Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2007 Fleer #104 Jamie Moyer

In a bid to pitch in the Majors again, Jamie Moyer will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow to repair his damaged left arm.  It's believed he will become the oldest baseball player to undergo the surgery, and the 12 to 18 month recovery period could mean he's ready for Spring Training 2012, when he'll be 49 years young.

I sincerely envy Moyer.  He's found his calling in life and he doesn't want to let it go, no matter how many trials and tribulations come his way.  Personally, I sometimes feel as if I'd like to go back in time and call "do-over" when it came time for choosing my profession.  Recent decisions made by the powers that be and the generally craptastic attitude around my place of employ have me wondering if the grass truly is greener anywhere else.  And if I needed to have a ligament replaced in my elbow just to keep on doing what I do on a daily basis, I would definitely just take my pencil and my calculator and go home.

Best of luck to Jamie, and perhaps by the time he's back on a big league mound, I'll have also found a new office door on which to hang my nameplate.

Wild Thing:  MLB Home Plate on XM 175 broadcasts the MLB Network's nightly programming.  On my drive home tonight, I caught Moyer's visit to the studio during which he discussed his upcoming surgery.  During the segment, Mitch Williams, now working for the MLB Network, pointed out that he and Moyer were traded for each other 22 years ago this coming Sunday.  On December 5, 1988, the Cubs sent Moyer, Drew Hall and Rafael Palmeiro to the Texas Rangers for Williams, Luis Benitez, Pablo Delgado, Paul Kilgus, Curt Wilkerson and Steve Wilson.  And now you know.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Scrapbook Monday: December 11, 1986

1987 Topps #PR4
It's been a slow off-season so far for the Phillies and for this blog.  This is the time of year when days go by with nary a mention of the Phillies in the sports section of the newspaper.  Much like the Phillies' players themselves right now, I'm taking it easy.  I look to start some off-season work-outs in mid-December, just to loosen up the arm and clear the cobwebs, and I'm hoping to have secured my new iMac by then as I try to figure out just how I'm going to create the 2011 Chachi cards.

My Phillies scrapbooks from the mid-'80s and early-'90s suffered the same fate.  I'd have a few pages detailing the Postseason and then there would be a large gap in time between the naming of the league's MVPs and the date when pitchers and catchers reported to Clearwater.  (The one exception being the 1991 off-season, when I painfully chronicled the courting of and ultimate rejection by free agent Bobby Bonilla.)

The 1986 off-season garnered just one lonely page in my scrapbook.  I cut out a small blurb to document a few roster comings and goings, including the end of the Rocky Childress era, and I clipped the transaction line on December 11, 1986, to show the acquisition of Mike Easler from the Yankees.  No fanfare, no real excitement on the page, and even the Hit Man's photo caption seems bored:  "To play left field".

Easler appeared in just 33 games for the 1987 Phillies, before they shipped him back to the Yankees in mid-June.  His .282 average with the Phils was just fine, but I guess the team was disappointed with his power output - 1 home run and 10 RBIs.  The young Chris James moved over to left and the Hit Man era, much like the Rocky Childress era before it, was over.

Easler appeared as a Phillie on just three baseball card sets - Donruss Opening Day, O-Pee-Chee (with the "Now with the Phillies" tag) and the Tastykake Phillies set.  I borrowed the photo from the Tastykake set for this Topps card that probably would have appeared in the 1987 Topps Traded set if Easler hadn't been shipped back to the Yankees.

And the slow off-season continues.

24 Years Later:  Little did I know as I clipped out the pictures of Easler and Charles Hudson back on 12th Street in 1986 that my first son, Doug, would be born exactly 24 years after this trade was made.  That event has worked out much, much better than the Easler trade.  No contest.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

1997 Upper Deck #454 Rex Hudler

I'm featuring a happy baseball card to celebrate a happy day.

With so much for which to be thankful, how could it not be a happy day?

