Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A bunch of nobodies

I am trying to rid myself of the habit of referring to certain major league ballplayers as "nobodies."

I know it's a common phrase used by baseball fans. It refers to players who are on the fringe of the major leagues. They could be rookies, and others not so hopeful, who are called to the bigs. They could be pinch-hitters, mid-inning relievers, and late-inning substitutions.

But the phrase has gotten myself into trouble a few times. In this hyper-sensitive world, some people have objected to reading my reference of a player as a "nobody." The protests usually come from those connected to the player -- family members, etc. -- or those connected to the team, fans proud of their knowledge of their squad and eager to share it with the less informed.

I'm not trying to rid myself of the term because of those people. Those are their hang-ups, not mine. I'm trying to do so because calling players "nobodies" is in direct opposition to my collecting philosophy. I collect all players who have made the majors, no matter how "nobody" they are. While others go for only the biggest stars of the game or the "next big thing," I'm happy with the five-year veteran who manages 121 hits a year. So, while the mojo collectors have the right to say "a bunch of nobodies" without appearing to be a hypocrite, I can't do the same.

This became apparent through recent interactions with two different bloggers, regarding two current Dodger players. The first was the huge card package I received from Smed. It contained a Blake Hawksworth card.

(If you haven't noticed, I'm showing approximately a card a day from Smed. With about eight card packages ahead of his, it's going to take weeks before I dedicate a whole post to his cards. So this helps alleviate some of the guilt).

It is my first Blake Hawksworth card. My first card of the Dodger reliever, currently on the disabled list.

The second interaction was a communication with Spiegel. He was looking for a Jamey Carroll card as he had a signing to attend. I was able to turn up a card for him, but I realized that sending the card his way left me with just four Jamey Carroll cards.

It is very unusual for me to have so few cards of current Dodger players. And I then realized why.

The Dodgers are a bunch of nobodies!!!!

Because of a plague of injuries that is among the worst this year in the majors, and the warped spending habits of current Dodger ownership, Los Angeles is filled with players that are unfamiliar to anyone besides the biggest Dodger fan or fiercest fantasy league player.

To the vast majority, these players are a bunch of nobodies. As a Dodger fan, it is strange to have that term applied to my team. The Dodgers have featured some of the most well-known players in history, for decades.  Yet, they have guys named Hawksworth and Carroll on the team, and unless you live in places where these players once toiled, you have no idea who these people are.

So, in an effort to give these players a little publicity, and figure out the paltry number of cards I have for these current Dodgers, here is the cast of characters that I have called "nobodies" but no longer will.

How many of them did you know were on the Dodgers?

Rod Barajas: 5 cards
Cards as a Dodger: none
Position: Catcher
Why Barajas isn't a nobody: I am desperately rooting for him so I can win a blaster bet with The Lost Collector. It doesn't look good because he's batting .219 and has already struck out 40 times, but MLB studio host Dan Plesac happens to think he has the coolest name in baseball (and demonstrated why in a way that must have left spit all over the studio set).

Ivan DeJesus Jr.: 3 cards
Cards as a Dodger: 3 (if you count minor league cards)
Position: Shortstop
Why DeJesus Jr. isn't a nobody: Well, he's been the Dodgers' shortstop of the future for sometime now, although Dee Gordon has now taken that title. But at least DeJesus will always be known as the son of the guy traded for Ryne Sandberg.

Jay Gibbons: 4 cards
Cards as a Dodger: 2 (if you count minor league issues)
Position: Outfield
Why he isn't a nobody: I'm sure there are many fans that think Gibbons is long retired. A Mitchell Report mention, Gibbons has worked tirelessly to return to the majors and is getting a shot with the Dodgers, even though I think L.A. has better options in this area. Gibbons is one those players who appears overmatched just from his appearance at bat or in the field. I never would have guessed he is a former 100-RBI guy. But he surprises me. A lot.

Javy Guerra: 3 cards
Cards as a Dodger: 3
Position: Relief pitcher
Why he isn't a nobody: Of the Dodgers who have taken a turn at closer this 2011 season, he's about the last man standing. Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Vicente Padilla and Kenley Jansen have all been disabled. I couldn't tell you if he's the Dodgers' closer now. But there aren't a lot of options left.

Matt Guerrier: 1 card
Cards as a Dodger: none
Position: Relief pitcher
Why he isn't a nobody: Signed to be the Dodgers' set-up man, he has performed his job fairly well. Not spectacular, but considering the horrendous state of L.A.'s bullpen, he's an absolute shining star. Which is why I need a card of him as a Dodger, instead of this dark, uninspiring card of him as a Twin.

