If you don't have an Andrew McCutchen autograph in your collection, I don't think it could hurt you to go get one soon. The Pirates center-fielder is, at least in my opinion, the front-runner for National League Most Valuable Player. His team is in the playoffs for the first time in twenty years. He has slugged over 20 HRs (for a centerfielder, that ain't bad), 84 RBI's, 94 Runs scored, 27 stolen bases...and a .307 Batting average. The dude can do it all. If he doesn't win the award, then it's all rigged and a sham.
So, assuming the Cutch will win MVP this year, picking up some memorabilia or an auto of his might be a wise investment. Granted, even at this early stage of his career an auto'd and certified sweetspot baseball can cost between 100-200 bucks. That's a little pricey. But, there are deals to be had within that forty to fifty dollar range. Look for signed minor league cards, they are always cheaper than the others. The deals are there, you just have to hunt for them.
Andrew McCutchen should be the first Pirate MVP since Barry Bonds. The guy is an awesome player and seems like a pretty good guy, too. Pick yourself up something "Cutch". You won't be disappointed.
So, I've been reading Zack Hample's blog over the past few days. Don't know Zack? Well, he's the fella that has snagged six or seven THOUSAND baseballs at major league stadiums. Apparently, he's done this for twenty years or so. His record as a ballhawk is certainly impressive.
I, for one, don't know what to think of Zack. There are things that I admire about the guy. Keep in mind, I do not know him nor have I ever met him. But, the level of dedication he has given to ballhawking is certainly one to admire. Twenty years of this? Jeez. If I could string together twenty years of anything, it would certainly be an event for me.
Zack obviously knows the game. He knows hitter's tendencies. He KNOWS the ballparks...where to catch a foul, a homer, snag a third out ball, etc. The guy is knowledgable beyond belief. I like that in a person. Love of the game is first and foremost.
But, Twenty Years? Man...
I also admire the fact that he has written three books on baseball. I friggin' love that. To turn what used to be a hobby for him into a little career (unknown if Zack has a full time job) is freakin' awesome. Damn the man, Zack!
What I don't understand is his complete devotion to traveling to stadiums and spending so much time at the ball park. I love the game and I am not sure I could do this. But, the man is a machine. I'm not hatin' on the guy; just don't understand.
So, the more I read, the more I like Zack Hample. He doesn't seem to get caught up in the media bullshit or the exposure or whatever. Zack seems like a normal guy who loves the game.
Well, the time is upon us. Playoff time. It's really only a week or so away and I couldn't be more excited. And more sad.
I'm excited for the post-season. Of all major professional sports, I believe the MLB playoffs are the best to watch. So many awesome moments. The joy. The heartbreak. The post-season has it all. I shall be watching as many games as work will allow!
I'm saddened by the end of the regular season. This one has been memorable for many reasons. Here are my top stories of this regular season. Feel free to add or ridicule me at will.
1. The Red Sox - Dang them boys can play. I would not have predicted a worst to first scenario in Boston. But, they've played great. Muchos credit from a Rays fan.
2. Young Pitching - From Fernandez to Harvey to Moore to Darvish. This has been a fun time to watch young pitchers come out and play. MLB has stocked the farm for the next dozen years.
3. Manny Machado - Even though he got hurt last night, Manny has been incredible for a pretty decent Orioles squad. The dude is a doubles machine. Looks like Baltimore has third base locked up for many more years.
4. Oakland A's - Who would've thunk the A's would be a legit team? Probably only Billy Beane.
5. Kansas City - Same. KC legit? Yup.
6. The Angels - Holy crap. This team is so loaded. But, they suck. How can this be? It's not because of Trout. It has more to do with a streaky Hamilton and a Gimpy Albert. Other than Trout and Trumbo, the Angels haven't looked more flat.
