Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Featured card:
2006 Topps Allen & Ginter Casey Kotchman through the mail autograph - as an Angels’ fan, I’ve really been impressed by the way you play defense.

Whether it is tracking down pop flies in foul territory or snatching errant throws from infielders or deftly catching line drives hit towards your way - you have basically evolved as the quarterback of the Angels’ infield.

I enjoy watching you best as a defender, when you field a batted ball towards first base. You have the quickest feet, racing the base runner who running down the line, to see who is going to get to the bag first. You seem to take some pride in being able to call off the pitcher running over to cover the bag.

Besides your defensive prowess, you have the ability to do a little bit of everything at the plate. You have shown the ability hit the ball for a little power and average, but also maintaining good plate discipline and bat control.

Hopefully, you can build upon the promise you’ve shown and get an opportunity to pursue your championship dreams with one of the best organizations in baseball.



PS: This is most of the actual letter I wrote to Kotchman for a TTM autograph request two weeks ago - he and minor leaguer Stephen Marek was traded to the Atlanta Braves on July 29 for slugger Mark Teixeira.

The LAA Angels are going for it right now and even if Teixeira is a three-month rental at best - they have Kendry Morales stuck in AAA to play first base in 2009. Losing Kotchman is a bummer, but it seemed to make the most sense to add another legitimate power threat, in order to be able to go further in the playoffs.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Featured card:
2008 Topps Allen & Ginter Abraham Lincoln DNA relic - this auction lists one of the 'big hit' pulls out of this year's Allen & Ginter product and while the card is aesthetically underwhelming, it is interesting to see where modern cards like this one will end up. I wonder if Keith Olbermann is interested in this piece of history.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Are these the same guy? Almost sure looks like it to me....

Then and now: Travis Hafner
2007 Topps Allen and Ginter #287
- what the heck happened to this guy's career? It seems like he has lost his mojo. Cleveland Indians fans are probably hoping for the best, but after fighting through a sluggish season in 2007, Hafner has been MIA for pretty much the entire season so far.

He once looked like one of the most feared hitters in the American League, but now he can't swing the bat effectively while not being able to get on the field - even when he was playing, he only put up a .326 on-base/.350 slugging percentage in 46 games, spanning 157 official at-bats.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Featured player: JD Drew
2001 Fleer Tradition #328
- Drew has found a home in Boston and has led a charmed life so far. It only adds to what he has done as a Boston Red Sox' player, when he led the American League to a 4-3 all-star game win Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning.

Drew was the star of the 15-inning affair that lasted four hours and 50 minutes - his two-run home run in the 7th inning tied the game at 2. He went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, a run scored and a walk.

I don't particularly like him because he was supposed to sign autographs [at a furniture warehouse store] on a Saturday morning in 2006 - unfortunately, he got hurt during the game the night before [hit by a pitch] and didn't show up to the scheduled appearance. It all seemed typical, where he'll find an excuse to beg out of something, if he has any opportunity to do so.

However, for a moment, you think back to when the turd opted out of his contract with the Dodgers - and wonder if he and superagent Scott Boras actually knew what they were doing. Boras set things in motion, where his client was going to get get more money and going to a place, where [Drew eventually played a pivotal role in leading the Boston Red Sox to a championship].

There is sort of the 'detached' professionalism he exudes that has paid off already [he is a professional hitter] - It is just so ironic how things unfolded and after having a crappy season, the bastard [is a] part of a World Series championship team [and adds another trophy to his mantle and an new Chevy Tahoe hybrid SUV in his garage for his all-star game performance].

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Featured player: Josh Hamilton
I was napping for the start of the Home Run Derby, it gets boring and long winded in-between the players actually hitting some home runs.

However, I slowly rose from my slumber as this Josh Hamilton guy woke me up - with prodigious, monumental blasts launched at Yankee Stadium with an easy, effortless stroke.

He might not have won the Home Run Derby - but his 28 home runs in Round 1 provided all the fireworks. It was an exhibition for the ages.

Everyone in New York was in awe and wanted to be part of the action - the crowd was electrified, on the their heels, seeing how far Hamilton would hit his next home run. Hanley Ramirez was mimicking Hamilton's stance. Hamilton's teammate Milton Bradley was taking photo ops with Hamilton and taking in the fun.

This is what America wants. This is what they crave.

Their self-fulfilling prophecy about the great hope redeemed is realized and from phenom to crackhead - the sky is the limit for Hamilton.

