Category Archives: Bowman

Whats’is: 2013 Bowman Inception Baseball

Say it ain’t so Bowman, say it ain’t so.  While I accept your Chrome cards, your Platinum effort, and the always hideous Sterling as a price to be paid for a solid base product, I can’t get behind this new thing you’re doing.  Inception?  Why?  Why do we need another ultra high end product?  I’m getting very tired of single pack boxes (if there is only one pack, it is called a PACK!) that sell for exorbitant sums.  We have enough of this with Topps Tier 1, Triple Threads, Museum Collection, etc.  It is unnecessary to expand this idea to the Bowman line.  I don’t want to drop $150 (or whatever it may cost) on the opportunity to get a couple high end cards of prospects who may or may not pan out.  It is one thing to give me the opportunity to get a Pujols or Mays autograph or a Ruth relic, but the chance to get a 1/1 Dylan Bundy is not selling me on the high end product.  The point of prospect collecting, at least in my eyes, is to invest a  reasonable amount now for a potential profit later, if I’m investing a lot now I want immediate returns.

Not to mention this awful design.  What’s with the clouds?  Is it raining prospects?  Are they supposed to be angels?  Bowman, you’ve abandoned all trappings of good design.  You need to rethink this.

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2012: Best Of.

I love lists.  That may be an admission of sloth or my simple nature, but I love lists.  They are so easy to digest and they save me from reading a lot of “words.”  Therefore, without further ado (adieu?), here are a few Pack a Week year end lists for your enjoyment.

Pack a Week Hits of the Year (aka my best pack pulls):

1.  2012-13 Panini Threads Anthony Davis Autograph

2012-13 Panini Threads Anthony Davis Autograph

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  2012 Topps Archives Yu Darvish Autograph

2012 Topps Archive Yu Darvish Autograph

3.  2012 Topps Target Exclusive Red No-Name Error Mickey Mantle

2012 Topps Target Exclusive Red Mickey Mantle No-name Error

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.  2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects Black Michael Wacha Autograph

Bowman Black.

5.  2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects Aflac All-American Michael Zunino Autograph

Aflac.

Honorable Mention (not a pack pull but I love it):

1997 Bowman Derek Jeter Autograph

The best player. The best company.  The best autograph.  Definitive.

As you can see, my year was back loaded with hits.  Other than the Mickey Mantle error, all of my best pulls came in the last two months of the year.  That is not to say that I didn’t have fun the rest of the year, but the last two months reaffirmed my love of busting boxes.

Tops 5 Products of the Year:

1.  2012 Topps Mini Baseball

2012 Topps Mini Bryce Harper

Mini baseball, from a design perspective, is no different than the Topps base set this year other than the fact that they are about 1/3 smaller.  While I thought that the Topps base was fine this year, the design is not the reason that I give Mini the product of the year honors, it is the restraint, value, and fun that give it the top spot.  This product, reviewed here, contained a limited number of inserts and the parallels had very limited print runs, meaning that when you pulled an insert or a paralell it felt special, which is something that many products lack: a feeling that you pulled something special.  The product was also limited to, apparently, a few thousand boxes, making everything more valuable on the secondary market.  The limited print run also made pulling printing plates, numbered 1/1, a much easier task.  Boxes were available only through the Topps on-line store and cost, a reasonable, $50.  Mini seemed like a reward to the fans and the collectors and it was fun; I appreciate Topps for doing it.

IMG_1139IMG_1141

2.  2012 Topps Archives

1984

Archives is all about nostalgia and it delivered on nostalgia.  Topps split the base set into four separate, classic designs (the most pleasing, if you ask me, is the 1984), they brought back the fan-favorite autographs, including autos of super-hyped, super rookies Bryce Harper and Yu Darvish, and gave us box-toppers of Billy Zabka (sweep the leg!!!!!) and cut-autos of Vanna White.  What more do you want you greedy jerk?

2012 Topps Archives Oscar Gamble Fan Favorites Autograph2012 Topps Archives Carl Yastrmzeski

3.  2012-13 Panini Threads Basketball

2012-13 Panini Threads Blake Griffin

I’m a notorious Panini hater,  I usually think their designs are busy, the inserts are ridiculous and ugly, and the autos are sticker drops.  Threads fixed most of this.  The design was solid and harkened back to the classic Upper Deck designs of the mid-90’s and the autos were on-card (wood cards for that matter).  The inserts still suck (you can’t win them all).  The set also includes rookie cards from the last two draft classes due to the lock out, however all the rookie cards are autos and therefore super, ultra, mega chase cards (see Anthony Davis above).  While I haven’t had much of a return on these cards on the secondary market (sans Anthony Davis), I like these cards enough just to keep them.  Collecting for the sake of collectin, go figure.

