Monday, September 30, 2013

11 Spots to Go in the Group Break

Go here to sign up.

I need a lot of help.  If I can't sell enough spots, I may not be able to do this, so if you know anyone who is a fan of any of the remaining teams, please pass this along.

Lots of spots still available.  Once again, I am opening 1 jumbo box of 2013 Topps Update, 1 hobby box of 2013 Panini Golden Age, and 1 hobby box of Topps Chrome.  I need 11 more teams to be claimed.  Only the Red Sox, Mariners, Indians, and White Sox are off the table so far.

Final Series of the Regular Season

The last series of the season came in Baltimore, the same place the 2011 season ended, but this one was decidedly more positive even though Boston lost two out of three.

09/27: Red Sox 12 (97-63) Orioles 3
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
DANIEL NAVA and DAVID ORTIZ: both 2 for 5, 3 run home run, single, 2 runs.

09/28: Orioles 6 Red Sox 5 (97-64)
Boston's bullpen may be a problem in the postseason.  This one was blown by Franklin Morales and Junichi Tazawa.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
DANIEL NAVA: 4 for 4, run.

09/29: Orioles 7 Red Sox 6 (97-65)
This time it was Felix Doubront and Matt Thornton who blew the lead and Rubby De La Rosa took the loss.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
QUINTIN BERRY: 2 for 4, 2 run home run, stolen base.

So that's it for the regular season.  Boston finished with the best record in the league, tied with the Cardinals for best overall.  Despite that they will not feature a top 5 finisher in the MVP or Cy Young, while Jose Iglesias, who played half of the year with the Red Sox, will finish in the running for Rookie of the Year.

Red Sox lead the league in the following:
Plate Appearances - Dustin Pedroia 724
Stolen Bases - Jacoby Ellsbury 52
Hit by Pitch - Shane Victorino 18
Intentional Walks - David Ortiz 27

Saturday, September 28, 2013

12 Spots Still to Go in the Group Break

Go here to sign up.

Lots of spots still available.  Once again, I am opening 1 jumbo box of 2013 Topps Update, 1 hobby box of 2013 Panini Golden Age, and 1 hobby box of Topps Chrome.  I need 12 more teams to be claimed.  Only the Red Sox, Mariners, and Indians are off the table so far.

Friday, September 27, 2013

More Wantlist Hits

This was another trade that knocked off some cards from my wantlist:
1.  2005 Absolute Memorabilia Retail David Ortiz.  Not technically one of the cards I needed, but I will take it and cross off a card from my list with it anyway.

2.  2012 Finest Adrian Gonzalez.  I have said it several times, I still love getting A-Gon cards.

3.  2012 Finest Josh Beckett.

4.  2005 Absolute Memorabilia Curt Schilling.

5.  2005 Diamond Kings Manny Ramirez.

6.  1998 Collector's Choice Nomar Garciaparra.  And with this, I can cross off the 1998 Collector's Choice team set.

7.  2012 Finest Jacoby Ellsbury.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Still Looking for More Participants on the Group Break

Go here to sign up.

Lots of spots still available.  Once again, I am opening 1 jumbo box of 2013 Topps Update, 1 hobby box of 2013 Panini Golden Age, and 1 hobby box of Topps Chrome.  I need 12 more teams to be claimed.  Only the Red Sox, Mariners, and Indians are off the table so far.

Package Full of Wantlist Hits

I have been trying to focus on knocking some stuff off of my wantlist lately.  That is kind of my main goal these days.  So if anyone else out there can help me hit a couple of these I would really appreciate it.  My wantlist is linked on the side.

Anyway, I traded a few cards for this large number of stuff off of my list:
1.  2009 Topps Heritage Ramon Ramirez.  This was actually on my Top Ten Most Wanted, so I am really thrilled to add it.  The 2009 Heritage team set has been very elusive.  Ramirez was acquired for Coco Crisp and gave the Red Sox one pretty good year in the bullpen.

2.  1987 Donruss Bill Buckner.

3.  1994 Fleer Scott Cooper.

4.  1994 Fleer Rob Deer.  Deer was only a Red Sox for part of one season but it made a big impact on me when I was a kid.  Deer was one of the cards in my first 1991 Topps pack.

5.  1994 Fleer Mike Greenwell.

6.  1994 Fleer Frank Viola.

7.  1995 Fleer John Valentin.

8.  1998 Collector's Choice Dennis Eckersley.

9.  1998 Collector's Choice Mo Vaughn.  A nice card that I am sure Nick of Dime Box Cards would like.
10.  1998 Collector's Choice Pedro Martinez.

11.  1998 Collector's Choice Troy O'Leary.

12.  2000 Topps Stars Troy O'Leary.  I am not sure why he is wearing #2 on this card.  If I did not know better I would be sure this was Damon Buford on this card.

13.  2000 Greats of the Game Dennis Eckersley.  Eckersley has been a big focus lately.  Why?  I have no idea, but I like action shots of him because he had such a unique style.

14.  2000 Greats of the Game Carl Yastrzemski.

15.  2003 Topps Retired Carl Yastrzemski.  Another card Nick would like.

16.  2004 Topps Retired Bill Buckner.  I actually had the autographed version of this first.  Weird.

17.  2005 Topps Retired Dennis Eckersley.  Another nice Eck card with the Red Sox.

Quick Rockies Series

09/24: Rockies 8 Red Sox 3 (95-63)
John Lackey gave up three home runs and Boston's offense stalled against Tyler Chatwood.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered late in the game making it a bit closer than it would have been.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
JARROD SALTALAMACCHIA:  1 for 4, 2 run home run.

09/25: Red Sox 15 (96-63) Rockies 5
Jake Peavy was a little rocky but got the job done in Todd Helton's final home game with the Rockies.  Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks combined for three home runs.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
WILL MIDDLEBROOKS:  2 for 5, 2 home runs (grand slam), 7 RBIs.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Who Wants to Do a Group Break?

I am kicking around the idea of doing one with a couple of boxes.  This is my first attempt at this so I really hope it is successful.  I have been unable to buy any hobby boxes lately and I am trying to buy a house so my available funds are lower than usual.  I figure the best way to get some boxes would be to open up a group break here to help out on costs.  Obviously I would get the Red Sox but I will sell 14 other slots.  Each person will get two teams with the second team being assigned randomly using Randomizer.

This is what I will be breaking:
1 jumbo box of 2013 Topps Update (10 packs per box, 50 cards per pack, 1 auto, 2 relics, 500 total cards).
1 hobby box of 2013 Panini Golden Age (24 packs per box, 6 cards per pack, 1 auto, 1 relic, 1 mini per pack, 1 box-topper, non-baseball cards will be randomly assigned using Randomizer).
1 hobby box of 2013 Topps Chrome (24 packs per box, 4 cards per pack)

I am asking for $15.00 per slot.  For less than the price of a retail blaster, you will receive all of the cards from two teams out of three hobby boxes.

The way this will work is as follows:
1.  Comment here first and claim your team.  After 14 teams are claimed I will assign the other 15 teams randomly to those who have made claims using Randomizer so each person will get two teams.
2.  Submit your payment using Paypal (please mark it as a gift).  My paypal address is brad_ewalt AT yahoo DOT com.
3.  Email me at shadowking86 AT gmail DOT com and tell me the blog name you used to claim your team, the email address you sent payment from, and which team you claimed.

I will update the teams as they are paid for.

Here are the teams available:
Arizona Diamondbacks -
Atlanta Braves -
Baltimore Orioles - I Don't Know...3rd Base (paid)
Boston Red Sox - Red Sox Fan in Nebraska (paid)
Chicago Cubs -
Chicago White Sox - JediJeff (paid)
Cincinnati Reds -
Cleveland Indians - Baseball Dad (paid)
Colorado Rockies -
Detroit Tigers - I Don't Know...3rd Base (paid)
Houston Astros -
Kansas City Royals -
Los Angeles Angels -
Los Angeles Dodgers - Baseball Dad (paid)
Miami Marlins -
Milwaukee Brewers -
Minnesota Twins -
New York Mets -
New York Yankees -
Oakland Athletics -
Philadelphia Phillies - Amy (paid)
Pittsburgh Pirates -
St. Louis Cardinals -
San Diego Padres -
San Francisco Giants -
Seattle Mariners - The Junior Junkie (paid)
Tampa Bay Rays - Dean (paid)
Texas Rangers - I Don't Know...3rd Base (paid)
Toronto Blue Jays -
Washington Nationals -

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Another Mail Call with a Package from the Other Brad's Blog

Several days' worth of stuff to go through with lots of nice cards to show:

Up first is a small trade for a few prospects/rookies:
1.  2013 Bowman Platinum Prospects Allen Webster.  Webster was acquired in last season's blockbuster trade with the Dodgers and pitched a few games for Boston this year.  He struggled in the Majors but pitched well enough in the minors to show he still has some potential.

2.  2012 Bowman Prospects Purple Keith Couch.  Couch has flown under the radar to this point but next season he should be in Pawtucket for good and could be next year's Brandon Workman.

3.  2013 Bowman Platinum Prospects Chrome Deven Marrero.  One of the reasons Boston felt comfortable trading Jose Iglesias is Marrero, who is almost as good in the field and better at the plate.

The next trade was one that I worked out with Brad the Phillies blogger.  He was offering up some sepia refractors and I liked a couple of them.
4.  2012 Topps Chrome Sepia Refractor Will Middlebrooks RC.  Middlebrooks is growing very fast in my collection.

5.  2012 Topps Chrome Sepia Refractor Clay Buchholz.  He finally lost the other day but looks to be a pretty decent #3 starter in the postseason.

6.  2012 Topps Allen & Ginter Mini Framed Relic Clay Buchholz.  I have been getting more and more Buchholz cards lately too.

7.  2000 UD Ionix Nomar Garciaparra.  One of three new cards that were throw-ins in the trade.

8.  1989 Swell Baseball Greats Jimmy Piersall.  A fantastic defensive outfielder in the 1950's who had some emotional problems in his career which were well-documented.

9.  1989 Swell Baseball Greats Jim Lonborg.  Boston's first Cy Young winner in 1967.

Up next is a card I have been looking for for a very long time:
10.  2003 Topps 205 Relics Derek Lowe.  This was a short-printed relic card in Topps 205, a set that I loved.  I always wanted this game-used hat card of the longtime Red Sox pitcher but was not successful until last week.

