Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

a Very Merry Padres Christmas
to all my blogging buddies

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Having a Merry Chihuahua Christmas!

Sometimes, you just have to love what goes on at work and the people you work with. Especially during the holiday season.

I work in the Iowa National Guard Public Affairs Office, with an Army colonel (our state public affairs officer), and an Air Force captain (our state historian). Those who work in the public affairs field tend to be a wee bit off the wall, even within the military, and the three of us fit well within that norm.

Friday, when I arrived at work, there was a little bag with gift paper sitting on my chair. I moved it aside and began catching up with work.

Captain, oh my captain innocently asked, "Gee, aren't you going to open your package."

By the tone of his voice, I felt I shouldn't delay any longer.

For starters, here's the card that was enclosed with the package (complete with a couple of gift cards).

And inside the bag, I found....
And now, for the rest of the story....
In October, I blogged, "Amid great fanfare and a tighter security system than that offered by the U.S. government, the El Paso ownership group announced the new team’s name – are you ready for this? – The El Paso Chihuahuas."
My co-workers roll their eyes whenever I discuss the platitudes of San Diego (the only screen savers I place on my computer are those of scenic San Diego). On this particular day, if I remember right, I was discussing my personal opinion of the new nickname of the Padres AAA affiliate. I mean, the Chihuahuas? Really?
According to our historian, after I left the office for a meeting, he turned to our colonel and said with a smile, "So, do you want to do it, or should I?"
"I'm already on the website," he grinned.
Hey, at least, I'm the first kid on the block to have the new El Paso T-shirt.
Merry Christmas, to all.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2009 Bowman error-filled set?

After inventorying the cards I picked up at a recent card show, I came across something interesting when it comes to the 2009 Bowmaan set.
For starters, check out this Matt Antonelli card (#191) that I picked up. I didn't find the error until I was home and poring over my new cards.
The first card is the correct Antonelli card, which I already had. The second one, however, has Antonelli's picture and faux autograph on the front, but if you look a little closer, you'll discover the nameplate, uniform number and position is incorrect - it's for John Lannan, a pitcher with the Washington Nationals.
Was it a case of getting the wrong pitcture on Lannan's card? I doubt it, since the card back has all the correct information and stats for Antonelli.
Which made me somewhat curious. Enough to track down other cards I have from that 2009 Bowman Baseball set.
I was able to find another error along those same lines.
Just like the Antonelli card, the Freddy Sandoval card (#216) has the correct Sandoval's picture.  However, the nameplate, uniform number and position belongs to Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki. Again, it's Sandoval's card, with the correct back and picture, but the wrong printed info on the front.
How many cards are there out there with these kind of errors? According to the "official" standard price guides, there are no reported errors for this set - at least not that they, nor the card company are aware of.
So now that I have everyone rushing out to check their cards from this set, I'm curious...Has anyone else found any other cards with these errors? I'm not interested as to whether these "errors" are worth more, I'm just kind of excited to have actually found these errors myself.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Goodies from December's Card Show Part Deux

I noted in my last post that Sunday was the Urbandale American Legion Monthly Card Show, and as usual, I was searching for a cornucopia of cards of my precious Padres. Once more, Urbandale didn't disappoint. The dealers were definitely in the holiday spirit, as I got a gi-normous group of great deals for the Christmas season.
Do you like your cards shiny?
How about a pair of 2013 Topps Update Emeralds, one for closer Huston Street and 2B elf Alexi Amarista (maybe not quite an elf, but he's only 5-8). And then there's a 1998 Revolution Wally Joyner, followed by a 1993 Panini Stickers Gary Sheffield, a 2009 Topps Chrome X-Fractors Edwin Moreno and a 2003 Bowman Chrome X-Fractors Brian Burgamy (no relation, of course, to San Diego newsman Ron Burgandy).
How about some cool-looking cards?
To me, each of these cards were cool, each in their own special way. For example, I've always liked Ultra Gold Medallion, and this 2004 Jake Peavy, with its die-cut, rounded corner, is no exception. Donruss' Studio line of cards have always had exceptional portrait photos, often with great backgrounds. The over sized "SD" logo looks sharp against the blue backgrounds of Rickey Henderson's and Ryan Klesko's 2001 cards. Having a huge baseball as a background also works, as seen in Sean Burrough's 2003 Upper Deck Standing "O" card. And finally, what better card company than Crown Royale for a card of Padre royalty, namely, Trevor Hoffman. The first card is his 2000 Crown Royale standard issue, while the second is the Crown Royale Red parallel.

Do you like autographs?

