Saturday, August 30, 2008

Was it really him?

Today's card is number 998 in the 1989 ProCards set. If you read this blog at all often you may be asking yourself why I am once again posting a card of Joe Wardlow. Why post a second card within one month of a guy who never made it to the majors? Well, there is a reason.

Eleven days after my post on Joe's 1990 Best card, a comment appeared. Left by an anonymous writer, the comment answered some of the questions I had about Wardlow's career. The visitor ended his remarks by stating that he was Joe Wardlow and wanting to know how to purchase the card I had posted.

Needless to say I was pretty thrilled. I would have never imagined one of the subjects of my posts responding. I immediately dug through my Ranger doubles and unearthed a second 1990 Best Joe Wardlow card. I then responded to the comment.

Here we are another eleven days later and there has been no response. Kind of leads me to repeat the title of my previous Joe Wardlow post, what ever happened to that guy? So, was it really Joe Wardlow who replied to my original post or just a practical joker pulling my leg? What do you think?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Odds and ends.

Today's card is number SR-GK from the 2002 Upper Deck Retro Star Rookies set. It features a game used jersey swatch of Gabe Kapler's. Yes, I know, another day late game-used post. I'll try and get back on track next week. Kapler is listed as a Texas Ranger and the Rangers logo is on the card. The swatch is from a Tigers uniform though, at least that's what the card says.

Texas lost last night to the Angels. Not surprising. What may be a new thing is that the starter only gave up two runs over six innings and was winning the game until the bullpen took over and blew it. Something wrong though about Brandon McCarthy still looking for his first win of the season.

If you look on The Bench you will see that they are running various card collection contests. These are face-offs of different collections and/or cards with the members voting on which ones they think should receive top honors. I am entered in a several categories but am really hoping to at least show in the Player Collector and Team Collector categories. If you get the time pop in and see how Spiff's entries are doing. If you're a member of the site I would appreciate your vote if you can give it honestly. At the least, you should find the contests entertaining.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sweet sweep!

The Rangers made history last night. No, not just because it was their first three game sweep of the season. For the first time ever the Rangers swept the Royals in Kansas City. Who would have guessed that in 36 years they hadn't managed one single sweep at Kaufman?

The last two games of the series were pitchers duels. Both nights the Rangers managed to win on runs scored as a result of Royal errors. That means being awake and taking advantage of the situation. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, seen here on card number 183 of the 2008 Goudey set, was awake when Royals pitcher Brian Bannister dropped what appeared to be an easy popup. Salty was running on contact with two outs. When the ball hit the ground he just kept moving and managed to score from second.

Nice to see heads up play. Also nice to see the third quality outing in a row for a Rangers starter. The only thing that bugs me is that it is August and the ship is sunk. Why can't the guys play this way in April and make August mean something? Still though, at least they aren't just coasting into the end of the season and that is commendable.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

That makes two!

Two straight complete game wins for Kevin Millwood that is. Here is Millwood on his 2006 Topps card, number 485.

After beating Tampa Bay 9-1 in his last start Kevin came back last night and beat Kansas City 2-1 in nine innings. Coming on the heels of Scott Feldman's seven inning run the night before, this start should have given the bullpen some time to catch their breath.

It is nice to see pitching like this from a Rangers starter. That's what the team needs if they are to be a serious contender at some point. It's just too bad that Millwood had some problems earlier in the year and couldn't throw this way the entire season. Perhaps if the starting staff ends this season on a high note and gets shored up some during the off-season we will still be talking October in August of next year.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rangers in town.

Well, we made it to Kansas City and back last night and saw the Rangers take out the Royals. Had a good time overall. Spiff Jr. was also observing his birthday (not the reason for the trip, just coincided) and declared it worth missing birthday cake.

A week ago last Sunday Spiff Jr. and I took in a game in Arlington. He was given this oversize Josh Hamilton card as part of a Jr. Rangers promotion. We took it along with us to KC and sure enough, Josh was signing. The little man handed it over (getting a small Sharpie mark on it in the process) and Hamilton signed it. Not a bad score for a four-year old. I also got a 2008 Upper Deck card signed but the signature got smudged. Not sure if Hamilton or I did that as he was handing it back to me.

Going to two games fairly closely allowed me the opportunity to compare The Ballpark in Arlington to Kaufman Stadium. Interesting comparison. Both ballparks are undergoing renovation. Texas in the parking lots and KC on the stadium itself. Both teams are out of contention.

Parking was easier in Texas. Not as many parking lot attendants but less confusing. Texas had more numerous fans. Even with a bigger park and 360 degree seating, Arlington seemed to be more filled with fans. Kaufman had a few spots of density but overall was pretty sparse. More security and cops at KC.

