31 August 2012

i attended the last dodger game

yep - friday august 24th.  the last game before the dodgers officially became the yankees west.  i was at the ravine (my first game there in 6 years) to see the dodgers take on the marlins.  before leaving for the game, we caught a snippet on sportscenter about the dodgers having claimed adrian gonzalez on waivers.  no big deal - it's a well known fact that pretty much all big-contract players get put on waivers in august (although you wouldn't know that by the way the media reacted around here with joe mauer being on revocable trade waivers).  anyway, the talking heads from bristol made note of the news item, and assured the public that there was no way adrian gonzalez was leaving boston.

fast forward 10 hours or so, and i started to get some texts from friends asking for my opinion about the 'blockbuster' deal.  i had not heard anything about it, as i had been enjoying a long overdue day back in southern california.  a quick check of mlb.com brought me up to speed.

i'll save it for another post, but after the game, heading back to oc, i realized that the times have changed and that these aren't 'my' dodgers anymore.  i felt that way a little bit when the team was sold for over $2 billion, mostly because i knew then that this day was coming.  now that it's here, i'm kind of sad.  i'm still a fan of course, but i would have liked to see a team comprised of mostly homegrown talent win out.  i'm sure i will get over it - as long as the team wins.  isn't that the point of all this absorption of ridiculous contracts?  still, some of the joy of winning is gone, because they are expected to win.  no more 1988 improbability.

i was a james loney fan.  i readily admit that his offense was not up to par, but i had been waiting for him since he was drafted in 2002.  i sat through fred mcgriff and the shawn green first base experiment, along with hee seop choi and then nomar before loney finally got his chance. ok, i was happy about nomar, but i thought loney would be the dodgers' first baseman for a long time.  as it turned out, those doubles never turned into home runs, and we all knew that the dodgers needed a bigger bat at first.  they got one, but now they have some baggage that came along with it and it frightens me that the dodgers may eventually, like the yankees, shrug and dump a contract worth tens of millions of dollars.

thankfully, i enjoyed some ignorant bliss before the game out in autograph alley.  it was la kings night at the stadium, and someone from the kings' organization was signing autographs - jim fox maybe (he threw out the first pitch).  anyway, that line was ridiculously long, and i was worried that it was also the line for 1978 topps dodger member lee lacy.  i was pretty happy when i walked up and saw that there was no line for the dodger's utility player of my youth.

i was able to talk to him for several minutes, and he happily signed my 1978 topps card for me.
by the way, i have to thank the dodgers and roberto for posting the autograph alley players well in advance, giving me time to pull some cards before i flew out to socal.

i talked to lacy about the trade that sent him to atlanta, and the trade that brought him back a short time later.  he said that he was happy to return to la.  he also commented a few times that i had his rookie card, and he happily signed it, despite the lady working the booth telling me i could only have one item signed.
he ignored the lady working the booth again and signed my ratty old 1976 card, too.
lacy then spent a couple of minutes talking to my son about baseball and dodger stadium, and signed a promotional 5x7 for him as well.  by that time, there were a couple of people waiting, so we said goodbye and thanked him for signing.  i was pretty happy to have talked with a homegrown member of the team of my youth, even if he wasn't able to win a championship in la.

spray it again, carlos

before there was 'the cream' and 'the clear', there was 'the spray'.  

similar to corticosteroid nasal sprays, 'the spray' was to be delivered via a fine mist into the nose - no need for needles and cramped bathroom stall injection parties with this performance enhancing drug.  and, instead of having to make up some sort of bs about the benefits of flaxseed oil, players using 'the spray' could simply complain of hay fever or sinusitis before giving the small spray bottle a couple of pumps right up the ol' schnozz.  it was foolproof until some players got carried away, and experimented with an alternative delivery system.  

