Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Rosenthal's HOF Picks and Mine -- Trammel, Schilling and Mussina

Mine, from an earlier blog:

Griffey
Trammell
Bonds
Clemens
Piazza
Bagwell
McGwire OR Sosa
Schilling
Mussina
Martinez OR Hoffman

Rosenthal's MVP Ballot:

Bagwell
Bonds
Clemens
Griffey
Hoffman
Martinez
Mussina
Piazza
Raines
Schilling

Notes:

Our lists are essentially the same, except that I chose Trammell and McGwire (or Sosa) and Rosenthal left those guys completely off his ballot. He chose Raines, who I left off my ballot for reasons explained in my blog, linked above. He also chose Edgar Martinez AND Trevor Hoffman, while I was only willing to choose one of those guys, because a) Martinez essentially pinch-hit 4 or 5 times a game (even David Ortiz has played the field more--and better--than Edgar) and because b) Hoffman essentially pitched one inning every three days or so, on average. In other words, these guys were specialists who simply didn't play as often as everyone else.

Alan Trammel, a shockingly underappreciated player (by me, too, until recently, and still by Rosenthal), played the field, every game, at a high level for a very long time, and was one of the top shortstops ever, according to JAWS. Even better than Jeter, and other HOF shortstops. His numbers (below the JAWS stats) show that he was better than your average HOF shortstop.  In other words, he should be a HOF shortstop. (You should view his stats at baseball-reference.com, here.)

That means more to me than a guy who pinch hits a few times a game and never fielded. And you can't say that Martinez played his position well, and it's not his fault he didn't play the field as a DH...except that Edgar Martinez was a truly awful defensive player, to a very heavy, negative degree (look at his page at baseball-reference.com). He was so bad that, yes, he was a DH because he couldn't field, not because everyone else was already on the field and you had to hit him somewhere. The Mariners correctly kept him off the field because he was a defensive liability, to the tune of over -9.7.  That's bad. And Hoffman? His heaviest workload as a closer was in 1996, when he pitched 88 innings. (You can see his baseball-reference page here.)

Overall I'm okay with Rosenthal's picks. I'd rather he have chosen Trammel over Raines, but as I mentioned in my blog entry about my picks, I feel Raines is HOF worthy as well. But not as much as Trammel. Sportswriters have dropped the ball on Trammel for the 15th (and, alas) last time. But I'm confident the Veterans Committee (or whatever it's called now) will fix that wrong in a hurry.

Lastly, baseball-reference.com's JAWS says that Curt Schilling is the 27th best starting pitcher in baseball history, and way ahead of the HOF average pitcher. And Mike Mussina is 28th!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

M101-2 Sporting News Supplement Bob Harmon


Photo: 1911 M101-2 Sporting News Supplement Bob Harmon of the St. Louis Cardinals, from my own collection.

First, I had a helluva time getting this picture into my computer, as it would only scan as a .pdf, and then wouldn't load into this software for this website.  I had to scan it again, CONTROL + ALT + PRINT SCREEN, save it into Paint, then crop that, then save that as a jpeg., then bring it to this page. I don't know if you can see the big size of it like you could my other cards written about here.  If someone knows of a better way around this for me--or how I can make my scanner not scan larger images as a .pdf, please comment here and let me know.  Or send me an email, if you'd prefer.  I appreciate it!

Anyway, I saw lots of these images up for bid on ebay from PWCC, where I get a lot of stuff.  I've heard of these before, but had never seen them.  The inages were striking, and I saved them all from my Watch screen on Ebay before I deleted them from it when the bids climbed too high.  In good condition, these can go for hundreds, and a good condition HOFer, like Ty Cobb, can bring crazy prices.  I really wanted a Jake Stahl one of these, and I forget why I deleted it.  I didn't know much about the cost and value of these, and this one climbed over $30, so I backed off.  It was one of the best shots I saw, right up there with Clark Griffith standing on the dugout steps, and Connie Mack standing in his suit.  Truly awesome pics, but they got really expensive.  If only I were rich.

So this one of Bob Harmon is ripped in the lower left corner, as you can see, so it cost me only $9.50. The shipping was $12, but when I won other cards (some Ted Williams and Clementes and a few others), those were only $.25 more after that, so it averaged out to $1.15 for each of the 13 (yes, I know it's crazy) items I got.

These very large photos are not considered cards, per se, as there were actual Sporting News cards published after these supplements proved popular with the public.  The photographers must've been amongst the best of their time, because these images are all classically striking.  I wish I could've gotten them all. Unfortunately, this is the only one I got.

These supplements were just that: included in issues of The Sporting News between 1909 and 1911, which in itself looked more like a newspaper than a magazine, just like it does today.  They were often folded, which is not considered a detriment to their value, but they are extremely thin and therefore very fragile.  Mine would've sold for over $30 had it not been a little torn, and Bob Harmon was just a common player.

He was a tough-luck pitcher who could've done much better, or much worse.  He led the league in 1911 in game starts, earned runs and walks, but finished 23-16 with a 3.13 ERA and was 14th in the MVP voting.  His WHIP was a bad 1.35, and he walked more than he struck out, so this was a rather lucky season.  His luck would not last, though, as he went 13-17 and 16-17 for Pittsburgh a few years later, but with ERAs of 2.53 and 2.50.  He had losing records every year and spent 1917 out of the majors, but returned with Pittsburgh in 1918 and had the best WHIP of his career, a very good 1.06--though he still walked more than he struck out.  He finished 2-7 that year, which proved to be his last.

His career record was 107-133, with a 3.33 ERA and a 1.3 WHIP, but only gave up 1,966 hits in 2,054 innings.  If he could've found the strike zone a little more often, he may have been one of the best, because they couldn't often hit him.

But, then again, had he been much better, I wouldn't have been able to afford him.



Sunday, December 13, 2015

"Stoney" Ulysses S. Grant McGlynn T206




Photos: 1910 Admiral Schlei, Catching, Sweet Caporal 350 / 30 and 1910 Stoney McGlynn, Piedmont 350 / 25, from my own collection

So these are two T206s I got much earlier this year, both replacing identical cards that were in poor condition. Both cards were in ungraded and very poor condition, with no hope of grading higher if I'd sent them to a grading company.  Both were purchased during my rookie days of T206 collecting, when I thought these cards were much harder, and much more expensive, to obtain than they really are.

Not that they're cheap, of course.

I bought 12 T206s in this batch, from July, with the total cost of shipping for all 12 just $6.50.  That's just $.54 per card.  So the McGlynn card, in PSA 2 Good condition, cost $26 and $.54 shipping, for a total of $26.54.  The Schlei card, in PSA 3 VG condition, was $43, with $.54 shipping, for a total of $43.54.  Both are in the upper tier of what I consider to be allowable prices for me to buy.

The very up-to-date T206 valuation website I use places the McGlynn card at $33 and the Beckett Graded book value (BV) is $40.  So that's a profit of between $6.46 to $13.46.  The real profit is on the lower end of that; you can get a T206 in PSA 2 Good condition on Ebay for between $25 to $35, routinely, for a common T206.  Anything below that is a steal (I've had some in the teens) and anything above that is a rip-off (I won't buy a common T206 in good condition for over $33).

The Schlei card is valued at the T206 website at $49 and the Beckett book's BV is $40.  So that's a loss of $3.54 or a profit of $5.46.  I knew I may have overspent a tiny bit on this one, which I justified because a) Schlei cards are a little more expensive in Ebay bidding, for some reason, and b) it was a little personal because this was one of the first cards I bought as a T206 rookie and I was eager to replace my mistake.  Also, I'd lost out on quite a few Schlei T206s, for some reason, even though there are three Schlei T206 variations (he was a popular NY Giant player).  Anyway, I find the website's valuation a little more up-to-date Ebay accurate, which I can attest to because he was such a pain in the butt to finally get.

So I basically break even on these two cards.  That's not usually good enough for me, but, like I said, they were replacements, and one was oddly personal.  I know that's a bad rule of business--buying when it's personal--but the Schlei was such an incredible hassle to finally get, it was worth it for me.

I'll go into McGlynn's background and save Schlei's for another time, since I've got his two other cards.

Background and Career

Ulysses Simpson Grant McGlynn was born in 1872 and played his first major-league game in 1906, at age 34, which is very old for a rookie, of any time, of any team.  He played for the St. Louis Cardinals his only three seasons in the majors, 1906-1908, which is a harsh thing to wish upon anybody.  His "best" or most productive year was in 1907, when he finished 14-25.  This isn't as bad as it looks.

