30 November 2008

bringing on the heartbreak

another great batch of cards from matt over at heartbreaking cards of staggering genius. it all started with the 2008 topps stadium club russell "russ" martin. sure, it's the same picture as on his topps chrome card, but it's still a good one. i don't know of anyone other than topps that refers to martin as "russ". i am pretty sure it's not a "bob" clemente thing, so what gives?

2008 topps stadium club clayton kershaw.
i think i have mcdonalds residue in my system that is older than kershaw. i hate those unis, by the way.

1989 upper deck rick demspey.
how old school is dempsey? he caught without all the gear...and he liked it!

1992 fleer lenny harris.
lenny is doing a good job here of trying to fit into the box that fleer has created. a couple slight adjustments to his feet, elbow and bat, and he will have done it.

1985 leaf pedro guerrero.
dang, 1985 was a monster year for pedro. 99 runs in 137 games. an ops+ of 181. 3rd in the mvp voting. you just couldn't contain him, as the photographer here found out. despite what i am sure was the fastest shutter speed possible, pedro still manages to be blurry.

2006 topps opening day opening day
sure it's redundant, but i don't know what else to call it. this is the view that longtime dodger scout mike brito enjoyed for every game, weilding his radar gun, wearing his fedora and chomping on his cigar.

2006 topps jose valentin.
no airbrushing attempt here. i admire jose for trying to take the sheffield stain off of the penguin's number 10. too bad valentin stunk up the joint during his time with the dodgers. he was coming off a 30 home run season, yet managed to bat only .170 and achieve an ops of only .591. yikes.

matt, a bunch of cards are headed your way - some royals, some diamond kings, some handlebar mustaches, and some pitchers that seemingly pitched forever. enjoy!

29 November 2008

happy birthday to you, vin scully, wherever you may be

today is vin scully's birthday. here he is shown with steve garvey on a 2004 fleer greats insert. i had heard at one time that there were dual autograph copies of this card, but i have yet to see one.

two of my favorite dodgers on one card. awesome.scully is simply amazing. did you know that in addition to his famous calls of the gibson homerun, game 6 of the 86 world series and the sandy koufax perfect game, he called 'the catch' (dwight clark, not willie mays) for cbs?

happy birthday, vin. thank you and god bless.

i follow a dodger fan site - dodger thoughts - and used to post there fairly often back during the 2005 season. jon weisman runs the site, and it is a fantastic community of dodger and baseball fans. anyway, eric neel from espn was preparing an article about scully and solicited input from the commenters at dodger thoughts.

here is what i sent eric and then posted on dodger thoughts.



Glad to be able to share and help. I apologize in advance for the verbosity.

Answering your first question - I don't know if his voice inspires thoughts for me separate from baseball, but it is certainly a catalyst for non-baseball related memories and reflections through the baseball related memories it conjures. Vin's voice is absolutely a connection between my present and my past (and hopefully, my future), all of which are much (although sometimes not too much) more than baseball. It takes me back to my youth in Santa Barbara county, and my college years in southern California. It reminds me of so many things, but, as I mentioned in my Dodger Thoughts post, the first things I think of when I hear his voice are the late (for a 8 or 9 year old) nights, spent sitting at the dining room table with my dad and his transistor radio, watching him finish some paperwork while Vin and Ross and Jerry told their tales. It also reminds me of my late grandmother, who didn't know much about baseball, but knew who Vin Scully was, and would always say "that must be ol' Vin Scully" when she would hear the radio broadcasts we were listening to. Of course, I am also reminded of the trips we made as a family to see the Dodgers play, and how we would always take the radio into Dodger Stadium with us (just like everyone else, it seemed). So, I suppose that his voice is a gateway to thoughts and memories for me beyond just the game of baseball itself.

Because of the connection I have with him and my past, there is definitely a safety and comfort factor that cannot be denied. Baseball is a sort of escape for me, I suppose, and hearing him call a game is about as safe and comfortable as I can imagine being for 3 or so hours. After moving from Orange County to Minneapolis (an American League town, for goodness sake) in 1997, I decided to road trip to see the Dodgers once a year. In 1998, I went to Wrigley for the first time, and I was more excited about seeing Vin again (even though I couldn't hear him) than I was about seeing the actual game. Last year, I went to Fenway, and was thrilled that he made the trip. He threw out the first pitch one night, and I got one of my favorite souvenirs from the trip - a picture of me, Sandy Koufax, and Vin. Granted, they are on the field in the background, and I am behind the dugout up in the stands, but still, we were in the frame together. Anyway, this is the first year since I moved here that I have purchased the indemand baseball package, and so have had the ability to hear him regularly, and the memories have been overwhelming at times. It has also given me the opportunity to introduce him to my 5 year old. I cannot tell you how stoked I was the other night to be sitting on the couch with my son at my side, watching Dodger baseball, and listening to Vin Scully.

