29 September 2014

Fantasy Football Advice

I don't have time for a real post in the immediate future, so I am giving you some Fantasy Football advice. Go back in time and draft this guy as your starting quarterback in the 6th round:

Andrew Luck: Starting QB, Third-string Ladies' Man

Then maybe your team will be 4-0 like mine is. Bonus points if you are drafting on your phone during class and pick up high-scoring wide receivers in the 2nd and 3rd rounds as a panic move because all the top running backs are taken, then play it off like you planned it that way when the top running backs get arrested/get injured/are ineffective.

I reserve the right to retract all of this when my team crashes and burns during a pivotal playoff match-up in about ten weeks' time.

27 September 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 113: Jamie Moyer Instant Player Collection

One way I've been entertaining myself lately is picking up 'instant' player collections on the cheap from eBay. They are usually just bulk lots of base cards featuring the non-star players who intrigue me. One of those guys is Jamie Moyer, who pitched at a pretty good level from age 23 to age 49, getting his first and only All-Star berth at age 40 with Seattle and winning a World Series ring at age 45 with Philadelphia. Topps should do one of those Through the Years Wall Art things everyone's talking about for Moyer. Actually, the one I really want is one for Mario Mendoza. I would 100% for real buy that one.

I snagged a lot of around 75 Jamie Moyer cards for pennies per card. There is nothing really spectacular in this lot, but I wan't really expecting that. I just wanted to kick-start a player collection I'd been thinking about for a while, but hadn't taken any action on. There are some gems in here, though.

First up are some nice junk-wax era cards of various designs. I don't have much to say about this, but you can see he wears his pant-legs in the proper old-school style. This is a trend that would continue throughout his career, as we will see.

Moyer got a couple of cards in each of these sets for 1989, with cards noting his move to the Rangers. That first Upper Deck picture isn't very flattering. And that second Topps card is interesting to me for some reason. I think it has to do with the placement of the ball in his glove. I know he's probably pinching the back of it with his hand, but the optical illusion is that it's just kind of hanging there.

I've already mentioned that some of the 2014 Topps Finest cards look like Fruit Roll-Ups. With '89 Donruss we add another set to the Fruit Roll-Up list. Moyer looks pretty perplexed on his card. He's like, "What the heck is a Fruit Roll-Up?" Just kidding. He and his wife have got 8 kids, so he probably knows exactly what a Fruit Roll-Up is. Of course, he may not have had any kids this early in his career, so maybe he didn't know what a Fruit Roll-Up was when this photo was taken.

It seems that I don't have much to say about 1990. There have been a lot of cards from this particular year in my collection over time, but I don't have any insight to offer.

The 1991 Upper Deck card with Moyer lounging in a chair is pretty good. Upper Deck and the sub-brand Collector's Choice always seemed to have good photos. I thought is was interesting that the Stadium Club and Score cards almost look like continuations of the same pitch, and the Fleer and Topps cards have almost exactly the same photo chosen, although the pictures were obviously from different games.

There is a gap in the action as Moyer spent 1992 in Detroit's minor league system. He resurfaced with the Orioles in 1993, and started getting baseball cards again. I know the little position indicator guy has been done on cards before, but I like it when it pops up. Did I already mention that I really liked the Collector's Choice brand? Moyer gets another cool lounging photo on the card from Score.

I bought a lot of 1993-94 Topps Basketball cards, which were basically the same design as 1994 Topps Baseball, with the exception that the sharp angle on the bottom of the baseball design was a curved line on the basketball set.

Somehow Fleer managed to fit three or four different pictures of players on each card, distributed between front and back, while these days Topps struggles just to find one different image per card.

Do you think Jamie was going for the high five in that picture, got denied, and then tried to play it off as a wave? If so, then he was Tom Brady before Tom Brady was Tom Brady.

This group of cards has one of my favorite photos of the lot, with the Score card featuring what must have been a castoff photo from a shoot for the Studio brand. That's a glamour shot fit for a king, or at least for Uncle Rico.

I like to see athletes showing proper respect during the National Anthem. An easy way for an athlete to lose me as a fan is to not show some respect for the Anthem. Maybe this reaction leads me to unfairly judge athletes who aren't originally from America, but when I am watching a game and have that gut reaction to a player I don't usually go and research their home of origin. Moyer is showing good form here.

The Aurora card is kind of interesting. With that little starburst halo around Moyer's headshot, it looks like he is being venerated as a Saint or something. I know he's a pretty religious dude (because Wikipedia), but I don't know that he considers himself devout enough to emanate light.

