Daily Archives: December 28, 2012

Hank Aaron 2011 Topps Triple Threads – Red

Hank Aaron 2011 Topps Triple Threads – Red

One of the things that I like the most about collecting modern cards of Hank Aaron is that you get to see the full gamot of Braves uniforms and logos from the late 1950s into the mid-1970s.

This card comes from the 2011 Topps Triple Threads baseball card set.  This is the Red version of the card and it is serial numbered as 475/1500.  The photo selected by Topps is perfect, as it allows you to see quite a bit of detail in Hank’s uniform.

Check it out:


I really like those old Braves patches.  And that helmet brings back a lot of memories for me too.

Also, the Red from this card complements the Braves’ colors very well.  I am very happy to have this card in my collection.


Brooks Robinson 2003 Donruss Classics ‘Legend’

Brooks Robinson 2003 Donruss Classics ‘Legend’

There he is – The GREATEST defensive third baseman in baseball history!!

And this card of him from the 2003 Donruss Classics ‘Legend’ set shows him preparing to do what he did best – defend the line!!!

Go Get ‘Em Brooks!!!


Oh yeah, this card is serial numbered as 1041/1500 too.  Just another reason to really, really like it…


Dave Parker 1977 Topps – Donut Time!!!

Dave Parker 1977 Topps – Donut Time!!!

I’ve always liked the 1977 Topps baseball card set.  Not only does it feature the rookie card of my favorite player of all-time, but I have always been a sucker for cards that feature pennant-styled graphics.  That is probably why I like the 1965 Topps so much as well (can’t wait for 2013 Heritage!!).

The newest addition to my Dave Parker player collection is his card from the 1977 Topps set.  Not only does the card’s Yellow and Black team and player name work very well with the colors that Parker is sporting in the photo, but he also has a very visible batting donut on his bat too!!!

Have a look:


To summarize:  I love the 1977 Topps set.  I like all sports cards that feature a pennant in their graphics package.  Any card that shows a player utilizing a batting donut while warming up makes me giddy!!!

A fantastic addition to my Dave Parker collection – YES!

Did You Know…

As a member of the ‘500 Home Runs Club’, Hank Aaron never hit 50 home runs in a single season.  Aaron crushed 40 or more home runs in eight different seasons, with his highest tally of 47 round-trippers coming in 1971.

hank aaron

Amazingly, two more members of the club to never amass 50 or more homers in a single season are Willie Mays and Frank Robinson.

First Look: New 2013 MLB Batting Practice Caps w/Pictures

First Look: New 2013 MLB Batting Practice Caps w/Pictures

From ESPN.com, written by Paul Lucas



Every three or four years, all 30 MLB teams get new batting practice cap designs. The upcoming season is one of those years, so you’ll soon see teams unveiling their new BP caps (which will also be worn throughout spring training, natch). But thanks to an inside source, Uni Watch is now prepared to provide you with an exclusive sneak peek at the new headwear — 36 new caps in all, because some teams have separate designs for home and away.
The longstanding BP cap trend has been that each design cycle is worse than the previous one. But Uni Watch is happy to report that this streak has finally been broken. The new caps have no silly stretch panels and no extraneous design. So most of the new caps are better than the old ones.
There are a few new trends, however, some of which work better with certain teams than with others:
• Of the 36 new cap designs, 31 of them have contrasting brims (in other words, brim color doesn’t match the crown color). Almost all of these also have contrasting squatchees (that’s the little button on the top of the cap). For the most part, all of this looks fine, although it’s a little weird to see the Yankees with a contrasting brim.
• Remember the 1970s trend of contrast-colored front panels? Nine of the new designs go this route. Occasionally it works really well; more often it crashes and burns.
• The industry-wide trend toward the use of gray has now begun to spread to BP caps. Not a good look.
OK, enough preliminaries. Here’s a team-by-team assessment of the new designs:



Uni Watch would rather see the Halos scrap the blue brim and go with solid red, but this is still a respectable design. Grade: B+



