1975 SSPC #74 – Rick Auerbach (Dodgers)

1976 SSPC #74 Rick Auerbach

Rick Auerbach… played 11 seasons with the Brewers, Dodgers, Reds and Mariners.  He had a pinch-hit double in the 1974 NLCS, and pinch-ran for Joe Ferguson in the 3rd game of the 1974 World Series.

Betcha didn’t know…   Rick Auerbach’s number was retired by the Dodgers!

…to honor Pee Wee Reese. Auerbach, Billy Grabarkewitz, Derrel Thomas and Gary Weiss are the four Dodgers to wear #1 after Pee Wee.

Other fun facts: “Rick” is short for Frederick, and he played with Doug DeCinces at Pierce College in L.A.

In 1976 he was… a utility infielder and pinch-hitter who played in only 36 games and hit well below the Mendoza Line.

Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man: Auerbach moved a lot over a period of 4 years… Starting in April, 1973 he went from the Brewers to the Dodgers, back to the Brewers, back to the Dodgers, then to the Mets, to the Rangers and to the Reds.  He never played a game for the Rangers, and he only played at AAA Tidewater for the Mets.

Seattle, Alpha And Omega: Rick Auerbach was drafted by the Seattle Pilots, and finished his career with the Seattle Mariners.

Bowl-O-Rama: At 64, Rick is considered one of the top amatuer bowlers in the Los Angeles area. He’s bowled several 300 games, has a certified 818 series to his credit and has bowled an 856 series in practice. As a league bowler who has never even sniffed at a 600 series, I grovel in his presence.

Shea-o-meter: Many of the photos in 1976 SSPC were taken in Shea Stadium; Every team came through Shea because the Yankees were temporarily playing in Shea while Yankee Stadium was being renovated. “Can two Major League teams share a ballpark without driving each other crazy?”

This photo was taken in Shea.
Shea: 46
Pretty sure it’s Shea: 7
Can’t tell: 10
Not Shea: 6

1976 SSPC #74 Rick Auerbach back

Try To Find A Way Out Of The Cloud (Cardboard Yoda #1)

It seems that a lot of you are maintaining your inventory and wantlists through websites that are specifically set up for such a reason, and I can certainly understand why.  It’s easy to use, the information about each card is already there waiting for you, you can access your data through your phone or tablet anytime or anyplace, and it can make it easy to set up trades with other people using the same website.

There are a lot of benefits to keeping data like that in “The Cloud”…  But you should be aware that there are reasons why smart-ass IT guys like me say that “The Cloud” is just a fancy way of saying “Your data is on someone else’s computer”.  Everybody who has the data in “The Cloud” should take steps to maintain some level of control over their own data.

Cardboard Yoda

“Cardboard Yoda” is a series of posts which allows me to share some of the (*ahem*) “wisdom” I picked up through 40+ years of collecting… And which also allows me to repeatedly use this cartoon that I’m very pleased with, thank you very much.

If the website goes down, goes out of business, is overrun by the undead  or gets bought by someone who’s only interested in the “intellectual property”, you should have an alternate plan.

To illustrate my point, allow me to temporarily bore you with my own story…  Younger readers can at least laugh at the horse-and-buggy technology involved.

I’ve been using software to track my inventory for over 20 years… The original software I used (The Card Collector) came with checklist data installed, plus you could buy quarterly updates on a CD.  It worked great for most sets, because rather than having a list of numbers you needed (1974 Topps:  14, 17, 18, 24, etc. etc.), you could generate reports that also gave you the player, the team, whether it was a rookie card, plus a “book value” that I always took with a big ol’ grain of salt.   The software wasn’t quite as nice with newer sets, because you’d sometimes have the cards for months before you got the CD update which contained information for that set.

Then in the mid-to-late 1990’s came a package called WinCards.

Side note:  Isn’t it funny how quickly names with “Win” or “2000” in them have gone from “cutting edge” to dated?  Anyway…

WinCards had a lot of nice features, but what got me to switch over to it was a subscription service that would let you download set information as soon as the data became available.  By 1990’s standards, this was FREAKIN’ AWESOME!!!!

You’ve likely never heard of WinCards;  that’s because they went out of business a dozen years ago.  Because I had much of my inventory in the software, I kept using WinCards to track those older sets.

…Until the sad day when I replaced my computer and found out that WinCards would not run on Windows7, no matter how many tricks I played.  Fortunately I still had an old computer lying around that ran Windows NT, so I moved WinCards over to that computer and it became a system dedicated to WinCards.  I dumped each set’s information into a CSV (Comma-Separated Value) file, moved the CSV over to my current computer, and then manually upload them into the Access database I’d created.  It’s a fair amount  of work, and is a task that’s still underway, but it was better than starting from scratch.

