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Sunday, January 31, 2021

Prospect Cliches

One of my favorite scenes in Bull Durham takes places on the bus while the team is return home after a successful road trip.  Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh climbs over the seats on the bus to the front and sits down next to Crash Davis.  Nuke asks Crash to teach him something.  Davis is reading (seriously) a newspaper article about Blue Jays A Ball outfielder Mark Whiten.   

Davis tell LaLoosh they can work on his interviews.  The diolouge goes something like this:  


You're gonna have to learn your clich├ęs. You're gonna have to study them, you're gonna have to know them. They're your friends. Write this down: "We gotta play it one day at a time."



After a minute, LaLoosh notices that the cliches are boring.  Maybe a little tired and stale.  Crash Davis closes out the scene by telling LaLoosh: 


"Of course they're boring, that's the whole point" 


Baseball card collectors have cliches too.  I notice them all the time, esepcially when people are talking about prospects.  They are somewhat ridiculous, but at the same time entertaining.  I recently bought four autographed cards of some Minor Leaguers that I am going to try to collect during the 2021 season.  I thought I would try out some of the cliches while posting their cards.  I bet you've heard a few of these.  

Note: The quotes under the cliches are things that people have actually written on the internet about these players.  I am not going to attribute the quote to the author.  They all come from Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit.  

Let's try it out with the new cards.  

Cliche #1 - Comparing A Minor Leaguer To A Major Leaguer 

"Vidal Brujan is the next Ozzie Albies"




Why does every Minor Leaguer need to have a Major Leaguer comparable?  Ozzie Albies is 24 and has played two whole seasons with the Braves.  We don't even get a Major Leaguer who has been around for ahwile?  Vidal Brujan last played in 2019 with the Double Montgomery Biscuits as a 21 year old.  He hit .266 while he was there.  

Ryan Brett once hit .303 for the Montgomery.  Who is Ryan Brett?  He was the next Dustin Pedroia, or someone like that.  Ryan Brett got 3 Major League at-bats.  

Vidal Burjan will likely be on the Durham Bulls in 2021.  


Cliche #2 -Minor Leaguer Is Going To Help The Team Win The World Series

"Mackenzie Gore is going to be the Padres third starter in the World Series" 

or 

"Can't Wait Until Mackenzie Gore starts the 7th Game of the World Series 



I think the Padres are good enough to make the World Series, but they have to play 162 regular season games to qualify for the playoffs so that they can play a few other good National League teams in the first two rounds of the playoffs.  Maybe then they will get to play a good American League team and maybe win the World Series.  

Mackenzie Gore's highest level in the Minors was Double A.  He pitched 5 games there.  

Not sure he's going to have a chance to pull an Anthony Reyes.  


Cliche #3 - This player is going to replace a long-time Major Leaguer

"Herrera is the heir apparent to the catching throne in St. Louis"  




Ivan Herrera had a good year in 2019 playing for the Peoria Chiefs.  That's an A-Ball team.  As a Cardinals fan, I am excited about Herrera.  I was also excited about Carson Kelly and Andrew Knizner.  Yadi is still starting.  This phenomena is not just something that happens with Cardinals fans.  


Cliche #4 - This draft pick is going to be in the Majors really soon.  

"He (Jordan Walker) should have no trouble getting to it in the pro ranks."


 
I am not going to share the statistics of Major League draft picks that make it to the Majors, but it's not great.  How many make it to the Majors quickly?  How many make it to the Majors and are actually really good players?  I hope Jordan Walker makes the Majors and is a very good player with the Cardinals, but there is a good chance they may not happen.  

The "May the odds be ever in your favor" women from Hunger Games pops in my head whenever I hear someone talking about high school kids being in the Majors.  



There are plenty of other cliches that people use with prospects, but I am out of cards.  


Monday, January 25, 2021

A Giant Project: Update #2

 Picked up a few new Topps Giants cards for my set project.  There are a total of four cards in this post, they were all pretty easy to find and inexpensive.  My next update is going to have some really good names.  Thought about waiting a week, but I think the next group of cards deserve their own post. 

First up for this post is Reds pitcher Jim Maloney.  

Here is the back of the card.  


Solid player.  Made a few All-Star games, struck out a ton of batters.  

Next up is Bob Bailey.  I know him mainly as an Expo in the 1970s, but he started out with the Pirates in the early 60s.  Kind of an interesting career path.  Here is the front of the card.  


He was much more of a fielder at the beginning of his career who hit the occasional home run.  Then he got sold to the Expos before the start of their first season.  He started hitting home runs in bundles and was one of their offensive stars.  


The back of the card focuses on his defense.  The second sentence was generous in describing his offensive talents at this point in his career.  Love that action picture on the back.  Very nice.  

Next.  


I was a little disappointed in the top to bottom centering on this card.  I bought it from an Ebay seller who had multiple copies.  I paid for one copy, got another copy.  Tried to return this copy, got my money back, and the guy told me to keep the card.  I might replace this one at some point, but for the moment it's staying.  

Back of the card.  


Another great action shot here with the pitch almost over his head.  I also like that the mention his basketball career at Duke on this card.  Groat's career with the Pirates was far more notable than his time with the Cardinals, but he did win a World Series with them in 1964.  

Last card.  



I did not know too much about Gary Peters before writing this post.  He had a really good beginning of his career, but was out of baseball by his mid 30s.  He won the 1963 American League Rookie of the Year, two ERA titles, and once won 20 games.  

Back of the card.  


Looks like he had a really odd motion.  


Here is my updated checklist.  I have 14 out of the 60 cards, roughly a quarter of the set.  A few new cards will be posted next week, a good name or two is included in the next group of cards.  


1 Gary Peters
2 Ken Johnson
3 Sandy Koufax SP
4 Bob Bailey
5 Milt Pappas
6 Ron Hunt
7 Whitey Ford
8 Roy McMillan
9 Rocky Colavito
10 Jim Bunning
11 Roberto Clemente
12 Al Kaline
13 Nellie Fox
14 Tony Gonzalez
15 Jim Gentile
1
6 Dean Chance
17 Dick Ellsworth
18 Jim Fregosi
19 Dick Groat
20 Chuck Hinton
21 Elston Howard
22 Dick Farrell
23 Albie Pearson
24 Frank Howard
25 Mickey Mantle
26 Joe Torre
27 Ed Brinkman
28 Bob Friend SP
29 Frank Robinson
30 Bill Freehan
31 Warren Spahn
32 Camilo Pascual
33 Pete Ward
34 Jim Maloney
35 Dave Wickersham
36 Johnny Callison
37 Juan Marichal
38 Harmon Killebrew
39 Luis Aparicio
40 Dick Radatz
41 Bob Gibson
42 Dick Stuart SP
43 Tommy Davis
44 Tony Oliva
45 Wayne Causey SP
46 Max Alvis
47 Galen Cisco SP
48 Carl Yastrzemski
49 Hank Aaron
50 Brooks Robinson
51 Willie Mays SP
52 Billy Williams
53 Juan Pizarro
54 Leon Wagner
55 Orlando Cepeda
56 Vada Pinson
57 Ken Boyer
58 Ron Santo
59 Johnny Romano
60 Bill Skowron SP





Saturday, January 23, 2021

Not Giving Up

As a Minor League baseball fan, inevitably all of your favorite players are going to leave. Minor Leaguers get promoted to the Majors, get traded, and get released all the time.  Sometimes it is easier to maintain a connection with the player after they have moved onto a different team.  Other times it is a little bit more challenging.  

I have spent a lot of time lately trying to process the Blake Snell trade from the Rays to the Padres.  I was expecting him to leave at some point, not exactly the type of player that they can afford to re-sign, but this off-season felt a little soon.  I thought I would get at least half a season more of Snell with the Rays.  

I guess not.  

Snell is one of my all-time favorite former Durham Bulls.  How many autographs of Snell have I posted on here over the past four or five years?  Fifty or sixty something?  



The number is large.  

I don't mind the Padres.  There are far worse places he could have ended up.  Do you know how many former Durham Bulls have been on the Cubs the last few years?  I know there was a strong connection with Joe Maddon managing the team.  A little hard to think good thoughts about players like Mike Montgomery and Ben Zobrist while they are beating the Cardinals.  

For the moment, I am going to press on with my Blake Snell cards.  I picked up a few inexpensive singles over the past two weeks.  There are still a few Snell autographs from 2020 that I am still missing from my collection, but not going to buy them at their current prices.  

Here are the new cards:  




Is there a baseball card product that Topps won't turn into a Chrome product?  You already know the answer.  I really like the coloring on these cards and I am not sure if I own any/many Chrome minis?  Maybe none?  Allen & Ginter always has the white borders and card stock.  The Chrome version has all sorts of colored cards, not sure if I am going to pursue the other Snells.  Probably all depends on their cost.  I am not sure the colored versions of Ginter would looks as good on standard card stock.  



The back of the card is same old Ginter design.  



This is a little different card for me.  I know it looks like a regular Topps Heritage card from 2019, but it is actually  one of those gimmicky variations that I am not really into collecting.  Well, sometimes you stumble across one that is not very expensive.  




The card is in both English and French.  Did these even appear in the 1970 Topps set?  Feels like it's some sort of salute to O-Pee-Chee.  This is actually one of those variations that I would have noticed if I pulled it out of a pack.  Topps should have put his height and weight in Metric.  

Next.  

How many times can Topps remake the 1993 Finest set?  It seems like an annual event at this point.  Maybe it's not that often, it just feels that way.  Not scanning the back of the card.  

Last card.  



How many different products can Topps make with a Chrome finish?  The answer will eventually be all of them.  This is some Chrome parallel of Snell's card from this year's Heritage set.  I prefer the black borders on the regular base set, but still not a bad looking card.  


The card is serial numbered to 571 copies.  

This is going to be the first of many Blake Snell posts I make in 2021.  Even if I get annoyed with the Padres, still more preferable than the Dodgers, I will just go back and collect all the Rays cards I am missing.  

Sunday, January 17, 2021

A Giant Project: Update #1

I have been working hard over the past two weeks to find a few more cards from the 1964 Topps Giants set that I am taking on as my first project of 2021.  I posted five cards the other week when I introduced the project, which included Hall of Famers Bob Gibson, Warren Spahn, and Joe Torre.  This week, I have five more cards to cross off the checklist.

Here are my newest additions.  I will start out with the two Hall of Famers I found.  



I found the Al Kaline card on Ebay in an auction.  I am still amazed at how little these cards cost in comparison to the regular 1964 Topps cards.  This card was less than $10.  


This is a mid-career card for Kaline.  I did not realize that he never played a Minor League game until I looked up the batting title listed on the back of this card.  I thought maybe as a 20 year old he had led the league during his rookie season, but it turned out to be his third year.  Kaline played 22 years in the Majors, but retired before he was 40. 

The second Hall of Famer I found the past two weeks is Giants first baseman Orlando Cepeda.  


I have a few other Orlando Cepeda cards, but most of them are from his time with the Cardinals in the late 1960s.  I like this posed photo with the shot over his shoulder.  


The back of the card has a typo in his stat line from his rookie year.  The card states that Cepeda had 38 triples his rookie year, but that should have read doubles.  "Cha Cha" does not seem like the type of player who hit a lot of triples.  Looking on Baseball-Reference, he had a total of 27 in 17 years.  

Last three cards.  A little quicker.  All three of these players would be greats of the era.  They were all All-Star caliber players at some point in their careers, but just not enough to be Hall of Famers.  



I always think about Rocky Colavito as an Indian or Tiger, but apparently he played one season with the Kansas City A's.  He was an American League All-Star his only season in Kansas City hitting more than 30 home runs and driving in more than 100.  I learned something new.  


He hit four home runs in a game before Mark Whiten.  


I did not know much about Jim Gentile before buying this card.  I have an old Cadaco disc of him from the All-Star Baseball Game.  That's most of my exposure to his career.  Gentile had a short career, but had some great seasons, especially early in his career with the Orioles.  In 1961, he hit 46 home runs, drove in 141 runs, and had a .646 slugging percentage.  If it were not for Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, he would have likely won the MVP Award that season.  



The centering on the card is off on this card.  On the front scan, you can see the card is off left to right.   On the back, the print looks a crooked.  This was a really cheap card, so I might upgrade to a better copy if I can find it cheap enough.  Not a high priority, but still will put it on my list of things to do.  

Last card.  


Callison was a good player for the Phillies during the 1960s.  One of the eras "What if...." players.  He was an athletic outfielder from Oklahoma with some pop in his bat, so he naturally got branded the "next Mickey Mantle".  Callison was an extra base machine, hit his fair share of home runs, but also lots of doubles and triples.  According to the Phillies people on the internet, he was also about the only player on the 1964 team who did not completely tank during the last few weeks of the season.  Leg injuries wrecked his career along with vision problems.  



The back describes his home run in the 1964 All-Star Game off of Red Sox pitcher Dick Radatz, which was Callison's defining moment in the Majors.  

My updated checklist.  Ten cards down, fifty to go.  


1 Gary Peters
2 Ken Johnson
3 Sandy Koufax SP
4 Bob Bailey
5 Milt Pappas
6 Ron Hunt
7 Whitey Ford
8 Roy McMillan
9 Rocky Colavito
10 Jim Bunning
11 Roberto Clemente
12 Al Kaline
13 Nellie Fox
14 Tony Gonzalez
15 Jim Gentile
1
6 Dean Chance
17 Dick Ellsworth
18 Jim Fregosi
19 Dick Groat
20 Chuck Hinton
21 Elston Howard
22 Dick Farrell
23 Albie Pearson
24 Frank Howard
25 Mickey Mantle
26 Joe Torre
27 Ed Brinkman
28 Bob Friend SP
29 Frank Robinson
30 Bill Freehan
31 Warren Spahn
32 Camilo Pascual
33 Pete Ward
34 Jim Maloney
35 Dave Wickersham
36 Johnny Callison
37 Juan Marichal
38 Harmon Killebrew
39 Luis Aparicio
40 Dick Radatz
41 Bob Gibson
42 Dick Stuart SP
43 Tommy Davis
44 Tony Oliva
45 Wayne Causey SP
46 Max Alvis
47 Galen Cisco SP
48 Carl Yastrzemski
49 Hank Aaron
50 Brooks Robinson
51 Willie Mays SP
52 Billy Williams
53 Juan Pizarro
54 Leon Wagner
55 Orlando Cepeda
56 Vada Pinson
57 Ken Boyer
58 Ron Santo
59 Johnny Romano
60 Bill Skowron SP





Wednesday, January 13, 2021

If I Had A Hall of Fame Ballot....

It's that time of year.  I am keeping the same format I have used the last several years.  There are 25 players on the ballot this year, voters are allowed to vote for up to 10 players.  If I had a ballot, I would definitely vote for 8 of the players, others I would consider.  We are going to start out by getting rid of the players that I would not vote to put into the Hall.  Notable players, blog favorites will be given pictures of cards.  One stock photo of a clown is included.  

Indians fans, just click the back arrow before you read any further.  

25. Omar Vizquel 











I chose this photo for Omar Vizquel, because I could not find a photo of a clown being questioned by the police while they were investigating a domestic violence call at his house. No, the Hall of Fame is not a Hall of Morals.  My morals will let me vote for steroid users, but not someone who beat the crap out of their wife.  

24. Curt Schilling 

I do not post politics on my blog, so I will leave it at this:

I have friends, co-workers, and former students whose race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, or religious views that have been attacked by Curt Schilling.  Similar to what I wrote for Vizquel, the Hall of Fame is not necessarily a the Hall of Morals, but we all have our line.  Schilling crosses my line.  I will not vote for him.  

23. Michael Cuddyer 

22. LaTroy Hawkins 

LaTroy started playing when he was 22, retired at 42, and pitched in more than 1,000 Major League games.  Many of them with the Twins and Rockies.  Guy had an ERA+ of 134 (100 is an average Major League pitcher) pitching for the Rockies.  That's pretty good in a very tough stadium.  He also pitched in Game 6 of the 2011 National League Championship Series and was the only Brewers pitcher who was not completely torched by the Cardinals.  LaTroy is worthy of a card.  













21. A.J. Burnett 

What's the worst no-hitter of all-time?  There are actually several articles on the internet making the argument that the answer is A.J. Burnett.  In 2001, while pitching for the Marlins, Burnett threw a no-no that included 9 walks and a hit batter.  Every position player in the starting line-up reached base at least once.  Ryan Klesko walked twice.  A.J. Burnett still has more no-hitters than a lot of other really good pitchers.  A.J. Burnett gets a card.  














20. Nick Swisher 

19. Shane Victorino 

18. Aramis Ramirez 

If you could make the Hall of Fame by repeatedly bludgeoning one team over a 17 year period, than Aramis Ramirez would be in Cooperstown.  There is no player that Cardinals fans have feared more during the first two decades of the 200s outside of Aramis Ramirez.  Well, maybe Carlos Beltran in the NLCS that one year and David Ortiz in the 2013 World Series.  Outside of those two occasions, the answer is Aramis Ramirez.  Worst of all, despite being a free agent a few times and being traded, he spent his entire career in the N.L. Central on the Pirates, Brewers, and Cubs.  ARam has an .885 career OPS against the Cardinals, or the same as Eddie Matthews over the course of his entire career.  I am happy that Aramis is out there somewhere not hitting against the Cardinals.  A card.  














17. Dan Haren  

Former Cardinals pitcher, long career.  Not a Hall of Famer, but it pained me for years that the Cardinals traded him to the A's for Mark Mulder.  Not so great, Bob.  Dan Haren gets a card.  














16. Barry Zito  

Where is Mark Mulder?  

15. Torii Hunter 

I would not vote to put Torii Hunter in the Hall of Fame, but he was a fun player to watch.  I am not putting videos in this post, but if you've never seen the home run he took away from Bonds in the 2002 All-Star Game, it's worth a minute of your day.  Definitely worthy of a card.  











