Friday, December 26, 2008


I hope that everyone had a enjoyable Christmas and was able to celebrate it in the manner that you enjoy most.

Due to family engagements, I will most likely be unable to post until January 1st. I had thought that I might be able to post a few times before then but it is not looking like that will be possible. Thanks to everyone for all their comments, feedback, and support through the past year. I am looking forward to another year of Rangers cards and good conversation.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pondering Christmas.

Luke 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
2:5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
2:6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
2:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
2:17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
2:18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
2:19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

Amid all the wrappings and trappings of our modern-day Christmas each of us should remember to do as Mary. Keep in mind and ponder the greatest gift that mankind has ever received, reconciliation with God. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Show me the money!

Apparently Christmas came early for Mark Teixeira, seen here on card number 527 of the 2004 Topps set. is reporting that he and the Yankees have agreed to an eight year deal worth buku bucks. This puts Tex in New York for the foreseeable future and enhances the Steinbrenner family's reputation as big spenders.

Hopefully things work out for Mark. He is now playing for what he really wants, money. Lots of it. Oh, and he might be playing for a winner as well.

It will be interesting now to see where the remaining free agents sign. Now that Teixeira is off the table, expect to see the teams in the market get more aggressive.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Book 1, Page 22.

Well, another bright and cheery Monday. Where I am we have snow on the ground and it is about 10 degrees right now. Hope that everyone is ready, or close to ready, for Christmas.

Ok, on to the Pudge cards. Today's page has these for us:
1994 Ultra #132
1994 Ultra Award Winners #1
1994 Upper Deck #245
1994 Upper Deck Electric Diamond #245
Empty pocket
1995 Bazooka #16
1995 Bowman #344
1995 Bowman's Best #X1
Empty pocket

I like Upper Deck's picture on these cards but the back photo shows Ivan without a shirt and kind of creeps me out. The empty pockets are waiting on the 1994-95 Pro Mags #135 and the 1995 Bowman's Best Refractor #X1.

In other news, I have decided to occasionally post wantlists from Rangers team sets I am working on. My first list will be from the MLB Showdown run. I would like to finish up these sets and retire my search for Rangers Showdown cards. Here is what I need at this point:
2000 MLB Showdown 1st Edition
441 Ivan Rodriguez SP FOIL

2000 MLB Showdown Pennant Run 1st Ed
140 Tom Evans
142 Ruben Mateo FOIL

2001 MLB Showdown
433 Luis Alicea
434 Frank Catalanotto
444 Ivan Rodriguez FOIL

2001 Showdown Pennant Run
39 Alex Rodriguez FOIL

2002 Showdown Trading Deadline
82 Juan Gonzalez FOIL

2003 MLB Showdown
292 Rafael Palmeiro FOIL
294 Alex Rodriguez FOIL (might be interested in getting two copies of this)

2003 MLB Showdown Pennant Run
96 Hank Blalock FOIL
114 Ivan Rodriguez SS FOIL (interested in getting two or three copies of this)

2003 MLB Showdown
57 Ugueth Urbina

2004 MLB Showdown
333 Alex Rodriguez FOIL (might be interested in getting two copies of this)

2004 MLB Showdown Pennant Run
70 Alfonso Soriano AS FOIL (might be interested in getting two copies of this)

2005 Showdown
331 Francisco Cordero

If you happen to have any of these and are willing to part with them please let me know what you are looking for in return. I would love to be able to work out a trade.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dock Ellis, 1945 - 2008.

According to, Dock Ellis passed away yesterday as the result of liver failure. He was 63.

Ellis, seen here on card number 691 of the 1979 Topps set, was a successful pitcher with the Pirates and Yankees before coming to Texas via Oakland. In Texas his record would be 20-21 in two partial, and one full seasons.

Perhaps better known for being something of a loose cannon, Dock was an admitted illicit drug abuser. He hurled a no hitter for the Pirates in 1970 and later claimed to have been under the influence of LSD at the time.

