Thursday, October 31, 2013

First Boston Strong Patch Cards

Perhaps, I deliberately fooled you with that title there. That is just how I think of a "Patch Card" - not one of those goofy 'Manufactured Patch' cards, which is a name required to differentiate them from the cards most collectors associate with the word 'Patch.' Those are all in high-end sets that both bore me and amuse me, and make me feel sad all at the same time. The word 'high' seems fitting at times.

Anyhow, this Drake Britton card from Update shows a nice example of the Boston Strong patch the Red Sox players wore this year. Going forward there will be a lot of cards in all sets featuring an image or pieces of this patch, or replicas of it, and fakes, too.

I like the Britton card even though he was not part of their postseason run. It looks like we have another The Pitcher Isn't Pitching card, though that can only be about 99% confirmed with the usual zoom-to-just-the-torso approach. But I don't think he is standing on the mound and this is a fielding shot. I had no idea who Britton was (promising rookie southpaw reliever it turns out) until I pulled this card, which is of course why I buy baseball cards, particularly these worthless 'low-end' ones. Of course I had to flip the card over to figure out what position he plays, though I am always happy to find a card of a pitcher not in the act of pitching, since 99% of them are the opposite of this one.

There is one more card with this patch in Update:
That's obviously a Closer's card, since they are the only players shown celebrating anything, aside from the Walk-Off cards for the hitters. I do like that theme Topps has developed with that well enough I guess. But such things shouldn't run forever in the world of baseball cards, methinks.

Bailey was also not on the playoff roster, as he is on the 60-day DL. The Red Sox had to use several players as their Closer this year, before moving middle reliever Koji Uehara into the job with spectacular results (check out his 2013 pitching stats - 0.565 WHIP, 11.22 K:BB ratio). As a Tigers fan and general Baseball fan, I can only wonder how much luck will continue and even increase to determine team results, in this power pitching era. The Tiger's chose to attempt to move a rookie into the closer 'role', which didn't work out in that as a rookie, Bruce Rondon wasn't quite ready for the Major Leagues until late in the season, after several call-up attempts, and then finished the season on the Disabled List. Just as Bailey did, who was a player-type all teams desire now: a "Proven Closer." With pitching injuries at all-time levels, will the random chance of when ligaments stretch too far begin to determine the standings in each Leauge? Do they already? The old adage "You can never have too much Pitching" seems more true than ever.

Collating the Update set, I have discovered that Topps is partially on the case here, and I'll have some more to share with you on the topic, straight from my baseball cards.

And regarding the end of the World Series last night: Worst-to-Champion, one helluva feat, Congratulations Red Sox! I think my favorite part is from last March, when sports commentators are required to do something I know they don't like: predict the outcome of a season of professional sports. And really what the Red Sox accomplished this year is very good for Baseball as a whole because, as we all know: There's always next year.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New Respect

I pulled a card in Update with a photo element I'm fairly sure I've never seen on a baseball card before, though this surely can't be the first one:
A Cross. 

I am seriously impressed. In this day and age, when anything that anyone might have an opinion about is carefully scrubbed from any connection to anything a corporation does. A grounds crew putting a Cross in the dirt on the mound caused some discussion at one point this season. And once there is discussion, you can be sure the Cross was soon removed.

I'm not sure how many baseball players wear a Cross while they are playing, but my count is up to two now. I saw one briefly pop out of Carlos Beltran's uniform the other night while he was at the plate. He was definitely not wearing it for show as I didn't see it again. Perhaps Raburn is about to lift his finger in the air as the more traditional sign of an athlete's respect for God, as Beltran is known to do as well. I'm not sure I can think of a card with that gesture on it either however, though I would imagine those exist also.

And now my count is up to three players, and two cards. A Cross also appears on this card, though it is very hard to pick out:
I discovered that one by looking for pictures of ... Carlos Beltran. Which I found, only to see him being held on base by Ramirez in the NLCS, with a cross on definite display. So I checked some of his cards and there it was in last year's Update binder.

[ Looking through that was strange now after spending so much time with the 2013 set. 2012 cards are on average quite a bit darker, it's quite striking to look at pages of them next to this year's cards. It's almost like the ballplayers were playing under a different sun back in 2011. I'll have to look into this and see if the scanner can pick it up for you. ]

Anyhow, getting back to Raburn's card...I'm sure the Ramirez card isn't the first one ever where a Cross can be seen, but the Raburn card has to be one of the more prominent ones ever.

Ryan Raburn really turned his career around this year. Maybe having a fantastic card in Series 1 was finally a good luck charm for him. I can't recall very much that was memorable about any of his other cards. Maybe Topps Voodoo at work in a positive way. But of course Voodoo and Christianity definitely do not mix, sorry Ryan.

Whatever it was, Raburn was a very good 4th outfielder for the Tribe this year after a dismal 2012 in Detroit. He definitely had the physical abilities to play baseball, but he would famously only produce late in the season, which never made any sense when he was with the Tigers. This year, he played with quite a bit more consistency and was able to re-sign with the Indians in the middle of the season.

So I like his new Update card very much. A positive image of a player who didn't quit, and did well when given a second chance in the Major Leagues. We all can root for a player in that situation, perhaps the card prospectors most of all of course, and baseball is frequently about 3rd, 4th, and 5th chances sometimes too.

This card will stick with me for a while. I do also really like the colorful alternate home uniform Raburn is sporting here; more bonus points with all the red-white-&-blue - the colors of baseball triptych - but this card has a critical defect. All the lines of the image flow down. This is never good on a baseball card.

