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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

How Did I Do In 2019?

I set goals at the beginning for 2019 way back in January.  I will do the same with my first post of 2020, but first let me go back over my 4 goals for this calendar year. 

The four goals were:

1. Less sets, sort of....
2. More single cards
3. More small projects
4. More Cardinals and Durham Bulls cards

A quick breakdown on each goal. 


Goal #1 - Less sets, sort of....

I had originally set out to put together four different sets during the 2019 calendar year.  The four were Topps Series 1, Topps Series 2, Topps Update, and Topps Heritage. 

I ended up buying packs of Series 1, Series 2, and Update.  I never put the sets together.  I did not really miss them too much, and it made my wife really happy that I was not sorting out tons of new cards this year.  Happy wife, happy life. 

I did put together the Topps Heritage set, and also got a bunch of the autographs. 



My favorite was obviously my Snell autograph. 

Underperforming on a goal that involves cutting back is usually considered a win.  My wife does not read my blog, but she has been thrilled that there have been hundreds of cards out at a time most of this year, rather than thousands. 

This is a win. 




Goal #2 - More Single Cards 

Two players were mentioned by name when I wrote this goal up last January.  First, I could not have done any better with trying to find cards of Blake Snell.  I reached almost 30 autographed Snell cards on the year, which does not include other single cards that I found of my favorite former Durham Bulls player. 




Obvious success.  

I also mentioned trying to find more Jack Flaherty cards.  That got a little complicated as the year went along.  Last year, Snell won the Cy Young and his cards did not move very much in price.  Flaherty was a Cy Young contender this year, but his cards got a little harder to find/afford after the middle of the season.  

I still picked up a few nice ones along the way.  




I am going to work more on Flaherty next year.  Still, happy with the Flaherty cards that I added to my collection.  All things considered, I think that I did well with his cards.  

I usually pick a Durham Bulls player to collect during the year.  That did not really happen this year.  I mainly worked with former Durham Bulls players like Brandon Lowe, but that really goes with my fourth goal.  




Overall, I did really well this year buying single cards.  I mean, that's pretty much all I did all year.  




3. More Small Projects 

This goal start off great.  Way back at the beginning of the year, I went through and worked on finishing up a bunch of the 1980s Topps Glossy Mail-In sets.  I had chunks of the sets, but none of them were complete.  I did a great job of finding the cards I needed, and closing out my lists to finish off the sets. 




After I the Glossy sets, I think I might have done a Denny's set.  There might have been a Durham Bulls set or two in there too.  Hmm. 

Did I mention that I collected Blake Snell cards this year? 




This goal did not really go to plan.  




It was a good idea.  It just did not work out the way I had intended. 

4. More Cardinals and Durham Bulls cards

If I did a full write up on the number of Cardinals and Durham Bulls cards that I added to my collection during the 2019 calendar year, it would quadruple the length of this post.  I am on vacation, nobody wants me to spend the entire day sitting in front of my computer typing up blog posts. 




My first post of 2020 is my new set of goals for the new year.  My second and third posts will be about my favorite Cardinals and Durham Bulls cards from the past year.  There are some good ones on the list.  I will share one card which checks off both lists as both a former Cardinal and Durham Bull......




Plus, it's a Cracker Jacks card.  That was a first too. 

Overall, this goal was a definite success, and gives me three out of my four goals for the year. 




New goals up in a few days.  I cannot wait to read what everyone else has planned for their collections in 2020.  

Saturday, December 28, 2019

If I Had A Hall of Fame Ballot

It's time for my annual Hall of Fame post.  Feel free to argue at the bottom of the post, no name calling.  I really liked the format I used last year, so I am keeping it this year.  Voters can pick up to ten players on their ballots out of a total of 32 retired players.  There are ten players on this year's ballot that I would vote for, so lets start out by getting rid of the 23 players I would not support, or need a little more time to ponder. 

Go. 

1. Heath Bell 
2. Jose Valverde 
3. J.J. Putz 
4. Adam Dunn 

I am going to give Adam Dunn a baseball card on my list.  He was a fun player who either hit a home run, struck out, or walked on the majority of his career at-bats.  Sure, that describes a lot of players in baseball today, but back in the early 2000s it was far less common.   Sorry, can't have Adam Dunn in the Hall of Fame. 






















