Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas Cards

I always put "Packs of Baseball Cards" on my Christmas Wish List.  Every year, my family asks, "Well, what kind of baseball cards?"  My response: "Any kind!"  I don't care if they are the latest wax packs or a discount piece-together - I'll take baseball cards for Christmas any way, shape or form.

This year, I received several packs of cards and a "Big Pack" blaster box.  The scans are some of the hits from all the cards that came out of those.  I use the term "hits" in two ways: First, Tribers and cards that catch my eye.  Second, inserts, parallels, etc.

Let's kick things off with the Tribers in the bunch: Jason Kipnis, Lou Marson, Alex White, and Chris Perez:

I chose the following for specific reasons.  Topps photography was better for the 2011 set than I have seen in years.  The quality, the action, the overall presentation. Finally, some decent work.  First, we have Dustin Moseley in mid air, about to kick Drew in the head.  Okay, not exactly, but dang close enough that Drew is ducking out of the way!  Derek Jeter is, well, Derek Jeter.  And Derrick Lee is signing autographs along with other players in the background.  That is a great "fan-reach" photo right there.

And speaking of reaching, how about a laid out Nyjer Morgan with the ball just at glove's tip from this angle.  This is a great in-the-moment photo!  Does he make the catch? Is the ball too far out of reach?  Excellent!

The next three cards feature ToppsTown versions of Joe Mauer, Mark Reynolds, and Kevin Youkilis:

Serially numbered gold cards have become an annual Topps standard, and I snagged two of them: Troy Polomalu, er, Tulowitzki, and Aaron Harang.  Why is it that #/2011 should sound like a very limited run, yet feels like an overproduction!?  Ah well, in any case:

I also managed a handful of shiny/sparkly Diamond Anniversary cards.  Some are silver and some are gold, or bronze, or something other than silver, which is actually probably supposed to be platinum.  As you see, my terminology among inserts/parallels/etc is not up to par.  I got Michael Dunn, Deavid Eckstein, Hunter Pence, Zach Duke, and Nick Blackburn:

Among the cards in packs and boxes, I also found a handful of mini Champions cards!  I like these a lot, and the player selection ain't bad, either!  How about recent HOFer Bert Blyleven!? Yeah, buddy!  Oh, and then Paul Molitor!  He's probably one of the few Brewers I could name off the top of my head without thinking.  Arkansas native Cliff Lee joins the group followed by Mike Stanton. I like that Lee is pictured in a Philles hat, yet the 'sketch' at the bottom is clearly an Indians uniform.

I pulled three Topps60 cards: Lou Gehrig, Joe Mauer, and George Sisler.  Nice trio, if I must say. And, of course, I must!

These next two are blue-bordered. I have no idea why. I should feel ashamed at my lack of hobby-related knowledge.  But, I don't.  So, I present Juan Uribe (No, Run your own eBay!) and George Sherrill.  I friend Amy with the same last name as George - I wonder if they are related...

I got one "60 Years of Topps" card, and it is Curt Shilling on a 1990 Topps layout.  I also got a "Before There Was Topps" card of American Tobacco 1911: T201.  I also received a "Diamond Duos" card featuring A-Rod and E-Long.  See what I did there?

The next card actually came out of pack of cards, and not the big blaster, which I found quite surprising.  Why?  I've actually talked to the guy who restocks the cards at our local Wally World and it is quite evident that he collects the 'hits' from packs he receives.  I figured the chances of ever pulling a material card from a pack there were just about zero.  And, thus, here is my "just about" card: All-Star game-worn workout jersey (really? a workout jersey??) of Paul Konerko:

Not to be outdone, my mother-in-law snuck a pack of football cards into my stocking (for the Christmas record, she makes up stockings for everyone in the family each year. She is not stepping on ol' Santa's toes with this).  When I opened the pack of Score cards, Big Ben was staring me in the face!  Hey, if you're gonna get me football cards, pulling a pack with a Steeler in it is a sure-fire way to win me over!  I also got a "Millennium Men" insert of Antonio Gates and Jake Long card (among other cards).  Why post the Jake Long?  Because it features James Harrison, of course.

I love that my family supports my cardboard habit!  As a matter of note, I also received several other 'hobby-related' items including Indians shirts and shorts, "The Perfect Game" on DVD, and "The Funniest Baseball Book Ever" in paperback.  I'm sure there were other things, too. I just can't remember them now that it's been almost a week.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Topps 2012 Series 2 on Facebook

Topps released pics/mock-ups of their 2012 Series 2 line for next year.  I made comments on each and every one of them as a way to provide customer feedback, and because I generally can't keep my mouth shut about anything these days, it seems.

My number one complaint: stickered autographs.  Oh, I know, to some collectors, just having an autograph is fantastic in and of itself.  For me, though, an actual on-card auto far outweighs the coolness factor of signed sticker.  Why?  Because with an on-card auto, you know the player actually touched the card in order to get the auto on there.  With a sticker, it just seems... I dunno... removed somehow.

My other issue is the large 1-of-1 letter patch cards and the 'retro-look' cards.  Come on. Using designs from past sets is played out. Has been for years.  Collectors want something new, fresh.

I actually like the designs of the base set for 2012 on the vertical cards.  The design, to me, does not work at all on horizontal versions.  Why not?  The "swoop/swish" thing takes up too much room.  On a vertical card, there is still plenty of space for the player photo.  On a horizontal card, though, that same element squeezes the player's photo.

