Jul 25, 2015

Inkquest: Pat Gillick: 2008 Phillies

Let's start off the Inkquest with a Hall of Famer since it is induction weekend.  Pat Gillick was inducted into the HOF in 2011 through the Veteran's Committee.  He was an executive, as noted on the card, who had presided over successful eras of 4 teams, including the Phillies of 2008.

Role on the 2008 Phillies: Pat Gillick was the GM and head man of the front office for the Phillies from 2006-2008, stepping down after the World Series triumph of 2008.  His most significant trades and signings that contributed to the victory were trading for Brad Lidge during the 2007 offseason (for Geoff Geary, Michael Bourn, and Mike Costanzo), picking up Matt Stairs in August 2008 for Fabio Castro, and trading for Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton without giving up much of anything.  His most shrewd free agent signing was picking up Jayson Werth during the 2006 offseason.

Card Facts: This is a 2012 Leaf Memories autographed card numbered 25/25, an autographed parallel of the base set.  This was purchased on ebay. 

Jul 19, 2015

Diagnosis: All-Star Break Withdrawal Symptoms Present

July is a month filled with many contradictions.  It is national ice cream month and national pickle month.  It is hot in most of the United States and Europe, and it is cold in San Francisco and Australia.  It is a time of constancy in baseball as teams have established baselines of performance and also a time of change in baseball as the trade deadline approaches.

Then, there is both the brightness and the blight of the MLB All-Star Week.  It is a brightness because of the event itself.  Regardless of the home field advantage conundrum and interleague play, there's always something fun about seeing the players in different caps and uniforms on the field. The first five innings are always a fun time....then comes the darkness (like Chase Utley's 2015 season, there's the tie-in to the picture you were all waiting for).

The last 4 innings are a roster parade, barely resembling a baseball game, but then comes the worst part.  There are two days without baseball afterwards!  When did this change happen? It was bad enough that the Wednesday after the all-star game was a veritable black hole of fan listlessness.  It has spread to another day to torture the obsessed baseball fan.

I could feel myself going through withdrawal.  My hands were shaking, and my eyes were constantly engaged on the scoreboard, hoping that one of the games on the schedule would go live.   It was not to be.  Some other symptoms that I exhibited during these days:

1. Starting saying "it's a long drive to...." whenever I got in the car.
2. Laid out a home set of clothes and away set of clothes for myself before going to work, depending on which site I was going to.
3. Drew the Phillies logo on the wall using finger paint.
4. When I ordered frozen yogurt, I got 9 pieces of each topping.
5. Played  catch with a dog wearing a glove
6. Found tree branches on the ground and carved them into bats of various sizes.
7.  Every time I took a walk, I would count to 90 and then begin again, keeping track of the number of runs I would score on the walk.

I'm just going to say that I was relieved when Friday came, and the summer routine returned.

Jul 5, 2015

Inkquest: Signatures of the Pennant Winning Phillies: Introduction

Not an example of what I'm looking for, though he is connected to Joe Blanton

For those minuscule few who frequent this blog during the long stretches of silence and pondering, I have repopulated the pages portion at the top of the blog.  You will now notice something called Phillies Pennant Winner Inkquest, divided into separate pages for ease of scrolling.

 What is an inkquest?  Why is there such a thing as a quest for ink? No, this is not getting handprints of players on my apartment walls (but good sentiment there).  Nor is it pursuing the infamous Brushogun.  Instead, it is the initiation of a vainglorious collector's quest to get at least one autograph of a player who a) played in the postseason with the Phillies that season, b) had at least 100 PA or 50 IP with the Phillies that year.  The idea is to get as many contributors to the Phillies winning the pennant that year.

The good news for me is that the Philllies as a franchise have had very few appearances in the World Series.  The 1915 team is not really possible for this type of quest, so that only leaves 1950, 1980, 1983, 1993, 2008, and 2009.  All interesting teams with interesting players and some have overarching clever monikers.  It also covers the silver and golden age of Phillies winning baseball (not that many years in their history).

