Friday, January 31, 2020

Breathtaking Sunsets

With the recent election of Derek Jeter to the Hall of Fame, I've been seeing a lot of his 2015 Topps card lately. It's regarded as one of his best cards, and even us Red Sox fans can't deny it's greatness as one of the modern "iconic" cards. What makes this card special is that it is his "sunset" card - a card produced after his career ended, showing his career stats in all their complete glory.

I started thinking about where it ranked among other Hall of Fame player's sunset cards. Fortunately, a TCDB member created a list of the last Topps base card of every Hall of Famer. That made it easy to look and see what other gems there were. What surprised me however was how few players have true sunset cards! Many of them had their last one produced the same year that they last played, making the stats one year short of complete.

I decided to comb through these cards and find out which were best of the true sunsets, and have listed my 10 favorites here (in chronological order):

Mickey Mantle - 1969 Topps

1969 Topps #500 Mickey Mantle

Maybe I'm giving it too much credit because it's vintage, because the standard posed photo really doesn't make a card great too often. After "The Mick" retired in 1968, Topps gave him this one last card. Fittingly, it almost looks like his focus isn't towards an oncoming pitch, but beyond into his post-baseball career.

Roberto Clemente- 1973 Topps

1973 Topps #50 Roberto Clemente

An iconic card, what makes this sad is that we all know this was never intended to be a sunset card. A perfectly round 3000 hits stand out on the back of this final post-tragedy card.

Gary Carter - 1993 Topps

1993 Topps #205 Gary Carter

If I were to rank these as personal favorites, I'd have to give the #1 nod to the great action shown on Carter's final card. If McGriff ever gets his due via the Veteran's Committee, then this card becomes even better!

George Brett - 1994 Topps

1994 Topps #180 George Brett

Even though this shot shifts the focus more to the stadium than the player, it's a fitting card for a legend who spent his entire career with a single team. Half of his legend was witnessed here.

Tony Gwynn - 2002 Topps

2002 Topps #99 Tony Gwynn

On the other hand, when you're known for your sweet swing, a good sunset card will invoke memories of hit after hit after hit.

Jeff Bagwell - 2006 Topps

2006 Topps #573 Jeff Bagwell

When you have the kind of career that Bagwell had, you earn the respect of your fellow teammates. Bagwell was always a team player, so this candid shot with his peers makes this a nice sunset card.

Greg Maddux - 2009 Topps

2009 Topps #287 Greg Maddux

Greg Maddux as a Dodger is still a weird sight to me. Regardless of the uniform, this is a fantastic shot of one of the greatest pitchers ever.

Randy Johnson - 2010 Topps

2010 Topps #220 Randy Johnson

Speaking of great pitchers in strange uniforms... Although I'm not the biggest fan of the from-the-back shot, I can't help at look at this amazing display of athleticism and be reminded that he was older at the time (45) than I am now.

Mariano Rivera - 2014 Topps

2014 Topps #42 Mariano Rivera

Nobody gets that coming-into-the-game moment quite like the closer, huh? You can practically hear "Enter Sandman" blaring from the loudspeakers. Also, I'm glad this save is coming against the Rays and not the Red Sox.

Derek Jeter - 2015 Topps

2015 Topps #1 Derek Jeter

Anyone watching this game just knew he would do something big. There was that charge in the air that let you know this was a big moment. Jeter delivered, and ended this game a winner, just like he spent most of his career. A fitting sunset card if there ever was one.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

TCDB Trade Recap - Cards From Springfield, VA

My bounty of extra 2019 Topps Holiday cards led to another proposal through the TCDB. This time, a nice collector named Christian sent me some of my needs for the set:

He also included a few Red Sox needs, as well as a couple bonus cards:

This wasn't a completely smooth trade unfortunately. These cards arrived with $2.51 postage due! Yikes! Christian was kind enough to send me a few extra cards as compensation - all needs!

Thanks again for the trade Christian!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Repack Haiku #137 (Willie Wilson)

Stole seven bases
In one postseason series
Tied Brock for record

1988 Donruss #255 Willie Wilson

Playing for the Athletics at the time, his 7 steals against the Blue Jays in the 1992 ALCS tied a feat Lou Brock accomplished in both the 1967 and 1968 World Series.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Blog Bat-A-Round: Favorite Set Of The Decade

Last month, Billy from Cardboard History created a Bat-A-Round asking bloggers to name their favorite set of the decade. In my case, it's more of a half-decade. I didn't get back into baseball cards until 2015, so I don't have nearly as tough a decision as some of my fellow bloggers.

