Sunday, April 22, 2018

Manaea Mania - Baby Giraffe Avoids Bat Gaffes

DATELINE APRIL 21, 2018 -- Oakland, CA 
Sean Manaea, a flamethrowing southpaw on the left coast, has made quite the impression on the visiting Boston nine this evening, setting down the Americans in rapid succession. The giant Athletic twirled scoreless baseball for the full nine rounds, without surrendering a single hit. Nine of the final ten Bostonians went by the way, with only a pass on balls marring perfection.

Manaea came to Oakland via Kansas City, traded to the Golden State along with Aaron Brooks (now pitching for Milwaukee's AAA affiliate) in exchange for the 2015 World's Series Hero Ben Zobrist.

2018 Looks to be a big year for the young portsider - His 2017 contributions were tops among his teammates. The big question surrounding the one they call the "Baby Giraffe" - can he repeat the feat?

It was not that long ago now that Johnny Vander Meer set down two consecutive teams without a base hit, in June of 1938. Can Manaea match the mark? Both lefties are a bit under the radar. Both blanked Boston in their first no-nos. Before the first no-hitter, Manaea had never thrown a complete game, let alone a no-hit shutout. Johnny had thrown his first career shutout earlier that season, and had pitched three complete games in the starts before, including 10 innings against Saint Louis. All of those starts, and the three starts after the feat resulted in wins for the Redlegs.

Manaea's next start figures to be Friday night against the defending champs, the Houston Astros. A Tall task indeed for the six foot five lefty. 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Turning Over A New Leaf

In news that is fascinating only to me, I added a long sought after black & white whale, a short printed 1960 Leaf Elmer Valo. Valo was towards the end of his 20 year major league career, and landed in New York with the Yankees for Spring Training. He only played in 8 games for New York before being released, but he quickly caught on with the Senators and played 2 more seasons moving with the Senators to Minnesota, and finishing his career right where he started in Philadelphia, playing 50 games for the Phillies.

The back referenced his time in the Pacific Coast League playing for the Seattle Rainiers in 1959. Now that I've found this card, I'm down to a handful of rare regional issue oddballs to complete a collection of all of the cards from his playing days.

Monday, April 16, 2018

NOW things are starting to heat up

Topps NOW is back and testing my wallet already. Topps has added a "Moment of the Week" and the Topps Living Set in addition to the daily Topps NOW offerings and weekly TBT (Throwback Thursday Offerings). I will still be picking up the Twins as the days go by, and I will tell you right NOW that they are going to have at least one if not two or more cards this week with their historic trip to Puerto Rico vs Cleveland. Jose Berrios is a beast, and if it weren't for Mauer's 2,000th hit, he might have been featured again last week. He hurled a 3 hit shutout against the Orioles on April 1st, but his start against Chicago was also impressive.

I don't go outside of Twins cards too often for Topps NOW, but I saw this one and had to make an exception. Ichiro has been one of my favorite players for over a decade, and he's still making plays.

Here's a peek at the card backs. in 2017, Topps added a glossy refractor coating to the backs of Topps NOW, this year's version is a little more subtle. The "Topps" logo catches the light as the card is tilted, but at other angles, it is almost invisible. This is their "Upper Deck Hologram" security feature, which I assume is more flash than substance.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Happy Jackie Robinson Day!

 Jackie should speak for himself - "At the beginning of the World Series of 1947, I experienced a completely new emotion, when the national anthem was played. This time, I thought, it is being played for me, as much as for anyone else. This is organized Major League Baseball, and I am standing here with all the others; and everything that takes place includes me."

"[ . . .] to myself I can say that, because progress is unalterable, many of today's dogmas will have vanished by the time [my children] grow into adults. I can say to my children, there is a chance for you."
"There is no Middle Ages logic so strong that it can stop the human tide from moving forward."
"I do believe - and with every fibre in me - that what I was able to attain came to be because we put behind us (no matter how slowly) the dogmas of the past: to discover the truth of today, and perhaps find the greatness of tomorrow."
"I believe in the human race. I believe in Man's integrity. I believe in the goodness of a free society. And I believe that a society can remain good only as long as we are willing to fight for it -- and to fight against whatever imperfections may exist."

Friday, April 13, 2018

Time to Celebrate a Dime Box Delivery

Nick from the fantastic Dime Boxes Blog sent over a mailer full of gems - as always, great care went into this eclectic mix of cardboard greatness!

