Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Who's on First--Rangers Edition

The Texas Rangers have an issue at first base. Which Chris Davis will show up this season? Davis will be the Opening Day First Baseman, but the question remains whether he can overcome his free swinging ways and avoid the trip back down to Triple-A like last season.

Davis' homerun power isn't a question. It's his high K totals. In 2008, Davis played in 80 games and hit 17 homers, drove in 55 RBIs and hit .285 while striking out 88 times in 295 at bats. That is a 29.8 % strikout ratio. In 2009, Davis played in 113 games, hitting 21 homeruns, driving in 59 runs and hit .238 while striking out 150 times in 391 at bats. That is a 38.4% strikout rate and is totally unacceptable. So far this Spring, Davis is hitting .353 and has struck out 20 times in 68 at bats for a 29.4% strikout rate. Of course, Mark Reynolds of the Diamondbacks struck out 38.5% of the time in 2009 and you don't hear many complaints because of the 44 homers and 102 RBIs.

Hopefully Davis can take some of hitting coach Clint Hurdle's teaching to heart and cut down on the strikeouts. Hurdle has been preaching patience at the plate and it appeared to be sinking in with the team as a group early in Spring Training, but the strikout numbers have been up recently. There isn't much time to work on that before the season starts in 5 days.

Backing up Davis at first, at least at this point, is the very inexperienced Max Ramirez. Max is the third catcher as well, which may prove to be his real position with the catcher woes the Rangers have been facing. I don't have any scans of Ramirez cards, but I did find these two AWESOME play at the plate pics from 2008.

Max Ramirez vs. Jeff Mathis, Angels

July 7, 2008--Mathis was out

Max Ramirez vs. Torii Hunter, Angels

July 10, 2008--Hunter was out

Max Ramirez played 3 games at first in 2008 for the Rangers (and 12 at catcher). He hit 2 homers and drove in 9 while hitting .217. So far this Spring, he has 27 at bats with 0 homers, 3 RBIs and 7 strikouts. He's only hitting .222.

Nothing personal against Max, but I hope Davis has a great season and Ramirez only gets a fill in spot at first now and then.
The Rangers have Justin Smoak sitting down in the minors waiting for a shot.

Smoak got in a little Spring Training action, appearing in 10 games. He had 14 at bats and hit .250.

The Rangers had many years of solid play from first base from these guys.

2003 E/X Behind the Numbers Rafael Palmeiro

1997 Pinnacle XPress Will Clark

2004 Topps Crackerjack Mark Teixeira

Palmeiro and Tex are pretty much scorned around here now, but you can't argue with the solid defense and numbers these three guys put up for Texas over the years. You can question the methods perhaps, but not the results. Hopefully Davis can add his name to the list of productive first baseman Texas has enjoyed over the years (and stay in the good graces of the fans while he's at it).

More Cards on Cards Cards

No, that's not a typo. I'm not dumb dumb. Kerry from Cards on Cards sent me one of those "out of the blue" packages. Those are always fun and I also like sending them out when I get a chance. One of the most amazing things about blogging is the connections we make with other collectors. Trading is great, but a surprise package says someone was out there thinking about what I collect and found some of those cards and sent them my way. That is a great and generous thing. Here are just a few of the cards Kerry set aside for me.

Here is a nice, new 2010 Opening Day Where'd You Go, Bazooka Joe Ian Kinsler. I've bought less than 10 packs of this and haven't pulled any of these.

This 2004 Topps Traded Chrome Brian Jordan should be featured by Night Owl or No One's Going to Read this Blog as a part of their Scoreboards on Cards features. I did a little quick research on this card. Brian Jordan only played 61 games for Texas in 2004. On May 15th, 2004 Darren Oliver (#37) pitched for Florida in a game at St. Louis. Chris Carpenter (#29) pitched for the Cardinals. Texas played at Detroit that day, but I tried to find a picture of Comerica Park and I can't see a picture that shows a scoreboard like that where Brian Jordan would be playing in right field. Has Comerica undergone some cosmetic changes since 2004?

You can't go wrong sending me Will Clark cards. I may have mentioned that he's my all-time favorite player. All three of these are from 1996 Pinnacle.

Here is the next one from that set. It's the .300 Series card. Just a thought, maybe a picture of Will's sweet swing on a card highlighting his batting average would be nice. Maybe.
The shot on this 1996 Pinnacle Hardball Heroes card is a little better, but the creative writing team must have been on vacation. Both this card and the one above start off mentioning that switching leagues in 1994 didn't hurt Will's average. Any and all Will Clark cards are appreciated. I really need to do a master checklist for Will.
There were quite a few other cards and 4 of them will be featured in my next post. Thanks Kerry and I'm sure I'll surprise you again soon.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

2010 Heritage Wantlist

My 2010 Heritage Wantlist can be found here.

It is H.U.G.E. I'm busting a blaster for this little event that Dayf dreamed up, so that will help and I'll update it as soon as I'm done ripping wax.

I am not chasing the SPs. If I come across them fine, if not, I won't kill myself hunting them down.

Michael Young Milestones

This information comes courtesy of T.R. Sullivan's blog at He had a great writeup about some milestones Michael Young should be able to reach this season.

Michael Young is currently 3rd on the Texas Rangers All-Time Hit List. Ivan Rodriguez is 1st with 1,747 hits followed by Rafael Palmeiro with 1,692. Michael has 1,662. He should be able to take the lead with ease this season. Michael Young's first hit came in his 5th at-bat on May 27, 2001 off Sidney Ponson at Camden Yards.

A few other team milestones are within reach as well. Michael needs 2 triples, 42 doubles and 140 runs to take the all-time team lead in those categories.
Only Ichiro has more hits and multi-hit games than Michael Young since 2003.
Michael played in 135 games in 2009, the first time he has missed more than 7 games in a season since 2001. He has a shot at 3000 hits if he can continue to play a significant number of games each year. His career numbers would be really nice if he makes it that far. He currently has 819 runs scored, 137 homers, 720 RBIs and a .302 average.
Michael is also the consumate team player. He moved from 2nd base to shortstop to accomodate the signing of Alfonso Soriano and then moved from short to 3rd base so the Rangers could bring Elvis Andrus up.
Michael tops one more very important list. He is my favorite current Ranger and one of my top 5 favorites ever. I wish him many more years of success and hope he defies the odds and spends his entire career with one team.

Monday, March 29, 2010

One More Week...

I'm ready. Are you ready?

Bring on the Blue Jays and let's get the Show on the road. Good luck Rangers!

More Wantlists Coming and a Contest Preview

My 2010 Topps list is updated and located right here.

I have a list for 2010 Heritage which will be posted tomorrow. It's pretty long and that is without the SPs.

I have an updated list of 2009 Topps for my son that I'll try to get posted tomorrow as well.

The April contest is coming foolin'!

It will be the easiest contest ever held on this blog. Comments are encouraged soon....wink, wink.

Did I just type wink, wink? I have to stop typing these posts up in the middle of the night.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Play at the Plate Part 10: Special World Series Edition

The Date: October 25, 1987

The Place: The Metrodome

The Showdown: Game 7 of the World Series, Steve Lake, Cardinals catcher, versus the Twins Don Baylor

Don Baylor comes to the plate in the bottom of the second inning with the Cardinals leading 2-0. Joe Magrane is on the hill for St. Louis. He promptly hits Don Baylor with the pitch, which is no great shock considering Don Baylor is the all-time A.L. leader in the hit by pitch category (267). Tom Brunansky follows Baylor and singles to left. With Baylor at second and Brunansky at first, Kent Hrbek struck out and Tim Laudner stepped to the plate. Laudner singled to left and Baylor headed for home. Vince Coleman came up firing and this is what happened next:

Don Baylor is OUT! The Coleman to Lake combo preserved the two run lead for the Cardinals. At least momentarily.
In the fifth inning there was another play at the plate. With the score tied 2-2, Coleman again made the throw home. Gary Gaetti steamrolled Lake, but Lake held on for the out. The Twins would end up on top, winning the World Series with a 4-2 win in game #7.

Poor Little Packsearcher...You missed one

I think my disdain for packsearchers has been well documented on here as well as in my comments on other blogs. I've turned them in to management (they really don't care by the way), given them grief and threatened to post their pictures on my "website" for all my readers. I don't tell them the number of people following the blog is 66. That's about 60 more than I thought I'd get for goodness sakes!

Well, just to show that the packsearchers don't get all the hits, I'll post one that just happened to find it's way into my grocery basket yesterday. I picked up a random 2010 Topps rack pack at my son's request. He wasn't with me so I took the first one on the peg. When he opened it, he was happy to see this:

A little later, I let him enter the code and it turned into this:

Back to the packsearcher "fail" part of this post. There was something unexpected behind the code card.

It looks like your standard, run of the mill Peak Performance insert.

Now it looks like your standard Yovani Gallardo Peak Performance.