By far, my favorite styles for the 2012 Series 2 are the Team Ring cards and the Gold Futures Coins.  I think they should do a "coins" version for HOFers/Legends though. Nice.

There are lots of additional pictures on their Facebook page (link below).  Topps has their version of "Upper Deck X" as well.  It's a so-so design, but looks far too much like "X" for my liking. I mean, sure I liked "X" die cuts and all, but once again - played out.  What I'd really like to see if the return of Pacific-style die cuts.  I mean, if we're going to do die cuts, let's get wild with them: Christmas tree ornaments, baseballs, whatever!

*The 2012 Series 2 album is here:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas, Tribecards style

(okay, so I am repurposing last year's Christmas post. does that count as regifting if it's a gift I gave twice?)

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!  I hope you and your family have a WONDERFUL Christmas full of little bits of cardboard goodness!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2012 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot/thoughts

This is my first foray into picking HOFer, er potential ones anyway, as a member of the BBA.  I will probably match many of my fellow bloggers on most things, given the players listed for 2012.  But, if you've been reading along at all, you know I have some pretty weird quirks and I'm sure some of those will find their way into my decision making.  My criteria for choosing certain players hinges on one thing - do I think the player is "Hall-worthy."

And, before we get started, let's just clear something up right here: The late-great players that have been in the Hall since its inception (not all, I know!) have been boozers, potheads, schizos, womanizers, whatever.  As I read on another post, I'm not looking for players that helped old ladies across the street (though that helps in my book), but players who should be listed in the Hall because they deserve to in the Hall of FAME.  Are they baseball-famous?  Would a sports fan, possibly even a casual one, know who this person is due to their contribution to baseball?  Infamy can work just as well as fame. Well, maybe. Sometimes not so much.

Naturally, these are not sorted in any form or fashion. However, I will list my top 5 or 10 or whatever at the end.

Barry Larkin - One of my favorite players during the height of my early collecting years. HOFer? Maybe. He's a cusp vote in my book. Vote: MAYBE

Jack Morris - Another cusp vote. Hard to say outright, but with the other names on here, I don't see him making it. Fair or not, that's the way it happens. Vote: MAYBE

Juan Gonzalez - How is he not already in? Seriously. He'd get a yes from me. Vote: YES

Lee Smith - Without looking up any numbers whatsoever, I don't recall much about Smith. I'll say no based on that alone. Vote: NO

Jeff Bagwell - Of course. Bagwell, for me, is synonymous with the Astros and a name that stands out among the others. Er, well, some of the others. Enough to get my vote. Vote: YES

Tim Raines - How is he not already in? Yes, it is time to put Tim Raines in the HOF. Vote: YES

Edgar Martinez - Mariners perennial. As soon as I see the name, I think of a kickin' 3rd baseman that I watched play for many years. A career Seattle player that ought to be in the Hall. Vote: YES

Alan Trammell - I know the name instantly. Is he Hall-worthy, though? Not that I can think of. Maybe his numbers say something else, but not off the top of my head. Vote: NO

Larry Walker - Like Trammel, I know the name, but can't see him in the Hall. Sorry, guy. Vote: NO

Mark McGwire - Ah, the steroids poster boy. Here's the thing: Pete Rose is booted for life because he got caught betting on baseball, as a MANAGER. McGwire used 'roids as a PLAYER. The "Pete Rose Barometer" needs to be abolished. He and Sosa should be in Hall. Period. Steroids or not, a player still has to hit a ball coming at them at 95+ miles per hour. Steroids or not, I can't do it. Can you? Oh, I know, the argument is more about the distance, power, etc.  Whatever. You could walk up to just about anyone on the street and mention his name and people will know who he is. Vote: YES

Fred McGriff - The Crime Dog!  Of course he goes in the Hall!  DUH! Vote: YES

Don Mattingly - How in the heck is DON "FREAKIN" MATTINGLY not already in the baseball Hall of Fame!?  Seriously.  Don Mattingly!?  Hello, people! Vote: YES

Dale Murphy - Refer to comment above.  It is DALE "FREAKIN" MURPHY here, folks!  Come on. How do people like Murphy not get into the Hall on the first ballot!?  The system, my friends, is broken.  Vote: YES

Rafael Palmeiro - Ah, yes, another 'besmirching' name for the Hall.  Like McGwire, I would venture that even non-fans know his name, probably would say he was an Oriole (without even knowing who the Orioles were), and would say, "Isn't he in the Hall with Babe Ruth?" Well, okay, maybe a stretch there at the last, but you get my point. Vote: YES

Bernie Williams - I could see him in. I could see him not in. Another cusp player for me. Vote: MAYBE

Vinny Castilla - Probably not. I have no reason other than my gut telling me no. Vote: NO

Javy Lopez - I don't know why, but I think he should be in there.  For me, Javy is one of those players that immediately brings baseball to mind. And for that alone, I'll say yes. Vote: YES

Ruben Sierra - Meh. Like several others, I know the name but very little about his career or his contributions to baseball as a whole.  For that, I say maybe. Vote: MAYBE

Jeromy Burnitz - I can't think of why he would be in the Hall. Vote: NO

Tim Salmon - Nothing jumps out at me here. Vote: NO

Tony Womack - Never heard of him. Vote: NO

Phil Nevin - I actually thought he was a pitcher. Turns out he was an infielder. There's all I need to vote. I didn't remember anything about him. Vote: NO

