Thursday, April 30, 2020

Support For Trey Mancini

I miss baseball, but not really.

It's a big part of my life, and helps define who I am as a person. At worst, it's a worthy background noise while I do things around the house. At it's best, it's thrilling entertainment better than anything Hollywood can produce.

I miss it, but there are more important things in life.

2018 Stadium Club #159 Trey Mancini

 Young Orioles slugger Trey Mancini recently revealed he is battling Stage III Colon Cancer. Living in Virginia, I get to watch a lot of Orioles games on MASN, and he's a bright spot on a team that hasn't had much to get excited about recently. He seems like a good guy, and seems to have a good head on his shoulders. He's exactly the kind of guy a baseball fan roots for.

From what he's written, he's doing very well. It was caught early. He still has a long road of chemo still ahead of him. If baseball is played in 2020, he will not be on that field.

As a cancer survivor myself, I'm keeping him in my thoughts and prayers as he battles this. Seeing him back in uniform again will be a reason for celebration.

Keep fighting, Trey.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Repack Haiku #150 (Lou Whitaker)

Based on career WAR
Just six have more at second
Justice for Sweet Lou!

1991 Fleer Ultra #130 Lou Whitaker

He has more career WAR than modern day Hall of Fame second basemen Roberto Alomar and Craig Biggio! He deserves to be there among the greats!


I realized that yesterday was officially the 3rd Anniversary of my blog! Wow, that caught me off guard. Thanks to everyone that's read and commented over the years. I'm still enjoying this, and have no plans to stop!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Choosing Pops Over Papi

Another month, another dose of Friday Night Fun courtesy of Johnny from Johnny's Trading Spot. In case you haven't been paying attention, Johnny has been holding weekly games and giving out cards  every Friday night for the past few months. 

I've participated for the past two months, and have gotten some cool cards every time. This go-around, I got the coveted #1 spot. If you've read my last two summaries, you're probably wondering: (1) Did I choose #5 again, and (2) Will there be a Short Circuit reference?

I'm sorry to disappoint you, faithful readers, but I choose Door #2 this time. My pick yielded another batch of All-Stars, including a great looking Zenith card of David Ortiz!

Since I was the first to pick, I had the option of stealing a prize once everyone else had claimed their cards. Truth be told, I would have been quite happy with the batch I started out with. However, the person who DID PICK #5 had a pretty nice selection of cards, and well what can I say but I stole them!

*Warning: Poor attempt to squeeze in one last Short Circuit reference ahead!*

Here's Johnny (Podres)!

OK, technically that's more of a Tonight Show/The Shining reference than a Short Circuit one, but if you know your song parodies, then you know Weird Al has my back here.

Anyway, along with Mr. Podres are some awesome Hall of Fame players! I've always enjoyed the Conlon and that Upper Deck Classic sets. Johnny also included this spiffy Kellogg's card:

Favorite Card: That Stargell in the winter beanie was the card that caught my eye and ultimately led to me giving up the David Ortiz!

Thanks again Johnny! As for everyone else, keep your eyes open for May's signup. You can participate once a month, and once you're signed up keep your designated Friday night open, because the game moves fast and Johnny does not suffer procrastinators!

***EDIT: Johnny's signup for May is available at his web site! Go get yourself some free cards!***

Friday, April 24, 2020

Random Thoughts On The Red Sox Cheating Report

That was anti-climatic, wasn't it? All that waiting, all that twisting in the wind - I was expecting something big.

