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Saturday, December 5, 2009

1981 Fleer Steve Renko: A Cardboard Mystery

I present to you the mysterious Steve Renko player card from 1981, Fleer edition:

You may be asking yourself, What is that "thing" behind Steve? Here are a few possibilities:

1. What's left of the bomb that has just toppled Steve Renko. (He's falling and falling fast.)

2. That freaky smoke cloud from LOST. (Could Ben have been a Yankee fan in 1980?)

3. Evidence that Jim Rice spontaneously combusted during a game. (Then came back from the dead?)

4. Maybe it was Yastrzemski practicing for his now defunct Vegas magic act.

5. The shadow of the tree that was planted as a memorial to the Bucky "freakin" Dent baseball. (Like goal posts and Yankee monuments, trees should not be in the field of play. Neither should weird sloping hills. I'm looking at you, Houston Astros!)

6. God, in an updated burning bush, letting the Sox fans know that there time will come.

7. Rick Burleson was a shape-shifter.

8. Manny was being Manny even back in 1980.

9. Fleer was being metaphorical: When Renko pitched, Fenway became a war zone. (Steve was 9-9, average at best, but not terrible.)

10. This was the precursor to the 1989 Billy Ripken card. The rare original has Glenn Hoffman flipping the double bird right at the camera. This more common version shown here is referred to as the black smoke version. I have heard there is a version where Hoffman is behind a big black box. Other versions include a scribble and Hoffman's birds replaced by "thumbs up".

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I was recently decided against keeping ALL of my 1986 Donruss set. Many are in my "to be traded" boxes but I couldn't rid the collection of this Pat Tabler card. Donruss immortalized Mr. Tabler with his nickname, Mr.Clutch.
Tabler didn't come by his impressive moniker by chance. He hit a more than respectable .488 (43 for 88) with the bases jammed. Some might call him the Jerry West of baseball. I am just not one of them (West was also known as Mr.Clutch). Tabler currently works as a color commentator for the Toronto Blue Jays.

I can't think of any other examples of random base card additions in the 80's but I am sure there are some. (Maybe Pete Rose had one?)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dinged Corners Assignment: Favorite "On Card" Autographs

When Patricia, of Dinged Corners, assigns us bloggers some homework, we best get to it without complaining. So here are my favorite on-card autographs (of which I have very few).

#3 - 1996 Signature Rookies Torii Hunter
My mom has been on the yard/garage salecircuit for a few months now and happened upon a big box of baseball cards. She paid $10 for the lot. The cards were super fun to go through. I kept a few, my brother kept a few, and the rest will find their way to the blog world in due time. One of the gems of the box was this Torii Hunter autograph, numbered to 5000. Torii has turned out to be a pretty good player as well as an excellent Topps card poser. Thanks Mom!

#2 - 1991 Score Brian Barnes

I got this one in person at a Jimmy V fund event. Brian is from North Carolina, not too far from my hometown of Tarboro. My brother asked him if he remembered playing our high school team. He did and even remembered who the opposing pitcher was. I got cards signed by Marquis Grissom, Lee Smith, Kenny Lofton, and others that day but the interaction with Barnes was the best.

#1 - 2004 Topps Cracker Jack Lucy (Silver Ink) This remains my one and only TTM autograph. Unlike many stars who scribble their names without regard to what it looks like, I have heard that Lucy practices first so that each fan gets her best. That is how it should be.

There you have it. My 2006 Turkey Red Roy Oswalt on-card auto may be my most collectable card of this type but the previous three are my favorites. The thing they all have in common is some personal connection.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tito Fuentes (1975)

It's time for another Tito Fuentes card. If you haven't visited the newly sponsored Tito Fuentes reference page, GO THERE NOW! We are up to 1975 in our review of Fuentes' cardboard legacy. 1975 Topps is a beloved set, with it's two-tone fronts and it's miniature counterparts.What says San Francisco Giants more than PINK, YELLOW, and BLUE? Tito is a star and he knows it. He now dots his "i" with a star and he still doesn't feel the need to separate his first and last name or capitalize the "f" in Fuentes. Us regular folk can't get away with such tomfoolery. As usual, Tito appears to be cool: nice stirrups, and an ever so slightly dented cap. Did you notice that miniature Tito is every bit as cool as the regular sized Tito!

