Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Trade with John

John contacted me via email wanting to trade some Phillies. He's got a Phillies want list posted here. I sent him some 2006 and 2008 Phillies for some early 1990s vintage Phillies. Here's what I got:

1992 Ruben Amaro Stadium Club #8701992 was Ruben's 2nd year in the majors and his first with the Phillies. This is a rookie card. He played for the Phillies in 1992-1993 and again in 1996-1998. His father, Ruben Sr., played for the Phillies in the 1960s. Today Ruben is the Phillies General Manager. This is a great card if you like Phillies red (which I do).

1993 Mariano Duncan Topps Gold #371
Duncan played for the Phillies from 1992 through 1994 and was a big part of the 1993 team which went to the World Series. Topps pioneered the use of gold foil on a base set with the 1991 Stadium Club set. In 1992, Topps introduced Topps Gold as an insert set. In 1993, Topps Gold cards were inserted 1 per wax pack.

1993 Kyle Abbott Topps Gold 317
This was the second year that the Topps base set was printed on white card stock. In 1993, Topps radically changed the design of the backs of the cards, putting in a color photo and printing the backs in a vertical orientation. In 1993, these card backs were quite innovative for Topps and I always liked them.

1993 Mickey Morandini Topps Gold #263
I like this card because it shows Morandini in a blue cap. This photo would have been at a Phillies home game in 1992. If I remember correctly, the Phillies introduced the blue caps for Sunday home games. This experiment didn't last long. The Phillies, who weren't very good in 1992, lost a bunch of games wearing the blue caps and the players and fans started thinking they were bad luck.

1994 Kevin Stocker Donruss #245
Donruss started using gold foil in their regular issue base set in 1994. They also had a Special Edition parallel set (one per pack) which featured gold foil on the entire box with the logo and the background of the player's name.

1994 Danny Jackson Topps Gold #199
Danny looks like he's pitching in front of a green screen but it's just the outfield wall of Vet Stadium. This would be the last year for Topps Gold until 2001. In 1995, Topps started with gold foil on its regular issue cards. In 2001, Topps would introduce gold foil borders as limited edition (and serial numbered) cards.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Song of the Week - Tom Traubert's Blues by Tom Waits

I have 7110 songs in iTunes. This is one of them.

Tom Waits has written a lot of great songs over the years but I think he is a tough performer to like. He has a deep gravelly voice and in the live concert videos I've found on You Tube he is almost impossible to understand. But here's a video where you can almost understand every word and it's one of my favorite Tom Waits tunes. You can follow along with the lyrics below the video.

I've never seen a singer who puts more passion and agony into every word he sings.

Wasted and wounded, it ain't what the moon did
Got what I paid for now
See ya tomorrow, hey Frank can I borrow
A couple of bucks from you?
To go waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
You'll go a waltzing Matilda with me

I'm an innocent victim of a blinded alley
And tired of all these soldiers here
No one speaks English and everything's broken
And my Stacys are soaking wet
To go waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
You'll go a waltzing Matilda with me

Now the dogs are barking and the taxi cab's parking
A lot they can do for me
I begged you to stab me, you tore my shirt open
And I'm down on my knees tonight
Old Bushmill's I staggered, you buried the dagger
Your silhouette window light
To go waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
You'll go a waltzing Matilda with me

Now I lost my Saint Christopher now that I've kissed her
And the one-armed bandit knows
And the maverick Chinaman and the cold-blooded signs
And the girls down by the strip-tease shows
Go, waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
You'll go a waltzing Matilda with me

No, I don't want your sympathy
The fugitives say that the streets aren't for dreaming now
Manslaughter dragnets and the ghosts that sell memories
They want a piece of the action anyhow
Go, waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
You'll go a waltzing Matilda with me

And you can ask any sailor and the keys from the jailor
And the old men in wheelchairs know
That Matilda's the defendant, she killed about a hundred
And she follows wherever you may go
Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
You'll go a waltzing Matilda with me

And it's a battered old suitcase to a hotel someplace
And a wound that will never heal
No prima donna, the perfume is on
An old shirt that is stained with blood and whiskey
And goodnight to the street swee

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thursday Night at the Movies - The Proposal

I like Sandra Bullock a lot but, from the trailers we'd seen I wasn't sure about this movie. But I saw some good reviews so we decided to see it.

