There are a few hucksters on Ebay, whom I don’t care to give free advertising by mentioning by name, who hawk “graded” cards on Ebay and claim them to be especially valuable. One even puts supposed appraised values in his listings in parenthesis, then invites you to visit his page for an explanation of “graded” value, where he cites an example of a run-of-the-mill 1970s star card, normally worth $60, being worth $2,500 once graded.
The thing is, that’s an edge case. It’s important to understand those edge cases to avoid a ripoff.
Years ago, probably sometime in 2009 or 2010, a coworker asked me when the Royals would be good again. I estimated 2014, based on the age of the serviceable young players they had at the time and the age of the prospects they had in their farm system.
By 2014, I estimated that Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer would all be productive major league players, and that would give them a chance. A whole lot of other things would have to go right though, and the window of opportunity would be short, because modern economics wouldn’t permit the Royals to keep all four of them together as long as the Royals of yore kept George Brett, Frank White, Hal McRae and Willie Wilson together.
Objectively, it sounded plausible. But did I believe it? Not really. I’d been denied too many times. Read more
If there’s one thing I’ve heard this week, it’s that people can’t imagine what it’s like being a Royals fan through their 29-year drought without playing in a postseason. I can tell you what it’s like. We’ve had some highlights, but mostly we’ve put up with endless parades of really bad players and really bad managers.
Those of you who enjoy looking at gruesome things, keep reading. These are the players we’ve spent 2.9 decades trying to forget. But keep this in mind: My hair started going prematurely gray in 1986, the same year Dick Howser died and the Royals started fading.
So last night I went to the Royals-Cardinals game in St. Louis with one of my best friends. Being a Cardinals fan, he doesn’t follow the Royals much, so I filled him in a bit.
I told him I like when the Royals play National League teams and don’t have the DH rule, because their pitchers are some of their best hitters. To prove my point, James Shields, the Royals’ starting pitcher, went two for two with a single, a double, a run scored and a run batted in. Read more
I grew up admiring Ryne Sandberg. He was a hard-hitting, smooth-fielding second baseman, and while his hitting statistics look a little wimpy compared to the steroids era, in the 1980s the sight of him in the on-deck circle struck fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers. He went on to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and I’m glad to have had the chance to watch him play. I watched him a lot, because all the Cubs games were on WGN, which was available nationally.
Now Sandberg is the new manager of the Phillies. As a Kansas City Royals fan–bear with me–I have a special perspective on this.
The Kansas City Star had a piece today about the sharp decline in the number of African-Americans playing baseball. Of course, when I grew up, the Royals relied heavily on African-Americans. George Brett was the star, but without Willie Wilson and Frank White hitting ahead of him and Hal McRae and Willie Aikens or John Mayberry hitting behind him, opposing pitchers would have never thrown Brett a hittable pitch.
Today, the Royals’ starting position players, their five starting pitchers and all of their key relief pitchers are all either white or Hispanic. The only African-American on their roster right now is speedy outfielder Jarrod Dyson.
I think I know why.
I don’t write about baseball all that often anymore, because to do a good job of it day to day you have to immerse yourself in it more than I’m willing or able to do, but I enjoy baseball. And I’m a long-suffering Kansas City Royals fan. One of my earliest memories is going to a Royals game with my dad and cheering for George Brett. I had a framed–framed!–George Brett poster hanging in my bedroom for 25 years, and though that poster is exiled to the basement now, it’s still hanging on a wall.
I gave up on the Royals in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, then watched in disbelief as Dane Iorg delivered a clutch pinch-hit RBI single as part of an improbable comeback. I happened to be in Kansas City that weekend, and the city was positively electric the next day. I watched Bret Saberhagen toss an 11-0 masterpiece in Game 7. And then?
Well, Bo Jackson came and went. That was fun, but way too short. I watched George Brett win another batting title, get his 3,000th hit, retire in a Royals uniform, and go into the Hall of Fame. And I watched the Royals trade away a lot of talent and get little, if any, value in return.
Most Royals bloggers on the Internet today followed the same trajectory that I did, though some missed the 1970s. That explains some of the reaction to this trade. Read more
I’m a Royals fan living in St. Louis, so my perspective on Albert Pujols has always been that he’s the one who got away. He went to high school and college in Kansas City, but somehow Royals scouts overlooked him. The Cardinals signed him, and he became a once-in-a-generation player. Even if he never plays another game in the majors, he’s a lock for the Hall of Fame.
Fans loved him, because, well, who doesn’t like a guy who hits .299 with 37 home runs and 99 RBIs in the worst year of his career? He’s always been detached and distant, but St. Louisans will forgive that for wins and numbers. He talked about being a Cardinal for life, but then St. Louis woke up on Thursday morning, drove to work, and found out on the rush-hour radio that he was gone, signed to the Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim, the Tikki Tikki Tembo Nosa Rembo Chari Bari Ruchi Pip Pen Pembo of baseball.
The Kansas City Royals didn’t exactly fire Frank White this week. They just dumped him like last week’s garbage.
And that’s a completely classless act, given Frank White’s history with the franchise. Frank White literally helped build Royals Stadium–now Kauffman Stadium. He worked on the stadium construction crew as a teenager. He went to the Royals baseball academy, worked through the Royals’ minor league system in three years, then played 17 years for the Royals at second base, winning 8 gold gloves, appearing in five All-Star games, and hitting cleanup in the 1985 World Series. He did everything the team ever asked of him, and he did it well. After his playing days were done, he came back to the Royals in 1997, where he’s done various jobs but has rarely been appreciated.
When I was a young kid, my dad’s favorite baseball player was George Brett. Anyone who saw Brett play knows why. Dad’s second-favorite player was debatable, but it was probably Willie Aikens.
Well, until the scandal.