Friday, May 30, 2008

Alex Rodriguez Mercedes Benz

Do you ever wonder what a guy like Alex Rodriguez does with all his money? Well, neither do I but apparently he invests it in high end automobile dealerships.

I'd like to say that this was from my Mercedes but I'm driving a Pontiac Vibe. My wife works in the Galveston County tax office. Among other things the office processes auto registrations for dealerships. Just down the street from us in League City Texas is an Alex Rodriguez Mercedes Benz dealership. This license plate frame got left at the office when someone turned in his old plates for new ones. I've also got a little tin of Alex Rodriguez Mercedes mints. I have no idea of how he came to own a car dealership in League City. As far as I can tell by searching on Google, he only owns this one dealership. Sure, he used to play for the Texas Rangers but League City is several hundred miles from Arlington.

The closest I'm going to get to owing an Alex Rodriguez Mercedes Benz is this.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thursday Night at the Movies

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

This may become a regular feature, then again, maybe it won't. Up until last Thursday, my wife and I were in a bowling leage. We've been bowling on Thursday nights for 4 or 5 years. But a shoulder injury (baseball news flash - Lance Berkman just hit his 17th home run of the year) has probably ended my, not so illustrious, bowling career.

I suggested that we do something else on Thursday nights. Going to the movies is what we decided to do (at least until the summer movies run out). In recent years we haven't gone out to the movies much although we try to see the blockbusters. If we're going to go every week, we'll be seeing more than blockbusters. And its cheaper than bowling.

So we saw the new Indiana Jones movie. If you liked the other Indiana Jones movies, you'll like this one too. Its got everything you could ask for. Insane vehicle chases, archaeological mumbo-jumbo, musty spiderweb laden dark places, bad guys with accents (Russian this time), Harrison Ford and Cate Blanchett. I'll rte the movie 3 capes.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Nice Card File

1995 Donruss Bomb Squad

This is a 6-card insert set to 1995 Donruss. Each card featured two players who were the home run leaders in 1994. The cards are kind of militaristic, what with bombs, explosions, and the players names on dog tags. Note the National League or American League logos on the nose of the bomber in the background.

There is a little bomb for each home run the player hit in 1994. The bombs and the Donruss card logo are in silver foil. It's pretty unusual to see metallic foil on both sides of a card.

I acquired all 6 of these cards in a single pack of Donruss cards in 1995. In the mid-1990s, Donruss seeded what they called 'Hot Pack' into their boxes of packs. A Hot Pack would have all the cards from an insert set. I'd heard of them but hadn't actually seen one until I bought this pack. Even today I can still remember the thrill of opening this pack and the realization I'd gotten one of the fabled Hot Packs.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Photography - League City Texas

League City Texas, where I live, is located south of Houston about mid way between downtown Houston and Galveston. It's a small town (about 67,000 people) but it's a Houston suburb. When we moved here in 1995, the southern portion of the town was still pretty rural. But as you can imagine, a rural area so close to a big city is going to succumb to growth and League City is no exception. In January 2007, my youngest son and I drove around some of the quieter parts remaining in League City to take some photographs. Philip took most of the photos (he's currently taking photojournalism at the University of Houston). Here is some of what we saw.

There are still quite a few horses in League City. Cattle as well. This is Texas afterall. We saw this horse who clearly believes that the grass is greener on the other side.

There is a lot of growth in the area now. All that growth requires earth moving equipment. Here is a recently opened place which sells and rents all sorts of heavy equipment. We liked the row of earth movers reaching into the sky like some sort of alien presence.

League City, although not incorporated until about 1960, was first settled in 1873. In old League City is the Fairview Cemetery, which was founded in 1900. There are Civil War veterans buried here. Unlike modern cemeteries, the head stones are scattered all over, with odd bits of statuary and even a small reflecting pool. We're not sure who maintains the place but clearly it is being maintained.

