Tuesday, October 11, 2016

2016 Topps Heritage Minors pack breaks

I impulsively grabbed a couple of packs [$2.50 each] to bust in-between the loose cards and packs of penny sleeves I picked up at a card shop - I was hoping to pull a '67 Mint coin relic, though I'd be lucky to find a hit out of two random packs from an opened box of a low-end product.

Pack one
#73 Lucas Sims
#115 Raul Alcantara
#12 Jake Bauers
Make Your Pro Debut
#193 2015 Runs Leaders - feat. Reed, Fisher and Phillips.
#140 Jose Pujols
#199 2015 ERA Leaders - feat. Ramirez, Snell and Oca.
#94 Brent Honeywell

Pack two
#147 Mauricio Dubon
#59 Brett Phillips
#109 Demi Orimoloye
#119 Jeff Hoffman
#ROA-ARE Alex Reyes - Real One autograph; though it may not be Reyes' first or last Topps / Bowman certified auto card, it's on-card and Reyes is one of baseball's Top 10 prospects.
#37 David Hess
#167 Bradley Zimmer
#20 Domingo Acevedo

Monday, October 10, 2016

2015 Topps Stadium Club finds

While I’m not trying to complete the set, I'm hunting down particular cards I've liked otherwise - I made a wantlist last year to figure out which cards really stood out and went back to it, in order to fill out a recent order of cards I made from a Beckett Marketplace seller.

I categorized the cards on my wantlist into four classifications - perhaps the ones marked with an ‘A’ are priorities and play around with the other cards marked as ‘B’ and ‘C.’

A - images that really pop with some personality.
B - images that may not be not as epic but still stand out.
C - images that most will like, though might not be my particular favorites.
D - images that maybe more 'conventional baseball action,’ so not really a priority otherwise.

#10 Zack Britton - A

#12 Giancarlo Stanton - A

#63 Matt Adams - A

#160 Elvis Andrus - A

#183 Travis Ishikawa - A

#215 Adam Jones - A

#271 Russell Martin - A

#213 Kyle Seager - C; I presume he is gesturing to his teammates in the dugout like batters have tended to do in the past five or six years after getting base hits.

#214 Brandon Crawford - C; I don't know if this image does it for me, but it features a pretty good defender leaping over a base runner, to try and complete the double play.

#259 Greg Maddux - C; this card has gone to my unofficial, 'unawesome action' mini-collection because while Maddux is a Hall of Famer legend, he looks a little awkward out of uniform.

On the other hand, maybe I can grow to like this card since it's different with the candid image of Maddux out on the golf course - maybe this card would be much more appealing if Maddux didn't look like a geek.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

2016 Topps Heritage Minors leaders

I prefer individual player cards, though these two cards have some novelty - Jose Martinez [featured on card #195] is a journeyman who hit .384 with the Kansas City Royals AAA team in 2015.

I learned about Martinez while listening to a Baseball America podcast and found this story on their Web site - he was sold to the St. Louis Cardinals in May and while his batting average plummeted back to a more reasonable .278 for the year, he earned a cup of coffee in the big leagues, where he collected 7 hits in 16 at-bats.

Looking through my 'loose archive' of autographed cards, I actually have a Richard Bleier [featured on card #197] autograph card [or two] I must have gotten when he was a Texas Rangers minor leaguer - he spent parts of 9 seasons in the minor leagues as a pretty unremarkable arm [55-57 record, 1035 hits allowed with 507 strikeouts in 925.1 innings pitched].

However, the New York Yankees must have seen something in Bleier and gave him an opportunity to pitch some innings for the big league team - small sample size coming from a 29-year old journeyman noted, but Bleier only walked four hitters in 23 innings, while allowing five earned runs in 20 appearances.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Featured autograph - Mark Prior

With a 103 win season in the books, this maybe the year for the Chicago Cubs to smash up their World Series curse, like once upon a time when Prior was a phenom looking to pitch the Cubs into the World Series back in 2003 - of course, it wasn't meant to be and the Cubs are still down-and-out after 108 years.

Prior morphed into a disappointment when his big league pitching career was cut short after parts of five seasons - for the all success he had as a professional, I remember him most for being on the mound for the Steve Bartman incident.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

2016 Topps Heritage Hyun Soo Kim #721 image variation

I wanted a rookie card of the Korean import and ended up with a rookie-year variation - it's a random pick-up, but the story behind Kim's first season in Major League Baseball fascinated me.

