Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Things I Remember

This is my post for Round 1 of the contest being run at the Nachos Grande blog.  The contest is a bracket style post runoff that has readers vote on their favorite posts pertaining to a specific baseball card assigned by Chris at Nachos Grande.

My assigned card is a '97 Collector's Choice Ken Caminiti.  The Collector's Choice sets always add some superb photography.  The sets were cheaply priced and I used to pick up packs of those sets at a local CVS in a great little town named Richboro,PA.  The Caminiti card above depicts the uniqueness and wackiness that a Collector's Choice set included.

Back in the 90s, when I was a boy in age and in mind, I wasn't as into baseball numbers as I am now.  Now I am a man in age with a boyish mindset and baseball statistics matter a lot more to me.  The internet wasn't at the height of greatness as it is in 2013.  I wasn't online for hours a week looking up stats on ballplayers to better understand the game that I love.  I judged baseball players by the old fashioned "eyeball test" which I find somewhat outdated nowadays.

I remember some things about Caminiti as a baseball player.  These notions may be completely false right now, but I believed them to be true at the time.  Some of my remembrance of him may have been proven wrong through statistical analysis as baseball fans evolved into intelligent beings.

I will list out some of the things that I remember about the former slugger.  No more paragraphs for you to skim through and now for an easy to read list format for the folks with short attention spans.

Here are the things that I remember about Ken Caminiti:

  • He was scary.  The boy version of Spiegel was frightened by the sight of this bearded, ripped and mean looking monster.
  • Caminiti may have been an actor on the old HBO dark comedy, OZ.  I still believe this to be true.
  • Caminiti was a beastly defender at third base.  He had a rocket of an arm and was always covered in dirt from the old Jack Murphy Stadium.  He was also always covered in Jack Murphy dirt when playing on the road because the San Diego Padres were too cheap to afford a washer.
  • The above point about Caminiti being a great defensive player may be untrue with modern saber metrics.  He won some Gold Gloves but, we all know now that the Gold Glove award is kind of a sham.
  • Caminiti was the NL MVP in 1996.  I remember that.  The award was probably tough to hand out back in '96 because every major league ballplayer hit over .300 with over 30 jacks.  
  • I even remember Wilton Guerrero hitting 31 homers in 1996.

Those are a handful of things that I remember about Ken Caminiti and a little tidbit about Wilton Guerrero thrown in just for fun.

What do you guys remember about Caminiti the ballplayer?  Do you remember the era when all baseball players looked like freakish body builders?

Also, please don't leave any comments about his life off the field.  Those incidents were just sad and should only be spoken about after several beers in a dark dive bar when being a jerk is acceptable.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Grande Group Break Loot

When it comes to Dodger cards, my collection has some dead zones.  The dead zones are gaps in years where my binders are missing some potentially great Dodger cardboard.  I have a ton of 90s cards.  The 90s was the greatest era for everything including baseball cards.  One of the few problems for collectors of that era was that a million card companies released a million sets each year of the finest decade.  The number of sets that came out to the adoring public in the 90s has left some gaps in my collection.  This isn't too big of a problem for me since the explosion of set releases also led to some creativity among the card designers.  It is just an obstacle to overcome.

Another dead zone in my pursuit of Dodger baseball cards is the first half of the 2000s.  I wasn't a big collector in the early part of the 21st century.  I am probably missing out on some 2001 Topps Dodger cards.  The 2000-2006 era of baseball cards seems harder to track down for some reason.  In the rare case where I have a chance to pounce on some cards from the elusive early 2000s, I get in the ready position and leap towards the opportunity.

Chris from the blog Nachos Grande held a group break in which he was opening up boxes from my collection dead zones.  He offered up some 90s cards as well as some cards from the lost days of the early 2000s.

I have probably never seen this action shot of a leaping Adrian Beltre before.  2000 Skybox Dominion was not on my list of next purchases.  A group break with a sweet variety netted me this gem.

2004 Fleer is a set that I probably would have collected had I been interested in baseball cards in 2004.  It has a simple retro design lifted and slightly updated from an early 90s Fleer release.  This type of card stock is perfect for an autographed signature.  This group break may have gotten me most of the Dodgers I needed for this set.

The 2000 Topps Gold Label set is one that I have been digging for awhile now.  After seeing a box of it broken over at Nachos Grande, it is now on my purchase radar.  The base set is flashy with some decent photography.  The insert sets are really nice and well designed.  A box of these cards will be mine in the near future.

One of the benefits of joining a group break is being able to sample a little bit from a variety of sets.  It is a helpful way to acquire an abundance of cards for your collection and get a chance to discover something new from the collecting world.  I have bought boxes before after seeing them in a group break.  2000 Topps Gold Label is next up for me.

