Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Repack Haiku #87 (Bryan Hickerson)

Minnesota born
Drafted by Twins but traded
Before his debut

1994 Donruss #181 Bryan Hickerson

Monday, January 28, 2019

Checking Out The Checklist

Topps's latest base set comes out this week, and the list of player has recently been released. Of course, I had to check out what Red Sox would be showing up in my packs.

From The Cardboard Connection:

Boston's Boys - Boston Red Sox
David Price - Boston Red Sox
David Price - Boston Red Sox WSH
Eduardo Nunez - Boston Red Sox WSH
Fenway Park - Boston Red Sox
J.D. Martinez - Boston Red Sox LL
J.D. Martinez - Boston Red Sox WSH
J.D. Martinez - Boston Red Sox
Jackie Bradley Jr. - Boston Red Sox
Mitch Moreland - Boston Red Sox
Mookie Betts - Boston Red Sox
Mookie Betts - Boston Red Sox LL
Rafael Devers - Boston Red Sox
Rick Porcello - Boston Red Sox
Steve Pearce - Boston Red Sox WSH
Xander Bogaerts - Boston Red Sox

Not a bad lot of cards at all. I'm excited by the World Series Highlights obviously.

I also like to look at the list and see who will already be wearing an outdated uniform. From what I can gather, here's a list of all the Series 1 players who have been traded or became free agents this off season:

Adam Jones - Baltimore Orioles
Adam Ottavino - Colorado Rockies
Andrew Miller - Cleveland Indians
Avisail Garcia - Chicago White Sox
Billy Hamilton - Cincinnati Reds
Blake Parker - Los Angeles Angels
Brad Boxberger - Arizona Diamondbacks
Brian McCann - Houston Astros
Charlie Morton - Houston Astros
Christian Villanueva - San Diego Padres
Cody Allen - Cleveland Indians
Derek Dietrich - Miami Marlins
Edwin Diaz - Seattle Mariners
Edwin Encarnacion - Cleveland Indians
Ervin Santana - Minnesota Twins
James McCann - Detroit Tigers
James Paxton - Seattle Mariners
Jean Segura - Seattle Mariners
Jonathan Schoop - Milwaukee Brewers
Josh Donaldson - Cleveland Indians
Josh Harrison - Pittsburgh Pirates
Justus Sheffield - New York Yankees RC
Logan Morrison - Minnesota Twins
Matt Davidson - Chicago White Sox
Michael Brantley - Cleveland Indians
Mike Zunino - Seattle Mariners
Nick Markakis - Atlanta Braves
Paul Goldschmidt - Arizona Diamondbacks
Robinson Cano - Seattle Mariners
Russell Martin - Toronto Blue Jays
Tanner Roark - Washington Nationals
Tim Beckham - Baltimore Orioles
Yan Gomes - Cleveland Indians
Yasiel Puig - Los Angeles Dodgers
Yonder Alonso - Cleveland Indians

35 players! Initially, seeing 10% of a set showing outdated uniforms would seem like poor planning on Topps part, but I'm willing to give them a pass here. A lot of these guys were traded. Among the free agents, Topps wisely avoided the bigger name free agents like Harper and Machado. Also, I usually have no problem with guys that were traded mid season last year getting at least one base card with their last team, even it they only played with them a few months. Those Indians collectors deserve their Josh Donaldson card! Still, that leaves roughly half of these guys who Topps should have waited until Series 2 to include. Not horrible, but could be better.

As far as the set and inserts go, I'll add a few random thoughts:
  • I like the design for this year, it's almost got that retro 80's feel to it.
  • 10 parallels is way too many.
  • Yay! No more Salute inserts!
  • The 150 Years Of Professional Baseball tribute set looks pretty sharp!
  • That being said, I find Don Mattingly and Mark McGwire odd choices for one of the 50 greatest players. Everyone else is either in the Hall of Fame or a good bet to make it. You couldn't get 2 more legendary guys to round out the set? Mays? Griffey? Schmidt?
  • I wish Topps would stop dedicating insert sets to one player, especially if said player has one year of service time. Gleyber Torres makes the 3rd Yankee-centric insert set Topps has done recently.
  • The Evolution Of insert set has potential.I can't wait to see what it looks like!
  • The 1984 tribute set looks good too, but to be honest I'm getting bored of these.
Overall, I'm eager for some new product to come out! I feel like I'll be buying a good amount of this set!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Thinking Exercise, With A Twist

I don't know if this was intended to become a blog bat-a-round, but many bloggers have been piggy-backing on a post made by Night Owl (which was in turn prompted from a post by The Chronicles Of Fuji), where he lists the first player that pops into his head for every team. It's a fun idea, but one that seems to be easily influenced. I've already seen too many Tony Gwynns and Cal Ripkens to trust my own thought process.

I decided to try it out, but with a twist. Rather than just whoever pops in my head, I'm going to think of the first player I can think of that is also a Red Sox alum. I did a similar post last fall, and actually had it in the back of my mind to do a full lineup for each team, if possible. This would be a good starting point. I also decided to only allow a player to be used only once per team.

I present to you now, the player that popped into my head for each team:

Angels - Fred Lynn

1985 Topps #220 Fred Lynn

His swing was built for Fenway. I will always maintain that he would have built a strong Hall of Fame case if he never left.

Astros - Larry Andersen

1989 Donruss #359 Larry Andersen

My first thought was Jeff Bagwell, but he never played for the Red Sox. This led me to think of the guy he was traded for.

Athletics - Jose Canseco

1991 Bowman #227 Jose Canseco

A lot of Hall of Famers played for both teams, yet he popped in my mind first.

Blue Jays - Roger Clemens

1999 Topps Opening Day
#161 Roger Clemens (HL)

He was my favorite player growing up. It saddened me initially when he left. I got over it.

Braves - John Smoltz

1991 Leaf #309 John Smoltz

He's going to be the guest speaker at a University of Virginia fundraiser tomorrow. I think that influenced my decision.

Brewers - George Scott

1977 Topps #255 George Scott

Technically, Scott was the second person I thought of. I had a current Brewer in mind, but for the life of me I couldn't recall his name. All I could think of was his nickname "The Mayor Of Ding Dong City". Scott's name popped in my head before I could figure it out, so apologies to Travis Shaw.

Cardinals - Dennis Eckersley

1996 Upper Deck #375 Dennis Eckersley (BG)

I find with a lot of these players, I'm surprised by the team association. Eck was a quick choice for the Cardinals, which led me to wonder why I didn't associate him with the Athletics before?

Cubs - John Lester

2018 Topps #266 Jon Lester

I wish he never got traded. 

Diamondbacks - Chris Young

2008 Topps #179 Chris Young (PSH)

I'm surprised JD Martinez wasn't the first player I thought of!

Dodgers - Alex Cora

2001 Upper Deck Victory #371 Alex Cora

Like I said above, I did a whole lineup of players who wore both of these uniforms

Expos - Pedro Martinez

1995 Stadium Club #485 Pedro Martinez

Arguably the greatest trade in Red Sox history.

Giants - Pablo Sandoval

2011 Topps #188 Pablo Sandoval

Arguably the worst free agent signing in Red Sox history.

Indians - Andrew Miller

2018 Stadium Club #227 Andrew Miller

The one great thing Bobby  Valentine did in his one year as manager was to put this guy in the bullpen.

Mariners - Derek Lowe

1996 Bowman #228 Derek Lowe

Arguably the greatest trade in Red Sox history, part 2.

Marlins - Andre Dawson

1997 Upper Deck #80 Andre Dawon

Like Eck before him, I'm surprised he wasn't who popped in my head for the Cubs.

Mets - Mo Vaugn

2002 Donruss Originals - Aqueous
#331 Mo Vaughn

It was a shame he had trouble staying healthy after he left Boston.

Nationals - Jonathan Papelbon

2016 Topps #266 Jonathan Papelbon

All-time saves leader for two historic franchises, and if he could have stayed effective for just a few more years, he'd probably have held the Nationals record too.

Orioles - Koji Uehara

2009 Topps #616 Koji Uehara (RC)

The 2013 title doesn't happen without him.

Padres - Drew Pomeranz

2016 Topps Update
#US236 Drew Pomeranz (AS)

He was horrible for the Red Sox last year, but I think he's got a bounce back year coming up. The Giants got him on a good deal.

Phillies - Danial Nava

2017 Topps Heritage #561 Daniel Nava

He's got the kind of story that would make a great Disney movie. 

Pirates - Jason Bay

2004 Topps #411 Jason Bay

He was about a good of a return for Manny Ramirez as anyone could have asked.

Rangers - Adrian Beltre

2015 Topps #175 Adrian Beltre

Happy retirement Adrian! See you in the Hall in 5 years!

Rays/Devil Rays - Wade Boggs

1998 Donruss #234 Wade Boggs

The Rays retired his number before the Red Sox did, which is weird.

Reds - Bronson Arroyo

2011 Topps #98 Bronson Arroyo

Good guitar player, but still looked ridiculous in dreads.

Rockies - Ellis Burks

1997 Score #74 Ellis Burks

Proof that even injured players can be champions. 

Royals - Johnny Damon

2000 Stadium Club #12 Johnny Damon

What an Idiot.

Tigers - Rick Porcello

2014 Topps #384 Rick Porcello

With all the Red Sox hitting free  agency within the next two years, you don't hear about Porcello much. He's been solid, and I wouldn't mind seeing him come back.

Twins - Eduardo Nunez

2015 Topps #499 Eduardo Nunez

Proof that the World Series is still fresh in my mind - I thought of him before Big Papi?

White Sox - Yoan Moncada

2018 Bowman Platinum #22 Yoan Moncada

Why Moncada and not the guy he was traded for, Chris Sale? I don't know.

Yankees - Jacoby Ellsbury

2016 Topps Archives #40 Jacoby Ellsbury

He's still a Yankee, right?

So that was an interesting experiment. In almost all cases I could think of someone better if I gave myself even a minute to think of it. Instead I ended up with a delightfully weird mix of Hall of Famers, All-Stars, regulars and role players.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Repack Haiku #86 (Ryan Anderson/Mark Mangum)

Draft pick lottery
Neither made it to Majors
Ryan a chef now

1998 Topps #491 Ryan Anderson/Mark Mangum

Monday, January 21, 2019

Fun With Numbers

Let's play a game...

Player A is a former MLB pitcher. He is firmly regarded as a member of the "Hall of Very Good" - an excellent player, but one who did not receive much support for the Hall of Fame.

Over the course of his 19 year career, Player A appeared in 234 games where he gave up 1 ER or less. Here are the stats from just those appearances:

Games Innings Win-Loss ERA Strikeouts
Player A 234 1,349 1/3 128-24 0.73 1,058

Let's compare this to the full career of another mystery player:

Games Innings Win-Loss ERA Strikeouts
Player A 234 1,349 1/3 128-24 0.73 1,058
Player B 1,115 1,283 2/3 82-60 2.21 1,173

All things considered, it would be difficult to pick one player over another. The stats are pretty close. Player A gave up less a lot less runs while pitching more innings, and only struck out 115 fewer batters. Whereas Player A is regarded as slightly above average compared to his peers, Player B is considered an all-time great and an inner circle Hall of Famer. You can probably guess who he is if I add one additional stat:

Games Innings Win-Loss ERA StrikeoutsSaves
Player A 234 1,349 1/3 128-24 0.73 1,05815
Player B 1,115 1,283 2/3 82-60 2.21 1,173652

Player B is the greatest relief pitcher in the history of baseball, Mariano Rivera.

2014 Topps Update - Fond Farewells
#FF-MR Mariano Rivers

Tomorrow, Mariano Rivera will get announced as one of the newest members of the Hall of Fame, and will get elected with one of the highest, if not the highest, vote percentages in history. I have no problem with this. He's got my vote! But can anyone tell me that Player A was not as good as, if not better, than Rivera? Both pitched at a high levels of dominance for over 1,200 innings.The biggest difference is obviously that one key stat - saves. Player A was primarily a starter for his career, while Mariano's bread and butter were singular innings when the Yankees already had a lead. Another big difference is that I'm using only partial, cherry-picked stats for the starter. In truth, Player A appeared  in 339 more games, pitching 2,137 additional innings!

Now obviously it's harder to maintain a level of dominance when you pitch over 2,137 extra innings. If Rivera was used as a starter and had all that extra wear and tear on his arm, would he still be elite? If Player A was strictly a closer, would he have been the greatest? That's kind of my point. The ability to pitch multiple innings, to see a lineup more than once and still be effective, is not getting sufficient credit. Between the advent of the "opener", specialized bullpens, and the sabermetric "Kill The Win" movement, starters are becoming underappreciated. What does it tell us when an "above average" starter is every bit as dominate, if not more, than the greatest reliever of all time?

I readily admit I have a certain bias against relievers. I don't think they pitch enough to deserve certain accolades over starters. The guidelines may say relievers should be equally considered for the Cy Young award, but can someone who throws 100 innings really have more value over one that throws 250-300?

As I stated before, I have no problem with Rivera getting elected to the Hall. However, every year, the powers that decide such thing confuse me. This year is no different. Two things in particular don't make sense to me. By comparing the greatest reliever ever with an above average starter, I'm able to clarify my consternation to the following facts:

1. There are voters that think Mariano Rivera is worthy but not Roy Halladay.

Roy Halladay has similar numbers to Player A, but has won 2 Cy Young Awards and pitched multiple no-hitters. He'll get in as a first ballot Hall of Famer too, but I honestly think Halladay's vote totals and Rivera's should be much closer.

2. Lee Smith, a great reliever in his own right but nowhere near Mariano's level, is a Hall of Famer. Player B is not. Again, because of that one game-ending stat, saves.

If you want to tell me that Mariano Rivera is a better pitcher than Player A, fine. I won't argue. You want to tell me Lee Smith is better, though?
Player A Revealed!

I'll take Luis Tiant over him any day!

As Billy Wagner's case keeps getting debated, and as the Kimbrel/Chapman/Jensen class of closers build their case, I'll always have doubts as to if their impact was really any greater than Luis Tiant or some of the other "Hall of Very Good" starters.

For what it's worth:

Games Innings Win-Loss ERA StrikeoutsSaves
Lee Smith 1,022 1,289 1/3 71-92 3.03 1,251478
Mariano Rivera 1,1151,283 2/382-602.211,173652
Roy Halladay 416 2,749 1/3 203-105 3.38 2,1171
Luis Tiant (partial) 234 1,349 1/3 128-24 0.73 1,05815
Luis Tiant (career) 573 3486 1/3 229-172 3.30 2,41615

Friday, January 18, 2019

Payday Pack - I Crush Your Head!

I actually bought this pack in October, and this post had been sitting incomplete ever since. Might as well finish it off and show some cards! I didn't think you'd mind!

3rd Place

2018 Stadium Club #299 Trevor Story

I guess no one in Colorado misses Tulowitzki anymore, huh? Story grabs 3rd place in the pack for no other reason than those sweet purple gloves.

2nd Place

2018 Stadium Club #203 Zack Cozart

Anyone old enough to remember the great Canadian comedy group, The Kids In The Hall? My first thought seeing this card was "I crush your head!"

1st Place

2018 Stadium Club #72 Bo Jackson

Bo! This man was lumberjack strong, but what made him such a good two-sport athlete was the power he could generate in his legs. He was fast, and this photo showcases that.

Other Contestants Not Appearing On Stage:
#82 Felix Jorge
#159 Trey Mancini
#10 Matt Kemp
#94 Justin Upton
#296 Jackson Stephens (RC)
#292 Jen-Ho Tseng (RC, black foil parallel)
#198 Keury Mella (RC)
#134 Lucas Sims (RC)
#211 Luis Severino

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Repack Haiku #85 (Rico Brogna)

Has the distinction
Of hitting the first ever
Home run at Coors Field

1992 Donruss The Rookies #17 Rico Brogna

Monday, January 14, 2019

Time Travel Trading Update #25

Special Agent William O'Dell had been staring at the wall for hours, and yet still he couldn't believe what he saw. Three television screens, each showing the video feed from three different houses in three different cities. On the left, a young man was peering inside his fridge looking for a snack. On the right, the same young man was reading a book. Again, there in the middle, the same man lifting weights.

