The name of this blog is dedicated to my mother. Back in little league, my mother used to stand back behind home plate and give me that one, simple batting instruction: "get the bat off of your shoulder!"

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Trade with Kevin @ St. Louis Cardinals Cards

Kevin and I made a small trade, he needed some 2012 Topps Cardinals and I needed a few 2012 Topps as I inch closer to a complete set!

At first I thought that Hagadone's uniform was a throwback, but apparently I missed the memo where the Indians changed their road uniform last year.

That Chacin card reminds me of photo composition from the '73 set. Well, to be fair, if it were a '73 card, the pitcher would be 2/3 blocked out by the batter.

Kevin, thanks for the trade! 18 more cards to finish 2012 Series 1. Anyone want to trade?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Trade with Matt @ Card Anathema

I received a big pile of 2011 Topps from Matt at Card Anathema today. I was sitting there talking with my youngest daughter, and talking her through building the solar system with styrofoam balls. I've done this at least 6 or 7 times, but I was enjoying this one because it may be the last one. And it made me a little sad, in thinking on that. With the last of the four oldest kids finishing high school this year and the oldest off to medical school, that just leaves the two little girls at home. It really gets you to thinking of your own mortality. And doing this project reminds me *again* about how Pluto has been demoted to dwarf. I told her to just add that 9th styrofoam ball. She rolled her eyes, "Dad, it isn't a planet! Ms. so-and-so says it isn't a planet anymore!"

Anyhow, I was so distracted thinking on this, that while checking off the 2011 cards Matt sent in my database, I preceded to put them in the binder and I am embarrassed to say I didn't scan any of them! But Matt made a big dent in that set, and I am appreciative. I made myself a challenge to complete 2011 set, all 990 of them, completely in trades. We'll see if I can do it!

The Updates and Highlights cards he sent along, I did get to scan those. 

 Love this action shot with Ankiel diving, and the throwback uniform on Haren.

Some great pitching shots, I hope the one of Thompson is a warm up toss, because he's not going to intimidate any batter with that cheery countenance!

Always a fan of cards with dirty uniforms. Great shot of Napoli and with an Angel batting! I think that's Callaspo, but truthfully I am not positive. I don't recall Callaspo being that tall and stocky. I'll have to figure it out.

Big thank you to Matt, appreciate the trade!


Monday, February 20, 2012

First, and probably last Check Out My Cards purchase

For some reason, I was looking through my 1970 Topps and realizing I had only a single Angel from that year. Just one! I went online and started looking through Check Out My Cards and realized there were tons of that set in the $0.20 to $0.25 range. Granted, these are all low numbers, but still, '83 Donruss commons seem to go for that much.

  I picked up a few Dodgers, a few Angels and I even grabbed a few Astros. Nobody hugely famous, but plenty of guys I know and remember fondly from my childhood.

  The back of Foster's card says that he signed for a reported $100,000 in 1965. Seems like a pittance compared to what guys sign for nowadays, hell Bryce Harper probably made that much last week just from Topps alone. But to put 100,000 1965 dollars in perspective for you, consider that my parents bought a new house in 1965 for just under 10,000. Disgusting, isn't it? I think I bought a '94 Honda for that much.

The 1970 set is, I think, the last set to not feature a single action shot, not counting the World Series subset. Nothing but foul zone, batting cage and dugout posing here. In a way it's comforting.

Here's a trio of hurlers, Rooker, Torrez and enjoy the awesomeness that is Gene Brabender here. All time leader in Wins for the Seattle Pilots. Gene looks like someone's uncle here, or put some Dickies on him and he could be the guy who fixed your brakes last week.

Bob Moose has a big old wad of chew there. You just don't see guys chewing tobacco anymore. I tried it once. I saw some guy wrap bubble gum around wad of leaves once, and stick it in his cheek. One day in little league, I figured I would try the same thing. I had that sucker in my cheek for all of about 3 pitches and my whole world started spinning. The coach came out and I told him I was about to toss up that Big Del Burrito I had for lunch right there on the mound, and that if it was OK by him, could I please go do it over behind the backstop, away from everyone else. That was my last time trying tobacco. Momma definitely did not raise no fool.

Speaking of my last time, I don't figure I'll buy more cards from Check Out My Cards either. The initial thrill of finding cards for 0.20 went away when I ended up paying more than that per card for "packing". Forget that. $25.00 in cards was $3.65 to ship, and another $24.75 in penny sleeves. Give me a break. I'll probably stick to eBay and SportLots from here on out.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Trade with Robert @ $30 a week habit

I received a package from Robert at $30 a week habit! This is my second trade with Robert, he was a big help whittling down 2011 Heritage last fall.

