Saturday, December 29, 2018

Featured autograph - Jonathan Lucroy

The Angels just signed Lucroy to be the catcher who presumably gets most of the playing time next season - he had some nice years in his prime, though his production with the bat has bottomed out the past few years.

The signing is only for one year and if Lucroy can bounce back just a bit, he probably helps the Angels - though many catchers tend to run into a wall, once they are on the wrong side of 30.

I guess he was a decent signer between his time in the Arizona Fall League and maybe in spring training his first couple of years in the big leagues - I found some signed cards of his, so I can add him to my all-time autograph collection once he plays in a regular season game for the Angels.

FWIW, I remember Lucroy was going from field to field during a spring training Texas Rangers workout I went to in 2017 - presumably he was done for the day, but still wouldn't stop for just about anyone.

Monday, December 10, 2018

When more borderline HOF guys get their call

As a baseball fan, I'd probably be more of a big hall kind of guy - but I thought it was a joke when I found out through scrolling through a social media post that apparently Smith and Baines were elected to the Hall of Fame through the 2019 Today's Game Era Ballot.

Baines' election to the Hall of Fame will probably cause just about every numbers oriented analysts' heads to explode - I won't begrudge or bemoan his induction to the Hall since there are too many writers messing around with someone's actual accomplishments in the guise of being objective.

Personally, I consider Baines in the middle of the pack as far as a Hall of Very Good guy, but in a roundabout way - Baines probably got some extra consideration for the 134 hits he didn't get towards that 3,000th hit club he missed out on.

The last card I touched featuring Baines was his 1991 Upper Deck [#562] - it went in my awesome action collection as a game face card; I like the image of him on the on-deck circle, about to swing while doing his high leg kick.

As far as Smith, though he once held the all-time saves record, I've always thought of him as mostly a junk wax era journeyman reliever - however, with Trevor Hoffman getting into the Hall of Fame recently and with Mariano Rivera on the way, someone had to fit Smith in-between the two in order to have a little run of modern era closers.

Maybe an obvious non-Rivera candidate in the next several years will likely be Billy Wagner - depending on who is on the ballot.

My favorite Smith card was his 1996 Upper Deck card [#266] because while it obviously shows him with the Angels - it was also a seemingly more elaborate image setup compared to a typical baseball card picture.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Favorite card of 2018 - Topps Heritage Shohei Ohtani Action Image variation #17

This is in response to Tom's contest over at Waiting 'til Next Year.

Go figure that it would be another Ohtani as my favorite card of the year but the relatively healthy half of him lived up to the hype and I wanted to showcase my best rookie year card of his - the traditionalists who have collected Topps Heritage for years may not like these short print gimmicks because it gets in the way of completing their sets.

However, the Action Image variation cards picturing prominent rookie or second year stars have gotten popular to collect - even if it wasn't autographed, in my mind an Ohtani was a definitive card to have.

Monday, December 03, 2018

A farewell to Garrett Richards

As he has moved on and signed a two-year deal with the San Diego Padres, I don't know if I had any particular attachment to Richards as a pitcher on my local big league team - he'd pitched about 138 combined innings his last three seasons with the Angels, so arm injuries really robbed him of some prime years.

Richards was Mike Trout's best friend on the Angels and it might have been nice if he could have stayed healthier - now he looks to rehab and make a comeback from Tommy John Surgery sooner than never, even if it takes a couple of years to be back on the mound.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

1990 Upper Deck Randy McCament #657

Through another blogger's post, I stumbled upon a "Ugly Sweater" Ugly Baseball Card Contest at Baseball Every Night - without thinking about it too much, I was sure I could find at least one card in particular that stood out and this was the one I chose.

When I started getting interested in collecting as a kid just about 30 years ago, the last players I'd ever think about being interested in are rank and file guys like McCament - but not every card in an 800 count set could picture superstars like Roger Clemens, Ken Griffey Jr., Will Clark, Don Mattingly, Bo Jackson or Jose Canseco.

It maybe no small feat that McCament actually pitched in parts of two big league seasons - but with the images used on this junk wax era 'gem,' it would be hard to convince anyone that McCament was any sort of professional athlete.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

2018 Topps Now Shohei Ohtani Topps MLB Rookie All-Star team #RC-7 and #RC-7J

I went ahead to see if I could pick up the Topps Now Shohei Ohtani cards I'd missed out on [these two cards and his Topps Now Rookie All-Star team card] - between the end of the season up through when he was honored as the American League Rookie of the Year a couple of weeks ago.

