31 January 2009

the awesomeness of ausmus

well, i don't know if there really is any awesomeness there, but if he gives russell a rest here and there i suppose he will have done his job.

here he is pictured at beautiful dodger stadium on his 1994 upper deck collector's choice card.and so, we add ausmus to the immortal ranks of recent dodger backup catchers, such as ardoin, bennett, lieberthal, mayne, bako, hall, rose and krueter.

good luck, brad.

30 January 2009

free junk, that's it

just like fat sam. ah, the simple pleasures.

dayf sent me some cards. they weren't junk and they weren't free (i sent him some 84 fleer, braves and an 87 donruss), but i will take any opportunity to quote 'fletch'.

let's start with the fleers - dayf sent a pack of 1984 that he had opened and a sealed pack of 1990.

here's bill gullickson all smiles in dodger stadium. and the lone dodger (and future brave) alejandro pena. on to the 1990 pack. the highlight for me was paul molitordayf must have known that this pack contained a john smoltz which is why it was jettisoned from georgia with such haste.

next, there were some vladdy cards, including the timeline basealong with some other timeline cards like the russell martin 1992 minors spfinally, there was a 1954 topps joe black.
i am not sure if that's the good angel or the bad angel on his shoulder. the absent one must have been stuck in traffic behind the manure spreader that jack-knifed on the santa ana. god awful mess.

thanks dayf!

29 January 2009

gcrl origins, part 2: here comes garvey

steve garvey joined bill russell in the 1971 topps set. listed as a third baseman, steve sported the same black batting glove as russell in a show of solidarity. garvey had made 3 pinch hitting appearances in 1969 (striking out in his first big league at bat), but didn't appear in the field until 1970, where he played in 34 games, mostly at 3rd base (he spent 1 inning at second base). in 82 chances he made 5 errors and at the plate had an ops of .665. but i'm sure he looked good doing it.

russell, meanwhile, is still listed as an outfielder.as mentioned last time, russell played his first game at shortstop in 1970, but spent most of his time in the outfield. he actually had a higher ops than garvey, coming in at .666! russell would spend about half his 1971 season in the infield, but at second rather than short.

28 January 2009

the lurkers are losing

these kinds of cards give me trouble. as a team collector, i don't know if i should include them in the team set or not. they're a couple of the 1975 topps world series subset, highlighting the 1974 world series played between the a's and the dodgers. most of the subset focuses on the a's, including solo pictures of reggie and rollie, which are easy to leave out of my dodgers team binder.

but these cards, with ron cey lurking behind joe rudi as he rounds third and steve yeager lurking as ray fosse (i think) swings are not as easy to ban from the binder, although ultimately i do not include them. sure, they feature dodgers on cards commemorating games the dodgers played in, but since the a's won the games, i'll pass. the lone dodger win, by the way, is depicted with a shot of joe ferguson returning to the dugout, and that one is in the binder.

**[bonus points to anyone who got the keane reference in the title of this post]

27 January 2009

twins fest, day two

it was 6 below when i got in line on saturday morning, about 2 hours before opening. mauer was signing at 9 and morneau at 11. i had decided to head straight for morneau (he wasn't signing on sunday) and come back for mauer on sunday. as it turned out, a couple of guys ahead of me were going to mauer and killebrew, and they suggested working together to 'divide and conquer'. as a result, we all wound up with mauer and morneau's autographs, saving me a trip back on sunday. plus, we were able to get rod carew's autograph, as his line had shortened considerably by the time we were through morneau's line. i passed on the additional $10 for hof authentication, though.

with that accomplished, i went back to the field to pick up a few more cards, starting with an impulse purchase of a 2005 bowman andy laroche jerseybefore hitting some of the 76's i had seen the night before, such as pops and some fast guys.after a few more 1970's (including a couple of pristine checklists and tom haller)my want lists are dwindling.

so, i dug through some vintage bargains. here's a 1952 clyde kingi also picked up a 1953 dick williams (yes, that dick williams - before he went all burl ives) and a 1954 billy herman.i found a decent looking 1967 drysdale and couldn't resist.and really, what's the point of having a drysdale if you don't get a koufax to go along with it? so, i picked up a 1964 world series sandy.

after starting out poorly, i would say twins fest was a success this year. i got the autographs my son wanted and some great cards that i wanted. here's hoping they let the twins use the metrodome again next year for this even though their lease will be up.

