Monday, November 30, 2015

A Cheap Call Up

I generally avoid shopping at the Topps Online store, but collectors can buy boxes and single cards there.  One of their "online exclusives" featured a set of 5x7 cards of players who were recently called up to the Majors.  The set is called the "Call Up Series".  The basic cards, which are serial numbered out of 99, cost collectors a mere $29.99 each through the store.  I did not buy one.  

However, I have been after the Stephen Piscotty card in the set, but I did not really feel like paying almost $30 for the card.  I watched and watched, finally one came up on Ebay that cost me just over $5.  Here's a look at the card......



The cards in the Call Up Series are based on the design of the 1952 Topps set.  The serial number on the card is in the lower left hand corner of the card.  Kind of small and hard to read.  Here's a look at the back of the card.....


Not a great back, nothing special happening on the backs of the cards.  Overall, I like the cards.  Topps already had one product this year that was based on the 1951 set, so it seems like a little repetitive to make another set off of the 1952 set.  Hmm.  

Sunday, November 29, 2015

#MyCardMonday

I had the opportunity to do a little bit of volunteer work over the Thanksgiving holiday by helping out an older friend from my days in Durham.  The friend helps out around a community thrift store that donates its profits to charity.  The shop had a big lot of sports cards, programs and score cards, and memorabilia that was donated and they needed a little help making heads and tails out of what they had in their store.  

They had a few cool things that will help out the Thrift Store after they auction off the items, but they also had a few things that were inexpensive and cool for me as a baseball card collector.  I ended up with a few junk wax era boxes.  I will do a post on a few of them over the next few weeks, but for this week's #MyCardMonday I wanted to share out one cool card that I pulled out of a 1993 Flair box I bought from the store.

Here's my new card......




I was excited to pull this out of my box of cards.  Edmonds has several rookie cards in 1993 products, but I always really liked this card.  Way back in 1993 I did not open any packs, or boxes, of this product.  Years later I ran into one somewhere because I have a ton of these cards floating around in my boxes.  I also have a single copy of this Edmonds, but I bought that from a card shop in St. Louis after he was traded to the Cardinals.

I have never had the joy of pulling a cool Jim Edmonds rookie and being excited about the card.  Yes, back in 1993 I pulled a few Edmonds rookie cards, but he was just some guy on the Angels.  Very nice card and I am happy to give it a good home.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

End of the Weekend Post

Way back last Tuesday I had a stack of cards I needed to scan in order to start planning out some posts for the next few weeks.  There have been way too many 2015 cards enter my collection and sit on my desk.  Not really go anywhere or doing anything.  After thinking a nice long holiday weekend would help resolve the matter I am sitting here on Saturday night and I am feeling slightly overwhelmed by the fact that I have done almost nothing.

I posted a cool new Mark McGwire card from a Panini USA Baseball set last night, so I am going to stick with that same theme this evening.  I picked these three USA Baseball cards up awhile back, so this help clear a little bit of the backlog.  First up.....


Lucas Sims is pitching in the Braves organization.  I saw him pitch last summer for the Carolina Mudcats during my baseball tour and was really impressed.  Not a really great outcome for the Mudcats considering they lost badly to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, but it was not really Sims fault that the team lost the game.  He has a few other autographs out there, but I really liked the looks of this jersey/autograph combo from the Stars & Stripes product.


How many times has Chris Okey played for USA Baseball?  I feel like I run into him every summer, or perhaps it's just the fact that I also see him when he plays for Clemson.  Either way, I like Okey and enjoy watching him play.  Is he a senior this year?  I think so which means he will likely be drafted by a team that I watch locally.  Okey appears frequently in games I watch now, I expect little will change once he is drafted.


and Thomas Echelman is here because I saw him pitch a few times over the years too.  Not in the same games as Chris Okey.  Okey goes to Clemson, Eshelman went to Cal-State Fullerton.  Nevertheless, he always seemed to pitch every time I watched a USA Baseball game two summers ago.  He is in the lower levels of the Astros Minor League system at the moment.  

Friday, November 27, 2015

USA Baseball Retired Numbers

I am generally not a fan of Panini, but I really have to give them credit for their work the past few years with the USA Baseball products.  I live just a few miles from their complex in central North Carolina and have really enjoyed attending games there over the past few years.  They do great things for amateur baseball.  

One of the best parts of the recent Panini products has been the fact that their cards not only give exposure to the current crop of high school and college players in the program, but they have also done a great job of shedding light on some of the past players to go through the program.  There have been plenty of great names over the years who have gone on to play baseball at the professional level.  Panini captures them all.  

I have been to the USA Baseball complex dozens of times over the years I am still not entirely sure that I have ever found where, or if, they display their retired jersey numbers.  I am really leaning towards the fact that they are not hanging up anywhere.  Anyway, there are two of them.  

I always knew that McGwire had his jersey retired for his performance in the 1984 Olympic Games.  He was the best player on the team and provided a spark offensively that helped the team to a silver medal.  I recently had the chance to pick up a copy of one his 2015 Panini USA Baseball cards.  


This card is from the 2015 Stars & Stripes product.  Kind of mimics the 1990s Donruss Crusades cards that were really popular with collectors.  I actually think I have a copy of the 1998 Donruss Crusade McGwire card hanging out somewhere in one of my card boxes.  Just like the original Crusade cards there are different colored cards in the Panini version with each version having a different serial number.  This card is numbered to just 99 copies.  


I was originally just going to make this post about this card, but in doing a little bit of research about Mark McGwire's retired USA Baseball jersey I found a cool factoid out about another baseball card from yesteryear.  I was not actually sure if Big Mac had the only retired jersey number by the organization.  I was half way expecting there to be another big name there along side McGwire.  A Barry Larkin, Will Clark, Nomar, or Jason Giambi.  

Instead, I found out the only other player with a retired jersey number at USA Baseball was Stephen Reich.  He went to West Point, played summer baseball with USA Baseball in 1993.  The team competed at the World Olympic Games.  After completing college he briefly appeared in the minors with the Orioles, and then served in the army for the better part of a decade before his helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan.  

There are some news clippings about his story floating around, but it does not seem really well publicized by USA Baseball.  After reading a little bit about Reich I went through a few boxes, flipped around the internet too, and found that he actually has two baseball cards.  The first is a 1993 Topps Traded card.  It's card 85.  Not an easy find as a single card, but the 1993 Topps Traded set is a pretty affordable set.  


Panini also included him in their 2013 Panini USA Baseball Champions product, but I never put together the complete set.  The card shows the jersey retirement ceremony for the former West Point grad.  This is a copy of the card I found on COMC.  Is that the DBAP?  I think so.  






Friday Five: Top 5 Bowman Sets of the 1990s

I had a great time opening up part of a 1989 Bowman box over the course of the day yesterday.  I did not make a blog post about the cards I pulled out of the box, but you can see the results on my Instagram page including pictures of my Thanskgiving dinner.

After enjoying a little 1989 Bowman yesterday I thought I would get into a few of my favorite Bowman sets from the 1990s for today's Friday Five countdown.  There were some great Bowman sets throughout the 1990s, and while I enjoy a some aspect of all the sets, I am narrowing my focus today down to my favorite five.

Let's get going.....


5. 1991 Bowman 







































This has always been one of my favorite Bowman sets of all-times.  I know it kind of goes into that junk wax category, but I still love this set.  So many reasons to love this set, the most obvious being that it's inexpensive and extremely easy to find.  Remember towards the later half of the decade when Topps started putting those $125 guarantee cards in Bowman packs.  I always hated those things.  The 1991 Bowman set will probably never be worth $125, but there are still tons of cool rookie cards in the product.  How can you go wrong with a Bagwell, Chipper Jones, Ivan Rodriguez, Mike Mussina, or Jim Thome rookie?  You can't.

Snorting Bull's Hidden Gem:  Card number #474 Jeromy Burnitz.  Every kid from the 1990s remembers the Griffey batting stance and follow thru.  Burnitz has an equally cool follow thru, but he just had a few more swinging misses than Griffey.  Dude still hit 300 career home runs.




4. 1997 Bowman 

























I always liked this set's design.  The rookie cards are not as good as the 1991 Bowman set, or other Bowman products from the 1990s, but I love the black borders with the colored frame inside.  The veterans had red frames, prospects blue.  There are also International cards in this set with the flags behind the pictures of the players.  Really nice looking cards.  The rookie cards in this set include Adrian Beltre, Kerry Wood, Roy Halladay, Aramis Ramirez, and Lance Berkman. Not sure how many of those are Hall of Famers, but plenty of good players there.

Snorting Bull's Hidden Gem: Card Number #198 Fernando Tatis.  The guy hit two grand slams in an inning.  You should probably own his rookie card.  Chan Ho Park fans look away.




3. 1994 Bowman 



I think that the quality of rookie cards in the 1994 set is similar to the 1997 set, there are good players in here, but I am not sure there are any Hall of Famers in the bunch.  Probably the best rookie card in here is the Jorge Posada, but Jermaine Dye and Torii Hunter are also in the 1994 Bowman set.  I like the foil cards in this set, which include the Rolen rookie.  I had a good time putting this set together, so on a personal note I have to give it a slight nod above the 1997 set.

Snorting Bull's Hidden Gem: Card Number #98 Edgar Renteria.  Always liked Edgar.  He had some really great moments during his career.



2.  1995 Bowman 

























The Vlad rookie makes this set for me, but there are some other good cards in this set too.  I think a lot collectors go with Andruw Jones as the best rookie card after the Vlad, but there are some nice hidden gems here.  Again, probably not Hall of Famers, but as a fan of 1990s baseball cards several are really good names.  I actually think the Bobby Abreu rookie is underrated, as are Jason Kendall, Chris Carpenter, Scott Rolen, Paul Konerko, and Hideo Nomo.

Snorting Bull's Hidden Gem: Card Number #131 Chris Weinke The guy would go on to win the 2000 Heisman Trophy and was the number one draft pick of the Carolina Panthers.  Better than Drew Henson, Brandon Weeden, or Drew Hutchinson.


1. 1992 Bowman 

























This is hands down the best Bowman set from the 1990s.  It's not a great design, but there are a ton of good names in this set including a few players who should be in the Hall of Fame.  The second tier of cards in the 1992 Bowman set is probably on par with the 1994 and 1995 set.  Let's start with the no-brainers: Mike Piazza, Mariano Rivera, and Manny Ramirez at Duke Chapel.  The second tier cards in this set include rookies of Trevor Hoffman, Carlos Delgado, and second year cards of Chipper Jones and Pedro Martinez.

The Snorting Bull's Hidden Gem: Card Number 124- Brien Taylor.  The card was awesome in 1992, but Taylor never panned out for the Yankees.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

So Fresh, So Clean

Everyone knows Oscar Gamble from his 1976 Topps Traded card.  It was made before I was even born, but it has always been one omy favorite baseball cards.  I don't own that set, but I do have about three copies of this card.....


I recently had the opportunity to trade for an autograph of Oscar.  I was looking to unload some of the thousands of doubles that occupy a table in my baseball card room and ran across a Mariners collector looking to fill a bunch of holes in their collection.   Amongst the cards in their trade album was this gem from the 2015 Archives set.....


While this is a cleaner version of Oscar Gamble I was still happy to add the card to my collection of autographs.  He not only had a cool 1976 Topps Traded card, but was also a pretty good baseball player back in the day.  He helped the Yankees win the American League pennant in 1976 and again in 1981.  He is by no means a Hall of Fame player, but 200 career home runs and an OPS+ of 127 are pretty numbers.  Love this card, even if Oscar's hair is trimmed up a little bit in the photograph.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

#MyCardMonday

One of the darkest eras of baseball in my lifetime came during the early and mid 1990s watching my hometown Cardinals.  I know a lot of baseball fans and card collectors give me grief over the fact that the Cardinals are always winning something and how tough it must be to be a Cardinals fan.  Well, as a kid in middle school and high school the Cardinals were generally depressing to watch.  I went to a ton of games though and got to see a ton of good players not on the Cardinals.  I also got to see Ray Lankford.

The team was owned by the stingy August Busch III who really did not care about the team the way his father, August Busch II had since he bought the team in the 1950s.  When the team needed help he would generally not fork over the money to fix the problem.  Cardinals fans generally have the perception that Auggie's entire tenure as owner was spent not spending on baseball players.  However, that is not entirely true.

After the player strike was resolved in the spring of 1995, Auggie went out and got two of the best starting pitchers in the National League during the 1994 season.  The Cardinals traded Kirk Bullinger to the Expos for Ken Hill, who finished second in the 1994 Cy Young voting, and Danny Jackson, who finished 6th.  Cardinals fans were hopefully.

With the downfall of the Cardinals in the early 1990s, I slowed down my baseball card collecting.  Not that I stopped, but I basically put together a Topps set and spent the rest of the year opening packs, or picking up singles from card products I found interesting.  Definitely not my usual level of interest.  However, the addition of Danny Jackson and Ken Hill peaked my interest again and I rushed out to 1,000,000 Baseball Cards in Ballwin, Missouri to buy all the quarter and fifty cent Danny Jackson cards I could put my hands on....

This was my favorite....



Anytime you can fit the skyline of St. Louis onto a baseball card it's a positive.  Looking back on this card, I also like looking at old Busch Stadium with the astroturf and full seating section in the outfield.

