Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What You Lookin' At?

So, I was digging through some boxes of cards from when I was a kid, looking for some cards for the Deans (so far no luck!), and I came across this:

When I was a kid I always thought this card was funny, but I don't think I could articulate why. Now, there's nothing funny about Tony Phillips (so far as I know), but he's got one of the better "WTF?!" faces I've ever seen on a baseball card. Still, 23 years later.

Given the fans hanging around and the structure behind him, looks like he's going into the clubhouse at a spring training facility. That also explains the jersey. I'm guessing he's coming from the field because, beyond the bat and glove, the sky behind him looks a little dark, as in night is falling after a day game. He's also considerably brighter than everything else on the card, lit up by the photographer's flash.

So, I'm guessing he stopped to sign for some fans when a Topps photographer, unbeknownst to Tony, snapped this shot. On the one hand, you've seen this shot 1000 times and it's nothing if not sentimental: player signs for fans. Usually, though, the photographer is far enough away and the player's attention is on the fans. Here, though, I'm guessing the photographer pulled some sort of "Cheese!" stunt and snapped the shot, right as Tony looked up. His expression says it all: "For real!? I'm a slick fielding 2B/SS and you decided to surprise me in spring training signing autos? Really?!? Man, WTF!?!" Of course text-speak didn't exist in 1986, so I imagine what he actually said get the picture.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Carrds for Clunkers: auto edition

Sorry to steal the title---others have gotten some mileage out of it.

So, Glavine gets his own shot:
It'd be hard for me to cut this one loose, but for a sweet deal involving a Craw auto or some relics or something it can be had. This dude wants major money for his, but we all know it ain't worth near that.

Now for the others:
That a '98 Doruss Millineum Marks Tejada, 2006 Aníbal Sánchez, Zito Diamond authentics, 2002 Fleer Sweet Sigs Mike Sweeney, 2002 Bowman Chrome Nate Field, 1997 Donruss Millenium Marks Luis Castillo, '99 Just Mark Mulder, and a '92 Leaf Gold insert Griffey Jr. (the gold in the border has faded a bit).

Have a great one!

Crawfords on Parade: For Trade

OK, I'll keep updating this post periodically with my Crawford doubles that are up for trade. Drop me a line if something sparks your interest! More to come later today.

First up: a smattering of neo-vintage.
Early Carls:
Carls that are still pretty early:
Drop me a line with an offer!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Crawford Doubles...

to trade! I have a few CC doubles I'll trade for other CC cards. If you are looking for anything in particular, let me know and I'll see if I have it. Check out my other cards for trade on here, here, and the Heritage lists on the right. Tomorrow: autos and relics.

A-rod, Jeter, Rivera, Oh My: Finest and Chromes for Trade

All the time. In honor of the game of the week, a helping of A-Rods, Jeters, etc.

The top three A-rods are from 2001 Topps Finest; then we have a 2000 Bowman Chrome Jeter, 2002 Bowman Chrome Jeter, 2001 Finest Jeter All-Star; 2002 Bowman Chrome A-Rod, and 2X2001 Finest Riveras.

If you need anything from 2001 Finest I have the complete base set, as well as most of the Sps, am willing to break things up!

Heritage Inserts on the Block

OK---updated interests are here. As I say there, if nothing matches up and you want something I post let me know---I'm pretty easy going about working out trades. First up: Heritage Chrome.
That's a 2003 Texiera (469/1954); 2006 Furcal (810/1957); 2007 Garcia (1350/1958); 2005 Jeremy West (599/1956); 2008 Soria (194/1959); 2008 Danks (1048/1959); 2009 Cueto (839/1960); and Delgado Refractor (373/560).

Leave a comment if you're interested in anything! Compa noticed what's on and has requested I go cut grass! More to come later.

Yanqis-Sox on Fox...

no matter who wins, we lose.

So, in honor of a game I'm only mildly interested in being on this afternoon, keep your eyes peeled for some trade bait I'll be throwing out there. I'll also expand/update my want lists to get things moving along.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

(Still Life with Grittiness): Part II

To sum up where we left off: Ahem, X 182.

Anywhere, where to next? Right, cheese fries...

'Never going to get it'

Schilling had an interesting career in that the Orioles and Astros both gave up on him. They saw him as too immature, too unwilling to do the work required to succeed in the big leagues.

Wow, that hurt. Shifting like that on your car will strip your gears. In Comp 101 they'll tell you it'll disorient your readers and make them grumpy. Unless you mean "You're never going to get it," to which I can only say, "yep, I'm lost. Thanks for checking on me, your helpless reader, adrift in a sea of meaningless blech."

