Sunday, November 30, 2014

#MyCardMonday


Last week I went back to putting up a story to go with my weekly #MyCardMonday posts.  I had been just posting a card without words for awhile, and while pictures can tell a story, the whole point of the posts were originally to show off of a card from my personal collection.  While some cards are self-explanatory, there are plenty of cards that can offer up a great story.

This week I am going to share out this great Ray Lankford card from the 1998 SP Authentic set.  I could argue that this is probably the best autograph that Lankford signed during his brief window as a certified card signer.  It was the first Lankford autograph that I ever added to my collection.  I was in college when this card set was released, and while I could not afford to buy a box of SP Authentic, I put together enough money to buy a single copy of the card off of Ebay.

The card was my pride and joy for years.  I know that Ray Lankford is not one of the all-time greats, nor a great of the hobby.  However, this card in my opinion, is everything great about baseball cards.  A favorite player on a cool card that brings a collector a good feeling....even after 16 years.  This is my card and I am happy that it is in my collection.

Three Cardinals Relics

A really quick post for Sunday morning.  I have lots of things to do today to make sure that my final day of the Thanksgiving holiday counts.  There are leaves to mulch, papers to grade, lesson plans to write, and I owe the little guy some time kicking around the soccer ball.  I picked up three Cardinals cards last week on one of the Facebook auction pages.  Really good stuff if you have never ventured into one of the groups.  I was originally targeting a Willie McGee Bat Relic.........



which I won, but once you win one, you might as well stick around for the combined shipping on a few others.  I ended up adding a nice Lou Brock relic from the 2013 Topps Tribute and a Bob Gibson from the 2004 Tribute set.  I believe I already owned a copy of the Gibby jersey, but it will make for some nice trade bait somewhere along the way.  







Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Stylish Jimmy Ballgame

Besides being a really really good baseball player many fans of opposing teams often took note of some of the fashion statements that Jim Edmonds would display around the ballpark.  Baseball players often have cool shoes or some sort of lucky gold chain, but Edmonds went the unusual route with his displays of fashion.  Cubs fans often talked about this Jimmy Ballgame look from back in the early 2000s.



Kind of reminds me of something that Brian Bosworth would would wear to a job interview.  I cannot tell you how many jokes I heard opposing fans crack over the years about Edmonds and his half shirts.  Tigers fans might remember this great look from the 2006 World Series.....




Some people wear long sleeves or one of those Underarmor shirts, but Jim wore a windbreaker under his jersey for much of the 2006 World Series.  All kinds of great comments on this fashion piece all over the internet.  I believe UniWatch on ESPN went into a full rant about fining baseball players money for their uniform, NFL style, because of this Edmonds masterpiece.  I could go on with more, but if I expanded my post to cover all of the Edmonds fashion statements made over the years I would not get to the baseball cards.  Plus, I am having difficulty wrapping my head around the difference between hair frosting and SunIn.

I recently ran into a really inexpensive baseball card of Jimmy Ballgame from the 2003 Donruss Signature set.  The card was simply advertised as being a serial numbered card out of 100.  No other details.



I was a pretty big fan of this set in spite of the fact that all of the autographs were stickers.  The design was pretty typical of something that Donruss would roll out, but I really liked the look.  Very nice contrast with the dark patch in the middle in front of the player picture.  What could make this card even better?  Flip it over.......


Not super big into the Ebay 1/1 thing, but having a card numbered to a players jersey or having the first card in a print run is always something pretty cool.  I had no idea that I was getting a card numbered to Edmonds jersey number, but I cannot complain at all.  Pretty sweet looking card.

NC State Basketball Game 7- Boise State








Again, a tougher game than most people would probably think that it would be given that they were playing Boise State.  Sounds like a challenging football game, not necessarily a tough basketball game.  Entering the game the Broncos had the 30th hardest schedule in the country and their only loss this season had been to a top rated Wisconsin team on the road.   Coach Gottfried had talked about this being a challenge all week and the Broncos did not disappoint.  State actually played a good first half, but many of the same trends with scoring distribution and second half free throw shooting continue to pop up.