Unfortunately the Danny Jackson signing turned out to be a complete disaster for the Cardinals.  Jackson ended the 1995 season with a 2-12 record and an ERA of 5.90. The team ended up losing 81 games, but would have easily lost 90 if the season had not been shortened to 144 games that year.  Jackson would stay in St. Louis until he was traded for Fernando Valenzuela in the early parts of the 1997 season.  Still, he was the Cardinal I remember the team signing as a free agent who was a big deal.  I have my big stack of Danny Jackson still sitting in a box, not a regular stop, but I like to look at them every once in a while.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Friday Five: Top 5 Rookie Pitchers from 2015

Yesterday I looked at the top position players, so it's the pitchers today.  Tomorrow I will take on the Topps All-Rookie Team and see how they did assembling a team of rookies.  Like I said earlier, it was a tough task this year.  Here are my top 5 pitchers......

5.  Roberto Osuna RP Toronto Blue Jays

The 20 year old Osuna helped the Blue Jays at the back end of their bullpen this year.  He was pretty impressive at times, but I still think he could use a little bit more polish.  He ended the 2015 season with 20 saves, a 0.91 WHIP, and an ERA+ of 153.  Not many 20 year olds get to step into the closers role, especially for a playoff team.  Best rookie relief pitcher this season, so he makes the list at 5....


























4.  Aaron Nola P Philadelphia Phillies 

Nola pitched about a quarter of the season for a really bad Phillies team and managed to post a 6-2 record with a respectable ERA, WHIP, and strikeout rate.  I am a little hesitant about his long term upside as far as being a top of the line starter, but he is at least a very good middle of the rotation pitcher.  I like him better than pitchers like Andrew Heaney and Taylor Jungmann, but not sure he's really in the same class as players like Syndergaard.  Still a good start to his career and worthy of making my list of rookie pitchers....


























3.  Noah Syndergaard P New York Mets 

Snydergaard is a very high potential pitching prospect.  If I were making this list based on potential, it would be pretty ridiculous to put him this low.  However, every player has to start somewhere and this is where I am going to slot him.  He pitched 2/3 of the season with the Mets, won 9 games, and had an excellent strikeout ratio.  There is still some room for improvement in Sydergaard's game though.  Like keeping the ball in the stadium


























2.  Lance McCullers P Houston Astros 

I think Syndergaard will be better than McCullers in the long run, but for 2015 Lance did a nice job of helping the Astros to the American League West pennant.  McCullers had a decent ERA, WHIP, and struck out more than a batter per inning.  His won-loss record wasn't great, but he did a nice job of helping to stabilize the rotation.  At the end of the year McCullers had an ERA+ of 125 and a WAR of 2.4.  Good enough for second on my list.....


























1.  Luis Severino P New York Yankees 

Severino only made 11 starts this year and managed to win five of those starts.  His innings were held down by the Yankees, but his metrics were very good.  Let's start out with  the fact that his WAR was 2.0, almost higher than Syndergaard, in half of the starts.  His strikeout rate was pretty good too along with a nice ERA+ of 137.  Severino is only 21 and should be a very good starter for the Yankees for a long time to come...


Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Five: Top 5 Position Player Rookies of 2015

This afternoon Topps posted their All-Rookie team on their blog.  As a kid I used to love finding the cards in the Topps sets with the little cup.  Sometimes they were good players, other years were a little leaner and there were some rather mediocre players running around with the Topps Cup on their cards.  When I sat down to plan my posts for this week I originally had the idea to make my own version of the Topps All-Rookie team.  

I would do a little comparing and contrasting with the Topps list when it was released, post a few pictures of the Rookie Cup next to some baseball cards.  It was going to be a great post.  Then I started looking at some of the stats for the rookie players.  I actually had a few notes written down from my podcast I made few weeks back where I did a little prognosticating about the awards season.  Well, there was the one guy from the Cubs who was the best rookie.  Another third baseman was on my list and about three or four shortstops.  

If Francisco Lindor could change his position to first base this would be a lot easier this year.  I still made the All-Topps post and will share tomorrow.  Seriously not an easy job given the fact that the best five rookies play two positions.  In the meantime, here are my five best rookie players....


5.  Matt Duffy 3B San Francisco Giants 

I am not sure that Duffy will hang with the rest of the players on this last in the long run, but he still had a great year.  In the long run, I think Duffy will be a solid everyday player.  Nothing flashy, but there's nothing wrong with running him out to the hot corner 150 times a year.  This year Duffy produced a .295/.334/.428 slash line along with 46 extra base hits.  


























4.  Jung Ho Kang SS Pittsburgh Pirates 

Kang ended up missing the last few weeks of the season due to injury, but still had a really good run after moving over from the KBO.  In his first year with the Pirates he hit .287/.355/.461 with 41 extra bases.  Most years Kang would get a little bit more love, maybe even contended for the National League Rookie of the year.  In 2015, he's the third best shortstop on this list.  

























