Thursday, October 29, 2009

Maybe Sammy will also resurrect

Now that McGwire is back in a MLB uniform, I'll take a moment to blog about none other than Mark's nemesis and who helped him put baseball back on the map with their steriod-Hr race: Slammin Sammy.

In the late 90's Sammy was by far the most recognizable face the Dominican Republic had in MLB. His popularity was so outstanding that he couldn't walk around in public without 3 or more bodyguards breathing on his neck. The first and only time I've seen him in person happened at a gas station where your royal highness Sammy was just showing off his brand new Dodge Viper, the first ever that came down here. Right behind, 3 Ryan Howard type of guys were escorting him on a Mercedes S500. Saying he was cocky and arrogant would have been a compliment.

He bought several fancy properties in Santo Domingo, Casa de Campo and forgot the exact address of his hometown "San Pedro de Macoris".

Long back were the days where he played during our winter baseball season.

He's one of the worst cases I've seen of money changing totally who you are (or who WE think you are). In my opinion, he's not a bad guy but he fouled the ball hanging around with the wrong people. That was the problem.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Your weather forecast for the 80's

Prospecting has never been easy. It used to be a tough job only for scouts trying to make a living as pythoness and oracles but now they're not alone; diehard collectors/prospectors spend long hours attending minor league games, reading Baseball America reports and hunting young kids for autographs before and after ball games. It's a we'll known established business and it's here to stay.

Back in 1976-77 amateur drafts the Cubs were shopping around in the late rounds trying to make the most out of their rights but !damn! they got it wrong. Actually most teams got it wrong if you check Topps 1980 cards 661-686 but I'm not teasing the Cubs fans, is just that I like to write about cards that I proudly own.

When these are your Future Stars:

I just can say it's going to be a cloudy and stormy decade...

Monday, October 26, 2009

1991 Panini stickers

1991 was a great year. I was just starting high school and officially began collecting. The first baseball trading cards I got my hands on were the now cheap and famous 1991 Panini stickers. I don't know how much money we paid for the album and single packs back then, but I do remember I saved and used for this purpose every single penny I was supposed to spend on lunch and whatever extra cash I received from one of my crazy uncles.

Every morning, we would get to school early enough to buy and share our pulls. If you got there late and missed the seller and didn't fell like waiting until tomorrow, at 10:15am you had 45 minutes (lunch break) to sneak out and run 3 blocks down the street to a nearby private school where the seller was at that time.

Did I ever complete the 1991 album? No. Later that year we were introduced to "regular" baseball cards and never looked back.

For my surprise and delight, a couple of moths ago I found these stickers in a local flea market and I knew they were coming home with me right away.

Now that Panini is in the baseball business once again, maybe they'll resurrect this project and bring back the album glory days for our kids.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Shave & Behave

I'm not a Yankee fan so that puts me in a good position to bash or praise the pin$tripe$. One of the things I've always found ridiculous about them is the "Shave & Behave" policy every team member must obey. Do you remember how Giambi used to look like Emile Hirsch on "Into the Wild"? Suddenly he gets hired by the Yanks and the worst thing he could get away with was a pornstache.

Remember Johnny Damon's look? Now he's Hideki Matsui twin brother. And the list goes on an on.

What would I like to see back again in every single clubhouse: attitude.

Like Reggie wearing gold Ray-Ban Aviators:

Overall, I think restrictions on how a player should dress and look are ridiculous. Every sports player must behave, note that I said behave, as a role model. That means charity related work and not free Gillette advertising. Another active, overrated, fancy looking Yank thicks your clock? I'll give you a clue: He used to be Mariah Carey DJ...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fleer 1983. Only 640 cards short to complete this set...

Fleer 1983 is one of the 80's sets I like and recently realized I own a couple of singles I bought separately. With plenty of stadium background shots, I think you can't go wrong. Even tough a lot of players are featured posing for the cameras, the "playball" felling is there not like some studio shots we saw too often in 90's. Yes, I wish there were more "action" photos but at least there's a healthy mix of both worlds.

Going back to my PC, so far I own:

Frank Viola RC looking and smiling like Fonzie

Ryan taken into custody after striking out 245 batters that season

Carl after a serious night out with the boys and just 22 MLB seasons

Gaylord Perry winning his 300 hundred game at 43 but looking like he's 64

Brett playing Brett

Gwynn RC flexing the muscles showing off his Pascual Perez hair style

...and finally, Fisk hugging Richard Gere or is it Gary Carter?

Friday, October 16, 2009

DGW Draft gone wild. Paul Coleman. 1989

June 1989, Draft day:
With the 6th pick of the first round... the St. Louis Cardinals select.... Paul Coleman...

Doesn't this guy looks like Bo Jackson stunt double? Don't you dare lie to me!! He even has the blue Kansas uniform.

But look on the back of the card and it gets even more suspicious, Topps compared him to Bo!!
Truth be told, I was 100% sure I had found a great Bo Jackson non-existent 1990 RC when I landed this "gem" out of a box full of 90's wannabes. Some props to Paul because who else can say he struck out 21 batters in a game and hit even one 500 ft. HR in his life?

I'm guessing some scout or top Cardinals Exec. lost his job a couple of months after they chose Coleman. Just guessing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

L. Victor Pinella

"Sweet Lou" Ahhhhhh

Who would have guessed this lovely Tampa kid would one day be #4 in the managers ejections category for arguing basically anything.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

SP LC. If it ain't broken, don't fix it.

