Tuesday, September 2, 2014

2015 Hall of Fame Candidate Paul Byrd 2001 Topps #656

Today our 2015 HoF Candidates series takes a look at journeyman pitcher Paul Byrd.

2001 Topps #656 Paul Byrd

Byrd spent 14 years in the Majors, but never more than four with any one club. The two teams he spent the most time with were the the Phillies and their current opponent the Atlanta Braves.

During those 14 seasons Byrd racked up 109 wins and represented Phillies on the 1999 Al-Star team. Byrd got into postseason play with four different clubs. The closest he got to the World Series was as a member of the 2007 Indians who pushed the Red Sox to seven games in the ALCS. Earlier in the 07 Postseason Byrd got the W while eliminating the Yankees in the ALDS.

In addition to being a pitcher Paul Byrd is also an author. Following his big Postseason with the Indians Byrd published "Free Byrd", an account of his Faith in God and the temptations associated with Major League Baseball. You can pick up the book for $4

Phungo Verdict
An eon ago, probably about the same time the above card was produced, I was going over pitchers in a Fantasy Baseball magazine. The Magazine had a buzz synopsis along with each players projected stat line. The comment associated with Rick Reed, a replacement player in the Mets organization, was "A Poor Man's Greg Maddux". Further down the roster Paul Byrd was listed as "A Poor Man's Rick Reed". So there you have it Paul Byrd was 2 degrees in talent removed from the Hall of Fame.   

Sources and Links
2015 Topps HoF Candidates
San Francisco Chronicle/SF Gate
Baseball Almanac

Monday, September 1, 2014

Tug McGraw would have been 70: 1979 Topps #345

Over the weekend found out via @HighHeatStats that this past Saturday would have been Tug McGraw's 70th birthday. McGraw seemed perpetually young, his 2004 death from brain cancer at age 59 felt so premature. 

1999 09 15 Tug McGraw Event Poster for Chester County Historical Society Speaker Series. Artwork by Dick Perez
1979 Topps #345 Tug McGraw

15 years ago I got to see Tug McGraw speak as part of a baseball exhibit at the Chester County Historical Society, which at the time was a block away from my apartment.

As one can imagine Tug was a great speaker, He talked about his days as a starting pitcher with the Mets and as a reliever for the 1980 Phillies.

Some of the interesting tidbits I remember are that he pitched against Sandy Koufax. He also batted against him and said that one of his proudest moments was putting the ball in play off of the Hall of Famer.

He brought his personal World Series Trophy (the players each get a smaller replica trophy from the league) from the Phillies 1980 World Championship. He also had his 1969 World Series Ring from the Miracle Mets triumph. McGraw explained that he knew it was a Phillies event but that the then current year (1999) was a Mets Anniversary Year and he wore that ring. The following year would be the Phillies 20th anniversary and he would switch rings in 2000.

Amazingly McGraw passed both items through the audience. He said he had done this has similar speaking engagements and knew he would get them back.

The night of the CCHS event Tugger signed autographs for all in attendance. There was youngster in front of me that had a baseball that literally had the cover ripped away. The boy asked McGraw to sign the ball on the inside of the cover. McGraw mentioned that he had signed thousands of autographs but had never signed on the inside of the horsehide.

McGraw signed both poster that accompanied the event and a 1979 Topps Card that I brought. Both autographs contained his trademark smiley face.  

Sources & Links
Baseball Card Database

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Night Baseball: Alex Gordon 2010 Topps CYMTO #55


I wonder if that sentence has ever been written before. The Phillies are out of it and Team Phungo will need to look elsewhere for playoff baseball this season. One of the teams we will be rooting for is the KC Royals. Hopefully their long playoff drought will end in 2014 and their fans will get to experience October baseball for the first time in about a generation.

2010 Topps CYMTO #55 Alex Gordon 

Beyond their playoff exile the other reason I can get behind the Royals is they have a local minor league (Lo-A) affiliate, The Wilmington Blue Rocks. In recent years I have made it to about one Blue Rocks game a year. Consequently the names of some of their players are familiar to me. Those players include Mike Moustakas, Chrstistian Colon, and Kelvin Herrera.

Alex Gordon bypassed Wilmington during his accelerated ascent to the majors, but he did play a handful of games with the Blue Rocks in 2010 when he was experiencing a prolonged slump. He has had an odd career. In 2005 Gordon was the #2 overall pick in the MLB draft, he was in the majors by 2007 (but not 2006 - see below). He was a big enough star that Topps made buffoons of themselves over him. After a decent sophomore effort in 2008 at age 24, Gordon's career tanked. This hit bottom in 2010 when he found himself all the way back in A ball.

Somewhere in there The Royals moved Alex Gordon from 3rd base to the left field. This is where he has become an all-star. He has won 3 gold gloves at his new position and his offensive production has reached a point expected of a high first round pick. Currently his 5.6 combined WAR ranks 3rd among AL position players. He has a healthy .283/.356/.457 slash line yielding a 124 OPS+. His 17 Homers and 61 RBI lead the Royals. Hopefully his offensive production continues down the stretch and he can help the Royals reach the Postseason.    