3.  Francisco Lindor SS Cleveland Indians 

Lindor was a really good player in these parts a summer or to back when he starred for the Carolina Mudcats.  He was an exceptional defensive player, but I was never quite sure if he would hit when he reach the Majors.  He definitely held his own this summer with a .313/.353/.482 mark with 48 extra base hits and 12 steals playing part of the season with the Indians.  


















2.  Carlos Correa SS Houston Astros 

Correa deservedly won the American League Rookie of the Year Award after helping the Astros win the American League West pennant.  The former number one overall pick hit .279/.245/.512 with 45 extra base hits in just under 400 at-bats.  He should be a fun player to watch for years to come in Houston.  

























1.  Kris Bryant 3B Chicago Cubs 

An easy choice for the top spot on my list.  Bryant went .275/.369/.488 with 62 extra base hits during his first summer on the north side.  He should be around for a long time and should push his home run total higher than the 26 he hit during his Rookie of the Year campaign this season.  






Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Virtual Dunk

I am a pretty big college basketball fan.  I have lived in North Carolina now for almost a decade.  When I first moved here I was pretty adamant  about not latching onto one of the big four ACC schools that are within 100 miles of my front door.  Three of those, Duke, North Carolina, and NC State, are all within 30 minutes.  My neutrality went out the window at some point about seven years ago when I went back for a Masters Degree and attended NC State.  Go Pack!

I've followed a few former NC State players in the NBA and will occasionally also check in on a few other players I watched in the ACC conference, or Mizzou players.  I grew up in Missouri, so I stay loyal to the Tigers, but their games are not on here very often.  I will also check out the Hornets on occasion, but I cannot say that I am a regular watcher.  My favorite NBA players to watch at the moment are Phoenix Suns forward, and former high scoring ACC Player of the Year, T.J. Warren and former Mizzou guard Jordan Clarkson.  I miss T.J.....



Anyway, I recently decided to try out something a little bit new with the NBA on the recommendation of a few other collectors around the internet.  Yes, it's more digit cards, but they are really cool.  Don't be a wet blanket about this post.  Read on....



I have been on the Panini Dunk App for a little more than a week and I have to say that it might be better than the other two card collecting apps I have on my phone.  The other two apps, just for reference, are the Star Wars Card Trader and Bunt.  I have bad luck with Bunt, still fun though and baseball cards will always be number one in my hobby interests.  Star Wars is fun, and I have some good cards, but it gets really complex at times.  The Dunk app is great because it is simplistic.  Don't blow it Panini.  Here's what I like about it.  


The cards have a decent design.  I realize that some of this product is geared towards kids and I sure that kids probably really like the looks of these cards.  I can accept the fact that I am a thirty something playing with an app for kids, no shame.  The base card design is not really a deciding factor for me on this product.  In my opinion the best feature of the card is the back.  


Star Wars card obviously do not have stats, but neither do the Bunt cards.  I have stopped even flipping the Bunt cards over to the back.  I know there is a bunch of fantasy points and the what-not that I am not interested on the other side.  The Panini Dunk cards have actual basketball stats and include the players performance in their latest game.  While there are stats on the back, they are not overly complicated.  See kid friendly, again.  Stats on the back is a plus.  


One of the other pluses for me, don't blow it Panini, is the fact that the main emphasis of the app seems to be to put together a complete set of basketball cards.  Imagine that.  Dunk includes a checklist that is broken down by team showing the percentage of cards from each team that the collector has in their collection.  You can also see your progress in chart form......


Again, this seems really kid friendly with the circles and the pie pieces around the edges to indicate whether or not the collectors have finished the team sets.  Again, the fact that the product places a square focus on collecting a set is a real positive in my book.  This concept seems to be lacking in most of the digital products I have experienced.  

Let's talk about the subsets and inserts.  The subsets are all draft related and count towards your completion of the set.  The Karl-Anthony Towns card shown in the picture below is one of the Draft cards in the set.  



The inserts are not bad to collect either.  It seems like Topps and Star Wars Card Trader have new inserts daily.  Right now, Panini Dunk has the Prestige set.  It has the feel of a parallel set, those things that Topps overkills with pink and camo, but not every card in the set has a Prestige parallel.  Does that make it a skip parallel?  Collectors can use credits to upgrade base cards to get the Prestige cards, pull them out of packs, or trade for them.  There is a trade area on the app.  Here's a look at the Prestige cards....



Overall, this is a really nice app.  It's definitely got a lot of kid appeal to it, but set that aside and consider the fact that it is the only card app that focuses on building a set.  The cards have actual stats on them.  The inserts and subsets are simplistic and not difficult to find.  Best of all, this is a free app.  If you have not checked out this item give it a try.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Island of the Misfit Toys

Over the past month I have managed to add two different cool Durham Bulls giveaways to my collection.  I picked up both items at a significant discount due to the fact that both items had some imperfections.  They arrived at my house and were set on the coffee table in my baseball card room away from the rest of my bobbleheads which are displayed on shelves.  My kindergarten son was playing in my baseball card room the one morning and equated the two broken items with the Island of Misfit Toys from the Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer movie.


