Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Venerable Old Card Part 46

It's February and I live in North Carolina.  Not only do I live in North Carolina, but I can drive thirty minutes from my house and be on the campuses of three schools that have won a combined 12 National Championships in basketball.  Yet, I am not really feeling the whole basketball thing right now.  My team is having a disastrous season with no chance of making the NCAA tournament, although they could win the ACC Tournament, but that is just not going to happen.....

I have started to dig deep into the card collection.  Namely, I have been sorting out all sorts of late 1980s and 1990s baseball card sets.  The whole decade of the 1990s, not really just the later parts.  It's amazing how many cards I amassed during this time.  There are sets that I thought were surely complete in my collection, but after further review they are missing cards.  There are other sets that are complete and after sorting out the boxes of cards I have found that I have several copies of certain sets.  

The most ridiculous thing that I found in this sorting was the fact that I owned something like 30 copies of a certain Edgar Renteria card.  I have no idea how all of these cards got into my collection.  I hate these types of Ebay listing and avoid them like the plague.....


Hate it, hate it, hate it.  What does someone do with 50 copies of one card?  I give cards away to kids at work and I also wallpaper the door of my classroom with duplicate baseball cards.....


If you have never figured out what I do for a living, here it is......

So, what card do I have 30 copies of?  This card is cool, but not 30 copies cool....



I am a huge fan of this set, so my first thought is that I might have opened that many packs of these cards back when I was in college.  However, after checking out the rest of the box that I had this card in, I have one other complete set of Skybox EX-2001 cards, but I do not have more than 5 of any other card.  Seems doubtful that I pulled these out of packs, even with some sort of odd poor packaging, not buying it.  

At this point I have I have moved on from where these came from and shifted to what should happen to this stack of Edgar cards. One thought is to re-wallpaper my door with baseball cards using Edgar.  Currently it is covered in basketball players who are having a bad season...




revisit the first paragraph of this post to review my thoughts on the matter....

I am not sure if 30 cards is enough Edgars to cover the space on the door.  Thinking of someway to also feature the back of the card as well as the front of the card.....


Pretty sure that my co-workers and students would love to check out Edgar's stats from 1997 while walking through my door.  The Marlins did win the World Series that year and Edgar did have a walk off Series winning hit.  Perhaps I could fit a small video screen into one of the windows on my door to provide this video......



playing on a loop.  Would it be distracting?  Yes.  Would everyone stop and stare at the door?  Yes.  At this point I am going to get a roll of Scotch tape, my stack of Skybox EX Edgar cards I try to do something cool with them.  I will let you know how it turns out, maybe it will work, or maybe I will just hand each one of my students an Edgar card and tell them to use it as a backmark.  After all, these cards are plastic....kind of old school too to use baseball cards as bookmarks.  



Project Durham Bulls #10: Matt Andriese


Matt Andriese 2014-2016 



Background- 
Andriese was originally drafted by the Padres in the 2011 Draft, but was traded to the Rays during January of 2014, along with Logan Forsythe and Brad Boxberger, in exchange for Alex Torres and Jesse Hahn.  Pretty good trade for the Rays.  Andriese started out his time in the Rays Minor League system with the Durham Bulls.  He played the entire 2014 season with the team going 11-8 with a 3.77 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 162.1 innings.  His 2015 season was split between Durham and Tampa, 2016 he had a brief appearance with the Bulls, but spent almost the entire season with the Rays.  Andriese has been an end of rotation starter with the Rays.  With the rotation getting a little crowded this year I am guessing he might be a bullpen arm this year.  Last year he pitched 10 games out the the bullpen.  

Card-
Andriese does not have a ton of autographs, so I am happy to be able to post a card of him for this series of threads, but it's not like I had a ton of choices.  Yes, it's a Topps base autograph that are a dime a dozen and super cheap.  The card actually has a featured stat on the side that is from the Minor Leagues, but it's from his time in Lake Elsinore.  Can't win them all.  


A picture of Andriese pitching against the Charlotte Knights from 2014.  He's the shadowy player on the mound.  Is that Matt Davidson batting?  


Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Five: Top 5 Players From the Mark Gottfried Era

What was sort of more than a rumor last weekend became reality Thursday as my alma mater NC State moved on from basketball coach Mark Gottfried.  The former ESPN analyst, also coached at Alabama and Murray State, has been in Raleigh for six years.  He made the NCAA Tournament four times, with two trips to the Sweet Sixteen, but failed to make it last year.  This year has been a complete disaster in spite of a roster that is deep and loaded with talent.