Again with the lounging shots. This appears to be another Studio castoff. The photographer was like, "Okay, now let's get a spontaneous lying down shot! Good! Good! Now raise that left arm a bit and show a little midriff! Excellent! That hot stuff! You're a manimal! Flex those arms and give us a casual smile!"

Not much to see here. This dude has got a pretty consistent pitching motion. I keep having to bounce back and forth between card groups because I think there is a reused photo, but usually it is pretty obvious that the photos aren't from the same day or even the same year. The Skybox Thunder backdrop is hideous.

Horizontal cards always present a problem when trying to compose good scans.

Here we are exposed to Jamie Moyer's man-butt from a couple of different angles. One of my blog posts gets an unreasonable number of hits compared to all of my other posts, and I think it's because the word man-butt is included in the text. I am going to try it again and see if this post also gets an inordinate number of page views.

In addition to being a rare shot of Moyer at the plate, the Topps Total card features Moyer's first name spelled as Jaime and not Jamie. It's okay, Topps, Moyer's only been in the league for like 500 years. You can't be expected to know everybody player's name, not even in a set called Total.

And here is the end of the lot, with a few cards featuring Moyer as a Phillie. I guess the most notable thing in this bunch is Moyer's hint of UPF (Ugly Pitching Face) on the Upper Deck card. Maybe he is trying to do a Popeye impression while pitching as part of a dare from his teammates. Gugguguguguh! I yam what I yam!

25 September 2014

2014 Allen & Ginter Air Supremacy

Over the weekend we went to an air show at the local Air Force Base. My dad was in the Air Force when I was a kid, and I have fond memories of various air shows and the amazing and comprehensive Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio.  I wanted to share some of that experience with my kids.

To tie this in to my card blog, I also picked up the Air Supremacy set from this year's Topps Allen & Ginter release. I got the full set as part of a master set I picked up on eBay a little while after it released. I am pretty sure that the F-22 Raptor and P-51 Mustang were there at the air show this weekend, but we didn't make it far enough down the flight line to see them.

Here are our three sons in the back of the KC-135 Stratotanker. The line to get inside the plane was about 25 minutes, then another 20 minutes to get to the back of the plane for a look at the refueling crew station, and then another 20 minutes to get to the front of the aircraft for a visit to the cockpit. In this picture the kids were still pretty happy. The plane had windows they could look out of and web seats with seatbelts they could mess with. The parachute demonstration happened just before we got to the cockpit, and my wife and two of the boys went out to watch that. That was the wrong move. The parachutists were right in the sun, so no one could see them, and there weren't any wild formations or colored smoke streams that might make for an exciting show. One of our sons really wanted to stay in and see the cockpit, so he got to climb around up there and wave at everyone through the windows.

We saw a B-52 while we were there, but didn't go over and look at it. The F-16s were there in the form of the Thunderbirds. I also saw an F/A-18 Hornet in the distance. By the time we got out of the FC-135 the kids were pretty restless and everyone was feeling a bit hot and dehydrated. It was time for some Snow Cones.

The ramp-up to the Thunderbirds show took a long time without a lot of action, so to keep the kids from melting down further than they were already we took them over to see a helicopter. They especially enjoyed messing around with the door guns, 240D machine guns. I've spent a good deal of time with the 240B and 240C versions of the 240 during my time as a Cavalry Scout and Tank Crewman.

Usually the 3-year olds only get their binkys at bedtime, but this little guy was seconds away from a total implosion. He was pretty enamored with the machine gun, which was a welcome distraction.

I don't think any of these planes were there, but I have seen a Harrier take off before. I remember it being pretty noisy.

And here's the business end of the machine gun, with a very happy 5-year old on the trigger. He was pretty tired by the end of the day, but kept up a pretty good attitude the whole time.

There were plenty of F-15's on base, so we got to see quite a few of them. I've always thought the F-15 was a beautiful aircraft. It's kind of sad for me to see the newer planes coming on to take its place. My dad's job with the air force had something to do with the F-15, so there is that connection as well. My favorite plane ever is probably the SR-71 Blackbird, but the F-15 Eagle and P-51 Mustang probably round out my Top 3.

We get V-22 Ospreys from time to time flying around the air base where I work. I like the idea of the tilt-rotor aircraft. It's a concept straight out of science fiction art. There just seems to be a proportionally large number of V-22 crashes when compared to other aircraft. It could just be that Osprey crashes are over-reported, though.

The boys also enjoyed sitting in the front of the helicopter, although by this time there was quite a crowd and we rushed them through. I only got a picture of one kid up front.