A bit of life in the cemetery. This is a purple martin house. Behind it is a very large live oak tree. League City is called the City of the Oaks because of the number of large oak trees in the old city area. The area which became known as League City was purchased by a man named J. C. League around 1900. In 1907, he brought in two railcar flatbeds of oak trees for residents to plant. Many of these trees survive to this day.

The cemetery is located along a stream called Clear Creek, which drains into Clear Lake which is an estuary of Galveston Bay. Although it doesn't get real cold in Texas in the winter, it still looks like winter. We saw a spot of color along the banks of the creek and found this child's toy hammer logged in the flotsam.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Song of the Week - Brick: Ben Folds Five

I have 5,297 songs in my iTunes library, this is one of them.

This is a sad song.

The song is from the Ben Folds Five album Whatever and Ever Amen which was released in 1997. "Brick" is one of many hits from that album.

6 am day after Christmas
I throw some clothes on in the dark
The smell of cold
Car seat is freezing
The world is sleeping
I am numb

Up the stairs to her apartment
She is balled up on the couch
Her mom and dad went down to Charlotte
They're not home to find us out
And we drive
Now that I have found someone
I'm feeling more alone
Than I ever have before

She's a brick and I'm drowning slowly
Off the coast and I'm headed nowhere
She's a brick and I'm drowning slowly

They call her name at 7:30
I pace around the parking lot
Then I walk down to buy her flowers
And sell some gifts that I got
Can't you see
It's not me you're dying for
Now she's feeling more alone
Than she ever has before

She's a brick and I'm drowning slowly
Off the coast and I'm headed nowhere
She's a brick and I'm drowning slowly

As weeks went by
It showed that she was not fine
They told me son, it's time to tell the truth and
She broke down, and I broke down
Cause I was tired of lying

Driving back to her apartment
For a moment we're alone
Yeah she's alone and
I'm alone but
Now I know it

She's a brick and I'm drowning slowly
Off the coast and I'm headed nowhere
She's a brick and I'm drowning slowly

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New Blog, I mean Wiki, Open For Business

I've been thinking for about a month about starting a baseball card only blog. About 2 weeks ago I came up with an idea and started laying it out. I got some encouragement from others in the BCB (baseball card blogosphere), so today is opening day. But it's not going to be a blog, but a wiki (an on-line encyclopedia) Please check it out at Baseball Card Reference.

I've got an over long explanation of what I'm trying to accomplish at the new site. So rather than reproduce that here, I'll hope you'll at least give it one look to see what I'm talking about.

I still plan to post here, probably 3-4 posts a week, with the same mix of topics. And I'll still try for a post a week at Things Done To Cards. The hardest part of doing a blog, I find, is coming up with content. Coming up with new content will not be a problem with what I'm doing on the new site so hopefully I be able to keep up with this.

This Pete Rose card is the first card posted at the new site.

Monday, May 19, 2008

1993 Phillies World Series Team: Mitch Williams

1993 Upper Deck - Mitch Williams

It is perhaps fitting that my review of the 1993 Phillies World Series team should end with Mitch Williams. The dream of winning the 1993 World Series ended with one pitch by Mitch. This, along with the collapse of the 1964 Phillies, are probably two of the defining moments in Phillies history for my generation of Phillies fans. The other, of course, is the Phillies winning the 1980 World Series.

Williams was the 8th round draft pick of the Padres in 1982. In December of 1984, the Texas Rangers drafted him from the Padres in the Rule V draft, but returned him to the Padres in April of 1986. After the Padres got him back they immediately traded him back to the Rangers for a guy named Randy Asadoor. A year later he made his MLB pitching debut with the Rangers. He pitched 3 years for the Rangers. In 257 innings he saved 32 games, hit 24 batters, threw 14 wild pitches and walked 220 (while striking out 280).

