Sunday, July 31, 2011

Speaking of shortstops


It's amusing to me that the last two Dodgers I needed to complete the Topps Series 2 base team set were two shortstops for the Dodgers who are no longer shortstops for the Dodgers.

Of course, there's Rafael Furcal, seen earlier today making nice-nice to Albert Pujols during St. Louis infield practice. Be careful Albert, he breaks easily.


And there's Ivan DeJesus Jr., who's been squeezed out of his shortstop position by the Dodgers' new shortstop, Dee Gordon. DeJesus is now playing second base for Triple A Albuquerque, which is good because L.A. really needs a second baseman who comes with a future.

Both of these cards arrived last week from madding at Cards on Cards (that's right, a Cardinals fan sent me a card of a player who is now a member of his team). All that's left for me now from Series 2 are some of those blasted Dodger inserts, and of course some diamond parallels.

But it won't be enough for me to buy anymore Series 2, unless Topps has another clever packaging scheme like with Series 1 (Here's an idea, Topps: package Series 2 with Allen & Ginter or Lineage in one of those $15 value boxes. You will drain my savings this way. You're welcome).

Meanwhile, I'm still working on parallels from last year.


This is the refractor version of 2010 Chrome Manny. I pulled at least six regular Chrome Mannys from those rack packs last year, and even 2 or 3 xrefractor Mannys. But no refractors. Madding knew this all the way on the other side of the country and sent it to me.


This card need was a little more obvious. I believe I said right on the Cards on Cards blog that this was a Hideo Nomo card that had escaped me.


And I believe I received this card just so I could wallow in the idiocy of it all. These gold foil stamped "preview" and "first-edition" cards are a crime against collecting. Have I said that before? Have I said it 10,000 times? Because that's my goal.


Oooooooooooooooh. It's an on-card Johnny Podres autograph! Pay no attention to the smudge underneath his name. That's a scanner glass-cleaning issue.

This is very cool. I've been doing quite well with obtaining Podres cards this year, between the vintage and the autographs. Considering he is an immortal Dodger hero and that he grew up just a few hours from me, I think it's only appropriate.

By the way, Dee Gordon was 1-for-4 and grounded into a double play in his return to the Dodgers this afternoon. Meanwhile, the Dodgers traded outfield prospect Trayvon Robinson to the Red Sox (who dealt him to the Mariners). L.A. did pick up some farm system help in the Robinson deal, but I get nervous anytime Ned deals with Boston. Organizations like the Red Sox and Braves seem too smart, and I feel like they're fleecing every team that deals with them.

We'll see what becomes of catcher Tim Federowicz, pitcher Stephen Fife, and reliever Juan Rodriguez, as well as outfielder Alex Castellanos. Ned doesn't exactly inspire optimism.

A strange new era begins


Unless Ned does something Ned-like, the deal between the Cardinals and Dodgers is virtually done and Rafael Furcal will be hauling his 476-year-old body to St. Louis.

Raffy spent six seasons with L.A., which translates into roughly 1.45 years when you measure it in Furcal's time present on the field. A friendly warning, St. Louis fans: when Furcal is playing, you will be convinced that he is the most amazing player in all of baseball and puzzled why he is not getting his due. But when he's not playing -- and, damn, an entire country could go into and out of and back into a recession in the time he spends on the DL -- he is a frustrating, infuriating, old, old, old man, made out of glass and put together with model airplane glue.

But Raffy was destined to be gone by the offseason at the latest, so I just hope we can get someone out of this deal who can turn into a starting catcher, or third baseman, or second baseman, or first baseman.

I think we're going to be OK at shortstop. Dee Gordon was on a flight tonight to Los Angeles to rejoin the team. I really, really like Dee Gordon.

Gordon is an exciting player. I am obsessed with exciting players -- who isn't? -- and Gordon might be the fastest player I've seen in a long time. He can field, too. Now, all they have to do is get him equipment that fits.


Every time I see him, it looks like someone needs to pull him aside and say, "Son, you need to eat at least 10 times a day."

Anyway, I've been trying to grab whatever Gordon cards I can find this year, seeing as he's the Dodgers' top prospect and has finally hit the major league level.

Little did I know that I already had some of his cards -- three years ago.

Yeah, I'm an idiot.


Dee Gordon was known as Devaris Strange-Gordon back in 2008. It occurred to me that Strange-Gordon and Gordon were one and the same only after I read a blog post a day or two ago. I wish I could remember which blog it was to give it credit, but it's left my head.

That post prompted me to look up Strange-Gordon's cards and compare them to Gordon's cards. Sure enough, each said:

HT: 5-11, WT: 150, Born: 4-22-88, Windermere, Fla.

