Sunday, September 28, 2014

Derek Jeter Live

Back when I was buying my scorecards instead of using my own, they often came with places in the back to compile season stats. So, of course, I kept track of the Red Sox players back there. Or, at least the regulars…depending on the space provided. I didn’t do it for the visitors, since I didn’t usually see any particular player more than once or twice a season. I did actually think at one point that it might be fun to keep career stats for the visitors. Compile a list of every player I’ve ever seen, and how they did in games when I was there. Obviously, that’s a big undertaking, but it could at least be started. Frankly the biggest thing stopping me was keeping track of players as they switched teams. Sure, I knew that the “Ortiz” in Minnesota became the “Ortiz” in Boston. Or, that the “Ramirez” in Cleveland was the same “Ramirez” that showed up years later in Chicago. But, everyone else? Which Martinez was witch? Is this a different Johnson, or the same one on another team? It would be a nightmare.

But, with all the hubbub over Derek Jeter this week, I thought it might be fun to do the career stats for Jeter in games I’ve been to. Especially since I’ve probably seen him play enough to make an interesting sample size.

As it turns out, I found scorecards for 24 games I was at from 1999 to 2012 where Derek Jeter played. I know this isn’t every game I’ve seen him, just the ones I kept score at. I can think of a couple others I didn’t keep score at for one reason or another.

How did Jeter do in those games? Glad you asked.

Those 24 games work out to 97 at-bats. About 15% of a season for Jeter. His stats? Lets’s start with the percentages.

AVG .247
OBP .311
SLG .351

Yuck. Not exactly superstardom there. In fact, if you pro-rate his numbers over a full season, he ends up with a .247/14/68 slash.

Does that mean anything? Probably not. It’s not a big sample size, after all. But, it includes games from every part of the season. It has night games and day games. So, it’s at least a good cross section of his career. It certainly argues against the common belief that Red Sox fans hate Jeter because he always killed us. A .662 OPS isn’t anything to shudder at. It’s lower than David Ross and Will Middlebrokks had last season.

So much for the fear.

To be fair, I didn’t check to see how many of these games were facing Pedro Martinez. I probably should. That could skew things a little bit. It’s possible that he since didn’t hit well at Fenway (which, he didnn’t) the numbers are low. Or, I kept catching him on bad days. For whatever reason, he wasn’t great when I saw him.

This makes me want to try this exercise with other people I’ve seen. Maybe if I start with the stars that I can follow from team to team, I can get a good list going. Maybe see how that Rodriguez guy did while I was in the park as he moved from Seattle to Texas to New York.

That might be fun.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Collecting the Sox: Jeter Infestation

As people have been yammering on about Derek Jeter this week, a question came to my mind.

Do I have anything Jeter in my collection?

Obviously, I wouldn’t seek out anything Jeter to add. But, by accident? Maybe he shows up somewhere with a Red Sox player, forcing me to add him?

As it turns out, it has happened three times.

This 1999 Topps card is the first. I was annoyed at the time that I needed to include Jeter in my Nomar binder. I’m annoyed now that I had to add ARod and Jeter. My how times have changed. I’m actually surprised that I don’t have more cards of the “shortstops” which contain Jeter. This is the only one of the trio. With all that star power, I’m amazed companies weren’t popping out cards like this in every set. Which, I suppose, they might have. They’ve just managed to escape my grasp.

The second one is this 2004 Topps AL Batting Leaders card. Jeter just snuck onto the corner of the card. I guess if I’m forced to have him on a card, it’s nice to have him so completely overshadowed by two Red Sox players. I was initially surprised that I didn’t have more of Jeter on similar league leaders cards, where he was stuck on cards with Red Sox players. Then I remembered that Jeter didn’t usually lead the league in anything important, so it probably shouldn’t have been surprising at all.

Finally we have this 2009 WBC walk-off card. As I’m looking at it, I notice two things. First, now that Victorino is on the Sox, this card has two Red Sox players on it. Second, I’m not sure this card belongs in my Red Sox binder. Wouldn’t this be similar to the College Cards post from a little bit ago? Nobody on the card is listed as a member of the Red Sox. The Card is clearly a “Team USA” card. The only thing it has going for it that the 1992 Topps Traded Nomar doesn’t is that Youkilis was actually a member of the Red Sox the year this card came out. I wonder if that’s enough? Especially now that he’s moved on to two other teams since his time in Boston. Maybe I should rid myself of this Jeter card on principle.

That’s it. I was pleasantly surprised when that’s all that came from the binders. Three cards are easy to pass by when needed.


How often has Derek Jeter infested your Red Sox collection?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I Scored!