Check the Stats-on-the-Back:Here is what we learn:
1. Runners are out when they go outside the baseline. Seems to be a weak trivia tidbit. Tito would never run outside the baseline. I wonder if Donavon McNabb knew that? (Yes, I know about football, I just don't love it like baseball.)
2. Tito had a down year. He hit .249 with 0 Hrs. His 97 hits and 390 ABs were his lowest totals since 1969.
3. Tito set an National League record with only 6 errors in 1973. Jose Oquendo only had 3 errors in 1990. (Do you remember when he played every position in 1 game?)
4. Tito's .249 average seemed even smaller on the mini version of the card.

In related news, while it won't be his name when he is born, my wife and I are affectionately referring to our baby boy in the oven as Rigoberto!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Collecting 101: 1997 Collector's Choice

The 1997 Upper Deck Collector's Choice set contained a small subset of checklist cards called "Collecting 101," which featured Ken Griffey Jr. on the front and collecting tips on the back. Let's see how Upper Deck's tips hold up to 12 years of cardboard evolution:

The Junior-themed fronts:Two of the six are posed, studio shots. One shows Griffey happily autographing a card with a batting glove on and the other has Griffey cheesing it up while holding a 1997 Collector's Choice card. (I am too lazy to research which card he is holding.)

The Tips:
1. Sorting Your Cards - Sorting out your cards and putting them in numerical order can be a tedious and time-consuming task. Fortunately, all Upper Deck sets are sorted by team, so just divide the cards by team, and subsets, and put each stack into the right order, using the checklists as a guide.

*There are few sets still sorted this way. But how hard is sorting cards by 100's, then 10's, then by number. I collected many sets back in my younger days. I remember being excited when I would get long runs of numbers that I had all of, making lists of numbers that I needed, etc. Set collecting is alive and well out there in blog land.

2. Subset vs. Insert - A subset is a group of related cards included in the regular set. Inserts are themed cards not included in the regular set, but inserted into packs by pre-determined odds. One way to tell the difference: a subset card just has a number; an insert card has a letter or abbreviation with the number.

*It all seemed pretty simple back in 1997. Now there are parallels and relics out the wazoo. 1991 Fleer Provisions was the first insert set I really wanted. Diamond Kings are still my favorite subset. After all my purging over the last two years, I have never gotten rid of a diamond king!

3. Completing a Set - The regular cards of a baseball set serve as a "Time Capsule" for the sport and the backbone of the hobby. Chances are you won't get the whole set by just buying packs, so keep a network of friends and dealers with which to trade so you can complete the set.

*Middle relievers and pinch hitters struggle to be memorialized in the yearly set offerings. I am all for complete sets even though they are now way down on my collecting priority list. Remember when you could go to a card shop and finish your set for $0.05 per card? Good times!

4. Caring for Your Cards - It is very important to keep your cards in the best shape possible. So to display them, put them in clear plastic sheets and a binder. Put them in nine to a sheet, so that you can easily view both the fronts and backs without damaging them.

*I protect my cards but I am not sure why. Whatever you do, make sure you can LOOK at your collection. I still enjoy studying stats, reading bios, and trivia on the back of baseball cards.

5. Using your "Doubles" - If you've completed a set by getting packs a few at a time, you're probably left with a few duplicates. Don't just discard them. Sort them out to see if you're close to completing a second set, or trade them with friends or at a local card store to get extras of your favorite cards.

*I used to never trade a non-double. Now I give away or trade all doubles plus many cards I have one of but do not want or need. The land of blogs seems to sometimes be just a great way to traffic baseball cards to those who need a daily cardboard fix.