although we cannot see exactly who carlos delgado is dousing with 'the spray' on his 1998 score card while teammates shawn green and joe carter look on with bewildered amusement,

 a quick scan of the blue jays' roster may provide the answer.
canseco went on to hit a career high (!) 46 home runs for the jays in 1998, while the rocket won his second consecutive cy young award while striking out more batters than he ever had in boston except for one season.  maybe 'the spray' really worked when applied in high doses!

now, before you get all literal on me - i realize that canseco was not a member of the blue jays in 1997 when the photo used on delgado's card was most likely taken (we know that the photo is from no later than 1997 because joe carter was not with the team in 1998).  and, conversely, you should realize that this post was written for round 4 of nachos grande's contest, and is a completely fictional account of why a major league baseball player might be using a supersoaker from the dugout.

30 August 2012

the topps dodger autograph project - the eary 1970's

now we are getting into the part of my topps dodger autograph project where i was around to see the cards released and the players on them play.  not that i saw them all, but you get the idea.  actually, i very vividly remember seeing jim campanis (the 1968 entry in this project) play, but that was in an old-timer's game at dodger stadium circa 1980 or so.

anyway, bring on the 1970's!

al mcbean, 1970 topps
mcbean signed that card for me back in 2009.  it's a shame i haven't shown it until now, as he has a very cool looking signature.  mcbean is one of only 11 people born in the virgin islands to have made it to the big leagues.  interestingly enough, three of those players (mcbean, henry cruz, and jose morales) have played for the dodgers.  mcbean arrived in los angeles via a 1969 trade with the padres.  he was 2-6 with 4 saves for the dodgers in 1969, and then pitched a single scoreless inning for them in 1970 before being released.  he finished his major league career later that season with a stint as a pirate.  other dodgers who have signed their 1970 topps cards for me include joe moellermanny mota, bill buckner (with fee), bob stinson (with fee), billy grabarkewitz, bill singer (with fee), ted sizemore, jeff torborg, andy kosco, bill russell, len gabrielson, and bill sudakis (with fee).  i also have cards that were signed by jim brewer and wes parker from the set, but i purchased both of those from my local card shop back in the late 1970's.

sandy vance, 1971 topps
like mcbean, i've held off on showing this card for too long.  i've actually had two successes with vance (both 1971 topps cards, one of which i included in my trade with reader cory for the autographs he picked up for me at spring training and padres' games a couple of years ago).  vance was one of the players the dodgers selected in their historic 1968 drafts.  he was the team's second round pick in the june draft, after they took steve garvey in the first round.  while he quickly made it to the majors, vance appeared in only 30 games over the 1970 and 1971 seasons.  in his major league debut, vance got the start opposite future hall of famer tom seaver.  he didn't pitch too poorly (3 runs in 6 innings) but seaver held the dodgers to just one run and so vance took the loss.  his next time out, vance beat the expos 2-1 by pitching a complete game 4-hitter.  he made his final big league appearance in june of 1971 against the cubs.  other 1971 topps cards i have received signed through the mail include joe moellermanny mota, claude osteen, bill russell, jeff torborg, billy grabarkewitz, von joshua, jerry stephenson, bill strahler, bobby valentine, and maury wills (with fee).

manny mota, 1972 topps
this is one of many, many manny mota cards that i have received from him through the mail.  he is the first member of the 1978 topps dodgers to be featured as part of this project, and his presence on those teams, as well as his connection to the dodgers since 1969, is a big reason why i have bothered him for his autograph so many times.  you can see some, but not all, of my ttm successes with manny mota in these here links.  other dodgers who have signed their 1972 topps cards for me through the mail include joe ferguson, claude osteen, bill buckner (with fee), wille davis (with fee), al downing, duke sims (with fee), mike strahler, bobby valentine, and maury wills (with fee).  i also have a ron cey rookie card signed by the penguin that i picked up from kit young cards long before i ever thought about ttm.

