Grand Cards: July 2010

Saturday, July 31, 2010

It's The Little Things

Baseball is all about the little things. A Saturday afternoon game on Network TV so that I can watch my team halfway across the country. A 5'9 rookie turning a slow roller into a gorgeous double play with skill unlike anyone in Detroit has seen since the days of Tram & Lou. A short left field with a huge wall that turns a routine fly ball into a leaping catch at the wall. The cumulative effect of bad pitches and bad decisions and bad luck leaving Tigers fans dejected and angry, and Red Sox fan euphoric, even though they know in their heart of hearts that David Ortiz's bat speed has slowed to the point where he needs to be sitting on a pitch to drive it. Baseball's greatness is contained within the little things.

So too with collecting, although I mean it much more literally. I've received a lot of good mail recently, but nothing quite makes me smile like the little things. I'll start things off with a bang:

2008 Allen & Ginter #373 Justin Verlander Mini

2008 Allen & Ginter #387 Miguel Cabrera Mini

It took being shipped from Taiwan, but they're here. Two of the three Tigers "extended minis" from 2008 Allen & Ginter. As I find myself more and more drawn towards mini cards, the extended set was something that I just couldn't ignore. It makes me kind of wish that all cards were mini cards...

Like, what if all those cards you had from the 80s, looked like this:
1989 Topps Mini Leaders #53 Gary Pettis

1987 Topps Mini Leaders #53 Kirk Gibson

Seriously, how much better would that have been. Or the early 90s, when Upper Deck blew us all out of the water with holograms and such? Why weren't we captivated by these:
1991 Topps Cracker Jack #26 Alan Trammell

I had totally forgotten that there used to be cards in Cracker Jacks. They are so small. You can fit 4 to one regular sized card. In fact, I'm a little disappointed that nobody has come up with a 36-sleeve card holding page. I would totally get one. Unfortunately, because the scale is still basically the same as a regular card, it's hard to tell just how small it is. Here's some help:

That's the cracker jack on the far right with an 80s era Topps mini next to it. A full size card is the Gibson in the middle, next to what I can only describe as the Biggest Donruss Card I've ever seen. Of Sparky Anderson. Probably explaining how important the little things are in baseball.

The A&G minis come courtesy of my diligent eBay bargain hunting. The Pettis comes from Rhubarb Runner and the rest come from Cards on Cards, who provided me with a package rich with 80s and 90s goodness including minis galore and a bunch of other cards that I didn't have. Thanks so much to both of you!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Tracking A Twitter Fight

Yesterday, I got myself into a twitter fight. It is still officially my first week on twitter, and I didn't know how easy it would be to get wrapped up in these things. Anyway, I got all fired up 140 characters at a time and went head to head with Beckett's Chris Olds. On the internets, this has become but one piece of a big commotion surrounding Beckett's break of a box of 2010 Topps Tribute. Now, I've never commented on box breaks or on Beckett in general, and I will continue to not do so here. But, something rubbed me the wrong way.

So, Click on over and see what all the fuss was about! (I tried embedding this but it cut off the conversation, also, the formatting on the main site is better.)

Now tell me, who wins the Twitter Fight, and why? (It can also be a draw)

Let me revise my concluding question: As Captain Canuck points out, nobody wins in a Twitter fight. I just thought it was neat to track something from start to finish outside of twitter where things can get very confusing. Also entertaining to see how the conversation progresses.

The Greatest of All Time?

If I had known this earlier today, I would have structured a very different post to showcase my new Cobb cards: (Via The Daily Fungo's twitter.)
On this date in 1951, Ty Cobb testifies in front of Congress denying the reserve clause makes 'peons' out of baseball players.
Oh well...

When I was on vacation with my family a few weeks ago, I asked my dad during the Home Run Derby: "Do you think that Miguel Cabrera is the greatest hitter of your lifetime?" I expected a little bit of hesitation from a man who grew up idolizing Al Kaline--Mr. Tiger himself--and saw the majority of his Hall of Fame Career first-hand.

"I'd say without question. Cabrera is absolutely unbelievable."

However, I deliberately avoided asking whether Cabrera was the greatest Tigers hitter of All-Time. There's one guy who pre-dates us all, and by most statistical measures is not only the greatest Tigers hitter of all time, but arguably the greatest hitter of all time, period.

2010 Topps #GC13 Ty Cobb

In Topps Series 1, Target released a set of "red back mini" inserts that included Ty Cobb. I was insulted. Cobb's "result" on the card was a Fly Out. Lame. Ty Cobb does not make outs. This one is much better:
2010 Topps (WM Blue Back Inserts) #23 Ty Cobb

Ty Cobb has a career batting average of .366. He has nearly 2,000 RBIs despite hitting "only" 119 Home Runs (although he led the league in 1909 with nine, which is what you get for playing in parks that are 500 ft to center field etc.) Ty Cobb was great. Really great. He was elected into the Hall of Fame's first class with 222 out of a possible 226 votes. That's more votes than Babe Ruth (same class). I like to tell myself that, among people who actually saw the two play, Ty Cobb was considered to be a better player than Babe Ruth. I don't know if that's true. Still, for someone to get that high of a percentage--despite being a notoriously sour person, and a racist, and a generally deplorable human being--is incredible. Barry Bonds, a valedictorian of interpersonal relations by comparison, can only dream of the same level of support.

But, Cabrera. The average, and the power. The eye. His ability to do what he does with two strikes, so often. Ty Cobb he is not--there will never be another one--but could we, one day, talk about Miguel Cabrera (still a ripe 27 years old) as the greatest hitter of his era? Of our lifetime? More?

Both of those Cobb cards are recent additions to my 2010 Topps collection. In recent years Topps has gone overboard with Cobb, but as long as they can continue making different, nice cards--the gold refractor is beautiful and the Blue Back is a mini--I guess I'm OK with it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Johnny with a JH, Jhonny

You may have heard that the Tigers just acquired veteran Cleveland 3B/SS Jhonny Peralta for minor league pitcher Geovanni Soto.


You may also have heard that move fall flat as the heads of Tigers fans collectively hit their hands or desks when the news was announced. Per a tweet by former Bless You Boys head-man Ian Casslebury (@iancass):
Jhonny Peralta to the #Tigers (via @mlbnetwork)? Can I make a "yuck" face on Twitter?
I understand the sentiment. He's a .264 career hitter, batting only .246 this year and mired in a slump that includes all of one hit in the last seven days. Ladies and gentlemen, your savior:
Three times Peralta has hit more than 20 homers in a season. But last year he managed only 11, while batting .254, his lowest average since his rookie year in 2003.
That from an article entitled "Jhonny Peralta comes to rescue banged up Tigers."

