Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Few Beers and The Babe

Aloha, everybody, 

It's a relaxing night at home and the Dodgers are beating the Angels on TV in the annual Freeway Series, so let's open a few packs of Babe Ruth Story baseball cards and review a few more beers from the beer trade between Matt from Bob Walk the Plank and I. 

These Babe Ruth packs are great fun. They feature wonderful photos of the Bambino on the front, and plenty of stories and trivia about his exploits on the back. 

For example, here's a few cards with Red Sox Ruth. 

Ruth went from riding the bench during the World Series despite pitching 18-8 as a rookie to leading the club with an incredible 0.87 World Series ERA just a few years later. 

The set is chock full of photos of the Babe and other greats from the era. 

Speaking of greatness...

Devil Anse IPA from Green Valley Brewing
The name of this beer is taken from ol' Devil Anse Hatfield, who led his family in the legendary Hatfield-McCoy feud. the story on the can tells of Anse being so bold and fearless, he could take on the devil hisself. 

Tasting this IPA, I'm not sure I could take on the devil, but it sure is the perfect beer for a summer's day that's so hot the red guy might be around. 

The beer is bold, citrusy and hoppy. The taste is absolutely delicious to an IPA lover. This one might make you want to chug it, but be careful, as the devil is in the details, hiding in a big 6.9% abv. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. 

The back of this card tells the story of how Babe Ruth earned the dubious honor of being the only man to ever end a World Series by being thrown out trying to steal. 

It was Game 7 and the Yankees were down 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth. Babe drew a walk, and despite the fact Lou Gherig was hitting right behind him, he had the idea to steal second base - on the first pitch! 

Ruth fooled noone. He was thrown out and the Yankees were dead. It looked like a great idea, but didn't turn out that way. 

Kind of like this beer. 

Hopslam Ale froom Bells Brewery, Michigan. 
A double IPA brewed with honey sounds like a wonderful idea. A 10% abv makes it sound even better. But like Ruth's mad dash for second base, something went awry along the way. 

There's a strong hoppiness with a sour grapefruit finish that holds on long after your drink. People argued for years whether Ruth should have stayed at first base. This beer will probably inspire equally intense debate. 

Babe's on his way too heaven in this one. Everyone knows how much the Big Bambino liked beer, so he probably found a beer like this one up there. 

Siberian Night from Thirsty Dog Brewing.
The first taste of this beer let's you know this is something special. It's like rich, dark chocolate mixed with caramel on the front of your tongue, with a hint of sweet raisins bouncing off the rear of your palate. 

The taste is big, so you can't drink it fast. But it's so complex, you'll really just want to savor and sip it. 

Thanks again for the beers, Matt. Only three remain! 


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

An Old Friend Gets Back in the Game

Aloha, everybody, 

You might think there are already plenty of Dodger bloggers around, but believe it or not, back when I first came on board, there were even more. 

One of those past blogger/collectors, Spiegel, stopped blogging a couple of years ago, and he pretty much disappeared - at least as far as our collecting community is concerned.

In a pleasant surprise, Spiegel reappeared in the form of a message to me via Twitter. He said he was ready to get back in the collecting game, and would I (the guy who runs a blog called "All Trade Bait, All The Time") be interested in trading again? 

In the time it takes Tommy Lasorda to put away a meatball and provolone sandwich, we had cards flying in the mail. 

Speigel sent me not one, but TWO fistfuls of cards. Here are just a few of the highlights...

Check out them high-tops! 

 I figure Mets fans think it blasphemy to see The Straw in A Dodgers uni, but I say I can't get me enough Straw cards. All your Darryl as a Dodger cards are welcome right here. 

Before Eric Gagne hit Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers had another beefy closer. Too bad we can't see his Elvis sideburns too well in this shot...

Unfortunately for Broxy he had most of his success rising to the level of closer. Once there, he had setbacks with blowing saves in the post-season and constant injury. 

Too bad, because he rocked those Elvis chops like nobody. 

Most of the Sports Flix I run into are non-Dodgers, so this was a pleasant surprise. 