After retirement Ellis settled down some. Recently he was working with the California Department of Corrections to assist inmates in returning to society.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hanging my hat.

Not a card today. In keeping with the time of year this is an ornament hanging on my family's Christmas tree.

This was given to me in October for my birthday. My wife and kids gave me three different Rangers ornaments and I can't remember who gave which. What is unusual about this one is the weight. To look at it one would never guess how heavy it is but it must be about the heaviest ornament on the tree.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

1997 Donruss Signature Series - Kevin Brown.

Today's card is from the 1997 Donruss Signature Series. It is unnumbered and features Kevin Brown and his autograph.

While it might seem a bit strange to see an American League pitcher batting it helps to know that this is not the pitching Kevin Brown who played for Texas. This Kevin was a catcher who lasted just two seasons and seven games with the Rangers before being traded. Why he was deemed worthy to feature on a certified autograph card is beyond me.

In other news, I recently received an email from Chris at Topps Heritage Cards. He had added a link to here on his blog and asked if I would mind doing the same. After perusing his site I found it to be a wealth of information on Topps Heritage cards. If you are a set collector chasing this set you need to pay a visit to Topps Heritage Cards.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Showboat rocks Tex's boat.

Things continue to simmer for free agents this off-season. Mark Teixeira, shown here on card number 70 of the 2005 Upper Deck All-Star Classics set, has yet to find a home. Manny Ramirez, Randy Johnson, and Ivan Rodriguez are also still looking as well.

I find it somewhat amusing to watch. When he wanted to leave Texas, Mark said that he wanted to play for a winner and that the Rangers were far from it. That resulted in a trade to Atlanta and then to Anaheim. The Angels made the post-season but apparently that didn't make them a winner in Mark's eyes. Or maybe he changed his criteria. Talks with the Nationals and Orioles began. Perhaps he now wanted to play for the love of the game with a hometown team? Perhaps not. Anaheim tossed a deal at him and the Red Sox followed suit. Talks with the Yankees have been rumored. Most likely Mark now just wants to play for the money. Period.

Things now appear to have narrowed down to the Angels and Red Sox with the Nats still a distant possibility. It seems that what Mark wants is a ten year deal. The Angels have offered eight. They don't seem too worried, if they don't get Tex they'll probably try for Manny Ramirez. The Sox won't go ten either. Apparently their principle owner wasn't impressed with the last player they "effectively had a 10-year deal with" and who was "determined not to live up to his contract." Wonder who that would be? You mean Manny had an eight year contract with a two year option when he played for Boston? Now Boston is gun shy? Really?

Now here's the amusing part. Both Manny Ramirez and Mark Teixeira employ Scott Boras as their agent. Boras played his own role with Manny and the BoSox. Might he have rained on Tex's parade in the process? At least one thing's for sure, Scott Boras is making a mint out of these deals. I guess that means that Mark got to play with a winner after all.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

1972 Topps - Dick Billings.

Ok, another slow baseball news day so we take another gander at the Rangers' first cards. Today we see card number 148 in the 1972 Topps set, Dick Billings.

By the time Billings showed up for odd-angle photo day he was in his fourth season in the Majors. In that year he would appear in 116 games and in the team's first year in Texas he would show in a career high 133 games. He would also post his highest career batting average in '72. As he gazes over the photographer's head, Dick seems to be looking toward his career year.

This card has Billings listed as a catcher. In fact, during his career he played every position except the center infield spots and pitcher. He was primarily a catcher though, making 248 appearances at that position.

Billings didn't stick with Texas long after the move south though. Late in the 1974 season the Rangers sold him to St. Louis. He would be released by that team a little over a year later.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Book 1, Page 21.

Still no big free agent signings to report. It will be interesting to see how long this goes on before the final flurry. Thus far the Yankees seem to have made the most moves with their signings of CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. They are also in pursuit of Mark Teixeira. It would be nice to see them just really tank next season.

