Monday, May 18, 2009

Farewell, Sweet Prince - ALL TRIBE style

Nope, no reference to anyone dieing. No reference to Fatty McFatterson, who happens to play first base for my FIRST PLACE Milwaukee Brewers. I am bidding my farewell to the world of card blogging. For now, of course.

Today is my final day in the Navy. Tonight we are loading up the truck. Tomorrow my wife and I will depart on our 3,036 mile road trip to our new home in Charleston, SC. We will be spending a week in Wisconsin over Memorial Day weekend, spending the weekend cheering on the Brewers as they take on the Twins in interleague play.

I received a package last week from Jack over at All Tribe Baseball that included not only the wonderful CD of baseball-related tunes (including the original "Who's on First" from Abbot & Costello which confused the crap outta the wife) but also had a number of Brewers cards tossed in as well. A nice smattering of years and clubs. Thanks so much, Jack, for the great cards and the CD that will be getting some spin time in the truck this week.

On that note, in no particular order, here are the cards from the "Baseball Dad".

2003 Donruss Estrellas (#47 Ben Sheets, #48 Richie Sexson)

These cards are in spanish. SPANISH!! I've never seen baseball cards in Spanish. French, yes. Gotta love our friends north of the border who enjoy their OPC cards. But Spanish? Awesome. Donruss Estrellas. That's Not-English for "stars". Sheets is a "Lanzador", which is a very formal way of saying "not pitching for anyone this year". Funny, neither is Richie. Bummer, man.

2003 Fleer Ultra Gold Medallion (#139 Ben Sheets, #125 Jose Hernandez)

These cards are your standard cardboard. See that little cutout on the top and bottom? Genius. You wanted it, and Skybox delivered. Get those kids back on the wagon, we need more non-standard cards. Well, not really but they are pretty neat. Sheets still isn't pitching for anyone this year. You know, the Brewers never did announce whether or not they have had to pick up the tab on his surgery. It'd be interesting to find out.

1992 Topps Gold Teddy Higuera, 1999 Skybox Premium Jim Abbott

Teddy Higuera, arguably the greatest pitcher to don the Brewers uniform. Jim Abbott, arguably the greatest pitcher to have ONE HAND. One hand!!! As a child this always amazed me. The guy only had one hand and he managed to do everything better than me. He'd throw, pull the glove off his...handless arm, put the glove on his hand, field the ball, and throw the whole damn thing, glove and ball together, over to the first baseman. That's some Pitcher's Fielding Practice that's tough to teach, folks. That guy was a true hero to all para-athletes out there to be sure. And he played for the Crew, awesome.

2006 Fleer Ultra Rickie Weeks, 1991 Upper Deck Julio Machado

Rickie is leading the Brewers in HRs this year. That's right, the guy who hit just over the Mendoza line last year and has plagued the infield with errors for years, has perhaps finally found his swing and his glove, the same items that made him the ranchise prospect and future all these years. Then came Ryan Braun. But before that, Weeks was going to be the next Robin Yount for the Brew Crew. Well, to nobody's surprise, he's in a contract year and thriving. Isn't that odd when that happens? As I always say, you can't spell Rickie Weeks without 3 E's and 2 K's. Chew on that, kids.

Machado is a badass. Look at him.

Here's a neat scratchoff game from '94 that was included. I'd never seen this before. It features the Brewers "Notre Dame" logo that I never was a huge fan of, but that's alright too. Here's the back...

I think I'll leave this until the Brewers make it to the World Series. It may be a while, but man, it'll be worth it. I'll do this scratchoff and it'll predict the winner of game 1 - Milwaukee.

Well, that's it for a while folks. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we travel. We'll take some photos and I'll share those when we arrive in Charleston. Go Brewers!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Shame on you, Mr. Manuel

Tonight Mets manager Jerry Manuel kept pitcher Mike Pelfrey in the game through six innings...after he had given up 3 balks.

Whatever the reason for Pelfrey's frustration, be it the obvious scouting by the Giants' staff, the unfortunate strike zone called by the home plate umpire, or the poor framing by Mets catcher Omir Santos, Pelfrey has been in a world of hurt tonight. Three balks in six innings.