Robert sent me a handful of 2012 Topps, including many inserts. Pictured here, Kemp and Braun - the Alpha and the Omega of the 2012 Topps Series 1 set, cards 1 and 330. Also this lovely Dee Gordon. The quality of the photos in 2012 is outstanding. In this one, could just be the angle, but Chipper is sure taking a wide slide!

Also in the pack are some 2011 Lineage, which I'm getting closer to finishing off that set. I know I could just go buy the rest, but I'm enjoying trading to get them. If you're in the same position and want to trade, check out my 2011 Topps Lineage wants/have list.

Among the many awesome 2012 inserts Robert sent is this great shot of Andre Dawson in a Sox uniform. Something that would make these Gold Standard inserts better is toss the gold embossed coin, move the achievement text up and put the player's signature.
Also received a Lineage Kyle Drabek.
I have high hopes for him. I have this thing about tracking the minor league nobodies that get traded for a big name. First time I heard of Kyle Drabek with the Blue Jays, there was something about him that sounded so familiar, but of course I just figured it was because of that last name, and that he was son of former Pirate Doug Drabek.  But after looking at his biography and seeing that he went to Woodlands High (The Woodlands is a city just north of Houston and a hop and a jump from me) I realized I'd actually seen him pitch in a high school game vs. (I think) Spring High.
Drabek seems he was roughed up a bit last year throwing for Toronto, but hopefully he gets his cup on straight this year and shows 'em what a Texan can do.

Thanks for the trade, Robert, looking forward to the next one!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thank You, Gary

I always enjoyed watching Gary Carter play baseball. He clearly loved every minute of it.

In 1986, when not only did the Angels win the AL West, but Houston took the NL West, I could not be happier. And when Game 5 was on TV, ex-Angel Nolan Ryan on the mound, I felt on top of the world and confident it would be an Angels-Astros World Series. 

Nolan Ryan was almost perfect that afternoon,but so was Doc Gooden. When they pulled Ryan in the top of the 10th for a pinch hitter, I couldn't really blame Lanier. Even with 2 outs and bases empty, I still thought, if this works, I'll forgive it. Terry Puhl did get a hit, heck he even stole second off you! But nothing came of it and that was the last hit the Astros managed.

A couple more 1-2-3 innings, and bottom of the 12th sees Wally Backman reach base, a failed pickoff and he's down at second... oh the shame. Then you come up, you slap that single out there, clean beautiful stroke of a single, scoring Backman, winning the game and basically putting the nail in the Houston balloon.
I know everyone loves a walk-off home run, but that single that afternoon was so perfect I could only admire you for it.

I will miss you Gary, thanks for the great memories! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I finally did it...

I finally pulled the plastic cover off of a Topps Finest! Boy, it felt good!

I have a handful of these Topps Finest. I can't say I have any memory of buying them, but I have them. Back in the good old days when card shops were plentiful, I used to buy a lot of cards of sets I never intended to complete. Twelve years later, I find them in a box, a pack of Topps Finest, still in the their clear protective wrappers.
I looked carefully at it, at that plastic skin on it that reads "Peel and Remove Coating".
And I did. I peeled it and I removed it! Damn, now this $0.50 card is worth $0.45. Oh well. 

Thinking back, the short period of time Mo spent with the Angels is a blur. It was a quick couple years, he hit really well, beat the crap out of the ball. But I think I most remember him for hurting himself. In fact, it's because of him, that every time we get some new player for the Angels, I have this little voice in the back of my head saying, "he's gonna fall, he's gonna fall." If you don't know, on Mo's first game as an Angel, he tripped down dugout stairs and sprained his ankle. Eventually that injury forced him to sit out the entire 2001 season, with the Angels eventually dumping him to the Mets for Kevin Appier.

I remember after the trade, and Mo was no longer an Angel, that was when the trash talk started up. Troy Percival made some statement about "Mo's bat will be missed, but not his leadership. Erstad is our leader now". To which Mo replied, "[Expletive Deleted] Angels haven't done [Expletive Deleted] in this game! They ain't got no flags hanging at [Expletive Deleted] Edison Field, so the [Expletive Deleted] with them."

