Saturday, February 28, 2009

Card Show

I went to the Charlotte Toy and Hobby show today with Christopher. He was very well behaved and got a Tom 'the Mongoose' McEwen Hot Wheels Funny Car. The place was MUCH busier than the card show I went to at the end of December. For a $5.00 entry fee, I was able to walk around and spend some time with my boy and talk to some people. P.A. instructed me to go with the sole purpose of getting the 1955 Sandy Koufax that I needed. I didn't disappoint. For a 'steal' I was able to get my hands on the Koufax and 19 other cards I needed for my set. As they say, its all down hill from here!

I was also able to get a G Duke Snider, I pretty much jumped on it because all the ones I had seen on ebay were going pretty high and they aren't the easiest cards to come across. Since I am not too hung up on 'grade' I figured I should go ahead and get it while it was at a price I could afford.

So, now, as it stands, these are the STARS I still need for this set: #47- Hank Aaron, #125- Ken Boyer RC, #166- Hank Bauer, #189- Phil Rizzuto and #194- Willie Mays. Obviously, I still need some common players and several high numbers, but this set is just about done!!!

Set Complete: 1983 Topps

Like 2001 Topps, for some reason, i had a hard time finding lots of commons for this set. I kept chipping away by going with my buddy Corbin to AAA Collectibles in Matthews. I got the final 7 in from sportlots yesterday.

Set Complete: 2001 Topps

I began this set a while back when I bought a tub of cards from a kid I worked with when I was still with my previous employer. For some reason, it is very hard to find commons of this set, along with the other set I completed today... Anyway, I bought 2 wax boxes of 2001 Topps from and was able to knock off quite a few. I then got several from AAA Collectibles in Matthews, and finally got the last 15 or so in yesterday from sportlots.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The future is WOW

Worst blog title ever...
After P.A. told me that SI gave the Orioles an offseason grade of C-, I began thinking about the group of young players they have assembled for Spring Training and the fact that the O's have extended Brian Roberts and Nick The Stick's contract's, I would give them an A. I am more excited about this year's spring training that I have ever been. I'm not expecting the Orioles to contend this year, but I do know that a fre years from now when they WIN the world series, they will be pointing back to this offseason as what got them there.
Anyway, I went through some of my O's cards and pulled some of the guys who I think will be there when the O's do pick up a ring...
Brian Roberts:
Yes, I'm biased, but he IS my favorite player right now. I predict he'll have a good season this year, with probably a .290 avg, 40 sbs and 48 doubles. Not bad for a leadoff hitter, huh? Of course he won't be elected to the all star team because all the Yankee fans will vote for Robinson Cano and his .240 average and you know Pedroia will be WAY up there too.

Nick Markakis: Can gun down Ichiro at home plate at Camden Yards from the Eiffel Tower. Man he has a cannon for an arm. I think he'll have a breakout year by hitting 30+ homers, making his first all star team and winning his first Gold Glove....

Adam Jones: Another potential gold glover in the O's outfield. He will hopefully hit 25+ homers this year, along with stealing 35+ bases. I anticipate that he will be the #2 hitter behind Roberts, so I think he'll get quite a few RBIs this year as well. I am still amazed that the Orioles were able to get Jones, Sherrill and others from Seattle for Bedard. Also, Bedard may be back next year... Without having to give up anything at all. Not too bad. I give the O's an A++++ for that trade.

Brandon Snyder: Unless he really surprises someone, he won't make the squad this year out of Spring Training and most likely will start at Double A Bowie. Probably one of the nicer prosects in the game, I met Snyder last year when i took Christopher to his first game, a Winston-Salem Warthogs vs Frederick Keys game in April. Snyder gave Chris a used baseball out of his bag and signed it for Chris who was crying because I wouldn't let him pick up trash from the ground at the stadium. Snyder then took the ball and had some guy named Matt Wieters sign it as well... I really hope Brandon Snyder makes it, if not only for the sentimental reasons, because he is beginning to show that he can hit pro pitching and is starting to make a name for himself in the minors.

Jake Arrieta: Like Brandon Snyder, most likely won't make the team out of ST but will definitely be seen in the majors this year. Arrieta is a STUD. P.A. and I hope to catch some Durham Bulls vs Norfolk Tides games this summer and see Arrieta in action. From what I have read on Roch Kubatko's blog on (read it!), Arrieta is looking great so far. He may surprise and make the rotation, but I doubt it. I think he will log some innings in Norfolk and be called up after May. Look for this guy to be a star in the years to come.

