Monday, August 31, 2009

2009 Phillies Team Issue #28 Jayson Werth

Each year, the Phillies create a postcard size team issued set, available for sale at the ballpark. Occasionally, the team releases an update set if there were notable acquisitions or significant roster turnover during the year. My favorite card from this year's set features members of the 2008 World Champs dressed in tuxedos flanking the World Series trophy.

As we were leaving the game Saturday night, I wanted to check to see if there was anything new for sale in one of the baseball card kiosks located throughout the park. Sure enough, Cliff Lee was now on top of the team set, meaning I had to buy it. For $5, I purchased my second team set of the year, and I was pleased to see there were several updates from the originally issued set.

The following new Phillies are now pictured in the update set: Ben Francisco, Paul Bako, the aforementioned Cliff Lee, and Pedro Martinez. I'll feature these cards the next time one of these players star in a Phillies' victory.

The following cards have been removed from the update set: my favorite card - the one with the tuxes, Geoff Jenkins, Ronny Paulino, Chris Coste, and bullpen catcher Tim Gradoville.

I'm curious as to why there's no Tyler Walker card, even though he's been up with the team for a few months. They pulled five cards from the original set and replaced those with four cards. Poor Tyler is left without a card in either set. It also would have been nice to see the Phillies replace the broadcasters card, featuring all the current broadcasters, with a Harry Kalas tribute card.

2009 Topps Allen & Ginter/Goose Joak Tribute Bob Dernier

As one of the contest winners in Goose Joak's 100th Tribute Card Contest, I had the pleasure of requesting a custom made baseball card from the blog's generous owner, Dave. Dave had recently highlighted a few 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter custom cards he had created and my favorite all-time player is Bob Dernier, so it wasn't hard to decide what I wanted.

Here's the result of my request (and Dave's work), and I couldn't be more impressed. The picture I sent Dave for this card is from the 1983 Phillies Yearbook.

I can now officially remove this card from my Bob Dernier Wantlist.
Thanks again Dave!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

2009 Upper Deck #811 Scott Eyre

Phillies 3, Braves 2

Audio on mute again, I managed to watch the 9th inning tonight out of the corner of my eye. Thankfully, Brad Lidge pitched a 1-2-3 inning for his 27th save, and the Phils hung on to win the game, 3-2. The magic number to clinch the division is now down to 26.

The offensive star was Carlos Ruiz. Chooch went 3 for 3, and his 2-run double in the 7th inning was the difference in the game. (The double was originally scored a sacrifice fly and an error on Garret Anderson, but a scoring change awarded Carlos the double.) Joe Blanton pitched seven strong innings, allowing only three hits (but uncharacteristically walking four) while striking out seven. The win was his 9th of the year.

But the star of the game was reliever Scott Eyre. Pitching for the first time since August 16th, Scott entered the game in the 8th inning with runners on first and second, no one out, and the Phils clinging to a one-run lead. (The runners were inherited from Ryan Madson, who did not get the job done tonight.) Scott pitched out of the jam, inducing an impressive double play ground-out and an inning-ending ground out to preserve the lead.

1962 Topps #111 Dallas Green & 2009 Phungo Cards

Forget Allen & Ginter. Forget Topps Chrome. The hottest set going right now is Phungo Cards. My first pack arrived yesterday in the mail as part of a recently completed trade with the set's proprietor. The pack did not disappoint, as it included several original Phungo Cards, a 1994 Ultra Phillies Finest John Kruk card, a 1987 Sportflics Mike Schmidt card and an autographed 1996 Leaf Signature Russ Springer card. Not bad for my first pack!
Phungo also helped us inch closer to completing our 2009 Upper Deck and 2008 Topps Heritage sets
Finally, Phungo sent along several vintage Phillies cards to fill in some of the holes in my '60s and '70s binder, including this 1962 Topps Dallas Green card. He mentioned he was including a fairly beat up 1965 Topps Jim Bunning card and he wasn't kidding! This poor card was completely abused, and it looks as if someone had attempted to give Gentleman Jim a handle bar mustache. However, into the '65 team set it goes, at least as place holder!

Thanks again Phungo!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

1982 Donruss #93 Marty Bystrom

Braves 9, Phillies 1 (8 Innings - Rain)

Cliff Lee is human. The ace of the staff struggled mightily tonight, allowing six runs and ten hits over five innings. All of the runs scored as a result of home runs. He had been going for his fifth win as a Phillie, which would have made him the first pitcher to win his first five games with the team since Marty Bystrom did it in 1980. It looks like we'll have to wait a little longer for someone to surpass Marty's mark.

The Phillies were 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position, managing just one run on 11 hits. Chase Utley was the lone bright spot for the offense with three hits.

Sorry Gene: Given the Phillies' blow-out loss, I wanted to feature a Gene Freese card tonight, but I don't have one. Gene was the answer to the following trivia question shown on Phanavision during the game tonight: Who holds the Phillies' record for most pinch-hit home runs in a season. I chose Dave Hollins, the incorrect answer. Jenna chose Gene Freese, the correct answer.

2009 Chachi Originals #1 Pickles Dillhoefer

A New Original: Inspired by Goose Joak Originals, Phungo Cards and Capewood's Collection, I decided to try my hand at creating a custom baseball card template. I wanted to keep it simple, and I knew I wanted to include a team logo on each card. I don't know how many of these I'll create, but at least now I have a new template to use in case I need to feature a Cliff Lee or a Pedro Martinez or a Miguel Cairo card in a future game summary post. I also plan to use this template if I want to create a card for someone who never had a Phillies card, or for someone who had a Phillies card, but the card's rarity and price tag are beyond my current means.

For example, Pickles Dillhoefer played in just 8 games for the 1918 Phillies. His only baseball card is included in the 1919-1921 W514 "strip card" set. (So called because the cards were sold in strips.) Pickles' only official baseball card is now officially my white whale. I will own this card one day. Oh yes, one day Pickles' strip card will be mine. (Didn't think I'd ever write that sentence, but there you have it.)

In any event, until the day the 1919 W514 Pickles Dillhoefer card enters my Phillies collection, I now have a Chachi Original to tide me over.

Friday, August 28, 2009

2006 Bowman Heritage #3 Ryan Howard

Phillies 4, Braves 2

Between the rain delays and the occasional dozing off by yours truly, the Phils held on to win tonight by a final score of 4-2. The Phillies rain delay relief specialist, Jamie Moyer, worked his magic again, pitching 4 1/3 solid innings of relief. Jamie allowed only one run while striking out five. He took over for Pedro Martinez once again, who left the game after the second rain delay having pitched only the first two innings.

Ryan Howard continues his torrid pace. He hit two more home runs tonight to give him 37 on the season. In the month of August alone, he now has 11 home runs and 33 RBI. He's got to be a contender for NL player of the month honors. Brad Lidge pitched a perfect 9th inning for his 26th save.

The win combined with the Braves' loss tonight means the magic number now stands at 28.

Braves at Phillies: August 28th through August 30th

Friday & Saturday 7:05, Sunday 8:05

Records: Braves 67-60, Tied for 2nd Place in NL East (7 games behind the Phillies); Phillies 73-52, 1st Place in the NL East (7 games ahead of the Braves and Marlins)
The Situation: The last time the Phils found themselves this far above .500 with this much of a lead was 1993 - a year the team won the NL East and advanced to the World Series. Beginning with tonight's game, there are 37 games remaining in the 2009 regular season and the Phils are currently 8 games ahead of both the Braves and the Marlins in the loss column. They play those two teams 12 more times, or a little less than one third of the remaining schedule. The Phillies' magic number to clinch the division is 30. Bring it.
Braves Probables: Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens
Phillies Probables: Pedro Martinez, Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton

Thursday, August 27, 2009

1987 Donruss #207 John Russell

Pirates 3, Phillies 2

It was all going so well for J.A. Happ tonight until the bottom of the 8th inning. Having already thrown 100+ pitches, J.A. surrendered a 2-run home run to the Pirates' Garrett Jones, giving the Pirates a 3-2 lead. John Russell's team would hang on to the win the game and take the series from the Phils.

Happ's not to blame for the loss however. Most of the blame goes to the Phils' anemic offense, hitless from the 4th inning until Paul Bako's single in the 9th. Jimmy Rollins (3 hits including a double) and Bako (solo home run in the 2nd) tried to get things going, but the rest of the team just looked flat. Losing two of three to the last place Pirates shouldn't happen.

Struggling: Matt Stairs is now hitless since July 11th. Raul Ibañez has completely dropped off, hitting .203 in August with 25 strikeouts and just four RBI.

1936 National Chicle Fine Pen (R313) Jose Gomez

The oldest card in my collection as of this writing is now this 1936 National Chicle Fine Pen Jose Gomez card. Roughly the size of a standard postcard, the Sports Collector Digest Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards explains, "The cards, known in the hobby as 'Fine Pen' because of the thin style of writing used for the facsimile autographs, were originally available as an in-store premium." One could then assume that National Chicle was a store?

In any event, the "card" feels more like a piece of old fax paper, and it’s flimsier than a standard postcard. There’s nothing on the back except a few 70-year-old stains. There are 5 Phillies cards in the set, including Dolph Camilli (2 cards), Pinky Whitney, Jimmie Wilson and Jose Gomez.
Listed at 5'10" and 165 pounds, Jose "Chile" Gomez played only three seasons in the Majors – 1935 and 1936 with the Phillies and 1942 with the Washington Senators. At the time of his debut, he was just the second Mexican-born player to play in the Majors and he's the first Latin American player to play with the Phils. As a middle infielder and wearing #22, Chile hit .231 as a Phillie with 44 RBI. He never hit a big league home run.

In his native Mexico, Chile played parts of 17 seasons in the Mexican League and he was elected into the Mexican Professional Baseball Hall of Fame (Salón de la Fama del Beisbol Profesional de México) in 1971. Chile died in 1992 at the age of 83.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

2009 Topps Allen & Ginter #30 Ryan Howard

Phillies 4, Pirates 1 (10 Innings)

The man whom Charlie Manuel has taken to calling "The Big Piece" came through again tonight. Ryan Howard's 3-run home run in the top of the 10th inning gave the Phils the win against the Pirates. Ryan now has 35 home runs and 107 RBI for the season.

If not for a second blown save in as many nights, Ryan's extra inning heroics wouldn't have been needed. This time, it was Ryan Madson who did the honors, giving up a one-out solo home run to the Pirates' Brandon Moss in the bottom of the ninth as he blew his 5th game of the year. (Madson hasn't replaced Brad Lidge; Lidge had just pitched in four consecutive games.)

Madson's relief work spoiled a stellar start from Cole Hamels (finally), as Cole pitched eight shutout innings, striking out seven. It wasn't a crisp performance, but he managed to get out of trouble in several innings, ultimately stranding nine Pirates' runners.

1939 Play Ball #98 Arthur Carter Whitney

This is the last of the 1939 Play Ball cards I recently added to my Phillies collection, and it represents one of the best Phillies players of that era. The Phillies Encyclopedia begins its entry on Arthur Carter Whitney with the following bold statement: "Any discussion of the top third basemen in Phillies history must include Pinky Whitney."

Pinky Whitney (not to be confused with his ultimate replacement at third base, Pinky May), played 12 seasons in the Majors with the Phillies (1928-1933), Boston Braves/Bees (1933-1936) and the Phillies again (1936-1939). During that time, he averaged 98 RBI a season while owning a career average of .295. He hit over .340 twice in his career – 1930 (.342) and 1937 (.341) – while playing in Philadelphia’s old Baker Bowl, a renowned hitter’s park.

He finished in the top 20 in NL MVP voting three times (1928, 1929 and 1937) and he was named to the 1936 NL All-Star team. Pinky's 124 RBI in 1932 still stands as the Phillies single-season record for a third baseman. Entering the 2009 season, he was tenth on the Phillies all-time career batting average list. Pinky retired following the 1939 season.

Nostalgia: In recent weeks, my Mom has been painstakingly scanning my grandfather’s old slides into digital files. It’s been a blast looking at decades-old pictures, and I know my Pop-Pop would have loved this new technology and the fact my Mom is taking the time to share these pictures with the family. The old family pictures got me thinking about my Pop-Pop, and I wondered if Pinky Whitney was one of his favorite players growing up. Maybe he even owned this card at some point. Pinky's Phillies Encyclopedia entry notes he was the team's captain and he "was extremely popular." My Pop-Pop would have been in his late teens in Pinky's heyday.

I have distinct memories of listening to Phillies games on the radio while driving with my Pop-Pop to Sea Isle in his big white van. He loved the Phillies and he’d keep track of their wins and losses on a daily basis on a Phillies calendar hanging in his bathroom. I still have those calendars and the picture from July 1983 is of the Phillies all-time greatest third baseman - Mike Schmidt, Willie Jones and Pinky Whitney.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

2006 Chachi #28 Gary Varsho CO

Pirates 6, Phillies 4

I wanted to gush about another come-from-behind Phillies victory tonight. I wanted to feature a Ben Francisco card (he doubled in the tying run in the 9th inning) or a Shane Victorino card (he tripled in Francisco as the go-ahead run a few batters later). I could have even gone with a Jimmy Rollins card, since he hit two home runs in the game.

But Brad Lidge blew the game. Again. For the 9th time.

Instead of a celebratory post, all I've got is a slight case of indigestion and this Chachi card of former Phillies and current Pirates bench coach Gary Varsho, looking rather dour. I know how you feel Gary.

Phillies at Pirates: August 25th through August 27th

Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday 7:05

Records: Phillies 72-50, 1st Place in NL East (7 games ahead of the Braves); Pirates 51-71, Last Place in NL Central (19 games behind the Cardinals)
Played with the Pirates and the Phillies: Per Baseball, 227 players have played for both the Pirates and the Phillies, including – Boom-Boom Beck, Dave Cash, Midre Cummings, Spud Davis, Jose DeLeon, Murry Dickson, Mike Easler, Woodie Fryman, Dick Groat, Harvey Haddix, Richie Hebner, Chuck Klein, Mike LaValliere, Jason Michaels, Willie Montanez, Bill Robinson, Don Robinson, Kent Tekulve, Andy Van Slyke and Bob Walk
Put ‘Em Away III: The Phils went 3-0 against the Diamondbacks, 3-1 against the Mets, and now they face the Pirates – the third worst team in the NL behind the Padres and the Nationals. The Braves start a series against the Padres tonight and the Marlins face off against the Mets in Miami. After the Pirates’ series, the Phillies face the Braves for three games at home. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an 8 or 9 game lead when that series starts?
Phillies Probables: Joe Blanton, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ
Pirates Probables: Ross Ohlendorf, Paul Maholm, Charlie Morton

Monday, August 24, 2009

2009 SP Legendary Cuts #6 Ryan Howard

Phillies 6, Mets 2

Despite my busy schedule today, and my inability to fully concentrate on this afternoon’s game, the Phillies and Mets decided to play anyway. I did get to hear a few innings of Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen’s broadcast, so I’m grateful for that.

I heard Ryan Howard’s first home run in the 1st inning (his 33rd), but I missed his second home run in the 3rd inning (his 34th). I also heard the Mets score their only two runs of the game – an unearned pair in the 1st inning. Scott and Larry spent some time recapping the events from the day before, and both were still trying to grasp the reality of Eric Bruntlett’s unassisted triple play to end the game. (As am I.) Bruntlett's jersey from the game is on its way to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

I got to listen to Cliff Lee’s last inning of work (the 7th) as the broadcasters spoke with reverence about just how amazing he's pitched. The win improved his record as a Phillie to 5-0, and his ERA is now 0.68 in the NL, which is pretty darn good. Finally, I heard Brad Lidge pitch an uneventful 9th inning to close out the game, although it was a non-save situation.

The Phils leave New York having taken 3 of 4 from the plummeting Metropolitans. With both the Braves and Marlins idle today, the Phillies were able to increase their NL East lead to 7 and 8 games, respectively, over the two trailing teams. It’s an unfamiliar sensation to be almost to September and not be actively worrying about the Phillies place in the standings. I could get used to this.

1993 Score #512 Micky Morandini HL

Yesterday, Eric Bruntlett recorded the second unassisted triple play in franchise history. The first to perform the feat was Mickey Morandini back on September 20, 1992, against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

With Curt Schilling on the mound, Andy Van Slyke on second and Barry Bonds on first, Jeff King lined out to Morandini. Both runners were running as King had worked a full count. Having caught King's liner for the first out, Mickey stepped on second to force Van Slyke and tagged Bonds as he was approaching second. Unfortunately, the Phils would lose the game, 3-2, in 13 innings.

Three 1993 baseball cards commemorated Mickey's feat:
1993 Fleer Golden Moments #NNO
1993 Score #512
1993 Upper Deck Season Highlights #HI 12

I chose to feature the Score card as it's the only card out of the three to actually picture action from the historic triple play.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

2009 Chachi #55 Eric Bruntlett HL

Phillies 9, Mets 7

Eric Bruntlett's day went a little something like this:

- He arrived at Citi Field to find his name in the starting line-up, giving Chase Utley a well-deserved day off.
- He singled in the 1st inning, coming around to score on a Carlos Ruiz 3-run home run.
- He singled in the 3rd inning.
- He singled in the 5th inning, matching his career high for hits in a game and raising his average to .154.
- According to second base umpire Rob Drake, he tripled in the 9th inning for his first career 4-hit game. Unfortunately for Eric, Jeff Francoeur had clearly caught the ball on the fly (Drake initially ruled Francoeur had trapped the ball), the umpires discussed, and Eric was ruled out. Charlie Manuel argued and was ejected from the game.
- In the bottom of the 9th, he booted two ground balls (only one was ruled an error) and spent roughly three minutes most likely looking for a hole to crawl into.

With Daniel Murphy on first (Bruntlett error) and Luis Castillo on second (Bruntlett boot), Jeff Francoeur came to the plate as the potential winning run. With the runners inexplicably running on the pitch, Francoeur hit a line drive straight up the middle. Eric was breaking to the bag to cover since Murphy was running . . . and he caught the line drive (1 out). He stepped on second to double up Castillo, who was just about to third base (2 outs). He then applied the tag to a stunned Murphy (3 outs) for the 15th unassisted triple play in Major League history. It was the second time in history a game has ended on an unassisted triple play. The Tigers' John Neun did it the first time back in 1927. Can you believe it?

Phillies win the game, Pedro returns to New York, Jayson Werth hits a 3-run home run . . . and Eric Bruntlett (Eric Bruntlett!) ends up in the history books. I love this game.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

2009 Topps Allen & Ginter #165 Chase Utley

Phillies 4, Mets 1

Since the beginning of August, after J.A. Happ wasn't traded for Cliff Lee, both pitchers are a combined 8-0 for the Phillies. The front runner for the NL Rookie of the Year honors, J.A. won his 10th game of the year while allowing eight hits and only one earned run over seven innings against the Mets. Which brings me to my weekly thanking of Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. Thank you Ruben.

The Phillies finally started scoring in the 6th inning, following the departure of Mets starting pitcher Tim Redding. After a walk to Shane Victorino, Chase Utley greeted new Mets pitcher Pat Misch with his 26th home run of the season. The Phils added insurance runs on a Pedro Feliz RBI-double in the 6th and a Carlos Ruiz sac fly in the 8th.

The back end of the bullpen performed according to plan, with Ryan Madson pitching a perfect eighth and Brad Lidge pitching a 1-2-3 ninth for his 24th save. Most importantly, Brad threw eleven pitches in the inning and eight of the pitches were strikes.

2001 Topps #563 Nelson Figueroa

Two of the players involved in the July 2000 Curt Schilling trade are still active Major Leaguers – Vicente Padilla, who recently signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers, and Nelson Figueroa, who is serving as a spot starter/mop-up guy with the Mets.

Nelson’s journey has seen him spend time with the Diamondbacks, Phillies, Brewers, Pirates and Mets. With the Phillies in 2001, wearing #57, Nelson started 13 of his 19 games pitched, compiling a record of 4-5 with a 3.94 ERA. He was waived at the end of Spring Training 2002 and claimed by the Brewers. He’s found some pitching success in his travels, mainly during the offseason while pitching in the Caribbean Series, the Taiwan Series, the Dominican League playoffs, and the Mexican Pacific League.

Nelson's Blog: Apparently Nelson has his own blog, but it's by invitation only. Message to Nelson - If you invite me to view your blog, I'll feature another one of your Phillies' cards. (Perhaps two more, but no promises.)

1939 Play Ball #12 Hershel Ray Martin

Hershel Ray Martin was not a Pinky or a Dutch or a Spud – he was just a Hersh.

Hersh played six seasons in the Majors – four with the Phillies (1937-1940) and two with the Yankees (1944-1945). Hersh was the Phils’ starting center fielder in 1937 and 1938, joining the NL All-Star team in 1938. During his time with the Phillies, he hit .286 with 12 home runs, 115 RBI and a .354 OBP. Hersh spent significant time in the minor leagues, accumulating 2,298 minor league hits between 1932 and 1957. His final minor league at-bat came as a member of the 1957 Des Moines Bruins, the Chicago Cubs’ Class A team for which he was managing at the time. (He was 47.) Hersh was a scout for the New York Mets from 1961 to 1979. He passed away in 1980 at the age of 71.

The Uniforms: It's hard to see the full Phillies uniforms on these Play Ball cards, as the standard pose seems to be along the lines of "pensive swing while looking earnest." The players' posed swing completely obscures the Phillies wordmark on the front of the jerseys. Given the patch on Hersh's left shoulder on his Play Ball card, it appears as if he's wearing a 1938 Phillies uniform which was - believe it or not - blue and gold. (Image from the Baseball Hall of Fame Uniform Database.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

1994 Fleer #582 Larry Andersen

Mets 4, Phillies 2

Another shaky start from Cole Hamels and a lack of clutch hitting from the offense doomed the Phillies tonight against the Mets. I've noticed when the Phillies lose, my posts are either very short or non-existent. Tonight's post is the former.

I listened to most of the game on the radio, and Phillies' announcer Larry Andersen was particularly grumpy tonight. L.A.'s two pet peeves are sloppy play and lousy calls from the umpires. This game had plenty of both.

Don't Worry Jenna: Greg Dobbs left the game in the 4th inning with a strained right calf.

1939 Play Ball #37 Virgil Lawrence Davis

I’m starting to notice a trend here with the pre-1950s Phillies baseball cards I’ve added to my collection. Players of the ‘30s and ‘40s had much cooler nicknames than what we get today. So far I’ve featured Dutch and Pinky, and this post will show off Spud. (We like names like Wily Mo and Jo Jo, but it's not the same.)

Virgil “Spud” Davis spent 16 seasons in the Majors with the Cardinals (1928 and 1934-1936 as a member of the Gashouse Gang), Phillies (1928-1933 and 1938-1939), Reds (1937-1938) and the Pirates (1940-1941 and 1944-1945). He was the Phils’ starting catcher through most of the decade of the ‘30s. A career .308 hitter, Spud finished in the top 10 of the National League batting average leaders in 1931, 1932 and 1933 – finishing second to teammate Chuck Klein for the ’33 batting title. His career average is currently good enough for 118th on the all-time list. Not bad for a catcher nicknamed Spud. (I love the origin of his nickname, as told by the back of this card.)

Following his playing career, Spud served as an interim manager for the Pirates for 3 games in 1946 and he coached with the Cubs from 1950 to 1953. Spud passed away in 1984 in the city where he was born, Birmingham, Alabama.

Still Not as Interesting as Rob Ducey: But interesting nevertheless, Spud was traded twice for the same player – fellow catcher Jimmie Wilson. In May 1928, the Cardinals traded Spud to the Phillies for Wilson. Five and half years later, in November 1933, the two teams swapped catchers again with Spud going back to his original team.

All-Time Best Catcher?: Spud is included in the 1986 TCMA All-Time Phillies Greats set (a set currently on my wantlist) as the franchise’s best catcher. Bob Boone couldn’t be reached for comment for this post.

Phillies at Mets: August 21st through August 24th

Friday & Saturday 7:10, Sunday & Monday 1:10

Records: Phillies 69-49, 1st Place in NL East (6½ games ahead of the Marlins and Braves); Mets 56-65, 4th Place in NL East (14½ games behind the Phillies)
Put 'Em Away II: Before the Diamondbacks' series began, I hoped the Phils would go 7-3 during the current 10-game stretch. Now I'm hoping for 9-1. The Mets are hurt. They're hobbled. Gary Sheffield is beginning his annual bout of pouting. (Aren't we glad he didn't end up with the Phils?) The Mets are nine games under .500 and 16 games behind the Phils in the loss column. Winning three out of four this weekend against the Mets could prove to be the final blow to a crumbling team. (And I may have smiled a little when I typed that.)
Sunday Afternoon TV Alert: Pedro Martinez will face his former team in the Sunday matinee. We'll be watching.
Mets Probables: Mike Pelfrey, Tim Redding, Oliver Perez, Bobby Parnell

Thursday, August 20, 2009

2009 Topps Allen & Ginter National Pride #NP47 Ryan Howard

Phillies 12, Diamondbacks 3

I think it's safe to say things are clicking on all cylinders for the Phillies. With tonight's exciting win, the team is 20 games over .500, having completed the 3-game sweep of the Diamondbacks. (Who are these guys by the way? There were four names in their starting line-up tonight I've never heard of before.)

Joe Blanton pitched another effective game, going eight innings while allowing three runs on ten hits. Not to be outdone by Cliff Lee at the plate, Joe added two hits of his own.

"Crooked numbers" was the phrase of the night however, at least from the Phillies' TV broadcast team. A 5-spot in the sixth inning was capped by Ryan Howard's 3-run blast into the Diamondbacks' bullpen off the hairiest pitcher in the league, Daniel Schlereth. It was Ryan's 32nd home run of the year and his four RBIs for the night left him two short of the century mark with 98. Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz also homered in the winning effort.

1939 Play Ball #45 Merrill May

For less than a week, the 1948 Bowman Dutch Leonard card was the oldest Phillies card in my collection, until I added a few reasonable priced 1939 Play Ball cards via eBay auctions.

I’m told by my Sports Collectors Digest Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards that with the issue of the 1939 Play Ball set "a new era of baseball cards was born." The 161-card set was issued in a larger size than cards of the prior era, and the card backs contained full biographies of the players pictured. (I'm not sure why the bottom of the card advertises a 250-card set.) There are ten cards in the Phillies team set, and I now have four of them.

After attending Indiana University, Merrill "Pinky" May was selected by the Phillies from the New York Yankees system in the 1938 Rule 5 draft. He spent the next five seasons (1939-1943) as the Phillies starting third baseman before joining the Navy and serving in World War II. Pinky was one of the bright spots for the 1940 Phillies (a team that lost 103 games) making his first and only All-Star Game appearance. He led the team in runs scored, hits, walks and OBP, and he tied for the team lead in doubles. In total, he’d play 665 games for the Phillies, hitting .275 with 4 home runs and 215 RBI.

Following his time in the navy, Pinky retired from baseball as an active player and managed in the minor leagues for 27 years (1947-1972), compiling a record of 1658-1560. Given his winning record and his time in the minors, it’s surprising to me he never got a shot to manage in the Majors. Pinky passed away in September 2000 at the age of 89.

Son of Merrill: Pinky’s son, Milt May, played 15 seasons in the Majors from 1970 until 1984.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

2009 Goose Joak Original Cliff Lee

Phillies 8, Diamondbacks 1

And that, my friends, is how you win a ball game. Great pitching, great hitting, steady defense - the game's easy Harry.

Staff ace Cliff Lee took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning tonight, eventually surrendering just two hits. In his fourth start as a Phillie, Cliff pitched his second complete game, improving his record to 4-0, and lowering his NL ERA to 0.82. He struck out a career high 11 and added 2 singles to raise his NL average to .385. He also saved several puppies from a burning building mid-way through the 3rd inning.

As has been the norm, the offense was provided by the long ball. Chase Utley hit a 2-run home run in the 3rd inning (his 25th) and Ryan Howard hit a 3-run home run in the 5th inning (his 31st). Jayson Werth hit his 26th and 27th homers of the year (both solo shots) in the 5th and 7th innings.

A Request: The card manufacturers (all two of them) need to hurry up and produce a few Cliff Lee Phillies cards. (Doesn't Topps put out their Update set soon?) Tonight's card comes courtesy of Goose Joak from his 2009 Goose Joak Originals set. If Cliff Lee pitches another gem his next time out, I'll need to get a little creative and either make another card or track down more custom cards from the blogosphere.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

2009 O-Pee-Chee #29 Jamie Moyer

Phillies 5, Diamondbacks 1

There was a time I wouldn't even have considered leaving a game in the midst of a rain delay. Tonight, we didn't hesitate to leave Citizens Bank Park once the rain let up slightly. I must be getting old.

Pedro Martinez made his home Phillies debut tonight, pitching 3 innings and allowing a Diamondbacks' run before the hour-long deluge. After the rain delay, Jamie Moyer made his 2009 bullpen debut - and he made it look easy. Jamie pitched 6 scoreless innings, allowing just 2 singles while striking out four. To compliment his outstanding pitching performance, Jamie went 2 for 3 at the plate.

The Phils' offense was paced by Jayson Werth (2 for 4 with a solo home run and 2 RBI) and Carlos Ruiz (3 for 3 with a solo home run).

Further Reading: There was a great article in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer by beat writer Andy Martino breaking down Jamie Moyer's reaction to his demotion to the bullpen.

Where's Pedro?: The Phillies display each game's starting line-up by the outfield entrance to Citizens Bank Park, using giant custom made 2009 Topps Phillies cards. I was very disappointed tonight to find no Pedro Martinez card hanging in the line-up. (I would have helped with one had they asked.)

Diamondbacks at Phillies: August 18th through August 20th

Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday 7:05

Records: Diamondbacks 54-65, 4th Place in NL West (16 games behind the Dodgers); Phillies 66-49, 1st Place in NL East (4½ games ahead of the Marlins)
Played with the Diamondbacks and the Phillies: Per Baseball, 27 players have played for both the Diamondbacks and the Phillies, including - Ricky Bottalico, Omar Daal, Travis Lee, Eddie Oropesa, Dan Plesac, Curt Schilling and Amaury Telemaco
Put 'Em Away: This begins a stretch of 10 games in which the Phils will play all sub-.500 teams. I'm hoping for nothing less than a 7-3 record over that span, although the Phils have struggled in recent years to "play up" to the second division teams.
Diamondbacks Probables: Jon Garland, Dan Haren, Doug Davis
Phillies Probables: Pedro Martinez, Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton

Monday, August 17, 2009

1948 Bowman #24 Emil (Dutch) Leonard

I have a lot of Phillies baseball cards in my collection. Until recently however, the oldest cards in my collection were from the 1951 Bowman set, as my Dad has been slowly but steadily adding '51 Bowman Phillies cards to "his" collection. The Phillies were established in 1883, so this means there are 67 years of Phillies baseball cards missing from my collection. Now I'm not about to break the bank on a bunch of rare early 20th Century tobacco cards, but I have recently scoured eBay and won a few reasonably priced pre-1950 Phillies cards. I'll be featuring these cards in posts over the next few weeks.

Some readers of this blog would maintain that 1948 was a very good year. In this year of monumental debuts, Bowman released its first baseball card set - a 48-card black and white mini set. The set featured the first widely circulated baseball cards of Stan Musial, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto and Warren Spahn. There are only two Phillies cards in the '48 Bowman set - this Dutch Leonard card and Emil Verban - so I'm half way to completing the Phillies team set.

Between 1933 and 1953, Dutch Leonard enjoyed a 20-year Major League career with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Washington Senators, Phillies and Chicago Cubs. He was a five-time All-Star, winning a total of 191 games behind an incredibly deceptive knuckleball. Wearing number 20, he pitched for the Phils in 1947 and 1948 back when the team originally wore the blue cap and cream colored uniform combo they presently wear as their day-game alternate uniforms. Over his two-year span with the Phils, Dutch's record was 29-29 with a 2.60 ERA. He completed 35 of his 59 games started - a testament to the durability of that era's pitchers. Dutch was traded to the Chicago Cubs in December 1948 with Monk Dubiel for Hank Borowy and Eddie Waitkus.

Dutch passed away in April 1983 in Springfield, Illinois, at the age of 74.

And one more thing: Ask for Blony Bubble Gum.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

2009 Topps Allen & Ginter #68 Jamie Moyer

Tonight's game will end too late for this post.

5 Inning Summary: In a game delayed an hour and 45 minutes by rain, the Phils and Braves were knotted at one run a piece after five innings. Ryan Howard started the scoring in the second inning with his 29th home run of the year and the Braves' Matt Diaz answered with a home run in the fourth inning.

Prediction: At 4:07 in the morning, in the 18th inning, Jamie Moyer's first career home run will give the Phils a 3-2 victory. Jamie will pitch 7 innings of shutout relief for the win and his home run will come off the Braves' back-up first baseman, Greg Norton. Brad Lidge will pitch a 1-2-3 bottom of the 18th for his 23rd save. Eric Bruntlett, who will enter the game in the 10th inning as part of a double switch, will fall a home run short of the cycle.

Actual Results (UPDATE, August 17):
I was a little off with my prediction. The Phils won last night by a final score of 4-1. Ryan Howard drove in all four runs, adding a 3-run home run in the 6th inning to add to his solo shot from the 2nd. J.A. Happ picked up his ninth win of the season, holding the Braves to one run on three hits.

1980 Burger King Phillies #8 John Vukovich

I previously discussed Matt R.'s Project Baseball 1976 blog, and now it's time to pay my respects to the Dean Family's 1980 Topps blog. Similar to Matt's blog, every post contains an incredible amount of information about the card featured. Each post also includes a personal anecdote or recollection involving the card, and it's been fun following along. I will admit however, I'll sometimes skip ahead through the thoroughly researched information in the body of the post to the "Why I Love This Card" section at the end of each post. Most of these have honestly made me laugh a little. A little humor, something I didn't already know about the 1980 Topps set and clear pictures of the front and backs of each card – what more could you ask for in a blog?

Long-time Phillie player and coach John Vukovich wasn't included in the main 1980 Topps set, but he did get his own card when Topps collaborated with Burger King for the 1980 Burger King Phillies set. Other players (and a manager) featured in this set, but not included in the Topps base set: manager Dallas Green (a mini Dallas can be found on the Phillies team card in the base set), Keith Moreland, Lonnie Smith, and Kevin Saucier. (Kevin is featured on the Phillies Future Stars card in the base set, but he gets his own Burger King card.)

For the record, if I ever decided to start a blog highlighting each card from a set, I'd have a tough time deciding between the 1956 Topps set and the 1975 Topps set.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

1999 Pacific Revolution #107 Desi Relaford

Braves 4, Phillies 3

I'm struggling with with a tough question right now and perhaps a few readers of this blog can provide assistance. Which is uglier - the way the Phillies lost this afternoon to the Braves or this 1999 Pacific Revolution card? Consider the following:

The way the Phillies lost this afternoon to the Braves: Entering the bottom of the 9th inning, the Phils held a 3-2 lead. Brad Lidge surrendered a lead-off single to Garret Anderson. (The "single" should have been handled by Chase Utley.) On a sacrifice bunt by Mike Diaz, Lidge bobbled the ball (error #1) and then threw it away (error #2) allowing Anderson to score from first to tie the game. An intentional walk and then an unintentional walk loaded the bases. Omar Infante singled to left, and the Braves won 4-3. That the Phils were 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position contributed to the ugliness of the loss, but Brad Lidge sealed the deal. Lidge has now blown eight saves. He has an 0-5 record with a 7.27 ERA.

This 1999 Pacific Revolution card: It appears as if a disco ball threw up leaving behind a splattered pile of glitter and Desi Relaford.

Yep, this is a head scratcher all right. Any thoughts?

2007 Chachi #1 Jimmy Rollins

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my baseball card collecting hobby is the ability to sit down with a binder of a complete set and flip the pages. I've spent countless hours flipping through my Topps sets and reminiscing over where or when a certain card was acquired or what was happening in my life when a certain card or set first entered my collection. After a particularly bad day at work or a rough week, it is extremely relaxing and satisfying to look through a good set.

With that in mind, I wanted to spotlight a few blogs I've been faithfully following: first Matt R.'s Project Baseball 1976 blog and in a later post, the Dean Family's 1980 Topps blog. Reading these blogs is like flipping through my 1976 and 1980 Topps sets, but with all the background information you could ever want on the player and card featured.

I've read each of Matt's well-researched posts and I'd gladly leave the comment, "Wow. I did not know that" for each post if I knew it wouldn't get redundant and a little annoying after a while. I especially appreciate when he passes along information he's found on where the player is now, or he'll provide a link to a recent interview with the player featured.

He's up to card #176 at this point, which means there's still time to follow along and look forward to Matt's commentary on the other 484 cards in the set - especially the Kurt Bevacqua bubble gum champ card. And if you happen to have card #525 (the Billy Williams card), that's the last card he needs to complete his '76 set.

(I borrowed the 1976 Topps design as a template for my 2007 Chachi set, and this Jimmy Rollins card is the first card of the set.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

2007 Upper Deck Goudey #278 Ryan Howard

Phillies 3, Braves 2

Another day, another key home run for Ryan Howard. The Phils' slugger went deep off the Braves' Rafael Soriano in the top of the 9th inning tonight to give the Phils the 1-run lead and the eventual victory. Brad Lidge allowed a few base runners in the bottom of the 9th, but he successfully recorded three outs to notch his 22nd save.

Joe Blanton started the game for the Phils and lasted seven innings, surrendering only one earned run and allowing seven Braves' hits. Chase Utley provided the initial offense for the team, hitting his 24th home run in the 4th inning with Shane Victorino on base. The Flyin' Hawaiian also contributed two circus catches against the outfield wall to help preserve Joe Blanton's ERA.

Closing Out: Jenna had complete confidence in Brad Lidge tonight, but I will admit he made me a little nervous (again).

Phillies at Braves: August 14th through August 16th

Friday 7:30, Saturday 4:00, Sunday 8:00

Records: Phillies 64-48, 1st Place in NL East (4½ games ahead of the Marlins); Braves 60-54, 3rd Place in NL East (5 games behind the Phillies)
Played their entire careers with just the Phillies and the Braves: Since the inception of both franchises, 23 players have played their entire careers with just these two teams, including - Heinie Heltzel, Stan Lopata, Togie Pittinger, Ben Rivera, Frank Torre and Pinky Whitney
The Phillies Room Stating the Obvious: This is a very, very important series.
Phillies Probables: Joe Blanton, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ
Braves Probables: Jair Jurrjens, Kenshin Kawakami, Javier Vazquez

Thursday, August 13, 2009

2008 Topps Chrome Trading Card History Refractor #TCHC21 Ryan Howard/400

Phillies 6, Cubs 1

Cliff Lee, the undeniable ace of the staff, shut down the Cubs today limiting their line-up to one run on six hits. He threw 122 pitches, 82 for strikes. He's now 3-0 as a Phillie, and I'd like to once again express my gratitude to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. for pulling off the trade with the Indians prior to the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. Thank you Ruben.

Ryan Howard broke a career high span of 57 at-bats without a home run when he launched a fourth inning 3-run home run to give the Phils a 3-0 lead. Pedro Feliz followed a few batters later with a solo home run, and that was more than enough run support for the ace.

The win completed the Phillies first series sweep in Chicago since June 1984 when Steve Carlton, Charles Hudson, Marty Bystrom and Kevin Gross each won games during that sweep.

I'd also like to thank Phillies' radio announcers Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen for keeping me entertained for 2 hours and 29 minutes this afternoon as I was diligently working.

Finally, thanks are in order for JD of JD's Wild Cardz for providing the fine looking Ryan Howard refractor you're now admiring. JD and I arranged a trade a few weeks ago, and I've now added some great Phillies and Cliff Lee cards to my collection. Thanks JD!

1995 Richie Ashburn Hall of Fame Plaque Postcard

My sister Carol and her boyfriend Bill are in Cooperstown for a mini-vacation this week, and Carol has been texting me pictures from their journeys. Makes me want to plan a trip . . .

If you've never had the pleasure of visiting Cooperstown, NY, I'd like to highly, highly recommend it. It's all baseball, all the time. The first time I visited with my family, I remember the sensation of feeling completely overwhelmed. We were planning to stay for multiple days, but I just didn't know how I was going to have time to see everything. I've been back a few times since that initial visit, and I still probably haven't seen everything.

2009 O-Pee-Chee #416 Chan Ho Park

Phillies 12, Cubs 5

Before the game last night, Phillies analyst Ricky Bottalico correctly predicted the team's offense was going to explode. On the night Pedro Martinez made his Phillies debut, here's a quick run-down of the offensive damage done:

Jimmy Rollins: 2 for 4 with a 3-run home run in the 4th inning
Shane Victorino: 2 for 5 with a 2-run home run in the 3rd inning and a full beer dropped on him as he caught a fly ball in deep center field
Chase Utley: 3 for 4 with a double
Raul Ibañez: 3-run home run in the 4th inning

Don't look now, but the Phils' most effective relief pitcher is none other than Chan Ho Park. Chan Ho entered the game in the 6th inning following Pedro's departure and proceeded to record nine straight outs on just 26 pitches.

The team goes for the 3-game sweep this afternoon at Wrigley as Cliff Lee takes the mound for his third start as a Phillie.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2009 Chachi #54 Pedro Martinez

And so the Pedro Martinez era begins for the Phillies. In his debut, the future Hall of Famer pitched five innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and a walk. He struck out five as his fastball topped out at 93. The quote of night in our household, which I must have said at least seven times, "I can't believe Pedro is a Phillie."

Phillies debut: August 12, 2009
Major League debut: September 24, 1992
Former teams: Los Angeles Dodgers 1992-1993, Montreal Expos 1994-1997, Boston Red Sox 1998-2004, New York Mets 2005-2008
How acquired: Signed as a free agent formerly with the New York Mets, July 15, 2009
Pictured: Pedro pitches against the Chicago Cubs in his Phillies debut, August 12, 2009

1983 Topps #432 Porfirio Altamirano

Whatever happened to that Porfi Altamirano?

Interesting facts about Porfirio:
- At the beginning of his career, he toyed with the idea of going by Pickles Altamirano.
- Porfi pitched in 36 games for the Phillies in 1982 and 1983, all in relief.
- He was the other guy in the Bob Dernier and Gary Matthews trade with the Cubs, when the Phils acquired Bill Campbell and Mike Diaz in March 1984.
- He was fine with the Porfi nickname, but he'd fly into a violent rage if someone called him just "Porf".
- He only appeared in five games with the Cubs in 1984 and was traded to the Yankees in December of the year. However, there's no record of Porfi playing anywhere in the Yankees' system in 1985.
- In his native Nicaragua, Porfi's nickname was "El Guajiro," or The Hillbilly.
- Porfi and Vicente Padilla are the only players of Nicaraguan descent to have played with the Phillies to date.
- Two of these interesting facts are complete fabrications. (The Hillbilly nickname is not one of the fabrications.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

2009 Topps Traded #624T Ben Francisco

Phillies 4, Cubs 3 (12 innings)

Ben Francisco's solo home run in the top of the 12th inning sealed the win for the Phils tonight and prevented me from being cranky at work tomorrow. The team managed only 3 hits all night against Cubs' pitching. J.A. Happ was shaky in his start, allowing baserunners in each of his six innings pitched.

The question has to be asked: How much longer will manager Charlie Manuel stick with current closer Brad Lidge? Jamie Moyer struggled and has been exiled to the bullpen. Lidge has struggled mightily, and yet he continues to be used as the team's closer. If the 2009 Phillies are going to go deep into the Postseason (if they're even going to get to the Postseason), the closer situation has to be addressed. Lidge entered the game tonight with a one run lead in the bottom of the 9th. Fifteen minutes later, he walked off the field with the game tied 3-3 having blown his seventh save of the season.

(This is yet another card sent from Night Owl, with a few modifications made.)

1982 Donruss #345 Mike Proly

Wearing #30, right-hander Mike Proly pitched in 35 games for the 1981 Phillies, compiling a 2-1 record with a 3.86 ERA. He started two of those games (as a spot starter in September) and he also earned two saves. Only Sparky Lyle (49) and Ron Reed (39) appeared in more games for the Phillies than Mike during the strike-shortened 1981 season.

Mike was acquired from the Chicago White Sox on April 1, 1981, for Jay Loviglio. Almost exactly one year later, the Phillies released him at the end of Spring Training on March 29, 1982. Following his release, Mike signed with the Chicago Cubs, where he'd pitch for two seasons. He pitched briefly within the Toronto Blue Jays' system in 1984 before calling it a career.

Mike had four Phillies baseball cards. His first appeared in the 1981 Topps Traded set, and he appeared as a Phillie in the base Topps, Fleer and Donruss sets in 1982.

1989 Upper Deck #246 Von Hayes

This is the true story of the first time I ever saw an Upper Deck baseball card.

Picture it . . . Route 9 in South Jersey somewhere between Strathmere and Ocean City, Summer of 1989. It's hot. Driving with my Dad, we spot a sign in front of a rancher simply stating, "Baseball Cards." We decide to stop. We may have been collecting the '73s at the time, and we were two years into our quest for '56s.

We pull into the rancher's driveway and there are no indications as to where to find these "Baseball Cards." We decide to walk around to the back yard, at which point two very large black dogs begin their pursuit of the unwanted trespassers. Our walk becomes a run. Dogs barking and closing in, I spy an open garage door and I duck inside. My Dad also spots the same garage door, but he does not duck. The sound of his head cracking against the bottom of the not-fully-open garage door must have shocked the dogs because they both slowly retreat. My Dad, seeing stars, exclaims, "Ratzafratza nogood sonovammrrrrr."