Tony Gwynn Jr.: 4 cards
Cards as a Dodger: none
Position: Outfield
Why he isn't a nobody: Gwynn's not going to get the playing time he got in San Diego or Milwaukee, but he's not a nobody to me because of a) his famous father; and b) I was correct in predicting that he would land the uniform No. 10, my favorite Dodger uniform number.

Mike MacDougal: 3 cards
Cards as a Dodger: zero
Position: Relief pitcher
Why he isn't a nobody: A former sensation with the Royals, MacDougal had some seasons with the White Sox and Cardinals that made me eternally grateful he wasn't on the Dodgers. Then, out of nowhere, he was. Just as surprisingly, his ERA is 1.45 in 23 games. But I don't know if I want to see him close in Dodger blue.

Aaron Miles: 5 cards
Cards as a Dodger: none
Position: Third base/second base/wherever scrappy guys play
Why he isn't a nobody: If Miles never left St. Louis, I don't think I would ever be able to tell him apart from Skip Schumaker, Brendan Ryan, David Eckstein, Adam Kennedy, Tyler Greene, and now Ryan Theriot and Allen Craig. But that's the "a bunch of nobodies" side of me viewing a team I don't follow from a distance. Now that Miles is on the Dodgers, I KNOW that he's a .280-hitting, respectable-fielding, not-a-lot-of-power swinging, should-get-on-base-more type of player.

Russ Mitchell: 3 cards
Cards as a Dodger: 3 (if you count minor league cards)
Position: Third base, first base, catcher, you name it
Why he isn't a nobody: I know he was just sent down and I know he didn't hit a lot, but I couldn't help but like him when he was in a Dodger uniform. He has a knack for doing the spectacular, even if you don't see it enough.

Dioner Navarro: 11 cards
Cards as a Dodger: 2
Position: Catcher
Why he isn't a nobody: It's really your fault if you don't know who Navarro is. He started out as a Yankee, was hyped by card companies as the next big thing, dealt to the Dodgers from the Diamondbacks in the Shawn Green trade, dealt to the Rays for some players that did nothing, made the Dodgers regret the trade briefly as a starter for Tampa, then fell on hard times, and is back with L.A. He's still great in the field. Not much with the bat.

Jerry Sands: 3 cards
Cards of him as a Dodger: 3 (if you count minor league issues)
Position: Left field
Why he isn't a nobody: In 10 years, there will be fans of the Brewers, Yankees, Braves, etc., collecting Jerry Sands cards, not because he has left the Dodgers, but because he will be a superstar in L.A. and people who must collect the superstars will be swooping up cards of Sands before us poor schmuck team collectors with limited funds can say, "hey!!!!!!!!"

Which is why he should be playing every damn day.

Marcus Thames: 3 cards
Cards as a Dodger: none
Position: Outfield
Why he isn't a nobody: Thames is pretty well known among even casual fans, but I bet a lot don't know he's on the Dodgers this year, mostly because he's been on the DL for awhile. He has the ability to come up with the well-timed big fly, but I don't know if he'll get that much of a chance with the Dodgers. The outfield is one of the few places to escape major injury issues.

I also have cards of other Dodger fringe players like Jamie Hoffman, Hector Gimenez, A.J. Ellis and Juan Castro. I think it's very cool that I can find a player's card in my collection when I suddenly learn he's on my favorite team.

As of now, there is only one guy who has played for the Dodgers for whom I don't have a card.

Reliever Rubby De La Rosa, brought up last week, has appeared in two games for the Dodgers. He was born in 1989!!!!!

I will have to look for a minor league issue of De La Rosa, which could be an issue, since he didn't even pitch for Albuquerque this season.

Congrats, Rubby, you're not a "nobody" anymore. I'm on the hunt for your card!

I'll still use the term "nobody," like when I'm teasing someone about the inadequacies of their favorite team, because that's just good, clean fun. But the truth is, if you're playing in the majors, you're always somebody.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Card back countdown: #4 - 1973 Topps

We have moved past the period when current or future major league players would serve in the military. The Vietnam War period of the late '60s/early '70s is the last time references to military service commonly appeared on cards. You'll probably never see it again. But as a child, it was nothing to see "In Military Service" on the back of baseball cards.

