Thursday, October 31, 2013

My Top 50 On Cardboard-#30- New Guys From New York* Part 2

My Baseball Card Top 50
New Guys From New York* 

*Excludes all players named Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens, or Mariano Rivera (different post)

This first half of this post was actually the really easy part of this of writing about the baseball card impact of the late 90s/early 2000s New York Yankees.  In my opinion, this team was probably the team that I have watched during my lifetime.  They were a complete team in every sense of the word.  The first half of my post featured a few of the really important core players who appeared on the 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000 World Championships teams.  Tonight, I want to get into some of the other players who appeared for brief moments on the team's journey to their four World Series rings.

One of the big misconceptions about this team was the fact that they were "bought" high end teams.  Yes, there were high end expensive players on the teams, but some of the money that the team spent in assembling their rosters was put into providing a strong group of veterans.  I remember a lot of the players who popped up on these teams, but I am always surprised to find someone I forgot about every time I go and scan over the roster on Baseball Reference.  A lot of names you recognize as a baseball fan, who gave their final productive season/seasons for a shot at a ring and were rewarded for checking their star at the door and accepting a job as a role player.  Let me walk you through a brief list of some of my favorites.  Again, some of these are Hall of Famers, others are not.

1987 Topps Glossy Send-In Tim Raines 

Tim Raines appeared on the 1996 and 1998 World Championship teams and signed with the Yankees after playing fifteen years on the Expos and White Sox.  In my opinion, Raines is a Hall of Fame player and it's not even really worth arguing too much about.  The JAWS rating system puts Raines as the 8th best left-fielder of all-time ahead of Billy Williams, Ralph Kiner, and Manny Ramirez.  Raines was a role player for the Yankees never appearing in more than 109 games in a season with between 200-300 at-bats in a season.  While being a role player Raines did what Raines did as a starter: got on base often.  He posted an almost .400 OBP for the Bronx Bombers during his three seasons.

I have had other Raines cards on my blog and am a big fan of his cards.  Tremedously undervalued on the field and off the field.  Collectors can find autographs of the retired great for less than $10.  Relics cards and copies of his 1981 rookie cards are easy to find for less than $5.  Raines cards are a steal.  Buy them, any of them.

1991 Score Mike Mussina RC 

The Moose was a front line pitcher for years in Baltimore, but gave up his spot as the Orioles top starter to fill a role as a middle of the rotation guy on the Yankees.  Mussina signed with the Yankees at the end of their World Series run in 2001 when they lost to the Diamndbacks.  He actually has no World Series rings with the Yankees, but in my opinion, he still fits in with this era of players.  Mussina pitched eight seasons in Baltimore and won more than 15 games five times while posting four seasons with an ERA+ over 125.  His only 20 win season was actually his final season in 2008.  I am on the fence about Mussina being in the Hall of Fame, but probably give him the nod.  JAWS ranks him ahead of peers such as Glavine and Roy Halladay, but also in front of Hall of Famers such as Bob Feller and Jim Palmer.

Mussina is a pretty inexpensive find on cardboard.  His rookie cards are early 90s junk wax and will cost you $1 to $5.  Autographs are not too difficult to find and are reasonable in price.  Always liked the Moose and there are plenty of cool cards floating around of him.

1987 Topps Traded David Cone 

David Cone was a front line starter on the 1996 and 1998 World Series teams.  He was also on the 2000 team, but the Yankees seemed to win in spite of Cone that season and not because of him.  Cone had actually spent the first half of his career with the Mets, Royals, and Blue Jays helping the Jays to a World Series in 1992 and winning a Cy Young Award with the Royals.  Cone went 6-1 for the Yankees in the postseason and always seemed to pitch well for the team when the playoffs rolled around.  Not a Hall of Famer, but a really good player nevertheless.

Cone's cardboard is somewhere around Mussina's.  Rookie cards are cheap and plentiful.  Autographs will run you a few bucks, but they're out there and can found for a good price.  Cone has been a pretty good signer towards the end of his career and during his retirement.

1983 Topps Wade Boggs

I always thought it was odd watching Boggs play for the Yankees, but the long-time Red Sox third baseman made the jump to the Bronx Bombers in 1993.  He helped the team to the World Series in 1996 and then left the team to play for his hometown Tampa Bay Devil Rays.  Boggs hit .311 in 1996, but had a slugging percentage under .400 and only had an OPS+ of 98.  He still made some key contributions to the team and was a productive hitter during the 1996 playoffs.  Boggs is already in the Hall of Fame and the ring he won with the 1996 Yankees seemed to be the icing on the cake to his career.  He was still short of 3000 hits, but picked up that milestone a few seasons later.  

Boggs has a good following in the hobby and his rookie card is one of the better early 80s RCs to chase down.  Boggs has signed a bunch over the years, but his autographs are not always cheap.  I would put him somewhere as a mid-range priced signature, but if he's a Red Sox, it always seems to be worth a little bit more.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Baseball Card Top 50- #30 New Guys From New York* Part 1

My Baseball Card Top 50
New Guys From New York* 

*Excludes all players named Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens, or Mariano Rivera (different post)

This might take a little while, but the players in this post definitely deserve a little bit of credit for their impact on the baseball card hobby during my thirty years collecting cards.  I have heard all the garbage arguments about how the Yankees and Red Sox buy their teams and assemble a lot of high end talent with little consideration for home grown talent, but there is so much more to putting together a championship team than just opening up the wallet. 

Just look at the Dodgers the past two years, or the Phillies from a few years ago.  Angels could go into that category too.  Spending money on random players does not equal wins.  The late 90s Yankees were a rather pricey bunch of ball players, but they were also a great team.  Players set aside some of their own personal glory and stats to form, what I would argue to be, the greatest team of the past thirty years. 

Between 1996 and 2001 the Yankees made a total of 5 World Series appearances bringing home a grand total of 4 World Series rings to the Bronx.  The success on the field by the Yankees translated into success and popularity for the Yankees players in the baseball card industry.  None of the players in the post are slam dunk Hall of Famers.  In fact, most should not be at all.   However, the players in this post were all very good and played a key role in helping the Yankees to at least one, or several, of their four late 90s/early 2000s World Championships. 

The Yankees will take a few posts, so here's part one, which features four regular faces from the 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000 World Series winners. 

1990 Score Bernie Williams RC

Bernie Williams was a homegrown talent, they did exist, who appeared on all four of the World Series winners for the Yankees.  In my opinion, Bernie is not a Hall of Famer, but he was a good player and a great member of the Yankees teams.  He was a solid .300 hitter in his prime with pretty good pop, but Bernie's dWAR was negative for much of his career and he only hit .200 in the World Series including an .063 line against the Padres in 1998 and a .167 mark against the Braves in 1996.  The Bernie Williams rookie cards are all in 1990 products and can be found in abundance for little money.  Autographs and relics are pricy and he's not been a huge signer.  He does have a very nice autograph though if you can find a copy of one. 

1994 Bowman Jorge Posada

Posada fits into many of the same categories as Bernie Williams.  Very good player, appeared on all four World Series teams (only briefly in 1996 and also for the 2009 WS winner), but he is not a Hall of Fame player.  Posada might have been a more important player in some regards than Bernie Williams since he gave the team a plus offensive player while offering above average defense during his prime.  Posada also did a good job of helping to run the pitching staff, which always seemed to pull through when it needed to.  Posada did a decent job of hitting during the postseason too posted 11 career home runs during the playoffs.  Cardboard wise, Posada's rookie card is from the 1994 Bowman set which is one of the cheaper mid 90s products from that line.  The cards are pretty condition sensetive, so high grades can fetch big bucks.  Autographs aren't really plentiful, so again, they fetch a premium. 

1986 Donruss Paul O'Neill RC

Paul O'Neill was not a homegrown Yankees talent, but the prime of career was definitely while he was on the Yankees.  I would even argue that he was actually better his first few years on the Yankees (1994-1995) then the years he helped the team win four World Series titles.  O'Neill tailed off significantly during the 1999, 2000, and 2001 seasons and retired after the team lost the 2001 World Series to the Diamondbacks.  Again, not a Hall of Famer, but a very good player.  I like his 1986 Donruss rookie which is a pretty good set.  Cool card with the polyester Reds jersey.  O'Neill has signed a lot after his retirement, especially the last few years.  Much easier and cheaper to find than Williams and Posada. 

1988 Topps Traded Tino Martinez

This is difficult player for me to write about.  My most profound memories of Tino Martinez the player were formed around his brief time in St. Louis where he performed poorly and complained constantly until the team banished him to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.  He seemed like a pretty uncool person which was only confirmed this past season when the Marlins fired him as their hitting coach after it was revealed he was abusive towards the players.  Now, for his time with the Yankees.

Tino is a perfect example of why the Yankees won often during the late 90s.  The Yankees actually did not sign Martinez as an expensive free agent, but rather traded for him and then kept him around New York.  Honestly, he was a great player for the Yankees.  Not Hall of Fame good, but he was the perfect hitter for the short porch out in right field.  During his career he played about 550 games in Yankee Stadium and hit almost 100 home runs and 100 doubles while slugging nearly .500 in that ballpark.  Other parks?  He hit .239 in Fenway with 6 home runs in 86 career games. 

His best year was actually 1997 when he finished second in the American League in MVP voting and also a career high 44 home runs.  Tino's rookie cards are 1988 and 1989 releases and are valued much like the Bernie Williams rookie cards.  Autographs can be a little bit tricky, but he has signed for a few larger print run sets, like the 2004 Upper Deck USA Baseball autographs.  Tino in a Devil Rays or Cardinals uniform has little value, but Yankees cards are pretty competitive. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Buy Local Part 1

I was looking through a box of autographed cards the other day and realized that I have put together a pretty nice collection of local, North Carolina, players over the past year.  Despite not having an MLB team, North Carolina has several minor league affiliates, a few top 20 college programs, USA Baseball, and a great high school baseball scene too.  Why not put together a few posts to highlight some of the great players and cool cards coming out of North Carolina.  So, I will start out tonight with a local high school player turned top prospect. 

2012 Bowman Chrome Corey Seager Auto

I actually just recently picked up this Corey Seager autograph.  I have the blue version of this card too, but Seager autographs are getting harder and harder to find and also more expensive.  A year ago you could find Seager autographed cards around $20.  After a stellar 2013 campaign in the minors his 2012 rookie cards have taken off in popularity and price.  Off brand Seager autographs, there are actually quite a few, are less expensive, but all of his Bowman cards are very nice cards and could well be worth the price if the shortstop prospect pans out for the Dodgers. 

Seager was selected out of Northwest Carrabus High School in Concord, North Carolina which is west of Raleigh-Durham towards the Charlotte area.  Seager also played for USA Baseball which is located a few minutes from my house in Cary, North Carolina.  The Dodgers selected Seager in the first round of the 2012 draft making him the second of the three Seagers to be drafted.  His older brother Kyle is the Mariners third baseman, he'll be in another post, and another older brother Justin played for UNC-Charlotte and was drafted by the Mariners in 2013. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Blind Trade

I have been flying low on the trade market recently.  I cannot remember the last time that I made a post on my trade page on Facebook.  If I have made a trade over the last few months it's strictly been with a few people whom I had already traded with before.  This last week I tried something a little new in regards to trading: A blind trade.

I know that collectors often send each other packages and return packages back to each with considerations for the original package.  This is not my style, but I am willing to try something out at least once.  I have always been very specific about what I am looking for and what I am willing to part with in my collection.  So, this trade was a big step for me to let go of control, accept what came in the mail, and send back what the collector collects.

I received four cards, three current Cardinals, and one former Cardinal.  Here's what I got:

2008 UD Documentary Kyle McClellan Autograph 

This is my former Cardinal, but still a really cool card.  McClellan played for the 2011 World Series Championship Cardinals team.  In fact, he started 17 games for the team and won 12 games.  McClellan ran into the wall later in the season and was not active on the post season roster, but was a vital part of the regular season team.  McClellan also pitched for the Cardinals in 2012, but had some arm problems and was not tendered a contract.  He was signed by the Rangers and appeared in a few games for the team last season, but was injured again.  Always cool to get a new autograph of a Cardinals player on a World Series team.

2013 Topps Green Emerald Matt Holliday 

I actually picked up two green emerald parallels in this trade and have picked up several of these throughout the year.  These cards are the best parallel cards that Topps has put out in recent memory.  Love the looks of the card and think they are very sharp.  I also picked up the Allen Craig card below.

