Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Who was shortest catcher in Padres history?

Here's a trivia question for you...Who was the shortest catcher in San Diego history?

On  this date, July 30, 1998, C Carlos Hernandez cracked a pinch-hit, two-run double with two outs in the top of the 10th inning to allow the Padres to salvage the finale of their three-game set with the Mets, 3-1.
The card on the left, his 1998 Collector's Choice, shows him in full catching regalia, tracking down a pop fly. To the right, is his 1999 Upper Deck MVP card, showing what he could do at the plate, .

The 1998 season got off to a good start for Hernandez, as he rapped a game-tying, two-run homer in the ninth inning of the Padres home opener against the Reds. They would go on to beat Cincinnati 3-2 in 10 innings. Hernandez, meanwhile, would go on to hit career homers (9) and RBIs (52) with the Padres that season.

While Carlos was known primarily as a defensive specialist, he proved to have a surprising amount of pop in his bat, after the Padres signed him away from the Dodgers in 1997.  That pop proved helpful as the Friars went on to win the National League pennant that year. He was also Trevor Hoffman's battery mate in the final game of the 1998 NLCS, a 5-0 win over the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

Catching is my favorite position, having played the position myself - and yes, I did have all the tools of ignorance. While I didn't have a great arm for throwing out base runners, I could catch anything thrown at me, nothing got past me, and I could absorb a hit from a runner coming home from third (You didn't have to avoid contact back in those days - you could plow into the catcher if you had the chance).

Was he one the Padres' best catchers? I don't think so, especially with a gentleman named Benito, who preceded Hernandez by a few years. As for me, Gene Tenace was one of my favorite backstops (and I feel often underrated) for San Diego.

Trivia answer -- It was actually a tie. Hernandez, as well as George Williams (who played six games for the Padres in 2000), both reached 5'10" after drawing themselves up to their full height..

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The long and short of Tony Gwynn

In the mail this past week, I received a pair of Tony Gwynn figurines -- the first I've ever owned. The great news, is they only cost 99 cents each. And both picture Gwynn in blue Padres pinstripes.
The tall one was a 2004 stadium giveaway from Home Depot. Numbered 4,039/16,000, it stands 7 1/4-inch tall and shows Gwynn finding the sweet spot as he connects with the ball. It's a plasticine figurine, so I'd be scared to death of dropping it. The bat also unscrews for storage and shipping.
To me, it's a pretty close approximation to the 10-foot bronze statue of Tony Gwynn dedicated at Petco's Park at the Park in April 2007. A little more than two weeks later, he would be inducted, along with Cal Ripken, Jr., into the baseball hall of fame. For those of you who may be curious, that's my wife and I during our 2007 visit to San Diego, after we saw Chris Young and the Padres beat the Giants 1-0.
The other statue is the 1997 Corinthian Headliners Tony Gwynn. It stands only 3 1/4-inches tall, made of plastic, with a removable hat. This series, consisting of 34 figures, was produced by Corinthian Marketing and sold through mass market retail outlets at a suggested retail price of $3.99.
Needless to say, there was a fair bit of difference in shipping the two items. The larger Gwynn cost almost $13 in shipping, as it came in a larger box. The Corinthian Gwynn arrived in a simple padded envelope.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The art of card inventory

One of the first things I do whenever I get new cards, is immediately rush to my computer and begin logging them in. That may seem a bit geeky, but to me, organization is everything.

I have more than 12.000 baseball cards inventoried (not including my Padres cards, which reside within their own inventory system). Hockey cards are my only other vice, and I have more than 27,000 cards organized within a neat little Microsoft Excel file.

Whether its hockey, or baseball, if I’m looking for a specific set, all I have to do is type in that set and VIOLA, there they are. Same thing with individual cards -- whether they're serial numbered cards, RC’s, SP’s, a specific player, or specific team – all it takes is a keystroke and I have all that information readily available at my fingertips.

Since I do a lot of trading, this information really comes in handy –whether I’m looking for specific cards, whether I already have them or not, and what I have available to offer them in trade.

Here, for example, is how I have my baseball cards inventoried.

Card #
Cubs Topps Heritage
Barton Daric A’s Topps Allen & Ginter Mini
Baumgarner Madison Giants Topps Gypsy Queen Mini
Bautista Jose Jays Topps 60

The first column is always the quantity of that specific card, followed by the player’s last and first name. The fourth column is his team, and the brand and set of the card, as well as the year it was released. The seventh column contains the card number, with Type being RC, SP, or serial number. Value is the value of the card, since this is handy in trading, as well as for insurance purposes.

