Saturday, February 28, 2015

Swag from Night Owl Cards

Tonight we have another Swag post featuring a couple of highlights from a recent batch of cards that arrived from Night Owl Cards

1988 Fleer Superstars #33 of 44 Mike Schmidt

Mike Schmidt standing in the batter's box wearing the Phillies powder blue road uni evokes his 1987 Base Card. The pix are not from the same session, the above Fleer card appears to be at Wrigley field in Chicago, while the 1987T card appears to be at Montreal.

The 1988 Fleer Superstars was a 44 card set distributed a McCrory's a department store chain (based in York PA) that went out of business in 2001.

2013 Topps #309 Domonic Brown (Green Parallel)

I refer to the Green Topps Instagrams A Christmas cards, especially for the Red teams like the Phillies Reds and Cardinals.

1981 Donruss #284 Sparky Lyle

Sparky Lyle was one of the original hipsters.

At one time Lyle was the manager of the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League, he is still involved with the team but in a a more ceremonial role.

1962 Topps #303 Frank Torre

Ok it has some flaws but it is a 1962 Topps of Joe Torre's brother.

There were plenty of other goodies, I just wanted to hit a cross section of the cards sent over by NOC. Not only one of my favorite card writers but a great trader as well.

Sources & Links
Mike Schmidt HoF Index
Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards (Bob Lemke)
Somerset Patriots
Open checklist
Dayton Business Journal

Friday, February 27, 2015

Swag from Paul's Random Stuff

Social Media outlets can suck up a lot of time and for a procrastinator like myself they are quite dangerous. .

However, occasionally something pops on Twitter that gets my attention in a good way.

2015 Topps #302 Martin Prado (Gatorade Variation)

Paul of Paul's Random Stuff was tweeting some 2015T cards and he posted the above card. There are so many variations in 2015T I did not know this one existed. But I am glad the card exists.  

Now one may ask, what does Team Phungo want with a 2015T New York Yankees card of a player that only wore the uniform for about a week.

Well this card, which is a variation of Prado's 2015 base card, is going into my very special Phungo Games Colleciton.

Last September Team Phungo made a special trek up to the Stadium to see Derek Jeter play in his home park one last time. For more details on that game click here.  The Captain had an uneventful night (1-5) but Martin Prado had a terrific game 2-5 with 3 RBI including a game winning single - which led to the Gatorade Bath above.

A Big thanks to Paul for adding this card to my favorite collection!

2015 Topps
I am picking a nit here but as a Yankee Martin Prado played more second base than third. This card is a "Special" card featuring a photo from a specific game in which Prado played second. In Topps defense the bulk of Prado's time with  the D-Backs was spent at third. 

Sources and Links
Index of Phungo Games 
2015 Topps

Thursday, February 26, 2015

2012 Timeless Talents Andy Pettitte Cliff Lee

Last week the New York Yankees announced that they are retiring the numbers of Bernie Williams Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte.

2012 Topps Timeless Talents #TT12 Andy Pettitte Cliff Lee

This generated some discussion among Baseball Nerds. First there is a the sheer gluttony - the Yankees have 17 Retired Numbers (for 18 players - 8 is retired for both Yogi and Bill Dickey). Secondly Andy Pettitte's name raised some eyebrows.

Pettitte admitted to HGH use after being named in the Mitchell Report. It should be noted that according to Pettitte the PED use occurred in 2002 prior to the banning of HGH.

Andy Pettitte's borderline HoF resume is largely based upon his incredible postseason numbers. The Mitchell Report may tip the scales against him.

I believe a large part of the Yankees motivation for retiring Pettitte's number now is to ease the return of Alex Rodriguez from his PED suspension. 

Timeless Talents
Andy Pettitte's partner on the 2012 Timeless Talents card is the Phillies Cliff Lee. The players are partnered as lefty aces that have big-game reputations.  

Lets take a closer look at the flip o the card that has some comparatives of the two players.

2012 Timeless Talents Andy Pettitte Cliff Lee (b-side)

Stats are interesting with one Lee at mid career while Pettitte was (at the time retired)

There is also a bit of a lazy Topps here - despite being released in 2012 the copy ignores the 2011 postseason. Cliff Lee took an L in his only 2011 playoff start - his record would have been 7-3 with a 2.52 ERA when this card was released.

Cliff Lee 2015
Today we find Lee 24 wins and 500 strikeouts down the road and 3 years older.  Last year was the worst season for Lee since 2007. He pitched only 13 games, 81+ innings with a mediocre 102 ERA+, all good for a replacement level +0.8 WAR.

Cliff Lee is now 36. From what I understand Lee is healthy after opting for rehab and recovery over surgery that would have cost him the 2015 season. Only 3 of Lee's top 10 comps made significant contributions at 36+, 2 never pitched again - including #1 comp Roy Oswalt. However miserable of a memory Oswalt may be for Phils fans, I am going to bring up one that distresses them more.

2011 Chris Carpenter

Yes Carpenter's age 36 season was the one where he dominated the 2011 postseason which included eliminating the Phillies in a 1-0 NLDS game 5.

In 2011 Carpenter was good for a 3.5 WAR, which is where I will target Cliff Lee. Not great, but not bad, and if he mimics 2011 Carpenter there is that World Series victory.

Sources and Links
Phillies WAR Projections 2015
Cardboard Connection
New York Yankees

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

2015 Heritage the Originals: League Leaders Cards Sonny Siebert - Mysterious Extra

The League Leaders subset returned in 1966 Topps, but it was moved away from the top of the set where it had lived in the past three releases. 

