Monday, March 31, 2014

Opening Day: 2009 UD Piece of History CSC-UK Utley & Kinsler

We have already had Australia Opening Day and ESPN Opening Night. Today we finally get to Phillies Opening Day.
2009 UD A Piece of History #CSC-UK Chase Utley and Ian Kinsler

Five years ago both the Phillies own Chase Utley and the Rangers Ian Kinsler were coming off exceptional seasons. Among second basemen, Utley led all of Major League baseball in Offensive WAR, Kinsler was 2nd in the AL to Dustin Pedroia.

Today both players find themselves at a significantly different stature. Utley (age 35) hasn't played 140+ games since 2009, and Kinsler (31) has been jettisoned by the Rangers in favor of younger talent.

Reading the Competition
RTC will be returning for 2014. I hope to feature some two team cards like the Utley-Kinsler combo above.  I expect this will present us with some interesting pairings and players for discussion.

Source
Chase Utley Player Collection Index
Baseball-ref.com

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Night Baseball: Steve Garvey 1986 Fleer League Leaders #15

Yes the Dodgers may have already played a pair of games, but to me MLB Opening Day is still in progress. Tonight the Dodgers visit the division rival San Diego Padres to begin the domestic portion of the season.

1986 Fleer League Leaders #15 Steve Garvey 

I will always think of Steve Garvey as a Dodger, but he did have a significant stint with the Padres. Five years of Garvey's career were spent in San Diego. His tenure there was so successful that the Padres retired #6 in honor of Garvey.

1986 Fleer League Leaders
This is a special edition set that Fleer put together in 1986. The 44 card complete set boxes were distributed at Walgreen's. I think "Leaders" in the set name refers to being a team leader, the cards certainly do not point to any specific statistical category for which the player led the league.

Checker
The 44 card checklist for the set runs in alphabetical order by surname. #38 Juan Samuel is the sole Phillies player on the list, although the set does also include Mariano Duncan, Julio Franco, Keith Moreland, Dale Murphy, Pete Rose and Ryne Sandberg with other clubs. There are several Hall of Famers in there including Tom Seaver, Ozzie, Robin Yount, Carlton Fisk, Ripken, Carew, Gary Carter, Kirby Puckett, and Phil Niekro.

Since this is Fleer each Box contains six random team stickers. Keeping with today's theme, this pack happened to be a Padres Hot Box:


1984 Padres
This season the Padres who are struggling for current success are once again celebrating the 1984 squad, who they just honored in 2009. 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the 1984 Padre, which took the NLCS from the Cubs despite losing the first 2 games of the 5 game series.  Steve Garvey was the MVP of the series, He batted .400 with a team leading 7 RBIs including 5 in game 4 which he also ended with a Game Winning Home Run.


Welcome back baseball - I hope to continue with the Sunday Night Baseball postings throughout the season. Perhaps the Phillies will find some success in 2014 and find themselves on the big show at some point.
 

Sources
Baseball-ref 
Padres
Bob Lemke's Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards
Gaslamp Ball
2009 Padres

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mike Schmidt 2013 Topps Chasing History #CH-92

The Phillies have revamped their broadcast lineup for 2014. Three of the teams alums are coming in to do color commentary: Jamie Moyer and Matt Stairs from the 2008 World Champs and Hall of Fame 3rd baseman Mike Schmidt.


2013 Topps Chasing History #CH-92 Mike Schmidt (Gold)

Schmidt is apparently healthy after a recent cancer scare. He had surgery and radiation treatment related to mole that was found on his back. Recent scans have shown Schmidt to be cancer free.

During the regular season the Phillies plan on having Mike Schmidt join the TV broadcast team as part of a three man booth with lead Tom McCarthy and either Moyer or Stairs.

Mike Schmidt will turn 65 later this year, He appears to have remained in good physical shape while retired. Hopefully this will aid him in avoiding a recurrence of any cancer.

2013 Topps Chasing History
CH is a 150 card insert set spread evenly across the the three series of of 2013 Topps. The card come in both silver and gold variations. I am not sure but assume gold is more scarce

2013 Topps Chasing History #CH-92 Mike Schmidt (Gold)
2013 Topps Chasing History #CH-92 Mike Schmidt (Silver)

 

More Schmidt
Phungo HoF Index

Sources
Phillies,com
h/t the Phillies Room 
baseball cardpedia
 

Monday, March 24, 2014

2014 03 08 Card Show Valley Forge PA: 1952 Topps HOF Larry Doby

Last week as part of the Year of the Horse series we profiled Ellis Valentine and his famous half face mask card. One of the interesting things that was noted in a linked Jeff Pearlman interview is the an early mentor of Valentine was Larry Doby


1952 Topps #243 Larry Doby

In 1947 Three months after Jackie Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Larry Doby became the first African-American player in the AL. On July 5, 1947 Doby pinch hit in the 7th inning of a game between the White Sox and Indians.

