Friday, April 27, 2012

Tiger Talk 4.27.12

What a boring day yesterday in Tiger Town.  Nothing interesting every happens...
  • BRANDON INGE RELEASED.  MLive has the quotes from Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland.
  • Meet the newest Tiger, Brad Eldred. The Tigers are hoping his recent power surge in the minors (13 home runes) will carry over to the big leagues.
  • The Tigers go on the road to face the New York Yankees, this could be just what the doctor ordered to get the team re-focused.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tigers Rant - JV and Pray for Rain...

The following may be unfounded but need to get this off my chest so I can start fresh with this team today...

I'm not sure if you've watched the Tigers over the past week plus but it has been painful to watch this crap that being passed off as baseball.  The pitching besides Verlander and Smyly has been horrific, the hitting anemic, and the defense is embarrassing.  Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of time to turn this around but this teams lack of urgency scares me.

Also and you knew I was going to hit on this, but Brandon Inge is horrible at 2nd, not to mention the plate where he hitting .100 and says strike outs are a terrible stat.  Is that because you have 6 and no walks Brandon.  Oh, and your .100 batting average was a gimme with that double bouncing off of the Cain's glove is a joke.  Lastly on Inge, please do not tell me he's the best defensive player on the field, did you see him miss 2nd base against the White Sox on a double play ball?  By the way, and thanks to AB for pointing this out on FB last night, but the Tigers are 5-6 since the prodigal son's return from injury and Toledo.  Grrrrrrrrrrr

Let's go back to the hitting for a moment, AJax has cooled off and is averaging just under a strike out a game (17) which is a similar pace to last year, but do have to give him props on his team leading 11 walks.  Now for the rest of the team, that leaves 37 walks and 108 strike outs and a team OBP under .300, embarrassing.  Furthermore, Prince is the only guy hitting over .300, with Miggy at .290 and AJax is the next closest guy with more then 4 games played at .261.  Team average....244, puke.  Every time up it looks like J-honny is trying to go yard, Delmon I don't know what he's doing, and Boesch who has the best spot in a lineup in the bigs is failing miserably.  Lets hope we can chalk this up to cold miserable whether in Detroit, but the other teams haven't seen to have an issue, which brings me too...

The pitching, which has been God-awful.  A team ERA of 4.01which is only brought down because of the bullpen and JV/Smyly duo.  The other 3 starters (Scherzer, Porcello, & Wilk) have a combined ERA of 7.57!!  Even worse is the batting average against for these 3 who must think they're throwing BP still have an average against of .366.  Now Wilk was sent down and rightfully so, but who takes his place and what the F are we going to do about Max and Ricky P???  I mean seriously, Max can only have one more terrible start in him before Detroit is forced to do something right?  Don't get me started on how Papa Grande is channeling Todd Jones in to every game he closes and thank God for Below, Octavio and Balester, mopping up other people's messes.

Lastly, the fielding...UGH.  Did you see Monday night when Seattle bunted or at least tried to three times in a row, or the squeeze play/blown call in which they got no one out.  This seems like a bad dream, is going to get worse, and I have to admit the media will be right in the end that teams are going to take advantage of this.  I wish I had stats on how bad it was, but really don't feel like doing any research as I already feeling sick to my stomach reading this crap.

PHEWWWWWWWWWWW, BREATH, WOOSAH

WOOOOOSAH

WOOOOOOOOOSAH

Ok, I'm good!  LETS GO TIGERS!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tiger Talk 4.25.12

The Tigers continue to struggle and have dropped in to a three-way tie for first at 10-7 facing Felix Hernandez tonight, so where's the offense at?

Here's a look at your latest Tigers news

  • The second article of the week on Tiger Stadiums 100 year anniversary is from ESPN's Jim Caple
  • Double D see's long term success for these Tigers
  • The Tigers season has already been a bit of a surprise according to Tom Gage
  • ESPN Insiders can take a look at re-ranking the 2002 "money ball" draft
  • AJax to get a night off and with Dirks hammy bothering him, Don Kelly may start in center
  • We all know something is wrong with Max Scherzer, but apparently it's not the same problem as 2010
  • Jacob Turner makes 2012 Minor League debut and throws hitless innings
  • Anyone could have guessed it, but the Detroit Tigers have the worst production out of second base in the league, which brings me to this...
  • Jim Leyland says there is to much focus on Inge's impact, which reminds me of this shirt below that I just picked up, thanks to RB

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tiger Talk 4.23.12 (The we have been out of town edition)

Sorry to all our loyal readers, we hit snag where a few of us were out of town at the same time and unable to post.  Fear not as that will change...

