NCIS: Carlsbad, CA [2003 Upper Deck]

It’s been a while for one of these mystery plays; here’s one from a while back in honor of David Ortiz’s retirement:

csi-ortiz
2003 Upper Deck #114 David Ortiz

Is he out? Safe?? Well, hopefully we can find out by nailing down exactly when this play occurred — what can we tell from the photo?

1) Day game with away uniform — it’s not the Metrodome
2) they’re wearing their long sleeves, so cool weather
3) being it’s a 2003 card, it should be a 2002 ballgame

I originally put this together for the good Citizens at WGOM for pledge week, and (like always) they were very up to the task:
– there was some debate about the visiting team uniform. Initial thoughts were Milwaukee and then Seattle, but with the very short (non-existent?) sleeves, it was suggested it was Cleveland’s pixie vests
– the backdrop (what little is showing, out of focus) is not a bad match for Jacob’s Field
– The first inning of the April 8th game ended with Ortiz trying (and failing) to score from second on a line drive to center of the bat of Dustan Mohr. Einar Diaz applied the tag.

Despite the Twins scoring two in the first, the Indians respond with three in the bottom of the inning, and went on to win 9-5 putting the Twins a game back in the AL Central race. The game was played in front of a full stadium in less than three hours, which was good as the 55° temperature at game time was no doubt falling.

The best part? We even found an image of the play from a different angle. You can see part of Cristian Guzman in the background, who scored just ahead of Ortiz.

Case solved!

(Above) Average Joe

Whenever I see your smiling face
I have to smile myself
Because I love you

Your Smiling Face” – James Taylor

joe
2002 Bowman Heritage #BHA-JM Joe Mauer (auto)

I luckily managed to find one of Joe’s rookie year autograph cards on The Bay at a price well below the normal going price there. Even though it was poorly categorized and hidden among all the other cards listed on eBay, when I stumbled upon it I recognized it for the card that it is. Welcome home, Rookie Joe!

Some more acquisitions below the break…
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Estes Park, Colorado

My hip surgery put off this post, so to get a long-overdue writeup out of the way…

Mo and I gave some thought to where we wanted to vacation this fall, and after hearing good reports decided we wanted to give Colorado some quality time, neither of us having been there except in passing. Even better, we invited our long-time friends Dave & Sue from Los Angeles to join us, and were pleased when they said, “Yes!”

We rented a house in Estes Park and met up there on a Saturday, us flying into Denver and they driving up with their dogs Kona & Callie. The house was wonderful, and made for a terrific home base for our excursions. Although we were soon to learn that elk were to be found everywhere, we saw three in the backyard the first morning, and 36 the next morning!

morning-elk
morning elk outside our window

It didn’t take us long to adapt to our different time zones: being morning people and hour ahead of the Mountain Time, we found we could work in a trip to town to wander the streets while our late morning friends an hour behind got their beauty rest and exercised the dogs.

Estes Park is a quaint town with a scenic riverwalk behind the various shops and restaurants on the main street, overlooked by the stately Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for Stephen King’s “The Shining”. There were festivals on each of the weekends we were there, so we avoided the traffic and bustle then, opting for a later evening meal and stroll instead.

The house we were renting was just minutes from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, and we made a few trips there during our stay. On our first visit, we watched some drama as a bull elk defended his herd of a dozen cows from two other bull elk. We also stopped at the alluvial fan at Horseshoe Park and tested our balance on the various boulders and rocks along and across the water there.

On another trip we drove a good section of the Trail Ridge Road, again watching elk interactions and photographing the peaks, valleys, and mountain lakes in the distance above and below the alpine tundra. The picturesque yellow aspens made for a nice splash of color among the pines all throughout our drives around the area. Long’s Peak was often in the background of our photos, the tallest mountain in the park at 12,400’+

mt-meeker-longs-peak-mt-lady-washington
left to right: Mt. Meeker, Long’s Peak, and Mt. Lady Washington

When we did finally get around to some serious hiking, we decided to head back into the park to the trail starting at Bear Lake. After stopping to take in Nymph Lake, we continued on up to elevation 9900′ to Dream Lake, where we discovered just why it was so highly recommended.

dream-lake
beautiful Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park (click to embiggen)

We had some nice exchanges with other hikers on the trail, and overall (like so many sites on our vacation) we gave it 4-out-of-5 stars: not enough oxygen!🙂

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Bear Lake, in Rocky Mountain National Park

The next day we drove over a good portion of the Peak to Peak highway, taking in the mountains and beautiful aspens, stopping at Barker Reservoir at Nederland, and being blown away by the casino-to-anything-else ratio of Blackhawk — what’s up with that? On our way back, we paid a visit to Chapel on the Rock, and then stopped at Lily Lake to watch the ducks and muskrats before sunset.

chapel-on-the-rock
Chapel on the Rock

We ate a several fine restaurants, from Strong Mountain Restaurant, YOU NEED PIE!, Poppy’s Pizza & Grill, the Rock Inn Mountain Tavern, The Egg & I, Mountain Home Cafe, Claire’s on the Park…well, you can tell we sampled quite a few places during our stay🙂

On our last night in town for supper, we parked in the library parking lot…and were confronted by a bull elk. He was attending three cows eating tall grass near the stream just north of the lot.

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bull elk in downtown Estes Park library parking lot

It was incredibly relaxing to visit with our good friends and play with the dogs in the fresh mountain environment. So — would we go back again? In a heartbeat! We’d rank it 4-out-of-5 stars: needs more oxygen😉

Epilogue: On our way to the Denver airport, we stopped in Boulder to enjoy a meal at a restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, and as we were finishing up our meal a gentleman at a neighboring table had seizure. We helped out where we could (and stayed out of the way the rest of the time) and thankfully he began recovering as we were leaving. It was gratifying to see that those tables around him at the time did not panic, offered a helping hand where needed, and kept their cool.

The Hospital Talking Jigsaw Puzzle Solution

Slowly the last of the Talking Jigsaw Puzzle series are coming home to roost, this one being The Hospital “Talking Puzzle” by Buffalo Games. These puzzles require you to not only assemble each of the 4×4 piece hospital rooms correctly, but then you have to position each of the windows in a way that the conversation clues make sense. They’re fun to work on.

The timing on this one was meaningful in that I’ll be having hip surgery once more very soon. Again I made it easy for myself by putting the puzzle together on a glass table top so that I could more easily check the underside of the puzzle to see that the pattern was correct. I found that there were 2-3 room pairs that didn’t seem to readily make their respective positions apparent, but overall The Hospital was as much a treat as the others have been:

hospital
solution — click to embiggen

Only The City Hall remains…

“Supercollector” Revisited

In the past roughly year or so, I’ve added several more hard-to-find cards (including another printing plate) to the Brett Graves Project, but before I talk about that…congratulations on your wedding day, Brett!

Brett just finished his season with Oakland’s high-A Stockton Ports. To the best of my knowledge, I have all of Brett’s cards aside from one #/10 card, three #/5 cards, and several uniques. There is currently a #/5 red chrome refractor on eBay that has been listed (way overpriced) for many months; sorry, not going to go there.

Bretts
a rainbow page of 2015 Bowman Chrome Prospect Autographs #BCAP-BG

Some additional Twins pickups — a few new, and a few old…
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Déjà Vu!

David K holds an awesome monthly giveaway on The Bench for cool AU or GU cards, and since a significant time had passed since my last win, I was eligible to play again. This past May I won once more!. Here was the prize:

cal
2008 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes Light Blue Material Signature #16 Cal Ripken Jr. [18/35]

Excellent!!

I decided that my goal would be to sell it and use the proceeds to acquire one or more autograph cards of the Twins players I didn’t currently have yet. My LCS owner posted on eBay for several weeks, but only with so-so inquiries. Eventually he sold it to someone in-store, and with the cash from the deal, I purchased these beauties plus a few others I picked up on my own:

Scan
clockwise, from top left: 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP205 Miguel Sano (auto); 2005 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes Signature Red #54 Paul Molitor [44/49] (auto); 2016 Topps Stadium Club #SCA-MS Miguel Sano (auto); 2005 Fleer eX ConneXions #CDA-CK/JM Joe Mauer w/Casey Kotchman [22/50] (dual auto); 2011 Topps Triple Threads Unity Relics Gold #TTUSR-234 Justin Morneau [3/9] (jersey); 2015 Topps Heritage Clubhouse Collection Gold #CCR-JMA Joe Mauer [36/99] (jersey); 2005 Upper Deck SP Authentic #53 Joe Mauer [101/350] (auto); 2012 Topps Finest Refractor X-Fractor #AR-BD Brian Dozier [151/299] (auto)

I particularly wanted to procure the Sano RC AU, and the difficult Finest Dozier AU — his only certified one. Some other recent pickups below the break…

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Ft. Myers Spring Training IV

This post is way late due to photos lost from my phone, but I had a few that survived, so here goes…

On our yearly trip to Florida, Mo and I stayed again in Ft. Myers at the same Cornerstone Resort condo we were at last year. Thanks to construction along the main drag, Ft. Myers Beach traffic was even more traffic-er than before. Still…no snow, though. And this year, we were joined for a couple days by my (retired) co-worker Ted and his wife Dixie.

Apparently attending a spring training game had been on Ted’s bucket list, so I was looking forward to treating him to the March 8th Cardinals vs. Twins game. Unfortunately, it was a Twins split squad game, plus the first day of their minor league camp, so the practice fields normally bustling with the veterans and promising prospects were empty. Still, it was a beautiful day for a game, and we both had our teams on the field.

Joe
Joe scores in the fourth

We had seats in the same location I’ve sat in the past trips to Hammond Stadium, which provided a great view of the field. The Cards went on to eventually win 5-3. We saw a little of everything, but we didn’t see Sano and Park homer, like in the other split squad game against Toronto in Dunedin.

One other disappointment with split squad games is the limited autograph opportunities. I did manage to catch one:

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backup catcher Juan Centeno’s autograph

When it all comes down to it, though, you can’t beat the beach.

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the view from our lanai

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