Monday, January 30, 2017

Merry Christmas!

The tradition in my family the last few years is to celebrate Christmas in January.  No its not some social statement or anything, its just that people are busy and January usually is downtime for everyone.  We also celebrate my mom's birthday as well, so its a nice combination.  This year we had it as I mentioned the day I found out Yordano Ventura passed away and I secluded myself more than usual.  However we opened gifts and everything and today I thought I'd show off what I got.  I actually got a lot this year, but a big chunk of it I was already aware of.  First we'll dive into what I wasn't aware of.

LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING BROTHER!  I think I already have this book, but that's okay.  I never read it though so maybe this is my chance to.  I've got a trial subscription to WWE Network to watch the Royal Rumble last night (don't get me started) so I go back and watch old WCW stuff and Hogan is usually the focal point.

BANG BANG! BANG BANG! BANG BANG!  I have at least two Mick Foley books, but for some reason I don't think I have this one.  Aside being a big fan of his in WCW and his Cactus Jack days, I'm not as big of a fan these days, but that's okay, it still should be a good book.  He's one of the few wrestlers I've met, so its cool to have books from him.  I met him the same day I met Harley Race and Terry Funk.  That was a fun day.

HERE WE GO!  I am ready to dive into this book, which you won't hear me say too often.  The two wrestling books I actually knew about, but I didn't know about this one.  I was really excited.  Then I got a bit sad thinking about how he died in the off season just like Yordano.  I know it was different circumstances but it still made me sad.  I might do a book report on it once I finish, but I haven't started it yet.

Since I got my Roku a couple months ago, I've been using all the free trials so its taking a lot of my time.  I just finished binge watching season one of the Robert Stack Unsolved Mysteries on Amazon, and hope they release more before my trial runs out.  It was sad I remember so many of the stories on there, but it was awesome to watch.

Another reason I haven't started reading yet is because I have to clean.  I have a closet that is mostly filled with cards and other sports stuff and I have to make room for more cards.

11 boxes! ELEVEN!  My brother in law saw they were being given away for free and asked my sister what I collected and she said, just grab them all.  She didn't expect so many, and then when she told me, I didn't expect so many boxes either.  She said a few boxes, so I was thinking like 5-6. She went through some and noticed it was a bunch of doubles and assumed most the good players were taken out.

She would be right, but I'm okay with that.  As she mentioned, if nothing else, I have some boxes I can use.  These boxes are nice too, they are two piece boxes which I've never used for 800 count cards, but actually I think these might be 1000 count boxes.

So now you may wonder what was in the boxes.  Well, here it is.

11 boxes of 89 Fleer and 82 Donruss.  That's it.  Again, I'm not made, in fact, I was happy to see the 82 cards because while I'm not a set collector, it would give me a good chunk of them and would be one of the oldest sets I have over half the cards of.  In total I got about 67% of the set completed, and yes, its missing the big names and rookies, but I did pull some Danny Ainge cards, which I've wanted for a while.  I also got one of the San Diego Chicken, and a few Royals as well.  I got some Error cards and some Corrected cards as well and overall I was happy.  I did even get a few rookies but none come to mind just yet.

As for the 89 set, I was working on the set and on the last box it hit me... any chance of Billy Ripken cards? :)

No, none of Billy, but I'm fine with that.  Not as many of the 89 set, but I did manage to get 33% of the set, and I think I have some as well, so I might try to complete it.  Neither set are priorities and I'm not seeking out cards to finish the set, but I will keep my eye out.  Having said that though if you are missing some cards from either set and need some, let me know.  There were multiples of multiples of many cards just not the star names.  On top of being surprised at the amount of cards, I was surprised at the shape they were in.  They really looked like they were pulled straight from the packs and never touched again.  It had to be some dealer because I can't imagine a set builder having to buy so many boxes of cards to complete sets and having 30 extras of a common player.  Not mad though, it was fun going through them.

