I have finished opening my Series 1 and Series 2 boxes, and I'm pleased to say that I have completed both sets. That's not to say that I don't need cards - I am completing the Gold Futures and 1987 mini insert sets, and need some cards for both. Plus, there's another project I'm working on that requires more base cards, but more on that in another post.
In honor of King Felix and his perfecto last night, here's a selection of cards from my private collection. After all, it's not every day that one of your favorite players pitches a perfect game:
From 2005 - one of his first cards as a Mariner, although teenage Felix is wearing his All-Star Futures Game uniform
Look at that fro peeking out of the back of his cap!
My oldest chrome Felix. He's still got a baby face. Let's be honest - it's 2012, and he's still got a baby face.
Probably my favorite Felix card. King Felix (born 1986) in the style of 1986 Topps. I, personally, loved 1986 Topps, although I realise I am in the distinct minority.
I love Felix's signature, the way he circles his own name. It has the feel of someone who knew he was going to be a big star and decided he needed to come up with a signature to match.
"Hernandez's Season Sets Seattle Standard" - and that was before he won the Cy Young! This 2010 card is from that Cy Young season...
...and this is the card that commemorates said season.
Finally, one more card. This one isn't in my possession yet, because I just bought it from eBay literally 90 minutes ago. Someone just happened to put up this #/99 Spectrum card I needed for my Felix rainbow, and at a reasonable price. I didn't dither around, I snapped it up straight away, before anyone else could:
Congratulations, King Felix. You are one of the best pitchers in baseball, and now you have that immortal moment to prove it.
...in Topps Series 1?
Because I just pulled my second in as many boxes. I now have a Howie Kendrick to go with my Eric Hosmer.
Both are available, preferably in exchange for a short print I actually care about.
In case you missed Part One, I displayed the 2012 Topps Retired Number and Historical Stitches manu-patches that I purchased on eBay last week. Part Two is all about the patches I actually pulled myself, from the five blasters of Series 1 and Series 2 that I bought online. Of the five, there's only one that I want to keep. And that's just because Hank Aaron is badass:
Hank's Brewers years are largely forgotten, and for good reason. It was like Willie Mays returning to New York for the Mets, or Babe Ruth playing for the Boston Braves. Going back to the town where you started your big league career sounds good in theory, but it rarely works out. Right, Junior?
Still, the Hammer played for the Brewers for effectively a season and a half, and they still retired his number. Respect.
Now for the ones that I am looking to move. The list of Retired Number cards I'm collecting is at the bottom of these lovely pictures. I am entertaining all offers. Yankees, Twins and Blue Jays fans especially, I'm looking at you:
Now, here are the ones I want to collect, and the ones I already have:
Cal Ripken Jr.
(I must say, I'm a bit annoyed, because the only other retired #8 in baseball is Carl Yastrzemski, and Topps didn't do a patch for him, just one of the Historical Stitches. Y U H8 ME TOPPS?!?)
Historical Stitches (sigh)
Ken Griffey Jr.
Yes, I need these three Historical Stitches cards for my PCs. My preference, of course is for retired number cards, but if you have one of these cards and want to trade it for the Mattingly or Molitor, I'm up for it.
This is a special two-part post. Part one is the fun part - I found an eBay seller, based in Australia, who sells singles of patch cards, relics and such. He had a absolute ton of stuff up last week, including some of the manu-patches from the 2012 Topps blasters. I bought out all the stuff from that series that he had, and I wanted. They arrived today.
First up, the Historical Stitches. I got two - Luis Aparicio and the patron saint of RGB Cards, Frank Robinson:
The thing I love about the Robinson card is that it portrays him as a Red. Frank Robinson's Cincinnati career is often forgotten, but he was absolutely amazing at Crosley Field. You know that he was MVP in 1961, right? The whole "only person to be MVP of the American League and National League" thing? Yeah, it doesn't happen without the Reds. Believe it or not, Robby played more games in a Reds uniform than any other. He was with the team for ten seasons!
However, now that I have these two cards in my position, it confirms what I thought all along; the Historical Stitches set is stupid. It's manu-patches at their worst, because there's no real historical context or events that they're based on. "Featuring stitching designed to replicate his vintage jersey"? What does that even mean?
