March 2009

’09 Topps baseball cards

It was a normal Saturday afternoon in the life of any college student. My roomates and I were making our monthly rounds to Wal Mart stocking up on you know…. the necessities.

Water, frozen dinners, starwberry shortcake and
JETER.jpg

 

BASEBALL CARDS

 

 

Seeing this box was a sight for sore eyes. I am an avid collector of cards and there is no better way to prepare yourself for opening day than by opening the crisp coating and digging into a new crop of cards.

Even though A-Roid graces the cover and is the de-facto Topps spokeman it is still refreshing to sink my teeth into the cards.

Much to my dissapointment the cards are fairly plain this year.

I’ve been a collector all my life and compare and contrast each style from year to year. The 2009 versions just seem boring and makeshift.

 

2009ToppsDavidPrice-787548.jpgThis David Price card is just a sample as the set. I’ve seen cards very similair to this tyle in the early 1990’s. Fleer cards took this implistic approach and just presented the basic features. The pose of the player is prominent but the important features such as team name and player name are lacking in luster.

I do enjoy the fact that Topps exponged the signature of the player from across the baseline of the card.

2008ToppsManny.jpg

The Manny card to the right is a sample from last years set.

The novelt “REDSOX” title strikes my interest right away. It’s a retro look that I thouroughly enjoy. The only drawback to this set is the signature striking through the middle. It takes away from the card as a whole. I enjoy going to games and having players autograph my cards, I do not enjoy that it is already done for me. The screen printed siggy is not a favorite of mine at all. If it is not fresh ink, it is not for me.

Goiing back to Saturday….I purchased two packs of cards much to the dismay of my roomates. I caught a lot of flack and rude comments for my purchase. They said to grow up and stop throwing my money away. While I can see and respect their point of view, I was very happy with the buy.

It all paid off when I opened to find a Nate McClouth card front and center. My eyes lit up. I was very fond of the card. It has Nate sliding across home plate in the Sunday pinstriped jersey.

I also was pleased to draw a Matt Kemp, Curtis Granderson and former bucco Jose Bautista. Just a handful of my favorite MLB players. My roomate is a die-hard Indian fan and he was enlightened when I gave him a Kelly Shoppach. He was happy for himself bu also said I’ll be sorry when Shoppach becomes “The Next Big Thing”

While the ’09 cards are not my favorite it will not hold me back from participating in one of my favorite hobbies. I will save me beer money and put it to good use as I try to build my collection. 

New Alternate Cap

I’m a big fan of hats. I have a lot of ball caps which I wear and display atop my head proudly. Each time I visit a new city and ballpark I like to buy a hat of the home team. Recently, it occured to me that I have a shortage of Pirates hats. I have really only one that fits me comfortbaly and that is the old alternative red bill cap shown below.

 

Since the Pirates recenly took a big step in abolishing themselves of the McDonalds style red aternate jerseys they also rid thenmselves of these perky hats.

 

 

alternate.jpg

This style of hat was very popular. Many fans rushed to purchase one to match their red jerseys and t-shirt jeresey (much like myself). What surprised me the most was how widespread this style was a s well.

My friend in Baltimore, MD, a light hearted Orioles fan has a hat in this style. He enjoys the look and feel. It’s very fashionable he says.

Last summer my family and I took a trip to San Francisco to take in the Northern California scene. Yes the girls are warm. On our week vacation I notcied about 10 of these caps adorned by passers by.

A fad that was literally sweeping the nation.

Now that these caps have been laid to rest by the Bucco organization it will be interesting to see if the nation will still embrace the red billed ballcap.

With the new jerseys that were released for the 2009 season it did not look like there has been an issued alternate cap. The classic black bowl with yellow “P” looks like it is here to stay. Taking a page from Seinfeld..but not that theres anything wrong with that I just enjoy seeing something new on the players.

I cam across this little beauty on lids.com…

lids.jpg

How about that for sharp. Imagine Nate McClouth running down a deep flyball, or Jack Wilson with a diving stop in the hole with this cap on their noggin. It would go great with the pinstriiped home unis that have been kept and are usually worn on Sundays. I believe this would also catch fire and spread across the country as the baseballs new “hot hat.”

I like the yellow, it brings out the secondary color of the black and gold. This hat is a perfect representation of our fair city. It can be worn with a Roethisberger jersey and a Crosby shirt. It would be a “New Era” (no pun intended for the hat company) or ‘burgh fandom.

The organization should really look into adopting this new alternative cap.

 

Hat pics courtesy of lids.com

A Deeper Look Inside…NYJER MORGAN

1.jpg

Many Pittsburgh fans are calling for this guys head and don’t feel that it is justified. He is having a poor spring and there is a lot of competion for outfield spots. This spring Morgan is batting well under .200 and fans feel he is not taking the responsibility of being a major leaguer seriously. Not only this year, but since his first two years in the big show he has always been criticized. pirates.com messgae board posters as well as onlybucs.com forum contributers complain that his approach at the plate is sporadic and he doesn’t take proper routes to fly balls in the outfield.

I say this is all hogwash.

 

nyjer-catch.jpgMorgan is an asset with his glove in the outfield. He makes highlight reel catches and uses his speed to cover the spacious centerfield/leftfield grass in PNC Park. 

Theres no doubt Morgan has spped and his doubters feel he doen’t use it to his full potential. He hasn’t quite shown the ability to be a top notch base stealer, in fact he has been called out for showing incompetence on the basepaths.

It may seem like I am bashing Mr. Morgan to pieces, but these are not MY thoughts on the 28 year old athlete.

I enjoy Morgan’s passion for the game. He is happy to be playing baseball and enjoys being in Pittsburgh. Earlier in spring training Morgan went around the clubhouse with his own personal camcorder engaging players and fooling around with his buddies. He is a social butterfly bringing a good vibe and energy.

He is a good guy with his beaming smile and personable attitude. In a game last year in September, the crowd was sparse after an hour rain delay, but me and my buddies manned down the fort in our left field loonies bleacher seats. He acknowledged us and thanked us for staying throughout the game and being enthusiastic through it all. Amdist our chants of “MORGANTOWN, MORGANTOWN, MORGANTOWN!” Nyjer tossed us a ball from batting practice. I still proudly display it on my nightstand.

nyjer bat.jpg 

Nyjer can and will be a major league player. Whenever he has had the opportunity he has come through and delievered. With a career batting average in the .290’s he is an asset at the plate. He just needs to play everyday. He’s not a good bench player. Last season he would come in as a pinch hitter, cold with splinters in his butt from riding the bench. By cracking the starting lineup Morgan will be able to utilize his speed all game long and take his sound approach at the plate more often.

Some fans may remember Tike Redman. Redman was practically given the starting centerfield job by former manager Llyod McClendon. Redman had a mediocre spring and an even more ugly regular season, he was released and has currently been a minor league drifter.

I hope the results do not match up for Morgan. GM Neal Huntington has said that a player can’t lose his job in spring training meaning it looks like Morgan is secure…for now. Fans will just have to get used to the San Francisco native roaming the outfield. With undidived support Morgan will surely strive and prove his haters wrong. 

 

All photos are property of pirates.mlb.com 

Jerry Springer anyone?

So upon waking up this morning I’m greeted by a friendly message courtesy of ESPN’s bottom line.

 

“PIRATES PROSPECT WIFE INVOLVED IN BABY KIDNAPPING”

Now you may think that this issue should just be blown over. It’s just an issue between Amalia Tabata Pereira and the baby’s family.

I think there is more to the story. Now Tabata is a handsome young man. He just turned 20 and is blossoming into one of the most complete players in the Pirates organization as well as the entire MLB. He is an easy target being that he is bound to become a multi millionaire and is probably just settling in to his new role as a professional basbeall player.

While I do have a girlfriend and have great feelings for her it’s hard for me to comprehend marriage as a 20 year old college student. Tabata is 20 years old as well. Being from Venezuala I’m sure customs are much different than here in the US. The pill that is hard for me to swallow is the fact that Amalia Tabata Pereira is 43. 43.  For those playing at home that is a 23 year difference.

I will admit there are some attractive 43 year old women out there, but I would never think of marrying any of them. Periera is proabably only in this for the money and taking adavantage of the young man.

What troubles me is that Jose could very well be involved in this. He went out of his way yesterday to release his own statement.

“I was shocked to be told today that my wife has been arrested for kidnapping. I am hurt, frustrated and confused by her actions,” Tabata said.

I hope that the young man is truthful and is not in anyway involved. He is not only a big part of our future, he IS our future. I hope that this does not get to far under his skin and takes away from his development and performance.

 

Yu Darvish would look great in a Bucco’s uni

PHOTO CREDIT: espn.com

darvish.jpgAfter witnessing a fabulous finale to the World Baseball Classic I have come to the conclusion that the Pirates need to take advantage of teh opportunities placed before them.

With a focus purely on Dominican devlopment and a lack of Asian fusuions in the Pirate franchise its hard to see Neal/Frank/whomever taking a scouting caravan to the far east to tab players from the WBC.

That being said, the players on both the Japaneese and Korean teams can and have beat some of the best that the USA had to offer. It’s a different style of baseball over there and the players can compeat on any given level.

One player that sticks out in my mind is Yu Darvish. Normally a starter, Darvish came into close the game out for Japan in the bottom of the ninth. While blowing the save he picked up the win in extra innings. Darvish is a tall, lanky athlete with a variety of pitches in his arsenal. His breaking pitches and slider fooled the Korean batters and just made them look silly.

Darvish was on top of his game throughout the tourney. While Dice-K was the team ace, Darvish was the highest quality number two. He did lose one game in the WBC but came through when it mattered most. The 22 year old could use some polishing, but so can any young picther of his stature.

It wouldn’t surprise me in the leaset to see Darvish signed by a major league club within the next couple years. While more likely than not he won’t be playing in Pittsburgh. The organization has claimed to try new tactics in scouting players. This has been seen upon our signing of the pair from India. The Pirates should take the route of a manjority of other MLB clubs and hit up the oriental land, I’m sure they will come away with a treasure.

Utterly Dumfounded

Well after a solid first day of NCAA college basketball, I was rather happy. Picking 14 of the first 16 correctly I was pumped and in a great position to win my pool after having a big lead amongst my competitors.

But then 3pm Friday rolled around and hit me like a brick wall.

My beloved West Virginia Mountaineers were outwitted, outplayed and outlasted by the Dayton Flyers. In a true game of Survivor the Flyers earned immunity and deserved to play in the next reward challenge.

WVU just came out flat and looked sluggish from start to finish. The team looked tired and not very enthusiastic about playing on one of the largest stages in college basketball. It was a tough scene to witness as  Dayton  manned up, drew fouls, grabbed rebounds and hit the shots they needed to hit. West Virginia missed some easy shots and let Dayton get the best of them.

I can’t even feel bad for my team, they deserved to lose. While I still think the better team lost , I have no hard feeling. I actually feel I deserve this loss, its what I get for blogging about basketball on a baseball forum.

O WELL…

Today just made me pumped for Bucco baseball. April 6th can’t come soon enough and April 13th will be the beginning of a new life.

I honestly don’t think I can bear to watch much more of the NCAA tourney and its still the first round! The sporting event I’m looking forward to most right now takes place on Sunday night. Japan vs USA in the WBC. It’ll be a tough task to dethrone the defending champs. With Evan Longoria in the United States lineup there will be an extra power source. Longo replaces the injured Chipper Jones. Longoria will provide extra pop as a superb bench player for the rest of the tournament. Whats great about Longoria is that he can also hold his own if called on to start. Last years ROTY has a brigh future ahead of him. No better place to start with the world watching him.

PHOTO CREDIT: bluegoldnews.com
ruoff.jpg

LET THE MADNESS BEGIN

It is Thursday March 19, 2009. The NCAA tournament is upon us.

It could be what some call the greatest time of the year. Days off from work, office polls, Cinderella stories, one shining moment…the month of March has it all.