2013 Topps Emerald Green Allen Craig 

The card below is my favorite in the trade package I received.  If you have not been watching the baseball playoffs then they have missed out on Cardinals prospect Carlos Martinez pitching the set up role for the team.  Martinez started in the minors, but the Cardinals have been using him in the relief role late in the season and during the playoffs.

2013 Bowman Blue Mini Carlos Martinez 

This card is from the 2013 Bowman set and is apart of the awesome line of minis.  I have really enjoyed some of the mini cards Topps put out this year.  I have the regular Martinez mini card, but this blue parallel is serial numbered out of 250.  Really sweet card.  

One half of the blind trade is done, so I have spent a little bit of time this weekend putting together a package of Pirates, Big Hurts, and other cards.  Hope the other half of this trade enjoys.  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Top 50 On Cardboard-#31 Randy Johnson

My Baseball Card Top 50
Randy Johnson 

1989 Fleer Randy Johnson RC Blackout Variation 

One of my favorite baseball card rookies from the 80s.  The Randy Johnson Fleer rookie might fall short of his Upper Deck card in some regards, but it's a really cool card in so many ways.  First, I love the powder blue Expos uniforms.  One of the best 80s uniforms by far.  Throw in the fact that Fleer did a terrible job of editing their set and you've got yourself a winner.  This card originally looked something like this:

1989 Fleer Randy Johnson Marlboro Variation 

The original version of Johnson's card featured a Marlboro cigarettes ad over his right shoulder which prompted Fleer to put out a second version of this card with the sign black out.  Similar to the Billy Ripken card from the same set, but having DickFace written on your bat knob has gotten that card more attention than the rookie card of a Hall of Famer.  Go figure.

Hobby Impact-
Johnson has not had the hobby impact you would think given his level of performance on the field.  Then again, I think sometimes fans and collectors do not always given the Big Unit his proper due there either.  Johnson's career started in the late eighties with the Montreal Expos and the wax was of the junk variety.  There are only a few Johnson rookie cards on the market, but there are plenty of copies of all of them to go around.  The 1989 Fleer card is probably my favorite, but you cannot go wrong by picking up a copy of his 1989 Upper Deck or Topps Traded cards either.  The Upper Deck card features him as an Expo, but the Topps Traded card was one of his first as a Mariner after being traded for Mark Langston.

His card prices reflect the fact that he was an elite player and a Hall of Fame talent some of the time.  His autographs are definitely on the price side, but other Johnson chase cards, inserts, and parallels are not necessarily always really expensive.  Don't get me wrong, find a copy of a parallel from a really popular set and you are going to pay, but there are plenty that I feel go for much less than they should.

Johnson has a really nice autograph and has always been a really good signer.  Autographs of the tall left-hander are fairly easy to come across, but you should expect to pay a good price from a copy of one of his John Hancock's.  Usually collectors should expect to spend at least $50 to find a nice copy of this Hall of Famer's signature.

1998 Donruss Signature Randy Johnson Autograph 

Johnson's later cards as a Diamondback, the second time around, Yankee, and Giants are often outright bargains.  You can find some really nice cards of him for next to nothing.  Worth checking out once in awhile on Ebay.

On The Field Impact-
I saw Johnson a few times in person.  I also saw Maddux and Clemens.  I would rate Johnson ahead of both pitchers and probably rank him as the best pitcher that I've seen in person.  During his late 90s run with the Astros and Diamondbacks he was dominate.  Dominate and intimidating.  I remember going to a Cardinals game late in 1998 while he was pitching for the Astros.  Honestly, I went to the game hoping for some Big Mac magic, but saw some incredible pitching from Randy Johnson instead.  He threw hard the entire game and the Cardinals, who had a good offensive team that season with Ron Gant hitting seventh, never had a chance.

Beyond personal observations, Randy Johnson has the overall career numbers to back up the fact that he was among the greatest starting pitchers to ever play the game.  JAWS, rates him as the ninth best starting pitcher just ahead of Maddux, but behind Clemens and Seaver in terms of modern pitchers.  His career WAR is slightly lower than Maddux, but his ERA+ is slightly higher.  Overall, Maddux has more wins, but Johnson did not play for a dominate Braves team like Maddux.  Johnson easily has more strikeouts than Maddux and also has more than Roger Clemens.

Honestly, if Roger Clemens had not gone through the hoop-la of throwing his trainer and wife under the bus after his career I would probably rate him ahead of Randy Johnson, but Clemens is an idiot.

Johnson also did a lot winning award wise during his career picking up a World Series co-MVP in 2001, five Cy Young Awards, and will likely be hanging out in Cooperstown for his induction ceremony shortly.  Here's a quick look at his 19 strikeout effort against the A's in 1997.

Favorite Card-
Randy Johnson is one of my favorite follows on Twitter.  Kind of cool to follow Johnson's second career as a photographer.  He does some cool work and has lots of good pics.  I think this card fits him very well.

1996 Upper Deck Randy Johnson VJ Lovero Collection

2013 Topps Update Bob Tewksbury Autograph

The World Series has put a series dent into my blogging this week, but I have spent a little bit of time on the eve of tonight's important game 6 showdown between the Red Sox and Cardinals to catch up with my writing.  A bunch of packages, cards, and topics to sort through for my upcoming posts, I sticking with simple for the first of two for the day.  I wrote a post last week about the insanity that Topps has created in their third installment of the Topps Update set with the over use of variations.  Needless to say, I have been a little bit slow in picking up cards from the set.  However, the Topps Update set is one of those annual sets that always seems to end up in my collection.  I am just being really lazy about picking up my pieces for the set.  You should check out the Brent and Becca store on Ebay.  Great case breakers with good deals on complete sets.  Topps Update done in a few clicks of the mouse button.  What about the inserts and whatnot?

Unfortunately Topps did not put any cool die cut cards into the insert set, the manu-cards are some goofy league leader/career leader cards, which leaves few options for the inserts.  I am sure that I will add some in the coming weeks and will post when I finally get around to it, but I am not busting down any doors to add many things beyond the base set.  Which leads me to a card I was actually happy to add to my collection from the Topps Update set....

2013 Topps Update Bob Tewksbury Autograph 

This is Tewksbury's second Topps autograph of the card calendar year, with the other autograph issue coming out from the Topps Archives set.  This Chasing History insert celebrates the rarely recognized walk per nine innings ratio that Tewksbury held in the 1992 season pitching for the Cardinals.

Tewksbury, or Tewks, pitched for the Cardinals during the Joe Torre era during the early 1990s.  He was easily the best pitcher on the team for several years.  While many Cardinals fans are quick to point out that this part of the team's history was a low point for the franchise, some of the pitching performances out of Tewksbury would have been stellar and more recognizable on better teams.  At first glance, his statistics look rather pedestrian.  His first two seasons with the Birds on the Bat were basically .500 with fewer than 100 strikeouts while starting almost 60 games.  That means that Tewksbury missed few bats and did little to help the team win many of his starts.

However, the 1992 season was one of the greatest exhibits in control pitching during the last 20 years.  Tewksbury raked up 16-5 record during that season with a 2.16 ERA, but more impressive was the fact that he only walked 20 batters in more than 230 innings pitched that season.  Tewksbury's BB/9 ratio that inning came in at 0.773 which puts him amongst the lowest ratios of all times.  He also almost match his 1992 ratio during the 1993 season when his final number came in at 0.842.  Both numbers rank amongst the 100 lowest BB/9 in the history of the game and since World War II only three players have posted a lower number (Cliff Lee in 2010, Carlos Silva 2005, and Brett Saberhagen 1994).

Overall, I really enjoy enjoy seeing cards of cool players like Tewksbury who might have flown under the radar, but had a good following during their career.  Topps did a great job to give him a few cards this year and really cool that they recognized his incredible walk ratio despite the fact that the record has been broken a few times since he set it in 1992.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My Top 50 Players on Cardboard-#32 The Two Sport Star

At some point in the late 80s the baseball world became intrigued with the two sport star.  There had been many players over the years who had dabbled in second sports, but the 80s saw the first athletes who tried to take on two different professional sports full-time.  Early examples of two-sport stars in baseball included Duke basketball star Dick Groat, Michigan State football player Kirk Gibson, San Diego State basketball player Tony Gwynn, and Dave Winfield who was drafted into the NBA and NFL.  While these players dabbled in sports outside of baseball, none of them made their second sport much of a career.  Enter Bo Jackson.  

1987 Topps Bo Jackson 

Hobby Impact-
Within a span of six years, three big two-sport stars popped who crossed the line between Major League Baseball and the National Football League.  Jackson was the most talented of the trio and was seen as an All-Star/All-Pro caliber player in both the NFL and MLB.  I think the highlight that best defined Bo Jackson was his lead off home run in the 1989 All-Star game.  

The All-Star game home run catapulted Jackson's fame as a two-sport star and also brought attention to another rising two-sport star breaking into Major League baseball with the Yankees.  Deion Sanders was a great football player.  He was never really that great at baseball, but at the peak of his career in baseball he was at least average.  Deion was a little bit more flamboyant than Bo Jackson.  Where are the videos of the touchdown dance?  Silly NFL.  Link to (S)cam Newton doing the dance.  

1990 Leaf Deion Sanders

Sanders was also the longest running of the two-sport stars, but he took several seasons off from baseball along the way basically missing out on three years of his career.  While Bo Jackson had a career ending football injury that also limited his baseball abilities, Sanders always seemed a little bit lost on the baseball field.  

The last of the three two-sport stars from my time in collecting is outfielder/safety Brian Jordan.  BJ was not in the majors while he was a professional football player and the Cardinals paid Jordan a 1.7 million dollar bonus in 1992 to quit the Falcons and only play baseball.  Many point to the Bo Jackson injury as a precautionary tale with the two-sport players and the Cardinals obviously wanted to protect their investment in Jordan.  

1992 Topps Traded Brian Jordan 

Since the Cardinals bought out Brian Jordan out of playing football there have not been any active Major League Baseball players moonlighting in another sport.  While several players like Todd Helton, Seth Smith, or Darin Erstad have been good college football players, they are often given the choice by the teams owning their rights to either quit baseball or quit football.  Rickey Williams, of NFL fame, was a minor leaguer in the Phillies organization, but gave up baseball after the Saints drafted him out of the University of Texas.  Others like Chad Hutchinson, Brandon Weeden, and Drew Henson started off in one league and then changed their minds.  

Basically, all of these players are pretty collectable.  There are plenty of Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders collectors floating around and the other multi-sport athletes have their moments too.  I had a Brandon Weeden Bowman Autograph in my collection for several years.  He was kind of a nobody, but got hot going back to college at Okie State.  Autograph card sold.  Thank you.  

On the Field-
Jackson had the greatest impact of the big three two-sport stars when he was healthy and on the field.  At the height of his playing career he was an All-Star caliber player for the Royals made plays that baseball fans ha never seen.  My favorite beyond the All-Star game home run was the running catch he made...

I am not quite sure what Deion's highlight as a baseball player would be.  He did play for the Braves in the early 90s and did pop up in a few important games, but really had very little impact on any of the games.  Living in St. Louis I got to see Deion several times and the only thing about Deion that sticks out in my mind was him wearing his socks up for the 1997 season for Jackie Robinson.  Nice gesture.  

Really, Jordan ended up having the greatest impact of the trio.  By greatest impact I mean that Jordan was an above average player for a good portion of his playing career.  In fact, as a Cardinals fan I am not sure the team would have made it to the National League Championship series without his help.  Jordan a clutch home run against Padres closer Trevor Hoffman to close out the NLDS against the Padres and was the real run producer of that team before the picked up Mark McGwire the next season.  

Jordan also played a longer time than Jackson and Sanders putting together a 15 year career.  His career OPS+ of 105 does not look that great, but his last three season were all in the 60s.  His career OPS is jut slightly below .800 with his last three seasons been consistently in the .630s.  Baseball-Reference has is comparable batter in the latter stages of his career as Raul Ibanez, but then his last three years he turns into Melvin Mora.  In other words, Jordan just hung around a little too long. 

Jordan's real importance to the game though was that he was the first two-sport player to have a line drawn in the sand, which still seems to exist today.  You can football, you can play baseball, but you cannot play both at the same time.  

Favorite Card- 
A 90s classic.  

1990 Score Bo Jackson 

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Finest of the Finest

One of the best sets during the time I have spent collecting was the initial 1993 Topps Finest set.  To this day, the set is very popular and the refractor set cards are still one of the great chase sets floating around.  If you have a favorite 90s players, tracking down a copy of their 1993 Topps Finest Refractor is an item that should be on every collectors bucket list.  

