Grand Cards: 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hanging Them Up





I remember when I started writing this blog.  I was back in Michigan for Christmas in 2008 and, after a year or so of returning to the world of baseball cards I told my future-wife "I think I'm going to start a blog."

And so I did.  I started up a little blog with a simple post--Grand Cards: A History

For the next two years I diligently chronicled the ups and downs of my collecting, of the Tigers, of baseball cards as a whole and of Curtis Granderson.  I was there when Curtis was traded to the Yankees, prompting a series of four posts called "Apocalypse Now."  I was there when the Tigers had their hearts crushed in Game 163 and when they made the playoffs this year.  I kept up with the times, producing a series of very long, but entertaining to write posts called "The Grand Scheme" in which I surveyed the card/sport landscape.  These were the good times.

This blog was born of a few things.  I was only a year removed from Michigan in 2008 and the Tigers were a strong, fun connection back to my friends and family.  It also happened to be the start (then the middle) of the recession.  I had a full time job, but we didn't have jobs that kept us busy full time.  Similarly, I had all sorts of extra time outside of working hours to fill with blogging.  Combine those with a newfound enthusiasm for collecting and a unshakable admiration for Curtis Granderson (which holds to this day, even in pinstripes), and this became a thing.

Today "Grand Cards" dies.  It's death is the result of the recession (it ending), my return to graduate school, the continuation of a full time job that has gotten obscenely busy, the trade of Curtis Granderson to the Yankees and a general malaise that I have felt the card blogging community over the last two years.  As I write less and read less I notice that others write less too.  Some of my favorites are gone without a trace.  Blogging, as a thing, seems on its way out.  Twitter is in.  My collecting continues, but I just don't feel like talking cards as much any more.

For those of you that have noticed, this is a slow death.  There have been fits and starts over the last year, but the writing was on the wall.  I simply don't have the time or energy to keep it going.

And you know what?  That's fine.  Blogging was something that I did because it was fun.  It was a supplement to my collecting and a way to connect with other collectors on the internet.  I enjoyed it and you all have been great.  But the blog came to oppress me and that, in and of itself, defeated the purpose of having it in the first place.

So, Fin.  And Thank You to everyone who read what I had to say over the years, or traded with me, or commented on my posts, or sent me pictures of cards for my galleries. 

It's been fun.
 



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Card Cameos: The Shadow of the Empire

I understand how it works.  My favorite team, the Detroit Tigers, are a small market team.  This, by virtue of the fact that they are not in New York, or LA, or Philly,  or Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and a handful of others.  This, despite the fact that Detroit is actually the 11th largest media market in the country.  Whatever.  Small market.

And because the Tigers are a small market team, they tend to get some neglect from time to time.  Like this:

The Tigers, Division champs and ALCS participants, have TWO cards in the entire Topps Finest set. Same as Astros, Marlins and O's. WEAK.
16 Oct via web
And yes, I'm sure that the World Series Champions can complain about the same thing.  So could the Rangers.  Or the Rays or all the other playoff teams that aren't from New York, or LA, or Philly...you get my point.

The card industry, like everything else it seems, revolves around "the market."  I hate the market.  I hate that every baseball card product out there feels like a Yankees team set.  Or that I get Brooklyn Dodgers forced down my throat. And the SAWX.  But I get it, I do.  Economics, man.

And as long as we get our pittance we can manage a thankful smile and say "Thank you, gov'nr" in a cockney accent to the Baseball Card Executive personified as a top-hat and monocle wearing fat cat in our heads.  Every now and then they'll throw us an extra nickel in the form of a "Ryan Perry memorial because he'll sign our cards for basically nothing" autograph or a shiny insert or some other special card that you see once in a blue moon for your own team while some Yankees collector flings it in the trash and says "ANOTHER, Mickey Mantle superfractatious atoma-fractor? Enough Already!"  Well I want an atomafractor.

Instead, the empire steals my lunch money.

2011 Topps Update: #US320 Russell Martin f. Brandon Inge

$(*&#)%*!

This is the best Tigers card of the year, bar none.  This may be the best action shot of a Tigers player IN A DECADE or more.  It is vintage Brandon Inge, at full extension, in an extravagant pose, at home, being awesome.  Great, great shot.

And in the background is an almost-blurry Yankee, in the midst of a somewhat ugly slide with his face partially obscured by the shadow of his helmet.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME HOW IS THIS NOT A BRANDON INGE CARD?!?!?

Oh that's right, there's a Yankee on it.  SLAP A YANKEE ON IT BOYS, WE'VE GOT CARDS TO SELL!

Now, some apologist may say, and they wouldn't be wrong, that at the time of design and printing, Brandon Inge had been Designated for Assignment, his days on the Tigers apparently over, and therefore a rational decision was made to use the card for All-Star Russell Martin instead.

This would not be incorrect, and would be justified.  But something tells me that if Topps followed the ins and outs of roster moves that closely they would never have produced, I don't know, this or this or this... I could go on forever if I had the time.  The point is, sure, maybe some uncharacteristically observant employee thought it imprudent to put a player that was essentially cut in an Update set.  "Oh, the criticism we shall receive!"  I'm not going to say that didn't happen.

But I am going to say, that somehow, some way, one of the best Tigers action shots ever placed on a baseball card was taken from us, and surprise, surprise, it just so happens to be the Yankees that took it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

11 Boxes, One low, low price

As I try to gradually get back into the blogging, I'll take easy subjects where I can get them.  Community Gum is hosting an 11 box all-Topps group break, that includes such nice releases as Topps Gallery and Turkey Red, some interesting inclusions like the one that comes with a Guaranteed Autographed Baseball, and some unmistakably awesome things like Topps LASER, which, wow.  If the Tigers weren't the worst team in history in the 90's I would totally salivate over Topps Laser.

Anyway, not only is this break now open, but it is currently $5 cheaper than it was yesterday, and $5 cheaper than it will be tomorrow.  There are also a surprisingly strong selection of teams still available (Red Sox? Seriously?), so get in on it.  After all, if it fills up, they will throw in a 12th box. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Misjudging Customer Demand

Sometimes sitting in an airport, or on an airplane, gives you a chance to just think.  I've been doing a whole lot of sitting in or on one or the other, so I guess this whole "thinking" think was destined to follow.  With a flight delay, I figure why not write about it?  I do have a blog, after all.

Today is a beautiful fall day.  The air is crispish, the skies are clear, long sleeves and jeans are comfortable...and the baseball season is wrapping up.  Game 1 of the World Series was last night.  Game 2 is tonight.  After that, we get to sit back and relax for a month or two, at least until we get that ol' baseball "itch" again.

