Sunday, July 31, 2011

2011 Topps #656 Raul Ibanez

Phillies 6, Pirates 5 (10 Innings)
Game 107 - Sunday Afternoon, July 31st in Philadelphia

One Sentence Summary:  Raul Ibanez had a huge day, hitting two home runs and a game-winning double as the Phillies won in ten innings, 6-5.

What It Means:  The Phils completed the sweep of the Pirates and improved to 29 games over .500 with a record of 68-39.  With the Braves losing their game against the Marlins, the Phils now have a six game lead in the East, and they're seven games up in the loss column.

What Went Right:  Ibanez started the scoring with a solo home run in the second and he added a dramatic two-run home run in the eighth to tie the game, 5-5.  In the bottom of the 10th, Hunter Pence reached on a double and Ibanez brought him home with a double to right.

Jimmy Rollins added a two-run single in the fifth.

Starter Vance Worley cruised until running into trouble in the fifth and sixth innings.  He was finished after six after allowing four runs on seven hits and striking out seven.  Antonio Bastardo (4-0) was the recipient of the win after pitching a scoreless tenth.

Featured Card:  Rauuuuul!  The talk over the past few days has centered around the addition of Pence as the team's new right fielder and Domonic Brown's move to left to take over that position next year.  It's a foregone conclusion that Ibanez won't be back in 2012 as he's a free agent at the end of this year.  As Raul essentially begins his farewell tour over the next few months, I hope to get a few more chances to shout "Rauuuul!" either at my TV or at the ballpark whenever Ibanez has a big hit.

1976 Topps Phillies

1976 Topps #480, #610, #38 and #455
My Dad and I purchased almost half this set from the Ocean City Baseball Card Show in June 1988.  I looked forward to this baseball card show all year, and I'd turn into a neighborhood lawn-mowing machine in order to have enough money to last me one circuit around the Music Pier on the boardwalk where the show was held.  In 1988, we went to the show with one goal in mind - get as many 1976 Topps cards as possible.  There was one dealer in particular, Diamond Dust, who had the nicest, the most organized and the most reasonably priced cards at the show.  We probably spent over an hour going through Diamond Dust's binder of commons that afternoon, crossing off cards we needed and calculating in our heads just how much damage we were doing to our piggy banks.  Fortunately, Dad always saved just enough to buy a few slices of Mack and Manco's following the show.

Santa delivered the last card I needed for the set (#526 - a stinking checklist) on Christmas morning 1988.

1976 Topps #455 (Back)
The Set
Number of cards in the set:  For the fourth year in a row, the set consisted of 660 cards.  Similar to 1974, Topps issued a 44-card Traded series to complement the base set.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  Another classic set.  Topps went with visual position representation for the first time since 1973, and I like what they did here much more than the silhouettes used in 1973.  I also don't mind that Topps deemed pink and yellow to be the best colors to represent the Phillies.
Notable competition:  Sport Star Publishing Company, also known as SSPC, issued a 630-card set in 1976 that was quickly pulled from circulation because of legal threats from the Topps Company.  I did a post on this set back during the blog's infancy.

1976 Phillies
Record and finish:  The Phillies finished 101-61, in first place in the N.L. East, nine games ahead of the Pirates.  The 101 wins were the most in franchise history.  Unfortunately, they were swept in three games in the N.L.C.S. by The Big Red Machine.
Key players: Mike Schmidt led the offense again (.262, 38 home runs, 107 RBIs) and he led the National League in home runs for the third consecutive year.  The starting outfield all hit over .300 - Greg Luzinski (.304, 21 home runs, 95 RBIs), Garry Maddox (.330) and Jay Johnstone (.318).  Dick Allen also enjoyed a fine year, hitting .268 with 15 home runs and 49 RBIs.  The pitching staff was led by Steve Carlton (20-7, 3.13 ERA, 195 strikeouts), Jim Kaat (12-14, 3.48 ERA), Jim Lonborg (18-10, 3.08 ERA), Larry Christenson (13-8, 3.68 ERA) and Tom Underwood (10-5, 3.53 ERA).  The bullpen trio of Tug McGraw (11 saves), Ron Reed (14 saves) and Gene Garber (11 saves) also enjoyed terrific seasons.
Key events:  It all came together for the Phillies in 1976.  The city celebrated the nation's bicentennial and the All-Star Game was hosted at the Vet.  Schmidt hit four home runs on April 17th at Wrigley Field in a game the Phillies won, 18-16, in 10 innings.

1976 Topps #318, #295, #145 and #114
1976 Phillies in 1976 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set: There are 30 cards in a 1976 Topps Phillies team set, and 2 more cards from the Traded series.  That's 211 Topps Phillies cards from 1970 through 1976 and 679 Topps Phillies cards overall.
Who’s in:
  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 8 cards
#318 Bob Boone (c), #455 Dick Allen (1b), #295 Dave Cash (2b), #145 Larry Bowa (ss), #480 Mike Schmidt (3b), #610 Greg Luzinski (lf), #38 Garry Maddox (cf), #114 Jay Johnstone (rf)

1976 Topps #355, #80T, #271 and #634
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 5 cards
#355 Steve Carlton, #80T Jim Kaat, #271 Jim Lonborg, #634 Larry Christenson, #407 Tom Underwood
  • Base cards of other players who played with the Phillies in 1976 - 11 cards
#14 Gene Garber, #62 Johnny Oates, #91 Tom Hutton, #223 Ollie Brown, #247 Terry Harmon, #502 Tim McCarver, #543 Wayne Twitchell, #565 Tug McGraw, #586 Ron Schueler, #624 Tony Taylor, #58T Ron Reed
  • Phillies appearing on multi-player "Rookie" cards - 1 card
#595 Randy Lerch with Art DeFlippis (Rangers), Sid Monge (Angels) and Steve Barr (Rangers)
  • Base cards of players who didn't play with the Phillies in 1976 - 3 cards
#168 Tom Hilgendorf, #431 Dick Ruthven, #527 Mike Anderson

