousins, #412 Retro Jakob Chychrun

Boston Bruins (17 cards) $3.40:

MVP - #3 Brad Marchand (2), #43 David Pastrnak (2), #79 Rick Nash, #131 Tuukka Rask (2), #183 Danton Heinan (2)

O-Pee-Chee - #11 David Pastrnk, #64 Sean Kuraly, #222 Jake DeBrusk, #265 David Krejci, #475 Anton Khudobin, #478 Tommy Wingels, #172 Retro Danton Heinen, #172 Silver Border Danton Heinen

Buffalo Sabres (13 cards) $2.60:

MVP - #12 Ryan O'Reilly, #58 Kyle Okposo, #93 Sam Reinhart, #121 Rasmus Ristolainen, #182 Jason Pominville, #6 Silver Signature 20th Anniversary Ryan O'Reilly, #121 Puzzle Back Rasmus Ristolainen, #58 Silver Signature Kyle Okposo

O-Pee-Chee - #16 Ryan O'Reilly, #256 Benoit Poulet, #293 Evan Rodrigues, #449 Chad Johnson, #16 Retro Ryan O' Reilly

Carolina Hurricanes (16 cards) $3.20:

MVP - #13 Teuvo Teravainen, #44 Sebastin Aho, #78 Justin Williams (2), #107 Jordan Staal, #141 Justin Faulk, #194 Justin Faulk front / Jeff Skinner back error, #194 Puzzle Back Jeff Skinner, #13 Silver Signature Teuvo Teravainen

O-Pee-Chee - #295 Justin Faulk, #375 Noah Hanifin, #489 Brock McGinn, # M-44 Mini Teuvo Teravainen, #455 Retro Hayden Fleury, #574 Retro Team Checklist Short print, #44 Silver Border Justin Williams

Calgary Flames (12 cards) $2.40:

MVP -  #4 Sean Monahan (2), #61 Dougie Hamilton, #92 Micheal Ferland, #123 T.J. Brodie, #193 Matthew Tkachuk, #193 Silver Signature Matthew Tkachuk, #248 Silver Signature Ryan Lomberg Short print

O-Pee-Chee - #114 Sean Monahan, #176 Mark Giordano, #203 T.J. Brodie, #495 Micheal Ferland, #531 Morgan Klimchuk RC Short print

Chicago Blackhawks:

Already claimed

Colorado Avalanche (13 cards) $2.60:

MVP -  #21 Gabriel Landeskog, #81 Tyson Barrie, #118 Alex Kerfoot, #149 Carl Soderberg (2), #188 Erik Johnson

O-Pee-Chee - #46 Semyon Varlamov, #118 Alex Kerfoot, #196 Samuel Girard, #281 Carl Soderberg, #398 Matt Nieto, #454 Nikita Zadorov, #97 Retro Tyson Barrie

Columbus Blue Jackets (16 cards) $3.20:

MVP - #14 Seth Jones (2), #35 Artemi Panarin (2), #64 Oliver Bjorkstrand, #66 Thomas Vanek, #82 Nick Foligno, #108 Alexander Wennberg, #136 Cam Atkinson, #184 Pierre-Luc Dubois, #184 Silver Signature Pierre-Luc Dubois

O-Pee-Chee -#63 Sonny Milano, #158 Josh Anderson, #192 Boone Jenner, #330 Cam Atkinson, #571 Team Checklist Short  print

Dallas Stars (19 cards) $3.80:

Already Claimed

Detroit Red Wings (12 cards) $2.40:

MVP - #16 Dylan Larkin, #40 Henrik Zetterberg, #87 Justin Abdelader (2),#146 Anthony Mantha (2), #173 Gustav Nyquist, #185 Jimmy Howard

O-Pee-Chee - #6 Dylan Larkin, #107 Luke Glendening, #210 Henrik Zetterberg,#235 Martin Frk, #254 Danny DeKeyser

Edmonton Oilers (13 cards) $2.60:

