Wednesday, January 31, 2018

2018 Set Project #1- 2018 Topps 1983 Baseball Cards

I thought that trying to put together some 1983 style cards would be a good place to start with my efforts to assemble a complete set from the 2018 Topps cards.  At some point back in December I made a post about some different things I wanted to accomplish this year with my collection.  The biggest change is getting away from collecting base sets.

My interest has slowly drifted away from the base sets and it's time for a new direction.  The 1983 set was actually one of the first that I collected, so I am really excited about this project.



These are great looking cards.  The 2018 versions of the 1983 Topps cards are also very nice looking cards.  Topps did a good job of getting a lot of the little details right with the rehashed cards....




This Matt Carpenter card is not actually mine, so I have all 100 cards left to collect.  For the moment I am going with the regular inserts and not the Silver Pack Chrome versions.  If at some point I finish the insert set version, I might go back and pick up the cards from the Silver Packs.  Not now, I am going to be focused....

There are Cardinals and former Durham Bulls players in the autograph parallels, but some are already former players (Aledmys Diaz) and others are on stickers.  Not sure I am going to go after some of these yet.  The two that are on my list for sure are Jacob Faria and Steven Souza.  Both are on-card and I am fairly confident I will actually have these two cards crossed off my list by the end of the night.

Here's what I am looking for:


83-1 Ryne Sandberg - Chicago Cubs
83-2 Hank Aaron - Atlanta Braves
83-3 Andrew McCutchen - Pittsburgh Pirates
83-4 Mookie Betts - Boston Red Sox
83-5 Jacob deGrom - New York Mets
83-6 Noah Syndergaard - New York Mets
83-7 Frank Thomas - Chicago White Sox
83-8 Khris Davis - Oakland Athletics
83-9 Alex Verdugo - Los Angeles Dodgers
83-10 Eric Thames - Milwaukee Brewers
83-11 Matt Carpenter - St. Louis Cardinals
83-12 Carlos Martinez - St. Louis Cardinals
83-13 Mike Trout - Los Angeles Angels
83-14 Rafael Devers - Boston Red Sox
83-15 Ian Happ - Chicago Cubs
83-16 Clayton Kershaw - Los Angeles Dodgers
83-17 Dominic Smith - New York Mets
83-18 Nolan Ryan - Houston Astros
83-19 Nick Williams - Philadelphia Phillies
83-20 Alex Wood - Los Angeles Dodgers
83-21 Jake Arrieta - Chicago Cubs
83-22 Giancarlo Stanton - Miami Marlins
83-23 Kris Bryant - Chicago Cubs
83-24 Aaron Judge - New York Yankees
83-25 Yu Darvish - Los Angeles Dodgers
83-26 Brian Dozier - Minnesota Twins
83-27 Charlie Blackmon - Colorado Rockies
83-28 Luis Severino - New York Yankees
83-29 Harrison Bader - St. Louis Cardinals
83-30 Rhys Hoskins - Philadelphia Phillies
83-31 Jose Altuve - Houston Astros
83-32 Manny Machado - Baltimore Orioles
83-33 Michael Fulmer - Detroit Tigers
83-34 Kyle Seager - Seattle Mariners
83-35 Nelson Cruz - Seattle Mariners
83-36 Stephen Strasburg - Washington Nationals
83-37 Miguel Sano - Minnesota Twins
83-38 Matt Kemp - Atlanta Braves
83-39 Cal Ripken Jr. - Baltimore Orioles
83-40 Ozzie Albies - Atlanta Braves
83-41 Miguel Cabrera - Detroit Tigers
83-42 Yadier Molina - St. Louis Cardinals
83-43 Andrew Benintendi - Boston Red Sox
83-44 Roy Halladay - Philadelphia Phillies
83-45 Josh Donaldson - Toronto Blue Jays
83-46 Dansby Swanson - Atlanta Braves
83-47 Jose Berrios - Minnesota Twins
83-48 Darryl Strawberry - New York Mets
83-49 Freddie Freeman - Atlanta Braves
83-50 Amed Rosario - New York Mets                                                              
83-51 Buster Posey - San Francisco Giants
83-52 Jeff Bagwell - Houston Astros
83-53 Willie Calhoun - Texas Rangers
83-54 Anthony Rizzo - Chicago Cubs
83-55 Justin Upton - Los Angeles Angels
83-56 Don Mattingly - New York Yankees
83-57 Barry Larkin - Cincinnati Reds
83-58 Nolan Arenado - Colorado Rockies
83-59 Yoan Moncada - Chicago White Sox
83-60 Justin Turner - Los Angeles Dodgers
83-61 Felix Hernandez - Seattle Mariners
83-62 Sandy Koufax - Los Angeles Dodgers
83-63 Kenta Maeda - Los Angeles Dodgers
83-64 Robinson Cano - Seattle Mariners
83-65 Edwin Encarnacion - Cleveland Indians
83-66 Daniel Murphy - Washington Nationals
83-67 Ichiro - Miami Marlins
83-68 Derek Jeter - New York Yankees
83-69 Tom Glavine - Atlanta Braves
83-70 Clint Frazier - New York Yankees
83-71 Craig Kimbrel - Boston Red Sox
83-72 Didi Gregorius - New York Yankees
83-73 Adam Jones - Baltimore Orioles
83-74 Gary Sanchez - New York Yankees
83-75 Max Scherzer - Washington Nationals
83-76 Ryan McMahon - Colorado Rockies
83-77 Byron Buxton - Minnesota Twins
83-78 Masahiro Tanaka - New York Yankees
83-79 Jose Canseco - Oakland Athletics
83-80 George Springer - Houston Astros
83-81 Kyle Schwarber - Chicago Cubs
83-82 Trea Turner - Washington Nationals
83-83 Paul Goldschmidt - Arizona Diamondbacks
83-84 Bryce Harper - Washington Nationals
83-85 Victor Robles - Washington Nationals
83-86 Javier Baez - Chicago Cubs
83-87 Cody Bellinger - Los Angeles Dodgers
83-88 John Smoltz - Atlanta Braves
83-89 Bo Jackson - Kansas City Royals
83-90 J.P. Crawford - Philadelphia Phillies
83-91 Eric Hosmer - Kansas City Royals
83-92 Carlos Correa - Houston Astros
83-93 Chris Sale - Boston Red Sox
83-94 Wil Myers - San Diego Padres
83-95 Francisco Lindor - Cleveland Indians
83-96 Alex Bregman - Houston Astros
83-97 Corey Seager - Los Angeles Dodgers
83-98 Justin Verlander - Houston Astros
83-99 Addison Russell - Chicago Cubs
83-100 Wade Boggs - Boston Red Sox



Tuesday, January 30, 2018

and for no reason, here is Jose.

I was really missing Jose Abreu a few weeks ago.  You guys all remember the White Sox first baseman who was really popular back in 2014?  I loved collecting his cards back then, but so did a lot of other people.  He had some great looking cards back in the day.....




like four years ago.

For awhile I thought he had disappeared completely.  Nobody was talking about Jose anymore.





Apparently he still plays baseball for the White Sox.  Funny, I just don't hear anything about him anymore.  Jose is still good too.  Last season he had 33 home runs, 43 doubles, 102 RBIs, and led the American League in total bases.

So much excitement.  Back then.


I am sure some of Abreu's lack of notoriety these days is due to the fact that he's more or less all alone on the White Sox waiting for their highly regarded farm system to start churning out some help.  Avasail Garica is there too.  Honestly I forgot about him too.

I was recently reminded of Jose.  A few weeks back when I was picking up a card off an Ebay store.  There was a Jose Abreu autograph sitting there for a fraction of what they used to cost three or four years ago.  It was a nice looking card.........





and now it sitting on my desk ready to be filed away with the rest of my autographs.  

This card is from the Heritage 51 set which came out in 2015, sold as a complete set with one autograph per set.  The concept reminds me a lot of the late 1990s/early 2000s traded sets, but the design is borrowing from a vintage Topps set.  In this case, these are based on the 1951 Red Backs.  I know that Topps rehashes these every few years for some set, but they still look nice.  The signature is on card and Abreu has a pretty consistent autograph down to the #79 jersey number.  

Really, this was just a nice looking card of a good player.  It does not really fit in with most of the cards that I normally post on my blog, but there is nothing wrong with just adding a nice card of a nice player just because it's there.  We all need a card like this every once in awhile.  

Sunday, January 28, 2018

I Love The 1990s Cardinals Part 20 - Mike Morgan

Mike Morgan had a fairly interesting career, its just that the two years on the Cardinals were really not all that interesting.  So, let's start out with this:  He played 22 years and almost lost 200 games.  He has the 58th most losses in Major League history.  Most of the players who are ahead of him on the list are either really old, or they were given enough starts to be able to lose that many games.  Greg Maddux and Nolan Ryan are way up there, but both of them are north of 300 wins too.  

He basically a replacement level player for his career, ERA+ of 97, he just has a ton of losses.

The A's drafted Mike Morgan out of high school in 1978.  They also brought him straight up to the Majors a week later.   Literally straight to the Majors.  One day he's pitching a bunch of 16, 17, and 18 year olds in Nevada, the next he was pitching against the Orioles.  



The A's eventually did send Morgan down to the Minors to work on his craft.  It also began is journey  around the Major and Minor Leagues.  He earned the nickname "The Nomad" during the early parts of his career.  From Baseball Reference..... 





