Monday, September 30, 2013

My Top Ten Predictions For the Dodgers In The NLDS

 Happy days are here again as my favorite team is about to face off against the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS, which begins on Thursday.  We haven't faced each other in the postseason for 16 years, so this should be a good one.

Here come my predictions of what to look forward to and what to watch out for:
 10. Andre Ethier will make the playoff roster and will start Game 1 in center field. His sore ankle won't be much of a factor in the field because his ability to get good jumps off of batted balls will allow him to run straight lines at fly balls. He'll go on to bat over .300 with three home runs in the series.

Can anyone here manage this game?         

9. Don Mattingly will continue to fumble the batting order and use the wrong pinch hitters in the wrong ways under the wrong circumstances. Despite these and other questionable game strategies, the national media will push Mattingly forward as a serious candidate for Manager of the Year, as though his on-field decisions aren't part of the criteria for the award.

Flickr/Dan4th Nicholas
8. Channeling Ronnie Lott, Nick Punto will have his troublesome ingrown toenail completely removed. In an extra show of grit, he'll then wear that toenail around his neck, sparking a new baseball necklace fad.
7. Channeling former FEMA Director, "Heckuva Job Brownie", teflon-coated Dodgers Batting Coach Mark McGwire will continue to send batters to the plate with no viable or visible action plan.

6. Magic Johnson will show up for Game 1 at a deserted Dodger Stadium, under the mistaken belief it's his scheduled bobblehead night.
5. Starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu will launch a food blog dedicated to the culinary treats offered at the Atlanta Braves' home stadium. Under the pen name "The Bloated Glove", his goal will be to sample every food item offered at Turner Field, even when that means he has to pitch an inning with a box of Tomahawk Chop Fried Tomatoes sitting behind the mound. Ryu will go on to pitch 7 innings and win Game 3.
 4. Beleaguered Bison, Matt Kemp will seemingly make it safely to Atlanta, where he will spontaneously combust upon the plane's arrival at the airport terminal.

3. Rock steady Adrian Gonzalez, El Jaguar, will continue onward as the most reliable and productive Dodger, playing every inning of every game, leading the team in home runs, RBI's and clutch hits over the series. The national - and the local Los Angeles media, for that matter - will continue to ignore his invaluable contributions.
2. Speedster Dee Gordon will not make the playoff roster, but will still make it to Atlanta, smuggled onto the Dodger's plane inside of Juan Uribe's cheek.

With apologies to
1. Rookie sensation Yasiel Puig will swing so hard on the first pitch he sees in Game 1, that his head will literally explode. His playful smile will then reappear in place, chesire cat-like. Puig will go on to steal 3 bases, hit 2 doubles and a home run - all in Game 1.

Bonus Prediction: L.A. Dodgers win it in 5. Let's go, Dodgers!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Posting about Some G -reat C-ardboard R-eally L-ate

Hey everybody,

It's been a while since my last post, so here we go.  These are cards that I received from that great blogger, Jim, over at Garvey, Cey, Russell, Lopes.   Jim posted some cards that he picked up shopping, and I promptly spotted a card that I needed from the 1959 Topps subset "Baseball Thrills".  

I inquired if it was available - indeed it was - and I not only got my hands on that great vintage card, but Jim tossed in some Dodger heroes as extras...

World Series Hero - Just ask Reggie.

Jay Howell was a great relief pitcher for the Dodgers on the 1988 World Series championship team.  He's infamously most remembered by N.Y. Mets fans as the pitcher who got busted with pine tar in his mitt during the National League Championship series.  

I'm very happy to have the Bison back with the Dodgers, just in time for the playoffs, and just in time part 2 because Andre Ethier is definitely out for the first round.  I'm also very happy that Jim tossed in a Kemp card that is new for me!

I consider Chris Gwynn to be a hero because it's possible he indirectly helped me to get his brother Tony's autograph TTM.  Back in the day, I wrote to Tony Gwynn requesting autos on some cards.  I included a short letter and mentioned to Tony that I appreciated having Chris on the Dodgers and I wished they would give him more playing time, which was completely true.

