Sunday, June 25, 2023

Baseball in French, Lesson 7: La Victoire Protégée

Welcome to Baseball in French, Lesson 7. Previous lessons can be found here.
Today's term is la victoire protégée.
In English, that translates to "protected victory". What's the baseball translation?


Here's Jeff Reardon, master of protecting victories, on his 1983 O-Pee-Chee card. 
The term has even more of an effect when you pair it with the previous lesson's French term for blown save: le sabotage
Instead of being sabotaged by the opposing hitter, the pitcher protects the victory. Pretty cool.

Now there's nothing wrong with the English-language term, "save". It's direct. To the point. If you're the relief pitcher, you've saved the game for your team. But taken together with the opposite outcome, "blown save", it's just not very exciting.

Additionally, with "blown save" you're kind of blaming your pitcher all the time (i.e., he blew it), even if he was dotting the corners and the other team happened to do an even better job making contact and getting hits. The French version, le sabotage, puts the negative on the opposing hitter. He sabotaged your attempt to seal the victory for your team. That description keeps you in noble stead. There's something nice about that, I suppose. It's more respectful. (Even if you threw a meatball right over the middle of the plate.)
As for Mr. Reardon, he protected a victory for his team 367 times across his 16-year career, which lands him at 12th on the all-time list as of this writing. He amassed 877 strikeouts over that time, which doesn't sound like much, but is actually not too shabby for a guy who was a reliever from the start. While with Montreal in 1985, he led the majors in saves with 41. He's a 4x All-Star and won the World Series with Minnesota in 1987, picking up 2 saves in the ALCS and one more in the World Series. Three very important protected victories there.

What do you readers think? Do you go with the more noble, medieval "sabotage" and "protected victory", or is the straightforward "save" and "blown save" good enough for you?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section, and thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 18, 2023

2022 Series Custom Cards: PRINTED (Plus a Giveaway)

Fun news from Nine Pockets Headquarters:

The 2022 custom cards have arrived!

I finished the year with a total of 15 unique custom cards on the official Nine Pockets checklist, which is a solid number for me. And that doesn't include the special sets: There was the 8-card rock band set, the 6-card Blazing Saddles set, and the Mets broadcasting team card, which had three related short prints. That brings the total to 33, which is a new high.

Here's a closer look at a card front and a card back:

To keep the brand going, I used the same template that was used for the card backs from previous years, changing just the ink color to distinguish this year from the others. (2019 dark gray, 2020 indigo blue, 2021 maroon, 2022 dark green.)

The special card sets received custom card backs that more closely resemble the style of the original set, like this example. 

Those are always fun to do.

The 2022 cards are available for sale in my eBay store, but just as always, I'd like to get some of them into the hands of you fellow collectors, free of charge. So let's do a giveaway for the first 10 commenters.

Here's what to do:

(1) Go to my custom card gallery and find two cards you'd like from the 2022 list. The only unavailable cards are the Adam Richmans and the Mets Booth short prints (orange, green, mint).
(2) Come back here and leave a comment that includes your two card choices, plus one consolation choice just in case every single commenter wants the same two cards and I start running out of stock.
(3) If you haven't sent me your mailing address during a previous giveaway, or if your address has changed recently, please email me with that information. A link to my email address appears on my blogger profile page. You can also contact me on TCDB.
And that's all you have to do. 
Thanks so much to all you readers, fellow collectors, and fellow bloggers for spending some time here at Nine Pockets. You guys continue to provide great inspiration and entertainment, and I look forward to getting these custom cards out to you.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Getting a Baseball Card . . . from Japan!

A couple of months ago I made a fun announcement here on the blog: The Sadaharu Oh stained glass card design that I'd created back in 2020 was now available in print form. I even gave away a few copies to readers.
But I hadn't forgotten that the original inspiration for the design came from Sean, the man behind the blog called Getting Back into Baseball Cards . . . in Japan. So that same week I also sent him a copy of the stained glass Sadaharu Oh card.

Well, wouldn't you know it, just a few weeks later something arrived in my mailbox . . .  from Japan.

There's the postage.
It was from Sean. Included was a nice thank-you note, plus a card that I wasn't expecting at all. 

A 1975 Calbee card featuring Sadaharu Oh!

Wow. That's very cool. Not only is it my first playing-era Sadaharu Oh card, it's also my first Calbee card. Ever!
It measures 2 3/8 x 3 3/8, which is just slightly smaller than the standard trading card. It's a pretty crisp color photo for 1975. Here's a look at the card back.