Anderson appears in the Traded set (#527T) badly airbrushed into a Cardinals hat.
1976 Topps #193
  • League Leader cards - 2 cards
#193 Home Run Leaders - Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski with Dave Kingman (Mets), #195 RBI Leaders - Greg Luzinski with Johnny Bench (Reds) and Tony Perez (Reds)
  • Father & Son cards - 1 card, #67 Bob Boone with Ray Boone
  • Team card with manager - 1 card, #384 with Danny Ozark
Who’s out:  Outfielder Jerry Martin appeared in 130 games with the Phils, but he's not in the 1976 Topps set.  (However, he's in the SSPC set.)
Phillies on other teams:  There are just three cards - #56 Bobby Tolan (Padres), #58 Ron Reed (Cardinals) and #80 Jim Kaat (White Sox)
What’s he doing here:  I've got nothing.  A case could be made for everybody appearing as a Phillie in this set.
Cards that never were candidates:  He was signed as a free agent, and not acquired via trade, but I'd still like to see a Traded card for Tolan.  Martin should also have a card.
Favorite Phillies card:  Sorry Schmidty, but I've got to give it to The Bull.

1976 Topps #407, #223, #58T and #565
Other Stuff
Recycled:  There's an exact reprint of Allen's card in the 2001 Topps Archives set and a butchered reprint of Schmidt's card as part of the 2010 Cards Your Mom Threw Out insert set.  I used the design lovingly for my 2007 Chachi set.
Blogs/Websites:  Project Baseball 1976 made its debut right around the same time as this blog, so I've followed it from the beginning.  It's been a great ride, and Matt is now covering cards from the 1976 Hostess and Kellogg's sets.
Did You Know?:  If catcher Johnny Oates had been able to blow just a slightly larger bubble than Kurt Bevacqua in the Bubble Gum Blowing Championships of 1975, I would have been able to display one of the coolest cards in Topps history with my 1976 Topps Phillies team set.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

2011 Topps Allen & Ginter #65 Ryan Howard

Phillies 7, Pirates 4
Game 106 - Saturday Night, July 30th in Philadelphia

One Sentence Summary:  With Hunter Pence batting fifth in the tonight's line-up, Ryan Howard had all the protection he needed, going 4 for 4 in the 7-4 Phillies victory.

What It Means:  The Phils improve to 67-39 and they'll go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon.

What Went Right:  The big story was Pence's debut, as the newly acquired right fielder was batting fifth in the line-up and wearing #3.  Pence should have had a hit in his first at-bat, but a bad call by the umpire sent him back to the bench.  He finished the night at 1 for 5, with an RBI single in the eighth.

Howard fell a triple short of the cycle.  He hit a solo home run in the second - his 21st of the year.  In the third, he hit an RBI-double to left for his 1,000th career hit.  He followed that with an RBI-single in the fourth and another double in the sixth.

Cliff Lee (10-7) got back on track with an 11-strikeout performance, allowing four runs on eight hits in 7 2/3 innings pitched.  Ryan Madson struck out the side in the ninth for his 18th save.

Featured Card:  The Big Piece displays his weapon of choice in this year's Allen & Ginter release.

Transactions:  When Pence was added to the active roster today, Domonic Brown was optioned back to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.  Brown is going to switch over to left field and he began the learning process tonight with the Iron Pigs.  (Current left fielder Raul Ibanez is a free agent at the end of the season.)  Placido Polanco was activated off the disabled list and reliever Drew Carpenter was optioned out.

The Newest Houston Astros

2011 Bowman Prospects #BP87, 2011 Topps Pro Debut #27 and 2011 Multi-Ad Reading Phillies #24

Former Phillie GM and current GM of the Astros Ed Wade may be on his way out in Houston, but that didn't stop him from continuing to stock-pile players from the Phillies system.  Three of the Phillies top prospects are now scattering to join their new minor league teams in the Astros organization as Hunter Pence figures out what number he'll wear with the Phils.  (Domonic Brown wears #9, the number Pence had worn with the Astros.)

Pitcher Jarred Cosart, selected in the 38th round by the Phillies in the 2008 draft, returns to his native Texas.  So far with High-A Clearwater this year, Cosart was 9-8 with a 3.92 ERA.  He had 43 walks to 79 strikeouts in 108 innings pitched.

First baseman Jonathan Singleton was selected in the 9th round of the 2009 draft.  Also with Clearwater, Singleton is hitting .282 with 9 home runs and 47 RBIs in 92 games so far this year.

Pitcher Josh Zeid was selected right after Singleton in the 10th round of the 2009 draft.  He's been with Double-A Reading this season, where he's 2-3 with a 5.65 ERA.

The Astros will chose a player to be named later from a list of Low-A players.

I'm not going to attempt to profile these guys in depth, especially since the fine folks over at Phuture Phillies have done such an excellent job of profiling all three players and completely analyzing the deal.

My gut reaction?  I like it.  We needed a right-handed bat and the Phils want to win now.  They have Pence under team control through at least 2013, and Domonic Brown can head back to Triple-A to get the additional seasoning and at-bats that everyone seems to think he still needs.  It is indeed an exciting time to be a Phillies fan, and I can't wait to see Pence make his Phillies debut.

Friday, July 29, 2011

2007 Chachi #45 Chase Utley AS

Phillies 10, Pirates 3
Game 105 - Friday Night, July 29th in Philadelphia

One Sentence Summary:  On the night the Phillies acquired slugger Hunter Pence, the offense suddenly came to life, cruising to victory over the Buccos, 10-3.

What It Means:  The Phils improve to 66-39.  The Braves won too, so the lead in the East stands at five games.

What Went Right:  The Phillies were in control from the outset, when they scored three runs in the first and five more in the second.  Chase Utley led the way with a single, triple, home run and four RBIs.  Shane Victorino also enjoyed a three-hit night and Jimmy Rollins hit his 12th home run of the year, a two-run shot in the seventh.

