Friday, January 17, 2020

Sign Stealing!?

The Astros sign stealing scandal going through baseball is going to leave a bad mark on the sport for many many years to come.  With early rumors of video surveillance to garbage can hitting to buzzers on players shoulders, there are now more questions than ever about how far teams will go to try and win.

With that being said, the 2017 World Series Champions Houston Astros won on the road where they didn't have an advantage.

The 2019 Champions, Washington Nationals, won 4 games on the road where the Astros supposedly had a homefield advantage. 

I believe that cheaters should be punished and I believe that the appropriate disciplines have been set in motion.  3 managers lost their jobs.  1 GM lost their job.  4 future draft picks were removed from potentially joining the corrupt organization. 

George Springer is still a Sports Illustrated Hero.

The city of Houston, which had suffered so much during the summer of 2017 due to a hurricane that is still impacting people's lives in and around the city, used the surging Astros to rally their entire city around.

There is no need for asterisks.  There is no need to remove an MVP from Jose Altuve. 

The only need that should be implemented is changing the way the game is viewed going forward and having MLB more involved in what goes on in the clubhouse. 

Make every game of a 162 season feel like an NFL game.  Make the games viewership feel interactive.

Baseball has the strongest amount of history and tradition of any of the 4 major sports.  And that is what is hurting the sport.

You want to make the game more enjoyable and accessible to the viewer?  Put a camera BEHIND the catcher.  Let viewers see what the look of a Clayton Kershaw curveball looks like compared to his fastball.  Try hotting a Michael Kopech fastball.  Or a Gerrit Cole slider. 

All the best video games relating to baseball have a view where "you're in the box".  Let the fans see that famous Willie Stargell quote truly makes "hitting a round ball with a round bat square on" is one of the most difficult things in sports.

Then let's see how many signs are stolen. 

I miss the Pirates Zoltan symbol of celebration when they did something good in a game.  It was unique to the city and helped the fan base interact with the players.  It's the same thing the Nationals did this year with the Baby Shark celebration or the Cubs and the magic hands celebration. 

Steal those signs baseball.

Don't steal the signs of the catcher!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

History Lesson: Rewriting History

Now that Crisis Week is over and some history has been rewritten in the DC Comics Television Universe, I am going to show a post I accidently published for a few hours back on Tuesday before realizing I had to get the Arrow Crisis post out prior to 8pm.

With the decade of the 2010s officially over, I thought it would be kind of cool to hop in the way back machine and look at an Andrew McCutchen card from 2010 that offered a prediction of Cutch heading into 2020.

The 2010 insert set had a small set size of 20 cards and the back discusses Topps prediction for how certain players will develop into the 2020 season.

The checklist is extensive in young upcoming stars.  It doesn't feature any prospects, only players who made their MLB debut prior to 2010.

Of the 20 players a few have already retired (Ryan Howard, Joe Mauer, David Wright, Andre Ethier, Ubaldo Jimenez), one has passed away (Tommy Hanson), and a few are currently free agents that may not appear in the majors in 2020 (Hunter Pence, Gordon Beckham, Matt Kemp).  Chris Coghlan appears in the set also but hasn't officially retired despite not appearing in a major league game since 2017.

The back of Cutch's card makes mention that he could have the most RBI and Home Runs by a Pirate Outfielder in a calendar decade if he surpassed Roberto Clemente's marks of 177HR and 862RBI set by Clemente in the 60s.

A few things about that jumped out to me as I normally don't think of Clemente as a big bopper RBI and HR machine.  I think of guys like Willie Stargell, Ralph Kiner, and Dave Parker.  Brian Giles and Jason Bay in recent memory also stand out, but neither of them had the longevity for a decade long run.

Stargell played a full calendar decade with the Pirates in the 70s, but the majority of that decade he was already transitioning to a full time first baseman.

Ralph Kiner mashed the baseball in his very brief career but that career lasted only from April 1946 to September 1955.  From his debut season in 1946 until 1952, Kiner lead the National League in HRs seven consecutive years (a feat that no other player in history has done).

Parker suffered a fate of not playing a calendar decade much the same way that many other players felt.  His prime in the late 70s rode into the early 80s and wasn't enough to match what Clemente did for the entire decade of the 60s.

Cutch played with the Pirates from 2009 to 2017, having been traded prior to the 2018 season.  That gives Clemente an edge in that he had 2 more full seasons to accumulate stats.

With that being said, Cutch outpaced Clemente in the Home Run department with 191 over 8 seasons versus Clemente's 177 over 10.  Clemente did have more RBIs though accumulating 862 RBI compared to Cutch's 671.

Those numbers look pretty drastic, but how would Cutch's numbers looked if he kept playing in Pittsburgh (and assuming healthy in 2019)?

Cutch averaged 84 RBI over his Pirates career along with 24 HR in the 2010s.  Those numbers are comparable with his "decline years" in 2016 and 2017.  Had he stayed healthy and finished out the 2019 season with the Pirates he likely would have hit 239 Home Runs for the 2010s along with 839 RBI.

To say that it would surprise no one that he would compare to an All Time Pirates Legend like Clemente is accurate, but what Topps didn't take into account was the Pirates financial situation of being a small market club.

