April 22, 2005

Before I dive into this week’s diatribe, a quick story?

On Wednesday, while spending the day out on the northern tip of Long Island, I stumbled into an old-looking toy store located on a street with about 15 other small shops. On the front door hung a small sign that read, "Sports Cards Inside," and looked as if it had been placed there about the same time that fantasy baseball was invented. I entered the store, said hello to the token small-town toy store guy behind the counter, and then walked around until I located the advertised "Sports Cards."

Boxes full of 1990 and 1991 baseball, football and basketball cards were just sitting around. Apparently Topps, Donruss and other card manufacturers hadn’t shipped anything to this store since the first George Bush was in office — especially considering that there were also boxes of Desert Storm trading cards on the shelves.

Now, normally stumbling upon old boxes of baseball cards would be a potential gold mine, or at least a chance to buy some vintage stuff for a very low price tag. Problem here is that cards from the early 1990s are probably the least valuable cards ever produced. The 14- and 15-year-old price stickers on each box read $29.99 — a number that actually exceeds the present value of these cards (a complete set of ’90 Topps is listed as $20 in Beckett this month).

Back in the late ’80s, when the baseball card market was booming, discovering cards from 10-15 years ago would have yielded treasures such as Mike Schmidt, George Brett, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount rookie cards — all worth several hundreds of dollars. I used to have dreams of driving in Middle America, and coming across old boxes of unopened cards from the early ’50s. You would always hear stories about people who bought old houses and found the famous Honus Wagner rookie card sitting in an old trunk or desk. Each collector had his own fantasy about making a similar find some day.

Well, my moment finally came, years after baseball cards stopped mattering. While the boxes I found probably contained cards such as Ken Griffey Jr, Frank Thomas and Sammy Sosa rookies, the fact that those cards combined (about $8) are worth less than one movie ticket (at least in NY), made the moment about 1/1000th as exciting as any dream I ever had growing up. Then again, those Colin Powell rookies could one day be worth a fortune.

On to this week’s Katastrophe Award nominees?

Oliver Perez

Perez is 2-for-2 in making this list so far this season.

He’s pitched in four games and has been terrible each time, giving up more earned runs (19) than any non-Rockies pitcher in baseball. Last season in 30 starts, Perez failed to finish the fifth inning only once. This year he’s already been knocked out early twice. In 2004, he only had two games where he allowed more than 10 hits and walks combined. He’s topped that number in three of four outings in 2005.

Since I didn’t watch him pitch at all least year, I feel like I’ve been hustled. Did he really allow only 145 hits in 196 innings? How is it possible his ERA was under 3.00? If there is anyone out there who can honestly say he watched Perez pitch more than a half dozen times in 2004, please let me know.

Clint Barmes

When faced with the decision of picking up Clint Barmes and dropping Aaron Boone two weeks ago, I opted to hang on to Boone, hoping the former 25-25 threat would return to his pre-basketball injury days. Barmes, on the other hand, was an unproven rookie, whose most notable accomplishment prior to this season was that his name was eerily similar to former Dallas oil baron Cliff Barnes.

After Thursday’s games their numbers were?

Barmes: .448-4-12-2
Boone: .127-2-8-0

Hmmm. Not looking like the wisest decision, is it?

The non-drop of Boone is this year’s early candidate to equal last year’s Jamie Moyer for Johan Santana trade decline.

Carlos Pena

Waiting too long to cut Boone (which I finally did about 15 seconds before writing this sentence) led me to pull the trigger on Pena, probably earlier than I should have. I drafted him in the middle rounds back in March, expecting the soon-to-be 27-year-old slugger to produce 30 homers, 10 steals and a .250-.260 average. However, his recent 2-for-23 slide with zilch on the homer or steal ends led me to give up on the Tigers first baseman.

Since I, for some reason, feel the need to employ as many Detroit players as possible this season in our office league (Omar Infante, Brandon Inge, Magglio Ordonez), I added Nook Logan (you always need a guy with a cool name on your team) this morning, hoping that he will help elevate my team’s .259 average and 11 steals to respectable levels.

In other words, sell high on Logan and buy low on Pena right now.

Tony Womack

Womack wanted little part of the Yankees’ 19-run barrage against Tampa Bay on Monday night. Sure he got a base hit, but a 1-for-6 performance in a game where your team tallies 20 hits is slightly disappointing.

His .245 average and two steals are looking a lot like his 2003 season, when he almost worked his way out of baseball with a .226 average and 13 steals — between three different teams. The fact that Cliff Floyd stole as many bases in one inning Thursday night as Womack has all season should be a concern to anyone who was counting on the 35-year-old former steals king for a 30-plus SB season.

Jack Wilson

Wilson deserves a quick mention, since he has easily been the worst fantasy hitter of the first three weeks. I only own him on one team (an auto, list draft league, so it wasn’t really my choice), but just the thought of his .143 average (9-for-63), zero homers, zero steals, two RBIs and three runs is enough to scare any fantasy owner away from ever drafting a middle infielder coming off a career year.

Reality TV Check

Is it just me, or do none of the final four candidates seem qualified to actually win the third season of "The Apprentice?" Alex seemed like the early favorite, but has botched more tasks in the last few weeks than Kaz Matsui has ground balls. Kendra and Tana have had their moments, but working as a bigwig (last time I ever write the word "bigwig") for Trump? I just don’t see it. Craig? He has almost no business experience, and, at 37, seems a bit old to be labeled an apprentice. Unlike on "Survivor," where you have at least four (Tom, Ian, Gregg and Stephenie) remaining people who all deserve to win, the faux-fab four on "The Apprentice" are more like the annual subpar NFL division where no team deserves a playoff spot, but someone has to make it (think NFC West in 2004).

And this week’s Klayman Katastrophe Award winner is?

Boone. Anyone who remembers how bad Boone looked at the plate during the 2003 postseason — with the exception of his pennant-winning HR — shouldn’t be totally surprised at his recent demise.

1 Comment

Great write-up. I drafted Barmes then dropped him for Placido Polanco before the season started. Fortunately you picked up Boone, the Yankee hero, and left Barmes for me to grab (after he had 2 great games).

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