Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Your 2008 World Series Champions - The Philadelphia Phillies

In what will have to go down as the worst rated series and the matchup that no body outside of Tampa or Philadelphia wanted to see, the Phillies won their second WS title in 126 years. Good for them.

Actually it's kind of cool, they played good ball when it counted, and that means a lot. I was happy for the Rays to even get there, they played their hearts out, but came up short in the end. Cinderella made it to the ball, she just didn't get the glass slipper.

And so it ends. For two lovely days all four major sports in the United States were going at the same time. That doesn't happen very often, or at least, it SHOULDN'T happen very often.

Now the less interesting part of baseball will begin, the business. It used to disgust me how Baseball would dole out it's post-season awards one per day for about two weeks, but I now see why they do; Baseball is at a cross-roads. It is the game of the 19th Century, changing little since the adoption of the foul-strike rule in 1903. When it boils down to it, mechanically they're still playing the same game. Of course the athletes and equipment are technologically advanced, but the game itself is still the same.

As much as those of us who like baseball still do so, we have to realize that our past-time has certainly seen it's time pass. Still, MLB is doing some things right, their internet business outpaced the other sports by leaps and bounds, and continues to lead the pack in terms of embracing new technologies. The move to instant-replay is a good one, and while I don't want to see the human element of umpiring removed, replays can certainly enhance the game by getting calls CORRECT.

Of course the real business of the off-season is in player movement, who's going to sign with whom, what trades are there going to be, what rookies are coming up, etc. That stuff is already begininning and there will be a rash of it as soon as Free Agency begins. The "Where Will Manny Sign?" quest is going to begin shortly. I'm as intrigued as the next guy, but ultimately it won't be my number one sports interest this Winter. That will be the UCLA Bruins Men's Basketball team.

Go Bruins.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Adventures in eBay - Part of an Ongoing Saga

Howdy all, I'd like to call your attention to some items I'm currently selling on eBay. I need to get rid of some older sets of cards that I no longer have a passion for, namely wrestling cards.

Yes, I know wrestling isn't real, it's scripted. I've known for years and years, but it doesn't bother me. The entire "sport" and what it's become bothers me, but for sheer entertainment value, you couldn't get more bang for your buck than wrestling in the 80's and 90's. I've collected a LOT of sets in my past, from all sorts of subjects besides sports, and wrestling cards were always a favorite. My wife is very glad that I haven't delved into the recent Topps Heritage WWE cards. ESPECIALLY since 95% of my favorite wrestlers are now retired.

So on the Bay you'll find an odd assortment of wrestling cards that I no longer want or need. Some are complete sets, others are just short. I hope you might find something you like and will buy it from me, and if you do, and as an added incentive, if you inform me that you read about my latest auctions on my blog, I'll give you a 10% discount on your final purchase price as a rebate (meaning I'll refund you 10% of your final purchase price when you pay).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Custom Cards on a Budget

Readers, have you ever want to make your own custom trading cards? Well, you can on the web in a number of places. Both Topps and Upper Deck have programs on their sites that let you upload your own images and create your own text. Problem is that they tend to be not on the cheap side. Upper Deck's program "My Own Trading Cards" program is currently being updated, which is good because the previous iteration of the program had only a few uninspiring designs, none of which were actually based on real Upper Deck cards.

Topps actually offers quite a few designs, including classic set designs like '59, '72, '74, '75, '76, '77, '87, '07 and '08, as well as a couple of nifty insert types AND Wacky Packages templates. Not only do they have nicer templates, but they also offer a number of different color selections within each template so you can really customize your cards. You also get to include as much information as you can fit on the back of a card, if you have a little-leaguer you can put his or her actual stats, or you can make up your own. The pricing is not great though, the most expensive package is the 5 cards for $10 deal, and the cheapest is 1000 cards for $420, so it ranges from 42 cents to $2 per card depending on your quantity. The cards are supposed to be printed on the same presses as their retail cards. At some point I'd love to order cards of my daughter once a year so that I have a complete set!

There are, of course, many many other companies that will do pretty much the same thing, and most of them have really nice templates, though you can only get official designs from Topps and UD. The nice thing about third-party presses is that the pricing won't be quite as steep, you're looking at between 25 cents and $1.00 per card depending on quantity.

BUT this is the BUDGET Sports Card Collector, I wouldn't be doing my job very well if I didn't have a deal to tell you about. Nestle's Drumstick Ice Cream has been running a promotion all Summer, and it's still going on now that gets you 16 Custom Topps cards for the bargain price of $4.19 in shipping plus two product codes from Drumstick packages. Here's the real secret, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BUY THE ICE CREAM - simply copy down the codes off of two packages in the store, and go to this site to start off your cards.