August 1, 1999

Naturally I usually show the Red Sox portion of the scorecard when I do this. As you may notice almost immediately, I didn’t do that this time. I figured with everyone celebrating Derek Jeter finally retiring, I’d show his side of the card. How did he do in this game? See for yourself.

But first, the rest of the team. Whenever I do a scorecard from 1999 I am amazed at the line-up the Red Sox threw out there. Especially since that team made it to the ALCS. Well, the Yankees in 1999 won their second of three consecutive World Series. How do they look?


Maybe the Red Sox side has some merit after all. That bottom of the order looks inept to me. It certainly looked it on this day. The rest of them are probably only household names because they played for the Yankees.

How about the player of the game? In a losing effort. I think it’s pretty clearly Bernie Williams. He went two for three on the day, driving in three of the four Yankees runs. Isn’t that exactly what you’re looking for out of your clean-up hitter? Get people on in front of him, and he’ll drive them home.

The goat? Well, there are a few choices, I suppose. Four players went hitless on the day. Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada, and Shane Spencer all went 0-4. Which makes Williams’s performance even more impressive since he had Tino popping out after him all day long. But, really, you expect o-fers from the bottom of your line-up. You shouldn’t be getting them from the top of your line-up. That’s exactly where Derek Jeter was batting when he went 0-5. Yup, five times to the plate from your number 2 hitter, and five times outs were made. Struck out twice, and didn’t even advance a runner. You need more than that!

And, that might have been the Yankees downfall that day. With Bernie hitting the lights out, an extra base runner, or an extra runner in scoring position, might have made all the difference in a one-run game. Knoblauch had two hits leading off, and O’Neill had three hits in the three-spot. The lack of production in the two-hole could have led directly to a Red Sox win.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Monday, September 22, 2014

From the Pedro Binder

2004 Topps Own the Game

Wowsers! If style is not a substitute for substance, nobody told Topps when they were designing this card. It’s been a while since I’ve seen as much flair for the sake of having flair as this card presents.

First, the whole name is weird. Own the Game. Who are they talking to? Do I get to own the Game? Does Pedro Own the Game? I suppose he owns every game he pitches. Is that what they meant?

OK. The elephant in the room. What is with the graphics? Are they trying to go retro? The big star/baseball graphic? I’d say it was too ostentatious, but that would be ignoring the rest of the card’s lack of subtlety. What’s with the shiny swirly behind Pedro? Or the swirly stars? Or the checkerboard? Then the really strange part. Those graphics don’t take up the whole card. The top is left clean for the Topps and Red Sox logos. On a big thick blank stripe. Huh? If you’re going to give me a visual headache, might as well go the whole way, right? Maybe they did it so that I could pick out Pedro. Since his head sticks out into the border, I can actually find him.

I get it. It’s an insert card. They’re trying something new. They want to make the insert stand out in the pack. I certainly knew I got this card when I pulled it.  I’m just not sure that should be their only goal when designing the card.

And to think, this was before the Topps monopoly. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Parallel Universe

I opened up my first blaster of Topps Chrome the other day. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be another one of those box break posts. You’ve all seen them before. It’s more about this card that I pulled from one of the packs.

Yup. It’s one of those fancy colored refractors that Topps included in the set. No, it’s not a great hit. It wasn’t the best card in the box. As a Sox fan, the Xander Bogaerts RC was a much better pull. But, this is still a fairly rare card. It’s numbered to 75, after all. Even though I don’t love  it, somebody must…right? There have to be 75 Diamondback fans out there, right? Maybe even 100? Wouldn’t they be happy to add this to their collection? Shouldn’t I somehow get it into their hands?

This isn’t even specific to this card. The advent of parallel sets has done a couple things to the team/player collection. No matter what team or player you collect, there are suddenly rare cards to chase. 25 years ago, if you collected Jody Reed, you had four or five cards every year to get, and none of them were all that hard to find. Mike Greenwell had a few more, since he would be included in an all-star subset or two. As the insert sets came around, the difference grew. Reed still got his five base versions, but Greenwell would be in subsets, and insert sets. He might be into double digits. Or higher. It left Reed collectors in the dust. Where’s the fun in collecting if you can get every card in about ten minutes? There’s no chase.

Parallel cards have put an end to that. Now, every player has cards that will take some effort to chase. There’s a numbered parallel of everyone from David Ortiz to Stephen Drew.

Which makes me feel a little guilty holding onto cards like this one. I have to assume that somebody is looking for it. Along with all the other parallel cards  have sitting around. So, I ask you…

What do you all do with them?

I could try to throw it up on the bay and find a collector that way. But, it’s not like this is a Mike Trout card. I’m not sure that even in its shiny numbered glory it would earn enough to make it worth the effort.