However, as bad as Topps whiffed on the Historical Stitches, the retired number patches are just that many kinds of awesome. I've always been fascinated with uniform numbers - which ones people choose, how they select them, what new number a person gets when he changes teams and can't get his old number, and yes, which numbers are retired. That's why this set is so awesome. But what do you expect from someone with this book in his personal library?
I got three - a Reds patch, an Orioles patch, and an Athletics patch. And there's that man Robinson again:
I've decided to collect all the Reds, Orioles, Athletics and White Sox patches, along with Sandy Koufax (duh) and all the number 8 cards. Yes, this means I am actively seeking a Yankees patch card, but I'm cool with it because it's Yogi Berra and he's awesome.
By the way, I already bought the Koufax, but the seller doesn't ship to Australia so it's at my parents' house. Along with what seems like half my collection.
Tomorrow, I'll be posting the manu-patch cards I actually pulled from my blasters. With one exception, I am looking to flip these cards for ones I actually want. Yankees collectors will definitely want to check back tomorrow.
Last night I was opening a blaster of 2012 Series 2 when I came across something unusual. One of the cards was #395, Rod Barajas. When I got to the page in the binder where #395 goes, in the space I saw...Jonathan Lucroy.
Even more, I saw another Rod Barajas card, only it had #391 on it. And, furthermore, the back was printed upside down.
Now this, to me, is where it gets really confusing. The Barajas-395 was printed perfectly. If that was the mis-numbered card, then shouldn't it be the one that's misprinted, too? You can't have two #395 cards. If Barajas is really 395, then what number is Lucroy supposed to be? And if Barajas is 391, then why was my card printed upside down? Is it possible I have two Barajas error cards; one with the right number printed the wrong way, and one printed the right way, but with the wrong number?
The more I think about it, there isn't any way I don't have two error cards. One of those 395 cards is right, and the other is wrong. And there's no disputing that the 391 is printed upside down.
Has anyone heard anything about numbering shenanigans with Topps Series 2? Or have I stumbled on a one-off? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
I woke up today to the news that Ichiro Suzuki had be traded. There is was, in blue and white, as a message on my iPhone: "Yankees Acquire Ichiro Suzuki". I re-read it again. And again. And it still didn't really sink in. Not only did Ichiro get traded, but it was to the Yankees? Was I still asleep?
I read an article this weekend on the USS Mariner web site about how it was time for the Mariners to cut their ties with Ichiro at the end of the season. I didn't want to entertain that notion. I had this idea that Ichiro would get his 3,000th major league hit, his 4,193rd professional hit, and maybe even win a World Series (or at least a playoff series), all while wearing a Mariners uniform. Now, not even a week later, the M's didn't wait - they traded him to the team that just happened to be in town for a three-game series. Contrary to what the ESPN website seems to think, Ichiro did not help his new team beat his old team last night, unless you count going 1-for-4 and getting stranded at third base in a 4-1 game "helping"
More than that, without Ichiro's manifold success, players like Shin-Soo Choo, Hideki Matsui, and even to an extent pitchers like Hiroki Kuroda and Yu Darvish wouldn't have the big league careers they enjoy. It's hard to think now, but in 2001 there was a real feeling that while Japanese pitchers might be okay, position players wouldn't hold up to the "rigors" of a 162-game season. It seems like a ridiculous notion now. Hideo Nomo might have pried open the door, but Ichiro Suzuki kicked it down.
Besides, maybe he'll leave the Yankees after the season and play somewhere else. Oakland's got a nice big outfield...
It's not like I haven't been doing anything with myself lately. Sure, things have been a lot busier with my boy around, but I've been able to make the most of the time when he's sleeping, especially now that he's sleeping a bit better.
One of the things I've done is create a long-term baseball sim. Baseball 35 is a "what if?" world that asks the question - what if the Pacific Coast League was able to become a Major League in 1935? And, for good measure, it took the International League along with it. Four major leagues, 32 major league teams in 1935. A couple of things, as I see it:
- American and National League teams wouldn't have moved West. Not if there were already major-league caliber teams in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
- West-coast born major leaguers would have been more likely to stay on the West Coast. For example, Joe DiMaggio started out as a San Francisco Seal, but the Seals were a AAA team. What if they were a Major League team, and they didn't have to sell him to the Yankees?
