Saturday, March 30, 2019

Happy Birthday, Chris Sale!

2019 Topps - Stars Of The Game
#SSB-99 Chris Sale
Happy birthday to Red Sox ace Chris Sale! (Oh, and me too!)  Not only did Sale recently sign a nice 5 year, $145 million extension (I'm too afraid to look at my bank account), he'll be getting his World Series ring in a few weeks too (My wedding band is rather nice at least.).  Here's hoping for a season full of good health and Red Sox victories! (I can at least enjoy that too!)

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The 2003 Red Sox Team

First things first. With apologies to the Athletics and Mariners, the baseball season starts today! I'm excited, and with a free season of MLB.TV from T-Mobile, I'll be watching the Red Sox on my phone all season long! Play ball!


Collecting Cutch is having another one of his awesome contests! The challenge: write about your favorite team that didn't win the World Series. The prize: a Carl Yastrzemski/Green Monster relic card - how amazing is that?

2004 Topps #642 Boston Red Sox (TC)

We Red Sox fans have been very blessed for the past 15 years. That team has won four titles since 2004 after a drought of 86 years. Although 2004 is remembered as the year "The Curse" was broken, the seeds were actually planted the year before. Granted, Red Sox Nation doesn't like dwelling on how that year ended, but I truly believe that before the ultimate high, the team had to endure one last low.

Let's start with the preceding off-season. The new ownership group, led by John Henry,  made history by appointing 28-year old Theo Epstein as the youngest General Manager in MLB history. Theos's first off-season was filled with under-the-radar acquisitions: Todd Walker, Jeremy Giambi, Mike Timlin, Bill Mueller, Bronson Arroyo, Kevin Millar, and some Twins castoff named David Ortiz. The biggest story-line in Boston that winter was Millar's unusual saga. (He was initially sold to a Japanese ball club, but the Red Sox made a waiver claim instead, breaking one of the "unwritten rules" of baseball.)

2004 Topps #17 Kevin Millar

This team formed a new Red Sox culture, one that still resonates with the team today. For whatever reason, this team just clicked, and it resulted in one of the greatest offensive teams in MLB history.

From Wikipedia:
"The Red Sox led the major leagues in nearly all offensive categories, including runs scored (961), batting average (.289), on-base percentage (.360), and perhaps most impressively, a .491 team slugging percentage, which set a new record previously held by the 1927 Yankees.[1] They also had 649 extra-base hits, the most ever by one team in a single season.[2][3]"
The offense was unstoppable! 6 players hit 25 or more home runs. Mueller and Manny Ramirez finished first and second for the AL batting title. Manny also took the on-base percentage crown, while Ortiz, Ramirez and Trot Nixon finished among the top five in slugging percentage.

2004 Topps #337 AL Batting Average Leaders

On the pitching side, the rotation was led by the incredible Pedro Martinez. This was also the year of the infamous "closer-by-committee" experiment, which lasted 2 months and resulted in the trade for Byung-Hyun Kim from Arizona.

The team won 95 games that year, and secured the AL Wild Card. Although the ALCS with the hated New York Yankees is most remembered, the ALDS against the Oakland Athletics was also memorable, as the Red Sox became the latest of three teams that came back from an 0-2 deficit to win a best of 5 ALDS. Of course, the season would end with the Yankees and Aaron "F'ing" Boone. Still, this season set the bar for the following season, and the history of Red Sox baseball hasn't been the same since!

2004 Topps #405 Pedro Martinez

Hall of Famers: As of right now, just one - the great Pedro Martinez. He'll be joined eventually by David Ortiz and Theo Epstein. Also, I'm willing to bet that sometime in the distant future, a committee will elect the shamed Manny Ramirez someday.

2004 Topps #164 Bill Mueller

Unsung Hero: Bill Mueller, baby! This guy came out of nowhere and won the AL batting title while hitting primarily 8th in the lineup! He also a game for the ages on July 29th when he hit 3 home runs, which also included the first time anyone had hit two grand slams in the same game from opposite sides of the plate. This guy did nothing but come through for the team again and again.

2004 Topps #623 David Ortiz

Key Transaction: Rather than go through arbitration with their part-time first baseman/designated hitter, the Minnesota Twins unceremoniously cut David Ortiz from their team. He was signed to platoon with Jeremy Giambi, but eventually broke out and became "Big Papi"!

2004 Topps #359 Bill Mueller (AS)

All-Stars: Manny Ramirez (starting OF, but was "injured" and didn't play), Nomar Garciaparra (backup SS), and Jason Varitek (Fan Vote Winner).

Silver Sluggers: Manny Ramirez and Bill Mueller

Who's your favorite team?