2012-13 Panini Threads Bismack Biyombo Autograph2012-13 Panini Threads Kyrie Irving Floor Generals

4.  Left Field Cards

IMG_1361

Design-wise, this is my favorite product of the year.  These are hand made, letter-press printed baseball cards (though they double as postcards).  My review can be read here.  They can be ordered here.  Since it is my favorite design, you may be asking why they are fourth?  It is really only because they lack the chase aspect of normal cards because they are purchased in series and you know what you are getting ahead of time. (I’m a gambler at heart and love the thrill of the chase).  But don’t get me wrong, I’m still excited about these cards, especially to see what future series have in store.

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5.  2012 Bowman Baseball (+Draft Picks and Prospects)

2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects Bryce Harper

What can I say: prospects, prospects, prospects.  Bowman delivers with another solid design, good crop of autographs, and some good inserts and paralells.  Nothing sets this apart from years past, but the product continues to be one of my favorites every year.  Kudos.

IMG_0669  IMG_0674

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Christmas 2012: Just the hits please.

Another year, another Christmas box opened with my pop.  This is year 19 of our Christmas tradition and since we are a family of few traditions this is my favorite.  This years box: 2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects.  DP&P is always a must buy, while I don’t recognize a lot of the names the prospector in me knows how important this product will be down the line if any of these guys turn into Pujols, Trout, or Harper since these are the first cards and autographs for many young players.  DP&P is essentially Bowman’s version of Update, so the design is identical to this years Bowman base, which  I find appealing with it’s large pictures, team coordinated borders and simple, silver foil text.

2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects Bryce Harper

Valdespin, again.  If Valdespin becomes the next Jeter then I'm in the money with all Jordany RC's I've pulled this year.

Valdespin, again. If Valdespin becomes the next Jeter then I’m in the money with all the Jordany RC’s I’ve pulled this year.

Jeter's successor?  Probably not but a fella can hope.

Jeter’s successor? Probably not, but a fella can hope.

 

The Chrome cards, as is well known, are not my favorite but they are a good investment as they are generally worth 50% more than their non-metallic counterparts.  I’ve actually learned to love Chrome recently, as I’ve realized that reselling my Chrome pulls allows me to recoup some of my cost and keep my favorite players around in all their non-Chrome glory.

2012 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks & Prospects Yoenis Cespedes

Jesmuel.  I can't say it, but I like it.

Jesmuel. I can’t say it, but I like it.

We can’t forget abou the ever-present parallels, which also help increase the value of the product.  No big parallel pulls this time around.  (Don’t worry, there were hits…boy were there hits).

2012 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Blue Abe Ruiz

Blue Refractor

Blue Refractor

Silver Ice

Silver Ice

There is also a solid insert pairing old and new top draft picks, cleverly enough it is called Top Picks.  The cards are nice, featuring consitent black borders with silver and gold accents and blurbs on the back detailing the players as a pair.  These fall 1 in 6, so they are not tough pulls by any means but they do feature some bigger names and could get a few dollars on the secondary market.

2012 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Top Picks Jeter & Almora2012 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Harper & Hamilton

The hits, you say? The hits:

Bowman Black.

Bowman Black.

It took the whole Bowman season, but I finally pulled a Bowman Black Autograph.  I’m not familiar with Michael Wacha, but I do know what /25 means, so Merry Christmas to me.  The card itself is very thick, about 4x thicker than a normal card and is as clean and simple as what you see above.  I really love the silver ink autograph and the simplicity of the card, but there is a pretty big drawback: the condition.  The card has quite a bit of chipping on the edges which I would attribute to the black border and extreme thickness of the card.  I would say this grades an 8 out of the pack, which is unacceptable.  If anyone else had this problem leave a comment, I’d like to know how widespread this issue is.

I would have been satisfied with a single Bowman Black hit, but this was a bonus box, giving me this surprise:

Aflac.

Aflac.