Now for your first place, 10-6 Detroit Tigers news:

  • The Rangers are #1 followed by the Tigers at #2 for another week in ESPN's Power Rankings
  • CBS Detroit on why Tigers fans have the right to boo Brandon Inge
  • Yahoo Sports on old Tiger Stadium and how it's being ignored
  • A missed call and squeeze play help Rangers over Tigers in 11 and taking 3 of 4 in the series
  • Pudge Rodriguez to retire today and if you're an ESPN Insider, Buster Olney looks back at his amazing career
  • Tiger prospect Steven Moya drawing comparisons to a young Daryl Strawberry
  • Leyland has had enough of the questions...
  • MLive takes a look back at the deal that brought Doug Fister to the the Tigers
  • Drew Smyly (did you realize he leads the AL in ERA with a 1.13?) and Prince Fielder turn in impressive performances
  • Zach Miner is back in Detroit after a trade last week with Kansas City

Friday, April 13, 2012

Series Preview: Detroit Tigers (5-1, 1.5 GA) vs. Chicago White Sox (3-2, 1.5 GB)

Chicago opened up 1 and 2 on the road against Texas and then took 2 from Cleveland with the middle game rained out leaving the Sox at 3-2 but not all that impressive with just +1 for run differential ranking 25th in the Majors for runs scored and 17th in the Majors for ERA.  The ChiSox are under new management this with Robin Ventura at the helm and has high hopes to spur certain players to play up to their potential (Gordon Beckham) but have little on the farm and made basically no moves in the off-season to right the ship.

The Tigers are coming off a pretty well played series against ESPN's #2 ranked team in the Majors (behind Detroit) and Detroit theoretically could be 6-0 if it wasn't for the Justin Verlander melt down, then again they could also have quite a few more losses if they didn't have their come from behind wins either.  With colder weather setting in and better pitching, Detroit bats cooled a bit, however the Tigers still lead the Majors with a +18 run differential and rank 1st in runs and average, while the pitching is just mediocre ranked 15th in ERA/

Pitching Matchup @ U.S. Cellular
Friday/2:10 est - Max Scherzer (0-0, 23.63 ERA) vs. Jake Peavy (0-0, 4.50 ERA)
Saturday/4:10 - Adam Wilk (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Gavin Floyd (0-1, 6.35 ERA)
Sunday/2:10 - Rick Porcello (0-0, 2.57 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (1-0, 1.35 ERA)
Season Series: n/a

U.S. Cellular Park
Who's Hot (Chicago/Last 7 Games)
1. Paul Konerko, 1B - Many expect this to be the year that Konerko drops off, just like last year...however Pauly is off to another hot start hitting .450 with 5 RBI
2. A.J. Pierzsynski, C - The guy that everyone hates unless he's on your team is hitting .313 with a couple dingers and 6 RBI's
3. Chris Sale, SP - Reliever turned starter, Sale beat the lowly Indians, giving up 1 earned in 6 and 2/3, walking 2 and striking out 3

Who's Not (Chicago)
1. Gavin Floyd, SP - Lost to the Texas Rangers in Texas, giving up 4 earned runs on 7 hits, including 3 home runs.
2. Brent Morel, 3B - Morel has just 1 hit in his first 16 at bats and has 7 k's to go with it
3. Alex Rios, OF - Rios isn't much better then Morel with just 2 hits in 13 at bats (.154) but does have a couple walks

Who's Hot (Detroit)
1. Austin Jackson, OF - He's cooled off a little from his opening series but still hitting .435 and leading the team with 10 hits and the league with 9 runs.
2. Miguel Cabrera, 3B - Hitting .381 and leading the team with 9 RBI and 3 home runs
3. Rick Porcello, SP - Ricky P had a real good first outing of the year against the Rays where he gave up 2 runs in 7 innings.  His batting average against (.269) has room to improve as does his strike out rate (4k's) but he has never a been a big strike out guy.

Who's Not (Detroit)
1. Max Scherzer, SP - Will the real Max please stand up, please stand up?  I sure as hell hope it isn't the one that was given an early 4 run lead against Boston and couldn't make it out of the third as he gave up 7 runs on 8 hits, walking 2, and striking out 3.
2. Ryan Raburn, 2B - Trying to make a case for Inge by hitting just .150 after a great spring and has 5 k's in 19 at bats.  Inge haters are pulling for you Ryno!
3.Joaquin Benoit, RP - Benoit struggled early on last year and we can all hope the same happens here as his 4.91 ERA and .412 batting average against aren't going to get him a lot of clutch appearances down the road

Series Prediction: Tigers win 2-1
Next Series: 3 @ Kansas City Royals (3-3, 2 GB)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

VMart Back in 2012???

The Tigers got some good news today, Victor Martinez will not need a follow up surgery according to ESPN that would have been reconstructive of the ACL.

The Tigers won't comment on when a possible return could be as Victor has a follow up MRI in mid-July but if all goes right I have to believe it's late August or early September if there aren't any setbacks.

Can imagine this lineup this year with Victor!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Series Preview: Tampa Rays (3-1, T1) vs. Detroit Tigers (4-0, 2 GA)

Tampa Bay Rays (3-1) vs. Detroit Tigers (4-0)

Well we're a little late to the game here with the Tigers taking for the first game of the series 5-2, however there's still a couple interesting match ups left in this series that pits the #1 Power Ranked team (according to ESPN) the Tigers vs. the #2 ranked team the Rays.  Today's pitching match up was interesting to me as we had fire baller and top prospect Matt Moore (#2 on Pepper 2012 Top 100 Prospects) against Ricky P who was looking to get off to a better start earlier in the year (mission accomplished).

