Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday 5: Five(ish) Cards I Love In 2015 Topps Update

I opened a little bit of Topps Update last weekend and walked away with an obscene number of throwbacks.  There were other cards in the boxes outside of the all of those cool 60s and 70s Topps cards.  For this week's Friday Five I am going to work a little bit with the base set cards from the Update set.  I tried to go through and pick out just the five coolest cards from the set, but that proved a fairly tough task.  So, instead I am going with five cool things I found in my two boxes of Update using five(ish) cards.

5. Former Durham Bulls in the Majors 
The ultimate goal of a minor league team is to graduate players to the Major Leagues.  Even if they do not end up playing for the Rays in the long term, it is still cool to watch a baseball game and see somebody in there from the Bulls.  This year's Topps Update set offered several Durham Bulls, but since this post is using five(ish) cards I am going to limit this section of my blog post to exactly five cards.

First, there are the normal Minor League types who get called up to the Majors and make the team.  Mahtook was a high draft pick by the Rays out of LSU and Andriese was in the Brad Boxberger/Logan Forsythe trade with the Padres.  Both players had been with the Bulls before this season and had proven their worth to the Rays.  

Then there are a few former Durham Bulls who are good stories.  Joey Butler was a career Minor Leaguer who started the year out in Durham, but spent the majority of the summer with the Rays playing well in his first extended stay in the Majors.  Sometimes players like Butler can fly under the radar in the Update sets, great to see Topps get him a card.

Stephen Vogt has an All-Star card in the set.  He was kind of a forgotten player with the Rays and ended up being more or less dumped in a conditional trade to the A's.  Awesome to see him get a little recognition for his good play this year with a trip to the All-Star game.

and then there is this card.  Yes, Travis Shaw is a nice looking prospect for the Red Sox, but Allan Dykstra is also on the card.  Last summer he won the Triple A All-Star Game home run derby in Durham.  He signed a minor league deal with the Rays, spent time in the Majors during April, but was released in the middle of the summer.  He still has the championship belt.....

4.  Former Cardinals on the All-Star Team 

It was great to see Albert Pujols regain some of his power this summer, although his slash line was down across the board, and make the American League All-Star team.  Shelby Miller was a really good story this year.  Sure, his win-loss record was something terrible, but he still pitched well for the Braves and seems to be an important part of the team's future.  

3.  Current Cardinals All-Stars 

I really liked these cards in the Update set.  Not every team has a card like this, but I liked the idea of having a team like card show the All-Star Game representatives.  Not sure why they did not just make this a straight team card instead of assigning it to a player, this is a Trevor Rosenthal card, but I still like it.  These guys all got booed......

2.  Jason Heyward on the Cardinals 

I'm not sure if the Cardinals are going to sign Heyward.  I have enjoyed watching him play this year, but this card could be just about the last wearing a Cardinals uniform, or this could be the start of a long run of cards with him in Cardinal red.  

1.  Rookie Cards 
The best part of buying Update sets is the rookie cards.  I liked the Joey Gallo and Kris Bryant cards the best.  I swear that's Joey Gallo in all of that Gatorade.  Pretty cool card.  The Bryant card is a little simpler, but it's always nice to see a card with Wrigley Field in the background.  


Tuesday, October 27, 2015


It has been a month or two since I have added a new Longoria card.  He is one of my favorite former Durham Bulls players that I have followed in the Majors and spent a lot of time and money on his cards.  My latest Longoria card is cool for many reasons beyond the fact that it an autographed card of the Rays third baseman.  Here's a look at the card..... 

This autograph actually comes from the SP Authentic By The Letter set.  Back in the day when Upper Deck made baseball cards this was always one of the best products around every year.  The base cards were about what you would expect out of a 90 card set from Upper Deck, but these autographs were also cool to pull out of packs.  They are always something that would I look for in trades and on the cheap on sites like Ebay and COMC.

This is the first time I have been able to put my hands on a copy of the Longoria card.  I picked this up in a trade with local card guy Jimmy, or Big D.  The card is serial numbered 1/5 which makes this card a really sweet find.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Holy Stamped Buybacks Batman!

This past weekend I spent a little bit of time opening a pair of 2015 Topps Update Hobby boxes.  I should have ended the break with 4 buybacks.  I know that the odds on the boxes are approximate and they can run a little bit hot, or cold, and sometimes as collectors we walk away with a little more or less of something.  

Well, a little more would probably not be totally accurate in terms of beating the odds on the Buyback cards in my boxes...Here's a look at my haul, 11 of them came out of one box......

and my best Buyback card has to be the best Buyback card that I have pulled.  Great card and it is in great condition too......

I have seen other collectors pull really cool Buyback cards, but I never seem to land any of them.  It appears that I finally caught up a little bit this weekend.  


When I was growing up in St. Louis one of the most unique players on the Cardinals was Jose Oquendo.  'The Secret Weapon" was used all over the field by Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog.  Later in his career Oquendo mainly played 2B, but early in his career he appeared all over the outfield and infield and even appeared as a catcher and a pitcher in a game or two.  There are a few players currently in the Majors who remind me a little bit of Oquendo's unique ability to play all over the field.

The most obvious player that comes to many fans mind is former Durham Bull/Rays super utility player Ben Zobrist.  Over the years I have always been a pretty big fan of Zo's and have been pretty active in trying to add some of his cards.  This week though, I found an autographed card of another player who could be put into the super utility category.

During the 2015 season Harrison spent the lion's share of his time playing at third base for the Pirates, but also spent time at second base, and both corner outfield spots.  His offensive numbers were down from 2014 when he made the National League All-Star team, but he was still a fun player, in my eyes, to watch.  

Harrison had a limited number of autographs before the 2015 card calendar.  Some of those options were frankly a little more pricey than I would go on the signature of a utility guy.  Still a cool player, but not $30-$40 cool.  This year however, Harrison has signed for several different products and the prices of his cards have slid into the $5-$10 range.  This card cost me slightly more than $5 shipped which is a great price for an autograph out of a nice product like Supreme.  Hey, it's even an on-card autograph.  

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Podcast Episode 5- 2015 Topps Update, World Series Predictions, Etc.

More From the Vault

I picked up another card from the Topps Vault this past week when I landed a copy of Tim Beckham's Topps Heritage High Numbers blank back.  The card is a one of one and features one of my favorite Durham Bulls players......

Beckham actually split the season between the Durham Bulls and the Rays.  He should some good pop for the Rays hitting 9 home runs in part play.  With Asdrubal Cabrera leaving as a free agent this off season Beckham should get a chance to start next year.  Maybe.  This 1/1 card has the usual blank back from the Topps Vault with the sticker in the lower right hand corner of the card......

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Friday Five: Top 5 World Series of the Last 30 Years

We have the World Series starting next week.   Mets are in. Right now it is looking a lot like the Royals are going to win the American League, but I will give the Blue Jays a small chance to pull off the reverse 1985 by coming back from 3 game to 1.  Back in 1985 the Royals were down 3 to 1 and won the series in seven games.  So, for this week's Friday Five I am counting down the best World Series from the last 30 years.  I have a few honorable mentions before I get to my 5....

Honorable Mention 1- 2004 Red Sox vs Cardinals 

It's to really say that the 2004 World Series was really competitive since the Red Sox swept the Cardinals.  As a Cardinals fan, I can say that the team really never had much of a chance after Game 1.  More importantly the Red Sox ended their long World Series drought.  As a baseball fan it almost felt as if the World Series was a forgone conclusion after the team fought back from a 3-0 deficit to their rival Yankees in the American League Championship Series.  The team went on to win two World Series titles over the next decade.

Honorable Mention 2- 2005 White Sox vs Astros 

Similar to the 2004 Red Sox, the White Sox had endured a long World Series drought.  The 2005 team did not steam roll the competition, but they won a lot of close games in the American League Championship Series and World Series.  There was not really a star player on the team.  Frank Thomas was still on the White Sox roster during the 2005 season, but was inactive for the World Series.  The World Series ended in a sweep, but again the games were pretty close contests.

Honorable Mention 3- 1993 Blue Jays vs Phillies 

The Blue Jays were the better team in the series and rightfully won the Fall Classic in 6 games.  The Phillies still had their moments though, most notably was Curt Schilling's performance in Game 5.  Really, I put this on the list because there has only been one walk off World Series deciding home run during the past twenty-five years and this was it....A classic...

