Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On the Longo/Price Flap

I'll come out with it from the start: I'm 110% behind Longo and Price.

For starters, there are a lot of great Rays fans, the "fan base," but we're a geographically dispersed group. I watched CC, Upton, Longo, Price, etc. come up through the minors. I'm not a Rays fan because I live in that area, I'm a Rays fan for REALLY different reasons. I have had to get pretty extreme to keep watching the Rays from way up here in ND, but that's life. In fact I have the Rays-Os on right now.

For me the rest of it breaks down as follows.

1) Jeff Passan over at Yahoo has a great piece on FL simply being football territory, but that's only half the story. Aside from spring training there is NO MLB tradition in the area. NONE. The Tampa area as we know it is relatively new compared to, say, New York, Boston, or Chicago, where baseball runs deep in the veins of the fans of losing teams and winning teams alike. Those people show up, win or lose, because their grandparents did likewise. It's a tradition, period. This is the same problem the Braves have had going back to the mid-90's when everyone jumped on fans down there. A significant number of folks in both Tampa and Atlanta are from somewhere else and have other loyalties. People that are fans of the game (as opposed to just a team/city) are a lot more likely to transfer loyalties or at least root, root for the home team and bring up their progeny to do likewise. Which brings me to....

2) Yep, look at the stands pretty much everywhere. Fewer and fewer kids. Baseball is hemorrhaging young fans to other sports and has been for a while. There are a lot of reasons for that, but let's face the present: if you are going to take your kids to a ball game you want that to be special. If you can only get to a game occasionally you want good/great tickets. In a lot of places that'll set you back over $200 for a family of 4 and no one has had a hotdog or bought a bobblehead yet. It becomes a lot cheaper if it's just a guys' night out with my friends. I mean, for $100 one can get a great seat and snozzled, making it cheaper to leave the kids at home. Which leads me to...

3) The economy. It stinks. In that area it's even worse. People are hurting and simply can't afford it, period.

4) The Rays were never SUPPOSED to afford it. The Rays were put in Tampa so the recently deceased G. Steinbrenner could watch the Yankees in person in FL. With the unbalanced schedule, having an extra doormat in the AL East all but assured the big boys (NY, Boston) would be right there to take up two playoff spots year in, year out. Think I'm wrong? Again, NO legitimate, sane business man or economist would recommend putting a team down there in that location in that stadium. NO ONE. And yet here we are. Only the Rays slowly built their way to respectability and are now one of the top dogs, which is bad for the big boys' revenue. When the Rays were lesser, so to speak, no one cared. Now that they are awesome all of these baseball people keep asking why no one comes. It's like asking why it doesn't rain when there are no clouds.

Anyway, I can understand Price and Longo's frustration. In short guys there just aren't that many folks down there who are fans, and even some of us fans can't afford it. That said, we ARE with you. I'm watching you kick ass all the way up here near the Canadian border like I was watching you when I was living in Mexico. Now clinch the playoff berth, assure the division and home-field advantage, and let's get back to the Series!

Friday, September 17, 2010

This is all I have to say...

about that. 

Thx anonymous DRays Bay guy who did this. And remember people, love is the greatest intangible of all. I think A-Rod said that.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Great game

I know you NEVER make the 3rd out at 3rd but still: hats off to Golson. It took a perfect through to nail CC. Who knew he had that kind of arm?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What a Game: 1-0 in 11, Rays take over 1st

The word is EPIC.

Price was as advertised. Sabathia was as advertised. Former Durham Bull Reid Brignac came up HUGE. Congrats gents, great game.


  • Dear MLB Network: would it be too much to have the HOME broadcast for these games. The homerism of the YES network crew is understandable but for a game on a non-Yankee network is a bit much. And leads me to....
  • Tom Hallion ejecting CC in the 9th. The YES guys couldn't believe CC got himself tossed. Most reasonable human beings would have noticed the strike zone was a little shaky at times. There were moments when Price was outright squeezed. The second strike to CC was a ball for most of the night and the third strike was on-again, off-again. Too close to take? Sure. Unquestionably as strike? Ummm, no. Should CC have been barking? Maybe not. Which leads me to...
  • Tom Hallion, remember that a good umpire is like great wallpaper. He's a good background piece and the game doesn't come together without him, but if you know the ump's name at the end of the night he's did something along the lines of purple stripes on green. And I now know your name. The strike zone last night was TERRIBLE. Don't believe me? Green is a ball, red is a strike. 'Nuff said. (I got this at DRays Bay who got it from www.brooksbaseball.net)Which leads me to....
  • Joe Maddon. Love you. Your AS LF just got kicked out of the game over a questionable call from an ump with a wandering, widening strike zone. Go out there and tell that gentleman all the unspeakable things they say to each other in the parking lots at Phillies games. Do it, if only for the children.
Looking forward to more tonight! Have a good one everybody and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Biggest series of the year starts tonight!

Rays-Yankees people! And MLB is putting both the Monday and Tuesday games on the tube. It'll probably be the Yes Network broadcast but this should still be must-watch TV.

Monday we have two Cy Young candidate left-handers squaring off, Sabathia and Price.

Tuesday it's Nova (he of the "B-12 shots") and Garza.

Wednesday it's Hughes versus Shields.

A few notes:

  • CC has been on FIRE the past few weeks. He's raised his BA by about 10 points and his OPS by 33. Hopefully those numbers are gonna hold. 
  • The pitching match ups are break even. Game one is a toss up. Nova versus Garza is tight but I'll give a slight edge to Garza. If the REAL James Shields shows up the Rays have a big advantage in games three, but that's a big "if." Which leads me to...
  • No disrespect to the All-Star Hughes but he's been roughly on par with Wade Davis this year. What kind of difference does it make to be on the Yankees as opposed to any other team? You hear nothing but talk about Hughes being an exceptional young pitcher (he has a below average ERA+ of 94). By comparison a number of folks have been saying for months that Davis should be pulled from the Rays' rotation in favor of Hellickson. Davis's ERA+? A slightly better-than-Hughes 99.
  • There have been rumblings that the Rays' bullpen has tired from early-season overuse. And Soriano gave up a two-run walkoff homer to Aaron Lind today. I'm not saying the two are connected, but I'm just sayin'. If the Rays are going to make a deep run they need the pen' to be rock-solid.
Looking forward to it. Go Rays!

Have a good one everybody and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Whaling Part 2: The Satchel Paige

This is THE card I've been chasing since I got back in to collecting.
What can you say? The man was a legend, by which I mean his greatest exploits are not "officially" recognized by MLB because they are not "verifiable" by league-approved means. I get it, I really do. Despite the lack of "official" stats, no one from that era disputes Satch's prowess. His team barnstormed with that of Bob Feller. His dominance of Josh Gibson, perhaps the greatest home run hitter of all-time, is amazing. What sealed it for me, though, is his take on why you don't eat fried foods: they angry up the blood. This of course is very, very true. 

As and aside, a while back I even got a chance to shake hands with Larry LeGrande who was Satchel's last catcher on the Satchel Paige All-Stars. All I can say is if you get the chance to meet Mr. LeGrande at a game you need to GO. 

Good stuff, good stuff.

Have a good one everybody and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Whaling Part 1: The '61 Maris

(And yes, I'm ambivalent about the title)

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I never appreciated Roger Maris until I moved to ND. I always felt he was a flash in the pan who put together a couple of good seasons but not much else and that he would have never gotten the attention he got if he'd played somewhere other than NY.

I'm an idiot.

The '59 season in KC was good, the '60 season in NY was spectacular, and the '61 (despite the 61 HRs that get all the press) was only a hair better (161 OPS+ in '60, 167 OPS+ in '61). He never approached those highs again and injuries obviously took their toll, but the career itself doesn't get nearly enough credit. Maris was a ballplayer that we'd all appreciate more if he HADN'T played in NY. Mantle should have broken the record, not Maris. He wasn't the anointed one and if he hadn't done it in Mantle's shadow...things would have been different.

 I was torn between the '61 and '62 but finally decided on the '61.
As a card there's a lot to dig here. On the one hand there's the historical coincidence of it being the card issued during the year he hit the '61 HRs. But then we've also got what, objectively speaking, is a sublime baseball card. Maris in the shadow of the batting cage, bat over his shoulder, looking over his right shoulder. We've even got some light that washes out the cages, giving them more depth, and highlighting Maris's face.
And then on the back we've got a cartoon "Maris" smacking a homer and another of him receiving the MVP trophy. And that was in 1960 on the cusp of the amazing 1961 season. And I love that it includes the first bush-league season in Fargo. Wrap your head around that: 114 games in Fargo! He grew up there so I'm sure he was fine but it only gets above 75 degrees here 3 months out of the year. That's some cold baseball.

Have a good one everybody and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Not sure what's funnier...

that we're supposed to think that Gibson signed 2000 of these or the idea that he signed then all on the back.

2010 topps t206: The Review

After getting beat last night tonight the Rays are PUMMELING the Sox, so all is right with the world. (This will post in the morning---I'll go out on a limb and call the win). I'll get back to regular programming beginning tomorrow but in the meantime, here are my unsolicited thoughts on the 2010 Topps t206 break.

Here's the video recap, and here are the hits.

Design: I love the design. I actually like it better than last year's 206 or even Ginter. The hats/no hats thing is a bit weird but whatever. The original 206 is pretty eccentric so I'll deal. I also like the no # variations with a different pic on the front. My one issue with that is those cards seem to be so much BETTER than the regular cards, why not do the whole set like that? It's a legit question.

Minis: I like the minis, I like the variations. It's a personal thing, but I feel like this year's design adds enough to the feel of the original set so as to be unique and not just a rip-off.

Hits: Now we're getting into the soup of things. Topps has obviously added some high-value hits to the product (the Mantle books, etc.) at the cost of producing an even checklist with value distributed up and down. I understand the appeal of the massive hits to a lot of collectors, but it's at the cost of people who'd just rather rip a great box of cards. Our two plates made the break, but we're still at least a hit short. I'm sure the folks who landed hits are stoked (and rightfully so) but in a vacuum I feel like the hits were pretty weak. That said, I'm happy with the Rays I got (including the CC mini!).

Overall: As a group break product this was fun even though we didn't score the mega hit. However, if I'd thrown down on this as an individual looking to land something mega-awesome I'd be hurt. I recognize that a lot of it comes down to disposable income, but at $82 a box you need at least one solid hit to anchor a box. No disrespect to the guys we pulled (I live in Twins territory and I'd even say I'm a Kubel fan), but $5 autos just won't do it. I'd much rather have a cheaper product with those kinds of autos or, at the same price, a product without the whale hits and better distribution of value.

2/5 CCs

Sunday, September 5, 2010

September Group Break Videos!

Here we go! I'll update the links as the vids are finished over at Youtube.

Box 1

Box 2

Box 3

Box 4

Box 5

Edit: Problem with #3 is now fixed!

Catching up: CCs from Joe

There are a few posts I owe people as a consequence of my "non-absent absence." While Youtube is waiting to upload videos (longer than usual even!) I'll go ahead and get started.

Joe and I had traded once before and he'd sent me some great stuff. This time he contacted me about a DK CC auto /10 and, because it was the summer and I was bouncing around a bit, things were kind of off and on. I didn't have anything right in his wheelhouse but I sent him a bunch of relics and he sent me the agreed upon CCs. Or so I thought. Right after he sent the package he dropped me a line and told me "to be sitting down when I opened it up." Glad I did.
In addition to the agreed upon DK auto there was this Turkey Red Cabinet card (inset card is for size.) This thing is AWESOME. I hadn't realized until just now the background is slightly different from the regular-sized card, either. Where the regular one is CC in an abandoned ball field the larger version is "CC fighting zombies in a post-industrial apocalyptic wasteland." Very cool.

And then, of course, the CC DK. Here its with the two DK jerseys I have, both courtesy of Joe.

Great additions to the collection, and needless to say I owe you, Joe! Thanks again.

Have a good one everybody and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Puttin' on the hits: The Ghost of Jason Kubel Break

Video and the review will be up tomorrow, but in the meantime here are the hits.

As with the "Dodgers Box" Icons Break, this one will forever live in infamy as the "Ghost of Jason Kubel" Break.
The Relics:

Do the printing plates count as relics? If not then we got shorted 2 hits! Again, props to Sooz for advice in handling Topps customer service. Any more input is appreciated.

The Cycle Backs:

Two variations:

A month ago those Strasburgs were worth $15K. Now? Who knows?

And finally the autos:

That's right: not one, but TWO Kubel autos. The odds are astronomical. Plus, that makes THREE Koob hits in the last two breaks. Amazing. 

Boxes are Broken! Scans soon, video and such later; Advice needed

not to set the bar low here, but we are short at least one hit (from the last box). Also, I'm guessing printing plates count in the 2 guaranteed relics/autos per box, correct?

