Monday, March 31, 2008

OPENING DAY!

My brother has taken Opening Day off of work for the past 5 years. I am a public school teacher so I have never been able to enjoy afternoon baseball on this hallowed day. The planets have aligned this year, or maybe it was the MLB and Durham Public Schools calendars, so I was able to partake in the festivities.

The day got off to a shaky start when the Yankees/Blue Jays game was
rained out. The Royals and Tigers provided a decent replacement. My brother is still angry with Tim Welke, the home plate umpire, who punched out Alex Gordon twice on balls way outside the strike zone. Gordon is on his fantasy team. Its crazy how important the first day of the season seems for fantasy baseball. You watch the ticker excitedly, reading off the day's HR's. By mid-year, our friend David will have wrapped up the championship for the 5th time in 8 years and none of it will matter.

We watched a little Cubs/Brewers and Mets/Marlins. Woods imploded so Marmol (my fantasy team) should be the closer sooner than later. Shields, for Tampa, and Escobar, for Atlanta, (both on my team) each played well.

My Mets rolled against the sad Florida Marlins. Johan pitched 7 nice innings (worth every penny so far) and David Wright (real 2007 MVP) doubled in 3 runs. Every game counts when the Braves seem to be the new "team to beat". Even the Mets more questionable outfielders, Pagan and Church (I know its pronounced Puh-gon, but come on, Pagan and Church is just too good a combo. Heck, his name is Angel Pagan!) got in on the act with a few hits, runs, and rbi.



I ended up staying up way too late when those Braves wouldn't go away. They made up a 5-run deficit in the ninth and threatened to erase the Pirates 3-run lead in the 12th. Ex-Met Xavier Nady was the Player of the Day. Two HRs including one of the 3-run game-winning variety in the 12th inning. Obviously Johan picks up the Pitcher of the Day hardware.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

New Banner!

I would like to thank ex-MLB catcher, Jack Hiatt, and my wife, Nancy, for my hype new blog banner.

Jack's 1973 Topps card #402 provided the inspiration. Jack was a league average catcher for 9 seasons in the majors and went on to manage quite a few minor league clubs. While Steve Arlin was filling cavities, Jack was collecting baseball cards!

My wife's crazy photoshop skills transformed Jack's card into blog banner genius. (I helped.)

She has her own blog about her obsession, I mean passion, for making lists. It's called List Therapy. It's not about baseball or baseball cards, but that's ok. Check it out anyway.

National Baseball Card Day

I enjoy the free baseball cards! I got the free pack at my local comic book shop. They sell very few cards but advertised these along with a sale on comics. Here is one of each of the designs plus the 2 (1:3) Rookies I received.

Topps used the exact same card design as their 08 release but Upper Deck changed it up a bit. They added some color to the bottom and the team and player names are in gold foil. Upper Deck displays the National Baseball Card Day logo as if they care while Topps makes it as small as possible. I guess there wasn't enough room next to that Topps tag.

I got the Barton and Hu rookies. It is hard to say which rookie is "the one to own", probably Buchholz. Too bad Jay Bruce and Evan Longoria were not included. Maybe the big two knew they would both start the year in the minors.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Ozzie Guillen is laughing at us.

Behind that leather glove of his, Ozzie is laughing at us all.

Why?

It could be for any number of reasons:

1. Because Magglio is gonna catch a lot of heat because of the new Canseco book.

2. Ozzie has a contract that lasts until 2012 and despite what he tells you, he'll keep the cash.

3. Boone Logan is crying because Ozzie yelled at him and called him a name.

4. Ozzie just told Bobby Jenks to bean JD Drew just for fun. (That does sound like fun!)

Any other reasons Ozzie is secretly amused?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Draft Day Heartbreak and the Horror That Followed

I have mentioned several times on this very blog that I play in a simulation baseball league. There are 20 teams, eight currently managed by humans. We meet every monday night and play a weeks worth of games. My team is filled with sluggers and on-base guys: David Wright, Miguel Cabrera, Mark Teixeira, Lance Berkman, Joe Mauer, BJ Upton, and Carlos Lee. My team has hit and hit well for the last 8 years. But my defense and pitching have left a lot to be desired. This year the staff is looking pretty good with Beckett, Oswalt, and Shields leading the way. I really wanted to beef up the defense, especially up the middle. Since my team was mired near the bottom of the standings all year, I was going to have a pretty sweet pick, #5!