That's 12 teams in 22 seasons.  Five of those were with the Chicago Cubs, which narrows it down to 11 teams in 17 years.  He also spent 3 with the Dodgers and 3 with the Diamondbacks.  Take all of those out and you've got 9 teams in 11 seasons.  

Morgan came to the Cardinals in 1995 in exchange for fan base scape goat Todd Zeile, who also went on to be traded what seems like a dozen times in his career.  Pretty sure that's what's going on in this baseball cards...




Morgan pitched for the Cardinals during the last months of the 1995 season and was resigned by the team for 1996.   He had a decent run in St. Louis after coming over from the Cubbies.  He started 17 games, won 5 of them, and had an ERA of 3.88.  Not bad for a pitcher on a last place team.  Morgan did not have a lot of playing time during the 1996 season.  The team retooled when LaRussa took over the manager and the ownership changed over too.  

Morgan was released in August of 1996 and joined the Reds in early September.  So where does that leave us as far as Morgan baseball cards with the Cardinals?  

Actually, in pretty good shape.  

Easily the best card of his time in St. Louis was his appearance in the monolithic per pack autograph 1996 Leaf Signature Series set.  Very nice card of the pitcher.  




I have posted a ton of cards from this set over the years, but never really touched on the Cardinals set as a whole.  That should be a 1990s Cardinals post at some point.  Morgan is one of many players in it who appear as a Cardinal, but you'd probably not associate them with the team.  Mike Gallego, Mark Sweeney, and Rick Honeycutt also would fall into that category off the top of my head.  




My favorite non-autographed card of Mike Morgan has to be his 1996 Stadium Club.  That home Cardinals uniform really pops on the background of this card.  Look at that astroturf.  The 1995 season was the last season that the Cardinals had the fake stuff.  I believe that's John Mabry behind Morgan at first base.  

Last two cards.  Same game, I think, but different angles on the pictures.  Different card companies too.  On the left is his 1996 Fleer card, the right is his 1996 Upper Deck.  Since Morgan only pitched part of a season with the Cardinals in 1995, it was not too difficult to find a game that these two pictures from 1996 baseball cards came from.  That's always a positive when you can trace a card to a specific game.  


Grey road uniform, orange seats.  I am going to go with his August 15th start against the Giants.  Morgan did not pitch terribly, gave up 3 runs in 6 innings, but most of the damage was done by Deion Sanders.  I can accept big plays from Deion in a football game, but not a baseball game.  




A triple, a double, two runs.  No bueno.  

After leaving the Cardinals, Morgan still stuck around and played for the Reds, Twins, back to the Cubs, Rangers, and he ended his career with the Diamondbacks.  He two notable moments at the end of his career.  

First, he gave up Mark McGwire's 61st home run during the 1998 season.  Morgan was pitching with the Cubs at the time.....


Morgan also ended his career with the Diamondbacks in the early 2000s.  Doesn't sound all that exciting, but he did get to pitch in the 2001 World Series and he got a ring.  Morgan ended the Series with 4.2 innings pitched, a 0.00 ERA, and only allowed 1 hit.  




Nice end to a career for a player like Mike Morgan.  

A song off my iPod from 1995.  







I've Been Dreaming Of This Day Since Last June

I was first introduced in-person to Dennis Smith during the fall of 2016.  It was October and I had a former professor at NC State who was trying to unload a pair of tickets to their basketball game against Georgia Southern.  I scooped up the tickets and attended the first college basketball game of the Dallas Mavericks guard.




Smith scored 11 points in 36 minutes.  Not his finest moment as a college basketball player, but he did not play a game his senior year in high school due to a knee injury.  Smith also graduated from high school a semester early and began classes in the spring semester before his freshman year on the court.

Smith's time at State was completely wasted. His most famous play as a Wolfpack player was his dunk at the end of the Duke game.  The basket did not even count since it was after the buzzer.




He has the chance to go down as one of the better players to have put on the Wolfpack uniform, yet they could not even ride his talent to a .500 record.  The coach gave up and got fired, other players stopped playing up to their ability, and Smith left for the NBA.  

Before he left Raleigh, I did manage to enjoy watching Dennis play, while ignoring the rest of the team.  It was a challenge.  

Exciting dunks where he run through entire defenses.  State lost this game to Wake Forest by 30.  



Three pointers that were shot from 6 feet behind the 3 point line.  State lost this game too.  



It was fun to watch a player that talented playing for a team that I follow.  

NC State made a basketball card of their point guard before he left for the NBA.  The school has a table of promotional items on the concourse of the PNC Arena.  All kinds of posters and schedules for the different sports teams are always there, along with a set of basketball cards of one Wolfpack player per game.  The Fayetteville, North Carolina native had a card at some point.  




