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Thursday, Jul 24, 2014

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.

Connecting the dots between baseball and society

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

At first glance, the title of Hal Bodley’s latest book on baseball seems almost too deep. “How Baseball Explains America” (Triumph Books; hardcover; $24.95; 244 pages) offers a challenging premise. It’s a book about how the game has impacted the fiber of American society, but how can Bodley pull it off in less than 250 pages?

Simple. Draw upon the wealth of knowledge and observations gleaned from more than 55 years of covering the game, and artfully fit them within 17 compact chapters. Bodley, the first baseball editor at USA Today and currently the senior correspondent for MLB.com, writes thoughtfully and passionately about the game. This is a guy that has covered 43 World Series, 42 All-Star games and has covered more than 4,000 games. He also has interviewed six sitting presidents of the United States.

The reader may not agree with all of his opinions — in some cases, I certainly didn’t, particularly in his assessments of Bud Selig and Bowie Kuhn — but one cannot dispute Bodley’s smooth style.

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Collect call: 2014 Bowman football

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

With some enticing rookie cards to tout this season, the 2014 Bowman football set will be an exciting one for collectors who enjoy rookie cards. Sure, veterans are represented too, but Bowman’s focus remains on up-and-coming players.

Rookies a collector can expect to find include No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney, Teddy Bridgewater, ex- Central Florida star Blake Bortles, former Plant High standouts Aaron Murray and James Wilder Jr., Sammy Watkins, and Bucs rookies Mike Evans, Robert Herron, Charles Sims and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

Am I forgetting anyone? Oh yeah, Johnny Football, too.

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Collect call: 2014 Bowman Inception baseball

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Bowman Inception baseball returns for its sophomore season, and it’s once again a marriage made for higher-end collectors who like rookies and prospects.

A hobby box includes one pack of five cards, and even though it hovers around the $100 mark, there are four autographs and one autograph/relic card. All are on-card signatures except for the auto/relic, which is a sticker. How valuable the hits are depends on your collecting habits. If you’re looking for established stars, there is at least one insert that caters to that taste (1989 Bowman is Back Silver Diamond Refractors). Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the youth movement, because Bowman excels in this category.

I really like the wood background on the card. It really stands out as the backdrop for prospect cards, which have a vertical design. Rookie cards are horizontal in design. Wood also is the theme on the card backs.

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A timeless look at the 1920 Cleveland Indians

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

There is always time to read books about baseball, especially when the subject is timeless.

So even though Scott Longert’s latest book was published more than a year ago, it still deserves a look by fans of baseball history.

“The Best They Could Be: How the Cleveland Indians became the Kings of Baseball, 1916-1920” (Potomac Books; hardback; $27.50; 256 pages) is a nicely written, interesting look at how the Indians went from American League doormats in 1914 to World Series champions in 1920. It’s Longert’s second book about the Indians; in 1999, the Beachwood, Ohio resident wrote “King of the Pitchers,” a biography of pitching great Addie Joss.

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Volleyball and soccer, Peruvian style

Published:   |   Updated: July 13, 2014 at 10:44 PM
BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

After deftly dodging traffic through the La Victoria district of Lima, Peru, Carlos Aparicio pulls his car into the parking lot of Estadio Alejandro Villanueva, the home stadium for the Alianza Lima club soccer team.

There’s no fùtbol being played inside the 35,000-seat stadium on this misty, overcast day in the Peruvian capital, but there is plenty of activity.

At one end of the parking lot, two dozen policemen mounted on motorcycles are drilling, riding in tighter circles as their engines roar. At the opposite end, behind a black, chain-link fence, a soccer team practices in a lighted, half-pitch setup.

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A different — and entertaining — look at NASCAR

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Carole Townsend’s website describes her writing style as “a cross between Lewis Grizzard and Erma Bombeck.” While she might have drawn her humor from both sources, Townsend is more polite than Grizzard — and funnier than Bombeck.

The titles of her first two books — “Southern Fried White Trash” was published in 2011 and “Red Lipstick & Clean Underwear” the following year — provide a hint. Then Townsend, a reporter and columnist for the Gwinnett Daily Post east of Atlanta, decided to step outside her comfort zone and try to understand NASCAR by traveling to various tracks in 2013 and talk to fans, drivers, crew members and officials.

“I may as well have packed my suitcase to visit Mars, because I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” she writes.

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Panini previews Elite football

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Panini America released information and images about its Elite football product earlier this week. Not surprisingly, Johnny Manziel graces the box top of the upcoming set, which hits the shelves on July 23.

Panini is promising four autograph of memorabilia cards per hobby box, with at least two rookies guaranteed. One of those autographs will be a rookie card. Panini is also putting acetate autographs in several forms, including in the Inscriptions subset.

At least three rookies numbered to 999 or less will be in each hobby box, along with Turn of the Century and Passing the Torch silver inserts. Other inserts include Aspirations, Status, Passing the Torch, Legends of the Fall and Face 2 Face.

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Collect call: 2014 Topps Pro Debut baseball

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

For collectors who enjoy collecting players who might someday make a major-league roster, Topps Pro Debut baseball set is a good way to immerse yourself into the future.

The 2014 set draws its design from Topps flagship Series One and Two major-league baseball products, and a hobby box has 24 packs, with eight cards to a pack. The base set is 220 cards and there are parallels in silver and gold.

Topps promises two sticker autographs, a relic card and a manufactured patch card in every hobby box, and the patch relics can be especially colorful. As it is, the team names at the minor-league level are quite diverse.

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Collect call: 2014 Topps Archives baseball

Published:   |   Updated: June 26, 2014 at 10:02 PM
By BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

The format for 2014 Topps Archives baseball remains the same: pick out four different designs from the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s and break the 200-card base set into four distinct chunks of 50 cards.

I’ve usually quibbled with Topps over its choice of designs for this set, mainly because I am not the biggest fan of the 1980s and ’90s designs. That being said, many collectors younger than I do feel a nostalgic twinge when seeing these retro (I refuse to say vintage in most of these cases) designs. That’s to be expected; after all, I get that same feeling when I see cards with designs from the 1950s through the 1970s. And that’s what the Topps Heritage sets are for; they quench my thirst for “my” generation of cards.

Happily, the 2014 Topps Archives set does include a 1970s look — the 1973 design. Granted, it’s one of the blander designs of the 1970s (the psychedelic 1972s and colorful 1975s are so much nicer), but I’ll take it.

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Collect call: 2014 Topps Tier One baseball

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Topps’ Tier One is certainly high-priced and targets high-end collectors. There is one pack of three cards in each hobby box, and depending where a collector looks, prices will start at $90 and can hover near $100 depending on the seller.

But like the 2013 set, all three of the cards in the 2014 version are hits. This year’s model of Tier One contains two autograph cards and a relic card.

What’s nice about this set is that all of the single and dual autographs in this set are signed on the card, rather than stickers. And some of these autographs are well, rather golden.

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