The thing is, I actually like the move, and I'm not alone. Take it away Jimmy:
“This guy’s a professional hitter,” Leyland said. “He can knock in some runs. We’re taking a shot, but we need to get more veterans in here. We’re taking a shot really.”
Let's take a moment to look at last night's lineup, shall we? Jhonny Peralta instantly becomes the Tigers' FOURTH best hitter in last night's lineup, ahead of Worth, Sizemore, Larish, Raburn, Avila and Rhymes. And Jhonny is having the worst year of his career. The takeaway, I think, is this:
Here's why Peralta is good: he's not Sizemore, Worth or Rhymes. Net positive. Can't be the #tigers only move now though. Just a piece.
That's me on the twitters before the game yesterday. It only rings more true after watching the Tigers fail to execute, again. A league average hitter is a tremendous step forward for this team, especially one that has a history of being an above average player with power.

What's more, this series against the Rays has forced me to reevaluate my thinking of the Tigers' season. A few days ago I said that they were done, and that their best move was to accept their fate, trade Johnny Damon and prepare for next year. How wrong I was. The Tigers--with Johnny Damon--have looked embarrassingly awful during this losing streak. To lose Damon would be such a tremendous blow to this team, that it would crush the players left for dead on the roster and crush the fans who, at a minimum, want to see decent baseball.

Also, trading Damon may not be a smart move anyway. As of July 13, Johnny Damon was projected to be a Type A free agent, although he is right on the cusp. After being treated first-hand to the best of the best of the Tigers' farm system, I can thing of no better scenario for the Tigers than offering him arbitration at the end of the season and either 1) Getting Damon back in 2011 or 2) Getting 2 draft picks for him. Either one is likely more valuable than what he could bring in a trade at this point.

Which brings me back to Jhonny. Offensive upgrade immediately? Yes. Potential to stay in the lineup and remain as an upgrade when Brandon Inge returns? Yes. (SS is an option, he could platoon or DH if he does well). But make no mistake, Jhonny Peralta does not make the Tigers a playoff team. If anything, he keeps the Tigers from sliding further, and keeps the team competitive (and fans coming to the ballpark) later into the season. It also gives the message to the team: We're trying. Dave Dombrowski says as much:
"I was trying to do something to help our ballclub and do something to stay in this," Dombrowski said. "We think this helps our ballclub with a solid big league player. We've got a lot of young players. Right now it gives us another veteran in our lineup."
It's not enough, but they're trying. It's a first step. A Piece. Now, if they can find another piece to fit in there, we might actually have something. In the meantime, let's home that Jhonny with a JH can add a little buoyancy to this sinking ship.

Why is the Rays game at 12:10 this afternoon? What ever happened to the 1:05 start? Peralta's flight doesn't even get in until 11--there's no chance he starts today's game. Pinch hit home run, anyone?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tigers Gallery Checklist: 1988 Donruss Baseball's Best

With newer sets, I just pull images however I can get them. However, I'm committed to just posting the older sets that I actually have...for now.

When I opened the package there was a sticky note that said "more to come." This was the junk wax that dayf of Cardboard Junkie was evidently seeking any excuse to unload. My package of junkwax to him was a suitable prompt, it seemed.

The thing was, I didn't have many (hardly any) of those mid-80's cards that Dayf sent. But it was these that really caught my eye. They were Donruss. They were 1988. Surely, I have Donruss Tigers cards from 1988. But these are glossy. And Orange. And I have no idea what they are.

It turns out they they are from "Donruss Baseball's Best," a special factory set collector's edition that you can't just buy anywhere for a dollar. No sir.

1988 was the year after the Tigers were upset by the Twins in the playoffs. We are reminded of the trade that will never die with the first card of the set: #13 Doyle Alexander, who just happened to be singlehandedly responsible for getting those Tigers to the playoffs. The rest of the set is full of all the names that you'll remember from the Tigers if you followed them in the late 80s and early 90s. No Orlando Mercado's or Torey Lovullo's here. These are Baseball's Best:

#13 Doyle Alexander

#35 Darrell Evans

#69 Mike Heath

#91 Mike Henneman

#125 Willie Hernandez

#147 Chet Lemon

#181 Jack Morris

#203 Gary Pettis

#237 Matt Nokes

#259 Frank Tanana

#281 Alan Trammell

#293 Walt Terrell

#315 Lou Whitaker

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Granderson Break

We take a break from this moment of Tigers frustration, to remind our readers of yesterday's news, as yet unreported on this site.

2010 eTopps #37 Curtis Granderson (#/699)

Curtis Granderson is in this week's eTopps offering. That makes his this his third eTopps card (2006, 2007), and his first as a Yankee. Although he has struggled this year, his general likability has delayed the wrath of the Yankee faithful. Three home runs in two days doesn't hurt either. The card will be on sale through Friday via the eTopps website.

Now, we return to our regularly scheduled programming, in which my wildest dreams entail the Tigers hitting sacrifice flies, or maybe, just maybe scoring when there are runners in scoring position and less than two outs.

(Also, I realize that this site has been slim pickings for Granderson content of late. That's because most of it is either a) critical, or b) non-existent, and since this blog is a dictatorship, I'm shielding all of you from Granderson-related negativity. Not really, I just haven't been able to find the good stuff for whatever reason. I'll keep seeking out his cards and posting them up though, and when something important happens, you'll be sure to hear about it.)

Happy Birthday to Max Scherzer!

Scherzer turns 26 today, which is excellent, because I thought that he was a little older than that. See? Things are looking up.

He nearly celebrated by tossing a no-hitter on his Birthday eve, although his bid was broken up by a Grand Slam in the 6th yesterday. Which leads me to yesterday's crazy factoid of the night:

Yesterday Max Scherzer and the Tigers faced the Rays. Max Scherzer was traded to the Tigers for Edwin Jackson. Edwin Jackson threw a no hitter against the Rays last month. Jackson was previously traded from the Rays to the Tigers for Matt Joyce. Joyce hit the home run that broke up Scherzer's no-hitter last night. Matt Garza proceeded to no-hit the Tigers.

I'm pretty sure that this means that the Tigers somehow managed to throw a no-hitter, break up a no hitter and have one broken up all at the same time. The cat is both dead and alive.