Brian Jordan - Okay, another name that rings no bells whatsoever. Vote: NO

Eric Young - Hmmm... Trying to recall... Nope. Nada. Sorry, man. Vote: NO

Bill Mueller - Again, nothing rings a bell.  In fact, I'm starting to get cobwebs up there. Vote: NO

Terry Mulholland - Ah, pitcher. A name I know. Not sure Hall-worthy, though. He's probably cusp for me at best. Vote: MAYBE

Brad Radke - Another name I know, but not sure if he is Hall material.  Let him ride the fence. Vote: MAYBE

So, let me review my picks (in order of appearance, not my voting order):
Juan Gonzalez, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Edgar Martinez, Mark McGwire, Fred McGriff, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Rafael Palmeiro, Javy Lopez

And now, let's put them in order of my vote:
Dale Murphy
Don Mattingly
Jeff Bagwell
Juan Gonzalez
Edgar Martinez
Tim Raines
Javy Lopez
Fred McGriff
Rafael Palmeiro
Mark McGwire

And, lookie there, I ended up with exactly ten names. Without even trying.  I guess things just have a way or working out, eh.  Feel free to comment.  Have fun!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2003 Post, Upper Deck, EA Sports, RealOne CDs

Remember when Topps cards appeared on the bottom of Hostess boxes or were included in boxes of cereal?  Well, in 2003, Post teamed up with Upper Deck, RealOne Networks, America Online, and EA Sports to bring collectors a look into the "21st Century Collection."  What did these new-fangled collections come on? CD-ROM, of course!

I recently found a stash of the discs in a pile of other ancient games and CD's, and realized I never completed the set.  Heck, I'm not sure until today I even ever opened a single disc.  I did not have AL Central in my stash, so I found a seller on eBay, bid and bought it. 

There were six discs in all, one for each division.  According to the promo video that plays, if you collected all six discs you could order a real set of cards from UD.  More on that in a moment.

Surprisingly, the CDs still play on a Windows 7 machine, though there are some weird glitches. If you plan to pick these up, I suggest you run them in the Windows XP Mode download from Microsoft.  The install puts RealOne on your computer if you don't already have RealPlayer.  Not sure what it does if you *do* have RealPlayer already.

The promotion was officially called "Three Ways to Score" and featured the title screen below.  One could run a demo of EA Sports MVP 2003 Home Run game where you face off against another player (human or computer) and you have to hit enough home runs to accumulate 5,280 feet (a mile).  I played as Jim Thome against the computer as Sammy Sosa. Let's just say I have to practice on timing.

The other options from the title screen are to watch "Huge Home Runs" - a video collection featuring homers from the teams featured on the particular disc.  You could also view you virtual trading cards.  You may recall my post about CyberAction collectible trading cards.  These were the the-modern day version.  We'll see those in a bit.

Right now, check out the screenshot from the "Huge Home Runs" video of the Indians.  The video can be played full screen, but by today's standards, the quality doesn't even rival YouTube low quality. It's a bit rough to watch outside of the default size (my guess about 320x240 maybe).  You can't see it in my screenshot, but the bottom half of the layout has icons of the teams to choose from.  When you pick one for the first time, the program copies the videos to your computer.

The last option on the title screen is to view your collection.  This actually two parts to it: the virtual cards and a checklist system for UD's MVP series for 2002.  Why?  I have no idea.  The cool thing, though, about the checklist: you get a front and back view of each card.

Next, we get to the virtual cards.  First, we see a checklist of the cards available on THIS disc.  You have to insert the right CD to view the right cards.  That is sooo 2003...  So is telling people to click on the HIGHLIGHTED names.  Because, you know, we were so dumb in '03 we didn't understand hyperlinks and all that fancy web-page stuff.

The cards themselves are actually kinda cool, for digital cards that is.  Again, the resolution of today's computers make reading these a bit rough.  However, you get the general idea:

I will have to see if I can find the actual card that goes along with Thome's virtual one.  I don't think I ever knew they had physical counterparts.  That's actually a very clever idea, Upper Deck.

Since I am only missing #'s 3 and 5, I may hit the 'Bay and snag them up - or a full set, probably cheaper.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Packs to be mailed

Hey all, just thought I'd drop a quick line to let you know that I am still here at Tribecards.  Been offline from the site a bit as life has taken me away from blogging about my beloved Tribe here lately. Hopefully, that will turn around before too long.

In the meantime, I have several packs of cards I'll be sending out this week: some folks are still awaiting their "Starter Packs" from the Topps Hobby box I opened many moons ago and I have random packs of kindness that I will be shipping out.  Eric S's was sent to an old address, returned, and then promptly placed on a shelf to be mailed out, which never happened - D'OH!

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a VERY Merry Christmas and a happy off season! :-)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Jim Thome Baseball Game

Evidently, in 1997, Jim Thome was asked to put his name and likeness on a dice/board baseball game.  I had never seen nor heard of this beast until I saw a recent post on  From there, I just had to look around. Sure enough, there are several on eBay...  I may have to add this to my Christmas wish list, just for kicks.

For those who enjoy "airburshing," you can see this game is NOT licensed by the MLB in any form or fashion.  Sure, he may be wearing an Indians uniform in these images, but you're not supposed to know he is...  Based on the work done, it probably would have been cheaper to get the rights than pay the person to airbrush the images.  Then again, I know several of you could whip that out pretty quickly.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Two Cents: Looking at the Indians Off Season

As part of the three-part assignment given by Bill Ivie at, my off-season outlook appears on the BBD site here:

The third article in the series will appear in the spring as I'll take a look at the upcoming season based on the players ready to take the field at the time.