7. Mariano - We say goodbye to the best reliever of all time. This sucks. The end of an era, for sure.
8. The Captain - I wouldn't think Derek Jeter would be much further behind Mo in retiring. This has been an awful, injury riddled season for DJ. I hate to see it because the guy is a class act.
9. Miguel Cabrera - This generation's Ted Williams. Can. Flat. Out. Hit.
Big stories this year, for sure. I have enjoyed every moment and the playoffs haven't started yet. Speaking of playoffs...let's see who is in (as of this writing).
NL - Braves, Cardinals, Reds, Pittsburgh!, and Dodgers. Pittsburgh. Unbelievable.
AL - Red Sox, A's, and the rest is up for grabs. Looks like the Tigers will win the division with Tampa and Cleveland in the drivers seat for the wild cards. Will Toronto be the Rays spoiler? We shall see.
Fun season. But, the good times don't stop rolling here at Can't Hit the Curve. Throughout the off-season I will still be putting out the good stuff, so keep checking back.
Even though he got shelled in his last start, Matt Moore of the Tampa Bay Rays should be trending up. Hell, I'm not sure if he's trending anywhere up or down. But, I do know that the kid is a quality young pitcher and will win (I said it here first) a Cy Young Award before he ends up leaving the game.
Jose Fernandez and the guy from the Mets (Matt Harvey, yes, Matt Harvey) seem to get all the attention when it comes to young pitchers. But, Matty Moore gets the shaft. Well, screw that. Matt is awesome and for much of these season looked like the ace that the great David Price was supposed to be.
So, Matt Moore. Pitcher for the Rays. Think about picking up something of his right now. Here's why. Moore is one of the young pitchers that is actually trending up and no one seems to know that he is trending up. 15-4 so far this season (with a start or two left to go) and a low 3's ERA. The kid's awesome. So, if you can find yourself a Matt Moore piece of auto or something for pretty cheap I would urge you fine collectors out there to do so.
Who doesn't love the National Baseball Hall of Fame? I do. It's friggin' beautiful. It's kind of like a Mecca for baseball nerds. The city where the Hall is located...Cooperstown...well, that's just somewhere I could live happily.
But, Panini Cooperstown? This sucks. Hard.
Let's take a look see. A one hundred card set. Each pack holds five cards and a little disc thing in it. Therefore, a set collector one need to buy twenty packs (with zero duplicates) for four bucks a piece including tax to complete a set. It can be done. But...jeez.
The 2013 Panini Cooperstown has the lamest insert variations I have ever seen in a card set. Let's start with the color variations.
Green Crystal Shard 1:4 packs
Blue Crystal Shard 1:8 packs
Red Crystal Shard 1:12 packs
Gold Crystal Shard 1 per box
Black Crystal Shard 1/1
Dark Crystal Shard 1:1 billion packs
Dark Crystal...NOT actually in this set.
That's pretty much it for SP's. They aren't even that cool looking. I expected something called a Green Crystal Shard to look really friggin' cool. But, the Robin Young GCS I pulled was just humdrum.
This set is a dud. Each box comes with one HOF autograph. However, there are no cut autos or anything that I could find. So, there will be no autos of Dimaggio, Williams, etc... Nope. Your chances of getting a Gaylord Perry are pretty high, though. Not that there's anything wrong with Gaylord. But, just understand the "hits" are limited. Here's a checklist so you can see what you are getting into here.
I do, however, kind of like the chip disk cards. Those are different...sort of. I believe in the early 2000s, one Fleer set decided to revive the disc card and it only lasted for one set. But, I liked it then and I kind of like it now. So, there ya go. There's your silver lining in this box of poop.
I did buy two packs because I needed to see it for myself. There was nothing worth mentioning in the packs...except for the Yount Green Crystal Skull...err...shard.
Don't buy it. Save the dough. If you must buy something, make it A&G.
I am not an internet marketer and I have no stake in any company. I'm a free agent, a wildcard, a solo proprietor. Basically, I haven't whored myself out...yet. So, you can believe it when I give my thumbs up to a memorabilia company. That's what I'd like to do here with Mill Creek Sports.