- The International League had teams in Toronto and Montreal, and by the 1950s, they even had a team in Havana. International baseball in the 1930s? Major League baseball in Cuba by 1955? It's fun to imagine.
I try to update it when I can, but as you can imagine, it takes more time doing the write-ups than it does actually simulating the games!
Welcome back to the final three battles of Pack Wars! Battle Blaster I. Just a reminder, I am certainly willing to accept sponsorship for this feature. It's time to get into it, because we've get three battles to get to today.
Albert V vs. Albert VI
Carlos Santana (+1 for following the ball with his eyes)
Eric Sogard (+1) (Athletics)
Hanley Ramirez Cut Above insert
Travis Snider (+1 for sporting a Gerald McRaney moustache)
Total Score: 3
I bet you think I should give that die-cut HanRam card at least a point, right? Well, I'll refer you to the official scoring "+2 Any other insert card that's worth keeping" (italics mine). Frankly, I don't get the die-cut craze. If it's a player I collect, I'd keep it. Otherwise, nil points.
A Gerald McRaney moustache, on the other hand, is worth celebrating and rewarding.
Matt Thornton (+1) (White Sox)
Tommy Hunter (+1) (Orioles)
Chase Headley (+1) (Gold)
Golden Giveaway (0 - I unlocked Lou Gehrig, who I immediately traded for Roberto Clemente)
Nathan Eovaldi (+1 for having the very rare "EO" combination in front of his name)
Total Score: 4
Now, before you start complaining that my random point for Nathan Eovaldi having two vowels at the front of his name broke the tie, handing the win to Albert VI, I would like to point out that I gave a point to Travis Snider for a freakin' moustache! Albert VI was going to win, anyway.
See, it's not completely random.
Albert VII vs. Albert VIII
Willie Bloomquist (-1 for wearing a "Los Dbacks" jersey - c'mon, that's not even real Spanish!)
Josh Hamilton Career Day insert (+1 for being from Raleigh)
Joe Mauer '87 mini (+2)
Total Score: 2
What a stinker. If it wasn't for the inserts, the pack would have finished in double digits. And before you ask, any Brewers that appeared in "Cervezeros" jerseys would indeed get bonus points. Because "Cervezeros" is just plain cool. And proper Spanish.
Carlos Zambrano (-1 for being a clubhouse cancer)
Alex Rodriguez (-5)
Alex Presley (+1 for being the second straight Alex in the pack)
Vladimir Guerrero checklist (+1) (Orioles)
Jim Palmer Golden Moments insert (+3)
(Orioles +1, insert card I'm keeping +2)
Total Score: -1
I thought it was going to be much worse. I kinda felt bad docking Albert VIII a point for Zambrano when A-Fraud came up straight away, but to protect the integrity of Pack Wars I have to go with my first instinct when it comes to bonus points. Besides, I docked Albert VII a point for a totally capricious reason, too. Albert VII wins the battle. But really, we're all losers in this one.
Albert IX vs. Albert X
Chien-Ming Wang (+1 for "Heh-heh...you said 'Wang'")
Jim Palmer Mound Dominance insert (+3) (Orioles +1, insert card I'm keeping +2)
Nolan Ryan Gold Standard insert
Ian Kinsler (+1 for solid fundamentals)
Kerry Wood (+1 for retiring on his own terms)
Total Score: 6
Fun fact - both Jim Palmer insert cards referred to the same game - his start in the 1966 World Series at the tender age of 21. I almost thought of docking this card a point for that duplication, but decided to just not feature it instead.
Ichiro Suzuki Gold (+8) (+5 Gold parallel for my PC, +1 Mariner, +2 Ichiro)
Carlos Santana Gold Futures (+1)
Darwin Barney (+1 for diving/sliding headfirst)
Total Score: 10
What a way to end the first Pack Wars with a double-digit pack. True, it benefited from the points multiplier, but when you think about it, there are 660 cards in the set, and each has gold parallels. So the odds that I'm going to get one of the 3 gold cards I actually care about are...well, they're 1 in 220, actually...but that's good enough for a bunch of points, in my opinion.
Albert X takes out not only the final battle, but also posts the highest score of the whole blaster. Congratulations Albert X. You win...nothing.