In other news, Josh Hamilton has announced that he is planning on skipping the World Baseball Classic. He feels that he could use the time in Spring Training more since he missed so much time away from the sport. Makes sense to me.

Ok, on to the Pudge cards for today. This sheet is only missing two, which is a nice thing to see. Let's take a look.

Empty pocket
Empty pocket
1994 Stadium Club Team #265
1994 Stadium Club Team First Day Issue #265
1994 Studio #157
1994 Topps #165
1994 Topps Gold #165
1994 Topps Spanish #165
1994 Triple Play #199

The two empty pockets are waiting on the 1994 Stadium Club Members Only #ST27 and 1994 Stadium Club Super Teams #ST27. I like the 1994 Studio design but Ivan is wearing that stupid earring that he had for a couple of years and that kind of ruins the picture. Makes him look like some punk kid rather than the best backstop in the business.

One final note for today. Pursuant to a previous agreement, I received a nice package of cards today from Greg over at Night Owl Cards. Due to my lack of Dodgers, the trade was set at 50 cards. Greg went above and beyond and this morning 62 Rangers and one Senator arrived in my mailbox. 17 of them filled holes in my collection. I really appreciate the trade Greg. Extra thanks for the Senator as I don't come across that many. Be sure to check out Greg's blog and see what a class act looks like.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Now hiring...

Looks like all four closer positions are up in the air in the American League West. The Angels and Mariners have lost their closers to trades and free agency. In Oakland, closer Huston Street has hit the road in a trade that sent him to Colorado earlier this winter. Of course Texas is dealing with C.J. Wilson's comeback and Frank Francisco's wanting to hold on to the closer spot.

What Texas needs is a modern Jeff Russell. Jeff was the first Rangers' closer I can remember. There were others before Jeff after I started following the team but he stands out crystal clear. At the time card number 226 in the 1989 Bowman set was issued, he had a grand total of five career saves. In 1989 he would close the deal 38 times.

Things could get interesting in late innings in the A.L. West this next season. Just the sort of situation that a reincarnate Jeff Russell could take advantage of.

Friday, December 12, 2008

'Tis the season.

Due to several recent events, my family has been running behind in preparing for Christmas. Last night Mrs. Spiff got the decorations pulled out and started up. Today she and the kiddos are working on putting up the tree and various other holiday trappings.

All that means that I have now officially donned my seasonal Rangers hat. (Sorry about the picture background, Mrs. Spiff is in the middle of recovering a couch.) I picked up this hat early last year on clearance and wore it for the first time last Christmas. Spiff Jr. was duly impressed and gave his approval. Needless to say, I receive comments when out and about on the town. Since I am in Royals country the reaction is probably amplified.

So, am I the only one crazy enough to actually wear such a headpiece? How about you? How do you fly your team's colors?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Heading home.

Today's card is number 82 in the 2003 Fleer MLB Hot Prospects set. The card is the game-used version, sporting a piece of Mark Teixeira's bat. It is numbered on the back 714/1250.

Mark is one of the players who still needs a home as the Winter Meetings let out in Las Vegas. Manny Ramirez and Ivan Rodriguez are also still homeless as are several other pretty big names. Nolan Ryan left Vegas disappointed at the Rangers' failure to land any pitching.

To tell the truth the number of free agents still on the market somewhat surprises me. After CC Sabathia signed I expected the market to thaw and players to start moving. It appears that this was not the case. Still much suspense as we wait for the free agent lottery to get heated up.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Big Train likes The Big Unit.

In addition to Ben Sheets, there is at least one other starting pitcher that the Rangers might be interested in. Nolan Ryan, shown here on card number T2 of the 1989 Score Traded set, said that he would like to bring Randy Johnson to Texas next season.

Nolan's reasoning is that Johnson could help with the development of the Rangers' young pitching staff. Johnson is only five wins from 300 and is second on the all-time strikeout list. His lifetime ERA is 3.26. Those numbers clearly indicate that he knows how to pitch. From that perspective he seems attractive.