For this most recent writing, however, I believe Beau Mills has the highest potential impact for the team, presuming he'll come up from the minors to help out at first.  As I state in the piece, he could actually take the first base position depending on what the Tribe does there.  I think he has been flying just under the radar but is about to bust loose.  Whether for the Tribe or not, Mills is one to watch in 2012.

Under the generosity of Mr. Ivie, the writers participating in this 3-part project have also been invited to write other guest pieces for BaseballDigest Online.  As always, if something I write gets published there, I'll be sure to share!

NOTE: Thanks to the Internet WayBackMachine, I was able to pull the article! I present here:

 Note from the editor: When Baseball Digest first started in 1944, the magazine gathered writers from all across the country to provide insight to the teams that they covered on a regular basis.  This provided content and coverage that was in depth and more insightful than having national writers cover teams and players that they barely knew.

Our featured bloggers that provided us with the in depth Report Card series that has just concluded are back to give everyone an in depth look at what the off season holds for the major league teams they cover.  A look at what each team needs, what each team has already gained and lost, and some of the youth in each team’s system will be examined in these articles.  You can find all of the author’s information at the bottom of the article.

The Cleveland Indians look to have one of the most talked about, possibly most tumultuous offseasons the team has seen in a while.  As of the writing of this article, the Tribe can’t decide if they are re-signing Grady Sizemore or letting him go.  Not the superstar outfielder he once was, plagued by injury, the Indians were right to cut him in the first place.  The biggest question for his future with the Indians: Will a one-year deal be worth it?

The Indians finished just under the .500 mark in 2011 (80-82) after a rough opening start that then turned into one of the most successful runs the Tribe has seen as of late.  That quickly jump started the roller coaster that saw the Tribe ultimately fall 15 games behind the Tigers by the end of the regular season.  There are a lot of areas to be improved.  Primarily, Indians players have got to stay healthy and have got to be on the field.  As shown in the end-of-year report card, every aspect of the team could stand some help.

With so much up in the air, it’s hard to say just what is in place and what had yet to be determined.  Will Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis, Jason Donald, or Jack Hannahan man the second and/or third base positions next season?  Will Chisenhall even start in the Majors?  Pitching seems to be shaping up with the addition of Lowe, and most recently Scott Barnes.  Justin Masterson is the star-to-be on the mound.  Asdrubal Cabrera should be secure in his starting position next season as well as Carlos Santana.  The outfield, however, is anybody’s guess.  It also serves as one of the main areas of improvement.

Possible players seeing the end of their Indians stint: Trevor Crowe and Chad Huffman.  These two may lose their place to the Rule 5 Draft.  The team could probably use either one as trade fodder down the line, which is something I’m sure the team management is taking into consideration.

One player that will hopefully come into his own for 2012 is Beau Mills.  Mills could easily come up from the minors to help out Matt LaPorta at first base.  He has several years’ experience in the Minors and consistently bats better than .260 over the course of his MiLB career.  Last season, he moved up from Akron to Columbus, batting .300 in Akron and finishing in Columbus with a .269.  In 96 games, he had 67 RBIs on 101 hits.  He has been simmering, slowly improving and honing his skills.  If LaPorta can’t stay healthy, Mills could step in and fill the job, providing the Indians don’t have another name or two they are seeking out elsewhere.

And, that is the ultimate move to be seen: what players the Indians are seeking out elsewhere.  The team has a knack for putting together a group of players that ultimately brings one or two diamonds-n-the-rough, which are then usually, and un ceremoniously, dumped (read, traded) to other teams for older players or players that are essentially unknown.  In this offseason, the Indians need to get the positions set and start working on building a team of player, rather than a bunch of guys on the field all wearing the same uniform.

David “Tribecards” Henderson
Tribe Cards

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

As seen in the Little Rock airport

It's not everyday you get to see anything related to the Tribe in Arkansas, so I was happy to see this ad!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cards from The Readerman

A few days ago, perhaps a tad longer than that, I received a bubbleope from Rod "Readerman" Richards.  When I picked it up, I heard a bit of rattling around in there, so my curiosity was certainly raised a bit.

When I opened the package, I tilted it a little and sliding out came four small buttons.  Rod loves to read and to post his reviews and thoughts about the books he reads on  as you may recall, he recently reviewed my debut novel (I got a well-deserved "B" with tips on making into an "A").  The buttons each contained literary references:

My favorite of the lot, of course, "I'm Bringing Paperback."  Even my daughter "got" the joke! Excellent stuff!

Of course, what I really wanted to get after: the cards!  Send in the cards!  (Okay, bad parody of a line from "Die Hard," but what can I say?)

First up: 2011 Heritage Clubhouse Collection Relic Arodys Vizcaino, 2011 A&G Chris Perez, and 2011 A&G Carlos Santana. I had to look up Vizcaino because I am not familiar with him. Turns out, he is a Braves "future star" that ultimately figures in to the Derek Lowe deal with the Tribe. How? Well, I figure if he stays up in the majors (he saw some time last year evidently), he may show that getting rid of Lowe was the best move more the Braves. I can't say I disagree. I can't I agree with the Tribe getting Lowe, though. I digress. The card itself is Heritage classic: wood grain background, washed-out/faded image, nice sturdy card stock. The Allen & Ginters are VERY nice this year! I know, not everyone is a fan, but I am. I love the trim/border and the colored logo area. Great stuff. And, I get Perez and Santana to boot! Wahoo!

