Thursday, February 27, 2014

Big Deal(s)

Two posts in one month is kind of a big deal now.

Don't get me wrong. I am as excited as ever for the 2014 baseball season. 

Even if the Blue Jays are set to have another mediocre year, there is plenty to look forward to. I have a few fantasy baseball leagues - including some with some fine bloggers around here - that will serve as a time sync and post generator for this here blog. 

In theory, anyways.

Things always come up. Like this:


We're buying a house. And that's kind of a big deal. Don't let the photo confuse you, though. The house is currently buried in an unimaginable, unmeltable amount of snow right now. But by the time we're there, I'll finally have space! Sweet, glorious space.

Space for my brewing equipment.

Space to chase my dog(s, eventually) around.

And space for things like this:


Anthony Gose cards. They're becoming a theme here. Why? He's fast. I like fast. He's a good fielder - and underappreciated tool now. 

He's just not a great hitter. And as such, his cards come cheap. Like this one:


Granted, this 2014 Gypsy Queen auto never broke anyone's bank. But at minimum bid and manageable shipping costs, this was easily mine. And it's a good one. A good photo. And the auto isn't on some heartless Topps propaganda sticker. So, you know, it looks good.

Not as good as this, though:


Topps finally got it right in 2013 after years of barf designs (which of course, was resurrected in 2014!) At the height of this was the sepia refractors of Chrome. At release, this one would have set me back a bit. Instead, it was received for $2.99 shipped with the next card and a 2013 Allen & Ginter's common. 


This card, which looks like it could have come from a 2005 Upper Deck release. MVP, maybe. Which, I suppose, is why I like it. 

That's right, a 2014 Topps card I like. Other than Anthony Gose's base card. Two out of 400 isn't bad, right?

But hey, baseball season is coming. I heard Vin Scully's voice today. On a television. While baseball was happening.

Live.

So cheer up.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The prose that comes and Gose


Baseball is still two months away.

Sure, by the end of February, the magical headlines will read "Pitcher and catchers report to Spring Training" will be scrolled across newspapers and blogs all around the land, but all that really means is incessant shots of thirty-something millionaires in the "Best Shape of their Lives (TM)" stretching across bright green carpets that us Northerners can only dream of for the next three months. 

But still. Two months is better than, say, November, when the season ended. Baseball season is my new years. No January resolutions for me. Just months of sitting, waiting. 

And damn have I been patient with this offseason. The Jotas Azules have signed Dioner Navarro. And that's it. I myself just stare out the window, when it's not buried in snow or iced over by freezing rain, dreaming of Spring. I've chipped away at a few collecting goals, but I haven't bought a pack since my Heritage Minors break. I've brewed a few beers. A deep winter porter with maple syrup and a West Coast grapefruit pale ale, in dreams of warmer times and porch-sitting.


 IN collecting, a large quotient of the Old Man's Club got all hot and bothered yesterday over this article. I couldn't get too upset, other than a lack of research on her part (Todd Helton does INDEED have a tribute card in this set, and it is quite nice), and for the most part I agree with her.

The decline continues, yes. But like a prominent blogger pointed out on the twitterz, there are plenty of peaks and valleys in this hobby. We're in another valley, I suppose, but I don't think many will climb the peak to reach the sun's rays again anytime soon.

The cards are too expensive and no one has enough money to buy them without reselling singles. It's a vicious cycle. It has led to a complete change in my collecting process. 

Hot, sexy ebay singles. 


But back to that article that pissed everyone off. I wasn't pissed off. I was saddened, really. The glitz and whatever the hell, I dare not call it glamour, or collecting baseball cards is gone. There's no competition anymore. Nothing is new except the players on the cards, and ever their photos are getting repeated set-to-set, year-to-year.

I mean really, how many times have you seen Mike Trout sliding in to home?


But hey, Topps brought back the acetate cards. 

...about two years after Panini did. And then limited them to 10 copies each. Beacuse, you know, the 10 Mark Buerhle fans out there really need to spend $26 on a parallel of their favorite player. 

I'm not done with The Hobby.

I just want to kick it in the nuts. Preferably pretty hard, and watch it writhe on the ground until it gets the message. 



You used to be cool. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Less Talk, More Rock Shoulders: Three Boxes of 2013 Heritage Minors

Alternate title: Friday, Served Blackened

Black Friday rolled around after a tiring few days of Thanksgiving preparation and nearly drowning myself in delicious craft brews. After two Thanksgivings and a rather beautiful, yet tiring Christmas Tree search, I returned home to the great shithole of Syracuse, New York to browse some post-Black Friday deals.

Lo an behold, Dave & Adam's Card World (from the beautiful Buffalo, New York) had a hell of one:

Boxes of 2013 Topps Heritage Minors for $33/each and free shipping over $100. Sold, sold and sold. 

