Sep 21, 2009


I'm away until September 26th. All people who I've agreed to trade with have had their cards sent before I left. I am cut off from baseball here (can you believe soccer's more popular over here?), and I didn't scan anything before leaving, so I won't post more until I return.

I will initiate a round 2 of A&G trades when I return as well. Getting closer...

Also, the magic number is 6!

Keep me updated if you like with real or false information in the comments.

Sep 18, 2009

SuperSlice of a Season Slices 13-16: Reflectives and Perspectives For the Stretch Run

Because I was incommunicative with the world for most of this time period, it's time to both ruminate and pontificate on times past and times future.

After 16 slices or (144 games), the Phillies are in a strong position for the postseason. At this point, it's simple math. They are 7 games up on the Marlins and 7.5 games up on the Braves with 18 games remaining. This is a large lead entering the stretch run of the season, but it is not insurmountable as recent history suggests. Let's take a look at what pieces are working and what pieces aren't as September brings shorter days and longer nights.

Chase Utley: He is the glue of the team. His steady bat production sometimes is overlooked, but with his continued .400+ OBP, it shouldn't be. Also, he's spectacular at 2nd base.
Cliff Lee: 7 wins, but more importantly 5 quality starts. He was hit around a bit, being a location and speed mixing pitcher, but his groove will continue to deepen.
Cole Hamels: Feeling comfortable as a second banana, 3-1 in September with a less than 2.5 ERA is stellar.
Carlos Ruiz: Great pitch caller and handler of pitchers. He has also upped his OPS+ to above 100.
Joe Blanton: The so-called innings eater of the rotation still has a greater than 7 K/IP. Only one non-quality start since the beginning of July.
Unassisted Triple Plays: Eric Bruntlett, send your uniform to the Hall of Fame!
Jimmy Rollin's Fielding: Only 5 errors as a SS all year with some heads-up play. One DP he turned with going to third base for the second out was indicative of his field awareness.
Jamie Moyer as a Reliever and Spot Starter: It rains, he appears, he dominates.
Selling Out the Ballpark: 3.2 million fans and counting and I can sense them all screaming with excitement.
Power and More Power: 205 HR and .450 SLG as a team.
Ben Francisco: The right handed spark off the bench that was lacking earlier. Not a great player, but has a .520 SLG.
Pedro Martinez: Quite a change-up he has! 5-0 in 7 starts.
The Prodigal Son Returns: Brett Myers is a bullpen ace? He may take over the closer's role before all is said and done.

Raul Ibanez: very streaky player needs to turn around when the stretch run and postseason arrive
Brad Lidge: he has a 7.18 ERA and 30 Saves, how can this be?
Ryan Madson: Great set-up man, but wilts under the 9th inning spotlight
Offensive cohesiveness: There are days when the hits are scattered, and there are other days when they are not. Crooked numbers are good to see. Starting with the Giants series earlier, there were few games in which the Phillies scored more than 4 runs over a 15 game stretch or so.
Pedro Feliz: He is playing at his career average, but he needs to show more.
Matt Stairs: one grand slam not withstanding, he had been horrific with 26 straight hitless ABs
Jayson Werth's Fielding: This guy is a threat at the plate. 34 HRs is an amazing total. Plus he has patience and can work a count. Sometimes it seems he loses focus in the field, letting a groundball go through him or being indecisive about where to throw the ball. It's laser focus time.
Losing Trap Series: They got swept by Houston 4 straight. This is a below .500 team, there is no reason for this to happen except shoddy play and a leaky bullpen. These issues must be resolved before October anyway. These are not the 2005 Astros.
Situational hitting: Runner on third, less than two outs, get the run anyway you can. All players have heard this a million times.
Injuries: Romero, Condrey, Eyre, Park, Happ: All fill roles that could be considered integral. Luckily, the team has some pitching depth this year.

The remaining schedule will allow the Phillies to thrive if they allow they play their game, bludgeon the opponents with power and use the starting pitching to put them to sleep before the bullpen sets everyone's teeth on edge.

Here are the keys to each of the series.

