Friday, July 31, 2009

Virtual Bike Tour of Baseball Sites - Arlington Texas

The next stop on my virtual grand tour of major league cities is Arlington Texas, the home of the Texas Rangers. I've lived in Texas (outside Houston) for 14 years now and haven't had a chance to visit Ameriquest Field. It's only about a 5 hour drive from my house. Click on the map to get a larger view.I'm up to almost 11 miles on the stationery bike per trip to the YMCA. I've decided to head north and then east from here as there are more major league teams to the west. If I can stay with this for a few years I should be able to make it back to the West Coast.

Arlington is the birthplace of 2 major league players, Ben Grieve and Hunter Pence.

1998 Donruss #415 (Spirit of the Game subset)
Ben Grieve was the A's #1 draft pick in 1994. He made is major league debut with the A's on 9/3/97. He was the American League ROY in 1998 and was selected for the 1998 All-Star Team. He had a 9-year career, retiring after the 2005 season, with a career batting average of .269, 118 HRs and 492 rbis. I don't know too much about him but he seems to have been a steady player.

1999 Upper Deck View To A Thrill Doubles
This was a serial numbered (to 2000) insert in 1999 Upper Deck. It's die cut and full of gold foil. It's designed to look like something you'd plug into an computer circuit.

1999 UD Choice Mini Bobbing Head
You could punch out the pieces and make yourself a little Ben Grieve bobbing head. It was an insert in 1999 UD Choice, which was Upper Deck's successor set to Collector's Choice. I only got a few of these so I never actually tried making one.

2004 Justifiable #62
Hunter Pence was the Astros #2 draft pick in 2004. He came up in 2007 and finished 3rd in the ROY voting. He was an All-Star this year (the only NL player not to get into the game). He is an exciting young player and is great fun to watch. I paid $3.34 for this card on eBay in 2007. Today you can get it for $0.99 with free shipping.

2007 Bowman Heritage #226 (Short Print)
These short-printed 2007 Bowman Heritage cards are fun. The cards missing the facsimily autograph are short-printed. I pulled this from a blaster box.

2007 Ultimate Collection Ultimate Write of Passage (12/60)
The pride of my Hunter Pence collection. I got this card (and another great card) by contributing $10 to a group box break hosted by Saints of the Cheap Seats last year. Beckett books it as $60 and 40/60 is on a Buy It Now sale in eBay for $60.

2009 Topps Turkey Red

It was nice to see Turkey Red cards come back this year even if only an insert in Topps.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Phillies get Cliff Lee

Roy Halladay may be a better pitcher but the Phillies deemed his price too high. Among other players, the Blue Jays wanted rookie pitcher J. A. Happ. Happ is 7-2 this year with a 2.97 ERA. Since the Phillies are looking for a starting pitcher it sure didn't make sense to give up a starting pitcher. They got Lee and Ben Francisco from the Indians for four minor leaguers. They did give up AAA pitcher Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco has been in the Phillies system for 5 years without making the bigs. They kept Kyle Drabek, one of their top prospects, who the Blue Jays wanted.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

2009 2nd basemen cards

I only have 24 Topps cards featuring 2nd basemen compared to 33 1st basemen but the photos are more varied. The 1st basemen cards were all of either hitting or fielding. The 2nd basemen cards feature 9 fielding, 8 batting, 4 running the bases, 2 on-deck and this picture:Matt Antonelli screws his helmet on.
The fielding shots are that exciting. This is the best. Kevin Frandsen fielding a throw from the catcher on a steal attempt. I'd guess that the runner was safe.
Jose Lopez starts a double play.
Chase Utley leaps over a sliding Red.
Mark Ellis takes what looks like a late swing.
Another awkward swing as Howie Kendrick protects the plate.
But it looks like Alexi Casilla got all of it.
Ray Durham slides into home. It looks like the catcher has the ball in his glove so it's going to be a close play. Durham has been around a long time. He'd be in his 15th season but he doesn't seem to be playing this year.
Jamey Carrol rounds third giving it his all.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

