Monday, December 30, 2013

Mail Call: COMC Black Friday.

       Today is the infamous "Black Monday" in NFL coaching circles - the day when poor head coaches find out their (usually poor) fate.  Watching ESPN this morning is like watching a funeral procession, one after another crappy coach after crappy coach is thrown on the fire.  It is schadenfreude at its finest especially when your teams aren't involved.  What better day to check out all my Black Friday booty from COMC (how's that for a segue?) Every year they run a special for free shipping - plus most sellers have kickass sales - so it is the best day of the year to load up on cards.  I nabbed some stuff I have had my eye on for most of the year and broke down and bought a few things I had been aching to have but wanted at my price.

First we'll start with some die cut numbered 2004 eX rookies:
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To be honest, I only wanted a page of the base cards and had been striking out in trades or at shows finding any.  As I perused my wantlists, this was the first incomplete page that stood out for some reason.  This set just screams "millennium design" with all its metallic highlights and swoops and blocky modern fonts.  When I searched the site, I saw that these die cut rookies were more readily available (and cheaper) than the base cards.  So I switched gears and nabbed nine of these instead and made this nifty page out of them.  

I also loaded up on some of this year's Mets cards I had not yet added:
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In a minor upset, I got many more Zack Wheeler cards than anything else.  That orange refractor is just spectacular, as most Mets cards in orange refractor form are.  That overly ornate die cut Matt Harvey was a must-add as it is so over the top and silly looking, it belongs in 1996.  I also think you could use those cards as shurikens.  I also nabbed a low number shiny 2004 eX rookie of Mets failed prospect Aarom Baldiris.  He deserved to washout just for the silly spelling of his name.  I might own more of his useless cards than any other Mets prospect that never got to the majors (he was big in Japan, though).

I also got some single cards to complete some pages:
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I am trying to put together a page of all the Topps Finest and that Livan Hernandez finished off the 2004 page (check my want lists to see if you can help).  I also found that Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds cards are pretty cheap - gee, I wonder why? - and grabbed a couple of those to complete a couple of vague pages.  That Gary Sheffield finishes his page in my retired book; I wanted to get a card for each team he played for and since he only played for eight different teams, I decided on a minor league card to round it out.  The bottom row shows piles of cards I needed to finish two pages I really really wanted to get done.  I suppose it is my love of shiny, but I have wanted to do a page of those 2005 UD Reflections Legends cards for a while.  The other cards were to complete a page of 2001 UD Decade inserts.  I would have done a page for each of the different inserts, but for some odd reason most of the inserts in that set are only 6 total cards and that just doesn't jibe with the Starting Nine theme.  The patchwork page practically works better as a dayglow memorial to 1970's excess and now has a place of honor in my faux vintage book. 

One more card on that last scan deserves to be seen in its rightful place:
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I am kind of a sucker for all of the Upper Deck Heroes sets and subsets, so when I saw a couple of years ago that Martin Brodeur had one, I had to have it.  Getting the first 8 was easy enough, but Upper Deck being Upper Deck, the ninth card, the fancy painting checklist card, was severely short printed.  The thing cost $20 or more on ebay if you could find one.  I love #30, don't get me wrong, but this nonsense seemed a bit extreme.  So there sat a hole in the very front page of my hockey binder for a long long time.  I just couldn't/wouldn't give in to short printed extortion.  But as often happens during these kinds of shopping sprees, you get on a roll.  I plugged that card into the search and came back with a few hits, one of them for $8.20 - a 50% sale that would only last Black Friday weekend.  So I sighed, swallowed my pride and bit; it is by far the most expensive card I bought.  I'm sorry but I'm not sorry. 

