30 June 2010

a.g. day

i made the mistake of having my box of 2010 allen & ginter delivered to my work address.  i will be constantly checking over my shoulder for the mail cart guy.  even worse, i must maintain some semblance of order as i am a participant in gint-a-cuffs this year.  no pack ripping willy-nilly business.  i have avoided searching for singles on ebay, and really don't have too much of a clue what all to expect.

last year i didn't bother with the base set, but i did complet the national pride insert set.  i though it was great, even though russell martin and the mighty maple leaf were not included.  i can't wait to see what 2010 has to offer. 
and now, i say unto you in the words of hiroki kuroda, 'allez cuisine'!

29 June 2010

gott is good

i have recently been re-reading george will's 'men at work' and had forgotten that the section on pitching (which centers on orel hershiser) also includes a fair amount of discussion surrounding jim gott. gott's appearance in the book figures into the emergence of the closer and how that impacts the game. at any rate, i was prompted to scan and post the many ttm successes i have had from jim gott in the past year or so. he's a good signer with a great signature, plus he has a ton of dodger cards, so he was a no-brainer for multiple requests. we'll start, however, with a non-dodger card, his 1984 fleer card:
 gott as a blue jay, looking kind of like donald sutherland in 'invasion of the body snatchers'. gott recorded the first two saves of his career in 1984, the same year he pitched his third and final career shutout. the transition from starter to reliever was just beginning, however, as he spent 1985 with the giants exclusively as a starter.

here's his 1990 upper deck card:
1990 was his first year with the dodgers. he bounced back from injury to go 3 and 5 with a 2.90 era and 3 saves. jay howell was still the primary closer for the dodgers, but gott was in the mix, along with tim crews and don aase.

1991 topps:
and 1991 upper deck:
a great dodger stadium shot on the upper deck card. in 1991, gott had another good year. he went 4 and 3 with 2 saves and a 2.96 era. jay howell was still the 9th inning guy, with gott, crews and roger mcdowell also filling in.

1992 pinnacle:
1992 topps:
if you recall, gott's 1985 o-pee-chee and topps cards mention his fondness for hapikido karate. 1992 pinnacle took things a bit further. very bad ass. with the dodgers in 1992, gott lowered his era to 2.45, won half of his 6 decisions, and registered 6 saves, all for a very bad dodger team. mcdowell took over the primary closing duties, but howell was still around, along with john candelaria, to pick up a few saves as well.

1993 topps:
1993 upper deck:
1993 was the year gott took over as closer. he saved 25 games for the dodgers as they climbed back to .500. he also lowered his era (again) to 2.32, and won 4 games. mcdowell and newcomer todd worrell also saved a few games that year. worrell, in fact, assumed the closer duties late in september, leaving little doubt who would be the primary closer in 1994.

1994 topps:
1994 upper deck:
another nice dodger stadium shot by upper deck. with worrell closing, gott was back in setup mode for the 1994 dodgers where he was joined in the saves mix by darren dreifort. gott's era ballooned to 5.94 in 37 games. he went 5 and 3 with 2 saves, but clearly was not as effective as he had been in his first 4 years with the dodgers, and he left the team as a free agent after the season ended.

1995 score:
1995 topps:
gott signed with the pirates for the 1995 season, but he did not enjoy a return to the form he displayed in the 34 save 1988 season he had his first time around in pittsburgh. instead, he posted a 6.03 era with 3 saves and 2 wins against 4 losses behind their closer dan miceli in his final big league season.

here's to you, jim gott! and thanks for signing all of these cards!

