Sunday, June 28, 2015

Let's Go Matz!

♫♪ Meet The Mets,
Steven Matz,
Step right up and get beat by Matz!
Bring your kiddies,
bring your wife;
Guaranteed to have the time of your life

Because Steve Matz is really sockin’ the ball;
Knocking in four runs with doubles to the wall!
East side,
West side,
everybody’s coming down
to meet the M-A-T-Z Matz of New York town! ♫♪♫♪

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Good Show, Robert.

       Last week, I came back from my mailbox with a mystery jiffy pack from Robert of $30 a Week Habit, one of my favorite blogs and most frequent trading partners.  I had sent him a small PWE in April, but nothing that could expect a girthy padded envelope.  Here is what awaited me inside:
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Shiny Saints! Shiny Saints everywhere.  And just to break up the chromium and die cut madness, a Martin Brodeur of recent vintage that I did not have.  He went a perfect 8 for 8 in cards I did not have and he certainly satiated my need for shiny football cards for the time being.

Seems Robert went a little crazy at a card show and shared his madness with me.  Thanks Robert!
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If you clicked on his link above, you will notice that he is currently on hiatus and the vague and sudden nature of that last post has me a little concerned.  I hope all is well in Habitland, Robert, and if it isn't that things get better soon.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Nacho Break.

       I did something last month I hadn't done in a long while, I took part in a group break.  The recent maestro of such activities, Nachos Grande, had one that was all product I didn't plan to buy by the box, so I saw a good opportunity to score some Mets cards and maybe luck out and nab an Amazin' hit.  $35 was my entry fee into this little lottery, so let's see how I made out. 

The first thing busted open was Opening Day
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There seemed to be a copious amount of Mets because if I didn't get the whole team, I came damn close.  So far so good. I also scored a couple of the shiny blue parallels. 
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The next box was Gypsy Queen.  I have never enjoyed busting packs of this stuff, but I kind of liked this years dark borders and not-so-overfancy design, so having the Mets cards was optimal.  Once again, the card gods shined a little light on me, and while they didn't see fit to grant me any of the major hits, I did get most of the team set and a couple inserts, including a mini Tom Seaver.
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Okay guys, gimme the leg-up pitcher pose!

After years of pedantic sameness, Bowman has an eye catching design this year, with half bleed pictures and a nifty way to tell prospect cards from regular cards (simply reverse the design).  I didn't get much in the way of unknown rookie players (I got the same guy twice) but at least I got my first Steven Matz and Kevin Plawecki cards. 
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Alas at this point, the card gods stopped smiling on me and scowled tremendously for the last three components of the break.  I got one card only from Topps Museum Collection, though it was Jacob deGrom, and just a single base card from the Diamond King box, but at least it was the right player - Gary Carter.  There was a bonus blaster involved as well and I did score a single Tom Seaver card from it.  Something is better than nothing, I suppose, but my dreams of a low number white whale hit were dashed with extreme prejudice.  Oh well, such is the nature of the beast. 

Nacho took a little pity on me and was nice enough to include some bonus Mets cards. 
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I didn't have one of those Dwight Gooden rookie all star cards for his player collection, so that was a very nice bonus indeed.
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And while I am sure I have multiple copies of all these cards, I never get tired of 1987 Topps cards.  I am in a very small minority in that feeling, I know. 

Nacho also packaged this cards impeccably and included a nice note.  I always appreciate such courtesies.
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Oh, and there was one last little surprise, a pack of 2012 Triple Play.  I really enjoyed that initial Triple Play offering from Panini, so I tore into that pack with gusto.
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Those cartoon caricatures are great and I scored a David Wright sticker.  Sweet.

I'd like to thank Nacho for doing this break and since you do so many, I am sure it won't be my last.  You should go check out his page and keep an eye out for one you'll like.  He obviously likes to make sure everyone gets an autographed card, so he included his own:
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"This is not a Topps product" the back gloriously trumpets and you're right, it's a whole lot better.  I now own four or five personalized cards of bloggers as well as a few custom cards.  These never cease to tickle me, hell, I should make a page of them.