No, I don't have the A&G Autographed Boxtopper above, but it is so cool and I want it so bad, that it definitely seemed worth showing.

Or not.

I figured that yesterday would be an opportune time to post this card:
2008 Bowman #BP108 Will Rhymes

It's a 2008 Bowman rookie card of new Tiger Will Rhymes, who was called up to the team on Sunday to make his major league debut. As my luck would have it, a package of cards from Play at the Plate arrived yesterday, and this card was fortuitously included in the package. A good omen, I told myself. I thought that I would post it up to celebrate Rhymes' first major league hit, which had a reasonable chance of happening on Monday.

Or not.

This Tigers were no-hit for the 13th time in franchise history Monday, although the first time since Randy Johnson did it to them way back in 1990. You might hear a number of Tigers folks playing down what Garza did yesterday. The Tigers threw a glorified AAA roster out there and were rewarded in infamy. One: that's not Garza's fault. Two: it's really not less impressive considering that he still had 4/9 of a legitimate major league lineup to contend with. Granted, it is made much easier.

I think that this will be my last woah-is-me Tigers fan post for a while. There are a lot of cards on my desk waiting to be catalogued and written about. The National begins tomorrow right here in Baltimore. The temperatures are back into the 80s. The sun is shining.

I'm not conceding the season. I'm not giving up. I love watching the Tigers, root for them ardently, and feel pained when they lose. But it is defense mechanism time for me. The last few sports seasons have been consecutive marathons of pain, and I'm only in shape for a 10k (this is a truer statement than you know). I'll keep tuning in though, for these two reason if nothing else:

Miguel Cabrera makes baseball worth watching. He will fight and scratch for the Triple Crown even with a decimated supporting cast. He should win the Tigers' first MVP since Guillermo Hernandez, and, barring the improbable, the time that a Tiger has won the MVP in a non-World Series year since 1937 (Charlie Gehringer).

Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch will continue to battle head to head for Rookie of the Year. One of them should win it. Their success portends the success of the Tigers in 2011 and subsequent seasons. It's easy to forget how young the team is. Cabrera is 27. Verlander too. Scherzer just turned 26 today (!--thanks wikipedia, note to self, create happy birthday post this afternoon). Jackson, Porcello and Boesch are all under 25. There are a half dozen other rookies getting some big league reps. One or more may pan out. It's like all the benefits of a rebuilding year without suffering the absolutely horrid performance that those years usually require (I'm looking at you, Orioles). Sure, it's bad, but it's not all bad.

Baseball can still be fun to watch, I promise.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Game, Set, Match

This is what I get for going out for an evening. I passively followed the Tigers score, passively retweeted that Magglio had hurt his ankle ("Oh Hell..."), passively checked in to see the Tigers lose 3-2. It wasn't until we got to our last stop of the night that I got filled in on the details courtesy of a bar TV showing the day's highlights.

Oh hell.

I wanted so badly for Rick Porcello to pitch a good game leading to a Tigers win. Then I could have shown off this and gone to bed with a smile on my face.
2010 Allen & Ginter #AGA-RP Rick Porcello
Was that too much to ask? Was I being greedy, enjoying this Tigers mini-win streak? Looking forward to heading down to Camden Yards this afternoon to root as hard as I could against the rival Twins, all because I know every little bit counts in a season that could go down to the wire again?

But no. On the one night in I don't know how long that I go out for the evening, Detroit's baseball world comes crashing down. Perhaps I should consider myself lucky, as someone who was spared the real-time pain and diagnostic uncertainty and apprehension. On the other hand, when I got all of the information it hit me harder than a fastball to the wrist (Too soon?)

It would take the miracle of miracles for the Tigers to recover from this. Maggs has a fractured ankle and is out 6-8 weeks. Guillen strained a calf and hit the DL too. Their replacements are Jeff Larish and Will Rhymes. Replacement level indeed. I've got to believe that more roster changes are coming, but with today's freaking doubleheader the Tigers are so short on players that they need more infielders more than they need more outfielders. They can come up with more permanent solutions later. That's the nature of the beast.

In the last week, the Tigers have seen three of their starters hit the DL, two for an extended period of time. If, somehow, they are able to continue to contend for the AL Central, it would be a story worthy of hollywood. I mean, it can't happen. Ugh. I'm not saying it can't happen, but you know what I mean. It can't. ARGH.

So I'm just going to say what we're all thinking. The Tigers are finished. Oh hell.

From Here On Out
So what are they going to do about it? First of all, for a team that already had some holes to fill to stay in it, they now of two more. Another infielder is needed--the Tigers are down to having Miguel Cabrera as their ONLY remaining Opening Day starter in the infield. (No, Scott Sizemore's return doesn't count, jerks). The outfield hole is less glaring--there are some appealing minor league options, among which Jeff Larish is not really one--but the impact is even greater considering the huge drop-off expected between Magglio's stellar 2010 play and Minor League Player X's foray into the major leagues.

Dave Dombrowski must feel like Mr. Burns:
"Unless, of course, my nine all-stars fall victim to nine separate misfortunes and are unable to play tomorrow. But that will never happen. Three misfortunes, that's possible. Seven misfortunates, there's an outside chance. But nine misfortunes? I'd like to see that!"

The Tigers didn't have nine All stars to begin with. They had four: Inge, Ordonez, Guillen and Cabrera (ok five, Damon). So unless Miguel Cabrera goes out and hits 9 home runs today, the Tigers are going to lose to Shelbyville, if you catch my drift. Does Jeff Larish have a hand-hewn Wonderbat we don't know about?

In the current state of things, the Tigers are not contenders and should treat their situation as such. That means no Haren, who would have required giving up Andy Oliver AND Justin Jurner. No Lilly, no Bautista or Lowell or whoever. There's not enough to make up for what the Tigers need, and the cost is way too high.
(interesting Update: Dombrowski says no top prospects for "two month rentals", but are also interested in Mike Lowell?)

Which makes me wonder, are the Tigers willing to make the next, very painful, step that signifies the end of their contending ways in 2010? They need to trade Johnny Damon.

We all know it. We also know that it will further decimate a team that has no good options for replacement. We know that it will further hang Miguel Cabrera out to dry as he futilely tries to go after the Triple Crown minus Ordonez in front of him. But come on, Damon is signed to a one-year contract and is having a good season as a potential impact player for a team looking to make a push. He can DH or play outfield. If the Tigers can get any value in return then they should do it.

