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This is the Padres’ Fourth of July (a.k.a. Manny’s back, game #2) stadium giveaway: padres

I’m fairly confident that no Dodger promotion, past or present, has mentioned any other team, and especially not the Padres.

But it’s nice to know they’re still thinking of us, even when they’re sitting 15 games back behind in the standings. Besides, I think Boston Celtics and San Francisco Giants fans already have the “BEAT L.A.!” thing cornered.


No, not the Beach Boy. The guy who Casey Blake hit a HR off Sunday. The guy who does that weird crossed-arms “X” thing after he closes out a game.

This guy:


So as it turns out, Mr. Wilson was pretty irritated about Casey Blake doing this, after hitting the HR off him.


Considering Blake doesn’t exactly have the reputation of being a troublemaker, you’re left to assume that this was merely an immature demonstrative gesture in response to another immature demonstrative gesture. In other words, I doubt Blake would’ve bothered if he’d known what exactly the gesture’s all about.

Here’s some advice Brian. If you don’t want people getting irritated at what appears to be an immature demonstrative gesture, then 1. either don’t do it in the first place, or 2. don’t be so tight-lipped about what it means.

I don’t think anyone is ridiculing Brian Wilson’s faith. In fact, I’d go so far to say that sport is one of the few places where most people don’t mind outward displays of faith.

You know what though, Brian? Don’t stop giving glory to God. Just be a little more mindful of how you do it, and how it’s going to be perceived. Don’t be such a Pharisee, you know, with the flamboyant, outward displays and all.

Most of all, I know it’ll probably disappoint the Giant faithful, but don’t forget about the meek inheriting the earth, and turning the other cheek.

Does a tree falling in a forest make a sound if there’s no one there to hear it?


Jose Canseco called a press conference in Beverly Hills yesterday soon after the Manny Ramirez story broke. The point was basically for him to say “I told you so,” which is fine, he did tell us so, and to complain (again) about MLB’s conspiracy against him. As you can see, there were plenty of good seats still available (via the

Jose, I don’t think anyone is naive enough to deny there were/are many, many ballplayers on the juice. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking anyone wants to continue to hear from a self-aggrandizer who’s convinced this whistle-blowing campaign means anything in the grand scheme of things.

In fact, the more superstars we expose as juicers, the less weight the argument that juicers had this undeniable advantage against the rest of the field. Everyone from Endy Chavez to Eric Gagne to Barry Bonds is suspected (if not exposed outright) of juicing. In other words, it’s pretty likely that just about everyone is/was juicing.

Maybe it’s time to let go of the crusade. Trying to get a leg up on your competition isn’t something exclusive to modern baseball. And get this — there are some sports where ultimately, it doesn’t matter (ahem, NFL).

On a day such as today, you can’t help but think of the old cliche, “you can’t win them all.”

And then the Dodgers go out and do just that, losing the Nationals in spite of holding a six-run lead at one point. This, without their dreadlocked leader, whose suspension began today.

I don’t think it’s fair to say every baseball player is on the juice. I also don’t think it’s fair to say most baseball players aren’t on the juice. I’d be incredibly surprised if an overwhelming majority of ballplayers weren’t guilty of using some sort of peformance-enhancing chemical, legal or not.

Of course, that doesn’t justify using them, particularly illegal drugs. But what confuses me greatly is the rather high, if not absurdly standard of purity that we insist baseball players maintain. Yet, when any other athlete does it, like say, Shawne Merriman, we figure it’s part of the game, right?

Our culture voraciously consumes all manner of performance-enhancing drugs. For crying out loud, Viagra is a Major League Baseball sponsor! There isn’t any ailment (or non-ailment, for that matter) that can’t be addressed with yet another magical pill.

And yet we react with sanctimony and high piety and righteousness when someone decides to … pop a pill or three? Sports “nutrition” is a standalone industry, with GNC stores everywhere, and we’re surprised that someone wants something to put a little pep in his … whatever Manny needed these pills for.

When its millions of dollars at stake, why are we so surprised that the competitors are doing everything they can to get a leg up on the competition?

Cheating is always wrong. But it’s superbly hypocritical of all of us — as a society and as baseball fans — for us to thumb our noses at Manny and what he did, at A-Rod, Giambi, McGwire, et. al. — when we accept it as part of our culture.

