Monday, April 29, 2013

The Angels have me wondering why I even bother

As an Angels fan, at times I feel like I'm made to suffer through lackluster performances as the team limps towards the end of April with a sub-.500 record - the Angels roster construction is rigid and while fans were happy when owner Arte Moreno throws money around in the off-season on supposed franchise players, the results are not there when those main big money guys struggle so far during the regular season.

The Josh Hamilton signing has been an early albatross - the Angels could have used the money spent on him on a good starting pitcher or two and instead of going cheap on has-beens like Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson.

More imagination should have been used to patch up faults of the team in the past several years - the corpses of Albert Pujols and Hamilton aren't hitting the ball with authority and maybe both will round into form though Pujols' plantar fasciitis and his general well-being in particular scares the crap out of me.

A bright spot may actually be Mark Trumbo, who is off to good start - after his second half crash in 2012, I didn't expect him to recover but it looks like he's actually a better hitter so far.

Can it be possible that Trumbo is really becoming more of a guy who can hit the ball to all parts of the field - he's going to hit share of  home runs but I'm sort of excited by the fact that maybe he's aiming to be a better all-around hitter instead of a one-dimensional, all-or-nothing power guy.

Stephen Strasburg MIA?

I don't hear too much about the supposed ace of the Washington Nationals anymore though I assume he's never been quite a peach and the less national attention he gets - the more comfortable he feels as long as he can go out and dominate on the mound.

However, it's been three or four years already since Strasburg was hyped as the greatest thing since sliced bread - though pitching relatively well despite his W-L record, maybe he doesn't seem to be as sure of a thing at the ripe old age of 24.

It's not like his future is all behind him - but I wonder if fans and or experts will ever get an opportunity to talk about his talent like a Justin Verlander or Felix Hernandez any time soon.

Strasburg missed much of the 2011 season after coming back from Tommy John surgery - in 2012, wasn't allowed to finish the 2012 season and it was a strange decision for the Nationals to make, even with Strasburg's long-term interests in mind.

I guess Strasburg has to take a back seat to position player and teammate Bryce Harper on the Nationals - and apparently Strasburg is no Matt Harvey, who is the hot rookie pitcher of the moment in Major League Baseball.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

First PSA DNA submission yields mostly slabbed goodness

I stopped at the post office Saturday morning because I had a package waiting for me - I was hoping it's my PSA/DNA order because I've been fretting over the status of a stash of six autograph cards I sent to PSA/DNA through their March 2013 special, which was $15 [plus insurance / shipping depending on the declared value of my total order] to have an item with a $150 declared value authenticated, graded and slabbed with a blue flip.

From what I've read, the biggest difference between PSA/DNA flips is blue is basically for authentication and grading of the autograph - while red flips is for the authentication / grading of the card and authentication of the autograph.

This might be a one time submission so I wanted some autograph cards that meant something in my collection - if I sent some oddball autographs cards for submission, I might be stuck with a reminder of something I don't really care for either way.

I decided to submit with two Mariano Rivera, two Derek Jeter and two Kirby Puckett autographed cards - through the special.

Though not perfect, PSA/DNA is the industry standard as far as autograph authentication is concerned - on a whim, I was looking to submit some cards that have been in my collection for the last 15 years and maybe looking for some validation.

After putting together the packaging I was mailing to PSA/DNA and hoping it would get to their offices safely, I realized I'd forgotten to sign and date the submission form I'd filled out - after someone from PSA/DNA contacted me through e-mail to resolve that little problem, I assumed my order was good to go, though I didn't know if it was going to take a while to process my order.

I was waiting around the clock, day by day, looking for any confirmation of my order and/or results being posted - maybe I was looking for a courtesy e-mail, but I didn't get anything at all and perhaps an option would be to give PSA/DNA a call.

I signed up with my personal info to create an account on the PSA Web site to see if I can get some kind of status check - however, I shouldn't assume PSA/DNA would process my order and tie it back with the account I just created on the PSA Web site after I'd already sent my cards in. THERE WAS NOTHING IN MY CREATED ACCOUNT TO INDICATE ANY ORDER AND I WONDERED HOW LONG I'D HAVE TO WAIT AROUND.

