Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Bar is CLOSED

Thanks for all of the support folks.

Please head on over to:

Friday, April 9, 2010

One Final Mailday

Tonight I board the big ol' jet airliner for Chicago and a new start. So that means this is the final "real" post on this blog. What better way to go then to show off the latest additions to the collection. There is a an ebay purchase and a couple of trades.

First up from the Bay.

A Yellow Parallel Vincent Lecavalier UD Champs. Step one on the rainbow, now to find the base, blue and red versions!

Trade number one. I sent Drew a bunch of football cards and he responded with a couple of 100 count plastic boxes containing some set needs, O's and Rays along with the single football card. It's pretty flippin' sweet.

A Lenny Moore Buy Back. This is the first buy back from any sport that I've been able to add to my collection. The fact that it's one of the all time best BALTIMORE Colts makes it even sweeter. Thanks Drew!

Trade number two. The Great Sports Name Hall of Fame. In return for some football cards as well Tim loaded a 100 count box full of O's including an addition to my player collection.

Sugar Bear! The personal collection now sits at a whopping 4 Rayford cards. There were also a bunch of 1990's era Orioles that I didn't have. It's always nice to see cards that aren't in the collection. Thank you Tim and the 1992 cards I mentioned are on there way to you.


On Wednesday the Tampa Bay Lightning sent two of their players to the local Champs at International Mall in Tampa. Since I had nothing better to do that day I went there about an hour early and ended up as the 50th person in line. In total about 250 people showed up, which given the normal apathy surrounding hockey and the Bolts dismal performance over the last three weeks, ended up being a decent turnout.

It helped that the closest thing to a hockey icon in town, Vincent Lecavalier, was one of the signers. As a devoted fan of "Enzo" I decided to have him sign my jersey (which will become the centerpiece of my Lightning memorabilia collection once I can afford to have it framed) and a couple of cards.

He was signing with fellow French Canadian Alex Tanguay. When I dropped the the cards on the table to have them signed Vinny made a joke about the Canadians card Tanguay signed. Alas, it was in French and since I'm a monolingual American I had no idea what he said. They were both polite and genuinely glad to meet the fans.

There ya go. Hoped you enjoyed the final post. Come and check things out at The Hopeful Chase, regular posts should be starting in the next day or so!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The O's Make a Trade.

It's been announced that the O's have acquired former Devil Ray/Astro/Red Sox/Dodger/ Cardinal infielder Julio Lugo for the always popular player to be named later. Chances are that player will be named Cash. To make room for Lugo, Michael Aubrey was designated for assignment.

I wish this was an April Fools joke; not because I think Lugo is washed up (he hit .280 with St Louis and Boston last season), but because this means Brian Roberts isn't as healthy as we're being told.

Roberts has struggled with a herniated disk in his lower back all spring and just returned to the everyday lineup. For the O's to pull in an experienced middle infielder this late in Spring Training means that they are worried that Roberts may miss significant time.

If they weren't concerned then they wouldn't have made the deal and stuck it out with Robert Andino and Ty Wigginton as their utility infielders. I don't see them carrying three spare infielders all season long so I'm guessing the light hitting Andino, who is out of minor league options, is the odd man out.

Lugo wanted out of St Louis when it was apparent he wasn't going to be a starter for the Cardinals. Could Lugo eventually beat out Cesar Izturis for the starting shortstop position? It's possible, but unlikely. The O's like Izturis' defense and feel that they have enough power in the lineup to make up for his below average offensive output.

Roberts has played in the last three games for the O's and is slowly playing his way into game shape. He states that he feels fine, but back problems, like hamstrings and sprained ankles, have a tendency to linger throughout the season. It could also affect the way Roberts plays the game. Will he be wanting to dive after ground balls or slide headfirst into second if it might cause the injury to flare up?

The longest tenured Oriole is a key part of the O's lineup. He is a steady leadoff hitter that sets the tempo for the power guys behind him. Buster Olney from ESPN points out that the O's open the season with 28 of 35 games against teams that had a winning record last season. Sixteen of their games in April are against American League East teams. If they aren't firing at all cylinders to start the season they could find themselves 10 games back by the time May 1st comes around.

Despite all of that doom and gloom there is some good news: The O's won't be spending a lot of money on Lugo. The Red Sox are paying all but $400,000 of Lugo's $8.6 million salary.

So they got that going for them.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Through The Mail Success - Mike McKenna

For the last couple of weeks I've been kicking around the idea of jumpstarting my through the mail efforts. You may have noticed that along the sidebar I've added a request's over there on the left, nope further down, keep going, there ya go!

However, I wasn't sure how I was going to attack it. Who should I send them to? What should I say? How much is this going to end up costing me? Well I think I've stumbled across a half-baked plan. Why not get an autograph of everyone who has donned a Tampa Bay Lightning uniform? Several folks are doing the same thing with various teams, but as of right now no one has targeted the Lightning.

I also have a bit of a headstart thanks to college. My friend and roommate was a big hockey fan and we thought nothing of skipping a morning class to head down to the Ice Palace and catch the players before the morning skate. We didn't have much competition in those days, maybe 5 other people standing around with the same idea.

Almost every player and coach was more than willing to sign, except for a certain "Great One", but that's a whole different story for another day. So I amassed a nice collection of signatures from the then current Lightning and a surprising number of future Lightning players.

With this in mind I sent out my first Lightning targeted request last week. I sent it to former Tampa netminder Mike McKenna. McKenna is a U.S. born goalie who had a brief run (15 games, 4 wins) with the Lightning last season when the team was decimated by injuries in the net.

I was surprised to see him return the card, signed within a week. It was sitting in my mailbox Monday afternoon. I guess he doesn't get many requests.