Tony signed my cards with great autos and sent them back quickly.  Maybe my mention of Chris helped...but then again, Tony Gwynn is such a class act, he probably would have done the same for me anyway. 

Finally, we have a Dodger hero from 2013.  Hanley has been a huge part of the Dodgers' success this year, and his bat is getting red hot again just in time for the playoffs.  This is my first Hanley Ramirez relic card - absolutely awesome!  Thanks a bunch for this one especially, Jim.

Well, after all that Dodger blue goodness, let's not forget the card that started everything...

Rocky Calavito is action!  What a beauty this card is.  This is my fourth card of the subset - just 6 more to go.

Thanks for the great Calavito card, Jim, and for all the bonus Dodgers cardboard!  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Have You Heard The News Today...Oh Boy!!!

 First of all: 


The Dodgers clinched the NL West title this afternoon, and although it was frustrating for a bit there, I've gotta admit - I'm a bit glad it happened the way it did.

For those of you who missed it, here's what happened, and why I'm happy about it.  The Dodgers drew first blood with a Hanley Ramirez 3-run homer that suggested we were tired of  pussy-footing around and we were claiming that Western division crown TO - DAY!

That feeling didn't last very long however, because as Vin Scully said, before the Dodgers were finished celebrating their lead, it disappeared.  Dodger starter Rickey Nolasco immediately gave the 3 runs back, and a couple of innings later, the Snakes had built it into a 6-3 lead.

Enter the frustration.  I'm sure at that point plenty of Dodger fans were feeling like tossing a beach chair out the window, or at least tossing back a few stiff ones to numb the pain, but I saw it as a chance for the Dodgers to prove (to themselves) that they really deserve the division - and they have what it takes to win all the marbles in The World Series.

We just needed the bullpen to hold the Snakes, and we definitely needed the Dodger bats to wake the heck up!! When runs are scarce, a team needs the pitchers to step up and win 2-1.  By the same token, when pitching isn't getting the job done, the bats have to prove they can score 6 or 7 runs when needed.  THAT'S what championship teams do, and that's EXACTLY what the Dodgers did today. 

The bullpen stopped the bleeding, Hanley Ramirez blasted his second homer of the day, and A.J. Ellis reminded us all of his power when he hit the go-ahead home run.  The Dodgers fought for that win - and earned it!  Nice work, boys.

But the frosting on the cake wasn't the locker room celebration - although it was sweet to enjoy.  No, the best part of the celebration for me was to see how the Boys in Blue reacted to Arizona's insistence that they not celebrate on the Diamondback field.  They of throwing at Puig and Greinke's heads!

They wanted us to serenely and calmly clelebrate - and by gum, stay off their field!

This was the Western Division Champion Dodgers' answer to that (I love the fact that The Jaguar is the first in with an awesome pool bomb)

From me to Night Owl, GCRL, Speigel, Petethan, Zawkin and all my fellow members of Dodger Nation ....


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Damn Mattingly - A Big Blue Liability

Right before the 2013 All-Star game, lots of folks wanted to throw manager Damn Mattingly under the Dodger bus.  They were right then and they continue to be right still. 

No, we can't lay that crazy, first half of the season, epidemic of injuries at the feet of  the manager.  Having half of our team on the DL for half of the season certainly accounted for many of the losses that led the Dodgers to last place.   I don't blame him for things outside of his control - like those injuries - but Mattingly's gotta take the heat for the things he can control.

                                    Can't manage a bullpen.                       Associated Press

There are those out there who argue that a manager just doesn't matter that much, and I've stated my opposite opinions on that in the past.  While it's often true that a historically long losing streak can't be blamed solely on a manager, a historically long winning streak shouldn't automatically go to his credit either.

When the Dodgers got healthy and turned their season around  with a winning rampage, a number of sports writers and bloggers were quick to anoint Mattingly as a good manager who simply needed his full line up in order for all of us to appreciate his superior baseball management skills for what they really are.  Hogwash!

