Rookie of the Year in Minnesota, burnt to a crisp in Baltimore

With the Birds headed out to Minnesota for a four-game set at Target Field, I got to thinking about former Orioles who also played for the Twins. Some kind of "Best Of" list featuring Scott Erickson seemed in order until I remembered the name Marty Cordova.

And that my friends is how this post came to be about one player.

Cordova smacked 18 home runs in 131 games for the 2002 Orioles. He was essentially a lesser version of Kevin Millar for the Birds. Both were players with a little pop, acquired by the O's on the downside of their careers, who made themselves memorable in Baltimore as much for what they did off the field as what they did on it.

Here's a comparison of Cordova and Millar at the plate during their respective first seasons in Baltimore:

Cordova (2002): 131 games, .253 average, 18 HR, 64 RBI, .325 OBP, .759 OPS.

Millar (2006): 132 games, .272 average, 15 HR, 64 RBI, .374 OBP, .811 OPS.

We remember Millar for things like Orioles Magic 2008 and that dousing he received during a post-game interview with Amber Theoharis following his Aug. 12, 2007 walk-off against the Red Sox.

As for Cordova, well, I'm surprised it's taken me this long to mention tanning beds.

Cordova was listed as day-to-day in May 2002 after falling asleep and burning his face in a tanning bed. (Jim Rome had a field day.)

Cordova's career started with such promise but was sidetracked by back injuries presumably unrelated to tanning beds.

Cordova earned Rookie of the Year honors with the Twins in 1995 ahead of Garrett Anderson, Andy Pettitte, Troy Percival, and Shawn Green, after posting what turned out to be a career-high 24 home runs.

He hit 20 home runs just one other time, with the 2001 Indians. That season, he rode a 22-game hitting streak (second longest in the American League in '01) to a .301 average, and the Orioles signed him to a three-year, $9.1 million deal  to replace Brady Anderson.

Among his reasons for signing with the Birds was this: "Cordova, 32, said he wanted to be with a team that has a chance to win."

The 2002 Orioles lost 95 games. It was Cordova's last season as a regular in Baltimore. Same goes for Erickson, who finished 5-12

Thanks, Minnesota.

(To be fair, Erickson was a key part of the Birds' Wire-to-Wire run in 1997 with 16 wins and a 3.69 ERA. It was one of three seasons in Baltimore that he posted 15 or more wins. The most recent Oriole to win 15 games was Erik Bedard in 2006. So, yeah, I'd gladly have someone with Erickson's innings-eating, 15-game-winning ability back in Birdland, minus the injuries and crippling long-term deal of course.)

These days Marty Cordova is spending much of his time around the Octagon. He's friends with UFC President Dana White and part owner of Skeletal Metal, creator of "surgical steel jewelry." Here are some YouTube clips: UFC interviewSkeletal Metal feature.

Perhaps Gary Thorne will sport some Skeletal Metal on the MASN broadcast this weekend. Or maybe the Birds can make it a promotional giveaway when the Twins visit Baltimore in July. Marty Cordova Night at Camden Yards, anyone?

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