Sunday, May 31, 2020

A 10 Minute Break

It's the end of the school year, and there was so much to do last week.  The hardest part was going into my classroom, packing up my stuff for the end of the year, and also having to pack up all of my students' materials.  Luckily, I had taken down most of the things that were hanging on the walls of my room, and my students have bins with the majority of their materials inside.  Made it a little easier to organize.  No desks. 

Yes, my classroom was in a trailer this year. 

This afternoon I am finishing up my report cards, and doing all sorts of paperwork.  I am not a huge fan of paperwork, but everyone has to do it.  I am jumping through the hoop, but needed to take a few minutes to do something else.

Let me share a few cards that I picked up this week.  Small additions, but happy with each of these cards. 

 My first card is a Bowman's Best autographed card of Yankees prospect T.J. Sikkema.  He's one of my sleeper prospects.  I have never seen him pitch in person, but he played at Mizzou in college and had an ERA under 2 pitching in the SEC his junior year.  That's really good, and it's in a really tough college league.  The Yankees picked him at the end of the first round last year, and he made four starts in A Ball before the end of the summer.  His ERA was under 1 in A Ball, and he averaged more than a strikeout an inning. 

This was a $3 card. 


I like this Bowman card of White Sox prospect Andrew Vaughn.  The 1989 Bowman design caught my eye.  I saw him play while he was in college at Cal.  Vaughn played at least one year for USA Baseball, maybe it was two.  The scratches are on the sleeve.  


I have already posted a few Brandon Lowe cards in the last two or three weeks.  This is from Topps Tribute.  Nice card, thick card stock.  


I was not a big fan of Will Clark back in the 1980s, but Clark ended up on the Cardinals at the end of his career.  He played great.  The Cardinals made it to the National League Championship Series that season.  I have long since forgiven Will for being upset about Jose Oquendo kicking him in the crotch for sliding hard into second base.  

Anyway, this is a really nice card.  I am not collecting all of the 1985 Topps reprints, but I am trying to find most of the players connected to the Cardinals or Durham Bulls.  

Last card.   

At times, I am bothered by the mash-up of older players and modern baseball cards.  Al Kaline is well done on this Triple Threads card.  This was in the package with the Will Clark card.  I always appreciate a free baseball card, especially one this nice.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

One Dozen Local Basketball Cards #1

 Here is the backstory behind these cards.

The first half dozen.  These are cards 1-6 in the 1990-1991 Skybox set.

The second half dozen.  These are cards 7-12 in the 1990-1991 Skybox set.

Here are some questions.  I know more about college basketball than the NBA, feel free to debate the answer to these questions in the space below.  I am not doing research for a basketball card post.  

Best player in this dozen:  Moses Malone.  

Without looking (pinky swear) who went to what college:
Jon Koncak - SMU 
Kenny Smith - UNC 
Doc Rivers - Marquette 
Kevin Willis - Sparty 
Dominique Wilkins - Georgia 
Spud Webb - NC State 

I do not know the rest.  After I am done typing, I am going and looking up Moses Malone.  

Best Card Front: Kevin Willis 

Best Card Back: Dominque Wilkins.  Would that be considered a turtleneck?  

Best Cameo: I don't know any of the players in the backgrounds of these cards, but there are some good ones in this set.  The Duane Ferrell card has a Pistons player on it.  I feel like I should know who that is, but I am drawing a blank as to who the forwards were on the team outside of Laimbeer and Rodman.  

Fun Fact: These Skybox cards are the worst Hawks in my collection.  


Monday, May 25, 2020

A 1980s Card Part 44 - 1989 Foot Locker Slam Fest Vince Coleman

Foot Locker was a quality place to buy shoes back in the 1980s.  We had one in the mall near my house growing up.  First thing you remember about Foot Locker stores in the 1980s and 1990s?  They always had that scoreboard and basketball hoop above the checkout counter.

Makes me happy that this one is showing UNC with a loss.  Thank you internet.

This week's 1980s card comes from a Foot Locker promotion they did with college basketball in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  I am not sure if they gave out these cards in set form, or if they were given away as single cards in the store with a purchase.  However they did it, there were Foot Locker Slam Fest sets in 1989, 1991, and 1992. Vince Coleman is the only baseball player who appeared in the 1989 set.

This is the card.

Slam Fest was more than just a set of cards with athletes holding basketballs.  There were Slam Fest episodes aired during the halftime of nationally broadcast college basketball games on NBC, with athletes from various sports participating in a slam dunk contest.  While the cards only ran three years, the Foot Locker Slam Fest episodes ran into the mid 1990s.  