So, we have a game used bat card for a National League pitcher. My son didn't care, he was thrilled to get his second relic card (that he pulled from a pack). Granted, this isn't a life changing relic, but it's proof yet again that packsearchers don't get everything.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cards from the Old Man: Part 11 Roberto Clemente

This is the eleventh in a series of posts about cards I received from the old collector in our town who had library catalogs full of cards from the 1950's-1970's. You can see those original posts here and here if you missed them.

Here we have another legendary player that meant nothing to me as a 12 year old. All I knew was he once played for the team that introduced me to the World Series, the 1979 Pirates, and the "Old Man" said he died in a plane crash. That intrigued my pre-teen warped mind. That and we have the same birthday, August 18th.

The one and only Roberto Clemente. This is the final 1972 card in this series and I think it's fitting that it is a Clemente card. Clemente had an amazing career. He played 18 seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2,433 games he had 3,000 hits, scored 1,416 runs, hit 240 homeruns and drove in 1,305 while batting .317. This card is about 80-20 off centered to the right.

Clemente played in 14 All-Star Games and two World Series. The Pirates won both Series with Clemente, beating the Yankees in 7 games in the 1960 Series and beating the Orioles in 7 games in the 1971 Series. Clemente was the 1971 Series MVP.

On a personal level, Clemente won numerous awards. He won 12 Gold Gloves and was the N.L. MVP in 1966. He led the league in batting 4 times and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973.

On July 25, 1956, Clemente became the only player in MLB history to hit a walk off inside the park grand slam as the Pirates beat the Cubs 9-8.

He served in the United States Marine Corps reserve from 1958-1964.

Clemente was the first Hispanic to win a W0rld Series as a starter (1960), win an MVP (1966) and win a World Series MVP (1971). He was also the first Latin American in the Hall of Fame and remains the only current member of the Hall of Fame who did not have to wait the mandatory 5 years after retirement. You all know the reason for that.

On New Year's eve, 1972, Clemente was accompanying a flight of humanitarian aid to the people of Nicaragua after a devastating earthquake. The plane crashed into the sea almost immediately after taking off from Puerto Rico. Clemente's body was never recovered.

There are nicer cards of Roberto Clemente, but I don't have any other vintage Clemente so this one means a lot to me.

New Collecting Goals--One New Team and One "New" Set

I've been toying around with the idea of adding the Washington Senators to my collecting goals. Since they moved to Texas and became the Rangers in 1972 it's a natural extension of my Rangers team collection. I've received a few Senators cards in trades with other bloggers.

This 1971 Topps Ted Williams card came courtesy of the Troll. He is about to run a contest that includes an autographed Frank Howard card. Be sure you don't enter so I can win.

I've also been attempting to trade for Senators cards on the Topps MCG site. I was offered the following deal recently:

I gladly took their 1960 Roy Sievers for my 1959 Roy McMillan. Of course, it wasn't until I did a little more research that I found out that the Senators I should be after are on cards from 1962 to 1971.

I went to the great site, for this info about the Senators.

"Like magicians using sleight of hand, the Lords of Baseball played a round of "now-you-see-them-now-you-don't" with the Washington Senators in 1960, and then added a "now-you-see-them-again" to finish the trick.
Washington DC owned one of the American League's six original franchises, but after years of losing seasons, the fan base became disinterested and distracted. Owner Calvin Griffith saw greener pastures to the west and moved his franchise to Minnesota in 1960.
Knowing that lawmakers on Capitol Hill were not happy with a situation in which the national pastime would not be played in the national capital (the same lawmakers who decided whether baseball was exempt from antitrust laws) the Lords of the game awarded an expansion franchises to Washington right after Griffith departed with his team.
The second generation of Washington Senators picked up right where their predecessors left off, losing their first-ever game to the White Sox 4-3 on April 10, 1961 at Griffith Stadium. As the decade progressed, fans and lawmakers alike must have wondered why they wanted the Senators back. In their first four years, this edition of the Senators lost 100, 101, 106, and 105 games. In the next few seasons they were able to climb to the middle of the pack and when they hired Ted Williams to manage the team in 1969, they hit their high water mark with an 86-76 record and fourth place. They returned to their losing ways in 1970-71.
The only excitement for the franchise was the slugging of big Frank Howard, who had one of his best years for the 1969 team with forty-eight home runs, one-hundred eleven runs batted in and a .296 average. Howard hit over forty homers in 1968 and 1970 as well. While Howard was slugging and Williams was managing, new owner Bob Short (he bought the club in 1968) was being wooed by the city fathers of Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas. Baseball had seriously looked at this area for its 1969 expansion, but decided to go elsewhere.
Seeing his opportunity, Short closed a deal to move the Senators to Dallas for the 1972 season. With Washington lawmakers now indifferent to the move (due to the embroiling controversies of the era like the Vietnam War), baseball gave its approval. The Senators closed out an era of baseball history with a forfeit loss to the New York Yankees on September 30, 1971. Ironically, the Senators were leading the game 7-5 with two outs in the ninth when swarms of fans rushed onto the field, eventually forcing the forfeit."

