Posted in Baseball, New York Mets

Get out those brooms (and umbrellas)

The New York Mets swept an abbreviated two-game series from the Philadelphia Phillies this week, but I think the bigger news is that the teams were able to play two out of three after Monday’s snow out.

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My view of Citi Field from the exit of the Mets-Willets Point subway station

My friend Vinny invited me to join him for Tuesday’s game, but I have to admit I had my doubts that it would be played. It rained most of the afternoon, and a light mist continued to fall through the night.

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Rusty Staub may be gone, but not forgotten. This banner outside the right field gate is one of a few places you’ll find Rusty Staub’s picture at Citi Field.

Continue reading “Get out those brooms (and umbrellas)”

Posted in Baseball, Baseball Cards, New York Mets

Easter baseball cards

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I hope everyone had a good Easter (or Passover… or just a nice weekend.) It sure feels like yesterday’s 60 degree spring-like weather was the April Fool’s Day joke, because we woke up to snow (again) this morning.

The Yankees’ home opener has already been postponed, and who knows if the Mets can clear the snow from Citi Field’s seats in time to play tonight’s game.

So today’s a good day to look at the Topps Opening Day baseball cards I got for Easter. While Opening Day is overlooked by most collectors, I enjoy it because it’s about the closest I can get to reliving the experience of opening baseball cards when I was a kid.

Opening Day packs are cheap, usually a dollar. They have a decent number of cards in them (by 21st Century standards, anyway.) And given the unlikelihood of pulling any autographs or memorabilia cards, if you’re opening Opening Day, you’ve got to actually want the base cards or the fun “regular” insert sets.

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There are two reasons that Opening Day isn’t perfect. Number one: except for a few Series 2 previews and PhotoShop uniform swaps, Opening Day cards are rehash of the Topps Series 1 cards that came out in February.

Number two: Opening Day has a limited checklist – just 200 cards. The positive to that point is that you’re much more likely to have at least one star player in every pack.

Shohei-Otani Opening Day’s March release spot does give Topps a little more time to do things like add our first rookie card for Angels’ pitcher and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (who impressed in his Major League pitching debut on Sunday.)

I’m kinda happy Topps used a press conference photo for this card – I love getting to see them on cardboard because they represent that time of optimism where your team’s new star player can do no wrong. There will be plenty of time for game action photos later. (I can’t wait to see what the card designers at Topps and Panini decide to do about including hitting and pitching stats on Ohtani’s cards next year.)

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While Ohtani’s rookie card is the draw for Opening Day this year, usually the inserts are the big thing. Card collectors who like mascots have to go for Opening Day. This year’s set also includes Team Traditions & Celebrations inserts, as well as an Opening Day subset and a Before Opening Day insert set.

I love the mascots and I think the Team Traditions & Celebrations set is a fun new idea. The other two leave me a bit flat.

The Opening Day cards have cool photos, but the backs are focused on how the teams did on Opening Day 2017…and that leaves them feeling a bit dated. If I were writing the copy for the card backs, I’d go with a more general focus. Maybe a particular team is unusually successful on Opening Day, or they have an active Opening Day winning streak. Maybe there’s a star player who does particularly well on Opening Day. Something…

The Before Opening Day insert set is worse, because the photos aren’t even that interesting. I’m pretty sure I don’t care which players had good springs in 2018. I know I don’t care about 2017 spring training performances. Hopefully this insert theme gets retired.

 Other odds & ends:

Posted in Baseball

Ruben Amaro Jr. is getting ready for his new role

On Monday, the Boston Globe published a story about ex-Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.‘s decision to take a job with the Boston Red Sox as their new first base coach and how he’s preparing for spring training.

“When I was let go, it was like one door closed and another one opened up,” Amaro said. “I’m still in decent health; I’m fairly young. I wanted to scratch that itch to get back on the dirt. I wanted to understand the player a little better.

“It’s a significantly different world from when I was playing and what motivates a player and what is going on off the field. I want a better understanding of that. Hopefully this is something I like.”

It will be interesting to see how Amaro’s return to the field goes.

Posted in Autographs, Baseball

Featured autograph: Antonio Bastardo

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Signed Antonio Bastardo 2009 Upper Deck Update baseball card from my collection

Reliever Antonio Bastardo has reportedly agreed to a two-year, $12 million contract with the New York Mets.

I’ve been waiting to see what Yoenis Cespedes will do for the past few days even though I don’t really expect him to stay with the Mets, but strengthening the bullpen is important too.

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Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Phillies fans might not want to read this one

Cole Hamels (2010 file photo - credit: Paul Hadsall)
Cole Hamels (2010 file photo – credit: Paul Hadsall)

Philadelphia Phillies spring training camp is probably going to be pretty awkward this year.

Consider Cole Hamels‘ statements in an interview with USA Today’s Bob Nightengale:

“I just want to win. That’s all. That’s all any competitor wants. And I know it’s not going to happen here. This isn’t what I expected. It’s not what the Phillies expected, either. But it’s reality.”

While we’d all be inclined to agree with Hamels’ assessment of the Phillies’ chances, it’s still pretty shocking to see a baseball player speak that openly about his team being a bad one. But then again, Hamels doesn’t really see the Phillies as his team anymore – he wants out.

“I want to go to a place where I can win again,” Hamels told USA Today Sports. “It’s not like I’m a hired gun. I’ve got four or five years left on my contract. I want to help that team win just like I did here.”

So, that’s going to be an interesting storyline to watch until Ruben Amaro Jr. does finally trade away his ace for whatever return he can get.

Ryan Howard (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Ryan Howard (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

The Phillies’ first base situation is another potential source of fun.

Amaro made no secret of wanting Ryan Howard off of his team. In a December radio interview with 97.5 The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli, the Phillies GM said, “We’ve talked to Ryan. And I told him that in our situation it would probably bode better for the organization not with him but without him. With that said if he’s with us, then we’ll work around him.”

Howard is still a Phillie, and it looks like he’s still the starting first baseman… for now.

Manager Ryne Sandberg offered this ambivalent endorsement to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki:

“Right now, unless he gets unseated, he’s the first baseman. He needs to prepare himself to be the best first baseman he can be.”

The implosion of the Phillies “dynasty” continues like a slow-motion train wreck.