-O’s prospect Brian Matusz
From Sen. Ben Cardin’s loyalty to the Orioles to Brian Matusz’s take on playing baseball for a living, here’s a rundown of some recent odds and ends from the Orioles universe:
Cardin Knows Baseball, Congressional Quarterly Does Not
Sen. Ben Cardin obviously doesn’t believe in the saying “Don’t mix business with pleasure.” (There’s a joke about Congress in there – many in fact – but I’ll leave those to your imagination.) In Cardin’s case, Orioles baseball is what pleases him.
Twenty years ago, then-Rep. Cardin introduced a Congressional Resolution celebrating the Birds’ Opening Day victory over the Yankees. The resolution read as follows: “The Sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and the birds are singing. Of course, I am talking about the birds of Baltimore. The Baltimore Orioles are back where they belong, in first place in the American League East.”
CARDIN: I just want you to know that the baseball fans of Baltimore knew there was a judge somewhere that changed in a very favorable way the reputation of Baltimore forever. You are a hero, and they now know it’s Judge Sotomayor. You’re a hero to the Baltimore baseball fans. Let me explain.
The Major League Baseball strike — you allowed the season to continue so Cal Ripkin could become the iron man of baseball in September 1995.
So we just want to invite you, as a baseball fan, we want to invite you to an Oriole game, and we promise it will not be when the Yankees are playing so you can root for the Baltimore Orioles.
SONIA SOTOMAYOR: That’s a great invitation. And good morning, Senator. You can assure your Baltimore fans that I have been to Camden Yards. It’s a beautiful stadium.
CARDIN: Well, we think it’s the best. Of course, it was the beginning of the new trends of the baseball stadiums. And you’re certainly welcome.
It would appear, however, that the folks at Congressional Quarterly are not as big of baseball fans as is Cardin. If they were, they wouldn’t have misspelled Cal Ripken’s last name – “Ripkin” – in the transcript.
Matusz Happy to Be Playing Baseball, Happy to Be an Oriole
The O’s prospect I’m most looking forward to seeing in big league Orange and Black, Brian Matusz, sat down for an interview with Baseball Daily Digest.
“Once you get to college, a 90 mile per hour fastball is pretty common,” he said. “So, a change up was one of the best things I could have learned during my freshman year. It felt natural, but I worked on it a lot with our pitching coach Eric Valenzuela. I felt like I could keep my arm speed consistent with my fastball and it ended up being very good in my sophomore and junior years.
“The slider was a pitch I worked on my sophomore year, right before the season. I tried to learn a cutter. I just messed around with it and it turned into a slider. It’s a different angle and look than the curveball. And when you have two breaking pitches to keep batters guessing, you’re in pretty good shape.”
By his junior year at University of San Diego, Matusz was a first team All-American and, according to the 2009 Baseball America Prospect Handbook, few pitchers entering professional baseball have had better secondary pitches. So when Baltimore selected Matusz with the fourth-overall pick of the baseball amateur draft, he was widely considered the best pitcher available.
“I put myself in a situation to get drafted high and now I’m with the Orioles,” Matusz said. “And I couldn’t be any luckier. This is a great place to be and I’m enjoying every day of it.”
Matusz is one of several promising young pitchers who will be vying for a spot in the Orioles rotation in the coming years. Still, the lanky prospect knows his performance is all he can control and consistency will get him to the major leagues.
“It’s just a matter of maintaining,” Matusz said. “The whole point of this first year is to get that five-day rotation and go deep into the year. I’m locked in right now. It’s just a matter of time and getting my innings in.
“Getting to play baseball for a living is the best thing in the world. I talk to other people and if they’re lucky they’re going to work to sit at a desk. My job is throwing a baseball and having fun playing a game that I loved since I was a little kid. It’s an unbelievable opportunity. I think about it everyday.”
Mazzone Unlikely to Return to Beltway Baseball Scene
There are denials, and then there’s a Stan Kasten denial. Said Kasten about the prospects of Leo Mazzone coming to the Natinals (sic): “There is not a scintilla of truth to this story.”
According to an industry source familiar with the talks, the Nationals have discussed their pitching coach job with Mazzone, whom Kasten knows from their days together with the Atlanta Braves.
Although current Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty does not have the “interim” label attached to his title – as interim general manager Mike Rizzo and interim manager Jim Riggleman do – the Nationals have not committed to McCatty in that role beyond this season. McCatty was promoted from Class AAA Syracuse to replace the fired Randy St. Claire on June 2.
Ichiro Pays Respects to Sisler
Miguel Tejada holds the Orioles’ team record for hits in a season with 214 in 2006. While George Sisler’s former major league record for hits in a season – 257 in 1920 – doesn’t qualify for the team’s record book, his career stats with the St. Louis Browns are included among the O’s all-time leaders. For example, Sisler has the most career triples (145), second-highest career batting average (.344), third-most hits (2,295), third-most runs (1,091), and fourth-most doubles (343).
The Hall of Famer is buried in St. Louis, where Ichiro, who broke Sisler’s single season hits record, visited his grave during All Star Weekend.
Ichiro, accompanied by his wife, Yumiko, and some friends, laid flowers at Sisler’s grave, at Des Peres Presbyterian Church Cemetery. Sisler, a Hall of Famer, died on March 26, 1973. His career was marked by a lifetime .340 batting average, and a .407 average in 1920. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1939.
“There’s not many chances to come to St. Louis,” Ichiro said, according to the Seattle Times. “In 2004, it was the first time I crossed paths with him, and his family generously came all the way to Seattle.”