Sunday, May 31, 2009

Song of the Week - The Big Sky by Kate Bush

I have 6,672 songs in iTunes. This is one of them.

This is another great song from Kate Bush's Hound of Love album which was released in 1985. This would be an album I'd want to be stranded on a desert island with (assuming I had electricity and a CD player). There is a lot going on in this video. Watch out for Superman making an appearance at about the 2:45 mark.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday Night at the Movies - X-Men Origins: Wolverine

This movie has ben out for several weeks. It didn't get a good review in the Houston Chronicle but this is pretty much a review-proof movie. If you like this sort of thing you're going to go see it. We like this sort of thing.

We both liked it well enough. It wasn't Star Trek but very few movies are. The plot kept moving and it did what the title implied, told us the origin of Wolverine. In the X-Men movies, Wolverine has no memory of his past life. I don't know if Wolverine's origins have ever been explored in the comic books. I was always a DC Comics guy myself. Not that I buy comic books any more. Too expensive. If you like this sort of thing and haven't seen it because of the poor reviews, go see it anyway. Spoilers are ahead.

According to the movie, Wolverine was born in Canada in the 1840s and his real name is Jimmy. How he came to be known as Wolverine is told, but not how he also came to be known as Logan. He has an older brother named Victor, who is, apparently, also known as Sabertooth, although I don't remember him being called that even once in the movie. Victor and Jimmy don't get along too well and have a few dramatic but ultimately pointless fights to illustrate the point. I say pointless because both of them are basically immortal and they can't really hurt each other. There are other assorted mutants woven into the story, and Wolverine rescues a bunch of them (including what's his name, the guy who shoots fire bolts out of his eyes). They all get taken off by Captain Picard. And Wolverine gets shot in the head with bullets made out of the same sort of stuff his metal bones are made of. This apparently scrambles his brains and although he recovers, he can't remember anything (except how to read and speak English).

2009 Upper Deck Series 2

I bought a blaster box and a jumbo pack of Upper Deck Series 2 last weekend. Surprise! The cards look just like the Series 1 set! Of course.

The most interesting card in the blaster box was this.This is a Goodwin Champions Preview card. I don't see this on Upper Deck's calendar of upcoming releases (which only goes to June 3 anyway). Albert looks like he has joined the cast of the TV show Lost in this picture. After a little digging I found the 1888 Goodwin Champions set. It was introduced as a competitor to Allen & Ginter. There is a short article on the cards on Wikipedia. I got this image from Wikipedia.
There were 8 cards featuring baseball players in the 50-card set. The set is also mentioned in my 1989 book Great Book of Baseball Cards. I checked, nobody is selling any of these currently on eBay. My 1989 book says these are in plentiful supply but too expensive.

On the blaster box it said "ONE JERSEY CARD inside!" I took this as a promise, no mention of "on average". This is want I got.
Hopefully this guy will be a big star one day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Book Club - The Big Bam

There have been many biographies of Babe Ruth but I hadn't read one before. This book came out in 2007. Pretty much everyone who ever saw Ruth play or knew him personally is dead by now and the author relied heavily on materials gathered for other Ruth biographies. I can't tell you how definitive it is but the reviews on indicate that it is a well done. I can't say that I knew much about Ruth beyond what any baseball fan should know (714 career home runs, 60 home runs in one season, the 1927 Yankees, etc.) so I learned a lot, not just about Ruth but the state of the game in those days.

Ruth's early days, before he showed up at St. Mary's Home in Baltimore when he was 8 years old are pretty much unknown. The author leaves it at that. He reports on the speculations about his early life but clearly labels them as speculations. He started his professional career with the Baltimore Orioles, then a minor league team. Then he was signed by the Red Sox, mainly as a pitcher. In those days, home runs were not an important part of baseball. But the Babe learned how to hit home runs while at St. Mary's and continued to hit them in professional baseball. In the early years of his career his owners and managers wanted him to pitch but he wanted to play everyday and hit home runs.

The author goes into details on how Ruth came to the Yankees. Lots of underhanded stuff going on between the Red Sox and Yankees owners.

