Monday, September 30, 2013

Welcome back Cabrera

The Padres reinstated Everth Cabrera to its 40-man roster today, after the shortstop completed his 50-game suspension. He and catcher Yasmani Grandal, the Padres poster boys for the Biogenesis scandal, served matching suspensions that bookended San Diego's 2013 season - Grandal served his over the first 50 days of the season and Cabrera the final 50.
Its fairly safe to say that Cabrera has always "wowed" since becoming a Padre as a Rule 5 draftee from the Colorado Rockies in 2008.
Just consider his rookie season. On one hand, he led all NL shortstops with 23 errors and sat out two months due to a hand injury. By the same token, who can forget his grand slam that beat the Mets on Aug. 7, 2009. After striking out in his first three plate appeareances, he nailed Francisco Rodrigurez's 3-2 offering in the ninth to give the Padres a 6-2 win. The talented Nicaraugan hit .255, stole 25 bases and scored 59 runs, all in 103 games. 
In the meantime, he continued to flash his potential and fragility. In 2010, a hamstring injury limited him to 76 games. In 2011, he separated his shoulder while playing at AAA Tucson. In 2012, he became the first Padre to lead the NL in stolen bases with 44 thefts.  In 2013, he played 69 games before going down with another hamstring injury. Later, he would become an All-Star and become the answer to a Padres trivia question -- who was the player who  collected San Diego's 60,000 hit?
And then came the Biogenesis report. In his apology to fans, Cabrera admitted fault, saying he took an unknown  substance to help recover from his 2011 left shoulder dislocation.
Cabrera in happier times. At bat in those great Camo unis, from 2010 Finest, followed by a picture of yet another steal (third base?) from his 2013 Topps card. Finally, a nice head and shoulders shot from his 2013 Topps Heritage.
A fan favorite before his suspension, and despite positive fan reaction to his Biogenesis apoplogy, it remains to be seen if Cabrera continues to "wow" his fans. With Cabrera's return, catcher Chris Robinson was designated for assignment.
All in all, this off-season should be quite interesting.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ode to Mark Kotsay

Today's Padres game, at San Francisco's AT&T Park, marked the end of CF Mark Kotsay's 17-year baseball career. Except for the dramatic eighth inning, it wasn't much different than his last home at-bat, sad to say. After getting his last start in center field, Kotsay lined out, flied out and then grounded into a force out before coming to the plate with two outs in the top of the eighth inning, with the bases empty.

Giants coach Bruce Bochy brought in Barry Zito, who was also playing in his final game, to face Kotsay.  Was Kotsay able to get one last hit,  the 1,785th of his career?  Actually, you could probably have foretold the outcome, Kotsay struck out on three pitches, looking at the first two and swinging at the final one.

In his last act of his professional career, he  followed an old baseball tradition of leaving all his batting gear at the plate for the last time. Zito, meanwhile, was getting a standing ovation from the Frisco fans.

Eighteen years ago, Kotsay was the stud outfielder who led Cal State Fullerton to the College World Series in 1995 while being named the National Player of the Year. Florida drafted him the following year with their ninth overall pick. A Golden Glover, he was traded to the Pads in March 2001, along with Cesar Crespo, for Omar Ortiz, Matt Clement and Eric Owens, and moved to center field.

Two years later, San Diego sent him packing to Oakland for Ramon Hernandez and Terrence Long. After stints with Atlanta, Boston, the White Sox, and Milwaukee, he ended up back in San Diego in November 2011, signing on as a free agent.

In his five years as a Padre, Kotsay collected 482 of his 1,784 hits and 183 of his 720 RBIs.

The Friars gave him a great send-off during his final home game last Thursday, vesus Arizona. After reveiving a custom surfboard from Trevor Hoffman, Kotsay was penciled in as the starting center fielder. As he took to the field, the rest of the team remained in the dugout, allowing him to savor the home twon fan's adulation one last time.

What was even more heartening, was seeing his entire family at both his last home game and during his final game today at San Francisco. The San Diego feed on even showed his youngest son, in a full Padres uniform, shagging flies earlier this season with his dad in Arizona. After dad caught the ball, his son threw it back into the infield. That kid didn't have too bad of an arm, either.