That fall, the Angels indeed added their first and only flag to hang at [Expletive Deleted] Edison Field! And where was I? In the Philippines, a 16 hour flight, a 12 hour boat ride and a 4 hour bus ride away from Anaheim Stadium... I missed every single game of the playoffs that year. Oh well. Maybe this year.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Opening Day - 1997

Looking for some Diamondback cards for a trade, I started looking through a box of cards labeled "Misc." The "Misc" boxes are for cards like Pacific, Sportflics, Denny's Holograms, or Burger King cards. I guess any cards that don't have enough of them to warrant their own 800-count box. I pulled a inch-thick group of them from the middle and the first card I see is this one.

Todd Greene.

I had not thought about Greene in years, but as soon as I saw this card, memories of  Spring Training 1997 came rolling in like the first wave of patrons at Golden Corral. 1997 marked the end of the California Angels and the first season as the Anaheim Angels. I hated the name change, and especially the new uniform. There's nothing wrong with pinstripes, per se, but if you're not used to seeing your team in them, it's just really disconcerting. And the winged "A" and the periwinkle blue! That's a color you see at a paint store, or on a box of lady's shoes, or even on some pikey's caravan, but not on a baseball team! 

But in '97 I was focused not on the uniform but on who was to be the next big thing. Todd Greene was him, he was going to be the next big thing! Everything I'd read about him in the LA Times sounded like he was going to sock the cover off the ball and nail anyone trying to even think of stealing second. Even though during the off-season, the Angels picked up Jim Leyeritz from the Yankees, I could not be dissuaded from my belief that the stocky power-punching catcher from Georgia would be wearing the glove and set up behind the plate come opening day.

I wanted to be there to see this, so I got my tickets, which for first time in years were actually tough to get... oooh, because we were playing Boston! Lineup cards are handed to the umps, and shortly they're displayed on the scoreboard.

Let's see, Greene isn't batting 3rd, not 4th, not 5th, 6th... I don't see him on there at all. The "C" is next to Jim Leyeritz's name. Huh? This can't be. Where's my catcher of the future? Oh, he's over on the bench.

Mark Langston pitches well, and the Angels take a 5-2 lead in to the top of the 9th inning. Out to the mound comes psycho closer Troy Percival. To most people, the game is wrapped up. As Anaheim Stadium has never been a hotbed of diehard fandom, the stands start to empty... The exodus had quietly begin with the 3rd out of the bottom of the 8th, but now it's really in full swing and things are starting to clear out.

Percival starts off the 9th by dropping Darren Bragg with a weak "oops" swing for strike three.
More fans start to get up, gather their stuff.
Nomar Garciaparra goes down swinging.
Now even actual long-time fans are standing up and getting their stuff together.
John Valentin comes up and slaps a double somewhere, seriously, I wasn't even looking at that point, I was picking up and getting ready to leave.
No problem, Mo Vaughn comes up, Percival very intelligently walks him.
Reggie Jefferson comes up, I'm watching out the corner of my eye, waiting to see that strikeout or weak ground ball so I can start heading out.
Jefferson hits a grounder and DiSarcina just can't do anything with it, so Jefferson is safe at first.
Bases loaded.
But 2 outs and a 3 run lead... Just get a ground ball and throw it anywhere!

Next batter... walk! in comes a run.
Next batter... another walk! another run comes in!

I'm being brief with the descriptions, but my stomach is in knots at this point.
Next batter... Percival plunks him and forces in the tying run!

I scream so loudly that I wake up sleeping babies as far away as Brea and Yorba Linda.

Finally Percival gets the hook and manager Terry Collins bring in... hell, I don't remember because I was leaving!
Yes, me, the one who throws empty paper cups at "fans" who bail from the game before the last out, I'm leaving.
I could not watch another minute of it.
I'm almost down the ramp to the main floor, when I can hear the moaning and groaning coming from the field.
Some guy near me with his radio says, "they got a hit! They just took the lead!", like it was exciting news. I wanted to punch him.
It was a quiet drive home.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tommy Lasorda - 1978 Topps #189

Bob Lemke created a custom card of Tommy Lasorda in the style of 1956 Topps. It's a terrific looking card and it got me to thinking back on Lasorda's 1978 Topps card. The manager cards in the '78 set are unique in that they devote half of the horizontal design to a present photo as manager, and the other half to a black and white photo as a player. Nothing quite like it has been done before or since.