Here we go - the first installment of Pack Wars! Come to think of it, I kinda like the title "Battle Blaster" better. And Rule 1 of
Pack Wars Battle Blasters is that capriciousness and whims are the order of the day. On with the show...
Pack 1 vs. Pack 2
I liked in better back in 2009, when Topps would put different players on the front of packs. This time, we just have ten Albert Pujolses battling each other. Here we have Albert I vs. Albert II
J.J. Hardy (+1) (Orioles)
Grant Balfour (+3)
Phil Niekro Mound Dominance insert
Albert Pujols Career Day insert
Chase Utley (+1 for sliding/diving headfirst - a.k.a. the Pete Rose bonus)
Chris Johnson (-1) (Astros)
Total score: 4
One pack in, and I've already shown my capriciousness. I've decided to award Grant Balfour an extra point for wearing the gold A's jersey, and another point for being an Aussie. I can't believe I didn't include that as a category. It is so forever enshrined, and I'll be updating the official scoring system
Brett Gardner (-1) (Yankees)
Andruw Jones (+1) (Gold) (-1) Yankees = A big, fat zero
Zack Cozart (+2)
Robert Andino (+1) (Orioles)
Total score: 3
Zack Cozart gets one point for being a Red, and a bonus point for being one of my favorite Reds. As the cliche goes, "he plays the game the right way." Still, it's not enough - Battle #1 goes to Albert I! It's the leader in the clubhouse, but something tells me 4 points isn't going to hold up. Shall we have another battle? Sounds good!
Albert III vs. Albert IV
Nick Swisher (-1) (Yankees)
Buster Posey (+1) (Orange uniform)
Dan Uggla - not even the base card, the checklist
Ty Cobb Gold Standard insert (-1 for being a horrible human being)
Ken Griffey Jr. 1987 mini (+8)
Carlos Quentin (+1 for the smirk on his face)
Frank Francisco (+1 for having the same first and last name)
Total score: 9
Not even having both a smug Yankee outfielder and an unrepentant racist can hold this pack down! Not when there's the coolest insert card in the set! To be honest, I had no idea that Series 2 '87 mini cards featured retired players. And when I was creating the scoring system, I had forgotten that Junior and Topps had kissed and made up, and that he was now featured in 2012 Topps. Since my other PCs get two points, I figure Griffey is worth double because he's retired. Along those same lines, I doubled the '87 mini bonus, too. That's how I got 8 points. See, it's not completely random.
The bonus points for Carlos Quentin and Frank Francisco, well, yeah, that is pretty random.
Gio Gonzalez (+1 for being a part of the Nationals all-conquering rotation)
Charlie Furbush (+1) (Mariners)
Ozzie Smith Golden Moments insert
Domonic Brown Gold Futures insert (+1)
Tim Lincecum (+2)
Total Score: 5
Who packed this pack, Tony LaRussa? The last time I saw this many Cardinals in one place was the NL All-Star team. That reminds me - fair warning: if I see LaRussa's mug pop up I'm going to give him -10 points for the way he treated Johnny Cueto and Brandon Phillips. I resisted the urge to give Charlie Furbush a bonus point for his vaguely obscene last name. That kind of stuff shouldn't be celebrated.
Poor Albert IV. That score would have won Battle #1, but it had the bad luck to go up against Mini Griffey. Oh well, that's the way the cookie crumbles. A strong score by Albert III, will it hold up against six more packs? All will be revealed...tomorrow!
A silly idea I "came up" with while driving up to Perth today...
I bought a few blaster packs of Series 2, and rather than just open them up and post the contents, I wondered how I could have some fun with them. Why not have the packs "battle" against each other for the title of most badass pack in the blaster? Of course, some sort of points or ratings system would need to be devised in order to determine the winner.
Going on the idea that the best (or at least funniest) point systems are completely random (see Whose Line is it Anyway? or RockWiz), here's some ideas. I've got three blasters, so the points system could change completely from one blaster to the next. I will, however, keep it consistent between all packs in a blaster, or else my fake competition won't be fair to the inanimate competitors. And we can't have that, can we?
Provisional point system:
+1 Reds, Orioles, White Sox, Mariners or Athletics
+1 Gold Futures (one of two insert series I'm actually collecting)
+1 Gold card
+1 for wearing a throwback jersey
+1 for being Australian
+1 for being from Raleigh, N.C.