In addition to those boxes, this box was also included.  I have never seen this before and I couldn't find any info about it online either.  In fact I found very little about Score Board in general, but my assumption is that this was probably like the Hygrade Collector Kits from the late 80s.  The difference is that this box once contained all rookies if I'm reading it right and had other goodies.

I thought the box was pretty good actually.  It's in pretty good shape too beside one corner coming apart.  As for the contents inside there was more cards scattered inside, but it was a lot of random 91 Hoops basketball and other basketball cards.  It had a couple football and some baseball cards too.  There was one other item inside though I thought was pretty cool.  Not to say the cards weren't, I did find some Joe Kleine's I didn't have, and got some Olympic cards and even a couple Michael Jordan's, so not all bad.  Though this was the cool part.

I never heard of this before either, but I found this issue online after searching a bit and a few others.  It seems they were somewhat popular.  I'm glad they had alternatives to Beckett back then.  I preferred Tuff Stuff to Beckett.

I love typewriter font.  This is like the ultimate 80's/90's piece.  It made me smile.

In addition my sister also got me some cards from I think a Saver's in St. Louis.  It was a bag of 1988 Donruss cards.  I got some decent ones in there and actually got 25% of the set filled with the cards, so it was pretty nice.

So that is keeping me busy for now.  Now to find room to store all of it.  It gives me a good reason to organize anyways.

So that wraps it up for today, thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it.  Have a great day.  As for me, I think aside from cleaning I might watch some more old wrestling on the WWE Network.  They've added more stuff since the last time I had it and I might watch some Smackdown's for 1999.  Later I'll turn on the TV and catch the Apprentice and then Scorpion.  Mondays are the only night I actually watch TV anymore.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Little Late: My 2017 Hall of Fame Ballot

One feature I admit I really like that I've done the last couple years has been posting my Hall of Fame ballot.  In the past I have done it leading up to the actual announcement then I did another blog about it.  I actually have been able to split it into 3 posts and it worked out really well.  This year however it snuck up on me and my mind has been elsewhere since, so this year its late and only one post.  By now you know who got it, but I still thought I would make my list.  I am not an actual voting member and therefore I show bias toward certain people and I usually admit it.  I will say that the next few years outside of one class looks fairly weak so if some of these guys could stay within range they could make it in.

Before I begin, let me show you who all was up for nominations this year.  Usually you hear only the winners and a few others, so here is the complete list.

Lee Smith
Tim Raines
Edgar Martinez
Fred McGriff
Jeff Bagwell
Larry Walker
Roger Clemens
Barry Bonds
Curt Schilling
Sammy Sosa
Mike Mussina
Jeff Kent
Gary Sheffield
Trevor Hoffman
Billy Wagner
Ivan Rodriguez
Vladimir Guerrero
Manny Ramirez
Jorge Posada
Magglio Ordonez
Edgar Renteria
Jason Varitek
Tim Wakefield
Casey Blake
J.D. Drew
Arthur Rhodes
Pat Burrell
Carlos Guillen
Freddy Sanchez
Orlando Cabrera
Derek Lee
Matt Stairs
Mike Cameron
Melvin Mora

Was a lot of these going to make it?  No way, but still they shouldn't be excluded from the list of nominations.  Sometimes its amazing to see some of these guys have been retired for five years.  It seems like Matt Stairs was still playing.  At any rate, its safe to say this list could be cut in half and it wouldn't need to be discussed.

As for me, my list has some that are very questionable, and again, I'm bias, but my list really was easy this year compared to the last couple years.  I might have even considered not even putting 10 names.  However I did so let's take a look in no real order.  By the way, all card images are thanks to the Trading Card Database.