The early '70s was a time of change for ballplayers. While hippies and other counter-culture club members were everywhere in the '60s, it took ballplayers a little while to catch up with everyone else. So, the early '70s was a crazy mix of humanity on the ballfield, as evidenced by these 1973 Topps cartoons:

Some players served in the military.

So others could have the freedom to enjoy their degenerate, freaky music.

Or chase skirts.

Or marry in high school.

Or be really, really creepy.

But there were other straight arrows on the field in '73. Brainiac types.

Working-class Joes.

And crusaders.

I don't think Parker was quite THAT militant. I think he was crusading against the abuse of drugs, not the use of drugs.

The cartoons are the best part of the 1973 Topps card backs. They are featured more prominently than on any other Topps set of the 1970s -- right at the top. The cartoons are simplistic, but well done, and they give some nice insight into the ballplayers of the day.

The vertical nature of the card back is interesting as it's the only card back of the '70s to be featured in a vertical format. I'm not normally a fan of the vertical set up, but I really like the overall look of this card back.

For me, this card back is much like the 1972 Topps card fronts. This was from a set that came before I started collecting cards. I would see it here and there, and it became kind of the symbol of what a card back should look like, much like the '72 card fronts seemed to be the proper way to design a card front.

1973 was an interesting time of which I knew only a fraction. My whole world was Bugs Bunny and Scooby Doo back then, so I didn't know that Boog Powell was such a well-known figure that you could draw a giant belly and everyone would know that it was "Boog Powell."

Best of the set:

This card amuses me.

Racial stereotyping aside, I think looks were all Enzo had to go on when it came to Aparicio. Hernandez was one of the worst hitting shortstops of modern times.

(previous card back countdown selections):

50. 1978 SSPC Yankee Yearbook
49. 1993 Score
48. 1999 Skybox Thunder
47. 2000 Upper Deck
46. 1999 Skybox Premium
45. 1953 Johnston Cookies Braves
44. 1995 Topps
43. 1997 Fleer
42. 1992 Pinnacle
41. 1989 Bowman
40. 1977 Kellogg's
39. 2004 Topps
38. 2004 Topps Total
37. 1992 Topps
36. 1992 Donruss
35. 2008 Upper Deck Documentary
34. 1963 Fleer
33. 1955 Bowman
32. 2006 Topps
31. 1961 Topps
30. 1955 Topps
29. 1967 Topps
28. 1970 Topps
27. 1969 Topps
26. 1966 Topps
25. 1963 Topps
24. 1911 T205
23. 1962 Topps
22. 1981 Topps

21. 1981 Donruss
20. 1958 Topps
19. 1977 Topps
18. 1974 Topps
17. 1957 Topps
16. 1988 Score
15. 1993 Upper Deck
14. 2004 Upper Deck Timeless Teams
13. 1971 Topps
12. 1965 Topps
11. 1991 Studio
10. 1954 Topps
9. 1953 Topps
8. 1978 Topps
7. 1980 Topps
6. 1993 Leaf
5. 1952 Topps

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Team colors: Braves

I redeemed this Topps Diamond Diecut card a couple days ago. If you're keeping track -- and you don't have to because I will not allow you to forget with my constant yammering -- this is the fifth Diamond Diecut I've redeemed.

Don't worry. I am not tempted to go after the whole set. But there were times in my life when I would not have been able to say that.

For review, here is what I've done with the Diamond Diecuts I've redeemed:

1. Babe Ruth: Swapped it on the Giveaway site for a much more desirable Jackie Robinson diamond diecut, which is now in my possession.
2. Marlon Byrd: Swapped it on the Giveaway site for a 1962 Larry Sherry, which is also here with me.
3. Roy Halladay: Traded it for several Dodgers cards from '50s and a Duke Snider autographed card.
4. Reggie Jackson: It's still on the Giveaway site, fending off idiot offers daily.

That brings me to Tommy Hanson here.

I've got no interest in Hanson. He is officially in "what can I get for it" mode. Right now, he's my latest attempt to pry a Clayton Kershaw or Andre Ethier diamond diecut away from some collector. But this attempt, like all the other attempts for the Kershaw or Ethier, has so far been a complete failure. The folks who own those Dodger diecuts apparently live in mortal fear of trading on the site. It's very easy folks. You either hit "accept" or "decline." Don't be scared. It's not going to give you gonorrhea.

So, I'm featuring Tommy here in hopes someone might be willing to swing a trade with me for something desirable. If you have something I might like, you know what to do.

Meanwhile, I figured I'd do another one of these team colors things, even though I'm pretty sure Topps used blue and red for the majority of Braves cards over the years.

At least the colors are patriotic for a patriotic holiday.

Again, here is the rundown for the years in which Topps used colors based on the team featured on the card:

1964: light green
1965: green
1966: lavender
1967: blue
1968: lavender
1969: lavender
1971: light green, yellow and red
1972: red, light green and yellow
1974: red and blue
1976: blue and orange
1977: orange and light blue
1978: green and pink
1979: yellow and green
1980: orange, red and yellow
1981: light green and blue
1982: green and blue
1983: blue and purple
1984: purple and orange
1985: blue and light blue
1986: blue
1987: blue
1988: red, blue and yellow
1989: red, yellow and blue
1991: blue, red and yellow
1992: red, blue and white
1993: red, blue and gold
1994: red and yellow
1998: red and blue
2000: red
2002: red and blue
2003: red and gold
2004: blue and red
2005: red and blue
2006: red and blue
2007: blue and red
2008: blue and red
2009: blue
2010: blue
2011: blue and red

Braves team colors: blue and red (although I believe they're officially "navy and scarlet").

What Topps thinks are the Braves' team colors: Blue and red.

Still some holiday left. Go out there and pound some Budweiser.

(The tally: Blue-23, Red-19, Yellow-8, Green-4, Light Green-4, Orange-4, Lavender-3, Light Blue-2, Gold-2, Pink-1, Purple-1, White-1)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Jackie in GQ

It's my third Jackie Robinson post in a row! We're celebrating the Memorial Day weekend with all Jackie Robinson all the time! It's Jackie Robinson Weekend! More programming brilliance of the kind you've come to expect from the dedicated folks at Night Owl Cards!

Actually, it's just coincidence.

And there's only one folk.

And this is a poorly disguised trade post.

If you haven't figured out, every Topps card set put out in the last three years is lousy with Robinsons, so I could probably extend Jackie Robinson weekend into the Jackie Robinson Summer of 2011 if I wished.

Gypsy Queen is just one example of a set with countless Jackies. I showed the relic Jackie yesterday. There is also the Great Ones Jackie at the top of the post.

Here is the framed green paper Jackie that arrived from Shane of Off the Wall. I didn't mean to steal Shane's thunder by showing the relic Jackie before this one. But just about all of my life is out of order right now, so it only stands to reason that my trade posts should be. It's still a very cool card. And there's no wooden square obscuring the picture.

It often happens that I land some of these parallel cards before I get the base card. That's especially true with sets I'm not collecting, like Gypsy Queen. I do own the Jackie Robinson base card, fortunately.

But I do not have the base card of this man yet:

What a terrific card. This card arrived from Colbey at Cardboard Collections. These framed cards might be among the best-looking cards of the entire year. I can't recall such a vast difference between the base cards and the parallel cards in any other set -- except UD Baseball Heroes from a few years ago.

Both have agonizing, sleep-inducing base cards and terrific parallels. It's a formula that works, if you don't mind jokers calling your base set as dull as a day at the outlet mall.

Here are two of the base cards now. I could meh all the live long day about them, but instead I'll just ask why is Sandy wearing a mud pack? And move on.

Smed sent me these two cards, by the way. Along with a bunch more ... which I'll get to ... eventually ... probably during the Jackie Robinson Summer of 2011.

Look! A GQ Sick Scoreboard Card, in regular form and mini form!

Both of these came from Jon of Community Gum. I am very appreciative of them because, even though they're dingy base cards, they are also short-prints, which makes them, well, short-print dingy base cards.

I sure do like not having to chase these around. By the way, I hope Chicago or Cincinnati is putting a whooping on San Francisco in the background there.

More mini goodness from Jon (scanner cropped off the bottom of the card). This is the regular back Koufax. I pulled the red back out of a pack a while back. I was going to comment on what a pain different card backs are when coordinating trades, but that would just give the card back variations the attention that they're craving, so I'll stop right now.

Much more deserving of my attention. This card arrived from Community Gum, too. What a pleasing card this is. I like this a lot better than the A&G relics I have of Kemp, in which he's staring blankly at me.

Good stuff.

By the way, I still have the David Wright GQ relic. I'm still taking offers. Dodger GQ relics, or I'll even settle for a Cub GQ relic that I can ship to Jon.

