Thursday, March 27, 2014

2014 Topps Opening Day pack recaps

Pack one
#1 Mike Trout
#61 Yonder Alonso
#BO-9 Joe Mauer - Breaking Out insert

#25 Torii Hunter - Opening Day Edition parallel serial #'d 0781/2014
#28 Kyle Seager
#57 Andrelton Simmons
#201 Tony Cingrani

Pack two
#63 Starling Marte
#98 Jose Altuve
#34 Jeremy Hellickson

#UP-2 Yasiel Puig - Fired Up insert
#160 Nate Schierholtz
#19 Koji Uehara
#106 Matt Moore

Pack three
#158 Nolan Arenado
#175 Trevor Plouffe
#89 Julio Teheran

#ODS-1 Mike Trout - Opening Day Stars insert; with the start of an exhibition Freeway Series between the Angels and Dodgers Thursday, let's just say pulling a couple of Trout cards were the closest I got to him on the day.
#16 Carlos Gonzalez
#114 Adam Dunn
#165 Jose Iglesias

2013-14 Upper Deck Jonathan Toews #117

I'm not into hockey or collecting hockey cards but I like how this cards captures this player clenching some kind of cup in celebration - after stumbling upon it in a random stack of hockey cards, I looked at it for a moment, but then put it away.

I had to go back and find the card so I can add it to the stack of cards I planned on purchasing - it's about as good as a card as anything else I'd find out of the quarter boxes and while it's just not happening for a number reasons, maybe it makes me think about the idea of collecting hockey cards.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Random thoughts - the Kate Uptons...err Justin and B.J. Upton

I thought Justin would be a superstar years ago, but he has never quite played at that level consistently and it seems like he's always had 'up and down' numbers - I have several assorted certified autograph cards of the Justin that I should put together as a 'mini-collection,' with other more common inserts I've pulled.

The luster as a potential superstar faded off B.J. a long time ago, but he was a key free agent signing coming into the 2013 season - B.J. can't be as bad as he was last year, though he is what he is while there is still hope Justin bumps up his game as he enters his late 20's.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The rumors of his demise may have been exaggerated

I've watched snippets of Angels spring training games and maybe seen random highlights, but it looks like Albert Pujols is primed for a bounce back campaign - it's a work in progress to probably get him back on track and maybe the expectations have been scaled down in recent years, but I hope it's going to be a fun season watching him enjoy playing baseball again.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

2014 Topps Series I blaster recap

I was going to pick up a 2014 Topps Opening Day blaster since I've seen a few random breaks and it looks like cheap fun with assorted inserts to be pulled - along with possible autographs and even image variations.

However, the guaranteed lure of a commemorative patch card along with two Target Red parallels per pack steered me towards my first 2014 Topps blaster instead - even though at first I'd actually bought a blaster without the Target red parallels inserted and returned the 'dud' blaster to look for a blaster marked as having the parallels.

It seems like the idea of continuing to pick up 2014 Topps unopened packs / blasters is something I'm still interested in even though I have all the base cards from 2014 Topps Series I - maybe because there might be inserts [or specifically parallels] to still pull that are a little different than just the base cards.

With the right 2014 Topps blaster in-hand and at home, I'm going through a 'detailed' break where I list the contents from the 8-card packs - as I flip through the cards, what I start noticing is most of the cards in middle of the packs all have at least one mashed corner; maybe the cards are packed too tight and 'can't breathe.'

Is pulling a 'bunch' of cards with at least one corner mashed considered merely a bad run [?] - it looks like I have to return most of the Target red borders and other inserts and maybe a few base since they don't look to great.

The best card to come out of the blaster was from the commemorative patch pack - I pulled a 2012 Topps rookie reprint of Yu Darvish [#RCP-16] and the card is nice, even though it looks like the prices for these types of cards have bottomed out on ebay.

I stayed away from 2014 Topps Series I blasters because I thought these reprint cards were redundant, considering these are similar to last year's rookie card patches - unlike last year's version, only the image is reprinted in a 'silk' cloth material, while the actual card design is integrated as part of the border that 'holds' the image.

Maybe I'll look for more of the rookie card reprints since they are not as bulky as last year's rookie card patches and it's not as cumbersome to have in-hand I guess - I still think I should have gone with the 2014 Topps Opening Day blaster.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A scrub for scrub trade

The Angels picked up Jose Alvarez, a little soft tossing lefty from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for shortstop / utility man Andrew Romine - who never really had a chance to play every day in the big leagues, but might get a prolonged look to fill in at shortstop after the Tigers lost Jose Iglesias for the season.

