Saturday, February 25, 2017

Red Bull

I have generally never really been much of a fan of energy drinks.  I have been through college twice, plus a whole bunch of other classes, and had the joy of waking up and taking my turn changing diapers and feeding two children in the middle of the night.  Throw in the fact that my job can sometimes require the occasional all-nighter to finish up paperwork, or whatever, and it's probably pretty surprising that I have not downed dozens upon dozens of Red Bulls, Monsters, or whatever your energy drink of choice happens to be.....

I have always been more of a Dr. Pepper, tea, and coffee type of person when it comes getting a jolt of energy.  Both types of drinks are loaded with all sorts of sugar, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners, but my category of sugar caffeinated drinks have a little bit easier let down at the end of the day.

Ultimately it really doesn't matter what my energy drink of choice is when I see a nice Durham Bulls card.  When spirits are naturally lifted and I feel energetic without any help from our good friend caffeine.  This past week I ran into such a card which was owned by one of my favorite Facebook trading partners.

The card....

Yes, this is one of those low numbered parallel cards.  I own the base version of this card and featured it awhile back on the blog at some point this summer when Topps first put out their Pro Debut product.  Looked a little bit like this.......

The difference of course being what is on the back of the baseball card.

since there is a really limited number of Durham Bulls cards put out by major manufacturers every year I was more than happy to add this card to my collection.  I have actually seen the plate for this card floating around.  If I had know I was going to land copy of the red parallel I would have gone for putting together the rainbow of this card.  

Beyond the Snell pennant I also picked up a few other autographed cards of some prospects.  They are a mix of Cardinals and Rays prospects.  I liked that these cards feature players in college uniforms.  

Hudson and Carlson are both Cardinals prospects.  Hudson was a top notch pitcher at Mississippi State and was a first round draft pick of the Cardinals last summer.  He had a good debut last summer with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals and A-Ball team in Palm Beach.  All of the games he pitched last summer were as a relief pitcher.  Not sure if that's his long term track with the team or if they were just limiting his innings after playing a full year of college baseball.  

Carlson was also a first round draft pick of the Cardinals and played with the Gulf Coast League team.  Not a great season for Carlson, but he turned 18 during this off-season, so a lot of time for a guy with a big frame.

and finally Ryan Boldt who was a second round pick of the Rays.  For whatever reasons the Rays have had some problems with developing position players the last few years.  Boldt started out in the New York-Penn League last summer with the Hudson Valley Renegades.  Not a great season for the former Cornhusker and we will leave it at that.....

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Venerable Old Card Part 46

It's February and I live in North Carolina.  Not only do I live in North Carolina, but I can drive thirty minutes from my house and be on the campuses of three schools that have won a combined 12 National Championships in basketball.  Yet, I am not really feeling the whole basketball thing right now.  My team is having a disastrous season with no chance of making the NCAA tournament, although they could win the ACC Tournament, but that is just not going to happen.....

I have started to dig deep into the card collection.  Namely, I have been sorting out all sorts of late 1980s and 1990s baseball card sets.  The whole decade of the 1990s, not really just the later parts.  It's amazing how many cards I amassed during this time.  There are sets that I thought were surely complete in my collection, but after further review they are missing cards.  There are other sets that are complete and after sorting out the boxes of cards I have found that I have several copies of certain sets.  

The most ridiculous thing that I found in this sorting was the fact that I owned something like 30 copies of a certain Edgar Renteria card.  I have no idea how all of these cards got into my collection.  I hate these types of Ebay listing and avoid them like the plague.....

Hate it, hate it, hate it.  What does someone do with 50 copies of one card?  I give cards away to kids at work and I also wallpaper the door of my classroom with duplicate baseball cards.....

If you have never figured out what I do for a living, here it is......

So, what card do I have 30 copies of?  This card is cool, but not 30 copies cool....

I am a huge fan of this set, so my first thought is that I might have opened that many packs of these cards back when I was in college.  However, after checking out the rest of the box that I had this card in, I have one other complete set of Skybox EX-2001 cards, but I do not have more than 5 of any other card.  Seems doubtful that I pulled these out of packs, even with some sort of odd poor packaging, not buying it.  

At this point I have I have moved on from where these came from and shifted to what should happen to this stack of Edgar cards. One thought is to re-wallpaper my door with baseball cards using Edgar.  Currently it is covered in basketball players who are having a bad season...

revisit the first paragraph of this post to review my thoughts on the matter....

I am not sure if 30 cards is enough Edgars to cover the space on the door.  Thinking of someway to also feature the back of the card as well as the front of the card.....

Pretty sure that my co-workers and students would love to check out Edgar's stats from 1997 while walking through my door.  The Marlins did win the World Series that year and Edgar did have a walk off Series winning hit.  Perhaps I could fit a small video screen into one of the windows on my door to provide this video......

playing on a loop.  Would it be distracting?  Yes.  Would everyone stop and stare at the door?  Yes.  At this point I am going to get a roll of Scotch tape, my stack of Skybox EX Edgar cards I try to do something cool with them.  I will let you know how it turns out, maybe it will work, or maybe I will just hand each one of my students an Edgar card and tell them to use it as a backmark.  After all, these cards are plastic....kind of old school too to use baseball cards as bookmarks.  

