Saturday, January 31, 2009

I Give You...2009 Topps Series 1

I was going to wait for another week before did a 2009 Topps post, because my hobby box will arrive here a week from Monday or so, but today as my wife and I were shopping at Target the card section caught my eye as usual (they have this evil strategy about putting them near the checkout, and so baseball cards have become to me what the Snickers, Pepsi and tabloid magazines are to the overweight middle-aged woman going home to discuss Brangelina with her cats).  And so the first pack of the 2009 season has made its way into my living room, as we are only 13 days from pitchers and catchers reporting to Phoenix for Brewers camp...I give you the first pack of 2009 Topps.

#TTT14 CC Sabathia

Alright, I know it's not an official "card", but I had to introduce this beautiful Sabathia because it's currently the only 2009 Brewers card I own (until that hobby box gets here).  As a fool I attempted to throw this card into my binder at and got this when I entered the code...

Damn you, Topps! You're killing me! Raining on my happy little baseball card parade, how dare you!  Maybe I'll be able to...okay I'm over it.

#41 Mike Mussina

Is it just me, or did I miss something here? I'm pretty sure he retired. Let me google this really quick, hold on a sec...........yep, November 20th of last year he announced it. In a press conference. In public. There were pictures taken, I have proof!  Thanks Topps. 

#290 Albert Pujols

Love this photo, I guess Albert took a page from Bill Buckner's book of playing first base (although an injured Buckner shouldn't have been on the field during that infamous world series game in 1986).  Let's zoom in a little bit...

Nice! I feel like I'm a part of the action. I say no more to your silly Spring Training photos, clearly staged with bat resting neatly on the shoulder. Give me your tongues hanging out, and your, um...

...obtuse-angle shaped protective cups?

#100 David Wright
#164 Bob Geren (I love the Manager card)
#2 Omar Vizquel (as a SF Giant, though he just signed a minor league deal w/ the Rangers)
#323 Vicente Padilla

#TR4 Alex Rios

(Target-exclusive insert)

#57 Jo-Jo Reyes
#199 Ramon Castro
#166 Jeff Baker

#330 Daisuke Matsuzaka

All in all, not a bad pack, I guess I just wanted to snag some 2009 cards in hopes of getting a Brewer or two to hold in my death-grip clutches until that box arrives in a week or so. 

But did they really need to put A-Rod on the packaging for series 1? How about some real inspiration for the kiddies, like Josh Hamilton or something. That guy's got a helluva story to tell, and one that many should hear.  

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Your Support is Appreciated!

There are only 14 days left until pitchers and catchers report to Phoenix, AZ for Brewers spring camp...adding to the excitement is the consolation of knowing that Eric Gagne will not be one of them.

The recent wave of 2009 budget cuts has affected my card collecting more drastically than anticipated, and coupled with the entire LACK of trades recieved thus far in '09 I've been forced take a page from Jerry Lewis' book of fundraising (i mean, card-raising?) If you enjoy reading this blog and would like to continue to enjoy our educational, informative, and entertaining programming, consider donating to the "Cheese and Beer 2009 Card-a-thon".  I'll trade you some Angels, Royals, Astros or Mariners cards (or any team for that matter)  for any cards showcasing my beloved Brewers. If you are interested, just leave a comment and I'll get in touch with you soon! 

Until then, you'll be forced to sit through hours and hours of mindless, low-budget entertainment periodically interrupted by celebrity requests for further support and this case, I'll be forced to dig deep into the vault for some true gems in painful, one-at-a-time fashion. So pick up those phones, and make your pledge today.

2001 Bowman Draft Pick #BDP96 Mike Jones

 Something immediately jumped out at me with this card, and I'll give you a quick second to figure it out...

Get it? Well, just in case you are a bit slow, or sleepy-eyed, I'll help you out. You see, this card lacks the facsimile autograph that traditionally graces this series of card. In my OCD world this will just not do, so I am immediately sending this card in the mail in hopes that a TTM auto will complete it. 

Not only do baseball cards give us something to barter with, becoming somewhat of a currency among young boys, but they also allow us to expand the mind, feed the monkey of knowledge from time to time.  In this case, it was no coincidence that I happened upon this card last night while searching for today's blog fodder.  I was meant to find it - for the story I am about to tell you will reveal to the world, should it not shake you at your core, that you are not truly human.

Mike Jones (of Phoenix Arizona fame, not of "281-330-8004" fame) was a standout pitcher in high school, and was named to the 2001 AllUSA Baseball Team by USA Today. Who else was on this list? You may have heard a few of the names: Joe Mauer, Cretin-Derham Hall, St. Paul MN. David Wright,  Hickory High School, Chesepeake VA.  Casey Kotchman, Seminole High School, Seminole FL.  J.J. Hardy, Sabino High School, Tucson AZ. Gavin Floyd, Mount St. Joseph High School, Baltimore MD. (Previous teams' members included Josh Hamilton, Mark Texeira, Laynce Nix, Corey Patterson,  and Matt Holliday, among others).