This looks like an element of collecting that may lead me to finally plunge into the COMC scene. It should be fun.

The second of my new goals is my first attempt at a vintage set. I'm going to start collecting the 1973 Topps set. I really like this set. I'll go into it more later, but the mixture of great action shots with the more standard posed shots really appeals to me. I like the player silhouettes incorporated into the design. I've got some of the Rangers and and handful of the Hall of Famers. Thanks to the "Old Man" trades I've posted about, I have Willie Mays, the Ryan and Carlton Strike Out Leaders card, Pete Rose, Ferguson Jenkins and Carlton Fisk. Thanks to Topps MCG, I have a few others like these.

I know what your thinking. "Man, that dude is so lucky...he has a Bill Gogolewski card!!" Well, hold onto your hats, because thanks to the foresite of other people on the site, I had two different offers out for that Gogo card and both people accepted so I have TWO of them. Don't be jealous.
So, it looks like more COMC or Ebay lots and maybe I'll get lucky and hit a show or two and run across some more. Maybe even a blog trade or two will net me a few.
I do love this hobby.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Give that man a license! Big D is Big Time

You've been seeing them pop up here and there. Everyone who has received them has been amazed by them. When I saw that little package with the Big D logo on it, I was almost too excited to open it. I thought...nah, it couldn't be...could it? I opened it up slowly and sure enough, it was a couple of Big D Custom cards from Derek over at Hey, That's Mine! Derek and I share our pursuit of all things Ranger, and he didn't disappoint with these beauties. Topps better watch out, they'll lose that exclusive with MLB.

Spring Training-Texas Rangers Style

I love the old-school Rangers logo. I believe this is the Rangers practicing "the Shift" for those games against the White Sox and Jim Thome. Putting 6 guys on the right side should work.

Will Clark
This Will Clark card is incredible! The Ranger red border, the big D logo, it all looks great. This is easily one of my favorite Will Clark cards now!

And of course, the genius back along with an on-card signature from the man himself!

Big D, put me down for a box out of the very first case you produce...I would love to bust a box of Big D customs. Thanks for the great cards and keep up the amazing work!

Where have all the Bip(pings) Gone?

I know Thorzul, master of bipping, if not quite master of his domain, ordered a bipping cease fire. I also know that I still see the occasional bipping post. The problem is, I've never bipped anyone. Not even a little bit, despite what Night Owl implied in this post. If you go there, you'll see what looks like a bip, but is in fact just packing material.

I do have some beeping, I mean bipping, ammo that is really itching to be sent out.

Ruben and his friends need a new home...or homes.

The Collective Troll is holding the Mother of All Contests

Go here NOW and enter the contest. Become of a follower of ALL the Troll's blogs. Become a follower of THE TROLL. You won't be sorry. And you just might win. Why are you still reading....GO!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Topps Transmogrifier Giveth and then...not so much

I've been sitting on a couple of Million Card Codes for a week or so. That is quite an accomplishment for me. I'm downright impatient when it comes to those things. The funny thing is I don't seem to have a problem with Topps having the cards once I unlock them, I just can't bear not knowing what the codes will get me.

I'm that way with packs too. I don't know how some of you can sit there, all calm, cool, collected, with the knowledge that you have unopened wax on the shelf. Honestly, I can't do it.

At any rate, I was checking on some trade offers I had made (I've actually completed at least a dozen trades in the last 3 days) when I noticed that the Transmogrifier, as a certain Carboard Junkie likes to call it, was spewing a good mix of early 60's and 70's cards with a late 2000 card mixed in every once in a while. I decided to break out my last two code cards and see what happened. I figured if I did ok with the first one, I would use the second one. I entered the first code....waited....waited....and saw this:

1959 Gary Bell

Bell had a very nice 12-10 record as a rookie in 1958. They may have exaggerated his size on the cartoon...just a tad. Bell went on to pitch for 12 seasons, primarily with Cleveland and ended up with a 121-117 record and 1,378 strikeouts.

