Through the Eyes of a Sports Fan

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By Raymond Lopez aka DJ_LILRAY

I grew up a basketball fan, love the sport, it was also a great time to be a fan of the game. With players like Magic, Bird, Robinson, Barkley, and the greatest of all time Michael Jordan. Over the years, basketball has really changed, not just for the game but for the fans as well. The only time I got to see all the great players of the game was when it was the all-star game or the 1992 Olympics that was a great year! Nowadays fans can see all the great players almost every game, with the leagues “Super Teams”. Basketball just isn’t the same. Back then, every team had a superstar on the floor, players were loyal and as well as fans. I have been a Phoenix Suns since the first time I saw the game being played. Now, with the 2013 season drawing near I can’t even name the starting five (I don’t even think coaches can do that right now). The league can improve by stopping the making of these super teams. If your team is not in the “Big Market City” you basically don’t have a chance. With a rule like that I think players will become more loyal to the teams as well as some fans out there.

Being in the Hall Of Fame is a wonderful accomplishment if you are basketball player and the 90s in the NBA were filled with them, but yet so many are not in the Hall Of Fame. Players like Mitch Richmond, Tim Hardaway,Maurice Cheeks just to name of few. These players made up basketball in the 80s and 90s and yet, every year it seems great players likeDanny Manning or Bill Laimbeer don’t get in. I think the NBA should really take a good look into all the great players and really take into consideration what these players did for the great game of basketball.

Pro sports have really changed over the years with the increase of tickets prices as well as food and beverages at games. The price of players’ jerseys and the fact that they don’t just have home and away jerseys don’t help. Now they have on-field,blackout, Elite, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day jerseys available and they’re not cheap! The plain basic version will set you back 100 dollars. Packs of cards were around 99 cents in 1990. 2013 you can buy a pack of 4 Topps Five Star cards for around 500 dollars. Times are a lot harder now and with players wanting a bigger contract then the rest of the league, it does not help the fan out one bit! Very few players are there for the fans nowadays… Some don’t sign autographs, most get a paper cut and want to sit out the next game,.To get paid to do what you love doing is the best thing, but I think players forgot what the whole point of sports is. About going and enjoying the game you love to play, to put everything you have on the field every game, to remember the greats that played before you and continuing to respect the game and the fans that give up a lot just to watch them play.

This is my first contest writing for SCF, Heck I don’t even like writing papers for my college classes, but I thought why not, I love this site. It’s what the card collecting hobby is all about. About being a kid again and collecting your favorite team or player on a piece of cardboard. Trading with friends and taking it to a whole new level, I traded with people from Puerto Rico and NewYork, while I live in Arizona. This site is truly a great site to forget about the stress of the world and be a kid again while trying to trade a Mark Price basketball card for a Larry Johnson card because you loved the Grandma commercials from the 90s. Yes, this is a great site to relax and look at cards.The one thing I would add (don’t know if it is on here and I just not have found it) is photo sharing like the photo bucket site. Or a price guide would be helpful. Since I never have a Beckett in hand while trading. Other than that, great site and I’m glad to be a part of it! 

MLB Changes

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By Richard Heaton aka Zanderlex

It is true that baseball is America’s pastime and has been around for well over a hundred years, but there are still quite a few changes that could better influence the MLB as a whole. For example, every few years, the world comes together to take part in the World Baseball Classic (“WBC”). The WBC is a tradition that has been going on for the past eight years and seems to be growing. However, the WBC does seem to be imposing a few challenges on MLB.

One of these challenges is that the WBC takes place during Spring training, a time that is meant for all MLB players to get ready for the upcoming season. Those who are picked to represent their country will now have to miss some of that valuable playing time to play overseas.

Another problem in this sense would be rookies and prospects who are chosen to play in the WBC because Spring training means even more to them than veteran players as it is the time for them to show their worth to the team.

How do we fix this? By moving parts of the WBC to another month, maybe even during All Star week. Imagine having the All Star Futures Game and the Legends Softball Game on Saturday and having the WBC Championship on Sunday, which would then be followed by the Home Run Derby and the All Star Game on Monday and Tuesday.