In December 1988 the Rangers traded him to the Cubs in a multi-player deal which brought Rafael Palmeiro to the Rangers. Mitch had 36 saves for the Cubs in 1989 but only 16 in 1990. 1989 was his best year yet. Despite a strikeout to walk ratio of about 1, he had an ERA of only 2.76. It was with the Cubs that Mitch earned his nickname of Wild Thing.

The Cubs traded Williams to the Phillies on April 7, 1991 for Chuck McElroy and Bob Scanlan.

1993, as with many Phillies, was to be his best year. He saved 43 games but he also lost 7. He walked 44 and struck-out 60 with an ERA of 3.34. In 1993 he took to wearing number 99, the same as Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn in the film Major League.

But Mitch Williams will always be known for the guy he didn't walk, or strike-out, or hit with a pitch. With one out and two runners on base in the home ninth inning of the World Series, Joe Carter blasted a 2-2 pitch out of the park, giving the Blue Jays an 8-6 victory and the series crown.

Mitch finished up his career with single seasons for the Astros (1994), Angels (1995), and Royals (1997). The Phillies actually signed him as a free agent in July of '96 but released him a month later without using him in a game. He only pitched about 37 innings from 1994 through 1997, earning 6 saves (all with the Astros).

According to Wikipedia, Mitch signed up with Comcast in Philadelphia in April 2007 for post-game analysis of Phillies games. He was also appearing on a local sports talk radio show in 2007. Maybe the Phillies fans have forgiven him.

Click here for the story of the Williams baseball card featured above.

This concludes my review of the 1993 Phillies as told by baseball cards. If you've stuck through with every installment I thank you. In a little while I'm going to start a similar review of the 1980 World Series winning team. Here's a preview.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Song of the Week - Peace Train - Cat Stevens

I have 5,266 songs in my iTunes library. this is one of them.

From his Earth Tour - 1976

Now I've been happy lately,
thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be,
something good has begun

Oh I've been smiling lately,
dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be,
some day it's going to come

Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again

Now I've been smiling lately,
thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be,
something good has begun

Oh peace train sounding louder
Glide on the peace train
Come on now peace train
Yes, peace train holy roller

Everyone jump upon the peace train
Come on now peace train

Get your bags together,
go bring your good friends too
Cause it's getting nearer,
it soon will be with you

Now come and join the living,
it's not so far from you
And it's getting nearer,
soon it will all be true

Now I've been crying lately,
thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating,
why can't we live in bliss

Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Trade with Beginner's Wax

2008 Upper Deck Game Jersey - Andy Pettitte

I got this card in a trade with Grant at Beginner's Wax. Click here to see the cards I sent him. Grant is even newer to the baseball card blogosphere (BCB) than I am and just recently come to baseball card collecting. It was a good trade. He's just building up a collection of Troy Tulowitzki cards. I like Pettitte and didn't have any of this particular relic card.

I only just discovered the BCB back in February. There were a handful of blogs. Some have been around for awhile. I've found more since then, some pretty new like mine. Although I try to feature more than just baseball cards here, I feel like a full member of the BCB. I didn't really start collecting baseball cards until I was 33 years old (a good 23 years ago now). It's always been a solitary hobby for me. People listen politely when I talk about my latest find but they are not collectors and they really don't get it. In the BCB, I've found a bunch of like-minded people. They have different opinions and different collecting needs. But they get it. I'm happy to be here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nice Card File

2005 Flair

I'm attempting to post this from my crappy little work-provided IBM laptop while I'm travelling on business, instead of my magnificant 20" iMac back home. We'll see how this works.

Back in '05, bought a blaster box of 2005 Flair, probably at Target. There were 50 cards in the set and I got about 30 of them in the box, so a pretty good selection. Flair had two parallel sets. The base set was Row 0, cards numbered to 100 were Row 1, and 1/1 cards were Row 2. I pulled the Row 0 Clemens card and was pretty happy about it (2005, pre-steriods accusation Clemens).