A year later Doby was a key member of the Indians squad that won the 1948 World Series. During the series he led the team in hits and batting average. 66 years later it remains the Indians most recent World Championship.

Larry Doby would go on to lead the AL in Home Runs twice (1952, 1954). His 1954 performance was good enough to place him 2nd in the MVP voting (Yogi Berra). Doby led the league in WAR in 1952 and oWAR in 1950. The MVPs those years went to Phil Rizzuto (1950) and Bobby Shantz (1952). It should be noted that Shantz's pitching WAR did outpace Doby 9.6 - 7.0.

For the Collector
I picked this card up at the Valley Forge Card Show for $8.  A 1952 Topps card of an Iconic Hall of Famer for $8 stinking bucks. That is my victory of the year.

2014 03 08 VF Card Show
1952 Topps #243 Larry Doby
1969 Topps #6 LL HR Dick Allen McCovey Banks  
1973 Topps #503 Phil Niekro
  

Sources
Baseball-ref
baseball Hall of Fame

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Phillies 2014+ Cody Asche 2013 Topps #US71 (RC)

The Phillies drafted Cody Asche in the fourth round of the Draft in June 2011, less than 3 years later he is penciled in as the teams opening day third baseman. A year ago the Phillies picked up Michael Young to fill the 3B role, Ideally the Phils would have made the postseason, Young would be back for a transition year and Asche wouldn’t be coming up until the end of this season rather than last. 


2013 Topps #US71 Cody Asche (RC)

Of course, things didn’t go that way and we got our first look at Cody. His debut was fair at best – The .235 batting average in 162 ABs is simply not good enough for a Major League corner infielder. The other problematic number was Asche’s 43 strikeouts which projects out to 140+ in a full 600 PA season. Asche showed decent power with 5 homers and 14 XBH. His defense is seen as average, advanced defensive metrics in a limited MLB sample back that up with a slightly below average dWAR.

Currently Cody Asche’s biggest issue is hitting LHP. All 5 of his Homers were vs righty’s, at lower levels only 3 of 15 HR were versus southpaws. Furthermore his 2013 slash line vs LHP across both majors and AAA was .252/.299/.361 in 147 ABs.

2014+
In 2005 at age 26 Chase Utley played his first full season, He batted .291 with 28 Homers and 105 RBIs. However, in 128 ABs versus lefties he batted .219 with only 7 of those homers. His vs LHP slash line for the season was .219/.348/.469. A key difference between Utley's 2005 and Asche 2013 vs LHP is that Utley worked walks. Utley had 28 hits vs LHP, but he also had 25 walks - this accounted for an OBP that was 129 points higher then his BA. Asking Cody Asche to become Chase Utley would be way to large of a request - but I believe for Cody to be an everyday player it is necessary for him to be more selective at teh plate, especially vs Lefties. 

Phungo Sez
Honestly, I don't think that Asche his ready to play everyday for a playoff caliber team. I also don't think that the 2014 Phillies fall into that premium category. If he stays in the majors all of 2014 I see Asche at .281 average .331 OBP, 20 HR, 67 RBI with a WAR of 1.8 (2.1 oWAR)

Phillies 2014+ Index
Cody Asche WAR + 1.8
Cole Hamels WAR +3.8
Ryan Howard WAR +1.0


Sources
Baseball-ref



Saturday, March 22, 2014

MLB in Australia: 2009 Bowman Chrome #BCW60 Brad Harman

Major League Baseball held Opening Day down under overnight. The Dodgers won the game 3-1 behind the always fine pitching of Clayton Kershaw. Scott Van Slyke produced the offense for LA with a 2 Run Homer. Mark Trumbo picked an RBI in his first game with the D-Backs.

2009 Bowman Chrome World Baseball Classic #BCW60 Brad Harman

Australia hasn't sent many players to the majors, but at least one of them played for the Phillies. Brad Harman played a handful of games for the 2008 World Championship Phillies. In 10 ABs he picked up a single hit, an RBI Double off Zach Duke and the Pirates on April 25.

Unfortunately that was pretty much the end of Harman's career. He was released by the Phillies in 2009 and the following year he was suspended by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority for violating the agencies anti-doping rules while playing in the US. He has been eligible to play since 2011, but I found no evidence that he has returned to the game. 