Furthermore, the '93 Upper Deck set was my jam back in the day.  The set had an awesome design with some world class sports photography.  Any group break that is going to open up some '93 Upper Deck is calling my name.

Even though, I have been around a lot of '93 Upper Deck cards, this Eric Karros may be new to me.  Karros cards are one of the leaders in my collection.  Hideo Nomo is in the lead but, Karros and his great hair aren't far behind.

This group break netted me some great cards for me collection.  The boxes opened at Nachos Grande even included a Zenith set that had 8x10 cards in them.  The 8x10s deserve their own post because they are picture frame worthy.  That post will be worth the wait.

Thanks for hosting a fun group break, Chris.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Friendly Contest Made With Nachos

The Nachos Grande is hosting a bracket style contest among sports card bloggers.  Each participant gets to write about a certain card that is posted on Nachos Grande and readers get to vote on whose post is the best for that round.  This should be a fun, friendly competition in the blog world.  Many bloggers have signed up and it will be a blast reading all the posts written by my peers of competition.

Over on this link is the page to Round 0, which is what this post is about.  You can click on that link to also get a better idea about this bracket contest.

Now that I got the little summary typed out, I can get into the meat of this post.  I can reach the point where I can type words about a baseball card.  One of the main perks of this contest is being given assignments on writing topics.  Sometimes it is difficult to come up with a blog post idea and actually feel enough motivation to write about a topic.  Nachos Grande is going to be my idea machine.  I see a card on that blog and now it is time to write.  Gather my thoughts and try to find some golden paragraphs while staring at a Topps Attax card of Franklin Gutierrez.

Another motivation for me to write for a contest like this is to get a pat on the back from my peers.  I am not going to lie.  We all need a pat on the back from people in our circle that share similar interests.  Only another baseball card blogger can know what it is truly like to crack a joke on a cheesy game such as Topps Attax.  The people that read the Platter and those that will recognize a Franklin Gutierrez baseball card are my peers.  Praise or even criticism from those folks holds a lot more weight than if it came from a non-collector who has hobbies that are dull and bland.

Gutierrez is a ballplayer that I hardly know.  The faintest memory that I have of his existence is that he was a former Dodger prospect.  He was once a highly touted Dodger farmhand that was dumped to Cleveland for the infamous Milton Bradley.  I also say dumped to Cleveland because anyone who ends up in that town is dropped there against their will.

Gutierrez has been a solid defensive outfielder in Cleveland and then to the Seattle Mariners.  Gutierrez even got into some games for Seattle in 2013.  He played in 41 games to be exact.  I wonder if Mariners fans even knew that.

The main contribution that Franklin Gutierrez has made during his baseball career is being the key component to the Milton Bradley trade to the Dodgers.  Bradley was a nutcase with a violent temper.  Having Bradley don the Dodger uniform has left me with millions of jokes about him that involve violence, yelling at cops, throwing bottles at fans, threatening his wife after she asked him to not smoke weed in front of their kids, spending time in jail, injuring himself severely while arguing with an umpire and berating reporters and teammates publicly.

All of these incidents would have been over my head if Bradley had stayed in Cleveland.  His career would have meant nothing to me.  Instead Milton Bradley has given me a wealth of entertainment at his expense.  Some of this credit must go to Franklin Gutierrez for being the chip that enticed Cleveland to send Milton Bradley into my world.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Words of Distraction

The pain of the Dodgers playoff defeat by the hands of the Cardinals hasn't fully sunk in yet.  I am still in the zombie-like state of shock.  Totally unsure which emotion I should actually be portraying at any given moment.  I probably laughed at the most inappropriate time at work last night without even realizing laughter was not called for at the time.

The Dodgers lost in embarrassing fashion by a score of 9 to 0 in a playoff elimination game.  Clayton Kershaw started the game for the Dodgers.  Kershaw is the god-like pitcher who has the 2013 Cy Young Award wrapped up by winning an ERA title and thoroughly dominating everyone except the Cardinals.  Getting crushed when your team's ace is on the mound is the second worst way to lose a season ending contest during the postseason.

The absolute worst way, in my opinion, is by losing in walk-off fashion.  That would have hurt even worse seeing a beast like Carlos Beltran up in the bottom of the 9th and hitting a game/season ending base hit to beat the Dodgers.

The outcome is actual outcome is still terrible for Dodger fans.  Its just that it may feel even worse today if we had a grand opportunity to win Game 6 in the later innings.  Maybe that will make my fellow Dodger fans feel slightly better.

Just say to yourself, "well it could have been even more awful."

I decided to buy a pack of 2013 Topps Update this morning.  I felt I needed a pick me up and purchasing some new baseball cards seemed like a great idea.  When fat kids feel gloomy they eat ice cream to feel better.  When I feel dour, I scoop up some baseball cards.  That is what addicts of baseball card collecting do.  I guess if you are down in the dumps, fat and a card hoarder you eat ice cream while buying baseball cards.