I’m still looking to build on my Ohtani Topps Now run through his rookie year but have held off picking up any one particular pack pulled card - the pitcher is out until 2020 and whenever Ohtani comes back in 2019, he'll be literally half a player at DH.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

1997 Bowman’s Best Adrian Beltre RC #117

I wanted a Beltre rookie card and grabbed this as an impulsive purchase to squirrel away - the 1997 Bowman Chrome RC #182 is the one to have, but maybe I’ll wait a little bit before seeking that one out.

This maybe a condition sensitive card as chrome cards from the 1990s tend to ‘hulk’ when exposed to the weather conditions - the copy of the card I picked up doesn’t appear to be discolored, though I have to account for when it happens.

Admittedly for the longest time, up through when the retiring Beltre was gunning for his 3,000th hit - I didn’t think much of him as having the numbers to merit any sort of serious consideration for the Hall of Fame.

I’ve always thought he was a minor star at best who lucked into a flukish season in 2004 - after collecting his 3,000 hits in 2017 and passing Rod Carew in 2018 as the all-time Latin American hits leader, Beltre's baseball playing accomplishments have the substance as he looks to become a first ballot Hall of Famer in five years.

Accounting for his all-world defense, the hitting numbers and the quirkiness he’s occasionally exhibited, Beltre has become a fan favorite to be goofed on in good fun - he didn't he like his head touched by his teammates and he had one of the most exaggerated follow throughs on his swing.

He and Texas Rangers teammate Elvis Andrus never get tired of messing around with each other - Andrus seems to be Beltre’s best friend on the field, but also his main antangonist.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Featured autograph - Odrisamer Despaigne

Despaigne wasn't ever going to be a star, but the Cuban righthander had a promising rookie season in 2014 with the San Diego Padres - after leaving the Padres, Despaigne has hung onto professional baseball as a journeyman and had an ugly 8-game stint with the Angels this past year.

In 18 2/3 innings pitched, Despaigne allowed 17 earned runs, walked 11 hitters and was battered around for 30 hits - he elected to be a free agent and will probably be pitching in Mexico, Japan or Korea sooner than never.

Whatever he does with the rest of his pro career, he'll always be an Angel to me and was nice enough to sign back in the day - at the very least, the autograph of his I already had on some sort of Padres game day scorecard, can be listed as part of my all-time Angels autograph collection.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

1995 Topps Traded Carlos Beltran RC #18T

This rookie card was on my ‘holes to fill’ list and I randomly decided to finally pick a copy up for my PC - even though Beltran’s rookie card is messed up because it isn't his picture on the card.

The card pictures Juan LeBron, who was the Kansas City Royals' first round pick [19th overall] in 1995, but failed to reach the major leagues - Beltran, who was the Royals’ second round pick [49th overall] from the same draft class is pictured on LeBron’s card, though the card listed with Beltran’s name / bio should still be the one that commands any interest [regardless of the goof].

After a player retires like Beltran did in 2017, there maybe an extended period of time where you are just out of sight, out of mind - though as a borderline Hall of Fame player, Beltran may gain support for his eventual induction in Cooperstown.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Featured autograph - Steve Pearce

When Pearce was named the 2018 World Series MVP, I had to dig this card from somewhere and was glad to find it relatively quickly among a brick of cards I'd organized for players involved in transactions in a particular year - I may remember watching an at-bat of his once in-person when he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates [in 2008 perhaps].

I thought he had a nice batting stance and perhaps the look of a guy who can put up some decent numbers - though didn't seem like a top prospect and hadn't really established himself at all in the major leagues.

He has bounced around in his big league career and I guess the best thing I could say before this postseason - was he was a role player who had some pop in his bat and performed well at times in a platoon situation.

I got this card from an autograph forum that once had these listings where you could use points you collected from commenting or otherwise helping someone out - the autograph [I assume it was from TTM request] isn't too bold and maybe exposure to the natural elements made it fade a bit faster.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Awesome action collection subsets

Probably influenced by other uber specific theme collectors, I want to see if I can classify certain cards within a main collecting topic subset - in the Google Sheets file where I list my ‘AA’ collection, I added a new ‘classification’ column, where I’ll tag each card listed with one of the following ‘labels.’

Actual on field game action
Dirt fetish
Fun cards and personality shots
Game face and unique perspectives
Other sports

At times, I don't want to spend time playing with my cards so maybe it is a bit tedious to go through my cards one-by-one to see which subset they belong - does this new classification 'deal' complicate things or help 'stretch things out' as far as my interests in any one particular mini-collection, forcing me to do what I might not feel like doing.

I have to worry about some overlap, but I feel like I can still play around to determine where my pulls or my finds go - I've started with my latest 'AA' adds and look to tag the cards featured on my sampler pages.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Bloodlines collection - a visual guide

The logistics in displaying sampler pages for my bloodlines collection was still up in the air - the main collection consists of miscellaneous cards of professional athletes [primarily baseball] who maybe have brothers, fathers, grandfathers, cousins, nephews play professionally as well.

There are some ‘completed’ bloodlines connections within this sampler lot - but I feel like I'm lagging when I don’t have a card of an applicable card of a family member handy.

A subject not represented among these sampler pages just means I have to go out and get the card - in my main collection, it isn’t a big deal to be missing a card that makes up part of a family chain, though for the more notable bloodlines, I need to get those missing cards in-hand.

I wanted to make it where in most cases the cards for applicable bloodlines ties were shown side-by-side [for the most part] and used up 7 pages to display the cards I had in-hand - I tried to grab cards from various pro athlete families, though these sampler pages are not comprehensive.

Acunas x2 - father Ronald Sr. and son Ronald Jr.
Alomars x2 - brothers Roberto and Sandy Alomar Jr.; missing a card for father Sandy Sr.
Bichettes x3 - father Dante and son Bo; missing a card for Dante Jr., who was once a prospect for the New York Yankees.
Bonds x2 - father Bobby and son Barry; missing a card for Bobby Jr., who was a career minor leaguer.
Canos x2 - father Jose and son Robinson [on the back of his father's card].

Alou / Rojas x2 - Moises Alou and Mel Rojas [on the back of his cousin Moises' card]; if I understand it correctly, Rojas is the paternal name, but Alou ended up the most commonly used surname for the distinguished baseball family; missing cards of Moises’ father Felipe along with uncles Jesus and Matty.
Boones x4 - grandfather Gus, father Bob, Bob’s sons Bret, Aaron and Matt [who didn't make it to the major leagues, but has a mainstream Bowman card from 2000].
Brantleys x2 - father Mickey and son Michael [on the back of his father's card]
Bretts x1 - George Brett; missing a card for brother Ken.
Cansecos x2 - brothers Jose and Ozzie [on the back of his brother's card].

Cruz x3 - father Jose Sr., son Jose Jr. and Jose Sr.’s brother Hector; missing a Tommy Cruz card.
DiMaggios x2 - brothers Dom and Joe, missing a card for their other brother Vince
Fielders x2 - father Cecil and son Prince
Gonzalez x2 - brothers Adrian and Edgar

Gooden / Sheffield x2 - uncle Dwight and nephew Gary
Gordons x3 - father Tom and half brothers Dee and Nick
Griffey x3 - father Ken Sr. and sons Ken Jr. and one-time minor leaguer Craig.
Hoffman x2 - brothers Trevor and Glenn [on the back of his brother's card].

Guerreros x4 - father Vladimir., son Vlad Jr,. Vladimir's brother Wilton, Vladimir's cousin Cristian [longtime minor leaguer] and Vlad Jr.'s cousin Gabby [who made his MLB debut in 2018].
Mahomes x2 - father Pat [MLB] and son Patrick [NFL]
Martinez x2 - father Carlos and son Jose

Martinez x1 - brothers Ramon and Pedro
McCaffreys x2 - father Ed and son Christian
Millers x2 - brothers Darrell [MLB] and Reggie [NBA], missing a card for sister Cheryl [basketball] and Darrell Jr. [Topps put him on a 2018 Topps Heritage Minors leaders subset card].
Molinas x3 - brothers Bengie, Jose and Yadier.
Rodriguez x1 - father Ivan and son Dereck [shown on dual sided insert card he shares with father].

Ripkens x4 - grandfather Cal Sr., sons Cal Jr. and Billy; Cal Jr’s son Ryan.
Uptons x2 - brothers B.J. and Justin
Smiths x2 [not pictured - 10/29 add] - father Dwight and son Dwight Jr.
Van Slykes x2 - father Andy and son Scott

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

2018 Topps Update hobby jumbo pack x2

I had to make a late afternoon run to get some Topps Updates at some card shop I stopped at - I’m looking for anything Juan Soto [note, didn't pull any] and took the plunge with two jumbo packs; I used to try to get a single jumbo pack of every Topps release, but I haven’t really done so in recent years.

Maybe I could get a retail blaster box somewhere, but while it is a little different - I’d rather get something ‘hobby’ as far as roughly getting the same number of cards [but maybe a better chance of pulling something of note].

No pics, they are plastered all over eBay listings anyway - this took roughly five minutes [cut and paste from a Google Docs file where I list my pack breaks].

