Saturday, August 27, 2016

Farewell Desmond Jennings

Desmond Jennings has been on the Rays for as long as I have written this blog.  As a former player for the Durham Bulls, I was a little surprised when I went to search out some posts I had made of the former top prospect that I have made very few.  Desmond Jennings had a good start with the Rays, but has fizzled the last few years, before the Rays decided to part ways with him today.

I usually make these posts Farewell type posts about players who are retiring like Juan Pierre.  By no means do I think that Desmond Jennings is finished in baseball.  There are too many skills there that someone is going to roll the dice on signing him.  At 29, I would hope that a change of scenery can bring out some of the potential that I enjoyed while watching him patrol the outfield in Durham.

Desmond Jennings was rated no lower than the eighteenth best prospect in baseball during his time with the Bulls.  Prior to the 2010 season he was rated in the Top 10 by both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America.  So why so few cards?

I ended up going through my card boxes for a few minutes last night after I heard about his impending release from the Rays today.  I found an autograph....

That's a nice card, but there have to be a few that I am missing out on?  Well, there are a bunch of TriStar type autographs, but I try to avoid those like the plague.  So, really this is it for Desmond Jennings and autographs.  Top 10 prospect with one certified autograph card?  Consider me surprised.
I also scoured my relic cards.  I found something really nice that I had completely forgotten about picking up.  I actually have a whole bunch of his relic cards.  It seems like he does game-used cards pretty regularly.  While I posted those frequently when I first started blogging, I pretty much skip those nowadays.  This relic card is too sweet not to post....

Wherever Desmond ends up playing the rest of the season, or if he doesn't reappear until next season, hopefully it ends better than his time in Tampa.  Maybe we could get a few more nice cards with his next team.  Dare I say an autograph or two more would be nice...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Five From Wrigley Roster Jenga

I recently sent over a pair of Mike Montgomery cards to fellow blogger Tony over at Wrigley Roster Jenga after the reliever/starter was traded to the Cubs.  Montgomery used to pitch for the Durham Bulls back in the day and I saw him throw a no-hitter once.  True story.

I had a few Montgomery cards to spare.  

I received a package of cards back in exchange for the Montgomery cards.  Pretty big stack of cards and I am not huge on scanning tons of cards, so I narrowed the trade into an overview picture.....

and five other cool oddballs that were in my package of cards.  Tony sent my cards of all my favorite modern Cardinals and a few Durham Bulls cards, but you get to see those all of the time if you stop by and read and blog with regularity.  I am going with unique instead.....

5. 1999 Team Best Memphis Redbirds Rick Ankiel 

Ankiel was a highly touted prospect for the Cardinals, completely lost the ability to throw the ball over the plate, went back to the Minors, and went back to the Minors to reinvent himself as an outfielder.  As much as I loved watching Ankiel as a pitcher, he was also a pretty fun player to watch as a position player.  Especially if you watched him play a little D in the outfield.  Only one base at a time, max.  

As a card collector, he did have a few cards when he returned as an outfielder, but most of the cool ones are from his days as a pitcher.  This card brings back some good memories....

4.  1992 Confex Baseball Enquirer Ozzie Smith 
I have never seen one of these cards.  Ever.  Which is saying something if it came from the 1990s.  The front of the card features a cartoon picture of The Wizard with a neck brace.....

but the best part of the card is the back which features a mock interview with Ozzie Smith after he has had some sort of injury which caused him to wear a back brace and a cervical collar.  Apparently, Ozzie is not going to do any flips anymore.  

Just to make sure that this card was not a serious card, Ozzie did kind of do the David Eckstein shot put throw to first towards the end of his career, I found a video of him doing his flip after 1992.  

Is that Darnell Coles in the background running out wearing 15?  Sigh.  I am glad that the Busch family sold the team.  

3. 1992 Classic Best Springfield Cardinals Dmitri Young 
Da Meat Hook was once a highly regarded Cardinals prospect.  He had a huge hit against the Braves in the 1996 NLCS, but apparently the internet has forgotten about the hit.  While his time with the Birds on the Bat was brief, it was fun to watch him progress through the Minors.

Is that Cardinals logo an iron on?  The hat is also sweet.  The only way this could be a better card is if it had him with a blonde goatee.  I guess he did not have to distinguish himself from Greg Vaughn like he did while he was playing for the Reds.  

2.  1979 TCMA Baseball History Joe Cunningham 
I have always been a big fan of the 1970s TCMA cards.  Simple designs, but still very enjoyable to collect.  

I picked up a Cunningham autograph last spring at a card show here in Raleigh.  He played for the Cardinals in the 1950s and early 1960s.  Very underrated player in the team's history.  Besides playing alongside Stan Musial, Cunningham might also slip through the cracks due to the fact that the majority of the 1950s Cardinals teams were not competitive.  Hasn't happened often in Cardinals team history.  Overall, his 7 year slash line with the Cardinals was .304/.413/.443 with 52 home runs, 113 doubles, and an OPS+ of 120.  Not a bad sidekick to go along with the tandem of Musial and Ken Boyer.  