I know little of Alvarez except for having a lone 2010 Topps Pro Debut card - sometimes I wonder if some of these random minor league guys [either pictured on Bowman prospect cards or Topps Pro Debut] will ever reach the major leagues, but the 24-year old Alvarez did so last year [though the results weren't all that pretty].

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Trevor Gretzky

The Angels picked up The Great One's son in exchange for manager Mike Scioscia's son Matt - Gretzky's best attributes maybe his relative youth and his bloodlines.

The 21-year old outfielder only had 7 extra base hits in 250 at-bats over parts of two seasons in the Chicago Cubs' system - so in order to be more than a curiosity, he probably needs to bulk up and learn to drive the ball.

Spent time at a card shop - found these

2014 Donruss Miguel Cabrera #9 - Diamond Kings subset / SP
2014 Donruss Chris Carter #26 - Diamond Kings subset / SP
2014 Donruss Kolten Wong #35
2014 Donruss James Paxton #39
2014 Donruss Yan Gomes #142
2014 Donruss Shelby Miller #16 - Breakout Pitchers insert
2014 Donruss Starling Marte #19 - Breakout Hitters insert
1972 Topps Ed Sprague #121 - I picked this up for my bloodlines collection, though I supposed I'll try and send it out TTM before putting it in its permanent home.
1972 Topps Mike Kekich #138 - he and a teammate swapped wives and families; goes into my infamous collection.
1980 Topps Randy Niemann #469 - x2 / was a Boston Red Sox coach a couple of years ago when Bobby Valentine was the manager but is now working in the St. Louis Cardinals' farm system; if I have no way of getting these cards signed, these go into my facial hair collection.
2013 Topps 75th Anniversary Funny Valentines - Diamond Anniversary parallel serial #'d 32/75

Etc - a dollar each
2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Braden Shipley #BDPP 12 - Refractor parallel
2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Austin Wilson #BDPP 105 - Refractor parallel

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Featured autograph - John Cangelosi

I was able to sniff him out recently and he signed my three cards - for the type of player he was [a tiny, speedy, switch hitting fourth outfielder type with no pop], he actually had a pretty good professional baseball career and was part of the 1997 World Series champion Florida Marlins.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Anyone need any Justin Christian or Collin Balester cards?

I was wondering why the bubble mailer I received in the mail was feeling a little bulky - turns out these cards were used as fillers [I assume to meet some sort of weight requirement] so a card I picked up on eBay could be sent to me.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

2014 Topps Heritage hobby pack recaps

I picked up eight random packs [five of the eight shown above] for $3.25 each at my LCS - not the most inspiring breaks, though I did pull a Mike Trout insert I can squirrel away.

Pack one
#141 Torii Hunter
#76 Chris Capuano
#160 Andrew McCutchen
#292 Jim Henderson

#312 Munenori Kawasaki
#49 Xander Bogaerts / Jonathan Schoop - 2014 Rookie Stars
#142 Michael Saunders
#35 Ryan Vogelsong
#396 Everth Cabrera

Pack two
#410 J.J. Hardy
#10 Adam Wainwright / Jordan Zimmermann / Clayton Kershaw - 2013 NL Pitching Leaders
#178 Jose Quintana

#427 Jurickson Profar - SP

#NF-MA Muhammad Ali - News Flashbacks insert
#80 Brett Oberholtzer
#294 David Robertson
#137 Anthony Gose
#246 Jeremy Guthrie

Pack three
#96 Andres Torres
#402 Jayson Werth
#311 Brandon Morrow
#296 Randall Delgado
#393 Lorenzo Cain

#441 David Ortiz - SP
#120 Shin-Soo Choo
#202 Wade Miley
#206 John Lackey

Pack four
#303 Prince Fielder
#364 Darwin Barney
#15 Asdrubal Cabrera
#198 Eric Hosmer
#18 Felix Doubront

#BF-AK Al Kaline - Baseball Flashbacks insert
#424 Zach Wheeler
#70 Paul Konerko
#264 Fernando Rodney