I have to believe the weather may have had something to do today with two of the top offenses in the AL being held down (although Detroit did score 5 runs) and although James Shields struggled in the opener, I would expect him to battle back with his bulldog mentality.

Just like the Tigers, the Rays swept a team in the east, that being the Yankees and also did it in walk off fashion.  In that series Tampa hit .302 as a team, scoring 18 runs, with 5 dingers, and a team ERA of 4.  Detroit hit .345, scored 26 runs, with 7 dingers, and a 4.34 ERA.  This should be a very early challenge for Detroit.

Pitching Matchup @ Comerica Park
Tuesday/1:05 - Matt Moore (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Rick Porcello (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Wednesday/1:05 - James Shields (0-0, 10.80 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Thursday/1:05 - Jeff Niemann (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Drew Smyly (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Season Series: n/a

Comerica Park

Who to Watch (Tampa, Last 7 Games)
1. Evan Longoria, 3B - Longo had 6 hits in his first 10 at bats, including 2 doubles, and a home run but only 1 RBI
2. Carlos Pena, 1B - Pena hit a slam against the Yankees and came close to doing it later in the game for a walk off that fell short and only netted him one of the RBI's of the 3 that were on base or his 7 runs batted in would be higher
3. Matt Joyce, OF - Joyce hit .333 with a triple and home run and four runs batted in

Who Not to Watch (Tampa)
1. James Shields, SP - The "ace" of the Rays staff struggled on opening day giving up 6 runs in 5 innings against the Yankees while walking 3 and striking out 3
2. Sean Rodriguez, SS - Rodriguez only collected 1 hit in his first 6 at bats (.167 average) and struck out a couple times
3. Ben Zobrist, 2B - Ben didn't do much better then Rodriguez as he only had 2 hits in 10 ab's but did make them count with a double and a triple

Who to Watch (Detroit)
1. Miguel Cabrera, 3B - AL Player of the Week hit .455 with 3 homers and 8 RBI while scoring 5 runs
2. Alex Avila, C - Off day on Tuesday and edges Prince out because of a higher slugging percentage and clutch home run on Sunday to go with a .417 average, 2 homers, and 5 RBI
3. Justin Verlander, SP - We can't go without mentioning JV here as he threw eight shutout innings opening day only to see the pen blow his for him.  Verlander struck out 7, walked 1, and gave up 2 hits

Who Not to Watch (Detroit)
1. Ryan Raburn, OF - Raburn had a hot spring that it had to translate over to the start of the season, right???  Not the case, as Ryan hit .167 in his first three games of the season.
2. Brennan Boesch, OF - Boesch is supposed to be feasting on fastballs in front of Miggy but his timing looks off right now, that should catch up soon enough.  Brennan hit .133 against Boston.
3. Jose Valverde, CP - The big potato blew his first save of the season, go figure after 49 straight last year and it cost JV a win.  Valverde started his redemption today with a save against the Rays.

Series Prediction: Tigers win 2-1 (a little easier to say after today :)
Next Series: 3 @ Chicago White Sox (2-2)

Tiger Talk (4.10.12)

Tigers move to 4-0 after some clutch late inning hitting by Austin Jackson, Miggy, and Prince, not to mention just what the doctor ordered with very good outing from Ricky P.  Detroit takes the opener 5-2.

Now for your Detroit Tiger news

  • Jackson quickly distances himself from his 2011 slump
  • Adam Wilk to start Saturday and Brandon Inge expected to rejoin the team by then as well
  • Defensive gems help the Tigers in tight game with the Rays
  • Casey Crosby shaky in audition for Tigers staff
  • Hard to believe I know, but Miguel Cabrera was voted AL Player of the Week

Tiger Takeaways

Hopefully this will be a new, quick feature on the blog from time to time. To kick it off, let's look at the top 3 takeaways from Opening Day weekend and heading into a tough series with one of my favorite AL teams, the Tampa Rays.

1 - Austin Jackson - 8 hits in 14 at bats is impressive for anyone. But if Austin Jackson can hit .270 and draw a few walks, this offense just became a whole lot better. We know there will be production up and down the Tiger lineup but if he can continue to be a catalyst, it's hard to imagine what this offense can do.

2 - The Tigers didn't play well. They hit well but the defense was as bad as expected, pitching worse than expected. But perhaps this is a team that is just going to win games. To start 3-0 with a sweep of the Bosox when they are not close to the level they need to be, that's impressive.