His limitations as a manger were evident in 2012, and they continue to rear their ugly heads regularly now.

                                         Can't manage a big league batting line up.                      Getty Images

If we can't blame a manager for all those losses any more than give him supreme credit for all those wins, doesn't that mean a manger doesn't make that much of a difference?  On the surface it might look like that, but let's revisit some of Mattingly's decisions over this recent losing run the Dodgers are currently mired in.

Over the recent 4-game series against the Giants, Hunter Pence absolutely ran roughshod over Dodger pitching.  He crushed homers in every game, including a grand slam and two - TWO fricken' homers on Sunday.

There are things a manger can control; that's why he's called THE MANAGER.   By the time we got to Sunday's game, one would think Mattingly would order his pitchers to just not give anything close to a strike to Pence.  Especially in a game that was as close as Sunday's.  I'm going out on a limb and say Mattingly gave no such orders.  Pence notched two more homers in the final game and his bat beat us for the fourth game in a row.

Exit Giants, enter the Diamondbacks.  First game, first inning.  Hyun-Jin Ryu had just walked lead off man A.J. Pollack on four pitches, and Paul Goldschmidt was next up to the plate.  Anyone who follows the Dodgers and the Snakes knows that Goldschmidt is a career Dodger killer.  Anybody who knows baseball knows that after walking the first batter on four pitches, Ryu was going to immediately try to get back into the strike zone.  But Mattingly never should have let Ryu do that. How about giving the guy an unintentional, intentional walk?  You don't have to give him four wide ones, just stay off the plate and see if he chases because he's anxious.  Nope.  Let's pitch to him and see what happens.  Strikes + Dodger killer = 2-run HR.  Anybody else have visions of Jack Clark?

The Dodgers have been losing a lot more than I like recently, but most have been close games, and the results were always hanging in the balance, which is often the place where a savvy manager makes a difference.

My final case in point tonight...

                                             Can't manage a 9th inning rally.                                   Getty Images

Despite the injuries plaguing us yet again, and a scrappy second-tier lineup, the Dodgers manged to keep the game close and get the tying and go ahead runs on base in the 9th.  We had Hope!  Things looked pretty darn good as Juan Uribe, he of massive home run power and one of our hottest bats right now, stepped up to the plate.

Are you ready for this?  Damn Mattingly had him bunt - BUNT !!!!!!!!!!!!   Something the guy has only done successfully 4 times over the past 4 years.  Uribe recently had a 3-home run game and Mattingly took the bat out of his hands by having him bunt.  It must have been because last week's farm leaguer, Chili Buss was on deck. ARGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!  Of course this uber-genius strategy of having the Mighty Casey bunt didn't work and the Dodgers eventually lost.  And don't even get me started on his decision to bat Uribe seventh in the line up.  *Sigh*

I'm going to estimate managers make enough crucial game decisions in enough close games over the course of a season to win or lose 10 to 15 games with those decisions.  And that's a conservative estimate in my opinion.  Smart managers will help their teams pick up 10 wins, while dopey decisions will lose 10.  Anybody else have visions of Brandon League?  

Mattingly didn't cause the first lousy half of the season, and he didn't mastermind the brilliant second half.  But man oh man, he had his hand in controlling enough other factors to make a difference.

Think about that, where would the Dodgers be right now with  8-10 extra wins in their pocket?   

Monday, September 16, 2013

Jaybarkerfan Draft Loot (slash) Trade Bait

Hey everybody,

Here comes some new trade bait for all of you, courtesy of a great draft that was held over at the great  Jaybarlerfan's Junk.  Wes generously held a draft that was free, and offered some fantastic pakages and small groups of cards.

When he first announced his draft I thought it would be fairly simple to get in since there were plenty of spots and all we had to do was post a comment and then get picked up by the randomizer.  It didn't take too many missed rounds for me to realize every blogger around me was getting into the draft, but I was still on the outside. 