Sources 
Baseball-cardpedia
ESPN
Herald Sun (Melbourne AU)
baseball-ref

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Phillies 2014+ Cole Hamels 2009 Topps #299

We are a half decade removed from the spring of 2009. That spring Cole Hamels was 25 years old coming off a World Championship and a World Series MVP award.

2014 Topps #299 Postseason Highlights Cole Hamels

2009 ended up being Cole Hamels worst season....to date. 2014 is full of uncertainty for the now 30 year old Southpaw. He has a mysterious injury the Philllies remain mum about, Scheduled throwing sessions have been scratched, Hamels has described the issue as arm fatique and minor. None of this is comforting to Phils fans as Cole's 2014 Debut keeps getting delayed.

2013 Cole
This makes Hamels new season tough to predict. It may be true that Hamels was a victim of poor run support in 2013, but his overall performance was quite average. Whils his WHIP, H/9, BB/9, K/9, and K/BB numbers each were off only slightly, the cumulative effect of the averages was that his ERA+ dropped to 106 well below his career average of 123. This is in a season when the rest of the leagues pitchers were putting up unprecedent strikeout numbers. It could very well be that Hamels was suffering from his present arm issues last season.

Sim Scores
To gain some insight into what Cole Hamels season may 2014 season may look like we took a look at his age 29/30 similarity score matches in Baseball-ref. Of Hamels top 10 matches 2 are active in his class (Tim Lincecum and Zack Greinke) and Juan Pizarro was a reliever. This leaves us with seven comparables:  



Yellow = Age 30 seasons of the 7 pitchers that comp with Hamels
light grey line 1 = average of all 7 pitchers
light grey line 2 = average of the bottom 5 pitchers on the list
Grey = Team Phungo 2014 Projection

Four of the 7 pitchers pitched full seasons. Jake Peavy had an unprecedented back/torso injury midway through his age 29 season. During the winter prior to 1990 Kevin Appier had an off the field injury. Sid Fernandez missed about half a season due to a series of  knee injuries.  I created two lines of averages, the first line is all 7, the second line excludes Peavy and Appier due to the timing/type of injuries. I kept Fernandez because his injury was basically in season and not season ending. 

Those odds would give Hamels a 4 of 7 chance of getting 200 innings (57%) for the full set. 4 in 5 (80%) if you exclude Peavy and Appier.

Those are fairly frightening numbers for the Phillies who likely need many things to go their way to be competitive. Hamels looks to be gone for at least part of April which jeopardizes any chance he has of getting 200 innings. 

Beyond that 2013 for Hamels was an average major league season. Among the comps Bob Welch and Fernandez's abbreviated season were the two that could be considered significantly above average. The rest were slightly above average and sadly I think that is the best we can hope for from Mr Hamels.    

2014
I see Hamels 2014 Numbers roughly matching his 2013 averages, which slightly lest output due to missing a month of the season - 8-10, 3.65 ERA with 185 innings. His 2013 WAR was 4.6 - for 2014 I am penciling Hamels in for 3.8 WAR.
 
2009 Topps Postseason Hightlights
 
2014 Topps #299 Postseason Highlights Cole Hamels (b-side)

Minor quibble with the flip side of this 09 PSH card - As the card mentions in the text, the 2009 Series included an unprecedented 2 day rain delay. This meant the Series ran through October 29th, not the 27th.

Phillies 2014+ Index
Cole Hamels
Ryan Howard

Sources
Baseball-ref
New York Times
Rory Costello @ Sabr.org - Sid Fernandez
ESPN Chicago
MLB.com
Larry Stone @ Seattle Times

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Year of the Horse 1954: Ellis Valentine 1981 Topps #445

Today we return to our Chinese New Years postings - in hindsight spacing these out across several postings may not have been a great idea. Today finds us on birth year 1954.

1981 Topps #445 Ellis Valentine (image swiped from baseball card database)


Iconic cards come in a couple different varieties.

The obvious ones are Cards of Superstars like Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays and Hall of Fame rookie cards. 

Less obvious are the quirky cards such as Oscar Gamble 1976T Traded or the 1975 Topps Kurt Bevacqua bubble gum champ card. The 1981T Ellis Valentine fits into this category. The partial face mask is one of the most memorable looks in baseball card history.  

Valentine wore the face mask to protect a jaw that was busted by a Roy Thomas pitch in an Expos Cardinals game on May 30 1980. The injury put Valentine on the DL for six weeks. The rest of the 1980 campaign went fairly well for Valentine, but he never really was the same hitter following that season.

Last year Jeff Pearlman (formerly of SI) published a very interesting interview with Ellis Valentine who credits Larry Doby as being a mentor early in his career. Valentine also discusses his drug use, apparently part of the turnaround was the beaning. After that Ellis could see his career would conclude at some point and he wanted to put 5 more years together to help with his finances and take care of his parents.

