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This Seems A Tad Expensive December 17, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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Really? 2.7 million for a 1978 Craig Reynolds card?

I mean, he was a decent player and all, but I don’t think his 1978 card is up there with a 1909 Honus Wagner, y’know?

Maybe I misread the listing. Maybe the card comes shipped in a fleet of Lamborghinis. Or, perhaps it’s for the ACTUAL Craig Reynolds, now a Baptist pastor in Houston. How much do retired shortstops/pastors in Houston go for these days, anyway?

I was curious enough to email the seller:

Hi

This turned up in my suggestions and caught my attention. The price seems slightly high. So I’m curious.

I really want this price not to be a typo. I’d like to think people have made you ridiculous offers for this card thinking it’s some sort of rare error or the like. If so, more power to you.

My other theory is that you ARE Craig Reynolds. If so, you were a pretty good SS for the Astros.

In any case, I’d love to hear the story behind this listing if you want to answer, thanks in advance! If not, I’ll enjoy the mystery.

I’ll update this post if I get an answer.

Maybe more wacky suggestions will turn up in my ebay feed since I bought a few old cards the other day. Who knows?

In the meantime, make those best offers. Craig’s not getting any younger.

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Baseball Card Of The Day: 1952 Duke Snider October 24, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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How ’bout a story?

When I was a kid collecting baseball cards, before the friggin’ boomers destroyed the hobby by bidding up the prices of various cards beyond belief by the 1980s, it was often possible to search out & find classic old cards of great stars and legends at affordable prices, or amazingly cheap prices.

One day at an antique show my mom got interested in at the ol’ Midland Mall in Rhode Island, turned out one guy had a small box of several dozen absolute MINT condition 1952 Topps baseball cards.

4 for a dollar.

Yeah, I know – where’s Biff Tannen to come back in a Delorean and tell 1972 me that I should buy the entire box? It’s the first real Topps set, amazingly in demand, where mint condition cards are extremely rare and pricey. The Mickey Mantle rookie in set sells for multiple thousands of dollars.

Believe me, I combed the box for Yankees. The only one was Hank Bauer, but it, along with more stellar names – Bob Feller, Gil Hodges and Duke Snider rounded out my dollar’s worth.

These were immediate status symbols amongst the neighborhood friends who collected and traded cards with me. They were older, I’d gotten lots of cards from them from before my time, mostly commons but some star players in there, here and there, depending on what I’d traded away for ’em.

I got repeatedly badgered by one guy for one of the 1952s… haggling went back and forth, and in what seemed like a good deal in 1972, I traded the Duke Snider for a ’64 Koufax, Drysdale, and Tony Kubek, to get a Yankee in there.

I like having the Drysdale and Koufax cards…. to this day, they’re the only cards of either of those guys in my collection, I think… but over the years, parting with that mint Duke Snider has always haunted me. And I did NOT want to pay anywhere from the $300 -$2000 I’d seen the near mint to mints go for to get it back in that condition.

BUT – we have a happy ending to this tale. Recently on ebay, I found one in decent enough condition, not mint, but an undergraded good to very good one – no creases or marks or pinholes, only some corner wear visible on the front and not quite-perfect centering. And it fit right into the “I think I’ll buy myself a birthday present a month early” category at fifty bucks.

I spent nearly as much on sushi the other night, I figured. (All you can eat, too!)

Should I fixate on my memory of leaving the Warren Spahn and Richie Ashburn cards behind to take the Bauer back in ’72 and spring for those on ebay? Well, maybe next birthday. By then, maybe I can skip enough sushi to save up, who knows?

And Now, Unemotional Post Season Baseball October 9, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball.
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My Yankees (yes, they belong to me) couldn’t stand up to the Red Sox this year, whether in the division race or in the division series. Their bats went dead and their pitchers got blasted.

They made nice comebacks in Game 1 and Game 4, but ultimately fell short by mere inches. That’s baseball.

So they’re done for 2018. They won 100 games, not too shabby. Whatever wheeling and dealing they do in the off season (Signing Harper? Trading Bird and maybe Sanchez for De Grom? Who knows?) remains to be seen, but in the meantime, they still look like the 1994-95 era Yankees, a young team solidly stacked with young star talent who will be contenders, if not champs, for many years to come.

Only a couple more pieces of the puzzle for that champion team to come together, I think… a starting pitcher, a hole filled in the formidable batting line up to get more hitting continuity & move away from the feast or famine of homerun versus strikeout that plagues the game right now.

Honestly, even if they had beaten the Sox, I think they’d have fallen to the Astros, who look unbeatable. I’d think the Astros beat the Sox and win it all again, to be honest.

But you never know.

At least now, I’ll watch as a fan of the sport – the pure analyst, accepting any result, not emotionally invested in rooting for any particular team.

