Grand Cards: The Grand Scheme Is Back In Town

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Grand Scheme Is Back In Town

In the City was as exhausting as it sounds, as miserable as you would expect a cold rainy New York to be and really awesome for one humorously proportioned reason:


One thing that I like to do is travel to different baseball stadiums around the country, and when I'm there buy a team bobble head. On Sunday, I was treated to a weather-shortened trip to the Mets' Citi Field, which I must say I really, really liked. Not only did I get the mascot bobblehead with an oversized noggin, I was treated to oversized baseball cards too.

At the entrance:

And above the concessions stands

It is worth noting that because this was a work trip and I wasn't expecting to go to the game until the last minute I didn't have a camera and these pictures were actually stolen off some unsuspecting flickr'ers' pages. Rest assured, the oversized baseball cards were still there when I went. I thought that the daily lineup use of the cards was outstanding, the stadium as a whole got a thumbs up--especially the bridge area in Right Center--and I LOVED the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum. Well done Wilpons. A commemorative Mr. Met is now displayed proudly in your honor.

And another one At some point this eluded me, but there is another Detroit Tigers card in Topps Series 1 that I never included in my posts or checklists.

2010 Topps #HOTG14 1st Hall of Fame Class

Right there in the middle is Ty Cobb aka the guy who got the highest vote totals of any of the inductees in the first Hall of Fame class. That's a Tiger card all right.

National Chicle circa 1953 A Cardboard Problem passed on the info that National Chicle is live. I'd like to get some in my hands before I judge them. With everyone making a fuss about the hand painted cards though, my first taste of painted cards was waiting for me when I got home today.

These are the first 1953 cards that I've ever seen in person or had in my possession and they are just fantastic. Note to self: Get more 1953 cards.

One of them good problems? Sometimes, when a player goes out there and exceeds all expectations and is doing great and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon it is healthy to take a deeper look and perhaps criticize parts of said players game, expose holes or mention areas of potential improvement. This is a good thing. It keeps us grounded--the player isn't superman after all-- but also keeps us optimistic--think of what he could be if he fixed this, for example.

So this is one of those good problems right? Right?!?
The American League's top Rookie of the Year candidate? That's easy: Austin Jackson. Any plain fool could see that.

Yay! Oh, wait.
Jackson is making very poor contact, leading the AL in strikeouts and whiffing at a rate that would work out to over 220 strikeouts in 600 at-bats. Simultaneously, he’s hitting .500 on balls in play, which is to say that half of everything he actually makes contact with falls in. The reason for that, in turn, is a line-drive rate of 33 percent. The line drive rate for all batters this year is about 18 percent. Last year it was 19 percent. We have no way of knowing what the average line-drive rate was in, say, 1912, but I very much doubt even Ty Cobb hit one-third of balls solidly over a full season.

Aw, geez he just...well he uh...was playing so well I thought he was Ty Cobb. You guys lied to me! You told me he was Ty Cobb!

In fact, no. We knew all along that it was Austin Jackson, he of the "struck out a ton in the Minor Leagues" fame. And that's fine. As Rob Neyer says:

Is it impossible to be a productive hitter while striking out 200 times? Nope. Ryan Howard and Mark Reynolds have proved that quite convincingly. Before them, Adam Dunn.
And he's right. But you know what those guys haven't even done? How about struck out in each of their first 19 major league games. As in, Austin Jackson has done something that nobody in baseball has done since the strikeout became an official recorded stat back in the aughts or what have you: he set a record for most consecutive games with a strikeout to start a career. He has 32 in 19 games. 32! He's not exactly trending to a 40 home run season either.

Then again, he's hitting .314 and heading into the bottom of the 9th tonight Jackson hasn't struck out--and he was facing Francisco Liriano who just carved up the Tigers 10 times on the night--so maybe things will turn around for the better. More likely though, things will turn around for the worse once it becomes apparent that Austin Jackson isn't twice as skilled of a hitter as the greatest hitter of all time and falls back into those normal bands of expected production. FWIW, I still like the kid.

More Ajax Everyone else does too, apparently:
Opposing managers are starting to rave about the Tigers' rookie centerfielder. During the Tigers-Angels series last week, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Jackson reminded him of B.J. Upton, the speedy and powerful centerfielder of the Tampa Bay Rays.

After he saw Jackson in the first two games of the Tigers-Texas series, Texas manager Ron Washington said, "He looks like a baseball player. He has a good idea of what his ability is. And he can run. He can move." Washington gave Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon a lot of credit for Jackson's success, including his at-bat to at-bat resiliency.

Pushing the all too easy "Ron Washington is on cocaine--see?" jokes, is that just the most useless quote you've ever seen? Go get 'em Ron. Nice job on the praise though Ajax.

Down on the Farm WOTS is that the Tigers waaay overtaxed bullpen might need some relief from the minor leagues. I don't have any insight into this, but it does allow me to segue into the Topps Pro Debut minor league cards that I just got and LOVE.

That is one of 11 cards from the set of players in the Tigers system and it shows the coolest thing that I didn't know about the minor league teams: The Oneonta Tigers (now former Oneonta Tigers) modified an Old English D into an "O" and it is fantastic.

Topps has created a minor league set that actually looks and feels legit for the first time in who knows how long and it seamlessly integrates into the design of their regular base set. Win. Please do this again and again and again.

Misc. Barry Larkin is getting his number retired. Did you know that he originally went to Michigan to play football? That's cool. Granderson is really struggling right now, but he will have a card in the happy super fun team bonus sets that are a horrible pain to track down. Why is Topps 206 coming back? That should have been a one-off for sure. I guess it will be minis only for me again.

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