Category Archives: Randy Wolf

Good for Wolf

Although I am highly opinionated when it comes to politics and social issues, I do my best to express my thoughts and opinions in the proper forum. Typically, blogs about baseball cards are not the place for them. However, as much as we all like to conveniently ignore the fact, baseball is first and foremost an entertainment industry, 2006 Fleer Wolfand it is not immune to many of the forces and trends facing other American industries. With that in mind, I have to applaud Randy Wolf’s refusal to sign an amended contract just to make the Mariners roster.

While the Mariners were technically in their right to ask for such a modification (the collective bargaining agreement allows them), it really did reek of negotiating in bad faith. Wolf signed his contract in February with the understanding that if he made the team then the contract became guaranteed. At a minimum, the Mariners could have informed Wolf when he signed the contract that they might ask him for one should he make the team — apparently the team cannot request the 45-day advance-consent clause unless the player actually makes the team. Their attempt to change the terms of the agreement now is another example of how companies in this country are using the fear of losing one’s job to their advantage. They want us cowered and scared, and they want to simultaneously nickel-and-dime us while doing so. Admittedly, we’re talking about professional athlete salaries here and not middle class incomes, but the parallelism is clear and obvious.

Good for Wolf for not playing along with the Mariners financial game. He’s made a lot of money during the course of his career, so he had more bargaining power than the rest of us typically carry. By current baseball standards, Wolf’s contract really was low-risk for the Mariners — they were 2002 MLB Showdown Wolfonly responsible for $1 million in salary for his making the team — and if they really wanted Wolf on the opening day roster then they should have honored the contract that he signed in good faith. If the baseball gods are just, the Mariners will be punished for their attempt to save what amounts to a rounding error for most team’s player salary budgets.

The Wolf jersey I purchased back in 2003 still hangs in my closet. I hope he finds employment with another team. Whether he does or not, I plan to wear it again with pride after his retirement or upon his return to the Phillies, should such an event occur. We can’t rule that out — after all Marlon Byrd and Bobby Abreu are already back.

Edit to add: I really loved this quote from Wolf in a different news story about his release: “The day should have started with a handshake and congratulations instead of a 24-hour feeling of licking a D cell battery.”

Featured Cards: 2006 Fleer #267; 2002 MLB Showdown #261

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Jersey Etiquette

Featured Card: 2004 Fleer Platinum #54, Randy Wolf

Tomorrow I’ll be going to my first Phillies game of the year. Living in Northern Virginia means that I almost exclusively see the Phillies only when they visit DC, and even though I’ve lived in the region for 15 years now, I’m just as unwelcome as any other Phillies fan when I show up in my cap and jersey.

2004 Platinum Wolf FrontFor me, there’s an extra bonus in going to tomorrow’s game: I’ll be wearing my Randy Wolf jersey for the first time since 2006. Yes, I follow some sort of weird jersey etiquette that I may have actually made up. After a player leaves the team, I don’t get rid of the jersey — I hold on to it and start wearing it again once he either retires or returns to the team. I’ve left my Wolf home jersey, which bears the final year of Veterans Stadium patch, sitting on its hanger since he departed via free agency for Los Angeles. Interestingly, its return to active rotation basically coincides with my leaving my Joe Blanton jersey untouched until the proper time comes.

I may very well be wrong about this, but based his 2013 performance thus far, I probably won’t have to wait another seven years before wearing the Blanton jersey again.

2005 Donruss Diamond Kings Signature

Set Type: Insert
Card dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Additional Information: Distributed in Packs of 2005 Donruss Diamond Kings. The large number of parallels combined with inconsistent print runs for each of the parallels make it difficult to concisely list the Signature inserts and all their print runs. As a result, the checklist for each of the various parallels is listed individually below, with the print run for each player listed in parenthesis after his name (unless otherwise specified). The serial number is printed on the back of all the cards.