“I always thought you were a bit of a pirate at heart,” as Kirk said.

Hmmm….. perhaps the Tantalus field might help the Yankees in 2019….

Aw crap. Wrong universe. Better just sign Harper and trade for a reliable starter.

October Baseball October 6, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball.
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Sandy Koufax with some serious sweater action. (With Billie Jean King, no less!)

I’ll watch more sports this month than any other month of the year. Between postseason baseball, NFL, college football, and now the start of both NHL and NBA seasons, well…. I guess there’s ALWAYS a game on.

Rooting for the Yankees, obviously. If they can get by their AL opponents, I’d think they could win the World Series over any of the NL ones. And I think I could say that for the Red Sox & Astros, too. Sorry, Indians fans.

Always love seeing Koufax in the stands, watching guys like Ryu or Kershaw annihilate a batting order the way he used to, since Sandy is still KING OF THE JEWS. Sorry, Seinfeld fans.

In the NL, I’d think it comes down to the Dodgers & Brewers, and I’d have to give the edge to the Brewers, though I think that series could easily go 6 or 7.

I want the Yankees in the AL in my heart, but my objective analyst brain sez it’ll be the Astros repeating. But who knows? Maybe I’ll be as happy to be wrong about the Yankees as I was with the Patriots.

In the meantime, check out the serious sweater action from the 1968 Cardinals. It’s time to dress for fall, gentlemen.

Baseball Card Of The Day: 1972 Topps “Boyhood Photos of the Stars” Jim Fregosi August 23, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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You’d think they’d be more consistent in using kid photos of baseball players actually playing baseball, from their little league days or whatever.

Most of the cards in this section of the monster 1972 Topps set featured just that – the Tom Seaver or Willie Stargell show ’em both in their caps and uniforms back in their childhood days.

But Jim Fregosi, notable as a star on the Angels for a number of years who the Mets, being the Mets, traded Nolan Ryan for, only gets to play the accordion.

Maybe that’s why the Mets wanted him.

“Let’s unload a guy on the way to being one of the all time greatest pitchers ever, who’ll pitch a staggering 7 no hitters, pitch deep into his late 40s and set the all strikeout record….FOR AN ACCORDION!!!!!”

Actually, Fregosi broke his thumb with the Mets, lasted a year with them, went to other teams as a backup and eventually became a manager back with Angels, the team he’d had his best hitting years with, along with some Gold Glove fielding.  And in his mangerial stint with the Angels, he’d have Nolan Ryan on his pitching staff.

Not sure about the accordion.

Joe Torre’s boyhood photo is a nice one, too. It reminds me of when kid Henry Hill comes home to his mom wearing a new suit and mom scowls “You look like a gangster!”

The car is a nice touch. Just out of shot, Tom Hagen is telling Tessio “Can’t do it Sallie!” and Torre’s about to help him into the back seat.

You’d think it would have been Clemenza, but Tessio was always smarter.

But Joe won 4 World Series managing the Yankees.

Play THAT on your accordion.

Baseball Card Of The Day, All Star Break Edition: 1993 Craig Lefferts July 18, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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Time for a break from baseball.

So why not pour yourself a cold one?

Craig Lefferts pitched for six teams in twelve seasons, starting and relieving as an all purpose work horse. He appeared in 696 games and holds the distinction of being the last pitcher to hit a walk-off home run, all the way back in 1986.

Don’t know about you, but I hope that’s bourbon and not Gatorade in that cup. That’d make this a true “action” card.

L’chaim Craig!

Regular baseball resumes Friday. And how ‘BOUT them Yankees?

How BOUT Them Yankees! June 20, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball.
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Oh, they are fun to watch. Especially when they come back from a 5-0 deficit against what looks like a playoff bound Seattle Mariners team and win with a walkoff homer by Giancarlo Stanton in the bottom of the 9th, like they did tonight.

After a game tying homer by the hopefully formerly struggling Gary Sanchez. He’s only hitting .191, but has 41 RBIs anyway.

They managed to get ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East despite Sanchez, Stanton and Bird underperforming at the plate…. but perhaps Sanchez and Stanton are getting hot?

Who knows?

Will rookie pitchers like German and Loaisiga develop the way Severino has?

Dunno. Hope so!

All I know is that these guys remind me more and more of the Yanks circa mid 1990s, when Jeter was the hotshot rookie, when they first brought Pettite, Rivera and Posada up to join Bernie Williams and a few established vets like Jimmy Key and David Cone… and they went on an amazing tear for years, peaking in 98-99 looking unbeatable. Now they got Judge, Sanchez, Torres, Adujar, Severino, German, Frazier and Bird coming up from the minors to join the vets Stanton, Sabathia, Tanaka, Chapman and Gardener… it feels a lot like a long run is beginning for this group.

I’d love to see another run like that from another home-grown group of Yankee stars, and not just to make me feel 20 years younger.

More than that, really, since the magic of watching baseball makes me feel like a starry eyed nine year old again watching heroes supposedly bigger than life. Probably why I’ll never stop watching, although it’d be nice if the baseball cards weren’t so damn expensive as opposed to when I actually WAS 9 and you got 10 cards in a pack for a dime.

And yes, get off my lawn.

And tonight, Stanton was the big hero – it seems like it’s a different guy every night, one of those magical intangibles that always wind up being the hallmark of a championship team.

It’s still early. The Red Sox look really solid and the division will be tough. The Astros, Mariners, Angels and Indians are all pennant-capable teams in the AL, which looks a lot tougher than the NL about now. So we’ll see what happens in the end, especially with the extremely lame one-and-out wild card playoff.

The Yanks could win 100+ games, but if they finish second the the Sox, they could wind up in a 1 game playoff against the likes of Justin Verlander, fresh off rejuvenating sex with Kate Upton.

Although, at least there IS a playoff. The 1954 Yankees won 103 games and finished 2nd to the Indians. They got to stay home and watch the Giants win the Series.

Is this the year? I hope so, but who knows? I’m optimistic that “THIS IS THE YEAR!!!!” will be a reasonable sentiment for many years to come with the core of young stars the Yankees have and are developing.

Baseball Card Of The Day: 1959 Chick King June 12, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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Just look at him, ladies. You KNOW he lives up to his name…

Why I Love Baseball, Part Infinity May 29, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball.
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On the right, for my Yankees, is Aaron Judge, at six feet eight inches.

Standing next to him on the left is Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros, at five feet six inches.

The tall guy on the right won Rookie of the Year last year, and came in second for Most Valuable Player.

The little guy on the left won Most Valuable Player.

Altuve’s amazing, and I cringe every time he comes to the plate against my team and kicks ass.  But guys like him make the game great.  It’s all about skills. It’s why a little annoying shit like me could play baseball, back before I got old and feeble and my liver fell out when I got up this morning.

Tonight, the Yankees struck out a whopping 17 times, made a pathetic 2018-leading FIVE errors in the same game, and yet still managed to mount a 9th and 10th inning comeback against the reigning World Champ Astros and win 6-5. Two rookies got two big hits in the bottom of the 10th with 2 out. The set up double came from 23 year old Miguel Andujar. The winning RBI came from 21 year old Gleyber Torres.

HOW ‘BOUT THEM BABY BOMBERS!!!!

THIS IS THE YEAR!

Gotta go put my liver back. It’s time for a drink.

Baseball Card Of The Day, Cranky Old Man Edition – 1968 Bob Gibson May 20, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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Gibson had arguably the greatest single season performance of any pitcher in the modern era in 1968 – a record of 22-9, with 268 Ks in 304 innings…. along with a phenomenal 28 complete games and a seemingly impossible ERA of 1.12.

But look at these amazing stats that log every game of his in ’68 and zero in on June and July – he pitched FIVE complete game shutouts in a row during a stretch where he won ELEVEN straight complete games, EIGHT of them  shutouts.

His shortest start all year was his first – where he went 7 innings.

And now consider baseball in 2018 – the era of pitch counts, 7th inning left handed batter ground ball specialists, having five different guys come out of the bullpen to pitch the last three innings and other such SABERMETRIC BULLSHIT, and then hark back to the days when REAL MEN LIKE BOB GIBSON went out on a regular basis and dominated the living shit out of hitters who included Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Pete Rose and the rest.

Gibson’s iron manliness was the rule and not the exception, either. Those 28 complete games were NOT the league lead – Juan Marichal pitched 30 of ’em for the Giants. Gibson’s World Series opponent Denny McLain would also have 28 complete games for his amazing 31-6 record. Gibson would beat him twice in that series, but would get bested by Mickey Lolich in the end after a bad 7th inning.

Last year, Corey Kluber led the majors with 5 complete games, total.

Gibson did that in a row, in a month, all shutouts.

Kluber is no slouch, either, I’ve watched him beat my Yankees enough times. Cy Young winner, the whole bit. But Gibson intimidated the living crap out of batters. He was notorious for brushback pitches, yet did not hit many batters. He just made you think he did. His scowl and aura from the mound made it look like he didn’t just want to get you out, he wanted to KILL you and have your entire family watching in the stands die of heart attacks. You’d be thankful after all he did was strike you out.

We live in times of too much overthinking and finesse. And you kids better stay off my lawn.

And stay off Bob Gibson’s lawn too, he looks like he wants to kill you.