Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fourteen Packs = Too Many Yankees

Just found out that “Justified” is streaming for free on Amazon Prime.  Well, free if you’ve paid for Prime.  Seeing how it has been getting raves for about three years I figure it’s time to start watching. So that’s what is playing in the background while I write up this quick review.

Not only is it Easter, it’s also technically Opening Day since the Astros are taking on the Rangers tonight. Luckily I have a few days off this week so I’m sure to catch an O’s game or three. Heck with three days off in a row there is a 36% chance I’ll fly down to Tampa to watch the opening series. Let’s take a look at some flights…….$487 one way? OK, looks like I’ll be watching the game on TV. Stupid spring breakers.

Now the cards:

Justin Maxwell – One of these days I’m going to start a fantasy team with nothing but Justin’s.  I’m guessing Mr. Verlander would have to be my top pick.  I’m pretty sure Mr. Maxwell will be available later in the draft.

Gerardo Parra – Yup, don’t know him. Gotta work on my National League players this year.

Carlos Gomez – He kind of looks like a hobbit or something here.  Almost Yoda-esque.

Jon Jay – his twitter handle is @jonjayU.  Feel free to follow. There is also a twitter handle @JonJaysButt Good for him (and his posterior).

Robinson Cano – He so happy! He is also one of three Yankees I don’t despise.  He’s a free agent next year.  Who throws the money at him and do the Yankees match or beat it?

Eduardo Nunez – Ladies and Gentlemen – your opening day starter for the New York Yankees!  Good luck with that.

New Age Performers Cano – It’s a Cano Hot Pack.  Seriously, six Yankee cards in the last two packs.  What have I done to deserve this?
Clint Barmes – BARM-es or Bahrmms?  Anyone?
Alcides Escobar – Escobar is part of the young core of players in Kansas City that have some Midwest fans hoping for the future.  Will it pan out? It’ll all depend on their pitching.  It always depends on pitching.

Best Card – Cano base.  Can’t beat a good smile.
Worst Card – Barmes. Just because I don’t know how to say his last name.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

After A Day Off We March On - And A Streak is Broken

Another weekend and another missed post. It does seem that the only thing bigger than this project is work.  Pesky, pesky work.  Blogging was much easier this time last year when I didn’t have a job to cut into my writing time.  Of course, I had no money and I’m sure I wasn’t the Duchess’ favorite person at the time (although to her credit she still married me). 

So we march on to the second half of the box.

Matt Garza – Oh Mr. Garza you are such the pitching enigma. No hit stuff one night (July 26, 2010) or barely get past the sixth the night before (July 20th, 2010). He’s a free agent after this season so it will be interesting to see if the Cubs re-sign him as part of the rebuild project or trade him for new pieces. 

Quintin Berry – Not to be confused with Quinton McCracken (although they were both outfielders).

White Sox Prospects – I bet my buddy Clarence, the biggest White Sox meathead I know, could barely name these two guys. Thing you find out when you look people up on the internet – Heath was suspended while with the Braves organization for clicking on an online prostitution advertisement. Kids and their money! 

Rafael Soriano – He stepped in for an injured Mariano Rivera last season and had a pretty good year as a closer with 42 saves. Which came as at a great time as he turned that solid season into a two-year $28 million contract with the Washington Nationals. Why teams continue to overpay for closers mystifies me.

Dominic Brown – A lot of hype for young Mr. Brown. It seems like the Phillies are counting on him to have a big year. Especially once Ryan Howard suffers his season-ending injury.

Alex Rodriguez – Another Yankee.  No matter how many more hits or home runs he adds to his career number there will be an underlying feeling that he was somehow a disappointment.

Matt Holliday – Short Print! I’ve never been a Holliday fan.  Some players you just don’t care for.  For me it’s Holliday.
Miguel Gonzalez – An Oriole! Finally – one in thirteen packs, what a hit ratio.  From free agent invitee to dominating the Yankees in the postseason all in six months. Yeah, I’d be pretty happy to!
David Robertson – My penance for pulling an Oriole card, three Yankees in a pack.  Uggh.

Best Card – Miguel Gonzalez

Worst Card -3 Way Tie for the Soriano, Rodriguez and Robertson

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Dozen Down and A Dozen To Go

Halfway home! Because I am bad at math I had some vague idea that this project would wrap up right around the start of the season. Instead it looks like it will run well past Opening Day, but hopefully be done before the NHL playoffs are done.  What a great week next week will be – baseball starts and the NHL Trade Deadline!  Of course, it looks like the Penguins are doing their best to win the deadline derby with a week to go. Well, let us look at some cards while we acknowledge that GM Ray Shero is better at his job than us.

Matt Thornton – Matt looks more like a 17th century fire-and-brimstone preacher than a ball player. I could definitely see him making Demi Moore wear a scarlet “A” on his shirt and casting out witches.

Michael Bourn – Pictured in his old Brave’s uniform because even Topps’ graphics departments are fast enough to catch his late free agent signing, I wonder if Bourn overvalued his talents a bit.  Not that he’s going to struggle to feed his family with $48 million, but I think he thought he was in line for more when BJ Upton signed his $75 million deal with the Braves.

AL Batting Leaders – The Happiest Card in the World!  Look at all of those smiles. Even Beltre is cracking a grin.

Red Sox Sluggers – Ha.  Will Middlebrooks. Sure over a 162 game schedule he would have hit 32 home runs, but it’s only one year.  Kevin Maas would have hit 43 home runs based on his pro-rated rookie season and you don’t see anyone putting him on a baseball card these days.

Mets Future Stars – More Mets without smiles.  Seriously, Familia looks like he heading to the gallows.

New Age Performers RA Dickey – I’m not sold on Dickey in the AL East.  The Blue Jays are the trendy pick to win the division due to their off-season moves, but winning the Hot Stove League is a lot different than besting the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox over 162 games.

Dan Uggla – Either he just struck out or they told him his favorite hair gel was being taken off the market.

Sergio Romo – Being so happy just looks illegal 

Best Card – AL Leaders – Bask in glad times
Worst Card – Mets Rookies 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

We've Opened a Tom Pyatt's Worth of Packs So Far (He wears number 11, get it?)

Eleven? I’m not even halfway yet.  Isn’t this turning into a long, drawn out process? Heck, the Lightning were still coached by Mr.  Boucher back when I started this and Bruce Garrioch’s rumors of him being on the hot seat were still being scoffed at.  By the way, is it ever a good thing to fire someone who looks like a Bond villain?

More on that later.  Now on with the break!

Corey Hart –I see this and all I think is, “Arf, Arf, Arf”.  Oh and Cubs fans do not like Corey Hart.

Kurt Suzuki – Born in Wailuku, Hawaii.  Someday The Duchess and I will be living in Hawaii.  That will mess with my hockey addiction (games at one in the afternoon!) but I think the trade off will be worth it. 

Drew Pomerez – Drew looks a lot like a guy I knew in college.  Link, tell me he ain’t a spitting image of a certain pitcher whose finger you destroyed with a line-drive up the middle.

Alex Rios – Mr. Rios stayed healthy last year and put together a career year. Will he duplicate it this year? At $12.5 million the White Sox hope so. The White Sox picked him up on waivers in August of 2009. According to ESPN, GM Kenny Williams also picked up a $56 jaywalking ticket on the same day. I wonder if he hit Rios up for a quick loan.

Brett Wallace- Please tell me this photo was taken at a Topps “Make a Card Booth”. Wallace is just some kid who threw a jersey on for a fake baseball card, right?  I did that when I was a kid at Boardwalk & Baseball (lets pour one out for a fine baseball themed amusement park).  Much to my family’s chagrin I rocked a Yankees uniform. In my defense I was a big Don Mattingly fan. What left-handed kid who played first base in the 80s wasn’t?

Jonathon Niese – Does anyone on the Mets have a picture where they’re smiling?

Giants – Rookie – Nope, still not Machado/Bundy

Andrew Cashner – “Yo dog. Can I borrow that knife?”  

Yonder Alonso – I was going to come up with a clever pun, ok a horrible pun, about Mr. Alonso hitting a ball out “Yonder”, but you don’t need to read that.  I’m starting to notice that most packs have two players from the same team in them.  Wonder if that was intentional by Topps or just a random happening.

Best Card – Rios.  Smiles are the best.
Worst Card – Arf. Arf. Arf.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Ten Little Packs Sitting On My Desk (And one Indian in the Deck)

We’re going to a slightly different format starting with this post. Frankly, posting nine different photos was taking a bit too long in my opinion and since most of the card fronts have been posted on Zistle already I didn’t see the need.
Plus the photos now look like the 3-card advertising panels that you can pull as a boxtopper.
Today’s cards:

Marlins prospects.  Soon these two players will be traded because they make too much money (i.e. more than $8.25 an hour).
World Series – I like it when they recognize World Series highlights in a base set.  Hopefully in 2014 there will be a different team that sports orange as a primary color.
Ervin Santana – Airbrushed glory on this one.  The Royals went all out on rebuilding their pitching staff and now seem to be a trendy “sleeper” pick.

Joey Votto – He’s got a bit of a Feldman look to him here.  As in Cory Feldman.
Justin Morneau – Wow, this card would not be out of place in a real 1960’s set.  Well except for the luxury boxes in the background.
Jeremy Guthrie – “Guts” is another starting pitcher for the Royals. He’ll probably battle for a spot in the rotation in April and then by July be their most consistent starter.

New Age Performers Kris Medlan – Seriously, it couldn’t have been the Machado card? C’mon Topps don’t you know who I am?
Matt Harvey – Don’t know him. Not gonna bother to look him up because he’s a Met.
Trevor Bauer – Let’s just call this the airbrushed pitcher pack.  Cleveland is also getting some minor buzz as a sleeper team. Heck they’re good enough that they cut Dice-K.

Best Card – Morneau, fantastic looking card. Might be my favorite of the set so far.
Worst Card – Matt Harvey. Just because.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

After A Litte Delay Pack Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine

Well, at least we know now what will derail this project – back-to-back 12 hour days at the office.  Fridays and Saturdays are fun at the hotel folks!  Especially when it’s a sold out night.  Well enough about work time to get back to the cards.  This is going to be a quick one (that’s what she said).

Seth Smith – Didn’t he hit a bunch of home runs for the Rockies during their miracle run a few years ago?  Now he’s in Oakland you say? OK.

Bret Lawrie – Smiling like someone just told a fart joke.

Phil Hughes – You’re too serious, son.  Lighten up.

Dexter Fowler – Not gonna lie, he looks like he’s been sitting in the dugout with Dave Parker.

Carlos Beltran – Still  going after all these years.

Kris Medlan – Don’t know him, but it’s another Brave in the pile for the Captain.

Mark Trumbo – Chrome-a-licous. Love the shiny. I wonder how many poor bastards are trying to put a full Chrome set together. 

Jason Heyward – “Curve ball, bats are afraid.”

Anthony Rizzo – A quick Rizzo story.  My place of employment hosted the Cubs convention this year (talk about a fun weekend of work) and with the way we were laid out the players had to come in the front entrance and walk through the lobby to get to the elevators.  Needless to say the autograph hunters figured that out quickly and set up camp in our lobby.

Rizzo came back to the hotel Saturday night and was instantly besieged by a gaggle (flock, pride, school?) of autograph seekers.  As we were kind of worried about his safety and his annoyance level and him not being able to get to his room we went out there and asked if he wanted an escort to his room.  He politely declined and then spent the next 45 minutes signing autographs as he slowly made his way across the lobby.  Good for him.

Best Card – Rizzo (big shiny trophy trumps Chrome)
Worst Card – Dexter Spicolli’s card. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Eight Packs? Only Eight Packs in?

Eight packs in.  One-third of the way through this project and I’m still drawing blanks when it comes to Orioles. Spoiler – there are none in this pack.   I know there are Orioles in this set, I’ve seen them on Zistle. This is the point of the break where I’m wondering if I picked the opposite of a hot box.  Which I guess would be a cold box, and another name for a cold box (“Boy, go to the cold box and get me a Natty Bo!”) would be a fridge.  So I’m thinking I picked the Fridge of Heritage Orioles boxes.  Well, let’s take a look at what I did get.

Drew Storen – I think his name should be Stu Droren.  I like that better. Who was the last MLB’er named “Stu”?  Stu Miller?  Well he played for the Orioles.  I think I have a theme for this break!

Juan Nicasio – I don’t know who this guy is, but apparently he got hit on the neck with a line drive in 2011.  So I had to look that up on YouTube. It took a bit, but I found some footage
Wow, fractured vertebrae.  That’s pretty bad. Speaking of pretty bad my pick for Oriole named “Juan” – Juan Guzman.

Wandy Rodriguez – A long time Astro who went from one bad team to another when he was traded to the Pirates. Seriously, I come up with a gimmick that lasts all of two cards? I don’t even know if there has ever been another Wandy in the league.  So we have to go with his last name. I chose Aurelio Rodriguez who played 45 games at third base for the 1983 team.

Carlos Quentin – I don’t have much to say about Quentin, he’s just one of those guys in the league. You recognize the name and think he’s better than he actually is because you know the name.  Then you look at the stats and see he is a career .250 hitter. I couldn’t think of any Carlos’ so I had to resort to the all time O’s directory and found Carlos Lopez who played for the team in 1978.

Ricky Romero – I’m pretty sure Romero has a 39-0 record in his career against the O’s (ed. Note – no he doesn’t). When I was growing up I always thought Chris Bosio was a stud because the O’s could never seem to beat him.  We always over value players that do well against our favorite teams. As for the Oriole named Ricky – lets continue with shitty pitchers and chose Ricky Bones.

Ben Revere – My that’s a large hat you have Mr. Revere.  Ben McDonald is the easy pick here. Not only did he put an alligator in a teammates bathtub as a prank, but he was also my sister’s favorite player for a while.

Adrian Gonzalez – Adrian is a little lost in thought here.  He’s either trying to figure out how much interest his millions are earning or if there will be any repercussions for his dad suing Major League Baseball.  Adrian Lynch played for the 1920 St. Louis Browns (precursor to the O’s) and went 2-0 in five games.  These days that would earn him a $4 million a year contract.

Scott Baker – Baker was signed as a transitional free agent by the Cubs this season.  One of those, “hey we’re gonna suck but we need to throw someone out there every fifth day” guys to get through the season.  Sadly he might not even make it to Opening Day as he’s been shut down with elbow inflammation.  Scott Erickson would be my first choice for Orioles named Scott.  Perfect style pitcher for Camden Yards – lots and lots of ground balls.

Juan Francisco – It’s a Juan hot pack! Another Brave for the trade pile. Juan Bell is my second choice for the namesake game.  Otherwise known as “Tito”, Bell was part of the big Eddie Murray trade with the Dodgers and was one of many thought to be an heir to Cal Ripken.  In the end he couldn’t even beat out Billy Ripken and was traded to Philadelphia in 1992.

Nine more cards down.

Best Card – Ben Revere and his giant hat
Worst Card – Juan Francisco who looks like he sat on a splinter.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Double Header of Pack Busting

Sometimes in life a little rain must fall.  If it happens during the baseball season and the game gets cancelled then you might see a double header the next day.  In the blogging life sometimes you are just too tired to make a coherent column so you skip a day (or in my case two weeks).  Since I missed yesterday’s post we’re doubling up today! That’s right, why bore you with nine cards when I can do it with eighteen!
Here we go –

John Jaso – A former Ray, it looks like Jaso will settle into the role of a journeyman catcher. He’s probably never going to hit for a lot of power or be a key cog in any lineup, but he gets on base and handles pitchers decently so there is a good chance that he’ll still be around when Heritage 2019 is mirroring the 2003 set.

