Grand Cards: The Grand Scheme Returns

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Grand Scheme Returns

Ain't that good news This is more of a personal note. I learned the other day that I was just accepted into a Masters program at the University of Maryland which will consume much of my spare time for the next three years. I am very, very excited about this. Also though, I'm a little apprehensive about what it will mean for this blog. My guess is that posting frequency will suffer to some degree but we'll just play it by ear. It isn't until next fall anyway, but if you start to see my web-presence diminish, that's probably what's going on.

As you may have noticed, this news comes on the heels of a relatively slow posting week for me anyway, so I'll just chalk that up to subliminally preparing you for this future possibility. You're welcome.

On to real items:

The Prodigal Son Returns In case you missed it (I almost did, things have been crazy around here lately) yesterday marked the Triumphant Return of Curtis Granderson to Lakeland to visit his old mates, the Detroit Tigers. Don't think that the Tigers and their fans didn't notice:

Many Tigers players were looking for Granderson on Wednesday morning, almost as soon as the Yankees' bus arrived. Once he came out for batting practice, Granderson had an onslaught of players shaking his hand, including Damon.

Granderson's old manager, Jim Leyland, saw him behind the batting cage on the field and gave him a warm welcome.

"Marcus [Thames, another ex-Tiger who's now a Yankee] and Grandy are two of the finest gentlemen I've ever managed," Leyland said. "I'm going to miss both of them, and I wish them nothing but the best. They don't come any better than those two guys. Class all the way. It's great to see them, and I wish them nothing but the best."

That, from the Yankees official site is the type of human interest piece that you would expect on your local beat. Much stranger was the amount of press that this got in the Detroit papers.

The Free Press had a decidedly Grandy-centric game recap, which isn't entirely surprising given the game he had:

Granderson’s catch against the centerfield wall robbed Miguel Cabrera of at least an RBI double in the fourth inning, keeping the Yankees in the game before Greg Golson hit a two-run home run in the ninth off Phil Dumatrait to give them a 9-8 victory.

“That catch was a dandy, or should I say that was a Grandy?” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland.

Detroit’s centerfielder for six seasons before he was traded to the Yankees on Dec. 9, Granderson singled in his first two at-bats and also walked.
Granderson's defense is chronically underestimated outside of Detroit. I've said it before and I'll say it again: he will win a Gold Glove this year. Never underestimate the power of media exposure.

The free press also printed up an Q&A with Curtis. Some was particularly bittersweet:
Q: How much are you following the Tigers?

A: On my iPhone, one of my bookmarks is still the Tigers’ Web site. There’s no reason for me to delete it. I always want to see what’s going on with some of the guys because of the relationship I’ve had with them.
I think that Granderson is going to do great in New York and that, given his business acumen, he holds no grudges or bad feelings towards Detroit or the Tigers organization. In fact, he seems to have a genuine love for the city, the team and the fans, which is all the more reason that his departure was so tough. And remember, it wasn't just tough for us, it was tough for him too.

In all, it looks like Curtis was energized by returning to friendly territory. He had had a disappointing spring up to that point, and this may mark the turnaround for him, which would be nice.

Riding with the cool kids Pardon my lifted nomenclature from Bob Harkins on NBC's Harball Talk, but I think that's a pretty good way to describe this.
Remember when you were a freshman in high school and you bummed a ride off the cool, older kid who already had his license and a car? No? Well trust me, it's a defining moment, one that can bring instant credibility to your high school existence.
The New York Times explains
TAMPA, Fla. – Curtis Granderson got a ride back with some new friends from Monday’s game in Bradenton. Derek Jeter was driving. Alex Rodriguez rode shotgun.

“At first glance, you sit there and go, ‘Man, you know, do I call home and tell my friends who I got a ride with?’ ” Granderson said
One: That's cool, no matter what your personal feelings about Jeter or Arod. Two: this reminds me very much of an old Mitch Albom article where he describes a similar (and in my opinion, way cooler) experience:
And yet I had an idea once for a sports column: Get the four biggest stars from Detroit’s four major sports together in one place, for a night out. The consensus cast at the time (1990) was clear. Barry Sanders was the brightest light on the Lions. Steve Yzerman was Captain Heartthrob for the Red Wings. Joe Dumars was the most popular of the Pistons. And Cecil Fielder was the big bat for the Tigers.

