Friday, June 23, 2017

Where are they now? Cards from 3 months ago


I received two packs of 2017 Heritage from my daughter for Father's Day. I kind of dropped a hint that we don't need no stinkin' flagship in the house no more and she wisely selected Heritage.

The packs were underwhelming. Let's face it, Heritage isn't going to be interesting again until 2020. If I was collecting the set, they would have been pretty good packs. I pulled just four doubles.

But what I noticed the most from these two packs is how many players were no longer with the teams shown.

Out of the 18 cards in the two packs, eight players aren't playing for the team Heritage said they were playing for three months ago.

It's a tricky situation selecting teams for players, and I get the feeling it's getting trickier all the time. Somebody needs to measure the rate of transactions over the years and see exactly how much it's increased.

Here are the players out of those packs that aren't playing for the team shown:


Jhonny Peralta. Designated for assignment for the Cardinals. Just signed to a minor league deal by the Red Sox today.



Jeanmar Gomez. Just DFA'd this week by the awful, awful Phillies.



Jorge Soler. Sent down to Triple A Omaha by the Royals on June 3 after batting .164.



Leonys Martin. Has been playing for Triple A Tacoma this season.



Andre Ethier. His season that was pushed back to after the All-Star break has now been pushed back to September.


Edwin Jackson. Has been with two teams since the Padres. Pitched in the minors for the Orioles, was just signed by the Nationals on a minor league deal.

I didn't scan the doubles out of the packs, but neither Trayce Thompson (Dodgers) or Garrett Richards (Angels) are playing for their Heritage teams.

Here are the guys that are still playing with their Heritage teams (also includes doubles Jason Castro and Brandon Crawford):


Even some of these guys are tentative. Musgrove has been DL'd and hasn't pitched great. It's only a matter of time before Ricky Nolasco disappears from the Angels starting staff.

Charlie Blackmon, of course, is the lone SP in the group because all of the superstars are stashed in the SPs these days, which is probably the big reason why Heritage packs are filled with so many iffy dudes.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Exciting, boring and overwhelming


The 2017 card season has been pretty uninspired. I'm not someone who needs a lot of bells and whistles, all I ask for is a nice design and a little creativity and thought. I haven't seen much of that so far this year.

With Topps Series 2 out now, I haven't bothered to check whether it's at any local big box store. I have no interest in adding more of the 2017 flagship design to my collection.

So, I was thrilled to find out that Peter of Baseball Every Night was holding a team break of Series 2. What a great way to get the Dodgers that I need without having to spend my cash on Marlins and Brewers and A's on that half-finished design they're throwing at us this year!

I was able to land 18 Dodgers from Series 2 in this break. I nabbed every base card except for two of them, the Kenta Maeda card, and, of course, the only Dodger card from this series that anyone is talking about, the team card that shows a collective salute to Vin Scully.

But with everything else landed, I can't complain too much. Let's see them quickly:


I'll start with six vertical cards of players who are contributing to the team right now in various stages. How about another four home runs against the Mets tonight, each with a home run trot slower the last?



Here are the vertical cards. Lots of DL guys here. Also, I am more aware that I'm looking at only three-fourths of a card when I view the vertical ones.



Parallels. Pederson keeps his eye on the ball while dodging flying golden shards.




Two kinds of inserts: Moments and Milestones. Or, "what was a card set in 2008, Alex?"

The Memorable Moments set seems very random, as in "what player's photo do we have a license for" random. I don't know enough about the Milestones to think the same thing.

So, that's what arrived my way from the break.

I do feel pretty good about wiping that many Dodgers off my list so quickly.

But you know how modern collecting goes. Without even including the variation cards and the relics, this is what's left for a Dodger fan collecting Series 2:

Base

597 - Maeda, 608 - team card

Inserts

Topps Salute: 133-Toles, 148-Ladorda, 150-Kershaw, 173-Snider, 180-Seager

Memorable Moments: 25-Robinson, 33-Robinson, 39-Valenzuela

Major League Milestones: 6-Seager

1987s: 103-Seager, 120-Kershaw, 135-Koufax, 149-Toles, 168-Piazza, 191-Valenzuela

All-Time All-Stars: 23-Piazza, 27-Kershaw

All-Star MVPs: Piazza

First Pitch: 26-Duhamel, 27-Crawford

Independence Day: 6-Seager, 16-Urias

Isn't that obnoxious?

The flagship set may not be all that inspiring but I think the thing that actually will kill my urge to team collect eventually is the sheer number of inserts.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I am Mr. Lucky 13

You may have noticed that the "Big Fun Game," is all the rage on the blogs. When one game ends, another seems to begin almost immediately.

As usual, I can barely keep up, so I enter what I can and hope for the best. If you're stashing secret BFG contests at the end of a post about the Minnesota Twins manager, I'm probably going to miss it.

Out of the string of the four recent Big Fun Games, I've been a part of two. That's just the right speed for me. The BFGs take a fair amount of attention and the BFG needs to learn that it has to get in line behind last-minute work bombshells, dog puke and the overwhelming desire for sleep, just to name a few.

Still, I entered another one recently because I landed a Carl Yastrzemski rookie in the last one. I may be overworked, but I refuse to totally ignore the words "big" and "fun".

This one was called the "The Lucky 13," organized by Stealing Home at All Trade Bait All The Time. I was particularly interested in this because I knew there would be some Dodger goodies involved.

Considering my already sizable Dodger collection, I think I walked away with the nicest prize for my needs. It didn't hurt that I was again placed near the end of the selection process. In fact, I was the 13th and final selector for the contest. Lucky 13, indeed!