6. Collecting on your Own - For a great way to keep your collection interesting and more personal, try collecting for your own personal subsets. You can make sets of players with a common theme, such as former MVPs, sons of former Major Leaguers, players from your hometown, etc.

*This is the best tip and the one I abide by most as of late. I collect 1 of every Met, Tito Fuentes, 1 of every HOFer, 1 of every player on my simulation league team, a few sets, and random other things I like. Good fun!

The Checklist + Tip-filled backs:
Upper Deck did a pretty good job with their tips back in 1997. In 2009, there may be a few more tainted tips like:
1. Make sure Pujols spelled his name with a "j" or it might be a fake.
2. Try collecting cards of all players listed in the Mitchell report. For added fun, collect a before and after card for each slugger.
3. For Mets fans only: Pay way too much for a Mo Vaughn card and feel the regret of a big league team.
4. Beware of the SuperFractor, you might burn your eyes out!

Please share any tips that Upper Deck or I have missed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

BEST: Center Field

Maybe the toughest of all the positions! Positions one through three are a toss up.

1. Willie Mays
- ROY, 2 MVP, 12 top-tens, 20 All-Star games, 12 Gold Gloves, 3283 hits, 660 HR, 2000+ runs, 1900+ rbi, .302 avg, 156 OPS+. His greatness over so many years gives him the edge in my book. He was great EVERY year from age 20 to 41.
2. Mickey Mantle - 3 MVP, 9 top-tens, 16 All-Star games, 172 OPS+, 536 HR, 7 World Series rings. He and Mays were so similar. Two great players. Mantle was great from age 19 to 36. Wow!3. Ty Cobb - 1 MVP, 4189 hits, .366 avg (best all-time), .433 obp, 2246 runs, 1937 rbi, 892 SB, 167 OPS+. I can't really give a good reason Cobb isn't number 1. He definitely loses some credit for not having to play all the best ballplayers.I'd start a team with any of these three guys.

Others Considered:
Ken Griffey Jr - His 30's took a toll on his body and his career numbers. He was fun to watch and collect when I was a kid. An impressive top three keep him out of consideration.

Joe Dimaggio - Not the MVP in 1947! (Did you know that Ted Williams won the triple crown twice and finished 2nd in MVP voting BOTH years!!!) That hitting streak sure is impressive. No player has come within 10 games of topping it.

Eric Davis - In 1987, Davis hit 37 HR and stole 50 only 129 games. Jose stole his thunder one year later! Eric Davis never played more than 135 games in a season. He was great when he wasn't hurt. Oh yea, he's my favorite player ever!

Current Players Who Might Make the List:
Grady Sizemore - I keep waiting for him to explode. He's 26 and coming off of 2 surgeries. He better explode quick to get in the conversation.

The Babe and the Hammer are next up in BEST: Right Field

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

1981 Fleer Team by Team Tribute: Expos

Since I am in a hotel, NOT being paid for by my insurance company, I decided to check out my draft folder from quite a while ago (Oct 2008). I never finished my 1981 Fleer Team by Team tribute. Apparently, it's Expos time!

Rowland Office!
Rowland has a few things going for him.

1. Sweet Name: Rowland Johnie Office. Even his middle name is cool.

There is a Brave-centric blog, Rowland's Office. Clever use of a good name, but much too Brave-ish for my delicate Met sensibilities. book

2. Afrotasticness: I am pretty sure that is a word.

His Expo hat may be hiding a giant bald spot between two Afro-Puffs.
Rowland has a full-size Afro, part of which fits neatly under said Expo hat.
Either way, any Afro is alright in my .

3. Style: XL wrist bands & jacket

His nylon jacket could mean he just finished the day shift at Leon's Barber Shop or he is about to bowl a few frames at the Montreal Bowl-A-Rama. The wrist bands say he is a sweaty man's man!

The Expos finished 1 lousy game behind the World Champion Phillies in the NL East. Oh well, the Expos are now the Nats and until they put a decent team on the field, no one will care.

