Sunday, November 29, 2009

Song of the Week - Der Kommisar by After The Fire

I have 8,312 songs on iTunes. This is one of them.

Nothing says 1980s to me more than New Wave music videos. This was back in the days when MTV actually existed to play music videos. When I was looking for this song on YouTube I also found the Falco version in German. I was aware of this version of the song but am more familiar with the After The Fire version. So I decided to post them both for your enjoyment, or angst, whatever.

The After the Fire version catches the whole twilight of the Cold War thing while the Flaco version doesn't do anything for me. If you're late to New Wave, you might want to check out this post here for a list of the top 150 New Wave songs. Let the arguments begin.

Friday, November 27, 2009

1989 Donruss

I'm still working my way through the box of baseball related stuff I bought at the church bazaar a few weeks ago. One of the things in there was a box of 1989 Donruss cards. This box had 24 39-card packs. That's 936 cards. I already had about 325 cards of the 658-card set. So I thought I had a good shot at completing the set. Think again. I'm still about 150 cards short. Many, many duplicates. I'm not really interested in completing the set but more interested in getting the cards of the players I collect from the set. There I did pretty well. I already had all the Phillies from the set. Now I have nearly all of the players I collect. The key card in this set is the Griffey rookie card which I already had. Now I have 3 more. In each pack were two of the Warren Spahn puzzle cards. I was able to complete the puzzle. When and if I can get my act together it will be the focus of a later post. Here are the cards of the players that I picked up that I collect, in alphabetical order.Robert Alomar in his second season, bunting. You don't see a lot of cards with players bunting.
I may now have every 1980's George Bell card and I don't even know why.
One of my favorite players.
Joe Carter in his pre-Phillie killer days.
Coleman stole 65 bases in 1989. There is a regular card of him in the set which is one of the few cards I'm missing.

I picked up Cone's regular card and Diamond King card. In those days, the Diamond Kings were a subset of the regular set, the first 25 cards or so.
The Hawk.
In 1989, I wasn't much interested in Lenny Dykstra until he was traded to the Phillies in June. I think I have most of his cards as a Met now.
Evans was in his 18th season in 1989. He hit 20 home runs and knocked in 100 rbis.
Glavine was in his 3rd season. He was 14-8.
This was Doc's least productive season so far in his career. He was only 9-4 in 19 games. But he's rebound in 1990 with a 19-7 record.
Goose was in his 18th season and fading fast, his glory days long behind him.
Tony lead the league in hits and batting average in 1989.
Rickey was hitting .247 with only 25 steals when the Yankees traded him to the A's in June. He responded by hitting .294 with 55 steals for Oakland.

Orel finished the season with 59 consecutive scoreless innings, a new record. doesn't keep this stat so I don't know if he extended it in 1990 or if he still holds the record.
I wasn't a Pete Incaviglia fan in 1989 but he will eventually play for both the Phillies and the Astros so I started collecting his earlier cards.
Randy Johnson's rookie card.
Another player I wasn't too interested in back in 1989 until he was traded to the Phillies in June. In June of 1989, the Phillies made two key trades which got them to the World Series in 1993, Kruk and Dykstra.
I think I got interested in McGee in the 1987 World Series when he hit .370 in a losing cause against the Twins.
Mark McGwire when he still more or less looked like a normal human being.
I hardly ever saw him play because he was in the American career but I always like Molitor. And I guess with good reason. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2004.
Tony was in his 3rd year with the Cardinals and thinks he looks really cool in red.
The Rock.
Another key pickup from this set.
Potential future HOFer. He retired in 2006 so too soon to know.
In his second season, Smoltz was 12-11.
In his 7th season, Strawberry was still a formidable force but 1989 was not his best year. His next two years will be good and then 1992 happens.
Another player I collect whose regular card from this set I do not have. And another future HOFer.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Song of the Week -

I have 8,206 songs on iTunes. This is one of them.