THANKS for the visit to the mound, Jerry. Thanks for leaving poor Mike in their to commit three balks. The guy needs to hit the clubhouse, clear his head. You left him in there, to protect your struggling bullpen.

You are a horrible manager.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cards from GCRL...Round 2

Back in March I got a package from Jim over at GCRL, and the contents were overwhelming - hundreds and hundreds of Brewers cards, old, not-so-old, and friggin new. Lots of em. Too many for one post. I set aside another posts' worth of cards at that time for a second post - one that would come after I said thanks to a few others for gifts they sent.

We are in the middle of packing up our apartment as we prepare to move 3,000 miles away to sunny Charleston, SC a week from now. Underneath some books and papers was a small stack of cards...the very cards I set aside for the "Thanks GCRL 2 of 2" post. Here they are, folks! And once again, Jim, thanks for the cards.

I have two baseballs from major league baseball games. The first was the one that Paul Molitor threw to me and my father during warmups before a Brewers vs. Twins game in Minneapolis back in '87. I've told the story before as my entry for the Fifth Blog Bat can read it here. The second one was hit right to me during batting practice, at the same Metrodome in Minneapolis, once again before a Brewers vs. Twins game. Except this time, it came from a slightly more portly player on the Brewers team, Mr. Ron Belliard. I don't know if I still have that one.

I will never complain about an oddball card. There can be nothing wrong with them, because there is no "bar" set. They cannot disappoint. This one is no exception. And the Vuckovich card is from another generation. It's a bit harder to find a leg kick like this anymore...or a mustache like this. I still can't see a picture of him without thinking of nemesis of Rick Vaughn, Yankees slugger "Haywood". On a brief sidenote, it was revealed during the fifth inning of a Brewers/Astros game a few weeks ago that my wife had never seen "Major League". MLB Extra Innings was carrying the Astros broadcast of the game that night, and they had a guest in the booth...Mr. Bob Uecker. I went nuts. He was nothing short of genius, and I was laughing the whole time. I commented on how funny he was in "Major League". I was met by a blank stare on my wife's face. After the game, we watched the movie.

The Jenkins/Burnitz high five was a common site for a few years in Brew Town. This cards scores a couple runs because it's taken from a distance, which gives us two ballplayers frozen in time, with a sea of faceless fans behind them. I love it.

No matter what happened to Matt Childers, he could always brag to his children and grandchildren that he had two of the coolest baseball cards ever. I love these cards. Maybe it's the patriot in me, maybe I just like bright, shiny objects, but they work for me. Matt only made 11 major league appearances earlier in the decade. Last year he pitched for the Phillies AAA club, and this year he's pitching in Japan. Glad he's still in the game.

Add to the list of guys who become sluggers with the Brewers, leave, and then disappear. Maybe it's just him on this list, but for some reason I want to throw in Geoff Jenkins and Carlos Lee - although both of their situations are entirely different. Last season I went to about a dozen Mariners games here in Seattle. It didn't take the fans too long to start booing him last year.

One question, though. Future World Series Hero? What a crappy set. Did they mean that he would soon leave the Brewers for a larger market and hopefully more successful ballclub, or did they mean the Brewers would soon make it to the World Series? Either way, they lost. Dumb, dumb Upper Deck.

Finally, a minor league card. I know nothing about Leon Glenn, Jr, but I do know that he played for the one time A-affiliate Beloit Brewers. By the time I came into my "baseball adulthood", they were already the Beloit Snappers (easier to put a turtle suit on some guy than try to sell the whole "beer" thing to youngsters). The Milwaukee Brewers still own the rights to this logo, though, and as I've said before, I sure hope it'll find it's way onto the Brewers uniforms, at least as a sleeve patch. It shows Wisconsin pride. I like that.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

News...and Notes

First of all, the important stuff. I was notified by the Navy that my day of separation will be in two weeks - so, I have essentially 2 weeks to find a job in Charleston, SC (which is over 3,000 miles away) tie up all my loose ends with the Navy, work with my wife to sell whatever furniture we can on Craigslist, pack up the place, and done. The sofa I am sitting on right now will be gone tomorrow - so it's two weeks of sitting on dining room chairs in the living room. I love it.

