31 March 2012

mission accomplished! and then some.

so, i went to the big card show last night.  no mr. mint, but there were a lot of people who were there to have things authenticated.  i found that strange.  i was there before the doors opened so it wasn't crowded at all.  there were dealers from all over the midwest, including a guy i have bought from before who hails from indiana.  he fulfilled my goal of picking up a 1959 topps sandy koufax
which completed my dodger team set from that year.  the best thing about this dealer was that he was charging pretty much the same that i would have spent on ebay for a similar card.  that's nice.  he also sold me a 1964 topps koufax
which completed my 1964 topps dodger team set.  i was on a roll.  i also completed my 1961 topps dodger team set by picking up this 1961 topps nl strikeout leaders card featuring both koufax and don drysdale
i also trimmed some other team set needs by picking up a 1954 topps gil hodges
and a 1958 topps duke snider
i even picked up a few cards for some fellow bloggers.  this one (or the one i already owned)
will go to jacobmrley towards his rookie cup quest, and this one goes to captain canuck.
i should have scanned the front - clyde king has some serious charles nelson reilly glasses.  i picked up a couple of things for some other folks too, so watch your mail.

i also picked up a card that wasn't on my want list, but had to be had thanks to the price and the double play on the front
yes, it's beat up, but i wouldn't have a 1956 yankee card be any other way.

i also completed my 1973 topps set (assuming that i get the cards i ordered last week in the mail) and picked up some other cards as well.  all in all it was a good run through without having to deal with the autograph crowds that i'm sure are there today and will be there tomorrow.

30 March 2012

driving in mister roberts

hey - look at that!  dave roberts and shawn green hanging out in the cheap seats!
actually, i am guessing that they were standing in front of a green screen for the photo.  still, this is not a view that is shown on baseball cards, and i appreciate it.  it's near the 'top of the park' which is where the team store is (was?).  thanks to the topography of the dodger stadium site, the highest level of seats in the stadium (the ones behind roberts and green) are also at ground level.

aside from the nice shot of dodger stadium, the card is somewhat confusing.  the back starts with text about roberts 'setting the table', enabling green to have 'an rbi feast in 2002.'
yes, they mention roberts' obp of .368 (in the first half of the season), but fail to say how many runs green drove in, how many runs roberts scored, and how many times green drove in roberts. is that good paragraph structure?  regardless, baseball reference tells me that green had 114 rbi in 2002, and that he plated roberts 16 times, a full fourth of roberts' 63 runs on the year.  in 2003, green had only 85 rbi, but drove in roberts (who scored only 56 runs) 17 times.

why donruss went with 2002 stats on a 2004 card when the 2003 stats made more sense is beyond me.  maybe we are meant to just look at the pretty picture of dodger stadium and not bother with the text on the back.

29 March 2012

back to elite?

2.15 billion dollars can do a lot.  i'm not sure that it has restored all of the dodger faithful however.  and i'm not even talking about the fact that 2 billion dollars wasn't enough for magic and company to be able to tell mccourt to get all the way out.  i am thinking about payroll and free agency versus scouting and player development.

back in the 1970's and into the early 80's - the last time i would say that the dodgers were an elite team, the success of the franchise was based on developing talent (the infield, don sutton, bob welch, fernando, pedro guerrero, sax, etc.) and supplementing with well placed trade acquisitions (dusty baker, reggie smith, etc).  their primary free agent acquisitions heading into the 80's (don stanhouse and dave goltz) turned out to be busts.

take a look at this 2005 donruss elite card - from their 'elite team' insert set
on the front we have adrian beltre and shawn green.  beltre was picked up as an amateur (and underage, if i recall correctly) free agent back in 1994, and made his debut for the dodgers in 1998 at the age of 19.  he is a classic example of home grown talent.  hindsight is 20/20, but would al campanis or fred claire have re-signed beltre after his monster 2004 season?  i would like to think that they would have because he was the type of talent that the dodgers used to keep, especially since they haven't had such a steady force at third since ron cey was traded.

shawn green, on the other hand, was acquired in a trade for raul mondesi, himself a product of the dodger farm system and a rookie of the year.  green had some great seasons as a dodger, and was my favorite dodger for his entire tenure there.  his trade reminded me of the bill buckner/rick monday deal, except without the 3 world series appearances in the 5 years after the trade.

on the back, we have a couple of free agents, although not the more common sort.
hideo nomo and kazuhisa ishii are two examples of the dodgers paying a high price for free agents with mixed results.  for the purposes of this post, i wished that kevin brown had been on the card instead of nomo.

what i fear is that the dodgers will become another big market team that tries to spend its way to a championship.  i realize that there has been past success with free agency (kirk gibson, of course) but my hope is that we see a lot of money spent smartly on player development and that our gm can fill the holes with sensible trades.

just like it used to be, back when the dodgers were elite.

