Sunday, March 31, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Matt Kemp ( ROMLB Sweet Spot w/ The Bison Inscription PSA Graded 9 )

It's Sunday and the calm before the season storm is upon us. It also the last day in the Matt Kemp appreciation week. I have a few more autographs that are on bats and such but I wanted to mainly concentrate on balls and the one card of him that I have at this time. We close the week out with my last AOTD ( autograph of the day ) for a few days as I am taking tomorrow off to go watch our Boys in Blue at the newly renovated Dodger Stadium and will recap it the day after. Other than my 3rd out ball thrown to me while in Washington D.C. last year this is my favorite Matt Kemp signed baseball.

I have many signed balls by Matt Kemp so I am usually not on the look out for any others as I will just acquire them by myself but being an eBay whore I always look at authenticated balls and see what is up for sale. Well one day earlier last year I was scrounging around and came across this one. It is a PSA authenticated and graded a Mint 9. Nothing special usually. This one though had the inscription of " The Bison " which I always wanted to acquire on a ball and in my mind eventually would get it done someday. As stated before inscriptions can be hard to acquire at the stadium and if you pay for it at a show it will cost an additional $25 and that's after paying for the autograph which he is now asking north of $65. So when this came up for bid I zeroed in on it as it had all my wants and as a plus it was graded as well. Lucky for me that it was up for bid when he was on the disabled list which I thought would benefit me on the end price. Not much action on the auction for most of the week until the last day when it was up to $40 and some change. I knew it wouldn't end that low. I didn't want to miss out on it but I didn't want to do an overpay either. I put my bid in at a click under $69 and hoped for the best. Low and behold the auction ended with a final total of only $60 and some change. That my friends is a great deal. $13 for the ball, $25 for the inscription and $10 for the grading is $48. I couldn't believe my luck. Again it helps if you buy when the demand is low. Basic economics is useful in collecting.

So with this great addition to my collection I am up to date on all signed baseballs by Matt Kemp. The only ones I would need are that will be upcoming. 2013 All-Star and of course the 2013 World Series baseball since we will be winning the trophy this year. And with that, bring on the new season and may it be enjoyable and may Vin Scully finally announce another Dodger World Series Win. Go Blue !!!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Upcoming Appearance / Signing : Tim Wallach @ Harry's Dugout 4.6.2013

Another reminder that Tim Wallach who is the current third base coach of the Dodgers will be doing an appearance and signing at Harrys's Dugout this upcoming Saturday April 6th in Whittier.

Prices are up top. For anymore info please call or visit their website at

I was here there last month for the Jose Canseco signing and the owners of the store are great and the vibe of the signing was relaxed. A great time by all. So go on down to get a Dodger autograph and stay and explore this new store. Be prompt as Tim has to get back to the stadium for that nights game. If you see me say hi! Go Blue !!!

Signed Ball of the Day - Player Appearance Recap : Yasiel Puig ROMLB Sweet Spot )

Finally, got to met the ever so elusive Yasiel Puig. Anyone that has read the AZ recap knows that I went 3 different days to Camelback and each time Yasiel walked by me and declined to sign for me. A couple of times he signed for people right next to me just not for me. Ugh. I even asked him in Spanish one time ( I don't speak the language but I learned how to ask for an autograph politely ) and he very nicely declined.

So I came back to California empty handed and then went and bought a pre-signed baseball by Mr. Puig. A couple days later it was announced that Yasiel would be doing a public signing at South Bay Cards in Lomita. Hop, skip and a jump for me. Called the store and bought my ticket.

Arrived at SB Cards around 8:15 and no one was there so I had some breakfast and noticed around 8:30 a line of 2 so I ventured back over and ended up number being fourth in line. Chatted up with some fellow fans and around 10:05 Yasiel showed up in a limo with his entourage. Once inside the signing started promptly. Said hello and he was more mellow today than he was when I was around him in Arizona earlier in the month. He signed the ball on the sweet spot and I said thank you and he quietly said your welcome. This being his first public signing ever might have been a bit overwhelming for him as it is a new experience. Not rude just not too talkative. Got the ball PSA authenticated with the "R"ookiegraph designation. I now own two signed balls of Yasiel. They both have the PSA "R"ookiegraph now as well. They look great and I am always open to a trade if anyone is interested. Thank you again to South Bay Cards for holding the event and thank you to Yasiel for doing the appearance. We shall see this young man on the major league team sometime this year.

Signed Ball of the Day : Matt Kemp ( 2012 All-Star Baseball )

Its Saturday and the Dodgers are one day closer to playing at Chavez Ravine for the first time this year in a game that matters. Matt Kemp will be manning center field once more and hopefully will have a monster season that leads them to the promised land of being baseball champions.

Last year Matt made the All-Star team for the second consecutive year in a row. He also was the Captain of the National League Home Run Derby. Also for the second year he sucked at it. But we need him to be great at in game home runs not derby home runs so no biggie.

Well another All-Star year, another All-Star baseball and yet another ball I need to add to my collection. Once again as these went on sale I picked one up and this time I was not going to spend any money or stand in another massive crowd at a show to acquire it. I picked a Saturday that the odds were he was going to sign as if he is doing a public signing he usually doesn't sign much at the stadium. I took my customary spot 2 hours prior to the game and watched batting practice and got a few more autographs and waited til Matt would be signing prior to the game. As per his ritual he came down the line and did his stretches and then approached his section to sign for fans. This also was the time I used my family as autograph mulls ( love you guys ) to acquire a few more autos from Matt. One was the 5x7 pic earlier discussed in the week and another that I will show off on a later date. Matt came over to where I was standing after signing for some kids and I handed him the ball with the logo part showing as I wanted him to sign there which he promptly did.

I now have a current and complete up to date collection of Matt Kemp's All-Star appearances on signed baseballs. I know it's only two so far but I am sure there will be many more including this upcoming 2013 season. Another great addition to my collection.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Matt Kemp ( 2011 All-Star Baseball )

Another day, another signed Kemp baseball and this time we are back to the specialty variety.