The small box I received at the post office after signing / writing my name / giving my address was from Newport Beach, so it had to be from PSA/DNA - it looked sturdy enough that I was hoping there would be slabs inside.

From all the lurking and reading I've done on autograph message boards - a possibility is not having everything I sent in authenticated and I wondered what my reaction would be if none of my cards were slabbed.

Eventually I tried to rip into the well packaged box as delicately as possible and saw what I'd paid $18 each [with insurance/shipping] for - for my first time, I was relieved to see five cards slabbed, though it became apparent soon enough that I had one clunker that failed to pass muster with PSA/DNA.

Two Rivera autograph cards - I'm thinking both of these cards were sent through the mail in the late 1990's since I wasn't out at the ballpark for two or three years after 1996.

Both cards were slabbed with the autograph on the 1997 Score being graded a Gem Mint 10 - I like the 1993 Bowman second-year card though I wish I'd found a way to pick up his 1992 Bowman rookie card instead.

Two Jeter autograph cards - the one I got in-person back in 1996 was slabbed and the one I got TTM in the late 1990's was unslabbed and 'tagged' with 'N4' questionable authenticity.

Until now, I thought the Jeter I got TTM was good but then maybe Jeter used a clubbie to sign his mail back in the late 1990's - when he was started getting overwhelmed with fan mail.

Two Puckett autograph cards - which were both authenticated and slabbed with the autographs being graded.

I never had the opportunity to get Puckett in person but in the late 1990's - wrote to him a couple of times to get a couple of cards signed.

For all my worrying, my submission took about 20 business days then just these last several days to ship back to me - I was worried I'd have to wait at least a couple of months or longer to receive my order, but I got my autograph cards back, even though I don't know what to do with my supposed Jeter miss.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Featured autograph - Peter Bourjos

Bourjos was buried by the Angels in 2012 making him wonder if he was going to be in the team's plans going forward - with his defensive skills [as a center fielder] and relative youth as a Major Leaguer, the Angels had to give Bourjos an opportunity to find a permanent role in the Angels outfield mix this season.

Through the first month of this season Bourjos has put up some nice stats on the board as a hitter, excelling at the top of the lineup - hopefully he can put up comparable numbers for the rest of the year, get his hits and get on-base in other ways.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Quarter box finds - what else is new?

2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Evan Longoria #44
2006 Topps Turkey Red Joe Blanton #434
2010 Topps Pro Debut Randal Grichuk #147
- x3
2013 Topps Jason Grilli #174 - gold serial #'d 1711/2013
2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Jose Quintana #42
2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Salvador Perez #136

2013 Topps Gypsy Queen George Brett #230
2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Dustin Pedroia #275
2013 Topps Heritage Memorable Moments #MM-TR

2013 Panini Totally Certified Jeremy Lin #129

Thursday, April 18, 2013

2012 Panini Prizm - three pack break recap #3 of 3

Pack three
#61 Josh Reddick

#TP 3 Shelby Miller - Top Prospect insert

#10 Evan Longoria
#149 Rickey Henderson
#196 Dale Thayer
- Panini, you don't need to label an anonymous middle reliever a rookie when he's spent parts of the last four years in the Major Leagues.
#171 David Phelps

2012 Panini Prizm - three pack break recap #2 of 3

Pack two
#44 David Freese
#2 Cameron Maybin

#67 Alex Rodriguez

#148 Cal Ripken Jr.
#170 Drew Pomeranz
#151 Yu Darvish

2012 Panini Prizm - three pack break recap #1 of 3

2012 Panini Prizm [$6 each x3 from a card shop] - these cards 'pop' a little more like Topps Finest cards than Topps / Bowman Chrome cards, though the lack of MLB team logos detracts from the cards' overall appeal.

Pack one
#84 B.J. Upton

#MVP 1 Craig Kimbrel - MVP insert
#82 Zack Greinke
#39 Adrian Gonzalez

#126 Paul O'Neill
#160 Sergio Romo - RC / I assume labeling Romo as a rookie was a goof that just wasn't corrected.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Featured autographs - Rick Ankiel

I was finally able to get Ankiel to sign a couple of set cards for me when the Astros came to play the Angels last weekend - I haven't gotten the opportunity to get his autograph in recent years, though I may have gotten once in-person and once TTM over the last 12 years.