Next up, a trio of 1988 Score cards: Cory Snyder, Carmen Castillo, and John Farrell. Synder, of course, is one of the Indians all-time fan favorites. He played nearly every day, every chance he got. He wasn't "Hall of Fame" level, but he was "Get in there and get to work" level. And, in Cleveland, that's what matters. Carmen Castillo didn't play as often as Synder, but still managed to hold his own with an AVG that mirrored Synder's as well as an OBP that was about the same as well. John Farrell served as part of the Indians starting rotation through the late 80's into 1990, then made a brief return in '95. I'm not crazy about the purple borders on these, and the double border design seems to shrink the photo even more than it already is. In any case, I love getting Tribers from days gone by!

The next cards include 2008 UD First Edition Update Jhonny Peralta, 2008 UD First Edition Update Paul Byrd, 2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects Kyle Blair.  I love these UD First Edition cards.  Large photos with text that doesn't overtake the card and they are borderless.  Nice stuff here!  The Bowman Chrome makes the photo look like it was tacked on as an afterthought - so small... So small... (Okay, that double "so small" is a reference to Stephen King's short "The Man in the Black Suit.").  The Kyle Blair card threw me a bit because the auto doesn't say "Kyle Blair."  There's a good reason for that: his name is actually Blair Kyle Carson, and the auto is, of course, his legal, contract-binding name.  So, mystery solved.  Is he likely to see The Bigs in 2012.  I'll vote yes.

The next three Tribecards are 2011 Topps Lineage Grady Sizemore, 2011 Topps Lineage Cy Young, and 2011 Topps Mitch Talbot.  I think I've said this before, but I love the look of the Lineage cards! They are, how do you say, "modern retro."  Haha, something like that.  And, I also happen to like the 2011 base product design as well.  Grady Sizemore is coming back to the Tribe for another year of "maybe he'll play today, maybe he won't."  Cy Young. Perhaps you've heard of him?  There's some kind of pitching award handed out with his name on it.  You didn't know?  Yeah, he was one of the best freaking pitchers out there.  Yeah, he played for the Indians!  In his pitching debut (for then Cleveland Spiders), he pitched a 3-hitter.  Just sayin.  Talbot has elected free agency and might be picked up by someone - if they overlook his horrid 6 gazillion ERA. Ouch. 

So, check these bad boys out: 2011 Topps Diamond Anniversary Gold Sparkly Kosuke Fukudome (yes, that's what I'm calling it, got a problem with that?), 2011 Gypsy Queen Carlos Santana, and a 2011 Topps Update (or something or other) Lonnie Chisenhall.  The gold sparkly ROCKS!  Man, that is one sweet card!The Gypsy Queen is an interesting fella.  The border is a bit big, but I can't help but like the text on it and the weird cell-shading effect of the player.  Cool card.  Chisenhall was gonna save the team.  That's a lot to ask of a kid.  Just ask Sizemore.  Overall, though, a sweet triplet.

The last three cards feature a 2011 Topps Lineage Albert "freakin" Belle, 2011 Bowman Platinum Moments Carlos Santana, and a 2011 Topps Jeanmar Gomez.  Any time someone sends me a player like Albert Belle, I go bananas.  I know, I know, he had his "moments" on and off the field, but you cannot dent his on-field awesomeness.  Flat out rockin.  The Bowman Santana card is something to behold.  Man, this is one fantastic card!  THIS is what chrome/foil/shiny should have been all along.  Thick card stock, great photo and color, and even the text/logo scream "class."  One of my favorite styles yet.  Topps did something right with this set!  Gomez looks like he is pitching in the desert. Wait, this was probably taken in Goodyear.  (Ah, I hear the calls of "NO S***, SHERLOCK!" now)

I want to thank Rod for a VERY cool surprise package!!  These are some great Tribers and a handful of cool literary buttons to boot!!  Not often those two worlds collide for me, and it's nice to see they make a neat pair!  In fact, I think it's time to sit down and start a baseball-related novel.  I mean writing one, not reading one, although there may be some of that too.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Add "BaseballDigest Online" Contributor to the list!

A couple weeks ago, Bill Ivie of BaseballDigest asked for folks to submit a "Report Card" for their favorite team(s).  I volunteered to take an honest, hard look at the Indians.  Let me assure you, it may not be easy reading if you are the type of fan who only sees the team through red-and-blue-colored spectacles.

The Indians finished 2nd in their division in 2011, which is great.  But, they also finished just south of .500, which is basically average.  Well, in my book, it is average.  Mind you, the writers were not given any kind of rubric with which to base their findings, so I made up my own.  Namely, I see a .500 season as "average."  After all, a 1.000 season would be an A+, a .750 would equal a "B", a .500 is a "C", a .250 a "D" and anything short of .250 is failing.  I may very well be the only writer to evaluate their team that way, but, as I said, I made it up.  Feel free to agree or disagree.

So, overall, the Indians were a "C-/D+" team in my opinion.  And, after reading about injuries and lack of player continuity at just about any given position, hopefully you will see why I graded the way I did.

I love the Indians, and have for a long, long time.  I outgrew the "blinders-on" fandom back in the 80's.  I want to see the Indians do well, play hard, stay healthy, and make good, solid management decisions.  Looking back on a season with extreme highs and devastating lows, I believe I have provided a solid representation of my beloved Indians in 2011.