The 12 cards were numbered from 215-226 and represented the same six categories (for each league) that were present in 1965: Batting, HR, RBI, ERA, Pitching, Ks 

There is at least one oddity in the subset

1966 Topps #226 LL AL Strikeouts

All of the other League Leaders cards are of the triple variety, the logical explanation here would have been that McLain and Siebert had tied in strikeouts. But they did not.

1966 Topps #226 LL AL Strikeouts (b-side)

This opens the door for King Felix to get on the 2015 Heritage League Leaders card. In 2014 he finished 4th behind David Price, Corey Kluber and Matt Scherzer.

And YES the Topps Heritage checker came out recently - check it out card #226 has 4 players on the card. Max Scherzer had a legit claim on the #3 spot in AL Strikeouts (252), but he will share his podium spot with Felix Hernandez (248)

Nice attention to detail Topps. 

Sources and Links
1966 Topps Blog
2015 Heritage/1966 Topps Index
cardboard connection
Topps Database

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sitting 20 feet from Eddie Cicotte Pt 2

A few weeks ago Team Phungo took in some culture in the form of Local Theater. We checked out a production of Anton Checkov's "The Cherry Orchard" at the People's Light Theater in Malvern PA. 

I have seen four productions at the People's Light and this was my least favorite. Following the play I read some background on the play and it is mentioned that directors struggle with the works balance of farce and tragedy.

I think this may have been the issue with the People's Light production of "The Cherry Orchard". The downbeats out paced the fun parts and the strongest character,  Lopakhin, was also the least likable.

My other issue was that several times in the play the dialogue between the characters came to a complete stop. I think this was to allow the audience to think about the action, these dramatic pauses were too frequent for my taste.

Regardless I was glad that I saw the show. Mrs Phungo does a great deal of work in Russian Studies and through her I have learned a lot about Checkovian theater. We have seen several Checkov influenced productions but this is the first time I saw one of the original plays.

1988 Orion Pictures "Eight Men Out" #6 David Strathairn as Eddie Cicotte

The plays lead roles featured a pair of actors with significant resumes for suburban theater, Mary McDonnell and David Straithairn

McDonnell is the star of the TNT drama series "Major Crimes" a spinoff of "the Closer". She has won and Obie and been nominated for several Oscars including Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Stands With A Fist in "Dances With Wolves". McDonnell's Daughter, Olivia Mell. also appeared in the Cherry Orchard. 

The lead male role of Leonid was played by David Straithairn who is familiar to baseball film fans as the actor who portrayed Eddie Cicotte in Eight Men Out

David Straithairn must be a fan of not just the theater, but Theater in Philadelphia. Back in 2010 we Strathairn in the Vaclav Havel play "Leaving" which is Checkov influenced. To see our review of that show click here.

It is pretty cool to see noted stars in a tiny theater in a small town like Malvern. People's Light always puts together quality plays, and despite my reservations presented at the top of the article I am glad that I got to see their production of "the Cherry Orchard"

Sources & Links
People's Light Theater
Eldritch Press

Monday, February 23, 2015

WAR Stories Phillies 2015 Jonathan Papelbon and 2015T Phils Checker

Today we take a look at Jonathan Papelbon's 2015 WAR projection.

2015 Topps #143 Jonathan Papelbon

Papelbon is not one of my favorite Phils and I am not going to spend a lot of time over-analyzing his upcoming season.

He is coming off his best season as the Phillies closer. He is 34 and seems to pitch better when the stakes are higher. The stakes for the 2015 Phils don't look to be in Papelbon's preferred stratosphere. I am seeing some regression and will give him a 1.7 WAR for 2015.

2015 Topps Series 1 Phillies Checker 

10 Cole Hamels 
51 Ryan Howard
118 Domonic Brown
123 Ben Revere 
143 Jonathan Papelbon 
163 Chase Utley
187 Marlon Byrd
212 Cliff Lee
218 David Buchanan 
222 Antonio Bastardo
233 Carlos Ruiz 
309 Maikel Franco (RC)

There are a dozen Phillies on the 2015T S1 checker, of course as of press time two of those players are already gone (Byrd and Bastardo). Hamels or Lee may be gone prior to the beginning of the season. If they both remain healthy at least one will likely be dealt by the deadline.

The 12 players chosen don't leave much for S2. Among the players we can look forward to seeing are Ken Giles, Cody Asche, Darin Ruf, Aaron Harang, Chad Billingsley, Grady Sizemore, Freddy Galvis and whatever other Shortstop the Phillies can pick up in  the next month plus the team card. 

Sources and Links
Phillies 2015+
2015 Topps
Cardboard Connection


Sunday, February 22, 2015

OSCARS: Boyhood and Jason Lane 2006 Topps #473

Our final Oscars film posting features the Richard Linklater film "Boyhood"

This the other nominee that team Phungo checked out this year. Linklater like Anderson is another filmmaker whose career I have followed. I have seen the the Before trilogy (including Waking Life which includes an obscure scene related to Before...) and I loved Slacker.

I saw Boyhood in the theater and look forward to seeing it again. A few years from now I see this film getting heavy rotation on the USA/TBS/TNT circuit - think Shawshank. I would have to see it again, but I think the scenes will keep the viewer there until the commercial, and get you to return afterward.

Boyhood has gotten press regarding how the movie was filmed over a 12 year period. I think this is a bit of diservice to the film. Yes the process is ambitious and complicated, but focusing on the method misses out on some of the films other qualities. There are several interesting stories with the "non-story" All the characters grow up, not just Mason. It is obvious that the father (Ethan Hawke) is a man-child, but we also get to see Patricia Arquette's character grow up as well.