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and may your belly be full of turkey.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Scrapbook Sunday (Late Edition): December 4, 1991

1992 Fleer Update #U-109
The Phillies' off-season news so far has centered around whether or not the team would be willing to re-sign right fielder Jayson Werth.  There have been a few minor league signings, reliever Jose Contreras was re-signed and Juan Samuel was named the team's new third base coach.  Other than that, it's been fairly quiet so far.  Barring some out of nowhere blockbuster trade, I expect the Phillies to continue to tinker with their roster, but I don't expect anything major.

Back in November 1991, the Phillies had two major objectives - re-sign closer Mitch Williams and sign All-Star outfielder Bobby Bonilla.  I kept close watch on the Bonilla sweepstakes in November 1991, as I counted 13 pages in my scrapbook detailing the negotiations with Bonilla, his trip to Philadelphia, his visit to Lenny Dykstra's home, and his eventual signing with the New York Mets for $29 million over five years.  I, along with most everyone else, thought Bonilla would be the answer to all the Phillies' problems and that his signing would translate into an instant play-off berth for the team in 1992.  I was extremely disappointed when the Phils failed to land the slugger.

As we now know, the signing was a bust and Bonilla never recaptured the success he had with the Pirates' teams of the late '80s and early '90s.  This article recounts how Bonilla actually wore earplugs to the plate in late May 1992, in order to drown out the ubiquitous boo's that greeted him inside Shea Stadium.  Bonilla was traded to the Orioles part-way through the 1995 season, and he bounced around with the Marlins, Dodgers, back to the Mets, Braves and Cardinals before calling it a career following the 2001 season.

In retrospect, not signing Bonilla was one of the best moves the Phillies made in the early '90s.  With Bonilla officially a Met, the Phillies turned their attention to other free agents, eventually signing Mariano Duncan and re-signing Wild Thing.  They freed up enough money to cobble together several role players without homes following the '92 season, and an unexpected trip to the play-offs resulted in 1993.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I'm a Mac

2005 Chachi #50
Or at least I’m about to become one. After years of grappling with my PC and dealing with slow start-ups and shut-downs and missing drivers and mysterious updates pushed to my machine via the Windows' web site, I’m taking the plunge and buying an iMac. My home computer needs are very basic: Surf the internets, read and compose e-mail, stay connected with friends and family through Facebook, pay my bills, and perform some very basic graphic design. With my soon to be new computer, I’m also hoping to do something clever and creative with the thousands of family pictures and hours of family home movies I've compiled over the last 3-4 years. I understand the iMac is good for that sort of thing.

2007 Chachi #59
So here's my dilemma. I have mastered the archaic, yet sufficient MicroSoft Picture It! software, which has allowed me to recreate the designs of various Topps' baseball cards from yesteryear. Obviously, this isn't a software package that will be supported on my new Apple computer and in fact, it's probably only a matter of time before this particular piece of software is no longer supported by any new Windows operating system. The software is from way, way back in 2000. When I switch over to the iMac, all the templates I've created, and all my very basic graphic design know-how (if you want to even call it that) goes completely out the window. Pun intended.

What's a guy to do? There are a number of baseball card bloggers out there who create wonderful looking baseball cards, either from scratch or by basing their creations on past designs. What do you guys use? What would you recommend for me? I need something very basic and something that won’t take me too long to figure out its basic functions. I’m married with two small boys and a full time job. I have minimal time during the week to sit and figure out a new software package so that I can blog about my self-created baseball cards.  I have little to no interest in vectors and rendering and such, and I just want to be able to scan in a baseball card and quickly reproduce its design for my own means.