Whether they belong to a major league or minor league Padre, I like autographs. To me, autographs are a more personal representation of that player than your basic game-used card. These three autos belong to a 2011 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Franchise Futures Signatures Kyle Gaedele (#316/1264), and 2007 Just Rookies Autographs of C Mitch Canham and OF Danny Payne. Gaedele, a sixth round pick in 2011, played in the High A California League for Lake Elsinore last season. Canham was drafted 57th overall in 2997 by the Padres, and after four years in the Friars' minor league system, he now toils in the Royals farm system. Payne, meanwhile, a supplemental first round Padres pick in 2007, made it all the way the AAA Tucson in 2011, before being released in March 2012. Payne is now Director of Operations for the Georgia Baseball Academy.
Let's close out with a pair of 2004 Leaf Certified Materials - one an autograph, one game-used, both serial numbered.

Freddy Guzman's auto card is serial numbered #319/500, while Brian Giles' Mirror Bat Blue card is numbered #36/50. I know I mentioned how I'm not that big a fan of game-used cards, but it was such a good deal, coupled with a low serial number, I couldn't help myself.

(SPOILER ALERT) Christmas is the season for giving, and indeed, 'tis better to give than receive. I found more great deals than I could shake a stick (or a candy cane at) during my three-hour stay, so don't be surprised if you find a Christmas card in your mailbox.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Goodies from December's Card Show Part 1

Sunday was one of those days where I felt like I was in a scene from the movie "The Blues Brothers."

"It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tanks of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.
"Hit it"

In reality, I don't smoke, and it was actually 11 a.m. But, at least, I was wearing my sunglasses.

I was stoked - it was time for the monthly Urbandale American Legion Card Show.

Whenever I go to this show, I'm always looking for sweet-looking San Diego Padres cards, as well as goodies for my brethren bloggers. Of course, being its now December, I'm also looking for special cards for Christmas gifts.

As usual, I was more than happy to find a plethora of Padres at the monthly show.

I'll begin with the gaggle of Garvey cards I found.

Leading off is a pair of 1984 Topps, the first for Topps Cereal and the other for Ralston Purina (according to my brother, who works for Purina, it's no longer Ralston Purina, but rather Nestles Purina). Next is the 1985 O-Pee-Chee, 1985 Leaf/Donruss, a 1987 Ralston Purina and a 1984 Milton Bradley Steve Garvey.

That last card was part of a 1984 Milton Bradley game called "Championship Baseball," complete with 30 Topps baseball cards. Each card back featured a complete combination of any two dice rolls. Those rolls would then put the ball into play, resulting in a hit or out.

In case you were curious, there are plenty more Padres where those came from.

I don't care what you say, but the Fingers 'stache, as always, is awesome. Here's his 1981 and 1978 Topps cards (Rollie never suspected his teammates would super-glue the ball to his hand - I guess that's what happens when you sleep on the team bus). Dave Winfield is styling and profiling on his 1978 Topps card and Kurt Bevacqua and John "the Count" Montefusco bring up the rear on their 1982 Topps Traded cards. I tend to forget the Count wore the San Diego mustard uni for a couple of years.

And finally, let's go old school with a 1972 Topps In Action Clay Kirby and a 1971 Topps Dave Campbell. Kirby was the Padres' 12th pick from St. Louis in the 1969 expansion draft and was the first Padre pitcher to come close to throwing a no hitter. Trailing 1-0, in 1970 against the Mets, he was pulled in the 8th inning for pinch-hitter Cito Gaston. The Mets won 3-0. Ever since, no Padres pitcher has ever thrown a no-hitter. For that matter, no Padre batter has ever hit for the cycle.

Stay tuned for part two of the December Urbandale Card Show extravaganza. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Talent unfulfilled - Drew Cumberland

“What is a man, if his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more. Sure he that made us with such large discourse, looking before and after, gave us not that capability and god-like reason to fust in us unused.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet

The world at large is based with talent and potential, especially in the world of athletics. You have some athletes with God-blessed power, such as Matt Bush or Ryan Leaf, who've wasted that potential through narcissistic self-indulgence.

And then again, there are the athletes such as former Padre Drew Cumberland, whose body has sadly betrayed the pursuit of that potential.

I recently picked up this Just Minors printing plate of Drew Cumberland off E-Bay. I wasn't too familiar with this four-year, career minor leaguer, but he was a Padre, so I did a little research.

The Padres thought highly enough of him to make Cumberland the 47th pick in the 2007 draft and he flashed that potential the Padres saw in him. In 2010, he was selected as the Padres' MiLB.com Organization Al-Star, a California League Mid-Season All-Star and Player of the Week, and was chosen for the Futures Game. Baseball America ranked the shortstop as the Padres' ninth best prospect entering the 2011 season.

However, one year later the Florida native voluntarily retired from baseball in March 2012 at the age of 23. He hit .350, with seven homers and 41 RBIs during his minor league career, with an .890 OPS.

