Bad Sunday for My Teams

This Sunday was just a bad overall Sunday for my teams.

My Tampa Bay Buccaneers took the field for the first NFL game this season and proceeded to get beaten by the Detroit Lions. The last time these two teams played in Tampa last season, the Lions won as well, all but assuring the Buccaneers wouldn’t make the playoffs. I’ve had a lot of questions whether the Bucs defense would be able to step it up without Barrett Ruud in the middle. Matthew Stafford did have a great game and the Lions defense really contained the run causing the Bucs not to run much with LeGarrette Blount who ran for over 1000 yards in 13 games last season.

At least Mike Williams and Josh Freeman still have great chemistry. I was able to snag this today on CheckOutMyCards for just 85 cents. I love how shiny the card is and I love die-cuts so this was a perfect addition to my collection. (And he helped me in my Battle of the Bloggers Fantasy Football League)

Moving on to my other favorite team today, the Boston Red Sox lost another game to the Rays with their ace Jon Lester on the mound. It seems the Rays have the Red Sox number this year going 9-5 so far against the Sox and that doesn’t make me very happy. The Red Sox are a dreadful 2-8 in their last 10 and Tim Wakefield hopes to finally win game number 200 after an off day on Tuesday against the Blue Jays.

I notice when Adrian Gonzalez isn’t hitting, the Red Sox aren’t winning. So I picked up this Adrian Gonzalez card off CheckOutMyCards today for 30 cents in hopes that it might turn things around. Again, a nice, shiny card to add to my collection. I love all the shiny cards Topps has put out this year in baseball so I’ve been trying to get my hands on all the shiny Red Sox cards I can. Plus I have 3 Diamond Die-Cut Red Sox cards (Beckett, Youkilis, Buchholz) coming in the mail tomorrow, I hope.

So this Sunday was a bad day for my sports teams but a good day for picking up cards from my sports teams.

Just a friendly reminder, make sure to stay tuned to the blog this week as I will be revealing the season long NFL contest along with the fabulous prizes I have to give away to you guys who read this site. It should be awesome, so make sure you tell all of your friends to stop by this week a few times. Or don’t, that way you have a better chance to win the awesome stuff I will be giving away.

My First Red Sox Game

October 4th, 1992, was my first Red Sox game I ever attended. I was 6 years old and still remember enough of it that it’s great to look back on. This was also my first experience trying to get autographs of my favorite players. That part isn’t a fun thing to look back on.

We were in the midst of trying to sell our house and my dad told me we were going to a real estate place out in the city that had a baseball field across the street and we could go play catch there so he told me to grab my glove. I was excited as I was just about to start Little League and needed to practice as much as I could so I would make a team as I wanted to join the league early. We drove off from our house in Connecticut and 20 minutes later we hit the Massachusetts border. I was wondering why we were going to Massachusetts to check with real estate people but I didn’t care.

My 5 year old sister had a bloody nose on the way, right before we reached the Mass Pike and blood started flowing everywhere. We had to stop and grab some napkins to clean up and then finally hit the Mass Pike. We get to the first toll booth and grab our ticket. My dad very loudly yells, “Which exit is Fenway Park?” Well that ruined the whole surprise. All of the sudden a huge smile came over my face as I knew where we were headed. He tried to play it off like I misheard him but my mom knew the jig was up. I was going to my first Red Sox game.

It was a bright and sunny Sunday afternoon in Boston and we got their early enough to see some batting practice. My dad gave me a ball and said to go down towards to dugout and try and get some autographs, he followed shortly behind me. Our seats were great, row GG right behind the dugout. We weren’t a rich family, turns out my dad got them from his job in Hartford for us to attend the last Red Sox game of the season. It wasn’t an important game as they were out of the playoff picture, but the place was busy.

I went down right in front of the batting circle and just held out my ball and a pen. I had no idea what to do. Everyone around me was yelling for the players warming up to come over and sign. I just stood there with my ball and pen held out. Mike Greenwell, who I thought the Green Monster was named after since he played left field, came over and started signing autographs to my right. He stops one person short of me and then stops as my dad yells, “Sign one for this kid!” He looked at my dad and turned and walked away. I was devastated, so close to getting my first Red Sox autograph and Mike Greenwell stopped at a 6 year old kid.

The rest of my time down there no one else signed. John Valentin was running out to do some stretches as my mom came down to console me and her and I waved to him as he ran out. He just smiled and blew a kiss at my mother. My mom was happy, but I wasn’t! I wanted an autograph! I remember looking over at the batting circle and one of the player’s kids and wife was there. The kid had to be 2 or 3 and pretended to swing a bat and run in circles on the dirt in front of me.

Needless to say I didn’t get my autograph. But the game was next. It was against the rival Yankees. I don’t remember much about the game besides Mo Vaughn had a big double and Tom Brunansky came in as a pinch hitter. I loved Bruno as a kid, he was my favorite player so being able to see him get a hit was the highlight of my day. I also remember a foul ball landing about 3 rows in front of me and I was so excited I was almost able to catch it.

Finally, I remember a Red Sox win. 8 – 2. After the third out was caught, I remember the Red Sox throwing all their batting gloves and sweat bands over the dugout for the fans. I was a few rows too far away.

It would of been a let down except I had the most fun that day. I was able to see the team I loved for the first time. I was able to watch them win. I was able to see Ted Williams famous home run seat in right field before the game from my seat. I was finally able to say to my friends at school that I went to a Red Sox game. I will never forget the sights and smells from that first game in Boston.

It was the best experience a 6 year old Red Sox fan could ever have.

 

Show and Tell: 2006 Bowman Chrome Jon Lester Rookie Autograph

I thought adding a little show and tell post every now and then would be fun. I will post a card that I own, write about it, and just have fun with it.

This show and tell is about my favorite card that I own. My favorite card I own is not my most expensive card. It’s not the oldest card I own. For me, my favorite card is the card that means the most to me.

When I watched Jon Lester come up from the minors and pitch, I knew that he would be something special. He had a great live fastball and a nasty change and curveball. I was mentioning him with the likes of Johan Santana and everyone laughed at me. Maybe it was part of the hometown bias since I was a Red Sox fan, but I kept watching him and rooting for him. Then came the news.

Late in 2006 Jon Lester was diagnosed with lymphoma. I was shocked and surprised. Cancer in a 22 year old? I had just turned 21 and that hit me pretty hard. I couldn’t believe this pitcher I had been following through the minors was just diagnosed with cancer. I was thankful to see it was treatable but I was still sad for him. The days and months went by as I read every last piece of news about his recovery and attempts to kill the cancer inside him. I wanted to send a get well letter but his family wished to keep it private, so I just kept up the positive thoughts.

I had only one card of his at that time. I had a 2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premiers Jon Lester card. It was his first card made and really his true rookie card. But I wanted an autograph. I scoured eBay for a week or two while building up money and finally found one in my price range. For just under $20 at the time I grabbed this card, 2006 Bowman Chrome Jon Lester Rookie Autograph Refractor:

As you can see, it sits front and center in my baseball card case of my favorite cards. It’s been front and center in my collection since the day I received it.

Needless to say, Jon Lester made a full recovery from lymphoma and no one fan was happier then me. I was so excited to see him come back and pitch again one day. I remember watching the highlights of his return on ESPN and the way the crowd stood behind him with a standing ovation. I believe I was standing too, just watching the highlight. He was back! And boy was he ever. Within a year he would throw a no-hitter and clinch Game 4 of the 2007 World Series against the Rockies. All after beating cancer. How cool is that?

Last year, I finally had the opportunity to watch him pitch in person. For my birthday, I was given tickets to a Mariners – Red Sox game up in Seattle. The one in five chance to see him pitch paid off. I made sure I had a Jon Lester jersey to wear and went to the game, had great seats too. I was able to see in person why he is one of the premier pitchers in the league as he struck out 10 and gave up 1 run. The Seattle Mariners Sasquatch sat in front of me and wasn’t happy all game. But I was.

If Jon Lester could come back from cancer to do the things he did, what could the rest of us do?

Note: This post is loosely based off an article I wrote for Sports Card Forum in July 2010.

Acetate Card of the Day – 2005 Donruss Studio Jason Varitek

Last week I wrote about my love for acetate sports cards and my experiences collecting them. I figured I would start a post every week or so about an acetate card in my collection. I will be discussing the design, set, and anything else I feel is pertinent to the discussion. And with 2010-11 Panini Contenders hockey coming out today with their acetate insert set, I figured it would be a good day to start. My box is probably being sent out today, but I have plenty of other acetate cards laying around.

Featured acetate card of the day:

2005 Donruss Studio – Studio Stars – Jason Varitek

2005 Donruss Studio was one of the first sets I worked on in my return to the hobby in 2005. Studio Stars was one of the first insert sets I completed as well. Sadly, when I moved a bunch of my cards left over in Connecticut out to Oregon, a box with this insert set in it went missing. Luckily, I keep all my Red Sox cards separate from the others and they survived.

2005 Donruss Studio was fun because of the city scape in the background. I know it’s been done for years before that but I enjoyed the player on the front with the city in the background. There was also a bunch of nice insert sets with some pretty nice patch or autograph hits. The highlight of my several boxes of 2005 Studio was a Masterstrokes Auto/Jersey/Bat of Miguel Cabrera numbered out of 25. But I always loved the acetate insert set.

The design of this card is definitely top notch. The player is featured in the middle of the card with a fiery background which makes the player pop out from the card. The lettering on the top and bottom is bold with team colors on top of the clear area making it pop out even more and easily readable, even if shown through my back window. The foil area on the top left changes according to the parallel, this time being blue as this card is numbered out of 50. Overall, absolutely beautiful looking card.

Jason Varitek is currently the backup catcher for the Boston Red Sox. He has spent his entire Major League career with the Red Sox after he was traded as a prospect from the Seattle Mariners in one of the best deals in Red Sox history. The Red Sox traded Heathcliff Slocumb to the Seattle Mariners for prospects Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek. Needless to say, this deal would reap great benefits for the Red Sox. Derek Lowe would throw a no-hitter and become a central piece to the 2004 World Championship team. Jason Varitek would become one of the best defensive and offensive catchers in the league as well as the best caller of a game in the league. He went on to catch no hitters from Hideo Nomo, Derek Lowe, Jon Lester, and Clay Buchholz which is a Major League record. He may have had another when Devern Hansack had a no hitter through 7 innings, but the game was called due to rain. He was the first Red Sox captain since Jim Rice and in my eyes should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame someday.