High School All-American autos are a bit of a holy grail for me, there is no auto before these for most of these players and you often get a super cheesy photo out of the deal.  This is actually a 2008 Aflac All-American card, so the design is obviously different than the base set.  As you can see this was serial numbered out of 225, so they are relatively rare.  Zunino had a solid first season, hitting over .300 with 15 homes in 63 games between rookie ball, single A, and double A.

I also pulled a few codes for the Bowman Prospect Challenge.  This is basically a fantasy baseball game where you collect codes which gives you the opportunity to select players who will then accumulate stats over the course of next season.  All the players are prospects and it appears that bonus points will be given, in addition to normal stats based points, when players are promoted.  I’m a fantasy player and a card collector, so this is right up my alley.  Prizes are detailed on the game site.

Based on hits alone, I give this a 5/5.  Factoring in the design, inserts, and new-fangled Bowman fantasy baseball it is a 4.5/5, a worthy purchase for any prospector or autograph hound.

 

 

 

 

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The Best: In Hand.

I am now the proud owner of the greatest card that I’ve ever seen.  Yes, I finally purchased a 1997 Bowman Derek Jeter Autograph card.

It is a thing of beauty.  The card is so simple, so perfect.  The autograph itself is worthy of the player who signed it.  Rarely do I say this, but it will never be for sale.  Behold:

The best player. The best brand. The best autograph. Definitive.

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Weekend Pickups

Part 1:  Accidental Purchases

I had to run some errands on Friday night, so I found myself at Target.  I am not capable of entering a Target without leaving with some cards, therefore I found myself in the card section.  I was contemplating getting a blaster box of Bowman Chrome but decided that it would be better not to spend $20 on a blaster, instead I decided on a few packs of BC.  I spotted a value pack (discussed herein) and figured that was the best bang for my buck.  Fast forward to the parking lot, I grab my pack out of the bag only to discover that what I grabbed was a value pack of Bowman Platinum.  I’m not a huge fan of BP this year (see previous post), so I thought about going back in and exchanging it but laziness got the better of me and I decided to open it.  Was I glad that I did.

Turns out that this value pack contained what I like to call a “retail superpack.”  A retail superpack is a retail pack that contains an autograph.  I suppose I could have just said I got an autograph, but why be simple when I can invent terms.  I got a Carter Capps autograph out of the pack, now I don’t know who Carter Capps is or if he is related to Matt Capps, but what I do know is that I got an on-card autograph of a Mariners prospect who threw 28 k’s in 25 innings with the big club this season and 19 saves along with a 13 k/9 in AA.  Seems like a solid performer and card worth holding on to.

Aside from a solid autograph I also pulled a few more interesting cards.  First, a Yu Darvish rookie card.  We all know about Darvish, so I’ll save any sort of analysis but i’m hoping to get a few bucks for it since I’m not a Rangers fan.  I also got a Wil Myers Top Prospect card.  Myers looks like he could go on to accomplish big things as a power hitting prospect in the Royals system.  Anecdotally, I watched him almost hit for the cycle in Tucson, putting solid contact on the ball every time he swung, statiscally he hit 37 bombs between AA and AAA along with an average over .300 and a 10% walk rate.  He’ll need to cut down on a high 20’s strikeout rate before he’s a star in the majors.  I also pulled a Troy Tulowitzki Cutting Edge Stars die-cut card.  This is another straight to eBay item given that I’m not a fan of Tulo or die-cuts, however as far as die-cuts go it’s fairly solid lacking the jagged edges that so often make them look stupid and horribly gimmicky.

The value pack also came with a bonus pack of Purple Refractor Prospect cards.  Nothing too exciting here, a couple of solid pitching prospects.  Hopefully something that will be interesting someday.

Shelby Miller

Matt Harvey

While it is still not favorite product, for reasons discussed previously, I can’t argue with good pulls, so overall this was pleasant mistake.

Part 2: Topps Update

I hadn’t purchased any packs of Update since it was released, so when  I found myself back at Target on Saturday I said to myself “no time like the present.”  I didn’t say that, but I wanted some so I got it.   The design is, of course, the Topps base design this year, so you know already if you like it.  I personally think it is solid as I mentioned in my Topps Mini post.  The draw of Update to me is always the rookies and the All-Star relics.  While I was disappointed on the relic front completely (I may have too high expectations for my two pack purchase), I did get a couple of interesting rookies.  First I got Trevor Bauer, who is a very exciting D-Backs prospect out of UCLA.  He has a crazy delivery and an even crazier warmup routine (look it up), but I’m afraid that his arm will explode ala Mark Prior in the next couple of years, so I’m prepared to enjoy watching him for the next couple of years because that is all we may get.

Don’t sleep on 174 k’s in 146 innings between the majors, AAA, and AA. Crazy numbers.

I also pulled a Jodany Valdespin rookie, not the most exciting player but, as I’ve said, the best name.  I do feel like I’ve seen this card before though…

Hmmm…

Maybe it’s because we have…

Reusing photos is bad form Topps, bad form.  Minus 3.

Aside from a few rookies, the rest of my interesting pulls were parallels.  One gold, one target exclusive red, and one gold sparkle.

Yadier Molina Gold

Rhiner Cruz Red.

Anibal Sanchez Gold Sparkle.

Finally, I just wanted to mention that the Oakland A’s yellow uniforms are the best in baseball.  I dare you to argue with me.

Part 3: Panini Prestige

My second target trip also resulted in a couple packs of 2012-13 Panini Prestige.  My dislike of Panini is well known, but I wanted to get a few packs of basketball because it’s basketball season and I’m starting to get excited.  Prestige, unfortunately, suffers from some of the normal Panini trappings, the cards are over-designed and they shift the emphasis off of the photography as whole and just focus on the player featured.  The base cards do use restraint in regards to logos and the bottom borders that contain the players name, so that is a plus.

The rookie cards, as always are the chase.  While the base design is tolerable, the rookie design is too busy.  I wish that Panini would have just used the base design for the rookies, having a different design destroys the continuity and makes it seem like a subset.  Subsets do not hold up over the years.  On a personal note, I was happy to get a Kyrie Irving rookie, while the second round picks have a place in the set, I’m tired of getting them.

Finally I pulled a couple inserts.  First was a Steve Nash Hardcourt Heroes.  I’ll never forgive Nash for going to the Lakers (if he wanted to win he should have gone to the Heat, at least they are not the Suns direct rival) and this card is ugly and it sucks.  Another generic, non-sense Panini insert.  Blech.  The other insert was a  Larry Bird/Magic Johnson Connections card.  This card, by all accounts, should be something I hate; the pictures are cut outs of the players and the card is busy.  But I like it.  The images are of younger Bird and Magic, the foil logo gives it a nice touch and they way the players are off-set is pleasing to the eye.  Another surprising design success by Panini.  Maybe there is hope.

Prestige boasts a solid checklist, featuring this and last years rookies as well as autographs of past, present, and future stars.  The design is tolerable but not special.  Panini needs to look at classic sports card design and get away from gimmicky, 90’s cards to really get it right.  Overall, 3/5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cards for Sale

I try not to make my blog too commercial, but I’d feel a bit remiss if I didn’t try to help myself here.

Please check out my eBay auctions.  I recently had a bunch of Mike Trout stuff graded and am now selling a bit of it.  There is also quite a few other items for sale at the moment.

Check it out.

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Time Machine: 2013 Bowman Baseball Preview

Apparently Bowman week at Pack a Week continues.  Today Bowman posted a preveiw of their 2013 base product on Facebook (see gallery for images).  So here is my take on the new edition of my favorite product.

The good:  Autographs, autographs, and more autographs.  Bowman is including, as usual, as many rookie and prospect autographs as they can pack in.  Beyond their usual chrome prospect and rookie autos, they are bringing black the Bowman Black autos (black card, silver marker, super sleek) and including Franchise Dual Autographs.  Bowman is also throwing in Oversized 1948 Style autograph box topper cards.  I love the idea and, given that they are limited to /20, they should make for good chase cards.  It is the 65th anniversary of Bowman and I like them going back to the well and making chase cards out of the original design.

Let us not forget prospects, prospects, and prospects; it’s what Bowman is known for.  We don’t know the checklist yet, or who we’re going to be chasing, but it’s so much more interesting getting a new guys first card then Pujols 10,004th.

Bowman returns all the normal paralells, which produce good return on the secondary market (it’s always nice to off-set the cost of the box).  Certain paralells, and the printing plates, are jumbo only.  That may be a bad in some peoples eyes, but it’s a good for me because I always buy a jumbo box.  As an aside, anyone who can afford the jumbo that doesn’t buy it is a fool, you get so much more bang for your buck.

The mini trend made it’s way over to the sister product.  Bowman is inserting Mini Chrome Prospect cards in the packs.  I love the little guys and I would love them more if they weren’t chrome.  Which brings me to the bad.

The Bad:  Too much chrome.  Bowman already puts out a 100% Chrome product, why must there be so much Chrome in the base product this year.  Almost all the inserts and autos are chrome.  Even the Top 100 prospect set is chromed, which bums me out because it’s my favorite insert and brings me to my next point.  The Top 100 prospects insert set looks hideous.  The design is stupid and futuristic and the inclusion of refractors and die-cuts only makes it worse (bad designs are not improved by making it even shinier or giving jagged edges, it’s poop either way).  The Top 100 set will only be redeemed if I pull a die-cut auto that I can then sell for a Benjamin.

The most disappointing thing, however, is that the base card design is not so hot.  The borders are intrusive and busy, and as you know I hate busy.  The base set really reminds me of a Topps set, which is ok but doesn’t fill me with the same joy as the normal, simple, clean Bowman designs.  Every few years Bowman has an off year where they go overboard on the design elements and disappoint me.  I can get past it because it’s Bowman, but I really wish they would stick to the simple formula that makes them my favorite.  Bowman cards really need to continue to rely on solid prospect checklists and autographs and clean designs with good photography; it is the essence of the hobby.

The Interesting:  The Ultimate Prospect Card featuring autographs of 25 players.  How big is this card?  Is a two card book covered in stickers or a 25 card book, ala Panini, with a single card for each player.  How much will it sell for?  Will the ebay price make me angry?  What if I pull it?  Just kidding, I never pull anything like that, but I am interested to see what this thing is.

Lucky 5 Redemption.  What is this?  Will they be buybacks?  I love buybacks, especially if they’re autographed.

Blue Sapphire Refractor Program.  These cards will be inserted across various Bowman products next year.  They appear to be reprints of iconic Bowman cards with shiny blue borders.  I love the reprint idea to celebrate the 65th anniversary, however the blue borders look gaudy.  I will reserve judgment until I see the checklist and the cards in person.

In closing, Happy Anniversary Bowman.  I can’t wait until May.

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Retail Pickup: 2012 Bowman Chrome

‘Tis Chrome season.  First Topps then Bowman.  While Chrome is not my favorite color, I do love Bowman so I was more excited about last weeks release then I was about Topps Chrome a few weeks earlier.  I thoroughly enjoyed this years Bowman design.  It had clean lines as usual, quality photography, and nice borders.  While I prefer the non-Chrome version, I appreciate the design even at it’s shiniest.

I decided to forego a box of Chrome (I’m saving my remaining yearly box money for Bowman Draft Picks) and did not have time to hit up the local card shop, so I settled for a value pack from the local retail outlet.  The value pack includes three packs and bonus pack of green refractor cards.  The packs contain three cards each, with one being a prospect.  The package advertises a “bonus pack of 3 green bordered xfractor propspect parallel cards,” but they are lying they are not all prospects and they are not xfractors.  I will forgive them for their oversight, but only because I couldn’t stop buying Bowman if I wanted to.

Here’s the haul:

Green Refractors of Gio Gonzalez, Jason Heyward, JaDamion Williams.  Nothing too exciting here, two minor star types and a speedy prospect with potential to move up in the Twins organization.

Is it just me or did Jason Heyward age 15 years?

All-Star Futures Game Tommy Joseph insert.  These inserts are are moderately tough pulls at 1:12.  It would have been much nicer if it had been the relic version.  As for the design itself, I find it to be overly stylized and busy.  It’s a definite eBay listing in my book, though I’m not sure the market exists for Joseph.

Jordanny Valdespin rookie.  Best. Name. In. Baseball.

Jordaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaany Valdespiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Base cards of Paul Goldschmidt, Nelson Cruz, Dan Haren, and Yunel Escobar.  I’m a big fan of Goldschmidt.  He reminds me of Adam LaRoche with more upside and hitting at Chase Field could mean some monster home run seasons when he fully develops his power.  The D-Backs are my NL team, so I’m hoping that him and Justin Upton can really come together in the next few years to get the D-Backs back in contention.  By the way, what the hell happened to Dan Haren, he fell off a cliff.  His groundball rate is down, his home run rate is up, and he’s walking a lot more guys.  Truly a recipe for disaster.  I’m wondering if he’ll bounceback or if this is it considering he’s 32.