2011 was the first year that Matt Kemp made the All-Star team and I didn't want to miss an opportunity of having him sign an All-Star baseball. The game was being played in Arizona so the ball has the Diamondback's team colors. I always love these specialty balls as they have different color threads than the regulation ones. Once they went on sale I purchased one and tried to figure out when I could get Matt to sign the ball. He was having a fantastic start to the season and I wasn't able to get him to sign at the stadium and like old faithful I noticed Frank and Sons was doing another signing so I forked over the necessary cash to acquire his signature there instead. Again I bought the ticket way in advance so I had front of the line access. Thank God I did. When I arrived the crowd was massive and later on I asked and the promoters estimated that there were thousands for a hour and half scheduled signing. That is a lot of people and hundreds went home empty handed. Matt as always arrived on time and started signing. Got up to the table and had him sign right under the All-Star logo. All this sounds like a broken record but he is always pleasant and engaging with fans. So I finally got a signed All-Star baseball representing his first appearance at the Mid-Summer's classic. Since he has appeared in two of them you know what tomorrow's subject will be but for now this looks great with my other Kemp and All-Star baseballs on my shelf. Another great addition to my collection.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Matt Kemp ( Dodger Stadium 50th Anniversary w/Beastmode Inscription )

Day four and we are half way through the Matt Kemp week. Onto the specialty signed balls of Mr. Kemp.

Last year was the 50th anniversary of Dodger Stadium and the Dodgers had Rawlings produce commemorative balls the signified the anniversary. Obviously with that happening I had to get that version signed by Matt as well. I wanted something a little different on this one though. He really started to use "Beastmode" as a saying last year and thought that would be a cool inscription for a ball.

Well, asking for personalization's at the stadium when you have lots of screaming fans is kind of hard to pull off so I wasn't even going to attempt it. Saw that Frank and Sons had scheduled a signing for Matt and decided that was the way to go. Made sure to buy my ticket early so I would have VIP access and be one of the first in line. Arrived on the day and like always with Matt it was crazy with loads of people but thankfully I didn't have to worry about that. Got my ticket and got in line with a few friends and waited for Matt to arrive. Matt arrived to a chorus of MVP chants. He sat down and started signing. Got up to the table and said hello and as always he acknowledged me back. Asked him to sign it with the personalization which he did with no problem. Said thank you and went about my day. Another great item for my collection.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Matt Kemp ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

Day three in the Matt Kemp appreciation week. Today is a simple, boring ole single signed, sweet spot baseball. Nothing more, nothing less. But it is still a strong signature from the Kempman.

As stated yesterday I had a sweet spot signed ball of Matt but I gave it to a friend as a gift. Since that time I had acquired other specialty signed balls but never the traditional sweet spot one. I was out in Arizona last year and I happened to be there the weekend that the Dodgers and White Sox held a public batting practice session bookended by the players signing for all those in attendance. The White Sox signed first and it was kind of sad as there were players just standing around waiting for someone to ask them to sign. Felt sorry for them. The Dodgers were next and everyone prepped to see who was going to sign where as they had one or two Dodgers at each station/section to sign. I wanted Clayton Kershaw and to finally replace my Matt Kemp ball. Once we found out where both of them were going to be it was a mad dash by everyone in the stadium. I decided to stay in the Kershaw line and was disappointed as once I was about 5th in line they cut off the signing. I left without Kershaw's autograph once more. I sent my buddy over to the Kemp line and saw that they cut the line off around the same time they did Kershaw's but my luck was better there. Kemp signed the ball for him and 2 people after that the line was stopped. I finally got to replace my Kemp signed ball. Looks good back on my shelf.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Autograph of the Day : Matt Kemp ( Signed 5 x 7 Photo of 1st Meet and Greet with the Bison )

Kemp appreciation week continues and rather than show off a ball today I thought I would do a photo for once with a personal twist.

I use this photo all the time to make the women at work and play jealous. I met Matt for the first time back in 2008 or 2009. I can't remember but either way it was before he became a superstar which made this my favorite meeting with him. To this day he is still nice and talkative to almost anyone and treats kids like gold which I admire as more and more players become distant as they become a bigger star.

The Upper Deck Retail store in Huntington Beach scheduled an autograph signing one Saturday afternoon in May of either 08/09 and since I never got a ball signed by him I went down to the store to get that handled. Which by the way I no longer have that ball. Gave it away as a gift. Arrived at the store about 30 minutes before his scheduled time and there were maybe 35-40 people in line. Can you imagine a line that small now? Nowadays its hundreds if not thousands. So I went in and paid for the autograph and Matt showed up on time and started signing immediately It took me no longer than 20 minutes to get up to the table and have him sign the ball. After I was done there were about 15-20 people behind me to get stuff signed. I glanced over and noticed standing in the corner was Dave Stewart who is his agent and happens to be a former Dodger. I ran over to my car to get another ball and he gladly signed it for me. More on that another day. After that I decided to just browse the shop and walk around. After everyone was taken care of, Matt had about 45 minutes left on his scheduled time and there was no one there except the me and the group I was with. We all went back to the table and talked to Matt for the remainder of his time. Multiple subjects were discussed from baseball to social topics to weather even. This is the appearance that made Matt Kemp my favorite player. He didn't have to talk to us but he did and we all had fun and enjoyed each other's company.

Before we left Matt was kind enough to take multiple pictures with all of us. For me this is my favorite as if you look close enough Matt has his arm around me. That is what drives the women crazy as I say " well has Matt touched you before? ". LOL. Great reactions all the time.

A year or so ago I decided to get the pictures I had taken with players to get them to sign them. I took this picture to a Dodger game one day last year and during his daily before game ritual down the left field box seats he was kind enough as always to sign for fans and I got this autographed. I think there are more people in that area every time than there were back at the Upper Deck store way back when. Got to see the man before he blew up on the scene and it was a great time.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Card of the Day - 2005 Bowman Chrome Matt Kemp Rookie Card Autographed Refractor BGS 9.5 Gem Mint ( 15 / 500 )

One week til Opening Day and this week for the blog is Matt Kemp Appreciation week. To change it up a little I will start with my one of only two cards I own in my collection. I was a big card collector back in the day and busted boxes week in and week out. That was a very pricey hobby and I finally got out of it for my wallet's sake. So while I enjoy looking at cards and seeing how the market is doing I no longer collect. Except for the two I have I don't ever expect to ever collect cards again but you never know.

The one brand I always collected when I was younger was Bowman Chrome. I always liked the look of them and the rookie card chase within the boxes. I wanted to acquire Matt Kemp's and Clayton Kershaw's rookie cards but I also had to have two things if I was to acquire them. One they had to be the refractor variant. I know I couldn't afford the red, blue, etc but the normal refractor was fine by me as they are numbered to 500. Two, I wanted it either graded 9.5 by BGS ( they have stricter grade requirements compared to PSA ) or one that I thought would receive that grade if I bought it raw ( ungraded ). I always prided myself in having a fairly decent eye so I took my chance on seeing if I could get one on eBay at a decent price and then take it to BGS to get it graded. On my hunt I went.