Someone in promotions at State knows how to make a nice card.  I like the red and white stripes with the black and white Raleigh skyline in the background.  Nice picture of Smith in the front.  The card is a winner.  

I knew after this card, that I would have to wait until someone put out an NBA card of Smith.  In June I started seeing some of the previews for the upcoming NBA card releases.  I was ready to get a Dennis Smith card the first chance I could get one.  

Panini made some basketball cards of Smith this fall.  I was not expecting many NC State cards of him, but have been surprised.  Several have him wearing a State jersey with a Dallas Mavericks logo on the card, but I am still okay with that.  The problem with getting these cards this fall was.......





The price.  

The Snorting Bull is a self-sustained financial operation.  Money for cards comes from money from other cards, so the high end cards that sometimes appear here are either pulled out of packs of cards, or purchased after careful consideration and some time on COMC or Ebay.  

I have no problem sinking money back into baseball cards.  Non-baseball cards always give me pause.  Do I really need this?  Do I like this player that much?  I think I have had to ask myself these questions about two times in the thirty some years that I have collected.  

This is the most expensive basketball card that I owned, prior to what is an obvious Dennis Smith card appearing later in the post, was a T.J. Warren autograph.  




Not sure the T.J. Warren market extends beyond a few people in Raleigh, maybe a few people around Durham (Roll Pirates!!!), and I think people in Phoenix like him too.  Are Suns writers and bloggers still posting stuff about trading a forward averaging 20 points and 6 rebounds a game?  "Damn your 15 foot jumpers and running floaters, threes and dunks!!!"  Not sold on the Phoenix thing.  His cards really are not that expensive.  

For a long time, I could not justify spending $100 on a Dennis Smith basketball card.  Luckily, his cards have gotten considerably less expensive.  I was surprised that they did not hold up in value better since he's scoring about 15 a game with 5 assists with fancy dunks on YouTube.  


There are also now actual Dallas Mavericks autographs of Dennis Smith.  So, his NC State autographed cards are now more like a $30 decision.  Farewell Kyle Schwarber autographs.  Hello Dennis.  




A dream has been realized.  That is probably too far, but I was really excited that this card ended up in my collection.  I did a little bargaining back and forth with an Ebay seller on a Best Offer for the card.  My short essay on how much I love Dennis earned me a slight discount, but it also scored me two other Dennis Smith cards wearing the Wolfpack uniform.....

We have got this game day card.....



Section 190?  Don't think they have one of those at NC State.  Row 62?  Seems like it might be the parking lot.  They should have put J. Cole's seat section and number on the card.  Right?  


  

I like the picture though and the card is red.   A little disjointed with all of the boxes on the front of the card.  It reminds me a little bit of the Fleer Authentix set from the mid 2000s, but not designed as well.  

Next.  




I like this card a lot.  I wish the font on the word "colors" was a little different, but the picture is nice and the general design of the card is nice.  

The two free Dennis Smith cards were great, but this Ebayer truly understood my love of my alma mater and threw in a football card of Matt Dayes as well.  He was a good college player the last few years at State......




but he ended up on the Browns.  He's a pretty powerful back, really strong runner which is why the Browns are using him as kick returner.  SMH.  I like the looks of this card too.  I have the regular base version of this card.  Nice picture of Dayes and the card is not fouled up with a Browns logo, or any other mention of that team and the city of Cleveland.  

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Project Durham Bulls #28 - Lee Gardner


2000-2002, 2005 


Background- 
Lee Gardner is one great Minor League baseball player.  He's someone who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.  He played in parts of four different Major League seasons with the Devil Rays and Marlins starting in 2002, with his last appearances coming during 2008.  In all, he totaled 86 games, just slightly more than 100 innings, and a 4-5 career record.  His career ended with an ERA of 3.01 and he also picked up 2 saves for the Marlins in 2007.  Even though his time in the Majors was limited, Gardner took full advantage of his time in the Minors.  

He was originally signed by the Devil Rays during the summer of 1998 as an undrafted amateur out of the University of Central Michigan.  Gardner made his first appearances for the Bulls during the 2000 season, which coincided with the team's third straight division title in the International League South. His primary role on the team was as a late inning reliever and the Bulls gave him some chances to close out games.  In 2002, Gardner saved 25 games and followed that up the following season with 30.  The Bulls not only won their division in 2002, the team also took home their first International League title since they were bumped up to Triple A in the late 1990s.  The team repeated as the International League Champions in 2003 with Gardner finishing games.  

After a quick stop over with the Giants Triple A team in Fresno in 2004, Gardner returned to the Bulls in 2005.  Over the year he notched another 15 saves. His last two years were spent with the Toledo Mud Hens (Tigers Triple A) and the Florida Marlins.  

