Here’s my story on the infamous Billy Ripken obscene baseball card. I was in a card shop in Roseville, MN and they had one on display. I don’t remember how much they were asking for it, but I think it was somewhere in the $100 to $120 range. Maybe more, I really don’t remember. There was a sign next to the card that said something like “This is the only copy of this card that we have. The card is massively overpriced at the moment and we believe the card will go down in value in the future. We strongly recommend that you not purchase it at this time.”
A few minutes later, one of the clerks says to another clerk “I just sold that Ripken card. Should I take down the sign?”
“Just get another Ripken card from the back.”
“I thought that was the only copy of the card we had?”
“Nah. We’ve got a couple dozen in the back.”
Hey, they did warn them.
- The Dodgers had their fan fest over the weekend and team president Stan Kasten defended the team not signing a major free agent, saying that there were lots of reasons to stay under the luxury tax threshold that fans wouldn’t understand. Craig Calcaterra has had enough of teams coming up with “banal and ridiculous” excuses to be cheap and argues that if teams want to win and fans to be interested, they need to spend money on players. He also goes after the Pirates for arguing that they can win despite the lowest payroll in the National League.
- Calcaterra goes after a few teams, but I mentioned the Pirates specifically because Craig Edwards points out that they’ve had a very quiet winter. Edwards believes the team’s fan base will abandon them if they don’t give them some reason to come out to PNC Park. (Other than PNC Park)
- The Indians and Twins are also defending not spending any money on players this winter.
- Bill Baer finds the Indians and Twins reasons for not spending to be ridiculous, since they both play in the same weak division and a playoff spot is easily within the grasp of both teams.
- Bob Nightengale writes that the Dodgers signing of free agent outfielder A.J. Pollock closes the door on the possibility that the team might sign outfielder Bryce Harper.
- Buster Olney tries to make sense of the Dodgers offseason moves or lack thereof. (ESPN+ sub. req.)
- The Padres are thinking of entering the Manny Machado sweepstakes and would like to set up a face-to-face meeting with the free agent infielder. Machado to San Diego makes a lot of sense, but it’s a long way from Machado’s home in Miami.
- The White Sox would like to sign Machado or Harper, but their general manager Rick Hahn warned that they won’t sign both of them.
- Astros owner Jim Crane thinks that teams won’t give out ten-year contracts anymore.
- Buster Olney writes that whether or not the Cardinals sign first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to an extension could indicate whether there is going to be a labor war in the near future. (ESPN+ sub. req.) Olney’s argument is that if Goldschmidt signs a relatively team-friendly extension, that indicates that the players think free agency is currently broken and that Goldschmidt is trying to make as much money as he can before a work stoppage.
- Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield is on the verge of signing a four-year extension. I wonder if that’s a sign.
- Braves great Dale Murphy has four suggestions for the next collective bargaining agreement. (The Athletic sub. req.)
- The Padres and the Dodgers are the leading candidates for a trade for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto.
- Richard Justice has seven deals that would shake up MLB. Too bad none of them will happen.
- Former Cubs reliever Justin Wilson signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the Mets.
- Reliever Hunter Strickland signed a one-year deal with the Mariners.
- New Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino tries to clarify his comments that he’d strike out Babe Ruth every time he faced him. Actually, Ottavino would walk Ruth every time he faced him because there isn’t enough left of Ruth for him to have a strike zone more than an inch or two off the ground.
- On that matter, Walter Johnson was the hardest-throwing and most-feared pitcher of Ruth’s era. Johnson’s fastball probably averaged 88-mph and might have reached as high as 91-93 mph on occasion. Ottavino’s fastball averaged 94.3 last season and that’s down from previous seasons. I mean, maybe Ruth gets a weak grounder to short, but I don’t see what the controversy is.
- Here’s Ottavino wearing a Yankees cap and getting an autograph from David Cone in 1996. Cone responded that he loved that sweater that he’s wearing in the photo.
- Because of the political unrest in Venezuela, the Caribbean Series has been moved from that country. Where? They don’t know yet. The Series is supposed to start on Saturday.
- Former Cubs outfielder Roosevelt Brown talks about what he learned from playing in Japan. He has a lot of positive things to say about Japanese baseball.
- Sad news as former Giants owner Peter Magowan has died. Magowan led a group of investors that bought the team in 1992 and kept them from moving to St. Petersburg. (Really smart move there.) He ran the team until stepping aside in 2008.
- Speaking of St. Pete, the Rays have decided to make Tropicana Field completely cashless and Chris Cwik doesn’t like it, arguing it makes things difficult for younger and poorer fans. What struck me here is that the Rays are arguing that it will cut down on the concession lines as the paperless transactions are faster. Is that really a big problem at Tropicana Field?
- The Padres made it official. They will go back to a brown and gold color scheme in 2020.
- The Rangers will retire Adrian Beltré’s number 29 this season.
- Mike Mussina can’t decide between the Yankees and Orioles so his plaque in Cooperstown will have a blank cap. Probably the correct decision.
- Bo Jackson was asked which sport Heisman Trophy-winner and Athletics first-round draft pick Kyler Murray should play. Jackson just said Murray should “go with his heart.” So football then. His brain would tell him baseball while it can still tell him anything.
- Andrew Simon has some players with extreme platoon splits. Kyle Schwarber is on the list.
- Giants third baseman Evan Longoria did a cooking challenge where he made dinner from ingredients suggested by fans.
- And finally, Grant Brisbee has the story of the 1989 Fleer Billy Ripken card that had “F*** FACE” written on the handle of the bat. Bill Ripken does not want you to read this story.
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster.