Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fill my eyes...there's no disguise...

Why is it that whenever I purchase some retail packs (remind me again, why'd I put myself through this once more?) I always meet the same doom.


And I'm not talking one pair of doubles, I'm talking multiple pairs. It's almost as if the card companies think that I build one set for myself, and another to sell everytime I buy cards. The bastardos.

2009 Upper Deck First Edition

I bought two packs (total of 20 cards) for a grand total of $1.98 + tax at the local Target. Here are the spoils:


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It was an accident!

That's what Pirates' pitcher Jeff Karstens said after last night's game. In the 3rd inning, Karstens drilled Braun in the back with a fastball - two innings after Braun hit a solo homer off the right-hander. Later in the game, Braun would draw a walk (this time, not from a fastball in the back), and took nearly 15 seconds to make his way to 1st base. That's my boy. Of course, both sides were warned and no retribution was made during the game.

The fun part about all of this doesn't occur until tonight during Brewers batting practice before game 2 of the Pittsburgh series in Milwaukee. I guess Braun still hadn't seen a replay of the hit-by-pitch until this afternoon, and as mad as he sounded last night after the game, didn't compare to this afternoon. Though he knew last night's beaning was intentional, today he sounded convinced that it wasn't Karstens, but Pittsburgh manager John Russell's idea to hit the left fielder on his first at bat following the first-inning homer. The fact that Karstens wouldn't even look at Brauny after it happened, kind of backs up this idea. Interesting...

Unfortunately, Braun also made a mistake of his own tonight - sending a sort of "message" to the MLB Commissioner's office. From Brewers beat reporter Tom Haudricort...

"Issuing a not-so-wise warning to the commissioner’s office, Braun added, “We play them about 17 more times (actually 13). Tell Mr. Selig, we’ll see what happens. It’s going to be interesting.”

, Brauny. Now you have the Pirates and the league office pissed at you.

Generosity of Dinged Corners

Our favorite desert baseball flowers from Dinged Corners were kind enough to think of me when they came across some Brewers cards in a recent '09 Topps Heritage purchase they made. Well, the first one I kind of asked for - but along with that, they included three other cards of beautiful wonderment. Thanks to Patricia and Lucy for these!

2009 Topps Heritage #121 Angel Salome RC
I have said before that I like the 1960 choice for Topps Heritage this year, but the orange of this card really bothers me. And not "bothers me" as in a good "bothers me", but a sort of nagging annoyance, kind of like the thumping bass of some kid's little honda down the street. You can't hear the music, but you can hear this faint, annoying bass thump. It's kind of like that. But this card is beautiful, what with the pint-sized Catcher showing his a still photo. Anyhow, he's third in line to take over the catching job in Milwaukee whenever Jason Kendall decides to hang 'em up. I have a feeling this guy will be ahead of Wisconsin native Vinny Rottino, though, should he stay healthy.

2009 Topps Heritage #NAP10 Ryan Braun
Not only a great Brewers card, but also a card I can take off my Ryan Braun wantlist now. Good stuff, here. Last night he had another homer in our 10-5 victory over the Pirates. He's also the newest member of the Pawtucket Patriots fantasy baseball club. I had to trade catcher Joe Mauer to get him, but with Mauer still on the DL and my other catcher Jason Veritek at least holding his own in points, I thought it a smart move.

2008 Bowman Chrome First #BCP38 Mike Brantley

So, you've heard about that "player to be named later", haven't you? Well, here he is folks. Mr. Michael Brantley. In last year's trade between the Brewers and the Tribe that sent CC Sabathia to Milwaukee, the main player sent to Cleveland was Brewers top prospect Matt LaPorta. Also were a couple other prospects, and then in October Mike Brantley was named as the final piece of the trade. He's a hell of a ball player, and I'm sure he'll be seeing some time w/ the Tribe soon. Right now's he's up in AAA Columbus, and not on the 40-man roster for the big league club. Give it time, kiddo.

1991 O-Pee-Chee Premier #131 Robin Yount

In the Yount binder already, but what a great card. In 1991 (photo most likely from 1990) Yount had already been in the majors for 16 seasons, but look at that quick first step...he had that until he played his final game. God blessed him with great health, and he worked hard to stay in shape (enter enhibit A, his forearms). And everyone enjoys a great Canadian card every once in a while. Haha, Yount is a voltigeur.

Thanks again for the fine cards, gals.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fantasy Baseball: Pawtucket Patriots

My 2009 Fantasy Baseball team is the "Pawtucket Patriots", lovingly named of course after the fictional beer in the show "Family Guy". I hate the real Patriots, and most things New England, but I thought this was my most clever name for a fantasy team yet.

Anyhow, as the league manager it of course makes all the sense in the world that the lottery for the draft day position would deliver me the #8 of 8 teams. Glorious. My team isn't too bad, though.

Here are the inaugural season uniforms of the Pawtucket Patriots, with home, road, and home alternate uniforms included.