I knew virtually nothing about Ruth's personal life. He was bigger than life on the baseball diamond and bigger than life in his private life as well. Women, booze, golf, and automobile accidents were his life.

His post-baseball life was sad. He wanted to manage but nobody wanted him. The last few years of his life were spend fighting cancer. He died pretty young, at 53. If you don't know much about Babe Ruth, I'd recommend this book. I actually listened to it on CD but I wasn't real pleased by the reading.

Monday, May 25, 2009

2009 Bowman

I read on the blogs that 2009 Bowman, Topps Series 2 and Upper Deck Series 2 were out. So last Friday I took a tour of the big box stores and scored packs of Bowman and Topps and a blaster of Upper Deck. Here's the Bowman.

I bought 13 10-card packs of the Bowman for $2.99/pack. I'd have done a little better with a blaster but didn't see any.

The base cards have a black border which continues a trend since 2001. The border is a little wider this year, cutting down on the picture size. Also, the the facsimile signature box is a bit larger. I got 49 base cards. I like the baseballs with the player uniform number and position in the bottom corners. The cards also feature silver foilThis year, some of the cards are horizontal. I don't think the design lends it self to a horizontal orientation. Also, this Pujols card represents another problem in general with the cards. There are a lot of photos with the crowd in the background. Albert in his red and white uniform almost disappears into the red and white crowd.
As they have for many years, the rookie cards hava a green interior border. I pulled 13 (2 of them gold parallel).
Now here's something I hate. I saw the Victorino and thought, another card of Shane running the bases with his tongue between his teeth. When I compared it with the Topps card, I see it's the same photo!
This Tejada card, while not exactly the same photo are clearly the same play, the pictures must be only seconds apart.
The set has gold, blue, red and orange parallels. I got 6 of the gold, none of the others. Do you like baseball cards which feature a pitcher batting?
Bowman continues with the Prospects set with different numbering from the main set. I still find this confusing but at least I'm used to it now. I got 21 of these and another 5 gold parallels.
The Prospects Gold parallel. The Prospects cards feature a blue interior border, and as last year, a different design from the base set.
Topps got the World Baseball Classic series cards this year. The cards have the same basic design as the Prospects cards but without the facsimile signature block. These come in gold, blue, orange and red parallels but I didn't get any. There are 20 of these and I pulled 5.
Another annual practice is to include Chrome Prospects cards, 2 per pack. Here's Neil Ramirez again. I got 21 of these. No refractors.
The other Chrome cards are the WBC cards. I got 4 of these. This guy is Alexander Smit, signed by the Twins, from The Netherlands.
The only refractor I got was one of the WBC cards. Li is from China. These are numbered to 599.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Song of the Week - Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song) by Then Treniers

I have 6,709 songs in iTunes, including this one.

This song, along with a whole CD of baseball songs was a gift from Jack, the Baseball Dad. It was a surprise he has apparently sent out to others as well. I thought I'd see if I could find a video of one of the songs. Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song) is pretty obscure (at least to me) but here's what I found. Thanks again Jack!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Jerry Koosman - Tax Evader

Did anyone see this story about Jerry Koosman? It seems that the former Mets and Phillies star hasn't been paying his Federal income taxes. And why not? Because he studied the tax code and came to the conclusion that income taxes only applied to federal workers, corporate employees and District of Columbia residents. He works for himself (signing autographs and what ever) so he thought he was exempt. He's 66 years old and could go to jail for a year. He's apparently paid back the taxes he owed so maybe they will just let him off with a fine.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Phillies Transformation 2005 to 2008 Part 2

Who were those 2005 Phillies and how did they become the 2008 Phillies? Part 2 of a series.

Rheal Cormier/Aaron Fultz - Topps Total #667Cormier appeared in 363 games for the Phillies, all in relief, from 2001 into 2006. He was 28-21 with 2 saves. In 2006, he was traded to the Reds for Justin Germano. Germano didn't pitch for the Phillies at all and was picked off waivers by the Padres in 2007. Fultz was 7-1 in 128 relief appearances with the Phillies in 2005-2006. He was a free agent at the end of 2006. No impact by either of these two guys on the 2008 Phillies,

Geoff Geary - 2006 Upper Deck #739
Another relief specailist, Geary was 13-4 with 1 save for the Phillies in 216 appearances. Geary was traded to the Astros after the 2007 season with Michael Bourn for Eric Brunlett and Brad Lidge. Its hard to underestimate Lidge's value to the 2008 team so, while Geary had no direct impact on the 2008 Phillies, the Phillies got a good deal for him which really helped the club.

Ryan Howard - Ultra Gold Medalion #213
Ryan who? Howard was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2005. In 2006 he won the NL Hank Aaron Award, was the Major League Player of the Year and the NL MVP. But what have you done for me lately? In 2008, he hit 48 home runs, a .251 average, and 146 RBIs in 700 plate appearances. He was runner up for the NL MVP. In the playoffs he was pretty quite until the World Series. He hit 3 homers in the World Series. Clearly, one of the reasons for the Phillies 2008 success.

Jon Lieber - Topps Total Silver #179
Lieber was 29-30 as a starter for the Phillies from 2005-2007. He was a free agent after the 2007 season.

Cory Lidle - Topps Total Silver #429
Lidle was 26-20 with the Phillies from 2004-2006. In July of 2006, he was traded with Bobby Abreu to the Yankees for 4 players who have yet to play for the Phillies. The sad part of this story is that Lidle was killed in October 2006 when the small plane he was piloting crashed into a New York City apartment building.

Mike Lieberthal - Leather & Lumber #99
Lieberthal was the Phillies #1 draft pick in 1990. He made it to the Phillies in 1994, the year after their 1993 World Series bid. He played for a lot of bad Phillies teams until the team started to get good, right about 2005. He was not signed after the 2006 season and became a free agent, signing with the Dodgers, appearing in only 38 games for the Dodgers in 2007. In a nice gesture, the Phillies signed him to a one-day contract on June 1, 2008. He threw out the first pitch and retired. Other than perhaps an emotional impact he had no impact on the 2008 Phillies.

Tim Worrell/Pedro Liriano - Topps Total #592
Worrell was pretty much at the end of his career when the Phillies signed him in 2004 and in 2005 they traded him to the Diamondbacks for Matt Kata, who in turned was picked off waivers by the Reds. Liriano was also at the end of his career (all 2 years of it) in 2005, appearing in 5 games in relief.

Kenny Lofton - Donruss Team Heroes #343
Between 2002 and 2007 (his final year), Lofton played for 9 different teams. He was with the Phillies for 110 games in 2005. He hit .335 for the Phillies and stole 22 bases. He was a free agent at the end of the season and signed with the Dodgers for 2006. By 2008, it was hard to remember that Lofton had been with the team.

Ryan Madson - Fleer Tradition #142
Madson was the Phillies 9th round draft pick in 1998 and made the club in 2003. Since 2003 he has mainly been used as a middle reliever. He was a starter in 2006 with an 11-9 record. In 2008, he appeared in 76 games with an ERA of 3.05, a 4-2 record and 1 save. He appeared in 11 games in the playoffs, winning a game against the Dodgers in the NLCS. It's hard for me to judge how important Madson was to the 2008 Phillies, since I don't ofter get to see them play. But, considering he appeared in a lot of games, Manuel must have had confidence in him.

Charlie Manuel - Topps Traded #87
How important is a manager to the success of a club? I'm not going to try and answer that ages old baseball question. Under Terry Francona from 1997 to 2000, the Phillies were a sub-.500 club. Of course, Francona went on to be a genuis in Boston. Larry Bowa took over the team from 2001 through 2004. The Phillies were 86-76 for three of those years. Close enough to almost make a wild-card spot. Under Manual they've been better. 88-74 in 2005, 89-73 and the NL East in 2007, and 92-70 and the World Series in 2008. My opinion is that the Phillies as a team were getting better with guys like Howard and Hamels maturing. I think a manager can have an important role in that sort of development. Larry Bowa was probably the wrong man for the job.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Song of the Week - High by The Cure

I have 6,649 songs in iTunes. This is one of them.

