Tag Archives: Derek Jeter

The Excitement of Looking Through Your Old Autographed Baseball Cards

Until I created this website and decided to include pictures of my autographed baseball card collection I had not gone through it in a few years. Around 2008-2009 was the last time I collected anything so the box they are in remained dormant.

I have only very little interest in adding to the collection. I think once you are a collector you always are. There’s a certain challenge, similar to a creative drive, which people who get obsessive about a collection have within them. Looking through my autographed baseball cards gives me a slight interest in sending out letters again. I only stop because I know how I get with anything. It will become a new obsession and I really should focus on more important things than asking people younger than me to sign miniature pictures of themselves.

Like looking through the high school yearbook, scanning over my collection of autographed baseball cards brings back a lot of memories. And like that cute girl a page across from you in the yearbook that no matter how hard you try you cannot remember, I continue to find cards in my collection I don’t remember getting.

I let out an expletive when I saw two autographed cards from Mike Napoli staring at me. I understand he’s not great, but I had no clue it was in there. At the time he was going by Michael Napoli. I had apparently obtained him through a letter to the Arizona Fall League long before he was bearded and winning the World Series.

Mike Napoli Autograph

I had a similar reaction when I saw a Bert Campaneris autographed card stacked among ones I remembered having a little better. Likely, I added this from a purchase at a card show. At the time I was unfamiliar with Campaneris. My dad probably bought it and felt the same way about him as I will in 20 years about Napoli.

Even authentic autographs in my collection that I received in packs now have a great sentimental value you to me because of how much more I know about the history of baseball. When I pulled a Johnny Callison autographed card years ago I didn’t think much of it. After a few years of listening to Philadelphia Sports Radio, I understand how meaningful the autograph actually is.

Johnny Callison

Lesser names like Jayson Nix even get me a little excited because forgetting about them makes me wonder who else could be mixed in there. I obtained Nix at the 2002 South Atlantic League All-Star Game in Lakewood, New Jersey along with others, most notably David Wright. Unlike Nix, I very much remember Wright.

I consider this far different from simple nostalgia. A big rush from autograph collecting was the feeling that you accomplished something. You gather up your baseball cards, you head to the stadium, and then go back home to see how many have ink on them. It was a challenge and seeing all of these successes years later reminds me I was not wasting my time. Going to a baseball game was always about more than who won or lost the game. It was also about who was willing to sign before and after.

My collection doesn’t compare to the greatest on the planet, but I do think overall it’s pretty impressive. Everything from Derek Jeter down to any player I have in my collection to never get beyond Single A, it all adds up to something unique and different from the rest.

Each autographed card I own has some history. Some were as simple as handing over a few bucks while others involved chasing a player down in the rain. They are a time capsule to a simpler time in life before taxes, bills, and women. They remind me how much one little hobby can give you: the adventure, the feeling of success, the bragging rights, etc.

An autographed baseball card tells a history. For some of us though, it’s a lot deeper than anyone can ever see.

2015 MLB Prediction: John Lackey Retires After the Season Ends

Veteran pitcher John Lackey is far from his glory days with the Los Angeles Angels, then called the Anaheim Angels, when he was at his best. Still a big league ball player who can perform well, I am predicting we see the last of Lackey in 2015.

The 2014 season for Lackey had its good and it’s bad. He wasn’t a complete travesty like in some years prior, but he also performed far below the money the Boston Red Sox were paying him. This led to a trade and a new home in St. Louis while pitching for the Cardinals.

His age and diminished skills tell me Lackey is nearing the end. His contract adds to it, especially the pay cut he willingly accepted prior to the 2015 season. Lackey is set to make only $500,000 which for a blogger like me is a lot. For a veteran pitcher with two World Series victories and over 150 career wins, it’s not much.

Last year, Lackey earned over $15 million. An assumption, the fingers point that lackey cares more about a championship than buying a new car this year.

By SD Dirk on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "John Lackey") [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By SD Dirk on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as “John Lackey”) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Unlike Derek Jeter or Paul Konerko, Lackey is not a player deserving of a farewell tour. Most players actually do retire suddenly without much warning and I see this as the way it goes down. Jeter and Konerko were an exception and played for the same team (Konerko had the majority of his career with the Chicago White Sox) where the announcement has meaning. Lackey’s retirement will be more like Josh Beckett where we suspect it coming then still act a little shocked when it does.

What will keep Lackey from retiring?

Absolutely nothing. He won’t have a great year so let’s first eliminate that as a possibility. A nice playoff run is the best he can do and a championship is the perfect way to end things. Hopefully whatever he’s craving, he gets to at least taste it.

Five Notable Players from the 2003 World Series Retired this Offseason

I’m writing about Juan Pierre‘s retirement like it’s the end of an era. In actuality, I finally have some time to write about baseball and it’s the biggest thing going other than the Adam Wainwright injury.

Pierre’s retirement had me looking into the 2003 Florida Marlins a bit more. Immediately, I saw another member of the team was a recent retiree: Josh Beckett. Beckett was the MVP of the 2003 World Series and threw the last pitch before defeating the New York Yankees in what turned out to be a 5-hit shutout in Game 6.

This brings me to even more recent retirees from the Marlins’ opponent. The New York Yankees also employed some very memorable guys who retired following the 2014 season.

The first, and the one we knew was done long in advance, was Derek Jeter. One of baseball’s best, Jeter hung up his cleats following a Hall of Fame career.

By Keith Allison [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Keith Allison [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Also retiring from the Yankees were Alfonso Soriano and most recently Jason Giambi. By contrast to Jeter, neither compares. In fact, neither ever won a World Series with the Yankees. For the most part, they were with the Yankees during the leaner playoff years.

Reviewing both rosters, not many players remain active. A few like Brad Penny are clinging onto hope that they can come back. The only player still playing at an elite level is Miguel Cabrera who at the time was just a utility player.

The 2003 World Series wasn’t a particularly memorable one without a rooting interest, however, there was a bit of significance. It was the last year Joe Torre took them to the finals before Joe Girardi won it with the team in 2009. Getting beat by dominant the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001 was one thing. Losing to the Wild Card nobodies on the Marlins in 2003 was another. The Yankees Dynasty had ended and this offseason, so did the careers of several players who were there to see it happen.

The Best Baseball Player Born in New Jersey: Derek Jeter

One day, the answer to the question of who the best baseball player born in New Jersey is could be Mike Trout. He’s too early into his career to know if he will take over from the obvious choice, Derek Jeter.

There’s little doubt Jeter belongs as the best player born in New Jersey. The face of baseball since 1996, Jeter is a member of the 3,000 Hit Club and won 5 World Series with the New York Yankees. His 14 All-Star selections is more than anyone else born in the state and if you ask someone who doesn’t even follow baseball if they know who he is, they just might be familiar with his name or face.

Far from underrated, Jeter is still the best from the Garden State.

By Keith Allison [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Keith Allison [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

New Shortstops in Big Market Cities

When the 2014 MLB season came to a close we saw the last of Derek Jeter as the shortstop of the New York Yankees. We knew long in advance, allowing every city to say their farewells and shower him with gifts.

When free agency began, the Winter Meetings commenced, and the Hot Stove officially heated up even more shortstops around baseball were about to make a change. Unlike Jeter, they still have baseball left to play.

Some of these men had been in their former homes longer than others. Some parted with kind words while others seemed a little more eager to get out.

Three of the most notable shortstops with new teams include Hanley Ramirez going from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Boston Red Sox, Jimmy Rollins going from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Didi Gregorius going from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the New York Yankees.

By Not That Bob James on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Not That Bob James on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Since the Red Sox already have Xander Bogaerts at shortstop, one of many young position players they appear to think very highly of, Ramirez will be asked to play left field even though he never has at the major league level. A shortstop at heart with over 1,000 career games logged at the position, he’s a good alternative to move back to his natural position if Bogaerts struggles or gets hurt. Far from the base-stealer he was early in his career, Ramirez can still hit and get on base. Since 2013, Ramirez has a .382 on-base percentage albeit in limited time.

Replacing Ramirez in Los Angeles is Rollins. After spending his entire 15 major league seasons with the Phillies, Rollins was traded to the Dodgers as the first step of the rebuilding process in Philadelphia. Over 2,000 career games spent at the shortstop position, the Dodgers are taking in the most experienced man around. Rollins continues to steal bases, swiping 28 in 2014, but his batting average has diminished significantly since 2008. In 2014, Rollins hit only .243. However, he did have a career high 64 walks which shows despite the reputation an old dog can learn new tricks. For Rollins, the trick was patience.