3 - Friends, family etc will probably tell you they don't want to talk to me about how good the Tigers can be. They've grown accustomed to me saying "It's all about pitching". And in baseball, it is indeed all about pitching. I hope Doug Fister remains out until he's 100% because things could get real interesting without a healthy Fister. Scherzer showed the bad Scherzer. He's an enigma, lights out one start, awful the next. We need to see more of the lights out Max. Benoit and Valverde were both touched up. Injuries and poor pitching could quickly derail a season no matter how potent the lineup is so let's hope everyone pitches up to expectations.

What, you thought I would discuss the show that Miggy, Prince and Parkman, err Alex Avila, put on? Nope, that's too easy. We know they are going to produce big (well, Miggy and Prince anyway), it's the other things that will determine how this season goes.

- CV

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tiger Talk 4.9.12 (Walk-Off Edition)

Well, that's one way to start the season and the Tigers are already gaining national attention if you can't tell by all the articles below...

  • After Detroit's sweep of Boston they jump to #1 on ESPN's Power Rankings but next up is the #2 Rays
  • ESPN Blogger David Schoenfield explains how Alex is the Tigers 3rd weapon
  • You may have heard already but the Tigers came back twice to beat the Red Sox in 11 with an Alex Avila home run
  • Doug Fister heads to the 15-day DL with a left side injury and Leyland has no clue on who will replace him
  • Andy Oliver's control issues still causing problems and Leyland will watch Casey Crosby today as a possible replacement for Doug Fister
  • Wojo explains with these bats, anything is possible for the Tigers and also thinks Verlander looks even better
  • Lynn Henning tells us why Scherzer's performance is upsetting the Tigers
  • Duane Below says he's down for whatever
  • Terry Foster talks about how Tigers fans are amazed with the "power show"
  • An "inside look" at Austin Jackson's scorching start
  • Check out #3 of the "25 Most Infamous Routines in Baseball Today"

Breaking Down 2012 Topps Heritage

Topps has done it again with another successful year with their Heritage product which take a classic design, this time 1963 and place current players in that design.  To add a twist to this years release not only does Heritage have "high" number short prints or intentional short printed errors like last year, but this years errors include the photos on the card flipping from the circle to the main part of the card (See Troy Tulowitzki below left), as well as red and blue bordered short prints from Target and Walmart blaster boxes and other various errors.  The other cool feature of this product is a first look at a lot of players in their new teams jersey's including Pineda (left), Prince, Jose Reyes, and many more.

The best pulls from the box for me was the Chrome Refractor of Gaub/Reed/Chambers/Betances at $20, the Pill/Chambers/Field/Pomeranz Chrome at $10, and six short prints ranging from $6-$8.

The only issue I had, was the box said every box comes with an autograph or relic card, but apparently not mine!

Box Cost: $70
Packs Per Box: 24
Cards Per Pack: 9
Cards Per Box: 216

Standard Cards
Rookie Cards (9): Brad Peacock/Devin Mesoraco/Justin DeFratus/Joe Savery, John Gaub/Addison Reed/Adron Chambers/Dellin Betances, Chris Parmelee/Steve Lombardozzi/Pedro Florimon/Jordan Pacheco, Steve Lombardozzi/Pedro Flormion/Matt Dominguez/Devin Mesoraco, Liam Hendriks/Alex Liddi/Matt Moore/Chris Schwinden, Steve Delabar/Tom Milone/Luis Marte/Jared Hughes, Drew Pomeranz/Nate Spears/Corey Brown/Adron Chambers, Jesus Montero/Austin Romine/Tim Federowicz/Wilin Rosario, Jemile Weeks
SP's (6): Troy Tulowitzki (BW), Jose Altuve, Jeremy Affeldt, Justin Upton, Josh Hamilton, James Shields

Inserts
Baseball Flashbacks (1): Hank Aaron
Chrome (3): Evan Longoria, Chris Iannetta, Brett Pill/Adron Chambers/Thomas Field/Drew Pomeranz
Chrome Refractor (1): John Gaub/Addison Reed/Adron Chambers/Dellin Betances
New Age Performers (2): Jered Weaver, Robinson Cano
News Flashbacks (3): Penn Station, University of Alabama, Valentina Tereshkova
Stick-Ons (4): Miguel Cabrera, Andrew McCutchen, Curtis Granderson, James Shields
Then & Now (1): Luis Aparicio/Michael Bourn

Total Beckett Value: $240.95

Wow What A Start!! Tigers Sweep Sox in Dramatic Fashion

What a way to start a season and each game so far has had something a little different but with the same result, a "W".  Verlander was masterful but Papa Grande was not, Saturday the Tigers just ate up Beckett which included 2 homers from our dynamic duo of Miggy and Prince, and then yesterday with terrible pitching, the Tigers bombed their way to not once but twice to an amazing victory capped of by Alex Avila's two run walk off dinger...WOW!!

Attendance has been great and looking to break team records as have the Tiger bats ranking first in the AL with a .345 team average, 26 runs, and 7 home runs.  Our homers have come from Cabby, Prince, and Alex, our hits are coming from everywhere (how about AJax!).