+2 Ichiro, King Felix and The Freak
+2 1987 Mini (the other insert, and one that's twice as cool as Gold Futures)
+2 Any other insert card that's worth keeping, not trading away
+2 Golden Giveaway card (but only if it unlocks something cool)
+3 Short Print
+3 Gold card I actually give a damn about
+5 Gold card for my PC
+5 Gold card that's an SP (Gatorade or otherwise)
+8 Relic or auto (in a blaster?!?)
+10 Any card that prominently features seagulls chasing ballplayers
-1 Yankees, Astros
-3 Any card that has already been pulled in that blaster (this may disadvantage later packs, but honestly, duplicates in a blaster is inexcusable)
-5 Alex Rodriguez
-100 Alex Rodriguez relic or auto (seriously, what a waste)
Points are cumulative, so an Alex Rodriguez card would actually be worth -6, unless he's wearing a Rangers jersey for some reason, then it would be -5. You get the picture.
I reserve the right to add or subtract points for unforseen circumstances, or just because I really like or dislike a particular card.
I'll start the competition with my first blaster, and go from there. There's ten packs, numbered from 1 to 10 (duh!) in the order that I pulled them out of the blaster (double duh!). Pack 1 will battle Pack 2, Pack 3 vs. Pack 4, and so on. This doesn't exactly lend itself to a bracket, since all the information will be out there following the first round. I've already opened the manu-patch, and it's a retired number card of Hall-of-Famer Rod Carew.
Any predictions on which pack (1 through 10) will be the winner? Results to come tomorrow.
This week's Bonehead of the Week? Angel Hernandez. Because he cost the Reds that Sunday night game against the Tigers.
He had a bug up his ass about Ryan Ludwick and called two balls as strikes, including one that was egregious.
He called Devin Mesoraco out on a bogus interference call and sent the baserunner back to first base. Never mind that second was stolen no matter how good Gerald Laird's throw was.
In the spirit of impartiality, he even screwed the Tigers over on a fan interference call.
He sucks. He is the worst umpire in baseball, and that's saying something, because Joe West is apparently still alive.
We should just re-name the award the Angel Hernandez Bonehead of the Week. Or just the Angel Hernandez of the Week.
The picture you see above you is a baby in a bassinet, watching a Reds game on TV. The batter is Ryan Ludwick. The baby is my son, born on Tuesday. He is the first child for me and my wife. By luck or a twist of fate, the Reds just happened to be on the air on Thursday here in Australia. It was my son's first game.
Even though the Reds lost to the Pirates, and even though he had no idea what was going on (and probably couldn't even see the TV due to newborn eyesight being approximately 20/400), I was able to do something I had been dreaming about for many, many years...watch a Reds game with my son. May it be the first of many. :)
I was going to make a snarky post about seagulls, and being chased by them. Then I got to the hit of the pack:
If I could pick any Oriole to get a relic from, it would be Frank Robinson, of course. But Brooksie is a close second. Even if it's a manuhit, it's still pretty sweet looking.
OMG It's a Frank Robinson bobblehead!
Seriously though, it's a Frank Robinson bobblehead. How could I not get it? It's like twenty different kinds of awesome.
It joins my Junior bobblehead on my shelf. I now need a Harold Baines bobblehead to complete the trio.
The situation: Top of the 7th, 1 out, bases loaded. Mariners up 2-0
What happened: Denard Span hits a tailor-made double play ball right back at Wilhelmsen. Instead of throwing the ball to Jesus Montero waiting at the plate to get the lead runner or maybe even a 1-2-3 double play, Wilhelmsen unexpectedly throws to second base. Nobody is expecting the ball to go to second, not even second baseman Dustin Ackley. Luckily, Ackley manages to catch the throw, but all hands are safe and the Twins score a run.
The aftermath: You can probably guess what happens next. Wilhelmsen damn near walks Jamey Carroll on four pitches, but Carroll hits into a 3-6 fielder's choice (which plates the tying run). That, of course, brings up Joe Mauer. Wilhelmsen is pulled for Charlie Furbush, who grooves a 3-1 fastball (with a base open) that Mauer hits for a single, scoring Trevor Plouffe to give the Twins a 3-2 lead. That's all for Furbush, but Steve Delabar gets into the act by plunking Josh Willingham to load the bases back up. A nervy at-bat to Ryan Doumit ensues, complete with pitches in the dirt that need to be blocked and a warning-track fly that Ichiro mercifully gathers up, ending the inning. But the damage was done - Twins, 3-2. And that's how it stayed.
