Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Night Baseball Mets @ Yankees: Bernie Williams

Subway Series is on the Big Network tonight and we take a look at Yankees former Centerfielder Bernie Williams

2000 Topps Gold #57 Bernie Williams

Bernie Williams formally announced his retirement this week despite having not appeared in a game since 2006. It is a good thing that he finally retired, the Yankees are retiring his number in less than a month.

In reality the #51 has been unofficially retired since Williams last played for the Yankees. Not one but two future Hall of Famers who previously wore #51 took on new numbers when they joined the Bronx Bombers - Randy Johnson (#41), Ichiro (#31)

2000 Topps #57 Bernie Williams (b-side)

In addition to a nice portrait photo of Williams the flip also has a blurb noting Williams 1998 season in which he won a World Series, Batting Title and Gold Glove all in the same season. An accomplishment that was unprecedented.

Williams did make at least one competitive appearance after his unofficial 2006 retirement. In 2009 he played for Puerto Rico as part of the World Baseball Classic. He even threw out the first pitch for one of the games and Team Phungo is happhy to say that we were there.

2010 Phungo #21 Bernie Williams

Today Bernie Williams is a musician, His website includes his soon to be retired #51

Sources and Links
Bernie Williams 51
New York Yankees

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Topps Ignores All Named HUDSON and Swag from Thorzul Will Rule:

Was in a recent Multi-Sport Group Break run by Thorzul Will Rule.

2012 Topps Chrome #HP94 NL Pitching Leaders

This is a nice one for us Phillies fans as we begin the 2015 season with so much dread. The card serves as a reminder of the good old days way back in 2011 when the Phillies had a rotation so stacked that Cole Hamels was relegated to #3 starter behind Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.

Topps packed this League Leaders card with SIX bobbing heads to match the design of the original 1963 Topps #7 NL Pitching Leaders Card. The trouble is that the NL had a 3 way tie for 6th plays in Wins in 2011. Zack Geinke, Daniel and Tim Hudson all had 16 Wins.

Topps decided to go with six heads rather than stopping at 5. Greinke got the floating head and the Hudson's got snubbed.

An oddity in all this is that the Original 1963 Topps League Leaders cards each had 5 players with the exception of ties: The aforementioned card #7 and Card #4 AL Home Runs leaders.  For Heritage Topps had to decide to either A) Echo the original six heads and snub two players or B) go with the default 5 head design and ignore the oddity of the original set.

I think the wrong decision was made. I would have gone with 5 rather than put myself in the position to pick and choose which player gets on the card.

Another observation is that on the original 1963 LL cards, the player in the center was the overall Leader. On this card Topps either elected to or accidentally place the pitchers in order from top left to bottom right. Ian Kennedy led the league in Ws, while our hero Roy Halladay finished 3rd.

2012 Topps Chrome #HP94 NL Pitching Leaders (b-side)

There's your proof of the double Hudson Snub. Both players sit there at 16 Wins with Zack Greinke on the back of the card. 

Hoop and HandEgg
This was a four sport break, I had the Vikings and Celtics in the break. I think my Hockey team may have been the Flyers, but it doesn't matter here as like the 2014-15 Flyers we came up emtpy on the ice. 
2002 Donruss Gridiron Kings #GK-8 Daunte Culpepper

I have seen a handful of Vikings games, I am pretty sure Culpepper is the QB I have seen most.

Bigtime violation on Donruss' part here as the Kings part of the Gridiron Kings flair overlays the artists' signature.I did some hunting around to identify the snubbed artist but was unsuccessful.

2008 Topps Baskeball #160 Chrome Kendrick Perkins (#d 61/288)

2008 Topps baseball was a disaster for a variety of reasons. The shame of it is that there is  a distinct design with the carnival letters however  there were at least two big missteps. 1) The photography for the set was abysmal and 2) The Topps logo being placed Top Center made for ridiculous cropping issues.

By the time the Basketball set was issued Topps had corrected the logo issue by moving it to the lower right. Additionally the Hoop Photography is an improvement over baseball.

Fleer Game Time Michael Bennett (#d 712/2001)

I have a minor college cards collection which this Michael Benntte card will fit into nicely. The design on this Fleer card looks like somebody tried to modernize 1956 Topps and failed miserably.

Sources and Links
Trading Card Database

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

1979 Topps #31 Tom House: Relief Pitcher and Quarterback Coach?

I have started hearing Tom House's name a lot recently.

