Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Reds Managerial Candidates

The news came out yesterday that Joe Girardi, David Bell, and Brad Ausmus are the three finalists for the vacant Reds job from the initial group of 12 that were interviewed. I'm not really surprised that those three are the finalists as they are probably the most high profile names of the group (aside from John Farrell). I also needed an idea for a blog post so I thought it'd be a fun exercise to explore the group of 12 the Reds interviewed to be manager.

Jim Riggleman
Image: TradingcardDB.com
MLB Managerial Experience: 13 years (San Diego 1992-1994, Chicago Cubs 1995-1999, Seattle 2008, Washington 2009-2011, Cincinnati 2018)

I'll start off with the incumbent, Jim Riggleman. He took over in April when Bryan Price was canned after a miserable 3-15 start and did fairly well. The Reds played very well over the summer but by August faded off and had a lousy finish. At one point when the Reds were doing well, he seemed like a lock to get the job but the bad finish seemed to have scuttled his chances.


Joe Girardi
2012 Topps Heritage - [Base] #382 - Joe Girardi - Courtesy of COMC.com
Scan courtesy of COMC.com
MLB Managerial Experience: 11 years (Florida 2006, New York Yankees 2008-2017)

Girardi is by far the biggest name of the group and was actually a finalist for the job in 2008 when the Reds decided to go with Dusty Baker instead. He won a World Series with the Yankees in 2009. Me personally, he be my pick as I think having a "big name" manager would lend some credibility to the team, much like it did with Dusty Baker in 2008.


Brad Ausmus
2015 Topps Heritage - [Base] #187 - Brad Ausmus - Courtesy of COMC.com
Scan courtesy of COMC.com
MLB Managerial Experience: 4 years (Detroit 2014-2017)

If the Reds can't get Girardi, the other finalist with experience is Brad Ausmus. He won the AL Central in his first year with the Tigers but lost to Baltimore in the ALDS that season. The Tigers went up and down during Ausmus' tenure going from 1st to 5th to 2nd and back to 5th.


David Bell
2006 Fleer - [Base] #260 - David Bell - Courtesy of COMC.com
Scan courtesy of COMC.com
MLB Managerial Experience: None

The third finalist is David Bell, a former player who now works in the Giants front office and had some coaching experience with the Cardinals. His dad, Buddy Bell, works in the Reds front office as a senior adviser to the General Manager. Bell would be the hometown pick as he's from Cincinnati but has no managerial experience. I think if he were to be the pick, some would see it as a favor to his dad.


John Farrell
2017 Topps - Rediscover Topps Buybacks - Bronze #1988-533 - John Farrell - Courtesy of COMC.com
Scan courtesy of COMC.com
MLB Managerial Experience: 7 years (Toronto 2011-2012, Boston 2013-2017)

I'm surprised that John Farrell wasn't one of the finalists but I could see him being a backup plan should any or all of them fall through since all three finalists are also candidates for other managerial openings as well. The rumor is that Farrell is good with young pitching and the Reds definitely need someone to help in that department. For 2018, he worked as a scout for the club and when Price was given the boot was seen by many as the next manager in waiting.

Hensley Meulens
1992 Upper Deck - [Base] #606 - Hensley Meulens - Courtesy of COMC.com
Scan courtesy of COMC.com
MLB Managerial Experience: None

Meulens is currently the Giants bench coach and was a finalist for the Yankees job last year that ultimately went to Aaron Boone.

Charlie Montoyo
Image: TradingcardDB.com
MLB Managerial Experience: None

Charlie Montoyo is currently the Rays bench coach but also managed Durham in Triple-A, as seen here by this card. The Rays experimented with "the opener" in terms of pitching this year so I'm curious as to if any of that came into play.

Tom Prince
1992 Score - [Base] #618 - Tom Prince - Courtesy of COMC.com
Scan courtesy of COMC.com
MLB Managerial Experience: None

Tom Prince is another bench coach the Reds interviewed and probably had the longest active playing career of anyone in the batch (aside from Girardi and Ausmus). Prince played 17 years in the majors with the Pirates, Dodgers, Phillies, Twins, and Royals. Even though he doesn't have any major league managing experience, he did manage in the minors.


Pat Kelly
2017 Grandstand Pensacola Blue Wahoos - [Base] #PAKE - Pat Kelly - Courtesy of COMC.com
Scan courtesy of COMC.com
MLB Managerial Experience: None

No, this is not the Pat Kelly that played for the Yankees in the early to mid 90s. This Pat Kelly has been managing in the minors for a good number of years, including in the Reds system with Pensacola and Louisville. He was the bench coach for the Reds this season (what is it with the Reds and interviewing bench coaches). It was a formality that the Reds would interview him since he was on the staff and had managed previously within the system.

