Thursday, October 27, 2016

it's the wrong edwin, but it's still a dodger card

i recently looked at edwin/eddie/ed mathews' 1956 topps card for the first time.  i mean, really looked at it.
it's a tatooine card - a card that features only the infield dirt - and i did not know that mathews' given name was edwin (just like the duke of flatbush, edwin donald snider), but that's not why i was so intrigued.  no, it was the presence of a brooklyn dodger on the card that made me stop and take notice.  given the circumstance, i can only assume that it is pee wee reese who has suffered the wrath of mathews' slide.

i decided to add this mathews card to my collection (first copy goes in the 'dodger lurker' mini collection), and was looking for one at a recent card show where i met up with brian from highly subjective, completely arbitrary.  he made some good progress on his 1956 topps set at that show, but i came away without a mathews.  a few days later, i pulled the trigger on a very low priced version which, as you can see, has some damage.  that's no problem for me or my budget. having this card in my collection now, i see that it pairs well with my 1956 topps roy mcmillan card, which features jim gilliam in an uncredited supporting role.

mathews grew up and lived (and is buried) in santa barbara, which was not far from where i grew up.  i played against his alma mater in high school ball a couple of times.  howver, he was well before my time, and so the santa barbara guy my friends and i were more familiar with was jesse orosco, who doesn't have any cards that feature pee wee reese.

Monday, October 24, 2016

moving on...line

it's no secret that topps has moved much of their business online this year, through their anthology, topps now, and thursday throwback brands (all three of which i have purchased cards from, although mostly via the secondary market).  i did not pay attention to the online only stuff prior to this year, and i don't know that i will pay it much mind next year.  however, i was intrigued enough by topps now to buy into it this year, and my main man steve garvey was featured in the anthology and thursday throwback sets, so i sought out those cards.

the garv most recently made an appearance in the online exclusive 2016 topps archives snapshots set, and here is his card to prove it.
there's a black and white parallel, plus an auto (i have the b&w, but not the auto).  this is a decent idea as far as using some of the discarded photos topps photographers amassed back in the 70's and 80's that have been peddled on ebay through the topps vault.  however, it looks to me like this is the same photo topps used for garvey's 1976 card.

the anthology cards i purchased were essentially reprints of garvey's 1971 topps card, and the throwback thursday card he was featured on was a 1975 topps style card featuring his 1974 and 1978 topps cards (he was the mvp of the all-star game both of those years).  while this archives card is new, it is also recycled, and so i don't really know why i bother anymore.

as an aside, i had meant to post this last saturday, as a way of bringing garvey to the internet around the time that the dodgers and cubs were playing game 6, since garvey has had a way of disrupting the hopes and dreams of cubs fans in potential nlcs clinchers.  unfortunately, i didn't post it, and the cubs won, and i suppose it's my fault.  i will admit that i caught cubs fever in 1984 (i was a ryno fan, too, and even started collecting cubs topps team sets from 1970 on) right up until they faced off against the padres and garvey in the nlcs. then i was rooting for the padres, and was pleased as punch when the garv hit his game 4 walk-off to force a 5th game.

i was somewhat down on sunday due to the premature end to the dodgers' season, but i've already moved on, as i didn't have high hopes this postseason anyway.  there is some serious work to do by the dodger front office, but i won't presume to lay out a plan that they could follow.  i just know i will be disappointed if kenley jansen is a giant in 2017. just like i'm sure i'll be disappointed in topps' online offerings.

Monday, October 17, 2016

one step closer, yet still far away

andre ethier is the current 'dean of the dodgers' (he's been with the big club since early in the 2006 season), and he's starting to get close to being the top 10 in some dodger career categories such as home runs (he is eleven behind pedro guerrero, who is currently in the 10-spot).

those aren't the only lists he's on, as one of his cards was among my top 10 most wanted (well, top nine, actually) that are  posted as the 'nefarious nine' at garveyceyrusselllopes.  it was his 2007 topps chrome blue refractor parallel, to be exact.

yes, that's the card.

i bought it as part of a beckett marketplace transaction.  it doesn't seem like too many bloggers use beckett; certainly not as often as ebay, just commons, sportlots, or check out my cards, anyway.  i've made a few purchases there over the years, and when you are looking for something in particular and relatively obscure, all avenues are worth perusing.

i'm down to needing only takashi saito and greg maddux to complete my team set of these beauties, but i haven't seen either of their cards pop up in the 18 months that i have been tracking them (april 2015 is when i completed my 2011 topps chrome atomic refractor team set and decided to turn my attention to 2007 topps chrome blue refractors). these things were retail only inserts which may explain the scarcity on the secondary market, although i wasn't paying too close attention back in 2007 when they were first released, and there could have been hundreds of them then.  but, that was then and this is now.  i think those other two cards from this set will be on that nefarious nine list for a while...

