Sunday, April 28, 2013

Movie Review : Pain and Gain

Body builders that kidnap a rich person and hold him hostage with one of them having a conscience? What kind of story would that make for a movie but the fun part of this is that it is a real story.

We meet Daniel ( Mark Walberg ) who is working at the gym as a fitness instructor that has turned around the facility from near bankruptcy to a thriving business with some shrewd business ideas. He ends up with a new client named Victor Kershaw who is a snotty, stuck up and more importantly very rich man. His mouth runs and never stops. He just loves showing off and talk about his riches. Daniel decides he will kidnap him and have him sign over everything to him but he needs help and in walks Paul ( Dwayne Johnson ne The Rock ). He is looking for a job since he just got out of jail and is now on a new path of new found religion and wants to be on the straight and narrow.

The duel plus one more recruit successfully kidnap Victor but that is when the plans start to fall apart. Paul only agreed to join the group if no one was to be hurt but he sees Victor getting hurt over and over to the point that he is put in the position of having to kill Victor himself. All this and he has a drug problem he needs to deal with. The group uses their newly acquired money in different ways as Daniel enjoys the home life and gives his girlfriend to Paul who promptly snorts the money off of her and loses it all. 

Paul needs more money so he hatches a new plan that is doomed to fail from the beginning and when he is back into a corner he drags Daniel into it. All this as Victor trys to figure out how to get his money back on his own as the Miami police don't believe a single thing he stated happened to him. He ends up hiring a private eye to help him out.

In the end Daniel is on his way to find a secret stash in an off shores account that Victor has to help out his friends. All this as the Victor and P.I. are in hot pursuit as well. As the movie ends we see in the credits what happens to the main characters. Again, this is a true story and like they say fact is stranger than fiction and this movie shows that in spades.

Verdict : This movie brings back Dwayne to his comfort zone. He is not a drama guy nor is he the best action hero which he does good enough in. This is The Rock from back in the days of WWF/E. He plays the role with great ease and sarcastic tones and makes the movie that much more enjoyable. Mark Walberg is over the top and is hilarious and is a great give and go buddy with Dwayne. Victor as the bad guy does his part and is great in being a true ass. All the supporting characters put enough in to add to the movie but not overwhelm it.

You have to go into this movie with no expectations and knowing that is not taking itself serious even though it is a true story. The movie is very non PC and I for one enjoy that fact as too many things nowadays have to be on the up and up. Two THUMBS UP to watching this.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day - Attended Game Recap : April 27th vs Brewers - BREWERS 6 Dodgers 4

The at least once yearly group gathering of the 2011 Dodger Scavenger Hunt winners was this past Saturday. It is always a fun time with the rest of the gang and this time was no different. For the second time we all decided to seat in the All You Can Eat Section in the Pavilions. Time to watch baseball and gorge on some cheap food with good friends. Let the fun begin.

Arrived at the stadium for early BP as it has become the tradition. Had some issues with a mis informed gate ticket taker. Wouldn't let me in even though I had the STH badge but had to have him call head security and inform him he was wrong. Irritating as it took 10 minutes out of potential autograph time. Once in the stadium headed over to my usual spot on the baseline seats and after awhile as Davey Lopes likes to hit balls to fans he hit one to me this time. First time Davey hit one to me. Thanks Davey.

After awhile Josh Beckett came over and started signing and even though I got him a couple of weeks ago on a single signed ball I still needed him on the team ball so he was kind enough to sign that. Thank you again Josh. Again, I've heard he is a hard signature to acquire but I have gotten him twice already this year.

About to leave the area and Juan Uribe caught a ball from a batter and after a minute or so I got his attention and had him toss it into the stands to me. So for the day I got a couple of balls tossed to me and an autograph for the team signed ball. Could have been better but I could have blanked so that's good.

Off to my seats I went and hung out with the Scavenger Hunt Winners of 2011. A great crew to hang out with and considering the 2012 debacle of the "so called" scavenger hunt this is truly the first and only scavenger hunt winners ever that the Dodgers have sponsored. Go Club 104.

Game was entertaining for the most part and the Matt Magill in his first appearance pitched a decent game but the bullpen as is customary this year blew it for the rookie and not only did he not win the game but the Dodgers went and lost the game itself. This is the time that the team should be excelling as this is the so called easy part of the schedule. Hopefully they get their act together and start stringing along some wins.

A great time at the game with friends but the end result left a sour taste in my mouth. Let's get them next game.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day - Player Appearance Recap : Blake DeWitt ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

I personally almost forgot I had this one as this was one of my first autographs and I can tell that by the pen coloring on the ball. It looks like it was blue but I can't really tell. This was during my trial and error period of collecting. We all have to start somewhere.

Blake was the underdog that made it to the big leagues from AA due to multiple injuries to the club. He wasn't terrible nor was he great but he was a decent player and was always easy to root for due to his status of being an underdog. He didn't spend too much time with the Dodgers but what time he did he did his job and that is all you can ask. He is currently with the Atlanta Braves.

Back in July of 2008 Blake was doing a public signing at Staples in Los Angeles. If I am correct this was my first time I ever went on a free public signing so I wasn't sure of technique or time arrival or such. So I decided to arrive around 2 hours beforehand and to my surprise there was no one there yet. I went to go have some breakfast and during that I glanced over and saw around 20 people. I thought people sure arrive en masse at these events. I walked back over and jumped in line. Blake arrived on time and started signing. I got up to the table and ask if he would mind a picture which he didn't. I seem to have lost that pic as well. He signed the ball and I said thank you and headed out. As I was leaving I looked at the line outside and it was at least 100 deep and thought this can be a time consuming hobby. Oh how I wish signings were as simple as this one was nowadays. A naive collector got his first IP autograph and learned a few ins and outs of the hobby as well.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Upcoming Appearance / Signing : Pedro Guerrero @ Harry's Dugout

Harry's Dugout is once again holding another signing of a past player. This time it is Pedro Guerrero. Mr. Guerrero does not do many signings so make sure not to miss this great opportunity of a Dodger great. Again, this is a great new up and coming shop and can use your support.

Prices are on the flyer but here as well :

  • Baseballs, minitures, figurines, equipment and flats up to 16 x 20 - $25
  • Bats, jerseys and artwork - $ 40
  • Inscriptions - $ 10

Signed Ball of the Day - Player Appearance Recap : Jerry Sands ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

A flash in the pan? Well at least for the Dodgers it seems like that. Jerry Sands came up with much fanfare and soon was traded without having done much impact for the Dodgers. He came up when the team needed a spark and for a short amount of time he gave them that but in the end his biggest contribution to the team was with him being included in the trade that sent him to the Red Sox in the deal that brought Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and others to the team. He has since been traded to the Pirates so hopefully he can catch on over there.

Jerry did an appearance at South Bay Sports Cards in May of 2011 and with the store being close by I decided to attend the signing. Arrived about a hour beforehand and there weren't too many people in line. Think this was due to two other Dodger signings going on that day and those were free. Hopped in line and bought my ticket and waiting til Jerry got there. He arrived at his scheduled time and promptly started signing. He came across as a real nice guy which makes it more of a shame that he couldn't catch on here. Had him sign a baseball for me. Said thank you and moved along. It's a nice signature from this former substitute teacher and former Dodger. Thank you again Jerry and good luck in the future.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Upcoming Appearance / Signing : Paco Rodriguez @ Frank and Sons

Frank and Sons will be having another one of their Dodger Days on May 11th and Paco Rodriguez has just been added to the lineup. Come see this rising star. Prices are as :

  • baseball and flats up to 11 x 14 - $25
  • larger flats, minis, figurines and equipment - $35
  • bats, jerseys and art $40
  • inscriptions - $10

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

The next post in my under appreciated and/or didn't even notice they were here Dodger players. Today it's Xavier Paul.

Xavier's main claim to fame was that he was the player that was called up to the majors the day Manny Ramirez got caught using PED's. That day was Xavier Major League Debut as well. The majority of his time on the Dodgers was to fill in for Manny and his suspension or Manny when he was injured. Xavier never really did anything great for the team nor anything really bad as he is mostly forgotten as a player for the team. He currently is in the Reds minor league system.

I never got to meet Xavier as I wasn't on graphing crusades at the time but I was on eBay binging. I wanted his signature for two reasons. One, he was a Dodger and two, his name. I have always loved names that started with an X. Just a unique letter to me. I knew I was going have to overpay to acquire his signature as I always want either a PSA or JSA authenticated version of the autograph and since Xavier is a fringe player at best there are not many options on eBay for purchasing. I watched one auction that had a buy it now at $35. Wasn't going to pay that but after months on my watch list the seller put it on sale for $25. I snatched it up. For the player he is/was that is an overpay but I wanted to add him to my collection none the less. A nice signature added to my collection.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Attended Game Recap : April 15th vs Padres - Dodgers 3 PADRES 6

My fourth game of the season at Dodger Stadium and finally a stinker. You can't win them all but damn it if you are not supposed to beat the Padres in your own house on Jackie Robinson Day.

Left home and it took almost a hour and twenty minutes to get to my parking spot and that was with preferred parking. It was packed. Guess people wanted to celebrate Jackie and get their statue. I understand as that was the reason I was there. Here is the box of the statue. Forgot to take picture out of the box but I will update it. Great looking figure. Something different rather than the 10 bobbles a year they give out nowadays.

This is my first time I actually got to seat in my season seats as I have been seating in other areas due to family members and making a buck here and there. As I am sure people have noticed all the bathrooms now have a "crest" on each entrance. I found the Dodgers vs Giants rivalry one on opening day and today I found the 1955 World Series one which considering it was the only Brooklyn championship and Jackie was on that team it seemed fitting for this day.
The Dodgers also adorned the Jackie symbol that MLB was showcasing at all the stadiums and here is the one on the field. Kind of looks funny as you can see the Opening Week symbol that it covered but hasn't totally faded away as of yet.
The game itself was a disappointment from the opposing pitcher hitting his first career home run and then having to watch the much talked about high powered offense scratch and claw to tie the game one run at a time and then to watch the bullpen imploded once more. The few highlights were that Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez continue to rake and if they can continue the rest of the team can assuredly catch up. Matt Kemp also had a couple of hits and even though his average is still low its starting to look like his coming around. It's a long season but even though you can't win the World Series in April you sure can lose it. Time to step up boys. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day - Player Appearance Recap: James McDonald ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

I've done a lot of the high profile and/or high dollar players for the most part since I started going through my collection so for at least a week or two I am going to focus on lesser players that many of us have forgotten or just didn't care too much about. They might be favorites of some people but for sure the value of their autograph on a baseball is much lesser than the bigger stars ala Kemp, Trout, Harper etc. They are mostly roll players and every team needs them at some point in the season. So these upcoming posts for the time being is just showing my appreciation for them.

First up is James McDonald. James is an average player with average stats that will keep him employed for years but he will never be more than a 4th or 5th pitcher in any given rotation. He came up in 2008 for that last month and then broke camp with the Dodgers in 2009. He was a starter but after being called back up from being demoted mid season he was used as a reliever. His biggest claim to fame from the Dodger fan prospective is that he was traded along with Andrew Lambo for a little over a month of service time of Octavio Dotel. Granted James is not a big name but you don't trade a 25 year starter for an over the hill reliever. One of the worst trades that Ned Colletti has made in his tenure of Dodgers GM. James is currently a Pirates starter for a team that will be lucky to have a .500 record this year.