Roy Halladay (13-4) allowed just one hit in his seven innings of work while striking out five.

Featured Card:  I flipped through the virtual 2007 Chachi set a few nights ago while looking for Pat Burrell's card and came across this Utley card.  It's his All-Star card from 2007, featuring a photo taken as Utley was jogging to the join his teammates lined up along the first base line during pre-game introductions at that year's All-Star Game in San Francisco.  (Programming note - There could be a slight delay in my posting of the 1976 Topps Phillies post.  The Topps Phillies series usually runs on Sundays, but I'm taking off for a quick vacation.)

Transaction:  As mentioned at the top, there has been a deal.  In the seventh inning of tonight's game, word came through various websites and Tweets that the Phillies had nabbed their man and Hunter Pence was heading over from Houston.  Pence and cash were acquired for minor league prospects Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Jose Zeid and a player to be named later.

It's the third consecutive July 29th that General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has pulled off a major trade.  Two years ago, he landed Cliff Lee from the Indians and last year, he acquired Roy Oswalt from the Astros.

Pence will hopefully arrive in time for tomorrow night's game and a corresponding roster move will have to be made.  He'll become the team's regular right fielder and hit fifth in the line-up behind Ryan Howard in the hopes that Howard will finally get the protection he's lacked since Jayson Werth headed to D.C.  Welcome to Philadelphia, Hunter and Go Phils!

Pirates at Phillies: July 29th through July 31st

Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA
Friday and Saturday 7:05, Sunday 1:35

Pirates 54-49, Tied for 2nd Place in N.L. Central, 1 1/2 games behind the Brewers
Phillies 65-39, 1st Place in N.L. East, 5 games ahead of the Braves

So Far in 2011:  The Phillies always seem to have trouble against the Pirates and this year, with the Pirates actually playing well, is no different.  They lost two out of three in Pittsburgh in early June.

Meet the Buccos: Manager - Clint Hurdle
Starters - Michael McKenry (c), Lyle Overbay (1b), Neil Walker (2b), Pedro Alvarez (3b), Ronny Cedeno (ss), Xavier Paul (lf), Andrew McCutchen (cf), Garrett Jones (rf)
Rotation - Jeff Karstens (rhp), Paul Maholm (lhp), Kevin Correia (rhp), Charlie Morton (rhp), James McDonald (rhp)
Bench - Eric Fryer (c), Steve Pearce (1b), Brandon Wood (ss), Matt Diaz (rf)
Closer - Joel Hanrahan (rhp)
Bullpen - Joe Beimel (lhp), Jason Grilli (rhp), Chris Leroux (rhp), Daniel McCutchen (rhp), Chris Resop (rhp), Jose Veras (rhp), Tony Watson (lhp)
Disabled List - Kevin Hart (rhp), Evan Meek (rhp), Ross Ohlendorf (rhp), Ryan Doumit (c), Chris Snyder (c), Chase d'Arnaud (ss), Alex Presley (lf), Jose Tabata (lf)

At the Ballpark:  Tonight is the second fireworks night at the ballpark.

Pirates Probables: Charlie Morton (8-5, 3.69), James McDonald (7-4, 3.95), Jeff Karstens (8-5, 2.41)
Phillies Probables: Roy Halladay (12-4, 2.55), Cliff Lee (9-7, 3.05), Vance Worley (7-1, 2.02)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

1983 Topps Foldouts Mike Schmidt

Giants 4, Phillies 1
Game 104 - Thursday Night, July 28th in Philadelphia

One Sentence Summary:  The bats were quiet again as the Giants won, 4-1.

What It Means:  The Phillies have now lost consecutive games for the just the fifth time this season and this was their first home series loss since early May against the Braves.  Their record is now 65-39 and the team opens a three-game weekend series with the Pirates tomorrow.

What Went Wrong:  The Phillies were 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position tonight, while stranding ten runners on base.  Chase Utley left five men on base, coming up short with runners in scoring position in the  third and fifth innings.  Utley redeemed himself a little in the seventh with an RBI-double to score the only Phillies run of the game.  Tim Lincecum (9-8) shut down the Phillies for the first six innings and Brian Wilson shut them down in the ninth to record his 33rd save.  I despise them both.

Kyle Kendrick (5-5) pitched decent enough in his start, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits in his 6 1/3 innings.  But the Phillies were punchless at the plate and Kendrick's efforts were all for naught.  Where's a good middle-of-the-order right-handed bat when you need one?  Houston?

Featured Card:  This afternoon, I received my Phillies haul from the 4-Buck Oddball Break held recently over at Indians, Baseball Cards and Random Wax.  I jumped at the chance to participate once I saw that David was opening 20 packs of 1983 Topps Foldouts as part of the break, since I had never before seen or heard of this release.  (It should also be noted that all proceeds from the break went to a very worthy cause.)

The 1983 Topps Foldouts set was a test issue featuring five booklets with large portraits of players having similar attributes including - Pitching Leaders, Home Run Leaders, Batting Leaders, Relief Aces and Stolen Base Leaders.  David neatly cut each of the booklets down to single panels.  I received the following "cards," which I believe comprises the entire Phillies team set - Steve Carlton, Ed Farmer, Garry Maddox, Tug McGraw, Joe Morgan (Home Runs), Joe Morgan (Stolen Bases), Tony Perez, Ron Reed, Pete Rose and the Mike Schmidt card featured here.

I also received a nice assortment of 1986 Fleer Stickers, 1985 Topps Rub Downs and a trio of Von Hayes coins among other wonderful baseball card oddities.  Thanks David, and I'm looking forward to any future oddball breaks!

2007 Chachi #5 Pat Burrell

Giants 2, Phillies 1
Game 103 - Wednesday Night, July 27th in Philadelphia

One Sentence Summary:  The Phils were held to just four hits as they fell to Matt Cain and the Giants, 2-1.

What It Means:  The team will go for the series win Thursday night behind Kyle Kendrick.  Their record stands at 65-38 and the Braves are five games back.  (Credit umpire Jerry Meals with an assist in getting the Braves a little closer in the standings.)