I already made a list about the Top 5 Gottfried Era players two and a half years ago, so I figured I would update it this week since we have officially reached the end.  Plus, only one player from that list would actually make my list today.

Here goes in order.....

5. Trevor Lacey SG 2013-2014

Lacey only was on the court for one season in Raleigh after transferring in from Alabama.  He left for the NBA after his junior year, but was not drafted and now plays professionally in Italy.  During his one season with the Wolfpack Lacey led the team to a Sweet 16 appearance that included a win against top seeded Villanova in the second round. Lacey was named 2nd Team ACC and averaged a little more than 15 points a game.  While his point total was not high, he was rated as one the best late game shooters and isolation scorers according to several college basketball analytical sites.  My favorite moment of Lacey's was this game winner against Georgia Tech.....




4. Malik Abu F 2014-current

Abu is a double-double waiting to happen every night.  The springy power forward was a big recruit for Gottfried and has been in the rotation since the day he stepped onto campus.  He is just a junior, but will undoubtedly leave State after this year for the NBA.  Fun player to watch, great in game dunker....




3.  Cat Barber PG 2013-2016

Barber was a little guard with lots of speed.  When he first showed up at State he could just run really fast.  By the time he left for the NBA he had a nice jump shot along with the ability to create scoring chances for others.  If the Wolfpack had been a better team last year he might have won the ACC Player of the Year Award.  At least gotten stronger consideration.  During his last season in Raleigh he averaged more than 23 points and almost 5 assists per game.  If I made my list based on likability Barber would be first.  I was also always proud of Barber's work in the classroom.  He openly talked about working towards a degree in social work and finishing college to become the first person from his family to graduate.



1B. Dennis Smith Jr. 2016-current

I have a feeling that Smith will be the best player on this list after he gets into the NBA next season.  The point guard out of Fayetteville, North Carolina is a special player and worth an hour or two of your time if you have not seen him play this year.  I simply put him second because the the player in front of him as more hardware and more tournament wins.  It's doubtful State makes the Tournament this year, outside of a conference tournament win, which is a shame to waste a player this talented.  My favorite game of his this year has to be his performance in Durham against Duke.



1A. T.J. Warren F 2012-2014

2014 ACC Player of the Year.  End of story, the best scorer and player NC State has had since........averaged almost 25 and 7 his final year at State.  He did play against other teams, but it seemed like he just outdid himself in terms of scoring every time he took the court during the 2013-2014 season.







Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Babe Ruth of Winston-Salem

Wake Forest did not quite finish last every year that Will Craig was playing baseball for the Demon Deacons, but the team only finished at .500 once during his three years in Winston-Salem.  There place in the standings had nothing to do with Craig's on-field performance as much as it did with the fact that the Deacons are a little short on talent and play in one of the tougher baseball conferences.

He hits, he pitches, he was the greatest Wake Forest baseball player to ever don Deacs uni....



Craig was the ACC Player of the Year in 2015 and was a 1st Team All-American in 2015 and 2016.  While he did not take home any of the big hardware in college baseball, he was certainly deserving of consideration for awards like the Golden Spikes and Dick Howser Trophy.  In the end he did take home the D1Baseball National Player of the Year which is sort of like that time Ernie Banks won the MVP award when the Cubs finished in last place.  

I'm not sure how Will Craig will fair as a Major League player, but the Pirates picked him up towards the end of the 1st Round in last summer's amateur draft.  While he can hit and pitch, the Pirates have made him a full time position player, so for the moment he will have to just be Babe Ruth at the plate...I'm sure he can talk his way into pitching at some point.  

While Craig was one of the better players in the ACC over his three years in college, the Wake Forest star never appeared in any baseball card sets up until last year.  I was a little disappointed that he never appeared on any USA Baseball teams, but now that he's in the Minors it's time to catch up with some of his cards.  

I just picked up my first autograph of the former Wake Forest hitter/pitcher.  



I was happy to see Topps include the Pirates third baseman in their end of year Bowman products.  They even did a pretty good job of airbrushing his Pirates uni over his Wake Forest uni.  Craig had a nice start to his professional career last summer, so he should continue to appear on baseball cards for the foreseeable future.  In just over 200 at-bats in A ball Craig posted a .280/.412/.362 slash line.  The power is a little disappointing, but no complaints about 40 walks in 200 at bats.  