5. Raul Ibanez 
6. Brad Penny 
7. Chone Figgins
8. Carlos Pena 

Is there a Hall of Fame for really cool autographs?  If there was, I would vote for Carlos Pena in my Top 10.  Unfortunately, there is no such Hall of Fame.  Carlos Pena was also in the Moneyball book.  Billy Beane trades him to the Detroit Tigers to force Art Howe to play Scott Hatteberg at first base.  Sorry Carlos, there is no place for you in Cooperstown.  Don't buy his 2002 Bowman autograph like I did. 






















9. Brian Roberts 
10. Josh Beckett 
11. Omar Vizquel 

I cannot believe that there are people who think Omar Vizquel is a Hall of Famer.  Last year, I did not give him a card, just a stock photo of a clown.  This year, I am not giving him a card, just a stock photo of a clown. 


















12. Eric Chavez 
13. Rafael Furcal 

Rafael Furcal won a World Series with the Cardinals in 2011, so he gets a card in this post. I appreciate his efforts in getting the Cardinals their 11th World Series Championship.  In particular, he hit a lead off triple against Roy Halladay in the first inning of Game 5 of the NLDS, and ended up scoring the only run of the game. Still not a Hall of Famer though.






















14. Cliff Lee 
15. Andy Pettitte 
16. Paul Konerko 

I liked watching Paul Konerko.  Not a Hall of Famer, though there are probably a few White Sox fans who think he should be in Cooperstown.  Just a really good player.  Worthy of a baseball card. 















17. Jason Giambi 
18. Jeff Kent 
19. Alfonso Soriano 
20. Billy Wagner 

I am not a big fan of putting relief pitchers into the Hall of Fame.  If I could restart the Hall of Fame, take people out, there are several relievers who would get the heave ho.  However, nobody is going to let me restart the Hall of Fame, so let me just say that I like Billy Wagner more than I like a few of the more recent elected closers.  Specifically Lee Smith and Trevor Hoffman.  I have some good Lee Smith blown save stories for a different post.  I would not vote for Billy Wagner, but I am sure there will likely be a day where he gets into Cooperstown. 





















21. Bobby Abreu 

I really like Bobby Abreu. I am not sure that many people realize how good his career numbers are, or how good he was during his career.  If you like WAR, WAR7, JAWS, and some of those other metrics to measure careers, than Bobby Abreu is in line with Vladimir Guerrero and Gary Sheffield.  I also like that he has almost 600 career doubles, and also 400 stolen bases.  I am putting Bobby Abreu outside of my top 10, but he's a player who at a minimum deserves a little bit more dialogue. 





















22. Gary Sheffield

I like numbers.  I do not always like to rely on my opinions of players during their career as a barometer of whether they are Hall worthy or not.  Gary Sheffield is in that same neighborhood as Bobby Abreu.  There are some numbers that are really good, like he has more than 500 home runs.  He's also one player, my opinion from watching him play, who feels like he should have better numbers.  Plus, that bat waggle was sort of scary as a Cardinals fan.  I would not have a problem with Sheffield being in the Hall, but I have 10 players I like more. 























That brings me to my Top 10 players I would vote for if I had a Hall of Fame ballot.  Each of them gets a blurb. 


10. Derek Jeter 

I would vote for Derek Jeter.  I think he's a Hall of Famer.  I also don't think he is as good as Ozzie Smith or Cal Ripken.  Does ARod count as a shortstop, because he was not as good as him either.  Also Robin Yount.  Yep, Derek Jeter is a Hall of Famer.  Probably a good thing he was on the Yankees, otherwise he would be sitting around for the next two decades like Alan Trammell. 





















9.  Sammy Sosa 

I do not really care about steroids.  There were a lot of players who took them, and it did not guarantee players success.  You still had to be talented enough to actually hit the ball.  See Adam Piatt.  Sammy hit 600 home runs, which included three seasons with more than 60 home runs.  He should probably get a "Thank You" card from Major League Baseball for the whole 1998 home run race.  Baseball was very good to Sammy, let's do a little better.  Put him in the Hall. 
















8. Andruw Jones 

Let me tell you about modern centerfielders from the 1990s and 2000s.  Kenny Lofton should be in the Hall of Fame, but he was off the ballot in a year.  Jim Edmonds should be in the Hall of Fame, but he was off the ballot in a year.  Andruw Jones has done better.  I know there are many people who do not like Andruw Jones.  There are two halves of his career.  The Braves half was Hall of Fame worthy.  The Dodgers, Rangers, White Sox, and Yankees half was not.  In conclusion, Jim Edmonds and Kenny Lofton should be in the Hall of Fame. 