I have also gotten a hold of the starting lineup sheet for tonight's (this week's) matchup against The Red Hots. To my advantage, The Red Hots are surprisingly not starting anyone at 3rd base this week...which should help. Truth be told, last week I played the Remington Rebels (who themselves decided not to start a second baseman, and they still beat me). After that, I had to make a few roster changes. Here's tonight's lineup...

Tonight's game is brought to you in part by Pawtucket Patriot Ale.

Stephen Drew...Fantasy Nightmare

A-Rod is still not healthy, and occupying a nice spot on my DL. My #1 overall pick of the draft hasn't played a game yet. Rather than spend 2 early picks on the left side of my infield, I waited until later to get a SS/3B that would fill the roster until A-Rod returned. That pick was the 84th overall selection...Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew.

He was placed on the DL yesterday, retroactive to Saturday. Why the D-backs waited so long to do so baffles me - and pisses me off as well. In the only 9 trips he made to the plate last week (not playing because he was injured...but of course NOT on the DL) he managed 1 hit, and scored me only 3 points.

Now, the reason I need A-Rod back is not only the points he will earn, but his starting spot is 3rd base - which means I can then move Brandon Inge to Catcher (yes, he's also a catcher) and finally get Veritek on the friggin bench. My #5 overall pick of the draft was Twins C Joe Mauer - also still on the DL. Sonofa.

I'm not a member of the Blogger fantasy league, but I do like that they have uniforms and such. I think I'll work on those today, it's a slow monday at work.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

2009 Upper Deck Artifacts

A friend of mine had sent me the link on facebook for the new "music video" from The Lonely Island (oddball brainchild musical group of Saturday Night Live favorite Andy Samberg) entitled "I'm On A Boat" featuring hip-hop artist T-Pain. If you've not seen their work, I encourage you to watch this and this. I'll wait, trust me it's worth it. WARNING: ADULT CONTENT - EXPLICIT LYRICS AND SUGGESTIVE CONTENT.

Also, if you haven't seen the movie "Hot Rod", I recommend that as well. It's from the same guys, except on the big screen and plus Danny McBride - who is badassly funny.

So - what does all of this have to do with BASEBALL??? Well, after watching the music video for "I'm on a Boat", i had to go to the store to pick up their debut CD, which has all of these songs, plus a lot of Adam Sandler-esque comedy skits on it. While I was there, I thought I'd take the opportunity to check out their baseball cards, as I haven't purchased any new cards in quite a while, probably a couple months.

I picked up a few packs of 2009 Upper Deck First Edition, which still confuses me as the most poorly named annual baseball card series, because it comes out AFTER Series 1 does. I don't get it. I'll post those in a couple days. I also picked up a pack of 2009 Upper Deck Artifacts, at $2.99 it was just a retail pack. I wanted to get the blaster, but figured if I just got a taste of it, and a few packs of the First Edition, I could also treat the wife to lunch at our favorite Mexican place for the same price as 1 blaster of the stuff. Turns out, I was right and the Tacos Tijuana I ordered were just amazing. Carne Asada, good stuff.

Here are the modest 5 cards in the $2.99 retail pack of '09 UD Artifacts I bought.

#4 Adam Dunn

Adam Dunn now plays for the Washington Nationals, not the D-backs. WTF, Upper Deck? These cards say "copyright (symbol) 2009" on them. Confusion, perhaps? Maybe they were printed before February 11th, when the Dunn/Nationals deal was announced to the press. My guess is Upper Deck just doesn't take the necessary effort, per the usual.

#37 Dan Uggla (red variation)

I like Dan Uggla - he helped my fantasy team to the playoffs last season, where I lost in the World Series to my sister-in-law. Yes, that's right, the woman that married my brother. I can hear your boos and hisses now. She had the best pitching staff possible, so I was sure to invite her last this year to the fantasy league to insure she'd be in the opposite division as me. I'm a schemer. Anyhow, back to the Uggla card. Like the "red" (pink) variation, I'm sure there's a better shad of "red" that UD could have found. This guy is all business, and he shows it here.

#193 "Voyager 2 Records Neptune" Historical Moments

I'm not sure how I feel about this one. I think Heritage does enough for the card collecting public in the areas of History and Nostalgia. Dumb card, and apparently worth $0.60 according to the price of the pack. I could have a soda at work tomorrow for that price. Instead I'm stuck with a "baseball" card of a satellite.

#904 UD 20th Anniversary Retrospective "Dallas Cowboys"

This is a card of a football team. In a pack of baseball cards. I don't collect football cards, I collect baseball cards. Therefore, I only purchase baseball cards and not football cards. I want my money back, Upper Deck.

The fifth card was #20 Rich Harden, but he plays for the team that shall not be named nor pictured in this blog.

All in all, I'd say this 5-card offering from Upper Deck Artifacts was quite weak, but it's just a small cross section of the set that I'm not afforded enough of an experience to come up with an offical decision. I like the cards, The look is very regal and official, and forced me to order the Ryan Braun card on eBay already. I like this set a lot, just bummed about the pack I came away with. That $2.99 could have paid for the 3 beers I had today while watching the Brewers lose to the Astros - the 3 beers that helped me come even closer to trading Rickie Weeks myself, saving the Brewers organization the embarassment of having wasted so many years on a horrible second baseman.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dental Hot Dam(n)!

I of course am referring to our resident dental expert, Motherscratcher from Achiever Card Blog. I am also making a reference to the movie "Knocked Up", when Seth Rogan and Katherine Heigl (mmmm) are talking about how she could have become pregnant...hilarious. Anyways, I'll try to keep this at least PG-13. If you don't know what I'm talking about, ask your parents.

Motherscratcher and myself have a bit of a love-hate relationship. I love Craig Counsell, and he hates all things Counsell. He is absolutely justified in his feelings - however misdirected they may be. I told him to hate Edgar Renteria instead, Counsell was merely the winning run, not the walk-off hitter. Oh well. So you see, it's love hate.

I recently read his post that addressed why one should post an "appreciation" write-up immediately after receiving a brick of cards from someone, not a couple months later. I chose the later, posting this nearly 2 months after receiving his cards. See man, I do appreciate it! Thanks again Motherscratcher, D.D.S. - man, that's a great title for an early 90's sitcom. Screw NPH, I want Kramer!
Ryan Braun, 2008 UD Heroes #97 (307/399)
Awesome card here. This is a curious set for me. I purchased a couple blasters of it earlier this year at a discounted price from the local K-mart. I guess sometimes my dedication to the craft is less than perfect - this is a prime example. I reallized that there are a number of different variations (blue, aqua, red, purple, charcoal, etc) and I didn't want to start collecting the Brauns until I had received one from someone. This started the ball rolling. I'm bidding on the rest on eBay right now. Help me out a bit, if you have any of the other colors, let me know!

'98 Score Select #22 Robin Yount, #42 Paul Molitor

This Yount is one of only 3 Younts that I don't have (in the base set 1975-1994 Yount binder) so first of all, KICK ASS! Now I just need the '93 Flair Yount, and of course, the big Kahuna, 1975 Topps Yount RC. I have been waiting to buy his rookie card because it will be a big celebration for me, completing the "major sets base card Yount set". Of course, all the oddballs like the '94 Tombstone Pizza card or the '76 Hostess panel will keep me working at this forever, not to mention all the posthumous Yount cards that Upper Deck and SP feel the need to make year after year.

1988 Fleer #171 Dan Plesac, 2004 Topps Cracker Jack #162 Wes Helms

What can I say that hasn't been said about Plesac already? It's all been said. I think for some reason, people fail to look past his semi-respectable career stats and into the hearts of Brewers fans - which, thanks to Dan, are still scarred from the games he absolutely boned. In my home growing up, his name was the ONLY name that was never uttered without the preamble of "Dammit!!". Does that make sense? "Dammit, Plesac!". Okay. But seriously, this is a neat card because it's in the category of "American League pitchers holding a bat" cards, which I always enjoy coming across. Those oh-so-clever photogs, man.

The Helms card is my first Brewers Cracker Jack card. Never was a big Wes Helms fan, of course it's hard to cheer for a guy who gives himself a major knee injury during a rain delay. No kidding.

1987 Donruss #486 Bill Schroeder

Aside from San Diego's Mark Grant, "Rock" is possibly the best color commentary guy in baseball. His years of actually usefull experience in the game really add to it, as he not only shares funny stories, but the ins, the outs, and the what have you's of dugout and clubhouse life. The Brewers FSN broadcast each game has a segment called "Tavern of the Game", which of course is sponsored by the Tavern League of Wisconsin. If they are selected during the broadcast, they have until the following morning (because when you're drinking at a bar during a Brewers game, nobody remembers to call in that night) to call in and claim their 30 or 40 free Brewers tickets. Anyhow, Rock seems to have been to every one of the bars that win this contest. A couple days ago the winning bar was "UpChucks" in Arcadia, WI. Good stuff. Rock had fun with that one.

1983 Topps #424 Jerry Augustine
Another former Brewers player that is part of the television broadcast team now. "Auggie" takes the place that Jeff Cirillo had in the studio last year. Even though I live about 1,750 miles from where I grew up, I always feel like I'm at home whenever they put Auggie on the screen. The guys sounds just like everyone I grew up around. I'll attempt to give you an example, bear with me. Here's what it sounds like : "So da Brewers should have da win tanite if dey can close er out wit Coffey an dem." Here's what that means in English: "So, the Brewers should have the win tonight they can close out the ballgame with Coffey and the rest of the bullpen". I love that this guy is on primetime television.
1992 Topps Stadium Club #502 Jim Gantner

I didn't have this card either, so that's the first plus. The second thing I like about this card is how it ties together two different generations of Brewers, in TWO different ways! Stay with me now as I try to explain. You see, Jim Gantner played for Milwaukee for the entirety of his 12 year career. He now manages the Wisconsin Woodchucks of the Northwoods League (an NCAA summer league) in Wausau, Wisconsin. That's the first part. The second "tie" in this card is the first baseman - Cecil Fielder. He of course is the father of current Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder. Nice. I showed this card to my wife, asking her what was so special about it. She said "Oh wow, that's Fatty's dad playing first base!". Yes sweetheart, it is in fact Fatty's dad.