I pretty much missed The Cure when they started out way back in 1976 but somewhere along the line I picked up their Greatest Hits CD and I like it a lot. This song is, I guess mid-career Cure from their 1992 album Wish. The video is from a concert in 2004. If you're a fan you might also want to look at the original video of the song here. Lead singer Robert Smith doesn't seem to have aged well.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday Night at the Movies - The Soloist

This is a pretty good movie. Jamie Foxx plays Nathanael Ayers, a homeless man with mental problems who just happens to be musically gifted. Robert Downey Jr. plays Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez. Lopez meets Ayers by chance on the streets of LA and is drawn to him as an inspiration for a column. As Lopez gets to know Ayers, he gets more drawn into the man's life and begins to feel it is his duty to save him. But in the end, Ayers doesn't want salvation, he wants a friend.

This is all based on actual columns (and eventually a book) by the real Steve Lopez. I remember Lopez as a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer many years ago. He also used to write for Entertainment Weekly. Foxx, who proved he was a good actor in Ray, pulls of a stunning performance as the much more troubled Ayers. He also apparently learned to play the cello for the part and although I'm not a good judge of this, I read an article which says he plays very well. This probably won't be in the theaters much longer as the summer blockbusters are coming so hurry out and see it. Or rent it when its out on DVD.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I blog therefore I am

This is the 6th Blog Bat Around. I haven't participated in one of these before but I thought I give it a try. Here are the Top Ten Reasons I blog about baseball cards.
#1 I love baseball and this gives me a chance to write about baseball.
#2. I love collecting baseball cards and I love talking about my collection. I've pretty much bored everyone I know (including my long-suffering wife) about my collection but here I'm talking to others who love baseball cards as well.
#3. I have a lot of baseball cards (67,782 different cards). I'm sure there are folks who have more cards than I do and folks who have better baseball cards than I do but I've go a lot of cards and a lot of interesting cards. There is always something to write about.
#4. I like to write and this is something I know something about that I can write about. BTW, it was real hard to find a card with a player wearing a #4.
#5.Were I live, baseball card collecting has become a solitary hobby. There are no decent card shops around and I don't know a single adult who collects cards. Here I can share my collection with others.
#6. I continue to blog because of the community. I didn't expect this when I started. I've met a bunch of friendly, generous people here.
#7. No number 7. Just an excuse to post a Mickey Mantle card.
#8. My blog is called Capewood's Collections because I collect other things than baseball cards. I collect Cliff Walk postcards, music, bonsai plants, and books (not so much to buy but to read). So I write about these other things as well on occasion. Most of my hobby energy goes into my cards so that's what I write about the most.
#9. Because I can. I've thought this concept of blogging was interesting for awhile and had been looking for an idea. I discovered baseball card blogs early last year and said to myself, "I can do that".
#10. I've got opinions and and I don't mind sharing them.
I finally found a blaster box of Upper Deck Goudey in Target yesterday. No promises of relics or autographs in every box (on average) but I was pretty pleased with the selection of cards I got. The cards below are what I got out of the box for my reference collection. In addition to these I also pulled Matsuzaka, Astros Lee and Oswalt, Pettitte, Phillies Utley and Rollins, and Ichiro. The 20th Anniversary card features Nolan Ryan.

Albert Pujols #178While I suspect that the original cards had white borders, they usually give these vintage reproductions yellowish borders to simulate the card looking old. I'm not sure that was a wise choice here because the background colors are so bright. But you can't go wrong with Albert.

Michael Bowden #26
Any rookie card will do at this point. I only got a few of these anyway.

Cal Ripken #20
Probably my favorite pull from the box.

Ron Santo #206
According to, this is a short print. Most of the retired players are short printed, but not the Ripken card.

Hanley Ramirez #282
From the Heads Up subset. This is the only one of these in the box.

Don Mattingly #224
The only Sport Royalty subset card in the box. I always enjoy getting Donny Baseball cards.

Roy Halladay Mini #193
According to, the minis come with 3 different back colors, black, green and Navy Blue. I got 3 minis. The backs all look like the regular cards which is sort of blue. So I'm assuming this is the Navy Blue back.

There are 4 different border colors. I'm assuming that this maroon color is the base. The others have Black, Blue or Gree borders. I have three of these. I chose this on for the reference since it featured 4 catchers.

4-in-1 Blue
Only one of these. It features all Cubs.