The Legend

The Legend

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Trade: The Prowling Cat

Several months back Zenus from The Prowling Cat asked me to see if I could locate some West Virginia Black Bear business cards. My first couple attempts went empty, but finally towards the end of the season I was able to locate one. Zenus returned the favor by sending me some Buccos.

 A cool Topps scratch off of Dave Parker.

 Barry had this disgusted look for most of his Pirate tenure.

This is a cool dual jersey card of the two best players on the early 2000's Bucco teams. The Giles jersey has a nice stripe running through it. I had been on a cold spell adding cards of Kendall and Giles so it was nice to get my hands on this card.

 Quiz time! According to this their are 24 teams in both Major Leagues.

 Pretty cool shot of Tim Foli

 Parker looks to be getting ready to argue a call.

Here is Pedro most likely making an error...I kid, I kid.....not really, he is terrible at defense.

Van Slyke was a personal favorite of the really good early 90's Bucco teams. These discs were 7 Eleven giveaways and were produced by Score.
Thanks for the Buccos Zenus. I'll be sure to help your pocket schedule and business card collection next year as well. 
Thanks for reading. Happy Halloween!!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Making Fun of One of My Favorite Players (Gold Glove Rant)

The finalists for the Gold Glove awards were named today. I try not to care about these awards, but baseball likes to cram them down our throats this time of year so naturally I pay attention. For the longest time the awards were a joke as it was more of a popularity contest or the guy that had the best offensive numbers. The award hit an all time low when Rafael Palmeiro won a Gold Glove for his work at first base even though he only played around 30 games there and DH'd the rest.

Finally, in 2013 baseball started a collaboration with SABR to add a sabermetric component to the voting process. This process encompasses 25% of  the total vote. While not perfect it has helped eliminate guys like Palmeiro winning the award.

The three Pirates finalists for the award this year are Gerrit Cole, Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen. I'm fine with the Cole selection and Marte has a great shot of actually winning. The McCutchen selection leaves me scratching my head a little. I watch enough Pirate games to know that while Cutch is a superstar his defense is very average.

While I admit I'm a sabermetric nerd, the defensive metrics are still a work in progress. The main argument really isn't the guys that show up on top of these lists, but the amount of weight given to overall component to determine a players worth. Many people get upset seeing guys like Jayson Heyward and Ben Zobrist accumulate high WARs without putting up major offensive numbers.

One of the more all encompassing metrics out there is appropriately called "DEF".  While kind of confusing at its face it basically just takes all the existing information available about defense and adds positional adjustments. So you get a boost for playing the harder positions like shortstop and center.

So using DEF to sort NL center fielders, Cutch is nowhere near the top.  In fact he is 8th among the 11 players that qualified on Fangraphs. The other two nominees for the award were Billy Hamilton and AJ Pollock. They were 1st and 3rd.

My guess is that the main issue is that coaches picks still play a huge role. They are not allowed to pick their own guys so basically you are having them pick a guy that they may see 6 times a year. Not very scientific....

I love you Cutch, but you don't deserve to be a finalist.

Here is a fun breakdown between each leagues finalist compared to the "DEF" metric on Fangraphs. The stat is not used for pitchers so I'll use defensive runs saved for the hurlers.  It will be fun to compare this list to the actual winners once they are announced. Since the saber aspect was added a few years back most of the finalists deserved the nomination, but many of the winners were not deserving of the award.

AL Pitcher finalists
Mark Buehrle
Sonny Gray
Dallas Keuchel

Top 3 DRS AL Pitchers
Dallas Keuchel
Mark Buehrle
Wade Miley

Buehrle seems to win every year, but Keuchel has been the best defender the last few years. The margin is actually pretty big in favor of Keuchel so it will be interesting to see if he wins.

AL Catcher Finalists
Jason Castro
Russell Martin
Salvador Perez

Top 3 DEF AL Catcher
Russell Martin
Salvador Perez
Brian McCann

This is pretty much a tossup according the DEF stat between Martin and Perez.

AL First Base Finalists
Eric Hosmer
Mike Napoli
Mark Teixeira

Mitch Moreland
Chris Davis
Carlos Santana

Because of the positional adjustment all first basemen on the list measure in the negatives, so DRS might be a better measurement here which would make Teixeira the clear cut winner.