When you think about it the filming over 12 years idea is really just a fiction version of the Seven up! documentary series. 

Boyhood on Card
 2006 Topps #473 Jason Lane (snagged from baseball Card database)

There is a scene in the movie where Ethan Hawke takes the kids to a baseball game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the hometown Houston Astros. It is apparent that they shot a live game. I did some research in an attempt to find out what game it was, but was unsuccessful.

Fortunately, I was not the only baseball/film nerd that needed to find out this information.  Spencer Bingol did the research and figured out that Linklater took a bit of creative license with the actual events.

Jason Lane really did hit a Home Run off of the Brewers but it was not a game winner. In fact it was in a game that the Astros lost.

The game was played on August 18th 2005, during Houston's NL Championship campaign. Roger Clemens had the Astros up 2-1 after 6, but the Rocket fell apart in the 7th. A mix of line drives and walks led to four Brewers runs and that was it for the Astros.

Richard Linklater 2015 
Prior to becoming a film director Richard Linklater went to Sam Houston State on a baseball scholarship. Later this year Linklater returns to the diamond for his upcoming film That's What I'm Talking About, about, yep college baseball - preview copy describes it as a spiritual sequel to "Dazed to Confused"

Jason Lane
The photo on Jason Lane's 2006T Card was likely taken during the 2005 season, which puts it in the time period of the Boyhood clip. Lane is in a road uni on the card so it is definitely not the same game as the film, but captures Lane in the the era.

After being out of Major League Baseball for seven years, Lane returned in 2014. However, he didn't make his return as a power hitting outfielder, he came back as a pitcher. In 10+ innings for the Padres Lane gave up only one run while picking up six Ks. He is among San Diego's non-roster invitees for the 2015 season.

Sources and Links
2015 Oscars Index
Washington Post - Michael Cavna
Baseball Card Database

Saturday, February 21, 2015

OSCARS: "The Grand Budhapest Hotel" - Al Hrabosky

I saw two of the 2015 Best Picture Oscar Nominees. One of those was "the Grand Budhapest Hotel" 

As a Wes Anderson fan I try and see most of his films. Budapest delivers a lot of what Anderson fans want, strange characters, unique camera angles, and favorite actors - like Bill Murry.

It is a good movie and a fun ride but not up to Rushmore or Tenenbaums status. The film doesn't have a pop soundtrack in the way that my favorite Wes Anderson films do, the music is good, just not my style.

If the film receives the Oscar I believe it is more for Wes Anderson's body of work than this specific film.

Cardboard Budapest Hotel
2001 Topps Archive Autograph #TAA128 Al Hrabosky

How does one come up with a card to represent a non-baseball, non-sports movie?

You get creative

Budapest is the capital of Hungary which directed me to one of the more colorful ballplayers of my youth, the Mad Hungarian - Al Hrabosky.

Hrabosky pitched 13 MLB seasons, most of which were with the St Louis Cardinals. He tallied 97 career saves including a leading the league with a whopping 22 in 1975. His lone playoff year was 1978 when he was the closer for the Royals who lost to the Yankees in four games.

Today Al Hrabosky works the broadcast booth for the St Louis Cardinals. He has been a color commentator on TV for the team since 1985. Hrabosky is an active member of the St Louis community and is involved with several local charities. 

2001 Topps Archives
2001 Topps Archive Autograph #TAA128 Al Hrabosky (b-side)

Topps Archive featured reprints of popular MLB alums on their rookie and final cards. With Hrabosky we have a bit of a curiosity. His first card was a rookie stars triple photo. For Archives Topps elected to place only Hrabosky's photo on the front, while maintaining the integrity of the back.

One of the drawbacks of going with the full photo on the front of the card is that apparently the negative for the picture was not detailed enough to fill the frame. While the photo on the original 1971T Card looks ok, it is a bit blurry on the 2001 Archives reprint.

Sources and Links
2015 Phungo Oscars coverage
St Louis Cardinals
topps card database
Google Maps
Budapest Travel and Tourism Guide
Baseball Cardpedia

Thursday, February 19, 2015

WAR Stories: Phillies 2015+ Carlos Ruiz

Pitchers and Catchers report to Clearwater today which gives us the opportunity to take a look at Carlos Ruiz in our WAR projections segment.

2013 Gypsy Queen #CP-CR Carlos Ruiz

Everybody remembers that Chooch was part of the 2008 World Series team but he isn't held in the same esteem as Rollins or Utley nor he held to the standards of a Ryan Howard or Cole Hamels.

Ruiz is universally respected for his handling of pitchers and has been fortunate enough to catch some pretty good ones - in addition to Hamels there are Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and lets not forget Pedro.

He has survived a violation of the leagues substance abuse policy, and had a pretty solid 2013.

The 2012 All-Star recently turned 36 and any offensive production are probably a bonus from a catcher.

a look at Carlos Ruiz's sim scores echoes this sentiment. The number of his top 10 that had 1.0 Career WAR remaining at age 36+ (two) matches the number of players that never caught another game. The most encouraging comp is Greg Zaun who is also the most recent (2010). During his age 36 season (2007) Zaun posted a 2.3 WAR over 110 games. He batted .242 with 10 Homers. Like Ruiz, Zaun boosted a mediocre Batting Average with a few walks and that .242 BA was part of a bit more impressive .341 OBP.

After that Zaun stuck around for 3 more campaigns never playing more than 100 games and never achieving a WAR above 1.0 again.

Phungo Verdict
I pick Chooch to match Zaun's 2007 campaign +2.3 WAR. For a summary of our 2015 Phillies projections click here.