Josh Hamilton is mom, apple pie and tattoos.

Some other guy won the Home Run Derby. I think he may have been Canadian or something, so it doesn't count. I keed, I keed Justin Morneau fans.

Pack breaks: 1991 Topps Stadium Club Series I [x2] - I saved these two packs from a 10 pack purchase of 1991 Stadium Club just to put away. I was bored, holed up in my room on a hot afternoon, so I ripped into the two packs impulsively.

Pack One - these packs were about $0.50 each
#18 Bip Roberts
#134 Steve Balboni
#221 Jimmy Key
#41 Tony Phillips
Topps Stadium Club membership filler card
#158 Frank Tanana
#293 Lee Stevens
#186 Cecil Fielder
#120 Rickey Henderson
#256 Bobby Thigpen
#229 Eric Anthony
#264 Ben McDonald
#24 Tom Henke

Pack Two
#15 Mike McFarlane
#281 Mike Simms - local Orange County California guy, who went to my high school [Esperanza High in Anaheim]. He was a bench player for several years in the Major Leagues.

#155 Jose Canseco - likely juiced up, he was still a dominant Major League player at this point of his career.

#2 Wally Joyner - 'Wally World' was on its last legs when this card was printed. Here is about a three minute, highlight reel/endorsement/informercial featuring Joyner and Xocai healthy chocolates. I don't know if he is still pimping the product, but at least he isn't touting the virtues of steroids.
Topps Stadium Club membership filler card
#98 Brian Harvey
#164 Chris Bosio
#79 Bob Welch
#253 Mike Greenwell
#190 Jose Oquendo
#57 Frank Thomas - I didn't scan this card, because I pulled the same card out of the initial break I had with these cards late in 2007. When I think of Thomas and his cards, I can't imagine how much time has passed [18 years] since he was the hot player [think Albert Pujols] to collect. The 1990s have passed on, but when I think back to certain moments or see certain items, still seem like only yesterday in my mind. I guess I am old.
#224 Bo Jackson - I don't know what to say about Bo, except it has been a long time since he has been relevant. He was once was a two-sport star in two professional sports [Major League Baseball and the NFL], one of these mega superstar [maybe not in achievements] athletes whose image was plastered everywhere.
#237 Juan Gonzalez - I wanted this for my collection, since it was one of his key cards, even though it wasn't a true rookie card.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Featured card: Jack McDowell 1994 Upper Deck #395 - when going through a pile of commons with the intention of finding something unique, sometimes it is a needle in a haystack. However, you do find hidden gems that make you smile.

Looking at the back of this card - McDowell was at his prime, coming off two 20-win seasons. This was at his budding musician stage, before he gave the finger to New York Yankees' fans as a Yankees' pitcher, before his arm was completely shredded by the end of the 1990s.

He won won the Cy Young Award in 1993 and saw his yearly win total in his five seasons prior to the 1994 season [1988, 1990-1993] jump from 5, 14, 17, 20 and 22 - more telling about his success at the Major Leagues was the number of innings he threw: 158.2, 205, 253.2, 260.2 and 256.2.

McDowell spent a forgettable last season in the Major Leagues as an Anaheim Angel - going 0-4 in four starts, getting pounded for 31 hits and 17 runs in 19 innings pitched.

McDowell had very good Major League career, built upon his prime years in Chicago - he finished with a 127-97 won-loss record, making 275 starts in his 277 appearances in the Major Leagues. His lifetime ERA was 3.85 and he struck out 1311 batters in 1889 innings pitched.
Featured player: Hanley Ramirez 2008 Bowman gold parallel #66 - Ramirez, the 2008 National League all-star starter at shortstop, went 5-for-6 on Thursday night, including hitting the game-winning home run in the 11th inning, giving the Florida Marlins a 5-4 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Stat wise, Ramirez is probably the best hitting shortstop in the game and I've heard Ramirez compared to an early version of Alex Rodriguez - with his ability to hit for power and ability to steal bases, Ramirez is pushing for a '30-30' season with 23 home runs and 22 stolen bases. He is currently hitting .312 with a .390 on-base percentage and a .569 slugging percentage.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Featured player: Dara Torres 1992 Impel Olympicards #72 - according to her Wikipedia page, she will be the first Olympian to compete in five Olympics [1984, 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2008].
Featured player: Tony Gonzalez 2000 Upper Deck Victory #222 - besides being a good two-sport athlete, Gonzalez apparently knew the right thing to do in applying the Heimlich Maneuver to a diner who was choking at a restaurant [in Southern California] Gonzalez was at with his family.