Then I pulled the Row 2 card! A 1/1 card! I had never seen such a thing before. Serial numbered cards have lost some of their luster these days but even today a 1/1 card is a good pull. It looks pretty much like the Row 0 card except the background strip is kind of purple.

Now that I had Row 0 and Row 2, I had to have Row 1. I managed to buy one on eBay for abbout $5 (it books for $15). Even with Clemen's troubles I still like these cards.

Blogger's editor works a lot better on my Mac running the Firefox browser than it does on my lap top running Windows Explorer.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Song of the Week - We are All Made of Stars - Moby

I have 5,246 songs in my iTunes library. This is one of them.

Many times, especially in this song, Moby comes across as cold and sterile. My daughter and I saw him in concert a few years ago. On stage, he is about as energetic a performer as I've ever seen.

Growing in numbers
Growing in speed
Can't fight the future
Can't fight what I see

People they come together
People they fall apart
No one can stop us now
'Cause we are all made of stars

Efforts of lovers
Left in my mind
I sing in the reaches
We'll see what we find

People they come together
People they fall apart
No one can stop us now
'Cause we are all made of stars

People they come together
People they fall apart
No one can stop us now
'Cause we are all made of stars

Slow slow slow, come come
Someone come come come
Even love is goin' 'round
You can't ignore what is goin' 'round

Slowly rebuilding
I feel it in me
Growing in numbers
Growing in peace

People they come together
People they fall apart
No one can stop us now
'Cause we are all made of stars

People they come together
People they fall apart
No one can stop us now
'Cause we are all made of stars

People they come together
(People they come together)
People they fall apart
(People they fall apart)
No one can stop us now
(No one can stop us now)
'Cause we are all made of stars
(We are all made of stars)

We are all made of stars
People they come together
We are all made of stars
(People they fall apart)
We are all made of stars
(No one can stop us now)
'Cause we are all made of stars
(We are all made of stars)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Maggie graduates

In 1990, my daughter, Maggie, 'graduated' from nursery school. Here she is in her cap (no gown for nursery school) with her friend Chelsea.

In 2004, she graduated from Clear Creek High School. This was a 'real' graduation with a cap and gown and everything. Here she is with her proud Dad (me).

Today, Maggie graduated from the University of Houston with a major in English and a minor in Classical Studies. She graduated cum laude and in only 4 years. Considering she changed her major twice, I think that is a great achievement. We are very proud of her.Her future plans involve going to grad school to get a Master's Degree in Library Science.

1993 Phillies World Series Team: Thompson - West

Milt Thompson - 1993 Topps Stadium Club

Milt was the Cardinals #2 draft pick by the Braves in 1979. He made his major league debut with the Braves on 9/4/84. In December 1985, he was traded by the Braves with Steve Bedrosian to the Phillies for Ozzie Virgil and Pete Smith. This was his first stint with the Phillies. 1987 was his best year when he hit 0.302 and stole 46 bases. In December 1988, the Phillies traded him to the Cardinals for Steve Lake and Curt Ford. He came back to the Phillies as a free agent in 1992 and signed a 2-year contract. In 1993, he batted 0.262 in the regular season. He hit a combined 0.267 in the playoffs. He set a Phillies World Series record by getting 5 RBIs in Game 4 at Vet Stadium.

In mid-1994, the Phillies traded Thompson to the Astros for Tom Eden. He played for the Astros, Dodgers and Rockies from 1994-1996. The Rockies released him in August 1996, ending his career. He joined the Phillies minor league organization in 1998 and in 2003 became the Phillies first base coach and became their batting coach in 2004, a position he still holds.

David West - 1993 Fleer Final Edition

West was the Mets 4th round draft pick in 1983. He made is major league debut with the Mets on 9/24/88. He was traded to the Twins in mid-1989 and pitched there until 1992. Looking at his stats he seems to have been used as both a starter and as a middle reliever. The Phillies acquired him from the Twins in 1992 for pitcher Mike Hartley. He pitched for the Phillies through 1996. He had trouble catching on with a team after that at times with the Astros and Reds before finally being signed by the Red Sox in 1998. He appeared in 6 cames for the Sox before being released in September 1998.

