Tag Archive | "Opening Day"

Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2013 Topps Opening Day

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2013 Topps Opening Day

Posted on 22 April 2013 by Tim Danielson

BikeSpokes

Per Box Items:
36 Packs per box
7 cards per pack

The standard sized 220 card base set cards feature a full color action shot of the player. Bordered in white, the card fronts have the player name and team logo at the bottom. The card fronts are trimmed with the team’s primary color. The card backs are photo-less and are horizontal in design. The card fronts also have teh Opening Day logo. The backs include moderate biographical information, a ‘career chase’ statistic, complete career statistics, and brief career highlights or a player quote. The backs are also trimmed with the team’s primary color. This is the same design as 2013 Topps Series 1 and 2013 Topps Stickers.

What I pulled:
252 total cards
1 duplicate
211/220 base set cards = 96% of the base set
7 serial numbered parallels
33 other inserts

Base card front and back:

scan0007

Insets and parallels: (not all scanned)
7 Superstar Celebrations
7 Playhard
7 Ballpark Fun
4 Team Mascots
8 Opening Day Stars (3D card, incl. Strasburg, Darvish, Trout, Miguel Caberea)
7 Sparkle Blue parallels #/2013

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I really like the design of this year’s Topps cards. The very simple clean design is very appealing. I think that the photography from Topps has really improved over the past couple of years. Topps again uses occasional horizontal card fronts when the shot dictates. Topps really appeals to younger collectors with the Play Hard, Mascot, and Ballpark Fun insert sets. There are 10 variations available. Most of these subjects are star players on there new teams at a press conference. There are not many rookie cards, but again this product is made with a younger fan in mind. The Topps Opening Day set set is loaded with inserts and parallel sets. I would have liked to see a few less inserts to get that many more base set cards. That being said though it will not be difficult to complete the base set and some of the inserts look pretty cool!

The Bottom Line:
I give 2013 Topps Series 1 a buy rating. It will be very easy to complete a base set with a box, and some light trading. There are lots of inserts and parallels to chase.

The Final Score:
Final Ratings (Out of 10):
Base set collect-ability: 9/10
Big-hit Hunter: NA
Prospector Hunter: 6/10
Value: 10/10
Overall Quality: 10/10

Overall: 35/40 (88% = B)

Thanks to Topps for making this review possible!

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Josh Hamilton – Keeper or Bust?

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Josh Hamilton – Keeper or Bust?

Posted on 08 April 2013 by Trish Vignola

Is Josh Hamilton a keeper? He is a bust? Or is it too late to proclaim? If you have been following my fantasy baseball woes, I traded Ryan Braun for Steven Strasburg and Josh Hamilton before the season started. Sure, Braun was named the 2011 National League Most Valuable player. Strasburg was named the Opening Day starter and Josh Hamilton can hit homeruns in his sleep. Strasburg may (or may not) have a pitch count. Hamilton might be a sensitive soul but Braun? Braun was connected to the Biogenesis scandal! Was I wrong to not hedge my bets?

JoshHamiltonAngels

You are talking to the same woman who had Joey Votto on her team last year. In fantasy baseball, I’m frankly the Democratic Party.

And not in the good sweeping victory of the 2008 Presidential election way…

Did I make the right move? Is Hamilton’s prospective 30 to 40 home runs worth just as much as Braun’s prospective 30 to 40 home runs (minus the Major League Baseball investigation)? Hamilton debuted for his new team, the Los Angeles Angels, on Monday against one of his old ones, the Cincinnati Reds. He started in right field and hit fourth.

Hamilton was unable to score any hits against Johnny Cueto. He went 0 for 4 with a run scored and two walks with a strikeout in his performance. In fact, Hamilton went 0 for 9 before his first hit on Thursday. In the top of the third inning, Hamilton singled with Erick Aybar and Albert Pujols on base. Both runners scored, giving Hamilton his first two RBI this year.

We all recognize that Hamilton has been one of the game’s best hitters over the past five seasons. Nonetheless, he isn’t known to have the best plate discipline. Chris Cwik of CBSsports.com reports that Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia doesn’t want Hamilton to alter his approach regardless of Hamilton’s slow start. He said, “You wouldn’t ask a guy like Vlad Guerrero to try to draw more walks.” Scioscia points out that Hamilton’s aggressive mentality at the plate has worked for him in the past. He feels at this point there’s no reason to starting tinkering with Hamilton’s approach.

On Friday, the team hoped Hamilton would turn his fortunes around against another former team of his, the Texas Rangers. However, he wasn’t that lucky. Hamilton went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in the game. He failed to work the count and was very aggressive at the plate. In his first game back, Rangers’ fans booed him loudly

As of 10 pm today on CBSsports.com, Hamilton has earned me 3 measly fantasy points. Braun has earned his lucky managers 16 fantasy points. Thankfully, Strasburg bailed me out a bit with 29 points. Nonetheless, I’m in trouble.

