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November 2, 2007

Prospectus Matchups

Offseason's Bidding

by Jim Baker

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How does one beat the offseason blues? By throwing money at the problem, of course! Spending your way to happiness is a surefire method of making yourself forget that it will be ages before pitchers and catchers report for the 2008 season.

With that in mind, it's time for our annual trip around the world's leading online auction site for a gander at the baseball-related wares for sale thereon.

Thomas Kinkade Yankee Stadium Painting
Minimum bid: $1,495.00

You know that guy whose paintings of quaint little cottages you see at the frame store at the mall? Yeah, that guy. Did you know he did paintings of baseball stadiums, too? Here's one of them now. You know what I like about it? It looks like what it's supposed to be. Call me a vulgarian, but that's all I ever ask of art: does it look like what it's supposed to be? Like that 40-ton piece of metal in front of the courthouse--what is that and how soon can we melt it down and turn it into hybrid cars?

Alex Rodriguez Picture
Minimum bid: $110,000

From the Great Expectations Department. Just think, for a little more than one day of Alex Rodriguez's desired new salary, you can own this framed drawing of him from his halcyon days with the Seattle Mariners. The seller writes, "I dont (sic) know much about this other than its (sic) a great picture. Item is in great condition. Sold as is." Thanks. That will help in the decision-making process. To spur you on, the seller later added the following very important information: "Price droped (sic) from 299,999.00 to 110,000.00 sale price for quick sale." We all have our dreams. For instance, I imagine a European furniture dealer someday coming into my place and offering me $30,000 for my ratty couch that I am currently hiding under slipcovers. I also harbor dreams that the lamp I bought at Target three years ago will suddenly be worth $10,000 because…well, there doesn't need to be a reason, does there? These idle fantasies of mine are as valid as this drawing being worth anything more than one percent of the asking price--even after the generous reduction for "quick sale."

Babe Ruth/Harry Frazee Autographs
Minimum bid: $100,000

Isn't it finally time to let poor old Harry Frazee off the mat? Come on--the Red Sox have won two World Series now. The man was an entertainer, people. He provided theatrical diversions from wars and flu pandemics. OK, so he moved a couple of assets around and it doesn't look so great in hindsight. Can't we all move past that?

Billy Martin's Glove
Minimum Bid: $7,995

Close, but… In the seventh inning of Game Seven of the 1952 World Series, Billy Martin made the most famous play of his career and one of the more iconic plays in postseason history when he speared a pop fly off the bat of Jackie Robinson at the last moment. The bases were loaded and there were two outs; had the ball fallen, two runs would have scored to make it 4-4. Instead, the Yankees won 4-2 and took their fourth straight championship. The seller does not suggest that this is that glove. Instead, this is the one he wore the next year when he hit .500/.667/1.000 in the Series.

Closeout Lot of 74 Tampa Bay Devil Rays Pennants
Minimum bid: $9.99

This is the calm before the Devil Rays' storm. We are experiencing the waning years of their ineptitude. The question is: will you be prepared for the onslaught of Rays interest when it comes down hard? You would be if you bought these 74 pennants. Of course, they're changing their name, so that's a bit problematic. Here's what you do: where it says "Devil" you stick a picture of one of their players. Speaking of the Rays, I did a bit of an informal survey to see which teams had the most and fewest items up for auction. I entered each team's full name (Los Angeles Dodgers as opposed to just Dodgers) so that teams like the Cardinals and Giants wouldn't get extra hits. The results were somewhat predictable. They kind of look like the BP Hit List, except the Blue Jays came in next-to-last. The Rays were at the very bottom with only 340 hits. These were the top five:

12,192: Red Sox
10,422: Yankees
4,054: Cubs
3,636: Mets
3,333: Cardinals

I was a little surprised the Red Sox came out on top. I wonder if that would have been the case before they won it all again. I did a search for "2007 World Series Red Sox" and came up with about 1,800 hits. If you take those off of their total, it pulls them about even with the Yankees. For teams that have moved, I only searched the current location. Combining the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers would move them into the top 10, for instance.

Vintage AMG Male Nude Baseball Player Photograph
Minimum Bid: $12.99

Come on, who hasn't played a game or two of naked baseball? This is what the game would be like had it been invented by the ancient Greeks. I'm sure you can compile a list of the aspects of how baseball would differ if uniforms went away. What would a scout say about the guy in this photo?

Chicago Federal League Park Postcard
Buy it Now: $78.00

Pity the poor Federal League devotee. There is precious little for the Fed collector. There are some cool-looking t-shirts for the Newark Peppers and Chicago Whales, but, obviously, they are not original to the time. This is, of course, Wrigley Field in its first incarnation, as the home of the Whales in 1914. You know, it's not too early to start planning for the Federal League gala centennial. It will be on us before you know it. Will you be properly prepared?

1907 Game Ball
Bid at press time: $305.00

The seller asks: "If a home run ball by the 1998 NL home run champion Mark McGwire sold for $3 million, what is a foul ball hit by the 1905 NL home run champion Fred Odwell worth?" What, indeed.

Lance Niekro Game Used Fresno Grizzlies Pants
Minimum bid: $9.00

I've never been one to wear a uniform shirt with jeans as has become custom. It's just not me. However, I sort of understand why people do it and why it might have a certain appeal. I also understand why one might want to own a uniform shirt. It has a number, a logo and, perhaps, a name. I can also understand the urge to own a complete uniform. Pants by themselves, though? This puzzles me.

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<< Previous Article
The 2007 Internet Base... (11/01)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Prospectus Matchups: F... (10/30)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Prospectus Matchups: A... (11/09)
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Premium Article Future Shock: Red Sox ... (11/02)

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