Thursday, June 30, 2016

Strawberry Picking

One of my favorite things to do is visit the local farm each June and go strawberry picking. Since I've started collecting cards again, I decided I'd do the same thing but with Darryl Strawberry cards. Recently COMC had a deal where if you spent $20 you got free shipping so I decided to select a bunch of cards that looked interesting and filled in some my pre-1990 holes. I also think I didn't follow the instructions correctly and paid for shipping. Oh well.

I did select a number of the more prominent makers like Topps and Fleer, but I was really intrigued mostly by the oddball or more limited cards. Like a darn fool I bought one card that I already have (1988 Topps Kay Bee Toys Superstars). One of the factors that went into the order was the quasi-unknown: seeing cards listed on COMC that weren't represented in the Trading Card Database. Thus I was able to get something for my collection, and contribute to theirs.

Topps Boardwalk and Baseball Top Run Makers Box Set [Base] #33
Topps Kay Bee Toys Superstars of Baseball Box Set [Base] #31

Classic Update Blue Travel Edition #209
Drake's Big Hitters/Super Pitchers Food Issue [Base] #3
Fleer Baseball Record Setters Box Set [Base] #39
Fleer Baseball's Best Sluggers vs. Pitchers Box Set [Base] #40
Fleer Baseball's Hottest Stars Box Sets [Base] #39
Fleer Baseball's League Leaders Box Set [Base] #40
King-B Collector's Edition Discs Food Issue [Base] #8
Sportflics #155
Sportflics Gamewinners Box Set [Base] #15
Topps Big #253
Topps Kay Bee Toys Superstars of Baseball Box Set [Base] #29
Topps Kmart Memorable Moments #29
Topps United Kingdom Minis #76

Bowman #387
Cereal MSA Superstars #3
Donruss MVP #BC-6
Fleer Baseball MVP Box Set [Base] #36
Fleer Baseball's League Leaders Box Set [Base] #37
Fleer Limited Edition Baseball Superstars Box Set [Base] #39
J.J. Nissen Super Stars Food Issue [Base] #10
Kahn's New York Mets #DAST
King-B Collector's Edition Discs #15
O-Pee-Chee #300
Topps Kmart Dream Team Box Set [Base] #28
Topps Cap'n Crunch Food Issue [Base] #7

Hope you enjoy these images. The back side of the 1989 Bowman is perhaps my favorite and I'll include an image here because I love the information it printed: Strawberry's 1988 stats by team played. I think this was a wicked cool idea. I know this information is now readily available through Baseball-Reference and maybe other websites, but putting my 1989 hat on and thinking about the other cards shown here, it really stands out.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Dodgers vs Pirates, Friday 24 June 2016

The Pirates-Dodgers game Friday night at Pittsburgh's beautiful PNC Park was memorable for many reasons. It was the 1000th career victory for manager Clint Hurdle, and featured a couple of long balls. I sat in the bleachers, section 136, row B. Yasiel Puig's home run sailed far over my head and was impressive. The Kang and Joyce home run's were welcome and though the pitching was shaky, in the end "we" pulled it out.

Starling Marte, the left fielder, as a really good rapport with the fans out there, giving warm-up toss balls to fans in various sections. And even shamed someone for snagging a ball meant for a kid. The atmosphere and environment is so wonderful there: a far cry from my standard experiences at Fenway Park in recent years.

One of the interesting things was seeing the Dodgers outfielders near me, Howie Kendrick and Scott Van Slyke, looking at note cards that they kept in the back pockets that told them where to stand in the outfield. This was biggish news back in May when the Dodgers sought permission from the Mets to paint spots on their outfield to help the players.

Before the game, I took the 3:45 pm tour of the ballpark which I did because it afforded me the chance to watch batting practice. We missed the Pirates pretty much, except for sneak peaks from various stops on the tour; but getting to watch the Dodgers was fun, too. Seeing Clayton Kershaw, Chase Utley, Yasiel Puig, Scott Kazmir, Kenta Maeda, Justing Turner, Adrian Gonzalez all up close was nifty. It was also a free T-shirt Friday so I got a Kang shirt. Nice.

While I tweeted during the tour and game here are some pictures...

The photos are all out of order, sorry! There it is, enjoying a Victory Hop Devil IPA in advance of a Pirates victory. #RaiseIt

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Baseball Trip

Last fall, my wife and I took a week long tour of part of the country we had never visited and the impetus for this trip was to see baseball games in the respective cities. In planning the trip, I sought to see the most number of teams possible in the cities. We settled on visiting Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, and decided on games in the last week of the regular season as we figured, rightly it turned out, that the games would still be meaningful. Six games in six nights in three different cities.

We flew to Pittsburgh, hired a car, and drove to Cincinnati. Upon arrival, we were advised by our hotel, which we had booked and paid for in full in advance in JANUARY, that they cancelled our reservation and they refused to help us out. Not very welcoming. We stayed one nice in a literal roach motel in Kentucky before finding more tolerable lodgings in Mason, Ohio. We picked downtown hotels so we could just walk to and from the ballparks and enjoy the proximity of everything, and be able to go for a nap or something in the afternoon if we wanted. Mason was fine, but just a bit too far out so once we were in Cincinnati were were basically stuck. Had good food, spent a lot of time in Newport, Kentucky, and saw one game at Great American Ballpark.

We were supposed to see two, but the weather being foul, the first game against the Cubs on 29 September started about 17 hours late because of rain and because we were in Mason...well...I watched the game on the television in the hotel under blankets I was so chilled to the bone. We had freakin' sweet seats for that game too. For the game on the 30th, I was excited to see Jon Lester pitch. He pitched well and I even got to see that unicorn: a Lester hit while at bat! See other young Cubs stars like Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, and Kris Bryant was very awesome.

Our seats for the rain-delayed game were awesome
The next night we were here. Nice park.

On 1 October we drove to Cleveland happy to visit the mistake on the lake. My knowledge of these cities was scant, but this YouTube video was my only impression of Cleveland so I was nervous. I do have to say this tourism video makes me unreasonably happy.

Windy. What a miserable place this city is. Relentless wind. We saw the 1 October game with the Minnesota Twins visiting the Indiana. I forked out good money to be in the second row behind the Twins dugout and we had a nice game, cold weather notwithstanding. My biggest childhood dream came true. We gained access to the park during batting practice, explaining to the sympathetic center field gate agent off Feller Square it was our first time in the park. We looked around their "Heritage Park" before milling around the concourse there watching the end of Twins batting practice. I noticed a lefty got solid wood on the ball and tracked the arc of it: it was coming right at us. The ball cleared the center field wall, bounced off the steps in section 101 and seemingly re-lauched towards us. I watched it bounce and then took off racing in the direction it was travelling and snared it with my glove. It was only a batting practice ball; but I feel like that was probably a game ball the night before or something. Had a nice celebratory beer afterwards but my wife wouldn't let me bring it to bed.

Yours truly with his ball
Stunning close up view for 1/320th the price
of  seeing a game at Fenway Park
Joe Mauer on deck
A play at first base
Speaking of reaching bases...Did I mention there was a hooker in the room next to us?

After one miserable night's sleep dealing with hotel concierge and the pimp, we gleefully drove to Pittsburgh were, for shits, I did walking directions from our hotel to PNC Park: 49 feet. We loved Pittsburgh.The food, the fans, the ballpark. We sat in three different seats for the three games against the Reds. Friday night we sat behind Andrew McCutchen in center field; Saturday night we were behind the Pirates dugout on the third base line; and Sunday afternoon we were on the first base line but out towards right field. I've been to a lot of games in many cities and I can say hands down there are no baseball fans quite like Pittsburgh Pirates baseball fans. It's such a great environment. I'm sure it wasn't always like this, and that fielding a competitive team has much to do with it.

Everyday's like Sunday...
These games had a lot of meaning as the Wild Card spots were up for grabs between the Pirates and the Cubs. We all know how it panned out, but seeing a home-field clinching game was pretty special. Seeing the Jolly Roger raised was spectacular, as was the fire works after the Saturday night game. Staying so close the park was awesome as the length of the games really didn't matter and I could enjoy as much beer as I wanted to and just simply roll across the street. A highlight in this series was seeing Aroldis Chapman pitch. Man the guy has gas...and in quite a different way from the way I have gas. Wait, what?

More Pictures:  The Reds Hall of Fame and Museum:

With the rain pouring we visited the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum which was really wonderful. The Wall of Balls was cool; the wall of baseball cards was cooler, and seeing World Series trophies the coolest. And who doesn't love a Bo Diaz jersey?

More of Pittsburgh:

What prompted this post is that tomorrow  I'll be back in Pittsburgh for a conference (actually outside of Pittsburgh) but I'm flying in Friday so that I can see that night's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. I really never thought I'd be back so soon. To be honest, when I found out about the conference the first thing I did was check to see if the Pirates were home. This did influence my decision to attend. I'll also soon be seeing the Reds visit the Washington Nationals.

Thanks for stopping by!