What I would worry about with Randy is his attitude and health. It seems that at times he has struggled with both. If he could stay healthy and keep his attitude straight he might well be able to do what Nolan accomplished in the early 90's. That is, he might set the stage for future post-season appearances. What are your thoughts on a possible Arlington relocation by The Big Unit?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Trades and trading.

Returned to my computer today to learn that Gerald Laird is no longer a Texas Ranger. Laird, seen here on 2005 Topps card number 260, replaces another former Ranger behind the plate for the Detroit Tigers.

In exchange Texas picked up two pitching prospects. One of the guys is only 17 but the other one is showing pretty decent promise and has already performed at the AA level. Of course, prospects are always a gamble. It would be nice if These guys turn out well and can help the team a few years down the road. Even if only one clicks though the trade might well have been worth it. What are your thoughts on the trade?

In addition to the news about the Rangers' trade, they are reportedly talking to Ben Sheets. It is difficult to tell how hard they are going to go after him though. Should they try and sign him or let him go and be patient with their own young guys?

Aside from the news, the weekend also brought in several cards that I had sent off to players to be signed and a small package from the Old World. John from The Pursuit of 80's(ness) had traded with me a couple of months ago and I thoroughly enjoyed the transaction. This time he sent me a surprise package with another 30 Rangers cards. I have not yet had time to look through them and check my wantlists but the lot looks good. Now to scout around for something to return the favor with. Thanks again John!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I will be away from my computer starting this afternoon after work until Tuesday. I apologize in advance for the lack of posts in the meantime. Look for regular posting to resume on Tuesday December 9th. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Toy man.

Today's card is number 9 in the 2008 Allen and Ginter set. I like the A&G cards in person but they scan something terrible.

Chose this card today to recognize Ian Kinsler earning the Texas Rangers Jim Sundberg Community Achievement Award yesterday. According to the Ranger's site, he was given the award because of his work with and for Toys for Tots. The award is about the highest recognition the Rangers can give a player for off-field actions and is appropriately named after one of the nicest guys to ever don Rangers duds.

Congratulations to Ian and his wife for their involvement with Toys for Tots. Hearing positive things about players counts as one of the highlights for me in my collecting endeavours.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Arbitrary decisions.

The Rangers offered Milton Bradley arbitration yesterday. They declined to do so with Jamey Wright, Ramon Vazquez, and Jason Jennings.

If Bradley can repeat this past season's performance he could be a key player should he accept arbitration. Bullpen workhorse Wright and utility infielder Vazquez will be missed and it could be argued that Texas should have considered offering them something.

Not so with Jennings. Jason, seen here on his 2008 Topps card, number 374, spent most of the 2008 season on the disabled list. For his $4 million contract the Rangers got six starts. He lost five of the six and got a no decision on the other. Putting in just 27.3 innings Jason received about $146,520.14 per inning. I find that a bit pricey for an 8.56 ERA and five losses. Letting Jason go looks to be a good decision.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Book 1, Page 20.

Another slow weekend on the off-season baseball front with no major moves. Surely the free agent logjam will break soon and guys will start moving. Oh well, on to the next page in my Ivan Rodriguez collection. Here's what we have up today.

1994 Select Skills #SK8
1994 SP #151
1994 SP Die Cuts #151
1994 Sportflics #88
Empty Pocket
1994 Stadium Club #116
Empty Pocket
1994 Stadium Club Rainbow #116
1994 Stadium Club Members Only #116

The two empty pockets are left open for the Sportflics FanFest All-Stars #AS5 and the Stadium Club First Day Issue #116. If anyone has either of those please feel free to let me know.

Also got a 300 card box in today from Paul at Paul's Random Stuff. I needed about 75 or 80 of them. Nice assortment that completed two team sets. Thanks for the great trade Paul!