Actually, I didn't have a tough decision at all. I initially thought of giving the honor to the 2015 Topps base set, widely regarded as the best card design Topps produced in awhile. Stadium Club is always a safe bet, but to be fair the differences between the years are fairly trivial.

In the end, I'm choosing 2016 Topps Archives. After being away for so long, this is the set that grabbed my attention and wouldn't let go.

I walked away from card collecting in 1993, when I graduated from high school. The industry changed immensely in those twenty plus years, and one of the innovations I missed out on was the joy of pulling an autographed card from a random purchase.

The 2016 Topps Archives set remedied that. Early on in it's release, I pulled this card:

2016 Topps Archives - Bull Durham Autographs
#BDA-J William O'Leary

OK, I admit not the most glamorous card. The insert set itself was panned for the lack of Bull Durham's two biggest stars, Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon. William O'Leary didn't exactly have a huge role in the movie either. Outside of this movie, he's best known for playing the brother of Tim Allen's character in the TV series "Home Improvement".

Still, you always remember your first hit, right? Plus it's whimsical enough that I can appreciate it.

That Archives set wasn't done with me yet though. Later on during the summer, after other releases had taken the shine from it, I bought another box and ended up with yet another hit:

2016 Topps Archives - Fan Favorite Autographs
#FFA-EP Eduardo Perez

The odds of me going to my local Wally World and pulling an auto are low as it is, but to pull 2 from the same product? Unthinkable! I won the retail store lottery with this set! Plus, this is just a nice looking signature from a true fan favorite on the iconic 1990 Topps design. Too sweet!

To this day I continue to enjoy the Archives brand. I've always liked seeing players from today and before my time on designs I grew up with. 2016's set will always have a special place with me because of these two hits.


Since this is a Blog Bat-A-Round post, I felt I should also take a moment and provide an update on the one I proposed awhile back. I challenged others to create a 9-pocket yearbook page, and here are the wonderful bloggers who took the time to give it a go:

If I missed anyone, I apologize. Let me know and I'll update the list promptly!


Oh wow, would you look at that - this is officially my 500th post! I'm pretty sure at least 1/3 of them are haiku...

Friday, January 24, 2020

Payday Pack - Riding The Bench

For obvious reasons, during Christmastime I don't spend as much on myself as normal. This includes baseball cards. In fact, outside of the Topps Holiday boxes, I really haven't bought anything. Fortunately, I have a few payday packs kept in reserve. I bought this pack of Stadium Club back in August, but it's still fun to go back and look at these cards again!

3rd Place

2019 Stadium Club  #156 George Springer

Is it just me, or does George always seem to get great looking cards? This isn't the first time he's made the Payday Pack Top 3, and he's made some good First Impressions as well! Unfortunately, the impression that Springer and his teammates give now isn't as glowing...

2nd Place

2019 Stadium Club - Red 
#86 Johnny Bench

Such an awesome photo! No border needed here when you have the catching gear surrounding Bench's face. The red foil on the parallel just adds to the card's aesthetic charm.

1st Place

2019 Stadium Club  #90 Eddie Matthews

Bench can't beat out this photo though! There's just something about all those neatly aligned helmets and bats. Eddie is ready!

Other Contestants Not Appearing On Stage:
#159 Noah Syndergaard
#37 Carlos Carrasco
#93 Matt Harvey
#197 Hideki Matsui
#42 Luis Castillo
#180 Jonathan Schoop
#WS-7 Trevor Story (Warp Speed insert)
#123 Miguel Andujar
#278 Al Kaline

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Blog Trade Recap: Cards From The Bucs Stop Here

Nate from The Bucs Stop Here offered up some Red Sox cards in exchange for the glittery snowflake parallel of a Bryan Reynolds card I picked up. I wasn't expecting much in return, a few cards at most. Nate went above and beyond, though, and even though these cards have been in my possession for a few week now, I'm still in awe.

This alone would have been more than enough:

With these cards, the return was beyond generous:

However, including these cards was just straight up mind blowing:

A Chrome rookie of JBJ? A Beni Future Star? A diamond parallel of Big Papi? A friggin Mookie Betts rookie card?!?!?!? 

Nate, you've pretty much guaranteed that I'm going to bookmark your want list page! This trade was amazing, and I thank you for your kindness!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Repack Haiku #136 (Mike Benjamin)

6 hits in one game
Tied record for two straight games
Set three, four game marks

1990 Upper Deck #750 Mike Benjamin (RC)
Man, what a week he had! On June 14, 1995 he had 6 hits in an extra-inning game, tying the Giants' team record. Next game, he had 4 more hits, tying the MLB record with 10 in consecutive games. He then proceeded to set the MLB record for hits in three consecutive games (14 hits), and four consecutive games (15 hits).

Monday, January 20, 2020

Time Travel Trading Update #38

The calendar may have advanced one more year, but I'm still going backwards in time! The Time Travel Trading Project enters its third year, and just like last year I plan on giving the trading a bit of a boost by including a pack of the new Topps base set when it comes out next month. Stay tuned!

I already hit a milestone in 2020. I completed my 50th Time Travel Trade this month! TCDB member Brian ("FiresNBeers") received a couple of 70's ballplayers, including newly minted Hall of Famer Ted Simmons. What he sent in return was beyond generous.

The oldest card was also the only baseball card he sent. 2020 marks the 65th anniversary of the iconic 1955 Topps set!

With the Super Bowl less than 2 weeks away, it seems appropriate that the rest of the package consisted of vintage football. Kicking things off with some early 70's Topps:

And who doesn't love Kellogg's 3D cards?

Keeping with the food-based oddball cards theme, Brian also included a couple of Wonder Bread goodness:

Now that's a great way to kick off another year of Time Travel Trading! Of course, this project doesn't thrive without your help. I need willing trade partners! There's almost 200 cards available here, and every one is available. All I ask in return is a card older than what I send out.  2020 is full of possibilities! How many more trades will I complete this year? Will I get anything older than the 1915 card? Will I get any baseball cards older than 1952? Will I mail out any card older than 1956? The possibilities are endless!

The Time Travel Trade Stack:

2018 Topps
#502 Xander Bogaerts

2017-1018 Pocket Schedule
Carolina Hurricanes

2017 Bowman
#12 Trea Turner

2008-09 O-Pee-Chee (hockey)
#128 Tim Thomas

1998 Score
#68 Scott Rolen
#74 Mark McLemore

1994 Sportflics
#113 Pete Harnisch

1993 Classic Draft Picks (basketball)
#33 Will Flemons
#67 Bennie Seltzer

1992 Fleer Ultra
#594 Dave Righetti

1991 Upper Deck
#778 Dave Righetti

1990-91 Hoops (basketball)
#168 Glen Rice (RC)

1990 Upper Deck
#626 Frank Viola

1990 Pro Set - Theme Art (football)
#10 Super Bowl X Pittsburgh Steelers / Dallas Cowboys 

1989 Fleer
#29 Bob Welch

1989 Score
#495 Larry Parrish

1986 Topps
#5 Rose Special '75-'78
#6 Rose Special '79-'82
 #401 Fernando Valenzuela (Turn Back The Clock)

1985 Donruss #557
Mark Langston (RC)

1985 Topps
#694 Joe Carter

1982 Donruss
#NNO Checklist 545-653

1982 O-Pee-Chee E.T. The Extraterrestrial (non-sport)
#15 Among Elliott's Toys

1981 Topps 
#100 Rod Carew (AS) 
#210 Jim Palmer

1980 Topps
#2 Willie McCovey (HL)
#143 Bruce Bochte
#157 Willie Wilson
#290 Steve Garvey (AS)
#605 Terry Forster
#671 A's Future Stars

1979 Topps
#25 Steve Carlton
#130 Bob Watson
#214 Boston Red Sox (TC) 
#465 Reggie Smith
#680 Carlton Fisk (AS)

1978 Topps
#295 Bill Lee
#373 Jim Willoughby
#424 Boston Red Sox (TC)
#482 Rick Miller
#706 Rookie 1st Baseman (Cage/Cox/Putnam/Revering) 

1976 Topps
#70 Roy Smalley/Roy Smalley Jr. (FS)
#196 1975 AL RBI Leaders (Scott/Mayberry/Lynn)

1976 Wonder Bread (football)  
#17 Bill Bergey

1975 Topps
#310 '74 Victory Leaders
#378 Derrel Thomas
#402 Bob Tolan

1974 Topps
#38 Don Kessinger
#67 Tommy Helms
#107 Alex Johnson
#141 Pat Bourque
#158 Jack Billingham
#158 Jack Billingham
#227 Mike Lum 
#349 John Vukovich 
#372 Ken Reitz
#572 Enzo Hernandez
#638 Ken Sanders
#660 Larry Dierker

1974 Topps - Team Checklists
#NNO Montreal Expos

1974 Topps Traded
#458T Jim Ray
#496T Tom Murphy

1974 Wonder Bread (football)
#8 Bob Griese 

1973-74 O-Pee-Chee (hockey)
#53 Richard Lemieux

1973 Topps
#29 Tony Taylor 
#30 Tug McGraw
#68 1972 Leading Firemen (Carroll/Lyle)
#75 Vada Pinson
#79 Jim Willoughby (RC)
#80 Tony Oliva
#116 Ralph Houk (MGR)
#145 Bobby Bonds
#225 Albert Oliver
#230 Joe Morgan
#232 Ken Singleton
#240 Bobby Murcer
#258 Tommy John
#325 Boog Powell
#329 Ed Kranepool
#365 Rico Petrocelli
#368 Bill Buckner

1972-73 Topps (hockey)
#8 Stanley Cup Trophy

1972 Topps
#43 Rick Wise
#163 Tug McGraw
#197 Johnny Briggs
#231 Casey Cox
#239 Tom Timmermann
#363 Ron Klimkowski
#373 John Mayberry
#438 Maury Wills (IA)

1972 Topps (football)
#111 Jim Tyrer
#114 Bob James (RC)

1971 Kellogg's (football)
#1 Tom Barrington
#5 Ron Johnson
#39 Dick Butkus

1971 Topps
#16 Ken Singleton (RC)
#63 AL 1970 RBI Leaders (Howard/Conigliaro/Powell)
#71 AL 1970 Strikeout Leaders (McDowell/Lolich/Johnson)
#90 Joe Pepitone
#95 Luis Tiant
#105 Tony Conigliaro
#146 Ralph Houk (MGR)
#195 AL Playoffs Game 1 - Powell Muscles Twins!
#208 Billy Martin (MGR)
#270 Rico Carty
#290 Tony Oliva
#295 Bobby Bonds
#310 Tommie Agee 
#328 World Series Game 2 - Bufird Goes 2-4 (WS)
#374 Clete Boyer
#374 Clete Boyer
#388 Al Oliver

1971 Topps (football)
#22 Ken Avery (RC)
#110 Floyd Little (AS)
#176 Mac Percival

1971 Topps - Games Insert (football)
#38 Matt Snell

1970 Kellogg's (football)
#3 Tom Matte
#8 Jim Nance
#56 Tommy Nobis
#57 Ed Meador
#58 Carl Lockhart 
1970 Red Rose and Blue Ribbon North American Wildlife In Danger (non-sport)
#32 Polar Bear

1970 Topps
#47 Bob Miller
#390 Willie Davis

1969 Topps
#66 Orioles Rookies
#131 Chris Cannizarro 
#139 Andy Kosco
#182 Bill Rigney (MGR)

1969 Topps (football)
#73 Bennie McRae
#115 Randy Johnson 
#154 Sam Baker
#175 Joe Morrison

1968 Topps
#4 1967 AL RBI Leaders (Yastrzemski/Killebrew/Robinson)
#7 1967 NL ERA Leaders (Niekro/Bunning/Short)
#44 Frank Kostro
#181 Jerry Zimmerman
#309 Ken Henderson
#348 Larry Colton/Dick Thoenen
#449 Gene Oliver
#519 Jerry Stephenson 

1967 Philadelphia (football)
#109 New York Giants (TC)

1967 Topps
#348 Tug McGraw
#366 Andy Kosco

1966 Topps
#154 Chuck Hiller

1966 Philadelphia (football)
#104 Rams vs. Browns

1965 Topps
#17 Johnny Romano
#27 Dick Bertell
#86 Les Narum
#87 Nelson Mathews
#108 Don Mincher
#111 Lee Thomas
#178 Dalton Jones
#307 Barry Latman

