Monday, May 28, 2012

Skinny and Speedy

By the title of the post, you may be trying to figure out what player, I will be discussing today.  Since, you are reading the Platter, you are most likely a baseball fan and/or a baseball card collector.  That narrows the search down as to this ball player.

Some readers may be thinking of skinny and speedy players like Otis Nixon or Eugenio Velez.

I actually hope that nobody was thinking of Velez.  He should never be thought of or mentioned ever again for the history of the world.  That is a special announcement from the Platter.

I recently got a through the mail autograph from ex-Dodger, Juan Pierre!  Pierre now plays for the last place Philadelphia Phillies.  Pierre actually still gets some starts and has 149 plate appearances this year.  Even guys that play left field and have OPSed .657 the previous two seasons get some playing time in the downtrodden National League.

I am happy that Pierre has kept his career going after the Dodgers traded him after the 2009 season.  I wasn't the biggest Juan Pierre fan but, he always played hard.  He had a lot of heart and fight.  His numbers just didn't reflect that.  Pierre had an OPS under .700 for two of his three seasons in Dodger Blue.

My sister was a big Pierre fan.  She may have been the only person in Los Angeles with a Juan Pierre t-shirt.    She would always speak of his greatness.  My sister weighs 100 pounds.  She is a stick figure.  She probably rooted hard for Pierre because they weighed the same.

Pierre is very good at responding to through the mail requests.  I sent out a few cards to him during spring training and he got back to me just last week.  He must have held onto his mail from March and got back to it when he had a chance.  Super nice of him.

Pierre also kept one card I sent him.  I hope he is a collector himself.  Maybe he is the worlds only Juan Pierre Super Collector.

Also, does anyone in the blog world know what Psalm 37 is?  Is that a good Psalm?

Thanks to Pierre for sending me these nice two autos in blue sharpie.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Just The Hits

I recently saw Greg Zakwin from Plaschke, Thy Sweater is Argyle at the Dodger Fan Fest last weekend.  We talked some baseball and about cards for a bit.  I actually handed him a couple cards that he had asked for a while back.  Zakwin and I had made a trade at Valley Sports Cards several weeks ago and these two cards completed that trade.

That trade involved me giving him a huge chunk of my Ryan Braun collection.  I only collect cheats that are Dodgers because they were at least risking their long term health for Doyer victories.  But, cheats on other teams steal MVPs from Matt Kemp.  Not cool, Ryan Braun.

Anyways, when I saw Zakwin at the fan fest, I mentioned that I still needed to post the cards that he gave me weeks ago.  He looked sad and disappointed.  He even cried a little and then that made me cry as well.  I felt that I let him down by my long awaited trade post.

The tears have went away now and I am ready to show off the goods from Zakwin.

I hate hybrid cards with a different team name as compared to the uniform Adrian Beltre is wearing.  My love for bat relics and Beltre power makes up for Upper Deck tackiness.

The Dodgers have been on an endless search for an above average third baseman since Beltre left after the 2004 season.  Casey Blake has been the best of the bunch.  That doesn't say much because guys like Juan Uribe and Mike Edwards have manned the hot corner since Beltre's departure.

In 2003, Chin-Feng Chen was known as a future phenom in some circles.  In 2012, Chin-Feng Chen isn't known as anything to anybody.

Chen was a big time power threat coming out of Taiwan.  He hit 31 home runs in his minor league debut season as a 21 year old in high-A ball.  He was a consistent 20-25 homer guy throughout his minor league career after his 31 homer season.

He only ended up with two hits in the majors in 25 plate appearances.  Chen never got much of a chance at the big league level.

Welcome to my collection of Dodger busts, Mr.Chen.

Another Andre Ethier to add to my collection.  Ethier is having a really nice season so far. At the beginning of the season, I was thinking that the Dodgers shouldn't resign him after the season.  His demands may be too high and he was coming off some injury plagued and sub par seasons.

So far, Ethier has been a beast in 2012.  He has hit lefties better and seems faster this year in the outfield and on the base paths.  I am now kind of hoping the new Dodger owners give him an extension.

This is a super flashy card of Kaz Ishii with a piece of white jersey.  The previous card of Andre Ethier has a piece of gray jersey.  Not much more color but, gray is better than a white piece of cloth.  Oddly, this Ishii card is numbered out of 25.  Leaf should have made the Ishii card with a piece of a number or letter.  Maybe a small piece?

Sorry for the delay on this post, Zakwin.  Next time we meet up, we'll swap some cardboard again.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Minor League Pop

I love collecting autographs of failed Dodger prospects.  Players like Angel Pena and Chin-Lung Hu fit into this category.  I have built up a decent sized collection so far.  But, I knew that something was missing.  I knew that my collection of Dodger busts wasn't anywhere near complete.  Even my Darren Dreifort signed card doesn't make my collection complete.

The Dodgers held a fan fest over the weekend.  This was a good opportunity to snag some autos of past Dodger players.  When I looked at the list of former players that were signing and saw a name from my childhood.

That name was Billy Ashley.

As a child in the 90s, Ashley was one of the first Dodger prospects that I remember hearing about.  Fans and the media thought that he would become a monster power hitter in the big leagues.  He also looked like a ballplayer.  He was massive with ripped arms.  Ashley looked destined to be a middle of the order masher.

Ashley hit really well throughout the Dodgers minor league system.  He hit 37 home runs in Albuquerque at the age of 23.  Albuquerque was the Dodgers Triple-A affiliate at the time.  It is a hitters park but, 37 homers for a 23 year old in Triple-A is impressive and so is a .428 on-base percentage.

Sadly, that was the best year of Ashley's professional career.  He would never come close to putting up numbers like that during his stint in the majors.  Ashley ended up hitting only 28 homers in a 7 year big league career with the Dodgers and Red Sox.

This Billy Ashley is a great addition to my Dodger autograph collection.  This was also my second favorite pick-up at the Dodgers Fan Fest.  I will continue to post about the cards I got signed from this event.

Thanks to the Dodgers for having Billy Ashley at the Fan Fest.  Many Dodger fans wouldn't care for his auto but, it means a lot to me.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

He's My Boy

I had the privilege of going to the first Dodgers fan fest on Saturday May 19th.  The event was held in the Dodger Stadium parking lot.  There were going to be tons of players, both past and present, signing autographs that day.  I believe the total number of players was around 45.  I was super excited for this event.

Some of the current Dodgers that signed autographs that day were Andre Ethier, James Loney, and future all-star A.J. Ellis.  Those the were the names of players I wasn't most excited to meet.  The line to get Loney's and Ethier's signature were humongous.  Ellis' signing time conflicted with the time of the player I wanted to see the most.  That crossed those three off my list.  Maybe another day.

I was able to get several signatures that day.  I think that I will break them down into different posts, while highlighting my favorite signed cards from the fan fest.

But, there was one signed baseball that made the fan fest worthwhile for me.......

You may not recognize this signature.  This signed baseball is of the great Ronald Belisario.  This guy has had a wild big league career.  He has had a career of striking dudes out, an alcohol related arrest and a failed drug test for cocaine.  Belisario has also had visa issues while trying to get from his native Venezuela to the United States.  This visa issue had him miss part of the 2010 season and all of the 2011 season.

He is kind of like a real life Kenny Powers.  He also has only been in the big leagues for three seasons.  He debuted in 2009, pitched in 59 games in 2010, missed 2011 and is now back in 2012 after serving a drug suspension.

Did I mention that he has only pitched in the majors for three seasons.  He has already been running amok with various problems.

That is why I like him.  He goes through a bunch of crap that he puts on himself and bounces back like nothing ever happened.  Belisario shows back up to spring training this year and pretends like everything is cool and got down with working out.

Every year I pick a random bullpen guy to pull for.  A type of guy that some Dodger fans may not care about or know much about them.  In recent years I have latched onto and cheered for players like Jeff Weaver, Joe Beimel, and Giovanni Carrara.

This year it is party boy/relief pitcher, Ronald Belisario.  My favorite autograph of the day.

I will post some more of the autographs from the fan fest later.  Keep an eye out for my second favorite signature of the fan fest.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Piazza and Nomo, Show and Tell

My plan and goal was to whittle down the stack of bubble mailers full of cards.  These cards are from some great traders out in the blog world.  I wanted to post about them before I started to make some new trades.

That hasn't happened so far.  I sent out a couple packages to complete some trades.  I did organize and place some cards into my binders tonight.  That stack of cards was about to topple over.

I was able to tend to my collection tonight because the Dodgers had the day off.  I hate when the Dodgers have an off day.  Some players probably look forward to there days off.  They may spend time with family, recover from an injury, or go on a drinking binge in Old Town Pasadena.

But, for me, the Dodgers off day is terrible.  I don't know how to fill that void of a few hours in my day without a baseball game to watch.

Time to show some Dodgers of my childhood.  The Diamond King seems to come across some promo cards from the 90s.  Some of the cards that he has sent me in our trades were once out of my price range back in the day.

The shiny Donruss Preferred card is numbered out of 1500.  That was considered rare back in 1997.  The set that Donruss is sampling is called "Staremaster."  The set is supposed to be showing a baseball player staring out in a random direction and supposedly Mike Piazza has mastered this.

I am not sure if this "Staremaster" card is only a sample or if it caught on and was in the real Donruss Preferred set.  The set is too lame for me to look up.

Oddly, I am glad to be one of the 1500 people to own this card.  Piazza is Dodger Blue will be in my collection even if he is only staring.

The Diamond King also included some Hideo Nomo cards.  This card is made by Upper Deck in 1996.  At one point in 1996, this card was sold for five dollars.

Times were crazy back then.  Inserts still had monetary value in the mid-90s.  The child Spiegel, in 1996 didn't buy cards that cost five dollars.  That was out of my range.  Current Spiegel, does spend five dollars on cards that are autographed or vintage.  I like this time better.