Ankiel has bounced around from St. Louis to Kansas City to Atlanta - he played the last couple of years with the Washington Nationals before being released some time in 2012.

Hopefully he sticks with the Astros throughout the year - since I've got at least one more setter to try and get autographed [2010 Topps Allen and Ginter] and maybe a few other cards I've ended up with.

Digging through card show bins

A trip to a card show where there are different dime / quarter / $0.50 / dollar boxes to dig through is how I have a little fun putting together my own stack of baseball cards when I'm not angling to pick up anything in particular - though I only get a certain number of cards and it may cost a little more that something a Fairfield repack from Target, I have more control over what I can pick up, depending on my interests at the moment and actual cards seeded in the boxes.

15 for $5
1991 Topps Stadium Club Dome Shawn Green #67
1996 Donruss Press Proof Steve Sparks #3

1998 Skybox Metal Tony Gwynn #19 of 20 - Universal Language die-cut insert
1999 Bowman Tim Hudson rookie card #375 - scan miscut the image of the card
1999 Topps Finest Pat Burrell rookie card #131
2005 Topps Turkey Red Ryne Sandberg #312

2006 Topps Turkey Red Albert Pujols #500
2007 Bowman Sterling Prospects Brandon Hynick #BSP-BWH

2010 Topps Ozzie Smith #CMT 28 - Cards Your Mom Threw Out Original Back insert  
2011 Bowman Draft Chrome Ref Matthew Skole #BDPP 15
2011 Bowman Draft Chrome Ref Harold Riggins #BDPP 21
2011 Bowman Draft Chrome Ref Carl Thomore #BDPP 31

2011 Topps Opening Day Joe Mauer
- Opening Day Stars insert
2012 Bowman Draft Chrome Ref Sean McAdams #BDPP 94
2012 Bowman Platinum Yorman Rodriguez #BPP 68
- X-fractor parallel

15 for $1
1991 Upper Deck Final Update Kenny Lofton rookie card 24F
1992 Fleer Tony Gwynn #5 of 10
1992 Fleer Tony Gwynn #9 of 10

1996 Upper Deck SPx Jim Edmonds #11
2005 Fleer Ultra Joe Mauer #5
- Gold Medallion die-cut parallel
2007 Bowman's Best Joe Mauer #6
2007 Topps Allen and Ginter Miguel Cabrera #90

2007 Topps Allen and Ginter David Wright #200
2007 Topps Turkey Red Vladimir Guerrero #185B
- Ad back / SP
2008 Topps Allen and Ginter Jered Weaver #234
2010 Topps Heritage Ryan Braun #492
- All-Star subset / SP
2011 Bowman Josh Hamilton BB 9 - Bowman's Best insert
2011 Bowman Joe Mauer BB 22 - Bowman's Best insert
2011 Topps Update Kevin Jepsen #US-101 - Cognac parallel
2011 Topps Update Scott Downs #US-198 - Diamond Anniversary parallel

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Torii Hunter aging like fine wine

The former Angel ballhawk just got his 2,000th hit with the Detroit Tigers - call me crazy but he might outperform the guy who replaced him in Anaheim for much less cost and years.

As I see it, Hunter has to only play as good as Josh Hamilton does when it matters - which is the next two years, when the Angels and Tigers are looking to contend for the playoffs while depending on Hamilton and Hunter respectively as a cog.

It might not be fair to Hamilton and it might be early - but Hunter actually has a better chance to fulfill his two-year deal just because the guy is always ready to play and doesn't embarass himself on the field.

After the next two years, comparing the two won't matter as Hunter will likely be retired and the mercurial Hamilton will likely slide into a decline phase as most older players do - perhaps accelerated by the abuse his body suffered in his 20's.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Featured autograph - Tim Wallach

It's ironic I maybe posting this since he just did a card shop signing and I didn't actually get this autograph at that appearance - back in my first incarnation as an autograph collector at Anaheim / Angel Stadium, I ended up trading for a handful of loose 1996 Angels Mother's Cookies cards [maybe one or two signed already, but an incomplete set].