You don't get the same selection of cards, only the last three years' worth of designs, which actually has one design that's not available on their mainstream site (the 2006 design). The text options on the back isn't quite as good either, and you don't get to put on a card number like you do with the paid versions, but hey, they're a lot cheaper. I just ordered a set of cards of my daughter today, and here's the pics:

Personally I love custom trading cards, and I already have two of them of myself. One I made in 1992 at the All-Star Fantasy-Fest when the Baseball All-Star game was held at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego. They had a booth set up where you took a picture in front of a backdrop in your favorite team's uniform and they printed it on a trading card. These aren't the same stock as normal cards, and the photo isn't near the quality of a retail card, but they're still nice, and they were free. I got a second one done at the Hockey fan-fest when the Hockey All-Star game was held at Staples Center, and that's pictured below. I also got to touch and take a picture with the Stanley Cup that day, so it was all good. My biggest complaint is the back of the card, the stats are nowhere NEAR realistic, but again, it was free.

I love the fact that I played in 76 out of 80 games, but that 3.2 Goals Against has GOT to come down if my team is going anywhere...

So has anyone else ever had custom cards done? Got pics?

Monday, October 20, 2008

2008 Upper Deck Baseball Wants

Right now I'm only going to list regular cards (by number, I didn't look up the names to be honest). If you can help me complete this set, I'd be much obliged. I have a TON of doubles for this set, and of course, I've got the team-trading thing set up. Just let me know what you want and I'll see what I can do.

Here we go:

Star Quest (Can be any rarity)

Base Cards

As you can see it's a lot of Series 1 cards, and not much from Series 2. I busted quite a bit more of Series 2 than Series 1, dunno why, just did.

The other sets that I'm considering putting together from 2008 products are Allen & Ginter (currently about half complete), Topps Base (maybe 60% complete) and UD Baseball Heroes. I'm giving up on Topps Heritage, because even though I love the cards, I cannot possibly put a set together. Next year I'm going to pick one set outside of the base brands (call me crazy, but I'm a sucker for base brands, must come from the fact that when I started collecting cards, that's all you could get) and that's going to be my set for the season.

Weekend Sports Wrap-Up & This and That

World Serious?

I completely underestimated the tenacity of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, losing game six only to come from behind to win game 7 and a trip to the Big Dance. I honestly don't really care who wins the World Series, though if I had to pick I'd say I'm rooting for the Rays. I love it when teams who have never won a championship win their first one, it's always a special moment. I also don't particularly care for the Phillies, though I don't hate them either.

I would think that several executives at Fox are shitting bricks right about now, estimating that they'll get the lowest ratings of any World Series that they've shown. Ratings have been pretty low for the World Series since the 2004 edition (featuring the BoSox vs. the Cards) which got a 15.8 average with about 25 million viewers. The last several years the ratings have been just above a 10 average with about 15 million viewers. Think about that number for a second, if there's about 305 million people in the U.S., 15 million viewers is less than 5% of the population. If you compare the numbers to the Superbowl, you get a HUGE disparity because of the 40+ ratings that the big game gets year in and year out. What that translates to is that almost HALF of the U.S. population tunes into the Superbowl at some point during the game.

Now the World Series does get better ratings than both the NHL and the NBA finals. The NBA finals routinely draw under 10 ratings, and in fact haven't scored higher than last year's 9.2 since 2004! The NHL finals aren't really even in the same ballpark in reality, they aren't on broadcast TV and they don't even draw more than a couple of points each season. I could go on for days on television ratings as they fascinate me to no end, however, I would just be flogging the same dead animal. Football is America's #1 sport and everything else pales in comparison.

Adjusted for Inflation

Wasn't like that when I was a kid, but then again gas was under $1.00 a gallon when I was a kid too. Heck the year I was born (1971) the average price for a gallon of gas was just over 35 cents. Adjusted for inflation that would be about 1.77 now. Then again, my first packs of trading cards were $0.25 in 1977, and today they're at least $2.00 or more. It gets worse though. Comic books were $0.35 when I started collecting, now you're LUCKY if you can find a comic with under a $2.99 cover price, and more likely they're $3.99 or higher. In fact in the last two weeks I've bought two, count 'em TWO comic books both with the $3.99 cover price (The Barack Obama comic and the new Ghostbusters comic both from IDW).

Inflation only covers some of the increase in prices. That 35 cent comic according to the inflation caluclator should cost 85 cents now, BUT they don't make comics like they did in 1977. For one, the paper and printing process are all very high tech now, that old newsprint that will distintigrate over time is long-gone, replaced with fancy glossy stock. The old hand coloring and hand lettering processes have joined the dodo in extinction with most everything being done by computer. Same thing goes with trading cards. What you bought for a quarter back in 1977 (any set of Topps really) doesn't exist anymore. For that price you got 10 cards, one of which was always screwed up by the wax wrapper, and another of which might be screwed up by the gum, which was bloody awful. Now I respect both Topps and UD for having entry level card sets that approximate the old days in both tone and set content, but the card stock and photography are all technologically advanced. When you think about it though, for a dollar you do get about the same contents as you would in 1977. Then again, I didn't have the opportunity to pull an autogamer or a piece of a dead Presidents hair in 1977 either. I could pull a C-3PO card with a stiffy so it's all good.

Fantasy Football Update

I lost BOTH games this weekend, second time in two weeks. UGH. My players just had awful days in both leagues, and I didn't pay much attention to my lineups on Sunday, which meant that I ended up starting Chris Chambers when he didn't even play. In my league my top four performers all scored in double digits, but the remaining guys didn't break 7 and that was for my defense. In Gellman's league, where I WAS tied for first place, I did horribly scoring my worst performance of the year. Thankfully it's only week 7 and there are 7 more weeks to go in both leagues. In my league I'm 3-4, tied for 5th place. I'd still be in the playoffs though because top 6 go in my league. In Gellman's league I'm now 5-2 and there is currently a five way tie for first. Talk about parity. The three teams that WERE tied for first last week at 5-1 all lost, and the two teams that were 4-2 both won, leaving a HUGE log-jam at the top. I believe that I still have the number one seed though, like it means much since there's only 4 teams in that league that make the playoffs. I need a few of my guys to get healthy really quickly, just like the UCLA Bruins Football squad.

This or That

I'm working on a piece about the difference between retail and hobby, when to buy what and why. Seems like this is always a sore subject with hobby bloggers, and I think that my take will be a little different than most. Here's a quick preview: I like retail, but I'd prefer to shop hobby, even though currently I buy more at retail. There.

My next post will be my list of needs to complete a 2008 Upper Deck Baseball set. You might remember that I was able to get a box of both series gratis from Upper Deck, not to review or anything like that, though DAMN I wish that I could get free product like Chris and Mario (kudos to both of you too), but because I enrolled my child into the Upper Deck Kids Points Club, and amassed a huge number of points in a short amount of time. If anyone's interested I'll do a post on the club in the future and other freebies that you can get from the hobby.

The "Free" Controversy

Speaking of freebies, I'd like to weigh in on the current blogger controversy between Mario of Wax Heaven, Chris of Stale Gum and JV of Treasure Never Buried. If you don't know what's going on, in a nutshell, Mario announced with pride that he had been contacted by Upper Deck to start receiving free product that he can review on his blog. Pretty standard stuff to be honest, this goes on in pretty much every industry. As soon as the announcement was made other bloggers started to weigh in, JV being the most vocal. Mario was accused not of being less than objective, but rather lying to his readers about the origins of a couple of boxes he broke earlier in the year. Whoop-de-doo. Later Chris also announced that he had entered a similar agreement with UD and would also be getting free product. Both Mario and Chris are also sharing much of that product with readers through free contests.

Here's my take:

WHO THE HELL CARES if they get free product. AS I said earlier, free product is RAMPANT in pretty much every industry. DO you think that movie reviewers pay for their movies? No way no how. For every 100 movie reviews that a reviewer writes he or she will have paid for MAYBE one or two of those films. Why? Because the movie industry has set up a process where they screen films for critics for free, at least in major cities they do. I know this for a fact, I have family in the movie industry. I've been to COUNTLESS press screenings in Los Angeles dating back to the early 80's when my Uncle edited one of the oldest trade publications in Hollywood. It's been my privilege to see some great films days or weeks in advance, including a rough cut of Back to the Future in 1985 and two out of the three Star Wars prequels.

The same thing goes for DVD reviewers, they get FREE copies of the DVDs they review. If they didn't they wouldn't review them, plain and simple. Book reviewers get advanced copies, they show up on eBay all the time (seriously do a search in the books section for ARC or Advance Reader Copies). Plays aren't any different, critics are given passes to early performances or full dress rehersals. This is the way of the industry my friends. Television critics often get cool advance DVDs with episodes on them way before they hit the airwaves.

It doesn't just go for the media either, I worked for Price Club for several years in their buying office. Samples would just show up at work, and though we had a strict no "graft" policy, most of the samples would end up in some employee's hands. Hell I had a Hasbro Millenium Falcon that they gave us as a sample for the toy department on my desk for YEARS in the 90's, and when I left the company they let me take it home. Wasn't just toys either, jewelry, watches, cameras, food, clothing, gifts - you name it, it got sampled.

Did I mention that I haven't paid to get into a major convention since the early 90's either? I went to two or three Wizard World Los Angeles cons, a couple of GenCon Anaheim cons, and I stopped paying for San Diego Comic Con in 1988. Granted I haven't been to one since 1997, but from 1989 to 1996 I didn't pay a thing to get in.