Lee Smith.  He is one of the most underrated people on the Hall of Fame ballot.  Relief pitching really was in transition when he played.  Today its like a machine- Starting until 5-6th inning, then a new one for each of the next 3 innings.  Sometimes it varies, but that's how it is today.  In the early 2000's it wasn't too different, but they usually at most had to use 3 pitchers a night.  The closer role really stood out.  In the 80's and 90's they had closers, but for the most part the whole "pitch count" wasn't a factor so most starters could pitch complete games and win 1-0 and nobody would blink (especially Greg Maddux).  Now if you have a 1 run lead in the 7th, its too risky to keep you in.  My point in all this is that a lot of relievers who pitched in the 80's and early 90's are overlooked because they had no real defined set of innings to pitch.  Trevor Hoffman who gets a lot of buzz caught the tail end of that era, and as a result after getting the closer job where he only had to focus on the last inning he was more effective and that's why he gets more buzz in my opinion.  At any rate, Lee deserves to be in the Hall of Fame or at the very least heavy consideration.

Jeff Bagwell.  In years past, I usually kept more of the obvious names off the list unless I absolutely loved them.  I would never say I was the biggest fan of Bagwell, but I did always like him.  The list this year is a lot thinner at the bottom, so besides Bagwell being an obvious choice, it didn't really matter if I used a space on him when it could have gone elsewhere.  So, sorry Arthur Rhodes who might have gotten this spot, but even if it was obvious I had to include Bagwell.

Barry Bonds.  By now you know I'm a fan of Barry Bonds and for the most part I've gotten over the whole steroids talk.  Its good to see that his percentage rises each year, but I hope he gets an even bigger jump next year.  Then again a huge increase of votes could result in more steroid talk.  "His percentage number went up 12%?  He must have taken steroids to improve that much."

Mike Mussina.  Part of this is because a lot of you have talked me into it the last couple years, and another part is the field is weaker this year.  At any rate, I never said he wasn't good, I just didn't know if he deserved to be in the hall.  I'm happy I finally have him on my list.  He might drop off again in a year or two, but I have a feeling he'll be back.

Gary Sheffield.  Here's another one that isn't included because I felt he was without a doubt hall worthy but because the field is weak.  Then I got to thinking how hot he was when I was a kid and there was a buzz about him and it reminded me that is partly what the Hall is about.  He entertained me so his inclusion is somewhat warranted.  By the way I should point out most of these picks I didn't look up a lot of stats like I have in previous years.  I've had other stuff I've been doing and didn't prep enough for it.  Maybe next year I will.

Ivan Rodriguez.  To be honest, outside of Barry Bonds and Lee Smith, Pudge would be the only other name I would absolutely have on my list.  I consider him one of the best catchers of all time.  I won't say best because that's highly debatable but in the nineties and even early 2000's I can't really think of one who was consistently better.  Even after he left Texas and he got older he still had the ability and was one of the top of the game.  I also think its quite possible that Ivan might have been the first (and only) Hall of Famer I've seen play in a game. So there's also that.

Vladimir Guerrero.  Remember what I said about Sheffield being an exciting player and he entertained me.  Yeah I could basically rewrite all that again for Vlad.  I thought he was a really solid player and doesn't always get the credit he deserves.  Maybe its because he played for the Expos, I don't know.  But I do think he deserves more consideration.

Manny Ramirez.  My former Red Sox fandom is showing and I don't care.  Manny being Manny brought many an entertaining night.  Is he one of the best of all time?  No, but he was a character in a sport that entertained me.  I've long said it seems sports is more about entertainment than ability these days, and Manny was an interesting performer of entertainment. 

J.D. Drew.  I know what your thinking, "J.D. Drew and you haven't mentioned Edgar Martinez yet?"  Well there are a few reasons for that.  First I knew that Edgar would have enough votes on the ballot and would be safe.  Second I wasn't sure if J.D. would get enough/any votes for people to consider him a little more.  Is Edgar a better choice for the Hall?  YES!  However while J.D. never stood a chance of making it in, I remember him have a blazing start to his career and actually had promise of transition for the Cardinals.  Folks knew McGwire would be gone sooner than later and with Ozzie gone too, they needed some younger guys that could get people excited.  J.D. Drew and Rick Ankiel were those guys.  They caused excitement for the Cardinals fans and when the began to fizzle it was game over for them, but the short years they had were pretty amazing.  In fact, for both really, their hot first years parlayed them into players for more years in the majors than they maybe deserved.  However I still think it should give people a chance to at least consider him before just scrolling past his name like I'm sure they did with Melvin Mora.  As for the Cardinals, by the time Drew and Ankiel had started to fall, they had a couple other young guys to boost the team better- some guy named Pujols and another named Yadi.  Not bad.

