Difficult decisions

Leave it to Night Owl to inspire me to blog for the first time in over a month. This started as a comment on this post, and I realized that it was probably long enough to warrant an actual post here.

do I need these cards

The patheticness of the Reds this year (and the last couple of years, really) has caused my interest in baseball to wane A LOT. I don’t plan on getting rid of my Reds cards, but do I really need so many cards of Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Roberto Alomar, etc.? Great players, yes, but from the era of overproduction, so they’ll never be “worth” anything, I don’t ever look at them. I’ve got a 5,000 card box that is begging me to let it go.

Bo

Reggie

There are some non-Reds that I would keep, and would probably put in binders so I could enjoy, if I ever decluttered. Bo Jackson will always be one of my favorite players. And Reggie Jackson. Kurt Stillwell already has his own binder, so why not Reggie and Bo?

Kurt

These are hard decisions to make, though. I’ve had some of these cards for 20-30 years. I already sent off the majority of my commons, and haven’t really missed them at all. Is it really time to just package the up the superstars and Hall of Famers and send them away? Will I ever think, “Oh, I wish I still had that 1993 Donruss Craig Biggio card still”? I doubt it. But I’m not quite ready to pull that trigger. I’m getting close, but I’m just not there yet. Besides, I don’t know anyone who collects Biggio or the Astros.

Biggio

I’m planning to spend some time with my collection on Monday and Tuesday. Perhaps I will start making some decisions then. Maybe I will split my remaining Dodgers between Night Owl and GCRL, or my White Sox between White Sox Cards and 2×3 Heroes.

Fun Cards Submissions: Topps Now Pete Rose

Rose

A lot of people made a big deal of Ichiro Suzuki “passing” Pete Rose with his 4257nd hit earlier this month. They combined Ichiro’s professional Japanese League numbers with his big league totals, but ignored the fact that Rose had another 427 hits in the minor leagues, which is also professional. The Lifetime Topps Project did an interesting breakdown of players with more than 4000 professional hits, including not only regular season play in the majors and minors, but also postseason and All-Star appearances. One name stood out more than Rose, Ichiro, Ty Cobb, and Derek Jeter to me: Jigger Statz. Sounds like a guy that The Infinite Baseball Card Set should profile.

I am not denying that Ichiro’s accomplishment is a big deal. It is! But he is not the professional hit king. Pete Rose is, and probably always will be. Unless Ichiro sticks around for a few more years, which I highly doubt, he will not pass Rose’s professional regular-season mark of 4683.

Rose

TWJ contributor Patrick sent over a couple of great “fun cards” to remind us all that Pete Rose is still the Hit King, and with the Reds Hall of Fame induction happening this weekend, there is no more appropriate time to post them here. I see Ron Robinson, Tony Perez, Dave Parker, and Max Venable in that shot. Can you identify anyone else?

Ichiro’s achievement was commemorated by The Shlabotnik Report recently.

Characters from the Diamond: Wild Events, Crazy Antics, and Unique Tales from Early Baseball by Ronald T. Waldo (2016)

[Review by TWJ contributor Jim.]

Characters from the Diamond

Characters from the Diamond
by Ronald T. Waldo
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2016
278 pages

Baseball, at its root, is a game, it’s meant to be enjoyed and to have fun. It’s hard to remember that as the great game of baseball has turned into a business that turns many fans away. Wouldn’t it be nice to sit back and be reminded about how much fun the game of baseball can be? Fun yet played at the highest level?

In Characters from the Diamond: Wild Events, Crazy Antics, and Unique Tales from Early Baseball, you will be reminded of how much fun this game can be. Focusing on the late 19th century and early 20th century, author Ronald T. Waldo does a great job of telling funny stories about those that made the game so great. From players’ high jinx on the field, to fiery managers and hot headed umpires, you will be captivated by stories that will make you laugh and show you how the pioneers of baseball had fun playing the game.

Learn more about Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Purchase Characters from the Diamond: Wild Events, Crazy Antics, and Unique Tales from Early Baseball by Ronald T. Waldo.

R.I.P. Nick Menza

(July 23, 1964 – May 21, 2016)

Former Megadeth drummer who played on some the band’s biggest albums, including 1992’s Countdown to Extinction, Nick Menza passed away Saturday night after suffering from heart failure while performing a concert with OHM.

