Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bowman 1990-2000

Last week, The Night Owl featured Bowman cards from 2001-2010, mainly to show what a rut Bowman has been in for the past ten years. Every year features a variation of black and red and frankly many of the designs are boring. Well, what about the 10 years before that? In the 1990's Bowman had a much more varied design from year to year.

1990 Bowman Bernie WilliamsNot much different from the 1989 set, except that the card was standard size. A nice clean design with a large photo and a white border. The cards were printed on gray card stock with minimum gloss.

1991 Bowman - Chipper Jones
Pretty similar design to 1990, still on gray card stock, no gloss.

1992 Bowman Carlos Delgado
A revolutionary change in design. Now on white card stock with a glossy finish front and back. The back also featured a photograph. This Carlos Delgado card was a hot card in 1992. For some reason which I can't remember, my local card shop gave me a free pack of Bowman and this card was in it.

1993 Bowman Derek Jeter
Another hot card but not much design change from 1992. The photo on the back was larger.

1994 Bowman Paul LoDuca
Another revolutionary design change. This is the only Bowman set to feature a full bleed photo. This is also the first Bowman card to feature foil. I always liked this set.

1995 Bowman Don Mattingly
Bowman went back to white borders in 1995 but kept the foil. The big change this year was rookie cards featuring full foil printing. This is also the first year that Bowman put a team logo on the front of the card.

1996 Bowman Barry Bonds
This is another Bowman set I always liked. The cards feature a weaved background and red foil. This is the first year that Bowman made a concerted effort to differentiate rookie from veteran cards by color. The backs of the veteran cards were blue and the backs of the rookie cards was green.

1997 Bowman Jeff Bagwell
The black and red design makes its first appearance in 1997. The rookie cards were black and blue. This will be the norm for Bowman from here on out.

1998 Bowman Jimmy Rollins
The theme from 1997 is continued but a bit more subtle. The rookie cards, like this one, featured a blue border around the photo and a blue background for the player position. The veteran cards had red instead of blue. Of more importance, this is the first Bowman set to feature a facsimile signature.

1999 Bowman Dante Bichette
Black and red for veterans and black and blue for rookies. This is the first time the facsimile signature is in a frosted box, which will become common. The wood-grained black sets this card off from the black and red designs to come.

2000 Bowman Tino Martinez
In 2000, Bowman took a bit of a break from the black and red with a stunning innovation, gray and sort of red. Back to gold foil. The rookie cards have blue borders and a blue area around the player name.

Song of the Week - Lemonade by Cocorosie

Another Podcast song of the day, this time from KEXP. The song is strangely compelling, the video just weird. The group, mainly two sisters have a strange background.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Worst Baseball Set of All Time

Perhaps the baseball blogger community beat up this set sufficiently when it came out in early 2009, but this set was so bad it deserves every kick directed at it. You remember it, Upper Deck 2008 Documentary. This card highlight's Greg Maddux pitching his 5,000 inning. That is certainly a notable milestone which deserves to be commemorated. So why is Manny Ramirez on the card? This is the type of foolishness for which this set is well known. But this card takes foolishness one step further into dishonesty. Manny is wearing a Dodgers away uni when this game was played in LA. And even worse, do you see the guy sitting in the background behind Manny's knee. He may be a bit blurry, but he is surely wearing a Cardinals uniform. The catcher is wearing a red wrist band. There are a lot of people in the stands wearing red. This picture is not from the game highlighted, it is not even from a Giants-Dodgers game.

Why am I so worked up about this, over 2 years after the set came out? When this set was announced, I thought it was a great idea. I looked forward to trying to collect a card from each of the Phillies games in 2008 (the year they won the World Series). What a great collection that would have been. What a disappointment.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

National Chicle Phillies?

I'm still liking the National Chicle Baseball but there sure are some puzzling things about it.