This retail rack pack yielded me my first pack pulled Yasiel Puig rookie card.  I had just gotten a Chrome Puig rookie from Brad's Blog.  Maybe getting Puig cards in 2013 is pretty easy?

This Sandy Koufax image has been used before by Topps.  It is another recycled photo that Topps uses just to add Koufax into a set on the cheap.  I still love this image of a celebratory Sandy Koufax.  I just don't want Topps to ruin the joy I have of seeing this photo of a happy Koufax.

Just writing this post should help me make it back to the real world after the Dodgers demise.  Seeing a stack of baseball cards that are ready to be sorted.  I can feel a slight change in mindset that the power of the Platter is giving me.  Writing this post has brought me one step closer to reaching full on off season mode.  I will get there eventually.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Reverting to the Old Standard

The stresses of a playoff run by your favorite ball club can do some damage to your mind.  The Dodgers were last in postseason play in 2009.  That seems like so long ago and a distant memory.  The anguish a baseball fan goes through while watching his team play can be three hours or more of pain during the playoffs.  Even playoff victories lend stress induced blackouts to a person's psyche.  Each playoff game has high impact moments.  The blowout games even have intense innings before a team breaks loose and crushes the ball.

Playoff travel days for the Dodgers give fans some reprieve from high anxiety and gives supporters a chance to breath.  Today is an off day from the NLCS for the players as well as the fans of the Dodgers and Cardinals.  An off day for me personally is a day to be devoted to getting my baseball card collection in order.

Today is also a great time to unwind and not focus my mind solely on the Dodger playoff chances.  That is going to be difficult but, nothing is like immersing yourself in a pile of cardboard gold to take your mind off of anything.

This is my first Yasiel Puig baseball card.  I have taken a slight hiatus from purchasing 2013 baseball cards.  I have been dipping back into the pool of 90s greatness.  Most of the cards from sets that came out during the second half of the baseball season have been obtained through trades.

Brad from the well named site called Brad's Blog had sent me a nice loot of 2013 Dodger cards.  He included a good amount of 2013 Topps Chrome cards that I haven't even seen yet.  I have yet to rip open a pack of 2013 Topps Chrome and now that I have several Dodgers from the set, this makes me less inclined to pick any up at the card shop.

The Puig rookie is probably one of the most sought after cards from the Chrome base set.  He is an electrifying player that is having a solid playoff run.  Glad to have this card in my collection.

Another swell 2013 card that Brad sent me features NLCS Game 5 hero, Adrian Gonzalez.  Gonzalez belted two home runs in the Dodger victory yesterday afternoon.  One of his homers was a soaring shot that went halfway up the Right Field Pavilion.

I only have a handful of Adrian Gonzalez cards that show him donning a Dodger uniform.  I may not even have the regular base version of this card.  Gypsy Queen has been somewhat avoided by me this year.  Panini Golden Age has been more my speed as far as retro sets go.

This post should have gotten most of my mind clear of thinking about playoff baseball.  I can now just zone out and place baseball cards in binders for a couple hours.  No thought of anything else except which cards will look best lined up on a 9 pocket page.

Thanks for the cards, Brad!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Calm Before The Storm

I have been reading about the Dodgers NLDS series against the Braves all morning.  I have read the series previews, studied the Dodgers playoff roster and even thought of the many scenarios that may occur during the opening series.  I feel that I need a slight break from playoff talk and need to clear my head of Dodger baseball for a moment.

The Dodgers open the series against the Braves tonight in a little over five hours.  The thought of the first pitch is making me jittery with nervous excitement.

Rather than have a Dodger themed post that may make my heart race too fast for comfort, I have decided for a 90s style post.  Maybe showing some cards from one of the better insert sets from the great decade will work as a natural form of panic reducing Xanax.

I recently finished opening a box of 1996 Upper Deck Series II.  One of the draws for me when deciding on a cheap box to purchase was the V.J. Lovero insert set.  These cards are epic and show some of the world class photography that Lovero was known for.

Ken Griffey Jr. had the sweetest swing that I ever saw.  It was smooth and quick.  Griffey packed a punch when he connected on a pitch.  Normally, Griffey cards don't make it into one of my binders.  This card is an exception because it shows the swing of sweetness is a high quality piece of glossy cardboard.

The Seattle Mariners had some great baseball players in the mid to late 90s.  Jay Buhner was one of them.  He looked like a mean fellow that had a future of being a bouncer at a biker bar.  Instead he was a masher that hit some bombs for the Mariners, which was probably a much better career choice.