But then I read something that made me think that they weren't the same person. The back of the Bowman Strange-Gordon card says:


"NEPHEW of Phillies reliever ... Tom Gordon." Well, then, I thought, they're not the same person. Everyone knows that Dee Gordon is the SON of Tom Gordon.

So I assumed Devaris Strange-Gordon and Dee Gordon were cousins. Of course, this assumption was despite the fact that both cards listed each person as having the same birthdate. And, if I read the write-up again, I'd probably realize that "nephew" was written by mistake, especially after the write-up immediately goes on to talk about "dad." ... Yeah, I get to the point eventually. Sometimes it takes me awhile.

But this bit of confusion helped me get to the bottom of the story by doing a little more research.

It turns out that Dee Gordon, formerly known as Devaris Strange-Gordon, is not former MLB reliever Tom Gordon's blood son. In some horrible news that I never knew, Gordon's mother, Devona Strange, who was Tom Gordon's high school sweetheart, was murdered by an ex-boyfriend. Tom Gordon eventually gained custody of Dee Gordon and helped raise him.

I don't know why Dee Gordon dropped "Strange" from his name, but maybe it's because he's very comfortable calling Tom Gordon "dad."

All of this makes me root for Dee Gordon even more and happy that I was collecting his cards basically before I even knew who he was.

Now, all the prospectors and Dodger fans in California who can get Dodger news every single second of the day can have a good laugh about my discovery. I'm sure you all knew about this five years ago. Hell, probably Phillies fans who rooted for Tom Gordon knew.

But as a guy 2,500 miles away with no major league team nearby who really only focuses on major leaguers, I don't think it matters, as a fan, when you know the information, unless you're a fantasy nut. The competition is on the field, not in the stands.

And I like the Dodgers' ability to eventually compete with Gordon in there at short.

Welcome, Dee/Devaris.

Don't get hurt.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

When '70s pop schmaltz meets '90s card innovation ...


Delino DeShields, 1996 Pro Magnets.


Magnet on the back.



Raul Mondesi, 1999 Stars N' Steel.


Made from polished steel.


Let the experiment begin ...


Magnet placed on top of steel ...

And ...

...

...

...


They do NOT attract.


I think we haves a '90s card FAIL.

Oh, well.

Maybe DeShields and Mondesi weren't meant for each other.


Still love the '90s.

Still love the '70s.

Oooooo. Ooooooo. Ooooooaah.


(Thanks for the "card," Greg L.)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Gint-a-cuffs III: Out of its misery


I normally try to space out Gint-a-Cuffs posts a little more to give the A&G haters a break. But since I have only four packs left, and I don't like posting these things on the weekend, I'll throw this one post in and we can all say "Phew!" together.

One thing I want to know with this year's A&G is: where the hell are all the autographs? You used to get at least one per box. I can recall only a handful of people pulling an autographed card out of this year's version. What's with the difficulty? Again, I like A&G for the base cards and the crazy variety, but a declining rate of autos is not a selling point.

All right, enough whinery. Time for Packs 21-24, which historically have been the dullest packs of the box.

Observe:

PACK 21

50 - Carl Crawford, Red Sox (0 points)


28 - John Lindsey, Dodgers (+1 favorite team)

It's very cool that Lindsey is in this set after so long in the minors. But I don't get why Topps included him. He's hardly a prospect. His minor league career is listed on the back. And I quote: "One Thousand Four Hundred Forty Six" Games Played.

149 - Lars Anderson, Red Sox (0 points)
87 - Colby Lewis, Rangers (0 points)
173 - Mariano Rivera, Yankees (-1 for getting mixed up with the wrong crowd)


16 - Gordon Beckham, White Sox (+3 code card)

I believe these code cards replace short prints in packs. So, if you're not trying to crack the code and just collecting the set, these are your least favorite cards.


SRU1 - The Bed of Nails (+3 Step Right Up mini insert)

The write-up on the back makes it seem like this really isn't that difficult of a trick.


HH52 - Ian Kinsler, Rangers (+1 Hometown Heroes insert)

Pack 21 total: 7 points
Total through 21 packs: 190 points

PACK 22

292 - Wade Davis, Rays (0 points)
75 - Jose Reyes, Mets (0 points)
276 - Desmond Jennings, Rays (0 points)
22 - Michael Bourn, Astros (0 points)
215 - Andrew McCutchen, Pirates (0 points)


348 - Russell Martin, Yankees (+2 for short-print, -1 for immersing himself in Yankeeness, +1 total)


337 - Drew Storen, Nationals mini (+3 short-print mini)


HH38 - Andre Ethier, Dodgers (+1 favorite team, +1 Hometown Heroes insert, +2 total)

Hey! Dodger mojo is in the back of the box this time.