2013 Gypsy Queen CP- Collisions at the Plate
The GQ Collision at the Plate insert consists of 10 cards. There are Seven contemporary catchers and 3 Hall of Famers: Bench, Fisk and Gary Carter.

The Carlos Ruiz card is from a game played on May 25, 2012.  The baserunner on the play was fellow catcher Yadier Molina who was out. The play happened in the bottom of the 8th inning with the scored tied 3-3.

A video of the play can be found here. It is the 2nd of the four clips. The moment of the pix on the card can be found at the :40 second mark.

Molina was attempting to score on a Matt Adams double - a run would have allowed the Cardinals to turn the game over to closer Jason Motte. The tie forced Motte into pitching 2 innings - in the 2nd of those innings Motte yielded a 2 run homer to Hunter Pence.

Molina had a strange day - he was 2-5 with an RBI however he was thrown out twice on the bases and also grounded out to end the game. 

Sources and Links
WAR Stories Phillies 2015+ Index
Cardboard Connection

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

2015 Heritage the Originals: Teammates Subset?

There are a couple of special cards in the 1966T set that include 2 or 3 teammates.

1966 Topps #52 Power Plus Wes Covington Johnny Callison

At card #52 we have the first of the combo cards which happens to be dedicated to the Phillies. Johnny Callison is a worthy subject for a card titled Power Plus, not so sure about his partner.

Wes Covington was coming off a 1965 season in which he hit 15 homers and tallied 45 RBIs. Which I would consider unremarkable power numbers even in the pitching centric middle 60s. Other candidates for the card could have been Dick Allen (20 HR, 85 RBI) or Dick Stuard (28/95).

In addition it was Covington's last season with the Phillies, he was traded during the off-season and was likely gone by the time this card was issued.

1964 Phillies @ 50
Wes was also the a  member of the 1964 Phillies, as a Left fielder for the club he had similar numbers to 1965 13 HR, 58 RBI, .280 BA 126 OPS+, and 1.4 WAR. Covington's dWAR numbers hurt his total throughout his career.

During the clubs fateful stretch run manager Gene Mauch elected to frequently use a platoon in Left field. Following the teams collapse Covington was very unhappy and he would eventually ask for the aforementioned trade.

One of the more humorous parts of an extremely interesting SABR Bio by Andy Sturgill mentions that Covington had already spent his World Series bonus money. He purchased a rifle which he brought into the clubhouse and declared "This is for the sportswriters"

Fortunately for Wes Covington he was able to make the postseason both prior to and after his Phillies tenure. He won a World Series withe 1957 Milwaukee Braves and returned to the series with the club the following season. He also got a pinch hit appearance in the 1966 Series with the Dodgers who lost to the Orioles. 

1966 Topps Combos
Sorry drifted into our 1964 Phils coverage there, now back to our regularly scheduled post.

You may have noticed I had a Question Mark in the title, that is because I am not really sure one should call this theme a subset.  There are 5 combo cards in 1966 Topps with no apparent rationale for the players or teams. All 5 cards appear in the first couple of series. The four other teams repped are the Pirates, Giants, White Sox and Astros.

Willie Stargell is the only Hall of Famer in the subset with each card containing a player that is somewhat comparable to Johnny Callison.

#99 Bucs Belters - Willie Stargell, Don Clendennon

#156 DP Combo Dick Schofield Hal Lanier 

#199 Chisox Clubbers Bill Skowron, Johnny Romano, Floyd Robinson 

#273 Astros Aces - Bob Aspromante and Rusty Staub

Special Thanks to Jim From Downingtown who's research I stole for this post. He points out that the power outage doesn't occur just on the Phillies card, The Chisox card is dubious and ignoring Roberto Clemente on a Bucs Belters card does sound like a gaffe. 

1966 Topps #52 Power Plus Wes Covington Johnny Callison (b-side)

There is a fairly detailed write up on the back of each card, although the Wes Covington portion of this one devotes a lot more time to his Braves career than his Phillies tenure.

2015 Heritage Combos
Who will Topps go with for the 2015 Combos?
Will 2015 Heritage have combos? 

I am saying yes to the combos and take a stab at some projections

Phillies Power Plus - egads nobody, I will stick with the standbys of Utley and Howard or Topps could maintain the continuity of the Covington trade by including Jimmy Rollins
Bucs Belters -McCutchen and How about Super Utility guy Josh Harrison filling the Clendennon role.
DP Combo (Giants) - This one is a little complicated. Brandon Crawford is the starting Shortstop for the World Champs, but there was a revolving door at 2nd. I am going with St Johns Alum Joe Panik.
Chisox Clubbers - If we can't go with Jose Abreu 3 times, I will add Konerko and Adam Dunn. I know they are both gone, but it is a deserved nod to their long careers.
Astros Aces - This is great the card is named Aces but has two batters. Going to go with 2 young guys here Altuve and Singleton - just because he came up with the Philllies.

Sources and Links
Willie Stargell HoF index 
1966 Topps Blog
2015 Heritage/1966 Topps Index
1964 Phillies @ 50 Index
SABR Bio by Andy Sturgill
cardboard connection
Topps Database

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

100th Birthday HoF Joe Gordon

February 18th would have been Joe Gordon's 100th birthday. Not very often we get that milestone out of a Hall of Famer.

1961 Topps #216 Joe Gordon

Joe Gordon was an 1940s era second baseman who played with the Yankees and Indians. His name frequently comes up when analyzing the Sim Scores of Chase Utley.

Gordon was not an original BBWAA Hall of Famer. He fell of the ballot in 1970, eventually getting the nod from the Veterans committee in 2009.   

1960 Topps #216 Joe Gordon (b-side)

The flip of Joe Gordon's card has a couple cartoons that detail his Hall of Fame accomplishments. 

During Gordon's 1942 MVP campaign he was 2nd in the league in WAR to Ted Williams, finishing in the top 10 in BA, OBP, Slugging, Home Runs, RBI and dWAR.

In addition to his MVP trophy, Gordon had lots of team hardware: Between 1938 and 1948 Gordon was part of five World Championship teams four with the Yankees and one with the Indians.

The strongest argument for Joe Gordon being in the Hall of Fame is not his MVP or World Series Ttiles. When Larry Doby became the first African-American player in the AL, Gordon was one of the first players to welcome Doby to the team.

The following excerpt from Joseph Wancho's SABR Bio of Joe Gordon discusses Larry Doby's first game with the Indians.

While most players were cordial, a handful refused to acknowledge Doby or even shake his hand. Doby's feeling of isolation continued after the team moved to the diamond to warm up before the start of the game. "I felt all alone. When we went out on the field to warm up, to play catch, you know the way we always did, no one asked me to play. I just stood there for minutes. It seemed like a long time," recalled Doby. "Then Joe Gordon yelled, 'Hey kid, come on. Throw with me.' That was it. Joe Gordon was a class guy. He'd been a Yankee and the others looked up to him. So when he reached out to me, it really helped."

1960 Topps 
The same image of Gordon is on his 1961 Topps card however, the cap is airbrushed to show him as the Manager of the KC Athletics.

Sources and Links
SABR Bio by Joseph Wancho
Topps Card Database

Monday, February 16, 2015

TRENDY: 1983 Donruss #525 Julio Franco

Last week we got the news that Julio Franco is playing baseball in Japan at the age of 56ish (some say 58)
1983 Donruss #525 Julio Franco (image snagged from Baseball Almanac)

Yes kids that is an image of a card from 32 years ago, and that guy is still playing baseball.

Julio Franco only played one season with the Philies before being involved in the Von Hayes trade. He went on to play 22 more MLB seasons.

I took a quick look around and could not fine a Phillies Franco card in my collection so I swiped this fine one from Baseball Almanac. Franco played so long I just assumed he had more than one campaign with the Phils, but at least that explains why I had such trouble find one of his cards. 

Kevin Sherrington Dallas Morning News
Baseball Almanac Baseball Card Database

Sunday, February 15, 2015

2015 Topps Inserts: Free Agent 40 - Andre Dawson

Delving into the 2015 Topps Insert sets a bit tonight. 

Free Agent 40 is an insert set for 2015 Topps which is dedicated to the biggest FA signings of the last 40 years. Sort of a more modern version of big trade subsets.

2015 Topps F40-7 Free Agent 40 Andre Dawson 

F40 looks like a lot of other recent insert set. A dozen Hall of Fame caliber players connected by some theme designed to be a canvas for "Hits"

This Andre Dawson card piqued my interested for a bit of text on the back.

2015 Topps F40-7 Free Agent 40 Andre Dawson (b-side)

We have a DALLAS GREEN Sighting. It is a story I have heard repeated dozens of times, but it is still cool to see it commemorated on cardboard. Dallas Green signs Andre Dawson for a half millon bucks and the Hawk goes on to have an MVP season.

Andre Dawson is one of 15 subjects in the S1 insert set, none of the 15 cards are of Phillies. Ten of the players are given the relic treatment, half of which also have autographs and auto-relic. Dawson is not among the players for which Auto or Relics were produced. 
This is all pretty familiar territory for Insert sets. I have always wanted to take a closer look into what players get into these insert sets, this will hopefully be the beginning of this analysis.

Sources and Links
2015 Topps Index
Cardboard Connection

2015 Heritage - 1966 Topps Index

Index related to our 1966 Topps / 2015 Heritage overview

1966 Topps #506 Bo Belinsky 

Base cards #506 Bo Belinsky
Team Combo Cards
League Leader Cards (Ks Sonny Siebert Mystery)
Phillies Checker comparison
Manager Cards
Rookie Cup (2015 Heritage Kolten Wong) 
2015 Heritage First Pack 
Retros Hank Aaron (1974 Topps)

1966T Hall of Fame Cards
HoF RC Fergie Jenkins
#110 Ernie Banks
HoF Card and Hero Number #100 Sandy Koufax 
HoF RC Sutton
HoF Luis Aparicio 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

2015 Heritage the Originals: Bo Belinsky 1966 Topps #506

I know we are all caught up in 2015 Topps, but this is the modern world folks, and the Blog cycle must move on. 2015 Heritage will be out in about 3 weeks and I wanted to take a look at a few cards from the set that inspired the set 1966 Topps.

1966 Topps #506 Bo Belinsky

One of the things I enjoy most about the annual release of Heritage is the opportunity to reconsider the original set. Last year we got to look back at one of Topps most memorable offerings. This is not the case for 1966T.

The design is functional it covers all the bases Photo, Player name, team and position are all present. Each team is given a color scheme, but they are not necessarily related to the team colors. As seen above the Phillies have Red lettering on a grey background.

There is a minor design element that is unprecedented by Topps. The diagonal strip with the team name goes over the photo in a fashion that the picture extends beyond the banner. It gives the photo a frame within a frame feel. I am not sure it helps the picture pop that much but it does center your attention a tad.      

This is definitely a set that I often dismiss, The minimal design doesn't really draw the eye of the collector, but as I browsed through a binder, I did find a decent variety in the Photos, Lots of head shots, but there are also a niec mix of casual posed and faux action shots.