After all these years, like this Angels in Order post about a Mark Trumbo card - I really just want to complain about how the Angels uniform blends into the background of the card.

Unfortunately, all the cards in 1996 Angels Mother's Cookies set look like the Wallach - I want to say the cards look kind of cheap to begin with but it seems like the Angels were the only Mother's Cookies team set photographed in a studio setting and not outdoors.

It's kind of hard to see the autograph but I got the card signed a couple of weeks ago - just to get it out of my little stash of cards I have for the current Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach and put it away.

I did the same for a Mark Langston card I got signed last year or the year before - I don't intend to get any more signed.

Friday, April 05, 2013

I got a quarter off my 2013 Topps Gypsy Queen blaster recap

It's Opening Week and I wanted some new MLB baseball cards in my hand - however, $5 for a pack for this 2013 Topps Gypsy Queen at a card shop didn't seem too appealing, if I really just want to see what the cards looked like.

I ended up at Target and found a blaster box and two opened boxes - it's the same place where I saw a pack molester three or four weeks ago, so I just took my chances with the single blaster box instead of loose packs for $2.99 each.

After ripping my first pack, I thought the second pack felt heavier than the first - even though this is retail and chances are, my mind is just goofing on me.

I was surprised when I actually pulled a thick coin card of Bill Mazeroski -the best thing about the card is it's numbered 3/5, so there is some perceived scarcity attached to the card, even though at first I thought it was just another run-of-the-mill pull.

The Ohio [apparently Mazeroski's home state] quarter inserted on the card [looks like in a little plastic holder] is from 2002 - couldn't Topps have found a quarter than was more appropriate to Mazeroski's playing career or does it really matter?

Pack one
#303 Billy Butler - blue framed paper serial #403/499
#CP-BP Buster Posey - Collisions at the Plate insert
#SS-OS Ozzie Smith - Sliding Stars insert
#227 Francisco Liriano - mini
#335 Alfonso Soriano
#233 Ike Davis

Pack two
#49 George Kell
#334 Bill Mazeroski - Hometown Currency Relic insert
#246 Jose Reyes

Pack three
#185 Ryan Doumit
#212 Kevin Youkilis
#288 Jim Bunning - SP
#93 Matt Moore - mini
#173 Yonder Alonso
#86 Mariano Rivera

Pack four
#4 L.J. Hoes
#NH-BF Bob Feller - No-Hitters insert
#GS-DJ Derek Jeter - Glove Stories insert
#283 Daniel Murphy - mini black parallel serial #'d 099/199
#57 Jayson Werth
#38 Dexter Fowler

Pack five
#228 Hiroki Kuroda
#219 Jake Peavy
#146 Erick Aybar
#182 Alejandro De Aza - mini
#120 Cal Ripken Jr.
#9 Andrew McCutchen

Pack six
#43 Enos Slaughter
#52 Hanley Ramirez
#DA-DP David Price - Dealing Aces insert
#272 Anthony Gose - mini
#161 Whitey Ford
#193 Chase Headley

Pack seven
#188 Jose Altuve
#62 Ryan Braun - SP
#SS-MT Mike Trout - Sliding Stars insert
#101 Mike Olt - mini
#205 Jay Bruce
#253 Tommy Milone

Pack eight
#311 Matt Kemp
#73 Casey Kelly
#NH-NR Nolan Ryan - No-Hitters insert
#42 Jose Quintana - mini
#158 Wade Boggs
#182 Alejandro De Aza

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Longshots make their debut with Angels

Josh Hamilton, Sean Burnett, J.B. Shuck, Brendan Harris and Mark Lowe made their Angels debut during the team's 13-inning 3-1 Opening Day win against the Cincinnati Reds - I have all but Shuck's autograph somewhere to account for and will try and get his autograph in-person.

It's a long season, but hopefully Shuck, Harris and Lowe can contribute to the Angels over the course of the year - not just be players who end up getting sent down or cut sooner than later, never to be heard from again.