Anyway, the report is out, and the Red Sox got a meager slap on the wrist. Just as I did before with the Astros, here are my quick thoughts on the report:
I find that J.T. Watkins, the Red Sox video replay system operator, on at least some occasions during the 2018 regular season, utilized the game feeds in the replay room, in violation of MLB regulations, to revise sign sequence information that he had permissibly provided to players prior to the game.
Ultimately, this is the underlying issue that MLB needs to address. Sign stealing during a game is permitted. Using video to steal signs is allowed before and after a game, just not during. Furthermore, video is allowed to be used in-game for other aspects, like examining a batter's swing during an at-bat. Throw in instant replay and you have a lot of gray area as to what is and isn't allowed by technology. MLB needs to take a deep look at the role technology is going to play in the game and how to effectively control how it is used. I can't help but think that the introduction of replay challenges was the Pandora's box that makes it easier for teams to use and abuse the technology present.
I find that unlike the Houston Astros’ 2017 conduct...Watkins’s conduct, by its very nature, was far more limited in scope and impact. The information was only relevant when the Red Sox had a runner on second base (which was 19.7% of plate appearances league-wide in 2018), and Watkins communicated sign sequences in a manner that indicated that he had decoded them from the in-game feed in only a small percentage of those occurrences.
We knew beforehand that the accusations the Red Sox were facing were no where near the level that we saw with Huston. The violation here is a mild step over what a player can legally do to decode what the pitcher is throwing. By mild, I mean that once the team knows what is coming, they still have to rely on a base runner at second to relay the information to the batter. Pitchers routinely change up their signs when they suspect the opposition knows something, regardless of how the info was obtained. This strategy makes me feel that the end benefit wasn't as pronounced as I was originally led to believe.
I do not find that then-Manager Alex Cora, the Red Sox coaching staff, the Red Sox front office, or most of the players on the 2018 Red Sox knew or should have known that Watkins was utilizing in-game video to update the information that he had learned from his pregame analysis. Communication of these violations was episodic and isolated to Watkins and a limited number of Red Sox players only.
First off, I'm surprised Cora wasn't involved in some way. His year long suspension was due to his Astros ties. At first I thought a double-whammy would have been a career ending result, but now I'm not so sure. He'll get another chance to manage again, but it may be awhile.
I find that the Red Sox front office consistently communicated MLB’s sign-stealing rules to non-player staff and made commendable efforts toward instilling a culture of compliance in their organization.
See? The Red Sox learned from that Apple Watch incident! Everyone assumed the Red Sox were going to get hit hard because they've already been punished recently. I always had my doubts about this, because it automatically assumed that the Red Sox organization from the top down had no regard for the rules and any future repercussions. This is obviously not the case.
Watkins is suspended without pay for the 2020 season and 2020 Postseason and prohibited from serving as a replay room operator for the 2021 season and 2021 Postseason. 
It'll be interesting to see if Red Sox ownership eventually follows the Astros lead and flat out fires him. It's revealed further on in the report that Watkins was also the one responsible for sending the information during the Apple Watch violation. He obviously is someone who isn't afraid to test the boundaries of MLB's rules, and twice now he has been caught. 
Although the Commissioner’s Office agreed not to discipline players who were truthful in their interviews, based on the findings of the investigation, this is not a case in which I would have otherwise considered imposing discipline on players.
One of the biggest issues I had with the Astros report is how the players got off scott-free despite being the main instigators and proponents of the trash can relay system. Manfred makes it clear that the Red Sox violation was not created by the players and staff, and that they would not have been punished even if immunity were off the table. Although I am relieved to hear this, I cannot in good conscious believe the team was completely innocent. The report suggests that many players suspected that Watkins was doing something, but had no concrete evidence. What the report doesn't tell us is what these players did with their suspicions. Did they tell anyone? Did they stop using the information they were given? How much plausible deniability is really plausible?
The Club must be held accountable, particularly since the Club may have benefited from Watkins’s conduct. As a result, I have determined that the Red Sox shall forfeit their second round selection in the 2020 First-Year Player Draft.
Losing the draft pick will suck, considering the current state of their farm system, but it's acceptable. Still, this just reads to me as if Manfred had to do something, and this was all he could come up with. I'm surprised that paltry fine Houston got wasn't replicated here.

So that's it. This will no doubt piss a lot of fans off (especially most Yankee fans) for being too light, but given the lack of evidence or a Mike Fliers type of player stepping forward, there really wasn't much that could be done. You have to go by the facts, and the facts show the Red Sox infraction was minor at best. I have a hard time believing other playoff caliber teams wouldn't have revealed similar findings if MLB had investigated them as well.

Now we can put this behind us, move forward, and hope baseball can be played again soon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Repack Haiku #149 (Matt Szczur)

A selfless hero
Donated his bone marrow
Saved a young girl's life

2015 Topps #637 Matt Szczur (RC)

Mad respect to Matt Szczur. If you need a feel-good story, check out this ESPN E:60 production:

ESPN E:60 Risking It All

Monday, April 20, 2020


The latest Blog Bat-A-Round has been a hobby-centric take on the social media list of "Things I Hate That Other People Like". Hate is a strong word, especially when it comes to sports and card collecting. I can't really say I hate anything. Heck, I'm a Red Sox fan that married a Yankees fan! I can tolerate just about anything! Truth is, personally, there's a lot of things that people love and hate that just personally aren't my cup of tea either way. It doesn't mean I'm of the opposite opinion though. You do you, world.

With that in mind, here are 10 things you may or may not feel strongly about that I just shrug my shoulders and say "meh":

1. Allen & Ginter

The most obvious example of something not being my particular flavor. I understand completely why people love the set - it's unlike anything else put out by Topps. It just does not appeal to me, and I find myself appreciating the inserts more than the set itself.

2. Chrome

Done right, Chrome cards are just downright pretty. I've just never thought it was worth buying what is essentially a rehash of the base set.

3. Variation Collecting

Do you know why these two card  are different? The left has one asterisk on the back, while the right has two asterisks. Do I care? Not one iota! Missing copyrights and misspelled text excite some collectors, but I'm not one of them. Although I'll hold onto obvious errors (like the 1988 Topps Al Leiter), I won't consider my 1988 Donruss set incomplete just because a few cards are factory set issued and therefore have differently orientated backs that the retail cards.

4. Online Exclusive Cards

If I ever go to a game where something worthy enough happens to justify a Topps Now card, I'll probably pick one up. Otherwise, I have no real motivation to collect these. Same goes with Topps Living and Topps Total.

5. Writing/imperfections

Most of the cards in my collection from the 50's and 60's has some sort of writing on them. A lot of my cards have rounded corners, or any of the various nicks and creases that can befall cardboard. It's cool with me.  I think it gives them personality.

6. Football

Straying to non-card territory, football is a distant third behind baseball and hockey for me. I never watch college football, and rarely spend my Sundays watching the NFL. To be fair though, I had been watching a bit more of the new XFL league before the season got shut down. Regardless, it's not a must watch sport for me.

7. Openers/Closers

I get that there's a strategy to throwing a pitcher out for just an inning or two, but I've always felt a Major League caliber pitcher should be consistently able to at least go one turn through a line-up. That's probably why I've always thought the closer position was overrated.

8. The All-Star Game

I just don't get excited about the game like I used to. There's too many players and they switch around so often you don't really get to appreciate the match-ups. Verlander vs Yelich was a great way to start last year's game. By the 7th we had Greene vs. Moustakas.

9. Harold Baines, Hall of Famer

I'm a "Big Hall" guy, but even I raised an eyebrow when he got that Veterans Committee nomination. Still, I don't buy into all the hate surrounding it. There are worse players already enshrined, there are better players who have been denied so far. The Hall's worthiness isn't an exact science, so let's appreciate the positive contributions every member has made, including Baines.

10. The Houston Astros*

Yep, I'm officially over it.  They did what they did, that chapter is closed, and now I can file it away with the Steroids Era, corked bats and spitballs. Who cares if they taped buzzers to their nipples? I've moved on, and when baseball is finally played again I will enjoy it without wondering who is doing what and if it is fair. (But for the love of God, just finish the Red Sox report already so I can be over that too!)

Friday, April 17, 2020

Payday Pack - The Greatest Rookie Card Ever

One of the first rules of financial planning is to have something saved up in case of emergency. Due to this pandemic, I haven't purchased any new cards of late. Fortunately, I have a few pack from earlier this year to show off for this week's edition of Payday Pack! Granted, it's nothing you haven't seen already, but still it's fun to look at them, yes?

3rd Place

2020 Topps #252 Aaron Hicks

He almost looks superimposed onto the background, doesn't he? This year's base set has a lot of great jump catches.

2nd Place

2020 Topps #135 Enrique Hernandez

This card makes me wince. Mr. Hernandez is obviously very athletic, but if my leg was ever that far up in the air like that, I would be in some serious pain.

1st Place

2020 Topps #57 Travis Demeritte (RC)

Does any recent player have a rookie card as cool as this one? The Negro League uniform, the unusual angle of the shot, the clouds - everything just comes together beautifully. Even the green padding adds an element to it! Demiritte could go on to have thousands of baseball cards in his career, and yet none may top this one.