Project Durham Bulls #10: Matt Andriese

Matt Andriese 2014-2016 

Andriese was originally drafted by the Padres in the 2011 Draft, but was traded to the Rays during January of 2014, along with Logan Forsythe and Brad Boxberger, in exchange for Alex Torres and Jesse Hahn.  Pretty good trade for the Rays.  Andriese started out his time in the Rays Minor League system with the Durham Bulls.  He played the entire 2014 season with the team going 11-8 with a 3.77 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 162.1 innings.  His 2015 season was split between Durham and Tampa, 2016 he had a brief appearance with the Bulls, but spent almost the entire season with the Rays.  Andriese has been an end of rotation starter with the Rays.  With the rotation getting a little crowded this year I am guessing he might be a bullpen arm this year.  Last year he pitched 10 games out the the bullpen.  

Andriese does not have a ton of autographs, so I am happy to be able to post a card of him for this series of threads, but it's not like I had a ton of choices.  Yes, it's a Topps base autograph that are a dime a dozen and super cheap.  The card actually has a featured stat on the side that is from the Minor Leagues, but it's from his time in Lake Elsinore.  Can't win them all.  

A picture of Andriese pitching against the Charlotte Knights from 2014.  He's the shadowy player on the mound.  Is that Matt Davidson batting?  

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Five: Top 5 Players From the Mark Gottfried Era

What was sort of more than a rumor last weekend became reality Thursday as my alma mater NC State moved on from basketball coach Mark Gottfried.  The former ESPN analyst, also coached at Alabama and Murray State, has been in Raleigh for six years.  He made the NCAA Tournament four times, with two trips to the Sweet Sixteen, but failed to make it last year.  This year has been a complete disaster in spite of a roster that is deep and loaded with talent.

I already made a list about the Top 5 Gottfried Era players two and a half years ago, so I figured I would update it this week since we have officially reached the end.  Plus, only one player from that list would actually make my list today.

Here goes in order.....

5. Trevor Lacey SG 2013-2014

Lacey only was on the court for one season in Raleigh after transferring in from Alabama.  He left for the NBA after his junior year, but was not drafted and now plays professionally in Italy.  During his one season with the Wolfpack Lacey led the team to a Sweet 16 appearance that included a win against top seeded Villanova in the second round. Lacey was named 2nd Team ACC and averaged a little more than 15 points a game.  While his point total was not high, he was rated as one the best late game shooters and isolation scorers according to several college basketball analytical sites.  My favorite moment of Lacey's was this game winner against Georgia Tech.....

4. Malik Abu F 2014-current

Abu is a double-double waiting to happen every night.  The springy power forward was a big recruit for Gottfried and has been in the rotation since the day he stepped onto campus.  He is just a junior, but will undoubtedly leave State after this year for the NBA.  Fun player to watch, great in game dunker....

3.  Cat Barber PG 2013-2016

Barber was a little guard with lots of speed.  When he first showed up at State he could just run really fast.  By the time he left for the NBA he had a nice jump shot along with the ability to create scoring chances for others.  If the Wolfpack had been a better team last year he might have won the ACC Player of the Year Award.  At least gotten stronger consideration.  During his last season in Raleigh he averaged more than 23 points and almost 5 assists per game.  If I made my list based on likability Barber would be first.  I was also always proud of Barber's work in the classroom.  He openly talked about working towards a degree in social work and finishing college to become the first person from his family to graduate.

1B. Dennis Smith Jr. 2016-current

I have a feeling that Smith will be the best player on this list after he gets into the NBA next season.  The point guard out of Fayetteville, North Carolina is a special player and worth an hour or two of your time if you have not seen him play this year.  I simply put him second because the the player in front of him as more hardware and more tournament wins.  It's doubtful State makes the Tournament this year, outside of a conference tournament win, which is a shame to waste a player this talented.  My favorite game of his this year has to be his performance in Durham against Duke.

1A. T.J. Warren F 2012-2014

2014 ACC Player of the Year.  End of story, the best scorer and player NC State has had since........averaged almost 25 and 7 his final year at State.  He did play against other teams, but it seemed like he just outdid himself in terms of scoring every time he took the court during the 2013-2014 season.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Babe Ruth of Winston-Salem

Wake Forest did not quite finish last every year that Will Craig was playing baseball for the Demon Deacons, but the team only finished at .500 once during his three years in Winston-Salem.  There place in the standings had nothing to do with Craig's on-field performance as much as it did with the fact that the Deacons are a little short on talent and play in one of the tougher baseball conferences.

He hits, he pitches, he was the greatest Wake Forest baseball player to ever don Deacs uni....

