Friday, November 30, 2012

Putting Out The Fire- Todd Worrell

Todd Worrell was a closer with so much promise that personally I believe if not for injuries that hampered most of his career. Worrell would go down as one of the great to ever play the position. A reliever with an overpowering look on the mound and even more overpowering fastball.

Entering the league late in 1985 and closing five games before the Cardinals entered the playoffs. Worrell pitched a great playoff and even making it to the World Series against the Royals that season. Once in the series Worrell pitched 3 games and made one save. The losing pitcher in game 6 of the series he was the pitcher for what many refer to as 'The Call'.

                                       AP Photo/The Kansas City Star/Patrick Sullivan

 While covering first base Royals player Jorge Orta was called safe instead of what was an apparent out. Being young and upset Worrell and his Cardinal teammates totally lost composure and the game allowing the final two runs to score. Unable to recover from the umpiring mistake, the Royals won game 7 as well 11-0
                Despite the World Series setback Todd Worrell's career was looking up. In 1986 what was his official rookie season. Worrell saved 36 games and won both the 'Rolaids Relief Man' and 'National League Rookie Of The Year'. Still a strong presence while on the mound Worrell accumulated 33 saves in 1987 and 32 in 1988. With already 106 saves in his short career Todd was looking in my opinion to be the future of closing.
        Then came 1989.. Injured in September with 20 saves and going for his career 125th. One of his first injuries, which resulted in elbow surgery ended his season early. The surgery forced Worrell to miss the entire 1990 season. When trying to make a return in 1991 he suffered another set back with a rotator cuff tear. The new injury forced the lost of the 1991 season as well and started the decline of Todd's career.
      Upon his return in 1992 the Cardinals had a new closer in Lee Smith and changed Worrell's role to set-up. After the end of the season Todd signed with the Dodgers in hopes or becoming the great he was early in his career.  Two more season passed with him struggling before Todd regained his old form and saved 111 games in his final three seasons.
            Take his yearly averages and replace the lost seasons along with the time spent regaining form. You have a pitcher that would have easily saved over 400 games in his career. Stats that would have easily made him an elite closer.
SAVES- 256
1986 NL Rookie Of The Year
1986 NL Rolaids Relief Man Of The Year
3x all-star  (1988 - 1995 - 1996)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Putting Out The Fire- The sidearmers

This series has been great for me and so I didn't want it to end just yet. There were a few closers that I just had to give them their due before ending this series. It must have to do with the fact that when I was growing up I always wanted to be a closer myself. Something about these intimidating men out there blowing pitches by helpless hitters. One of the first I ever saw was Kent Tekulve.

Dating myself here a bit, but I first saw Kent when he was at the top of his game. 1978 through 1980, the three years he was able to save 83 games. Seeing that submarine motion and guys helpless against it had me hooked. From that point on I was a submarine pitcher. While it never got me anywhere in baseball. I grew up teaching myself the motion and whenever playing baseball around the small town I grew up in striking out many a kid with that wild motion. How he got so many out with that style I will never know. It did make him my first ever hero in baseball though.
For his career Kent played 16 seasons as a reliever and set-up man. A true closer who never made one start his entire career. Kent own many record for games pitched and innings pitched, including the record of pitching in 9 consecutive games. While his career saves isn't in line with the 'Hall Of Fame' closers he was known as a workhorse with tons of value.
SAVES- 184
GAMES- 1,050

Starting his career at the same time Tekulve was at his hottest, another submariner by the name of Dan Quisenberry was coming on to the scene.

Persuaded by Royals manager Jim Frey to adopt the submarine style as a way to confuse hitters Quisenberry took on the challenge. Learning the pitching style made Quisenberry the American League's most dominate closer. While not getting many strikeouts Dan got ground-ball after ground-ball. With an ERA similar to the pitcher who's style he adopted Quisenberry was able to close more games for his career.
SAVES- 244
GAMES- 674

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Now This Is More Like It.. Card Shop- part 2

With the bust of card shop number one and my desire to add cards still strong. I was off to the second and far as I know only other card shop in town. Now this guy knew how to treat perspective customers. As I opened the door I was met with a hello and how may I help you? The answer came quick with a "Mark Teixeira cards?" Without wasting any time he pointed me to a series of boxes directly behind me and said "Yankees right?" As I started going through cards he even came over and started to look through the box with me. Pulling a few I was happier but still not fully content with the results.
          With the box gone through I started to wander a bit hoping for something to hit me upside the head. There has to be more I thought to myself as I noticed box after box of football, and basketball. Looking in the corner buried behind a bunch of football was 5 for a dollar baseball cards. The cards all sorted by teams like the slightly more expensive boxes I had just gone through. Knowing Mark started as a Ranger I started there. Pulling a few more I was getting a little happier with all I'd been through.
As I finished with the Rangers, a voice to my left from the Rockies section of cards called. Thinking if they are calling me there must be something I need from that row of cards. The search started when I came across a new set that I never knew existed.
From what I have read this set is a sort of misfit in the hobby world. Something about Upper Deck not spending the time to do the cards right. Pictures not from the game on the card and other things I haven't read about yet. Personally I like the idea, and will be adding these cards to my wantlist. Only the Rockies games though. If I ever do finish the Rockies I might move on to the Mariners. Besides the Upper Deck 2008 Documentary, I found two other basic Rockies cards that will find their way into what will be a Rockies binder starting after Christmas. Have to wait until then as binders and pages for the business cards collection are on the Christmas list.