Every era of Twins baseball was represented, and every level of the organization, including this great Denard Span minors card that I'd never seen before!

While I will talk incessantly about Joe Mauer's 2000th hit last night, the other storyline was Jose Berrios making the White Sox look silly for seven shutout innings. Berrios struck out 11 batters and allowed just three hits. After three super long marathon games against the Astros, it was a welcome change of pace for Berrios coming in and blowing through the Sox lineup in a couple hours.

I'd never seen this Puckett Glow Stars Sticker before either - and both Carews are new to me.

Nick brings the new hotness with cards from 2018, Kepler was the Hero on Wednesday, hitting 2 loud line drive home runs including the game winner.

Some horizontal heroes! The Killebrew card is embossed / 3-D with his floating head sticking up and jumping off the card.

There were of course tons of parallels too! I love the foil palm trees jutting out over Cristian Guzman's head.

And some vintage too!

Whenever I get cards from Nick, I see stuff I've never seen before. It's always a treat! Thanks so much Nick, I should have some cards headed back your way soon!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Saturday is Card Show Day

Well, Campy, how do you think I did at the Card Show today?


Before getting to the main event, my April Fool's post last Sunday did remind me that there are a few players I do collect outside of baseball. That last card is from 2016. Can you imagine a baseball card made by Donruss in 2016 that looked that good?

Had to pick up some cheap Twins, too!

What Twins collection could be complete without a Bob Bailey rookie card?

I have been working on the 1959 set for a couple months now, and I've noticed that I'm not the only blogger that's building this set. I'm still very very early in the set building process, so I'm not ready to toss up a want list.

It was the main focus of my card show trip today, however, and I added 33 more cards to my set, most of them for just a buck each!

I decided I would take advantage of a few big names that were being offered at a deep discount.

The biggest name of all today - Willie Mays! It's hard to see in the scan, but there's a healthy crease running vertically from the top center of the card, stopping at the top of the "S" on his cap. The rougher condition means I could afford to take it home! It was a great day at the card show.

Monday, April 2, 2018

I Love The 80's: The 1981 Cincinnati Reds

Last time in this Series, we looked at the San Francisco Giants, who were turning the page on a rough decade of baseball in the 1970s. In this installment, we switch to one of the dynasties of the 1970s,the Cincinnati Reds. Of course, this is "I Love The 80s" which were a mixed bag for the club. Franchise building blocks Tony Perez, Joe Morgan, and Pete Rose were now gone. They closed out the 1970s with another Division title, but were bounced out of the playoffs by the Pirates. The Reds began to show their age in 1980, finishing 3rd. In 1981, they displayed their wisdom, experience, and pedigree, finishing first in the NL West standings. They missed the playoffs due to the oddness of a strike shortened, split season, however. They were 2nd in the first half to the Dodgers, and 2nd in the second half to the Expos, so despite the best record in the division, they were on the outside looking in. 

Here are the cards!

here are the backs . . .

Topps #201 Johnny Bench - 1980 would be the final season for the great Johnny Bench behind the plate, but he made the most of the opportunity, become the All-Time Home Run King at the position. In 1981, Bench played less often, but the rest on his legs resulted in a fine season percentage wise. His batting average leapt up 60 points from the year before, and he saw modest gains in all three triple slash ranks. 

Fleer Star Stickers #101 Dave Concepcion - Similar to Bench, Concepcion had a big bump in his rate stats from 1980 to 1981. The difference was that Concepcion was still manning Short, and played healthy all season. He finished 4th in the MVP voting in 81, after a career high in batting average and OPS+. Concepcion also won his first of 2 Silver Slugger awards in 1981, while making the All-Star squad for the 8th straight year. He was player of the Month in April of 81.

Topps #126 Charlie Leibrandt - The 23 year old rookie won 10 games in 1980 for the Reds, then scuffled with injuries and ineffectiveness. He resurfaced a few years later in Kansas City and was one of the anchors of the mid 80s Royals Rotation. As a Twins fan growing up, the sharpest memory I have of Leibrandt is from Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, as he was on the mound when Kirby Puckett hit his game winning home run. For his career, he won 140 games and was a solid mid rotation starter.

