Let There Be Baseball!

Last night I was sick of not seeing the Sox (after only two days), and I bought a months subscription to MLB.TV. The first game that they have on the site was Wednesday’s game between the White Sox and the Rockies. Things started off good as John Danks struck out the first batter he faced. Tulowitzki came up next and hit a home run.The next three batters got on base thanks to three errors. Things got ugly after that, but it was only the first spring game of the year. Dewon Day did not look that great, but yet again it was his first action of the spring. The Sox Lost the first game of the spring 7-3, but turned around and won yesterday against the same Rockies team 12-3. Like I said before. There is not a whole lot that you can take from these games right now except the joy of watching baseball being played in warm weather when you are surrounded by snow.

Carlton Fisk Countdown: #60

Today I had trouble making up my mind. I had both of these cards in here at one time or another and kept putting one in and taking the other out. I finally just decided to put both of them in the countdown. Until a week ago I did not have either of these cards in my collection. I had never even seen the Squirt card before I ordered it. It is from 1982. I have no idea how you would have gotten the card, but I assume it was in packs of Squirt (yes I am that smart). The other card is a 1982 Kellogg’s 3-D card. Both of these cards mean a lot to me because I have seen very few of them around here. It took some looking on the internet to find them.
I also like the cards because they give a pretty good view of the pajama uniforms that the White Sox wore at the beginning of the 80′s. They were called the pajama uniforms because they did not tuck into the pants as most uniforms do. They also had a nifty collar that was reflective of the style of the day. Bill Veeck (as in wreck) of course is the man responsible for these uniforms. I really was not old enough to appreciate these uniforms at the time, but looking back I really like them. I am not saying I want the current team to wear them, but I do like the color scheme. If it is possible these uniforms were retro and current at the same time. I would wear one of these uniforms if they would put a normal collar on it. I really like the look. If you look at early pictures of me as a child I have the same style hat on that Fisk does in the Kellogg’s card. Maybe that is part of my fascination with this uniform.

Check Me If I’m Wrong Sandy…

…but the Boilers are in first place again. Come on I had to use a Caddyshack reference when we play the Gophers. Last night in Mackey we put away a very pesky varmint 65-53. Minnesota played us very close all game. The amazing thing about the game was how close they stayed with us despite the turnovers. I think they had eight turnovers in the first eight minutes of the game. That allowed us to build a ten point lead, but they scored fifteen of the next seventeen when we went cold. That translated to a lead of 26-23 towards the end of the first half. That is when the Keaton Grant show began. he didn’t start because he had the flu, and his playing time was limited last night. He did make the most of that time though. With Purdue down 26-23 he hit a wide open three from the corner to tie the game up. Then he hit a 40 foot shot at the halftime buzzer to give Purdue a three point lead. The Boilers took control in the second half cruising to the win. E’Twaun Moore had another stellar game for Purdue last night. He scored 22 points, and looked like he could score at will. This team is something else. The Big Ten title is still a possibility, although nothing is certain in this conference. They have three more regular season games left, and only one of them at home. That game is Saturday against an improving Northwestern team. I might be running in a race Saturday morning, but then I will fly down to Purdue to see the last game this year in Mackey.
Since the game ended late last night I just spent the night at my brother’s apartment. And since I was already at Purdue and hungry for some chicken wings I decided to go see the Matt Painter show being taped again. I do not get the Big Ten Network so this is a chance to see the show. I really like how the coach talks about the team. They showed a highlight of Moore barely in control of the ball making a floater. At the time the crowd went crazy over the shot. Today during the taping Painter talked about how early in the shot clock it was to attempt a left handed floater after dribbling out of control. He really strives for perfection, and that is a good thing. That is the main reason why I was so late in posting today.
During a pause in play tonight I yelled down to the court at Tubby Smith and asked him what he thought his chances of making the NCAA Tournament were. He yelled a couple of times, but I could not hear him. Finally he just gave me a non verbal cue which I have shown below.
I guess he does not think to highly of his teams chances. He really didn’t need to stomp all over the court though. I think that with a coach like Tubby we will not be overlooking the Gophers in the near future. The next few years in the Big Ten should be interesting.