Maybe we can move both the championship game and the semi finals to All Star week, this would allow all of the players to get a few extra days with their teams before the season starts. If the semi finals are used as well, one semi final matchup would be held Friday afternoon while the second match would be held that evening. The championship match will be played Saturday and then regular All Star week festivities would begin. Not only would this be a great way to help the players stay with their teams longer, but a lot of revenue would be raised.

The finals were played at AT&T park in front of roughly 35,000 fans. That’s not a bad number, but if you squeeze the final three games during the All Star week, a lot more fans would end up watching the game because just by placing it days before the All Star Game, it will feel more energized to the fans.

Another way to Improve the MLB would be to add another team to each League. Each league would now have 16 teams, and would be split into four divisions of four teams each. With fewer teams in each division, the competition would most likely be greater because some divisions may play well and have all four teams within 5-10 games of 1st place.

If there are four divisions, there would really be no need for a wild card spot because each league will now have four playoff spots, one from each division. However, there is a way to keep the five team playoff format that MLB now has, but there will also be a way to have six teams in each league compete in the playoffs.

This will equate to four division leaders and two Wild card teams. The Wild Card series will have each pair of teams play a best of three series. After this, each league will have three teams remaining. During the Division series each team will play each other team once. As an example, let’s say we have the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Braves left.

On Day one, the Dodgers play the Braves and the Cardinals get off. Day two, we see the Cardinals play the Dodgers while the Braves get off. On the final day, the Cardinals play the Braves, and the Dodgers are off. This format will allow all games to be played over the course of three days with each team getting a day off. The two teams with the best record go on to the Championship series. This is where it gets tricky, if all three teams win one game apiece, the team with the worst regular season record will be eliminated and the other two go on to the Championship series. The Championship series will be best of five, and then the World Series will stay as a best of 7 series. Some might say that having these four series will extend the length of the playoffs, but instead it will actually shorten it. This is because the most games that can be played during the current structure is 20 which is from one wild card game, five division games, and seven games for both the Championship series and World Series.

This 12 team playoff structure consists of three game Wild Card, three game Division Series (two per team), five game Championship series, and a seven game World Series for a maximum total of 18 games.

It would also be possible to have the Championship Series stay at seven games and then the playoff structure would also have 20 games.

There are many other ways that the MLB can be improved upon, but these are the biggest two.

A Voice in Support of the Quiet Man: Why Isn’t Gil Hodges a Hall of Famer?

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By Pedro Maicazo aka metsmagic18

Gil Hodges is a revered player and manager who led the New York Mets to a World Series title, and the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers to numerous pennants and titles. He was beloved by fans and teammates, and was known as “The Quiet Man” for his gentle demeanor on and off the field. Despite all this, he is one of the greatest players not to enter the Hall of Fame. This has always troubled me, but now I’m really going to look into the possible reasons why he has been kept out.

Statistician, author, and former Red Sox employee Bill James compiled a list of 16 fair criteria that a player should pass to be allowed in the Hall of Fame. To figure out if Hodges belongs, we will see if he truly belongs with the all-time greats, or if he was just a nice guy who happened to play for some good teams.

Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he

was active, suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

I don’t think there is a better way to see if he was regarded as the best player in baseball than to look at MVP voting, the award that is more or less given to the best player in baseball. Gil finished in the top 10 of MVP voting 4 times, (and once 11th). So no, he was not the best player in baseball while he was active, but quotes from Stan Musial and Pee Wee Reese each spoke on his behalf, calling him the best player at his position of his time. Musial says of Hodges: “Perhaps the best first baseman of his time”. Pee Wee Reese says: “If you had a son, it would be a great thing to have him grow up to be just like Gil Hodges”. Teammate Tommy Lasorda says: “He was a great, great, great player. We have to get him in (to the Hall of Fame)”.

Was he the best player on his team?