Mill Creek Sports is a company in Washington State that...well, as far as sports memorabilia goes...they kick some ass. Mill Creek Sports has great prices on many, and I mean MANY, baseball memorabilia items. They've got the typical baseballs and bats and jerseys and cards. However, they do have some ephemera that I find a little bit interesting.
Joe D. Auto Program
Let's start with the First Day Covers. I have never bought a First Day Cover. An FDC is basically an envelope that was postmarked with the day of a memorable event. This event could be a player's first hit, a national championship, a World Series win, basically whatever a fan would want to commemorate. Then, the collector will get the important figure to sign said envelope. I find the intriguing and will likely buy one at some point. Here's one I found on the Mill Creek Sports site that I thought would be a perfect gift for me (hint, hint, people).
First Day Covers are generally a little cheaper than other items, for some reason. Like this Roger Clemens. It's a mere sixty bucks. And it's certified and graded and whatnot. See? Pretty good deal.
Mill Creek also has some cool items like seat backs, pitching rubber, stadium signs, index cards, game tickets, etc... They are like the smart-man's Steiner. All their items are signed by the big names, come certified, and are reasonably priced.
Mill Creek Sports also has tons of cards that they've had signed and certified on the spot. In fact, I cannot find anything in their inventory that is not certified. They also have a money back guarantee.
One of the best things about Mill Creek Sports is most small items come with FREE SHIPPING! You don't see this much in the interwebs world, any more.
So, if you are smart and are steering clear of Steiner Sports, check out Mill Creek Sports out in Washington. They are good people and will treat you right.
Like I said, I am not paid to promote Mill Creek Sports. They are not a sponsor. They do not kick me some freebies (I wish they would!). And I am in no way affiliated with their company. I'm just a fan of Mill Creek and if I had any money I would buy some stuff from them. But, alas, your humble author is still broke!
*Edit: The Mill Creek Sports guys were nice enough to shoot me a logo which is now an active icon on the right of this page. Click to check them out!
There was a time in the not-too-distant past that CC Sabathia was one of the premier talents in Major League Baseball. That was like...last year. CC had proven that he was dependable and durable and consistent. This year, it seems as if the wheels have fallen off for the 33-year old.
His performance this year, an inflated ERA and deflated win total, is the reason that the Yankee (former)Ace is trending down. Way down, in fact.
I would venture to guess that Sabathia hardly registers on the collective radars of sports memorabilia collectors anymore. In fact, on the interwebs right now I can buy this:
A Reasonable Buy
$25 will buy you this nice little 2002 Fleer cert. Not too bad for what used to be the best pitcher in baseball. Or, you can hit the Bay and find almost two dozen signed CC cards for under ten bucks.
On one hand, his skills are declining and he ain't the spring chicken he used to be. On the other hand, CC is someone who will get some attention when it comes time for the Hall of Fame (he likely won't get in, in my opinion). So, what is a discerning collector to do?
Buy low, motherfucker!
Listen, CC plays for the Yankees. That immediately makes him more collectable than, say, Eric Milton. Eric who? Exactly. Anyway, CC has been an all-star, Cy Young caliber player for many years and, yes, he will be remembered as one of the best of his generation. Therefore, collect the player. Always buy low!!! Now that his products are reasonable, go ahead and pick some up for your future generations.
One should note that Sabathia has one of those "exclusive" deal things with Steiner Sports. So, please be careful not to get gouged by Scott Steiner and his cronies.
We are about a week away from the newest release of Topps Heritage Minor League hitting the shelves. This...at least to me...is a good thing.
Topps Heritage Minor League has been a consistent favorite of mine for the past three or four years. Not that the product is chock full of hits, mind you. It's just that for those of us that dabble in the TTM world, this product gives us lots of cards to send away. The minor league players are usually much better than the majors guys for sending something back to you in the mail. So, Topps Heritage Minor League is a front runner for my favorite set of the year.