Seems about right.  First, here is what I started out with when the Bill Evers statue and Jeremy Hellickson bobble head arrived at my house.  Let's start with the Bill Evers.  


The Bulls have been fortunate with their leadership on the field and Evers was a huge part of their success.  This item was a giveaway to celebrate the team's back to back International League titles in 2002 and 2003.  Those teams were anchored by players like Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, Johnny Gomes, and current Bulls manager Jared Sandberg.  The statue part of Evers was actually in pretty good shape.  All the body parts are attached and there were no major flaws with the paint or finish being scrapped off.  Here's a glance at the back of the statue.   


The real problem with the Bill Evers giveaway was the statue.  Their is a little guy who sits on top of the trophy.  It came in the packaging, but was just not attached.  It is a small piece, so I had my doubts that this could be repaired.  For the price I paid for the item is was a good gamble.


The Hellickson bobble was just simply missing it's head.  While I was not a resident of Durham at the time of the Evers statue, I did live here during at the time the Hellickson was given away.  I even had a ticket plan with the Bulls that summer, so I should have ended up with this item.  My son arrived a little earlier than expected that summer, so Bulls tickets kind of went by the wayside.  Friends enjoyed the ticket and the bobblehead, but I knew I would end up stumbling across one sooner or later.  



Both the head and body of the Hellickson are in really good shape, but they are just separated.  I was pretty sure that I could figure out a way to repair both items.  I was patient, found collectors who had some experience collecting and fixing bobbleheads, and finally took action this weekend.  While Sally Strouthers once offered people a way to get a degree in gun repair, there is apparently no bobblehead repair program.  

Here was my final product.  Hellickson first with his head attached.  Looks like a really nice item.  



I also managed to put the Bill Evers statue together, but there was a little bit of a complication with that item.  Nothing that is making me regret it's presence in my house, but it has a design flaw.  The statue is still the same and I managed to fix up the Governors Cup trophy.    



Okay, so here's the problem with this statue.  First, the statue weighs less than the trophy which makes the item really top heavy and unstable.  The other problem is the hands of Evers on the statue....


The hands on the statue slant downward which makes it really hard to get the trophy to rest in his hands.  I could super glue the statue to the figurine, but I am not going to go there.  For the moment I will find I nice spot for them on my shelf.  

Sunday, November 15, 2015

#MyCardMonday

I love following along with the offseason dealings in Major League Baseball.  It's always fun to see where everyone ends up signing, who's traded, and what your team looks like heading into the next season.  As a Cardinals fan, there have not been many disappointing off seasons over the past decade.  I mean there was that one year that they signed Kip Wells and Adam Kennedy, but they generally seem to do well with trades and signings.

One of the first things I do when the Cardinals add a new player is to run out and find their cards.  Sometimes I am happy with just adding a token autograph, but there are other times I feel obligated to go beyond just find a few cards.

Mark McGwire.  I was all in from day one.

Jim Edmonds.  Token autograph to start, all in by the middle of his first year.

Scott Rolen.  All in right away.

Matt Holliday.  All in right away.

Those four players seemed to work out well for the Cardinals on the field and were fun for me as a baseball card collector.  Still, there were a few other players who did not work out as well beyond the aforementioned Kip Wells, his friends call him "Kipper", and Adam Kennedy.  There was also this guy....



I loved the idea of the Cardinals trading for Mark Mulder.  The tall left hander was a great pitcher for the A's and seemed to be just the thing to put the team over the top after losing in the World Series to the Red Sox.  Within months of the trade I had all sorts of Mulder cards.  He has a ton of autographs, but my collection started with this 2003 Donruss Signature which I actually pulled out of a pack of cards when the product was released a few years prior.

Mulder has been a pretty generous signer over the years and I had a lot of fun picking up his autographs along with other cool looking base cards and inserts.  Really fun player to collect, but unfortunately a shoulder injury wrecked his career.  Every collector has some player, or set, in their collection that they totally missed on.  Mine was Mark Mulder, but I do not regret it for a minute.  Find new players to collect is one of the best parts of the hobby.  Even when they do not pan out.

Who was your favorite collection flame out?  

Podcast Episode 7: Bowman Draft and MLB Hot Stove

Topps Pitches A One-Hitter

One of my favorite products last year was the Topps High Tek product.  I loved the Tek sets in the late 1990s and was ecstatic to see Topps relaunch the product last year.  I picked up a whole bunch of the Cardinals last year from both the base set and a few of the autographs too.  When I saw it on the card release calendar again this year I was ready to buy or trade in order to pick up some cards from the set.  Then I read the checklist and Topps nearly shut me out again.  Nearly.  