Finally there’s Gregorius who has the most difficult task of all. He is the man that has to replace Jeter. Even Rollins’ replacement in Philadelphia, likely to be Freddy Galvis, does not have a fraction of the pressure on Gregorius. Becoming the new shortstop for the Yankees after Jeter is like the Ultimate Warrior becoming the new champion after Hulk Hogan. It’s like when Roger Moore became the new permanent James Bond after Sean Connery. Gregorius is the first boyfriend after a messy divorce. You get the point.

Meanwhile, lesser teams have also brought in new men at the shortstop position. The Houston Astros have talked Jed Lowrie into leaving the Oakland Athletics to join their rise. Korean import Jung-Ho Kang has a chance to agree to a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates and become the latest to play the position for them. Then there’s Asdrubal Cabrera who has joined the Tampa Bay Rays. His position could be either shortstop or second base. For the time being he’s undeclared.

Asdrubal Cabrera
By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as “Asdrubal Cabrera”) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Shortstop is hardly a position for power hitters like it was during the late 1990s. Still, it remains a spot on the baseball diamond representative of the team’s heart. Bringing in someone new to quarterback the infield should never be taken lightly.

Five Statistical Facts about Babe Ruth

You can’t spell baseball without Babe Ruth. Well, in English you can. I meant this more in a metaphorical way. No one in the history of the sport was more popular than he was. Even people who have never seen a baseball game know the name. I could go on forever praising him. Instead I’ll share these five statistical facts about baseball’s best.

Leading the League

Ruth seemed to always lead the league in something. Here are a few of those categories and how many times he beat out everyone else:

Runs: 8 Times
Home Runs: 12 Times
RBIs: 5 Times
Walks: 11 Times
Strikeouts: 5 Times

Tall Tale of Strikeouts

It has been said in the past by many about how even though he was great, Ruth still struck out more than anyone else. This may have been the case long ago however Ruth isn’t even in the Top 100 anymore. In fact, Derek Jeter struck out about 500 more times than Ruth ever did. Ruth had 1330 career strikeouts compared to the current leader Reggie Jackson’s 2597.

By National Photo Company [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By National Photo Company [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Pitching Statistics

Most people know Ruth started his career as pitcher with the Boston Red Sox. He would take the mound 5 times for the New York Yankees, not doing too well when he did. Overall as a pitcher, Ruth was 94-46 with 2.28 ERA. His best pitching season was 1916 when he went 23-12 with a 1.75 ERA which included 9 shutouts. He also didn’t give up a home run in the 323.2 innings he pitched.

Postseason Batting

Ruth won 7 World Series in his career including 3 with the Red Sox. He was a pretty good hitter too in the Championship Series, swatting 15 home runs with a .326 batting average. His most famous World Series moment may or may not have happened when in 1932 he supposedly pointed out to center field then hit a home run right where he pointed on the next pitch.

Never Won a Triple Crown

All of the home runs, all of the RBIs, and a career .342 hitter yet Ruth was never able to lead the league in all three categories in the same season. Ruth only had one batting title, occurring in 1924 when he hit .378. Unfortunately Ruth’s 124 RBIs that season was not enough to match his league leading batting average and 46 home runs to win a Triple Crown.

The New York Yankees Make Two “Meh” Moves

Remember the days when a free agent was guaranteed to join the New York Yankees? It wasn’t that long ago. Even last winter they managed to pull in Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann.

Today may have signaled a change in the way the Yankees do business. And although the excitement is the same level as going to the prom with your sister, this new way of doing things could be for the best even if nobody is too giddy.

The two moves I am referring to are signing free agent pitcher Andrew Miller and finding their potential future shortstop Didi Gregorius in a three-team trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Detroit Tigers.

To me, the Miller signing is absolutely ridiculous. Apparently he was a top free agent even though he has a career 4.91 ERA. The Yankees signed him to a 4-year deal where he will make $9 million in each. I understand what they’re doing, getting the best left-handed arm available, which fills a need they had in the bullpen. At $9 million though, for a relief pitcher…

I’m going to stop before I say something too insulting.

By Keith Allison on Flickr [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Keith Allison on Flickr [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
People seem to be too stuck on thinking bout what Miller was supposed to be. A former first round pick by the Tigers, he was a key member of the trade that netted them Dontrelle Willis and more importantly Miguel Cabrera. You can shove his great 2014 at me all you want. Miller is not worth $9 million even over 2 years.

As for Gregorius, he’s still young. I say this as a defense in case everything else I mention about him comes off as an attack. He has only played in 191 major league games and has a .243 batting average to show for it. He is a good fielder and I do believe he has potential to become one of the better shortstops in baseball with the glove. A hunch also tells me this will be a complete failure.

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Gregorius has played awesome at Triple A yet has not proven he is ready to be a full-time major league player. No other options, it looks like he will be the one the Yankees go with to replace Derek Jeter.

Can. You. Feel. The. Pressure.

When I heard about both of these transactions I let out a little “meh.” I’m more impressed with teenage boys driving loud cars than these two additions.

To the Yankees and the moves they made today, I dedicate this song:

How the 2014 New York Yankees Would Have Looked in 2008

When I look at the 2014 New York Yankees’ roster I see a team assembled by a guy who stopped paying attention to baseball a few years earlier. This was a fantasy baseball roster of guys who were once very good. It’s like someone got an old copy of Baseball Digest and thought it was new.

Of course, the team was not as dreadfully awful as some of the “dream teams” in sports from recent years. They still finished above .500 and can blame some of their failures on injuries.

Curious, I wonder how the 2014 Yankees would look if they had this team assembled back in 2008. How good would they have been and would they have actually made the playoffs? We already know they would have.

Keep in mind not all players will be included in this assessment. I’m going to focus mostly on the older players and not the ones who were still in college back when this team would have actually been good.

This is how the statistics of the players on the Yankees looked in 2008 and how they were in 2014:

Brian McCann

23 Home Runs, 87 RBIs, .301 Batting Average, .373 On-Base Percentage

23 Home Runs, 75 RBIs, .232 Batting Average, .286 On-Base Percentage

Mark Teixeira

33 Home Runs, 121 RBIs, .308 Batting Average, .410 On-Base Percentage

22 Home Runs, 62 RBIs, .216 Batting Average, .313 On-Base Percentage

Brian Roberts

107 Runs Scored, 51 Doubles, 40 Stolen Bases, .296 Batting Average

40 Runs Scored, 16 Doubles, 7 Stolen Bases, .237 Batting Average

Derek Jeter

179 Hits, 88 Runs Scored, .300 Batting Average, .363 On-Base Percentage

149 Hits, 47 Runs Scored, .256 Batting Average, .304 On-Base Percentage

Ichiro Suzuki

103 Runs Scored, 213 Hits, 43 Stolen Bases, .310 Batting Average, .361 On-Base Percentage

42 Runs Scored, 102 Hits, 15 Stolen Bases, .284 Batting Average, .324 On-Base Percentage

Jacoby Ellsbury

155 Hits, 9 Home Runs, 50 Stolen Bases, .280 Batting Average, .336 On-Base Percentage

156 Hits, 16 Home Runs, 39 Stolen Bases, .271 Batting Average, .328 On-Base Percentage

Carlos Beltran

116 Runs Scored, 172 Hits, 27 Home Runs, 112 RBIs, .284 Batting Average, .376 On-Base Percentage

46 Runs Scored, 94 Hits, 15 Home Runs, 49 RBIs, .233 Batting Average, .301 On-Base Percentage

Alfonso Soriano

29 Home Runs, 75 RBIs, .280 Batting Average, .344 On-Base Percentage

6 Home Runs, 23 RBIs, .221 Batting Average, .244 On-Base Percentage

By Keith Alison [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Keith Alison [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
This is just a small sample of the team now compared to the numbers these guys were putting up 6 seasons ago.

There were also guys like Kelly Johnson, Chase Headley, Stephen Drew, Martin Prado, and Chris Young on the offense who have had some good seasons in the past. Not to mention, CC Sabathia was an absolute monster for a few years prior to 2014 when he looked like me trying to throw a baseball with my left arm.

I do acknowledge there is a bit of a bias here personally and with the numbers. However the numbers bias should be thrown out as not being able to stay healthy is a hindrance and should be considered with most of the players mentioned; especially McCann and Ellsbury who are both relatively young still.

This is a bit of an unfair assessment as the prime of the careers of these men all seemed to occur around the same time thus the 2014 statistics they had were worse.

