Thursday, July 31, 2008

Carp Day - Epilogue

Tonight's line: 4 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 67 pitches
All in all, I was happy with just about everything. Carpenter was having trouble with location, but he did a great job at damage control whenever he got into troublesome situations. That is the thing I've missed the most about him taking his turn every 5 days. When he his out on the mound, you can relax. When runners get on, it's no big deal. In his Cardinals career, he has done a masterful job at limiting damage and keeping baserunners from coming across the plate. I had no issues with him being lifted after 4 innings because I think it was important for him to leave on a positive note and definitely not a good idea to push him. His velocity was right where it should be, and the Cards got nice efforts out of the bullpen and the offense to take the game.

I picked up these two cards in a lot off eBay recently along with a Yadier Molina lot and an Anthony Reyes lot (lousy timing) so I could pass along the nice cards to my girlfriend for her birthday. The Carp stuff was just a throw-in for me, and it saved me a good amount on shipping. I really like the jersey card... even moreso tonight since I've taken a picture of it.

By the way, I think I've managed to figure out how to take pictures of baseball cards with my digital camera and not make them incredibly blurry and dark. I may be able to put off that scanner purchase just yet...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Albert Shines / Carp Day

Just a quick post before I run off for work for the night and meet my impending doom. I got this shiny card in the mail today. It was a nice 99 cent eBay find. Are they making a Turkey Red set this year? I have no idea. Part of me is hoping that they don't, so I can pursue my interest in collecting the 2007 stuff with little distraction. Pujols has had a pretty nice mini-run of late, tallying 3 HRs in the last 4 games. He was huge last night.

Tonight belongs to Chris Carpenter. This is definitely the most anticipated game of the year for me, aside from possibly Opening Day (which got rained out anyway.) As a fan, tonight is either going to be elating or devastating, and there's probably little room in between for any other outcomes. Yikes. I'll post my postgame thoughts after I get home from work and watch the game tape, unless I'm too busy crying in my beer or something.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

No More Mr. Reyes

Anthony Reyes was dealt to the Cleveland Indians over the weekend, marking an unceremonious end to his once-promising Cardinals career. Most people would agree that it was best for him to move on, but I can't help but feel disappointed. Some, like this blogger-commenter (can that be a word?) over at the very excellent Viva El Birdos have described this as a win-win situation for all involved, but I don't see the Cardinals ending up as winners here.

Reyes still seems like a talent to me. He has a unique delivery. He throws hard. He has style (obviously- see the high socks, the super-serious flat bill...) He threw one hell of a World Series game in 2006, one that helped set the tone for the series. Do the Cardinals win that series without him? It's tough to say.

I could also say I was a victim of falling for "the hype." For the 1-hitter against the defending champion White Sox. For the World Series Game 1. For my girlfriend's favorite player. I think Reyes will end up alright in the end. I think Cleveland got a good deal. I have my doubts as to whether we'll ever see the 24-year old AA reliever that the Cards got in return. Hopefully Reyes makes it back soon.

What kind of socks do the Indians have to wear?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

OMG! Box Break

A week or two ago, I purchased a "hobby box" of 2008 Topps Series 1 from the good 'ol eBay for about $13. I actually ended up paying nearly as much for the shipping as I did the box itself. I'm not really excited about this year's Topps cards all that much, but the price was right, and opening a large quantity of recently issued packs is pretty grabbing for me. I got a bunch of the "gold foil" cards, which are basically just the regular base cards printed with a gold Topps logo and player name instead of the usual silver. I hadn't seen these in the "retail" packs I had previously opened and so I imagine they are just a "hobby" occurence. I can see why they are not very popular. I did, however, manage to get the Ankiel card above, which is nice.

The 50th Anniversary All-Star Rookie Team cards are possibly the only insert set that really interests me from this product. I like the original photos I have seen, particularly when the player is shown on a former team. Aaron Miles has a card in this insert set, which is fairly amazing. I pulled one from this box. He doesn't even have a regular issue Topps card this year so far. He does produce the occasional clutch hit, however.

Big Papi was my big "keeper" in one of my fantasy leagues. He's also one of the least hate-able players on the Red Sox as far as I'm concerned. I doubt that there's another Red Sox player that I would have scanned a card for.

Poor Tulo. It's hard to even know what to say. Hopefully his extremely promising career path still lies ahead of him and he can do some damage, maybe even beginning later this year.

I guess this was "The Hit" (tm). I think this means I need to find a Lofton "fan for life" or hardcore Indians collector to trade this with.

Well, the "retail packs" I usually buy clearly don't contain the Trading Card History cards like the packs in the box did. This looks nice. A lot of the TCH cards I got in this box don't look so nice. Joey Votto strikes me as someone who is going to have a 20-season major league career, and I'm okay with that as long as the Reds remain the Reds... and not a serious threat.

The Box Breakdown:

Cardinals: Ankiel Gold Foil, Chris Duncan, Scott Rolen, Anthony Reyes, Jim Edmonds, Ankiel, So Taguchi, YOUR FACE IS SO TAGUCHI, Preston Wilson, Jason Isringhausen, Tony LaRussa, Pujols 50th Anniversary Topps All-Star Rookie

Gold Foil: (in addition to Ankiel...) no one worth mentioning: 12, 19, 73, 77, 94, 103, 107, 108, 112, 113, 130, 206, 208, 209, 225, 251, 261

Campaign 2008 (1:9): Obama, Kucinich, Paul, McCain
50th Anniversary Topps All-Star Rookies (1:5): Pujols, Jeter, Mauer, Julio Franco, Ron Swoboda, Andruw Jones, Alfonso Soriano

Own The Game (1:6): Ortiz, Carlos Pena, Penny, Berkman, Alex Rodriguez, Howard

Year In Review (1:6): Matt Belisle YR28, Jake Peavy YR25, Troy Tulowitzki YR29, Shawn Hill YR26, Daisuke Matsuzaka YR27, Travis Hafner YR24

Trading Card History (1:12): Hunter Pence TCH14, Jose Reyes TCH11, Hideki Okajima TCH15, Joey Votto TCH12, Johan Santana TCH13, Joe Mauer TCH10

Gold Parallel (1:9): Shawn Hill 307 (590/2008), Ronny Paulino 31 (368/2008), Carlos Ruiz 281 (438/2008), John Maine 171 (553/2008)

Black Parallel (1:95): Kenny Lofton ALCS 128 (49/57)

Mantle Story (1:18): MMS51, MMS50

Mantle HR History (1:9): MHR532, MHR530, MHR533, MHR531

Stupid Gimmick Cards: "Kazuo Uzuki" FS1

Gold Foil: Other than Ankiel, nothing interesting for me... 12, 19, 73, 77, 94, 103, 107, 108, 112, 113, 130, 206, 208, 209, 225, 251, 261

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Word Up, Chromie

I purchased a pack of 2006 Topps Chrome off of eBay recently for 11 cents. Until I opened this, I had never actually owned any Chrome cards, unless one of the cards from my Ozzie Smith collection is extra-shiny without me realizing it. At $3.00 per pack of 4 cards as I typically have heard, I never was inclined to buy a pack even just for fun. Call me a quantity-over-quality guy, if you will, but I still think packs should be about $1 each. The only reason I've bought any Topps Heritage or Turkey Red packs at Target is because the cards just look super-awesome, and at least you get a few more than 4 cards in a pack.

Nevertheless, the price was right with this one. After shipping, I paid a total of $1.10, which is well within my reasonable limit of an impulse buy that probably won't net me any Cardinals (4 out of 30 isn't great odds.) Either there seems to be an absurd amount of Ichiro cards produced these days, or there is some NW regional bias going on, because I always seem to get his cards. At least I don't get tons of Brad Lidge cards. Seeing him in a new uniform these days makes me hate him a little less, but I still get a little giddy during every Pujols vs. Lidge confrontation and will still do so for the duration of their respective playing careers.

Card number three was a Paul Maholm "X-Fractor" which the standard official MLB Rookie Card logo. I honestly wouldn't have any idea what kind of "fractor" it was if it didn't tell me on the back. All I know is that it looks weirder than the other three cards. Maholm is starting to look like a pretty solid pitcher in his third full season in the league and I recently added him to a couple of my fantasy teams. Of course, he has that "Pirates pitcher" thing going against him, so for his sake hopefully he'll get traded soon before his arm falls off.