Mike Jones never went to college - though he planned on attending Arizona State to play baseball, he was drafted right out of high school by Milwaukee and began his career playing for the then-Rookie ball affiliate Ogden Raptors. In 2002 he was bumped up to low A ball in Beloit where he pitched for the Snappers, posting a 3.13 ERA.  The Brewers then moved him up to AA Huntsville, and he went 7-2 with a 2.41 ERA in 2003.  Jones pitched in Huntsville for 2004 as well, but was sidelined later in the season and had major shoulder surgery. Recovery from this surgery kept him out for the entire 2005 season. In 2006, Milwaukee started him out in A+ ball down at Brevard County. During that summer he was on and off the DL for his shoulder, both in A+ and AA ball at Huntsville.  He began to have problems with his pitching elbow, and in 2007, after 6 starts for Huntsville, he and the Brewers elected to get him in for Tommy John surgery in June.  

Following the 2007 season, Jones was designated for assignment, finding himself truly "munsoned" as the Brewers attempted to free up some room on their 40-man roster for catcher Eric Munson, recently acquired from Houston. Milwaukee would end up signing Jones to a 1-year minor league contract a week later.

Jones pitched for Brevard County and ended the season in Huntsville last year. The Brewers still have a lot of hope for this prospect, should his shoulder and elbow stay healthy this year he'll find his way through the minor league season and perhaps find himself an invite to big league Spring Training next year. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

And Then They Were Brewers: Mike Cameron

Almost 1 year ago the Brewers signed free agent Mike Cameron to a 1-year deal, with a club option for a second year. Although he was suspended for 25 games at the beginning of the 2008 campaign for testing positive for a banned substance a second time, he still had a great season as the Brewers' center fielder. I don't know if you've ever had the opportunity to see him play, but the ground this guy covers is amazing. He is 36 years old but still has amazing speed out in the field. I'm not sure if it's the long season or his age finally getting to him, but it wasn't until September that it became a question of whether or not Cammy was going to be able to run down a gapper. At Miller Park in Milwaukee, these "gappers" are especially dangerous because the outfield wall lacks any sharp protrusions or corners that would help a ball careen off the wall and help out a fielder. Now if we could only work on those strikeouts...

Anyhow, I decided to celebrate those players who find their way into the clubhouse at 1 Brewers Way in Milwaukee after what sometimes is quite a long road, or in some cases, just an odd one. Here's a look at how Cammy found his way to Milwaukee.

Chicago White Sox (1995-1998)
1998 Pinnacle Inside #46

Cameron began his MLB career in the not-so-great city of Chicago, playing for the southsiders in 1995. He wouldn't become the starting center fielder until 1997. Once in a minor league game for the Sox he took a ball to the eye socket, nearly losing his sight and ending his playing career.

Cincinnati Reds (1999)

2000 Pacific Crown Collection #66Cameron was traded to Cincinnatti in 1998 for first baseman Paul Konerko.

Seattle Mariners (2000-2003)

2003 Topps #129 , 2003 Topps Opening Day #111

Before the 2000 season, the Reds traded Cameron and a couple other players to Seattle for Ken Griffey Jr. It must be nice financially sound enough in nest egg to be able to turn down a $148 million contract as Griffey did that year. Guess he wanted out of Seattle really bad.

The guy who took this picture must have died in 2003, because the folks at Topps felt some sort of obligation to honor him by using his photo - apparently, the product of the only game the Mariners allowed the Topps photographers into - twice. Of all the lousy ways to save a buck...
New York Mets (2004-2005)
San Diego Padres (2006-2007)

2006 Fleer #212In trying to find a card that had Mike Cameron in a Mets uniform, I came across this bad boy. For brevity's sake, I'll use this one and perform the "two-fer". In July of 2007 my submarine pulled into San Diego for a few days and I was able to watch then-Padre Greg Maddux pitch against his former team.

And finally, Mike Cameron found his way to Milwaukee.

Reportedly, Cameron was instrumental in luring C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee last summer, so I have him to thank for that. This winter when his name was circling around as being trade fodder for some Yankees pitching I was bummed out, but happy to hear that he will be in a Brewers uniform once again this season. Cammy hit 25 homers in only 120 games, so if he stays healthy (and avoids any more "tainted" suplements) here's hoping he is able to do even more w/ an availbale 162 (not 137) games in 2009!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

And on the Seventh Day...

...God created baseball cards. And He saw that they were good.

My latest ebay treasure.

2008 SP Legendary Cuts Generations Dual Memorabilia #MB

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Life Before the Strike #15

I have noticed that traffic to my blog has gone up slightly, and in trying to figure out why (since there has been only 1 confirmed reader, thank you Motherscratcher for you support) I realized that back during the summer olympics I had a "Olympic Girl of the Day" running thread, and one of the athletes I featured was Ana Ivanovic. Well, she was recently upset in the Australian Open yesterday and I have found that in running a quick google image search for her, my blog pops up. I was all excited to have another reader or two, but quickly realized that the baseball card market in the countries of Estonia and the Netherlands isn't what it is here.

At any rate, while I wait for some more ebay cards to arrive, here are a few cards that will hopefully show those eastern Europeans what card collecting is all about.

2003 Donruss Team Heroes #310 Andres Galarraga

Looks like Andres is trying to take care of business AND take care of the baserunner...

I don't have photoshop, but about an hour or so using MS Paint and a beer later, here's what I came up with...

2008 Upper Deck #223 Julian Tavarez

When Milwaukee decided to go after this guy last summer, I was a little concerned. I had seen this card and was afraid of what could happen. Bottom of the ninth, Brewers up by 1. Cubs are at bat with bases loaded and two outs, the count is full. Tavarez from the stretch. Looks at third, turns his head and eyes the runner at 1st. Gets the sign from Kendall, and deliv...wait! There seems to be something coming from his chest...

Yep, the alien chest baby thing from Total Recall suddenly burts from his torso, throwing off the pitch and it hits the dirt, bounces all the way to the backstop and the cubs plate two runners in a late comeback vitory over the Crew.

2006 Fleer Greats of the Game #63 Mark Fidrych

Following a promising pitching career at Preston High School, Napolean Dynamite headed pro and pitched for Detroit.

2005 Upper Deck Classics #34 Frank Howard

I got nothin.

Brewers, Fielder Agree to Deal

In Milwaukee today the Brewers came to an agreement with first baseman Prince Fielder, avoiding going to arbitration with the young slugger. The deal, worth a reported $18 million, has Fielder under a structured contract through the 2010 season, at which time he will once again be eligible for arbitration.  Fielder will not be a free agent until after the 2011 season.

Terms for the deal haven't been released today. GM Doug Melvin says the deal is pending a physical as of yet...I'll leave out the jokes for now.

Although it's more, on average, than Fielder asked for in the first place, Milwaukee is likely saving a few million dollars for the 2010 season by doing it this way. Thanks for being a team player, Prince.

If you live in the Milwaukee area, visit your local Old Country Buffet for "Prince Fielder Night", every Wednesday during the season when the Crew is in town.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Prince of Thieves

I came into work today, and as I always do, poured myself a cup of coffee and checked my email. I then moved onto to check for any updates, that way if my brother called me with the latest crisis in Milwaukee I'd know what the heck he was talking about.

The past few weeks have been very busy for the Brewers, as they look to follow up on last year's impressive performance with another playoff season. A number of players have said goodbye, and we've welcomed a few new faces to the clubhouse. The Brewers recieved a wonderful present from Santa this offseason, the anticipated departure of one-time closer Eric Gagne, along with his $10 Million price tag - which, as it turns out, amounted to $1 Million per save in 2008. Reminds one of Clemens' payscale with the Yankees a couple years back. Anyhow, goodbye to Gagne and hello to Trevor Hoffman, whose pay in '09 will be $6 mil with an additional $1.5 Mil in incentives. If he makes his career average number of saves in '09, that'll work out to about $187k per save, a much more affordable number for the Brewers. This, added to the departure of Ben Sheets and C.C. Sabathia frees up much more money for the Crew to throw into shoring up the pitching rotation, as well as retaining some of the young talent that got them to the playoffs last year.

Amoung these young players, Milwaukee has already restructured deals with Ryan Braun, J.J. Hardy, Seth McClung and Dave Bush. Yet to be addressed, however, would be the most important in my opinion - the contract for right fielder Corey Hart. Hart, as you may recall, was an All Star in 2008, and whom the Cubs' scouting director refered to as the "Best player on the Brewers' roster". How we've made it to January 21st without restructuring his deal is beyond me. You don't want a player to get a sour taste in his mouth because you get all the way to an arbitration hearing, especially a guy who is at the core of your franchise.