I have seen this card before on some other blogs.  This card would probably make some bloggers Top 100 lists.  When I see this card, I don't think of Jay Buhner, I think of the little Buhner.  What direction in life did his son choose?  Is he an athlete like his pops?  Is the little Buhner a tough looking dude that gets into fistfights just for kicks?

I also wonder what do kids of ballplayers that appear on baseball cards think when they look back at those cards.  Are they embarrassed to see a childhood photo of themselves being collected by complete strangers?  Do they have a sense of pride knowing that they made it on an Upper Deck card without being a big league ballplayer?

I am just realizing that this is a Mariners themed post.  In an effort to avoid Dodgerness for a minute, I have been carried away to the Pacific Northwest.  The name of my blog may be changed to Jamie Moyer's Fish Market when all is said and done.

I don't outline my posts before I write.  I just have the words flow freely from my mind to my keyboard.  Some bloggers seem very prepared and thoughtful when posting.  I am not one of those guys.  I just see words in my brain and type them as I go.  That is why you may see typos or random thoughts that don't fit the mold of the opening paragraph.

Anyway, the card above is another 90s classic.  This card is featuring Randy Johnson actually looking happy.  Johnson always seemed like the surliest guy in the world when he was on a baseball diamond.  He appeared to be full of rage and anger like a lot of mullet rocking metal heads.  It is nice to see that Johnson did have a good time at least once in his life when V.J. Lovero stopped by for a photo shoot.

It is time to break up the Seattle stronghold of this post.  May has well show off a beautiful photograph of juicer poster boy, Brady Anderson.  This card shows Anderson sliding into home on a close play with the pitcher covering.  This play in baseball doesn't happen often and is rarely captured on film.

The dust cloud and the shadow of the umpire add to the charm of this masterpiece.  I believe the umpire is making a safe signal as his arms seem spread apart.  This may be the first and only Brady Anderson card that I deem binder worthy.

Opening up a box of '96 Upper Deck was a lot of fun.  I will probably pick up another 90s box very soon.  Any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Time for a Return

The Platter had been closed up for about a couple months now.  Since some folks have probably wondered why I was away or why I have been slow to return emails, I should address that.  This little hiatus didn't have to do with being too busy.  I have had plenty of time between work and Dodger games to churn out a post over the last couple months.  The reason is more to do with lethargy and a slight disinterest in baseball cards.

When my level of interest waned on collecting, that made it hard to write something interesting or even semi-interesting about the topic of collecting.  I have at least tried to entertain a few folks over the lifespan of the Platter.  My joy of collecting was usually seen through the words I typed and the interaction that I had with the blog world.  Interest in card collecting has been on the upswing lately and I felt the time was right to start typing up some words.

I have been pondering recently about, "what makes me happy?"  You can apply that question to any topic such as baseball card collecting.  I was wondering about what makes me happy about the cardboard hobby?  After being able to have some ideas bounce around my head about collecting happiness, it was an easy transition into focusing on getting back into the game of collecting and blogging.

One of the questions that I answered was, "what should be my collecting focal point?"  Obtaining Dodger cards is obvious but, my love of the hobby goes beyond just grabbing cards of my favorite team.  I wanted a niche that could be paired with my Dodger collection.  I have always loved 90s cards because those were the cards of my youth.  I began opening packs and collecting in the late-80s.  The 90s was when the cardboard addiction fully kicked in.

I thought a good way to get back into card purchasing was to start buying some random boxes of cards from the great decade of the 90s.  I started to order cheap boxes online and even finding a box of '91 Leaf at a flea market that was cheaper than a pack of smokes.  The set building process began and the joy of the stellar photography is a lot of fun.  Buying boxes from the 90s is also inexpensive and is an awesome way to spend a few hours of your day.

Going on a 90s cardboard kick was one of the ways that brought me back to the Platter.  Another reason was that I would still get trade packages and offers from fellow bloggers.  Nick from the big time Dimes Boxes blog sent me one the other day.  Nick and I just send each other cards every now and then.

It made me happy that even though I vanished, he still wanted to send me some cardboard.  It made me glad that Nick did this.  I have been compiling some gems for him from the hobby boxes that I have been purchasing and he will get those soon.

Some other bloggers have also sent some cards my way.  I am not sure if I owe them anything in return.  My head has been kind of lost and I have sadly forgotten what I owe and to whom I owe cards to.  Do I owe Tom from Waiting till Next Year any cardboard?  I am pretty sure I owe Jeff from 2 by 3 Heroes some baseball cards.  May you two just email me to confirm that?

Also, anyone else that I may owe cards to, please email me.

I almost went this entire post without even mentioning the two cards above that Nick sent me.  I also didn't even mention the Dodgers are in the playoff until just now neither.  Man, I am a ranter with no focus sometimes.

Thank you for the cards Nick.  I may post again someday.