Rocco Baldelli
2008 Topps - [Base] #464 - Rocco Baldelli - Courtesy of COMC.com
Scan courtesy of COMC.com
MLB Managerial Experience: None

Perhaps the most interesting name on this list is that of Rocco Baldelli. Remember him? He was supposed to be the mega-star of the future for the Rays but unfortunately injuries constantly derailed him. 

Billy Hatcher
1994 Upper Deck Collector's Choice - [Base] #128 - Billy Hatcher - Courtesy of COMC.com
Scan courtesy of COMC.com
MLB Managerial Experience: None

Another formality here is current Reds third base coach Billy Hatcher. Hatcher is probably the longest serving coach on the team, having been on Dusty Baker's staff as well.


Freddie Benavides
1993 Pinnacle - [Base] #548 - Freddie Benavides - Courtesy of COMC.com
Scan courtesy of COMC.com

MLB Managerial Experience: None

The final name on this list is former Reds and Rockies reserve infielder Freddie Benavides. While him, Hatcher, and Kelly were definitely considered long shots to get the managerial post. I don't think Benavides has any managerial experience under his belt.

That's the dozen who the Reds interviewed for the vacant managerial post. Personally, I'd like to see them go with Joe Girardi as I think having a "big name" manager could really help the club. The front office has said repeatedly that there will be a new manager in place by the end of the month. Who do you think they'll pick?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Around the Horn: Cleveland Indians

My "Around the Horn" series returns (finally) and this time I'm heading up to the shores of Lake Erie and exploring one of my team collections ... the Cleveland Indians!


The Indians have been around since the founding of the American League in 1901 and had many different names in their formative years until settling on "Indians" in 1915.

League Park
Photo: wikipedia.org
The team played in League Park (aka Dunn Field) from 1901-1932 and a lighter schedule of games from 1934-1946 when they split home games at both League Park and Cleveland Stadium. League Park also hosted the two predecessors to the Indians, the Cleveland Spiders of the National League and the Cleveland Lake Shores of the Western League.


These Conlon cards represent players from the early years of the Tribe. I love the Colon cards because not only are the usual players featured but you also get forgotten players of the era like Neal Ball, Sarge Connally, and Ab Wright. The Neal Ball card I'm particularly fond of as it just shows how primitive major league baseball was back then. The outfield wall is littered with advertising and beyond that there are houses in the background. As for Ball himself, he was a journeyman infielder who played 7 seasons with Cleveland, New York, and Boston. The back of the card tells how he turned an unassisted triple play on July 19, 1909. 


Cleveland Stadium
Photo: wikipedia.org
The Indians abandoned League Park for good after 1946 and moved into the massive Cleveland Stadium on the shores of Lake Erie. During their time there, the Tribe had some pretty lean years but it hosted two World Series (1948 and 1954) and the All-Star Game four times (1935, 1954, 1963, and 1981).


My actual Indians card collection begins with this 1957 Topps Don Mossi. It's the oldest Indians card I have in my collection. 


Jumping ahead to the 1970s now and some of my favorite Indians cards from the 70s, including two players who played for both the Reds and the Indians, Vada Pinson and Buddy Bell. The most interesting thing here is the Ken Aspromonte manager card, not because of the manager himself, but because of the coaches, especially the pitching coach, Warren Spahn. I find it terribly hard to imagine Warren Spahn in an Indians uniform.


The 1980s were pretty thin on good teams for the majority of the 1980s and had only two winning seasons (1981 and 1986) but still never rose above 5th place during the decade. They had some good players though like Len Barker, who threw a perfect game in 1981, Toby Harrah, Andre Thornton, and Brook Jacoby. Speaking of Jacoby, checkout the dark blue uniform top on him. I don't remember that uniform at all.


To anyone else, this would be just another 1989 Topps card. However, to me, it's one of the most interesting cards of the set. The Indians drafted Mark Lewis out of high school in 1988 and it was out of Hamilton High School, which is only about 15 minutes from me. While I never went to school there, I hung out with a bunch out people there years ago and got to know the area quite well. Hamilton itself is quite the neat little city with a really awesome downtown area and a branch campus of Miami University. The neat thing about this card is that I know exactly where those baseball fields are where that picture was taken and it's of a local guy proudly representing Hamilton on a Topps baseball card. As for his career, he carved out a nice 11-year career as a journeyman infielder with two different stops in Cincinnati.


I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that the Indians gained prominence being featured in the movie "Major League" which was released in 1989. When I first saw it, I didn't think much of it but over time it's definitely grown on me and is one of my favorite baseball movies now. It spawned a successful 1994 sequel "Major League II" and a third, not so successful entry "Major League: Back to the Minors" in 1998 which bombed at the box office.

Progressive Field (aka Jacobs Field)
Photo: wikipedia.org
The Indians began the 90s the same way they ended the 80s, near the bottom of the standings. However, Mike Hargrove took over as manager in 1992 and the team moved out of tired old Cleveland Stadium after the 1993 season and into shiny new Progressive Field (formerly Jacobs Field) and had brand new uniforms to match. I've seen a couple games at the stadium and it's a wonderful place to see a ballgame.