James was scheduled to make an appearance at Living Spaces in La Mirada in May of 2009. This was only my second year of collecting and this was the first time I ever have been to a Living Spaces for an autograph signing. James the prior day had a real bad game on the mound and I wondered if he would even show up for this due to him being depressed or possibly demoted. He showed up though. Albeit 30 minutes late Looking like he didn't sleep. He probably didn't. A few days later he was demoted to AAA. A bad few days for the guy. There were no more than 50 people once he arrived and he started right away and stayed his scheduled hour. Got up to James and said hi but didn't get much response back understandably. He signed the ball and I asked him for a picture together and even though you could tell in the picture he was not in the mood he still did it. Thanks again to James for the signature and picture. Not a long time Dodger but a Dodger none the less.

Attended Game Recap : April 13th vs. Astros - ANGELS 5 Astros 4

So this past Saturday I went to the little stadium in Anaheim that has a team that likse to call themselves a team from Los Angeles. Still one of the most ridiculous things that the Angels do.

For those who do not know my wife is an Angels fan which can make the household very interesting during the inter league series. We still venture down to the Big A a few times every year even when they are not playing the LOS ANGELES DODGERS. A couple months ago it was announced that the Angels would be giving out a Mike Trout bobble head this past Saturday. I had no intention of keeping it as I only collect Dodger bobbles even though Mike is my favorite non-Dodger currently in the majors. So I bought 4 tickets to the game and invited the family and pre-sold the bobbles which netted me enough to buy 2 signed Dodger baseballs. So a free game and two signed balls. Not too shabby.

Headed down to the stadium and though they are of the Angels for some reason I do love the big caps they have in front of the stadium.

Got to the stadium two hours before the game and there were hundreds already in line. Obviously everyone wanted to get their bobble head. It reminds me too much of the Kemp one that has him going over the fence to rob a home run. Though the catch that Mike's bobble is based on was very impressive. This kid and Bryce Harper are special now and will be great in the future.
Game was dull for the first 6 innings but the last 3 three were highly entertaining. Got to see Josh Hamilton's first home run in an Angel uniform and then got to see The Machine, Albert Pujols rope a double down the line to drive in Mike Trout from first base for the winning run. Nothing like a walk off. Always will be a DODGER fan first but I do enjoy good baseball whether the blue are playing or not.
On a side note there was this idiot Angel fan that just kept popping off about how he knew everything and hated how Dodger fans don't know their own history in Los Angeles. Blah Blah Blah. He probably has only been a fan since 2002. And learn how to wear a hat dumb ass. One ear tucked makes you look like a moron.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Movie Review : 42 - The Story of an American Legend

Baseball has been around for over a century and what we see on the field today is accepted by all that watch and enjoy but some people don't realize that integration didn't happen til 1947 and this film shows how one Jackie Robinson fought the battle to be the first black man to play in a white man's sport.

The film jumps right into the story on how Jackie ( Chadwick Boseman ) is recruited by one Branch Rickey ( Harrison Ford ) who is employed by the Brooklyn Dodgers. Branch wants to be the first man to bring integration to baseball and he wants a man that is not too nice so gets eaten up by everybody but can't have a man that will fight at every offense towards him. He needs someone that can turn a cheek and take what undoubtedly will be a hard and painful journey to the big leagues.

Jackie is placed in the minor league system of the Dodgers and after just a year his contract is purchased by the major league team. Though the minor leagues did have some bumps in the road it is nothing compared to what awaits him in the big leagues. After an attempted coo by the team they reluctantly accept Jackie onto the team due to the fact that they are informed that he is the first of many blacks that will be making it to the majors and they better get used to it. Rachel ( Nicole Beharie ) becomes Jackie's wife prior to his venture into the Dodger organization and she is vital to his sanity as he looks to her for that calming voice.

Once on the Brooklyn Dodgers his is immediately subjected to numerous death threats and racial slurs while all he just wants to do is play ball. His team evidently warms up to him as a teammate if not a person. The two most in his corner are Ralph Branca and Pee Wee Reese. Both vital players to the team. As the team travels to various cities they are sometimes not allowed to stay at hotels or the opposing team threatens to just forfeit the game as they will not take the field if a black man is on it with them. Jackie is soon physically attacked on the field by opposing players as he is beaned and spiked. His team begins to rally around Jackie as they see that he is a man that just wants to do what they are also doing and just because he is black that shouldn't be a reason he can't. They start to show support in front of others by putting their arm around him or verbally attacking the other team in defense of Jackie.

The film only shows his first year in the big leagues and ends with the team winning the National League pennant. They play the Yankees in the World Series which they don't show as the team losses to them in the first of many losses with Jackie against the Yankees. The final image is of Jackie celebrating a win with his white teammates that while probably still weary of having him on the team are at least learning to accept that he is here to stay and that he is a decent ballplayer.

Verdict : Since the film only deals with his first year and it is rated PG-13 they can only show so much. It shows a good summary of what the team and Jackie had to go through but glosses over a lot of things and people. There is no mention of Walter O'Malley the owner of the team and his input into this whole project nor how much his wife helped him through. To this day she helps with integration in Jackie's name. Harrison Ford as Branch is probably the most enjoyable part to watch as he really dives into his role and from all the books I have read on the Dodgers he plays Branch pretty well. The film also does not show how after the first year Jackie was given the permission to be a little more aggressive on the field and this was agreed upon by Branch and Jackie in the beginning. Branch said give me one year and then do what you have do per se. I understand that you can only put so much into a 2 hour movie but I would have liked them to show his contributions to the team during his whole tenure. They could have done it in actual game footage from the time but that is a bit of nit picking.