Carlton Fisk Countdown: #61

Today’s card is the 1987 Donruss card of Fisk. Once again it is not the prettiest card. It also is not worth very much. This card is special to me for a couple different reasons. The first of those is because I tried so hard to complete this set. This was back in the days of 35 cent packs that gave you a handful of cards. I was missing quite a few cards, and as a present my dad was going to buy me an entire set. I remember the set was real hard to come by. None of the local shops had one in stock. We ordered one online, and I can still remember the day that the UPS man brought it to my door. So this card would get in just for the fact of how hard I worked to get that set together.
The other reason I like this card is the look on Carlton’s face. He looks like you just told him something that he didn’t like. Maybe I am the only one who used to do this, but every card back then told a story. To me this picture was always taken right after Ken Harrelson told Fisk that he would play left field. The timing would be right. That move was made in 1986, and the picture for this card would have been taken around that time. Pudge hated the idea of being moved to left. He never was shy about his feelings toward that move. Hawk thought it was a great idea. He wanted to put a 38 year old catcher out in left field. How much ground would he be able to cover after all those years behind the plate? Joel Skinner was sitting the bench though, and the Hawk wanted to play both players. Reading some articles from the time period the move was made to get Skinner some playing time. In 1986 here are the Catchers that were on the Sox roster: Fisk, Skinner, Ron Karkovice, and Marc Hill. We had a log jam at a position, and a Hall of Famer in the way of some young kids. Harrelson thought this move would lengthen Fisk’s career. Knowing what we now know about how much longer Fisk played it seems silly to think about lengthening his career. Hell maybe he could still be playing. He could room with Julio Franco on the road. Before 1986 he had played eight games in left field. All but one of those though were with the Red Sox. In 1986 he played 31 games in left. That year Bobby Bonilla played 36 games in left to lead the team. He had four errors in 75 chances. According to the stats the ball was only hit to him just over twice a game. My guess is that Cangelosi was cheating towards left when Fisk was in the game. In the end Hawk was only the GM for one year. In that year his Fisk experiment failed, and he fired Tony LaRussa. Yes the same LaRussa that has been in a World Series every decade since. I like Hawk Harrelson…as an announcer. I think he was right to go back to the booth. Although if you look at things now he may have been right. If you take a trip to U.S. Cellular Field and look at the left field wall you will see the retired number of Carlton Fisk. If you go on to the concourse in left field you will see a statue of Carlton Fisk. Finally if you ever get to Fenway Park and look at the left field foul pole you will notice that it has been named Fisk’s Pole. I guess that he really does belong in left field.

Breaking Out of the Snow

Once again we were dumped on with snow today here in Northwest Indiana. When I woke up this morning we had over ten inches in the driveway, and more continues to fall. Lake effect snow is awesome isn’t it? I will however still make it down to West Lafayette tonight to see Purdue take on Minnesota. I only have two more chances at home to see the Boilers play this year. This will be my first chance to see Tubby Smith in person. It should be a good game. Due to weather and the time of the game my normal same day recap may be pushed back until tomorrow. Boiler Up!

Carlton Fisk Countdown: #62

You are looking at the 1988 Topps card of Carlton Fisk. This card is not that valuable. In fact it sells for about a quarter to 50 cents. That is because Topps made enough of them to circle the world. What I remember most about this card though is the fact that Topps came up with the idea to make Trapper Keeper folders out of the cards that year. I still have two of these folders here at home. (Yes I am a pack rat.) I proudly went to school with my Fisk folders. When I was bored in class I could just turn the folder over and look at the statistics on the back. My friends and I had already spent some time decorating our folders with our favorite players, so it only made sense that I had a couple that looked like cards. One thing that I liked about this card compared to the set was on the back. Most of the other players had a tidy little line at the bottom telling some interesting fact about them. Carlton’s card was full of stats in very small print. He had already played too long to have any kind of quote at the bottom. He still had five more years of card to go!
The one thing that has always really upset me about this card is the fact that all of the White Sox cards have the player name on a pink ribbon. I know at this time in our culture neon colors were big, but why pink? Pink is more of a girls color. Why couldn’t the banner name of the club and the ribbon be team colors? This was the year when Score entered the picture making it four major card makers. The following year Upper Deck would come into play. Why was it then that Topps seemed to be taking a step back as far as the looks of the card went.
By the way there is a great site called 88 Topps Cards that celebrates this set. Check it out. They have put some cards on there that I have completely forgotten about.
By the way can you believe that this set is 20 years old? It doesn’t seems like that long ago that I was collecting these cards. Now they are 20 years old. Somebody is getting old, but it can’t be me.

Carlton Fisk Countdown: #63

I like this card because once again it features two hall of famers. This card is from the 1992 Pacific set. It shows Carlton having a mound conference with Tom Seaver. I would have like to have heard some of the things that these two veterans talked about on the mound. They had both been playing for so long that I don’t think there were too many new things that they could have been bringing up. It was probably a conversation about what hat they were going to wear into the hall. These two played together for two and a half seasons. Fisk was part of the contingent that wanted Seaver on the team. They picked him up in the compensation draft in 1984 from the Mets. He then came over to the White Sox where he was a part of a couple special moments in my young life. First off in 1984 he won two games in one day. He pitched the 25th inning of a suspended game to get the win, and then went on to win his normally scheduled start later in the day. Fisk caught every inning of that game to set a record and consequently has a record breaker card. Will that be on the list? Maybe. The other moment that he gave us as fans was in 1985 when he picked up his 300th win in New York. I can still remember watching the game, and seeing the joy on everyone’s faces after he threw the final pitch. Fisk and Seaver embracing on the mound was a moment that every paper carried. I clipped the pictures from that day and had them on my school folders when the year started. Seaver was traded to the Red Sox in 1986 for Steve Lyons. A knee injury kept him out of the series that year. He tried to play the following year for the Mets, but was not effective. He never played a regular season game for the Mets so in effect on the mound that day was one man who started his career with the Red Sox, and one who ended his with the BoSox.
Yesterday I received a bunch of packages in the mail. It seems like everything that I ordered came in the same day. I still have a few cards out, but for the majority of my cards came yesterday. I found a couple deals on eBay for Fisk lots, and I filled some holes in my collection through the Beckett Marketplace. I found some cards that I did not even know existed let alone had in my collection. Maybe next month I will check out the marketplace again and see if I can fill some more holes. In all I received about 150 cards in the mail to bring the total number of Fisk cards that I own to over 1,100. For the most part I have been staying away from the bat and jersey cards because they are too much money. I found a few at a good price though, and some of them might just make the countdown. Maybe fairly soon.