Cryin' jag
There are a lot of pop and rock tunes which have to do with crying. Here are the ones I have:

Cry - Dan Wilson
Cry Baby - Janis Joplin
Cry Baby Cry - The Beatles
Cry Freedom - Dave Matthews Band
Cry Like an Angel - Shawn Colvin
Cry Me A River - Joe Cocker
The Cry of Eugene - The Nice
Cryin' Smoke - Ganglians
Crying In the Chapel - Sonny Til and The Orioles
Crying Lightning - Artic Monkees
Don't Cry - Asia
Don't Cry - Neil Young
Don't Cry - Olivia Broadfield
Don't Cry - Seal
Don't Cry Now - Neil Young
Don't Cry Sister - JJ Cale and Eric Clapton
Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying - Rickie Lee Jones
For Crying Out Loud - Meatloaf
Had To Cry Today - Blind Faith
(I'm A Man And) I Can't Cry - Neil Young and The Squires
I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry - Cassandra Wilson
It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry - Bob Dylan
Never Make Me Cry - Fleetwood Mac
No Woman No Cry - Bob Marley
Reason To Cry - Lucinda Williams
Sister Cry - The Jayhawks
You Don't Have to Cry - Crosby, Stills, and Nash
You Won't Have to Cry - The Byrds.

Well, let's spin the wheel and see what we can find on YouTube. Ok, Joe Cocker it is. If this doesn't wake you up on Sunday morning, nothing will.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thursday Night at the Movies - 2012

I've been dying to see this movie since I saw the first trailer, which must have been 18 months ago. It was worth the wait. The science (if you want to call it that) is pure hokum. Excessive neutrinos from the sun are heating the earth's core? What? And the Mayan calendar isn't given much more attention. But watching John Cusack and his family making one death defying escape after another? Priceless. If you're looking for great acting don't come here. Mostly it's about reacting to cracks opening in the earth and buildings falling down. In the end, some of the characters do make some redemption for their save themselves at all cost behavior, but mostly it's people running and screaming and stuff falling on them. Danny Glover makes a good president. Very dignified. If you want to be a real spoilsport go to and read all the factual errors. I was thinking about some of them while watching the movie (would John Cusack's character really be able to out race a volcanic cloud that was moving almost as fast as their airplane when they took off?), but the special effects just make you forget about all of that.

So even though the movie has just about the highest death toll of any movie I've ever seen (6 billion people?) it was a lot of fun and pretty exciting.

I would not take a child younger than 10 to this movie. Some of the scenes are very intense and there are two major characters who are younger than 10 which I think would make it even more frightening to little kids.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Players I Collect - Jim Abbott

This is the first in what will be a long series on players that I collect. My reasons for collecting a particular player are many and, on retrospect, don't always make complete sense. But once I start collecting a player I generally keep collecting, unless the player turns into a complete bust (Rick Ankiel comes to mind). My plan is to feature one card per year of the player's career. And I'm only going to cover non-Phillies and non-Astros in this series, or else it will never end. I'm going to do this in alphabetical order so we start with Jim Abbott.