AL Second Base Finalists
Jose Altuve
Brian Dozier
Ian Kinsler

Ian Kinsler
Omar Infante
Jason Kipnis

According to the DEF statistic Kinsler should be a runaway winner. Basically you can sort by any defensive stat and he is on top of the second baseman. If you are splitting hairs Jason Kipnis probably deserves to be a finalist over Dozier, but I doubt he wins anyway.

AL Third Base Finalists
Adrian Beltre
Evan Longoria
Manny Machado

Adrian Beltre
Josh Donaldson
Manny Machado

These are four heavy hitters in terms of defense, but as usual Beltre is a notch above according to the DEF metric.

AL Shortstop Finalists
Xander Bogaerts
Alcides Escobar
Didi Gregorius

Didi Gregorious
Alcides Escobar
JJ Hardy

Gregorious and Escobar are extremely close so either one would be a good choice.

AL Left Field Finalists
Yoenis Cespedes
Brett Gardner
Alex Gordon

Yoenis Cespedes
Eddie Rosario
Alex Gordon

Gordon is usually the winner but injuries slowed him down this year. Cespedes should win in a runaway this year.

AL Center Field
Kevin Kiermaier
Kevin Pillar
Mike Trout

Kevin Kiermaier
Lorenzo Cain
Kevin Pillar

Kevin Kiermaier had one of the best defensive seasons in recent history so it would be a crime against humanity if he doesn't win. Weird that Mike Trout makes the list. He is kind of like Cutch this year as he is no where near the top. Lorenzo Cain got snubbed as a finalist big time, but it shouldn't really matter.

AL Right Field Finalists
Kole Calhoun
JD Martinez
Josh Reddick

Kole Calhoun
JD Martinez
Alex Rios

Right field is a little like first base as it is a position that hides many poor fielders. Calhoun should win the award.

NL Pitcher Finalists
Jake Arrieta
Gerrit Cole
Zack Greinke

Zack Greinke
Jake Arrieta
Mike Leake

No one really stands out. According to DRS Grienke has a slight advantage.

NL Catcher Finalists
Yadier Molina
Buster Posey
Wilson Ramos

Wilson Ramos
Derek Norris
Yadier Molina

Catcher is always the interesting one because its the hardest to quantify. Pitch framing plays a huge part but to what degree is the million dollar question. According to the stats Ramos should win, but I be willing to bet a lot of money that Molina wins.

NL First Baseman
Brandon Belt
Paul Goldschmidt
Adrian Gonzalez

Brandon Belt
Freddie Freeman
Adam Lind

If you use DRS it pretty much mirrors the finalists. Goldschmidt has a big advantage in DRS and Belt leads in DEF.

NL Second Base
Dee Gordon
DJ Lemahieu
Brandon Phillips

Dee Gordon
Jace Peterson
Brandon Philips.

Looks like Dee Gordon should be the winner....

NL Third Base
Nolan Arenado
Matt Duffy
Todd Frazier

Matt Duffy
Martin Prado
Todd Frazier

This is probably one of the more interesting battles. The DRS stat loves Arenado, but Duffy is a little more balanced across all the defensive metrics. Arenado has the reputation as the best defensive third baseman so my guess he wins.

NL Shortstop Finalists
Brandon Crawford
Adeiny Hechavarria
Andrelton Simmons


Simmons is on track to go down as one of the best defensive players in history. Hechavarria has very good numbers but I don't see him taking down Simmons.

NL Left Field Finalists
Starling Marte
Justin Upton
Christian Yelich

Starling Marte
Justin Upton
David Peralta

Big asterisk by this one as their were only a few qualified players for the DEF stat. With a small adjustment Chris Coghlan actually rates really high, but this is looking like Marte's award this year as he has the innings and his DRS is incredibly high.

NL Center Field
Billy Hamilton
Andrew McCutchen
AJ Pollock

Billy Hamilton
Odubel Herrera
AJ Pollock

Cutch is far down the list that it really doesn't even make sense. I'm not really sure what they even looked at. Hamilton is the clear cut #1 here.

NL Right Field
Curtis Granderson
Bryce Harper
Jason Heyward

Jason Heyward
Gregory Polanco
Curtis Granderson

They probably should just give this to Heyward every year. No one is really ever close to him. Giancarlo Stanton grades out pretty well if you lower the innings qualification, but still no match for Heyward. Bryce Harper is no where near the top.  Maybe baseball is just looking for some name recognition on the ballot with the likes of Cutch, Trout and Harper.