If you like this one, more 1981 Fleer posts can be found here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

True Confessions of a Collector

I thought I would share a few shameful tidbits about myself as a collector:

1. I am a Mets fan. (NO, THAT"S NOT THE SHAMEFUL PART!) As a Mets fan, I hate the Atlanta Braves. And I am beginning to hate the Phillies just as much. Here is where it gets shameful. Mets fan, Braves hater, thus I must also hate Chipper Jones, who ruled Shea more than any hitter. I have 52 different Chipper Jones cards.
WHY? I have always been a "general collector". I love baseball and have always used my card collection to chronicle the MLB. Chipper is a great playerand I like having great player's cards. Now, I don't go out of my way to get more Chippers but I have only recently considered trading some of them for cards of players I like more. Larry isn't the only player I could have used as an example. The same is true for any superstar for the past 20 years.

2. I have thrown away thousands of cards. I admitted this long ago and was quickly told to send them to collectors across the nation. Since the initial tossing, I have sent around 20 thousand cards to new and loving homes. I think I have made up for my transgressions for this one.WHY? I had too many cards. I had every set from 1986 to 1991. EVERY SET! I never looked at them. There were boxes and boxes of cards I didn't need or like. My card collection gets better and better as it gets smaller and smaller. I still have too many cards. Now I usually make myself get rid of a card before I allow a new card into my collection. No, I am not throwing the excess away. They will be sent out to collectors when I recover from the shipping cost of my last giveaway.

3. Here is the big one that may get me shunned from the blogging community. I sort my cards based on Beckett book value. Some cards are in individual, hard, plastics holders, others are in binders, some in penny sleeves, and others in the raw. I have never made a trade based on it, nor do I believe that it means anything but its a way to interact with my collection like I did when I was a kid.WHY? As I said before, I have always been a general collector. I have always had my favorites but I used to want to collect EVERY card. You have to sort them in some way. Now that my collection is getting more refined, I may stop this practice. But I might not. Why should you care that the B-WORD gets a little of my money every once in while?

There you have it. True confessions. Come get some Lame Hits. The last 7 posts are filled with them.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tito Fuentes (1974)


It's the card I (and possibly the Dean Family) have been waiting for. I'll save my commentary until after you are awed by the first, but not the last, headband of Tito Fuentes!After 8 years in the league, Tito is finally coming into his own. He is willing to step out from the pack and show some of his personal style.

Possible reasons for the headband:
1. Tito's hat often pops off due to his blinding speed and large afro hairstyle.
2. Men just don't have enough accessories. The ladies have purses, jewelry, shoes, etc and no team would allow cuff links on uniforms, except maybe the Chicago White Sox. (They will wear anything!)
3. Fuentes sweats a LOT, through a headband, his hat, and then his hat's headband.
4. He is cool and isn't interested in explaining it to losers like you and me.

Stats on the Back!New stuff we learn from the flip side of Tito 1974:
1. Midwest League All-Star and Decatur's MVP in 1963. (This tidbit is only 10 years late.)
2. Dominican records for hits (5) and doubles (3) in a game in 1967. (Slightly less late.)
3. Yet another solid effort at the plate in 1973.
4. High School letter in Boxing. (Another sign of his toughness.)
5. This isn't new but I keep forgetting to add it. Tito Fuentes signs his name Titofuentes. One word, no space, no capital F. How's that for style?

With the 1974 Topps card, I hope you can begin to see why I am a Tito Fuentes Super Fan!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Tito Fuentes (1973)

In 1973, Tito Fuentes cards begin to get EPIC. '73 is famous for it's fake poses and super-wide angle action shots that feature 3 to 5 players, anyone of whom could be the player whose name appears on the card. Here is the front of card #236:

That's Tito, number 23, with his knee in in that poor guy's chest. He stole a career-high 16 bases in 1972. With this kind of intimidation, he probably could have stolen a lot more.