Cumberland had a few concussions, his first coming as a freshman tailback at Pace (Florida) High School. I've had a few concussions in my day, so I know they're nothing to joke about, but that alone may not have been the cause. If you combine them with a rare neurological condition known as bilateral vestibulopathy, then the blurred vision. severe headaches and dizziness may have been more than he could cope with. Bilateral vestibulopathy is where portions of both inner ears, which control your balance, are injured.

He was offered a coaching position with the Midwest League's Fort Wayne Tincaps, but looking at their current staff on the Padres website, I don't see him listed, so I'm assuming he's moved on to other things.

At 24 years of age, what do you do when your body betrays your dreams?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

'Tis the season...for Santa

Merry Christmas to my blogging brethren, one and all.

Being the first full weekend of the month and a member of the Iowa National Guard, it's been drill weekend. December, however, isn't too bad, as things are generally pretty laid back. We usually have a few classes, and on Sunday our entire Joint Forces Headquarters has a nice Christmas dinner with our families. Once that's completed, we usually get the rest of the afternoon off.

One thing that makes the Christmas dinner especially fun, is the fact I get to play Santa Claus (Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus). This year, I had approximately 30-40 children sit on my lap and tell me what they wanted for Christmas as their parents snapped pictures.

Here's Santa wishing my wife a Merry Christmas. For whatever reason, she didn't want to sit on Santa's lap.

I truly enjoy getting to play Santa at the JFHQ dinner each year. I try to keep the magic of Christmas alive for today's children and it's great to see the excitement in the eyes of the kids and to let them know that Santa is personally interested in each and every one of them and their wish lists. It's one thing I really look forward to each year.
With Santa being the big man on campus this time of year, it also got me to thinking about Santa Christmas cards.

Here's a pair from my non-Padres collection. The first is from the 1991-92 Parkhurst hockey set. While I was never terribly excited by ProSet and their massive print runs, you couldn't help but  like their Christmas sports cards, which they produced (en masse) this time of year. This one was their 1990 ProSet football offering.
I wish the card companies would print these more often, as they made for interesting and fun collectibles over the Christmas season. Who knows, maybe I can even come up with my own game-used Santa memorabilia card once I need a new Santa outfit.
Until then, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Black Friday buy - 2013 Panini Prizm baseball box

Since I'm not a particularly passionate shopper (except when it comes to sports cards), my only Black Friday shopping involved purchasing a box of 2013 Panini Prizm baseball and a box of Panini Prizm hockey from RyansCardz, a local brick and mortar card shop.

I've already reported on the contents of the Black Friday Panini packs I received, and posted my hockey box pulls on my Hockey Card Geek blog page.

So, it's time to post my Panini Prizm baseball pulls. First, however, a small caveat.

I'm not usually a fan of non-licensed baseball products. There's nothing more unexciting than logos  and uniforms that have been completely airbrushed out, rendering them totally devoid of any  recognition or resemblance of your favorite team. I mean, even going so far as to remove the piping off a uniform? Are you kidding me?

However, Heaven help me, I do have a weak spot for the Panini Prizm line of sports cards. There's plenty of nice photos and thanks to the Prizm printing progress, the pictures always appear to just "pop" off the cards.
Let's start out with some of the inserts. First, there's the Fearless insert set, with Michale Bourn (F13), Adam Jones (F16) and Jose Bautista (F20). Those are followed by a Superstar Ryan Braun (SS4), Top Prospects Jameson Taillon (TP4) and Rookie Challengers Evan Gattis (RC3).
The Panini Prizms include Nomar Garciaparra (193), an Orange Prizm Starling Marte #56/60 (146), Bernie Williams (179) and Wilin Rosario (136).
Other nice cards include a Stephen Strasburg "Panini Spokesperson" card (304), and USA Baseball subset cards for Alex Gordon (USA7) and Troy Tulowitzki (USA3).

Autographs are packed two to a box, so I saved the best for last.
The first auto was Adam Eaton. The second auto didn't come up until midway through the second stack of packs. I love the fact it's a Manny Machado Autographs and Rookie Autographs, but am disappointed in that it's a redemption. I haven't heard good or bad about Panini's Customer Service when it comes to redemptions, so I'll have to wait and see how this turns out.

For the most part, I was pretty happy with the RCs I pulled, which include
Nick Noonan, Giants (206)                        Nathan Karns, Nationals (252)
Brandon Maurer, Mariners (207)               Jackie Bradley, Jr., Red Sox (253)
Ryan Pressly, Twins (208)                         Brandon Barnes, Astros (254)
Leury Garcia, Rangers (211)                      Tyler Skaggs, D-Backs (265)
T.J. McFarland, Orioles (212)                    Scott Rice, Mets (266)
Kyuji Fujikawa, Cubs (223)                       Mike Olt, Cubs (269)
Mike Zunino, Mariners (224)                     Shelby Miller, Cardinals (276)
Manny Machado, Orioles (233)                 Phillipps Aumont, Phillies (280)
Carter Capps, Mariners (234)                    Sean Doolittle, A's (281)
Jaye Champman, Cubs (237)                    Darin Ruf, Phillies (290)
Ryan Jackson, Cardinals (238)                 Oswaldo Arcia, Twins (291)
Tyler Boyd, Phillies (248)                        Robbie Grossman, Astros (292)
Adam Eaton, D-Backs (249)                    Jean Machi, Giants (296)
Hiram Burgos, Brewers (250)

Overall, not too bad of an experience. My only complaint? Only two Padres were included in this box - Huston Street and Casey Kelly's RC.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

P Luke Gregorson traded for A's Seth Smith

News Flash!