Positives- The guard play from the trio of Barber, Turner, and Lacey great.  All three scored, shot the ball relatively well, and accounted for 10 assists too.  The game tighten in the second half and the Wolfpack needed a few big shots at the end of the game to seal this victory.  It was good to see Trevor Lacey step up and take the shots down the stretch for this team.  Coming off last year, where T.J. Warren took all of the important shots, I think it was good for the team to find a go to scorer now before conference season starts.  

Negatives-Two things that I continue to notice about the Pack:

  1. The free throw shooting down the stretch continues to be an issue for the team.  70% in the first half is okay, but 63% in the second half is starting to get into that unacceptable range.  I am tired of watching the game and seeing shooters split their free throws down the stretch.  At this point, I think it's something that State is going to see from opponents in games late.  Hopefully this issue can be ironed out.  
  2. Cat has to do a better job distributing the ball.  As a trio, the guards accounted for 10 assists which is excellent, but Barber had 3 turnovers to his 4 assists.  I understand that Cat is faster than everyone else on the court and loves to push the ball, but let's see a little bit of caution.  

Player of the Game- Trevor Lacey 14 points, 6 boards, 4 assists, and a couple big shots down the stretch.  




Twenty Percent of a U and a Star

I love finding cool pieces of patch.  I love finding cool pieces of patch that can be traced to a specific game or event.  It's not the easiest thing to always find, but I have found a few really cool ones over the years.  Last week I managed to track down a pretty cool game used patch of Desmond Jennings who just happens to be one of my favorite former Durham Bulls players.  Here is a look at the card:



The card comes from the 2010 Topps Pro Debut set which featured some awesome jumbo jersey and patch pieces from the 2009 and 2008 Futures All-Star Game.  This Jennings patch actually comes from the 2009 game which was played in Anaheim.  Jennings was a Durham Bull at the time the game was played.  Here's a picture of Desmond sliding into home during the game......




Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Five: Best Cardinals Outfielders of the Past 30 Years

The Cardinals made their first big move of the offseason two weeks ago when they traded for Braves All-Star right fielder Jason Hayward.  I have not had a lot of time to post too much about the trade or Hayward cards, but we are going to get the ball rolling today with a Friday Five post counting down the best five Cardinals outfielders from the past thirty years (1984-2014).  I am sure most Cardinals fans would love to revisit this last in another decade or so and have to bump one of these names off of the list for Hayward.

For this list I am looking for big picture, not just one season of contributions.  For example, if I were measuring best seasons out of an outfielder I would have to give a strong look at the 2008 season posted by Ryan Ludwick (.299/.375/.591 with 37 HR, 113 RBI, and 5.1 WAR), but that was a career year for the Cardinals right fielder which turned out to be one isolated really really good year.  I am also only looking at the Cardinals years of a players career.  If I took into account years with other teams Larry Walker would be on my list, but only looking at Cardinals years I have to leave him off the list.

Honorable Mention-

Albert Pujols (2002-2003)
You want to know how good Pujols was on the Cardinals?  He was an outfielder for basically a year and a half and I could probably justify putting him on this list in many regards.  The fact that his name even enters the discussion past on a brief stint in the outfield, giving this list covers 30 years, should say plenty.  In 2002 Pujols posted a .314/.394/.561 line with 34 homers, 127 RBIs, and a 5.9 WAR.  For his encore in the outfield in 2003, Pujols posted a .359/.439/.667 line with 43 home runs, 124 RBIs, and an 8.5 WAR.  He played other positions those seasons, but the majority of his games were spent in left field.



Brian Jordan (1992-1998)
Jordan was a dual sport star at the beginning of his career with the Cardinals.  He was a fabulous athlete with loads of potential and really turned out to be a lot better baseball player than many would have guessed when he first arrived in the early 90s.  Jordan hit for some power, had some speed, and played a good outfield.  Really did everything pretty well, but nothing great.  He was also a high energy player.  Lots of hustle and no plays off.  While statistics point out that his 1998 season was his best, I think he had a huge impact on the 1996 team.  Ask a Padres fan about the 1996 playoffs and it's probably impossible  for them to describe their playoffs that season without mentioning BJ.  Not a Cardinals highlight, but this was exactly what Jordan did every night for the Cardinals........