Signature Black
All cards “1/1”
174
177
Mike Lieberthal
Randy Wolf
Signature Bronze 174
177
382
384
419
Mike Lieberthal (100)
Randy Wolf (100)
Marlon Byrd (100)
Brett Myers (100)
Scott Rolen (5)
Signature Framed Black
All cards “1/1”
174
177
382
384
419
Mike Lieberthal
Randy Wolf
Marlon Byrd
Brett Myers
Scott Rolen
Signature Framed
Black Platinum

All cards “1/1”
174
177
382
384
419
Mike Lieberthal
Randy Wolf
Marlon Byrd
Brett Myers
Scott Rolen
Signature Framed Blue 174
177
382
384
419
Mike Lieberthal (10)
Randy Wolf (10)
Marlon Byrd (1)
Brett Myers (1)
Scott Rolen (1)
Signature Framed
Blue Platinum

All cards “1/1”
174
177
382
384
419
Mike Lieberthal
Randy Wolf
Marlon Byrd
Brett Myers
Scott Rolen
Signature Framed Green 174
177
382
384
419
Mike Lieberthal (5)
Randy Wolf (5)
Marlon Byrd (1)
Brett Myers (1)
Scott Rolen (1)
Signature Framed
Green Platinum

All cards “1/1”
174
177
382
384
419
Mike Lieberthal
Randy Wolf
Marlon Byrd
Brett Myers
Scott Rolen
Framed Red 174
177
382
384
419
Mike Lieberthal (100)
Randy Wolf (50)
Marlon Byrd (1)
Brett Myers (1)
Scott Rolen (1)
Signature Framed
Red Platinum

All cards “1/1”
174
177
382
384
419
Mike Lieberthal
Randy Wolf
Marlon Byrd
Brett Myers
Scott Rolen
Signature Gold 174
177
382
384
419
Mike Lieberthal (5)
Randy Wolf (5)
Marlon Byrd (25)
Brett Myers (25)
Scott Rolen (5)
Signature Platinum
All cards “1/1”
174
177
382
384
419
Mike Lieberthal
Randy Wolf
Marlon Byrd
Brett Myers
Scott Rolen
Signature Silver 174
177
382
384
419
Mike Lieberthal (10)
Randy Wolf (10)
Marlon Byrd (100)
Brett Myers (100)
Scott Rolen (5)

2011 Phillies Cards in Review: Autograph Card of the Year

It’s come to my attention that 2012 Topps Series One hits store shelves in just one week, which means if I’m going to finish my 2011 Phillies Year in Review posts before they arrive, I better get about completing them. When I started this little endeavor, picking my favorite autograph card of the year seemed like an obvious category. However, it turns out that I did not actually collect very many 2011 autograph issues. The primary reason for this is the sheer expense of so many Phillies autograph cards — i.e., the small print runs and popularity of the players most likely to receive such treatment makes the cards somewhat expensive. Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino seemed to dominate the Phillies autograph issues this year — with Victorino easily being the least expensive of the bunch. Furthermore, this past year, there just weren’t any cards like the 2010 Topps 206 Brian Schneider or the 2010 Topps Allen & Ginter’s Placido Polanco. In 2011 Domonic Brown was just about the only Phillie, other than Victorino, whom you could inexpensively acquire on an autograph.

Now, those aren’t the only reasons why I picked up so few 2011 autograph issues. The other is Topps’s unceasing fetish for issuing autograph cards of players who won’t, and this is if they’re lucky, step foot onto a Major League field for another 2-3 years — if ever. (The Justin De Fratus card may ultimately go down as Topps’s luckiest autographed Phillies rookie card ever.) Yes, I could easily and cheaply pick up autograph cards of Larry Greene, Domingo Santana, and Sebastian Valle, but thanks to the likes of Elio Serrano, Jorge Padilla, and Sean Gamble, I decided approximately a decade ago that I would never again purchase the autograph card of a prospect until it appeared, at an absolute minimum, that his debut appearance in an actual game in a Phillies uniform appears incredibly likely and/or imminent. Because of that, I didn’t pick up my first Joe Savery autograph card until three years after it was issued. This also led to my spending some time in December searching for a 2008 Bowman Draft Signs of the Future Freddy Galvis card before ultimately deciding to wait out and see if he will ever actually appear in a Phillies uniform in anything other than a Spring Training game.

For all those reasons, I find myself in a position where it turns out that in one form or another I’ve already discussed and/or posted my favorite autograph cards from last year. Rather than write all about them again, I’ll just link to my original post about each of the year’s nominees and just announce a winner. But before I do so, there is one card I want to write something about first: the 2011 Topps Lineage 1952 Autographs Victorino card. I know I’ve already written plenty about how much I feel that while Topps really screwed the pooch with the Lineage offering, the inserts helped save the set. However, what I have avoided addressing until now is the butchering of Victorino’s autograph insert. The reason for it was quite simple: Topps decided that they would just use an autograph sticker for this particular card, rather than have Victorino sign the actual cards. As a result, the white box containing his autograph is ridiculously oversized. It would be great if I could place it alongside all the other 1952-style autographs that Topps has issued over the past 10 years, but it looks comically grotesque next to them.