RHP Luke Gregerson, 29, has just been traded to the Oakland Athletics for OF Seth Smith, 31.

Is this our left-handed power bat?

If he is, I think the Pads could have done much better.
Smith spent his first five years with Colorado and the past two years with Oakland. During that time, he hit .265 overall (.275 against NL pitching), with 73 homers, 273 RBIs and a .798 OPS.

In 2004, he was Colorado's second round draft pick out of the University of Mississippi. He can DH (how often do the Padres play AL teams?) and play left and right fields, based on what he did last season for Oakland, where he hit .253 with eight homers and 40 RBIs in 117 games.

He earned $3.7 million last year and is arbitration-eligible in 2014. His biggest claim to fame? Besides being a freshman All-American in baseball, he was the back-up to Eli Manning on U Miss' football team.

Meanwhile Gregerson, the Padres major set-up man, posted a 2.71 ERA last year. A Padre reliever over his entire five-year career, he's 17-22, with 16 saves and a 2.88 ERA during that time. Gregerson will also become a free agent in a year.

In reality, I think this was just a shot across the bow - I don't think the Padres are done trading yet. After all they still have a plethora of pitchers that can be moved. Besides, one of the other needs the team has talked about, is lefty pitching.

Like I've said before, this is going to be an interesting off-season.

By the way now's a great time to go to http://www.fanofreds.blogspot.com and vote for comatoad in the finals of the Nacho Grande Blogging Contest. Just look for it on the right hand side, under "Final Round: Best Post?"

Sunday, December 1, 2013

In support of the supporter

There's an old joke about the first athletic cup being created in 1874, while the first helmet wasn't used until 1974. The punchline is it took 100 years for men to realize their brains were also worth protecting.

What is it about a trauma to the groin, that generates snickers, outright guffaws and/or instantaneous cringing.  If that's not true, why is it one of the most popular features on "America's Funniest Home Videos."

Need some facts? It's reported that ball trauma accounts for less than one percent of all traumas in the U.S. each year. It's also been documented how Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench broke seven cups during his 16-year career.

In this particular case, however, the New York Yankees' Derek Jeter, like Johnny Bench and many other athletes, can thank Charles Bennet and Joe Cartledge for the well-being of their "boys." Even a one-hopper can carry enough force to create more than a little trauma to that generally delicate area.

It was Charles Bennet of Sharp & Smith, a Chicago-based sporting goods company, who created the "bike jockey strap" in 1874 to provide comfort and support for bicyclists' "stones" as they rode Boston's cobblestone streets on their high-wheeled bicycles.

In 1920, Joe Cartledge of the Guelph Elastic Hosiery Company began to commercially sell protective cups under the name "Protex." The extra protection became attractive to early hockey players who didn't so much mind losing their teeth, but rwanted to hang on to their balls.

In November 2005, the Bike Athletic Company, of Knoxville, Tenn., as the former Sharp & Smith is now known, produced its 350 million supporter. The assembly line was halted and this historical piece of male attire was removed, framed and flown to Bike's headquarters.

I thought I was such a stud when I played junior high school football and got my first protective cup. The night before my first practice, I had everything laid out on the bed when my younger brother, six years my junior, picked up the cup, put it over his mouth and asked, "What's this for?"  It wasn't a trauma to the groin, but it was funny all the same.

Perhaps there is a certain amount of humor when it comes to a trauma of the groin.

I remember one instance when I was umpiring in Denver's Arapahoe Youth League. I was umping the basepaths and my buddy Mark was behind the plate. Being a former catcher, I thought I saw the backstop call for a pitch-out. For whatever reason, the pitcher didn't get the signal, wound up and sent a fastball whizzing straight down the pipe.

The catcher stepped out to his right for the pitchout and Mark continued to track the ball, like a good umpire. It wasn't until the last moment, however, that he realized there was a breakdown in communication somewhere. Perhaps it was the loud crack resulting from the ball hitting him square in "the boys."

As he lay on the ground clutching himself, I casually sauntered up with my hands in my pocket and asked if he was ok. I swear, his first comment was, "Quick, get me home to my wife before the swelling goes down." There is no way I would of had the presence of mind to come up with a comment like that.