1. 1993 Upper Deck Denny's Grand Slam Ray Lankford 
Of course I have a copy of this card, but can you ever really have enough Ray Lankford cards?  Can you really have enough Denny's Grand Slam cards?  These were 1990s classics.....

It's hard to see from the scan, but the hologram picture in the background shows Lankford fielding.  I really must say, I love getting Ray Lankford cards in the mail.  It's gotten hard to find new cards of his anymore.  Another card with some good memories.  

I have attached a video to almost every player in this post.  Not many Ray Lankford videos, but there is that one......

Look away Darren Daulton fans....

Monday, August 22, 2016

Things I Am Sorting Part 5

We are getting near the end of the first two projects that I listed at the top of my page.  I still need to put up a post about my progress towards completing the 2001 Topps Archives set, but my Molten Metal Xplosion set is almost completely crossed off.  Here is a list of the cards I needed out of the set heading into last week.

2 Jose Canseco
11 Miguel Tejada
20 Pedro Martinez
23 Matt Williams
46 Javy Lopez
50 Andy Pettitte
79 A.J. Hinch
95 Omar Vizquel
99 Mike Mussina
105 Roberto Alomar
114 A.J. Burnett RC
121 Manny Ramirez  

I had actually failed to update the percentage of the set that was completed on my Projects tab after I made my last post on this set.  The page lists my progress at 55%, but I was actually at 92% of the complete set.  Well, that was until I received another batch of these cards in the mail along with a nice surprise from a generous collector.  

Here are the new cards I added to my Molten Metal Set:

A few new cards.  If you check the list above you will notice that the Kerry Wood card is not actually there, but the collector who traded me this lot of cards threw in the card as a bonus.  It's not a dupe, it's actually a promotional card.  This is a look at the back of the card....

I had not even thought about collecting a promotional sample.  A nice little bonus on top of the regular 150 baseball cards in the set.  The lot of cards scanned above actually takes 5 off of my list of 12 cards, leaving me with just 8 left to find.  It brings my completion percentage up to  95%.  

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Venerable Old Card Part 25

I was really excited about an old 2000 Bowman autograph I picked up last week for a whole dollar.  Not many people get excited about Steve Cox, and I actually never saw him play as a Durham Bull, but I am really happy to have this card hanging out in my box of autographs....

Love those old Devils Rays cards.  

While few baseball fans know Cox, the ones that do probably remember him as a really average player on some really bad Devil Rays teams.  For his four seasons in the Majors, all with the Devil Rays, he posted a .262/.340/.417 line with 39 home runs and 72 doubles.  Nothing to write home about.  However, before he got to the Majors he was a pretty special player with the Durham Bulls..

Cox spent two seasons playing with everyone's favorite Minor League team.  During his first season with the team, also Durham's first as a Triple A team and first as a Rays affiliate, he hit around .250 with 13 home runs, 67 RBIs, and an otherwise fairly missable stat line.  In his second season with the Bulls in 1999 Cox would win the International League MVP while posting one of the best lines in the history of the team..

The MVP hit .341/.415/.588 with 25 home runs, 49 doubles, and 127 RBIs.  Remarkable season.  At the end of the year Cox was called up to the Devil Rays where he started his Major League career.  He might have had a small impact in the Majors, but is still remember by the die-hard baseball fans for producing one of the greatest single season lines in the history of the Durham Bulls.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

So What High School Did You Go To?

One of the worst things about living in St. Louis is the St. Louis question: So what high school did you go to?  It's a loaded question meant to categorize you and give the person asking a little insight into whether they should feel like they are a little bit better than you, or if they should drop the topic and discuss their love of Anheuser-Busch products, the Cardinals, or provel cheese (not provolone).

Someone conducted a poll about the St. Louis question with people who lived in St. Louis....

These results are annoying.

So, I got a new baseball card of a former Cardinals player last week who is from St. Louis.  No, it's not David Freese or Ryan Howard.  Freese and Howard both went to the same high school, I'd guess it's probably better than the high school that I went to since it's a little bit newer and Robert Archibald, Scottish basketball legend and former Memphis Grizzly, went to that school too....

In contrast, the high school I attended produced the poker player who wears the fossil sunglasses.

It's also not Yogi Berra.  He went to another high school that David Freese and Ryan Howard did not attend.  Off the top of my head, I did not know what high school Yogi Berra went to in St. Louis, other than he's from St. Louis.   I looked it up and it turns out that Joe Garagiola also went to that high school.  Also Francis Slay, who has been mayor of St. Louis forever.

Pretty big St. Louis baseball names, but they are not Cliff Politte.  If you don't know if Cliff Politte is here is my two sentence career synopsis:

Cliff Politte attended Hillsboro College in beautiful Hillsboro, Missouri before transferring to the University of Memphis where he was drafted by his hometown St. Louis Cardinals in the 54th round of the 1995 draft.  He debuted with the Cardinals in 1998 and played nine seasons in the Majors with the Cardinals, Phillies, Blue Jays, and White Sox.

