I've been on vacation, and it's been lovely. But soon, it's back to school for term 2, and the real life.
One of the things I've been thinking about during my sabbatical is a crazy idea: what if, instead of a World Series, the baseball championship changed hands like a championship belt in boxing or wrestling? In other words, in this case the words of the immortal Ric Flair, "to be the man, you've got to beat the man." Personally, I think this would be fun to track, and when I get back home, I'm going to add a box to the top of my blog to note the current holder of the "championship belt."
First, a couple of rules:
1. Because of the nature of baseball, where even the worst teams win close to 40% of the time, having the belt change hands on the results of a single game is a bit capricious. Even the real World Series is settled over a number of games. So we'll use the results of three, four or even two-game series.
2. To win the belt, a team has to win the series from the current holder. In the case of an even-number series that's split 2-2 or 1-1, the current champ retains the belt.
3. The Giants, as the World Series champions, start out with the belt. But we won't start fresh next season. If the final holder of the belt at the end of regular season doesn't make the playoffs, they will hold the title for the entire offseason (because they won't have been beaten since they aren't playing any games). BUT...if the last regular-season holder does make the playoffs, they will need to defend the belt. This will eventually result in the team that wins the World Series holding the belt, since they will have won the final series of 2011.
4. The belt starts in the National League, but can switch over the the American League during interleague play. Think of it like WWE belts switching between Raw and Smackdown.
So here's what's happened so far this season:
The Giants had the belt, but immediately surrender it to their rivals the Dodgers when they lost the opening series of 2011, 2 games to 1.
The Dodgers then go and get swept in a two-game series by the Rockies, handing them the belt.
The Rox, the surprise package of the season so far, successfully defend the belt against the Pirates, Mets and Cubs. However, the Rockies dropped two out of three to San Francisco from April 18-20, making the Giants the first team to re-claim the belt.
However, that glory is short-lived as the Giants promptly got swept by the Braves. The belt leaves the NL West for the first time this season. The Braves successfully defend the belt on the road against the Padres, winning two of three. They returned to Turner Field to play the Cardinals in a three-game set this weekend.
Obviously, I hope they successfully defend the belt again because I want the Cards to lose as many games as possible. :)
I've been on vacation, and it's been lovely. But soon, it's back to school for term 2, and the real life.
I got a big bag in the mail today. I won't call it a pleasant surprise because I was expecting it, but that doesn't make the contents any less good. It was full of cards that I had purchased off of eBay but had sent to may parents due to the fact that the shippers don't ship internationally. There were quite a few cards in the package, so here's a few of them, with many more to come later. It was a big bag!
Here's one of last year's manupatch varieties - in this case, a Tim Lincecum card commemorating their move from New York to San Francisco. It's a 50th anniversary patch, yet this card didn't appear in the 2008 Topps set (which would have been the actual 50th anniversary) but rather the 2010 set. I don't pretend to understand the logic in that. I've given up trying.
On the other hand, I think it's a great looking card. I like the blue and black border, and the patch itself is quite nice looking. It is the actual logo that appeared on the Giants' uniforms that season - so maybe that's the reason it's on the card. Does anyone know what the "theme" for 2010 Series 1 manupatches was - old commemorative logos, perhaps? I know the Series 2 theme was World Series logos and this season it's obviously old team logos.
Ah, 2008 SPx American Hero - a set that causes Ken Griffey Jr. collectors heartburn. I know there's at least 75 different cards like this, because I'm pretty sure I've seen card #KG75 on eBay. This is card #KG37, and as you'll noticed, it's serial #ed 1 of 25. Thankfully, it wasn't being sold by a douchebag, so he put a very reasonable starting bid (99 cents) and didn't artificially pump up the market by claiming it was a "1 of 1" by virtue of its serial number. Frankly, I couldn't give a flying flip what the first number of a serial number is. I do have a 1/25 (this card) and a 50/50, but that's just because they were the cards that were available at the time.
Now that I have this card, I feel no need to collect any more from the series. I'm not going to play Upper Deck's little game. I may get one of the cards from this set that show Griffey in a Reds uniform, but that's only if the price and circumstances are correct. I'll certainly consider trading for one, too.
About three times after I bought this card, a Felix Hernandez Spectrum Swatch, I panicked that I already owned it in my CheckOutMyCards account. And each time, after about 30 seconds, I remembered that the card in my account is actually the gold parallel Spectrum jersey card numbered to 99. It's actually the first King Felix relic card I bought, so you'd think I'd remember it better.
This card, on the other hand, is not serial numbered. But I do need it for the rainbow, so into the sleeve it goes.
Those are the first three cards to show. There are many more parallels, autos, sets and relics to come. Like I said, it was a big bag.
It's currently 4:22 p.m. here in Western Australia. Ordinarily, I don't post news at this time - I might write a news article, but I'll set it up to post in a few hours when people on the east coast of America have woken up and are checking their computers.