@ATL-First, hope that Chipper Jones remains slumpy and/or injured. He enjoys a little too much ripping the Phils. They have to solve Derek Lowe and win a pitching duel against Jair Jurrjens or Javier Vazquez. The Braves' strength is their pitching; don't let the hitting beat you, especially the new Mark Lemke (Martin Prado).

@FLA-Neutralize the potential start that Josh Johnson makes. Tuesday's a doubleheader day. The starting pitching depth of the Phillies should be the difference. Kendrick should thrive in the spacious Marlins stadium. Speaking of stadiums, do not complain if a HR is taken away by dimensions! Adjust and run with it.

@MIL: Take advantage of the weak starting pitching (Parra, Bush, Suppan, all righties) in the first few innings and then hold on.

HOU: Don't make it a revenge series. Win 2 of 3 with some Ben Francisco help against Wandy Rodriguez.

FLA: I hope this series is unnecessary in the scheme of things.

Sep 16, 2009

Drop Everything Now!

I don't care what you're doing or reading right now. Drop everything and go to today. It's a Fire Joe Morgan reunion today!

For those who don't know who Fire Joe Morgan was, it was a conglomerate of guys who excoriate bad baseball chats and writing. (who did it for a long time as pseudonyms until one day it was discovered that they were all professional comedy writers, including one guy from The Office, which made the site even more awesome in my eyes). They have been retired for awhile, but read them today and their archives and laugh at some baseball writer banality.

This has been a public service announcement sponsored by nobody.

Sep 12, 2009

A Look at AT&T Park in San Francisco

I went to the Phillies vs. Giants game on August 2 and unfortunately, as has happened the three previous years that I have attended a Phillies game in San Francisco, the Phillies lost. This time it was ugly and they had no chance, so I didn't feel so bad.

Sidenote: Is it strange I'm less bothered by losses than I used to be? The Phillies are in first place, the Phillies are in first place...2008, yes...1964, no...this is the mantra.

Losses in which the other team outplays your team are easier to swallow than blown opportunities. Though there are opportunities nearly every inning, just track AVG with RISP and less than 2 outs the last couple weeks to source frustration of the fans of nearly every team.

In any case, I sat further away than I would prefer because I went with a group of people. Here's some photos of the general atmosphere of the stadium, set on the Bay (does the Bay actually have a formal name?), next to a bunch of piers.

Action on the field,the Giants were setting up for a rally, which was successful.

The left side of the Phillies infield warming up.

The huge HD scoreboard. This is one of the best scoreboards I've ever seen. It gives the scoring decisions next to the lineup as plays occur and even incorporates OPS into the statistics shown.

A view of left field. That Coke bottle is actually a functioning sliding board.

A view of the scoreboard in center field again. Davey Lopes's visage appears.

The whole outfield with the Bay in the background. That boat has to stay until 15 minutes until the game is finished. One time I was at a game that went into the 13th inning. And you know those people that leave early? They were on the boat for nearly 90 minutes. Being in San Francisco at night, it was also freezing.

The view down the right field line. Behind there is the famed McCovey Cove. During day games, you can usually find a couple kayaks or boats out there. During a night game, there's usually none. Some player doesn't play here anymore.

Overall, it's a fun place to watch a game. Plus during a cold night, you can enjoy clam chowder in a bread bowl. Giants fans, for the most part, don't mind if you're cheering for the opposing team (except if the Dodgers or A's are visiting). I recommend coming here....during a day game.

Sep 11, 2009

Climbing Out of the Time-Sucking Abyss

That would be fantasy football. I had three drafts this week, and seeing as how I am an A-grade procrastinator, I did nothing all week during my free time except project performance and predict playing time for every single NFL player that could possibly be drafted. The leagues I'm in are large (12 teams or greater) with usually large rosters, making drafting backups not out of the ordinary. For those who like to debate the merits of these type of things, I'll list out the skeletons of the rosters for comment. I'm no expert prognosticator, but I think my teams have potential.

League 1 (12 teams: lineup: QB, RB, WR, RB/WR, RB/WR, TE, K, DEF, yardage league)

QBs: Eli Manning, Shaun Hill
RBs: Chris Johnson, Ladanian Tomlinson, Kevin Smith, Lendale White, Lesean McCoy
WRs: Wes Welker, Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Steve Breaston
TE: Visanthe Shiancoe
K: Shayne Graham
DEF: Panthers

League 2 (14 teams: lineup: QB, RB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, RB/WR, TE, K, DEF, yardage league)
QBs: Donovan McNabb, Matt Cassel
RBs: Maurice Jones-Drew, Ahmad Bradshaw, Donald Brown, Tim Hightower, Mike Bell, Earnast Graham
WRs: Greg Jennings, Marques Colston, TJ Houshmandzadeh, Kevin Curtis, some other guy
TE: Visanthe Shiancoe
K: Jeff Reed
DEF: Packers

League 3 (14 teams: lineup: QB, RB, WR, RB/WR, RB/WR, K, DEF, practially TD-only league, only high yardage bonuses)
QBS: Tony Romo, Jake Delhomme
RBs: Reggie Bush, Jonathan Stewart, Tim Hightower, Willis McGahee
WRs: Randy Moss, Steve Smith, Anthony Gonzalez, Patrick Crayton
K: Steve Gostkowski
DEF: somebody or other

And this is what I've been doing this week. I'll get back to cards and Phillies next.

Sep 6, 2009

Allen and Ginter Box Summary

Summary of the box contents (which I'm really pleased with, regardless of the Gint-a-Cuffs score)

There were no duplicates in the box.

Short Set: 120 out of 300
Short-printed base cards: 12 out of 50
National Pride: 24 out of 75
Code Card Parallels: 2 out of 100
SketchCards: 4 out of 25
Cabinet Card: 1 out of 10
Minis: 24 in Total
Broken down with 8 regular Minis, 2 short-printed regular Minis, 6 A&G Back Minis, 2 Black Bordered Minis, 1 No-Numbered Mini, 2 Hoaxes, 2 National Heroes, 1 Creature of Legend
2 Relics (bat and jersey)
One RIP card

I'm putting together the rest of A&G cards that I have, and will post a wantlist and tradelist shortly.

Gint-a-Cuffs Packs 23 and 24:In Which a Milestone is Reached

Unfortunately, it's doubtful that I'll hit 500 HRs in my career, but I did finish sorting this box. Overall, it was a fun experience. I would say there were two annoyances: the National Pride cards at one per pack and the fact that you get almost as many A&G Back minis as normal minis. I would say make one or the other the standard and only have the black bordered parallel and up scarcity.

Pack 23
111: Jason Giambi
265: Paul Konerko
269: Brian McCann +2

177: David Freese RC
Mini 7: John Smoltz
Relic Game-Used Jersey: Ichiro! +8

National Pride NP33: Hanley Ramirez +4

Pack Total: 14

Pack 24
118: Scott Olsen -1

122: Dontrelle Willis
107: Bryan Berg
56: Daniel Murphy
213: Stephanie Brown Trafton
136: Mickey Mantle -1

Mini National Heroes NH33: Skanderberg (Albania) +5

Mini No Number Erik Bedard 28/50 +10 with ink!

National Pride NP19: Erik Bedard (Canada)

Pack Total: 13

Final Total: 232
Not in last!

Sep 5, 2009

Gint-a-Cuffs Packs 21 and 22: In Which a Ripping Dilemma Appears

I'm going to cut right to the point. Scroll down to pack 22. I pulled a rip card! It was surreal pulling it out of the pack. My first thought was "this card is thicker" My second was "hey, it's numbered out of 99" My third was "I could finally perform acts of cruelty upon a card" (Ok, that last one really isn't true) I did jump out of the sofa and show everyone (i.e. noone). I haven't ripped it yet. I would like to know people's thoughts about whether to do it and how to go about it. Or if I don't rip it, what else to do with it.

