Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Players I Collect - 2016

Continuing a series of posts of 2016 cards of Players I Collect that had cards in 2016. I'm excluding most Phillies and Astros since I collect all of them. The last player was Chipper Jones. Next up John Kruk.

John Kruk
 Admittedly, I mainly collect John Kruk because the major productive part of his career was with the Phillies, but I collect his Padres and White Sox cards as well. One of my baseball card collecting pet peeves is the frequent repeat use of photos. The last post-season Kruk card I have is 2013 Allen and Ginter, which has the same photo on it as this Archives card. I have 158 Kruk, almost all of the as a Phillie.

Barry Larkin
Barry Larkin post-season cards seem pretty rare to me. The only other one I have is from 2011. He retired in 2005. I have 182 Barry Larkin cards going back to his first season, 1986.

Tim Lincecum
Lincecum actually pitched for the Angels this year after signing a 1 year, $2.5 MM contract. He was only 2-4 with the Angels and spent much of the season in the minors. Maybe I should have waited for Topps Update to do this post since this is the only 2016 Lincecum card I have. Maybe Lincecum shouldn't have cut his hair. I have 79 total Lincecum cards.

Greg Maddux

The sign of a great pitcher is when he can keep his cool when the stadium is exploding around him. I have 278 Maddux cards dating back to the start of his career in 1986.

Willie Mays

You can usually count on a few Willie Mays cards each year. I pulled 5 of them in 2016. I really love the Stadium Club photo. I only have 37 Mays cards, all post-career. Someday I'm going to have to find a card from when he was playing.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Movie Review - The Accountant

Autistic accountant in shootout. Kills everybody, balances the books.

I chose to use this poster for the movie, rather than one featuring Affleck with a rifle that shoots air craft shells for a reason considering the dual nature of the film. The scene in the poster has been featured in the trailers in a 'meet cute' scene between Affleck and Kendrick and a pocket protector and is part of the better half of the movie.

The movie has two sides. One is about Christopher Wolff, autistic accountant to the world's global bad guys, like international drug dealers, arms merchants and insurgents, and US Treasury agent Ray King's (J. K. Simmons) attempt to find him. It's a taut drama, partially told in flashback, which helps explain Affleck's character. Thrown into the mix is actress Anna Kendrick, who as Dana Cummings, an accountant at a bioscience company, finds some accounting irregularity. Wolff, who occasionally takes a legit client as camouflage, is hired by the president and founder of the company to confirm what Cummings finds. Accounting may seem like a dull subject for a movie, but Affleck plays Wolff with such drive that even watching him mumble is exciting.  This is all played well with enough twists, in both the investigation of the company and the chase by Treasury, that the story stays interesting.

Unfortunately, the makers of this movie, apparently didn't think this story was interesting enough. So the other side of the movie is basically a first person shooter, with the dead-eyed Wolff carrying an enormous rifle capable of shooting a melon at a mile away.  And putting large holes in anything much closer.

As I get older I find gratuitous movie violence more distasteful. It was my main complaint about "The Magnificent Seven" which we saw last week. This gripe mainly only refers to movies set in realistic locales without men and women in tights flying about shooting lightening bolts from their finger tips.

Considering Wollf's clientele, some violence was probably necessary, but I think they could have lost a few hundred rounds of ammunition and focused some more on the uncomfortable budding relationship between Cummings and Wolff. I'm not a big fan of Anna Kendrick but the movie set up an interesting character for her and then gave her nothing much to do except make wise cracks ("What kind of accountant are you?!") and look cute.

The reviews for the movie seem split about 50/50 between those who thought the movie was smart and those who thought it was dumb. We liked the movie and thought Affleck was pretty good. I don't know much about autism so I can't speak anything about his portrayal as one.  It's too bad that the movie was only half-smart.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Players I collect - 2016

Continuing a series of posts of 2016 cards of Players I Collect that had cards in 2016. I'm excluding Phillies and Astros since I collect all of them. The last player was Ichiro. Next up Bo Jackson.

2016 Topps Bunt was good for a lot of former players. I have 98 Bo Jackson cards in my collection. A career cut way too short.

Yet another Topps Bunt card. Jackson started his career in 1967. I have 78 Reggie Jackson cards but the earliest cards I have for him are in the 1980s. Not surprising as I didn't start collecting until 1985.

