After a couple days of junk mail filling the mailbox, I got three more envelopes from Florida and my first two from Arizona today.
The highlight was this Jerry Manuel card, signed in silver Sharpie.
It’s from the Mets gift set that Topps put out last year that included cards for the coaches and some bench players that were left out of the regular set. (I hope that Topps brings back the concept for 2009, but I wish they’d leave out the autograph and lower the price back to $19.99.)
Manuel did a good job handling the mess he inherited last year and I’m very interested to see how things go this year when he starts with a clean slate.
I also got a pair of Yankees autographs today. It may seem a bit funny for a Mets fan to pursue Yankees autographs, but I will usually write to the Yankees rookies each spring if I have cards for them. I think it’s the whole familiarity thing, since they keep getting coverage in the local media.
Dan Giese pitched reasonably well in limited time with the big club last year, making 3 starts and 17 relief appearances. He’ll be trying to win the long relief role this spring, and at age 31 is not likely to become a big star.
Giese has an unusual signature that I’m glad I don’t have to decipher. He appears to have made a reference to Psalm 23.
Lefty Phil Coke also pitched well in limited duty for the Yankees last year, though all 12 of his appearances came out of the bullpen. At age 25, he has a much better chance of developing into a solid major league player. He seems to be ticketed for a bullpen spot in 2009.
This is my first signed 2009 Topps card; this year’s design looks much nicer signed since it doesn’t already include a pre-printed autograph. I like the posed spring training shot; it is nicely reminiscent of the old-style cards. I don’t think I’d want to collect a whole set with photos like this in 2009, though.
From Arizona, I got a Padre and a Mariner. Heath Bell came up through the Mets farm system, but he couldn’t stick in the Mets bullpen. The Mets traded him off to San Diego before the 2007 season, and Bell blossomed there.
Bell is in good shape this spring; thanks to Wii Fit, he lost 25 pounds since last season. The Padres’ closer job appears to be his to lose this year.
During Bell’s tenure in New York, he was one of the good guys who always seemed to have time to sign a few autographs for the fans before a game. It’s nice to see him enjoying some success, but he would have looked good out in the Mets bullpen last year.
Don Wakamatsu was a career minor league catcher who spent a little bit of time in the big leagues with the Chicago White Sox in 1991. Since his playing days ended, he went on to coach. As Upper Deck helpfully points out, last year the Seattle Mariners made Wakamatsu the first Asian-American manager in the Major Leagues.
This is my first signed 2009 Upper Deck card. I guess I was lucky to pull a 2008 Historic Firsts card that was baseball related.
So far, I’m 6 for 60 this spring.