The Diamond King hasn't posted anything in a few weeks.  I hope he gets back in the blogging mood and we can trade again.  Thanks for the cards!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Victory Celebration Post

My decision to write a post tonight was contingent on the outcome of the Dodgers/Giants game.  Thankfully, the Dodgers dominated tonight by winning 9-1.  Matt Kemp had a great game tonight by going 3-3 with a walk.  Ted Lilly continued his Kershaw-esque season by having another great outing.  Even Adam Kennedy got a base hit and a run batted in.

Watching a great game like that gave me the energy and the drive to write some words today.  All my readers can thank the Dodgers for winning tonight because they get to read a Platter post.

I have gotten some TTM returns from some Dodgers of the 80s.  I have put some good use to the many 80s cards in white boxes scattered on my bedroom floor.  Getting a 1989 Topps Alfredo Griffin card signed is a good use.

Griffin was on the 1988 World Series winning Dodger team.  He had over 300 at-bats that season with an OBP% of .259.  Griffin had 16 at-bats in the '88 World Series against the Oakland Athletics.  He posted a .278 OBP% in that series.  Way to step your game up when it counts, Alfredo.

Griffin now coaches in the Anaheim Angel organization.  I sent this card and a couple others to Arizona where the Angels play spring training games.  He had some success in Toronto by leading the league in triples at 15 in 1980.  I mentioned that in the letter that I sent him because the triple is one of my favorite plays in baseball.

Another return that I received was from former Dodger catcher Joe Ferguson.  I love it when a Dodger player signs a Dodger card with a blue sharpie.  The signature always looks nicer.

When I looked at Ferguson's stats for this post, I thought that they looked similar to another former Dodger catcher, Rod Barajas.  I scrolled down the page on Baseball Reference and it shows that Barajas is the seventh most similar batter to Ferguson.  I was close.

Franklin Stubbs works as a coach in the Dodgers minor league system.  I sent this card to Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona.  Stubbs decided to scribble on it in ballpoint pen.  Luckily, I sent him two other cards and he actually signed his name in ballpoint pen on those ones.

Every major league baseball team should have an autograph inspector.  When a player gets a letter from a fan that wants an autograph, the inspector then checks the players signature before the item is returned to the fan.  There needs to be some quality control.  The Dodgers new ownership group should get on that.

All Dodger through the mail autos will be in blue sharpie and looking sweet.  I would definitely apply for this position.

Thanks to the above players for taking the time to sign my baseball cards.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Vintage Condition

I think I have a different set of readers that click on my posts when it is vintage related.  If the word vintage is in the title or if a 60s Topps card is pictured on their blog roll.  Some of my readers probably click on my posts when I post a flashy, new school auto.  I am sure that some people crossover and check out posts of mine that are about old cards or new cards.

My gut also tells me that there are a couple people that read my posts no matter what photo is featured.  They are Platter super fans.  I love my super fans.

There are only a couple so, I have to give them a thumbs up.

The other day, a co-worker brought in some baseball cards for me to check out.  He said his father in-law bought some on the cheap for him and he wanted me to evaluate them.  I have read about this happening on a couple other blogs before.  This was my first experience with this scenario.

Of course, the cards were from the 80s-early 90s.  The cards did feature some stars like Pete Rose and Nolan Ryan.  The cards were in crummy shape as well.  All the corners seemed bent and the cardboard texture felt soft, all most felt-like on some of the cards.

It felt weird telling some one these cards had almost no monetary value.  His cards were cool because they featured some big time players in that era.  That makes them have a different kind of value.  He seemed disappointed.

I also had to explain to him that condition mattered to baseball cards.  I thought this was common knowledge but, he seemed to be hearing this for the first time.  Condition also is different in every decade.  This Orlando Cepeda card is in decent condition for a 1969 Topps card.  It is kind of faded and has some white spots.

I can live with that for a card this old.  Also, getting a card of Cepeda, not in a Giants uniform is a major plus.

Here is the classic 1971 Topps Brooks Robinson.  The 1971 set is notorious for having bad edging due to the black borders.

The condition is passable with slight edging problems.  I do love this photo.  This card was one that I have been looking for before I nabbed it at my local card shop.

Also, who is the Baltimore Orioles biggest rival?  The Yankees?  I almost want to blame the photo selection on a fan of the Orioles rival team.  It had to be someone who wasn't a Robinson fan and wanted to punk him in 1971.

This set is also hard to find with good edging.  I would take any Dodger in this set no matter the condition.  A card of a hall of fame Dodger manager such as Walt Alston is always welcome.  The corners are pretty sharp and the edging works.

I would not accept this type of condition of a Ted Lilly card from last year's Topps Heritage set that mimics this set.  Different decades have different standards.

I usually call him Walter Alston rather than Walt Alston.  Was Topps being cheap on the ink?  Was Alston known more as Walt in the 60s and people later called him Walter?  I may never know the answers to these questions.