And as for the O's and 'stros giving up on him, let's be honest: from '88 to '91, Schill stunk.

When the Orioles sent him back to the minor leagues in 1990, I said to manager Frank Robinson, "Maybe something will click, and he'll get it."

"That kid ain't never going to get it," Robinson said.

Dig it: I'm Richard Justice, omniscient forseer of the future. Maybe. I'm Miss Cleo like that (maybe). 'Cuz back in 1990 I said to big Frank "Maybe something will click." I also told him to sign Sam Horn, maybe, and to bet the farm on Tyson (maybe) knocking out Buster Douglas, too. It's been 19 years since Frank has spoken to me.

A lot of the people who knew Schilling best felt exactly the same way. He was a goofball, a funny guy, the life of the party, but he was never going to be more than that.

Schilling credited a tough-love talk with Roger Clemens with getting him straightened out. Whatever it was, something clicked in his fifth big league season.

OK---this is where I look back at the previous post and ask, "What the h@ll is that about again?" You're supposed to be building a case that says Schilling had a gutty career, a career so gutty he deserves to be put along side dudes like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Bob Horner as one of the best players ever. What...? Bob Horner is not...Oh, never mind.

Well, a big tough love talk with Roger "The Rocker" Clemens...I guess that's gutty enough to get us back on track. Well...until...

From the 1992 season on, he was a rock, winning 20 games three times, pitching 200 innings nine times.

Well, sure...if you look at it that way. But is the argument now that innings eaters are HOFers? I mean, in '93 and '94 Schilling was kind of....average. Average as in ERA+ below 100, ERA over 4 both years, and I'm to believe that "From '92 on he was a rock"? Huh. And you cut out four of the worst years of his career (cherry picker) to reduce the sample size to 16 years in all.

Now, Act the third:

True grit

A lot of people will remember him for winning a World Series game with a foot that had been sewn together. That bloody sock made for great television.

Yep, I guess. Is this the part where we get to the game? Was this the game from the beginning, because I honestly have no idea. Let's hear it:

But there were dozens and dozens of other nights when Schilling got by with is grit and determination.

OK---I'm now to believe that there were DOZENS of nights where Schilling went to the mound with nothing but chaw, the 45 hotdogs in his belly, and "grit"? When Kmart pulls this kind of bait and switch they get sued. Do you just not care to build a coherent narrative to support Schill's HOF credentials, or did you just decide that, having written 182 words, you were in to deep and just had to soldier on out the other side? For God's sake, at least plead laziness....

Sure, he talked too much at times and annoyed some teammates and all of that. The bottom line was that when it was time to put up or shut up, Schilling put up.

I'll take that as an admission of guilt, same as when those Wall St. guys get up on the stand and plead the 5th. When they've written themselves into a corner dudes like you [insert cliché here]. Pretty smooth, yes?

I drove halfway across Florida one spring to ask him if he remembered a game that I never forgot.

No way!!! Halfway across FLA, one of the skinniest state in the country? You say that like it's Texas or something. And it's to ask him about a game you never forgot? I mean...I fans would never forget...but you're right, I'm an idiot with a blog about sweet, delicious cheese fries. What the h@ll sport are we talking about again?

It was July 3, 2001. Pitching for the Diamondbacks, he allowed the Astros five runs in the first two innings at Enron Field and probably was one pitch away from being knocked out at least four different times.

This is in an article advocating Schilling for the Hall? Heavens to Mergatroid, friend, I thought that a pitcher's job was not to give up runs to the opposing team. Just shows what jerk I am. Glad you cleared that up. By all means, dude can give up 5 in 2 innings to the 'stros, that man needs to be in the Hall.

He had nothing. Yet he stayed out there, kept moving his fastball around, changing speeds and seeing if his competitive fires could overcome his lack of stuff.

On a night when a lot of guys would have taken an early shower, Schilling survived seven innings, allowed six runs, threw 115 pitches and showed how the great ones react to adversity.

It was "competitive fires" that "overcame his lack of stuff"? It wasn't that he settled in, made the proper adjustments, perhaps talked things over with his catcher in the dugout between innings? Nope: Schilling just kept moving the 'ole fastball around, changed speeds a few times, and let the "competitive fires" work their magic. And I love that it's "kept" moving the fastball around, as in "he was already moving it around but getting whacked." Makes. No. Sense.

And let me get this right: "taking one for the team" now qualifies as "showing how the great ones react to adversity"? Bob Gibson just spit his Metamusil all over his breakfast table, man. I guess this guy thought "You know, I have a keen sense of irony, so I'm gonna take some heat off of these other folks with this really great sign here. That's how the great intellectuals handle adversity."

He dug himself a 5-0 hole, but his Arizona teammates rallied to tie it. Then he made one too many mistakes, and Julio Lugo's home run won the game 6-5.

Wah?!?! So he still gave up the ghost in that game? To Julio Lugo, no less. He of the 80 lifetime HRs. Are you deranged? At what point do you, well, get to the point?

I'd known him since he arrived in the big leagues in 1988 and have seen him pitch a long list of more important games. Yet that one stands out because it spoke volumes about Schilling's heart.

Oh, it's a love story. That's cool. But you gotta come clean: does Schilling return those googley-eyed text messages you send him? Schilling's got heart, which is unquantifiable and has nothing to do with anything. The "long list of more important games" is just as irrelevant. Lots of guys pitch lots of important games. Just ask Don Larsen.

"The bottom line for me is that's a game we could have won," he said. "I had a bad start, but I gave my team seven innings. We lost a one-run game. You finish a game like that and you're tired and beat up. But you competed. That's what it's all about. To me the best 30 minutes are after a game you've won. You're in the locker room with your teammates and you feel good knowing you've done your job."

But did Schilling remember the game as well? You don't say. It's just three+ solid lines of athlete speak, which is fine, but disturbingly enough makes more sense from start to finish than anything we've seen thus far. Are you sure that this quote isn't from Richard Justice and that Curt Schilling write the rest of this? I mean, it's terrifying this man's job is having informed opinions on sports. We have sports, we have opinions, and...anecdotes?

The turning point

Please, Jesus, I do hope so. That'll be part III.

(Still Life with Grittiness): Richard Justice, Plums, and Curt Schilling

I recently got myself into trouble over at Core Contrarian, in a post he did about Cecil Cooper's firing. Seems he read about the firing in an article by Richard Justice. This article opens with the line:

Cecil Cooper deserved to be fired. To argue otherwise is to refuse to deal in reality.

Coming from the man whom penned this mind bender justifying Curt Schilling's HOF induction, I'm not sure I want in on that reality, or that there are enough pyschotropics in Timothy Leary's medicine cabinet to bring me to the kind of enlightenment Justice possesses. Setting aside the Cooper firing, let's check out Justice's "reality," a place where grittiness is worth 78 wins, IP is a noteworthy statistical category regardless of quality, and all you have to do to merit a HOF vote is play hurt. (Apologies to FJM)

Schilling guts out a Hall of Fame-worthy career
Ummm....we're already off to a bad start. Did Curt Schilling play with one eye, like this guy? Or have one leg blown apart in WWII, only to come back and play ball at a high enough level to be an AS, like this guy? Because when I think of guys who "gutted out" careers, I think of those guys. OK, so now you have my interest: how did Schilling "gut out" a 20 year career while these other gentlemen only lasted a few years? That Schilling must be pretty damn gutty....

Curt Schilling said he'll remember the night forever. So will his teammates and a lot of the people who were in the ballpark or watching on television.

His body was battered, his arm dead. He was out there only because he thought he was supposed to be, only because he was too stubborn to admit he couldn't get the job done.

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt here, but I see nothing heroically gutty about this so far, and certainly nothing even pointing in the direction of an argument supporting Schilling for the HOF. What I do see is that "television" leads to a stupid Bret Favre add. F@ck the heck?

And what is this about Schilling only being out there "because he was too stubborn to admit he couldn't get the job done"? Apparently his manger thinks Schilling and his battered, dead arm (was he hit by a batted ball earlier or is this a "gritty war wound?) can get the job done, or else Schilling wouldn't be in the game! He's not out there "because he thought he was supposed to be," but because his manager set up something called a "pitching rotation" weeks earlier during a time called "spring training," and this game is obviously Schilling's "spot" in the "rotation." This has nothing to do with "stubbornness and everything to do with does the manager think Schilling should be out there? Answer: well, since he's out there, YES!

Years from now when he takes his World Series rings and playoff appearances and all the rest to the Hall of Fame, this single game will remain one all baseball fans will remember.

"Those are the games that define players," he told me a couple of springs ago. "Those are the games you take with you after you've retired. When you go out there with your 'A' stuff and you shut somebody out, that's nothing special. Anybody can do that. It's what you do those nights when everything goes wrong that are special."

"this single game..." which is link to more Bret Favre creepiness and the underage girls who've sold there sold their souls to the AXE body spray people. Are you referring to the "game" of the capitalist pigs who currently run the planet or an actual baseball game that is used as a way to pacify the desires of the proletariate?

And "all baseball fans will remember it forever"? Not being a baseball fan who runs a stupid blog about baseball cards and most of all the Devil Rays (oops) and Carl Crawford, I have NO IDEA what game you are referring to. It's obviously so super special readers of the Sporting News "get it," while morons like myself, on the outside of everything, just don't. :( I mean, "those games define players," but I have no clue what those games are, so I guess I'll never be able to tell the difference between Babe Ruth and Bob Horner. I do remember, though, the Horner once homered 4 times in one game, which I guess is a "defining game" and the best a hitter can do, so guess he's a TON better than that Ruth guy, by definition.

And Schilling, as for shutouts with your 'A' stuff being so easy, am I to infer that, over the course of a 20 year career, you brought your 'A' game to the park 20 times!?! Must be nice to have that kind of job.

Schilling announced his retirement Monday morning after 20 years and 216 career victories. He was a six-time All-Star and finished second in Cy Young Award voting three times.

Now, in case you're wondering, so ends the first section of this train wreck and with it the first act of our little drama here. I'll pick it up tomorrow, as my job requires my to be on, well, pretty much ALL THE TIME. But there are several things to notice: for an article that begins with a headline about "guts" and a "HOF" career, so far we've been given 182 words of nonsensical throat clearing. Kids I've seen edit each others' work in Comp classes would look at something like this and start sharpening their knives.

Guts? All we've been told about is some game where Schilling showed up without his 'A' game (drunk, hungover, troubled by global warming or the erosion of or civil rights under the Bush administration, who knows?) but nonetheless went up to his manger before the anthem right before game time and said "I'm taking the ball today, skip, and I'm not taking 'no' for an answer." To which the manager replied, "Sure, what the hell do I care? I'd rather be hustling pool, anyway," and handed him the ball.

Career? Sounds like he's a bit short of other dudes on the career numbers there. 216 wins in 20 years? Why, that's good enough for 77th on the All-Time list. If I were you I might downplay those numbers a bit, especially since guys like Charlie Hough and Wilbur Cooper also have 216 wins. Unless, of course, this argument will also state a case to include those guys in the HOF. Oh, you plan on downplaying the career numbers? But...the headline says Schilling had a HOF career, and a gutty one at that. Guts are good for 50+ wins? Guess we'll see, but I say Wilbur Cooper for the Hall in 2010.

And game? What game? We're 182 words in and the links only go to Brett Favre ads. I mean, what did your people who read the print version of the Chronicle do with this other than line their bird cages? Oh, I forgot. "No baseball fan can forget, THE GAME," and as a complete imbecile who doesn't follow (what the heck sport is this blog about again?) I have no idea what you're talking about.

In conclusion, cheese fries are good, and Schilling is obviously a shoo-in for the Rock'n'Roll HOF. I mean, his tour with the Stones back in the early '70's was legendary, who could ever forget that?

(Part II tomorrow)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Go Bulls!!

AAA Championship games tonight on ESPN2. Nice to see the Bulls again, even if it's on the tele.

9:14 Man, Bulls go to extras. AAA ball forever!

9:52 Bulls win, Bulls win!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Do You Remember: On the Mark Sports Card Newsletter

Short and simple: I don't. Daddy D hit me with a copy of this mag from 1992, put out by Mark A. Larson in Minnesota. It's basically an investing newsletter touting hot rookies and specific cards, like an early blog only it cost $3.50 at card shows. The June 1992 issue is pretty typical stock: bully on Jack McDowell, Roberto Alomar, Megaprospect David McCarty, the 1992 Dome set, you get the picture. Bottom of the list is rounded out by some oldie but goodies: from 1970 commons to Hank Aaron Rcs.

Now, there's a lot to ridicule in there, from knowing what we know now about overproduction to asking "1992 Dome--seriously?" But on the back there's this piece:
It's basically on the inserts fad and how "insert cards, promo cards, gold cards, etc. are part of the hobby herd mentality." He goes on to say, "Interest in them wanes after a few months," meaning that the inserts themselves are worth less and less. True? Not true?

Personally I think it holds up almost 17 years later and it's why I buy singles as opposed to breaking packs. Only the "hits" sell, and as each year the "hits" sell for less and less, that means I can't complete sets by selling "hits" or even trade the "hits" for the cards I really want. Just easier and cheaper to buy what I want and let the rest sort itself out.