It was September of 2010 and Matt was not having a good season. The previous ones had shown lots of promise and 2010 was supposed to be the breakout year. It was not. Just like stocks, buy low and sell high is the game. I was watching a few auctions and since there were only 500 made of the card there never was much to chose from. Finally someone put a refractor version up and from my eyes it looked clean, no chips on the corners and it measured out pretty much centered which has always been a problem with Bowman Chrome. The only thing I couldn't really tell was if the surface was really good and the edges where not messed up. The seller wanted $99 for it. I pulled the trigger on it and within the week I had the card. Well off to Frank and Sons I went to drop it off at BGS with the promise that it would be done within the month. I waited anxiously as I hoped my gamble would pay off. 3 weeks after the drop off the grade was available online and I couldn't be more pleased. It received a 9.5 Gem Mint with sub grades of 9.5, 9.5, 9.5 and 9. The 9 was for surface which was one things I was afraid of. The autograph received a 10. I was a proud owner of one of only 27 ( as of today March 25, 2013 ) to have a Gem Mint Refractor of the Bison, Matt Kemp. My favorite player in my favorite card brand.

2011 was finally his break out year and this card skyrocketed in price and though it has settled down a bit the card still goes for $450-$500 on eBay now. Not too bad of an investment. You can't beat 450% profit. I have no intention of selling it but I do like to know the value and to see if I got a good deal or not. This one is definitely one of my best deals. You just never know what you can find on eBay if you are patient and due your research. Hopefully with Matt healthy and all the back up he has in the line-up he can duplicate 2011 if not surpass it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bad eBay Experience Turned Great In The End AKA Signed Ball of the Day : Miguel Cabrera ( ROMLB Sweet Spot PSA Graded 9.5 )

Not all of my experiences have been good. Some have outright been criminal as one person stole a computer from me ( didn't return it after I sold it and they didn't want it but kept it anyways and demanded refund ). Well I was a victim of another one this past week as I have been on the look out for a PSA authenticated Miguel Cabrera autograph that also was graded at least a 9. I was being realistic as most 9.5's go for over $150 and I didn't have that in reserve. I had made about $120 from my sales and wanted to finally honker down and get my Miguel Cabrera ball. Saw this auction and it was described as a PSA 9 sealed Miguel Cabrera autographed baseball. Just what I wanted. Seller had perfect feedback though it was under a 100 but I thought no worries. I won the auction at $119 delivered and was ecstatic that I finally got my Miguel Cabrera ball. He shipped it out a few days later and I received it within a week of close of the auction. Got the box and heard something moving inside. Never a good sign. Opened it up and this is what I got :

Are you kidding me? So this qualifies as a SEALED PSA 9 graded baseball nowadays? Notice the stain and obviously its rolling around within the box so God knows what else happened. Contacted the seller and though nice stated that " That damn Post Office. They must have opened the box and then the case and threw it back in ". Uh, yeah right. I have heard and received damaged boxes in the mail but its the box that is damaged not something sealed and then opened and thrown back in. Come on. He said send it back and I will be reimbursed for the transaction. If for some reason once he receives it and doesn't refund me ( remember people always add a tracking number so they can't say they never got it, lost, etc ) I will have eBay on my side and they will make sure I get my money. As of today it is in his area but not delivered per USPS.

While I waited for that I saw another 2 auctions but they were for PSA graded 9.5 balls and though I would prefer that over a 9 the price would be more. The first auction was ending this past Sunday and I bidded on it at the end for $130 to see if that could compensate for the grade hike difference. Nope, it sold for $157 delivered. Disappointed but expected. The second auction was ending this past Tuesday and again I put my $130 bid in and low and behold the winning bid came in at $126 and delivered at $133. So for $14 more than my original win I received a 9.5 instead of a plain old 9. The ball came in yesterday ( Thursday ) just two days after I won and as stated I am still waiting for a refund from the first terrible auction. So I now have a great looking ball of last years AL MVP ( Trout should have won ) and the first person in decades to win the hitter's triple crown. A great achievement. At this moment I believe he is a lock for the Hall of Fame. He is a World Series Champion, Triple Crown winner, MVP, Batting Title etc. He was in trade talks back when he was traded to the Tigers but what the Marlins wanted were Kershaw AND Kemp. Thankfully that never happened.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Hanley Ramirez ( 2008 All Star Baseball )

Today I was planning to go with the first of my two favorite non Dodger players in baseball but due to the news that was just released those two will have to wait til next week. It has just been reported that Hanley Ramirez will need surgery for his thumb that he injured while playing third for his country in the WBC. I am not of the group that is mad that players are playing for their country rather than participating in spring training. I am of the group though that says it should be played either during the All-Star break or more preferably after the World Series. What irks me the most was that he was playing a position that he will most likely not be playing for the Dodgers. If he was to play in the WBC he should have been manning shortstop and not third. Not to say he wouldn't still get hurt but I would have liked him in his major league team's position.

That said, I have never been able to acquire his autograph in person. He never has seemed to sign when I have been at the stadium and he constantly passed me up while in Arizona. I purchased this ball a couple years ago when he was still playing with the Marlins. I like to have one autographed ball of each year's All Star game. I prefer to have Dodgers but if that is not doable at the time I look for a star that I would want but don't have as yet in my collection. Well I found this PSA authenticated baseball on eBay that perked my interest. Problem was that back then Hanley was more popular than he is today and the prices reflected that. Didn't pay anything out of pocket as I had excess money from my sales on eBay but the total was around $70. At that time I thought that was a deal considering the up tick in price due to it being an All Star baseball but in hindsight now that is probably $20-$30 of an overpay. At the time though I wanted the ball and was going to win the auction which I did. Sometimes you have great buys and sometimes in the long run you realize, not so much. Either way though I am happy to have added this to my collection and more so when he became a Dodger. Now we just need him to get well soon for the 2013 season.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Juan Marichal ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

So after I acquired Tommy John's and Bob Feller's autograph at the 2010 Fanfest there was only one signature coming up next that I wanted/thought about getting. Juan Marichal. Now any Dodger buff knows why he is infamous in Dodger lore but some people don't know or remember that the last team he played for was the Dodgers.

He played the majority of this career with the hated Giants. He was a force on the mound as he was a 10 time All-Star and also pitched a no-hitter in 1963. While we had Sandy and Don they had Juan and he was always up to the challenge. He constantly won 20 plus games a year as he did that in a 6 out of 7 year span. He posted a minus 3 ERA for his career as well. If he wasn't a Giant he would have been admired by the Dodger faithful.