Monday, June 22, 2015


       On September 11, 1985, as an overexcited 10-year old baseball-obsessed boy, I cheered when I saw on Sportscenter that venerable old man Pete Rose had broken Ty Cobb's "unbreakable" record of 4,191 hits.  Rose's legendary career had hit its crescendo, over two decades of myth-making and Charlie Hustling led to that night in Cincinnati.  For what it's worth, if Pete Rose had been run over by the team bus leaving the stadium that night, it would have been for the best.  We all would have been spared a lot of depressing revelations about Pete.
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I'm not gonna lie, like anyone who started collecting cards in the mid-1980's, Pete Rose was one of the Holy Grails.  Getting his cards in packs was always welcome.  Seeing his older cards at shows and in magazines (and even on those 1986 tributes above) was a treat.  Hell, his 1963 Topps rookie card was one of the first cards to be widely counterfeited and it was a big deal back in the day.  Not the '54 Aaron or even the '52 Mantle, the '63 Rose.  You can still find ones stamped "counterfeit" at a big show if you look (or ask since they are technically illegal to own).  Heck, a lot of the cards you'll see here are from my original collection from 30 years ago.
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The real problem with Pete Rose is that he didn't get run over by that team bus on 9/11/85 and the real man we all know him now to be emerged over the next few years.  The gambling addict.  The compulsive liar.  The con artist.  The hustler.
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The tragedy of Pete Rose has been raked over more than anyone's except maybe OJ Simpson.  The accusations.  The lifetime ban.  The death of Bart Giamatti.  The indifference of Bud Selig.  The confession (which was sadly just a ploy to sell books and not to actually cleanse his soul of anything).  His current appeal to be reinstated by the All Star Game in Cincy this year.  And now, the new revelations that he not only bet on baseball as a manager, but that he also bet on it as a player, something he has vehemently denied forever. 
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I have long held the opinion that Pete Rose got more out of his ability than any athlete ever.  Even when he came up as a rookie, you would never have though of himself as a 'physical specimen' like Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays was.  He was awkward and stocky, but the man had drive.  He willed himself like no other baseball player to be great.  He gave the cliche 110% every single day.  And he was loved for it.  And he loved that he was loved.  It was a goddamn love in all around when it came to Pete Rose.  If only that had been enough for him, we wouldn't have the mess we've had for the last 25+ years. 
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I have long given up on Pete Rose as a human being (even if I still respect him as a player).  His default setting is to lie and he only tells the truth when it suits him.  The new nonsense is the just the cherry on top of the shit sundae that is his post playing career.  He was in a much more advantageous position to affect games when he was a manager anyway, so betting on them as a player just shows that he has always had the insatiable need for 'action' and the pathological need to lie about it.  All the new stuff does is force Rob Manfred to deny his application for reinstatement.  It is shame on top of shame on top of shame on top of shame...
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In the end, all of this has not changed the opinion I have held about Pete Rose the player for a long time.  His lifetime ban should remain.  He belongs in the Hall of Fame as a player, sure, but not while he is living.  All he would do if he made the Hall is spin it into another cheap money grab.  Heck, he slums around Cooperstown now to cash in for sympathy, imagine what he would do as a member.  All of this is more than just another "it's not the crime, it's the cover-up" example because here, the crime is the point.  Betting on baseball is the ultimate no-no; more than all the steroids, collusion, bat-corking, ball-scuffing, and sign-stealing combined.  Even if baseball somehow relents and decides to make him eligible for reinstatement, he should never be involved directly with baseball games again - not as a coach, not as a manager, not as a hot dog vender.  As for the Hall, whenever he does make it, the last sentence of his plaque should read "Banned from baseball for life for betting on games."  A sad epitaph indeed.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Credit to the Name.

       Earlier this week, Max Scherzer threw one of the most efficient and unbelievable games in major league history.  No, seriously.  He gave up a single hit in the seventh inning and struck out 16 while walking only one.  That works out to an even 100 game score.  There have only been 12 9-inning games with a triple digit game score.  Earlier this evening, Max turned around and did himself one better, but somehow, in a worse way.
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Scherzer retired the first 26 Pirates that he faced and then while throwing to number 27, the batter kinda leaned into an inside pitch and went on his merry way to first base (and thank goodness Jose Tabata didn't pull a Reggie Sanders).  Perfect game gone, but by retiring the next batter, Max got his no hitter.  I have been trying hard to come up with a nickname for this painful occurrence.  The Plunkic Game?  The Beano-Hitter?  Honestly, none of them roll off the tongue.  What Scherzer did has only been done one other time in baseball history - only the immortal Hooks Wiltse set down 26 in a row only to bean the 27th then finish off the game as a no-hitter.  Perhaps what Scherzer did was Pull a Wiltse?  What Scherzer really did is come as close as anyone not named R.A. Dickey to matching Johnny Vander Meer's famous feat.
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Because of his very tasteful first name, I have collected Max Scherzer cards since he came up in 2008.  I am thrilled he got his no-hitter, even though the win knocks my very inconsistent Mets out of first place (for now).  I will continue to root for him, as long as he counts for the only Nationals win out of every 5 games.  The Mets might come out on top if the Nats can play .200 ball the rest of the way.  

Friday, June 19, 2015

3000 Little Asterisks.

       I have popped in from my long blogging sabbatical to observe Alex Rodriguez's 3000th hit.  The title of this post is a bit of a lark since only the hysterical fundamentalist baseball doofuses want to slap asterisks on things.  See, I like to place Alex Rodriguez in the same category I put Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.  No, not steroid users, but truly terrible human beings that have been properly hated since day one of their careers.  If you are a wise baseball fan, you should have seen through A-Rod's act since the moment he got called up and given him the infinite scorn he deserves. 
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Oh sure, you can respect him somewhat as a player in and of itself.  It is hard to look at his 1996 season and not regard him in some awe.  How Juan Gonzalez got voted the MVP that year and not A-Rod is one of the true mysteries of a process that goes out of its way to mystify.
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A-Rod has always struck me as the kind of guy who is so extremely talented and yet so bitterly insecure about it all that he has to shout "look at me! look at me!" in such an awkward manner as to make you get a concussion rolling your eyes at him.  He could have been the Jordan of baseball if he had just let his play speak for itself, instead, well, yeah that stuff happened. Over and over again.  I never looked at his steroid use as anything sinister, merely as just another attempt to stab at his own self-doubting demons and placate his own eternally deflated ego.  His other crimes against humanity are the rare double money-grab, the Texas force-your-way-out-of-town dance, the disrespecting of both the Red Sox and Mets in all that professional catastrophe, eventually getting traded to the Yankees, and then when everything went inevitably wrong generally never owning up to anything.
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So what can you make of A-Rod now?  Well, if he is really playing clean, here at (nearly) age 40, then it becomes blatantly apparent that he probably didn't need PEDs at all.  And that is such a fitting epitaph for a player who has put up such mesmerizing numbers yet been such a horrorshow of a human being.  A-Rod doesn't have a fan base to call his own, no style to call his own, and no legacy to speak of.  The worst part of all that is, he did all of this to himself.  And hell, in the end he wanted to be like Jeter so bad, he even had to slug a homer for this 3000th hit.  If he didn't fall asleep on a bed of half a billion dollars every night, you could almost feel sorry for him.