Example, I have a 2003 Topps Heritage Pujols jersey that I pulled from a box. It's worth more just sitting in collection than my selling it for $3.00 on ebay, if only because the box it came out of cost me $80. It's a reminder: no wax, you fool.

The general unrest about different box breaks on people's blogs recently has made me think a lot about that. I mean, if you drop $50+ on a box you want the equivalent in cards, only it seldom works out that way. Pretty strange On the Mark was going down this road in 1992, long before "hits" and "mojo" were even in use as terms, basically pointing to where things would end up. Wherever you are, Mark, cheers!

Have a good one!

Line: HR for CC! Gomes 0-2 with 2 BB.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dusty Baker, Destroyer of Dreams


You know that I'm a big fan of one of baseball's great ruffians, Jonny Gomes (as an aside, his BB Ref page is now brought to you by everyone's favorite bridge dweller, Collective Troll!!!) and that I've been ceaselessly querying the ether as to why Gomes hasn't been a mainstay in the Reds lineup. But I digress...

Now, I caught this Dusty quote today on the Reds Yahoo teampage:

"When I played, at this time of the year and you were not in the pennant race, it was called a salary drive, a time for players to show they deserved a raise or a chance next spring training, a chance to make those numbers on your bubblegum card look better."

—Manager Dusty Baker, on what's left to play for after a team is eliminated.

OK, fine. I get it. But this roughly translates as: "Every man for himself! Maybe I'll see you in March!"

First, that's not exactly what I want to hear from my manager. Ever. No matter how true it may be.

Second, who's out there trying to prove they deserve a roster spot/spring invite/raise this evening? Again, I'm not a pointing fingers type, but...Gomes lead MLB in homers in the spring and wasn't on the team at the beginning of the year. Apparently these was something else to prove, but what the heck do I know?

Third, and related the #2, Dusty really needs to catch some lightening in a bottle here in terms of managing/talent spotting. People already associate him more with blowing up Wood/Prior, and he's two surgeries in to blowing up Volquez/Cueto. All that needs to happen now is for Dusty to shove Homer Bailey head first into a dugout urinal, breaking his neck, and Dusty'll have successfully managed a full staff of prospects who were all at one time assumed to be "the next Roger Clemens."

So, Dusty, we love you, man, but keep these thoughts to yourself. You need to start managing again like you know how to win, which is done by scoring more runs than the other team. Over a season, teams with the most wins go to the playoffs, which are a crap shoot, but still. Even if you're looking to next year, you can't burn out your promising young pitchers and you gotta figure out what hitters will help you score runs and which ones won't. Seem to be having some problems with that...

Have a good one folks!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bob Motley: Umpire

Big night last night for Gomes (where's all the love, Contrarian!?!), big night tonight for CC.

If there are things I've made clear on the blog, among them are a) I like to read and b) anything anyone sends me in return from a ttm request is absolute gravy. Guys who ask for a donation in return for an auto are generally not my purview, but there are a few exceptions. Among them are guys who also have a book.

So, when I was looking for addresses for Negro Leaguers from the A & G sets, I was pretty stoked to find Bob Motley.
Now, one of the things that bothers me about a lot of folks in the on-line ttm community is the comments directed towards 1) guys who request money for an auto and 2) guys who are looking to sell books to people who request autos ttm. Motley does both, and there are quite a few comments about it if you look around.

Where I'm from, if $5 and a sales pitch give you the vapors and are liable to make you fall out (Troll's compa can translate for the rest of ya'll), you just need to stay on the porch with the rest of the dogs that don't run in the tall grass (again, see Esther Gin'n'Juice).

Well, a Motley Ginter courtesy of a trade with 2008 Allen and Ginter Cardscape, $5, a couple of weeks later, this was in the ole mailbox:
LOVE IT. Not just the auto on the left, but the word "umpire" on the right. Incredibly cool. The ad up top also came with, in addition to this card:
Of course, hard up as I am for cash (like everyone else in the world these days), I grabbed the book on amazon and am now about half-way through it. It was co-written with his son, and it is great. Very, very fun read, and I hope to send it to Motley in the next month or so for a sig.

Thank you, Mr. Motley, and I'm loving the book!

Have a great one! Tomorrow I'm smoking butts with hickory (some mozzarella thrown in for the compa) so it's a big fat southern weekend going down in ND!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Waiting for Brissie

I might have said it before, but I'm from SC, a state that has given the nation this guy, that guy, and her. And Shoeless Joe. Yep, even when we get it right something tends not to go right. One of the greatest hitters ever, but not eligible for the HOF.

