Natitude

I love the Yankees.  People give me a hard time about it and when they don’t, they are utterly confused…why in the hell would a boy raised in Texas and who has never ever been to New York City be a Yankee fan.

Seriously?

Why?

The Yankees?

The Evil Empire!

Well, I don’t have a great reason why other than when I was a very easily influenced 9 year old boy my favorite player became a Yankee.  He was an Athletic, and he became a Yankee.  Being a 9 year old confused little child I decided I would follow my player to the team.  Now, nearly 30 years later I am still a Yankee fan and love the history of the storied franchise.  I’m gonna miss the hell out of Jeet as i do Mo, Posada, Pettitte, Mattingly…etc…Over the past couple of years though, i’ve developed quite an attraction for the Washington Nationals.  Here’s my reasoning.  As you can tell, i’m a Redskins fan and i do everything I can to listen to Sports Talk radio from DC, and as one would expect they talk DC sports.  So, by default the past 6-8 years my affinity towards the Nationals has been building and building.  So much so that i am working all angles to get the kid to become a Nats fan.  They’re a lovable team, right?  Scrappy, hard working.  Dealt with tough losses in big games (looking at you Drew Storen…).  Built a strong organization from the ground up, albeit from many poor seasons and in turn drafting well with their high picks (hard to miss on Harper and Strasburg though, eh?).

I’m kinda old school in that i love it when players stay with a team their entire career.  I know this isn’t always the players fault, but i greatly appreciate it as a fan.  I also appreciate an organization that can draft, develop and lock up their talent for years to come.  You build a strong foundation with the kids in the minor leagues and infill with veteran leaders and role players as necessary.  You don’t chuck millions after millions for guys past their prime.  You take a chance on a kid that your program has developed and lock him up.  Make it so he doesn’t even want to look at another club.  Make him feel like he is a cornerstone to a strong future.  Now this is in total contradiction to what the Yankees have historically done…although, you can very easily argue that their last mini dynasty was due in part to the development and infill mentality rather than poach and overpay mindset.  So, i guess what i’m beating around the bush about here is that I will always love the Yankees, but i’m kinda diggin’ the Nats right now.  I’m sort of a baseball polygamist.

Albeit one American League Team and one National League Team.

I bought baseball cards.

Remember that part where I talked about wanting a player to stay with one team for the duration of his career?  Hanley is one of those guys that, well, he’s come full circle.  Red Sox, Marlins, Dodger, Red Sox.  Initially i was cool with the first Red Sox run because it was so insignificant in his career.  In my eyes he was a Marlin.  A Florida Marlin, not a freakin’ Miami Marlin.  He was a wonderful player on my fantasy baseball team for a couple of seasons and won me a really nice chunk of change one season.  I was cool when he became a Dodger.  I kinda like the Dodgers.  Great history.  Iconic Jerseys and who doesn’t love Vin Scully?

Seriously.

Vin Scully!

But now that he’s a Red Sock again.  I can’t do it.  I can’t collect his cards and feel good about myself, the Yankee fan inside me can’t handle it.  So, I’m only collecting him as a Marlin…Florida Marlin.

10 TT Hanley Ramirez Mini

Now to the Nats portion of the program.  Werth and Strasburg with some Game Worn Memorabilia on display below.  Other than Mariano Rivera, I don’t typically collect pitchers.  Too risky and their careers can be schizophrenic (is that not PC?).  I’ve always steered clear of them, but Stras is pretty special I guess.  So far he hasn’t lived up to the hype, but the hype was out of control that nobody ever could live up to that hype.  He’s still be very solid and hasn’t been overly fragile, maybe sensitive, but not fragile.  Now this Werth cat is something else.  His hair is amazing.  His beard is amazing, but the DUI isn’t really cool.  Maybe hit up the Uber app next time for a $900 ride home. #justsayin

24 TU Stephen Strasburg Jersey

14 TU Jayson Werth Jersey

Speaking of wonderful pitchers.  Jordan Zimmerman.  He has become the most important Zimmerman on the team the past couple of years and luckily isn’t related to the crazy Zimmerman in south Florida.  No, he’s a pitcher and a pitcher that will be an important piece to a potentially all time dominant starting rotation.  I have his autograph on a sticker on a card that has no logos.  I can imagine how annoying it would be to write Z I M M E R M A N every time you sign an autograph, but this is a little too much corner cutting for me.  Although I do appreciate the left justified approach.  Never know how long that squiggly line will need to extend at the end of Z I M M E R M A N.