No pitching appearances.  

Will Craig is the stuff of legends in Winston-Salem and many in central North Carolina are eager to see what will become of his professional career.  While he was sort of a modern day Babe Ruth during his college career, many ACC baseball fans would take a nice solid professional career for the greatest college baseball player in the history of Wake Forest.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Project Durham Bulls #9: Bob Boone


1969 Raleigh-Durham Phillies 

Background- 
Back in the day, the late 1960s, there was a Minor League team in Raleigh and a Minor League team in Durham.  The team in Raleigh was in some financial difficulty, so someone came up with the great idea of having the Durham Bulls split their time between Durham and Raleigh.  The idea actually started out in 1968 when the New York Mets renamed their Carolina League team the Raleigh-Durham Mets.  A year later the franchise changed affiliations, changed team names, but kept up the half-Raleigh and half-Durham schedule.  

The Durham games were played in the Durham Athletic Park which is now home to the North Carolina Central University's baseball team.....


also where the Bull Durham movie was filmed.  The Raleigh games were played at Devereux Meadows which is now just a concrete wall with fixtures hanging out of it and a parking lot for the city of Raleigh.  


The long time Major League catcher Bob Boone appeared on the 1969 Raleigh-Durham Phillies.  The team ended up finishing second in their half of the Carolina League, but had some outstanding players on the roster including Boone and Greg Luzinksi.  Boone lasted 80 games in the Tar Heel State and posted a .300/.341/.400 slash line with 5 home runs, 13 doubles, and 46 RBIs.  He was promoted to Double A Reading in the Eastern League and was with the Phillies by the end of the 1972 season.  Boone would go on to enjoy a 19 year career in Major League Baseball with the Phillies, Angels, and Royals.  

Card- 
There have been way too many Archives products lately.  I had no real intentions of buying any more of them until I ran across these photo looking cards for cheap.  I was already buying one of them, but I like to save on shipping, so I got two of them instead.  Really, at this point I am walking around with a list of players who were on the Durham Bulls and trying to track down an autograph of as many as possible.  The older members of the team are challenging, but their cards are still out there waiting to be found.  Boone is the first non-Rays/Devil Rays member of the Bulls to be included in this project.  

Monday, February 13, 2017

One-Third Of A No-No

I have been fortunate enough to witness two no-hitters in person since I started this blog a few years back.  The first no-hitter was thrown by Cubs pitcher Mike Montgomery while he was pitching for the Durham Bulls.  The second was a combined no-hitter between three college baseball players playing for the USA Baseball Collegiate team.  Ever since the no-hitter thrown by Montgomery I have enjoyed collecting his cards.  The same would have been true of the college players except they weren't really on too many cards at the time....

Two and half years later and two of the three players from the USA Baseball no-hitter have made their way into the Minors.  I finally have a chance to collect a few of their cards.  A.J. Puk was selected near the top of the first round by the A's and Ryan Hendrix was picked by the Reds.  Tanner Houck is in his final year at Mizzou.

I have posted a few Ryan Hendrix cards this past summer almost immediately after the draft.  I have held out a bit on Puk since he was a highly regarded prospect and his USA Baseball cards tended to run a little bit higher than most of the other cards in those products.

Puk has popped up in some of the late year Bowman products and his cards are much more affordable now.  So, I finally picked up my first autograph of the top pitching prospect......



This is also my first autograph from last year's Bowman's Best.  It's an airbrushed picture from his time at the University of Florida, but still a good looking card.  I have high hopes that A.J. Puk will be a good Major League pitcher, but if not, I still always have the no-hitter....

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Venerable Old Card Part 45

I have spent a lot of time on late 1980s and early 1990s cards recently.  I have a few upcoming posts with even more cards from this era coming up over the next week or two.  So much fun to look through and find cool players from some of the different sets from this era.  This week my baseball card sorting time was partially spent flipping through some 1991 Fleer Ultra cards.

Ultra was one of those "premium" sets from that era, so there were many cards that were fun to look at, but one card stood out to me.  Not a Cardinal at the time, but shortly after this card was made Mark Whiten earned a permanent spot in Cardinals folklore.

The Ultra set featured his rookie card with the Blue Jays......