Which is why I wrote Lou Brissie. Now, the career numbers aren't HOF worthy, but he was an AS in 1949 and played from historically bad A's teams. He also played with only one good leg. See, he was wounded pretty badly in WWII and doctors came close to amputating his leg, only Brissie told them "no." He rehabbed, learned to get around with a brace, and when he came home went back to pursuing a MLB career. As for me, what I could be doing other than writing a blog about baseball and baseball cards: astronaut? cure for cancer finder? communist revolutionary? We'll never know. Lou Brissie looks at the rest of us SCinians and hangs his head. I mean, we've kinda dropped the ball as of late.

See, Mr. Brissie is actually one of the guys who IS a hero, despite the fact when live in a culture where "hero" is everything from the dog walker who bailed you out this morning to your spouse who remembered to grab your favorite beer at the store. (Note to compa: no, I don't mean that, the heroism you displayed in remembering the Sierra Nevada will never be forgotten!!!!) I'm proud to be from the same state as he.

Anyway, I wrote Mr. Brissie a while back before I knew any of the backstory. I had simply picked up a '51 Bowman of his and, being overexcited about finding a ball player from SC, sent it off. Here's what he sent back:
I know, the card ain't the prettiest pig in the pen (SC metaphor), and looks to be in worse shape than the cars my cousin Fritz keeps on blocks in the front yard (cultural reference) but the auto is sweet. Mr. Brissie was also kind enough to answer my questions. Best thing about being an All-Star in 1949? "All of it. Just being there with the players." When I think about it, that might be the best response to that question, ever.

He has a new biography out written by Ira Berkow, The Corporal Was a Pitcher. I don't have it yet, as my parents want to get it for me for Christmas. Seriously. So I have to wait....

After finding out more about him, I also ordered two late 1940s Brissie card to send to him. For which I am waiting...about a week now...

I'll let you know how things turn out, but thank you Mr. Brissie for the auto, but even more so for your service to our country both in WWII and for the inspiration you continue to give to those who were wounded in action in Iraq and Afghanistan. It shows what we can all do to work towards making the world a better place!!

Have a great evening everyone!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dick Allen for the Hall

One of Daddy D's all-time favorite nicknames is "Choo-choo," as in Choo-choo Coleman. He wants me to post on Coleman so bad he sent me a few Choo-choos to post.

However, there are a few things that need to come before. While looking up some info on Choo-choo I came across one of those abandoned message boards you'll find from time to time: established 2001, a thread from '03, nothing new since '04. At one point folks were exchanging "Choo-choo Coleman was so stupid..." stories when someone stated something to the effect that Coleman, like Dick Allen, came up in the Phillies farm system, positing that Coleman, like Allen, learned to be curt and stand-offish with reporters, managers, and fans alike because of his experience coming up through the minors.

There's even a paper written about it, here. It ain't for the faint of heart.
I got this card from the .50 cent bin at the local, and will admit that until I took a hard look at the stats I had no idea how good he was. Lifetime OPS of .912, OPS+ 156. Dude had power and a good bit of speed. If you check out his Baseball Ref page, towards the bottom you'll see he's a border-line HOFer based on the various Bill James smell tests. In fact, there's a blog dedicated to getting him in: Dick Allen Hall of Fame.

If you look around a bit, there are a lot of stories about Allen and his bad attitude, (see Rice, Jim) and I imagine that has a lot to do with his not being in the HOF, as it did with Rice until this year. Hopefully that will be corrected soon. And I say that as someone who has disliked the Phillies from the 80's to the present, so I'm not pulling for one of "my guys."

Have a great one!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dock Ellis: Part II

Like I alluded to in the other post, Ellis was essentially chased out of Pittsburgh. A lot of that had to do with race and racial politics. The fact that Dock wasn't winning, at least like Dock and everyone else THOUGHT he should have been winning, provided an opening. The book Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball ends with Ellis's trade to the Yankis.
Now, the book is one of the better baseball bios I've read, but it's most interesting for what it tells us about ourselves, as fans. Donald Hall, the former Poet Laureate, wrote the book, and for all the flowing prose it reads as though it were written by a talented school boy. Hall gives us fairly uncritical looks at Ellis and the Pirates of the early '70s behind that scenes which, while commendable insofar as he is "non-judgmental," teeters into a strange form of enabling. Hall, more than a reporter, more than a fan of the game, is someone enthralled by Dock Ellis. The portrait we get is more of a mis-understood anti-hero than the youth of a man who would go on to die of a "liver ailment" (also seen: cirrhosis). It's strange how, even in death, we clear the house of all the mirrors to keep our heroes from seeing themselves as they are: multifaceted and as flawed as the rest of us, as if our mutual non-recognition of who they are somehow made them who we want them to be.

