Monday, July 28, 2014

My Card Monday #1

My timing on this post is a level two (below grade level), but the content is a level three (on grade level).  It's the first day of school around these parts and I was really excited to meet my class.  No time for blog posts this morning, but I had been planning this one for the better part of a week.  Just needed a little bit of extra sleep this morning to ensure that I was ready to return to work fully rested. On to the post.....

The concept of My Card Monday was actually started by Jimmy at Big D's Sports Cards.  If you have not checked his page out on Facebook or Twitter be sure to stop by and check him out.  The whole idea behind the day is to post cards that you have in your collection that you want to show off.  Jimmy has been doing this for several weeks on both his Facebook and Twitter pages and it's always cool to see what pops up.  High end, low end, old, new, and every thing in between.  Just a good time looking at cards.

My entry for My Card Monday comes from the 1998 Leaf set and features Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire.  Here is the card:


The card is from one of my favorite inserts from the late nineties.  I love this set and had actually pulled a bunch of these cards for a series of posts I am doing next month on 90s baseball cards.  Lots of good players and great looking cards in this set if you are looking for something new to add to your collection.  Each card is serial numbered, not too low, but the foil from is the real highlight.  Here's the back....

Here's the story behind the card.  I bought this in 1998.  I was a college student and a card shop guy at the time.  The card shops in St. Louis were really cool, but I went to college in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  The card scene in Cape consisted of the Wal-Mart and Target card aisle and a card shop with a short cantankerous middle aged man.  I actually originally saw this card in the card shop in Cape.  I also saw that the card had a $50 price tag.  No thank you.

So, I ventured on to the internet and tried out Ebay.  This was my first purchase.  I think I bought the card for $15 and paid $17.50 with shipping.  Of course no Paypal so I went to the Cape Girardeau Schnucks and picked up a Western Union.  Two weeks later this was in my mail box.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Best of LaRussa

Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa entered the Hall of Fame earlier this afternoon.  The majority of my life as a Cardinals fan has been covered by Whitey Herzog and Tony LaRussa.  I am a little bit spoiled.  Sorry Matheny.  Anyway, LaRussa had a great run as a manager with three teams.  Out of respect to the A's, Cardinals, and White Sox LaRussa is actually entering the Hall with a blank hat.  He's a Cardinal in book.  Here are my top five LaRussa seasons at the helm of the Cardinals

#5- 2002

While the 2002 season did not yield the Cardinals a pennant it was arguable the best managing job that LaRussa did during his time in St. Louis.  Most notably LaRussa did a remarkable job of leading the Cardinals to the National League Central pennant, and a spot in the National League Championship Series against the Giants, after the passing of star pitcher Darryl Kile.

Kile's finally start actually landed the Cardinals in first place where LaRussa kept them for the rest of the season.  The team ended the year with 97 wins while getting second half starts from Mike Timlin, Mike Crudale, Travis Smith, Bud Smith, Garrett Stephenson, Jamey Wright, and Josh Pearce.  The Cardinals eventually traded minor league outfielder Covelli (aka Coco) Crisp to the Indians for Chuck Finley and LaRussa helped get them close to the World Series.  

#4. 2000

I put the 2000 season ahead of the 2002 season which might be the only point worth arguing on this list.  For me the 2000 season was a turning point with LaRussa, the Cardinals, and St. Louis.  LaRussa's first season in St. Louis at the helm of the Cardinals brought the team to within a game of the 1996 World Series.  The 1997, 1998, and 1999 versions of the team resembled a beer league softball team.  The line-ups featured Mark McGwire, Ron Gant, Gary Gaetti, Ray Lankford, Brian Jordan and absolutely zero pitching.  LaRussa was questioned, fans were ticked, and Tony took note.  

The make-up of the team started to change in 2000.  The team brought in Darryl Kile from the Rockies, Jim Edmonds from the Angels, and featured young talent like Rick Ankiel and J.D. Drew.  Ankiel, Matt Morris, and Kile formed the front end of a good rotation.  Edmonds hit home runs, caught everything, and looked like Duke Snider playing centerfield for the Cardinals.  The only thing that went wrong during the regular season was an injury to Mark McGwire.  The team traded for Will Clark and he morphed into the late 80s version of himself and lead the team into the playoffs.  

and then the wheels fell off in the playoffs.  There was this......

and Mike Matheny could not work a knife.  After the 2000 season I am not sure many people in St. Louis made mention of getting rid of LaRussa or chasing him out of town.  

#3. 2004

The 2004 team was another remake of the team.  The Cardinals never really had enough pitching in 2002 or 2003 after the loss of Kile.  The 2004 Cardinals had Matt Morris, Woody Williams, Jeff Suppan, Jason Marquis, and a cast off from the Blue Jays Chris Carpenter.  The team was also remade around the MV3 of Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, and Jim Edmonds.  Tony Womack was brought in to play second and lead off.  J.D. was traded away and replaced by Reggie Sanders, and later in the summer by Larry Walker.  

The team steam rolled into the playoffs and made it quickly to the NLCS where they ran into their arch rivals the Houston Astros who featured Lance Berkman, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, and Roger Clemens.  The Astros lead 3-2 with the series heading back to St. Louis for Game 6 where Jim Edmonds took care of the Astros.....

The next night Scott Rolen took care of Roger Clemens.....

and then they ran out of steam and the Red Sox fans have been annoying since.....

#2.  2006

This was looking like the end of the MV3 during the regular season.  Pujols was still Pujols, but Edmonds was hurt frequently and Scott Rolen's shoulder might have been held together by paper mache.  The team took on outcasts like Scott Speizio, David Eckstein, Preston Wilson, and Jeff Weaver and turned it into a World Series title.  The Cardinals only won 83 regular season games, but snapped into place during the Postseason.  Everyone who doubts their team can win the World Series needs to watch the 2006 Cardinals World Series movie.  It just goes to show that any team can win, it just depends what week it is....

Adam Wainwright as the closer too.

#1. 2011

I will let the videos do the talking on this one......

It started the last day of the regular season....

then the National League Playoffs.  

Game 6 of the World Series.  9th Inning.

Game 6 of the World Series.  11th Inning.  

Game 7.  

What about now?

A few years back the Yankees had this awesome young pitcher named Joba Chamberlain.  All the Yankees collectors were all over his cards, which seemed a little bit high for a guy who was pitching the seventh and eighth inning.  There were a lot of collectors who were ordaining Joba as the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera.  2007 and 2008 were good years for the reliever, but after that things went south.  Bad pitching, trampoline accidents, DUIs.  Last year, after an ERA of almost 5, the Yankees and Joba Chamberlain part ways.  He landed with the Tigers.  His cards have completely crashed in value too.  Here's my latest pick up.....

I could tell you that this card might be one of those novelty adds, like a Mark Prior 2001 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Autograph, which used to cost an arm and a leg and now is worth a few cents.  In some ways this card could be that.  I did buy this card for $1.  Really, why would you sell this card for $1.  Are you paying attention to what Joba is doing this year?  Joba has become the pitcher he was during the 2007 and 2008 seasons for the Yankees.  He's not racking up a ton of saves with the Tigers, but he has pitched really well.

So far in 46 games this year he has almost a strikeout an inning, a WHIP right around 1, and an ERA+ of 162.  That's right in the neighborhood of his 2008 numbers that led collectors to throw tons of money at Joba Chamberlain cards.  Now, I am not saying that I would drop a ton of cash on Joba cards, but how does he not have a slight bounce back going on with his cards?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Alcantara Autograph

I missed Arismendy Alcantara at the Triple A All-Star game earlier this month because the Cubs called him up to the Majors.  Like all prospects there are players who are a little bit hyped up, but there are also those that live up to the hype.  The Cubs currently have, according to Keith Law, the best minor league system in the Majors.  Lots of big name talent right now including Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, Addison Russell, etc, etc, etc.  Why don't people talk about Arismendy Alcantara?

During his half season in Triple A Alcantara posted a .307/.353/.537 line with 25 doubles, 11 triples, and 10 home runs.  Throw in 21 steals and it's not quite Mike Trout, but I am not sure there are many teams who would not like to have a player like Arismendy Alcantara in their system.  Or on their big league team.

So, where's the love for this guy?  Alcantara was only ranked 83rd by Baseball America before the 2014 season. has him ranked 89th.  Breaking it down amongst only the Cubs prospects Baseball America had the infielder ranked 7th and placed him 7th too.  I know that people are high on Bryant and Baez, but both of those players have some serious holes in their swings.

A similar trend has followed Alcantara in the hobby.  Collectors have also been very high on Bryant, Baez, and Soler while taking a slower approach with Alcantara.  In my opinion, he is one of the better bargains out there for collectors to snatch up.  I choose to pick up a copy of his Bowman Inception last week.....

While Bryant is striking out a few hundred times in Triple A, Alcantara is hanging out in Wrigley.  His autographed rookie cards can be a little pricy, but they are not even close to the Bryant autographed cards.  For $40 to $50 you can own the Bowman autographed rookie card of Alcantara.  For about half of the price you can pick up this Bowman Inception card.  A really nice looking card with a great looking autograph.

Monday, July 21, 2014

New Ginters

I have always really liked the Allen & Ginter cards.  They are part baseball card and part mail catalog encyclopedia.  That's how the original Ginter cards were designed though and Topps always gives a really good effort with making this recreation as close to the original as possible.  Last year I spent a few posts steering my readers through my favorite non-sport Ginters which included the likes of D.B. Cooper, the Lemp Mansion in St. Louis, dogs, flags, and so much more.  That's a huge link.  This year's Ginter offer much of the same as previous years.

