A blog about baseball cards... and the Padres

Saturday, April 28, 2012

2 = Better Than 1

The Padres haven't been known as an offensive juggernaut since... I don't know... ever?  I guess in 1998 they had some pop, with Greg Vaughn and Ken Caminiti (Steve Finley and Tony Gwynn obviously weren't slouches either), but the Padres of more recent memory succeed when their pitching is shutting the opposition down and the offense manages to scrape together a few runs.

During this time, they've gone through a plethora of hitting coaches (apparently, it's been their fault that the Padres couldn't hit), including Dave Magadan, Wally Joyner, and Randy Ready.   This year, they have apparently decided that the problem might not necessarily be quality, but quantity.  They've promoted Phil Plantier from the minors and brought in Alonzo Powell to be the assistant hitting instructor.

I'm not saying that the team has done great offensively, or even very good.  However, here's me looking on the bright side:

  • They've only been shut out twice so far.
  • Chase Headley is off to a hot start, already matching the number of HR's he had all last season (4).
  • Yonder Alonso leads the squad with 7 2B's, something we'd been hearing that he was capable of doing.
  • Nick Hundley, after a miserable start of 0-21, has gone on a 15 for 38 tear (.395), raising his average to .254.
  • Orlando Hudson is on a 10 game hit streak that nobody saw coming, silencing the critics (for now).
 Don't know much about Powell, but I remember Phil back when he played for the Pads in the 90's.  Don't remember him being a particularly good hitter, but I thought his cards looked good.  His best year was in 1993, when he hit 35 HRs and had 100 RBI with a .240 average.  He ended his eight year career with a .243 average and 91 HRs.  I really love the brightness of the colors from the 1993 Upper Deck set, with the exception of the Florida Marlins cards.  The colors were so bright, they almost hurt your eyes.  Havta take a look at those here on the blog further down the road.

Hopefully the offense can continue improving and win their first series this weekend against San Francisco.  As I type this, they are ahead 1-0 against Tim Lincecum in the top of the 6th.  Seriously loving that Hundley has found his groove at cleanup.

Friday, April 27, 2012

1st Trade

One of the reasons for starting this blog was to be able to share with other collectors and possibly make some deals.  While there are some things in the works, my first trade in... 15 years (maybe more?) was yesterday in my class.  One of my students brought me a Ryan Braun Upper Deck "Rookie Card of the Month" from 2007.  Not really a Braun fan at all, and can't say that the card is super awesome, but I thought it was cool that one of my kids thought to bring it to me.  He actually wanted to just give it to me, but I have a box of cards in my desk labeled by team, so I opened it up and gave him a card from the same team.  I tried to find something good, but the best one I could come up with was a Zack Grienke Topps card from last year.  He still seemed pretty stoked that I felt like giving him something in return for what he wanted to just give to me.

I guess I've just made the first Ryan Braun addition to my personal collection.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cards from 1992: Pinnacle

Just updated the wants section to include some needs from the 1992 Pinnacle set.  I loved these cards when I was a kid.  Something about the black border made it seem so cool.  I learned later the benefits of having a card with a white border; the wear didn't show as much.  Needless to say, the ones that I still have from when I was eight are beat up pretty good, but I found a box of Series One on eBay for a decent price, so I snatched it up.

I don't think (right now) that I'm much of a set builder, more of a team set collector.  It's a little easier to build sets from the 90's, since they're a little cheaper now, so if I see a good deal somewhere on a box, I'll pounce.  For some reason, I'm really drawn to cards from 1992.  Not so much that they're all great, mostly because thats when I really started collecting cards.  Oh, nostalgia.

What do these three cards have in common?  At one point in their careers, they were on the Padres.  Ozzie, of course, started off in San Diego, until he was involved in the trade with St. Louis that brought us Garry Templeton.  Greg Vaughn was a part of the best Padres outfield ever in 1998, the year they went to the World Series (Vaughn in left, Steve Finley in center, Tony Gwynn in right).  And Bud Black is currently the manager of the Pads.  I have a whole binder dedicated to players who were Padres but weren't actually Padre cards.  It's pretty fun to put those together, to think of what happened before/after they were in San Diego.

Anyways, came across this, a commercial for the 92 Pinnacle set.  We didn't have cable when I was a kid, so I missed out, but they were able to hook me in regardless.  Wonder how great Rickey Henderson thought this commercial was...


Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Kyle Blanks is back on the DL, and it looks like he'll be there for a long time.  He missed time in spring training and only had five at bats this season, and he'll be undergoing season-ending surgery to "repair a significant tear in the labrum," according to the team's website.

Blanks was chosen by the Pads in the 46th round of the 2004 draft, and was one of the Padres highly touted prospects, although he often struggled to stay healthy when he made it to the majors.  He's a big guy (6'6", 270 lbs.) who has the body of a first baseman, but was put in the outfield when Adrian Gonzalez was manning that position.  Watching him play, I was surprised by his speed in the field, but it was the bat that he struggled with the most, hitting .219 with 20 HR and 63 RBI in parts of four seasons (425 ABs).

