Thursday, April 28, 2011

4-21-11: Sacramento River Cats @ Reno Aces

Thanks for sticking with me. Here is the thrilling conclusion of my business trip to Reno!

My Co-worker and I were in Reno for 3 nights and Thursday was the only day that we were going to be able to make it to the park on time for the game. At that point in the trip, all the work was done and we were flying back home the next morning at 7:15. We figured we could stay out pretty late and just sleep on the plane as long as we were able to sleep walk through checking in and the TSA outpost.
I heeded the old man's advice who was the owner of Action Sports Cards's and wore three layers of clothing on my upper body. Sound advice if you ask me. When we got to the ballpark, it was about 5 o'clock and sunny, but the temperature was only in the low to mid 50's. When we left it was about 9:30 or 10 o'clock and about 40 degrees! I really gets cold in the desert when the sun goes down!
So like I said we arrived at about 5 in plenty of time to take in the sights of the park and to peruse the souvenir shop. I really have to give props to the builders of Aces Ballpark. It is a gorgeous place to play ball. I especially like the baseball sculpture thingy out front. The only thing that I didn't like was the lighting. I think they could have made the lightpoles look more vintage than they did. The stainless steel poles took away from the look of the place. But that was minor considering it only took 15 months to build the whole thing!
Now the first thing I noticed was the ticket prices. They were quite high for a Triple-A team in my opinion. 20 bucks is a lot to play for field level tickets. All seats were field level aside from the luxury boxes and lawn seating. I remember upper deck tickets at the Richmond Braves 3 or 4 years ago were only 8 dollars and 10 for field level. Oh well you only go around once!
We entered into the gift shop and prices weren't much better. 30 dollars for a fitted New Era 59/50 hat. 35 dollars for a vintage looking t-shirt! I wanted to get at least one memento of my trip to Aces Ballpark so I settled on a cheaper 20 dollar t-shirt.
We walked around the entire stadium for until about 5:45. There was not a bad seat in the whole joint. There was the Truckee River behind the first base side of the stadium and train tracks going behind left field. They couldn't have picked a better spot to build the stadium.
We took our seats and the game began. The River Cats went quietly in the first and Reno scored 2 runs. The game was pretty standard affair until Reno had built a pretty good 9 to 2 lead. At this point it was time to take a break from the action and get some grub on the company's dime. The company pays for food purchases, but doesn't specify where you have to eat! Luckily we sat near a food stand that was out on the concourse of the stadium. I like that you can stand in line and still watch the game. I ordered a cheese steak sandwich, fries and a drink. My co worker ordered the same except he got garlic fries instead. It cost us (well, the company) 35 dollars to feed us at the ballpark. EXPENSIVE. Personally, I wouldn't spend that much on food if I were paying for it.
We returned to our seats and the game started to become more and more interesting. So the bottom of the 8th rolls around and Sacremento had tied the score at 10. Brett Butler who had played in the majors in the 8o's and 90's was patrolling the 3rd base coaches box. One of the Reno players hits a chopper of a foul ball right to him. He fields it cleanly and turns to toss it in the stands. The ball goes over my head by two rows. Drats... But alas, the guy who attempted to catch the ball with his glove totally muffs it and it drops down between the seats right behind my co-workers seat. All I had to do was grab it!
Now I have a game ball from the International League and the Pacific Coast League. Big Claim to Fame! I hope it doesn't go to my head! Curiously enough though. The ball just says "Official Minor League Ball" on it. There are no PCL markings on it. I checked the IL balls and they have specific IL markings on them. I guess times change and it's much easier to make just one Minor league ball for rookie ball all the way up through Triple-A.
Anyways, Sacramento won the game by pushing across a run in the top of the 9th inning. Reno's bullpen was terrible this night by walking so many batters and giving up key hits to the River Cats. The only good reliever they threw out there was Kam Mickolio (yes, him O's fans), who put out a fire one innning and pitched another scoreless frame. After doing some research after the game though, I found out he had been sent to Reno from the big club because he had brought his gas can to Chase field to the tune of a 16.50 ERA!
Overall I had a great experience at Aces Ballpark and I would recommend taking in a game there. Just be prepared for the minor league experience for major league prices!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Not So LCS Pickups #2