No. But he was a close second. Duke Snider was the best Dodger while Gil Hodges played for them, but I think it is fair to put Hodges second. He had 6 30+ home run seasons and 2 40+ home run seasons while driving in 100+ runs 7 years in a row. Campanella had 4 seasons of 30+ home runs, 1 season of 40+ home runs, and 3 seasons of driving in 100+ runs. Could Campanella have had a better career if he had not had a late career start due to the color barrier, and an early end due to a car accident? Yes, but sadly these things did occur, and Hodges stats are simply better. Robinson meant more to the game of baseball than Hodges without a doubt, but is he a better player than Hodges? It is difficult to tell, due to their very different strengths and stats.

Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player

in the league at his position?

The answer to this question is a resounding yes. During the 1950s, he led all Major League first basemen in home runs, games, at bats, runs, hits, RBI, total bases, and extra base hits. He was and 8 time all-star, the most of any first basemen while he played, and won the first 3 Gold Gloves ever awarded. Among all players, regardless of position, Hodges was second in home runs and RBI during the 1950s.

Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

Gil Hodges had an impact on just about every NL pennant race from 1948 to 1959. He won 2 World Series and 7 NL pennants. He is known for his disastrous performance in the 1952 World Series, where he started 0 for 21, but should be recognized for his important contributions in the Dodgers 1955 World Championship and 1956 NL Pennant win. In the ’55 World Series, Hodges hit a go-ahead home run in game 4 to go along with an RBI single, followed by scoring the winning run in game 5. In the decisive game 7, it was he who drove in both runs for the Dodgers in their 2-0 win. In ’56 he had a go-ahead three run home run in game 1, 4 RBI in game 2, scored the go ahead run in game three, and two RBI doubles in that same game. He would end his career with 21 World Series RBI and 5 home runs.

Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after his prime?

From Hodges 35th birthday onward, he played 100+ games in three consecutive seasons, hitting 25 long balls and driving in 80 runs in one of those seasons. After leaving the Dodgers, he had a respectable 1962 before retiring at age 39 in 1963. He fared much better than his teammate Duke Snider, who would retire at age 37 after a weak 1962, an acceptable 1963 and a miserable 1964.

Is he the best player in baseball history who isn’t in the Hall of Fame?

Yes, he is. He is the player who was the closest to induction without getting in. Other greats not in the Hall are respectable shortstop Alan Trammell, speedy Tim Raines, and deserving pitcher Jack Morris. If I had to, I would honestly put Hodges second to Jeff Bagwell on this list. (I am not including players who have only been up for one year) Bagwell was a much better hitter, and added a Gold Glove to his resume.

Are most players with comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?

Using BR’s “similarity scores”, I was surprised to find that the answer to this question is more or less no. The 4 players who are ranked as “truly similar” to Gil, are George Foster, Jack Clark, Norm Cash, and Rocky Colavito. All of these men were never really considered Hall of Famers. Though their stats are alike, only Cash had the character of Hodges, and never managed teams to World Series titles. Similarly, Foster, Clark, and Cash were all never known as good fielders, combining for 0 Gold Gloves. Clark was never the best player at his position, nor was Colavito. Colavito’s stats are impressive, but drop off after he turns 33. Clark and Cash appeared in one World Series, Colavito appeared in zero. Foster was a contributor to the Big Red Machine, but had a huge ego problem, which would result in his release from the Mets in 1986. The player, who matches up best to Hodges, is in the Hall of Fame. This is Tony Perez. 9 home runs, 400 RBI, .006 batting average, and one all-star selection separate Perez and Hodges. They both appeared in multiple World Series, and won multiple titles. They were each one of the best on their team, but Perez has 0 Gold Gloves. These two men are extremely similar, yet Perez made the Hall of Fame in 2000.

Do the players’ numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

In James official standards, he is just short, just like his current efforts to get into the Hall. His rank on the Gray Ink scale is 128, an average Hall of Famer would have 144. On the Black Ink scale he has a score of 2, a Hall of Famer would have 27. By the Hall of Fame monitor scale he has a score of 83, while a likely Hall of Famer would rank with 100. Last, on the Hall of Fame Standards scale, he has 32 points, while an average Hall of Famer would have 50. We will have to credit Hodges with a “no” for this question.