I filled in holes old and new in my Topps All Star Rookie needs:
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I grabbed those two 1964 and the 1963 cards on the super cheap and finally added the 2012 Brett Lawrie which had somehow eluded me.  My modern needs have now been whittled down to (mostly) parallels and inserts.  I have plenty of vintage ones yet to go, though.  Also in this scan are a couple more faux vintage pages finishing cards.  The Eck and Bench cards are from the Shoebox set back at the height of retro reprint mania.  The 2004 retired set page leaves only the 2005 Topps retired page left to be completed. 

A few more odds and ends and some non-baseball cards:
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That Bob Gibson finishes off one of the first pages of faux-vintage cards I had made but it had a Cal Ripken card in it, who at the time was technically a current player.  If you are going to have rules about your pages, you have to be a stickler and I just don't like to mix current and retro players (unless I feel like it, of course).  Those top two football cards are from an obscure Collector's Edge set that I had to have a page of just because of its 90's see-thru acetate goodness. The Gene Sykes completes one of my last 1960's football pages (hopefully that post will happen soon) and that Wayne Babych is an OPC hockey card that finishes off that vintage page.  I think those old school hockey cards work so much better in poorly cut Canadian style, don't you?  Finally, the last four cards all have something in common and 64 silver dollars* to the person who figures it out.

*may not be actual silver or dollars

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Football '13 Week 17: Disappointment.

       These arrived via Fed-Ex on Saturday and I opened them Sunday afternoon just about the time the Atlanta Falcons were blowing the end of the game against the Seahawks thus rendering them very bright shiny bookmarks and sending the Saints on the road for three games.  Sherman so had the right idea of how to deal with that city.

And yes, I realize that the Saints lost to both the the Rams and the Jets and that their wild card-bound plight is their own doing.  I am just frustrated.  Of course, the result of the Philly/Dallas game has made the Saints first playoff game about 100 miles from my house.  To the Stubhub!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Most Famous Reindeer of All.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Had a very shiny nose,
And if you ever saw it,
You would even say it glows. (like a light bulb!)
All of the other reindeer
Used to laugh and call him names;
They never let poor Rudolph
Join in any reindeer games.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve,
Santa came to say,
Rudolph with your nose so bright,
Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?

Then how the reindeer loved him
As they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,
You'll go down in history.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Football '13 Week 16: A Passing Record.

       This afternoon Peyton Manning set the all time single season record for passing touchdowns with his 51st.  He did this in his 15th game of the season which means he could add to this total before the regular season ends.
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Peyton Manning: Center square, er, rectangle.

Sure, this is quite an impressive accomplishment to add to his resume (for a second time, even) but let's analyze the last few seasons in which the TD record had been broken...

1963: YA Tittle, 36 touchdowns.
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Y.A. Tittle: middle right

Team result: Lost NFL Championship game. 

1984: Dan Marino, 48 touchdowns.
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Team result: Lost Super Bowl.

2004: Peyton Manning, 49 touchdowns.
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Team result: lost AFC Championship game.

2007: Tom Brady, 50 touchdowns.
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Team result: lost Super Bowl.

I see a very inauspicious pattern here.  You have to go back to 1961 and George Blanda to the last time a quarterback set the touchdown record and won a title - and he did it in the AFL.  To get to the last time an NFL quarterback did it, you need to go back two years further to 1959 and John Unitas.  So cherish your new record Peyton because your playoff history and the last 50 years of NFL history shows that it might be all you get this year.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Football '13 Week 15: Bush League.

     In 2005, Reggie Bush won the Heisman Trophy which "is awarded annually to the most outstanding player in college football in the United States whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work."
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In 2010, they took away his Heisman Trophy because he did something so unforgivable, 75-90% of college athletes do it, he took money from a booster.