The entire time I was writing this blog, I had the Heywood Banks tune, "Trauma to the Groin," song on my mind. As a public service, I'm enclosing a link to the song, courtesy of the Bob and Tom radio show.

Trauma to the groin, by Heywood Banks

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Upper Deck NPN Program actually works

Wow, here's a first for me....two posts in a single day.

However, after getting today's mail, I couldn't help but post.

Even though this isn't a Padres card, or even related to baseball, today's envelope just blew me away.

If you've been collecting for awhile, you've heard of the No Purchase Necessary (NPN) program. For example, Upper Deck offers a chance to obtain a free insert card (while supplies last). All you have to do is go onto their website and register electronically for that particular set. They even allow you to register for as many different sets and sports as you want.
Of course, once you register, you forget about it.
At least I did, until I got this card and letter in the mail today from Upper Deck...                  
Dear Collector,

Congratulations! We are pleased to advise you that your Method of Free Entry request from 2013 Upper Deck Football is a winning entry. Accordingly, we have enclosed a card from that set. We hope collector's like you will continue to support Upper Deck products for many years to come.

Please check our website at http://sports.upperdeck.com/npn for more chances to enter.


Customer Service Department
The Upper Deck Company

Again, just WOW!
I know I've heard some of the horror stories about Upper Deck's Customer Service Deparment, but this is totally amazing, in that the NPN program actually works.
Without a doubt, I'll be entering again...early and often.

Panini's 2013 Black Friday promotion

Ok, I admit it. I got up early Friday morning and drug my turkey-sated, tryptophan-laden carcass out to take part in a Black Friday shopping spree. But, it's not what you think. The only store I visited was RyansCardz, one of my local brick and mortar card stores here in the Des Moines-area.

I found some sweet discounts, picking up a box of Panini Prizm Baseball, a box of Panini Prizm Hockey and some card supplies. What really sealed the deal, however, was the fact Panini helped sweeten the pot by providing dealers 2013 Panini Black Friday promo packs.

The promo set, consisting of baseball, football, basketball and hockey, has an exclusive base set featuring 49 regular cards and 12 Rookie Memorabilia cards, numbered to 99. Parallels include, Cracked Ice, with a reflective background, single-color Progression Proofs, 2013-14 Select Hockey Red prizm parallel cards, and Tools of the Trade cards, with swatches of colorful towels used at the photo shoots. Other memorabilia cards include NBA Championship cards honoring the Miami Heat, Breast Cancer Awareness and Rookie Materials.

Since Ryan noticed packs with memorabilia cards were thicker, he provided a "thick" pack for every box purchased, as well as a regular pack for every $25 spent on Panini products. I was somewhat surprised I didn't pull a single baseball card.

Not that I give a fiddler's fart, but the Black Friday set also includes "musicians" DJ Kool, Tupac, the Notorious B.I.G. and Snoop Dogg. These HRX cards have a QR code that allows you to access an "exclusive video." Unfortuantely, as you can see, I received one of those wastes of cardboard.

As for the "goodies," here's what I pulled...

A couple of the Red Prizm Hocky cards were pulled earlier that morning. I had the "luck" to pull a  Trey Bryan Tools of the Trade card, with a blue/white towel swatch. To me, basketball is a wuss sport, I'll take hockey any day and I'd ratherhave pulled one of those Prizm cards. The Wes Welker card is considered a Lava Flow card, due to its wavy background. The Flacco has a blue swatch.

These promo packs are supposed to have randomly inserted autographs, but according to Ryan, no one had pulled any of those to that point.

All these cards, except for the Stamkos and Crosby are up for trade, if anyone's interested.

Not too bad for a little early Christmas shopping, eh?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Alas, poor Pluto

Have you ever wondered how Pluto lost its official planetary status and became relegated to a "minor" planet.
Let's just say,  it involved Barry Bonds and a ball that's out of this world.
Check out the following video to find out.....
If you can't open the video, it can be opened on YouTube at http://youtu.be/eUhp8YpZQ_E
(Blogger's note: Again, this is part of Nacho Grande's blogging contest. Be sure to vote for comatoad at fanofreds.blogspot.com )

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Recent E-Bay Padres pick-ups

I want to start out tonight's blog by thanking all the veterans out there for their service. Did you know less than 1 percent of the American population has worn a military uniform?

Here's me as a 2nd Class Radioman on my first Westpac in 1980. The second photo is getting ready for my Iraq deployment in 2010. Gotta love those ballistic goggles.

Ok, on to recent E-Bay pick-ups.
Ok, as most of you know, I collect everything and anything Padres. So, when I had the opportunity to pick up this 1974 San Diego vs. Los Angeles Dodgers program, I jumped at it. It's a very interesting read. While the cover is very slick and exciting, the inside consists of typewritten pages and just a few features. It's totally different from what the teams provide in this day and age. Although, I think you'd be rather hard pressed to pick up a program for 50 cents at your local ballpark -- even at the Class A level.


