Friday, July 31, 2015

RIP Rowdy Roddy Piper.

       I should be talking about baseball trades and pennant races but I am blindsided by the death of one of the titans of wrestling, one Roderick George Toombs, better known as "Rowdy" Roddy Piper.  Sadly, like most wrestlers it seems, he was taken too soon at the age of 61.
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No, I don't follow wrestling much anymore but in my youth I lived and died by the soap opera exploits of the WWF.  And sure, I liked Hulk Hogan and Randy "Macho Man" Savage just fine, but my favorite was the gregarious and outrageous (and outrageously evil) Hot Rod.
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Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention his movie career.  And while he did a bunch of flicks, only one really matters - They Live.  If you have never seen the movie They Live, well, I don't really know what to say other than go freaking watch it.  You'll thank me later.
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"Just when they think they got the answers, I change the questions."

Good night, sweet prince.  I will be chewing some bubblegum and kicking some ass in your honor this weekend.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Stopped Short.

       This morning I woke up to find out that the shortstop the Mets should have traded for at the beginning of the year was traded...
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...for the shortstop the team never should have let get away in the first place.
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*sigh* Can someone remind me again what it is like to not have incompetent management who is under the thumb of cheapskate owners? 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Hall of Fame Gif.

       Sadly, my life is still a little topsy-turvy for regular posting and with this weekend being Hall of Fame induction weekend and all, you know I wish I had the time and inclination to spout off on my favorite rant subject.  Alas, I doubt I will get any, so in the meantime, enjoy this gif of all the members of Cooperstown in chronological order.

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And who knows, maybe you'll get a surprise tomorrow.  Or maybe I'll sleep like a dead person and not make it to my computer.  My life is quite an array of possibilities.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Life Lesson From Larry Doby.

       On July 5, 1947 Larry Doby became the second African-American player in major league baseball's modern era.  As you know, 11 Weeks earlier on April 15th, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and became a symbol for baseball, civil rights, and all that could be good in America.  He had to overcome hardship, bigotry, death threats, epithets, and narrow-mindedness at every turn.  Of course, Larry Doby had to endure all the same kinds of mean-spirited trials and tribulations along the way.  So why does Jackie Robinson get the annual day, the universal number retirement, and national canonization while Larry Doby remains a curious footnote, known by only the staunchest of baseball fans and civil rights activists?  I wish there was some deep philosophical and profound reason that required deep analysis.  Alas, it is as simple as Jackie was first and Larry was second.  Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray invented the phone at the same time but Bell got to the patent office first, which is why they had to break up Ma Bell and not Papa Graham.  I am not saying this is fair, it's just the way it is.  And lord knows I am certainly not the first person to point any of this out, but as a second born child, I know it all too well.

By all accounts, Larry Doby was a hell of a ballplayer.  He is rightfully in the hall of fame - though it certainly took a while - for both his play and his status in the history of the game.  I like to think that one of these years, instead of overemphasizing and fetishizing Jackie Robinson and his #42 and all that stuff, that maybe they could have a Larry Doby Day in July when all the players in MLB wear #14 and we can hear the story of how this man integrated an entire league and followed in the footsteps of greatness - but was also most certainly great himself.   Hell, I know it's a long way off, but 2023 will be his 100th birthday and that would be as good a time as any to give him some long overdue recognition.
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Not shown: Pete Conrad, Gherman Titov, Walther Müller, Karl Dönitz, Tenzing Norgay, Alexander Mackenzie, John Adams, James Garfield, Yale, Beta, Helium, Pennsylvania, Pinocchio, The right to bear arms, The 1969 Chiefs, Michael Wilding, Anne Boleyn, Christiane Martel, Kelly Wiglesworth, Bobby Leach, Tony Roventini, John Landy, Milorad Cavic, Peter Norman, Steffi Graf, and Ty Cobb.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Friday, July 3, 2015

Mail Call: Shiny!

       I am a sucker for free shipping.  Yes, I am the kind of buffoon who will buy extra stuff just to qualify for it.  Like when has one of their free shipping promotions there is usually a minimum number involved, but this really isn't a problem for me since I am pretty active buying and selling on their site.  Well, this spring has thrown all sorts of curve balls and I just haven't been as card-centric as I normally am.  So when I noticed they were having a free shipping for 30+ cards promotion a couple weeks ago, I was forlorn to see that I only had 6 cards waiting in my shipping queue.  Do you think this deterred me?  Did you read the first two sentences of the post? 

I delved into my watch list but only saw high priced stuff for the most part.  I did, however, notice two very reasonably priced inserts from last year's Bowman set.  These inserts were not only Mets cards, they were shiny.  Very shiny.  I got swept up in the moment and decided it would be easiest to make a page of each of these inserts to qualify for my free shipping.  Hey, a bargain is a bargain and shiny is shiny.

The first page is of the 1989 Bowman is Back inserts.
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The scan does these no justice.  They are glittery and atomic refractor-esque.  They are like the Diamond Anniversary parallels from a 2011.  I picked out 9 of the most interesting photos I could from the first page of the "lowest price" tab and voila!

The other page is from the Bowman Chrome Fire Die-Cut set. 
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I cannot express how much I like the concept behind this set.  I like die cuts.  I like shiny.  I am a bit of a pyromaniac, at least I was in my youth when I almost burned my house down once by making a camp fire in the basement (gimme a break, I was like 8).  I had not seen these in real life and it took me holding one to realize that they weren't just shiny and die cut, but the design itself was the base design, only melted.  I am usually not one for prospect cards, but damn, I love this set.  They are amazing.  Once again, I picked 9 off the first page and now I am sorry I didn't build the whole set.