Listen, who says that Braun is not innocent? Can you name another person who was able to dispute his testosterone test and win an appeal of his 50 game suspension? I will not cast any dispersion on his name. Nonetheless, if I kept Braun, I guarantee that he would have been tossed from the game indefinitely.

I am the black widow of fantasy baseball. So to those of you who have Braun on your team, you are welcome. For those of you who wanted Hamilton, you are also welcome. At the rate he’s going, he should be batting my weight shortly. As long as he is on my team, he won’t be wreaking havoc on yours.

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Where To Start

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Where To Start

Posted on 04 April 2013 by Nick Schaeflein

One of the landmark days on the sporting calendar is Opening Day in Baseball. This past week officially kicked off the 2013 season with the first full week of games that count. Opening Day is a great time because all 30 teams start 0-0. Every ballclub breaks camp on the highest of highs that this could be the year. The outlooks and optimism is brighter then the shinning sun. The trouble though is the unpredictable element of weather come Opening Day and just how many ballparks will actually see the sun come first pitch.

openingday2012

With the new divisional structure of all six divisions having an equal five teams each, is it now time to look into how teams begin the year geographically? These teams spend around two months in the sunshine climates of Florida and Arizona, then travel to destinations that could have temperatures well below a Tim Wakefield knuckleball registering on a radar gun. Being from the Midwest, Opening Day could be 60 and sunny or 20 and snowing. A few years ago, the Cleveland Indians had an entire home stand snowed out. With the new realignment, should Major League Baseball look into realigning the first week of the season?

In a proposed schedule change there would however be two exceptions to the schedule. The first being the defending champions opening up with a home game to celebrate their championship. The NFL has made this a tradition for nearly the last decade and it has been received quite well. It has become a spectacle. The champion should play host to a new season and be recognized for their accomplishment. To be able to raise a banner in front of a home crowd and have a national audience viewing.

There is precedence for this as MLB has tried to put the champion on that opening night telecast. I remember a cold night back in 2006 when the White Sox played host to a cold, rainy banner celebration after winning the 2005 World Series Championship. Major League Baseball needs to go back to this type of commitment and turn opening night into a day full of festivities.

The second exception would be opening day in Cincinnati. For decades, the first pitch of every major league season officially took place in Cincinnati. The Reds remain the only team to always open the season with a home game and that should not be broken.

Aside from those two cities, the opening week should begin out west, down south, and in domes. This type of scheduling will give cold weather cities an extra week to shovel snow and will the cold weather away. It will ideally limit any snow outs in Cleveland and 12 degree wind chills in Chicago and New York. The ball clubs should break camps in the desert and sunshine state and not need long johns and parkas for Opening Day outside in Minnesota.

In addition, a change like this could be welcomed by all hitters. It is not the best feeling to foul a ball off your body or take a hit by pitch when the weather is 30 degrees outside. Those types of bruises tend to leave marks that will last a few extra days. The upgraded temperatures could help those early season batting averages not look like single digit wind chills in Philadelphia. Fantasy Managers will also welcome that too!

Here is how Opening Day could look under realignment:

On opening night, St. Louis would be at San Francisco as the reigning champions. Also, games would feature Pittsburgh at Cincinnati for the traditional Opening Day festivities and Minnesota at the LA Dodgers as the first interleague match-up.

The rest include: Philadelphia at Atlanta, Cubs at Milwaukee, Colorado at San Diego, Mets at Miami, Washington at Arizona, Kansas City at Seattle, Cleveland at Oakland, White Sox at Texas, Detroit at the Angels, Baltimore at Houston, Yankees at Tampa Bay, and Boston at Toronto.

Come each Opening Day hope springs eternal, and maybe springs a little extra warmth.

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Stephen Strasburg – Is he a keeper?

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Stephen Strasburg – Is he a keeper?

Posted on 30 March 2013 by Trish Vignola

Stephen Strasburg – Is he a keeper?

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Well, I guess that’s too late to figure out now. I kept him. He’s now the “ace” of my fantasy baseball team. I know what you might be thinking. Keeping Strasburg? Isn’t that a no-brainer? He’s already been named the Nationals’ Opening Day starter. However, you are talking to the same woman who had Joey Votto on her team last year. The same Joey Votto who missed like a third of the season due to injury.

In fantasy baseball, I’m kind of the kiss of death.

Last Friday, Strasburg yielded 3 runs in 6 innings of pitching to the Tigers. All right that’s pretty average. Actually, that’s pretty good by mid-season standards. He only walked one person and he struck out five, which is even better. Then Strasburg took a comebacker off his thumb. Yes, it was his non-throwing thumb but shades of Joey Votto flooded my nightmares for the next half of week.