Does this have anything to do with objectivity? Absolutely not. Whether you pay for something or not, as a reviewer you are OBLIGED (get it) to be objective in your opinion. Those who question other's objectivity have issues with their own. As I learned in journalism class, your integrity is the most important thing you can have, you have to be objective to be a journalist. Now, I don't really consider blogging to be professional journalism, it's more of an amateurish kind of thing, that said, bloggers should STILL conform to the rules of professional journalism. They should be fact-checking their articles and confirming their sources. Both Chris and Mario have their own domains, meaning they've paid someone some money to host their site. The don't get any income as far as I know for doing what they do, they do it out of love. Surely they're entitled to some perks along the way.

Now, having said all that, if you have some stuff you'd like ME to review, go ahead and shoot me an email to wmnoe at yahoo dot com, and I'll be happy to review it for you, no matter what it is. I promise to give an unbiased objective opinion as well. Even if it's McFarlane Sports Picks toys. Really.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Good Sports Weekend So Far

It's only Saturday night, and thus far, my favorite teams have done pretty well this weekend. Last night the Los Angeles Kings won a tight game against the Hurricanes in OT on a great shot by Micheal Handzus with an assist by Alexander Frolov. The Kings won their second in a row and got back to .500, and they did it coming from behind. I've been slagging on the Kings now for several seasons because it just didn't seem like they had what it takes to be a contender, and they still might not this season, BUT they looked an awful lot better last night than against the Sharks those first two games of the season.

Might be time to dig out my Hockey card collection from storage. Yes, I used to collect Hockey cards as well, from about 1999 to roughly 2002 I was fairly hardcore with Hockey being my only sports collectable. At the time I was also collecting UDE's Versus game and WizKids Heroclix, as well as toys, so my collecting dollar was being spent all over the place. I've got a couple of 3200 count boxes in storage, that I'm thinking I should go grab one of these days, if nothing else to check my Kings collection and then get rid of everything else. I'm sure I've got some nice RCs in there, though I stopped collecting before Sid the Kid hit the sport.

Because DAMN, I really like that OPC card design, reminds me of some great 80's hockey cards.

UCLA squeaks out victory against the Cardinal 23-20

I started off listening to this game on the radio while I was coming back from the grocery store with my daughter. One thing I knew was going to happen did during the first quarter, Stanford broke their scoreless streak in the Rose Bowl which had been going since 2002. What I didn't know was going to happen was that Kevin Craft would play a phenomenal game yet again.

This was pretty much a "must-win" game for the Bruins, though honestly I think they're all must-wins at this point if they're going to make a bowl game, and even then, that's iffy. I had the chance to actually go to this game, and I turned down tickets because I couldn't convince the wife that sitting in the hot Pasadena sun for four hours on one of her two days off was a good use of her time. She spent the time making a Halloween costume for our daughter instead, and I can't really complain about that. (Click the link to see it).

At one point in the 2nd quarter the Bruins were down 14-3, but they never gave up and never lost sight of a victory. The half ended at 14-6 after Forbath's second field goal. Stanford opened the 3rd quarter with a long drive that ended with UCLA's Ward picking off a Pritchard pass on the Bruins 42. Craft took over on offense but went three plays for -11 yards and the Bruins punted. Fortunately the Cardinal fumbled and the Bruins took over at the Stanford 30. Six plays later the Bruins scored and the game was 14-13.

Forbath kicked a third FG at the start of the 4th quarter and the Bruins led 16-14. Stanford kicked FGs on consecutive possessions and it was 20-16 with about 2:23 remaining and the Bruins started on their own 13 yard line.

On the final series of the game the third-string QB went 6-8 for 60 yards and a TD, but get this, he had completions to FIVE different receivers. Oh and he rushed for a couple of yards too. In the end he was 23 out of 41 for 284 yards, 2 TDs and 1 pick. He did get sacked 7 times though for 44 yards lost, and that's never good, but with UCLA's offensive line being what it is, at least Craft is still healthy.

A little rain must always fall somewhere, sometime

Unfortunately the Red Sox are leading the Rays 2-1 in the top of the 4th at the moment. This does not make me happy at all, because I feel like if the Sox win tonight they'll take the series tomorrow, and then who knows in the World Series. It scares me because IF the Sox make it to the Series, they'll probably go back-to-back, and I would just hate that. Yes, I hate the Sox officially, they've been added to my list of hated teams.