5. 1997 Marlins vs Indians 

The Marlins were a loaded team.  The Indians were a loaded team.  Lots of offense in this series that went all the way to a seventh game.  The Indians had the lead late in the game, trying to erase a World Series drought that extended back to 1948, but Jose Mesa blew the save opportunity.  Eventually the Marlins won the game on a walk off single by shortstop Edgar Renteria.  


4. 2002 Angels vs Giants 

The Giants had the best player in baseball in Barry Bonds and a chance to close out the World Series in Game 6.  The team was up 5-0, but lost the game after giving up a three run home run to Scott Spiezo and then a two run double to Troy Glaus.  Game 7 featured a spectacular outing by rookie John Lackey who shut down the Giants offense.  

3.  2011 Cardinals vs Rangers 

Game 6 with the David Freese two out, two strike double, Lance Berkman two out, two strike game tying single, and Freese's walk off home run might put this series on the last.  Add in a game with a player hitting three home runs, a few good games by the Rangers and an MVP caliber performance by Mike Napoli, a seventh game, a great pitching performance by Chris Carpenter....I could go on and on.  Lots of good stuff in this World Series.  

2.  1991 Twins vs Braves 

Again, one game could have put this World Series on the list.  The Game 7 extra innings dual between John Smoltz and Jack Morris ranks as one of the classic Fall Classic games.  Also add in four games decided in the final at-bat, including Game 7, three extra inning games, and four one run games.  In the end the Twins won the Series taking home their second banner in five years.  I love the Kirby Puckett Game 6 walk off home run....

1.  2001 Diamondbacks vs Yankees

The 2001 World Series went seven games.  Two of the games were blowout wins for the DBacks, but the rest of the games were close and competitive with a lot of late inning drama.  The defining moment of the series came in Game 7 when the Diamondbacks mounted a come from behind victory against Mariano Rivera, who had been untouchable in the Postseason up till this game....

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

and it didn't cost $125!

Recently it has seemed like anytime I really want a card that I have little problem tracking it down, but cannot find a reasonable seller.  When the 2015 Topps Heritage Minors set was released a few weeks back I was all in on finding an Andruw Jones autograph.  The autograph is the only Durham Bulls card in the entire set.  Being my favorite Minor League team means that this card is a must have for my collection.  Except, the few that are listed on Ebay look something like this........

I love the Durham Bulls.  I can tolerate Andruw Jones because he was on the Durham Bulls, but $125 for any sort of Andruw Jones autograph is crazy.  For $125 the seller should arrange to have Andruw meet me at work one day so we can eat lunch together.  Something.

There were some auctions of this card that I missed out on where the cards ended up selling around $15 to $20, but I got sniped on a few of them.  A few others I missed out on for other reasons, like sleep, or just forgetting about the card.  With only 35 copies of the card floating around I was starting to get a little bit worried, but I finally landed a copy of the card and I did not pay $125.  Not close.  Here's look at the front.....

The sticker autograph is a bit of bummer, but that is the only thing that is a negative with this card.  Topps actually did a decent job of masking the sticker a bit with the foggy effect at the bottom of the card.  It's not glaringly obvious that the autograph is signed on a sticker.  At first I thought that picture on the card was airbrushed.  The Bulls did have the cursive script jersey when Jones played in Durham, but the pants, especially around the belt loops, look like something from the Braves.  However, after a little bit of searching on the internet I found the picture is actually from the Carolina/California League All-Star Game.  

Pretty cool picture of Jones.  Here's a peak at the back of the card including the serial numbers.  

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Stan the Man

Before you read any further, you must start the video above, and listen to the song while you are reading the post.....

I picked up a few cards from a collector I frequently buy and trade with on Facebook.  I actually have several of these hanging out in a crate, but I cannot really say no to an affordable Stan Musial autograph.  Here is a look at the signed postcard.....

Back in the day these were really easy to run across in St. Louis.  At some point Stan Musial started a memorabilia company that dealt with merchandising different items, including autographs, that featured the likeness of Stan Musial.  They had lots of cool stuff, but much of it was out of my price range.  However, the company did send out postcards to fans who wrote to the company.  Much like teams send out fan packs, Stan the Man, sent out autographed postcards.  Most of the postcards I have seen like this, including mine, are signed in blue.  I am guessing the black ink was a later version of the postcard.  