1965 Philadelphia (football)
#193 John Paluck

1964 Philadelphia (football)
#172 Ken Gray (RC)

1964 Topps
#18 Billy O'Dell
#45 Milt Pappas
#92 Steve Ridzik
#341 Jim Roland 

1964 Topps - Coins 
#7 Frank Malzone

1963 Topps
#155 Bill Stafford

1961 Topps
#32 Ray Sadecki
#38 Bob Lillis
#96 Billy O'Dell
#258 Jack Sanford
#267 Norm Siebern
#399 Cliff Cook (RC) 

1960 Topps
#138 Art Mahaffey (RC, RS)
#186 Dave Sisler 
#289 Willie Jones
#414 Don Williams (RC)

1959 Topps
#298 Tex Clevenger
#424 Ken Aspromonte
#424 Ken Aspromonte 

1959 Topps (football)
#80 Joe Perry

1958 Topps Zorro (non-sport)
#83 Rude Awakening

1957 Topps
#212 Rocky Colavito (RC)
#235 Tom Poholsky
#249 Dave Pope
#371 Bob Lennon
#406 Bob Hale

1956 Topps
#21 Joe Collins
#103 Willie Miranda (white back)
#156 Johnny Antonelli

1956 Topps Flags of the World (non-sport)
#70 Jordan

1955 Bowman
#25 Minnie Minoso
#208 Ed Fitzgerald

1955 Topps
#45 Hank Sauer

1954 Bowman
#16 Jim Wilson
#73 Don Mueller

1952 Bowman
#57 Clyde Vollmer

1938 Church & Dwight Useful Birds Of America Tenth Series (J9-6) (non-sport)
#2 Black-throated Green Warbler

1922 Church & Dwight Useful Birds Of America Third Series (J7) (non-sport)
#7 Prothonotary Warbler

1915 Church & Dwight Useful Birds Of America First Series (J5)  (non-sport)
#1 Quail

The Time Travel Trading Project is simple in concept. I started out with a random pack of 2018 Topps Series 1 baseball cards. My aim was to trade every card in that pack for something older. Each card I receive in turn is then made available for trade, with the goal to get the oldest card I can get.

Number of trades completed: 50!
Unique trading partners: 31

Number of cards mailed out: 146
Year of oldest card mailed out: 1956

Number of cards received: 326
Year of oldest card received: 1915

Friday, January 17, 2020

Season Of Kindness

I discovered a long time ago that the card collecting community is a generous one. The Christmas season seems to shift this generosity into overdrive. As a result, I have been blessed by a few of my fellow hobbyists over the past month.

For starters, I want to take an opportunity to thank Robert from $30 A Week Habit. He sent me a couple of 1981 Topps cards I needed just as a random act of kindness.

Robert has been working on the 1981 set himself, and his last update on the set had him acquiring the last card he needed to complete it. Congrats Robert!


Chris from Nachos Grande brought back his Season of Giving, and just like last time I was a willing participant! Chris always sends good stuff, and this time was no different.

How cool is this? This pendant commemorates the AL Championship season of the "Impossible Dream" Red Sox and is currently taking up residence in my work cubicle.

Chris also include this oversized "card" of Ted Williams. The back is blank, so I'm guessing this was cut out from a box or an advertisement or something.

On to the cards! There was way too much to show everything, but there was a wide assortment of Red Sox cards. A large portion of these were from the late 90's and 2000's - a period where I wasn't collecting and therefore have a decent gap of cards. Needless to say I ended up with a lot of new (to me at least) cards! I especially enjoy the 1954 Archives cards


Finally, Johnny from Johnny's Trading Spot gets a mention for the second straight day. As if those 1978 cards weren't generous enough, just a few days ago I received a couple cards from the 2019 Topps Holiday set.

Thanks Robert, Chris, and John! I hope you all had a great Christmas, and that 2020 is full of great things for you!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Trade Recap: Cards From Johnny's Trading Spot

Around Thanksgiving, Johnny from Johnny's Trading Spot sent me a nice big stack of needs from the 1978 Topps set:

This lot basically cut my needs list in half, leaving me with less than 40 cards needed to complete the set! I've already sent Johnny a few cards in return, but this will take another mailing or two before I consider my end of the trade complete.