Recently I've been sharing my opinion with other collectors in some blogs and websites about my thoughts on "cuts signatures" and most important of all: "SP Legendary Cuts".

Why is this brand so important for me:
SP LC'07 was the first HOF/Greats players themed hobby box I ever bought. After I graduated from college in 2003, I jumped back to my collecting habits once again after more than a 5 year hiatus.

With Beckett Baseball as my bible, my mouth watered every time I saw those amazing SP LC, and Absolute Memorabilia pulls in the "Precious Pulls" & "Market Watch" section.

So when in 2007 I found myself with some extra cash to spend, I was ready to order online my first SP LC'07 box. Besides the great hit pictured below that I managed to pull (yes, I was excited), what got me the most was the amazing check list. Add the good looking black design of the base cards with the now reduced price of less than $60/box and you have a best seller.

But then disaster stroke. SP LC'08 came along the way and suddenly your hits were a Jerred Weaver "Destination Stardom" jersey and a Curt Schilling "Destination History" jersey. And don't get me started on the base cards check list: Dan Haren, Rich Hill, etc, etc, etc...

My point is, if UD will keep making this product and they INSIST on including active MLB player, PLEASE get rid of anyone who is not a PROVEN HOF'er candidate just waiting for retirement and the 5 year WL.

I'm kind of a vintage guy nowadays but I'll be tempted everytime I see a well done HOF'er themed product.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hey Pete, we also bet on baseball.

I remember rooting for the Cubs (obviously it proved to be worthless) and the Braves back in the Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz/Avery days starting up the early 90's.

There were 4 of us (Gregorio, David, Hector and me) and our morning ritual consisted on visiting the local betting place every day. We had to walk 15 minutes and be there early in oder to get the best "lineas" (odds) and most important of all: your own copy of a "pitcheo" (piece of paper with today's games/times/schedules/pitchers & stats).

Was it legal at our age? Nop, but who cares. We were only 16 years old back then but placing a bet was easier and safer than buying a beer in a "colmado", also forbidden at that age but you know the deal.

After a couple of weeks visiting the place, the old folks got to know our faces and stopped staring at us.

Our betting patterns were really bad: Gregorio would always bet on the Cubs no matter who they were against with. Now remember that in 1996 they finished the year 76-86.
David & Hector managed to do OK. About me, let's say I was not as bad as Gregorio.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sunny day. I need my sunglasses: Bobby Murcer

I had no idea who Murcer was when I bought this card just because it looked funny. Later I found out he had a decent career overall.

This post was brought to you by RayBan, Arnette, Oakley, Vuarnet, Tuscany and any other sunglasses brand you can think of.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

1968 Topps Game. Matty Alou

The middle brother of the Alou saga, Matty is one the baseball players of whom I'll collect any affordable baseball card I run into.

About the card picture below, I bought it on Ebay a couple of months ago and really enjoy looking at it and comparing this piece with the rest of my PC.

I think that overall you gotta love the design of 1963 Topps Game inserts. This 33 cards set is absolutely gorgeous with its flip-flop front letters, round corners and white back ground. With most cards on this set selling for less than US$3 and the top sellers (Mantle, Mays, Clemente, Rose, Carew and Aaron) going for less than US$9/each, I'm planning to give it a try and complete the set. Looks easy and affordable considering a full non-graded set was sold yesterday for $63.98

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I want my money back 1: Felix Pie

Nobody ever said he was meant to be the next A-Rod but !damn! I had high hopes on Felix Pie. But I was not alone, in 2007 Baseball America ranked him as the #1 Cubs prospect in their farm system & #49 overall.

So high were my expectations that I now regret to say that Pie is one of only 2 players (Tulowitzki is the other one) I've chased down on Ebay until I finally bought his RC (pictured below). Don't remember how much I paid for it but you can bet it was more than the $3 & $4 bucks his autos are selling for nowadays.

Anyway I'll keep this card. Do I have another option? Nop. What's the worst that could happen? Sharing a jail cell with former MLB and now deported and prosecuted women killer Ambiorix Burgos? Bahhh.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The first Dominican who ever made to the show: Ossie Virgil

It's been a couple of months since I wrote something on this blog. That doesn't mean I forgot about the hobby, is just that lately I haven't been able make it down to my nearest vintage flea market (a 3 hours drive from home) and therefore I had to rely on Ebay for some graded cards that I can afford and mean something to me.

Since my last post, I've added a few cards to my PC and new long term project. One of those pieces is none other than Osvaldo Jose Pichardo Virgil a.k.a "Ossie Virgil", the first Dominican who ever made it to the show.

Born in 1932, Osvaldo debuted in September 23rd, 1956 playing just 3 games in what was left of the season but he opened the doors of a brighter future to 490 other Dominican players who have debuted since then and later became legends like the Alou brothers, Rico Carty, Juan Marichal and many others.

The social and economic impact baseball has in our society is incommensurable. Just think about how many prospects are currently making their way through the MLB teams farm systems established in the DR. Hundreds of them.

In a funny misspelled note, according to Ossie's Topps RC, he was born in "Corpus Christi" which is wrong. His hometown is "Monte Cristi", one of the poorest provinces in the DR.