It was nice seeing Kotsay heading off into the sunset. It would have been even nicer, however, if the Pads had won.

Kotsay won't be the only change the Padres face in the up-coming months. Chase Headley has already told the front office they're going to have to pay market value to keep him signed - he's not going to take the "San Diego Discount." "You have to at least understand where you are positioned in the market," Headley said, "It doesn't benefit myself or the other players to go out and sign a deal just to sign a deal, without it being a good deal.

Oh brother! In any case, this should be an interesting off-season. Hopefully, this will not be the winter of our discontent!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Love/Hate E-Bay relationshp

It seems I've always had a love/hate relationship with E-Bay. There's occasions where I'll be checking it on a daily basis to see how items I have up for sale are doing. There are other times when I can look it over and not even give a hoot - there's nothing of interest out there.
Unfortunately, there's other times (like the past couple of weeks) when I just can't help myself.
Part of the problem, being the cheapskate that I am, I can easily justify buying a nice looking card if it's an extremely sweet deal. For example, these three autographs were only 99 cents apiece. You can't beat that price, right, but what helped seal the deal for me was each of them included free shipping. Are you kidding me? 99 cents AND free shipping?
All three players were Padres pitchers when I lived in America's Finest City and I can remember seeing them pitch at Jack Murphy (By the way, I can never bring myself to call it Qualcom Stadium. It was named after a person for a reason, so it'll always be "the Murph" to me). Of the three, I think Shirley was the most exciting to watch, especially during his 1977 rookie season, when he led NL rookie pitchers in wins, starts, innings pitched and strikeouts. D'Acquisto was 16–21 with a 4.24 ERA in 152 games with the Padres after completing a three-game season with the Cardinals. Mura turned out to be a much better pitcher for the Cardinals, winning a ring as part of their 1982 World Series Championship.
I was able to add yet another 1/1 printing plate to my collection, this one the black plate from Brad Brach's rookie card from the 2012 Topps Mini Baseball. If you ever check out Brach's Twitter page, he prefaces it with "Blessed to have my dream job San Diego Padres Organization." He's bounced back and forth from AAA Tucson to San Diego, but has managed a 3.65 ERA in 24 2/3 innings of relief work pitching for the parent club.

How about a 2004 Leaf Certified Materials Freddy Guzman autoraph, numbered 319/500. Guzman was pretty much a player non gratta in San Diego, playing 20 games as a late season call-up in 2004, recording 16 hits and 13 strikeouts. An elbow injury kept him out for the entire 2005 season and he has since bounced around with the Rangers, Tigers, Mariners, Red Sox, Yankees, and Phillies. He was signed as a free agent by Tampa Bay in August.

And finally, here's a pretty cool Trevor Hoffman card I found in the dime box at RyansCardz, a 1998 Ultra Gold Medallion. While some bloggers enjoy seeing catchers in their full regalia on a baseball card, how cool is it to see Hoffman pictured wearing catcher's gear.

By the way,  I still have a few of the 1989 Topps baseball books left - Brewers, Mariners, Phillies Rangers and Twins,.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Come and get your 1989 Topps Baseball Card books

I have to confess that I'm a library rat. Growing up in Davenport, we used to walk three miles to the downtown library. When I was in high school and college, my two favorite places to hang out were, you guessed it, the library and the gym. The library was a great place to read, to escape and to immerse yourself into whole different worlds. It was also a great place to access all the reference material you could handle.

Another thing I like doing at our local library, is peruse their withdrawn and donated book sale. You'd be surprised by what you can find. I usually start out in the sports section, before moving over to the biography/autobiography, military history, and then general non-fiction.

Tonight, I was rather surprised to find 13 of the 1989 Topps Baseball Card books for a quarter apiece.
The backs read, "The most up-to-date team-by-team collection of Topps Baseball Cards every published is now availablein bookstores for the very first time. Every Topps card of your favorite team from 1952 to 1988 is included in these books. A treat for young fans and older collectors alike."

Being withdrawn library books, they have laminated covers, the Dewey Decimal System tag is on the spine and therea are barcode checkout tags on the back and the inside front page of the book. "Urbandale Public Libary" is stamped on the top of the page of the book and there's a "withdrawn" stamp on the inside front page.

