A blog about baseball cards... and the Padres

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Another Reason

I feel like I'm usually the last to hear the news.  I guess it's because I don't have cable, and most of the websites I frequent are focused on either music or baseball.  Even then, though, I miss out on some baseball news because I usually narrow my focus to the Padres.  However, the rare times that the Padres are in the news, I'm all over it.

As you may or may not have heard, the Padres made a trade deadline deal with their in-division rivals, the second place Diamondbacks.  They gave up relief pitcher Joe Thatcher, minor league pitcher Matt Stites, and a draft pick for starting pitcher Ian Kennedy.

Kennedy is having a down year, as he's gone 3-8 with a 5.23 ERA in 2013.  Padres General Manager Josh Byrnes is big on him, as he's traded for him twice (Byrnes worked for Arizona when they got him in a trade with the Yankees).  He won 21 games in 2011, and San Diego fans are hoping that the change of scenery will help him get his groove back.

Joe Thatcher is a very solid bullpen guy.  He's currently 3-1 with a 2.10 ERA.  He's got an unorthodox delivery that's difficult to pick up, and he's got a wicked 8.7 strikeouts per 9 innings.  You hate to see a guy like that go.  Still, here's a pretty telling stat: he's appeared in 50 games this year, yet has only thrown 30 innings.  Lots of times, he'll come in and face a batter or two, and then he's gone.  I'm not sure if it's because that's just how Bud Black wants to use him, or if he's just horrible against righties, but when it comes down to it, a decent starting pitcher will have more of an impact with the current team than Thatcher has.

I've been devouring lots of analysis on this trade, and a lot of people are saying that the D-Backs were looking to get rid of Kennedy because of the bad attitude and/or bad year he was having.  The last thing I'd want on the Padres would be a player with a bad attitude, so hopefully the fresh start will be good for him.  Pitching in Petco can lighten a player's mood pretty quickly, I'd imagine.  As far as his numbers are concerned, consider this stat that I pulled off the Padres website:

The Padres went into their game Tuesday against the Reds with the second-highest ERA among NL starting pitchers (4.66), ahead of only the Brewers (4.70).

There is definitely place on the roster for Kennedy, down year or not, when your Opening Day starter was Edinson freaking Volquez, who has a 5.68 ERA and leads the league in earned runs.  Hopefully pitching coach Darren Balsley can work with him and get him back on track.

I guess I'm just excited that the Padres made a move.  All offseason, they were quiet, even though it was painfully obvious that the starting rotation was super weak, their only move being the re-signing of Jason Marquis.  Even if Kennedy fails to return to form, they're trying to get something going, and it seems like that hasn't always been the case in San Diego.  Definitely not Cliff Lee, but he's something.

Oh, and at the very least, the Kennedy acquisition is another reason for the Dodgers to hate the Padres even more.  They'll face each other in Chavez Ravine at the end of August, and I'm not sure how "friendly" those confines will be for Kennedy and Carlos Quentin, assuming that both are heathy and playing.

By the way, this is my 400th post of this here blog.  Sorry, no confetti or streamers.  Just cards and news that nobody cares about.

P.I.F.

I received a bubble mailer from a Texas address yesterday, and realized quickly that it was from Play At The Plate, a fellow Texan blogger.  We hadn't struck up a trade recently, as I've been holding off a bit until payday (which was yesterday, ca-ching!), but I was excited to rip in nonetheless.

This is my first card of Sean Kazmar, and a pretty good looking one at that.  From what I can see, there aren't a whole lot of Kazmar cards out there, as his major league experience consisted of 19 games in 2008, all with the Padres.  He managed to scratch out 8 hits in 39 at bats (.205 average), including a double, two RBI, and two runs scored.  Defensively, he had one error in 55 chances at short and second.  He was taken in the 5th round of the 2004 Draft.  While I can't imagine this card is worth a whole lot, it's very cool having an autograph of a "lifetime" Padre (though he would later play in the minors with the Mariners, Mets, and Braves organizations).  Plus... he was born exactly one day before me.  Don't see that very often.

