Results tagged ‘ Hall Of Fame ’

My Review of 2012 Panini Prime Cuts & Cooperstown

I made the decision to not blog about Josh Hamilton and/or R.A. Dickey because I didn’t really feel there was that much I could say that wasn’t already being said. I might decide to talk about them at a later point in time, but right now I’d like to focus my attention on baseball cards; more specifically, Panini America baseball cards.

I recently broke open a box of 2012 Panini Prime Cuts and 2012 Panini Cooperstown, with the purpose of providing my own personal review of the products. I’ll start with my thoughts on 2012 Panini Cooperstown.

2012 Panini Cooperstown runs anywhere from 80-90 dollars a box (depending on who you buy from), but you certainly get plenty of cards for your money. As its name would suggest, Cooperstown focuses on players that have made it into the Hall of Fame, as each card of the 200-card base set is of a HOF’er:

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Each individual box contains a total of 24 packs, with 5 cards per pack, for a grand total of 220 cards per box. Of the 220 cards, at least one is guaranteed to be autographed, with the chance for you to pull randomly inserted cut signatures of former greats such as Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax, and Dizzy Dean, to name a few. The autograph I received was that of Peter Gammons (numbered 165/300):

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Nothing super fantastic, but still an autograph of a well known baseball writer.

Each of the boxes’ 24 packs also contains a Hall of Fame sweepstakes card that has a unique code with which you can use to enter for the chance to win a trip to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, for you and a guest:

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Each code entered is another chance at winning the trip; thus, the more boxes you buy, and the more codes you acquire and enter, the better your chances become at winning the great trip. So if nothing else, this product is definitely worth buying if just for that reason alone. (I mean, who doesn’t like the chance to win a free trip?!)

The other Panini baseball product I was lucky enough to break was a box of 2012 Panini Prime Cuts.

Prime Cuts will run you a bit more than Cooperstown–with each box costing around 150 dollars–but you stand a better chance of getting your money back out of it. Unlike Cooperstown, Prime Cuts isn’t limited to just Hall of Famers, but instead it’s a combination of both former greats and current stars.

You only receive two cards per box, but each box is guaranteed to contain at least one autographed card; with names such as Stan Musial, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, and Pete Rose being possible:

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Of the box I opened, the first card pulled was a Ryan Howard jersey card (numbered 19/99):

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A good looking card, of a great player, but nothing compared to my next pull.

Card number two of the box was an autographed ‘CHARLIE HUSTLE’ game used memorabilia booklet of Pete Rose (numbered 9/25):

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If that card alone doesn’t prove to you that Prime Cuts is one of the best baseball products out there, then you’ll never be convinced.

Of the two products I opened, I’d have to give Prime Cuts the upper hand over Cooperstown. Though, I could be feeling that way just because of the sick card I pulled. (Who knows?) Either way, I feel that both of these products are outstanding.

It really comes down to what you like, in terms of which would better suit you. If you’re big on receiving tons of cards for your money, then Prime Cuts (with its two cards) isn’t for you. You would be better off picking up a box of Cooperstown. However, if you enjoy “high risk/high reward”, then I would recommend Prime Cuts.

In the end, no matter which you choose, you’re sure to pull some awesome looking cards.

I’d like to thank Panini America for providing me with the boxes for the review. Go check them out at paniniamerica.net. And go ahead and follow them on twitter: @PaniniAmerica

My Thoughts On MLB Banned Substance Punishment

It was announced on Tuesday that Philadelphia Phillies’ catcher Carlos Ruiz had been suspended 25 games for using an amphetamine. This coming after a career best year for Ruiz, who batted .325 with 32 doubles, 16 home runs, 68 RBIs, and a .394 on-base percentage in 2012. Ruiz becomes the 7th player to be suspended for use of a banned substance during the 2012 MLB season; joining Guillermo Mota, Feddy Galvis, Marlon Byrd, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Yasmani Grandal.

Since the current MLB drug policy was put into place in 2008, a grand total of five players had been found guilty of using banned substances up through the end of the 2011 season. As stated earlier, a total of seven players were suspended this past season alone for use of an illegal substance.

While I don’t think it’s a sign of the start of another steroid era–like the one that took place throughout the 1990′s–I do feel it’s a sign that certain players still don’t seem to care about being suspended. As long as they can put up some great stats for awhile, they don’t seem to mind missing out on a couple months worth of games.