Another small trade that knocked a non-specific want off of my wantlist:
11.  2012 Bowman Chrome Blue Wave Refractor Raul Alcantara.  I have traded away all of the Blue Wave refractors I got for free on the Bowman interactive game this year and really wanted a Red Sox to take their place.  I got this in a small trade.  Alcantara was traded to Oakland in the Andrew Bailey trade.

Finally I traded my Trevor Bauer autograph for two nice autos:
12.  2009 Topps 206 Framed Autograph Piedmont Justin Masterson.  I was not thrilled when Masterson was traded to Cleveland, but at least it resulted in Victor Martinez coming to Boston.  It was not a bad trade.

13.  2012 Topps Chrome Ryan Lavarnway.  Another autograph of the up and coming catcher.  He could be in line for more work next season.  He has a lot of power and a degree from Yale.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Last Series at Home

09/20:  Red Sox 6 (94-61) Blue Jays 3
Boston clinched the AL East with this win.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
JON LESTER:  7 innings, 5 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts.

09/21:  Blue Jays 4 Red Sox 2 (94-62)
Clay Buchholz lost for the first time all year as Boston had trouble solving Mark Buehrle.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
STEPHEN DREW:  2 for 4, run.

09/22:  Red Sox 5 (95-62) Blue Jays 2
Felix Doubront was successful in his return to the rotation and David Ortiz and Jackie Bradley, Jr. homered.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
JACKIE BRADLEY, JR.:  1 for 3, 3 run home run.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Red Sox in Cooperstown Pt. 11: Rick Ferrell

RICK FERRELL
Years with Boston: 1933-1937 (.302/.394/.410, 16 home runs, 240 RBIs)
Best Year in Boston: 1936 (.312/.406/.461, 8 home runs, 55 RBIs, 65 walks, 17 strikeouts)
Rick Ferrell is one of the more controversial selections for the Baseball Hall of Fame.  He was not a bad hitter for a catcher, in fact he was probably one of the better contact-hitting catchers of the time.  But he was not all that special either.  It is more likely that he was a great defensive catcher, but his statistics do not really show that much either.  Ferrell's career numbers reflect a .281/.378/.363 line, which is decent, other than the slugging percentage, for a catcher.

Ferrell's numbers with Boston though are fairly impressive.  His .302/.394/.410 line is strong for a catcher, though a lot of this could be attributed to playing in a hitters' park.  Ferrell was one of the early stars that Tom Yawkey picked up upon buying the franchise and trying to turn it around.  He was the first of four eventual Hall of Famers Yawkey acquired.  Ferrell made an immediate impact on the team with his contact-hitting ability and high on-base percentages.  He also rarely struck out.  The most Ferrell struck out in any one season was 23.  He typically walked three times more often than he struck out.  Ferrell was an All Star three times with the Red Sox.  He lead the league in 1935 with a 59% caught stealing percentage and typically was high among the league leaders.

Ferrell was a decent catcher for his time period, but his selection to the Hall of Fame is controversial.  His seasons in Boston definitely increase his career numbers to more tolerable levels, but despite his often high on-base percentages, Ferrell had very little power.  His career high in home runs was just eight.  Ferrell is wearing a Red Sox cap on his plaque in Cooperstown.

Boston Clinches the AL East

Congratulations to the Red Sox.  All I can say is that this picture needs to appear on a Jonny Gomes card in the future.

O's Continue to Frustrate Boston

09/17:  Orioles 3 Red Sox 2 (92-60)
Koji Uehara faltered thanks to former Red Sox Danny Valencia who has owned them this year.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
DUSTIN PEDROIA:  1 for 4, home run.

09/18:  Orioles 5 Red Sox 3 (92-61)
Again the Orioles beat Boston late as Chris Davis hit a two-run single in the 11th.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
JAKE PEAVY:  7 innings, 6 hits, 3 earned runs, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts.

09/19:  Red Sox 3 (93-61) Orioles 1
With this victory, Boston clinched a playoff spot.  John Lackey pitched into the seventh inning with a no-hitter.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
JOHN LACKEY:  9 innings, 2 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts, Win.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Middlebrooks Mailday

Just one card today, but it is a pretty neat one:
1.  2013 Bowman Platinum Cracked Ice Ruby Will Middlebrooks.  I like these parallels.  The sapphire ones are a little nicer than the ruby ones personally, but this is a nice-looking card.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Unknown Heroes Before My Time Pt. 11: Mike Andrews

Boston has not historically developed a lot of good second-basemen.  Bobby Doerr was not technically developed by the Red Sox.  Beyond him, the most well-known include Marty Barrett, Jody Reed, and Dustin Pedroia, with Pedroia the only All Star.  Mike Andrews is a fourth second-baseman and, like Pedroia, Andrews was an All Star.

Mike Andrews came up with the Red Sox in the mid-1960's.  He flew by under the radar because he came up at the same time as Jim Lonborg, Rico Petrocelli, George Scott, and Reggie Smith and while Carl Yastrzemski and Tony Conigliaro were becoming stars.  So few noticed that the second-baseman was a pretty good contact hitter.

Andrews was a rookie in 1967.  That season he hit .263/.346/.352 with eight home runs and 40 RBIs.  He walked almost as much as he struck out and played good defense.  In 1968 his numbers increased somewhat, but it was 1969 when Andrews really came into his own.  That was his All Star season as he hit .293/.390/.455 with 15 home runs and 59 RBIs.  Impressive numbers for a middle infielder at the time.  He hit 17 home runs and drove in 65 in 1970, but his slash line was not as good.

Andrews was traded to the White Sox before the 1971 season for future Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio.  He had a good season in fewer games in 1971.  In 1972 he started to decline and eventually found himself in Oakland in 1973 when he played for the eventual World Champs.  Andrews was briefly famous when A's owner Charlie Finley attempted to replace him on the World Series roster after making back-to-back errors.  Finley tried to force him to sign an affidavit claiming he was injured to replace him with Manny Trillo.  The problem was that Andrews was not injured and he refused to sign the affidavit.  Teammates were upset and manager Dick Williams decided to quit the A's after the season.  Andrews was eventually released by Finley and never played in the Majors again.

Mike Andrews has been the CEO of the Jimmy Fund for the last 25 years.

Mail Call!

Just two packages to show off here, neither one of them terribly big.

This first one is for a couple of '13 A&G minis, a couple of infielders:
1.  2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Mini Black Border Bobby Doerr.  Hall of Fame second baseman.  Some have said that his numbers make him a borderline case, and that is possibly true, but he also missed some time due to service in WWII and retired young due to back problems.  Even so, he was a terrific offensive second-baseman.

2.  2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Mini Black Border Will Middlebrooks.  Middlebrooks has been hitting very well of late, though he has stumbled a bit in recent games.  He could turn into a star yet.

The next trade had me sending a game-used card of Erik Bedard for 15 inserts/parallels.  I felt pretty good about it, especially since eight of them were Red Sox.
3.  2011 Topps Chrome Refractor Kevin Youkilis.  I was shorted this card in an earlier trade and I hate it when that happens.  

4.  2012 Topps Update Target Red Kelly Shoppach.  Shoppach, in his second tour of duty with Boston, played well but got caught up in the scandal involving Bobby Valentine and was traded off.

5.  2012 Topps 1987 Mini Jon Lester.  Lester is re-emerging as an ace of the Red Sox staff.

6.  2005 Playoff Prestigious Pros Orange Manny Ramirez.

7.  2008 Bowman Blue Manny Ramirez.

8.  2009 Topps Wal-Mart Black J.D. Drew.

9.  2012 Bowman Gold David Ortiz.  Ortiz is making a case for a Hall of Fame career.

10.  2011 Bowman Platinum Gold Carl Crawford.

Finally, here are the rest of the cards I got in this trade.  All of which are up for trade.  Let me know if there is anything you want:

This Time They Got It

After coming close to sweeping the Yankees in four games two weekends ago, Boston pulled off a three-game sweep of the Bombers at Fenway.

09/13:  Red Sox 8 (90-59) Yankees 4
After the bullpen squandered the lead given them by John Lackey, Jarrod Saltalamacchia came to the rescue.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
JARROD SALTALAMACCHIA:  2 for 3, 2 runs, grand slam home run.

09/14:  Red Sox 5 (91-59) Yankees 1
Jon Lester pitched a terrific game and the offense came through again.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
JON LESTER:  8 innings, 3 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, Win.

09/15:  Red Sox 9 (92-59) Yankees 2
Clay Buchholz continued to pitch well, despite some control problem.  Mike Napoli hit a bomb to center field and the Red Sox spoiled the last game at Fenway (hopefully) for Mariano Rivera.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
DANIEL NAVA:  4 for 5, run, RBI, 2 doubles.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Unknown Heroes Pt. 36: Pokey Reese

You have to love a player nicknamed "Pokey".  There are just not that many great nicknames in the Major Leagues anymore, but Pokey was one of the good ones.  It is particularly interesting because Pokey Reese had great speed.  Calvin was his real name but most cards of him after he made the Majors refer to him as Pokey.
Reese was actually acquired by the Red Sox twice.  In winter of 2001 he was traded from the Cincinnati Reds, where he spent his entire career to that point and was notably refused to be moved to Seattle in the Ken Griffey, Jr. trade, to the Colorado Rockies.  He never played a game for the Rockies and was traded to the Red Sox for Scott Hatteberg.  Both Reese and Hatteberg were non-tendered and both became free agents.  Reese eventually signed with Pittsburgh while Hatteberg went to the A's.  So he never played a game for the Red Sox in 2002.  After spending two years in Pittsburgh, Reese signed as a free agent with Boston for the 2004 season.
Reese was expected to be a backup to second-baseman Mark Bellhorn and shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, but due to injuries, found himself the starting shortstop on Opening Day.  Reese actually played more games at shortstop than anyone else on the team in 2004.  He played in 96 games but did not contribute much with the bat.  He hit just .221/.271/.303 with three home runs, including an inside-the-parker, and 29 RBIs with six stolen bases.
Reese was not much at the plate but he was a very gifted defensive player, and that was where most of his value came from.  Reese committed just seven errors all season and displayed exceptional range and a strong arm.  Even after Orlando Cabrera solidified the position, Reese was still brought in to play second or short late in games as a defensive replacement.
My enduring image of Reese was him making the final play in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees.  Ruben Sierra hit a groundball off of Alan Embree that was scooped up by Reese, who threw him out at first.  And the Red Sox celebrated.

Rays of Hope

Boston continues their streak toward the postseason by taking two out of three in Tampa Bay.

09/10: Red Sox 2 (88-58) Rays 0
Clay Buchholz came back from his injury, finally and the offense managed just enough to beat David Price.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
CLAY BUCHHOLZ:  5 innings, 3 hits, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts, Win.

