2007 Topps Generation Now Nick Markakis
Congratulations to David Hess for winning his big league debut. After surrendering a three-run home run in the first, the rookie settled down and pitched six innings (honestly he probably could have gone at least 7) to pick up the 6-3 win. Good for him.
Also, good for Nick Markakis. The longtime Oriole, now in his fourth season with the Braves, is having a bounce-back season for the surprising Atlanta ball club. He is hitting .340 with 7 home runs (he hit 8 in 160 games last season) and has a .420 on-base percentage.
Markakis was an Oriole for nine seasons and over 1300 games. Never a true power hitter he had 141 home runs, topping out at 23 in 2007. His flat swing was more conducive to gap-to-gap doubles and he was able to spray the ball all over the park when he was on.
I remember sitting at an old ballpark in 2006 in Jupiter Florida with my brother-in-law's dad watching some young, skinny kid launch line drives all over the park. It was quite invigorating at the time. The Orioles had not had a winning season since 1997 (a streak that would continue until 2012) and they weren't exactly churning out the prospects. The only position player that they had developed that had a regular spot in the line-up was Brian Roberts.
So to see this lanky outfielder with a smooth swing drill the ball all over the field with authority was refreshing. Here was a first round pick that was actually panning out, something that had not happened for the O's since...Jeffrey Hammonds? That was all the way back in 1992. The Orioles are seriously bad at first round draft picks.
He went on to be a hell of a player for some bad teams and was still producing when the Orioles started winning. For some reason his any power he did have all but abandoned him and he was a singles hitter getting paid $15 million a year. That was a bit too rich for Orioles management and they bought out his option sending him to free agency. He signed with Atlanta, closer to where he grew up and went to college and has been a veteran presence for a rebuilding squad.
As for the Generation Now card featured above - well that was an obscene waste of cardboard. For some reason at that time Topps and Upper Deck fell in love with bloated sets featuring the same card repeated time and time again based on some random stat. There were insert sets featuring Mickey Mantle home runs, Barry Bonds home runs and Joe DiMaggio hitting streaks.
There are 582 cards in this set. This insert set. An insert set spread over Series 1, 2 and update. For Markakis there are 10 cards featuring the 10 games he had 3 or more hits. If you are a Markakis collector that isn't too bad, but for other players there were upwards of 35 or 40 cards just in the set alone. Not exactly the easiest thing to get your hands on.