Other Contestants Not Appearing On Stage:
#215 Luke Jackson
#301 Mike Tauchman
#299 David Price
#256 Roman Quinn
#252 Aaron Hicks
#5 Jacoby Jones
#214 Trea Turner
#139 Jose Quintana
#200 Christian Yelich
#185 Johnny Cueto
#65 Cleveland Indians
#241 Mike Clevinger (Gold parallel)
#TR-28 Jose Ramirez (Turkey Red insert)
#12 Sam Hillard (RC)

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Repack Haiku #148 (Frank Viola)

Known as "Sweet Music"
Led Twins to Championship
Won Cy Young award

1992 Stadium Club #785 Frank Viola
I remember being excited when the Red Sox signed him. The thought of him and Roger Clemens as the team's top two starters had me thinking playoffs. He was good in Boston until getting injured.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Time Travel Trading Update #41

I guess I should start this off by clarifying my current stance on trading. I've seen a lot of people decide to put off trading until the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly decreased. People aren't taking chances, and I respect that. I myself haven't initiated any new trades, but that doesn't mean I'm opposed to sending/receiving cards. I'm still perfectly willing to trade. However, trips to the Post Office are not high on my priority list right now. The goal is to make no more than one trip there per month. If you want any of the cards here, please do not hesitate to put a claim in. I just may not send off the cards until the end of the month. Alternately, if you prefer I hold on to the cards until all this blows over, I'm willing to do that too. Whatever you are comfortable with.

Now, onto the cards...

I had one trade since the last update. Tom from The Angels, In Order collects checklists, and snagged the latest checklists that were added to the stack. In return, he sent some great cards. First, the baseball cards:

This is the second Mel Stottlemyer Deckle Edge to make an appearance in the Time Travel Trading stack. Tom also sent this very cool card from Bowman's 1954 Powers For Peace set:

Awesome stuff there! Thanks a bunch Tom!

Again, if you see anything in this stack you want, just put your claim in now. All it takes is a card older than what you're sending out!

The Time Travel Trade Stack:

2018 Topps
#502 Xander Bogaerts

2017-1018 Pocket Schedule
Carolina Hurricanes

2017 Bowman
#12 Trea Turner

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

1998 Score
#68 Scott Rolen
#74 Mark McLemore

1994 Sportflics
#113 Pete Harnisch

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

1992 Fleer Ultra
#594 Dave Righetti

1991 Upper Deck
#778 Dave Righetti

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

1990 Fleer
#629 Jose Canseco (POD)

1990 Upper Deck
#626 Frank Viola

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

1989 Fleer
#29 Bob Welch

1989 Score
#495 Larry Parrish

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

1985 Donruss
#305 Steve Carlton
#421 Andre Dawson
#557 Mark Langston (RC)
#616 Joe Carter 

1985 Topps
#694 Joe Carter

1983 Topps
#70 Steve Carlton

1982 Donruss
#74 Carl Yastrzemski
#76 Alan Trammell
#214 Tim Raines
#252 Lee Smith (RC)
#NNO Checklist 545-653

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

1982 Topps
#3 Tim Raines (HL)
#34 Joe Sambito
#70 Tim Raines
#74 Bob Clark
#190 J.R. Richard
#303 Bill Caudill
#399 Pat Zachry
#401 Johnny Bench (IA)
#462 Dave Chalk
#480 Steve Carlton
#651 Carl Yastrzemski (IA)
#754 Joe Morgan 

1981 Fleer
#268 Rod Carew

1981 Topps
#82 Astros Future Stars (RC)
#98 Clint Hurdle
#121 Larry Harlow
#259 Mets Future Stars
#363 Geoff Zahn
#414 John Pacella
#530 Steve Garvey
#560 Joe Morgan
#600 Johnny Bench (AS)

1980 Topps
#29 Mark Wagner
#51 Joe Ferguson
#88 Ken Landreaux
#143 Bruce Bochte
#157 Willie Wilson
#290 Steve Garvey (AS)
#325 Dan Driessen
#362 Danny Goodwin
#406 Paul Molitor
#572 Jerry Morales
#605 Terry Forster
#642 Ken Forsch
#655 Tug McGraw 
#671 A's Future Stars
#685 Padres Future Stars (RC)

1979 Topps
#25 Steve Carlton
#130 Bob Watson
#214 Boston Red Sox (TC) 
#465 Reggie Smith

1978 Topps
#295 Bill Lee
#373 Jim Willoughby
#385 Tito Fuentes
#424 Boston Red Sox (TC)
#482 Rick Miller
#706 Rookie 1st Baseman (Cage/Cox/Putnam/Revering) 