You see, with a 162 game season, the fans get tired too.  By the time we get to Game 2 of the World Series, 28 of 30 fan bases have checked out.  Sure, they'll tune in, especially the bigger baseball fans in the bunch, but this is no longer a time for baseball fever.  Rather, we're on the cusp of baseball hibernation--the much needed act of post-season baseball recovery.

Whether MLB understands this is inconsequential.  They are in the midst of their crown jewel event and need to do whatever they can to hype the event.  I get that, and, despite the exhaustion I felt after the Tigers were batted out of Texas, a few days has given me a chance to recoup and be moderately interested in the World Series.

But, I think that there is a fundamental misunderstanding about the level of excitement that exists at a national level for baseball at this time of year.  And it's not just baseball--every sport experiences this type of burn-out towards the end.  And most people get it.  Nike isn't going to introduce a new baseball bat right now.  Nobody cares.  Under Armour is saving it's new cleats for the fall.  The apparel companies are packing it in.  The Tigers Pro Shop is having a 50% off playoff merchandise sale this week.

And Topps is cramming a slew of new releases down our throats.

Huh?

That's right.  Topps has essentially decided that the baseball season consists of two parts: the beginning and the end, with nothing in between.  In order to maximize their card sales, they need to capitalize on the excitement in the sport during those truncated parts of the season and then sell, sell, sell.

Let me explain.

Through their contract with Major League Baseball, Topps is allowed to produce 17 card sets per season.  I'll refrain from commenting on whether Topps should produce 17 sets per season, something that seems like far far more than anybody could reasonably care about, especially considering that they are not allowed to create sets of 1) retired players and 2) prospects, but I digress.  17 sets.  That's just around a new card release every 3 weeks (again, that seems like shockingly too many card sets...)

On its face, it doesn't seem to make sense to actually release sets with such a regular timeline--I'd imagine that December and January are pretty slow in the baseball card world, so it makes sense to work off of a 9 or 10 month sales schedule--capitalize on spring training, opening day, the season itself and the playoffs.  After that, exhale.

Yet Topps seems to confuse the basic tenets of 1) baseball fandom and 2) baseball fan demand.  That's where I started with all of this: people are burnt out.  As such, Topps is scaling back for the winner, right?  RIGHT?


September 7th: Topps Chrome  -- Great release time, people are playoff chase hungry and this is a consistently strong set.

September 12th: Topps Marquee -- One week later.  Topps Chrome is already becoming old news.

September 21st: Topps Heritage Minor League -- This somewhat intriguing set got no attention because it was released when nobody cares about minor league baseball and is the third set in three weeks.

September 27th: Topps Triple Threads -- This is a consistently popular high-end set that collectors seem to flock to in droves, especially on the singles market.  This release completely buries Topps Marquee.  Topps Chrome, less than a month from its release, is collecting dust.

October 5th: Topps Update -- Back in the day, they would release this right after the playoffs and include season highlights in here.  Instead, they try to jump on the playoff excitement.  Still, this is an fine release, considering no low-end or set-collector releases have been out in a while.

October 11th: Topps Finest --  ...and you just crushed Update.  Might as well not have been released.  This also gets lost in the Triple Threads singles fury.  Marquee is history.

October 17th: Bowman Chrome -- one of the most popular prospecting sets of the year just killed everything that came before it.

In 6 weeks Topps put out SEVEN products including FIVE sets with a consistently strong following and two sets that didn't have a chance in hell.

The only explanation is that the company has a fundamental misunderstanding of baseball fans and card collectors.  This is too much, too fast.  Nobody has the money for it, nobody has the energy for it and nobody has the appetite for it.  Even famed casebreaker Brent and Becca was a no-go:

Brent Williams
I did not break Finest due to the release being on top of Update this year. Plus thought about BC and doing TC football. Got to pick best 1s
13 Oct
That's right, didn't break what has been a historically major product for Topps because of how they spaced it out.  Of course, cramming all of these releases in made things pretty slow in the baseball collecting world the rest of the summer:

February 2nd: Topps Series 1
March 5th: Topps Opening Day
March 14th: Topps Heritage
April 11th: Topps Tribute
April 25th: Gypsy Queen
April 27th: Topps Attax
May 12th: Bowman
June 1st: Topps Pro Debut
June 6th: Topps Series 2
July 10th: Allen & Ginter
July 26th: Bowman Platinum
August 3rd: Topps Lineage
August 15th: Stickers (!)

Why did Gypsy Queen do so well?  It came 5 weeks after the last major release.  Why did Topps Lineage seem to garner such a (surprisingly) positive response?  People were starving.  They hadn't seen anything new in months.  Bowman Platinum is filler, A&G is what it is, Series 2 and Pro Debut are variations on the base set...Topps Lineage was the first accessible new product since Bowman in May.

Give me a break.

All year people have been bitching and complaining about Topps' Monopoly in the baseball card world.  I've stayed out of the fray, as I generally believe that everything that people have complained about (design, quality, misunderstanding collectors etc.) are things that Topps has done since I got back into collecting in 2007.  But if there is one thing that competition--real competition--could do, it is slap some sense into these folks and get them to release their products in a sensible way.

Meanwhile, I'll site on the sidelines.  If there is one thing a deluge of products is good for, it's picking up my team sets and singles on the cheap.  The more they shovel dirt on old favorites (Chrome, Finest, Update) by stacking up the new releases, the more easily and cheaply I can pick up the cards I actually want.  At some point though, someone is going to realize that collectors have a finite number of dollars to spend, and maybe, just maybe, it doesn't make sense to throw big new products out there week after week.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Finding Joy: A Saga

Let's go for a ride.

I've been traveling a lot for work lately--something that has taken me to all corners of the country, typically on a series of very fast 1-day trips that are cobbled together on very short notice.  Deadlines being what they are, I often need to book flights at the last minute to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible.

Sometimes, there are casualties.

Each of the Tigers vs. Yankees games in the ALDS started at 8:37.  Every one of them.  Even when they were "TBA" you just knew that they were going to be prime time.  I mean, Yankees, right?  Prime Time.  So, when I had to book a flight for yesterday and saw that my only option would leave me in the torturous isolation of the skies from 7:55 to 9:45 I was less than pleased.  But hey, 8:37, plus a few minutes for opening pomp and circumstance, means that I'll miss an hour of the game.  But that's like, a couple innings.  I'll survive, I guess.

But then that "TBA" became 8:00pm.  Shit.  By 9:45 this game could be almost over, and I would be stuck on a freaking plane, waiting for a line of the world's slowest people to pull their bags out of the overhead compartment, while a subset of them transform into the world's most polite people, letting everyone in the world cut in front of them as they patiently wait to get off the plane.  Meanwhile, I'll contemplate pushing the guy in front of me to the ground, starting a domino effect that will allow me to run on the backs of my fellow passengers to the front of the line.  I was certain this would happen.

Just as I was certain that once I got off the plane, the airport would effectively be closed, sports bars and all, and I would get to the rental car counter and some family of four that has never rented a car in history would be poring over the minutiae of adding supplemental insurance or debating the merits of pre-paying their gas tank, while I quietly die inside as the game winds down.


There was no way that I was going to see this game.  I was sure of it.

You might have picked up on my mounting tension if you were following me on Twitter:


I would pay a thousand dollars for Inflight internet on this next flight, but ,alas. Commence nervous wreckage. Go Tigers

Go little airplane, fly as fast as you can!

Let's go. Get on the fucking plane and close the cabin door. Baseball waits for no man or airplane. Come on!!
16 hours ago via Twitter for Android
Yeah.  My tiny plane was full of a bunch of lolligaggers.  My greatest fears were being realized.  The game was going to start and I wasn't even off the ground yet.  2 hours of radio silence followed.

As soon as I landed it the phone jumped out of my pocket.  Note to future self: Twitter is not a good tool for catching up on what has happened over a 2 hour span.


Just landed chaos trying to figure out the game while simultaneously looking for the nearest sports bar to park myself the rest of the night
15 hours ago via Twitter for Android
Guy in the row in front of me said that it was 2-0.  Bless your soul good sir.  As ESPN's mobile site loaded I saw this:

Jorge Posada singles on a line drive to center fielder Austin Jackson. Alex Rodriguez to 3rd. Nick Swisher to 2nd.
  • Pitcher D. Fister
  • BatterJ. Posada

SpeedPitchResult
183ChangeupCalled Strike
2 92Fastball (Two-seam)Foul
3    90Fastball (Four-seam)Foul
478CurveballBall In Dirt
587SliderFoul
691Fastball (Four-seam)In play, no out
Sweet Jesus.  Bases loaded and one out.  This is not the type of situation to follow on a freaking phone.

But follow it I did.  Fister prevailed, the aisles started to clear and it was time for a mad dash to the rental car.  Curveball--the rental car required a shuttle.


Following the game on your phone on a rental car shuttle is the worst thing I have ever experienced. Just want to scream WHAT'S HAPPENING
14 hours ago via Twitter for Android
Shuttle starts to slow, and I grab my bags and take off for the counter.  No need!  This airport lets me go straight to my car (National FTW!).  While on the shuttle I googled the local ESPN radio station.  I threw my bags in the back seat and almost broke the radio dial:

IN THE RENTAL CAR AAHHHHHHHH RADIO GO TIGERS
14 hours ago via Twitter for Android
 That "AAHHHHH..." is of the sweet release variety.  I just sat there for a minute and listened to VMart's RBI single.  I started driving before Cano hit his home run.  At some point, while navigating my way away from the airport I just screamed WOOOOOOOO!!!!! at the top of my lungs. 

And so, it would seem, the saga was over.  I had radio, it was like the 6th inning or thereabouts and I knew that I could listen to the rest of the game.  The thing is, I really wanted to see the game.  Also, I hadn't had any food for hours.  Commence the internal debate.  Hotel?  Sports Bar?  What happens now?

I had decided.  I'm just going to grab some horrible fast food and eat it in my hotel room I DON'T EVEN CARE.


But there was no fast food near the hotel, and just as I pulled into the parking lot I made a U-Turn and went back to a Chili's I saw along the way.  The hotel can wait.  I'm spending the rest of the night at the sports bar:


Finally in front of a tv (chilis!) Just in time to see that NASTY pitch.
14 hours ago via Twitter for Android

That was Scherzer being awesome, by the way.

As I ate some discount nachos and beer I noticed between innings that the place was starting to clear out.  At 10:55 I was the last person there, and the bartender asked if I wanted another beer.  Do you guys close at 11?  was my response. 

"Yeah."

"Sure, I'll take another."  It's a dick move.  I know.  Ordering another beer with 5 minutes to close when I'm the last person in the joint is not a cool thing to do.  But if it could give me another half hour it would be worth it.  Again, I DON'T EVEN CARE.  There are more important things than etiquette.  You can mop around me.  I'll leave a good tip.

Well, it bought me some time, but not quite enough.

Chilis has closed. I'm about to get kicked out. NOT NOW
13 hours ago via Twitter for Android
That was in the top of the 8th ~11:18pm

I could hold out for this half inning, and as soon as Inge grounded out I downed what was left of my beer, flew out the bar, jumped in the car and drove at a ridiculous high speed the 1000 ft. (seriously, it was two buildings away) back to the hotel.

Somehow, in that 25 seconds I was forced to make a decision: Listen to the rest of the game in the hotel parking lot, or check in and get to the room but risk missing something.  Executive decision said Hotel.  Go.

Literally just sprinted to room. Asked what channel tbs was at the front desk.
13 hours ago via Twitter for Android
Bottom of the 8th, 1 out.

And the rest, they say, is history.  Pure Joy.  Yelling and screaming at the TV.  Hotel neighbors who probably thought about calling the front desk a few times, and maybe the police a few others.

What a game.  What a series.  What a team.  And then this:

JUST BOOKED MY FLIGHTS TO DETROIT SEE YOU WEDNESDAY WOOOOOOOO!!!!!
12 hours ago via web

 Indeed.

Go Tigers.







Saturday, September 17, 2011

Clinched.

Well you all know what laughter sounds like

To say that I saw this coming would be a lie. Ok, sure, I've seen this coming for the last month or so, when the Tigers went from a middling division contender to a unstoppable powerhouse, but when a team wins 12 in a row, it's kind of tough to be surprised when the clinch a playoff berth. But the fact that we even got to this point is surprising to me. This is a season in which the Tigers started a horribly performing Brandon Inge long enough for him to earn 10/5 rights, then Designated Him for Assignment, then brought him back as a reasonably valuable platoon player. This is a season in which the Tigers looked sloppy. Poor defense haunted the team, inconsistent pitching created setback after setback. A weak bullpen just couldn't hold it together.

Yet somehow, hold it together they did. In place of a 2nd half collapse there was a second half surge. In early August, Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland were both given contract extensions. The Tigers had a tenuous grasp on 1st place and weren't playing the best baseball. Dombrowski had been doing everything he could shuffle the roster to keep the team in contention. Leyland was being Leyland. Many fans were confused; others, upset. Why would you give them an extension with two months to go. Subtext: Why would you stick us with these two with another collapse imminent. I held a more moderate view at the time. Sure, the timing is a little strange, but here you have a team that is in first place in August. Why wouldn't you give an extension? This isn't a great team, yet they've performed well. There is still plenty of season to go, potential lame duck leadership could sink the ship. Sure, extend away.

Since August 8th the Tigers are 27-10.

