August 22, 2012

I’ve been on the ‘blogging DL’ due to work and other projects. I’m on a rehab assignment now, and hopefully will be activated soon. Hah.

Where Have The Deep Cuts Players Gone?

On my way home from work, ye olde Ipodde threw on “Dirty Little Girl” by Elton John for my ears. Now, you may not be familiar with that track. Heck, I had really forgotten about it. The song wasn’t a single; not even a B-side. It was side 3, track 3 of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”.

A true deep cut. A true sign that the artist and / or album was truly someone / something of quality and distinction.

Do we really have those in music anymore? And does anyone miss them?

My posse in high school loved the Cars. They loved the hits, but they loved the deep cuts more. How many people can quote”Down Boys” or “You Wear Those Eyes”? Our group could. But in this epoch of single track purchasing and alternate methods of recording procurement, do deep cuts matter? Are they relevant?

Same with baseball cards. Do we really have deep cuts anymore?

It used to be that every set had bunches of guys like Mr. Dybzinski. The scrubs. The fill-ins. The dreaded utility guys. You needed them.

Now part of it may be the way baseball rosters are inanely cobbled together now. It used to be you had 15 players and 10 pitchers (sometimes 16 and nine). Then it went to 14 and 11 and that seemed sensible.

But now we’re at 13 players and 12 pitchers and some idiotic teams go for 12 and 13. And those pitchers are usually on a conveyor belt between the majors and the minors. The transaction pages are filled with players being DFAd and being called up.

The 1973 San Diego Padres (60-102) used 12 pitchers all freaking season, and two of those (Bob Miller and the wonderfully monikered Frank Snook) pitched in 18 games each and another (Fred Norman) was traded halfway through the season to the Reds. The other nine guys carried the load, and lost a shit-ton of games.

This year’s version of the Padres have already used 26 pitchers. Yes, 26. Twenty. Six. Pitchers.

With all of these pitchers yo-yoing up and down and the short short benches, there aren’t a lot of scrubs around.

Coupled that with the limited amount of cards in the base set (660 for 30 teams) and it’s no wonder that the Topps releases seem like stars, pitchers, and prospects and that’s it.

No room for the Dybzinksi’s of the world.

I think that’s a sad thing, actually. Not every card has to be a star or could-be-star. You gotta have the regular folks and the ones on the margins to represent a baseball ecosystem. Just like in music you need the singles and the deep cuts.

At least I think so.

Oh, well, time to look for my Dybzinski’s and listen to some deep cuts. Rock and roll and all that.


This Looks Shopped, I Can Tell By The Pixels…

Is there sturm und drang out there about this card in Series 2, since Manny never will play a game in Oakland finery?

If there is, zip it.

Zip! It!



Why should we deny our children the same oddities that we had back in the day?

You know, like showing Pete Broberg as a Mariner?

Even during the spring, it was assumed that Manny would trod out onto the famed field (ok, field) in Oakland Alameda County Coliseum (as I’ll call it because I want to have Howard Cosell’s voice in my head saying that right now…) and play at least a few games for the Athletics.

I mean, what else did they have besides Yoenis and a bunch of maybes, could-bes and idunnos?

Well, it didn’t quite turn out that way. Oakland’s offense is pretty blah, but it’s not because of the OFs and DHs that are playing now. (Mr. Barton? Mr. Suzuki? Step forward, please.) Manny wasn’t going to be Coco Crisp’s replacement, because as funny as it would be to see Manny covering CF, the pitching staff would have an armed revolt and flood Billy Beane with Voros McCracken’s manifesto on what a pitcher can control and what he can’t control.

So Manny wasn’t an Athletic in real life, but he will be forever one in cardboard.

And I think we can all deal with it.


Bastard-O In Love?

Apologies to any Black Flag fan for that title pun.

I’m still in transition. I did buy a bunch of 2012 Series 2 and finally mailed out a bunch of packages. Of course, in my Series 2 haul I received a bunch of cards that I should have sent out with those packages. Ah, well

The love of my life has ensconced herself into my apartment in Florida. A good thing, of course, but now my collection is in the garage because of space issues. And out of sight, out of mind? Work weary? Transition weary? Whatever, I’m not getting the Chris Matthews patented ‘tingle up the leg’ when I opened my packs of Series 2.