All four agreed to meet at Tiger Stadium, before a game. I picked up Dumars at his house. He was alone. No entourage. Next we went for Sanders, who waited in the Silverdome parking lot, by himself, hands in pockets. When he got in, the two future Hall of Famers nodded at each other shyly. “Hey, man,” Barry said.

“Hey, man,” Joe answered.
Are you kidding me? Hey Barry and Joe, want to go catch a Tigers game? Stevie Y will meet us there and we can talk with Cecil before the game. By the way, I'm Mitch freaking Albom, the odd man out to a ridiculous degree, but I can pick you up, if you'd like.

Now, I've had some pretty cool experiences in my young life, but I can't ever imagine something like that. I don't think that Curtis Granderson could even imagine something like that.

Come on Tax Return... if only I had enough of that "disposable income" I would give serious consideration to buying an actual Detroit Tigers 1984 World Series ring
"The ring is my original one," said Baker, who lives north of San Diego and teaches baseball through independent clinics. "It got ripped off in Los Angeles, but later was found.

"I had already purchased a replacement, so that's why this one is being sold."

Asked what caliber of ring it is, Baker laughed and said "it's not a Bill Scherrer special that's going to turn green."
For those of you unfamiliar with the Scherrer reference, the '84 Tigers did something interesting with their championship rings, where they created three versions of the championship jewelery. A high-level ring was given to starters and key players, and lower level rings were given to everyone else in the organization to minor players all the way down to scouting staff.

For some reason, the eminently forgettable Doug Baker has the real deal.

Remember that time that I said I had had some cool experiences in my young life? One of them was trying on the World Series ring of Steve Lombardozzi of the 1987 Twins and chatting with him about how he upset my Tigers and made the Doyle Alexander trade into the legend it became. His response: "I didn't hit a whole lot of guys well, but I owned Doyle Alexander that year." It was awesome. (FWIW Lombardozzi was right. He hit .429 against Doyle in '87 with an .857 OPS. In the post season, he went .667 with a 1.333 OPS. This, for someone who hit .238 in 1987.)

Anyway, I would love a Tigers one, and based on what's in my wallet, I'm only $4,980 dollars short in case anyone wants to split it with me. Also, $5,000 seems like a relatively reasonable price, considering the cost of memorabilia these days. And even if it is Doug Baker.

Party like it's 1987 Unintentional 1987 theming here, given that last little side story, but look how MLB is promoting its fantasy baseball:



Personally, the 1987 Topps set is one of my least favorite of all time, and I find it's ugliness to be an odd choice to recreate for an advertisement, but hey, whatever. It's not the exact same look as a real '87 card, but it's close enough.

Another one bites the dust There has been too much of this in the last year. Of course, Yankee Stadium needed to be torn down, given that the new stadium is right next door and eliminated park space for the locals, but it would have been nice to preserve something. Especially, something that would be really really cool:
City officials giving a press tour of the demolition said they had no intention of saving Gate 2, as preservation-minded advocates want, because keeping it would interfere with the location of the fields.

Gate 2 is behind the portion of the stadium where the excavators were preparing to tear down the section of the day. The upper deck once consisted of 25 distinct sections, said Dmitri Konon, a senior vice president for the city’s Economic Development Corporation, the project’s overseer. Through Tuesday, five had been wrecked.

That is stupid. I have a little bit (see: a lot) of experience with things of this nature and to argue that you can't keep the gate because it interferes with the field positions is asinine. Are the fields built? No? Then why don't you use a little creativity and redesign the park layout to accommodate the gate? For the Economic Development Corporation to make this claim is even more ridiculous. This will be a community park barring something that attracts outsiders to the site. Something like the preservation of a piece of the structure as an iconic entrance and remnant of the historic building. I will now stop discussing this before I get all worked up. Aargh. Too late.

Misc. Nachos Grande likes the Tigers more than 80% of the rest of the MLB. Nice choice. Wrigley Wax seeks out the Oddball sets, which is a noble activity and something I'll likely pursue myself in the future. Lest we forget, Topps did it again although nobody seems to really care this time around. Custom Detroit Tigers Cards For the win! Including the first Austin Jackson card you'll see!

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