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Tuesday, Sep 01, 2015

The Sports Bookie

A sports blog by Bob D'Angelo

Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia.

Collect call: 2015 Topps Archives baseball

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

The concept for Topps Archives remains the same, although the format was tweaked slightly for the 2015 edition. And I believe that tweak is for the better.

Last year, Topps used four different designs for its base card set — 1973, 1980, 1986 and 1989 — and broke the 200-card base set into four chunks of 50 cards. Those designs were not impressive to me — back when the originally released, and again in 2014 — but this year the set choice is much better.

The 2015 Topps Archives base set now totals 300 cards, featuring 100 cards in three different designs — 1957, 1976 and 1983. In addition, there are 30 short-printed cards, which will show up once in every 70 packs. A hobby box contains 24 packs, with eight cards to a pack. Topps is promising two autographs per hobby box.

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Collect call: 2015 Topps Finest baseball

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Topps Finest baseball is a nice mid-level set for collectors who enjoy chrome and on-card autographs.

This year’s set is different than previous offerings, particularly in the design. It looks like a geometry teacher designed the cards; there are so many boxes, lines and angles. I can still hear the question in high school: what is the hypotenuse of a right triangle? Remember how? Use the Pythagorean Theorem, which tells us that the square of the length of the hypotenuse equals the sum of the squares of the other two sides of the triangle.

I was never that good at geometry, anyway. But in doing the math for Topps finest, here are some numbers worth remembering.

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Architects of the Yankees dynasty

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

So many books have been written about the New York Yankees, and deservedly so. The franchise has won 40 American League pennants and 27 World Series titles. Books about Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio are plentiful, colorful and will enrich any baseball fan’s library.

But what about the two original architects of Yankee greatness? Very little has been written about Jacob Ruppert, who used his money and business savvy to turn the Yankees into contenders; and Miller Huggins, the manager who guided the team to its first six pennants and three World Series crowns during the 1920s. It took many years before either was welcomed into the Hall of Fame. The Veterans Committee inducted Huggins in 1964, 35 years after his death; and Ruppert was enshrined in 2013, 74 years after he passed away.

Where was the respect for so many years?

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Dusty Rhodes always had the common touch

Published:   |   Updated: June 12, 2015 at 03:40 PM
BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

“You don’t know what hard times are, daddy!”

Hard times. Dusty Rhodes, the self-proclaimed “American Dream,” used that theme to reach out to the common man (and woman) that followed professional wrestling. If you watched “Championship Wrestling From Florida” on television during the mid-1970s and into the 1980s, Dusty Rhodes was the man. The son of a plumber from Austin, Texas. The wrestler with the bionic elbow. Too sweet to be sour. The man of the hour.

Well, it’s hard times for old school wrestling fans. Dusty Rhodes — Virgil Riley Runnels Jr. — died from complications suffered after he fell at his home early Thursday morning. He was 69. His death comes on the night that the CWF Wall of Fame event at the former Fort Homer W. Hesterly Armory (now reopening as the Tampa Jewish Community Center & Federation) was held in Tampa. Jody Simon, the organizer of the event and the son of the late wrestler the Great Malenko, asked the crowd of nearly 7,000 fans for a moment of silence.

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Collect call: 2015 Topps Pro Debut baseball

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

I wasn’t a big fan of minor-league baseball card sets when they first came out. I guess that’s because I always remembers the cheesy-looking sets minor-league teams used to distribute. The color schemes were awful, the typography was spotty and the photography could be blurry.

Times have changed. Minor-league sets have a much slicker look now, and Topps brings those qualities to the forefront in its 2015 Pro Debut set. This year’s set mirrors the design of Topps’ flagship Series One and Two sets, a format I really do enjoy.

With so many young baseball players coming out of the Tampa Bay area these days, minor-league sets like Pro Debut offer collectors the chance to see players they might have seen playing in high school or college, like Lance McCullers Jr. (Jesuit) or Tyler Danish (Durant). Or, if you are a Rays fan who intently follows players in Tampa Bay’s farm system, this set offers an opportunity to collect their cards.

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J.R. Richard recalls a life of ups and downs

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

J.R. Richard had it all — a dominating fastball, an intimidating 6-foot-8, 240-pound physique and a burning desire to succeed.

But baseball — and life — can be cruel and fickle.

Richards’ promising career was cut short at age 30 by a stroke in July 1980, and his life spiraled downward to the point where he was homeless, finding shelter under a Houston highway overpass.

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Stats, charts and trivia for Mets, Tigers fans

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

“You’ve Never Seen Numbers Like This Before!” proclaim the back covers of the two newest “by-the-numbers” baseball books.

Perhaps not. But even if you are a baseball numbers geek, these figures will be intriguing.

“Numbers Don’t Lie: The Biggest Numbers in New York Mets History” (Triumph Books; paperback; $16.95; 224 pages) and “Numbers Don’t Lie: The Biggest Numbers in Detroit Tigers History” (Triumph Books; paperback; $16.95; 278 pages) will appeal to fans of these teams and to baseball stat nuts.

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Collect call: 2015 Topps Tier One baseball

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

There are many things to like about 2015 Topps Tier One baseball.

For starters, Tier One offers on-card, bold signatures, with some of them in silver, red and even gold. Some of the players’ autos will set collectors drooling — Carlton Fisk, Andre Dawson, Lou Brock, Orlando Cepeda are some of the “older” names, while today’s player signatures will include Chris Sale, David Ortiz, Evan Longoria, Mike Trout and Yasiel Puig.

There are bat knob cards (some are signed), autograph/relics, cards with autographs on acetate and cut signature cards.

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