Speaking of rookie-type cards, here's a trio of them.  Well, the Adam Eaton card is from his second year as a Padre, but he was still new.  This one is serial numbered 60/100, and is the first Eaton addition to the Miscellaneous Padres binder, on the same page as Eckstein, Eichelberger, and Elliott.  The Gyorko is probably one of my favorite from this year's flagship.  He got a hit and scored an insurance run last night as the Padres beat the Reds (four wins in a row!), so hopefully he's ready to climb out of his early second half slump.  Joe Wieland is one of the many... many Padre pitchers on the DL recovering from Tommy John surgery, but supposedly has plans to pitch in the winter leagues.  Still, I kinda like these Prizm cards, and this is only the second Padre from the set I've got, besides the Maybin.

Speaking of Maybin (and players on the DL), here is a sweet looking card from the best insert set in this year's flagship: Chase It Down.  I'm surprised that not one, but two Padres made it onto this one, as Maybin joins the appropriately named Chase Headley.  Headley did earn the Gold Glove last year, so it makes sense, but I've always been a little less than impressed with Maybin's glove.  He's fast, so he can cover a lot of ground, don't get me wrong, but I guess compared to other Padre center fielders, he's no Steve Finley or Mike Cameron, two of the best.  He's currently on an "extended rehab assignment" in Tucson, as multiple injuries have limited him to 14 games this season.  

As I was unwrapping the cards that Brian sent, I found this on the flipside of one of the cardboard protectors.  Though I think that I'm pretty good about sending out cards unannounced, they're mostly to my already-good buddies like Joe, Mark, or Nick, etc. Looking forward to digging up some stuff to send to a less-frequent trading partner and continuing the project.  Thanks Brian!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

DENO WALKOFF!

It's pretty late here in central Texas, but it's July and I'm a school teacher, so what do I have to be doing tomorrow anyways?  The Padres just beat the Reds on a walk off, pinch hit, two run home run off closer Aroldis Chapman!  And who provided the late inning heroics?

My man Chris Denorfia!

I don't mean to gloat or rub it in the Reds fans' faces, rather, I'm just celebrating that my favorite Padre got put in to pinch hit and had a game winning home run off a pretty dominant closer.  Can't say that it's going to happen very often, or even ever again, so I'm going to enjoy the moment.  Luckily the kids were already sound asleep, I might've woken them up with my stifled cheer.


Since Deno was a Reds prospect back in the day, and the game was against Cincinnati tonight, I figured I'd toss up his a Heritage card from his days as a Redleg.  I'd like to say that the more recent version of Denorfia's Heritage card is better looking, but the Reds uniforms look too classic against the light blue, while the Padres uniforms look kinda lame here.

Still, a Padres win is definitely worth celebrating.  Three in a row, as a matter of fact.  It's a huge longshot to get back into the NL West race, but it'd be really nice to finish with a winning record.  I've heard Deno's name in a few trade rumors, but I really hope he stays with the team.

Anyways, back to your lives.  I probably need to get some sleep.


EDIT: Looking on MLB.com, turns out that there were four teams that had walk off wins tonight, including three home runs.  Pretty impressive!

EDIT PART II: Denorfia only has two other walkoff hits in his career.  One was against Brian Fuentes of the Rockies when he was still a Red in 2006.  The other was on September 25, 2010, when he hit a game winning double off... Aroldis Chapman.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Beauty of '93 Leaf

As mentioned previously, I made a big trade with Kyle from Nolan's Dugout recently, and in addition to some sweet oddball cards that he sent my way, I also sent him a list of cards from '93 Leaf that I wanted.  He sent over a bunch.

