Sunday, February 28, 2010

30 teams, the 2010 edition

I've been told that it's a good idea to take stock once a year. Evaluate your financial situation. Your health situation. Your family situation. All of your situations.

For me, that includes examining which teams I like and which teams I don't. You may remember that I did that at this time last year. And before that, I have made a list of the teams I like from the most to the least about every couple of years.

I've decided to make this an annual exercise. Because knowing every single year which team is my 14th most favorite team is of the utmost importance.

So, this is the updated list. I'll try to keep the commentary short because the last time I did this I went into a lot of detail about why I like certain teams and why I don't. I'm trying not to repeat myself.

Also, there's not a lot of change on the list from year-to-year. Maybe next year I'll dig out some of my old lists -- if I can find them -- to show exactly how much some teams can jump or drop over time.

OK, teams, listen up. This is what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong. According to me.

1. LOS ANGELES DODGERS (last year's rank: No. 1): History plays a huge part in why I love the Dodgers so much. I couldn't be a fan of a team that's existed for only a decade or two. I need Ebbets Field, the Brooklyn Robins, Dazzy Vance, Van Lingle Mungo, Sandy Amoros' catch, Jackie, Pee Wee, Campy, Sandy, the Big D, Bleeding Dodger Blue, the Dodger Sym-phony, Garvey, Cey, Russell, Lopes, the Impossible Has Happened, Fernandomania, the Tornado, Piazza, Game Over. All of it.

2. BOSTON RED SOX (last year: No. 3): The Red Sox move up a spot. It's not that I like them any more than I did last year. They're a big part of my family background, so they'll always place high. It's just that another team dropped a little bit.

3. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (last year: No. 4): Every year I hope that the Pirates shock everyone and become a playoff contender again. When I was young, the Pirates were perennial contenders. Now, every year that they do poorly is another reminder that I'm getting older. How's that Pittsburgh? Not only are people getting on you because you stink, but they're blaming you for them growing old, too. It sucks to lose, doesn't it?

4. KANSAS CITY ROYALS (last year: No. 5): Same deal as Pittsburgh. They were good when I was young. They're bad now and have been for awhile. I have a little more hope for them than the Pirates, but not much more.

5. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (last year: No. 2): Beat my team in the playoffs once, and I'll give you a pass. Beat them two years in a row, and I don't like you much anymore. The Phillies have a lot of work to do to get back up to their customary No. 2 spot.

6. DETROIT TIGERS (last year: No. 7): They're making a lot of wacky offseason moves but I've always liked the team, so getting rid of Curtis Granderson isn't going to make me like them less.

7. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (last year: No. 6): I'm still feeling the playoff matchup with the Dodgers last year. I know the Dodgers won, but there was enough there about the Cardinals that I didn't like in the short time they played. I'm ready for La Russa to retire.

8. OAKLAND A'S (last year: No. 8): Oakland is forever putting players on the field that I never knew existed. I guess if they're in my top 10, I have to start paying attention to them a little more.

9. CHICAGO WHITE SOX (last year: No. 11): The White Sox take a jump and I'm not sure why. Maybe because Ozzie Guillen's on Twitter? No, that can't be it. I just like the fact that they're not the Cubs.

10. CINCINNATI REDS (last year: No. 9): Every time I see photographs of the Reds' stadium (don't ask me to tell you what its name is), the stands are empty. It's depressing. So, I'm dropping them down a notch.

11. CLEVELAND INDIANS (last year: No. 12): There are plenty of Indians fans with corresponding blogs, and all of them are pleasant people. Consider them emissaries for their team. They do a good job. Indians move up one.

12. MINNESOTA TWINS (last year: No. 13): The Twins debut their new open-air stadium this season! Woo-hoo! No more Metrodome! They can count on moving up again next year just because of that.

13. TEXAS RANGERS (last year: No. 16): I think I've mentioned how much I liked the Rangers when I was a kid. Operating the 1975 Topps blog has connected me with my childhood a little bit and made me appreciate the Rangers more. Now, Texas, it's time to learn how to pitch. This season.

14. FLORIDA MARLINS (last year: No. 15): They're going to call themselves the Miami Marlins soon! Awesome. It's about time. Plus, I like a team that will give the Mets and Braves fits. Keep doing it, Florida.