Any help, advice and/or words of wisdom are appreciated.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

1981 TCMA Oklahoma City '89ers #17 Ryne Sandberg

The only reason I have this Ryne Sandberg baseball card in my collection is because I was (and am) a huge Bob Dernier fan.  The summer of '82 saw the arrival of Bobby D. in Philly.  He had enjoyed a few cups of coffee with the Phils during the '80 and '81 seasons, but new manager Pat Corrales decided to give the fleet switch hitter more playing time in 1982.  Dernier would often spell Garry Maddox in center or George Vukovich in right, and he was tabbed as one of the club's hottest prospects.  In a story I have yet to completely tell, I met Bob Dernier during the summer of 1982 and played catch with the future Gold Glove winner.
1981 TCMA Oklahoma
City '89ers #5

At the time, as far as I knew, Dernier had two baseball cards - a Topps Future Stars card that Dernier shared with Ozzie Virgil and Mark Davis, and a minor league baseball card featuring Dernier as a member of the AAA Oklahoma City '89ers.  The Card Doctor, the first baseball card store in my home town, was looking to capitalize on the success of the Phillies' hot rookie, and he had a few of the '89ers team sets for sale.  Dernier was featured at the top of each small stack of cards.  I had to have that Dernier card, and so I purchased an '89ers team set.  The Dernier card went into my Phillies binder and the other 25 cards in the team set went into a cheese box with a bunch of doubles.

I didn't realize until the rookie card hysteria of the mid-80's that I held this coveted Sandberg card in my collection.  I believe the card was featured in an article in the old Baseball Cards magazine, at which point I rediscovered the card and treated it as if it could disintegrate at any given moment.  I think at one point I carefully inserted the card into a screw-down holder, only to come to my senses and eventually move the card into a binder with the rest of my 1981 Phillies cards.  
1981 TCMA Oklahoma
City '89ers #26

Sandberg's professional baseball career came full circle this week when he was named the new manager of the Phillies' AAA team in Lehigh Valley.  I can't wait to pick up a 2011 IronPigs team set, as 30 years later, I'll add a second Ryne Sandberg minor league Phillies card to my collection.

Fielder:  I always felt bad for this guy.  He's the last card in the set, he was forced to pose gloveless, and TCMA had no idea what position the guy played.  According to Baseball Reference, Jeff Ulrich played five seasons in the Phillies' and Expos' minor league systems, and he was in fact a catcher.  He enjoyed his best year in 1981, when he hit .251 in 61 games with the Class A Peninsula Pilots and the AAA '89ers.  And now you know.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Scrapbook Sunday: June 2, 1986

1986 Topps #PR13
Ron Roenicke was recently named the new manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, replacing the outgoing Ken Macha.  Roenicke enjoyed a 8-year Major League career, mostly with the Dodgers, but he also played two seasons with the Phillies in 1986 and 1987.  Roenicke's first home run as a Phillie came back on June 2, 1986, when he hit a solo home run off the Dodgers' Jerry Reuss in the second inning in a game at the Vet.  This was probably Roenicke's most memorable game with the Phillies, as he went 4 for 5 in the game, scoring three times.

I featured the boxscore from that game here, along with Roenicke's 1986 Topps card that never was.  Roenicke was featured as a Phillie in Fleer's Update set in 1986, and I've always been a little disappointed he didn't make it into Topps' 1986 Traded series.  I created this card using the picture from the 1987 Tastykake Phillies team set.

In 165 games with the Phillies, Roenicke hit just .229 with six home runes and 46 RBIs.  He started 57 games in center field for the Phils in 1986, platooning at that position with Milt Thompson, following the May retirement of long-time center fielder Garry Maddox.  His playing time decreased significantly in 1987 and the Phillies released him in October.

Surprisingly, Roenicke is now the only ex-Phillies player managing in the Major Leagues as of this writing.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

1987 Donruss #165 Juan Samuel

On June 18, 1989, the Phillies traded Juan Samuel to the Mets for Lenny Dykstra, Roger McDowell and a player to be named later.  A few days ago, over 21 years later, Sammy returned to his original organization as the Phillies' new third base coach.  (Sam Perlozzo, the Phillies' third base coach for the past two years, will move over to first to accommodate Samuel.)  Sammy was always popular here in Philly, and it was a sad day back in 1989 when then GM Lee Thomas executed back-to-back trades to unload fan favorites Samuel and Steve Bedrosian.  The Phillies have a habit of bringing back their old alumni, and if the past is any indication, I predict an influx of ex-Phillies from the '80s and '90s making their way back into the fold in the coming years.  Speaking of which . . .