I was always fascinated with Jim Abbott even though I'm not sure I actually ever saw him play.
1989 Topps #573. Jim was the Angels #1 Draft Pick in 1988. He is one of only a few players to go directly from college ball to the majors. In order for Topps to get him on a card in 1989, they had to show him in his University of Michigan uniform. Jim was 12-12 with an ERA of 3.92 in his rookie year.
1990 Classic Blue #40. Jim was 10-14 with the Angels in 1990 with an ERA of 3.84. This card came from a baseball game involving trivia questions on the back of the card and a game board with tokens and a spinner. I had bought the entire package new in 1990. I was only interested in the cards. Now I wish I had kept the whole package together.
1991 Ultra #43. 1991 would be Jim's best year with a 18-11 record. He finished 3rd in the American League Cy Young Award voting. It was the first year for Fleer Ultra, one of the several "ultra" premium brands (like Leaf and Stadium Club) to spring up in the early 1990s.
1992 Topp's McDonald's Best #20. After a great year in 1991, 1992 was a disappointing year. Jim finished with a 7-15 record but a not too bad 3.99 ERA. It should also be noted that the Angels were 72-90 in 1992 so wins were hard to come by. These cards were distributed in McDonald's restaurants in the PA-NJ area. I'm still trying to loose the weight I gained trying to complete this set. In December 1992, the Angels traded Abbott to the Yankees for J.T. Snow, Jerry Nielsen and Russ Springer.
1993 Bowman #131. Jim was 11-14 with an ERA of 4.25 in his first season as a Yankee. 1993 Bowman is one of my favorite sets of the 1990s.
1994 Upper Deck #310. Another of my favorite sets of the 1990s. Jim was 9-8 in 24 starts with the Yankees in 1994. The Yankees were 70-43 in a strike-shortened season, in which, if you remember (and how could you forget) there were no play-offs. Jim became a free agent in December 1994.
1995 Topps Traded #75. Jim was signed by the White Sox in April of 1995 and was 6-4 for them. He was traded in late July with Tim Fortugno to the Angles for McKay Christensen, John Snyder, Andrew Lorraine and Bill Simas. He was 5-4 for the Angels. I had no 1995 cards of Abbott in an Angles uniform. I'm not sure there were any, considering that his Topps Traded card is as a White Sox.
1996 Topps #372. Jim had, what can only be called a terrible year in 1996, going 2-18 in 23 starts for a terrible Angels team (71-91). He decided to retire at the end of the season and did not play in 1997. Jim came out of retirement in 1998, signing with the White Sox in May. In 5 starts he was 5-0. He became a free agent again in November.
1995 Upper Deck Victory #213. Jim was signed by the Brewers in January and posted a 2-8 record before the Brewers released in him July. It would be his last season. It was the first time he played in the National League. He was 2 for 21, getting the first hit of his career on June 15, 1999.

In his 10 year career, Abbott was 87-108 with an ERA of 4.25. He never won any major pitching awards. But considering that he only had one hand, his career was remarkable. There is a pretty good Wikipedia article on him here and you can find his career stats here.

According to, there are 513 Jim Abbott cards out there. I have 73 of them so I've got a long way to go.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Song of the Week - Jeepster by T. Rex

I have 8,206 songs on iTunes. This is one of them.

This is going to be just a short post. In the early 70s, Marc Bolan and T. Rex helped usher in the short-lived era of glam rock. I only own one of there albums electronically, Electric Warrior but had several of their LPs.

Marc Bolan died in a car crash in September 1977 just as his career seemed to be on an upswing after several years of decline.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dinged Cards Challange: 3 On-Card Autos

As I prepared for this post, I was surprised to find that I have 88 autographed cards. Perhaps not a lot compared to others. Most are cards I bought on on eBay. If you're not too picky about who the player is you can get lots of cheap autographed cards on eBay. Many of these are sticker autos, so they don't count for the challenge. But it wasn't too hard to pick my favorites.

#3 - 1971 Topps Larry Bowa #233Back in the early 1990s sometime, a fellow worker dropped by my office and said, "You're a baseball fan aren't you?" I replied in the affirmative and he said "Would you be interested in this?" This turned out to be a ticket to a breakfast the next morning where former stars of the various Philadelphia teams were to get awards from the Boy Scouts of America. It was free. I said, "Sure I'm interested". I can't remember who else was there (I'm pretty sure the Flyers representative was Bobby Clarke) but the Phillies rep was Larry Bowa. I brought my Larry Bowa rookie card along with me just in case. The breakfast was very nice but there was no opportunity to approach any of the former players. On the way out, I ran into Mr. Bowa in the hallway. I asked him for an autograph and he kindly obliged.

#2 - 2005 Bowman Draft Picks Chrome X-Factor Autograph
I have this card on my list because bought a box of 2005 Bowman Draft Picks Chrome when it was new and pulled this card from one of the packs. It's one of my best pulls ever. At the time, Drew was a pretty hot prospect. The card has held it's Beckett value pretty well, currently booking at $150. Drew's having a pretty good career but it doesn't look like he's going to be a big superstar.