We've decided to move to Charleston, SC instead of my hometown in Wisconsin for a couple of reasons, mostly relating to the job market and the economy. This will once again put me far away from the land of Cheese and Beer, but just for now. I still have MLB Extra Innings to fill me with my daily need for Brewers baseball.

Which brings me to last night's game...and Ryan Braun. The Crew is facing the MUCH hated Baby Bears from Chicago. I don't care what Cubbies fans say, this is a huge freakin rivalry and we hate them. This weekend is a 3-game series against Chicago, and the series opened with a bang last night. In the bottom half of the 8th last night, trailing the Cubs 2-1, Ryan Braun took a pitch to the bleachers in right center field, plating two runs and giving the Brewers the lead to cement a game 1 victory over the Cubs. 10 minutes later, "Hells Bells" rang true once again in Milwaukee, as closer Trevor Hoffman came in once again and earned his fifth save of the year.

The guys on Sportscenter this morning (actually, I think it was Neal Everett) made the same comment I made last night when he hit the homer. It was something to the effect of "last week he was on the bench with a sore back, and this week he's tearing it up". Actually, my story of last night's game is a bit better than that.

As I said, we're selling a lot of furniture and home furnishing stuff on Craigslist right now, and from about 1pm-8:30 last night I had people coming by to look at items and pick items up. This was during the Brewers/Cubs game last night, but I didn't let it stop me. A woman, her friend, and her child were standing in my living room inspecting the antique dresser they'd come to pick up (turns out, she was a Brewers fan and originally from West Allis, Wisconsin...small world) and I didn't let them stop me from watching the game. I answered questions while staring at the screen. As soon as Brauny hit the 2-run jack in the 8th inning, I channelled Howard Dean and started yelling something which the woman turned, smiled, and decided she'd take the dresser and it'd be a good time to leave. At least she bought the damn thing, and for helping load it/secure it in her truck, she through in an extra $10 on top of the price.

Thanks Brauny!

By the way, this is the 2009 Topps World Baseball Classic Ryan Braun card. This card is summer baseball. The sun, the smile, the sky, and the glisten in the eye that smacks of another summer filled with homers like the one we saw last night.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco de Mayo!

Sunday, May 3rd: After being scratched from the lineup for two games, Ryan Braun stays in Milwaukee while the Brewers hit the road for a quick four game road trip in Pittsburgh and Cincy.

Monday, May 4th: MRI on Braun's back turns out negative, Braun boards a plane to join the Crew for their first game in Pittsburgh. At the 7:05pm game time, Braun is still flying en route to Pittsburgh, Bill Hall starts the game in Left Field.

Ryan Braun arrives in the dugout for the 2nd inning.

In the 8th inning with the bases load, Ryan Braun is brought into the game as a pinch hitter.

Braun swings at a 0-2 fastball, and hits a seeing-eye DOUBLE to right field to tie the game at 3-3.

Later, Rickie Weeks would homer to ensure the Brewers' 16th straight victory over the Pirates.

Tuesday, Cinco de Mayo: Tonight, Brauny is starting in left field. Happy Cinco de Mayo, ya'll!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Farewell to Foreign Shores...

Well, the day has come. It seems even the Department of the Navy is not recession proof.

I was just informed today by my chain of command that my rating conversion was denied by the Navy due to manning issues. In effect, I'm not being "retained" because too many people are staying in. Electrician's Mate Second Class at the plate, Honorable Discharge on deck, and Looking for a Job is in the hole.

This means in about 2 months, I will once again be a civilian for the first time in six years. And a long with that, comes the joy of searching for a job. With my transition just ahead, I will have to direct my baseball card budget to more important (gasp!) things - namely, savings account. Rainy day fund. Whatever you call the money saved up for when you lose your job.

I'll keep the posting up, because it's free. But it'll mostly be on Brewers baseball (also free) and odd kinds of themes I can come up with while parousing my stacks and rows and boxes of cards.
This also means the last 3 packages are being mailed out today - Matt F, Padrographs, and a little something for the ladies of Dinged Corners - and that'll be it for quite a while. The inbox will remain open, though, if anyone has to get rid of some cards of the Brewers persuasion.