I really liked Kyle, and was hoping that he'd be able to put a good start together, especially with Carlos Quentin starting the season on the DL.  It looks like he's done for the year, and it's unsure how much longer the Padres are going to try to make the relationship work.  His minor league stats indicate that he's on the brink (.305 AVG, 88 HR, 383 RBI over 541 games), but staying healthy and producing in Petco has been an issue.

This is Kyle's card from the 2011 Topps set, which I thought looked really cool.  When I went to Spring Training this year with my brothers, we were able to get his autograph before their game in Peoria against the Royals, and he seemed like a super nice, quiet guy.  Not sure why he signed so close to the Rawlings logo though!  I'm pulling for him to recover quickly and be back on the squad for next season.  Good luck Kyle!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Farewell Pudge

Today Ivan Rodriguez calls it quits in Arlington, where he started his professional baseball career as a 19 year old.  I was a huge fan of Ivan's growing up, being a catcher in Little League and Pony League.  I was a pretty lousy hitter once they started throwing breaking balls, but I was a good catcher and had a strong arm, so I always dreamed that I'd be able to gun runners down like Rodriguez one day.

I'd call him a first ballot HOF'er, but I don't know how much being surrounded by the steroid culture in Texas will hurt his cause.  13 Gold Gloves?  Something like 46% caught stealing percentage for his career.  Certainly passes the eye test.  I can't imagine any of those 'roided out hulks crouched down for half the game and still being halfway decent.  But I might also just be a Pudge homer.

I wonder who is more widely known as "Pudge", Rodriguez or Fisk?  Fisk was on the tail-end of his career when I was a kid, so Rodriguez was the one who I followed more, but Fisk would probably (definitely?) be the better known.

I pulled this card a few days ago from a couple of packs of 1992 Topps Stadium Club.  I have a bunch of well-worn cards from '92, and the TSC from that year is one of my favorites, both from a photography as well as a nostalgia standpoint.  Sometimes the photos seemed a little dark or they cut out some of the action, but there were some really good shots thrown in there.  I really like that there isn't a border around the card, although it made it easy to see if there was any damage to the sides and corners, so most of the ones I have from when I was eight are pretty beat up.  Thought it'd be a good time to cover it, since it's my most recent I-Rod acquisition.

LOVE this shot of the old Comiskey Park.  I've never been there, but I have
been to the new US Cellular Field, and it surprised me to see that they kept
the same theme on the scoreboard.
Griffey cards in '92 were like gold.
Not really a Griffey fan, but really
like this one

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Almost a Streak

Who's batting cleanup for the Pad Squad?  The same guy who started the season 0-21.  I was skeptical at first, but Nick Hundley has brought his average up above the Mendoza Line and powered San Diego to their second consecutive win, their 5th of the season.  By going 2-3 with a home run, a triple, and four ribbys, Nick brings his average up to .213.  Might seem like I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill (or out of a pebble in the road), but for a guy who looked like he couldn't buy a hit at the beginning of the season, it looks like he's breaking out of the slump.

It was enough to get Anthony Bass his first W of the season, the 3rd of his major league career.

From what I can tell, Nick calls a pretty good game and is an asset to the staff, so I look forward to him being the guy behind the plate for a while.  Not sure how Yasmani Grandal, the young stud that we got from the Reds in the Latos deal fits into the picture, but hopefully it all translates to numbers in the Wins column.

Can't beat the digital camo in Nick's card, the gold parallel from this years Topps, which I thought was appropriate for today since it was the Padres' Military Opening Day.  A lot of people knock the camo uni's, but I think it's a great tribute to the armed forces, and gives the game a San Diego flavor.  Anthony's card is a Bowman Chrome from 2010 that I picked up in the "40 cards for $1" Bin at a card show a while back.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Win No. 4

Stop the presses!  Not only did the Padres win today, but they were able to beat Roy Halladay!  I guess that's why they play the game.  That brings the Padres record to 4-12.  Avoided the sweep at home and now looking to split the series tomorrow.

Now, the Phillies are having a tough time scoring runs right now (7-8), but they're no slouches, either.  Cory Luebke pitched a gem, going eight shutout innings and giving up just two hits, out-dueling Doc.  The Padres faithful are expecting big things from Cory after he was extended a contract for $12 million until 2015, with club options for the '16 and '17 seasons.  The club obviously have confidence in him, which is one of the reasons they felt alright about dealing away Mat Latos (a trade that hasn't gone so well for Cincinnati so far, although the Padres aren't faring much better).

He pitched great tonight, although it wasn't the BEST outing of the night.  Congrats to Philip Humber on his PERFECT GAME.  The White Sox are tied with the Rangers as my second favorite team to follow, and I was stoked to hear how well he did, and not super surprised.  I had him on my fantasy team last year and he killed it for me (League Champion!).  I actually almost picked him yesterday off the Free Agent list, but the leads that I have for both of my teams are insurmountable, so I didn't worry about it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Steve Garvey JHS

Steve Garvey was a great player.  He was known for his play on the (ugh...) Dodgers, but one of his most famous home runs (at least for Padre fans) came in 1984 against the Cubs that sent the Padres to their first World Series.  A very important hit in the history of the franchise, but is it enough to look past the fact that he spent more than a decade (14 years) on the rival Dodgers?