Sure, there can be some sure-fire "hot" cards in the release. A couple of years ago I sold a Mike Trout relic for a ridiculous amount. There's always hope that there will be a Trout-like stud in the bunch. But, as with everything, that may not be the case.
Anyway, here's a look at what I could find around the interwebs about Topps Heritage Minor League:
Once again, not a bad looking card. Vintage-style, you know? Hey, it's Heritage. What more do you expect?
The product is good for set collectors. It's fairly reasonable in cost. So, when it hits the shelves I will be sure to buy at least a few packs to give you all something to see.
So, as far as higher-end baseball sets out there, here is one that I may be able to...hell, who am I kidding? I can't afford anything more expensive than Pinnacle right now. But, 2013 Topps Tier 1 came out a couple of weeks ago and I missed telling you all about it.
Turns out, Tier 1 is getting hammered by collectors out there in the interwebs world. "Not worth it", "Redemptions for relic cards?", "Best hit was Jean Segura", etc, etc, etc... Normally, I don't really get on the hate train when it comes to buying product. But, since it turns out I won't be buying any of this stuff, I think I will actually listen to my brethren out there that have actually bought themselves some Tier 1.
Truthfully, I really like the look of these cards. Here's one for you to see:
See there? A nice lookin' card. Clean, simple, a little space-agey but that's ok. If I had the money I may actually buy a box. But...but...the box buyers are the one's that are killing this product on the boards right now. So, here's what I would do.
I would...get this...look for a card out of Tier 1 that I really wanted...like this one...
Andddddd...I would just buy it. Yep, this seems to be the feeling around the baseball collecting world. Wait for the singles, then scoop them up. Because, well, they are sweet cards.
Longoria, Pele, Griffey Jr., Cal Jr., Gwynn, Musial, Bench, Pedroia, Kaline, pretty much all the heavy hitters have signed for this set. But, I'm not sure at the rate in which each signed, how many, etc. So, if you buy a box you may wind up with something akin to this:
Not that there's anything wrong with hitting on an Adam Lind. Well, there probably is something wrong with hitting on Adam Lind. But, for more than eighty bucks a box I want something more. I want to hit on Hank Aaron or Stan Musial. They are sexier, for reals.
So, do what you want with this years Topps Tier 1. I might...might...see if I can scrape together a few shekels for a nice little collection piece. Or I might just let this one fall by the wayside. But, you, my dear collector friend, can do as you wish.
Snooping around the used book pile at a nearby shop, I stumbled across this gem which was personalized and signed by none other than Dodger great Tommy Lasorda. Turns out to be a good find because I had yet to include a Tommy in my smallish HOF'er collection. Here's a pic of the autographed page. I wrote about this particular book in a previous post...and I have no idea who Hugh is...
Now, there is no way that I can authenticate this autograph for certain. I am definitely not going to send it into an authentication agency. Screw that. I paid next to nothing for the book and will have to go on blind faith that it is legit. For comparison purposes I found a certified Lasorda on the interwebs and we shall compare it here.
They look pretty close to me. Good enough and done deal. I'm pleased with this find and if any more baseball-related autographed books come my way, I will certainly share with you all.
Tony Gwynn. Maybe the best contact hitter I have ever watched. Of course, I wasn't alive for Joltin' Joe or Tyrus Cobb. But, for my money, Tony Gwynn Sr. just may be my favorite hitter ever.
Gwynn didn't even look much like a baseball player. His body shape was not unlike fellow Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett. Round-ish. Not pretty, at all. But, what made Gwynn was not his body type, it was his keen batter's eye. Really, the dude could just about hit anything. You could probably pitch him some grapes and he'd smash 'em right back at ya.