It appears that checklist contains only one Cardinals card and zero Rays cards.  How does this happen that Topps decides to completely exclude a team from a product?  I somewhat get the Rays being shut out occasionally, but the Cardinals?  Well, they are not quite shut out in this year's set.  I did manage to pick up the single Cardinals card in the base set.....



Ozzie also has an autograph in the set.  I am sure it will make it's way into my collection at some point.  I guess I was not completely shut out this time, just more of a one hitter.  I am not sure what other autographs I will add from the Tek set, but there are some decent other options outside of my favorite two teams.  

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Patches From Jimmy Ballgame

Two posts in a row with Jim Edmonds.  I came home from work yesterday and completely forgot that I had landed a card of the former Cardinals centerfielder sometime last week.  I was actually looking at another card from a seller on Ebay and I always scan their other items.  You never know when you will see something worthwhile and can save a little money with some combined shipping.  This was the case with my latest Jimmy Ballgame.  The original card I was looking at was small potatoes and a single I needed for a set.  Here is the newest Jim Edmonds card in my collection......




I have always really liked the patch cards in UD Premier and have a few others floating around the baseball card boxes in my house.  I really like the patch piece on the right side of the card.  Two colors on a patch is always better than one.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Five (Really Eight): Cardinals on the Hall of Fame Ballot

The results of the Hall of Fame balloting are a ways away, but it's one of the funniest things to debate as a baseball fan.  Sure, there are always a few slam dunks and a few obvious duds.  It's the middle ground where the fun debates take place.  I will do a post later on about the players on the ballot I would vote for if I were allowed to vote, but for this blog post I am going to focus on the eight players who appeared in a Cardinals uniform.  I will go over a few key stats and give you my take on whether or not they deserve any consideration.

Players are listed in alphabetical order, not by their actual chances of making it into the Hall.

David Eckstein (2005-2007)





















Pros: Eckstein won two World Series rings, one with the Angels in 2002 and another with the Cardinals in 2006.  This diminutive shortstop played with a lot of effort and made up for some of the physical gifts that he lacked.  His biggest accomplishment was winning the 2006 World Series MVP.

Cons: Eckstein only played 10 years and had a career slash line of .280/.345/.355 with an OPS+ of 87.  His career WAR is 25.8, not close to Hall of Fame standards.  Surprisingly, his dWAR was in the positive in spite of the fact that he had to shot put the ball to first base.  JAWS rates him as the 112th best shortstop of all-time sandwiched in between Ozzie Guillen and Jeff Blauser

Chances of Hall of Fame:  (0.01%) Thank you for the 2006 World Series and that cool stretching routine you did in front of the dugout before games.  Enjoy your retirement.


Jim Edmonds (2000-2007)



















Pros: Edmonds helped the Cardinals win the 2006 World Series and the 2004 National League Championship.  He was the premier defensive centerfielder in the National League for almost a decade.  Overall, Jimmy Ballgame won 8 Gold Gloves manning center for the Cardinals.  His career slash line of .284/.376/.527 is fairly impressive when added to his 393 home runs and 437 doubles.  His career 132 OPS+ and 60.3 WAR show that Edmonds had a very good career.  JAWS rates him as the 14th best center fielder of all-time.  He is really hurt by the fact that he was very good during his peak years.

Cons: The biggest knock against Edmonds is his longevity in the game.  If he had just a few more years at, or close to, his peak production numbers I think he is a slam dunk Hall of Famer.  He rates on the outer edge of the Hall of Fame center fielders in the JAWS rankings and is also below the mark in all of the Hall of Fame Statisical measures such as Grey Ink, Hall of Fame Monitor, and Hall of Fame Standards.

Chances of Hall of Fame: (50%) It should be much higher than that number, but I do not think that certain factions of Hall of Fame voters will ever get past the fact that Edmonds does not have a single Hall of Fame 'benchmark" and some of his counting numbers, like he's under 2000 career hits, and I am not sure he will ever pass.  If I had a vote I would put him in, but I think Edmonds sits on the ballot for awhile.

Troy Glaus (2008-2009)










Pros: Glaus had some really nice years while he was with the Angels.  His best moment was easily the 2002 World Series where he was named the Series MVP and helped finish off a huge rally for the Halos in Game 6.  His lone full season in St. Louis was actually pretty decent with 27 home runs, 99 RBIS, 33 doubles, and a slash line of .270/.372/.483.  