5.  Vince Coleman (1985-1990)
Coleman came up in 1985 as an injury replacement for Lonnie Smith.  He ended up stealing 110 bases and took home the 1985 Rookie of the Year award.  He followed that up with stealing 107, 109, 81, 65, and 77.  Basically in 6 years in St. Louis he stole more than 500 bases and was already in the top 50 in career steals at age 28.  Coleman kind of fell off the face of the Earth after leaving the Cardinals, but for six years he was the leadoff man for Whitey Herzog's speed oriented offense which put pressure on pitchers and defenses to field cleanly and concentrate on both the batter up to bat and the runners on base.  During this best days with the Cardinals a walk or single for Coleman almost always turned into a double or triple.  



4.  Willie McGee (1982-1990 and 1996-1999)
This one was a hard one.  I could have put McGee third, but I think this is the right spot for Willie.  He was a really popular Cardinals player in the 80s and is one of the more beloved former players.  There are actually a lot of Cardinals fans who feel like McGee should have his number retired, which is a bit of a stretch.  McGee won a World Series in 1982, an MVP and a batting title in 1985, and another batting title in 1990.  While his career years were great, his down years were down.  All of the Cardinals retired numbers are in the Hall except for Ken Boyer (we could get into an argument here, but not today), but Willie is a stretch.  Not to say that I do not love Willie or have great memories from his playing career, but he's not there.  I found this news story from 1999 which does a great job of explaining Willie. 



3.  Matt Holliday (2009-current)
As much as Cardinals fans love Willie, Holliday can be sort of a lightning rod around St. Louis at times.  During his 6 years as a Cardinals the team has won a World Series and been to three other National League Championship Series.  Holliday does not have an accomplishment like a batting title or MVP award to hang his hat on like McGee, but he has been a far more consistent player during his years as a Cardinal.  Holliday has played 800 games a Redbird and has 132 home runs, 201 doubles with a .300/.386/.505 line.  There are not many players in the team's history with those types of numbers.  Matt Holliday is another Hall of Very Good player, like McGee, but the Cardinals would not have won as much as the have during his 6 years in town with a different player manning left field.   



2.  Ray Lankford (1990-2001 and 2004) 
Is this a homer pick?  No.  If you looked at the decade of the 90s as a whole, not just individual seasons, Lankford is probably the best Cardinals player during that decade.  His career line with the Cardinals was .273/.365/.481 which is not too far off of Holliday's line.  However, Lankford played for the Cardinals longer so his counting number stats are much better.  Lankford hit 228 home runs, 339 doubles, and also stole more then 258 bases.  Do base running and defense count?  Yes and Lankford was superior to Holliday in both areas.  Mark McGwire once said that Ray Lankford was the best hitter to ever bat behind him during his career, not Canseco or any of those guys on the late 80s A's teams. 



1. Jim Edmonds (2000-2007)
I am not going to lay out the whole argument in this post, but Jimmy Ballgame should be in the Hall of Fame.  He was the greatest defensive outfield of his generation and his offensive numbers are very similar to Duke Snider (Hall of Famer).  He hit 393 home runs during his career and posted a .284/.376/.527 mark while winning 8 Gold Gloves.  His best seasons were comparable to Ken Griffey Jr. and he was an important part of a World Series Championship and numerous runs deep into the playoffs for the Cardinals.  His Cardinals numbers are .285/.393/.555 with 241 home runs and 234 doubles which are all significantly better than Holliday and Lankford.  JAWS has him rated as the 14th best centerfielder ever and frankly, if I did a post on the five best Cardinals outfielders of all time, Edmonds would be on the list along with Lou Brock, Enos Slaughter, and Stan Musial.  He was that good.  




