Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lo, Winter is Past?

A rite of spring eluded me today. Every baseball season, I like to listen to the beginning of my team's first broadcast...and their final out, and the final post-game, post-season wrap-up.

Though I am far from home as I type, I have been able to do this the last few years courtesy of the MLB At Bat app, which has generally been a wonderful thing to have in the palm of my hand. Aside from all the coverage of my team, I certainly wouldn't have been able to listen to a legend of the game like Vin Scully, or the man depicted in the dictionary alongside the word 'smooth' (John Miller), or feel like I'm knocking back a few well mixed drinks after the game back at the bar with gravelly Mike Shannon.

But it seems MLB took a few lessons from Topps and didn't release the new version of the app until the last possible minute. So I can get gimmicks like video pitch track overlays. On my telephone.

All I really want is the incredible buffet of every radio call of every baseball game. Instead I got a long morning of software updates, download throttled free wi-fi connections, a critical cable missing at a critical point, new account log-in registrations, and enough techno frustration to swear off telephone computer radios and go back out in the woods for several more weeks.

All just to have the broadcast finally start working in the 3rd inning.

I missed The Verse

Of course, in the age of all human intellectual content being just seconds away 60/60/24/7/365, now via voice activation just like on Star Trek, I can read The Verse any time I want.

If I want to read it, all I have to do is go back to the very first post on this blog.

So, yes, this is my one year anniversary of blogging. Happy Anniversary, To Me.

Of course, I didn't hit 365 posts as I would have liked, though I batted .395, hopefully a respectable mark for a Rookie blogging campaign. Just lately I've been staying in another remote location without Internet, though there was here last year. In fact I discovered baseball card blogs from the very seat I am sitting in now. But to celebrate this anniversary I figured I should post via the phone, a bluetooth keyboard, and of course, there's an app for this.

I'll be heading out soon, and I really look forward to catching up on a lot of blogs.

So meanwhile to help assauge my Spring Training Baseball Spring Fever, I stopped by one of my favorite card stores and rip a few packs. Even though I probably didn't need the cards, as you will see soon. I want to pull one of those Topps 75th Anniversary buybacks. I really want to pull one. Really. Mostly to see a piece of actual cardboard in a pack of baseball cards again.

I've purchased 6 of the ten card Hobby Packs so far. Only 12 more to go until I hit a Buyback at 1:18. Right?

I also had to break my Olympics spell. I even cheated on baseball cards and peeked at another sport's cards. I'm sure you'd understand the pull of this card.
Oh the things that happen when I have access to cable TV and eBay (via app) at the same time.

But I didn't pull that trigger. I'll miss Curling for four years though. Sometimes I wonder, though, how much I need 2.5" x 3.5" slices of cardstock when I can summon an image of anything I want in just seconds.

But I still need them. So I bought some today. Three hobby packs, 30 cards. I got 2 inserts, a Red Hot Foil parallel (my only Tiger, the basically nice Don Kelly), and 21 baseball player torsos.

I'm glad I didn't try to play Five Card Challenge with a 5 card pack from the Dollar Tree store today. That would have been very, very challenging. I like the Don Kelly card, it's so basically happy, and I love the action shot of Garrett Jones, though as usual I have to wonder about Topps' decisions on who to put in Series 1, at such an unsettled position as First Base in Pittsburgh this year.

Ahh well. I'll eventually read all the backs of these cards, and I did learn that G. Jones hit one into the Allegheny River last year, thanks Topps. But otherwise, a short pile of boring baseball cards. I figured out why Series One bores me this year....I'll have a post on that soon.

Of course, that random itch to rip a few packs of cards was only part of the reason I stopped off at the baseball card store today. I also wanted to be 101% certain I had my name on something new, coming soon...a Hobby Box of Heritage...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The cost of WAR on the back

Is K/SO, or CG.

I was reading the backs of the cards again. Silly rabbit. We need a visual header for the blogrolls, so here we go
Another sweet horizontal card for Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez. I _think_ this is a Night Card, though it almost looks like an Indoor Card. All the yellow in the crowd makes me think Heinz Field immediately however. And I would think a block "P" would be a home uni for the Pirates. Also upon further review we almost get an appearance by a Pittsburgh Steelers helmet on a baseball card, via one of the fans' t-shirts.

Overall I like the sum total of the light on the card. It reminds me of a Tampa Bay card shot at home, but with a vibrancy to it, possibly from all the yellow the fans are wearing. And The Slugger With The Far-Away Eyes works well with the opening textback of the card:

Sorry about slicing off the Rookie Fact there. It is completely forgettable: "Pedro drove in a run in seven straight games, August 4-11, 2010."

OK, did you forget that already? I hope so.

And I must apologize for the blurry photo. Let's take a closer look at a key part of the back:

Notice anything missing there? Of course, I gave you the answer in the first sentence of this post. And no, it's not hidden by Blogger under one of the blogs on the roll there; after BB is SLG and OPS, then AVG and WAR.

I always like to read through the backs of my baseball cards to see who held the dubious honor of leading each league in Strikeouts. Like many sluggers, Alvarez is prone to strike out a lot, though that is excused when you hit 36 Home Runs of course. Some of the other recent league leaders, well I am surprised each year they have new baseball cards, though not surprised when they actually have 2 baseball cards each year as one club grows tired of their constant K action but another club hopes for that old "change of scenery" magic (Mark Reynolds, Drew Stubbs), leading to a new card in the Update set.

For pitchers, we no longer see the CG (Complete Game) stat, but I have to wonder how much longer it will be before an actual Complete Game becomes a banner highlight all by itself. That stat won't really be missed on the backs of the baseball cards.

I would have like to claim a scoop on this discovery; although I noticed this on my own, it has been published in the blogosphere already, as one of JB Anama's readers pointed it out to him several days ago.

I was not surprised to see WAR appear on our baseball cards at last. The well-talked about stat may have been on some cards in one of Topps' more "high-end" sets last year, as I have a hazy recollection of reading that. I don't buy such things myself.

With Strikeouts on the rise in the Power Pitching era we seem to have entered, I would like to see which hitters are participating in this rise, on my own, as I ponder the stat line with just a slice of cardboard.

No more.

Topps giveth, and Topps taketh away.