What Went Wrong: The Phillies didn't hit and Domonic Brown botched a line drive in the seventh inning that allowed the Giants to score the go-ahead run.  Old friend Aaron Rowand drove in the first run for the Giants with a RBI-triple in the third.

Cole Hamels (12-6) was the hard-luck loser, pitching 7 2/3 strong innings while striking out six.  He allowed just the two runs on six hits.

Featured Card:  The Giants acquired Carlos Beltran from the Mets yesterday and the buzz following the game was that Pat Burrell could be released to make room on the roster for the new slugger.  That buzz led to additional buzz that Burrell could be on his way back to Philly for a two-month reunion tour.  Fortunately, neither Burrell's release or his return to Philly came to pass.  This is the slugger's 2007 Chachi card.  I've got the 1976 Topps set on my mind as I'm in the midst of preparing the upcoming 1976 Topps Phillies post.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

2011 Topps Allen & Ginter Hometown Heroes #HH5 Chase Utley

Phillies 7, Giants 2
Game 102 - Tuesday Night, July 26th in Philadelphia

One Sentence Summary:  Vance Worley (quickly) pitched his first career complete game and the Phillies bats came to life for a night, as they defeated the Giants, 7-2.

What It Means:  The Phils improve their record to 65-37.  They can take a seven game lead in the East if the Pirates can defeat the Braves in extra innings tonight.

What Went Right:  Just about everything went right for the Phillies tonight, in a game that took only a little over two hours to play.  Tim Lincecum was scrapped from his start just prior to game time and Barry Zito was bumped up a night to take his place.  The Phils quickly jumped on Zito with four runs in the first, including Raul Ibanez' three-run home run to right.  (Ibanez added a great leaping catch in the ninth against the wall in left.)  In the fourth, they added another run when John Mayberry, Jr. hit a solo home run and Ryan Howard added his 20th home run in the eighth.

No offense to Ibanez, Mayberry or Howard, but probably the most exciting home run of the night came in the sixth when Chase Utley circled the bases with an inside-the-park home run.

Worley (7-1, 2.02 ERA) allowed just two runs on three hits while striking out five and walking one.  I join a growing number of Phillies fans who sincerely hope Worley isn't traded to the Astros this week as part of a package to land Hunter Pence.

Featured Card:  I've run out of Worley's baseball cards to post, so instead I'll go with Utley's Hometown Heroes card from this year's Allen & Ginter's release.

Giants at Phillies: July 26th through July 28th

Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 7:05

Giants 59-43, 1st Place in N.L. West, 4 games ahead of the Diamondbacks
Phillies 64-37, 1st Place in N.L. East, 6 games ahead of the Braves

First Game:  The New York Gothams and the Philadelphia Quakers first met up back on June 29, 1883, in a contest won by the Gothams 7-6.  Of course, the last time these two teams met, horrible, horrible things happened.

Meet the Giants: Manager - Bruce Bochy is in his fifth full season as manager
Starters - Eli Whiteside (c), Aubrey Huff (1b), Jeff Keppinger (2b), Pablo Sandoval (3b), Brandon Crawford (ss), Cody Ross (lf), Andres Torres (cf), Nate Schierholtz (rf)
Rotation - Matt Cain (rhp), Ryan Vogelsong (rhp), Madison Bumgarner (lhp), Tim Lincecum (rhp), Barry Zito (lhp)
Bench - Chris Stewart (c), Brandon Belt (1b), Emmanuel Burriss (2b), Mike Fonenot (inf), Aaron Rowand (cf)
Closer - Brian Wilson (rhp)
Bullpen - Jeremy Affeldt (lhp), Santiago Castilla (rhp), Javier Lopez (lhp), Guillermo Mota (rhp), Ramon Ramirez (rhp), Sergio Romo (rhp)
Disabled List - Jonathan Sanchez (lhp), Buster Posey (c), Mark DeRosa (inf), Bill Hall (inf), Freddy Sanchez (2b), Miguel Tejada (inf), Pat Burrell (lf)

At the Ballpark:  Tonight is Italian Heritage Night at the ballpark and there will be fireworks following Thursday night's game.

Giants Probables: Tim Lincecum (8-8, 2.90), Barry Zito (3-2, 4.78), Matt Cain (8-6, 3.06)
Phillies Probables: Vance Worley (6-1, 2.02), Cole Hamels (12-5, 2.62), Kyle Kendrick (5-4, 3.45)

Monday, July 25, 2011

2011 Topps Heritage #111 Brad Lidge

Padres 5, Phillies 4
Game 101 - Monday Afternoon, July 25th in Philadelphia

One Sentence Summary:  A steal of home was the difference in this game, as Cliff Lee and the Phillies fell to the Padres, 5-4.

What It Means:  The loss broke the Phillies five-game win streak and dropped them to 64-37.  If the Pirates can beat the Braves tonight, the lead in the East will remain at six games.

What Went Wrong:  With Chris Denorfia on third base and a runner on first with two outs in the second, Lee (9-7) softly tossed a pick-off throw over to first.  Denorfia broke for home and scored what turned out to be a key run in the Padres victory.  Lee looked iffy from the start and he only made it through four innings after allowing all five runs on ten hits and a walk.

The Phils battled back, and the bullpen kept the team in the game, but the five-run deficit was too much to overcome.  It should be noted that Padres relievers Mike Adams and Heath Bell shut down the Phillies in the eighth and ninth, respectively.  Both pitchers have been rumored to be targeted by the Phillies as the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline approaches.

Featured Card:  Brad Lidge pitched a scoreless seventh inning in his first action of 2011.  Lidge was activated from the disabled list this week after missing the first half of the season with elbow problems.  He received a nice standing ovation from the crowd when he jogged back to the dugout following his season debut.  It's unlikely Lidge will be back next year, as the team holds an option on his 2012 contract.  Still, Lidge could be a huge asset in the bullpen if he's able to regain just a little bit of the form that made him perfect in 2008.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

2011 Topps Allen & Ginter Hometown Heroes #HH32 Roy Halladay

Phillies 5, Padres 3
Game 100 - Sunday Afternoon, July 24th in Philadelphia

One Sentence Summary: The Phils made their early runs stand up as they beat the heat and the Padres behind Roy Halladay, 5-3.