As I stated earlier, my Padres cards are held within a completely different, separate inventory. Here’s an example of just a few of my Steve Garvey cards.

Garvey, Steve, 1B, (1983-87)
Nestle Dream Team
Padres Mothers

I have a worksheet for each letter of the alphabet, where each Padres player is listed by last name, first, position, and the years they played for San Diego. If they've never made it to the Bigs, “Minor Leaguer” is listed within the year.

I list the quantity in the first column and the number of extra copies in the next. The third column consists of the year, followed by the set and card number. Column #6 is Type – again, that’s RC, Auto, SP, or S/N. #/# is for the serial number/print run and Note is for any other notes, such as the reason a card may be an uncorrected error (UER), or any other such note. The final column, again, is nice to have for insurance, and to know what your general collection is worth.

When I'm done, I then put the cards into a 5,000 count box -- each player has a slot with their last and first name and that's where their card resides.

 Believe it or not, inventorying the cards is the easy part. The hard part is taking the time to put the cards into their respective slots. I can inventory a bunch of cards in a matter of minutes, but then it takes about a half hour to an hour to put them into the box, since I usually sort them alphabetically and then place them into the box.

In any case, that's how I sort my cards. I feel it's an efficient way of organizing my collection so I know exactly what cards I have at any specific time. Plus, it's neat to go through the box every now and then and feel, see and review all my Padres cards.

Do you inventory your cards, and if so, how do you do it?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I now have a computer again!

Hallelujah !  I now have a new computer, although it took me a whole lot more time than I thought it would. I bought the computer last Monday at a Best Buy I used to work in (a lifetime ago). I stopped in Friday, and they said they would call me to let me know the status. Saturday morning, I had my wife call, and they said they had just completed the set-up, since "they were busy." But, they then  had to transfer the files from my old computer to my new computer, which they estimated to be about nine hours. Bottom line, I was finally computer equipped about 7 p.m. Saturday night.

It's amazing, but life without a computer is like life without a microwave. You don't realize how dependent you are upon it, until it's gone.

At least now, I can get going on my blog again.

Oh happy Days!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Goodies in the mail -- Padres program and Alonso auto

(A previous column I hadn't had the chance to publish)

I had a couple of nice packages in the mail the other day. As you all know I collect everything and anything San Diego Padres, so I was stoked to receive a 1984 World Series Program from the Friars' first World Series appearance. Despite losing four games to one against the Detroit Tigers, the Padres had an outstanding 2004 season.

What I remember the most, however, was what it took for them to get into the series -- Especially that last playoff series against the Cubs. I remember sitting in the back row of the Spanish class I was taking at the University of Iowa at that time, with a hoody on and an earphone stuck in my ear listening to the Padres/Cubs games. Thankfully, I wasn't asked to answer any questions that day, but I do remember one of my classmates laughing at me when I jumped up straight in my seat, pumping my fist.
The program was in perfect shape. After carefully looking through it (I loved the features on the SD players), I placed it in a plastic sleeve for safekeeping.
My other package, was a really nice Yonder Alonso auto...
I couldn't resist this card when I saw it on E-Bay, and surprisingly enough, it only cost me about $3.
Alonso was a great pick-up for the Padres, along with Edinson Volquez, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger. , Edinson Volquez, Yasmani Grandal, and Brad Boxberger were traded to the San Diego Padres for Mat Latos on December 17, 2011

Ouch - The computer is down. Again!

Unfortuantely, my computer is down once more -- no picture or anything once you turn it on.. I'll have to scramble to see what I can come up with.

As it is, it's the processor that's bad and according to the rep, almost impossible to replace cheaply. So, I'm going to have to fund a trip to the store to pick up a new computer. A shame, actually, this one only lasted two and-a-half, to three years, since I picked it up after I got back from Iraq.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

10-pack Value Repack - 2012 Topps Opening Day

Today begins day one of the 11 furlough days for Iowa National Guard technicians. If government officials say sequestration is no big issue, that the military is overstating the significance of sequestration, I beg to differ.
I am the face of sequestration. I have to take one unpaid day off a week, so I'll be losing approximately 20% of each paycheck, in order for the government to make up its deficit. I have to admit, it really, really sucks. We haven't even had a cost of living pay increase in the last three years (or if we did, it was minimal enough not for us to notice).
Sorry for getting on a soapbox. Now, however, time for happy news - let's open those two packs of 2012 Topps Opening Day. To be truthful, I’m not a big fan of this series. Basically, all it is, is 2012 Topps, with an Opening Day banner printed on it. The only nice thing about it, it’s a relatively cheap pack (ain’t that the truth) for younger collectors to spend their allowance on.

