Some random, O’s-related tidbits from the baseball weekend …
Those Aruban Knights
One of the biggest baseball stories from the weekend was the Netherlands’ 3-2 upset victory over the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Two former Orioles, Sidney Ponson and Eugene Kingsale, suited up for the underdog victors.
Kingsale made his professional debut on Sept. 3, 1996 as a defensive replacement in left field for B.J. Surhoff and in the process became the first Aruban-born player in the major leagues, edging out fellow Aruban Calvin Maduro, who played his first game for the Birds five days later. Maduro has remained in the O’s system; in 2008 he served as pitching coach for the Gulf Coast League Orioles.
Kingsale, Ponson, and Maduro are all knights in the Order of Orange-Nassau. Take that little tidbit with you to your next O’s trivia night.
When Dirt-Bag is a Compliment
Dave Trembley called Ty Wiggington a dirt-bagl; baseball fans know that’s actually a good thing.
Said Trembley: “Wigginton should have been playing in the ’50s. He’s a dirt-bag. He just wants to play, he competes, nothing’s ever been given to him. He’s just a baseball guy.”
As if We Needed Additional Reasons to Hate Teixera
Hate Mark Teixeira if you must (and as an O’s fan, you must), but I blame the parents. They should’ve known something was wrong with their five-year-old when he started rooting for Yankee players.
Some excerpts from a Q&A with the Star-Ledger:
You were an Orioles fan? How often did you get out to the park?
I tried to get out between five and 10 times a year depending on the year and how the O’s were doing and how much time I had. We went to plenty of games when I was a kid.
You’re a big Mattingly guy. Do you remember the first time you saw him play?
It was probably kind of a gradual thing. I had seen him play here and there at Oriole games. I’d watch highlights of games or whatever and then you start trading baseball cards, Mattingly cards. Then, all of a sudden, it just all clicked, like this is my guy. I was young. I was probably 5 or 6 years old, when Mattingly won his MVP, what in ’85? So I was 5 or 6 years old and once he won that MVP, he took off as my favorite player.
You played a lot of sports. Why did you pick baseball?
I was the best at baseball. I love playing basketball and I love soccer. Played tennis, dabble with golf on the side, but I wasn’t that good in those sports. I think I was naturally drawn to baseball because of my family, because of growing up going to O’s games. We didn’t have a football team in Baltimore when I was growing up. We didn’t have a basketball team in Baltimore. We didn’t have a hockey team. It was the Orioles. And I gravitated toward baseball.
Speaking of the Yankees
With A-Rod on the shelf and Cody Ransom being, well, Cody Ransom, Buster Olney tossed around some names on ESPN this morning that the Yankees could pursue. Oriole-turned-Astro David Newhan and current Oriole Chris Gomez made the list.
Huff-in’ and a Puffin’
These sorts of stories make Spring Training fun.
From Friday’s game against the Nats:
First baseman Aubrey Huff was asked before the game how he intended to approach his first at-bat against Cabrera, and his answer pretty much summed it up.
“I’ve told Daniel a thousand times: ‘If I ever face you, I’m just going to stand there. If you can throw three strikes, that’s great. Then, just for fun, I’m going to steal on the first pitch.'”
Huff made good on half his promise. He didn’t just stand there. He fouled off a few pitches before walking in the first inning. But he was true to his word and stole second base at the first opportunity, exposing Cabrera’s well-known inability to hold runners on base, even runners who aren’t normally considered a threat to steal.
“Yeah,” Cabrera said afterward, without a trace of disdain, “he got me today.
Had Aubrey Huff done this during the regular season, he may have wound up with a baseball in his ear. I guess it depends on how one interprets the unformulated subsections of baseball’s unwritten rules (note the sarcasm – I’ve made my feelings known on baseball’s subjective etiquette).
For the record, Huff has 25 stolen bases in nine major-league seasons.