What It Means:  After 100 games, the Phils have a record of 64-36.  If the Reds can hang on to beat the Braves tonight, the team will have a six game lead in the East.

What Went Right:  Halladay (12-4) battled through the first five innings, before settling in and making quick work of the Padres in his final three innings.  The key out came in the fifth when he struck out Kyle Phillips looking to end a second and third threat.  Halladay finished with eight innings pitched, eight hits, three runs (two earned) and eight strikeouts to just one walk.  Antonio Bastardo assumed the closer's role this afternoon, recording his eighth save.

Raul Ibanez and Carlos Ruiz both drove in two runs a piece.  Ibanez would have had a few more RBIs, but center fielder Chris Denorfia leaped over the center field wall to rob him of a home run in the seventh.

Featured Card:  Each year, I've enjoyed following along with the Gint-A-Cuffs tournament held across the baseball card blogoverse.  I know readers may be suffering from Ginter fatigue, but I haven't had my fill yet.  I may just have to join in the fun next year.

Halladay has a few cards from this year's release, and this is probably my favorite of the cards in my collection so far.  Halladay's base card features a horizontal photo, and I'm with the other collectors who don't care for these horizontal cards.  The portrait shot on this Hometown Heroes insert set is much better, and I would have preferred if Topps had used this picture for Halladay's base card.

Congratulations:  Former Phillies General Manager Pat Gillick was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown this afternoon.  Congrats to Mr. Gillick on the well-deserved honor!

1975 Topps Phillies

1975 Topps #630, #70, #22 and #420
I crossed the threshold from "kid with a nice collection of baseball cards" to "baseball card collector" the day my Dad bought me the George Brett rookie card.  It was the early '80s, and we had stumbled into a baseball card show at a local mall.  My Dad paid a ridiculous price for the card - I think it was $12 - and it was at that moment I realized we were baseball card collectors.  To own a card of that magnitude was unheard of at the time in my circle of boyhood collecting friends, as the oldest cards we possessed at that point were from the 1979 Burger King set.  Once my Dad added that Brett card to my collection, there was no looking back.

1975 Topps #70 (Back)
The Set
Number of cards in the set:  For the third straight year, Topps went with the now-standard 660 cards.  The company also released a test issue of mini cards, replicating the same 660 cards as the standard set, just shrunken down a bit.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  If not for the 1956 Topps set, this would be my favorite set.  It's got a great design, great cards, and I collected the whole thing with my Dad - just like the '56 set.  Also, it's far out, man.
Notable competition:  Hostess started including cards on its snack cake boxes and Kellogg's once again included cards within its boxes of cereal.  The Hostess set is notable for containing Tug McGraw's first baseball card as a Phillie.

1975 Phillies
Record and finish:  The Phillies finished above .500 for the first time since 1967 with a record of 86-76.  They finished in second place in the division, 6 1/2 games behind the Pirates.
Key players:  Greg Luzinski led the offense with an even .300 average, 34 home runs and 120 RBIs.  Mike Schmidt wasn't far behind with his 38 home runs and 95 RBIs, although he hit only .249.  Middle infielders Larry Bowa and Dave Cash both hit .305 while Jay Johnstone and Ollie Brown split time in right and both hit over .300.  Steve Carlton (15-14, 3.56 ERA, 192 strikeouts) again anchored the pitching staff, followed by Tom Underwood (14-13) and Larry Christenson (11-6).
Key events:  General manager Paul Owens was busy wheeling and dealing.  He acquired reliever McGraw from the Mets in December 1974, sending Del Unser to New York.  He swapped center fielders with the Giants in May, shipping out Willie Montanez, and bringing in Garry Maddox.  And Dick Allen came back to his original team when he was obtained from the Braves with catcher Johnny Oates.

1975 Topps #351, #242, #596 and #574
1975 Phillies in 1975 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set: There are only 27 Phillies cards in a 1975 Topps team set.  We're up to 179 Topps Phillies cards from 1970-1975 and 647 Topps Phillies cards from 1951-1975.
Who’s in:

  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 6 cards
#351 Bob Boone (c), #22 Dave Cash (2b), #420 Larry Bowa (ss), #70 Mike Schmidt (3b), #630 Greg Luzinski (lf), #242 Jay Johnstone (rf)

The regular first baseman (Allen) and center fielder (Maddox) are in the set, but they're featured on other teams.

1975 Topps #185, #551, #94 and #326
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 4 cards
#185 Steve Carlton, #551 Larry Christenson, #94 Jim Lonborg, #326 Wayne Twitchell

Underwood is featured on a multi-player "Rookie" card.
  • Base cards of other players who played with the Phillies in 1975 - 9 cards
#118 Mike Anderson, #162 Willie Montanez, #267 Dick Ruthven, #292 Ron Schueler, #399 Terry Harmon, #444 Gene Garber, #477 Tom Hutton, #574 Tony Taylor, #596 Ollie Brown
  • Phillies appearing on multi-player "Rookie" cards - 1 card
#615 Tom Underwood with Pat Darcy (Reds), Dennis Leonard (Royals) and Hank Webb (Mets)
  • Base cards of players who didn't play with the Phillies in 1975 - 4 cards
#138 Del Unser, #374 Eddie Watt, #501 Bill Robinson, #527 Mac Scarce
  • League Leaders cards - 2 cards
#307 Home Run Leaders - Mike Schmidt with Dick Allen (White Sox), #312 Strikeout Leaders - Steve Carlton with Nolan Ryan (Angels)
1975 Topps #46
Who’s out:  Jerry Martin didn't receive a card, despite appearing in 57 games with the '75 Phillies.
Phillies on other teams:  There are a whopping 10 cards of players who played with the Phillies in 1975, but appeared in the set with other teams - #67 Tug McGraw (Mets), #182 Don Hahn (Mets), #240 Garry Maddox (Giants), #319 Johnny Oates (Braves), #377 Tom Hilgendorf (Indians), #400 Dick Allen (White Sox), #405 John Montague (Expos), #586 Tim McCarver (Red Sox), #629 Joe Hoerner (Royals) and #634 Cy Acosta (White Sox)
What’s he doing here:  It's hard to argue with any of the players selected for the Phillies team set.  Given the entire set was issued at once, Topps no longer had the opportunity to include players who changed teams in the off-season with their new teams in a higher series.
Cards that never were candidates:  There's quite a few good candidates.  I'd make Phillies cards for Allen, Maddox, Oates, McGraw and perhaps Martin.  Underwood should have his own card.  (I've already made a card for Maddox, and there's a great card for Allen over at the Dick Allen Hall of Fame blog.)
Favorite Phillies card:  I'll pick Lefty's card, but it's not an easy choice.  I've always loved the Jay Johnstone card too - baby blue road unis, slanted background and a smiling Johnstone.

1975 Topps #400, #240, #67 and #319
Other Stuff
Recycled:  Upper Deck borrowed heavily from the design for an O-Pee-Chee insert set in 2009 and this was the design I used for the very first Chachi set back in 2005.  There's also a great looking card of Luzinski in the 2003 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites set, which uses the 1975 Topps design but features a picture of Bull with The Vet's multi-colored seats in the background.  Finally, Upper Deck tried the multi-color approach for its 2001 Decade 1970's set, and I discussed my disappointment with that set here.
Blogs/Websites:  You need to check out Night Owl's 1975 Topps blog, as it's one of the best set blogs out there.  Unfortunately, as of this writing, he has only 58 more cards to go in the set.
Did You Know?:  Here's the break-down of the different color combinations used for the 1975 Topps Phillies cards - Green-yellow (4), Purple-pink (3), Red-orange (3), Yellow-light blue (3), Yellow-red (3), Blue-orange (2), Brown-tan (2), Orange-yellow (2), Pink-yellow (2), Green-light green (1), Green-purple (1), Orange-brown (1).  I would have sworn there were more purple-pink Phillies cards than just three.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

2011 Topps Allen & Ginter #210 Chase Utley

Phillies 8, Padres 6
Game 99 - Saturday Afternoon, July 23rd in Philadelphia

One Sentence Summary:  Powered by big home runs from Ryan Howard, Michael Martinez and Chase Utley, the Phillies came from behind to down the Padres, 8-6.

What It Means:  The Phillies improved to 63-36 and since the Braves lost today, they now have a five game lead in the East.

What Went Right:  Utley hit a three-run home in the first to start the scoring for the Phils, and his solo home run in the seventh completed the team's offensive output for the day.  In between, Howard led off the seventh with a pinch-hit home run to center on the first pitch he saw and Martinez followed a few batters later with a three-run shot to right.

Starter Kyle Kendrick pitched effectively through the first five innings, but ran into trouble in the sixth when he allowed three runs.  Ryan Madson came on in the ninth to record his 17th save.

Featured Card:  I acquired a small lot of Phillies 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter cards on eBay, including the complete base team set and the Phillies cards in the Hometown Heroes and Baseball Highlight Sketches insert sets.  I like the look of the Allen & Ginter set this year, moreso than in the past few years.  The addition of the team logo to the front of the card is a welcome addition.  I'm going to try to track down a few more of the insert, autograph and relic Phillies cards from the set, and my updated 2011 Phillies wantlist can be found here.

Field Report:  We persevered through this one with the rest of the sold-out crowd at Citizens Bank Park this afternoon.  With a game-time temperature of 100 degrees, to say it was crazy hot is a ridiculous understatement.  The slight breeze was hot, the seats were hot, we were hot.  At one point, my soft pretzel actually burst into flames.  The Phillies are now 8-3 in games I've attended this year.

2011 Chachi #46 Brad Lidge

Bradley Thomas Lidge
Relief Pitcher

Bats: Right  Throws: Right  Height: 6'5"  Weight: 214
Born: December 23, 1976, Sacramento, CA
Home: Englewood, CO
Drafted: Selected by Houston Astros in 1st round of June 1998 draft
Teams: Houston Astros 2002-2007, Phillies 2008-
Acquired: Acquired from Houston Astros with Eric Bruntlett for Michael Bourn, Geoff Geary and Mike Costanzo, November 7, 2007
Contract Status: Signed through the 2011 season, with a club option for 2012

Complete Topps Base Set Checklist:
1999 Topps #441 - Astros - Draft Picks (with Mike Nannini)
2004 Topps #461 - Astros
2005 Topps #381 - Astros
2006 Topps #456 - Astros
2007 Topps #3 - Astros
2008 Topps #496 - Phillies
2008 Topps Update #UH304 - Phillies - All-Star
2009 Topps #20 - Phillies
2010 Topps #500 - Phillies
2011 Topps #242 - Phillies

Friday, July 22, 2011

2011 Chachi Lineage #2 Cole Hamels

Phillies 3, Padres 1
Game 98 - Friday Night, July 22nd in Philadelphia

One Sentence Summary:  The game-time temperature was 98 degrees, but Cole Hamels managed to cool off the Padre bats as the Phils won, 3-1.

What It Means:  The team is now 62-36 and with the Braves winning too, they maintain a four game lead in the East.

What Went Right:  The Phils were gifted their first two runs by the Padres.  In the second, Shane Victorino reached on shortstop Jason Bartlett's error.  He came around to score when Carlos Ruiz doubled on a ball that clanked off the glove of center fielder Cameron Maybin.  In the fourth, Padres pitcher Cory Luebke balked home a run.  John Mayberry, Jr. doubled home the Phillies third run following the balk.