While we may not resort to using female fertility drugs, who among us can cast stones when we resort to stomach stapling, ephedra, and Hydroxycut when it comes to losing weight? Really, who among us is really doing things “the way they ought to be,” o.k.a. “the right way?”

I am honest when I say I don’t care. I didn’t care when McGwire and Sosa were under the spotlight. I didn’t care when it was Bonds. I still don’t care now that it’s A-Rod and Manny. And if it’s ever Pujols, I still won’t care.


The game is still just that. People can do what they want to get a leg up on the competition. We’re fools if we think that there’s ever been “purity” in the sense that ballplayers wouldn’t try something to make them better, if they knew they would get away with it. The only difference is that today’s greenies are far more sophisticated, and they’ll continue to be that way. HCG may be illegal today, but I guarantee there’ll be something else they’ll be using, and something else after that.

So inevitably, yes, it is part of the game; as much as it is part of our culture.

The Good: Matt Kemp, James Loney, and Andre Ethier all had a great series against the Padres. Eric Stults getting another chance to start.

The Bad: Russell Martin, Manny Ramirez, Rafael Furcal, and Orlando Hudson didn’t. Hiroki Kuroda getting injured.

The Ugly: Good grief! I know young pitchers struggle with their control, but to see Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, and James McDonald do what they did three games in a row was excruciating. Granted, I figure Billingsley will get it going sooner or later. But as for Kershaw and McDonald? Not the greatest way to start the season.

At some point, both of these guys simply need to trust their ability to pitch and not worry so much. McDonald’s body language belied that of a confident pitcher. He was fidgety, and his mechanics appeared off after he loaded the bases the first time. At some point, you wish Brad Ausmus would’ve gone out there to tell him to slow down, go back to a windup, and just pitch. After all, isn’t his handling of pitchers the reason the Dodgers went with him and not Danny Ardoin as a backup catcher?

It was nice to be able to actually see all of this week’s games, less the the two we missed while on the road. I love it when DirecTV offers a free preview of MLB Extra Innings, and I love it even more when they don’t block you from recording any of the preview games, as they did last year.

Things to look forward to — or should I say, eventual eBay purchases?

How about a Russell Martin MacFarlane figure, and a Manny Ramirez bobblehead.


mannyEven though Manny’s been here less than a year, and probably won’t be here longer than a year and a half, clearly he would get his own bobblehead — not just from the Dodgers but from the Albuquerque Isotopes as well. But Casey Blake? Really, the Dodgers marketing department thought better of giving Blake a bobblehead before, I don’t know, Billingsley, Kemp, Ethier, or Broxton?

Finally, thoughts and prayers to the Adenhart family and the Anaheim Angels. What made that particular tragedy strike particularly close to home was the fact that I had traveled that particular intersection (where Adenhart’s vehicle was struck) many, many times at that same hour, and I still have family in the area that do as well.

Hundreds, if not thousands (sadly) of people die yearly at the hands of such wildly irresponsible drivers such as Andrew Gallo, and we never hear about it. It’s sad and unfortunate that it takes a (semi) celebrity to die for us to even consider talking about the senselessness of not only drunk driving, but a legal system powerless to do anything more than slap a repeat offender on the wrist — which ultimately, what license suspension amounts to.

How ought we fix it? I don’t know, but I wish it didn’t require innocent people dying for the issue to come to the forefront.

A little late, but just a quick shout-out to a couple of very generous bloggers out there.

First off, from Night Owl Cards


Greg the Night Owl sent me a trio of 06 Updates that’ll get me that much closer to finishing my set. I need just a handful more, which is more than I had realized prior to checking on it. He also sent me a few random Dodgers, after I’d sent him a few random Raul Mondesi cards. Beltre, Nomo, and Kemp go in the Dodger binder, and the rest go into the giant box of Dodger fun. Thanks Greg!


These cards I won as the consolation prize from the group break over at Old School Breaks. My pre-selected teams bore no fruit, so I was the lucky winner of this box, which was the boxloader from one of the boxes he broke.


It kinda makes me chuckle to think of surly old Kevin Brown in front of glittery star. Silly as it may be, that card’s going into the Dodger binder. And speaking of Dodgers, here’s nine more from the woulda, shoulda, coulda been Dodgers file.


Yes, even Sandy Alomar Jr. was once a Dodger. Juan Marichal was also in this set, but I can’t stomach the fact that he ever wore a Dodger uniform.

This quad GU was also inclded in the box.