Pack 21
84: Justin Upton
288: Joe Saunders
276: Michael Phelps
237: Walton Glenn Eller
14: Troy Tulowitzki
324: Wladimir Balentien +5

Mini A&G Back Travis Snider RC +2

National Pride NP32: Rich Harden (Canada)

Pack Total: 7

Pack 22
166: Gil Meche
73: Vernon Wells
96: Geronimo
29: Jonathan Papelbon
RIP CARD Yadier Molina 52/99 +25

Mini Black-Border 296:Bobby Abreu +3

National Pride NP17: Felix Hernandez (Venezuela)

Pack Total: 28

Total After 22 Packs: 205

On Pace For: 223

Sep 4, 2009

Gint-a-Cuffs Packs 19 and 20: In Which Freshness is Locked In

Card companies must be fatigued fromc onstantly designing cards because a lot of designs are rehashed. Though a few tweaks from previous years has made this A&G offering a breath of fresh air compared to the dullness of 2008 (seriously, the black typeface from last year bothers me). The addition of action poses with a washed out stadium background to some cards has lent
freshness to this run of 4 years of this set. The Cole Hamels and Mariano Rivera cards are two of my favorite from this year's offering. In an unrelated note, was William Tell a real person, and how did he get a whole overture named after him that sounds like horses galloping when he's known for his archery skills....the mysteries of life.

Pack 19
179: Trevor Hoffman
150: Prince Fielder
235: Roy Oswalt
157: Jason Motte RC
151: Cole Hamels +1

247: Jeff Clement -1

Mini National Heroes NH31: William Tell (Switzerland) +5

National Pride NP31: Grady Sizemore (USA) +4

Pack Total: 9

Pack 20
206: Miguel Tejada
159: Denard Span
117: Blake DeWitt
219: Nate McLouth
278: Herb Simpson +2

Mini 36: Joba Chamberlain -1

311: Gavin Floyd +5

National Pride NP30: Jose Contreras (Cuba)

Pack Total: 6

Total After 20 packs: 170
On Pace For: 202

What's the best way to store melted chocolate chip cookies anyway?

Sep 3, 2009

Gint-a-Cuffs Packs 17 and 18: In Which there is Lurking Fear

Every big-leaguer has a fear, mostly of failure. I mean, a 70% success rate as a batter is considered great and for a pitcher, it's nearly the same (when a ball is put into play). Some though, give fear to players, managers, or fans (ok, well probably more to fans) based on their skillset of prodigious talent, unpredictability, or underwhelming performance. Who doesn't have a sinking feeling in their stomach when a constantly lit-up reliever strolls into the game? This is fear. When a slugger is at the plate, the manager adjusts strategy? When some people take their hacks or throw their pitches, who doesn't want to cover their eyes? (Eric Bruntlett this year, Adam Eaton in years past). Let's rate the players pulled in these packs in fear quotient on a scale of 1-10 (from an opposing fan's perspective)

Pack 17
261: John Danks-5
287: James Shields-5
30: Ryan Howard +1-9

80: Joe Martinez RC-1
306: Cliff Lee +5-8

Mini Creatures of Legend, Myth, and Terror LMT16: Cerberus +7-10

Sketch Card AGHS15: Jon Lester +3-8

National Pride NP22: David Wright (USA) +4-7 (only Mets player standing)

Pack Total: 20

Pack 18
4: Jorge Posada -1-6
6: Adam Eaton-(negative 100)
114: Hideki Matsui -1-4
126: Trevor Crowe RC-1
81: Willie Williams +2-N/A

Mini 8: Matt Cain-7
307: Hunter Pence +5-5

National Pride NP18: Robinson Cano (Dominican Republic) -1-9 (he'll swing at anything)

Pack Total: 4

Total After 18 Packs:155
On Pace For: 204

This is the first time in a long time that there's a shot that I will surpass 200 points and not be dead last. I was really down until the last few packs; I thought Topps had forgotten to put any interesting cards in here. You will see that that is not true. I love the Cerberus card, I would have been happy with just that.

Sep 2, 2009

Gint-a-Cuffs Packs 15 and 16: In Which the Poses are Both Old and Fresh

There are usually standard poses in which baseball players are depicted: swinging, running, throwing, staring menacingly at a camera. There are variations on this because not all motions are alike nor are all poses without any type of personality. Observe the scanned cards below.

Pack 15
106: Mike Jacobs
248: Colby Rasmus RC
142: Lashawn Merritt
17: Manny Ramirez
349: Aubrey Huff +5 He is studying the pitcher's release point, trying to squint against the sunlight. It's awesome how the splash of color in the background acts as his shadow.