And so, without further delay, I present my 2011 Cleveland Indians Report Card:

NOTE: Thanks to the WayBackMachine, I was able to find the original article. It is posted here for your perusal:

Note from the editor: When Baseball Digest first started in 1944, the magazine gathered writers from all across the country to provide insight to the teams that they covered on a regular basis.  This provided content and coverage that was in depth and more insightful than having national writers cover teams and players that they barely knew. aims to keep up that tradition.  This season, we bring you a Report Card on each team in Major League Baseball from writers that cover that team directly.  At the bottom of each write up, you will find the writer’s name, website, and any other pertinent information.  

The Indians started off slowly with two losses but then the Tribe surprised much of the baseball community by becoming the best team in the league for quite a stretch.  Much to the chagrin of its fans, however, the league-leading days were numbered and the Indians found themselves quickly far behind the Tigers in the AL Central.  They did manage to maintain second place in their division, mainly because the season came to a gracious end.

Between injuries and awful performance, this hard look into the Indians of 2011 will not be pretty and will not even have sugar-coated sprinkles on it.  Though, even with the bitter flavor of the past season, there were some nuggets of sweetness.  Unfortunately, those nuggets provided very little reprieve.

Rotation: C

The Indians biggest failure belonged to the players who couldn’t stay healed enough to play.  From Sizemore to Hafner to Chisenhall, the Indians had to make the best of the players who could actually serve in the rotation.  Though some fans might say the rotation is a “B” considering what the team had to work with, the fact that the Tribe had trouble actually keeping a working rotation knocks them down to simply average.  There were a few stand-outs in Asdrubal Cabrera (who secured a Silver Slugger award), fan favorite Jack Hannahan, and Travis Hafner (when he was healthy).  In fact, the Indians only had four players to play in more than 100 games during the season.  Of course, much of the rest of the regulars on the team shared rotation duties.  Seven players rotated through 60 or more games during the 2011 season.

Bullpen: C

Chris Perez stood out as the Indians closer-to-beat.  He pitched in 64 games and managed end with a 3.32 ERA despite an almost perfect distribution of runs, earned runs, and walks (24, 22, and 26 respectively).   Fausto Carmona started the Indians off with the worst ERA in history for an Opening Day, allowing 10 runs and generating a 30.00 ERA before getting pulled.  Fortunately, the Indians found a groove to lead the league before allowing the team to slip into second place in the AL Central. Other notable pitchers in Ubaldo Jimenez (who was brought in to save the Tribe from themselves, but found himself failing to do so – ending with a 5.10 ERA and leaving Indians fans scratching their heads), Justin Masterson (12-10, 3.21 ERA), Rafael Perez (5-2, 3.00 ERA), and Josh Tomlin (12-7, 4.25 ERA).  Tony Sipp was something of a surprise, finishing out with a 6-3 record and a 3.03 ERA.  And Joe Smith had a very impressive scoreless streak from May to July, mainly due to his facing twice as many righties as lefties.  Still, a great highlight in the Indians season.  Alas, once the team lost its rhythm, none of the mound masters could not save the team from itself.

As for starters, there was none better than Justin Masterson.  His 12-10 record coupled with a 3.21 ERA demonstrates the tip of the iceberg.  He let up only 11 home runs (though, admittedly giving up 77 earned runs) and struck out 158 batters in 216 innings pitched.  Of the runs scored against him, 55/77 came from lefties and 9/11 homers were hit by left-handed batters.  Even that, though, was an improvement over his 2010 lefty stats.

Catchers: C

There are two words that come to mind when thinking about the Indians catchers: Carlos Santana.  He had a great start to the season (taking part in a triple play on April 3, then hitting a grand slam later the same month).  Unfortunately, he had a rough time defensively.  He ended up 4th overall in errors by a catcher.  Granted, he had to split his time between catching and 1B after Matt LaPorta’s meltdown.

Infield: D+

There is no easy way to say it: The Indians bombed defensively in 2011.  Sure, the Indians has moments of greatness (like the above-mentioned triple play) and sometime made the “Top 10″ plays of the week on a particular sports network, but when taking the season as a whole, the Tribe ended up as the scum on the bottom of the barrel.  Orlando Cabrera, Jason Kipnis, Matt LaPorta, and Carlos Santana (among the other players the Indians threw in to try to save the team) simply looked like a B-Movie version of “Major League.”  And not the second half of the movie, either.  This was a “Back to the Minors” season for sure.  The bright spot defensively came from Jack Hannahan.

Offensively, Asdrubal Cabrera earned himself a Silver Slugger award, batting .273 on the year with over 600 at-bats producing 87 runs on 165 hits, 32 doubles, 25 homers, and knocking in 92 RBIs.  No one else on the team came even close, regardless of position. Well, okay, Santana came close.  He had just over 550 at-bats, scoring 84 runs on 132 hits, 35 doubles, 27 homers and 79 RBIs.  He ended the season with a .239 batting average.  Looking at the numbers, the Indians appear to have done pretty well offensively which accounts for the great early to middle-of-the season record for the Tribe this past year.  In fact, it is the offense that saved the Indians from receiving a flat-out F in the category.

Outfield: F

Here’s a quiz: Name the Indians outfielder with the highest fielding percentage who played in more than 100 games. Oh, wait, there was only one player to play in more than 100 games: Michael Brantley.  How about more than 90 games? The same. More than 86? The same. Drop the threshold to 85 or more and Shin-Soo Choo appears on the list. In order to see anyone else, the appearance number must drop to 64 (Carrera).  It is not until we drop the threshold to 50 or more that we see the “I thought these guys were going to be great/used to be great” additions of Kearns, Sizemore, and Fukudome.  Between injuries and a general head-shaking collapse of the entire outfield, the Indians simply could not pull together any combination of players to bring the team out of its downward plunge.  What saved the team?  The huge jump they had at the start of the season.