The Cardinals that year finished 52-101, which means he won and lost a quarter of his team's wins and losses, which is a ton for just one pitcher.  He led the league with his 25 losses, but he also led the league with 39 game starts and 33 complete games, which means the team didn't think he was costing them games.  (They wouldn't have let him start and complete so many games otherwise.) This also means they realized they were terrible, and that he was their best chance to win, for whatever that was worth. He was probably the best pitcher on a very bad team. He led the league with 352 1/3 innings pitched, which makes sense if he leads the league in GS and CG.  He also led the league in hits allowed, but only gave up 329, which is really good for 352 IP.  But he also led the league in earned runs allowed, with 114, which--given the few hits he gave up versus innings he pitched--means he allowed a lot of walks, which he did: 112, which also led the league. That led to a 1.25 walks + hits per inning pitched, which is not good, but also not terrible.  His ERA was 2.91, in a time when plenty of pitchers had ERAs much higher and much lower than that.  But it was not close to being the highest that year, which means that his record still should have been much better than it was.  He probably pitched in a lot of bad luck, and his team didn't score much for him (I looked at his lineup, and it wasn't good), and he probably pitched just bad enough to lose a lot of the time.  Still, his record would've been at .500 or a little higher if he'd been on a better team.  He would've been the bottom-of-the-rotation pitcher for a better team and wouldn't have led the league in anything, but he would've been better. He was 2-2 the year before and 1-6 after, with ERAs that were still pretty good, but he pitched for St. Louis when they were not good.

(Though he did play with HOFer Jake Beckley, who played in the majors between 1888 to 1907, which means he was one of the few players to have an Old Judge baseball card and a T206.  Clark Griffith was another. Beckley finished with 2,934 hits and also finished in the top-90 in most offensive and defensive categories.  This justifies his selection for the Hall by the Veterans Committee 53 years after he died.  When that many years passes after a player's death and then he gets elected by the Veterans Committee, you wonder, but he was not one of the Veterans Committee's many bonehead picks. Beckley was also born in 1867 in Hannibal, Missouri, so he may have known Mark Twain, who was also born there.)

Astute readers may wonder why I have a 1910 T206 of a player released in 1908.  Answer: T206s have both major league and minor league players in the set.  And minor leaguers are that in name only. From 1909 to 1912 he played for the minor league Milwaukee Brewers, a good minor league team at the time.  He twice won over 20 games for them and played for them until he was 39.  He left the game for a year and then came back for Salt Lake City, and then did the same and returned with El Paso.  And then he was done.  He was probably paid just as well--if not better--in the minors than he had been in the majors.  The minor league teams were not owned and run by the majors at the time, and often held on to their good players before they sold them or traded them to a major league team.  Major league teams also traded players to minor league or independent league teams all the time, who then sometimes traded them to other major league teams.  Players also jumped teams all the time, and were sometimes made to go back.  Other times they did not go back, but could not enter a city or state sometimes of the team they'd jumped.  Players also jumped leagues all the time, as late as 1915, when many star and HOF players jumped to the new Federal League.

The game was simply run differently back then.

McGlynn played for Independent League and Minor League teams before he hit the majors, too.  My guess is that he played for bigger crowds in his minor league days, especially for Milwaukee, than he did for the 100-game losing St. Louis major league team.  Regardless, I'd be surprised if he thought of himself as unlucky for his major league time.  He was not a Doc "Moonlight" Graham.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Mike Trout




Photos: Fronts and backs of my 2011 Mike Trout Bowman rookie cards, from my collection.

So, as promised, here are the Mike Trout RCs I spoke of in my last post.  As I mentioned, I don't typically buy recent cards.  Like, ever; I mostly do T206s, 1933 Goudeys, the 1887-1890 Old Judges, and Topps and Bowman HOFers pre-1960.

I made an exception this year for these three Mike Trout RCs, plus the Bryce Harper RC shown recently, and a Paul Goldschmidt and Jose Altuve RC, because they were very cheap, in mint condition, and of undervalued, under-rated players I believe have a good chance to be stars for a very long time.  Goldschmidt's RC values will go up, especially when he hits free agency and plays for a team collectors care about.  I mean, nobody cares about the Arizona Diamondbacks these days.

Anyway, as I also mentioned, the Mike Trout / Bowman situation was confusing, and took me awhile to come to terms with.  In essence, there are rookie cards that are actually rookie cards, and rookie cards that Ebay sellers say are rookie cards but that aren't, and rookie cards that people believe are rookie cards because they were released during the same season as the player's actual rookie cards, and rookie cards that are not rookie cards because they're prospect cards.  A rookie card is not necessarily the first card released of that player by a major card company.  (Those are now prospect cards and minor league cards.  This is confusing for those of us old enough to remember when the prospect cards from the, say, 1980 and 1981 Topps sets were the actual rookie cards.  Now they aren't.)  A rookie card is the first card made of a player once MLB has decided that he has made enough at-bats, or has pitched in enough games, to qualify as a rookie player.  This can often be a few years after the player has been in the big leagues, and long after his cards have started to appear.

So...the Mike Trout cards shown here (in the first photo, starting at the top and going clockwise) are:

a) ungraded Bowman Draft #101
b) Bowman Chrome Draft #101, graded 9.5 Gem Mint by Beckett (I love that case, by the way, though I don't like the BCCG case, which is also Beckett, just to add to the confusion)
c) Bowman Chrome #175, graded 9 Mint by PSA.

Though the swinging photos of the drafts are the same, and though the number on the back, and the design on the back, are the same, these are different cards.  One's a Chrome, and one's not, and that's just the way it is.  Everything else about them is the same, except the Chrome's picture is maybe not as bright and clear.

The first card, the Bowman Draft, cost me $19.38, including shipping.  I'm frankly taking a chance on it, hoping it'll be graded a 9 or 10.  If it isn't, I've got the other two that are, and this one's a gift for one of two people I know will love to have it, regardless of condition.  They're not as serious about this as I am.  It'll cost me about $7 more to get it graded, shipped and insured, so the total I'd invested in it by then would be $26.38.  At that figure, this card needs to grade an 8.5 to break even.  These values have risen recently in the Beckett Graded guide, and I believe they'll continue to do so.  By the time the next issue comes out, it may only need to grade an 8 for me to break even.

The next one, the Bowman Chrome Draft #101, graded 9.5 Gem Mint by Beckett, has a book value (BV) of $100.  It cost me $50.50, which includes shipping.  This card has also increased in value recently, and I believe it will continue to do so.  You can never assume you can re-sell something for the BV, but I believe this card will come close.  Often you're lucky to get 50% of BV when re-selling, but I believe I can sell this at one of my summer yard sales for $75, which is 75% of the BV.  If I were a baseball card picker, which I suppose I am, I would make a profit from this card of at least $25, especially from baseball fans or card collectors who don't like to use the internet.  Lots of those come to my occasional yard sales.

The last one, the Bowman Chrome #175, graded 9 Mint by PSA, I paid a little more for: $58.51, including shipping. Its BV is $80, which has also gone up recently.  Only a $22 profit on this one, if I ever need to re-sell it, but I believe it'll be worth more by that time.

So why the exception for Mike Trout?  Why buy all three of his Bowman RCs?

Well, first, go to his baseball-reference page here, and take a look at these numbers.

In the only four full years of his career, he's finished 2nd in the MVP voting and has won it once.

He bats leadoff (a move I don't like, and it hasn't helped the Angels) and hits lots of homeruns and drives in a lot of runs, and steals bases and walks (and Ks) a lot, for silly high on-base percentages. As an example of how well he does these things, in his MVP year he led the league in runs scored and in runs batted in.  That's very, very rare, to do that in the same year.  That's a Ruth / Mantle / Williams / Mays thing to do.  Of those, only Mantle and Mays had the same combination of speed and power.  But Mantle ruined his knees and ankles and Mays only showed off his speed on defense after awhile.

Ah, yes--the defense.  He makes acrobatic catches normally.  He doesn't have a great throwing arm, but he can run and go get it as well as anybody.  His first two years he was a web gem about to happen.

Every season he's played, he's led the AL in WAR and in Offensive WAR.  He's been in the top-4 in Slugging % and in OBS.  Top-3 in Runs Scored, Homers, Triples and Walks.  Top-2 in Runs Created, Adjusted Batting Runs and Adjusted Batting Wins.  And Base-Out Runs Added and -Wins Added. And Top-3 in Putouts as an Outfielder, which means he can really go get 'em, and his pitching staff gives up lots of flyballs.

An average CF in the HOF will have 27 Black Ink statistics.  He's already got 20--in just four years. An average HOF CF will have 144 Grey Ink stats.  He's got 77--in just four years.  An average HOF CF will have a 100 HOF Monitor.  He's at 75 already.  The HOFer will score a 50 in HOF standards.  He's at 31 after four years.  He's already the 40th best CF to ever play, and is compared favorably to Mantle, Frank Robinson and Jimmie Foxx.  His 7-year peak is almost that of the average HOFer--in just four years.

And when next baseball season comes around on April 1st, he'll be 23 years old.

And he's the one the ballplayers themselves say is the best right now.  They talk about him like the real old-timers talked about Ruth and Honus Wagner.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Mike Trout 2011 Bowman Draft RC





Photos: from my own collection

Here's a Mike Trout Bowman Draft rookie card.

This is not to be confused with the 2011 Mike Trout Bowman Chrome rookie card, or the 2011 Mike Trout Bowman Chrome Draft rookie card.  Both cards with "draft" in the name are #101, while the Chrome is #175.  Go figure.  What I can tell you is that when I went to bid on these, and the many dozens of other options that showed up, I had to look at my Beckett Graded book to see which one was which time and time again, since the three different cards also have different values.  I had to stop a few times and adjust my eyes, and it doesn't help that the listings on Ebay are often misleading or flat-out incorrect.  The sellers didn't seem to know what they were selling, at times, since some said they were selling a Bowman Chrome when they were actually selling a Bowman Chrome Draft.  There were many other misleading tags as well.  Crazy. And, oh yeah, there are tons of bunched-together listings in the Beckett book, and they tended to blur together after awhile, too.

I also had to look at the established Mike Trout rookie cards from cardboardconnection.com, which lists the actual rookie cards of every important player.  This is now necessary, since there are so many cards that say "rookie" or "RC" on them, but they're not actual rookies, they just got released in the player's rookie year.  That makes it a rookie, right?  No, because there are so many subsets from the same card company that not each of them are considered rookies.  Plus, there are a lot of "prospect" cards, which used to mean rookie, but now doesn't.  And some players have a rookie card even before their rookie year or their prospect card--see: Mark McGwire's Olympics card, which is his rookie.

For those who're wondering, Mike Trout's only rookie cards are: 2011 Bowman Chrome #175; 2011 Bowman Chrome Draft #101; 2011 Bowman Draft #101; 2011 Bowman Sterling #22 (Good luck! That one's BV is $150 for a NmMt 8 and $500 for a Gem 9.5 / 10); 2011 Finest Baseball #94 and 2011 Topps Update #US175.  (See how the Chrome and Topps is #175?  That's because Topps owns Bowman, but all the Bowman Draft sets and subsets are #101.)  That's a lot to see, and blur through, while you're sorting out listings by condition, cost, reputation and listing accuracy--the last of which was terrible!

And thank you to Cardboard Connection for providing those separate rookie and prospect listings.

By the way, did you know that prospect cards are released before the rookie cards, so you'll see them before you see the rookie cards, which used to be the ones you'd see first?  And some prospect cards are traded and bought like they're rookies, and are often worth much more than the rookie cards!

Anyway, as I mentioned in the previous Bryce Harper entry, I don't usually buy recent rookie cards. Bryce Harper is an exception worth taking a chance on.  Mike Trout is an exception you have to take a chance on.  Trout is a no-brainer, like Pujols was, but more so, because Pujols was so obvious, and so alone in the field of new players at the time, that he didn't even have to be awesome to be the one to buy at that time.

Mike Trout is different because he is shoulders above some very impressive newer players in the past few years.  Bryce Harper also stands out almost as much.  But there's also Paul Goldschmidt, the most underrated player in baseball, who's finished second in the MVP voting the past two straight years, and who noticed?  Very quiet player who plays for a very bad team; had he played for the Yankees, we'd be talking about him like we do Trout and Harper.  (I've been trying to get a Goldschmidt rookie, too, though I have far surpassed my holiday spending.  But a Mint Condition Goldschmidt Topps Update RC is only $10--and that's Buy It Now, not even bidding.  (Bids tend to be a few bucks cheaper.)  Anyway, I feel Goldschmidt is a sleeper, and I'm going to get his rookie now while it's cheap.  I just did the same with Jose Altuve's, which is just plain cheap; I got 7 Altuve Bowman RCs for $7, including shipping.  Ungraded, sure, but I gave to a friend the one with a few corner dings, and I'll send the best of the others to get graded and take my chances.

And we haven't talked about Rizzo, or Correa, or Arrieta, or any of the other ones.  These last 3-4 years have been amongst the best three to four year stretch for rookies since the early 90s.

Anyway, Mike Trout stands way above all of these guys, and the collectors seem to know it, since his ungraded Bowman cards sell for about $20 when bidding, and over $30 for Buy It Now.  Lots of buyers are Buying It Now, too, which tells me they're in very high demand, since experienced Ebay shoppers would rather spend $10 more just to know they can get one.

I spent $19.38 for the one pictured above, and that includes shipping.

So I'm taking a chance, because once I send it away, it has to be graded an 8 or better for me to break even.  In fact, an 8 is just $20 BV, so I'll lose out a little bit because I have to pay for it to be graded (I wait for the $5 or $7 specials from SGC) and I have to pay about a buck combined for shipping and insurance.  (I send 10 cards at a time to SGC, because it costs the same to ship and insure 1 card as it does 10 cards, so you may as well do 10.)

Since I'm spending another $7 to $9 or so on the grading, shipping and insuring, I need this card to get graded at least an NmMt+ 8.5, worth $25, in order to break even.  I have no idea whether this card is that or not, as I have long ago decided that I'm not going to drive myself crazy predicting a grading company's grade for a card, since I have conclusive evidence that they're often wildly off their own grading scale, and so it's basically a crapshoot.  This is especially true of newer cards.  (I've been very good at grading T206s--but the grading companies have been much more consistent with their grades for those, too.)  Even cards from the mid-80s have been graded one or two grades different than I'd predicted.  Why's my 1980 Rickey Henderson RC an 8 rather than a 9--which is a difference of about $275 in Ebay bidding value?  Couldn't tell you.  What's the difference between my Rickey 8 and the previous Rickey 7 it just replaced?  I don't know.  The corners and the gloss and the centering are the same.

Will this one break even?  I don't know, but here's why it's worth the chance for me, and also why I bought a 2011 Mike Trout Bowman Chrome RC and a 2011 Mike Trout Bowman Chrome Draft RC:

--Trout's RC values have increased lately and, I believe, will continue to do so.  For a long time.

--My Trout Chrome RC is a 9 and the Chrome Draft RC is a 9.5, so I've got my Mint condition Mike Trout rookie card situation covered.  (Those deals will be blogged about when they come in.)

--If this one is a dud--say, a 6 or 7--I can give it as a gift to either a relative or a friend of mine.  Neither takes this anywhere near as seriously as I do, and would love to have a Trout rookie of any grade.

--Worst possible scenario: I can sell it at the occasional yard sale I have every other summer, and I can get $20 to $25 for it, no problem, especially from older folks who love baseball but hate the internet.  And there's lots of those!

And that's why I bought an ungraded Mike Trout rookie, and would do so again, for either the relative or the friend who doesn't get this one.

Sorry for the long entry!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bryce Harper 2012 Bowman Platinum





Photo: from my collection, scanned in.

So, this is Bryce Harper's 2012 Bowman Platinum rookie card, graded in PSA 9 Mint condition.  I got it for $8.51, plus $1.18 shipping, for a total of $9.69.  (This was in a package of 3 other cards from the same Ebay company.  I may write about those cards another time.)  The book value of this card from the Beckett Graded Card Price Guide is $25.  The Ebay selling price lately for this is about $20 to $25.  I got a Mint condition card for even less than half of what I can re-sell it for, which is always what I try to do.  I always buy with an eye to re-sell, if necessary in the future, so I always buy for about half the book value, and for about 75% of the recent Ebay value.  I made out well here.