1966 Topps #506 Bo Belinsky (b-side)

Backs are decent, pretty bright, easy to read card number, numbers and an nice informative -toon.  The no-hitter referred to occurred while Belinsky was pitching for the Angels. It was the 4th start of his career.

Card #506 is from a Semi-Hi series (#447-#522) of the 598 card 1996 set.

Bo Belinsky
I didn't realize that Belinsky did time with the Phillies until I returned to collecting. I did know he had a bigger off the field reputation than on field. His popularity likely rose quickly after the aforementioned early career no-hitter.    

2015 Heritage
Over the next month or so we will take a look at both 1966 Topps and 2015 Heritage. For an index of these postings click here

Sources n Links
2015 Topps Heritage/1966 Topps Index 
NY Times

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

1959 Topps Baseball Thrills #462 Rocky Colavito

Knocking out another one of the 1959 Topps Baseball Thrills tonight.

1959 Topps #462 Rocky Colavito

Despite Colavito's status as a loved Hall of Very Good player, this is one of the weaker cards in the Baseball Thrills subset. While the pix on the front does demonstrate some action especially with the young fan going for the ball, overall I find it a somewhat dull. Beyond my issues with the photo on the front the flip side goes into a lot of detail regarding the catch while giving it absolutely no frame of reference.

1959 Topps #462 Rocky Colavito (b-side)

All we find out is that the game was versus the Yankees and the go ahead run was on base. No mention of the pitcher or batter involved nor is the date or park cited.

I did some minor research on the photo in an effort to figure out what game this is from on my own. I came up empty. fortunately CommishBob had gone through some diligent effort which is summarized in this post. The game is from May 10 1956, The play occurred in the 6th inning, on a ball hit by Gil McDougald. Turns out that the game account on the card is almost a total fabrication. At the time of the AB, the game wasn't really close (4-0 Indians),  the bases were clear, and Lemon certainly wasn't tiring - He threw complete game.

1956 Rookie of the Year
The card captures Colavito during his rookie campaign. He finished 2nd in the 1956 RoY voting behind future Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio. Not sure what the voters were thinking here - Colavito batted 10 points higher than Aparicio and also won the Home Run Battle 21-3. Aparicio had a similar edge in stolen bases 21-0.

The big factors likely were Aparicio played a full season while Colavito played only 101 games, and the fielding postion edge - Aparicio was a shortstop while Colavito played right.

Colavito spent the bulk of his 14 year career with the Indians. He made 9 all-star teams across 6 seasons, but never made it to the World Series. Rocky placed in the top 10 of the MVP vote four times, the best of which was 3rd in 1958 When he led the league in slugging. The following season he led the league in homers (42) and Total Bases (301). In 1965 Colavito paced the AL in RBIs (108) and Walks (93)

Retired Rocky
Today Rocky is 81 and according to some TTM sites he lives outside of Reading PA in a town about an hour from Phungo HQs.

Sources & Links
1959 Topps Baseball Thrills
1959 Topps one f/g card at a time
SABR Bio by Joseph Wancho

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

WAR Stories Phillies 2015+ Domonic Brown

Today our Phillies 2015 WAR series takes a look at corner outfielder Domonic Brown.

1963 Topps #32 Domonic Brown

The Phillies demise over the last couple of season has happened for a number of reasons. Diminished production from veterans is the cause most often given, but the inability to develop new talent has also played a role. The flip side of the above Dom Brown card has a cartoon that summarizes the Phillies shortcomings at the lower levels.

1963 Topps #32 Domonic Brown (b-side)

The Phillies 2010 minor league player of the year has generated a 3.0 career WAR in 430 games.

Aside from a great month that made Brown an all-star in 2013 he has been a fairly pedestrian player. His offensive numbers have been mediocre at best, couple that with no other mentionable skill beyond his sporadic hitting and you have the quagmire that is Domonic Brown.

I will put down Brown for 1 good month in 2014 plus some improved defense resulting in a +1.5 WAR.
2012 Topps Heritage
I am a fan of 1963 Topps, it is a set I didn't really see until I returned to collecting as an adult. It is an inspiration for 1983T which is one of my all-time favorite sets.

Once the excitement over 2015 Topps dies down a bit we will start looking 2015 Heritage and it's inspiration 1966 Topps. 

Sources n Links
Phillies 2015 WAR Index
Cardboard Connection 

Vittles OnTheRoad Index

On The Road - Index of Travels of Team Phungo

Austria - Vienna 2015 September
Czech Republic - Prague 2015 September
France - Paris 2009-2010 New Years Cusp
Hungary - Budapest 2015 September
Italy - Rome 2012 October
Russia - Moscow 2011 October-December
UK - Scotland Liverpool-  2013 May/June
UK - London 2009-2010 New Years Cusp

California - LA 2014 May

Florida - Clearwater - St Augustine 2015 March
Hawaii - Maui 2014 June
Hawaii - Kauai 2014 June
Hawaii - Waikiki Oahu 2014 June

Illinois - Chicago 2015 June

NYC 2014 August
NYC 2014 December
NYC 2014 Christmas
NYC 2015 Christmas
East Hampton NY 2014 September 

South Carolina - Charleston 2013 December

Washington DC 2014 August

Puerto Rico 2009 March

2015 Topps Index

This is an Index of 2015 Topps related Postings

2015 Topps Carlos Ruiz

First Pack
Hobby vs Retail

Card #1 - Derek Jeter vs other Topps #1
Card #100 Flagship - Retail and the Koufax Kershaw Connections
2015T Phillies Checker
Rookie Cup (#318 George Springer)
Future Stars (#318 George Springer)
Variation Greg Holland
Variation Martin Prado (also a Phungo Game Collection Card)  
Cost of 2015 Topps (#662 Darin Ruf)
Baseball History First Pitch
Free Agent 40  (#F40-7 Andre Dawson)
Highlight of the Year