2009 Topps 1st Basemen Cards

I have 33 2009 Topps cards where the player is identified as a first baseman. 21 of the cards feature the player batting, the othe 13 show him on defense. Oddly, none of the cards feature the player running the bases or doing something else (like posing, sitting in the dugout, or whatever).
Prince Fielder using both hands fielding the ball, just like he learned in Little League.
James Loney holding the runner close.
Conor Jackson stretching to catch the Topps logo while keeping his foot on the bag as the runner slides in head first. Is it ever a good idea to slide into first base?
Carlos Pena making a good catch.
The most acrobatic play of a first baseman featured. Ross Gload makes a flying catch. I assume he caught it since his glove is closed.
Mark Sweeney looks like he knows what pitch is coming and can't wait for it.
Billy Butler watches it fly.
Nick Johnson looks to have gotten all of it.
My favorite batting card is when the ball and bat are visible in the photo. Casey Kotchman is a vision of concentration as he tracks the ball.
Mark Teixeira looks to be huffing and puffing as he breaks out of the box.

Monday, July 27, 2009

2009 Topps Catcher Cards

Last week, Night Owl posted this card as his latest entry for the worst card of 2009. I pretty much agree with his assessment but wondered about other catcher cards. Due to the equipment they wear, catchers can be hard to identify on a baseball cards. And although this is a picture of his back, you can figure out who he is if you recognize the Astro's uniform because you can see enough of his name. I have 40, 2009 Topps cards of players identified as catchers on the card. Of these only 14 feature the player on offense, either at bat or running the bases, which means most of them (26) feature the player on defense. I don't have any hard stats but I suspect catchers are more likely to be shown on defense than other position players. Almost half of the cards (12) on defense feature the player with his mask on and in most of them (9), I think the player is pretty much unidentifiable.
Here's Victor Martinez of the Indians. You can't see his face at all and I'd be hard put to identify his uniform.
Yadier Molina of the Cardinals. Lots of teams have red uniforms. I guess you could guess he is a Cardinal if you look carefully at the wall between his legs.
This is Kenji Johjima. The card could just as easily been of the runner (whoever that is) or the catcher. In these days of inter-league play you couldn't even make a good guess as to which league the catcher is in.
Ramon Hernandez. Perhaps my favorite catcher card. Extreme closeup of somebody. Maybe his mother would recognize him. Here are some cards without masks.
Paul Bako. You can see his face and his team insignia. Looks like a spring training game.
Jorge Posada putting on his equipment. The only catcher card like it in the set.
Ramon Castro. You can see his face, the name on his back and his team insignia.
Nick Hundley. I only call this player identifiable because you can see his face. I would have had a hard time recognizing him because is uniform is unfamiliar. I guess it's a good thing they put the player's names on the cards. He's apparently giving the "Hook 'em Horns" sign to somebody in the stands.
My second favorite catcher card, Brandon Inge. He looks awfully unhappy as he pinches the top of his pants and carries a bottle of water (I assume).

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Song of the Week - Title And Registration by Death Cab For Cutie

I have 7,518 songs on iTunes. This is one of them.

I became familiar with Death Cab for Cutie a few years ago when I used to listen to the Philadelphia public radio station WXPN over the Internet. Then I saw them on Letterman and decided to collect their music. This is from their 2003 CD Transatlanticism. It's their 4th CD but the first time I'd heard of them. The video is very strange.

Friday, July 24, 2009

1990s Phillies Want List

I've seen other bloggers use Google documents for their want lists so I decided to do it myself. It was pretty easy to set up the document., once I had it prepared. The hard part was to figure out all the 1990s Phillies cards and get them into a spreadsheet. There were a bunch of them. Here's what a small part of the spreadsheet looks like.Here's how I did this. I started with a list of each year's Phillies that I got on Then I searched on for each player for each year. Tedious for sure. I've also included Reading Phillies (the Phillies AA club) and the Scranton/Wilkes-Berry Red Barons (their AAA club) in the list. The spreadsheet has 10 tabs, one for each year 1990-1999. Loading the spreadsheet to Google was simple and providing a link to the spreadsheet was also simple. You'll see a new link to the right to 1990s Phillies. This is just the Phillies I need.

I know there are other Phillies collectors out there who might be interested in getting my full list of 1990s Phillies. I'm willing to trade for it. I'll email you a full copy of the list for any 15 Phillies cards that I need.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday Night at the Movies - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

We decided to skip this during the opening week just because we don't like standing in lines. The theater this evening was about half full.