Those changes have led Ellis Valentine to a career in counseling. According to his linkedIn profile he is involved the mental health care field with a couple of organizations based in the Dallas Texas area.

If you want to keep up with Valentine he has a pretty active twitter feed @EValentine17. There is also a Ellis Valentine website where he offers the T-Shirt that evokes the half face mask featured on the 1981T card above.

Year of the Horse 1954
1954 YTH features a pretty stellar class of Hall of Famers including Ozzie Smith, Gary Carter, Dennis Eckersley and Valentine's Expos teammate Andre Dawson. Other 54 YTH are former Phil Keith Moreland, Willie Randolph, Ken Phelps Denny Martinez and two players that died young Mark Fidrych and Donnie Moore.

Year of the Horse Index
1954 Ellis Valentine
1966 Curt Schilling
1978 Jimmy Rollins
1990 Yasiel Puig

Sources
Jeff Pearlman
baseball-ref.com
LinkedIn
baseball card database

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St Patty's Day - 1981 Topps #40 Tug McGraw

Welcome to St Patrick's day 2014. If you're a traditionalist, you may hate the Green uniforms that many teams bring out for the Holiday. If you like the special Unis then you may have Tug McGraw to thank

1981 Topps #40 Tug McGraw

According to legend, the Green Uni trend was started a generation ago when Tug McGraw had his uniform dyed green for a March 17 Sprint Training game.

To mark the occasion we present the Tuggers 1981T card which features the holidays signature color, green.

If you take part in St Pats festivities today, have a toast to the Tugger, as it was his favorite holiday.  

Sources
Philly.com

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Snapshots 2014 03 15 Penguins 0 @ Flyers 4

A couple of pix from the first half of the Penguins vs Flyers St Pats Home & Home on Saturday.

Flyers Fred Shero Tribute

The Flyers celebrated Fred Shero's entry into the Hockey Hall of Fame throughout the game. Immediately prior to the game fans were treated to a video tribute. Here the Jumbotron displays Shero's memorable quote:

"Win today and We Walk Together Forever"

Philadelphia Flyers HoF Fred Shero (photo from 2008 12 16)


Shero has been in the Flyers Hall of Fame since 1990. He is honored in the teams HoF display case which resides in the Wells Fargo Center.

 GameShots

 
Sidney Crosby vs Claude Giroux

The Flyers won the contest easily. Goalie Steve Mason pitched a 4-0 shutout, The Flyers played very well and made the first place Penguins look terrible.

Anytime the Penguins come to town it is a great time to come out and boo Sidney Crosby. In the pxi above he is squaring off with the Flyers captain Claude Giroux. The Flyers success was a product of keeping Crosby in check - The NHLs point leader had a game high(or low) -3 in plus/minus.

Good Guys

 
Matt Read

Two of the four Flyers Goals were Matt Read shown above. Sean Couturier picked up the assist on each of Read's goals. Scottie Hartnall and Vincent Lecavalier each had a goal for the good guys, Giroux had a pair of assists. 


Victory Handshake
   
The Flyers celebrate the W - Goalie Steve Mason featured here in the gear. And yes I have been playing with the iPhoto functions. Makes mediocre pix look better. 

Sources

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Swag from Night Owl Cards - 2014 Topps #296 Domonic Brown

Team Phungo took a mini staycation during the early part of this week, unfortunately we had to return to the real world and all of it's concerns yesterday. The stress of the first workaday under the early AM of DST was mitigated a bit by fun card package from Greg over at Night Owl Cards that I received upon arriving home.


2014 Topps Red #296 Domonic Brown

Dom Brown is the Phillies only young star. Ok, "star" may be a bit generous. Browns first couple of season have been mixed. There was a couple of weeks early in 2013 when Dom hit the cover off the ball, Phils fans like myself are hopeful that this is a glimpse into who Domonic Brown will be in the future.

2014
Brown is having a lousy spring. He his hitting .107 through his first 28 ABs, before hitting a triple on Wednesday he was yet to collect and extra base hit. I am hoping for much bigger things from Domonic in the regular season. His 27 dingers in 2013 led the team, although the bulk of those came during the aforementioned 12 home run outburst in May. If Brown can come up with similar power and reach base a tad more that would make me happy. Dom can also be a bit comical in the field this shows up in his dWAR number which is a negative, Brown is young enough that hopefully he can turn this around as well.

 More Swag

2013 Topps Opening Day #M-2 Phillie Phanatic
2013 Allen & Ginter's mini #247 Ryan Howard

Another Phils player that the Phanatic has high hopes for is Ryan Howard, who we talked about last week in our Phillies 2014+ feature. Here we have a nice 2013 A&G mini of Mr Howard. For whatever reason there seems to be a lot of cards of Howard in the field, which is a bit of a mystery as he is often a liability with the glove.