Here's the results:

Base

The base cards are the exact same style and stock of your MLB-released Heritage. But they're better, because they don't have dicknoses like Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun on them.

Here's some fresh-faced lads you may be hearing about very soon. I'm a big fan of the vertically-challenged Marcus Stroman (#hdmh) Greg Z at The Plaschke is already an admirer of Corey Seager and Byron Buxton - last year's #2 overall pick but likely tenfold more valuable than Mark Appel has the heart of prospectors throughout the hobby.


DJ Davis is very, very fast. And Rock Shoulders is, well, ROCK FUCKING SHOULDERS.

Parallels

In all, I came away with 8 black parallels /96. That's pretty awesome considering /99 parallels in Topps Mothership tend to fall at a case break ratio. Also cloaked in jet blackness: Miles Head (TB), Jonathan Schoop (BAL), Trevor May (MIN), Jonathan Singleton (HOU), Gorman Erickson (LAD) and Stefan Romero (SEA). 


Venezuelans fall 1:box. The odds are slightly better than than, but I made out with three of them. I believe they're relatively more rare than the black, so I was pretty excited to get a stellar prospect in Javier Baez. Also pulled Ryan O'Sullivan and Cesar Hernandez, both in the Philadelphia Phillies puke pile of an organization.

Inserts



I love the Road to the Show insert set. Aside from the checklist highlighting the tops players in the system, the set features short-season players (for the most part) and the logos of their system on the way up, starting with High A (upper left), AA (lower left) and AAA (lower right.)

I chose two Blue Jays here - DJ Davis again and Aaron Sanchez. I also added Alen Hanson - because who doesn't love a toolsy second baseman? (Looks in mirror admiringly.) These are three players I see myself collecting in the coming years. 

Hell, I need someone after the departure of JP Arencibia (RIP) and the implosion of the Blue Jays after 2014.



Here's some Francisco (<3) Lindor in '13 Heritage form. I'm glad he was depicted as a Mudcat - but the didn't spend much time there in 2013. By mid-summer he was an Akron Aeros, which are now the Akron Rubber Ducks, which is wayyyy cooler than it sounds. 

ZOMG MOJO!!!1


 Obligatory autographs of middling prospects! Wee! The prospect auto checklist for this was weak, so I didn't expect much. Typical Topps trolling me with Yankees prospects, a KC Royals prospect auto because KC pitching prospect multiply when they get wet, and creepy-ass Chad Bettis, or should I say, creepy-ass Lenny van Dohlen.


Brett Bochy showing 8-grade pitcherface, Mike Freeman looking like my master's adviser and Anthony Garcia, who I have no comment for whatsoever.


So, I guess this is a "hit." Relics fall 1:box. This is the only "relic" I received. Colorado Springs Sky Sox are the AAA Pacific Coast League affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. Excellent travel accommodations, I assume. 


Blech. A redemption for a basic relic? Just don't put the card in the set. At least Davidson is a prospect that has "made it." He played 31 games with Arizona in 2013, and based on the depth chart and departure of Fan Favorite (TM) Willie Bloomquist, should have a nice hold on the position going into 2014. That is, if he shows enough #grit. 

I mentioned there were three boxes, but we see only tro (or one?) relics above. This is why:

 
MOAR ROCK FUCKING SHOULDERS

Keep your worthless codpiece relics of light-hitting middle infilders, Topps. Give me more of this.

I've been trying to land this card for under $15 since the release of the set. All it took was to get it for good was three $33 boxes! HAHA SUCK IT TOPPS.

Wait.

Dammit.

Anyways.

The Rock Fucking Shoulders (TM) wasn't the last hit. This was pretty cool, too:


Yep. That's my first printing plate. And I like it. I like the player (light hitting middle infielders for the win!) In case you cannot tell, this is World Series Hero (bahahahaha) Kolten Wong. A much-less irritating Hawaiian than Shane Victorino, for what it's worth. This is definitely less creepy than most yellow printing plates that I see.

Here's the back, since old folks like the Night Owl like that sort of thing:


Just kidding, Greg. I like card backs, too.

While you likely won't find any boxes of this for the $33 price tag that I did, I highly recommend this one. Topps didn't muff it up with pictured of dead presidents and walking dead Yankees, so it's a pretty fun open. Hits, though underwhelming, fall at a solid rate and the player selection in the base set is very well balanced. Go get some. Treat yo'self. 

Blue & Blue


The writing on the walls has been there for years. But like every "Call Patty for a good time" there's a thousand glances and chuckles. You walk away. Rumors, MLBTR posts, scathing tweets on historically bad OBPs...but like Patty, you know there's probably a good person there, but a few events here and there soil a reputation beyond repair.