After a banner season with the KBO Doosan Bears in 2015, Kim signed with the Baltimore Orioles - fans and experts who followed the Orioles, didn't know what to make of the KBO veteran, when he couldn't buy a hit in spring training.

Kim's struggles were kind of explained off because the KBO starts training for their season earlier in the year and Kim wasn't used to MLB spring training - however the Orioles were going to send Kim down to the minors and there was boos on Opening Day, when Kim stuck around instead going to AAA.

Kim's status was in limbo, but I read where Kim just kept working behind the scenes and Orioles manager Buck Showalter finally found ways to ease the 28-year old into games - Kim started collecting hits and while he wasn't playing against lefties, he emerged as an inspiring role player for a Baltimore Orioles team desperate to get into the Wild Card game.

Kim's first year MLB numbers are fairly modest [.304/.382/.422] - but an increased role next year may boost Kim's batting numbers.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

2016 Topps Heritage Minors recaps

I picked up a couple of pre-sell boxes from Blowout Cards and got them the same day the product officially hit the streets - from two boxes, it looks like I was able to complete a 200-card base set, which was a relief since I didn't want to worry about looking for any missing set cards.

I listed the contents of my breaks in a Google Sheets file to see how many cards towards the base set were in each box - the count was 124/200 in the first box and 125/200 in the second box with no apparent dupes.

The following cards listed are the various inserts / parallels and short prints I pulled from the boxes.

#1 Brendan Rodgers / Asheville Tourists - Sticker

#11 Andrew Benintendi / Portland Sea Dogs - Sticker
#16 Amir Garrett / Pensacola Blue Wahoos - Sticker
#17 Billy McKinney / Tennessee Smokies - Sticker
#22 Andrew Stevenson / Potomac Nationals - Sticker
#28 Hunter Harvey / Frederick Keys - Sticker
#32 Taylor Ward / Inland Empire 66ers - Sticker
#35 Ted E. Tourist / Asheville Tourists - Sticker
#38 Phinley / Clearwater Threshers - Sticker
#45 Reedy Rip’It / Greenville Drive - Sticker
#50 Rally Shark / Myrtle Beach Pelicans - Sticker
#6 Kyle Zimmer / NW Arkansas Naturals - Sticker
#CCR-RN Renato Nunez - Clubhouse Collection relic
#CCR-RT Raimel Tapia - Clubhouse Collection relic
#MM-10 Mike Hessman - Minor Miracles insert
#MM-12 Lucas Giolito - Minor Miracles insert
#MM-15 Ariel Jurado - Minor Miracles insert
#MM-3 Derek Fisher - Minor Miracles insert
#MM-5 A.J. Reed - Minor Miracles insert
#MM-8 Louisville Bats - Minor Miracles insert
#ROA-AE Anderson Espinoza - Real One autograph

#ROA-DJ Drew Jackson - Real One autograph
#147 Mauricio Dubon - blue border serial #’d 35/99
#15 Renato Nunez - blue border serial #’d 83/99

#150 Sean Newcomb - peach border serial #’d 14/25
#179 Victor Robles - blue border serial #’d 89/99
#86 Ryan Williams - blue border serial #’d 94/99
#201 Christin Stewart - short print
#202 Brendan Rodgers - short print
#205 Drew Jackson - short print
#207 Rafael Devers - short print
#211 Alex Reyes - short print

#215 Yoan Moncada - short print

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Jose Fernandez - when it's it, it's it

I only knew of him as a star pitcher who had a God given right arm, so my big takeaway from Fernandez' death last Sunday is that you have to enjoy the run - because even for guys we put on a pedestal, watch on TV and have on fantasy teams, life can be fragile and unforgiving.

Fernandez was a 24-year old who had already endured and survived to be one of the world's best baseball players - he wasn't a guy who would have taken anything for granted, though it was still a somber moment for me to see the headline that he'd passed.

Besides the legacy he leaves as a big league player maybe his personality, his bravado and love for the game is what is going to be missed - if you didn't know much about the guy, I think those qualities is what will stand the test of time, combing through the highlights and the accounts of Fernandez's relatively short life.