Pat Burrell.  Again, Edgar wasn't falling off the list, my vote didn't matter.  Pat Burrell did need votes and in the end, I would be the only one who voted for him.  Unlike J.D. Drew though, I think Burrell was made to be a star but it just never happened.  I think my best memories of Pat was a good first season and having a bunch of his cards before I got out of collecting.  I still think though that his stats should have been looked at more so if J.D. and Pat would have gotten just enough to last another year, it might have helped.

So that is my list.  I know I didn't include Edgar, but I explained it.  I'm bias, and I also knew he didn't need my vote.  Sure neither did Pudge, but again, I'M BIAS!  As for other names I considered?

Trevor Hoffman- he didn't need my vote.
Billy Wagner- I considered him, but figured he'd be safer than Pat or J.D.
Tim Raines- he likely didn't need my vote.  I mean he was safe but didn't know if he'd actually get in.
Fred McGriff- Crime Dog is a favorite but I had to choose him or Sheffield.
Larry Walker-The more I thought about it, I thought his numbers wouldn't have been as good if he wasn't a Rockie.
Roger Clemens-  My bias shown.  I just don't like him.
Curt Schilling-  I liked him and I still think he's Hall worthy but he needs to not talk for a few years.
Sammy Sosa-Just never a fan.Plus Bonds and Clemens could have made it in without steroids, not sure about him.
Tim Wakefield-  I really wanted to include him, but didn't want to bump anyone else.
Matt Stairs-  Just a tad thinner ballot and maybe I would have.  He would have gotten Burrell's spot, but not a HOFer.

So there you have it.  That's how I would have voted.  Next year I will tell you already, bias or not, who my number one choice will be on my ballot- Johnny Damon!  I think in two years the voting will be tough (I think Chipper's year) but then it gets pretty thin.  If some of these guys can just hang on, they might have a shot.

I know this is an odd hour of posting, but my sleep is way off so I figured why not.  So thank you for reading this whenever you do catch it, and I hope you have a great week.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Fire Burns Out. R.I.P. Yordano "ACE" Ventura

I had a family gathering today.  It was actually a late Christmas gathering as we combine it with my mother's birthday which is later this week.  As my sister arrived, she came in and told me she'd bring the gifts in later.  She then said "I guess you heard the news".  I hadn't to be honest.  I spent the morning cleaning and getting ready for today, and usually on days we have family gatherings I don't spend much time online.  I was last on at about 2 AM, and once I woke up only got online to do a couple things I wanted done real quick, and no time for news or Facebook.  So I said "No".

"The Royals pitcher?"
"No, I haven't been online today."  (I suddenly got bad thoughts and was actually thinking of former Royal Edinson Volquez for some reason.)
"A Royals pitcher died in a car wreck in the Dominican Republic, stars with a Y."
*nervous stare* "Yordano?" (Now I started freaking out a bit, though to be honest any name would be sad).
"I don't think so, let me look on my phone."
*nervous stare continues* (I don't have a cell phone so I couldn't really look.  Instead while she looked I set up the movie Mulan for my nieces.
"Yeah, it looks like it was Yordano?  Ventura?  He was 25."

At this point I may not have shown it but I was gutted.  It came as a surprise shock, and no matter who it would be I'd still be upset.  As my sister and brother in law brought in the gifts and a bunch of cards they mentioned a while back, I snuck into the bedroom to check out ESPN.  With more live programming on the weekend, and the focus on the NFL playoffs, nothing was really said.  However it did scroll along the bottom that he had indeed died from a car wreck.  However before I turned it I got more news.  It turns out another player died in the Dominican Republic in a separate car accident.  Andy Marte was also killed and while I didn't have the emotional attachment to him, it both perplexed me and made me sad.