I decided to write today, most importantly, on the situation with Prince Fielder. Arguably the best young power hitter in the league, Prince will be entering his 4th full season as the Brewers' first baseman. He is not eligible for free agency until 2011, but more importantly to Milwaukee he is arbitration eligible this year, and this has proven to be an issue already. In 2008, Prince pulled in just under $700,000 salary. As we approach spring training, however, he is asking for nearly $8 million dollars, which would make him one of the highest paid players at the position league-wide. Milwaukee, looking to avoid going to arbitration with Fielder, countered with a $6 Million offer yesterday, and that is as much as we know at this point. Is he worth that much? Absolutely! Is he worth $8 Million, to a team whose entire payroll last season was around $80 Million? Not sure about I decided to took at his stats, and compare him to a few other first basemen around the league.

Justin Morneau, the 6-year veteran 1st baseman in Minnesota made $8.4 Million last year. Ryan Howard made $10 Million, and Boston's Kevin Youkilis made only $3 Million last season (before signing a 4-year, $41.5 Million contract this offseason). He earned it, though, and Boston has that kind of money to throw around. Milwaukee doesn't.

Let's start with awards - they kind of sum it all up in a nutshell. Justin Morneau has 2 All-Star appearances, and won the AL MVP in 2006. Ryan Howard has 1 All-Star appearance, was rookie of the year in '05, and was named NL MVP and MLB Player of the Year in 2006, along with winning the Hank Aaron Award that year as well. Kevin Youkilis has 1 All-Star appearance, won the AL Hank Aaron Award in '08, and even has a gold glove. Fielder himself has 1 All-Star appearance ('07) and won the Hank Aaron Award that year as well.

Even if we stopped there, we could see that Fielder wouldn't be worth $8 million, but when we start to look at individual stat categories, the evidence is overwhelming. Out of the 4 players, he doesn't lead a single category (major ones being hits, runs, HRs, RBI, AVG, OBP, etc). He does, however, tie Youkilis for the top base stealer of the 4 players (all of 3 SB's in'08). Here's a side-by-side comparision if you want to look at what I'm talking about.

So how does a guy who doesn't lead a stat category amoung his peers demand the same kind of money they make? Simple. His ego is as big as his belly. To him, it's not the paystub, but what the paystub "represents" according to an article on him from last year. Now, I'm not denying the kid's ability. He has the potential to become the best power hitter in the majors. He has a more-than-decent glove at 1st base, and has quite a strong baseball pedigree. His future, however, is in the American League, as his weight continues to go up (slightly under 270 lbs, as of this offseason) and without being addressed will surely lead to health problems (specifically knee and/or back ) in the near future.

The Brewers are still licking their Ben Sheets/Eric Gagne wounds, and are as a result, still gunshy of large contracts. They haven't had a great track record recently on high yielding returns from newly structured player contracts, and understandably so. It's entirely understandable why they are not giving Fielder the $8 Million he is asking for. Ben Sheets had a career high 13 wins last year...13! his 8th season. His paycheck? $12.5 Million. Eric Gagne, as previously discussed, had 10 saves last year. His paycheck? $10 Million. They were the two highest paid players on the roster in 2008, and yielded far less than they should have. Prince Fielder had an amazing year in 2007, but followed it up with a less than stellar follow up campaign in 2008. Had he been arbitration eligible following the '07 season, he'd have probably recieved the money he asked for Tuesday. After last year, though, the Brewers need to see a bit more consistent performance from him. His numbers from '07 to '08 went down in every single statistical category - except for strikeouts. Those, oddly enough, went up to nearly 23%.

The Brewers counter-offer to Fielder yesterday was $6 million, and we'll see what becomes of that. In my opinion, it's more than he is worth as a player. It is worth paying him that much money, however, when you look at the bigger picture. Like I said, he'll most likely end up in the American League sooner than later. He is under contract in Milwaukee for another 2 seasons. Should he stay healthy, he'll be commanding well over $10 million/year by that time, and your Boston's and New York's will be more than happy to pay for it. What does Milwaukee get in return? Some solid starting pitching, for one. Some farm hands, for another. With the money and compensation the Brewers recieve from the Prince Fielder trade sometime in the future, it won't be that hard to find a first baseman who can at LEAST get league average stats, allowing the Brewers to shore up the pitching rotation, and shoot for another postseason berth.

The underlying problem, however, is something that perhaps cannot be fixed. It's naive to think that a player will stay in one city for the duration of his career, those days are gone. Arbitration has allowed players to see that their rights are met and honored, no longer being sold or underpaid. As we have seen in the past, however, the precedent has been set that allows players like Fielder to reject his team's counteroffers long enough to see himself sitting across the arbitration table from the front office, at that point recieving a sum which in almost every case is closer to what the player wants than it is to what the owner wants.