From the a baseball and Dodger fan I give this a big THUMBS UP. If you are a history buff you will enjoy this important time in America history as well. If you do not fall into any of these categories you will still enjoy it but probably won't walk away thinking it was a great movie but just a good drama about a sport. Either way it is worth a view.

Signed Ball of the Day : Mike Trout ( Rookiegraph 2012 All Star Baseball w/ All Star Inscription )

Yesterday I showed off my most recent eBay bucks purchase and since I will be attending tonight's Angel game I wanted to finally show off the signed baseball of my favorite player that is not a Dodger. I have two players on the Angels that I enjoy watching but this one here, Mike Trout, is for sure my favorite. He is just a beast on offense and defense and at the age of 21 can only get better.

Mike Trout came up in late 2011 for his MLB debut and though he showed flashes of greatness he didn't fully display his talents til his call up in April 28th 2012. Ironically the same day Bryce Harper made his MLB debut. Mike started off hot and never stopped til the end of the season. Won the Rookie of the Year unanimously and came in second for MVP. I am not denying Miguel Cabrera's great feat of the Triple Crown but Mike was more valuable to his team than Miguel was to his. This young man along with Bryce Harper are the future of young hitters for the many years. Even after a decade in the majors Bryce will only be 29 and Mike 30. Both still in their prime I look forward to watching both but Mike just a little more.

To say the least I wanted to acquire Mike's signature on a ball but obviously they skyrocketed in price. He did a public signing in August and for some reason I had a brain fart and missed it and lost out on getting a signed ball for less than $100. To this day you can't buy an authenticated ball for less than $100 and they are almost always more than $150 with most going close to $200. I waited til the off season and hoped for a lower price and to a point they were out there but still PSA authenticated versions were at least $150-$175. I had work ahead for me if I wanted to acquire it before baseball season came back around and the price goes up yet again. The other kicker was I wanted the "R"ookiegraph designation for the ball as I wanted a rookie card version of Mike Trout as I knew I would never get his Bowman Chrome card which is over $700 minimum.

It was October so the next quarter in the eBay bucks program just started and I made sure that if at all possible my Christmas gifts would be bought via eBay and anyone in the family that had to buy something went through me. By the end of December I ended up with $65 in bucks. Every year I ask for the same thing from my father in law and he never disappoints and I get a $100 gift card for eBay and this year my mother also gave me a $25 gift card of eBay. Now I had $190 for a Mike Trout signed ball and I found one that a seller was selling for $205 delivered but it was a buy it now with immediate payment required. Problem was is that it was December 27th and my bucks were not usable til January 3rd. A full week and I just knew it would be gone when the bucks would become available. I convinced the seller that by looking at my feedback that I was honest and I would pay him and he was kind enough to change the auction so I could buy it and lock it in but not pay for it til the 3rd. On the third I sent payment and for a grand total of $15 out of pocket I was now a proud owner of a 2012 All Star baseball of the ROY Mike Trout with the inscription of it being his first All Star appearance and being authenticated by PSA as a "R"ookiegraph. I am debating on getting this graded as it is stunning.

Patience was a virtue in this purchase and I have this ball right next to my 2012 All Star baseball signed by Matt Kemp. They look great together.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Stephen Strasburg ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

For today and tomorrow I proudly wanted to show off my two big eBay bucks purchases. For those that don't know what eBay bucks are it is a program that eBay runs. Every quarter ( 3 months ) for every purchase you buy on eBay you earn eBay "bucks". It comes out to $1 per $50 you spend. They also have special days where you can earn double, triple and sometimes quadruple that amount. Also if you use their bill me later service it's an extra 1%. To say the least I use this program like crazy and I have my whole family buying their stuff through me so I get the credit so I can purchase those really pricey signed balls I covet. The first one I bought is an Angel but since I am going to their game Saturday I will blog on that tomorrow and with that I present to you the most recent one that I acquired. Mr. Stephen Strasburg.

Stephen came onto the scene with a bang in mid 2010 and dominated right off the bat. Just a few months after debuting though he ended up needing Tommy John surgery which puts a pitcher on the shelf for 12-18 months. I felt bad for the guy as he is an exciting young pitcher and he and our own Clayton Kershaw are the best young guns in the majors today. He had his surgery and surprisingly he made it back by late 2011 to pitch some games and it looked like he never left. Still putting up great numbers. 2012 was another great year but the team had stated he was on a limit and whether you agree or not with that decision the team stuck with it and shut him down in the last month of a pennant race. The Nationals made the playoffs but were bounced out early. The debate still continues if the Nationals made the right move. My opinion is that in the long run it was the right move but in the short run all you can think about is what could have been.

In this past quarter I earned almost $80 in eBay bucks and was determined to acquire Stephen's autograph on a ball. His signatures have been running anywhere between $130 to $175 depending on authenticated or not and the clarity and quality of the ball. I had sold some more of my comics and had $70 allocated for this transaction so with a total of $150 I went hunting. He pitched a gem on Opening Day and I knew that would jack up the price. I zeroed in on one auction from a reliable seller that I have bought from previously. He had the auction starting at $99 for a PSA authenticated sweet spot ball. There had been one bid put on the ball at the beginning of the auction and in the last hour there was still that one and no others. With seconds left I put a bid in at a little over my self allocated amount of $150 and thankfully I did. I ended up the winner at $142. That other bidder was serious as well as he obviously had a high ceiling as well but luckily I won it. I think his signatures are just going to continue to go up as he continues to mature. He and Clayton will do many battles together for the Cy Young. So far Kershaw 1 Strasburg 0. Great looking ball and for current money out of pocket being zero you can't ask for more. I love eBay bucks.

Carlos Quentin - Dodger Public Enemy # 1

I love the city of San Diego as I go there at least once a year and its usually to catch the Dodgers play at Petco but after yesterday brawl the Padres and more specifically Carlos "I'm a complete dumbass" Quentin can stick it up their ass.