Several of the above folks also sent me some non-GQ cards. Here are just a few in case you are all GQ-ed out:

A couple of notes:

The Pee Wee Pacific card has been a sharp corner in my side for awhile now. Many thanks to Shane for sending it along.

The same goes for the 1994 Donruss cards from Colbey. I never hear anyone say anything about '94 Donruss -- understandably. But I think it's the reason why I'm always forgetting I need Dodgers from that set.

By the way, I believe the pitcher exiting the mound so dejectedly on the Feast or Famine card is reliever Giovanni Carrera. It's an appropriate photo.

None of these other cards are from Smed. I couldn't possibly scan all of those in such a short period of time. But just you wait.

Gracious thanks to everyone who sent cards.

And to everyone else: go out and enjoy Jackie Robinson Weekend!

OK, I'll do it myself

It's been awhile since I received a Clayton Kershaw card in a trade. I did receive a couple from Project '62 recently that broke a prolonged slump. And I'll post them ... eventually.

But other than those two, it's been quiet. On top of that, I've noticed Kershaw's cards going up in price in the online shops. Nothing drastic. But apparently people are finally getting wise to the idea that he's something special. It only took them four years.

So, with everyone marching behind the Minotaur, I decided to do a little something and grabbed some Kershaw cards myself. Collectors collect, right? They can't wait by the mailbox all the time.

I didn't get anything flashy. I don't have the cash. So that means no autographs, no relics and definitely no patch cards (some of which are gawdawful).

But it does mean:


My favorite parallel of all-time! Zowie! I love the colored parallel. I hope it stays around forever.

First, I nabbed last year's Opening Day blue parallel of Kershaw. The only Opening Day blue parallels I am able to pull are of Red Sox, Yankees and Giants. That's right, I can pull OD blue parallels of only the Red Sox and my two least favorite teams. I have pulled multiple ones of each team. But no other team. The card gods definitely hate me.

Here are the Pumpkin Pie Parallels that Bowman likes to produce. I'm not crazy about this color, but I do love me some pumpkin pie. So I'll let it slide. Amd now I wish it was Thanksgiving.

And, look at the back of  the '09 Bowman parallel ...

... it is lucky No. 13!!

Now, here is some Gypsy Queen. From two years ago. When people weren't flipping out about it.

This black border mini Kershaw is phenomenal. I've had my eye on it for a long time.

Yeah, I got a little fancy. A Topps Sterling Kershaw from last year. I make it a requirement that I know as little about Sterling as possible. The card is fancy in that weird way that finger bowls are fancy. I don't understand the people who hang in that world.

But this?

This I understand. A purple refractor of my favorite player makes perfect, tremendous sense. This card makes me a proud papa.

So, that's my brief Kershaw splurge.

Hopefully, I'll continue to land some Kershaws through trades. Because if the dude continues to improve like he has, pretty soon, only this guy will be able to afford his cards.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Another tremendous Jackie

I'll keep this short. It's been a long week, I'm not pleased about some things, and I don't want to risk accidentally straying into vintage cards and inadvertently offend someone by my critique of their condition.

I received this lovely item from Smed. It was slipped amid the bounty sent my way in his fit of spring cleaning. I appreciate the gesture more than I can say.

Most people on ebay call this a bat relic. Smed called it a bat relic, too. It probably is a bat relic. Of course, the back of the card doesn't call it anything.

It's merely termed a "Certified Relic Card of Jackie Robinson." To me, since the relic seems to be wooden in nature, that reference, as it is worded, implies that Jackie had a wooden leg, since the relic is "of Jackie Robinson."

I have to say I have never read any reference of Mr. Robinson having a wooden leg in all my readings about him.

Yes, I know I'm being silly, but humor me for a second. Since a bat is not "of Jackie Robinson," then that leaves it open to just about anything. It could be a bat. It could also be a piece of table or locker or shelf or stadium seat or anything made out of wood that Robinson happened to walk past during any point in which he lived here on this earth. The text on the back is THAT vague.

Now, don't accuse me of not appreciating this card.

I am grateful for every last card that I have.

I love this card with all my might.

It will not leave my collection.

I just wish things could be a little more clear. That's all.

But that's a small thing.

Great card.

Tremendous card.

Wonderful of Smed to think of me and send it to me.

That is the important part.

I will cherish it forever.

It's fantastic.

This hobby is terrific.

I love cards.

All of them.

Did I mention how cool it is?

Did I mention how great Smed was to send it?

Am I clear?

Clearer than Topps?