I’m still thinking about selling a bunch of cards that don’t suit my fancy anymore. Part of me is thinking I need to sell my entire collection to help get out of debt with the 1% and the revenooers, but this will be the third time I’ve started and stopped my collection world. Do I want to think about that, really? I have a great start on the cards from the 70’s that started my love again and some of the Heritage and other sets I really like

So I think I may just try to unload the Bowman’s, some of the smaller UDs, stuff like my Cracker Jack and maybe my Gypsy Queen and A&G and go mostly base card and Heritage.

Oh, heck I dunno. I’ll ponder some more.

Meanwhile, of course, I’ll take anything off my want list and can send you my excel files if you’re feeling generous.

And despite the cramp in my collecting style, I am loving being in love and having my love live and laugh with me.






Decisions, Decisions…

I’ve had a positive life change occur over the past couple of weeks, but now I am in re-assess mode.

“What am I doing with my collection?” is one of those things I am re-assessing. Maybe it’s my financial situation – the fact that I am waiting for Series 2 and don’t have that much to spend on other cards right now to complete some sets.

I have some cards out for some trades that I need to pack up and ship out, but I don’t have the motivation to do it mainly because my motivation is on other (good) things. My reading habits have changed as well. I’m just glossing over some blogs when I used to devour the minutiae.

Then there’s work, which is also a positive but a brain sucker like those little things on the ceiling of that one Star Trek episode.

So, while I think about stuff and things, enjoy Rick Jones’ 1977 card in all of it’s airbrushy goodness. The painted chest hair is especially wondermous, isn’t it?

We’ve come a long way, right?

Wait, don’t answer that.

12-Man Staffs? Yeah, I Got Your 12-Man Staff Right Here!

I was noodling around a post on one angle about the 1976 Tigers (why, don’t ask) and found a nugget that I thought I should pass along.

Right now, baseball’s conventional wisdom is to use 12-man pitching staffs for whatever reason. Loogys and roogys and ‘proven closers’ and all that nonsense.

It wasn’t that long ago, really, that teams used 12-man staffs. But that was for the entire season!

Case in point, the 1976 Tigers, who used just twelve pitchers all year. One of them (Joe Coleman) was sent packing in early June. Another (Ed Glynn) was a September call-up. Frank MacCormack and Dave Lemanczyk spent time in Evansville (lovely in the summer no doubt), so it was up to guys like Bare and his compadres (Roberts, Fidrych, Ruhle, Laxton, Grilli, Crawford and Hiller) to toe the slab for the Bengals on a daily basis.

This bunch of Tigers were resoundingly mediocre with only Fidrych and Hiller shining on the hill. When guys like Bare went out there, it was always teetering between ‘good enough’ and ‘get someone up pronto’.

You may ask with this wonderful collection of zzzzz on the hill why didn’t they grab guys from Evansville to help. Now, of course, teams use their powers of options and DFAs to keep a revolving cast of 15-20 pitchers in and out of the big league clubhouse.

It was a much different world and explains why the mid-70’s Tigers were rotten. They had juts four farm teams (Evansville, Montgomery, Lakeland and Bristol) so there weren’t that many options. The AAA Triplets (no fooling!) were 55-81 and didn’t entice many from the Pocket City to venture to Bosse Field. Though certainly players like Milt Wilcox and Fernando Arroyo could have helped. But times were tough down there – old-timer (OK, he was 28 but still it seemed like he was around forever by then) Boots Day hurled in 13-games.

Yes, Boots Day, the old Expos CF, pitched in 13 games in Evansville in 1976. Heck, he didn’t do too bad – a 3.94 ERA and a 1.375 WHIP.

Maybe that’s why Ralph Houk had his staff iron man it up in Detroit. Either that, or it was a threat, “Bare! I’ll call up a washed up CF to take your spot in the bullpen if you don’t pitch well today!”


Still Here

May 22, 2012

My job and my Bugs & Cranks writing has occupied my time. More soon, I promise.