MVP - #26 Leon Draisaitl, #52 Milan Lucic, #85 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2), #124 Oscar Klefbom, #154 Ryan Strome, #180 Cam Talbot(2)

O-Pee-Chee - #236 Cam Talbot, #342 Kris Russell, #425 Milan Lucic, #486 Leon Draisaitl, #468 Retro Black 46/100 Drake Caggiula (small ding in lower right corner)

Florida Panthers (22 cards) $4.40:

MVP - #17 Aleksander Barkov (2), #39 Jonathan Huberdeau, #69 Vincent Trocheck, #95 Roberto Luongo, #125 Aaron Ekblad, #181 Keith Yandle, #243 Henrik Borgstrom RC Short print, #14 Roberto Luongo 20th Anniversary Silver Signature, #29 Aaron Ekblad 20th Anniversary Silver Signature

O-Pee-Chee -#8 Aleksander Barkov, #80 Jonathan Huberdeau, #195 Evgenii Dadonov, #206 Nick Bjugstad, #252 Michael Matheson, #323 Jamie McGinn, #377 Colton Sceviour, #403 James Reimer, #553 Roberto Luongo Season Highlight Short print, #323 Retro Jamie McGinn, #403 Retro James Reimer, #445 Retro Black 91/100 Mark Pysyk (small ding left side)

Los Angeles Kings (20 cards) $4.00:

MVP - #5 Jonathan Quick (2), #47 Dustin Brown, #83 Dion Phaneuf, #109 Drew Doughty (2), #128 Jake Muzzin (2), #144 Anze Kopitar (2), #166 Tyler Toffoli, #83 Dion Phaneuf Puzzle Back, #109 Drew Doughty Puzzle Back, #128 Jake Muzzin Puzzle Back

O-Pee-Chee - #49 Adrian Kempe, #243 Tanner Pearson, #259 Derek Forbort, #290 Jeff Carter, #364 Kyle Clifford, #304 Christian Folin Silver Border

Minnesota Wild (13 cards) $2.60:

MVP - #18 Mikael Granlund, #46 Jason Zucker, #80 Eric Staal, #103 Ryan Suter (2), #199 Devan Dubnyk (2)

O-Pee-Chee - #21 Devan Dubnyk, #87 Jason Zucker, #179 Matt Dumba, #297 Nino Niederreiter, #539 Louis Belpedio RC Short print, #515 Retro Jordan Greenway RC Short print

Montreal Canadiens (14 cards) $2.80:

MVP - #19 Max Pacioretty, #99 Jonathan Drouin (2), #126 Andrew Shaw, #171 Shea Weber (2), #187 Brendan Gallagher

O-Pee-Chee - #54 Jeff Petry, #86 Phillip Danault, #108 Artturi Lehkonen, #370 Alex Galchenyuk, #558 Carey Price Season Highlights Short Print, #499 Retro Brendan Gallagher, #303 Andrew Shaw Silver Border

Nashville Predators (21 cards) $4.20:

MVP - #20 P.K. Subban (2), #48 Filip Forsberg, #77 Viktor Arvidsson, ##114 Ryan Johansen (2), #129 Roman Josi, #161 Pekka Rinne, #178 Kyle Turris (2), #195 Ryan Hartman (2), #241 Eeli Tolvanen RC Short print, #129 Roman Josi Puzzle Back, #195 Ryan Hartman Silver Signature

O-Pee-Chee - #51 Austin Watson, #162 Juuse Saros, #280 Pekka Rinne, #357 Colton Sissons, #419 Ryan Hartman, #117 Retro Filip Forsberg

New Jersey Devils (19 cards) $3.80:

MVP - #22 Nico Hischier, #50 Taylor Hall, #89 Corey Schneider (2), #120 Kyle Palmieri (2), #175 Jesper Bratt

O-Pee-Chee - #24 Nico Hischier, #60 Kyle Palmieri, #98 Jesper Bratt, #135 Taylor Hall, #174 Will Butcher, #262 Sami Vatanen, #329 Stefan Noesen, #380 Marcus Johansson, #421 Keith Kinkaid, #466 Patrick Maroon #466 Retro Patrick Maroon, #431 Blake Coleman Silver Border