With very few exceptions, I am not a fan of the Leaf brand.  Their sets from the earlier 90s ('90 - '92) were dull and drab, mostly with a gray border of some sort.  There were some decent individual cards in there, but as a whole, a boring bunch of cardboard.  From '94 - whenever Leaf stopped making cards, they tended to be high on gloss but low on style.

But 1993?  Oh, what a great year.

For those familiar with 1993 Leaf, you'll know that the big draw was not always the front of the cards, but the backs.  Not for the quirky trivia or the long list of stats (it had neither), but the majestic cityscapes as a backdrop for the player's action shot.  There were usually a handful of different shots of the city that the player played in, some great, some not as great.

I gave Kyle a long list of cards that I needed, most of them to complete team sets, and then a handful of others that I thought would be cool to have.  

This is my favorite backdrop for the San Diego cards.  If you go to the Padres website, they have a picture of the same Coronado Bridge.  Coupled with some palm trees at sunset, and you have got one sweet looking card.  Makes me miss home.  I chose the Gene Harris card because I remember waiting in line at the Padre Gift Shop because some players were there signing autographs.  Gene Harris was one of them, and I still have that card.

The other shot for the San Diego team cards was a little less stellar, in my opinion.  Kind of busy, with the buildings in the background and the masts of the boats way up in the air.  "Green Dolphin" also seems like a lame name for a boat.  This Hoffman card was a sweet pickup, as some of the higher number cards from the Update set seem kind of harder to come by, for whatever reason.

With the additions from Kyle, along with the ones I already had, I am now only one away from finishing off the Padres team set, so if anybody's got the Phil Plantier card from this set (#275), help a blogger out!

It's not all about the backs, though.  There is some pretty decent photography going on.  The Kevin Maas is a prime example of that.  Digging the fans in the stands, along with the ump hustling over to make the call.  The Gerald Williams card doesn't seem that exciting, except that the photo belongs to Bernie Williams.  Oops.

Even though Carlos Hernandez is a Dodger, I justified adding this card to the stack since he would later become a Padre.  A lot going on with this card, as the umpire seems to be pointing at somebody, while Hernandez is holding up a glove, presumably holding a ball within.  I'm guessing somebody's out.  And if the orange and black stirrups weren't enough to make this Fernando Valenzuela card awesome, well, how many cards of Fernando in an Orioles uniform are there?  Well, not many.

Even the checklists are awesome.  I'm not knowledgeable enough to know who this catcher might be, but it looks like the gear is orange, so I'm going to guess that it's Tigers catcher Mickey Tettleton.  I could be totally wrong, but either way, awesome card.  I mean awesome.

Okay, back to the backs.  I would imagine that a city like New York would have some pretty great shots to use, and these were my favorites.  Hard to go wrong with any card of Jim Abbott, but the Bobby Bo featuring Lady Liberty has to be one of the best.  Even the foil Mets logo in the top left kinda looks like it could be the moon in the background.  So good.

Stan Belinda and David Neid are guys that I like to come across, and they make the post because the fronts are lamer than the backs.  Not much to see of Pittsburgh here, but Belinda is the only player that I've heard of who shares my birthday, so I like to come across his cards.  Neid was the Rockies first pick in the '92 Expansion Draft, and someday I'm convinced I'll win a trivia game for knowing that fact.  Love the Rockies in the background, I guess we shoulda seen that one coming.

Along with working on my Padres team set, I decided that since the set featured the backgrounds of cities, I'd like to get the team sets for both Chicago teams, since I spent two years there as a missionary for my church (and managed to go to a handful of White Sox games as well).  I got moved around and placed in different parts of the Chicagoland area, but in every place I lived (with the exception of a few months in Aurora), you could always see the Sears Tower.  Love that city.  Here's the back of Joey Cora's card for my buddy Joe.

I didn't do a whole lot of sightseeing there, as the overwhelming majority of the time was spent preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, but I think the Fisk card is from Buckingham Fountain, which I've been to once.  The Thomas card is of a bunch of buildings that are most certainly in Chicago, but to me, could really be from any major city in the U.S.  I only had two White Sox cards before the trade, but now the Tim Raines card is the only one I need to finish the set.  Very cool.

Much of the same with the Cubs cards as well.  Sometimes it seemed like the same shot was used, but it might be more or less zoomed out than other cards.  The Sandberg and Bo Jackson card (from above) seem to be examples of this.  Remember Candy Maldonado?  

I don't even know why I bothered putting these ones on here as well, but here they are.  Chicago is my kinda town.  I didn't have any Cubs cards from this set before the trade, and now I'm only three away from finishing the team set.  All the ones that I need have been added to my "Lookout" list on the right of the blog.

Last but not least, a few for the Player Collections.  Can't believe that I didn't have this Steve Finley card yet, so that was a nice pickup.  And another Brian Harper in catcher's gear enters the binders as well.  In both of these instances, the fronts were better than the backs.

Thanks again for an awesome trade, Kyle!  Can't wait for the next one, though I'll have to take some time to reload.

These Are The Players


I recently dealt off a huge chunk of 2013 cards to Kyle from Nolan's Dugout.  Sometimes, it gets to the point where you'd rather they go to someone who needs them than just take up space in your trade box.  I usually feel like that, I guess.

In the past, I've sometimes just "given" those cards away for a few cards I liked and "future considerations".  I don't mind those trades, because something good usually comes my way unexpectedly later on.  But it's always nice to get the goods right away.  Such was the case in this instance.

Kyle sent me over a hundred cards, half from '93 Leaf (which I'll show in a post either today or tomorrow), and the other half were additions to my player collections.  Kyle has a bunch of cards from oddball sets that he's looking to unload, since he's more into completing  sets than a player collector.  First up are some sweet Tony Gwynn's, including the '88 Fantastic Sam's you see above.  Digging that photo of Mr. Padre.  Not sure that he went to Sam's to get that haircut.

Pacific is probably the "oddest" of the normal sets.  Can't say that I'm really a fan of a lot of Pacific's cards, but when they feature a guy like Tony and are commemorating an event like his 3,000th hit.  Which happened on my birthday.  It's also serial numbered to 3,000 which seems appropriate.  This Tombstone Pizza card is awesome.  I'm a sucker for cards with black borders, and the photo is classic Tony.  Love seeing that stance.

When evaluating my Player Collections, I think I'd have to rank adding new cards to my Fred McGriff collection as one of the most satisfying, just below Archi Cianfrocco and Steve Finley.  There are a ton of Crime Dog cards out there, but only collecting those from his days in Toronto and San Diego really narrows it down.  I wasn't aware of the McDonald's cards that were put out by Donruss in '92, but I love this one.  '92 Donruss is a set that I collected a lot as a kid, probably because it was cheap, not a huge fan of the look now, but it reminds me of being a kid.  I don't know a lot about the other card, but it says "Singles Superstars" on the back and is #17 of the set.

I'm a big Darin Erstad fan, but sometimes I wonder if I should find a way to narrow my collection on him, since I now have 125 of his cards, and the end doesn't appear to be in sight.  Until I decide what to do, though, I'll keep on taking them off everybody's hands.  Haven't come across any other Erstad collectors in the blogosphere.  Love the look of the Topps Total card, but it's hard coming across Erstad's that I like during the "wing and ball" era of the Angels uniforms.  Not a good look.

Speaking of collecting players that have a ton of cards, here are two of the all-time greats.  I'm not in the business of trying to get all the Ripken's and Ryan's that I can track down, but if it's a cool or unique card of either one, I'll take it.  These both fit the bill.  The Ripken may be a perfect piece of cardboard, from the cutout the action shot to the sweet 80s O's uniforms.  I don't think I've come across any Nolan Ryan cards of him in a throwback uniform, so this is a cool one to have as well.

I can't remember where in the blogosphere I came across this Scott Bailes card, but I put it up on the "Lookout" list, since it didn't really fit into my other want lists.  The "leaping over the wall" pose is one of the greats, and not as common as you'd like on baseball cards.  No matter for Bailes, a relief pitcher.  The mini-Ryan card was also a cool addition, though I fear that it will be lost at some point, since it is probably the smallest card I own.

Two of the newest additions to my Player Collections are Dale Murphy and Wally Joyner.  Murphy is a class act, and I already had a bunch of Joyner cards from his days as a Padre, so expanding the parameters with him wasn't a problem.

Even though these are all of the oddball variety, they still have all the Braves logos on them.  Props.  The Quaker Chewy card makes me hungry.  Love the batting cage shot on the "Singles Superstars" card.  The autograph signing Murphy is from a 1987 edition of Baseball Card Magazine.  Most of those BCM cards are pretty cool.  The Murphy PC is off to a strong start with 32 cards.

I became a huge Joyner fan when he joined the Padres in 1996, my most favorite of all Padre seasons.  Still, it doesn't really seem natural seeing him in any uniform besides the Angels.  Wally wasn't quite a "superstar" with the Padres, but still had some solid seasons with them.  I remember getting some of those '92 Post cards in boxes of cereal, but thinking that they were lame because they didn't have logos on them.  I've gotten past it now and love these.  Don't have many Bazooka cards in my collection, but this one looks good, a contemplative Joyner in an empty stadium.  These and others bring the "new" Joyner collection to 67 cards.

Thanks again for all the cool/hard to find stuff, Kyle!  And this was only half of the haul.  Look for the '93 Leaf portion of the trade in a bit.  It'll be beautiful.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Now You See Him...

On Friday, I got one stellar PWE from Nate over at Big44 Cards.  Dude contacted me about one of the cards on my "Lookout" list.  Very generous of him, and after thinking about what I sent in return, I feel like I still owe him one.

Here's the first half of what he sent:

Taking a bite out of the Emerald parallel list that I'm trying to put together for the Padres team set.  I've said it before, the only parallel that I've like more in recent years from Topps has been the Diamond parallels from 2011.  Well, I'm also a fan of the Gold parallels from '92 and '93, but that's a whole 'nother post.  Anyways, of the 22 Padres from this year's Topps set (including Chase Headley on the NL RBI Leaders card), I'm now at the halfway mark, missing two from Series 1 and nine from Series 2.

The best part of the PWE, however, was the second half...

You may not be able to see this card.  That's okay, don't be fooled.  There is an insane amount of camouflage in this card, possibly the most in the history of baseball cards.  This is still a card of Jesus Guzman, though if you can't see him, you may think that it's a blurred, off-center card of Don Mattingly.  When I first heard that Topps would be doing camo parallels, I wondered how it would look with the Padres Sunday home uniforms.  The answer is awesome.

In Series 1, the Padres had some sweet throwback uniform cards (Yonder Alonso and Cameron Maybin), but the camo uniforms almost got shut only appearing on Headley's League Leaders card.  In Series 2, there were four, of which this is my favorite.

Besides Carlos Quentin, the Padres outfield is comprised of a lot of "4th outfielders" i.e. guys who wouldn't start on a stronger club.  Guzman splits time with Quentin when he's injured, as well as Kyle Blanks, Chris Denorfia, and Will Venable.  Guzman started off the year as a pinch hitter, and really struggled.  His batting average is currently sitting at a weak .240 with 7 homers in 83 games (192 at bats).  However, in the last 10 games, seeing much more playing time, he's hitting at a solid .316 clip with two homers and eight RBI.

I'm also a fan of the fancy serial numbers on the back, and this one is 9/99.  Lucky 9's!

Also, in case you were wondering, Guzzie has 26 ribbys this year, bringing his career total up to 118, only 2,179 away from Hank Aaron's all time record.