Offensively, the outfield wasn’t abysmal, but weren’t very good overall, either.  Sure, Brantley, Duncan, and Choo all batted better than .250, but aside from Sizemore, they also led the team in strikeouts.  Duncan led the Tribe with 11 home runs. Yes, you read that correctly. Sizemore hit 10 and Brantley had 8 homers.  The Indians outfield was just about as invisible at the plate as they were in the field.

Top Offensive Player

It is no wonder Asdrubal Cabrera secured a Silver Slugger Award in 2011.  In the list of Indians appearing in at least 100 games, he led in at-bats, runs, hits, RBIs, stolen bases, batting average, and slugging percentage.  Take into account the entire team, and he led in at-bats, runs,  hits, RBIs, and stolen bases.  Take out Tomlin, Kipnis, Duncan, and Thome (who were all non-everyday batters anyway) and Cabrera leads in slugging percentage as well.  Overall, he was Top 5 in nearly every offensive category for the Indians in 2011 and receives my vote as the top offensive player.

Top Pitcher

While many Tribe fans would undoubtedly choose Chris Perez as having the greatest impact on the team from the mound in 2011, Justin Masterson served as the leader in the middle of the diamond.  As stated above, he made a vast improvement over 2010 against lefties.  Masterson proved to the team that he no longer deserved to be relegated to the back of the rotation.

David “Tribecards” Henderson

Tribe Cards


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Seriously. Let him go.

Ah, yes, word on the street is that the Indians and Grady Sizemore's people are close to a 1-year deal to bring him back to Cleveland.  Am I the only Tribe fan that sees this as a horrible, horrible thing to do??  He was once a great outfielder. There is no doubt about that.  He even did "okay" last year for a guy who was plagued by the same injury-proneness that has followed him for years.  And, therein lies the rub: he cannot stay in a playable condition.

Please, let the man go. Let some other team deal with injuries and rumor and speculation of playability.  We need new, healthy players in the Tribe clubhouse.  We have got to look FORWARD with both eyes instead of glancing forward while keeping our team's head turned to the past.

The Indians management needs to grow a pair and cut loose that which drags the team down.  At the same time, quit pulling in players that only serve to increase the average player age of the team.  Age and experience can be good things. No doubt there.  But, sometimes, you have to just keep swimming.  Keep moving forward.  It's worked pretty well for Disney. Let's try it in Cleveland.

Here's the MLB article regarding the deal as of Friday.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tribecards and Alaska

About a week or so ago, Jesse from asked for volunteers to participate in a project he was developing.  So, a few days ago, he dropped me a line to ask for my input regarding a few ex-Alaska League players who are part of the Indians organization.  Admittedly, I had not really heard of the players since I don't generally follow the prospect scene.  But, I agreed to the project because I thought it would be a fun challenge.  It was!

I did as much research on each player as I could, then culled together my thoughts based on stats, info, and general "gut feelings."  I guess we'll see how close I come when the Tribe take the field in 2012.

You can check out the article (which is really a Q&A) on the site:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wherefore art thou, Tribecards?

Oh, I know, you think I fell off the face of the Earth after posting how I was going to write more and do better.  Evidently, I am not a very good steward of the Tribecards name, especially in the off season.

Well, as a teaser, I can tell you that I have been working on a series of articles for Baseball Digest Online (along with a slew of other folks) that recaps the 2011 baseball season, looks at the team's off season, and then looks ahead to next year.

Once my article has been edited, approved and posted, I'll share it with you, along with additional thoughts that didn't make the summary.  I have a feeling my submitted piece will get cut a bit as I wrote a tad more than double the requested word count.  And, I didn't even digress in it!

I suppose that comes from my MA in BS...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A most EPIC adventure - vicarious living!

So, you had to watch Game 7 of the World Series on TV with the majority of folks (including myself)?  What if... Just, what if... You and two of your buddies decided to hop in a car and head to Game 7 without any tickets and not really much of a plan?

Well, follow along with these three guys as they did just that!  I had a BLAST reading along* as they spelled out each part of their trip.  In fact, I see a movie deal in the making with this one.  So, like most of us, I am living vicariously through the awesomeness that is DiamondHoggers:

*Note: I **DID NOT** go on this trip. I am merely sharing an incredible tale!  Heck, I don't even know the guys involved.  And, even if I did, I'd probably have to claim I didn't after their adventure anyway for legal reasons!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Crying FOUL!

Announced today, the Indians have decided NOT to exercise Grady Sizemore's option, while choosing to keep Fausto Carmona.  What seems to be the bane of Tribe fans who are voicing their opinion overwhelming supports the Sizemore decision.  What many fans are crying FOUL over is the decision to keep Carmona.  Why bother keep Carmona?

Well, with his 7-15 record and abysmal 5.15 ERA, that is the multimillion dollar question.  My take on this?  They kept him, hoping for a just-above-par performance next season in order to facilitate a trade.  Basically, I think the Indians are hoping he can improve enough before the 2012 trade deadline and work out a deal with some sucker.  Of course, once Carmona does get traded off, he will become the darling of the MLB, as how things seem to turn out for many of the Indians players lately.

Okay, maybe "darling" is stretching it a bit.