It got me thinking: Is the suspension of a player for use of an illegal substance–be it for however many games–really the correct thing to do when it comes to trying to stop the use of drugs in Major League Baseball?

I’m not so sure.

Perhaps, instead of a suspension, a player testing positive for a banned substance should have their stats taken out of the record books for their past X number of games. It’s just a thought.

Players might be less inclined to take the substance in the first place if the results they get from the use of them won’t do the player any good after they get caught. Those impressive stats they’re able to post with the help of an illegal substance would be all for naught, instead of the current set up, where they get to hang onto that season’s stats; which are career best, most of the time.

The way I see it, in certain other sports, athletes who are found to have been using banned substances can be stripped of all awards they’ve ever received throughout their entire career. I’m not even going that far. I’m just stating that instead of a 50 game suspension, give a 50 game deduction of their stats. That seems both “fair” and realistic, in my opinion.

There are a couple of reasons I feel this would be a more effective way to punish those who choose to use illegal substances:

First of all, when a player is suspended a given amount of games, it hurts their team; especially if they’re suspended during the later months of the regular season, when their team could be pushing for a playoff spot. I don’t feel that just because a player chooses to break the rules, that it should impact their entire team. Sometimes, just one player can make or break a team, and I don’t find a suspension as an effective way of punishing the PLAYER.

In addition, taking away the stats that the player was able to post during the timeframe in which they were using the banned substance could possibly help out that particular player when it comes to Hall of Fame voting; if in fact they are HOF worthy. (I’m not saying that Carlos Ruiz is a Hall of Famer; I’m speaking in a general sense.)

When voters look at a player that was found guilty of using illegal substances, a lot of voters don’t even consider them for The Hall; and rightfully so. However, if the players’ “illegal” stats were to be removed from their career numbers, it might give them a shot.

Let’s say, for example, a player ends his career with a .310 batting average, with 3,000 hits and 400 home runs. If that player was found to have used drugs during one of their best statistical seasons, they don’t stand a chance at making it into Cooperstown. But, if the season in question was to be cleared from the books, it could level the playing field, and give an otherwise worthy player a shot.

Take away a career best 200 hit season, in which said player hit 25 home runs, and they would still have Hall of Fame stats (2,800 hits with 375 home runs). A lot of times players only make the mistake once, and I don’t think that should be enough to keep them out altogether.

In conclusion, while I’m all for a player being punished for use of an illegal substance, I’m not sure the current policy is the right one. And while I’m not saying mine is flawless, I feel it’s at the very least enough to make you think. My “policy” would punish the player without impacting their teams chances of a playoff run, as well as still allowing the player a shot at the Hall of Fame.

Maybe I’m onto something, or maybe, it’s all just wishful thinking.

June 23rd Reds vs. Twins Game & HOF Ceremony

My day started out in downtown Cincinnati, at the Red’s Hall Of Fame museum:

The doors opened up at 8:00 am, but I arrived at around 10:30. The reason I was going to the museum in the first place was the meet and greet that was going to run from 11:00-1:00, and it seemed unecessary to show up any earlier.

The first thing I saw after getting my ticket scanned and rounding the corner was a wall of game used jerseys, bats, etc., of former Reds’ greats:

Being a Hall of Fame museum there was a lot of this kind of stuff.

In addition to the Reds’ memorabilia, there was a lot of non-Reds’ items as well, including a game-used Roberto Clemente cap:

Pretty cool stuff.

After making my way through the first floor of the museum it was on to the third floor, where the meet and greet was being held. There was already a fairly large line, so I went ahead and jumped in it. After around 45 minutes of waiting, the line began moving, and the meet and greet got underway.

The players weren’t permitted to sign autographs, but you could go through the line and get your picture taken with them, which is exactly what I did:

I realize the numbers are fairly small, but I numbered the photos (in the bottom left corner) so you could identify each former player, with the above players being:

1. Mario Soto

2. Lee May

3. Gary Nolan

4. Jack Billingham

1.  George Foster

2. David Concepcion

3. Eric Davis

4. A random picture of a group of statues. (Put in to make everything uniform.)

Everyone I’m pictured with above was part of the first half of the meet and greet. The second half featured both Dan Driessen and Sean Casey, who were going to be officially inducted into the Red’s Hall of Fame later in the day:

(Yes, I realize the picture is a bit blurry.)

After the meet and greet was over, I picked up bobblehead number one of the day:

The Dan Driessen bobbles were given out to everyone who paid for admission into the Red’s Hall of Fame museum.