In the early 1960's, an old man came in to my grandfather's barbershop lamenting that he'd never been to a MLB game even though he'd been a fan all his life. That Saturday my grandfather closed the shop so he, my dad, the old man, and another customer who'd been in the shop at the time could drive down to Atlanta to catch a Braves/Giants game. That's just the kind of guy my grandfather was. It was also my dad's first game and he still recalls that Juan Marichal was on the hill that day.

My grandfather, like Dock Ellis, was also an alcoholic most of his life, with everything that entailed. In fact, one of my father's earliest memories of my granddad is overhearing a conversation he was having on the phone with one of his "other women." He could also be spectacularly violent, so much so that on one one occasion my grandmother started shooting at him to get him out of the house.

And believe me when I say that all of these things had a profound effect on my dad, even though he never talks about any of it. It explains a lot about who he is. His struggles are his father's struggles, and if he has failed in different ways over the years I know, for a fact, that as his son I never went through what he went through.

At the point I'm sure you're asking what any of this has to do with baseball, much less Dock Ellis? Well, reading the book, and reading the silences Hall would interject about certain subjects like the undoing of Dock's first marriage (wife couldn't take 'it'), I couldn't help but wonder if they, the people most dependent on Dock, would have told a different story? One not about a pitcher always on the brink who loved the good life and was an important political activist, but about an absent father or unfaithful husband and the pain that comes from those relationships. Good people, even great people, can also be very bad people who make very poor decisions. There is no line, no contradiction.

It makes me wonder if, when our heroes are dead, how else are we to make sense of things other than by sanding off the jagged edges of their stories so they can RIP and the rest of us begin to forget what we can't forgive?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

In honor of Carlos Peña and our lost pennant hopes...

the Compa "accidentally" shut her thumb in the door yesterday. Seriously. That's dedication.
In other news:
Gomes: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI
CC: 0-3, BB

It only took till Sept, but at least Gomes is finally getting the playing time he deserves! Hopefully next season he starts in Cincy, stays in Cincy, and has a MONSTER season. Not that the Rays have been recently looking for a right handed power bat to mostly DH and play some OF...oh....wait....

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Passion of Dock Ellis: Part 1

It's almost a year now since Dock Ellis passed away, so recent that BB Reference hasn't yet updated his stats page with the date he passed (12/19/2008). The lifetime stats are right at league average (ERA+ 104) so it's easy to forget the player he was and focus on his outsized personality. HIs best year was 1971, when he went 19-9 with a 3.06 ERA, 11 CG, and 2 shutouts, and that was during a 5-year run when he was one of the better pitchers in the game. He made his only AS appearance that year, and according to his bio (up to 1975) Ellis played the media a bit to get the NL start against the AL's Vida Blue. On June 12, 1970 he no-hit the Padres in a game most famous for reasons other than being a no-hitter.

Ellis is the kind of player we should refer to as a "stuff" guy, one who has immense talent, flashes of utter brilliance, who constantly turns corners and begins to cash in on his potential only to remain tantalizingly, amazingly, almost but not quite great. In short, the only thing a guy like that doesn't have is the results.

None of that is to take away from Ellis's career, which was solid. He is, after all, a player I collect. It's just that, even in the bio, he himself says over and over that the elusive 20+ breakout season is up ahead, right around the bend...only it never materializes. Tomorrow I'll go into the bio a bit, but for now wanted to get to these:
1975. One this that's evident is that Dock Ellis had a rare, under appreciated sense of humor. You've seen this spring training, behind the removable batting cage shot on baseball cards since the 1950's, but check out Dock's right hand. Isn't that a batting glove!? These shots tend to be so over posed and odd that I've often wondered if players would exaggerate their follow thoughs and swings on purpose. Dock Ellis's batting glove suggests that Ellis relishes the artifice of it all, and genuinely enjoys tossing in a wink that, apparently, no one caught or decided to remove.
1976, the year Ellis was traded to the Yankis. I imagine the Topps people wasted hundreds on paint airbrushing his Pirates uni into Yanki pinstripes. And it's sad, really. Dock was pretty much run out of town. Through his poker face on both cards you get a sense of anxiety, and none of the playfulness of the year before. The stadium is empty, the fans have gone home (or not shown up, or not shown up yet?) and Dock Ellis is virtually alone with his worry amidst the echoes.