Given the news of the last week, it’s kind of well, I don’t know. ARod and Robbie Alomar on here, and the headlines weren’t friendly to them last week.

Thanks again Night Owl and Old School Breaks!

So it turns out Manny/Boras, Inc. turned down the latest Dodger contract offer of one year/$25 million. An increased offer, which considering there have been no public counteroffers from any other team, is very generous.manny

Scott Boras is clearly grasping at straws trying to create a non-existent market for Manny. There’s the constant talk of the Giants being interested, but considering their payroll has inflated considerably with their free-agent additions, and their (like the Dodgers) insistence on nothing more than a short-term deal, it’s clear that the Giants aren’t really kicking the tires, so to speak. If anything, this is a lot like the 2006 postseason when Juan Pierre’s agent successfully used the Giants as leverage to increase the Dodgers’ offer to Pierre.

Fortunately, it appears Ned’s learned his lesson about that nonsense and isn’t budging from his stance. At least, not to the extent that he did with Pierre.

Spring training begins in less than two weeks. Manny, clearly one of the best hitters of this generation, remains unsigned. All of the big money players have either folded (Mets, Orioles), or flat-out didn’t even ante up (Yankees, Angels).

And now Boras says he won’t grant the Dodgers the “opportunity” to match any competitive offers? There haven’t been ANY competitive offers, Scott. Clearly this is a game of chicken with the intent of getting the Dodgers to ill-advisedly increase their own offer. And they shouldn’t — why bid against yourself?

There’s no doubt the fallout if Manny fails to return to LA will be spectacular. If it indeed Plans B, C, or D come to fruition, I’d hate to be Adam Dunn/Bobby Abreu/Juan Pierre (heaven forbid) trotting out to left field this year. I’d hate to be Ned, or Frank McCourt.

But in the end, the Dodgers are playing this correctly. Boras is feverishly trying to create a market that simply doesn’t exist. Worse yet, he, just like everybody else, knows LA is the best place for Manny. But unfortunately, we know that Boras operates under only one motive — his checkbook. If he were truly after his client’s best interest, Manny would’ve re-upped with the Dodgers ages ago.


My last post re-started Adrian Beltre thoughts. Beltre was easily one of my favorite Dodgers from his eye-opening first full season in 1999, his botched appendectomy in 2001, and his monster career year in 2004. I totally believed he, Gary Sheffield, and Shawn Green were as good a power trio as anyone else in the league.

Well, Adrian had a little trouble after his looking even better in 2000. Before even playing a game in the 2001 season, he was out long-term, suffering from the aftereffects of an appendectomy gone wrong. Now why a major leaguer would choose to be operated upon in a 3rd world country when he has the option of using any doctor the team has access to is beyond me.

Adrian more than faltered from 2001-03, failing to post an OPS+ greater than 100 until 2004. Of course, by that point, it was too little too late. The Dodgers had apparently invested enough in him, and Adrian chose to sign the Mariners’ offer, which was worth slightly more than the Dodgers’ offer.

Since then, the Dodgers have trotted out four opening day 3B in four years (05: Jose Valentin, 06: Bill Mueller, 07: Wilson Betemit, 08: Blake DeWitt) and will trot out a fifth (Casey Blake) in this fifth year. And let’s not forget everyone else who’s logged time at the hot corner since — Norihoro Nakamura, Olmedo Saenz, Mike Edwards, Oscar Robles, Antonio Perez, Willy Aybar, Ramon Martinez, Julio Lugo, Cesar Izturis, Joel Guzman, Wilson Valdez, Tony Abreu, Nomar Garciaparra, Shea Hillenbrand, Russell Martin, and of course, Andy LaRoche.

That’s 16 different third basemen since Beltre departed for the Pacific Northwest!

While his contract at the time, not to mention his irregular play — presumably requiring mideseason 3B acquisitions such as Robin Ventura and Tyler Houston — didn’t exactly leave me pining for Beltre. But the revolving door since then does make you wonder how different things would be if AB were still around.

And I can’t forget who Beltre’s sharing baseball card real estate with either. Such a sad story was Fred McGriff’s one and only season with the Dodgers. To that point, Crime Dog played in more than 144 games in all but two seasons of his long career. Unfortunately for the Dodgers and McGriff, 2003 was not like the others. In a year in which he should’ve joined the 500 HR club, he instead languished on the bench, beset by injury. McGriff belted 13 homers as a Dodger, but he was still nine short of the milestone.