27 June 2010

here's to the current 'out of place guy'

i need to complete the 'evolution of the out of place guy' post from a long time ago.  there have been many since don stanhouse, and it's not fair to ignore their forgotten dodger tenures.  or maybe it is.  anyway, here's the current oopg, garret anderson on a 2010 goose joak original i made.
the photo comes from the june 2 game against the diamondbacks in which anderson hit a walk off single in the bottom of the 14th inning to break a scoreless tie.  it was an exciting moment for sure.  however, anderson was hitting just .157 after that game.

back in december when juan pierre was traded, i noted sarcastically that ga was still available should ned want to waste some resources.  incredibly, he did, and ga was signed to a contract.  he's doing a bit better now (average is up to .191) but we are left to wonder for how long anderson will remain with the team, although it seems like we are lacking other backup right field options.

he had some great and solid years for the angels, and i enjoyed watching him play when he was in his prime.  i even got him to sign and return a 2001 topps card (sandwiched in between nolan ryan and bob boone) for me
i hope the upward trend in his performance continues.  thanks garret, and good luck!

26 June 2010

and look who's coming up...

apologies in advance for stealing vin's classic intro to kirk gibson's 1988 world series at bat, but i heard yesterday that the twins sent down infielder brendan harris to aaa, and called up former dodger jason repko.  it just so happens that jason recently signed and returned the 2006 upper deck card i sent him
i hope repko gets a shot, although the twins outfield is pretty well set with jason kubel/delmon young in left, denard span in center and michael cuddyer in right.  i am guessing this means that cuddyer will be playing more infield in the coming weeks, but even with him vacating a spot in the outfield, we have to remember that jim thome will get at-bats as the dh so kubel will likely play ahead of repko in the outfield on those days.  plus, repko is a true centerfielder, and span has that spot pretty well covered.

still, repko has been injured and rehabbed so much during his career that he deserves a healthy stretch.  in 2006 he was hitting over .300 as a key component of the dodgers' outfield rotation when he was injured and missed a couple of months.  when he returned, he wasn't as effective, nor was he used as regularly.  i remember that he hit a home run in his first at bat at dodger stadium (against the giants, no less), so he was instantly one of the guys you root for - kind of the dodgers' scrappy underdog.

thanks jason, and good luck in twins territory.

23 June 2010

i'd recognize those muttonchops anywhere...

that's got to be george foster lurking in jack fimple's 1984 topps card, right?
this photo would be from either august 29, 1983 or august 30, 1983 when fimple caught each of the first games of back-to-back doubleheaders at shea.

fimple was one of the players the dodgers got from the indians in the rick sutcliffe deal.  he backed up scioscia and yeager, getting most of his playing time while scioscia was hurt in 1983.

foster played more games against the dodgers than any other team, and, while he didn't put up his best numbers when facing the dodgers (sorry atlanta), it sure seemed like it.  in 1978, the year i first really followed the dodgers, he hit .329 against the blue with 6 home runs and 16 rbi.  3 of those home runs came off of charlie hough and 2 were courtesy of don sutton.  for his career, foster hit more home runs off of bob welch (6) than anyone else.  also high on his hit list were sutton (5) and doug rau (5), so you'll understand why i get nervous seeing 'the destroyer' lurking on a dodger card.

watch out jack fimple!

21 June 2010

rick rhoden through the mail success!

the third time was a charm when it came to a rick rhoden through the mail success. he was one of the first dodgers i targeted when i started my modest 1978 topps dodger autograph project, sending 1978 topps and o-pee-chee cards to his home address. after waiting for a few months, i tried sending just a 1978 topps card c/o the dodgers. still nothing. so, i sent another 1978 topps card to his home address, this time with a modest donation. bingo. and it took just 10 days!  here is the 1978 topps card i received back:
but that wasn't all. rhoden also sent his 1976 topps card
1977 topps card
1987 donruss diamond king card
and 1988 topps card
awesome! and i was worried i was going to have to start attending golf tournaments in the hopes of getting his autograph. 

as much as i like jerry reuss, i was upset when the dodgers sent rhoden to the pirates in that trade on the eve of the 1979 season. reuss was disappointing in his first year as a dodger, and rhoden was unfortunately sidelined that same season (except for one start) with bone spurs. still, rhoden wound up spending 8 seasons with the pirates, most of which were pretty good considering the teams the pirates put on the field after winning the world series in 1979. he finished 6th in the cy young voting in his final year in pittsburgh (1986), the same year he made the all star team and won his third consecutive silver slugger award.

as the silver slugger awards would indicate, rhoden was one of the better hitting pitchers in the big leagues. even after he was traded to the american league in 1987, he was used once as the designated hitter by billy martin, driving in a run with a sacrifice fly. for his career, rhoden was a .238 hitter with 9 home runs and 75 rbi. these days, rhoden is playing golf, and playing well.

this is the 27th card in my modest 1978 topps dodger autograph project (ed goodson, where are you?). 

here's the tally

team card (red adams) - through the mail success!
team card (mark cresse) - through the mail success!
team card (boog powell) - through the mail success!
dusty baker - through the mail success!
glenn burke
ron cey - through the mail success!
vic davalillo - ebay success!
terry forster - ebay success!
mike garman - through the mail success!
steve garvey - through the mail success!
ed goodson
jerry grote - through the mail success!
burt hooton - through the mail success!
charlie hough - through the mail success!
tommy john - in person/through the mail success!
lee lacy - through the mail success!
tom lasorda - ebay success!
dave lopes - through the mail success!
ted martinez - ebay success!
rick monday - in person/through the mail success!
manny mota - through the mail success!
johnny oates - ebay success!
doug rau - through the mail success!
lance rautzhan - through the mail success!
rick rhoden - through the mail success!
bill russell - through the mail success!
reggie smith - through the mail success!
elias sosa - through the mail success!
don sutton - through the mail success!
steve yeager - ebay success!
nlcs (davey lopes) - through the mail success!

 27/29 = 93%

 thanks rick!

19 June 2010

the extreme closeup is nothing new

i was one of those folks who wondered why in the world upper deck used so many tightly cropped portrait shots in their 2009 o-pee-chee release.  cards like this garret anderson seemed to be so 'mug shot'-esque and out of place in the baseball card world.
well, i was looking through a few of my binders, and found that upper deck is not alone in their use of the extreme closeup.  here's a 1957 topps gino cimoli card to prove that point:
topps didn't even let us see gino's whole face, blocking his chin with text.  it's almost as if the photographer were looking for bats in the cave.

then there's this 1958 topps randy jackson

we get to see all of randy's face, but that's about it.  the dodgers' logo looks like a big chip on his shoulder, too.

fast forward to 1992, and the extreme closeup on chris gwynn's o-pee-chee card reveals a sweaty temple.
the hatless extreme closeup is pretty much worthless on a baseball card.  worthless.

finally, i'll show off todd hollandsworth on his 1998 upper deck collector's choice card
this may well be the most extreme closeup ever used on a baseball card. we only get about 2/3 of hollandsworth's head for goodness sakes. 

so, i apologize to you 2009 upper deck o-pee-chee.  you were not bucking tradition with your extreme closeups.  still, would it have been so hard to use the upper torso/posed swing images instead?

jason phillips through the mail success (sans marriage proposal)

so it wasn't exactly a marriage proposal former dodgers' catcher jason phillips threw into the stands at safeco last year, but i'm glad all he sent me were my cards back - signed.

first up is his 2005 topps update & highlights card
followed by his 2006 topps base card
not only are the cards sequential, but the pictures are as well.  kind of like the 1993 topps traded/1994 topps mike piazza cards that were such a disappointment to me. 

i remember phillips fondly, as he was the guy the dodgers got in return for kazuhisa ishii during spring training 2005.  jim tracy used phillips as the team's primary catcher over dioner navarro, and sometimes played him at first base over hee seop choi.  he was one of tracy's 'ja(y)son brigade' - along with werth, repko and grabowski - that found substantial playing time in a most disappointing season as the 2005 dodgers defended their nl west crown by losing 91 games.  still, phillips made some good memories during his one year in la, including his first home run as a dodger - a grand slam against the reds that came on a day he went 4 for 5 with 3 runs scored.

here's to you, jason - good luck and thanks! 