Did you see what they did there? The circle around the logo has a tequila sunrise gradation — genius! Grade: A+



Always loved that elephant logo (if you’re not familiar with the story behind it, look here), and the gold squatchee is the cherry on top. Grade: A

Blue Jays


OK, we get it that they’re MLB’s only Canadian team. Would prefer to see the jay’s head logo instead. Grade: B-



Last year the Braves conspicuously avoided using their “screaming Indian” logo as a sleeve patch on their retro alternate jersey — a welcome move for those of us who oppose the appropriation of Native American imagery in sports. Unfortunately, it turns out that the logo hasn’t been permanently mothballed. Disappointing. Grade: F

Brewers (primary)


Look closely and you can see that this cap is white in the front and blue on the sides, a look that doesn’t feel right for the Brewers’ current design motif. Grade: C

Brewers (alternate)


The contrast-colored front panel works just fine with this throwback logo, however. Much better. Grade: A-



The Cardinals are going to be wearing their red caps on the road in 2013 (the navy caps are being relegated to alternate status), so it’s odd that they’re going with a navy BP cap. Grade: B+



For people who still miss the old red-brimmed road cap, this design is a reasonable facsimile. Grade: B+



Really nice mix of the team’s original logo and its current color scheme. Well done. Grade: A



The current infatuation with gray throughout the sports world continues to confound. Is Uni Watch the only one who thinks this design looks incredibly drab? Grade: C-



Perfectly nice design, but the only Giants BP cap design that really matters is the one that Willie Mays always wears. Grade: A



This team’s chromatic identity crisis shows no signs of abating: Are they blue with red trim or red with blue trim? (Answer: Yes.) And while it’s nice that they’re keeping Chief Wahoo off their BP caps, the block “C” logo feels way too generic. Grade: C



Nothing to complain about here, although a green cap would’ve been a more interesting route to take. Grade: B+

Marlins (home)


A black cap with a white front panel? Yeesh. It’s a shame, too, because the Marlins are also adding a sharp-looking road BP cap. They’d have been better off using that one full-time. Grades: C (home) and A (road)



Mr. Met has appeared only one time on a Mets uni component (he was a sleeve patch for a fauxback that was worn three times in 2009), so it’s cool to see him on the BP cap. One quibble, though: The cap has an orange brim, but the Mr. Met shown on the cap has a blue brim. This isn’t just an inconsistency — it’s inappropriate because the original Mr. Met cartoon character always wore an orange-brimmed cap. Grade: A-



The multi-colored panel treatment totally works here, because the red-white-blue effect seems appropriate for a team in Washington. Grade: A-



Great to see the cartoon bird ruling the roost on Baltimore’s BP cap. Never liked the orange front panel, though (a look that dates back to the mid-1970s). Grade: B-



A white cap with a navy front panel? Woof! Further evidence that this franchise has completely lost its way design-wise. Grade: D



Now that’s how it’s done. Basically an inverse version of their alternate cap. Very nice. Grade: A



Unusual approach here: a contrasting brim but a non-contrasting squatchee. No other new BP cap fits that description. Meanwhile, is anyone else bothered by the fact that the Pirates’ logo doesn’t have one of those pointy serifs at the top-left corner? Makes the whole thing feel out of balance. Grade: B



The Rangers wore this same BP cap logo, with the Texas state flag, from 2003 through 2006. Felt too busy then, still feels too busy now, and the red brim on this version adds to the overkill. Grade: C+



Been wondering when the Rays would start using the sunburst logo on a cap. Not a bad look. Feels sort of Friday casual, which is what a BP cap should be. Grade: A-

Red Sox


Kind of surprised they’re not using the hanging Sox logo for this cap. Surprised, but not disappointed. Grade: A-

Reds (home)


The Mets aren’t the only team putting a baseball-headed mascot character on their BP cap. Everyone likes Mr. Redlegs (depicted on the cap with one upturned collar point, as per his longstanding style), but it’s a shame they felt the need to add a black road version. Grades: A- (home) and C+ (road)



