Thursday, April 28, 2011

Featured autograph - Jean Segura

Segura is coming on strong as the second best position player in the Angels' minor league system - after being a second baseman for much of his 4-year pro career, he has shifted over to shortstop in 2011 and it tempts me to believe this guy could be a Starlin Castro clone.

I got this autograph in-person after an Inland Empire 66ers game on April 23 - it was Ken Griffey Jr. bobblearm night, so getting the doll was a nice bonus in addition to the autographs I got with my friend.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Not the finds of a lifetime

When my parents and I were at my sister's newish house for dinner, her husband brought out his younger brother's cards for me to look at - there was several boxes of cards, maybe a binder filled with hockey cards and some 'good' baseball cards like a 1987 Topps Mark McGwire, 1987 Topps Will Clark RC, a Lance Parrish autographed card, a couple of 1988 Topps 'white triangle' McGwire record breaker cards, some Jose Canseco cards and others.

There was a b/w 8x10 glossy of Chad Curtis and some odd-sized b/w promotional photos autographed by some California Angels of the early 1990s - the best one was probably a Dave Winfield that had some damage of some sort on the photo/autograph.

It was sort of fun trying to go through them, though it took me about five minutes to realize it was the typical 1986-1992 junk wax collection - I said I expected as much and perhaps the only real interesting cards that may have stood out [because they were older than 1988-1992 range] was a 1968 Topps Stan Bahnsen rookie card and a 1976 Topps Babe Ruth.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Featured autograph - Troy Percival

Former Angels closer Troy Percival threw out the first pitch before Thursday's game and signed autographs for the first 100 people - with the signings being announced immediately after a former Angel throws the first pitch, it seems the line forms quickly behind the center field rocks.

Hall of Famer Rod Carew threw out the first pitch before Friday's game - I assume people lined up to get his autograph soon as the gates opened.

For Percival, I chose to get a 1992 Bowman rookie card #290 signed - because I wanted a card that was a little more unique, even though Option 1 was a 2001 Fleer Tradition setter.

Percival took a moment to point out the card to the handler
at the table who was turned away for a moment - I think he said something like, "see that's how I looked on my first card."

A group of three or four guys who seemed to know Percival [they called him 'Big Daddy'] asked me what I'd gotten signed - at first they thought I didn't get his autograph until I showed them the signed card and explained it was the one I'd just gotten signed.

When I started to walk away but still lingering to take pictures, one the guys motioned for me to come back and they were still curious about the card - asking whether or not it was hard to find [I got it for a buck], wondering what the 'B' means [Bowman], what he was wearing [I told them 'street clothes,' like others from this set] and wanting to see the back [to kind of see when the card was made].

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thoughts on Ryan Braun and the investment the Milwaukee Brewers made on his legacy

With the news of Ryan Braun's extension, it is fascinating to see Major League teams make value judgements as to which player they have otherwise annointed their face of the franchise - to maintain their organization's brand.

A player like Braun is a public trust more than ever before and making sure he is a a lifelong Brewer was something important to that franchise - to build fan confidence.

Maybe I used to think Major League Baseball players produced and got big contracts and little else mattered - but someone like Braun sort of becomes royalty and their status becomes even more inflated among fans, advertisers, media.

If a team spends $100 million to extend Braun - it means they view him more that just a guy who is obviously expected to be an All-Star performer.

I don't know what it says for the wishy/washy way the Brewers have dealt with Prince Fielder's contracts - I guess they don't consider him as special with regards to his value to the organization and will have no problems 'not being able to afford his demands' when it comes down to paying for him.

However, the lament of 'modern day' professional athletes in Major League Baseball not staying with one team anymore seems antiquated - bitching about a young player getting squeezed such as being kept in the minors due to service time / arbitration issues seems out of place when even seemingly non big market MLB teams are willing to step up and lock up their franchise guys.

Skunked by A.J. Pierzynski's apparent ghostsigner

A.J. Pierzynski c/o Chicago White Sox [spring training] - I think I sent this request out on 2/18 and got it back on 4/20/11; the card was signed in blue ink but it doesn't appear to be Pierzynski's actual autograph.

I know of at least two variations of his autograph - one closer to his early signature, where it looks like Pierzynski has scribbled out his last name kind of letter-for-letter. There is also his 'current' autograph where it looks mostly like this and 'sloppier' variations of it.

The SASE I got back was postmarked from Phoenix, so I assume it was left behind at the White Sox facility at Camelback Ranch - instead of simply mailing my card back unsigned [maybe it was buried beneath a pile of letters that Pierzynski never touched], someone decided to have some fun at my expense.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Brandon Wood - an Angel never has been

It was bittersweet to read about the Angels designating Brandon Wood for assignment - particularly after a trio of young Angels [Mark Trumbo, Peter Bourjos and Hank Conger] had combined for nine hits in a 15-4 win against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.

There are guys like Albert Pujols who seem to hit from their first day in the Major Leagues and there are guys who struggle before enjoying any sort of success - as much potential Wood showed through his minor league career, it is puzzling why it had taken him so long to do anything with the Angels.

Maybe he should have taken the slow and steady route, like Trumbo - who isn't that much younger than Wood.

It might have taken awhile for Trumbo to get to the Major Leagues - but the Angels nearly buried the guy until he was 24 and maybe it was the right thing to do.

Wood on the other hand, was the top prospect whom the Angels probably couldn't wait to push through the minors - because of his once tangible power potential.

As I look through my handful of random Wood cards and lament his failure as a Major Leaguer - it looks like without establishing himself in Anaheim, the book on his Angels' career is a waiver claim away from being closed for good.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pocket schedules and Grady Sizemore

Reading up on this blog post about collecting pocket schedules, I can't say I'm a big pocket sked guy - I've got enough clutter to worry about when it comes to hoarding various MLB team related trinkets.

I will concede that I may pick up and keep a few, if they feature an actual player [like Grady Sizemore pictured on a 2009 Cleveland Indians spring training pocket sked] or unique team logo of some sort - maybe I should go and hoard the Angels 2011 pocket skeds, since I can get them signed by various Angels alumni and other players I might not have cards for.

Despite the injuries suffered by Sizemore over the last several years - he maybe a guy who just needs to get on the field in order to be the impact player he was in the late 2000s.

When you can't watch a guy play after being hyped up as a future superstar and living up to some of the press clippings - you kind have doubts as to whether someone like Sizemore will ever be 'that guy' who you pay attention to as a visiting player coming to play your local MLB team.

However, there maybe still a lot of baseball talent left in Sizemore's body - as long as he actually healthy.

Featured autograph - Sam Fuld

I was rummaging through the stands after a Chicago Cubs spring training game at HoHoKam Park back in 2009 - lingering around just before being kicked out of the stands and looking for a souvenir cup or something I can clean up and take home.

I think I found some trail mix that was still sealed in the bag and also found a discarded program, with a couple of autographs - the program was no good to me because the cover was bent out of shape.

However there were a couple of autographs on it and I think I got one more random player to sign it when he came out of the locker room - one of the two autographs that were already signed on the program is apparently Sam Fuld's, who has gotten some early season love as the next gritty, scrappy, tiny player to seemingly come out of nowhere and become David Eckstein...or maybe Reggie Willits.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

32 card rookie lot purchase recap - some highlights

2011 Topps Mark Trumbo #57

2011 Topps Platinum Diamond parallel Mark Trumbo #57

2011 Topps Hank Conger #285

2011 Topps Kyle Drabek #70

2011 Topps Platinum Diamond parallel Kyle Drabek #70

I picked up a 32 card lot of 2011 Topps / 2011 Topps Heritage rookies [$4 shipped] - I didn't know what I was getting, but it wasn't a bad lot with five Angels cards and several other 'rookie stars' included.