Thanks again Nate!  You're awesome!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Deep Blue


Yesterday I had the good fortune of receiving a PWE in the mail from Pat at Hot Corner Cards.  He's been ripping through a bunch of Topps Opening Day in search of those sweet blue parallels for his beloved Tigers, and he happened to send a few of those blue Padres my way.  I already had the Huston Street card, but this Will Venable is a welcome addition to the collection.

I'm starting to love this card more and more as the season goes on, as Venable is having a "breakout" year.  I guess I have to use the word "breakout" in parenthesis, since he's still having a far from stellar year.  He's currently batting .236, a career low for him (down from .265 last year), and since he's in a platoon of sorts, his stolen bases are in the single digits (9) after swiping 20+ in the previous three years.

The breakout areas, however, have been his power and his defense.  He currently has 12 homers, which (unfortunately) is good for second place on the Padres (behind Carlos Quentin's 13), and is only one away from his career high from 2010.  Pretty much all of his homers look the same; swinging at balls low in the zone and pulling them down the right field line.

His defense is what's been saving games, though.  If you missed his Willie Mays Superman dive that preserved a tie in extra innings against the Giants a while back, here it is.  He happened to do a similar feat on Thursday in Milwaukee, as he was able to track down a sinking line drive in center to preserve a 10-8 lead in the 8th inning.  Amazing stuff.

Able to keep his sunglasses on his head and everything.

Anyways, I was looking for a way to bring up that fantastic catch, and the next day that card arrived in the mail.  Very serendipitous.  

Pat also sent me this little gem as well.  I'm a sucker for these mascot cards, and I've got a few of 'em in my binders, all on the same page.  Watching the Brewers game earlier in the week, one of the Brewers announcers mentioned that Padres color commentator Mark Grant resembled the Swinging Friar mascot.  I think Mud's got less hair, though.


Anyways, the Pads missed their chance to get out of the NL West cellar last night, getting pummeled by the D-Backs 10-0.  At the beginning of the year, I didn't think that the Giants would be the ones who we'd be trying to pass for 4th place.

BTW, if you've read down this far, go ahead and check out the poll on Yellow Cardboard, it's about the Expos.

Speaking of hitting the bottom, here's a 90s pop gem that that reminded me of my Padres plight...

Friday, July 26, 2013

Three Stages of Tony

This is the conclusion of the trilogy of hair posts that I've done this week.  Is it a fitting finale in the same vein as The Dark Knight Rises or Return of the Jedi that makes you want to stand up and cheer?  Probably not.  Is it like Home Alone 3 where you're left saying, "Are they still doing that?  Maybe.  Is it like Back to the Future 3 where...

Okay, I'm having a hard time coming up with more things to say about movie trilogies.  Probably because I've got more important things on my mind, like what the New Orleans Pelicans nickname should be.

But, the show must go on, regardless of what is decided to be the "nickname" for the Pelicans, a word that is only three syllables long, but apparently must be shortened (seriously, click on the link for the article, it's a good one - Grantland.com scores again).  So, here are some hatless cards of Mr. Padre himself.

Or Mr. Pad, if you're in a rush.

Here we have a young Tony Gwynn.  These two cards paint two pictures; one of a happy and successful Gwynn, one who receives prestigious awards like "Sports Writers Fielding Award", and the other of one who is hard working and focused, grimacing as he concentrates on the task at hand.  While both cards feature unique borders (the cool "Award Winner" that's patriotic as well as the downright ugly gray and white pinstripes), the main focus is the same.  Tony's hair.

Award Winner Tony looks smooth and polished, ready for a night on the town.  Holding his bat like a cool cat, pinkies up.  Looks like he's even sporting a chain of some sort.  Ugly Pinstripes Tony says "I lost my hat!  Ain't nobody got time for that!"