Thanks again Johnny!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Random Thoughts On The Astros/Red Sox Scandal

Lucky you! Two posts in one day! I wanted to get these thoughts down while they were still fresh in my mind. Fair warning, this is a long post. There's a lot to digest here, and I'm using quotes from the official report (in bold) to somewhat organize my thoughts. I apologize if I repeat similar thoughts throughout the post as well.

- First off, this sucks. It's a black eye for all of baseball. I'm disappointed, and the fact my team has a hand in it hurts.
On November 12, 2019, former Houston Astros player Mike Fiers publicly alleged in an article published by Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic that the Astros had engaged in sign-stealing methods in 2017 that violated MLB’s rules. The allegations in the article created significant concern among many of our fans and other MLB Clubs regarding the adherence to our rules by those participating in our games, and the principles of sportsmanship and fair competition.
- If there is one thing that the Steroids Era should have taught us about how MLB and the owners operate, it's that they don't care about what goes on with the game as long as the money keeps flowing in. The only reason this investigation happened at all is because a player came forward and a high profile article was published. If it wasn't for this public outcry, we would still all be blissfully unaware.
Approximately two months into the 2017 season, a group of players, including
Carlos Beltr├ín, discussed that the team could improve on decoding opposing teams’ signs and communicating the signs to the batter.
- Why is Beltran the only player in this group named in this report? Ironic how it happens to be someone that not only is no longer on the team, but retired and no longer a player. For an investigative report, a lot of facts seem to be omitted.

- Speaking of Beltran, it'll be interesting how this affects his new job as Mets manager. Will he even get to keep it?

- I wonder if Hall of Fame voters will treat this scandal in the same light as they do with players connected to PEDs. Does Beltran's chances of induction take a Barry Bonds level hit?
Witnesses consistently describe this new scheme as player-driven, and with the exception of Cora, non-player staff, including individuals in the video replay review room, had no involvement in the banging scheme.
- What bothers me the most is that, outside of Alex Cora, the main culprits will get off without so much a slap on the wrist. This is squarely on the players, and they should have received some form of punishment. More on this in a bit.
However, witnesses made clear that everyone proximate to the Astros’ dugout preemptively heard or saw the banging. 
- I find this statement very interesting. Last time I checked, the coaching staff consisted of more than just the manager and bench coach. How come none of the other coaches are being held accountable? Why do they get to keep their jobs? Does anyone honestly believe the hitting coach was blind to all this? Did any of them try to stop it?

- This also means the starting pitchers were in on this too, if not the whole pitching staff. They may not have benefited in the batter's box, but they benefited from the resulting wins. I'm sorry, but Justin Verlander's Hall of Fame case takes a bit of a hit here.
Many of the players who were interviewed admitted that they knew the scheme was wrong because it crossed the line from what the player believed was fair competition and/or violated MLB rules. Players stated that if Manager A.J. Hinch told them to stop engaging in the conduct, they would have immediately stopped.
- This is bull-$h!t of the highest order! They would have stopped if Hinch told them to? Are you kidding me? These are not naive little kids who needed proper guidance. These are grown men, most of them millionaires, who knew what they did was wrong and didn't care. Those are the words of adults throwing their manager under the bus to make themselves look more sympathetic.
Assessing discipline of players for this type of conduct is both difficult and impractical. It is difficult because virtually all of the Astros’ players had some involvement or knowledge of the scheme, and I am not in a position based on the investigative record to determine with any degree of certainty every player who should be held accountable, or their relative degree of culpability. It is impractical given the large number of players involved, and the fact that many of those players now play for other Clubs.
- I get the assertion that it difficult to determine the level of involvement for each individual player, but to let them go scott-free pretty much makes this entire investigation nothing more than basic lip service.

- I'm not saying the whole team should have been suspended, but for the love of the game, they should have done something!

- I personally thought that MLB should have made the players pay back their playoff shares. The loss of money would be really insignificant to them personally, but it would have been a symbolic gesture that their actions had consequences.