At least Ryan Braun is healthy, right? Wait a second...

My foray into the world of...guest columnist?

I was recently invited by Matt F from Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius to be a contributor for his new project, A Pack To Be Named Later. The gist is to bust a pack of wax and share the cards - pretty simple. The goal is to cover everything and anything put on cardboard.

Here's my debut contribution...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Padrographs Delivers the Goods...More Brewers!

About a month and a half ago I received an email out of the blue from Rod over at Padrographs, asking for my mailing address as he'd recently put together some Brewers to send my way. I emailed him back from my work account (which ends in which started up a nice exchange. Turns out, the heart and soul of Padrographs is himself a Navy veteran as well. Thanks for your service to our country,Rod, and thanks for the Brewers!

2008 Topps Heritage Chrome #C228 Manny Parra (#1340/1959)
My favorite Brewers pitcher, Manny is off to a rough start this year. He's off to an 0-4 start, and his ERA is at 5.33 Not exactly the start he was looking for, but he is still a young guy. His problem (besides hanging up way too many curveballs) is the total lack of run support the Brewers are offering him. In his 5 starts this year, the Crew have only managed to plate 10 runs for him. That's 2 runs/game, and few pitchers in the league would have a winning record with that kind of offense behind them. His most recent 2 starts have given the Brewers a good sign, as he's allowed only 2 earned runs over 11 innings. The second factor is his 0-4 record? The Milwaukee bullpen. Some games they are on, and some they're off. Keep your chin up, Manny. It'll come around.

1992 Donruss Studio (#198 Greg Vaughn, #196 Franklin Stubbs)
These are great cards, and two Brewers featuring my all-time favorite Brewers uniforms - those from the early 90's, right before we switched to the crappy navy blue/green/gold Notre Dame logo and colors. Nothing against Notre Dame, but it's a rough switch for folks used to the whole blue and yellow thing for years. Some day I pray we'll go back to these jerseys. Not even the ones the Crew wear nowadays for Retro Fridays, but this one. It's the best.

By the way, take a gook at Vaughn's hair. Lovin it, Arsenio style.

Mat Gamel (2008 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects #BDPP83, 2008 Donruss Threads #98)

Now that Matt LaPorta is playing for the Cleveland Indians, Mat Gamel is the face of the Brewers future. He's a hard-hitting third baseman, and if he came up to the big league club he'd either be converted to an outfield position, or moved to 1B following a Prince Fielder trade (I'd prefer the later). I'm looking forward to seeing this kid play. Lolve the Threads card, according to which "...Gamel absolutely abused Southern League pitching." Ouch.

1994 Extra Bases #98 Ricky Bones
These came out right after I stopped collecting baseball cards in my youth - during the strike-ruined season of 1994. Ricky Bones was a great pitcher that year, making his only All-Star team. He came to Milwaukee with a couple other guys in the trade that sent long-time Brewers farm system product Gary Sheffield to the Padres. He was known most famously for his great hair.

Why any card company would produce a non-standard sized card just baffles me. It's like a new kid coming to your school - he looks kind of like you, but just a bit odd. You don't know if he's good at kickball or not, so you don't pick him. These cards were doomed from the start. Nice hair, though.

Prince Fielder ('09 UD #215, '09 Topps Attax Code Card, '08 UD Timeline #19)

Three words: On Base Percentage. So far this season, Fielder's OBP is at .405! He is among league leaders in walks with 21 free passes, and is on pace to become the first player in Milwaukee Brewers franchise history to draw 100 walks in a single season. I'm not complaining about his lack of power, because he's getting on base. The guy just never seems to get a hit when there are men on base. Solo homers are his thing so far this year, but I guess that's alright too. I'm just glad to see him walking a while lot more instead of striking out like a bastard.

If anyone wants to see if the code on this Topps Attax card is still good, and wants to use it, feel free.

Paul Molitor (1985 Topps #522, 1991 Donruss Studio #73)

Love me some Molitor. It must have been a huge kick in the pants for Twins fans when the Brewers drafted him. He grew up in St. Paul, MN, just like current Twins hometown favorite Joe Mauer, and they both actually hail from the same prep school, Cretin Derham Hall. It'd be as if the Brewers had drafted Joe Mauer instead of the Twins. Man, that'd have pissed them off! Glad he played for us, although he would have really helped out the Twinkies during their championships in '87 and '91. Turns out they were just fine without him.