wes parker, 1973 topps
yes, that 1973 topps card you see above this text is signed by parker.  he is notorious for signing ttm free of charge but with a very light stroke of a ballpoint pen.  as long as you know this going in, it's all good.  i, for one, am just really happy that parker takes the time to sign at all.  i first saw him on a brady bunch rerun, and my mom pointed him out to me as the former dodger first baseman.  i have a couple other cards signed by the golden gloved first baseman, including that 1970 topps card i mentioned above, but his 1973 card is my favorite.  other dodgers to sign and return a copy of their 1973 topps cards to me include steve garvey, davey lopes (with fee), ken mcmullen, bill russell, red adams, willie davis (with fee), al downing, doug rau, and pete richert.

claude osteen, 1974 topps
osteen has signed a few cards for me through the mail, but i think this 1974 card of his might be my favorite.  other 1974 topps cards that former dodgers have signed for me through the mail include al downing, steve garveymanny mota, ken mcmullen, joe ferguson, and pete richert.

i don't plan to include all of the topps traded and update sets as part of this project; they're kind of a bonus.  but, if i have them, i'll show them.  here's the first topps traded set, with the toy cannon representing.

jim wynn, 1974 topps traded
i've shown this card before, and i am still very happy to have it in my collection.  wynn is the only dodger in the traded set that signs through the mail without an exorbitant fee (dr. mike marshall).  the other dodger in the set, tommie agee, passed away in 2001.

1951 topps - preacher roe (purchased)
1952 topps - rocky bridges
1953 topps - bobby morgan
1954 topps - billy herman (purchased)
1955 topps - don zimmer (purchased)
1956 topps - randy jackson
1957 topps - carl erskine
1958 topps - joe pignatano
1959 topps - fred kipp
1960 topps - chuck essegian
1961 topps - bob aspromonte
1962 topps - norm sherry
1963 topps - ed roebuck
1964 topps - ken mcmullen
1965 topps - dick tracewski
1966 topps - john kennedy
1967 topps - phil regan
1968 topps - jim campanis
1969 topps - jeff torborg
1970 topps - al mcbean
1971 topps - sandy vance
1972 topps - manny mota
1973 topps - wes parker
1974 topps - claude osteen
1974 topps traded - jim wynn

27 August 2012

who's that lurker?

no, silly.  i know that that is rickey henderson standing next to greg gagne on the dodger shortstop's 1997 upper deck card.

what i don't know is who is that guy in center field?  or is it left?

i know that the photo was taken in dodger stadium (i was there last friday night!).

i know it was a day game, and i know, thanks to upper deck's captioning, that it was in 1996 and during the 'nl west race' which makes me believe that it was late in the season.

now, before we get to sleuthing, let me tell you something about the 1996 nl west race.  this was the year that ken caminiti was unstoppable.  in fact, the middle of the order - gwynn, caminiti, finley, and joyner - was pretty formidable that year.  it was also the year that the dodgers had already clinched at least the wild card after the first game of the final weekend's three-game series against the padres.  the dodgers lost that first game, but montreal also lost, so the dodgers were in the playoffs for the second year in a row.  the padres, on the other hand, trailed the dodgers in the west by 1 game with 2 to play, and were only 1 game ahead of montreal for the wild card.  the dodgers lost game 161 as well, and so were tied with the padres atop the western division.  i remember hearing a postgame interview with italian-american superstar slugger in which he seemed to suggest that maybe the dodgers should rest their regulars on the last day of the season and take their chances as the wild card team.  he quickly followed up his statement with something along the lines of 'but we want to win and we will try to win'.    well, both teams went with their regulars, and the game wound up going 11 innings (the second extra innings game of the series).  the padres won it on a hit by former dodger chris gwynn and three days later, the dodgers opened up the nlds against atlanta.  both the dodgers and padres got swept in their respective series, and who knows what might have happened had they not gone toe-to-toe all the way to the end of the season.

