Thursday, February 28, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Pedro Martinez ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

We come to the last of three posts this week pertaining to regrettable trades during my time as a fan of the Dodgers. Konerko wasn't  here long enough to leave an impression, Piazza gave us 6 plus great years of offensive greatness but Pedro was shipped out before we got to see his ascension even though we as fans saw it blossoming already. He is the little brother ( physically and age ) of fellow Dodger pitcher Ramon Martinez. Pedro came up through the minor leagues and promptly contributed to the big league club once he arrived. He was almost always used as a reliever rather than a starter even though he was better than most of the starting rotation. Due to the Dodgers needing a 2nd baseman and Tommy Lasorda's total lack of faith in Pedro being no more than a good reliever he was traded to Montreal for Delino DeShields. While Delino wasn't terrible the trade was. Decent middle infielders can be found much easier than a young budding starting pitcher. Pedro went on to become a very good staring pitcher in Montreal and then onto Boston where he took it to another level and became a premier pitcher. He was winning Cy Young awards with a ridiculous low ERA and WHIP in the middle of the steroid era. What could have been for the Dodgers. They had Piazza, Konerko and Pedro all at the same time and if they would have had a little patience and foresight you never know how the 90's would have been instead of the disappoint that we did get. On a side note, last year the Dodgers traded yet another young budding starter in Rubby De La Rosa to Boston as part of a mega deal. While the sting is not as bad as the Pedro one as we received stars in return I find it ironic that Pedro is now tutoring Rubby in Boston where Pedro became an icon. I don't think this will bite us in the ass as much as the Pedro trade but I think Rubby will become at worst a strong number two in any rotation.

Pedro's authenticated autographs have increasingly gone up in the last year or so and I could never find one that was under $80. I had a lot of other balls I was trying to acquire and I would always lose out on the eBay auctions for Pedro's signature. I finally locked into one that had an odd ending time and was estatic that I won a JSA authenticated version for $67. I am sure I just won an authenticated autograph from a future Hall of Famer that should have stayed a Dodger instead of reaching great heights elsewhere.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Paul Konerko ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

As we continue to look back on the three trades that have been regrettable during my time as a fan of the Dodgers we come to the second one and the least painful of the three, Paul Konerko. Paul came up through the Dodger minor league system and once he made it to the big show he was here for a few months and then gone in a trade to the Reds for star reliever Jeff Shaw. He showed promise but was not here long enough to make an impact for most fans to despise the trade at the time. In the long run til last year when we acquired Adrian Gonzalez it has been a black hole at first base. That is what makes this trade regrettable as we could have had a Hall of Famer maning first base for all this time instead of seeing a swinging door of has been's and never will be's from the late 90's til now. Now, it was never guaranteed that Paul would have put up the same numbers in the NL as he has in the AL but considering what we have seen from him and what we have seen on a day to day basis on our team I would like to believe that Paul would have been better than any other option that we suffered through. We received a good reliever in return for an unproven prospect but relievers are a dime a dozen while a good hitter is not. In hindsight this is a terrible trade but at the time of the original transaction it could be debated that it was an acceptable one. Since he wasn't on our team long the sting is not as bad but seeing him excel to this day irks me that we missed out on his prime years when we could have had him and used our resources for other needs.

Even though he wore the blue for only a little while I still wanted his signature as he was a Dodger. The bonus is that it looks like he will be entering the 500 home run club without being linked to any type of PED. I have conflicting thoughts on the effects that PED's have on players and I will do a blog entry at some time about that.

As the Dodgers share Camelback Ranch out in Arizona with the White Sox I have tried to acquire his signature there for the past two years and have had no luck. I have also been to Angel games when the Sox have visited and again no such luck. This signature is one that I think someday I will be able to acquire in Arizona but being addicted to eBay I wanted the autograph in my collection til that day comes. Off to the bay I went to look for another autograph and I noticed that most authenticated versions were selling for at least $50 and most of the time were over $60. I did not want to spend that much so again I had to bide my time for the right auction. Someone finally was selling one at a reasonable price and I was able to pick it up at $37 with free shipping and it was PSA authenticated. A steal in my eyes. Great looking autograph on a nice clean white ball.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Mike Piazza ( ROMLB Sweet Spot PSA Graded 8.5 )

The first few days of this week I want to discuss a few trades that should never have happened. I've been a fan since the 80's and while there have been many questionable trades by management there are a few that really stick out and to this day irritate most Dodger fans. One of the most recent ones is Carlos Santana being traded for Casey Blake which is still too early to be determined if it is as bad compared to the others. Since Carlos is also a catcher and since Mike Piazza was recently in town for a book signing we look at the Dodgers favorite 62nd round pick.