Inking it up
- signing for a crowd of fans

Awesome action
- the glare

Bonus babies - cameo of a non-common player on a common player's card

Awesome action - posing with the team mascot

Shades - wearing sunglasses

Collecting topics - finding common cards featuring something extra is gratifying when you see the cards coming together as you organize them. It takes a discerning eye to find them, but when you put the cards together, they are no longer just random commons to be discarded in the round file.
A.) Integrate cards into database - maybe work on one or two collecting topics each day, depending on the 'workload.'

B.) Scan some highlights and other stuff - gives you a perspective on what it is you are tying to collect instead of merely just feeling you are hoarding random cards.

Retro uniforms - old school Chicago Cubs

C.) Cards showing similar actions - while I'd rather have cards in their special topics arranged in ABC order, it maybe more interesting to put together cards [within a specific topic] picturing similar images: putting together the cards featuring players turning double plays or putting together the cards featuring plays at the plate. It adds one more wrinkle, but it makes the particular topics mean more.

Tools of ignorance
- looking for a foul pop-up

D.) Cards you need - scour the net for images of cards, so at least you know a card is 'out there' and put cards you need in your database. You can generate a 'want list' and if you find the card, it is easier just to change the 'status,' instead of having to fill in the other particulars.

Inking it up - signing autographs

E.) How many is enough [?] - since there is no official collecting topics checklist, the standards for apparent completion isn't as rigid, but there always seems to be cards popping up here and there.

Awesome action - getting work in at spring training

F.) New collecting topics - the whole idea of collecting topics is not my own and I'm always looking for new ideas to build upon.
Blog ideals, goals and critiques -
The Wild West that once was known as the Internet, has evolved into something regulated where imposed rules and netiquette serves as the judge, juror and executioner - maybe blogs are the last venues to say anything you want about a hobby like trading cards on the Internet.

Feel free to be agitated and opinionated but you are supposedly writing for a broader audience - don't try to be F this, F that, BS this, BS that.

Certainly, you want to be believe someone is reading your blog - even if there maybe one visitor a day and realistically there is none on most.

The best card blogs seem to be the ones able to go a little off-topic, even though 95 percent of their content is probably trading card related - broaden your interests or at least show an audience, you are more than just cards and graphs, by personalizing some of your posts.

You want to react to current events, because it is what people care about - but don't be obligated to blog about something you've seen on 15-20 other sites already.

Try to have a theme and a centerpiece topic - it helps you focus on a post-by-post basis.

Use images, pictures and multimedia - that one visitor a day likes pretty pictures.

Updates - have a blog schedule.

Any blog post made on your blog is still a contribution to the overall expression of thought - respect that.
Featured unintentionally funny card: Derek Lowe 2008 Upper Deck #102 - Los Angeles Dodgers' pitcher Derek Lowe is trying to get the bunt down, while the ball looks like it is about to hit him 'down there.'

Monday, July 07, 2008

Featured player: Hiroki Kuroda 2008 Topps Trading Card History #TCH56 - Los Angeles Dodgers' pitcher Hiroki Kuroda was perfect through seven innings as the Dodgers defeated Atlanta 3-0 Monday night.

Shutting down the Atlanta Braves' lineup [featuring Chipper Jones, Mark Teixeira and not much else] - Kuroda's only blemish was allowing an 8th inning double to Teixeira.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Featured player: Kevin Mitchell [and Schottzie?] 1994 Upper Deck SP card #160 - Mitchell looks as if he is enjoying a tender moment with the dog of Marge Schott, one of the most infamous owners of professional sports teams in history.

Hopefully the dog didn't suffer the same fate - as Mitchell's girlfriend's cat back in 1986.

Besides supposedly lopping off a cat's head - Mitchell won the 1989 National League MVP with 47 home runs and 125 RBIs.

One of the things I like to do is scour through common bins looking for cards like the Mitchell pictured - I might not find any of the 'has been' hits out of a pack break, but I'm actively looking for cards, instead of doing this 'faux pack break,' where I'm supposed to be excited, leafing through a pack of cards I wouldn't have bought five, 10 or 15 years ago.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Featured carnage: A snapshot of some the crap I've collected

Do I really need more cards - when I'm stuck trying to figure out what to do with this?