I also tweeted that they should consider trading Bonderman as well. Same scenario--contract year, potential impact player--but he is less reliable than Damon and would command less in a trade. It may also really alienate us poor fans who are hanging on by a thread. It's worth thinking about though. They can always wink, wink, nod, nod to Bondo that they want to resign him in free agency at the end of the season. Would that be so bad?

Make no mistake. The Tigers are sellers. They should sell while they can.

The not-so-distant future
More important in all of this is what happens in the future. With Ordonez out 6-8 weeks, he will not get enough plate appearances for his Option to automatically vest. Listen, I like Ordonez. I named my cat after him. And he has played excellent baseball this year and I was OK with the prospect of him coming back next year for a swan song, even if his stats were diminished slightly. But he's not worth $15 in 2011. Even if you want him on your team more than anybody in the world, he's not, and everybody knows it.

With that said, the Tigers now have an extra $15M to spend. In fact, add it all up and the Tigers will have more than $60M coming off the books next year. What they will need to do is replace, either internally or via free agency, Ordonez, Bonderman and Inge, not to mention solidify the other holes that haunt the team.

Internal options seem somewhat sparse. At least, too uncertain to rely on three more rookies to make an impact next year. Honestly, I'd like to see all three of those players retained on short term deals, but at something like 50% of their current salary, which would approach more of a fair market value. Damon's a one and done, which is why I'd like to see the Tigers get a little bit of return on him.

Beyond that, with cash in hand I think they need to make a free agency splash. To me, Ted Lilly has the opportunity to be a Kenny Rogers-type veteran for the team, and could be a solid lefty to fill out a rotation that is very uncertain in spots #4 and 5. Honestly, with a relative abundance of minor league outfielders, those positions are not as important, but I've been saying for two years that I'd love to see Carl Crawford in the Old English D. The Tigers would have the money to make that happen. There's not much of a SS crop--which is really the Tigers' biggest need--beyond Jose Reyes, and you wonder whether he's worth the price given his injury history.

I guess what I'm saying is this: The Tigers are toast this year. They have big, gaping holes next year. But with Ordonez's unfortunate break, they have a little more financial flexibility to plug them, and that, sadly, is a good thing. Ship off Damon for a decent prospect or two--can I get some bullpen help?--and we might have something.

In the meantime
We are stuck with things like Today's lineup:

1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Ramon Santiago, 2B
3. Ryan Raburn, LF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. Brennan Boesch, RF
6. Scott Sizemore, 3B
7. Jeff Larish, DH
8. Gerald Laird, C
9. Danny Worth, SS

That's five rookies, a Superstar, two career bench players and someone still hitting below the mendoza line. And there's a doubleheader today.

Oh hell.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Who's Going To The National?

The Countdown clock is ticking down and I think that it is only appropriate to ask a couple questions:

Is anybody going to the National in Baltimore?
Is anybody interested in a blogger meet-up/happy hour?

You see, I live in Baltimore. I know the ins and the outs and the good places and so forth. For the rest of you weary travelers, I provide a needed respite from the hustle and bustle of card shows and trip planning. At some point, you're going to just need to hang out and have a beer. I hear you.

If you're coming into town, you've probably got a good idea of what your agenda is looking like. In to town on X, go to the show, catch and O's game, more show, etc. Hey, I don't know what your plans are, give me a break.

So is anyone up for this? I'm thinking Friday or Saturday would work best because that's when the most people would be here, but I could be wrong. Like I said I live here (Literally. I live in the City so planning/coordinating something would be a breeze). If you'd be interested leave a comment or or send me an email with your plans and I'll use this site (and my new Twitter account) as an open forum to make something happen if there's enough interest.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

That's Two Thus Far

Two wins makes it official. A winning streak. This time (like most times) there hero was Miguel Cabrera. Odd then, that just like the Scherzer autograph that I got the other day, that I got this Miguel Cabrera card today.

2009 Allen & Ginter #AGA-MC Miguel Cabrera

First, I'd just like to say that I'm pretty sure that this is the best card that I own. In fact, I'm pretty sure that its not even close. This is from the 2009 Ginter set and was originally released as a redemption, of which only 49 copies were made. A fortunate mis-listing of sorts that used "Autograph" but not "Auto" led it to sell for approximately 40% less than the majority of other sales of this card that I've seen. I call that a bargain.

So this seems to be the pattern: I get an autographed card in the mail and the Tigers win with said card's subject playing the hero. Well, I've got good news and bad news. The good news is that I just got a ton of cards in the mail--maybe even enough for a 4 or 5 game win streak. The bad news is that after that, there will be bupkis. I like to think that perhaps the autographed cards will just start showing up, or that maybe, somehow, old timers can fit into this pattern. I mean, Al Kaline can still factor into a game these days, right?

Former Tigers Manager Ralph Houk Dies at Age 90

Update: A beautiful post on what Houk meant to the Tigers from Bless You Boys. A must-read.

The hits just keep on coming for the Yankees. After the deaths of Announcer Bob Sheppard and Boss George Steinbrenner, former manager--and general manager--Ralph Houk has passed away. It just so happens, that Houk was a manager for the Tigers as well, which is why you're reading about it here. From the NY Times:
In January 1973, a syndicate headed by Steinbrenner bought the team. Under CBS, Houk had a free hand on the field while Lee MacPhail handled the front-office duties.

Houk quit on the final day of the 1973 season as the Yanks finished fourth in the Eastern Division. He said that he had not accomplished what he hoped for, and “I blame no one but myself.”

Houk managed for five years in Detroit, never finishing higher than fourth place, then retired to his Florida home.
There's a quaint piece of symmetry there, isn't there? What with the Steinbrenner connection and all? Anyway, Houk became the Tigers manager in 1974 after 13 seasons with the Yankees, leading to one of the most absurdly awful baseball cards I've ever seen:

How's that "D" on your hat working out for you Ralph? And nice pinstriped pajamas.

RIP to Ralph Houk and his 363-443 record with the Tigers from 1974-78. May your legacy be remembered for better things than that horrible 1974 Topps card.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The First Step...

...towards restoring the faith.
2010 Allen & Ginter #AGA-MS Max Scherzer

Nicely done Max.

This card just came in the mail yesterday, which worked out nicely. These 2010 framed autographs are simply incredible looking--by far the best that Allen & Ginter has ever done.