To put this in perspective, in 1994, I played DIII baseball for the mighty Emerson College Lions.  Our ragtag bunch of players went 2-16.  The highlight of our season was two victories over the Mass College of Pharmacy by forfeit because they didn't have enough players.  We got full use of the college's Exxon credit card which we used routinely to run up $400-$500 worth of beer, food, and sundries every game for the post game party in direct violation of NCAA rules.  I demand the NCAA investigate this, vacate those two wins from the Lions, and strike the 17 at bats and 10 (horrible) innings pitched of the author.  I trust since I am turning myself in for this they will go lenient on me and only suspend me for one of my two remaining eligible years. 
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This year, they gave the trophy to Jameis Winston, who has been investigated for rape.  Last year, they gave it to Johnny Manziel - who probably got more money in one day than Bush got in 3 years at USC.  Also receiving the Heisman trophy includes gamblers, drug addicts, and of course, this guy.  As of this writing, none of them have been asked to give back their awards.  That's some quality integrity right there.

Friday, December 6, 2013


or Sign of the Times?

        The Seattle Mariners(!) have signed Robinson Cano to a ten year $240 million dollar contract. 
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So lemme get this straight, Seattle, a 31-year old Cano is worth a quarter of a billion dollars over a decade but not too long ago a 26-year old Alex Rodriguez wasn't?
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and let's just forget about his love of PEDs for the moment...he was pretty good in 2000.

As a bitter Mets fan, I have two words for Seattle: Roberto Alomar...
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Alomar had arguably his best year at 31, another brilliant year at 33...and was absolutely done at 35.  A cautionary tale that is certainly a little food for thought.  In the grand scheme of things, I think the Yankees made the right choice backing off and letting Seattle take all the risks this one.


Speaking of "Grand" and the Yankees - coming soon! the Mets sign a good free agent that fills a desperate need at market price - and it isn't April Fools Day! 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Trade with William of foul bunt.

       I present to you the smallest swap I have done in quite some time.  In fact, in terms of time from start to finish, this single card was very well earned.  A little background: I was clicking about the card-blogosphere a few months while ago during a bout of insomnia when I bumped into foul bunt.  Somehow this gem has been operating under my radar for some time now - I suggest it highly as it is well written and well organized.  After reading a bunch of posts, I noticed he had a trade bait tab so I clicked to peruse what he had to offer.  I saw he had a card from this year that I had wanted to add to my collection of Mets busts, a Chasing History Collin Cowgill autograph:
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Collin Cowgill: Another Mets Spring Training superstar.  The only history he chased with the Mets was lowest BA.
So I emailed William and asked what he would want for it.  Turns out, he had just sent it off to COMC that week but he offered to call it back for me.  So not only is William a good writer, he is a good person too.  This gave me plenty time to put together some 2013 Topps Emerald parallels and some other Orioles goodies for him from his wantlists.  Last week, I got the email from him that the card had returned and three days later - bam! - the thing arrives with a nice little note and his very handsome business card.  I haven't just traded for a single card in quite some time as I usually like to pile on and make the most of things.  But the fact that most of my O's oddballs get sent off to Kevin means that for now this minor trade will have to do.  Because of William's politeness and willingness to go out of his way for me, though, I am quite certain this will not be our last. 

Friday, November 22, 2013


       As every media outlet in the universe has no doubt let you know, today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
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You will be inundated with remembrances, retrospectives, theories, and conspiracies about every aspect of this event.  As I have said before, I do not want to lament anyone's death, I would rather celebrate how they lived.  And boy, did JFK live.  Plus, what gets lost most of all in the canonization of the man and the lunatic myth-making of his death is all the actual stuff he did.  I think if you asked the average American about any of the legislation his presidency passed, most would give you a look akin to a dog being shown a card trick.

        One thing JFK actually did was set the standard for the current Presidential Medal of Freedom. This is the highest civilian award in the United States.  Earlier this week, President Obama awarded this year's recipients and one of them was Mr. Cub Ernie Banks.  He is the ninth Major League baseball player to receive this medal.  As a change of pace today, let's look at all those winners, shall we?

Ernie Banks 2013
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Poor Ernie not only never got to play in the postseason, he had to receive his medal from a White Sox fan...he probably deserved better than that. 