Finally, prospect cards of Roberto De La Cruz, Lane Adams, and Jamal Austin.  I don’t any of these guys by name or reputation.  Basing my opinion completely off the information contained on the back of the cards I would say that De La Cruz is the most interesting.  He is a 20 year old third baseman out of the D.R.  He’s a power hitter who looks like he could stick at third.  The last time the Cardinals had a Dominican power hitting third baseman in the minors he turned out to be Albert Pujols.  Wishful thinking I suppose.

I love this years Bowman design and the checklist is solid, including multiple autograph sets (a must in a Bowman product), Futures Games Relics, and Futures Game Hat redemptions (this is where they send you a dude’s hat, pretty sweet), so I’ll give it a 4/5.  The value pack was a decent value even if the cards weren’t Harpers or Trouts and I would recommend it for those on a budget.

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One Win Short

The Washington Nationals lost game 5 of the NLDS to the St. Louis Cardinals. They lost in heartbreaking fashion, collapsing in the 9th inning and losing the series. This loss was not only heartbreaking because of how it was suffered by because this was the first time that a Washington baseball team had made the playoffs in almost 80 years. That is an insane playoff drought.

Washington made a great run this season. Years of high draft picks and solid management allowed Washington to put together a fantastic rotation and a decent offense. They finished the season with the best record in baseball. They also called up Bryce Harper, who, with the exception of Mike Trout, is the most exciting young player in baseball. Harper will likely be a fan favorite for years to come and should be a big draw for the Nationals. I, for one, hope that he lives up to the hype and that the Nationals can keep him in Washington. It’s good for the team and for baseball to have guys who define teams. The MLB would really lose something if guys like Jeter, Ripken, Gwynn, and George Brett didn’t exist. Without those types of guys baseball loses its identity. Nobody wants a league of mercenaries who change teams every three years.

Kudos to Washington for what they’ve put together. With players like Harper, Zimmerman, Morse, and Gio Gonzalez their future looks bright, I’m thinking an NL version of the Rays, but with a stronger upside because they are in a better market. However, I’m here today to talk about Stephen Strasburg, the centerpiece of their rotation for years to come. He’s a guy who threw 197 strikeouts in 159 innings. He had a 3.16 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. He put up a 2.82 FIP (that’s fielding indepenet pitching, click the link if you don’t know about it).  Not to mention a 4.3 WAR.  He is an ace, a certifiable ace.  We all know that, me, you, the pundits, and the hobby.  If the Nationals can keep him and Harper healthy and under contract, they are a force to be reckoned with.  Washington did not use him in the NLDS.  Let me repeat that, they did not use their best arm in the playoffs.

I understand that Washington wanted to shut Strasburg down after 160 innings.  He is a young pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery and they didn’t want to push his innings ala Mark Prior.  They wanted to “protect their investment” for years to come.  But why are they invested in him?  The answer: to win.  They want to build a winning club.  But they have built a winning club, this years club.  They had the best record in baseball behind the best pitching staff in the majors.  They were set to win this year and they blew it because of an artificial innings cap that they created.  This could have been their year but they will never know because they wouldn’t allow Strasburg to pitch at least six more innings.  One Strasburg start in the NLDS could have made all the difference in the world.  They were one win away from moving on.

The Nationals set a four man rotation of Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson, and Ross Detwiler for the NLDS.  In their defense, we saw solid performances out of Gonzalez and Detwiler.  Jordan Zimmermann was shelled in game 2 and Jackson in game 3.  Now, we know that Zimmermann remains in the rotation even if Strasburg is in it.  If Strasburg starts a game then either Jackson or Detwiler are displaced, most likely Detwiler, as he was the fourth starter.  Now, you may be saying that you’d basically be replacing one of their solid starters in the series, and you’d be right.  But you’d also have a different pitcher for game 2, assuming that Strasburg is slotted as the nubmer 2 starter to avoid giving him two starts, which was a huge loss for the Nats.  Strasburg starts game 2 at St. Louis, maybe works some magic and they go back home up 2-0.  This takes a lot of pressure off of the other starters, gives Zimmermann a home field advantage and maybe we’re talking about a San Francisco and Washington NLCS.  But we’ll never know because Washington decided they weren’t all in for this year.