Finally, we have Dustin McGowan, someone who I know nothing about. I included an image of him primarily because I was able to get a better picture of his card than any of the other three. (If you've read this far, you've probably noticed that I don't own a scanner, which is pretty amusing considering my line of work.)

Pack Breakdown:
260 - Ichiro Gold Glove Award
243 - Brad Lidge
X-Fractor (1:6) 320 - Paul Maholm
229 - Dustin McGowan

No Cardinals were harmed or included in the breaking of this pack.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Brett Favre Needs to Shut Up

Repeat after me: "Retire." "Retire." "Retire." Just go away, please. There should be some sort of mandate that all professional athletes must agree to spend at least 3 years out of the public limelight following their official retirement announcement. I'm not completely against comebacks or anything, but I am so tired of hearing about premature retirements. I've never been a fan of Favre, believe me, but he is certainly not the first prominent player to pull this stunt in recent years. We've all had to endure the recurring (pre-PED awareness) Roger Clemens story. I actually watched a couple of innings of that chump's minor league rehab start for some really ridiculous reason.

But, back to Favre, here. It doesn't really matter to me that he has some huge grievance against his longtime franchise or anything. I really just don't want to hear about retired athletes anymore. If you are truly done, just go away for awhile. Don't hold press conferences. Don't have your agent speak out on your behalf. Go to the beach for a month or twelve, drink some margaritas, and let us forget about your recent failures and successes on the field. Trust me, when you come back in a few years and get a cushy job being an analyst for ESPN or a commentator on the dreaded FOX or whatever, all we are going to remember is the highlights of your career. It is really sad to see these athletes try and keep the fire going and try and stay in front of the microphones, the video cameras, and the hype machines (!!) because they don't know what else to do with themselves.

The card I posted above actually makes me laugh to this day. I lost interest in football cards awhile before I lost interest in baseball cards, and Pro Set cards made up the vast majority of what I collected (and still own.) I'm not sure what the maniac behind that operation was thinking or if he/she/it made off with any profit whatsoever, but I know that even a few months after a new release it wasn't difficult to purchase a box of it for $10 or less. I think the quality of the cards (especially the pictures) was superior to the other brands out there at the time, at least beginning in 1990, but the sheer amount of the cards produced was and continues to be mind-boggling. That being said, I clearly remember pulling the Favre card in a pack and showing it off - "hey, I got a Brett Favor rookie card!"

So, er, do me a favor and go away for awhile, Brett.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Dreaming of Holliday

The pending trading deadline and the deals that go with it seem to be the hot topic these days. The Cardinals were among the teams thought to be interested in the services of Matt Holliday, who of course was the anchor of the Rockies terrific stretch run to the World Series last year. The guy should have been the NL MVP for 2007 and certainly would have had my vote. But like many small market teams are apt to do at this time of year, Holliday might get dumped off on a contender for prospects. It's actually one of my least favorite things about Major League Baseball in its current state.

The 1992 Padres were the first to really irritate me. They had built up a team of high-priced Free Agents to try and make a playoff run, only to come up short and dump off anyone of worth in the middle of the following season. I'm not even sure why I latched onto the Padres that year. I believe it was the year that they ditched their hideous uniforms for the pinstripes. There's also been the well-documented World Series campaigns of the Marlins, and the ensuing fire sales during the offseason. It seems like the last thing a small market, non-"power" team needs is to lose its primary drawing power. But that's how Johan Santana ends up in New York and Alex Rodriguez ends up wherever he feels like.

These deadline deals, on the other hand, are something else altogether. Cleveland is a mess, and so their Cy Young winner gets shipped out. Mark Teixeira, who I just assumed was named after his own franchise, became Brave Tex. What's next for him now, Red Tex? Bronx Tex? (Oh, wait, the Yankees don't do that anymore.)

As a Cards' fan, however, I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't mention that my team has benefited greatly from these types of deals, though the McGwire, Walker and Will Clark "shot in the arm" acquisitions all came in the recently ended Walt Jocketty regime. So I suppose I can dream about Holliday patrolling left field at Busch later on this summer, as many others debate the ups and downs of mortgaging your future for a shot in the arm.