Baseball cards from Orlando

packs

I have been sitting on this post for absolutely no reason other than laziness. I bought a handful of fifty-cent packs when I was in Orlando at the beginning of the month, and scanned a handful of them, even uploaded the scans, but just haven’t been motivated to post them. I have nothing else planned for today, so let’s see what I got…

Davis

First up is Eric Davis from the 1987 Fleer Star Stickers set. These cards are very similar to the 1986 set, but with a green border instead of maroon. Either way, the border clashes with the red jersey.

Mattingly

The 1988 Fleer Star Stickers went with a gray border sprinkled with colorful stars. This Don Mattingly is the best card I pulled from that pack.

Davis mini

Franco mini

Back to 1987, and a pair of Reds in a pack: the best centerfielder and the best relief pitcher of the second half of the decade. John Franco is criminally underrated.

Benzinger

Benzinger

Clark

Clark

I bought a couple of packs of 1990 Donruss. Don’t look at me like that. I did not have any Grand Slammers cards, and I wanted a couple. I pulled the Todd Benzinger from one pack, and Will Clark from another. If I had found another pack with Bo Jackson on top, I would have bought that one too.

Big Hurt

I did not know the 1992 Fleer “The Performer” cards came in packs of their own. I assumed they were inserts. In a five-card pack, I pulled Nolan Ryan and Frank Thomas. And probably some ‘roiders, I can’t remember now.

Griffey All-Star

Henke

Art cards will always be my weakness. I’m not sure why I picked up a pack of 1992 Score, but I was happy to pull these bad boys.

Ryan

Henderson

Also from the same 1992 Score pack.

Thome

There it is. I knew there had to be something cool showing on the top of a 1992 Score pack for me to buy it, even at only fifty cents. Jim Thome is the man.

Dennys

Kirby Puckett from 1996 Pinnacle Denny’s. Not sure why I bought this one-card pack. Oh well, at least it’s a Hall of Famer.

Double Headers

Double Header

I have always wanted some Double Headers, but have never seen them in person. Vince Coleman is from 1990, while Wade Boggs and Andre Dawson are from 1989.

Brett

candy

Think this candy is still good from 1991?

buttons

Finally, a couple of 1990 Baseball Buttons. I already have several of these, so I probably shouldn’t have bought them, but it was only fifty cents.

Topps Now ignored the biggest opportunity of the season

Jake Arrieta‘s no-hitter was awesome. Max Scherzer‘s 20-strikeout performance was epic. But neither of those events approached the magnitude of “The Punch.” After a supposedly “dirty slide,” Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor clocked Toronto superstar Jose Bautista and Twitter absolutely EXPLODED. Everyone was talking about “The Punch,” putting both a positive and negative spin on it. Even non-baseball fans were engaging in the discussion. IT WAS GREAT.

The record for most Topps Now cards sold so far is 8,826, featuring 42-year old Bartolo Colon hitting his first big league homer. No other card has reached a print run 4,000. Only two others have sold more than 2,000 (Max Scherzer and Noah Syndergaard). I am confident that “The Punch” would have exceeded 10,000 orders. It was an exciting play, and whether you like Odor or Bautista or not, it generated baseball discussion and interest in the sport.

To me, it was a throwback. It immediately made me think of the Eric Davis/Ray Knight scuffle in 1986. Others made reference to the Will Clark/Jose Oquendo/Ozzie Smith fight in 1988. Perhaps the most famous fight between a fielder and runner happened in 1973 when Pete Rose and Bud Harrelson went at it during the 1973 NLCS. And who can forget the time Nolan Ryan hit Robin Ventura with the ball, and then put him in a headlock and went to town when Ventura charged the mound? Twitter wasn’t around during any of those fights, but they persist in our memories. Topps Now didn’t exist back then either, and to my knowledge Topps never created a card to immortalize these fights. But today, with on-demand ordering, the opportunity was there…and Topps did nothing.

Has there ever been a fight depicted on a Topps card? Topps employee Sooz (@yanxchick) asked this question on Twitter, and so far no one has come up with an actual baseball card showing a fight. There was a hockey card in the 1970s, and several fan-made creations, but nothing official from Topps baseball.

