Mar 28, 2012

It's Written in the Stars To Rest

To be involved in baseball card season is to be a collector. To anticipate the breezy comments of the passing of the first week of March is to be a baseball fan. Of course, I'm going on vacation as it starts. It must be written in the stars. See you in a couple weeks.

And may Ryan Howard's star sign smile down upon you all as he's healing....(well at least the Phillies when I'm away)

Mar 25, 2012

Wondrous (overlooked) Seasons of the Past: Sal Bando, 1973

Sal Bando is not usually a name when one thinks of dominant hitters of the '70s.  Usually there are names like Morgan, Bench, Schmidt, Jackson, and Rice that probably come to mind first.   There was a stretch from 1969-1974 where Bando was always among the best in the league.  For a full rundown of his career exploits, read my previous post.   

In 1973, though, Bando could probably lay claim to being the best hitting player in the American League.  He only led the league in two counting stats or average categories (total bases and doubles).  However, it was his well-rounded contribution that led him to leading the league in the hitting component category of WAR.  He was 8th in OBP, 3rd in SLG, 5th in OPS (2nd in OPS+), 9th in at-bats, 5th in runs, 7th in hits, 4th in HR and RBI, and 7th in BB.

If there was a category that represented hitting in an excellent manner, he was among the leaders for this year.  Historically, the raw numbers don't stack up to other luminous hitting seasons, but for this hitting era, it was excellent, especially for the American League.  During 1973, most of the great hitting years were in the National League.  What also put his great year into context was the adjusted OPS of 150+ (where 100 is league average).  This is an ballpark-adjusted figure and his increase in rank from OPS shows the difficulty in hitting the Athletics stadium  (for reference, the one year park factor for the coliseum for hitters was 88 (which I think means it was 12% harder for a hitter to hit in than the average ballpark in 1973).  Sal Bando had a great year in context and continued his power surge in the ALCS as he hit two more home runs.  

 It's not always the all-time greats of the game that rise to top of their league for a season and they are all worth remembering.

Mar 23, 2012

A Small Trade Shout-out to Kickoff the Weekend

I know there's a few strings of thought on this topic in the burgeoning hobby world some possibly like to call the cardblogosphere.  Some are all about the trade post....others are all about hiding the trade post in the sidebar, and still others do not wish to talk about it for fear that it will take over their blog.

I wish I were more conscientious in recognizing those who spent the time to mail things to me whether in a trade or because they thought I would like something.  In turn, I wish I did more of that sort of thing for other people.  That was one of my goals for this year, to reciprocate and communicate better with those who contact me. And because the former baseline was nearly zero, I think I've improved....but it can be much better.

Excuse the introspection in what is mainly an outrospective (extrospective?) media.  For all those who have contacted me in vain in the past, I don't forget, I just get lost in the rabbit hole with my little jars of teas and crumpets at which point the river of cards flow over me, and I'm forced through a door where the only thing I can see is collectors running in circles after bouncing boxes and flapping pack wrappers, which are then chasing after bricks (don't ask).   I digress....

Here was a pleasantly small trade I completed recently with Justin of The Hopeful Chase.  When I posted the first packs of hockey cards I had opened in 18 years, he saw two cards he liked and he had two cards that would appeal to me.  An old-fashioned two for two challenge trade like Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar for Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff....except with cards we both wanted.

I received a 2011 Topps Joe Blanton, who this year will be counted on to be more than an injured elbow with the Phillies.  I think he's wearing the 4th of July cap on this card.

 And also received a 2009 Allen and Ginter black bordered mini of Chase Utley, which is a totally wicked card of a player that needs to get well soon. 
The best part is that these cards allowed me to fill in enough spots (according to my arbitrary counting methods) to begin the modern-era Phillies binder.  All Allen & Ginter mini Phillies will be the cover/first pages of the binder, and the 2011 section has now been combined and collated and otherwise happily slid into their polymeric pockets.

I'm still on the lookout for more Phillies minis and 2011 Phillies (all now featured in their own tabs on the wantlist consolidated page).

Thanks Justin!

Mar 21, 2012

The Heritage Substitution Cards: 1963 Topps Phillies

As in the past two years, when the Heritage brand comes out, I'm going to attempt (with that being the operative word) to collect the corresponding vintage Phillies team set from the year that the Heritage brand is replicating. So far this year, I'm having a devil of a time locating affordable 1963 Topps Phillies cards. For some reason, 1961 and 1962 cards were comparatively easier to find. Any suggestions for locating these wayward cards of yesteryear on the intertubes besides the world's biggest marketplace?

These cards I purchased at a show late last year, and even there, 1963 was in much less quantity compared to other years around that time period (or maybe it was the Phillies cards only, memory is fuzzy like that).

