The boredom and mind-numbing, stay-at-home routine during the pandemic has led to some interesting and amusing entertainment ideas on Twitter, a place that often should be shut down or rationed in visits to avoid breathing in the pollution.
The idea of wearing a mask should have started there.
A recent thread was created with baseball players, famous for their years with a specific team, referred to in jest as another organization’s legend. Players that fans might have forgotten actually wore the uniform.
A popular example would be, “Orioles legend Vladimir Guerrero.” He spent only one season with the team and it was his last, when he appeared in 145 games in 2011 and batted .290/.317/.416 with 30 doubles, 13 home runs and 63 RBIs.
Another example is, “Orioles legend Joe Carter,” who made it through only a half-season in 1998, his last before retirement. The Orioles traded him to the Giants on July 23 for pitcher Darren “There Will Be” Blood.
Carter was pretty much done. The former Blue Jays and World Series hero batted .247/.297/.424 with 15 doubles, 11 home runs and 34 RBIs in 85 games.
I kept finding other examples while compiling a list in my head. Like former Red Sox outfielder Dwight Evans, an eight-time Gold Glove winner prior to his arrival.
His career also ended in Baltimore after he slashed .270/.393/.378 with nine doubles, six home runs and 38 RBIs in 101 games.
Sammy Sosa actually found work after playing for the Orioles in 2005 and batting .221/.295/.376 with 15 doubles, 14 home runs and 45 RBIs in 102 games. The former National League Most Valuable Player and seven-time All-Star with the Cubs turned down two minor league offers from the Nationals and sat out the 2006 season, but he accepted a similar deal with the Rangers in ‘07 and drove in 92 runs in 114 games.
We also could use Jim Thome, Tim Raines Sr., Harold Reynolds and Derrek Lee. Put Fernando Valenzuela in the rotation, Fred Lynn in center field and Ernie Whitt behind the plate.
It won’t shock you to learn that the Orioles also were Whitt’s last team in 1991 after 12 seasons in Toronto and one in Atlanta. He lasted 35 games before his July release.
Raines Sr. was acquired in October 2001 so he could play in the same outfield as his son, Tim Raines Jr. He appeared in four games and actually finished his career with the Marlins in 2002.
He’s got to be on their legends list.
I guess the Orioles were craving more national attention in ‘01 because they only had Cal Ripken Jr.’s retirement.
Ozzie Guillen was a Rookie of the Year and three-time All-Star during his 13 seasons with the White Sox. He lasted 12 games with the Orioles in 1998, collecting one hit in 16 at-bats.
I’m spinning the legends games to also include players who are curiosities because many fans probably forget they passed through Baltimore.
My mind keeps going back to shortstop Rick Burleson, who made three All-Star teams with the Red Sox and one with the Angels. He played on some great teams. He also played for the 1987 Orioles.
Get this: He retired after the season.
Burleson appeared in 62 games and batted .209/.279/.316. The Orioles released him in July.
Outfielder Juan Beníquez lasted 17 seasons in the majors, including 1986 with the Orioles. He slashed .300/.372/.397 in 113 games and was traded in December to the Royals for minor leaguers Jimmy Daniel and Joe Jarrell.
(I’d insert the shrug emoji here if I could.)
The Orioles began the 1983 season with longtime Tigers infielder Aurelio Rodríguez at third base. They won the World Series with Todd Cruz at third and Rodríguez with the White Sox after he was claimed off waivers in August.
It was Rodríguez’s final year in the majors.
The Orioles traded outfielder Phil Bradley to the White Sox for first baseman/designated hitter Ron Kittle in July 1990. Kittle was a total bust, slashing .164/.203/.295 in 22 games.
I also give you outfielder Keith Moreland. The Orioles wanted to give him back.
Moreland’s final season in the majors naturally came with the Orioles in 1989. Why not? The acquired him from the Tigers in July for pitcher Brian Dubois and he slashed .215/.243/.280 with one home run in 33 games.
Moreland announced his retirement - in September. He meant after the season, but he clearly did not want to keep playing and it created an awkward situation that led to a meeting with manager Frank Robinson and general manager Roland Hemond.
“If he wants to retire, retire now,” Robinson said. “If he’s not going to retire, he should be here keeping himself ready to go out and do whatever I ask.”
Moreland appeared in only nine games in September and the Orioles fell short in their bid for a division title.
I also give you outfielder Tommy Harper, who concluded a 15-year career by playing in 46 games with the Orioles in 1976.
Most fans know Mike Pagliarulo as the Yankees’ third baseman or the guy who should be taking your order behind the pizza counter. He spent 33 of his 1,246 career games with the Orioles in 1993.
Ray Knight won a ring and was named World Series MVP with the Mets after spending his first six seasons with the Reds and three more with the Astros. The Orioles signed him as a free agent in February 1987 - earning him the distinction of becoming the first player to join a new team the season after taking the award - and traded him to the Tigers in February 1988 for left-hander Mark Thurmond.
Knight slashed .256/.310/.373 in 150 games with the Orioles but also tied his career high with 14 home runs.
Jaret Wright forever will be known as the Indians rookie who started Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. I’ll remember him as the veteran who endured an incredibly long interview by a South Florida baseball writer at the pitcher’s spring training locker in Fort Lauderdale after the Orioles acquired him from the Yankees in November 2006 and, when told afterward by the local beat crew that we could come back another time with our own questions, smiled and replied, “Thanks. That one took a lot out of me.”
Wright had a bad shoulder and made only three starts - his last in the majors. But he had a great line that we won’t forget.
I also give you relievers Mike DeJean (37 games in 2004), Scott Williamson (16 games in 2007) and Paul Shuey (25 games in 2007). Williamson and Shuey ended their major league careers, of course, with the Orioles.
Shuey was forced to throw 68 pitches in a two-inning appearance in the opening game of an Aug. 22 doubleheader against the Rangers, the infamous 30-3 loss that came after the Orioles announced manager Dave Trembley’s contract extension. Shuey allowed nine runs, made one more appearance and went on the disabled list.
Pitcher Adam Eaton signed as a free agent on March 1, 2009 and was released on May 22 after posting an 8.56 ERA and 1.829 WHIP in eight starts. The Rockies signed him in June and his career was over after four relief appearances and an assignment at Triple-A Colorado Springs.
I’ll remember Eaton for reminding the beat writers that he helped the Phillies reach the playoffs in 2007 and 2008. However, and we knew this, he wasn’t included on the postseason roster in ‘07 and lost his rotation spot in 2008 and didn’t pitch for them after July 27, with the team telling him to go home in September.
Eaton received a World Series ring during a ceremony at Citizens Bank Park in April 2009 and the Phillies fans booed him.
One day I’ll also include outfielder Colby Rasmus on this list.