New York Islanders (13 cards) $2.60:

MVP - #1 John Tavares, #56 Josh Bailey (2), #91 Anders Lee (2), #138 Jordan Eberle (2), #172 Nick Leddy (2), #221 Michael Dal Colle Silver Signature RC Short print

O-Pee-Chee - #360 John Tavares, #443 Jaroslav Halak, #516 Michael Dal Colle RC Short print

New York Rangers (16 cards) $3.20:

MVP - #28 Mats Zuccarello (2), #60 Kevin Shattenkirk (2), #72 Mika Zibanejad, #106 Kevin Hayes, #133 Ryan Spooner (2), #140 Chris Kreider (2), #246 Lias Anderson RC Short print

O-Pee-Chee - #29 Mats Zuccarello, #337 Kevin Shattenkirk, #423 Brady Skjei, #446 Marc Staal, #129 Retro Ryan Spooner

Ottawa Senators (14 cards) $2.80:

MVP - #23 Mark Stone (2), #51 Mike Hoffman (2), #115 Matt Duchene, #179 Bobby Ryan, #212 Erik Karlsson (2)

O-Pee-Chee - #28 Mark Stone, #95 Matt Duchene, #171 Bobby Ryan, #232 Jean-Gabriel Pageau, #345 Cody Ceci, #346 Retro Thomas Chabot

Philadelphia Flyers (15 cards) $3.00:

MVP - #6 Sean Couturier, #41 Shayne Gostisbehere (2), #88 Jakub Voracek (2), #113 Wayne Simmonds (2), #139 Claude Giroux (2), #196 Nolan Patrick (2), #113 Wayne Simmonds Silver Signature, #26 Wayne Simmonds 20th Anniversary Silver Signature

O-Pee-Chee - #544 Tyrell Goulbourne RC Short print, #544 Retro Tyrell Goulbourne RC Short print

Pittsburgh Penguins (20 cards) $4.00:

MVP - #57 Kris Letang, #86 Derick Brassard, #111 Phil Kessel (2), #150 Matt Murray, #155 Conor Sheary, #176 Carl Hagelin (2), #236 Zach Aston-Reese RC Short print

O-Pee-Chee - #5 Sidney Crosby, #45 Matt Murray, #84 Derick Brassard, #128 Tristan Jarry, #220 Jake Guentzel (2), #258 Bryan Rust, #333 Olli Maatta, #361 Conor Sheary, #483 Tom Kuhnhackl, #128 Retro Tristan Jarry

San Jose Sharks (14 Cards) $2.80:

MVP - #24 Joe Pavelski, #32 Evander Kane (2), #53 Logan Couture, #94 Tomas Hertl (2), #105 Joe Thornton, #156 Martin Jones, #177 Mikkel Boedker (2)

O-Pee-Chee - #68 Brent Burns, #263 Mikkel Boedker, #585 Team Checklist Short print, #165 Kevin Labanc Silver Border

St. Louis Blues (15 cards) $3.00:

MVP - #27 Brayden Schenn (2), #59 Jaden Schwartz (2), #102 Alex Pietrangelo (2), #142 Alexander Steen, #158 Colton Parayko, #167 Jake Allen (2)

O-Pee-Chee - #30 Vladimir Tarasenko, #331 Vince Dunn, #427 Ivan Barbashev, #462 Carter Hutten, #331 Retro Vince Dunn

Tampa Bay Lightning

These cards are mine ALL MINE!!!!!