Here's the new stuff we learned about Tito Fuentes:
1. Fans holler "Go-Go" when Tito reaches base. (I didn't think anybody hollered in San Francisco. I thought it was just a southern thing.)
2. Another solid season for the 2nd baseman: .264 avg, 7 HR, 53 rbi
3. The full name is back after a 2 year hiatus, Rigoberto (Peat) Fuentes!

1974 is not too far away and it's a killer!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

BEST: Left Field

Left Field is a strong position in the best ever debate. The top 3 are baseball immortals as are many who didn't make the cut. Here's my list:

3. Stan Musial "The Man", 3 MVPs, 14 top-tens, 20 straight All-Star teams, 159 OPS+, 3630 hits, 7 batting titles, 3 World Series rings (missed 1945 season becuase of WWII) These next 2 guys must be pretty great to pass Musial.

2. Barry Bonds 7 MVPs, 13 top-teams, 8 Gold Gloves, 182 OPS+, 762 HRs - Best All-Time, 2558 BB - Best All-Time, even has 514 SBs, had a .609 OBP in 1999. (missed most of 2005, but he's no war hero!) Not sure if he'll ever be an HOFer, but he earned it even before his hat size grew.

1. Ted Williams "The Splendid Splinter", 2 MVPs, 12 top-tens, 17 All-Star teams, 191 OPS+, 521 HRs, 6 batting titles, .482 career OBP - Best All-Time. 2 Triple Crowns (missed 1943, 1944, AND 1945 seasons) I thought Bonds would go here, but the three years Williams missed in his PRIME push him over the top.

Others who were considered:

Yaz - 1 MVP, 129 OPS+, 6 Gold Gloves, 18 All-Star Games, Triple Crown

Willie Stargell - 1 MVP, 147 OPS+

Joe Jackson - .356 Avg, .423 OBP, 170 OPS+

Rickey Henderson - 3055 hits, 2295 Runs (Best All-Time), 1406 SB (Best All-Time), 127 OPS+, Best Lead-Off Hitter ever!

Monte Irvin - Hard to say, didn't get his shot in MLB until he was 30

Tim Raines - underrated because of playing with Rickey

Manny Ramirez - 8 straight top-tens in MVP voting, 500+ HR, will get to 3000 hits, 155 OPS+

Current players who have a chance to make the list:

Ryan Braun - now that he has a position (his tenure at 3rd base was awful), Braun has had an excellent first three years of a career, will hit 30+ HR in his first 3 years, 142 OPS+, ROY, 2 All-Star teams, some MVP-voting love. Time will tell.

Those of you jonesing for some Tito. TOMORROW!!!

Friday, July 31, 2009

BEST: 3rd Base

The hot corner stirs some debate. Brooks Robinson is the best defensive 3rd baseman of all time, but does that get him in the top 3? No one mentioned Bill Mazeroski when debating 2nd Base! Here's my list:

3. Chipper JonesIt was either Chipper or Mathews. You can't have 2 braves in the top 3. 1 MVP, 6 Top-Tens, led the Braves to the playoffs from '95 to '05, lifetime .310/.407/.545, 421 HR, 145 OPS+, hit so well in Shea that he named his kid after the stadium. Larry has had a great career.

2. George Brett13 straight All-Star teams, 1 MVP, 3000+ hits, .309 lifetime average, 135 OPS+, hitting .390 in 1980, Only 1 Ring but he hit .337 in the postseason, and he used a healthy amount of pine tar.

1. Mike Schmidt3 MVPs, 9 top tens, 10 Gold Gloves, 548 HR, 1500+ RBI, 1 Ring. He's Brooks Robinson Lite in the field AND Mickey Mantle with the bat. Choosing Schmidt at number 1 was possibly the easiest choice so far.

Others considered:
Wade Boggs: 12 straight All-Star teams, 3000+ hits, lifetime .328 avg and .418 obp, 130 OPS+, batted over .350 five times, 1 Ring (oddly enough, it was as a Yankee)

Eddie Mathews: 143 OPS+, 512 HR

Brooks Robinson: 15 straight All-Star teams, 16 straight Gold Gloves, 1 MVP & 7 top-10 MVPs, 2 Rings. With the bat, he was essentially Rusty Staub (who was better than you might think) You can't hit .267/.322/.401 and be the best ever! Bill James rates Ron Santo ahead of Brooks Robinson.

Current players who could be in the conversation:
David Wright: He's 26, has 4 All-Star games, 3 top-tens in MVP, 2 questionable Gold Gloves. He's the face of the Mets. Too bad Citi Field has sucked all his power away.

Evan Longoria: He's 23, ROY, 2 All-Star teams, the sky is the limit

Alex Rodriguez: When he has played more games at the hot corner than at short, he'll go up in the ranks for sure.

It's on the the outfield next. But not before a little more Tito love!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

BEST: Shortstop

Shortstop is an interesting position. In little league, its where all the best players play (while they are not pitching or occasionally roaming center field). And for a while, it was where weak bats with outstanding gloves played. And then there was ARod/Jeter/Garciaparra. With a few exceptions, SS has once again become a light hitting position in the big leagues. Here are my picks for the best Shortstops in history:

3. Cal RipkenRipken broke the light-hitting shortstop mold of the 70's. He could hit. And was underrated as a fielder. He threw the ball so effortlessly to first. He went to 19 straight All-Star games, won 2 MVPs, and ROY. He hit 431 HRs and had over 3000 hits. And there was the games played streak. Not bad for a the number three spot.

2. Alex RodriguezYou might call foul on this one for a variety of reasons. He has played more games at SS than at 3rd base. He also won 2 Gold Gloves for the two seasons prior to coming to the Yankees. He should be playing shortsop right now instead of that Jeter guy. He has won 3 MVPs, 9 top 10's in MVP voting, and 12 All-Star selections. He has a career OPS+ of 147 and 570 HR and counting. I hate that he did steroids but I can't leave him off my list because of it. I may have sub-consciously dropped him from the top spot because of them (or it may have been all those games at 3rd base). I figure he will be the most controversial pick.

1. Honus Wagner
To many collectors, Wagner is simply the face on the most famous sports card ever. He was a great player. He batted .327, with a .391 OBP, and an OPS+ of 150 for his career. He did play in the teens, but he ranks in the top 10 in career hits, doubles, triples, and stolen bases. Rodriguez is hot on his heels for the top spot but maybe not as a shortstop. Wagner was too good to be ignored.

Others in the conversation:

Cap'n Jeter
- Jeter is a fantastic player. He will certainly reach 3000 hits, all in pinstripes. His 4 rings and .304 postseason average will take him straight to Cooperstown. But he is not the best shortstop on his own team. Sorry Yankee fans.

Arky Vaughn
- Second best shortstop of his era behind Honus Wagner.


Hanley Ramirez - He's the only current SS that can even be considered. He is 25 and has won a ROY and followed it with 2 outstanding seasons. He is playing even better this year. His average is up, strikeouts are down, and his power numbers are holding steady. Too bad he is stuck in Florida. Ramirez doesn't get the credit he deserves. I don't think he'll be top-three all-time but you never know. He certainly has the potential.

As usual, what do you think?


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tito Fuentes (1972) x2

Send your address if you requested cards in the giveaway!!!

I know that ALL of you have been anxiously awaiting the next Tito Fuentes post and here it is. This time you are lucky enough to get double the Tito, thanks to the In Action cards featured in 1972 Topps. We'll start with the regular card #427:1972 Topps is as 7o's a design as you can get. GIANTS explodes from the top of the card, along with a few stars. The colored borders are almost psychodelic. Tito is wearing a collared, warm-up jacket under his uniform. Wonder why no one wears these anymore? I think I could probably come up with a few reasons. He is posing as a lefthanded batter. (He is a switch-hitting right-hander. Solid fake posing from Mr.Fuentes.

Tito was featured on card #428 as well:
This card deserves the a Dinged Corners' special rating. Tito is mid-air. He has just jumped over or fell over an opposing runner. There is a whole section of relaxed fans in the stands.