26 January 2009

twins fest, day one

last year at the twins annual summer autograph party, my son and i bought a grab bag while standing in line for michael cuddyer's autograph. it included a poster of cuddyer, morneau, and mauer at the target field construction site. usually we have players sign my son's twins yearbook, but he decided to have cuddy sign the poster instead. of course, that meant that mauer and morneau would have to sign it as well.

day one of twinsfest offered that opportunity, as the m&m boys were signing together at 7pm. arriving at the dome at 4 on friday, i was probably about 150 people from the gate, where we stood in very cold temperatures. the signing was in the football press box (right field) and the two gates that were open were home plate and left field. i was in left field, and it felt like i was running on stumps when the doors opened and all heck broke loose. i ran to get in line, but was probably about 400 deep by the time i got there. this meant that i would not make it, but i stood stubbornly just in case. i should have cut bait. the bad thing is that i ran past killebrew's station with only about 20 people queued up while trying for mauer/morneau.

i couldn't let my 4 hours wasted be in vain, so i headed down to the field to check out some cards. bob feller was there again, and fergie jenkins as well. i was not prepared for any autos other than mauer, morneau or a couple of select former twins, so i kept going.

there were quite a few dealers, maybe a tad more than last year but not as many as in years past, it seemed. they had mostly twins cards to offer, along with a lot of novelty crap. i did find a couple of tables with some honest to goodness vintage and set building inventory. i decided to kill my 2008 allen & ginter want list first, and did ok except for the sp's. he wanted 3 bucks apiece and wouldn't budge as he claimed to have spent $1.50 for them. no thanks. i did pick up most of the non-sp's that i needed, including former dodger derek lowe. i also made a couple of impulse buys - a 2007 topps james loney auto and a 2004 playoff honors tandems arod and canseco jersey. i am guessing the common thread here was 40/40, but i suppose it could also be lusting after jose's wife. zing!

i moved on to vintage, and picked up a few 52's to complete my "one of every team" quest. the indians (i love how chief wahoo is looking up proudly at george) and phillies.
next up, 1954 - done! featuring the yankees and a dodger.
finally, i hit the 1970 high numbers quite successfully. i picked up a good number of cards, including a couple of dicks.
by this time, twinsfest was shut down, and i hadn't looked through the 76's yet. with mauer and morneau signing again on saturday (separately) and my wife at work, i decided to head back and try again...

25 January 2009

charles johnson and his plays at the plate

in 1999, upper deck issued a couple of charles johnson cards - one with the dodgers and one with the orioles.johnson spent a little over half a season with dodgers in 1998 - he was acquired in the mike piazza trade - and was then dealt to the mets in the deal for todd hundley. not what i would call an upgrade. anyway, the mets traded him to baltimore on the same day. with baltimore, johnson was part of the first major league team to play a game in cuba since 1959, when the dodgers played (who else?) the orioles in an exhibition.

so, in a game from may of 1998, mickey morandini bears down, and then about ten months later, a cuban national player slides in. it was the same position for cj, yet played worlds apart.

24 January 2009

x as in ex

shades of luis gonzalez. i know it's old news, but andruw is out. perhaps the worst one and done since jose valentin.

thanks ned.

23 January 2009

kent stand losing you

or can I? congrats on a career, jeff; perhaps a hall of fame worthy one. i respect the talent, the work ethic and the "ornery-ness" to a point, but i never really connected with kent as a dodger.

perhaps because he never seemed to belong to any team - from the blue jays to the mets (hello jose offerman and dodger stadium!)to the indians to the giants to the astros to the dodgers. just another stop on the way back to texas.

i am not sold on blake dewitt, though. still, here's hoping ned doesn't trade kershaw for uggla or something stupid like that.

reese or gilliam?

as shawn green settles under the can of corn on his 2002 upper deck card, i am guessing he gave no thought to the mural behind him.

it is one of the many variations of murals the dodgers used in the late 90's and early 00's to honor rookies of the year, retired numbers, world championships, and award winning players - before the mccourts used the fence as a big billboard to generate money for ned to waste.

this one, obviously, is honoring the dodgers' retired numbers, and the only ones beginning with a '1' are pee wee reese who wore number 1 and jim gilliam who wore number 19. my guess is it's pee wee as the '1' looks centered.

either way, it's worthy of recognition.