As most people know Piazza was family favorite of Tommy Lasorda and after a lot of twists and turns in Piazza's baseball career ( read the book for more details ) he was drafted by the Dodgers which was considered a courtesy pick and was never expected to do anything meaningful in baseball. A few years later and Mike is up in the big leagues and lights it up and becomes Rookie of the Year for the Dodgers which is the first award of many that he will go on and win during his career. During his years with the Dodgers he had set up himself up to go down as one of the greatest Dodgers ever and should have been allowed the oppurtunity to do that but in 1998 during the Fox owned years Mike and the ownership didn't see eye to eye on a new contract and with Fox wanting to prove a point traded him in his prime to Florida which promptly traded him to the Mets in New York. The Dodgers received a few players headlined by Gary Sheffield which had a decent tenure with the Dodgers but the trading of Piazza tore the heart out of the team and the city of Los Angeles. Piazza was the most popular player at the time but ownership stated he wanted too much money and wanted to move on from him even though months later they give Kevin Brown the first 100M contract. A fine pitcher in his own right but not worth the contract. Needless to say this trade should have never happened and to this day Piazza holds a grudge against the team and most of it is deserved. On a side note, he should not knock Vin Scully on any level though as I have heard that he has done in his new book which I just started reading and haven't got to that part yet. It might have been blown out of proportion but I will see what the book reveals.

So obviously with one of my favorite players growing up I wanted to acquire his autograph on a ball and since he is never in town doing any type of autograph appearances I knew it would be difficult to acquire his autograph in person so off to eBay as usual to hunt for another elusive autograph. Since he played recently most of his signatures are of good quality but I am also a bargain hunter as I did not want to spend north of $100 as almost all auctions were set up as. So I had to bide my time and found one that started at a penny so the bidding war began. Back and forth for a week and in the end I won it at a little over $80. I thought it was a great looking autograph and a steal at that price. As with the Pee Wee Reese autographed ball I decided to have this one graded as well and just like that one I was highly disappointed but for different reasons. It graded out a perfect 10 on condition but a lousy 7 on the signature. The signature might not be perfect but a 7? Come on. Like they say it is an "opinion" but I for sure think it was low ball grade. What do you think? But in the end like all graded balls, even if you don't like the grade you still have a realize you have a great autograph that has been added to your collection like what I have with this ball. Good hunting everyone.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Pee Wee Reese ( ONL Sweet Spot PSA Graded 7.5 )

I thought to finish off the week I would discuss the third Dodger in a row that had ties to Brooklyn. There was Koufax but he was a mess in Brooklyn, there is Drysdale who was good but excelled once the team moved to Los Angeles, you had Jackie Robinson who was the catalyst, you also had Duke Snider who was the bourough's favorite son but the heart and soul of the team is none other than Pee Wee Reese.

His statistics were never eye popping evident but him being elected to the Hall of Fame by the veterans committee and not the writers. Everyday though he was out there on the field doing what the team needed him to do. He amassed over 2000 hits, sacrificed part of his career to fight for our country, stood side by side with Jackie Robinson through his journey of crossing the color barrier and countless other accomplishments. He was with the Dodgers through all their heartbreaking losses to the Giants and Yankees and with them when they won their first and only title in Brooklyn. He was the cog on the team that made everyone else able to do their part. It takes a team to win the championship but I think if the Dodgers never had Pee Wee they would have left Brooklyn without the 1955 title.

I always wanted Pee Wee's autograph but it has always been hard to find a good condition baseball that hasn't been thrashed or spotting with a decent looking signature on it as well. Most of the ebay auctions are buy it nows and the price was always too much for my taste or I didn't have the extra funds to acquire the ball. I finally found an auction that wasn't a buy it now and kept my eye on it. It was a PSA authenticated one and looked decent enough. Surprisingly there was not as much bidding on it as I thought there would be. On the last day the auction's top bid was still only $50 and I was hopeful. As the auction neared it's end I put in my bid at a little over $80 and suprise suprise I won at the exact price that my bid was. Lucky guessing on my part. A week later I received the ball and couldn't be happier.

Months later I got that itch to get some off my autographed balls graded by PSA and I chose this one amongst some others. This one got the most disappointing grade. Had better luck on others which I will show another time. This one came back a 7.5. Are you kidding me? It got an 8 for the condition of the ball which I can accept and was expected to a point. Toning issues are common with older balls, but then it received a grade of a 7 for autograph. Really? Minimum I would have given it a 8.5. Can anyone notice why it got the low grade? Maybe something I'm not seeing. I have considered resubmitting it but I want to acquire more autographs before that. Either way though I am a proud owner of Pee Wee Reese's autograph regardless of the crappy grade.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Don Drysdale ( ONL Sweet Spot PSA Graded 8 )

Chips and salsa, peanut butter and jelly, Koufax and Drysdale. Singularly they are very good but together they are great. Koufax and Big D combined to form one of the most dominant and intimidating pitching tandems in history. While Koufax was the surgeon with precision techniques on the mound Drysdale was the big guy with the attitude of not putting up with crap. If you went after our guy he would go after yours twice. One time he was asked why do you hit batters and his response was " why waste 4 pitches to walk him, just throw one and be done with it ". Headhunting would not go over well in this age of baseball but back then it was expected to some extent.