It's a little weird to see Mark on the Jays since he really only spent a pair of partial seasons with the team before he was traded to the Indians.  My first memories of Whiten came with the Indians in the early 1990s.  The Tribe had an outfield of Whiten, Kenny Lofton, and Albert Belle.  Pretty impressive trio of young players.  The Indians ended up flipping him around to the Cardinals for pitcher Mark Clark.


The four home run game was one of the few bright spots for the early 1990s Cardinals.  Whiten is still remembered far and wide by Cardinals fans for this one single game.  The rest of his time in St. Louis was spent looking for consistent performance on offense.  Whiten was a defensive whiz which kept him in the starting in the starting lineup for the Cardinals and kept him around in the league after the Birds shipped him off to the Red Sox where he became a fourth outfielder.  

One of the "premium" features of the Fleer Ultra cards was the picture set up on the back of the card....


The picture of Whiten on the back of the card was very typical of what Whiten looked like at the plate.  Standing flat footed, not very much movement, but he somehow seemed to generate a lot of power when he made contact.  

Great card, cool player, good memories.  More 1990s cards later this week.  

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Snapshots of A D-Back

I ran across a unique looking pair of cards a few days back that were friendly on the wallet and featured two players who I felt kind of fit into my collection.  I am going to put off one of the cards for a few days, he's going to be an old school Durham Bulls post, but I will cover the other card now.

The other player had a little bit more notoriety around baseball up until missing last season.  As a Cardinals fan, whose biggest need this off season was a new centerfielder, I would have loved to have seen A.J. Pollock end up on the team.  I am still cool with Dexter Fowler.

Beyond being a pretty good player on the Diamondbacks Pollock was also a nice player during his time at Notre Dame.  Apparently they are in the ACC for baseball, little bitter about their free loading the conference for football games, even though Pollock appeared for the Irish during their time in the Big East.  Y'all know I make quite a few posts about ACC baseball players.....

In all of those posts I have never once dedicated a post to a former Notre Dame player.  Are there even that many of them hanging around the Majors?  I actually had to go look because the only two I know are the player on my latest autographed card and Jeff Smardzija.  Oh, Brad Lidge too.....


it also turns out that John Axford went to Notre Dame.  Since he was a Cardinal, there are actually posts of him on here from long ago......




I had actually had my eye out for a Pollock autograph for awhile.  I really enjoy watching him play.  Since he missed last season there has been a bit of a slide on the price of Pollock autographs.  Now seemed like a great time to pick one up.  There were several to choose from floating around on the internet, but I chose a copy of his Archives Snapshot card.  

How many Archives products did Topps put out last year?  This is the third that I know of, and while I am not out to find all of these, I kind of dig the look of these cards.  First, they have an on-card autograph.  Always a plus for any autograph coming into the collection.  Second, the cards have a pretty simple look.  White border, nice color picture that is unique to the card.  I know people have dubbed these the polaroid cards.......



with my Pollock card in hand I am ready for him to return to the field for the Diamondbacks this year.  Hopefully he can stay on the field.  As for his alma mater, they play Duke and NC State in South Bend, and miss UNC altogether.  They do have some tournament that they "host" with USA Baseball down the street from my house that NC State also participates in.  Hopefully it will turn out as well as the State-Notre Dame football game.....


minus the whole hurricane thing though....they probably wouldn't play the game if that happened.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Few Thoughts On 2017 Topps......

The 2017 Topps base set dropped last week and I went out and picked up a jumbo box and a few loose retail packs.  Always a fun day when the Topps set drops and I had a blast opening up my packs.  Here's my quick take on the newest Topps product....

First, when I bought my jumbo box of Topps I also ended up picking up two silver packs of cards.  The silver packs were available at hobby shops and were given to customers buying boxes 2017 Topps.  Each pack contained four cards of 1987 style cards with a chrome finish.

My best card was Dansby Swanson.....



My scanner did not want to make a straight picture, sorry it's crooked.  I also landed Max Scherzer, Orlando Arcia, Madison Bumgarner, Manny Machado, Aaron Nola, Yu Darvish, and Nolan Ryan.  Very nice cards in my opinion.  You cannot really show card stock on a scan, but they are a little thicker than the normal chrome cards.  The back of the card has a little different finish then the front, but again really nice cards.  

On to the base cards.....



My first card of 2017 belonged to Marlins pitcher A.J. Ramos.  I am still a little contemplating the design, but it is definitely different for a Topps base set.  It looks like something from Upper Deck or some other card company.  I will get back to the card backs on another post.  I am a little snarky about it.  