Gardner ended his career as the Durham Bull's all-time leader in saves, owns the single season record for saves with 30 in 2003, and won the International League title three times during his run as a closer in the Minors.  He also won with the Mud Hens in 2006.  During the summer of 2017 Gardner was elected to the International League Hall of Fame.  

Card- 
I really love when card companies do something really nice to showcase a player who may not normally appear in their products.  Lee Gardner had an autographed card in the 2001 Royal Rookies set, it is a low budget Minor League per pack auto product, that is not really the nicest card.  If it were the only Lee Gardner autograph out there, it would not be shocking considering that he had a very limited role in the Majors during his baseball career.  

Why was he included in some nice Upper Deck products in 2007?  

I have no idea, but he was a 32 year old pitcher at this point in his career who had spent a considerable amount of time in Triple A.  Hardly the usual player to make an appearance in a nice baseball card product like Upper Deck Exquisite.  This card is actually from the Rookie Edition of the product which had only 6 cards in a box of cards at just a mere $300 per box.  

Did I mention I did not get this card out of a pack?  

This is a card that really has no business in a $300 a box product, but it is nice that Upper Deck rewarded a career Minor Leaguer like Gardner with an appearance in a set.  Probably even nicer that they let him sign some cards.  The next time you get an autograph, find out that's it's an older Minor Leaguer, be nice.  

Monday, January 22, 2018

I Love The 1990s Cardinals Part 19 - Rich Gedman

Every baseball team needs a backup catcher.  In 1990,  the Cardinals had their highly regarded prospect Todd Zeile behind the plate and defensive stand out Tom Pagnozzi on the bench.  The following off season the team moved Zeile to third base to get him out from behind the plate and give Pagnozzi a chance to start.

There was not a good Minor League option at that time, so the Cardinals signed long-time Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman in February of 1991.

Always loved his 1986 card.


Gedman's best years in professional baseball were in the mid 1980s starting in 1984.  He showed the ability to hit with power, ending the 84 season with 24 home runs, 26 doubles, and 72 RBIs, to help the Red Sox win 86 games in a tough American League East.  Gedman was also a good defensive catcher while he was playing in Boston.  His on-field performance helped him earn a spot on the American League All-Star team in 1985 and 1986.

By the late 1980s Gedman was hitting in the low .200s with no power.  The Red Sox traded him the the Astros, where he played 39 games in 1990.  Houston did not resign him and he landed with the Cardinals as a free agent.

I am not even sure how the Cardinals kept Gedman on the roster for both 1991 and 1992.  There have been players cut for far less hitting than Gedman did in his two years for the Cardinals.  In 1991 he hit .106/.140/.213 in 46 games.  Seriously.

Bob Tewksbury, pitcher, hit .155 that season.  Bryn Smith, pitcher, hit .246 with 8 RBIs which tied Gedman.  Omar Oliveras his .226 and Rheal Cormier hit .238.  You get the point.

Gedman actually improved the next season when he returned to the Cardinals.  Having him on the roster was a bad idea in 1991, not sure how he was on the roster in 1992.  Gedman ended the season with a .219/.291/ .286 slash line.

So, on to the baseball cards.  Not even sure how there were Gedman baseball cards in a Cardinals uniform, but I managed to narrow down to a final two cards.  Yes, there are several.

First up is a 1991 Leaf card.




I like the grey border on these cards.  Really simple designs are nice sometimes.  Plus, Rich Gedman is on the card.  I get the 1991 cards were based on his numbers the previous season with the Red Sox and Astros, but those were nearly as bad as the numbers he had as a Cardinal.

Last card.



Not only did Gedman get a baseball card for hitting .100 during a season, it's actually in a nice set.  If only Fleer were not bankrupt these days, we could ask what got Gedman into the set.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Farewell Randal

The Cardinals traded for Randal Grichuk after the 2013, picking him up from the Angels in exchange for David Freese.  Peter Bourjos and Fernando Salas were in there too.  Most Cardinals fans were excited about the trade.  The Cardinals do not really dabble in speedy players these days, quite a departure from the 1980s teams, so Bourjos was an exciting player, and Grichuk seemed like he was a good prospect with a lot of tools.

The tool most often mentioned with Grichuk upon his arrival in St. Louis was his power.  Well, also he was drafted one spot in front of Mike Trout in the 2009 MLB draft.  As a card collector, I was intrigued.  I sipped the Kool-Aid, dipped my toe into the pool, and picked up a Randal Grichuk autograph.



I had some high hopes for this card.  He was not the cheapest rookie card floating around out there, and if he were on any other team I would have passed on this card by in a second, but for a Cardinals player I was all in.  I am usually really good with buying and passing on Minor Leaguers, I completely missed here.  I was thinking as a fan of the Cardinals and not from the numbers on the stat sheer.

It was easy to get excited about Randal.  He hits home runs.




His first time up with the Cardinals for an extended period of time was in 2015.  He hit 17 home runs in just over 300 at bats.  What's not to love about that?  Sure, he struck out more than 100 times in those 300 at bats, didn't walk, but I was willing to look the other direction a little bit longer.  

Plus, he had even more cool baseball cards.  




That's a nice looking card and it cost way less than my Bowman autograph of him.  I was still feeling pretty good about the prospects of Randal hitting a lot of home runs and becoming a good player.  

Really, he was the same player the entire time.....  




even while he was in the Minors.  

Randal does hit home runs.  Randal does strike out.  That's what he does, that's what he has always done, and it's likely what he is to do when he gets to Toronto.  It's not the worst thing in the world, but at the moment the Cardinals have Tommy Pham, Marcell Ozuna, and Dexter Fowler as starters, with Harrison Bader and Jose Martinez as reserves.  They also have a few good outfield prospects in the high Minors.  

It's right there at the bottom of his stat sheet on Baseball Reference where they average out what Randal would do in a 162 games....


which seems to perfectly match what the numbers above say Randal has done during his time with the Cardinals.  

Which brings me to one more baseball card.  

I feel like this has happened before in the past with Shelby Miller.  As I recall with Shelby, I was watching a card that I wanted on Ebay, the seller had an autograph of the former Cardinals pitcher with no bids, so I typed in something just above the minimum $0.99 bid.  I won the card.  By the time it got to my mailbox, he was traded.  

So, earlier this week I was mailing out a few cards to people on Twitter.  Cleaning out the closet, take my cards kind of stuff.  Sometimes people mail me stuff back, but since I am trying to lessen the number of cards in my collection I usually try to discourage this practice. 

Welp, I had someone insist that they had a card with my name on it and it was just one card.  You already know who it is....




I must say that this is a really nice card.  Five Star cards are always quality and this is actually the Grichuk card that I am most likely to keep in the long run.  On card signature, thick card stock, cool picture of Randal with his well groomed facial hair.  It's nicer than my other two Grichuk autographs.  The card showed up Thursday and he was traded Friday, which is a better story than the other two cards.  Not sure if it's even that great of a story.  

Anyway, farewell Randal. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Current Cardinal, Former Cardinal, Bay Area Teams.

Just two random baseball cards for this evening.  Just clearing a few things off of my desk.  The Cardinals have had a quiet offseason compared to what the fan base was really hoping to see this winter.  The trade for Marcell Ozuna was nice, but seems to be the only splashy move the team is going to make in an effort to catch the Cubs.

The team also traded Stephen Piscotty, but that was because the outfield is really crowded and he has some things going on off the field that would be better dealt playing close to home with the A's.


Hope he does well with the A's next season.  

In the meantime, the trade gave me two new players to track down.  One of the players is Max Schrock, who is from Raleigh, and the other is Yairo Munoz.  I will do something with Schrock at some point, but Munoz actaully has some really nice cards floating around.  I picked up my first, a Bowman autograph, recently in a trade from a fellow collector.  




Munoz made it all the way up to Triple A last year with the A's and showed a little more pop in his bat than in he did in previous seasons in the lower Minors.  He had 13 home runs, 26 doubles, 4 triples, 68 RBIs, and 22 steals.  Not a great walk rate, but he's still just 22.  Really inexpensive card, good one to hold on to for awhile.  Let's hope he shows up at Busch Stadium sometime in the near future.  

Last card for tonight is a childhood favorite that I picked up in the same trade.  Just an interesting card that was sitting in someone's photo album.  Did not have to give up too much in trade for this Jack Clark autograph......




Always liked these Upper Deck Trilogy cards which were put out in 2005.  It's actually a sticker autograph, boo, but you can barely tell it's a sticker autograph when you scan the card.  Yes!  When you look at it in person it's clearly a sticker autograph.  Did I mention that this card didn't cost me very much in trade?  It lessened my Cubs cards if nothing else.  

This is actually my second Clark autograph out of this set.  I also have the version with the relic pieces on the bottom.  Tiny, tiny relics.  




This was several scanners ago thankfully.  This version of Clark's autograph is signed on card, which means it will probably remain my favorite Giants card of Jack Clark.  Overall, a pretty nice pair of cards for my Cardinals collection.  

Friday, January 12, 2018

One Odd Pig

There has been a recent craze in the Minor Leagues with goofy/ridiculous team nicknames.  It's always been there to some degree, but recently it feels like teams are just trying to one up each other with the bizarre and unusual.

RailRiders?  Baby Cakes?  Jumbo Shrimp?  Sigh.  

There is one goofy nicknamed Minor League team that I have some appreciation for.......




The Iron Pigs replaced the Ottawa Lynx in the International League in 2008.  They have been the Phillies Triple A team for their entire run over the last 10 years.  