 I remembered the name Andy Marte, but not much else.  He played for the Indians, Braves, and the Diamondbacks, but he also played on the Dominican Winter League team with...

 Yordano Ventura.  Yordano is one of many talented MLB players from the Dominican Republic.  Another one of those players died tragically in a car accident two years ago, and it resonated with Ventura.

 Oscar Taveras died in a car wreck right before (or during) the 2014 World Series.  On the night Yordano was scheduled to pitch, it used a sharpie to put O.T. and Oscar's number on his hat to remember him.  I could imagine that it devastated the young "Ace".

 All the details aren't in yet on Ventura's (or Marte's) accidents, but one bit of information I did find out is that the Dominican Republic has the highest rate of car accidents of the Americas.  After the last few years, I don't dispute this.

As for Ventura, what hurts the most for me is that we will never see how he panned out.  Some may know him for his attitude issues the past couple years, some only know him from his World Series games.  Many know him from his time with the Royals as the future.  I believe while he was still working on those anger issues, he would have become the star for the Royals for next decade.  He could have been the next Bret Saberhagen.  To many that may not sound too impressive, but as a Royals fan, he would be the foundation for the next several years.  Add to the fact he'd have Salvador Perez behind the plate, and while many questions surround the future of the Royals with their payroll, Yo would have probably been a fan favorite for a long time.

I still can't really express the words on how I feel, as at the most basic, I'm very heartbroken.  Danny Duffy and Christian Colon were already in Kansas City and when people started coming to Kauffman Stadium to remember Ventura, Colon and newly re-signed Duffy  came to console the fans.  The flags are at half staff, and the fans are having a vigil to remember Yordano.

At this time I'm not even thinking about where the team goes from here, and how they will replace "Ace", but in a few weeks they will have to figure it out.  Until then I will just think of all the memories Yordano gave us.  As for Edison Volquez who I mentioned earlier, he's also had a bad week.  You may remember him from pitching a World Series on a night his father passed and his family didn't tell him until after the game.  Earlier this week, a brother of Edinson was stabbed and killed in his home country. THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC.

With nothing else to really say, I'll just wrap it up.  Maybe I can think of a better way to express my thoughts and post them later, but for now, this will do.  Thanks for reading, and on a day I found out one of my favorite current players died, I got a book about one of my favorite players I never got to see, Roberto Clemente.  A man whose career was also cut short.  I'll show my gifts off in a future post, but for now, I just wanted to say a bit about Yordano.  So rest in peace Yordano "Ace" Ventura, you'll be missed more than you will ever know.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Savvy Shopping: More Reading Material

Last time I showed off some Mizzou programs and Media Guides I got from my local non-profit thrift shop.  I had plenty to show and so today I have more to show.  I might skip a lot of comments today in favor of pictures so I can wrap up this series of posts.

I got another Basketball Media Guide, this one I have already.  A few interesting tidbits I think from this one.  I specifically seeked out the DeMarre Carroll because I'm a big fan.  His is still in the NBA.  I also included an impressive list of Mizzou players who made it to the NBA as well.  Lastly is something that's always interesting to me.  The list of retired numbers are all from players with the last name starting with the letter "S".  I think they rightfully belong, but I think its about time to retire a couple more.  One being Anthony Peeler's and the others being Doug Smith.  I think there could others included too, but until those players numbers are retired, nobody else's should be mentioned.  I think one other to consider is Kim Anderson's, but that may not be the best idea right now with the record he's had these last couple years as the head coach.  That being said, he was a great player at Mizzou and was a great assistant coach as well under Norm Stewart.  I just think it didn't work out so well as coach.  I think if they retire his number and keep him in some capacity at Mizzou if he chooses would be the smart move right now as they start searching for a new coach.

OK, back to football, here is the 2001 Media Guide.  Included here is a list of Mizzou players who made it to the NFL, retired numbers, a list of newcomers (including Brad Smith), a biography of Marcus James (an all around nice guy I met a few times), and perhaps the most interesting thing- information on Bowling Green.  On the surface, you may not think its too enticing but look closer and you notice Urban Meyer was their coach.  Look even closer and notice his first ever game as head coach was against Mizzou.  Now you can't tell on here, but Mizzou wasn't that great in 2001 and Bowling Green actually won the game in Missouri.  So Urban Meyer's first college game as a head coach was a win AT MISSOURI.  Not something I want everyone to really know, but it is an interesting stat.