Thursday, November 27, 2014

NC State Basketball Game 6- Richmond









This was a lot tougher opponent than most people would think.  Richmond actually had a higher RPI than NC State entering this game (18 vs 34) and Gottfried had cautioned fans in the days leading up to the game that the Spiders were going to be a tough challenge for the young Wolfpack team.  The first half of the game was close and the Spiders shot an amazing 72% from the field.  The second half the Pack made a few adjustments on the defensive end and held the Spiders to 30% shooting.  Once again the guard play of Trevor Lacey, Ralston Turner, and Anthony Barber led State to a victory.


Positives- Lacey played a great game score 26 points on 9 of 16 shooting.  Barber ran the offense well and did a better job of disturbing the ball ending the game with 4 assists versus 1 turnover.  Ralston Turner continued to shoot well from long range, BeeJay Anya blocked more shoots, and Caleb Martin and Malik Abu provided great energy and production off of the bench.  It was also great to see the team make some adjustments at halftime and cut the Richmond field goal percentage in half in the second half.  Oh, and check out that free throw percentage......

Negatives- The team let Richmond get too many good shots during the first half.  The Spiders are a good team, but I am not sure that defensive let downs of that proportion will fly during conference play.  Still waiting for one of the big men to step up a little bit more and provide more scoring down low.  Washington's 9 points were an improvement, but Anya and Freeman need to help.

Player of the Game- Trevor Lacey 26 points in 38 minutes is great. 





Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tony Buckets Signature



I am really excited about this post today.  I have posted one T.J. Warren card since the NBA Draft, but it was a really inexpensive and slightly odd relic card from Panini.  I have been waiting, patiently, for something new to hit the market in way of Warren cards.  I am not a huge basketball card person, so while I can tell you that Bowman Draft is coming out in a week and a half, I have no idea when half of the basketball products hit the shelves.  It's basketball season, so I am guessing now?  Yes?  There are a few Warren autographs now floating around on secondary market sites, but this card was my number one target.



Warren was a really fun player to follow last year playing for NC State.  He won the ACC Player of the Year, the conference scoring title, and was the entitre Wolfpack basketball team some nights.  I am following along with TJ while he is playing in the NBA this year, but I will always prefer to see him in a red (or white) NC State uniform.

Rays from the Vault

This is one of those posts where I feel like the scan I spent ten minutes trying to make does not really do the card justice.  I am not really all that into encased cards.  Never really like the whole graded card thing.  All of the Topps sets with slabbed cards, not my cup of tea.  However, every once in awhile I see an encased card or two worthy of my time.  Tonight's card is one of those cards......




This is another card from the Topps Vault.  I have about four other cards I have picked up from their Ebay store over the past two or three years.  If you have never checked out the Topps Vault page on Ebay, it's basically a whole bunch of odds and ends the card giant has hanging out around their offices.  Old pictures, slides, photo proofs, sample cards, and about anything else you could think they'd have sitting around.

This Archer gem is actually a blank back card from the Topps Mini set.  I am not sure what the purpose of the blank back cards are in production, but Topps has a ton of them.  For all I know they just make blank back cards so that collectors like me will buy them off of Ebay.  Either way, I am happy with my latest Archer 1/1.  Third one I have added during this past month.

The card also comes with the really cool and very official looking Topps Vault certificate.........




Of all my Topps Vault pick ups almost all of them have been Rays items recently.  I am going to make it a goal to add something really cool from the Cardinals, or maybe another team, in the near future.  I am going to go do my other job and watch Fantastic Mr. Fox....Have a good evening!

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Clipper Contestant

I had a great time this last summer attending The Triple A All-Star Game hosted by the Durham Bulls.  The team did an outstanding job of hosting the event and showcasing the best players from the International and Pacific Coast Leagues.  I still have my program from the game handy and still have some strong opinions about some of the players I had a chance to watch.  The PCL players I do not get to watch outside of the highlights on the Minor League website, but International League players I keep up with mainly just by keeping up with the Bulls.  One of the players I was eager to watch at the All-Star Game was Indians prospect Jesus Aguilar.