This project has been in the works for awhile, though never really focused on which players to get.  It would be more of the sophomoric "give me" philosophy of acquiring autos.  Hey, there's a Phillies card with an auto on it, let me have that.  This is how I ended up with so many Andrew Carpenter, Zach Segovia, and Joe Bisenius autos, among other prospects and non-prospects of the past.

The key here is to distill the overarching need to be a comprehensive team collector to  a goal that is only semi-unobtainable.  Suffice to say, this quest will consume me just as the ring consumed Frodo or maybe as Galactus attempted to consume Shangri-La?   The bottom line is that I will not be the same person.....I will be happier and feel more accomplished and be forced to learn how to surf.

The criteria for obtaining an auto are simple.  First preference is a certified auto on a card in a Phillies uniform.  That probably doesn't exist for the majority of the players, especially for those on the 1950 Phillies.  Second preference would be a cut auto for older players or a certified auto on their rookie team for more recent players.  Third preference would be a TTM auto on a card.  Fourth preference would be a signed index card or something similar.

Projected date of completion will be the next time the Phillies win the pennant, 2019.  Now, that's an optimistic outlook on both counts.

Jun 26, 2015

VIntage Cards from Jim from Downingtown: A Long Overdue Trade Post

You know, sometimes you get cards and you can't recall how exactly how you stumbled upon them or bought them for? And then there are others that you can picture with such clarity that you recall the color of your socks, where you were, and how much you paid for the cards?

In this new-fangled world of trade by mail,  an assortment of vintage cards must assuredly come from Jim from Downingtown.  (Notice the link goes to his profile; there are so many blogs).

Getting cards from the 60s in the mail is probably the 3rd best card collecting feeling in the world after getting an autograph of your favorite player and ripping open 20 cases of cards in less than 3 nights (not that I've ever done that.)
1964 Topps Dick Williams:  You might better remember Dick Williams as the HOF manager with the killer sunglasses, but here he is finishing out his playing career in Boston.
1966 Topps Lew Krausse: The first card from a team name that doesn't exist, the Kansas City Athletics.  The young prospect was gearing up for his career year in 1966.
1965 Topps Turk Farrell: It's a Colt 45s card!  Now that's a team nickname that didn't last very long or easy to announce.  Farrell started and ended his career with the Phillies, but was a 3 time all star in Houston.
1964 Philadelphia Norm Snead: This is weird, this is a football card posted on this site. It's from a company called Philadelphia, which made football cards in the '60s.  Here he is, at the beginning of his Eagles career. He had over 30000 yards passing and is still 6th all time in interceptions.
1966 Topps Dave Mcnally: He was one of the famed quartet of the 1971 Orioles, which each won 20 games during the season.  That might never happen again until the bullpen becomes someplace where less pitchers hang out.
1963 Topps Dal Maxvill: We're both alumni of the same college, but he got to play with Stan Musial and I did not.

And then to top it off, there were a few 1968 game cards, which gave me the first Mantle card from his playing days I had ever owned (another followed, which will be the subject of another post at some point).  Check out the glory of the Mick, Yaz, and Hammerin' Hank.  (plus I would have a 1.000 OBP in this game and always win because I would never get an out).

Thanks to Jim!

Jun 6, 2015

More 2012 Leaf Memories: Autographs and Airbrushing

Irrationality is a fun little way to conduct operations.  Why do we like certain cards or sets?  Why do we become obsessed in pursuit?  It is a good thing that I can't afford to buy all the sets that I want. Otherwise, all that would be seen is a hand flailing under a flood of cards like those cartoons of characters sinking into lava reaching for the air.....

As time passes, I realize that my card collecting is not so much as a steady trickle of cards as a series of floods punctuated by obsessions.  2012 Leaf Memories was one such of these obsessions.  For some reason, the design sparked an innate urge to get them all.....spoiler, I failed at that.