As you can see baseball is doing a better job of getting the finalists right. Most of the highest rated by defensive metrics show up on the list. The issue has been that many of them are still not winning.

If you want to see a better example of defensive players check this out. The Fielding Bible awards usually gets it right on the nose.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Window Shopping

One of the perks, albeit sometimes an expensive perk, is the ability to read other blogs to discover unique cards. I usually do a pretty good job reviewing checklists of newly released sets, but I still tend to miss quite a bit. So when something catches my eye on the blogs I usually jot myself a note to checkout the set in more detail.

Such was the case last year when Julie from A Cracked Bat opened a box of 2014 Panini Classics. The set peaked my interest early because it had one of the better checklists of the year featuring many pre-war players. When she was showing off the contents of the box she pulled one of the more unique Pirate cards I've seen the last couple of years and I knew I had to have it.

It was such a unique card that Julie planned on holding onto her copy so I went on the hunt.  A couple weeks back I finally tracked it down.

2014 Panini Classics Greenberg/Kiner/Herman Triple Bat Relic /99

What makes this card so unique from the Pirates perspective is that both Greenberg and Herman only played the 1947 season for the Buccos. Ralph Kiner said on numerous occasions that his success as a power hitter was due to Greenberg taking him under his wing during that season. All 3 would eventually make the Hall of Fame. This may be the most unique combination of players featured on a relic card that I have in my collection. 

It was fitting to show off a Kiner card as his birthday was yesterday. 

Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

This and That

I love watching the World Series. I'm one of those weirdos that can sit and watch a whole game even if it doesn't involve the Pirates. This year I could care less who wins. As for a prediction I feel like the Royals are going to get over the hump. It is a fun contrast in styles with the Mets young phenom pitchers versus one of the best contact teams in recent history. I just feel that the Royals defense and baserunning will put them over the top. I'll say Royals in 5 which probably means the Mets will sweep. Also I probably should be careful in picking against Daniel Murphy....

2015 Starling Marte Five Star Auto /15

I think the market is finally starting to cool a little bit on Marte. He has been in just about every Topps set the last couple of years and it seems that prices are starting to reflect that. I've been picky lately as I've been expecting this drop so I may pick up the pace some in the coming months picking up cards that look nice.

This card was won from a seller in Japan. I've had pretty good luck recently with cards coming from Asia. Usually you will pay a premium in shipping (anywhere from $4-$7), but the selling price is much cheaper. Without looking at completed auctions I'm guessing this card would push the $30 range, but I got for less than $20. 

Enjoy the World Series. Thanks for reading. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Trade: Off Hiatus Baseball Cards

I'm off work today which is nice. Seems like every 3 or so months I just need a day to decompress and hang out at home. Fridays would be more desirable but if you work at a college like I do everybody tends to leave early on Friday. I use those days to get more administrative types of things done. The quiet is very Fridays are beer tasting days!

With the free time I've been sorting some mail I've got over the past week. One bubble mailer was from long time trade partner Tony from Off Hiatus. I went back and counted and this is the 14th time I've received cards from Tony!

Tony is one of the fortunate souls that has multiple card shows at his disposal so an envelope from him can include just about anything.

Those powder blue Braves uniforms are a thing of beauty. When it features Mr. Walk it becomes a work of art. The mustache is still a work in progress and the mullet was not quite there yet, but greatness would come soon. He actually looks a little like John Candelaria here.
 If only a certified auto of Bob Walk existed.

Oh so close to the mullet. This card reeks of early 80's. 

Here it is! As usual it takes Stadium Club to get things perfected. You get the action shot along with the look we all know and love. 

This card is very formal with the Brian Stephen Giles facsimile signature. Looks like Brian had a tough time with the sun as he is catching the ball with the heel of the glove. Pretty cool shot for a card.

 Teke is cardboard gold.
 Of the guys shown only Matt Hague has seen MLB time. Stetson Allie was a high draft pick, but the Pirates pulled the plug on him as a pitcher. He is AA right now as a position player. The guy has light tower power, but I'm not sure if that will be enough to carry him to the big league club.
 A young Aramis Ramirez!

 A few oddballs of Bonilla and Drabek. Bonilla was a guy I was hoping would have a few modern releases, but so far he has nothing. I guess he doesn't feel the need to sign anything when he has all that deferred money from the Mets paying him until the end of time.