The Rockies wore this logo on their futuristic jerseys in 1999, but they’ve never worn it on a cap before. Does it work, or will it just look like a smudge when rendered in cloth and thread? Too soon to say, but at least it’s more interesting than their generic “CR” logo. Grade: Incomplete



The Royals came into existence at just the right time to wear a multicolored crown, but they’ve never worn one — until now. Not awful, but it feels a tad rinky-dink, especially for a franchise that needs all the gravitas it can get. Grade: B

Tigers (home)


A white front panel? For the Tigers? Just the thought of Jim Leyland wearing this is embarrassing. Actually, he looked pretty embarrassing (and embarrassed) in last year’s BP cap design, too. Grade: C-

Tigers (road)


At least the crown is all one color. But gray? Snoozers. Which rhymes with “losers.” Grade: C-

Twins (home)


The white front panel makes sense for the Twins, because they’ve worn that style before as a batting helmet. They’re also adding a road design, which seems like a bit much. Like, the Twins, of all teams, really need separate home and road BP caps? Grades: A (home) and B- (road)

White Sox


Not bad. But given how everyone else is using those white front panels, this might’ve been a good time for the Sox to revive this design. Grade: B+

Yankees (home)


A white brim for the Bronx Bombers? Say it ain’t so. Even the white squatchee feels un-Yankees-like. Grade: C-

Yankees (road)


At least the gray brim and squatchee don’t stand out as glaringly as their white counterparts. Still pretty bad, though. Grade: C+
And there you have it. How many days until pitchers and catchers?

Hall Of Fame Debate: Making The Case For Lee Smith

Hall Of Fame Debate: Making The Case For Lee Smith

There are few eligible players for Cooperstown that I feel truly deserve to be enshrined before Lee Arthur Smith.  To be more precise, 2-3 and that is it.

He may have done it quietly, but Lee Smith’s career numbers are on par, if not better (or much better) than his peers from the same era.  Smith took the consistency of closing games to a new level, and he did it over a 18-year major league career.

I am not certain as to what has held Smith out of the Hall of Fame.  But, I think that I can narrow it down to a few things that do get mentioned often: (1) No World Series appearances (2) Losing Record (3) Played for 7 teams in final 3 seasons (4) Lack of true ‘Calling Card’. 

With all of that being said, one cannot simply ignore what Lee Smith has accomplished on the baseball field, specifically the pitching mound.  His numbers are unreal, and in some cases, far more impressive that those of a few other players that have been elected in recent years that played the same position.

So, I thought it would be worthwhile to compare Smith’s career to the careers of Rollie Fingers, Rich ‘Goose’ Gossage, and Bruce Sutter.  I think that is fair company.  I am purposely leaving Dennis Eckersley out of the group – he was a tier above these guys (in my opinion).

So, on to the comparison!!!

  Smith Fingers Gossage Sutter
Seasons 18 17 22 12
Seasons as closer 18 15 21 12
Wins 91 114 124 68
Losses 92 118 107 71
Win % 43.60% 49.10% 53.70% 48.90%
Saves 478 341 310 300
30+ Save Seasons 11 2 2 2
40+ Save Seasons 4 0 0 1
Innings 1289.1 1701.1 1809.1 1042
ERA 3.03 2.9 3.01 2.83
Strikeouts 1251 1299 1502 861
Walks 486 492 732 309
K:Walk ratio 2.57 2.64 2.05 2.79
K’s per 9 innings 8.7 6.9 7.5 7.4
All-Star 7 7 9 6
Cy Young 1 1
Playoff Seasons 2 6 4 1
World Series Titles 3 1 1


Wow, when you look at these numbers it really demonstrates just how well Lee Smith performed in the closer’s role.  The number of 30 and 40-save seasons that Smith put up easily out distances the field.  And the strikeouts per nine innings shows just how dominant Smith was in the ninth inning. 

Ultimately, I think that there are two things that really hurt Smith – (1) lack of World Series wins/appearances (2) the team-to-team movement that occurred very late in his career.

But, is that enough to not induct him into the National Baseball Hall Of Fame?  I don’t think so.  And to be honest, when comparing him to the other three members that I did above, I would call him a HOFer before I would call the names of Bruce Sutter and Rich Gossage.  I am not saying that they do not belong, but I feel that Smith’s body of work is more complete and more ‘special’ as compared to theirs.

What do you think?  Is Lee Smith a Hall of Famer?  Should he already be enshrined at Cooperstown?

Does Lee Smith get your vote?  He already has mine!!

Lee Smith photo

Former World Series MVP Hideki Matsui Retires From Major League Baseball

Former World Series MVP Hideki Matsui Retires From Major League Baseball

From MLB.com

‘Godzilla’ tallied 175 home runs, 760 RBIs in 10 Major League seasons

Slugger Hideki Matsui, the 2009 World Series MVP, announced his retirement on Thursday at a news conference in New York.

Matsui, 38, spent 20 years playing professional baseball, establishing himself as one of Japan’s most dominant hitters with the Yomiuri Giants from 1993-2002 before signing with the Yankees and playing out his career in the Majors. Nicknamed “Godzilla” for his powerful swing, Matsui totaled 332 home runs in Japan and 175 more in the Majors.

“I want to thank all my fans, in the past 20 years — 10 years in Japan and 10 years in the U.S. — who have supported me,” Matsui said. “I was supported by many fans and wonderful coaches and teammates.”

A career .282 hitter with 760 RBIs, Matsui owns the highest home run, RBI and walk totals for any Japanese player in Major League history. He played 1,250 consecutive games to finish his Japanese career and didn’t miss a game in his first three seasons with the Yankees, playing 518 straight contests before finally missing a game.

He was a three-time MVP and nine-time All-Star in the Central League in Japan before coming to America and signing with the Yankees in December 2002. He made two All-Star teams for the Bombers from 2003 to ’09 and won the 2009 World Series MVP after going 8-for-13 with three homers and eight RBIs as the Yankees beat the Phillies.

“I’ve said it numerous times over the years, but it’s worth repeating now: I’ve had a lot of teammates over the years with the Yankees, but I will always consider Hideki one of my favorites,” Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said in a statement. “The way he went about his business day in and day out was impressive. Despite being shadowed by a large group of reporters, having the pressures of performing for his fans both in New York and Japan and becoming acclimated to the bright lights of New York City, he always remained focused and committed to his job and to those of us he shared the clubhouse with.

“I have a lot of respect for Hideki. He was someone we counted on a great deal and he’s a big reason why we became world champions in 2009.”

Matsui hit 21 homers with the Angels in 2010 then saw his numbers decline with the A’s in 2011. He signed a Minor League contract with Tampa Bay on April 30 and bashed two home runs in his first three games, but he hit .147 in just 34 games after returning to the Majors on May 29.

The Rays designated Matsui for assignment on July 25 and officially released him on Aug. 1.

“These past two years, I wasn’t able to yield very good results, and from around five years ago, both of my knees hadn’t been doing too well,” Matsui said. “Even after going through surgery, my physical condition wasn’t at its best.”

Although he wore down toward the end of his career, Matsui was a significant contributor right from the beginning when he arrived in the Majors. On April 8, 2003, he became the first player in Yankees history to hit a grand slam in his Yankee Stadium debut.

Matsui went on to hit .287 with a .788 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage), 16 home runs and 106 RBIs as a 29-year-old rookie, finishing a close second to the Royals’ Angel Berroa in the American League Rookie of the Year voting. He notched career highs the next season with 31 homers and a .912 OPS and compiled a .292/.370/.482 batting line in seven seasons with New York.

“Hideki Matsui, in many ways, embodied what this organization stands for,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. “He was dedicated to his craft, embraced his responsibilities to his team and fans, and elevated his play when he was needed the most. He did all these things with a humility that was distinctly his own, which is why he was such a big part of our success and why he will always be a cherished member of the Yankees family.”