Toronto Maple Leafs (24 cards) $5.00:


Vancouver Canucks (15 cards) $3.00:

MVP - #30 Daniel Sedin, #70 Henrik Sedin, #122 Bo Horvat (2), #170 Loui Eriksson, #70 Henrik Sedin Puzzle Back

O-Pee-Chee - #37 Brendan Leipsec, #69 Jacob Markstrom, #177 Brandon Sutter, #237 Derrick Pouliot, #272 Michael Del Zotto, #452 Sven Baertschi, #469 Bo Horvat, #470 Henrik Sedin, #470 Retro Henrik Sedin

Vegas Golden Knights (24 cards) $5.00:

MVP - #42 Jonathan Marchessault (2), #73 Alex Tuch (2), #84 David Perron (2), #132 Cody Eakin, #153 William Karlsson, #198 Erik Haula (2), #245 Tomas Hyka Silver Signature RC Short hand

O-Pee-Chee - #7 Marc-Andre Fleury, #94 William Karlsson, #164 Erik Haula, #199 James Neal, #255 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, #291 Nate Schmidt, #372 Deryk Engelland, #537 Tomas Hyka RC Shorthand, #132 Retro Reilly Smith, #255 Retro Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, #291 Retro Nate Schmidt, #319 Retro Alex Tuch, M-37 James Neal Mini

Washington Capitals (16 cards) $3.20:

MVP - #9 Evgeny Kuznetsov, #36 John Carlson, #98 Tom Wilson, #145 Braden Holtby, #186 Nicklas Backstrom, #210 Alex Ovechkin Short print (2)

O-Pee-Chee - #57 John Carlson, #201 Alex Ovechkin, #246 Dmitry Orlov, #288 Matt Niskanen, #359 Brett Connolly, #397 Jay Beagle, #424 Retro Phillip Grubauer, #492 Retro Alex Chiasson

Winnipeg Jets (15 cards) $3.00:

MVP - #31 Patrik Laine, #65 Blake Wheeler, #127 Nikolaj Ehlers, #152 Dustin Byfuglien (2), #162 Connor Hellebuyck (2)

O-Pee-Chee - #9 Patrik Laine, #99 Connor Hellebuyck, #150 Mark Scheifele, #244 Dustin Byfuglien, #366 Josh Morrissey, #578 Team Checklist Short print, #594 Connor Hellebuyck League Leaders Short print, #M-22 Nikolaj Ehlers Mini

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Orioles Victory Card Number 47

Orioles Victor Number 47: 4-0 over the Houston Astros

2018 Topps Caleb Joseph

The Orioles finished their season like they began their season - with a victory. Unfortunately, the wins were few and far between during their other 160 games this season. Three pitchers combined to limit the defending world champions to just one hit and a 4-run, 4th inning provided the offense needed to send Orioles fans into the offseason with a glimmer of hope.

It was a season of chaos for the Orioles and their fans. A makeshift line-up and last-minute rotation led to a slow start. Injuries came and went. By June it was obvious that the season was over. By July the team was dismantled with every possible positive asset moved for prospects or international bonus money. By August and September the seats at Camden Yards were half-full and the team on the field had a barely competitive mix of journeymen and prospects.

The only constant through the season was the losses. Nineteen losses in April and May, twenty losses in June, August and September. July was their best month as they sported a record of 9-16 (thank you All Star Break), but it was also the month that saw Manny Machado, Brad Brach, Kevin Gausman, Darren O'Day and Jonathan Schoop decamp for other teams.

Adam Jones didn't leave, at least not on that hot summer day in July. He chose to stick around for a few more months, endearing himself even more to the Baltimore faithful. On Sunday, however, there was a feeling of good-bye for the long time centerfielder. Before the game, a live video popped up on his Instagram account showing him walking around the stadium handing out signed baseballs and his extra bats.

The game began and he took the field, alone, sprinting to second base before realizing his teammates had stayed behind. Both dugouts and all of the fans in attendance applauded him as if it would be his last game ever. Each at bat for Jones was marked by even more applause as the fans tried their best to thank him his years of service on the field and in the community. While there is a chance he re-signs in Baltimore it currently felt like his time in Charm City had come to an end.

That's what this season was - an ending. A finale to the recent run of success from 2012 to 2016 that saw them win an average of 89 games a season and make the playoffs in three of those years including a trip to the ALCS in 2014. It was end to the Orioles career of their most talented player this century in Machado and now the end of their linear face of the franchise in Jones.