After I was done at the museum, I made a brief visit to the gift shop (home of the 40 dollar t-shirt) before finally heading over to the main entrance of Great American Ballpark:

Signs of the upcoming Hall of Fame induction were everywhere. None bigger than the sign in the above picture hanging from the stadium wall. Here’s a closer look:

While I was standing in front of the ballpark taking it all in, Sean Casey emerged from the HOF museum, and was immediately mobbed by people wanting to take pictures, and get autographs:

Casey was really cool about it, as he must of taken 50 pictures, and signed just as many autographs in a 10 minute span.

While all of this was happening, there was also a block party taking place in the street. It began at around 11:00, but by the time Casey made his way to the stage that was set up for the band that had been playing all morning, it was around 1:15.

Casey didn’t talk long, but it was cool to see the fans react to him the way they did. There were at least a couple thousand people packed into the street, and they were all big fans of the Cincinnati Red’s and Sean Casey:

After Casey finished talking, I made walked back over to the gates behind home plate. The promotion for the game was that the first 25,000 fans would recieve a Sean Casey bobblehead, and I wanted to make sure I was one of them.

To my surprise the lines were already fairly long by the time I got back:

Fortunately I was able to pass the time by watching a human statue, and waiting for him to move:

Except for the occasional patting on the head to unsuspecting kids who stopped to pose with the “statue” for a picture, he never did move. Never.

Due to the large crowds the gates opened up 45 minutes before they normally would have, and I was thrilled. It was pretty hot outside, and standing in the direct sun was almost unbearable.

As I stated earlier it was Sean Casey bobblehead day, and they certainly had a lot of them:

I quickly grabbed my bobblehead and made my way to my seat to check out the view:

Not bad.

As you can tell, batting practice was in full swing (no pun intended), and it stayed that way for another hour or so. BP ended at around 3:00, and with the Hall of Fame ceremony set to start at 3:30 I decided to take a break from the heat and walk around the shaded concourse.

A few minutes into my walk I noticed a crowd beginning to form:

Curiosity got the better of me, and I headed over to check it out. As I got closer, this was my view:

Jim Day (on the left) and….well, I’m not sure who that is on the right (help?) were broadcasting the Red’s pregame show live on Fox Sports Ohio. I’m 99% sure I was on TV, but since I didn’t record the broadcast, or know of anyone who did, or even watched, I can’t say for sure.

I stood and watched for around 5 minutes before heading back to my seat. By the time I got back the groundscrew were hard at work getting everything set up for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony:

It wasn’t long before the seats were filled with 20 or so Red’s Hall of Famers (2 of which are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame):

The start of the ceremony had each player standing up as their name was called. Johnny Bench recieved the biggest applause from the crowd:

After each player’s name had been called the induction speeches began. Driessen and Casey gave their own but the great great great great nephew of the late John Reilly, Kirtley Kinman, gave the speech for him:

Sean Casey gave his speech last and it seemed as if Driessen and Reilly were overshadowed by him. But when your nickname is “The Mayor” I guess that’s to be expected.

Casey and Driessen threw out the first pitches of the game:

Let me just say it was obvious neither were pitchers in their playing days.

The game itself wasn’t anything spectacular, with the Reds winning 6-0. The most interesting part of the game occured in the 4th inning when Scott Rolen hit his 507th career double to move past Babe Ruth on the all-time list:

Anytime you pass Babe Ruth in any category, you know you’ve accomplished something noteworthy.

This year’s game went much better than last year’s, when I didn’t even make it through the gates due to a rain out. Now that I’ve been inside I can say that Great American Ballpark is an extremely nice park, that I hope to visit again sometime in the future.

The next MLB ballpark I’ll be visiting is Kauffman Stadium for the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby on July 9th. More on that a little later in the week…..

My Upcoming Trip To Great American Ballpark

It’s been awhile since my last blog entry, and it’ll be awhile before my next one. I’m very busy at the moment, and will be out of town for the next few weeks–with the exception of the first week in July.

I’m leaving for Cincinnati, Ohio, on Friday, and won’t really have the time to blog about the Reds-Twins game that I’ll be attending, until a few days after my return on June 30th. The plan right now is to post an entry detailing my trip to Cincy, on July 2nd, but that date is subject to change.

I was planning on blogging about last years Reds-Yankees game that I attended but it was rained out, and thus I decided not to. As of this moment, the weather forecast is 86 degrees and partly-cloudy for Saturday; so fingers crossed the forecast holds out.