2002 Donruss Originals #233 Rated Rookie Anderson Machado

Nice retro card from somebody other than Topps here. Machado never held on at the major league level. He has been kicking around the minors and according to Baseball-ref was last spotted in the Italian League.

1992 Sargento Mootown Snackers #16 Terry Mulholland

Definitely one for the Phungo type collection here. Never saw any cards from this issue. Also one of my player collections is dedicated Mulholland, at some point I will get organized enough to post some checkers for those palyers.

Even More Swag



A nice mix of Inseerts, Oddballs, Stars, and Rememember Me cards. Thanks to NOC for all the Phils cards and the nice variety.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

2014 03 08 Card Show Valley Forge PA: $2 Box - 1969 Topps #6 LL HR Dick Allen & 2 HoF

Next up on our VF show Show n Tell is a card from the $2 Bin.


1969 Topps #6 League Leaders Willie McCovey Dick Allen Ernie Banks

This is a pretty unique LL card for Phils fans. We have one of the clubs most prolific Home Run hitters flanked by a pair of first ballot Hall of Famers.  It was the 2nd of 3 Home Run titles for Willie McCovey who led the league in 1963 and would win the HR title again in 1969. Dick Allen finished second in the league with 33 followed by Banks at 32. It was the 2nd time that Allen was runner-up, he would finally win an Home Run title in 1972 as a member of the ALs White Sox. 1968 was the last time Ernie Banks would hit 30+ Home Runs. Previously Banks had won HR titles in 1958 and 1960. 

In 1968 McCovey's 36 Homers was the lowest total to lead the NL since Ralph Kiner won the title with 23 dingers in 1946. Since '68 the Home Run title has been won with 36 or less homers five times 1974 Mike Schmidt (36), Schmidt again in Strike shortened 1981 (31), 1984 Schmidt and Dale Murphy(36),  1992 Fred McGriff (35), and last year when Pedro Alvarez and Paul Goldschmidt each had 36.  

2014 03 14 VF Card Show
1973 Topps #503 Phil Niekro

Sources 
Dick Allen Player Collection Index 

Baseball-ref

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

2014 03 08 Card Show Valley Forge PA: Quarter Box - 1973 Topps #503 Phil Niekro

The Philly Show returned to Valley Forge this weekend and team Phungo was able to pick up a couple of bargains, fun cards and other oddities. I was primarily looking for Phillies, Hall of Famers, and subset checkoffs.

 1973 Topps #503 Phil Niekro

Found this one when I was walking out the door.  Vintage Mid-Number of a Hall of Famer. Phil Niekro picked up 318 career wins. Checking this b-side of this card one finds that going into the 1973 season Phil's hobby was basketball (cartoon) and he had 97 career wins. This card is nowhere near his rookie card but Niekro still had 221 wins in front of him when the card was published.

For 1973 Topps mid-number (397-528) commons 25 cents ain't a bad price - you sometimes find them in dime bins. But for an HoF that's a deal.

I picked up 7 other cards in the quarter bin to fill out a $2 purchase including a few 1971-72T Mid-His, as well as as some 1960T and 1966T commons.

We will have a few more card show postings over the next couple days. More Phils and Vintage on the way.

Phil Niekro Phungo HoF profile
1966 Topps #28 

Sources 
Baseball Card Database 
Baseball-ref

Monday, March 10, 2014

Phillies 2014+ Ryan Howard 2014 Topps Target Red #105 - NOT a sparkle SP

With our 1964 Phillies and Topps Heritage features we have been looking at baseball past a lot recently. Today we are going to turn the page a bit, the Phillies have returned to Clearwater and are playing real live spring training games. It is time for us to start taking a look at Phillies present and future. Which means it is new Feature Time: Phillies 2014+. Notice I added a '+' at the end of the feature title - we will be looking at both this season and the Phillies down the road. We leadoff by looking at the Phillies highest paid position player Ryan Howard



2014 Topps Target Red  #105 Ryan Howard


Ryan Howard isn’t a great Baseball Player. There it is, it is tough to admit, but it is true. He is a good baseball player and perhaps can even be very good. Despite the Rookie of the Year award (deserved) and MVP (not deserved) his numbers do not really warrant All-Star consideration. He has only one season where he was top 10 in Offensive WAR, 6.1 good enough for fourth place in 2006. That is eight years ago. In 2014 Howard is coming off of 2 injury shortened season in which he produced decent power numbers when available but little else. I think expecting the 40+ HR years that Howard put up from 2007-09 is far too optimistic. Hell his 30 HR years of 2010-11 is pretty optimistic.