Your second question is a great one. There are many things I enjoy, among them the daily greeting: "hello, and a very pleasant good evening to you, wherever you may be." this holds more meaning for me now that I am in Minnesota. There is also the way he (and the camera crews) find and describe the children in the stands. He always has kind words, and often something creative to say about the "tow headed youth" or the kid that lost his ice cream cone. It makes me wonder if I were one of those kids that he saw 28 years ago, and what did he have to say about me in my Steve Garvey shirt? I have also come to enjoy his mid game reminiscences of "this day in Dodger history", not just for the information he provides, but the way he smiles, sometimes winking, and says "let's get back to this one" when he's done. It's like we went to the kitchen to get a beer together, had a little conversation, and then realized the next inning was upon us. And then there are the stories he tells each night, the history lessons.

These are probably my favorite things that he provides. One reason I love the Dodgers is that it is easy to trace back from the team of my youth to the teams my dad followed, and even back to Brooklyn, in very few steps. For example, you could essentially go backwards from Russell to Wills (ignoring the time he spent with other teams in the late 60s) to Reese at shortstop. To get to Russell from Izturis would take a few more steps, to be sure. In the booth, however, there has been Vin Scully. He is the direct link that I have to the history of the team, and really, the game, that I love.

I have to add that I also love him for his ability to watch and call the game (fairly, I might add - no homers here), and tell his stories while at the same time being very attentive to the TV feed that the rest of us are watching. It's quite frustrating when the announcers are oblivious to what is appearing on TV, and Vin is able to incorporate what is being shown into whatever else he is describing. I am sure it is harder than it seems, given the fact that he is the only one I have seen who does this.

28 November 2008

taste the rainbow

just for fun, here is a post-apocalyptic 2007 topps turkey red card of elijah dukes.apparently, baseball will one day be played on barren pastures under rainbow skies.

mr. dukes is ready.

it's a play at the plate, literally

from 2007 topps turkey red, here is a card that has been given the very appropriate title 'play at the plate'.
joe crede sliding in, awaited by jorge posada (i assume).

i previously posted a card from this set titled 'turning two'.

i need to find out if they also produced a card titled 'dodger stadium in the background'.

27 November 2008

perfection on cardboard - the suspense of andy vanslyke

i love cards that capture the action of a baseball game. double plays and plays at the plate are two good examples. here is another one of my favorite cards.

it's a 1992 topps stadium club andy vanslyke.
gene lamont, the third base coach has done all he can. tim wallach, the third baseman, can only wait for the ball, and andy vanslyke has committed himself to the headfirst slide.

can't you feel the anticipation? are you on the edge of your seat? was he safe?

well, on july 7, 1991, andy vanslyke tried for a triple in the bottom of the first inning against the expos. he was thrown out 9-4-5.
the outcome, though, does not detract from the perfection of the card.
happy thanksgiving!

26 November 2008

so long, baseball card blog - i'm going to mis(cut) you!

well, if you don't know by now, ben henry is closing out his run at the baseball card blog by 're-enacting' the epic poem "casey at the bat" using baseball cards. it's quite fantastic.

if you have been a reader of his blog, you might know that he is a fan of miscuts. he has posted a few nice ones, too. so, as i was looking through some old 70s doubles, i came across these beauties and immediately thought of him.

1978 topps lou piniella and bob boone
what is interesting about these is that they are from the same sheet - sequential miscuts so to speak - so part of the boone card front is on the piniella card front, with a blue jays player joining boone.

flip the cards over, and you get alvis woods sneaking onto piniella's back, with piniella spilling over onto boone's.
so the fronts are miscut one way, and the backs are miscut the other way. right? weird.

i have no recollection as to how/when i acquired these cards. in a trade? a pack? who knows. but they are on their way to ben henry where they will be appreciated hopefully as much as i have appreciated his blog.

thanks ben!