This is a short video clip from an episode with Barry Bonds and others.

I looked hard for a video of Vince Coleman participating in the Foot Locker Slam Fest, but could not find one anywhere.  He was a pretty good athlete, had to be decent to participate. Plenty of other baseball players appear in the 1990s sets.  None of these cards are very expensive.  I picked up this Coleman in a dime box at a card show years ago.  

Here is the back of the card.  

The light blue print is not the easiest to read, but the front of the card more than makes up for anything that is printed on the back of the card.  Overall, a solid oddball card.  Not everyday that you run across a card featuring a player who can steal 100 bases, and dunk a basketball on national television.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Set Appreciation Post #1 - 1986 Topps Mini Leaders

I have taken all the extra time at home to do a lot of sorting.

Part of the sorting has involved finishing off several sets.  I thought it would be fun to write about some of those sets, along with other sets that I have never had a chance to write about.  I have to start somewhere.  Why not here?

I posted a mid 1980s Topps Mini Leader card a few weeks back on my weekly Monday Cardinals post.  The product line started in 1986, running through 1990.  I really liked these sets, so I went on a bit of a hunt through my boxes to see what I had, and what holes I needed to fill in order to complete the sets.

My 1986 Mini Leaders set is finished.  Here's a look. 

Basic Design 

The 1986 Topps Mini Leaders set has an independent design from the Topps base set.  Some years the two sets were similar, but the first year the two were completely separate.  Really simple design, but I like the cloudy edges and simple print along the bottom of the card.  

The card backs for the Mini Leaders sets are all generally the same.  They have a short list of stat categories with the players rankings on the back.  Generally, the players featured in the set have finished in the top 5 of some important category. 

Well, most of the stats are important.  There is one stat in the 1986 Mini Leaders set that is somewhat ridiculous, but that is for later in the post.  

A quick note before I move on in the post.  I used a new scanning app for these cards.  They all fade on one edge of the back of the card.  Not sure why, but I am guessing I did something wrong with the lighting.  

Favorite former Durham Bulls player: Brett Butler 

I only had one choice in this set, so I have to go with Brett Butler.  He was with the Bulls during the 1980 season.  He had a spectacular season in Durham batting .366/.513/.513 with 36 stolen bases in just 66 games.  

The back of the card....

I wish that Topps had listed the categories printed on the bottom of the card in a similar fashion as the two at top.  I think it would have made for a cleaner look.  Perhaps if they had made the white box that reads "Major League Leaders" on the left side a tad smaller, they could have fit the other stat categories onto the card back easier.

Favorite Cardinals Card 

This would be a Vince Coleman rookie card.  Obviously not the one that I really wanted back in 1986, but this card had grown on my over the years.  I like seeing an action shot of Coleman.  Looks like a practice swing before stepping in the batter's box.  Is he yawning?   Still not as nice as the portrait photo on his card in the base set, but again a very nice card.  

Runs, steals, and triples.  This card back is Whitey Herzog approved.  I also love seeing the actual total number of steals that Coleman had in 1985.  That is the sort of number that we may never see again in our lives.  Coleman is in all four versions of this set, and I think each of the cards lists him as a League Leader in steals, runs, and triples.

Favorite Non-Cardinals Card 

This is a cool action picture.  Wonder what happened to his batting helmet?  

Who Would Lead The League In That Now? 

Let's look at the card of a pitcher from the set.  I randomly picked out Bert Blyleven.

When I first started flipping back through these cards the other week, there was on pitching stat that really stood out.  If Topps brought this set back, they would most definitely have a problem finding many players to include.  

Take a look.  Which of these stats never happen anymore?  

Look at that Complete Games and Shutouts stat line.  Who even led the Majors in that stat last year?  How many complete games and shutouts?  Bonus if you know the answer before you read any further down the post.  The answer is below.  

Those 24 complete games and 5 shutouts would never happen anymore.  Just scrolling around and looking at a few modern players, Justin Verlander has pitched in a total of 26 complete games in his career after pitching 2 last year.  In other words, it took him 14 years to pass Bert Blyleven's total from just 1985.     

Last season, Lucas Giolito and Shane Bieber led the Majors in complete games with 3.  Giolio, Bieber, and Sandy Alcantara were the leaders in shutouts with 2.  Not very impressive totals.  

The Dumbest Baseball Card Stat Ever 

Sorry to single you out here Lance Parrish.  You were a good catcher.  

Here is the dumbest stat that ever appeared on a baseball card.  The game-winning RBI stat.  

I am not anti-RBI.  I know there are people who put the stat in the same category as wins, but I am not willing to go that far.  There are is skill in getting runners across the plate.  I leave it at that. 

Why do I think it's a dumb stat?  I went and found an example that involves Lance Parrish.  He only finished third in the stat, so it took me a whole five box scores from the 1985 Tigers to find a good example.  

The game took place on April 14th against the Royals.  The Tigers scored two early runs, tacked on three more in the seventh, before the Royals scratch across a run in the 9th.  

In the third inning, the Tigers first three batters got hits, including an Alan Trammell single that put Detroit ahead 1-0.

After a Kirk Gibson flyout, Parrish grounds out to Royals shortstop Onix Concepcion, and Lou Whitaker, who was on third base, scored the second Tigers run of the inning.  That became a game-winning RBI for Parrish after the Royals scored a run off of reigning American League Cy Young Award Winner Willie Hernandez in the ninth.  

A ground out in the third inning of this game was one of Lance Parrish's 16 game inning RBIs.  The Tigers were already winning.  They never trailed the entire game.  There are plenty of other examples out there too.  

Yes, game-winning RBIs appear in other Mini Leaders set.  No, I won't complain in any other set appreciation posts about this stat being showcased in this product again.  

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Baseball Card Cover Songs Part 3

Topps has always dabbled in pop culture and non-sport cards.  Some of their more recent customer direct products have borrowed designs from these sets.  Obviously, I was a baseball only collector the majority of my life.  No chance that I bought any packs of this product......

The 1985 Cyndi Lauper set. 

I am not even really a fan of her music outside of that song from the movie Goonies.  That was a decent track. 

The design of the cards are everything you'd imagine them to be.  I didn't have one in my collection, so I had to borrow a picture from COMC.  

Would I buy a card because it borrowed the design from a Cyndi Lauper set?  


Would I buy a card of a player I really liked even if it borrowed the design from a Cyndi Lauper set?  


Like all Throwback Thursday cards, this was sold with a small set of cards on the Topps website.  I did not really care about most of the players on the checklist, so I just picked up a single card of Rays infielder Brandon Lowe.  He was one of the better Durham Bulls players over the last five years.  

This is the card.  

Very true to the design of the original card.  

The back of the card.  

Lowe actually has a second Throwback Thursday card that borrows from the 1984-1985 NHL Hockey card set.  I picked up this card too.  I do not have many hockey cards, and certainly not any from the 1984-1985 set.  A friend helped with a scan of a Bernie Federko card.  

Nice looking design.  

Here is the Lowe card that borrows this design.  

Good looking card.  

Between the two new Brandon Lowe cards, I like the NHL borrowed design much better.  Feels and looks like a 1980s baseball card.  I like the small portrait photo in the corner with the larger action photo above.  Feels like it fits in well with the 1983 and 1984 Topps designs.  

The back was not quite what I expected it to be.....

I sat and looked at this for a few minutes.  I think that I am just used to the landscape set up on the back of the Topps baseball cards, and that is what I was expecting here.  I guess there are a few less stats on the back of a hockey card.  

Here is the original card back.  

I like how they switched out the hockey stick for a baseball bat.  Would have been a cool touch to include the biographical information on the remake card, but that's a small thing.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Baseball Card Cover Songs Part 2

Reading Time: 3 minutes.

You get 3 minutes and 21 seconds of Radiohead covering a Carly Simon song from a James Bond movie to listen to while you are reading.

I guess you could also just read the post.

I have enjoyed the Topps Project 2020 cards that they have been putting out.  People seem crazy about them.  I have posted one so far, but have others sitting on my desk.  I also have a few that will be here shortly.  They will all get posts in good time.

In the meantime, I have found some other cool Topps cards that were consumer direct products from recent years.  I am going to spread them out over a few posts, but I really like the Throwback Thursday cards.  They use designs from previous Topps products, but they are not necessarily baseball.

My two cards for this post are actually a baseball card design from the 1999 Topps set that were released last year.  Specifically, the Mark McGwire Home Run card.  I have written about the card several times on here over the years.  You know the card with all of the home run variations from 1998.

The orginal.

The two cards were included in a set that originally featured Sammy Sosa, Aaron Judge, and Pete Alonso.  I just went for the two Cardinals cards though.  

The first cover, or redo, is a Mark McGwire card.  