Lets not forget it's early but we also need to see improvement out of the pen and would be great to see Scherzer have a good outing after yesterday and his last spring appearance.  The other concern has to be Doug Fister hitting the 15-day DL with a left side muscle strain that I can't pronounce let alone type.

Again, what a great start to the season as these Tigers have the makings for a magical season!

Lets go Tigs!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Series Preview: Boston Red Sox (0-0) vs. Detroit Tigers (0-0)

The Sox are coming of a season with an epic collapse culminated on the last day of the regular season with the Sox losing out on a playoff spot with a late inning Orioles rally and Tampa winning in extra innings giving the Rays the spot.  Changes occurred with Terry Francona leaving and controversial Bobby Valentine taking the helm.  Other new faces include Cody Ross in right field, Andrew Bailey (injured), and Kelly Shoppach behind the plate.  Leaving bean town was Jonathan Papelbon, Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek, Marco Scutaro, and J.D. Drew.  The Red Sox are expected to compete again for the AL East tittle and wild card at the very least

The Tigers are back at it again and expected to win the AL Central and although the loss of Victor Martinez will hurt, offsetting with Prince Fielder will be more than acceptable.  Mags is gone opening up a starting spot for Brennan Boesch and the opening day lineup looks like this: 1. Austin Jackson (CF), 2. Brennan Boesch (RF), 3. Miguel Cabrera (3B), 4. Prince Fielder (1B), 5. Delmon Young (LF), 6. Ryan Raburn (DH), 7. Jhonny Peralta (SS), 8. Alex Avila (C), 9. Ramon Santiago

Pitching Matchup @ Comerica Park
Thursday/1:05 - Jon Lester (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Saturday/4:05 - Josh Beckett (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Doug Fister (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Sunday/1:05 - Clay Bucholz (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Season Series: n/a

Comerica Park

Who to Watch (Boston)
1. Carl Crawford (OF), With such a disappointing year, Crawford is expected to pick it up considerably, but is it to much pressure??? 
2. Cody Ross (OF), had an outstanding spring with 6 dingers and 16 RBI and if healthy will help make Red Sox nation forget about J.D. Drew very easily
3. Alfredo Aceves (RP), will take over the closer role for the Sox while Andrew Bailey is out

Who Not to Watch (Boston)
1. Clay Buchholz, Clay had a tough spring with a 5.23 ERA, giving up 5 homers, and 15 runs.  Luckily it was just spring...
2. Kevin Youkilis (3B), The Greek God of walks didn't find his timing as of heading north, hitting .195.  Lets hope it take a few games longer to find that swing
3. Andrew Bailey (RP), will undergo surgery to repair his ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb

Who to Watch (Detroit)
1. Justin Verlander (SP), last years Cy Young and MVP has a lot of hype to live up as the leagues best pitcher.  He can't repeat last years numbers...can he? 
2. Prince Fielder (1B), 4 homers this spring and a lot more where that came from (may be my new Tiger - sK)
3. Miguel Cabrera (3B), the experiment begins...

Who Not to Watch (Detroit)
1. Austin Jackson (OF) and Alex Avila (C), combined for 39 strike outs this spring, that's a lot of wind they generated
2. Max Scherzer (SP), like Buchholz above, thankfully they were spring numbers (5.79 ERA) as Max had a rough go late
3. Brandon Inge (2B), muhahahahahaha

Series Prediction: Tigers win 2-1
Next Series: 3 @ Home vs. Tampa Bay Rays (0-0)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Bond of Baseball

Dad and I at Game 2 of the 2006 World Series
This is something that I share every year in hopes of reminding those to remember the special moments that baseball brings us.

Opening Day, a day for happiness, a day that signifies that summer is on its way, a day that everyone is in first place, a day that every team still has a chance, a day of sadness for me.  As much as I enjoy spending this day with my wife and friends hanging out at the ball park, it’s another opening day without my father.  It’s now been over five years since I lost my dad to cancer and not a day goes by that I don’t think about him, but this day is especially tough for me as we shared the bond of baseball together.  As a matter of fact it’s so tough that I had to write this two weeks prior to opening day four years ago. 

See, Dad taught me the game and taught me well, he spent time playing catch with me, hitting grounders, pitching to me, playing backstop, playing strike out, you name it and we did it.  He of course took me to my first Tigers’ game back in the early 80’s, which is what really got me hooked on the game.  We’d spend many more opening days, Father’s Days, and summer days there together talking about the game.  He was a catcher growing up, a position I never liked or truly became accustomed to, so he would share with me what the catcher was doing at that moment in the game.  We’d take everything in while having probably some of the best conversations we had ever had, which could be about baseball but didn’t have to be. 

My dad would come to watch all my games in junior high, high school, summer ball, and even made a trip down to Alabama to see the opening of our college season, something I will never forget.   He was always the father behind the backstop in the folding chair telling their kids to keep their elbow up, watch for the curve ball, etc.

