Normally, I doubt someone would be too excited about getting an auto of a pitcher with a career record of 4-7 with a 3.06 ERA and 162 strikeouts...
However, I got this ball in the mail from the Orioles reliever, Koji Uehara yesterday (July 27). I mailed to him on July 20 and got the ball back 7 days later. That's an amazing TAT. Koji is my 23rd TTM success on a ball. As you can see above, the ball looks amazing! Looks like he signed it "Koji".
Initially, I didn't care all that much for Koji. I called him the Snowman because he would melt in the summer heat of Baltimore. He was injury prone and it seemed like all he wanted to do was get on a plane back to Japan. Then, last year he gave up a game winning home run to A-Roid that I was actually able to see a video of. The display of emotion that Koji exhibited when he let his team down showed me that he really cared about his team and that he had a genuine desire to win. After that moment, Koji seemed "lights out: to me.
This year, he has been amazing. Right now, he is one of the few bright spots for the O's in a pretty dismal season. He is sporting an ERA of 1.80 in 41 games (45.0 IP) to go with a record of 1-1. He has 59 strikeouts in those 45.0 innings pitched with only 8 walks! It always seems like the Orioles go for relievers who come into a game and forget how to throw strikes. It's so frustrating. With Koji, however, he comes in and shouts the other teams down.
It appears that Koji is the best trade chip that the O's have right now, although his past injury history and age (36) has a few teams shying away. Koji has a vesting option for $4 million that will kick in if he has 14 more appearances. For $4 million, he would be worth keeping around even if only for peace of mind that the O's would have at least one reliever who wouldn't be sending Earl Weaver scrambling for another pack of cigarettes.
So, I hope the Orioles hold on to Koji. If not for anything else, just to give me someone to pull for this season since Roberts is out. Also, I am glad to admit that my first impression of Koji was a mistake and I am so very happy to have been able to add this ball to my collection. Thanks Koji!