09/11:  Red Sox 7 (89-58) Rays 3
Mike Carp connected for a pinch-hit grand slam to win the game after the bullpen failed to hold the lead.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
MIKE CARP:  Pinch-hit grand slam home run.

09/12:  Rays 4 Red Sox 3 (89-59)
After tying the game, Boston could not capitalize and the Rays took the final game.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
JARROD SALTALAMACCHIA:  1 for 3, 2 runs, RBI, home run, stolen base.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Season in Review: 2007

2004 was an absolutely awesome season.  Of course that was the year Boston won its first World Championship since 1918.  But as great as that 2004 season was, 2007 was an absolutely dominating performance by the Red Sox.  They were a wire-to-wire first-place team, finishing with a record of 96-66 and then continuing that mastery into the postseason.  They swept the Angels in the ALDS, beat the Indians in seven games in the ALCS and utterly dominated the Rockies in the World Series in four games.

FIVE FAVORITE PLAYERS
Jason Varitek
After a terrible 2006 season, Jason Varitek was back in 2007.  He hit .255/.367/.421 with 17 home runs and 68 RBIs.  He also had a fine season behind the plate and hit .333 in the World Series.

David Ortiz
His power numbers were down a little bit in 2007, but he still lead the team with 35 home runs and was second with 117 RBIs.  He also had a career high with a .332 batting average and had a line of .332/.445/.621.  He was an All Star, won a Silver Slugger, and finished fourth in the MVP race.

Manny Ramirez
His finest moment in the 2007 season was hitting a walk-off three-run home run in Game 2 of the ALDS.  Ramirez was hurt for awhile and ended up the season hitting .296/.388/.493 with 20 home runs and 88 RBIs.

Josh Beckett
After a rough first season in Boston, Josh Beckett was one of the best pitchers in the league in 2007.  He lead the league in wins, was an All Star and finished second in the Cy Young vote, which he might have won if he had pitched more innings.  He finished 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA and 194 strikeouts.  And the best was yet to come in the postseason.

Mike Lowell
Lowell was a beast in 2007.  He hit .324/.378/.501 with 21 home runs and 120 RBIs in his best overall season as a Major Leaguer.  He was an All Star, finished fifth in the MVP vote and should have won a Gold Glove.  He was that good in 2007.

HONORABLE MENTIONS
Curt Schilling
2007 was Schilling's final active Major League season and he went out on a high note.  He was just 9-8 but had a 3.87 ERA and struck out 101 versus 23 walks in 151 innings.

Jonathan Papelbon
The most enduring image of the 2007 season is Papelbon's celebration after striking Seth Smith to clinch the World Championship.  He had another dominating season as a closer: 1-3, 1.85 ERA, 84 strikeouts in 54.1 innings, and 37 saves.

Kevin Youkilis
Youkilis won the Gold Glove in 2007 at first base and had his first really good season by hitting .288/.390/.453 with 16 home runs and 83 RBIs.

Tim Wakefield
The venerable knuckleballer finished second on the team with 17 victories.  He pitched to a 4.27 ERA and racked up 189 innings as a very valuable member of the pitching staff.

FAVORITE ACQUISITIONS
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Dice-K was the most high-profile international acquisition Boston has ever brought in.  In 2007 at least, he was successful, going 15-12 with a 4.40 ERA and leading the team with 201 strikeouts in 204.2 innings.  He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year vote and surprised with a run-scoring hit in Game 3 of the World Series.

J.D. Drew
Drew was not great in 2007.  He was slightly above-average but he did hit .270/.373/.423 with 11 home runs and 64 RBIs.  But his grand slam home run in the ALCS was his defining moment as a Red Sox player.

FAVORITE MIDSEASON ACQUISITION
NONE

FAVORITE ROOKIE
Dustin Pedroia
Despite a brutal start to the season, Pedroia came on strong and ran away with the Rookie of the Year.  He hit .317/.380/.442 with eight home runs and 50 RBIs and hit a leadoff home run in Game 1 of the World Series.

Hideki Okajima
Okajima was the most-deceptive Red Sox pitcher since Luis Tiant.  He was a dominating southpaw setup man and was voted to the All Star game in the final vote.  He was 3-2 with a 2.22 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 69 innings.  He also saved five games.  Okajima finished sixth in the Rookie of the Year vote.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS
Julio Lugo
Lugo had been coveted by Boston for awhile.  Unfortunately he did not live up to his past numbers.  He was brutal in the field and only hit .237/.294/.349 with eight home runs and 73 RBIs.  He did lead the team with 33 stolen bases and hit well in the postseason.

Eric Gagne
Gagne was acquired from the Rangers for three players to solidify the bullpen.  It did not work out as he was just 2-2 with a 6.75 ERA and blew a few saves.

POSTSEASON HEROES
Josh Beckett
The ALCS MVP was 1-0 in the ALDS, 2-0 in the ALCS, and 1-0 in the World Series.  He gave up just four earned runs in the postseason and struck out 35 in 30 innings.

Mike Lowell
Lowell capped off his great regular season with the World Series MVP after hitting .400/.500/.800 with a home run, three doubles, four RBIs, and even a stolen base.