It is most likely the end of Buck Showalter's time in Baltimore as well. Managers rarely survive 115 loss seasons and it probably isn't fair to keep him around for the current rebuild. Showalter has success with veteran players, not rookies trying to learn how to play at the major league level. Better to not re-sign him and give him a chance to latch onto a job in Anaheim or a reunion in Texas.

As for Dan Duquette...well he started this rebuild, might as well keep him around to continue it if he wants to stay in Baltimore. Just make sure that they work out a proper chain of command over the winter so that eveyone is sure of their roles within the organization.

Hopefully, this is the low point for the organization. While next year may not be much better, it isn't likely to be worse. Heck, even a 100-loss season would be a fifteen game improvement which isn't too shabby. Those fifteen wins or more could come from veterans like Chris Davis or Dylan Bundy bouncing back to mediocre seasons, god knows how many wins the Os could pick up if they decided to have good seasons.

So, forget about this season. Move on and dream of better days.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Orioles Victory Card Number 46

Orioles Victory Number 46: 10-3 over the Boston Red Sox

2013 Topps Adam Jones Commemorative Patch Manufactured Relic

Well, that was a tale of two games wasn't it? In the first game of their day/night doubleheader the Orioles were waylaid by the Red Sox 19-3. Starting the day with a depleted pitching staff, it only got worse when Ryan Meisinger couldn't work his way out of the first inning, giving up five runs on four hits and a walk.

A cavalcade of ineffective relievers (with Donnie Hart being the lone exception) followed until the early game was capped off with position player Jace Peterson mopping up. He picked up a strikeout (a new career low for Christian Vazquez) before surrendering four runs.

So there was most likely a little trepidation as the team took back to the field later in the day to face a Red Sox team that had racked up 19 runs and beaten them sixteen times this season already. Oh, and potential Cy Young winner Chris Sale was on the mound as well.

Yet, this makeshift line-up somehow perserveared. A couple of hit batters and a timely Trey Mancini triple opened up the scoring in the first inning. Then, despite having the Red Sox come back twice to tie the the game early on, the Orioles found some way to keep scoring and, more importantly, prevent Boston from adding runs.

Jimmy Yacobonis maintained the damage for the first three-plus innings while left-handers Tanner Scott and Paul Fry worked the back half of the game with Fry picking up an old-fashioned three-inning save.

Wiley veterans Adam Jones and Mancini were the offensive stars as they went a combined 5-for-7 with 3 runs scored and 4 driven in. Just about everyone in the line-up contributed a few hits or runs scored in what was truly a team effort.

Even when it doesn't mean anything (other than a blow to Sale's Cy Young effort) it's always nice to beat the Red Sox. Now the Orioles limp home to finish their season against the Houston Astros for a four game set against the AL West leading club.

Much like the series against the Red Sox, these games mean nothing in the standings as Houston has wrapped up it's division title and is ensconced as the number two seed in the AL. The Orioles have locked in the worst record in the league and, at this point, probably just want the season to end. Really, the only drama that remains is if Chris Davis will get any at bats (and how will he be treated by the fans) and what kind of send off Adam Jones receives if this indeed his last home stand with the ball club.

Hopefully, Jones will hit at least one more home run in front of the fans so that he can trot around the bases and tap the Orioles patch on his sleeve one more time. Heck, even if he doesn't hit one out, it would be nice if he took one more lap around the bases after the game on Sunday.

Soon this season will mercifully be at an end and the real work in rebuilding the reputation of this ball club can begin. There is no doubt that at some point, maybe not soon, the Orioles will return to the top of the standings, but on a cool, cloudy afternoon in Boston, with them trailing by more than two touchdowns, that point seems a long, long way off.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Orioles Victory Card Number 45

Orioles Victory Number 45: 6-3 over the New York Yankees

1985 Topps Traded Earl Weaver

The Orioles avoided yet another series sweep by winning on Sunday in New York. They inadvertently mimicked the Tampa Bay Rays "opener" strategy as Alex Cobb lasted all of four pitches. Luckily none of those pitches were tagged for home runs and the O's were able to overcome an early deficit on the back of two home runs from Tim Beckham and a couple of RBIs from the suddenly scorching hot DJ Stewart.