Inside the garage now, the owner of the modest display of baseball cards apologizes for the behavior of Zeus and Apollo and he explains his garage door doesn't go all the way up. He invites us to check out his wares, and we're immediately not impressed. Nothing exciting here, just a few binders of late '80s Topps, Fleer and Donruss cards.

Sensing we're about to depart, the shopkeeper invites us to check out the new-fangled "Upper Deck" cards, just released. My first impression is that they're too thin and my second impression is that the foil wrapper makes them smell weird. The hologram on the back is cool, but there's no way I'm paying $3 for a pack of baseball cards. I'm still getting used to having Score around, and now I'm going to have to collect a fifth set? No thank you, I'll pass. We thank the man for his time, and we walk back out front to our car, dejected.

We never went back, but for years we'd pass through that stretch of Route 9 and one of us would always say, "Remember that time we stopped at that guy's house and those dogs chased us . . . "

Phillies at Cubs: August 11th through August 13th

Tuesday & Wednesday 8:05, Thursday 2:20

Records: Phillies 61-48, 1st Place in NL East (3½ games ahead of the Marlins); Cubs 58-52, 2nd Place in NL Central (3 games behind the Cardinals)
Played with the Cubs and the Phillies: Per Baseball, 286 players have played for both the Cubs and the Phillies, including the following players who played with both teams between 1980 and 1985 - Porfi Altamirano, Jay Baller, Larry Bowa, Warren Brusstar, Bill Campbell, Ivan DeJesus, Bob Dernier, Willie Hernandez, Mike Krukow, Dan Larson, Jay Loviglio, Gary Matthews, Bob Molinaro, Keith Moreland, Dickie Noles, Mike Proly, Dick Ruthven and Ryne Sandberg. For some reason, I thought there was more than this.
Jamie to the Pen: To make room for Pedro Martinez in the starting rotation, Jamie Moyer is heading to the bullpen. The last time Jamie pitched out of the bullpen was June 24, 2001 when he entered a game in the 15th inning of an extra-innings Mariners' loss. Before that, Jamie pitched 13 games in relief while with the 1996 Boston Red Sox.
Phillies Probables: J. A. Happ, Pedro Martinez, Cliff Lee
Cubs Probables: Rich Harden, Jeff Samardzija, Ryan Dempster

Monday, August 10, 2009

1989 Upper Deck #511 Steve Bedrosian

Just my $0.02 on the whole exclusive MLB license goes to Topps story . . .

I will collect baseball cards whether they're put out by Topps, Upper Deck, Fleer, Donruss, Pixar, Kellogg's, my neighbor, whoever - as long as they're worth collecting and collecting them provides me with some sort of enjoyment. I'm a glass half full kind of guy, and I really don't think Topps' lack of competition will cause them to release a half-baked 2010 set. On the contrary, I would hope Topps realizes the opportunity it has in front of it, and the company releases some amazing 2010 sets. (After all, that Michael Eisner guy, who is now running Topps, seems to have had a little bit of success in his previous life.)

Upper Deck was innovative and fresh in the late '80s/early '90s, but the product they've released over the past few years pales in comparison to what Topps has released, in my humble opinion. We decided to collect the 2009 Upper Deck base set, and I'm still upset that Series 2 is basically a repeat of Series 1. Short prints and the occasional gimmick cards aside, Topps seems to have struck gold with their Heritage and Allen & Ginter sets. Their 2009 base set is a huge upgrade over the poorly-received 2008 base set, and it makes me wish for a time machine to stop past-Jim from buying those boxes of 2009 Upper Deck in the spring.

I'll conclude by borrowing a quote from Dan's much more eloquent post on the topic over in The Other World, "As collectors, we adjust and buy what we like and that will not change."

UPDATE - I just re-read this post. To clarify, it would depend on which of my neighbors put out a baseball card set as to whether or not I'd collect it. Frankly, some of my neighbors are a little sketchy.

1988 Score #32 Juan Samuel

Right before leaving for the shore last Saturday, a padded envelope of baseball cards arrived from Night Owl. (I had previously sent Night Owl a package containing a few Dodgers cards and some cards needed for his ongoing set pursuits). I opened the package and immediately began admiring the Jimmy Rollins Allen & Ginter relic card, which was by far the prize of the package. Or was it?

Along with the Rollins card, Night Owl had included a nice stack of new and old Phillies cards. Doug, my 2½ year-old son, took one look at the purple-bordered Juan Samuel card and announced, "Oohh. That's my baseball card." He made similar announcements for the following cards: 1988 Score #566 Ron Roenicke, 1989 Donruss #396 Don Carman, 1990 Donruss #430 Ken Howell, 2009 Topps #44 Geoff Jenkins and 2009 Topps Toppstown #TTT9 Ryan Howard. For whatever reason, he declined to add the 1997 Metal Universe Ricky Otero card to his collection. Kid's got good sense.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

2009 Topps Allen & Ginter Relics #AGR-JR Jimmy Rollins

Friday night - Marlins 3, Phillies 2
Saturday night - Marlins 6, Phillies 4
Sunday afternoon - Marlins 12, Phillies 3

Yikes. What a messy weekend for the Phightin' Phils. If not for the happiness caused by my brand new shed and a clean garage, I'd be tempted to be very cranky right about now. Let's review the damage, look forward to the off day tomorrow and never speak of this series again.

The good:
- On Friday night, Harry Kalas was inducted posthumously into the Phillies Wall of Fame. Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt delivered a moving tribute to Harry the K and the fans broke into a spontaneous "Harry!, Harry!" chant.
- The Phillies hosted their annual alumni celebrations with several dozen former Phillies attending events throughout the weekend. Robin Roberts, Jim Bunning, Steve Carlton, Dave Hollins, John Kruk, Darren Daulton and Mickey Morandini were among those in attendance. (Phungo was in attendance last night and he's posted some pictures from the on-field ceremonies).
- This Jimmy Rollins Allen & Ginter relic card from Night Owl officially joined my collection. (Thank you Night Owl!)

The bad:
- The sweep allowed the Marlins to creep within four games of the NL East lead. The Phillies have lost 8 of their last 11 and manager Charlie Manuel held a twenty-minute closed door meeting following this afternoon's debacle.
- Jamie Moyer didn't pitch that poorly, but I have this impending sense of dread that he's heading to the bullpen to make way for Pedro Martinez. I've got a funny feeling about this.
- Shane Victorino was ejected Sunday while in centerfield for throwing his hands in the air following a questionable call from the home plate umpire. Shane proceeded to lose it.
- Brad Lidge looked awful. Jayson Werth looked bored. Ryan Howard looked completely confused. Cole Hamels looked mediocre.

The Utley:
- Chase Utley went 1-for-10 and he looked incredibly grumpy all weekend.