Aguilar actually played for the Carolina Mudcats (Indians High A team) back in 2012.  He's was a big guy without a real position, and while he got on base and hit for a good average, it was not clear that he had enough pop in his bat to really make a huge impact in the Majors.  Two years later he was in the International League playing for Columbus Clippers and was one of the bigger offensive threats in the league.  Aguilar was named an All-Star based in large part to his first month of the 2014 season where he hit .356/.440/.667 with 7 homers and 16 RBIs.  I had seen Aguilar in games before, but it was fun to see him hit in the Home Run Derby.  



His raw power was really impressive to see in person.  He has a great swing and generates a good deal of power.  I usually do not like to buy into a lot of the comparisons that people throw out there about Minor Leaguers.  However, the comparisons between Aguilar and Boston's David Ortiz could be pretty spot on.  Aguilar has been kind of late bloomer, has good power, hits for a good average, and draws a lot of walks.  Hopefully the Indians will be a little more patient with Aguilar then the Twins were with Ortiz.  Unless they want to trade him to the Cardinals or Rays....then I am game.  Here's a look at Aguilar during the Derby.....


A video posted by The Snorting Bull (@thesnortingbull) on


After watching Aguilar I immediately went out and tried to find a couple of his cards.  The problem?  There are not very many at all.  A couple of team issues, a Leaf product or two, and an odd or end in a Bowman set, but nothing really to fun looking.  Enter Topps Supreme.....




Aguilar has several different autographs in the product.  Most are flying way under the radar compared to most high end prospects.  His Leaf autographs have been selling for slightly less than $5 over the past couple of months, but his Supreme autographs are only slightly more expensive and can be had for a little more than $5.  It seems that the really low print runs do not add much of premium onto the price of his cards yet either.  My copy of his autograph from the Supreme set cost me $7 and is limited to just 35 copies.  The purple version of this card, numbered out of 25, sold for just a dollar more.  

Aguilar should be a contender for the American League Rookie of the Year next year, especially if the Indians move Nick Swisher and free up some at bats for Jesus at first base and DH.  Last season the Tribe ran Swisher out to first base and DH for 86 games and he hit .206/.278/.331.  Pretty pathetic.  Aguilar can do much better for a lot less money.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

#MyCardMonday

I have not been posting anything on my #MyCardMonday posts outside of some random card out of a box in my collection.  Where's the story behind the card?  Where's the love?  I have learned the errors of my ways and decided to post a little bit of a story to go along with my card this week.  Last Monday I posted a Placido Polanco card, so this week I am going to stick with Cardinals from the early 2000s and go with a cool Fernando Vina card.



For those not familiar with Fernando, he played primarily for the Brewers and Cardinals during the mid 90s into the early 2000s.  He was a spark plug offensively.  Not much power, not much speed, but he found a way to get on base.  He finished in the Top 10 for getting Hit By Pitches eight times during his career and is 19th in the overall career leaders for Major League Baseball.  In fact he ranks second all-time in Cardinals history and fourth all-time in Brewers history at being struck by pitches. What kind of player's offensive game revolves around getting hit by pitches all of the time?  He was like a poor man's Craig Biggio.  

Fernando was also a pretty good fielder, but sometimes bad stuff happened to him in the field.  Probably his most memorable moment in his career involved getting absolutely trucked by Albert Belle.  #Trucked 



Beyond the Albert Belle thing, Fernando landed in the Mitchell Report and worked for awhile at ESPN.  Was it the Mitchell Report?  I'm not sure what Fernando is up to these days, but I keep waiting for him to turn up in another video with Murphy Lee, Nelly, Snoop Dogg, and Puff Daddy.....