The reason is because Puig Fever swept the nation, and the price skyrocketed to the point where this became infeasible.  The "additional" base cards, numbered 529 and above were split between rookies and retired players, with all of them numbered to 99.  Prospect names that still resonate three years later include Addison Russell, Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa, Joey Gallo, and, of course, Yasiel Puig.

The retired players portion of the checklist was much easier to track down. Notice that there are blank uniforms and varying pictures of era and tone.
Bob Gibson pitching in what looks like to be against Boston, which may mean this is a photo from the 1967 World Series.
Albert Pujols is modeling his new Angels duds for the first year of his career transition.

Reggie Jackson  during his postseason mashing prime.

Jim Bunning going with the Tigers uniform of his youth.
Whitey Ford with a knowing look that the batter has no chance on this one.

There were also two principal auto types in the set; one was essentially reprints of these high numbered cards, usually with a sticker auto and numbered to 25, and the other was buybacks from the 1990 Leaf set, which were then signed on-card and numbered to the player's uniform number in most cases.  I tried to snag a few and successfully pulled out a couple of Hall of Famers.
Dennis Eckersley is strangely not throwing sidearm in this card from his playing days.  This was from his peak of his powers when the A's were riding high after winning the World Series and sporting a crazy 55:3 K:BB ratio.
Red Schoendienst was both a HOF second baseman and a pennant-winning manager with the Cardinals.    He won two World Series as a player....and this was a surprise for me, with the Milwaukee Braves.  It's appropriate that he has this 1990 designed card since his last managing stint was as an interim manager after replacing Whitey Herzog in the 1990 season.

2012 Leaf Memories is a set that surprisingly maintains a hold on me still even though I have very few actual 1990 Leaf cards....the collecting mind is funny sometimes.

May 17, 2015

Introducing the Once and Future Franco

Written while pondering this 2013 Bowman Platinum autograph in my hand......

Presented for your consideration, the latest addition to the Phillies major league roster, Maikel Franco.  Coming from the humble land of the Iron Pig, in which his power could not hold anymore, he traversed across the Poconos and braved the treacherous path known as the Turnpike to join the fraternity of the major league baseball team.

Though the journey was short, the realization for growth was immense.  The bats of yesteryear would not serve in this new setting.  A better bat and a glove earned from the BR shrine of thirdbasemen would be the tools with which the young arrival would make himself known.

He had heard tales of the squalor of this land, a team whose talent had been overwhelmed by the spirit of the sacrifice bunt.  A place where saves were few and far between as the offensive ledger remained dormant through the early spring, unable to awaken.

So Maikel Franco steeled himself against such stories, admitting to himself that the stories were only of the present.  He would have to succeed to help bring this team back into its former splendor of legend and have  a second golden age emerge in a fair and just land.

He would have the mentorship of some remaining members of that era, those whose presence was a constant reminder of what was. Though their bats had slowed and their knees have tightened, they fight on with resolve to help the next generation lay this hopeful foundation.

Upon arrival, he felt confident in his abilities and took his place next to the hot corner.  This is a place where the two previous residents had lost the wherewithal to move laterally as they sank deeper into the surrounding swamp.  The ball and glove will have to be as one so he does not succumb to the same malady.

Three days have now passed since he reached his destination.  The team, infused with the bubbling excitement from their home supporters, succeeded in every way, defeating the threatening desert snakes.  Maikel Franco joined the rhythm of the celebration, contributing a triple, home run, and both steady and spectacular plays in the field.

The first leg of the journey was a success, but what lies ahead is the perils of the roads not traveled.  He knows he must prove his worth at each destination, and so it goes as the journey at this level continues.

May 7, 2015

Spring Cleaning 2015: Come and Claim Some Cards

I cleaned out a couple boxes that I felt didn't fit my collection, so somebody gets to claim these cards.  I am not organized to mail out several packages, so I've decided to organize these cards by division.  Each of those stacks is the cards from each of the divisions, so that's what I'm offering first.  I'm not sure how many cards there are per stack....I guess it looks like 200 or so.  It's a mix of many sets, and there definitely will be duplicates in the stack.  Some sets I remember a lot of cards of are 1999 Bowman, 2002 Bowman, 2003 Bowman, 1991 Stadium Club, and 2011 Topps.

