Sunday, January 8, 2017

2016 Year in Review


2016 Year in Review

In the current world (and not that of 30 year old baseball cards), 2016 saw Tim Wallach join Don Mattingly in Miami as the Marlins bench coach.  This was a bit bitter sweet, as while it was nice to see the Wallach/Mattingly combo continue, it meant Wallach was once again passed over for a managerial spot.  That was bitterly disappointing, as most the guys getting hired as managers don't have anywhere near the resume of Wallach.  The Dodgers going with Dave Roberts was especially disappointing.  I guess they just wanted someone to punch in the line-up for the math dorks upstairs and don't have much value for actual baseball acumen.  So I ended up watching a lot of Marlins game on my Direct TV MLB package.  They were a very entertaining team to follow, and were in the Wild Card discussion well into September.  2016 also saw Wallach ejected from an MLB game for the first time since 2005:

video

While the current status of Tim Wallach has him in Miami, I made a pilgrimage this year to a place in his past.  We took my daughter out to Los Angeles to visit Disney Land, and while there, I made an unannounced detour to Cal St. Fullerton to see the Tim Wallach plaque at the baseball stadium.  I watch a ton of college baseball, and have seen it featured between innings on a lot of ESPN broadcast.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was there a plaque, but also a retired number on a wall.



An unfortunate side effect of Wallach's transition to Miami, was that it meant for the first time in several years, I had to plan my week in Arizona for Spring Training around something other than Dodger games.  It wasn't any less fun.  I made my first trip out to Tempe Diablo Stadium, which afforded me the chance to wear the Wallach Angels jersey for the first time.  It had been hanging in my closet collecting dust for about ten years.


Sadly, Tempe Diablo was a major disappointment.  I had fallen in love with it from afar from all the great shots of Angels on Topps Heritage sets the last few years, but as a game day experience it just doesn't measure up.  Traffic patterns getting in are absurd, parking is expensive and not very close, inside the concourses are too narrow, the concessions too few, the interstate dominates most of the outfield view and it just feels cramped.  Unless you're a die-hard Angels fan, it's not worth the effort, lots of other better options to be had.  Like Peoria, home of the Padres and Mariners, which is where the photo below is from:


That's me with SUNY Stony Brook legend Travis Jankowski.  Jankowski carried The Sea Wolves to the 2012 College World Series just about by himself, which meant winning a Super Regional at LSU along the way.  I graduated from SUNY New Paltz (and Cooperstown HS), and love to support The SUNY Schools, as well as northeastern baseball in general (we can in fact play out there despite getting snow in the winter, makes us "hockey tough").  We were sitting in the first row, and I got his attention by yelling "Stony Brook" at him.  He was nice enough to come over and take a picture.  After the strong season he had this year, I probably won't be the only person in Arizona excited to see him play next spring.

Peoria is a great ball park, with a fantastic outfield lawn and great sight lines throughout, but it's on the other side of the valley from where I stay.  So I'm not sure I'll be making it back anytime soon, as the best facility in Arizona is only a short bike ride away from where I stay.  It's Salt River, which is shared by the Rockies and Diamondbacks.  I caught a game there too this year, and my daughter picked up her first ball from a Spring Training game (2nd ball ever, 1st was given to her by Dee Gordon at an ABQ Isotopes game a few years back).  Which made me very excited as I kind of wanted one with the new Cactus League logo on it.  Here's a picture of her with the ball, and my family, still smiling because I haven't had to say "we can leave in one more inning," 3 or 4 times yet.  And finally one of my wife after realizing "one more inning," really meant "when the game ends."  She borrowed the hat, it was abandoned by a group of frat guys that left after about the 6th inning.



(Photo of family removed at my wife's angry demand polite request)

Since Wallach wasn't around for Spring Training this year, I made a point to book tickets to a couple Diamondbacks games when the Marlins came to town.  Usually the Diamondbacks games we go to are sort of random, if we happen to be in town and they're playing, maybe we'll go.  But this year, it was appointment viewing.  We went to the Friday/Saturday games of a three game series, and my younger brother drove up from Tucson to join us.  The first game I picked up first row seats along the first base line, the visitor's side.  Never saw Wallach, but we did see Ichiro up close and personal.  Which made my wife very excited, as unknown to me up until that point, her youngest brother had been (is?) a huge Ichiro fan.  So she took a selfie.

(Photo of selfie removed at my wife's angry demand polite request)

There was also a young couple speaking Japanese behind us with a homemade sign, with the only word on it written in English being "Ichiro."  Shortly after Ichiro's appearance we were crushed by an onslaught of pushy men way too old to be begging for autographs.  My family isn't an autograph family, and I think Ichiro recognized that, as he stood directly in front of us, using us a bit of a human shield from the hoard that appeared out of nowhere.  It wasn't a great experience.  My wife did, after a few minutes, take a photo from the couple behind us, and Ichiro signed it for her (for the guy behind us), and the guy was near tears when she passed it back to him.  

Here's a few shots from the good seats on Friday night:


(Photo of my wife in Expos shirt removed at her angry demand polite request)

Saturday night we did the TGI Friday's thing.  I wasn't wild about the idea of it, but it was the only way I could get approval for two games in a row.  It ended up being pretty cool, and a very decent deal.  You buy your ticket, which puts you at a table in the 2nd deck of the stadium, but accessed through the restaurant, and half the price of the ticket goes toward food/beverage.  And it's not stadium pricing.  We ended up ordering a bunch of goofy stuff towards the end, as they don't refund what you don't use.  Granted, if it were four adults drinking beers instead of three, I'm not sure we would of had a surplus.  It was also Native American appreciation night or something, so we got free hats with a "Tribal Pattern."  I'll spare you further thoughts on the hats.


(Photo of wife with tribal hat removed at her angry demand polite request)

My favorite players on the Dodgers while Wallach was with them, were Greinke and Kershaw.  I love pitchers that can hit.  They've become my new fan fixation (Sherzer is a bum).  The Marlins had a pitcher who was a fantastic hitter, and he quickly became my favorite current player after Wallach joined the Marlins.  He pitched Saturday night.  My "sports fan dream" in life is to see a no-hitter in person.  Prior to that Saturday, I don't think I'd ever seen a no-hitter in tact past three innings in well over a 100 MLB games.  That Saturday, the pitcher than can also hit, was perfect through 5 & 2/3 innings.  It was awesome.  He ended up getting run off the mound and taking an "L," but it was as close as I've come, and I'm glad I am able to say I saw him pitch in person.  

There was no shortage of unpleasant things in 2016, but the death of Jose Fernandez was a low point for me.  I'm pushing 40 years, and it's fair to say, that his death shook me as much as any celebrity death in my lifetime.  For the most part, I don't lose any sleep over celebrity deaths.  It just doesn't have any bearing on my life.  This one though struck a chord.  He'll be missed.



I also acquired a few Tim Wallach baseball cards in 2016, here are some numbers:

Current cards in the Collection: 18,320
Cards acquired in 2016: 2,272
Collection grew by: 14%

Top 10 most plentiful cards in collection

 
1. 1982 Topps .................................. 1,145
2. 1987 Topps ..................................... 786
3. 1988 Donruss ................................. 706
4. 1989 Topps ..................................... 612
5. 1988 Topps ..................................... 602
6. 1986 Topps All-Star ...................... 583
7. 1988 Topps All-Star ...................... 579
8. 1990 Topps ..................................... 407
9. 1987 Donruss ................................. 394
10. 1990 Donruss ............................... 350

Top 10 most added cards in 2016

1. 1982 Topps .................................. 312
2. 1986 Topps All-Star ................... 138
3. 1989 Topps .................................... 95
4. 1984 Topps .................................... 94
5. 1987 Topps .................................... 85
6. 1988 Topps .................................... 66
7. 1988 Topps All-Star ..................... 55
8. 1990 Topps .................................... 54
9. 1986 Topps Stickers ..................... 48
10. (tie) 1986 Topps .......................... 47
10. (tie) 1989 Donruss ...................... 47

Top 10 No-Shows, zero acquired (pre-existing amount)
1. 1984 Nestle ............................. (80)
2. 1985 Donruss ......................... (72)
3. 1988 Topps Big ...................... (40)
4. (tie) 1988 Revco ..................... (38)
4. (tie) 1993 Score Selcet ........... (38)
6. (tie) 1988 Leaf ........................ (34)
6. (tie) 1984 O-Pee-Chee ........... (34)
6. (tie) 1983 O-Pee-Chee ........... (34)
9. 1993 Topps Gold .................... (31)
10. 1988 Donruss Best ................ (30)

Top 10 Most Sent Cards All-Time
 
1. 1989 Topps ............................. 203
2. 1987 Topps ............................. 191
3. 1988 Topps All-Star .............. 183
4. 1988 Topps ............................. 157
5. 1990 Topps ............................. 154
6. 1988 Donruss ......................... 149
7. 1990 Donurss ......................... 122
8. 1989 Donruss ......................... 112
9. 1986 Topps All-Star .............. 106
10. 1991 Donruss ....................... 105

I want to thank everyone that sent cards in 2016, or in any other year for that matter.  It's still very surreal every time an envelope shows up in my mailbox from some random person from someplace I've never been.  I still have about six packages to post from 2016.  The cards have been tallied, but I don't have them up yet. They're coming, as I've already received my first envelope of 2017 and need to catch up. 

Thanks for reading, 

Corey.



5 comments:

  1. Sorry you're slumming with the Marlins and Diamondbacks these days. I'll send you some Wallachs to brighten things.

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  2. Its surprising to me that his rookie card would be the most plentiful in the collection, as its possibly the most valuable. On the other hand, I guess he was in the era of rookie card mania, so more of them were probably saved by people looking to get rich....

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    Replies
    1. @jeff it's totally a result of the rookie card craze. I'd say 2/3 of the are from 100+ card lots on eBay.

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  3. This diehard Angels fan absolutely loved being at Tempe Diablo Stadium. What a fun year you had.

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  4. Looks like a lot of fun. Cool to see a fellow blogger at Chase Field. I actually like the tribal hats.

    ReplyDelete