If you are looking for a Stan Musial autograph to add to your collection these are fairly cheap, easy to find, and have a identification on the back of the postcard showing it came from Stan Musial's memoribilia company.  


Way back in the day I started to rearrange my cards.  Yes, that's still happening.  I am dragging along slowly, but surely.  One day I will finish and do some sort of sort of celebratory post displaying the awesomeness of my reorganized collection.  Here are three years of the collection neatly stacked in a closet, just 29 more to go.....

This weekend I spent time working on picking up a few Topps Tek cards from last week's release and I also organized my 2005 cards.  There are a lot of 2005 cards in my collection, definitely some cool rookie cards that year, but there are a ton of sticker autographs.  I am not sure if was the height of sticker autographs, but certainly has to be in the running.  Anyway, after flipping through my 2005 boxes and pulling out all of my autographs I decided to pick out one of the cards I ran across for my weekly #MyCardMonday post.

Topps has always done a really good job of putting cool players, and others, into their Archives/Fan Favorite products.  Plus in 2005 it was one of the few products that was loaded with on card autographs.  As a Cardinals fan this was one of my favorite cards from that year.  I did not pull it from a pack, but I managed to snag a copy at a local card shop in St. Louis.  So, who is Walt Jocketty?

He is currently the Reds GM, but ran the Cardinals from 1994 through the end of the 2007 season.  Along the way he traded for some pretty fair players: Mark McGwire, Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen, Edgar Renteria, and Mark Mulder.  Don't forget he also signed Chris Carpenter off the Blue Jays trash heap.  Pretty important GM for the Cardinals who helped them win the 2006 World Series.

This card is short printed, there are only 90 of them, but you can still find them floating around different places.  The card has a really dark background, with the green dugout and Jocketty wearing a blue sport coat, so he signed all of the cards on the bottom.  Not the best look for an autograph placement, but this card is still one of my favorites.

Podcast Episode 4- Topps Tek

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday 5: Top 5 Former Durham Bulls in the League Championship Series

I had five minutes this afternoon while I was eating my lunch to gaze at the rosters of the team's left in the two League Championship Series.  I had planned on writing up a Friday Five post this afternoon when I got home from work, which I am still doing, but decided to change my topic.  The original one was pretty good, but I can get to that next week.  For the time being I am going to tackle what I found on the rosters of this year's LCS participants: former Durham Bulls players.

What else can I say about my favorite Minor League team that has not been said over the few years that I have written on my blog.  Their parent team is not even in the playoffs, we have been seem a wild card round, a division series round, and their are still players from past Bulls team's still vying for a World Series ring.  As Bulls fans we see the "Building Champions" motto around the park and can see the evidence on the field every year come playoff time when we get to watch some of our former favorites take the big stage in October.  Here are five former Bulls players to watch as the League Championship Series start this weekend:

5. Dioner Navarro- Toronto Blue Jays - C

The Blue Jays backup catcher appeared for the Bulls during the 2010 season splitting the year between the International League and the Rays.  In 43 games with the Bulls the backstop had a slash line of .284/.387/.390.  The is Dioner's second season with the Blue Jays.  Last year he appeared in 139 games for the Jays, but settled into the backup role behind Russell Martin for the 2015 season.  This is his third trip to the MLB postseason.  Navarro also appeared on the 2008 Rays American League Champions team and the 2012 Cincinnati Reds.  

4. Jason Hammel- Chicago Cubs - P

The Cubs starting pitcher appeared for the Durham Bulls during the 2005, 2006, and 2007 seasons.  He even tossed a combined no-hitter for the Bulls.  Hammel's has also been a solid starting pitcher throughout his 10 year career in the Majors.  This is his second go around with the Cubs after being traded to the A's in between stints for some shortstop prospect named Addison Russell.  Hammel's made one start during the National League Division Series against the Cardinals, but did not factor in the decision.  This is Hammel's fourth appearance in the playoffs.  He also appeared for the 2009 Colorado Rockies, 2010 Orioles, and the 2014 Oakland A's.