Pack one
#US50 Andrew Cashner
#US192 Daniel Palka
#US3 Jordan Lyles
#US121 George Springer
#US95 Dustin Fowler
#US88 Daniel Mengden
#US75 J.A. Happ
#US37 Javier Baez
#US206 Neil Walker
#US278 Yan Gomes
#US149 Leonys Martin
#US240 Gerrit Cole
#US231 Jesse Biddle
#US295 Yonny Chirinos
#US238 Matt Harvey
#US70 Brad Hand
#US277 Ryan Tepera
#US82 Eric Lauer
#US27 Christian Yelich
#US140 Clay Buchholz
#US118 Evan Longoria
#US292 Brandon Drury
#US189 Shohei Ohtani - checklist
#US110 Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
#US25 Willy Adames
#US136 Starlin Castro
#S-41 Didi Gregorius - Game Changers insert
#IA-50 Gleyber Torres - An International Affair insert; maybe something up my alley
#DB-7 Ichiro - Don’t Blink insert
#83-41 Hyun-Jin Ryu - 1983 Topps Baseball
#AST-JH Josh Hader - All-Star Stitches; this is probably the equivalent of a manufactured relic pull from a blaster
#US103 Luis Guillorme / Gershon Bautista - Rookie Combos
#US151 Matt Kemp
#US65 Christian Yelich / Lorenzo Cain - Throw Your Hands in the Air
#US247 Marcus Walden
#US214 Ariel Jurado
#US18 Mike Soroka
#US81 Sean Doolittle
#US38 Jose Berrios
#US87 Joey Votto / Billy Hamilton - Thunder & Lightning; should have put Scooter Gennett and Votto together.
#US249 Wander Suero
#US216 Max Stassi
#US39 Freddy Peralta
#US228 Colin Moran
#US46 Carlos Gomez
#US225 Mike Fiers
#US125 Carlos Santana
#US178 Danny Farquhar

Pack two
#US270 Dereck Rodriguez
#US93 Daniel Winkler
#US130 Austin Meadows
#US284 Arodys Vizcaino
#US186 Lorenzo Cain
#US243 Marco Gonzalez
#US76 Salvador Perez
#US254 Tommy Kahnle
#US60 Yadier Molina
#US55 Mike Moustakas
#US150 Eric Hosmer / Cody Bellinger - Get Off My Base
#US58 Jordan Hicks
#US173 Tyler Wade
#US276 Hector Santiago
#US146 Blake Treinen
#US210 Kirby Yates
#US113 Jesus Aguilar
#US144 Lou Trivino
#US259 Stephen Piscotty
#US157 Francisco Lindor
#US199 Francisco Lindor / Jose Ramirez - All Smiles
#US286 Shane Carle
#US54 Denard Span
#US262 Sam Gaviglio
#US233 Tommy Pham
#US59 Kyle Schwarber
#US89 Justin Verlander
#US250 Ronald Acuna Jr. - his actual RC
#S-48 Edwin Encarnacion - Game Changers insert
#US161 Seranthony Dominguez - Rainbow Foil
#SE-10 Andy Pettitte - Storybook Endings insert
#83-31 Gerrit Cole - 1983 Topps
#US29 David Hess / Pedro Araujo - Rookie Combos
#US282 Brian Flynn
#US128 Scott Kingery / Rhys Hoskins - Philly Fives
#US273 David Bote
#US191 Gleyber Torres - Rookie Debut
#US9 Nick Kingham
#US185 Corey Kluber
#US255 Max Muncy
#US53 Seung Hwan Oh
#US45 Bartolo Colon
#US164 Jefry Marte
#US22 Tyler Chatwood
#US35 Dan Otero
#US158 Justin Upton, Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout - Next Stop, Stardom
#US166 Juan Lagares
#US5 James Paxton
#US280 Ross Stripling
#US147 Matt Moore

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Inking it up collection - a visual guide

Collecting autographs in-person or the idea of getting something signed is one of my last links to what I was doing when I was in my late teens - I would never, ever consider myself too old to get something signed by any person I could get an autograph from, though reality tells me otherwise.

Maybe the opportunities are not there and/or are too commercialized to be as pure as getting a card or a ball signed at a spot like a ball game - but maybe as a nod to years I've spent literally chasing after signatures, I collect the cards picturing players 'inking it up' for fans.

It maybe a random factoid, but I was able to get in-person autographs from 22 of the 27 players pictured on these group of cards, spanning about 30 years - I may have stories from the 22 guys I got autographs from, though I missed out on five guys as far as getting their autograph in-person.

1. Babe Ruth - obviously, though I was going for Lou Gehrig and neither one signed when the New York Yankees came into town one year.