It was impossible. He had personally overseen dozens of time travels, and every time a singular athlete came back through. The anomaly that was Maury Wills presented a unique challenge to the project. The first two Maury Wills came through the portal in rather quick succession. Fortunately the technicians on hand were alertly thinking and kept the two separated before they could see each other. (Himself?) The third one arrived about an hour later. It was decided to keep them away from each other until a plan could be formulated. Who knows what the ramifications could be if they saw each other? How were they going to fix this? It was a puzzle Agent O'Dell had been working tirelessly to solve. He looked at the clock. He had dinner reservations and needed to pull himself away from the problem at hand. He wasn't going to solve anything tonight. Perhaps a good meal and a glass of wine would help provide an answer.

O'Dell walked out of the room and let the door close behind him. On the left screen, a young Maury Wills was making a call. The sound of ringing phone could be hear from one of the other screens...


I'll admit it. I was seriously thinking of closing up shop. The project had been limping along for awhile. In between a few small trades, the past few months was more about me pimping cards and trying to generate interest. I thought maybe the time was at hand.

Bo from Baseball Cards Come To Life had other ideas. He contacted me just after the new year and offered up a sizable trade.  I sent out fifteen cards from the trade stack! (I'll also make another admission - it was tough letting some vintage Red Sox cards go!) In return, Bo merely injected new life into the Time Travel Trading project!

Let's get these first two cards out of the way. They were included to protect the rest of the cards, but I have no reason not to include them in the stack:

I can't image there would be much demand for these, but if anyone wants to give them a good home, they can we had for your choice of junk wax!

Next is a group of cards from the 1961 Topps set:

They may not be names you know, and they may be (to put it mildly) well-loved, but these are some awesome cards nonetheless. If you're building this set, these would make good place holders until a better conditioned card came along. (Or not...some of us collectors appreciate a little personality on our vintage!)

The rest of these cards I'm rather excited about. I think part of the reason the project has lagged is the lack of some big names. They may not all be Hall of Famers, but these cards are chock full of stars from the era - names that every baseball fan has at least heard of!

That's a pretty amazing lot of 1971 cards if you ask me! I believe this is the third trade Bo and I have done, all of them through the Time Travel Trading project. I really appreciate it, Bo!

According to my records, I have made 29 Time Travel trades so far! I am one trade away from 30 - someone has to want that high honor! As always, any card here is available for an older card. Just comment below or reach out to me on the TCDB (Member Name: Kep75)

***Hey, you! Read this!***
Also, I'm looking for some opinions: I started this project almost a year ago with the first pack I bought of the 2018 base set. With the 2019 set coming up soon, I'm toying with the idea of again adding the first pack I buy to the stack. On one hand, it may add a boost by allowing people to pick up new cards without giving up something old. On the other, I have doubts if it'll generate significant interest since the project is pretty much established and doing well. New cards may not fit in an old project, if you know what I mean. What do you think? Does this project need some fresh blood, or are the 90+ cards I have now strong enough to keep this going?

The Time Travel Trade Stack:

2008-09 O-Pee-Chee (hockey)
#128 Tim Thomas

2001 Upper Deck - e-Card (golf)
#E-TW Tiger Woods

1993 Classic Draft Picks (basketball)
#33 Will Flemons
#67 Bennie Seltzer

1990-91 Hoops (basketball)
#168 Glen Rice (RC)

1990-91 Pro Set Super Bowl 160 (football)
#16 SB XVI Ticket - San Francisco 49ers / Cincinnati Bengals