                  As I made my direction towards the counter proud of my card haul. In my heart there was still something missing. The chance to think about what it was given as the owner had another customer walk in with four autographed baseball player photos.  His claim was he was wanting to know if he got a good deal as they were purchased at an auction. I think he was just looking to unload these things. Listening a little, they weren't authenticated as PSA wouldn't because some guy had already did it.  PSA I guess refused to authenticate anything he had already authenticated. Their claim according to the customer is anything he authenticates is automatically considered a forgery. As he kept talking he said something about the fact PSA had authenticated it at one time but took it back.The whole thing seemed weird to me, and odds are too the card shop owner as well. Finally the guy went through each picture saying how much he bought them for before picking them up and moving on. Looking back on it, felt like I was watching storage hunters or something at a card shop wanting a price for their goods. Hoping to get an offer after the value was discovered.  Only problem is the camera was missing, and the owner wasn't impressed.

        By the time he finally left I had figured what was missing. Looking at the rows of packs for sale I saw NASCAR cards. As the owner started adding up the damages I thought it wouldn't hurt to ask if he had any commons of NASCAR hiding someplace. As luck would have it he had opened a few packs. Going behind a half wall he came back with a small box of cards. While there weren't many of the NASCAR variety. He did have great selection from mine, and the wife's favorite driver Kyle Busch.

As I finally arrived to the end pulling all cards with Kyle on them I finally got a feeling of accomplishment from this trip. Paying for the cards it was off to Goodwill which ended up being a huge waste of time. Still how could I complain as this was a great trip.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I Did It!! Trip To The Card Shop- part 1

If you have read all my posts the few weeks I've been at this. You know by now that I have Monday's off. What that usually means is I have some goodies from the Goodwill in wherever it was I went to run errands. As luck would have it this weeks errands were a simple get a couple stocking stuffers for the daughter.
                  Once that was done I thought it'd be fun to do something I haven't done in awhile. Go into a card shop and buy some baseball cards. Around a year ago I went into a shop to buy pages for the pocket schedule collection but not for cards. With some money to spend and the idea that getting some Mark Teixeira cards for the collection. I was on my way to the card shop and to get those cards.
                     Upon entering the shop it was a disaster. Clue number one that this was going to be a wasted run. A small trail running through with a box and a few cards on the floor blocking the path. A step over the box and the trail's end was within sight. Steps from the end a box caught my eye that looked to have some newer cards in it. Let the sorting begin I thought as I started looking through one row with little promise of reward. Most the row appeared to be sub-set cards and my mind was on regular sets cards. Looking deeper at the box two rows over were some Topps edition cards.
                     Halfway through the row clue number two came into my head that this was going to be a waste. The owner final talked to me. Here I was in the shop for over five minutes and he finally acknowledges I'm in his shop. The question comes as he asks, "Are you looking for a certain player or set?" My answer comes back with a, "Mark Teixeira cards. I haven't gotten any for a few years and thought I'd try to update the collection some." Back to his business he goes as I reach the land of forgotten customers once again. Pulling two Teixeira cards it's time to move I think to myself.

                  Acknowledging my existence once more he points me to a box of 2012 Topps Update. Not knowing what the cards where until arriving at the box I make my way once more through the trail with a glimmer of hope. Not wanting to get lost as I make my way around to a new trail. I see the front door and tie a rope around my waist and one end around the doorknob. Once to the box disappointment sets in again. Now wanting to feel the journey was wasted I glance through a few cards in the box. Coming up empty, it was time to wander out and hope nobody had cut my rope. Despite the disaster I was able to add two new cards to the collection.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What Do I Do Now?

While most of America sits back this Sunday watching their NFL games all excited. I fall under the small community that isn't part of the NFL empire.While I will sometimes watch part of the playoffs and the entire Super Bowl. The other part of the season is of no interest to me. On a regular Sunday there would be NASCAR and joy in the house. With Brad Keselowski winning the Championship last weekend, ending the season until February.
While I am excited that someone other than Jimmie Johnson won. I am disappointed that the season has ended. My real driver Kyle Busch was on a roll. A roll so strong that he would have been a serious contender for the title had he been one of NASCAR's 12 in the chase. Despite not being one of the 12 he was close to winning some races. To see that momentum end was a huge let down. Now instead of getting that much needed victory. He like everyone else in the sport gets to go home and try to figure out how to start the new year with some momentum. The fans all get to sit at home waiting for the next race talking about the hope our drivers showed at the end of the season.