Not too much more to add in the 2003 Media Guide, but a couple good photos, one of Brad Smith, the other of a bearded Gary Pinkel, something you never saw too often.  Also I included a biography of Damien Nash who would become a NFL player and would pass away a few years later after playing a charity basketball game in St. Louis.  He died in February of 2007 and was actually the second Denver Bronco to pass away that year after Darrent Williams died after being shot to death after getting out of a limo in Denver early on New Year's Day.

I really liked the design of the 2005 Media Guide.  It was nicely done I thought.  Not too different with info inside, but I chose a profile of William Moore, another player who made it to the NFL and I met him a couple times as well, as he was pretty nice.  I also included the page dedicated to Aaron O'Neil who died during practice in 2005.  One thing I liked about the 2005-2009 teams were they tried to remember "AO" every chance they could.  Some I'm sure was the University trying to get some pressure off them as his family filed a lawsuit (which I think they were right to do) against the staff and the University.  However the players themselves really went out of the way to honor their fallen teammate too.  They would get very sentimental every time his name was mentioned and he was never forgotten.

The center of the 2006 Media guide was metal, was looked and felt like a license plate.  I really liked it.  Like the others, most the info was the same, so I showed a couple more biographies.  Tony Temple was a couple years before I got into the team, but one of the first games I remember watching on TV was a 2008 (well 2007 season) bowl game against Arkansas where he set the record for (I think the Cotton Bowl) rushing record.  He ran so much that he actually had to be carried off the field on his last TD run as he was so tired.  I wish I got to see more of him. One guy I did see some of was Tommy Saunders.  I felt he was very underrated and he could have been a star in the NFL.  I thought the same for Tony Temple though. 

Here is the 2007 Media Guide, very similar to the last two, but the cover isn't too memorable.  Inside had more profiles and this time I chose two more I thought would be and almost were NFL stars.  Stryker Sulak was one I had so much confidence in that I remember getting rosters for NCAA Football and was so dominant he was a first round pick in the game.  In real life he was a sixth round pick by the Raiders.  However after he signed with them they needed roster space or something and was released before preseason even started.  After that I think he was on the practice squad of the Packers or at least was with them in the preseason but never made the team.  After that I never heard anything else.

Jeff Wolfert I would say was one of the best Mizzou kickers I'd ever seen and I long for the days he was the kicker.  Again, I played the heck out of him on NCAA and was again drafted high in the draft.  In real life I don't think he was drafted, but I think he had a few tryouts and may have even signed with a team or two.  His biggest achievement in the pros however was he was actually the kicker for the Omaha Nighthawks of the short lived UFL.  I was really hoping that he would get noticed and get another shot in the NFL but it never happened.

So I've spent three posts showing tons of items I got at Savvy Seconds and also got a couple more items as well.  In total I spent a total of just short of $13 bucks.  FOR ALL THAT 13 BUCKS!  That's a steal, and I would have done it all over again.  The main reason I got it though was because I wanted to get a good gift for a friend.  He collects anything Mizzou, and while I like things like this, I don't really have the space and he gave me a bunch of Mizzou basketball ones a couple years ago, so this is a nice way to pay him back.  I think he enjoyed the gift.

So that wraps it up.  I know I'm posting this at a weird hour but I was in the mood to write and nothing was on so I started typing.  Lately I've spent more time on Hulu and Roku in general as I have a few trials and have really caught a few shows I never would have before.  One I binge watched last night was called Sneaky Pete.  I liked it,  it was worth watching.  I also checked out a few more recent movies like Daddy's Home and the movie with Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vegara.  Once my trials I have now run out, I'll use a free trial I have to Sling and eventually get rid of cable.

Anyways, its late so thanks for reading and have a great week.