-----

Take a look back at the start of the season. Did anyone expect this? I'm not saying nobody thought it was possible, but was there anyone who seriously expected the Tiger to blow away the division? There were way too many unknowns about this team. About the rotation, about 2nd base, about sophomore slumps. Nobody knew. And the funny thing is, all of that uncertainty didn't really work its way out. Instead, the anxious trigger finger of Dave Dombrowski made things happen.
I've never been an argent DD supporter. He made a bunch of boneheaded contract extensions after the Tigers last playoff run that handcuffed the team for years. But man, did he ever earn his money this year.

Doug Fister
Delmon Young
Wilson Betemit

Three pickups in a very thin trade market have made all the difference in the world. Sure, it helps that Justin Verlander is the best pitcher in the majors right now, or that Miguel Cabrera is playing as his consistently great self, yet is flying under the radar some how. In fact, as astutely pointed out by Jonah Keri, Alex Avila and Jhonny Perlata are having best-in-class seasons themselves.

When we look back at early season lineups and see INGE, RABURN, SIZEMORE, KELLY etc. slotted into the lineup every day it was depressing. It didn't work. Dombrowski saw it too. Now, the weak points of the lineup have become the Tigers' strengths, as platoon players or defensive replacements or pinch hitters. The Tigers are a much better, and much different, team than they were as recently as the start of July.

Four more names:
Jayson Werth
Adam Dunn
Carl Crawford
Victor Martinez

Let's play match game.

4 Years/$50 Million
4 Years/$56 Million
7 Years/$142 Million
7 Years/$126 Million

--match with--

232/332/392, 19 HR, 56 RBI, 147 SO
161/291/282, 11 HR, 40 RBI, 161 SO
252/289/398, 11 HR, 53 RBI, 98 SO
325/375/461, 11 HR, 94 RBI, 50 SO

In case you weren't sure, Victor(y) Martinez has the cheapest, shortest contract and production that FAR exceeds that of all of the three. Lest we forget, these four people were the free agent market last year. That was it. The Tigers knew that they needed to add a bat and they just happened to choose the only one of the four that has had a good season. VMarts season has been excellent, everyone else's has been short of serviceable. Point, Dombrowski.

-----
There are two weeks left in the season and we can finally relax. There will be no Game 163 this year. No last minute collapse to the Wild Card. Jim Leyland can twist and contort his facial muscles into something that resembles a painful smile, before channeling his inner Rex Banner and snapping back to its default position.

The Tigers are in the playoffs. They won their division for the first time since 1987. This is a real thing. The Tigers have become a good baseball team, one that can reasonably contend for home field advantage over these last few weeks. One that is going to see its share of post-season awards. One that has a shot, as good a shot as anyone, at taking home the ultimate prize.

Baseball is a sport of two seasons: the Regular Season and the playoffs. The first objective is to craft a team that can get you to the playoffs, then have a strong enough rotation to dominate the playoffs. Place a check by the first one. As for the second, I think that Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and company may have a case to make come October.

Go Tigers.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Images are back

Huzzah! No more black circles with lines through them. That was a big step one on the way to rebloggery. Of course, there's also that who "time" issue, but this was a hurdle that I wasn't excited to overcome. Turns out it was easier than I thought.

Anyway, Images. Woo!

Also woo:

-The Tigers are in first place
-Michigan football starts tomorrow

Someday, like some hypothetical magic future date on which I am all of a sudden confident in initiating a jinx-free discussion of the Tigers playoff chances, blogging will continue. Topics to discuss: the Tigers playoff chances; the Tigers in the playoffs, hypothetically; Fister; The Tigers post-2011 outlook.

Also, 2011 baseball cards, a summary.

Sounds good, I can't wait.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Look Out Below!



File this one under "local boy makes good." Britton, MI native Duane Below will be making his Major League debut tonight, taking the place of the now-bullpen bound Charlie Furbush. Britton, MI is here, BTW, south of Ann Arbor between Tecumseh and Dundee, (Northeast of Adrian and northwest of Temprance for all of you former SEC high school athletes!)

I recommend the Detroit News' version of Below's life story, which is a nice human interest piece with small town charm and a mom named Phyllis that works at a senior center. Good stuff.

As for Below, he becomes the next in a line of potential rotation fillers, notable because 1) he is not Charlie Furbush, who was his predecessor in that role and 2) He is not ├╝ber-prospect Justin Turner who should pleasepleaseplease stay in the minors. Below (which I have taken to pronouncing "Bell-O" and now "BE-low", but I guess I'll wait to hear Dan Dickerson or Mario and Rod to get my pronunciation right), has been pretty good at Toledo this year, sporting a 3.13 ERA with 83k and 37BB in 115 IP. His full minor league stats suggest that he's not quite that good, but hey, give me six innings and a couple runs and you're ok in my book this season.

Good luck Duane, we're pulling for you!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Some Early Ginter Returns

There are six cards in the Tigers team set. Guess how many relics there are? Yeah*














*Ok, so maybe there are only 5. You see, there are two Austin Jackson cards--one with a jersey and one with a bat--but they are actually the same card. Same card number, same picture, same everything except for the little swatch. To me this is only one card, with your choice of how you want your one square inch of memorabilia, but I could see how some people would want both.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Sorry folks, the blog is going under construction for a while. Some things, images and galleries in particular, might appear or disappear or be broken etc. For this I am very sorry. The hope is that the end result is a much better site for everyone.

Now the bad news. It is no secret that my blogging here has been a little, um, sluggish for the last few months. This is a function of my life going from a normal, acceptable pace, to a crazy, full-time job + grad school + damn, this recession must actually be long gone because work is chaos + and I'm exhausted in my free time pace.

I am not shutting down the site. I am not stopping with the blogging. Things are just UNDER CONSTRUCTION for a while. Pardon the mess, especially because I'm a notoriously slow worker.

Shipped!

My favorite word in the english language. Well, at least when this is involved:

Friday, June 24, 2011

What the future holds

About a week ago, I picked up something rather nice for myself off of eBay. I had a little extra cash in my account, Topps Series 2 had just been released and I was just looking for something that I could really sink my teeth into. Yesterday, it came in the mail. Ready?



Don't all ooh and ahh at once!

So here's the thing. I'm not really keen on redemptions, mostly because I fear that they will never be redeemed. However, this is Al Kaline, Kaline has been all over the 2011 Topps sets, he's in good health and seems pretty accessible. So I took a leap.

I did this for two reasons. First, it is numbered to 60 after all and, unlike his other cards in 2011 Topps (Series 1) it portends to be an on-card signature. Also, I think that the 60th Anniversary Reprints set is quite nice--I much prefer it to a straight reprint of a card. What do I mean? Well, here's Al Kaline, this time in Relic Form:



It's not a perfect card, but it's got a lot going for it. Reprint of a rookie card, acknowledgement of a milestone Anniversary for Topps. Um, other stuff? Whatever. I like them.