McKenna, 27, has bounced around the minor leagues since he turned pro in 2005-06. He is currently playing for Lowell in New Jersey's farm system, but has seen time in the net at Norfolk, Portland, Omaha, Milwaukee and Las Vegas.

He was drafted by Nashville in the 6th round of the 2002 draft (11 picks ahead of Paul Ranger) and has spent the time since trying to crack an NHL roster. His stint with the Bolts remains his only NHL time.

A St. Louis native, McKenna is a man of many interests. He graduated from St Lawerence University with a degree in economics and is a fan of Scandanavian Thrash Metal. He is also an occaisonal "Tweeter" who can be found tweeting about life in the minors at

He signed his name and added his Tampa Bay jersey number (30) in black Sharpie across the 2009-10 UD Victory Rookie card I sent. It was my fault that I didn't prep the glossy card before sending it to him so the signature is a little spotty.

Thank you for signing and returning the card Mike. Here's hoping next season finds you between the pipes in an NHL areana!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Champ is here! The champ is here! The Wasteland Breaks a Box of Cards *Now with Sexy Update!

I haven’t broken box on this site for quite some time. Finances are a major reason for that. After all, it’s hard to justify dropping $75-$100 on a box of cards when there are bills to pay and no money coming in. However, thanks to some shrewd dealing on eBay and people willing to pay top dollar for gimmick cards I was able to pick up one box of 2009-10 UD Champs.

I stayed away from this product last year because of the price point. If I remember correctly my local shop had them for $4.00 a pack. In that pack you get 5 cards, two of them of the mini variety. Collecting the entire set through packs would be next to impossible.

This year I saw a box on Dave and Adams for under $70 and armed with a $5.00 coupon I copied from someone’s Beckett I made my purchase (paypal is a wonderful thing). Five days later the UPS guy dropped it off and I got to rippin’. One box, 20 packs, 5 cards (on average) per pack.

Here are the results along with the odds of pulling according to the back of the wrapper.

Base Cards:

48 cards, no doubles, one Lightning, no Vincent Lecavalier.

As usual I didn’t pull any Vinny cards. I think this makes 5 boxes in a row without a card of the Lightning captain. Regardless of that I do enjoy the base cards. There is a nice mix of the usual veterans and today’s stars.

The faded, blue background frames the action shots nicely giving the cards a portrait-like feeling. I do get a kick out of the “EST. 2008” below the photo. It reminds me of the local sub shop that has been serving the neighborhood since “2002”. I guess you have to start somewhere.

There is 100 cards in the base set and it looks like you get about ½ of that amount in one box. It’s a good start, but still tough for set builders to put this together without spending a lot of money.

Without a glossy front these cards would be perfect for sending through the mail for autographs, something that I will probably do once I move to my new location.

Colored Parallels:

Green 1:4, Red 1:10, Yellow 1:20

I received 5 green parallels, 2 reds, and 2 yellows. So in that sense I beat the odds, woo-hoo!. The colors aren’t too garish and will make a nice, and not too difficult to collect rainbow for player collectors.


Usually they come two to a pack and are not parallels of the base card. They feature a different photo and design.

Mini Rookies:

Again I hit the box average as I pulled 5 rookies with the best being Atlanta’s Evander Kane. Nice close-ups and solid gold borders make these attractive cards to collect.

Mini different color packs

Red 1:20, Blue 1:80, Green 1:160, Parkhurst 1:320

Because even the mini’s need parallel versions I guess. This is an example of where card companies have gone a little too far with a concept. Is there any need for having 4 different variations of a subset? I think not. I had one red back (which actually looks more orange than red).

Mini Subsets

1:2 Wonders of the World/ Natural History/ Historical Figures

I pulled 10 of these cards, so again I was right on the box odds. To break it down further I received 2 wonders of the word (Lighthouse of Alexandria, Aurora), 4 Natural History Collection (Gros Morne National Park, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Richardoestesia, Western Red Lilly) and 4 Historical Figures (Sir Mackenzie Bowell, James K Polk, Harry Truman, Franklin Delano Roosevelt).

Nice cards, but nothing that I would feel the need to chase.


Each box boasts 4 hits (on card autos or relics), but the back of the pack lists the odds at 1:7 which means there are probably boxes out there with only three hits. Luckily for me I did get the four hits.


Tim Kennedy

Mini Relics

Daniel Alfredsson, Dion Phaneuf, Derick Brassard

Apparently, my box fell in the “d” line of relic sorting. At least they are three different colors, if I had gotten three plain white relics I would have been a little disappointed. They do make a nice red, white and blue theme. Go America!

Final thoughts

The fact that you get four hits per box is the saving grace, anything less and this would be drastically overpriced. It will be interesting to see if the price goes up or down as time goes by. It would be nice if Upper Deck dropped one of the minis in the pack and added another base card.

I would recommend that set collectors wait till the collated sets start showing up on the secondary market, collecting pack by pack will kill your budget. Player collectors should enjoy the chase of completing the rainbow, and while the hits aren’t big budget multi swatches, at least you get the joy of seeing something every 5 packs or so.

On card autos are always appreciated and the card design features is nicely. The base cards lend themselves nicely to getting in person autos or through the mail autos. The rookies look nice, but I wonder how they’ll sell since they are mini’s and not full size cards.

All inserts are for trade, if you’re collecting the mini’s let me know which ones you need and I’ll see if I can send some your way.

Overall I rate this product a second line center. It scores well, but has room for improvement.

* Update!

So upon further review I didn't beat the odds on the yellow parallel borders. In fact, I only received one. The other yellow card was a Yellow ANIMAL ICON parallel seeded 1:80 packs.

See it has animals on it! Ain't they the cutest? So that means I did just a tad bit better on the box than I intially thought. This card is going up on eBay (hey I gots to make money!)

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Blog is Dead, Long Live the Blog!