I had my heart set on Troy Tulowitzki. He would be the perfect fit. One team ahead of me needed a shortstop but they needed pitching worse. Lincecum and Gallardo were available! Tulowitzki was picked #4. My whole draft and thus my season rested on adding "Tulo" to my Oakland A's. My draft was in disarray from the start. Should I choose a starter to add to my arsenal of arms or should I default to adding another masher with little to no glove like Braun or Pence. After wrestling with all the options, I did the unthinkable...



I drafted Kelly Johnson of the Atlanta Braves! Obviously I was not thinking clearly to make such a choice. Last year I drafted Bob Wickman and he made me pay for it all year long. As further evidence that I was too distraught over my draft day loss of Tulowitzki, I did it again!

I drafted another Brave, Yunel Escobar! Fear not Patricia and Lucy , Mets Guy in Michigan, and NYBBNUT, I am recovering and have drafted no Braves since. I attempted to make up for my transgressions by drafting Ramon Castro as my backup catcher and a lackluster Mike Pelfrey in the later rounds.

The Oakland A's should be a force this year and will hopefully bring home my first AL West division title in 4 seasons. I'm sure I'll keep you updated whether you want me to or not.

GO METS! Despite this chilling tale of draft day woe, I mean that with all of my heart.

OLD DIAMOND MIND BASEBALL SITE with better info!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Catastrophe on Cardboard: Jeff Reardon

Here's another edition of Catastrophe on Cardboard, Jeff Reardon style.

1. From looking at Reardon's uniform, you can tell he played for the Newtreal Mexpos in 1981. Donruss just painted his hat a flat blue to cover up the Mets logo.

2. Reardon later went with the full beard since the hair was obviously taking over his face. Awful photo. Jeff looks angry. I think he might be growling! The card scanned with a red tint because he smells blood. (It's Atlanta Braves blood.)

3. The 1982 design featured a Wiffle Ball Bat with a ball (sans classic wiffle ball holes). The team name font is extra nice. No team logo would appear on Donruss cards until 1985. Now that I think about it, team logos rarely show up on cards anymore. Donruss liked the design so much, they repeated it in 1983, exchanging the ball with a glove with a more awesome font.

4. Reardon pitched for the Mets in 1981, then was traded to the Expos, along with Dan Norman, for Ellis Valentine. Lets examine that trade, as it will make this an even worse card, me being a Mets fan. I will use Bill James' Win Shares to see who got the better end of the deal.

Mets give: Dan Norman - 1 Win Share in 1982 for the Expos. It would be his last year in the bigs. Jeff Reardon from half of 1981 to 1986 would earn 7, 18 , 10 , 12 , 13, and 11 Win Shares for a total of 71. That is 72 win shares wich means that Dan and Jeff contributed around 72/3 or 24 Wins to the Expos. They then dealt Reardon to Minnesota for Neal Heaton and others.

Mets get: Ellis Valentine - Earned 1 Win Share in half of 1981 and 7 in 1982. 8/3 equals about 3 Wins for the Mets. Valentine was then released by the Mets.

The Mets lost this trade by a at least 21 Wins. Read James' Win Shares book if you love statistics or look here for a quick explanation.

Bad card, Worse trade. GO METS!

Catastrophe Bonus: 1971 Topps John Cumberland.

He played for the Yankees and Giants in 1970. His hat is blank, just like Reardon's, but it is also mashed in on the side. He seems angry too!