My other great pick-up was a 1/1 printing plate of of a 2006 Artifacts Jake Peavy Printing Plate. Below is what the the actual printed card would look like. I was pretty excited. While I have collected a few printing plates already, this is the first Peavy plate I've received.
By the way, if you haven't done so yet, be sure to go to www.fanofreds.bologspot.com to vote for me in the Nachos Grande blogging contest. I'm Comatoad, in Group P. You can read my blog entry in my previous post.
Again, thanks to all of the veterans out there. Semper Fi and Hooah!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

"The Secret LIfe of Joe Oliver"

On Christmas Day, 20th Century Fox is releasing "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," starring Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig, about a day-dreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action.

Based on the short story by James Thurber (I told you I was an English Lit major), the film was originally released in 1947 with Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo in the lead roles

Which now brings us to today's card.

In 1990, Joe Oliver was tied for the National League lead in passed balls (16), with Joe Girardi of the Chicago Cubs. Oliver would record double figures in passed balls in 1995 (16, Milwaukee), 1993 (11, Cincinnati), and 1991 (10, Cincinnati). In fact, he would go on to allow a total of 77 passed balls over his 13-year baseball career.

Having been a catcher myself, I had a few balls that passed me by in the day. Sometimes the pitcher will miss the pitch call, throw a different pitch than what was called, or jut uncork a bad throw. Sometimes, you just aren't set up correctly behind the plate, or you may have a lapse in concentration

In Joe Oliver's case, perhaps he's just "Living the Secret Life of Joe Oliver."

Oliver, who was born in Tennessee, now resides in Orlando, Fla., where he coaches a high school varisty baseball team at Bishop Moore Catholic High School. What's that phrase, "A bad day of surfing is better than any good day of work." I'm sure he's imagined himself out catching a break or two while toiling behind the plate.

Who doesn't picture theselves as a modern day Superman. Of course, with all those passed balls during his "anonymous life" as a Reds catcher, I believe this may be a bit of a stretch. A catcher can dream, though, can't he? At least he was able to hit .247, with 102 homers and 476 RBIs in 3,367 at bats.
And here's Oliver's daydream of being a world-famous tight-rope walker, as he makes his way across the Andes Mountains. For some reason, he just can't drop that ball and glove.
However, this is probably Oliver's biggest "Walter Mitty" moment. For that matter, what Reds catcher doesn't imagine himself as Johnny Bench, leading the Reds back to their Big Red Machine glory days.
As for me, I'm realatively well-grounded in reality (unless you ask my wife). I think I'll wait for the movie, though.....
(Blogger note: This particular blog is part of Nacho Grande's Blogger Bracket Challenge. Please go to http://fanofreds.blogspot.com and vote for Comatoad in Group P in Round 12).

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trevor Hoffman, stealth Ninja

Last month, the Padres named Trevor Hoffman as their newly-created "Upper Pitching Coordinator" and "Special Assistant to the General Manager." The former all-time saves leader will now evaluate and coordinate pitchers at the Double-A, Triple-A and major league levels.
“Trevor will be a key part of finishing the development of our younger pitchers,” said Padres general manager Josh Byrnes. “His expertise, passion and communication skills will undoubtedly impact this critical area for us.”
Byrnes might be more on the money about Hoffy than he thought. 
I've always considered Hoffman a "Thinking man's pitcher." While he had a rather impressive fastball up until his 1994 injury, he developed an intimidating change-up which proved to be equally devastating.
You can just imagine Hoffman in his new position, scouting the Padres pitchers and perhaps taking pictures of those pitchers, as pictured on this 1998 Collector's Choice card #222.
However, I see Hoffman in an entirely different role -- as Ninja Hoffy.
Anyone can be a coach. However, with his newly added Ninja skills, Hoffman can easily transition into stealth mode, appearing almost invisible as he observes and perhaps photographs his young charges.
Think of the scouting reports...If you can't see him, is he actually there? The camera never lies.
As a matter of fact, Chuck Norris has nothing over Hoffman.
Tervor Hoffman and Superman once got into a pitching contest to settle a bet. The loser had to start wearing his underwear on the outside of his pants.
Trevor Hoffman doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.
Trevor Hoffman once got bit by a rattlesnake. After three days of pain and agony, the rattlesnake died.
Outer space exists because it was afraid to be on the same planet facing Trevor Hoffman.
Beware, young Friars. Trevor Hoffman is coming!
 (Blogger note: This particular blog is part of Nacho Grande's Blogger Bracket Challenge. Please go to http://fanofreds.blogspot.com/2013/10/blogger-bracket-challenge-round-0.html and vote for Comatoad in Group G in Round 1.).