Bad ass Mondi, also sporting high-tops. 

I don't know about you, but I'm thinking this is the same look the Duke had on his face when he received the news he was being indicted for tax evasion...

Just like the Straw, here's a card that's blasphemy to fans from that team up in the bay. Just send all yer Jeff Kent as a Dodger cards to me. 

What the heck is that structure behind Hirok? It looks like he was pulled away from his kid's birthday party at the park to take this pic. 

Some of you out there may have forgotten that I also collect Hall of Famers from other teams. Spiegel didn't...

I cannot have too many cards from the Human Vacuum Cleaner. This one is a sweet miiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnniiiiiiiii. 

This one threw me for a loop. Pudge as a Marlin! 

Here's a cool card of Christie...

Which is your favorite team's uni to see Junior wearing? I prefer him as a Mariner. 

Finally, a fun type of shot that you'll find everywhere in today's card sets, but I'm thinking was a rarity back in its day...

That's just a sampling of the cool cardboard that Spiegel sent my way. Oh yeah, he's back in the game, alright. Welcome back, buddy. 

A couple more notes: 

I ran into Ernest from Dodger Blue Heaven at the Dodger blogger event last Friday. Writing this post reminded me I ran into Ernest, Spiegel and Greg (from Plashke, thy Sweater is Argyle fame) at a card show back in the day. I found a photo of all of us...

I'll leave it to you all out there to decipher who is who. 

And this happened today...

Another blast from Operation Cardboard Rain hit the post office, because why not? 


Sunday, March 26, 2017

When Never Again Becomes Just Once More

Aloha, everybody, 

You may recall I was bit by the repack bug within seconds after dropping off the goods for Operation Cardboard Rain. 

I couldn't resist the lure of a hit in every four boxes (I've had some luck with that before), so I took a shot. Here's how I did...

This box came with an unopened pack of 1991 Upper Deck. I haven't opened one of these since the early 90's, so I felt nostalgic as I tore the foil pack open. I once again had the feeling of hope for the only real insert from the Nolan Ryan series. I tore open many a pack trying to complete that set. 

I hadn't written a post for Nacho Grande's Blogger Bat Around on difficult sets to complete because I don't consider myself a set collector. I figured I had nothing along those lines to write about. However, chasing those Upper Deck insert sets back in the day (Ryan, Aaron, Williams) are about as close to that chase as I ever came. 

I didn't pull a Ryan or a Ken Griffey Jr., but I did catch a Dodger...

A cheater...

And one of my favorite pulls overall from the box...

Speaking of pulls from the box, here are the only other cards worthy of note...

Game faced Stewart, who I have no doubt still wears the same face when he's negotiating deals for his players as an agent...

A Rookie Card...

A former Dodger hero turned jinxed manager...


Another Dodger...

A card featuring Ron Cey's doppelganger...

Yet another Dodger. 

Mariano's posture might suggest he's pulling back from a bunt attempt, but this was his usual batting stance, which explains his  "all defense, no offense" career...

I'm glad to catch a few Dodgers after my last repack was chock full of Astros. 

This card was a a surprise...

Speaking of surprises, a nice catch of Cy Young. He's on a dopey game card, but I'll take it...

Team USA is all the rage these days, so why not...

So I had a one in four chance of pulling a hit from my repack. I've had modest luck before. Would my lucky streak continue? 

Ta-Dah!  Young Solarte is still in the hunt to make it all the way up to the show, so there's some nice potential here. 

It's not a Cy Young auto, but it'll do. 


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Open House for Bloggers at Dodger Stadium - and Yours Truly was There!

Aloha, everybody, 

The following was originally posted in my Dodgers blog, LA Dodgers Report. I'm reprinting here with the thought a few of you might be interested in my very cool experience at Chavez Ravine. In honor of Sir Night Owl, who's never been to Dodger Stadium, I'm including some bonus photos that weren't in the original article...

About two weeks ago, the invitations arrived in Dodgers blogger’s email boxes across the Southland. The Dodgers were going to have a luncheon, with a VIP tour afterward, and as loyal fans/writers/opinion makers/P.R. allies, we were all invited to attend. I may have missed the USA v Japan semi-final, but wild horses couldn’t drag me away from this event!
I was so excited to be there today, I arrived at the stadium gate 45 minutes early. The no-nonsense guard told me to turn my car around and return in a half hour, a scant 15 minutes before the scheduled noon start time.
Fast forward to 11:50 a.m. and my first 2017 view of that magnificent structure in Chavez Ravine.

They checked us in, handed everyone a complimentary Dodgers baseball cap, and we gathered in the Baseline Club.

We heard a presentation about all the fun theme nights and promotional giveaways coming up this season. Did you know that over 60 of the Dodgers 80 home games have a theme or a giveaway? With 40,000 fans receiving gifts at those special games, the Dodgers top all the other baseball clubs in giving back to the fans who come out to the stadium.
The special night that generated the most buzz in the room was April 15, Jackie Robinson Night. On that evening the Dodgers will unveil their first stadium statue, none other than ol’ Number 42. They also mentioned the giveaway – to 40,000 fans – will be a replica of that statue. “Wow”s and “Ooooh”s broke out all around the room.
While details about the statue were scarce, we bloggers pushed and here are the extra tidbits we were able to garner:

The statue will be larger than life, and made from bronze. It will rest on a granite base with inscribed quotes from Jackie.

It will be positioned on the Reserved Level, and set with the Downtown LA cityscape in mind.

The Robinson family was consulted and gave input on the pose, the features, and the inscriptions.

(Remember you read it here first...I'm predicting the pose will be Jackie stealing home.)

Then the Dodgers introduced their new Executive Chef, Ryan Evans. He told us all about the new foods that he’s created for this season.

Check out those bloggers’ hungry faces. They heard lunch was being served, not displayed.

This Tuna poke was my favorite. That said, I didn't have a chance to sample much of anything. More on that later.

Above is an extreme bacon wrapped dog and some type of extreme burger with hot dog and tater tots all included in the mix. The burger is infused – or something – with Budweiser.
I don’t want to tell Chef Evans how to do his job (he doesn’t tell me how to write), but for the love of Lasorda, with so many excellent local craft breweries surrounding Dodger Stadium, was Budweiser really the best beer to go with on that one?
We finally got to sample the food, but the problem was, they took so long with presentations, there was only about 10 minutes for us to eat before the tour left. I wish we’d had time for dessert, because I really wanted to taste that Dodgers funnel cake.
The tour was the best part of the day for me. We began at field level. 

Two amazing views from the batter's perspective.

The dugouts still bear the WBC markings.

I looked down at the spike marks on the bench and I wondered how far back they went. Could these be scuffs  from Koufax’s spikes? Gibby’s? They’re at least the marks from WBC Champions, Team USA, and that was awesome enough for me.

Below is the view from the dugout down toward the clubhouse. To be honest, it looked a little dingier than I expected. It looks unchanged from the night Kirk Gibson stood on those very stairs and told Tommy Lasorda he was ready to bat in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. 

Some views from the dugout giving the player's perspective.

We passed into the bowels of the stadium and through halls lined with memorabilia, retired jerseys and awards.

Here's one for GCRL...

An almost endless display of Golden Gloves. Below is Fernando's GG (actually, these are replicas, as the originals go home with the players). 

The World Series Trophy case. These are the real deals, not replicas. 

Here’s the view from the Vin Scully Press Box

Below is the last home plate ever used at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, NY, USA 

Shown above is Vin Scully’s headset, last scorecard and notes. I kid you not, I felt a tear welling up as I looked at this.
There’s something special about this place, this stadium. Its walls are saturated with legendary baseball feats, lazy, sunny Sunday games, and deeply personal history.
Thank you very much, Los Angeles Dodgers, for inviting us out to a very special day.
The next time I’m at the stadium, the Dodgers will be taking the field, and we’ll all – all of us – be starting this wild and crazy, wonderful and frustrating, nail-biting ride that is much more than just a game.