2. Roberto Alomar - I've always seen him as a prima donna of sorts and the only time I'd ever remember him signing was when he was playing for the Cleveland Indians and on a night when I wasn't around.

As the story retold to me goes, someone was heckling him after a game for perhaps ignoring fans on his way out of the ballpark - to shut the heckler up, Alomar proceeds to sign for everyone, but the individual who gave him a hard time.

3. Kirby Puckett - maybe forced to retire the year before I was graphing at my local big league park and my only apparent successes with are TTM.

4. John Smiley - mostly pitched in the National League, before Interleague play was a thing and I was really only getting my autographs at an American League ballpark when I first started.

5. Kim Batiste - I was more into cards when this junk wax era utility man was playing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Multi-sport athletes collection - a visual guide

I wanted continue seeing if I could display certain collecting subset cards in nine-pocket pages - as featured in previous posts on this blog over the summer, I started to make sampler pages of my favorite mini collections to see if I could put together a binder to flip through.

With a new box of Ultra Pro pages, I wanted to add cards of my bloodlines, inking it up and multi-sport athletes collections as priorities - I put together 17 cards using one page as a snapshot of prominent pro athletes in one sport, yet might have been good enough to dabble in at least one other sport [high school / college / pros] at one point in their playing careers.

These cards were originally referred to as 'two-sport stars' collection, though in my collection, there are cards of players who simply forgettable - guys who may not have developed professionally in a sport they tried to play, like a baseball player who spends four or five years in the minors, but ends up going back to college to play football in anonymity.

First row: John Elway [NFL / MiLB], Bill Spiers [MLB / NCAA football], Todd Helton [MLB / NCAA football]
Second row: Bo Jackson [MLB / NFL], Jim Thorpe, Dave Winfield
Third row: Brian Jordan [NFL / MLB], Dick Ricketts [NBA/MLB], Ron Reed x2 [NBA/MLB]

First row: Nyjer Morgan [MLB / hockey], Zack Von Rosenberg [MiLB / NCAA football], Tony Gonzalez [NFL / NCAA basketball]
Second row: Frank Thomas [MLB / NCAA football], Deion Sanders [MLB / NFL], Tony Gwynn
Third row: Ron Reed [second card] and Michael Jordan [NBA / MiLB]

In my collecting life, it was Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders who made the idea of two-sport players a real attraction during the junk wax era - Jackson had all-world potential as a baseball player and maybe I saw Sanders as an ersatz version of Bo, maybe more flash than substance on a big league field.

Looking at his stats, Sanders was actually decent MLB player, though the NFL was always the priority - as it goes, Neon Deion was the one who didn't get hurt [insert of some of tired tackling joke here] and ended up in the Pro Football HOF while Jackson's NFL career was cut short by injury.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

1978 Topps Paul Molitor / Alan Trammell RC #707

Centering on this copy is off a bit and maybe the edges on the back show some imperfections, but this card was a scratch the itch add to my PC - maybe the card will look different once in-hand, but maybe the most important consideration is the yellow space above the red bottom border looks fairly clean without smudging.

As a manager, Molitor just got fired by the Minnesota Twins - but I’m trying to find a narrative as far as my recollections of him as an active player.

Seeing a loose junk wax era card of his, I might have thought 'The Ignitor' was a minor star at best, winding down his playing career with the Milwaukee Brewers through the end of the 1980s - he had a 39-game hitting streak in 1987, but there wasn’t as much attachment to him as any kind of ‘real star’ when I first started collecting.

With no particularly feelings attached to any particular player - I look at his numbers, how good he was, how many home runs hit, how high the batting average was and how many runners were driven in.

I thought there might have been a pronounced decline of some sort in his 30s, but Molitor was quite productive - looking at his stats from 1988-1992, he was putting up ‘Paul Molitor numbers’ and played in over 150 games in all but one of those seasons for the Brewers.

I noticed how he might have been a great player after all, because he was a hitting machine for the Toronto Blue Jays in the mid 1990s - the perennially contending Blue Jays finally won a championship in 1992 and in the organization’s defense of a World Series title, Molitor was another quality veteran added for repeat World Series championship run in 1993 [he was named MVP of the 1993 World Series].

After waiting for quite a while, Trammell was finally inducted the Hall of Fame this past year - he played through 1996 but his last hurrah as a star player probably ended through the 1980s.

As is, he was pretty familiar as a junk wax era guy - maybe it doesn’t mean anything at all but he was also pretty accommodating about signing, the times I’ve gotten him as a retired player, so he gets a thumbs up in my book.