7. Manny Ramirez 

I am a big fan of Manny.  He has 555 home runs, 2,500 hits, 1,800 RBIs, a .585 slugging percentage, and a .996 career OPS.  Manny also helped the Red Sox win two World Series championships.  Have I ever mentioned that his rookie cards were photographed at Duke?  I know the answer is yes.  Pretty cool local connection. 















6.  Scott Rolen 

Rolen does not have the counting numbers that are essential for many Hall of Fame voters, but I still think he is worthy of a place in Cooperstown.  Even without great counting numbers, there are many metrics that place him amongst the top dozen or so third baseman.  Rolen's peak years with the Phillies and Cardinals were very good, in line with many of the already enshrined at his position.  I do not really care if ended up getting traded out of every city he played, put him in. 

















5. Todd Helton 

I had Helton outside my 10 players last year on my Hall of Fame post last year.  Yes, there are some problematic numbers with Helton, especially his home and road splits.  However, I am not going to penalize him for playing half of his career in Coors.  Many players have been on the Rockies, but few are Hall of Fame worthy.  He only had 369 home runs, which might seem low with a long career at Coors, but he also had almost 600 doubles.  Throw in a batting title, along with a great career slashline, and I am fine with Helton being in the Hall. 























4. Curt Schilling 

I have a lot of problems with Curt Schilling the person.  There are plenty of other players in the Hall that have said and done plenty of questionable things.  Curt Schilling the baseball player is Hall of Fame worthy.  Great Postseason player. 






















3. Larry Walker 

I have posted a lot about Larry Walker in the past.  I feel like it's all been covered.  I also feel like he is going to make it into the Hall this year.  Just a feeling. 























2.  Roger Clemens 

Clemens has 350 wins and more than 4,500 strikeouts.  He's the greatest right-handed pitcher that I have seen in person.  Yes, he was on steroids.  No, I do not care. 























1.  Barry Bonds 

Barry Bonds is a Hall of Famer.  That's the blurb. 


Thursday, December 26, 2019

I'm Just Happy To Be Here

Six years ago Merrill Kelly was a fringe prospect pitching for the Durham Bulls.  He played in college, so he was little older by the time he reached Triple A.  Merrill Kelly played for the Bulls during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, and was good enough to make the International League All-Star team his final year in Durham.  I liked watching Merrill Kelly for the two years he was in Durham, even if he never got a chance to play with the Rays.

I posted his team set card from 2014 a few years back.




Merrill Kelly would eventually end up in Korea, where he would pitch for the SK Wyverns.  They have baseball cards. I think this might one of the only Korean cards in my collection.




Merrill Kelly ended up back in the US this past season with the Diamondbacks.  He was mostly an average pitcher this year in Arizona, but still had some good moments during the season.   




I'm just happy that there are Merrill Kelly cards.  

Topps had the great idea to make a bunch of Merrill Kelly baseball cards.  He also signed a ton of autographs for them.  I waited awhile, but recently had the chance to buy a bunch of Merrill Kelly autographs.  All totaled, it cost right around $10 for three cards.  I also pulled one out of a pack of cards a student got my as a holiday gift.  

Here are my four Merrill Kelly autographs in countdown form:


4. Topps Chrome Update

Aren't all the Chrome autographs normally on card?  The sticker looks a little bit out of place on this card.  Get rid of the sticker, make it an on-card autograph and it might be at the top of the list.  It also looks like it was not Merrill's best day signing autographs.  Again, I really wish that this autograph was on-card, I would rate it much higher.  




3. Topps Tek 

I like Topps Tek.  It's affordable and the autographs are all on-card.  Topps has simplified the pattern aspects on these cards, so they all look the same.  I also like that Topps has a faded area around the bottom for the signer.  Always makes for a nice card.  Still, there are better cards of Merrill Kelly out there.  





2. Topps Gallery 

Topps Gallery is a sticker autograph, and I do not even care.  It's well blended, and the art on this card more than makes up for the sticker autograph.  Plus, it was a good signing day for Merrill Kelly when he was autographing these cards.  This is the lone autograph on this list that I did not buy off of Ebay.  My students at school all know that I enjoy a few baseball cards, sometimes they give me packs.  This came out of a Gallery blaster.  