#1 - 1999 SP Signature Autograph Mike Schmidt #171
If you read my blog regularly, you know I am a big Mike Schmidt fan. This is the only Schmidt auto I have. I bought it through eBay in November 1999. Although I've bought a lot of cards on eBay since then, this is the card with the highest price tag. It's a beautiful card with a great signature. This past summer I saw the un-autographed version of this card on eBay and bought it too. It was a lot cheaper.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thursday Night at the Movies - The Men WHo Stare At Goats

OK, so it's really Wednesday night but my wife is working late tomorrow and we decided to go to the movies tonight. So there.

Here's the way we decide what movies to go see. First, it starts with the trailer. Some movies look so bad in the trailer, that we never want to see them. A highly positive review might change our mind but I rarely see a highly positive review of a movie trailer I hated. The currently playing Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs falls into this category. We hated the trailer and the reviews weren't too good.

Then there are movies which, to us, are pretty much review proof. The last Transformers movie was like that. It looked like a lot of fun. The reviews weren't great and it turned out to be somewhat disappointing. The upcoming 2012 falls into that class.

Then there are the films which look good in the trailers but we need to see a good review before deciding to see it. Believe it or not, Paul Blart, Mall Cop was one of those. We thought the trailer was pretty funny. The reviews were horrible, so we skipped it.The trailers for The Men Who Stare At Goats looked very promising. And the reviews, while not raving, were good enough. It is an odd movie, very funny at times, and very entertaining.

The movie concerns the US Army's attempts in the 1980s to produce 'psychic soldiers'. Was the Army actually doing this in the 80s? Who knows for sure? I remember my Dad used to listen to crack-pot radio talk shows in the 90s where they talked about this stuff all the time. The concept of 'remote viewing' was a big topic. Soldiers were being trained to look into the future.

The movie starts with the disclaimer "There is more truth to this movie then you would believe".

George Clooney, in another oddball comic role, plays a former member of this 'psychic platoon' who travels to Iraq after the main fighting there was over in 2003, on a mission he's seen in a vision. Ewan McGreger is a down-on-his-luck newspaper reporter hoping to find a story to make him famous. Instead, he meets Clooney. The movie tells the story of Clooney's mission while simultaneously telling the story of the old platoon in flashbacks.

If you liked some of Clooney's other somewhat off-of-center movies like Burn After Reading and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind you will probably like this movie as well.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Random Greg Maddux Cards

Last week I stopped into the card shop near where I work for a few quick hits. I like browsing through the loose singles. I'll look through the cards of a player I like hoping to see something I think I don't have. And if it's a card I don't have any of, even better. So last week I was looking at the Greg Maddux cards and came up with these.
2004 Diamond Kings (#113). I really, really like this set. So much so that I bought a box of it in 2004. I was pretty sure I didn't have this Maddux because I thought I'd remember the goofy pose. And I was right, I didn't have it.
1999 Topps Gallery (#9). I don't have many cards from this set and I was pretty sure I'd remember this card. It's hard to figure out what's going on here. The other player is Kevin Polcovich a middle infielder for the Pirates at the time. I'm assuming the base is 2nd base. Did Greg hit a double? Did he steal 2nd? Was a pitcher trying to pick him off? He did hit 3 doubles in 1998 (assuming the picture is from 1998) but stole no bases. If I had more time I could probably figure this out from the box scores.
1997 Sports Illustrated (#173). Fleer produced the Sports Illustrated sets from 1997 through 1999. I have a pretty good selection of base cards, subset cards and inserts from the 1998 and 1999 years, but I only had one base card and no subset or insert cards from the 1997 set. This Maddux card is a subset card featuring SI covers. I particularly like the teaser "Greg Maddux Makes History As the Best Righthander Since...(See Page 22)". This card goes in the reference binder.
1997 SP Special FX (#6 of 47). The scan cannot convey the holographic goodness of this card. You can see the disembodied head of Greg Maddux in the center diamond. The head turns from side to side as you turn the card. When you turn the card to the right, his smile turns to a frown. The card is also die cut on all four sides. But what you can't see is that the entire background is a hologram of floating SP logos. Another card for the reference binder.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Song of the Week - Roxanne by The Police

I own this song on LP but I don't have the MP3.