So here, let's look at another card:
Whoa, what set is that from? That sure looks like a pretty sharp baseball card. Minimalistic text, maximalistic logo, understated graphics. Copyright legalese on the front though? What gives?

That's actually a 'Sublimated Plaque' from the MLB shop. So you don't have to keep your favorite ballplayer encased in plastic in a box or a binder all the time.

I will say I think Raburn has a definite favorite batting glove. And though having the player's face in that much shadow earns this baseball picture product a demerit, the lines flow much, much better than his 2013 Update card. Up, up, and can finish the home run call by channeling your favorite announcer here. That's how a baseball card should work.

Now, you may have noticed I capitalized the word Cross through this piece....I respect the Cross. I grew up attending Church, and though I am not a devout attendee these days, I try to live using what I learned there.

But you hardly clicked on a baseball card blog to read my thoughts on Religion. And don't worry, I won't wander off to Politics either by showing one of the Presidential candidate cards upside down or something.

That leaves a wonderfully famous third topic. Your subconscious is already thinking about it now. But it absolutely can't be found on baseball cards, at least until someone makes an insert set of A-Rod's ex-girlfriends, one of whom will again be in the stands in Boston tomorrow most likely. To find that on cards you'll have to wander off to Google this year's WWE cards that always sneak into my eBay searches. Hey...those kind of have a Sea Turtle design.....maybe I should do some more homework....

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Beguiling Binder Page #2

A little 'set maintenance' and card shipping this morning. Picked up a small lot of the /10 Silver Slate cards. The Greinke included in the lot will more than pay for the whole lot.

I figured this series will need a new title, and even a permanent collection on here somewhere. Starting in on the Update pages now too - these will be very tough, requiring Silk or Printing Plate or Platinum on some of them. Ouch! And I'm not even really a fan of the Silk Collection. Keep me in mind for non-blue-team Sapphires from the Update set itself, I will need at least 30 more yet.

Nor am I much of a fan of the basically colorless Silver Slate cards despite the raised border, but decided to use a few when they are very cheap, just for variety on the pages. So finally caved on putting the Neil Walker card in the set, instead of the Target Red version. I might look at a Target Red for the Helton card, though I kinda-sorta like the sparkly teammates that must have just beamed up or something. It looks much 'neater' un-bindered, in-hand — Todd is like "whoa, which way did they go?"

Monday, October 28, 2013


Kind of went with a Rip Challenge for tonight. Rip some packs and blog about the first worthy thing found. I wanted to rip a little for the near-to-last time while listening to live baseball.

Didn't take long.

I have always liked that official MLB logo in the background there; it's been around for my entire life of course. For a long time I have wondered which came first, that logo or the nearly-as-iconic NBA logo. So for tonight's post I finally answered that question. Major League Baseball came first, FTW.

This card is perhaps the best shot of it I have seen on a card in a while. It used to be more common when teams wore it as a patch on their uniforms. Now it is quite a bit more rare.

Aside from the great logo, this is the way to do a 2 player card. Both 2013 All-Star starting catchers, In Action. Horizontal action. The best.

Also excellent are the colors and lines, all harmonious. The line of Molin's torso flowing into the line of the bat on the logo; even Mauer's torso agreeing with the line, that leads us up, up, towards the now departed baseball. It's important on a card that the lines go up. And the colors - the red team on the right, vs the blue team on the left.

Perhaps this is the best example of the MLB logo on the All-Star cards in Update; it can be seen on a bunch of them. I initially praised these cards for being a bit more unique this year. Frequently Topps uses photos from the exact same vantage point for these. 2011 featured a whole lot obviously shot from the media pit near the visiting team's dugout. Even of left-handed batters, with their faces completely obscured.

So these straight-on-the-batter shots are quite an improvement. Maybe I'll figure out how many of them there are (several), as compared to repeat angles from previous sets. But I have a growing pile of cards to blabble about, so you might not ever see that.

I also like that the All-Star cards this year feature a fair amount of fielding action. I found an amusing one on that angle. I can't recall the result of Molina's At-Bat here, nor did I look it up. The National League was shut-out of course, and now the World Series is headed back to Boston. I like that connection between the Mid-Summer Classic and the Fall Classic, though in the All-Whine Internet age, people like to complain about linking them. I think they do that just to complain, not for any sound reason I've ever heard.

Also, if the fly ball Molina had hit on this card had dropped in for a hit, the back of the card would have told me this year, which is a nice touch.

One thing that doesn't match up with the game action here is that logo, since of course Molina made contact. Didja ever notice the ball on that logo? I bet you haven't thought about this. The MLB logo at first glance is 100% pro-pitcher. There is no possible way that hitter is going to make contact with that ball when it is already just 2 feet away and the bat hasn't left his shoulder.

A Strike? Nope. Up over the letters....that ball on the MLB logo is ... a Ball.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I just can't find a hair gel card...

...yet. I asked my chief scout to look into this situation this morning, but he hasn't reported in yet. I think I need to ask all my other scouts. Who are they? Why, that would be YOU.

I guess pre-game "festivities" in the special uniforms don't merit the use of hair gel for Mr. Buchholz here, but I'm jumping ahead of the story. I just wanted a baseball card as the header image.

Baseball recovered quickly from Green-Stuff-in-the-Glove-Gate.
An errant tweet, deleted quickly (likely on the orders of Cardinal management, methinks), got the baseball world wondering about that little green spot there. I watched some message board discussion on the topic, and then wandered off into the archives on the topic myself. During the pre-game show before Game 2 of the World Series, A.J. Pierzynski swept it all back under the rug and that was pretty much the end of it, for now.