Keeping with the theme, I nabbed some Mets from those two sets, which were the cards I had watched in the first place.  They were the Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto to be specific.  I also got the David Wright and Gary Carter BiB and Travis d'Arnaud of both sets. 
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The bottom cards here are three of the six I had in my original queue. They are from an early 80's oddball Cramer set of vintage players in sepia tones.  I chose players I don't have a lot of since the six I had were of the Hank Aaron/Willie Mays very-well represented type.  Brief aside: I have an obsession with pie along the lines of Agent Cooper in Twin Peaks so it stuns me that I don't have a whole Pie Traynor page or player collection.  That is a situation I might have to rectify

Here are the other orphans from the original six. 
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Nothing very surprising here.  A New Orleans Saint.  A Mike Piazza.  Another Michael Conforto card - and with the Mets quite literally scoring only 1 run a game for the last 2-3 weeks, I am bewildered as to why they haven't called him up, he's only hitting like .330.  So I got my free shipping and it only cost me like ten bucks.  My little buying binge left me with .42 cents credit left and while that is a very good number, I just couldn't leave that in there even though I had hit my magic number of 30.  So one last check of my watch list showed me that the most inexpensive card I had was that Topps 60 Keith Hernandez.  Price: 41 cents.  I love it when a plan comes together.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Nightmare Deferred.

       If there is something we can all agree upon, it's that Bobby Bonilla was an unmitigated disaster as a New York Met. Oh sure, his numbers weren't too bad, heck, they almost look decent in and of themselves.  Problem was, that was, quite literally, the worst team money could buy.  The real issue was Bobby Bo's attitude was, um, not good.  Yes, he was in over his head in New York.  And yes, they never should have put the burden of being the alpha dog on him when he was obviously a second fiddle.  And yes, that was certainly not the first, or last, time the Mets would make that mistake.  But when they finally traded him away in 1995 (for "5-tool" prospect Alex Ochoa - although none of those tools were baseball skills) it was a divorce of absolute relief.  A most wise mutual parting of a grand error in judgement on both parties.  The biggest problem of all is, this is not where our story ends.  In a move about as baffling as any in baseball history, the Mets inexplicably brought Bonilla back in 1999.  The Mets wanted Bonilla as a bat off the bench while Bonilla wanted to play every day.  This went as well as you could imagine and he sulked his way to a .160 average and an infamous card game.  The Mets were then ultra-desperate to unload Bonilla for a second time.  And because it's the Mets, they continued doing stupid things.  If you have been anywhere the last few July 1sts, you know exactly what I am talking about.  And yes, the whole thing is very embarrassing.  But here's the thing...
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This isn't the first deferred payment contract in baseball history, and heck, it isn't even the worst deferred contract in baseball history but somehow, it is the only ever mentioned deferred contract in baseball history.  Why?  Well, the fact that the Mets are an eternal punchline doesn't help; the media have just made Bobby Bo the personification of that.  When you are paying a hated 52-year old ex-player more than your two best players, it just makes for sexier headlines.  The thing that bothers me most is that this nonsense has leaked out of the grimier blogosphere and into the mainstream media.  I have had to hear about this shit all damn day.  So let's turn this around and mock some other contracts for a change.

When the Reds traded for Ken Griffey Jr. in 2000, they deferred a portion of his salary that is now being paid to him through 2024.
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At least the Mets have been to the World Series since 1990. 

Okay, if that's the measure, what about Manny Ramirez?  The Red Sox are currently paying him close to $2 million until 2026. 
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The Sox will be shelling out for those 2004 and 2007 seasons until Manny is 54. 

The Rockies played the those 2007 Red Sox in the World Series.  The first baseman for that team?  Todd Helton, who the Rox deferred a boatload of salary for in 2011 and will be paying him a cool million bucks a year until 2024.
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I'd just like the interest payment from that kind of money, I'm not greedy.

There are active players still getting deferred money.  Ichiro is grinding things out in Miami in his quest to get 3000 hits.  He is still a serviceable 4th outfielder, really. 
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Meanwhile, the Mariners are paying him, and will keep on paying him, deferred salary until 2032.  Mr. Suzuki will be 59 years old by then and much closer to collecting social security than giving his Hall of Fame speech.

How about dudes named Ryan?  Zimmerman will be rewarded deferred money big time a good 5 years after he retires.
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Ryan Zimmerman, much like David Wright, is a beloved hot corner star who has seen more of the injury rehab clinic than the batters box of late. 

If that is too cuddly, how about the opposite end of the Ryan spectrum, Ryan Braun. 
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Hell, Braun isn't even getting interest on his deferment, but he will get paid 7 figures until 2031.  I wonder how many specimen jars you can buy with that kind of scratch.

Quick...guess which one of the 8 teams who Gary Sheffield played for deferred a bunch of cash in his contract and will pay him $1.9 million until 2019, which is ten years after he retired?
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If you guessed the Detroit Tigers, come get your prize - a purposefully overthrown ball from third base.

Think desperate teams are the only ones that defer money as a quick fix?  Think again. 
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The Cardinals will be giving Matt Holliday a nice fat check from 2020 until 2029.

But what is the grandfather and Granddaddy of all foolish deferred payments?  That begins and ends with Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter.
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I am not sure how Sutter even got into Cooperstown, but perhaps he spread around some of Ted Turner's money to help him in his cause.  The Braves have paid Sutter $1.3 million a year since 1990 and will keep on paying him until 2020.  Sure, Sutter made the Hall of Fame, but he earned that status with the Cubs and the Cardinals.  The Braves have and will cough up $44 million over 36 years for 112 games pitched, 40 saves, and a 4.76 ERA.  Nice work if you can get it.  But somehow, the Mets are the ones that are held up as fools for the whole Bonilla thing. 

Not Shown: Steve Young, Kevin Garnett, Rick DiPietro, Bronson Arroyo, Mario Lemieux, and most of the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks.