Sunday, May 31, 2009

2008 Topps Heritage Baseball Want List

Once again, dayf at Cardboard Junkie hooked me up with a few short prints and I am very close to finishing the base set, only 14 cards stand between me and a finished low-number set. He also sent along the final 3 New Age Performers cards I needed.
Now the NAP subset is done. The Then and Now subset is done. All the Dick Perez cards are there. The T-205 mini set is done. I have all the Flashbacks and Baseball Flashbacks sets done, too. I have decided not to worry about collecting Clubhouse Collection, Stadium Relics or Chromes, so all of the subsets I am trying to complete, are complete!!! Yay! Thanks dayf! I am finally getting around to start collecting the high numbers set. I have ripped 2 blaster boxes and there's still about 160 cards standing between me and a finished high number set...Want list is here if you can help,
I have a ton of base set dupes, inserts, black backs and a handful of high number doubles, too. Get in touch if you wanna trade, thanks!

2007 Topps Heritage Wantlist

Thanks to dayf at Cardboard Junkie, I am a few steps closer to finishing my 2007 Topps Heritage Set... Actually, one step, but Jarrod Washburn can be scratched off of my want list forever! Kinda weird that I am still 30 cards away from a set that is two years old, but this is a toughy... Anybody with me on that? I can use some more help, I have a ton of dupes and short prints and inserts to trade. I have put together a want list here if ya can help...
Thanks, Go Rays!!!

Off To The Trop

Getting ready to go and watch the Rays take on Minnesota for the SECOND DAY IN A ROW!!!!They won yesterday, D. Price and the rest of the staff combined for 15 strikeouts...
And did so in a winning effort... Hopefully, today will brind more of the same. There were some good stories from yesterday...Bridges, baseball, alcohol. Three Doors Down, scalpers, security, oh my!!! Go Rays!!!!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Why I Should Always Carry A Camera

Well, the Rays are back to looking up at .500. David Price’s first start of the season was lackluster. He didn’t pitch awful. He gave up just 2 runs and struck out 6 batters, not too shabby; but he also walked 5 and reached his 100 ball pitch count and had to be lifted after just 3-1/3 innings. He left with a lead, though. The Rays reserves, getting the chance to start (with Aki and Bartlett sidelined with injuries) provided the offense. Brignac, Gross and Zobrist combined for 6 RBIs. Too bad the bullpen combined to give up 9 runs in the final 2 innings. Not good…
On a lighter note, Ms. Troll and I were out for a drive and while stopped at a light we saw a bizarre license plate frame on a beige Ford Taurus station wagon. This will lead the list on why you should always carry a camera, I had forgotten mine. The wagon had 4 passengers in it. Two adult women, with large and extravagant hair dos were sitting in the front, frequently turning around to chastise the two young boys sitting in the back seat. There was a pair of aviator sunglasses, a (no longer glowing) glow stick and a pine tree air freshener hanging from the rear view. I was so enamored with the car, its passengers and its license plate frame, that I nearly rear-ended it. Its lack of brake lights may have aided in this, just a bit.
The license plate frame that surrounded the Florida tag read “$D NASTY-PUSSY BANDIT”. Happy Memorial Day to all!

3 Days With an Empty Mailbox

All is back to normal at the Troll household. I spent Sunday watching The Rays and Marlins battle it out in South Florida. The Rays had beaten up the Fish the last two contests, scoring better than 10 runs each game, but today they were facing Josh Johnson, who amazes me for 2 reasons. First, he is an extremely dominant starter; and second, that the Yankees haven’t found a way to send a “player to be named later” to Miami in exchange for him.
I hustled around the house tidying up, while watching the game and awaiting the return of Mrs. Troll.
Johnson was at the top of his game and he left with a lead in the 7th. Jason Bartlett responded with a homer in the 8th and at the end of 9 it was all tied up. It was great to see the Marlins still had some fight left in them. The game went into “free ball” and that lasted until Ross Gload delivered a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th. I prefer a win, but it was the best baseball I had seen all weekend. Good show Marlins…The hit, coincidentally came at the exact same time as our friend Robert pulled in the driveway, my wife in tow…
Tonight, the Rays are making the trip to Cleveland. Second baseman, Akinora Iwamora, will remain in Florida to get his injured knee checked out, but Joe Maddon (and his 3 year contract extension) will captain the rest of the crew against the Indians.
David Price will get the call on the hill for the Rays, making his 1st start of the year. The lefty from Vandy was stellar in October last year, but wasn’t quite ready for the show out of spring training. Ready or not, you are in the big leagues now, Mr. Price. (don't even worry about the many collectors who have thousands of dollars invested in your cards, just don't become another Brien Taylor!)
Today is Memorial Day and both the Misses and I are off of work, given a full day to remember and appreciate those who fell while defending our country at war. I have not lost a family member to combat, I am lucky like that, but I am never shy to thank a Vet.
We are not the only members of the work force to get the day off. The post office is shut today. Whereas I get 6 paid holidays per year at my job, postal employees are rewarded with 11 free days a year!!!
Couple that with the 52 Sundays they have off each year and all the Saturdays that my carrier forgets to bring us any mail (like this Sat) and that’s a pretty easy year.
I’m not trying to pick on the loyal men and women who brave sleet and snow (and the Floriduh sun) to bring me my letters and packages, I don’t hate them, I love the mail!
I just hate the days when I know there is no hope of getting mail. My day revolves around the mail. I go to the Post Office on my lunch break to check our box and I go back right after to work to ship out our mail. Between e-bay, trading cards, trading records, trading zines, buying, selling, shipping, friends, relatives and Netflix; my life revolves around the US Mail. A day without the mail is a day without the hope of something cool and unexpected ending up in the little box that is nailed to the side of our house!
Without the mail, there is little hope of an actual baseball card related post, either. I will say that the “super collector” plan is off to a very slow start. My (e) mail box is full of outbid notices on cool Jason Bartlett cards. Apparently, I am not the only JB super collector. I am determined to blow 15 bucks bargain hunting for Rays cards, one way or another. I’ll keep y’all posted!
As I side note, I already anticipate major problems getting out of bed of Tuesday morning, but the hope of a full mail/post office box will keep me energized!
Go Rays!!!

Rays Win, Bombers Lose, I'm an uncle, again. Home Alone Part II

What a night!!! I stayed home for most of the afternoon, sitting at the computer, blogging and typing up my script for the bout. I also drained about 2 pots of coffee and forgot to eat anything. I get so stressed, nervous and anxious before every bout, and I don’t have to skate or worry about getting hit or hurt. I mostly just stand around with a microphone in my hand babbling about how awesome roller derby is, but no matter how many bouts I call, I still get nervous. I don’t think I’ve been able to eat before a bout, yet. My stomach turns in knots and I am always certain I will go completely blank at game time. It hasn’t happened yet, when 6:55 on game night rolls around, I am always ready. Maybe the one time I am not nervous will be the time I freeze up and forget where I am and why I am there.
I sat around the whole day in my pajamas, when it came time to get ready, I realized I was out of deodorant, not good! I threw on some clothes, grabbed the emergency $10 bill I had stashed away and drove off to Target.
I grabbed a Speed Stick (by Mennen!), which was on sale and a 2 liter of Pepsi (I needed more caffeine) which was also on sale and that left me with 4 bucks to play with, so I slinked over to the card aisle… I eyed the 8 pack boxes and made plans just in case my lovely wife returned from her gambling trip with bags of cash, then started looking more realistically at the single packs. I grabbed a 36-card jumbo pack of 2008 Topps Updates and Highlights and sped off to the register. I had to be at the skating rink in less than an hour and still needed to shower and try out my new deodorant, no time for excessive browsing and daydreaming!
I found a register with no line and a grandmotherly looking cashier started scanning my items. She noticed my cards and asked “Do you ever get any David Wright cards?” Her schoolgirl-ish smile told me why she was asking. “I hope not” I said, “I don’t like getting cards of guys who are better looking than me, my wife will steal them.” She giggled, apparently liking my response (which is completely untrue, my lovely wife is not a fan of Mr. Wright) and handed me my bag while wishing me a good day. I rode the accelerator all the way home, stashed the jumbo pack of cards for later, and got ready for derby.
I arrived 10 minutes late, but that was okay because, as usual, the rink wasn’t letting us in when they were supposed to. I nervously chain smoked ,wishing I had brought a mug of coffee with me. I visited with the rest of the team while waiting impatiently to get inside. The doors finally opened up (25 minutes late) and I ran inside. I didn’t actually run, I had a large bin of stuff, plus a table and chairs, I kind of stumbled in. I got my announcers table set up. I like to display the raffle prizes and trophies on the front of the table so people can get a sneak peak at my handy work prior to the bout. This was the first derby bout I had ever been to without the company of my wife, Esther Gin (n Juice) and I brought her derby helmet with me and set it up on my table.
It was still over an hour till the bout was going begin, even though the doors had opened for us, the fans were still out in the parking lot. We always have kegs of free beer served by lovely roller girls, so no one ever complains, but I thought I would use this time of peace to take down some more notes. I scrawled away in my notebook, I swear one of these days I am joining the ranks of the modern citizen and getting a lap top. Meanwhile, the other team had arrived. Yes, the North Carolina Rogue Roller Girls were in the building! They entered in unison, as a team, already in their uniforms, which were camouflage tops with a bomb on it. They looked pretty darn intimidating. I got up from my chair to seek out their captain, Bull Lee (don't let the pretty picture fool you, she was an animal on the rink!). I had a little bit of e-mail communication with Bull last week, but had never met her before. She was easy enough to locate, things are much easier when people wear their names on the backs of their shirts!
She provided me with a roster for her North Carolina squad and we exchanged a little small talk regarding their trip. They all drove down together in a giant van; it was a 10-1/2 hour trek from Fayetteville, NC to Bradentucky, Florida. I offered sympathy because I can barely handle the 15 minute drive to work each day, but she assured me that it was nothing for them. Apparently the whole team was either in the military themselves (US Army, USMC) or they were Army brats, either way, driving 10 hours was nothing for them. They had been bouting all year long without an off-season taking on teams from Columbia, SC; Richmond, VA; Savannah, GA; Myrtle Beach, SC; and Jacksonville, Florida. I told her “good luck” and walked away while reading the NC roster, I laughed at a few of the names on there with Risky Biscuit being my favorite. I returned to my announcer station, trying to prepare for the bout. Chuck U. Farley, the head referee this evening, came over and we scheduled the start time, I was gonna get things going at 6:55 so we could stay close to the 7 PM start time. I grabbed my microphone and did a quick sound check, then disappeared outside again; I had 20 minutes to kill, so I thought I would kill my lungs for five of them. More and people were arriving, not only was the parking lot at the rink full, there were cars everywhere, the lot next to us, the lot next to that, there were a lot of cars, I wandered around trying to count them, thinking that a Saturday bout (rather than our normal Sunday night bouts) is obviously a great way to get people out. Five minutes were killed and I tried to make my way back inside (I needed a soda before I could get started) and there so many people between me and the door that this could take a while. It did, I made it to my station (large Pepsi in hand) and looked at my phone, it said 6:54, game time. Deep breath. “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Florida Wheels! I wanna thank you all for coming out tonight to watch your hometown, Bradentucky Bombers take on the North Carolina Rogue Roller Girls, is everybody ready for some roller derby?” With all that said, it became a blur, I babbled on for a few more minutes, introduced the visitors and introduced our girls. It was the first bout I had called where I was not introducing my lovely wife, I missed her. The game was intense from the opening whistle and North Carolina’s defense was like none I had ever seen. We had played teams with a lot of big girls, hard hitters, dirty players, you name it. Their defense was just GOOD. Their captain, Bull Lee, stayed up front and she was not letting anyone past her. Ten minutes in and North Carolina was up 12-5. In derby, where you can score 10 points in 60 seconds, that is an extremely low score. It was a defensive battle. Both teams had great techniques and tremendous athletes out there and neither teams jammers were getting through the pack. I repeatedly encouraged the crowd to cheer their home team. I would yell “cheering makes her skate faster!” and the crowd would erupt, it seemed to work. Our defense was on fire, we were rotating 2 teams of four blockers every jam and they were hitting on all cylinders. The problem we were having was our jammers couldn’t stay out of the penalty box and with your jammer sitting down, you can’t score. It was a tight game all night, neither team let up. Bull Lee stayed out on the floor for nearly every jam, but the rare times that she took a breather, we capitalized and scored big. They maintained the lead from the opening whistle to closing bell, but never by much. It was a one-point game at one interval, and between 3 and 11 points for much of the game. The defense was the story on both sides, but they had a pair of speedy jammers who got them points in Leif Mia Lone and West Coast Ma Fia, which combined with Bull Lee and Suthern Hail blocking up front, was just too much for the Bombers. Our squad had won its last 3 home games, but could not pull it off against the team from Fayetteville. After 60 solid minutes of derby, it came down to the final seconds, but we lost a very entertaining game. The crowd loved it; nearly everyone in the packed house was on their feet in the final minutes trying to push their team ahead. I pretty much worked my voice into a hollow growl, but I saved a little bit to award the trophies after the game and say a few words about our captain, Vixen Da Crusher after the game. Vixen had been a founding member of the team and had skated in every single bout the team played since its inception three seasons prior. She was the face of the team. She coached our “rookie” team and led the defense on our “A” squad, but 3 years of dishing out and receiving high speed hits had caught up with her. I called her to the center of the rink, but she was starting to ice her knees already, so I walked over to her and we presented her with a trophy; a roller skate with a fox tail on it. Thanks Vixen, thanks for everything!!! After that, I awarded the trophies I had made the day before to each teams best jammer and blocker. After that, the crowd quickly dissipated, everyone heading to the after party at a bar down the street. We had some cleaning up to do and then we would be “after partying” too.
Driving to the bar I wondered to myself how the Rays were doing against the Marlins in South Florida. I didn’t have to wonder for long, the majority of the TVS that were mounted at each of the bar had the game on. I used one of my “free drink” coupons, order a draft Harp and pulled up a stool and squinted to see the score. It was tied up at 3 a piece in the seventh. Jeff Nieman had already been yanked, but his line score looked solid. He went 6 innings and only gave up one run on a solo shot by Dan Uggla. J.P. Howell came on in relief and quickly let 2 more runs score and here we are, seventh inning and a tie ballgame. I used what little voice I had left to scream at the television and somehow Longo heard me and responded. He drove Akinori Iwamura home in the top of the 8th. Dan Wheeler game on to pitch the bottom of the 8th and was nearly perfect, shut the Fish down and we went into the 9th with the Rays up by one run.
Matt Lindstrom was pitching for the Marlins in the 9th and was serving up grapefruits and the Rays added insurance runs on top of insurance runs. Jason Bartlett, Zobrist, Hernandez and BJ Upton all drove ‘em home in the final inning, ending it with a 10-3 lead.
I wondered who would pitch the bottom of the 9th with Percival on the DL and Wheeler, Balfour and Howell already having been used. I was taken back when a 36 year old right hander walked out of the pen with Isringhausen on the back of his shirt. I remembered Issy from his glory days with the Mets, I followed him pretty closely and he proved a disappointment, as a starter, at least. He revitalized with the Cardinals, and then lost it all over again. I knew the Rays had signed him, but I hadn’t actually seen him pitch since the spring. I was nervous, even with a 7-run cushion, I was nervous. They came up and he shut them down. With the big lead, it wasn’t a save situation, so his career total stands at 293, but he looked good out there. It was actually his 3rd appearance this year and he has yet to allow a run, not too shabby Issy. Another case of an aging, ex-superstar closer resurrecting their career in St. Pete. Cool. The cool thing was the Rays won and that ups their record to 23-22, over .500 for the first time in six weeks! I took the final swig of my beer and took a wander, taking in all the wonderful debauchery of a roller derby after party. Ladies on the ground, leg wresting, ladies giving other ladies lap dances, ladies dancing on the bar, ladies dancing all over. I love derby. I also miss my wife and don’t wanna dance without her, so I say my good byes, offer congratulations to the standouts from both teams and head for my Jeep. I still have that jumbo pack of cards waiting to be opened. I still have this blog to write. My other half is due to arrive back at 5 o’clock and I don’t plan on sitting in front of the computer once she’s back.
It was after midnight when I got home. I sent a quick text to the wife, turned on Baseball Tonight and took off my announcing costume and got comfortable. Its funny, during the week, I am up at 6 AM every morning for work, but as soon as Friday hits, it’s rare for me to fall asleep before 5 AM.
I grabbed my duel-rack-jumbo-pack and decided a scissors would be my best bet for opening it. I was initially really disappointed that there were Heritage high numbers in the pack, the regular wax style packs were a split-combination of the two. Oh, well, at $3.49 for 36 cards, I was dreaming if I thought there would be Heritage in there, plus it didn’t say anything about it on the pack and that is the type of thing you would want to advertise. It was a great rip; it really is quite a value. I know that is the idea with this brand, they are far from premium and most hardcore collectors scoff at them, but I like the value and the variety. I like having a card of each one of the All Stars from the ’08 mid-summer classic; I like the cards from the World Baseball Classic, including the Kosuke Fukudome card I pulled. What I really like is the EVAN LONGORIA card I just pulled!!! Hell yeah, my first ever Evan Longoria card. This is cool. It is probably the least sought after card ever made of Longo, but its mine and I pulled it. It’s a highlights card and it celebrates his first ever “walk-off” home run on May 9th of last year. There was another “highlights” card commemorating John Smoltz’ 3,000th strikeout, in which he victimized Felipe Lopez of the Nats last April. He struck out 10 that game and only allowed 1 run in seven innings, but still took the loss. Can’t this guy get any run support? No wonder he only has 210 wins… There was a time that 3.000 Ks was your ticket to Cooperstown, but that isn’t always the case, just ask Bert Blyleven.
I pulled 3 other Rays, Willy Aybar, Dioneer Navarro and Reid Brignac, plus a score of other All Stars. Guys I forgot made the team like Ryan Ludwick, Justin Duchsherer and Carlos Marmol, plus guys who will undoubtedly be back this year like Ryan Braun and Dustin Pedroia. There was a Xavier Nady card, which made me cringe seeing him in pinstripes on cardboard for the first time. The only worse than the Pirates dumping Jason Bay and Xavier Nady was the Pirates giving them to the Yankees and Red Sox. As is, the Sox got the better deal; Nady has been on the DL almost all year. The card that struck me the most was of young D-Backs pitcher Billy Buckner. I started looking into him when the Rays initially drafted him in 2003. He didn’t sign, opting to become a Gamecock for a year before getting drafted in the second round the following year and signing with the Royals for a bigger bonus. The Royals traded him to the D-Backs and he’s finally proving to be a legit big league starter, proving that with a dominant performance against Oakland on Friday where he went 7 innings and lowered his ERA by nine in getting the win. Its not really his pitching that fascinates me, it’s his name that has caused me to follow his career. Sounds very similar to another former big leaguer. The guy I am thinking of wasn’t a pitcher, though. He was an outfielder and a first baseman, a good hitter who used to be a solid fielder, too. Why does that name sound so familiar? Oh yeah, because it’s the same name as the guy who made the most famous error in baseball history! Oh, and there is no relation. Granted, he was only 3-years old when Bill Buckner forgot to get down on a ground ball, but still. They play the same sport; I think I would change my name or at least come up with a nick name. If I was scouting a promising young boxer named Mikey Tyson, I would certainly encourage him to change his name. That said, if he went by Jennings (his middle name) Buckner, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed that he was a late round pick by the Rays in ’03, so I guess he does have it figured out. I rounded out the big pack with a gold card of 22-year-old righty Ryan Tucker. He is set to make his first start for the Marlins later this week. His 5-8 record at Jupiter last year isn’t that impressive, but he did strike out more than twice as many as he walked, so who knows.
I collated the new cards in with the ones I had ripped last week and was surprised to see I had only one duplicate and it was a Rays (Willy Aybar) card, cool. A few minutes later my phone rang and it wasn’t my wife. Kinda weird to see the phone vibrating at 2 in the morning with an unavailable number, but I was up and wasn’t busy, so I answered. The thick British accent belonged to my brother-in-law, Jonathan, who lives (with my sister) in London, England My older sister, Dawn, had just given birth to a baby girl. She was in labor for over 20 hours before they decided to go with a C-section, but the outcome was a healthy 8 pound baby girl. They named her Ruby May Kelley. Welcome to the world Ruby!!!!
1. James Shields will take the hill on Sunday against Josh Johnson, how about a sweep guys?
2. The lovely Ester Gin (N Juice) will be arriving home on Sunday at 5 o'clock, making this the final installment of Home Alone.
3. Thanks to Invertabrat, photographer and blocker for the Bradentucky Bombers for being awesome and loaning some pics of the bout and party for this post.
4.Congratulations to Dawn and Jonathan on the birth of your beautiful baby girl!!!
5. Thank you to anyone who read this entire post, you are a trooper!
6. Next home derby bout is on June 21st at Florida Wheels.
7. I will be watching the Tampa Bay Derby Darlins at home on June 13th, but solely as a spectator and photographer.
8. As soon as rent is paid I will make my first trip out to the Trop, stay tuned!
9. Go Rays!!!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I am Super Collector!!!!

Super collector… That is what I wanna be. Maybe I have been spending too much time reading Wax Heaven, maybe I am terribly jealous of Mario’s incredible Andrew Miller collection. Maybe, reading about his Canseco collection brought me back to my youth when I was an obsessed player collector. Starting around 1986 or ’87, I somehow developed a connection with then Mariners second baseman, Danny Tartabull. I had started making my mother take me to card shows in 1984 while I was trying to finish my awesome hand-collated, 792 card set. When I got the last card I needed for that set, I felt emptiness. I was still working on the ’84 set while 1985 Topps was on the shelves, so I missed out on that. I couldn’t afford to be a part of that set anyway, collectors were scooping up all of the retail product and card shop prices for packs were way out of my range. 1985 Topps was full of hot rookies like Eric Davis, Mark Langston, Kirby Puckett, Roger Clemens, Doc Gooden,Jimmy Key, Orel Hershiser and Brett Saberhagen. This was the hottest thing going, so I decided to find an alternative. While all of my friends were obsessed with the heroes of the tri-state area, like Don Mattingly, Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, I decided to find a more remote prospect to adulate. Midway through the 1986 season, I made my choice. The Mariners had a very solid team that year. Guys like Phil Bradley, Alvin Davis, Spike Owen, Mark Langston and a young 2nd baseman with a lot of power named Danny Tartabull. Tartabull was moved to left field partway through the season and finished the year with 26 homers. He was my new favorite player. My parents somehow found me a number 4, Mariners jersey and I began scouring anywhere baseball cards could be found for his cards. In ’85 his rookie cards where in the Donruss set and fleer had him on a horizontal, duel-rookie card with Steve Kiefer of the A’s. Topps didn’t get on the “Bull” bandwagon until their 1986 Traded set, same on you Topps!
I wheeled and dealed for as many copies I could get my grubby little hands on. In the mid-eighties there were no inserts or subsets. You were lucky if your favorite player had 3 different cards each year. You had the hope of tracking down oddball stuff, SGAs, minor league cards, postcards and magazine appearances, but that was about it. You showed your dedication to that player by having a ton of their cards. I remember the sense of accomplishment I got when I was able to fill all nine spaces of a page with one card. Sometime around 1988, after the “Bull” had been traded away to the Royals, I talked my father into writing a check for me so I could place an ad in the back of Sports Collectors Digest. I proclaimed myself Danny Tartabull’s #1 fan and no one ever disputed it. I started getting cards in the mail, lists from other collectors wanting to trade for their favorite player, it was heaven!!! I think this was what made me truly fall in love with card collecting. I hit one-thousand cards in my Tartabull binder around 1990. I had a game-used bat, a few autographed baseballs, a signed 8X10, team issued postcards, minor league cards and I even tracked down all of his father, Jose Tartabull’s cards. I was a super-collector!!! I still have almost all of the cards today. When I hit 1,000, I did so with only 31 different cards and I wouldn’t have had that many if not for Score, Upper Deck and Sportsflics all popping up. It wasn’t too long after hitting the one-thousand mark in my collection that I stopped it. Tartabull wasn’t as exciting to watch and I was a teenager who rather spend his weekend’s chasing girls than wandering around at card shows, so I packed away the Danilo Tartabull book for a while. I didn’t think about cards too much until 1995 when I saw a pack of Topps Finest. I bought a pack, then a box, I was hooked again! The girl chasing was fun, but then I caught one, a bad one. I realized that my cards always made me happier than she ever had, so I was back! The next year the White Sox signed Tartabull and he had a career year at age 33. I finally met him that year in spring training and went to see the White Sox play at the Trop against the Devil Rays. I never really got back into collecting “Bull” again; I did start collecting White Sox cards. I have the majority of them packed up and ready to find a new home with the guy from the awesome White Sox cards blog. I still do find myself bidding on Harold Baines cards, still. It is an addiction!
Yes, and reading about Mario’s Canseco collection made me make the trip to my parents attic to dust off the old Tartabull binder and relive some old memories and think of all the similarities between “Bull” and Canseco. They were both rookies in 1986. Canseco won the AL ROY that year, Tartabull finished 5th in the voting. They were both of Cuban descent. They both had family that also played pro ball. They both hit a lot of the home runs in the 80’s and both struck out a lot! Canseco topped 100 RBIs six times, Tartabull 5. Canseco hit more than 20 long balls twelve times, Tartabull did it 7 times. Tartabull managed 100 walks once in his career; Canseco was never quite that patient. They both rank in the top 100 all time in At bats per homeruns and strike outs. They both were at the top of the early 90’s salary explosions; they were both limited in their careers by injuries. They were also both over looked by Topps until the 1986 Traded set came out. Canseco’s career lasted longer and his career home run total is nearly double Tartabull’s, but I still don’t think it’s a stretch to call them similar.
Another similarity is they both retired before the innovation of game-used card inserts and 50 different card products each year. Like Mario began collecting Andrew Miller to get in on the high-end inserts, I have decided on a modern player to become the new focus of my dreams of being a super collector…
First, I am a Tampa Bay Rays fan. Even though I went to the Trop to see the White Sox play, I was always cheering for the Rays. They are my home team and win or lose, I love them! Up until last year, I was buying high end cards of the Rays, cheap, on e-bay. My favorite is a SPx Winning Trios jersey card with BJ Upton, Carl Crawford and James Shields on it, awesome! Fortunately, the rest of the world is realizing what a great team we have here in St. Pete, but the downside is you can’t buy a card with those 3 guys on it for 3 dollars anymore. My current financial status prohibits me from chasing the whole team, I need a specific focus. Crawford, Upton and Shields are all out of the question because they simply have too many cards and I have too little money. I pondered the idea all day. My favorite Rays are Carl Crawford, Jason Bartlett and James Shields. I had a pretty good idea of who I was gonna pick for my focus, but I figured I would consult with my beautiful wife. We’re hanging out in bed one night and I say “baby, I wanna be a super collector, who should I collect?” I know what you all are thinking… You talk about baseball cards in bed? Yes, we do. I have stated in before, but I do have the most awesome wife in the world. Anyway, her response was quick. “You should collect Bartlett, he’s your favorite.” Excellent! We were in agreement and I had a mission! The next day, I began to scour e-bay looking for high end Bartlett cards. There were quite a few. Unfortunately, he is in a Twins uniform in most of them. More unfortunately, he’s hitting .375 and already topped his career best total in home runs, he’s having a banner year, which is awesome, but it precludes me from scooping all of his cards at “sleeper” prices. I found quite a few cards, most of them from 2007 and I am “watching” them all, about 20 cards. I already found his “white whale” card, 2007 Triple Threads 1 of 1. Wow! That could be the cornerstone of my new collection!!! I bid on it immediately, ready to blow my entire PayPal account on it. Sadly, that account only has 14 bucks in it and I was swiftly outbid. It’s at about 25 bucks with a few days left to go. Shucks! I guess I am not as ready to be a super collector as I thought. I did find some cool cards with higher serial numbers and I am still sticking to the plan. It’s a new day and this day will bring me yet another new name, I am Jason Bartlett Super Collector!!!!
Go Rays!!!

Rays Win!!!!

Rays Win, Rays Win!!!!
Rays are at .500, Rays are at .500!!! Yes, with a decisive victory over the other team in Florida, the Rays are even up once again. That still leaves them in 4th place in a 5 team division, but they are only 4 and a half back of the Canadian team which is holding first place in the American League East.
It was an awesome offensive day for the Rays. Dioner Navarro, who has been struggling at the plate and looking up at the Mendoza line for most of the year, had a break out game, going 4 for 6 with 3 RBIs and improving his batting average to a robust .211. Pena and Gabe Gross (still don’t have a card of Gabe) also went yard. While Navarro’s average jumped, Jason Bartlett was 1 for 3 with 3 RBIs and his average dropped to .375. Come on Bartlett, you can do better than that!
More impressive than the offense, was the pitching. With Troy Percival and Scott Kazmir going on the DL today (joining side-armer Chad Bradford), the staff is looking thin. Not to say those 2 will be missed, their combined ERA is around a 7!
Still, after Matt Garza and James Shields, there is a huge drop-off in quality starts. Sonnanstine needed to come through and he did. He even got to swing the bat a little. He was 1 out of 4 with a walk. He scored twice. With Kaz out, that bumps Andy up to the #3 starter, I have faith in Andy, but this makes me scratch my head more than ever over the off-season dealing of Edwin Jackson to the Tigers. Jackson is 4-2 with 48 strike outs and a 2.55 ERA in nine starts. Those numbers would make him the Rays ace. Instead, we have Matt Joyce who has exactly 1 hit for the Rays this year. Great trade…
Dale Thayer(no card, sorry), who got called up with Reid Brignac to fill the vacant roster spots left by Kaz and Percy, made his Major League debut (at age 28) and pitched well. He went 3 innings for the save, giving up one run in the 9th on an RBI single by Dan Uggla. Good show.
Jeff Nieman will get the call to start tomorrow against the Fish. He’s gonna try and become the team’s first 5 game winner. Like Sonnanstine, this is a huge opportunity for Nieman to step up his game and prove he was worthy of a 1st round draft pick. If you will indulge me in a little bit of trivia… When the Rays took Nieman with their 1st pick in the 2004 draft, it made history as 3 of the first 8 players chosen were college teammates. Jeff was taken 4th overall, chosen after the Mets grabbed Phil Humber with the 3rd pick. The Orioles used the 8th overall pick to grab Wade Townsend. It was the first time a single school produced more than two top-ten picks since the amateur draft was initiated in 1965. To take it one step further, no school has ever produced 3 pitchers taken in the first round. Can you imagine facing that Owls team? They were National Champions in 2003 behind Jeff Nieman’s unbelievable 17-0 record. He was hampered by injuries as a junior in 2004 and posted a less impressive 6-3 record, but the 6’9” tall right hander showed enough in ’03 for the Rays to covet him. I’ve only seen him pitch a few times; he has an outstanding slider, but has as many walks as strike outs and gives up more than a hit an inning. I believe he can be a front line starter, I can see the stretch rotation for the Rays being Shields, Garza, Nieman, Price and Sonnanstine. Time will tell. For now, I will happy if he can pick up his 5th win. Go Rays!!!
On a completely different note… I finished making the trophies for the Roller Derby bout tomorrow night. I make 4 trophies for each bout; they are given to each team’s “best jammer” and “best blocker” immediately following the game. I take a little bit of pride in making these; let me know what you think...Incidentally, the star is an important symbol in roller derby. The "jammer" has a star on their helmet to set them apart from the rest of the pack. The jammer is the only one on the rink who can score. Go Bombers!!!