Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Indispensable Card

Blog Bat A Round Part 2

Here it is on Wednesday, 2 minutes after midnight in Ohio, and I still haven’t contributed to the 2nd Bat A Round. I don’t now if I’ve already missed Gellman’s deadline. I’m hoping he meant midnight in California. The plan was to whip this out (‘scuse me while I whip this out) last weekend, but the Boss had other ideas. The Boss weighs 6 pounds, but damn if he isn’t convincing.

We have been charged with the simple task of displaying the centerpiece of our collection. I don’t know how easy it is for some of you. For me it turned out to be really easy. It took a while but when I realized what card it is, it was staring me in the face the whole time. A “How didn’t I think of this immediately?” type of thing.

Just to build a little suspense, I’ll go ahead and list a few of the cards that crossed my mind. Just for laughs, I dug out an old 1991 Beckett, to look up the “value” of some of these cards. As a bonus, I’ve scanned the cover of the issue.

Say what you want about Beckett, they nailed it with their cover of issue #71. One of the greatest players ever, in one of the greatest uni’s ever, displaying a swing that can make grown men weep tears of joy. Just fantastic don’t you think?

The first card I thought of was the 1984 Topps Mattingly. This card was the prize of my collection for a long time. I don’t recollect how I got it, just that I had it. I must assume that my mom tracked it down for me somehow. In 1991, the card was worth $28. I saw a lot of 2 go on ebay a few days ago for $6 plus shipping. I don’t know what the Hitman did in these past 17 years to deserve such a drastic drop in value, but he must have done something. What else could explain it?

Sorry, got off topic a little bit there.

1975 George Brett Rookie. This is still probably my favorite card because, like a lot of people, 1975 Topps is one of my favorite sets of all time. According to Beckett, my card was worth $160.

1974 Topps Willie McCovey error card. This card says Washington instead of San Diego. I didn’t realize that I had an error card until after the whole Billy Ripken furor.* I remember looking this card up in Beckett and realizing that I had the error when there were 2 different versions of it. I remember how excited I was that day.

*Funny story. In 8th grade I got a staph infection (osteomyelitis) in my right foot. No one is sure how. I damn near lost the thing (my foot). It was very painful, and as a double whammy, I was too young to make sure that I fully enjoyed the morphine I was on in the hospital. Well, when you're 14 and in the hospital, people just get you stuff. It’s like “OH, you have an infection? Here’s a Nintendo game. Feel better now?” Doesn’t make much sense but that’s what people do. Who was I to argue?**

Well, my friend, Mike Goebelbecker, got me a Cavs shirt. The first time I wore it I realized what it said. “Cleveland Cavalers” not “Cavaliers”. “Cavalers” That’s right. Some people made a shirt that got produced, distributed, and sold with the name spelled wrong. Can you believe that? I was ecstatic. As far as I was concerned, anything with an error was a goldmine. This was some limited edition, one of a kind error shirt and was probably worth a fortune. Fleer screwed a lot of kids up, man.

** I also have a friend, Doug Hart, who forgot his lunch money while I was still out of school. He decided to take up a collection. He ended up with $52. He bought his lunch but didn't know what to do with the rest. He came over to my house and just gave me this big wad of $1 bills like I was some kind of stripper of something. I guess he felt funny about keeping it. So, it was OK to misrepresent himself and take up a false colection if it's for a good cause (like lunch), but the stakes got too high and Doug felt a twinge of conscience. Isn't the morality of children wonderful?

Where was I? Oh yeah. Willie McCovey. The error was worth $25, which was $21 more than just the boring old regular card.

1986 Donruss Jose Canseco Rated Rookie. In Feb 1991, this card was worth $110. Apparently it was past it’s peak because it has that little down arrow next to it. As a kid, if you didn’t have this card… were a dork. Sorry.

Since my return, I haven’t really picked up anything to get attached to. I have some cool cards, but nothing I would consider a centerpiece. Nothing that made me jump for joy when I got it. Not yet, anyway.

No, my centerpiece must come from my past collecting. Those cards I just listed are great. I’m glad I have them. They bring back great memories, but is any of them a centerpiece of a collection? So I asked myself what a centerpiece should be. I guess it came down to a card that is indispensable. A card that I wouldn’t give away or trade for anything. Are any of the cards I thought of like that? No, they aren’t. I’d trade any of them to someone who really wanted it. It probably sounds cheesy but I’d let go of any of them as long as I thought the person getting it was really going to appreciate it.

So, what do I have that I wouldn’t give away? When I figured out the right question, the answer was easy.

My 1990 Score Eric Davis. Beckett value 18 cents.

Eric Davis was awesome. He was my favorite player for a long time. People forget how good he was. Look him up on Baseball Reference (here, I did it for you). He had some monster years. But why this card? It’s because my cousin, Jim, got it for me. For Christmas. You’d have to understand how close we were. We were inseparable. We used to joke that we shared the same brain. There was no one in the world I loved more than my cousin Jim. And he’s probably the only person in the world who knew how much I loved Eric Davis, and thought of me when he saw that plaque with the 1990 Score Eric Davis card. He knew I’d love it. I knew the card itself wasn’t worth much, and I knew the plaque wasn’t worth anything either.

Thinking back on it, it’s pretty hilarious that someone, somewhere, decided to make plaques that held major leaguer’s cards and stuffed one with a 1990 Score card. But somehow, I always had the feeling that the sum was worth more than the parts. I don’t think I was wrong, either.