I have to wonder if this subject will blob to the surface again next season. The game of baseball is always changing. I generally like to watch the results using my baseball cards.

But I don't think this will ever be a card Toppic, unless I do get lucky and find a hair gel card some day.

Before my interest in all this was piqued a couple days ago, I already had some wonderment left over from game 2 of the ALCS. Here's Clay Buchholz on the mound, with a bit less than a minute before the first pitch:

That's some mighty moist looking hair there, I thought. A little cool to take the mound that way on an October evening, wouldn't you think?

I forget the search terms I used, but while considering things late in the evening after Game 1 of the WS, I ran across this article:

In which it is revealed that this guy:
Basically called out Buchholz for throwing spitballs. Well, Jack and another broadcaster, Dirk Hayhurst; if I have a Dirk Hayhurst card I couldn't even tell you what set it is in. And ole Jack really got up in the Red Sox' grill about this, confronting several of them personally during batting practice the next day, aside from some other public comments. Cuss words were exchanged I believe, and Morris was reported to have said to Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who denied it all, "this ain't my first rodeo."

But apparently, Mr. Morris didn't get the memo on this: everybody does it.

Which is why none of the Blue Jays in the Buchholz game back in May, or any of the Cardinals the other night, asked an umpire to inspect anyone's playing equipment.

It seems that it has been discovered that to increase the famous "movement-at-the-plate" on pitches thrown generally harder now than ever before in the game, pitchers use foreign substances to increase their grip on the ball.

Foreign Substances! Now we're getting exciting! I just love another excuse to put up this card on the blog, because it has always been one of my favorite baseball cards since I was a little boy:

We can't really have this discussion without an obligatory nod to the master, can we? I've previously had fun with a 2013 card and that one, when pretty clearly it was just an example of sweat drying on a ball cap, made a bit more interesting by glossy card stock and hi-res digital photography these days. Maybe that camera tech will get me the card I'm looking for eventually.

Now the rules of baseball say a pitcher caught with foreign substances shall be ejected from the game &/or serve a 10 game suspension. There is a bit of confusion in there about "National Association" players that I don't quite follow.

But how does this work? Rosin, of course, is legal for players to use, and there is a Rosin bag right on the back side of the pitcher's mound. But the players-of-today, making a thousand or more dollars per pitch these days, need more than that just slight drying, tacky action, they can get from Rosin. In other words, they make their own concoctions that work better than straight Rosin. Right there on the pitcher's mound, for everyone to see, if you haven't fallen asleep by now. Or if the camera is even on them.

Let's go back to Clay Buchholz and his showery locks in ALCS game 2:
Now watch what happens next:
Remember, this is about 45 seconds from the first pitch. I tried to get a .gif made of this sequence, but just wasn't up for fidgeting with a bunch of video software, yaddayaddayadda. So here's my next screenshot:
I hope that hair-whatever tastes good! Now it was mentioned during the WS Game 1 broadcast that pitchers are explicitly allowed to do this during cold weather. I'm not sure of Buchholz' actual recipe, but possibly there is a final step, almost seen just as the camera is dissolving away:

That news link up there, reports that 90% of pitchers in baseball today use sunscreen for this purpose. They can easily keep their little stash fresh between innings. And indeed, Buchholz has been called out for that as well, taking the mound in Tampa Bay with an arm with a distinct sunscreen-sheen to it. In a domed stadium.

But there again, the opposing team didn't say anything. This is just all part of the game now; here is a piece in response to Green-Glove-Gate:

Derek Lowe is the pitcher quoted, as is Pedro Martinez.

Now for a purist, a foreign substance is a foreign substance. Let's not wander off into PED land here. Apparently, as viewed by MLB, which knows all about the use of these substances, it goest that the substance is not being applied to the ball in order to alter the movement of the ball. It is being applied to the pitcher's fingertips. But basically, an improved grip results in .... better movement of the ball. "Late-breaking action", and all that.

I have to wonder how all this ties into the state of the game today. Pretty much any and all strikeout records are pretty endangered right now. It's just simply a high-strikeout game these days. Simultaneously, pitching careers are shorter than they used to be, probably because the power pitch is the #1 approach. I found another card somewhat illustrating that in Update; I'll be starting a series on these cards.

And the pitchers are more injury-prone than ever, even with lower pitch counts. Hey, quit snoring over there, let's look at another card from the neat PostSeason Heroes inserts in the new Update set:
What's wrong with that blurry card? It's actually a Chrome card. Don't ask. I'll break that bad news to you some other night. But I'm just showing you the card, because you guessed it, Yeah, I read the backs:
Now of course we will never ever see this again in baseball. Not even from Justin Verlander.

I'm just hoping baseball doesn't push this trend to the levels we see in the NFL, though I don't think that will happen. But the modern knowledge that football players are given millions of dollars in exchange for losing one or two decades of their life expectancy, just to entertain us, has really turned me off from watching that game as much as I used to.

But maybe all these pitchers, with seemingly more than half of them not making it through a whole season without visiting the Disabled List this year, really do need a few foreign substances to help them grip the ball when they throw so hard in this very live-ball era.

All this fascinates me some. I'd like to see some results on my baseball cards, and I do have a few cards in mind to share with you another time.

The article featuring Jack Morris and the word "spitball" also really brought me back to my youth, when Jack Morris came to my town on a day off from MLB. He went out on a fishing charter, and him and 2 friends landed 17 salmon. I was as deep into fishing as baseball cards at the time, and when we read the catch count there in the big front page article in our little town newspaper the next day, our eyes all bugged out. Everybody knew that the limit on salmon was 5 / person. 17 / 3 people? That's cheating.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

What IS That? #7

When I first pulled this card I figured only Madison Bumgarner could answer this question. "Well it was 'bout yaay big, and 'twas about right here...."