Just because I can, here's that list:

WildWill's Hated Sports Teams

IN order of level of despisedness


  1. New York Yankees
  2. Boston Red Sox
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers (though not NEARLY as much as #1 and #2)


  1. Boston Celtics
  2. New York Knicks


  1. San Francsico 49ers
  2. Denver Broncos
  3. Washington Redskins
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers


  1. Colorado Rockies
  2. Detroit Red Wings
  3. Montreal Canadians
  4. Toronto Maple Leafs
  5. New York Rangers


  1. Univer$ity of $poiled Children
  2. Notre Dame
  3. BYU

Yeah, that's about it. I can't stand any of those teams. In fantasy sports I won't have anyone from those teams on my team. Seriously. Unless I'm collecting a full set, I'll trade those teams away faster than any other.


It's odd, I really want to see a Philadelphia/Tampa Bay World Series just because it would really, really upset Fox Sports. Here they were champing at the bit to air a Boston/Los Angeles matchup and piggyback on the ratings of the last NBA Championships, but NOOOOOOOO....the Phillies had to kill that dream. I'd also like to see the Rays win it all to be honest, I like Joe Maddon (ex-Angel) and they play just like the Halos should be playing.

UCLA Basketball Practice Starts!

The Bruins started practice yesterday, coach Howland choosing to eschew a "midnight madness" type of event, rather he made it a point of having a locked and serious practice saying this in the LA TImes: "There's not much time until the first game, I don't want to waste a practice." Okay, we getcha coach, you're serious about this stuff. Good, we are too. See in Westwood NOTHING is acceptable for our Men's BBall program except a National Championship. Sucks doesn't it? It's especially bad now that Howland has taken the Bruins to three straight final-fours and has three starters returning AND four freshmen pheonoms coming in. As much fun as I had last season following Kevin Love's one and done year, this year could be even better. Though improving on a 35-4 season is going to be difficult, I have no doubt that this is the year we hang #12

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chris Mims - Former San Diego Charger - Dead at age 38

From the Los Angeles Times:
by Sam Farmer

Chris Mims, a starting defensive end on San Diego's only Super Bowl team, was found dead Wednesday in his downtown Los Angeles apartment.

Mims, 38, was discovered by police around 9:30 a.m. at his residence in the 600 block of S. Flower Street.

Police said there was no evidence of foul play. The coroner's office did not give an immediate cause of death, pending an autopsy and toxicology report.

A first-round draft pick of the Chargers in 1992, Mims was a standout at Dorsey High and in junior college at Pierce, Harbor and Southwest before transferring to Tennessee.

He showed a lot of promise early in his career, collecting 11 sacks in the 1994 season when San Diego won the AFC championship and played San Francisco in the Super Bowl. He had just two sacks the next season, however, and ran afoul of coaches when he missed meetings and had several off-the-field problems. Among his legal troubles over the years were charges of assault, vandalism, and driving under the influence.

But some former San Diego players say Mims, who played at 300 pounds or heavier, was a well-liked member of the team.

"He was never a problem for the team," former Chargers linebacker Gary Plummer said. "He was just a happy-go-lucky guy. Coaches don't always like a defensive player who's jovial and laughing all the time. They want somebody who's going to go out and rip someone's head off. That wasn't Chris."

Mims spent five seasons with San Diego, then played one season for the Washington Redskins before returning to the Chargers for the 1998 and '99 seasons. His career ended in 2000, when he was cut in training camp by Chicago after missing a practice because he overslept.

"When I first got [to San Diego] I was good for the situation. When I came back [in 1998] I wasn't good for the situation," he told the Chicago Tribune in 2000. "I don't think the coaching staff was comfortable with me and I wasn't with them. I wasn't mad; I was relieved. I was just sitting on the fence and waiting for something to knock me off."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


It's odd when someone famous dies, at first one's reaction is shock and of course a lament that you'll never get to see that person perform again. However, when the famous person is someone that you have a personal connection to, it's a whole other story. Example: when Paul Newman died a few weeks ago I was shocked and sad that America had lost one of her best actors and a great humanitarian. That said, I never met Mr. Newman, I only followed his career from the time I could remember who he was (which let's face it, was probably only in the late 70's). Don't get me wrong, I love his films, especially The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke and Nobody's Fool, but the impact of his passing on my life is pretty small.

NOW, this afternoon as I'm feeding my daughter lunch I'm reading the Sports section of the L.A. Times and I'm actually jolted by the headline. Mims wasn't a good friend of mine, no, but he was someone that I had met on a number of occasions at training camp and he was one of the nicest players one could meet. Over the course of a couple years he signed no less than five trading cards of mine (four of which are scanned below) and we spoke about practice and how the Chargers were going to do that year. Mims was a stand up individual who had a stellar first couple of seasons and as the article above stated, got himself into some trouble and cut short his career after 8 years, but I'll remember those glorious early years when he was terrorizing the opposing quarterbacks.

So today let's mourn his passing and remember his play on the field. RIP Chris.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I am officially a professional writer!

I just got paid for my first professionally written article! It's not much, and it's on a topic that while I do have a background in (security), it's not my forte. I'd much rather be professionally writing about toys, comics or trading cards. But it's a start.

I have to thank my wife for sending me the link to the request for submissions. I'm extremely excited and I feel like this is just the beginning. I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, and even though I don't spend nearly the amount of time writing that I should, it's something that I really do love doing.

I might go celebrate and get some more cards, then I can blog about those, but in the meantime I need to write my second article, "How to Secure your Windows".

Image stolen from

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Requiem for a Season

This isn't news, the Angels season is over. It was over Monday night, I just needed a day or so the let that digest and start transitioning into my Fall/Winter sports.

The season itself was a great one for the Halos, they hit a franchise record 100 wins on the last day of the season, they clinched a playoff berth earlier than any other team and had the best record in baseball. They also had a reliever break the 19 year old saves record. Most teams would kill for a season like the one the Angels just finished.

Most teams aren't the Angels.

This season we had a $123 million payroll, that's good for sixth highest in the majors. Out of the top 10 aggregate salaries on opening day, only half made the playoffs, and not a single one of the top 3 did (Yankees, Tigers, Mets). Owner Arte Moreno has said publically that he wants to keep the payroll about the same next season, and the Angels have quite a few players eligible for free agency. They are:

  • Mark Teixeira 1B - Acquired just before the trade deadline for Casey Kotchman and a minor leaguer. Tex is the absolute must sign of the group, he was a monster in his time with the Halos and really played his heart out in his first post-season experience. His agent is the infamous Scott Boras though, so signing him will be costly, as he's looking at a bump from his $15 million salary in 2008, plus he'll be looking for a long-term deal. Be that as it may, it makes great business sense to sign this guy, since he'll be a perrenial All-Star and is in his prime. If the Angels somehow don't sign Tex, there are some young guys on the roster who can take his place, but then the trade of Kotchman will hurt just a bit more.

  • Francisco Rodriguez P - The Halos closer just set a major league record for most saves in a single season, and wants to test the free-agent market. That's fine, since down the stretch he seemed to lose his consistency, and actually blew quite a few saves this season. He also single handedly lost game 2 for the Angels in the ALDS, and fans aren't going to forget that one. He lost in arbitration before the 2008 season started, as he was looking for $12.5 million and the Angels ended up giving him $10 million. Fortunately the bullpen is stocked and there are several options that pitching coach Mike Butcher has to work with.

  • Juan Rivera OF - Rivera is an important backup at the moment, and could become even more valuable in the next season or two. He's got great power and is solid in the field, and he's also inexpensive. He made just over $2 million in '08, and even a modest increase wouldn't put him out of the Halos price-range. Even though he'll be attractive to other clubs, hopefully he'll re-sign for under $5 million.

  • Garrett Anderson OF - GA has played his entire career for the Halos, and I for one would like to see him retire as an Angel. He's played long enough to have earned his spot in the Angels HOF, and it would be a shame to let him leave. The Angels do have a club option for $14 Million for 2009, or a $3 Million buyout. Let's hope that they re-sign and extend him for the rest of his career. I can see him becoming a valuable coach for us after retirement. Arte and Tony Reagans should treat him right.

  • Jon Garland P - Acquired in the off-season via a trade with the White-Sox, Garland was kind of a lame-duck pitcher in his final contract year. His 14 wins this year was the second highest in his career, but not close to his two 18-win seasons in '05 and '06 for the Sox. He made $12 Million this year and will be a hot commodity this off-season. If he walks it won't be quite as bad a hit as it seems, since Kelvim Escobar should be back next season taking his spot in the rotation. If he DOES re-sign though, the Halos will have a tough decision since they'll have six or seven guys fighting to get into a five-man rotation.

  • Darren Oliver P - Reliver who's been with the Angels for awhile, and isn't making big dough even though he's in his 13th season. I wouldn't expect the Angels to offer him much of a salary increase, and if he leaves it won't be the end of the world. Still, he's a valued member of the bullpen and brings a veteran attitude to the young pitchers. Guys like Bulger and Jepsen can really learn from Oliver.

  • Vladimir Guerrero OF - For the sake of completion, we have to list Vladdy, since his contract is up this year, but the Angels have a club option for 2009. The only way they wouldn't exercise that option would be if the sky fell down, so expect to see Vlad in Halo red for at least another season.

In addition to those guys, the Angels will certainly be in the C. C. Sabathia sweepstakes, unless by some miracle they sign Frankie and Tex, and there are a ton of other great free-agents out there. This will be an interesting off-season to see if the country's economic slow-down has any effect on baseball at all.