Moving on, we're now in the 90s.  Sweet shades and cool fades are all the rage, as evidenced by Gwynn's new tight 'do.  The Jheri Curl is gone and a new, no-nonsense Tony is in his place.  He's also carrying a few more LB's than previously, but that's because he's not being weighed down by all that hair, so he hasn't lost too much of a step.

90s tight cut Tony doesn't mind that he's not as flashy looking as others who are in the game, but he keeps knocking out those singles, and in a few years, he'll be trying to become the first .400 hitter since Ted Williams.

In the trilogy within the trilogy, we know how the story has to end.  With our hero slowly trudging off into the sunset.  His 3,000th hit, which occurred on my birthday against the Expos, marks a Hall of Fame milestone that few ever achieve.  We see that Mr. Padre has now trimmed the maintenance of his cap-area down to almost nothing.  The years haven't been that kind, as a few knee problems have slowed his progress, but he can still outrun Pablo Sandoval, as long as they're not running to the concession stands.

I recall making fun of my dad about his hair when he reached Stage 3 and went the shaved route.  Names like "Baldy" were tossed around frequently.  I was always surprised how lightly my dad took it, as I imagined that such teasing would've made me pretty mad.  I now realize that he had made peace with the inevitable future.  No comb overs, no hair growth remedies.  Just a trimmer and a smile.

As I enter Stage 2, where my haircut looks more like one that I would've made fun of a few years ago (when your hairline recedes to a certain extent, there aren't a whole lot of different ways to style it), I feel like I can see Stage 3 coming just around the bend.

My dad was right, it's happening to me.  Probably one bald joke too many, and the karma police have finally started catching up with me.

Tony can probably relate.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Jumping The Gun

Jumping the gun.  Counting your eggs before they hatch.  Assuming that something is going to happen, even though it hasn't happened yet.

If you've ever stumbled down the stairs after thinking that you'd already reached the last one, or thought that signing Barry Zito for $126 million was a good deal, you know the feeling.

A book that my brother Sam bought me for Christmas a few years ago proclaimed that Khalil Greene would be the best short stop in the history of the Padres, "potentially".  While there haven't been a ton of guys for Khalil to compete with in that category, he definitely left San Diego on a sour note, breaking his hand and striking out 100 times in 105 games in 2008.  The book was written after the '06 season.  Go figure.

I remember watching Chris Davis play in Round Rock (Rangers AAA affiliate) and think, "this guy will do great in the majors."  Then he didn't.  He was pretty bad, actually.  Bad enough for the Rangers to give up on the failed prospect and ship him off to Baltimore.  Oops.  A few years ago, I heard the pundits say that AJ Pierzynski was finished and had nothing in the tank.  A great '12 season in Chicago got him a new contract in Arlington, and he's not doing that bad either.

Remember when Dale Murphy won back to back MVPs and it seemed like the path to Cooperstown was certain?  Well, I don't, seeing as how I was born the year after he won the second one.  Still, from what I've read/heard of those who watched him play those seasons, he looked to be one of the all-time greats.  Even though he's a great guy and was a great player (and a recent addition to my Player Collection), it looks like he'll be shut out of Cooperstown for now.

Brown and yellow in baseball were synonymous with the Padres for a while, and in the 80s when they moved to brown and orange, it looked like brown would still be sticking around a while.  While I still liked the early 90s uniforms, I would've preferred sticking with the brown if I knew that it would devolve into the copy cat Brewers uniforms that they're using now.

Last year, the Padres said that they were ready to make Chase Headley the highest paid player in team history.  I think that might've been a lot of lip service for (what was left of) the fan base, since it didn't get taken care of during the offseason, and Chase said that he didn't want to negotiate during the regular season.  Would his play have suffered as much this season (.236 average, 7 homers, 37 RBI) if he had secured a solid contract.  Maybe.  But it looks like the Padres didn't jump the gun, and in doing so, dodged a bullet.  I still like him, but don't want to pay a kings ransom to keep him.  Cory Luebke was projected to be the Opening Day starter in 2012, and is still on the DL from Tommy John surgery last year.  

Anyways, all of these cards come from Captain Canuck of the Waxaholic blog.  I sent him a bunch of Braves and he sent me a bunch of Padres.  He also included a few unopened packs of cards, including 1991 Topps.  I started collecting in '92, so '91 seemed like "old stuff" to me.  The cardstock in '92 was so much better than in '91 that I didn't even bother with it.  Still, opening a fresh (sorta) pack made me see what a lot of collectors like about this set.

This was my favorite card from the set, as I collect any cards with players named "Rock" on it.

The impetus for this trade was actually a pair of 1991 Fleer cards that I needed to complete the set.  Even though I started my set blog for '91 Fleer (Yellow Cardboard is the name, if you haven't checked it out yet), I wasn't technically done with it yet.  I kinda jumped the gun because I wanted to start writing.

An example of the brilliance that is '91 Fleer, and a pair of fitting cards for the set.  Frank Thomas was one of the dominant sluggers of the early 90s, and the Braves were one of the early 90s dominant teams.  Glad to fit both into the vacant spots in the pages.

Sometimes jumping the gun pays off, after all.  Thanks Captain!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

They're Not Joe Mauer, But...


If you read Monday's post, which showcased lots of Padre cards of players without hats, well... today you're in for more of the same.  However, the ones today are of a different variety.

It should be noted that the awesomest position in all of sports is the catcher.  Is there another position that dresses so differently from the rest of the team?  Hockey goalies are close, I guess, and the libero in volleyball and goalie in soccer wear different colored jerseys than the rest of the team.  Anyways, it's not just the outfit that makes being a catcher awesome, but it's part of it.

Playing catcher in Little League and Pony League, trudging on and off the field wearing all the gear was a cool feeling.  Living in San Diego, it was usually hot, so I was usually sweaty and dusty and grimy.  I felt like a real tough guy, which was (and still is) pretty far from my actual personality.

The least coolest part of the catchers gear, however, is the helmet.  Sure, it's the most vital (if you're the type of person who enjoys chewing their food and not scaring small children), but for me, it's the pads that are the coolest.  I mean, the helmet is cool, but it's just up against some stiff competition for "coolest part of the catcher's gear".  Even the huge catcher's mitt is pretty sweet looking, much more so than an average glove.

Case in point: take a look at that Archi Cianfrocco card at the top of this post.  Without the pads, you're left wondering, "Hey, what happened to that guy's hat?"  With the mask on, he just looks like any other catcher.  But, pads on, helmet off, he looks like a superhero ready to spring into action to save a bus full of orphans from falling off a bridge.

Or something like that.

Anyways, here are are more Padres catchers who have kept the pads on, but had to forgo the helmet for one reason or another.

Everybody knows that that if you're trying to track down a foul pop up, the first thing you gotta do is lose the mask.  The further you fling it after ripping it off your face, the better.  Really give it a good toss, let it know that you mean business, you're not gonna let it get in your way.  Also, wear some cool shades.

Other times, the mask comes off during a break in the action.  Can you really contemplate the hidden meaning of that thing that your wife said to you on the way out the door if you're wearing that big, clunky thing over your thinking box?  Mark Parent says no.  If you are able to decode the message and it happens during game time, Dave Roberts says you gotta call time and have a meeting of the minds.  Those pitchers can be real relationship experts.

Other times, you just lose the helmet because you can.  Think about it.  If you're the short stop and you decide to throw your hat to the ground as you corral a ground ball or chase down a runner, you're gonna look like some kinda prima donna jerkface.  But if you're a catcher and you wanna shoot the girl in the first row with the yellow tank top the blue steel look, pretend that the mask is full of bees the next time the ball touches the ground and say hello.  Nobody thinks twice about it.

But, I mean, try to be discreet.  There is a game going on, and nobody likes a showoff.