I'll tell you right now - this video is not worth your time.
Let me just give you the highlights. I got three (yes - three) new cards. Out of a pack of 50 that contained what, 42 base cards? Three.
I expect some degree of duplication, since there are 330 base cards in the set and a jumbo box contains around 420 base cards. But in the second pack of the box? I almost don't feel like busting another pack tonight out of sheer spite. But yet, I feel like I have to.
There had better be some good stuff later on in the box.
If you don't watch this video, I understand.
In case you missed Part 1, I was able to simulate the 2012 baseball season thanks to Out of the Park Baseball version 13. The game not only provides incredibly detailed simulations of any Major League Baseball season, it's a lot of fun to play. In this article is all the good stuff from the second half of the season sim, including where your team finished. Read on to find out:
Award winners: Adam Dunn (.330/12 HR/33 RBI) was AL batter of the month, while Jason Heyward (.382/8 HR/24 RBI) won the NL award. Jair Jurrjens (3-0/1.80 ERA/33 K) and P.J. Walters (4-2/2.51 ERA/37 K) were pitchers of the month...
Notable transactions: Lance Berkman signed a 2-year, $16 million extension with St. Louis...Kevin Millwood's new lease on his career (8-1, 3.77 ERA with the Mariners) caught the notice of his former team Baltimore, who re-acquired him in exchange for Jai Miller and two minor leaguers...Robert Andino was traded to the White Sox for minor leaguer Jacob Petricka
Trade Deadline Roundup
Todd Frazier hit three home runs for the Reds on August 3 against Pittsburgh...C.J. Wilson is done for the year, placed on the 60-day DL on August 4...David Price pitched a one-hitter with nine strikeouts, blanking the Orioles 3-0 on August 5...San Diego's Will Venable landed in hot water after arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Angel Hernandez. The son of former big leaguer Max Venable bumped Hernandez during the argument, earning himself a four-game suspension...Dan Haren struck out 10 in a 8-0 shutout of the Tigers on August 25...Notable milestones reached this month were Jason Giambi (2000 hits) and Miguel Cabrera (300 HR)...
Award winners: Jason Giambi (.395/8 HR/20 RBI) was NL batter of the month, while Dustin Ackley (.333/27 R/26 RBI) won the AL award. Cleveland's Justin Masterson (6-0/1.79 ERA/28 K) and San Francisco's Eric Surkamp (5-0/1.45 ERA/33 K) were pitchers of the month...
Notable transactions: Brian Fuentes was traded to Seattle for minor leaguers Stefen Romero and Rudy van Heydoorn...a last-place record doomed Robin Ventura's managerial debut, and he was let go by the White Sox on August 27 following a 51-75 record. Jim Leyland took over as White Sox manager
Award winners: Albert Pujols (.354/10 HR/26 RBI) was AL batter of the month, while Carlos Gonzalez (.357/10 HR/20 RBI) won his second NL award for the year. Josh Beckett (5-1/2.66 ERA/45 K) and Jason Motte (2-0/9 SV/2.70 ERA/21 K) were pitchers of the month...
Notable transactions: Matt Harrison will get a substantial raise next season. The Rangers bought out his second arbitration year with a $4.4 million extension. The lefty made $480,000 this season...The Rangers also did the same with Neftali Feliz, agreeing to a $4.32 million contract for next season...Papa Grande may have only saved 25 games this season, but Jose Valverde will stay in Detroit, signing a three-year, $19.5 million extension. The Tigers also signed Delmon Young to a $2.2 million contract for 2013
Click on the graphic for the final regular season standings. Spare a thought for the poor Toronto Blue Jays, who had the fifth-best record in the AL but only the fourth-best in the AL East, thus missing the playoffs:
I will be happy to provide any information about players or teams you might be interested in, and how they fared in the simulation. Just leave a comment below and I'll do the same with the answer!
It's been two years since I last posted a video. Seriously. My laptop that had a video camera suffered a meltdown in 2010, and we only just recently purchased a new laptop (we've been making do with the desktop in the meantime, obviously). The new laptop, much like the old, has a webcam. So let's make a YouTube video!