18 June 2010

a tale of one city

or, more precisely, one geographic area.  ('they live work and play in a town called la - west coast of the us of a...i love living in los angeles' - anyone else remember translator?)  anyway, it's an unlicensed 1997 card of lakers guard kobe bryant and a very young dodger prospect named adrian beltre from the scoreboard.
the back is chock full of information about the local sports scene in the four majors - baseball, basketball, football and hockey.
as you can see, there was plenty of futility for la area sports to go along with the triumphs through 1997 when this card was printed.  since then, there have been a few changes, most recently the lakers' nba championship won last night.  sadly, the dodgers' column doesn't get updated.  still, i figured it was worthwhile to update to reflect the current status of la sports.
first of all, two of the team names have changed.  we now have the 'los angeles angels of anaheim' and the 'anaheim ducks'.  they're both second fiddle teams, so who cares, right?  next, we have to update the latest championships for the angels (2002), the lakers (2010), and the ducks (2007).  sadly, no change for the dodgers or the kings.  or the clippers, but no one cares about them.  also, there is still no football in la.

the final change (i'm not going to research radio outlets, and the legendary athletes still make sense as does disneyland) is related to the stadiums.  the dodgers are the only ones who still play in the same place they did in 1997.  or, to clarify, the place in which they play still has the same name.  the angels' stadium has had two name changes since then (first edison field, now angels stadium of anaheim) and the ducks' home has been renamed 'honda center'.  the lakers, clippers, and kings all moved to the staples center in 1999.

i am hoping this card can be updated again in early november...

17 June 2010

he doesn't always attend dodger games...

but when he does, he trusts in the beard.
the dodgers recently had jonathan goldsmith, 'the most interesting man in the world', throw out the first pitch, and their team photographer, jon soohoo, captured a pregame image of goldsmith and casey blake for posterity.  soohoo's blog is great, with some awesome photos that i will likely use for more 2010 goose joak originals.  hope he doesn't mind.

stay blue, my friends.

1978 topps bill north - the card that should have been

i mentioned a while back that i am creating my own 1978 topps burger king/update kind of set, featuring all of the players who appeared in a game for the 1977 and/or 1978 dodgers who did not appear (as a dodger) on a 1978 topps card.

one such player is bill north.
i used a photo from steve's baseball photography pages, and i think it turned out great - especially given the fact that you can see dodger stadium's right field pavilion and scoreboard in the background.

i also created a back, which was pretty easy since north was already in the 1978 set.  just a couple of text changes and i was done.
here's north's actual 1978 topps card - big smile, and a whole lotta yellow:
the dodgers acquired north in may of 1978 for glenn burke.  he underperformed in la, and left as a free agent, heading back to the bay area (this time with the giants) for the 1979 season.  as a dodger, he scored 54 runs in 110 games, stole 27 bases, and managed to get on base at a .371 clip, but his slugging percentage was an anemic .266.  of his 71 hits, only 10 were for extra bases and those were all doubles.  he went 0 for 8 in the 1978 nlcs against the phillies, and 1 for 8 that same year in the world series against the yankees.  not surprising, i guess, as in 59 career post season at bats, north had just 3 hits.  still, he was the dodgers' primary center fielder during his brief stay, and for that i salute him.

i'm keeping a running checklist of the cards i have created for this set over on the right sidebar. check 'em out and let me know what you think!

here's to you 1978 topps bill north - the card that should have been!

16 June 2010

len gabrielson through the mail success!

posting that 1967 topps len gabrielson (and sweet sketch card) that mark sent me earlier today reminded me that i had received a signed card from gabrielson earlier this year.  here it is, his 1970 topps card in all of its ttm success glory:
a second generation major leaguer, gabrielson played for the dodgers for most of the 1967 season, and all of 1968, 1969, and 1970, although the number of at bats he got varied from year to year.  despite it being the 'year of the pitcher', he set career highs in doubles, home runs, and rbi in 1968 when he played in 108 games.  in fact, his 10 home runs that year were the most by any player on the dodgers.  in addition, his .270 batting average was second best on the dodgers that year, next to tom haller's .285 mark.

in 1970, gabrielson saw limited action and hit just .190 in what would be his final season in the big leagues.  while he made an out in his final two at bats, his third to last plate appearance resulted in a game tying single in the bottom of the 9th against the giants.