Here's what we learn:
1.Fuentes had an excellent 1971 season in San Francisco. 172 hits, a 273 avg, and 28 doubles.
2. Minor league stats back to 1962. He started playing pro ball at age 18. I'm still impresses by his epic 1965 season in Tacoma.
3. A "duster" is a pitch thrown at a batter's head. This fun factoid is accompanied by a cartoon of a ballplayer actually dusting with a feather duster. How clever!

More fun Tito facts on the back of the In Action card?What? This is OUTRAGEOUS! Rick Wise info polluting the sacred card back of hero Tito Fuentes. We do learn that Wise threw a no-no while blasting not one, but two homeruns to help himself. The odd thing is that Wise has his own IA card in 1972 Topps. The IA backs contained season highlights, league leaders, and puzzle pieces. As possibly the only Tito Fuentes collector, the lack of new Titonean knowledge is more than a little disappointing. Kudos to Rick for his impressive 1971 highlight. Boo Topps for the slight to Mr.Fuentes.

Stay tuned for more Tito Fuentes! AND SEND ME YOUR ADDRESS. 19 packages shipped today!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

BEST: 2nd Base

Continuing my series of posts on the best of all time...

2nd Base is tough. It's so tough to compare across eras, but that is the fun of it. Here's my list:

#3 - Rogers Hornsby - many may argue that he should be number 1 and maybe he should. He played 23 seasons, 10 of which were freakishly good. But he played in the teens. 175 UPS+. Bring on the arguments!
#2 - Joe Morgan - 2 MVPs, 5 straight top 1os. He did everything well, he hit for power, stole over 40 bases 9 times, .392 lifetime OBP. Don't hold his color commentary or his EGO against him when judging his playing career.
#1 - Jackie Robinson - didn't play in the Bigs until he was 28, ROY his first year, top 15 in MVP voting from ages 28 to 34. He was outstanding despite the crap he had to endure. His early and mid 20s would have produced some pretty special career numbers.
Others I considered:
Naploean Lojoie - played in the 1800's.
Craig Biggio - great and versatile player, played outfield and catcher, too many average years trying to get to 3000 hits.
Roberto Alomar - like Biggio, played a little too long, was never great after the spitting incident.
Eddie Collins - played too early but was really good for a lot of years.

Today's players who may one day make the list:
Chase Utley - he got a late start to his career. He is already 30 and would need 8-10 more years of what he has done the past few.
Dustin Pedroia - he'll never rack up crazy numbers but he plays the game tough. The hardware is piling up already: World Series Ring, ROY, MVP, All-Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger. Quite impressive for a pint-sized runt.

What do you think?

Friday, June 19, 2009


Wandy is COOLER than you for many reasons. Here are a few:

1. His name is Wandy. It's his real first name, not a nickname.
2. He is not bounded by the playing field. He'll even pitch in the stands.
3. Even though his first name is as sweet as they come, he doesn't feel the need to sign it.
4. Nor does he care to include the RIG in his last name.
5. Chuck Norris calls him "Mr. Rodguez".

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ultimate Night Card???

Hey Night Owl, is this the ultimate night card?It looks like they put the card number on the MOON.

I am pretty sure Buice was part owner of Upper Deck back when they started. I vaguely remember seeing Upper Deck samples of Buice and other Angels at a card show in 1989. I assume this shot came from a promotional photo shoot before the initial Upper Deck release.

Buice pitched for 3 seasons. His best was easily his rookie year when he saved 17 games.
The design of 1989 Upper Deck holds up well even today. The same cannot be said for Buice's polyester uni or his crazy stache.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tito Fuentes (1971)

While my newsworthy early break of 2009 Topps Series brought in the readers, I can't resist blogging about Tito. Here is the 1971 installment of Fuentes on cardboard:

Still bunted AND still unhappy about it. His position is listed as INFIELD. Tito played 2B, SS and 3B in 1970 with at least 24 games at each position.