Buybacks....



There seem to be new buybacks every year now with some sort of foil stamp.  The stamps are different colors, blah blah blah.  I saw that there is a pretty diverse group of players included in the buybacks this year, always hopeful a Ray Lankford card will pop up, but apparently not this year.


The relic cards are thicker this year, but I am kind of tired of the whole relic thing.  I know a lot of other people are too.  At least it's Longoria.....



Also a little tired of the manu-patch, relic cards that seem to be in every Topps box now.  I thought all of the All-Star type cards were in the Traded/Update set?  They have spilled over into series 1 now too?  I guess they made the metal relic thing two sided, that's my positive take away here....

and finally my two best pulls from the box.  Parallel first.....




I haven't really done anything with Gary Sanchez before now, I know he's popular with collectors, but I don't think there are many of his cards hanging out around my house.  This seems like a good addition for my first good card of the Yankees catcher.

Last up my autograph...


can't end on a better note than pulling an autograph of a player you have started collecting in the past year.  I am hoping for big things out of Alex this year, would have picked this card up at some point anyway, glad I can save a little time and energy.

Monday, February 6, 2017

A Venerable Old Card Part 44

Yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday.  It's the first Sunday since 1995 that I have not had an NFL team to call my own.  I have lost two different NFL teams during my lifetime, the Cardinals and the Rams, so I am just going to ignore professional football from this point forward.  I will keep track of a few players I watched at NC State or Mizzou, but other than that my Sundays are now free.

Which reminds me that congratulations in order to former NC State players Jacoby Brissett and Joe Thuney who both won Super Bowl rings last night in their rookie seasons.  Brissett is a back-up quarterback and made a start or two in place of Brady during his suspension.  Thuney was the guard much of the season.

While basketball is the sport of choice in these parts, it's still fun to watch the local football teams too.  This year I managed to make it to games at both NC State and Duke.  Both fun places to watch games.....

Duke has a smaller stadium, but you're close to the field.  When I first moved to North Carolina more than 10 years ago the Blue Devils were terrible.......


but have improved greatly over the last few years since hiring David Cutcliffe to coach the team.  While I was in grad school I had to do an internship in a local school district as a school administrator for the year.  We used to have administrator meetings at the district office, Duke Football would give out tickets at the meetings, not many people took the free tickets.  

I do a lot of posts about NC State, obvious favorite school of the blog.  They have my money, I have a degree.... Probably the best football atmosphere of the four ACC schools in North Carolina.  


Since I do NC State posts all the time, I am going to do a little post on Duke's football team.  Yes, it still has something to do with baseball cards....

For those unfamiliar with Duke's football program, their current coach is David Cutcliffe is excellent, but the best modern coach in the school's history is one Steve Spurrier.  He was always proud of his time at Duke and kept a helmet from his time there in his office....


on the top shelf, left-hand side, white helmet towards the middle.  One of the football's on the shelf is from his last game at Duke which was a 41-0 win over the dreaded Tar Heels.  I am not sure if that team had an NFL players on the roster, but they did have a future Major League outfielder on the roster.....

a defensive back who also returned kicks and punts.  




Quinton McCracken.  

He ended his Duke football career with 5 interceptions and 1 kick off return for a touchdown against Clemson in 1988.  I did not live here at the time McCracken played for the Blue Devils, there have also been some very lean years in their recent history, but many of the avid Duke football fans in my life remember him well.  

Beyond football, McCracken also played baseball for the Dukies and ended up being selected in the 1992 amateur draft by the Colorado Rockies.  He made his way through their system fairly quickly and made his first appearance at the very end of the 1995 season for a brief 3 games.  He went on to play two full seasons with the team before he moved on to the Devil Rays.

While many two sport stars are giving a lot of attention McCracken's football career seemed to generally fly under the radar.  Every once in awhile someone would bring it up, but it's not like he was Deion Sanders, Bo Jackson, Brian Jordan, or Drew Henson.  One late 1990s baseball card broached the topic.....



While the 1997 Topps set is not necessarily one of their better base sets, this card is a pretty cool one for fans of the Duke football program.  Flip the card over to the back and.......


there is mention of his football career on the back of the card.  It also mentions that he was a double major and graduated from the prestigious school in 4 years.  I have no idea what his two Majors were while he was in school at Duke, but there are not really any cheapie degrees at that school.