This song came out in April 1979. At the time I was dating a girl (who later became and still is my wife) who lived in Philadelphia while I lived in the suburbs. The Police were huge at this time "Roxanne" was in heavy rotation on the radio. I spent a lot of time in my car driving to or from her house that summer and consequently heard the song many many times. So although the song itself has nothing to do with my wife, I can never hear the song without thinking of those days.

The song is from their first album Outlandos d'Amour.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Virtual Bike Tour of Baseball Sites - Oklahoma City

I rolled into Oklahoma City on my virtual bike trip. I'm doing pretty good at the gym. My plan is to go 5 days a week and get about 4 hours/week on the bike. That would about 40 miles a week. The weird detour north of Dallas as an attempt to get a few stops between Dallas and Oklahoma City. Not too many baseball players were born in Texas, north of Dallas it seems.

I've pretty much decided that I'll be turning eastward from here, toward Kansas City.Oklahoma City is the birthplace of quite a few ball players, including one Hall of famer, Johnny Bench. I have no cards of Bench from when he was playing.
The card above is from the 2003 Topps Shoebox set. I had bought this box set when it was new. It features reprints of player's rookie cards.
Also in 2003, I got this 2003 Sweet Spot Classic Patch Card. I actually pulled this from the only pack of this I bought. Bench was the 2nd round pick by the Reds in 1965 and played his entire 17-year career for the Reds. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1967, a 13-time All-Star, 2-time MVP, hit 389 home runs and appeared in 4 consecutive World Series (1973-1976) winning the last 2. No wonder this guy is in the Hall of Fame. And as everyone who has been following the baseball playoffs knows by now, the Big Red Machine was the last NL team to win consecutive World Series.
Don Carman was a not-so-great pitcher for those terrible Phillies teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was a free agent signing by the Phillies in 1978. In 8 years with the Phillies he was 53-54, including a 5-15 year in 1989. This card is part of a set produced by Tastykake and given away at Phillies games. Tastykake is a snack company which mainly sells in the Philadelphia area (although you can get some Tastykake items here in the Houston Area). Their eclairs are to die for.
A somewhat better player than Don Carman is Joe Carter who was born in OC on March 7, 1960. He was the first round draft pick by the Cubs in 1981 but spent most of his 16 year career with the Indians and Blue Jays. Phillies fans will always remember Joe for the walk-off home run that won the 1993 World Series for the Blue Jays over the Phillies (get over it!). This card is a 1947 Fleer All-Star insert card.
1962 Topps Card of Don Demeter. Don was born in Oklahoma City on June 25, 1935. He was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956. In his 11-year career he played for the Dodgers (Brooklyn and Los Angeles), the Phillies (1961-1963), the Tigers, the Red Sox and the Indians. He hit 71 home runs and 260 rbis for the Phillies. I just got this card last summer at a card shop in the Philadelphia area when we were visiting in July.
1989 Upper Deck. John Russell was born on January 5, 1961. Although he was the Phillies #1 pick in 1982, he never became a full time catcher. The closest he came was in 1986 when he caught 93 games. But Darren Daulton took over the catcher spot in 1987. Russell also played one year with the Braves and 4 years with the Rangers. Of course, today he is the manager of the Pirates.
2009 Topps Target
1990 Upper Deck Checklist Mickey Tettleton. This is the third catcher from Oklahoma City. Mickey was born on September 16, 1960. In his 14-year career he played for the A's, the Orioles, the Tigers and the Rangers. He was a 2-time All-Star and a 3-time Silver Slugger. I can't say I know too much about him as a player.
1997 Finest Bronze Refractor Jamey Wright. He is the youngest player I'm featuring here, born on December 24, 1974. He was the Rockies #1 pick in 1993. In his 14-year career he has played for the Rockies, the Braves, the Royals, back to the Rockies, the Giants, the Rangers and is currently back with the Royals. His career record is 82-115. He used to be a started but seems to be mostly used in middle relief in the past few years.