In those days, Spring Training meant gather around the TV to watch KTLA and see Dodger Blue bash the Giants around Vero Beach. That was why we tuned it. Sure, beating the Reds is fun, or maybe the Cardinals, but when it comes down to it, if you're a Dodger fan, you want to see the Giants go down. I've loved the Angels since I was old enough to walk, but seriously, if they televised 5 Angel games a year in the 60's or early 70's, it would have been a miracle. If you wanted to watch baseball on TV, it was Dodgers or annoying Garagiola on NBC Saturday morning baseball. McCarver was still actually playing, so we didn't have to endure him just yet.

I still remember Vin Scully telling us about Farmer John sausages, I bet to this day he mutters "corn fed, Eastern bred" in his sleep. This Saturday morning, Mr. Scully finishes telling us about sausage and passes things over to Jerry Doggett down on the field in Vero. I'm waiting to see Garvey or Cey we instead get some chubby guy with a big grin and he's awfully touchy. I mean, he just hugged Jerry Doggett! You don't just hug Jerry Doggett, that's not cool.

Who knows what I thought at that time. Is he a rookie? Is he a coach? Who is this guy? He's so fat!
Then Doggett calls him "manager" and I'm thinking... um, no, Walter Alston is manager. Alston has been manager my whole life. Alston has been manager most of my dad's life. Walter Alston will be the Dodger manager long after I've passed on.

But then he says it again. "Tommy Lasorda, Dodger's manager".

This Lasorda guy keeps talking and talking and Doggett is probably loving it because, let's face it, Jerry does not talk much. Scully was the color man, Scully always handled play-by-play for at least 8 of the 9 innings. At some point Scully had to go pee, probably, and that's the only time you heard Doggett do play-by-play.

Tommy Lasorda. Dodger's Manager. That's going to take some getting used to.

As weird as it was, I got over it. The '77 Dodgers were one of the greatest teams to ever take the field. They went to the World Series then ended up losing to the stinking Yankees. But I'd seen the Yankees whip the Angels many times, I was used to it.

Nolan Ryan - 1993 Mother's Cookies #9.

I've had this card for a long time, I never really paid much attention to it. I got it at a game, I think, though I don't even remember if it was Angel Stadium or Arlington.

I've always thought Mr. Ryan had such a goofy look on his face. And that goofy look countered all the bad-ass-ness that he'd attained in his life. He doesn't look like a guy who struckout over 5,000 people. He looks like some kid who pumps gas. "Want me to check the oil, mister?"

Here's to Nolan Ryan, the king of strikeouts and no-hitters.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Texas League

Waiting patiently for baseball to start, I look back at some of the high points of last summer's Texas League season. Watched a lot of great baseball and looking forward to driving up to Little Rock again to catch a Travelers game. Unfortunately (for me, not them) it's unlikely that Mike Trout or Garrett Richards will be at AA level again this year, but that's OK. I'm looking forward to the next batch of young players coming up through the AA system.

Shelby Miller threw for the Springfield Cardinals, St. Louis' AA affiliate, late last summer. He is probably close to being major league ready, and if a spot opens up in the Cardinal rotation, he'll likely be given a chance to take it. I plan to keep my eye out for him. I thought he had great poise pitching out jams when we watched him pitch. The MiLB sites aren't quite as up to the minute in off-season as MLB sites are, and I can't tell what roster he's on. If he's still on the Springfield team, hopefully I can get another look at him this upcoming summer. I may have better luck catching him pitch against the Astros in Minute Maid!

Ethan Hollingsworth was playing for Midland last summer, well at least the early half. I watched him throw against the Hooks in May and he looked great for the first few innings and then the world just kind of caved in on him. The Oakland A's moved him up to the AAA club at some point, and I lost track of him. I did a little research and learned that he was traded by the A's to the Kansas City Royals for Kila Ka'aihue. I wouldn't be surprised to see him throwing for the Royals when rosters expand to 40 in September, maybe earlier if needed.

Watching Mike Trout play last spring and summer for the Travs was one of the highlights of the year. Twice I watched him pound out triples to the gap that looked like he planned exactly where it would go. On the Travelers he was hitting lead off both times I saw him. At a pro level, I can see him as a #2, with his bat control and speed. I hope for his sake that 2012 sees him starting at AAA getting every day playing. The Angels are backed up right now, and unless Scioscia has plans to put Trout at 3rd, I don't see him getting every day playing time. Will be exciting to see how he develops.

