The World Series starts on Tuesday and, sadly, the Orioles will not be a part of it. However, if you are going to watch it, it may help your rooting interest if you learn a little about the connection between the Giants and the O's, because who the heck is rooting for those guys in blue?
You probably already know, but two former Birds gave the San Francisco Giants a big push into the Fall Classic. Michael Morse delivered a solo home run in the top of the 8th inning of Game Five to tie things up 3-3. Then, Travis Ishikawa smacked a line towards right field for a three-run shot to clinch the pennant for San Fran. Both Morse and Ishikawa were a part of the 2013 Orioles team that failed to make the playoffs.
Morse was acquired on Aug. 30 of last year in exchange for Xavier Avery. The 6-foot-5 Morse went on to play in 12 games for the Birds and slash .103/133/.103 without one home run, double or RBI. Of course, he was fantastic for the Giants in 2014, especially at the start of the season when he hit .302 in April with six home runs.
The O's brought in Ishikawa as a minor league free agent in December of 2012 to compete with Conor Jackson as a backup on the squad. He didn't make the Opening Day roster but would come up for a few weeks in June, going 2-for-17 at the plate. Meh.
These two were nothing special in Baltimore, but San Francisco has turned them around somehow. It makes one wonder, who else has donned both sets of orange and black? Maybe some names who were actually good with the O's.
It starts in the broadcast booth. Miller is the voice of the Giants on their flagship station, KNBR 680 AM in San Francisco. He has been there since 1997 while also working at ESPN for many of those years and doing some TV work for the Giants. He was lucky enough to call "the worst base running in the history of the game!" by Ruben Rivera as well as both of the home runs mentioned in the opening.
But he was also the guy who took over for Chuck Thompson on WFBR in the early '80s. His first season was 1983, the last time the Orioles were in, and won, the World Series. So, it is pretty obivous that Miller is a good luck charm. WBAL needs to do everything in its power to get him back to Charm City.
Of course, the current play-by-play guy for WBAL would have something to say about a move like that. Angel is in his third stint with the Birds of Baltimore. He started with them back in 1988. He stayed through '90 before heading to the Big Apple for a season, only to come right back in '92. Since 2004, Angel has been the one to give Birdland "the lovely totals" after every Orioles win and gave us the awesome line of "Champagne for everybody!" after the O's clinched the AL East championship back in September.
Both Angel and Miller were Giants employees in the early 2000s. Angel first covered San Francisco from 1977-78 and then returned from 2002-03, working alongside Miller on the radio. Despite the bad luck the O's have tended to have with Angel over the years, it seems as if Miller has rubbed off on him a bit in the last three years.
He was a stud player for both the Cincinnati Reds and the O's. Both teams retired his number. Both have bronze statues of him. He is in the Hall of Fame forever as an Oriole. (Ha ha! Nanny nanny boo boo!) But anyway, he also managed a few teams because, ya know, he was the first black manager in the history of the league. He took the reins of both the Giants and the Orioles.
He was in San Francisco from 1981-84 and posted a winning percentage of .488 and a record of 264-277. With the Birds he had a winning percentage of .447 and a record of 230-285. Much of that poor record was a result of his first season at the helm in which the team went 54-101. They rebounded the next season to 87-75, earning Robinson the Manager of the Year award in the AL.
Now, for some of the players....
He signed a two year deal with the O's as 34-year-old in December of 1998. He played one-and-a-half seasons here before he was shipped to St. Louis in exchange for Jose Leon on trade deadline day in 2000. As an Oriole he slashed .302/.404/.477 with 19 home runs and 57 RBI in 156 games.
With the Giants, he was a perennial All-Star. In his 8 years in the Bay Area from 1986-93, he made five All-Star teams, won two Silver Sluggers and received votes for Rookie of the Year and MVP of the NL. His best year was '89 when he hit .333 with 23 home runs and 111 RBI.
OK, this is going to sound weird, but back in July of 2003, Sidney Ponson was a pretty big trade target in baseball. Alright, seriously stop laughing. It's true! I'm telling you. That season he had gone 14-6 with a 3.77 ERA for the O's, striking out 100 over 148.0 innings pitched. If they had cared about WAR back then, his would have had a 3.4 WAR, according to Baseball Reference. ESPN referred to him as a "first-rate" starting pitcher". In order to get him, San Fran was going to have to pay a big price.
In exchange for the services of Mr. Ponson, the Birds received Ryan Hannaman, Damian Moss and Kurt Ainsworth. Hannaman never made to the majors and Moss was a pretty awful left-handed pitcher. But Ainsworth, he was a highly sought after gem in baseball. The former first-round pick was 24 at the time and in the midst of his rookie season after being highly-touted coming through the minors. He was the future Orioles ace. But ya know, his shoulder was pretty much falling off of his body. He was hurt when the O's traded for him and remained hurt for the rest of his career. He made 10 appearances in an Orioles uniform, going 0-2 with a 9.82 ERA over 33.0 innings.
In San Fran, Ponson made 10 starts, pitching to a 3.71 ERA and 3-6 record. He started Game Two of the NLDS against the Marlins that year. He lasted only five innings and allowed four runs en route to a Giants loss. Florida won the series in four games. He then re-signed with the O's in the off-season on a three-year, $22.5 million deal.
For some, Huff will be remembered in Baltimore for his less than savory comments on the city and its nightlife, which is a shame because back in 2008 Huff was actually awesome for the O's. He hit .304 with 32 home runs and 108 RBI, winning a Silver Slugger award and generating some MVP buzz (It was a very quiet buzz, finishing 16th in the voting).
From 2007 until Aug. 17, 2009 Huff slashed .282/.341/.473 as an Oriole before he was traded to Detroit for Brett Jacobson, who never made it to the bigs and is currently out of affiliated ball.
With the Giants, Huff won himself two World Series rings; 2010 and 2012, and seemed to enjoy his time there. Once again he found himself on the outer limits of the MVP discussion (finished ninth) in 2010 as he hit .290 with 26 home runs and 86 RBI. In his three years as a Giant he slashed .264/.346/.431.
Those were just the guys that first popped into my mind. There are also the likes of Miguel Tejada, LaTroy Hawkins, and Chris Ray. And we can't forget Joe Altobelli. He managed both teams too, winning the World Series with the O's in '83.
And let's not forget the obvious color scheme similarities. They are close, and I am biased, but here is why the Orioles are just a bit superior here. There is not a better uniform in baseball than the orange tops the Orioles wear for Saturday home games. The Giants tried to pull it off from 2010 through last season, but they just can't look as fly as Buck's guys.