It turned out to be pretty good. It's not an original story by any stretch of the imagination. Boy meets girl, boy hates girl, impossible and borderline unbelievable situation throws boy and girl together, love grows, love splits them up, love brings them together. It's got Mary Steenburgen as boy's mom (I wish she'd make more movies) and Betty White as boy's grandmother (who steals just about every scene she's in). It also has Aasif Mandiv (from The Daily Show) in a very short but just about perfect scene. There are several laugh out funny scenes and the transformation of the Sandra Bullock character from 'Satan's mistress' to actual love interest is at least believable.

This is a 'date' movie so don't bring the kids. Not that there's anything too objectionable, I just think the kids won't really get it. I recommend it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

O-Pee-Chee Box Break Part 2

Continuing directly from yesterday's post. Finally in pack 7 of the first box, an Astro. This is the first Jeff Keppinger card of the year.
The only Philly or Astro black border card. I got no black border cards of players I collect, and no star cards either.

Although I didn't scan them there was one 20th Anniversary Retrospective card in each box. The card in this box featured an unnamed hockey player on the Minnesota Wild. Really, there's a hockey team called the Wild?
A card from the "All-Rookie" 10-card insert set. Sorry Steve but this is the only card from this insert set I got so it goes into the reference book.
Now wait a minute, another hockey card? This is from the 33-card insert set called "O-Pee-Chee Retro". At least some of the players featured in this set are baseball players. I don't get the "Retro" designation. Is this a reproduction of an old O-Pee-Chee hockey card?
A card from the 10-card "Walk-Off Winners" insert set. I wonder how many "walk-off" moments there were in 2008 that they thought that a sac fly deserved a card?
In the 15th (and last) pack of the first box is this card from the 30-card "New York New York" insert set. The set commemorates the new baseball stadiums for the Mets and Yankees. This is a thick card on white card stock with a glossy front and back. If you click on the image to see a larger version you'll see that the card is not cut with square corners. Look along the bottom edge. Trying a little too hard for the retro look?
Another insert card in the first pack of the 2nd box, the 15-card "Midsummer Memories" set. This commemorates David Ortiz's 2-run homer in the 2004 game. According to the back of the card there were 41,886 fans at the Minute Maid Park in Houston. I was one of them, the only All-Star game I've attended. I was even on TV for all of 1 second.
Only the second and last Astros card. I like Lance!
Carlos Delgado from the 15-card "Highlights and Milestones" insert set. The highlight here is that Carlos had a team record 9 rbis in a game on June 27th. So why do they have a picture of him making a defensive play? I looked up this game on baseball-reference.com. Did the Mets and Yankees play a double-header that day with one game at Shea and the other at Yankee Stadium?
All of the other team checklist cards, base of black bordered feature the team's stadium except this one.
Yankee card from the "New York New York" insert set. Unlike the other card I got, at least this one is cut straight. But it's cut short. You may be able to see a thin gray line across the top of the card (click on it first).
The Moments subset in black border. I like this card. I got all the black border subsets except for a rookie card.
In the last pack of the last box, a black bordered mini card. Did you know that Ted Lilly's full name is Theodore Roosevelt Lilly ? I didn't.

The set has 13 insert sets. I got at least one card from each except for the "Materials" (a relic card I guess), "New York New York Multi Sport" (no idea), and "Signatures" (presumably autographed).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

O-Pee-Chee Box Break Part 1

Last Friday I stopped at the local WalMart to get me some of the O-Pee-Chee cards I've been seeing on the blogs. I bought 2 $20 blaster boxes. With 90 cards in the box, the price isn't too bad. The cards are printed on gray stock with no gloss. Here's what I got.First card out of the first pack is a Philly, catcher Chris Coste. The cards feature a mix of posed photos, like this one, and action shots. The cards are not a copy of some past O-Pee-Chee set which had been rumored but actually look more like 1976 Topps cards. As such, they could have just as easily called this set Upper Deck Vintage (remember them?). I don't know about others but I wouldn't be more inclined to buy these just because they are called O-Pee-Chee. I like the design and I rather like the retro cards but it seems like this year there are more retro cards than not.