13 PP Jordan Zimmerman Auto

HEY!  I snuck in a Redskin card!  But only because it reminded me of Rocket Pops.

Rocket Pops

This is a very patriotic, summer-y, popsicle-y card that I had to have.  This is one of those parallel cards that makes the rainbow collector happy…i’m assuming?

It’s Art Monk and I love Art Monk.

14 PP Art Monk Rainbow

Trade Post: Nachos Grande

As i was going through some of my random hit cards, I noticed I had a Barry Larkin card that didn’t have a great place in my collection.  I knew someone who would appreciate it though, Chris over at Nachos Grande!  I sent him the card and he was able to put together a trifecta of cardboard that I can definitely use for my team and player sets.

08 Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez – 2008 Allen and Ginter

08 AM LaRon Landry Gridiron Force 19:250

LaRon Landry – 2008 Absolute Memorabilia Gridiron Force 19/250

89 PS Joe Theismann

Joe Theismann – 1989 Pro Set

At this point in my blogging days, I am a very difficult trade partner as my lists are incomplete…and I have a good amount of cards for the teams and players I collect.  Chris was able to find three cards that I do not have…I used to have the Theismann, but it’s gone awol, as has the single bar face mask.

Thanks for the cards Nachos Grande!  They will find a home in their respective binder soon.

Shiny Baseball Cards

My football card blog is lagging in baseball card posts…not really, I just have a few Harpers and a Hanley I wanted to show you kids.

These bad boys have been sitting in my man cave aka, my closet!  Just sitting there, precariously perched on a box of top loaders stacked on a box of books, next to a pair of jeans that no longer fits my ever growing winter ass.

Bryce Harper everyone!

11 TH Bryce Harper Minors

I managed to pick up 3 Harper cards that do not have him with a Curly W Nats hat.

13 HH Bryce Harper Defining Moments Black Border

This one is very patriotic and shiny and Prizm-y.

13 PP Bryce Harper USA Baseball

Here is the Hanley Ramirez card I noted in the very first sentence of this post.  I love Hanley and hope that he can stay healthy next year.

13 TT Hanley Ramirez WBC 2

I have paid more attention to the Dodgers in the 1 1/2 years since they picked him up…this also gave me a great opportunity to listen to Vin Scully.  Man, I miss baseball already…

2013 Topps S2 – Packs 1 and 2

It’s been a few weeks since i’ve done just a baseball post and I have a jumbo box of Topps Series 2 sitting here to my left.  Whattaya say we open it up slowly and see what we see kids!

There’s no need to go over the design of these cards since it’s been covered ad nauseam on your favorite bloggers website, so i’m just going to touch on the hits and fun cards that were pulled from the packs…two at a time.  Double your pleasure!

The first card is two cards, because i’m doubling your pleasure…remember?  I LOVE landscape base cards.  I think they are fantastic and would love to see more sets go this route…just for the fun of it, you know?  The only problem is that they don’t look as great when put in a binder which is where these two islanders are going.  HanRam, as some of you may know is one of my favorite players and along with Carl Crawford are the only two guys that I collect that haven’t played for the Yankees…yet.  Wait until they are 35, then they will be in pinstripes. Apparently that’s what the Bronx Bombers do these days.  Lose to the Orioles and sign old guys.  The Chapman card is also fantastic, plus he’s Cuban…and I love Cuba…PLUS he’s throws really really hard and fast.

13 T Hanley Ramirez Aroldis Chapman

The next two cards are one of the reasons why people hate Topps.  Although, I don’t think either one of these guys are SP cards they are still super gimmicky.  Of the two, I would rather be Justin Ruggiano becuase it’s either water or that crazy clear Ice Gatorade or something…I have no idea, the card doesn’t explain what is being expelled on his shoulder.  Anyone feel sorry for the sideline reporter on the Lombardozzi card?  Me neither…

13 T Justin Ruggiano Steve Lombardozzi

Alright, this is where is turn in to a singles hitter.  That said, here is Derek Jeter.  I love the Captain.  And there is nothing wrong with that, just like there is nothing wrong with starting a sentence with and.

13 T Derek Jeter

This is a cool card because it has Bryce Harper and the look of a child who got his hand caught in the cookie jar.  Brian is the older brother that gets in trouble for not keeping a better eye on his little brother.  Big Brother = Baltimore Orioles — Little Brother = Washington Nationals.

13 T Brian Roberts

Here is one of the 73 different inserts that Topps likes to entice people to collect.  I believe this is what they call an emerald card?  Please correct me if i’m wrong, and if you are correct, I will send you this card.  When scanned, it kind of looks like a forrest.  David didn’t do so well in the Home Run Derby this evening…on his home turf, but neither did Robbie Cano donchaknow.

13 T David Wright

Another insert, similar to the The Greats inserts.  Yes, I used The back to back.  As far as i’m concerned, this card would be better if it were Rickey Henderson.  Not to take anything away from the wizard, he was a phenomenal player, but when you have 73 inserts, it would be nice to get one of your favorite player, eh?

13 T Ozzie Smith The Elite

This rarely happens, but I pulled a box hit in one of my first two packs.  This heavy ass metal mettle coin card of Adrian Gonzalez.  I like this guy so much more now that his short stint with the Red Sox is over.  Great player, great cards…but still heavy.

13 T Adrian Gonzalez Proven Mettle Bronze 36:50

Cedar Hills Show – The low budget version ep.II

One of my goals at last weekends show was to pick up some Robinson Cano cards.  For whatever reason, he is difficult to find at our local shows and shops…at least inexpensively.  I was hoping to get a handful of Cano cards for a dollar or two each…didn’t happen.  In fact, I didn’t pick up one Cano card.  BUT, i did manage to find a few nice cards of other players I collect…and here they are.

The first card is the classic Mattingly Topps Rookie reprinted from 2001.

01 TA Don Mattingly 84 Topps Reprint

Next a Rickey Dodger incarnation from the 2003 Upper Deck set.

03 UD Rickey Henderson

And a Rickey A’s from the 1981 Fleer Sticker set.  Nice!

81 FS Rickey Henderson

Also picked up an Allen and Ginter Mini

12 AG Rickey Henderson Mini

And a Prizm.  This is both a cool card and one of my least favorite card.  I really have a tough time with the photoshopped logos and team names.

13 PP Rickey Henderson Dominance

The Hanley was part of a 7/$5 deal and it’s numbered to 25.  Can’t beat that.

12 TT Hanley Ramirez 17:25

A Crawford Prizm in his Los Angeles Baseball Club jersey…photoshop…

13 PP Carl Crawford

Last up area  few Jeter cards.  I specifically said I wouldn’t purchase any Jeter cards at this show because he is one player that I have never organized…but always manage to pick up one or two when they are marked for a $1.  Also, I couldn’t pass up this trio of cards or the mini.  All were part of the 7/$5 deal.  Sometimes you justgottagettajeta!

96 UD Derek Jeter VJ Lovero

97 TB Derek Jeter

96 SR Derek Jeterand the Mini!

13 GQ Derek Jeter Mini

 

Box Break: 2013 Bowman

Bowman is one of those in between sets for me.  Do I buy packs?  A box and build the set?  Pull my favorites out and part ways with the rest of them?

I’m not a prospector, but I love to pull some of the great rookies that I read about.

I don’t put together too many sets, but I love to buy packs and sometimes a box of cards that I enjoy openings packs of.

I like inserts, but too many of them become overwhelming.

Bowman has a way of providing a response to each of these contradictions in my collecting habits.  When Topps brought back the Bowman cards in 1989, my friend Alex and I were all in.  The cards were weird and big and didn’t fit well anywhere, but they were cool and had a Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card.  Griff was the man in 1989 and his rookie cards were something every kid in America that collected cards wanted.  I had them all, and loved the oversized Bowman version (after the Upper Deck version of course…)  Although the cards weren’t that great.  The photography was a little grainy at times and the overall design was weak…plus the stat on the back were quite confusing and took some getting used to.  Either way I was going to collect this set…and all other versions that would come out in the future.  That was, until 1992 rolled around.  The card quality became significantly better and the rookie class was pretty stellar at the time (I still have my Raul Mondesi in a screw down holder, iknowright!).  1992 was also the time I began to realize I can’t collect everything…because I couldn’t afford it.  So I never completed the set and ended up getting rid of my other sets from the previous years.

13 BB Mariano Rivera Chrome RC Reprint

Fast forward to the future that is today.  The card quality has improved exponentially and in relation to the other stuff that’s being issued, Bowman is quite affordable.  I’ve purchased a box of these the past three years and took a bigger step this year and bought the jumbo pack box from Dave and Adam’s card world.  Here is my review.

13 BB Josh Hamilton Chrome RC Reprint

Card Design – 3 of 5

The overall design of the cards is quite simple, which I love.