This year's insert sets feature World's Capitals, Fighter Jets, and Parties (not shown, but they're there) ...........

There are some baseball inserts too.  I think these Pastime's Pastimes cards look sharp with the dark background and the white writing and frame around the player picture......

Of course there are hit cards too.  I did not land an autograph in my box, but I did have three relic hits.  I had two baseball hits with a Joey Votto and David Price.  My non-baseball hit belongs to Mike Pereira who was the head of the NFL's referees and then did some TV work after his career with the NFL.  I had never heard of him until I pulled his card, but he sits on some sort of Fried Chicken Sofa and gives shouts out to kids watching football....

Here are my hit cards......

and then there are the cards from the base set.  There are young players, old players, swimmers, weight lifters, comedians, ESPN personalities.  Chuck Todd.  All kinds of people.  Here's a look:  

Lastly, I would like to offer this piece of advice.  After you have opened up your packs of Allen & Ginter, sort back through your cards carefully and check through all of your cards.  You never know.......

when something that's looks ordinary, is going to turn into something that is extraordinary.......

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Blogger Walks Into A Card Store....

I am prepping for school to start back up in the next two weeks which is always a little bit stressful, but I found a little bit of down town this week to stop by Big D's Card Shop in Raleigh.  I will have another post about my favorite local card shop again at some point tomorrow.  My post this evening is going to focus a bunch of cards that the owner of Big D's, Jimmy, has found and set aside for me over the past month or so.  

Three of the cards I picked up today are really nice autographs from one of my favorite former Durham Bulls Evan Longoria.  Each card is a pretty low print run and not the easiest of finds.  Let's start with a Topps Unique autograph.  

I do not recall ever seeing this card before Jimmy showed it to me and I am a pretty big Longoria fan.    I also really like the Topps Unique set.  It's numbered to just 25 copies and there has not been a copy of this card sold on Ebay recently.  In fact, there is not one of COMC, Collector Revolution, or Amazon.  Nowhere.  I had to pick up this card.  With none around and a print run of just 25, it's likely not around because the other copies of this card are in collections and they are not going anywhere.  

Next up is a nice copy of a Tribute Longoria autograph which is just serial numbered to 20.  I have seen plenty of Longoria autographs from the Tribute sets, but I have never seen this gold card.  I love the gold color, the two bat pieces, and the Longo autograph.  Next...

The highest numbered card here, but still just 99 copies and a rookie card to boot.  This is the blue edition of the Rays third baseman's rookie card.  The scan is a little blurry and scratchy because it's in a screw down holder.  This might be my favorite card out of the lot.  Yes, I know Longoria is wearing the old style Rays uniform, but I used to love these old Bowman's Best set.  This is a great card.  I might have to take it out of the screw down and rescan it.  

While I was at Big D's I also picked up a few other items.  I had two other cards that Jimmy had set aside for me at the store.  The first was a Matt Adams Jumbo Bat/Autograph card from the 2012 Topps Finest Set.  

I have a copy of this card, but it has a jersey relic instead of a bat relic.  I think I bought the jersey relic version of this card the first week the set was out and gave up on even looking for the bat relic or just did not look for it at all.  Either way, this card has found a happy home in my collection.  

Lastly, I picked up this nice in-person autograph of Cardinals prospect Stephen Piscotty.  He played here this week during the Triple A All-Star game.  The Durham Bulls had an autograph meet and greet on Tuesday, but I did not get to attend.  This Piscotty was in the shop and too hard for me to pass on.  Really cool picture and a nice autograph.  

Bonus items?  Yes.  

I picked up a card from a customer in the store.  Sent over a little bit of Paypal and landed this cool looking Longoria autograph.  You can't have too many.....

Jimmy also had a cool Jeremy Hellickson Durham Bulls program he had in the back of his shop.  Pretty sweet item.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

New Tier One Redbirds

I have already picked up a pair of Tier One Cardinals autographs, but there are still a few more Cardinals cards out there floating around that I would love to add to my card collection.  I picked up two of them a few weeks ago and never got around to posting anything about either card.  The first card I actually picked up at Big D's Sports Cards in Raleigh.

This beautiful Yadier Molina relic is numbered to 399, which sounds like a lot, but Yadi always has a limited number of relic cards every year.  Some of the Molina relics have a pretty good sized print run, but in the end he still has a pretty small number of items out on the market.  He is also, surprisingly, one of the pricier Cardinals players to collect.  Jimmy, the owner at Big D's, gave me a good deal on this card.  Next up, another good Cardinals player.....

The McGwire is my second Big Mac of the month after I picked up a sweet jumbo patch of the slugging first baseman a few weeks ago.   The McGwire out of Tier One is numbered to just 99 and I found it in an auction room on Facebook and paid less than $10 for the card.