Just like WinCards was an awesome idea that didn’t last, at some point “The Cloud” will seem as dated as quarterly updates on a CD-ROM… and if you value your data at all – and more importantly, the work you put into generating that data – you need to have a fallback plan.

Now that I’m done building up the potential problem, I’m going to leave you without a concrete solution.  It completely depends on the website you’re using and what utilities they have to download your data to your own computer.  The important thing is to get some version of your data on a computer that you control… Even if the only thing available to you is generating downloadable reports, it’s better than nothing, which is what you’d have if the website shuts down without any notice.

I don’t mean to be alarmist about this, and I don’t want to come across like your local TV news trying to suck you into watching the 6pm news (“Could refractors be making your family sick?  The surprising answer, next!”)… but if I didn’t have that old computer, I would’ve been screwed… and I wouldn’t want to see something like that happen to any of you.

Perhaps the One Thing I’ll Miss About Derek Jeter…

…Is making unflattering customs of His Jeterness.

Like this one:
2014 TSR #300 Derek Jeter

…or this one from the 2012 TSR set.
2012 TSR Custom Derek Jeter

Mets fans like me will clearly have to make some adjustments.  I mean, Chipper’s gone.  Jeter will be gone.  What’s a Mets fan to do?  Whom shall I mock?  Whom shall I regard with disdain?

Sorry, Bryce Harper fans.  Looks like your boy’s next.
2014 TSR #600 Bryce Harper

2012 Card #18 - Highlight Harper

The Affiliation Shuffle Of 2014

As a fan of minor league baseball, one of my favorite behind-the-scenes dramas plays out every two years when the Player Development Contract (PDC) between MLB teams and minor league teams can expire.

Of course, most teams won’t change their affiliations either because the minor league team is owned by the MLB team (i.e. most of the Braves system) or because the PDC is already extended past 2014.

This is also the time of year that drives me nuts because there are all kinds of misconceptions about how this works.  If the Giants switch their AAA team from Fresno to Sacramento (as is rumored), they won’t physically move a team from one city to another, and won’t leave Fresno without a team.  It would only mean that the Sacramento River Cats will get their players and field staff from the Giants instead of the A’s, and the Fresno Grizzlies will get their players from some other organization.

2013 Heritage Minor League Gary Brown

The MLB teams only have so much control over where their farm teams are… The Blue Jays can’t just decide to put a AAA team in Montreal, for example.  There has to be an existing International League team that can and wants to move there, there has to be a suitable facility to play in, and so on.

I feel I should mention that the shuffle will not affect many of you.  There will be no changes for the farm teams of the Orioles, Nationals, Cardinals, Yankees, Marlins, Royals or Phillies, as all of those teams have their affiliates locked up beyond 2014.

Getting on to the fun, here are some of the more interesting stories that will play out starting this week…

In AAA, you have a couple of unusual factors at play…  The Oklahoma City RedHawks are being sold to a group with Dodger ties, and the Nashville Sounds are getting a new ballpark at the same time that their affiliation with the Brewers expires.

2010 Topps Pro Debut Justin Smoak

If you take the rumor mill seriously, the first round of musical chairs would have the Dodgers going to OKC, the Giants going to Sacramento and the A’s taking advantage of that new ballpark in Nashville.  Assuming that Pawtucket is going to stay with the Red Sox (even though that agreement doesn’t seem to be officially renewed just yet), you’ll have Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, Fresno and possibly Tacoma on the market, while the Rockies, Brewers, Astros and possibly Mariners are looking for a AAA home.

The Dodgers may be on the move in AA as well.
2013 Heritage Minor League Joc Pederson
The AA situation is always a bit difficult for west coast teams.  Because AA baseball is made up of the Eastern, Southern and Texas Leagues, there are only a handful of AA teams west of the Mississippi, and the westernmost AA team is in Midland, TX.  I’ve heard that, since the Dodgers can’t have their AA team near LA, they want their AA team closer to their new AAA team, which might mean leaving the Chattanooga Lookouts for the Tulsa Drillers.

One way or the other, the Brewers will have their AA team in a new city in 2015, as the Huntsville Stars are moving to Biloxi, MS… so even if they extend their PDC, Brewer fans will have to get used to prospects playing in Biloxi.  On the other hand, the Huntsville/Biloxi team also has that “We’ve got a new ballpark and no PDC” situation, so there might be some scuffling over that team.
2013 Topps Pro Debut Scooter Gennett

The AA teams without a current PDC are Chattanooga, Erie, Biloxi, Midland, Mobile, Montgomery, New Britain and Tulsa, and the MLB organizations in play are the Dodgers, Tigers, Brewers, A’s, D-Backs, Rays, Twins and Rockies.