I thought hmmm, maybe he's trying to tell a funny story to the cheerleader standing next to him.

But then I thought, hey, baseball doesn't have cheerleaders. Such a pity sometimes, instead we get Teddy Roosevelt racing a hot dog during the 4th inning.

And just having a little fun with Madison would be fun, but kinda lazy blogging. So I did my homework. In other words, I just Googled it. That counts as homework these days, doesn't it?

Mystery solved:

Those are the Veterans selected by the MLB 'Tribute for Heroes' campaign, standing on the base lines during the pre-game ceremonies. Thank you Veterans.

Bumgarner is clapping in appreciation. Nice job Madison.

Topps, not so much.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Pitcher Isn't Pitching #2

It's taken me awhile to find another one of these cards. I know a great one in the 2012 set that will go in with this one, and the only one I found in Series 1.

Come to think of it here at the Update time of the year, there is an awesome such card in 2012 Update, easily one of my favorite cards last year. Few can match that one, I'll put 'er up near the end of the year and some Best-of-2013 lists. I'm still pinching myself over picking up a definite entry on that list yesterday, for 1/6 of what it was going for during the regular season. It's whale hunting season, amigos.

I'm happily collating my Update set, and happily discovering blog subjects. I really like the Update set. I learn a lot about Major League Baseball with it. It updates me. And I am interested in the middle relievers. Really. Yes, really. Not sarcastic "Really", a word that will be over and done by this time next year. Really. Seriously? Sigh.

I also like bonus cards of all the stars in the game, courtesy of the set of All-Star Game cards:
These have really improved some this year I think, with less of the pictures all taken from the same vantage point. I'll delve into that some other time perhaps.

Not a lot to add on this card. I just like any card of a pitcher not actually pitching, especially in the Torso Era, as I am starting to think of contemporary baseball card pictures. There are only so many positions that can be possibly captured when you take an "In Action" picture of a pitcher of course, but with so many cards all zoomed-in / cropped to above the player's knee, the repetition becomes yet more repetitive.

And the more standard, hey, look, the-Pitcher-isn't-pitching selection is a Pitcher doing something with a bat. A popular baseball card meme that I enjoy as well.

For this Pitcher Isn't Pitching Card it was rather too simple to track down the game details, seeing as the front of the card tells me what game it is from and all. So to share my special knowledge here and save you the 2 clicks-and-some-scrolling it takes to discover such things these days, that is Chris Sale carefully tossing the ball to 1st Baseman Chris Davis, getting an assist on a put-out of Michael Cuddyer's weak grounder in the bottom of the 3rd inning.

As Sale was the pitcher of record when Miguel Cabrera scored the 1st, 'go-ahead' run for the AL in the top of the 4th before an eventual 3-0 AL victory, Chris Sale is your All-Star Winning Pitcher for 2013. That makes me think he might have received a more dramatic All-Star card, but I'm very pleased with this one.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Borderless Inserts

Are borderless baseball cards like motherless children? They will have a hard time when the photo bleeds to the edge?

No, I don't think so. I like borderless baseball cards.

I think they get a little overwhelming at times, when they come in a whole set of hundreds of cards. See: Stadium Club. Lots of great cards. But they drain me when I look at a lot of them at once, particularly posed shots.

This year I learned that I like borderless cards a whole lot when they arrive in small batches, as with an insert set, like the wonderful 'Chase It Down' portion of Series 2 this year. I have never had time to blog that one up. Yet, perhaps?

Now, in Update, we have a new one: Postseason Heroes. I like these cards. They are still seemingly set up to become Autograph and Relic versions, though it turns out those cards will be horizontal editions to facilitate that.

But I don't have to worry about that. Sharpie scribbles and bits of fabric don't interest me in the slightest.

OK, OK, I'll let the cards do the talking for the rest of this post:

Hey, look, a new Night Card:

Well played Topps, well played.


The other day I went out to buy new baseball cards to watch the World Series with. Oh, sure, I already had a bunch of Update cards from a Hobby Jumbo, but, well, you know. I need more cards.

Of course what I really need is parallels, and to get parallels I need more than extra base cards to trade for them. I need extra parallels. And that means buying baseball cards from the big colorful Box stores that sell boxes containing colorful baseball cards.

So there I was in Wally•World a whole week after the release of Update. And they still didn't have any. So it goes living back in the woods you see. So here I am on World Series night, posting about Opening Day Baseball cards. It's all 93% of teams have right now. Next year.

Because instead of new Sea Turtles I found a couple of these mysterious Opening Day blasters that could only be found at Wal•Mart this spring. And, until the other day, seemingly only at Wal•Marts south of the real Mason/Dixon line, the Chicken Biscuit line.

What in the heck is the Chicken Biscuit line? That is the true division between the north and south in our country. I think it has replaced The Onion's version of the Mason-Dixon line, the I•Hop/Waffle-House line, because Waffle House keeps marching steadily northward. Smart Yankees.

In the south, every fast food joint everywhere sells chicken biscuits. Even Burger King, and their breakfast menu is otherwise terrible. A piece of deep-fried chicken, on a biscuit. Yummy. In the north, no one sells these. Stupid Yankees. Mickey D's had them available nationally for a time a year or two back now, but they cancelled that menu item in the north, probably due to lack of sales. Stupid Yankees.