So here's the rub. If you're a collector you can look at that card and say "Oh, I see where the autograph will go." You can, right? It should be obvious to even an untrained eye. The autograph goes here:



Or here



YES. My Kaline is going to be sweet. Want some more awesome examples? How about:



F(*&%#$!

Damn you Ryne Sandberg! How dare you ruin a perfectly cool card by screwing up the design and scribbling some illegible blob over the only real graphic element on the card. You're an idiot. I'm sure that this is the only...



DAMMIT! Mattingly did it to, on his classic rookie card that shows him both with and without "sideburns," if you catch my drift. This must be a manager thing. Managers are stupid--ask anybody. Is your team's manager an idiot? The answer is yes, and you know it. Ok cool. Manager problem. The old salt players like Gibson and Brooksie know what they're doing. No worries.



Oh son of a...

No one is spared.

Mr. Cub, who shares a rookie card year with our own Mr. Tiger, signed his name over a picture of a card that already has a signature. This is like an artist signing a reprint of his painting over the face of his subject and leaving some random dead space in the corner. THIS IS EXACTLY LIKE THAT.

And herein likes the problem. If Al Kaline signs where he was meant to, this card will be fantastic. If he signs in the worst possible place, it will be forgettable. Forgettable enough that I might even try to flip it back on eBay once it arrives, I would be so disappointed. I'm banking on the fact that Kaline is not an idiot. That he can see what even the most basic observer could figure out--sign in the big blank spot on the top. JUST LIKE TOPPS ADVERTISED.

Of course, the fact that we're even having this conversation is absurd. I can't count the number of times that cards appear to be signed in the wrong place, throwing off the intention and design of the card. This shouldn't be a burden placed on the players. There should be no discretion here.

Would a simple investment in some of these be too much?

Instead I'm forced to sit and cross my fingers for the next XX weeks. Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

RIP Jim Northrup

The Tigers have experienced their share of deaths recently, few of which, since the shocking and unexpected death of Mark Fidrych, have been entirely unexpected. I mean, people get old. When I see that a player from the 50's has passed, I am respectfully saddened and accepting. People die.

But it seems just a little too soon for players from the 1968 Tigers to die. A little too soon, and wrong.

The '68 Tigers are Detroit's legacy. Kaline, Horton, Lolich, McLain, Freehan -- I can go on and on listing the great players (borderline Hall of Famers, many) on that team and their legendary status in Detroit.

Personally, I'm more of an '84 kind of guy, but when you think about it, it is that '68 team that has had a more lasting impact on the franchise. Kaline is in the Hall of Fame. The injustices of Trammell and Whitaker (and, to a lesser degree, Morris) aside, he may be the Tigers last HOFer for another 20 years. Kaline and Horton have statues in the outfield, and their numbers retired. They are special assistants to the front office. That '84 team? Tram was given the boot and is coaching with Gibby in Arizona. Morris is a radio announcer for the Twins. Whitaker is a recluse who no longer participates in the team's spring training for some reason. Lance Parrish had a whole career after Detroit, and was on Trammell's staff when he managed here.

The bottom line: none of them are here. None of them are part of the franchise. None of them are part of Detroit.*

/digression.

Back to 1968. This was the team of my parents generation. I grew up hearing stories about the 1968 Tigers. Al Kaline was my dad's hero. My mom liked Rocky Colavito. When I met Don Wert somewhat randomly last year, I texted my dad and he responded with a few messages talking about his All Star season in '68 and how his hit clinched the pennant that year.

Seriously, who else knows who Don Wert is? These are the stories I heard growing up. These are the players that my parents knew the way that I can talk about Craig Monroe and Marcus Thames and Ramon Santiago and Nate Robertson and a whole collection of nobodies on the 2006 Tigers team.

----
These players are not supposed to die. It just feels too soon.

Jim Northrup was one of those players. I cannot tell you the number of old Tigers stories I heard that referenced Northrup one way or another. Whether it was about all the Grand Slams he hit, or about something minor he did that someone like Kaline or Willie or Gates or Rocky capitalized on or whatever, Northrup was, and remains, a familiar name to me.

This is in no small part because he was 1) good and 2) Won the World Series for the Tigers.

Game 7. Two on, two out in the 7th inning. Tigers have been held scoreless by Bob Gibson up to this point. Northrup rockets a triple well over the head of Curt Flood** to drive in the go-ahead runs. Freehan doubles to drive him in right after. Tigers win their first World Series in 23 years.

Northrup wrapped up that World Series having hit two home runs off Bob Gibson, with 7 hits and 8 RBIs overall. He slugged .536.

---

I'm ashamed to say that just last week I had stumbled upon a card set that I had never really paid attention to before. It was 2004 Upper Deck Legends "Timeless Teams." The purpose of the set is to highlight rosters of classic teams. For the Tigers this mean 1968, 1972, 1984 and 1987. In addition to the large team set (which I found and bought and am awaiting delivery on), every card in the set also has an autographed version which, although overwhelming, is really quite awesome when you consider that there are guys in this set that have never really received that type of cardboard recognition.

One of the cards (two actually, '68 and '72) that I found was of Jim Northrup.


It's a nice looking card and I thought to myself: "Cool, a card of Jim Northrup! I wonder what he's doing now?"

But I was doing other stuff and didn't really bother to look it up. I thought about bidding on the card, which was like $4 at the time, and vowed to check on it later and would pick it up if it was still cheap. Later came and went, I forgot to bid, the card sold for under $5 and three days later I read that Jim Northrup has died. I feel like an ass.

RIP Jim Northrup. I'll never forget about you again.


*This is, I believe, partly the fault of ownership and management. Trammell and his staff, including Gibson and Parrish, were given such a disrespectful heave-ho after the 2005 season that I don't blame them. Was it a mistake to fire them? No, not really. But just pushing them out the door made transparent the fact that they were only brought on in the first place as figureheads--known players that could help the fans ignore that there was an abysmal product on the field. Once the product started getting better, the team no longer needed to exploit the old players and off they went.

**No, he couldn't have gotten it even if he hadn't slipped.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Who Are These People: Adam Wilk

There are a lot of new faces wearing the Old English D these days. Trades, DL Stints, Call-Ups, Demotions -- all points to a roster in flux as Dave Dombrowski grasps at the world's supply of straws trying to find something that works.

Of course that leads to the question: Who are these people? (Jerry Seinfeld voice optional). Sounds like a multi-part series to me. We'll be doing these in chronological order.


I hope Adam Wilk has a good frequent flyer program.