The win leads them into their final week of the season where they face the Red Sox for three games in Fenway before returning home to finish the season with four against the Houston Astros. Nothing like ending the season against the best team in baseball (Boston) and a team that should have a 100 wins by the time their jet touches down at BWI (Houston has 98 going into their series with Toronto). So that means there is a chance that the Orioles won't win another game this season.

Their season record against Boston is 2-14 and they were swept in Houston way back in April.  Should they fail to win a game in the upcoming week that will leave Buck Showalter with a record of 667-686 during his tenure as skipper in Baltimore. That's good enough for second in career wins as an Orioles manager as well as second for losses. He trails the man above, Earl Weaver, in both categories.  The diminutive Hall of Fame manager ended his career in Baltimore with a record of 1480-1060, a record which most likely will never be matched.

Speaking of endings, it sounds like Showalter's time in Baltimore is approaching it's end as well. USA Today's Bob Nightengale tweeted that Buck is "expected to be dismissed" when the season is over while Jon Heyman reported that the long-tenured manager is "very likely to be replaced" at season's end. Both reporters have been wrong in their predictions in their past about a great many things, but it's not going out on a limb suggesting that the manager of a club that has lost 110+ games is going to be let go, especially when the end of their contract coincides with the dismal season.

Of course, for Showalter's contract not to be renewed someone has to be in charge. And based on an article (paywall) by The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal from earlier this month - it's not quite certain who is running the ship these days:

"But the league, which has not heard from [current owner] Peter Angelos in the current calendar year, wants the Orioles to appoint a new control person by November or December, sources say. At the moment, even the extent of the son's authority is unclear, according to some in the organization."

Reports indicate that John and Louis, the aforementioned sons, are running the team due to their father's declining health. Former Oriole legend Brady Anderson, nominally the VP of Baseball Operations, has the ear of the younger Angelos' and may be encroaching on Dan Duquette's territory.  The same reports that herald Showalter's departure claim that Duquette should be retained. If he is, there has to be a clear delineation of duties between him and Anderson so that they hire the correct replacement for Showalter and engineer the rebuild correctly.

As for Showalter, he will leave Baltimore with a pretty good legacy despite the atrocious last season. He took over in 2010 and finished the season 34-23 (impressive for a club that finished with 96 losses). After another 90+ loss season in 2011, the Orioles took off finishing with .500 or better records in five consecutive seasons, peaking in 2014 with 96 wins and a spot in the American League Championship Series.

They would make it back to the playoffs again in 2016, losing in the AL Wildcard game when Showalter infamously left Zach Britton (who had given up 4 earned runs ALL YEAR LONG) in the bullpen and brought Ubaldo Jimenez (who was not having a great year) into a tie game in extra innings. That did not end well:

Since that moment, the Orioles magic seemed to wane. Despite being in contention for most of 2017, an ugly September sent them spiraling down the standings. The team that had outperformed it's underlying numbers could no longer slug their way past a bad rotation. The defense suffered as did their bullpen - the two hallmarks that allowed them to compete with the Red Sox and Yankees - and by 2018 the team was an embarrassment.

Has the game passed Showalter by? No, but that doesn't mean it isn't time for a new voice in the clubhouse. For whatever reason, the Orioles aren't responding to his leadership. Also, is he the right voice for a rebuilding team? He's managed for 20 years and has 1549 career wins. Three times he's been named manager of the year. Is it fair to him to have to watch 22-year-olds flail away as they learn to win at the major league level for the next two seasons? Probably not.