Much was expected of the Dodgers’ corner infielders coming into 2003, and sadly, they did not produce.

A day late, but the sentiment is the same. Congratulations Mr. Henderson on making it into the Hall of Fame.


(here’s Rickey pondering his next at-bat, just how Night Owl likes them)

As you know, Rickey ended his MLB career in 2003 with the Dodgers. Admittedly, when then-GM Dan Evans picked him up, I was quite disappointed. The Dodgers were tied for 1st in the NL West as recently as June 22nd, but were fading fast. By July 14th, they were in 3rd, 7.5 games out. The Dodgers needed some offensive punch, not to mention a leadoff hitter who could get on base. The trio of Dave Roberts, Alex Cora, and Cesar Izturis just wasn’t cutting it.

So, as awesome a career as Rickey had, he certainly wasn’t what I figured the Dodgers would get to. Nor was the trade for Jeromy Burnitz two weeks later.

In the end, it didn’t matter, as Rickey rode off into the sunset, and the Dodgers finished 15.5 games out of first place.

I thought about it last night, but in all the games I saw in person in 2003, I don’t believe Rickey ever was in the lineup. Could very well have been, but that summer was rather momentuous for me, and I didn’t get to many more games after mid-season or so.

Which led me to think — how many future HOFers have I seen play in person? Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Gary Sheffield, and Barry Bonds (well, should be a future HOFer) come to mind. But I don’t think I ever saw Trevor Hoffman close one out for the Padres (on that note, I never once saw Eric Gagne close out a game in person), nor did I ever see Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez,  Albert Pujols, or Manny Ramirez for that matter.

Fortunately, I still have plenty of time to see the last three in action — with the third preferably still wearing Dodger blue. I rarely get to see MLB games in person now, but I do plan on being more mindful when it’s future HOFers we’re talking about.

It was with great disappointment that I read Upper Deck plans on discontinuing the Masterpieces brand. It’s a shame as it was one of the few Upper Deck releases I actually looked forward to in 2008.

Really, it’s just another in a rash of bad decisions by Upper Deck — not that Topps was innocent of such things themselves — Moments and Milestones, anyone? That they’re bringing back the widely panned X, A Piece of  History/Artifacts, Opening Day, and adding updates to Documentary and Yankee Stadium Legacy. Add to that the decision to discontinue Masterpieces and Sweet Spot, arguably two of their most popular products, and you’ve some seriously senseless decisionmaking.

But as industry insider Steve Judd asks succintly, you have to wonder what this means for the card industry. Can Upper Deck and Topps afford to keep flooding the market with garbage releases and expect to be profitable during these economic times?

As a post-mortem to Masterpieces, here’s a few of the bonus cards that came with the last of my Christmas presents from DACW.


My hope is that these boxes will bring me that much closer to set completion on their respective fronts. However, I won’t be breaking these boxes until next week — busy weekend and all. Sadly, my last two weekends were far busier than my last week — work has slowed considerably, but predictably. Hopefully things’ll pick up again — I’d like to get in on the early 2009 releases, not to mention do things like pay the bills!


This card is exactly why I love Masterpieces so much. Awesome photo, and although it isn’t a painting necessarily, the expression on Biggio’s face, the gold border, really, everything comes together so well and makes this such an aesthetically pleasing card.


And it wouldn’ t be a modern set without all the pointless, stupid parallels, now would it? Here’s Morneau, framed in Green Linen (I think).


I have three copies of this card — one with my 07 Masterpieces set, another in my Dodger binder, and now this one. And what a beautiful moment to immortalize — Jackie signing on with Branch Rickey and the Dodgers. This was actually one of the first Masterpieces cards I owned, having found it while rummaging through the massively unorganized piles of cards at one of my favorite shops.

And of course, the “hit,” an on-card auto from Padres 1st baseman Adrian Gonzalez.


I think it’s strange that I’ve managed to pull lots of Rockies, Padres, and especially Giants when it comes to autos and gamers.

I think it’s strange that in one pack, all the cards were vertically oriented, and in the other, they were all horizontally oriented.

I think it’s strange that both bonus gifts I received from DACW contained autos.

And I wish that I hadn’t haphazardly ordered from DACW, since combined, my orders would’ve qualified for something a lot nicer than Matt Cain and Adrian Gonzalez autographs!