I sincerely hope, for the sake of the Nats fans, that they make the playoffs in the years to come, because if they don’t sitting Strasburg may go down as one of the dumbest moves of all time.  You always have to play for this year.  Next year may never come (at least the playoffs may not).

This card has sold for some ugodly sums of money. He still hasn’t started in the playoffs though. Frowny face for Nats fans.

P.S.  I’m really tired of the Cardinals.

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The Best: The Captain

Baseball began for me in the early nineties.  You can look at my previous post about 1991 Topps Baseball for more on that.  When I began caring about baseball my favorite players were already established, guys like Griffey, Strawberry, Nolan Ryan, and Frank Thomas were established and, for the most part, had already had most of their great moments.  Griffey’s meteoric rise had already happened.  Ryan had already pitched all of his no-hitters, and Strawberry’s glory days were behind him.  These weren’t guys I grew up with, these were guys who defined the game before I was even interested in it.  I still loved watching their highlights and, even more, I loved chasing their cards, but they weren’t “my” guys.

All my favorite baseball players from 1992 in one place.

Around 1995 I started rooting for the Yankees above all else.  I no longer identified Ken Griffey, Jr. as my favorite player because he was not a Yankee.  I was true fan.  This was the influence of my dad.  He was always a Yankee fan and he made sure I became one too.  That season was a defining season for me and it was for the modern Yankees.  Though I watched in despair as the Yankees lost to my former favorite player in the ALDS, I also caught a glimpse of the future in the form of Derek Jeter.  The future captain got called up that season to play 15 games.  He hit .250 and I had no idea what was about to happen.

The next season Jeter became a regular, the Yankees hired Joe Torre, and the Yankees won the first of four championships with a Jeter/Torre combination.  I became all to used to October/November baseball and I got to witness the beginning of a career for one of the all-time greatest Yankees and my favorite player.  Since that time my dad and I have collected all-things Jeter, cards, coins, Starting Lineups, and miscelleaneous memorabilia.  He is one of the modern greats, a player with no ties to steroids (unless you talk to the skeptics and the Yankee haters), who played hard day in and day out and did it with one team.  His exploits don’t need to be recounted here, we all know them (first Yankee with 3000 hits, a .313 career average, five rings, and lots of unforgettable playoff moments).  Jeter is more than a great player for me, he is the one truly great player that I’ve been able to follow for his whole career and he has represented the last 16 years of baseball for me.

I own quite a few Jeter cards, including his Topps, Upper Deck, and Bowman rookie cards.  No matter the product, good, bad, valuable or worthless, I save the Jeters.  I know it’s funner to hear about the guys who collect the underdogs or the kooks, but I’m a Jeter guy, like a lot of other collectors, and there’s not much I can do about it.  We share a name and he’s the best player of the last 16 years (disagree with me if you want, but I think the arguments are pretty strong for him), he plays for my favorite team, and he’s the first guy in 25 years with even a plausible shot of breaking Pete Rose’s record.  I’m a Jeter guy and I’m not ashamed of it.  When he retires I’ll miss his sweet swing, his (unnecessary) jumping throws at short, and his diplomatic approach.  He has his flaws (most definitely a liability at SS for a while, doesn’t walk enough), but he’ll be remembered as a great and he should be.

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite Jeter card.  All of his rookie cards are solid choices (the Bowman is my favorite, but I’m a Bowman apologist), though the Topps card has always seemed a bit ugly to me (the background is plain stupid).  But if pressed I would have to pick the only Jeter autograph I own.  Let it be known that my Jeter autograph is the only card I’ve spent more than $100 on.  It is the only one I can imagine dropping that much coin on.  Also, let it be known that there is a Jeter autograph that I covet more than the one I own.  My most wanted card (in the world) is this:

1997 Bowman Autograph Derek Jeter. It’s so clean, the photo is perfect and the signature is immaculate. I will possess it someday.

This is the one that I own:

Forgive the dimness of the photo.

A 1997 Bowman’s Best Derek Jeter autograph.  Graded a 9 by BGS.  While I don’t love shiny cards, I love this one.  The autograph is perfect.  The photo is classic Jeter. And it is my most valuable card.  This will be my favorite card until I get the card mentioned above.

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