1993 Topps Finest Refractor Egardo Alfonzo

If you do not have a favorite player from the 90s, it's okay, you can still pick some of these great cards off on the cheap.  While stars from the set generally push triple digits, sometimes you can sneak through a minor star like Edgardo Alfonzo for a fraction of that cost.  

The popularity of 1993 Finest set, paired with the set's 20th anniversay, prompted Topps to include an insert set based on the 1993 base set.  The cards sell similar to the originals on Ebay.  Base cards from the 2013 Topps Finest 1993 Reprint set can sell for a few dollars with the refractors, numbered to 25, selling for considerable more money.  

I have not picked up a refractor yet, but have picked up a few of the cards from the Rays and Cardinals to add to my collection.  Topps did a fabulous job of recreating these cards and I am hoping to assemble the complete set of Cardinals and Rays over the next few weeks.  Maybe a vlog post.  Without further ado...The 2013 Topps Finest 1993 Reprint Rays and Cardinals...

2013 Topps Finest 1993 Reprint David Price 

2013 Topps Finest 1993 Reprint Adam Wainwright

2013 Topps Finest 1993 Reprint Yadier Molina 

2013 Topps Finest 1993 Reprint Matt Holliday 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

My Baseball Card Top 50-#33 Ryne Sandberg

My Baseball Card Top 50
Ryne Sandberg

1983 Fleer Ryne Sandberg

The 1983 Fleer set started my collection out 30 years ago.  While the 1983 sets have 3 big rookies (Boggs, Sandberg, Gwynn) the Fleer Sandberg and Topps Gwynn always stood head and shoulders above the other cards in that group.  Mainly because of uniforms.  We'll get into the Gwynn later in the countdown, but for now the Sandberg.  I never saw the Cubs wear the powder blue pinstripes in person, but I have a good number of cards with them in these unis.  Very distinct and one of my favorite 70s/80s road blue uniforms.  This card is the best Sandberg rookie card.  The 1983 Donruss Sandberg also features him in this uniform, but it's a still picture and not an action shot.

Hobby Impact-
Cubs fans have had many different quality players to collect over the years.  I know some of my Cardinals readers will disagree with that statement, but over the thirty years that I have collected baseball cards there was always someone worth collecting on the Cubs.  That statement is not true for all teams at all times over that time frame.  The one constant for Cubs fans throughout the entire time period has been the presence of Sandberg cards.  Sandberg retired in the late 90s after a good 15 year run with the Cubs, but the end of his career seemed to blend rather well with the advent of the Legends and Fan-Favorites types of sets.  The trend resulted in a basic continuous thirty year stream of Sandberg cards.

While Sandberg's rookie cards might only hover around $5 many of his other good inserts, low print runs, and autographs are popular and good sellers on the secondary market.  The most common Sandberg autographs often sell for a minimum of $30 and short printed, or premium set cards will often sell for considerably more than that, often landing anywhere between $50 and well into the hundreds.  Sandberg was in many of the early large print run autograph sets, like Donruss Signature, but that has not weighed down the value of his autographs too much.

While Sandberg still signs plenty of autographs, they are often spread out throughout the card calendar and appear in several different products.  The resulting effecting produces a large quantity of Sandberg cards, but low print numbers of each card.  For example, Sandberg has recently signed for both the Topps Tribute and Topps Five Star sets.  Both are high end and both feature multiple Sandberg autographs.  In Tribute, the highest print run of any Sandberg autograph starts at 31 and goes south from there.  In Five Star, Sandberg has one autograph with a print run of 55 and another with 106 copies.  Low totals, high prices.

As a Cardinals fan, I appreciated the player Sandberg was for the rival Cubs and do own an autograph of the Hall of Fame second baseman.  I kept mine simple though and just found a copy of his Donruss Signature Millennium Marks Autograph.  Easy card to find with a reasonable price tag.

1997 Donruss Signature Ryne Sandberg Autograph

On The Field-
The JAWS rating system has Sandberg as the 9th best second baseman in baseball history.  Sandberg has already been elected to the Hall of Fame and deservedly so.  In fact, all of the players rated higher than Sandberg, minus Bobby Grich, have all been inducted to the Hall.  One of the biggest surpises in check the JAWS list for second baseman was finding Sandberg only behind Joe Morgan in terms of rankings for modern players at the position.  Meaning the Cubs Hall of Famer rated higher than Roberto Alomar, Biggio, Robinson Cano, and Jeff Kent.

While Sandberg's OPS+ for his career is only 114 and his OPS is below .800, there are several factors which boosted Ryno's Hall of Fame credentials.  First, Sandberg was a great second baseman at his peak, but the end of career came quickly and was rather sharp.  Rather than hanging on and compiling numbers, Sandberg just walked away and retired.  At the peak of his career Sandberg's OPS+ was regularly in the 130-140 range.  His last three years in the league his totals were 83, 97, and 83. Remember with OPS+ the number 100 represents an average player.

Also factor in that Sandberg WAR was also hurt by the end of his career.  At the peak of his career in the early 90s/late 80s he was often among the league leaders in the stat which is remarkable for a middle infielder, let alone one during the small ball era.  In 1989 Sandberg's WAR was 4th in the NL, in 1990 he finished first, and also in 1991.

Sandberg was also a force on defense landing eight Gold Gloves and finishing in the Top 10 for defensive WAR five times during his career.  Rhino also ranks in the Top 10 all-time for second baseman in assists and fielding percentage.

If you have twenty minutes you can watch the above video and check out the epic battle between Sandberg and Willie McGee.  Epic.  and I hate that word.  Willie McGee hit two home runs, he ended up missing the cycle because he did not get a single, and went 4 for 6 with 6 RBIs.  Sandberg did better  going 5 for 6 with 7 RBIs with two home runs.  One of the home runs was a game tying home run off of Hall of Fame Reliever Bruce Sutter and the other was a game tying home run after the Cardinals scored two in the top of the 10th.  Not too shabby.  

Favorite Card-
Sandberg was the Rhino.  Do you know another card with a picture of Sandberg and a rhino?  