Carlton Fisk Countdown: #64

I had no idea that this would be this hard. At first I didn’t think that I could find 72 cards to put on here. Now I realize that some that I like will be left out. I guess every card has a memory attached to it, and this is an exercise in reliving those memories. Anyway here is the 1991 Bowman card of Carlton. For some reason (money) Topps decided to resurrect the Bowman name. The cards were never very special, but a few good ones came out of the deal. I like this card because it shows him signing a ball for what I would guess would be a youngster. It reminds me of my first game when I met him before the game started. No matter how famous he became he kept the fans first. The Bowman set from that year is not the best to look at, but I really like this picture for some reason. He only played for a couple of years in the pinstripe uniforms, and that may be another reason I like this card. It looks as if he could be getting ready to play today. How about one more season Pudge?

Carlton Fisk Countdown: #65

We interrupt the duet cards to bring you this 1992 Fleer card of Carlton. I like this card because Carlton appears to be chewing someone out while Fred Lynn patiently awaits his turn in the box. Lynn was a lefty so Fisk is looking into the field to whomever he is talking to. This may have been one of Wilson Alvarez’s’ off games. The 1992 Fleer set is not much to look at, but the picture on the card allows this card to make the list. Fred is either digging in, or playing the role of the child who is trying to pretend that they don’t know what is going on. Fisk made a name for himself at the end of his career by continuing to play the game the right way. He would let players on the other team know if they weren’t playing the game the way it should be. The most famous of all these incidents was with Deion Sanders when he was playing for the Yankees. Neon Deion did not run out a pop fly, and the next time he was at the plate Carlton explained to him how to play the game. I have seen him quoted as saying, “If you don’t play it right, I’m going to kick your ass right here.” In this age of BALCO, HGH, and players playing only half a season we need a little more of this in the game today. I really wish that I knew the story behind this card. On the other hand it might ruin what my imagination has come up with. I was already out of collecting when this card came out, but when I got back into completing my Fisk collection I picked it up.
Another interesting part of this card is the fact that Fred Lynn is on it. These two players were key to the 1975 Boston team that came within one game of being world champs. Lynn was a rookie in 1975, and Fisk had been playing a few years. Both of these men were named Rookie of the Year. Fisk in 1972 and Lynn for 1975. They are probably both remembered best for that team in 1975. I guess that is why I find it ironic that they would end up on a card in 1992 together. Why is that odd? Well Lynn retired from the game in 1990. What is even more odd than that is the fact that when he retired he was a member of the San Diego Padres. The two years prior to that he was on the Detroit Tigers. He did start the 1988 season off the Baltimore Orioles before being traded. He was #19 on the Orioles, and that looks like it fits here. At first glance I would swear that is Fred Lynn, and after looking over the card and checking up on his history I would still swear to that fact. Apparently Fleer just had some old pictures they needed to get rid of. It just seems crazy to me to see what would have to be at least a four year old picture show up on a card. They could really date themselves if they pulled an old picture of Julio Franco for this years set. Can you believe Julio was playing at the same time as Fisk, Yaz, Seaver, Rose, and Bench? He really is the Kevin Bacon of baseball. Quickly connect Franco to Babe Ruth in as few players as possible.

Carlton Fisk Countdown: #66

“We have a hunch you’ll love the baseball bunch”. Remember the Baseball Bunch from the 80′s? Besides being a really good catcher, Johnny Bench was also a TV personality. I used to watch that show religiously on Saturday mornings as a kid. You always wondered who his guest star would be this week. It is no wonder then that this All-Star card from 1974 made the list. I like the card because in my opinion they are the best two catchers of the 1970′s. Bench was the National League catcher of the 70′s hands down. One could argue that Fisk was best American League catcher of the 70′s as well. Yesterday’s card showed two All Star catchers from the 1982 game that went on to be Hall of Famers. So today we just stepped back decade to find the two catchers from the 1973 All-Star game that also became Hall of Famers. Bench started his career a little earlier than Fisk, and set all kinds of records. Those records would not last very long as Carlton would lay claim to them. Both of these men also played the game the way it should be played. Who knew that a year after this card was made that these two would battle in one of the best World Series ever? Too bad the wrong team came out on top is that one.