Stan Musial 2011
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Musial was in the navy in WWII (as you can see in the card in the middle first row) and you would be hard pressed to find a better ambassador for baseball than The Man. 

Buck O'Neil 2006
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OK, I take that back, Buck O'Neil might be the best ambassador for baseball ever.  He played in the Negro Leagues from 1937 until basically the Negro Leagues stopped being a thing.  He then was a scout for the Cubs (and helped them sign the aforementioned Ernie Banks) and was even the first African-American coach in the majors.  But Buck O'Neil became an icon late in life thanks to Ken Burns' documentary series Baseball.  If a 20+ hour film can have a star, Buck was it.  His knowledge and enthusiasm for baseball permeate the whole project and every moment he is on the screen is a joy. 

Frank Robinson 2005
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Frank Robinson is simply the most underrated baseball player of all time.  His numbers somehow get lost in the shuffle, even though they are gargantuan.  He also was the first African American manager in the majors when he took the reins of the Indians in 1975.  Plus, if you ever want to ask a tricky trivia question, hit them with "Who was the first black manager in the National League?" because the answer is also Frank Robinson.

Roberto Clemente 2003
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I have covered Roberto Clemente before on this blog.  If you don't understand why Roberto would get this award, you don't understand either.

Hank Aaron 2002
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For all the scrutiny today's athletes say they have to endure, did any man have to put up with more nonsense while just trying to play a game than Hank Aaron?  And given those circumstances, could he have acted more humble and classy?  I think not.  America owes a huge apology to Hank Aaron and I like to think this award was part of that.

Ted Williams 1991
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I snarkily celebrated Teddy Ballgame recently but really, to be honest, there is no way to overstate Williams' credentials as an American Badass: Maybe the greatest hitter of all time.  Maybe the greatest fly fisherman of all time.  Flew combat missions in two different wars.  Used his Hall of Fame speech as a call to have Negro League players enshrined.  I mean, John Wayne based his voice and cadence after him for crying out loud.  What is more American than that?

Jackie Robinson 1984
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That it took until 1984 to give Jackie Robinson this honor is kind of outrageous, don't you think?  Shouldn't he have been on the short list, like, the very first year? 

Joe DiMaggio 1977
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It proves that people were always kinda overestimating the value of Joe DiMaggio as he was the first baseball player to receive the Medal of Freedom.  That said, you have to remember that sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  Dividing The Myth, The Man, and The Player out of Joe D is almost impossible, so you kinda just have to go with it - and it seems history and pop culture always have when it comes to him.  Plus, you gotta figure since he was married to Marilyn Monroe for a short time, he and JFK had a lot more in common than we'd all care to think about. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Football '13 Week 12: Throwback Thursday.

       While I am hardly a bandwagon jumper when it comes to the Saints, I have to admit, I have not suffered nearly as much as longtime fans have.  I got into the game just as the team has hit its stride as a perennial contender.  After all, this is a team that took 20 years just to make the playoffs and more than 30 years to actually win a playoff game.  I am spoiled in retrospect. 

At 8-2, the Saints are in the driver's seat to win the division and with a few breaks, they could be the number one seed in the conference.  That last point is critical as teams have a habit of coming into the Superdome and getting thoroughly destroyed. At the beginning of the year, The Falcons looked like a huge obstacle in all this.  Instead, they are a minor speed bump.  Hopefully, they will not play spoiler and just lay down at home as they have to seemingly every other team this year. 

Seeing as this game is on Thursday night, I figured it would be a good time to do a little Throwback special for the Saints.  Since I have covered the actual design of these cards before, lets instead look at the players and overall teams for the Saints from back before they could even dream of finishing above .500.

1987 Saints: 12-3.
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Well, okay, this was the first glimmer of hope.  This was the first season the Saints finished above .500 and also the first they made the playoffs.  They lost that first playoff game to the Vikings 44-10.  In fact, they lost their first 4 playoff games by a cumulative score of 123-56.