1997 Donrus Signature Kevin Wickander, 1994 UD Prospect #173 Kelly Wunsch
This is a no-kidding autograph card of Kevin Wickander. I haven't heard his name in quite a while, not since he was sentenced to 4 years in prison for a combination of petty theft, and other things related to Meth possession, burglary, and other crimes. Yes, Meth. Turns out that was Kevin's favorite "beverage of choice". You've heard Rick James on the Chappelle show, right? Talking about the white stuff? Well here's Wickander's take on Meth: "I ain't gonna bullsh*t you, man, it's an awesome drug." Well alright, Kevin. That stuff is scary, and it ruined a great career of one of the games most lights-out situational guys. Take a lesson from Kevin's book, kids. Just say no to drugs.

The Wunsch card is here only because it's a sky, there's nothing better than a minor ball player with nothing but a sky full of blue behind him. Beautiful photograph. It also includes the old "Beloit Brewers" logo. Beloit was the former single-A affiliate for the Brewers. They still own the logo, although the team is now a Twins farm club. I say they bring back the Wisconsin/Ball-and-glove logo as a sleeve patch for the Brewers. That'd be great.

1996 Topps #279 Steve Sparks RC
Three different elements make this an outstanding baseball card. First of all, it's another sky shot. You can't lose with a sky shot. Secondly, it's a wide-angle shot. Those always win, whether or not there are fans present. Finally, it features old Milwaukee County Stadium. I'm a fan. In fact, here's another card that Rod sent me featuring the old place, .

Finally, a card featuring "The Kid".

2002 UD Piece of History #51 Robin Yount

The baseball cards weren't even the best part of this package from Portland, Oregon. The little extras really made it a great package to come home to that day. Greeting me inside was a postcard featuring the not-so-well-known "Wild Mountain Boys" of the now defunct Fonotone Records. Perhaps there's some connection here that I'm missing...or else it's just a postcard he had handy. In any event, I listened to some of their stuff online, and it's not half bad. I recommended it to my father.

Along with a stick of the new generation of baseball card bubble gum, I found this little dandy that immediately became my favorite pen. That's right, a baseball bat pen. Word.

Thanks again Rod for the great cards, and the thoughtful gifts. Whenever work quiets down, I should finally be able to get this huge stack of Friars cards in the mail.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


The worst part about living away from Wisconsin (apart from Brewers baseball) is the lack of Leinenkugel's Beer. It's a small, craft beer brewery in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin (or as my wife says, "Chippa Waffles") and they continue to put out some of the best beer around. It wasn't until recently, maybe 2 years ago, that they began to sell beer outside of the Wisconsin/Minnesota area. In fact, we had it at our wedding down in Charleston, SC last fall.

Well, here in the Seattle area they have finally began to carry one variety of a time of the Leinie's. And the newest member of the family, Leinenkugel's Classic Amber, was immediately shipped to the left coast. For us, of course. Ah, bask in the beauty.

Off my chest...

There have been a few recent stories in professional sports that have stirred up some feelings inside me (or maybe it's this early Saturday morning coffee). I have to get a few things off my chest.

1. NO INSTANT REPLAY IN BASEBALL. I repeat, NO instant replay in baseball. In case you missed it (and if you're like last night's 3rd base umpire Brian Gorman, you DID miss it) the Brewers lost to the struggling D-backs 5-2 last night. The game was tied 2-2 in the 8th inning when a foul-ball-called-fair turned into a 2-run double giving the Arizona the lead, a lead they'd hold onto for the win. A couple of things - first of all, that call didn't cause the Brewers to lose. Their inability to score through the first 6 innings caused the Brewers to lose. Also their inability to score any runs after the 7th inning caused them to lose. Catch my drift? That call just gave the D-backs two extra runs. And it only takes 1 run to win a game, that run they'd get in an entirely different inning.

Aside from last night's game, though, I think Jason Kendall puts it best. When asked about instant replay in baseball, he said "That's the beauty of baseball. And the pain." YES! Billy Idol gets it, come on people! Baseball is still a pure sport because we haven't taken the human element of JUDGEMENT out of it. It's the mistakes that make this game human, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Even for home run calls. No instant replay in baseball.

2. KEEP THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF SPORTS. You have probably heard about the Texas congressman who is trying to get a bill passed through congress that would in effect ELIMINATE the BCS from college football, instead forcing a government-backed playoff system. The BCS is of course against this because this would all but destroy the "bowl game" that has been a part of NCAA seasons for generations. Not to mention, the amount of sales, merchandise, and advertising revenue that would no longer pad the pockets of so many of those NCAA football brass and bowl organizers.

I don't like the BCS. I would prefer a playoff system. Of course, I wouldn't lose any money on the switch, so it's easy for me to say. A playoff system (like EVERY OTHER SPORT IN THE COUNTRY USES) determines a clear, definitive, and deserving champion each and every time. No "Co-National Champions" in the playoff system. Who wants that on their car's license plate frame? If you made the playoff field large enough (say, 32 teams) the revenue would still be there, and the Champion wouldn't have to play too many more games. Solution? Only have 2 season opening non-conference games to allow for the longer "post-season".

Back to the point, though. BCS or playoff, the United States Government should have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. Socialism anyone? I'm sure you've heard the critics of our president calling him a "socialist" or a "marxist", but doesn't this college football issue smack of just that? The government has no business telling college football what to do, how to do, or when to do their business. Nor does it matter what the hell Obama says about "BCS or playoff". Why should that matter?

Along with this matter, I don't want the Mitchell Report, I don't want Senate subcommitties interviewing current or former baseball players on whether or not they used steroids. I don't agree with steroids, but neither do I think the government should tell us who should or should not be in the hall of fame. And they aren't "saying" that, but they are. Named, and you're doomed. Please tell me what baseball has to do with Congressional Subcommities.

3. GROW UP, A-ROD! I am sure you don't want to hear yet another person's take on the whole A-Roid thing, but bear with me. The first time he got caught, he said it wasn't true. Then he came on national TV with a major network interview, and said he did. But just for a couple years. That's it.

Then more information surfaces, supporting that perhaps he wasn't being entirely truthful. Get outta here, really? It would be kind of odd, for a baseball player to just up and start using performance enhancing drugs, and then just up and drop them all together. Or maybe it's just me. For anyone to believe that he stopped taking them when he was traded to the Yankees is ridiculous. Not only was the city bigger, but his payroll was the biggest. EVER. Also, he was moving to the largest city in the country, with the most fans, and largest media market. No pressure, there. I'm sure he didn't feel that pressure, either. Give me a freakin break. I don't even want to talk about the rest of the new information.

My solution? Well, after he comes on national TV AGAIN to appologize to the fans, and his teammates for lieing AGAIN, Bud Selig should ban him from baseball. End of story. That way, we won't have to worry about the A-Rod Hall of Fame debate which is sure to ensue the moment he announces his retirement sometime down the road. It also sets a precident for all other current and future ballplayers. Use drugs, you're out. Pete Rose, in his entire playing or managerial career, NEVER CHEATED AT THE GAME. And yet he may never step foot in Cooperstown, New York. I don't want it to be an asterisk record book, I don't want it to be something "we just don't discuss at the dinner table", I want it cut and dry. Get this sh*t over with.

Allelujiah, where's the Tylenol.

Friday, May 1, 2009

2006 Tristar Prospect Plus #81 Ryan Braun

Oh no, not again!

Nope, not again. One quick look at the back of this card will reveal a hidden gem. A diamond in a pile of coal.

I hope the person that did this didn't lose their job. Well, at least two people saw this before it hit the shelves - the designer and the editor, and I'm sure more were in the line of people who see a baseball card before it gets the "good-to-go" stamp of approval.

The problem with this beauty, is I really don't know whose card this is, Ryan Z. Braun or Ryan J. Braun? Z's picture is on the front, as well as his team's logo on the back. But my Brew Crew Braun is pictured on the back, not to mention his stats are the ones listed as well.

So which is it, Z or J?