NC State Basketball- Game 5 South Florida









State finally played a school from a decent conference and it definitely showed some holes on the team.  The obvious first:  The team won and now sits at 4-0.  The Wolfpack has never won their first 4 games in a season under Gottfried, but they have made the NCAA Tournament every year.  One would think that this team has enough talent to compete in conference play and make the NCAA tournament, but we have to play better than we did tonight if we are going to get there.  While South Florida is from the American Athletic Conference (formerly part of the Big East) and play quality opponents like Cincinnati, UConn, and (last year) Louisville, they were non-competitive in that conference.  They finished 227th in RPI last year right ahead of Norfolk State.

Positives- The Pack scheduled an opponent that was not a total cupcake.  Lacey stepped up and played great hitting shots, grabbing some boards, and really taking the team on his shoulders at times.  Anya and Freeman did a great job on the boards with BeeJay blocking five shots this game.  He entered today leading the ACC in swats.  

Negatives- There are a couple of places I could go here.  Let's make a list:

1.  While the big men are rebounding there is little scoring production coming out of the 4 and 5 spots for the Pack.  Anya hit for 9 points, but bricked some free throws.  Most of his points were of the put back variety too.  Abu barely played and did not take a shot.  Freeman did not take a field goal attempt and again free throws.  Kyle Washington?  Did he play on offense?

2.  Barber did not distribute the ball.  He's faster than everyone on the court.  Pass the ball Cat.  2 assists with 1 turnover is not acceptable out of a starting point guard at this level of play.

3.  Free throw shooting.  As a native St. Louisan it pained me to see the Pack lose to the Billikens in the tournament last year because they could not hit a free throw.  Yet, here we are again.  Too many missed free throws down the stretch.  The team was up by 11 about halfway through the 2nd half and then State started piling up the bricks.  I reworked this Valvano quote to help out Gottfried for practice this week:




Gottfried:  "We practice shooting free throws into the net down every day. I have these orange basketballs [pulls basketball out of blue velvet-encased box] that we use. We save these for one thing: the end the game.” 
 

or......

"Everyday ordinary people make free throws"

Both work for me. Was that too much of a rant for a win?  


Player of the Game- Trevor Lacey 


Gottfried should find this Georgia Tech fan to help out at practice too 



Foodie Post: Lilly's Pizza in Durham

I had a great Saturday morning out with my four year old.  We ventured out to the Life & Science Museum in Durham, North Carolina.  Lots of cool stuff there, especially the dinosaur trail.  The trail is about a half mile walk and features different dinosaurs along the way.  I walked the trail about four times yesterday with my son in between trips to the museum's butterfly house, looking at wolves and bears, the barnyard, and a ride on the miniature train.



After walking around looking at dinosaurs for a few hours we ventured into downtown Durham for some pizza.  Last summer I had done my first foodie post on the pizza in Missouri.  Pizza in North Carolina is a little bit different.  There are not a ton of great stand alone pizza places in the area, not to say there are none, but there is definitely limited selection of truly good pizza places.  Yesterday my son and I ventured out to Lilly's Pizza in Durham after our time walking the dinosaur trail at the Life & Science Museum.  



There are actually two Lilly's pizza locations in the Raleigh-Durham area.  The original Lilly's Pizza is off of Wade Avenue not too far away from NC State.  My wife introduced me to the restaurant sometime in 2006 or 2007.  I am not sure when Durham got a Lilly's Pizza, but it is in the downtown area and convenient to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Duke U, or most of the other attractions in the area.  Both locations offer the same great pies made from delicious organic ingredients.



The best items to order at Lilly's are the speciality pizzas.  Lots of good choices.  They also come in all different sizes.  Since my son is strictly a cheese or sausage pizza guy I ordered a small pizza, which is still a generous portion, along with a house salad.  The salads are also incredible.  Yesterday I ordered one of my favorite specialty pies called The Sir Walter which is a mushroom and prosciutto pizza with gouda and mozzarella cheese.  The Sir Walter has a great kick of garlic which I love.  Lilly's Pizza also has great crust.  It's soft and chewy.  If it were a menu item I would order it.   Some of my other favorite pizza at Lilly's include The Gus, The Tobacco Stacker, and my wife (she a way bigger foodie than me) loves the barbecued chicken pizza Dante's Inferno.  My pizza are always olive or mushroom heavy.