The entry selection process started to dwindle to the last 5 spaces and I started to feel like I might not make it.  Quick enough there were only 3 slots remaining, then 2, and then only one - and I STILL wasn't in!  As Vinny says, I was down to my last strike, and then the draft gods smiled upon me.  BANG!  I nailed the last slot and I was in.  Wahoo! 

Wes ran a fun and easy draft, and my prizes arrived just the other day.  I won the "Moonshots" package.  Presenting the loot...

Let's lead off with former Dodger backstop Paul Lo Duca.  Why is he trade bait?  I only want my Dodgers with Dodger gear, thank you.  That said, the awesome action photo really makes it a great card for a Lo Duca or Marlin collector.

Speaking of players whom I don't normally collect, but are featured on great looking cardboard, we get the Big Unit on a very handsome card - Numbered 411/799

How about this sweet card?  If nobody wants to trade I will be perfectly happy to keep this All-Star game - HOME RUN DERBY WORN relic in my collection.  This card is bad-ass...

Speaking of bad-ass, the  final card is the one Wes named the group of cards after.  It's a Shawn Green relic.  Yes, its got a generic scoreboard in the graphi, but I really dig this design.  The photo works great and the swatch blends in seamlessly with everything else.  

That's all for today folks.  Thanks for reading. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Prizes, Trades and Gifts Are What Makes The Cardboard World Go Round

Hey everybody,

Gotta get in a post about more great cards that graced my mail lately...

First up is a thanks, (but no pics this time).  HUGE THANKS go out to Patrick, the mastermind behind The Card Hobbyist.  If you like a blog that also features cool games with da shite prizes, Patrick's place is definitely in your wheelhouse.  As a matter of fact, I'm happy to say this is the second time I won a contest over there.

But why no pics?  Two reasons:

1. I won basically the same A & G Dodger cards in a box break at Tribecards a couple of weeks ago and I've already  posted them.  Yes, they were essentially doubles, but they were also doubly great because they were 2013 Dodgers, and they contained a second Puig RC!

2. Since they were doubles, I gave the cards from Patrick right over to my son, who was stoked to have his own Puig rookie.  Thus, those particular cards were not scanned are now stashed away securely in his binder. No pics, but double thanks for the great prize, Patrick.

The next batch does have pics. These are the result of my first trade with Nate, who is kinda new on the blogs.  Nate's site is Big 44 Sports Cards.  Nate's a stone Pittsburgh collector, so that means, you best have some Pirates or Steelers for trade.  But no Penguins, Nate?  To each his own.

Heck, I don't collect hockey myself, but here's a note for all you hockey collectors out there. I would love a hockey card from one of the baddest L.A. Kings to ever wear the uni...Tiger Williams.  I grew up on Tiger in the days the Kings wore the Purple and Gold of the L.A. Forum.  Did you know Tiger holds the all-time record for most penalty minutes?  Yeah, back in those days, the Kings were doormats of the league, but Tiger wasn't one. Tiger was bad- ass personified.

So I shipped some black and gold Pirates to Nate, and he sent over some cool stuff to me...

You can never go wrong with golden sparkle Kershaw

And you can't ever go wrong with Cobb on cardboard.  Here we get a fantastic portrait of the Georgia Peach. That sly glance of Cobb's says everything, but reveals nothing.  Also, limited number.  Sweet card that I hadda have.

Finally, comes a great gift I received a while back.   A gift - unexpected and out of the blue.  This was no simple PWE.

Supercool Bert, from Swing And a Pop-Up, came through once again and sent me another fistful of cardboard from the 1987 Hy-Grade "Baseball's All-time Greats" set.  Bert has now helped me to get the chase to under 10 cards.  I can't believe it!  Just 9 cards to completion.  Check my "What I Collect" page if you have any extra Hy-Grades lying around.  You just might have those final 9.

This Hy-Grade set is very cool.  It's big limitations are the simplified green border and cardstock thinner than Topps.  But the upsides are a checklist of baseball history and royalty, and the photography is mostly great.  It features quality early color photo technology and lots of close up photography.   In addition, the players are often shown in their primes and we get more than a few legendary stadiums in the background. 