1990 Pro Set - Theme Art (football)
#10 Super Bowl X Pittsburgh Steelers / Dallas Cowboys 

1986 Sportflics
#122 John Tudor

1986 Topps
#5 Rose Special '75-'78
#6 Rose Special '79-'82
 #401 Fernando Valenzuela (Turn Back The Clock)

1985 Topps
#694 Joe Carter

1982 Donruss
#NNO Checklist 545-653

1982 O-Pee-Chee E.T. The Extraterrestrial (non-sport)
#15 Among Elliott's Toys

1980 Topps
#143 Bruce Bochte
#157 Willie Wilson
#671 A's Future Stars

1979 Topps
#130 Bob Watson
#465 Reggie Smith

1977 Topps
#524 Rowland Office

1975 Topps
#378 Derrel Thomas
#402 Bob Tolan

1974 Topps
#38 Don Kessinger
#67 Tommy Helms

1974 Topps - Team Checklists
#NNO Montreal Expos

1973-74 O-Pee-Chee (hockey)
#53 Richard Lemieux

1973 Topps
#18 Leroy Stanton
#29 Tony Taylor
#36 Steve Barber
#79 Jim Willoughby (RC)
#98 Dick Woodson
#99 Carl Taylor

1972 Topps
#43 Rick Wise
#109 Jerry May
#437 Maury Wills
#438 Maury Wills (IA)

1971 Topps
#16 Ken Singleton (RC)
#63 AL 1970 RBI Leaders (Howard/Conigliaro/Powell)
#71 AL 1970 Strikeout Leaders (McDowell/Lolich/Johnson)
#90 Joe Pepitone
#95 Luis Tiant
#105 Tony Conigliaro
#146 Ralph Houk (MGR)
#183 Gil Hodges (MGR)
#195 AL Playoffs Game 1 - Powell Muscles Twins!
#208 Billy Martin (MGR)
#290 Tony Oliva
#374 Clete Boyer
#385 Maury Wills
#388 Al Oliver

1971 Topps (football)
#22 Ken Avery (RC)

1970 Topps
#47 Bob Miller
#56 Phillies Rookies - Joe Lis/Scott Reid (RC)
#103 Frank Reberger

1970 Red Rose and Blue Ribbon North American Wildlife In Danger (non-sport)
#32 Polar Bear

1969 Topps
#139 Andy Kosco

1969 Topps - Deckle Edge
#13 Mel Stottlemyre

1969 Topps (football)
#73 Bennie McRae
#154 Sam Baker

1968 Topps
#4 1967 AL RBI Leaders (Yastrzemski/Killebrew/Robinson)
#348 Larry Colton/Dick Thoenen

1968 Topps - Game
#15 Steve Hargan

1968 Topps (football)
#7 Earl Gros

1967 Philadelphia (football)
#109 New York Giants (TC)

1966 Topps
#154 Chuck Hiller

1966 Philadelphia (football)
#104 Rams vs. Browns

1965 Philadelphia (football)
#193 John Paluck

1964 Philadelphia (football)
#172 Ken Gray (RC)

1963 Topps
#155 Bill Stafford

1961 Topps
#32 Ray Sadecki
#38 Bob Lillis
#96 Billy O'Dell
#165 Gino Cimoli
#258 Jack Sanford
#267 Norm Siebern

1960 Topps
#95 Frank Thomas

1959 Topps
#289 Willie Jones

1959 Topps (football)
#80 Joe Perry

1958 Topps
#371 Marty Keough (RC)

1958 Topps Zorro (non-sport)
#83 Rude Awakening

1957 Topps
#66 Brooks Lawrence
#235 Tom Poholsky
#249 Dave Pope
#371 Bob Lennon

1956 Topps
#21 Joe Collins
#103 Willie Miranda (white back)
#156 Johnny Antonelli

1956 Topps Flags of the World (non-sport)
#70 Jordan

1955 Topps
#126 Dick Hall (RC)

1954 Bowman
#73 Don Mueller

1952 Bowman
#57 Clyde Vollmer

1938 Church & Dwight Useful Birds Of America Tenth Series (J9-6) (non-sport)
#2 Black-throated Green Warbler

The Time Travel Trading Project is simple in concept. I started out with a random pack of 2018 Topps Series 1 baseball cards. My aim was to trade every card in that pack for something older. Each card I receive in turn is then made available for trade, with the goal to get the oldest card I can get.

Number of trades completed: 29
Unique trading partners: 21

Number of cards mailed out: 69
Year of oldest card mailed out: 1956

Number of cards received: 161
Year of oldest card received: 1938