Naturally, the same type of thing is going on in Single-A and Rookie ball, but I’ll admit that I don’t know as much about the goings-on at those levels.  Mets fans will want to know that the team’s ties to the Savannah Sand Gnats and Kingsport Mets are currently uncertain.

There is some buzz that the Cubs could be leaving their High-A team in Daytona, which would be an interesting move.  The Cubs and Daytona have been paired up for 22 years, and the Daytona Cubs would obviously have to change their name if their parent club changed.

Negotiations between teams will begin this coming week, and will continue until October 7th.  If there’s anybody left standing after the game of Musical Chairs, then arranged marriages will take place.

Does anybody live near a minor league team that could be changing affiliation?  What’s the word on the street about what will happen next?

…And That’s When My Inner Mom Said “Don’t Waste Your Money On That, We’ve Got Police Sets At Home!”

I had another lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-ong week at work, and I decided on Friday that I was due some sort of reward for my pain and suffering. I had intended to stop by Target on the way home, but that’s when my Inner Mom spoke up.

I suppose one could call it “The Voice Of Reason”, but my voice tends to see through my excuses and throws in a dollop of guilt, so I consider it more my “Inner Mom”.

And Inner Mom was right… There was no reason to buy anything because I had plenty of unopened and un-perused material sitting on my dining room table. (We don’t entertain much, can you guess?)

Because an August Night Owl post about Dodger Police Sets reignited my interest in such sets, when I got home I grabbed a 1991 Dodgers Police Set that I’ve had for a couple of years. This is one of three Police sets I bought from a dealer with a “All items $1″ table, and I bought all three as an attempt to pick up some cheap oddballs.

As a lifelong Mets fan, what drew me to the 1991 Dodger set (other than the general “30 oddballs for a buck” thing) was the fact that it had a certain Mr. Darryl Strawberry on top.
1991 Dodgers Police Set Darryl Strawberry
Incidentally, my scanner likes to overexpose its subjects, so this card is a shade lighter here than it is in person… and they might be closer to what was originally intended because a lot of the printed cards have dark photos, and the text in the scans is closer to Dodger Blue than what’s on the actual cards.

Darryl may be what sucked me in to this set, but my $1 became well-spent as soon as I saw this lovely Gary Carter card.
1991 Dodgers Police Set Gary Carter
“Come for the Strawberry, stay for the Carter”.

Incidentally, 1991 was Carter’s sole year in Dodger Blue before he went back to Montreal for a victory lap.

…And as long as we’re featuring nice cards of 1991 Dodger catchers, I’ll go ahead and share this beauty as well:
1991 Dodgers Police Set Barry Lyons
Barry Lyons also falls into the category of “ex-Mets”, but the card is here because it’s visually one of the best cards of the set. Barry was pretty much a backup his entire career, but his Dodger career consisted of 12 games and 14 AB’s over the end of the 1990 season and the beginning of 1991.

I might as well finish off the catchers… Here’s that Angels manager guy.
1991 Dodgers Police Set Mike Scioscia
Given how the 2014 Angels have shot past the Athletics and gone from a few games over .500 to the best record in the Majors, I would have to think that Scioscia is in the discussion for A.L. Manager Of The Year.

One cannot discuss a 1980’s or 1990’s Dodgers team without bringing up Orel Hershiser… His Cy Young/All-Star days may have been behind him at this point, but he’s still Orel F. Hershiser.
1991 Dodgers Police Set Orel Hershiser
…and he pitched for the Mets in 1999, but that’s not why he’s here.

…Just like I’d feature Eddie Murray because he’s Eddie Freakin’ Murray, and not because he played for the Mets in 1992 and 1993.
1991 Dodgers Police Set Eddie Murray
BTW, this is a good example of the dark photos that plague much of this set.

Brett Butler lead the league in numerous categories in 1991, including Runs and Walks. He was also an All-Star and got some MVP votes.
1991 Dodgers Police Set Brett Butler
Psst, he played for the Mets in 1995…

John Candalaria had a fine career, but maybe not up to the expectations from 1977 when he lead the league in ERA as a 23-year-old.
1991 Dodgers Police Set John Candelaria
…and he had three starts for the Mets in 1995.

What the heck, if any Mets fans are interested in this set by now, it also features Lenny Harris, Bob Ojeda, Juan (spit on the ground every time his name gets mentioned) Samuel, Dennis Cook and Jose Offerman.

What better way to wrap up this post than by sharing the “Coaches”, including my close personal friend Tommy Lasorda along with Bill Russell, Joe Almalfitano, Manny Mota, Ron Perranoski, Ben Hines, Mark Cresse and Joe Ferguson.