I don’t blame Topps. They want to promote a good image for baseball, and bench-clearing brawls don’t exactly do that. But they are exciting. And where Topps is silent, bloggers and Tweeters are loud and sometimes obnoxious. Here are a few of the Odor v. Bautista cards that I saw floating around yesterday:

Of course, the 2016 TWJ set doesn’t shy away from violence on the basepaths either. One of my favorite GameCube games is MLB SlugFest 2003, so of course I wanted to include a card of “The Punch” in the TWJ set. You can see a slightly larger version at TWJ cards on tumblr, along with more than 80 other 2016 TWJ baseball cards.

R.I.P. Sammy Ellis

(February 11, 1941 – May 13, 2016)

Ellis 1966

Cincinnati Reds pitcher and 1965 All-Star, Sammy Ellis passed away on Friday in Florida. Ellis pitched for the Reds (1962-1967), California Angels (1968), and Chicago White Sox (1969), and served as pitching coach for the Yankees (1982–84; 1986), White Sox (1989–91), Cubs (1992), Mariners (1993–94), Red Sox (1996), and Orioles (2000). He was inducted into the Mississippi State University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.

Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family by Bret Book and Kevin Cook (2016)

Home Game

Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family
by Bret Book and Kevin Cook
Crown Archetype, 2016
272 pages

Being the son of a major leaguer must be daunting, with athletic expectations high. Being a third-generation ballplayer, especially when no one ever followed both their father and grandfather into the professional ranks before, the pressure had to be immense. But not for Bret Boone, who was not satisfied to have a famous last name. He wanted to prove that he belonged, and not just a feel-good story for the media.

In Home Game, Boone admits that he regrets the way he approached his big league debut. He should have given more credit to his grandfather, Ray Boone, and father, Bob Boone, both who had solid careers. Ray led the league in RBI and was an All-Star; Bob showed him up by becoming one of the greatest defensive catchers in the game and making multiple All-Star Games. Bret carried on the tradition of family excellence, leading the league in RBI like his grandfather and becoming a stalwart defensive second baseman and All-Star in his own right. And he was not alone; he was joined by his brother Aaron Boone at the top level of professional baseball.

Boone honors his heritage, showing respect to his late grandfather and his father, relating a handful of stories that were passed down to him. He tells about growing up in the Phillies clubhouse, getting batting tips from Mike Schmidt, and later, when his dad was with the Angels, playing catch with Reggie Jackson. He discusses his disappointment in being drafted so low out of high school, and in not being drafted until the fifth round after a few years at USC. He recalls his time in the minor leagues and his struggle to get to Seattle, where he butted heads with Lou Piniella at first. He also tells of the hazing he endured from Jay Buhner, and the friendship that developed as he handled it in stride.

Boone mentions the allegations made by Jose Canseco, denying that he ever took steroids and stating emphatically that their supposed conversation at second base never happened. In his denial, Boone does admit to using greenies, but says of those who claim ignorance when steroids are found in their system, “It’s your job to know what’s in your body. It’s your job to stay clean and test clean.”

There is some foul language throughout—not as much as some autobiographies contain, but it is present. Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family is a good behind-the-scenes look at the game, covering three generations of All-Star baseball. Aside from the Boones, there is mention of Ted Williams, Pete Rose, Warren Spahn, Steve Carlton, Ken Griffey, and Barry Larkin, among others. It may be some time before we see another three-generational All-Star family, and this peek inside the family tradition of the Boones is well worth the read.

Learn more about Crown Archetype.

Purchase Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family by Bret Book and Kevin Cook.

2016 Reds, 1983 Style: Joey Votto

1983 Topps Votto

This has been an excruciating season for Reds fans so far. The bullpen is horrendous. Young starters are pitching well, but not long enough, and the ball is being handed over to guys that can’t keep the opponents from scoring. It’s a wonder they can even dress themselves.

The offense was supposed to be the bright spot this season, anchored by veteran Joey Votto at first base. But Votto has had a slow start, batting only .234 in the first 34 games with five longballs and 20 ribbies. For the sabergeeks, Joey’s WAR is an atrocious -0.1. Yes, negative 0.1. Hopefully he can turn things around soon and start hitting like he did during the second half last year. If the bullpen has a ten-run lead, surely they won’t blow it, right?

I’ve gotten a very late start to the Reds “fun cards” this year. I debated long and hard on the design to use, finally settling on the 1983 Topps style. This is a classic look, an update of sorts of the 1963 design, and just an overall good look. I hope you enjoy the cards, even if you have trouble enjoying the games this season.

Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Rick Wakeman unite/reunite to form Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman (ARW)

Yes ARW

Long-time YES fans, rejoice! Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Rick Wakeman are proud to announce that after a hiatus of 25 years, they are to reform the definitive YES line-up as Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman (ARW).

