Monday, July 31, 2017

SEC - Bracket Match-Up #11

Read All About It! Clemens K.O.'s Berrios!

I just want to thank Kin for helping to steer some extra voters to the site. I think it's more fun when more people vote and offer their opinion on cards. If you been reading these posts and haven't voted yet, consider this your invitation!

It's time for the next battle! In one corner, a player who started out slow and ended up with a Hall of Fame career. Opposing him is a player who started out with a Hall of Fame career, but got derailed along the way. It's the Big Unit vs. the Cobra! (Keep your own childish phallic euphemisms to yourself!)

1992 Leaf - Black Gold #302 Randy Johnson
1982 Topps Stickers #127 Dave Parker AS

The Case for Randy Johnson: Look at that glare. He's staring into your soul. Yeah, it's only a card, but you might honestly get plunked if you don't vote for him. Do you really want to take that chance?

The Case for Dave Parker: Two words: shiny sticker. Also, any Pirate should get bonus points for rocking a pillbox hat.

Who will go the distance, and who will flop out? leave a comment and vote now!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Top 5 Ivan Rodriguez

My Top 5 Hall of Fame Series concludes with Ivan Rodriguez. "Pudge" is arguably the greatest defensive catcher ever, winning 13 Gold Gloves. He was no slouch with the bat, also winning 7 Silver Slugger awards. His MVP in 1999 is a bit of a sore spot with us Red Sox fans, but that's not Ivan's fault. (Stupid biased New York city writers...) Still, you can't argue he wasn't one of the Top 3 catchers of all time!

My collection of Pudge stands at 20, with his Rangers days being in my realm of collecting youth. Here are my Top 5:

1997 Upper Deck #138 (DG)

In hand, I don't like theses cards. The reflective coating damages way too easily. Going just by the scans however, the Defensive Gems in this set really stand out. The picture of Pudge looks like it's coming off the card in this scan. I love the contrast.

1992 Pinnacle #156

This set from Pinnacle does a good job of framing the pictures. I like how only part of the background is used, and the black border to make it really stand out.

1991 Bowman #272 (RC)

I prefer my cards of catchers to show them in gear. I couldn't pass up including his rookie card though. Have you seen him lately? The dude does not age!

1992 Score #700

His eyes facing forward, I'm thinking this shot was taken just after a throw to second to catch a thief. Chances are good he got the out.

2008 Upper Deck #740 (SH)

So far every card I've shown has each Hall of Famer with just one team. Bagwell only played with the Atros, and Raines was an iconic figure in Montreal. Rodriguez was known mainly during his days in Texas, but he played for a lot of teams, and most of the time he played very well. We'll close out the list with him as a Tiger.

Ivan Rodriguez was an easy choice for a first ballot Hall of Famer. Congrats, Ivan!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Top 5 Tim Raines

Continuing with my Hall of Fame Top 5, it's time to show off my favorites of new Hall of Famer Tim Raines.

Back when I was collecting as a kid, you knew who the good players were because your cards told you so. Guys with a lot of All Star cards, guys near the top of statistical leader boards - these were good players, and the one who seemed to be on more of these cards were the great ones. Tim Raines is one of those players. I never saw him play on TV during his prime, but every time I saw the league leader in steals, it was always him and Rickey. He was one of the greats in my eyes, and it astounded me that it took so long for him to get his due.

Since he played mostly during my colecting hey-day, I have 47 different cards of Tim Raines, mostly from his days as an Expo. That puts him at #32 on my player collections, without even trying. Picking my 5 favorites was a lot more difficult than it was with Bagwell. Still, here's what I came up with:

1991 Upper Deck #143

When you think of Raines, you think of speed. The man could run with the best of them, and this picture shows him doing what he does best!

1988 Fleer #193 

Every now and the, A company chooses a border that meshes well with a particular teams set of colors. I can't think of a better example than Fleer's red, white and blue stripes with the Montreal Expos.

1988 Topps #403 (AS)

I've always liked the All Star cards from this set. They remind me of the kind of cards you'd see in the 50's and 60's. The yellow may be a bit much, but the head coming out of a diamond is quality design.

1981 Topps #479 (RC)

Do you think Roberto Ramos or Bobby Pate ever brag about how valuable their rookie card is worth?

1985 Topps #630

As far as posed shots go, this one is pretty good. Well cropped, and the look in his eyes mean business!

Tim Raines, your entry to the Hall of Fame was worth the wait! Congratulations!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Top 5 Jeff Bagwell

It's Hall of Fame Induction Weekend! On July 30th, the Hall will welcome 5 new inductees, 3 players and 2 executives. As my personal way of marking the occasion, I'm going to do a Top 5 list of each player, choosing my 5 favorites among my collection. First up is Jeff Bagwell.

Jeff Bagwell remains the great "What If" of Red Sox baseball. He was a 3rd base prospect who did not hit for much power in Boston's system. Blocked by two-time All-Star Scott Cooper, he was traded to the Houston Astros for reliever Larry Andersen. Andersen pitched well and helped the Red Sox to a division title, but did little after that. Houston moved Jeff to first, adjusted his swing, and got 15 years of Hall of Fame production. It's regarded as one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history.

Despite the sting of what could have been, I was happy for his success and enjoyed the few occasions on TV when I got to watch him.

As of today, I have 18 different cards of Jeff Bagwell, mostly from his younger years. A large chunk of his career happened when I wasn't collecting. Still, it wasn't difficult to choose my five favorites. My choices for Top 5 are listed in card numerical order:

1992 Donruss Diamond King #DK-11

I've always liked Diamond Kings, and the set from 1992 is one of the better ones. The artwork here is excellent!

1997 Upper Deck #83

A good shot of Bagwell's follow-through. You can tell he generated a lot of power from his legs. This set would have been much better if they toned down the foil. The wood-grain foil was too much.

1991 Bowman #183 (RC)

I didn't realize I had a rookie card of his until I looked up my collection on TCDB. It's a pleasant surprise. I'll have to pull it from the set and add it to the other Hall of Fame rookie cards in my collection.

1994 Collector's Choice #329

This is a great piece of photography! You can just tell the ball went far on this one!

1992 Topps #520 (ASR)

We'll end things off with a Topps All-Star Rookie Cup! I'm curious to see how many players with the cup went on to have Hall of Fame careers.

Congratulations Jeff Bagwell. You are truly one of the all time greats!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Repack Haiku #9 (Gary Sheffield)

Oh dear Lord, my eyes!
Upper Deck's Ionix set
What were you thinking?

2000 UD Ionix #22 Gary Sheffield

Wow. This...this is just painful.

Monday, July 24, 2017

SEC - Bracket Match Up #10

Read all about it! Ugly red border advances!

Dave Stewart lost mainly because voters didn't like the splatter paint red background of 1990 Donruss. I was fairly certain Ozzie would fall to the same fate, but since we have a tie, he moves on! This would probably qualify as the upset of the competition so far.

Next up are two young pitchers. (Well, at least Roger was young when the photo was taken!) It's an all time great vs. new blood:

2017 Topps #8a Jose Berrios
1985 Leaf/Donruss #99 Roger Clemens

The Case for Jose Berrios: Like I mentioned in the original post, the photography on this card is amazing. Berrios is an exciting young pitcher who hopefully has a long career ahead of him.

The Case for Roger Clemens: It can be argued that the Rocket is one of the greatest pitchers ever. How can you say no to that green leaf and black border with red striping?

I leave the decision to you small number of readers. (by the way, thanks so much for the handful of you who have voted so far! I'm glad to have a little bit of interaction on my posts!) As always, leave a comment with which card you want to see advance!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Pirate Booty

A few months ago, Brian from Collecting Cutch held a contest challenging his fellow bloggers to post their Top 10 cards from a favorite player. As a new blogger, any potential new post is worthwhile, so I presented my 10 favorite cards of former Red Sox All-Star Ellis Burks. According to Blogger's stats, it is to date my most viewed blog post. It was a fun project and I'm glad it was well received.

I completely forgot there was a prize element involved...

Last week, I got an email stating my prize was on it's way. I was excited and wondered what random card I might get. I got a package. I was not expecting that!

He started off with a welcome note written on a plastic sleeve:

Collecting Cutch is a good blog - you should read it!

The card underneath all that wording is a Pittsburgh Police Department issued card featuring Mr. McCutchen himself. I must say the card itself is pretty sharp! Simple, with a nice action shot.

Before I share what other spoils I received, let me state that without a doubt, the best part of the package was Brian's sense of humor. A few of these cards were also packaged in sleeves he had written on, and the stuff he wrote put a big smile on my face.

If only Captain Kirk could play 3rd base...

I feel bad for Sandoval. (Not too bad mind you, he's still getting paid!) He was a good signing at the time. The Red Sox didn't need a superstar at 3rd base, just someone to hold down the position and contribute. He couldn't do that, and now you're looking at his last base set card in a Red Sox  uniform. Although I maintain I am not a Star Trek fan, this makes the second time in my blog's short life that I have included Mr. Shatner. I may need to throw some Star Wars references on here just to balance things out.

Collecting Cutch also included a lot of Red Sox goodies...

The Melancon card has kanji on back, making this my first card from over the ocean!

... including a trio of Hall of Famers,

Jacoby surrounded by greatness! first Bunt cards,

Me like!

...and this relic card of 3x All-Star Dan Uggla

This guy won me a number of fantasy leagues back in the day!

The centerpiece prize, however, was this relic card of none other than Ellis himself.

Well played, CC! Well played, indeed!

So yeah, my collection got significantly more awesome thanks to the generosity of my fellow blogger. If you haven't checked out his blog, I highly recommend it! Thanks again Brian!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Repack Haiku #8 (Dave Hansen)

Loved the blue border
Hated the nineties striping
like Trapper Keepers

1991 Donruss #45 Dave Hansen (RR)

Since this is the second card from the repack from the 1991 Donruss set, let's talk about that border for a minute. As the haiku states, I thought that blue border was a great color. The name and position boxes meshed well. But those stripes...there was definitely a very 90s vibe going with it. It reminds me of the Trapper Keepers that were popular at school once.

I had this one. It was rad.

Monday, July 17, 2017

SEC - Bracket Matchup #9

Extra! Extra! Tie Breaker Decides Winner!

Another tie means the older card advances!

The main reason why I was able to get a bracket out of the 30 Day Challenge was because some of those posts featured multiple cards. Today's competition features two cards from two of those posts. Based on the comments on I got from the other 1990 Donruss in this championship, I'm fairly certain this will be another lop-sided vote:

1990 Donruss #15 Ozzie Guillen DK
2004 Topps World Champions Boston Red Sox #49 Team Celebration ALCS7

The Case For Ozzie Guillen: Um....Ozzie has a sweet 'stach? The fondness for Diamond Kings has no limit? Ozzie did lead the White Sox to their first title in 87 years - a longer World Series drought than the fabled Curse the Red Sox broke!

The Case For The 2004 ALCS Game 7:  The card says it all - Greatest Comeback Ever! Yeah, I'm biased, but even if you're not a Red Sox fan, you have to admit this was an impressive feat!

Leave a comment and tell me who should advance and why!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Mookie Knows

I was reading some baseball blogs the other day and saw this:

2017 Topps Archives #210 Mookie Betts

By the looks of it, apparently Mookie can juggle. (One handed, even!) This is just the latest of impressive things the Red Sox All Star is talented at. Over the All Star break, we learned he's also got his pilots license.

Photo via

He's also an accomplished bowler, having bowled in professional tournaments during the off season and even being credited with two 300 games!

Photo by Hollis Bennett/Rolling Stone

Oh, and he's pretty good at this baseball game too...

Mookie is starting to remind me of the old Bo Jackson Nike commercials, where the premise was that Bo Knows how to do pretty much anything. I think if Nike ever decides to revisit that concept, Mookie would be an excellent candidate. Mookie Knows Baseball!

*One of the great things about Google is their image search can lead you to some great content: That bowling photo came from a Rolling Stone article that came out last year. It's a good read: Bowling With Mookie Betts: Red Sox Star Is On A Roll.

*As of this publishing,  Bo Jackson and Amos Otis have an equal number of votes in my latest Bracket Challenge. Anyone want to be the tie-breaker?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Payday Pack - Raising Cain

While I was creating my last post, it dawned on me that the Daniel Murphy card was part of some Gypsy Queens I had purchased awhile back. I had started a Payday Pack post for them, but it never got finished.  Seems like motivation enough to finish the post for this week's Payday Pack!

So a couple weeks after its release, I decided to give the Gypsy Queen set a try. It looked like a nice enough set, and the blog reviews have been mostly positive. The only packs available were the Jumbo packs, with 3 6-card packs plus 5 of their green border parallels. Rather than pick my usual Top 3, I'll pick one from each pack and one from among the parallels.

Pack #1

2017 Topps Gypsy Queen - Missing Black Plate #40 Nomar Mazara
Also Got:
#195 Sonny Gray
#83 Tyler Austin (RC)
#96 Daniel Murphy
#146 Ricky Nolasco
#263 Colin Rea

I'm going to have to do some scanning soon. I had to borrow this picture. So, I'll be honest, I don't really get the appeal of the missing black plate.  It's really bland. None of the other cards really stood out though, so Nomar gets the nod.

Pack #2

2017 Topps Gypsy Queen #168 Aaron Judge (RC)
Also Got:
#172 Jon Gray
#60 Jameson Taillon
#219 Lorenzo Cain
#70 Leonys Martin
#204 Carlos Gonzalez

You can't go wrong with an Aaron Judge rookie card! Even us Red Sox fans have to admit he's likable and fun to watch. He deserved to win the Home Run Derby, and in my opinion once he got past Justin Bour in the first round, he made the rest of the derby seemed a little anticlimactic.

Pack #3

2017 Topps Gypsy Queen #225 Jose De Leon (RC)
Also Got:
#83 Tyler Austin (RC)*
#172 Jon Gray*
#219 Lorenzo Cain*
#70 Leonys Martin*
#175 Gregory Polanco

That De Leon card is a beaut! I love the cloudy sky backdrop. Nicely done artwork! The rest of this pack was a letdown. The asterisks next to the names here represent the doubles from this jumbo pack. I would have expected better collation here.

Green Parallels

2017 Topps Gypsy Queen - Green Border #219 Lorenzo Cain
Also Got:
#257 Addison Russell
#127 Yoenis Cespedes
#69 Randal Grichuk
#210 Adam Jones

Here we have the third card of Lorenzo Cain! 3 out of 23 total cards is a little odd, but at least it's a parallel. I like the green borders quite a bit. It emphasizes the border art very well.

Overall, I like the set. I may not buy another pack unless it hit clearance price, but a worthy add to the collection.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Valley League All-Stars

When you think about collegiate summer baseball leagues, most people think of the Cape Cod league, which is the gold standard and often showcases a lot of future MLB talent. When I moved down to Virginia 12 years ago, I was introduced to the Shenandoah Valley Baseball League. I don't get to watch as many games as I'd like, but I enjoy seeing the success many of them have as they move on to the Majors. As of this writing, there are 25 VBL alumni who have played a game this year. Three of them have recently been elected to play in tonight's MLB All-Star game.

I'm going to write about each of these players, and showcase what limited cards of theirs I have. First up is Oakland A's first baseman Yonder Alonso:

Yonder played for the Luray Wranglers in the summer of 2006. At the time, he was a coming off his freshman year at the University of Miami, and an appearance in the College World Series. Yonder made his MLB debut with the Cincinati Reds in 2010. He will be represent the Oakland Athletics as their sole representative. This is his first All-Star selection.

2016 Topps Update #US36 Yonder Alonso

Luray Wranglers
Chris Devenski played for the Woodstock River Bandits in 2011. Chris made his Major League debut last year, and has become an indispensable member of the Houston Astro's bullpen. He was selected to his first All-Star game this year as a replacement for a starter who pitched Sunday and could not participate.

2016 Topps Update #US270 (RC)

Woodstock River Bandits

As a 3 time All-Star, a Silver Slugger, and  the 2015 NLCS MVP, Daniel Murphy has had the most decorated career thus far among current Valley League Alums. Like Yonder Alonso, he also played for the Luray Wranglers. Daniel actually spent two summers playing down here, in 2004 and 2005. Daniel started his Major League career with the New York Mets in 2008. His career took off with his first All-Star selection in 2014, and his MVP performance in the 2015 NLCS made him one of the most sought after free agents from that off-season. He will be the starting second baseman for the NL squad this year, representing the Washington Nationals.

2017 Topps Gypsy Queen #96 Daniel Murphy

Luray Wranglers

Congrats to these 3 VBL Alums! I'll be rooting for each of you!

Monday, July 10, 2017

SEC - Bracket Match Up #8

No one likes ugly red border! Read all about it!

I'm not surprised no one voted for the ugly Donruss border. It doesn't bode well for another card that will be coming up later in the tournament.

I randomized how the cards were seeded within the bracket, so I'm amused when two cards with obvious similarities still end up pairing off. This match up is for all you Royals fans out there:

1987 Topps #170 Bo Jackson (RC, FS)
1972 Kellogg's #2 Amos Otis

The Case for Bo Jackson: The '87 Topps design is iconic, and this is the rookie cards of one of the era's iconic athletes. Bo knows you'll vote for him!

The Case for Amos Otis: This scan doesn't really do this card justice. It's a great 3D card, and one of the better oddball sets of the 70s. Amos Otis was no slouch of a ballplayer either!

This is an interesting one. I think an persuasive argument can be made for either one. Let's here your thoughts! Vote away!