15. MILWAUKEE BREWERS (last year: No. 10): The biggest drop from last year. Prince Fielder needs to tone it down. As much as I like his card from this year's Topps set, he's way too excitable, and he's bringing his team down. Get him on meds or whatever you have to do.

16. HOUSTON ASTROS (last year: No. 14): The more time that passes since Houston last wore rainbow uniforms, the less I appreciate them. Getting endless Carlos Lee cards isn't helping matters either.

17. BALTIMORE ORIOLES (last year: No. 17): I'm liking the Orioles more and more. If they would start beating the Yankees once in awhile, I'd like them a LOT more.

18. TORONTO BLUE JAYS (last year: No. 18): See above.

19. SEATTLE MARINERS (last year: No. 19): The Mariners really seem to have made a concerted effort to improve their team this year. I'm going to remind myself to pay attention to them more because as it is now, it may be the team I ignore the most. Maybe if I knew what they were doing I'd appreciate them more.

20. TAMPA BAY RAYS (last year: No. 23): A nice jump for the Rays. The Collective Troll can take credit for that. They've got to get out of that stadium though.

21. NEW YORK METS (last year: No. 21): This team has caused me a lot of pain in my baseball-rooting life. They really should be down farther on the list than they are. But it's because they've suffered so much lately that I take pity on them and look at them in a somewhat favorable way. So, Mets, if you want to get a higher ranking on my list, all you have to do is keep losing.

22. CHICAGO CUBS (last year: No. 20): What is this, year No. 102? I hate ineptness.

23. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (last year: No. 22): Still wish they were the Expos. I attended more games in Montreal than in any other MLB stadium. Now the closest ballpark to me is four hours away, and if I want to go, I need a passport to get back into the country.

24. ATLANTA BRAVES (last year: No. 24): Remember when there used to be Braves fans behind every tree? That's not the case anymore. But I'm still not over it.

25. ANGELS (last year: No. 25): Like Topps, I'm refusing to refer to them by their idiotic full name. If the team goes back to the Anaheim Angels they'll win special Night Owl Bonus Points!

26. COLORADO ROCKIES (last year: No. 26): I think I made it abundantly clear how much I dislike the team when I was mowing over their players' cards in October.

27. SAN DIEGO PADRES (last year: No. 27): Another year of obsessing over beating the Dodgers, another year of forgetting that there are about 19 other teams that they need to beat, too.

28. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (last year: 28): Not a fan of the 2001 team. Stop smiling, you two.

29. NEW YORK YANKEES (last year: 29): Thanks to last season, the Yankees very nearly plunged into the last-place spot. The only thing that saved them is I had a sudden flashback of Barry Bonds' giant head. Also, I don't care what anyone says, I am not happy that the Yankees won the World Series because that means "we have a bad guy to root against again." Listen. I root against the Yankees whether they win or lose. I don't want them to do well no matter what the situation. It's very simple. I just want them to lose. Got it?

30. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (last year: 30): Let's just say I wish this was a list of 29 teams.

OK, that's the update for 2010. I guess I babbled a little more than I wanted.

As always, feel free to make your own list, whether you post it on your blog or not. Just remember, no matter what that list says, mine is the master list. And it's always right.

Lazy Sunday ramblings

After three rather intense days of work, I'm ready for a mindless Sunday.

I don't want to spend any more time thinking than I have to, hence the rambling, short nature of this post. And, yes, I did just say, "hence." No, I do not know where that came from. I do not say "hence" when I speak. I would just like to be clear on that.

The first rambling concerns the latest Define the Design segment from a couple of days ago. I decided to put up a poll for the name for the 2010 Topps design. The options are the following, based on people's comments:

  • The swoosh set
  • The wave set
  • The tsunami set (very timely, dayf, and a bit scary)
  • The binoculars set
  • The telescope set

I am partial to the binoculars set, just because many of the photos, especially when the swoosh is a dark color, look like an image as seen through binoculars. Now, as deal said, telescope would be more appropriate, because the card does look more like what you'd see through a telescope (one eye as opposed to two eyes with binoculars). But I've never seen anyone bring a telescope to the ballpark. So I'll stay with binoculars as my favorite.