Though Don was a big part of World Series teams, a Cy Young award and lots of All-Star appearances in the autograph collecting community he is just not as popular of a signature to acquire as Koufax is. I can understand that but there is no way I was not going to acquire Don's signature at some point. Well once I had Koufax's in hand I wanted to add Drysdale's but a lot of the balls that were out there were toned too much for my taste. This can be attributed to the fact that he died at a young age so the balls he signed were on the older National League version and not the newer ROMLB ones that are commonplace now. Older the ball the more toned it can and will get to a point. I actually went ahead and bought a PSA authenticated TOPPS card with his signature. Even though it was a great looking card it just wasn't the same as having a ball next to all my other Dodger balls. I sold the card back and thankfully at the same price I paid for it. No money lost. I just kept my eye on ebay for a decent looking ball and for a least a year nothing tickled my fancy til I saw a PSA authenticated one that was also graded an 8. Considering the age of the ball an 8 is not too bad. Problem was that the seller wanted $300 on a buy it now auction. I was not going to pay for that so I just kept it on my watch list just to see what it would sell for in the end. Well months past by and no one bought it and the seller kept dropping the price. 275, 250, 220 and so on. Didn't know why no one was buying it but I still didn't want to spend that much and just was content to watch the auction til the day I glanced at the again and the seller had dropped it to $150. Couldn't believe it as I thought that was a great bargain considering other non graded balls of Drysdale that looked like an 8 were selling for close to $200. I jumped on it and bought the ball. I want to believe that I got a great deal but either way I got to acquire a signed Drysdale ball to go along with my Koufax ball. Two links from Brooklyn that made it out to Los Angeles to become great pitchers and achieve multiple accolades and now I had both on individual balls.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Sandy Koufax ( ROMLB Sweet Spot PSA Graded 9 )

In celebration of Sandy Koufax's appearance at Camelback this past week as discussed in yesterday's post I present to you my autograph of the Dodger Legend. I like most people did not get an IP signature from Sandy over the week due to the mob and his minimal amount of signing that he did. I never thought I would actually be in the man's presence and for sure I would ever get his autograph and this weekend did not to make me change my mind one bit. He is a man of few words and fewer public appearances so the odds of me getting that elusive autograph becomes increasingly smaller.

As I accepted that fate there would be no way that I was not going to add this great looking autograph to my collection of the greatest lefty in Dodger history. A title that hopefully goes to Kershaw at some point in the future. Koufax's autograph is one of the nicer ones out there. Its legible and clean. More and more players have become squiggles on a ball. Case in point take a look at Ichiro Suzuki. So off to ebay I went like usual when I can't get an IP autograph. Sandy's authenticated autographs are not cheap. Though there is a decent amount of supply out there demand still exceeds it which keeps the price up. As usual I decided to sell some of my duplicate autographs, sell some comics, etc so I didn't have to spend too much out of pocket. I really wanted a graded verision as this autograph would become my crown jewel of the Dodger portion of my collection. So the minimum I would do is a PSA 9 while holding out hope for a PSA 9.5. Watched a few auctions and the 9.5 version's prices were just skyrocketing too much for my taste so I decided to settle for the 9. After losing out on a few auctions as I do cap spending limit I finally won an auction where the total was actually about $35 less than I had put my limit at. I now was a proud owner of my own Sandy Koufax signed ball and it was graded mint on that top of that. I now had the lefty part of one of the most dominant lefty/righty pitcher combinations in history. Tomorrow we look at that right side.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Autographs of the Day : 2013 Dodger Spring Training @ Camelback

It's that time of the year. Baseball is in the air and it's time to go see the Boys in Blue. For the second year in a row I have made the trip out to Arizona to catch the team and all their new acquisitions from the off season. Hopefully this will become an annual tradition. I am already making plans for next year and hopefully it will be to see the reigning World Series Champs at Camelback.

The first day that I was there it happened to be Saturday and there were a good amount of people which was to be expected as it was the weekend. I had a few things that I really wanted signed, one, a single signed ball of Puig and Ryu, a team signed ball of the 25 man roster and Matt Kemp to sign the 3rd out ball I got back in Washington D.C. last year.

Around 9:45 a.m. the players and coaches started to come out of the main building to go towards the practice fields and though most players were not signing there were some that stopped and signed. I got in front of at least five guys and missed out on each one. The most irritating one was Yansiel Puig who is an up and coming minor leaguer. Got in front of him twice on his way to the field and both times he stopped signing right before me. That became the theme of the weekend for me with him. So on the morning exodus to the field I zeroed out on the autographs and thought this is different from last year as I got 5 in the morning. I was hoping for the best but not holding my breath. Took some pictures of them jogging around and Manny Mota on his famous bike.