2011 Topps Platinum Diamond parallel Brian Bogusevic #88
2011 Topps Greg Halman #83
2011 Topps Brian Bogusevic #87 x2
2011 Topps Lucas May #91
2011 Topps Ben Revere #99
2011 Topps Aroldis Chapman #110
2011 Topps Brett Sinkbeil #117
2011 Topps Lucas Duda #129
2011 Topps Jeremy Jeffress #143
2011 Topps Freddie Freeman #145
2011 Topps Jeremy Hellickson #165
2011 Topps Jose Ceda #196
2011 Topps Brandon Snyder #213
2011 Topps Lars Anderson #254
2011 Topps Jake McGee #268
2011 Topps Scott Cousins #287
2011 Topps Darren Ford #292
2011 Topps Brent Morel #322
2011 Topps Heritage Corey Luebke #69
2011 Topps Heritage Sinkbeil #131
2011 Topps Heritage Jordan Walden #194
2011 Topps Heritage Bogusevic #204
2011 Topps Heritage Ceda #266
2011 Topps Heritage Eric Sogard #348
2011 Topps Heritage Trumbo #404
2011 Topps Heritage Jarrod Dyson #414

Featured autograph - Derrel Thomas

From one of the stacks on my desk, I was able to dig out two cards signed by Derrel Thomas - who basically was a California Angel for all of 14 games and 33 plate appearances back in September of 1984 [after being purchased from the Montreal Expos].

I think my friend got the pair [one is a 1978 Topps card] of cards autographed before one of the Los Angeles Dodgers games a few years ago - looks like Thomas enjoyed most of his Major League success as a utility infielder / outfielder for the Dodgers.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

2010 Topps Best of Chrome box break recap

2010 Topps Best of the Chrome value box [$19.99 each] - I thought $30 was a little extravagant to pay for any one retail box of cards and spending $20 on blaster boxes is something I do once in a while.

However, I wanted to pick one of these up since Target knocked off $10 from the price listed on the boxes - does anyone else do the literal calculations in their head as to how much each of the contents maybe worth together?

The two 2010 Topps Million Card code cards showcased on the box are worthless but there still might be some value among the other stuff - including five 3-card retail packs of 2010 Bowman Chrome, five 4-card retail packs of 2010 Topps Chrome, a hobby pack of 2010 Bowman Platinum and a set of five [scratched up], but shiny refractor cards featuring Jackie Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Starlin Castro, Jason Heyward and Stephen Strasburg.

2010 Bowman Platinum hobby pack - I busted this first because I figure this was the 'best' pack in the box and unlike in previous years, I'm less patient in saving the 'best' for last.

#PP 4 Jesus Montero
#BPA-RP Rich Poythress - refractor auto; it's an autograph but I want to say no fireworks went off in my head, since Poythress must have signed at least five or six cards for me in-person when he was playing in the Cal League in 2010.
#21 C.C. Sabathia
#84 Vernon Wells
#23 Carlos Santana

2010 Topps Chrome

Pack one
Checklist one of two
#177 Austin Jackson
#192 Chris Heisey

#179 John Ely - auto; another player whose autograph I got in-person in 2010; BAD scan.
#2 Derrek Lee

Pack two
#186 Cole Gillespie
#178 John Jay

#116 Jimmy Rollins - refractor
#135 Carlos Beltran

Pack three
#204 Tyson Ross
#197 Brandon Hicks
#46 Tim Hudson
#150 B.J. Upton

Pack four
#214 Ivan Nova
#200 Jenrry Mejia
#26 Joe Saunders - X-fractor

#143 Troy Tulowitzki - seems like he's been on a tear lately.

Pack five
#133 Carlos Quentin
#220 Wade Davis
#45 Chone Figgins - refractor
#21 C.C. Sabathia

2010 Bowman Chrome - these packs were stuck together with some sort of glue which got in the way of busting them quickly.

Pack one - the cards are packed facing backwards, so you see the cards fronts if you tear from the back of the pack. Hopefully that tidbit isn't too confusing.