A couple of posts ago I teased that there was big news coming down the pike. Now, while I might have exaggerated the effect it has on your day-to-day life, it will definitely change the things I’m doing (and not doing).

For the second time in a year I’m going back to work after having a period of unemployment, or as my family liked to call it “funemployment”. The big difference this time is that my new job isn’t going to be in my second bedroom/office. It is, in fact, not even in this town, or even in this state.

As of April 9th, 2010 I will leave the fun and sun of Florida for the wind and thrills of the big city. Or as they like to call it – “The City of the Big Shoulders” – Chicago.

My better half and I have talked about leaving Florida for along time. She’s lived here her entire life and I’ve spent the better part of the last decade and a half in the Sunshine State. Whenever we’ve talked about moving certain cities have always come up. Honolulu, Seattle, Portland and Chicago were what we called “type A” cities – the ones we focused on.

Thanks to the recent downturn in the economy I was given an involuntary sabbatical and used that time to figure out what I wanted to be when I got older. Alas, I didn’t find the answer that question - probably because I spent a large amount of that free time at the pool. I did eventually find a job in the industry in which I’ve been working for the past decade.

So what does this mean for you my loyal readers (hi mom and dad!)

It means that I’ll no longer be continuing this web site (I’ll give you a moment to recover). Since I’ll no longer be living in the area I won’t be able to report on the trials and tribulations of being a sports fan in a sports wasteland.

I’ll also be crashing on friends couch so that means I won’t have access to my vast collection of mostly useless pieces of cardboard. So my trading will be down. I think I’ll take a shoebox of cards with me to sell on the Bay, or to finish up some trades that I have pending.

The wantlist will be transferred to the new site, so if you see something on there that you want to get rid of, contact me and we’ll work something out. I have a healthy balance in my Paypal account (thanks “Pie in the Face” gimmicks!) so I’ll keep adding to my personal collection.

That’s right I mentioned a new website. The new website will be called The Hopeful Chase, a phrase I borrowed from an interview with Dick Perez that was posted on The Hall of Very Good (and reposted on Magic Carpet Ride Mojo and Beardy’s or whatever they call their blog).

To me the phrase pretty much sums up the way I collect cards, always chasing the perfect card, hoping it’s in the next pack I bust or envelope that’s in the mail. It also sums up the way I live life, much to the chagrin of my better half and my parents. The move to Chicago is a hopeful chase of the joy of living somewhere else. Traveling to foreign countries is a hopeful chase of seeing the world through other people’s eyes. Drinking a new beer is the hopeful chase of finding the greatest liquid refreshment in the world.

All of those things will be discussed on the new site along with whatever cards I happen to pick up and the adventures of the teams I follow. I will be diminishing my focus on the Rays, even more than I have recently. It’s almost like I’m divorcing myself from the team to contain the heartbreak of that day next winter when Carl Crawford is no longer with the team. I will continue to focus on him in my personal collection, up to the moment he puts on pinstripes or Boston gray. If he signs with any other team I’ll still get his cards, but if he goes to either one of those teams look for a sale on Crawford cards.

Besides, I was never that good with writing about the Rays, The Collective Troll always did it better – and more often. Check out his contest while you're at it. Even the ever reclusive Dave over at Fielders Choicehas written more about the Rays in the last few months.

It will be a big change, the hardest part being apart from my better half for the next year or so. So, hopefully, the blog will be therapeutic as well as informational.

I’ll probably post a few more times here before moving over to the new site next month. So feel free to update your sites and all that jazz. Thank you to all of those who have added this site to their weblogs and have read my often rambling, unedited, pointless posts.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hope is a Waking Dream

As the season winds to a close the sense of dissillusionment and meloncoly percolates among Lightning fans. Just a month ago the playoffs were a distinct possibility and excitment was building in the cool Tampa air.

Fast forward to the present day where the losses are piling up on a nightly basis and the faintest of hopes are fading into the night. I'll save a few review of the season for a future columnm, for now I'll just post some reminders of why there is a reason to have hope.

1.Steven Stamkos from the left circle.

2. Victor Hedman skating effortlessly through the neutral zone with puck

3. Vincent Lecavalier injury free and contract-worry free

4. An owner with cash, not like these two.

5. It’s not 1998-99. I give you these notable names from the roster a decade ago:
Colin Forbes, Sergey Gusev, David Wilkie, Mike McBain, Steve Kelly, Drew Bannister, Karel Betik, Corey Spring, Xavier Delisle, Mario Larocque, Jason Bonsignore and Zac Bierk.


Dustin Tokarski in the net.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Beauty of Florida Afternoons in the Spring

It’s time to dust off the keyboard and get back on track. After a two week break I feel like posting again. With the weather finally warming in the TBA, thoughts are turning away from the ice rinks and towards the ball fields. The recent, dismal play of the Lightning also leads ones attention to the hope eternal that Spring Training provides.

In that vein I took a little trip to Sarasota last week. Being unemployed does tend to give one time to take little excursions like this. So into the Mini Cooper I hopped and drove across the Big Bridge. Guided by Mapquest (and delayed momentarily by my inability to discern left from right) I found myself at the new home of the Baltimore Orioles – Ed Smith Stadium.

I joined as assorted band of retirees, vacationers, young kids and work-dodgers for a 1.05pm tilt between the O’s and the Rays. Despite it being an official home game for the Baltimore nine, the crowd was decidedly pulling for the boys in blue.

The O’s fielded a team of minor leaguers and on the bubble veterans while the Rays went with what should evolve into their starting nine. Young Chris Tillman took the mound against Jeff Neimann in a battle of future aces for the two second tier American League East clubs.

I lasted until the 6th inning, having to leave early to beat traffic at the home front. However, I did stay long enough to snap a few pictures.

Hey Tom Foley – How goes it?

The Once and Future Shortstop?

Jim Palmer, the Hall of Fame PITCHER, discusses the finer parts of HITTING with Papa Joe Maddon and Dave Martinez.