In a city like Milwaukee, this creates quite a problem. Fielder isn't the first and surely won't be the last player to grow from prospect to All-Star in the organization and leave for the almighty dollar. It's impossible for a team like Milwaukee with a league-lowest annual payroll to hold onto the high rollers for more than a season, at which time they will be forced to trade them or lose them to free agency, putting a Craig Counsell on the field and putting a couple more guys into the farm system in return. How do you fix this? A league-wide salary cap. That's a topic for a later time, however, and one that's not easily addressed.

As far as Prince Fielder goes, he's being selfish. I can't expect a guy to show any loyalty to the club that brought him up, gave him a chance, and allowed him to flourish and succeed. Like I said, those days are gone. But show some decency and understanding. It's obviously more important to Fielder to have a bigger paycheck, to "Get Paid", than it is to play on a team that is able to legitimately compete for a pennant year to year. We all understand that a billionaire doesn't get into the lucrative field of owning a professional sports franchise to show compassion or be showed compassion, and we should all expect our team's owner to throw more money into the salary coffers than is already there. Mark Attanasio has already done that, and he showed it last year by going after Gagne and Sabathia. But at what point do we have to draw the line, and at what point does an owner have to pull up the pants and not allow himself to be taken advantage of by premadonnas like Fielder? Sure, an extra $2 million is not going to affect Attanasio at all. To him, it's drop in the bucket. But if he does it for Fielder, he'll have to do it for everyone, and for an owner that has no historical or family ties to the franchise, this could spell doom for the fans. He's from California, so what's to stop him from selling the team because it's not yeilding a high enough profit for him? Absolutely nothing. Next thing we know, we have a new owner who has less money and less concern for the franchise, putting us right back into the situation we were in before Attanasio bought the team.

Fielder doesn't see it that way. As I said, it's more important for him to feed his ego and not be looked upon by other players as the guy who "isn't getting paid" than it is for him to play on a team in playoff contention every season.

Monday, January 19, 2009


We're going to be out tomorrow at the March for Life in Olympia, WA, so unfortunately we'll also be missing the $50 Million inaugural "celebration" which will be gracing every cable station across the country. I'll keep my political opinions far away from this blog...politics and baseball should never mix. Instead, I'll share with you a few photos I worked on today to mark the occasion. Enjoy.


I give to you the new manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, Ken Macha. He did great things while the skipper in Oakland with a very similar lineup - youth and ability abounding. Hopefully he can use the young, raw talent in Milwaukee to the utmost, and to be sure, he'll be able to manage a bullpen more effectively than Ned Yost. Hopefully, the "change" the Brewers need.

And just for fun, I decided to make a few more of my all time favorite Brewers. No need to introduce any of them, I don't think.

MLK Day Breakout: '08 Upper Deck Timeline Blaster

Not that I need an excuse to buy baseball cards, but I decided to buy a blaster of cards to open today, taking care of a couple objectives in the process: Investigate a different set, and kill some time and take my attention away from the annoyance of the upcoming presidential inauguration and its historical context.  Speaking of the inauguration, I'll have some fun in store for tomorrow on this blog. Stay tuned for that!

But I digest...back to the cards. Like I said, I wanted to get some cards that I have few of, and try for another memorabilia or relic card.  This limited my choices, so I decided to go w/ the '08 Upper Deck Timeline blaster.  I was still looking for the Ryan Braun from this set, so we'll see if
 I have any luck.  Go grab some coffee, because this blaster has 10 packs...

Pack 1

#TM-WT Willy Taveras Game Worn Jersey

Whenever I open a blaster I go for the memorabilia card pack right away...I'm somewhat of an instant gratification sort of person. Not the one I was looking for, but it'll do. Although the swatch of jersey in this scan looks like a band-aid, I assure you it is the same color as the jersey in the photo. If anyone is interested in this card or knows someone who is, it's up for trade. Let me know.

#45 Vladimir Guerrero
#232 Kosuke Fukudome RC
#127 Rico Washington

Pack 2

#36 Jim Thome (who is, in fact, just as large in person as he is on TV)
#9 Mark Texeira (before he sold his soul)
#18 Ryan Braun

So far this year, I'm 2/2 in opening blasters and getting a Ryan Braun card,  finding both the All-Star card and the HR Derby card in a pack of '08 Topps UH two weeks ago.  Ah, the Hebrew Hammer.  Quickly he is becoming the object of my baseball card lust, much like Dave Justice was in the early 90's.  Brauny is my favorite player in the game today, especially so because ESPN can't do an "Outside the Lines" story on him...he's just a great baseball player. If I had to choose a player that HAS had an OTL story done on him, it'd be Josh Hamilton. Dude is amazing, his story is amazing, and he's clean. 