Baseball-ref SimScores
I am fascinated with similarity scores. Bill James develop the concept which Baseball-ref/Sean Foreman have modified and placed into an easily analyzable form. Ryan Howard doesn't have a close comp, but he does have some interesting names in his top 10 comps. They range from Hall of Famer Willie Stargell down to Howard's closest comp, Richie Sexson. For Phillies fans Sexson is a particularly depressing comp, he never played a day of baseball beyond age 33 - Ryan Howard turned 34 during the offseason. The other comps include Mark McGwire, Cecil Fielder, Frank Howard, and oddly David Justice.

At 34+ Stargell had the best remaining career WAR (+17.4) followed closely by McGwire(+17.2). The average of the 10 players was +7.2. Another aspect of the SimScores in Baseball-ref is career stat projections. For Ryan Howard (currently at 311 Homers) projects for 395 career Home Runs. There it is kids - enjoying them while they last. Ryan Howard has 84 home runs left in him. This is down from his career peak (2011) when his expected HR total topped out at 425.

I project Ryan Howard to have a healthy 2014 season, but to be closer to his 2011 numbers than his MVP numbers - Phungo sez 28 HR, 100 RBI and .267 Avg/ .342 OBP 1.0 WAR


2014 Topps Target Red - NOT A SPARKLE
 

Just wanted to note that for me the last two season of Topps Target Red cards have been a bit rich in color for my taste. I like getting my retail at Target because red is the Phillies color but the is just a touch dark for me.

Not A Sparkle 
And this card is not a Sparkle Variation. Stupid Topps Gimmick. 

2014 Topps Review
Phillies Checker (Carlos Ruiz)
First Pack  (Matt Davidson) 
Blue Blaster (Jimmy Rollins)

Sources
Baseball-ref.com
Cardboard Connection

Sunday, March 9, 2014

2014 BA Baseball Prospect Handbook Cover Curse

Yes my Baseball America Prospect Handbook arrived last week. A day later we got the Baseball news that coverboy Miguel Sano would be getting Tommy John surgery. So yes Miquel Sano has become the victim of a cover curse.

2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook

To be honest, as far as I know, there is no BA cover jinx. Regardless,  I am disappointed to see that we will not get to see Miguel Sano make his big league debut this year.

I pick up the prospect guide every year, much of the info is on-line, but I do enjoy having the book handy while watching a game and a younger player appears in the game.

Currently the Phillies prospects are mediocre at best - kind of similar to the big club. One of the clubs issues the past couple of seasons is that when veterans get injured, there aren't any insurance players at the lower levels. For 2014 BA ranked the Phillies system 22nd of the 30 teams, which I suppose means us Phils fans may not have much to look forward to on the prospect front.

Hopefully for the Phillies there is a surprise prospect out there that will help them get back in playoff form. 

Source
2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Viral Snowplow Video has Phillies connection - Hilly Flitcraft

This week the video below featuring a reporter from our local Fox affiliate went viral

Fox 29 Reporter Steve Keeley vs the snowplow

The video has gotten around a good bit has been featured on all the nighttime talk shows Fallon, Kimmell, Letterman's top ten list, and The Daily Show's moment of Zen.

Most outlets had an abbreviated version of the video, this clip shows the beginning of the reportt where Steve Keeley mentions that he is in Woodstown New Jersey, a small town across the river from Wilmington Delaware. Then he goes on to mention that one of the town's notable natives was Hilly Flitcraft who played three games for the 1942 Philadelphia Philllies.

Who was Hilly Filtcraft?
Sounds like a good time to do some research on Mr Flitcraft. The 1942 Phillies struggled mightily, and due to the WWII military draft they also had a depleted roster. This did give Hildreth Milton Flitcraft his opportunity. "Hilly" was only 19 at the time and was the youngest player in the NL. Unfortunately for him, his inexperienced showed, Flitcraft got into 3 games pitched 3 1/3 innings. It was the 1/3 of an inning that got him. In an outing on September 6th he faced five batters 4 reached base - Flitcraft was charged with 3 runs 2 earned.

Hilly returned to Phillies spring training in 1943 (which was held in Hershey PA) but it appears that he was called into the service prior to the season. Flitcraft returned to baseball, but never made it out of the minor leagues. One of his minor league stops was with the 1945  Wilmington Blue Rocks who were at the time affiliated with the Phillies. Following his career Hilly Flitcraft was involved in the Insurance business locally and later moved to Boulder Colorado, where he lived until passing away in 2003 at the age of 79.