His claim to fame though was the Roseboro incident 1965. With Juan on the mound he buzzed Maury Wills a couple of times at the plate. Later in the game with Juan batting, Roseboro the catcher with Sandy Koufax pitching, threw the ball back to Sandy after catching a pitch and buzzed Juan by his ear. This set off a bizarre scene as Juan came out swinging, literally. As Roseboro confronted Juan, Juan decided to beat Roseboro with his bat. I am surprised that Roseboro did not get more injured than he did. The rivalry was just bumped up another notch. Thankfully no one was seriously injured as this started a 14 minute bench clearing brawl. Surprising he signed as a free agent in 1975 with the Dodgers and fans voiced their negative opinion of the signing. He ended up starting and getting rocked in two starts before retiring.

So I debated on acquiring his autograph as he was a Dodger but he was more of a hated Giant than anything and the instigator of one of the worst on field incidents in the Dodger/Giant rivalry. I decided on getting the autograph. The draw of an IP of a Hall of Famer was greater than the history of the incident. Got in line which was surprising shorter than the others. I was no more than 20th in line. He arrived on time and started signing. I got up to the table and he had this glossy look in his eyes like he was some type of meds. Said hi to him and just looked at me and took the ball and signed it. Maybe it was because I was wearing my Dodger gear and he still hated the team. Don't know. Either way got a ball signed by another Hall of Famer and it looks great.

2013 Season Tickets

We are less than 2 weeks away from Opening Day and I received my season ticket booklet today. Opening the box and smelling the newness of the tickets is a yearly tradition. As always the Dodgers put the booklet in a bag that is usable and this years looks better than the last few I have received. I've never used it going into the stadium but I wonder it would pass the measurements they try to enforce sometimes.

Tickets come labeled in their new slogan " A Whole New Blue ". I'm hoping for a whole new end result this year with a World Series win. It is the 25th anniversary since the last appearance and win in the Fall Classic. It's time we fix that.

Like last year the Dodgers have included the MVP card for season ticket holders and it was a great addition last year as you got to enter the park an hour earlier than the general public and then got to watch batting practice and up your chances to receive some autographs from the players. This is a welcome return for me. The only downside is last year there were some 17K season ticket holders last year and it has been reported that number is around 30K this year which means more competition for autographs. Oh well. I am sure I will manage just fine.

There are also some coupons and one that I really like is you can buy 4 infield reserve tickets to any game other than the Yankees, Red Sox and Opening Day games for just $8. I already know which promotion giveaway I am using that for.

The only disappointment for me is that there is no Sports Authority coupon for $10 included in the package this year. I always used that to buy one ROMLB there for less than $7. Oh well. I will just continue to get my discounts on eBay for those I guess.

Go Blue !!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

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

Day two of my recap of autographs that I acquired at Fanfest back in 2010 in Anaheim. When I arrived I had my list in hand of who I wanted to acquire and at 10 in the morning was my first opportunity which happened to also be a Dodger. Tommy John.

As a player Tommy had if not a great career, an above average long one. He was so close to the 300 win club with his 288 but that is also coupled with 231 losses. He never was a World Series Champion but played for the Dodgers and against the Dodgers in a few of them. The best thing about Tommy was that he was constantly good and you knew what you were going to get out of his starts. He had a few great years but never won the Cy Young award. What he is most famous for though is his name attached to a surgical procedure that today is common but back in the 1970's when he had it done it was revolutionary. What is now know as the Tommy John procedure was a radical decision at the time. It's when you have a damaged ligament and you replace it with a healthy one from your arm or leg with the hope you can continue on with your career. It is said that if this was around during Sandy Koufax's time we might have seen at least 5 more years of his dominance. Tommy rebounded nicely and continued to pitch another 13 years in the bigs.

Seeing Tommy on the list of scheduled signers made it easy that he was one of the must gets for the day. He was a Dodger and he is named after a procedure that is commonplace nowadays. Headed over to the area where he was to appear and like with Bob's signing afterwards I was about 50th in line. Again no worries on my part. Tommy showed up on time and engaged the crowd prior to sitting down. He started signing and the line moved briskly. Got up to the table and he asked if I wanted it on the sweet spot which of course I did. Said thank you and moved on to signature station number two. A great looking ball of a Dodger that helped paved the way for players to continue a career when before if you had this injury you were probably done with baseball.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Bob Feller ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

This week I will be presenting my autographs that I acquired back in 2010 at the All-Star Fanfest that was held in Anaheim during All-Star weekend. Since we are exactly two weeks away from Opening Day I thought I would share the autograph of the only pitcher to ever throw a no hitter on Opening Day. Bob Feller.

Bob came up to the majors in the 1930's and played until the mid 1950's which was interrupted by four years he served in the military during World War II. He was a multiple time All-Star, World Series Champion and won the pitcher's version of the triple crown. 1940 was the year when he pitched his Opening Day no hitter which to this day has never been duplicated. He was dominant during his prime and the service he gave this country cost him personal accomplishments but he never regrets his decision to volunteer for the military. He played his entire career with the Indians.

In July of 2010 it was announced that Bob was going to do an appearance and autograph signing at Fanfest in Anaheim. I knew some of his history but not enough so I educated myself on him and after learning what he did on the field and more importantly what he did for our country I knew I needed an autograph from him. Got to the convention center and looked at his appearance time which was the second on my list which I thought would be doable to acquire. So after I acquired the first autograph of the day ( more on that tomorrow ) I ran over to Bob's line and it was already about 50 deep. It was scheduled for a hour so I wasn't worried. Bob arrived on time and promptly started signing. What I found odd and somewhat irritating was when you arrived at the table you had to give your item to a handler who then handed it to Bob and once Bob was done he handed to another handler which gave the item back to you. All this and I wasn't able to give him my pen of choice which worried me. Bob did acknowledge fans and was cordial which was nice. Thankfully the signature came out good as there was no way I could get back in line as it grew in size as time progressed. Sadly Bob died a few months later. I'm glad I got to meet the man prior to his passing. Thank you for the autograph and thank you for serving for our country. R.I.P.

Movie Review : Identity Thief

Identity thieves are becoming more and more aggressive and taking advantage of more people each day. This movie trys to put a comic spin on this very serious situation.

Movie opens up with Sandy Bigelow ( Jason Bateman ) a financial executive having some moral issues at work and being pressured by a group of co-workers to quit and form their own business. All this comes at a time when his wife of two is currently pregnant with another child. Money is tight and he is stressed and at that time Diana ( Melissa McCarthy ) makes her move and calls Jason's Sandy and convinces him that he is a victim of fraud and gives her all the information to rob him of thousands and plunge his credit score to the low 200's. At the same time his new job doesn't trust him anymore as all this information is now known to them but they give him one week to make it right. He takes it upon himself to find Diana and bring her back to his work to confess to what she has done. It shouldn't be this hard but the local police tell Sandy that the only way they can do something is if she is right in front of them and if not then they just have to rely on other police agencies to get the job done. With her in Florida and Sandy in Colorado that just complicates things even more.

