Friday, March 26, 2010

2010 Topps Series 1 Pack Break

It was finally time for me to break down and purchase a pack of 2010 cards. I'd been doing my best to stick to finishing off the 2009 Topps Series 2, U&H, 2009 Goudey SPs, and continue my work toward finishing the 1992 Stadium Club set, but I broke down and needed to feel like I was part of the club again.

I was happy to get a Brewer even if it was Craig Counsell. Anyone else notice what I did about this pack? A theme of sorts . . . ?

And for those of you who like the inserts, I'll show those off as well.

I'm not sure I care much for the shots of Major Leaugers in Little League. Doesn't do anything for me. I feel like there's been enough "History of the Game" type of stuff in recent years and it's time to move on. Counting Topps Town as cards is just sick and wrong.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Our Trophy - The Trevor Hoffman Rookie Card

I've said it once, and I'll say it again. I was dead wrong about Trevor Hoffman last year. I said he was washed up and there was nothing left in the tank. I said he couldn't get by with location and a nothing fastball. I was wrong.

However, something great came from being wrong. I learned why Hoff still had it. This dude is a machine. Here, check out some of thedetails.

So once I found out that Hoffman was a workout fiend and liked to continuously run laps around Petco/Miller Park before games, he became an inspiration to me and my running partner Brian. All last summer we'd talk about making Hoff proud by knocking out mile after mile, night after night. Of course we are resigned to MLB The Show for picking up our saves, but we've got the running part down.

As the summer wore on and we both got more and more into the baseball card scene, Brian noticed that our local card shop had a Hoffman Rookie Card. He gladly picked it up and now we're using it as a traveling trophy.

The last race we ran last season was the Baldwin Area Medical Center Booster Shot 10K. While there were only 4 men in my age group, I did manage to place 3rd while Brian placed fourth thus Hoffman is mine until April 17th when I'll be defending my title over 12.5K. Wish me luck, I'd like to keep the Hoffman card all summer!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Target Field - My First Look

A friend and I took a trip to Target Field this weekend for the season ticket holder open house. We split a 20 game package and I was excited to see how the stadium with the smallest urban footprint would look and feel.

My initial reaction is it felt a bit like PNC and a bit like Camden. I think the Camden feel I got was that you are able to walk in off the streets of downtown Minneapolis right into the RF bleachers. There's a small pavilion out there when you first get into the park. I feel like there are a couple other street entrances, but this is the one we used.

The concourses are wide and chock full of eating options. However the seating area is cramped by comparison. Next to Wrigely, which was designed for early 1900s American bodies I've never sat in smaller seats. I'm not an overly large person, but not the smallest either, and I think once you've got a row full of people it could get quite uncomfortable.

Back to the stadium itself. There are some real interesting features in this park. I love the scoreboard with Paul and Minnie, who will shake hands after a Twins homerun. If you look closely at the terrible photo from my Moto Q, you can see a granite facade in RF that overhands the field slightly. I'm very interested to see how and how often this comes into play. The seats in this small section are single game seats only, as I understand it. No season tickets there. It's good to spread the novelty around a bit.

Eventually we wandered up to our seats in section 301. The only bad part about Row 3 is that the tunnel from the concourse is still at eye level and loiterers could potentially block our view of home plate. I plan to make good friends with the Ushers in that section as quickly as possible. We definitely in the nose bleeds. Not even a towering Mauer or Morneau foul HR ball will reach us (I don't think). With that said, I'm still eagerly anticipating my first game in May against the Orioles.

To close, the stadium definitely has a quaint feel to it. All the seats are very close to the field. And I mean close. So close that I'd be afraid to sit in the box seats near the dugouts if I had a couple of beers in me. I'd probably wear a John Olerud style helmet and not forget my glove in the car.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

HBL Dynasty Team

It's that time of year again. My hopes and dreams are alive and well. All the various hamstrings, rotator cuffs and elbows are secure and in place.

The Hampshire Baseball League is a dynasty version of fantasy baseball. I created the league back in 2000, where it was still run with spreadsheets and email/phone call transactions. It wasn't until 2001 that we took our show online to CBS.

I'll be honest, I have no idea how I put the concept for this league together, but somehow we ended up with a fantasy game that mimics the MLB pretty well.

For starters, our twelve team league rolls with a 25 man roster. We start nine hitters, one from each position plus a DH, and seven pitchers. We're required by commissioner decree to play at least three starting pitchers and two relief pitchers. The other two pitchers are dealers choice.

Our rosters round out with a 9 man bench. In addition to this, we conduct a yearly Minor League Player draft during the All-Star break. This is to fill our 10 minor league spots. You can draft whomever you'd like in this draft so long as they've not exhausted rookie eligibility requirement as established by MLB.

As I said in the beginning, this is a dynasty league. A keeper league but with no real limit on the number of players you can keep. It breaks down like this.

We use a salary cap of $54.25. That's real money (we've since added a buy-in fee of $50 to spice things up as we've gotten older and more established financially).

You may use that $54.25 as you wish across your 25 players. After the season, each player you decided to keep will cost you an additional $0.50. A $1.00 player will become $1.50 in Year 2. Every three years, a player's salary will double instead of moving up $0.50. Here's an example, the best from our league, Albert Pujols.

2001: 0.25
2002: 0.75
2003: 1.25
2004: 2.50
2005: 3.00
2006: 3.50
2007: 7.00
2008: 7.50
2009: 8.00
2010: 16.00

We actually thought no one would ever survive 10 years on the same contract, but after owning AP for 9 years, the original owner who plucked him off the waiver pile in 2001 for a quarter just traded him to a team that found a home for his $16.00. Incredible.

As you can see, keeping even 10 players will increase your overall salary a minimum of $5, and if any of those players is doubling you may find yourself strapped for cash in a heartbeat. Especially when doling out $16.00 to AP.

This is why the Minor League Draft is critical. Much like MLB, growing your own talent is crucial to building a competitive team in this league. Each year, the auction we have in March is filled with players who were dumped because their salaries became unmanagable for one reason or another. As you can imagine in this dynasty league, the pickings are slim in the March auction and this leads to over-inflated prices. Sure you can find some deals, but someone like CC Sabathia is now available every March because someone will inevitably overpay for pitching.

This is why I say our league mirrors the MLB setup quite a bit. Players drafted in the Minor League Draft are given a salary (once promoted) based on the round they were selected. $1.00 for first rounders, $0.75 for second, $0.50 for third, and $0.25 for fourth. With this structure in place, the contract increase and doubling system basically works as our arbitration process. If a player is good enough to keep, in his first 7 years in the league he may make: $1.00, $1.50, $2.00, $4.00, 4.50, $5.00, $10 before finally becoming a Free Agent.

I wanted to share this unique setup because I feel like there are a lot of 32 man roster, $260, cookie cutter leagues out there now and I'm proud of the very unique league my friends have helped me build over the years. As a kicker, I'm proud to say I've won three titles in this league, although my last came in 2005 and I've since taken over the former last place team in the league while allowing another set of friends to take over my old team. Without further ado, I present to you my roster for the upcoming season.

C: AJ Pierzynski
1B: Lance Berkman
2B: Dan Uggla
SS: Troy Tulowitzki
3B: Evan Longoria
OF: Jay Bruce
OF: Carl Crawford
OF: Raul Ibanez
DH: Derek Jeter

SP: Jake Peavy
SP: Justin Verlander
SP: Mark Buehrle
SP: Jon O. Sanchez
SP: Ian Kennedy
RP: Carlos Marmol
RP: Heath Bell

2B: Rickie Weeks
OF: Lastings Milledge
SP: Wade LeBlanc
SP: Pedro Martinez
SP: Billy Buckner
SP: Dave Bush
SP: James McDonald
RP: Scott Downs
RP: Jason Frasor

Our in-season Free Agency opens up on March 29th, a week before the season kicks off and some of these guys will already be dead weight. Normally we wouldn't have auctioned so early, but with the due date of the new baby scheduled for March 26th, we didn't have much choice other than to tuck it into the last week of February. I look forward to regaling you with tales of our championship season, and displaying some cards of my players from week to week.