But I'm posting this in real time. Because, as I said, it's 4:22 p.m. here in W.A., which makes it 4:22 a.m. on the east coast of the United States, and 1:22 a.m. in California. And yet, here I am, listening to a ballgame - live.
Or rather, a rain delay, live. Because the Dodgers and the Padres are in a rain delay - again. For the fourth time tonight. This is the game that will not end. But at least I can listen to baseball all afternoon while I work. Just like back home.
They say that the rain is going away in about ten minutes. The good news is that it's the ninth inning. The bad news is that the game is tied, so there's no sign of the game ending any time soon.
Enjoy your sleep. You might be able to watch the end the of the game when you wake up.
When I went to get the mail today, there was a padded envelope from Duryea, Pennsylvania, USA. On the customs declaration it said "replacement cards" but I knew what it really was. My five redemption cards for my ten Jumbo wrappers.
To get them today, by the way, marks a three-week turnaround, so that's pretty darn good. They must have mailed them out the day they received my wrappers. Here's what was inside:
Superstarss all, except for maybe CarGo but he's just unproven. Still, the whole pack and not anybody that I am interested in keeping. So here's the deal - they are all available, in a one-for-one exchange. I'm looking for the following players, in this order of want:
Any Red (Chapman, Votto)
Any Oriole (Markakis, A. Jones)
Adam Dunn (White Sox)
I think that I have the quality in these five cards that make for some fair trades for those players. Comment or e-mail me if you want to trade. I'm sure we can turn it into something bigger than one card-for-one card, but if not, then a one-for-one will do.
On my Opening Day post, I reminded everyone to smile, because no matter who you support, your team is in first place.
Well, three days into the season, the Reds, White Sox, Mariners(!) and Orioles(!!!) are all 2-0.
Sure, it's an extremely small sample size. And accomplishments at the beginning of the season tend to get magnified out of proportion because everyone is focused and it's the only data available. Remember Tuffy Rhodes's three home runs on Opening Day, 1994? It's not like he led the NL in home runs that season. In fact, he only hit eight that whole season. Hardly a harbinger of future success.
But for now, none of that matters. I'm just enjoying the moment.
Tonight, in the 9th inning of the Mariners' game against Oakland, Ichiro Suzuki hit an RBI single to become Seattle's all-time hit leader, surpassing Edgar Martinez. While the particular hit itself was far from a thing of beauty, and maybe even should have been ruled a fielder's choice, the accomplishment is very, very real.
Ichiro is the best pure hitter the game has seen since Rod Carew. He has done things in his ten years in the majors that have been accomplished by very few, or none at all. Even from his first season, when he won both the Rookie of the Year and the MVP, he showed us all what a special player that he is.
But while Ichiro may have made it look easy from the very beginning, that didn't mean it was easy. In a recent interview with Greg Johns from MLB.com, Ichiro explained some of the extreme pressure that he was under as the big leagues' first Japanese position player.
We all remember the hordes of journalists swarming around Ichiro in his first season. Japanese media outlets, to this day, still have reporters on the "Ichiro beat" and many of the Mariners' games are broadcast live in Japan. Even his agent, Tony Attanasio, has stated that if you want to mail something to the great man in Japan, you only need to write "ICHIRO" on the envelope and it will find him.
Ichiro is 37 this season. He says that he wants to keep playing well into his 40s. As it stands, his durability (only one DL stint in his career), regimen (he is a devotee of calisthenics before games) and skills that show no sign of eroding (10 straight 200-hit seasons and counting) make it seem like an easy goal to reach. He has 2,248 hits with the Mariners, and wants to go for 3,000. At his current pace, he should reach that mark around June of 2014.
But there's more than that. Before Ichiro gets to hit number 3,000 he would need to get to 2,979 first. And while that might seem like a random number, it is not without purpose. Because when he gets his 2,979th hit in the big leagues, sometime in June 2014 (we hope), that, combined with the 1,278 hits he got in Japan, will give him 4,257 for his professional career, breaking Pete Rose's record. Then, Ichiro will officially become what those of us who have watched him for the past ten seasons knew he always was.
The Hit King.
First, the good news - I will definitely reveal the contents of my patch card in this post. Sorry about the deception yesterday but hey - it was April 1st.
Now, the bad news - the patch card has already been claimed.
There weren't near as many cards in the final five packs worth posting about. In fact, there were seven. None of them were base cards, so I only added the one to my set, leaving me 20 cards short (for now). Heck, even both of the Diamond Duos cards that I pulled were duplicates!
Here's the cards I did get that I'm keeping. And I'm being generous when I say there were seven cards because one of them is a ToppsTown card. But it's Aroldis Chapman. Might as well show you that first, since the cat's now out of the bag:
Two Kimball mini cards also spilled out of the back. I could have sworn that I already had the Starlin Castro card, but it turns out I didn't. Not that it matters, I'm not collecting the set, except for PC and team purposes.
Two parallel cards: a Jose Guillen gold parallel and a Jon Jay diamond parallel. Both are available - please make me an offer!