Mo Money, Mo Bigga Problems

In the real world, you reward your most efficient and productive performers with promotions and pay raises. Ok, that’s how it’s SUPPOSED to work, and except for nepotism and other more nefarious -isms, it works fairly well.

Why is it back-asswards in baseball?

Why do the pitchers that do the real grunt work (keeping games close, working with runners on base in high leverage situations) get nothing, while glorified pretty boys that pitch in relative comfort and ease get the cash money?

You can make a great argument that pitching in the 8th or 9th when you are down just one run impacts a team more than pitching with a two or three run lead in the ninth, especially if you inherit runners in the former and breeze into the latter with 6-7-8 coming to the dish.

But just because managers mangle their bullpens for a stat (that really is kind of meaningless unless you combine it with holds and add leverage to it) doesn’t mean you have to reward it, and then mangle your bullpens to save a pitcher for a situation that won’t occur but instead allow replacement level pitchers to decide games.

Oh, it makes me mad. But again, I root out inefficiencies for a living. Baseball bullpen usage, currently, is probably as inefficient of a process as any I’ve encountered.

Won’t You Spare Me Over For Another Year?

I remember getting this card as a kid. Scratch that, I remember getting about a half-dozen of these cards as a kid.

Trust me, for the group of kids I was friends with, having spare Angels cards didn’t endear you to trading partners, unless you had extra Nolan Ryans or Frank Tananas hanging around.

Looking at the back of this card, seeing his less than stellar major league career to that point, the best you could do with a Mike Miley was a throw-in just to rid yourself of the doubles or triples.

Then, you notice that he didn’t get a card in 1978. You may have noticed that he wasn’t in the minor league stats for the Angels in 1977.

Then, in early 1978 you read something in a preview magazine about the Angels trying to regroup at short with Rance Mulliniks and Dave Chalk because of ineffectiveness of their prospects and…

…the death of Mike Miley.


Because the Angels were really out of your radar screen even after their big free agent signings (Rudi, Baylor, Grich) you didn’t really notice them all too much. They were in the wrong league and their games were always ‘late game not included’ in the morning newspaper, and in the afternoon newspaper (remember those?) they were two lines and a box score.

So, if you were me, you’d try to figure out what happened. That means a trip to the library to find old Sporting News from before the 1977 season, since you only bought those to get the minor league stats (as you were a junior stats geek already).

Car crash in early 1977.

Then you find out more about Miley. He was a gifted two-sport athlete at LSU and was the starting QB and SS for the Tigers. That’s pretty impressive. Can you imagine the hype now for a college athlete by Miley? ESPN would have daily updates on what sport he would choose.

The Angels being who they were, they thrust him into the system a bit too quickly. He started in AA and showed decent power, but had a lousy 1975 in the PCL (hitting .209 in the PCL was pretty awful) but rebounded with a strong 1976 at Salt Lake and looked like he was going to pan out. He had a little power, some speed, a lot of patience, and was improving defensively.

Then, it was over. Not just his baseball career, his existence.

He’s remembered fondly with stadiums and streets in certain places, sure. But he never really had a chance to establish his legacy in the baseball world, or the real world.

I wrote this about Mariano Rivera’s asking for some perspective. Rivera had a long career, and his ending, while sudden, would not be tragic nor sad.

Miley’s ending was both.

As a kid, I never knew that he was gone when I pulled this card. I threw him into the ‘not good’ pile and left him there.

How would I have reacted if I knew about his untimely passing? The 46-year old me speculates that I would have treated him with more respect than that.

But it’s a far cry from age 12 to age 46.

Did Somebody Say Scam?

Whew, I’m back in rainy South Florida, as opposed to Minnesota where the day of my daughters’ soccer practice it was 40 degrees and raining. Fun!

“Nails”, as you may know, is in the hoosegow for his scams, crimes and misdemeanors and has another trial this summer on federal charges. It’s not a good day to be the dude.

Why post Lenny’s card? Well, you may have seen this article on Deadspin. It’s a sad, cautionary tale about hijacking creativity and scamming folks who are creative and may not be the best business people in the world.

So, net denizens, be careful of who you’re dealing with if people offer you riches, fame and glory. Or free cards, or whatever.

(Note: I can give you my Paypal account info if you wish to make a fine donation to my card addiction…)