For most people it is.  I'm one of them.  Now that the group fronted by Earvin Johnson (yeah, we're on a first name basis) has bought the Dodgers, rumor has it that Steve Garvey may be interested in doing something similar for the good guys.  I personally wouldn't care if a group led by Jessica Simpson, John Rocker, and Fidel Castro bought the Padres, if it meant that they'd have money to get some good players/keep the good players that they'd developed.

This isn't an original 1985 Topps card, but a reprint from last years Topps set, celebrating their 60th anniversary.  Oh, if you live in Lindsay, CA (about 300 miles north of Petco Park), you have probably driven past Steve Garvey Junior High School.  Padre fans up there???  Probably not...

Chasing Everybody

Well, I wasn't expecting the Padres to have  GREAT year, but I was hoping they'd start of a little better than 3-11.  After a series opening loss to the Phils (2-0, only managing to scrap together four hits), the Padres future this season is looking pretty bleak.  Cameron Maybin has struggled out of the gate, their middle infielders are looking aged, and the pitching has dropped off since Mat Latos, Aaron Harang, Mike Adams, and Heath Bell have left.

However, one of the bright spots in the Padre lineup has been Chase Headley.

A lot of people have had it in for Chase after failing to live up to the hype (a la Sean Burroughs) the past few years.  He's looking to change some minds this year, it seems.  After hitting only four HRs last year, Chase has equaled that total in the first 14 games.  He leads the Padres in most offensive categories (not as difficult as it might be on other teams, but still) and is batting a robust .292 after going hitless in the first three games of the season (broke the drought with a grand slam as they also won their first game, 8-4 against the Dodgers).

On top of having a sweet 2011 Allen & Ginter card, Chase is a pretty nice guy.  My brothers and I went to Padres spring training this year, and he was the first one out of the dugout before the game signing autographs.  I'll post about that trip (and the autographs we - mostly my little brother - got) later.

Ironically (or coincidentally?  not sure) for having a first name like Chase, Headley has proven to be a pretty selective hitter this year, garnering 11 walks so far.

Hopefully the Pad Squad can turn it around tomorrow against... Cole Hamels?  I've found myself rooting against the Twins the past few games just so that the Padres don't have the worst record in baseball, but it's a long season, hopefully we won't be chasing the third place team come summer time (Get it?  CHASE-ing?  Because his name is CHASE Headley?  Oh, you missed it because you didn't read all the way down to the end... missed out...)

BTW, this is my only Chase Headley card, and if you have any others that are looking for good homes, let me know, we can try to work something out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Baseball Fever

Called in sick to work today, unfortunately not with "baseball" fever.  My daughter is 14 months old and running a temperature.  She's usually a super happy baby, but has been miserable for the the past few days, so we thought it'd be better for me to stay home from school today instead of sending her off with the sitter.

Bob Welch pitched in the majors for 17 years, splitting time w/the Dodgers and Athletics.  He was an All Star selection in '80 and '90, and won the AL Cy Young in 1990 as well.  He was a member of World Series championship teams A's in '81 and '89, and won a third World Series as the Diamondbacks pitching coach when they won in '01.  Remember the World Baseball Classic?  He was also the pitching coach for the Netherlands in 2006.  I'm sure everybody already knew that.

Of course, the reason for profiling Bob's '92 Upper Deck card is for the picture on the back.  I'll assume that's his kid, and he looks only slightly older than my daughter.  Not sure how many kids Welch has, but in 2008, his son Riley was drafted by the A's in the 34th round.  If that's him, he made it onto a baseball card faster than most kids his age.

After looking it up, I was surprised to see all the teams "Santos" Alomar played for.  Being a Padre fan, I knew that he started out in San Diego (as many other all-star caliber players), and I will always think of him as an Indian.  He left Cleveland after ten years in '00, and went on to play for the White Sox, Rockies, Rangers, Dodgers, and Mets.  He obviously considered the Indians his family, and he is currently the bench coach in Cleveland.  La familia Alomar is one of baseballs greatest families, and seeing Sandy's '92 Donruss Triple Play card makes me wonder how close they were to making it a tri-generational baseball connection.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

1st post

When I was a kid, I had a 3rd grade teacher who would pass out baseball cards as a little motivation to keep us excited and participating in the class.  After that, I was pretty well hooked on baseball cards until i got into high school and got disinterested.

Now, I myself am a teacher and have started using one of the same tactics that worked so well on me.  After getting my old cards sent to me from my parents house, I also started picking up a few packs of "new" ones as well, and have slowly gotten back into the hobby.

I'm not a hardcore collector, but I do enjoy cards and am interested in seeing what everybody else collects.  I'm a San Diego Padres fan, and have been since I was born, so they're the team that I collect, along w/a few other players.  I also played catcher in Little League/Pony League, so I always like checking out cards of catchers in their gear, I think it's the the most important position on the field.  I'm not sure how often I'll have time to update this, but I figure it's worth trying out.