1986 Saints: 7-9.
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You will notice as we go through these pages that the kicker and punter always seem to be prominently represented for the Saints.  In sets where they were only making 10-12 cards per team, this is not the sign of a quality team. 

1982 Saints: 4-5.
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During a strike year, the Saints won 4 games.  This was more games than they had won in 6 of their first 13 seasons.  Oh, and remember that punter/kicker observation from before?  The Saints once drafted a punter in the first round.  That man was Russell Erxleben.  Now, as crazy as this notion seems when your team is terrible, you would think if you are going to use/waste your first draft pick on a punter, he would be one hell of a punter, right?  Well, of course he flamed out in about six years.  He even eventually spent time in federal prison.  And weirdest of all, this is not the worst thing the Saints ever did during the draft.  Aren't those black and gold uniforms handsome, though?

1981 Saints: 4-12.
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Looking at the faces of the players on these cards, you would think they had spent time in 'nam recently rather than playing professional football.  Only the kicker is kind of almost breaking a smile, and that's only compared to the other faces on this page.  This was a year after The Aints and their 1-15 season so this team was comparatively a great improvement.  Yikes.

1979 Saints: 8-8.
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Between 1967 and 1986, this record was the high water mark.  Actually, when speaking of New Orleans, maybe that is the wrong turn of phrase.  All praise Chuck Muncie: Original Hipster.  The man had a look.

1978 Saints: 7-9.
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Seven wins was as many wins as they had in the two previous seasons combined.  Archie Manning deserved better than the teams he was saddled with in the 70's.  As it is, he has the lowest winning percentage of any QB in history.  I guess he got his revenge through his bloodline by unleashing Eli and Peyton on the world two decades later.

1974 Saints: 5-9.
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You gotta love the poses on these cards.  Everyone looks like they walked right off the set of The Longest Yard or North Dallas Forty.  Bob Pollard not only looks like a serious serious man, he has the same name as the lead singer of my favorite band ever not named The Beatles.

My complete pages of team years ends there.  From there, it is all 3x3.  This might be for the best as the records are more of the same: 1975 2-12, 1973 5-9, 1971 4-8-2.  At least they only played 14 games back then.
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Happy Feller?  Seriously? 

1972 2-11-1, 1970 2-11-1, 1969 5-9. 
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Dan Abramowitz sounds and looks like he should be your accountant and not a pro football player.  Instead, he was one of the best players of the early Saints.  And I gotta say, the late 60's and early 70's posed pictures are 100x better than the candid sideline photos of players without their helmets on from the late 70's and early 80's.  Such jaunty angles and variety.  Scroll back up to those 1981 cards again and these.  It looks like it's not even the same sport.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mail Call: Oddest of the Odd.

       I have not chronicled my new found love of Listia as much as I think I should here on this blog.  I certainly have shown my love for oddball cards and dime boxes at card shows.  Listia allows me to indulge these two loves at the same time without even having to leave my house.  I mean, sure, I try and secure quality cards from Listia, but my real favorite thing is to find weird lots of cards and buy them.  Last week, I bid on what I thought was three pretty crazy cards.  Instead, the seller put some unexpected bonuses into the envelope and may very well have created the freakiest lot I have ever seen:
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The original lot was the Strawberry, the Whitney Houston(!) and the Superman hologram.  I am not entirely certain how I even ran across this lot; I must have searched "strawberry" I suppose.  As I have shown in the past I love those 1990 Starline cards (and I don't have the individual Stawberry), I adore shiny (and Superman), and say what you will about Ms Houston, but that rendition of the Star Spangled Banner is top drawer.  So I figured, what the hell, the expense was minimal.  In and of itself, though, that odd threesome probably would not have warranted its own post.  It seems the Listia gods were looking down upon me and struck hard.  The seller threw in the other six cards you see there with no warning or provocation.  And what a wonderful six cards they are.  First of all, how did they have the prescience to know I collected Frank Thomas, much less include a card I did not own.  Then there is the marvelous Brooks Robinson K-Mart oddball card, also a card I did not own.  I covered goofy fun NFL names yesterday and Dana Stubblefield definitely fits that mold.  And while basketball cards are not my favorite, an über 90's looking Phil Jackson, a so-lame-it-is-wonderful Amar'e Stoudemire rookie, and a Tim Hardaway NBA Hoops rookie is a triumvirate I can get behind. 