But that proves the point more than anything.

This was a team put together without really paying attention much to the present and instead focused on bringing players onto the roster with a good history. This strategy does not and will not work.

Five Statistical Facts about Robinson Cano

Really, the player who should have been the heart of the New York Yankees from 2009-2013 was Robinson Cano. The second baseman that could hit for average, power, and drive in runs was overshadowed by the likes of Derek Jeter. Pretty much every season Cano had with the Yankees outshines Jeter. Now a member of the Seattle Mariners, he has a chance to become the respected player he should have been. These are five statistical facts to help prove my point or at least waste your time.

100+ Runs Scored and 100+ RBIs

In 2010 and 2011 Cano scored and knocked in over 100 runs. Additionally, Cano scored over 100 in 2009 and 2012. He also drove in over 100 in 2013. So if you want to combine the two achievements, from 2009-2013 he scored or knocked in at least 100. In the years he was unable to accomplish this feat he was still pretty close; particularly in 2007 when he had 93 runs and 97 RBIs.

Batting Average

Only in 2008 when he hit .271 in what was a down year for the entire Yankees’ franchise was Cano unable to hit at .297 or above. A .310 career hitter following the 2014 season, Cano’s current season high for batting average is .342 which is what he hit in 2006.

By Keith Allison (Robinson Cano) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Keith Allison (Robinson Cano) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Double Play Machine

I made the mistake of suggesting earlier that my goal here was to get you on the Cano-bandwagon. On the contrary, I’m delivery an unbiased report on the statistics he has accumulated. One major weakness for Cano has been his double plays grounded into. His season low is 16 and his season high is 22. Not a player with much speed, this will probably always be something to worry about with him.

Postseason Batting

In the 51 games he has played in the postseason, Cano has only hit .222. In his most recent postseason experience in 2012, Cano hit .091 in the ALDS and then .056 in the ALCS. Cano’s best series was easily the 2010 ALCS where he hit 4 home runs against the Texas Rangers along with a .348 batting average. However the Yankees would still lose the series in 6 games.

Staying Healthy

We have yet to live in a world where Cano has missed an extended period of time; at least not since his hamstring injury in 2006. Since then, Cano has played in anywhere from 157-161 games each season. He’s as much of an everyday player as anyone in baseball and thankfully for the Mariners he’s a very good one.

The Most Uncomfortable Picture of Baseball Players Ever

You thought Prince Fielder‘s picture from The Body Issue was bad?

prince fielder body issue

I think there’s a worse picture out there of baseball players losing their uniforms.

uncomfortable baseball 2

The above photograph is from 1997. In the image are shortstops Alex Gonzalez, Edgar Renteria, Rey Ordonez, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez.

Not present in the photograph are shirts or dignity.

No one is really quite sure why the good people at Sports Illustrated thought this was a good photo opportunity. My guess is they were attempting to capitalize on the trend of boy bands around at the time because other than that I cannot think of any other reason why 5 young men would sit around shirtless together without a swimming pool around.

Gonzalez (far left) looks far too comfortable. He knows he’s out of his element, but appears to be liking it. His eyes are so locked onto the camera it’s like he knows he will never be this popular again.

Renteria (back left) is also pretty relaxed. He gets the joke though and is probably glad most of his naked body is covered by someone’s head. I know I would be.

Ordonez (back right) seems to know something nobody else does. He’s smirking. He is probably wondering why he’s there until realizing the number five is better than four because if they were four it looks like a double-date.

Jeter (far right) seems the most serious of any. He’s making the face he would make with clothes on. He’s also coming off winning the World Series so he’s on top of the world at the time. Still, he could loosen up a little bit.

Rodriguez (front and center) just looks happy. He’s shirtless and surrounded by four of his buddies doing the same. If he could do it all over again I think Rodriguez would die immediately after.

Pictures like this should not exist. It’s bad enough that they all have matching gold chains. Obviously, the bigger question is why they don’t have shirts on.

There is the possibility that if they were wearing their uniforms it would be copyright infringement. Then again, if this were the issue then it would mean the magazine would never be able to publish an image of a team’s logo. This is me trying to come up with any reason why such a frightening image would ever be taken then used.

In my opinion, this picture is a step above a Lemon Party. If you don’t know what that is, save yourself from ever finding out.