A Make-Up Trade

I mentioned yesterday that I bought a Mike Lowell jersey card after the first one that I seemingly acquired in a trade was apparently lost in the mail.  These are the replacement cards that I received from the trader who felt bad that I was not going to get the Lowell.
1.  2007 Topps Allen & Ginter Mini J.D. Drew.  I was in the minority.  I always liked Drew.  He was not the flashiest player, but he was solid.  I hate it when people say he was a free agent bust.  He provided five seasons of above-average production offensively and defensively.

2.  2007 Bowman Heritage Black Mike Lowell.  Another card of the World Series MVP.

3.  2009 Topps Turkey Red Daisuke Matsuzaka.  His contract was not a complete loss either.  He was terrible or hurt the final three years but he was very good the first two.

4.  2009 Topps Allen & Ginter Mini John Smoltz.  Now this was a bust.  Smoltz never looked comfortable in Boston.

5.  2008 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes Black Jacoby Ellsbury.  I hope he re-signs after this season.  He is a lot of fun to watch.

6.  2013 Topps Gold Ryan Sweeney.  A throw-in in the Andrew Bailey-Josh Reddick trade, he had a good start to 2012 but got hurt and was ineffective after that.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Couple of Lowell Jerseys

I have not been as enthusiastic about relics in recent years, but I still like to add them when I can.  Yesterday I received two cards in two packages, and they were both jersey cards of former third-baseman and 2007 World Series MVP Mike Lowell.
1.  2008 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes Jersey Gray Mike Lowell.  I was supposed to get this card in a trade but after a month and a half it looks like I will never get it.  I found it for sale somewhere else and bought it.

2.  2009 Upper Deck X Jersey Mike Lowell.  I bought this for a nickel on Ebay.  Yep, a nickel.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Sam Horn Mailday and a Grande Package of Nachos

It has been a little while since I had a mailday.  I have slowed down a little bit due to a busy work schedule and the fact that I am trying to buy a house.  Nevertheless, I received three packages in the mail yesterday.

Up first is a Star set of Sam Horn.  I will not go card by card on this, there is not a lot to say.  Sam Horn was a promising rookie prospect with a ton of power that came up in 1987.  He hit 14 home runs that first season with a line of .278/.356/.589 in just 46 games.  Unfortunately his next two stints with the Red Sox were not nearly as impressive.  He hit only two more home runs in Boston over the next two seasons and at age 25 was released.  He caught on with Baltimore and started hitting a bunch of home runs again but he was never really the slugger everyone thought he would be.


The next one is a trade package with Nachos Grande.  I noticed he had a few Red Sox A&G cards I needed and asked to set up a trade.
12.  1998 Collector's Choice Jeff Frye.  Included in the package were some throw-ins, a couple of which I did not previously own.  I like the shot of Frye.  Frye was a very underrated and valuable member of the Red Sox in the late 1990's.  He played a number of positions, had speed, and was a good contact hitter.  

13.  1998 Collector's Choice Tom Gordon.  "Flash" had a terrific season as the Red Sox closer in 1998, setting a team record for saves and going to the All Star Game.  Unfortunately that did not hold up in the postseason.

14.  2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Carlton Fisk SP.  Of course Fisk was the subject of one of the greatest Red Sox moments of all time.

15.  2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Bill Buckner.  And then Buckner was one of the worst.

16.  2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Across the Years Dustin Pedroia.  

17.  2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Across the Years Ted Williams.

Thanks Chris!

And finally, I have the following small trade package:
18.  2013 Bowman Platinum Jacoby Ellsbury.  Hopefully his injury is nothing too serious.  Boston needs him healthy for the postseason.

19.  2012 Bowman Prospects Xander Bogaerts.  He hit his first Major League home run over the weekend against the Yankees.  Should be a starter next year.

20.  2013 Topps Wal-Mart Blue Felix Doubront.  He has been struggling of late, he better get back on the right track.

21.  2013 Topps Wal-Mart Blue Koji Uehara.  What a year he is having.  He is the unsung hero of this team.  I really think he should get MVP and Cy Young consideration, but he probably won't.

22.  2013 Topps Gypsy Queen White Border Carlton Fisk.  More Fisk.

23.  2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Mini Bill Buckner.  And more Buckner too.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

1991 Topps #474 Phil Plantier

In this series, I look at my first team set: 1991 Topps. This was the set I started my baseball card collection with.
At one time, this was the most valuable card in the 1991 Red Sox team set.  Phil Plantier enjoyed a massive hobby following in 1991.  Plantier was a highly-touted outfield prospect.  He had a brief call-up in 1990, but it was not until the 1991 season that Plantier began to get the hobby following that made his cards so valuable.  His Upper Deck and Stadium Club cards were his most highly-desired.

Plantier was called up in June 1991 and made a big impact.  Playing mostly right field and left field, Plantier hit .331/.420/.615 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs in just 53 games.  His performance had him expected to be a big part of the Red Sox team in 1992.  Unfortunately it did not really work out for him.  Plantier struggled a bit in 1992 and was not the player he was expected to be.  Boston then traded him to San Diego for Jose Melendez, a trade that did not work out for Boston as Plantier hit 34 home runs.  But he quickly declined after that.

Quick Book Reviews

I have been reading a ton and do not feel like spending a lot of time looking at each individual book.  In particular since these books are ones that I have read before.  This is at least the second, sometimes the third time I have read each of the books to follow.

HITTER: THE LIFE AND TURMOILS OF TED WILLIAMS by Ed Linn
I was given this book many years ago by the girl I was dating at the time.  She was the most understanding girlfriend about my Red Sox obsession and got me a couple of Ted Williams books, a Carlton Fisk bobblehead, and a Trot Nixon jersey.  This is a an incredibly in-depth book that does not necessarily treat Williams sympathetically all the time.  Williams was a petulant young man when he made it to the Majors, prone to mental lapses in the field and concerned mostly about his hitting.  It did however show him as an incredibly thoughtful player when it came to his hitting.  The book did not deal much with his off-field life, in particular his life after baseball.  It did deal with his military service in depth, which was an impressive part of the overall Ted Williams story.  All in all, it was an intriguing look at the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived.

RED SOX NATION: AN EXPURGATED HISTORY OF THE BOSTON RED SOX by Peter Golenbock
This is a nice thick book that I first read in spring 2006.  I remember having this book with me when I went to Boston to see the Red Sox play the Devil Rays at Fenway Park.  I read the whole thing during the few weeks between graduating from law school and beginning my Bar Exam Prep course.  This book is mostly told through the observations of players, fan, and writers that were there to witness the events.  As such it is a little short on information prior to Tom Yawkey's reign.  I would have liked more information, particularly about the 1920's-1932 since that is an era not covered very often in books.  The rest of the book though was thoroughly researched and intriguing.  The book actually carries through the 2004 World Championship.  Again, this is something that pleased me quite a bit as I do not have many books from the World Championship.

THE TEAMMATES: A PORTRAIT OF A FRIENDSHIP by David Halberstam
A very short story taking a look at the remarkable friendship between Bobby Doerr, Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky which continued long after the foursome retired from the Major Leagues.  The book is mostly told through flashbacks and the narrative device is the long road trip that DiMaggio and Pesky took to see Ted Williams just prior to his death.  Doerr was unable to be present due to his wife's illness.  It is a quick read and does discuss the careers that the four players had as well as their lives after their careers were over.  It is unfortunate that Doerr is the last of these four players still alive.

THE CURSE OF THE BAMBINO by Dan Shaughnessy
This is actually the first Red Sox book I ever read.  Of course you can tell from the cover that it is quite a bit out of date.  The book covers the supposed curse that affected the Red Sox from the time they sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees and covers the repeated inabilities of the Red Sox to win the World Series.  The particular moments are the 1946 World Series (Johnny Pesky holding the ball and Enos Slaughter's mad dash for home), 1948 playoff game (Denny Galehouse), 1949 season (Ellis Kinder being pinch-hit for in the last game), the early 70's folds, 1975 World Series, 1978 playoff game (Bucky Bleepin' Dent), and the 1986 World Series (Bill Buckner's error).  Shaughnessy's theory is that there is a curse.  More likely it has all been bad luck.  Of course Boston has since won the World Series twice in 2004 and 2007.

A Near-Bronx Massacre

There are two series over the last few decades that have become known as "Boston Massacre".  The first was a three-game series at Fenway in 1978 when the Yankees came to town and vastly outscored a reeling Red Sox team.  The second was in 2006 when the Yankees swept a five-game series against the Red Sox.  This was this close to a Bronx Massacre.

09/05:  Red Sox 9 (85-57) Yankees 8
The Red Sox took an early lead in this one behind Jake Peavy.  Unfortunately after being up 7-2, the bullpen squandered the lead and the Yankees lead 8-7 after the seventh.  Boston managed to manufacture the tying run in the 9th off of Mariano Rivera and Shane Victorino drove in the game-winner in the 10th.

PLAYER OF THE GAME:
SHANE VICTORINO:  2 for 6, home run, 3 RBIs, stolen base.

09/06:  Red Sox 12 (86-57) Yankees 8
Felix Doubront struggled with his command and the Red Sox were down 8-3 coming into the seventh.  They got one run and then had the bases loaded when Mike Napoli homered to tie it up.  Shane Victorino homered again to take the lead.

PLAYER OF THE GAME:
MIKE NAPOLI:  3 for 3, 3 runs, 4 RBIs, grand slam, double.

09/07:  Red Sox 13 (87-57) Yankees 9
In this game, Boston took the lead early and did not relinquish.

PLAYER OF THE GAME:
MIKE NAPOLI:  2 for 5, 2 home runs, 3 RBIs.

09/08:  Yankees 4 Red Sox 3 (87-58)
Boston trailed 3-2 in the ninth when Will Middlebrooks homered off Mariano Rivera, who blew his second save against the Red Sox in the series.  Unfortunately Brandon Workman uncorked a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth with Ichiro on third to lose the game.

PLAYER OF THE GAME:
WILL MIDDLEBROOKS:  2 for 3, home run.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Good Luck Daniel Bard

Daniel Bard has just been claimed off of waivers by the Chicago Cubs, bringing an end to a very good stint with the Red Sox.  Bard was the Red Sox first round pick in the 2006 draft.  He was a starter in the minors and struggled until being moved to the bullpen.  Boston called him up during the 2009 season and he became established as the top set-up man to closer Jonathan Papelbon.  Bard was very good in that first season, going 2-2 with a 3.65 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 49.1 innings.  The next season he was dominant.  He had an ERA of 1.93 and struck out 76 in 74.2 innings and saved three games.  He started out the 2011 season great but struggled down the stretch as Boston fell apart.  It was the beginning of the end.  He still put up decent numbers on the season but lost nine games.  In 2012 he was shifted into the starting rotation and flamed out, going 5-6 with a 6.22 ERA.  He pitched only one inning this season.