"Cakes" still has it. Actually, I think he bounced this one in.

Evan Longoria awaits a pitch. He would rip the next one into the gap for a run scoring double.

Cla Merideth delivers one from the side.

Longo had a good day in the field as well, making a nice play on an attempted bunt by rookie (and recently demoted) outfielder Matt Angle.

BJ Upton dives back into the bag on an attempted pick off.

The Orioles were unsuccessful in their quest for victory. I, however, was successful in my quest to enjoy the weather and a little bit of baseball.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Blog Note

You may have noticed that it's been almost two weeks since I posted. Or you may not have noticed. There is no real reason why, just pure and unabashed laziness on part of the proprietor of this blog.

I will have something up tomorrow (hopefully a mention of the Lightning defeating the hated Capitals). Then later in the week I will have a post that could affect the very way you LIVE YOUR LIFE!

Monday, March 8, 2010

It is Just Another Mailday Monday

It’s Monday so it must be time to post some mail. Lot’s of yellow packages showed up last week so despite not having a job and crappy weather which played havoc with my allergies it was still a good week.

We start off with a couple of purchases.

Vincent Lecavalier Ice Medallion. It’s such a nice shade of blue, and it’s serial numbered. I’m a sucker for cards with stamped numbers on them.

Vincent Lecavalier OPC Blue Parallel. Again blue and serial numbered.

Carl Crawford Topps Co-Signer. It’s serial numbered, but not as blue. It is, however, quite shiny. So very shiny.

Now onto some trades

Cards on Cards was so good to remind me of those great days when Sammy Sosa donned the orange and white. Today the word “great” means horrible. Yes that is a fancy Joel Skinner 1990 Donruss. Thanks to CoC and Captain Canuck my long, national nightmare is over. I have completed the set. Team collectors live in fear, ‘cause I still have a bunch of doubles to send to you!

Condition Poor sent a ton of cards, due to laziness I’m only posting three. Two new Crawfords for the collection and a 1991 Fleer Ultra Leo Gomez. Leo was almost the selection for my new player collection. Back in my younger and much more athletic days I wore number 10 and sported glasses on the field for a few weeks before I got contacts. That happened to coincide with Leo’s brief run as the O’s third-baseman so my teammates dubbed me Leo.

Thanks for the cards guys. Thank you to Capt. Canuck over at Waxaholic as well. He sent over some Donruss and Upper Deck Hockey that I integrated into my sets before I could scan them.

No game used merchandise this week, but that’s ok. I added to my player collections, knocked off one set and almost knocked out two others.

I’m heading down to Sarasota tomorrow for some Rays vs. O’s action (weather permitting). Hopefully, I’ll have some photos posted in the next day or so.

A Glimmer of Playoff Hope in Tampa

For at least one night there was a heart beat. For at least one night they looked like a playoff team. The five game losing streak was forgotten as was the five game streak of surrendering five or more goals. The embattled captain scored a goal and the emerging superstar scored two. The fans cheered and even broke into a spontaneous “DOWN-IE! DOWN-IE!” chant after the Lightning’s Little Ball of Fury decimated a Thrashers defensemen.


I wrote off the Lightning’s playoff hopes before the Olympic break and their lackluster play over the last five games drove my points home. Yet I was surprised to look at the standings on Saturday night to see that they were only three points out of a playoff spot. Sure, half of the Eastern Conference was between them and that last treasured spot in the postseason dance, but there was a glimmer of hope.

New owner, Jeff Vinik, was on hand to see his team (and his team alone) live up to the new marketing slogan that was instituted over the past week. BRING IT BACK. The “it” referred to is the Stanley Cup although it’s never mentioned in the video ads. The ads in stead stress the passion that swept through the TBA for 3 months in 2004 when the Lightning went on their improbably triumphant Stanley Cup run.

The crowd was announced as a sellout and while it wasn’t necessarily an intelligent hockey crowd (prompting this writer to begin crafting his Lightning Fan Manifesto) it was at least boisterous. They were witness to one of the most inspired efforts put forth by the club in the last three seasons.

Despite surrendering the fist goal, the crowd was ignited by Marty St Louis’ wonderful effort on the first goal. Vincent Lecavalier, survivor of another trade deadline, scored for the second game in the row and showed glimpses of his former glory by muscling to the front of the net several times. Steven Stamkos (a.k.a. Spicolli) scored his patented power play goal on a one-timer from the circle.

Section 323 also had a delightful 10 minute span that saw Steve Downie’s hit, a Matt Walker fight, and one of the greatest drunken fan performances in the history of sports. As time was ticking away and I was talking with some fans behind me a sudden motion caught my eye. I spun around to see a woman in a Lightning jersey making her way down towards the exit aisle.

Rather then use the stairs like a normal person she decided to fall down the steps. By the time I saw the commotion she had already completed one full flip and was on her way to another full flip and crash into the rail that separated her from the concrete floor. She landed headfirst in an empty seat between two shocked couples.

As the stunned crowd watched, she stood up, fixed her beer-doused, stringy blond hair and then stared back at us before turning around and bolting through the entryway out of the section. If she had stayed longer I’m sure we would have given her a standing ovation because there is no way a human being should have survived her tumble from Row M to Row A.

Drunk Fans + Steep Stairs = Good times

Now back to the Lightning. If they can continue the play that they showed on Saturday night then I might have to rethink my prediction of them missing the playoffs. Their biggest problem this season has been inconsistency. Several times they’ve followed well played games with listless performances. At this point in the season they can’t afford to do that. But for at least one night the passion, the euphoria was back.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Another Player For the Collection

Quick question. Who did Cal Ripken replace in the lineup before he embarked on his record setting consecutive games played streak? Give up? How about this question? Who did the Orioles trade to Saint Louis for the immortal (at least to O’s fans) Tito Landrum in 1983? The answer to both those questions is the same person. He’s also the focus of my new player collection.