1998 Skybox Metal Universe Ryne Sandberg 

Video Vlog: 2013 Topps Finest Base Set and Autographs

My Top 50 Players on Cardboard-#34 Will Clark

My Top 50 Players on Cardboard
Will Clark

1986 Topps Traded Will Clark RC

Clark has several different rookie cards in across several different 1986 and 1987 products.  I have also really liked this 1986 Topps Traded card the best.  The design on the 86 Topps set was always one of my favorites as a kid, it's just too bad that the base set from that year lacks any important rookie cards.  The Traded set is a little bit different story and the black border around the top, along with the centering make this a cool card to chase down and clean copies of this card pretty valuable.

Hobby Impact-
Clark has a large hobby following and has remained very popular more than a decade after retiring from baseball.  His cards are highly sought after, the Giants years are clearly more popular, and bidding and pricing on Clark items has always been slightly higher than similar on the field players.  His rookie cards can often be found for a few dollars if you are looking for raw copies, but high graded copies can add significant value and push the price towards $100.

By the the mid 90s Clark left the Giants for Rangers which keeps the prices on some of his low print run inserts down slightly, but only slightly.  One of his key inserts worth looking for is the refractor card in the 1993 Topps Finest set.  The Clark copy is one of the more expensive cards and they can be among the more difficult to track down.  If I had to own one Will Clark insert card and money was not an object, that would be the card.

Clark has a nice autograph and has signed a ton of cards over the years.  I have always kind of wanted a Will Clark Giants autograph, but never found one at a price I liked.  Most of his bulk 90s autographs (Leaf and Donruss Signature, SP Signature) feature The Thrill as a Ranger or Oriole.  They still sell, but I have always pictured him as a Giant.  There does see to be a premium for the Giants autographs and the Cardinals autographs.  My lone Will Clark autographs is....

2005 UD Heroes Will Clark Autograph 

On The Field-
Clark was a blue collar player.  He hustled, scrapped, and did whatever he had to.  Clark hit for power, but never lead the league in hitting.  Clark hit for average, but never won a batting title.  He was just a productive player.  His final career line of .303/.384/.497 mixed in with 284 home runs and 1,200 RBIs is nice.  Is Clark a Hall of Famer?

I think it depends on whether you are a fan of a big Hall of Fame or an exclusive Hall of Fame.  The JAWS rating system puts him as the 24th best first baseman in MLB history.  Remember that there are a lot of first baseman in the Hall.  The majority of players on the list are Hall of Famers, or will be Hall of Famers.

I know that Tony Perez and Orlando Cepeda are in the Hall of Fame, but I am not sure I am a huge fan of them being in the Hall.  I guess I am more of an inclusive Hall of Fame person, but for my money Will Clark is a little bit short of being there.  When I look at some of the names surrounding Clark: Olerud, Keith Hernandez, Giambi, Lance Berkman, etc. I think he fits in well with that group of players.  I don't think any of them are deserving of the Hall though.  I think the percentage stats are in the right neighborhood for Clark, but as a corner infielder he lacked power which puts his OPS and OPS+ a good bit below the top tier of first baseman.

As a Cardinals fan, I really did not like the scrappiness of Will Clark while he was on the Giants.  There was this famous incident between Clark, current Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo, and Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith.

The Cardinals actually ended up with Clark at the end of the 2000 season to fill in for an injured Mark McGwire.  He more than exceeded expectations at put up an incredible line of .345/.426/.655 with 12 homers and 42 RBIs in 55 games.  The team made the playoffs that season, beat the Braves in the Division series before falling to the Mets in the League Championship.  During the NLCS that season Clark posted a .412/.500/.706 line.  Very Beltranesque.  

The performance by Clark made him a pretty popular figure around St. Louis and eased some of the hard feelings that existed between Cardinals fans and Clark from his days as a Giant.  

Favorite Card-
When I put Clark on the list I did not have to flip back through his cards are look around to find my favorite card.  I knew exactly what card was going to go in this space.  Here it is:

2001 Topps Gold Will Clark 

From the 2001 Topps set, this was one of my favorites in the entire set.  In fact, I would go so far as to say this card is one of my favorite Cardinals highlight cards of all-time.  Really cool.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Variation Insanity!

I remember the 1999 Topps Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa variation cards.  I loved those cards.  Long after I had assembled the entire 1999 Topps set I was still tracking down the different home run cards of McGwire.  The variations were challenging to collectors and yet, since there were only two cards that had variations, not completely impossible to put together.

1999 Topps Mark McGwire #220 Home Run #53

There were plenty of collectors who picked up one copy of the McGwire and one copy of Sosa and called it quits.  If you opened a box 1999 Topps cards there was a really good chance that you were going to pull at least one Sosa and one McGwire.  Overall, if you surveyed collectors who were around to bust some wax and put together that set, they probably had a pretty favorable opinion of the variations.  Not too hard to find, but not super easy to assemble into a complete set.

Topps continued to use variations into the early 2000s, but the company often followed the same pattern used in the 1999 Topps set with McGwire and Sosa.  The variation cards weren't too difficult to find, but not too easy to put into a set.  Although, some were pretty easy to put together.  Case in point would be the 2000 Topps set variations which featured the Magic Moments subset which featured several Hall of Famers (or HOF caliber) players.  There were a total of five cards for each player which highlighted a different career accomplishment.  Here's a Griffey:

2000 Topps Ken Griffey Jr. Magic Moments 1997 AL MVP

Well, you get the picture on the early variations that Topps used in their sets.  They were generally very well done and offered a slight wrinkle to the set which offered collectors a challenge.  Topps continued to use variations and different chase cards and generally did a great job until 2007.  That's when the hobby entered a "ridiculous" phase with the variations.  It all started with this gem:

2007 Topps Derek Jeter George Bush/Mickey Mantle SP 

I am pretty sure the official word from Topps was that this card was a prank gone wrong.  I am not sure that I have really ever bought that.  Since this card we have had more and more silly time with variations.  Players with sunglasses, players without sunglasses.  Players in uniform, players out of uniform.  Pies in the face?

2010 Topps Ike Davis Pie Card 

Completely lame.  I had three of four of these for a week before I discovered that they were a "short print".  (Sigh) I sold them all, except Ike, as fast as possible.  We've also had sparkles on cards have been introduced to the term Super Short Print to describe cards of Jose Reyes and Albert Pujols.  The worst variation ever?  Thanks to the good folks at Everything Lincoln for a scan of the card:

2010 Topps Ryan Dempster Abe Lincoln 

Words cannot describe how much I do not like this Ryan Dempster card.  Why is Abe Lincoln airbrushed onto this card?  Is that in Pro Player Stadium?  Ridiculous.  