Topps smacked a way-too-big Giants logo on his hat on the back. Cumberland batted .099 and slugged .099 for his career which means all 9 of his hits were singles. He did manage to touch home plate once.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

State of the Collection Address

My fairly recent entry into baseball card blogging has re-energized the collector in me. But looking for the big hit just isn't for me. Don't get me wrong, I was super excited when I pulled a Roy Oswalt Autograph, numbered to 50, mainly because he has been on my simulation baseball team team for the last 6 years.
I have always been a regular collector of cards. I collected sets when I was a kid. I bought complete sets and an occasional single card or pack. Lately I buy random packs from Target or a box off ebay. My cards are stored in boxes, by set or by player name. Cards valued by Beckett at $5 or more are in top-loaders and those over $1 are in penny sleeves. Pre-Eighties $1 cards are in a binder.

Recently I decided to downsize my collection. I think I had every major set made from 1986 to 1990. I realized I didn't care about having most of the cards in these sets. I enjoyed the process of collecting them but didn't need to keep them just for the memories. Please don't shriek in horror or turn your nose up in disgust, I threw many of them away. I thought there was nobody who wanted them. I have since regretted my decision, but only because I now know that there are current collectors trying to complete those sets.

Truth be told, my collection is better now. I enjoy them more because I have more of them in places where I will actually look at them. And they take up less space. I have even decided to go back through my many now non-set cards from the 80's and 90's and downsize some more. Do I need 50 Roberto Alomar cards? Because my collection lacked any focus for so long, I have large amounts of "common cards" of everybody.

I used to only trade doubles. Now I am just beginning to realize that I can make my own collection better while helping other collectors improve theirs. I am not trading my 1990 Score black-and-white Bo Jackson card but I might have a few others that someone would really enjoy.
My recent trades, for mostly Mets cards, have inspired me to have a current collecting focus. I don't want every Mets card ever produced, just one card of every player who has ever been a Met. I have been sorting my cards, pulling Mets players, and filling up binder pages. I prefer my Mets in Mets uniforms but I am not being that picky just yet. I need far too many of those pesky 1960's versions to worry about what uniform Dan Wheeler is sporting. This new focus has made pack ripping more of a thrill. I didn't pull an autographed refractor but I did get a Brian Bannister. The bonus: Mets uni, not Royals!!! I will post a list of Mets needs in the coming months. I will also try to share more about what my collection is like so that you might request certain items when deciding to send that Choo Coleman Met card that you think I would enjoy more than you. Happy Collecting!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

89 Topps vs. 89 Topps: This Time It's Personal!

I believe that all sequels should have that title!

The second '89 Topps cello pack battle pits Berenguers Boys up against Lind's Ladies. I decide who wins based on no criteria.
Card 1: J.Berenguer v. J.Lind – Lind wins on account of his teeny-tiny glove.

Card 2: P.Bradley v. T.Steinbach – Steinbach was on my fantasy team back when I had to calculate my own stats from box scores from The Sporting News.

Card 3: R.Raines v. F.Bannister – Yea, the R is for Rock. Tim must have asked Topps to do this. You should be a Hall-of-Famer but I hope your plaque says Tim.

Card 4: T.Frohwirth v. M.Stubing(Mgr) – Stubing managed 8 games in 1988 and lost them all. He deserves to win something!

Card 5: J.Kruk v. R.Murphy: I love Krukers on Baseball Tonight. I think he knows he says crazy things. Also, he was a pretty good hitter. Do you think it's OK that I called him Krukers?

Card 6: R.Craig(Mgr) v. F.White – Craig won 10 games for the really bad 1962 Mets.

Card 7: G.Bell v. J.Robinson – G.Bell was a classic late-80s slugger. He hit 47 homeruns in 1987. McGwire and Dawson hit 49 that year.

Card 8: C.Washington v. J.Cecena – Claudell may have been my favorite Brave. But he played for the Mets first.

Card 9: R.Bush v. C.Crim – Randy Bush won two World Series with the Twins in 1987 and 1991.

Card 10: J.Youngblood v. P.Tabler – Youngblood got a hit for the Mets and Expos on the same day. Both against HOFers. How cool is that?