thanks len!

what is the most interesting thing about this card?

it's a 1986 fleer 'superstar special' (as i type that, i hear it in a howard cosell type voice - in the same way he used to say 'television spectacular'.  if you've never heard his rant about running out of time to make a tv gig, you are missing out) nl west sluggers card featuring dale murphy, steve garvey, and dave parker.
there are many possibilities as to what the most interesting thing about the card may be.  here are some options:
  1. none of the three card subjects are looking at the camera
  2. steve garvey is comparatively short
  3. although he hit 272 home runs in his career, i don't think anyone really considered steve garvey a 'slugger'
  4. with 4 mvp awards between them, along with everything else, none of the three guys are in the hall of fame.  was there any kid growing up in the late 70's/early 80's that didn't think at least one of these guys would be in cooperstown by now?
  5. the braves and reds were once in the nl west
  6. this picture was taken prior to the 1985 all star game, which means the background is that of the hubert h. humphrey metrodome!
  7. this picture was taken prior to the 1985 all star game, and features three participants (one unlikely) of the first official all star home run derby (parker won with 6, murphy had 4 and garvey tied jack clark and ryne sandberg with 2.  ripken jr brought up the rear with 1).
  8. i got this card for free, just by asking for it!
 that's right.  mark at stats on the back is in the midst of a card giveaway, and i claimed the stack of garvey cards.  for free.  well, actually i did send mark some mets and chicle from his want lists (and have one other card to send for his hof want list) but per the rules, i am only required to send 1 card.  here's some of the other stuff i claimed:

1967 topps len gabrielson (sketch card was a bonus!)
that's a good likeness.  gabrielson eventually made his way across town to the dodgers early in the 1967 season via a trade.

a big ol' stack of torii hunter cards, including this 2008 upper deck first edition card
 and a 2007 topps heritage rafael furcal sp 
mark also included a host of dodger cards, like this 2003 fleer fall classic don drysdale 
 this is quite an eclectic set, with different designs used within the set.  it's confusing, really.

2008 upper deck jeff kent infield power
 i had not seen this insert set before.  i wasn't missing much.

2002 donruss originals kazuhisa ishii
 donruss should have known that they didn't have rated rookies in 1982.  ishii was a good choice for a rated rookie, though - he was pretty much a bust just like so many of their other choices through the years.

there you have it - some of my haul from the stats on the back 'trade post' series.

thanks mark!

15 June 2010

on target field

let it be known that i will add 'cards featuring target field' to my list of cards i collect.  it really is a great ballpark and visually pleasing as well.  one of the most recognizable aspects of it (akin to the glove and coke bottle in san francisco) is the 'minny and paul' structure in centerfield.
despite wearing their pants kind of low, these guys are pretty cool.  after a twins home run, the thing lights up and it looks like they are shaking hands.  not quite as entertaining as this commercial, but still a nice touch.

upper deck has actually already featured target field on a card:
too bad they couldn't get an internal shot, but i am guessing this was taken well before the seats were completed.  there's no snow, so it must have been taken last fall.  it's not too often that concrete median barrier is featured on a baseball card...
so, we can go ahead and forget the metrodome, as this should be one of the last cards produced that features a photo taken under it's roof:
i've been to a few games already, including the first rain out in target field history.
here's a 2010 goose joak original of justin morneau using one of the pictures i took at one of the games.
you can kind of tell that the seating is more vertical than it was at the metrodome, so you feel closer to the action.  this photo was taken from the second level with a decent zoom.the views all around the stadium are good, there are a few obstructed seats but plenty of standing room in the concourse, and almost the entire stadium is accessible to anyone with a ticket which is nice.

there are a lot of nice touches around the stadium - the statues of killebrew, carew, and puckett; the gold glove on the plaza; the murals of former players throughout; and even the 1961 - 2009 topps cards screened onto the fence on the north side of the property featuring former and current players.  my favorites - 1965 jimmie hall and 1980 ken landreaux.

it's definitely worth a trip!