Archive for Texas Rangers

Cheering for the Giants does not make me a bandwagon fan

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , on November 1, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

It’s been two decades since the San Francisco Bay Area has celebrated a baseball title. So with the Giants one game away from winning their first championship since the club moved here from New York, it’s only natural that I get excited, right?

I’ve sat on the edge of my seat — literally and figuratively — as the Giants have dismantled teams over the last month. I’ve been there the entire year listening to local sports talk radio as fans have discussed what to do with Pablo Sandoval, when to call up Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey, and debate whether Bruce Bochy would ever get the team to the World Series, let alone the playoffs.

But here’s the catch: I’m a Red Sox fan.

I was in the ball park this summer when Boston came to China Basin to play the Giants, and I was among those cheering in the end when the Red Sox came out victorious.

But here we are on Nov. 1 and I am cheering on the Giants as if they are MY team. Does that make me a bandwagoner?

For years I have been one to chastise so-called bandwagoners — people who change allegiances simply for the fact that they love to follow a winning team. Like in 1995 when out of nowhere a bunch of Carolina Panthers fans sprouted up amid the Kerry Collins hoopla, or in 2008 when suddenly everyone was a Tampa Bay Rays fan. Hell, I consider just about any Miami Heat fan — who is not from Miami — a bandwagoner.

But here’s where I differ from a bandwagon fan: I know who I am — a Red Sox fan. Don’t mistake my cheering for the Giants as being bandwagon activity. I have not gone out and bought up a ton of Giants gear and worn it proudly as if I have been a fan since the days of Juan Marichal. I cheer for this team because they are local, and because they make me feel like a 9 year old kid again.

In 1989, the Giants and A’s played a historical World Series, one that had a vast portion of the Bay Area talking baseball. People were hanging on every out of every playoff game, clamoring over the thought that the hometown A’s could face the hometown Giants for the championship. To say the region was stricken with Baseball Fever would be an understatement. As a 9 year old kid that was exciting to witness and experience

Now some 21 years later, I’m getting that same vibe. And as a baseball fan, I am loving this. I love listening complete strangers debate the efficiency of the Giants bullpen, seeing casual fans get caught up in the gimmicks such as the “Panda” and “Fear The Beard,” and hearing stories about lifelong San Francisco Giants fans finally getting their wish.

And I am also loving that in some way the Giants front office is being vindicated for the way they’ve built their team. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain may not have been household names across the country before this year, but locally, we all knew who they were. And for years we’ve heard that if the Giants can just get to the playoffs, they can make some noise.

So to the true Giants fans, I salute you. I applaud you for staying with your team through thick and thin. Living with all the crap that the front office has been selling you for years: Barry Zito’s contract, trading a pitching prospect for a wounded second baseman (in hind sight this worked out great), signing aging veterans on the downside of their career, and seemingly missing the boat on big-name free agents who said they didn’t want to play in a pitcher’s park.

This title, should the Giants close out the 2010 World Series, is well deserved and a long time coming for most of you. I’m just glad that I’m able to witness this.

Texas Rangers World Series berth is promising for baseball

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , on October 23, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

How fitting was it to see the Texas Rangers clinch a spot in the World Series on a called third strike to Yankee Alex Rodriguez, whose contract with Texas almost a decade ago nearly killed the ball club.

Much has already been written about the historical win for the Texas ball club, which up until this season failed to beat the Yankees in any postseason matchup, let alone win a playoff game in its own ball park. But what the Rangers accomplished Friday night is cause for many cheers in baseball.

Yankee fans are no doubt upset with the loss. In theory, the Rangers should have been a cake walk for the New York club to appear in yet another World Series. But what the world saw was a surprising Ranger squad, which was very good this season and likely under appreciated.

Personally, I didn’t see this coming. Yes, Texas had the talent to “sneak” past New York, but do you ever really bet against Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera? And the way the Rangers defeated the defending champions was convincing.

Is this the changing of the guard?

With the resurgence of the Tampa Bay Rays this year — only two years removed from their first playoff berth and World Series appearance — and the rise of the Rangers; are we looking at a new core of excellence in the American League? Are the Red Sox — who failed to make the playoffs this year, but were favorites entering the season — and Yankees no longer the favorites moving forward? Will Minnesota ever be better than just American League Central Champions?

For true baseball fans, this really is an exciting time. What baseball lacks in some sense is parity; which the NFL — now considered the country’s most popular sport — has.

The saying in football is that: On any given Sunday, anything can happen. In baseball, the same is not always true. For years we could pencil-in either the Sox or Yankees as an American League Championship Series or World Series competitor. But moving forward, could we be moving toward a time where neither team advances past the first round?

What will happen in the future remains to be seen, after all it’s not like the Big Market teams are losing a ton of steam heading into next season. Derek Jeter may technically be a free agent, but he isn’t going anywhere.

But seeing fresh blood defeat a perennial power house is promising for the state of baseball — even if the Ranger victory means that a large portion of the East Coast fan base will start watching NBA opening-week games instead of the sports’ championship series.

Rookie Card Showcase: 1994 Bowman Darren Oliver

Posted in Rookie Card Showcase with tags , , , , , , , on October 12, 2009 by Cardboard Icons
Sixteen Big League seasons means I am NOT a scrub.

Sixteen Big League seasons means I am NOT a scrub.

You’re probably asking yourself why I am showing the rookie card of this scrub. Well, truth be told, he’s not who you think he is.

Sure, he’s no Johan Santana, but Oliver (or in some people’s vocabulary, “scrub”) is an established Major Leaguer who is a vital cog in the bullpen of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Southern California of the United States of the Planet Earth.

Just because a guy does not light the world of cardboard icons on fire doesn’t mean he isn’t worthy of recognition. Oliver, shown here on a 1994 Bowman card, has spent 16 seasons in the Major Leagues in different roles with eight teams. It takes a certain amount of talent to stay in this game at the highest level for more than a decade and a half.

Fact: Not all commons in the hobby are real life baseball scrubs.

Fiction: Career longevity leads to hobby love.

This is the part six of an ongoing series. To see other parts in this series, click here.

Card of the Day: 1989 Upper Deck High Series Nolan Ryan Football Card

Posted in Card of the Day with tags , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2008 by Cardboard Icons

This hobby is so full of gimmicks. We’ve got base cards, parallels of base cards, inserts, parallels of inserts, parallels of parallels, and then the supreme parallel of the parallel of the parallel, which of course is limited to just one. And then we have products like Topps Moments where there are literally 30 different cards of each players within a set; Topps Heritage and Allen & Ginters where star players are shortprinted so you’re left with a bunch of commons, and Bowman Chrome, where a complete set features 300-plus cards, but you only get three or five cards per pack, and one autograph — the real shortprint — per box. Go figure. Continue reading