After 10 cards, Berenguer’s Boys are up 7 to 3 over Lind’s Ladies.

Card 11: J.Moyer v. H.Cotto – Jaime Moyer has won 230 games. That is a lot of games.

Card 12: J.Traber v. D.Martinez – El Presidente won 245 games. That is more than 230!

Card 13: B.Smith v. D.Henderson – Bryn Smith used to be the reason his 1982 Topps RC was worth $1. Now Terry Francona is the reason it is worth $5.

Card 14: C.Ford v. M.Tettleton – Tettleton was the best hitting catcher in the league for about 5 years.

Card 15: A. Nipper v. C.Ford – Yes, it is the same Curt Ford card from the previous match-up. It startled me more than it should have. Ford wins!

Card 16: G.Gross v. A.Nipper – Yes, it is the same Al Nipper card from the previous match-up. Greg Gross still wins because I always thought he and Glen Wilson were really the same person.

Card 17: W.Fraser v. G.Gross – Yes, it is the same Greg Gross card from the previous match-up. Fraser wins because I’m irritated and he will probably lose in the next round.

Card 18: E.Hearn v. W.Fraser – This sucks. Ed would have won anyway because he is in a super-goofy catcher pose and he was a Met in 1986.
Card 19: M.Thurmond v. E.Hearn – Ugh. Ed still wins.

Card 20: D.Edwards(Mgr) v. M.Thurmond – I hate everything. No winner!

It is interesting but it makes my picks less interesting, even to me. Many have discussed collation issues about newer packs and boxes but this is ridiculous. It is a good thing I am not completing this set. I will continue. I am not peeking at the rest of the cards. The score is now Boys 12, Ladies 7.

Card 21: A.Pena v. D.Edwards – No winner!

Card 22: J.Blauser v. A.Pena – Pena played for the Mets and is not named Blauser.

Card 23: K.Williams v. J.Blauser – No winner!

Card 24: I.Sanchez v. K.Williams – No winner!

Card 25: G.Cadaret v. I.Sanchez – No winner!

Card 26: T.Trebelhorn v. G.Cadaret – No winner!

Card 27: R.Ventura(Draft) v. B.Anderson – The double-fest is over! Ventura, future Met and Oklahoma State God beats out cheating, oil-painted hat wearing punks.

Card 28: B.Bonilla(AS) v. M.Greenwell(AS) – Bonilla was a Met but never belonged.

Card 29: T.Teufel v. W. Tejada – Teufel. Easy choice.

Card 30: H.Pena v. Checklist – At least the checklist has the names of good players. Harsh choice. Sorry Hipolito!

Thankfully we got out of our double rut. In ran for 12 cards, which is a multiple of 3. And so is 39, the number of cards in a pack. With 9 cards to go, the Boys 14, Ladies 10. Lind’s Ladies need a miracle.

Card 31: JOE Magrane v. JOE Hesketh – Hesketh won 60 games, 3 more than Magrane. I would not have thought that since Joe M won 18 in 1989.

Card 32: J.McKeon(Mgr) v. S.Bailes – McKeon won the World Series with a Florida team that only won 75 regular season games.

Card 33: P.Guerrero v. J.Tudor – Great 80s match-up. I consulted Baseball-Reference’s HOF monitor. (100 is a likely HOFer) Guerrero 53.5, Tudor 37.

Card 34: J.Franco(AS) v. Orioles(TL) – Julio has 1 billion hits if you include the years he played in Mexico and other leagues. And he is still playing.

Card 35: M.Davidson v. D.Cox – Danny Cox was decent for a number of years and I do not remember Mark Davidson.

Card 36: A.Dawson(AS) v. S.Anderson(Mgr) – Sparky is in the Hall and Dawson is not. But should he be? I lean towards no.

Card 37: T.Lasorda(Mgr) v. M.Witt – Do you remember when the Silver Spoons kid tried to collect every Tommy Lasorda card to drive up the value. Awesome!