But somewhere in America there is a McDonalds that sells chicken biscuits, and 20 or 30 miles to the north of it, there is a McDonalds that doesn't sell chicken biscuits. The true dividing line.

And I only found these special blasters to the south of that line, until yesterday.

I have no idea on the mysteries of baseball card distribution. And I am very, very sure that I had looked at the card shelf in that particular Wal•Mart a couple three times this summer, and those variant Opening Day blasters weren't there. I almost took away from the experience that someone at Wal•Mart dumped these 7 month old blasters on me, instead of crispy fresh packs of Update, because I was in the only town that would be stupid enough to buy them.

So I bought them. Because I know what was in them — baseball cards I still needed. That Opening Day Highlights checklist that could only be found in these particular boxes. I scored 3 more of them:

And lots of other fun cards. So, finally, after my team is all heading for surgery and retirement parties and golf courses, I typed in my want list of all those nifty little Opening Day insert sets. And I am reneging on what I mentioned in my spring post about these cards. I do want to Chase the whole set of them, needing only 4 more of them. So I apologize to the Roy Halladay collector who asked about that card who I then turned down, despite writing they were up for trade. My very bad, and I do feel bad about that. So I hope I can find that email, &/or that gentleman is reading this again, because the good news is I also pulled that card this time, so now I have a double of it available. But only for that one guy that I stiff-armed on it.

My list follows shortly. I only have about 3 ~ 5 weeks left to set up trades before I get to start eating chicken biscuits for breakfast. And thus living without the bulk of my collection, either my old one still in storage, or my new 2011 and onwards one. And I am also probably going to start up an account on COMC to use up all my doubles, so a lot of the long lists of cards on my trade lists will disappear then too. So if you want to trade me all your 2013 Topps Parallels like I want you to, start shopping my lists. I'll try and add lots more stuff real soon.

I really liked the Opening Day inserts. I need to move on to other card projects tonight yet, so I'll only show you one more before you can start finding me all the remaining cards I need.

I would like to comment on the header picture card for this post, the Buster Posey "Play Hard" insert. I liked the nearly tie-dyed border on most of the other cards in the set, though it can't be seen on Posey's. I thought it was ironic that Posey is tagging out Prince Fielder on the card in last year's World Series. Fielder and Third Base Coach (at the time) Gene LaMont took a lot of heat for losing on that play, but of course all baseball fan hindsight is 20/20 (and usually ridiculous). Fielder was out on a very close play. But who, then, is Playing Hard on this play? Fielder is, I think. Wouldn't it be Playing Hard to block the plate? Something Posey definitely didn't do here, though no one would call him on that after what he experienced, which is explained on the back of the card.

Maybe this year's World Series will see the very last plate blocking play in the Major Leagues. We'll see. The Rules Committee is likely to make a Ruling on the subject soon.

And let's just not talk about Fielder's base-wobbling in this year's ALCS Game 6. Topps doesn't make Play Soft cards, fortunately.

I'll give you one more card before my list ... get yours ready now ... I have wanted to see how these beauties would scan ...

ehh, not so much. Much better in person. Now, Let's Trade!

Opening Day Highlights

Need: 1 Zimmerman, 2 Cabrera, 5 Altuve, 6 Sabathia

Have Available: 8 Halladay

Ballpark Fun

Need: 1 Pedroia, 2 Reddick, 4 Fielder, 9 Harper, 11 Longoria, 12 Ortiz, 13 Pujols, 14 Werth, 24 Ramirez, 25 Crisp

Have Available: 5 Kemp, 6 A. Jones, 7 Machado, 8 Santana, 15 Jeter, 18 Barney, 19 Phillips, 20 Soriano, 23 Chapman


Need: 1 Mets, 3, Mariners, 11 Twins, 16 Astros

Have Available: 4 Cards, 5 Rangers, 7 Nationals, 13 Braves, 14 Rays, 22 Red Sox, 23 Reds

Play Hard

Need: 2 Harper, 10 Cabrera, 11 Ortiz, 19 Fielder

I know the Cabrera and Fielder cards weren't actually produced. But a few slipped out into the wild anyway with big holes punched in them. You should send them to me.

Have Available: 1 Posey, 6 Heyward, 7 Pedroia, 9 Castro, 13 Pujols, 14 Wright, 16 Kemp, 18 Ruiz, 20 Molina, 21 Freese, 24 A-Rod

Superstar Celebrations

Need: 1 Kemp, 5 Stanton, 7 Reddick, 13 Hart, 17 Headley, 20 Fielder, 23 Ramirez

Have Available: 2 Butler, 4 Votto, 11 Werth, 12 Morneau, 15 Hernandez, 18 Willingham, 19 Soriano, 25 Ortiz

3-D Stars

Need: 1 Fielder, 5 Jeter, 8 Ortiz, 13 Darvish, 14 Hernandez, 19 Harper, 21 Votto

Have Available: 2 Verlander, Cano, 7 Longoria, 11 Trout, 12 Hamilton, 18 Hamels, 22 Braun, 23 McCutchen, 24 Kemp

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

World Series Box Break

It's World Series Day. I want to rip some new baseball cards. I keep hitting up the Big Box stores, and they still don't have them. It's like they think it's football season or something. I'll return to that shortly in another post.

I am going to satisfy my itch by participating in a Box Break of an Update Jumbo over at the Andrew's Baseball Cards blog: link. 2 Teams, $10. 18 Teams left to pick. You're sure to get some fun baseball cards. If you still agree that baseball cards are fun, like Andrew does, rather than just worthless hit-delivery systems, like most grouchy baseball card collectors. I am also sure Andrew will get some packs ripped for me while the Series is still in progress, unlike a bunch of slack truck drivers lost somewhere on their way to northern Michigan.

Words words words. No one clicks a blog link for the words. Here's a picture:
I think Miggy is going to lose this battle. Trout and Machado are gonna take him out for blocking them at the All-Star Game and the MVP awards banquet, and Miggy is just standing there admiring another Home Run, oblivious. Harper will try and get in the struggle, but he's not all that great at making contact consistently. Harvey is cocked and loaded, but everybody knows he can't throw right now.

That leaves Darvish. He looks pissed. Not a good look for a card wrapper there Topps, displaying a player showing an unflattering Game Face in the heat of battle. Does Grumpy Cat sell products?

But cards man, we need cards to look at. OK, OK...You sharpies may notice the special little H on the pack there. I did well with this pack; I pulled this card out of it, though I am too lazy to take it back out of the top-loader for you:

Nomar is not impressed. What is this set, the Grumpy Tween Gymnast edition? All those ballplayers looking up in the air rather than at a not even Barely Legal Twitter feed?

Oh, yeah, baseball cards. I'm sure you will enjoy ripping a Jumbo with Andrew. I bought one at my Friendly Local Card Shop, along with a couple packs just for good measure. Yeah, I collect the wrappers too. I'll show those off some day. The sweet slippery feel just won't translate across the wireless internet wires, but I'm sure you will remember it on your own.

I did pretty good on my Jumbo. I pulled one of the /25 Sapphires I am lusting after, a 1/1 printing plate, a Silk Collection, another short-print (McCutchen) and an All-Star Stitches I have already traded for a Camo. And this mammer-jammer:

I'm thinking I'll trade that one to Andrew when he pulls the /62 HTA-only Black Border edition of the best Black&White card I've seen in about forever, the DeWayne Wise card. That will make a sweet 2 card rainbow. I hope he hits the White Sox on the random for his second team. Or, maybe I will, though with my first pick I couldn't pass up a shot at the sweet Scherzer/Cabrera short-print from the team I wish was playing tonight (and it stands to reason that I pull hits from the LCS winners). It's random. I have a little pile going for a White Sox trader....

What are you hoping Andrew will pull from these cards? Try out a Group Break and see what happens. You don't want Yu to throw that ball at you, do you?

Hey, maybe I can get him to launch that one at the front window of the next Big Box store too slack to stock their shelves on time...

I just don't usually care for 2-player cards

I'm having a hard time recalling any 2-player cards I've actually liked very much. Aside from my favorites — the old "Father/Son" cards that I haven't seen in quite a long time, though professional baseball is often still a family tradition. There were probably some others over the years; if I could get at all of my collection perhaps I would find some more. 2-player Leader Cards can be OK as well.

This year Archives had the "Dual Fan Favorites", which at least dispensed with the convoluted statistical connections of the 2011 "Dynamic Duos" inserts, and simply puts two popular players from one team on the same card. In the age of massive player collecting, Topps gets one card desired by possibly two different player collectors.

Now in the 2013 Update set we have a fairly similar insert subset called "Franchise Forerunners," with 2 players from one team; one recent rookie, as if we don't get to see those players enough, and a somewhat older player. Let's check out the results:

Hey, look, He poses for pictures now too. I'd wager pretty heavily that we'll see these exact mug shots again, possibly as soon as March when Heritage appears.

I like the colors. A baseball card can't go wrong with Red and Blue, especially for a Dodger card. Not too sure about the faux-concrete background there. And I like the idea of a pennant on a baseball card at least. But the result feels a little weak.

So we've got 2 profile pictures and a bit of graphic-ness. For once on a recent insert set, I'm not completely sure where the relics and autos go, though I am sure there are "hit" versions. But I don't really care.

Now many people consider baseball cards to be strictly one-sided products. But of course, I read the backs:

Pretty minimal, with more of that faux-concrete whatever to help you fall asleep faster. I only noted that  bit there about Puig's first 17 games to start getting my own estimate of the production schedule for these cards for future reference. I do like the nearly painterly use of Puig's first name for the second reference to him by the card-back-writer, which is used consistently on the other cards I have pulled so far. Yasiel, Yasiel, say it with me ... crib notes from Vin Scully if you have to.

I pulled 5 of these so far. The Puig/Kemp already has a destination, but I also pulled 4 - Cole/McCutchen; 5 - Myers/Longoria; 7 - Harvey/Wright; 9 - Cespedes/Henderson, if you need them. I do not.

This was my first baseball card to feature Wil Myers:

And led me to an education from another famous Will when I read the back:

That card back initially made me mad. Surely bated would be spelled "baited", I thought, but it turns out to be a derivative of "abated", coined by Shakespeare. Baited breath makes no sense. Abated breath does. Oh, the places you'll go...

This next card really did make me mad however:

I'm not sure why Topps went with any use of the color Red on a Pittsburgh Pirates card. Maybe they thought the Pirates actually play across the parking lots at Heinz Field. Dunno.

What I do know is, this is just another useless insert set taking up space in the packs I purchase. I just can't warm up to this one after a pretty likable run of inserts this year. Perhaps, neither could Topps:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Joy of a Completed Binder Page

Well I've been wanting to type that post title for a long time now. A title I borrowed from the always entertaining Card Junk blog.

I have been buying packs, single cards, lots of cards and have sorted them and typed out their numbers and re-sorted them and have finally completed the first page of my Parallel Project.

May I present 2013 Topps Series 2 Cards 350 ~ 358:

I have had several pages stuck at 8 cards for quite a while now. Henderson Alvarez no-Hit the Tigers on the last game of the regular season, and now he was no-hitting this project....until a lot of Series 2 Gold cards came in, and I decided to re-check each page in the binder. I had a /62 Black border card of Alvarez, but I also had one of Juan Francisco, and I was giving preference to the horizontal card on a slot for a Black card — my favorite of the parallels this year. Probably it was the Greg Dobbs card that became the keystone of completing the page. I had him in several colors ... I sorted the stacks .... I discovered a new /2013 Gold of Francisco ... but I already had Dobbs on the page for Gold ... I found a Target Red of Dobbs ... Get Down! Page Complete!

I especially like this page because it doesn't use any Emerald (my least favorite), thanks mostly to the /10 "Silver Slate" parallel I picked up on eBay. It also helps that I could use a card from the /2013 Blue Foil parallels from Opening Day, which is true on most pages in Series 1 & 2, but not quite all of them.

Along the way I discovered how tough it can be make a nice-looking page with these cards. As the difficult cards (Pink, Black, or Camo) on a page arrive, I can start placing the more easily acquired parallels. I realized I would have to buy the low /x parallels of common players and use the most printed parallels (Emerald, Wal•Mart Blue, Target Red) for the stars. I got lucky and pulled the Pujols card from a blister pack at Toys•R•Us. (Thanks Geoffrey!)

However when I can place the Red & Blue parallels I was surprised to learn I couldn't bring myself to just use any parallel I had laying around. I couldn't use a Target Red parallel of Asdrubal Cabrera up does not a good parallel make. I also realized that the team colors and card border parallels are a bit like being able to make your own baseball cards, at least in terms of the color scheme.

I managed to finish 2 other pages shortly after that one; a second from Series 2 and my first in Series 1 as well. I'll shut up are cards 458 to 466:

I might re-do parts of that page as I'm not sold on the Purple-on-Red of the Pomeranz card, which is actually one of the worst in either Series with print lines in the background. The Emerald would hide that perfectly; I like Orange-on-Emerald for the Orioles but I might order Hammel and Pomeranz to switch, we'll see.

Don't forget you can click on an embedded picture in a blog for a better view of it. I scanned these in their brand new binder pages where they will live for all eternity, but the upload process shrinks everything considerably.

That is cards 317 ~ 325 from Series 1. I'm not totally into Teal-on-Wal•Mart 'Blue' either, but it will do for now.

I still can't believe I finally have some pages done. Only 71 pages to go ... then 37 more for Update, and for that one I won't have access to 4 possible colors: Silver Slate, Blue Sparkle, Toys•R•Us Purple, and Topps Factory Set Orange. I'll probably have to cave in a little and use one white Base Card per page for that one.

So blow the dust off that PC Rainbow, Team Rainbow, Master Team Rainbow, whatever partially completed collecting project you lost interest in with these cards, and let's trade some parallels!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Update on the Morrow

Well the first card of a set that one should blog about would normally be the first card in the first pack:

A solid, seemingly workman-like effort at first, this card grows on me some as I gaze upon it. 

Plus: nice flow of multiple diagonal lines.

Minus: the now standard cropping of the player above his knees. Letting us have a little more background context might have reinforced the lines, or possibly weakened them from this end result. We'll never know. At least all the floating torsos don't come with a set of storm clouds as the cult-like Inception cards did.

Plus: the lines all lead you to the baseball in Morrow's right hand. I like to see the baseball on my baseball cards.

Half-Minus: the Nike swoosh takes us a little roller-coaster ride and all that flowing has me a little woozy, though strangely still without any desire to own any Nike anything.

So yer average 2013 Sea Turtle. Let's check the back:

I didn't even find anything to mark-up with my digital pen. The Topps writer does an OK job of creating a "first pitcher in Club history" deal out of arbitrary stat limits; I think he could have been a little more generous and pointed out the dramatic improvement in Morrow's numbers in the 2012 season.

A bigger question is why Toronto's #2 starter at the beginning of the season wasn't in either Series 1 or 2 or Opening Day already. ?  Normally in Update we get lots of middle relievers, not seemingly solid starters. All those R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson cards must have left poor Brandon swept under the rug at the Topps office.

Which is just as well as he unfortunately struggled with injuries in 2013; he didn't pitch at all after late May and thus inadvertently created a perfect situation for an Update card. Except for my aforementioned complaint of why a WHIP of 1.11 doesn't earn a card in the regular Series?

Ahhh, the mysteries of common baseball cards.

The next card has already been seen on 2 good blogs so far, and will probably have a nice future of popularity as bright as the nearly glowing infield grass:

I thought I'd do my own scan of it to help further show off that nice run of shadows there at the bottom. I'm thinking those will really pop on some of the various build-your-own-baseball-card options we have with all the parallels these days. There will be an obvious one I will want, but I think some of the other options might surprise the viewer. The /2013 Gold parallels can be a bit of a sleeper hit. Decisions, decisions.

And on that note I will sign out for the evening, for as much as I like typing up my ramblings on baseball cards with y'all, I like looking at brand new baseball cards even more...

Friday, October 18, 2013

ALCS FLCS pick-up

I like Broadcaster cards. Cards of Broadcasters in action, or ballplayer cards of the ex-ballplayers. I'll show you some of my few prides and joys some day when I am actually at home, where my cards live.

For all of this thrilling edition of an ALCS, I have been traveling, where blogging is difficult. But the other day a both fortunate and unfortunate rain delay (for my work, not for the game that night, fortunately), allowed me to visit my Friendly Local Card Shop. Yes, the one I was worried about in my previous post.