Donruss #64 Doug Bair - Bair's first season with the Reds in 1978 was tremendous. He took the role of closer for the team and pitched to a 1.97 ERA and saved 28 games. It would prove to be the best season of his career, though he was good enough to stick with various major league bullpens until 1990. His second best season may well have been his age 39 season, working in the Pirates bullpen in 1989. He appeared in 44 games and had a 2.27 ERA. He was a member of the 1982 Cardinals and 1984 Tigers World Series Champions. 

Fleer #202 George Foster - Foster hit his prime in the late 1970s, the Big Red Machine ran on Foster's bat in those years. He was the NL MVP in 1977, with a tremendous year. He led the Senior Circuit in Runs Scored (124), Home Runs (52), and RBI (149). As you might imagine, those also helped him lead the league in Slugging, OPS and total bases. Concepcion finished 4th in the MVP vote in 1981, Foster was 3rd. He also won a Silver Slugger award in 1981, the only of his career. 

Donruss #422 Tom Seaver - Another Red, more MVP votes! Seaver in 1981 was 10th in the MVP voting, and 2nd in the Cy Young Voting, despite a season that wasn't particularly impressive beyond his W-L record. Seaver did lead the NL in Wins with 14, but his strikeout rate had dropped precipitously since his heyday with the Mets. Seaver had matured greatly from his flamethrowing days, however, and was keeping runners off the bases with improved control and limited damage when they did make contact. After the highs of 1981, Seaver's final year in a Reds uni did not go as well. He would continue to pitch until 1986, winning over 300 games and joining the Hall of Fame in 1992, missing a unanimous election by just 5 ballots.

Fleer #212 Joe Nolan - How'd you like to be the guy that has to replace Johnny Bench? He was a mid season pick up in 1980 after being released by the Braves. Nolan was probably happy to no longer have to chase after Niekro's Knuckleballs (He led the NL in passed balls in 1978).  He responded to his good fortune by hitting .312 for the Reds in 53 games after joining in June, and it was good enough to make him the regular in 1981 for Cincinnati. He had another .300 plus season, but was traded to the Orioles in Spring Training before the 1982 season. The Reds decided to roll with youngster Alex Trevino. It would work out in Nolan's favor as well, as he was Rick Dempsey's back up in Baltimore when the Orioles won the Series in 83.    

Donruss #65 George Foster - I had to add another Foster card, I was a big fan of the flip down shades and the Wrigley Field Ivy in the background. 

Topps #325 Ray Knight - Knight was an All-Star in 1980, and was in his prime during his years with the Reds. He's probably best known for his great hitting in the 1986 World Series (.391/.440/.565), he was the MVP of the Series, after all. He was not fleet of foot (14 career steals), and he didn't hit for power, but he was what you could call "pesky."   

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Kicking Off The Blog In A Brand New Direction!

Behind that calm demeanor lies the heart of a champion.

Ya know what? I'm sick of baseball. It's time to shake things up and start showing appreciation for the true athlete - the kicker.  Moseley is the only kicker to win a regular season MVP award, but there's no way he'll be the last. Right? Kickers have been getting snubbed for years, and this blog will now be dedicated to getting the MVP trophy back to the real heroes, the Kicker. Remember, it's called FOOTball, not Catchball or Runball or Throwball.

To prove my point, I'll be publishing a new post each day until the next NFL MVP award day (when do they do that? Sometime in May?) We'll be covering all the greats - and Fuad Reveiz.

And who says it has to be a place kicker? Maybe we should talk about the great punters, too, huh? Ray Guy, he's in the Hall of Fame for some reason, why don't we figure out how that happened? Maybe there should be, like, 2 Punters in the Hall Of Fame? Oh, and let's not forget Fuad Reveiz. He should be in the Hall of Fame too.

We'll cover the weird dudes that refused to wear shoes when they kicked. These brave souls had no fear of splinters, loose screws, or stray Lego pieces. Some of them still refuse to wear to shoes to the dinner table. Gutsy. And we'll check in with Fuad to see if he's planning on kicking those footballs any time soon, or can the offense start practice?

We'll talk about this guy. Someone had to kick the extra point after the exhilarating Montana TD passes to Jerry Rice. Maybe it was this guy? He was from Austria.

We'll cover Kicker ROOKIE CARDS! Oh Man, so exciting! The Moseley card at the top is also a rookie card, I think the photo is from his high school yearbook.

We'll discuss Kicker Oddballs! This Greg Coleman card was distributed by local Minnesota Police forces in collaboration with the D.A.R.E. program. Kickers Don't Use Drugs.