Thankfully, I have plenty of other Shane Victorino autograph cards in my collection, which makes it a lot easier to for me shrug off this travesty and accept it for what it is.

Now that I’ve gotten that therapeutic rant out of my system, here is my list of runner-ups for the 2011 Phillies Autograph card of the year (each linked to the post where I originally posted the card):

Cliff Lee, Topps 60 Certified Autograph, # T60A-CL(b)
Bob Miller, Topps Lineage Reprint Autographs, #RA-BMI
Justin De Fratus, Bowman Prospect Autographs, #BPA-JD

And our winner is…

Roy Halladay’s Topps Gypsy Queen Autograph

I really try to avoid reposting a card twice, but if there was ever a card that deserved it, it was this one. Given the cost of Roy Halladay autograph cards, chances are very good that this will be the only one in my collection, and as such it will always remain one of its centerpieces. There are a couple other Halladay Gypsy Queen autographs in different formats, and while I would love to have both of them, I don’t think either would have the same impact as this one did on me when I received it in the mail. In fact, there are very few cards at all (by that, I mean Phillies cards of all types) that would bring the same level of enjoyment that this one did when it officially became a part of my collection.

Featured Cards: 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen Certified Autographs #GQA-DB, Domonic Brown; 2010 Topps Allen & Ginter’s Framed Mini Autographs #AGA-PP, Placido Polanco; 2003 Donruss Team Heroes Authentic Signatures #390, Elio Serrano; 2001 Topps Heritage Autographs #THA-RW, Randy Wolf; 2011 Topps Lineage 1952 Autographs #52A-SV, Shane Victorino; 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen Certified Autographs #GQA-RH, Roy Halladay

It Wasn’t Always This Way: The 2002 Phillies

Featured Cards: 2002 Topps Post #14, Scott Rolen; 2002 UD Authentics #157, Randy Wolf; 2002 Leaf Rookies & Stars #112(a), Curt Schilling; 2002 Studio Spirit of the Game Hats Off #SG-22, Brandon Duckworth; 2003 Topps Total #510, Joe Roa; 2002 Donruss Originals #76, Jimmy Rollins; 2002 Nabisco-Acme Phillies (no number), Dave Hollins; 2002 Donruss Originals Signature Marks #SM-42, Jeremy Giambi; 2002 Flair #129, Nick Punto

Like most other Phillies fans at this moment, I am trying hard not to hit the panic button. This year’s edition is arguably the best squad assembled in franchise history, and regardless of whether or not they are just playing out the season until the playoffs start, they are not supposed to lose six straight games — especially at home, and with four of those losses coming against the Nationals. This is not part of the plan! However, while worrying about whether the club can turn the intensity knob back to “11” is an understandable response, it’s worth noting that the Phillies haven’t played this long a stretch of meaningless games since the end of the 2002 season.

Yes, you read that right: 2002 marked the last time the Phillies played this many games with no division title, wild card spot or postseason seeding position on the line. It may seem hard to believe, but from 2003-2006, the Phillies were often picked to compete for the division title, and despite under-performing preseason expectations each year, they were usually vying for some sort of playoff position until the last week of the season. Furthermore, the final standings in 2009 and 2010 hide the fact that the division wasn’t clinched until the final week of the season — the big final leads were often the result of the Phillies playing ridiculously well right up until the end of the season. Knowing all this, I’m sure that all Phillies fans would rather face the anxiety we’re now experiencing rather than the dreary close that we witnessed back in 2002, the last time the Phillies closed a season with over 10 relatively meaningless games.

Aside from noting the 80-81 mark The Fightins compiled nine years ago, it might be helpful to recall some rather notable things about that season. Most notably, it was the year that Scott Rolen got run out of town by Larry Bowa and the very vocal, neanderthal segment of Phillies fans. Once it became obvious that upon reaching free agency he would never sign a long-term contract to stay with the Phillies, the club made the best of a bad situation. In retrospect, given Rolen’s injury issues, the Phillies might have gotten lucky. However, at the time, the front office looked very unprofessional in the way it let the situation unnecessarily spiral out of control. It certainly didn’t help that Rolen became the second big name star to leave Philly in just over two years — something the card manufacturers weren’t letting Phillies collectors forget. That year, they issued four different Curt Schilling Phillies cards, most notably a short print variation in the Leaf Rookies and Stars set. In fact, despite going to Arizona in 2000, the manufacturers produced at least one card of him as a Phillie every year through the 2005 season. There ought to be a rule against that, at least in regards to active players.