1976 Topps
#70 Roy Smalley/Roy Smalley Jr. (FS)
#196 1975 AL RBI Leaders (Scott/Mayberry/Lynn)

1976 Wonder Bread (football)  
#17 Bill Bergey

1975 Topps
#310 '74 Victory Leaders
#378 Derrel Thomas
#402 Bob Tolan

1974 Topps
#38 Don Kessinger
#67 Tommy Helms
#107 Alex Johnson
#141 Pat Bourque
#158 Jack Billingham
#158 Jack Billingham
#227 Mike Lum 
#349 John Vukovich 
#372 Ken Reitz
#534 Eddie Watt
#572 Enzo Hernandez
#638 Ken Sanders
#660 Larry Dierker

1974 Topps - Team Checklists
#NNO Montreal Expos

1974 Topps Traded
#458T Jim Ray
#496T Tom Murphy

1974 Wonder Bread (football)
#8 Bob Griese 

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

1973 Topps
#29 Tony Taylor 
#30 Tug McGraw
#68 1972 Leading Firemen (Carroll/Lyle)
#75 Vada Pinson
#79 Jim Willoughby (RC)
#80 Tony Oliva
#102 Rudy May
#116 Ralph Houk (MGR)
#145 Bobby Bonds
#215 Dusty Baker
#225 Albert Oliver
#230 Joe Morgan
#232 Ken Singleton
#240 Bobby Murcer
#258 Tommy John
#325 Boog Powell
#329 Ed Kranepool
#365 Rico Petrocelli
#368 Bill Buckner

1972-73 Topps (hockey)
#8 Stanley Cup Trophy

1972 Topps
#33 Billy Martin (MGR)
#43 Rick Wise
#163 Tug McGraw
#197 Johnny Briggs
#225 World Series Game 3 - Manny Sanguillen
#231 Casey Cox
#239 Tom Timmermann
#363 Ron Klimkowski
#373 John Mayberry
#438 Maury Wills (IA)

1972 Topps (football)
#111 Jim Tyrer
#114 Bob James (RC)

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)
#195 AL Playoffs Game 1 - Powell Muscles Twins!
#208 Billy Martin (MGR)
#270 Rico Carty
#290 Tony Oliva
#295 Bobby Bonds
#310 Tommie Agee 
#328 World Series Game 2 - Bufird Goes 2-4 (WS)
#374 Clete Boyer
#374 Clete Boyer
#388 Al Oliver

1971 Topps (football)
#22 Ken Avery (RC)
#110 Floyd Little (AS)
#176 Mac Percival

1971 Topps - Games Insert (football)
#38 Matt Snell
1970 Red Rose and Blue Ribbon North American Wildlife In Danger (non-sport)
#32 Polar Bear

1970 Topps
#47 Bob Miller
#390 Willie Davis
#457 Rico Petrocelli (AS) 

1969 Topps
#66 Orioles Rookies
#80 Norm Cash
#131 Chris Cannizarro 
#139 Andy Kosco
#182 Bill Rigney (MGR)
#484 Joe Gordon (MGR) 

1969 Topps - Deckle Edge
#13 Mel Stottlemyer

1969 Topps (football)
#73 Bennie McRae
#115 Randy Johnson 
#154 Sam Baker
#175 Joe Morrison

1968 Topps
#4 1967 AL RBI Leaders (Yastrzemski/Killebrew/Robinson)
#7 1967 NL ERA Leaders (Niekro/Bunning/Short)
#44 Frank Kostro
#181 Jerry Zimmerman
#260 Jim Wynn 
#309 Ken Henderson
#348 Larry Colton/Dick Thoenen
#449 Gene Oliver
#519 Jerry Stephenson 

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

1967 Topps
#1 The Champs (F. Robinson/Bauer/B. Robinson)
#348 Tug McGraw
#366 Andy Kosco

1966 Topps
#154 Chuck Hiller

1966 Philadelphia (football)
#104 Rams vs. Browns

1965 Topps
#17 Johnny Romano
#27 Dick Bertell
#86 Les Narum
#87 Nelson Mathews
#108 Don Mincher
#111 Lee Thomas
#178 Dalton Jones
#307 Barry Latman
#352 Alex Johnson (RC)

1965 Philadelphia (football)
#193 John Paluck

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

1964 Topps
#18 Billy O'Dell
#45 Milt Pappas
#92 Steve Ridzik
#341 Jim Roland 

1964 Topps - Coins 
#7 Frank Malzone

1963 Topps
#155 Bill Stafford
#265 Vida Pinson

1961 Topps
#32 Ray Sadecki
#38 Bob Lillis
#96 Billy O'Dell
#258 Jack Sanford
#267 Norm Siebern
#399 Cliff Cook (RC) 

1960 Topps
#138 Art Mahaffey (RC, RS)
#186 Dave Sisler 
#289 Willie Jones
#414 Don Williams (RC)

1959 Topps
#298 Tex Clevenger
#424 Ken Aspromonte
#424 Ken Aspromonte 

1959 Topps (football)
#80 Joe Perry

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

1957 Topps
#212 Rocky Colavito (RC)
#235 Tom Poholsky
#249 Dave Pope
#371 Bob Lennon
#406 Bob Hale

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

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

1955 Bowman
#25 Minnie Minoso
#208 Ed Fitzgerald

1955 Topps
#45 Hank Sauer

1954 Bowman
#16 Jim Wilson
#73 Don Mueller

1954 Bowman Power For Peace (non-sport)
#91 USS Coral Sea (CVB43)

1952 Bowman
#57 Clyde Vollmer

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

1922 Church & Dwight Useful Birds Of America Third Series (J7) (non-sport) 
#7 Prothonotary Warbler

1915 Church & Dwight Useful Birds Of America First Series (J5)  (non-sport)
#1 Quail

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: 54
Unique trading partners: 32

Number of cards mailed out: 184
Year of oldest card mailed out: 1956

Number of cards received: 392
Year of oldest card received: 1915

Friday, April 10, 2020

Johnny #5, The Sequel!

When it comes to sequels, the general rule of thumb is that they are rarely as good as the originals. Take for instance, the forgettable sequel to Short Circuit:

Did you even know there was a sequel to this film?

Now, some sequels are every bit as good as the original. They give you something new to appreciate, yet at the same time there is that familiarity that you loved from the original.

Another month meant another 4 weekly rounds of Big Fun Games from Johnny's Trading Spot. I participated again (and if you haven't yet, you really should!), and yet again when my turn came up, I selected lucky #5. My haul this time was a 6-pack of All-Stars:

Favorite Card: It has to be that Studio card of Mr Winfield by the locker, right? Such a simple but amazingly executed card idea!

Thanks again, Johnny!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

TCDB Trade Recap: Cards From Base Card Hero

Today's trade is showing off some cards I received from Ryan over at the blog Base Card Hero. In exchange for some extra 2016 Topps I had, he helped me get a few cards closer to that wonderful 1981 set:

I'm down to just 59 more cards left in that set. The So Close! page has been updated!

Favorite Card: Steve Nicosia is the winner in my book. I love those old pillbox style hats, and that bright yellow uniform is just awesome.

Thanks for the cards, Ryan!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Repack Haiku #147 (Joaquin Benoit)

Longest save record
Pitched seven relief innings
Served up Papi's slam

2016 Topps #163 Joaquin Benoit

Not that I need a reason to, but Benoit was the unfortunate pitcher to serve up this memorable home run:

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The Tiger King

Sometimes keeping it simple is the best way to go. 

Usually when a Hall of Famer has passed, I try to honor his career with a Top 5 list of favorite cards in my collection. When reports of the great Al Kaline's death started making the rounds, I hopped onto the TCDB and searched what cards I had of him.

According to the TCDB, I have 3. One is a insert with Miguel Cabrerra, and another is one of those Score magic motion history cards. That leaves me one card that focuses solely on Mr. Kaline.

For being the only Kaline card in my collection, it seems appropriate with the clouds in the background.

There are better tributes out there, personal stories and tales of his greatness both on and off the field. I've got none of those. I'm just a fan who knows we lost an all-time great and wanted to pay his respects.

Sometimes keeping it simple is the best way to go.

Rest in peace, Mr. Kaline.

Monday, April 6, 2020

The Generousity Of Too Many Verlanders

I like to think I have a good grasp of what cards are coming my way in the mail. I don't do a lot of trading at one time, so it's easy to manage what I've sent out and what I've received. When I get a unexpected mailing, it's definitely a surprise, and always a pleasant one. It's an even bigger surprise when it's from someone I've never traded with before.