May 24, 2011 Phil Coke placed on DL, Adam Wilk called up

A freak accident sent Phil Coke to the DL, making Adam Wilk the third call up in four days.

Four Days later after Scott Sizemore got traded for David Purcey, the Tigers needed a roster spot (for some reason?) and Wilk was sent back down to the Minors.

Pat on the back and all that. Wilk didn't really have time to get comfortable in Glass City though. The newly acquired Purcey went on paternity leave on Saturday leaving the Tigers down a reliever, so Wilk got the call again.

Way to go buddy.

With Paternity Leave now over, it was time for Wilk to stay with the club?! That's right. Andy Oliver, who struggled in his start over the weekend is back in the Minors. Wilk stays up and Purcey comes back.

Alrighty then. So who is Adam Wilk? He was an 11th round pick of the Tigers in 2009 and has been a starter in the system and was 4-4 with a 3.54 ERA this year in AAA. He is a product of Long Beach State. After getting the call a few weeks ago he was immediately thrown into the fire with the big boys and did well. Needing a player to eat some innings he chewed up 3.2 in a relief role, allowing 2H, 1R (0 Earned), and notching 4 strikeouts. After demotion #1 he went seven strong, while allowing only 1ER along with 5H and 2BB.

Since his second call up to the show he has excelled at keeping bullpen seats warm. Whether he pitches again prior to his impending re-demotion remains to be seen.

Get that man a baseball card? Why, no need! He was featured as a prospect in 2010 Bowman, making it one of the very few times that a player listed on a Bowman card actually makes it into the majors (not to mention the next year!)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

10/5

It's one of those quirky things. You don't really think of it until it happens, and when it does you can't help but ask how did we end up here?

Last night Brandon Inge earned 10/5 rights, for having served 10 years in the major leagues, 5 with the same team. In reality, he is a 10/10 player and is the longest tenured Tiger on the team. Brandon Inge.



The implications of this are not entirely insignificant. With 10/5 status, Inge can't be traded without his consent. Considering he is the only Tiger to actually live in Michigan, is extremely involved in the community (especially with UM Mott Children's Hospital) and is a beloved off the field player, I'd say that the Tigers would have to pry consent from his cold, dead hands.
“I guess loyalty is something big that I believe in and Detroit’s been very loyal to me for many years now, through thick and thin,” Inge said. “It’s one of those things where they’ve treated me with respect and I’ve treated them with respect as well.”

It’s an affiliation Inge would like to continue beyond 2013, the last year he’s under team control.

“Absolutely,” Inge said. “I’ll stay as long as they’ll let me.”

So yeah, Inge isn't getting traded. Of course, that all assumes that a trade was even a realistic possibility, considering that the Tigers have stuck with the career .236/.306/.390 hitter claiming that he will break out of his .211/.279/.286 season and return to what his proven track record shows. Oh, the excitement!

Look. Inge almost hit 30 home runs in 2006 and then again in 2009. We get it. But the reality is that even in those seasons he has been a below average offensive 3rd baseman. In fact, the only year that he was an above average player was way back in 2004 (OPS+ 109). I remember when Inge started with the Tigers back in 2001. He couldn't hit then. He can't hit now, and he has really never been able to hit in between. That the Tigers have committed to Inge for 10 years is absolutely shocking. That they signed him to a two year extension with a 3rd year option prior to this season borders on criminal.

Oh, but the Defense! THE DEFENSE!

Yes, Inge is a phenomenal defensive 3rd baseman. In 2006 and 2007 he was arguably the best in the game. And while he trailed off from those peaks, he has remained a very good defensive ballplayer, often times enough to make up for his anemic output.

Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case this year, where he has struggled in the field as well. His range looks to be down a bit, his errors up a bit. Those things, combined with a mediocre fielding neighbor in Jhonny Peralta and a mystery player at Second Base has come back to bite a Tigers team at times.

Which brings us back to the central theme. How is it that Brandon Inge has made it for 10 years as a Major League starter (and at multiple positions, no less!)? How have the Tigers stuck with him this long?

The answer seems to be pretty simple: his post-2006 contract made him untradable and his was performing well. His Post 2010 contract has made him untradable and he is performing poorly. Now his 10/5 rights just make him untradable.

He'll stay as long as the Tigers let them, and they have already let him stay too long.

----

Brandon Inge is the most controversial player in Tigers history. This is not up for debate. I too find myself frequently conflicted about how I feel about Inge. I've never liked his bat, and find him more frustrating than not, but since he moved to 3B (and even somewhat when he was a catcher) I loved his defensive prowess, his hustle, his demeanor and just the way he played the game. His off the field contributions and personality have endeared him to countless Tigers fans and it would be wrong to have simply discarded him at any point--the loyalty that he cites is important to me.

At the same time, there are times where he was a whiner, a bad clubhouse presence and a general malcontent, most of which surrounding his 2007 displacement by Miguel Cabrera and his shift into Catcher/Utility land. Also, he is really, really hurting the Tigers right now, and has hurt them at times throughout his career.

This isn't all his fault. In fact, blame should be placed squarely on the Tigers--not for extending contracts or sticking with Inge, but for failing to produce anything that even begins to resemble a replacement option. There have been ZERO 3B prospects in the Tigers system for years. The main legitimate prospect was just drafted last year which, a little late, no? What's more, they've ignored alternative replacement possibilities, like using the acquisition of Jhonny Peralta to end Inge's tenure with the team after last season and keep Peralta around at 3B. Instead the Tigers signed both.

If it wasn't the de facto truth before is now set in stone: Inge will be a Tiger for the rest of his life, and that means this year and next year. God help us all if it means 2013 as well.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Who Are These People: Enrique Gonzalez

There are a lot of new faces wearing the Old English D these days. Trades, DL Stints, Call-Ups, Demotions -- all points to a roster in flux as Dave Dombrowski grasps at the world's supply of straws trying to find something that works.

Of course that leads to the question: Who are these people? (Jerry Seinfeld voice optional). Sounds like a multi-part series to me. We'll be doing these in chronological order.


That was fast.

May 22, 2011. Brayan Villarreal goes down, Enrique Gonzalez comes up.

Admit it. You don't know who either of these people are.


Villarreal, shown here in 2010 Bowman Chrome doing his best Casey Crosby imitation, is a long, lean latino with long hair and one of the nastiest pickoff moves I've ever seen. He also sported a cool 1.696 WHIP, so down he goes.

Enrique Gonzalez was signed as a free agent in 2010 after stints in Arizona, San Diego and Boston. He was acceptable when he joined the big club last year, sporting a 3.81 ERA. He doesn't strike out very many (13K in 26IP) and walks a lot (17 BB), which could certainly have been used to predict his 12.79 ERA and 2.684 WHIP. He is not good.

