The Blog-o-Sphere has spoken and we have a winner-a winning card and a contest winner alike! Both are named at the bottom of this VERY long post, but I have things to get caught up on and get off of my chest before I get into that, so bear with me please... First off I want to thank all of you for responded to the last post, that made me feel good and I really appreciate everyone’s input. It makes me feel bad that I was only able to choose one winner because all of you are really awesome! Before I get into that, I wanted to touch on the Rays moves this winter. After the Aki trade I stopped writing about the Rays-they confuse me as a fan, but I still am a fan and I intend on being at the home opener this year and every game that I can afford after. I am still officially a die hard Rays fan. That said I should touch on some of their moves. They signed Kelly Shoppach. Not really what I was hoping for, but then again Joe Mauer wasn’t on the market. Shoppach can hit and is an above average defensive catcher. There is no guarantee that KS will make the team, but I am glad that they have someone in camp to hopefully light a fire under Navi. Since they signed KS the Rays made no effort to re-sign Zaun and he is now a Brewer (I think). I didn’t like Zaun in the Rays lineup last year, but the way he handles a pitching staff is AMAZING. I was really hoping he would stay with the Rays (as a backup) until retirement and then hang on as a pitching coach. I think GZ will make a fantastic pitching coach in the future. Now onto other deals… The first deal the Rays made was trading Aki (to dump his payroll) for Jesse Chavez (who was going to sure up the ‘pen). Now the Rays have dealt Chavez to the Braves for Rafael Soriano (who makes much more than Aki did). I’m confused. Don’t get me wrong, I am not upset that Soriano is a Ray. The dude is a flame thrower and a legit closer. Nothing is as exciting as having a guy in the bullpen that can hit triple digits and get the ball over the plate in the late innings. If they use JP Howell (around 80 MPH) to set him up, his 98 MPH fastball will look like 105. For this year (2010) I think that the Braves are in a better situation with the more experienced Billy Wagner, but having Soriano in St. Pete is exciting. What confuses me is I thought the Rays were trying to dump payroll, not pick it up. RS will make six and a half million this year. That isn’t completely out of line for a guy who struck out 102 batters in 75 innings-he is an exciting player to watch. He may put more fans in the seats and fans that show up might stay for the whole game with a legit and exciting closer in wait. It just isn’t congruent with their idea of value over quality. If money isn’t an object than why were Kazmir, Jackson, Akinori and Hammel dealt?
I do like the move however. What do all you Braves fans think? I think I am glad that the Rays got through the winter meetings without dealing Crawford, Bartlett or Zobrist. Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann and David Price are all still on the roster along with James Shields, Matt Garza, Jeremy Hellicksen and Andy Sonnanstine. The Rays will have a decent battle for the starting rotation this spring, a good battle for the starting second baseman job, the right field spot and hopefully the role of designated hitter. I would be thrilled if they were able to move Pat Burrell, but I don’t want to see them have to dump a key player or prospect to do so. Baltimore may be the only team dumb enough to take (and afford) him and I really like the Orioles. Seems like the Yankees could afford him though-maybe trade him straight up for Eric Hinske? Anyway, I am glad to have a closer-Soriano wasn’t on my radar or wish list, but I think he has a good arm in the few games I saw him pitch (on TV) and I am pleased with his acquisition. If they can stumble through the remainder of the offseason, not trade any of their nucleus and perhaps find a sucker, I mean taker, for Pat Burrell, I would be elated.
Okay, now onto the contest… The race was tight for Most Iconic Rookie Card of the 1980’s. I voted and my vote didn’t factor in the winning card so I counted it. That gave us a total of 29 votes. One of you (dayf) cast your vote for all sports (and non-sports) rookies that was cool. That gave one mention to Michael Jordan’s Fleer rookie card which I think we would all agree is the most iconic basketball card ever and I think we would all like to own one, too. I have held one before-I can distinctly remember looking at one that was priced at 50 dollars many years ago. I would have jumped at it, but I was about 48 dollars short and my Mom didn’t want to advance my next years allowance to me, so I didn’t get it. I did purchase a Star Company rookie of MJ’s and sold it for a profit and then invested all of that money into an ’84 Topps Traded Dwight Gooden card. I wasn’t meant to make money at this hobby-ever. Dayf also mentioned Jerry Rice’s 1986 Topps card as the most iconic football rookie. This is not the blog to host that discussion, but I encourage another blog to pick that one up because it could be an exciting topic to argue. I would vote for the ’89 Score Barry Sanders (which I also invested a lot of money in). Like I said, card collecting isn’t and should never have been an investment for me. He chose the 1980 Wayne Gretzky in the hockey department. Captain Canuck was the first to nominate Gretzky, so he ended with 2 votes. That is pretty impressive for a hockey card to get multiple mentions in a baseball card contest. I guess that is why they call him the great one. The last card that dayf picked was Adam Bomb from Garbage Pail Kids series one. I didn’t get on the GPK bandwagon until series 2 and I was always partial to Mark Bark, but I wouldn't argue with dayf's pick of Adam Bomb-that card was and is huge. Okay, back to baseball…. Before I name the Top-5 vote getters I wanted to mention those that didn’t get any votes… The Big-3 from ’83 did not receive any nominations. Wade Boggs, Ryne Sandberg and Tony Gwynn were 3 of the most coveted rookie cards when I entered the hobby, this was surprising. Jose Canseco and his ’86 Fleer and Donruss cards were huge! I think there was a time when the Donruss was selling for over 100 bucks, very surprised that Canseco didn’t garner votes. The 1984 Don Mattingly did get some love, but in ’84 the bigger cards (in my neighborhood at least) were Ron Kittle and Darryl Strawberry. These were the first cards that really cemented the idea that you could open a pack of cards that you bought for 50 cents and turn around sell one of those cards for 4 dollars. It blew my nine year old mind. The big rookies from ’85 weren’t mentioned either and this surprised me because these 4 cards went through the roof price wise and people went crazy over them-I am speaking of Roger Clemens, Eric Davis, Kirby Puckett and Doc Gooden. Okay, moving on…