The good news is no more ESPN coverage until the chase starts again. Who knows maybe by some miracle that can change. I enjoy watching the races. What I don't enjoy is a small picture of the race going on with a huge commercial marathon on the other 2/3rds.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Artelopes- The First Returns

I've been collecting business cards for years. Then ten years ago I started collecting pocket schedules, and decided it would be cool to get a business card from that same team. That one card started an obsession for me and a huge collection of binders.  At first it started out with all the sports, that changed into trying to get a business card from MLB team and their affiliates. With the baseball part close to finished except for a few very tough cards. A couple months ago I noticed that the rest of the collection had been neglected for a few years. The thought came it was time to try and get back to finishing off the other sports. The wantlists were created for the remaining sports, except hockey. Hockey teams seem to come and go all the time so trades are the only way new cards are added currently. It was amazing how close I am to a couple sports different levels. Makes me wonder why I never attempted to finish those off on the first go around. Besides all those for some strange reason I thought trying to get all the college bowl games and NASCAR racetracks would be a fun project as well.

     While thinking about expanding the collection and playing around. This article from Tom over at Baseball By The Letters caught my eye. Publishers Clearing House Helps Hobbyists? Welcome to Creative Envelopes 101 . The basis of the article is that by drawing on your envelopes you will get better autograph results. After reading this great post the idea was formed. The idea was I'd draw the teams logo or something related on each envelope. Thus the name artelopes was born. Not all that catchy I know, but who knows. Maybe it will catch on or someone will come up with something better. Preparing for the first artelope along came a bored daughter. Looking for something to do and wanting to get better at her artwork. She asked what I was doing and offered her services. Not being the greatest artist myself I thought why not let her do the ones she wants. I'm always thinking she needs to work a little on her creativity skills so maybe these will help with that.
       While the current returns are no indication on whether it works. That will happen come baseball season when I attempt to get my remaining needs. Five of the artelopes were sent out, and this week two were returned. There is no telling if it was the artelopes working or just dumb luck but these would have to rank in my top 5 fastest returns ever..

                                                                Bakersfield Jam

The Jam are a team in the NBA Developmental League. This wasn't our first artelope, but is the first return. So it get the honor of being the first shown. My daughter wasn't too proud of the look and to be honest. The thought of not sending it out had crossed the mind as I had some doubts. With their logo using the team name I was a little worried that incorporating it as the receiver might cause problems. The envelope sat around for a week before I thought, oh what the heck send it out. As you are reading now it worked just fine so odds are the idea will be used once again at a later date.

I got four business cards in the return. While the request was for business cards and pocket schedules, I only really wanted the business cards.So the results from this was.
                                                          4 business cards
                                                               7 days
                                                       SUCCESSFUL RETURN

The second return is the artelope I think my daughter is most proud of so far.
                                                       The Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
When I told her about writing to the Hawaii Bowl she was told only one thing had to be included. The logo for the game is a pineapple with the actual pineapple being a football. Add that in someplace, and go wild I told her. This is what she came up with minus the water at first. Just before it was sent off I noticed there was no water yet the palm tree was on an island. So water was added right before it was on the way to Hawaii. The business cards looked cool, and made me glad to get this return
                                                    front                                  back

                                    4 business cards from two different people
                                                             10 days
                                                 SUCCESSFUL RETURN

Friday, November 23, 2012


As most anyone can tell you it's the day after Thanksgiving. What does that mean you ask? It means that crazy day Black Friday is here. I for one am part of the millions, billions or whatever the amount is, of shoppers. The people who are looking to stretch their Christmas money a little further. Personally I just like getting out there with the insanity that goes on this day. Saving a little money is just icing on that cake.While it seems most the shopping is done on Thanksgiving or after today. I am still honoring this day.

So with all that out of the way. How about we see some of the reason I named this post the way I did. For your viewing pleasure a couple 1992 Pinnacle Black Gold.

 While they weren't to exciting of players. You have to admit this. A baserunner and a double play being turned. Nice combo there.

 I really need to work on my scanning. Hopefully it gets better as we go. Right now it's so hit or miss.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Challenge Accepted!!