Friday, October 12, 2018

1982 Topps Chili Davis rookie card #171

I'll always associate Davis with Angels teams of the late 1980s through the mid 1990s and picked this multiplayer card up to group with random Angels cards I may put together - he was a player who wielded a big stick and seemed like the last guy a pitcher wanted to go head-to-head with in a crucial game situation or frankly, in a brawl.

I remember getting his autograph in-person about 20 years ago and to make small talk - I said something like, 'it's too bad you aren't an Angel anymore.'

Davis responded back, saying something like he had no regrets, since he was playing for the New York Yankees - he only played 35 games for the 114 win juggernaut 1998 team, but played in 146 games in his last MLB season in 1999.

Unfortunately after one season, Davis was just fired by the Chicago Cubs as their hitting coach and his status in the major leagues is up in the air - whether a team is willing to offer him a job and if he is looking to continue coaching.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Card shop finds - a random quartet

I don’t want to get crazy with impulsive non-baseball card quarter box digs if I ever stop at a card shop - so I grabbed a few that caught my eye for a moment and added them to my other purchases of supplies, some other loose cards and several loose packs.

2018 Panini Contenders Draft Picks football Patrick Mahomes II #79 - though he threw two interceptions in his team's 30-14 win last Sunday, he's probably been one of the hyped up NFL players this season; if nothing else, in my bloodlines collection, I wanted to pair this card up with a card of his father Pat Mahomes, who was a former MLB pitcher.

2018 Panini Donruss football Christian McCaffrey #22 - I had a random card of his father Ed, who played in the NFL during the 1990s, so I grabbed a card of Christian's to tie things up [for now] in my bloodlines collection.

2018 Panini Contenders Draft Picks football Adrian Peterson #4 - this card of longtime star running back can go to my beyond the glory collection or my infamous collection.

I would probably inclined to go ‘beyond the glory’ since he has been through a lot in his football life, as well as personal life - in my world of mini-collection cards, there is no need to glorify the mistakes this pro athlete has made.

2018 Panini Player of the Day football Russell Wilson #36 - as the Seattle Seahawks teams around him as been torn down and rebuilt over the years, maybe the narrative surrounding his career has lost its luster.

While Wilson has been singled out as a divisive figure in the locker room for any number of reasons - I still like the guy enough to pick up a card of his.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

A couple of newish Shohei Ohtani finds

2018 Topps Heritage High Numbers 1969 Collector Cards Shohei Ohtani #69CC-SO [$4.99 BIN plus $1.00 s/h] - I've tried not to worry about the glut of Ohtani rookie year cards because it's just hard to really keep up, but this was a cutesy looking retail exclusive insert.

I've still spent money on random card things, but felt like I’ve bought less retail blasters - it maybe the case where I don’t get a chance to get this card at all unless I get it outright.

I may have paid a premium for this card, but maybe it evens out with how much it costs to have it shipped to me - that sounds stupid when I realize the card will probably be in a PWE, but it is what it is and I don’t mind as long as the card arrives safely.

2018 Topps Now Shohei Ohtani / Juan Soto AL / NL Rookies of the Month #824 [$4.95 BIN] - the final regular season Ohtani card through his rookie year, though there maybe a card for when he wins the American League Rookie of the Year award.

I’ve kept up with just about every Topps Now Ohtani card released through his rookie season - a caveat is that no autographs or parallels perhaps, but those weren't realistic pickups for me.

Maybe the cards will be nice to go back through - especially if Ohtani is still is on that dual pitcher / hitter track.

Because it won’t be his rookie year anymore, I don’t think the plan is to get all the Topps Now Ohtani cards in 2019 - though I’ll keep an eye out for any ‘interesting’ ones.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

TTM autographs received: Bartolo Colon

The longtime MLB pitcher and fan favorite signed my trading cards I sent back in August c/o the Texas Rangers - even as he has labored through the past two seasons, it's still a thing to see the 45-year pitch for a big league team.

Who knows who is going to pay him to be on their team in 2019 - but it would be nice to see him have one more good run before he finally calls it quits.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

2018 Topps Now Jose Briceno #780

With another so-so season for the Angels, my emotional investment tends to meander towards apathy, even though I've still kept up for the occasional Shohei Ohtani / Mike Trout highlight - I picked up this card because it features a more rank-and-file rookie, someone who [for now] might not have that many big league cards out.

I liked the picture in particular though Briceno is sort of obscured with a butt shot - there are several random cameos on the card, with the most obvious and notable being Ohtani.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

TTM autographs received: John Kruk

The former MLB player signed my trading cards in about a month c/o the Philadelphia Phillies - the particular card isn't the ideal card to get signed with Kruk wearing a dark jersey top, but it was a random card I plucked out of a card show monster box 'just because.'