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Repack Haiku #95 (Randy Bockus)

In fourth career game 
Pinch hit for Robby Thompson
Forced to play outfield

1987 Fleer Update #U-6 Randy Bockus

Monday, March 25, 2019

TCDB Trade Recap: Cards From Landenberg, Pennsylvania

With 34 Red Sox cards in this year's Heritage set, it's obvious I'm going to need some assistance if I want to complete a team set. Fellow TCDB member Pat ("Itsjustoldcardboard") got me halfway there with a recent trade. I sent over a stack of cards from last year's Heritage set, and in return I got hooked up with all this:

Player Cards

The hedges are officially what I think of when I think of Red Sox and Heritage.

League Leaders

Given how much time Sale missed last year, it's impressive he still made Top 3 in strikeouts!


Love the black and white playoff cards! The Benintendi gives me an excuse to relieve this incredible moment:

Thanks again for the trade, Pat!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Adventure At Spring Traing - Game #4: Red Sox at Orioles

Wednesday, March 20

For the last game of the trip, we went back to Sarasota to watch the Orioles take on the defending World Champions. The Red Sox kept the bigger names at home, but the starting lineup was packed with regular season starters.

Starting lineups

I obviously watched the pre game routine along the Red Sox side, and was surprised to see former Captain Jason Varitek in the field shagging balls.

That's Tek on the right

He didn't stop and sign unfortunately, and most of the team was focused on warm ups. I at least managed to get one autograph, from AAA outfielder depth Bryce Brentz.  I'll take it!

The game was a typical Red Sox game. They fell behind early, but came back to win in the late innings. Actually, this wasn't so much a Red Sox comeback as it was a complete and hilarious Orioles meltdown. The O's were up 4-2 in the 8th. After a quick groundout, the Red Sox loaded the bases on a double, a passed ball, and two walks. I'll let the MLB app show you the rest:

Yikes! 2 passed balls, a wild pitch, and a throwing error by the catcher! Not good! Still I'll take a Red Sox win any way I can!

Red Sox shagging flies

Rafael Devers takes BP

Eduardo Nunez
and Brock Holt

Bullpen shot

Two funny stories to share as I wrap this up:

1. As I was trying to catch an autograph, I struck up a conversation with an Orioles fan next to me. Turned out we were both born in Dunkirk, NY! What are the odds of that?

2. Boog Powell totally lied to me. We had heard he was at the stadium near his BBQ restaurant in the outfield concourse, so we tried to get an autograph. We spotted him in line getting a beer, and politely asked if we could get his signature. He flat out told us he wasn't Boog, and that Boog was in the kitchen. The look on the beer servers' faces told us all we need to know. We did pass by the kitchen and saw a guy who turned out to be Boog's son! I can't be mad at the guy for blowing me off, the story is at least worthwhile! 😂

It was a great week! I even picked up some baseball cards, but that will be another post!

I had to take this selfie!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Adventures in Spring Training Game #3: Tigers at Pirates

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

On Tuesday, it was raining over most of Florida. Lots of games got cancelled, but we took a chance and managed to score ticleats to the game in Bradenton. Because of the weather, we didn't get to Lecom Park in time to try for autographs. We did get great seats right by 3rd base.

Starting lineups

The Pirates won 3-1. I got to see two incredible plays:

In the first, the Tigers loaded the bases with just one out, but the Pirates pulled off an amazing double play:

I managed to get a pic just as the tag was applied:

Then in the 5th, I had a great view of Starling Matte as he stole 3rd base, then scored on an bad throw by the Tigers catcher. It was an exciting game!

Tigers warmups

Tigers lined up for the anthem

Meeting at the mound

Candelario stuck between 2nd
 and 3rd during that double play

Sterling Marte

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Adventures At Spring Training - Game 2 Yankees at Orioles

Sunday, March 17

Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota is a great place to see a game. It's a very nice ballpark, and the staff is some of the friendliest you will meet.

Starting Lineups

No big guns on the Yankees roster, which was expected. I promised my daughter I'd try and get her some Orioles autographs, so I watched the Yankees batting practice from the first base side. I almost caught a batted ball, but it got my fingertips instead. It stung for a bit but no real damage. I got a few autographs but nobody big.

Yankees Batting Practice

View From The Standing
Room Only Area

Chris Davis

Bobble Head Bird

Random Yankee in Bullpen

The game was decent and I got to see a few home runs, including one by Miguel Andujar. The Yankees of course won.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Repack Haiku #94 (Mike Jackson)

Exclusive member
One of only sixteen guys
One thousand games pitched 

1988 Fleer Update #U-60 Mike Jackson

Monday, March 18, 2019

Adventures At Spring Training - Game 1: Astros at Phillies

Saturday, March 16

We bought these tickets well before Bryce Harper signed with the Phillies. However, it wasn't meant to be as Harper got hit in the foot the day before and would not play this game.