Thank you rosemaryforsythe, I will never forget you.  This group is so ugly, so disparate, so random it's wonderful.  I almost want to leave them as a single page but alas, this is the one time they will all be together for posterity.  Drink it in. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Football '13 Week 11: Lyrical.

       Many of you have noticed my fascination with words and names.  While some are just amusing in and of themselves, others are simply lots of fun to say.  I love to go to a Mexican joint and order chimichangas.  I will say it two or three times.  Chim-eee-chan-gaaaaa.  I am saying it now as I type and giggling.  Plus there is also words like serendipity.  Rigamarole.  Hootenanny.  Phantasmagoria. Blubber.  So so many.

The Giants in recent years have had more than their fair share of fun names to say.  I lamented the loss of Osi Umenyiora from their defensive line because he and this man made up one hell of a good sentence:

Mathias Kiawanuka.  Key-a-wa-nuuuu-kaaaa.  So much fun to say.

And don't sleep on Prince Amukamara.  I really hope they somehow team up for a sack today just to hear the broadcasters announce that one.

I have a friend who is a huge Steelers fan and she just loves to yell Pa-la-ma-looooooooo whenever they play.  I gotta admit, I like Troy just for that reason.

Anyone else have a favorite player just because their name is fun to say?  Doesn't matter what the sport is...Buddy Biancalana and Fernando Valenzuela come immediately to mind...Shaquille O'Neal...and of course, Zarley Zalapski.  Let me know in the comments.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Award Winners '13.

       For the first time in a long while, I agree with all four choices for the major two awards.  It seems once a year for the last few years, there has a been a WHAAAAA?!?!? selection (Buster Posey over Ryan Braun?  Ryan Braun over Matt Kemp?  Josh Hamilton over Miguel Cabrera or Robinson Cano?). 

Miguel Cabrera, 2013 AL MVP.
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This makes back to back MVPs for Miggy.  By my count, he should have four.

Andrew McCutchen, 2013 NL MVP.
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I just heard a St. Louis writer on MLB Network trying to justify his vote for Yadier Molina and then going on to say he is not a homer.  I don't think you understand the meaning of that word if you don't think that applies to you.

Max Scherzer, 2013 AL Cy Young.
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I originally collected this dude because of his very tasteful name, now look! I have a page of a Cy Young award winner.

Clayton Kershaw.  2013 NL Cy Young.
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I need to work on my page of this guy.  Maybe you can help?

Oh and these are the Rookie of the Year winners.
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I obviously don't have pages of these guys because, you know, rookies.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Football '13 Week 10: Veteran's Day.

       Today is Veteran's Day.  If you have any friends or family that served in the military, please thank them for their service today.  Heck, even if you see someone on the street, shake their hand and offer thanks.
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Except for one glaring exception, you don't hear much about professional athletes who served in the military.  This is a blessing and a curse, I suppose, since without the draft they can focus on their sport and not Uncle Sam. 
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If you watched any football this weekend, they had moments for our military at all the stadiums.  Of all the mistakes and horrors that came out of the Vietnam war, one of the worst was how we treated the men and women who returned from that conflict.  Luckily, we somehow learned a lesson from that and while we still participate in fruitless wars, we try and show our appreciation to our service members who return.
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So as you settle in to watch a god awful Monday Night Football game this evening, keep in mind all those around who protected your freedom to be incensed at ESPN.