Tigers Gallery Checklist: 2010 Disabled American Veterans (DAV)

Has it been a year already? Last season I kicked off this feature--creating thumbnail galleries for Detroit Tigers team sets--with the 2009 Disabled American Veterans release. Well, they're back. I'd like to sincerely thank Stephen Burkett for reaching out to me and sending these cards unsolicited. I learned from the return address on his package, that he's behind ABS Sketch Cards, which you'll often see floating around on eBay. Heck, you can even contact him to commission a sketch card of any player you want! Thanks again Steve.

As for these cards, I'm very impressed (again) with what DAV has put together. In particular, they beat Topps to the punch on player selection with Avila, Kelly, Raburn and Coke--none of whom have 2010 Topps cards (yet). The design is like a non-chromey 2010 Finest and looks very nice. As an "oddball" set, these fit right into what I love about collecting, and given that they make them for many MLB and MiLB teams, are worth looking into for your own collection.

Base Set Simple and sweet. Cards with no parallels or inserts, just like the good ol' days:

#24 Alex Avila

#25 Austin Jackson

#26 Don Kelly

#27 Gates Brown

#28 Willie Horton

#29 Joel Zumaya

#30 Mario Impemba

#31 Phil Coke

#32 Rick Porcello

#33 Ryan Perry

#34 Ryan Raburn

The Grand Scheme Reaches The Fifth Stage

What a week it has been. Before the All Star break the Tigers were hot. We convinced ourselves that they were contenders. "The AL Central is weak", we said. "Cabrera is unstoppable," we attested. "Basho!" some of us screamed.

It was July 10th and the Tigers were in first place.

Cleveland? Cleveland?? I don't even know who plays for Cleveland! Seriously. I was watching the Tigers play the Indians in the first series after the All Star break and remarked that Cleveland may be the blandest, least memorable team in the major leagues. three players on the Indians. Go!

Let me guess, you said Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore (who is out for the season) and Shin Soo Choo (also hurt). Or maybe Jake Westbrook. If you're a fantasy guy you might have pulled out Matt LaPorta. Do you know who you didn't say? All of the nondescript white guys that dominate their roster. Or should I say, all the nondescript white guys that dominated our roster.

Cleveland swept the Tigers over 4 games in three days. There was anger. We even needed to be warned.

But lo! All is not lost. Perhaps there are ways to turn this ship around. Hardball talk says Relief Pitching would cure what ails us. Visions of Dan Haren and John Buck dance in our heads.

The pessimist Lynn Henning says that the Tigers should sell at the trade deadline and a collective dislike of Henning by the Tigers fanbase solidifies us in our convictions: We can do this. We can turn this around.

I was halfway towards writing a piece called "the value of Johnny Damon" on Monday afternoon after reading this article. Damon, the veteran presence. The proven winner. Hope?
"We needed to talk," Damon said. "We got (the message). No one is mad at anyone. We got our butts kicked this series. We know that. We know we have to be better."


"We're OK. We're disappointed. But we're still in this thing."
Preach it Johnny!

On the fourth batter of the 13th inning of the 91st game of the season, Brennan Boesch hit a bloop single to right field with runners on 1st and 2nd. Then Nelson Cruz did this. Johnny Damon, the expert baserunner, the veteran leader, the champion, was fooled. He didn't score on what should have been the game winning single.

But the bases were still loaded with only one out and Carlos Guillen at the plate. One run to snap this losing streak. To get on the right path. That's what winning teams do, isn't it? Come through when it matters? Cover for their teammates? Erase their mistakes.

Carlos Guillen grounded into an inning-ending double play. Cruz hit a game-winning home run in the Top of the 14th.

Just fucking kill me now.

What did we really expect though? This is a team that, up until the current losing streak at least, had vastly exceeded expectations, despite facing tremendous adversity including:
  • Two rookies started on opening day: one needed to be demoted for ineffectiveness
  • Dropped the starting SS
  • Dropped a starting Pitcher (Willis) and Demoted/Recalled Three others (Scherzer, Porcello, Galarraga)
  • Lost Zach Miner, Bobby Seay and Joel Zumaya to season-ending injuries
  • Thirteen rookies have played, eight making their major league debut.
  • A starting catcher hitting below the Mendoza line

I'm sure any other Tigers fan can list 3-4 more reasons why this team shouldn't have been successful but was anyway. It fostered a sense of hope, of an ability to overcome. But it was a false hope.

On Monday, we could add another bullet point to the list.
  • Brandon Inge out 4-6 weeks with a broken hand
Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the era of the replacement-level player. With all the other problems this team has had, we now need to absorb 4-6 weeks of a Don Kelly/Ryan Raburn/Misc. minor league player platoon. That doesn't bode well.

So hell, I guess that's it. I'm not throwing in the towel, per se, but I'm accepting fate. Maybe it's a seven-game losing streak talking, but for the Tigers to pull out of this tailspin, with a brutal 2nd half schedule still ahead of them and so little in the way of consistent 1. Starting Pitching 2. Hitting and 3. Relief Pitching, I just don't see it. I'm not happy about it, and I'll continue to watch and root and hope, but it is acceptance time. This is not a playoff team.

But man, we're a stubborn breed, aren't we? I mean, the White Sox and Twins don't look like Playoff teams either, although their holes are less substantial and numerous. Still I'm compelled to channel Bob Wojnowski
Still in it

Being awful for a week raises red flags, no doubt, but not a white flag. The eyes may lie, but the standings don't. Of course, their two-and-a-half-game deficit might as well be 12-and-a-half if they pitch like they have since the All-Star break, as Jeremy Bonderman struggled in this one.

That's nudging the Tigers toward a major dilemma. Minor wounds are becoming larger, especially in their starting rotation. But the division is there for the stealing again, so do you respond to short-term temptation, giving up young players in a trade, or ride it out and be prudent about the future?
If they stop the tailspin like, now, they can still make a move and get back in it. In theory. But there are only 10 days left to do so. Otherwise, things start to get awfully interesting. Seems to me as though Johnny Damon is a nice looking trade chip. Could Magglio solve the issues of a team seeking a bat, or is his 2011 contract too much of a disincentive?

The Tigers probably need to become sellers, but do they really have anyone to sell? The pitching is a disaster, and the only people hitting are your respective franchise cornerstone (Cabrera), future (Jackson, Boesch) or your aforementioned, old, highly paid guys. The bullpen doesn't have anyone to spare either, assuming you want to keep the invincible Jose Valverde around for next year--when you might actually be able to compete.