What makes this "unique" nicknamed team more acceptable than teams like the Baby Cakes?  

There are so many places I could go here.  I think my favorite thing about the Iron Pigs has to be their uniforms.  If you are intrigued with the team you can go check out their Twitter pages, one of them is at @PorkCenter, or the teams various mascots, racing and non-racing, which are borderline scary.  

Back to the uniforms.  You can find all of these on their webpage.  There are the standard unis which you can frequently see the team wear if you follow along with Triple A baseball......


Pretty standard looking uniform.  There is obviously a road grey version, and an alternate blue with the word "Pigs" written across the front in a cursive like script, but with a name like the Iron Pigs you know there is also going to be something goofy.  

There most well known is the Bacon USA jersey.....


I believe that this was the team's first sort of "different" uniform.  It might have actually started with just the bacon hat though.  I didn't do a ton of research on this post.  You're welcome to comment at the bottom if you know the answer.  

Which brings me to some of their uniforms which have more of a fun take on something that has to do with the Phillies, again their parent club.

My two favorites are their powder blue alternate jerseys....


 


which are a variation on the 1980s Phillies powder blue road uniforms.  This is how I remember the Phillies looking when I first started watching baseball.

If you prefer something older, I also like their take on the Whiz Kids......



which is a play on the 1950s Phillies teams and the city of Philadelphia's love of cheese steak sandwiches.  Not a huge fan of the cheese-wiz variations, but they are fine for the sake of making this alternate uniform a winner.

Again, goofy name, but I like that they can draw on some history.

All of this brings me to my latest Minor League baseball card.  Obviously it's an Iron Pigs card.  It's a little bit of an oddball too.  I think I have been here with a Topps Heritage Minors coin card before.....




I like the front of the card with the picture of Phillies shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford donning an Iron Pigs jersey.  Crawford is a pretty intriguing prospect and pretty enjoyable to watch.  The whole coin/card thing has become a standard feature in many of the different Topps sets, all of those things are a positive.

Which brings me to the oddness of "Cubs Break The Bank" above J.P. Crawford's name on the bottom of the card.

This is a Phillies card?  Excuse me, Iron Pigs?  Right?



Wrong.

It appears that the card, I should have posted yesterday so it would be on the date on the card, is actually all about two Cubs players signing a contract before the 1967 season.  One of the players is an outfielder, one is a third baseman, and J.P. Crawford is a shortstop.

I am failing to see how Crawford, Billy Williams, and Ron Santo have anything to do with each other.  It wasn't an expensive card, and since I wanted an Iron Pigs card, I am going to go ahead and ignore all of the Cubs names on the card.

Perhaps someone at Topps was watching that episode of Cheers where Cliff goes on Jeopardy.  Great episode and perhaps the only thing that these three baseball players have in common......




Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Post About Cats

I am really not a cat person.  I had pets as a kid, but they were all dogs.  I could handle having a dog as a pet now, but my wife does not do well with pet fur, or dander, so we currently have a pet fish for my seven year old.

This is Ben.  He's a Beta.



So much easier to care for than a cat, or a dog.  

Unfortunately, I still have to deal with cats on a nearly daily basis at work.  You may say, if you are a long time reader, don't you work at a school as a teacher?  How are there cats at a school?  Great question.  I would be happy to answer.  


This is the view from my window of my classroom.  There are at least three cats in this picture.  One is on top of the trash can and two are next to the trash can.  The picture is also a year old, so I can tell you that there are actually more cats that hang out at this picnic shelter.  I do not have any recent pictures though, I shut my blinds when the cats are outside this year.

Last year's class didn't care about the cats.  This year's class cares a lot about the cats.

The school I work at is in the middle of a subdivision on one side.  Pretty cool for the kids who live there and they can just walk down the street and be at school.  The other side of the school has a bunch of random houses.  One of them is a wiener dog breeder.  Another one of the houses has a ton of pets, including outdoor cats that come over to the school during the day.




Regrettably, a co-worker last year decided that feeding the cats would be a good idea.  Now, it seems like we are stuck with the cats.




There is only one kind of cat that I really like.  Not really a cat, just a basketball player who has the nickname "Cat", but he uses it in place of his real first name.  He has basketball cards, which say Anthony Barber, but that's just not right.

He just signs Cat.




This is my newest Cat Barber card.  I have posted two other cards on here over the past few months.  I am slowly building up a small collection of his cards as the slowly get cheaper.  I was never quite sure why they were sort of expensive, $20 or so, in the first place.  The last time I checked Cat was prowling the floor over in Italy for Brindisi.  It's on the heel of the boot.  

He has been out of school for two years, but was a very talented point guard for three years at NC State.  Very quick player, very fast.  He is from the Hampton/Tidewater area of Virginia and spent most of his college career getting compared to Allen Iverson.  