If you want something simpler Lilly's also sells pizza by the slice.  The slices are generous and the toppings are really good.  My son did a slice of sausage pizza.  Really great ingredients and the same chewy, soft crust as their full sized pies.  He was a big fan of pizza.




Just to give you an idea of how big the single slices are at Lilly's, his one slice of sausage pizza was not much smaller than my small pizza.  Same sized tray.  Overall, this is one of the real pizza gems in North Carolina.  If you live in Raleigh, Durham, or somewhere nearby and have not been to a Lilly's Pizza you are missing out on a good meal.  If you ever happen to visit the area and want a good meal this is one must visit restaurant.  


FYI- Lilly's makes for some great leftovers too.  Maybe I am weird, probably, but I love leftover pizza.  One of the measuring sticks for a great pizza is eating it for the next meal or the next day after it has sat in the fridge for awhile.  Lilly's is delicious cold or reheated.  Overall, again, a great pizza place.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Champ Returns To Durham

The Rays signed minor league free agent Allan Dykstra to a minor league contract today.  The former Wake Forest star was drafted in the first round of the 2007 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres after the first baseman was named 2nd Team All-ACC, 8th best prospect in the Cape Cod League, and was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award.  Dykstra spent three years in the Padres organization and four years with Mets.  Last year he made the Pacific Coast League All-Star team and reintroduced himself to the good baseball fans in the Tar Heel State......




Quite a performance out of the former Deac.  I saw news of the signing this morning which reminded me of a card I picked up this summer and never posted.  I thought this was a cool looking card for a few bucks.......




Dykstra should be a good addition to the Durham Bulls next year.  The Bulls always seem to get an older player or two for the roster and this seems like a good replacement for Vince Belnome and Wilson Betimet.  I am just hoping that maybe Allan Dykstra will wear the championship belt from his Home Run Derby Championship in at least one at bat during the season.




Vlad Currency

I have always really liked the currency cards that Topps has put out.  It seems like they have increased in popularity since the card company has included them into their Gypsy Queen product and limited the pieces to small print runs of 5 or 10 or 25.  Very limited.  While I like the look and appearance of the new currency cards, I am not sure I like the idea of paying 25 dollars or more for a coin card.  There are lots of cool autographs you can buy for that much money.

However, the original Topps currency cards, which came from the 2003 Topps Gallery set, are extremely affordable and not really all that limited in cost.  They look fabulous and have many of the same attributes of their modern relatives in the Topps Gypsy Queen sets. 




The front of the card features a nice picture of Vlad in his Expos uni and a Centavo from his native Dominican Republic.  I am guessing that this coin is worth like a 5 cent Tootsie Roll (chocolate flavored wax) from Walgreens, but looks really cool.  I have never collected coins or anything, but always think they are cool to look at.  Other places have cool money.  The only improvement I could have suggested for this card is to have the Vlad picture feature him swinging at some really ridiculous pitch that is five feet off the plate or on top of his shoelaces. 



I do not do the backs of cards very often, but the coin cards definitely have cool backs......




Honestly, it's not that much different from the rest of the "hit" cards that card companies produce, but there is something about the fact that you can see both sides of the coin that I find really cool.  Various card companies have done this with jersey and bat relics in the past and I really think it gives the card a cool look.  I mean, besides slapping a giant "Congratulations" across the top of the card, what can you put on the back of a card like this to spruce it up?  The little Topps slogan at the bottom of the card is not making me want to run out and buy more cards this morning, but that coin face looks sweet. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Flippin Happy About An Ozzie Autograph

I have been working on trying to add a few new players into my collection.  There are the usual suspects, but I have been feeling like finding some new players lately.  Through all the search for something new I stumbled across an autograph of an old favorite last week on Twitter.  Every collector, whether they collect sets, a team, or a player, has cards they will trade or buy in a second if the opportunity presents itself.  As a Cardinals fan I enjoy any card with Stan Musial, Pujols, Wainwright, or any other good player whether they are a current or former player.  