Before I continue further into my rant about how much I despise what Topps has done with the variation concept in recent years, let me point out a couple of ways the company has done well with this concept.  Let me ask you this:  Why do you collect baseball cards?  I collect cards because I enjoy the game of baseball, I follow the game, and enjoy collecting the cards of players I watch.  Especially those whom I see in person.  So, here is a cool variation card made by Topps in this year's base set:

2013 Topps Albert Pujols Out of Bounds

You are going to give me a variation set of players jumping over walls, sticking their gloves into the crowd while fighting of fans for foul balls, and players hanging over the railings of their dugouts try to snag popouts?  I accept.  That's a cool idea.  I get action photos of players and the cards are focused on the game.  Card collectors get plenty of still shots of players standing next to a base or holding a bat.  I've collected Pujols cards since he came in the league in 2001 and can honestly say this is the best action card of the future Hall of Famer.  Really cool.  

2012 Topps Skip Schumaker Squirrel Card 

If you are looking for something cute then this should be as cute as it gets.  The Rally Squirrel gets on the Cardinals World Series rings, he can get on a baseball card.  Unlike the Abe Lincoln airbrush card, this variation is features a piece of baseball lore which actually happened.  Whatever happened to this Mariners groundskeeper?  He was on every blooper real at a baseball game when I was a kid.  He could have a variation and I would be cool with that.

So, where am I going with my rant about variations?  I went to put together one of my last sets of the 2013 calendar year with the 2013 Topps Update set.  It's out early this year, so I guess we are somewhat limited in the rookies appearing in the set and will have to wait on the postseason highlights until next spring.  I can live with that.  However, I do not like when I am in my planning stages and hear that there are up to 50, YES 50!, different variations within the Update set.  

We've gone from McGwire and Sosa, two cards with 70 variations with a few cards in each box, to 50 variations including the dreaded Super Short Print which is available in a few cases.  So, here's where it gets really bad.  

Here's a base Buter Posey Update card showing him as a National League All-Star.  Really cool.  

2013 Topps Update Buster Posey 

Now, if I told the average Giants fan that there was a Posey short print, they'd be ecstatic.  No, there's not.  The variation for this card is actually another Giants player.  It's Will Clark.  Many Giants fans would still be really cool with a Will Clark card.  As a Cardinals fan, I still remember 2000.  Will Clark is cool, but Topps mucked up his card with a 50/50 photo of Clark and Matt Williams.  

2013 Topps Update Will Clark Variation

Now, Buster Posey also has another variation with Willie Mays, but half the card is Sandy Koufax.  Don't worry Giants fans, it doesn't say Sandy Koufax.  He's just airbrushed onto the card.  

2013 Topps Update Willie Mays Variation

Like I said: Ridiculous.  I understand that Topps wants to put a little bit of fun and excitement into collecting, but there comes a point when you completely overcomplicate things are drive people away.  I am not sure that I want anything to do with the 50 different variations that Topps has offered in packs of Update.  In fact, it's my understanding that not all of the short-prints are even from the Topps Update set, but they actually went back and created variations for cards in the base Topps Series 1 and 2.  Insane.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Shiny Lankford.

I have been having good luck finding Ray Lankford cards recently.  I went through a stretch awhile back where I couldn't find anything new that was not already in my collection.  The past several months it seems like I have been able to add a Lankford card or two to my collection every month.  Some of the hardest parallels to track down come from the late 90s and early 2000s Pacific cards.

2000 Pacific Prism Holographic Mirror /160

Two factors make the Pacific parallels tricky to track down.  First, Pacific mastered the "rainbow" concept long before Topps.  Many Pacific sets have different colored foil parallels which were all serial numbered to a different amount.  Throw on top of that the fact that most sets included a "Premier Date" parallel numbered to 34, and you've got a lot of cards to track down.  Which brings me to my second point.  While some of the short prints, like my new Holographic Mirror-it's just really shiny-, are not too difficult to find with print runs north of 100, there are plenty of parallels from Pacific that are 50 or fewer.  In fact, Lankford appeared in a few dozen Pacific sets, but I still do not own a single "Premier Date" parallel speaks to the difficulty of tracking them down.

and the Gold Glove goes to....

I know that at the end of the 2012 card calendar, many collectors were high on Rockies third base prospect Nolan Arenado.  His cards were selling and seemed to offer good future value for collectors given his stats in the minors where he displayed the ability to hit for power and average while playing an elite level of defense.  The 2013 season rolled around and Arenado got a lot of time at the hot corner for the Rockies.  Arenado did not exactly set the world on fire at the plate this season and slowly collectors have slowly moved on past Arenado.  Not me.  I actually just went out and picked up my first copy of one of his autographs.

2012 Bowman Platinum Nolan Arenado Jersey/Autograph

The card is from last year's Bowman Platinum release and features a cool jumbo swatch of Arenado's road jersey with a nice purple pinstripe.  Good autograph too and a limited print of 199 all make this card a winner.  So, you might wonder why I have decided to run into the Arenado market after his disappointing 2013 campaign and collectors dumping his cards left and right.

First, I always felt that Arenado's cards were a little bit on the high side.  This card was selling in the high teens or low twenties last year.  I picked it up for a little bit more than $5 last week.  I am sure that Arenado will see a little bit of a bounce in pricing over the coming years, but I don't think he's going to be a player with really valuable cards.  Meaning high end.

Right now, Arenado is the best defensive third baseman in baseball.  He posted a dWAR of 3.2 last season which was tops amongst third baseman and also lead the National League in Range Factor.  If he doesn't win the Gold Glove I think he should probably feel slighted.  He finished in the top five in double plays, assists, putouts, and fielding percentage.  I know that card collectors are not out scouring for cards of Brendan Ryan, or other great defense first players, but I actually think that Arenado will be fine in the long run.

Now, I hate that rookie card issue of Beckett where they publish a picture of every player with a rookie card and compare them to a current Major League Player.  All of them are generally, according to Beckett, going to be productive Major Leaguers, and many of them have too lofty of comparisons.  Despite the fact that I hate that issue, I am going to do the same thing right now, but I will give a little bit more reasoning than our friends at Beckett give.