Placing fifth (and sort of tied with Gretzky) with 2 votes is the 1984 Donruss Don Mattingly. Donnie Baseball belongs in the Hall of Fame in my opinion, but then again I thought Steve Garvey was more than qualified and he is currently in HOF limbo, so that might leave DM to have to wait as well. I picked up a Topps version for the contest and that speaks volumes about the Donruss. My local card shop did have a copy; he wanted full book price for it and told me that people never come in trying to sell the Donruss version of that card. He was 5 cards deep with the Topps and Fleer. Placing 4th with 4 votes is the 1985 Topps card of Mark McGwire on Team USA. MM was a non-factor on the team and was supposedly a last minute inclusion in the set. I had several copies of this card and sold them at the right time-perhaps the only time I made money at this. My ex-wife promptly blew my profits on something stupid, so in the end I lost. Anyway, it is still an iconic card-according to this vote; it is the 4th most iconic card of the 1980’s. In third place is the most iconic 3-panel rookie card of the decade. I think that if the vote was for the most iconic player and not rookie card, this man would have won. He brought America back to baseball and in a lot of ways he saved the sport. McGwire and Sosa did the same thing, but then ruined it all. This guy was all class as a player and as a citizen. When I found out I had an exclusive interview with this man, I threw up. I got through the interview without throwing up, but was completely star struck and really wasted the opportunity AND I broke all the rules of ethics by asking him for an autograph. I haven’t done it since, but I don’t regret it-he’s Cal Freaking Ripken and his ’82 Topps card takes third place. In second place is the greatest player of all time (in his opinion at least). Looking back this may be the best rookie card of the 80’s, but in 1980 the hobby was still very much underground. I don’t think that this card brought the national attention or notoriety that the Mattingly, McGwire, Canseco or Griffey rookies did. I don’t think that is a bad thing though. All that notoriety caused prices to skyrocket (temporarily) and caused the mass overproduction of everything for nearly a decade. I think that Henderson deserves an award for NOT ushering in the junk wax era. Well, I have cited the cards voted from fifth to 2nd place, you can probably guess the winner by now… This card did change the hobby-it launched a new company that was at the top of the game for twenty years. This card has been the face of that company for that long, too. All of Upper Decks success started with Griffey and they rode that train for 20 years. Griffey didn't rewrite the record books like Upper Deck predicted, but he still has had a great career even though he didn’t break Hank Aaron’s record. KG Jr's career is almost up and Pete Rose is still the hit king and Griffey doesn’t have a ring for every finger, but he is still a first ballot Hall of Famer whenever he decides to call it quits and he launched a card company that stood in against the big 3 and outlasted two of them. The Most Iconic Rookie Card of the 1980’s is Upper Deck card # 1 of the 1989 Upper Deck set. It was literally the first Upper Deck ever, Ken Griffey Jr. You voted for it Blog-O-Sphere and so it is, the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Junior card #1 is the most iconic rookie card of the 80’s. Thanks to everyone who voted! You probably want to know now which name was yanked from the hat this morning. The drawing was done as soon as the wife woke up, while I was still up from the night before (insomnia sucks) and the drawing was done before makeup and a shower so photos were not permitted. This is the name that was pulled. If this is your screen name, please comment here with the card that you select. I will get it in the mail for you on Monday. Thanks to everyone for playing along, for voting, for reading this blog and for all of your comments and feedback on the previous post. As for the ad question… They will not return until the 2 readers who were upset say they are okay with it (at least one of them) and I receive a check from Google for the money they owe me. Once the season begins and traffic increases I am considering bigger ad offers. Another blogger has recommended Yard Barker and I am considering them, does anyone else have any advice? If I can get a decent ad offer then I can spend more time covering spring training-maybe get some good pictures, perhaps do some interviews, we will see. Again thanks to everyone who participated in the vote. Congrats to the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. card for being voted as the Most Iconic Rookie Card of the 1980s and congrats to Wicked Ortega. Sorry to Beardy-I think this is the ONLY blog that you haven’t won a contest on… Before I sign off I thought I would remind y'all to check out my wantlists. I am slowly going through the 600 Rays cards that Joe sent me and the Topps Team Sets want list is current and up to date. If you are sitting on Topps cards from 1999-2003, please check out my list and help a Troll out! Go Rays! Troll out.