#27 Alex Rodriguez
#71 Ross Ohlendorf
#169 Lance Berkamn ATG

Pack 3

#45 Vladimir Guerrero
#50 Erik Bedard (the Mariner's bust of '08, but he didn't have his own "Soul Patch" night like J.J. Putz did here in Seattle...oh, the lengths organizations will go to in order to get butts in seats)
#184 Calix Crabbe RC

Apparently, I'm no Brewers fan, because I've never heard of this guy! A little digging, and I was able to find out that the Padres picked him up in the '07 Rule 5 Draft, and he was on their roster for a while in '08. They returned him to the Brewers in May, and he was assigned to AAA-Nashville in the Brewers organization. At the end of the year, we released him and he was signed by the Mariners to a minor league deal.  This photo must have been taken down in Phoenix at spring training last year, because he's never played at Miller Park. I wouldn't be suprised to see this guy in a Mariners uniform in '09 though, he's got incredible speed as of now is a spring training non-roster invitee.

#23 Matt Kemp
#115 Felix Pie
#306 Russel Martin

Pack 4

#49 Felix Hernandez
#4 Pedro Martinez
#313 Kosuke Fukudome RC SP

There are few things in this world that I dislike more than the Chicago Cubs. Among them are women driving large SUV's,  weak coffee, and Kirk Herbstreit. That being said, still a card I may hold onto. His first season here in the US was great. I love the story about some little girl in a Chicago-area school being sent home for wearing a "FUKUDOME" jersey to class one day.  As my wife said, "people in Chicago are dumb!". Amen.

#31 Manny Ramirez (in Dodger blue)
#112 Emmanuel Burriss
#244 Troy Tulowitzki

Pack 5

#15 Jason Bay
#33 B.J. Upton
#6 Hanley Ramirez

What an electrifying player, it's fun to watch this guy play. Especially when he has a huge plug in his mouth! 

#130 Tyler Clippard
#202 Nyger Morgan 
#216 John Smoltz

Pack 6

#42 Joe Mauer

Along w/ Braun cards, I collect every Joe Mauer card I come across.   He went to high school at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, MN,  4 1/2 miles from my high school.  During my sophomore year we played his team in baseketball...we lost.  His father Jake also graduated from my alma mater. A short while ago, when the school was in danger of closing,  Joe's father called him and told him that they needed some money to save the school. Without asking a single question, Joe wrote a check for nearly $1.7 Million and sent it to St. Agnes HS.  

#24 Matt Holliday
#43 Alex Gordon
#7 John Smoltz
#95 Yasuhiko Yabuta
#151 B.J. Upton ATG

Pack 7

#16 Lance Berkman
#34 Nick Markakis
#YSL 6334 Hideki Matsui


I like these cards, not enough to complete the set but they are an interesting read on the back. In case you were wondering, the code on the back of the card didn't win me a trip to the All-Star game in New York posthumously. 

#25 Brandon Webb
#103 Chad Billingsley
#230 Alfonso Soriano

Pack 8

#22 Jake Peavy
#40 Miguel Cabrera
#13 Alfonso Soriano
#385 Jonathan Van Every RC
#86 Jay Bruce RC
#160 Matt Holliday ATG

Pack 9

#5 Johann Santana
#41 Justin Verlander
#14 Derrek Lee
#32 Daisuke Matsuzaka

Turns out, that "Gyro-ball" that Dice-K throws is freakin's fast like a fastball, looks like a cutter, but breaks at the end to buckle your knees and paint the corner. On MLB 2K8, though, Ryan Braun owns his ass. 

#68 Nick Blackburn
#178 Kosuke Fukudome ATG RC

Pack 10

#142 Albert Pujols ATG

#21 Tim Lincecum
#48 Ichiro
#12 Jimmy Rollins
#52 John Bowker RC
#193 Jeff Baker

All in all, not a bad box. It will have to do for now, however, as the 2009 Budget has just been approved and there isn't as much of a surplus this year for cards. We'll have to free up some funds in another department to secure some for the 'ol habit. 

The next break is coming up soon! For my birthday, the Mrs. ordered a pre-sale 2009 Topps hobby box for me, and I'm anxiously awaiting that arrival. Not a bad birthday present!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Life Before the Strike #14

In celebration of our nice 3-day weekend, I'd like to share a few of the cards I purchased yesterday at the local card shop. I'm a fan of this shop, and am going to miss it when the Navy moves me somewhere else in these great United States in the next 2-3 months. The only downside is the transit time - the Puget Sound has a lovely way of seperating people from things. As the crow flies, it's a 17 mile distance. But using 4 modes of transportation it takes nearly 3 hours from my front door. Because of this, my trips are usually about 2 months apart, which allows for my want list to grow quite a bit, and just as "absence makes the heart grow fonder", my trips to the card shop never lose their "kid in a candy shop" feeling.