Even during ST Uribe looks like he lags behind everyone and is huffing and puffing. Ugh.

Once on the field the pitchers looked on as they took turns doing some drills on the main practice field. Nothing like seeing Kershaw on the field. Should win the Cy Young this year.

Decided to venture over to the bullpen area where new Dodger pitcher Ryu was getting ready to throw a session and the area became crowded as I wasn't the only one interested in watching what he had. Half way through Mattingly stepped in with bat in hand to gauge the newcomer. Came away impressed.

Once that was over I headed back to the main practice field and saw fan favorites Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier with new batting coach Mark McGwire. Andre has been very chatting with fans lately and a group of us have been talking to him about places to eat in the AZ area as he is a foodie. Kemp as always is very nice with fans and willing to engage with them. Love those rare superstars that don't think they are better than us "normal" people.

Practice was ending and this was the time to get as many autographs as I could. As usual a mad rush towards every player as they walked off the field and they now have two different areas to come and go so they do not walk all together through one entry way. You have to time the ones you want as security will rope you off at times. Makes things more interesting to say the least. So with a few balls in hand I started and luckily I was able to end up with 6 total players on my 2013 team ball. Don Mattingly (sweet spot), Andre Ethier, Skip Schumaker, Jerry Hariston Jr., Ronald Bellasario and Brandon League. And guess what, I saw Puig again and walked up and he was signing a few for a few people then stop right before. AGAIN. That was now twice that day. Ugh. Andre worked the line and signed for as many people as he could as did Ronald. The others you had to track down and hope a little as they signed a few and then just moved on. After the last one I noticed Kemp in the corner getting mobbed as usual and I had two options. Do I give him my team ball or my 3rd out ball for him to sign? I chose the 3rd out ball as it means more to me and I assume I can get Kemp on the team ball at the stadium. With the 3rd out ball done I won't have to carry an extra item into the stadium. I got over to his area and found an opening and was able to hand him the ball and he signed it. He side paneled and I noticed he was doing that to a lot of people so maybe this is something new he is doing. Normally that would irk me but I am just ecstatic I got this one finally signed. That was the end of the day for me. So 7 autographs wasn't too bad considering I had zero to start of the day.

Back at the ranch on Sunday I went for day two of my trip and I was hoping for more luck on the autographs this day. So guess which one of the players came out first? Puig once again. He signed again for some people. I was there, again, and he didn't sign for me, again. Three times now. Sigh. This time a I was lucky enough to get two people as they walked out, Chris Capuano, which is a slight risk for the team ball as he might be traded but for some reason I feel he will be on the team and Tim Federowicz which I got lucky as he signed for exactly two people and I was one of them. So unlike the previous day I got 2 start out of my day. I headed over to watch them practice once again and Ned Colletti came out and even though I got his autograph back at fanfest I thought I would take a pic with him. Nice guy. Question some of his trades but appreciate the interaction with fans that he has.

Tommy Lasorda set up shop again to sign for fans again. I already have his signature but I thought I would get a spare one that I can either sell or use as trade. So if anyone wants a Tommy Lasorda sweet spot signed baseball I have one for trade.

Then all hell broke loose. The Immortal Sandy Koufax arrived at camp and he started to walk towards the field and I have never seen such a mob form in the short of time. I have seen Fernando, Lasorda and Kemp mobs form but nothing like this. I was somewhat close but by the time I got to the area where he was I was about 3 deep and the crowd was growing. He stopped for a few signatures then kept moving and the crowd moved with him. It was crazy. I have read on other blogs that people were punching others and hitting and shoving. I love me some autographs and would have loved to get an IP of Koufax but I will not injure someone to get it. Have some manners and morals people.

Practice was coming to a close and the players walked by once again but this time not too many of them stopped and signed. I was fortunate to get Ted Lilly on the team ball but no others. So that was the end of day two so I headed out. I did glance back and noticed Dee Gordon ( who I chose on to put on the ball ) stood there and signed for anyone that asked for his time and signature. Classy. I like the guy personally as I have chatted with him but baseball-wise he needs to work on his game and hopefully he will make it back to the bigs as we could use his speed.

I was planning to just leave and come home Monday morning but I thought I would swing by one last time to see if I could get any more signatures on before heading out. Got there and this time not a single player signed for anyone on their way to the field. A total blank for everyone. I was finally finished for the weekend. 10 signatures total. Not as good as last year but a successful and fun trip nonetheless. Hope to make it out next year and hope to finish the team ball at the stadium.

Pics of the balls :

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Eric Karros ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

We finally come to the last of the three in my subset of "my great ebay buys". I became a fan of the Dodgers in 1981 but really started to follow them during the 1988 season and have been a fan since. The early nineties brought hope and a string of Rookies of Years for the team. As most people my favorite player was Mike Piazza at the time but I always like Eric Karros as well. I don't know why, might have been the hair lol, but i always enjoyed watching him play.

