Monthly Archives: March 2011

Play Ball!!!

Play Ball!!!

Finally we get to hear those two words we’ve been wanting to hear since November – ‘PLAY BALL’!!!

I am very excited that the 2011 baseball season is here.  And since the Marlins are not starting their season until tomorrow, I am going to make every effort possible to sneak over to the sports bar across the street from where I work to catch of few innings of this afternoon’s Yankees/Tigers contest. 

As a kid, I always wanted to go to an Opening Day game, but there was no team in Florida during my youth.  And as an adult, I guess that work and other priorities have gotten in my way as I have still not been able to conquer that dream.

I promise that one day I will!!!

Until then, ‘PLAY BALL‘!!!!

Yogi Berra, Strike Two!!!

Yogi Berra, Strike Two!!!

Oh man.  What to do, What to do…

You may recall that I sent a baseball and generous donation to Yogi Berra a few months ago in hopes of adding his autograph to my collection.  That attempt resulted in getting my baseball back, unsigned, with a price list of what it would cost to get my baseball or other items signed by the legendary Berra.

Almost immediately, the emails poured in.  Try this, Try that, Do this instead…

So, I took som advice, stepped up to the plate and send Mr. Berra another item – this time a baseball card.  Off it went, and now just under three weeks later, my baseball card has return and again it is unsigned.  And again, a price list accompanied my return.

$100 for an autograph on a baseball card is what they’re asking for.  If I wasn’t going to fork over $100 to get my ball signed, I am surely not going to send over a Benjamin Franklin to have Yogi sign my card.

So again, I ask – What to do, What to do…

1976 Topps Cincinnati Reds Teams Set – Card #491 – Terry Crowley

1976 Topps Cincinnati Reds Teams Set – Card #491 – Terry Crowley

Terry Crowley’s major league experience lasted through 15 seasons, 2 of which came in Cincinnati as a member of the Reds.  And lucky for him, it came at the right time…

He spent the 1974 and 1975 seasons with the team, and served his role as utility outfielder well.  Appearing in 150 games during that time, Crowley was primarily used in late innings, to give the starters a break when the game was pretty much decided.

He did play for the Reds during the 1975 World Series, and he earned a championship ring.  Appearing in two games, he went 1-for-2 collecting a hit in Game 6 off of Red Sox hurler Luis Tiant.

Willie Stargell 1976 Topps

Willie Stargell 1976 Topps

While the Green doesn’t really add anything to this baseball card featuring Hall of Famer, Mr. Willie Stargell, that Yellow that Topps used in the nameplate looks fantastic with the colors of the Pittsburgh Pirates!

1976 was a good season for ‘Pops’.  And at age 36, his days of crushing 40+ home runs were gone, but he still offered some pop.  During that season, Stargell hit .257 while collecting 110 hits, 20 of which were home runs and another 20 were doubles.  He was also responsible for driving in 65 runs and scoring 54.

A very nice, and vintage, addition to the ’30-YOC’ collection!!

Ozzie Smith 1995 Upper Deck ‘Traditional Threads’

Ozzie Smith 1995 Upper Deck ‘Traditional Threads’

Not really what I would expect from a subset called ‘Traditional Threads’ but I guess it works….

30-YOC’s Florida Marlins 2011 Baseball Season Preview

30-YOC’s Florida Marlins 2011 Baseball Season Preview

As we prepare for the start of the 2011 baseball season, I have a lot of open questions about how the Florida Marlins will do during the course of 162 games.

A very competitive team, regardless of their payroll, I am left wondering if one of the youngest teams in baseball can compete in a veteran-dominated division.  And while I think that it is safe to say that the Philadelphia Phillies are heads-and-shoulders above the remainder of the teams in the NL East, the battle for 2nd place, and a possible Wild Card playoff spot remains a race to the end.

Can the Marlins compete in that race?  Can they win it?

Well, they certainly did attack their weakest part during the offseason - their bullpen.  Adding veteran help through trades and free agency, the team has a bullpen full of experienced players – now their roles just need to be established.  Leo Nunez has been tabbed as the closer, but the team has more options this year than they did a year ago if he struggles.  And with the additions of Randy Choate, Mike Dunn, and Ryan Webb, we finally have players that have proven to be valuable in late innings.  Hopefully that translates to fewer late-inning losses – a true step in the right direction.