The helicopter was the last stop for us, as the Thunderbirds finally took off and started their show. The low-altitude maneuvers and tricks were pretty neat. The high-altitude stuff was all square in the sun, so it may or may not have been pretty cool. The Thunderbirds' demonstration almost made all the pain up to that point worth it. Everyone was getting pretty frustrated and grouchy near the end of the demonstration, so we began our move toward the exit along with all the other people who had apparently hit their limit at the same time. We were able to catch a bus most of the way to the parking lot, but it was still a long, hot, and miserable walk to the car. We got some more liquid and food into the kids and they slept most of the way home.

We were able to get a picture with a race car before we left. The boy on the left was experiencing sensory overload with the noise from the planes and the heat and sun, the boy in the middle was tired and didn't want to stand there any more, and the boy on the right was doing his best to look at the camera, but just like everything else at the air show, the camera was right in the sun.

There were supposedly 15-20 aircraft on display at the show, but we were only able to see about four of them, as well as a couple of flight demonstrations. The parking situation was a nightmare, the concessions were ridiculously overpriced, the sun was hot, the security checkpoint wasn't handling the crowd well at all, and it was pretty hard for me to not tell the whole trip to pound sand. I hope that in spite of all that, my kids will be able to remember the fun parts of the experience and want to go next time. Maybe we will be able to plan a bit better for the next show we attend, so that we spend less time walking and waiting in lines, and more time seeing aircraft. I will probably have to adjust my expectations, too, as I really wanted to see more stuff. That's just not going to happen when you are towing three little guys around.

Edit: Today at dinner our youngest (by two minutes) was talking about going to the airshow, going in an airplane, and riding on a bus, so I guess he is pretty happy with his first air show experience. If your kids are talking about the fun they had four or five days later, then I guess that's about the best you can hope for.

23 September 2014

2014 Topps Finest 21-30

Here are the next ten cards in the very colorful 2014 Topps Finest set. Billy Hamilton does a lot of base-stealing, but what is memorable about him from my perspective is that he helped my fictional team in the Out of the Park baseball simulation game to win a couple championships before his performance declined, a string of injuries hit him, no other team wanted to take on his bloated contract, and I got run out of town unceremoniously. But he had a long career and eventually got into the Hall of Fame.

Here is the hottest rookie of the year, especially since Tanaka spent so much time on the DL. Abreu has hit approximately 3 billion home runs this season and his autographs are driving many of the baseball products, just like Puig, Trout, Harper, and Strasburg before him.

Prince Fielder has been out all season basically with a neck injury. He is sure a big dude. I don't know what else to say about him.

McCutchen is one of those guys who just looks good on a baseball card. I don't know why. He's pretty photogenic and the Pirates have good uniform colors, I guess. It's hard to look bad in a Pirates uniform. The same could be said about the A's uniforms, too.

Clayton Kershaw is a dominant pitcher, but he looks like a Muppet. I guess there are worse things to resemble. I'm just jealous that I didn't draft him in any fantasy baseball leagues.

I don't even know who this Rafael Montero guy is. He's got a pretty nice patch on his sleeve, though, which gets a few extra words devoted to him in this post.

A Met I never heard of is followed up by a Met everyone knows. I don't have any data or anything to back this up since the guy is a perennial All-Star, but I feel like David Wright is undervalued in the hobby. Maybe I just don't know enough Mets fans. Or maybe Mets fans are busy focusing on the future, which has to be brighter than the Mets of Wright's era.

I think I should know more about Chris Owings, but I don't. His name seems familiar, but if I hadn't already seen this card and you asked me which team he played for, it would have taken me several guesses to get it right.

I was kind of surprised to see that Pedroia has only played in 9 seasons, which is really more like 8 if you take out the 30 games he played before his rookie year. It feels like he's been around forever. Albert Pujols was a veteran of several years before Pedroia showed up, but in my mind they occupy a similar place in time. Of course, my concept of the passage of time isn't really a very accurate representation of anything.

Carlos Gonzalez is a pretty good player, but Colorado is kind of a black hole. The local sports talk shows have been all abuzz, as Boise's Short-Season Class A team, the Hawks, had their affiliation dropped by the Chicago Cubs and picked up by the Rockies. Much of the debate centers around whether there will be enough movement to get a new stadium built, as the condition of the facility was rumored to be a major reason for the Cubs to pull their affiliation. I don't really care either way. I have always liked the idea of attending games for the local NBA D-league and minor league baseball teams, but the cost of going and the inconvenience of getting my butt out of the house keeps me from ever actually doing it. I am really terrible at being a sports fan.