Get that man a baseball card? I hope not.

Who Are These People: Charlie Furbush

There are a lot of new faces wearing the Old English D these days. Trades, DL Stints, Call-Ups, Demotions -- all points to a roster in flux as Dave Dombrowski grasps at the world's supply of straws trying to find something that works.

Of course that leads to the question: Who are these people? (Jerry Seinfeld voice optional). Sounds like a multi-part series to me. We'll be doing these in chronological order.


The Dominoes started falling for real with this one. This is the first in a rapid fire sequence of roster moves.

May 21, 2011 Brad Thomas to the DL

Who? Brad Thomas is the rather crappy lefthanded bullpen arm that the Tigers signed during winter meetings 2009, right before that other thing they did that year. He's pretty much universally derided in Detroit. He does not have a card as a Tigers. Bonus: he was once a Nippon Ham Fighter.

Hello: Charlie Furbush.

A bush made out of fur. Like Dirks, Furbush wasn't among the organization's Top Prospects in 2010. He's a former 5th rounder (2007) and a big dude (6'5, 215). He also just happens to have been tearing it up in AAA this season. 55K to 14BB in 46IP is pretty good. So was that 2.91 ERA and 0.928 WHIP. Oh, and this is all as a left-handed starter, something the Tigers have had trouble finding/developing for years.

With Thomas out, Furbush has filled the role in the Bullpen where he has been, well, awesome. 9k in 8.2IP will do that. If he can keep it up we might never have to see Brad Thomas again.

Get that man a baseball card? He'll need something to commemorate his MLB Debut, sure, but you can see him on cardboard right now. He made the Prospect rounds in 2008 with showings in Bowman Chrome and some releases from Donruss and Just.
via COMC

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Who Are These People: Andy Dirks

There are a lot of new faces wearing the Old English D these days. Trades, DL Stints, Call-Ups, Demotions -- all points to a roster in flux as Dave Dombrowski grasps at the world's supply of straws trying to find something that works.

Of course that leads to the question: Who are these people? (Jerry Seinfeld voice optional). Sounds like a multi-part series to me. We'll be doing these in chronological order.


While there was some movement on the roster earlier in the season, the carousel started in the middle of May and really picked up speed about a week later. The first domino to fall was Maggs.

May 13, 2011 Magglio Ordonez to the DL

Hello: Andy Dirks

Dirks? Dirks was an 8th round pick of the Tigers 2008 out of Wichita State. He was an ok minor league player that really came into his own at AAA last year and the start of this season (.347/.384/.575). Sure, he strikes out more than he walks (almost 2x as much). He missed out on Baseball America's Top 10 organizational prospects list at the end of last season, but was considered the Tigers' best defensive outfield, something that he has shown so far.

Since being called up he has flashed his glove and his power, with 2 HRs and a double to his credit in 32 plate appearances (a 121 OPS+!).

Get that man a baseball card? Yes, please. Despite the fact that Bowman frequently puts out cards of worthless prospects that will never see the show, and that Topps had a "pro debut" series come out last year, Dirks is as-yet baseball card-less.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Timing is Everything

Last week I got a small package in the mail that included a card that I was pretty excited about.



Awesome, right? I mean first of all, who doesn't love refractors. In case I haven't said so before, I go after refractor sets now. How could you not, with all the shininess etc.?

Second, look at Scott Sizemore's signature. He has arguably the best signature on the team. It's just all sorts of snazzy.

So yeah, I was pretty pleased to get a rookie card autograph of the Tigers' starting secon...awww crap.
The Tigers parted ways with 2B Scott Sizemore, trading him to the A's for RP David Purcey.

That was May 28th, or TWO days after this card arrived.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

No Takesies Backsies!

Source: Boston Wolverine's (aka ROtT) Flickr Account (via a random google search, how about that!)

Sorry folks, this is already in the ground. Can't take it back now! Do you think all the great buildings and institutions put into place by the Rockerfellers and Carnegie's etc. were built with honest, hard earned money?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tigers Gallery & Review: 2011 Topps Opening Day

I'm sure right now everyone cares about bigger and better things. Well that's fine. I just got a package that contained team sets of Opening Day, Attax(!) and yes, Bowman. I'll be posting Galleries & Reviews for all of them this week, as well as filling in the rest of the year's sets. Opening Day starts things off because it is fun, quick and easy.

Every year I consider Opening Day a throwaway set, and every year I find that I like it as much, if not more, than the regular Topps offering. The 2011 edition continues in that tradition in many ways.

Take a look at the full team set in the gallery below. My take on the set can be found after the jump.









#16 Max Scherzer

#82 Brennan Boesch

#100 Miguel Cabrera

#104 Victor Martinez









#177 Magglio Ordonez

#184 Austin Jackson

#188 Justin Verlander

#M9 Paws








#OD55 Miguel Cabrera

#UL5 Miguel Cabrera

TTOD21 Austin Jackson


2011 Master Checklist

It's that time again. With my finals over and a little bit of extra time, it's time to get back to blogging with one of the things I love best--cataloging the Tigers cards every year. Below is a list of 2011 card sets, which may or may not link to their respective image galleries and reviews. The goal is to get all of them done by the end of the year.

New this year--an acknowledgement of continuity sets (where appropriate) such as the "Happy Anniversary" autograph set, among others. Also, parallel sets will be included if and when I complete them for my personal collection. Otherwise they will likely be addressed on a set-by-set bases. As per usual, galleries will be a combination of what I have and images pulled from the internet

Enjoy!

Topps Sets
2011 Bowman
2011 Gypsy Queen
2011 Topps
2011 Topps Factory Team Set
2011 Topps Attax
2011 Topps Heritage
2011 Topps Opening Day
2011 Topps Pro Debut
2011 Topps Tribute

Unlicensed Sets
2011 In The Game Heroes and Prospects

Oddball Sets

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Updates and Bullets

Sorry for the radio silence everyone, my semester has been wrapping up--I have one last paper due Friday--and has left me with very, very little time to do anything that isn't directly related to work or school. This should turn around in the next week or two as I try to ease back into things.

In the meantime, I haven't been living under a rock. Quick bullet thoughts, ho!

