Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I'm obsessed. Addicted. I can't help myself. Despite having a series of posts scheduled out, some of which I was excited to write, I haven't posted anything to Green Monster in almost two weeks. And I don't even have a good reason like being too busy with work, or family obligations. Nope. I've spent virtually all of my free time since my last post doing one thing - reading.

I'll be the first to admit that once I pick up a new series it tends to occupy my attention until I've read everything I can get my hands on. It happened with the Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was in my teens, and most recently with Anne McCaffrey's Pern series. But usually I'm able to go at a normal pace and string a series out over a period of time (with LOTR for example I've slowly been reading through Chris Tolkien's History of Middle Earth series for well over a decade now). I've never felt a series almost literally take over my life to the point where I rush home from work so that I can pick up where I left off at 1 or 2 o'clock the previous morning (and then only because my wife dragged me to bed knowing I'd never get up otherwise). Man, I can't believe how pathetic I sound.

My patheticness will only sound worse when I share what it is I've become so obsessed with. My reading preferences tend towards the Fantasy end of the spectrum. I do stray out and occasionally read other genres (I loved Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth for example) in between my forays into magical worlds of mythic creatures and daring adventure. But there are a number of genres that I've stayed away from because they just don't appeal to me - mysteries and romance being the two heavies. So when my sister-in-law and mother-in-law started raving about this pseudo-romance/fantasy series they'd been reading (finished in my sister-in-law's case) I shrugged them off, thinking I'd never be interested. But my sister-in-law kept on me and I finally gave in and took the first book home with me. Literally a day and a half later I'd finished Twilight and was back on my sister-in-law's doorstep begging her for the second book.

Yes, you read that right. I said Twilight. As in the young adult book that was written with a primarily female audience in mind; as in vampire falls in love with teenage girl and much angst ensues; as in the movie that came out this past November. I am obsessed with that Twilight. And I can tell you exactly why that is - her characters. More than any other literary characters that I can think of, these characters, Bella and Edward, have burrowed their way into me. I empathize with them, I feel with them, I care about them. It's a bizzare feeling to be honest. And because I want to know how it all turns out for them (actually I'm pretty sure I know how it's going to turn out for them, its not Stephanie Meyer's writing prowess that has me obsessed), I cannot stop reading. In less than two weeks, I have literally read over 1800 pages. I've certainly read more (I like to read Tad Williams after all - the three books in the Memory, Sorrow, Thorn series clocks in at over 2400 pages), but never at this kind of pace.

So for those who were wondering where I've been for the last two weeks, I've been in Forks, Washington with Bella and Edward. I'll be back soon, I promise - I'm already a third of the way through the last book and at the rate I'm going, I'll be done before the weekend. I just hope that the withdrawl won't be too bad.

Monday, January 12, 2009

He Played for the Red Sox? HOF Edition

In honor of his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame, this week’s He Played for the Red Sox player is Rickey Henderson. Rickey played for a whole pile of teams (sidebar, anyone know what the most teams a single player has played for) including the Red Sox.

Henderson signed as a free agent with the Red Sox in 2002 and became the oldest player to play center field in major league history with them. At age 43, he played in just over 70 games and still managed to hit 5 home runs and steal 6 bases. Henderson's arrival in Boston marked a curious statistical oddity. From his 1979 debut through the end of the 2001 season, he had stolen more bases by himself than everyone who had ever played for the Red Sox combined: 1,395 steals for Henderson, 1,382 for the Boston franchise. The Red Sox finally "passed" Henderson on April 30, 2002. While statistically, Henderson certainly didn't have a huge impact on the Red Sox, his signing marks the beginning of a critical philosophical shift in the organization. Prior to Henderson, the Red Sox were always built as a slugging team. Sure there were guys like Ellis Burks who came along every now and then who could steal a base or two, but the Sox were never built as a team who could take the extra base on a single (and we Red Sox fans now know how important that can be following Dave Robert's steal in game 4 of the 2004 ALCS). They were always built to put men on base and either score them via a home run or leave them stranded. Henderson was the first step in an evolution that is still on-going with the 2009 team.

Here’s an anecdote I found about Rickey’s time with the Red Sox over on
Buckey Planet:

“Henderson signed a minor league deal last year with the Boston Red Sox that included an invitation to spring training and a $ 350,000 salary if he made the team. After he played his way onto the Boston roster with an impressive spring, Henderson groused that the Red Sox were underpaying him.

Interim general manager Mike Port reminded Henderson of the conditions he had agreed to.

"Oh, that?" Henderson replied. "I canceled that contract."

Says Port, "It was the first and only time I've ever had a player tell me he canceled his contract."

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino telephoned San Diego G.M. Kevin Towers, asking how Towers had appeased Henderson during their contract squabbles in the past. "I was on the golf course late in spring training one year when Rickey called to close a deal," Towers says. "I was putting, and my wife took the call. I said to her, 'Ask him what he wants.' She said, 'He wants a living allowance.' And I did it. That's how we closed the deal."Lucchino liked that idea. The Red Sox agreed to pick up the tab on the suite Henderson was renting at the Boston Ritz-Carlton, which ran $ 10,000 a month.”