Sandy heads on down to Florida to get Diana which obviously is easier said than done. Once they do meet up and after a few fist a cuffs he convinces her to come back with him to clear his name as long as she doesn't have to deal with police. He figures out that flying is out of the question so they must drive all the way back. Once on the road we found out that Diana has wronged other people which should come as no surprise and they have sent their henchmen after her which Sandy now has to deal with. The typical car problems and henchmen getting in each other's way that we see in movies is done here. After Sandy and Diana navigate through those roadblocks they find themselves back in Colorado. Once there the movie takes a turn into an unrealistic scenario. In the end Sandy is cleared and everything is back on the up and up. Diana gets what she deserves yet they do manage to show her in a better light as expected in a comedy.

Verdict : With these two leads recent track record with Jason appearing in Horrible Bosses and The Change-Up which are superior to this film and Melissa with a great career on the small screen I thought this would be a good team up. I left the theater with a mixed feeling. Though they were both funny for the most part as with most comedies with a close to a two hour run time it felt that it was about 20-30 minutes long. There were a few slow spots that messed up the rhythm of the movie. The supporting characters while fine when on screen were forgettable for the most part and a waste of their talents. Amanda Peet as Sandy's wife was the worst as she only showed up on screen or on the phone as a worried wife. Nothing more nothing less. One standout was a loner by the name of Chuck that Diana picks up at a local bar and takes back to the hotel room. That scene got the biggest laughs from me. While enjoyable this movie is best suited for the small screen. A THUMBS UP to a viewing at home but save your money for the big screen for a better flick.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Pete Rose ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

Back to the in person autographs and I'm gonna with go old timers for a little while. Starting off with the all-time hit king, Pete Rose. Whether you are for him or against him in being enshrined in the Hall of Fame you can't deny what he did on the field. He had a long career and produced the most hits in MLB history. A feat that will stand for a long time but not sure if forever.

I originally bought an authenticated signed ball back in 2010 to add to my collection but late that year it was announced that he would do a public signing in January of 2011. So I sold the ball and made plans to head to Living Spaces in La Mirada. I've been here before and considering it was a two hour signing and it was off season I didn't expect too long of a line. Arrived around 8 in the morning and the line was at least 150 people deep. I guessed wrong but since it was a two hour gig it wasn't too bad. Pete arrived on time and started signing but the line moved slowly and once I was inside I found out why. Being 150th of so in line I didn't worry too much about me getting an autograph but it was 11:40 til I got to the Pete's table and he was talking on the phone and not signing. I heard from others that this was going on constantly and that was a main reason the line was going so slow. Pete was nice enough and engaged with fans if he was spoken too. Had Pete sign the ball on the sweet spot and he added his hit total of 4256. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning during baseball off season by getting a free autograph from a would be Hall of Famer.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Giancarlo " Mike " Stanton ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

Day two of autographs from our USA team that hopefully will make it past the second round for the first time in WBC history. Yesterday we looked at veteran Joe Mauer and today it's Giancarlo Stanton't turn.

This young kid is a beast. Plan and simple. He will still be 23 when this season is over and has already amassed 93 home runs. A lot of them have just been majestic. He wears number 27 and that seems to be the magic number nowadays. Stanton, Trout and our own beloved Kemp all sport these digits. Sad to say Giancarlo is playing for the AAAA Miami Marlins and he has voiced his displeasure with the direction of the team. I feel comfortable in saying he will not play his entire career in Miami and that is a good thing. He would look good in Dodger blue as he is a hometown boy but I don't ever see that happening but we can all dream. He is at least 3 to 4 years from his prime and by then we might be talking about his Hall of Fame trajectory if he continues to do what he is currently doing. He is just getting better and better and only injury and no support around him will slow him down.

I bought this ball when I was in my " lets get all the hot rookies autographs on baseballs " phase. That was a couple of years ago and at that time Giancarlo was going by Mike and his autograph on a ball wasn't too pricey on eBay. Since there was no real urgency to acquiring the ball I was going to buy at my price and not the sellers. I spent a few months watching auctions here and there and I finally found and won an auction for a total of just over $25 with free shipping. It is a sweet spot signed baseball that has been authenticated by PSA with their special "R'ookiegraph sticker. So its basically a rookie card in signed baseball form. The sticker can only be adorned onto a ball during the players rookie year. I think the ball might be a very valuable piece in my collection in the future. Ball looks great and I am happy that I got to acquire it before it skyrockets in price.


Upcoming Appearance / Signing : Hanley Ramirez

As it's been reported on various blogs and websites Yansiel Puig is doing a signing on March 30 at South Bay Cards in Lomita. I talked to the owner while placing my order and he informed me that they are finalizing a deal for an upcoming appearance/signing of Hanley Ramirez. The tentative date is in July. Considering the times of the games that month I am assuming it will be for July 27 as that is a late Saturday game. Pricing was still being hashed out but he stated about $20 to $30 more than for Puig so that would make it $60 to $70 for a ball. Tad pricey for me but I will be looking into getting his " I See You " bobblehead signed instead. Will update when I have more information.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Joe Mauer ( ROMLB Sweet Spot PSA Graded 9.5 Gem Mint )

In honor of the USA baseball team winning last night in the WBC to move closer to the next round which they have never done I wanted to touch base on two player's autogaphs that I acquired that are on the team. First up is Joe Mauer and one of the better experiences I have had with submitting a ball for grading.

A couple of years ago I had some extra eBay bucks in my account and I wasn't finding much to my liking on eBay but I had til the end of the month to use it and wasn't about to lose credit. There is a seller out in Arizona that I trust and they always sell PSA authenticated baseballs so I looked into his inventory. I found this Joe Mauer ball and out of pocket after the eBay credit was around $25 so I thought it was a great buy. Joe has excelled the minute he hit the big leagues and will go down as one of the best all around catchers. Decent power but he hits for average and is great with the pitchers. Another thing I like about him was that he signed with the Twins long term and probably and hopefully will retire as a Twin. I love one team players ala Kemp, Mauer, Chipper, etc. At his current pace he will stack up pretty well with other catchers that are inducted in the Hall of Fame and he would rightfully belong there as well.