Friday, October 7, 2016

looking for 7

the dodgers - combining the brooklyn and los angeles versions - have 6 world series titles to their credit.  tonight, they begin their latest postseason quest for number 7.  the nice people at topps recently included this insert in their physical 2016 topps bunt release around the concept that the dodgers have won a number of titles.
it's numbered to 75 and is fairly difficult to come by, so i just have the one and it will go in my steve garvey collection.  duke snider and sandy koufax are just along for the ride.  here's the back.
i won't be scratching off for the code. i don't even know what the code does.

anyway, of the six titles owned by the franchise, only the 1988 championship came about without input from one of the three players shown (it would have been nice for topps to have added orel hershiser to the card to address that title, but i suppose four dodgers would get somewhat crowded).  in fact, the dodgers franchise has only appeared in four world series in seasons that the rosters didn't include one of these guys.  you have the 1916 and 1920 world series that the brooklyn robins lost, and the 1941 world series that the brooklyn dodgers lost to go along with the 1988 improbable/impossible season and title (side note in case you are about to question it - the dodgers made the series in 1947, snider's rookie season, although duke did not play in the fall classic that year).

now, here is a (sad) list of non-championship dodger postseason appearances since garvey left the fold.

1983 - lost nlcs to phillies 3 to 1.  steve carlton was pretty good.
1985 - lost nlcs to cardinals 4 to 2.  first base was open!
1995 - lost nlds to reds 3 to 0.  none of the games were close.
1996 - lost nlds to braves 3 to 0.  dodgers had a lead for a total of four out of 28 innings.
2004 - lost nlds to cardinals 3 to 1. thank goodness for lima time that year.
2006 - lost nlds to mets 3 to 0.  back to getting swept in the postseason.
2008 - won nlds against cubs 3 to 0; lost nlcs to phillies 4 to 1.  mannywood!
2009 - won nlds against cardinals 3 to 0; lost nlcs to phillies 4 to 1.  payback for '77 and '78 nlcs.
2013 - won nlds against braves 3 to 1; lost nlcs to cardinals 4 to 2.  no kemp and hanley hbp hurt.
2014 - lost nlds to cardinals 3 to 1.  this is why i don't like matt adams.
2015 - lost nlds to mets 3 to 2.  this is why i don't like daniel murphy either.

at any rate, i'm hoping that any cards or conversations about dodger championships going forward will have to include clayton kershaw and the franchise's seventh title.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

still watching for patches and armbands

as the death of jose fernandez has reminded us, baseball is not immune to the realities of life.  some may see it as morbid, but i appreciate teams that recognize the passing of people important to the franchise, the fans, or the sport itself.  i've got a running list of such memorials at my want list, along with links to most of the cards that i've come across displaying the armbands or patches that i keep in my collection.

for the record, i had planned this post prior to the news of fernandez's death thanks to the fact that i pulled this austin jackson card
from the 20-card pack of 2016 topps heritage and high numbers i purchased recently.  jackson, who was new to the chisox this season, is wearing the 'eddie' memorial patch on his right sleeve. the white sox added this patch to their uniforms this year to honor co-owner eddie einhorn who passed away this past february from complications due to a stroke. he was 80 years old.

here's another view of the patch, as it was worn during the all-star game,
courtesy of chris sale's 2016 topps update card.

there were a few teams that wore memorials this past season, and i'll try to show them all (as well as some from last season that i didn't post at garveyceyrusselllopes) as cards become available.

Monday, October 3, 2016

a very pleasant goodbye to you, wherever you may be

my childhood is officially over.  vin scully, who was the soundtrack to my summer nights, has retired.
this comes from a post over at garveyceyrusselllopes from almost 8 years ago, but it bears rebroadcasting in light of the retirement of scully.  back in 2005, eric neel from espn was writing a piece on the dodger announcer, and asked some of us who posted at jon weisman's 'dodger thoughts' site to weigh in on the man and our 'relationship' with him (weisman, by the way, is now the dodgers' director of digital and print content).  anyway, here's what i sent to eric:



Glad to be able to share and help. I apologize in advance for the verbosity.

Answering your first question - I don't know if his voice inspires thoughts for me separate from baseball, but it is certainly a catalyst for non-baseball related memories and reflections through the baseball related memories it conjures. Vin's voice is absolutely a connection between my present and my past (and hopefully, my future), all of which are much (although sometimes not too much) more than baseball. It takes me back to my youth in Santa Barbara county, and my college years in southern California. It reminds me of so many things, but, as I mentioned in my Dodger Thoughts post, the first things I think of when I hear his voice are the late (for a 8 or 9 year old) nights, spent sitting at the dining room table with my dad and his transistor radio, watching him finish some paperwork while Vin and Ross and Jerry told their tales. It also reminds me of my late grandmother, who didn't know much about baseball, but knew who Vin Scully was, and would always say "that must be ol' Vin Scully" when she would hear the radio broadcasts we were listening to. Of course, I am also reminded of the trips we made as a family to see the Dodgers play, and how we would always take the radio into Dodger Stadium with us (just like everyone else, it seemed). So, I suppose that his voice is a gateway to thoughts and memories for me beyond just the game of baseball itself. 

Because of the connection I have with him and my past, there is definitely a safety and comfort factor that cannot be denied. Baseball is a sort of escape for me, I suppose, and hearing him call a game is about as safe and comfortable as I can imagine being for 3 or so hours. After moving from Orange County to Minneapolis (an American League town, for goodness sake) in 1997, I decided to road trip to see the Dodgers once a year. In 1998, I went to Wrigley for the first time, and I was more excited about seeing Vin again (even though I couldn't hear him) than I was about seeing the actual game. Last year, I went to Fenway, and was thrilled that he made the trip. He threw out the first pitch one night, and I got one of my favorite souvenirs from the trip - a picture of me, Sandy Koufax, and Vin. Granted, they are on the field in the background, and I am behind the dugout up in the stands, but still, we were in the frame together. Anyway, this is the first year since I moved here that I have purchased the indemand baseball package, and so have had the ability to hear him regularly, and the memories have been overwhelming at times. It has also given me the opportunity to introduce him to my 5 year old. I cannot tell you how stoked I was the other night to be sitting on the couch with my son at my side, watching Dodger baseball, and listening to Vin Scully. 

Your second question is a great one. There are many things I enjoy, among them the daily greeting: "hello, and a very pleasant good evening to you, wherever you may be." this holds more meaning for me now that I am in Minnesota. There is also the way he (and the camera crews) find and describe the children in the stands. He always has kind words, and often something creative to say about the "tow headed youth" or the kid that lost his ice cream cone. It makes me wonder if I were one of those kids that he saw 28 years ago, and what did he have to say about me in my Steve Garvey shirt? I have also come to enjoy his mid game reminiscences of "this day in Dodger history", not just for the information he provides, but the way he smiles, sometimes winking, and says "let's get back to this one" when he's done. It's like we went to the kitchen to get a beer together, had a little conversation, and then realized the next inning was upon us. And then there are the stories he tells each night, the history lessons. 

These are probably my favorite things that he provides. One reason I love the Dodgers is that it is easy to trace back from the team of my youth to the teams my dad followed, and even back to Brooklyn, in very few steps. For example, you could essentially go backwards from Russell to Wills (ignoring the time he spent with other teams in the late 60s) to Reese at shortstop. To get to Russell from Izturis would take a few more steps, to be sure. In the booth, however, there has been Vin Scully. He is the direct link that I have to the history of the team, and really, the game, that I love. 

I have to add that I also love him for his ability to watch and call the game (fairly, I might add - no homers here), and tell his stories while at the same time being very attentive to the TV feed that the rest of us are watching. It's quite frustrating when the announcers are oblivious to what is appearing on TV, and Vin is able to incorporate what is being shown into whatever else he is describing. I am sure it is harder than it seems, given the fact that he is the only one I have seen who does this.


i would be remiss if i did not also post that vin is directly responsible for the greatest mail day ever, as he signed and returned a card to me.
just one more reason to say thank you, vin.