I found the checklist for this set, and it runs at a rather large 936 cards. At first I was floored when I noticed that about 75 of those cards feature Sadaharu Oh exclusively. Seventy five! 
But it turns out that's not exactly atypical. Fellow Yomiuri Giants slugger Shigeo Nagashima has well over 100!

That's what will happen when you have only 11 teams in such a large set. And that's not all. The Giants in particular were such a big deal that they received a whopping 366 of the 936 total cards, while less popular teams at the time, like the Kintetsu Buffaloes, only received 25. Ouch. 
But the Giants are the Giants. And besides, look at these career stats.
Sadaharu Oh: 2831 G, 2786 H, 422 2B, 25 3B, 868 HR, 2170 RBI, .301/.446/.634
Shigeo Nagashima: 2186 G, 2471 H, 418 2B, 74 3B, 444 HR, 1522 RBI, .305/.379/.540
Sadaharu Oh still sits atop the Nippon Professional Baseball career home run list by a large margin. Nagashima, known as "Mr. Giants", sits at 15th all time.
That'll get you numerous cards in the set. And I'm happy to have this particular card in my collection.
Sean, thank you very much for the surprise return gift. And keep up the great work over there!

Sunday, June 4, 2023

New Season, New Softball Team

In early March of this year there was a milestone event here at Nine Pockets Headquarters:
My wife and I bought a new home and moved from one part of New York to another. 

We're really enjoying it so far. However, the location is far enough away that it no longer made sense for me to play in the New York City softball league that I've played in for the past few years. So this spring I had to find a new league. And a new team.
I knew I'd miss all my Wolfpack teammates, but the timing actually worked out pretty well. Our team captain, his two college-age children, and his wife all played for the team, and they all moved down to Florida over the winter. A couple of other long-time players from the team will be moving out of New York shortly as well. So there wasn't much of a team to go back to anyhow.

Thankfully, there were a couple of solid-looking leagues to choose from out here in our new neighborhood. After chatting with three or four different team captains, I found a pretty good fit. This particular team was looking for an infielder—preferably a third baseman—and a hitter who can get on base so the power guys can drive him home. That fits my skill set fairly well. I soon met up with the team for a practice, and all the guys seemed pretty cool. And that was that. I had a new team.

Well, the season started the first weekend of May, and it's been good so far. I've been slotted into the bottom third of the batting order, which I respect. This team has quite a few good hitters, and lots of them have been playing together for 10 or 15 years, so there's no way I was going to find myself the lead-off or two-hole like I was with the Wolfpack. And I've been hitting decently in the bottom third, keeping it simple with some well-hit, well-placed singles. I've made my share poor swings too, and haven't been focused at times with my situational hitting, but it's early in the season. I'll sharpen up.
As for defense, I knew before the season started that I'd be splitting time between my natural position of third base, the somewhat familiar position of second base, and the very new-to-me position of catcher. Our middle infielders are really solid, and they seem to make diving plays or sliding plays every game. That's been motivating me to be at the top of my game when I play third and second, too. I like it.
Here are some similarities and some differences compared to the previous league I played in.





Games held Sunday A.M.

Games held Sunday A.M.


6-inning games

7-inning games


Co-ed Intermediate

Men’s Intermediate


One game each Sunday

Doubleheader each Sunday


More than 1-hour commute to fields via commuter train, subway, and walking

15-minute drive to fields



Overall, the competition is definitely a bit stiffer. For example, the teams we've played so far make quick adjustments on defense. If they put the "lefty shift" on me during my first at-bat of the game and I promptly slap a single through the big hole between third and short, I notice that the very next time I come up to bat, the big hole is no longer there. That wasn't the case with a few opponents in the previous league, so it might be more difficult for me to tally those "free" singles throughout the season. We'll see.
As for the doubleheaders every Sunday, I'm hopeful that the extra energy I need for the second game will come from the much shorter commute, not to mention the extra sleep I can potentially get the night before. As for any other challenges, I welcome them.

So why have I gone into so much detail here on the blog?
Well, Nine Pockets does focus on sports and trading cards, and I know some of you really enjoy following sports, even if it's a blogger's Sunday morning softball league. I also know that documenting the softball season a little bit here on the blog will help me be more accountable and work even harder out there on the field. So there's that.
Once the Spring/Summer season has wrapped up, I'll post another update with some stats. If I play Fall ball, I'll do the same.
I hope some of you have enjoyed this post, as well as the one I did to wrap up last season
And if any of you readers are also softball players, here's to gettin' dirty out there.

Thanks for reading!