As for 2010 Upper Deck, I don't know if we're there yet. UD always has to be so difficult because Upper Deck and design are mortal enemies. They're really trying to be forgettable, and they're doing a damn fine job of it. But I'll figure something out.

On a completely different topic, I tracked down another Million Cards Giveaway code. People are probably pretty bored with this by now, but I'm not. Code-entering is now an everyday aspect of life: Get up, take a shower, grab some lunch, walk the dog, enter a code, read the paper. See how seemlessly code-entering fits into the equation?

I thought of saving the code for when the Giveaway Machine starts regurgitating '50s cards again. But I have no patience when it comes to cards. The people who leave unopened packs or -- perish the thought -- boxes of cards in their home for months are absolute freaks. I'm sure of it.

So, I immediately got on the site, scanned the "recently unlocked cards," saw there was nothing from the junk wax era -- just 1970s and a couple early '80s items -- and took the plunge.

Here is what I redeemed:

Awesome. Something from the 1960s. Although I hope the card that's sent to me isn't this miscut.

This card is actually from my least favorite '60s set, but you can't go wrong with the mug on that photo. Look at those eyes. He's trying to intimidate you with his squinty eye and hypnotize you with his ocean blue starey eye.

I've never heard of Jerry Buchek. He was a regular for just one year, the starting second baseman for the Mets in 1967. This is the last card of his career.

My luck is starting to turn with the last two redemptions. I may ask to get some of these cards shipped yet. Lord knows, I deal with enough Mets collectors. Or maybe I can get one of those anonymous traders on the Million Giveway site to give me a Koufax for Buchek.

OK, one other thought and then I'm hitting the sack.

I'm thinking of putting Night Owl Cards on Facebook.

I don't have a Facebook account of my own. It doesn't appeal to me for what most people I know use it for -- to communicate with old friends or co-workers, etc. And I certainly don't want it so I can update people on what I ate or saw on TV. I believe that's called "pathetic."

But I'm surrounded by people who use it, and it seems that as another outlet for the blog, it would work and maybe give me a few more ideas.

What do you think? How many of you have your blogs on Facebook? How's it working for you?

Anyway, those are my babblings for now.

I'll be back with a more structured post soon. In fact I'm about to update one of my more popular posts.

But first: Sleep.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Adventures in photoshopping

I can't get too excited about photoshopping on baseball cards. As long as you're not rubbing out umpires or transforming an entire ballpark, I think it's harmless fun. It's been going on for decades, first with a simple paint brush and now with a computer program.

This is a 2010 Opening Day card of Roy Halladay. He's pictured working for a team for which he's never taken the mound in an official game. He was traded to Philadelphia in December.

Companies are getting better at "hiding" their photoshopping efforts, but this is one of the easier ones to detect. The cap and T-shirt colors are too dark. The name on the back of his jersey is just too big as is the uniform number (Halladay wore No. 32 with the Blue Jays).

I like that they put the "TV number" on Halladay's sleeve because the Phillies do feature TV numbers. I guess Halladay is supposed to be wearing a Phillies road unform, because their home uniforms feature pinstripes. But that uniform just looks too white to me for it to be a road uniform.

But all of that is just me hyper-examining the card. I have little issue with any of it. It's cool to see what Halladay might look like as a Phillie.

Here is my issue, if you can call it that:

Take a look at the registered trademark that often appears after the team logo. It should sit immediately to the right of the "s" in Phillies.

But it's not. It's making a break for it. It's crawling up Halladay's leg!

The registered trademark is alive!

All that photoshopping work and they can't even get the trademark in the right spot.

Friday, February 26, 2010

All work and no play makes night owl as dull as 2010 Topps Heritage

This weekend may be the busiest two days of the entire work year, and the next three weekends won't be any picnic either.

That means I don't have time for anything clever or thought-provoking today. All I can offer is a simple trade post.

I know. That's dull. But I've had to stare at 2010 Topps Heritage posts all week. So now it's my turn to dish out a bit of boring.

Fortunately, it hasn't been boring on the trade front at all. A couple weeks ago, transactions had trickled down to nothing. Then, in an instant, I'm scrambling to keep up. I'm starting to lose track of who needs cards from me. On Sunday, I hope to narrow that down.