It would be easier if it were a Phillies card. The PhilliesRoom gets all of those from me. So Jim will be getting two of the other refractors in the box, at some point. But, I don’t send all my Diamondbacks cards anywhere. Do other people have lists of collectors from every team? When you get a card like this, do you run to the list and find all the different collectors who would like it? “So-and-so collects the Diamondbacks, but so-and-so is collecting a Sepia set…” Do you have a destination for every team? Do you hang onto them, on the off chance that five or ten or fifteen years from now someone announces that they are looking for all the chrome cards of NL West teams? As I’ve mentioned, I only keep non Red Sox non stars for ten years. So, I’d have a time limit of that sort of opportunity. I could just hold onto them until the ten years is up, and hope I can find a team collector by then, I suppose.

Do you do a periodic “Things I have to trade” post, and show off all the low-budget hits you’ve accumulated over the last few months? All the jersey cards of former Brewers closers taking up space in your collection?

Is there a method to your madness?

How do you find a home for this guy?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Keep Moving Forward

Rusney Castillo is set to make his first Red Sox appearance tonight. Whenever a new player is added to a line-up, whether by call-up, trade, or signing, there’s certain anticipation. Where will he play? Where will he bat? What happens to all the other players in the line-up as a result? This is especially interesting since Castillo is added to an outfield that is already pretty crowded with fairly recent additions and holdovers. I can imagine that it’ll be a jumbled mess of things for a bit. Which, probably means we’ll be seeing everyone bat and play everywhere over the next week and a half.

But, what about next year?

When your team is out of it, like the Sox are, the focus often turns to next year. Whether it’s simply more interesting, or slightly more optimistic. I know I can’t help but think, “How great will the line-up be next year with all these guys in it?” I even started trying to write out a few potential line-ups. That’s where I ran into trouble.

I had no idea where there players should bat.

I had no idea who the players would even be.

I’ve said it before. The roster right now will look nothing like the one on Opening Day. It can’t. There’s too much duplication. You want your outfield to be Cespedes-Castillo-Bradley? Fine. What are you doing with Betts, Victorino and Craig? Betts is doing a pretty good job right now in centerfield, and the lead-off spot. Both of those roles are expected to belong to Castillo very soon. What does that mean? I have to either just sit back and wait to see what happens, or just start making stuff up in dreamland.

Which do you think I do?

Exactly. What do I think could, or might happen? Are there any sure things? Of course not. But, I feel safe assuming that Xander Bogaerts will be at short on Opening Day. David Ortiz will be DH. The rest? I bet it depends on what they can get in a trade, and who gets them the best value. I don’t think anyone is untouchable, if they get the right return. I only think Bogaerts is safer because there’s not an obvious replacement breathing down his neck. So, what would I like to see? Using players currently on the team?

How about a Craig-Castillo-Cespedes outfield, leaving Bradley Jr as a great fourth guy and defensive replacement. I like the three C approach that must beg for a nickname. I envision Middlebrooks and Napoli at the corners, giving Middlebrooks one last chance to lose his job. Up the middle, Xander and Betts form the double-play combo that will star at Fenway for the next five years. Again, B-B is just asking for a nickname. Vazquez gets to catch a pitching staff that is suddenly rich with the talent acquired from all the players I just traded away.

What does that do to the line-up? I’m assuming that Castillo was signed to lead off. Works for me at this point. I’m tempted to just slide everyone down from there. That would put the order something like: Castillo-Betts-Bogaerts-Ortiz-Cespedes-Napoli-Craig-Middlebrooks-Vazquez. I like the looks of that. You could take Betts and make him that “second leadoff” thing and bat him ninth. But, that’s just semantics at this point. I like it. It puts Bogaerts in a pretty good spot for success, and forms a pretty decent meat of the order. Yup. Let’s go with that.

What do you think?

Monday, September 15, 2014

From the Pedro Binder

1999 UD Choice

It’s weird, sometimes, how the simplest cards end up being the best.

Take this card. There’s nothing to it. It’s not flashy. It’s not high end. There’s really nothing going for it. But, it ends up as an almost perfect card.

Look at all the information on the card. Player name, team, position. Even Pedro’s number. What more could I ask for? And, look at the UD choice logo. It’s nicely tucked away in the corner. In fact, all the information is stuffed in the bottom of the card, allotting the picture to have full reign over the top. The information isn’t crammed, either. It’s nicely laid out with colorful graphics. Well done.

I like the border to. It’s stupid, but the two rounded corners really add something for me. It’s a little bit of attractiveness, that’s barely noticeable. Those are the best kinds of additions. Ones that you don’t even realizes that you’re enjoying.

The picture itself is nothing special, but it doesn’t need to be either. It’s tightly cropped to make Pedro the main focus. This is clearly a Pedro Martinez card.

And a darn nice one at that.