For the record, my off-season moves entailed moving a bunch of guys (Zobrist, Cueto, Chris Davis, De La Rosa, Ryan Howard) for Evan Longoria and Carlos Marmol. My big free agent signings were Jeter and Peavy for $8 each, and I traded Colby Rasmus who will eventually be up for $0.25 - I'll probably regret that, but I needed help now - for Carl Crawford who is $7.50 and has two years left before he doubles again (making him a FA). I'm currently sitting on Brett Anderson, Carlos Santana, and Jeff Niemann in my minors. I'm hoping all three will contribute this year, thus all the fliers at the back-end of my rotation and at catcher with AJ.

The Man, The Myth, The Master Photo

If there was a trophy to commemorate the craziness that went on this winter, I'd hope that this photo would be etched into the trophy.

It appears as if Bip is Superman, flying into home plate, bringing you a sack full of crappy cards you've got no use for.

That concludes my most excellent estate sale find. I was happy to be able to get a string of posts in again.

With funds being held in check, I'm laying low until the A&G release and taking a stab at the Ginter Code again this year.

Monday, March 15, 2010

George Brett 1993 Stadium Club Master Photo

Quick post to try and make good on my promise to show all 6 quickly. Didn't see as much free time over the weekend as I would have liked.

I like this one quite a bit!

Only 1 remains!

Friday, March 12, 2010

1993 Topps Stadium Club Master Photo #4

Another Oaktown masher. Mr. Ruben Sierra to you. I had the utmost respect for Ruben as a player. I felt like he was a solid athlete with good to great power. Injuries started to derail him right as he hit his prime and he also was plagued with a normal person's player arc. Oh what roids could have done for Ruben.

He was 2nd in the MVP balloting in 1989 and was only 23 years old. This kid had a bright future. He still managed to play for 20 years and smacked over 300 HRs. He played with a ton of teams, but I'll probably most remember him as a Ranger or Yankee.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

1993 Topps Stadium Club Master Photo #3

Since Blogger decided to not let me post with pictures last night, I'm going to make up for lost time and post the 3rd of 6 cards I came across this weekend.

None other than the embattled Bash Brother himself, Mark McGwire. I won't say I feel bad for Mark, because I don't. And I won't say he belongs in the Hall of Fame, because he doesn't. Did you know that BJ Surhoff has more hits than Mark McGwire? Other than the lofty HR numbers, he wasn't anything special. Although I do believe he knew/knows how to hit. I see a lot of current players crediting him with helping them.

Most recently it's been Bobby Crosby. Another guy that broke my fantasy baseball heart.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

1993 Topps Stadium Club Master Photo #2

Blogger decided to be a pain in my butt last night and not let me upload photos. As promised, number two in my series of six 1993 Stadium Club Master Photos that I purchased from an estate sale this weekend.

I've actually got quite the soft spot for Delino DeShields. He was a staple of my early 90s fantasy teams. I loved his speed and bat at second base. Paired up with Marquis Grissom in Montreal it was fun to watch that team run.

Delino went on to have a nice little 13 year career with his best season coming in 1997 with the Cardinals.

And since a couple of you emailed asking me . . . yes I'll consider trading these if you come across something you like. Of the six, there's probably going to be one that I'm going to have to keep.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Estate Sale Treasure Hunting

One lousy post per month since the new year? Terrible.

But wait, I've got plenty of excuses. However, they entirely revolve around waiting for a baby to show up. Just a momentary shift in priorities, or at least that's what I keep telling myself.

So anyway, back to the story. I was out this weekend with my wife, running some errands and she saw a sign for an estate sale. She loves going to these things, looking around for random things.

I took a quick tour of the house. The sale had been going on for at least a day and things were picked over pretty well. I ended up in a room with a ton of 1987 and 1991 Twins gear. Sweatshirts, Wheaties boxes - all the standard stuff you'd expect to find just outside of Minneapolis.

I almost didn't notice a small cardboard mailer with what I thought at first were just baseball photos. Turns out they were Master Photos from the 1993 Topps Stadium Club set. I don't want to ruin the surprise, because honestly, this is going to get much cooler than former Yankee Sam Militello.

As a second side note, the scanner didn't do these cards justice. My goal is to rattle off the 6 "cards" I found over the next 6 days.

In the meantime, has anyone else every seen these? From what I can tell, it looks like they were mailed from Topps to the previous owner sometime back in 1993. I'm very curious to hear if anyone else has some of these photos and the story behind them.