22 January 2009

mondesi on carpet is perfection on cardboard

the 1995 topps raul mondesi is one of my favorite cards. in fact, i think it's perfect.coming off his unanimous 1994 rookie of the year award winning season (john hudek was second), raul is off to the races as the reds shortsop (larkin, most likely) dives for the grounder up the middle. of the dodgers’ 1990’s rookies of the year, mondesi was my favorite. yes, even more of a favorite than piazza. he could do it all – run, hit for average, hit for power, field and throw. he ran low to the ground like rickey and was built like a football player.

plus, you could cheer his name as ‘rah-uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuul’. kind of like ‘luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuc’ at kings games. anyway, mondesi was the first 30-30 dodger, i believe, and his 1999 opening day 3-run, 2-out bottom of the ninth game tying and 2-run, 2-out bottom of the eleventh game winning home runs were two of the greatest moments of my fandom. ushering in what i thought was going to be a dynastic kevin brown era in such a dramatic fashion was nothing short of euphoric.

eventually, though, raul wore out his welcome and was traded for shawn green. green would supplant mondesi as my favorite current dodger immediately, but i always rooted for rah-uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuul.

21 January 2009

have it your way

davey, sorry, dave lopes was featured in the 1980 burger king 'pitch-hit-run' set, the only dodger to be included, i might add. i think he was part of the 'run' subset. i guess the dodgers had neither pitchers or hitters that year. or was this like the all-star roster with one rep from each team? nope. the astros had 5 players, and a few teams had zero.

this was the first national burger king set, i believe. prior to this, there were regional team issues (yankees and phillies were two that i am aware of). anyway, at least they used a different photo for the card.

here's lopes' 1980 o-pee-chee card, which had the same photo as the topps version, of course.so the king's version was not much of a variation, but still enough for me to get excited.

it's too bad the card doesn't smell of flame broiled goodness. at least they held the pickles.

20 January 2009

let's bat around with make believe cards

i am going to take a very narrow approach to the third bat around, and just address one set i would like to see issued next year or someday.

i went crazy for topps heritage in 2001. i pre-ordered a box as soon as i heard about it and waited not so patiently for the release date. long story short - the guy i pre-ordered from went out of business or worse, and i never got my box. i still bought a lot of packs, though. then i went crazy for topps archives when they came out. same with topps fan favorites. upper deck vintage. fleer tradition. i have always believed very strongly in the strength of baseball's connection with the past, so seeing current players on vintage style cards was almost as cool as seeing some of my favorite retired players in different poses on those same style cards.
couple all of that with my love for the final tributes - cards that include a player's complete career statistics issued the year after they retire - and you get what would be my favorite set. a set that would include a 1970 don drysdale, a 1977 hank aaron, a 1988 topps steve garvey, a 2007 todd hollandsworth, a 1976 juan marichal and a 1973 jim lefebvre.
now, i understand that there are limits to the number of retired players that can be included in a base set, so you could include current players on cards in the style of the year they were born. how about a 1972 topps manny ramirez or a 1985 topps evan longoria?

given the appreciation i and others have for the digital work of punk rock paint, goose joak, the writer's journey, white sox cards, and others, i think this set would be awesome. i would even pre-order it.

oh, and i would also like to see documentary done correctly. and sold in team sets. thank you.

19 January 2009

1985 donruss visits dodger stadium and disappears from my collection

i went looking for my 1985 donruss last weekend, and struck out. i have no idea what happened to my dodgers. i did find a couple of dodger stadium shots, though.
john gibbons gives us the right field corner, with the dodger stadium restaurant just above his left ear, andy van slyke is happy to be in front of the multi-colored seats,and bob knepper doesn't look pleased at all to be in chavez ravine. poor mr grumpy gills.
this was a nice set - tough black borders, i know - with some pretty good rookies (gooden, sabes, 'jeff' pendleton).

i have added the 1985 donruss dodgers (and a couple others) to my want list. any help is appreciated.

be home blyleven and in the hall by 2011

i am a fan of bert blyleven.
he is a broadcaster with the twins (a homer for sure, which i usually can't stand) so i see him a fair amount. i have met him a couple of times at twins events, and he seems like a pretty decent guy. even if he couldn't figure out where he was supposed to sign this 2004 upper deck legends timeless teams card.there has been much written and discussed the last few days about the hall of fame, and bert's lack of support. there have also been many references to his 'i (love) to fart' t-shirt. i found this post to be interesting. it really hammers home how different the game was when he was pitching - no middle relief specialists or closers like today. sure he bounced around a bit, but he retired third all-time in strikeouts - one of the three true outcomes of the game.

i am optimistic that bert will get the call someday. hopefully, like he says, he's on the right side of the ground when it happens.