So, a quick review.......

Cat.  



Scratches stuff, smells funny, pees in a box.  Not a good pet, or good to have roaming around work.   


Cat.  


Shifty, elusive, and very quick.  Good basketball player.


Stray Cats.





I like this song, even if it's about the smelly cats.  

Sunday, January 7, 2018

I Love The 1990s Cardinals Part 18 - Geronimo Pena

Maybe you've heard of Geronimo Pena, maybe you haven't.  He was a Cardinals second base prospect in the early 1990s after the team gutted away most of the WhiteyBall era players like Vince Coleman, Willie McGee, and Terry Pendleton.  Pena was supposed to be a part of a group of young talented players that were going to be teamed up with Ozzie Smith to make the Cardinals a competitive team again.

I think that Geronimo Pena's place in the world of 1990s prospects can best be demonstrated by his appearance on the Cardinals 1993 Upper Deck team card.




Bernard Gilkey and Ray Lankford had established themselves as everyday players by the time that this card was put out in 1993.  Both outfielders showed talent that made Cardinals fans believe that they could eventually be All-Star level players.  Pena had that sort of potential too, but he just didn't stay on the field long enough to show it for more than a half season.

Pena's injuries included:


  • 1989 Spring Training - Broken wrist on a hit by pitch 
  • 1992 Spring Training - Broken collarbone by stepping on his own glove 
  • 1992 Regular Season - Nerve injury in shoulder 
  • 1993 Regular Season - Broken foot on a foul ball 
  • 1994 Regular Season - Broken elbow hit by pitch 
  • 1995 Regular Season - Hamstring pull on ground rule double 

Cardinals manager Joe Torre best summarized Geronimo Pena in 1995 when he said:

"That's been the question about him, can he stay healthy?  We don't know that.  He never has.  But you keep looking at his ability and you say you hope he does.  We're still doing that."

So, how talented was Geronimo Pena as a player?  

In his first season, in 1991, the Cardinals had Pena split time at second base with Jose Oquendo.  When you look at his overall numbers, he was a replacement level player, but Pena really had two separate seasons in that year.  During the first half of the year Pena hit just .222/.297/.333 with only 7 extra base hits in 102 plate appearances.  During the second half of 1991 Pena hit .263/.345/.463. 

 Just for reference, Ryne Sandberg won the Silver Slugger Award in the National League that season amongst National League second baseman.  His Slugging Percentage for the season was .483.  Sandberg was in the prime of his career at that point, Pena was a rookie, so for him to be within 20 points was a positive.   

Which brings us to 1992.  Geronimo Pena only played 62 games that season, but it might have been the only season, outside of 1991, where he played a long stretch of games without missing multiple months during the middle of the season.  The two month stretch of healthy Geronimo Pena hit .305/.386/.478 with 7 home runs, 12 doubles, 31 RBIs, and 13 stolen bases.  Pretty nice numbers, that if he could have maintained over the course of a season, could have earned him some more recognition.  Maybe an All-Star Game appearance at the least.  

Unfortunately, during the next three seasons the Cardinals could not keep Pena on the field.  He was released by the Cardinals after the 1995 season.  He ended up signing with the Indians, but only was able to play in 5 games during the 1996 season.  

You get the point, on to baseball cards.  

Pena was a pretty good prospect which means he got some pretty nice cards.  My favorite Geronimo Pena card will always be the 1993 Upper Deck Cardinals team card at the top of the post.  I know he's the least successful player on the card, but given his level of play while healthy, I cannot help but think that the person who made that card thought they were making the first of many cards that would have Geronimo Pena and Ozzie Smith together.  The Cardinals really wanted that to be their middle infield in the early and mid 1990s.  

Second favorite.  




His 1993 Upper Deck base card.  I like the action shot of him hitting.  The photo on the back of the card is nice too.....



Pena was a switch hitter and I like that they have him batting righty on the front of the card and lefty on the back.  I actually prefer the picture on the back of the card a bit.  Wrigley always makes a nice backdrop on baseball cards.  The top looks like Riverfront in Cincinnati.  Hello, cookie cutter.  

Last card is another action shot.  



Nice base running photo.  

Pena could steal bases, although the Cardinals did a lot less running once Joe Torre started managing the team.  In 1987, while he was in A Ball, Pena had an 80 steal season.  He definitely had some good speed.  

The back of the card is nice too.  


Again, another base running photo.  I like the backs of these Leaf cards from the early and mid 1990s.  The stadium picture is probably a little dated for 1994, but it's still nice to see the Busch Stadium where I grew up watching games.  The arches around the top were very distinct, and while the Arch view is better in the new version of Busch, it was still there if you were sitting in the infield. 

Not sure exactly what Geronimo is up to these days, but his son is a sophomore on the baseball team at the University of Maine.