1991 Dodgers Police Set Coaches

OK, Tommy Lasorda and I are not exactly friends, but we hung out together… Well, it was more like he walked past me at the 2012 National

Lasorda at National

Pack Animal! – 2009 BBM 1st Version

I bought a bunch of Japanese baseball packs at the 2012 National (as some of you may remember), and I’ve been slowly going through them. The latest pack is 2009 BBM 1st Version. Here’s the pack front:
2009 BBM 1st Version Pack

The ‘e’, ‘s’ and ‘o’ in ‘Version’ look sort of blueish gray in the scan, but they’re just ink-free letters that let the silvery wrapper plastic show through.  It’s only slightly easier to read than what the scan shows.

Unlike some of the previous packs I’ve opened, this wrapper seems less foil-like and more like the mylar we all know and love.  Here’s the back, English readers need not apply:
2009 BBM 1st Version Back

…So let’s, as the pack says, enjoy 2009 professional baseball with BBM Cards!

First card, Hideaki Wakui of the Lions.
2009 BBM 1st Version Hideaki Wakui
The design is pretty nice, but almost too subtle.  The cards have a nice gloss to them.

Here’s the back of the Wakui card:
2009 BBM 1st Version Hideaki Wakui back

Hey, look, I got a Tanaka! …Not the Yankees’ Tanaka, though…
2009 BBM 1st Version Hiroyasu Tanaka

Nice candid shot of Kyoshi Toyoda.
2009 BBM 1st Version Kiyoshi Toyoda
I’m going to officially have an issue with these cards, because I have a hard time reading the unfamiliar names, especially the first name.

Oh, look, a rookie card!  A Japanese rookie card from five years ago almost guarantees that it’s not somebody who will have graced these shores with our presence.
2009 BBM 1st Version Itaru Hashimoto

Someone more familiar NPB can feel free to correct me, but I seem to remember that each team uses one set of uniform numbers between their NPB team and their AAA equivalent, so if someone gets called up from the minors, they pretty much keep the same uniform (at least within a particular season). That might be why Hashimoto is wearing #94, and I think that’s also why you sometimes see coaches, batting practice pitcheres and the like wearing numbers over 99.

This card also gives us a good look at how the Giants’ batting helmet has a matte finish and the logo is made of flocking that’s glued to the helmet.  Fun stuff.

Rookie of the year preview! That’s a decent-looking card…
2009 BBM 1st Version Rookie Preview Yuta Kimura

Another nice shot.
2009 BBM 1st Version Shinjiro Hiyama
I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve long been a fan of the Tigers caps & helmets when they have the yellow bill and “H”.  Having two different colors in the cap logo is something I think should be done more, only the Twins currently do it in MLB (off the top of my head).

Allllriiiiiiight! Gaijin Time!
2009 BBM 1st Version Dicky Gonzalez
And it’s Dicky Gonzalez, a former Met (for one season). Dicky is a 9-year NPB veteran, but his last statistics are for the Marines last season. Hurt? Retired? Dunno.

I love this card, it’s so Japanese.
2009 BBM 1st Version Last Appearance Kazuhiro Kiyhohara
What do you think would happen if a bunch of Yankees were to toss Derek Jeter in the air? I’d love to find out.

To be honest, I’d be happy if, in Jeter’s last trip to a city, he got the kind of “going away” celebration that you or I would get.  You know, a sheet cake from Kroger, maybe get taken to Applebee’s for lunch.  But no, now everybody’s obligated to give him a gift that looks like it was a “Showcase” on The Price Is Right.

…But I digress…

I still have a few more of these random Japanese packs, and I should pick up the pace a little bit so that I can get through them before the 2016 National in Atlantic City (the next one I have a reasonable chance of attending).


1976 SSPC #63 – Cesar Cedeno (Astros)

1976 SSPC #63 Cesar Cedeno

Cesar Cedeno… was a five-tool player who made his Major League debut as a 19-year-old in 1970. He played 17 years, 12 with the Astros, was a four-time All-Star, five-time Golden Glove, lead the NL in doubles in 1971 and 1972 and holds the Astros team record with 487 stolen bases.

In 1976, Cesar Cedeno… was an All-Star, won a Gold Glove, batted .297, scored 89 runs and had 83 RBI.

Betcha didn’t know… that Cedeno holds five of the top 10 spots in the Astros’ “Stolen Bases by season” chart.

Shea-o-meter: Many of the photos in 1976 SSPC were taken in Shea Stadium; Every team came through Shea because the Yankees were temporarily playing in Shea while Yankee Stadium was being renovated. “Can two Major League teams share a ballpark without driving each other crazy?”

This photo goes down as “Shea”.
Shea: 45
Pretty sure it’s Shea: 7
Can’t tell: 10
Not Shea: 6

1976 SSPC #63 Cesar Cedeno back