2001 pacific also had a play at the plate

so, 2001 pacific gave us a number of double plays from that set showcased earlier, and now here's a play at the plate.
it's brad ausmus of the tigers going for the double-duty tag and stomp on mark grace of the cubs. thanks to baseballreference.com, i think this is from june 3, 2000 when grace was thrown out at home on a throw from bobby higginson.

interestingly enough, ausmus was in the leadoff spot that day and struck out 3 times. the tigers won, beating kerry wood despite a sammy sosa homerun.

incidentally, this was just an excuse to post a tigers card. i hadn't done that yet. coming soon - the rays and the nationals. the last two teams to be featured. anybody have any rays or nationals turning double plays?

25 November 2008

vaya a dar vuelta dos - 2001 pacific edition

or, in english, let's turn two!

i bought a lot of pacific product in 2000 and 2001. i thought they had some pretty good designs, some pretty wacky designs, and some good subsets and inserts. there was also the bonus of spanish text on the back of some of their products.

plus, there were a lot of double play shots in their sets. well, this one, at least.

alex arias doing the scissor kick at wrigley... ron belliard delivering a knee to the head (is that you, marvin benard?)
homer bush and his flamingo stance...
jay canizaro and the jerry lee lewis hop...
luis sojo posturing while derek jeter's face is obscured by a logo. the horror...
and eric young jumping with complete disregard for his safe return to earth. do you think he will really be able to get his feet back in front of him before he hits the ground?
this was an approach eric previously demonstrated on his 1999 upper deck card...
two points for consistency.

23 November 2008

big d gets his final tribute

i mentioned in a previous post that i wish topps had made a 1970 don drysdale card as a final tribute to his career. as it stands, the 1969 card was the last regular issue card made for big d.he started 12 games for the dodgers in 69, winning 5. and, while he is recognizable on the dodgers 1970 team card, his retirement apparently precluded him from being captured within the gray borders alone.

until today.

check out the 'shoulda been sunday' feature over at punk rock paint. it's awesome.

(update) here is the card that punk rock paint created. shhhhweeeeet.

going green by saving blue - now with stats on the back

i was just doing what i thought was right - keeping more trash out of a landfill - when i told mark at stats-on-the-back that i would give the dodgers he was going to throw out a good home.

it turns out that i was just being selfish. what a great lot of cards. a cornucopia of stars, semi-stars, and people who should have been happy to wear the uniform just once.

here's a sampling:

1990 donruss the rookies brian traxler

i am convinced that brian traxler won the farmer john eastern corn-fed pork dodgers sweepstakes and was alowed on the field during batting practice one day. he was able to convince the photographer that he was worthy of a shot with the right field pavilion of dodger stadium in the background. i mean, really. his helmet is number 20 and his jersey looks like 21 or 24. 24 was walter alston's (retired) and i believe mitch webster was number 20 at this time (it has since been retired in honor of don sutton). at any rate, nicely played brian traxler!

1996 upper deck collector's choice chan ho parkin the fall of 1995, the dodgers sent chan ho to the arizona fall league, apparently sponsored by avis, to learn how to pitch left handed. i mean, the card itself identifies him as a 'rhp' with a photo of him throwing (actually it doesn't look like he is throwing, does it?) left handed. oh, it's merely a reversed negative. great shades of dale murphy! too bad this isn't worth anything. except to me or a collector of chan ho park.

1970 topps super claude osteen
well, claude osteen's superiority may be debatable, but that is the name of the set of oversized cards issued by topps. they are on heavy stock, and apparently were sold in 3-card wax packs. the backs are identical to the regular 1970 set. this card is number 1 in the set, and apparently once was sold (or offered for sale) at the bargain price of 20 cents. awesome.

1993 upper deck lenny harrisif ever a card should be in 3-d, this is one of them. lenny flinging his helmet right at us. notice his position is listed as 'if'. lenny was half of the super utility unit the dodgers had in the early 90s (mike sharperson being the other half). too versatile to be labeled at any individual position. that was lenny.

1988 fleer tracy woodsontracy has a bit of an 'oompa-loompa' look to him because of the eyebrows. another 'infield' guy - tracy played mostly third base. i believe he caught the last out of game 4 of the 1988 world series. that's a better claim to fame than most people have, myself included.

2006 upper deck sandy alomar, jr. with eric gagne in the background.
i had completely forgotten that sandy alomar jr. played for the dodgers, and it was only a couple years ago. once russell martin came through, it was adios sandy. but we'll always have those summer nights.

yes, a 'grease' reference.