Here's hoping Bard can resurrect his career in Chicago.

Cat Scratch Fever

Boston took two out of three from the Tigers.

09/02:  Tigers 3 Red Sox 0 (82-57)
Boston continued to be unable to score runs with John Lackey on the mound.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
DANIEL NAVA:  3 for 3, 2 doubles.

09/03:  Red Sox 2 (83-57) Tigers 1
Jon Lester outdueled Max Scherzer.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
JON LESTER:  7 innings, 8 hits, 1 run, 9 strikeouts, Win.

09/04:  Red Sox 20 (84-57) Tigers 4
Eight home runs by seven players is the story.  Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew, Ryan Lavarnway, Shane Victorino, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Nava, and David Ortiz all went deep.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
DAVID ORTIZ:  3 for 4, 2 home runs, double, 3 runs, 4 RBIs.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Super Collector in Me Pt. 1 (Beware, Lots of Scans)

Everybody knows I am a big Red Sox fan.  What they may not know about is my gigantic player collection which makes up a part of my Red Sox collection.  

I have been a Jason Varitek fan since the time he was acquired.  I have always liked catchers and Jason Varitek was a very good catcher.  He was a good hitter and very good behind the plate.  As time went on, Varitek became a highly valued member of the team for his excellent game-calling and solid defense.  He was a leader on the team, a fact which did not escape notice of the front office.  His intangibles lead him to a very good four-year contract after the 2004 World Series Championship and a big red "C" on his chest.  Varitek, though drafted by the Mariners, spent his entire Major League career with the Boston Red Sox.  He would have looked strange in any other Major League uniform.

I started the focus on Jason Varitek cards after the 2004 World Series.  Suddenly every member of the team's cards were a little pricey.  Varitek's cards increased in cost too, but not to the same degree as David Ortiz, Johnny Damon, Curt Schilling, or others.  Relic pieces were also becoming much more interesting at the same time.  I wanted as much as I could get, but I decided to settle for getting the really high-end cards of just one player: Jason Varitek.  The rest of my Red Sox collection slowed down for a few years while my focus was on the one player, but I did still get as much as possible.

My Varitek collection was always a little difficult to get going.  Topps did not make any Varitek cards with the Red Sox until 2007 due to a contract dispute.  If it had, I would have well over 1,000 cards by now.  As it is, I have 875, about 20 cards more than the next highest (Nomar Garciaparra).  Included in that number is a bunch of team cards which I will not bore you with.  I have a number of autographs, bat cards, jersey cards, 1/1s, printing plates, and more.  My Varitek collection includes a bat barrel nameplate, a letter off an All Star jersey, two button cards, four MLB logo cards, and much more.

I have thoroughly enjoyed collecting Jason Varitek cards.  Even though he is no longer playing and I do not add cards as quickly any more, I still keep my eye open for more cards of him.  And I always will.  

Now, after the break, I have provided something special.  I have scanned the entire Jason Varitek collection, minus the team cards.  Be warned, there is a lot of stuff there.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mail Call

Working on a really huge post right now.  Hopefully I will have it up soon.  For now though, here is the new 
stuff.

Up first is a small Ebay win.  I was supposed to get this card in a trade package but it was not there and the other party could not find it.
1.  2011 Topps Allen & Ginter Mini Jon Lester.  Lester beat Max Scherzer tonight.  He is starting to look like an ace again.

Up next is a trade package for some Yankees:
2.  2010 Upper Deck Pure Heat Josh Beckett.  You may not be able to tell, but this is kind of a neat die-cut card.  I was never the biggest fan of Beckett (except during 2007), but this is a neat card.

3.  2011 Topps Wal-Mart Black Jason Varitek.  A little preview of the big post to come...

4.  2011 Topps Wal-Mart Black Mike Lowell.  I have been waiting over a month on another Mike Lowell card, this is nothing like that one.  Hopefully it will show up some time soon.

5.  2010 Bowman 1992 Throwback Jacoby Ellsbury.

6.  2005 Upper Deck ESPN Sportscentury Cy Young.  He is actually wearing a Cleveland uniform, but it's a Red Sox logo.

7.  2010 Upper Deck All World Daisuke Matsuzaka.  Another neat die-cut.  Matsuzaka was great in 2007 and 2008, but not really since then.

Up next is a big trade.  I traded this:
for the following package.  I have had the Gregerson for a long time and this is the first halfway reasonable trade offer I have received.  Ultimately I figured this was the best I was ever going to get for it.  I have been holding out for a star auto or patch and it just was not working out.  I feel kind of bad about giving it up, but I think the cards I got were worth it.
8.  2008 Bowman Chrome Refractor Autograph Ryan Kalish.  Kalish has hit a few bumps in the road.  Next year he should be given an opportunity to win an outfield job or be traded.

9.  2011 Topps Golden Moments Gold Sparkle Relic Clay Buchholz.  He should be returning to the rotation very soon.

10.  2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Mini Black Ted Williams.

11.  2012 Topps Heritage Image Swap Variation Dustin Pedroia.  I love this card.  This is the first image swap I have had.