Matt Wieters: Never heard of this guy before. Destined to be a #9 hitter... haha. No, really, I'm definitely not being serious.
I have seen him in 2 different games so far and man can this guy hit. He's a big boy too. We met him in April through Brandon Snyder. I took my little brother Andy, my Mom, my wife (devil woman... oops, Mallory), my sister Christy, my son Chris (who was 2 at the time), my neice Alexis and my neice Grace, to a game in April and we all met Brandon Snyder. I had gone to the game mainly because the past 3 O's #1 picks at the time were all playing for Frederick (Snyder, Billy Rowell and Wieters). Brandon Snyder was signing autographs at the dugout and signed balls for all of us. I was interested in getting Rowell's auto as well (but he wasnt there due to injury) and asked Brandon if he was around. He said 'No, but Matt Weiters is sitting right there.' I said, really? He said, 'Yep, THE Matt Wieters.' So he called him over and had him sign balls for us as well.
We, then, got Wieters' auto again in Baltimore this past July when he was playing for Bowie. He was doing a signing along with Chris Tillman (another STUD and piece of the Bedard trade) at Sports Legends beside the Warehouse in Baltimore. He is ranked the #1 prospect n baseball. I sure hope he lives up to the hype! I can't wait to see him in the majors.
What do you think, guys? This was kind of fun. I am more stoked about the future of the clob than I have been in a long time. Who needs Tex and CC? The O's are taking the Tampa and Twins approach and building from within, which, to me, means a lot more because you can see the players grown up with the team and you grow a better attachment with them. I think it means more.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Something new and other thoughts.

When i rolled in from Greenville Friday evening, I had a new Brian Roberts card in my mailbox to celebrate his signing a 4-year extension with the Orioles. I'm so excited, I can't stand it. All you O haters out there (cough cough Pete) better look out. The Orioles may not win it all, but they are for darn sure going to give the Rays, Yankees and Sawx headaches this year. Come on Opening Day!!!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Roid Rage?

I didn't want to, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to weigh in on the whole steroid issue.

Was I surprised A-Rod was busted for steroids? Absolutely not. You pretty much have to assume that most, if not all of the players who played during the 'Steroid Era' had at least tried steroids. I'm not really buying his excuse, but really, what do I care about why he did it? He did it, pure and simple. Do I forgive him? Absolutely.

Steroids are illegal. Pure and simple. So is smoking pot. It was hilarious to me that Michael Phelps was caught hitting a bong drunk out of his mind, forgetting (which pot makes you do, I'm told) that EVERYONE has a camera phone nowadays. Speeding is illegal. Hiring illegal aliens is illegal. Speeding while buying pot from a roided up illegal alien is illegal. These are all things that we as Americans do. I would be a liar and a hypocrite if I said that I never broke a law (if you know me well enough, you know that I have done so and what was done...).

Now, anyone that knows me well enough, knows that I have a great disdain for Barry Bonds. I think he is a douche sandwich. Always have, always will. I do not like to recognize that he is the home run king, but, sadly, he is. He was one of the greatest players of his 'Era'. Like it or not. Same goes for A-Rod.

We all know that A-Rod doing steroids was stupid and he had the best natural talent since an uninjured Ken Griffey, Jr. We all should also realize that baseball players are very afraid of the next big thing to come along and take their job.

Everyone knows that my favorite current player is Brian Roberts. It is because of him that I cannot crucify Bonds, McGwire, Palmeiro, A-Rod, etc... Roberts admitted to steriod use last year when his name was mentioned in the Mitchell report. It broke my heart then because all of my friends who did not like baseball saw his name in there and said 'wait, isn't that... yeah... what do you think?' I believe his confession and will as long as he stays clean. How do we know that? We don't.

Roberts was in a position battle for the 2nd base job for the 2003 Orioles with Jerry Hairston (one of his close friends) who was also named in the Mitchell report. Larry Bigbie (also named in the report) was also a close friend of Roberts, he even roomed with him at David Segui's (named in the Mitchell report) house. Now, if I were working my ass off and were trying to make a team, where if I make it, my family can potentially be set up for life, and if I don't make it, I'm most likely flipping burgers or selling used cars, etc. and I see that the guy who I am in a position battle with is doing something that is making him better stronger faster... then you know that I'm going to work harder to keep up. There comes a point in time when the human body functioning on its own natual processes cannot keep up with the latest greatest thing out there, and you break down and either 1. give up, or 2. you keep up.

I'm not saying this is the right mentality, but it makes perfect sense. Do I blame Roberts? Hell no. Ok, well, then who is to blame? I am.

I am to blame for the whole thing. It was me, your honor, the one who was vehemently cursing Jeffrey Maier when he pulled the ball out of Tony Tarasco's glove. Me who fell in love with the game because a guy named Cal was so good at what he did that he never took a day off for 16 years. Me who was just as guilty as the rest of us for being captivated by the behemoth sluggers who brought the game back from the brink of disaster in 1998. My passion as a fan is what drove these guys to do whatever it took to stay on that field for one more season. For one more day in the sun. So they could be posters on some kid's wall.

I understand what would drive someone to do such a thing. I understand A-Rod. I'm not happy about it, but I'll get over it. I forgave Brian Roberts a long time ago. I forgive you too.

Competitive advantage is such a crock. I remember seeing a commercial with Don Mattingly when i was a kid saying that the most difficult thing to do is hit a round ball with a round bat while it is coming 90+ miles an hour at maybe your head...