In my opinion, Arenado reminds me a lot of Adrian Beltre.  The same Adrian Beltre whom I consider to be a borderline Hall of Famer.  I am not saying Arenado is going to be a Hall of Famer, or a border line Hall of Famer.  That will take time and years of consistency.  However, flashback to the late 90s and look at some of the lines put up by Beltre.  He was always considered a plus to great defensive third baseman.  He reached the majors quickly and it took a few years for his offense to come around.  Beltre is now, not only one of the best defensive third baseman in the game, he is also an offensive force.

In many ways, I see Arenado as a similar player to Beltre.  He's already an elite defensive player.  Arenado is only 22 and I believe his offense will gradually come around.  For example, many critics of Arenado will point out the fact that his home run total of 10 was total unacceptable.  However, if you look at the big picture and add in all of his extra base hits, they accounted for roughly one-third of all his hits.  That's roughly the same ratio as David Wright, who was the National League's All-Star third baseman.  Give it time, and hopefully Arenado will take a few more walks, knock a few more over the walls at Coors, and opinion on the third baseman will quickly reverse course.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Top 50 Players On Cardboard-#35 Jose Canseco

My Top 50 Players on Cardboard
Jose Canseco

Before I get into my Canseco write up, I will preface my write up with this: I am not a fan of Jose Canseco.  In fact, he is my least favorite player on this list by far.  When I post material on my blog I always write my own articles and post pictures of cards in my collection.  This is one article where I sought some outside input on ranking fairness, not sounding too biased against Canseco, etc.

When I came up with the idea of this countdown and started making a list he naturally appeared on the initial planning list which consisted of more than 100 players who have appeared on a baseball card during my thirty years in the hobby.  Despite the fact that I am a little bit grossed out by Canseco, there can be little doubt for those involved in the hobby over the last 30 years that Canseco has had a huge impact both on and off the field.  Let's start out with a rookie card.

1986 Donruss Jose Canseco RC 

Canseco has several rookie cards that appear in 1986 releases.  The regular Topps base set from that year was lean in terms of any rookies, but he did appear in the regular Donruss and Fleer sets from that year.  Canseco would also make an appearance in the 1986 Topps Traded set.  The three rookie cards, Donruss, Fleer, and Topps Traded, are all kind of iconic 80s baseball cards.  The Donruss has always been my favorite.  I like the Rated Rookie sign in the corner, the yellow A's jersey, and the mullet and bad mustache.  There all pretty inexpensive, unless they grade high, and fairly easy to find.

Hobby Impact-
Canseco cards have always been extraordinarily popular with collectors.  It was kind of a mark against your collection in the late eighties/early nineties if you did not have a Canseco rookie somewhere.  The beginning of his career in Oakland was phenomenal and his popularity in the hobby swelled when a reached the 40/40 milestone and also helped the A's become one of the dominate forces of baseball in the late 80s.  He was later traded to the Rangers and Red Sox, back to A's, throw in sometime in Toronto, Yankees, White Sox, Angels, and maybe a try-out with the Expos during spring training.  Through it all, Canseco maintained a core of collectors who were loyal to his cards.

It always surprises me how popular his cards have stayed throughout the years.  In many ways he was one of the villains (or a hero-depends on your perspective) of the steroid era, but unlike other players caught up in the mix, Canseco's cards have remained popular and valuable.  He has a few relics floating around and a few autographs too.  One of the biggest downfalls of Canseco relics and autographs has always been the fact that many of these cards are from the end of Canseco's career.  That means you aren't getting Canseco as an A's player, how most remember him, but rather a Devil Ray or White Sox.

2000 UD Ionix Authentics Jose Canseco Autograph 

The autographs easily sell for $20 and short-printed, low serial number autographs can often drift towards $50 or higher.  Find an autograph of Canseco in an A's uniform and you will pay a premium on those prices: base autograph will be closer to 30 and serial numbered low will be north of 50 no problem.  For many Canseco fans, these cards are nice to add to their collection, but many just like the cards from his days in Oakland.  It doesn't matter whether it was his first stop, or second stop, nothing beats seeing Canseco in the green and gold.

On The Field Impact-
Sometimes I forget how good Canseco was his first few years in the game.  He won the 1986 American League Rookie of the Year, the 1988 American League MVP, the first player in MLB history to record a 40 steal/40 home run season, and was a World Champion on the 1989 Oakland A's. Really, it would be easy to make a huge list from Canseco's first few seasons in the Majors.  Canseco's numbers slid slightly his last two or three years in Oakland and I remember being really surprised when he was traded from the A's to the Rangers at the end of the 1992 season.

Just strictly looking at his home runs and other surface stats the level of Canseco's fall is not totally clear, but his oWAR went from 6.1 in 1991 to 1.9 in 1992.  Mix in that his OPS+ had fallen from a high of 170 all the way down to 128.  Canseco was definitely an above average offensive player after leaving Oakland, but he was pretty much a DH most of the rest of his career, and his real value was hitting home runs.  His end of career high notes were hitting 46 home runs for the Blue Jays in 1998 and following that up with a season of 34 for the Devil Rays in 1999.  Canseco also picked up a World Series ring in 2000 with the Yankees.

Canseco's real impact on the game since his retirement, Canseco insists that he was blacklisted, has been his whistle-blowing surrounding the steroids.  In 2005, Canseco wrote a book, Juiced, which detailed his steroid use throughout his career.  While penning the book he managed to throw a few other players under the bus including: Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez, and Jason Giambi.  Most of the names on this list, minus Pudge, have all been caught or admitted their steroid use.

Canseco also appeared in the Mitchell Report as a source and also wrote a follow-up book which named ARod as a steroid user, along with Albert Belle and Magglio Ordonez.

Favorite Card-

1987 Topps Mini Jose Canseco 

Is this considered a rookie card?  No?  The 1987 cards have always been some of my favorites and the mini version is also really cool.  The cards still feature the trademark wood frame of the regular 1987 Topps cards, but they don't have the same name box at the bottom and lack the team logo at the top.  In someways, these cards are similar to the 1986 Topps mini cards, but they just changed the border.  Either which way, a really cool set and the Canseco card features him with his mullet and polyester A's uniform.