Garrett Richards, like Miller, could use another full season in the minors. Fortunately for the Angels, they have a very strong starting rotation, which means no need to rush Richards. When Richards came up to the big club in September last year, it was a good test for him to get a feel for the bigs.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Belated thank you to Brian at 30 Year Old Cardboard

Back in October, during the 2011 World Series, Brian at 30 Year Old Cardboard held a contest open to readers, to guess how many games the Series would go, who would win and to pick total runs as a tie-breaker. I thought the two teams were very closely matched and I was pretty sure the series would go 7. As a life long Angels fan, however, I just could not in good conscience, pick the Rangers to win. I chose the Cardinals in 7. Luckily for me that is just how it went down and I was only one to pick it!

Brian sent me over a nice batch of 7 Willie Mays cards. I did email him at the time with thanks, but now that I'm blogging again on cards, I wanted to thank him in style!

This card is a Archives print of the "Baseball Thrills" subset in the Topps '59 set, immortalizing Mays' amazing catch in the '54 series against the Indians.
Side note to you youngsters: Back in the Olden Tymes, they just put subsets numbered as a part of the rest of the set. Didn't make 'em rare. Didn't give 'em red, green, pink and blue border variations. Didn't stick no cotton-picking squirrels on there, nossirree. We just had normal cards with pictures of old men posing with their bats and gloves and that's the way we liked it.

This reprint is from the '60 Topps All-Star Selections subset. I was at a show last summer, and a guy had the original of this card in his case, right next to a Mantle of the same All-Star Selections set. The Mays was price-tagged at barely half the price of the Mantle. I told him it was criminal that the Mays card wasn't valued same as the Mantle. We talked a bit, about baseball and so on. Finally, he says he'll give me the Mantle and the Mays for $250. I said only if he followed me home and explained it all to my wife! He passed on that offer. Smart man.

I have long wished I could have been a fly on the wall at this picture and hear what the two of them were saying to each other. You figure they were being polite or you figure they were trash-talking? Remember, back then there were no divisions. You either won the National League and went to the World Series, or you went home and watched it on TV with the rest of us. There is just something about Musial's expression...
Stan: So, Willie, hear you got a big bonus this year.
Willie: Now, Stan, just smile pretty for the picture.
Stan: Cause I was thinking, you could use it to get yourself one of those new RCA CTC-11 color televisions.
Willie: Now whatever for?
Stan: Way I see it, only way Giants are going to enjoy the World Series any time soon is by watching on the TV!
Or maybe the conversation was even more sophomoric...
Stan: "Mine's Bigger."
Willie: ...
I guess we'll never know. 

This beauty, a copy of '72 Topps and is one of my favorite cards of that set. I had the original of this card at one point, pulled from a pack of my own ripping, but somewhere along the line I either traded it or lost it. When I saw this card it brought back a bunch of memories.

Brian, thanks again for the great cards!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Angels could reach .500 W-L in 2012

The Angels record currently stands at 4,053 and 4,079, a .498 Win-Loss percentage. I took a sharp pencil and a blank piece of paper and figured that if they finish 94-68, they'll be 4147-4147 or an even .500.
Now finish the year with 95 wins, not an impossible or unlikely goal, and we're there!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

2012 Topps Inserts - '87 Minis

Besides the miniature size, these little '87s are also made of what looks like old 80's cardboard. Abbreviated statistics for the past season are included, but the best thing is the MINI Streak. I seem to remember the original '87 set having a lot of cards telling us what a player's wife's name was, or when they were married, or even what his kids' names were. None of that domestic fluff here. These cards tell us of a streak that the player enjoyed in the past year.

Looking at the new Marlins' logo, I think I miss the old one with its distinct blue color. This new logo has too many colors on it, it looks confused. 

Adam Jones is breaking every little league coach's first day instructions, or do they not teach getting both hands on the ball anymore? I always thought it was pretty lame when I played. I don't recall dropping any flies in the outfield, but I Bill Buckner'd a ball or two playing 3rd base, that's for sure.

Is it just me or does Adrian Gonzalez look like the guy who plays George Lopez's brother?

Still no Angels minis yet, but season is young. Hell the pitchers haven't even reported with their catchers yet. We got lots of time.

I picked up a blaster box, and I think it will be the one and only I get. I mean, you get 40 fewer cards for the same price. That's like 3 full packs! What do you get instead of those 40 cards? A pseudo patch card. I got a Roger Maris card with his number 9. I say pseudo because he never wore it. Some nice lady in China sewed it. Mr. Maris never even saw it.