Once I graduated from college my career path allowed me to share (along with a wonderful understanding wife) some our most memorable moments.  These included the All-Star game held in Detroit, as well as unknowingly what would be our last game watched together, game 2 of the 2006 World Series (thank you, Nancy).  I can’t recall the conversations that we had during these games, just that we had a great time together as we always did, no matter win or lose.

I some day hope to fill this emptiness I feel on opening day with a son or daughter of my own, and if I can offer any advice it’s to spend as much time with the ones you love and never take that time for granted.

This is where my story ended the past four years, but we've been fortunate and had a son (Beckett Richard) join us and if you read last years post and the updates you'll know that we had him a month early the night before Opening Day.  This was the first Opening Day I missed in something like 17 years, but was the happiest of them all as my son and I watched the game from the hospital room along side my wife and of course the Tigers won.

Please share this with anyone that you share the bond of baseball with.

- sK

Pepper Predictions for the 2012 Major League Baseball Season

In years past the Pepper bloggers have given their opinions on many things including who will win what and what we've learned is that it's much more difficult then it sounds but it won't stop us, that's for sure.  With Pepper team growing to four recently here's a look at how we think the season will unfold...

NL East
Voss: Philadelphia Phillies
Kay: Philadelphia Phillies
DeMarco: Philadelphia Phillies
Matter: Philadelphia Phillies


NL Central
Voss: Cincinnati Reds
Kay: St. Louis Cardinals
DeMarco: Cincinnati Reds
Matter: Milwaukee Brewers


NL West
Voss: Colorado Rockies
Kay: Arizona Diamondbacks
DeMarco: San Francisco Giants
Matter: San Francisco Giants


NL Wild Cards
Voss: Miami Marlins & Washington Nationals
Kay: San Francisco Giants & Miami Marlins
DeMarco: Miami Marlins & Atlanta Braves
Matter: Arizona Diamondbacks & St. Louis Cardinals


NL Pennant Winner
Voss: Miami Marlins
Kay: Philadelphia Phillies
DeMarco: Philadelphia Phillies
Matter: San Francisco Giants


NL MVP
Voss: Hanley Ramirez, MIA
Kay: Troy Tulowitzki, COL
DeMarco: Joey Votto, CIN
Matter: Troy Tulowitzki, COL


NL Cy Young
Voss: Roy Halladay, PHI
Kay: Adam Wainwright, STL
DeMarco: Roy Halladay, PHI
Matter: Tim Lincecum, SF


NL Rookie of the Year
Voss: Bryce Harper, WAS
Kay: Devin Mesoroco, CIN
DeMarco: Yonder Alonso, SD
Matter: Bryce Harper, WAS


AL East
Voss: New York Yankees
Kay: New York Yankees
DeMarco: New York Yankees
Matter: New York Yankees

AL Central

Voss: Detroit Tigers
Kay: Detroit Tigers
DeMarco: Detroit Tigers
Matter: Detroit Tigers


AL West
Voss: Anaheim Angels
Kay: Texas Rangers
DeMarco: Texas Rangers
Matter: Texas Rangers


AL Wild Cards
Voss: Tampa Bay Rays & Texas Rangers
Kay: Tampa Bay Rays & Anaheim Angels
DeMarco: Boston Red Sox & Anaheim Angels
Matter: Tampa Bay Rays & Anaheim Angels


AL Pennant Winner
Voss: Anaheim Angels
Kay: Detroit Tigers
DeMarco: New York Yankees
Matter: Detroit Tigers


AL MVP
Voss: Albert Pujols, LAA
Kay: Robinson Cano, NYY
DeMarco: Miguel Cabrera, DET
Matter: Albert Pujols, LAA


AL Cy Young
Voss: David Price, TB
Kay: C.C. Sabathia, NYY
DeMarco: Felix Hernandez, SEA
Matter: Justin Verlander, DET


AL Rookie of the Year
Voss: Jesus Montero, SEA
Kay: Yu Darvish, TEX
DeMarco: Matt Moore, TB
Matter: Yu Darvish, TEX


World Series Winner
Voss: Anaheim Angels
Kay: Detroit Tigers
DeMarco: New York Yankees
Matter: Detroit Tigers


World Series MVP
Voss: Albert Pujols, LAA
Kay: Prince Fielder, DET
DeMarco: Robinson Cano, NYY
Matter: Miguel Cabrera, DET


First Player to be Traded
Voss: Bobby Abreu, LAA or Jake Peavy CHW
Kay: Matt Garza, CHC
DeMarco: Bobby Abreu, LAA
Matter: Wandy Rodriguez, HOU

Pepper consensus has it that the Tigers will be World Series Champs, but don't bet on it as none of us nailed the Cardinals in 2011...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cardboard Memories: 1997 (Baseball Cards)

Yep another year, another four more releases added to the annual baseball card releases, that makes 37 in total.  By now a few trends are starting to take place...1) autographed cards are becoming more prevalent 2) uptate/traded sets don't exist any longer 3) A handful of sets are only 150-200 cards, meaning more stars and less commons 4) short prints starting to make their ways in to standard sets more

1997 from a baseball standpoint was a wash for me being in college but did make sure that I purchased some Bowman, which in turn started the tradition of making sure that I buy every year if nothing else to get the first rookie cards of a player.