Friday, October 25, 2013

Topps MLB ATTAX Showdown?

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
I’m sorry, but the 2011 Topps Attax cards, and this Aroldis Chapman card in particular, just doesn’t cut it for me.
Believe me, it’s all been done before.
Wizards of the Coast, riding the success of its uber-juggernaut series, Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon, released MLB Showdown, a collectible card game, in 2000.  It was kind of like the old Strat-O-Matic card game, only with cooler cards, and distinctly different gaming mechanics. It lasted until 2005, when WoC pulled the plug.
‘Fess up. Admit it. You actually played MLB Showdown with a friend when it first started hitting the shelves, or you reluctantly started collecting the cards. Ruben Rivera here was part of that early MLB Showdown release.
I remember playing in an actual league with eight other duffers (pun intended), at one of our local gaming shops (I think I finished fifth). Our league manager actually travelled to Minneapolis to compete in a regional tournament. He came home with second place and a decent amount of cash and goodies.
Ok, enough tripping down memory lane.
What once began as a simple insert set in last year’s Topps cards, has now evolved into yet another full-fledged collectible card game. Again, as a collectible card game, I give Topps Attax about a three-year run before it goes belly up (MLB Showdown enjoyed a five-year run).
1) The cards themselves are not that nice looking. While I have to admit, the 2000 and 2001 MLB Showdown cards left a lot to be desired, they at least featured almost full-length player shots that weren’t blocked out by a box of stats and gaming mechanics. Of course the later sets, such as this Tony Gwynn were pretty sharp looking cards, especially with that big team logo in the background. Plus, check out his sweet hitting numbers via a 20-sided dice.
2) It seems to me that me Topps Attax is geared more toward the younger player/gamers, with it’s cheaper price and number of cards. However, you have to determine whether you’re actually a player or collector; you can’t be both. Where MLB Showdown was printed on playing card stock with rounded corners, Topps Attax, is printed on matte paper with square corners. It won’t take much before you begin dinging the corners, even in a plastic sleeve.
3) One of the issues in playing MLB Showdown was the fact you couldn't just take a team like the San Diego Padres and play a game - there weren't enough Padres players included to make up a team. Even if they did, there was no way they could compete against a team like the Yankees at that time. I haven't seen the checklist for Topps Attax yet, so I don't kow if they have that same problem or not.
4) It’s all about the cards – threfore no dice and strategy cards, making the game fairly simple – that’s why Topps is offering Attax to be purchased as a separate entity, rather than as an insert set.
I may add the Padres from this set to my collection, but I'm not going to go out and buy any packs of this product. In the meantime, I thnk I'm going to go home and break out my MLB Showdown sets for old-times sake.
(Blogger note: I hope you like this particular blog. It's part of Nacho Grande's Blogger Bracket Challenge. He'll post up a card and you and a fellow blogger are supposed to write a post that somehow ties  into the card posted by Nachos Grande. Sounds like a lot of fun to me. Stay tuned to see how it turns out.).

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Are you ready for the....El Paso Chihuahuas?

Oh, those goofy minor league baseball affiliates.

A few years ago, Portland, who once hosted San Diego’s AAA affiliate for 10 years, decided to turn to the dark side, ousting the Padres for a professional soccer team. Then-Padres owner Jeff Moorad bought the team, parking them in Tucson while he tried to get a stadium built in Escondido. When that plan went belly up, he sold his controlling interest in the team to a group of El Paso, Texas investors.

After three -years of San Diego AAA baseball in the warm, Tucson sun, the Padres have now relocated to El Paso.
So, with a new team and a new location, a new identity and colors were needed.

Amid great fanfare and a tighter security system than that offered by the U.S. government, the El Paso ownership group announced the new team’s name – are you ready for this? – The El Paso Chihuahuas.
The Chihuahuas. Really?
Apparently, names such as the Aardvarks, Buckaroos, Desert Gators, Sun Dogs, and of course, Chihuahuas were all in the running. However, it was the entry of one Shae Vierra who was “chosen at random” in the “name the team” contest, according to an El Paso press release. Vierra will now get season tickets, a personalized jersey and the opportunity to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the team’s inaugural home game.

I’m sorry, but “The Fighting Chihuahuas” doesn’t strike me as a name that will strike fear into Pacific Coast League foes. I can understand teams wanting a completely different identity from their parent club, all the better to generate their own revenue stream by hawkingT-shirts, ball caps, and anything else they can print up to sell their team logo.

But the Chihuahuas? Really?

“I’m sure I’m going to be hearing all sorts of views, but we’re standing by this,” El Paso General Manager Brad Taylor told MiLB.com. “We have friends in a lot of other places, like the Iron Pigs or the [Fort Wayne] Tin Caps, who stepped outside of their comfort zone to create a brand. That’s what we’re doing here.”
I can just see some of the pomos now – Bring you Chihuahua to the ballpark night, with everyone carrying pooches in purses like Reese Witherspoon in “Legally Blonde.”