A blog known as ARPSmith's Sportscard Obsession does a contest once a week I hear. Kind of bummed about coming across the site now I have to admit. Last weeks was talking about your sports teams. I missed it though so time to move on. This weeks challenge is to post about something sports or card related you are thankful for. While I don't think it's any form of requirement I thought it'd be cool to post here.
          My most thankful thing would be for my wife. While most would be sitting there thinking well DUH! I'm thankful for my wife to but why post about it. Much like myself and all of you out there reading this. She is a huge sports fan. While not doing the collecting cards or anything. She loves her college football, baseball, and NASCAR. She even refers to college football as the happiest time of the year. You have got to love that! Sometimes she will even come home from work with stories of scaring off a guy who tried to impress her with a story of something sports related. Laughing a little about how they had no clue about the full story or that the bit of news they shared was three weeks old. Then she ends up correcting them as the exit stage left in a rush.
      NASCAR is coming close to college football though. A big Kyle Busch fan. We now spend Sunday's and sometimes even Saturday's keeping up with how Kyle is running. If not at home she has the page saved on the cell phone and is constantly giving updates.
      How can't I be thankful for that? How many guys get to marry a woman who shares our passion for sports instead of the usual. Baseball again? How many more days until this seasons over?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Another Trip of Goodwill That Ends Up Being On Target

So Monday's are my days off and the day I try to get some errands the wife wants me to do. Other weeks it's just a day to sit around and hang out with the dog being lazy. This week was of the errands variety. On Sunday the wife dropped a big hint in the name of circled items in the newspaper ads. Then brings the paper over with an I need these for Christmas. How can any guy turn down and easy Christmas present idea? I'll still have to get more stuff but atleast that was easy.
    Getting a cleaning at the dentist out of the way. It was time to start the Errands part of the adventure. Things didn't go perfect as the store was out of one of the two items on the list so it'll mean another trip over in a few weeks. Thinking about it that might not be such a bad thing though.   

          Next was my first of two Goodwill store stops. The first store has boxes of baseball cards at times and this time was no different. I have to admit a little something though. Until yesterday I never look at those boxes but for some reason I just wanted to buy some baseball cards. Going through the first box there was a bunch of 1992 or so Stadium Club stuff. The second was and third were mostly football and basketball. Nothing exciting there as the basketball was 1990 Skybox. The fourth box was dead as well with 1992 baseball junk. The fifth and last I came across showed tons of promise. Loaded up with what looked to be 1994 Collectors Choice and Collectors Choice silver signatures. With the way the other boxes were prices for that size I though five bucks and she's mine. Might be fun to try and finish the silver signatures. Then came the surprise as I flipped the box to reveal an 8 dollar price tag. No sale I thought to myself and moved on with empty hands as I left the store.
           Second Goodwill was just a waste of time. As the closest prospect for a purchase was a football helmet that was for San Jose. While in great shape I just couldn't pull the trigger on that one either. I'm starting to feel a trend going on here. So it was off to the mall as I needed to hit Bath and Bodyworks for some stocking stuffers for the daughter. While there I thought to myself I was going to get me some cards today. After the stuffers were bought it was off to Target. It's been I believe 2009 since the last time I bought any cards. So there I was like a lost puppy wondering what to do. NASCAR was the desired selection but all that was available was a very light box with a guaranteed hit but at 19.99 it was a no go. So more thought was needed before I picked out two packs of 2012 Topps series one. Then two steps later those were back in the box and two packs of update were in their place. Another step later two packs of Triple Play were sitting inside that same hand with the two other packs. With it pouring rain outside it'd be at home before they could be opened. Once home though it was time for the pack fun.
#7 Ian Kennedy
#66 Pedro Alvarez
#207 Matt Holliday
#136 A-Rod
#2 of 6 Eye Black
#235 Ian Kennedy

#74 Felix Hernandez **
#9 Matt Wieters
#53 Ike Davis
#212 Evan Longoria
#178 Orlando Hudson
#11 slugger
#268 baseball 101- home run

215 Brian Bogusevic
324 Jamey Wright
253 Ryan Webb
165 Jacob Turner
254 Jason Marquis
315 Ross Detwiler
112 Eduardo Escobar
187 (red) John Jaso
501 (gold) Matt Capps (1287/2012)
Golden Moments- Ian Kennedy
184 Stephen Strasburg
6 Carlos Gonzalez **
258 Josh Vitters
270 Luis Ayala
35 Craig Breslow
97 Shelley Duncan
190 Francisco Cordero
38 Elian Herrera
179 Matt Adams
246 Miguel Cabrera AS
76 Adam Dunn AS
GG-83 Harmon Killebrew
299 Bryce Harper AS
BB-19 Ryne Sandberg **

Not a bad haul if I say so myself. Everything except for the cards with ** behind them are up for trade offers..

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Putting Out The Fire- version 3.0

After doing the 1994 sub-set and then doing what would be The Prowling Cat 2012 Firemen sub-set. I'm just not yet willing to let this series die off yet. So what is the next progression of this series you ask? Odds are you already knew when you saw this was version 3.0 that this was going to be the all-time group. As was with the 2012 set I'm not going to put these in my top ten order. Personally I feel that on a few of these guy's I'm putting myself out there just by doing the ten guys. Unlike the 2012 set, no cards were harmed in the making of this set. It's a shame I know but one card going down was enough.
1. Mariana Rivera- What can you say about the man who has now been in two of the three sets? Looking back, the only reason he didn't pull the trifecta is he wasn't even in the league for the original set. I'm willing to bet that right now the guy who dreamed up the original set is kicking himself for not including Rivera in that set.