I normally don't buy baseball cards of recent rookies or of recent new stars because their values can fluctuate wildly over a very short time.  If you take a look at the values of autographed rookie cards, or of prospect cards of the hottest new player, they've often cost hundreds--and thousands!--of dollars, and for what?  For the player to crash and burn, and now his cards are worthless, and all that money is down the drain.

Crazy.

However, Bryce Harper, and--even more so--Mike Trout are rare exceptions.  Trout's Bowman rookie cards are worth hundreds of dollars or more in Mint or Gem condition.  (I just got a Mint at about $50 and a couple of ungraded ones I'll take a chance on at $20 apiece.  If the ungraded ones get graded and turn out really low, I can give them away as gifts to guys I know who'd be thrilled to have them.) I may run an entry about my Mike Trout cards soon.

So why Bryce Harper?  Well, he won the ROY Award a few years ago, and just won the MVP.  Last year he hit .330.  He slugged .649 with over a 1.100 OPS.  He hit over 40 homers (with just 99 RBIs, but he's not to blame if nobody's on in front of him) and walked 124 times for a ridiculous .460 on-base percentage.

He has rubbed a few the wrong way, and certainly he had his cocky and immature moments--but remember a guy who was so cocksure and immature he was called The Kid?  I'm not saying Bryce Harper will even come close to Ted Williams, of course, but he has the tools--if he can stay healthy, mature and not party too much--to hang around a long time and to put up potential HOF numbers.

That's what I'm counting on.  Mike Trout has a better chance to do so, and I'll write about him next.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Patriots 27 NYG 26


Photo: The catch that wasn't, from Jason Szenes of the New York Times.  Article at NYTimes.com. BTW, note to the Times: The caption beside this photo says, "The Giants' Odell Beckham Jr. made a catch past the Patriot's Malcolm Butler (21)."  No, he didn't.  That was the play of the game, you know.

A few things from this game, the best I've seen all year and probably better than a few playoff games to come:

--"The receiver had not yet become a runner."  That was from Ed Hochuli, who seems to have toned down his tight-shirt accentuating his toned upper-body thing.  No better explanation necessary for why an incompletion is so, even in the end zone.  And, I noticed at the time, the receiver's second foot had not made solid contact with the ground before the ball had popped loose.  In short, the receiver has to make the catch and complete some other kind of football play.  That didn't happen.

--And Malcolm Butler, who knocked the ball out of Odell Beckham's hands on that play, really saved the day, and more than made up for his one awful play--the throw on the second play from scrimmage that allowed Beckham...to...go...all...the...way.  (Though McCourty actually ran into him on that play, and it was more McCourty's fault overall than his.)  The Giants had to settle for a field goal a few plays later, which put them ahead only by 2 with about 1:30 left.

--Losing Edelman for anything longer than this game is really going to hurt.  He does so many things well, but he's also really Brady's favorite receiver.  And with Dion Lewis out, that's especially painful.

--The true great ones win in dramatic fashion even when they're not at their best.  That was Brady today.  Really fortunate not to have 1 or 2 more INTs in this game, and a TD is taken back on a holding call, and he throws a pick on the goal line...and they still win.  After completing on a 4th and 10, no less.

--Gostkowski may be the best kicker in the NFL right now, and maybe has been for quite awhile.  Nothing against Vinitiari, and these comparisons are sort of useless anyway.  But a 54-yarder is not a gimme, of course, and this was to win the game, after being iced once, in hostile territory.

--Eli Manning vs. Tom Brady and the Patriots is like Geno Petralli vs. Roger Clemens.  Go figure.  And you get a safety if you leave a comment to explain this one, since you'd have to be my age and a serious Sox fan to get it.  But it's a solid comparison, in its own way.

--Amendola is another Edelman, who himself was another Wes Welker.  Unbelievably awesome receivers who run for a ton of yards after the catch, and make great catches, and catch 7-10 passes per game, and can be used as occasional running backs.  They're also short--much shorter than average in the NFL--and bounce back up after catastrophic hits.  The Patriots keep churning out these guys.

--The Patriots have, in MHO, the best quarterback, tight end, kicker, receiving corps and coach in the NFL.  That'll equal a lot of victories.

--I'm going to bet that Belichik does not retire when Tom Brady does.  But they'll forever be thought of together, now and in the Hall of Fame.

--The Patriots barely beat the Giants in their almost-perfect season as well, for those who remember.  So let's not get cocky here.

Monday, November 9, 2015

2016 HOF Ballot



Photo: Ken Griffey, Jr. from his Wikipedia page

I know I promised a lot of blogs about last year's HOF ballot and winners & losers, and I really dropped the ball on that (pun intended).  I'll follow through this time.  I think.


The ballot: Garret Anderson, Brad Ausmus, Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Luis Castillo, Roger Clemens, David Eckstein, Jim Edmonds, Nomar Garciaparra, Troy Glaus, Ken Griffey Jr., Mark Grudzielanek, Mike Hampton, Trevor Hoffman, Jason Kendall, Jeff Kent, Mike Lowell, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Mike Mussina, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Lee Smith, Sammy Sosa, Mike Sweeney, Alan Trammell, Billy Wagner, Larry Walker, Randy Winn.


My 10 picks, and the order of my vehemence (c'mon, that's a nice phrase):


1. Ken Griffey, Jr. (of course)

2. Alan Trammell (yes; see recent blog entry)
3. Barry Bonds
4. Roger Clemens
5. Mike Piazza
6. Jeff Bagwell (I know the sniff of steroid scandal surrounds these last four, but none of them ever failed an MLB drug test, or got suspended for PED use. And it's time the writers got off their high-horse.)

These first six are no-brainers, in my opinion.  And repeat after me: Baseball writers are not judges or pariahs.  Baseball writers are not judges or pariahs.  Baseball writers are not...


The next four should go in, but I'm ambivalent about them, in almost equal vehemence. I'd be okay with none of the four getting in, but the stats show that they should:


7. Mark McGwire OR Sammy Sosa (Repeat after me again: Baseball writers are not...McGwire gets the nod from me because of his Gold-Glove caliber defense at first.)

8. Curt Schilling (May place ahead of McGwire and Sosa, whose stats are better and who made bigger overall impacts during the regular season.  Schilling's numbers are better than Mussina's overall, but not by as much as you would think.  Voters aren't supposed to consider the post-season while voting, but...How could you not with Schilling?)
9. Mike Mussina (I see him as a Veterans Committee pick many years from now.)
10. Edgar Martinez OR Trevor Hoffman (The writers see these guys as part-time players, almost.  In truth, Hoffman might have a better shot than Edgar.  But the closer role and the DH are positions, nonetheless, even if a typical closer pitches just 75 innings a year and the DH essentially pinch-hits 5 times a game.)

I still can't justify Tim Raines getting in, though I mentioned last year that if he hadn't played at the same time as Rickey Henderson (and if that vial of coke hadn't shattered in his uniform pocket when he slid into home that day), then he'd be in the Hall.  I still believe that.

  
Lee Smith, as I said last year, was simply not a dominant closer.  Period.  Eckersley and Rivera were, and they're in the Hall.  Hoffman was not dominant like those two were, ever, but he was more than Smith was, every year.  I'm not sure he was dominant enough to make my Hall.  Probably at some point.  Not this time.  The writers will vote him in, anyway, because they won't vote in the steroids-stained, despite their innocence in MLB's court of law. But he should get in before Billy Wagner does.  Wagner probably doesn't belong at all. Same goes from McGriff and Sheffield, though Sheffield was probably more of an overall force than McGriff.  Had either played for the dominant teams of their time, however, each would be a lock for the Hall.  But whispers surround them as well, especially Sheffield.

I'll have to research Jeff Kent's numbers, but I'd be surprised if he wasn't among the top-10 best-hitting second basemen of all-time.  I hear that when Kent played with Bonds on the Giants, a reporter asked everyone else on the team not named Kent or Bonds to vote for the most-hated man on the team.  Every player said it was Kent, and it wasn't close.


Had Nomar never been drilled in the wrist that day, he would've been better than Jeter, especially in peak value.  But baseball is full of what-ifs.  He broke his wrist and he faltered.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

2015 Red Sox 78-84, and My Playoff Picks

A few thoughts about your last-place 2015 Boston Red Sox

--Had the season started after the All-Star break, the Sox would be in the playoffs.  But it doesn't work that way.

--Letting Don Orsillo go is a travesty.  I'm actually angry about it and I'm going to miss him.  Finishing last place 3 out of the last 4 years is bad enough; without the pleasant silliness from Orsillo and Remy, it would have been unbearable and unwatchable.  Despite the last place finishes, they've been a mainstay for me at 7pm most nights.  It was nice just to hear their silliness.  And it wasn't all inane banter, like Sean McDonough used to do.  (And he was miserable, too.)  Orsillo and Remy, and not the team, were the most consistently good 3 of the last 4 years.  (And let's face it: 2013 was an awesome overachievement, as was the 2013 ALCS, especially.)

--And firing Arnie Beyeler is a mystery.  The first base coach is essentially an irrelevant position.  His primary responsibility is waving runners on to second base.  Since I don't recall a tremendous number of Sox players thrown out at second this year, he seems to have done a decent job.  I saw him time the pitcher like he's supposed to.  Not a lot of runners got picked off.  He carried the players' elbow pads.  And the third base coach, bench coach and manager are all coming back--all of whom have much more to do with the Sox record than Beyeler does.  Plus, Beyeler was the PawSox manager for a few years, so he knows many of the Sox players pretty well.  Unless the players asked for him to be let go because of some kind of lousy clubhouse presence, or unless he said the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person, this firing is a mystery.  I won't care as much as Orsillo going, but I have 2 Beyeler autographed balls because he was at the Pawtucket HotStove a few years.

--Speaking of Orsillo, he got a six-year contract and a huge raise each year from the San Diego Padres, so he has the last laugh.  But I'll still miss him.

--David Ortiz led the majors in RBIs after the All-Star break.  He had such a terrible first half, I thought he had no chance for 30 homers and 100 RBIs.  I was wrong.  But the sudden and inexplicable upsurge is curious, if you know what I mean.

--Tory Lovullo deserved the 2-year extension he just got.  He'll be the manager should Farrell be physically incapable of managing--or if Farrell is told to take more time off and get well, if you catch my drift.  I wouldn't be surprised if that happened.  In fact, I hate to say it, but I'd be in favor of it.

--Hopefully, Betts, Bradley and Castillo are the outfielders next year.  But if the Sox want a #1 starter, one or two of those are going to go.  The best overall player is Betts, so I hope he stays.  (I need a Betts autographed ball with a COA, if any of you care.)

--Bogaerts and Bradley were completely different players this year.  Bogaerts had almost 200 hits (the vast majority of them singles) and became almost a Gold Glove-caliber fielder.  Bradley always was Gold Glove, but improved his average by about 50 points (!!!) and finished with a slightly-above .500 slugging percentage (!!!!!).

--Having said that, Betts was still overall a more valuable player than either Bogaerts or Bradley.

--Pedroia looks healthy again, and he fielded and hit like he never missed about two-thirds of the season.  But he needs to stay healthy, which he hasn't done since he signed that mega-contract.  They're honest injuries, but he has to stay healthy for the whole year.  When he does, the Sox finish with a great record.  When he doesn't, they don't.

--Buchholz also has to stay healthy all year and win the 17+ games he's capable of, every year.  When he stays healthy, the Sox finish with a very good record.

--I'm hearing that Hanley Ramirez has played his last game for Boston.  He had a tremendous first half--but he was a disaster in left.  He'll be terrible at first, and I've heard he's terrible in the clubhouse.  I've heard that the Sox players have complained about his attitude all year.  I can't wait to see him go.  The word is that the Sox will deal him for almost nothing and eat most of his contract.

--And Sandoval needs to go, too.  I wrote at the beginning of the year that I was concerned that nobody on the Giants was sad to see him go.  And I wrote that I didn't like the idea of someone winning 3 World Series in 5 years with one team, and then leaving that team.  Sandoval gained weight all year and purportedly weighs more than Ortiz (!) and is also a disaster in the clubhouse.  I wasn't wrong about him since the beginning of this year.  He needs to go.

--As of a few games ago, Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez were tied as the worst WAR players in the American League.  Dealing them and eating their contracts would be addition by subtraction.

--I'm more than happy with Travis Shaw--and his almost-.500 slugging percentage and his slightly above average defense--at first base and Brock Holt at third, even if Holt has to platoon with Merrero and / or Rutledge.

--Merrerro and Rutledge are basically paler versions of Brock Holt, and I mean that as a compliment.  You probably can't keep both of them, but they are great back-ups.  They field very well, hit decently to well, and do the little things well, like hit-and-run and bunt.  I hope they can stay.  If just one stays, I prefer Rutledge, but I don't know if he can play short and / or third.  Holt can be my third baseman, or back-up infielder and outfielder, until he retires.  Love his hustle, his defense, and his ability to do all those little things that win games: move the runner over; drive him in from third with less than 2 outs; bunt; hit-and-run.  His defense is almost Gold Glove, and he can even steal a few bases.

--My guess is that Tazawa and Uehara are both done.  Tazawa's not automatic in the 8th for me if he comes back, and Uehara is the closer only because nobody else on the current roster can do it.

--Rich Hill should start the year on the team.  He or Steven Wright is my #5 starter.  Either one would eat lots of innings and overall be a very good #5.  But I don't know if the Sox can keep both in the rotation.  Probably neither is good enough to be #4.  Hill, maybe, but I'm concerned about how well he'll hold up all year.

--The highlight of 2015 was the outfield.  Defensively, especially, but at the plate, too.  They made me want to watch.  Speaking of that, Bradley might have been one of the best #9 hitters in the majors.  How many #9 guys had over a .500 slugging percentage?

--And Mookie Betts has one of the best baseball names in the majors.

--For umpires, it's Fieldin Culbreth, of course.

--You know you've seen a lot of ballgames if you know most of the umpires' names.

--Besides being traded during the 2014 or 2015 season, what do Jon Lester, John Lackey, Mike Napoli, Andrew Miller, Andrew Bailey and Jonny Gomes all have in common?  They're all in the 2015 playoffs.  And Shane Victorino missed by a game or two with the Angels.

--But Miller's trade to the Orioles for the rookie Rodriguez this year might end up being a steal for the Sox.  Last-place teams don't need good closers, and a good starter is more important than a good reliever, even a closer.  Starters pitch 200+ innings if they're #1s or #2s.  Closers pitch maybe 70 innings.  A closer would have to be Mariano Rivera not to make that trade a win for the Sox.  Miller isn't quite there yet.  But he'll have a very long career after his closing days are over if he doesn't mind going back to the lefty specialist he used to be.

--Speaking of relievers, Ross may have a good career if he can tone down his act.  Ogando finished well this year, but I'd show him the door if I ran the team.  Overall, the entire relief corps needs to be revamped.

--That, and somehow, at any cost, getting rid of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, and getting a #1 starter, are this team's most important needs.

--If there are any Sox developments, come back here and you'll hear about it.  I'll post a lot about baseball in general, the Patriots, and baseball cards.

--Although the Wild Card Game in the A.L. will be in Yankee Stadium, look for the Astros to win.

--Toronto and Kansas City will play in the ALCS.  Winner: ...Kansas City, despite Toronto's home field advantage.  I say this only because of the theory that good pitching and defense will beat good hitting in one series.  But if it goes 7, it's a flip.

--The N.L. is a tougher call.  The Cubs won 8 straight to end the season, and Pittsburgh and Chicago are awesome teams and are not limping into the Wild Card Game like the Yankees are.  It's unfair that the Yanks may go on, but either the Cubs or Pirates must go home, despite each winning at least 10 more games than the Yanks.

--It's hard to count the Dodgers out, and the Mets could surprise, but I pick the Cardinals to play the ...Cubs in the NLCS.  Winner: St. Louis.

--World Series winner: St. Louis.  I'd never bet on the playoffs, because I know better ways to waste and lose my money, but this year's playoffs, especially in the N.L., are especially tough to pick.

--Feel free to comment on how wrong you think I am about my picks.  You'll probably be right.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Providence Red Sox

--I said at the beginning of the baseball season (see my baseball blog) that the Sox would finish first or last, depending on their starting pitching.  I wasn't wrong, though I didn't expect the offense to be this bad, too.

--Speaking of which: The PawSox moving to Providence (the ProSox?) isn't unheard of.  Providence used to have a major league team (the Providence Greys, the first team to win a World Series) and a minor league team (also called the Providence Greys; Babe Ruth played for them for a very short time).  The major league Greys had a few Hall of Famers and played in what is now Downtown Olneyville, near Wes's Rib House.  The minor league team played a few blocks up Union Avenue, in what is now a residential neighborhood.  Easy to spot: a side-street becomes a highway ramp that empties onto Route 10.  This side-street is where the minor league park used to be.