The Padres have always have had a little brother complex pertaining to the Dodgers. The always have hated us more than we have hated them as our energy is usually pent up towards the Giants but what they did last night is a joke.

Earlier in the game they threw dangerously close to the head of Matt Kemp and he moved out of the way to avoid getting hit. That's just part of baseball and I understand and Matt should as well. Carlos Quentin does get hit but in the arm and he makes no attempt to get out of the way. Drops his bat and mouths a few choice words and charges the mound and in the end breaks Zack Greinke's collarbone which will probably sideline him at least a month if not more.

Here are the facts :

1) Carlos HAS been hit the most the past two years BUT he crowds the plate which increases the probability of getting plunked.
2) Matt went ballistic only after hearing from Zack himself that he was injured badly.
3) Jerry Hariston went after someone in the Padre dugout as they were making fun of Zack's injury.
4) Carlos was hit on a 3 and 2 pitch in a 2 to 1 game. It was not a blowout or a meaningless game. It there was intent it wouldn't have been pitched to his arm and it wouldn't have been in that spot.
5) Even Carlos's teammates have apologized for his actions as they know he was in the wrong. When your team doesn't back you, you know you are in the wrong.

Even after the game Carlos said it was basically Zack's fault and it could have been avoided. That there was a history between them. Yes, Zack has hit Carlos twice before when they were both in the AL but as stated Carlos has been hit enough times to lead the league the past two years. Even rival GM's of clubs state that he does that to get his On Base Percentage higher.

I don't like to see anyone get hurt and if this was reversed then I would hold the Dodgers at fault. We now have our 1A pitcher on the shelf while this dumbass will probably only get a max of 5 days suspension and will be back on the field sucking for a last place team while we have to plug another major hole and move forward. I am all for Don Mattingly's approach of if someone injures someone then that person can not play until the injured player is able to play again. I personally have stood by that thinking for years but I don't think this occurrence will change that in anyway.

After the game Kemp and Quentin ran into each other in clubhouse hallway and had to be separated by teammates and police with it ending with Kemp saying " We'll see Bitch ".

The Dodgers have a quick 3 game series in Arizona this weekend and then right back to Dodger Stadium to face this team. Monday is Jackie Robinson day and I for one don't think anything will happen unless the Padres do something really stupid as it is an appreciation day. The other two games you just never know but I also think Carlos will not be playing in any of them as he will be held out or under suspension. I have tickets to Monday's game which should be good.

Looking towards the future the next time the Dodgers are in San Diego is June 20th. I bought tickets months ago to this game and now it will have more intrigue than normal. GO BLUE !!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Kirk Gibson ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

Since I showed off Jesse's autograph yesterday I thought I would finally display my Kirk Gibson one as they will be forever intertwined due to the prank that Jesse did to Kirk in Spring Training.

I have never been fortunate enough to acquire Kirk's autograph in person since he is the Arizona Diamondback's manager and is only out here in L.A. 9 times a year and even then he is in no hurry to accommodate Dodger fans. There are still reports that he has some major issues with the organization and it took some major arm twisting last year to have his likeness appear on a bobble head for last year's 50th anniversary celebration

The couple of times I have seen him at the stadium signing I have walked up to him and he always states that he is only signing for kids that day. He might sign at other times for adults but never the days I am around. I've always wanted his signature on a ball and til that time I can get it in person I go to my plan B which is eBay.

I bought this ball a few years ago and when I took the pictures for my collection I noticed it has toned a little which even though you know it will happen it still irks you when it does. I don't remember the exact price that I paid but I do know it was less than $50. So for that amount I got a PSA signed baseball of a Dodger Legend and two time world series champion. In hindsight I think I might have overpaid a little but you can't have a Dodger collection without a Kirk Gibson autograph. So til the day I can get a snow white version in person I will enjoy this autograph from the man that has probably the greatest home run in Dodger history.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Jesse Orosco ( ROMLB Sweet Spot w/ World Series Inscription )

It's been 25 LONG YEARS that the Dodgers have won a World Series and worse that same amount of time since they have even appeared in one. I've gotten a few signatures here and there of the team with Orel being the only one I have gotten in person. Looking through eBay as I always do and came across a player that looked a like a great bargain to get if the price was low enough in the end. Jesse Orosco is that player.

Jesse was a personal lighting rod to Kirk Gibson as the famous story goes he put shoe black in Kirk's cap and once he found out and people were laughing at him became incensed. I think it actually brought the team together in the end.

I have never really wanted to pay for Jesse's signature as they always seemed pricey for a reliever but I think it due to him being a two time world series champion. This past January at a show in Anaheim he appeared and was charging $25 and with an inscription for $10 more and if you wanted PSA you can tack on another $10. So $45 total with the cost of the ball of at least $13. I passed and moved on. Well I was on eBay and my favorite and trustworthy dealer in Arizona had signed baseballs from this show with "88 World Series Champions" on a ball with a starting bid of .99 cents. I kept an eye on it and wanted to see how it would end. As the auction was nearing its end it was still at only $15. Wasn't going to pass up a deal so I put a bid in and I won the ball for a total of $20. His signature would not be worth it if I went to meet him in person but for $20 with an inscription on a regulation ball can't be beat. I am happy to add this item to my collection at that cost. Another great eBay pickup for me.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Andrew McCutchen ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

I had attended the Dodger game the prior day and had no intention of going to Sunday's game. It was a day game, already dragged the wife to two games that week and we have two more coming this upcoming week and my wallet needed a rest, etc. Enough reasons to stay home. But as posted in my attended game 4.7.2013 entry I ended up going to the game.