Fun Fact
Hilly Flitcraft only played in 3 games with the Phillies but wore 2 different uniform numbers,  16 and 8.

Sources
Baseball-ref
Larry Shenk - PennLive.com
Historic WoodstownGoogle Maps
Janice Flitcraft Obituary - Daily Camera (Boulder CO)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

2014 Heritage the Originals - 1965 Topps Embossed #13 Al Kaline

Congrats to all who guessed Al Kaline

1965 Topps Embossed #13 Al Kaline

As I noted earlier today, I have no idea how you would figure out who this is without the name attached. Al Kaline is age 79 now, and if somebody told me the image on this card was of a 79 year old man, I would believe them. The image looks closer to a groundskeeper from "Eight Men Out" then he does to a mid-1960s All-Star ballplayer.  

The original 1965 Topps Embossed cards were inserted randomly to regular packs. Similarly their 2014 Heritage counterparts will be inserts. The set size is not very similar, In 1965 the set consisted of 72 cards. The present day checker consists of 15 cards, which leads me to believe that these will be a pretty tough Heritage pull. The Dodgers get 3 Reps in the small set, with the Tigers, Orioles and Yankees all posting 2. None of the 15 players in Heritage Embossed are Phillies, but they need not be upset - The World Champion Boston Red Sox and NL Champion Cardinals also came up empty as well.  

1965 Topps/2014 Heritage Index   
Base - #534 John Herrnstein 
Rookie Cup - #460 Dick Allen 
Rookie Stars - #282 Dick Estelle & Masanori Murakami 
League Leaders - #4 HRs Mays, B Williams, Callison, Cepeda, Jim Hart
World Series - #139 The Cards Celebrate
2010 Topps Vintage Collection - #VLC2 Johnny Mize
 
More info on 1965 Topps
The entire 1965 Topps Series was covered by Kevin B of Orioles Card "O" the day on The Great 1965 Topps Project
Cardboard Connection
Sports Collectors Digest (TS O' Connell)
Golden Age of Baseball Cards
Dean's Cards
Beckett

PSA

Sources & Links
Phungo Al Kaline HoF Index
Cardboard Connection
Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards

Phungo Challenge: 2014 Heritage the Originals - 1965 Topps Embossed

Do you have any idea who this is?

1965 Topps Embossed ????

Yes I have blurred out the player name and team. This is to demonstrate just how weak Topps Embossed was. The only way to differentiate the players is by reading the text.

Did baseball caps really look like that in 1965??? 

Tonight we will discuss this card further and it's relationship to 2014 Heritage.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

2014 Heritage the Originals - 1965 Topps #4 League Leaders Home Runs

The typical format of the 1965 Topps League Leaders has been referred to by Night Owl Cards as Olympic Podium style. The League Leader on the Top, with two smaller photos of the 2nd and 3rd  place finishers. Of course in many categories there are ties. Take the 1964 Home Run Leaders


1965 Topps #4 League Leaders Home Run

This LL card is packed full of players - It is kind of a cool one for Phillies Fans. You get Johnny Callison plus 3 Hall of Famers.  I am sure it is a must have for Giants fans as well, I mean how many LL cards have 3 players from the same team.

Willie Mays and Billy Williams sort of get equal billing, although Mays had 14 more Home Runs then Williams (47-33). Callison and the other folks on the bottom tier each tallied 31 dingers.  This can all be seen on the flip of the card:


1965 Topps #4 LL Home Runs (b-side)

Kind of interesting feature here, the HR hitters are listed down to 18 and then we are presented with a separate list of all the players that hit a Grand Slam. The latter list includes the only career grand slam hit by Pete Rose, which was off the Phillies and Dallas Green.  

Traditional 1965T Olympic Podium

1965 Topps #3 LL Home Runs (image swiped from baseball card database)

The AL counterpart to our titular card is a fine example of the 3 man LL card, with some stellar reps in Harmon Killewbrew, Boog Powell, and Mickey Mantle. 

MLB 2013 did feature some ties in the LL categories, it will be interesting to see how this is handled for Topps in 2014 Heritage.