Anyway, please claim a division.....individual teams are not yet up.  If you claim a division, there will be a bonus of some kind, feel free to forward me a want list or name a favorite team; my collection isn't that comprehensive, but I'll find something.

 Claim with a comment or email.

NL East (there are less Phillies in this stack for obvious reasons)-CLAIMED
NL West-

AL West-

Apr 25, 2015

The First 10% of 2015 or Is There Hope? (Phillies Edition)

I read something fairly depressing today at The Good Phight.  The Phillies, as a team, are hitting like Steve Jeltz.  For those of you don't keep track of light-hitting shortstops of yesteryear, he was the Phillies shortstop from 1985-1989 (more or less).  His best single season OPS was .694.  He once had a season (in 148 games) with a slugging percentage of .237.  He is now remembered for three things: his hairstyle, being born in France, and hitting a home run from each side of the plate in this crazy game in 1989.  I listened to that one on the radio since the game was probably aired on  the cable station Prism and therefore, inaccessible.

This brings us back to today's version of the Phillies....their lineup is bad and has only a slight possibility of getting better.  Their starting pitching has a duct-taped rotation and is performing reasonably well, which may or may not continue.  Their bullpen is also adequate with some breakout potential.  Unfortunately, baseball is a game of wins and losses predicated on run differentials...it is hard to win if you hardly ever outscore the opponent.  It is very difficult to rely on a 1-0 or 2-1 result every evening.  It's also hard to hit under .200 for the season with runners in scoring position, though it seems like they're going to try.

(On a side note, for all this stressing about fundamental baseball, I have not seen sloppier play on both sides of the ball in years....it looks like there's a cloud above this team, and not the cumulus kind.  It's one of those mind sucking clouds that bombards you with trivia while you go about your daily business, and then threatens to zap you if you get a question wrong....that must be it, their bodies are threatened from the astral plane and are unable to concentrate on catching the ball or deadening the bat to put a bunt down.....)

It might sound like there's no hope, but there always is.....until Memorial Day at least for this fan.  And then again until July 4....ok, I will hope until Labor Day.....irrational dreaming and all that.

Let's see what could happen with some of the major players on the team this year.  Since we're 10% of the way through the season (give or take), it's easy projection from this point out because we all know a baseball season and player performance is completely linear and will never, ever deviate from that path that started on Opening Day (not true).
Ryan Howard: 
Current Status: First baseman of record and symbol of the decline of all civilization. .526 OPS, 1 home run, 5:1 K:BB ratio.
Future Linear Projection: 10 home runs, 40 RBIs, too many Ks.
To Change the Future: Must become a platoon player at this stage of his career, though his batting splits from last year until now are worrisome. Also, breathe-right strips, lots and lots of those.
On the Card Side: This card is awesome!  I love 2012 National Treasures!  That's my next thesis topic.
Cole Hamels: 
Current Status: Embattled ace who caught a mini home run bug, needs to seek the old man by the fire in Legend of Zelda to be cured. 0-2 with 3.75 ERA, 8.63 K/9
Future Linear Projection: 0-20 with 230 K in 240 innings
To Change the Future: Pitch as you always have this year, besides W-L record, the rest can turn....also invest in cloud seeding to lower atmospheric pressure.
On the Card Side: This card is from the first set of Topps Tier One, 2011.  It is so memorable I spent the last three minutes looking up which year it was from.
Ben Revere: 
Current Status: Left fielder who makes cameos in center. Had one great outfield assist this year, matching a pre-arranged quota with the telecom industry. .472 OPS, 4 SB and 3 3B 
Future Linear Projection: .172 BA, 40 SB, 30 3B, and 60 R.
To Change the Future: Must bat in leadoff and start shoulder strengthening exercises.  Can only hit slow rollers to 3rd base to artificially inflate batting average
On the Card Side: This is a 2007 Tristar Prospects Plus auto back when he was just drafted.  It's interesting that he was one of the players from the set that made the majors.
Chase Utley: 
Current Status: 2nd baseman slumping due to the presence of the cursed necklace of Antioch. .450 OPS, 2 HR, 9 RBI
Future Linear Projection: 4 home runs, 36 RBIs, a lot of grit.
To Change the Future: He needs to rest every 5th game at this point in his career and also block out the distractions of losing.  He must channel every utterance of "Chase Utley is the man" by a fan or announcer into a double or turned double play.
On the Card Side: 2012 Bowman Ice sparked a parallel revolution in the Bowman line, portending the wave and bubble editions.  I was lucky to pull this out of a blaster.  Notice there was no necklace in this photo.
Carlos Ruiz: 
Current Status: Catcher of pitches and framer of strikes.  .482 OPS, 0 HR, 1 RBI.
Future Linear Projection: 0 home runs, 10 RBIs, 1 extra base hit by luck.
To Change the Future: Must visit the Louvre this year to practice proper framing and also needs to make more solid contact, line drive percentage is a thing.
On the Card Side: This card is from one of those confusing issues of the mid-2000s.  First look, it's a 2006 Upper Deck purple parallel....first look at a checklist says no, there are no purple parallels.  Instead it's 2006 Upper Deck Special F/X, which is a 1000 card counterpart to 2006 Upper Deck! Like Topps Chrome except impossible to collect.