Pete is the proprietor of this shop, and in my estimation he's a man of 65 years or so. He knows the name of everyone who steps foot into his store. He recieves a phone call and can tell you immediately whether or not he's got the card you're looking for...and he has millions of cards. To get folks into the store, he runs a fantasy baseball/football/basketball contest (depending on the season) where you pick a few players for the week and track their stats, the winner recieving a $10 credit on their next purchase. Slow economy being what it is, foot traffic has dwindled for this store and so I'm competing with 2 other people this weekend. Say a prayer for Larry Fitzgerald, Willie Parker, and Kurt Warner. Daddy needs a new pair of shoes.

He's a man with an Ivy League degree from Dartmouth, who worked for a number of years recruiting for the University in my old stomping grounds of the midwest, so we chat a while about Wisconsin and how cold it is there, how big the high school football kids are, and how I'm the only Brewers fan he knows. This is great, because nearly every card I go into his shop to find, I'm able to locate with little effort.

On to the cards...

2007 Topps Distinguished Service #DS23 Stan Musial

I'm a little bit of a dork when it comes to the military - both of my parents were in the military when I was young, and I've been serving this great nation of ours for the past six years. These cards are cool because they add to the baseball purest hatred of modern day card companies and the products they produce. As they did in '08 w/ the presidential candidate cards, Topps has a way with creating cards that people still want to collect. At least this one is loosely related to baseball, ya? This next one, however, nothing at all to do with baseball...

#DS28 George Bush

Actually, I take that back. His son (CURRENT president Bush) was a partner in the ownership of the Texas Rangers for a while...he also threw out a few first pitches, so I guess this one counts too. This next card, however, has absolutely NOTHING to do with baseball.

2006 Allen & Ginter #336 Pope Leo XIII

Although baseball had been around in United States in professional form for almost 20 years when Pope Leo XIII was elected to the Papal office in 1878, we have little reason to believe he had anthing to do with baseball. I just like the card.

Aside from the numerous Ryan Braun cards that I snatched up on this current trip, I also found two more Robin Yount cards to add to my Yount binder...

2008 Upper Deck Masterpeices #46 Robin Yount

I didn't know that UD gave Robin a card in the series last year. I was digging for the Ryan Braun and mouth went agape with awe when I saw it. Hmm...great painting? I find it very hard to critique the art of others, as I myself have very little artistic ability. But this looks absolutely nothing like him. To me, the player should be wearing a Cleveland Indians jersey and go by the name Jake Taylor. I wonder if Yount has seen this one yet. I assume there was no approval process when UD came out with this card. Here's how it may have gone, though...

UD: So, Mr. Yount, what do you think?

RY: Really?

UD: What do you mean?

RY: This looks nothing like me. This looks like Tom Berenger.

UD: Tom who?

RY: You know, the guy from that baseball movie, played cather. The Indians?

UD: Don't think I know that one.

RY: Come on, they even had Bob Uecker in it as the announcer, Cleveland Municipal Stadium was actually shot at County Stadium in Milwaukee. Hell, that movie had more to do with the Brewers than it did the Indians.

UD: You know, now that you mention it I think I have seen that one. Is that the one with Bernie Mac in it as well?

RY: No, that's Mr. 3000. This one had Wesley Snipes, and that guy from the All State commercial.

UD: Yogi Berra?

RY: No, that's Aflac. I'm talking about Dennis Haysbert.

UD: I thought he did the US Navy commercial voiceover work.

RY: No, that's Godsmack, the band.

UD: Not the music, the....

As you can imagine, the rest of the conversation stayed somewhat along these lines, neither side acoomplishing much. At the end of this one hour meeting, both sides were so tired that neither thought it important to look at the back of the card. As Thorzul went into depth discussing on his blog once, Robin Yount never did, in fact, win the AL Rookie of the Year award.

I decided to call the fine folks at Upper Deck this morning to find out who did this painting for the card. I spoke with Crystal in their sports card division, and she's going to have the project manager for the 2008 Masterpieces give me a call later today with the artist's name. I'll keep you posted.

1994 Upper Deck Fun Pack #202 Yount/Winfield HES

Besides the really tan mutant arm coming from Yount's side and shoulder, this card seems pretty standard, really. At first glance, I didn't really see that it was a double card, not only with regard to its subject, but it's thicker than normal. See, it's not actually a mutant arm, it's Yount ON TOP of Dave Winfield. Pretty tricky, folks. The card unfolds and becomes kind of a book card. Neato.

