How can you not love this guy?
Vladimir Guerrero's a guy I started following, like a lot of us did, through fantasy baseball leagues. For years, he was "the best player no one's ever heard of", and unless you watched a lot of NL East games during his tenure with the Expos (which I didn't, sadly) or caught him in Sportscenter highlights, you didn't see a lot of him either. You really couldn't argue against him being one of the best, if not the best player in the game for a few years there, even without seeing much of him.
(Here, Vlad signs a baseball for one of the three people who have heard of him in 1997. "No, man, I'm not Wilton!")
I'm not going to have a huge amount of commentary on this particular Player Of The Month post. For me, this is sort of a "Why ask why?" thing. Something about the guy just kinda jumped off the page at me, and here I am. I've got a long, long road ahead of me as a Vlad collector, as there are more cards of him (around 2100 or so, by a little rough checking around) than of just about any other player I collect (Randy Johnson, who I collect but not as actively, has about 100 more, and Ichiro's at about 1900 and almost guaranteed to pass Vlad). I do have this minor league card, and another one I posted as part of my March $5 Challenge, but so far, I've got no rookie cards, no autographs, and one jersey relic to my name. This isn't to say that I don't have a bunch of Vlad's cards (I'm at 71 as of this writing), but that's still only about 3% of the unique cards printed of him, with him still playing and getting new cards. I'm not nuts enough to be all "ZOMG MUZT HAVE IT ALL" here, but I'm thinking that I'll probably be working on acquiring Vlad's cards for a good long time.
One of the things that's pretty amazing about him is that he's played hurt for ages. He hurt his back in the 2003 season (Olympic Stadium's turf hurting a player? Say it ain't so!), and while this made him stop putting up the ridiculous numbers he had prior to the injury (mostly it slowed him down, preventing him from being a 40 HR/40 SB threat, and hurt his play in the field over time), the guy's remained one of the most feared hitters in the game to this day. No one likes facing Vladimir, ever.
After his run with the Expos ended (a year before the Expos themselves left us and became the Washington Nationals), Vlad moved to The Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim Or Whatever Arte Moreno Calls Them. Bouncing back from that back injury, Vlad won the MVP in '04, his first year there. Even better, he finally played for a team that I actually got to see once in a while.
Now living in Los Angeles, Vlad became, well...he was the man for his time and place. He just sorta fit right in there.
Dude won a Home Run Derby in 2007, too!
After his tenure in Los Angeles (where Vlad helped the Angels become a perennial contender), Vlad headed to Texas for a year, and sure enough, Texas were in their first World Series. Because of Vlad's aforementioned fielding woes, brought upon by the '03 injury and his not seeing a lot of the field in recent years, it was kind of a bittersweet first Series to watch as a fan of his, especially for a guy who was compared to Clemente in the outfield earlier in his career. Still, Vlad had a fantastic, bounceback season with the Rangers, and while they didn't keep him, he's still playing with the Baltimore Orioles, and having a pretty solid season for them and my fantasy team. (Damn it, I forgot to scan the '11 Bowman card, which is my only Vlad-on-the-Os card so far. Ah well, it's not a great Vlad card as they go, anyway.)
Seriously, though. Just look at this guy's smile! How could you not love him?
As I do every month, I'm extending the following offer: for all of June, if you think of trading with me, think first and foremost about trading your spare Vladimir Guerrero cards to me. (Especially autographs and rookie cards, as I have none of the man!) While trading can be an inexact science so your mileage may vary just as mine may, I will consider all Vladimir Guerrero cards (old, new, whatever) to be worth double of what I would any other stuff I'd get in trades this month. I'll be making this offer for each Player Of The Month. My Vladimir Guerrero haves are listed below.
Vladimir Guerrero (75): 96-00, 05, 07, 10-11 Topps, 05 Topps AL Hits Leaders, 07-08, 10 Topps Allen & Ginter, 09 Topps Allen & Ginter Mini, 99, 04, 07 Topps All-Star, 10 Topps Chrome, 10 Topps Chrome Refractor, 05 Topps Cracker Jack, 03 Topps Finest, 08, 10-11 Topps Heritage, 11 Topps Kimball Champions, 08 Topps Moments & Milestones 136-14-33/150, 08 Topps National Baseball Card Day, 10 Topps National Chicle, 05 Topps Opening Day, 01 Topps Reserve, 08 Topps Stadium Club, 01 Topps Stadium Club Diamond Pearls, 11 Topps Toppstown, 02 Topps Total Expos Checklist, 08 Topps Trading Card History, 09-10 Topps 206, 10 Topps 206 Bronze, 10 Topps Update, 10 Topps Update NL East Origins, 10 Topps Update NL East Origins Wal-Mart Variant, 10 Topps Update All-Star, 07 Topps Update Home Run Derby, 04 Fleer InScribed, 01 Fleer Legacy, 01 Fleer Platinum, 04, 07 Fleer Ultra, 07 Fleer Ultra Feel The Game Worn, 01 Donruss Studio, 95 Best Cards Albany Polecats, 06, 09, 11 Bowman, 07 Bowman Heritage, 98 Pacific Collection (Bilingual), 96 Signature Rookies Old Judge, 97-98, 09 Upper Deck, 03 Upper Deck Classic Portraits, 08 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions, 08 Upper Deck Goudey, 08 Upper Deck Goudey B/W, 09 Upper Deck Goudey 4-in-1 35-61, 07 Upper Deck Masterpieces, 08 Upper Deck Masterpieces Home Run Derby, 08 Upper Deck Masterpieces Home Run Derby Black Border, 06 Upper Deck Ovation, 00 Upper Deck Ovation Curtain Call, 01 Upper Deck Pros & Prospects, 08 Upper Deck Series 1 Angels Checklist, 09 Upper Deck Signature Stars, 08 Upper Deck Sweet Spot, 08 Upper Deck Timelines