Hockey starts in a few days, so there's still hope that the Kings will make the playoffs. Their first game is October 11, so my guess is that they'll be out of contention by the end of October.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still a fan of the L.A. Kings, it's just that the last several years have brought too much heart-ache and disappointment for me to really care that much about them. First, they haven't made the playoffs since 2002, which is the longest they've gone without making the post-season. Second, they traded my second favorite player on the roster Michael Cammalieri, and even though he wasn't performing up to standards, he was gritty and brought a great attitude to the game. Third and definitely the most important, the ownership of the Kings, AEG Group, has no intention of paying the money it requires to put a winner on the ice, yet they'll pay an astronomic amount to some English guy to play half a season for the Galaxy.

I've attended at least one Kings game every season since I moved back to Los Angeles in September of 1998, and I even attended one last season, though that was a gift. I cannot seriously see myself buying tickets to a Kings game this season unless they really turn it around and become contenders for a playoff-spot right away. This is what happens in the fourth-most popular sport when your ownership doesn't care anymore. They can hype up the season all they want, but in the end, unless they pay to put a quality product on the ice, it won't matter.

I will say this though, the Kings are very, very young, and full of talent. Plus they still have Alexander Frolov, who is my favorite player on the ice, and Anze Kopitar who has tons of raw talent and potential. Due to the fact that they've sucked on ice for several seasons in a row the Kings have gotten great draft-picks, so now it's time to see if they're worth the hype.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Training Camp Autos - The 90's Chargers Part 1 - The Brain Trust

If you recall, I lost a binder of cards, thankfully I found it this afternoon. It wasn't actually lost, I just put it in a different color binder and forgot about it. The binder was exactly where it should have been, next to my Chargers Autograph binder, which has a number of great cards from the 90's that I got personally autographed at Charger training camp from 1993 to 1997. Over the next few weeks I'll spotlight a those cards and players and share my experiences as an autograph hound. If this series goes well, I might even dig out my Hockey autographs from L.A. Kings training camps.

My first experience with NFL training camp was circa 1992 when I attended a Charger scrimmage at Mesa Community College where I was taking some classes at the time. You got to stand right next to the sidelines, and in one instance Rod Bernstine, Tight-End extraordinaire almost ran me over trying to catch a sideline pass. You really do not realize how big NFL players are until they almost run you over. While I was collecting cards at the time, I didn't realize that I could get them autographed at camp, until I saw quite a few other folks trying to get autos. Best part was, the players were all signing and being gracious about it as well. A buddy of mine suggested that I bring some cards, which I had, and I managed to get this 91 Pro Set issue signed by the head-coach Dan Henning.

Henning wouldn't last much longer after I got this signed, but somehow I managed to meet the next coach, Bobby Ross at the next scrimmage and managed to get him to sign his 1992 Pro Set card.

This nice thing about Pro Set was that they made cards for more players than any other company at the time, including the head-coaches. Unfortunately no one ever made cards for General Managers, which in all honesty isn't that surprising. Nevertheless after watching the Chargers practice at UCSD one day I ventured over to La Jolla Shores beach, where I happened to meet then GM Bobby Beathard. I recall that at the time there was a big controversy over one of the big players and whether or not he would sign (I THINK that it was Stan Humphries, and this was 1995 after he took them to the Super-Bowl, but my memory is fading). Beathard was extremely polite, after all I had just come from training camp and had binders full of autographed cards in my car, so he could tell I was a fan. I may have also been wearing my Chargers Super-Bowl Sweatshirt. He was kind enough to sign a Junior Seau card, because at the time I couldn't think of a better representative of the franchise.

One other nice perk about camp was that they used to give out a ton of cool free items, as well as a roster-sheet that listed everyone at camp that day, by name and number. Most of the time invitees don't have their name on the back of their jerseys, so unless you have this sheet it's really difficult to tell who the players are. Here's one of the two that I still have, you'll notice in the top right corner it's numbered 9.1 - well, they put out separate sheets for each practice on two-a-days.

Well, even I know that a roster sheet isn't all that exciting, but what about oversized player cards? I'm pretty sure that these were a stadium giveaway that got left over, but it didn't matter to me, I was able to get a few signed, which was especially cool because these players really didn't have other issues, as they weren't necessarily first stringers. Check out the back on the Jefferson, they're all pretty much like that. They make great display pieces to be sure.

Here's two more:

Then there are the magazines, each one was published by the Chargers and while they're kind of thin, they are packed full of good information and nice photos.

The May edition has a great article on the 1993 draft picks, and as I was flipping through it I noticed that I had gotten Darren Carrington's autograph inside. There's a story behind that autograph and the other one that I have of his, but that's for next time.

Halos vs. the Chowds - Round Two - FIGHT!

In a scant couple of hours we'll see the Angels hosting the Red Sox for Game Two, and as a die-hard Halo fan, I'm seriously hoping that history changes tonight and we tie up the series at one win apiece. I'll be making a tray of enchiladas tonight in honor of Arte Moreno and the Angels.