Hamels (12-5) pitched great in the heat, rebounding nicely from his disastrous last start against the Mets.  He lasted eight innings, allowing just three hits and one run while striking out 10 and he's now tied with the Braves' Jair Jurrjens for most wins in the N.L.  Ryan Madson pitched a perfect ninth to record his 16th save and his first since returning from the disabled list.

Featured Card:  The Phillies and Padres wore uniforms from 1984 to celebrate 1980's Retro Night at the ballpark.  The 1985 Topps design hasn't been featured in a prior year Chachi set, but I thought it fitting to use the design here to show off the awesome '80s Phillies uniforms.  (I would have used the 1984 Topps design, but I couldn't find a decent "portrait" photo of Hamels in his retro cap to use for the smaller photo on the '84 card.)

Transaction:  Former closer Brad Lidge was activated from the disabled list this afternoon and he hopes to make his 2011 debut soon.  Lidge is not expected to close, given the success in the role by Madson and Antonio Bastardo.  Reliever Danys Baez was designated for assignment to open a roster spot for Lidge.  Baez just didn't pitch that great during his year and a half in Philly, although he'll always be remembered for his five shutout innings of relief in the 19-inning game back on May 25th.

Padres at Phillies: July 22nd through July 25th

Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA
Friday 7:05, Saturday 4:10, Sunday 1:35, Monday 1:05

Padres 44-55, 4th Place in N.L. West, 13 games behind the Giants
Phillies 61-36, 1st Place in N.L. East, 4 games ahead of the Braves

So Far in 2011: The Phillies pulled off a four-game sweep of the Padres in San Diego back in April.

Meet the Padres: Manager - Buddy Black
Starters - Rob Johnson (c), Kyle Blanks (1b), Orlando Hudson (2b), Alberto Gonzalez (3b), Jason Bartlett (ss), Ryan Ludwick (lf), Cameron Maybin (cf), Will Venable (rf)
Rotation - Tim Stauffer (rhp), Aaron Harang (rhp), Dustin Moseley (rhp), Cory Luebke (lhp), Mat Latos (rhp)
Bench - Kyle Phillips (c), Logan Forsythe (2b), Jesus Guzman (inf), Chase Headley (3b), Chris Denorfia (of)
Closer - Heath Bell (rhp)
Bullpen - Mike Adams (rhp), Anthony Bass (rhp), Ernesto Frieri (rhp), Luke Gregerson (rhp), Chad Qualls (rhp), Josh Spence (lhp)
Disabled List - Clayton Richard (lhp), Joe Thatcher (lhp), Nick Hundley (c), Brad Hawpe (1b), Mike Baxter (of)

At the Ballpark:  Tonight is 1980s Retro Night at the ballpark and both teams will be wearing 1984-style throw-back uniforms.  (Yes, I'm very excited about this.)  On Sunday, all kids receive a Chase Utley Fathead Jr., which I believe is one of those giant removable sticker things that kids hang on their walls these days.

Padres Probables: Cory Luebke (3-3, 2.57), Mat Latos (5-10, 4.02), Tim Stauffer (6-6, 2.83), Aaron Harang (8-2, 3.29)
Phillies Probables: Cole Hamels (11-5, 2.71), Kyle Kendrick (5-4, 3.34), Roy Halladay (11-4, 2.57), Cliff Lee (9-6, 2.83)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

2006 Fleer Tradition #131 Jimmy Rollins

Phillies 9, Cubs 1
Game 97 - Wednesday Afternoon, July 20th in Chicago

One Sentence Summary:  On a day when the game-time temperature was 97 degrees, the Phils won easily, 9-1.

What It Means:  The Phillies improved to 61-36, winning their eighth consecutive series dating back to the middle of June.

What Went Right:  Vance Worley (6-1) stayed hydrated and dominated the Cubs.  Worley allowed one run and four hits in his eight innings of work, while striking out seven.

At the plate, Jimmy Rollins led the way, hitting home runs from each side of the plate for the second time in his career.  He finished the day with two home runs, a double, three RBIs and four runs scored in five at-bats.

Featured Card:  Rollins also hit home runs from both sides of the plate back in 2006.  So that led me to dig out my 2006 Phillies binder and continue the theme of posting Fleer cards this week.  This set is like the 1981 Topps set's hip younger cousin.

2006 Ultra Rising Stars #URS5 Chase Utley

Phillies 4, Cubs 2
Game 96 - Tuesday Night, July 19th in Chicago

One Sentence Summary:  The Phils came to life in the eighth, scoring four unanswered runs to come from behind and win, 4-2.

What It Means:  With the victory, the Phils improved to 60-36, becoming the first team to the 60-win mark.

What Went Right:  Not much went right for the first seven innings as Cubs starter Matt Garza limited the Phillies to just three hits.  But two clutch, two-run doubles against the Cubs bullpen - Chase Utley's in the eighth and Michael Martinez' in the ninth - gave the team all the offense they'd need to defeat the Cubs.  Martinez, who has been earning increased playing time, raised his July average to .314 (11 for 35) with the double and he now has 11 RBIs in the month.

Cliff Lee received a no-decision, despite his six strong innings of two-run, eight-hit pitching.  Antonio Bastardo struck out the side in the ninth to record his 7th save.

Featured Card:  Utley has been struggling lately, so it was nice to see him come through in the clutch in this game.  I had my 2006 Phillies binder out looking for a card for my summary post for Game 97, and I came across this Utley insert card from the 2006 Ultra set.  Continuing the theme started yesterday with the Smoke 'N Heat card, I thought I'd post another recent Fleer insert card.

Transaction:  Shane Victorino went 0 for 4 in his return from the disabled list.  Pete Orr was optioned back down to Triple-A to clear a roster spot.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

1994 Fleer Smoke 'N Heat #11 Curt Schilling

Cubs 6, Phillies 1
Game 95 - Monday Night, July 18th in Chicago

One Sentence Summary: The oppressive heat in Chicago forced Roy Halladay to leave the game early and it apparently also put the Phils offense to sleep, as the Cubs won 6-1.