There is one black-bordered parallel card in each pack. These look pretty good.
First subset card, a team checklist. These are numbered as part of the regular set and feature a shot like this of the team's stadium.
The first insert card, called "The Award Show". There are 20 cards in the set. I got two of them, one per box. I think this card is a bit busy. Jimmy really gets lost in the card design and the background.
Another subset, called Moments. This one is during the 2008 All-Star game. Zambrano blanked the AL in the 3rd and 4th inning. I'm not sure why this is called a "Moment". The game went on for 15 innings and Carlos had nothing to do with the decision.
Some of the cards are in horizontal format. I only show this one because this particular pose is my least favorite baseball card pose. I've got 4 or 5 from the set with similar poses.
Another subset called Leaders.
4 packs in and finally a player I collect (not counting the two Phillies).
The last subset. The Rookie banner is added with the horrible Rookie Card logo.
A black bordered team checklist card. I think they overuse the color purple on these cards.
Finally, 6 packs in, a star card. My only real complaint about these two boxes is the lack of star players. Chipper is the biggest star I got on a base card. No Jeter, A Rod, Howard, or Pujols.
But I did get a few Carlos Zambrano cards, including this card from the "Face of the Franchise" insert set. This is a 30-card set. One face per team, I guess. This was in pack 7 of the first box.

Stayed tuned tomorrow for the rest of the first box and the second box.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Phorgotten Phillie Phile - Chad McConnell

There were a few big players chosen in the first round of the in 1992 draft. Guys like Derek Jeter, Jason Kendall and Johnny Damon. The Phillies first round pick was Chad McConnell out of Creighton University. Creighton is not exactly known as a powerhouse baseball school. The biggest player drafted from there seems to be Scott Servais, a 3rd round pick of the Astros in 1987. McConnell played for 4 years in the Phillies minor league system, making it to Double A Reading. During that time he hit .245 with 39 home runs. The guy sure looks like a winner in his cards.
1992 Bowman Foil

1993 Topps

1993 Upper Deck

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Song of the Week - It won't Be Long from Across the Universe

I have 6,985 songs on iTunes. This is one of them.

I'm not necessarily a big fan of musicals but I discovered this movie last summer and fell in love with it. They did such a good job of weaving the songs (all Beatles music) into the story and everyone was so good in the movie. The song popped up on iTunes and I had to see if there was a video available. Here it is.

And by the way, Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there.

Friday, June 19, 2009

eBay surprise

Not often, but sometimes an eBay seller will throw in an extra card or two into the envelope. I always love it when they do that.

Here's what I had ordered, a 2004 Roy Oswalt Diamond Kings Framed Silver, serial numbered to 100. I love the 2004 Diamond Kings, one of my favorite sets from the 2000s. The set is almost impossible to collect however. There are 83 parallel version of the base card. The parallels have different sorts of foil, frames, relics, autos and combinations of each of these. Here's a 1993 Ted Williams Juan Gonzalez card the seller threw in as a bonus. I only have a handful of this set but I like it. Most of the cards feature retired players and Hall of Famers. The Dawning of a New Age featured young current players. Gonzalez would hit 46 home runs in 1993 with a .310 average. At the time he certainly looked like part of a new age. Unfortunately that 'new age' may turn out to be the steroid age. Nevertheless, I collect Gonzalez and didn't have this card.
Here's the other card he threw in.
A 1992 Super Country Music Trading Card featuring the band Sawyer Brown. What am I supposed to do with this? These guys released 15 albums between 1985 and 2005. I am not a country music fan, but to each his own I always say. There are currently two buy it now auctions on eBay featuring this card. One for $4.00 the other for $4.97. There aren't too many 1992 baseball cards I can think of that I'd be willing to spend $4-5 on.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Phillies Transformation 2005 to 2008 Finale

Part 4 of series. How did the 2005 Phillies become the 2008 World Champion Phillies?

Rob Tejeda (2004 Bowman)

Tejeda was signed by the Phillies in 1998 and was finally called up in 2005. He was 4-3 with the Phillies in 2005 before being traded to the Rangers with Jack Blalock for David Dellucci. Blalock is Hank Blalock's brother and is apparently playing in Italy this year. Dellucci spend 2006 with the Phillies as an outfielder. He hit .292 and with 13 home runs in 132 games. He was a free agent at the end of 2006 and doesn't seem to have played since. No impact for Tejeda on the 2008 team.

Jim Thome (2005 Prime Parches Portraits Team Logo Patch)

Jim was in the 3rd and last year of a $36.5 million contract with the Phillies. He was hurt most of the season so the Phillies had to turn to a guy named Ryan Howard to fill in at 1st base.

Michael Tucker (2005 Topps Update)
Tucker was acquired by the Phillies in August 2005 from the Giants for Kelvin Pichardo. He had 18 at bats for the Phillies hitting .222. Then he was released at the end of the season. I uploaded the cards for this post a few weeks ago and I must have had some reason for showing the back of this card instead of the front but I'll be darned if I can remember what it was.

Ugueth Urbina (2005 Topps Update)
Urbina was acquired in another mid-season trade, this one with the Tigers for Olacido Polanco. He was also a free agent at the end of the season. He was 4-3 with one save as a reliever in 2005 for the Phillies.

Chase Utley (2005 Fleer Authentix)
After 2 years of sharing 2nd base with Placido Polanco Utley became the Phillies staring 2nd baseman in 2005. He responded with a .291 season and 28 home runs. 2006-2008 were excellent years for Chase as he established himself as one of the best 2nd basemen in the league. He earned a Silver Slugger award and was on the All-Star team each year. He was a big part of the 2005 team, a huge part of the 2008 World Series team and continues to be a great player.

Shane Victorino (2007 Topps Heritage)
Shane was drafted by the Phillies from the Dodgers in the 2004 Rule V draft. He only appeared in 24 games in 2005 but became a started in 2006. He was one of the core players on the 2008 team.

Billy Wagner (2005 Donruss)
Wagner signed a 2-year $17 million contract with the Phillies in 2004. He was coming off some big years with the Astros (he saved 44 games for the Astros in 2003) but never really caught on with the Phillies. He was hurt part of the time as well. He saved 21 games in 2004 and 38 in 2005. He signed a 3-year, $31.5 million deal with the Mets after the 2005 season. He did pretty well with the Mets but I'm not sure what has happened to him. He has no stats for 2009. Billy had no impact on the 2008 Phillies.

Randy Woolf (2005 Bowman)
Randy was 6-4 in 13 starts with an ERA of 4.39 for the 2005 Phillies. He was 4-0 in limited action in 2006 and then became a free agent, signing with the Dodgers. No impact on the 2008 Phillies.

Tim Worrell (2005 Topps Heritage)
At 37, Todd was one of the oldest Phillies in 2005. He saved 19 games for the Phillies in 2003 but he only appeared in 19 games in 2005 before being traded to the D-backs for Matt Kata. Kata appeared in 10 games in 2005. He's knocked around since then and in 2008 was playing minor league ball in the Pirates system. This year he's with the Astros. No impact on the 2008 team.

So where does that leave us? Of the 40 men who played some part of the season with the 2005 Phillies, only 7 were still with the team in 2008. These were Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, Shane Victorino, Brett Myers and Ryan Madson. In 2005, the offensive core of the 2008 Phillies was already with the team. All they had to do was just about completely revamp the pitching staff.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Afternoon at the Movies - Up

Although the trailers for Up looked pretty good, I wasn't planning to see it. But my daughter talked us into it and my youngest son also wanted to see it so we went to see it today. I'm glad I did. Pixar manages to put out quality movie after quality movie. Their last movie Wall E great. In many ways, Up is less ambitious than Wall E but since it's about human beings (and talking dogs) it's more accessible. The trailers for the film only show the main character Carl as a grouchy old man. But the movie actually starts when Carl is a shy boy who has adventure in his soul.

His entire life is captured in perhaps the first 10 minutes of the film, from, as that shy boy he meets tomboy Ellie, they marry, and grow old, she dies. This is accomplished mostly through pictures with virtually no words. It's very poignant. But when Carl loosens thousands of balloons from his roof which are tied down in his fireplace and the house lifts away we understand why he's doing it.

He and his unwitting traveling companion, an Wilderness Explorer (like a Cub Scout) Russel are off to South America to find Paradise Falls, a place that Carl and Ellie have dreamed about visiting since they were children.

If you've got kids I highly recommend you take them to see this. But even if you don't take yourself. There were adults all over the theater laughing out loud.

The talking dogs are great. SQUIRREL!

Song of the Week - Heart of Gold by Neil Young

I have 6,985 songs on iTunes. This is one of them.

This song is from Neil's 1972 album Harvest, one of his best and I think, one of the best albums of all time. In 1972, I lived on Long Island for 6 months working at a co-op job while attending Drexel University. I had taken my stereo with me and purchased this album while there. It was one of the few records I had to listen to so I listened to it all the time. I don't often post two videos in the same post but I found a live version from 1971 and another from 2008. This period encompasses most of my adult life and I still love this song.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Virtual Bike Tour of Baseball Sites - Round Rock Texas

I rolled into Round Rock Texas today on my Virtual Bike Trip. As near as I can tell, there are no baseball players actually born there but Round Rock is the home of the Round Rock Express, the Astros AAA affiliate. The Express is owned by Nolan Ryan, hence the name Express. The team is in the American South Division of the Pacific Coast league, tied for first place with the Albuquerque Isotopes. I wouldn't get too excited about being in first place since they have a 28-32 record. Here are the players on the team for whom I have baseball cards.
Yorman Bazardo (2005 Donruss Team Heroes) - He's pitched some in the majors with the Marlins and Tigers. This is the only card of have of him. He's 7-2 for the Express with a 2.45 ERA. The Astros signed him in April 2009.
Jose Capellan (2004 Upper Deck R-Class) - Jose has bounced around the league with major league time with the Braves, Brewers, Tigers and Rockies. The Astros signed him in January 2008. This card I had scanned as a reference card. He's 1-7 with an ERA of 9.00. I don't expect to see him in an Astro's uniform anytime soon.
Mark McLemore (2008 Topps '52) - Mark was the Astros 4th round draft pick in 2002. He was 3-0 in 29 relief appearances with the Astros in 2007. He missed the entire 2008 season after elbow surgery. He is 0-2 with an ERA over 10 in 2 starts this year at Round Rock. Sounds like he has a way to go.
Humberto Quintero (2009 Topps) - He only played 4 games at Round Rock before being called up to the Astros. He's played parts of the past 4 seasons in Houston. He's playing behind Ivan Rodriguez this year but doing pretty well, hitting .302 in 15 games. He had a 3-hit game a few nights ago. Is this card about the worst card featuring a catcher you can imagine?
J. R. Towles (2008 Allen & Ginter) - Towles looked pretty good in 2007 in limited action with the Astros and got more playing time in 2008. But he only batted .187 in 54 games. He appeared in 4 games for the Astros this year but I believe he was sent down after Rodriguez got here.
Chris Johnson (2009 Bowman Gold) - Chris was the Astros 4th round pick in 2006. He has not had any playing time with the Astros. He's currently batting .305 in 30 games with the Express.
Tommy Manzella (2005 Bowman Draft Picks Gold) - The Astros 3rd round pick in 2005, he is in his second year at Round Rock. He's batting .303 in 58 games. Tommy is a short stop who is unlikely to bump the Astros Miguel Tejada who is currently batting .350.
Mark Saccomanno (2009 Upper Deck) - Mark is a first baseman with some pop in his bat. He's hit 49 homeruns in the last two years at Round Rock. He had a brief 10 games stint with the Astros last year. He's not likely to bump Lance Berkman out of a job anytime soon however.
Reggie Abercrombie (2009 Topps) - Reggie was picked off waivers from the Marlins after the 2007 season. He hit .309 in 34 games with the Astros last year. He's batting .280 with 6 HRs with the Express. The play on this card is from a Spetember 6, 2008 game at the Rockies. With the Astros up 2-0 and 2 outs in the 8th inning, Abercrombie got a double (his 3rd hit of the game). Ausmus was intentially walked and the Astros manager Cecil Cooper decided to let Roy Oswalt bat for himself. He got a single but Abercrombie was out at the plate. Oswalt went on to finish the game and won 2-0.