I have never been able to catch him at the stadium for an autograph and I haven't seem him do an appearance at a show in at least 5 years so I have never been able to acquire his autograph. I may never get an IP but I need this signature in my collection of one of my childhood favorites. So off to ebay once again. Now getting an authenticated signature from a non superstar player from the 90's and earlier can be a bit problematic. One there isn't a lot of authenticated signatures to be had and two there are a lot of toning and spotting issues.

I've been on the hunt for his autograph for a good 3 plus years and when I do find one it usually is at least $40 and even though I want it in my collection I feel that is too much to pay for Eric. Finally one day I found an Upper Deck authenticated ball up for auction with a staring bid of 99 cents with $5 for shipping. Reasonable to start of with so I kept my eye on the auction for the duration of the week. On the last day no on had bidded on it and thought there was a good chance of winning it at a low cost even though I was sure there would be a little bidding war at the end. So the minutes ticked down then it became seconds and I put my bid in at a tad over $10 to compensate if someone else bidded. Auction ended. And no one else bid. I just won an Eric Karros authenticated ball for 99 cents. I laughed at the situation for how I won and I had to go to tell my wife what just happened. Her comment was, " so the ball is worth $15 and the authentication process is $10 but you got the ball for 99 cents so by him siging it he just devauled your ball, you should just buy more of these type of balls so you don't have to pay $15 for a new ball every time". Ha Ha. Love the logic. So I finally acquired an Eric Karros signed ball and couldn't be happier but the how I got it was the best part.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Kenley Jansen ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

Today we come to the second of three in my subset collection entitled "my great ebay buys". I have others that fall into this category but I am trying to go back and forth so its not the same o same each day.

I actually have Kenley Jansen's autograph on a team ball that he signed for me when I attended a game in Washington D.C. last year. More on that ball in the months to come. Even though I do enjoy team balls or multi signed balls for a specific achievement club or moment in history I always strive to get the players on a single signed baseball. I have seen Kenley many times at the stadium and in Arizona and I know he signs but it has just been my bad luck and timing that he never is when I am around. Again, I know somewhere down the road I will get him. So onto eBay I went to acquire an authenticated signed ball til I get an IP one. Not too many Kenley authenticated balls around as he is not a "star" per se. Finally one showed up and the seller had it at a buy it now for $32 or best offer. This was for sweet spot PSA authenticated ball which is reasonable but I didn't want to spend $32 if I didn't have to. So we did a back and forth and since no one else wanted to buy it I got it for $25. Not too bad to me as the ball cost $15 and authentication process is $10. So I basically got the signature for free which is a win in my eyes and didn't have to use one of the balls out of my supply to acquire it. Another good thing I found out was that the buyer lived only 5 miles from me so we met up at a local McDonald's to finish the transaction. No shipping cost added so more money saved. A great buy and one of my cheaper ones at that. But nothing beats tomorrow's purchase.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Adrian Gonzalez ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

In celebration of Pitchers and Catchers reporting to camp today and some position players reporting early as well I bring to you one of the early arrivals, Adrian Gonzalez. This signature is part of a subset in my mind which I like to call "my great ebay buys" and this will be one of three in a row this week with Thursday a deal even my wife couldn't believe.

Adrian this year is basically a new Dodger as he was only in the blue for a little over a month last year. Once he arrived last year he was immediately popular with the fan base and especially the Hispanic part of it. As I discussed before that helps the Spanish autograph hounds but does not help me. I went to early batting practice and hung around but I was never lucky enough to get his signature but knowing he will be here for years I assume I will run into him at some point and hopefully that will happen later this week in Arizona. I have every intention to get all of my autographs in person for anyone that is still alive but til then I will always look to acquire them in some other manner til then.

Adrian recently did a signing last month and the charge was $69 on a ball then $15ish for a ball and if you decided to get PSA then tack on another $10 for a total of $94. A chunk of change that I did not want or would spend. Now this was announced back in late November but I was on the lookout for an autographed ball on ebay at the time and I found one that looked good and at the time the high bid was going for a reasonable price. Well the auction was coming to an end and I had a set amount I was willing to spend in my mind. With a few seconds left in the auction I put in that amount and it only raised the winning amount to $45 and it ended at that amount. I just won a PSA authenticated ROMLB Adrian Gonzalez baseball. $49 less than what is would have cost me in person. Hence why I consider this one of "my great ebay buys". Now if/when I get his autograph this weekend or later in the year I will put this one up to sell so someone else may enjoy it and I am sure I will get at least what I paid for it. But til then I will enjoy this autograph of one of the newer Dodgers.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day - Player Appearance Recap : Bo Jackson ( 1989 All-Star Baseball )

I now know Bo.