Game time is set for 4:10, but I’m planning on arriving to the ballpark by 10:30 am. While it might seem extremely crazy (even for me) to arrive 5 1/2 hours before a pitch is even thrown, there’s method to my madness. The Red’s Hall of Fame museum is hosting a meet and greet from 11:00-1:00, and there are some very decent names that are due to be there–Jack Billingham, David Concepcion and Eric Davis to name a few. Soon to be inducted Sean Casey and Dan Driessen are set to be there as well, so this is a really neat event to be attending. (For the full list of players who are set to be there, CLICK HERE.)

None of the former Reds’ players are going to be signing autographs, but the chance to meet former stars face-to-face, and get a quick picture, is good enough for me.

I almost forgot to mention that Saturday is also Sean Casey bobble head night for the first 25,000 fans. Also, shortly before game time, there is going to be an on field ceremony honoring the 2012 Reds’ Hall of Fame inductees, in which Sean Casey and Dan Driessen are due to address the crowd. It should be interesting to hear their induction speeches.

I’m planning on taking tons of pictures, and will do my best to chronicle the events that take place at Great American Ballpark on June 23rd, at a later point in time. So be sure to check back sometime during the first few days of July for that.

Barry Larkin Elected To Baseball Hall of Fame

In my last blog entry I made the prediction that Bernie Williams, Barry Larkin and Edgar Martinez would recieve enough votes (75% worth) to make the Hall of Fame this year–given Bernie Williams was a long shot being a newcomer. Yesterday, at 3 0′ clock Eastern, the announcement was made that Barry Larkin–long time Cincinnati Red’s short stop–was the only player from the 2012 ballot to exceed the 75 percent of the votes needed to make the Hall. (Larkin recieved 495 votes, or 86.4%.)

Before I get into my thoughts on Barry Larkin being the only player elected this year, I want to take a second to say that I’m shocked at the voting results for the newcomers to the ballot. Of the 13 newcomers, Bernie Williams is the ONLY one of them that recieved enough votes to return to the ballot again in 2013. (6 of the 13 newcomers didn’t recieve a single vote whatsoever.) Although I didn’t see any of the other newcomers (besides Williams) getting into the Hall of Fame this year, I didn’t think that they’d all be completely blanked in the votes category. To me it’s unreal.

Getting back to the only newcomer to recieve more than 5 percent of the vote, Bernie Williams (who recieved 9.6%), I think he will eventually get into the Hall of Fame. Maybe not next year, due to the many great names that are due to make the 2013 ballot. Maybe not in this decade. But my gut tells me that Williams will get into the Hall before his 15 years of eligibility are up. He had average career stats for a center fielder, but when you look at his post season stats, they’re off the charts. Combine those post season stats with four Gold Gloves and four World Series rings, and you get what I feel is a Hall of Fame worthy player.

Now that I’ve gotten all of that off my chest, I’ll get back to Barry Larkin. Larkin made the largest percentage jump to gain election since Herb Pennock, back in 1948–jumping from 62.1% last year, to his 86.4% this year. Larkin’s election makes him the 297th member of the baseball Hall of Fame. He also becomes the 24th short stop and  48th player to play with the same team his entire career, to be elected. Truly remarkable.

Barry Larkin had this to say about his feelings on being elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame:

…an unbelievable experience….almost an out of body experience….I’ve got young kids out there doing their thing, but 20, 30, 40, 100 years from now when they’re old–and gone–and their grandkids, or their kids, are there doing whatever, they’re always going to be able to say “that guy right there”, my grandfather, great grandfather, great great grandfather, whatever it is, he was one of the best in the game. I am so phenomenally proud to be a new member of the Hall of Fame.

Barry Larkin will be officially inducted into the Hall, on July 22nd, in Cooperstown, NY.

Andy Pettitte Calls It Quits

After a sixteen year career, Yankees pitcher, Andy Pettitte, has decided to call it quits.
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I personally, have always admired Pettitte, and think that it sucks he has decided to leave. There is a lot of talk about wether or not Pettitte is good enough to make it into the Hall of Fame. According to Pettitte, he isn’t good enough. He says that he found the game difficult most of his career, and sees it as only players that make the game look easy, as being worthy of the Hall. I don’t know. I think he is good enough to make it. But thats just my opinion. Any thoughts on Pettitte in general? Or his chances of making it to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY?

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