Celebration Weekend

I've got a ton of things on tap this weekend and celebrations galore. Tomorrow my wife and I celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary, and then Sunday is our daughter's second birthday, and we are throwing a party in her honor.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Geeze Louise

So I'm scrolling down my Google Reader list of card blogs that I read on a regular basis, and I see no less than FOUR pictures of the Sarah Palin Topps card that will be inserted into Topps Updates and Highlights Baseball which is releasing soon. That means that at LEAST four bloggers that I like and respect have posted their thoughts on the damn thing. I only recently got added to Upper Deck's Press Release email list, and I'm not on Topps as of yet, so I knew about this card, but not ahead of anyone else.

Trader Crack looks like he had the first entry, saying "Gimmick lameness aside, politicians shouldn't have ANY attempted sex appeal. It also goes to show how seriously her running is being taken."

Dave and Adam's Card World which is about the most uncontroversial blog out there merely points out the release.

Cardboard Junkie


Playoffs Begin TODAY!

The wait is over, the MLB Playoffs start today with a slate of three games. The Phillies are hosting the Brewers (no score, top of the 3rd as of this writing), the Dodgers are in Chicago taking on the Cubs in a couple hours, and then our Western Division Champions take on the hated Red Sox later tonight. The Chicago White Sox will play the Tampa Bay Rays beginning tomorrow.

The pennant races were actually pretty darn interesting this season, with more than one coming down to the last weekend of play. The White Sox actually had to play a make-up game with the Tigers on Monday due to a rainout earlier in the season. If they had lost that game the Twins would have automatically made it in. Since they won, the Sox and the Twins had to play a one-game playoff which was a great pitching duel won by a 7th inning Jim Thome homer.

All eight of the playoff teams deserve to be there, there's no sliding into the playoffs in MLB. What's interesting is that on the AL side, three of the four teams have won the World Series since 2002 (Halos in '02, Boston in '04 and '07 and Chicago in '05) that's four out of the last six World Series, which you have to think bodes well for which ever AL team wins out.

On the NL side, we're looking at a long time in between World Series victories. The Dodgers are actually the most recent of the three NL teams that have won the title, last winning in 1988. The Phillies have only won one World Series in their history, despite being in existence since 1883, and that title came way back in 1980. Their last WS appearance was in 1993 when Mitch Williams gave up that famous game-winning dinger to Joe Carter. The Brewers became the first team in MLB history to make the playoffs in both the AL and the NL, however, it's been a LONG time in between appearances for them; they made their one and only other playoff appearance in 1982, defeating the Halos in the ALDS and then losing to the Cardinals in the World Series. We all know that the Cubs have waited since 1908 for another WS title, and haven't even been to the big dance since the end of World War II! Yes, they've made the playoffs the last two seasons and three times total in the 21st Century, but they're still 100 years away from their last World Series victory.

Playoffs on Demand

Wow, I just checked out the MLB site, and apparently they're streaming each post-season game live as a part of TBS Hot Corner, but with four different camera feeds, one from the mound, one from the plate, one from the center field camera and one from the dugout. It's kind of difficult to figure out the action, but it's rather nifty. Here, check out a pic:

The "live" stream really isn't live either, it's about 30 seconds behind the the television feed, which is usually a couple of seconds behind the actual live action. There are no announcers on the audio either, just the sounds of the game itself, which is a mixed-bag in of itself, because you really can't tell what's going on in the game once the pitch is hit.

It's only available for the division series and the ALCS, so if you want to check it out, do so soon.

Kevin Jepsen Update

Interestingly enough, the playoff roster that I posited on September 17 became a reality on September 29, as Mike Sciosia must have read my blog and decided that I knew what was best for the Angels. if. Seriously though, I suppose that I must be pretty dialed into the Angels lineup this season. I'm really glad that Jepsen made the post-season roster, despite only appearing in 8 games with 8 1/3rd innings pitched total. Of course the teams can change their rosters in between rounds, so who knows what the Skipper might do should the Angels advance. I did just now purchase Jepsen's 02 Bowman Chrome RC for $1.20 and $2.00 shipping.

Team Trading Update

I have sent out all packages owed to everyone, and I'm pretty sure I'm not expecting anything else. I still have nice packs of 40-50 cards INCLUDING super-stars, for pretty much every team in the bigs. If you want one or more of these, please email me at wmnoe at yahoo dot com and let's set something up.

eBay Update

I don't have anything of interest for sale at the moment, unless you like Harry Potter Chocolate Frog Cards, WWE Action Figures or The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Figures.

Ending Notes

Here's how long this entry took me to write, it's now the top of the 7th and the Phillies are up 3 - 0.