Ultimately Cutch was traded and is on his third team since leaving the Steel City despite playing just 214 games since the close of the 2017 season. Much like so many other Pirates fan favorites before like Jason Bay, Cutch may not be a forever Pirate, but he will forever be remembered as a Pirate.
The Pirates three straight Wild Card finishes may not be on the same level as the Jim Kelly/Thurman Thomas/Bruce Smith Buffalo Bills, but for a very brief window the Pirates with one of the smallest payrolls in baseball was a legit World Series contender for three consecutive years.  They also lost three straight Win or Go Home games much like the Never Dynasty of the Bills.
Many people forget this because of Mike Trout's quick rise, but Cutch became a face of baseball and was a top 3 player for four consecutive years.
He still lives in Pittsburgh and is an active member of the community.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Crisis Week: Legends of Tomorrow

Picking up where the first three episodes left off in December for the five part miniseries, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Arrow delivered a great way to kickstart the climatic conclusion last night.

It all comes to an end tonight at 8pm on Legends of Tomorrow.

In 2018 Topps had an insert series called Legends in the Making.

Andrew appeared in the insert series as both a member of the San Francisco Giants

And a Pittsburgh Pirate

I've managed to grab a few of the parallel cards but still need a lot of them which can be listed below

LTM-AM (Pirates)
Red /10
Gold /50

LITM-20 (Giants)
Red /10

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Crisis Week: Arrow

Crisis Week continues tonight with the new episode of Arrow.

We have already seen one major character lose their life in the week long event that kicked off back in December with the first three parts of the 5 part cross franchise series event.  You can revisit my Crisis Week inspired cards here to see Flash, Supergirl, and Batwoman.

I chose this autograph 2011 Lineage card of Cutch because it is the Canary parallel and well...the Black Canary is forever linked to the Green Arrow in the comics.

They would eventually get married in the comics.

From all incarnations of DC Animation, the two have always been paired up at various stages.  The Justice League Unlimted episode "Double Date" which prominitely features Green Arrow, The Question, and the pair of Birds of Prey characters (Hundreds and Black Canary) is my second favorite episode produced.  My favorite? The Great Brain Robbery is the winner. (The Flash is one of my favorite comic characters ever!!!)
Mike Grell is the definitive Green Arrow artist and really made the character a more mature read back in the 80s.

The first season of Arrow introduced a new spin on the Queen/Lance relationship that we are so used to from the comics.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Reflecting on a large decision

I made mention of my grandfather suffering a stroke on New Year's Day and how it impacted my first few days of blogging.

He is still struggling and in the hospital and will likely not get any feeling back on the left side of his body.  It is a terrible sight seeing someone who was such an influence on me and my work ethic growing up. 

Prior to his stroke I was challenged with making a career decision that was weighing on me heavily.  I travel an hour to work every day and closer to an hour and half from work each day.  I do this six days a week, 48 weeks a year.  It wears on me mentally and physically. 

I had an opportunity a few weeks prior to Thanksgiving to stay with the same company (it is a co-operative), but work for a new management team and owner so that I could work closer to home.  I have known the management team since I was in high school and I have known the owner basically since I was born since he is a high school classmate of my uncle's and has been a friend of the family for over 40 years.

After my grandfather suffered the stroke that may ultimately take his life, I was over whelmed by the thoughts, prayers, and caring nature that the owner of the company sent my family.  I ultimately made the decision to continue to drive nearly 2.5 hours daily to work for that owner.  It may not be as financially rewarding with car costs, but spiritually it is more important for me to stay loyal to his company than to try something new so that I may cut my commute down.

There aren't many Derek Jeter or Chipper Jones or Barry Larkins anymore.  I decided I was going to join that pantheon of legends in the supermarket business. 

It is a large commitment and I am happy I did it.

The above cards may look familiar as I showed them off as one of my final posts of 2019.  Today I was gifted with the largest of the group, the 5x7 online exclusive.  It joins the mini, base, and box topper. 

The world often shows us signs that what we are doing is right or wrong.  By getting a large card like this on a day I made a big decision I feel like it was the right move to keep moving forward, just as the card depicts Cutch continuing to run towards home smiling and winning.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The numbers game

I have been collecting Andrew McCutchen cards for over a decade now.  In that time I have accumulated nearly 2,700 unique cards of Cutch.

As I gained more and more Cutch cards I thought it would be more fun to get serially numbered cards of Cutch to his jersey number.
With the exception of 30 games (25 regular season, 5 postseason) with the Yankees Cutch has always worn number 22 in the major leagues.  I recently acquired a new  Cutch22 (card numbered 22/xx) to my collection.
This autograph ran me only $12 delivered.

It helped spark a new collection for my growing basketball collection.

My favorite active basketball player is Paul George.  A few years ago Paul George changed his jersey number from 24 to 13 so that he could market PG13.

Here are my PG13 cards

 This Donruss Press Proof is 13/299
 It is from 2016-17

Pacers cards of PG13 will always be my favorite to collect, but I really like the variety of cards that a small (but growing) basketball collection offers.
This card is the Gold Standard (literally) of the type of Paul George PG13 cards I want.
Any PG13 card that mentions my favorite basketball player of all time (Reggie Miller) on the back is an instant favorite.

Now time for some Thunderous PG13 cards
Look at the design on this card.
This PG13 card is numbered 13/25 and as of now is my only Paul George relic in the PG13 collection.

Optic is a brand we are all familar with thanks to the baseball version, but the basketball version is so much better.
 Look at nice Panini makes licensed cards.