Once both packs were opened, this is what I ended up with.

Jhoulys Chacin – Rockies

Michael Cuddyer – Rockies

Jacoby Ellsbury – Red Sox

Freddie Freeman – Braves

Eric Hosmer – Royals

Torii Hunter – Angels

Jason Kipnis – Indians

Jon Lester – Red Sox

Casey McGehee – Pirates

Ricky Nolasco - Marlins

CC Sabathia - Yankees

Sergio Santos – Blue Jays


   Mark Trumbo – Superstar Celebrations

   David Wright – Elite Skills
 Either Torri Huner is a great comedian, or he must have pulled off one heck of prank. C Hank Conger is even laughing. Almsot makes you wonder, doesn't it? I like the Ellsbury card, since it's hard to find good action shots at the plate. It looks like he's just ahead of the tag of Seattle's Jesus Sucre, as the helmet goes flying.
Here's the inserts. Nothing too impressive...
Okay kiddos, six packs down, three to go. tomorrow we'll crack the 2012 Topps, saving the 2010 Topps 206 for Friday.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

10 pack Value Repacks -- 1989 Donruss & 2012 Topps Chrome

As I stated earlier, I had bought a 10-pack value repack at our local Target and received a (1) 2012 Topps Chrome; (2) 2012 Topps Opening Day; (1) 1989 Donruss; (1) 1987 Donruss; (1) 2012 Topps; (1) Leaf Living Lengend Pete Rose (Ich!); (1) Jumbo Pack 2012 Donruss (they count this as one pack, actually); (1) 2007 Ultra; and a (1) 2010 Topps 206 Value Pack (12 cards, but they also count it as one pack).

 On Sunday, I opened the 1989 Donruss and 2007 Ultra. Today, I’ll be opening the 1989 Donruss and 2012 Topps Chrome.

 Oh, those 1989 Donruss – bright red, with the little black and white speckles on the sides – they’re almost as recognizable as the bright yellow 1991 Fleer cards. Besides the Carl Yastrzemski puzzle piece, I found a pair of rookies, and some “name” ball players, but that’s about it. And again, tonight, I’m shut out on Padres cards.  

 Larry Anderson – Astros

Harold Baines – Rangers

George Bell – Blue Jays (MVP)

Brian Dowing – Angels

Brian Dubois – Tigers (RC)

Mike Fitzgerald – Expos

Kirk Gibson – Tigers

Rene Gonzalez – Orioles

Danny Heep – Red Sox

Rick Honeycutt – A’s

Tom Magrann – Indians (RC)

Paul Molitor – Brewers (MVP)

Jeff Montgomery – Royals

Clay Parker - Yankees

Byrn Smith – Expos (Diamond King)

Frank Viola – Mets


Two of these cards particularly stand out for me. One, is the menacing look of Kirk Gibson at the plate. This was more than likely the look Dennis Eckersley faced in game 1 of the 1988 World Series. In his only plate appearance of the series, Gibson currently the Diamondbacks manager, nailed Eckersley’s 3-2 offering into the right field stands. He then gimped around the bases with his strained left hamstring and injured right knee, pumping his fist into the air.

 As for the George Bell photo, I get a kick out of seeing the Jays hat barely fitting atop his late ‘89s ‘fro. I’ve always liked the old Blue Jays logo pictured here, and I’m glad they went back to a variation of it.

 As for the 2012 Topps Chrome, it's dissapointing on two fronts: 1) There's only four cards to a pack; and 2) Among those four cards, there's nothing too exciting:

Clay Buchholz – Red Sox

Melky Cabrera – Giants

Felix Hernandez – Mariners

Jose Valverde- Tigers.

I kind of like the intense reaction exhibited by Jose Valverde. He must be happy about something!

Well, there's now four packs down and five to go (Remember, I'm not about to touch that Pete Rose pack). Tommorrow we'll tear open the two packs of 2012 Topps Opening Day.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Minor League Monday - P Matt Maysey

Born in Canada, P Matt Maysey was a seventh round Padres pick during the 1985 draft, directly from Alief Hastings High School, of Houston, Texas.
His baseball education began at Spokane, where he compiled an 0-3 record, with a 4.66 ERA and 18 strikeouts.  The next two seasons of his six-year Padres minor league career saw him toiling at Charleston, S.C. in the Class A Sally League. In 1986, he bettered his record 5o 3-2, as his ERA rose to 5.02, with 39 strikeouts. 1987 would prove to be his best season in the Padres system, as he went 14-11, notching seven saves and recording a 3.17 ERA and 143 strikeouts and 59 walks.

The next season saw him promoted to AA Wichita, where he was 9-9, 3.71 ERA 120 K’s, and 68 walks. His last two Padres seasons saw him producing for the Las Vegas Stars, compiling a 15-21 record in 1989 and 1990, with his ERA progreassively ballooning to 4.08 and 5.62, respectively.
In February 1991, he was released by the Friars and then signed as a free agent by Montreal in October 1992. He finally made the big leagues as a relief pitcher, pitching two games for the Montreal Expos in 1992 and 23 for Milwaukee during the 1993 season, after being granted free agency by the Expos. He pitched his final game Sept. 28, 1993, at the age of 26.

After serving as an instructor and coach at the Proway Baseball Academy, Maysey now works as a senior mortgage banker for Nationwide Home Lending in Houston, Texas.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

10-Pack Baseball value repack

While waiting to go see "Despicable Me 2" at the movies this afternoon, we walked through Target at the mall to kill some time. As usual, my wife knew I had to stroll through the sports card section, "just to look," Needless to say, when we left the mall, I had a 10-pack value repack baseball box, complete with "Extreme value - 40% savings," sitting in our bag, along with Red Vines and a box of Good 'N Plenty for the movie.

I resisted the temptation to open the box while waiting for the movie to start. By the way, I highly recommend "Despicable Me 2." I thought it was better than the first and the minions had more of a role in this one. That's all I'm going to say about that.

Back to the repack...With a Topps 206 and a 2012 Topps showing, I thought it'd be something decent. The 10 packs I received were: (1) 2012 Topps Chrome; (2) 2012 Topps Opening Day; (1) 1989 Donruss; (1) 1987 Donruss; (1) 2012 Topps; (1) Leaf Living Lengend Pete Rose (Ich!); (1) Jumbo Pack 2012 Donruss (they count this as one pack, actually); (1) 2007 Ultra; and a (1) 2010 Topps 206 Value Pack (12 cards, but they also count it as one pack).

I refuse to open the Pete Rose pack - I don't want to dirty my hands. If anyone wants it, they can have it! But I'll open a couple packs a day, saving the 2012 Topps Jumbo Pack and 2010 Topps 206 Value Pack for last.

Having said that. I'll open the 2007 Ultra and 1987 Donruss tonight, so I can deal the good with the bad.

Let's start with the Donruss. Unfortunately, no Padres. Besides a Stan Musial puzzle piece, people move along, there's nothing to see here.

Jack Clark - Cardinals - Diamond Kings
Black Jack Morris - Tigers
Juan Nieves - Brewers
Eric Bell  - Orioles
Richard Dotson - White Sox
John Franco - Reds
Jeff Reardon - Twins
Mark Eichhorn - Blue Jays
Mike Morgan - Mariners
Mike Campbell - Mariners (Rated Rookie)
Jody Davis - Cubs
Sid Fernandez - Mets
Mike Krukow - Giants
Chris Bosio - Brewers
Bob Kipper - Pirates

I was much happier with the pack of Ultra. Lo and behold I got a Padre...and a Hector Gimenez (Astros) RC. Big whoop on the Gimenez, though. In his 168-game to date career, he's only hit .216 with 2 homers and 11 RBIs.

As for the rest:
Grady Sizemore - Indians
John Buck - Royals
Vernon Wells - Blue Jays

Tuesday, I'll have the 1989 Donruss and 2012 Topps Chrome on tap.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July to everyone. I hope you and your loved ones had a great and safe time celebrating our nation's birthday today. I wish things had gone better for the Padres today, rather than getting clobbered 8-2 at Boston, Ouch!

Again, as you know, I collect everything and anything Padres. And the two packages I received yesterday certainly didn't hurt in building my collection.

I was thrilled to receive this 1984 World Series program. It was in excellent shape and after thumbing through it, it carefully went into a plastic bag and stored away.