Still waiting on that phone call from Upper Deck...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

9 for 9 in '09

We're only 30 days away from the greatest day of the year. Personally, this year's anticipation of Spring Training is unrivaled in its scope and magnitude. Last season, the Brewers made the playoffs for the first time since 1982, despite Eric Gagne's best efforts to give the NL Wild Card to the NY Mets. Along with the dawning of a new baseball season, we are only weeks away from a new season's worth of baseball cards. It's in the spirit of the 2009 round of card collecting that I start off the year with my first card contest, "9 for 9 in '09". Here's how this is going to work...
You select 9 Brewers cards from your collection...past, present, and "future stars". Get them into a bubble mailer, and send them my way. In return, I will send 9 cards of your favorite team your sure to indicate your favorite team in your comment. It's that simple! Of course, this is a contest so we're going to slap on some points to the Brewers cards you send. The point breakdown will go like this:

- 1 point for each "past" player
- 3 points for each "present" player
- 2 point for each "future star" player
- 5 points for no dupes in your set
- 5 points for each non-standard card
- 1 point for each non- '87-'89 Topps card
- 1 point for each card not currently in my collection
- 20 points for going "9 for 9" - all 9 cards form a complete team, pitcher through right field.
There are a couple rules, as well. The photo must be a player in a BREWERS UNIFORM or associated Minor League affiliate club uniform (Helena, Brevard Cty, WV, Huntsville, Nashville).

Let's start off with an example...

1989 Score #625 Gary Sheffield

Here's a card I don't have, so this will be a good example. (1) Past Player (5) Non-standard card (1) Not '87-'89 Topps (1) Not in my collection. Alone, this card is worth 8 pts, not a bad start!

So, how can you enter this super cool contest? Why, follow these easy steps!

1. Leave a comment on this post with your name and favorite team.

2. Send an email to, including your name, mailing address, and favorite team. I'll reply to you with instructions on where to mail the cards.

3. Send off your cards!

All entries posted before 13 February will be entered in the contest and eligible for the grand prize, which will be announced at that time.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Life Before The Strike #13

I'd have to say that as soon as baseball season ends every October, my attention generally migrates to my fantasy football league and following the Packers. I haven't purchased any baseball cards or opened any packs since the close of the 2008 baseball season, but have been checking up on my and checking to see who (if anyone) will be patrolling the grounds of Miller Park during the '09 season. I've also followed, with much disappointment, the recent signing of CC Sabathia by the Yankees (cue Darth Vader music) for an ungodly sum of money, as well as the invitations sent by the Brewers to various gents for Spring Training. It's the prospect of the New Year, and the fact that pitchers and catchers report to Arizona in 36 days, that led me to pick up a pack of cards at the store the other day.

2008 Topps Updates & Highlights

The danger with getting married is the give-and-take and walking that fine line between "wants" and "needs". What would have been a simple purchase 6 months ago has now turned into a game of's not the $1.99 that is the issue here, it's the principle. If I can buy a pack of cards whenever I want (or an XBOX 360 game for that matter, which by the way, is becoming more and more difficult for me to justify or explain) then the wife should be able to grab this or that whenever she desires. "Well, why don't you just pack a lunch instead of buying one downtown?" I ask, in hopes that the bread and deli meat in the fridge will help us whether the financial storm of recession. Well, it's the same guy who insists on brewing coffee at home and packing a lunch that wants to buy a pack of cards every time I'm at Target.

Do I need anymore baseball cards? Well, yes I do. I need a 1975 Topps Robin Yount RC. Will it help me in my life, assist me in working on my patience, my quickness to anger, my road rage? Nope. It won't help me save more money, waste more energy on worrying about things that are beyond my control. But it will fill that void in my Robin Yount card binder. And to me, that's the most important thing.

Moving on to the cards. I found a couple good ones in this pack, one that will help make quite a birthday gift for my sister in law as well.

#UH276 Corey Hart 2008 All Star

I can't tell you how many times I voted at last summer to get my Brewers into the All Star game, and having Corey Hart win the vote-in final spot was sweet, sweet music to my summer classic ears. I will say, however, that the various ad campaigns last summer were a little, shall I say, lame? I think Corey had the best one of them all, though...

My sister in law is quite possibly the world's biggest Corey Hart fan, and with a little help from the local card shop this card will make for a nice wall plaque birthday gift.

#TCP41 Ken Griffey Jr. Target Exclusive Insert

Pretty cool card, and because I'm not looked at, touched, or purchased any cards since the baseball season ended, was interested to find out that this is one of the 2008 Topps UH cards available exclusively at Target...whether or not this proves to be worth any money, we shall see. I found one on eBay selling for $3, not a bad investment after all. I could use this line of thinking to convince my better half that I will have such luck in ALL of my pack purchases. And just imagine getting a whole BLASTER of! I could make enough money for a spiffy date night out on the town!