I went in hope of getting Russell Martin's autograph to complete a years old project that only needs his John Hancock. I even paid extra for seats right next to the Pirates dugout and stood in line after the game and to my disappointment I left empty handed in that quest.

Two things that I did get though that were good and great. I have never sat in the Prime Ticket Club seats since they remodeled into All You Can Eat a few years ago as the prices skyrocketed. So I got to take in the restaurant food and to my amazement they actually had some really good food. I made sure I got my moneys worth and I did end up going home bloated and happy on that front.

The other thing that was great was that since I was on the Pirate side of the field there was less people around. On the 3rd base side there are always more people for Kemp and Ethier potential signatures. Having the Pirates in town meant not much real demand per se as they only real star they have is Andrew McCutchen and even though I have my supplies always ready to go I wasn't holding my breath.

Andrew was doing his pre game stretches and after he was done he started to come towards the 1st base wall barrier and at least for me surprising started to sign for people. I saw him and had ball and pen in hand but wasn't going to move til I knew for sure he was going to sign but as he came closer I ran over and with only 4 other people around me there wasn't much commotion. I handed him a ball with a pen and he signed it on the sweet spot. I said thank you and went about my way. He wasn't very talkative as he didn't respond to me or a couple other people but he was kind enough to take the time to sign for Dodger fans and that was a cool thing. Thank you Andrew for the great looking autograph.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Josh Beckett ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

So I attended my first nighttime and weekend game this past Saturday with a recap in my 4.6.13 attended game post. At the game I was able to acquire an autograph that I presumed would be hard for me to get this year and have heard from many people that was more true than not considering the player. That player is Josh Beckett.

As new players join the team I always want to get their autograph in person. This year I have a few that are on my main hit list, Adrian, Ryu, etc, but Josh was the highest on my list due to the fact that he unlike the others are not signed for years after 2013 and probably won't be on the team next year which makes his a priority. I have heard from many people that while in Boston he was a hard signature as well as when he was with the Marlins. Though I  also have heard that once he arrived in L.A. he has mellowed a bit but still not the easiest to track down. I missed him at Spring Training this year and had to hope to get him at the stadium.

Once I arrived at the stadium I went to my usual spot along the 3rd base side in hope of acquiring some autographs. No one really came by until Josh walked by and someone got his attention and he said I'll be back to sign. He took a couple of steps and I guessed changed his mind and came back and started signing for that person I swiftly moved over and as he was signing he was saying "only a few more, two more now " and then he said only for kids. Ugh. He was about to leave and I said Josh could you sign one more please for me and luckily he did and then left. I was the last to get his autograph.

This would be my only single signed ball of the day but it was the main one of the year I really wanted/needed to acquire so everything else is just gravy now. Josh is a two time world series champion and multiple all star. A great signature to have and I now am lucky enough to say I have it in my collection. Thank you again Josh.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day - Player Appearance Recap : Tim Wallach ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

This past Saturday Harry's Dugout held their second in store signing and this time it was former Dodger player and current Dodger coach Tim Wallach.

I have never gotten his signature at the stadium but at the same time I haven't tried as hard as I could have. I wanted to support my local card shop and at only $15 per signature I thought I would take the drive out there prior to heading out to the game.

Arrived around 10:20 and there were maybe 7 people hanging around and I just jumped into what passed as a line. With that little of people everyone just struck up conversations with everyone. Tommy Lasorda and his piss poor attitude was the main topic. Ha Ha.

Tim arrived right around 11 and started signing within a few minutes of entering the store. Went in and paid for my ticket and jumped in line. Chatted with Tim for a minute and he asked me if I wanted his number inscribed on the ball and I said sure. He then asked him if he wanted me to put his playing days number or his current coach number and I thought for a minute and said current as that is when I am acquiring the ball. He said ok and then he told me he hated that number. I responded you should have told me but he just laughed. Said thank you and shook his hand and wished him luck for that night's game.

Tim couldn't be nicer. Thank you again to Harry's Dugout. Come out and support the small business.

Attended Game Recap : April 7th vs Pirates - DODGERS 6 Pirates 2

Wasn't planning to go to this game as I had already been to two this week and one was just the previous day but I really wanted Russell Martin's autograph as he is the final player I need on a project that has taken years to complete as I can never find him.

Watched stub hub until it was a little less than two hours to game time and finally some seats in the Prime Ticket Club were available at a so so affordable price but that would put me right next to the Pirate dugout. Better my chances.

Got to the stadium around 12:30 and headed over to the dugout but he never came out and I assumed I lost my chance. On the way out I forgot about the exit area where the players leave and tried my chance there. Russell did show up but passed my three separate times. Damn It. So the project continues uncompleted for at least another 2 months til the Pirates visit the Angels.

The game was the best offense game that Dodgers have played and other than the first inning when Ryu gave up a two run home run to Andrew McCutchen he dominated the Pirates and received his first Major League win. Another notch in my personal firsts with the Dodgers. The offense was present as well including slumping Kemp. Good signs before they go on the road.

I did get one autograph and since I was on the Pirate side obviously it was a Pirate. Only one worth getting in my mind other than Russell but I will do a post on that Tuesday. I'm sure people can guess though.

Signed Ball of the Day - Attended Game Recap : April 6th vs. Pirates - DODGERS 1 Pirates 0

Second game of the year and my first nighttime game. Lucky me that I got to see Kershaw once again and once again he pitched a gem. Only thing missing was no home run and no complete game but he extended his scoreless pitching streak to 20 innings. No small feat.

Arrived at the stadium around 3 to get in early for batting practice and hopefully some autographs. Lined up on the 3rd base side as always and waited patiently. As Kemp and Ethier completed their game of catch Kemp rolled the ball right to where I was standing and I scooped it up. I have never gotten a ball so tarred or mudded or whatever they do to it before using it. Take a look.

