Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sports Card Soothsayer

When I was in high school, my mother and a few of her friends went to a tarot card reader.  I wish I could tell you that it was for pure entertainment purposes, but they actually believed in what the cards revealed.

Today... I figured I'd experiment with my own cards and see if they're able to predict the 2016 World Series Champion.  Since I don't have tarot cards, I used some of the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians cards in my collection instead.

I started by pulling some of my favorite cards from each team and sorted them into their respective positions.  Then I compared them and determined which team had the advantage.  I wish I could tell you that I used some detailed formula, but lack of time forced me to keep things simple.  I took the player's abilities, my fanfare for each player, and used the overall card design to help me decide.

Let's start off with the pitching rotations.  I chose four starters and two closers to determine the stronger pitching staff.  All of the extra pitchers would be added to the bench roster.


Pitching Rotation Advantage:  Cleveland Indians

You have no idea how badly I wanted to go with Greg Maddux and the Chicago Cubs pitching staff, but it was hard not to side with the pitching staff made up of six hall of famers.

Up next are the men behind the masks and the plate...

Jody Davis might have hit more home runs and is featured on a nicer card design, but Sandy Alomar Jr. was often considered the second best catcher in the American League behind Ivan Rodriguez.  I'm not sure if Davis was ever considered the second best catcher in the National League.

Catcher Advantage:  Cleveland Indians

Picking a first baseman was a little more challenging...

But it wasn't that hard.  Nine out of ten times, I'd go with the contact hitter over the slugger... and I always enjoyed watching Grace play.  But c'mon...  612 home runs always trumps a .303 career batting average.

First Baseman Advantage:  Cleveland Indians

Second base is a completely different story.

I actually spent a few minutes going back and forth between these two guys.  Both guys could hit.  Both guys could field.  Both guys are enshrined in Cooperstown.  But only one guy was loyal to one franchise his entire career.  The fact that the 2008 Sweet Spot Signatures is one of my favorite designs was the icing on the cake.

Second Baseman Advantage:  Chicago Cubs

Making my way around the horn...

I'm sure the majority of neutral fans out there would go with Mr. Cub, considering he was a first ballot hall of famer.  But I'm a huge fan of Vizquel.  In fact, he's probably my favorite Cleveland Indian of all-time.  The tie-breaker?  The 1999 UD Century Epic Signatures set is another personal favorite.

Shortstop Advantage:  Chicago Cubs

Next stop, third basemen...

We have another pair of hall of famers.  One retired twenty years before I was born.  The other only played the first two years of my life.  In short... I have no connection to either, so I turned to card designs and career statistics.  Boudreau's 1950 Bowman card is more aesthetically pleasing than Santo's 1965 Topps Embossed inserts.  However Santo's numbers beat out Boudreau's.

Ultimately... I went with Santo, because he played most of his career at third... while Boudreau only played one game at that position.

Third Baseman Advantage: Chicago Cubs

There are only three more positions left before the my baseball cards reveal the 2016 World Series Champion.  It originally looked like the Cleveland Indians were going to walk away without being challenged, but after being down three positions to none, the Chicago Cubs have bounced back to tie things up.

Let's see which team's trio of outfielders can secure the lead for their team...


As I mentioned earlier in this post, I've always had a deeper appreciate for guys who hit for average... than power.  Tris Speaker has the 6th highest career batting average in MLB history.  Unfortunately his supporting cast of Tito Francona and Albert Belle just wasn't enough in terms of star power and career stats when pitted against Lou Brock, Billy Williams, and Andre Dawson.

Outfielders Advantage:  Chicago Cubs

Holy cow!  The Cubs have taken the lead.

But with Cleveland having more experience in using the designated hitter, my gut is telling me they're not going down without a fight...


And I was right.  Eddie "Mother F'n" Murray and the 2008 UD Masterpieces Captured on Canvas card design make this the easiest decision of the day.  Sorry Kong.

Designated Hitter Advantage:  Cleveland Indians

After eight innings... they're tied up again and will turn to their bench to determine this year's World Series winner.  I should preface things by stating that the Indians had a slight advantage, because of sheer numbers, so I decided to narrow the bench down to five players each... making it a modified twenty man playoff roster.

Here are the results:


Wow.  This is a really tough decision, because Cleveland's bench is made up of mostly pitchers... while the Cubs have none.  It's like comparing apples to oranges.

Ultimately... I decided to go with the Cubs, because both the 1975 and 1960 Topps designs are two of my all-time favorites.  Aramis is featured on one of my favorite relic sets.  And Monday is a real American hero.  Throw in Sosa's 609 career MLB home runs and the baseball cards have officially spoken.

Congratulations Chicago Cubs fans!  Based on the cards, it'll be a tight series... but your team will walk away as the 2016 World Series Champions.

Cleveland Indians fans... don't shoot the messenger.  Remember... it's in the cards!

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

How About That!

My students are in the middle of their Trading Card Project, which means I have baseball cards scattered all around my classroom right now.  Yesterday morning... one of my co-workers stopped by my classroom to see how my weekend went and noticed all of the cards.  He picked up a stack and started reminiscing about his childhood collection.

I'm guessing that we're about the same age, because we talked about collecting guys like McGwire, Clemens, Sandberg, and Mattingly.  He even told me about how he spent his entire savings on a Jose Canseco rookie card... which is something I possibly did myself back in the day.

It was really cool to see another grown man get excited about baseball cards.  He even told me he was interested in going with me to the next baseball card show.  You gotta love the power of nostalgia.

There's just something about opening up my 80's binder and looking at the cardboard I collected as a kid.  It's really magical.  I could be having the worst day ever... and those cards and memories will make things better.

