Saturday, April 10, 2010

Nine is a magical number!

Nine is an interesting number. I sat around this morning thinking of as many groups of nine as I could (you gotta love weekends, people)! Here are a few famous 'nines'...

"The Nine". This show was living proof that you have to be careful what you dedicate yourself to when it comes to new television show experiments. "The Nine" was a show about some sort of bank robbing situation gone bad, and all of the people in the bank were ultimately hiding "what really happened" from the cops once the situation was nullified. So each episode would show you what happened from each person's perspective. The problem is, nobody cared, and I think it was about 5 or 6 episodes in when the show was cancelled forever. Nothing worse than losing all of that time for nothing. You gotta be careful. All of you "V" and "Flash Forward" fans have been warned.

The Brady Bunch. This is a transitional time for the bunch, as Carol started to go mullet, Jan went with braces (and developed a terrible complex, Bobby became so upset about losing everything that he became a very passive-aggressive hall monitor, and flooded the laundry room with bubbles. Cindy was busy getting picked on by the future Karate Kid nemesis, and Greg became a dope-smoking hippie wanna-be. Mike? Well he mysterious still has straight hair, but we all know how that turned out. I got nothing on Marcia, Alice and Peter, those cats turned out OK!

Nine-Inch-Nails. Thank you for destroying my hearing as a teenager.

Nine-ladies dancing. You know, when you type this into a Google image search string, you can get some very interesting results!

The Last Nine Innings...I have never ever heard of this book, but it brings up a good point about how important the number nine is in the sport of baseball in regards to statistics and the game itself.

Where is this post headed? Ask me eight more times and I will explain.

Nah, let me just explain. Last week I received a very generous package from Joe at Priceless Pursuit. The contents contained several unique cards that deserve a posting of their own, but also contained something I had never known card top-loaders.

Okay so maybe I have lived with my head in the sand, but just remember, I am still new at this stuff, so there.

Anyways, Joe sent me a nine-case of mini top loaders. Why nine? Turns out Joe has a mini of the Pope that he quite fancies, so he loaded him up.

These nine top loaders presented a very entertaining challenge to me. Could I go through my sea of mini-cards and locate nine, and nine only cards that deserve to be top-loaded. Game on!

Here are "The Nine"

Top-Left - Nick Markakis Carolina Brights mini 1/1 From Topps T206. I did some research and discovered that these Carolina Brights fall 1 in 1331 hobby (packs, boxes)?? Either way, it definitely takes the prize for top spot hands-down
Top-Middle - Cal Ripken Goodwin Champions Gypsy Queen Back mini. Mostly for aesthetic reasons. Ken Griffey Jr's card was also in the running, but there is just something knowing in Cal's expression that makes the card jump out.
Top-Right - Jason Varitek Goodwin Champions. It is the year of the Tek, after all (he should get a start any day now) and I love the cloud shots in this set. Several other Sox candidates were considered, especially the Pedroia with the deep red background, but this one won the slot.
Middle-Left - ENRON! Explanation. I work for an electric company that was owned by Enron. Yup, true story. And a bunch of people lost all of their retirements and now are rapidly aged and WILL NOT RETIRE. I can't say I blame them, but it certainly does not make advancement easy these days. My only other keepsake from the days of Enron was a ball cap with the logo that I gave to my brother, the stockbroker.
Middle-Middle - Nomar Garciaparra Goodwin - Again, aesthetically I love this card, especially the detail that went into the sunglasses. Very well done card.
Middle-Right - David Price Goodwin RC - pretty cool coloring and pose in this card, and a phenom to boot...or is he?
Bottom-Left - Joe Mauer Allen and Ginter 2009...mostly included because his MLB 10 The Show commercial cracks me up, and now that I have a PS3 and game, I feel like I am part of some exclusive club...still cant hit the curve ball though. Maybe Joe can.
Bottom-Middle - Vlad Guerrero mini Magician numbered 8/8! This is another totally unique card that found its way into the collection. I am still working on the rainbow for Vlad and am just a foil version away from completing it. If anybody has Vlad foil, please let me know!
Bottom Right - Finally we have a Heinrich Hertz mini. What is so special about the guy who invented car-rental agencies (fact check please), this card is a hand-numbered 37/50 from Allen and Ginter. Yay!
So there are the nine. They were all tough choices, but it was a lot of fun looking through them all again. Enjoy the day!

