The Orioles will have three starters -- Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones -- in the 2013 All-Star Game in New York. No other team in the AL has more than one this year, which makes it pretty special for Baltimore. It hasn't always been this way. Before last year's breakout season, the Orioles hadn't had more than one All-Star -- in many cases a token bench player or reliever -- since 2005. And 2012 and 2013 mark the first consecutive years with multiple All-Stars since 1999 and 2000. Looking over the all-time list of Orioles all-stars (which actually has some inaccuracies in earlier years, according to MLB and Baseball Reference, but is a quick Orioles-centric list nonetheless) provides some moments of pride and some moments of cringing. Let's take a closer look at some of those.
The Orioles had an absolute powerhouse run in the All-Star game from 1969-1972, with six or seven All-Stars and two or more starters each year. Looking at some of the names in that span -- Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Boog Powell -- tells you why. These were some of the golden years of the Orioles franchise. They were not, unfortunately, golden years for the AL in the midsummer classic, in the midst of a 20-year stretch where the AL won only once. But that one time -- 1971 -- saw Frank Robinson win the All-Star MVP award, belting an early two-run blast as part of a home run onslaught that also included Reggie Jackson and Harmon Killebrew.
Cal Ripken Jr. made every single All-Star team from 1983 to 2001. If Orioles fans complain now about aging stars getting into the game on name recognition alone, we should probably accept a bit of historical karma. From 1992 onward, Ripken only put up an OPS+ above 100 three times, and really only his resurgent 1999 season was anywhere near All-Star caliber. But let's not dwell on all that. Let's dwell on the truly deserved perennial All-Star status that Ripken enjoyed for the first decade of his career. Since Ripken's run ended, the longest run by an Orioles is Miguel Tejada's three appearances from 2004-06, only one of which was as a starter.
Orioles pitchers do not have a recent history of being picked to start the All-Star Game. From 1965 to 1980, three pitchers (Milt Pappas, Jim Palmer [x4!], and Steve Stone) were picked to start the midsummer classic six times. None have been selected since -- which really surprised me with some of the elite seasons Mike Mussina logged in the mid-1990s. But it didn't really surprise me for anybody since then.
In the recent past, the Orioles have suffered through some years where they were granted a token All-Star rep almost certainly for no reason other than the requirement that every team have an All-Star. You can usually pick these guys out because they either play multiple positions or provide a steady relief pitching option -- so names like Ty Wigginton (2010), George Sherril (2008) and Tony Batista (2002) jump right off the page in this regard.
A blip in the not-so-magnanimous All-Star representation of the 2000s was the Orioles star-crossed 2005 season. This was the year the Orioles entered the All-Star break at 47-40 (even though they would finish at just 74-88) -- but that shining first half netted All-Star appearances for Tejada, Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora and B.J. Ryan, with Roberts and Tejada given the starting nod. That All-Star Game's flash of orange was just one of many shining moments that made the utter collapse that followed so painful.
But 2005 is over and gone. The Orioles are building something more lasting now, and the number of solid hitters right in the thick of their prime years is reflected in the solid All-Star crop they've had for two years running now. The question marks dotting the starting rotation, unfortunately, are also reflected in the lack of orange in the All-Star pitching roster, but hey, no one can have it all. Orioles fans can certainly hope that this is the second year of another decent stretch of perennial Birdland representation at the midsummer classic.