--And Providence is a minor league ready city.  Plus, it's a minor league city to big league Boston, if you know what I mean.

--Having said that, Pawtucket's McCoy Stadium is not in danger of falling down, and you can't beat the ease of access and the free parking.  I go there 10-12 times a summer.  A stadium in Providence won't be faster to get to, as Providence is a small city and traffic is terrible.  Plus, the parking won't be free, unless the stadium is built with a free parking lot.  There otherwise is no place to park in Providence, for anything.  It's a park in a garage city, as I guess most cities now are.  What happened to all the parking lots?

--The Pawtucket Red Sox, by the way, are now owned by the guys who own the Boston Red Sox.  I don't know if this is common now, that the owners of the big league team also own the minor league team, but it's a bad situation.  The minors are 100% slaves to the majors already.

--But those guys do know how to make tons of money, and to do so with class.  But...

--And it says something that Fenway still sells out (or comes close) for a team that's been in last place (or close to it) for most of the season.  Many playoff-bound teams don't draw as well as that.  This says something good about what the ownership has done with Fenway.  Whatever it is, let's hope they do the same in Providence.

--Maybe a smaller Fenway for the Providence stadium?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Shane Victorino

As the dismantling of the 2015 Sox starts (and hopefully doesn't end anytime soon), Shane Victorino gets traded to the Angels for an infielder, Josh Rutledge, nobody's ever heard of outside serious fans, and for good reason.  Essentially, Victorino got traded to free up a roster spot for Rusney Castillo, who will finally get a lot of playing time to see if he was worth the 7-year, $70 million-plus investment.  So far he's been a bust, in big and small ways.

But let's speak of Victorino.  When healthy, he's my kind of player.  What he does well when healthy:

--GG defense

--lots of singles and doubles

--lots of walks and HBP (the latter of which he made an art form)

--high OBP

--valuable 1 or 2 guy in the lineup

--first-to-third, stolen base guy

--awesome dugout and clubhouse presence (which can be over-rated, but not in his case)

--good hit-and-run guy because he doesn't strike out a lot

--good small-ball guy; moves the runners along, can bunt, hit to the right side, etc.

--good in the post-season, as his 12 RBIs in the 2013 Postseason and his two World Series rings show

--cheerful, motivational, wants to play every game kind of guy

You may be surprised to know that he was the 7th-best outfielder in all of baseball in 2013, according to his total value number on baseball-reference.com.

The problem is that in the last two years he hasn't been able to be on the field consistently.  I doubt he's milking an injury, too; he wants to play.  Now he'll get the chance, with a 1st-place team that should make the playoffs.  He gets to play with Trout and Pujols, too, and he'll be a valuable 4th outfielder, pinch-runner, late inning defensive replacement kind of guy.  If healthy, he can step in to a major role there, too.  He's a free agent at the end of this season, so who knows where he'll be next?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

1909 T206 HOF George Davis

The Card


Photo: T206 George Davis, front and back.

For those interested, I bought this card for $36.33, including shipping.  T206.org says it's been selling recently at about $43, which is a very common value for a Hall of Fame T206 of a nondescript player in Poor condition.  (Poor condition T206s of the big boys--Cobb, Young, Walter Johnson, etc.--still run a couple hundred bucks.)  Anyway, that's a profit of $6.67.  Not much.  The Beckett Graded Card Price Guide (7th Ed. 2015) says it's been selling at about $50, which is a little high, on Ebay, anyway. That's a value of $13.67, which is a little better.

I'm just happy to have a T206 HOFer.  I have about 15 of those now, most of them in Poor or Good condition, because that's what I can afford, ya know?  This card is in good condition, for a Poor.


The Player / The Person


Photo: George Davis, while with the Chicago White Sox, from The Sporting News

Shockingly, the Veterans' Committee got it right when they inducted this guy into the Hall.  Normally the Committee's inductions are abysmal, especially players inducted from this era.  I've looked at a few of those lately, and when I checked Davis's card in my collection and I looked at his stats (via baseball-reference.com, just click it here to see), I was expecting more of the same.

But I was pleasantly surprised.  You may have to know a bit about the time to appreciate Davis's stats.  At a glance, they're not impressive.  He led the league in an offensive category exactly once: 135 RBIs in 1897 for the New York Giants.  (McGraw and Mathewson wouldn't join the Giants until later.)  This is a lot, but for the 1890s, pretty common for a league leader.  What impressed me a lot more was that between 1904 and 1908, the Chicago White Sox let him play full-time, in most of the team's games, although his offensive stats were way below the league's norms.

There's only one reason possible for this: Defense.  From 1890 through 1902, Davis's offensive stats are good, but not great.  They are, though, impressively consistent.  And consistency in 1890s baseball, for 12 years, is very rare, whether it's offense or defense.  The stats will pile up, as they did. So for peak value, Davis was not one of the best players in the league.  But in career value, he was.

And then came 1904-1908 with the White Sox, and those rather unimpressive numbers.  True, the game changed a little, but those are still bad stats.  Why would he still be allowed to play full-time? Could his defense have been that good?

Yes.  Turns out, it was.

His overall WAR (wins above replacement; click on the stat on the webpage if you're unfamiliar with it) was higher in 1904, 1905 and 1906 than it had been in any of his more impressive offensive years. This can only be due to his defense.  Any dWAR (defensive wins above replacement) in the positive is good.  (This happens a shockingly low amount of times, even for good players today.)  Anything above 1 is really good; anything above 2 is Gold Glove worthy.  Davis was a very good defensive player during his good offensive years (consistently between 1 and 2), but when his offensive skills eroded after 1903, when he sat out, due to problems with injury, salary, and constantly jumping between the Giants and the White Sox, and back (jumping teams was VERY common in the early 1900s, but his case was still odd.  Read about it at his Wikipedia page here), he must've realized that if he was going to still play, his defense had to get even better.

And for a few years, it did.  His defensive WAR, from 1904-1908, when his offense was terrible: 3.4; 2.8; 3.0; 2.9; 1.3.  With his average to below-average offense, but his incredible GG (before there was a Gold Glove Award) defense, his overall WAR from 1904-1908: 7.2; 7.2; 6.3; 4.6 and 2.1.  A 5+ is all-star worthy, and his defense alone made him 2 levels above that.

Over his 16-year career, the league averaged a .919 fielding percentage for the positions he played. Davis's fielding percentage was .936.  At shortstop, the league's was .923 and his was .940.  

If you're defending 17 percentage points higher than everyone else in the league, that's HOF exceptional.  Combine that with 1,545 runs scored (56th all-time), 2,665 hits (69th all-time), 453 doubles (100th all-time), 163 triples (33rd all-time), 619 stolen bases (17th all-time), and 1,440 RBIs (63rd all-time), and you're a Hall-of-Fame player.  JAWS says he's the 4th-best shortstop of all-time, and that's going head-to-head with Honus Wagner (#1), A-rod (#2) Cal Ripken (#3), Robin Yount (#5), Arky Vaughn (#6), Ernie Banks (#7) and Ozzie Smith (#8).  Derek Jeter, if you're curious, is #12, ahead of Barry Larkin, Lou Boudreau, Pee Wee Reese and Bobby Wallace (a contemporary of George Davis's)--but behind Alan Trammel (#11)!  [Take a look at Trammel's stats here and you'll be as amazed as I was.  I assure you, nobody--including the announcers and players who were around him--realized he was that good.  Alan Trammel, shockingly, is wildly deserving of the Hall of Fame. But that's another blog entry for another time.)]  All of these guys, by the way, were way above the average HOF shortstop's stats.  Normally shortstops can field, or they can hit, but they can't do both.

So why a blog entry about George Davis, who nobody in this generation (and in this century) has ever heard of?

Because he wasn't inducted into the HOF until 1998, and he died in 1940.  It came 58 years too late, but finally someone dusted off his stats and saw the HOF.  