3. Ben Zobrist- Kansas City Royals - 2B

The Royals seem content with player Zo at second, but it's nice to see the super utility player back in the playoffs.  Zobrist played for the Bulls during the 2006, 2007, and 2008 seasons.  He played all the infield positions for the Bulls, except for 1B, and did his usual job of getting on base posting a .415 rate in his three Triple A appearances.  He started off the year with the A's after the Rays traded him this offseason.  The A's traded Zobrist to the first place Royals in the middle of the season.  This is Zobrist's fifth appearance in the playoffs.  He made four appearances with the Rays in 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2013.

2. Wade Davis- Kansas City Royals - P

Way back in 2008 and 2009 Wade Davis appeared for the Durham Bulls as a starting pitcher.  He was a top prospect for the Rays, but found a home in the bullpen starting during the 2012 season.  A year later he was involved in the Wil Myers trade and found himself starting again for the Royals.  Luckily the team moved him back to the pen where the hard throwing righty has had an impressive two year run.  Davis ended the season as the closer for the Royals and has been lights out for the team so far in the playoffs.  So far, with 4 innings pitched, he has 5 strikeouts and allowed only a single hit.  This is Wade's fourth appearance in the postseason.  He also made the playoffs with the 2010 and 2011 Rays and the 2014 Royals.

1. David Price- Toronto Blue Jays -P

Price was one of the best prospects in baseball when he rolled through Durham during the 2008 and 2009 seasons.  It was cool to see him in Durham to start the 2009 season considering he helped the Rays advance to the World Series during the 2008 postseason.  The Rays traded the talented starter to the Tigers last year, who then turned around and traded him to the Blue Jays this year.  The 2015 Postseason marks his sixth trip to the playoffs.  He made four appearances with the Rays and one with the Tigers.  He has not had the same results in the Postseason as he has had in the regular season, but I am hoping he can turn it around this year for the Jays.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


A little old school tonight for tonight's post.  I was going back through some of my old sets trying to finish off a few of them when I ran across a few holes in my 2002 Topps Pristine set.  Most notably I was lacking a Jason Simontacchi card.  For those unfamiliar with him, he played for the Cardinals in the early 2000s primarily during the 2002 and 2003 seasons.  Not the best pitcher by any stretch of the imagination, but he was popular with fans.  

So, I got my base card of Simontacchi's Topps Pristine card, or Common, but also managed to pick up a few other cool Simontacchi cards from the set.  Here's a look at the other two cards from the Pristine set:  


Both of the new Simontacchi cards are Gold Refractors from the set and are serial numbered out of 70.  I also like that Topps used the deckle edges for these cards.  They are shiny and bright, but the edges give the cards a cool texture too.  The best part of landing these two cool Simontacchi cards is the fact that they cost slightly less than $2.  He might not have been the best pitcher in the world, but he is still a Cardinal, and these cards are still both numbered to 70.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Bauer Outage

It has been a while since I have done a USA Baseball autograph, but I found a really cool card from the Upper Deck years cheap on Ebay last week.  Upper Deck did not hold the license for the USA Baseball team for very long, but they made some really nice products during their brief run.  I like these By The Letter cards, which they normally put into the SP Authentic set, and have never added one of these from a USA Baseball player.  As a Cardinals fan I have looked into the Kolten Wong version of this card, but have never tracked one down for the right price.

As an added bonus, for exactly $0.99, I also added a copy of the Johnny Field 2012 USA Baseball autograph pictured below:

This is my second copy of this card featuring the Rays prospect during his time with the USA Baseball College Team.  He helped the University of Arizona win a National Championship during his time in college.  He should be a Durham Bulls player next year, I thought he might have been up at this end of this year.  Never happened.  Definitely a player I am looking to work on this offseason.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


I have been filling in a few holes in my Durham Bulls collection the past few weeks.  I am not sure why I have been stuck on Bulls cards lately.  Is it a lack of International League playoff games this fall?  It could be since the Bulls have made the playoffs seven times during the past decade.  Baseball fans in this part of North Carolina are spoiled with having both a fantastic product on and off the field with our Durham Bulls.  It makes me want to get a cup of Lollygagger from the Bull Durham Beer Company and a hot dog and enjoy some baseball......

On to the card.