As for the starters, Josh Johnson leads the way as the team’s ace and I expect another solid season from him.  If he can maintain his health throughout the year and get 32+ starts, I see a 16-18 game winning season, and another campaign as one of the best pitchers in the game from an ERA standpoint.  Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez will fill 2 more spots, leaving a spot for newly-acquired Javier Vasquez who I am expecting big things from.  If Vasquez can throw 180+ innings and compile 30+ starts, I think he can rack up a 14+ win season and solidify his spot in the rotation as the team’s veteran leader.  That leaves the 5th spot - a very troublesome one for me…  The spot will go to Chris Volstad, though he has hardly done anything to earn it.  While physically imposing, his stuff is not.  For a starting pitcher, he allows way too many base runners for my liking – his WHIP at 1.40 is just not exciting to look forward to.  My preference would be to see Alex Sanabia or Sean West get a crack at making the rotation – from what I have seen prior, their upside potential is higher than that of Volstad’s.

Offensively the team is solid – young, but solid.  Gone is Dan Uggla, but everyone feels that 21-year old slugger Mike Stanton can deliver 30/100 in his place.  And with the young and hungry talent of Chris Coghlan, Gaby Sanchez, and Logan Morisson in the line-up, the Marlins have a lot of good contact hitters, each with a knack for hitting line-drives.  While still not official, it does sound like Donnie Murphy won the starting third base job with Omar Infante at second.  If that works out, anything we get from these two guys is icing on the cake as neither offers an offensive specialty.  John Buck, an All-Star with the Blue Jays, will be the team’s primary catcher.  And while I am eager to see how he works with the pitching staff, I am more excited to finally see the team have a catcher that is an offensive threat – it has been a long time since Pudge was here…

And then we have Hanley.  Oh, Hanley.  I love to watch you play – and when you want to play you are one of the best in the sport!!  Your skills are the best on the team – and your desire to finally stand up and lead the team is an absolute step in the right direction.  You can give us a .320/35/100 season – please do that.  Lead by example, please.  It all lies on your shoulders – your ability to ignite the team’s offense as the #3 hitter will be what makes or breaks this team and its chances of winning.

So, how will they do?  Hmm….

I would love to say that I see a World Series title in the Florida Marlins’ future.  I do actually, just not in 2011.  The team is built for 2012-2013.  But that doesn’t mean that they cannot win, and win more than lose.

So, here is my prediction:

The Florida Marlins will finish in 3rd place in the NL East, behind the Phillies and Braves.  I am predicting 88-96 wins this season, and the race between 2nd and 3rd place will come down to the final weeks of the season.  No team in the East will be able to match Philly and their immense pitching staff.  And while I don’t think that the Braves are that much better than the Marlins, I do think that their older, more veteran line-up will squeeze out a few more wins.

There you have it.

I am so ready to see the action.

GO FISH!!!!

Cincinnati Reds Hall Of Fame Unveils Johnny Bench Exhibit

Cincinnati Reds Hall Of Fame Unveils Johnny Bench Exhibit

CINCINNATI – The Cincinnati Reds honored one of their own by opening an exhibit this weekend that highlights the career of the arguably the greatest catcher in the history of Major League Baseball.

The new Johnny Bench exhibit debuts Saturday at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.

Bench cut the ribbon at the official opening of the feature exhibit of 2011, Johnny Bench: A Celebration of Baseball’s Greatest Catcher presented by Dinsmore and Shohl LLP.

The year-long exhibit follows Bench from the sandlots of Oklahoma to the stadiums around the major leagues. It includes never-before-seen artifacts, many of which originate from Bench’s personal collection. In addition, video and audio elements will take visitors back in time to see how Bench and his Big Red Machine teammates unleashed their formidable talents on the opposition.

“We are thrilled to honor Johnny through this year-long celebration,” said Rick Walls, Executive Director of the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum. “As the greatest catcher of all time, Bench’s extraordinary career and influence on the game will now be showcased like never before.”

Bench was born in Binger, Oklahoma in 1947. In 1968, his first full season in a Reds uniform, he won the Rookie of the Year award.

Bench went on to play 17 seasons during which he revolutionized the position and served as one of the key components in the dominant Big Red Machine teams of the 1970s.

Bench possessed a rare combination of offense and defense. He’s still regarded today as the best catcher to ever play the game.

During his Hall of Fame career Bench was elected to 14 All Star teams, won 10 Gold Gloves, two National League MVP Awards and helped the Reds win two World Series Championships.

Bench was inducted in to the Reds Hall of Fame in 1986 and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.

Bench remains a fixture in the Cincinnati community and had his number 5 retired by the team in 1984.

For more information on the Johnny Bench exhibit and other things offered at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, go to http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/cin/hof/ or call (513) 765-7923.

The exhibit runs through Jan. 31, 2012.

Fergie Jenkins 2001 Donruss Signature Series Certified Autograph!!!

Fergie Jenkins 2001 Donruss Signature Series Certified Autograph!!!

Hell Yeah!!!

Another great addition to my growing collection that pays tribute to the baseball career of Fergie Jenkins – and this time it’s an autograph!!!

The card, issued in 2001 by Donruss, is from a set tagged as ‘Milestone Marks’.  The card is serial numbered as 77/149 and celebrates the 3,000th strikeout of Fergie’s career.

From the back – “A consistent pitcher with remarkable control, Jenkins is Canada’s first member of the Hall of Fame.  A hard-throwing right-hander, he strung together six years with at least 20 wins and finished with 3,192 strikeouts, resting 11th on the all-time strikeout list.”

‘On The Road With psuGator02′ – Jose OR Ozzie Canseco – March 25, 2011

‘On The Road With psuGator02′ – Jose OR Ozzie Canseco – March 25, 2011

Friday, March 25
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
Hollywood, Fla.
8:30-9:30 p.m.

My friend told me a few weeks ago that Jose Canseco would be in town for a boxing match. I had planned on attending the fight but thought it might be easier to graph the weigh-in. I arrived at 8:30 p.m. sharp but wasn’t sure of the venue’s location. I walked around for a few minutes when I saw Canseco with a gorgeous blonde. I was in the process of taking out the four items I had brought for him — I had gotten him before and recall him being a good signer so I was hoping to get everything done — when a friend asked me what I was doing. I told him what I thought was obvious. “I’m going to get Jose to sign my photo, magazine and two baseballs. What do you think I’m doing?” In his typical sarcastic tone, he replied, “Well, jackass, that’s not Jose.” Said me: “What do you mean, it’s not Jose?” Said him: “Well, that’s his twin brother Ozzie. I guess he’s in town to support his brother.” Made sense to me. I knew how difficult it was to tell them apart because I had graphed them back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

I waited 45 minutes for the weigh-in to begin. The person my friend said was Ozzie was actually Jose. My friend whispered to me, “Sorry dude, I guess I was wrong.” I waited until the end of the weigh-in and had Jose sign an 8×10 and a classic Beckett magazine. He also took a picture with me.

Jose Canseco: 2/2 (Beckett, 8×10) in blue Sharpie with picwith

Here’s where things get odd. A minute or two before Jose signed my items I watched as he signed baseballs for a couple. The woman, followed by her man, approached Jose and asked if he would sign their ROMLBs. They were obvious professionals, as both asked if Jose would mind adding the inscription to his graph. Said Jose: “What do you mean ‘inscription’?” Said the man, “You know, write ‘MVP’ and then the year you won it.” Jose proceeded to write “MVP.” Said the man: “Would you mind writing the year you won it?” Said Jose to the man: “What year did I win it?”

In 1988, Canseco was named the American League MVP yet this night he didn’t remember the year he won it? He had to have been drunk or high for that to have been true, and he appeared sober from everything I could tell. I got my items done but soon forgot about the night’s events. It wasn’t until Sunday afternoon (March 27), when I got a phone call from the same friend who gave me the first tip that the events of Friday night were again brought to my attention.

“It really was Ozzie,” my friend told me. Seems the fight that was scheduled for Saturday never took place. Ozzie, standing in as Jose, demanded from the promoter $5,000 in cash as opposed to a $5,000 check, which had already been made out to Jose. The promoter refused, saying that for business purposes he would have to give him a check. An agreement must have been reached because a shirtless Ozzie finally did enter the ring. It took minutes for the crowd to figure out the ruse. It couldn’t have been difficult: Jose’s back is adorned with tatoos while Ozzie’s is not. Police were called, with Ozzie receiving a police escort out of the Hard Rock.

I may have gotten some of the details wrong so I’ll refer you to The Miami Herald’s version of events. Here’s the link:

Former slugger Jose Canseco skips boxing match, sends twin brother to Hard Rock event – People – MiamiHerald.com

Here are some of the pictures I took during Friday’s weigh-in:

Ron Santo 1969 Topps All-Star

Ron Santo 1969 Topps All-Star

While I don’t like the 1969 Topps All-Star cards as much as the similarly inspired ones from the 1970 set, I do enjoy the newspaper-esque design that both offered.

And it’s nice to see Santo celebrated by Topps for his All-Star selection – especially when there are so many Hall of Famers amongst his peers.

So, what did Santo do to earn an All-Star berth in 1969?  Let’s take a look at the numbers: 166 hits, .289 batting average, .384 on-base percentage, 18 doubles, 29 home runs, 123 RBI, 97 runs scored, and 1 stolen base.

All-Star worthy?  Indeed.