Yes, my nightmares are of the fantasy baseball variety.

There are positives though. He’s not Johan Santana and he’s not signed by the Mets. Seriously though, Rotoworld ranks him 5th. Only Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, David Price and Cole Hamels are ranked higher. ESPN ranked him lower but still in the top 20. The key to Strasburg’s success though is pretty obvious. It comes down to two words…

Innings… Count…

Is there one or not? The Nationals ended Strasburg’s season in early September last year at 159 1/3 innings pitched. Their concerns about Strasburg’s health in his first season following Tommy John surgery seemed to trump the importance of their first trip to the playoffs. It seems ludicrous. However, think about the situation with Johan Santana. After throwing the Mets first no-hitter, coming off of a season ending surgery, he’s now headed again towards… you guessed it… season ending surgery.

Based on how the Nationals treated Jordan Zimmerman’s rehabilitation, there will be a watchful eye but no official innings count. I am essentially banking on Strasburg giving me 190 innings, give or take, in order to get me out of the fantasy cellar. (No, that’s not something from “Fifty Shades of Grey.” I’m that bad in fantasy baseball.)

ESPN is projecting that if Strasburg can give me (yes, me personally) about 196 innings, his line would look something like 16 wins, 244 strikeouts, a 2.94 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. That would pretty much keep him in the elite of fantasy statistics amongst starting pitchers. That also gets me out of the proverbial cellar. If he “Joey Votto”’s me, I’m going to start testing for mold because I will be living in the cellar for the rest of the season.

If Strasburg stays healthy, he could be the best keeper you or I could have ever traded for. A healthy Strasburg has tremendous upside. He’s only 24 and has an entire career ahead of him. Regardless of the little knock to his finger, Strasburg is projected to have no issue in completing the season. If that is the case, he might help me out of the cellar to at least the middle of the pack of my head-to-head league.

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Where Have You Gone Ricky Romero?

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Where Have You Gone Ricky Romero?

Posted on 27 March 2013 by Trish Vignola

Where have you gone, Ricky Romero? The Toronto Blue Jays optioned left-hander Ricky Romero to Class A Dunedin yesterday evening. Class A, folks. That’s the Florida league for those of you keeping score.

RickyRomero

Could anyone have predicted this two seasons ago?

One season ago?

Romero went from being the club’s Opening Day starter in 2012 to not making 25-man roster in 2013. The Blue Jays opened camp by saying Romero was essentially guaranteed a spot in the rotation. He no longer had the weight of being an ace on his shoulder. He was pressure-free and was set to thrive.

That message began to change…quickly.

“We saw a lot of good things and he was fine, but it’s not the Ricky we know he can be,” General Manager Alex Anthopoulos said to MLB.com. “We can try to just keep going, and when you’re at the big league level, it’s hard to continue working on things, or take a little more time, get him back to where he can be.” Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com and of the blog, “North of the Boarder”, reported that Romero was unavailable for comment. “It’s always a tough conversation, but he knows he’s not exactly as sharp as he needs to be, and he knows it’s going to take a little bit more time,” Anthopoulous continued.

How did Toronto’s most valuable pitchers since 2009 collapse so quickly? He had become the Blue Jays’ No. 1 starter. Following the departure of Shaun Marcum, Romero had a 15-11 record and a 2.92 ERA and he was an All-Star.

Yes, things started to unravel a bit in 2012. Romero began the year with an 8-1 record, but he had a 4.34 ERA and 46 walks in 95 1/3 innings. That wouldn’t instill confidence in the best of General Managers. Chisholm reports Romero battled control issues along with “a seeming lack of confidence on the mound.” He also was also dealing with documented tendinitis in both of his knees. Romero went 1-13 the rest of the way with a 7.35 ERA.

Nonetheless, it wasn’t until apparently this spring that the club finally noticed “a flaw” in Romero’s pitching. He was no longer maintaining a straight line to the plate, as reported by Chisholm. Romero had a 6.23 ERA this spring.

“You talk about direction and lines to the plate, it’s basically your balance going to home plate and where your front foot lands. It sounds easy, but it just takes time when you start repeating it,” said Anthopoulos to MLB.com “He has done this before, he just has a tendency to do it. It’s one thing if you’re just not getting results and you just have to continue to pitch and get out of it. We have a plan for him. We know what we need to address. It’s just not coming as fast as we wanted it to come,” Anthopoulos continued.

The Blue Jays knew what was going on last year. They just finally have the pitching staff to make up the difference by cutting Romero.

This is not a death sentence to Romero though. The club took the same approach with Roy Halladay back in 2001. Halladay went on to establish himself as one of the best pitchers in the game. Chisholm reports that Halladay had “a complete overhaul of his mechanics”, whereas Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays have continually described Romero’s changes as “minor.”

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