28 March 2012

they're not mint, mister.

there's a big card show in the twin cities this weekend - a few hall of famers are signing on saturday.  i'll probably go on friday evening and not worry about that, however, no matter how badly i would like reggie jackson to sign one of his iconic 1978 topps cards for me.

i went to this same show last year, and picked up a hefty dose of bargain vintage.  being a dodger fan, and being a dodger fan without the backing of the guggenheim group, that means i bought non-mint stuff.  like this beautiful-to me 1957 topps don drysdale rookie card.
and you can't have a drysdale without a koufax, so i picked up a 1960 topps while i was there
now, the first thing i saw when i walked into the earle brown center was mr. mint.  he was set up at a table directly in line with the entrance.  right next to him was one of the regular twin cities' dealers with the vintage bargain bins.  i set up shop there, and kept one ear on what was going on at the mr. mint table.  he didn't have a whole lot of traffic and spent most of his time talking to his younger companion (son?) about real value vs. sentimental value.  he also had some stories about some of his past purchases, but i can no longer recall any specifics.

now don't get me wrong - i have no illusions when it comes to value of these things we collect.  monetarily, they are only worth what someone else is willing to pay for them.  and, if you are selling to mr. mint, you must understand that you are dealing with a middle man who wants/needs to make a profit off of what he is buying from you.  apparently, many folks don't understand that.  and, i am guessing that this is a speech that mr. mint has had to give thousands of times in the past, so the fact that he was so matter of fact about it while crushing the outlandish hopes of some would-be sellers should not have surprised me.  and it didn't, even though i still cringed at his brusk tone.

in the two hours or so that i spent poring through boxes of vintage cards, many with rounded corners and/or creases, no less than two babe ruth signed baseballs were presented to mr. mint.  he looked at them nonchalantly and made offers on each - offers that were far less than their owners had hoped to receive.  were they fair offers? i don't know.  even dealers came down to see what he might pay for some memorabilia.  not once did i see money or merchandise exchange hands.  he didn't seem to be enjoying himself, that's for sure.

i had a good time though.  i finally found a 1962 bob uecker rookie card that i could live with at a decent price.
being a dodger fan, this is one of the tougher multi-player rookie cards to pick up, especially in the upper midwest.  thanks doug camilli for making it difficult.

not to be outdone as far as rounded corners go, here's a 1962 post daryl spencer card
i am sure i could get a much better copy online for probably close to what i paid for it at this show.  but i don't care!

that's not to say that i didn't pick up some decent looking cards for their age, like this 1956 topps billy loes
 or this charley neal from the same set
and, this sandy amoros
and this don newcombe
from the 1958 topps set are both upgrades for me.  there was another dealer there who had a ton of mid-70's stuff, and he helped me (almost) complete my dodger team set from the 1975 topps mini issue.  for not much money at all, i picked up a 1956 mvp card featuring newk and some triple crown winner
 plus a 1955 campy (with some other catcher)
and a 1963 koufax featuring yet another yankee
this year i will try to complete my 1973 topps set (15 cards to go) and maybe pick up a 1959 topps koufax to finish my dodger set from that year.  and with my budget, mint cards need not apply.

anybody else need anything?

27 March 2012

a long time ago, in an infield far far away...

doesn't this 1987 fleer all-star insert scream 'star wars'?
with the tapered font and the starry sky, i say yes.  it's much cooler looking than the blue and red backgrounds (i think) in the first go-around that fleer had with these in an earlier set.

saxy was indeed worthy of the selection back then, having matured into a fairly decent offensive second baseman.  plus, he was in fact named to the 1986 nl all-star squad - he was 1 for 1 with an rbi and a stolen base against charlie hough, who struck out 3 batters but only recorded two outs thanks to a passed ball on strike 3.  here's what fleer had to say in defense (pun intended) of their saxy selection.
huh.  they say that saxy's throwing problems were behind him (pun intended, again) by 1986.  that is largely true, at least for his tenure with the dodgers.  he had only 16 errors in 1986 and 14 in 1987 and 1988, his three best seasons in the field during his time in la.  he did even better in his three seasons with the yankees before making 20 miscues for the white sox in 1992 and being relegated to the outfield primarily for the rest of his career.  maybe perception is reality, and it really is impossible to make a second first impression.

still, there's no denying that there was a time when sax threw to first with the precision of an imperial stormtrooper.  i mean the ones that couldn't hit the side of a galactic cruiser with their lasers, not the ones that obi-wan refers to when he mentions that 'only imperial stormtroopers are so precise.'  based on the way they were depicted in the movie, i really don't think obi-wan knew what he was talking about.