Alexi Ramirez – When the Rays played the White Sox back in the 2008 playoffs the only player I was worried about in Chicago’s lineup was Ramirez (and that was in his rookie year!).  Hopefully he stays in town for a long time so Chicago fans can debate Ramirez vs Starlin Castro for years to come.

Huston Street – Street has struck out 488 batters and walked only 122 in his career.  According to the back of his card opponents only hit .214 against him in his career.  After watching Jim Johnson close games for the Orioles I wonder what’s it is like to have a closer who doesn’t allow three base runners every time he comes into a game.

Matt Joyce – Loved the Joyce for Edwin Jackson deal back when the Rays made the move.  Love it more now that Jackson is on his 65th different team.  His hometown is listed as Riverview, FL.  I had a buddy that lived in Riverview. 

Barry Zito – Zito is the warning poster for all GM’s wanting to throw a ton of money at a free agent pitcher.  I also knew a girl who dated Zito back when he was in the minors.  My friends know way more exciting people then I do.

Dodgers All Star Vets – Not only is Clayton Kershaw a pretty good pitcher, he has a great name. The 1964 version of this card had Nellie Fox and Harmon Killebrew featured.  Killebrew – also a great name. 

Baseball Flashback Yaz – It would have been nice if the Red Sox had won a World Series for Yastrzemski he just seems like a nice guy. I’m voting Joe Mauer as this generations nice guy who never wins a title.  Sorry about that Joe.

Ricky Nolasco – He’s still a Marlin.  I guess someone has to be.

Addison Reed – Love, love, love the big ol’ All-Star Rookie logo on cards.  One of these days (after I pick the right Powerball numbers) my life quest will be to collect all of the cards featuring the All-Star Rookie logo.

Best Card- All Star Vets
Worst Card- Nolasco.  I just don’t care about Marlins cards. 

Now on to pack two

Josh Willingham – Is this a baseball car or a casting photo for the next Bounty cover guy?

Bud Black – Manager card.  Uggh, The only thing I like less are checklist cards that are actually part of the set.

David Freese  - At six-foot-two is Freese too big to be “gritty”?  To me “gritty” maxes out at five-ten.

Bruce Bochy – Manager hot pack!  Wheeeee!

Kyle Seager – Yeah, not idea who this guy is, but I guess he’s the reason Chone Figgins no longer has a job in Seattle.  Do free agents count against the unemployment numbers? If a player is cut, can he file for unemployment?

Gordon Beckham – I’m well on my way to completing the White Sox team set. Yea?  Beckham strikes me as a “change of scenery” guy. He just seems to have too much talent to be hitting .230 in the majors.

Ryan Howard – I watched about 10 minutes of a Spring Training game during lunch yesterday.  Ryan Howard launched a home run during that time and for a brief, brief moment I wished I was back in Florida.  Spring Training games during the middle of the week were a definite bonus for living in that whacked out state.

Joe Blanton – How is this not a “action variation”? Blanton was a hot name in the Oriole land down the stretch last year.  I’m kind of glad they went with Joe Saunders instead, what with that whole winning the play-in game thing.

Jason Motte – Motte looks like a 7th year college senior in this pitcher.  “Bro, I think I missed a physics final today. Today worth it though.”

Best Card – Kyle Seager, ‘cause I learned about a new player today.  And it’s all about learning.
Worst Card – Tie between Bud Black and Bruce Bochey.

Seven packs in and no Orioles.  I don’t even think I’ve pulled a former Oriole yet. Hopefully they’re all hiding in the bottom of the box.