- Of course, Commissioner Manfred is too much of a coward to do such a thing. He'd rather avoid a fight with the Player's Union than actually punish the guilty participants.
Cora was involved in developing both the banging scheme and utilizing the replay review room to decode and transmit signs. Cora participated in both schemes, and through his active participation, implicitly condoned the players’ conduct.
- His involvement here and the fact he's the common denominator between both the Astros and Red Sox investigations means that he can kiss his career in baseball goodbye. He'll never work for an MLB team again. That being said, I'm willing to bet he ends up as a TV analysis somewhere.

- I'm not condoning what he did, but I can't help but think he's being made the scapegoat here. Again, there were other coaches and personnel involved, and I have trouble believing that he and he alone was the only non-player that willingly participated.

- I genuinely feel sorry for the guy. He gave every indication that he was a smart and likable guy who could have had a legitimately bright managerial career. I'll always be impressed by the way he used his hiring as Red Sox manager to provide aid to his devastated home country of Puerto Rico.
The Club will forfeit its regular first and second round selections in the 2020 and 2021 First-Year Player Drafts.
- This seems harsh but fair to me.  Then again, if the Red Sox receive a similar punishment I'll be pissed. Their farm system is weak as it is, and that would really hurt.
The Club will pay to my office a fine of $5 million, which is the highest allowable fine under the Major League Constitution.
- Chump change. These teams are worth hundreds of millions. Change the Constitution and double it at least!
Jeff Luhnow shall be suspended without pay...
A.J. Hinch shall be suspended without pay...
- Again, the people who broke the rules (except Cora) get no punishment whatsoever, while these two guy lose their jobs because they didn't stop it.

- The Astros owner, Jim Crane, of course fired them on the spot because he wants us to believe that he holds his team to some level of integrity. Will the staff in the replay room keep their jobs? The other coaches? Will he release any players from their contracts? Dozens upon dozens of people have their hands dirty here, and unless Crane acts accordingly his hands become just as dirty.

Other Thoughts:

- All this talk about taking away the Astros' World Championship can just stop. It will never happen, and it shouldn't. The World Championship belongs to the fans and the city of Houston as much as it does the players. Don't forget that city suffered tremendously in 2017 with all the flooding, and that Championship was a much needed spiritual lift. Houston Strong means more than all this.

- All of these other players talking about feeling cheated and doing things the right way can get off their high horses. Maybe they personally don't cheat, but they sure as hell won't complain if someone else does something on their team. Remember, Mike Fiers's admission was an exception, not the norm. It's one of those unwritten rules, so don't expect me to believe these guys are saints.

- The Yankees in particular should remember that couldn't score more than 1 run in any of the 4 games they lost in the 2017 ALCS. They didn't lose because of a trash can, they lost because their bats went cold.

- The Red Sox are next, and they'll be punished too, which again will suck. It puts a dark cloud over an exciting and memorable season. I'm curious to see how involved this investigation gets.

- Since Manfred has already established that he'll only punish the manager and GM, it'll be interesting to see if Dave Dombrowski gets suspended despite the fact he is no longer associated with the Red Sox.

- AJ Hinch got suspended, but it's obvious he was not a primary culprit. He's still a smart baseball manager, and it's not unreasonable to expect that he will grow from this. Would the Red Sox be crazy enough to go with an interim manager this year and then bring on Hinch after his suspension ends? Hmmm...

- After the Red Sox, will it be over? It better not be. During the investigation, at least 8 other teams were named for doing the same "video surveillance".  Other ballplayers are saying the same thing. They all need to be dealt with accordingly as well. To be fair, MLB should do a thorough investigation of all 30 teams. You never know, right?

- Is it time for actual baseball yet?

Repack Haiku #135 (R.A. Dickey)

After Cy Young win
Mets sold high and sent him north
Blue Jays gave up Thor

2016 Topps - All-Star Game stamp
#493 R.A. Dickey

Toronto got some solid years out of Dickey, but I wonder if they regret trading Noah Syndergaard for him?

Monday, January 13, 2020

2020 Obligatory Hall Of Fame Post

Later on this month, we'll find out who gets to join Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller in next summer's Hall of Fame class. I enjoy this time of year, especially as voters reveal their ballots. I actually like reading about these votes, and the thought process each writer makes in choosing who they think is worthy. I wish more writers gave us a inside look at their choices. It's fascinating.