Getting the card eventually inked up justified the $0.25 purchase - regardless of how it ultimately looked.

Since he worked for ESPN for 12 years, I've had Kruk's cards in my 'media guys' box for seemingly the longest time - then moved the cards over to my Philadelphia Phillies box when he was hired as part of the broadcast team.

Because I was never able to get the chance to get Kruk in-person, he became a 'scratch the itch' guy for me - especially when I saw some TTM successes posted this past season.

When Kruk was on ESPN, particularly on the Sunday Night Baseball crew, I may have seen him in-person a grand total of one time and he didn't feel like signing - the same time, I think I did end up getting former teammate Curt Schilling, so regardless of everything else, the former MLB ace was a slightly better get than the slick hitting, portly fan favorite.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

TTM autographs received: Alfonso Soriano

As far as through the mail autographs go, after seeing at least several 'good' Soriano successes posted this year, I was eager to put together a request [I added $5 as I've seen others doing] to see if I could get some of my own cards signed - admittedly Soriano hasn't been a typical TTM guy collectors have had luck with and sometimes you can only believe so much as far as any particular player [active or retired] actually signing.

I was out of the country for the last couple of weeks and when I came home, it was a pleasant surprise - to get my SASE back in about a month with my cards signed in blue Sharpie.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

2018 Topps Fire blaster recap

This was probably my best pull out of a random blaster box of 2018 Topps Fire - this is from the 4-card Gold Minted bonus pack included in each blaster.

I've tried to stay away from blaster box purchases, because they seem like a tease of miscellaneous cards rather than something relatively fulfilling - as is, I kind of liked what these cards looked like, particularly the parallels that seem to pop.

Impulsively, maybe what I’m looking for is a product that reflect the here and now - I want something that looks a little different, a little spacey as opposed to a product that uses a retro design [Topps Heritage, Topps Gypsy Queen, Topps Allen and Ginter, Topps Archives] and/or a product that doesn't really stray from what a baseball card looks like [Topps Flagship].

Topps Fire will never be the product of the year or anything - but maybe worth at least a couple of more looks.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

2018 Topps Now Shohei Ohtani 650 & 650J

I saw there was Ohtani Topps Now cards offered for his latest feats, but only after I’d paid for a couple of 15% off promo purchases.

I don’t know how much I’ve really thought about adding any Ohtani’s packed pulled cards - but look to at least complete a rookie season's worth of Topps Now cards.

Ohtani has been a pretty good slugging rookie DH, though it remains to be seen whether he will pitch again this year - despite things ramping up as far getting ready for a comeback on the mound.

The combination of home runs and pitching makes Ohtani the intriguing Rookie of the Year candidate - but Ohtani hasn’t pitched and as a hitter, he’s been a platoon DH with some growing pains against left handers.

Team success matters less perhaps as far as Rookie of the Year consideration, but Miguel Andujar has played every day and piled up the counting numbers as a hitter for a contender - it wouldn't surprise me if Ohtani does win the American League Rookie of the Year, but Andujar maybe my non-homer choice.

I saved a screenshot of my favorite thing someone had to say about Ohtani all the way back in April - no truer words have been typed out.

Friday, August 24, 2018

TTM autographs received: Phil Garner

The longtime MLB player and manager signed my trading cards in about three weeks - I didn't know where I expected to see Garner in-person, but I've had his cards in my Oakland Athletics box for the past five years or so.

He was a special advisor with the A's, but I don't think he is working for the team anymore - because I was never able to get the chance to approach him in-person to get him to sign some cards, he became a 'scratch the itch' guy for me TTM.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Featured autographs - a pair of one-time Halos

I haven't done any in-person graphing at a MLB ballpark in years, so I miss out on the miscellaneous rank-and-file guys I'd probably need for my Angels all-time autograph collection - as is, other options to get any number of player autographs are just an eBay search away.

Picking up certified autographs doesn't really give me the same sense of satisfaction as getting my own card(s) inked up in-person - but when IP is simply impractical, at least I have the means to keep up with what I'm trying to do as far as getting as many different players autographs who played on 'my team.'

I bought a couple of Angels certified autograph cards and I can imagine Topps probably contracted these two players to sign a 'bunch' of cards each - no offense to anyone in particular, but as far as players listed on a checklist, these maybe the worst guys to pull off any particular pack or box break from a 2018 Topps product.

2018 Topps Gypsy Queen Parker Bridwell Rookie Black & White auto serial #'d to 50 GQA-PB [$2.10 plus $2.66 s/h] - as first-year MLB pitchers occasionally do, Bridwell had a decent rookie season in 2017, but then he didn't really fit into the Angels' plans entering the 2018 season.

