The current (sad) state of card collecting

Thanks to Big League Stew, I stumbled upon this little eight-minute documentary about modern-day card collecting. Anthony Stalter watched it as well, so we’re going to discuss how card collecting has changed throughout the years.

John Paulsen: For me, card collecting started with basketball. I was never really into baseball as a kid (mostly because my dad preferred basketball and football, which he played in college), so my focus was on other sports. I had some old Topps football and basketball cards from the late ‘60s and ’70s, but I don’t really remember how I acquired them. Basketball cards were defunct for a while — Michael Jordan’s “real” rookie card could only be found in a regional set produced by Star — and once the mid-90’s hit, the NBA’s popularity blew up, so did the prices of those Star sets from the ’80s. I got into collecting for two reasons: 1) because I liked basketball (and to a lesser extent, football) and 2) I thought it was an investment that I could someday pass onto my son to teach him about the history of the sport (and about investing). Unfortunately, by the time I had some real money to spend on cards (when I was in college), the basketball card industry was so saturated with all the different brands and sets. Instead of going out and buying one or two rookie cards of your favorite player, now there’s 10 or 15 or more amongst all these different brands. The old rookie cards are iconic. I can still picture the first cards for Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, as well as Jordan’s Star rookie and his Fleer rookie, which came a few years later. With so many different brands/lines floating around, rookie cards have lost their appeal. The whole industry has lost its appeal for me, which is depressing because I probably have a few thousand cards stored under my bed that are worth a fraction of what they were 15-20 years ago. I was more of an individual card buyer than a pack or a box buyer. I bought a few packs and boxes in my day, but all those “commons” seemed like a waste. Anthony — how did you get into collecting and what do you think of the industry today?

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Top 5 Hitters and Top 5 Pitchers in LCS Play

Unlike the division series that began in 1995, the ALCS and NLCS has been played since 1969. Before that, there was just a World Series. Anyway, with the two series underway to determine who will play in the 2008 fall classic, we’ll take a look at the career Top 5 in LCS play in both batting average and starting pitching ERA. Enjoy, and hope you’re enjoying the games…..

Batting Average

1. Kevin Youkilis (.531)—Okay, so Kevin Youkilis has only played in one full LCS, last year’s ALCS with Boston, and he just began his second, against Tampa . Last year, Youkilis went 14 for 28 with a double, a triple, three homers, and 7 RBI. And last night he went 3 for 4 with two doubles. Sox fans not surprisingly love this guy as well as, or in spite of, his facial hair.

2. Mark Grace (.515)—Mark Grace played in two league championship series—in 1989 with the Cubs and in 2001 with the Diamondbacks. Despite the fact that Gracey hit .647 with a homer and 8 RBI in the 1989 NLCS, the Cubs lost to the Giants. Are you surprised?

3. Will Clark (.468)—First baseman Will Clark has played in three NLCS—1987 and 1989 with the Giants and 2000 with the Cardinals. He hit .360, .650 and .412 in those series, respectively. It’s worth noting that the .650 was against Mark Grace’s Cubs. That, and a billy goat, partially explains the result of that series.

4. Craig Counsell (.400)—“Screech” is lights out in the LCS (with Florida in 1997 and Arizona in 2001), but has a .212 average in the NLDS and .130 World Series mark. Huh?

5. Mickey Rivers (.386)—Talk about consistency. In three straight ALCS appearances for Rivers’ Yankees against the Royals (1976-78), he was almost impossible to pitch to, hitting .348, .391, and .455. Considering Rivers was the Yankees’ leadoff man, do I have to tell you who won each series?

Starting Pitching ERA (note: we only included those who have started more games than they relieved)

1. Gary Nolan (1.35)—Gary Nolan pitched in four NLCS for the Reds—1970, 1972, 1975 and 1976. In four starts, he went 4-0 with a 1.35 ERA, and 16 strikeouts. Though Nolan was a very good 3.08 in his career during the regular season, he clearly knew how to turn it up a notch when it counted most.

2. Orel Hershiser (1.52)—Orel Hershiser was almost unhittable in 1988, but in all he pitched in five LCS—1985 and 1988 with the Dodgers; 1995 and 1997 with Cleveland, and 1999 with the Mets. His record in championship series play? 4-0 with the 1.52 ERA and 47 strikeouts.

3. Jeff Suppan (1.69)—Jeff Suppan has pitched in three NLCS, all with the Cardinals—2004-06. His numbers are aided mostly by those two ridiculous starts in 2006 against the Mets when he gave up one earned run in 15 innings of work. And as a Mets fan, I do mean ridiculous literally.

4. Randy Johnson (1.72)—The Big Unit has been lights out in LCS play—in 1995 with Seattle and in 2001 with the D-Backs. In those two series, he went 2-1 with 32 strikeouts and just 5 walks in 31 innings. The man is just sick.

5. Fernando Valenzuela (1.95)—Fernando Valenzuela was like a cult hero for the Dodgers and pitched for them in three LCS—1981, 1983 and 1985. Over that time, Valenzuela, who’s out pitch was a screwball, went 3-1 with 28 strikeouts.

Source: Baseball Reference

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