These three are the only Docks I have, so I'm obviously open to trades.

Have a great one!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tony Oliva Wishes You a Happy Labor Day Weekend

filled with mini-powdered donuts and bright toothy smiles.
And in case you were wondering, this card was gifted to the compa (not me) by Daddy D. Once again, I'm glad that Tony Oliva is 71 years old, because even at 71 the compa says he'd give me a run for my money.

Have a great one, everybody!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sketch Cards from Project 1962

So, a week or so ago I won a contest over at Project 1962. The prize? A custom sketch card by Addison. I'm not one to step on anyone's creative flow, so I sent multiple cards to let the young artist choose which one best fit her artistic vision. This is what she sent!

Now, all three of these are great cards. The top one might be my favorite. In fact, I hadn't noticed the the cool confidence in Carl's expression until Addison put a wry smile on his face on the sketch card. As they say, art is truer to life and all that.

The second one does some really interesting things to project a sense of movement as Carl comes out of the batter's box. I particularly like the use of the fingerprint to create what Dinged Corners refers to as "dirt smoke."

Finally, on the third card she put the numbers in the wall and added the baseball. I see the increased size of the baseball as a metaphor for how important the catch is, as well as how difficult making it is going to be. A very nice touch.

Oh, and like all sketch cards, these are artist-signed and hand-numbered.
Thanks again Chris and Addison! These are really awesome!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The CCC Staff Turns 33!

Last night's lines:
CC: 1-5, 1R
Gomes: 3-4, 3R, 1RBI, 1SB (!)

Another of the guys we used to watch a lot in Durham, Andy Sonnanstine, had a very not so good night against the Red Sox. Bummed about that, but I'm sure he's more bummed. The only game the compa and I have seen at the Trop was his CG SHO of the White Sox last year, so the brilliance is in there!

Anyway, I woke up this morning to find out over at Can't Have Too Many Cards that I share a birthday with Terry Bradshaw and Billy Preston. Good stuff!

There are two weird things I find about birthdays as an adult: 1) as a gift for yourself you are more apt to finally spend money on that trimmer you need than the Goudey Dizzy Dean you are dyeing to have; 2) no one will get the Dean for you for your birthday. You must get it yourself later, after which your partner/wife/husband/significant other will, upon receiving the credit card bill, say, "What the #@#$ is this three-digit PayPal charge on the credit card!"

Long story short, birthday or not, gotta keep things on a budget. Last year I picked up this card for under $20:
Sure, with all the fakes in circulation you never know, but I have seen another of the /5 on ebay, so I feel pretty good about it. I really dig the look of the Bowman card to begin with, and Carl's quizzical expression makes you wonder if he forgot his contacts. Having a sig on it makes it great for me. For some reason the 1999 Topps Traded tends to sell for a bit more, so I was pretty stoked to score this for what I did.

Anyway, have a great one!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown has a Possee

A while back POBC did a piece on the 1961 Fleer set. It's a great alternative to ponying up the cash necessary for the pre-war stars.

I scored this a few months ago when I was at Daddy D's house.
I think he saw me absolutely drooling over this and threw it to me out of pity. Either that or he's trying to get on my good side and stay out of a home when he's older. Works for me!

The cool thing about this card is that it's a portrait of the young ballplayer as an old man. I can't afford an original of Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown from the t206 set, but this is a great substitute. Frankly, there aren't enough cards of ball players as old men unless they are managers or coaches. I'm as guilty of it as anyone, but it's easy to forget that these guys lived another 40+ years after their careers were over.

I forget if it was in one of the Bender books I read this summer, or the very good Brown bio I read, but one of the them spoke about how players have only recently had obviously post-baseball options. I mean, if one forewent an education to be a ballplayer, what else does one can do for a living besides play ball?

Brown played in the "minor leagues" long after he had "retired," coached and mentored younger players (as did Bender) and owned a gas station among other things. He jumped the the Federal League (like Bender) which derailed his career for a while.

But what do old ball players do, and by old I mean after 40 (an age I see on my own horizon)? I imagine it's tough to have an early period in your life essentially define you and overshadow everything else you ever do for most folks. I understand why people continued to play for money, but I also understand why people continue to play long after they are a shadow of themselves and why they transition to coaching new players who, in some way, have stepped from their shadow. What else would an old ball player do, other than play ball?