What It Means:  The Phils are 59-36 and the Braves victory puts their lead in the East down to 2 1/2 games.

What Went Wrong: Halladay looked completely and uncharacteristically spent from the get-go. The heat and humidity in Chicago were too much for the All-Star Game starter and he took himself out of the game in the fifth.  His early departure broke his streak of pitching 6 or more innings in 63 consecutive road games, which is the longest streak since Walter Johnson’s 82 games between 1911 and 1915.

Other than a Jimmy Rollins solo home run in the 4th, the offense was quiet against former Phillie and Cub starter Rodrigo Lopez.  They managed just five hits, with two of them coming from John Mayberry, Jr.

Featured Card:  I've entered my Phillies baseball card collection up through 1995 into the Zistle database.  I did a quick search of the word "heat," given this game's lead storyline, and I came up with this Curt Schilling beauty from a time when Fleer was making some of the most creative cards in the hobby.  I miss Fleer.

Monday, July 18, 2011

2011 Topps #421 Domonic Brown

I recently learned there's some debate regarding the existence of a 2011 Topps Domonic Brown Diamond Sparkle gimmick/variation card, also known as a "Twink" card, also known as those hard to find cards featuring what appears to be a sparkle added somewhere to the player's photo by Topps.  The Diamond Sparkle variations, as they're officially known, are very hard to find and are currently commanding quite the premium on eBay.

I'm fairly certain I can confirm that Domonic Brown does not in fact have a Topps Diamond Sparkle variation or a Twink card, or whatever you'd like to call it.

I can also confirm that the photo selection guy at Topps has impeccable taste in Domonic Brown pictures, as he chose the exact same picture I chose for Brown's 2011 Chachi card, which you can see here.  As the creator of the Chachi cards, I know for a fact there are no Twink variations to be found within the 2011 Chachi set.  The photo in question was taken by one of the fine photographers at Getty back on September 1, 2010.

As far as I know, this represents the first time a Topps card and a Chachi card have used the same photo in the same year.  But let the record show the Chachi card made its debut first.

Also, I've finally updated my 2011 Phillies wantlist for the Topps Series 2 cards I'm trying to hunt down.  You'll note that none of the Twink cards are on my wantlist, but I'd gladly give any of them a good home if you're so inclined.

Phillies at Cubs: July 18th through July 20th

Wrigley Field - Chicago, IL
Monday and Tuesday 8:05, Wednesday 2:20

Phillies 59-35, 1st Place in the N.L. East, 3 1/2 games ahead of the Braves
Cubs 38-58, 5th Place in the N.L. Central, 13 games behind the Brewers

So Far in 2011:  The Phils took three out of four from the Cubs when they visited Citizens Bank Park a month ago.  Only the Houston Astros have a worse record than the Cubs in the National League.

Meet the Cubs: Manager - Mike Quade
Starters - Geovanny Soto (c), Carlos Pena (1b), Darwin Barney (2b), Aramis Ramirez (3b), Starlin Castro (ss), Alfonso Soriano (lf), Marlon Byrd (cf), Kosuke Fukudome (rf)
Rotation - Ryan Dempster (rhp), Carlos Zambrano (rhp), Randy Wells (rhp), Rodrigo Lopez (rhp), Matt Garza (rhp)
Bench - Koyie Hill (c), Jeff Baker (inf), Blake DeWitt (inf), Tony Campana (of), Reed Johnson (of)
Closer - Sean Marshall (lhp)
Bullpen - John Grabow (lhp), Carlos Marmol (rhp), Ramon Ortiz (rhp), James Russell (lhp), Jeff Samardzija (rhp), Kerry Wood (rhp)
Disabled List - Andrew Cashner (rhp), Marcos Mateo (rhp), Brian Schlitter (rhp)

At the Ballpark: Three games, three give-aways at Wrigley, but only if you're one of the first 10,000 fans.  Tonight is Cubs Water Bottle night, tomorrow is Cubs Cap night and Wednesday afternoon is (my favorite) Cubs Chip-and-Dip Platter day.

Phillies Probables: Roy Halladay (11-3, 2.45), Cliff Lee (9-6, 2.82), Vance Worley (5-1, 2.15)
Cubs Probables: Rodrigo Lopez (1-2, 4.02), Matt Garza (4-7, 3.97), Ryan Dempster (7-6, 4.68)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

2011 Phillies Team Issue 2 #19 Michael Martinez

Phillies 8, Mets 5
Game 94 - Sunday Afternoon, July 17th in Flushing

One Sentence Summary:  Michael Martinez and Kyle Kendrick were the unlikely duo leading the Phils to victory over the Mets, 8-5.

What It Means:  The Phils improve to 59-35 and since the Braves won too, they maintained a 3 1/2 game lead in the East.  They now head to Chicago to open a three-game set tomorrow night.

What Went Right:  Kendrick (5-4) pitched seven innings, allowing just a run on six hits and three walks.  It seemed as if he was in trouble all afternoon, but he managed to escape each time.  The recently reliable bullpen didn't fare so well, allowing the Mets to creep back within reach with five runs in the last three innings.  Antonio Bastardo recorded a four-out save, his sixth, to close it out.

The big hit was Martinez' three-run home run in the fifth.  It was the first of his big league career and he'd finish the day with four RBIs.  Martinez, who can play all infield and outfield positions, has been seeing increased playing time with both Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco on the disabled list.  Jimmy Rollins enjoyed a three-hit day as well.

Featured Card:  I'd love to feature Martinez' first Topps card in this post, card #524 in Series 2, but I don't have it yet.  In fact, I haven't even gotten around to updating my 2011 Topps wantlist to feature the Phillies base card and inserts I need from Series 2.  Which of course means I have no idea about the Phillies cards contained within the just released, hysteria-inducing Topps Allen and Ginter set.  In short, I need to get on the ball.  This is Martinez' card from the Phillies Team Issue set, Series 2.  At least I have that under control.