Bo Jackson made an appearance this past Saturday at Frank and Sons in Walnut. It was part of the Raider Fest. I know that I was only a handful of people that were there to see Bo for baseball. I think I saw two other people that had baseballs in their hand and there was at least 1000 people on hand for the panel of Raiders. I know the Raiders have a die hard fan base and I have never attended one of these before but I was not expecting the horde of people. The only thing comparable to me was when Matt Kemp did a signing here last year.

Bo was scheduled to sign at 1:00 in the afternoon so I arrive around 12 to find the parking lot jam packed and after about 20 minutes of driving around I finally found a spot. I walked in and noticed the line was about 150 deep for tickets with the other 800 plus people milling around getting signatures, pictures or just waiting. I went to the front of the line and at the end of the table to ask if I needed to wait in the line for pre purchased tickets and thankfully she said no and gave me my tickets. It pays to pre buy tickets. That saved me at least a hour.

I headed over to what I will call the holding pen as I, like others felt like cattle. Bo came out right on time and I was number 88 out of at least 400 from the numbers I heard being announced. Got in line and talked to some of the Raider fans. We Dodger fans are not the only crazies I soon found out. The line was going somewhat slow but that was because Bo was talking to anyone that would engage him and he looked everyone in their eye and said he and thank you. He also took a few pictures here and there. It was finally my turn and I handed him my 1989 All-Star Baseball. Now this ball I wanted side paneled. For those who don't know this was his first and only All-Star appearance and he started that game off with a home run and was eventually named the MVP of the game. I thought this would be a unique and cool ball to have in my collection as these balls are getting harder and harder to come by and in good white condition it's even harder. He signed the ball right where I asked him to and added his number to it as well. What I found a tad funny he had to go back and paused for a minute before adding the number as I think he was so used to writing 34 for all the football autographs he had to think what his baseball number was. 16 BTW. Came out great I think. Thank you Bo for coming out and doing the signing and thank you for being cordial and nice.

Movie Review : Side Effects

A top notch cast with an acclaimed director seemed like a sure shot winner. For that build up it misses the target for the most part.

Movie starts with Emily ( Rooney Mara ) meeting up with her husband Martin ( Channing Tatum ) being released from prison due to financial issues he was in the middle of with his company. He wants to just start his life were it was paused years ago. She on the other hand is depressed and everything about their lives are affected by it. She can't do her job with any energy, he can't assimilate back into the business world without worrying about her and when they are alone the tension in the air is thick as can be.

After a failed suicide attempt Emily is in the ER and she is attended to by John ( Jude Law ). She talks him into letting her leave as long as she promises to meet with him for consultations and to take meds that he proscribes. The meds are not working until she convinces John to give her a new drug that is being described as " taking your life back " in the hopes that it helps her marriage and life in general. In the beginning it does but the side effects are affecting the marriage yet again. The union takes a drastic turn for the worse and we find Emily in jail.

John is soon being ostracised but the medical community as being careless with Emily and is soon forced out of his practice by his employers. His own marriage starts to deteriorate and he seeks advice on the situation from a fellow colleague whom Emily saw a long time ago. Victoria ( Catherine Zeta-Jones ) trys to help John with insight on her treatment of Emily but he soon realizes that Emily has never told John the full story of her past. He trys to get Emily to tell him the truth so he can have his life back but he can tell that there is more to the story than she is letting on. As everything comes to a head he asks Victoria for help in the matter as well as the detectives that worked the case that put Emily behind bars. John finally gets his truth he was looking for but the damage to the people involved are high.

Verdict : Catherine and Jude are the highlights of the film as Emily just seems to be in a haze whether medicated or not. Channing is good for what part he is playing. The first 30 or so minutes of the movie is kind of hard to get through which makes the rest of the film which is entertaining less fulfilling since your expectations where taken away from the 30 minute set up part of the movie. This movie is OK to watch at home but no need to waste your money for the big screen.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Manny Ramirez ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

Mannywood... ManRam... Bobbleslam. 2008 and 2009 was an electric time to be a Dodger fan attending a game at the stadium. The Dodgers lucked into Manny Ramirez due to him burning all bridges in Boston and the Red Sox were desperate to unload him to someone who would take this headache off their hands. The Dodgers being owned by McCourt at the time and being cheap every which way he could was given the golden goose for basically pennys on the dollar and with that the Manny Ramirez show came to the ravine. In 2008 Manny led the team to the playoffs and the upset win of the favored Cubs for the Dodgers first series win in the playoffs since 1988. We all know what happened in the next round so we won't go there. 2009 started off the same til Manny got caught using PED's and he was gone for 50 games. The team managed to keep above water and once back Manny was a main cog once again on the team. He brought electricity to a team that had been missing it for years and it was fun to watch and be a part of.

