Sunday, August 16, 2009

14 Cards of the American League's MVP? A Carl Crawford Post-Brought to Me By Carl Crawford Cards...

The race for the MVP of the National League is pretty much a lock. I’m sure that Prince Fielder, Hanley Ramirez and Raul Ibanez will get some votes, but they will all be 2nd and 3rd place votes. Albert Pujols may win it unanimously. The American League MVP race is a little more open. A few months ago, I would have handed the award to Torii Hunter, the Gold Glove, and slugging center-fielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Now, it is looking more like Minnesota’s catcher Joe Mauer (.370 BA), his teammate Justin Morneau (28 HR/91 RBI), Angels first baseman Kendry Morales (25 HR), Seattle’s right fielder, Ichiro (.359 BA), Tampa Bay shortstop Jason Bartlett (.343 BA) and Toronto’s second baseman-Aaron Hill (27HR/78 RBI) are among the leading candidates. Along with those six players, the obvious choice in my book (er, blog) is the Tampa Bay Rays leftfielder, Carl Crawford. CC is having a breakout year. He’s batting .318 (7th in AL), he has been pacing the Majors in steals all year with 53, he has scored 73 times (9th in league) and is second in the AL with 7 triples (so far). He was selected for his 3rd All Star game this year and took home MVP honors for that game. He has been stellar in left field all year for the Rays, with his glove and his arm. He has just 3 errors in 251 total chances with 5 outfield assists. Most importantly, he’s been the most consistent player in the Rays lineup in their battle to reach the playoffs any way they can. He has remained healthy all year long, setting the table for Longoria, Zobrist, Pena or anyone who wants to drive him home. He gets a hit every third to the plate (he was 4 for 4 last night) and he guarantees a steady diet of fastballs for the power guys batting behind him. He changes his opponent’s game plans, demands the pitchers attention, frustrates the catcher and generally steals the base anyway; unless Longoria smacks a fastball into the seats before he has the chance. His aggressiveness on the base paths is contagious, with his teammates BJ Upton and Jason Bartlett following him in the top-6 base stealers in the AL. CC is second in the league with 7 triples, with Bartlett and Zobrist tied for 3rd behind him with 6 each. He is a leader by example and he is a winner AND he has the numbers to back it all up. Unless the sportswriters voting for the league MVP are looking SOLELY at power numbers (CC has 12 HR/55 RBI) he will be getting a healthy amount of votes this year. If blogger worship counts for anything (and it should!), he would have the edge there, too. My buddy Paul named his very awesome blog after my leading MVP candidate calling it Carl Crawford Cards and showing a Turkey Red card of CC stealing 2nd in the masthead. The two of us are not alone either in our quest for cardboard treasures of the fleet-footed outfielder. I don’t know how many trades I have tried to negotiate that begin with the other person saying “Well, I have a ton of Rays, but I collect Crawford myself.” Or “I can send you some Pena’s and Longoria’s, but so and so already got me for all of my Crawfords”. My local card shop, Ryan’s Sports Cards (941-727-3000) in Bradenton, Florida, can’t keep CC cards in stock. No one locally is selling any, and if he rips a pack and pulls one there are people waiting to buy it. He is pretty much forced to buy what he can on eBay, and then have the cards sell in the Shop on the same day. I should also note that he can’t keep any Bartlett or Zobrist cards on the shelf for more than an hour either, but those two have far less cards available. Meanwhile, his display cases are filled with stacks of current Rays like Longoria, David Price, Carlos Pena and BJ Upton as well as current stars across the league like Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Derek Jeter, A-Rod, Prince Fielder and Tim Lincecum. No other player moves like Crawford-on the base paths or out of the card shop. Anyway, switching gears back to Paul’s (always amazingly awesome) blog-Carl Crawford Cards. Incidentally, it isn’t a Rays or Carl Crawford fan site, even though he is a fan of both (as I am, too). Paul writes often about vintage cards (he collects T-205s and turn-of-the-century tobacco cards) as well as names from baseball’s past-he has recently written about Chief Bender and former Detroit Tigers Ace, Virgil “Fire” Trucks. The CCC blog currently has a contest going on, focused on giving away a vintage card signed by Mr. Trucks, who pitched two no-hitters in a single season and owns a career 177-135 record with 1,534 strikeouts. Mr. Trucks is currently 92 years old. Paul did a Q and A session with him, as well as a history lesson to go along with the contest giveaway. There is no purchase necessary, so check it out! Anyway, when I joined the BLOG party 3 months ago, I was worried that Paul and I would become bitter rivals in our mutual quest for CC cards. I had even officially switched my collecting target from CC to Jason Bartlett, but that hasn’t worked out too well for me. I love me some JB cards, don’t get me wrong, but 3 months of trading (begging for Bartlett cards) has yielded me exactly 4 different Bartlett cards (thanks to Greg, the Night Owl for the latest one!). I am still pursuing Bartlett, but fortunately the blogosphere holds enough CC cards for both Paul and I to collect them up. In fact, the idea of he and I being rivals couldn’t be further from the truth. We compliment each other’s latest card acquisitions and happily share the blog readers and traders markets. I can remember reading on his blog last month that he owned 230 different Crawford cards. At that time, I had 63 in my own collection. He had a list typed up of all the cards he had and I printed it out to use as a checklist and a goal. When I first started this blog (about 3 months ago) my Rays collection stood at about 50 cards, I owned 9 different CC cards; one of them had a jersey swatch. Today, the collection totals 103 different card including 14 jerseys, 1 autograph and 1 patch (I love that card!) and now (thanks to Paul) one bat card. It is fitting that my collection passed the century mark after receiving a package from Paul of 14 different (and all new to me) CC cards. One of them, a 2008 Allen and Ginter (#AGR-CC2) has a sliver of CC’s dangerous bat imbedded into it. Like I said before, this is my very FIRST Carl Crawford bat card and it comes courtesy of my very “bitter rival” in the card-collecting game, Paul from the CCC blog. The other 13 cards that he sent my way were all duplicates to him, but were all new to me. I have placed the scans randomly throughout this post, but the years and makers of these are as follows:
1999 Bowman, card #440 (His ROOKIE!!!)
2000 Bowman, card #199
2002 Bowman Draft Pick, card #BDP139
2002 Upper Deck Star Rookie, card #30
2004 Donruss Throwback Threads, card #183
2005 SP Authentic, card #18
2005 Donruss Diamond King, card #221 (AWESOME!)
2005 Topps Chrome, card #42 (catch at the wall)
2005 Topps Heritage, card #32
2006 Upper Deck Artifacts, card #87
2006 Upper Deck Ovation Embossed, card #25
2006 Bowman Heritage, card #43
2006 UD SPx, card #89
2008 Allen & Ginter Bat Relic, card #AGR CC2
A huge thank you goes out to Paul for helping to push my collection up over the century mark and onto the next level. Don’t forget to check out his contest for the Virgil “Fire” Trucks signed card. You’ll also get a history lesson on who Trucks is and what he accomplished over his career. You can also find the mailing address for “Fire” on the CCC blog so you can send him a letter yourself. Mr. Trucks also has autographed copies of his autobiography available via mail order, you can learn how to order your own copy-I did.
Anyway, that about sums it up. I think we have proven that two different collectors of the same player can in fact peacefully coexist in the same blogosphere. Don’t forget to check out the always awesome Carl Crawford Cards blog, tell him that the Troll sent you! Also, be sure to enter his contest while you are there. Carl Crawford for American League MVP!!! Go Rays!!! Keep on trading!!! Troll out.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you like the Crawfords, and thanks for the shout out!

    Go Rays!!