While the Padres' first  World Series trip ended in a disappointing 4-1 loss to the Tigers, the playoff run that got them into the Championships was truly amazing. I remember sitting in back of the Spanish class I was taking at the University of Iowa, wearing a hoody and having an earphone stuck in my ear listening to the San Diego/Chicago Cub series. What a great comback! Fortunately, I wasn't asked to answer any questions that day, but I do remember one of my classmates laughing at me as I jumped up straight in my seat, pumping my fist a couple of times.

My other package included a very nice auto/patch of Yonder Alonso - a 2013 Topps Museum Collection Signature Swatches Triple Relic Autographs. I was pleasantly surprised to get this for about $3 on E-Bay. Besides sporting a nice, crisp autograph and being numbered #49/224, it has a really nice patch in the first of the three panels.Whether it's part of his nameplate, or a corner of his number, I have no idea.

Yonder was almost to the point where Padres fans could realistically say, "Gonzalez who?," when talking about first base. And then he broke his wrist. I actually think the Padres got the better of the Latos-Cincinnati deal.  Once he came off suspension, Grandal's been dong a great job at catcher., Volquez  frustrates everyone with his sporadic pitching  (I wouldn't be disappointed if the Friars do allow him to become a free agent at the end of the year), and Boxberger can still be classified as a prospect at best. He flashed a surprising 2.60 ERA with 33 strikeouts and 18 walks last year with the parent club, and with a 0-3 record at Tucson this year, he needs a bit of work.
I'm now looking forward to next week, as our SportsCardForum Baseball Traders group has set its trades for July. I can't wait to see what's in the mail next week.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Minor League Monday - Matt Bush


While the Padres have a maddening history of first round draft picks that turn out to be busts, perhaps none have proved more of a bust (to say nothing of being a total embarrasment) than Matt Bush.
An 18-year old shortstop/pitcher out of Mission Bay High School, Bush was the overall #1 pick in the 2004 draft. The Padres should of had an inkling of things to come, however, when he was arrested at a nightclub near the team's Peoria, Ariz. spring training complex, for assault, where he supposedly got into a fight with the bouncer, who wouldn't let him in.
He began his career as a shortstop, but only batted .192 between the Arizona League and short-season Eugene Emeralds. In 2005, he hit .221 (and two home runs) in 453 at bats for the lower A-Level For Wayne Wizards, and in 2006, .263 in 22 games with the AZL and Fort Wayne, before breaking his ankle,
In 2007, the Padres decided to make him a pitcher. In seven games (again within the AZL and Fort Wayne), he struck out 16 batters in 7.2 innings, compiling a 1.17 ERA, but had another early season exit, this time with torn ligaments in his elbow, requiring Tommy John surgery. He missed all of the 2008 season.
In 2009, came the infamous “Matt Bush Incident,” as Bush assaulted a pair of high school lacrosse players with a golf club at Granite Hills High School. After the assault, Bush yelled, “I'm Matt f***** Bush!,” as he drove his Mercedes over a curb and into the Pacific sunset. The San Diego District Attorney’s Office filed four misdemeanor charges against him.
The Padres then decided to cut their losses, designating Bush for reassignment. After signing P Cliff Floyd, Bush was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, for the infamous “player to be named later.” (I haven’t been able find if they even got a used jockstrap for Bush, much less the “player to be named later”).
A month later, he assaulted a woman at a party in Florida, and was released by the Blue Jays for violating a "zero tolerance" agreement.
In 2010, he signed a minor league contract with Tampa Bay. He showed a flash of promise as a pitcher, with a 4.73 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 50.1 innings, but never rose above the AA-level. Despite being promoted to the Rays AAA club for their playoffs, he never played in a single game.
In March 2012, Bush was arrested following a DUI hit-and-run accident with a 72-year old motorcyclist. Facing seven charges, Bush pleaded no contest, and is currently serving a 51-month prison sentence. He isn’t scheduled for release until 2016.
Interesting side note #1 - With the number one overall pick, apparently the Pads were interested in IF Stephen Drew and P Jered Weaver. However, since they were represented by former Padres player Scott Boras, they didn't want to pay the enormous signing bonus he would have demanded. Instead, the Padres selected Bush, signing him for an "affordable" $3.15 million.
Interesting side note #2 - Bush has the dubious distinction of being one of only three former number one picks to have never played in the major leagues. The other two were P Brien Taylor (NY Yankees, 1991) and C Steve Chilcott (NY Mets, 1966).