Is there evidence to suggest he was significantly better or worse than his statistics suggest he was?

He was the best first baseman fielding-wise of his time, missed three years early in his career due to World War II, and is one of the most respected players and leaders of his day.

Is he the best eligible player at his position that isn’t in the Hall of Fame?

Now that Orlando Cepeda and Tony Perez are in, he is the best eligible player at his position besides Bagwell. Don Mattingly and Keith Hernandez do not have the offensive stats to make the Hall of Fame, and the only other comparison would be Steve Garvey, who is closer to the Hall of Fame standards set by James, but has never received even half of the votes necessary.

How many MVP type seasons did he have? Did he ever win? If not, how many times was he close?

He had MVP quality seasons in 1951 and 1954. In 1954 his 42 home runs and 130 RBI while playing in every game of the season with a .302 average were not enough, as he finished 10th, behind pitchers Robin Roberts and Johnny Antonelli. Teammates Pee Wee Reese and Duke Snider, and Al Dark, Stan Musial, and Joe Adcock, who all had worse home run and RBI numbers than Hodges, with Dark hitting lower than Hodges. While Willie Mays won, with less home runs and RBI than Hodges, it was 2nd place finisher Ted Kluszewski who deserved the award. Putting up better numbers than anyone else in the league. In 1951, Hodges was hurt by a low average as he finished 16th in the voting, but deserved to be in the top ten.

How many All-Star games was he selected to? Are most of the other players with this many selections in the Hall of Fame?

Hodges had 8 selections including 7 in a row. 14 players with 8 selections are in the Hall of Fame.

If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

This is the toughest of all. The answer to this is no. The protection he got with Snider hitting above him really helped him, and without Snider, the Dodgers would be contender, but probably not a pennant winner. They would need an additional bat in that lineup, Hodges and Campanella with Robinson and Reese and the top would not be enough.

What impact did he have on baseball history, rule changes, new equipment or legal matters?

He certainly didn’t have an impact on new equipment, legal matters, or rule changes. But history remembers him as a kind hearted hero, slugger, and a great role model for any fan of the game.

Did he make a positive contribution to the game outside of his playing career, through off-the-field events or as a coach, manager, or executive?

He made a huge contribution, managing the 1969 Mets to their first World Championship and changing the perception of the team forever. The Mets, for these contributions retired Hodges’ number, 14. Sadly, while still managing, he passed away, leaving us to wonder if he could have helped the game in another way.

Did he uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs its voters to consider?

100% yes, Hodges absolutely upheld the standards of sportsmanship. He won the Lou Gehrig Award, given to the player displaying the most character and sportsmanship in 1959. He is considered one of the nicest guys in baseball history. Treated his teammates with dignity and respect, which was what he received from them in return. Besides the respect of his teammates, family members, and newspaper writers, the players he managed all refer to him in the highest regard (except for Hawk Harrelson, who I will never understand). Due to this, he was given the nickname “Quiet Man”.

Wrap-up: Is Hodges a Hall of Famer? Yes, he meets 10 of the 16 criteria for a Hall of Famer (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 15, 16). The only reason that I don’t say 11, is that if I’m using Bill James stats, it is only fair to put Garvey ahead of Hodges.

Hall of Famer?

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By Kyle Gillbraith aka TheNati#22

Is Ken Riley the most underrated defensive back to ever play in the NFL? I think so and here is why…

Riley played 15 seasons from 1969 to1983 all with the Cincinnati Bengals. In that time, he amassed 65 interceptions, 596 return yards off interceptions, 18 fumble recoveries and 5 interceptions returned for touchdowns. These numbers are good for 5th all-time in career interceptions and where are the 4 guys in front of Riley? All 4 are in the hall of fame, 7 of the top 11 all-time interception leaders are in the Hall of Fame 3 of them with less career picks than Riley. The only player with a real shot at passing Riley is Ed Reed who is sitting at 61 career interceptions and most would agree Reed is a sure fire Hall of Famer and possibly the best safety to ever play. After Reed, the only active player that’s close is Charles Woodson who is at 55 and he’s another player that will probably be in the Hall of Fame even if he does not pass Riley.