Card 38: A.Hawkins v. M.Campbell – Hawkins lost a no-hitter by 4 runs, Why shouldn’t he lose here too?

Card 39: R.Johnson v. D.Winfield – Tough call. Randy’s card is a RC and he will be a HOFer.

Card 40? Berenguer’s pack had an extra card. It’s a Met!!! Kevin McReynolds steals 21 straight bases without being caught. I just don’t think the catchers were trying.
Topps Company Store Cards: Topps Card Album v. Topps Sweatshirt – You can't put all these sweet 1989 Topps cards in a sweatshirt.

Berenguer’s Boys 22, Lind’s Ladies 14

That does it for my stash of 89 Topps. If anyone needs wax boxes of 1988 Donruss, let me know. I could do pack battles for life with what I have.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

W-W-W-W-Willie and the Mets

There has been quite a few "I hate the Mets" sentiments across several of the card sites as of late. Dayf at "Braves Junk" makes comments all the time. I guess not getting that 15th division title in a row really stings. And Joe at "RedsRBetterThanMets Cards" seems to be piling it on my Mets as well.
In response, I bust out the big guns:

And by big guns, I mean the serious biceps of a 41 year-old Willie Mays. He played for a year and a half for the Mets and made the All-Star team in 1973.

Speaking of Hall-of-Famers who ended up with the Mets: Duke Snider played for them in 1963 and made an All-Star team. Richie Ashburn played in 1962 and also made an All-Star team. One might argue that these aging players were just fan favorites or were the best players on bad Mets teams...

But Warren Spahn also played for the Mets late in his career, in 1965, but was not an All Star. I blame it on his inherit Braveness. (Yogi Berra also played for the Mets in 1965 and was not an All Star but he only played 4 games. Warren played 20 before pitching 16 more for San Francisco)

17 days until my simulation league draft (I need Tulowitzki) and 20 days until MLB Opening Day (in Japan?) I am looking forward to see how this blog thing will go during an actual baseball season!

Monday, March 3, 2008

To Buy or Not to Buy?

I don't have a lot of cash to buy baseball cards, so I need to plan out what I will buy this year.

I know I will buy:
1. 2008 Topps Trading Card History Set - Already bought it. It is super cool and it will keep me from buying regular packs of Topps and Upper Deck. (May have to buy more for series 2)
2. Hobby box of 2008 Topps Turkey Red - Assuming they make the set again. I think it is a great looking set and you can complete the base, no sp, set in one box and get some pretty cool extras as well.
3. 2008 UD Masterpieces Set - I plan to buy the base set this year. No need to worry about parallels or inserts in this one. (Upper Deck, please don't mess this one up.)
4. ???

Here is where you can help me. I really like the Topps Heritage cards this year. Should I go for the hobby box?

I know a lot of you go nuts over the A & G. I like the set but may just go for singles this year. The blasters at Target are awfully tempting!

Or is there something else that I should try this year? If I am going to limit myself to just one more item on the list, what should it be? Thanks for your help.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Say What???

The name of the site is Stats on the Back because of how much time I spent of my youth reading the backs of cards. I am pretty sure that my love of math came from all the statistics. That being said, I haven't really mentioned the backs of cards here on the site.

That all changes today. I present you with 1973 Topps Steve Arlin.
Why does this Padres uni look so bad here but when Jake Peavy wears it on Turn Back the Clock Day it is awesome?

Steve looks like a nice guy, who has spent two straight full seasons with the big club but might be unsure of what to really do with his life. A flip of the card tells you that his father announced the first broadcasted game in 1921. The picture at the top tells us even more: Is Steve kidding me? My first question is: Who does volunteer dentistry work (other than Steve of course)? My second and more important question is: Who lets volunteers do dentistry work on them?
A quick internet search tells me that Arlin did become a dentist after his career ended in 1974. I also found that he holds College World Series single-game records for striking out 20 batters in 15 innings. He led his team to 2 CWS, including a national championship for the Buckeyes in 1967.