Other than that, the books are in great shape. The bindings are very secure, there are no loose pages, and there is no fading that I can really see.

So, I am now looking to share the wealth and give these away to whoever wants them. The team books I have are the Astros, Brewers, Cubs, Mariners, Mets, Orioles,  Phillies, Pirates, Rangers, Reds, Royals, Twins, White Sox.

Just let me know which one you want.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A really primo package from the Prowling Cat

While I have to confess that I've been rather busy since the beginning of September, I also have to admit I've been a rather bad boy, too.

It's been about a month or so since I've received a package from Zenus at The Prowling Cat, an Oregon-based blogger with rather eclectic tastes. I had sent some minor league cards his way to help fill part of his collection, and he sent me a package of some pretty fun stuff.

First off, he did send me quite a few Padres cards and I would really love to show them off to you. Unfortunately...they got tossed onto one of the many stacks of cards on my desk. You can guess what happened next -- they got mixed in with all the other piles of cards that have been growing like Jack's beanstalk on my desk.

But I did get some other neat stuff from Zenus that I'd like to show off. Lets start with a pair of programs, one from the Eugene Emerald's, San Diego's Class A Short Season Affiliate in the Northern League, the other, "Blueprint," the official playbill of the San Diego Padres, from mid-June of this year.

I love any and all printed material, including programs, yearbooks, books, etc. As a matter of fact, I'm now down to needing only six Padres media guides (1973, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1999 and 2003). For example, in the Emerald's "Field Guide" I love is seeing the player photos and the stadium diagram, as well as their promotions and giveaways. The Blueprint, meanwhile, is a lot more polished, with more feature stories and action photos (as well as the individual player photos).

He also included a Padres "rally towel," (it didn't scan well), which has earned a hallowed place on my bulletin board at work.My co-workers know better than to get me in a conversaton about San Diego and/or my Padres. I can (and have) rambled on...and on...and on.

Finally, the Pièce de résistance -- Zenus decorated the back of the envelope with a San Diego logo. I kept looking at it upside down, trying to figure out what it was, before I realized what it was.That was a really nice touch, Zenus!

By the way, one of the unique things that Zenus collects is business cards from professional sports teams. If you come across any, be sure to give him a holler.
On a separate note, I'm getting to feel like I'm in one of those Bud Lite commercials about how "It's only weird if it doesn't work," as Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" plays in the background. Since I've gotten my MLB.TV Premium package, the Padres have not lost.
Tonight, they fell behind 2-1 on an Andrew McCutchen home run in the bottom of the seventh, but came back to win as P Andrew Cashner -- ANDREW CASHNER! -- entered the game as a pinch runner for Jedd Gyorko. Cashner -- CASHNER -- scored from second base on a Logan Forsythe single to tie the game, and then Rene Rivera's single scored Chris Denorfia. Houston Street then came in and shut down Pittsburg for the save and a 3-2 win.
Gotta love it (is that really Stevie Wonder playing in the background?)

Monday, September 16, 2013

My wife is such a wonderful woman!

My wife is such a wonderful woman!

After about a week of kicking it back and forth, she finally talked me into picking up the MLB.TV Premium service for the rest of the season. If tonight's game was any indication, between the Padres and the Pirates, why did I wait so long to get it?

I liked the fact that I was able to pick up the San Diego broadcast, rather than have to listen to Pittsburgh's "homers." The audio was great, while the video came across wonderfully in High Definition. I also like the fact that I can watch these Padres games wherever I'm at, since I can pick them up on my IPhone and on my android tablet.

And it absolutely helped that the Pads won the opening game of their three-game series at PNC Park. Andrew Cashner was in total command, winning 2-0 on only 97 pitches (67 for strikes).

What made the game even more awesome, was the fact I witnessed Cashner make Padres history on my computer.  Not unlike a few Padres pitchers, Cashner had a no-hitter going into the later stages of the ballgame. Like many Padres pitchers, he lost it in the bottom of the seventh inning, when LF (and lead-off batter) Jose Tabata singled on a ground ball to right field.

However, that would be the only hit the Bucs would get, as Cashner recorded the Padres' first ever complete game win, while facing the minimum number of batters (27).

It was in my very last post that I mentioned how, in his last 10 games, Cashner sported a 2.78 ERA and a 4-4 record, despite the lack of run support provided by the Friars when he takes the mound. After tonight, he's now 10-8, with a spiffy 3.21 ERA for the season.

As for MLB.TV and my computer, I think it's going to be a match made in heaven. And, it's all thanks to my loving wife. Hoo-Hoo!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Why 'Wait Unitl Next Year" when you can have it now....

This weekend got off to a great start after I received a package of great cards from Tom of "Waiting Until Next Year" (that could almost pass as a Padres title). A long-suffering Cubbie fan, I sent him some cards, as well as some Iowa Cubs programs.

Speaking of minor leagues, I've always enjoyed watching player make their way up the Friars' farm system, so let's start out with these three - Matt Clark, Ben Davis and Juan Melo. A 12th round pick in the 2008 draft, Clark, got as far as Tucson during his six years as a Padre minor leaguer. Of course, it didn't help playing  behind Yonder Alonso. After exposing him to the Rule 5 draft with no takers, the Padres sold him to the Chunichi Dragons of Japan's Baseball League. For Clark, here seen in his 2010 Topps Pro Debut Blue card, it was an upgrade, as he'll make $450,000 in Japan versus $10,750 AAA scale in Tucson. C Davis' (1998 Best) claim to fame was laying down a drag bunt against Arizona's Curt Schilling in 2001, ruining Schilling's opportunity for a perfect game in the eighth ining. A professional Padres minor leaguer since 1993, Melo made his MLB debut with the Giants in 2000, getting one hit and a RBI in 13 at bats. Melo's seen here in his 1999 Just card.

And then there were the old school Padres, such as Goose and Benito. I was always impressed with the tenacity and determination of Gossage as a Padre, ably represented here on his 1986 Fleer Pitchers/Sluggers card. Santiago was argueably one of the best catchers the team ever fielded. I was  happy to get these two oddballs, his 1988 Topps UK Mini and 1988 Fleer Exciting Stars.
While I'm not a big Headley fan (again, I'm curious to see what the Pads will do with him over the off-season - hopefully washing their hands of him....), I do like the variety of the Topps Archives cards. The 1994 Triple Play cards feature some really nice photos and this Cianfrocco photo is really nice and clear; I wish more cards were shot this way. And, who doesn't want a serial-numbered gold Andrew Cashner card? In his last 10 games, Cashner sports a .278 ERA and a 4-4 record, despite the lack of run support provided by the Friars when he takes the mound. By the way, since LF Kyung-Min Na, who the Padres got with Cashner from the Cubs for Zach Cates and Anthony Rizzo was released earlier this year, who do you feel got the better end of the trade?
Tomorrow, meanwhile, should be a hoot, as it's the September card show at the Urbandale American Legion. I hope I can sleep tonight.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ryanscardz Dime Box

Once more, I have to wax poetic about my local brick-and-mortar card stores, RyansCardz and The Rookie. While I lvoe the iinternet and tradiing, where would we be without our local card shops?

If I want to pick up non-winning bid board cards, it's The Rookie. The Rookie also appeases my hockey fix, as well as 50 cent inserts, numbered, and other nice cards. While I always hit my Pads up first, I usually find some really nice traders to share with my other blooger buddies.

When I'm looking for dime box goodies, however, it's RyansCardz, all the way. After getting off work early, I swung by RyansCardz and lo and behold, he had six new, 5,000 count boxes of baseball cards he picked up during his recent travels. To top it all off, on this particular day, you could fill a 200-count box for $5.

Among the many goodies I found.....

Yes, Johnny Podres was a Padre. He signed with the Friars in March 1969, as a free agent after being released by the Detroit Tigers two yerars previously. Despite the fact he was in the waning days of his career, he won five games in San Diego's initial season. His final game was as a Padre, pitching a scoreless eighth inning in a 4-0 loss to Houston on June 21, 1969. Even though they're reprints, I'm happy to have found them, since these are the first Podres Padres cards I've been able to accumulate.