2. Tug McGraw- Considered by some as one of the pioneers of the reliever position. In 1972 Tug set the Mets save record at 27. The record was his until 1984 when Jesse Orosco took over with 31 saves.

3. Lee Smith- Playing 18 seasons as mostly a reliever. Lee was the saves record holder until 2006 when a San Diego Padres reliever named Trevor Hoffman finally replaced Smith at the top spot. Due to his playing in what is referred to as a transitional period in the closer position. Lee hasn't gotten near enough votes for the Hall as voters are undecided on how to rate his career.

4. Billy Wagner- The one player in this set that doesn't stick out and make you stand up saying he needs to be in this group. Wagner is just one of those players that stepped in and got the job done without all the flash of most the greats. During his career Wagner was a 7 time all-star, recorded 422 saves and 1,196 strikeouts

5. Trevor Hoffman- Replacing Lee Smith as the all-time saves leader in 2006. The record was his until Mariano Rivera took over in 2011. Trevor was the first pitcher to reach both the 500 and 600 saves plateau. When finally retiring in 2010 Trevor had the highest career strikeout rate of all closers.

6. Hoyt Wilhelm- A knuckleballer who played for 10 teams throughout his career.  Hoyt is credited as being one of the pioneers of relief pitching. The use of Wilhelm as a reliever started teams towards finding pitchers of their own to come in and secure the lead. The first reliever elected to the Baseball Hall Of Fame.

7. Bruce Sutter- Retiring with exactly 300 saves for his career. A six time all-star and the 1979 National League CY Young winner. Bruce is the only pitcher to lead the National League in saves five times during his career. Another of only five closers inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame.

8. Rollie Fingers- Regarded as another of the pioneers instrumental in modern day relieving. Rollie became only the second closer inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame. Remembered by everyone for the handlebar mustache, he was an intimidator. Accomplishing many feats never imagined for the reliever position. Rollie was a 7 time all-star, 1981 American League Cy Young winner, the 1974 World Series MVP. Last but not least he was the second of only four relievers to ever win Baseball biggest award the MVP for the American League.

9. Goose Gossage- Some argue that Gossage is one of the founding members of the way most closing has been done since. Gossage became the first reliever to have a set-up man who entered an inning or two early before the closer came in to finish the game. A 9 time all-star and a very intimidating presence on the mound. I'd be willing to bet that many a player who stepped up in one of Gossage's 310 career saves still have nightmares about those at bats. Another of the five Baseball Hall Of Famers and deservedly so.

10. Dennis Eckersley- A closer I remember for his days with the Cubs and then Athletics. Eckersley wasn't a great starter for the Cubs, it wasn't until being traded to the Athletics that Eckersley became a closer. In 1988 his first full season in the role. Eckersley immediately established himself as one of the top all time closers with 45 saves. The fourth and to date last closer to win the MVP award in 1992 when he saved 51 games. Along with the MVP he was a 6 time all-star, and another of the five Baseball Hall Of Fame closers.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Putting Out The Fire- version 2.0

While writing about the Ultra Firemen set in my last posting. I got to thinking about two questions. So if this set was to be made for the upcoming season who would be in this set? The original set was based more on who got the most saves during the last season than who the top guys were. Keeping this in mind this would have been the ten men put in the set.
1. Jim Johnson             Baltimore                    51 saves
2. Fernando Rodney    Tampa Bay                  48 saves
3. Craig Kimbrel          Atlanta                        42 saves
4. Rafael Soriano         N.Y. Yankees              42 saves
5. Jason Motte              St. Louis                     42 saves
6. Chris Perez               Cleveland                   39 saves
7. Jonathan Papelbon    Philadelphia               38 saves
8. Aroldis Chapman      Cincinnati                 38 saves
9. Joe Nathan                Texas                         37 saves
10. Joel Hanrahan         Pittsburgh                  36 saves

Not wanting to accept this as the list of the current games best due to injuries and other factors. It kept begging me to make what would be the set as I'd put it together. This leads me to question number two. What would this set look like in design? While it's not quite a finished product I came up with this card. Keep in mind we don't have any sort of photo program other than paint which came with the computer. Also I'd like to thank a 2003 MVP card for Fransisco Rodriguez  who despite not being in this set gave up himself for the card design.

Now that we have that out of the way lets see the set and why they are there. These are in my sort of order with only two players having a reason for their positions but you'll see why as the list goes along.

1. Jose Valverde- Since his debut in 2003, Valverde has saved a total or 277 games along with 650 strikeouts. Jose has shown some serious power pitching and control problems at times but is always dangerous.