The competition to be the next Orioles manager will be wide open. Will they promote from within? The young players coming through the organization might be more familiar with the coaches from down in the farm system. Or do they go with an experienced bench coach that's ready to make the next step? That will be the biggest question for the brain trust on Eutaw Street to answer this winter and the biggest step towards building the next great Orioles team. Hopefully they get it right.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Orioles Victory Card Number 44

Orioles Victory Number 44: 2-1 over the Toronto Blue Jays

1990 Donruss Ben McDonald

Despite avoiding a sweep at the hands of the Blue Jays, the Orioles appear to have the overall number one pick in next year's draft. The Royals (who were swept by Pittsburgh) are eight games "back" of Baltimore in the race to the bottom of the standings. One of the key factors in the Orioles victory was D.J. Stewart. The 25th pick in 2015 launched a towering home run and scored the winning run after doubling in the 7th inning.

Stewart had struggled in the early going of his MLB career as he failed to record a hit in his first 15 plate appearances. In his last two games, however, he is 3-for-5 with 3 runs scored. So, perhaps he is starting to adjust to his somewhat surprising big league call up.

Speaking of surprising, Stewart is the first non-top-five draft pick (not counting supplemental picks) drafted by the Orioles to make his debut for them since Brandon Snyder (drafted 13th in 2005) had a cup of coffee with the club in 2010 and 2011. Granted, the Orioles were drafting in the top 10 most of the years that followed so Stewart didn't have much competition.

Barring a late-season run, the Orioles will be drafting number one overall in 2019. As of right now, the consensus pick would be Bobby Witt, Jr., a five-tool shortstop playing high-school ball in Texas. Yes he is the son of former 142 game winner Bobby Witt. Entering his senior season at Colleyville Heritage, Witt Jr. could be the centerpiece of the next great Orioles team as a rangy shortstop who can win the game with his glove and his bat.

Of course, a lot can change over the next nine months. Witt Jr could struggle and fall back into the pack of other top shortstop prospects like CJ Adams or Greg Jones. The Orioles could decide they want a franchise catcher and go with Adley Rutschman from Oregon State. Or maybe they go the pitching route and are intrigued by Daniel Espino and his 99 MPH heater. While Witt Jr. might be the front runner, he's not head and shoulders above the competition.

The same can't be said for the player the Orioles selected the last (and only) time they had the first overall pick. When they finished with the worst record in the major leagues in 1988, there was no doubt who they were going to draft the next summer.

Ben McDonald literally towered over the competition. At 6'7" the lanky pitcher from LSU was the undisputed best amateur player in baseball. He struck out 373 batters in a whopping 307 innings during his three seasons in Baton Rogue while also starring for the US Olympic team in the Seoul Olympics in 1988.

Also, it wasn't like there was a lot of competition in the 1989 draft. Names like Tyler Houston (#2 Atlanta), Jeff Jackson (#4 Philadelphia) and Earl Cunningham (#8 Chicago Cubs) are familiar to only those who bet heavily on their rookie cards. Even in hindsight, the only real competition McDonald has was Frank Thomas, who was drafted 10th by the White Sox.

So there was no doubt the Orioles were going to draft a pitcher with a mid-90s fastball and a hammer curve. The problems began when they tried to sign him. McDonald and his father Larry were determined that the hard-throwing right-hander be paid what they thought he was worth, after all he was the highest-rated player by the Major League Scouting Bureau. Bo Jackson had signed a few years earlier for over a million dollars and that's what the McDonalds (advised by a young Scott Boras) were looking for.

The Orioles disagreed. Believing that Jackson's case was special (Kansas City had to woo him away from the NFL and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who had selected him in the NFL draft) they offered a mere $255,000 as a take-it-or-leave-it offer.

Negotiations dragged on. McDonald contemplated returning to LSU for his senior season (the reason Boras was an "adviser" instead of his actual agent was to allow McDonald to keep his amateur status. Another option was an alternative professional league that was rumored to begin play in 1990. Focused on 16 cities that didn't have major league teams, would be financed by a group of millionaires that included our current president.

Much like the USFL had lured some of college football players best prospects away from the NFL by offering them a lot of money, they offered Ben McDonald $2 million to join their league. He declined (rightly so as the league quickly fell apart). Shortly after the meetings in Trump Tower the Orioles and the McDonalds came to an agreement on a three-year $950,000 deal.