Pack 22 total: 6 points
Total through 22 packs: 196 points

PACK 23

249 - Carlos Ruiz, Phillies (0 points)


293 - Royal Wedding (0 points)

Ooooooooooooooh!


256 - Hunter Pence, Astros Phillies (+2 favorite player card)

183 - Mike Napoli, Rangers (0 points)


124 - Chad Billingsley, Dodgers (+1 favorite team)


AOM6 - Platyhelminthes (Flatworms) (+1 Ascent of Man insert)

My wife's favorite card and least favorite card came in the same pack.


PP1 - Antonio Meucci, telephone (+3 Portraits of Penutimacy insert)

This insert set stumps me, particularly this card. "Penultimate" means "second-to-last" doesn't it? Yet, all of these cards celebrate people who were the second to do something, as in "second-to-first." And then there is this card, in which Meucci was the first (ahead of Alexander Graham Bell) to come up with an electromagnetic communicator device. Either Topps screwed up, or it's too smart for me.


HH88 - Roy Oswalt, Phillies (+1 Hometown Heroes insert)

With the rough weather down there the last few years, we've heard about Oswalt's hometown a little too often.

Pack 23 total: 8 points
Total through 23 packs: 204 points

Hey! Over 200 points! Yay underachieving me!

PACK 24

65 - Ryan Howard, Phillies (0 points)
220 - Prince Fielder, Brewers (0 points)


209 - Guy Fieri, TV cook guy

I don't pay attention the shows he's on. Part of it is because I try to generally avoid men who have frosted tips. Also, with all the overblown personalities among cooks/chefs on television are regular cooks getting concerned that their profession is misrepresented? Yes, I think about these things.

41 - Carlos Santana, Indians (0 points)


109 - Martin Prado, Braves (+2 favorite player card)

I will not look a gift card in the mouth.


307 - Ryan Ludwick, Padres (+2 short print)


211 - Francisco Rodriguez, Mets (+2 A&G back mini card)


FF20 - USS Pennsylvania (+2 Floating Fortress insert)

Pack 24 total: 8 points
Total through 24 packs: 212 points
Total for the box: 212 points

I think among the official totals, and the others who have posted their totals, that puts me in second place overall.

However, I know there are many people who have not posted yet, including some who have a history of getting very cool boxes. In other words, they are not getting hits of Ian Desmond.

Still, I have a hell of a lot of fun doing this every year. And I'm sad every time it's over.

Thanks, Gint-a-Cuffs for another enjoyable summer.

I plan to post an Allen & Ginter want list in the next few days.

I already know I need two Clayton Kershaw cards.

Sheesh.

Cardboard appreciation, the review 2 (part 4)


Greetings from the '70s!

A heartfelt thank you for voting for my childhood, Buick Skylarks, and strange photography. The Luis Alvarado card has advanced out of the first round in the Cardboard Appreciation, the Review 2 contest.

It even beat out the '74 Steve Garvey card, which is very impressive. To be honest, I probably would have picked Alvarado over Garvey as well. That's how much I enjoy the awkward '70s.

Here are the final votes:

1. 1973 Topps Luis Alvarado - 18 votes
2. 1974 Topps Steve Garvey - 14 votes
3. 1954 Topps Jim Gilliam - 4 votes
4. 1991 Topps Oscar Azocar - 4 votes
5. 1995 Upper Deck Wonderful Terrific Monds - 3 votes
6. 2010 Bowman Chrome Bo Bowman - 3 votes
7. 1975 Topps Bobby Murcer - 2 votes
8. 1982 Topps Traded Cal Ripken Jr. - 1 vote

That's right. The Topps Traded Ripken received just one vote. I like my readership.

The next group of first-rounders isn't nearly as strong as last week, unfortunately. I expect a certain card to run away with the voting. But the poll has proven me wrong multiple times.

So here is what you're looking at this time:


1. 1991 Line Drive Jerry Manuel: I have a card of Manuel as a player, a minor league manager, and a major league manager. I think it's funny that it declares Manuel as a "pre-rookie" when his major league career was 15 years before this card was made.


2. 1974 Topps Don Hood: Hood looks like Burt Reynolds on virtually all of his cards. Look it up.


1999 Flair Showcase Gary Sheffield: I really want to do a countdown of the most over-the-top cards ever made, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to afford the cards that made the countdown.


4. 1955 Topps Jackie Robinson: OK, show's over. Should I even reveal the rest of the cards? Who would vote against a '55 Jackie? Only people who punch kittens on the way to work.


5. 1979 Burger King Tommy John: Burger King was the traded set that wasn't a traded set. The BK cards were probably the most coveted cards when I was a kid.


6. 2006 Topps Opening Day Justin Huber: Huber is in the Opening Day set, but not the Topps base set, and I blamed Alex Gordon. Well, actually I blamed Topps.