Craig was the ACC Player of the Year in 2015 and was a 1st Team All-American in 2015 and 2016.  While he did not take home any of the big hardware in college baseball, he was certainly deserving of consideration for awards like the Golden Spikes and Dick Howser Trophy.  In the end he did take home the D1Baseball National Player of the Year which is sort of like that time Ernie Banks won the MVP award when the Cubs finished in last place.  

I'm not sure how Will Craig will fair as a Major League player, but the Pirates picked him up towards the end of the 1st Round in last summer's amateur draft.  While he can hit and pitch, the Pirates have made him a full time position player, so for the moment he will have to just be Babe Ruth at the plate...I'm sure he can talk his way into pitching at some point.  

While Craig was one of the better players in the ACC over his three years in college, the Wake Forest star never appeared in any baseball card sets up until last year.  I was a little disappointed that he never appeared on any USA Baseball teams, but now that he's in the Minors it's time to catch up with some of his cards.  

I just picked up my first autograph of the former Wake Forest hitter/pitcher.  

I was happy to see Topps include the Pirates third baseman in their end of year Bowman products.  They even did a pretty good job of airbrushing his Pirates uni over his Wake Forest uni.  Craig had a nice start to his professional career last summer, so he should continue to appear on baseball cards for the foreseeable future.  In just over 200 at-bats in A ball Craig posted a .280/.412/.362 slash line.  The power is a little disappointing, but no complaints about 40 walks in 200 at bats.  

No pitching appearances.  

Will Craig is the stuff of legends in Winston-Salem and many in central North Carolina are eager to see what will become of his professional career.  While he was sort of a modern day Babe Ruth during his college career, many ACC baseball fans would take a nice solid professional career for the greatest college baseball player in the history of Wake Forest.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Project Durham Bulls #9: Bob Boone

1969 Raleigh-Durham Phillies 

Back in the day, the late 1960s, there was a Minor League team in Raleigh and a Minor League team in Durham.  The team in Raleigh was in some financial difficulty, so someone came up with the great idea of having the Durham Bulls split their time between Durham and Raleigh.  The idea actually started out in 1968 when the New York Mets renamed their Carolina League team the Raleigh-Durham Mets.  A year later the franchise changed affiliations, changed team names, but kept up the half-Raleigh and half-Durham schedule.  

The Durham games were played in the Durham Athletic Park which is now home to the North Carolina Central University's baseball team.....

also where the Bull Durham movie was filmed.  The Raleigh games were played at Devereux Meadows which is now just a concrete wall with fixtures hanging out of it and a parking lot for the city of Raleigh.  

The long time Major League catcher Bob Boone appeared on the 1969 Raleigh-Durham Phillies.  The team ended up finishing second in their half of the Carolina League, but had some outstanding players on the roster including Boone and Greg Luzinksi.  Boone lasted 80 games in the Tar Heel State and posted a .300/.341/.400 slash line with 5 home runs, 13 doubles, and 46 RBIs.  He was promoted to Double A Reading in the Eastern League and was with the Phillies by the end of the 1972 season.  Boone would go on to enjoy a 19 year career in Major League Baseball with the Phillies, Angels, and Royals.  

There have been way too many Archives products lately.  I had no real intentions of buying any more of them until I ran across these photo looking cards for cheap.  I was already buying one of them, but I like to save on shipping, so I got two of them instead.  Really, at this point I am walking around with a list of players who were on the Durham Bulls and trying to track down an autograph of as many as possible.  The older members of the team are challenging, but their cards are still out there waiting to be found.  Boone is the first non-Rays/Devil Rays member of the Bulls to be included in this project.  

Monday, February 13, 2017

One-Third Of A No-No

I have been fortunate enough to witness two no-hitters in person since I started this blog a few years back.  The first no-hitter was thrown by Cubs pitcher Mike Montgomery while he was pitching for the Durham Bulls.  The second was a combined no-hitter between three college baseball players playing for the USA Baseball Collegiate team.  Ever since the no-hitter thrown by Montgomery I have enjoyed collecting his cards.  The same would have been true of the college players except they weren't really on too many cards at the time....

Two and half years later and two of the three players from the USA Baseball no-hitter have made their way into the Minors.  I finally have a chance to collect a few of their cards.  A.J. Puk was selected near the top of the first round by the A's and Ryan Hendrix was picked by the Reds.  Tanner Houck is in his final year at Mizzou.

I have posted a few Ryan Hendrix cards this past summer almost immediately after the draft.  I have held out a bit on Puk since he was a highly regarded prospect and his USA Baseball cards tended to run a little bit higher than most of the other cards in those products.

Puk has popped up in some of the late year Bowman products and his cards are much more affordable now.  So, I finally picked up my first autograph of the top pitching prospect......

This is also my first autograph from last year's Bowman's Best.  It's an airbrushed picture from his time at the University of Florida, but still a good looking card.  I have high hopes that A.J. Puk will be a good Major League pitcher, but if not, I still always have the no-hitter....