Received the ball and thought it looked better in person than the pics that I received from the seller and I thought why not see what kind of grade I would get at PSA. Dropped it off and about 3 weeks later I checked online and saw that the ball received a 9.5 aka Gem Mint. Woo Hoo. My first 9.5. Though not a Dodger and will probably never dawn the blue jersey you can't but respect Joe on and off the field. I have Hall of Famers and for sure future Hall of Famers in my collection but none have a grade of 9.5 so this is a gem by itself.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Movie Review : Oz, The Great and Powerful

Not being a fan of the original Wizard of Oz or any of the follow up movies that were tied to it I went into this one with hopeful thoughts as I was drawn in by the actors and the promise of great visual special effects. I left with a feeling of meh.

We all know the story of Dorothy in the original film as she trys to find her way home by meeting the Wizard of Oz but we didn't know how the Wizard became to be and this film shows us his journey.

The film opens just like Wizard of Oz with it being shown in black and white and sets up Oz ( James Franco ) the character and what happens that makes him leave Kansas and settle in the Land of Oz. As he arrives in Oz the film switches to color. The world is bright and colorful and brimming with life and promise. He is met by the witch Theodora ( Mila Kunis ). She believe hims to be the savior for the land and promptly escorts him to the Emerald City to meet her sister Evanora ( Rachel Weisz ). The sisters debate on the legitmacy of Oz and in the end to prove himself he is sent by Evanora to find Glinda the Good Witch ( Michelle Williams ) and defeat her.

Once the Glinda explains to Oz who's side she is on and which the side the other witches are really on they formulate a plan to reclaim the Emerald City for the land of Oz and its people. Using his trickery and slight of hand rather than powers that a Wizard should have as he is not one, he and Glinda come up with strategy for the people to follow that allows them to help as they do not kill by nature and overtaking the Emerald City without doing that is problematic in Oz's eyes.

The people of Oz march onto the Emerald City with Oz leading the way with Glinda's help. After an extended battle that has starts and stops with misdirection we see how the bad witches and Oz come to be as we know them best in the original movie. The city is reclaimed with the witches being banished and Oz left in power.

Verdict : I saw this film in 3D and while the special effects were nice I see no reason you need to pay the surcharge for 3D. I expected more on that front. Though you know roughly how the story will play out I think the actual translation to the screen was a tad lacking though that might be because of my general dislike for the first film. James Franco is miscast in this film and is the weakest part of it. Johnny Depp was once attached to play the role and would have brought the character to life. Mila at times overacts in my opinion. Thought Michelle did a great job and Rachel once past the first arc is regulated to the background. The supporting characters were the best with China Girl, Finley ( flying monkey ) and Knuck ( Tony Cox in his typical cranky role ). If not for these characters the movie would have fallen of its wheels. I give this a slight THUMBS UP to view but for sure don't waste your money on 3D and if you are going to watch this to see something new added to the story of the Wizard of Oz you will be disappointed.

Signed Ball of the Day - Player Appearance Recap : Jose Canseco ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

Jose Canceso did a public appearance this past Saturday the 9th at a new store in Whittier named Harry's Dugout. A couple of years ago I probably wouldn't have bothered getting his autograph but I do enjoy getting in person autographs moreso now even if they are not tied to the Dodgers in anyway. Since I got Mark McGwire's autograph earlier this year I thought why not add the other Bash Brother from back in the day.

I headed over to this new store in Whittier and I felt I was in a time warp. This store reminds me of a lot the stores I frequented back in the 1990's. It's in a two story building that also doubles what looks to be an apartment upstairs with the actual store in front. When you walk in there are two small walls with shelves of some boxes of cards and then a few display cases with singles for sale. The owners were nice and hope they can make this store work and be profitable but I know how hard it is to maintain these small card shops and that is why there are fewer and fewer around nowadays.

I arrived around 1:15 as the signing was scheduled to take place between 1-4 and as I didn't expect that long of a line. I was about 25th once I bought my ticket. Line was moving slowly but that was due to Jose engaging anyone that wanted to chat with him. I do enjoy friendly players. I actually did not expect him to be that open considering what I have read online about him and the books he has written but I was pleasantly surprised. Got up to the table where he was sitting and handed him a ball and a pen and he made a comment on how everyone seems to bring their own pens nowadays. I personally want to use something that I know that won't bleed. He signed it on the sweet spot and I asked if he minded if I took a pic with him which he obliged. Wasn't going to wear A's or any other team he played for which I noticed a lot people were wearing so I am repping the USA as they were scheduled to play Italy that night.

I left around 1:45 and there was about 10 people left in line and he was scheduled for almost two more hours so I wish this store good luck and hope they can make their own niche in this hard business climate. They have Tim Wallach scheduled next month and Josh Reddick of the A's in July and I will be attending both.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Review : Long Shot by Mike Piazza

As with most Dodger fans of the 1990's Mike Piazza was one of if not my favorite player on the team. I still liked Eric Karros a lot who also was Mike's best friend while on the team. Mike's tenure with the Dodgers was cut prematurely and I would say most of that was the fault of the ownership at the time. This autobiography with help by Lonnie Wheeler sheds light on that topic and a lot of others that people have always wanted answers to.

Mike talks about his unique climb from learning his trade in his basement at home to not being good enough to play on a major college team to reinventing himself as a catcher. The Dodgers took a flyer on Mike mostly to Tommy's Lasorda's persistence. More or less it was a favor and the Dodgers never thought Mike would amount to much. Once under contract which was a process of its own, Mike had to deal with the constant roadblocks and the non belief of Dodger management through the minor league system. If Tommy was not with the Dodgers Mike probably would have never seen the majors with the Dodgers and possibly anyone. By the time he made it to the big show he had a chip on his shoulder and it showed when he played. It was deserved as he brought so much to the team that drafted him but when it came time to pay him what he was worth they played head games with him. He touches upon what he thought was Vin Scully persuading the general public to turn against him but it is not as bad as other people have stated though it does come off as a little petty on his part.

You have this young man in his early twenties, living in a high end beach community and is the star of the team who also happens to be Italian. That is not a knock against Italians but they have the reputation of having "fiery" blood in their veins. I personally think that helped his drive to achieve what he wanted to do. If he was brought up any other way by his parents, who stood by his every step up the baseball ladder and helped him through the hard times, or had less drive I don't think we would be ready about the story of Mike Piazza the baseball player. That chip that helped him be at the top of this game in Los Angeles also helped him out of the city as well. Though he deserved the money he fought back when he felt he was attacked in someway. He had his supporters but there were more people that he didn't see eye to eye with.