With what little I have, I've decided to present the pieces of one of the most improved teams from year to year ever (because 1961 was that bad),in which the Phillies managed to improve by 34 games (probably due to the addition of the two expansion teams) and still only finish in 7th place, at least they beat the expansion teams....

Bobby Wine: Years on the Phillies: 1960-1968.  Notable fact: Never had a greater than .600 OPS for any season of his career.
Bob Oldis: Years on the Phillies:  1962-1963.  Notable Fact: Had one career home run and had higher OBP than SLG for his career.
Dallas Green: Years on Phillies: 1960-1964, 1967... Notable Fact: Member of the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame.
Art Mahaffey: Years on Phillies: 1960-1965  Notable Fact: Was selected as an all-star in 1961 despite finishing with 11-19 record.
Clay Dalrymple Years on Phillies: 1960-1968...Notable Fact:  Threw out 48.8% of runners trying to steal for his career and led the league with 8 sacrifice flies in 1964.  This is the last card until 1969 that shows an image of him doing a catcher's squat.

That is all I was able to rustle up so far.  I think I like them better than 2012 Heritage, but then again, Heritage is not a brand I normally collect.  Anything with a color swap variation that is random and requires a  visual checklist to determine if you have one is not something I will actively seek out in large quantities. 

Here's to the 1963 Phillies....if only I can find more of you to continue my collecting trend.

Mar 17, 2012

Contest Winnings from Sports Card Info

I would never buy a box of Playoff Contenders for a few reasons.  One is because it's out my price range; two is because the label-less hats remind me of the hats I wore in T-ball, and three is because there's just something about getting minor league autos all the time that irks me. 

Besides all that, this is a great looking card (#d to 99 for those curious), and it's called Sweet Signs.  I guess that means it would make an awesome road sign or the signature is sweet or the card is coated with sugar. 

In any case, cheers to Sports Card Info for drawing my name.  If you haven't seen his site, you should have by now....he's been around at least since 2008, has a ton of giveaways, and is one of the leading experts in indentifying counterfeits.

Until next time....

Mar 14, 2012

A Gaggle of 2011 Bowman

Sometimes you get a lot of packs of a product and you're not sure why. You look down into the depths of your card cabinet (isn't that where everyone keeps their cards, in a cabinet with shelving that gets exponentially smaller as one moves from left to right?) and see a collection of 40 odd packs of this product and you forget why it was there. Was it an investment in Bryce Harper (likely)? Was it an illicit rampage through a Target aisle (somewhat likely)? Could it have been that they were wishes granted by the gnome that lives under my dryer (slightly less likely)?

In any case, I decided it was an affront to my nature to leave those packs untouched...that, and I did want a Bryce Harper....hype, hype, hype it up. I am as susceptible as anyone else....

What can possibly be inside? I'm not going to show any base cards because they look like almost every Bowman set since 2001.

Brett Brach prospect auto: I did get an auto....of a the Cleveland system...I don't know anything about the Cleveland system.

Behold! Something brighter this way comes....
The sun shines bright upon the  visage of Harper; the sun's even blinding in the photo.....because the future is so bright....yes, those were violins in response.
The real Bryce Harper rookie....of course, it's the prospect Bowman rookie, which is two years after his 2009 Upper Deck Signature Stars USA Rookie (unlicensed, doesn't count) or after his USA auto in 2010 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects (doesn't count, USA card), and then if he makes his debut this year,we can finally get one with the patriotic rookie emblem of power.  I don't care anymore....

It's an orange parallel! But the not kind people want (meaning a refractor). This one was numbered to 250...meh.

It's a green parallel numbered to 450, also not a refractor.  You would think that all parallels in Bowman for prospects would be refractors by now.
Finally, a refractor!  Of course, it's of the rarest version of purple....what's that?  In this product, purple is the most common version of refractor...this one is numbered to 700 or something.  At least I got one of the top prospect in the White Sox system....he is competing for the closer's job this spring, vacated by the traded away Sergio Santos.
Another purple refractor numbered to 700 of a prospect with a lot of power (over .500 SLG in the Florida State League in 2010); he was the Tampa organizational player of the year in 2011 and is a candidate to win the backup catcher's role with the MLB club in 2012.
More green....I just found it interesting that his last name starts with a Y.
Tyler Moore has a chance to be a player. He has had 30 HRs in two straight seasons in the minors, and I would not have known this if I did not get a purple card of him.
I;m not sure which is more unnecessary, this parallel or the green, since this is one is numbered to 500 and this blue (light blue? Bowman baby blue?) is numbered to 500.  Now this guy has had a journey to make it to the majors briefly last year.  Check out his transactions from Baseball Reference.  He finally made it to the Dodgers at the age of 33.

I can only think of three things that are ever granted in this world: wishes, bonuses, and free agency.

And that is the colorful world of 2011 Bowman which you may have missed out on while you were not collecting the set or only opening jumbo boxes of them to get the autos and refractor parallels (which are the only ones that count)

Mar 9, 2012

Stat Anomaly: 20 Losses, 1957 Robin Roberts

Sometimes great pitchers have a year that they don't want to remember.   Sometimes it means that it was an off year where the pitches don't go where they think they're going.  Sometimes it means that sore arm syndrome has struck you down.  Or sometimes it means that the best years are gone, and there will only be glimpses for the rest of your career.  

It is debatable what had happened to Roberts in 1957.  He was coming off 7 straight seasons of 297 or more innings per season, with the last five years leading the NL in complete games.  His hit rate and home run rate increased to career highs in 1956, and he had a full record of 19-18.   It was his first non-dominant full season of his career.  Let's see what happened in 1957.

On the aggregate, 1957 may have been the worst season of his career to that point.  He finished with a 10-22 record with a 4.07 ERA (93 ERA+) and led the league in earned runs allowed and home runs allowed, even though he pitched an 8 year low of 249 innings (note: he also led the league in these categories the previous two seasons).  His K/BB ratio also dropped below 3.0 for the first time since 1951 (though it was still 2.98 and 2nd in the league, his control must have been incredible).  On the positive side, he finished 2nd in the league in WHIP, 2nd in BB/9, 5th in innings, and 8th in K.  He just may have been more....hittable.... for lack of a better word. 

His first start may have been a contributing factor to the poor season in the modern view of pitching usage....check out this line....12 IP, 12 H, 7 R, 4 BB, 8 K, 190 that's how you conserve your ace through the duration of the season.   He also had another 12 inning start in May.

I count only 4 hard luck losses to his ledger....when he didn't have it, he really allowed a lot of runs (4 or more). In wins and no decisions, he had approximately 2.00 ERA and in losses, he had a 5.61 ERA. 

It looked like the years of 300+ innings had begun to caught up with him at the age of 30, but it wasn't even close to the end for the ace of the first half of the '50s.

Mar 6, 2012

The Gold Rush Arriveth

I also sent away for a pack of the Topps Gold Rush wrapper redemption. Who knows, it may be possible to strike it rich with 5 card redemption packs of cards....who am I kidding? Shiny or golden cards have been number one in collectors' hearts since 1992. Let's rip open the pack and see if there was anything to get excited about, sell all my land, and move to Alaska (or Duryea, PA).

 Mitch Moreland-Texas: Not that exciting, but at least he was on a pennant winner.
 Carlos Gonzalez-Rockies: The Coors Field extraordinaire (.999 OPS at home and .757 OPS on the road) is also golded up.
 Dennis Eckersley-A's: It looks like my scanner put the Eck askew, but it works with his sidearm throwing motion.
 Brett Gardner-Yankees: The newest Yankee speedster...still probably not going to hit leadoff, probably was the best fielding outfielder in the AL in 2011.
Josh Hamilton-Rangers: The 2010 MVP needs to get back on track by staying healthy and resisting the urge to slide into home plate head first into a catcher.    Even with that, he still only had 33 less plate appearance in 2011 compared to 2010.

So there it is, a pack of cards received in the mail...this may have been the reason I got a 2012 Topps box, one never knows.  Incidentally, this is the only insert set I'm pursuing from series 1 (besides the requisite Phillies).  What can I say, a collector's life boils down to choices....otherwise, there's just cards piled up in all corners of a living room, unsorted, and scattered.  Maybe I need a real gold rush to hire someone to take care of all the stuff I don't take care there's a redemption card idea.

Mar 3, 2012

2012 Topps Series 1 Up for Grabs...

I have the following duplicates for 2012 Series 1:

325, 316, 314, 300, 295, 291, 285, 284, 283, 282, 271, 264, 260, 253, 248, 240, 237, 214, 204, 188, 187, 186, 185, 182, 180, 176, 175, 171, 169, 162, 154, 138, 131, 129, 127, 121, 119, 118, 111, 105, 101, 100, 88, 84, 70, 68, 67, 66, 65, 52, 44, 40, 38, 23, 22, 14, 9, 7

First come, first served by e-mail....

If you really want to send me something in return, I need 39, 258, 317 from 2012 Topps or any other card from my wantlist. If you don't want to send anything in return, that's alright too. I'm happy to help out a fellow set collector for nothing....

Hope somebody needs these numbers...