2. Mariano Rivera- Since arriving into the MLB in 1995 everyone has to admit the Rivera is the standard. Even missing 2012 I'm willing to bet that the set of closers would drop someone and include this man. How could anyone even imagine leaving out a man who has 608 career saves and has become the standard all closers are compared to. While I might be crazy I'm not stupid enough to do a set without Rivera.

3. Chris Perez- I must admit that I was thinking about doing J.J. Putz instead of Chris but after a ton of thought Chris got this spot instead. Being in the league since 2008 and having close to the same amount of successful seasons as Putz. Chris got the nod despite having 107 saves compared to 183 for Putz. Give him the 5 extra years Putz has over him and it's my belief Perez will have better stats by a hair.

4. Joe Nathan- Being in the league for 12 season but a closer for only 8 of those Nathan has gotten 298 saves in that time frame. His worst season came in 2011 with the Twins before trading him to his new home the Rangers. Other than the one bad year Nathan has consistently been one of MLB's top closers.

5. John Axford- Only being in the MLB for four seasons and the first only seven games. You have to see this man and know he is a future great. With 106 saves in that short amount of time he will be a force for years to come barring an injury or meltdown. John Axford is a name you will be seeing for years at the top 10 closers each season.

6. Fernando Rodney- Another of the close battles for entry into this set of players. Rodney barely beat out Joel Hanrahan only due to the blown saves. With just a few more saves than Hanrahan, Rodney barely made this list and almost because we needed a tenth closer.

7. Brian Wilson- As with Mariano Rivera, Brian Wilson missed almost the entire 2012 season. This would have been another closer that might have thrown off the list for this set.  Wilson much like Rivera is one of the closers you think of every time anyone around mentions the best closers in the MLB. A reliever I consider a throwback to the old days with the look meant to intimidate the opposing player. Look for some great years in the future from Wilson as he return to the role in 2013

8. Craig Kimbrel- With closers having just a few years to 10 or more years. Craig Kimbrel is the young pup in this set. Only in the league for three years Kimbrel has already accumulated 89 saves for the Braves. Even though it's a small sampling of time. Kimbrel looks to be on track to possibly be one of if not the top closer for future seasons.

9. Jonathan Papelbon- Since arriving in 2005 Papelbon has been possibly the games second best closer to Rivera. With 257 saves Jonathan rates fourth in the group in less years than the top three. Given two more season he should become second in this group for all-time saves.

10 Rafael Soriano- This is one choice that was going through my mind more than any other. How do you put two closers from the same team on this list? With Rivera going down in 2012 and the Yankees in panic mode Soriano got the chance to step up and took it. While he can be erratic when called upon in limited chances. For three seasons he has been dominating racking up save after save.

So there it is. The Prowling Cat's Firemen. I'd love to hear who you think should have been put in the set, but keep in mind. You have to dump a guy to make it happen so who gets dumped?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Blog For This Huge Message

I'm a couple days late with this as it was announced on Thursday from what I can tell. Maybe it was that the 2012 season was kind of a blur for me in MLB baseball. With starting this blog and if I can convince the wife a trip to Seattle for Mariner Fest in the new year. I'm starting to get a little more into the MLB scene. Don't take that though as I'm lacking in my desire to watch baseball. That couldn't be farther from the truth. In 2012 I went to probably ten or so games for the local collegiate league team and one Northwest League game. So what was the big news? Seattle announced that this bad boy would be sitting in Safeco Field starting in the 2013 season.
                                             (Thanks to the Mariners website for the photo)

This screen is supposed to be the second biggest in all of sports and the biggest in baseball. I know speaking for myself I can't wait to just see the awesome size of this screen in person. According to what I could come up with it is within 100 feet in pure size of the Cowboys Stadium screen. This has got me thinking about one thing though. From reading about high definition screens for the home. They claim is you need to be a the size of the screen X 2.5 from your flat screen to maximize viewing. So for a screen that is over 1000 feet. I'd what, need to be a mile or so away? Seems like kind of a waste to me, but hey it's big! Not only do they recommend the distance for maximum viewing. You need to be dead center to enjoy that view. So while I bet this thing looks awesome from your seats behind home plate. What about those of us who won't be behind home plate? I do know one thing. They had better not raise ticket prices more to pay for that screen. The price increase along with gas prices from 2012 put me in the minors and would do the same this year.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Putting Out The Fire

I have always been a fan of fire engines. So imagine the excitement when I came across the Fleer Ultra sub-set Ultra Firemen. What isn't there to love about a set that honors the men who come in and preserve the lead in the close game and a fire engine background. Add in that the fronts of these cards are the men in action instead of just standing there and you have a great set.

                                                    1.  Jeff Montgomery
Jeff saved 304 games and had a 3.27 ERA and struck out 733 hitters while doing it. The worst part of the ERA came in his final season. A season that he only saved 12 games in.