1979 Topps #31 Tom House

For me, the former major league relief pitcher first reappeared in connection with the Million Dollar Arm film.

More recently House has emerged locally in discussions of the Football team. The Philadelphia Eagles have picked up Tim Tebow as a QB based off of Tom House's endorsement.

The trivia in the Tom House Bio doesn't end with Film and Football. In a 2005 USA Today article he admitted to using steroids as far back as the 1960s. He estimated 6-7 pitchers on every team were experimenting with Steroids or HGH.

On a much happier note, House is also the know for catching Hank Aaron's record break 715th Home Run.

I hope that Tom House is right about Tim Tebow, I find him fun to watch and he is always great press.

I also hope House is wrong about the steroids. 

Sources and Links
Business Insider - Tony Manfred
USA Today

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Baseball America #3 Prospect Addison Russell

A week after calling up Baseball America's #1 Prospect, the Cubs are not calling up the BA #3 Prospect.

2011 Topps USA Baseball #USA-57  Addison Russell

This is a card from the 2011 USA Baseball set which was issued when Addison Russell was still in High School at age 17. 

2011 Topps USA Baseball #USA-57  Addison Russell (b-side)

The reverse side gives a snapshot of Russell's devotion to the game. 

In the early part of the 2015 season the Cubs have become a much watch team.

Addison Russell 2013
An Addison Russell card was the subject of an interview with a Topps rep on an MLB network. A transcript of the conversation can be found here.

Good news for the prospector who picked up the 2013 BowPlat card mentioned in our posting. It is currently up from the $7.77 purchase price in 2013 to $10.50 in current auctions.

Sources and Links 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Performance for the Planet: Earth Day 1990

I have been to numerous festivals throughout my years of concert going. Many of these shows have been to raise awareness for various causes (with varying degrees of merit). 25 years ago on April 21 1990 I went to one to celebrate Earth Day. 

1991 ProSet Super Stars Bruce Hornsby

1990 Marked the 20th Anniversary of Earth Day. Which seemed like a pretty noteworthy accomplishment at the time. Today in 2015 we mark the 45th earth day,

This means we are now five years further removed from the 20th anniversary than that milestone was from the events inception. 

The 20th Anniversary Concert held at Columbia MDs Merriweather Post Pavillion featured at least a dozen acts including Bruce Hornsby who appears on the above trading card.

Year of the No-Hitter
A few weeks ago we mentioned Mark Langston starting a no-hitter (that was completed by teammate Mike Witt). While I was reading up on Langston I cam across an interesting piece of celebrity networking gossip. Langston and Bruce Hornsby are close friends. They met after a Range concert in Seattle.

When he was a free agent prior to the 1990 season Mark Langston checked in with Bruce Hornsby while scouting the Dodgers and Angels. The first phone call Langston got after pitching his no-hitter was from Bruce Hornsby.

Bruce Hornsby and the Range were not the only act involved in the Earth Day Concert.

1990 04 21 Performance for the Planet Lineup

The Earth Day show had to be one of the first that I had been to that had a program. Twenty-Five years later it makes for a fun read. Notable bands included Michelle Schocked, Billy Bragg, Baltimore Mainstay Crack The Sky, The Indigo Girls, Fabulous Thurnderbirds (featuring Steve Ray Vaughn's brother Jimmie, KRS-One, Ziggy Marley and 10,000 Maniacs

Sources and Links
Vittles Tunes - index of our Music related posts
1990: Year of the No-Hitter

LA Times
SI Between Lines 
Encyclopedia Britannica

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Night Baseball: Reds @ Cardinals Ozzie Smith

Sunday Night Baseball visits another one of their favorite cities tonight as the St Louis Cardinals host the Cincinnati Reds.

2008 Goudey #229 Ozzie Smith (SP)

When I was younger Ozzie Smith was widely accepted as the best defensive shortstop of his era. Sometimes perceptions of the masses may not match reality. I am very happy to find out that in Ozzie's case baseball fans and writers were correct. Today's advance metrics have revealed that not only is Smith the best fielding Shortstop of his era. He is the best fielding PLAYER of ANY era.

All-Time Career Leaders in Defensive WAR

There he is, the Wizard all alone at Number 1.