1979 Topps #596 Jim Wohlford

Jim only played for Milwaukee for 3 seasons, and was never what you would call an "All-Star", but he had a great glove - so I'm told. I don't remember him, too young you see. What I do know about him, and what most people don't know about him, is he came up with one of the most famous baseball one-liners of all time - one that is often attributed to Yogi Berra. He was the one who originally said "Ninety percent of this game is half-mental". Sounds just like something Yogi would say, so I understand the confusion. Nice card.

Ernie Riles (1988 Fleer #172, 1988 Donruss #478)

There's a guy who plays for San Francisco right now, Eugenio Valez, who looks just like Riles. I swear, the first time I saw him (last year during a Giants/Brewers game) I thought it WAS Riles. Valez is 6'1'', and only runs about 160 lbs. That's probably when he's soaking wet, with rocks in his pockets. Ernie Riles suffered way too many injuries, but in '85 he finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting, behind Ozzie Guillen and Teddy Higuera. That's heavy company man.

Ned Yost (2006 Upper Deck #1113, 1982 Topps #542)

He even looked like a douchebag in 1982.

1993 Upper Deck Teammates #43 - Paul Molitor, Pat Listach, Robin Yount

Ah, yes. Brew Crew. This card will always be one of my all-time favorite Brewers cards. It is the old guard, and what was at one time the promising new guard - in Pat Listach. He won the '92 AL Rookie of the Year, but only played for 6 seasons in baseball. Last year he managed AAA-Iowa for the f*ckin baby bears organization, but I am pleased to say that this year he is the third base coach for the Washington Nationals. Hells ya, welcome back Pat.

Check out the folks at the game who are forever immortalized in cardboard...

Finally, I want to close this "Thank You" post with a tribute to Motherscratcher, and his appreciation for the Subhelmet Hat Alliance. I give you Mr. Dion James.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Almost a No-No for Bush

I didn't plan on doing back-to-back Dave Bush posts, but things just kinda worked out that way.

Dave Bush took a no-hitter into the 8th inning today as the Brewers battled the Phillies during their rubber match in Philly. With one out, pinch-hitting Matt Stairs (a former Brewer) saw a 3-1 pitch that he liked, and the rest is history. Solo shot.

Amidst the Brewers struggles at the mound, Bush showed Brewers fans once again why he is in the starting rotation. He'd had a pretty rough couple of outings before today's start, but finally receiving some run support (six runs) from his teammates seems to make the difference for Bushy. He finally gets his first decision, a 7 2/3 effort that yielded only one run.

This was the second time Dave Bush had taken a no-hitter into the 8th inning. The last time was June 19th of last season against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The hit that broke up that no-no came off the bat of Lyle Overbay. Another former Brewer. Talk about no love for your former mates.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

TTM Dave Bush

As of late, I find myself being reminded by fellow bloggers (Motherscratcher, and Patricia & Lucy) that the season is young. Some players just have slow starts, that's all. Perhaps these souls are correct, and things will turn around for the Brew Crew. A 4-9 start isn't what I had in mind, but then again, how a season starts most often has no bearing on how it will finish. At this point in the season in 1987, Milwaukee had just been handed it's first loss. Their record on Earth Day that year was 13-1. Two weeks later, they would begin a streak of 12 straight losses. They failed to make the playoffs that year.

Words of encouragement seem to mean a lot more coming from a Cleveland Indians fan, for surely they would know about patience and such. I know of a dentist in Ohio who must be the most patient of baseball fans.

As bad as the Brewers are playing right now, one thing hasn't changed about my outlook on the game: the cards. In fact, even though Milwaukee can't pitch their way out of a wet paper bag, new cards continue to come out, which means more Ryan Braun cards for me to get my hands on. And this I like.

I also like it when CURRENT PLAYERS send back the cards I sent them at the beginning of Spring Training. Today's TTM auto is from Brewers pitcher Dave Bush, whose slow start this season just means that he's wearing a Brewers uniform. Bushy has been Milwaukee's most consistent pitcher over the last 3 seasons, averaging 12 wins per. Of course these stats should mean very little to someone whose team doesn't call the smallest media market in all of baseball home, but to a Brewers fan this means a lot.
Now, if only I had sent a note with the letter I DID send with the card, reminding Bushy to allow the ink to dry before placing the card back in the sleeve. Dammit.
Go Crew.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

****ing Amateurs...

Tonight the pain hurts...too much. I was looking forward to tonight's Brewers v. Phillies game for a few reasons. First of all, the wife and I went camping this past weekend up in Olympic National Forest, and missed all but 3 innings of the Brewers/Mets series. Second of all, 4 days (during the season) without baseball is too much for me to handle. Also, the wife worked during the day today, so our joint trip to the gym was split up into two trips, and her gym fun is right now (during the current Brewers cluster**** that is game 1 vs. Philadelphia)...which means nothing but me, the Brew Crew, and a couple cold ones...

...however, thanks to the Phillies' INSANE lineup (who was Pat Burrell?) and Milwaukee's inability to field a pitcher who can actually perform his duties, the Phil's lead is 11-3 in the 7th inning. We're losing to a guy who is 45 years old. We have brought in our backup catcher. Our second baseman tonight is a current Cubs' castoff. Our shortstop is batting around .100 . Man, this is not fun.

This, however, is the only ray of sunshine on this rainy night in Philly...

Cards from GCRL...Round 1

A couple months ago (geez, i'm getting lazy) Jim over at gcrl was kind enough to send me a shit load of cards. And they were the best kind of cards as well - the free ones! Sometimes I'll feel like a mooch when it comes to others' generous gifts of bricks and bricks of cards - but just as a Cubs card (or hundreds of them) has no place of welcome in my home, I'm sure others are just as easily separated from their Brewers cards.

I cannot possibly thank Jim enough for all the cards he sent. And it's not as if he threw in three different '92 Fleer brewers team sets just because he had the duplicates. Out of all the cards he sent, the only dupes were 3 of the same Dan Plesac card. And so to give him the proper thanks and credit for this most magnanimous gift, I'll have to do at least 3 posts to share all the highlights. Here we go with Round 1 ...

1979 Topps #577 Brewers Checklist

I have always liked the team photo. Maybe it was the old Packer's team photo/wooden plaque I remember seeing at the American Legion as a kid during the friday fish frys that sealed the deal for me, guess you just can't go wrong with them. This one has some fresh faces in it, too -
A young Robin Yount, sans handlebars of course. Too early to bust those out just yet.

Also, a sophomore player named Paul Molitor. What a cutie. And what County Stadium team photo would be complete without the 'ol Chalet and Keg...

Well, just the keg portion. I love how this is centered in the photo, on purpose. Jim also sent me the team card from the following year of 1980 - and once again, the "Go Brewers" on the former 'largest keg in the united states' shown visibly for all to see, right smack dab in the middle of the card. For those of you not familiar w/ the new politically correct Miller Park and its "Bernie's Dugout" instead of the suds-producing chalet and keg slide, you'll be happy to know that efforts have been underway to restore the once proud chalet, keg and mug to it's rightful home - in left center field of Milwaukee's baseball park. Whatever scandal they are trying to keep the little kids from witnessing by seeing a cartoon costumed guy slide down into a mug of beer, is inevitably going to be committed by nothing more than the very team's name - the Brewers. Come on, folks. Who are we kidding? It's a drinking state with a baseball problem, and we all know it. While we're at it, bring back the keg mascot as well.

Jeff Cirillo - 1999 UD Encore #50, 1999 Fleer Ultra #143
Two cards of the former face of the franchise - wow, that was two too many 'f' words there. I think the kids call it "alliteration", not sure though. EM stands for "electrician's mate", not "english major", as a few of my Nuke School instructors were kind enough to remind me whenever I'd try to correct someone's grammar. This coming from a guy who rarely proofreads his blog posts before clicking "publish".
So back to the Cirillo cards. The first one is probably my favorite card of all the ones in the box. It says it all, doesn't it? At least everything from a Brewers fan anywhere in between 1983 and 2007. Caption? Hmm..."Crew let another one go". "Bullpen hands game over again". "Cirillo's bat not enough in Milwaukee". Same old story, year after year. Cirillo looks like it's all finally hitting him - that perhaps his career might just die here. The frustration, the doubt, the sadness. Captured forever in a photograph.

The second card is a great shot - certainly one that could give the inaugural effort from Stadium Club's "high definition photography" a run for its money. You can see the dirt in mid-air, falling away from his arm as he brushes off after a successful run and slide into second base - or, judging from the look on his face - an unsuccessful stolen base attempt. Hang in there, Jeff - the Brewers will never be good during you're stay in Milwaukee. Sorry bro.

Marquis Grissom ('00 Stadium Club #149), Charlie Hayes ('01 Pacific #230)

For some of you, these are two guys you may not have even known played for Milwaukee. Of course, these years were in the middle of 13-consecutive losing seasons enjoyed by the Brewers and their fans, during which time many MANY faces came and went in some attempt to win ballgames. Grissom came to Milwaukee in '98 mostly because the Tribe resigned Kenny Lofton and couldn't afford to keep both guys, but his 3 years as Brewers lent nothing but frustration to his career. In this card, you can see that the Brewers, in an attempt to bring in more fans after the failed "dime beer night" fiasco, started implementing a dance routine during the seventh inning stretch.

Charlie Hayes was a late-spring free agent signing in 2000, a season which brought in future Brewers "slugger" Richie Sexson from the Tribe as well. Hayes split time between 1B and 3B that year, batting just over .250 for the season. At the end of the summer, he was released and signed w/ Houston in 2001 to play his final 1/2 season in the game. This beautiful shot of Charlie shows his proud belly, the sole reason my father liked him as a ballplayer - he was the Brewers' everyman of 2001.

B.J. Surhoff Rookie Cards - '87 Fleer #U-115, '87 Donruss #28

Along with Yount, Molitor, Gantner and Sveum, B.J. Surhoff was a staple for the Brewers during my formative baseball years. This '87 Fleer Update is obviously a product of the intelligent folks at Fleer actually taking time to do their job - something the current Topps and UD employees seem to have, uh, forgotten. The colors match perfectly with the lovely late 80's Brewers threads, and nothing says "Baseball Energy and Excitement" like a guy who is taking bp somewhere at the end of a long road trip, tired from jump flights and crappy hotel beds. At least Donruss got him to smile. Must have been a woman photographer I suspect. These are two awesome cards.

Bill Hall RC ('02 Studio #121), Carlos Villanueva ('08 Topps Update #UH38)

Two current Brewers players, Bill Hall and "CV" as we call Villanueva. Since the original Studio concept came out as a limited "preview" release with the '91 Donruss factory sets (the one and only factory set I've ever reveived as a Christmas gift) I've always been a fan of the cards. This year, along w/ the '93 Studio set, are my two favorites. I am a fan of vibrant color when it comes to baseball cards, and Studio did it without charging an arm and a leg. Bill Hall - well, what's to say about Bill Hall. We owe him for carrying our team for a couple very slow years. I'm not sure if losing record/not making the playoffs qualifies as "carrying" a team, but we'll go with it.

CV is off to a rough start so far during the 2009 campaign, but that can be said of nearly everyone on the team. Maybe they are still hungover from all the Miller Lite that was consumed during the post-game festivities following the September 28, 2008 game last season. If you've seen any of the locker room photographs, I'm sure you'd agree with me. Here's my favorite:

Oh ya...then-interim manager Dale Sveum (in my opinion, the man who should be their friggin full time manager THIS YEAR, not the hitting coach) doing his best to liven the Wild Card-clinching Brewers' locker room mood that night. So, like I said. We're still hungover from last September.

Geoff Jenkings (2000 Bowman Chrome #138)

Diggin the throwback to the old Bowman cards - and a fitting tribute for a guy who TRULY was the face of the franchise for a good number or years in recent Brewers history. I was sad to see him replaced during the season in 2006 by the young newcomer Corey Hart, but that has worked out well for the Brewers. A bad combination of high salary and offensive slumping sent Jenks to the bench, and later to free agency. That worked out well for him, though, as 2008 had him signed with the Phillies as their right fielder, where he would win himself a World Series.

1999 Skybox Thunder (Jeff Cirillo and Rafael Roque)

I only share these cards with you because they are TOTALLY BADASS!!!! I had never seen this series before I opened the box of cards from Jim, but I'm in love! Are they really in a studio? Did they just get done doing some volunteer commercial painting work? Is there airbrushing involved here? You can tell by their foot placements (fake shadows be damned) that these are doctored pictures, but I don't care. I want to invite them over for dinner, pour them a couple tall glasses of wine, and see where it takes us. Simply beautiful.

Corey Hart (2008 Upper Deck X #58), J.J. Hardy (2006 Topps Heritage #87)

I'll finish up the Round 1 gcrl trade appreciation post with two of my favorite players in the game today - Corey "I bought my local Chuck-E-Cheese restaurant so my kids can still go there instead of them closing their doors" Hart and J.J "my wife would leave me for him" Hardy. Corey is batting .279 so far this year, crediting a new approach at the plate thanks to Dale Sveum for his early success this year. J.J., on the other hand, is struggling out of the gate. After a great Spring Training, he's batting only .114 right now, with 10 strikeouts. It's early, though, and the kinks will get worked out.

Thanks again for the cards, Jim. Like I said, I'll have at least two more posts to cover the rest of the cards you sent.

Brewers take on the Phillies today, first time seeing them since the 2008 NLDS in which we stole 1 game from them before losing the series. Hopefully we can win a game 1 or game 2 during a 3-game road series unlike the last two attempts. It's 0-2 Manny Parra against Jamie Moyer, who was a #5 starting pitcher when Moses was still pitching. Geez.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It's Been a Week...

Back from the brief yet celebratory hiatus from the world of blogosphere. Easter has come and gone, along with it my Mother (visiting my wife and I for the first time) and the 13+ hours spent at church during the Easter weekend. Ah, the joys of being Catholic.

Maybe I'm been avoiding this world of blogging, too. Yep. I'm pretty sure I have. You see, I heavily associate my blog with baseball. Rightly so, I think - I write mostly about cards, the Brewers, and the occasional rock-throwing session down at the lanes (which reminds me, this Dude threw a 179 on Saturday, a personal best!). Which also reminds me of something I thought of while researching my TBL card fest entries...The Dude is never shown actually bowling during the entire movie. Sure, when he is revealing the Walter and Donnie the atrocities brought upon him by the rug pissers, he is standing someone close to the ball return, and throughout the movie he is shown carrying a bag which I assume contains a bowling ball, I don't recall him physically hurling one down the lane. Perhaps this has been a well known fact about the movie, and I just never took notice. I tend to do that at times. I just found out yesterday my wife has brown hair.

Anyhow, back to baseball and my avoidance of the blog. I have come to a realization recently, and last night's disgustingly pitiful 6-1 Brewers loss at the hands of the Cincy Reds have only cemented this feeling in my heart: the Brewers aren't nearly as good as I thought they were. I am quite sure a lot of you have been saying this, or thinking this, over the past offseason. Here is how I have come to said conclusion.
  1. We made the playoffs last year largely due to the efforts of a one CC Sabathia. In half a season he garnered just 2 less wins than the team leader, Ben Sheets - who pitched nearly the whole season.
  2. The offseason tends to become a pair of "beer goggles", and the more beer you have (the longer the winter goes on) the better she (the team) looks. And that's a no dog shitter.
  3. I thought Yovani Gallardo was going to dominate now that he's healthy. Wrong. Two outings, 11.2 innings pitched, 9 earned runs, 6 walks, 2 HRs. ERA: 6.94
  4. Jeff Suppan is still bad. The Brewers call it "aiming" pitches, I call it going to Italian Chef culinary school in the offseason: serves up nothing but meatballs, now.
  5. Prince Fielder still can't hit with men on base. Empty bases? He'll hit 50 homers again.
  6. Our shortstop and catcher have a combined .251 average. Combined.
  7. Our most consistent pitcher over the past 3 years (12 wins/year)? Dave Bush. FML.

Yes, we are only 8 games into the season. Yes, I have watched all 8 games and I know that the rust is still there, guys are still getting the kinks out. But last year I made excuses for the team that in all rights never should have made the playoffs - we "earned" the Wild Card spot because the Mets, once again, were unable to close out the season. The season is still very young, though, and who knows what will happen. I guess my lone comfort is knowing just that - it's a young season. The Seattle Mariners are are in 1st place in the AL West, the team that last year was the first team in MLB history to lose over 100 games with a payroll of over $100 million. So I guess anything can happen, and one team's early struggles in no way defines how the season will turn out.

Listen to me, I sound like an Indians fan.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Holy Week...Holy Cards!!...Opening Day (v2.0)

As most of you know, today is Tuesday in what the Christian world refers to as "Holy Week" - the week-long period of time from Palm Sunday until Easter Sunday. As Christians we're called to be especially meditative this week, spending more time in prayer and contemplation over what historically occurred "this week" nearly 2,000 years ago - chiefly, the suffering and death of Jesus. I know, I know - "Get down from the pulpit, Dubbs!"; or, "Dammit! Here goes another crazy Jesus freak talkin about some crap I don't care about. Who does he think he is? What with baseball season just opening, so many spring goings on, and this guy wants to talk about Church? Bosh!"

Well, I share this in hopes that most (if not both) of the readers of this blog understand it's rather "thin" showing as of late. It's just that time of year for me, and this year especially brings with it an added challenge and joy. My wife is converting to Catholicism, and at Easter Vigil Mass (the rather lengthy one the night before Easter) she'll be confirmed. To mark and celebrate the occasion, my mother is flying out here from Wisconsin to Seattle to share the moment, as it were - and to share bathroom for a week as well. And the sofa. And the computer. I am quite sure though, that my Paul Molitor binder is in order, many additions to said binder since my mother last visited. And she is a huge Paul Molitor fan. Well, the Milwaukee years, anyhow. I think she still does does that Italian "spit" thing whenever you mention the Blue Jays. I tried explaining to her that the Brewers pretty much let him walk, that it wasn't Toronto's fault. Oh well.

So her flight arrives in just over 6 hours, and I find myself wide awake at 2:30am. On a week - wait, what day is this? Anyhow, in cleaning up the house for the upcoming visit, I was forced to sit down and catalogue a couple of recent trades that my way came, namely from nightowlcards at present, and a couple others who, in hopes that should I not mention their names, perhaps will permit me to postpone yet even more appreciation posts for the time being, shall remain nameless.