  • RIP Harmon Killebrew
  • This has been the big news, after his announcement that he was entering hospice care just last week. I saw him at an Autograph show in Baltimore a couple years ago and he seemed like a nice guy. That last half of the sentence sounds like the understatement of all time based on articles I've read about him since. Also, he had one of the nicest signatures in all of baseball.
  • The Tigers are...good? I contemplated putting a post together to this point after their 40th game as they sat on a sweet 7 game win streak. Of course, there was that 7 game losing streak earlier, but that's in the past, obvs. It seems like the Tigers are, in fact, kind of good, but I expect them to play uneven, frustrating baseball for the entirety of this season as they seek a playoff spot. The best news for the Tigers is the apparent badness of the Twins.
  • Benoit needs to be de-leveraged. He cannot be the 8th inning guy anymore. The Tigers need to Joe Nathan him pronto to see if he can get back on track.
  • The Tigers starting rotation is money. Verlander and Scherzer are better than I thought they would be prior to the season. Porcello has pitched very well, and I have been impressed with Brad Penny in his last few starts. I don't really like Phil Coke, but maybe I'm just a grump. I wouldn't mind seeing him shift back to the bullpen to be replaced by one of the prospects. If the Tigers can sustain their starting pitching at even 80% of this level, they will be in the playoff hunt right to the end.
  • Indians, man. They're not bad. Really, it's the former Indians that I'm interested in, right VMart and Jhonny? They've been excellent for the Tigers this year.
  • Please don't slump Brennan Boesch
  • On Cards: I think that I like Gypsy Queen but don't love it. It may be the first set to have the distinction of mini cards that look worse than the base. 2011 Bowman is ugly (what else is new) and has a crappy Tigers checklist. The more I look at it, the more I like 2011 Topps. Could go down as one of the best designed and executed sets in a long time. Diamond Parallels are money, and I hope they continue the Black Diamond redemptions into S2
  • I have Baltimore City Jury Duty on Monday. I will be live tweeting my experience up until the point it becomes illegal for me to do so. Just FYI.

I hope to expand on some of these thoughts in future posts, and you know that I have the entirety of 2011 card galleries to catch up on. That's what summer is for, right?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tractor


At some point in your life, you will experience a death that immediately calls on that sweetspot of your childhood memories. When Ernie Harwell died, I felt a sense of personal loss. When Sparky Anderson died, I recalled seeing Tigers games as a kid. But both of those men, and the memories they created for millions, predate me by quite a bit.

That's what makes this one different. Tractor Traylor was nobody before he was somebody, and he didn't become somebody until I was 11. His entire career at Michigan corresponds perfectly with my childhood. I remember the NIT championship in 1997. I remember the Inaugural Big Ten Tournament Championship. I remember the day he broke the backboard at Crisler--not because I was there, but because a bunch of my friends were at the game and told me about it at school the next day.

There are plenty of reasons not to memorialize him. This is a Tigers blog, for one. The fact that he was a prime contributor to the the downfall of the Michigan basketball program, miring it in an obsolescence that it is only just beginning to recover from, is another. But whatever the reasons, he is one of those guys that I remember, like a beloved, if flawed, side character in a good movie. Like Donnie. Robert Traylor is Donnie.

Apart from the fact that his death is unexpected and tragic, it is also the first time that I have experienced the death of a public figure without feeling like there was some cache of memories that other people could recall that were simply inaccessible to me because I wasn't there. Well I was there. I remember Robert Traylor, and I always will.

RIP

Saturday, May 7, 2011

That's Two Thus Far

One


Two

As @jposnanski put it:

24 pitchers since 1919 w/multiple no-nos. Six are in Hall, two more will go. Verlander at 29 in rare air. He will throw more.

I certainly hope so. He's already the greatest Tigers pitcher of my lifetime.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Redux

"BlahBlahBlah Leyland Confident BlahBlahBlah Potential BlahBlahBlah Fans Grumbling BlahBlahBlah Contender.

"I don't know if it will be tonight, tomorrow or the next day, but this team will play good," he said about his 12-16 Tigers before the start of a four-game series against the Yankees at Comerica Park.

"There's absolutely no doubt in my mind."

Whatever you say, Jimmy.

Guess Who's Back



Curtis Granderson returns to Detroit for the first time since he was traded prior to the 2010 season.



He remains my favorite non-Tiger in baseball. I'm not alone. Given the year he's been having and the year that the Tigers have been having, it would certainly be nice to see him around again.

His return corresponds with what portends to be a somewhat momentous night around the league. Heck, the Four Tops are singing the national anthem. Word on the street is that everyone in the entire country is a good mood. My guess is that Curtis is the beneficiary of some of that happiness, perhaps in the form of a prolonged standing ovation.

He deserves it.

Also, America.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Ol' Switcheroo (but I need help from you)

So, I'm thinking about changing my blog name and domain so that I can take advantage of a .com address (instead of an .blogspot.com) but I need some advice.

I'm pretty happy with google. I haven't had a lot of problems with them, and I'm pretty comfortable with what I can do on here. There are some limitations, yes, but all in all, I feel like a full transition to something else (wordpress hosted, independently hosted) would be more trouble than its worth for me. So some questions:

  • Has anyone made this transition from .blogspot to .com but stayed with google?
  • Has anyone made the transition and switched to something else
  • Once I have the .com can I transition to a different host at a future date without too much trouble?
  • Any thoughts/comments from those of you with a tad more expertise than I have?

It is my understanding that all of my old posts will live on at the new domain if I stick with blogger, and things will redirect and google rankings will stay the same etc. If I'm wrong about this and you know it, please let me know.

Otherwise, this is where things are trending. I think the move to a .com will generally be a positive one, but any help or advice I can get would be much appreciated.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Team We Have

This is the follow up to "The Team We Had", which examined the 2010 Topps Factory Team Set and all of its flaws. Well, I've got good news: 2011 is much better.

Take a look:









#DET1 Miguel Cabrera

#DET2 Magglio Ordonez

#DET3 Brandon Inge

#DET4 Max Scherzer









#DET5 Brad Penny

#DET6 Ryan Raburn

#DET7 Carlos Guillen

#DET8 Austin Jackson









#DET9 Jhonny Peralta

#DET10 Rick Porcello

#DET11 Brennan Boesch

#DET12 Joaquin Benoit









#DET13 Justin Verlander

#DET14 Jose Valverde

#DET15 Alex Avila

#DET16 Victor Martinez



#DET17 Comerica Park


For one, ALL of these players are currently on the Tigers 25-man roster. This is a huge win. Of course, to make it happen, there are some pretty bad photoshop jobs, but that is something for another post. On pure roster capture, this gets an A+ (They even have Ryan Raburn and Alex Avila!!)

All of the Tigers who are in Series 1 see their photos replicated here. It remains to be seen whether the other photos will be rehashed in Series 2. In the past the factory set and Series 2 pictures have been different, but we'll have to wait and see.

The best part of the whole set is the great shot of a FULL Comerica Park with full-on Whale Building in frame. A Stadium Card is perfect for a team set, and as someone who has an affinity for Stadiums in general, I'm tempted to buy this for all the teams just to get all the stadiums (Note to my wife: I won't)

On balance, the 2011 Topps Team Set blows 2010 out of the water. For any fan of the team (or their team) it gets my wholehearted recommendation.