Last year, I wrote about who I felt deserved to get elected. I decided to do that again this year as well. Pardon me while I copy and paste from part of my original post from 2018:

I obviously do not have an official vote, but I too have thought about who is worthy and who would make my unofficial ballot. Before I list my choices, a few clarifications into my voting process:

  • I'm a "Big Hall" type of guy - I believe that the Hall's main purpose is to reflect the history of the game. I'm not going to cross a guy off just because he's not an inner circle type.
  • As far as PED users go, I generally don't have a strong opinion. Again, the Hall should reflect this era of the game. To be honest, I have genuine reservations as to how much PED usage affects a player's overall stats. That being said, those guys are placed in the back of the line. As much as I may feel Manny Ramirez deserves to get in, if there are at least 10 other worthy candidates, he won't make my ballot.
I'm going to categorize players into 3 groups - definitely worthy, probably worthy, and maybe worthy. (Real scientific, I know...)

Definitely Worthy

These are the guys I don't have to think hard about. They belong, and that's all there is to it. Obviously, because of the PED issue, not all of these guys may make my final ballot.

Barry Bonds
Roger Clemens
Derek Jeter
Manny Ramirez
Curt Schilling

2007 Upper Deck Masterpieces #90 Curt Schilling

Probably Worthy

These players have strong cases, but not airtight. There are usually some reservations. However, if they get elected, I won't have a problem with it.

Todd Helton - There's a significant gap between his home/road splits. Should that matter? I haven't really decided.

Jeff Kent - Greatest power hitting 2nd baseman of all-time, at least until Cano becomes eligible.

Scott Rolen - Ive started coming around on him. He never struck me as a superstar, but his career shows that he might belong.

Gary Sheffield - He may not have been the most likable person, but he was a scary hitter at his peak.

Billy Wagner - Wagner was a "Maybe Worthy" last year, but after researching him a bit more, I feel he's earned a bump up. He's the closer equivalent to Larry Walker. He was dominant on the field (more so than Trevor Hoffman), but pitching under 1,000 innings in his career is a tough hurdle to jump.

Larry Walker - His final year on the ballot will make this an interesting story. A perennial .300 hitter, the fact he averaged less than 80% of games played per season bothers me.

1993 Score #534 Gary Sheffield (DT)

Maybe Worthy

I'll be honest, I'm not convinced these guys belong. They have genuine cases though, and I'll have to put more thought into it.

Bobby Abreu
Jason Giambi
Andruw Jones
Paul Konerko
Cliff Lee
Andy Petite
Alfonso Soriano
Sammy Sosa
Omar Vizquel

Abreu, Konerko, and Vizquel never gave me the impression I was witnessing greatness. Giambi, Sosa, and Petite are PED guys and there's a definite question if what they took got them even in the discussion. Jones, Lee and Soriano had short peeks that rivaled Hall of Famers, but little else. Lee in particular surprised me. He was arguably the best pitcher in baseball for 6 years, but outside of that was downright pedestrian.

2011 Topps #103 Cliff Lee

My Ballot

Here's my unofficial 10 player ballot:
  1. Roger Clemens
  2. Barry Bonds
  3. Todd Helton
  4. Derek Jeter
  5. Jeff Kent
  6. Manny Ramirez
  7. Scott Rolen
  8. Curt Schilling
  9. Billy Wagner
  10. Larry Walker
Bonds, Clemens, Ramirez, Sheffield, Giambi, Petite and Sosa are held back due to their PED connections. That leaves 2 players from the Definitely Worthy list and 5 guys from the Probably Worthy list. Three remaining spots on the ballot for the PED connected players, which goes to the three guys remaining on my Definitely Worthy list. This marks the first time in the three years I've done this that all the players from the top tier make the ballot. Only Sheffield keeps this from being a two-tiered sweep, and I think next year's weak class may get him there next time.

In the end, I expect Jeter will be the only one elected, and probably unanimously like his teammate last year. I think that Schilling and Walker will get very close but just miss. The era of crowded ballots has come to an end, and it'll be awhile before we'll hear the writers complain about the 10 player maximum again.

No matter how it shakes out, it'll be another fun and exciting Hall class!( I'm just not looking forward to reading/hearing about how great Jeter is all over again.)