Last week I was on a business trip to Reno, Nevada. Since this is the first trip to Reno since I've been back into collecting, I decided it would be a good idea to check out the local hobby shop. This was also the last time the company was going to send me there so I'd better clean the joint out of Orioles cards while I had the chance. The shop that I was able to look up was called Action Sports Cards. The shop was only a few blocks away from "The Nugget" (the hotel/casino I stayed in) so I grabbed my co-worker and drove there.
When I had called earlier to ask what time the shop closes, the owner was pretty adamant about not buying anything from me. I quickly reassured him that I was from out of town and a couple thousand miles away from my collection. So I walked in the door and the shop owner greeted me kindly and said if I needed any help, just let him know. This scores big with me because both of the local shops that I visit once or twice a year (for supplies only) the owners barely say hello or even ask if they can help you!
Immediately I noticed in all the display cases that there were bunches and bunches of vintage cards. Being on a somewhat limited budget (I swear I didn't gamble it away), I decided to forgo any big vintage purchases this day... Plus there were no O's in plain view! I noticed about (8) 1600 count boxes behind the counter just simply marked "Baseball #1", "Baseball #2", etc. I asked him what was in those boxes. He said mostly cards from 1998 thru 2005. Perfect! Those are the years where my O's collection is seriously thin. I started digging and here are a few of the nice cards I found:
This 1992 Bowman Mike Mussina card has been eluding me for sometime. It had taken up residence on my sidebar since the inception of the Most Wanted list. This card completes my 92 Bowman team set! Curiously, while checking over all my Bowman lists, I noticed that after '92 I am missing bunches of cards from the Bowman Team sets. It's odd to me because I am a Bowman collector.
Since I didn't have my checklists with me, I had to go from memory at what cards I was missing. I knew for a fact that I didn't have this Gold Medallion Edition of Cal's 1999 Ultra card. This was a nice card I had to have. I hadn't seen another one in person before.
And what post would be complete without me featuring a strange mid-90's card of Brady Anderson. This card is much better in person. You can sort of see in the scan a hint of the Orioles logo behind the mugshot. The hologram actually looks 3D when you turn it in the light. It reminds me of the 2020 insert set in last year's Topps series 2. I was also able to pick up the Ripken card from this set.
After rummaging for these cards and a few others, I ended up chewing the fat with the owner for a little bit. I asked him about why he doesn't buy cards from people. He said that most people bring in their "million dollar" collection of 1988 Donruss or 1990 Topps and expect to get tons of money for them. He said he gets tired of disapointing people so that's why he doesn't even bother... go figure! I get tired of looking at piles and piles of "overproduction era" cards to0!
To wrap things up he asked me if we were going to see the Reno Aces play (Triple-A affiliate of the Diamondbacks) and I told him we were planning on going the next night. He gave us a little bit of advice on where to sit and to dress warmly. Both pieces of advice would come in handy the next night!

Stay tuned for the next installment of my business trip to Reno!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Trade with Jason of Hobb's Knights

Due to the underwhelming play of the Orioles and being out of town on business has left this blog neglected for a couple of weeks now. Trading has been slow, but I did have this nice little one pop up. This whole trade started with a blaster box break of 09 UD O-Pee-Chee I did about a month ago. Jason over at the relatively new Hobb's Knights blog inquired about a Grady Sizemore insert I pulled from the box. After exchanging a few emails these new additions to my collection ended up in my mailbox:
This Black Bordered Nick Markakis card from the aforementioned OPC set is my favorite card of the trade. Sure it's a little off-center but I like it nonetheless!
I enjoy cards of Eric Davis in an Orioles uniform for some strange reason. Not that its that strange I just find his battle with cancer and playing ball at the same time is just amazing to me. My mom had to take chemo treatments and I know how that wiped her out. So to be able to take chemo and then hit a key home run during the playoffs just makes you think.
Switching gears a little bit, Chris Tillman may be the goat of Birdland right now. He fooled us all by throwing 6 no hit innings in his season debut. Now the poor guy can't buy an out. I've met Chris in person twice and he is a nice guy but I'm really starting to loose faith in him and his 86-87 mph fastball.
And that brings me to maybe the first in a long line of Orioles reclamation project pitchers. Fernando just plain sucked when he was with the O's, plain and simple.

Jason also sent me a good stack of 09 Goudeys for my set which I am getting closer and closer to completing. He also sent me a bunch of other nice Orioles cards that I wasn't able to feature here.

Thanks Jason for the awesome trade!

Friday, April 15, 2011

I called this one!

That is all..

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

2011 Spring Training TTM Success #7

I just got these back in the mail yesterday. I chose the Heritage and 206 cards because I figured the autographs would stick without a whole bunch of prep work. I wonder if these will be my final return from Spring Training this year because the postmark on the return envelope was stamped March 31st. Has anybody sent to Spring Training and gotten it back during the regular season? I'm anxious to know!

So, as it stands right now, I got 7 back out of the 24 I sent out... I guess I didn't do too bad if these are the last ones.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Recent Ebay Pickups #6

It's been a while since I've done an post about my winnings on Ebay but I figured with my recent successes now was a good a time as any to show off some of the nice cards I've won. All three of these cards are of the Nick Markakis variety. I've really started collecting him hardcore because frankly he's cheaper than Cal Ripken to collect and it's really starting to get tough for me to find Ripken stuff that is A.) a card I need and B.) affordable. I still love my Ripken PC, it's just taking a backseat right now.

So, in commemoration of Nicky's game saving catch last night I present to you 3 cards for your viewing pleasure:
This is my first silk card in my entire collection. This card was also the first card I won bidding from a phone. My fiancee and I were visiting my sister's house last weekend and I knew this card was ending at around 9:30 Saturday night. I asked if I could use here laptop but it was fried by my nephew errantly spilling juice all over the keyboard. Luckily for me though, (and to the chagrin of my fiancee) my brother-in-law allowed me to use his smartphone to place a bid. I had a strict budget to stay on and I was for sure I'd be outbid, but sure enough, I won this card for about 10 bucks! Not bad I think.

This card I also did not break the bank on because I won it for around 5 dollars. I was one of only 1 bidders. I was pleasantly surprised with this win.
Now here's a card I overpaid a bit on. I don't have buyer's remorse though. I really wanted this card and searched for it on Ebay for a few weeks before one actually showed up for sale. I guess the newness of the card and 2011 Topps being the "in" thing right now, everyone wants to lock up their player collections early to be ready to strike at the next big card. I'm happy to have it in my collection.