Thanks for the cards Tony. Since you always put music on you blog I figured I can showcase a couple of my favorite bands from the state of Georgia. 

Hearing Sevendust always makes me want to punch someone. I've seen them live a couple times and they are awesome.

Black Crowes! 

Thanks for reading! 

Saturday, October 24, 2015


2006 Ultimate Ensembles Casey/Perez/Bay/Paulino/Mclouth Auto

I have a few variations of this card, but this combo is the newest to my collection. Boy does this card have a lot going on. Each guy has an interesting story. 

Sean Casey is from the Pittsburgh area, but he didn't stay long as he was traded to Detroit during the 2006 season. His Pirate career was pretty uneventful, but his trade was unpopular do to his hometown status. It didn't really bother me that much as his best years were behind him. That auto is pretty wild too. 

Perez came on quick for the Pirates and flamed out just as quick. The Pirates released him and he was picked up by the Mets. He regained some of his early magic in 2007 with Mets and parlayed that into a long term contract. Unfortunately for the Mets his production fell right back off and the contract immediately turned bad. After the Mets Perez balanced around for a while, but has recently reinvented himself as a reliever. 

I talk about Jason Bay all the time. He is one of my all time favorites and my main reason for buying this card. 

Ronny Paulino looked like he was going to be a productive major league catcher after putting up better than average numbers in 2006. During the 2007 his defense began the suffer and the Pirates pretty much washed their hands of him. He balanced around several years but hasn't seen MLB action in almost three years. 

Nate Mclouth wasn't much of a prospect for the Pirates but he produced at every level of the minor leagues and forced his way onto the big league club. He was given a full time gig in 2008 and had a big year which included an All Star appearance and a gold glove. In 2009 the Pirates shocked their fan base by trading Mclouth to the Braves. Mclouth was signed to a team friendly deal and was coming off a huge season so the deal was very unpopular. It turned out to be a shrewd move by the Buccos as Mclouth's production dropped off the table for the Braves and both Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton are still active Pirates. Also, the trade opened the door for that McCutchen guy.

I like cards like this as they can tell a lot of stories. This card back in the day would have been pretty decent money as both Bay and Perez were popular. Today this card cost me less than $20. 

Thanks for reading! 

Thursday, October 22, 2015


I'm always excited to add new cards to my collection. The day I'm not excited probably should be the day I stop. With that being said I'm always a little more excited when I can add cards of Pirates from the mid 2000's. Players like Jason Bay, Freddie Sanchez and Jack Wilson hold a special place in my heart. The teams were terrible during this time period, but this was peak card collecting and game attending for me.

When I see cards like this I always get a little more excited then seeing any of the modern Pirates.

 2005 Leaf Certified Jack Wilson Emerald /5

While I wasn't a super collector of Jack Wilson like Mark from Battlin' Bucs I have a pretty complete collection. Pretty much most of my holes consist of high end parallels and odd ball releases. When cards like this pop up I get tunnel vision and want to win them no matter what. Fortunately this parallel didn't have much action and I was able to secure it for for around $8. Hopefully this wasn't one Mark needed. 

Thanks for reading! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

This Doesn't Look That Bad

2015 Panini Prizm Starling Marte Auto /10

For a non licensed card this looks pretty good. The all black Bucco uniforms work pretty well when showcasing the player in his hitting stance. The obvious issue is the helmet, but at least it is black. 

I'm one of the few people in the blogosphere that like Prizm. The checklists are always solid and the price point is very affordable. In the 2015 version they added more on card autos which was nice. I added this Marte for around $13 which was a nice deal considering the card is numbered /10. 

On a side note I was happy to see the Blue Jays win today. I'm pulling for them as I think they would make for a more entertaining world series. I don't really care what happens in the NL as either team would make for an intriguing matchup with the Blue Jays. I have nothing against the Royals, I think deep down I'm just hoping for more Bautista bat flips.....

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

WAR Games Update

In cased you missed it here is a link to a game called WAR Games my buddy Micah and I created using baseball cards

We are about ten days into the competition and this is a very difficult game. The $10 limit becomes quite a detriment when balancing the specialty card needs. As we speak I've found four cards with my strategy being to focus on the auto/relics/parallels. You also have to deal with some buyers remorse because as soon as you commit to buy something sure enough a better player at an even better deal will pop up.