Also, this weekend, I hope to put up a poll on what I should call the 2010 Topps design. I liked the suggestions in the last post and it's time to settle on a name. 2010 Upper Deck may take some more time.

Meanwhile, I've got a lot of transactions to show. I'll keep them to a few cards per trader to accommodate the ADD types.

I'll start with a single card that I received in the mail today from opoohwan of 2008 Allen & Ginter Card-scape. He pulled it. He thought of me. He dropped it in the mail. It's the classic American Card Collector Saga.

The patch cards are weird. Have I said that before? Yes I have. I am so not down with collecting something that was embroidered. However, it's Johnny Podres, and the World Series in which the Dodgers swept the Yankees. So, yeah, I'll take it.
More cards that I don't particularly enjoy, but when you team-collect, you cast your personal preferences aside. These two cards are from Noah. And since these are Legendary Lineage cards that feature two players from the same team, I can accept them. Meanwhile, I'm having a real hard time with the Lineage card that shows Manny Ramirez with Jimmie Fox.

Upper Deck X! You don't hear much about X anymore. Will there be Upper Deck X this year? I think if Upper Deck issues this for the next 10 years I may actually end up liking it. Yes, UD will have beaten me down.

This card came from Spiff of Texas Rangers Cards. He also sent a bunch of Orel Hershisers. I chose to feature this 1989 Score card.

But because I'm a word nut, I'm focusing on the back. Note the circled sentence.

"Suddenly, attention was paid him"??????

Any card blogger who is uncomfortable about his or her writing ability should look at that sentence when they need a pick-me-up. Nothing you write is that bad.

Anthony from Mike Pelfrey's Collectibles sent the Heritage High Number Garland card. Every time I write Pelfrey's name I want to put a "ph" in the middle of it. I actually have to stop and think before I type the name. Every time.

I'm still looking for the Sherrill and Wolf Heritage High Number cards. The more I look at 2009 Heritage, especially now that 2010 Heritage is out, the more I start to think I want to collect it. Then I think of all the short-prints and the urge goes away. But '09 Heritage has character. I like it.

Isn't that cool? Anthony sent that '07 Bowman's Best auto card of Russell Martin, too. I have 4 or 5 Martin auto cards. Just about all of them look like he signed only his first name with some sort of half smiley face at the end. Handwriting is dead.

Doc T of Baseball Card Recollections sent out a few cards that I claimed on his blog. Some were of the Fleer Ultra variety like this one.

Then there were some surprises like these Line Drive minor league cards. I featured the Bisons because I covered a few Buffalo Bisons games back in the day. Steve Swisher isn't a Bison here, but he managed the Bisons during the first Bisons game I ever saw back in 1986. I attended as a fan back when Buffalo played at the ol' Rockpile, War Memorial Stadium (where they filmed "The Natural"). The stadium was in an unfriendly part of town. It's a downright hostile part of town now.

Doc also sent some 1988 Score off my want list. Claudell Washington has a habit of being one of the last guys I need to complete a set. One of the last to finish off the 1989 Topps set

Kerry of Cards on Cards thought to find some '88 Score needs as well.

Those are some key cards in the set right there. He sent three different Mattingly cards.

I am now just six cards away from completing '88 Score. When I finish that fantastic rainbow of colors set, it will mean I've completed two of the most colorful sets of all-time, 1975 Topps being the other one. If/when I complete the 1972 Topps set, I will have completed the Rainbow Trifecta.

Those are some 1993 Upper Deck cards from Kerry as well. Another one of my favorite sets that I am wrapping up. Just nine cards to go.

The Bonds-Williams-Clark card instantly makes me like the set less. It sends shivers down my spine. I'm trying to find something good to say about them. Still coming up with nothing.

Last card. It's the final Dodger I needed for the 2010 base set. I've acquired a couple more of this card since I got this one. But I can never have enough cards of someone who will be the greatest pitcher of our generation. (No arguing!)

That's all I've got right now. If you sent cards to me and you don't see them here it likely means you're special and you get your own post.

Yes, I think the people who traded me cards that I featured on this post are special, too.

God, you're so needy.