7 years after he retired in 2009, The Big Unit still seems popular with the hobby. I have 293 cards of him, bolstered by the half season he played for the Astros in 1998. He was 10-1 with an ERA of 1.98 in 11 starts, helping the Astros into the playoffs.

I only managed to pull one Chipper Jones card this year. A sure Hall of Famer, I have 313 of his cards. The first time I ever heard of Chipper Jones was in 1990, when a guy in my fantasy baseball league drafted him for cheap. He held on to Jones for years.

That's enough for today. Next up, Bary Larkin (yep, another Topps Bunt card)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Meet Matt Bush - 30-year-old rookie

Way back in 2004, Matt Bush was the #1 Draft Pick by the Padres, as a shortstop.

He appears to have been hot stuff in high school.

He finally made it to the majors this year, as a pitcher.

With a .219 batting average and 4 home runs in 4 minor league seasons, the Padres converted him to a pitcher in 2007. After 14 games (15 innings) he was injured and required Tommy John surgery.

He came back with the Rays in 2010. He was 5-3 with the Rays AA club in 2011.

Then he served 39 months in prison due to a drunk driving incident. He ran over a 72-year-old man during spring training.

The Rangers signed him in December, 2015, apparently right out of prison. He ended up with a 7-2 record, with one save and an ERA of 2.48 for the Rangers in 2016, all as a reliever. Good deal for the Rangers.

I wish him luck.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Movie Review - The Magnificent Seven

The trailers for this make the movie seem like a light-hearted romp with beautiful western scenery. We liked it, but it was appallingly violent. I probably saw the 1960 original, but it was many years ago and remember nothing about it. Certainly the original must have had plenty of violence, it being basically about a battle between two groups of gunfighters. In this remake, the Mexican bandits of the original have been replaced by a gold mine owner who can hire a seemingly limitless supply of men willing to die for pay. I guess the mine was pretty profitable.

Bartholomew Bogue, the evil mine owner (played by Peter Sarsgaard doing a passable John Malkovich impersonation), has been terrorizing the nearby town of Rose Creek. The town folk are represented as a bunch of simple farmers, although there is not a sign of crops anywhere. I'd think that in real life, Rose Creek would be a rough and tumble mining town filled with saloons, gambling establishments and prostitutes. For reasons that are not clear, Bogue wants to buy the town and offers the town folks a deal: pay me a pittance for the land and leave, or I'll kill you all. To impress the folks that he's serious, he burns down the church and gratuitously kills a few guys.

The first half or so of the movie was the best. Emma Cullen (Halley Bennett), whose husband was killed by Bogue, takes it upon herself to buy some protection. She meets up with lawman Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) and he agrees to recruit a team to help her for whatever it was in the black bag she was carrying. Chisolm recruits a racially diverse group of seven gunman, gamblers, an Indian, and Civil War veterans (one of which seems to suffering from PTSD). As Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt) says during the process "Oh good, we got us a Mexican".

Chisolm and his recruits set about trying to train the townsfolk into something approximating a militia. They look pretty hopeless. Bogue and his men are out of town for 3 weeks giving the seven ample time to plan a defense of the town, making liberal use of the mine's dynamite and weapons.

What follows is a bloody slaughter. Between rifle and hand gun shootings, explosions, stabbings, arrows and a Gatling gun, I would estimate that 350 people get killed, mostly Bogue's hired men.

The magnificent seven guys are mostly presented as good guys, willing to die for a good cause, so you don't feel bad about cheering for them to win. It also turns out that Chisolm has reasons of his own for joining the fray.

One thing I learned from researching for this review is that the 1960 version (according to Wikipedia) is the 2nd most seen movie on TV, after "The Wizard of Oz".

Monday, October 3, 2016

Players I Collect 2016 - Part 5

Continuing a series of posts of 2016 cards of Players I Collect. The last player was Ricky Henderson. Next up, Ichiro. He was still an active player in 2016, although this is to be his last season. Since he is extremely popular in the hobby, I don't expect to have to wait too many years before post-career cards start. There will probably Ichiro cards next year. I have 218 Ichiro cards in my collection, including 12 from this year.

Perhaps my least favorite, and most pointless, set of the year.

Panini managed to produce one of my least favorite and one of my favorite sets of the year.

The Phillies were so bad last year that I missed this game.

I'm a little disappointed this set doesn't have 3,000 cards in it.

Baseball cards can be so informative. For example, I didn't know that Terry Forster wore the same uniform number as Ichiro.

12 cards is enough for one post. Next up is Bo Jackson.