I already posted this card of Ryne Sandberg in a Phillies uniform. For most people when you say Sandberg, they think Cubs. After all, he played 15 seasons for the Cubs and 13 games for the Phillies at the very start of his career.What about this following card? I'd hazard a guess if you said Jimmy Foxx to most people, they'd say, ah, he was a baseball player a long time ago. He's not a player I think about often even though he played 11 years in Philadelphia, but for the A's. His last game for the A's was in 1935. Late in his career, he played one season for the Phillies, in 1945. By the way, Foxx died in 1967. He was only 50 years old. According to Wikipedia he choked to death on a piece of meat.
Then we have this card. Gaze upon it.
That's right, an emaciated Ryan Howard in an A's uniform. Why?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Japanese Submariner Shunsuke Watanabe

I recently picked up a pack of 2009 Topps Chrome, with this card.

2009 Topps Chrome World Baseball Classic #31
As I was reading about him on Wikipedia, my daughter happened to come in. She is a fan of all things Japanese. The Wikipedia article described his low-ball pitching technique. My daughter suggested I see if there was a You Tube video of him. There were a number of them. This one had the best quality. It's a bit long, but he stikes out the side.

It was also fun to listen to the Japanese announcers. My daughter was able to translate some of what they were saying, including why one or the other of them kept saying "hai". In Japanese, this means, yes, and indicates to the speaker that the other guy is still listening to him.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Song of the Week - Florence + The Machine - You Got The Love

My daughter put me onto Florence + The Machine. Florence Welch is the lead singer. The Machine refers to the band of session musicians who played on the album and who tour with her. There is a lengthy Wikipedia article on her you can read here. This song and the video are a lot of fun. She has a fabulous voice.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday Night at the Movies - Robin Hood

Robin Hood, let me count the ways. We have the heroic Robin Hood.
We have the gay Robin Hood.
We have the singing Robin Hood.
We have, eh, this guy as Robin Hood.
Now we have the gritty Robin Hood.
Life in the middle ages sure was hard. There was mud, and blood, and arrows in the neck, and mud, and deception and mud. Ridley Scott has constructed a middle ages with little romanticism. There is a little between Robin and Marion, and it is almost jarring.

This is a Robin Hood origins story. Since many people believe that Robin Hood is only a character of fiction, there is no harm in concocting a new story about Robin Hood. Could be plausible. It connects all the familiar pieces: Richard the Lion Hearted's Crusade, the evil King John. Maid Marion, Little John, a drunken Friar Tuck, the Sheriff of Nottingham, and arrows whizzing through the air. And did I mention mud. There is a surprising amount of politics in this movie. But this is a time when political problems were usually solved with a sword so don't expect a lot of political science.

The movie is violent but probably less so than your everyday first-person-shooter video game. For all the people that meet their end by way of a sharp pointed object, there is surprising little blood. A couple arrows through the neck were pretty gruesome.

We liked the movie. Russell Crowe does a good job as a simple guy who just wants to get on with his life after 10 years of war but can't stop himself from doing the right thing. Cate Blanchett is an earthy but reserved Marion and the scenes between them are good. I kept wondering what had happened to her pointed ears (a LOTR reference for you poor souls who didn't get it).

After Robin arrives at the Loxley homestead, blind old man Loxley tells Marion to make sure Robin gets a bath. "You stink" he says to Robin. After the bath, Marion takes Robin on horseback on a tour of the Loxley land. This reminded me of a line from Monty Python's Holy Grail. There is a scene where King Arthur and his men are clopping by two peasants mucking around in the mud. One says to the other "That's the King". "How de ya know?" says the other. "He ain't got shit all over 'im", he says.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

1950 Bowman Billy DeMars

A few weeks ago, Dinged Corners made a post about 1950 Bowman. Since I didn't own any of this set, I had commented on the post that I'd have to see if I could get a card from the set. Imagine my surprise and delight when I found this card.

1950 Bowman - Billy DeMars #252Well, maybe you can't imagine my surprise and delight. DeMars had a 3-year major leage career, from 1949 through 1951. I was born in October 1951, so his entire playing career was before I was born. He was a 3rd baseman and shortstop who hit .237 in 211 at bats.
So why the excitement? After a few more years playing in the minors, he became a minor league manager from 1958 to 1968. But, I best know Billy DeMars as the Phillies hitting coach from 1969 to 1981. That was the period when Mike Schmidt (my favorite player of all time) played for the Phillies and they won their first World Series in 1980.