A few minor differences here with the change up in the picture of McGwire, and the different and darker color scheme being used for the card.  I didn't mind the darker color scheme on the front of the card.  I actually thought the contrast between McGwire wearing a home white Cardinals uniform, and the darker background colors worked well.  

However, when you flip the card over, it does not work as well for the back.  

Topps used a thicker card stock for these than the original 1999 Topps.  It's got the old school 1980s Topps texture to it, but the darker color on the back does not look great in my opinion.  It's my lone criticism of these cards.

The second card is Albert Pujols.

I really like the looks of this card.  It has good curb appeal.  I have no idea why Topps picked his 47th home run from the 2009 season to feature on a baseball card.  It was not a career high, which was 49 in 2006, and it was not even the most important 47th home run of his career.  

I think most Cardinal fans credit this 47th home run as saving the 2006 Cardinals season.  They went on to win the World Series that year.  Albert's 47th home run of the 2009 season came in the middle of September off of Chris Narveson of the Brewers.  

Not seeing the importance, but again I love the design of the card.  

Overall, these are nice additions to the old Cardinals collection.  I still wish they would have done a little bit better at picking an important number for the Pujols card, but I am honestly just happy to add a nice Cardinals card of him.

I will post another Throwback card, or Project 2020 card next week.

Monday, May 18, 2020

A 1980s Card Part 43 - 1980 Topps Mike Phillips

These Monday posts are supposed to span the entire decade of Cardinals cards, but I have not done very much with the 1980 Topps set yet.  The Cardinals cards are almost all portraits, there are almost no action shots in the entire team set.  It's not that I have a problem with portrait style cards.  They are fine.  It's just that they are not even interesting portrait photos.  They are bland and vanilla.

The Mike Phillips card is the standout picture amongst the Cardinals in this set.

I am not sure what happened on this play, but pretty cool picture of Mike Phillips with Gary Maddox in the background.  Phillips did not play many games for the Cardinals in 1979, so I checked out the box scores of their home games against the Phillies.  There was only one game the utility infielder played against the Phillies, but nothing there that would explain Mike Phillips jumping over Gary Maddox.  Likely from a different season.

Phillips was a utility player during the 1970s and 1980s, and spent a few years playing for the Cardinals.  This 1980 Topps card is easily his best card.  His other Topps cards are all portraits.

His batting gloves are interesting on his 1981 Topps.  At least I think he is wearing batting gloves.

His 1978 Topps card....

probably begs for comment on that airbrush job on his hat.  I will pass for today.  

His 1979 Topps card.  

More interesting than the 1978.  The bricks in the background make me think this photo was likely in Wrigley.  Always a good backdrop for a baseball card.  

Now that I have given you the complete run down on all the different Topps Mike Phillips cards, let's go back to the one from the top of the post.  

With the white borders on the card and white background on the blogpost, it's hard to see how far off the centering on this card is from side to side.  It's top and bottom when you turn it sideways to look at the card.  Probably got this for next to nothing at a card show.  

Phillips main value as a player was the fact that he could play anywhere on the infield.  The card lists Phillips as a second baseman and third baseman, but he actually played more games at shortstop.  Clearly not much of a hitter, but he did manage to hit for the cycle during his time as a Met.

A good song from the 1980s on my IPod.  The Police.

Sting would be another person who's a hero. The music he's created over the years, I don't really listen to it, but the fact that he's making it, I respect that. I care desperately about what I do. Do I know what product I'm selling? No. Do I know what I'm doing today? No. But I'm here, and I'm gonna give it my best shot.

-Hansel from Zoolander 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

2020 Blake Snell Autograph Count: 2

Going a little slower this year.  I ended the month of May in 2019 with a grand total of 5 Blake Snell autographs, and somehow made it all the way to 30 by the end of the year.  I assure you that I am going to end the month of May in 2020 with 2 Blake Snell autographs. There are no more autographs in the works.

My latest Snell autograph comes from the Topps Tribute set.

There is a lot of stuff going on here in terms of design, and I am not a friend of overly busy.  There are two faux wood beam things running down the card vertically, the gold lattice, and then the cloud with the autograph and the Topps Tribute logo at the bottom.

Say it with me: Simple is good.

This is not the most memorable Blake Snell autograph in my collection.  It's also not the worst.  Welcome to the autograph box friend.

Back of the card.

Here is my big disappointment with the card.  After looking at all the busy stuff on the front of the card, you flip it over and find out it's acetate.  Can you tell it's an acetate card?  No, you cannot.  Feels like a missed opportunity.  

I am setting my goal for 2020 at 5 Blake Snell autographs.