13 BB Robinson Cano

13 BB Hanley Ramirez

No extra weird things going on here, just some simple graphics and all the basic information you need on a baseball card.  I do like the subtle variation on the front of the card that differentiates the Bowman Prospects from the Major Leaguers.  Bowman also carried this through as they do on the back of  the card with the numbering and color of the card stock.

Photography – 3 of 5

The photographs are your typical action photos mixed in with awkwardly posed for photos of young men in uniforms.  There are a lot of beards and facial hair in general around the world these days and the major league baseball franchise is no different.  I’m thinking Panini needs to do a facial hair card set.  Maybe Josh Reddick get the coveted #1 card?

13 BB Matt Kemp Bryce Harper Gold Border

Hits – 4 of 5

Like I said before, I’m no prospector.  I simply don’t have the patience or wherewithal to invest in people I don’t know and Bowman counts on people doing this.  That’s what makes this set so wonderful though.  If you do pull a great auto of a young talented player or a refractor you have a nice piece of cardboard.  If you don’t, well, you have something shiny to look at i guess.  Another thing with the hits is that you have to wait a couple of years for these guys to pan out and get a year or two under their belts.  Just because you are a top 100 prospect doesn’t mean you are going to be a star in the bigs.  All that said, It’s nice to get the ‘First Bowman card’ of a potential star.

13 BB Eddie Rosario Dorssys Paulino Top 100

Another thing that i really enjoy about the Bowman cards and the young stars is the names of these kids.  Damn.

13 BB Oliberto Amaya Calderon Maldonado Chrome

Review

Bowman is always fun to open and the cards are always a very solid quality.  I’m not sure if I will buy a jumbo box next year unless i plan to start building the sets again…but getting 32 cards in a pack is pretty cool.

13 BB Rodriguez Bundy Reed Rowen Gold Sparkle

The overall look and feel of the cards is great, nothing to complain about here, plus the price is right with Bowman, especially for what you get.

Mini’s are cool.

13 BB Skaggs Hanson Bradley Hensley Minis

So are Flags…

13 BB Davis Upton Alonso Maurer Hometown

and blue or maybe purple cards?

13 BB Brett Gerritse Blue Refractor 60:250and who doesn’t love them some autographs!

13 BB Eddie Butler Auto

13 BB Yordano Ventura Refractor Auto 79:500

13 BB Alex Meyer Auto

Oh yeah, this guy…Han Ram

Looking at my recent purchases from the card show and my tagged items, i just realized i’ve never done a post about one of my favorite non Yankee baseball players, Hanley Ramirez!

08 TC Hanley Ramirez Refractor

I’m not really sure why i’m so drawn to him as a ballplayer as he hasn’t been that special the last couple of seasons mostly due to poor health.  He is without a doubt a phenomenal talent though.  A very good hitter (average wise), but he does tend to strike out a lot.  Good power and speed, stealing 102 bases in his first two full seasons.  To this point, his peak year was 2009 which was also the same season he got his huge contract…not saying the two had something to do with each other, but it’s not like it’s never happened before.  Young player works hard to get to a point in his career where he can get a big contract to take care of himself, his family and friends.  Then, the level of production tends to drop off…it’s not uncommon and sometimes it gets rectified.

07 TC Hanley Ramirez Refractor

I think the real reason i was drawn to him was through fantasy baseball, which i played religiously for quite a few years.  I was targeting him in the late rounds of one of our drafts in a keeper league as i had done my research on the one time Red Sox phenom (always know your enemy!)  Two picks before i was going to take him, he was snatched up by the guy sitting next to me.  His words as i recall went something like this “I have no idea who this Henley guy is, but he’s at the top of my guys left in the queue…” so there you go.  My guy was snatched away from me.  No worries though.  I traded for him, giving up a very talented and coveted at the time, Bobby Abreu.  Needless to say i won the player for player trade in the long term.  BUT the guy that got Abreu ended up winning the league that year…and i came in 9th of 16 teams.  I was blasted for a few months in the league for making the trade, but i knew what i was doing as it paid out a few years later when i flipped him for some good talent and came in second place, just a 1/2 point from the title.

06 UD Hanley Ramirez

Hanley is young enough that he has plenty of time to get his career back on track and be a perennial MVP candidate and put up big numbers…especially if he can get healthy and stay healthy.  I also love that he’s with the Dodgers, i can listen to his games on the At Bat app at night while i write up these wonderful posts.

13 GQ Hanley Ramirez

Any Hanley fans out there?  Marlin Hanley fans, Dodger Hanley fans, or just Hanley fans like me?

08 TG Hanley Ramirez