But even better. I get an opportunity to tell my Billy DeMars story. In March of 2006, my good friend Brian and I went to spring training in Florida. When we weren't going to games (we saw 3 in the 4 days we were there) we visited as many ball parks as we could. When we visited the Blue Jays field, the place was open and we wondered in and took some photos on the field. As we were leaving, a guy came up to us and asked if we were Phillies fans. This was a reasonable guess as we were both wearing Phillies garb. He said that Billy DeMars was on the field giving his son some batting tips. Would we like to meet Billy? Sure we said.
That's Billy in the middle, Brian on the left and me on the right. Billy was very friendly and kindly posed for the photo. The best part was his story of how he straightened out Mike Schmidt's swing and turned him into one of the best home run hitters ever.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Phillies-Brewers Retro Night

It was Retro Night at the Phillies-Brewers game in Milwaukee last Friday night. The first photo from the game was this:Whoa! What is he wearing? That's a 1970-1980s vintage uniform. The retro look wasn't complete as the Phillies wore maroon batting helmets back then.
Jamie Moyer got the win, as the Phillies won 9-5 in a slugfest. Moyer is now 5-2 on the season, even though he gave up the 500th and 501st home run of his career. Only the late Robin Roberts has given up more home runs in his career, at 505. Moyer seems destined to eclipse that mark. Of course, in 24 years you can rack up a lot of stats, both good and bad.
Jayson Werth watches home run 500 in the 2nd inning. It was hit by George Kottaras.
Ryan Howard hit a home run of his own in the first, his 6th of the season and 228th of his career. It's weird to see those uniforms. Personally, I always thought that the Phillies road uniforms from that period were not very attractive, and I never really liked the maroon that they started wearing when Veteran's Stadium opened up. I was happy when they went back to red in the early 1990s.
And of course the Brewers were in their 1970s home unis. Here's Ryan Braun breaking his bat in the 6th. It's funny that the Brewers picked a night when the Phillies were in town to have a 1970s retro look. Back then, the only time the Phillies would have played each other would have been if they met in the World Series. Which they didn't.

Photo credits: Morry Gash/AP

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Song of the Week - Spinning Wheel by Blood, Sweat & Tears

Blood Sweat & Tears got their start in 1967, just about the same time as Chicago. Both bands were similar in that their sound was a fusion of rock, jazz and blues. It was quite innovative at the time. I loved the first 3 Chicago albums and I loved this album by BS&T. But I lost interest in both over the years. BS&T are still touring, although it doesn't look as iff they've produced an album of new material since 1980, and no new albums at all since about 1995. According to Wikipedia, BS&T has had 132 members over the years.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday Night at the Movies - Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 is one of those movies you're either planning to see or you're not interested in it at all. Certainly if you liked the first movie (and a lot of you did) you'll go to this one. And I don't think you'll be disappointed. The first movie was the origins story. This one is the crisis of confidence story. Maybe you wouldn't think that a guy like Tony Stark would suffer from a lack of confidence but he's got real problems here, problems that Iron Man can't solve. And I'll give Robert Downey, Jr. credit, he does a pretty good job as the trobuled Tony Stark.Samuel L. Jackson is back as Nick Fury, with a larger, although tangential, part of the story. Scarlett Johansson is there to look good and kick ass. You've seen her do some of that in the trailers. Gwyneth Paltrow reprises her thankless roll as Pepper Potts.

In the reviews I read a lot is made of an actor with the stature of Don Cheadle being in the movie. I haven't see too many of his movies so I can't speak much about his chops as an actor. In this he mainly gets to look pensive. But most of the time he's in the big War Machine suit with the heads-up display reflected on his face. Not much room for acting in there.

Mickey Rourke is pretty good as the mad Russian scientist and brute who designs his own suit and almost brings Iron Man to his knees. Sam Rockwell plays Justin Hammer, the owner of Hammer Enterprises, Tony Stark's biggest competitor. I was not real impressed with this stereotypical character as portrayed by Rockwell.