Dennis, from the blog Too Many Verlanders, sent me a random gift of Red Sox recently. Outside of being a regular reader of his blog, we've never had any dealings with each other. The fact he took the time and effort to send me such a thoughtful package of cards was heart-warming and put a big smile on my face.

It's hard to pick a favorite here! 3 relics and 2 of the most popular pitchers in recent Boston history! They're all great!

Thanks a bunch, Dennis! Someday we'll conduct a proper trade and I'll get an opportunity to repay your kindness!

Friday, April 3, 2020

First Impressions: 2020 Gypsy Queen

I managed to grab one more pack before Virginia's governor issued a stay-at-home order, so lets see if this year's edition of Gypsy Queen offers any joy to this essential employee...

#239 Nick Senzel

Young Reds outfielder Nick Senzel has the honor of being the first card. Overall, I like the design, better than last year at least. One problem I do have with it is the choice to use the player's first name initial followed by the position. The spacing is a little too close for my taste. As you'll see later, this will offer up some interesting card visuals.

#79 Jack Flaherty
#253 Rowdy Tellez
#FTM-11 Vladimir Guerrero Jr (Fortune Teller insert)

I've never been a fan of minis, but this one isn't too shabby. Ignoring my lousy photographing skills, Vlad Jr seems to "pop" from the orange border. If this was a full sized card, that little bit of white space almost lends itself as an ideal spot for a autograph.

#268 Mauricio Dubon (RC)
#12 Max Kepler
#232 Aaron Civale (RC)
#292 Manny Machado
#45 Didi Gregorious

Didi's bat-flip is probably the best action shot among the cards in this pack. I'm glad he's no longer a Yankee, and think the Phillies will appreciate having him around whenever baseball resumes.

#TOD-7 Walker Buehler (Tarot Of The Diamond insert)

Am I the only one getting a little bored with the Tarot card inserts? I think they've run their course and it's time for Gypsy Queen to come up with something new.

#101 Sean Murphy (RC)
#285 Stephen Strasburg
#207 Paul DeJong
#5 Dom Nunez (RC)
#54 Jeff McNeil

Here's our look at the backs. Standard GQ back - good content, but too much wasted space.

#236 Derek Dietrich
#168 Jake Fraley (RC)
#208 Adalberto Mondesi

Yes, there's a period and a space separating the initial and the position, but tell me the word ASS doesn't jump out at you when you look at this card.

The 3-pack of Gypsy Queen comes with bonus green parallels of the cards. Dark green is a good color for a parallel.

Green Parallels:
#168 Jake Fraley (RC)
#208 Adalberto Mondesi
#163 Patrick Corbin

I'll never be able to look at this card again and not think his name is Pee Pee Corbin.

#220 James Marvel (RC)
#2 J.T. Realmuto

Overall, not a bad set. With Gypsy Queen you pretty much know what to expect.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

That Was Awesome!

Even now, the day after, I'm in awe. I never thought my April Fools "prank" would work as well as it did! To everyone who participated, a huge thank you!

By my count, 26 bloggers participated (including myself). I only had contact with 21 other writers, so seeing other blogs jump in was nothing short of phenomenal! The posts were amazing - running from true anecdotes to pranks-within-the-prank. I think we all learned a lot more about Mr. Niekro than we ever thought possible. Again, if I missed any, please let me know!

I had 3 real goals with this. First, I wanted to see my blog rolls filled with 1988 Score Phil Niekros. As Chris from The Collector can attest, that was a success:

I was also hoping to hear about an unsuspecting reader and their realization about what was unfolding. I got my validation late last night with this comment:

Lastly, and most importantly, I wanted to spread some smiles and good humor during these trying times. I would like to believe we accomplished that to great success too. We're a community of bloggers, and most of us haven't met in real life. We're a textbook case for social distancing. Stuff like this brings us closer as a group, and despite the lack of communication outside of the card collecting scene, I consider each of you as friends. You're all amazing, and I'm grateful for you.

So again, a sincere and heart felt thank you to all who were involved. I couldn't have done it without you! (Oh, and just a warning, I already have an idea percolating for next year!)

***** New Blog Alert!*****

It's always good to have new stuff to read, so go check out Card Hemorrhage!