Any advice on how to go about getting in touch with Topps about how to get the missing hit(s) would be awesome. I've seen different folks have been successful working this out, so I'm hoping it goes well!

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Bob: The T206 has landed!

Break on Saturday afternoon or Sunday at the latest! Still have the A's, D-Backs, and Mariners available for $13.50 (full price on subsequent breaks). If I fail to pull the compa a Peña in this break I'm in deep *&^%.

A card I've wanted for a while (not THE card, that's coming) has been a 1950's Clemente. Well, thanks to a little paper loss this guy fell into my lap:

So yes, wtf was chewing on that upper right hand corner? Other than the the card is in really good shape. OK, depending on your perspective that might be overlooking a lot but it's more than good enough for me.

As for the card itself it's a great portrait of Clemente, odd positioning of the "autograph,"and it lists him as "Bob." I know that's short for Robert, and that you hear a lot of folks refer to him as "Bob," but did he ever really go by Bob? It's not listed on his BB Reference page so it makes you wonder. All in all a classic late-50s Topps-type card and a nice addition to the PC even if it might carry the plague.

Anyway, there's been some malaise around, some talk about uninspiring 2010 products and such, so I thought I'd put the 1959 Clemente out there. Cost? A little more than a discount blaster.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What are your Whales & Discount Teams

First up I got notice the 2010 T206 is on the way. Due date of 9/3 because I live up near the north pole. We've got 3 teams left, 13.50 for any of 3 four:  A's, Dbacks, Mariners. Leave a comment to claim the teams. PP to my email address (crawfordcards (at) gmail.com). This is a one-time deal, full price next month for the 2010 Bowman Chrome.

I've been chasing this one card for a while but a few weeks ago I hit "bid" with 2 seconds to go and landed it for a decent enough price. It's not a CC but a great vintage card. Before I roll it out I want to know: what cards are your whales? Not necessarily anything REALLY expensive like the Wagner or a 52 Mantle, but the cards you track on ebay and salivate over only to get outbid? 

I FINALLY landed one of mine and let me tell you, it feels pretty #@$* good.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September Group Break Sign Up: 2010 Topps 206

Here is the deal: we're doing 5 boxes of 2010 Topps 206.

 To keep things simple we'll be using Joe Collector's pricing structure, found here (thanks JC!).

(6)Any team newer than 1980 including the Nationals are in Tier 3 $13.75

(8)Any team newer than 1961 shall be in Tier 2 $16.75
(16) Any team older than 1961 shall be in Tier 1 $20.50

Here's a list of who has teams and has paid as of right now. If you are already in double-check this to make sure it is right! To claim a team leave a comment (I'll turn of moderation) and email me. Send PP to crawfordcards (at) gmail.com.

Open teams summary: A's: $20.50
D-Backs, Mariners: $16.75

Baltimore Orioles 1901 (Ryan---paid
Boston Red Sox 1901 (Stephane--paid
New York Yankees 1901 (Nick---paid
Chicago White Sox 1901 (Arfmax----paid
Cleveland Indians 1901 (Dan---paid
Detroit Tigers 1901 (Mike---paid
Minnesota Twins 1901 (Stéphane---confirmed
Oakland Athletics 1901 (Open
Atlanta Braves 1871 (Aaron & Dennis---paid
Philadelphia Phillies 1883 (ArfMax--paid
Chicago Cubs 1870 (Dean---paid
Cincinnati Reds 1890 (Dean---paid
Pittsburgh Pirates 1882 (Dean---paid
St. Louis Cardinals 1882 (Ike & Tony---paid
Los Angeles Dodgers 1890 (Dean---paid
San Francisco Giants 1883 (Brian---paid
Tampa Bay Rays 1998 (CarlCrawfordCards ~ Paid)
Toronto Blue Jays 1977 (D. Amos---paid
Kansas City Royals 1969 (Nick---paid
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 1961 (Stephane
Seattle Mariners 1977 (Open
Texas Rangers 1961 (Brian---paid
Florida Marlins 1993 (Chuck/HamRam---paid
New York Mets 1962 (BA Benny---paid
Washington Nationals/Expos 1969 (Stéphane---confirmed
Houston Astros 1962 (Pair---paid
Milwaukee Brewers 1969 (Ed--paid
Arizona Diamondbacks 1998 (Open
Colorado Rockies 1993 (Ryan----paid
San Diego Padres 1969 (Rod---paid