McDonald debuted later that summer and went on to have a mediocre career that was derailed by injuries. He finished with a 58-53 record with the Orioles before leaving as a free agent in 1996. He lasted just two seasons with the Brewers before retiring. He is now part of the Orioles broadcast crew and a cautionary tale for number one draft picks.

Being drafted first is no sure fire sign of future success. While Witt, Jr. has all of the tools to be an important part of the Orioles future nothing is guaranteed. There are a lot more Ben McDonald's than Ken Griffey Jr's in the history of overall number one picks.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Orioles Victory Card Number 43

Orioles Victory Number 43: 8-4 over the Chicago White Sox

1973 Topps Paul Blair

In an entertaining game that featured not one, but two home runs that landed on Eutaw Street, the Orioles staved off tying the their franchise record for losses in a season. The 8-4 victory over fellow hapless team Chicago White Sox kept the Birds at 106 losses.  If they can win their next 13 games they will avoid sharing history with the 1988 squad that finished 54-107.

If that's not bad enough the loss coupled with the Red Sox victory left the Orioles 59.5 games out of first place and 24 games behind the Blue Jays for fourth place in the division.  The good news is that they start a three-game series with the Blue Jays on Monday night so they have a chance to cut into that deficit.

As for the 59.5 game hole they've dug themselves into.  Well, they have a chance for history. Since the Orioles entered in the league in 1954 only two teams have finished 60 games behind the league leader. The first came in 1954 when the Philadelphia Athletics lost 103 games and finished 60 games behind the Cleveland Indians.

The other team to finish over 60 games out was the 1962 New York Mets, an expansion team that bungled their way to 120 losses. The San Francisco Giants finished with 103 wins to pace the Mets by 60.5 games.

Even missing out by 50 games is hard in the major leagues. The only two teams since 1954 to finish 50 or more games behind the pennant winner was the 1998 Tampa Bay Devil Rays (an another inaugural season) who lost 99 games while the Yankees won 114. In 1979 the Blue Jays lost 109 games and finished 50.5 games behind the Orioles (ah the good old days).

The O's win on Sunday also prevented them from tying the 1962 Mets record of 120 losses. The most Baltimore can finish with this season is 119 losses which would tie them with the 2003 Detroit Tigers (who finished "only" 47 games behind the Twins) for the second most losses. So, yeah, they got that going for them.

They also have Cedric Mullins going for them. The rookie had four hits on Sunday, propping his batting average back up to .276 and his on-base percentage to .354.  After a bit of a slump, the Orioles minor league player of the year appears to be finding his stroke again. He also had a nice play in centerfield to rob Wellington Castillo of a double.

After starting the month in 4-for-37 slump (.108) he has strung together a 4-game hitting streak that raised his average 20 points. The four hits he put together on Sunday weren't spectacular, but they were effective as he doubled in the left-field gap, smashed one off of the second baseman, got a generous call on a pop-up that shortstop Jose Rondon missed, and then slashed a ground ball past the drawn-in infield on the left side.  If he keeps spraying the ball around the field he is going to be a tough out at the top of the line-up for many years to come.

It'll be interesting to see if the Orioles keep playing him. He's rapidly approaching the 130 at-bats limit that would disqualify him as a rookie next season. Would they rest him down the stretch to give him  shot at being rookie of the year next year? At a 141 games combined between the majors and minors, he's also appeared in the most games in his career. That's a lot of baseball for a kid who started in AA this spring. He's also battled some leg issues over the last month or so, so keeping an eye on his playing time might be beneficial.

If he continues to improve, he could join Adam Jones, Brady Anderson, Mike Devereaux and the man pictured above, Paul Blair, as an iconic centerfielder for the Baltimore Orioles. Not a bad lineage to continue. Oh, and to tie the Orioles to that 1962 Mets team, Blair was originally signed by the Mets in 1961 as an amateur free agent. The following off-season the Orioles selected him in the first-year draft, an offshoot of the Rule V process, for $8,000.  Blair would join the team full-time in 1965 and become a linchpin for the Orioles dynasty of the 60s and 70s.  Not bad for a 13th round pick.