I've accepted the fate of the season. It's a rebuilding year. Lord knows, I've seen my share of them in my short lifetime, in baseball and beyond. And that's OK. I get it. It's fine. There's always next year. Etc.

For someone who has gone through all stages of grief in the span of a week, that's as deep as my acceptance can go right now.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Zach Putnam One Step Closer: Promoted to AAA Columbus

Is it ironic that I take pleasure today in a bit of Indians-related news less than 24 hours after the parent franchise walked all over my beloved Tigers?

From the hard news stalwart Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, I learned this morning that, indeed, Zach Putnam has been called up to AAA.
Right-handers Zach Putnam and Rob Bryson moved one step closer to the big leagues Sunday.

Putnam, a fifth-round draft choice in 2008, was promoted to Columbus after going 4-1 with a 3.86 ERA and three saves in 20 games (seven starts) for Akron.

This comes only two days after my barber back in Ann Arbor told me that Putnam had been promoted (despite the fact that I couldn't corroborate the story anywhere), and has led me to believe one of two things: Either my barber is prone to hyperbole, talking up the status of his own clientele or is prescient. I'll believe the latter, thank you very much. I guess there's a third option too, that the call up happened, but not officially given the formalities of roster moves, and that a Michigan barber in a rival state picked up the news before local Ohio papers. You know, seeing as how he probably cuts Putnam's dad's hair too that might actually be the case. Hmm.

Anyway, this is great news for Zach Putnam, who has had a pretty good season between the starting rotation and the bullpen (in the closer's role) and is clearly the beneficiary of a Cleveland Indians franchise that is looking to give its young talent all the chances in the world--especially the pitchers. If he can perform at AAA, a promotion to the show may be possible this season--something that seemed remote as little as a month ago.

It is worth noting that in his last five appearances, Zach has a 0.00 ERA and has allowed only 2 hits and 1 walk along with 12 strikeouts in 6 innings (all as a reliever). He has earned a win and a save during that time.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Crash and Burn

So, I'm back in town. I've been working on a post that was topical a couple days ago and now slightly less so, and certainly won't be diminished by waiting another day. In the meantime, I'm so disgusted by how the Tigers embarrassed themselves over the last four games that I'm questioning whether there is anything worth writing about at all that won't devolve into a rage-y diatribe.

There aren't enough CAPITAL LETTERS in the world.

So in the meantime, read Old English D, because she always captures the mood better than anyone else out there, and somehow is able to do so without smashing her computer against the wall. I don't have that same faith in myself right now.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Brennan Boesch Is Red Hot Rookie #3!


2010 Topps Red Hot Rookie #3 Brennan Boesch

Topps announced today that Brennan Boesch is #3 in their 2010 Red Hot Rookie Redemption program. This marks the first time that a Tiger has been included in this redemption set since its inception in 2008, despite the emergence of premier rookies like Armando Galarraga, Rick Porcello and Ryan Perry during those years.

No matter, for now all is redeemed (no pun intended). Boesch has been the biggest surprise in baseball this year and has been a force to be reckoned with all season. Yet his absence from all baseball card releases (except for 2010 etopps) thus far has been conspicuous, to say the least. Hopefully, this card ushers in an inclusion of Basho in subsequent releases this year.

Many thanks for the veritable Topps blogger JayBee for bringing this to my attention. This is one Tigers fan who certainly welcomes this great announcement.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cabrera To Start The All Star Game

Justin Morneau is sitting out of this week's All Star festivities after suffering a concussion and Joe Giardi snubbed Kevin Youkilis and chose Paul Konerko as his replacement.

Of course, the important take away from all of this is that which just became official: Miguel Cabrera will be starting the All Star game. Tigers have been major factors in recent All Star games. Last year Curtis Granderson hit a late-game Triple that led to the winning run. The year before Carlos Guillen hit an extra-inning double that just missed being a home run, although he was ultimately stranded and didn't score. My guess is that Miguel Cabrera is going to have an impact as well. He has been a force all season and deserves the starting nod which, by the way, is the first start that he's had in an All Star game, and his first appearance as a Tiger.

With 76 RBIs before the break, he has the most RBI's by a Tiger at this point in the season since Cecil Fielder had 77 in 1993. Oh, and he still had today to break that. He leads the major leagues in Batting Average (.346) and RBIs (76) and is 2nd in Home Runs (22). An AL Lineup that has some sort of Cabrera, Hamilton, Vlad combination in the order seems pretty near unstoppable, Ubaldo be damned. And add Cano into that mix? Forget about it.

As always, I'm excited for the All Star game, but with this little bit of good news today, I feel it all the more so. Cabrera deserves the recognition that has escaped him as the Tigers' best player for the last three years. Now, with the starting nod, he'll have the chance to do the team proud, and there's little doubt in my mind that he will.

In other news
  • Brennan Boesch missed the cut by 1 Plate Appearance yesterday. If he plays today (no reason to think he won't) then he'll be among the league leaders by day's end. He's currently hitting .343.
  • Cabrera is still in the Home Run Derby, which is always a good time.
  • With Mariano Rivera sitting out, don't be surprised if the dominant Jose Valverde is the game's closer. I love the prospect of two Tigers having major roles in the All Star game. I grew up with being forced to suffer Robert Fick and Damian Easley and the like as token ASG representatives. It's so nice to have players that actually belong.
  • Is anyone else a little bummed that the break is coming just as the Tigers are on an absolute tear?

Here's hoping for a sweep of the Twins today and then enjoy the festivities this week!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Boesch On The Brink

If my calculations are correct, a game in which Brennan Boesch has 5 plate appearances today should push him over the edge into league-leader qualification territory. With 259 PA's so far, he'll need 263.5 by the end of today's 85th game of the year.

So there you go. If I had a twitter account, this is something that I would post on it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

On The Road Again

Hey folks, I'm about to head out of town for a bit and I wanted to let you know that posts will be sporadic, at best. A few notes:

  • Contest cards have been shipped to people who sent me their addresses with three exceptions: one to Canada and two that were too big for the envelopes I had left. They'll be in the post as soon as I get back, I promise.
  • The Tigers are in first place at the half-way point...somehow. Rosenberg struggles to explain it and Henning proffers suggestions for what improvements the team will make.
  • The All-Star game is next week. Expect Miguel Cabrera to come up big--in both the game and the Home Run Derby
  • The Tigers start a crucial series against the reeling Twins tonight. The division is looking more and more like it will be a three-team race down to the wire.