It's in this light that I share some cards with you that the gracious and, perhaps, "time-to-kill" friendly neighborhood late-night card junkie over at Night Owl Cards. A while ago, his wife had tipped him off to some bags of old baseball cards at the dollar store - his booty was about 10 bags of early to mid 80's fleer cards, some basketball, like, and such as. I sent him a check for 10 bags of my own, and some change to cover shipping (which I'm sure he foot the bill for, and so the Dodger pile has already started growing again) and a few weeks later in two installments, I myself became the proud owner of roughly 450 or so early and mid 80's fleer, some pesky '91 Nolan Ryan pacific cards, as well as some carefully inserted hoops cards from the era when white guys could jump. Here are some of the highlights from the lot.

1985 Fleer #588 Paul Molitor
Not a member of my binder -and so this card immediately found a new 3-ring home within a matter of seconds. Just look at that spry, young third baseman. You can tell he's not wasting his time, dreaming of days when his Brewers would be playing the only "Opening Day" game scheduled after opening day. Geez.

1985 Topps Glossy All-Star #5 Robin Yount
This one was also on my list of "not-yet-purchased" Yount cards, so I gave this one too a welcome home in a binder. By this time in his career, he was already a seasoned veteran. But he still had 10 years to play, yet, and a 3,000 hits milestone to reach. As my father would say "You know Phil, they just don't make 'em like him anymore". Indeed.

Cecil Cooper - 1983, 1984, 1985 Fleer
Coop was a Milwaukee fan's staple, meat-and-potatoes player for many years. Maybe I like him because he began losing his hair around the same age I did. Or maybe it's because he's a great man.

1983 Fleer #48 Gorman Thomas
Here we see "Stormin Gorman" doing his best Charles Manson impression. I never knew that he was from Charleston, SC - my wife's hometown. Perhaps, also, the birthplace of Helter Skelter. This card totally creeps me out.

1985 Fleer #28 Bobby Brown, #16 Aurelio Lopez
Yes, THE Bobby Brown. Not of Whitney and Bobby fame, though, but of San Diego Padres fame.

As for the Lopez card. Here's how I approached this one. Imagine yourself staring through the glass at a police lineup of say, 10 people. I ask you to pick out the one who is NOT a baseball player. I don't care if there are 10, or 5, hell even 2 guys standing in the lineup. Aurelio is the one you're going to pick every time. What about this guy says baseball to you?

1983 Fleer #566 Bucky Dent, #544 Brian Giles
Yes, THE Bucky Dent. And yes, THE Brian Giles. I love the Rangers cards from this set - this was before my card-colleting days, so the old "TR" Rangers logo was something I'd never seen before. I like it! Let's get back to that, folks! Better than the "T" logo, and better than the star logo. And I bet you didn't know Giles has been in the league as long as he has, did you?! He now calls San Diego home, but he can still crush the ball - you hangie, he bangie.

1985 Fleer #70 Steve Trout, #44 Eric Show
I don't know what I like better about the Trout card: his hair, his glasses, or his name. I could get behind a guy named Trout, for sure! "Come on, Trout! Hit it outta here!" or "Give 'em hell, Trout!". The hair. The glasses. The poly. Man, who says the 80's weren't about excess.

I know you've heard of the Randy Johnson Marlboro card, but what about the Eric Show Marlboro card? Now you have!

1991 Pacific Nolan Ryan #200 "Don't Mess With Texas"
I still don't understand this card set, to be truly honest with you. I mean, I have a whole bunch, I remember them being something or a rarity when I was a kid collecting cards, but really? Did he help subsidize this project, or did Pacific Trading bring it to him? Kinda weird to me. Nothing weird about this card, though. This card SCREAMS "Badassness". I mean, come on people! You don't mess with Texas! When I hear that, I always think of Will Ferrel's impression of President Bush, saying that. That's all I got.

Hope you enjoyed these cards, I sure did. It's always nice to dive into the early 80's cards, and for me, it was fun. I never had any of these older fleer cards when I was a kid, it was strictly Topps and Donruss for us (and the occasional Score pack). So thanks to our late night friend in New York for these great cards, and for going through the trouble of picking them up and shipping them out to me.

Last but not least, Opening Day. Or Opening Day Part Two. Before yesteday's PPD games in Chicago and Boston, my Brewers' opening day game in San Francisco was to be the only game (except for Sunday's Braves/Phils game) NOT to be played on Opening Day. WTF? I looked into it a little bit. Aparently, the fine folks in San Fran wanted to play the game not on the league-scheduled day (Monday), but on Tuesday, to allow for the Giants to play one more exhibition game at AT&T before the season started. So, the Brewers and Giants waste a beautiful, sunny Monday afternoon. Today's San Francisco weather forecast instead? Rain. You know folks, the league schedules Monday as opening day to create a built-in makeup day. Tuesday. Just in case of rain or cold. So way to go, guys at the league office. Forcing the Brewers to work out for two days, after a 36-game spring, just to stay busy before the opener. Then it's 3 games against the Giants, a 3am flight back to Milwaukee (5am CDT) for a Friday night home opener in Milwaukee. I hope we destroy the crap outta Lincecum today. Opening Day!

That's about it for me, folks. I should be back after Easter some time, so see you in a week! Go Crew, and welcome back baseball!