In 1993, West was 6 and 4 for the Phillies, with 3 saves (the only saves of his career) and an ERA of 2.92. He appears to have not pitched well in the playoffs. He pitched a combined 3 2/3 innings with an ERA over 17.

West also pitched in the 1991 World Series for the Twins, posting an ERA of infinity (4 earned runs in 2 appearances while getting nobody out).

The next and last posting in this series will be The Wild Thing, Mitch Williams

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Song of the Week - Whiter Shade of Pale

I have 5,187 songs in my iTunes library. This is one of them.

This is a live recording of Procol Harum doing their biggest hit "A White Shade of Pale" in 1967, the year the song was released. Gary Brooker is on piano, Matthew Fisher on organ, Ray Royer on guitar, and David Knights on bass. After this song, the band's lineup changed with Robin Trower on guitar and B. J. Wilson on drums. The 'classic' Procol Harum, with Brooker, Matthews, Trower, Knights, Wilson, and Keith Reid writing lyrics, was in place for their first album, Procol Harum. This line-up would produce 4 albums which helped establish the genre of 'progressive rock'. These albums were the before mentioned Procol Harum, Shine On Brightly (which included a album-side length track), Salty Dog (whom many, myself included, think is their finest and one of the best progressive rock albums ever), and Broken Barricades. Robin Trower left the band soon after. Their second biggest hit was Conquistador, a song from their first album, which was done live on their 5th album, the 1971 release, Procol Harum Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. This was one of the first attempts of a rock band to play live with an orchestra. There is a pretty good article on Wikipedia if you're interested in the band. They have formed and reformed a few times since the early 1970s, toured and released some albumes. Several have had solo careers as well. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, my friends and I were heavy into progressive rock. Before we discovered the band Yes, we loved Procol Harum and the Moody Blues. I still do, in fact.

We skipped the light fandango
Turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
But the crowd called out for more
The room was humming harder
As the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
The waiter brought a tray

And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale

She said, 'There is no reason
And the truth is plain to see.'
But I wandered through my playing cards
And would not let her be
One of sixteen vestal virgins
Who were leaving for the coast
And although my eyes were open
They might have just as well been closed

And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale

And so it was that later...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Nice Card File - Willie Mays and Mike Piazza Relic Cards

2003 Stadium Club Born In The USA Relic

2003 was the last year for Topps Stadium Club baseball cards. That year they published a 50-card insert set called "Born In The USA". As you can see, the card features a player game used relic (either a bat or jersey piece) in the shape of the state where the player was born. I had gotten a few in 2003 and thought that since there were 50 cards, there would be a card for each state. I don't often try to complete sets but this intrigued me and I decided to try and collect them all.

I learned pretty soon that my thought that there would be a card for every state was incorrect. Apparently there are a lot of players born in California. Maybe Topps' original plan was to have a card for each state but some states, like Alaska with 9, are not well represented by native born baseball players. All of the cards, with the exception of the Willie Mays card are current (in 2003) players, which probably made it harder to have each state represented. The Beckett catalog lists these at $10 to $25, except for the Mays card which it lists for $60. I now have 43 of the cards. The Mays card was the hardest to get. I lost 2 or 3 bids before finally shagging one for $27 (which is the most I paid for any of them). I've gotten most of them for under $10.

Completing the set has been harder than I expected. I thought that once I had the Mays card, half the battle would be won. The last 7 cards however elude me. In the four years I've been looking for these, the last 7 cards have never appeared on eBay. These cards are:

J. D. Drew
Brad Fullmer
Nomar Garciaparra
Toby Hall
Tino Martinez
Scott Rolen
Richie Sexson

If anyone out there has one of these cards and is willing to trade it to me, send me an email and make me an offer.