On Monday, my favourite team non-tendered one of my favourite players. For the purpose of this blog, and my own personal collecting goals, he was my favourite player. 

Yesterday, he signed with the Texas Rangers.

The idea of JP Arencibia was more than what JPA is. He was a college star. College stars rarely turn into extraordinary players, and JPA was often less than ordinary. 2013 was historically bad, and the Rangers took a $1M "what the hell" kind of gamble on him that can't possibly fail (but dear sweet lord baby jesus don't let him catch Yu Darvish.)

I don't really know where I'm going with this. But as proprietor of this insignificant blog, I felt I had to say something.

I wish JPA the best. If he managed to play up to 30% of the time, or maybe even become a starter (because let's be honest, he's "backing up" Geovany Soto) and hits a few home runs, I'll be happy for him. 

In fact, I'm glad for him. Sometimes players just need to get out of Toronto to get back to their potential. It doesn't make much sense, but it happens. At least we'll always have this:


Monday, October 7, 2013

Finally.

Well, sort of.

I've always wanted a Jose Bautista autograph, especially an early one. And while I have a disposition against empty space on a baseball card - especially about 1/3 of the total surface - this is a good one. It also came quite cheaply. I don't remember the exact cost, but if was something like $4 - likely attributed to the seller having zero feedback.

I didn't give the seller that +1. It took them a while to ship. Cards from North Dakota rarely take over a week from trader Matt P., and this took nearly two weeks. Laziness was striek one. Strike two? The top loader was an antique. Yellowed. Scratched. Joey Bats was being disrespected. Even worse, he has to touch that nasty top loader in the nude - no penny sleeve. I just couldn't give the seller a positive, and once I liberated the card from its refrigerator box, I noticed the corner was dinged, too. 

They're not all bad, though. Like this one:


A pink 2013 Bowman Chrome Refractor out of /35. Looks more red in person, but isn't pink just perfect for smilin' Jose Reyes? This card is just so...happy.


 This one not so much. The red (pink?) ink seems to be from the end of a store-brand Sharpie. And the background is dark an mysterious. Also: blurry as hell for some reason.

Okay. Now time to get patchy. Night Owl, feel free to hit the close button...



...now. While 2013 Pro Debut totally mailed in the manupatches in 2013, Heritage crushed them. The checklist is deep, the patches are new and awesome. The Joe Berry you see above is from the Cedar Rapids Kernals, because who doesn't love a corn husk growing a baseball bat with a cap on it?


Or a wave overtaking a baseball? MiLB logos are something I love. Maybe it was the mystery of all the small city teams rolling through Syracuse in my childhood.

"Hey Ma, where's Charlotte?"

For that matter, where are the West Michigan WhiteCaps based? Answer: Comstock Park! Which is north of Grand Rapids, Michigan. And their mascot is what looks like...a badger? Now you know.


From badgers to...Legends. I guess. Or a green Kentucky completing an "L" for Lexington. Adalberto, err, Raul Mondesi, Jr. is an extremely fast-rising prospect in the Royals org. Son of Raul "obnoxious bat speed" Mondesi, Adalberto was signed out of a Dominican camp, although he was born in America (MLB fast track!). He's only 17 years odl now, and he's already made it through a complete season of A Ball with Lexington. I've heard his glove could play in The Bigs right now.


Hak-Ju Lee still needs some marinating, though, as the Rays SS/2B prospect can't seem to play a full season without breaking or tearing something. Hopefully the return in the Matt Garza trade will finally work out in 2014.

But seriously, IT'S A BISCIOUT SNEAKING AROUND AN 'M."

What's not to love?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

9 Cards: Cleveland Indians

I've tried writing this introduction three times so far. That seems to be the way things are going with writing lately. Do it once. Try it again. Submit it. Get rejected. Something unrecognizable from the origin as the final product. 

But that's work, and this is not. SO if the introduction doesn't work, so be it. This blog is unfunded, so I don't have to impress anyone.

If you're like me, you're likely perusing blogs and watching the greatest thing in the World, October Baseball tonight.  In honor of the Pittsburgh Pirates Renaissance and the revival of fall baseball in Cleveland, please enjoy my nine favourite (current) Cleveland Indians cards.

This was an easy post to dream up. Somewhat unconsciously, I've been adding Tribe cards to my collection more and more through the years.

This one, however, was way before my years:

1976, the year of this glorious, malfunctioning nation's Bicentennial, featured hot pink baseball cards, because, well, AMERICA.

I long for the days of Alan Ashby commentating Blue Jays games. In fact, in the three games in Houston this season, I would tune in to their telecast, the new home of the proper baseball analyst.