The same thing applies to things like seeing cars on the road or toys I owned for sale at the flea market.  But the two things that make me feel the most nostalgic are music and television shows.  In fact whenever I hear certain television theme songs, it's like taking a trip back in time.

One that I'm especially fond of is This Week in Baseball's opening theme music.  The "dun-duh, dun-duh, dun-duh" instantly takes me back to my childhood days of watching one of my favorite sports television shows of all-time.

The show recapped all of the awesome highlights from around the league in a very interesting and almost poetic format.  The key to the show... at least for me... was Mel Allen, who was the voice of This Week in Baseball.  His iconic voice was made for baseball and his eloquent choice of words were my favorite things about the show.

That's why I've been trying to add a signed baseball of his to my collection for years.  Back in September I treated myself to a belated birthday present when I purchased this on eBay:

The ball has age spots, but overall it's in pretty nice condition and the signature is very clean.  Unfortunately Mr. Allen passed away back in 1996, so his autographs aren't exactly cheap... even though I'm sure he signed for thousands of baseball fans over his career.

I was hoping to find a PSA/DNA certified ball, but ended up settling for JSA because it was a little more affordable.  The seller was originally asking $125, but after going back and forth we settle on $78 (with free shipping).

This is the fifth autographed baseball I've added to my collection over the past three months.  The first one I showed off was the Ted Simmons I picked up at the card show.  Munenori Kawasaki was the second.  I'll show off the final two in the near future.  One of them was signed by my favorite athlete of all-time... Mr. Anthony Keith Gwynn, Sr.  How about that!

Happy Wednesday and sayonara!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Normally Not a Fan of Change

I've never been a fan of change.  When I was a kid, I started drinking Coke products.  These days, I don't drink a lot of soda, but when I do... it's usually a Coke or a Sprite.  Back in the early 80's... my father brought home and built our family an Apple IIe.  Thirty-something years later... I'm still using their computers.  And although I've changed my clothing styles a few times over the years... I've been a hoodie, cargo shorts, and flip-flops kind of guy for the past ten to fifteen years.  Like I said... I'm not a fan of change.

However when it comes to our hobby... I'm all about it.  It seems like I'm constantly fiddling with my collection.  Sometimes I'm obsessed with cheap 90's inserts.  Other times I'll start chasing down vintage singles I've always wanted.

Last year, I started collecting PSA/DNA slabbed autographed rookie cards of some of my favorite players.  Card companies are always inserting signed rookie cards into their products, but that wasn't the case back when I was growing up.

So now... I'm making up for lost time.  So far I've picked up signed rookie cards of Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux, Steve Largent, James Lofton, Joe Sakic, and Wade Boggs.  But my favorite purchase by a landslide is my 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson:

The only card I could envision knocking this card out of the top spot would be any Tony Gwynn autographed rookie card.  However prices are a little too high for my cardboard budget... so I don't think Rickey has anything to worry about.

Getting back to the topic of "change".  Anyone remember when it was kind of "taboo" to have a player sign their rookie card, because it was already valuable... and adding ink to the card would only bring down the value?

Well... from my personal experience... times have surely changed

Happy Monday and sayonara!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Ending the Weekend on a Brighter Note

There are few things I enjoy more than laying in bed listening to the rain outside with my eyes shut... which is exactly what I did this morning.

Unfortunately... rainy weather also means that I missed walking around the flea market for the second consecutive weekend.  That's okay... because at least I could stay indoors and watch the Packers and the Seahawks play.

Wait.  Both played during the same time slot, which meant that I either had to pick one game or flip/flop between the two games.  Sadly... both teams stunk it up this weekend.

At least I'd get to watch the Cubs/Dodgers game... which was actually pretty entertaining.  But hold on... the Cubs lost.

Overall... a sub-par Sunday.  Anyways... I figured I'd wrap things up on a positive note with a couple of care packages from fellow bloggers:

First up... P-town Tom hooked me up with a very generous package of Oakland Athletics cards.  One of my favorites is this 1960 Topps cards featuring the Kansas City A's coaches:

The regular 1960 Topps base card design is one of my all-time favorites.  The manager cards are second to none.  And the design they chose for their coaches cards isn't too shabby either.  Kudos to Topps.  

I remember DeJesus played with the Athletics a few years ago... but I honestly haven't thought about him since he left for the Chicago Cubs.  Great looking card though.  1952 Topps is another solid set design.

Tom also hooked me up with some 1993 Upper Deck holograms for my PC:

I needed both of these for my collection... plus this awesome diecut insert of Big Mac:

If that weren't enough... Tom also sent me about 70 other A's cards... including these cool inserts, oddballs, and rookie cards:

Thanks Tom!

Next up is a nice Canadian care package from Doug.  Whenever I see his name on a padded envelope, I know I'm going to be treated to some San Jose Sharks cardboard:

My favorite from the lot was this Joe Pavelski from the Upper Deck National Hockey Card Day set:

He also sent me a partial Zach Erwin rainbow:

I don't know much about Erwin... but he's a lefty and these three cards sure are shiny... so I'll look forward to seeing if the A's keep him around.

The last card I wanted to show off from Doug's care package is actually a 1983 Topps Sticker which features Rickey doing what he always did best.

Thanks Doug!

And rounding out this post is this 1981 Topps Brian Sipe card that KevAlan over at Card Collector's World sent me for my set:

Kevin has helped me a lot with this set.  So far he's singlehandedly chopped my wantlist in half.  Now I only need four more cards for the set.

Thanks Kevin!  And thanks again to Tom and Doug too.  All three of you guys helped add a little sunshine to my day.

Happy Sunday and sayonara!