Everybody enjoy your weekends--I'll be basking in the non-100 degree heat of Northern Michigan--and enjoy the All Star Break!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Grand Scheme Has A Fever

And the only prescription...
Nope, sorry. Not going down that road folks. The news of a fever came out 90 minutes before yesterday's game. The stricken was none other than Miguel Cabrera, who just transferred the excess heat in his body to his bat and went freaking nuts yesterday: 3-5 with a Triple and, oh, a game-tying 2-run home run in the bottom of the 9th. This comes on the heels of a kidney infection that hit him last friday, although "There isn’t any indication that his fever today is related to the kidney infection," which is good.

The concern for me is that the two are in fact related, or that the back-to-back nature of them is indicative of a low-lying illness that could fatigue the white-hot Cabrera down the stretch. The last thing we need is an illness plus extraneous strenuous activity, like, say, trying to hit home runs 700 feet in an exhibition. Well, no worries there:
He explained why he’d skip the Home Run Derby if he didn’t think he was strong enough to participate.

“In the Home Run Derby, it’s going to be easy to get tired,” Cabrera said. “You swing hard.”
So, if he's not feeling well, he's out. Please go ahead and get your doctor's note now.

On the Home Run Derby
I am really, really conflicted about the Home Run Derby. For one, I love it. It is fun to watch (for the first round at least) and was an absolute thrill to attend (at Comerica Park in 2005). In that particular year, then-Tiger Ivan Rodriguez thrilled hometown fans by blasting 20 home runs and finishing as runner up. This was also the year that Bobby Abreu hit home runs to parts of Comerica Park that don't even know what a baseball looks like. It was the perfect storm of exhibitions showmanship (Abreu, Josh Hamilton in 2008) and unabashed homerism and it was a lot of fun.

But now it's 2010 and Miguel Cabrera is in the derby and I'm not on board. Here's why:
  • Illness and injury: he's had minor things so far this year. They do not need to be exacerbated
  • Tigers' history: from the same free press article, the Tigers' recent home run derby history is abysmal. Inge had 0 last year. Ordonez 2 in 2007. In fact, Pudge Rodriguez aside, no Tiger has had more than 4(!) in the derby (Cecil Fielder did it twice in 1991 and 1993). It's embarrassing.
  • Why mess with a good thing? Ask Josh Hamilton. Or Vlad. Or Ken Griffey Jr:
    "Everything that you were taught not to do you have to do in the home run contest," says Griffey, who won the Derby in 1999 in Boston. "It's either a home run or nothing. You try to forget that swing when the season starts (again), but there's not a lot of time. Bad mechanics can hang around a long time."
    Granted, ESPN ran a pretty good article last year that debunks that rumour, but I prefer to quote Hamilton. "Why mess with a good thing?" With the season Cabrera is having? I wouldn't.

Still, Cabrera has partcipated in the Derby before (2006) did well and showed no ill effects. And he wants to win it. And he's awesome. So I guess those are all points towards wanting to see him in it. I guess it all just makes me uneasy. If I could get some sort of cosmic guarantee that says Cabrera can participate and then return to the regular season and continue performing at the same level that would be great. Because I think everyone would rather have a triple crown season an MVP and a playoff run than a trophy presented by state farm.

All Star Notes
In case this wasn't implied, Miguel Cabrera made the all star team. So did closer Jose Valverde who still doesn't have a baseball card as a Tiger despite the fact that there have been a half dozen card releases this year, including two series of Topps and had a 0.38 ERA as of last week (which ballooned to 1.00 after Tuesday's game against the O's). No other Tigers made the team, although there is some argument to be made for Magglio Ordonez, Justin Verlander and Brennan Boesch. Personally, I don't feel as though any of them were robbed of a spot (the way Cabrera was last year), so I'll let my personal biases pass for the time being.

HOWEVER, I think Brennan Boesch should have been included on the final ballot. Apparently his stats have been displayed ad nauseum to make this case, to which many Tiger fans have said "enough, we get it" so I'll let it be. He's got to be your odds-on rookie of the year favorite right now though, right?

I also share the feeling that Cabrera should be starting in the game. He's currently leading the major leagues in all three triple crown categories. Do I even need to say more than that? That's what Jim Leyland is for: (HT Hardball Talk
It's not a good system, if you want to know the truth. But you get run out of baseball when you say that. I'll be getting booed everywhere I go. In reality, they're making a big deal about the game meaning something now and that the starters should play at least five or six innings. Well, I managed a couple All-Star games where guys I had sitting on the bench were better than the guy that started. So, to me they can throw that theory totally out the window.

Question his managerial tactics all you want, but there's no manager I'd rather have talking to the press and running the clubhouse.

Damon a Hall of Famer?
As I was driving to work this morning Peter Gammons was on the Ed Norris show, and they asked the question: given Damon's 2500th hit last night, his age (36) and career durability, it is not outside of the realm of reason that he will reach 3000 hits. If he does, is he a Hall of Famer? The co-host said no (Ed Norris said yes). My gut said borderline. But Peter Gammons said yes, and definitely if he reaches 3000. Funny enough, Craig Calceterra commented on the same thing this morning, noting Damon's apparent desire to reach that milestone and, ultimately, the hall.

Which got me thinking, Damon has been a very good player for the entirety of his career. If he plays for 2-3 more years, he will have statistics that compare favorably to any number of Hall of Famers. He's also been a crucial part of two championship teams--a point that Gammons thinks is important. He was on two teams that likely would not have won the world series without him. That's a big deal. If he can take the Tigers into the playoffs (and beyond) he could be a lock. You can't underestimate the value of a "gamer" in the eyes of the writers. Tack on statistics that put him in the top 10% of players every year for his entire career and I think there's a strong case to be made.

Roster Notes
Armando Galarraga goes down to AAA as the superfluous 5th starter before the All-Star break. He'll be back up folks, don't worry. In his place, another MLB Debut:
2010 Topps Pro Debut #16 Robbie Weinhardt

Welcome to the show, kid. Bless You Boys and the Detroit Tigers Weblog give you the breakdown.

Misc. Baseball card giveaway is about 50% packed up and will be shipped out tomorrow. My wife get a big thank you for her help and will get another shout out in a later post. Good recap of the Tigers at the halfway point. They're in first...but how? Musical chairs for relievers, Casey Fein was called up, pitched a few innings and went back down to make room for Ryan Perry, for those keeping score. Kirk Gibson was given the interim manager role in Arizona. I'm thrilled for Gibby. So is Jim Leyland. Dontrelle Willis DFA'd again. Agent says he needs "a long break" from the game. Like retirement, perhaps?