1993 donruss triple play tim wallach, todd worrell and jody reed this card kills me. it celebrates the new dodgers on board for 1993. worrell and wallach are on the front. jody reed is on the back. i am sure jody reed is a nice guy, but i am legally required to remind you that he is the reason the dodgers traded pedro martinez for delino deshields. once he (foolishly, as it turns out) rejected the dodgers' contract offer, fred claire sent pedro to montreal for a new second baseman. thus, jody reed is relegated to the proverbial backside of the baseball card that is dodger history.

thanks mark. at the very least, i have a 1978 topps tito fuentes and a 2008 ud masterpieces joba chamberlain for your sets headed your way.

22 November 2008

the curious case of dick green and the double play

dick green played second base for the kansas city/oakland a's from 1963 through 1974. this means he was a member of three world championship teams - 1972, 1973, and 1974.
i would guess (he was before my time) that he was a decent fielder whose job wasn't to hit - they had reggie and rudi and sal bando for that. in fact, he was a career .240 hitter with a .303 obp and a .347 slugging percentage. so it makes sense that he is shown here in the field, turning a double play, on his 1974 topps card.
the year before, dick appeared on what is perhaps my favorite double play card ever. the 1973 topps world series game 2 card.
this card features two hall of famers and two non-descript role players i guess you might say. johnny bench has slid into second and taken out dick green, but not before green was able to get the relay off to mike epstein at first. tony perez is legging it out, trying to beat the throw. and he did. still, a great effort by dick green. and by the person in the stands who took the picture.
unfortunately for dick, though, this is his 1973 topps card.all alone at second base, exhaling, dropping the throw. e-4.
thanks, topps.

21 November 2008

treasure never buried, but traded

i recently sent a bunch of 1990 topps to connor and jv over at treasure never buried. alas, i was not the one to finish of connor's set, but i helped.

in return, jv sent a bunch of 2008 allen & ginter my way to help with my set building. here's one of the cards i received.

mr. surly himself.
i don't think jeff will be back next year. i won't mind. still, he was a great second baseman in his prime, and will likely be in the hall of fame. which hat he will wear, who knows.

thanks jv and connor for your help. please know that i have been reading your blog for quite some time, and i enjoy it immensely.

saints of the cheap seats brings some heat

dan at saints of the cheap seats sent me some cards. they are awesome. many i had never seen before. check out some of the bounty.

2008 topps finest russell martin.
sometimes topps calls him 'russ' and sometimes 'russell'. thankfully, no one calls him 'r-mart'.

2008 topps finest andruw jones.
his baggy uniform and stance makes his head look small. plus, he has a nightwing kind of mask on. yes, i used to read comic books. especially marv wolfman/george perez collaborations. and alan moore.

1998 donruss preferred checklist paul konerko.
paul is standing on the set of the pauly shore classic 'bio-dome'. it has konerko listed as a 3b, and he has the glove to prove it. i thought he was a catcher in the minors. anyway, he wasn't a dodger for long.

1995 score summit edition billy ashley.
i enjoy saying his name as victor newman would. 'ashhhley'. come on. you know who victor newman is. ashley was the prototypical aaaa player. good ol' pcl.

2008 allen & ginter delwyn young jersey.nice. it will be tough for delwyn to break into the outfield these days, especially if manny returns, but he can hit the ball real hard. i am more and more reminded of the dodgers of the early 70s and 80s with all this young talent. hopefully young brings us something useful when ned decides to trade him.

another young, this time 2008 topps finest delmon.according to the local scribes, delmon was kind of a bust for the twinkies this year, but he's young and i really hope he picks it up next year.

2003 topps matt stairs.
for my set. awesome. this post season, matt joined the likes of bobby thomson, joe morgan, jack clark and ozzie smith as long ball hitting dodger killers. he is the only one, though, who looks like he is in the local d-level softball beer league.

there were a lot more great cards. thanks dan! i have a stack headed your way in return.