Vittles Film n TV Index



The Dark Knight (2008) 
Eight Men Out (1988)
Grand Canyon (1991)
The Sound of Music

Abe Vigoda Memorial (1921-2016)
Bernie Mac Memorial (1957-2008) Mr 3000
David Strathern
John Cusack
Leslie Nielsen
Mary McDonnell

Monday, February 9, 2015

2015 Topps Hobby vs Retail

For the 2015T Hobby vs Retail we have pitted a Hanger Pack and 3 Looseys from a big box store against a Jumbo Pack and 3 Hobby Packs from a Card show. Both purchases were similar in price.

The Retail came to $16, The PA Tax and Target Red Card discount are almost a push which brings everything back to near list price. The Hobby offering was $11 for the Jumbo and $2 each for the Hobby Packs. The dealer unexpectedly charged tax on the purchase pushing the sale to $18.

Here is the scorecard:

$16 - 1 Hanger & 3 Looseys

5 - Phillies (4 Base - Best = Chooch, 1 Robin Roberts insert)
84 - Unique Base Cards (23% - includes 4 Phils above)
    Best = Stanton, Puig, George Springer, Felix Hernandez
10 - Inserts (including aforementioned Roberts)
 -2 Archetypes (Aaron, Ryan)
 -2 First HR (Mattingly, Matt Carpenter
 -2 Highlight of the year (1968 Catfish, 1973 Ryan)
 -1 Jackie Robinson story
 -1 Inspired Play (Pirates Stargell-McCutchen)
 -1 Free Agent (Fisk)
 -1 Baseball History (1955 Robin Roberts)
1 - Variation (Greg Holland - Gatorade)
13 - Duplicates
102 Total Cards

$18 - 1 Jumbo and 3 Hobby
1 - Phillies Card (Bastardo)
68 - Unique Base Card (19%)
     Best = Pence WS, Posey, Springer, Tom Koehler
9 - Inserts
 -2 Archetypes (Puig Jeter)
 -2 Highlight of the Year (1965 Marichal, 2001 Ripken JR)
 -1 Inspired (Pirates AGAIN)
 -1 Free Agent (Dawson)
 -1 Baseball History (1957 Red Schoendienst)
 -1 First Pitch (Keflezighi)
 -1 Call Your Shot (Is anybody using these)
1 - Buy Back (1978 Topps #361 Chris Knapp)
2 - Duplicates
80 Total Cards

The Verdict
Retail Wins NO CONTEST. This isn't even close. Breakdown
Phils Card - RETAIL - Wins on Number, Talent and Inserts
Base Cards -  RETAIL - Volume and Talent
Inserts - HOBBY - The first pitch puts Hobby over but barely
Hit - RETAIL - Buy back of Chris Knapp, and it is in garbage condition for a 1978 card.

There it is Retail tops Hobby in a route.

The cards came from four different sources (Hanger, Loosey, Hobby Jumbo, Hobby Pack) so there are no conclusion one can draw on collation other than that within each of those 4 segments the draw was fine.

Unfortunately there was heavy duplication across platforms. In addition to the 15 cards duplicated within each market there 18 across the two sets (plus one insert).

This means I picked up 34 duplicates from a bounty of 182 cards or 18.6%.  The number of unique base between bother purchases was 134 cards (38%). Had I been lucky enough to have no Duplicates I would have picked up 167 cards (47.6%)

Sources and Links
2015 Topps Index
Cardboard Connection

Movies 2015

Movies and Movie Related items Team Phungo checked out in 2015 with snapshot reviews

Phungo 2015 Oscars Index 

The Grand Budhapest Hotel - Good, 2015 Oscar Contender
Moonrise Kingdom - Disappointing, liked some of the Music Stuff.
Sound of Music - 50th Anniversary Posting

2015 Oscars Index

A couple of postings related to the 2015 Oscar Nominees.

American Sniper - Bradley Cooper in Elephant Man
Boyhood - Astros Game
the Grand Budhapest Hotel - Al Hrabosky Auto
Imitation Game - Breaking the Code Review

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Koufax Kershaw Connection and Heritage Card #100

First 00 hero number of 2014 Topps belongs to Clayton Kershaw at #100.

2015 Topps #100 Clayton Kershaw
1966 Topps #100 Sandy Kourax

While doing research for the upcoming Heritage release I noticed that Card #100 in the original 1966T set belongs to the Dodgers Ace of that era, Sandy Koufax.

2015 Topps #100 Clayton Kershaw (b-side)

1966 Topps #100 Sandy Kourax (b-side)

The last four years Koufax and Kershaw have shared the Heritage/Original card numbers (5, 210, 200, 300 From 1962-65/2011-2014). I think it is likely this trend will continue this year.

If this happens Kershaw will occupy #100 in both flagship and Heritage. Curious how often that has happened.

The Koufax Kershaw connection is likely one of the strongest in the Heritage pantheon. For comparison I took a look at the Jeter pairings during his 14 year tenure in the retro set, There is no consistent matching for the Captain. He is paired with Tony Kubek three times, but one of those is an In Action Subbber. Phil Rizzutto is in the list twice and Surprsingly Mickey Mantle only once.

Sources and Links
2015 Heritage Index

Baseball Cardpedia
Trading Card Databse
Topps Heritage Cards
Baseball Almanac

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Travis Lee: Best Fielding First Baseman Ever?

For Phillies fans this is the Saturday Night Chuckle or maybe more like Cringe

2001 Fleer Triple Crown #136

During the off-season there are a number of tidbits about former Phillies that I like to pass along with cardboard recognition, like yesterday's posing regarding Matt Stairs election to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Interesting and well deserved.

And then every once in a while something hits the radar that CANNOT be ignored. 

Apparently SABR Hall of Famer Bill James has developed a new methodology for measuring fielding ability of players. The research has concluded that Travis Lee is the best fielding First Baseman of ALL-TIME.

Travis Lee's time in Philadelphia was so underwhelming that it is hard to imagine him being the best at anything. In fact Phungo has denied the Travis Lee's era to the point that he has been left off the blog until now.

Lee's biggest issue was not being as good as the man he was swapped for.  Curt Schilling was off winning the World Series with the D-Backs and later the Red Sox. In fact Lee struggled to be mediocre. His OPS+ in 366 games as a Phil was below average at 96. His top Batting average in 3 seasons with the club was .265, His best home Run total was 20.

In the field Lee did appear to fair much better. He was good at digging balls out in the dirt and was able to cover a lot of ground at the position. Lee did lead the league in Fielding Percentage twice, but that is a dubious stat at any position and even more so at First where Putouts throw the stat all out o whack. He never won a gold glove.

I am curious how Bill James came up with his numbers. Unfortunately his site is available via subscription only. Until this news advanced metrics have not been good to Lee - His career dWAR is actually a negative. He does pop on the defensive leader boards for a few of the newer numbers - Most notably leading the league in Total Zone Runs in 2003 (as a Devil Ray), His Career TZR ranks 37th all time. He was also ranked in the top 10 in range factor four times, but never led the league, 

2001 Fleer Triple Crown
Lee is listed as First Base/OF on the card. He played 10 games in left for the Phillies in 2000. Those were the last games he played in the outfield. For the remaining 6 seasons of Lee career he played all but two games at first base, and both of those games were as a DH.

The 300 card 2001 Fleer Triple Crown set is probably better knows for it's extension - the Platinum RC Series. PRC is a 10 card set that was included in a totally different set, 2001 Fleer Platinum. The subset is serialed (/#2999) and included two significant rookies Ichiro (#306) and Albert Pujols(#309). 

Recent auctions for the Pujols RC have gone as high as $75 for a graded version of the card, for more budget conscience collectors there were auctions that ended int the $25 range for ungraded cards. The Ichiro Card only had two auctions $10 ungraded and $31(Beckett 9 Mint)

2001 Fleer Triple Crown #136 (b-side)

Just posting the b-side because I like the baseline across the bottom

Sources and Links
Just a Bit Outside - Rob Neyer
Baseball Cardpedia 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Welcome to the Baseball Hall of Fame Matt Stairs: 2007 Topps #UH119

Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame that is.

2007 Topps #UH119  (#d57/2007)

On Wednesday it was announced that Matt Stairs had been elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Not only was Stairs born in Canada, but he came up with the Expos and played for the Blue Jays.

And he was also a member of the 2008 World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.

Last year Stairs joined the Phillies TV broadcast team and is expected to return for 2015. It is not unusual for him to mention his Canadian roots and talk a little hockey.

Congrats to a Phungo Favorite.

HoF Index
I am thinking of using this post for an Index to my Hockey HoF cards :)

Sources and Links 
HoF Index
Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

Thursday, February 5, 2015

2015 Topps First Look

First 2015T purchase was at my local big box. I picked up what has been my traditional first purchase the last couple of years: Three 12 card packs for $1.99 each plus one hanger pack $9.99 (72 Cards).

I believe this is the same prices as a year ago.   

This is just a quick look at a couple of cards from the bounty.

First Card
2015 Topps Bryce Brentz

A prospect in the Red Sox organization, I am familiar with him from seeing him play at the 2013 AA All-Star game in Reading

First Phillies Card 
2015 Topps David Buchanan

The first Phillies card of the year was of David Buchanan who will likely be a back end of the rotation starter this season.

Almost at the same time I found the above Buchanan card, my assistant Ms Phungo found this card.

2015 Topps Carlos Ruiz 

CHOOOOOCH! The man who Buchanan will be pitching to this season. Good looking card, action preceding a play at the plate.

2015 Topps Checker Derek Jeter

There was a bit of a twitter kerfuffle over Derek Jeter being on Card #1 of 2015T. I didn't get it, he is an iconic player why not card 1. This however is not card 1 this is a checklist that falls later in the set.

2015 Topps Yamani Grandal

There is some great photography in Topps the last couple of years. I think the tattoo Grandal is sporting is a Tazmanian Devil in catchers gear. If it is, I have total respect for the man.

2015 Topps Khris Davis

I like this one for both the in action and the Pirates font on the wall distance sign

2015 Topps Jackie Bradley Jr

I love this. Corner to Corner for Jackie Bradley Jr

Archetypes Hank Aaron Nolan Ryan

I didn't really look into the inserts, just posting some quick pix.

Jackie Robinson Story Insert

The Jackie Robinson card is from a special insert set produced for Target. It appears this replaces the red parallel cards.

First Home Run Matt Carpenter & Don Mattingly

These two cards were at the end of the Hanger pack, I think they are a regular insert. Cool idea to honor different players first homers.

2015 Topps Index
This post will act as an index for my musing on 2015 Topps
Variation: S1 #216 Greg Holland

Thats a Wrap

Sources & Links
Cardboard Connection

a thousand words

a thousand words
2008 World Champions