Well, that was more depressing than I intended.  I should try to say something positive.....Cut the camera, it's time for a bagel.

Apr 19, 2015

Memories......Leaf Memories

"Memories, light the corners of my mind; misty water color memories of the way we were"

It's unfortunate that the Phillies have a look of the teams from my childhood. The 1988-1990 Phillies were not that pleasant a team to watch, but don't tell that to the younger me.  There were highlights and Leaf took it upon itself to recreate the memories of this team by foil stamping the cards from 1990 Leaf for its 2012 Leaf Memories set.

Don't get me wrong, as with any season, there are reasons to remember.  I think I got excited when Don Carman didn't walk a batter in an inning and when Juan Samuel hit a triple.

Looking back at the cards, it's remarkable how poorly that logo ages.  I do miss the maroon hats sometimes, even though the day game uniforms today trump almost any of the looks that they've had over the years.

In time, we will look back at the names of Galvis, Herrera, Buchanan, Rupp as they were in their most favorable time as a Phillie, which probably (and hopefully) isn't 2015....because that would mean improvement.  It would also mean some shrewd moves by the future front office (for example, turning Chris James into John Kruk).

In terms of the various foil stamping, silver means /20, gold means /5, and red means /1.....because it can.  I think I'm missing three cards to have at least one version of the team set; the curse of being a completist continues.  (This must be some type of AMA certified illness).

Let's see what the dark corners of my mind dig out when glancing at these balanced inspired and dreary memories.
Steve Lake was the backup catcher for a few seasons in there.  He mostly played on weekends probably, so I didn't catch many of his game performances.  Closest comp to the 2015 roster: Cameron Rupp
Carmelo Martinez was only the team for half a season.  I think I remember him hitting a grand slam as a Phillie.  Closest comp to the 2015 roster:  Jeff Francoeur
Terry Mulholland pitched the first ever no-hitter by a Phillie at Veterans Stadium on August 8, 1990.  He was also a key member of the 1993 Phillies.  What a great trade that was in 1989.  Closest comp to the 2015 roster: Cole Hamels (de facto ace)
Randy Ready was the progenitor of the only triple play I saw live.  I remember it was against San Diego in 1991 or 1992.  Closest comp to the 2015 roster: Cesar Hernandez
Jeff Parrett was somebody who I was confused about as a kid.  How could he have so many wins compared to the starters?  If that was the case, why didn't he pitch more so the Phillies could get more wins?  Closest comp to the 2015 roster: Luis Garcia (he has a win)
Darrel Akerfelds entered the bullpen and replaced some non-favorites like Todd Frohwirth.  I always felt like he was decent middle of the bullpen guy.  Closest comp to the 2015 roster: Justin DeFratus
Bruce Ruffin was one the wildest pitchers I remember (not counting Mitch Williams).  It must have all the wild pitches I remember happening.  Closest comp to the 2015 roster: David Buchanan

Well, I guess it could have been worse.  Memories are funny things.