                                                     2. Duane Ward
Duane saved a measly 121 games with a 3.28 ERA and 679 strikeouts. Unfortunately when this set was made his career was over. 1995 he played in four games getting no saves.

                                                    3. Tom Henke
Tom saved 311 games had a 2.67 ERA and 861 strikeouts  The 1993 season was his best with 40 saves and solidified his name in this set. He finished his career in 1995 but not before getting 51 more saves in 1994 and 1995.

                                                     4. Roberto Hernandez
Roberto saved 326 games had a 3.25 ERA and 945 strikeouts in a 17 year career. When this set was made Roberto was more of a prospective closer as he had 50 saves in three season with 38 coming in 1993. While he had some great seasons from the pen he had his fair share of forgettable ones as well.

                                                     5. Dennis Eckersley
When people run through the list of greatest closers of all time Dennis Eckersley is always on people's list. Where on that list is up to whomever made the list but he's on there. Playing 24 seasons and not getting the closers role until 13 years into that career. Dennis accumulated 390 saves with a 3.50 ERA and an amazing 2401 strikeouts. When you figure that all but three of those saves were in his last 11 seasons. It's no wonder he's considered one of the all-time greats.

                                                             6. Randy Myers
Tossed around from team to team during his entire 14 year career. Playing for 7 teams during that span. When you put him with this group I always make the mistake of forgetting him. While not being as colorful of a character as the other closers on this list. Compared career wise to the other 9 he was quietly one of the top three if not top two. Acquiring 347 saves a 3.19 ERA and 884 strikeouts.

                                                               7. Rod Beck
With his intimidating look, I see Rod Beck as one of the old school closers. The type of guy who looked like if you saw him in a dark alley or on the mound pitching you knew it was over. Having 286 saves an ERA of 3.30 and 644 strikeouts in a 13 year career. Unfortunately his life was cut short when he was found dead in his home in 2007.

                                                              8. Bryan Harvey
Another member of this group who has you asking what is he doing in this set. Bryan saved on 177 games with a 2.49 ERA and 448 strikeouts in 9 seasons, With 45 saves in 1993 we'll have to go with that being the lone reason he made this list.

                                                             9.  John Wetteland
Another of the guys who came in and got things done without all the antics of other closers Wetteland amassed 330 saves an  2.93 ERA and 804 strikeouts in 12 seasons. Playing for 4 teams I remember him most for his time with the Rangers more than the other teams he played for.

                                                            10. Mitch Williams
 The 'Wild Thing' has to be the craziest guy in this set. With 1993 being his career best season of the 11 he played. Mitch had 192 saves an ERA of 3.65 which was made higher due to a 10.00 ERA in his final season of 1997. With 660 strikeouts and 544 base on balls it was easy to see where he got the nickname.

As you will also notice I only pictured 8 of the ten cards in this set. I'd love to add the last two cards and complete this set. So if you have a spare #2 Duane Ward and/or #6 Randy Myers lets get a trade done.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

When Your Guy Plays For The Enemy

This morning I was in the shower when the idea for a post about what happens when your favorite player plays for the enemy. I'm not talking just another team in the same league or division. We are talking the team that you despise beyond all other teams. For me the player is Mark Teixeira and the team is the Yankees.

See everything was fine when 'Tex' played for Atlanta. Going to Baltimore was fine. Then he signs the deal to become a member of the 'Evil Empire'. So what is a fan to do? Do you drop the guy and move on? In this day and age that's plain crazy talk. With guys trading teams like we trade their baseball cards you have to overlook this and move on like the player has. While I still despise the Yankees and always will. I find myself rooting for success whenever Mark steps to the plate. The hope is just that the Yankees will be down enough that even his great at bat will not be enough to help the Yankees win. The hardest part of rooting for him now is when I get a new card of 'Tex' sporting the Yankee stripes. At first it stings a little but the card or cards still find their way into the binder.

Now how would I handle this situation if my player was a pitcher? Flash over at Third Dropped Strike ponders this question with Phil Hughes. I recommend going over and reading the story. As I was dreaming about writing this at a later date. Upon reading his story I just had to answer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

When Baseball and Star Trek Mix

While spending my normal off day looking through baseball cards this card suddenly came to the front and said give me your time.

                                       The 2006 Upper Deck Star Attractions sub-set.
Looking at this card just screamed somehow my baseball card ended up in an episode of Star Trek. This entire set spared no expense in making sure that those of us who remembered Star Trek would know where this card was from. Lets start with the text that says "I am from the future". Making sure that you realized this fact they ended it with the star as an extra bit of goodiness. Then if all this didn't convince Trekkie's that this was their set. Upper Deck went with the final frontier background as a touch of classiness. If all this evidence I'm presenting doesn't convince you I know this will.