Since the Dodgers are opening a 4-game series against the ELIMINATED team from the bay, let's start off with a Dodgers/Giants face off.

 You're gonna feel like you're walking down a wing in the baseball Hall of Fame...

How's about all that cardboard?  Pretty good, thanks to my fellow collectors.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Trade Me (Almost) Anything Cincinatti Reds

Hey everybody,

Not a good weekend for the Blue over in Ohio this weekend.  Back to back tough losses.  Ouch.
Here's hoping the Dodgers learn a few lessons from these games and salvage the series on Sunday.

Hoping to get some Dodger mojo flowing, let's trade away some Reds. 

 Gotta love the dirty uni on a die cut. 

Gotta love that Mr. Red (or whatever he's called) sleeve patch.

Gotta love that look on Mr. Pastore's smug mug.

Gotta love cards with legends on 'em.

Nobody loves a know-it-all.  Although Cincy did put the man's number on the infield this weekend.

Didn't love him as a Dodger, but I'm sure his mom loves him.

After this weekend, absolutely hate this dude.

Who can hate the Kid?  Hitting No. 500 nonetheless.

Absolutely neutral on this cat.
That's it folks. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Trade Viewed From The Skybox

Hey everybody,

Here's one more trade, but it's not any old trade.  This was the FIRST trade with Mr. Skybox from that new blog on the block, View From The Skybox.

Meeting a new trade partner is for me, the cream of the hobby.  That was the first reason I started ATBATT, and if the trades should ever dry up, that'll be the day I hang up my cardboard guns.

 But I don't see that dark day coming anytime soon, as evidenced by the way new blogs keep popping up.  I've seen a couple of bloggers go, but I've been here long enough to see our corner of the hobby sustained by new blood joining us on a semi-regular basis.

Mr. Skybox is a great new member of the community, and his blog is coming out of the gate on fire.  He's currently running a box break; get on over there, as there's still some good teams to be chosen.  He initiated a great new idea that  I hadn't seen before - the personal repack.  He'll shoot you a repack of 100 cards in exchange for a repack from you.  Brilliant idea.

I'm proud to say I helped Mr. Skybox break in by pulling off his first trade here.  Furthermore, I'm very happy to say he's a most excellent and generous trader.  Why most excellent?  He obviously checked out my "What I Collect" page and hit on all cylinders, across the board.

Let's check out some of the cards he sent my way...

Leading off with one of my favorite rookies that played the up again- down again elevator between AAA and the big club last season.  Herrera was not a favorite of the other Dodger bloggers out there, but I liked what I saw when he played.   He showed hustle, grit and a good eye at the plate. 

Here we go now.  Can't.   Have.  Too.  Many.  Nomos.....

 Some of you out there will always associate Nomar with the Red Sox and Nomahhh.  That's fair, but I'll always link Nomar with the Dodgers.  To this day, every time I hear the opening drum roll from "Low Rider" by WAR, I see Nomar walking out to the Dodger Stadium plate in those beautiful home whites.

Long before Yasiel Puig was all the rage, the Dodgers had another young 5-tool right fielder with a cannon for an arm, Mr. Mondesi.  I've never seen these Hardball Heroes before,  and I like this design. 

Here's where Mr. Skybox separates himself into the upper tiers of traders, it's a couple of cool vintage Dodgers, and they are in no way just bench slugs...

 Sweet Lou Johnson - World Series Hero - with old time Dodger Stadium lurking behind.

One more 62 Topps Dodger.  I've sung the praises of Wally and his Moonshots at the LA Coliseum before.   Mr. Skybox wasn't done.  Nope.  He hadda go and send me...

This Great auto of our backup catcher.  "Fed X" is no slouch on the field, and neither is this great Dodger Blue signature card.  I'm digging the way Fed X slanted his sig to match the design of the card.  Nice!

Thanks for a great fistful of Dodger cardboard, Mr. Skybox.  I'm looking forward to our next trade.