Apr 12, 2015

The Battle for the Soul of 1955

Imagine being a child 60 years ago. Life could have been good in the summertime. Every day morning, you'd wake up, have a breakfast of champions, go to the general store for some candy and cards on the 5 cent weekly allowance, and then flip and trade and go tire rolling or bike riding until the sun went down.

 It's how I picture it anyway.....in sepia tones with a shadow gradient.

But the best part of being a child in 1955, is that there were two card companies going all out to clamor for attention.  Bowman had staked its claim as the futuristic set in 1955 with the well-known color TV design while Topps had decided to go back to the future by turning its 1954 set 90 degrees to a horizontal presentation.

The reason why there was a choice was because players signed exclusives with each of the companies, not creating true parity in competition.  Design is only one part of the collecting experience; player collection is the other....you want to get the players you want...especially that fit your collection.

For Phillies fans and collectors, there were 19 cards in the 1955 Bowman set, including team favorites and stars, Del Ennis, Richie Ashburn, Robin Roberts, and Willie Jones.

By contrast, the 1955 team set had 10 cards with very little overlap.  Instead, the collectors had to be content with non-stars and less favorites such as:
Ted Kazanski: a 20 year old back-up infielder.
Thornton Kipper: a 25 year old relief pitcher with a total of 31 games pitched.
Danny Schell: a 26 year old pinch hitter extraordinaire.

Probably the best known name on the Phillies Topps checklist was Bob Miller, so what is a team collector to do?  I guess the only option really was to convert to a Topps rookie collector and try for a Clemente and Koufax.....how tragic.

Feb 16, 2015

2007 Goudey: A Set of Strangely Magnetic Appeal

Who remembers 2007 Goudey? Back in the days of multi-company licensing, this was the Upper Deck response to the Topps retro set proliferation. This was the first iteration of the set, and the design wasn't based off a Goudey design per se.

 It seemed to be more of an amalgam of Goudey designs and the Diamond Stars set from the '30s. Where it really shined was in the duplication of the card size (they weren't minis, like in later sets) and in the art deco stylings of each of the player backgrounds. In the aggregate,  it was a memorable set that had a buzz about it.

I recently opened a box of the product and was struck by how easy it was to interpret which cards came out of each pack.  There were no unnumbered variations, unannounced insert sets, or parallels upon parallels.  The only misstep (a major one) was the forced inclusion of two essentially equal and parallel sets of different colored backs, usually evenly distributed within each pack.

This causes the completist in me want to complete each 200 card set, though they're exactly the same except the ink color on the back (green and red).  And I set out to do just that.  Additionally, the insert sets were numbered as part of the base set, also making me want to complete them.  And I set out to do that as well....Fortunately, the insert sets are of retired and modern players (like Kei Igawa and Ken Griffey Jr).  The Heads-up set even parallels itself....with different numbers.....to make a long story short, there are 488 cards to collect.  I now need 19, of which only 2 are considered SPs/inserts.

Shown below are some of the other results of the box.
Sport Royalty is a boxtopper.  You get a wrapped card in every box!  I bought a box because there was an off-chance (one in 12 boxes) or receiving an original Goudey card.  Instead, I received Greg Maddux in the well-remembered threads of his halcyon Padre days.
Goudey relics are inserted one per box and have the relics in the shape of a "G".  This stands for gazillion.
Autographs are also inserted one per box and are all on-card.  They are called Goudey Graphs (without the apostrophe in front of Graphs).  I at least received a one-time AL ERA leader.

Are there any simple sets out there anymore? And do we want them to be?  What does retro mean to you?  Why is being a completist such a curse?  (Curse you, card 277, you have evaded me for too long).