The Dodgers have always had a great history with international players and while Mike was on the team the starting pitchers were from five distinct and different cultures. Japan, Korea, Mexico, Dominican Republic and the U.S.A. That is one heck of a crock pot of personalities and as a catcher he had to deal with each one of them. For the most part he got along with all them but while on the team and through his career he also had a riffs with baseball players that came from a Latin descent. He respected their talents but obviously the cultural differences created a gap between them.

Once the contact negotiations deteriorated the new Dodger ownership traded Mike to the Florida Marlins who promptly traded him to the New York Mets. He always felt that it was never about the money but a lack of respect by the team for him. As evident as the Dodgers paid Kevin Brown that off season the money that Mike was asking for. Mike was in his prime and while Kevin was a good pitcher he was closer to the twilight of his career. It would take til the past couple of years that the Dodgers have had a cornerstone player that they could build the team around. The Dodgers did right this time by locking up Matt Kemp in his prime to a great contact that is well deserved. One that should have been preceded by a contract to Mike Piazza.

His adjustment to New York was rocky to say the least in the beginning and at the end of the first half season he played there he was unsure if he would stay. There were even rumors of him coming back to the Dodgers. In the end he decided to sign his long term contract with the Mets and proceeded to give them their moneys worth those first few years topped off by a World Series appearance against the New York Yankees. That series was showcased by the non Mike Piazza/Roger Clemens fight. In hindsight Mike believes he was being attacked as there was a history between the two with Roger beaning him in the head earlier in the year and now his was apparently throwing a broken bat at him. Though they never came to blows there was always tension between the two. In an odd twist he was thrown at by multiple Latin players in the following years that he went after and their response was why didn't he attacked Roger like he was doing them. More evidence that he felt that Latin players just did not like him much.

9/11 like most people in America change Mike and his life. Prior to that year his career with Mets was statistically great as he accomplished a lot for himself. 9/11 occurred and rocked us all to our core and he looked at life differently and his on field play was just not up to his expectations after that fateful day. The first game played in New York city was highlighted by his winning home run and that connected him with the city forever. The years that followed in New York though were not so good. While still very good for less talented players it was far below what he normally produced and what was expected by him and the team. He played out his contract amongst tension with the club on how he was being treated and used but honored his obligations to them nonetheless. As his career was closing with New York the fans cheered him more and more and even though he knew he wasn't coming back it forged a bond with him that continues to this day.

He played a couple more years in San Diego and Oakland and even made the playoffs one more time but his best years were behind him and he knew it. What helped him accept that his playing days were coming to an end was him meeting and marrying his soul mate Alicia. She has been the rock that has calmed his soul and given him two wonderful kids. He played his last year in Oakland and he knew it was basically the end and if this happened a few years earlier it would have been harder but having his family now helped him realize that there was more to life than baseball.

He retired as the greatest hitting catcher in the history of baseball. He still holds records to this day. His one main regret was that he didn't stop and "smell the roses". He played and played and never let himself enjoy the game he grew up playing for fun. It took its toll on him. He and I both believe he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame even though he is tainted by the steroid era that he played in even though he states he never took an illegal drug and never tested positive for anything. If he ever makes it in he wants to go in as a Met. Even though the Dodgers gave him his chance it was New York that he had the strongest bond with. I think if he stayed with the Dodgers he would have won a World Series with them but New York was where he needed to be and that is where God placed him to accomplish what he did.

A great player with a hot blooded temper changed the way we looked at offensive minded catchers and this book is a great read of a young man who once couldn't get a chance to even suit up to play in a minor league game because the manager didn't like him to producing a Hall of Fame quality career. He showed if you put your mind to it you can overcome almost anything but at the same time if you go through life thinking everyone is against you, you will never truly enjoy life as you will always be on guard or defensive. I wish as a Dodger fan he would have made his Hall of Fame career here but I am happy I got to see him play and that he achieved what he did even though it was not in blue.

Signed Ball of the Day : Orel Hershiser ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

So going back through my collection I thought I would get back to more in person autographs. 1988 was the last year the Dodgers were in the World Series and even though they were major underdogs they conquered Goliath and defeated the Oakland A's with Orel winning and closing out the 5th game to claim their championship. He was the MVP for this team the whole year.

So it's 2011 and I find out that Orel is doing an appearance out in Rancho Cucamonga at Living Spaces. For me that is over a hour trip from the South Bay area but I doubled the appearance with some car work I needed done so I ventured out there. The signing was due to start at 10 in the morning and it was a day after a rainstorm. I thought with that and it being off season and the Dodgers not really as popular due to McCourt that it wouldn't be too bad. Boy was I wrong. I arrived around 8:30 and the line was minimum 200 people deep and it was cold as hell. I decided to stick around since I drove all this way and it was a two hour signing and not the usual one hour. I was somewhere in the low 200's and stuck in a wind tunnel. I nearly froze to death as the chill from the storm was constant with no let up.

Orel showed up a little before his scheduled time but the line moved slowly which meant more time in the wind tunnel. Once in I warmed up but noticed that time was moving fast towards noon and I was still a ways back but I did manage to get up to Orel with about 15 minutes before he was supposed to leave. He was nice and cordial and made eye contact which I always appreciate. Had him sign a ball on the sweet spot, said my thanks and moved on. I left the store and there were still at least 100 people left and I know there was no way that all of them would get what they came for. Thankfully I did as I would have been pissed to stand in the cold all that time and not received a signature but that is what you risk with these free public signings.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Carl Crawford ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

In honor of the news from yesterday and today that Carl Crawford might not be ( I tend to believe that he won't ) ready for opening day I wanted to post about his autograph that I acquired.