Now, getting his signature on a ball was going to be an issue. One, he was constantly hounded and unlike some of my fellow graphers I can't commit all day to hunting a player down. Two, I do not speak Spanish and being a Dodger fan with a large Latino presence on the team is a distinct advantage to knowing the language as the players gravitate to someone that speaks their language. So this becomes my first post that is not an IP signature. I never got to meet up with him, not even close. He was here late 2008 and gone by mid 2010 and I knew then there was no way I would get it person. But, my collection needed his autograph so onto eBay I went. If I do buy an autograph I will only by it if it has been authenticated by PSA, JSA or Steiner. Anyone else is questionable to me. So I waited til the off season of 2010 when the demand was much smaller and I found one that was PSA authenticated and no one really bidding on it. I was lucky enough to win the auction and now I am the proud owner of a Manny ball. I would have preferred to get it IP like everyone else would but this time period was dominated by Manny and I needed the ball in my collection. Steroids or no steroids. His signature is odd to say the least but it is what it is.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Steve Garvey ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

Autograph Alley at Dodger Stadium is now second nature to me as I have visited many times to see past Dodgers to get their autographs. I've even gotten L.A. Kings autographs as well when they have had theme nights about them. But back in 2009 it was Opening Day and this would be my first time to venture over behind the Pavilions to get an autograph. It was announced that the Dodgers would have Ron Cey, Bill Russell, Steve Yeager and Steve Garvey on hand to sign for fans prior to the game. Now I knew it would be crowded due to it being Opening Day and that the quality of signers was higher than most times out there. The gates opened a little after 10 for the 1 p.m. game but I was running late and didn't get there til a little after 11. You could see with the traffic it was packed and it was still two hours til game time. I got over to the Alley and noticed a line of about 150 people and everyone was waiting for Steve Garvey. So I took my place in line with my wife and waited for Steve to arrive. Ron had already left so I missed out on him and Steve Yeager was the least of the ones I wanted to get so I was going to forsake his to insure I got Garey's. I did end up with Russell's which I will recap in another post. The wife was kind enough to hold our spot as I went to the front of the line to make sure I was standing in the right line just in case I was misinformed on who it was for. I saw Yeager with only about 3 people waiting for him so I said what the hell as no one minded me jumping the line to get his so I went to go get one of the balls to sign and went back to Yeager's line which was now about 10 deep. I stood in line for my turn when I saw Garvey walk around the table to sit down. He started talking to a few handlers and then sat down right in front of me. Well, I wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth so I turned to my left and handed him the ball that I was waiting for Yeager to sign and at the same time I glanced back to the line that had grown to at least 200 and a few people noticed what I had just did and were not too happy about it except one person who had a smirk which reeked of jealousy. So Garvey signed my ball and I accomplished the main goal of the day. I looked back towards where Yeager was sitting but he had left when I was dealing with Garvey but I no biggie, I got Garvey. Headed back to the wife who was still in line and told her I got what I came for and she was more than happy to get out of the hot line. Beautiful wife, Opening Day, Dodgers and a Steve Garvey autograph. A perfect day.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : THE Infield ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

Onto the next autograph. This one actually is an unfinished piece. I have had the longest tenured infield ( Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes and Bill Russell ) on individual baseballs for a few years and thought I was done with those individuals. I then got that itch to get something else signed and have noticed a few baseballs with all four of them signing on the sweet spot and thought that would be a nice piece to add to my collection. Thankfully all four them sign frequently around the Los Angeles area. I did make the decision to not pay for their signatures so that is why this project is still incomplete as I still need Davey and Bill. I'm sure I'll get them this year.

The first person I got to sign was the Steve Garvey. On Saturday August 11, 2012 he was to do two public signings. One was in the valley which I didn't really want to travel to and then it was announced he was doing another one at 5:00 p.m. in Gardena at the Normandie Casino. This was only 15 minutes freeway time for me so I thought that was perfect. I go to many of these signings and this one was odd for the fact that it was held late on a Saturday night and then it was at a casino which meant no minors would be allowed. Thought that would work in my favor. I headed over there about a hour or so before the scheduled time and no one was there. I had my wife and father in law with me so I could get my bat signed as well. Went in and had dinner before the signing and after about 30 minutes noticed that the line had started and was getting longer at a steady pace. Jumped in line with wife and we were roughly 20th in line. Steve showed up on time and the line moved fast and he was signing more than one item per person which was nice. We got up to the front and I told him what I was trying to do and he signed a little off center of sweet spot and smaller to accommodate the other 3 to be added later. The wife walked up right behind me and he signed my bat with 1974 MVP inscription without being asked. A great, smooth and fast appearance by Mr. Clean.