Well, it started with Bill James, as these sabermetric things often do.  I'll let the Wikipedia page tell it:

In a 1995 book, baseball author Bill James referred to Davis as baseball's best player who had not been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.[7]Also in 1995, Davis was featured in David Pietrusza's television film "Local Heroes" in the segment "Knocking on Cooperstown's Door."
In 1997, baseball researcher Frederick Ivor-Campbell said that Davis was "the most neglected player of the 19th century. He's definitely the best eligible player not in the Hall, and he's a lot better than a lot of guys already in."[8] Around the same time, Davis was rated the 21st best baseball player of all time in the official baseball encyclopedia, Total Baseball.[8]
Davis was up for a vote before the Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee in 1998. Before the committee voted, sportswriter Dave Anderson wrote an article in The New York Times on Davis's Hall of Fame candidacy. He pointed out the work of Cohoes city historian Walt Lipka, which favorably compared Davis to almost all of the shortstops in the Hall of Fame. Anderson supported Davis's election, saying, "It's as if he were discarded nearly a century ago into a time capsule that was forgotten until now... For too long, George Stacey Davis has been his era's most forgotten best player."[9] He was selected for induction that year.[4]
Prior to his Hall of Fame induction, a Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) chapter in New York put out a call to locate a descendant of Davis to be present at the induction ceremony and announced plans for a historical marker in Cohoes.[10] As a great deal of time had passed since his death, no relatives could be located, but a group of about 50 people from Cohoes traveled to the ceremony in support of Davis.[1]

Me again.  I don't know if George Davis was the 21st best player of all-time, but he certainly belongs in the Hall.  He was light years better than Phil Rizzuto, Joe Tinker, Rabbit Maranville, and lots of other marginal candidates who probably shouldn't be in the Hall, but who are.  Davis got in so late that nobody was around to even honor his plaque.

And why was that?  Well, that's not so Hall-of-Fame worthy, but hey, don't judge:

Davis returned to the minor leagues for one season as player-manager of the 1910 Des Moines Boosters.[6] He managed a bowling alley in the early 1910s. He was the Amherst College baseball coach from 1913 to 1918, then he became a car salesman.[3]
The circumstances of his death remained a mystery until baseball historian Lee Allen discovered its details through a campaign to track down historical baseball players, run in part in The Sporting News. Davis was admitted to a Philadelphia mental institution in 1934 suffering from paresis due to tertiary syphilis. He died in the institution in 1940.[3] Davis was survived by his wife Jane, who was said to have been angry at him when he died. They had no children. His wife spent $41 to have him buried within a day at nearby Fernwood Cemetery.

Me again.  Yeah, so no kids to have kids to honor his HOF plaque 58 years after he died of syphilis. Of course, you can get syphilis many ways, then and now, but...well, his wife was really pissed at him, and buried him the day after he died, apparently sans wake and funeral.  And it was a quickie burial, costing just $41, which sounds to me like someone dug a hole in the cemetery, threw him in, and filled up the hole.  Maybe even without a coffin, and definitely without a chaplain or onlookers.

And that pretty much says it all. 


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sox 9-5 So Far; Beat Rays 1-0

It's been awhile, I know.  I was going to try to write a blog entry after every ten games, so I'm just four games late doing that.  Well, anyway, some thoughts, fourteen games into the season:

--Like everyone else, I like Mookie Betts.  He's young, and fast, and he has some pop.  He can steal second and third on the same pitch (which I'd never seen before, and I've seen literally over a thousand games), and he can break up the double play like he did today (thereby winning the game, as it was the game's only run).  He can run and he can field and he drove in some important runs in the Sox's first few games...

...but, despite the pro-Mookie commercials on NESN all season, he's hovering around .200 and not drawing any walks.  His OBP is below .300--and he's the lead-off hitter.  He's struck out a lot.

I know it's early, but let's cut the fanfare for now.  Maybe he's feeling some pressure--very understandable, if so.  If that's the case, let's not play the "Mookie is awesome" commercials.  Let's give him a couple of days off, if we can.  Let's remember that he's 22 years old.

--And let's give the cheerleading commercials and rave reviews to whom they belong: Brock Holt.  He's just as fast, if not faster.  He's hitting over .400.  He's playing Gold Glove defense in the outfield and in the infield.  He made two game-saving plays today against the Rays to preserve the 1-0 win.  And he's now the lead-off hitter.  So, if there are accolades to be given, let's give them to him.

--The Sox overall are hitting about .238 as a team.  That's just a few points higher than the Rays--and the Rays are thought to be the worst-hitting team in the league.

--Speaking of the Rays, Evan Longoria must be wondering what he did to deserve this year.

--But it's nice to see Rocco Baldelli again.  (He's coaching first base for the Rays.  He played for the Rays and Sox.  And he went to school and played ball about half a mile from my house.)  Rocco needs to lose the beard, though.

--For those who care, Lou Merloni played ball at PC, just ten miles from here.  And Rheal Cormier (who also played for the Sox and Rays) played ball at CCRI, just three miles from here.

--I'm (barely) smart enough to look up some stats before I type them here.  For the record, the Sox were a .500 team in 1-0 games last year, and they played more than you and I remember.  But I was going to type that they didn't play that many, and the ones they did, they lost.  Doesn't it seem that way?  But we live in a world of seems.

--Speaking of seems, Ryan Hanigan--the Sox catcher now that Christian Vazquez is out for the year--is hitting well below .200, but with a .400 OBP.  I've seen every game this year, and it seems like he's getting one or two hits per game to me.  Obviously, he's not. (He did today.)  But it seems like he's grounding at least one single up the middle per game.  And that two-run homer was a bomb.  But he's amongst the league-leaders in walks, with 8, which gives him a .400 OBP.  (He's also been hit by a pitch a few times already, including twice in the same game.  I'd be surprised if he wasn't among the league-leaders in HBP, too.)  And he's throwing runners out and calling a great game.  I have no problem with he and the other guy, whoever he is.

--You don't remember his name, either.  But he could throw us out at second, no matter where he is.

--Okay, I just looked it up.  It's Sandy Leon.  Oh, please.  You didn't know that, either.

--Junichi Tazawa looks like a new, refreshed guy this year.  And he's throwing like it, too.  If Ogando can stay as effective as he's been (and he blew away a Rays hitter with the bases loaded today to preserve the 1-0 lead), then the Sox have a potent 7th, 8th and 9th inning tandem with Ogando, Tazawa and Uehara.  That bodes well for the playoffs, if they make it.

--The starting pitching is what I thought it would be, so far: pretty good, with occasional blow-ups when they hang their splits and off-speed pitches.  All five of these guys have to hit their spots, play north-south-east-west with the strike zone, and not walk anyone.  None of them can just rear back and fire it past anyone.

--Having said that, I foresee an overworked bullpen all year long.  Especially in the playoffs.

--"Playoffs?!?  Playoffs???  Don't talk to me about the playoffs!  Playoffs?!?"  (Sorry.)

--Hanley Ramirez looks like another Ramirez in left field.  And, sometimes, at the plate.  (Only the second one there was a compliment, for those not in the know.)

--Victorino doesn't look like he's going to make the whole year, physically.  Or, based on his performance.  He suddenly looks older and slower.

--Panda needs to lose a little of the heft.  His is bigger than Ortiz's.

--And Ortiz needs to do something about his play at the plate.  He should take the one-day suspension and work on his swing--and his attitude.  (But he's not.  He's appealing it.  Is there a series coming up soon in a National League park?)

--Having said that, those two check-swings were not strikes.  But the past is maybe evening out on him now.  The umps must've gotten together over the winter and decided that they'd had enough.

--And Ortiz also looks older and slower at the plate.  He's swinging at things he hasn't before.  He's not swinging at things he should be.  And he's looking mostly overmatched and confused up there.

--The Sox have not lost a series yet.  (They split in Baltimore.)  They've won every single first-game.

--And they've played well against the Nationals, who're very good, and the Orioles, who could be.

--I haven't seen such poor defense played against the Sox like I have in these first 14 games.

--Nava might be a better first baseman than an outfielder.  He picks it out of the dirt really well.  He made some fantastic scoops in today's game, including the one that was the last out.  But he's not hitting, either.

--The Sox have already shown more hustle this year than they did throughout all of last year.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April 14, 2015 Sox 6-2 So Far

Just came back from Fenway.  Exhausted and not feeling so great.  Amidst a 22-hour day so far, as I have a headcold and awoke at 2 a.m. on the 14th and haven't slept since.  But there's lots to go over, so I'll return to this post later today (April 15th) after I've slept and returned from work...

Unbelievable game.  Sox beat Strasburg and the Nationals 8-7, and should've lost.  Nobody can play defense against the Sox yet this year, for some reason.  The Sox have seen the worst defense since Opening Day that I have ever seen them face to begin a season--and I've been watching since the mid-1980s.

Anyway, more soon...