26 March 2012

how did i miss this? how did topps?

i know i paid little attention to topps heritage last year (and plan to pay even less this year), but i should have been on the lookout for this card - the 'jeter makes the double play' card
it is, of course, an homage to one of the best double play cards of all time, the 1962 topps 'kubek makes the double play'.
of course, kubek actually turns the double play, whereas jeter holds on to the ball.  come on topps, can't you find a photo sequence of dj where he isn't so disturbed by drew butera sliding in that he actually throws the ball to first?  shouldn't that card instead be labeled 'jeter doesn't make the double play'?  terrible.

then, topps added another double play card, sort of.  here's the yankee captain with his double play partner robinson cano
this card is an attempt to acknowledge a similar card in the 1962 set, except that one recognized a couple of yankee third basemen.  that means that this card is more of a tribute to the classic 1988 fleer superstar special card featuring ozzie smith and ryne sandberg
except that jeter and cano actually play together.  the back of the heritage card
has nothing to say about fielding aside from a gold glove reference and instead focuses on the offensive talents of the tandem.  for comparative purposes, here's the back of the fleer card
topps would have been better off with a card of alex rodriguez and eric chavez (or ramiro pena depending on when they went into production) to stay true to the 1962 set.  but then again, they should have had derek jeter actually completing the double play, too.

can't wait for 2015 topps heritage to see how they bungle the dp combo card from 1966
whose back
really does reference double plays!  not that i care if they screw up a giants' card mind you.

25 March 2012

your honors, your honor

i have been in fairly serious organizing mode lately - a side effect of trying to get the 'greatest double play card of all time' tournament set up.  anyway, i came across some cards from the 2004 playoff honors set that i hadn't previously seen, like this jason frasor card.
frasor is the guy we traded away to get jayson werth from the blue jays back in 2004.  i think rookie cards were short prints in the 2004 playoff honors set, so i'm not surprised that i was surprised by this card in 2012.  frasor pitched for the jays until last year, when he was sent to the white sox.  he's back with toronto now, however.

there were a number of inserts and subsets with this set - here's a card from the 'awards' insert set, this one featuring the 1988 national league cy young award winner
they even recycled the photo for the prime signatures insert set
my copy, of course, is without the signature.  i'm not sure why they issued non-signed versions as the card is clearly meant to be signed.

here's why i was pondering the 2004 playoff honors cards in the first place - double plays.  like rafael furcal
before he was a dodger, and his double play partner marcus giles
with a kneeling umpire.

derek jeter has a dp card too
which was certainly taken during the 2003 world series since that's juan pierre sliding in head first to try to break up the double play.  while i'm thinking of pierre, he got a pretty nice card in the set as well
which is similar to nomad's card
i am left to wonder, however, why playoff didn't put the player names and positions on the bottom of the landscape cards.  they rotated the team logos, but the cards would have been a bit better if everything were oriented properly. in my opinion anyway.

back to organizing.  who knows what else i will uncover...

22 March 2012

like sands through the mail...

...these are the first ttm successes i've had this spring.

i sent out a few autograph requests to spring training addresses earlier this spring, but the mailbox had been completely silent until a couple of weeks ago when i received these cards back.  a 2011 topps update jerry sands
and a diamond duos matt kemp/jerry sands
signed by the dodger rookie himself.  that diamond duos card is the one i had purchased from sportlots and wound up getting caught on some scotch tape.  glad i was able to get some use out of it after all.
sands is fighting for a spot on the roster this spring, and to be honest, i have not been following spring training at all.

thanks for signing my cards jerry!

21 March 2012

another 73 down

thanks to don who found an amos otis for me
that's a classic '73 right there with what looks to be a brewers catcher (but likely not ellie rodriguez) in the foreground.  don also sent some parallel dodgers, like this 1995 score gold rush card of rafael bournigal
who is awkwardly high-fiving a lurking mike piazza.  i can imagine the staff as they assembled the checklist:

'we need another dodger in the set'
'how about piazza?'
'he already has a couple of cards'
'well find a player who has a photo that includes the italian-american superstar slugger, even if it's a no-hit, all-field backup shortstop'
'bournigal gets a card!'

here is one of mike piazza's cards from the set
i could do without his eyes featured so prominently.

score wasn't the only company doing some weird stuff to their parallels in 1995.  here's a 1995 topps ismael valdes cyber stats card
i think topps figured ismael would have gone 3-2 if the full 1994 season had been played, and he would have suffered blisters on his fingers on three separate occasions.  you dodger fans know what i'm talking about.

i predict the-riot! on a 2010 topps update gold card
which is markedly different from the 2011 topps update cognac cards
that particular ethier card is really just a checklist.  it's interesting that topps included no further text elaborating on what it meant by 'ethier streaks through april'.  who knows what future generations will think.

back to gold - here's darryl strawberry's 1992 topps gold card
i never get tired of that card.  so cool.

finally, in a nod to sesame street, don included a card that was not like the others.  it's a 1991 swell baseball greats card of ralph branca
thanks don! hope you enjoy your 73's i sent in return.