The following Saturday the 18th it was announced that The Penguin, Ron Cey would be doing a public signing the RV Roadshow in Canoga Park. Great, I can get half of my project done in just 7 days. So I headed up to the Valley. I got there around 11:00 for a scheduled signing time at 12 and there were about 50 people in line which was about right for a retired star who does multiple free signings. Ron arrived about 5 minutes past 12 and promptly started signing. It was announced that he would only sign one item per person. I noticed that the line was going pretty slow and after 10 minutes I could see why. He was signing multiple items and taking pictures with anyone that would ask. I had no problem with that as I also brought my bat along just in case. Got up to the table and I gave him the ball and asked him to sign about Steve and he gladly obliged. I also slid the bat to him and he signed that as well. Some of the promoters were giving "evil eyes" but didn't say anything to anyone. Another smooth signing and I am half way to completing my infield project.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Tommy Lasorda ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

Well I have run through my bobblehead posts so I thought I would start another ongoing category. I was on the look out for one last bobblehead and I just won it on ebay so once I receive that then I will do a post on that. I will be taking the newly acquired bobble to Spring Training next week so hopefully I will get it signed. And Spring Training is where we start with this new category.

Most of my autographs are on baseballs but I do have a few exceptions ( bobbleheads, pictures, bats, etc ) so I am going to start with the balls and sprinkle in the others from time to time. I would say around 60% of all my signatures are in person ( IP ). Some people would find it sacrilegious to get an autograph any other way but I don't think it is a crime to acquire it whether by trade with another person or buying an authenticated one on ebay or some other source. The majority of my signatures are Dodgers, past and present, and some are just not realistic to get in person. For instance, I bought Pee Wee Reese's signed ball as he has passed so IP is not possible. I missed Russell Martin when he was a Dodger and didn't know if I would ever catch him again so I bought one on ebay for $15. My collection is built the way I can and want to acquire the autographs and yours should be the same. Don't let anyone else tell you how to get your signatures.

Anyways, back to the new category and Spring Training. Last year was my first time I was able to go to Arizona to catch the boys in blue. My main goal was to acquire as many autographs as I could get and I came away with about 20 in my one and half days there. One thing that I have been adjusting in my collection is if I bought an autograph I would still try to hunt down that person so I would have an IP autograph instead and then I would resell the one I originally bought. Well that was the case here. I bought Tommy Lasorda's autograph as I couldn't never meet up with him and then I have heard and seen stories about the temper he has. I personally have seen it once when I got close so after that I looked and found videos showing the same experience I got. Well I bought his PSA authenticated autograph about 3 years ago and thought I would never meet up with him again. Well on the first day in AZ and towards the end of the day there he drives out on his golf cart and a line of about 20 people line up and he proceeds to sign for everyone. I had my buddy with me and thought maybe he could get my bat signed but I have heard stories about bats so I got my baseball signed and thankfully he signed on the sweet spot. Nothing irritates me more than side paneling unless asked, I'm looking at you Shane Victorino. I didn't want to be the person wanting a signtaure after the signee is pissed off so I went first and then my buddy walks up and Tommy lights up into him and says, " I don't sign God damn bats ". Ahhhh... the infamous Tommy temper came out. Anyways, I got my ball signed and that weekend I sold the one I previously purchased. A great way to end my first day in AZ.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Bobblehead of the Day : Matt Kemp ( Over The Wall Catch Gold Glove Variant )

We finally come to my current favorite bobblehead of my collection. The Dodgers gave away a "common" version of this bobblehead at the stadium back in 2010. A great looking bobble but there was a reoccurring problem with a lot of them. The wrist tended to break off a lot which makes Kemp look like a talented amputee. Before I started on the variants I actually bought this version and low and behold it came in damaged and hand less. A disappointment obviously. Well I found out about this gold variant version via other bloggers like DodgerBobble and Plaschke, Thy Sweater Is Argyle . Well the variant versions do not come cheap and are not for sale very often so I always had my eyes open. Obviously the place I thought I would acquire it promptly was eBay and there was one that was going for 150. Tad much for my taste but I decided to wait it out as this was the off season of 2011 and baseball products usually are cheaper at that time and we still had the stench of McCourt around so demand was lower. I bidded my time for almost three months and the seller dropped it to 120. Sold a few things myself and jumped on it and in the end out of pocket cost was nothing as I sold enough excess stuff to acquire the bobble at 120. Now I had to hope that the shipping would not damage the oft weak wrist of the bobble. Bobble arrived a few days later and was in perfect condition. Now I just had to wait for the 2012 season to get it autographed by the man himself.

Off to the stadium on a Saturday and Kemp had the usual crowd waiting for him but again I was right in front with no one I had to deal with getting over to get to Kemp. Now, the Fingers to Sky bobblehead has him batting so he has the batting helmet on which means no grooves but this one has him out on the field so he has a cap on which means grooves on the bobblehead. I have seen many people get this bobble signed on the wall part of it so as Kemp was walking by I was hoping he would do the same but he decided to sign on the cap. His signature hit the groove and "moved" a little but no biggie in my eyes. I just got my gold variant bobblehead which i paid nothing more out of pocket signed for free when his signature goes for 80 plus nowadays. So I am not going to complain about a little "slip" in the autograph. Well for the time being this is my favorite bobble but the Dodgers will be giving out another Kemp bobble this year and I for sure will be picking that one up and if there is a variant you know I'll be in line to pick it up.