Perspectives: Baseball Cards and Yankees Stuff
By Paul Semendinger
July 6, 2023
When my sons were young, we bought tons of baseball cards. We loved collecting the cards of Yankees and of the stars throughout the league. We would sort and resort the cards, over and over. The cards of the players we loved the most found their way into plastic sheets and binders. Along the way, we also tried to collect complete sets. It was great fun.
When I was young, I did the same with my own cards. I still have most of them. Over the years, there were times when I'd sell some cards to get some extra cash and sometimes I'd give some of my better cards away as gifts to friends, but, for the most part, I kept my large collection of baseball cards.
The end result of all of this is that we have some nice cards and nice sets (nothing great) organized in binders. Those are fun to look at.
But what of the others, the common cards by the tens of thousands that have been sorted and resorted a million times and, for the most part, for the last few decades have sat in boxes in the attic? We have tons of common cards of common players in common boxes just taking up space.
The other day, Ethan suggested that we bring down the plethora of boxes and sort them one last time and see if we can sell off, in common card lots, the ones just taking up space and cluttering the attic.
As such, the last few days Ethan and I have spent the last few days sorting card after card into piles:
"The 1979 Topps go here."
"Boy do we have a ton of cards from 1987..."
"Hey! Remember this set!"
"Should we save the cards from Ted Simmons and Harold Baines now? They are Hall of Famers..."
"Hey, I found a Mattingly. How did that get in there?"
"Here's a Donruss Ted Williams. We should give that to Grandpa."
I have a very patient wife who has seen the tables and counters in the kitchen and dining room infested and covered with a plague of baseball cards.
Ethan and I have been having fun revisiting these old cards and reliving lots of memories.
In its purest sense, this is what baseball does - it beings together generations. It brings joy. It provides great memories. There are lots of things Ethan and I could be doing with our time, but I'm glad we decided to spend a few days together engaged with our old baseball cards.
Years ago, I wrote a piece about collecting cards, and the connections between fathers and sons, and more. That passage appeared in my first published book Impossible is an Illusion.
I'll run that article again at 2:00 p.m. today.
As we get closer to the All-Star break, here is a list of baseball's best teams by winning percentage:
I know that many fans get excited about the fact that the Yankees are on pace to make the playoffs. As for me, I'm not that impressed. The 2023 Yankees are one of baseball's ten best teams. I know that is supposed to be exciting, but it doesn't enthuse me at all.
Of course, this is why baseball (and all the sports) have greatly expanded the playoff formula year-after-year. More playoffs means that more teams can dream. Through expanded playoffs sports (and teams) celebrate mediocrity more than ever before.
The sports create false hope. Team's now live for this idea that "anything can happen in the playoffs." Rather than teams looking to be great, they just need to be pretty good.
As for me, I like to celebrate greatness - not "pretty goodness."
Fans like to criticize the Yankees of the 1980s because they didn't win anything.
At the same time, many of those same fans cite how successful the current Yankees have been - "They're in the playoff every year!"
In the 1980s, a team had to win their division to reach the playoffs. Today, with expanded playoffs, many less-than-worthy teams reach the post season.
Here is how the 2023 Yankees compare to the Yankees from each of the seasons of the 1980s:
The following 2023 Yankees all have an OPS+ under 100 this season:
Jose Trevino - 61
Anthony Volpe - 92
D.J. LeMahieu - 79
Oswaldo Cabrera - 55
Giancarlo Stanton - 81
Isiah Kiner-Falefa - 93
Willie Calhoun - 97
Kyle Higashioka - 90
Josh Donaldson - 84
The following 2023 staring pitchers all have an ERA+ under 100 this season:
Clarke Schmidt - 94
Domingo German - 92
Nestor Cortes - 81
Jhony Brito - 89
Luis Severino - 66
(In other words, this season only Gerrit Cole (ERA+ 149) has been an above-average starting pitcher for the Yankees.)
I posed this the other day... (And, of course, anything can happen, BUT...)
This idea that the Yankees are going to get needed pieces at the trade deadline seems to me more like a dream rather than a reality. First, who do the Yankees reasonably have to trade? Second, who is legitimately available that can help this team? Third, please list the last three mid-season trade acquisitions that Yankees have acquired that have helped them win.
I'll end with good news...
Over the last 28 days, Anthony Volpe is batting .316.
Over the last 14 days, he's batting .395.
Maybe Chicken Parm can help...
(I also don't think he's batted leadoff once in that span...)
Let's Go Yankees!