 I am left wondering just one thing with this set though. Why couldn't Upper Deck go with some sort of spaceship coming out of the card and put the team logo on that? Would it have made their intent too obvious on this set or was it just to costly getting the rights for the ship?
    Doing some further research the sub-set name came up two other times as well. So while this wasn't the first time or last time it was used by Upper Deck. Personally it was the most memorable. The original set being created in 1997 with it's gimmick being that the cards were die cut. Who knows why it took until 2006 to finally revive the sub-set. It didn't take quite the time frame for Upper Deck to give it a third run in 2008. Compared to the original and the latest version the 2006 was a bit overkill. While in 1997 the set contained 20 cards. The 2006 set boosted up to 100 cards with 50 in series one and another 50 in the update series. In 2008 the series dropped back to a decent size at 10 cards. While it wasn't the first or last time for the set it had to be the best.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Football and Goodwill

Saturday the wife wanted to go out and get some shopping done and some scouting for Christmas. Halfway to our first destination she looks over and says how about Buffalo Wild Wings and watching the Beavers play? That exact thought had crossed my mind when she first talked about where we were going as I've been craving some wings and fried pickles for around a month. Was going to mention it to her later while shopping and maybe hit her with seeing about going to Goodwill afterwards. The store there is one of my favorites as I barely ever leave without hitting some sort of jackpot of stuff for the hobby room. Skipping over the shopping as who really cares about that journey.
        We arrive at Buffalo wild Wings and get a seat just below the Alabama vs. Texas A&M game. All the other big screens were set to Oregon State vs. Stanford and so far it wasn't looking good. When we finally left the girl serving us kept claiming we couldn't leave until after the game was over. After walking out of Goodwill with the goods, I think it was best we missed the finish as the wife wasn't happy about the loss. Not being a huge fan of the home teams, more of a Cinn. Bearcats and Utah Utes fan. It did suck though as I do root for them on a certain level.
       So while in Goodwill the treasures were finding their place in my arms. One of the many things I collect has been logo baseballs. They have made a great form of art in the room as I have some sitting in a bowl and others in glass vases. One of the last rows I went through was sporting goods. On Monday I was just in this Goodwill so my hopes of finding a new ball was slim until I came across this beauty in quite a large pile of baseballs.
Some of my favorite baseballs have been the Disney ones which were picked up on trips to Disneyland. Even without Disneyland or Disney World being on the ball it was a must have for the collection and a nice possible finish to the Disney vase of balls.
      My luck wasn't over yet as in the rows of nic nacs were these three beauties looking for a home.
Mike Cameron, Victor E. Viking (Portland State Vikings mascot), and Edgar Martinez. The Mariners both say 2001 on them and look to be Mariners Store type bobbles. What Mariner fan doesn't love Edgar for everything he did for the Mariners during his career? The Cameron bobblehead is my second with Cameron as I have a dual bobbler that just so happens to commemorate the great 2001 season the Mariners had. Victor was a special basketball giveaway by the Vikings who won the Big Sky Championship and got their first ever invite to the NCAA Championship Tournament. While the Mike Cameron and Edgar Martinez bobbleheads have already found a home on the shelf. Victor E. Viking is a double and is up for other bobblehead trade offers.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thank You

So I had this plan to do a post on my trip from yesterday when it hit me that today was the official Veterans Day. With that in mind it was only natural that instead of writing that post it had to be about our veterans. So the trip from yesterday and all the goodies that came from it will be pushed back one day. These are the people that have made everything we are allowed to do in this country possible so they have to be #1. While I was never in the military myself I respect all that these people have given to us and the ones that still sacrifice, and the military people who will make those sacrifices in the future. As a collector of various sports items and business cards. This morning it came to me that I would show off some of the business cards I have related to the military and the four branches.

First isn't a card from a branch but from one of the college bowl games.
You have to love a bowl game that allows people to donate tickets to these great people who protect our nation. The game scheduled to be played on December 27th is still one of the many considering their team options.

Now onto the four branches and some recognition. You will notice that I have whited out the contact information. First reason is these cards have a few years on them and I couldn't tell you if the they are still valid. Second is while I'm giving them props by leaving their name so we can remember these great men for their service. They do deserve some privacy by me not giving out their contact information.

The first card for the army is a great one. I mean who doesn't love the modern day camouflage represented on this card? Next would have to be my favorite. I was born with a father in the Air Force and was in until I was 6 years old. I still remember going to a couple open houses back then and getting to see and sit in some of the jets they flew.

Gotta love a card that proudly presents an eagle. Have to say though that it is a bit of a disappointment there isn't a battle ship in the background. Last but not least by a long shot, the toughest men going. Great logo with the eagle and anchor.
Once again.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Cat Is On The Prowl

After spending lots of time reading the various baseball card collecting blogs. I thought to myself that why not join in and start sharing my collections with everyone. Do some trading with people and see where it goes. Hopefully as time goes on I get better and better at this thing and make some new online friends while doing it.