1. 2019 Topps Update 1984 Topps Merrill Kelly 

I did not really do much with the 2019 Topps sets.  Any of them.  I did really enjoy these 1984 style inserts and autographs though.  It has long been   Last year, I spent time working on assembling a set of the 1983 cards, plus I found several of the autographs.  This year, I have completely skipped over most of the base set in favor of spending my time and money on the autographs.  It's the end of the year, this is likely the end of my 2019 Topps cards, so it's a nice way to end the year.  




Monday, December 23, 2019

A 1980s Card Part 32- 1983 Glenn Brummer

Glenn Brummer is a 1980s Cardinals legend.  He only played in 129 games as a Cardinal over four years, but there are few Redbird fans who have not heard about his one legendary play/act as a member of the 1982 World Series Championship team.  It was captured on the back of his 1983 Topps card.

First the front.





I like this picture.  Brummer was the third catcher on the Cardinals roster behind Darrell Porter and Gene Tenace, but he got a picture in Wrigley Field.  That's as good as it gets for a third catcher.  In fact, I think this is Brummer's best card overall.  That includes several years as a player, and a fairly good run as a Minor League coach and manager.

Now, the back of the card.




You can see Brummer's long career as a Minor Leaguer in the Cardinals system.  There is also mention of him stealing home in a 5-4 late August game.  It is the stuff of legends around St. Louis.  Brummer in his own words.......





For awhile, MLB had a video of the steal up on their website, but the link is now dead.  All that is left is a grainy photo of Brummer and Giants catcher Milt May.  



While the Cardinals were in first place at the time of Brummer's steal, at the time of this play the Phillies were gaining ground.  After this game, the Phillies remained a few games behind the Cardinals the rest of the season.  It was more of a momentum shifting play, rather than something like the David Freese triple and home run during the sixth game of 2011 World Series.  

It actually reminds me a lot of the Pujols home run against the Padres at the end of 2006.....





which ended a 7 game losing streak at the end of the season.  

Great moment for a player who like Brummer, and nice that Topps put it on the back of a baseball card.  

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Vintage Pack

I do not know a lot about basketball cards.  I do know that I like to pick a few up from time to time, and that the vintage cards from the 1960s and 1970s are pretty sweet looking.  My smaller collection of basketball cards mostly includes former NC State players and a few old St. Louis Hawks.  The NC State players are mostly players I have watched since moving to North Carolina in 2005.  The Hawks are just more of a curiosity.

I recently had the chance to pick up two really inexpensive 1970s cards of two former NC State players.  Both were members of the 1974 National Championship team, which was notable because they ended UCLA's run. 




As a side note, the NC State player wearing 42 in the video is long time Orioles pitcher Tim Stoddard.  He is the only player to have won an NCAA Championship in basketball and a World Series ring (1983 Orioles).  

Both cards are 1976 Topps.  I love the appearance of these old 1970s basketball cards.  The better of the two cards is Hall of Famer David Thompson.  There have been plenty of good players at NC State over the years, but he's the gold standard.  




These are larger than the standard card.  As a baseball card collector, they are similar in size to the old Exhibits postcards.  I like the designs on the front of the card, but the backs are nice too.  



There are a lot of standard elements here for a card of this era that I often miss on modern cards.  The cartoon at the bottom of the card, and the dark background with the bright colored bright are two of the better features.  I also really like that Topps put the college stats at the top of the card.  It's a nice touch.  

My other card is from Tom Burleson who was the center on the 1974 team.  Great college player.  He was not a standout NBA player, but he supposedly had some injuries along the way.  This is the front of the card.  Love the uniforms.  



This is from early in his career, so the back of the card numbers from the NBA look good.  You can also see his college numbers, which were excellent.  




Burleson's numbers declined for the next few years until he retired after the 1980-1981 season.  As legend online goes, he was involved in a fight and was injured.  There is no actual account of the fight anywhere online.  It repeated enough places that I am certain that it is true to some degree.  

Monday, December 16, 2019

A 1980s Card Part 31- 1987 Topps Clint Hurdle

Clint Hurdle is one of the more interesting baseball stories of the last half century.  He was an incredible high school athlete who had a scholarship to play baseball and quarterback for the University of Miami.  At the same time, so the story goes, he also got into Harvard since he was virtually a straight A student.  His Drivers Education teacher gave him a B. 