While the $10 limit is challenging it is also the funnest aspect of the challenge. This forces you to think outside the box when purchasing. In your mind you may think that you can just scour eBay and look for free shipping auctions, but it is hard to find good cards with free shipping attached. Obviously the holy grail would be to find one good seller, but our chosen year for cards is 2005 so that really limits the choices.

As of now we feel that the only thing that will need tweaking is the scoring system. We are thinking that if you don't at least complete the specialty card portion you are automatically disqualified. The bonuses/penalties will most likely be adjusted some as well.

Once the trial run ends I think I'm going to create a tournament style blogger competition. So far it has been a lot of fun.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Art of the Blind Trade

Blind trades are sometimes kind of difficult to explain, but I love them. It may be weird to some to shop for other people just for the hell of it, but it is a unique way to facilitate great trade partnerships. I've been doing so many of these deals that I pretty much associate every team/player with certain bloggers. 

One of my longest ongoing blind trades is with my good buddy Dennis from Too Many Verlanders.   Dennis and I have the common bond of collecting pretty much the exact same way. Dennis even has a site devoted to his Michigan portion of his collection. We've traded so much that we are pretty in tune with each others collections.

Lately I've been hitting Dennis with more Tigers than Wolverines. Dennis is very active with the Michigan aspect of his collection so I always worry about doubles. Generally speaking securing unique Tiger cards is much easier. In response to my lastest mailing Dennis went for the jugular. 

The following pretty much nailed every aspect of my collection. 

The 1970 Pops is kind of a cool candid shot from what looks like spring training. Nice way to start a trade package!

This is another guy that gets my attention. Clemente has such a huge following that I rarely shop for his cards. I would say 90% of the cards I own are from blog trades.
Dennis always jokes with me because whenever I talk about Frank Thomas it is always prefaced "The Real" or "The Original" Frank Thomas. The reason I do this is that he would actually sign many of his items like that. This is a 1954 Bowman in nice shape!
This is just the start of great Pops cards. This is the 74 Topps version which is nice with the black and gold trim.

The archetype of the modern closer Mr. Roy Face. 
Maz hasn't been as active with the Pirates in recent years. I hope his health is ok. This is a cool shot from the 70 set.
How about some more Pops!!!!

A much younger Maz in the 1960 Topps. Little does he know he will hit one of the most memorable homeruns in baseball history at the end of the season. 

I love the 53 set and the old time Pirates logo! 

That was the vintage portion of the trade. Plenty of wow in that bunch with the likes of Pops, Clemente and Maz. Let's see the collegiate portion.

These Gold Zone parallels can be a pain to locate. I was happy to see this one. My Slaton and Pat White collections are by far the biggest in my WVU collection so parallels like these are where most of my focus is. Great addition.

Your head might explode trying to locate all the parallels in SPX. The /199 version has a nice patch that is very cool. I'm sad that Slaton didn't get to stay in the NFL, but at last check he is still going strong in Canada and even was featured in the last CFL card set.

Charles Sims only played one year at WVU, but you could tell he was an NFL guy. Right now he is seeing 20-25 snaps in Tampa and has done some good damage receiving the ball. He looks to have a nice career ahead of him.

Big fan of the Ultra sets. Get a nice shot of the mid to late 90's WVU uniform. I have a lot of fond memories of Bulger putting up huge numbers while I was in junior high/high school.

Stat line parallels are always cool. 

I'm always taken back to my elementary school years when I see sets like K'mart. My mom would often buy me these as gifts for birthday's and Xmas. Did any of you have Ames stores!
Oliver Perez rocketed onto the scene for the Pirates and fell back to earth just as quick. He has reinvented himself as a reliever.
I love this on card signature. Ultimate Collection was another parallel crazy set, but all the autos were on card and awesome looking.
This is a new parallel from the Panini Cooperstown set which is /75. The set is awesome and I hope to maybe open a box if the price drops some.

I have a few variations of this card, but this is the nicest patch of all of them. Looks like part of the name. Stedman and Tavon are getting more and more involved in the Rams offense which is nice to see. 

Now for the main event.
Oh yeah! A 1/1 printing plate from 2015 Gypsy Queen. Dennis warned me in his note that this trade package really POPS. It was a nice play on words into this great Stargell themed package. 

Looks like it is my turn again Dennis.  I have already accumulated a few things, but nothing that really stands out as of yet. Rest assured I will return the favor. Thanks so much for putting together such a well thought out trade package. 

Thanks for reading.