He was sent to AAA to start the year - but arm problems derailed Bridwell's chances of making good on his rookie year.

2018 Topps Allen & Ginter Troy Scribner Framed Mini auto #MA-TS [$0.99 plus $3.50 s/h] - from the bits and pieces I've read, Scribner really fought his way to make it to the majors, so there is a good back story to his professional career.

However, after making his MLB debut with the Angels in 2017, Scribner couldn't stick with the team past spring training - the Arizona Diamondbacks picked him up in April, released and then re-signed him in July.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Featured autograph - Vladimir Guerrero

At the end of July, I wanted to see if there were any Topps Now cards I was interested in and saw that Guerrero had autographs listed on the Topps Web site - not that I’ve been tempted before, but by the time I usually see see anything autographed offered, the listings are marked out of stock or the prices are a bit too extravagant to begin with.

I had to put an order for a copy of this card, because it was still available and it pictured a universally loved [if not universally collected] player - who was the centerpiece player for the Angels for much of the 2000s.

The card arrived in about three weeks, inside a BCW magnetic with Topps seal - I’ll probably leave the card in the holder as is, as opposed to breaking the seal and trying to move the card into a newer magnetic.

I want to say I was worried about the autograph quality but the autograph looks fairly clean on the card - up close, there maybe points where the stroke was light, but that is how it is with the Lumocolor pens I assume Topps used.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Featured autographs - assorted certs

Sifting through the miscellaneous cards I've collected, maybe I want to start showcasing some of the 'hidden' gems over the years - I still think back to an old prehistoric Beckett Baseball Card Monthly story / contribution where a collector had these loose cards on his bookshelf [I specifically remember a 1992 Topps Stadium Club Will Clark as the picture used for the story] and how he cleaned up his bookshelf, through the cards he kept and cards he discarded.

The title of the 1990s article [something like Bookshelf of Doom] - was a riff off the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom movie of the 1980s.

Getting back to the cards, these were certified autographs I've collected over the past 15 years - they may have had spots in my personal collection listings, but when I revamped my PC a few years ago, these cards may have been rendered irrelevant.

I dug them out recently, so they aren't loose - to file them away in my A-Z inserts collection:

Phil Hughes [top right] - he was pretty hyped up as a young New York Yankees pitcher and FWIW, he was also a one-time card collector who used to post on Beckett Message Boards [circa 2007].

I thought this 2004 Donruss Elite Extra Edition auto was a great get for $5 at a spring training card show 11 or 12 years ago - but Hughes' star potential never really materialized over parts of his 12 year MLB career.

Eric Chavez [top left, top center] x2 - Chavez was a rising star third baseman back with the Moneyball A's of the early 2000s and I wanted to put away a couple of nicer looking certified autographs issues from early in his professional baseball career.

I kind of have an obsession with early autographs of professional athletes, particularly when their autographs devolve over time - Chavez's autographs tended to look like chicken scratch and were never as good looking as the ones on these cards.

Kevin Youkilis [bottom center, bottom right] - these certified autographs were a couple of my first COMC purchases in 2012; Youkilis was a Boston Red Sox fan favorite but not surprisingly, age caught up with him as he entered his 30s as a big leaguer.

Corey Hart [bottom left] - this card was most likely a pack pull and may have been worth a little something, when it was likely his only prospect era certified autograph; Hart was a two-time All-Star and a fan favorite in Milwaukee when he was doing good through his prime years, though he was essentially done as a productive MLB player after 30.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

My 2018 Topps Stadium Club finds - the best of the rest

#6 Carlos Gonzalez - eyes on the prize; having a bounce back Coors Field aided season.

#34 Manuel Margot - did a drone take this awesome outfield pic?

#291 Edwin Diaz - love that fire

#64 Ender Inciarte - dirt dog

#230 Archie Bradley - pitchers hitting, awesome action, facial hair, hats-off card.

#127 Yadier Molina - play at the plate and a star on star card feat. two longtime NL Central stars [Votto].

#27 Michael Conforto - awesome outfield

#215 Wilson Contreras - play at the plate

#287 J.T. Realmuto - forced up in the air.

#15 Hanley Ramirez - mascot love for the deposed Boston Red Sox and if overzealous journalists and bloggers were to be believed, a supposed drug kingpin.

#188 Bob Gibson - old-timer legend action

#260 Amed Rosario - he almost looks like he is catching a pass in the NFL.

#219 Josh Donaldson [red foil] - game face action.

#272 Salvador Perez [red foil] - player hamming it up for the camera.

#23 Carlos Martinez [red foil] - shades

#268 A.J. Pollock - retro uniform, umpire butt shot.