It’s not just that Riley is not in the Hall of Fame that bothers me. It’s that he got very little recognition throughout his entire career. Not one time did he make the Pro Bowl or the AFL all-star game! While recording 9 interceptions and 8 interceptions in a single season and at least 3 picks or more in 12 of his 15 seasons. The fact that such an excellent player has got little to no attention from the Hall of Fame voters irritates me. I understand that most of the teams he played on were not very good, but such a difference maker deserves consideration.

To be above average in the NFL for 15 years and only play for one team is increasingly rare in the league and for one to have had the impact Riley had for his entire career and yet get no recognition is absurd. Part of the problem is that Riley was a quiet guy… He did not showboat and he rarely celebrated his play. He just did his job and did it well for longer than most could ever hope to last in the NFL. He was a major player in the early ‘80s super bowl run the Bengals made with 5 interceptions. Ultimately they lost the big game to the 49ers. In Riley’s final season in 1983 he grabbed 8 interceptions and scored 2 touchdowns as a 36 year old corner in the NFL. These numbers are excellent and well deserving of joining his old teammate Anthony Munoz in the Hall of Fame.

My concern is that since he was such a low key player, he will get forgotten about and may never get in. That is why I am trying to bring this to the attention of as many people as I can. Not just because I am a Bengals fan, but because I have always been a fan of the underdog, the low key players are usually my favorites. One of my favorite players all-time is Fred Taylor. He was an excellent running back but got almost no attention! However, that is a story for another day! Back on the topic of the Hall of Famer that should be Ken Riley. I know there are numerous articles chronicling the career of Riley and the injustice of him not being in the hall of fame. What I do not understand is how all this chatter has gone unnoticed by the Hall of Fame voters. His career numbers alone are worthy of the Hall but add in that he was a good character low key guy who was dedicated to one franchise his entire career and he is everything most people want in a player.

I hope that like the recent inductee Cris Carter (GO BUCKS!!!) Riley will one day be inducted into the Hall. As long as there are people lobbying for him and sharing just how good he was for 15 years the right outcome will eventually happen. I know there is a log jam of various players almost every year most of which are well deserving of the Hall but there are few who have been ignored by voters for as long as Riley has been. Get this man a Bronze Bust in the Hall while he is still around to enjoy it!!!

MLB Adventures continues

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By Kobe Lorendo aka kobewild99

This article is going to be about my adventures. A few months ago, I made an entry about my adventures and said that I would update along the way. Well, this is my update to MLB Adventures.

Card shows

My adventure continues with me going to a Duluth card show for my birthday. For the card show I always bring a fun game, well the game this time was Plinko from the popular game show “The Price is Right. ” We only had one person play the game and that was my friend and sadly he returned the cards and said to keep them because they where common cards that he could easily get. We also noticed that none of the other games where going well though but I probably spent about $10-$15 on a game that you roll a pair of dice twice what ever number they add up to you would get a jersey card labeled that number or an auto. The prizes for my game was if you landed in 4 slots you would get a pack of baseball cards (cards I had in boxes that I have been trying to get rid of for 3 years now) and in the middle slot you would get an autograph card. I was mad how it was going but I got over it when before we left I won a football Peterson jersey worth about $10 then traded that for a $10 plaque of Paul Molitor from the Brewers’ Hall of Fame. I also got about 5 cards that were from $10-$15 I grabbed the most expansive left then I got my first actor clothing card.

Games of All Sorts

When it comes to baseball games I have to sadly say I have not watched any games yet and I have heard the Brewers have been doing badly this season so instead of me cheering them on I switched to cheering for Prince Fielder’s team; the Tigers. For football I am getting TTM’s ready to go to Calvin Johnson and some of the rookies that I think will be a huge success. For basketball the last time I paid attention was when I heard Kobe Bryant is out most likely for good so I really don’t pay attention to it any more… I do have one regret though, not being able to get one of his autos before it was too late. For hockey, golf, wrestling, and any other sport I have not listed I am not a big fan of so I don’t know about the games or the people but I can say I have a big book full for each one and I’m going to have looked at to see how much they are worth all together.