So on to the cards, again here are some of my favorites, some that impacted the industry, and others just to give you an idea of the design.   Enjoy...

Name: Miguel Tejada
Team: Oakland Athletics
Position: Shortstop
Card: 1997 Bowman's Best
Number: #114
Status: Rookie Card
Beckett Hi Value: $4.00
Comments: Like it or not Tejada was on par with Nomar, ARod, and Jeter for a while as one of the best shortstops in the league.  He actually ranks fairly well on the Hall of Fame index  according to Baseball Reference.
Name: Roy Halladay
Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Position: Starting Pitcher
Card: 1997 Bowman Chrome
Number: #212
Status: Rookie Card
Beckett Hi Value: $40
Comments: Bowman beat everyone to the punch again and had Doc's first rookie card, not to mention this is first Chrome product for Bowman (standard Halladay Bowman card books for $12)

Name: Kerry Wood
Team: Chicago Cubs
Position: Starting Pitcher
Card: 1997 Bowman
Number: #196
Status: Rookie Card
Beckett Hi Value: $5.00
Comments: Remember when Kerry Wood struck out 20 his rookie season?  His rookie card sky rocketed up to $20 and then it all fell apart

Name: Travis Lee
Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
Position: First Base
Card: 1997 Bowman
Number: #389
Status: Rookie Card
Beckett Hi Value: $0.60
Comments: I couldn't resist adding Travis Lee's rookie card to this list, as he won the Golden Spikes award and was a hot prospect with his card booking in the $10 range.  Lee had a decent career but never got to star status

Name: Travis Fryman
Team: Detroit Tigers
Position: Third Base
Card: 1997 Collector's Choice
Number: #110
Status: throws like a girl
Beckett Hi Value: $0.20
Comments: He's either throwing a shot put or throws like a girl, just not sure

Name: Derek Jeter
Team: New York Yankees
Position: Shortstop
Card: 1997 Donruss Limited
Number: #83
Status: Serial Numbered to 1100
Beckett Hi Value: $15.00
Comments: Serial numbers have been around on cards in insert sets since the early '90's but are becoming more prevalent in base sets

Name: Jeff Bagwell
Team: Houston Astros
Position: First Base
Card: 1997 Donruss Preferred G
Number: #177
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $6.00
Comments: Although Donruss Preferred didn't call some of their cards in the sets short prints, there were definitely short printed based on letter given to the card

Name: Roberto Alomar
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Position: Second Base
Card: 1997 Donruss Signature
Number: #9
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $0.75
Comments: A decent premium release from Donruss but the value was around the signatures that you could score in packs

Name: Vladimir Guerrero
Team: Montreal Expos
Position: Outfield
Card: 1997 Donruss
Number: #355
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $0.75
Comments: The card says rookie on it, but truth be told, Bowman beat Donruss to the punch two years earlier

Name: Chipper Jones
Team: Atlanta Braves
Position: Third Base
Card: 1997 EX 2000
Number: #54
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $2.00
Comments: One of those premium releases with 150-200 cards in the set

Name: Ryne Sandberg
Team: Chicago Cubs
Position: Second Base
Card: 1997 Finest B
Number: #2
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $2.00
Comments: Similar to Donruss Preferred, cards aren't listed as short prints in the set but they exist and signified by a letter designation

Name: Ken Griffey Jr
Team: Seattle Mariners
Position: Outfield
Card: 1997 Flair Showcase
Number: #24
Status: Row 1
Beckett Hi Value: $4.00
Comments: Flair looked at short prints differently and designated by rows with 0 being the most scarce to 2.

Name: David Arias (Ortiz)
Team: Minnesota Twins
Position: First Base
Card: 1997 Fleer
Number: #512
Status: Rookie Card
Beckett Hi Value: $25.00
Comments: Fleer and Ultra are actually the only releases that have a David Ortiz rookie card in 1997, unfortunately they got the name wrong and put Ortiz's teammates name instead

Name: Barry Bonds
Team: San Francisco Giants
Position: Outfield
Card: 1997 Leaf
Number: #65
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $2.00
Comments: Leaf started to refine it's look in '97.  Also, start to take note of Bonds size on his cards as it's believe '99 is when he started with PED's

Name: Hideo Nomo
Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Position: Starting Pitcher
Card: 1997 Metal Universe
Number: #104
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $0.75
Comments: Seems like Fleer's version of "chrome"

Name: Roger Clemens
Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Position: Starting Pitcher
Card: New Pinnacle
Number: #21
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $1.50
Comments: Not sure why Pinnacle needed new Pinnacle but they sure were trying to compete with most products in the market in '97 it seemed

Name: Dwight Gooden
Team: New York Yankees
Position: Starting Pitcher
Card: 1997 Pacific
Number: #151
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $0.30
Comments: Someone really should have talked to Pacific about their product designs...