Parking was cheaper in KC. As we walked in we had to have our bags checked. No soda we were told. I had called on Saturday night and spoken to a Royals operator who assured me repeatedly that pop was ok to bring in. The security personnel agreed that a lot of people had been saying that they had been told that. Mrs. Spiff ran the drinks back to the car. In Texas the security folks just look at your Dr. Pepper and tell you to have a nice game.

As we entered the stadium I noticed the smell, not a good one. Not sure what it was but it wasn't good. Never encountered that in Texas. Access to the players for any autograph seekers is great in both parks.

I have thought several times that Texas should add a second video board to ensure that everyone in the park can see at least one board. KC has a huge "megatron" that the entire park can see. It is almost too big. The sound is definitely too loud. I have had to yell to be heard in Texas over the other fans but never over the PA.

I had several other observations but this post is already way longer than normal. I'll sum up by saying that both parks are enjoyable but Texas manages to win overall on several fronts.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Book 1, Page 7

Hooray! It's Monday again! I know Monday isn't a big deal for most folks but it is my day off. Especially nice after working the weekend. Today the family and I are headed over to Kansas City to watch as Texas starts off a three game visit.

Also got Ivan on Monday to keep the day upbeat. Here we go with page seven from the first binder. Today's cards are:
1992 Topps McDonalds #41
1992 Topps Micro #78
1992 Triple Play #51
1992 Ultra #139
1992 Upper Deck #245
1992 Upper Deck FanFest #2
Empty pocket
1992 Upper Deck Gold Hologram #245
Empty pocket

Got the two spots left for the 1992 Upper Deck FanFest Gold #2 and the 1992-00 Sports Illustrated for Kids #518. Give me a shout if you know the location of either of these cards.

Of these seven cards I like the 1992 Upper Deck the best. Nice shot of Pudge in the Tools of Ignorance. Since he made his name as much with his defense as his bat it is always nice to see shots of him in his gear.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

2005 Upper Deck First Pitch - Loe

Texas lost again last night. That drops them down to 63-66 for the year. They really need to go on a winning streak to get to end the year at .500.

A recent bright spot has been Kameron Loe. Loe is seen here on card number 309 of the 2005 Upper Deck First Pitch set. Kam came into the game last night and went 4 1/3 innings without giving up a run. That gave Texas the chance to climb back into the game and give winning a go.

Since being called up on August 16th, Loe has hurled 9 1/3 shutout innings. Not bad, not bad at all. Now we just need the starters to give him and the rest of the bullpen a break occasionally so they can keep pitching that way.

Friday, August 22, 2008

1982 Topps - Charlie Hough auto

Making up for yesterday, we dip into the game-used and autographs box. Out comes a 1981 Topps card, number 371 in the set. I picked this card up off Ebay in a lot of signed Rangers cards.

Charlie was an integral part of the Rangers rotation for several years. Throwing a baffling knuckleball he was the perfect mix with Nolan Ryan once Texas signed The Express. Charlie holds the lead for most wins, innings pitched, complete games, games started, and strikeouts as a Ranger. He is in the top five in shutouts and games appeared in. He also is first in hit batsmen. Guess that knuckleball went where it wanted, not always where Hough told it to go.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

2006 Bowman - Kevin Millwood

Thursday is normally reserved for game-used or autograph cards. Obviously card number 83 in the 2006 Bowman set is neither. I didn't have any game-used or autographed Kevin Millwood though.

The reason I wanted to post a card of Millwood is to recognize his complete game yesterday. Kevin threw all nine innings and won the game 9-1 over the Tigers. This was Millwood's first complete game since August of last season.

Sadly, this is a big accomplishment for the Rangers' pitching staff this year. Texas relievers have pitched over 465 innings this year. That leads the majors. It also wears the guys in the pen down to a nub. Burning up your relief is not the way to fend off an opposing team in late innings. These guys need to be kept as fresh as possible. Rangers pitchers need to go more than 5-6 innings a night to keep the bullpen effective. It would be nice to see the pitching staff get to the point where a complete game is an interesting note, not the greatest highlight of the night.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Back and forth.

Today's card is number 106 in the 2003 Fleer Authentix set, Hank Blalock.

Blalock is moving back to first base. The Rangers announced this past weekend that they will be switching him and Chris Davis around. Apparently they have decided that Hank's shoulder just can't hold up at third. Davis did play some third base in the minors and so should be able to make the transition.

I thought at the time of the initial move to first that it would be a little less wear and tear on Blalock. I was hoping that the team would move Davis to third at that point. It didn't happen though until Blalock took another trip to the disabled list. Hopefully this time things will work out better than the first try.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

2007 Topps - Ian Kinsler.

Well, I made it to a Rangers' game over the weekend and got back all in one piece. That is more that Ian Kinsler can say I suppose. Shown here on card number 81 of the 2007 Topps set, Kinsler left Sunday's game early. When he did, my father-in-law commented that Ian was not moving as fast as he normally does. I replied that I hoped he wasn't hurt. He is. Looks like a sports hernia. Looks like he may be gone for the rest of the season. Bummer.

Here are the answers to Wednesday's trivia:
1. True - I would have had to flip a coin on this one.
2. Dizzy Dean - might have gotten this one with a stab in the dark.
3. Bruce Sutter - missed by a mile.
4. Gary Templeton - ditto to number 4.
5. Babe Ruth - at least one I would have gotten easily.

Friday, August 15, 2008


I will be unable to post for a couple of days. Thought I would have time today to post but things got busy and it is looking like I will be unable to.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

1981 Donruss Jim Sundberg - TTM autograph

Tired of keeping up with blowouts in Boston so I will turn to players past for today's card. Here we have number 385 in the 1981 Donruss set, Jim Sundberg.

I sent this card off to Sunny in 1988 after I got the TTM idea from Beckett. After carefully copying off the Royals' address I sent off this card and a battered 1986 Topps card. Then came the wait.

To my overwhelming joy, both cards returned home safely and with Jim's signature attached. As an added bonus, Sunny had enclosed an autographed tract as well. Thus encouraged, I embarked on my through the mail autograph career.

One odd thing that stands out to me about this card is the device used to inscribe it. Every other card that I have gotten signed is signed in sharpie. Sundberg used a ball-point pen. I have no idea why. Perhaps that is normally what he used. It would have worked ok I suppose until the advent of glossy cards.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

1986 Classic - Oddibe McDowell

Kind of a hectic day today. Haven't had time to come up with a decent post so I'll fall back on some Classic trivia. Today's questions are provided by Oddibe McDowell on his 1986 Classic card, number 115. I'll probably leave these questions open until Tuesday since I am going to be gone over the weekend. Ok, here we go.

1. (T-F) Ron Bloombert was the first designated hitter in baseball?
2. Who was the last N.L. pitcher to win 30 games in one season?
3. What Cubs pitcher won the Cy Young Award in 1979?
4. Who was the first switch-hitter to get 100 hits both ways in the same year?
5. Who's record for most home runs in a career did Hank Aaron break?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another hurler bites the dust.

Today's card is number 321 in Topps' 2006 offering and features C.J. Wilson. As usual, the foil on the front of the card kind of melted into the background upon scanning.

C.J. is out for the rest of the season it seems. He will be having surgery on his left arm to remove bone chips and spurs in his elbow. That will shut him down for the rest of the year.

I am not sure if I am relieved or sorry to see Wilson out for the last part of the season. He had obviously relished getting tabbed as the closer and finally seemed to be where he wanted to be in the pen. Unfortunately, he blew several saves and got shaky on a few others. On the last night he played he gave up a grand slam and then copped an attitude when manager Ron Washington came out to pull him.

Maybe Wilson just needs a rest. Perhaps the rest of the season off is a good idea. Maybe it will help him come back rested and ready for next year. I hope so. The Rangers seem primed to go as far as their lineup and just need some pitching to go with it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Book 1, Page 6

Ivan on Monday again and here we go with page six in my first Pudge book. I must say that we are covering more ground this way rather than one card at a time. Anyone have any feedback or suggestions?

Ok, let's get going. Starting off on the upper left.
1992 Score #700
1992 Score 100 Rising Stars #70
1992 Score Impact players #5
1992 Stadium Club #415
1992 Studio #246
1992 Topps #78
1992 Topps Debut '91 #150
1992 Topps Gold #78
1992 Topps Gold Winners #78

Anyone remember the 1992 Topps Gold issue? The first year that Topps brought out the concept and it took off like wildfire. Some dealers were charging up to $5 for a common gold. You could get your gold cards as inserts or through getting so many points saved up from contest cards. The redeemed cards came with the winner stamp on them.

As far as card backs go, I gotta say I like the Studio card best in this bunch. Lots of interesting information. What other set will tell you what a player's wife's name is or who he likes to see in a movie? Good card.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

What a week!

Ok, not exactly a week. Nine days to be exact. Up until today I had received four cards signed and returned this month from two different players. This 1990 Upper Deck card signed by Jamie Moyer arrived in my mailbox today. Along with the 1990 Donruss card he signed, this brings the total up to six for the month.

I had sent this card and the 1990 Donruss one to "Moyer the Destroyer" in June. Of course I had to send them to the Phillies but I made sure that I sent ones picturing him when he played for Texas. I enclosed a note asking Jamie to sign this one and to feel free to keep the Donruss one. He assented to sign but ignored the option to keep the other one. Ok by me!

I am really enjoying the through the mail gig. Has anyone else been successful this year requesting autographs through the mail?

Friday, August 8, 2008

What ever happened to that guy?

Today's card is a minor league card of Joe Wardlow. He played second base for the Gastonia Rangers and appears on card number 208 in the 1990 Best set.

Like many minor leaguers, Joe is a little bit of a mystery. I have several of Joe's minor league cards but he never shows up on so I have to assume that he never made the big show.

From what I can tell, Texas took Wardlow in the 20th round of the 1988 draft. In his first professional season at Butte he tore the cover off the ball, hitting .339 in 227 at-bats. He split the 1989 season between Gastonia and Charlotte with mixed results. In Charlotte he batted 156 times and posted a .314 average. He managed only a .111 average in 9 at-bats with Gastonia. After that he seems to drop off the face of the earth.

What happened with Joe? His bat appeared to be shaping up nicely. Was it his glove that gave him problems? Did he get hurt? Decide that professional baseball wasn't for him? Sometimes looking through old minor league cards gives one more questions than answers.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Smash up.

David Murphy (shown on card number 676 of the 2008 Upper Deck set) met Ivan Rodriguez last night. Ran into him really. At the plate. Full speed. Crunch time. Two players on the ground.

Pudge left the game right away. Murphy played another inning before the adrenaline wore off and he decided he had better follow Ivan's example. Pudge is fine, Murph's out two to four weeks with a strained ligament in his knee.

I really hope that this doesn't derail David's chances at the Rookie of the Year award. He seems like a good young player with a decent attitude. He plays aggressively and has developed into a pretty potent threat at the plate. The Rangers are going to miss this guy the next few weeks.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sweet success!

This arrived in the mail today. On July 12th I had sent out two of these 2002 Bowman Heritage cards to Frank Catalanotto. I asked him to sign one and told him to keep the other if he wished. He signed both and returned them. Strangely, one of them had a paper clip on it. This is the better-looking of the two.

Four days ago I got back a couple of cards that I had sent to Gabe Kapler back in May. The cards both pictured him in a Rangers uniform and I told him to feel free to keep one of those as well. He also signed and returned both along with a business card from his charity to fight domestic violence. Worthy cause.

Both Frank and Gabe appear to be class acts and I appreciate their generosity. I have fond memories of sending cards to various Texas Rangers in the late 80's and early 90's. Getting signed cards returned was always a thrill. Seems that times haven't changed as much as I had feared. There are still ballplayers who care about the fans and receiving their autographs in the mail is still as much fun as it was.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bombs away!

Today's card is number UH131 in the 2007 Topps Updates and Highlights set, it features Marlon Byrd.

Marlon was the hero last night in Arlington against the Yankees. With the game knotted at 5 in the bottom of the ninth he came to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. I can't begin to list how many times I have seen Texas squander such an opportunity over the years.

Byrd parked the first pitch over the outfield wall for a grand slam. Texas 9, Yankees 5. Kind of helps ease the gall of seeing Pudge in a New York uniform.

This is the third walk-off win for the team this home stand. These types of wins are high energy and make for exciting ball. I enjoy them. They bother me a little though. The team can't always power its way to victory. Sometimes the pitching has to help a little too. Having said that, I'll take a win any way the team can get it.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Book 1, Page 5

Continuing the complete page posts for Ivan Rodriguez, we come to page five. Again, one hole in the page. I enjoy these early pages because once the endless parallels start, the holes become more frequent.

Here's what you are seeing:
1992 Leaf Black Gold #194
1992 O-Pee-Chee #78
1992 O-Pee-Chee Premier #55
1992 Panini Stickers #74
1992 Pinnacle #156
1992 Pinnacle Team 2000 #8
1992 Pinnacle Team Pinnacle #3
1992 Rangers Mother's Cookies #5

The last pocket is left empty for the 1992 Rangers Team Issue, number 19. If anyone has a spare laying around please drop me a line and I am sure we can work something out.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Murphy strikes.

Murphy's law states that whatever can go wrong will. It did so tonight and resulted in this post being delayed.

David Murphy doesn't seem to adhere to that maxim though. Here we see him on his 2008 Topps Heritage card. Number 193 in the set. On Friday night he was at the bottom of a dogpile celebrating his walk-off single. It seems that when this Murphy comes calling, things go right.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Where's the line?

Today's card is number 325 in the 2003 Upper Deck set, Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez is also on the cover of my most recent Beckett.

One of the headlines on the cover with Alex promises an article on how the headlines impact your A-Rod collection. I haven't read the article yet but the subject is an interesting one.

For any player collectors out there, do a player's off-field actions impact your decisions to collect them? Why? Why not? For some people it does not, for others it is make or break.

As for me, off-field actions do impact my player collections. If I think enough of a particular player to go out of my way to snag their cards I expect a certain level of behavior out of them. I understand that players are people and people are not perfect. I am willing to forgive some bad decisions or blow-ups. Where I draw the line is when players consistently engage in a course of behavior that I believe is wrong and I wouldn't want my children embarking on.

What are your thoughts on the matter?