Trades

Right now I have not really done any trades on this site but I am now looking for wooden plaques of any Brewer, Babe Ruth, Roberto Clemente, Mickey Mantle, or Jackie Robinson. If anyone has or can get this please PM me… I have not had anyone I could work with on this yet. I am looking to trade not buy. Just PM me saying you can trade and what you are interested in and I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.

My other story

I have a story which has already made it in the magazine called Old vs. New is you are up for some fun and a game please look it up. It is a game where YOU get to pick who is better and in the end you will get to see if you were right, or wrong. This game will never end and will have a different ending every time so have fun and enjoy it.

Note to the Readers of the First and Second MLB Adventures.

Now I think this isn’t as exciting as the first one but to tell you the truth, I have not really done anything with sports probably since about December. I still do collect but I am not going around to places like I used to and I am not really paying attention to sports right now so I promise the next update I do on this will be so exciting you will be begging for more and I will tell you what there will be more.

Why Baseball Still Matters to Me

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By James Friedman aka JFried1029

It seems that many of the headlines surrounding sports in general these days, and baseball in particular, are the types of things one would read on police blotters or front pages; not on sports pages. In particular, the resurgence of stories regarding Biogenesis and steroid usage in baseball have dominated the sports pages and talk radio shows of late.

While it is disappointing to see my favorite sport wash with such controversy again, baseball has survived many previous issues and came through the other side. I suspect it will again. Baseball has survived depressions, recessions, player strikes, claims of owner collusion, free agency and the resulting competitive imbalances, drug scandals, and even a year with no World Series. Every time there has been a challenge to the game, it has returned stronger than ever.

I can recall the infamous 1994 season when a player strike ended the season prematurely and resulted in there being no World Champion. For the rest of that year and the following year, there were many people who were disgusted with the game and the inability of the owners and players to reach a compromise. In many ways it was the fans who suffered most.

Many people lost interest in the game in 1995. I was asked various times how I could maintain my enthusiasm for the sport. My answer was that I loved the game of baseball- not the owners or the players in particular, and that I was not going to let these spoiled people stop my love of the sport in general.

For me, baseball offers a unique mixture of statistics, history, and strategy that is unmatchable by any other sport. While I love football, basketball, and hockey, there is nothing like a tense late season baseball game with a close score for suspense and action.

A while back, I read an interesting perspective on the whole baseball drug scandal. I cannot recall the source but the premise of the story was that Mickey Mantle, an icon of the sport and arguably the king of the card collecting hobby abused alcohol during his playing career, a drug if you will, that served to diminish his abilities and hasten the end of his career. In spite of this, Mantle to this day is universally loved and revered among sports fans.

On the other hand, Barry Bonds, if he did in fact knowingly take drugs, took drugs that would enhance and lengthen his career and make him a better ballplayer, and a greater spectacle for fans. While drug taking is arguably cheating, one could say he risked long-term health effects and years off his life to be a better player. Yet he is now universally reviled as a villain of the steroid era.

In the end, baseball and its players are a reflection of society as a whole, with a cross-section of people from varying backgrounds. They suffer through many of the same errors that we as a people do- it’s just that their lives are played out on a stage before us.

It is in some ways the flaws and humanity of the very people who play the sport that make it such great theatre for us all. The drama of imperfect people playing a near-perfect game is part of what makes the game of baseball so attractive to us.

The rich tradition and history of the sport is a large part of our American heritage and has become a significant part of childhood the world over. All of the scandals in the history and future of the game does not tarnish memories or great plays, players, games, and seasons.

Sometimes we have to awaken the little child that still lives in all of us to remember why we love the sport. If negative headlines about baseball discourage, go to any little league field or sandlot on a summer day and watch the kids playing for the pure enjoyment of the sport.

On the other stage of the spectrum, listen to older people tell tales nostalgically about the star players from their eras: DiMaggio, Williams, Musial, Jackie Robinson… In the end, sports in general and specifically baseball is one of the greatest bridges across generations that we will ever have. And that is and always will be worth preserving.