As for the actual pitching staff that season… well, Randy Wolf gave the Wolf Pack plenty to cheer about and gave the best effort of his Phillies career. Furthermore, Vicente Padilla showed flashes of why the Phillies might not regret the Schilling trade. Unfortunately, this was also the year Brandon Duckworth started 30 games. To be fair, his AA & AAA numbers suggested decent middle-of-the-rotation potential, and that is where he was slotted. However, his performance at the end of the 2001 season may have raised expectations too high, and he never tapped into the potential he showed. Amazingly, he’s still pitching at Boston’s AAA affiliate (he also pitched in Lehigh Valley last season), but it’s probably safe to say his big league career ended in 2008 with the Royals. However, given the way the Red Sox have been playing lately, maybe they should give The Duck one last chance — it certainly couldn’t hurt.

If you based your knowledge of the 2002 squad solely on the baseball cards produced that year, you would think that Eric Junge was a major contributor to the club. The card manufacturers were at the height of their rookie card madness and producing mass quantities of just about every prospect and suspect in the game. Although he appeared in just four games, providing a grand total of 12⅔ IP, the manufacturers produced over 50 different cards of him (that number includes parallels). By contrast, Joe Roa, who started 11 games for the Phillies that season, didn’t appear on a single card that year — not even the Phillies Team Issue set. If it hadn’t been for the 2003 season, he may never have appeared on a card as a Phillies. Even then, that year’s Phillies Team Issue and Topps Total sets marked the only time he appeared on a card as a member of The Fightins. Just talking about the likes of Junge and Roa are enough to ease the sting of the current squad’s six-game skid.

Apropos of the number of Junge cards that season, don’t get me started on Anderson Machado and Jorge Padilla and the ridiculous number of cards they received during the 2002 & 2003 seasons.

In an effort to keep this post under 1,200 words, I’ll try to keep the rest of my thoughts and that season and the cards issued that year brief:

  • Check out Jimmy’s ‘fro on his Donruss Originals card that year. Not quite Oscar Gamble-esque, but pretty awesome for the time. I don’t know if he knew/suspected he was likely to go bald as his career progressed, but if he did, then kudos to the man for growing it out long while he could.
  • Only three players from that squad were still with the team when they finally won the World Series: Rollins, Pat Burrell & Brett Myers. Interestingly, there were two members of the ’93 squad on that team as well: Dave Hollins and Todd Pratt (although, both were on their second stint with the club).
  • The ugliest set of baseball cards that didn’t appear on a box of butter was a stadium giveaway that season: the 2002 Nabisco-Acme Phillies. Thin cardboard stock, crappy print quality and photos that look like they were taken with a disposable camera. Scans don’t do the cards justice. On second thought, it might very well be uglier than the 1986 Keller’s Butter set.
  • It was the year of another wrong brother sighting. In his only season with the Phillies, Jeremy Giambi hit 12 home runs in 82 games, putting up a 162+ OPS in the process. As far as wrong brother acquisitions go, this was possibly the franchise’s best. I remember the astonishment of finding out during the following off-season that the Phillies weren’t going to bring him back and that they traded him for Josh Hancock. At the time, I thought he was surely worth more than that in trade (although, they did get him by trading John Mabry). The Jim Thome & Kevin Millwood acquisitions quickly allowed me to disregard that particular trade.
  • It was also the year I felt really bad for Travis Chapman. He had a career year at Reading that year, and given the instability at third following the Rolen trade, I never understood why the Phillies didn’t just give him a shot that September. His only big league appearance came in 2003, but at least he could say that he did make The Show — and appeared on many different baseball cards (many of which bear his signature).
  • The antithesis of Chapman’s professional baseball experience has to be Nick Punto’s. The minor league numbers shown on the back of his Flair card are those of a player who shouldn’t be let near a major league field, at least not without paid admission. Yet, he’s still in the majors today, despite a career 75 OPS+ compiled over nearly 3,000 plate appearances.

On that note, for now I’ll stop talking about bad Phillies squads. Another loss tonight will likely force me to write a post about the 1983 or 1993 team in an effort to exorcise any negative karma I possibly created with this post and the one about the 1996 squad.