Monday, March 31, 2014

Play ball! (2014)

I wanted to post this when the Dodgers started in Australia. With the spastic way MLB begins the season these days, what is Opening Day but when your team starts?

But, hell no, March 22 is no Opening Day. It's also way too busy of a time for me to post a bunch of cards.

So, then I thought I could have this up by Sunday, when the Dodgers played AGAIN, but at least they were in the U.S. and at least it was sort of close to April. But I didn't want to acknowledge ESPN's attention-getting MLB exclusive and also, HOT BOX!

So, here I am, posting this now. The Dodgers have played three times, the Diamondbacks twice, the Padres once, Bryce Harper's already been kicked in the head, Ryan Braun cheered for no apparent reason, relievers blowing leads like it's the postseason, and you've been overwhelmed by 6,243 different Opening Day stats.

And, yet the Yankees and Astros won't celebrate Opening Day until tomorrow.

(*throws up hands*)

Screw it, you'll get this now.

It's a tradition, even if I don't know when Opening Day is anymore:


The last time the RED SOX won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the GIANTS won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the CARDINALS won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the YANKEES won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the PHILLIES won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the WHITE SOX won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the MARLINS won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the ANGELS won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the DIAMONDBACKS won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the BRAVES won the World Series, cards looked like this:



The last time the BLUE JAYS won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the TWINS won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the REDS won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the A'S won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the DODGERS won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the METS won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the ROYALS won the World Series, cards looked like this:



The last time the TIGERS won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the ORIOLES won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the PIRATES won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the INDIANS won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the CUBS won the World Series, cards looked like this:




The last time the ASTROS, BREWERS, MARINERS, NATIONALS, PADRES, RANGERS, RAYS, ROCKIES won the World Series, cards looked like this:



But no worries! Everyone is at 0-0!

Or 1-0 ... or 0-1.

Or ... uh, 2-1 ... or 0-2.

Heh.

I guess in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter.

Because BASEBALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For the next seven months.

Enjoy.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Good things come to those who whine, part 1


They exist.

Yup, what you're seeing here is a 2014 Topps Heritage blaster. In other words, I've gone full bore from being one of the last poor saps to find any Heritage at all to being one of the first to spot ... or at least show ... a Heritage blaster on the blogs.

Nothing but 360 miles an hour around here.

I knew this would happen. I knew the minute that I wrote a whinefest about Topps' distribution techniques that one of its elves would drop something wonderful in front of me and whisper "See? We're not so bad."

Blasted evil elves.

Yesterday, I needed to get wiper blades in anticipation of the spring season (little did I know that we'd get eight inches of snow 12 hours later -- blasters, snow, life is full of surprises). That was a perfect opportunity to travel north of town and see what the Walmart there featured in the card aisle.

This Walmart has the smallest card section of any big box store near me. It's about a quarter of the size of the other stores. But it didn't take long for me to look down on the shelf and see one 2014 Topps Heritage blaster sitting right up front.

It was the only one on the shelf. Above it were some Heritage rack packs. It looked like they had just been place there mere minutes before. I could imagine the stock person putting those rack packs on the hooks, then placing the solitary blaster in front of the other blasters and saying, "there, that will do."

I ignored the rack packs, grabbed the blaster, went and found my wiper blades and headed home.

And after opening the packs, I'm more convinced than ever that elves dropped that blaster there.

That is what's known as "hot box foreshadowing."



Commence opening:

PACK 1



#85 - Alex Rios, Rangers

Since these cards have been shown on 143 blogs already, I'm going to dispense with basic descriptions on how it's a faithful recreation of the 1965 Topps set. But I will tell you that Topps is also faithful to the '65 script when it comes to hatless ballplayers.

The '65 set features more than 80 cards with hatless players (I know, I looked). But what 2014 Heritage has that '65 doesn't -- except for Warren Spahn -- is bald players. As Mariska Hargitay said on Seinfeld, "it's like a bald convention" in this year's Heritage. And Rios is officially bald card No. 1.