2006 Topps RC
It is hard for me to believe that the MLB/MLBPA Rookie Card guidelines  have been in effect for eight years. Basically the MLB rules stipulate that a player must have played in a Major League game prior to appearing on a baseball card. For reasons I don't understand minor league centered sets like Bowman fall outside this realm.

When the new RC standards were introduced in 2006 there was a controversy over the Topps #297 Alex Gordon card. The card was included in the base set, including Rookie Card Logo, but Gordon hadn't yet reached the majors.  Topps withdrew the card.

There are a bunch of odd cutout versions of the card floating around. Topps literally cut out the image of Gordon's yet still issued the card. This is discussed on the flip of the above card:

2010 Topps CYMTO #55 Alex Gordon  (b-side)

I believe Topps has stated "it was an honest mistake" when discussing the card. They didn't say that it was a Publicity Grab to whip the media into a frenzy in the hopes that billions of people will start buying baseball cards again.

Regardless Topps withdrew the cards which is unfortunate for set collectors, because unless they have very deep pockets for a singular card oddity (or they are Keith Olbermann) they will have a gaping hole in their 2006 Topps Complete set. Or they can just use this CYMTO card.

One oddity about the CYMTO Gordon is the 2nd Topps logo. The Red logo in the top right is what appeared on the original 2006 Topps card. The ghosted grey one just upward of middle left is on the CYMTO card only.


Sources & Links
2014 Playoff Previews
Baseball CardPedia
ESPN Darren Rovell

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Phillies 2015 AFL roster: Logan Moore 2011 Bowman #BDPP44

The Phillies 2014 season is in a shambles and we have been looking ahead to Phillies future since prior to the All-Star break. This week the Arizona Fall League rosters were announced. This gives us a glimpse into some of what the Phils may be thinking regarding 2015 and beyond.

2011 Bowman #BDPP44 Logan Moore (rc)

Tommy Joseph was the top catching prospect in the Phillies system, but he has had multiple health issues the last few seasons which may leave an opening for Logan Moore.  Unfortunately Moore's offensive output has been light (.226 /.290/.339 combined A & AA in 2014). On the plus side he has spent the majority of the season in Reading which is up a level for his age.

The Phillies entire minor league system appears pretty soft, and catcher is no exception. When the time comes to replace Carlos Ruiz, I am not sure the answer will be Cameron Rupp, Tommy Joseph or Logan Moore.   If he is adequate defensively Logan Moore may be able to contribute at the Major league level simply because he is a left-handed hitting catcher. This will help him get a nod as a platoon backup and situational pinch hitter.

The Phillies will send seven players to their AFL rep, the Scottsdale Scorpions. Joining Moore will be Pitchers Ryan O'Sullivan, Colton Murray, Nefi Ogando, and Ethan Stewart, along with Shortstop Roman Quinn (BA #10 Phillies Prospect). The final spot is TBA.

Other than Quinn, there doesn't appear to be a lot to get excited about in that list. Hopefully one of the pitchers will find themselves during the fall and can emerge as a 2015 prospect.  

Sources & Links
Arizona Fall League (twitter)
@ChrisEckstein via That Balls Outta Here 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Snapshots 2014 08 22 White Sox @ Yankees

Team Phungo took a road trip to New York this past weekend to catch what is likely our last Derek Jeter home game. 

Derek Jeter (Tyler Flower Catching - I believe this is in the 1st inning)

We may have been there to see the Captain but the evening belonged to Martin Prado.  The veteran super utility player got both a Home Run and a Walk off single accounting for 3 of the Yankees runs in the 4-3 victory.

Jeter went 1-5 in the game with the ht being a single. Regardless the Yankees crowd was glad to see him play and showed their appreciation.


Shane Greene vs Tony Abreu

The Three White Sox runs came courtesy of a Home Run by Cuban Rookie of the Year candidate Tony Abreu.  The photo above is of the pitch upon which Abreu hit is homer. The ball just cleared the wall in left center. Greene settled down after a miserable first inning and was able to pitch into the 6th. 

John Danks vs Jacoby Ellsbury (5th inning) 

We didn't sit there much but our tix were int he CF bleachers. It was a fun atmosphere for a game. We had an obstructed view that kept us from seeing Left Field, but it to allow me to take some ok shots of the action at the plate.

In my opinion Yankee Stadium is better lit than Citizen's Bank Park. There is a bank of lights behind the plate that were not even lit during the game. Not sure of the reasoning, but adequate illumination form the remaining lights does seem a possibility

Retired Numbers

The Yankees retired Joe Torre's #6 the day after our game, so I imaging Friday night was the last time that the Retired number board had "only"17 numbers displayed.


On The Road: 2014 0822+ NYC

Central Park
Citiizen M
Yankee Stadium (White Sox 3 @ Yankees 4)
Whitney Museum

The Breslin
This is Our Youth

NJ Transit

On The Road: 2014 0812+ DC

Stupid F-ing Bird (and Wooly Mammoth)
Jose Andres Pepe
National Portrait Gallery
Compass Rose

The Swann House
the Board Room
Hilton Dupont Circle
National Zoo

American History Museum



I-95 In a rainstormDC Driving

a thousand words

a thousand words
2008 World Champions