If you are an O’s fan over the age of 30 you’ll remember Floyd Rayford. You probably don’t remember him for his on the field accomplishments (although he did hit 18 home runs in 1985), or his athletic build (he was generously listed at 5’10 and 190 lbs during his playing days), most likely you do remember his nickname – “Sugar Bear!”

Does this

have a resemblence to this?

Or was the nickname “Honey Bear”? There seems to be some discrepancy that is only partially cleared up by the man himself. In an interview with The Evening Sun’s Travis Lau, Rayford cops to the Sugar Bear nickname, but does acknowledge that for one year, 1979, he was known as Honey Bear. A reason for the change isn’t given, but has provided confusion amongst fans for years.

As a young fan in the Baltimore area I remember him as Sugar Bear, and as a good natured role player who’s less than athletic body proved you didn’t have to be in shape to be a professional athlete. Rayford’s career was closing as the dawn of the steroid era approached. While he didn’t possess the sculpted body fans expect of today’s athlete he did play hard and could field several positions.

During his 7 year major league career he played four different infield positions, logging most of his time, 237 games, at third base. He enjoyed catching more, saying that he was “too busy back there to be nervous…There’s no time to get butterflies when you’re catching”.

His willingness to play anywhere and his hard work endeared him to the blue collar fans of Baltimore. The mid-to-late ‘80’s were a time of decline for the O’s. He missed their last pennant winning season of 1983, the aforementioned trade for playoff hero Landrum sent Rayford to Saint Louis for a season, and would play for a franchise that hovered around .500 for the next few years.

His last game in the majors was on September 16th, 1987 (my 11th birthday!). In that game he would collect his 255th and final hit as he went 1-3 in a 7-0 loss to Jimmy Key and the Toronto Blue Jays. Rayford would play a few more seasons with Scranton Wilkes Barre before retiring in 1991.

Now 52 he is the hitting coach for the Rochester Red Wings, a team that he played for in parts of 7 different seasons while he was with the O’s.

Why did I decide to collect Sugar Bear? Well he was one of the first professional players that I got an autograph from. As a rather shy kid I didn’t collect many autographs during my childhood as I couldn’t muster up the courage to ask these idols of mine for their signature. I remember having a signed program from ’85 or ’86 that I wanted to scan for this post, but after searching in vain this afternoon I fear I’ve lost it.

Another reason I want to collect him, is well, it shouldn’t be overly difficult. As a role player in the late ‘80’s there weren’t too many different cards of him produced. According to the Card Collector program there was only about 36 different Rayford cards produced.

The most difficult ones to obtain will be the Tiffany versions of his Topps base cards, but since he is listed as a common, they shouldn’t be obscenely expensive. Currently, I only have one card in hand (1988 Topps base), and I’ve completed a Topps Million card trade for another. I swapped a 1993 Mark Gardner for a 1985 Rayford. I have three more trades pending for his other Topps base cards that I hope pay off within a week.

I’ve included his complete card roster in my “Wanted” section, so if you have some mid-80’s commons laying around give a quick look for Sugar Bear and I’ll send ya something nice in return.

Image is property of the Baltimore Sun

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Deadline Preview

Congratulations to Team Canada. Though the U.S. had a better goaltender in both match-ups, the Canadians were the better team in both games. That being said, what a final game! Great saves, great goals, last second heroics and a game winner from someone who could have been the goat if the US would have won.

While the entire nation of Canada drinks itself into a Molson-fueled slumber I figure it’s to get back into NHL-mode, and that means trading deadline talk! The Bolts have three days (till 3:00pm Wednesday) to find the final pieces to solve the playoff race puzzle.

So what are the pieces that the Lightning need? Like everyone else fighting for a spot they would like a puck moving defenseman. They would also like a top six forward that jells on Vincent’s line. The Lightning do have a problem with acquiring either resource. And it’s not money.

Simply put Tampa Bay doesn’t have much in the cupboard when it comes to offering prospects. Outside of goaltending there isn’t much that they can offer a rebuilding organization when it comes to A+ prospects. Carter Ashton and Dana Tyrell are probably the two best offensive prospects and I wouldn’t consider them NHL-ready at this point.

Possible dance partners for the next couple of days could be Edmonton, Florida and Columbus. Toronto is looking to continue their overhaul, but the big name, Tomas Kaberle, is going to be pursued by a lot of teams that have a better chance of competing for the Stanley Cup, and have more to offer the Leafs. He also holds the keys to any deal by having a no trade clause and I doubt he would choose the Lightning as his best shot at winning a cup.

Carolina has been pegged as another team that should be busy over the next week, but do the Bolts have a use for an aging Ray Whitney? Although another go-round with Jussi Jokinen would be intriguing. Joni Pitkanen is currently a -14, but he also has 15 power play assists. Could the Bolts put a package together that would be enticing enough for the Hurricanes to deal within the division?

Before the madness begins, lets check out a couple of factors with the Lightning.

Who is untouchable? If a GM calls about Steven Stamkos or Victor Hedman then Brian Lawton should hang up the phone. If teams call about any other name on the roster he should at least listen to what they have to say.

Who would they like to move? Without a doubt they are listening to any and all offers on Andrej Meszaros. Draft picks, fringe prospects, bags of pucks, extra hamburgers, cases of beer – anything should be on the table. He hasn’t lived up to his contract and it would probably be best for him to move on.

Who do other teams want the most? You think Vincent would be high on this list, but the successful teams won’t want to handicap themselves with his contract. I vote Marty St Louis as the number one player on the board. He’s a proven scorer who seems to integrate himself on any line and he’s affordable (one more year at $4 million, $5.25 cap hit).