Friday, April 9, 2010


Hi all, I have been incredibly busy all day and have not had a chance to talk about Jacoby's Treasure Chest, or how I completely blew my prediction on the Atlanta-Chicago game. My advice is go to Vegas and do the opposite of what I predict. I mean, this the National Football League or something? I remember when the new Indiana Jones movie came out Burger King had this contest where you had a 50-50 chance of pulling the right sticker to win a free prize...and I pulled the wrong one on all four of our game cards. I always choose the wrong double-up at video poker, and look for the high fastball that turns out to be a sweeping low 12-6 curve ball...such is the way of things...but the season is young.

I did have a bit of a "what the hell??" moment when driving in to work this morning listening to ESPN radio that has nothing to do with baseball at all, but made my jaw literally drop when I heard it....

So Brad Stevens, the Head coach of the wildly popular Butler Bulldogs got a contract extension from his school today. Good for him, right? Where the jaw-drop comes into play is is good until 2022, in other words it is a 12 YEAR extension.

Are they serious? Is this guy Bobby Cox or Coach K, or that Gino dude from Connecticut women's basketball? A 12 year extension? I mean, I was like everybody else who watched the Sweet 16 and the Final Four, and then the showdown with Duke...but COME ON. 12 year extension is just begging for another contract breech fallout.

Think back to a few years ago (I know, it is hard to even think back to last week). Remember teams like George Washington. Remember Valparaiso? Sienna?

The thing is, these are not perennial teams. They are teams that drew the attention of the country and had enough decent players to make a run at the dance for a window of 2-3 years. The problem with this is...where are these teams now?

Now Butler MAY be around for a bit longer...but do you really believe that Butler is going to become an institution that all the high-school athletes are going to line up for. "Forget NC, Duke, or Syracuse...I want to play for Butler"..mmmm, no.

In my humble opinion, a 12-year extension is a BIG mistake that the university will regret. I bet even Brad Steven's jaw dropped when he got the offer. This has Mike Beliotti written all over it.

But again, I always seem to choose incorrectly, but we shall see.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Marquee Matchup: April 8th, 2010

It's time for another marquee matchup. My first result was a push. Lester almost pulled off the win, but in typical Yankee/Red Sox fashion, the game was far from over. I am just happy that the series is over. As a Red Sox fan, I love a good rivalry, but these games can really get to be a grind, and they are LONG. Seriously, these teams both played like it was the ALCS and the time of game was ridiculously long, so much so, in fact, that the umpire on Tuesday night did not grant several requests for time. ESPN dropped a story about it..... And good for them, because as much as I love my team, I don't want to sit an extra hour every game waiting for the drama to unfold. I mean, I even DVR'd Tuesday nights game and it still was long. Yeesh.

Anyways, that's a push in the ol' record column. Nothing really jumped out yesterday, so I sat pat, but today I am very interested in a particular matchup...

Matchup - Randy Wells (0-0) v Tommy Hanson (0-0). Okay, okay, so everybody know that I am a bit of a Tommy Hanson homer, but this matchup does warrant a bit of a closer look...

Tommy Hanson
The Lowdown: Randy Wells pitched magnificently against the Braves last season, allowing only 3 ER in 2 starts and a BAA of .184. Granted, this is a bit small of a sample size, but it should be noted that his one game in Atlanta he only allowed two his and 1 ER while allowing a measly 0.87 BAA. Of course, whenever you are facing a team for the first couple of times you are going to have them baffled, and that could all change this time around with a little extra scouting, but Wells owned the Braves in his two games last year.
Tommy Hanson, on the other hand is the #3 starter for the Braves, which speaks volumes about their rotation. Hanson did not even face the Cubs last season, which, if my former statement rings true, should mean that the Cubs will be absolutely baffled by Hanson and get shut down.
Hmm, to decide this one we are going to have to look at the the hitters. We know that Atlanta has won the first two games, are playing at home, and applying the pressure for the sweep. The Cubs are batting .196 for the series.
Prediction: While I do believe that the Cubs will rally and Wells will give it his all, I go with my theory on first-time pitchers. While I predict a low-scoring affair, I say that Hanson and the Braves SWEEP.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Marquee Matchup for April 6th, 2010

I do like a great pitching matchup. I am all about sitting down for every game and thinking that I could be a first-hand witness to the next perfect game. I love strikeouts, I love great defense, and a good pitching duel.

Yesterday I took the day off of work and was excited to be able to watch the aces go head-to-head. For the most part, I was pretty disappointed with the results. There were A LOT of runs put up yesterday, and most all teams showed some rust. There were exceptions. Halladay, Santana, and Lincecum looked stellar...though my heart skipped a beat when Lincecum called the trainer out of the dugout...for a fork to clean his cleats with. Don't do that to me, Smokey!

I think I am going to try a new feature, and if you get sick of it, or just plain don't like it I will shut it down. But being a pitching fanatic, I thought it would be fun to highlight a matchup of the day to keep your eyes on. Sometimes there might be more than one, sometimes picking one will be a struggle. Just to make it interesting for myself I will keep a tally on the sidebar for everybody to see how awful I am at predicting sporting events.

So for tonight's stanza, I want you to know that I have reviewed ALL matchups, and I am not just being a homer here, but tonight's Marquee matchup is Lester (Boston) V AJ Burnett (New York).Jon Lester

AJ (gas can) Burnett.

The Lowdown: On paper, this matchup looks pretty good, but a closer look show that in four games last season again the Red Sox, Burnett had a paltry 8.85 ERA while allowing a .291 BA and 6 HR's allowed. Even more telling? Three of those games were at the Fens, where the ERA jumped to an abomination of 14.21 with a BAA of .379 and ALL 6 HR's given up.

Lester? In four games against the Yanks, had a slightly elevated ERA of 4.43 with a BAA of .283 and 4 HR's given up. But you put him at Fenway, and the ERA dropped to .286 with a BAA of .240 and only 5 HR's given up ALL SEASON.

Of course you can't always look at last seasons numbers, and you can't win without the bats behind you...but I wagering that the Red Sox will be on an emotional high after Sunday's big comeback and be ready to pounce on AJ early once again.

Prediction: I'll take Lester for the win.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Opening Day madness, plus a SP offer.

Today has been a whirlwind of baseball activity. What began with last evening's entertaining first act has turned into a ton of action and incredible plays today.

I would have to say, that even though it is only day two, it is safe to say that we have already seen the play of the year. I have also witness the monster that is Albert Pujols, in a very entertaining game, and can safely say that J-Hey gave the fans a great debut. I got a little sick of the gushing that the announcers were heaping on Heyward, ala Brett Favre or Jon Gruden, but I have to say, the guy is good. He does not look like a 20-year-old rookie should look. He seems confident and powerful. Look out, National League East.

I also watched Gallardo, and while he did not look perfect, he would have had a chance if he would have gotten a little bit of run support from his teammates (sounds oddly familiar). Also, saw a bit of Santana mowing down Josh Johnson and the Fish.

Currently, it's my game of the day, Lincecum v Oswalt. The Triple Cy Young award watch begins today and he had a couple nasty K's in inning 1.

Tonight, I will check out King Felix and the Mariners and see what they are all about this season. It has been a baseball heavy day.

But we are here to talk about cards, and I want to toss an offer out there before I wave the white flag and send these cards to eBay. I have opened one box and scattered packs of Topps Heritage 2010. I have gathered nine shortprint cards. They are below...

For record, they are 429,434,443,452,457,470,477,484, and 487.
My goal is to find somebody who has nine shortprints that are on my 2009 Topps Heritage needs list. I am desperately wanting to finish that set and am about 30 cards shy at this point. Does anybody out there want to do a swap?
Well, back to baseball. Sandoval just pulled a Tommy Hanson (blowing a bubble on a play). Classy

Sunday, April 4, 2010

And we're off!

Well, strike up yet another topsy-turvy Red sox V Yankees matchup! The game just wrapped up moments ago and initially I thought that this write up was going to go a completely different direction. Here were my initial impressions...

Yeesh, can these two teams ever play a brisk game? This one clocked in at nearly four hours, not that there is anything wrong with that...just saying.

Things started ugly with some sketchy pitching by the Red Sox ace, a misplay off the wall by Ellsbury, and maybe I just play too much of "The Show" but even I know not to try to pick of a steal attempt at second when there is a runner at third. I used to double-steal all the time in MVP Baseball.

I got to thinking about Ellsbury out in left though, and to be fair, it must be tough to play the entire pre-season in Florida and just show up and have to suddenly deal with the Green Monster. I can let that misplay slide, but out of the gate I would say most of the rust belonged to Beckett.

But then suddenly the tides began to shift, and the Red Sox had three straight hits to left off of CC and were starting to get their timing down. Then it was time to go after that suspect Yankee bullpen. The rest is history as the Red Sox come back and win big. Tonight's heroes... Dustin Pedroia hit the game-tying home run deep over the Monster in the 7th inning, and also added a "take a breath" insurance run in the 8th inning...

Youk! Welcome to the cleanup spot. Youk delivered two doubles and a two-run triple that got the Red Sox momentum back in full swing. Also scored on the passed ball by Jorge Posada to go ahead for the first time all night and put the pressure on the Yankees.
Whew! What a beginning! My opening day is just under-way as well. I have taken tomorrow off and will plot and chart my course through several of the best pitching matchups being televised tomorrow. I am also going to use that time to get some cards organized and get some packages out the pajamas!

Gimmick Alert and Something Shiny!

Happy Easter/Opening Day! We all woke up this morning and watched and Jacoby ran around the house looking for "balls" (eggs). Seriously, everything that is round is a ball these days, and he likes them all, football, baseball, basketball, and this morning the Easter Bunny added a soccer ball to his collection. After all, World Cup is coming soon.

We are going to have some family over for brunch this morning, and then this evening is 100% dedicated to opening night at the Fens. Brats, potato salad, BOSTON baked beans, and maybe a little Sam Adams to boot. It has been the longest pre-season ever, and I am ready for the real thing.

In the meantime, I disappeared to the shop for a couple minutes yesterday to once again praise the owner for the incredible luck he brings me on packs and boxes. For no reason other than to purchase the prospect edition of Beckett and round out the purchase, I snagged one Jumbo of Topps. I miss that mustardy smell of the Topps cards, and I always have dreams of a silk pull or another nice hat relic.

Eek! Talk about great anti-luck! Here is the pull of the pack... Topps number 370 Super-Shortprint Yankee Pie In The....back of the head?? And what the heck is Bronson Arroyo doing in this card posing as a Yankee? Hmm, must be the "Hidden Bronson" variation. Start checking those Cincinnati cards folks!

Needless to say, this card had to be expelled from my collection immediately...if interested, here is the shameless plug. Equal opportunity for all Yankee fans.

Also yesterday, My wife told me the Easter Bunny had paid a visit, and after several lengthy hints I was able to locate a redemption from Topps! Not too shabby, since I entered it around the same time as my Upper Deck redemption. This came out of an ill-advised purchase of Topps Sterling one day at the shop. You will notice that I never did a post on it, and reason being that it was very uneventful, in fact I don't even remember what was in that box...

BUT, there was a redemption for a gold refractor signature #/50...

Dayan last look this guy is still struggling to prove his worth and I don't believe he made opening day roster for the Pale Hose, but really, this is an absolutely stunning card and really glows, and his signature is insanely nice looking. Some cards really work with sticker autos and this is one of them.

Well, gotta get ready for family. Have a great day, and for the first time this year....GO SOX!