20 November 2008

let's bat around with steve garvey

i won’t go into the history and back story now, but know that i went from a set collector (topps) to a set (topps, fleer, donruss) and team collector (dodgers) and then/now a set (topps and other sets as they caught my eye), team (dodgers), and player collector. my main player target was and is steve garvey, and i had all of the topps, fleer, and donruss issues, along with a kellogg’s or two. life was good.

then came ebay. this was and is the single most significant thing that has happened, for me, in the hobby since i started collecting. in late 1998 i saw (in beckett, i believe) a 1995 upper deck sp championship card featuring kirk gibson commemorating his 1988 world series game 1 homer (i posted about this here). the local card store didn’t have it but suggested something called ebay. i looked and there it was. awesome. what would happen if i typed in ‘steve garvey’? wow. i had no idea there were so many cards made after he retired, and even while he was playing. i went crazy. the first card i bought on ebay was a 1999 upper deck retro incredible auto, which i wrote about here.

so, using ebay, i started buying garvey cards left and right – competing with the 4 or 5 other garvey collectors. book value? meaningless. our mutual desires drove the prices way up, and manufacturers began issuing more cards of former players like garvey, including relics, autos, parallels. i wanted them all and darn near bought them all. i spent $250 on a 2001 leaf certified garvey jersey # 6/6 (his jersey number!).yes, i was one of those collectors. while this card remains one of my jewels – (i think it is perfection on cardboard. i mean, just look at the red wool! it’s from an early 70s jersey, and from the red number on the front of the dodgers jerseys, which has always been my favorite part of their uniform) it is also one of the cards that reminds me of what is bad about the hobby. why do we need parallels? especially ones that are exactly the same as the base except for a serial number and maybe the color of the border? well, the answer is we don’t. but i thought i did.

i also bought other cards i liked, whether they were dodgers or not. the sheer volume of cards that existed, and being able to access so many of them was intoxicating. it got to be ridiculous, though. even just focusing on steve garvey was difficult. there was the base. base parallel. jersey. jersey/bat. jersey/bat auto. patch. patch/auto.and then the signatures were different. some were just ‘steve garvey’. some were ‘steve garvey #6’. some were ‘steve garvey 1974 mvp’ and so on and so on. i even have one he signed 'popeye'.pretty soon, my favorite player was driving me away from the hobby.

after a self imposed hiatus, i returned. wiser. i realized that it wasn’t steve garvey driving me from the hobby, obviously. it wasn’t even the manufacturers who were making all these cards. it was me and my collecting habits. i decided to be more focused. more selective. i have all the topps sets from 1978 on, with the exception of the 2003 and 2007 sets i am still working on. i still collect dodgers – i have all the topps team sets from 1970 on, and many many more from every conceivable manufacturer (i think). i have over 500 different steve garvey cards, and just bought the latest – 2008 donruss threads.i no longer go after all the parallels. i buy a few packs or a blaster here and there, and will collect a set or two if they strike me as being worthwhile (like 2008 allen & ginter). i am trying to streamline my collection to only the cards that i enjoy – all the others are available for someone else to enjoy. so feel free to contact me for a specific team, set, or player and i will see what i can do.

i won’t stop collecting again, because i understand that i can collect on my terms and not those of the manufacturers’. even with ebay - the best and worst thing to happen to the collector in me.

staggering trade with heartbreaking genius

thanks to matt for sending a bunch of great cards. i had sent him some royals, horseshoe mustaches and other stuff. let's check out a few cards he sent back.

first, a 2007 topps turkey red checklist. it's titled 'turning two' which is awesome in and of itself. hanley ramirez and jose/danny/some other bautista. looks like ramirez is blowing a bubble while turning two. too cool.

next, 2008 allen & ginter mini clayton kershaw. it's an a&g back, too. when i think of kershaw i think of how he made vin scully laugh during spring training. an incredible curve ball to freeze sean casey for strike 3 and scully chuckled about it. i love that vin scully still enjoys the game so much. if kershaw doesn't pan out, i will have to try to think of rick monday or some other lesser broadcaster instead.

2008 topps chrome russell martin. this is the card that motivated me to buy a box of chrome this year. it's a great play at the plate shot, and it's a different shot than his regular 2008 topps card.

2008 topps chrome xfractor francisco liriano. little tiny squares! growing out of my card! (poor cosby reference). i carried liriano all season on one of my fantasy teams, taking up a roster spot while the twins chose not to promote him. it was a keeper league, so hopefully it pays off.

1995 topps stadium club kirby puckett. how good was kirby. i moved here in 97 so didn't see him play, although i did see him at a couple of twins events. i am a bit concerned about how small his helmet seems to be in this picture. kind of 'bonds-ian'.
tor-ii hunter! clap clap clapclapclap! 2006 bowman heritage bat card. matt threw in a couple of other game used cards, including johan and jacquejones. it sounds better if you say his name as one word.
a great lot of cards. thanks matt!