A great, though not new story about Prime Minister Pete Nice and baseball memorabilia

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I was involved in a random Twitter exchange with Jason Collette and Kevin Goldstein from Baseball Prospectus today in which the subject of 3rd Bass came up.  No, not the hot corner, but the hip hop group best known for the single “Pop Goes the Weasel.”  Yeah, that was a long time ago, but neither Jason, Kevin nor I are that young, so it’s OK.

The mention of 3rd Bass reminded me that Pete Nash — more famously known as Prime Minister Pete Nice of 3rd Bass fame and the guy in the middle of the above pic — was a big baseball historian and memorabilia collector.  I couldn’t remember where I heard that but I knew it was the case.  Collette shot me a link to a Sports Illustrated story from a little over a year ago that jogged my memory.  Seems that Nash/Nice was so big a memorabilia collector that it drained his fortune, got him involved in all kinds of litigation and eventually led to a determination that he committed fraud related to phony baseball memorabilia. Fun times.

It’s fascinating stuff, as is the whole memorabilia market, really.  I dabbled it in a bit with baseball cards, which is the far more respectable end of the memorabilia pool.  When you get into old jerseys and letters and equipment and various other sorts of arcana, it gets dicey and seedy pretty fast.  This quote from the article sums up my experiences with it:

For all its many upstanding, passionate collectors, the baseball-memorabilia subculture is also a notoriously seedy shadowland of Mametesque schemers and dreamers, thick with forgeries and thefts, conflicts of interest, dubious “authenticators,” shill bidding, card doctoring and any number of other dubious practices. “The hobby is mostly filled with low-life hucksters, some of whom grow up to own important auction houses,” says a longtime collector of early baseball material. “You can count the number of people who are smart and educated and honest on one hand.”

I’ve mentioned that client I used to have who was a rare coin dealer and who got thrown in jail for 20 years over a $50 million fraud?  Well, he dabbled in the memorabilia business too. He told me once that he never got into it too seriously, however, because it was “too damn crooked.”  Really.

Anyway, if you like old baseball memorabilia or if you simply like 3rd Bass, it’s a good read.

Struggling Francisco Rodriguez’s job seems to be secure

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Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continued to struggle on Thursday, allowing a run in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. It’s the sixth time in nine appearances that the right-handed veteran has allowed a run, bumping his ERA up to 6.23. He’s blown two saves and has two losses on the year.

Despite that, it doesn’t sound like Rodriguez’s job as the Tigers’ closer is in any jeopardy, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. When asked how much of a leash Rodriguez has, manager Brad Ausmus said, “I’ll let you know.” Ausmus continued, “I think people have short memories. This guy did a pretty good job for us last year. Early on, people were worried because the velocity was down. Well, the velocity is back.”

“But at some point,” Ausmus said, “he does have to pitch the way he pitched last year, because he did an outstanding job for us last year and in a city that has been looking for a closer that was consistent for a long time, he was that.”

Rodriguez, 35, doesn’t have the stuff he once did. And the Tigers do appear to have someone who would be a better option in high-leverage situations. Lefty Justin Wilson has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings so far this season with 15 strikeouts and three walks. But for now, it sounds like Rodriguez will be free to work through his issues.

The Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field

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Don’t look now, but the Nationals have the best record in baseball at 16-6. They’re coming off a 10-game road trip in which they went 9-1, including sweeps of the Braves and Mets and a 3-1 series against the Rockies at Coors Field. During that series with the Rockies, the Nationals scored 46 runs, which is nearly as many as the Royals (54) have scored all season long. The Nats scored double-digits in all three wins.

The first game at Coors, an 8-4 loss, saw a three-hit game from Anthony Rendon and a homer from Ryan Zimmerman.

The second game featured Trea Turner hitting for the cycle and driving in seven runs. Daniel Murphy had three hits and five RBI.

The third game saw Turner finish a triple short of the cycle. Bryce Harper had four hits. Zimmerman had three hits including a homer. Murphy homered, too.

The fourth game featured homers from Adam Eaton, Harper, and Murphy. Seven members of the lineup had multiple hits and six had multiple RBI including pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

The series helped the Nationals bring their run differential to +34, the best in the National League. The Yankees are the only team with a better differential at +35.

Indeed, the Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field. They return home to open up a three-game set with the ailing Mets on Friday night.