Monday, April 6, 2015

Opening Day 2015 Red Sox 8 Phillies 0



Photo: Dustin Pedroia, in Baltimore, 2012.  From his Wikipedia page.

It's just one game.  But my observations so far:

--You can't ask for more than 7 shutout innings from Buchholz.  He struck out 9 and allowed only three hits and a walk.  He'll face teams better than the Phillies this year, but he came through in a start in which he had to show he could step up and be the Jon Lester fill-in.  He did that.

--And don't miss the work by the unknown starting catcher (with Christian Vazquez on the shelf), Ryan Hanigan.  He called a good game and caught a good game, and even had a base hit and a walk.

--Dustin Pedroia, of course, had two homers and two Gold-Glove calibre plays.  Good to see that his finger injuries are behind him for the first time in a couple of years.

--And Hanley Ramirez's 2 homers and 5 RBIs, including an Opening Day grand slam.

--And Mookie Betts had a homerun, a walk and a single so far.  Experts have picked him to lead the league in runs scored.  Let's hope he does.

--Pedroia had seven homers all of last year, and has had two already.  Thou shalt not try to sneak a fastball inside on Pedroia.

--Or Mookie Betts, apparently.  Also, Mookie Betts has one of the great baseball names today.

--As does umpire Fieldin Culbreth.  That's right: Fieldin.

--Pablo Sandoval turned two walks into two outs when he flailed on garbage with a 3-2 count on him each time.  He needs to take more and sport a better OBP.  But he's clearly a better fielder than Middlebrooks was.  I'll say it again as I said it frequently last year and already this year: I do not miss Middlebrooks.  Except for how he kept Jenny Dell happy, of course.

--Jenny Dell can do better, by the way.  The word is that she's actually a very nice person.  She'll talk to anyone, and went to a kid's prom, and didn't just treat it as a publicity stunt.  She'll sign and take pics without a problem, too.

--Right, Salad?

--Speaking of Salad, I dedicate this year's blog posts to ya, big guy.  Thanks for all the games.

--First up: April 14th, the second Fenway game of the year.  Against the Washington Nationals, so I'll probably blog about their pitching staff--the best since the Braves' staffs of the mid-90s. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Red Sox 2015 Spring So Far, and My Picks

Some quick points--

--Remember, it's just the Spring.  I haven't seen a spring that really meant anything for the regular season since 1984, when the Tigers steamrolled through their spring and then started the Regular Season 35-5, thereby ending the race in June.

--Having said that, the Sox have looked good.  Or, more accurately, they haven't looked bad.  Everyone's hitting decently and nobody besides Rusney has gotten injured.

--In a weak-looking American League East, the Sox could win the division.

--Or, with injuries, they could finish last.  Who knows?

--I'm sorry to lose David Ross, but he wasn't getting younger, and the Sox need to see what Swihart and company can do.  The backup they got to replace Ross looks just as good defensively.

--Not sorry to see Middlebrooks go, especially since his stupid selfie took Jenny Dell away from us for awhile.  And, oh yeah, he wasn't hitting or fielding well.  And he did get in the way of the runner.

--Very surprised, and very glad, to hear that Jenny Dell is returning.  Figured she'd go to CA with him, since they're married and all.

--And here's to hoping that all that sordidness is behind us now, and Jerry Remy can laugh again.

--The ones to watch this spring are Brock Holt, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Weeks, Victorino and the newest outfielders, Rusney and Moncada.  I know Panda and Ramirez will hit.  In the later innings of games they're ahead, Holt or Betts will take over for Hanley in left.

--Gold-glove Jackie Bradley is the odd man out in the outfield, since he's defense-only at this point, and Holt can play the outfield and infield.  And Holt's still getting on base.  Bradley is, too, but he did at this time last year as well, and for about a month thereafter.  But then the wheels came off.

--And Daniel Nava should be looking over his shoulder, too.  He can spell at first, but so can Holt (surprisingly, for his size), and Nava's not going to be a defensive replacement in the outfield.  So if he's not starting, he's not playing at all.  Nava is an excellent three-quarters of-the-year player (see: two years ago, when he was in the top-10 in average and OBP), but even then he never saw the playoffs.

--Two new outfielders brand new in the country just got about $100 million between them.  There's a great hitter in left, GG-caliber Victorino in right, and Betts (a GG-caliber guy himself who gets on base), or Rusney Castillo when he gets healthy, or Moncada, or Brock Holt (who's almost GG-caliber himself sometimes) or Weeks in center.  So, where exactly is Nava to play, except to spell Napoli at first.  And what if Napoli is healthy again?  I like Nava, but...Bradley, Moncada and Castillo all open in Pawtucket (or Providence?!?) this year--and all three are potential Gold Glove winners.  And Moncada and Castillo are at least very good hitters.  And there are too many outfielders even without those guys.  If I'm Nava, I don't buy another house around here.

--Though he probably stays around if Napoli never gets fully healthy.  Might see a platoon there.

--It should also be said that great three-quarters players like Nava have much better careers in the NL.  Like in Philly, for example.

--Pedroia looks revitalized to me.  Hopefully his hands and fingers stay healthy.

--Not having an ace is not the worst thing in the world.  But Cole Hamels probably nails down the division for them.

--A trade for Hamels probably means Bogaerts and Betts and someone else from the outfield leaves, maybe Bradley if someone needs a GG-fourth outfielder, which NL teams often do, especially if the pitcher's spot comes up in the late innings.  If that happens, Nava still probably doesn't have a job, as Ramirez, Victorino, one or both of the newest guys, and Brock Holt are still around.  (Holt might go in that trade as well.)

--With this many pitchers who pitch to contact this year, the Sox infield had best be flawless.

--And I don't know that such a staff goes too far in the postseason, where firepower generally rules.

--Unless you're Detroit.

--Late-inning relief looks a little iffy, but I wouldn't be surprised if Uehara or one of the newest guys steps it up and does well.  Mujica, I'm guessing, is gone as part of a trade.

--Betts and Holt are the lead-off batters this year.  Victorino, Pedroia or Weeks in a pinch.  But there's no shortage of table-setters this year.

--Pencil Big Papi in for 25-30 and 90-100 this year.  But his 40/125 years are over.

--Youkilis and Manny are two more ex-patriots working for the Cubs this year, for those keeping track.  Now, with the Dodgers, there are two NL Red Sox teams this year.  Oakland used to be one.

--So...where will Boston finish?

--I don't see Baltimore repeating, though it could.  But there seems too much uncertainty, bitterness, and flat-out hostility and strangeness going on there.  Even Duquette didn't know if he wanted to come or go.  Very odd for a Cinderella team like that to suddenly hate itself.  I don't see Adam Jones or Davis producing like that again, at the same time.  The relief looks shaky again, especially with Andrew Miller gone to NY (!).  Markakis left and wasn't replaced.  If they finish in first, it won't be by much.  But I don't see it.  Baltimore had better start off very well, or it'll implode. 

--Toronto could surprise.  Nobody outside the offense really stands out, but...they could win 93 games, which might be enough to win this weak division.  And it should be said that the Wild Card will not come from the American League East this year.

--The Yankees, who have not replaced Rivera or Jeter, will not do well this year, as they are old, and hefty, and still A-rod-ridden.  (And boring to watch.  If John Sterling is the most interesting part of your team, that's not good.)  A-Rod will be a huge distraction, and will undoubtedly do something to get himself released or suspended.  Still, a bad team, and a circus.  No, thanks.

--Tampa Bay?  Maybe, but doubtful.  Often, they were a decent team held together by black masking tape and Joe Maddon.  And Maddon leaving tells me there was handwriting on the wall I couldn't see from here.  (And the Cubs definitely colluded to get him.  Where's that investigation?)

--So...Boston or Toronto or Baltimore finishes first.  I'll go with Boston, with reservations.  Toronto's second.  Baltimore will crash and burn, then right itself when Buck Showalter gives everyone the Death Glare, and micro-manages everyone into submission.  And then Dan Duquette will become his socially-endearing self and bore everyone into submission.  Baltimore then floats and finishes third, at, or slightly-above, .500.  New York will sink to the bottom, then panic and spend billions on over-the-hill but-still-good players and not finish in the basement.  Which is where Tampa Bay will be.  (Though it could be a flip with those two.)

My picks for the American League East, then:

Boston
Toronto
Baltimore
New York
Tampa Bay

That looks weird, but that's how I see it.

Any thoughts?