Since they last played together in 1990 on the highly successful YES ‘Union Tour’, there have been various hybrid versions of the band. However, none featured the iconic voice of Jon Anderson, the outstanding guitar talent of Trevor Rabin, and the keyboard wizardry of Rick Wakeman. The aim of the band will be to restore the standard of excellence in performance that they established with their 1990 shows, which saw YES members past and present come together for the first (and only) time of the legendary band’s career.

“To be able to sing and perform with Rick and Trevor at this time in my life is a treasure beyond words,” explains Jon. “I’m so excited to create new music and revisit some of the classic work we created many years ago, it’s going to be a musical adventure on so many new levels.”

“Trevor and I have wanted to play Yes music together since the Union Tour,” adds Rick. “And as for so many of us, there is no Yes music without Jon. The ‘Holy Trinity of Yes’ is for me, very much a dream come true.”

The most successful prog rock group of all time, YES was founded by Jon Anderson in 1968 and went on to sell millions of units with releases such as Fragile, Close to The Edge, Tales From Topographic Oceans, Going For The One and 90125, as well as embarking on several record-breaking world tours.

While Rick is associated with the ’70s “prog era” of the band (which saw YES become a worldwide stadium headliner) and Trevor associated with the ’80s “pop era” of the band (which furthered the band’s popularity, including the band’s biggest chart success), Jon is the bridge between both factions (as he was a member of both eras).

Not content to rest on past glory, Jon, Trevor and Rick are working on new songs, which are currently being recorded. The band will make its live debut in North America in October/November, followed by the Rest of the World in 2017.

The worldwide ARW Tour is being produced by legendary concert promoter Larry Magid, who is considered an architect and leader of the modern concert business. With over 16,000 concerts to his credit and still counting, he has produced national and international tours for Yes, Richard Pryor, Bette Midler, Stevie Wonder, Robin Williams, Kristin Chenoweth, Earth Wind & Fire, Il Divo, The Allman Brothers Band, Patti LaBelle, Grover Washington Jr. and many others. In 1985 Larry Magid co-produced the American portion of Live Aid and in 2005 he was the producer of Live 8.

The following are confirmed dates, and on-sales for each market will be announced soon. Additional dates may be added:

Tue/Oct-04 Orlando, FL Hard Rock Live
Thu/Oct-06 Hollywood, FL Seminole Hard Rock Casino
Fri/Oct-07 Clearwater, FL Ruth Eckerd Hall
Sun/Oct-09 Durham, NC Durham Performing Arts Ctr
Mon/Oct-10 Atlanta, GA Fox Theatre
Sat/Oct-15 Glenside, PA Keswick Theatre
Sun/Oct-16 Glenside, PA Keswick Theatre
Wed/Oct-19 Boston, MA Wang Theatre
Fri/Oct-21 Wallingford, CT Toyota Oakdale Theatre
Sat/Oct-22 Huntington, NY The Paramount
Mon/Oct-24 Montclair, NJ Wellmont Theater
Wed/Oct-26 Red Bank, NJ Count Basie Theatre
Fri/Oct-28 Atlantic City, NJ Borgata Event Center
Sat/Oct-29 Akron, OH Goodyear Theater at East End
Tue/Nov-01 New York, NY Beacon Theatre
Wed/Nov-02 Pittsburgh, PA Heinz Hall
Fri/Nov-04 New Buffalo, MI Four Winds Casino
Sat/Nov-05 Chicago, IL Chicago Theatre
Mon/Nov-07 Nashville, TN Schermerhorn Symphony Ctr
Wed/Nov-09 St Louis, MO Fox Theatre
Fri/Nov-11 New Orleans, LA Saenger Theatre
Sat/Nov-12 San Antonio, TX Majestic Theatre
Mon/Nov-14 Austin, TX ACL at the Moody Theater
Wed/Nov-16 Denver, CO Paramount Theatre
Thu/Nov-17 Salt Lake City, UT Capitol Theater
Sat/Nov-19 Las Vegas, NV The Pearl
Sun/Nov-20 Phoenix, AZ Celebrity Theatre
Tue/Nov-22 Los Angeles, CA Orpheum
Fri/Nov-25 San Francisco, CA Masonic

FOR TOUR, TICKETS AND VIP INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT:
www.ARW-tour.com

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