I was able to find some 2001 Topps Heritage. While I've always liked the Topps Heritage cards, what made these Bret Boone (336), Trevor Hoffman (338), Ruben Rivera (361), Adam Eaton (369), and Eric Owens (370) cards special, was the fact they were all SP's, being 300-series cards. I also picked up Chase Headley''s and Ben Johnson's RC in the set, as well.

From 1991-2004, Studio has produced some of the most interesting photography and card layouts on the market. While I was never a huge Brian Giles fan, you have to love the San Diego background of his 2004 Studio card. The 1993 Andy Benes Studio card is nice, especially with the huge Padres jersey as a backdrop (love that color scheme, although not as much as the brown and gold), and the 1994 Derek Bell isn't half bad, either.

San Diego Padres old and new. Let's start out with Kevin Caminit's 1996 Flair. Caminiti has always been one of my favorite Padres. Despite having played for the Astros, I feel his best seasons were as a Padre -- named the 1996 NL MVP (after batting .326 with 40 home runs and 130 RBI), a 3-time All-Star and earning 3-straight Golden Gloves. It was 17 years ago this month, he completed his "infamous" Snickers game in Mexico. Unfortunately, Caminiti left us all too soon in 2004.
Even though it's kind of "busy," I still like Jeff Tabaka's 1995 Fleer card, with its mini images and information. Tabaka was a pretty forgettable Padrs, pitching for the Friars and compiling a 3-1 record, with a save in 1994,-before compiling a .711 ERA in 10 games in 1995, before being traded to Houston with RIch Loiselle for Phil Plantier. What's there not to like about Jedd Gyorko? Since starting opening day, all this West Virginia Mountaineer has done is lead all MLB rookies with 16 home runs at the end of August, and compiling a .254 batting average, with .752 OPS in 350 at-bats., .

And finally -- what a great way to close out this blog -- Goose, Garvey and Perry. Gaylord Perry pitched for the Pads during my time in San Diego, so I was more than happy to find this 1993 Ted Williams card. The Goose, complete with the 'fu, is a great card to have, and I always enjoy finding food issues cards, so grabbing this 1987 Burger King card of "Mr. Clean," was a no-brainer.
I always try to hit these two shops at least once a week, depending on what my allowance is. Another great thing about RyansCardz, he helps put together local card shows, and this Sunday, the Urbandale American Legion will have its monthly show. Rest assured, I'll be there. While I can't wait to see what kind of Padres finds I can obtain, I always enjoy keeping a lookout for my blogging buddies.

Monday, September 2, 2013

2013 MLB Chipz

My wife and I headed to Target the other day to get some things including a new pillow and some coffee (how those two things go together, I have no idea). Of course, I don't mind, since Target has a great sports card section, including their $1.59 older cards.

Besides this year's Allen and Ginter, I picked up an interesting new 2013 offering from Topps called  MLB Chipz. Each pack includes four MLB chips, 1 team sticker and 1 game board. In reality, what these are, are standard clay poker chips.

The chips are white, painted with red seams to resemble a baseball. On the front, is a player picture, with his position and an over-sized team logo. The background is color-based on the team's colors, i.e., a red background for the Reds, blue for the Rangers or Blue Jays, etc. The backs have the players' name, team name and the Topps, MLB and MLBPA logos, as well as the manufacturing info.

You can also get gold (one in three), silver (1:4) glow-in-the-dark (1:2), magnetic (1:4), relic (1:1,047)  autographed (1:2,094), and Instant winners (1:5,236).

I have since bought two more packs. Unfortunately, I haven't pulled an Padres chipz yet. The Arnoldis Chapman Reds chipz is gold, while the Evan Longoria and Nick Swisher chipz are silver.The other chipz I have (all common) are (in alphabetical order): Jay Bruce, Reds;  Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays; R.A. Dickey, Blue Jays; Prince Fielder, Tigers; Josh Hamilton, Angels; Felix Hernandez, Mariners; Ian Kinsler, Rangers; Yadier Molina, Cardinals; and Alex Rodriguez, Yankees.

They also include a game sheet so you can  play a flipping game with your chipz.

Will I continue to collect these? I'm not sure. While they're kind of interesting, they're just not that exciting -- the pictures are kind of small and they don't really do much for me. Plus, they're a bit harder to store and display. In any case, you definitely don't want to play poker with these.