I picked this Scott Diamond up for less than $5.  I know that he was one of those older guys pitching in the minors this year, but the former Twins hurler had a nice year for the Bulls picking up the team's award for their pitcher of the year.  In 25 starts, Diamond won 11 games and posted an ERA of 3.71.  This Scott Diamond card comes from the 2013 Triple Threads set and features a nice looking on-card autograph.  He had a bunch of certified autographs with Topps in 2013, but I have liked this card for awhile and just not acted on bidding on one.  The pinstriped jersey pieces are a nice touch on top of the autograph.

A Trade With Big D

I recently had a chance to sit down with Jimmy, from the card shop previously known as Big D's, to trade a few baseball cards.  Even though Big D's is not open Jimmy still takes care of all the old store customers with boxes and still looks out for cool single cards for our collections.  He had been putting together a pile of cards for me over the summer and I was happy to sit down, look at the cards, and help him add a few nice cards to his collection.  

Here are my newest cards:

Starting off small, but I needed this card for my Heritage High Numbers.  This was one of the cards I most eager to add to my collection from this product.  Honestly, if I had not touched High Numbers at all I still would have gone after this great looking Mahtook rookie card.  Mahtook spent last year with the Durham Bulls and this year going back and forth between the Bulls and Rays.  Snorting Bull favorite for sure and a cool looking card.  

Next up is a Kolten Wong Museum Collection autograph.  I have other version of this Wong autograph, but not the double jersey piece.  I really like the look of these cards, nice card, cool autograph.  

Another Durham Bulls favorite with this Blue Bowman Chrome Hak Ju Lee autograph.  The card is numbered to 150 and is a variation of this card I did not have in my collection yet.  and the final card......

This gem is from the 2004 Playoff Prime Cut set.  The scan does not really do the card justice.  This was a high product that had tons of relics and autographs from Hall of Famers.  Not just the garden variety either, but a lot of players from the 20s, 30s, and 40s who do not have a lot of relic cards.  Hornsby was the first superstar player in the history of the Cardinals and there are not a ton of relics of him floating around.  He has had a few in some Panini products the last year too, but there are not many in nice looking products like the 2004 Prime Cuts set.  Definitely a great card to add to the collection.  

Saturday, October 10, 2015

2015 Topps Heritage Minor League

I am probably a little bit slow on this post, but I recently picked up a box of Topps Heritage Minors.  I have seen tons of posts on other blogs about this product and have really enjoyed reading and seeing everybody else's pulls from this product.  I love watching Minor League baseball and this is one of my favorite products every year.  I know that it is nothing high end, nor super fancy, but I like seeing the Minor League guys in their actual Minor League uniforms.

So, not to rehash too rehash too much about the base set design, or the content of the base set, I am just going to take a few minutes to write about the hits I got out of my box.  I am going to start off with the only low numbered parallel card out of my box, no printing plates, but this was nice for my collection of Rays players....

Honeywell was in A ball last year, and he is still just 20, so he is probably a few years away from being on the Durham Bulls, but this is the type of card I can put in a box and happily revisit in a few years.  The orange parallel has a limited print run of just 25 copies.  On to my relic....

Urias is a really highly regarded prospect, so this was a nice pull.  I am not always the biggest fan of relics and I kind of wonder where this piece of jersey came from considering that all of the Dodgers affiliates have a blue color scheme.  I like trying to figure things like this out, but have not tried too hard yet on this one.  I am trying to decide between a Great Lakes Loons jersey, or perhaps something from the Futures Game in Minnesota. 

On to some autographs.   First up is Wes Parsons.  The Braves prospect pitched very little this year, due to injuries, but looked good when he played.  Perhaps next year.  He spent part of the season playing locally with the Carolina Mudcats in Zebulon, so perhaps I will drive over and watch him pitch next spring.  With the promotion of Lucas Sims he might be the best pitcher on that team to start the 2016 season.  

Last one.  Brandon Drury made it all the way up to the Majors with Diamondbacks this year.  I am not sure how serious of a prospect the third baseman is going to be in the long run.  He seems to have a limited amount of power, though he did end his 2015 season in the Minors with 40 doubles, and some of his other offensive skills seem limited too.  Perhaps a utility player?  It's a nice looking card if nothing else.