Pack five
#139 Melky Cabrera
#149 Buster Posey
#98 Mark Buehrle
#391 Bob Melvin

#92 C.J. Wilson
#337 Jimmy Rollins
#236 Jorge De La Rosa
#308 Travis D' Arnaud / Wilmer Flores - 2014 Rookie Stars 
#359 Huston Street

Pack six
#191 Tommy Milone
#85 Alex Rios
#78 Adam Jones
#54 Andrew Cashner

#456 Brandon Phillips - SP
#31 Salvador Perez
#14 Brian Roberts
#268 Christian Yelich
#320 Shelby Miller

Pack seven
#328 Jeremy Hellickson
#387 Jedd Gyrko
#2 Michael Cuddyer / Chris Johson / Freddie Freeman - 2013 NL Batting Leaders
#50 Matt Cain

#NAP-MT Mike Trout - New Age Performers
#48 Marlon Byrd

#135 World Series - Gomes Knots It Up
#421 Kevin Pillar / Ryan Goins - 2014 Rookie Stars
#238 Josh Beckett

Pack eight
#397 Peter Bourjos
#29 Derek Norris

#137 World Series - Champs For Third Time in Decade
#322 Brandon Crawford
#339 Zack Cozart
#161 Brett Gardner
#39 Chris Carter
#357 Lonnie Chisenhall
#124 Aramis Ramirez

Saturday, March 15, 2014

2014 Donruss box topper - Stephen Strasburg #18

I saw an unopened 5x7 one-card pack and picked it up for $2 to see if I could end up with something to get signed in-person or to see if I'd pulled a certified Signatures version - I ended up with an unsigned Strasburg, which probably ends up somewhere in my oddball 'to be signed' pile, where one day I hope to pull it out if I ever run into Strasburg again [not that I haven't gotten his sig before, but I haven't seen him in-person since 2009].

Friday, March 14, 2014

Collin Cowgill

Is there space for Cowgill on the Angels' roster come Opening Day [?] - I think the narrative of the 'scrappy, hustling' ballplayer is overplayed, but besides the superstar talents, fans like to see those other 'rank and file' guys that typically make up the back end of a roster.

Cowgill fits the mold as a seemingly classic overachiever and a wiry little guy who has the ability to showcase some surprising pop - if he doesn't make the Angels out of spring training, the 27-year old maybe stashed in AAA or move onto a MLB team that isn't looking to contend for anything this season and become a semi-regular.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

2014 Topps Heritage preview

I'll pick up some hobby packs, maybe pony up for a blaster box to see what the cards look like - though I'm over the novelty of new Topps Heritage cards mimicking old-school Topps cards, even if I find the concept quaint at times.

More more importantly, I'm not a set builder and even if I was, what is the point to building the base non-SP'd set from scratch [?] - hand collated sets can be picked up on ebay for the price of about two blaster boxes.

As far as Topps Heritage is concerned, I'll wait until later in the year to get a hobby box and a hand collated set of the the minor league version - it maybe a personal preference, but the minor league version naturally gives me more cards [of minor leaguers / prospects] I can potentially get autographed in-person or maybe through the mail.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Autograph request through the mail received: Jacob Turner

Turner signed my cards in black ink in about three weeks c/o Miami Marlins [spring training] - including this 2011 Topps Heritage Minors for my set.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Featured autograph - Barry Bonds

Looks like Bonds is back in San Francisco Giants camp as a guest instructor and I dug this autograph card from an 'old' box of assorted autograph cards to show off - besides the card featured, I was able to get one other card signed in-person by Bonds and I'm pretty sure it was after the game where the Angels' Rally Monkey made its Major League debut back in 2000.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Random thoughts - Albert Pujols

My only rookie card of Pujols was his 2001 Fleer Tradition, which came in a 'rookie subset' available only factory sets - I can't believe it's been nearly 14 years since he was a rookie phenom, but time marches on.

He was on the firing line when he had the gall to put up his resume in his first two MLB seasons against what Mike Trout has done in his first two MLB seasons - as an Angels fan, I hope Pujols is motivated to bounce back, because it would be devastating if it was all downhill in his apparent decline phase.

When Pujols signed with the team, I thought he would be the marquee player for the Angels for years to come and that would be that - but the prospects of him replicating his astounding success early in his career was never going to come to fruition.