More Banished Chris Short
A few weeks ago we discussed the omission of Phillies pitcher Chris Short from Topps cards prior to 1967. The fine creative folks over at Cards that Never Were figured out that this meant that Topps had to create an NL ERA LL card without Short, who placed 3rd in 1964. CTNW put together their own custom card that is pretty sweet.  Cards that Never Were is on a bit of Chris Short binge - their example of the 1965T Chris Short card is here. (hat tip to Chris Short fan Jim From Downingtown for pointing me to the CTNW LL posting)


1965 Topps/2014 Heritage Index   
Base - #534 John Herrnstein 
Rookie Cup - #460 Dick Allen 
Rookie Stars - #282 Dick Estelle & Masanori Murakami 
2010 Topps Vintage Collection - #VLC2 Johnny Mize
World Series - #139 The Cards Celebrate

More info on 1965 Topps
The entire 1965 Topps Series was covered by Kevin B of Orioles Card "O" the day on The Great 1965 Topps Project
Cardboard Connection
Sports Collectors Digest (TS O' Connell)
Golden Age of Baseball Cards
Dean's Cards
Beckett

PSA

Sources
2014 Topps 

Monday, March 3, 2014

2014 Heritage the Originals - 1965 Topps #139 World Series The Cards Celebrate

There are two Subsets in 1965 Topps, the League Leaders cards that run #1-12 and the World Series cards which run #132-139. Today we look at the last card in the latter set.

1965 Topps #139 World Series the Cards Celebrate

The eight card 65T World Series Subset consists of one card for each game of the classic 64 series plus the single wrap-up card shown above.  The 2013 World Series Last year only went 6 games, I suspect Topps will short the Heritage subset to 7 cards. One other coincidence with the 2014 Heritage subber is that the Cardinals will be featured once again, except this time they will be on the losing side. 

Sources
Cardboard Connection

Sunday, March 2, 2014

2014 Heritage the Originals - A Cardinal Problem

Trying to knock one more 1965 Topps post before Heritage goes live tomorrow. The 65T design is well liked and has been featured by Topps in several inserts and subsets. A few years ago I came across this abomination.


1964 Topps #415 Curt Flood
2010 Topps Vintage Legends Collection #VLC2 Johnny Mize 

The Abomination isn't the big red inkage on the top left of the vintage Curt Flood card. My issue is with the VLC Johnny Mize card. For me Topps mailed in the "CARDINALS" name on the pennant - it just doesn't look right.  I understand that there are legal/copyright issues involved in creating retros,  but it isn't the only place where the VLC Mize card is wanting. What is with the player name? the font is wrong and the color has been changed. Hell. the card is far enough off that if UD produced it, I am not sure Topps could sue them. 

As mentioned previously there are various other 1965 Topps copies throughout the years, during the Heritage frenzy we anticipate talking about some of them.

2010 Topps Vintage Legends Collection
Vintage Collection is a 25 card insert for 2010 topps with 24 Hall of Famers plus Thurman Munson appearing on card designs from outside of their playing careers. The Phillies rep in the set is Mike Schmidt who draws 1960 Topps

Other Voices 
The Great 1965 Topps Blog - As always Kevin does a nice job of summarizing Flood's career and struggling dealing with the MLB reserve clause
 
1965 Topps/2014 Heritage Index  
Base - #534 John Herrnstein 
Rookie Cup - #460 Dick Allen 
Rookie Stars - #282 Dick Estelle & Masanori Murakami
2010 Topps Vintage Collection - #VLC2 Johnny Mize 

More info on 1965 Topps
The entire 1965 Topps Series was covered by Kevin B of Orioles Card "O" the day on The Great 1965 Topps Project
Cardboard Connection
Sports Collectors Digest (TS O' Connell)
Golden Age of Baseball Cards
Dean's Cards
Beckett

PSA

Sources

2010 UD UNC National Champions #83 Dean Smith

The long time Hall of Fame Basketball coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels Dean Smith turned 83 last week. Sadly being a great coach does not exempt one from the issues that come with aging and today Dean Smith finds himself suffering from the effects of dementia.

2009 UD UNC National Champions #83 Dean Smith

His illness was recently documented with great reverence by the prolific sports journalist John Feinstein. Among the issues that Feinstein discusses regarding Dean Smith's deteriorating condition is the fact that one of the greatest assets the iconic coach had was an incredible memory that could remember every game, coaches, players, refs, and even specific plays. The column published in the Washington Post can be found here.

2010 UD UNC National Champs
Upper Deck came out with a 163 card set to take advantage of North Carolina's NCAA Championship triumph. There are a couple of similar releases I have seen out there including University of Texas and Oklahoma football sets.

2010 UD UNC National Champs blaster box

The sets offer an interesting variety of subjects which for UNC includes Smith, Lots of Michael Jordan cards, and some guys with Philadelphia connection like Larry Brown, George Lynch and Doug Moe. It is not unusual to see blasters of these cards going for $5-10 within a few years of release.

Sources
Naismith Memorial Basketball HoF
John Feinstein Washington Post
Sports Card Radio
Sports-Ref/College Basketball
Alzheimer's Association

hat tip - Yankees blogger @StaceGots tweeted the WaPo link earlier today

a thousand words

a thousand words
2008 World Champions