1. 1971 Topps has lame backs. No cartoon,a dark B%W photo, weak player info, and only 2 lines of stats. TWO LINES OF STATS. It almost makes me cry, but Tito would not like that.
2. Switch Hitter. Should have found that info in 1970 but the there was so much ststy goodness on that card. FYI - His 1967 card listed him as a right-handed batter only. Not sure when he started hitting from both sides.
3. I got nothing else for you.

1972 promises to be a step up for one reason, Double the Tito!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tito Fuentes (1970)

Tito's 1967 line of.209/.266/.294 did not impress the Giants or Topps. Fuentes did not appear in a big league game in 1968, thus no card in 1969 either. He found his way back to the Giants in 1969. Here's his 1970 Topps card #42:
He's bunting but he's not that into it. Maybe it's payback on Topps for leaving him out in 1968. Also notice that he has moved from the middle of the infield to the HOT corner.

And now flip to the STATS-ON-THE-BACK:Here is the new info we now know:
1. Second last name: Peat?
2. Lettered in baseball, basketball, and Boxing. What high school has varsity boxing?
3. Anoher Hobby: Ping Pong. While not coaching little league, Tito plays table tennis. Multi-talented! Don't you think it's unfair that Athletes are so often gifted in multiple sports. Yes, Ping Pong is a sport.
4. Tito earned his roster spot back with some nice stats in Phoenix. He didn't play much so maybe he was actually injured.

1971 Topps comin' at you, NEXT!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tito Fuentes (1967)

More Tito so soon? Si!!!

Here is Tito's 1967 Topps card commemorating his first full season in the majors:
Fuentes finished third in the ROY voting behind Tommy Helms and Sonny Jackson in 1966.
Since lame catcher Bob Barton is not cluttering up the card, maybe we can find out some nuggets from the STATS-ON-THE-BACK:1. Born in 1944. That would make him 65, qualifying him for discount coffee everywhere!
2. Led the Giants in SB. Since Tito only had 6, it means San Fran was frightfully slow on the base paths. One might choose the term Boog-esque.
3. Kid friendly. He managed a little league team. The cartoon depicts Tito yelling at a scared child. Other cartoon pictures Tito holding a firearm. Topps cartoonists seem unfond of young Fuentes.
4. May have juiced in 1965. Over a 200% increase in HR from the previous year? Kidding!
5. Good Power ... for a man of his size? 5'11'' 175 9 HRs. Sounds about right.

Don't get your hopes up for 1968 and 1969 Topps cards. We'll catch up with Tito in the groovy 70's!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tito Fuentes (1966)

At long last, I thought I would share some TITO!

I am now a true Tito Fuentes super-collector. I check ebay at least twice a week to see if any cool Tito paraphernalia is for sale. I got the RC quite a while back.
Tito is featured with catcher Bob Barton. Fuentes is still very young and isn't ready to show off the flair that later characterizes his cardboardian images.
Here's what we find out about the mysterious young Tito Fuentes from his STATS-ON-THE-BACK!
1. Middle-Infielder. SS-2B
2. Considerable Pop. 20 homers in Tacoma last year (1965).
3. Future Legend. It does say Rookie Star. 302 average last year? Ok, maybe decent prospect.

Come back for some '67 vintage Tito!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Utley Steals Second" Evokes "Luis Swipes Base"

I have bought a few packs of 2009 Heritage. I like them more than previous year's Heritage sets because they decided not to distort the images quite so much. This one in particular caught my eye:I instantly thought of my one and only 1960 Topps card, elegantly creased through the middle:
Maybe Utley should have swiped his rather than simply stealing it, but I won't be too picky. The odd, overlapping League logos adds to the authentic flavor of this card. Despite my increasing distaste for the Phils (not yet to Bravian proportions), Topps did a great job with this one.

Even the backs are spot on:

I'll have some 2009 MLB predictions up soon. There is no way I am picking my Mets. I am more than a little superstitious about such things!