What are the odds that the Lightning pull of a major deal? I would say 1-in-10. I don’t see the factors aligning right now for them to put together a blockbuster deal. They will be more active in the off-season.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Topps Million Car......NOOO It's Infected The Wasteland, Too!!!

I haven't posted about the Million Card Giveaway yet, but since it's a requirement for every card blog in the Blogalaxy to post at about it at least once I figure I'll detail my first Topps virtual trade.

The first two cards I unlocked weren't too exciting, a 1987 Tom Seaver and a 1993 Mark Gardner, but my next code unlocked a little retro action. A 1975 Jose Cardenal resplendent in 70's colors and afro-haired greatness.

I no longer own that card because I turned this:

into this:

A 1962 Tom Morgan.

I'm not a huge Tom Morgan fan. I did not know that he played for the New York Yankees, Kansas City Athletics, Detroit Tigers, Washington Senators, and Los Angeles Angels. Nor did I know his nickname was "Plowboy". What I do know is that when I finally redeem this card it will be the third oldest in my collection and for me that was reason enough to pick it up.

Now if only someone will trade me a 1983 Floyd Rayford for the 1987 Tom Seaver!

Oh and by the way - U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A! One-two-three-four - IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Trade Bait!!!!! Topps 2009 Series II

Who wants cards that they don't have already? Anyone? Anyone? Is this thing on?

So a couple of weeks ago my local card shop had a good deal on a 2009 Series II Jumbo Box. I'm a sucker for discounted boxes so I picked it up. It definately wasn't a hot box, but I was able to sell a couple of cards to offset a bit of the cost (ebay is your friend!).

Anyway, enough rambling. Take a gander at the cards below and let me know if you want any. Email me or leave a comment.

The cards are (from the top going left to right)

Fred Lewis Career Best Auto
Octavio Dotel Career Best Jersey
Derek Jeter Team USA World Baseball Classic
Jorge De La Rosa Black Border #'d 20/58
Derek Jeter Turkey Red
Derek Jeter Gold Border #'d 644 / 2009

Lots of Jeter'y goodness!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Carl Crawford is on the Wantlist

So for some reason, perhaps it was the euphoria brought on by a nice helping of waffles, I’ve decided to collect the whole Carl Crawford spectrum from the 2008 Allen & Ginter set. Thanks to some generous traders I’ve already knocked out the relics, but still need most of the other parallels. So if you have them collecting dust in your collection and Carl Crawford Cards or The TROLL (those prolific trading bast*rds!) haven’t gotten their meat hooks into yet then shoot me an email!

Here’s what I still need:

Carl Crawford – Autograph
Carl Crawford – Red Ink Autograph
Carl Crawford – Dick Perez Sketch
Carl Crawford – Mini
Carl Crawford – Mini A&G Back
Carl Crawford – Mini Bazooka
Carl Crawford – Mini Black Border
Carl Crawford – Mini Framed Cloth
Carl Crawford – Mini No Number
Carl Crawford – Mini Wood

Monday, February 22, 2010

What You (may have) Saw Last Night Was No Miracle

Why is there a need to make something better then it actually is? By comparing a nice upset to a truly unbelievable upset doesn’t it diminish the original accomplishment? If you haven’t guess by now I’m referring to the U.S victory over Canada in hockey on Sunday night.

It was undoubtedly an upset that few saw coming. Most of the pre-Olympic prognosticators were assured that it would be a Russia vs. Canada battle for the gold medal while the U.S. would be lucky to finish in fourth or fifth place.

Hopefully by now I’m sure you’ve seen the results, even if you didn’t see the game. According to the numbers about 8.2 million people were able to find the game on MSNBC which was almost a record night for the news network. If you’re complaining about not being able to see the game you’re about two weeks behind the rest of the country.

The Olympic television schedule has been in place since before the torch was lit so it shouldn’t have surprised anyone who was paying attention. Now you can argue that NBC should have broadcast it on the parent network instead of ice dancing, but that’s an argument for a different time.

Let’s focus on this so called Miracle On Ice II. First off, stop calling it that. Every single player on the U.S. squad last night is in the National Hockey League. These are not unknown, untested college kids. They may be young, but they are all seasoned (and rich!) professionals.

The team that skated for the United States in 1980 had no business beating the Russians. If they play that game 10 times there is an excellent chance that the Soviets win 9 times. There’s an even better chance that they blow the Americans out of the arena (remember the pre-tournament 10-3 drubbing just a few weeks before the tournament?)

Not only is the current American team not as much of an underdog as it’s miraculous counterpart, the Canadians aren’t the dominant team that the Soviets were. In the four Olympics prior to 1980 the Soviets were 27-1-1 and had outscored their opponents 175-44. Contrast that to a Canadian team that struggled to beat a weak Swiss team. They are not even the defending Gold Medal team, that honor belongs to Sweden.

Perhaps we should refer to it as the “Reasonably Unexpected Upset on Ice”. Time seems to have diminished the luster of the 1980 team’s victory. With the emergence of true professionals playing for their respective countries (as opposed to the Soviets pseudo-amateurs of the 70’s and 80’s) no team is as much of an underdog as the US was. The only comparison I could think of that would be equivalent in today’s sports world would be if Saint Leo’s men’s soccer team beat the Brazilian national team

There is one way the win for the Americans is similar to the Miracle on Ice team victory. There is a lot of hoopla around a game that hasn’t produced the desired end result – a gold medal. Herb Brooks, coach of that upstart 1980 team, was quoted as saying, “If you don’t win this game you’ll take it to your f*&king grave,” in regards to the post-Russian victory game against Norway.

In much the same vain, if the U.S. flames out in the medal round this win will in the end mean almost nothing. The rest of the way will not be a cake walk. Russia, Sweden, Finland and a possible rematch with the Canadians all loom in the not too distant future.