To put up 500+ home runs, you still have to HIT the ball. Ask my brothers... I was a shitty ball player. What I wouldn't give though to be able to play. As much as I dislike Barry Bonds, I respect him for all that he has been able to do in hs career. He hit the ball 2,900+ times. Steroids or not, thats difficult to do. Ok, so, maybe the steroids made maybe 150 of his doubles into home runs... Maybe, you can't prove it. Maybe his homeruns, instead of being 440 feet went 460 because of roids. I don't know that either. You still have to have talent to play the game.

Take any 'clean' ball player today. They have all these fancy diets, high tech training equipment, supplements, B-12 injections (don't borrow one from Miguel Tejada though), etc. Now, rewind back to the 1920's and you have a guy whose parents had the bright idea to name their kid George Herman... are you kidding me? Anyway, you can't tell me that Joe Ballplayer, hell, Joe the Plumber even, would have a competitive advantage over George. He fat, drunk, smokes a lot... Comparing Barry Bonds' numbers to babe Ruth's numbers just doesnt work. Its all nice and pretty to line 714 up to 762 and say OOH Barry hit more, blah blah blah. If Babe Ruth had the same technology, a better diet, no booze... he probably would have hit 1,200 home runs. Especially in the band boxes the players play in today.

Anyway, there is no escaping the steroid era no more than there is escaping the dead ball era or the pitching era (pre 1968). Players have to be judged on the eras they played in. Palmeiro (who HAS to come out of hiding), Sosa, Bonds and yes ARod need to be in the Hall of Fame. No matter what. You can't take their records away. As much as we would like to, we can't. Had Babe Ruth not been gift wrapped a ball that jumped off of a bat, he would have probably 98 career homeruns. People forget that. People forget that Ty Cobb (who was a classy individual in his own right...) hated Ruth and thought his records were crap because of the type of ball being used. 'Any idiot can hit a home run' is a quote I remember reading from him.

In the end, when I look back on this era 20 years from now, it will have settled its way into baseball history. Just like the cocaine controversy (many a player named in that little scandal are in the Hall) it will be accepted in time. We don't have to like it, that just part of the game. By then, we'll be arguing about Player X who had been genetically engineered in the womb should be banned, and it will all start over again.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

2009 Topps Case Bust with P.A (Player to be Named), Pete (Dropped Third Strike) and Kim (Kimaloo)

I have to say that I am 100% satisfied with the 3 boxes of Jumbo 2009 Topps I received during our 'Case Bust' at All About SPorts in Winston-Salem, NC. Blake (the shop owner) was kind enough to hook us up on a deal for a case of Jumbo boxes.

I am very pleased overall with the photography of the cards. I plan on scanning and posting some of my favorites next weekend when I return from Greenville. I also plan on collating my set probably Monday evening. I should know whether or not I have the full series 1 or not by then. I do know that I have one of the special short printed alternate cards. More on that in a second.

So, here it is by the numbers:

3: Jumbo Boxes purchased and opened by me

4: target packs bought for me by P.A.

34: Topps Town and Topps Town Gold cards received

1: Card #44b- Barack Obama

31: Turkey Red cards received

2: Topps Black received

33: Topps Gold

29: Legends of the Game

2: Topps Silk (Brandon Webb and Andy Sonnanstine)

5: Career Best Jersey or Auto

29: Ring of Honor

3: WBC redemptions

3:Legends of the Game Patches (Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and CAL RIPKEN!!!)

2: 1/1 sketch cards (Nate McLouth and Josh Beckett) the Josh Beckett had substantial damage to the lower part of the card, so I am going to inquire to Topps about getting a replacement for it.

All in All, I am VERY pleased with Series 1 Topps. I hope Pete, Kim and P.A. are as well!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

At long last- 2009 Topps is HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks to P.A. I was able to get a taste of 2009 Topps before our boxes arrive later this week. I do have to say, i am impressed with this year's offering. I have heard a lot of comments about peoplenot liking the 2008 design; I liked it, but I am getting tired of the 'white border' design. 2008 was much too similar to the 2004 and 2005 designs. 2006 had a lot more color than the 04 and 05 offerings while the black design of 2007 was a complete 180. The sets from earlier this decade contrasted heavily with the ones from the middle of the decade. My least favorite being the very simplistic 2000 design (plus it was much too similar to the 1999 design).

I have always enjoyed throwing a Hershiser (beware- movie reverence) and changing drastically between one year and the next (a la 1975 or 1990). If I had to pick one today, i would say 2001's design and color is my favorite from this decade, but 2009 Topps would be right at the top. I really love the backs of 2009 Topps, as it is quite different from years past. I especially enjoyed on the back of Brian Roberts' card where it shows the pitchers that he has the best stats against.

I plan on writing a blog about my favorite and least favorite Topps designs, I think my bias with the 1955 set might weigh in my final decision, but we'll see when we get there, haha.

Its HERE!!!

Most of the guys at the card shop were treated on my last day there by being able to check out, in person, my 1955 Roberto Clemente RC that i picked up from the post office yesterday morning. I still can't believe that I was able to nab it so cheap. Now, if I can get the Koufax as cheap... Here it is guys, enjoy!