Starting Line-ups

It was my first time at Spectrum Stadium, and the park was nice. This fountain of Steve Carlton was at the entrance.

Steve Carlton fountain

Since we knew Harper was hurt, we figured out best chance at autographs was on the Astros' side. I ended up with one autograph, from top pitching prospect Josh James.

The game itself was a good one too. J.T. Really do hit a home run, but the Astros blew it open in the 5th by scoring 8 straight runs before getting their first out.

I managed to get some decent picks:

That's Carlos Cortes in the bright shoes

Phillies Phanatic launches hot dogs

Batting practice

Michael Brantley

Phillies Phanatic

Friday, March 15, 2019

TCDB Trade Recap: Cards From Eugene, Oregon

By the time this post publishes, I'll have been on the road for 4 hours as I make my annual pilgrimage to Florida to catch a few Spring Training games. Just like last year, I'm hoping to recap each game and show off any potential autographs I can get. It all depends on how much time I have for blogging and how well my phone or tablet cooperates with me. Stayed tuned!


I completed my first trade of 2019 last month thanks to a new TCDB member named David. He saw some inserts from this year's base set I had made available, and in return sent 4 Red Sox inserts I needed:

The Benintendi is probably my favorite. Although his face isn't showing, we do get an interesting angle as he leaps for the ball. The Fenway Park scoreboard makes the perfect backdrop. You also can't go wrong with 2 (eventually 3) Hall of Famers too!

Thanks again, David!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Repack Haiku #93 (Tyler Stovall)

After minors stint
Made football team as red shirt
Holder for Auburn

2008 Upper Deck - USA National Team
#USJR-19 Tyler Stovall

Monday, March 11, 2019

I Am The Sheep King!

I know what you are thinking....

No, really, I can! I'm a mind reader! How else can you explain my ability to accurately predict the answers set forth by a collective group of fellow sports card enthusiasts? Josh, over the blog Royals and Randoms, devised an elaborate experiment under the guise of a contest. Through a series of questions, Josh set forth to determine which willing volunteer had the greatest ability to predict the answers given by the group as a whole. What answer would most of us lab-rats (lab-sheep?) give for each query?

I won the contest! (I mean, I showed the greatest potential for super-human cognitive ability!)

As reward for my predictive "gifts", Josh kindly sent a generous supply of cards, cards so amazing that even I could not predict their awesomeness!

I know what you're thinking...

You want to see the cards he sent, don't you?  (Sometime my abilities amaze even me!)

Josh sent over 60 Red Sox cards in two packs of pure beauty. I'll show off my 10 favorite cards from one pack now, and save the other for another post.

2003 Playoff Absolute Memorabilia 

#81 Rickey Henderson

Leading off, we have the greatest lead off hitter ever from his brief stint in Boston. The image doesn't really do the actual card justice.

2003 Fleer Hardball 

#161 Todd Walker

I really like the 3-D effect the stitches give this circular card.

2004 Upper Deck - Twenty-Five Salute 

#S-5 Jeremy Giambi

This is a great looking card, but I'll admit I'm confused about the rational behind this particular insert set. It's just a set of players who wore #25 on their uniforms. Why?

2003 Upper Deck Vintage 

#159 Nomar Garciaparra

Upper Deck really did a good job ripping off recreating the iconic 1965 Topps design.

2002 Topps 206 #160 Carlton Fisk

I enjoy the artistic layout of this Fisk card. Simple, but elegant!

2003 Donruss Diamond Kings 

#12 Pedro Martinez

There's something about Pedro's eyes on this card. It almost looks like he feels sorry for the poor soul he's about to strike out...

2003 Topps Tribute World Series 

#124 Cecil Cooper (1975)

I always thought Cecil Cooper was underrated. I'm glad Topps gave him some love with a card like this.

2004 Upper Deck Legends Timeless Teams 

#111 Luis Tiant (1975)

El Tiante! Although the card says "1975", you'll note he's signing his 1977 Topps card. Continuity error!

2003 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Classic 

#99 Ted Williams (TB, SN1941)

If I actively collected in 2003, this set would have caught my eye. It's a beautiful looking set. It's really a shame half of it is serial numbered.

2006 Upper Deck Artifacts - Awesome Artifacts Jumbos 

#AA-MR Manny Ramirez (MEM, SN45)

Boom! An insert that lives up to it's name! This big, white swatch 'o Manny is truly awesome!

That's all for this pack, I'll show off the rest of the cards in another post. Thanks again, Josh! These are amazing!