Here's some cards that will definitely be sticking around - 60 Years cards for Roy Campanella (1953) and Reginald Martinez Jackson (1970). I never get tired of looking at young Reggie. A fresh-face youngster who probably didn't even know what aviator sunglasses looked like. He looks skinnier than a straw, never mind being the straw that stirs the drink.
Finally, the patch card. Some of you would love to have pulled this card. But you can probably understand why I wasn't too excited:
Matt Holliday on a Cardinals patch card. Oh well, at least it wasn't an Astros card.
Like I said, the card has already been claimed. After I put up my updated 2011 want list, Richard from Dawgbones - A Phillies Phan e-mailed me to let me know that he had some cards to send. He also mentioned that if the (as yet unveiled) patch card belonged to one of the teams he collected, he had a Ichiro 1969 Seattle Pilots patch card to swap for it.
Well, I was planning on making this card available for one of the four patch cards I care about - the two Ichiros ('69 Pilots and '91 Mariners), Felix Hernandez ('82 Mariners) and Tim Lincecum ('62 Giants). Now, here's Richard offering one of those very cards for it! All we need is a match.
Of course, those of you who follow Richard's blog know that, like me, he collects five teams. And they are the Phillies, Yankees, Diamondbacks, Twins and Red Sox. Not the Cardinals. Bummer.
However...he also has some, shall we say...esoteric collections as well. And one of those is players who wear #7 or #17 on their uniform. Hey - Matt Holliday wears #7!
And thus, the seeds of a trade have been sown. I hope you enjoy the picture of somebody else's card.
I had a feeling, once the Diamond Giveaway site started to make trading available, that trading for rings would be pretty easy. And I was right. For example, remember these rings in my collection?
Great for a slot machine, but in the Diamond Giveaway, where you need unique rings, they're not so good. Well, they're now these three rings:
And do you remember these rings?
Say hello to these rings instead:
After about half an hour, I've got fourteen unique rings in my collection, and pretty only rings that I actually have a care about. I know they're all virtual, but I still like the idea of trading rings I don't want for rings I do, even if I'll never actually hold any of them.
I have a couple of more trades in the works, but I won't bore you with the details. Let's just say that with the Reds, Orioles and White Sox in my portfolio, you can probably figure out what other two teams I'm looking to add.
When I left my old school, they gave me a $50 Amazon gift certificate as a going away present. I thought about getting the complete collection of Scott Pilgrim graphic novels, but, come on, this is me we're talking about here. I spent in on the 2011 Baseball Prospectus and a blaster of 2011 Topps instead. You know, the one that comes with the manu-patch in each box.
What better way to celebrate Opening Day than by opening some cards while watching baseball? This is part one of a two-part post.
After breaking my jumbo box, I was about 20 cards short (actually, 21). Well, now I'm exactly 20 cards short because the first five packs yielded one card I needed. That's about at the odds, when you think about it. There were roughly 25 base cards in those five packs, and with 95% of the set collected, you'd think 95% of those cards would be dupes. Anyway, this is that card.
I'm not going to show all the cards, just the ones that I didn't have before. So it's mostly going to be inserts. Two hot rookies from last year trying to avoid sophomore slumps. Can you read the categories on the cards? They're laughable examples of Bill James's "We can form a group" theory from his book Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame? (I liked its original title, The Politics of Glory)
And now, a bunch of insert cards I have no interest in collecting, so they're up for grabs. Of course the diamond shiny card is Neil Walker. The preponderance of parallel Pittsburgh Pirates in my portfolio is perturbing.
Okay, I have to say, 2011 Topps Series 1 is probably my favorite set of all time, if only because of the number of special cards I pulled out of it. First Sandy Koufax in the jumbo box, and in this blaster, the original Hebrew Hammer (sorry Ryan Braun). The Greenberg parallel is a significant upgrade over Miguel Cabrera (the "real" card #150).
How can I top that? I can't really. So here's the patch card:
April Fool! We'll save that for part two.
This is one of the better days to be a baseball fan in Australia because there actually multiple games on television. Usually, between the three Fox Sports channels and ESPN, I can count on a game every night. Now that ESPN2 has reached our shores, hopefully that will mean even more baseball to watch.
Opening Day, however, means three games in a row, from 1:00 through to about 11:00 or so. I can't get too excited about the first game, the Tigers at the Yankees, but when it's the first game that actually means something in six months, I'll even give the Yankees a chance. Just this once.
The night game is the Dodgers vs. the Giants, and that's something I am looking forward to, with Tim Lincecum taking the mound. Which Timmy Jim will show up - the August version or the September model?
But the best thing about this young season, already, is that since Major League Baseball seems to be treating both Thursday and Friday as two separate Opening Days, that means we get to do it all over again tomorrow. Three more games back-to-back-to-back. Sure, I'm stuck watching the Astros in one and the Sawx in another, but six games on TV in two days?
Pinch me, I must be dreaming.