Thursday, July 30, 2009

Book Review: Big Papi - My story of Big Dreams and Big Hits

I posted recently about how I picked this book up at a dollar store for only $1.00. Well, I finished the book last week and I thought that with the recent events involving Big Papi now would be a good time to post a review. Let me start by saying that I am not a fan of the Red Sox or of David Ortiz, but I don't hate them either. The book is basically David Ortiz talking to his co-author, Tony Massarotti. I think maybe 2 chapters were actually written by Massarotti, but the rest is David just talking.

My first impression: David Ortiz uses the word "bro" a lot! I didn't count, but it is on almost every page and sometimes 3-4 times on a page. Getting past the sheer number of times the word "bro" is used allows you to see how conceded David Ortiz really is. For example:

Speaking about a trip to Japan after the 2004 season: "During one of the games there, I hit this long home run - they measured it over 500 feet, bro - and I think the people there are still talking about it."

Talking about the 2005 All-Star game: "But then, when something like the All-Star game comes along and you have more than four million people voting for you - four million, bro - you really start to understand how many people were watching, how much they appreciated what you did, how difficult it was to do those things."

On the posiibility of him winning the MVP award: " There are a lot of politics involved - I told the reporters that - so I think there are a lot of guys who won't vote for someone like me, just because I'm a designated hitter and I don't play the field. I mean, is that my fault?"

So what are my thoughts on Big Papi testing positive in 2003 for performance enhancing drugs. I am not surprized one bit. He played with the Twins from 1997 - 2002 and hit a total of 58 home runs in 455 games before being released. That's right, he was released. The Twins didn't even trade him, they just released him. In his next 437 games as a Red Sox (2003 - 2005) , he hit 119 homeruns.

In his book, he says, "Later on, I was at home just hanging out with Tiff (his wife) when my chest started beating really fast, and Tiff noticed it, too...The next day, on Saturday, it came back." Ortiz says that he had it checked out by team doctors and was actually taken to the hospital because of it. He says in his book, "Know what the problem was? Stress." I guess it could have been stress, or it could have been complications from a performance enhancing drug that he was taking. I don't know for sure, but its a possibility in light of recent developments.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Trade with Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius

I had sent Matt of Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius some 2008 Upper Deck X insert cards that he needed. He sent me back a box of Diamondbacks cards in return. 119 Diamondbacks cards to be exact! Thanks Matt! I am going to show off some of the highlights. Check out these Rookie Cards of Mark Reynolds, Justin Upton, Stephen Drew, Conor Jackson, Max Scherzer, Miguel Montero, and Josh Whitesell.

Here are 3 cards of D-Backs ace and 2009 All-Star Dan Haren!

Here are a couple of 2008 Topps Finest insert cards of Brandon Webb

(Finest Moments and Refractor #'d on the back 173/199)

And last but not least, a 2007 TRISTAR Prospects Plus Farm Hands Auto

of D-Backs minor league prospect Wes Roemer

Get to know D-Backs pitcher Clay Zavada

Pulled this out of the D-Backs Insider (July 23-29, 2009) that I got from the game this past Friday. I posted previously about Clay and how he got to the big leagues (see my post: Best 'stach since Rollie Fingers), so I thought I would post this as well. Notice that he's not sporting the handlebar mustache in this picture. Too bad.

TTM Success - Duke Snider and Ron Cey

As a kid I sent away for a few autographs through the mail. Guys like Dale Murphy, Don Mattingly and Mickey Morindini. What's that? You don't remember Mickey Morandini? Former All-Star (1995) second baseman of the Philadelphia Phillies, who on September 20, 1992 turned an unassisted triple play. Anyways, I am getting back into the baseball card hobby again, now as an adult and I wanted to try my luck at getting some autographs through the mail. My first successes came back to me on the same day. Fitting, since I sent them out on the same day. Former Dodger players Duke Snider and Ron Cey signed both cards I sent and I recieved them just 6 days after I sent them. Needless to say, I was pretty excited.

I sent each a copy of their 2000 Fleer Greats of the Game card and a Signature Card that I purchased from I think they all turned out great and would like to thank both Mr. Snider and Mr. Cey!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Prize for winning Thoruzul's HR Derby contest

Thorzul at held a contest to predict the winner of the Home Run Derby. All you had to do was guess the winner and how many total homeruns they would hit. If you picked the correct player and were closest to the actual number then you won the contest. I choose Prince Fielder and was the closest to the actual number with a guess of 28. The prize, according to Thorzul, "a nice prize package related to the Brewers' all-time leader in home runs". I got the prize package in the mail yesterday. Thorzul was correct in his description. I got 2004 Playoff Prime Signatures insert of Robin Yount #'d on the back 1248/2500 and a 2005 Upper Deck Classic Moments insert of Robin Yount #'d on the front 1858/1999! Thanks Thorzul!

Look at the back of the Upper Deck card. They forgot the 000 after the 3, and I knew that there is no "i" in team, but I guess there is also no "i" in field either, according to Upper Deck.

50% off Topps at Wal-Mart

Before everyone gets too excited, let me first say that it was only the 2008 Topps Series 1 Retail boxes that were 50% off, but still, $4.97 for 5 PACKS plus 1 EXTRA 3-CARD PACK is a pretty good deal. So what did I get for my $4.97 + tax? I'll let you see for yourself.

Let's start with the 1 EXTRA 3-CARD PACK. It turns out that they are part of a painted set by Dick Perez. I got Joba Chamberlain, Curtis Maybin, and David Wright. Not sure if I even like these cards. Oh well.

Pack #1

Mantle Story #MMS 49

Topps All-Star Rookie Team 50th Anniversary #AR17 Justin Verlander

Pack #2

Campaign 2008 #C08-BR Bill Richardson

Pack #3

Year in Review - Braves/Red Sox Trade Blowouts in DH

Pack #4

OWN THE GAME - Mike Lowell

Pack #5

Mickey Mantle Homerun #533

So I got 6 inserts in 5 packs plus the 3 Dick Perex cards. Not too shabby for around $5. All cards are available for trade. Let me know if you are interested.

Mail from Stats on the Back

A few weeks ago fellow blogger Mark of 'Stats on the Back' made a very generous offer - Tell him your favorite team and he would send you a stack of that teams cards. On Wednesday day of last week I got a package from Stats on the Back with 48 Arizona Diamondbacks cards to add to my collection. Thanks Mark! I will be sending you a thank you package soon. Here are a few of the highlights, or since I am talking about the D-Backs, should they be called lowlights.

Here we have 3 current Diamondbacks: Brandon Webb, who pitched 6 innings on Opening Day -giving up 6 runs before getting injured. He hasn't pitched since. So what does giving up 6 runs in 6 innings do to your ERA? It puts it at 13.50. The 2007 Allen & Ginter card is great though and hopefully Webby will be back on the mound soon so that he can lower that ERA. Next, we have a 2008 Bowman card of Centerfielder Chris Young. After signing a contract extention last year, CY has officially done nothing. Okay, he has done something. He's batting a whopping .200! Keep up the good work Chris, maybe you will get up to .210 before the seasons over! Oh, and then we have a 2008 Topps card of Eric Byrnes. Byrnes is tearing it up right now! He's batting .216 this season, which is 7 points higher than his batting average last season, so I guess I should be happy.

Next is a 2007 Topps insert card commemorating Opening Day 2007, and the game between the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks. I would like to mention that the D-Backs beat the Rockies 8-6 that day. The second card featured is probably my favorite out of the entire group. It is a 2009 Topps Black bordered Classic Combos card of Brandon Webb and Dan Haren. When healthy, I think they are the best pitching combination in the National League.

Here are some cards of D-Backs fan favorites Steve Finley, Luis Gonzalez and Matt Williams.

Next are cards featuring two current players, Stephen Drew and Miguel Montero, and one former manager, Bob Melvin. The Drew and Montero cards are great action shots. I especially like the Montero card since it appears that he prevented a run from scoring. I was sad to see Melvin get let go this season. I don't think it was his fault, but I understand that something had to be done.

Speaking of action cards. These next two are absolutly awesome! Matts Williams in full swing and Craig Counsell going head-first into second! Thanks again Mark for the cards! I owe you big time.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Best 'stache since Rollie Fingers

Clay Zavada is a relief pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks. I went to a Diamondbacks game on June 9th. Clay Zavada had made his MLB debut just 19 days earlier on May 21st, and I was not familiar with him when I saw him stretching and running in the outfield with the other pitchers during batting practice. But the 'stache catches your eye. I didn't know who he was but I do know that he was the only Diamondbacks player that day that acknowledged the fans in the bleachers hoping for a batting practice homerun ball. He came over and talked to a few fans and signed autographs. Even better than his 'stache is his story. Check out the New York Times article by Katie Thomas published December 20, 2008.

It chronicles the fact that Clay's mother passed away when he just 3 years old, leaving his father to raise Clay and his brother. Clay was drafted in the 30th round of the 2006 draft by the Diamondbacks. His father died unexpectedly of a heart attack that December and it devestated Clay to the point that he did not report to Spring Training in 2007. The Diamondbacks dropped his contract later that summer. Clay decided to go back to college and complete his Bachelors degree at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville to honor his fathers wishes. After more than a year without so much as picking up a baseball, Clay decided to try out for an independent league team, the Southern Illinois Miners. It took a few games, but Clay eventually caught the attention of the Diamondbacks, and in June of 2008, they re-signed him to a one-year contract. From that point, it took Clay less than a year to reach the majors. That is some story and that is some 'stache. Congratualations Clay and good luch in the big leagues!

If anybody has any of Clay's cards I would love to trade. I just checked ebay and there wasn't a single Clay Zavada card listed.

Jersey & Card Set

So I am with the wife and kids at Toys' R US, a few months back and I convince my wife to let me get some cards. I decided to something new. You may have seen them before. Here is what the package looks like, or something similar. I think there are a couple of variations.

So for $7.99 I get a jersey card (actually it's not a jersey card - it's a jersey & card set, according to the package) and 3 packs. One of the packs was a 2007 Topps rack pack and I can't remember what the other two were, 2007 Fleer Ultra and maybe 2007 Topps Heritage, something like that. Anyways, back to the Jersey & card set. Here is what I got.

Jeff Bagwell. Not bad. I liked Bagwell. I like baseball design on the card. I think they choose a nice Bagwell card. The jersey piece (patch) is awesome! So, for $8 bucks I was pretty happy. I have gotten 2 more since then. I got Johnny Damon and Greg Maddux.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

2009 Topps Heritage Box

A week or so ago I picked up a retail box of 2009 Topps Heritage at Wal-Mart. I thought I would post the contents. The box only had 8 packs, so I was pleasently surprized by the inserts that I recieved.

Short Print Base Cards (1:3) Expected - 2 Recieved - 3

#475 Derek Lowe

#487 Derek Jeter AS

#500 Billy Wagner AS

Chrome Parallel (1:10) Expected - 0 Recieved - 1
#C64 Yadier Molina

New Age Performers (1:15) Expected - 0 Recieved - 1
#NAP7 Stephen Drew

Baseball Flashbacks (1:12) Expected - 0 Recieved - 1 # BF4 Paul Richards Mitt

News Flashbacks (1:12) Expected - 0 Recieved - 1 #NF2 Bathyscape Trieste

Clubhouse Collection Relics Group C (1:193) Expected - 0 Recieved - 1 #CC-CC Carl Crawford

Nothing spectacular, but I thought it was a pretty good retail box, considering that the odds were stacked against me.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Book Review: The Yankee Years by Joe Torre

I recently finished the book The Yankee Years by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci. The book chronicled Torres 12 years in New York as manager of the Yankees. The Yankees under Torre won 1249 games, including the postseason, during that 12 year span. The Yankees appeeared in the postseason each of the 12 years that Torre managed them, including 6 American League Pennents and 4 World Series Championships. Wow! Talk about a resume. I have never been a huge fan of the Yankees, but I thought it was a great read. It was ver insightful about those Yankee teams and its players. I thought that Torre and Verducci didn't hold back much and communicated exactly how Torre felt about certain players. For example:
Torre loved players like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera .
On Jeter: "Jeter's talent and confidence helped make him a great player right out of the box. It was his humility and desire to win above all else that made him a great teammate and a manager's dream."

On Rivera: "Rivera, like Jeter, fit perfectly in the Yankees' clubhouse culture, another superstar characterized by quiet humility and confidence who defined himself by how many games the team won, not his individual statistics."
On Tino: "Martinez, for instance, was habitually hard on himself. The slightest slump, even a hitless game, would prompt the first baseman to grow angry with himself."

Torre also shared his feelings about some other Yankee players like Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodrigues, Carl Pavano and Randy Johnson.
On Sheffield: "He was a team player. He finished a couple of games at third base for me, when we had to take guys out and move people around. He was willing to do anything."
On A-Rod: Chapter 8. The Issues of Alex
"Alex monopolized all the attention." "When it comes to a key situation, he can't seem to get himself to concern himself with getting the job done, instead of how it looks." "Alex, do me a favor: at least go get a cup of coffee by yourself, instead of sending somebody to get you a cup of coffee.
On Pavano: " His Yankee teammates wrote him off as a guy who milked any physical ailment as an excuse not to have to pitch. The players all hated him. It was no secret."
On Johnson: "He was, in fact, a sensitive, hyperaware person, who...was uncomfortable with the constant critisism and noise that came with playing in New York."

Monday, July 6, 2009


I went to Dollar Tree today to pick up a few things. I always look at the books, in hopes of finding something interesting for a buck. Today I found an autobiography of Boston slugger David Ortiz entitled BIG PAPI - My Story of Big Dreams and Big Hits. Hardcover, 258 pages, originally $24.95. I'm not a big fan of Big Papi but I love to read and baseball is my favorite subject so I was thrilled to pick up the book for $1.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

2008 Topps Allen & Ginter box

So I went to my local card shop yesterday and bought a box of 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter. I don't know why I did it. Every time I spend $50+ on a box of cards and end up with a couple of jersey/autos of players that I have never heard of, I always tell myself: "Don't buy anymore boxes. You will save a ton of money just buying the cards that you want." I don't know why I don't listen to myself more often. It was yet another diappointing box. I did get 3 jersey cards and 1 bat card, but nobody big. I got Delwyn young of the Dodgers and Tom Gorzelanny of the Pirates.

I also got Vladimir Guerrero and Carlos Zambrano.

I really like the design of the base cards. Very clean. I like that all players on the same team are featured in the same style jersey. See a few of my loveable yet very frustrating D-Backs below for example. Too bad I only got 5 D-Backs cards out of the whole box. The 3 below and Alex Romero and Orlando Hudson.

Other than the D-Backs cards, everything is for trade or I will be posting it on ebay. So the end result of my $50+. 5 Diamondbacks cards that I will keep and probably ebays sales in the $4-$5 range. I should have listened to myself.