Hoping now for an autograph and no one really came over except one player that I really wanted. I will do a separate post tomorrow on that one for the autograph of the day.

Around 4 I headed over to the pavilions for continued batting practice in my front row seats as my father in law always likes to get these seats at least once a year. Once the Pirates took the field the first one that was cranked in my area came right to me and thankfully I caught it and didn't make a fool out of myself by dropping it. Almost a brand new ball.

Right before the game started Chad Billingsley was in the bullpen and I like a lot of people got his attention and I got to add him to my 2013 team signed ball as I already have him on a single signed one. Half way there on the ball.

Sat down and enjoyed a Kershaw pitched game and though the offense was silent once again we did score one more than the Pirates and got to see another Dodger win. Also got to eat my first Cool A Coo. Damn these are great.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Signed Ball of the Day : Bryce Harper ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

Today we look at one of the two most exciting everyday players other than Matt Kemp in my opinion. Bryce Harper is starting his first full season this year and is already on fire. Launching two home runs on Opening Day.

I heard all about Bryce when he was a teenager and his supposed attitude problem. He has been compared to the next Mickey Mantle. That is also the reason he wears number 34. 3 + 4 equals 7 which is the number that the Mick wore. It wasn't if he would make the big leagues but when and how good he would be when he did make it there. Last year I had bought tickets months in advance for the Drysdale/Wills bobble head that was going to be given away on April 28th. The Washington Nationals would be in town and the chance to see pitcher phenom Stephen Strasburg was a possibility. A couple days before the game it was announced that Bryce Harper would be making his major league debut that day. Also Strasburg was scheduled to pitch. A good game just became a great game to attend. During batting practice I was able to get Bryce to throw me a ball from the field. While it can never be proven that he did this on his debut day I know it's true and that's all that matters. Bryce ending up getting a hit that day and had the smugness of tossing his helmet off while he legged out a double. Maturity was not present this day. He ended up winning the Rookie of the Year award and whether you like his attitude or not the young man looks like he will be here a long time putting up monster numbers.

I knew I wanted to get a signed ball from him at some time but after the game I thought I better get on it before the price skyrockets. Of to eBay I went and authenticated balls were going for at least $85-90 with most topping at $100. Really didn't want to pay that amount so I just kept my eyes out for bargains. Couple months passed and I finally found someone selling multiple copies of signed balls authenticated by PSA. He had some auctions that included 2 or 3 of Bryce. So I decided to bid on those and I won an auction that had two PSA signed balls for a total of $140. A bargain considering what only one cost. Received the box and sold one of them for a little over $90. So I came out ahead as I only paid a little over $50 in the end for a Bryce Harper signed ball.

Usually the story ends there but I have been going through my collection to take pictures for the blog and I came around to the Bryce ball and the ink has bled out of the signature. What the hell? Obviously whatever pen they used is not good for balls but considering I didn't know what kind of pen they used I don't know which one to stay away from in the future. Here are a couple of pictures to look at. Has anyone else have had this problem? What does everyone else use for their autographs? I use a pen called "Jetstream". A bit pricey but they seem to work better.

To say the least I wanted a better quality of Bryce's signature. I put the less than desirable one up for sale on eBay with a $80 starting bid with a  $100 buy it now option. This ball also happened to have the PSA "R"ookiegraph designation on it which I think helped its desirability. Even though the ball shows "issues" it still is a rookie ball. At the same time I eyed a JSA authenticated ball that had a starting bid of $100. An even swap would be ideal but I knew I wouldn't be that lucky. Two days after I put up my auction someone bought it for the $100 price tag. More than happy with that considering my opinion of the condition. The JSA auction was nearing its end and it was sitting at $110 with a minute to go. At the last minute I put my bid in and the final price was $130 delivered. My bid was the highest. I now had a replacement ball for my collection and it looks great. Much better than the one I sold.

Since his 2 home run opening day performance his signed baseballs have gone up and the same seller I bought the ball from has another one up for bid as of today and with two days left it is already at $150. I won mine at the right time. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Upcoming Appearance / Signing : Riddick Bowe @ Harry's Dugout 4.20.2013

Riddick Bowe will be doing a signing appearance in a short couple of weeks at Harry's Dugout.

Come on down to this great new shop in Whittier and mingle with fans and meet up with the former world champion.

Harry's Dugout has this and many upcoming signings in the new future including Tim Wallach this Saturday the 6th. Contact the store for more information.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Card of the Day : Clayton Kershaw 2006 Bowman Chrome Rookie Card Autographed Refractor BGS 9.5 Gem Mint ( 475 / 500 )

On the second of back to back days pertaining to one Clayton Kershaw I present to you the only other card I own in my collection. Last week I showed off Matt Kemp's and today it's Clayton's turn.

Back in 2010 as stated in Matt Kemp's post it was the offseason and after I acquired Matt's Bowman Chrome I figured I just had to bookend that one with Clayton's version of a BGS 9.5 of his Bowman Chrome Rookie Card. Unlike Matt's card there were no raw ones I saw on eBay that looked like it would grade out to the 9.5 that I had to have so I went with Plan B and that was to purchase one that already had been graded by BGS.

Today and just like back in 2010 there never seems to be a lot of copies up for bid on eBay. Everyone has it set up for Buy It Now and I did not want to pay the price people were asking for. It was getting to be late December and knowing baseball season was around the corner I knew prices were going to pick up and I was losing hope in finding one but someone did put one up for a starting bid of a penny. Here we go. I sold an extra signed ball and a few extra bobble heads that totaled over $100. Had money in hand ready to start bidding. Price went up pretty fast and within the two days it was already up to $80 and thought it would just climb too high for my tastes. On the last day it was still sitting at $125 so I was still in the game. I put my bid in and the auction ended with a winning bid of $145 which was my bid.