#40 Todd Helton
#USA-4 John Hochstatter
#BCP-217 Noel Arguelles

Pack two
#102 Ryan Doumit
#7 Josh Beckett
#BCP 154 Brady Shoemaker

Pack three
#73 Jorge Posada
#43 Jose Lopez

#BCP 171 Ethan Hollingsworth - purple refractor; was traded from the Colorado Rockies to the Oakland A's for Clayton Mortensen this past off-season.
Checklist 1 of 3

Pack four
#109 Chase Utley

#116 Torii Hunter - refractor; he has snuck up and earned the distinction of my favorite current Angel.
#BCP 162 Evan Bronson

Pack five
#15 Chris Carpenter
#71 Ben Zobrist - refractor
#BCP 201 Ehire Adrianza

Friday, April 15, 2011

Topps Million Card Giveaway - the Card Buzz collection #8

1973 Topps Bill North #234

From the Million Card Giveway, I think I traded a 1972 Topps Ivan Murrell for this card - while the Murrell was a 'high number' card, North's 1973 Topps card was his rookie card, so it made it easier for me to accept the offer.

As for the player, it looks like North was a 1970's version of Juan Pierre - a fast top of the lineup type hitter with no ability to hit for any power. To North's credit, he did have the ability to collect his fair share of walks during his 11 year career.

Topps Million Card Giveaway - the Card Buzz collection #7

1979 Topps Brian Downing #77

Brian Downing was an Angels mainstay throughout the 1980s and while I want to say this card means a little more, than the other cards I had delivered from the Topps Million Card Giveway - I think I've leafed through my share of Downing cards, particularly from the junk wax era [1986-1992], so I had this card delivered just because I want to say I had an Angel card delivered.

I think I ended up trading a 1978 Topps Don Baylor #48 for the Downing - another former Angels star who was otherwise a common / minor star at best when it came to baseball cards.

Topps Million Card Giveaway - the Card Buzz collection #6

1961 Topps Ted Lepcio #234

Topps Million Card Giveaway - the Card Buzz collection #5

1969 Topps Nate Colbert #408

I already have a 1971 Topps card of Colbert in my A-Z archive of cards - but I had his 1969 Topps card delivered from the Topps Million Card Giveaway because it has a nice image of the player pictured smiling.

I didn't know much about Colbert beforehand, but it looks like he had his best years with the San Diego Padres through the 1970s - he wasn't a star or anything but there was a six year period where Colbert was likely the Padres' best player and he also hit five home runs in one game.

It might not be visible through the scan - but it looks like someone or something 'scrunched' the left hand side of the card by border, causing a crease. It maybe some sort of therapy going through these cards and trying to discuss the little imperfections as I see them.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Topps Million Card Giveaway - the Card Buzz collection #4

1969 Topps Max Alvis #145

Topps Million Card Giveaway - the Card Buzz collection #3

1972 Topps Cubs Rookie Stars #61 - featuring Burt Hooton

Topps Million Card Giveaway - the Card Buzz collection #2

1969 Topps Larry Shepard #384

From the time I started collecting [just about 20 years ago], I've never liked manager cards - if a baseball card doesn't picture a player, then it means there is one less collectible card out there for an actual player.

I think the only reason I had this card shipped was because it was 42 years old - I just love the three OK looking corners and the rounded top left corner sticking out like a sore thumb.

As for the subject of the card, it was ironic that Shepard passed on at the age of 92 earlier this month - his Baseball Reference Bullpen page gives a more in-depth look at his playing, managerial and coaching careers in professional baseball. It looks like his four pennants during his 18 years as a manager were captured as a minor league skipper.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Featured autographs - Mark Langston and Tim Salmon

Mark Langston threw out the first pitch in Monday's Angel game against the Cleveland Indians and was scheduled to sign autographs at the top of the second inning - I got in line [on the concourse behind the center field rocks] as the game started and was surprised there was one formed already; I guess one reason to go to the remaining home games this season would be to get autographs of a former Angels players.

One of the 'collector types' ahead of me got an 8x10 print of the Langston/Jim Abbott/Chuck Finley shot used in one of the subset cards in the 1993 Upper Deck set - the collector tried to sneak a second item [a card] for Langston to sign but the 'handler' standing and talking next to him snatched the card like a hawk and said autographs were only one per person.

I got Langston an 'oddball' card I picked up for a dime [at the Texas Rangers / Kansas City Royals spring training fanfest in 2009] because it had Tim Salmon's picture on it - as he was signing the card, Langston asked the handler if Salmon was around and the woman said he was actually at the stadium. If I overheard correctly, I thought it was funny that Langston didn't know Salmon was at the stadium.