The Indians dominated the American League pretty much from 1994 to 2001 with players like Jim Thome, Albert Belle, Roberto Alomar, Manny Ramirez, and Kenny Lofton mixed along side older stars like Bip Roberts, Eddie Murray, Dennis Martinez, and Orel Hershiser.  The early 90s weren't without some interesting players too like Keith Hernandez, Eddie Taubensee, and Jeff Shaw, both of who were part of some of the better Reds teams of the 90s as well. I've still yet to figure out where that Kenny Lofton card in the first photo came from. If I had to guess, it was probably from a giveaway to commemorate the final season of Cleveland Stadium.


Here's a bunch of IP autographs I've acquired through various trades. I've mentioned this in a previous post but my favorite of the batch has got to be Dave Burba, with Charles Nagy a close second.


These cards from the 2000s are just awesome. I never bough any Upper Deck Sweet Spot as my collecting had pretty much fizzled out by then but it's nice to have them now.


I don't even remember Doc Gooden's stint in Cleveland but he pitched there in 1998 and 1999 amassing an 11-10 record and a 4.92 ERA over 45 starts in those two seasons.


Some modern cards now celebrating the rich past of the team from early stars like Nap Lajoie to more modern stars like Jay Bruce who spent the the latter part of the 2017 season with the Indians to help them in the playoffs.


I've talked a lot about the team itself but haven't really talked about my player collections. There are really only a handful of Indians players I focus on with Jim Thome being at the top.


Of course, I can't talk about the Indians and not mention Dennis Eckersley. I picked up that 1976 Topps card for five bucks at the flea market probably about five or six years ago.


Bert Blyleven is another pitcher from the Indians I tend to collect. Not so much a lot of his other stuff but definitely his Indians cards for sure.


I can't talk about the current Indians without talking about one of their top players, Francisco Lindor. These are my five favorite Lindor cards I have. 


I wanted to close this out with this card, my absolute favorite card I have in my Indians collection. I acquired this card in a trade with P-Town Tom and it's absolutely stunning. As a matter of fact, it's one card I actually keep in a penny sleeve and top loaded because I like it so much and I don't want anything to ruin it. 

So there it is, a look at some of the Indians cards in my collection. I know this was rather lengthy but I dug through two binders worth of Indians cards, hence the length. The next installment should be a bit shorter. Speaking of which ...

On deck for the next entry ... the Seattle Mariners

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

2018 WWE Heritage Jumbo Pack


Sorry for the lack of updates recently, last week I was sick with a bad cough. While it still hasn't quite gone away completely, it's better to the point where I feel like can now function normally. I felt well enough last Saturday to drag myself out of bed and go with the family on our annual Target Halloween run. While we were there, I decided to treat myself to a few jumbo packs of baseball and wrestling Heritage. The baseball packs left a lot to be desired so I decided just to share the WWE Heritage pack, as honestly, these are the cards I was most excited about.


This year for WWE, Topps used the 1989 baseball design and, wow, it's works perfectly. For the Raw brand stars, the wave at the bottom is red, Smackdown blue, and NXT yellow. Baron Corbin is now the GM of the Raw show with Drew McIntryre holding the Raw tag titles with Dolph Ziggler. I was pretty happy to get the Ruby Riott RC as she's one of my favorites to watch.


The Smackdown contingent of the pack was far less interesting ... perennial lower-card star in Sin Cara, Peyton Royce who's one half of the "mean girls" duo The Iiconics with Bille Kay, and Tamina who is ... well, I'm not sure where she is right now.


Tag teams and stables get the horizontal card treatment. The Undisputed Era are by far the top group in NXT currently. Not pictured on the card though is Roderick Strong who, along with his tag team partner Kyle O'Reilly (far left) had a great run of matches with Mustache Mountain (Tyler Bate and Trent Seven) over the NXT tag titles this past summer. As far the the duo of Benjamin and Gable .... well, Benjamin is now a singles wrestler on the blue brand while Gable is over on Raw teaming with Bobby Roode.


There were four insert cards in the middle of the pack, a bronze parallel of Lana, a blue parallel of Tony Nese, a Randy Savage tribute card talking about his match at WrestleMania X, and a Bobby Roode card made in the style of the Topps Glossy rookies set.


Finally, there were four legends cards in the back of the pack. The design is very similar to the 1989 Topps Big cards. I like that they used the legends cards in a different design this time to differentiate them from the rest of the set.

While I didn't get any of the top stars in the pack, this was still a super fun pack to rip. The 1989 Topps design feels very natural, not like a baseball design was shoehorned into wrestling cards. I definitely recommend grabbing a few packs of this if you're out and about. You won't be disappointed.