Friday, January 9, 2009

Smoltz, Baldelli and Kotsay... Oh My!

After a relatively quiet offseason, the Red Sox have announced a flurry of signings. While none of these are a big splash signing on the level of CC Sabathia or Mark Texiera, I think all three are good solid additions that will make the Red Sox a better team.

Baldelli and Kotsay are bench players with starting lineup ability, something the Red Sox have lacked of late. Kotsay proved how valuable he was in the playoffs last year, with the ability to play both the outfield as well as fill in at first base allowing flexibility at the corners with Lowell (coming off of surgery) and Youkilis.

As for Smoltz, how can you not like signing a guy like this. While ordinarilly I would worry about a career NL pitcher coming over to the AL and seeing a jump in their ERA (like Brad Penny), I don't have this concern with Smoltz. The NL east is about as strong a division as their is in baseball and he routinely had to face guys like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Carlos Delgado, and the 30-HR infield the Marlins sported last year. I don't see the switch to the AL affecting Smoltz as much as it might others.
Now if they could just get someone to catch all of these pitchers (other than Josh Bard)...

Original Heritage - 1989 BBCM Inserts, Part 3

The final installment of the 1989 BBCM inserts, featuring Pitchers, Rookies and a panel of combo cards.

Pitchers -

Rookies -

Combos -

I don't have a lot of the actual Topps Heritage cards, but I do have a few of the chrome versions and I have to say that I like the old BBCM inserts better. It may be the chroming process, but a lot of the images on the 2008's appear pixelated and blurry. I'll dig out the 1990 inserts soon and scan those for future posts.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Original Heritage - 1989 BBCM Inserts, Part 2

The 1989 BBCM inserts are fun because they're like a snapshot in time of who the hottest players and rookies were at the time. Some of the players featured on these cards went on (or continued on) to become superstars, others not so much. In the second grouping of these insert panels we have the outfielders and catchers. Like the images in part 1, clicking on the thumbnail will load a larger image.

Tomorrow I'll finish off the 1989 insert collection with the pitchers, rookies and combo cards.

Trade, the First

I recently completed my first blog trade with Jason from The Writer's Journey. While trading through the internet isn't new to me (I've been a member of The Bench since getting back into collecting and have completed over 50 trades there), trading with other bloggers is. Both of us had recently picked up blasters of 2007 UD Masterpieces and were a few cards short of the set (horrible collation on that set by the way - 4 blasters and almost as many doubles as cards for the set). I scanned a few of the cards that came my way:
Bobby Doerr - Doerr often gets lost in the shadow of Ted Williams and the other greats of the late 1930's.

Lou Gehrig - I really wish that the MLB network would show the video of Gehrig's last game. They keep teasing me with it in their promos.

2004 World Series Champion Red Sox - Upper Deck new enough not to mess with a good team celebration card by sticking Photoshoped politicians in it.

I also sent Jason a few other cards from his want list and in return he sent me a bunch of Red Sox cards:

2008 Topps Opening Day Josh Beckett Flapper Card - I had little interest in collecting the Opening Day set when it came out, so I had to look this card up to figure out what it was. According to the sell sheets it's supposed to transform into other cards. Ummm.... yeah. Why not just stick it in a bicycle spoke and be done with it.
Fleer Stamps- These are either from 1982 or 1983. If I had to guess I would say they are from 1982, only because one of the stamps featured Mike Torrez (he of Bucky Dent infamy) and he was traded by the Red Sox in 1983.
2001 Topps - Jason sent me a large collection of Red Sox from this set. I'll have to look at my checklists to see if it's a complete team set.
2001 Topps Manny Ramirez Hobby Masters - I'm finding that I've been able to pick up Manny Red Sox cards dirt cheap. I wonder if this is a common phenomenon when a star player changes teams. Fans of the old team no longer want his cards, while fans of his new team don't want him in the old team's uniform. This is one thick card. I have game used cards that aren't this thick.

2000 UD Victory - I have a number of cards from various Victory sets by Upper Deck. This isn't one of my favorite designs, but hey, Red Sox cards are Red Sox cards. Trot Nixon was another player in the Greenwell/Naehring/Wakefield mold that I enjoyed watching. Good, hard-nosed, team oriented player. I was sad to see him go, even though I know it was time.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Original Heritage - 1989 BBCM Inserts, Part 1

A couple of posts ago I was reminiscing about Baseball Card Magazine and the bonus insert cards that came with every magazine. I've seen a few of these here and there around the internet and blogs, but I don't know that anyone has ever posted a complete series of these before. BBCM's inserts were organized into yearly collections, each with a similar design theme. The 1989 series used the 1959 Topps design. You might call them the pioneers of the "Heritage" movement, putting contemporary players on retro designs. Here are the first four uncut panels of the 1989 series featuring the infielders. Clicking on the panels will take you to a larger version:

First Basemen -
Card Backs -
Second Basemen -
Shortstops -
Third Basemen -