Twenty-four years later I was well into collecting cards - and Skybox was totally my bag at the time (remember going into the shops and having OPTIONS?!). By 2000, Manny wasn't quite "Manny" yet, but he was surely a star, the Indians were a good team for the first time in my lifetime, and 2000 Skybox created my favourite insert set of all time: Skylines. These are majestic in-hand. Go  grab some off of COMC. They're cheap now.


Also in 2000, Skybox came out with Metal. It was like a diet Metal Universe from 1997, but still extremely gaudy. Within those extravagant foil packs, well, every 288th foil pack, was a Base Shredder. As was the style at the time, the cards do not scan well but have an extraordinary in-hand feel. I love them, and will defend them and my favorite player all-time not named Carlos Delgado to the death. This one took me 12 years to track down. I finally came up with it this summer.


Well this post is already making me nostalgic for the old brands. The insert was "Warnign Track" but the swatch is from the wall - and unlike cards nowadays guaranteeing that the swatch comes from a "relic located within the same state as player pictured during said player's lifetime", the back of this one reads: The enclosed piece of outfield wall was cut from Authentic Outfield Wall from Three Rivers Stadium used in an official Major League Baseball Game...This is a photo of the actual wall from which the swatch was taken." And of course, there is a photo. Oh, and: "2 stolen bases - 7/17/99." Thanks, Donruss.


This might not be my favorite Tribe cards, but as the old adage goes: "when you've got a sick patch, show it off." Hey, look who's batting right now!


...not this guy. In fact, I probably doubt we'll see young Francisco Lindor until about 2015. The mostly-glove shortstop was last seen with AA Akron Aeros. It's been said that the A > AA transition is the toughest. Hopefully Lindor, who's 2013 was acceptable for a defense first shortstop, will improve in 2014.


So while he's hanging out in the miserableness of Akron, Ohio (I assume) and eventually Columbus, I'll keep chipping away at his checklist. I have on last count, seven of these. It's cool to see the variations in the autograph over thousands of inkings. But man, 2012 Bowman Sterling was a miserable set to scan - these are beautiful in person.


 Purrrple! Santana! Token leg kick! This is the second of these purple ice refractors I've acquired from 2013 Bowman. This one is 10/10 and was had for only about $10 if I recall correctly. While the scan shows a dark purple, these generally tend to give more of a Triaminic cough-syrup hue.


And last but certainly not least, our fearless home starter for tonight's play-in game. It's a beaut. I'll be honest, when this came out of a pack a few months back, I wasn't incredibly familiar with Danny Salazar. A month later, he was leading me to plentiful strikeouts and a beautiful ERA going down the streatch. A month later, and the 22-year old is starting in this game.

And he looks damn good.

Enjoy the game, folks. Hell, enjoy all the playoffs!!!11 



(There's no Yankees, so you know it's going to be good.)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Getting Blasted: 2013 Bowman Platinum (1)

So...I bought some Bowman Platinum. Let's rip it.

Pack 1

The pack features a very fast guy likely flying out to a third baseman or swinging aimlessly at a bee flying around the diamond.

The highlight:


Gary Brown, SF Giants Prospect "Chrome" Refractor. 1:4. Refractors has a nice stock and their optical value crushes the overdone Platinum base cards, which would be fine without the holofoil.

The Filler:


Cano, Konerko, Brad Miller. Decent selection, boring photography.

Pack 2

The Highlight:

Completely unneccessary parallel #89644

The Filler:

Decent prospect, great defensive catching prospect and a helluva pitcher. Good pack. Not great.

Pack 3

The Highlight:
#Puigmania

The Filler:

Devan Marrero, a surprisingly cool Rob Brantley and a "gold" Alex Rodriguez. Yippee.

Pack 4

All Highlights:


Pack 4 was a good one. Here's Lil' Delino.

And 

My main man Jose Reyes.

A Prospecty Chubb.


And a green Mason Williams. Blech. These are /399 and fall 1:97, so of course it's a Yankee.

Pack 5

The "Highlight":

 
I had the same face when I pulled this one.

The Filler:



Wow, great base cards here. Jake Marisnick (lest we forget), Yo-'spedes, Joey Votto.

Pack 6

The Highlight:


Sapphire Will Middlebrooks. These look better in the scan. Glad I didn't grab the ones I saw on ebay until seeing one in-hand.

The Filler:


Bubba Starlin(g) Castro, Taylor Guerreri. Starting to see plenty of Bubbas.

Pack 7

The Highlight:


Would have appreciated a better player. So it goes.

The Filler:

Edwin! Allen Webster, Adam Wainwright. I don't hate the filler in this one.

Drum Roll:

Pack 8

The Highlight:


Another gold, but at least Chapman makes up for the Rodriguez.

The Filler:



Jerrrrrrrd Weaver, Nick Williams, Lucas Sims. Meh.