Pujols is an all-time great who has a lot of pride in what he has accomplished, but you don't diss the great hope realized especially when you've turned out be an injured, broken down machine - while Pujols may have been El Hombre at one point, Trout has become The Man for the Angels as well as Major League Baseball.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Featured autographs - Kurt Stillwell

I threw away an unsigned 1989 Fleer because it had some paper loss on the card before having Stillwell sign these cards - he sighed when he saw them, but he was accommodating otherwise.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Joe Martinez

He's a journeyman ballplayer, though it doesn't look like he is doing too bad for himself on the personal end - I got him to sign a few times when he played in the Arizona Fall League back in 2009 and may have seen him hanging out at an AFL game in 2012, so I brought his two cards I had to the AFL last year just to see if I could scope him out.

I didn't see him, but just as I'm only putting away the two cards [just yesterday], sorting a little bit for the upcoming baseball season - I read that he's been signed by the Angels, according this transactions list posted on Baseball America.

Martinez could be this year's Billy Buckner [who did get a few appearances with the Angels last year] or he may strictly AAA fodder [who might not be in the organization for long] - however his signing gives me some hope I could get my 2009 Topps Allen and Ginter set card signed in-person.

Random thoughts - Ryan Zimmerman

Ideally I wanted to collect his cards 'on the side,' expecting him to be a rising star at one point - though he isn't even 30 yet, it seems like he's been playing for 10 years and there isn't as much hype associated with his career.

On the surface, he seemed to be a good guy to collect even though he plays for an East Coast team I wouldn't see much - he's always put up decent numbers and had the ability to come through in clutch situations for the Nationals in his career.

I guess Zimmerman is still a viable major leaguer - living the life, playing for a potential World Series contender while being paid nearly like a franchise player he once was thought to be.

It seems peculiar that I don't seem to hear much about him through the national media - he seems like just another good player who maybe trending downwards at he enters his 30's.

Has had the yips throwing the ball and maybe more of a passable first baseman in the near future - rather than a star third baseman for the rest of his MLB career.

A comparable player to Zimmerman maybe David Wright, but while Wright has sort of gone through his up and downs - I think he sorts of still has the allure of a star.

Am I'm wrong about Zimmerman being merely 'meh' over the last several years - does it matter that perhaps he isn't the first guy fans talks about when mentioning the Washington Nationals?

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Autograph requests sent - up in smoke

I stopped at the post office Saturday [after hours] to mail out five ‘long shot’ mail requests and one request to Clint Frazier - I find out Tuesday that 100,000 letters had been burned when a USPS mail truck caught on fire on the 57 freeway in Brea, California.

I’m thinking there is a chance the seven letters put in was included among the 100,000 - though considering the following players I sent to, I might not have been realistically counting on getting any responses back.

Javier Baez
Xander Bogaerts
Byron Buxton
Robinson Cano
Carlos Correa
Masahiro Tanaka

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Card shop finds topped off by a pair of beauts

When I'm at a card shop or card show, I become a scavenger of loose cardboard - though I might not end up with cards I really need, I can't pass up the opportunity [as few as they seem to be at times] to fish out overlooked cards in quarter boxes that maybe notable as far as a common insert or maybe a parallel.

2011 Donruss Americana Josie Davis #13 - there is a pair of reasons why I this card up, but growing up through the late 1980's, I only remember her as the nerd of the two sisters in the 1980's TV sitcom Charles in Charge.
2011 Donruss Americana Pamela Anderson #1 - wow wow wee waa, a random card of the 'it' girl of the last 20 years.
2011 Topps Allen and Ginter Kevin Kouzmanoff #336 - sp
2013 Topps Update Series Jose Dominguez #US 109 - x2
2014 Topps Jhoulys Chacin #69 - Gold parallel serial #'d 0222/2014
2014 Topps Anthony Rizzo #71 - Gold parallel serial #'d 0752/2014
2014 Topps Anibal Sanchez / Bartolo Colon / Hisashi Iwakuma #117 - Gold parallel serial #'d 0054/2014
2014 Topps Junichi Tazawa #131 - Gold parallel serial #'d 1314/2014
2014 Topps Jonathan Herrera #152 - Gold parallel serial #'d 1663/2014
2014 Topps Nolan Arenado #275 - Gold parallel serial #'d 0986/2014
2014 Topps Reymond Fuentes #32 - Red Hot Foil parallel
2014 Topps Aroldis Chapman #77 - Red Hot Foil parallel
2014 Topps Adrian Beltre #161 - Red Hot Foil parallel
2014 Topps Jose Altuve #210 - Red Hot Foil parallel
2014 Topps Andrew Cashner #227 - Red Hot Foil parallel
2014 Topps Justin Upton #229 - Red Hot Foil parallel
2014 Topps Don Mattingly #50YD-4 - 50 Years of the Draft insert
2014 Topps Wil Myers #FN-17 - The Future Is Now insert
2014 Topps Neftali Feliz #310 - Black parallel serial #'d 53/63

