Saturday, December 09, 2017

Featured autograph - Billy Eppler

I was able to get the Angels general manager's autograph in spring training this past year on a blank card - there is a bit of schadenfreude, when Eppler may have closed the deal to snatch Shohei Ohtani away from the hands of other prospective suitors, particularly the Seattle Mariners.

I don't know if the narrative of Ohtani's motivations to join the Halos have been exactly spelled out - but reading the screenshot above, there is a little 'what if' for disappointed Mariners fans, when considering the screenshot from 2015.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Andruw Jones - a borderline HOFer?

I have this 1995 Bowman rookie card [#23] in a miscellaneous binder and I recoil whenever I see it - I remember buying it for something like $30 at the 2000 National Sports Collectors Convention and thought it was going to be a 'money card' of a superstar for years to come.

Maybe card values of any number of random cards probably declined over the past 20 years as players come in and out of collectors' consciousness - but Jones accelerated the dip in values by how his playing career fell apart after leaving the Atlanta Braves.

He got fat when he joined the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 2008 season and then bounced around for years - even playing in Japan for two seasons before wrapping up his playing career.

After the fact, the most interesting thing is that Jones was probably the best center fielder of his generation and may actually have an argument that he's one of the best to play his primary position of all time - this Sports Illustrated story spells out the idea that he's unlikely to get to the Hall of Fame, but pores over his numerous achievements as well as his decline.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Kevin Maitan - all things considered

As an Angels fan, the addition of Maitan is a nice pickup since he's only 17 and was the most intriguing prospect heading into this past year - the Angels' farm system has been depressed for a while and hopefully Maitan starts building on his promise, giving the Angels a nice little core of position player prospects [along with Jo Adell, Jahmai Jones, Brandon Marsh] to build upon the next few seasons.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Featured autograph - Brad Peacock

Peacock was part of the Houston Astros World Series team this past year and while he didn't pitch well in his outings during the American League Division and Championship Series - he appeared in 4 games during the World Series and struck out 8 batters while allowed 2 runs in 7 innings.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

2017 collecting topics achievements

I've tallied up all my mini-collection adds for this year - from 2016, it looks like I've picked up 202 less cards, though with a month to go, the numbers are subject to change

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

2017 Topps retail factory set pick-up

During a stop at Target, I was looking through the usual Topps factory sets on the shelves and got one with the 1997 Topps Derek Jeter reprint relic card with a pinstripe swatch - I bought a factory set last year at Walmart because it had a Mike Trout stamp card and now Topps got me again with this impulsive purchase.

I was hoping to find a reprint of Jeter's 1993 Topps card, but the 1997 Topps card has a nice image - though these factory set may be mass produced to a point where they aren't going to be hard to find, these could be something to put away because of the Jeter factor.

FWIW, I might have seen something on Twitter about the factory set cards being marked ‘complete set' on the backs to differentiate itself from the regular cards - if I wanted to pick up a complete factory set, I wouldn't want a completely different set over the cards I'd pull out out of packs.

I didn’t know if the marking was indeed something Topps had started doing, but after finding this thread on the Trading Card Database - I see, it’s just the 5-card rookie image variations that are designated and not the 700 cards from the base set.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Featured autograph - Mark Appel

Designated for assignment by the Philadelphia Phillies, Appel seems destined to be a first round pick who maybe a failed prospect - still, as I see Appel as a baseball player who may not reach the big leagues, I'll always look at this clip as something to digest and really think about.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Closing out the year - award winners

There is usually some excitement as far as adding another set of cards to my binder to celebrate the most prominent individual player accomplishments - even if there were no particular surprises among the guys who won and I don’t have fancy cards [something shiny like a parallel and/or autographed] to show off.
Maybe something like a Topps Now card would be nice and relevant, but I stick with random base / inserts I may find since I have my share of them - knock on wood, maybe I'll try to look for more jazzy cards in future years.

For my MVP collection, I went with a 2017 Topps Stadium Club Jose Altuve #116 [American League] and a 2017 Topps Finest Giancarlo Stanton [#29] - the Altuve is a horizontal card and while I sort of want my cards arranged vertically on a nine-pocket page, my award winners collection is kind of made of a claptrap of assorted cards anyway, so I'm not going to be a stickler.

In my Cy Young collection, I dug out a 2017 Topps Chrome [#159] of National League winner Max Scherzer - it’s a current year card that's moderately shiny, so it might as well be the card for him.

For American League winner Corey Kluber, I just went with a second card [2014 Topps #279] I’d stored in the same pocket where I had his 2015 Topps Chrome Sepia parallel [#79] for winning the Cy Young four years ago - it’s kind of a boring card but it serves its purpose.

In my Rookie of the Year collection, I’d already put away a card for Aaron Judge [American League] and Cody Bellinger [National League] sometime during the regular season - I went with a 2017 Bowman rookie card for Judge [#32] and a 2017 Bowman yellow parallel prospect card [#BP149] for Bellinger.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

2017 Bowman Mega Box Shohei Ohtani

It wasn't recently, but when I finally saw them for the first time, I bought the six Bowman Mega Boxes I found at Target - I went through four boxes and pulled Ohtani's first English card, even though it's sort of a 'phantom' issue since the 23-year old never played for Japan in the World Baseball Classic.

The biggest story this off-season is which MLB team Ohtani sign with once he gets officially posted by his Japanese team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters - I've heard about him for at least a couple of years and with his ability to pitch and swing the bat, he has the potential to make the most impact out of all the baseball imports from Japan in the last 25 years.

I took a picture of Ohtani signing autographs and taking pictures early in the morning a couple of years ago - when he was in Peoria Arizona for his team's spring training workouts.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

TTM autograph received: Steve Balboni

Balboni signed and returned my card in about three months or so - his big league career was winding down the time I started watching baseball, but I'm vaguely familiar with the lumbering, all-or-nothing slugger through his random junk wax era baseball cards.

Balboni's Kansas City royals record for home runs hit in a season [36] was surpassed by Mike Moustakas - who ended up hitting 38 in 2017.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

2017 Pro Debut 'Ben's Biz' insert finds

I'm not really sure where these three might fit into my collections but during a card shop trip, I snapped them up - just to add some quirkiness to whatever stash I'd built up.

Through the eyes of a baseball writer who travels around the country, stopping at minor league outposts to chronicle the goofy promotions and nuances of different minor league teams - I see where the cards help flesh out a mainstream minor league card set besides just focusing on individual players.

2017 Topps Pro Debut Ben’s Biz Toilet Paper First Pitch #BBB-3

2017 Topps Pro Debut Ben’s Biz Synagogue Turned Team Store #BBB-8

2017 Topps Pro Debut Ben’s Biz Whitewall Ninja #BBB-15

Monday, October 30, 2017

$1 Michael Jordan baseball card finds x2


Jordan is the iconic professional athlete of my time and while his dalliance with professional baseball seemed to be a novelty - Upper Deck tried to ensure a little crossover appeal [not that he needed it] for the sporting icon, inserting an MJ batting practice card [SP1] into 1991 Upper Deck packs.

Jordan would step away from the NBA to play one season of minor league baseball in 1994 and while there were other licensed Jordan minor league cards - his Upper Deck baseball cards always looked the best, even as the one time Chicago White Sox farmhand hit only .202 with 3 home runs in 436 official at-bats.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

2017 Topps Heritage Minors pack breaks

Pack one
#165 Sean Reid-Foley
#155 Thomas Szapucki
#18 Ryan Helsley

#203 Nick Gordon - SP
#71 Anfernee Grier
#161 Josh Staumont
#156 Matt Thaiss
#44 Shed Long

Pack two
#131 Braxton Garrett

#1 Amed Rosario
#167 Francisco Rios
#65 Nick Williams
Make Your Pro Debut code / info card
#151 Keegan Akin
#30 Greg Allen
#24 Eric Lauer

Pack three
#127 Jorge Ona
#83 Ryan Mountcastle
#115 Kyle Funkhouser
Make Your Pro Debut code / info card
#186 Nick Neidert
#34 Logan Shore

#126 Keibert Ruiz
#7 Jazz Chisholm

Pack four 
#165 Sean Reid-Foley
#155 Thomas Szapucki
#18 Ryan Helsley
#220 Victor Robles - SP

#156 Matt Thaiss
#44 Shed Long
#132 Tomas Nido
#27 Meibrys Viloria

Friday, October 27, 2017

Loose card finds - the mini collections

I had some time to rummage through an out of town card shop's '15 for $1' boxes - I'm not going through anything but loose nickel and dime cards, but I'd like to think 'the hunt' means different things to different collectors and there are still distinctions I keep in mind as build my piles of loose cardboard.

Going through random monster boxes of cards can be a free for all and there maybe opportunities to be 'freelance' a bit more and grab completely random cards - that still end up fitting whatever criteria I have in my head as far as mini-collections.

Instead of buying a repack of some sort outright from a big box store, I get to sort of dictate the content of the cards I want to take home - I ended up with 120 assorted cards for $8 and change [tax], many of which are just are just squirreled away as 'card depth.'

Awesome action
2016 Topps Opening Day Superstar Celebrations Michael Brantley #SC-9
2012 Topps Chrome refractors Carl Crawford #29

2016 Topps Opening Day Superstar Celebrations Brian Dozier #SC-11 - more like Glen Perkins’ card with Dozier in the background.
1994 Upper Deck Electric Diamond Greg Gagne #79
1998 Topps Chris Gomez #117

1994 Upper Deck Scott Leius #322
2016 Topps Stadium Club Willie McCovey #18 - I have this card among my collection of other McCovey cards, but I can add this particular copy to my awesome action collection.
1994 Upper Deck Mike Moore #316
2004 Topps Chrome Mike Piazza #31
1998 Topps Kevin Polcovich #79 - this card features a cameo by Larry Walker and I thought I could add it to my 'bonus babies' mini-collection, but I had a copy of it already.
1998 Topps Marlins Win World Series #283 - feat. Edgar Renteria

1996 Upper Deck SP Alex Rodriguez #171 - wearing the Jay Buhner Fan Club t-shirt
1991 Topps Stadium Club Sammy Sosa #6 - a whimsy, more innocent Sosa wearing a throwback uniform; I had this card in my 'retro uniforms' mini-collection already, so this goes into my awesome action mini-collection.
2011 Topps Chrome refractor Rickie Weeks #147
2014 Topps Stadium Club Jayson Werth #52

2016 Donruss Optic Yannick Ngakoue #150 - football

2011 Press Pass Head of the Class Kyle Busch #82 - auto racing

Awesome outfield
2012 Topps Chrome refractors Melky Cabrera #134
2002 Fleer Jacque Jones #260
2012 Topps Chrome Kirk Nieuwenhuis #192

Beyond the glory
2011 Panini Americana Matinee Legends James Dean #1

Bloodlines
2016-17 Donruss Gary Payton II #198

Bonus Babies
1994 Upper Deck Joey Cora #371 - on the reverse, Rickey Henderson

1994-95 Topps George Lynch #20 - Chris Mullin and Chris Webber

Hats-off
1992 Stadium Club Members Only Dave Eiland #14
1994 Bowman Frank Thomas #18

Inking it up
1995 Topps Stadium Club Frank Thomas #400

Pitchers hitting
1993 Upper Deck Bill Swift #118 - on the reverse image

Retro uniforms
2002 Fleer Edgardo Alfonzo #158
1994 Upper Deck Tom Henke #367
2012 Topps Chrome refractors Jason Vargas #218

Shades
1993 Topps Stadium Club Mariano Duncan #276

Tools of ignorance
2012 Topps Chrome refractors Alex Avila #131

1992 Stadium Club Members Only Gary Carter #9
1993 Topps Stadium Club Geno Petralli #232

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Featured autograph - Fred McGriff

I found a card for McGriff in the '15 for $1' box at a card shop I visited and was able to get him to sign it for me - the autograph doesn't resemble his 'sit down' autographs but he can sign any way he wants to after hitting 493 home runs in the big leagues.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Featured autograph - Victor Robles

Unfortunately I don't get to see him, but after making his MLB debut this past season, the 20-year old top prospect is set to join the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League - I picked this certified autograph card because Robles is a 'fresh face' to me and I wanted something inked up by him.

FWIW, the sticker autographs ['E R B'] Panini has used for the cards they've made for Robles look different than any other autographs [looks more like 'dismissive' but a little more 'legible' scribble] he has signed for either Topps or Onyx - that sort of gives me pause, but I'll chalk it to the idea Robles is a youngster who was signing autographs as a teenager just a couple of years ago and his penmanship [or lack of it] stick out like a sore thumb.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

1978 TCMA Stars of the 60's I finds

I was out in Arizona on vacation for a week and at an outlet mall near the University of Phoenix Stadium, I stumbled upon a one stop 'pop culture' shop that had comics, sports memorabilia, etc - the setup looked kind of like a swap meet of sorts and I actually saw they had a trading card 'section' with some showcases, assorted junk wax era / junk boxes, etc.

I saw what looked to be a tub / bin of assorted sports cards and started casually going through them - I'm a guy who can be entertained by rummaging through all this miscellaneous cardboard collecting dust, though I wasn't sure if I'd find anything of interest or if something was going to bite me back.

There were cards still individually priced from 20-25 years ago and I didn't want to ask about any junk cards with no prices] - I spent $2 on what looked to be 1978 TCMA The 1960's San Francisco Giants / California Angels team sets [in loose team set bags].

The Giants 'set' had a Masanori Murakami card on the back and figured picking up the 'set' for the individual Murakami card wasn't the worst buy for a dollar - I'm vaguely aware of TCMA sets but compared to mainstream, original Topps releases, the TCMA produced cards have less appeal to me as strictly collector issues.

After the fact, I looked up a checklist and discovered the Giants 'set' was missing the biggest name [Willie Mays #280] and also another notable [Orlando Cepeda #50] - not a big deal since Murakami was the card I really wanted.

The Angels set [complete unlike the Giants one] looked like it had the remains of a dead insect, but I took the cards out of the team set bag and cleaned the excess debris off with my shirt - the cards looked fine afterwards and after paying for the cards, threw the team set bag away.