Rumored to be In:  It looks as if another former Phillie, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, could be returning to the organization as well.  Sandberg recently parted ways with the Cubs when they decided to go with Mike Quade as their new manager instead of him.  Sandberg has been mentioned as the possible new manager for the Phillies' AAA team in Lehigh Valley.  Mickey Morandini's name has also come up recently as it's possible the former second baseman could join the Phils in some sort of player development capacity.

Definitely In:  The Phils signed a trio of players to minor league deals this week - right-handed reliever Eddie Bonine, catcher Erik Kratz and infielder Pete Orr.  They also resigned catcher Dane Sardinha, who appeared in 13 games with the Phillies in 2010.

2010 Topps Update #US-95
Probably Out:  At the conclusion of this year's World Series (remember that?), five Phillies automatically became free agents - relievers J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin and Jose Contreras, first baseman Mike Sweeney and right fielder Jayson Werth.  They joined third baseman/pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs and starting pitcher Jamie Moyer on the lengthy list of free agents hoping to find homes for 2011. 

Three former Phillies also became minor league free agents - catcher Paul Hoover, first baseman Andy Tracy and infielder Cody Ransom.  Of these ten players, it seems as if Durbin and Contreras have the best shot at re-joining the team.  Werth seems headed for big money (probably with the Red Sox), although there are indications this weekend that the Phillies are still trying to work out something with him.  Moyer recently left a game in the Dominican Winter League with elbow issues, so sadly 2011 isn't looking that promising for the soon-to-be 48 year-old.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

2010 Chachi #50 Mike Sweeney

News broke that the Phillies had acquired Mike Sweeney from the Mariners as we were enjoying dinner at Ike's Famous Crab Cakes on the Ocean City boardwalk.  It was the first week of August, and the Phillies were in need of a temporary first baseman given Ryan Howard's bum ankle.  Sweeney came through a few days after his acquisition, adding a few key hits in a big inning against the Mets.

In his 26 games with the Phils, Sweeney hit .231 with two home runs and eight RBIs.  Although he was on the team's Postseason roster, he had just one at-bat during the play-offs, which resulted in a pinch-hit single against the Reds in NLDS Game 2.  Prior to his 2010 Postseason appearance, Sweeney had gone 16 seasons and 1,454 games without appearing in the play-offs, landing him fourth on the active list of such players.

I'll remember Sweeney mostly for this:  In times of celebration, Sweeney forgoes the high fives and goes right for a full-on hug.  His time in Philly was short (he's a free agent now), but he made the most of his time with the team.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

2010 Chachi #44 Ryan Howard/Roy Halladay AS

The next All-Star card in the 2010 Chachi set features the two Phillies' players to actually see action in the Mid-Summer Classic.

Manager Charlie Manuel named Ryan Howard his starting designated hitter and batted his slugger fourth in the National League line-up.  (American League ballpark meant the teams used the American League rules.)  This was Howard's third All-Star appearance, as he had previously appeared in the 2006 and 2009 games.  In the second inning, Howard struck out swinging against American League starting pitcher David Price.  In the fourth, he grounded to second against former teammate Cliff Lee.  The Reds' Joey Votto pinch-hit for Howard in the seventh, and his night was done.

This was Roy Halladay's first All-Star appearance with the National League squad, and it was his seventh appearance overall.  Halladay relieved Hong-Chih Kuo to start the bottom of the sixth inning.  Derek Jeter led off with a single and was replaced by pinch-runner Elvis Andrus.  A double play followed as Halladay struck out Paul Konerko and Brian McCann (the game's eventual MVP) threw out Andrus attempting to steal second.  Halladay allowed another single to Josh Hamilton, and Manuel summoned Matt Capps from the bullpen to record the final out of the sixth.

It wasn't a banner night for the Phillies' All-Stars, but at least they were on the winning side for the first time since 1996.

Scrapbook Sunday: October 2, 1984

1984 Topps Traded #31T
I introduced the Scrapbook Sunday feature to the blog on the first Sunday of the new year, and I faithfully posted pages from my old Phillies scrapbooks every week for 39 consecutive weeks.  And then October came and Scrapbook Sunday went out the window.  A combination of real life challenges, work obligations and Phillies Postseason Phever conspired to push Scrapbook Sunday to the side as I missed five Sunday's worth of scrapbook posts.  I think at this point, I'll try to finish out the year with a weekly Sunday post, but then I may try something new in 2011.  I'm fond of the posts on some of the finer baseball card blogs featuring a "vintage" day, so maybe I'll do that next year.  Or, each week I could feature the Phillies baseball cards from each of Topps' 60 years of baseball card sets, starting with the Phillies cards from the 1951 Red and Blue Backs.  Or I could do a Chachi Sunday, where I feature a previously unposted Chachi card from yesteryear.  These are the types of crucial, year-end planning decisions we're dealing with here in The Phillies Room.

Back to the task at hand:  During the years I maintained Phillies' scrapbooks, the Phillies never even came close to sniffing the Postseason.  So you may be asking yourself, "What happened in your scrapbooks after the last out had been recorded, ending yet another disappointing season for the Phillies?"  I'm glad you asked.  I typically followed the Postseason in my scrapbooks, as, like the All-Star Game, I always thought the play-offs were cool and exciting.  (Well, except for these five times.)

This page is from my 1984 NLCS preview in which I painstakingly analyze all kinds of in-depth information, including the N.L. Matchups section clipped from the Atlantic City Press, to present "My Opinion of [the] best players."  Otherwise known as each of the team's starting line-ups, the team's best pitcher and the managers.  To ensure there's no confusion to the reader, I've included a legend at the bottom to indicate that the red star by Bob Dernier's name clearly marks Dernier as "my favorite."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

1978 Topps #401 Sparky Anderson MG

Sparky Anderson, the first manager to win World Championships in both leagues, passed away today at the age of 76.  Sparky won World Series titles with the Reds in 1975 and 1976, and with the Tigers in 1984.  His 2,194 career wins currently places him at sixth on the all-time list of wins by a manager, and his efforts were rewarded with induction into Cooperstown in 2000.

George "Sparky" Anderson began his professional playing career with six seasons in the Dodgers' minor league system from 1953 through 1958.  Following a tumultuous 1958 season, the Phillies swapped their aging second baseman Solly Hemus to the Cardinals for third baseman Gene Freese.  In need of a second baseman for the 1959 campaign, the Phillies traded outfielder Rip Repulski and two prospects to the Dodgers for Anderson.  Now looking at Sparky's minor league stats with the Dodgers, I'm not exactly sure what convinced the Phillies front office to trade away three players to acquire his services.  Anderson had been blocked at the Dodgers' Major League level by Junior Gilliam and Charlie Neal, so it seems as the Phils would have been able to pry him away from the Dodgers for less than three players.  In any event, Repulski went on to win a World Series with the Dodgers in 1959, and George Anderson was handed the Phillies' second baseman's job for the season.

It didn't go so well.  In his only year in the Majors as a player, Anderson hit just .218 with no home runs and 34 RBIs.  His defense at second was decent, as he finished second in the league with a .984 fielding percentage, but it wasn't enough to keep him around for a second season.  He was let go by the Phils after the season ended.  He played a few more years in the minor league systems of the Indians, Braves and Senators before ending his playing career and beginning his managerial career.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Sparky's path crossed with the Phillies again in the 1976 NLCS, as his Big Red Machine swept the Phils right on out of the play-offs.

Sparky's brief career with the Phillies produced three baseball cards.  He was featured in the 1959 and 1960 Topps sets, as well as the 1960 Leaf set - all of which I have yet to add to my collection.  The best I could do for this post was to feature Sparky's 1978 Topps card, which includes a photo from his brief tenure with the Phillies.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2010 Chachi #43 Charlie Manuel/Chase Utley AS

As I ease into the world of off-season posting, the first order of business is to post the remaining 2010 Chachi cards.  I created two All-Star cards this year, using the All-Star card design from the 1974 Topps set.  In the original set, Topps featured each League's respective All-Stars at a certain position on the same card.  For my set, I decided to go with National League manager Charlie Manuel and second baseman Chase Utley on the first card, with Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard on the second card.

