Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bargain Heritage

True story: I haven't bought any sports cards in more than a month. Between having to pay my taxes and having another season of the MLB Extra Innings cable package wreaking havoc on my budget, I haven't allowed myself to spend anything on baseball cards outside of paying some shipping costs for trades. Fortunately, I still have a stash of "rainy day" baseball cards. I had set aside three packs of 2007 Topps Heritage. I managed to pick these up at a card show for $1 each during the Christmas shopping season. Even though this is not one of the better Heritage sets in my opinion, I've been kicking myself for months for not finding a way to buy every pack the guy had available at that price.

Pack 1:
166 - Todd Greene (Not Khalil Greene or even Tyler Greene - just some Giants catcher that I've never heard of.)

382 - C.C. Sabathia (Back when C.C. was just C.C. and not CC... something like that.)
75 - Scott Podsednik
21 - Matt Cain (I guess Cain gets overlooked a bit in all of the attention that Dance Hall Days Lincecum gets.)

65 - Chris Narveson (RC) (Chris Narveson started a game that my girlfriend and I attended late in the 2006 season in Houston. It would be Narveson's only career start. He hasn't made it back to the majors since and is now a reliever in the Brewers farm system. This card is the short printed "yellow name" variation, which is cool because I didn't own it previously.)
343 - Chad Santos (No idea who he is. He must be good friends with Todd Greene.)
387 - Aaron Rowand

18 - Josh Beckett (If you've been paying attention to the young baseball season, you probably saw Beckett throw at Bobby Abreu on Sunday. Yeah, it sucks when time is called during a pitcher's windup, but he obviously threw over Abreu's head on purpose, which makes him a bit of a jerk in my book. Of course, he didn't throw AT his head- that would be a whole new level of jerkitude.)

Pack 2:
74 - Juan Uribe

182 - Jeremy Hermida (The contemplative baseball player.)
255 - Johan Santana

231 - John Nelson (RC) (John Nelson was also a bit player in the 2006 championship season. The drawing - and it's clearly a drawing - of the hat is so off that Nelson may as well have made it himself. Plus, I guess he just felt like wearing a red shirt instead of a proper uniform. This card is also a short print, which is good news for me.)

MHRC11 - Mickey Mantle Home Run Champion Home Run Number 11
126 - Michael Cuddyer
279 - Kevin Millar
423 - Roy Oswalt (The Cards roughed up Oswalt a bit over the weekend. Can't complain about that at all...)

Pack 3:
376 - Bill Bray

305 - A.J. Burnett (Burnett is hoping he doesn't draw the short straw in the Which Yankee Starter Will Hit the DL First sweepstakes.)
322 - Josh Willingham
293 - Ryan Garko (This is also a short print, surprisingly enough.)
MHRC37 - Mickey Mantle Home Run Champion Home Run Number 37

217 - Mark Mulder (Mulder makes 3 Cardinals in 3 packs, which is nice. As much as a like to chuckle at the expense of big time player's careers gone awry like Mark Prior's, I get pretty upset thinking about Mark Mulder. Mulder's career died sometime during that bizarre and amazing 2006 season. The guy is still only 31 years old and only a handful of years ago was considered one of the top lefty starters in the game. I got pretty excited about his last two comeback attempts, but at this point it seems unlikely that he'll ever pitch in the majors again.)

360 - Mark Teixeira (Teixeira is getting paid 5-star money but is probably only worthy of a 4-star rating.)
172 - Eric Milton

When I do start buying cards again, I am hoping that the current economic climate will provide me with more opportunities to buy Heritage packs for $1.


night owl said...

Personally, I love Beckett (the pitcher, not the magazine).

The game has been skewed so much in favor of the batter, that the pitchers don't have much now: Umpires don't call high strikes, they let batters take time whenever they want, pitchers can't pitch inside for fear of someone getting uppity, etc. It's time for some of the pitchers to start taking charge.

If Bob Gibson did that, no one would have said a thing. Well, they certainly wouldn't have cleared the benches anyway.

madding said...

I'm just tired of anything to do with the Red Sox. And Beckett was taking his frustration out on the wrong person. The umpire should never grant a timeout in that situation. I guess you can't really throw over an umpire's head, though.

Erin said...

I cannot fathom how anyone could ever defend throwing at someone's head. I don't care if it's above the head vs. barely missing it -- it's intentional and uncalled for. If you want to make a statement, make it some other way. There's NO reason to create a dangerous situation.

If I was a manager and my pitcher did that, he'd be immediately yanked from the game. And I know I am far from alone in that.

In terms of Beckett, the statement he was trying to make failed miserably as the umpire granted the timeout. Why didn't he throw at the umpire? Would have made more sense. But we all know why he didn't do that ...

Erin said...

Also, I don't look at it as the game is "skewed in favor of the batter" ... I think it's being responsible. - Don't throw the ball at people's heads.
- Don't throw the ball over people's heads.
That seems pretty easy to do and not much, if really anything, to ask for.

As for calling time, Abreu shouldn't have had his request granted. Blame that particular umpire, as they wouldn't all have done it.

If a pitcher is afraid to pitch inside (certainly not all of them are) that's their own issue to deal with. A typical batter will know the difference between getting hit by a pitch accidentally vs. intentionally. I can't imagine being fearful makes one a good pitcher, anyway.

How should the pitchers "start taking charge" .. ? To act like Beckett?? Surely, you're not serious.

night owl said...

I'm not defending anyone throwing at anyone's head. When did I say that?

I can't even tell if Beckett actually intended to throw at Abreu's head. It's certainly possible, but I can't tell for sure. I don't know how anyone else can say so for certainty. If Beckett intended to throw at Abreu's head, then, yeah, he deserves everything he gets. But how is anyone going to determine that with 100 percent certainty?

And some pitchers are afraid to pitch inside because some batters get bent out of shape and charge the mound, some with BATS in their hands. That's a dangerous situation, too. Batters are constantly interpreting pitches as intentional brush backs even when it's obvious that they are not. And creating a brawl when there didn't need to be any. It drives me crazy. I would hope a typical batter would know what's intentional and what's not. But, man, I can count numerous cases when they did not know. I see a brawl and I think, why in the world did that happen? And we all know how many players have been hurt in brawls.

I'm not saying pitchers need to throw at batters heads. But they need to throw inside. And sometimes throwing inside means that a pitch might get away and hit someone, in the hip, in the back, in the leg, etc. And instead of every freaking batter interpreting that as INTENTIONAL, they should realize that it's part of the game and if pitchers can't pitch inside then pitchers will not be successful, because batters have complete ownership of the plate. ERAs have gone up over the decades for numerous reasons, but that's one of them.

A number of pitchers from the '60s and '70s and '80s have commented on this. They know the relationship between the pitcher and the batter has completely changed in this regard. Some of those pitchers have said it's necessary to intentionally hit a player once in awhile. I won't go that far, but hitting a player accidentally while pitching inside will happen. Some fans say it was better when Gibson and Drysdale were knocking batters down. I don't know if that's the case, but I know there's a school of thought on that.

I have watched the game for awhile now, and there has definitely been a change in this area. There weren't nearly the number of brawls over hit batters 25 or more years ago. I noticed a definite change in this in the late '80s/early '90s. (Billy Hatcher flipping out rings a bell for some reason).

Again, pitching at someone's head, not cool. But more hitters need to realize that inside pitches are necessary.

Sorry, this is so long, but I want people to know that I don't advocate pitches at the head, but I do want pitchers to be able to pitch.

night owl said...

Whoops. It wasn't Billy Hatcher. It was Reggie Sanders.

Erin said...

A late response that most likely will never be read, but family matters take precedence over blog reading.

Never did I say you advocated throwing at the head, but you defended Beckett. In my mind, he threw at the head. We can debate all day over whether he threw at the head or not. He says that pitch "could have gone anywhere" which is entirely frightening to me. There is no reason that ball needed to be thrown so close and for it to "have gone anywhere" is absurd. I realize pitchers need to finish their motion (if they are in the process of throwing, which I do not think Beckett was, truly) but why on EARTH are you throwing it where your catcher is not even set up?!

You talk about batters charging the mound. This is more of an anomaly than the norm. A batter might get pissed, but rare is it that they storm the mound. I find it hard to accept pitchers are not throwing inside because they do not want a batter to charge the mound.

The only time I would understand a pitcher to be truly afraid to throw inside is when benches have been warned by the umpires.

In terms of pitchers intentionally hitting batters, I think it's a silly practice. You want to send a message, there's a better way -- show them up by winning.

I watched Carlos Marmol hit Albert Pujols with a pitch today. Holy hell, I can't imagine what that felt like. Albert, like most players, simply took his base. And Marmol? Didn't stop throwing inside.

The game has changed. Will continue to change. Everything changes. You roll with it or get stuck in the past.

night owl said...

I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree because there are a few things you wrote there that I disagree with (obviously). But I hate going around in circles. I do it enough in my job.

Erin said...

You think you'd be going around in circles? That makes me think you believe I am not paying attention to your point of view. (Thus, you'd merely be repeating yourself.) However, that's just not true. I AM listening. See:

- I DO believe you don't advocate throwing at the head.

- I think Beckett threw an irresponsible pitch, regardless of its intention. You are not sure whether he threw intentionally at the head or not and give him the benefit of the doubt.

- We disagree about pitchers being afraid to throw inside. While I am sure some are, I have yet to be convinced this is a widespread problem.

- We disagree about the instances of charging the mound. You think it happens much too often, where I see it more as an anomaly.

- I think throwing at people intentionally is silly. I'm not sure where you stand on this, exactly. I do not condemn it, though. I just prefer a more proactive approach that will actually mean something in the end.

- Both of us mention the game changing. You have expressed a resistance to this, whereas I appear more okay with it.

I am SURE anyone reading all of this will side with you. (including this blog's owner) Thanks for taking me seriously enough to reply so many times, though. Really, I mean it.

night owl said...

You pretty much summed it, Erin.

Thanks for listening.

~ Greg