My wife and daughter are big fans of the books. I've read the first few books, after seeing the movies, but my Harry Potter experience has mostly been through the movies. My daughter is boycotting this movie as she did the last because what she's read about the movie didn't fit with the books she loves. This is the 6th movie. I enjoyed the first 3 but had problems with them as movies. To me, there was way too much exposition in the movies and not enough story. I liked the last two the best as they had the best stories. A lot of the home life, shopping for new school stuff, the train ride to school and other stuff like this had been pared way back. I will admit that I like the whole concept of the stories, that there is magic in the world of which we mere mortals know nothing.

This movie acknowledges that the characters are getting older and turning into randy teenagers. There's a whole lot of snogging going on but its relatively discreet and provides most of the lighter moments in the movie. The main story concerns some, presumably evil, task given by the Dark Lord to Malfoy. The animosity between Potter and Malfoy seemed pretty important in the early movies, but the Malfoy character has diminished in importance as the series has progressed, even though, in this movie, he is given the task which leads to the climax of the movie.

I did not like this installment as much as the last two. Again, there isn't enough story. The climax of the movie seems to have been too easily accomplished and I don't really believe it's true. The movie very much feels like a bridge between the 5th movie and the final 2. I think that the climax is supposed to set up the conflict in the final movies but it felt more like an afterthought than a defining moment. And I was disappointed in the grand revelation - the identity of the Half-Blood Prince. My response was "So what, what's so important about the Half-Blood Prince"?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Photoshop Masterpieces

I love it when I find stuff like this. Doug Mientkiewicz played the 2005 season with the Mets. He had finished the 2004 season with the Red Sox. In 2005, I think the Topps set was probably issued very late in 2004, or early 2005, before 2005 Spring Training. But here is his 2005 Topps card as a Met. How did they get a picture of him in a Mets uniform? In the old days, the answer was airbrushing which always looked pretty crude. Today (even in 2005) we have Photoshop (or other programs like it).
Here is his 2005 Topps Opening Day card as a Red Sox.

It seems likely that the picture was originally of him in a Red Sox uniform which they Photoshopped for the Topps card. Now here is what puzzles me. Topps Opening Day would typically come out near the beginning of April. If they already altered a photo to make him look like a Met in an earlier release, why did they issue the Opening Day set with him as a Red Sox?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Trade with Dinged Corners

Earlier in the year I had suggested to several other bloggers a trade where I would save 2009 cards of their favorite team for them in exchange for either Phillies or Astros cards. I set up this deal with 4 bloggers, 2 for Astros and 2 for Phillies. The first deal is done with Patricia over at Dinged Corners. Mets for her, Phillies for me. I threw in some older Mets cards which I hope she likes as much as the older Phillies cards she threw in for me. For me, the key 2009 card she sent was this Topps Mike Schmidt. This is one of the short printed alternative cards in the 2009 Topps set. I tried to buy this a couple of times on eBay without success.I was also happy to receive the other 2009 cards but some of the older cards I really love. Like this 2007 Bowman Heritage short print of Chase Utley. I already had the regular edition card. For those of you who don't know, the short print cards are missing the facsimile signature.
Then there was this 2008 Upper Deck Goudey Ryan Howard. Also a short print.
The following card is a 2008 Bowman Prospects Chrome card of Chance Chapman. I already had this card but its a great looking card. Chance is 4-1 so far this year with the AA Reading Phillies.
Pacific started out mainly producing cards for the Spanish speaking market but by the early 2000s were producing a great many mainstream sets. They had also gone serial numbered parallel crazy. This card is a 2001 Pacific Premier Date numbered to 36 of Kevin Jordan, a utility infielder with the Phillies. The card features Jordan in a scrum with Larry Walker of the Rockies. Walker is a player I collect so this card gets double points with me.
Jordan was the last member of the potential 1995 Phillies all Kevin infield. If they had wished the Phillies could have had Kevin Stocker at shortstop, Kevin Jordan at 2nd, Kevin Sefcik at 3rd and Kevin Flora at 1st. Flora was actually a center fielder but it would have been a good stunt.

This next card is another one I had but it features a smiling Jim Eisenreich. Jim was always one of my favorite mid-1990s Phillies.
And finally we come to this, a 1993 Cracker Jack Anniversary card of Grover Cleveland Alexander.
I'd never even heard of these before. The 24-card set was available in specially marked Cracker Jack boxes in 1993. It's a tiny card, the gray border is the size of a normal card. You can click on it to see it better.