It will be interesting to see if this team will go from upstart underdog to disappointing failure if they lose in the quarterfinals or medal rounds. The American public is fickle at best and downright cruel at its worst. A gold medal win for the U.S. could be a major boon to the NHL, especially for teams that are fighting for a playoff spot.

So let’s just bask in the win for now. There’s no need to compare it to the past, nor is there a need to set this team up for a future failure.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Veracity of Sports Related Entertainment

A new feature! From time to time The Wasteland will delve into songs, movies, books that deal with sports related events to see how truthful they remain to the actual story.

We start with Todd Snider’s song – “America’s Favorite Pastime”. Snider retells the story of Dock Ellis and his infamous 1970 no-hitter. One of the fabled events in the history of baseball (though not included in Topps’ “Tales of the Game insert” set) Ellis claimed that he was on LSD when he shut down the Padres on June, 12 1970.

If you’re not familiar with Todd Snider he’s an alternative rock, folk, country singer with a Dylan-esque vibe and a mixture of song/spoken word lyrics that often border on the whimsical, “if we don’t laugh we might cry” kind of way.

Let’s take a look at the lyrics and compare them to what factual information we can find on the internet to see how truthful Snider remained to the story.

America’s Favorite Pastime by Todd Snider

dock ellis didn't think he would pitch that day
back in 1970
when he and his wife took a trip to the ballpark
a little bit differently
so by the time he hit the bullpen
half the world had melted away
that's about the time coach murtaugh said
hey dock you’re pitching today

Truth: Dock Ellis had been in LA to visit his girlfriend (not wife) and his childhood friend Al Rambo. Due to a copious amount of alcohol and stimulants Ellis lost track of time and thinking it was Thursday, the day before he was scheduled to pitch, he took a hit of Purple Haze acid around noon.

His girlfriend Mitzi was perusing the paper and realized that the game announcement had Ellis listed as the starting pitcher. It was then that the right-hander realized it was Friday and was indeed scheduled to start.

Hopped up amphetamines and Benzedrine he took to the mound with the ball feeling like a “very heavy volleyball”. Coach Murtaugh was in fact the manager of the easy going Pirates. Danny Murtaugh worked for the Pirates for 29 years as a player and manager.

taking the ground the mound turned into
the icing on a birthday cake
the lead off man came up and turned into
a dancing rattle snake
the crowd tracked back and forth
in waves of color under the sun
the ball turned into a silver bullet
his arm into a gun

Truth: There’s no reports of the batters turning into bizarre creatures or birthday cake pitching mounds. Ellis himself has stated that there were times when he didn’t even see the batters in the box, he just knew if they were right handed or left handed. He describes his feelings as “euphoric” and mentions that the ball appeared to change sizes throughout the game.

(Chorus) i took a look all around the world one time
finally discovered
you cant judge a book

three up three down for three straight innings
in a zero zero tie
as all those batters names came ringing
from some voice out of the sky
hallucinating halloween scenes
each new swing of the bat
his sinker looked like it was falling off a table
but nobody was hallucinating that

Truth: Thee up, three down usually means in order and it looks like that’s not quite the case. In the first Ellis walked two, retired the side in order in the second and walked one in the third. The Pirates actually led the game 1-0 after three innings thanks to a Willie Stargell home run in the second inning.

Ellis spoke of the names being announced sounding like the “voice of God”.


by the top of the fifth he was up one to nothing
and giving the padres fits
by the top of the seventh he was up two to nothing
and they still hadn’t got any hits
with one out left to go in the game
the batter looked like a little child
the birthday caking was shaking
and those waves of color were going wild

Truth: Snider nails the scores. In addition to Stargell’s home run in the second he added another one in the top of the seventh. Overshadowed by the no hitter was the fact that Padres starter Dave Roberts had a pretty decent game himself. He scattered 5 hits over 7 innings and ending up with fewer baserunners allowed than Ellis, who walked 8 and hit a batter.

when he finally mowed the last man down
he was high as he had ever been
laughing to the sound of the world going around
completely unaware of the win
and while the papers would say he was scattered that day
he was pretty as a pitcher could be
the day dock ellis of the Pittsburgh pirates
threw a no hitter on lsd

Truth: Ellis did indeed strike out pinch hitter Ed Spiezio to end the game and secure the no hitter. While he might not have been 100% sure that he had won the game, he did know that he had thrown a no hitter. Rookie Dave Cash broke superstition by constantly reminding Ellis that he had a “no-no” going. According to a 2005 interview with the Dallas Observer Ellis remembers getting the last out and saying, “a f—king no hitter”!


So Snider stays pretty close to the truth in his song. The imagery might be gleaned from the songwriter’s own drug experience, but probably comes close to what Ellis experienced on the mound.

Dock Ellis is remembered as the guy who throw a no hitter on LSD, but it should’t be forgotten that he was a good pitcher for the Pirates in the 1970’s. As intimidating as Bob Gibson, as outspoken as Ali, Dock Ellis is the type of athlete that is disappearing from sports these days.

Take a look at his record:

1. No Hitter on LSD
2. Beaned Reggie Jackson in the face in retaliation for Jackson “showing him up” in the 1971 All Star game.
3. Beaned Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Dan Driessen in a row, threw two pitches behind Tony Perez before walking him, then threw a pitch behind Johnny Bench before being yanked from the game by his coach.
4. Was maced by a security guard in Cincinnati

Imagine the faux-outrage from the talking heads on TV if a player pulled those antics in this day in age? Of course, I would probably pay James Shields $75.00 to hit Kevin Youklis in the face with the first pitch of the season, but Shields would probably be suspended for six weeks and people would be calling for him to be banned from the game.

Kudos to Snider for memorializing Dock Ellis in song and being fairly accurate in doing so.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spring Training Means Predictions! With a Special Guest!