Cons: There is not much bad to say about Glaus, but he was just simply a nice player during his 13 year career.  He was a decent third baseman and had some pop.  Nothing wrong with a third baseman that can hit 30 home runs and give you a slugging percentage around .500.  Thirteen years of above average is still not good enough for the Hall.  Sorry Troy.  

Chances of the Hall: (5%) There are innovators in the Hall of Fame.  I am pretty sure that Troy Glaus was the first player to ever get equestrian fees for his spouse covered in their baseball contract.  If that's not Hall worthy than Troy is likely going to be off the ballot after this vote.  

Mark Grudzielanek (2005)










 


Pros: One of my Friday Five posts needs to rank the players from the Cardinals revolving door era at second base.  Mark Grudzielanek had a name that Harry Carey could not pronounce, he once led the National League in doubles with 54 in 1997, and he played for the Cardinals for one summer.  He had a long name....I got nothing.

Cons: His career OPS+ is 90 and his career WAR is 26.3.  JAWS ranks him as the 76th best second baseman of all-time slightly ahead of my favorite Pirates second baseman Johnny Ray.  He's just behind Steve Sax and Bret Boone.  

Chances of the Hall: (0%) Next.  

Mark McGwire (1997-2001) 









Pros: Home Runs and Home Run Records.

Cons: Steroids with a side of strikeouts.

Chances of the Hall: (Sigh)

Lee Smith (1990-1993) 

















Pros: Lee Smith record 478 career saves.  Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times was originally one of the biggest proponents of Smith being in Hall called him the best one inning pitcher in the history of the game.  He had several great seasons as a closer.  Most notably his 193 season with the Cubs when he posted an ERA+ of 229 and a WAR of 4.8, and his 1990 season when he split time between the Cardinals and Red Sox.  There were other good years in there where he recorded a lot of saves, but that was his real dominate statistic.  He did strikeout almost a batter per inning during his career.

Cons: So much to put here, but I am going to be nice.  One of my biggest problems with Lee Smith was the latter years of his career.  I hate to rely on anecdotal observations on a post dealing with Hall of Fame credentials, but I am going to good ahead and do it.  I was a sixteen year old high school kid in 1993.  It was lean times to be a Cardinals fan.  I used to go to games with my dad every Sunday.  It didn't matter if the Cardinals got the lead in the game, you know Lee Smith was going to find a way to blow it.  The most painful I recall was a game against the Dodgers where Rene Arocha, imagine his name dropped in a post about the Hall of Fame, pitched a great game.  Smith came in walked a few people, threw a few wild pitches, and the Cardinals lost.  It was actually pretty common at the end of his career.  JAWS rates him as the 14th best relief pitcher of all-time.  He's behind Greg Swindell and Kerry Wood.

Chances of Hall of Fame: (No) Let me fix that since this is a nice post.  (Please, not Lee Smith)

Larry Walker (2004-2005)



















Pros: There are many things to like about Larry Walker's candidacy for the Hall of Fame.  His career slash line of .313/.400/.565, an OPS+ of 141, and a career WAR of 72.6 merit consideration.  JAWS has him rated as the 10th best right fielder of all-time and two of the Hall of Fame Statisitics, the Monitor and Standards both score him above their likely to average Hall of Famer.  Black and Grey Ink have him just short.  Comparing him to some of his right field peers, he has a WAR and an OPS+ in the neighborhood of Al Kaline and Reggie Jackson.  He's slightly ahead of those two in OPS+, but behind them slightly in WAR.  He ranks higher than Dave Winfield, Tony Gwynn, and Ichiro in both statistics.   Walker also won a National League MVP in 1997 along with seven Gold Gloves, and three Silver Sluggers.

Cons: Some of the arguments against Larry Walker are similar to Jim Edmonds.  He played 17 years, but had several seasons where he missed half of the year.  When you compare his counting numbers against his right field peers he doesn't have a benchmark number to grab a certain group of Hall voters.  There are not 500 home runs or 3000 hits.  He played in almost a 1000 games less than both Jackson and Kaline who both reached one of the old-school "automatic" numbers.  Then there is Coors Field.  His home away slash line at home for his career is .348/.431/.637 versus a road slash line of .278/.370/.495.  That's a pretty big gap.

Chances of Hall of Fame: (50%) I would put Larry Walker into the Hall of Fame, but I am doubtful that certain voters will go for a player without a benchmark number who played a large number of games in Coors Field.  He definitely ranks favorably amongst Hall of Fame right fielders.

Randy Winn (2010) 



















Pros: He was once traded for Lou Pinella and he was also on the Durham Bulls for awhile.

Cons: Why was Randy Winn on the Cardinals again?

Chances of the Hall: (0.00001%) He did hit for the cycle once.