#170 - Justin Upton, Braves

Let's look at the back:



An excellent opportunity to show a cartoon player on fire squandered.



#307 - Jonathan Villar, Astros

If someone has addressed this already, I apologize, but I can't believe Topps botched this consider how well it does in Heritage.

Topps didn't start referring to the Astros as "Houston" until the 1968 Topps set. It was "Astros" all the way in 1965.

See?




No logo, but the "Astros" is plain as day. I have no idea why 2014 Heritage refers to the Astros as simply "Houston." I sure hope we're not playing "crack the code" in Heritage.


#417 - Bud Norris, Orioles



#473 - Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers

Weeeeeeeee! One of the Dodger short-prints out of the way!

I was very giddy when I saw this card, so giddy that I didn't notice that Heritage is still doing that weird thing where they artificially darken the players eyes and eyebrows so that they look like they're wearing makeup. It's very odd.



#260-THC - Zack Greinke, Dodgers, purple refractor

Double weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

From the Heritage cards I've seen, this is my favorite one and to get it in purple refractor form is totally cool. The price of the blaster was worth it from the first pack.

But wait, there's more.



NAP-JF - Jose Fernandez, Marlins, New Age Performers

Not the "more" I was talking about, but you have to show the first insert, right?

#343 - Russell Martin, Pirates
#35 - Ryan Vogelsong, Giants


PACK 2



#300 - Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

My man. My DL'ed man.

It remains to be seen whether Kershaw's first DL trip is a result of being Australiafied by Major League Baseball, but I'm watching. And MLB is on notice that I can stop paying attention to them in an instant if its world domination shenanigans get out of hand.

#254 - Charlie Morton, Pirates



#207 - David Murphy, Indians

The Indians Heritage cards to me look like the players are competing for the "Cindians," which is either a very naughty baseball team or some sort of corporate marriage between the Indians and Cinnabon ... "Now with more cinnamon!"

#45 - Brett Wallace, Astros ... er, Houston



#467-THC - Ryan Braun, Brewers, purple refractor

Ugh ... I mean, "HOT BOX!"

Sorry, I shouldn't look a gift elf in the mouth but Braun has the worst cards. And he's the worst person. Just everything. The worst. I've got to trade this thing.

But, yeah, this is when I knew this was a hot box. Although the packs seemed suspiciously beefy from the start.



#118 - Justin Ruggiano, Cubs

I'm just going to leave that card there without comment. We'll come back to it.



#330 - CC Sabathia, Yankees

I am a giant, you puny man.

#396 - Everth Cabera, Padres
#294 - David Robertson, Yankees


PACK 3


#82 - Christian Bethancourt, David Hale, Braves Rookie Stars



#358 - Vernon Wells, Yankees

Baldy No. 2.



#21 - Jon Jay, Cardinals

Baldy No. 3



#490-THC - Matt Harvey, Mets, chrome, 941/999

This high-numbered refractor already has a destination in mind. Harvey to me looks like the next Roger Clemens, with all the good and the bad that that image entails.



#494-THC - Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies

Crap. I just sealed up a package for hiflew. Guess I have to unseal it.

#392 - Travis Wood, Cubs
#165 - Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks. Booooooooo!!!!



#137 - Anthony Gose, Blue Jays

Might be because I'm old, but that's not a good look with the cap there.

#246 - Jeremy Guthrie, Royals


PACK 4

#203 - Leonys Martin, Rangers
#243 - Billy Hamilton, Reds/Nick Castellanos, Tigers, Rookie Stars



#445 - Pablo Sandoval, Giants

Nice work by Topps photoshopping Fat Bastard into the set.



#491-THC - Yadier Molina, Cardinals, refractor, 512/565

I owe some Cardinals fans. This will come in handy.



#479-THC - Hunter Pence, Giants, purple refractor

This will also come in handy.

If someone with a lot of knowledge, like -- I don't know, let's say, God -- told you that there was one player in major league baseball who wasn't human, but was actually a space alien, who would you guess? I'd say "Hunter Pence" without hesitating.



NF-AL - Aleksei Leonov, first to walk in space, News Flashbacks

That's really Hunter in there.

#327 - D.J. LeMahieu, Rockies
#401 - Jose Lobaton, Rays
#421 - Kevin Pillar, Ryan Goins, Blue Jays Rookie Stars


PACK 5



#250 - Mike Trout, Angels

The best player in baseball, according to people who know the most about baseball. Or at least the people who like to argue the most about baseball.

#65 - Garrett Richards, Angels
#212 - Steve Cishek, Marlins
#56 - Alexi Ogando, Rangers



#118 - Justin Ruggiano, Cubs

OK, there he is again.

Let's turn the card over:



That's a black back. It's a one-in-444 packs pull.

Here is the regular back for comparison:



The black backs on ebay are going for prices from half a blaster to insanity. Makes me want to start selling.




#453-THC - Ian Desmond, Nationals, purple refractor

Oh, I wish I knew a Nationals fan.



#8 - National League ERA Leaders

This card is a tribute to this card:



Throwing a Marlin on the card doesn't have quite the same effect. I kind of wish Topps skipped to fourth place and put Greinke on with Kershaw, but rules are rules I guess.



#57 - Ryne Sandberg, Phillies



#238 - Josh Beckett, Dodgers

Boo, studio shots. I'd rather Topps skipped a Beckett card this year.


PACK 6

#249 - Martin Prado, Diamondbacks
#304 - Marco Estrada, Brewers
#235 - Kevin Gregg, Cubs
#160 - Andrew McCutchen, Pirates



#491-THC - Yadier Molina, Cardinals, purple refractor

Did I mention I owe some Cardinals fans? Yadier's getting split up.

#6 - National League RBI leaders (Goldschmidt, Bruce, Freeman)



#351 - Adam LaRoche, Nationals

This card amuses me endlessly. I wonder what LaRoche thinks of it?

#357 - Lonnie Chisenhall, Cinnabondians
#124 - Aramis Ramirez, Brewers


PACK 7

#151 - Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks
#46 - Stephen Drew, Red Sox
#292 - Jim Henderson, Brewers
#434 - Pedro Alvarez, Pirates (I'm supposed to be sending short-prints to Troll, I'll have to see if he has this)



#160 - Andrew McCutchen, Pirates, Walmart blue parallel

The only other guy I know to have opened a Heritage blaster also pulled this card.




#469-THC - Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals, purple refractor

Naaaationnaaaaalllss fan! Where aaaarre youuuuuu?

#193 - Ian Kennedy, Padres (overwhelming desire to rip up this card)
#67 - Nick Franklin, Mariners
#206 - John Lackey, Red Sox


PACK 8

#116 - Kolten Wong, Audry Perez, Cardinals Rookie Stars
#178 - Jose Quintana, White Sox
#2 - National League Batting Leaders (Cuddyer, C. Johnson, Freeman)



#435-THC - Andrelton Simmons, purple refractor

Come an' git it billion Braves fans.



BF-JP - Jim Palmer, Orioles, Baseball Flashbacks

#279 - Evan Gattis, Braves
#201 - Josmil Pinto, Twins; Zach Rosscup, Cubs, Rookie Stars



#70 - Paul Konerko, White Sox

The pinstripes are barely there for whatever reason.

#264 - Fernando Rodney, Rays


And that's the end of the hot box.

I think that's just the second or third hot box I've ever opened. And it came in handy because I had no idea what I was going to write about Heritage after it had been covered to death already.

I guess it pays to whine sometimes.

The elves listen.


(P.S.: Just noticing that every notable card and all the leaders cards are all connected to the National League -- even the two rookie trophies, Henderson and Gattis, are NL).