I went to Camelback last month and saw Carl a few times but was never lucky enough to get his signature but considering he will be on the team for quite awhile unless he is traded I am positive that I will get it. When I do it will replace the one I did buy last year. He was traded to the Dodgers back in August in the mega deal with the Red Sox even though he was on the disabled list after his Tommy John surgery. A good time to buy autographed items is when the player is out of commission or are doing really poorly and he fell under both those categories. His tenure in Boston can be summed up as strained and under productive with the surgery just adding the cherry on top. Went onto eBay to try to get a ball at a reasonable price and saw that Honabach and Sons were running some auctions. They tend to run their auctions at Buy It Now's but that week they were doing traditional auctions. They had a Crawford ball that was MLB authenticated with a starting bid of $20. No one bidded on the ball up til the end of the auction and with a few seconds left I put my bid in with some leeway just in case someone else tried to bid but no one did and I was the winner of the auction. For $20 I received an authenticated ball of one of the newest Dodgers with his signature on the sweet spot. Also, with Honabach always at Frank and Sons I had the shipping waived as I picked it up in person. A great deal. Now lets hope he can bring something positive to this team.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day - Player Appearance Recap : Don Larsen ( ROMLB Sweet Spot w/Perfect Game Inscription )

It was 2011 and the baseball season was over and the Dodgers had another disappointing year as they did not make the playoffs once again as McCourt was running the team into the ground. Baseball was still being played but I had lost interest at that point so my wife and father in law took me out to Vegas for my birthday. It's late October and I just wanted to relax in Sin city and take in my ritual of watching a movie in a casino as obviously that is what you do if you are in the gambling capital of the world. Off we go and to kill some time prior to the show we hit the slot machines. As we play I glance over and see a table set up with an older gentleman smoking a cigar but at the same time I see baseball memorabilia for sale so I walk over and low and behold its Don Larsen. He is there with his promoter selling cards, hats, bats etc and asking $25 for a signature. Though not a Dodger he has the only perfect game ever in the history of baseball and it was against the Dodgers. In the World Series no less. Wasn't going to pass on adding this autograph so I asked if they would be there the next day and they said they would be. Went and watched our movie and then headed out to a Target to get a ball for Don to sign.

Arrived back at the casino the following day and Don was there ready to sign. No line, no hustle and no problems. We negotiated the $25 for two signatures a piece for my father in law and I  with one being a photograph that Don provided of the actual perfect game. I asked him if he would put the inscription of W.S.P.G. 10-8-1956 and he had no issue with that. After we received the autographs he was kind enough to take pictures with us as well. We sat and talked to him for a good 30 minutes about past players and times and once a few more people arrived we said our thank yous and left. A nice man that dominated my team for one day but a great addition to my collection. Both autographs look great. You just never know who you will see in Vegas.

Full disclosure, I did this entry on my other blog back in 2011 but I wanted to add this to my autograph timeline on this blog

Monday, March 4, 2013

Movie Review : The Last Exorcism Part 2

The story picks up right after the first movie ends where we see Nell ( Ashley Bell ), who was possessed by a demon named Abalam, trying to find shelter in a young couple's home. She soon finds herself in a hospital being cleaned up and asked questions on who she is and any background that might help them help her. Getting nowhere with her they decide to put her into a home for women that have had hardships of some kind. With the movie being based in the city of New Orleans you see a lot of voodoo signs and symbols on the walls of the buildings. She is given a cross and you just know that will have some conflict with the two "religions" somewhere down the road. The movie for the most part shows Nell trying to fit back in with normal day to day life. She gets a job, goes out with the girls from the home and even attracts the eye of a young man. She starts to see things and feels that she is being followed everywhere. She finally meets up with someone that has been watching from afar and offers to help her with her situation. It is a slow burn up til the last 20 minutes or so where a group of people try to exorcise Abalam from Nell and finally set her free from the demon so she may live her life. In the end we see Nell leave the exorcism site and drive away to her new life.

Verdict : I really can't give a longer review as not much happens and can be generalized for the most part. First, how do you have a LAST exorcism with a part TWO. Last means last. They should have named this movie something else and dropped the two as it is really more of a continuation of the first movie and not anything new. The story is a slow burn and I mean slow burn to a climax that does have a moment or two of interesting scenes but at that point you probably have lost all interest in what happens to Nell as I did. I am sure there are people that will look at this as a good bookend to the first but I am not part of that group. The movie also sets itself for a possible third part as most horror flicks do, but I will not get in line for a THIRD part of a LAST exorcism. I had a hour and half to kill and this movie only cost me $1.50 to view and that was too much in my eyes. Wasted time and wasted money.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Orlando Hudson ( ROMLB 2009 All-Star Baseball w/Cycle Inscription )

It's a new month and we are only one month away from opening day and with that in mind I share with you my Orlando Hudson signed 2009 All-Star baseball in celebration of Opening Day April 13th of that year and his accomplishment on that day.

2009 was the second year that I attended an Opening Day at Dodger Stadium and it left one hell of a memory. It was the first game at home for the team and we were taking on the hated Giants. We had Chad Billingsley on the mound and Manny Ramirez back on team after a long contract negotiation and the stadium was rocking and ready to explode. This was back in the day when Matt Kemp batted 7th on the team and was referred to as the 2nd cleanup hitter on the team. Ugh. Chad put up a strong 7 innings with 11 strikeouts but the real story was Orlando Hudson. Orlando signed as a free agent in the off season and he left after the year as riff started with Joe Torre the manager ( his last at bat was a pinch hit home run in the playoffs with the team about to lose and you can tell he hit it with some extra something to "prove" a point and then he was gone ). In his first appearance at Dodger Stadium in the home whites he accomplished something no one has ever done, hit for the cycle at Dodger Stadium. I have many things on my in person bucket list, no hitter, perfect game, game seven of the World Series, etc but I forgot about the cycle. The thing about this one is that the hardest part of the cycle is the triple and he hit that last. The Dodgers were already beating the Giants handily at that point but everyone was abuzz hoping to see history and Orlando did not disappoint. It was a great day at the stadium and I got to be there when history happened.

Obviously even without the cycle I wanted an autograph from him as he was a Dodger and thought it would be cool if I could get him to inscribe the ball with his accomplishment. What was irritating and funny at the same time was trying to get this done. I saw that he was doing a signing at Upper Deck in Orange County and decided to drive down and get the ball signed but once I arrived I was informed he called and stated he wasn't able to come. A wasted 3 gallons of gas and time. I was informed though that they would reschedule and it was set at a location in the San Gabriel Valley ( forgot the name ) for a month later and I headed out there. He called again and stated he couldn't come. Are you kidding me? Again the promoter stated it would be rescheduled but it was now late August and the writing was on the wall that he probably wouldn't be on the team in 2010 and I still didn't have the ball signed. His appearance was rescheduled to now be at South Bay Cards in Lomita, which is only 20 minutes away on city streets. By this time my wife had nicknamed him No-Show Hudson. Funny name, irritating situation. Arrived at the shop and he was still on tap to show up and considering all the missed opportunities from the previous scheduled appearances the promoter gave the people that kept missing Orlando a 2 for 1. I had originally paid $40 with inscription for one but now I got two. Orlando finally showed up and was very nice and talkative to the fans. I got two balls signed both with my desired inscription. I sold one eBay for $40 so I basically got my signature and inscription for free. Free is always a good thing. I think it came out great. Even though he was only on the team for one year he left with me with a history making memory that can never happened again because he was the first. Thanks O-Dawg for the memory and autograph.