ok - back to the card.  for each of the three games at the end of the season - all played at dodger stadium, by the way - wayne kirby was the center fielder for the dodgers.  that's not wayne kirby on gagne's card.  chad curtis did relieve kirby in the 7th inning of the first game of the series (a night game) and the 10th inning of game 162 (played during the day), but rickey didn't get on base while curtis was on the field.  henderson did make it to second a couple of times in the second game of the series (also a day game).  in the first inning, he singled and stole second, and in the 8th inning he walked and advanced to second on a tony gwynn single.  that single by gwynn drove in two runs to break a 2-2 tie, and so it is possible that maybe a visit to the mound was made after the hit (although mark guthrie stayed in the game).  that would have provided the moment of levity between gagne and henderson.  if that is the case, then the lurking outfielder must be todd hollandsworth.  holly was the dodgers' left fielder in the series, and it looks like the camera angle may be such that the photo was shot from the camera well near the first base dugout.

but wait, you say, hollandsworth was a lefty, and that guy has his glove on his left hand.  well, i contend that the outfielder is holding - not wearing - his glove.  his arm looks pretty long if, in fact, his hand is in that glove.  plus, it's really the only thing that makes sense.  unless upper deck got the year wrong like they did with hideo nomo's card.

any thoughts?

23 August 2012

what the epix?

while working towards the eddie murray final tribute post from a while back, i looked to see how many cards were made of the hall of fame switch hitter in 1998.  i found a few that i didn't know about before, and still couldn't believe that topps didn't bother with a card commemorating his great career.  one of the issues that i didn't realize existed was put out by pinnacle.  i am assuming it was an insert set to another set, but i could be wrong.  it was called 'epix' and there were a number of versions/parallels.  ok, it's more crazy than i thought - here's the baseballcardpedia article on these cards. here's a purple card of steady eddie.
this one focuses on a specific play (hence the 'play' text).  turning the card over, we see that murray was an indian
when he got his 3000th career hit.  both the dodger and the indian logos are displayed, and the photo on the back shows murray in his tribe gear.  very nicely done, pinnacle, although i would question why murray was in dodger blue on this card if i weren't a dodger collector.

here's an orange version (that article linked above confirmed my suspicion that orange is the most common version) of the same card
same front, same back.
i like the purple better.

now, here's another orange version of the card, only this one focuses on a game.
specifically, a game in which murray hits three home runs in the first five innings, and, well, you can read the back.
again, pinnacle shows murray in the correct uniform (although i would suspect that the photos are from his second go around in baltimore) and we see the o's logo on the back.

here's yet another orange version of the card, with this one celebrating a moment.
it's kind of the same as the 'play' version, except this one celebrates his 500th career home run.  the photos and the text correctly identify murray as an oriole, except
there's a dodger logo on the back.  say what?  especially since murray not only hit his 500th home run with the orioles, he didn't hit any homers during his second tenure with the dodgers at the end of the 1997 season.  so, what's a team collector supposed to do with that card?

21 August 2012

steve finley's subterranean homesick blues

johnny's in the 
 mixing up the
 i'm on the
 thinking about the
 the man in the
 badge out,
 says he's got a
 wants to get it
 look out
 it's something you
 god knows
 but you're doin' it
 you better duck down the
 lookin' for a
 the man in the
 in the
you only got
 face full of
 talkin' about the
 plants in the
 the phone's tapped
 steve finley says that
 in early may, orders from the
 what you did.  walk on your
 don't try
 better stay away from
 that carry around a
 keep a
 watch the
 you don't need a weather man to know which way the
 get sick,
 hang around an ink well.  ring bell,
 to tell if anything is going to sell.  try hard, get barred.  get back
 jump bail, join the army if you
 look out kid
 you're gonna get hit
 six-time losers hang around the
 girl by the
 lookin' for a
 don't follow
 watch the
 keep warm
 learn to dance, get dressed
 try to be a
 buy gifts, don't steal
 twenty years of schoolin' and they put you on the
 look out kid
 they keep it all
 better jump down a
 light yourself a candle. don't wear sandals, try to avoid the
 don't wanna be a
 you better
 the pump don't work 'cause


[if you aren't getting the reference, go check this out]