The movie is quite preposterous, of course. You'll be suspending belief all over the place. Why doesn't Tony Stark end up as a bloody paste after some of the punishment he takes in the Iron Man suit? How is he able to build a miniature cyclotron in his living room, overnight, from parts he found in his garage? How does his chief of security get repeatedly punched in the face and not have a mark on him? Why is Gwyneth Paltrow completely wasted in this movie? Stop asking yourself those questions and enjoy the movie.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Robin Roberts

Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts died this morning. He was 83 years old. He broke into the National League as one of the original Phillies Whiz Kids. He played for the Phillies from 1948 through 1961 compiling a 286-248 record with a 3.46 ERA, mostly for Phillies teams that weren't very good. Here is most of my Robin Roberts card collection. I only have one card which was actually issued during his career.

1959 Topps #121999 Sports Illustrated Greats of the Game Autographs
On of my favorite cards. I also have the unsigned version of this card.

2003 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #8
2003 Topps Shoebox #8
2004 Bowman Heritage Black and White TV #171
2007 SP Legendary Cuts #73
2009 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions Mini #112
April 2005 issue of American Scientist magazine
Longtime Phillies fans will recognize the Ballantine Beer logo on the scoreboard. This issue contained a very interesting article on the physics of throwing a baseball. The article can be found on-line here. The article also features Roger Clemens.
And finally, a photo of me with the Robin Roberts statue at the Phillies Citizen's Bank Ball Park.

Monday, May 3, 2010

National Chicle Phillies

I bought 4 packs of Toops National Chicle at the baseball card shop last Friday. I think I like these cards. I didn't get a single Phillie or Astro. I was thinking of buying a hobby box on eBay but decided to try for team sets instead. I managed to score the 12-card Phillies and 7-card Astros set for not a lot of dough. Here are the Phillies.

Rual Ibanez #12One thing I like is that the paintings are by different artists so there is quite a varied look to the set. This card is by Chris Henderson.

#21 J. A Happ
This painting is by Ken Branch and the style is way different than the Ibanez card. I like Happ but I wish they'd included Jamie Moyer instead. Did you see his bases loaded walk on Sunday night that started the unraveling of Johan Santana?

#23 Shane Victorino
Painting by Dave Hobrecht. After Moyer walked, Victorino hit a grand slam to complete Santana's undoing.

#31 Jayson Werth
Another card by Hobrecht.

#37 Ryan Howard
Another painting by Ken Branch. There is a short-print Howard card, in, of all things, an A's uniform. I've won an auction for that card but haven't received it yet.

#92 Cole Hamels
This card was also painted by Branch. The Happ and Howard cards are similar but the style of this card is different.

#122 Roy Halladay
Painting by Paul Lempa. Reminds me of the Turkey Red backgrounds. My first 2010 Halladay as a Phillie card.

#157 Jimmy Rollins
A completely different style by Mike Kupka. I have a couple of others by him with the same theme.

#191 Chase Utley
This painting by Brian Kong reminds me a bit of the Ibanez card above.

#225 Mike Schmidt
As is usually the case in these 'retro' sets, a lot of veterans show up. The Phillies may not be one of the most successful baseball franchises but at least they have some great players in their past. Another card by Kong.

#251 Richie Ashburn
Another Phillie great from the past. I never saw him play but loved his play-by-play on the Phillies broadcasts. This painting by Don Higgins.

#253 Ryne Sandberg
Well, Sandberg was a great player but he only had 6 at bats for the Phillies in 1981. The painting is by Monty Sheldon. There is a second Sandberg card in this set, #297. I'm guessing he's pictured as a Cub on that one. Since Sandberg only had 6 at bats as a Phillie, photos of him batting in a Phillie must be pretty rare. So it wouldn't surprise me if this photo was lifted from another baseball card. There weren't many baseball cards with Sandberg as a Phillie either. I only know of two, a 1994 Topps Traded card and this one.

2005 Upper Deck Classics Star Retro Rookie #125
Look familiar?