The Royals drafted him in the first round and paid Hurdle enough money that he chose professional baseball over Miami or Harvard.  In 1977, as a 19 year old he hit .328 with 16 home runs and a .529 slugging percentage in Triple A.  Sports Illustrated claimed him to be the next big thing in baseball.  He got put on the front cover of the magazine. 




Over the next decade, Hurdle only played more than 100 games twice.  He played five years for the Royals, three years for the Mets, and single seasons for both the Reds and Cardinals.  Hurdle's best season was in 1980 when he hit .294 with 10 home runs for the American League Champions.  While the Royals lost the World Series to the Phillies, Hurdle hit .417.  Not his fault. 

Hurdle had some noted off the field problems throughout his career.  He hit just .195 for the 1985 New York Mets, but at just 28 years old the Cardinals gave him a chance to play.  The majority of Hurdle's time with the Cardinals was spent filling in for Jack Clark at first, who was injured in 1986, but also spent time at third, left field, right field, and catcher. 

He hit .185 with a .299 slugging percentage.  Just for some context, Bob Forsch hit .171 with a .329 slugging percentage.  Hurdle still got a baseball card as a Cardinal in the 1987 Topps set. 




The picture is a little fuzzy, but I like the fact that the card has an action shot.  It is a picture that can also be tracked down to a game, and even a single at bat.  Hurdle actually only appeared in one game as a Cardinal in Shea Stadium during the 1986 season.  It was an April 14th game, he pinch hit in the eighth inning against Dwight Gooden and picked up a hit.    




It rated as one of the five most important plays in the game.  It gave the Cardinals the lead in the 8th inning of what would end up being a 13 inning win. 




The back of the card.  




When is the last time you saw a card with a player's position as C-OF?  This was Hurdle's last card as a Major Leaguer.  Hurdle went on the rejoin the Mets for the 1987 season, but spent the majority of his time in Triple A.  He played just 3 games with the Mets, with the last hit of his career coming in June 17th loss to the Expos where he came into the game for Keith Hernandez.  He did not get a card as a Met the following year.  

Hurdle managed the Rockies and Pirates for 17 years after retiring as a player.  His finest season as a manager had to be for the 2007 Rockies who advanced all the way to the World Series.  Although, Padres fans are still a little salty about Matt Holliday never touching home plate on this sac fly in a tie-breaker game that season.  



Hurdle had several good years with the Pirates too, especially the 2015 season.  I'm not sure what his head to head was against the Cardinals while he managed the Pirates, but it felt like he was always about four steps ahead of Mike Matheny.  Who wasn't?  

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Done With Bowman Draft

Long ago I used to pick on Bowman Draft for it's poor photoshopping.  The pictures were terrible.  Some of the cards looked like something that a little kid could do on photoshop.  There were all kinds of misfires.  Here are a few:

Your pixels are showing......




Horribly out of proportion......



Players who are still wearing half of their college baseball uniforms.




Luke Weaver went to Florida State.  The Cardinals do not wear maroon.  Richie Shaffer went to Clemson his wrist bands and batting gloves are orange and purple.  Even when they got the uniforms right, they missed so many other details.  

Luckily, the good people at Topps have cleaned up Bowman Draft a little bit.  Still, I am avoiding the product.  Prospecting is always a big thing in baseball cards.  It is not very cost efficient though, especially given that I am just finding the cards of the Cardinals prospects, and some of the players I watched while they were in college.  

This year I have been looking for Will Wilson cards.  The Angels drafted him out of NC State in the middle of the first round.  




Wilson was recently traded to the Giants.  Topps put him into Bowman Draft.  I have had little trouble finding his base cards and a few of the variations at little cost.  Wilson also signed cards for Bowman Draft.  That's a different story.  




I like collecting former NC State players, but anything that is in the three digit range on Will Wilson is a little much.  Especially given that the card shows Wilson in an NC State uniform photoshopped into an Angels uniform.  The green wall, orange line, and black billboards are all too familiar.  




Luckily, there are other options out there.  I still was able to find a Will Wilson autograph, it is actually in an NC State uniform, and it literally cost a fraction of the Bowman Draft card.  I have already ignored most of the Bowman Draft cards in recent years, but I might be done after this year.  




In the past I have spent time bashing Panini for not have a MLB license, and making cards that have all of the logos airbrushed off.  However, they really do a great job with the NCAA license.  Even if the Bowman Draft autographed card of Will Wilson were more affordable, I would have still picked up this Panini Contenders card of him, and probably would have preferred it over the other.