What of Sizemore?  I think he should retire from the MLB.  Seriously. Take the injuries and head off to a career as a semi-pro player using his "what I used to be" history and help some club boost their numbers. 

Of course, I may be in the minority here, but I see Hafner doing the same thing.  The Indians cannot simply go one coddling players that used to be killer and who are now just injury-prone has-beens.

What of Thome?  Well, evidently he has filed for free agency (along with several other Tribers).  While I would love for Thome to get a World Series ring, I think his incredible (though mostly ignored) career should go out on top with this 600+ home runs.

Getting back to the original topic: What do you think?  Was keeping Carmona and ditching Sizemore the right thing to do?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Study uses race to sell baseball cards

Thanks to a heads-up from Cardboard Connection, I was turned on to a study done which looked at racial affects of sales on eBay.  The authors of the study chose to sell baseball cards.  In each auction, a single hand was shown holding the card.  The study then evaluated the original purchase price versus what the card sold for in the study's auction based on the race of the card holder's hand: that is - do African-American sellers get lower bids than White sellers, based on only the skin color of the seller?

In the study, the authors do a fairly good job of eliminating most of the variables related to eBay auctions: sellers have non-identifying IDs, paypal accounts, etc; different sellers offer up a variety of player cards; no interaction between sellers and potential buyers was conducted during the auctions, etc.

The authors prided themselves on NOT selling the same cards among the participants.  That is, no two sellers sold the same card.  I see this as a serious design flaw in the study.  Why?  Because in card collecting, WHO is pictured represents a very significant piece of the puzzle.  Even if superstars are spread among the sellers (which they were, as well as memorabilia/auto cards), one must still take into account the actual player(s) being depicted.  Granted, the authors were not trying to see if the cards sold for more or equal value to what they were originally purchased (though that is a part of the data).  They wanted to see the overall difference: did white sellers have higher sales than non-whites.  To me, they were not comparing items on a level playing field.  This was akin to comparing sales of Granny Smith apples to Red Delicious.  I do understand that they did not want to appear to be flooding the market with any particular card, but to me anyway, the study should be re-done using cards of the same players, and preferably of the same cards (or at least have some control cards involved: each seller has, say, 8-10 of the exact same card as the other sellers for sale).  For clarity here: I do not mean each seller has 8-10 Rollie Fingers autograph cards.  I mean each seller has a Rollie Fingers auto card, each one has a game-used McGwire card, etc and preferably it is the SAME card.  So, potential buyers would see FOUR Fingers cards, FOUR McGwire cards, etc - the ONLY difference being the hand which holds the card.

The second flaw in the design: Players/teams being offered.  The study was done around May 2006 (judging by the posted photos of completed auctions).  April/May is actually not a bad time of year to do such a study: Baseball season is gearing up/just starting and potential collectors tend to buy more/bid higher.  I admit, though, that the players generally being offered are of a caliber that they should garner decent sales results regardless of the time of year.  However, collectors are a finicky lot.  Some player cards will warrant higher selling prices for all kinds of reasons: does the collector mainly collect Hank Aaron, does the collector mainly collect Astros, how common is the card being offered up, etc?  I think they did a nice job of mixing graded and non-graded, spreading out the production years, etc, but still: WHO is on the card?  As mentioned above, a more consistent offering of the players depicted would have evened the playing field. 

The study reports on the race(s) of the player(s) shown on the card.  As a collector, I say they wasted a lot of time on that one.  Generally, collectors do not collect based on the player's race (though, admittedly, I am sure there are collectors who do that very thing) - they collect based on WHO is shown on the card (whether that be a specific player, team, etc).  While the data showing seller race compared to depicted card race(s) was a fun aside, that is all it was: a distracting aside that bears no meaning on the true focus of the study.

Perhaps a "better" control study would have been to offer one copy of each card without any hands being depicted at all.  Would the lack of any kind of identifying race have changed the outcome of the study?  Something to think about.

Of course, the number one issue at hand has nothing to with race.  The number one issue is the use of baseball cards as the study's vehicle.  Baseball card prices are some of the most liquid figures in the known world.  Even when offered for a week at a time, any given card might garner higher sales or lower sales based on absolutely nothing whatsoever.  In fact, perhaps a follow-up study should be done with the same cards in order to see if the data returns the same.  Naturally, that wouldn't really be conclusive either based on the third sentence in this very paragraph: card prices are liquid.

Here's another thought: What if this study were done with, say, football cards instead?  Or how about hockey cards?  Would we see the same results?  Would it matter, given the flaws inherent in such an experiment?  What if the experiment were done with jewelry, videogames, or Fruit Loops?

I appreciate what the authors were trying to achieve: a determination of whether race plays a significant role in eBay auctions.  But, one set of sales based one type of product is hardly conclusive.  They even say so themselves, though not in so many words.

The entire study can be found here:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Coming up empty


A while ago, I signed up for a case break over at A Cardboard Problem.  Well, the break finally took place once the cards were released from Topps and ACP got hold of the cards.  After the break, I received an email from Marie.  She let me know that the Indians raked in exactly ZERO cards from the entire break!  Say what!?  ZERO Indians cards in the entire box or case or whatever it was!?  No way!  Way.  Nothin'.  Because Marie is such a great person, however, she made an offer I couldn't refuse and so I will be trying again for the next break.
I can't help but wonder how it is that in all of the Topps collation systems, there are ZERO Indians cards in the box.  In the whole box!?  Really, Topps?  Oh wait, I know.. This was an "error box" right?