I guess it has to better than the “Swing of the Quad Cities,” the monicker the former Quad City River Bandits claimed a few years ago, with its teal blue and burnt orange colors. Thank goodness, it didn’t last too long, before the team was sold, with the owners returning to the River Bandits, only a little more updated.
Now that, my friends, is a logo.



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A possible San Diego catching conundrum?

To no one's surprise, C Austin Hedges has been tearing up the Arizona Fall League. He's the second leading batter for the Peoria Javelinas, hitting .364, with six RBIs, four strikeouts and three walks in 22 at bats. even more impressively, he's also thrown out seven of 10 basestealers so far in six games.

Hedges played most of the 2013 season at Class A Lake Elsinore, hitting .263 with one triple, three home runs, 21 doubles and 26 RBI in 66 games for the Storm. lsinore. He was promoted to Class AA San Antonio, whre he hit .24, with eight RBIs in 22 games.

He capped off the regular season by receiving the 2013 Captain's Catcher Award by Baseball America. It's awarded annually to the catcher who displays strong defensive qualities including leadership, dedication, the ability to call a game, blocking and receiving. Statistically, Hedges threw out 32 percent of basestealers in 179 minor league games.

While it may be a few years before Hedges makes it to the bigs, I'm curious where C Rene Rivera is going to shake out next season.

Originally a second-round draft pick of the Seattle Marines, Rivera bounced from the Mariners to the Dodgers, Mets, Camden Riversharks, Yankees  and Twins before the Padres signed him to a minor league contract on Dec. 12, 2012. In July, he was called up from AAA Tucson to replace Yasmani Grandal who suffered a season-ending knee injury. Backing up Nick Hundley, Rivera hit .254 with seven RBI and four runs in 23 games.

I was fairly impresed with Rivera as he backstopped Tucson when they played here in Des Moines.
I can see the Pads keeping Hundley and Grandal next season. Despite Rivera appearing to be a mere journeyman catcher, I can see basically only one scenario where the Pads keep him up in the bigs, and that would be if Grandal doesn't bounce back from his knee surgery. Otherwise, San Diego could either carry three catchers (doubtful), or use Grandal as possible trade bait (even more doubtful, even if he were to come back completely from knee injury).

As I've stated before, the off-season should prove pretty interesting for the Padres..

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Bucs stops here

I'm a firm believer in Karma, in paying it forward and in sharing the wealth.

Earlier I posted a bunch of 1989 Topps Baseball Card books that were withdrawn from a local library. The books featured full-color pictures of every Topps card produced from 1952 to 1988 for that team. I collected a total of 14 books and put the other 13 up for whoever wanted them (Of course, I kept the Padres book).

One of those books found a happy home with Mark of Battlin' Bucs. Needless to say, he was pretty happy with it, as it helped bring back memories of Pirates cards past.

As a thank you, he sent me a nice little PWE of Padres cards - most of which were new to my collection.
I'll lead off with a 2002 Fleer Box Score #187 Ben Howard, S/N 893/2950. You can never get enough Ozzie Smith Padre cards and this 2003 Flair Greats #1 Ozzie Smith (far right) is greatly appreciated. Despite the fact he spent most of his career in Cardinal red, it always warms my heart to seen him dressed in brown and yellow.

I really, really like this 2002 Topps 206 Polar Bear #428 Khalil Greene Red FYP. Making his MLB debut in 2004, Greene may have been one of the best homegrown shortstops the Padres ever developed, letting his bat speak for his abilities. Unfortunately, the talented Clemson Tiger also battled inner demons of his own.  In 2008 he broke his left hand hitting a storage chest,while batting .213 with 10 home runs and 15 doubles. He was then traded to the Cardinals for Mark Worrell and Luke Gregerson and in 2009, he was diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder. In 2010, he had another bout of the disorder, and was released by the Texas Rangers, effectively ending his baseball career.
I also received a 2003 Donruss Heroes #420 Ryan Klesko card and a 2005 Bowman Chrome #273 Travis Chick RC. Chick didn't spend much time as a Padres minor leaguer. After coming from Florida in 2004 for Ismaeal Valdez, less than a year later, he and Justin Germano were packed off to Cincinnati for Joe Randa. Even though it's definitely a posed shot, you still have to smile at Gary Sheffield and Fred McGriff in their 1993 Spirit of the Game #SG12.

Again, it was a rather nice surprise to receive this PWE from Mark. However, like I've said before, having a great relationship with two local brick-and-mortar stores nearby and a monthly card show, I have no problem picking up cards I know my fellow bloggers can use.

Just don't be surprised when you find something in your mailbox from Iowa.