Today there are some good match ups with decent chances of some upsets. I can see VCU over UCLA, Minnesota over Texas and Michigan over Clemson . While not going too much out on a limb, I picked the bracket in a very conservative manner. The higher seeds should have no trouble moving on in today’s game. The only other upset alert I could possibly see is Mississippi St. over Washington. I did not pick this game because I have been a follower of UDUB basketball since the Nate Robinson days and the Pac 10 regular season champs are stronger than they have ever been. Miss St. has a good big man in Jarvis Varnado, he scores points and grabs rebound as good as any power forward in the country.

Friday’s games seem to be more intriguing, especially because my Mountaineers will be in action. I’m quite pumped for this tourney and will post my thoughts on today’s games tomorrow.

Gorzo=Donezo

In a surprising move by at least my account, Tom Gorzelanny has been optioned to AAA Indianapolis.

Gorzo obviously had his struggles last year and is no stranger to Indy. Last year Gorzelanny went 6-9 in Pittsburgh and in the least compelling stat line I’ve ever seen , Tom had a 6.66 era.

6.66? The satanic number was definitely a sign of his dreadful performances. While Gorzelanny had plenty of upside two years ago he just never lived up to his potential.

In 2007 he went 14-10 with a solid era of 3.00. Respectable numbers and plenty of upside looked to be the future for this young gun. However, it just didn’t work out. I commend the Pirates for this move, accountability grows in the sod of PNC Park.

This spring for Gorzo didn’t help his case for  a spot on the big league club. In only 9 innings pitched, Tom gave up  eight hits and five runs.

The reason this was surprising, for me at least was the fact the Pirates usually do not give up on a player quickly like this. The team never wants to dismiss a young gun pitcher of theirs giving them every shot to make it. Matt Morris, Nelson Figueroa, and Josh Fogg come to mind.

I hope a message is sent to the whole organization that the Pirates expect nothing less than the best. I hope Gorzo can develop in the minors for the better part of this season. Maybe he can turn things around and get back to the success of ’07. Until then, he can enjoy bobbin his middle finger flippin’ bobble head on the road trip to Indiana.

HOW ABOUT THAT

Perhaps the greatest baseball game ever played in quite some time….and I couldn’t watch it. The USA will advance to the semis of the WBC for the first time ever. The come from behind rally was epic to say the least. USA downed Puerto Rico in the bottom of the 9th thanks to key hits and walks. Finally, Met’s third baseman David Wright put the game away with the RBIs needed to defeated PR 6-5.

After the game Wright’s eyes lit up like a child. He clearly was amazed by the moment and will enjoy the glory of the victory for quite some time.

“The clebration was pretty wild,” Wright told reporters after the game. “I never thought we’d be dog piling in March.”

When asked where this ranks on his all time hit list. Wright responded, “Thats right up there at the top. Your talking about Representing the United States of America. You’re representing a nation.”

Something this special and heartwarming, and still not on regular television.

I thought ESPN would broadcast every game played by the USA but too bad so sad for. MLB Network seems like the greatest invention known to a baseball loyalist. Too bad for me, I do not receive this exclusive channel on my basic cable. To at least gain some of the experience I gametracked the game on mlb.com. It is definitely informative and pretty cool to follow, however it lacks the luster of watching  a live game.

While I will surely remember where I was during this game, it will not rank at the top of my list…because I couldn’t even watch the darn thing.

Pedro Alvarez cut

I guess this should have come as no surprise. The star and lynchpin of the 2008 Pittsburgh draft class was optioned to Class A Lynchburg today.

I must have been hoping for a John Olerud scenario with Alvarez. It would have been nice to see him on the club this year, with no time really spent in the minors. However, my wishful thinking obviously wasn’t the smart choice.

Alvarez will get the starting job in Lynchburg and get plenty of opportunities to show he is no fluke. Hopefully he can meander his way up the Bucco ladder and land in the ‘Burgh come September. Until then I wish him the best. Heres to our savior….Pedro Alvarez!

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.