Name: Mark Grace
Team: Chicago Cubs
Position: First Base
Card: 1997 Pacific Prisms
Number: #84
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $2.00
Comments: See Pacific comments...

Name: Tony Gwynn
Team: San Diego Padres
Position: Outfield
Card: 1997 Pinnacle Certified
Number: #45
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $1.25
Comments: I would imagine Pinnacle is trying to compete with Finest but need to find another gimmick

Name: Brady Anderson
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Position: Outfield
Card: 1997 Pinnacle Inside
Number: #
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $
Comments: Yep, this guy hit 50 bombs the previous year, 2nd career high is 21.  These cards actually came in a collectible can which was unique I guess

Name: Nomar Garciaparra
Team: Boston Red Sox
Position: Shortstop
Card: 1997 Pinnacle
Number: #172
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $1.25
Comments: Design doesn't differ very much from '96, maybe it's because they had 42 new products!

Name: Ivan Rodriguez
Team: Texas Rangers
Position: Catcher
Card: 1997 Pinnacle X-Press
Number: #35
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $0.30
Comments: Pinnacle's 5th release and that doesn't include Score or Select...

Name: Hideki Irabu
Team: New York Yankees
Position: Starting Pitcher
Card: 1997 Score
Number: #551A
Status: Rookie Card
Beckett Hi Value: $2.50
Comments: My gosh, there is so much great stuff to say Irabu, there's just not enough space.  All I can say is Steinbrenner referred to him as a "fat pussy toad" and then there's Harry Carey pronouncing his name...kind of

Name: Bubba Trammell
Team: Detroit Tigers
Position: Outfield
Card: 1997 Select
Number: #125
Status: Rookie Card
Beckett Hi Value: $0.50
Comments: One of my favorite Tigers during the terrible years for whatever reason.  He might be my poor man's Brandon Inge

Name: Carlos Delgado
Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Position: First Base
Card: 1997 SP
Number: #179
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $0.40
Comments: Delgado to me was one of those fringe superstars that with a few more solid years could have been a Hall of Famer

Name: Mike Piazza
Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Position: Catcher
Card: 1997 Sports Illustrated
Number: #112
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $1.25
Comments: Oh yes they did!  SI tried getting in to the baseball card game but way to late and way to common of a product

Name: Nomar Garciaparra
Team: Boston Red Sox
Position: Shorstop
Card: 1997 SPx
Number: #13
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $2.50
Comments: Another hologram but these were done better and had a bunch of variations that booked much higher

Name: Manny Ramirez
Team: Cleveland Indians
Position: Outfield
Card: Stadium Club Members Only
Number: #244
Status: Members Only Parallel
Beckett Hi Value: $3.00
Comments: More great photography and a couple parallel's to add value

Name: Andy Pettite
Team: New York Yankees
Position: Starting Pitcher
Card: 1997 Studio
Number: #5
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $0.50
Comments: Basic, but still pretty decent release and competes with Topps  Gallery


Name: Jackie Robinson
Team: Brooklyn Dodgers
Position: Outfield
Card: 1997 Topps Chrome
Number: #42
Status: Tribute Card
Beckett Hi Value: $2.00
Comments: Chrome parallel and nice tribute to Jackie

Name: Eric Chavez/Adam Eaton
Team: Oakland A's/Philadelphua Phillies
Position: Starting Pitchers
Card: 1997 Topps
Number: #479
Status: Rookie Cards
Beckett Hi Value: $2.00
Comments: Chavez was one of those talented guys that looked like he had a ton of potential to be a star but just could never stay healthy

Name: Orel Hershiser
Team: Cleveland Indians
Position: Starting Pitcher
Card: 1997 Topps Gallery
Number: #7
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $0.50
Comments: One of the more underrated pitchers in the game in my opinion

Name: Lance Berkman
Team: Houston Astros
Position: Outfield
Card: 1997 Topps Stars
Number: #125
Status: Rookie Card
Beckett Hi Value: $10.00
Comments: One of three rookie cards for Berkman in '97

Name: Alex Rodriguez
Team: Seattle Mariners
Position: Shortstop
Card: 1997 UDS
Number: #50
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $2.50
Comments: Upper Deck's shot at short premium sets with lots of stars

Name: Brian Giles
Team: Cleveland Indians
Position: Outfield
Card: 1997 Ultra
Number: #354
Status: Rookie Card
Beckett Hi Value: $1.50
Comments: Giles had four huge years with the Pirates between '99 & '02 but never regained 30 homer + power after being traded to the Padres

Name: Mark McGwire
Team: Oakland Athletics
Position: First Base
Card: 1997 Upper Deck GHL SP
Number: #420
Status: Short Print
Beckett Hi Value: $8.00
Comments: Upper Deck gets in to the in set short print game

Name: Ivan Rodriguez
Team: Texas Rangers
Position: Catcher
Card: 1997 Zenith
Number: #15
Status: n/a
Beckett Hi Value: $0.60
Comments: Put the mouse back in the house Pudge!