Tigers Gallery Checklist: 2010 Topps Allen & Ginter

It's that Allen & Ginter time of year again. Rather than procrastinate and wait until I have images of all the cards to post a gallery--which ultimately leads to galleries being posted weeks/months after their release when nobody cares any more, I thought that I'd actually post a timely gallery this time. It also serves as a checklist, so points for functionality.

A&G is pretty much exactly what you expect it to be, and when you remove all the odd characters and off-beat mini sets and other various wacky elements and boil it down to the team set, you're left with one thing: simple, classy, nice cards. This is the hallmark of Allen & Ginter, and it holds true in the 2010 release as well. With simple design changes from previous years, the set it distinct yet fits in cohesively with other iterations. A mix & match of cards from across the A&G set would not be out of the question, if you were adventurous in your binder-page creation.

The question does remain though: when does A&G lose it's magic? For me, I think that it's already started to happen. Granted, I'm writing this without having any of these cards in-hand yet, but I started to feel this way in 2009, in what I thought was the strongest release design-wise to date. The base cards don't do it for me anymore. I find them too plain.

The minis though are gold. Pure bliss. There is nothing in the card collecting world today that can compare to Allen & Ginter minis, in my opinion. Similarly, the framed autographs stand on their own, with the relics a nice complement. In this though, we need to wonder, can a set sustain itself on parallels and "hits" alone? I mean, ALL the other sets do it, but that's what made Allen & Ginter so unique in the first place. It was supposed to be for the set collector. And I guess it still is, with a checklist that is consistently refreshed with new and interested non-baseball characters. For the team collector though, I think that ship has sailed. The checklist by-team features too few players, too many similar poses, too little aesthetic variety.

But that's ok, as long as I can get my hands on those teeny tiny tobacco era throwbacks. And autograph cards that must induce the most horrifying hand cramps and nearsightedness. And box toppers. And cabinet cards. And more minis. Come to think of it, A&G is still all right with me.

Base Set As opposed to rambling into a review of this (see above), I'll just give you the pictures. There are 10 cards in the base set, including new Tigers Max Scherzer and Johnny Damon and rookie cards of Austin Jackson (wooo!) and the former started 2nd baseman and current minor leaguer Scott Sizemore. Both are Short Printed. WOTS is that another Brent Dlugach RC was on the preliminary checklist but by the mercy of god was removed. Brennan Boesch is nowhere to be seen, in what is, to me, the biggest card disappointment of the year so far. Scans of the full-size cards are here, but you know that I'll show off a mini set of my own as soon as I've got one:

#25 Max Scherzer

#45 Justin Verlander

#93 Brandon Inge

#139 Miguel Cabrera

#197 Johnny Damon

#235 Carlos Guillen

#250 Magglio Ordonez

#256 Rick Porcello

#319 Austin Jackson SP RC

#320 Scott Sizemore SP RC

Mini Exclusives These are some of those things that I love and don't know why. The Extended Mini (EXT) set consists of cards #351-400 and are contained only within Rip Cards, making them extremely hard to find and expensive to collect (Rip Cards are found at a rate of 1 per case). This year there are two Tigers: Rick Porcello and Miguel Cabrera, featuring a different picture of them from their base card. Again, I'm not sure why I like these, but I do. Here are the two extended minis, plus another special treat.

#361 Miguel Cabrera EXT mini

#376 Rick Porcello EXT mini

#PS18 Miguel Cabrera A&G Originals

Yeah, that extra thing is a 1 of 1 "Allen & Ginter Originals" sketch card. It is also only available in Rip Cards and Cabrera's is the only Tiger. It just sold for $380 and looks awesome.

A pat on the back of Jeff Zachowski, the artist.

Inserts I tend to be lukewarm on A&G inserts ever since I saw the old Dick Perez sketches from 2006-2007 that looked horrible. But then 2008 had the players with their home state and 2009 had players with their countries and I was ok with those. This year matches a player's birthday with a historical event that happened on that day. Conceptually, that is an A+. I love the idea. I also like how the cards look, but I feel kind of "meh" towards them. Maybe it's the bad application of a horizontal. I don't know. Anyway, there are three of these in the set:

#TDH14 Justin Verlander

#TDH21 Magglio Ordonez

#TDH45 Miguel Cabrera

Autographs Tigers hit the motherload this year. There are four autographs and they are all gorgeous. Why Ryan Perry has ANOTHER autograph from Topps is beyond me, but when I can round it out with Cabrera, Scherzer and Porcello I won't complain one bit. These look amazing in scans, thanks to the bright frames that get two thumbs way up from me.

#AGA-MC Miguel Cabrera

#AGA-MS Max Scherzer

#AGA-RP Rick Porcello

#AGA-RPE Ryan Perry

Relics One? Hmmm. I'm ok with this, because I tend to think that they're a major overpopulation of relics out there and I'd like to see it cut back drastically. However, there is a huge overpopulation of relics in Allen & Ginter too, and one Tiger means that I have a pretty bad chance of pulling a Tiger as a hit from my box. Double edged swords you know.

#AGR-MCA Miguel Cabrera

Box Toppers For the first time in a some time there are no Tigers featured as part of regular box toppers or cabinet cards. BUT, there are two super-amazing awesome box topper fantasmo cards. Or, officially, an N43 Autograph (Max Scherzer, #/15) and an N43 Autograph/Relic (Miguel Cabrera, #/5). One of the Scherzers already sold, but had a horrible scan that I couldn't grab. I also lost that auction by a dollar, so I'm kind of bitter. I'll keep my eyes peeled for more appearances, though. (Update: Found one!)

#N43BA-MS Max Scherzer (#/15)

#N43BAR-MC Miguel Cabrera (#/5)

Rip Cards Two of these guys also. The only Rip Card that I have is a ripped 2008 Granderson--which I absolutely love. Not sure that the design on these ones is up to the same level, I've seen a lot of non-action poses, for example, but I'd sure love to have one. The Ordonez has surfaced (#/50), while the Verlander is yet to see the light of day. There's some case breaking in my future, so maybe, just maybe one of these will come my way.

#RC32 Justin Verlander

#RC63 Magglio Ordonez (#/50)