Sketch Card AGHS14: Ichiro +3 Classic Ichiro swing when he turns on one towards the right field line instead of the performing the running-through-the batter's box hit.

Mini A&G Back 287: James Shields +2 Mr. Planter hasn't changed since 1887 (I think).

National Pride NP16: Jake Peavy (USA)

Pack Total: 10

Pack 16
189: Casey Kotchman
141: Carlos Zambrano
216: Derek Lowe
68: Jamie Moyer +1 Looking up, which is strange because he's already at the top. He looks venerable here.

282: Eric Chavez
Mini 338: Jason Wong +7 Very casual pose. If his glasses had some color, this card would really pop.

92: Joe Mauer +2 Relaxing because it's nice to not squat for awhile.

National Pride NP15: Jorge Posada (Puerto Rico) -1 Standard batting pose, though the flag may be a distraction for the opposing pitcher.

Pack Total: 9
Total After 16 Packs: 131
On Pace For: 193

If they painted a Ginter card of you, how would you pose?

Gint-a-Cuffs Packs 13 and 14: In Which Nostalgia Plays a Role

Longing for the past is a trait that most people have ingrained in their psyche. It's called the good old days mostly because the bad old parts are glossed over like an SPx surface. There are always things that are missed about previous experiences, and this especially holds true for athletes. There was only one point in their life where this skillset from their youth could come to fruition to play professional baseball. The following question is asked: if this player could change one thing about their baseball experience, what would it be?

Pack 13
144: Joakim Soria: more save opportunities or the chance to be a starter
240: Hank Blalock: no back problems, continued power development after all-star game home run off gagne
124: Donald Veal RC: name recognition
112: Millito Navarro +2: maybe a different world?

313: Jeff Francis: +5: less Coors Field, more Petco Park

Sketch Card AGHS17: Chipper Jones +5: Larry has been blessed by the baseball gods. Less playoff disappointment?

Mini 57: Frank Evans +2: see Navarro

National Pride NP34: Nick Markakis (USA) +4: more meaningful games in August and September to ply the trade

Pack Total: 18

Pack 14
62: Dan Uggla: people to watch him play
123: Barry Zito: a less publicized contract and some mph gained back on his fastball
86:Michael Cuddyer:
125: Randy Johnson: 1998 playoffs redux
178: Adam LaRoche +2: to skip April and go straight to May

Mini 122: Dontrelle Willis: the D-train needs to find the tracks of 2005
301: Jonathan Sanchez +5: that no-hitter was pretty sweet. Why can't every game be like that?

National Pride NP14: Francisco Rodriguez (Venezuela): shouldn't have left the Angels, the 2009 Mets are cursed.

Pack Total: 7

Total After 14 Packs:112
On Pace For: 187

If only I had stuck with baseball past 11 years old....I still would not be on a card (I wasn't even close to that good)

Sep 1, 2009

Gint-a-Cuffs Packs 11 and 12: In Which Infield Hits Trump the Long Ball

This edition is in honor of Ichiro, the infield hit maven and the first card pulled from this set of 2 packs. Other speedsters also joined him in his pack (Ellsbury, Gardner). The second pack has a different take on speed...namely, how fast can a major league career get off track? Whether by injury or poor performance nearly all of these players, have not been graced by the hand of major league success.

Pack 11
271:Jair Jurrjens
183: Pedro Feliz +1

11: Jacoby Ellsbury
295: Brett Gardner -1

Code Card Parallel 193: Khalil Greene +2

Mini A&G Back 235: Roy Oswalt +2

National Pride NP35: Manny Ramirez (Dominican Republic)

Pack Total: 4

Pack 12
63: Andrew Miller-in AAA
191: Hiroki Kuroda-injured
195: Kevin Kouzmanoff-less than .300 OBP
32: Jeremy Bonderman-injured
119: Scott Lewis RC-untested
35: Geovany Soto +2-major sophomore slump

Mini A&G Back 283: Mike Aviles +2-injured

National Pride NP21: Scott Hairston (Mexico)-traded to the A's (I kid, though he was on the DL before)

Pack Total: 4

Total After 12 Packs:87
On Pace For: 167

Halfway through and I'm speeding to the bottom of the list.