Needless to say, as soon as this little gem popped up and I entered the second code as quickly as I could. This is what popped up next:

1989 Dodgers Team Leaders

Well, that wasn't quite as well received as the Bell card. Still, I'm happy with any '59 card and with the few trades I've made in the past few days, the number of vintage and Rangers cards in my virtual "porfolio" is nice.

By the way, that Dodgers card is "available" Night Owl!

Reader John's 2010 Topps Care Package

Reader John responded to my 2010 Topps wantlist with 15 cards and offered to throw in a couple of Rangers autos to sweeten the pot. He was so agreeable to a trade that even after I told him I didn't have any Cubs hits left, I could just send a couple of random autos for the Rangers stuff.

I think you've seen all the 2010 Topps cards before, so I'll just show you the Rangers autos.

This 2006 UD Future Stars John Koronka Clear Path To Greatness auto card may have been a little premature. So far Koronka has pitched in 31 games in four seasons, 23 coming in 2006 with the Rangers. He has a career record of 8-13 and in 2 starts last year with Florida, went 0-2 with an 11.05 ERA. Sooo, maybe that path to Greatness isn't so clear. Still, it's a nice auto.

Here is the real prize of the trade. It's a 2009 Topps Chrome Elvis Andrus auto. I don't know if that border around the auto is supposed to hold a sticker, but this is on-card. There isn't a sticker so that is really sweet.
Thanks for the cards John. They have all found a good home here in Texas.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My REAL Review of 2010 Heritage

Forget yesterday's Heritage Review post.

Seriously, forget you ever clicked on that post. That never happened.

This is the real deal and although many have reviewed 2010 Heritage, you haven't heard my opinion yet.

Unfortunately, my review is quite similar to that of other bloggers. The pictures on the cards are Boring. With a Capital B. I get that they're trying to re-create the types of photos used in 1961, but that doesn't mean it isn't boring. I can live with the photos on the real 1961 set because they are Vintage beauties. That said, I like the design. It's fairly simple and doesn't overpower the card. The card backs are the best feature of the base set. Unfortunately, I didn't scan the backs of any cards. I also didn't scan any inserts (except one).

One of the things many people don't like about Heritage is the number of Short Printed cards. With a base set of 425, 75 SPs is way to many. After reading a number of reviews by other bloggers, my initial thoughts are I'm not going to try to put this set together because of the number of SPs. I think a lot of people who are borderline set collectors balk at putting Heritage together just because of the difficulty of getting all the SPs.

I purchased three loose packs first, buying each of them at different times. From those 3 packs, I pulled these cards worth noting.

David Price SP #426

Francisco Rodriguez TNAS SP #500

Nyjer Morgan Chrome Refractor #515/561

I felt pretty good getting a Chrome Refractor buying only 3 packs. I was looking to buy a blaster hoping the Chrome cards would fall as frequently as last year's blasters. Well, I read The Mojo Beard (you should too) and according to The Mojo Hand, Chrome cards are harder to find in the blasters this year (1:18 packs). I bought a blaster anyways and it yielded the same number of "hits" as my three packs. A pricing note: one single retail pack is $2.98 + tax. The blasters have 8 packs for 19.99 + tax. That is why I wanted to buy a blaster. Pardon my tangent, here are the three "hits for that first blaster.

Bronson Arroyo SP #455

Freddy Sanchez SP #446

Billy Wagner Clubhouse Collection Jersey

Normally I wouldn't be thrilled over pulling Arroyo and Sanchez, but if I decide to put the set together, that's two more SPs off the wantlist.

So, after three loose packs and a blaster, I started to shift my thoughts on not putting the set together. It's definitely doable and even if it takes awhile, well, that's part of the enjoyment of this hobby for me. The chase for that elusive card. The thrill of finding it.

So, what's a collector to do? This collector bought one more blaster. This box yielded 5 "hits", counting the SPs as hits.

Cole Hamels MVP SP #480

Ryan Braun TNAS SP #492

Jair Jurrjens Chrome #1738/1961

Roger Maris Chase '61 #1

Apparently people are all gaga over these Chase cards and they're bringing good money.

Jim Woods Real One Red Ink Auto #13/61

That's a nice on-card auto for retail. I did a brief search and I saw one place that said there were Real One Special Edition Red Ink Autos hand numbered to /61 that were hobby exclusives, but I pulled this out of an 8 pack blaster from Wally World. Now, Jim Woods only played 36 games over his 3 year career so it's not like this is a life-altering auto. But, its still a nice pull for retail.

There you have it. Another Heritage set and as you know there are as many opinions on this as there are blogs. I'm sure I'll pick up some more along the way and try to trade for the rest.

Now, if these just came with some of those Million Card Giveaway codes!