Cliff Politte high school factoid: He went to the same high school as NFL quarterback Trent Green.  I am not sure if they knew each other, but I am sure that at least a few thousand people around the city attended class with both of them at the same time.  Wink.  

More important than the fact that Politte went to a high school named after a catholic saint who is the patron saint of other catholic priests, is the fact that he had an autograph in the 1998 Bowman set.  I actually did not know about this card until a few weeks ago when I saw a copy in a Cardinals the phot album of a Cardinals baseball card collector.  

It took me a few days to track down the card, there were a few floating around for $15-$20, but I landed one for a fraction of that with a little patience.  I was actually surprised that Politte made it on to an autographed card with the Cardinals.  Yes, he's a hometown guy, but his career stat line with the Cardinals is rather thin.

Cliff played a total of 8 games with the Cardinals in 1998, went 2-3 with an ERA over 6.  At the end of the 1998 season he was packaged up with headaches Ron Gant and Jeff Brantley in exchange for Garrett Stephenson and Ricky Bottalico.  Nothing to see with that trade.

He spent a few years with the Phillies, but his career really saw it's high mark when he went to the Blue Jays and started working out of the bullpen.  He played two years for the Jays and appeared in more than 50 games each year before joining the White Sox for three years.

In 2005 he worked as the setup man for Bobby Jenks including Game 4 of the 2005 World Series which has to be the highlight of his career.

Notice I went the whole post and never mentioned a single high school by name, please only make vague references to your high school if you are going to leave a comment.....

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Lost Scans of Tier One

I have a system for my mail, scanning the cards, posting, and then sorting the cards into boxes.  Occasionally there are breakdowns in the system.  I cannot necessarily pin point one spot in the process where the system breaks.  Sometimes it is because my desk looks really messy.  Sometimes it's because I get excited about a card and skip the scanning part, instead opting to go straight to the card.  

Other times I just lose the scan. 

I am not always great about using folders.  Cards get scanned and put into some jumbo file of scans and pictures.  Even when I know I have scanned the cards for a blog post, I have to fight through a plethora of pictures featuring my wife, kids, and all sorts of other random pictures which float onto my computer.  

I actually have to give some props to JediJeff from 2x3 Heroes who commented on my post yesterday about how he had been watching some undervalued Tribute cards.  Slight case of ADD, but the chart below shows the connection between Jeff's comments and this post featuring cards that I completely forgot about during the past few months.....

If you look at the left side of the scan you can see through the paper where I wrote the title of the chart Landscape with a grey marker.  I switch to portrait and supplemented the grey title with purple ink.  Hopefully you made it to the part where I find three cheap Tier One autographs.  I know I write small, it's been a problem for years....

First card.  

It's an Evan Longoria card.  No flow chart on this card, but he was on the Durham Bulls.  I like the Durham Bulls and buy baseball cards of their players.  I also bought an autograph of a current Durham Bull.....

Very nice indeed.  Shaffer has been up and down between Durham and Tampa this year, little bit of a down year, but is probably best known for his self high five first home run.  I have posted the video of the home run a few too many times, so it's here somewhere just not in this post.... 

 Last autograph is a Cardinal.  

I love Carlos Martinez cards.  I need to do a post about his ever changing autograph one of these days.  I think this year's is a little different than last year's and completely different from what it looked like when his first Bowman and Leaf autographs came out.  

Monday, August 15, 2016

Calm Carlos

I have been a pretty big fan of Carlos Rodon since he first stepped foot on campus at NC State.  The all everything starting pitcher had spectacular college career which included a trip to college World Series.  Back then Rodon had a bunch of cards in the Panini USA Baseball sets and collectors went crazy for them.  I dabbled here and there, I do love my Wolfpack, but it's hard to shell out big dollars for a player in college.  

Cue Music....


In case you forgot what happened to Carlos after college....

Rodon was drafted by the White Sox in 2014 with the third overall pick.  He breezed through the minors and debuted with the ChiSox in 2015.  He's been a decent pitcher during his first two seasons in the Majors, but I am not sure that he has been as good as most collectors and fans had hoped he would be when he reached whatever stadium the White Sox play in now (insert corporate name).  

I still have high hopes for Rodon.  He's just 23 years old and has been out of college such a short time, I am hoping their is a little higher ceiling in his left arm.  In the meantime, the slow career start has made the chore of finding Carlos Rodon cards a little easier and a lot cheaper.  

Carlos has become calm.  

Collectors have cooled on him.  Honestly, I feel like I had sort of let him slip off of my radar this year, but I think this card is a pretty sweet find for my first autograph of the NC State alum....

Tier One is always a good looking set and it's an on card autograph.  Kind of cool that it's 149/149, even though I do not do the whole Ebay one of one thing.  I have another Rodon autograph on the way that I just traded for and will post in awhile.  In the meantime, let's hope Carlos picks it up on the mound.   

If you're a White Sox fan, I'd be on the lookout for the White Sox to important the Braveheart guy from NC State for a little extra motivation and pep.