Yes, that's a Brooklyn Dodgers cap. I won't wear a L.A. Magic Dodgers cap, but how can anyone not love (or at least have a warm feeling toward) the Brooklyn Dodgers? When I was visiting my brother last year, I saw an old guy walking down Montague Street with a Dodgers hat. Seriously, the guy was like 80 years old if he was a day. Somehow, I don't think he purchased his hat at a Lids store like I did. He probably got it at Ebbets Field. When Carl Furillo threw it into the stands or something.
No, that's not a misprint. Thanks to the folks at Out of the Park Baseball, I have simulated the 2012 MLB season using their just-released game, OOTP 13. Here are some highlights of the year that has yet to be. The amazing thing is, I didn't add any information. All of this came from the game, it's that detailed:
Joe Mauer suffered another injury, which kept him out of the Twins lineup for two weeks...Michael Young collected five hits in a game against the White Sox on April 6...Erik Bedard showed flashes of his old self, shutting out the Dodgers on three hits on April 11...Paul Konerko hit his 400th career home run against Baltimore on April 16, but the game was marred by a bench-clearing brawl sparked by the O's Luis Ayala beaning Chicago's Adam Dunn. Both players were suspended for five games...April 18 was a bad day for young pitchers, as both Kris Medlen of the Braves and Brad Ziegler of the Diamondbacks saw their seasons come to an early end with identical elbow injuries. They'll both need Tommy John surgery...The meek Dodgers bats re-surfaced on April 17; this time it was Zack Greinke who shut out Los Angeles on three hits...Carlos Marmol missed a week after getting beaned on the head by a faulty pitching machine during pitchers' batting practice, causing both a concussion and embarassment...
Award winners: Carlos Pena (.300/11 HR/24 RBI) was AL batter of the month, while Carlos Gonzalez (.366/7 HR/25 RBI) won the NL award. Francisco Liriano (5-0/2.72 ERA/38K) and Matt Cain (5-0/2.54 ERA/23 K) were pitchers of the month...
Notable transactions: Free agents Roy Oswalt (Mariners) and Vladimir Guerrero (Cubs) signed deals for the season...The Reds added veteran leadership in the infield and outfield, signing Derrek Lee and Johnny Damon...The Indians gave up on "Fausto Carmona", designating Roberto Hernandez for assignment and then waiving him...The Pirates, in need of catching help, traded for Braves back-up backstop David Ross, sending Jo-Jo Reyes back to Atlanta
Award winners: Evan Longoria (.364/11 HR/32 RBI) was AL batter of the month, while Lance Berkman (.340/8 HR/25 RBI) won the NL award. Stephen Strasburg (5-0/1.29 ERA/40 K) and Jeff Niemann (5-1/3.30 ERA/38 K) were pitchers of the month...
Notable transactions: Brandon League signed a 3-year, $19.5 million extension with the Mariners...Shane Victorino signed a 6-year, $90 million deal with the Phillies...Jim Leyland was fired by the Tigers on May 30 after a 25-26 start saw them fall 10 games behind the AL Central leading Indians
Award winners: Dee Gordon (.458/13 SB/19 R) was NL batter of the month, while Jason Kipnis (.342/10 HR/27 RBI) won the AL award. CC Sabathia (5-1/1.86 ERA/39 K) and Adam Wainwright (5-0/1.76 ERA/28 K) were pitchers of the month...
Notable transactions: Cincinnati traded Drew Stubbs and minor leaguer Gabriel Rosa to Texas for David Murphy...Texas traded Mitch Moreland to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes...Philadelphia dealt Polanco to St. Louis for minor leaguer Matt Carpenter...Pittsburgh sold high on Erik Bedard, trading him to Arizona for Chase Anderson...Zack Greinke signed a 4-year, $58 million extension with Milwaukee...Barry Larkin's stint as a Baseball Tonight analyst was short-lived, as the Hall of Famer and Michigan alumnus was tapped to succeed Jim Leyland as the Tigers' skipper...The Mariano Rivera circus will last for at least one more season, as the 42-year-old signed an $11 million deal to play in 2013
For Part Two of the Season Recap, click here
I learned something while reading Baseball Prospectus this weekend. Tim Hudson was born on the date that I was due to be born. Therefore, Tim Hudson stole my life.