14. Billy Wagner 

I am not a huge fan of modern closers.  One inning, that's it.  I'm not sure how to give that value.  There are a few exceptions, but I am not going to get into the weeds too much.  I will say that if he makes it into the Hall, he is more deserving than Trevor Hoffman.  














13. Tim Hudson 

Hudson is a Hall of Very Good player.  Then again, somebody put Jack Morris in the Hall of Fame.  Hudson had some great years with the A's and Braves, also won a World Series with the Giants in 2014.  Definitely need a Tim Hudson card.  














12. Mark Buehrle 

Buerhle is another Hall of Very Good player.  He won a World Series with the 2005 White Sox, threw a no-hitter and perfect game, and he's from the St. Louis area.  He's got over 200 wins, but less than 2,000 strikeouts.  He's not getting in, but then again, somebody put Don Sutton in the Hall of Fame.  Maybe he will make it someday.  I have seen people making the argument, just not sure I buy it.  

























11. Andy Pettitte 


Speaking of Don Sutton, here is Andy Pettitte.  He played for the Yankees most of his career, minus a few seasons spent with a highly competitive Astros team.  Lots of wins, just like Don Sutton.  Again, I am not getting too far into the weeds here, but I am not sure I can see Pettitte as a Hall of Famer.  Andy Pettitte is a Hall of Very Good player too, just like....

Never mind.  Here's a card.  











10. Jeff Kent 

I am not a huge fan.  At the same time, I will say that I really did not like Jeff Kent as a player.  I know that other players, like Dick Allen, have missed out on the Hall for similar reasons.  It's not just that I dislike him, but I also feel like his numbers aren't great.  If we are going to put a second baseman in the Hall, I would rather it be Lou Whitaker or Bobby Grich.  He's the all-time home run leader amongst second baseman, so he's got that going for himself.  

Not sure I would complain too much if he got voted in, but I just wouldn't be a supporter.  I am always willing to listen though.  I will give Jeff Kent a card, but only because I am nice.    




9. Bobby Abreu 


I am not sure if Bobby Abreu is a Hall of Famer, but several people have convinced me that he has a far better case than I would have imagined.  He played 18 years in the Majors, the majority of that time was spent on some terrible Phillies teams.  If you like Sabermetrics, his WAR is in between Dave Winfield and Vladimir Guerrero on the all-time list for right fielders.  You like counting stats?  His almost 600 doubles place him in the top five all-time amongst right-fielders around players like Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, and Tony Gwynn.  His almost 2,500 hits put him with Reggie Jackson and Vladimir Guerrero, both Hall of Famers.  

I know, I went into the weeds there a bit, but he deserves a better fate than some other Hall of Famers worthy outfielders from this same era, like Jim Edmonds and Kenny Lofton, who deserved to stick around the ballot more than one year.  Yes, I would vote for him.  



8.  Andruw Jones 

Andruw Jones had a great twelve year run with the Braves.  He was one of the best centerfielders in the game, played on playoff teams every year he was there, and hit more than 400 home runs.  The last five years of his career as a backup outfielder were ugly, get over it.  I would vote for him.  




7. Gary Sheffield 


I listened to a Podcast a few months back about Gary Sheffield's Hall of Fame candidacy.  It was really good, so here goes.  First, he was a great hitter who had more than 500 home runs, more than 2,500 hits, and was one of the most feared hitters of his generation.  On the other hand, he was a horrible defender, think Adam Dunn, and he was on 8 different teams in 22 years.  He's also got a steroid connection, but I don't care about steroids.  His offense was hard to pass-up.  I would vote for Sheff.    


6. Sammy Sosa 

I don't care about steroids.  Sammy has more than 600 home runs.  I would vote for him.  



5. Todd Helton 


He was a great player on the Rockies who hit for average and a ton of doubles.  During his best season, which was in 2000, Helton hit .353 on the road with 15 home runs and 31 doubles.  If you are going to say to yourself, "but Coors Field", his OPS on the road for his career was higher than Orlando Cepeda's, who was in the Hall. Helton's slugging percentage is in between Tony Perez and Eddie Murray, both in the Hall.  I would vote for Helton. 














4. Manny Ramirez 

Great hitter who helped end the Red Sox World Series drought.  I'd vote for him.  











3. Scott Rolen 

He hit more than 300 home runs, 500 doubles, and won 8 Gold Gloves.  One of the best defensive third baseman ever, really good hitter in the prime of his career.  I'd vote for him.  











2. Roger Clemens 

One of the greatest pitchers of all-time.  I don't care if he was a jerk.  I'd vote for him.  














1. Barry Bonds 

One of the greatest hitters of all-time.  I'd vote for him.