Anyway, Tony doesn't really seem to get the love from collectors. Much like the aforementioned Ozzie Smith, Gwynn's auto and memorabilia could be easily afforded. For instance, I could hit up the eBay right now and score a certified Gwynn auto for about 25 bucks. If I wanted a SS baseball...well, that would set me back 75-100 bucks. These are great friggin' prices for memorabilia of one of the greatest hitters that ever lived. Collector's just forget about players past and always jump on the hot young stars of the game.
Don't forget your history, my collector friends. Gwynn, Smith, Kirby Puckett, Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Mattingly, Sandberg, and Dawson should all be on your "to get" list. Most, except maybe the deceased Puckett, could be had at a fairly reasonable cost.
So, anyway, Tony Gwynn was awesome. He played for one team his entire career. Three thousand hits. Hall of fame. Seemingly pretty humble and of good character. What else do you want here, folks?
I just have a lingering question: Why, in the world of sports memorabilia, doesn't Cardinals Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith get more love?
While he was playing, "The Wizard" was easily the best defensive shortstop to play the game. Heck, he may have been the best ever. Some would say, "Defense isn't enough". Have you never watched a YouTube video of the guy? All over the place, acrobatic, made the routine plays as well as the tough plays...Ozzie was a defensive animal.
Offensively, Smith was no slouch, either. He ended his career with over 2,400 hits and almost 600 stolen bases. In an era where shortstops were not expected to hit, not even a little bit, Ozzie was a titan with the bat.
The Hall of Fame voters knew Ozzie Smith was worthy when they voted him (on the first ballot, mind you) to their class of 2002. The induction was memorable and well-deserved. Smith was a class act on the field and off.
So, why don't collectors give him the love he deserves? Right now, I could go on the bay and find a certified auto of Smith for roughly $25. That's insane. This was a man that defined his position in the era in which he played. For those who collect signed baseballs...well, you can find a SS certified ball of Smith for between $75-100. Crazy good prices.
My only thought is that his prices are low because Ozzie is a good signer. Seems like he signs all the time for just about every company and you can find certified autos in multitudinous sets.
I just think we need to show Ozzie some love. Tony Gwynn, too. But, Gwynn is another story for another time...
Check out ozziesmith.com if you get a chance. He has a decent web-site.
It's hard to think of a Marlins player that would actually be trending up. However, starting pitcher Jose Fernandez has shown everyone what a spectacular prospect can look like. The young Miami ace is the real deal. He can really friggin' pitch, which is proven by his ability to win with a very young and experienced team behind him. So, if you want a cheap Fernandez auto or memorabilia card...good luck. His stock is skyrocketing and so are his card prices.
Seven of his top cards on the eBay search clock in at over a thousand bucks. Including a non-auto 1/1. Amazing.
So, like Puig, if you haven't jumped on the bandwagon yet then it probably would behoove you to wait. Or just pick up a couple of plain ol' RC's for four or five bucks. But, don't buy high. Don't ever buy high.
This has been an abnormally slow year for mail requests. I've sent them out; they just haven't really come back. Here's to hoping the off-season will bring some of the request I sent out back to me. Many players sign their mail when they are off...so, we'll see.
My last TTM request will be sent out on Tuesday. This will be my yearly request to Angels Outfielder Josh Hamilton. He signs one per person and you usually get your item back right before Christmas. Josh was also a first round pick for my Rays back in the day. Then he got in trouble with substances, then got clean, then became a star...just not for the Rays. I would have loved to have seen a Hamilton, Crawford, and Upton outfield at the Trop. But, it was not meant to be. I am glad that Hamilton got his act together and has made good. He seems like a pretty decent dude.
So, I will be sending Mr. Hamilton an Allen and Ginter N43 (I just love these cards) from 2012. Sure, it's in a Texas uni but the card is awesome and will look great signed.
Here's an unsigned example:
So, there it is...the end of another baseball season (at least for TTM mailings). We close it out with you Mr. Hamilton. Please, I beg you, don't let a brotha down.