So I have some wonderful new Sea Turtles to babble about. Hobby Sea Turtles at that. Awesome Nomar Garciaparra pull so far.

Hey, wait! He played for the wrong team. Fortunately, I also picked up this long-time desired card:

Only one-fiddy! Not three. Why haven't I started buying these cheap old Vintage cards a long time ago? Oh, yeah, they're not exactly sold on the street corners out in the backwoods where there are no street corners.

I like this card thanks to the lurking light-tower and a stadium's upper deck (such comforting photo elements, so.....Vintage) also because of the back:

Which brings you some reminders of a few of the stories Jim likes to tell during his broadcasts - he is from Hershey, PA, and he enjoyed playing 2 sports in high school, doing well at each.

Tomorrow night I will be listening intently to the Tigers broadcast, from the opening interview with Jim Leyland to Dan Dickerson's final sign-off. Well, hopefully I can skip the sign-off, because they will play again on Sunday.

Whenever the Tigers are playing a possible elimination game or game 162 of the regular season, I absorb the radio broadcast, which mean a lot to me. Probably to save it all up for the offseason. I don't like the offseason. The Hot Stove League just doesn't do it for me.

I'll write more on the Tigers' radio team some other time. Hopefully when I finally pick up the other 2 Jim Price cards that I believe exist from his playing days. I would love to discover some new ones from the 21st Century though I doubt any exist.

Who listens to the radio anymore anyway?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The New Baseball Cards Aren't Here! The New Baseball Cards Aren't Here!

I love where I live. I love where I work. I am very fortunate to do what I do. This year at work I have lost track of how many Eagles I have seen, to brag on just one tiny cool thing about it.

But I am rather less happy about being at the edge of nowhere — I live in the Great Lakes and watched the sun rise out of Lake Huron this morning, so I'm always at the edge, not the middle — when it comes time to buy some brand-new baseball cards.

A time when I end up as happy as a Jerky guy in a 1970s movie when the new phone books arrive.

What are phone books? Don't worry about that. They were these clunky things used in the 70s, among other decades, that time has passed by, mostly.

Another clunky thing from the 1970s  are ... Wacky Packages! Fortunately, they are remaining somewhat timeless.

I love it when Topps drops little, or not so little, shout-outs to timeless art masterpieces in their work.

I thought it was rather lucky to be in nowhere land just long enough to still pick up a last pack of Series 10. I don't know if I have a set of it yet; I still have some to rip back at home Base. And indeed I picked up the very last pack available on the rack.

Of course with there being a big baseball game today, I had to pick up just a few more baseball cards somehow. Yesterday I went with a little bit more Topps Chrome (trade list list list updated) and pulled David Ortiz, twice. Naturally, the Tigers lost.

Tonight things went much better. I purchased one last rack/jumbo/fat pack of Trout Turtles, errr, Series 2, to luck my team into victory. And what a phat pack it was: I pulled 3 Miguel Cabrera cards in one pack!  And only one Red Sock - Johnny Gomes, who didn't even make tonight's line-up. Topps nails it shut as the Tigers crush a former White Sock! Thanks Topps! Don't mess with the Topps Voodoo!

Now if only the wizards of Duryea could do something about those durn Update Turtles. The new Sea Turtles are still swimming towards me way up here, and they sure swim slowly.

And if I finally find some Update for sale tomorrow and I pull a Boston Strong parallel....oh dear.

I have a few things left in Series 1 & 2 to babbly-on about, but those will have to wait. Even Turtles reach their destination eventually, though meanwhile I am becoming very, very concerned about my current nearest Friendly Local Card Shop (65 miles from home), which I haven't reached in my review series yet. I want to reserve a "Hobby Jumbo" of Update...but they haven't answered their phone all week. I can only hope and pray the owner is simply on vacation.

Luckily I can still be Wacky!

Perhaps it explains what happened to those sluggardly Sea Turtles still stuck on some semi somewhere: "They've gone AWOOL and are on the lamb!" You slay me Topps, you really do. Nice work pairing that punny masterpiece with more of the same on the back:

I wish I could scan that one for you to walk off every last foot-pun of fun there. You'll just have to shuffle on down to the Big Box store on your own two feet and find one of your very own. Topps is a little better than I with the word footsie on it. Maybe I'll pull a double for ya when I finish ripping Series 10. I do hope to find doubles, triples and quadruples of this one:

Occupy shout-out! Political Wacky! These are rare in the sets but they do appear from time-to-time, and I will be sticking this on some things. I have a few pulled to share with you on some other grumpy no-baseball cards day.

I have mentioned in a previous foray into my original www - the wonderful world of Wackys - how much I like the new mockery theme on the backs, the TV show billboards, like this one:

As usual I am left wondering if these things really are for children. Though whenever I think I know that answer, I immediately find 2 or 3 ho-hum scatological Wackys.

In this Series, perhaps for the first time ever, I really like one of the puzzle subjects:

I like it enough that I might try and figure out how to display the puzzle pieces even, courtesy of this hanger/jumbo/rack/fat pack (I can never get the nomenclature right for those things except for the Series 1 packs with Prince Fielder on the wrapper) which hooked me up with 6 of the 9 puzzle pieces at once. I'm not quite used to such large Packages of Wacky.

Still finding new stuff to make me purchase more stuff while I wait for the new stuff, even in the Wacky Packages. Topps has my number. They even knew to give me a sweet new taste of one of my previous favorites from this Series:

Nice. Primary colors. Orange and blue, like this baseball team I like. I could grow to like these Parallel Wackys.... Ut-ohhh....