And it is amazing how much separation there is between Ozzie and the two spot, 4th and 13th. His dWAR is 10+% ahead of Belanger's and 25% better than Cal Ripken in fourth place. Perhaps more amazing is his dWAR compared with the Pee Wee Reese who ranks 13th all-time. Smith's 43.4 career dWAR is 69% more than Reese's 25.6.

Think about that, Ozzie Smith has a Defensive WAR number that is 69% better than the guy that ranks 13th all time.

I ran the chart out to #25 just so you can see the first active player on the list Adrian Beltre who had age 36 is climbing up near a lot of Hall of Famers on various leaderboards.

2008 Goudey
2008 was Upper Deck's second iteration of Goudey. The UD Retro set was inspired by Goudey's 1934 release.

In 1934 most of the cards featured a "Lou Gehrig Says..." flair across the bottom that alludes to the concept that Gehrig was the author of the text on the cards b-side. Similarly the 2008 Goudey version carried endorsements by either Derek Jeter (AL) or Ken Griffey Jr (NL)

This card was selected for this weeks Sunday Night Baseball Posting because not only do we get to feature a legend for the home team but we also get to recognizing the visiting squad in a small way by having Junior on the card.

I also wanted to note that selecting the mustard yellow background for this Goudey card is a nice contrast for the Ketchup Cardinals Red of Ozzie's Uniform. 

Lets see what the Kid had to say about the Wizard

2008 Goudey #229 Ozzie Smith (b-side)

The text echoes the SABR Stats above by mentioning Ozzie Smith's 13 consecutive Gold Gloves and also goes on to mention his 1987 Silver Slugger. 

The above Ozzie Smith card is a short print in the set and was packed pulled from a blaster.

Sources & Links
baseball cardpedia
cardboard connection

Saturday, April 18, 2015

1990 Year of the No-Hitter: Perfect Game Near Miss Brian Holman

I understand we have more "Lo-Hitter" than No-Hitter postings right now, but I assure you the real ones are coming.

1993 Donruss #385 Brian Holman

On April 20th 1990 the Seattle Mariners found themselves involved in their second no-hitter moment of the young season. During the opening series of the season they were the victims of a combined no-hitter by Mark Langston and Mike Witt.

Nine days later the M's Brian Holman was facing the Oakland A's and was perfect for 8 2/3 innings.

Alas, Brian Holman was not destined to pitch the 8th Perfect Game in Major League History. With the A's down to their final out manager Tony LaRussa sent out Ken Phelps to pinch hit for Mike Gallego. 

Phelps Homered to deep right field.

In one pitch Holman lost perfect game, No-Hitter and shutout.

In a bit of Irony after failing to retire Ken Phelps,  Holman struck out Future Hall of Famer and on-base machine Rickey Henderson.

Box Score Notes
Yes the Ken Phelps that broke up Holman's perfect game is the same Ken Phelps that Frank Costanza confronts George Steinbrenner about in a 1996 episode of Seinfeld.

The most intriguing oddity of the box score is that despite this being an AL game, Brian Holman made a plate appearance. In the 9th inning Holman batted because DH Pete O'Brien came in as a defensive replacement for Alvin Davis. For better or worse Holman reached on a Mike Gallego error. This meant that Holman also had to run the bases late in the game.

Who knows, maybe batting or being on the bases tired Brian Holman out just enough that he didn't get everything on a the pitch he threw to Ken Phelps and that late to the fateful hit.

This would have likely happened regardless of the error, but Ken Phelps was pinch hitting for.....You got it Mike Gallego.

1990 was Ken Phelps final year in baseball and the Perfect Game busting hit was the last Home Run of his career.

In addition to Rickey Henderson the A's formidable lineup included the Bash Brohters, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco.

The Ms defense behind Holman included Ken Griffey Jr covering Center Field and the pre-DH Edgar Martinez at third base. Dave Valle was the man behind the plate.

1992 Donruss #385 Brian Holman (b-side)

Check the transaction at the bottom of the card. Holman was traded for Mark Langston, who pitched the first Year of the No-Hitter Gem, and was traded with Randy Johnson, who we will be hearing from a bit later in the season.

It is a shame that Holman was unable to finish his no-hitter, How many trades involve 3 different players that have been able to accomplish the feat? 

2015 Brian Holman
Today Holman works as a motivational speaker and pitching instructor.

Sources and Links
Year of the No-Hitter Index
Brian Holman (linkedin)
Hardball Times

a thousand words

a thousand words
2008 World Champions