So in the course of a couple of months I had acquired Bowman Chrome Rookie Refractor BGS 9.5 Gem Mint cards of the two cornerstones and my two favorite players on the Dodgers. To this day they are still the only two cards I own. If that is to be my total card collection forever so be it but they are two great looking cards. I still think Clayton's is way under priced in today's market and can only go up.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Movie Review : G.I Joe Retaliation

The sequel to the 2009 film has finally been released. It had a long road to the big screen as the cast of characters has totally been turned over and the movie had been delayed a few times.

The film opens up with Roadblock ( The Rock Ne Dwayne Johnson ) and Duke ( Channing Tatum ) heading a group to rescue a captive in the DMZ of the Koreas. Once the mission is accomplished they had a day or so of R and R before the extraction team were to get them and bring them home but the team that comes for them is hardly friendly. We see that COBRA has taken over the USA government and plans to rule the world or destroy it. Cobra Commander and Destro defeated from the first film are held captive deep underground and are rescued by a disguised Storm Shadow.

Roadblock and his group left abandoned and thought dead by most make there way back to the USA to exact revenge on those that attacked them and they enlist the help of one Bruce Willis who is playing a retired general. All the time Cobra Commander is working behind the scenes as his plant in the oval office holds the other world's nuclear leaders hostage by their new weapon that is situated up in space. To prove his point he drops one of the weapons onto London, England which is an impressive special effect. The leaders reluctantly bow and give control over to COBRA while we see Roadblock and his crew take on COBRA and their henchmen. In the end G.I. Joe reigns supreme though COBRA has been defeated Cobra Commander made his escape to fight another day.

Verdict : Review is short as the movie is short and thin on a plot. While some of the effects are impressive the story stretches itself to fill in the almost two hour movie. The best parts of the film are whenever Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes are on the screen or better yet at the same time. They have the best fight scenes by far. Snake Eyes doesn't speak and that actually adds to the film. Since this is a live action film there was no way I was springing for 3D format and from what I heard that was a wise decision. I love The Rock in most films and he was the main draw for me in this one but he like most of the talent were wasted on the film's thin plot. To me this movie was an upgrade from the first film but that is not saying much. It hurts me as I love the actors in other movies but in this one they just didn't click for me and with that this movie gets a slight THUMBS DOWN for me.

Signed Ball of the Day : Clayon Kershaw ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

The day after Opening Day. I wasn't planning to do a post today and for sure wasn't going to do one of only two single signed Kershaw autographs that I own but after yesterday I have been pressed to talk about them.

So for today I will go with my typical single signed baseball. Back in 2008 Clayton was pushing his way to the big leagues with his dominant starts in high school and the minor leagues. His nickname in the blogging world at the the time was "The Minotaur" due to the fact that his was the mythical creature that everyone hears about but has never seen. I was at work one day and early in May my friend came in and said do you want to go to a game on the 24th which happened to be a weekend game but a day game. The wife does not like to go to those as the sun can be unbearing which I totally agree with. Wasn't sure if I was going to go even though they were great seats. A couple days before the game it was announced that Clayton would be making his major league debut that day. No way was I going to miss that. The Cardinals were in town so that meant Kershaw vs. Pujols. The game ended well for the Dodgers as they won in extra innings and Clayton went a strong 6 innings for the no decision. So I have now attended his first game ever and his first home run ever. Hope I am there when he achieves his first no hitter ever.

So having been at that game and me in my collecting mode I went about to acquire a signed ball by Clayton. EBay was obviously the choice for me to find it. Prices were understandable high at the time but I was lucky to find a MLB authenticated sweet spot ball with a low starting bid. I ended up winning the auction in early June for a tad over $52 delivered. Not too bad of an end price. Now if I would have bought this same ball in early May I could have had it for $30ish. I snoozed so I missed out on that. But I do have a Kershaw signed ball in my collection and I couldn't be happier.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Attended Game Recap : April 1st vs Giants ( Opening Day ) DODGERS 4 Giants 0

It's Time For Dodger Baseball...... Ahh those great words spoken for the first time of the year at Dodger Stadium today. The first game of the year is always a special one as we have missed our team for many months and we finally get to see them back on the field for a "real" game.

Headed out to the stadium around 10:30 and was parked and walking in around 11:10. Not too shabby considering we were coming from the Torrance area. Once inside I headed over to the new store on the Reserve level and though I don't need anymore new hats there were two to be had that I couldn't resist.

While in line I noticed they had little foam fingers for just one finger. They are so funny looking I had to buy one.

I have never collected pins but I also couldn't resist obtaining this Opening Day pin to commemorate the day.

Headed over to our seats and got to see the introductions of the two teams. Magic Johnson then came out to throw out the first pitch but was taken out by Manager Don Mattingly and brought in Sandy Koufax instead. A little foreshadowing prior to the game.

The game itself was classic Dodger vs Giants and more so Clayton Kershaw vs the punk ass orange team from up north. Clayton dominated the defending champs but Matt Cain of the Giants was up to it as well as they matched each other stride for stride til the 8th when with the still scoreless Clayton took matters into his own hands and launched his first career home run into dead center to give the Dodger the lead which they never relinquished. Dodgers went onto take on 3 more runs and Clayton closed the door on the Giants in the 9th. He is the second pitcher in history to throw a complete game shutout and hit a home run on opening day.

Koufax to Kershaw if the torch was not passed before today sure has now. The greatest left handed Dodger pitcher gave way to the current and possibly the greatest left hander in Dodger history. As a side not Orel from the 1988 team was the catcher for Koufax today to celebrate the 50th and 25th anniversaries of two past champions. It's in the air and all we can do is hope and pray that our season ends in champagne in late October.