I always knew I should have been a big-league ballplayer!
Just think, this could have been my statistical career...
My wife, as you know, is Australian. I don't want to say that she hates baseball, but she definitely doesn't understand it. By that, I don't mean that she doesn't know what's going on - she can certainly follow a game. It's that she doesn't understand the importance of baseball.
Why else would she book a five-day camping trip to start on Opening Day?
This is my way of saying that I will be incommunicado for the biggest day of the sporting calendar. I'm none too pleased about this. At least I'll get to see the Marlins/Cardinals game (I'm watching it now on the DVR) and I've set the Reds/Marlins game and White Sox/Rangers Sunday night game to record, but in order to not find anything out, it's radio silence.
I don't like camping at the best of times. I hate camping right now. This is not my idea of a relaxing vacation. Sitting in front of a television watching nine straight hours of baseball is my idea of a great time.
I supposed you all want to know my thoughts on the Joey Votto contract, right?
On one hand, I am excited that the Reds have locked up the best player I have seen in a Reds uniform since Barry Larkin (yes, I know Ken Griffey Jr was a Red, but he was much better as a Mariner) for the next twelve years. This contract probably means that Votto will spend the entirety of his career, a possible Hall-of-Fame career, in the Queen City. We haven't seen that since the aforementioned Mr. Larkin.
On the other hand, it means that Votto will spend his entire career with the Reds, so the team will be spending in the neighborhood of $25 million to a 39-year-old first baseman come the year 2022. That sort of contract can cripple a small-market team with little revenue streams.
But who knows what player salaries will look like ten years from now? It's entirely possible that $25 million per year then will seem like $4 million now, and $4 million could be the league minimum. This could turn out to be a bargain, or a fairly priced deal.
I'm not ashamed to admit it: part of me is really glad for the deal because it represents a giant upraised middle finger to the fans in Toronto, Los Angeles and anywhere else that was all but measuring Votto for their team's uniform in time for the start of the 2014 season. Instead, thanks to his new contract and full no-trade clause (which is effectively moot thanks to the 10-and-5 rights that Votto will earn in a couple of years), we'll see Votto in red and white for a long, long time.
Why would Votto take the extension? Well, frankly, it's for as much money as he probably could have gotten in free agency, or at least near enough as makes no difference. So that takes money effectively out of the equation. I believe the answer lies in a quote that Votto said to John Fay, the Reds' beat writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Here I am about to sign a $200 million extension," Votto said, "and the only media I have to answer to is you."
That's a big part of it. I grew up in Cincinnati and Raleigh, two cities with the same distinction: they are each among the smallest cities in major professional sports. The result is that the Reds (and the Hurricanes in Raleigh) absolutely own the town. To be a Cincinnati Red is to be loved by the fans (as long as you don't make an ass out of yourself). Joey Votto may be a Toronto native, and he may be one of the best first basemen in the game today, but if he were to have signed with the Blue Jays, as good as he is, and as a Torontonian he may be, he still be behind 21 Maple Leafs in the city pecking order. And while Votto might have movie star good looks, in Los Angeles he would have had to compete with actual movie stars. Not to mention that it's tough to stand out when the team owner is still the city's favorite athlete. I don't know if being "The Man" is an important consideration for Votto, but that quote clearly shows that he knows the situation in the Queen City.
All in all, I was stoked when I got the alert on my phone yesterday morning that said "Votto, Reds near extension." And it didn't take long for the next update to flash across saying that the deal was done. While the numbers seemed incredible at first (after all, there's only been four $200 million contract in history, and I never would have thought the Reds would agree to one of them), the Votto deal shows that Bob Castellini and Reds management are willing to do what it takes to win. I can't ever imagine Carl Lindner agreeing to such a deal, for example. It's no coincidence that his ownership was a fallow time for the Reds.
One thing that has been mentioned a bit, but not enough in my opinion, is the effect this extension has on Brandon Phillips and his negotiations. These now appear to have broken down, and there's a good chance that he could leave after this season. While that would be sad, if forced to choose between Votto and Phillips, I'd pick Votto, ten times out of ten. The Reds got their man, and I for one am glad of it.