Salmon has been doing the Angels Live pregame and postgame shows with Bill MacDonald and Jose Mota - for the first homestand of the 2011 season, which finishes up with a 4:05 p.m. game against the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday afternoon.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, I was waiting behind the rocks [where the postgame show is held] and during the top of the 9th inning, Salmon showed up
- he was pretty much oblivious to the various fans [and I] wanting to him to sign something.

I had to wait around until the postgame show was finished before Salmon was finally done with his duties and eventually signed autographs
- it was a good thing the ushers didn't kick fans out of the area, even though the rest of the stadium was being cleared out after the game.

Topps Million Card Giveaway - the Card Buzz collection #1

1969 Topps Joe Horlen #328

Like everyone seems to have been blogging about lately, the Topps Million cards have finally been making its way to collector's hands - I got my shipment of eight cards in on Monday and my first reaction was I paid about $7 to have these cards shipped to me?

Assuming everything costs much more these days, I may understand the fact it only cost exactly $1.73 to ship these cards to me - the cards were sleeved and put into top loaders; an invoice was enclosed listing the cards I had delivered.

However, flipping through the eight cards I received, I was a bit underwhelmed since these cards ended up being the ones your mom threw away, left in someone's attic, otherwise discarded, et al - there were layering, creases, rounded corners, stains and probably other defects.

I suppose all the imperfections makes the cards more 'authentic,' but kind of wonder if Topps could have taken an extra step in making sure the cards met a certain condition - instead of random, junky condition fillers to fulfill the requests from the Million Card Giveaway.

Collectors may not have liked it but I think a Topps Million Card Giveaway 'buyback' stamp of sorts would have been nice addition to the cards requested to be shipped - like how the various Topps Heritage vintage buyback cards are stamped to signify their status as such.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Featured autograph - Tyler Chatwood

Angels pitching prospect Tyler Chatwood made his Major League debut Monday night at Angel Stadium - despite giving up two home runs in a 4-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians, he signed a couple of cards and also my ticket stub [pictured] after the game.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Featured autograph - Bob Lee

Bob Lee was the relief ace for the California Angels from 1964-1966 and also an All-Star in 1965 - he threw out the first pitch in Sunday's Angel game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Starting at the top of the second inning, Lee signed autographs at a table on the concourse behind the center field rocks at Angel Stadium.

I didn't have anything for him to sign - so I got him on a 2011 Angels pocket sked with the team's 50th anniversary logo.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Manny Ramirez - don't let the door hit you on the way out

I think I was disappointed to hear about Manny Ramirez' abrupt retirement due to possibly failing another drug test - he was one of those most dominant sluggers of his time and was probably the most entertaining as far as cheap laughs were concerned.

However I think there comes a time, when the most irreverent of professional athletes lose their relevance - you know these guys are done when they are suddenly past their mid 30s, it takes longer and longer for them to produce like they have in their prime if they are still playing and it isn't fun watching when these players don't have the same impact on the games they play.

I want to turn the clock back five or 10 years when a guy like Manny would be hitting 35-40 home runs a year - but as much as you want to see one shot of glory from this flake of a superstar baseball player, the juice is gone and maybe it is time for an athlete like him to go out.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Thank you for your order - Topps Million

This rather sparse post features another listing of cards I claimed from the Topps Million Card Giveaway - I got my e-mail and it looks like I should finally be getting my eight 'off-condition,' 'somewhat vintage but not really valuable' cards in-hand.

Autograph requests through the mail received: Adam Jones and Felix Doubront

Adam Jones c/o Baltimore Orioles [spring training] - I sent an autograph request to the Orioles' centerfielder on 2/18 and got my SASE back with two cards signed in black on 4/4/11.

Felix Doubront c/o Boston Red Sox [spring training] - he had signed one signed card in black Sharpie in about a month, but part of the autograph had stuck to the inside part of my SASE, so I'm going to try to remove the autograph with either an eraser or a nail polish remover.

I haven't made up my mind whether or not I lose sleep over these things but I'm anal when it comes to signed items - I don't like imperfections in the way the autograph was signed including but not limited to smears, smudges and bubbling.