The sound of baseballs snapping into leather mitts has replaced the puck pinging off of crossbars in the Tampa Bay Area. Therefore, let us take a little vacation from the hockey posts and welcome in some baseball related information. Spring training officially starts this week and a lot of the players have already trickled into their respective camps.

So to honor the opening of a new season lets start off with our very first preseason prognostication post. This one is compliments of an old friend – Work Mike. Since I no longer work with him, and since he has a perchance for making predictions he will now be known as Stone Cold Lock Mike (or SCL Mike if I’m feeling lazy).

He emailed me a couple of predictions for the upcoming year and gave me permission to share them (his quote “the stone cold lock should be shared with all”). He does reserve the right to change his mind after the first week of the season.

Here we go:

1. Rays win 96 games this year and take the East
2. Yankees surprisingly win 86-92 games.
3. Red sox win only 85-90 games, and have 3+ starting pitchers go down.
4. Blue Jays go 10 under .500.
5. Your Orioles get off to a hot start, and sustain it for a win total of 85 games. This throws the whole east out of wack and leads to the Mariners and Angels making the playoffs out of the west. Yankees and Red Sox call for a balanced schedule until further notice.

AL rookie of the year will be the one and only Michael Taylor of the Oakland A's. .286 21hr 87rbi, and a whole lotta fist bumps with lock ins!!!

He also threw in some Rays-specific predictions:

1. CC will hit .290 and get his 20/20 club membership after all these years.

2. Mr. Upton will earn his $3 Mil with a .310 25hr year, also note that he has replaced his shoulder injury with a rather large chip.


So there you are – The Stone Cold Lock Mike’s predictions of the year. I can’t argue with most of them, I like that he gives a shout-out to Tampa Wasteland Hall of Famer Michael Taylor.

He is also available for predictions for the other divisions upon request. How do you think he did?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ugghhh Radio in Tampa Bay

So I'm working on another post right now while listening to local sports talk radio. The "Big Dog" is talking hockey, which is painful to begin with. .
Not only is he stumbling through his opinions (Vinny isn't playing hard enough, Tanguay is a bum, Brad Richards should be on Team Canada), now he's spewing false information.

Lord knows I'm no fan of Andrej Meszaros, but if you're going to talk about trade rumors at least get them right
The Lightning are not looking for Patrick Kane in a trade for Meszaros. The name brought up (by TSN's Darren Dreger, not the Lightning) was Patrick SHARP.

Good lord at least get your facts straight Mr. Duemig.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Not Much Going On Today

Kind of a slow day in the TBA. Nothing much percolating out their in rumor-ville except for a Andrej Meszaros to Chicago deal that popped up on a Darren Dreger TSN chat a few days ago.

I'd be sad if he's traded this soon simply because he's become the new fall guy for the Lightning's woes (when they have woes again, that is).

So I'll leave you with this photo of Mike Smith's new mask, compliments of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Arrrggggghhhhhhh!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Things That Don't Make Florida Look Good

So I have a Wednesday night Softball league. It's not very competitive, after all when has anything in a "D" League been competitive? It's fun and it gives me a chance to see some of the guys from the No Limits Fun Factory.

Tonight's game was cancelled. Why you ask? Well the other team thought it was too cold. Granted 45 degrees isn't the best weather to play softball in, but when half of the northeast is digging itself out from under 2 feet of snow, then 45 degrees is a day at the beach.

Floridians - this is why the rest of America makes fun of you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Doldrums of the Winter Deserve Some Laughter

So I submit to you the works of "The Garfoose". If you haven't found this on your own yet, I highly recommend you browsing around his website and following his twitter.

Dirk Hayhurst may not have won a game in the major leagues yet (career record 0-2), but he does have quite the devoted following due to his writing and his wit. Only a reliever could adequately explain the origins of baseballs and what they have to do with legendary half-giraffe, half-moose creatures.

His book, The Bullpen Gospels, is due out next month. If it's anything like his other writing it should be immensely enjoyable.

Follow his Twitter for updates on his recent surgery (performed by Dr. Claw) to remove ninjas from his damaged arm.

His website has details and drawing of the legendary Garfoose. Enjoy the whimsy.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mailbag Monday!

So it’s that time of year, the Super Bowl confetti has been swept up, Drew Brees is going to DisneyLand and the northeast is digging itself out from underneath another snowstorm. College basketball is slumming through its regular season, weeks away from the madness of the tournament. Baseball, and the hope that comes with spring training, is close, but not close enough. So what are sports fans supposed to do?

Well, for me I can write a column about the cards I managed to acquire over the weekend. In addition to breaking my collecting vows of 2010 and purchasing a box of 2009 Topps series II along with some random 2010 packs, I did get some stuff in the mail over the last week. So here’s another edition of Mailbox Mondays

The Ebay Winnings:

Not one, but two Carl Crawford bat cards. A 2008 Allen & Ginter Bat Relic along with a 2009 Topps 206 Bat Relic both arrived this week. I wonder if they were from the same bat? Between the two I think I like the 206 is a little better, something about the blue border makes it stand out.

The Lightning Game:

Saturday night was free Upper Deck card night at the Forum. So I picked up the six card pack and spent $4.00 on a pack of OPC so that I could get the “exclusive” seventh card. The cards are basically the same as their Upper Deck base counterparts with a different numbering system. “TB-1, TB-2, etc) replaced the normal numbering.

When Ben Lovejoy is the highlight of the pack you know there was nothing special in the OPC pack.

Trade with The Real DFG

In exchange for some extra OPC cards I had laying around the Dog Face Gremlin put together a care pack of Lightning cards and some needs from my want list. He did well. A Vincent rookie card that I didn’t have and a Sean Burke Game Jersey card. This is only my second Lightning relic card and while Burke might not have had the most illustrious career with the Bolts it’s always cool to get a jersey card.

Thanks for the trade!