One of my favorite Cardinals players is Ozzie Smith.  I always forget about The Wizard.  I spent a huge chunk of my childhood watching him patrol the left side of the Cardinals infield.  One of the best games I went to as a kid was the 1985 National League East clincher against the Cubs.  The Cardinals and the Mets came down to the wire that season, but the Redbirds prevailed with great pitching and defense.  




After all of the years of collecting nothing beats a good Ozzie Smith card.  When I saw the autograph in a post on Twitter I knew I had to try to get the card.  A few DMs and a week or so later and this gorgeous card is in my hands........







Thursday, November 20, 2014

NC State Basketball Game 4- Jacksonville












Jacksonville is really really bad and that's all I can really say about this game.  How does a team only score 12 points in 20 minutes of basketball with a shot clock?  Shoot 13% from the field for the half.  Center BeeJay Anya had four blocks in one Jacksonville possession, and a school record 10 in the game, which contributed greatly to the poor shooting by the Dolphins.  I understand that every team plays a few cupcakes at the beginning of the year, but this seemed like the easiest cupcake of them all so far for the Wolfpack.  I might even have to throw the exhibition against Queens into the discussion.


Positives- The first half defense looked terrific.  Blocked shots, rebounds.  It was all there.  The second half felt like a slight let down, but the team still cruised to an easy win.  For the first time this year the team was also not carried exclusively by the guards.  Turner, Lacey, and Barber were all pretty cold from the field and the team still won by a handy amount.

Negatives- Guards were all pretty cold with the exception of Caleb Martin.

Player of the Game- BeeJay Anya just missed a triple double with his 7 points, 8 rebounds, and 10 blocks.  Kind of a unique stat line there, so I am going to give it to the sophomore center.  

Friday Five: Top 5 Board Games (Indoor Recess Version)


One of my favorite baseball writers is Keith Law.  I like reading his work and he's a pretty fun follow on Twitter, Instagram, and blogs.  One of the things that I find interesting about him is the fact that he posts a lot of other things outside of baseball.  There is food, music, novels, and board games.  He offers up some cool takes on those subjects at times, other times not so much.   Tonight I am going to focus on the board games list that Keith puts out as part of his blog work.

If you don't want to click on the list above I am just going to tell you that it is missing a lot of good ones off of his list.   I know that Keith is into board games, but he missing the really important ones.  This is top 25 games as played by two players:



After reading this list my only thought was: "Where is Cootie?"  As a fourth grade teacher with fifteen years worth of experience with indoor recess I have a pretty good idea about cool board games and uncool board games.  I'd like to offer a little bit better insight into the world of board games than Mr. Law is offering his readers.   Presenting the Friday Five Top Board Games (Indoor Recess Version)


Disqualified:  Monopoly, Clue, and Life.  Recess is only 30 minutes.  We don't have an hour.  


Honorable Mention:
Chutes and Ladders



Cootie 



 Candyland 




Onto the real list: 


5.  Boggle 




4.  Scrabble 


3.  Uno 



2.  Battleship 



1.  Connect Four 



The Finest Autographed Bison Die Cut

The first year that I blogged I did a bunch of posts on Matt Kemp cards.  The Bison was coming off his incredible 2011 season, he should have one the National League MVP, and his cards were red hot.  I have always enjoyed watching Kemp play and had a good start on a nice collection before his cards get too high up there in price.  I added a few here and there, but definitely slowed down on his cards. 

Kemp's cards came back down after he spent the past year or two on hanging out on the DL.  I missed my chance to add some Kemp cards cheap.  I am sure plenty of other collectors forgot about him too. Kemp had a bounce back year last year posting 25 home runs and a split line basically at his career totals.  Is it too late to get back into Matt Kemp cards?  No.  Here is my latest.....




This is a really cool card and I am not sure that the scan really does it justice.  This die cut comes from the 2012 Topps Finest set and features the usual Kemp autograph.  It is a sticker autograph, but it's not too noticeable.  The card is also limited to just 15 copies.