2010 Topps I blaster recap

2010 Topps I blaster box [$19.99 each at Target] - I don't usually pay attention to Topps blaster boxes once they've been out on the retail shelves and see them as decaying stock.

However, I picked up a blaster box when I spotted one or two last weekend among the two Targets I usually go to - I've read in a forum thread that these blasters with the two Target exclusive Topps retro variation packs might not really be easy to find since they've been out on shelves since February of 2010. Whoever is going snatch all these up has already done so, long ago.

I was really hoping to pull a Topps retro variation Buster Posey RC - though it seems like pulling any particular card out of only two Topps retro packs is really a tough deal.

Topps also made it a little more frustrating when two out of the eight cards in each pack - are the typical inserts you'd pull out of the regular packs .

Historical Commemorative Patch Card
#MCP-23 Frank Robinson - I still don't like the plain, cardboard background and the small unreadable writing on the patches of many of these cards; sadly this probably my best pull.

Pack one
#149 Jose Guillen
#270 Michael Brantley
#300 Chase Utley
#302 Beantown Backhand
#HOTG 9 Lou Gehrig - History of the Game
#TMC-10 Topps Million - I dreaded picking up a 2010 Topps blaster knowing The Million Card Giveaway was already over and now I'm just waiting for the cards I claimed to be shipped to me.
#TTT 23 C.C. Sabathia - ToppsTown
#11 Ty Wigginton

Pack nine - Throwback pack #1
#35 Rick Porcello
#128 Garrett Mock
#277 Jarrod Washburn
#237 Brew Crew Knockout
#306 Milton Bradley
#LL-4 Lou Gehrig / Mark Teixeira - Legendary Lineage
#TTT-12 Miguel Tejada - ToppsTown
#218 Fernando Martinez

Pack 10 - Throwback pack #2
#81 Ryan Theriot
#176 Yovani Gallardo
#267 Cito Gaston
#196 Ian Desmond
#268 Juan Pierre
#TR-14 Kevin Youkilis - Turkey Red
#TTT5 Evan Longoria - ToppsTown
#165 Brandon Phillips

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Featured autograph - Brad Emaus

New York Mets rookie second baseman Brad Emaus has been hyped up as some sort of Dan Uggla clone - I was wondering if I'd gotten his autograph because he may just have been one of the 'rank-and-file' guys I missed getting when I went to the Arizona Fall League in 2009.

Thankfully I was able to find this lone signed 2008 Bowman Chrome prospect card in one of my autograph books - there is always some novelty in getting an autograph of a relatively unknown player, who ends up being talked about a few years later.

Unlike my friend however, I don't think I had more than this lone card to get signed - if Emaus does turn out to have an All-Star season or two, I won't be able to say I got him a bunch of times when he was just a minor leaguer.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Featured autograph - Hank Conger

Hank Conger made his season debut for the Angels on Tuesday and hit his first Major League home run against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday - I quietly root for Conger because he is the type of professional baseball player who I might have aspired to be in my dreams.

He and Mark Trumbo are living their dreams of professional baseball players from Orange County playing for the Angels - so maybe I'll play closer attention to what they do as Major Leaguers because they are 'local guys' made good for.

The 2006 Bowman Draft card was signed when in-person when the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes team made an organized appearance at Angel Stadium back in 2008 - Conger was on the team with Trumbo, Jordan Walden, Peter Bourjos, Trevor Bell, Bobby Cassevah, David Herndon, et al.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Recycling baseball images on cards

2010 Bowman Draft J.P. Arencibia #BDP 103 - from the crease of his pants, it looks like his fly is down, like the old-school Claude Raymond Topps cards from 1966 and 1967.

2011 Topps Heritage J.P. Arencibia #368 - the image is the same one used on his 2010 Bowman Draft card, except we don't get a crotch shot since the crop is much tighter.

I'm pretty sure recycling images on baseball cards isn't all that unique - it probably doesn't take a lot of time or effort to use the same image for two or three different brands of baseball cards from the same company.

2010 Bowman Draft Mike McCoy #BDP 107

2010 Topps Series II Mike McCoy #482