Manuel managed his second consecutive All-Star Game back on July 13th, becoming the first NL manager to actually win an All-Star contest since Bobby Cox won at the Vet back in 1996.  The 3-1 victory secured home field advantage in the World Series for the . . . oh never mind.  Manuel won't be back at the helm for the NL in 2011, as the Giants' Bruce Bochy will get a turn instead.

For the fifth consecutive year, Utley was voted in as the NL's starting second baseman, but his sprained thumb prevented him from joining the festivities in Anaheim.  The Braves' Martin Prado started at second in Utley's stead.

For the backs of these All-Star cards, I opted to pay homage to the originals by featuring a small puzzle of the Phillies actually in attendance for the game.  When placed together, the backs of the original nine 1974 Topps All-Star cards featured 1973 All-Star Game MVP Bobby Bonds.  Granted, the backs of my All-Star cards don't form much of a puzzle, since there are only two cards, but I thought it was cool nevertheless.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

2001: Already 10 Years Ago?

2001 Upper Deck Black Diamond #80
2001 Ultra Tomorrow's Legends #14
2001 Fleer Premium #105
With the World Series of Blah over, and the official start of the off-season upon us, it's time to shake off the cobwebs and overcome the bit of blog writer's block I've been suffering through recently.  (Is it writer's block if you just don't have anything interesting to write about?  Isn't that writer's apathy?  I guess I could have done a few posts during the World Series featuring past Phillies' baseball cards of Cliff Lee, Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand or Mike Maddux, the Rangers' pitching coach, but I couldn't get myself motivated enough to scan in any of their cards.  But I digress.)

2001 Ultra #68
I recently received in the mail a nice surprise package of various Phillies baseball cards, mostly from the year 2001.  It was a pleasant pick-me-up, and I sincerely appreciated the gesture.  As he does every year at this time, Ron from Section 36 cleans out his baseball cards from ten years ago in order to make room for the upcoming new releases.  (Last December, I received a nice stack of Phillies baseball cards from 2000.)  Does it seem strange to anyone else that the year 2001 was already ten years ago?

The 2001 Phillies finished second in the NL East during Larry Bowa's triumphant return to the city where he enjoyed the finest years of his playing career.  By all accounts, it was a successful campaign as the Phils spent the entire season in either first or second place.  After almost a decade of suffering through mediocre, sub-.500 teams, it seemed as if we were finally turning the corner.  Of course, it was a long corner to turn, and the team wouldn't break through into the Postseason until 2007. 

2001 Topps #523 (No Gold)
Burrell, Bobby Abreu, and Scott Rolen led the offense, while the pitching staff was anchored (?) by Robert Person, Randy Wolf and Omar Daal.  Section 36's package contained a fair share of Burrell, Mike Lieberthal and Doug Glanville cards.

One of the cooler cards in the package was this 2001 Topps Marlon Anderson card.  This card was produced on a day when the conveyor belts at the Topps factory must have gone screwy, as the gold foil with Anderson's name and the "Topps 50 Years" logo is stamped not on the front, but on the back of the card.

2001 Upper Deck Vintage #302
Looking through this stack of 2001 baseball cards, I was struck by the variety and uniqueness of each of the sets.  I was also struck by this surprising thought - I miss Fleer and Upper Deck.  Topps has just gotten too predictable with its releases and it was always nice to have a bunch of different flavors to choose from, like Fleer Ultra or Upper Deck Black Diamond.

Finally, Ron included a quick note in the package, written on the back of what used to be a full score card.  The score card was from a Phillies-Red Sox game in which Nomar Garciaparra hit his 100th career home run, as noted by Ron in the "Game Notes" section.  With the help of Baseball Reference, I determined the partial scorecard was from June 3, 2000, when Nomar connected for his 100th career home run off Wolf in the 6th inning.  The Phillies would eventually win the game, 9-3, led by Lieberthal's two home runs and five RBIs.