7. 1978 Topps Rookie Shortstops: This card is more than Molitor and Trammell to me. But I admit, it signaled the start of rookie card mania in my home. Before Rickey. Before Ripken. Before Mattingly.


8. 1988 Score Game Breakers, Mattingly and Clark: A fellow Dodger fan asked me the other day: "Do you think they'll keep Mattingly?" Geez, is it really his fault?

OK, the poll is up on the sidebar. Vote for Robinson, or, uh, someone else, you kitten punchers.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gint-a-cuffs III: Cranky, Sleepy, Dopey and Ian


They're putting in new curbs on my street. You would not believe the noise outside my windows at before 9 in the morning.

So, since I'm up, this post is being produced bright-and-early even though it won't appear until the final hours of daylight. As you read this, keep in mind that I can barely hear myself think as I type (at least I think I'm typing, I can't HEAR anything besides "rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat-a") out the latest installment of Gint-a-Cuffs.

It's time for packs 17-20. When we last left off, I had 144 points, which is since corrected to 146 because numbers ain't my bag.

Onward ...

PACK 17

297 - Travis Hafner, Indians (0 points)
268 - Dallas Braden, Athletics (0 points)
96 - Daniel Boulud, french chef (0 points)

I'm not showing the card of Boulud because he doesn't need any more publicity. The write-up on his card is like twice the size of most of the non-player cards and reads like Boulud wrote it himself. It even gives his website at the end.


164 - Heather Mitts, U.S. soccer player (0 points)

Heather has a website, too. But Topps didn't advertise that. She's a lot more lovely than chefy boy.


AGR-IDE Ian Desmond, Nationals (+10 jersey relic)

Stupendous. A gray swatch of a National. Good luck to night owl on trading that.

However, I do not buy boxes of A&G for the hits. I buy it for the greatness of the A&G set, where the base cards RULE. And, yes, that was a pep talk for myself.


270 - Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox (+3 mini of a favorite player). YOOOUUUUKK!!!!


HH14 - Carl Pavano, Twins (+1 Hometown Heroes insert)

I guess Pavano is what happens when you limit a set to only U.S.-born players.

Pack 17 total: 14 points
Total through 17 packs: 160 points

PACK 18

254 - Denard Span, Twins (0 points)
56 - Scott Kazmir, Angels (0 points)
31 - Jimmy Rollins, Phillies (0 points)


235 - Cole Hamels, Phillies (+2 favorite player card)

117 - Jonathan Sanchez, Giants (0 points. I'm glad I'm not running this show. I'd have given myself minus 1,000 points for this joker)


337 - Drew Storen, Nationals (+2 short print)


240 - Matt Holliday, Cardinals (+2 A&G back mini)

Holliday looks like a meathead. Is he a meathead? He plays for all the far-away teams. I don't get a handle on those guys.


HH7 - CC Sabathia, Yankees (+1 for Hometown Heroes insert, -1 for wearing jammy pants, 0 total)

I have no idea why I scanned that card.

Pack 18 total: 6 points
Total through 18 packs: 166 points

PACK 19


30 - Hanley Ramirez, Marlins (0 points)

Marlin No. 8! Is that the entire Marlin team set in one box? I'd look at the checklist, but it's too early for me to be reading such tiny print.

10 - Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (0 points)
51 - Tim Collins, Royals (0 points)


223 - Chuck Woolery, game show host (0 points, but ...)


Peek-a-boo!!!!

A female in the pack! So +1 for the Woolery card.

232 - Picabo Street, U.S. gold medal skier (0 points)

157 - Corey Hart, Brewers (0 points)


41 - Carlos Santana, Indians (+3 black border mini)


HH98 - Clay Buchholz, Red Sox (+1 Hometown Heroes insert)

Thank goodness the image is far away.

Pack 19 total: 5 points
Total through 19 packs: 171 points

I'm slowing down ...

PACK 20

62 - Alfonso Soriano, Cubs (0 points)
97 - Zach Britton, Orioles (0 points)
63 - Neil Walker, Pirates (0 points)
158 - Billy Butler, Royals (0 points)


BHS-24 Jason Heyward, Braves (+3 Baseball Highlight Sketch, +2 favorite player card, +5 total)


312 - Cody Ross, Giants (+2 short print)


UG5 - The Amityville Haunting (+3 Uninvited Guests mini)

I read the book when I was too young. Not a pleasant couple of nights after that.


MMF21 - Robert Fulton, steamboat builder (+2 Minds That Made Future insert)

Pack 20 total: 12 points
Total through 20 packs: 183 points

Four packs to go to reach 200. With any chance of winning long gone, that is my only goal.

OK, by the time you're finished reading this I'll really be in a desperate need of sleep. Hopefully, I didn't do anything crazy in my cranky, deprived state.