I'm so hard up for the MLB/MiLB seasons to begin

I was flipping between the latter innings of an Angels spring training game on Fox Sports West and a Milwaukee Brewers / Chicago Cubs ST game [not sure if it was live] on the MLB Network - Cubs shortstop prospect Javier Baez's power potential has been hyped up over the last year and he already broke a window of a car with a home run this spring.

I'm thinking I'd get to watch one of Baez's spring training at-bats, but during the time I'd momentarily gone back-and-forth - the guy had already hit a home run, so there goes my fleeting interest in the game.

I remember when I was trying to get him to sign stuff, trying to get a picture with him at Maryvale five or six years ago - but now I don't really like seeing Ryan Braun interacting with teammates, coaches, opposing players or umpires on the baseball field like it was not a big deal what he put himself and fans through the past two or three years. The cover up is worse than the crime as far as I'm concerned.

As far as the Angels game was concerned, I can't believe catcher John Hester is still lurking around as a Halo this spring - however, I see he went to school at Stanford and since catchers are supposed to be smartest guys on the field anyway, he's probably a guy looking to be a coach or manager soon enough, besides hanging onto some sort of Major League dream as a player.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Autograph request through the mail received: Wade Boggs

I sent some cards and a donation to Boggs a few weeks ago and got my cards back in the mail today - I had anticipating on getting this request back quickly, though my SASE would have probably been soaked if it arrived during the So. Cal storms over the weekend.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

2014 Donruss pack breaks x4

I like baseball cards in general and I happen to live in a loop where I have to seek out new baseball card products - I picked up four packs [$3.50 each from the card shop] to see what they would look like.

Even though these cards aren't licensed by Major League Baseball - these cards probably fill the void as a 'midlevel' alternative to 2014 Topps, though interest may lag with 2014 Topps Heritage coming out this upcoming week.

Pack one
#178 A.J. Pierzynski
#135 R.A. Dickey
#159 Pablo Sandoval
Thick dummy card
#40 Tim Beckham

#154 Derek Jeter

#112 Mike Trout
#78 Max Scherzer
#53 Jacoby Ellsbury

Pack two
#128 Miguel Cabrera
#185 Todd Helton
#143 Bryce Harper
Thicky dummy card

#11 Adrian Beltre - Hall Worthy insert
#127 Paul Goldschmidt
#151 Marlon Byrd
#47 Alex Gordon
#73 Paul Konerko

Pack three
#173 Trevor Bauer
#130 J.J. Hardy

#7 Carlos Beltran - Power Plus insert; these cards are surprisingly sharp with the borders taken from 1985 Donruss Action All-Stars, maybe a hint of 1989 Donruss with the city / player names and a modern, glossy surface.
#34 Gio Gonzalez - Breakout Pitchers insert
#133 Hyun-Jin Ryu
#190 Nolan Ryan
#95 Albert Pujols
#60 Joe Mauer

Pack four
#114 Matt Moore
#171 C.J. Wilson

#2 Rickey Henderson - Power Plus insert
#16 Paul O'Neill - The Elite Series insert; serial #'d 761/999; if nothing else, these cards my favorite from this re-imagined Donruss product, since I never had the opportunity to come close to having any of the original Elite Series inserts from the early 1990's in-hand.
#113 Everth Cabrera
#170 Yasiel Puig
#54 Ryan Zimmerman
#63 Adam Dunn

The re-imagined retro look of the cards is passable, while still feeling glossy and modern - though the images seem constricted with too much cropping, they sort of pop with the borders giving the illusion that the images are matted within the cards.

The backs are supposed to mimic the 1988 Donruss set - a non-glossy finish of sorts help the 'retro' feel of the cards backs, though it's not quite the original, dingy card stock use on the junk wax era Donruss cards; not as much stat lines / information are crammed on the back of these 2014 cards compared to their original counterparts.