Tragically, Jim died this past summer in a horrible ballooning accident over the Grand Canyon. OK, that’s not true at all. But he did move to Charlotte. He’s still a cool dude. I'll see him at Christmas with his new daughter (we even had kids together). I'm going to bring a long this silly old plaque.

So there it is, the centerpiece of my collection. The one card I one that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Unless it was a 2000 Bowman Draft Grady Sizemore Auto. A man has needs, you know?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Welcome To Paradise

It looks like The Tribe may have found their closer. After years of Wickman and Borowski it feels like Dennis Eckersley is coming back to Cleveland.
Don't believe what you've heard. The weather's beautiful. And, the river looks great when it's all lit up.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas List

I'm a 34 year old married father of 1 who has a bachelors degree in molecular biology (not as impressive as it sounds) and a doctorate. I write this hoping that in contrast it will illustrate how completely ridiculous it is that my mother still insists on a Christmas list. I thought that the Christmas list request would have disappeared 2 years ago when I graduated from the kids table to the big time. (Truth be told, I love the kids table. I'd eat there for eternity if I could and the younger generation accepted me.) Didn't happen. I have to admit, though, that a 34 year old man making mommy and daddy a Christmas list is probably no more ridiculous than a 34 year old man collecting baseball cards and writing about them on his computer machine.

Nevertheless, my mother has asked for a Christmas list. And, when someone's mother asks for a Christmas list, she better damn well get one. It's been a long time since my parents have bought me any baseball cards. In the late 80's I would basically get the factory sets of most of the major brands. I am no longer interested in factory sets. They just sit there in their factory produced cardboard boxes never to be unwrapped lest the book value moves from$15 to $12, a completely unnecessary loss. There's also no way my mom is going to try to track down any singles. Anyway, I think the last time she did that she paid about $80 for the Billy Ripken card (have I mentioned how awesome my mom is?).

That leaves hobby boxes, which is good because that's what I'd probably like above all else anyway. It would be easy to give her a list of sets and years and the address for blowout cards, Dacardworld, and hookedoncardswholesale.

That's where you guys come in. I want help with the list. I want to know a few boxes that anyone out there reading this post would want. Right now I like just about everything, so I need some way to trim it down a little. What's quirky? What's interesting? What has a good checklist? What has cool rookies?

Please leave, if you don't mind, a few things that would be fun to open in the comments section. After Christmas, we'll see what I got, if anything, and bust it up for all the world to see in a blog post trapped in the ether for all eternity. See, this could be very important.

What boxes would you bust?

Help With Hiroki

I stand before you today with a problem of epic proportions that threatens to cast my recently organized life into complete and total disarray. My self imposed moratorium on opening new packs of baseball cards was recently lifted after the successful completion of entering my collection into a database. My collection, and hence, my life is now organized and has meaning. A few days ago I opened a few packs of 2008 Bowman baseball that had been lying around in patient anticipation of this wonderful event. Shortly after opening the packs I was dutifully and diligently entering those cards into the database assuring that my life would continue to make sense. That’s when all hell broke loose.

What the hell is this? It’s green. Or, as the card companies like to call it “emerald”. (Doesn’t that sound much more impressive?) All of my other 2008 Bowman base cards are red. Why is this one green? I’ve spent the last 2 minutes scouring the internet for an answer to this question to no avail. The Beckett site has no scan of it and makes no mention of a Bowman green, emerald, or any other colorful designation that would be pleasing to the Irish. There is, however, a Bowman “blue”. That sure as hell looks green to me, though.

I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities:

1. This is the regular base card and is green because it is a rookie card (allegedly, due to the RC designation in the corner) and ALL rookie cards are green in this set. This would make me an idiot. Since anyone who regularly reads this blog already knows this, I figured “what’s the difference”.

2. It is some kind of super rare error card and is currently one of the most sought after cards in all of collecting. A mistake with the ink during production made it green instead of blue or red or something.

My gut tells me the likely answer is #1. (My brain would tell me the same thing if it could) However, until informed otherwise, I will assume that #2 is actually what has happened here.

The bidding starts at $2,499.99. Please add $3.50 for shipping plus $.50 for each additional card (I have a lot of rare 1989 Topps available too).

Good luck everyone.

Monday, December 1, 2008

You Stay Classy Cleveland

This has been a brutal year for the Browns. It started with such high hopes. Didn't take long to crash and burn. It's a familiar feeling.

Yesterday our QB, Derek Anderson, went down with an injury with about a minute to go in the game. At this point the season is already lost. The fan favorite QB, Brady Quinn, is done for the year. There isn't much to play for but pride. The Browns still had a small chance to pull out a win, but there isn't all that much riding on the rest of the season.

So what do we (Brown's fans) do? We boo Anderson. Nice.

Here's a guy who went to the pro-bowl last year and lead the team, improbably, to the brink of the playoffs. A few weeks ago he got benched. I was all for it. It didn't seem like Anderson was going to be the long term answer at QB and, with the season down the tubes, we HAD to try to find out what Quinn could do. All Anderson ever did, though, was play his butt off to the best of his ability.

And, we boo him. After an injury. After the game Anderson said a few things to the effect of "he knows we don't like him" and "I'm not trying to drop balls and lose games for us. I know you guys think that sometimes." I don't blame him one bit for being pissed off. He deserves better this. Anyone would.

I hope that the people who booed just happened to be a loud minority of jerks. It makes me embarrassed to be a Brown's fan. I love my team, and I love my city. I've talked a lot about how Cleveland "deserves" this and that. Maybe we don't deserve a damn thing.