I was able to steal a lot of autos and relics, with a decidedly Dodger theme.

I'm going to rank my prize in terms of tiers. Like fancy card brands do.


BRONZE TIER




The top card is a manupatch of an Atlanta Brave in a high school uniform. We are not amused. The second card is one of my least favorite relic looks. I have a couple Dodgers from this set and could they make the bat relic tinier? It's a proper comment on Padres hitting, but otherwise, yick. The third card is a double. Autograph doubles nearly break my brain. I've been raised to think they are so exclusive.

Don't worry, the items are getting better.


SILVER TIER




The top card is signed by Armando Galarraga, remember him? He was the pitcher who threw a perfect game but didn't, thanks to a bad call at first base. (That happened seven years ago, by the way. SEVEN YEARS AGO!). I like that I have a signed card of him. The second card is Robin Ventura's half-hearted attempt at his autograph. I think players give up when they see the card is made of material that hates pens. The third card is of Mr. Smiley Angel Pagan. I can accept this card because Pagan is still a Met here (and I like the look of the card). But there's not a day that goes by in which I don't laugh that Angel Pagan is now a part of a last place team.


GOLD TIER




Welcome to my first autographed card from Jeff Shaw. Shaw's signature is another one of those ones that looks like his pen exploded, but I'm happy to add him to the collection. The Jeff Kent relic means I've far exceeded the proper allotment of Jeff Kent relics (which, let's be honest, is about 1.5). The Kyle Russell certo is also my first Kyle Russell autograph. Russell was supposed to do good things for the Dodgers, but he never figured out Triple A (or even really Double A). Still, I like the card.


PLATINUM TIER




Three very fine specimens. I honestly would have stolen something else if these three weren't involved. The Dreifort is my first autographed card of the former pitching phenom. This is long overdue. I do own my share of Chad Billingsley autos, but this one is a looker, nicely designed despite the sticker. And the GQ Dee Gordon relic announces its presence from miles away thanks to the blue relic dot at the bottom. I couldn't take my eyes off of that thing.

And that's why I feel so lucky to have participated in the Lucky 13 contest. I will probably distribute some of these items to others who want them more, but a good amount of the cards will stay in my collection forever.

Oscar added one more item to the package.


It's one of those stadium periodicals that I love so much. Since I live so far away from Dodger Stadium, this will give me as much of a taste of that beautiful blue oasis better than anything.

And if you add this to the number of cards I received, it adds up to 13 items in the package.

Lucky!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Blog bat around: Why I collect these guys


I am not a player collector.

I do not own a binder, box, shelf, room, shrine or dungeon dedicated to the cards of a single player. There is an element of player-collecting that still weirds me out and that's one of the reasons I don't do it.

I also don't do it because I enjoy focusing on sets and my favorite team a lot more. Individuals are fallible. "Things" don't let you down (unless that "thing" is the Mets).

But it's true that there are certain players that I admire more than others and that I keep a running tally of how many cards I own for each of those players. It's listed on the "Dodgers I Collect" page. It's the only place where you will see these individuals separated from the other cards I own.

This page is what is allowing me to participate in the latest Blog Bat Around, which originates from the
Eamus Catuli blog. P-town Tom would like to know how my player collection(s) came about -- you know -- if I were to have player collections.

So let's take a look at them in an order of my choosing:


1. Clayton Kershaw

Number of original Kershaw cards: 514.

How did it come about: I've known that Kershaw was going to be a special pitcher for at least 10 years. I've never been the type to get in on the ground floor of a prospect, but I decided the time was right with Kershaw. I think I chose wisely. Not only was I able to obtain many early Kershaw cards that people are scrambling to buy for high prices right now, but he has been everything that we Dodger fans hoped for back in 2008. I like the Dodgers' tradition of pitching quite a bit and I'm happy that Kershaw has basically taken that tradition to a new level.

Most unusual Kershaw item in my collection:


Unfortunately, Kershaw emerged during this current period of hyper-licensing. No one can make anything of a baseball player or a baseball team without it being licensed by someone. That puts a real damper on creativity, variety and just plain oddness. This is the best I can come up with: a signed card of Kershaw on, not the national team mind you, but the junior national team. Look at wittle Kershy there in red, white and blue.




2. Hideo Nomo

Number of original Nomo cards: 475

How did it come about: I've speculated plenty of times on this blog that Hideo Nomo owns the best-looking cards, the most interesting cards of anyone to ever play the game. After all, they were interesting enough that they prompted me -- a traditional set collector -- to try to accumulate cards specific to Nomo. He is a pioneering player and his mark in history will never be erased. Those are good enough reasons for a player collection.

Most unusual Nomo item in my collection:


If I had some more time I might be able to find something more interesting. I like this little figurine mostly because I can remove his cap. But I think I wasn't able to find anything more odd because many of Nomo's cards are so "out there" that there was no need to create anything else.



3. Orel Hershiser

Number of original Hershiser cards: 277

How did it come about: You had to be there in the mid-to-late 1980s. Orel Hershiser was the most unlikely dominant pitcher since Kent Tekulve. It was such a thrill for the Dodgers to own a pitcher who was so dominant for a period, one who led my team to a World Series title, that I couldn't help but be a fan. Hershiser remains one of my favorite players of all-time.

Most unusual Hershiser item in my collection:

There are a bunch.


This.


This.


This.



But the one that blows everything else away is my 8-by-10 photo, signed by Hershiser and addressed to "Night Owl". I received this in the early days of the blog after Zach of Autographed Cards coerced Hershiser to sign the photo as you see it. Of course, now, Hershiser knows who Night Owl is. But at the time he just had to go on faith.




4. Sandy Koufax

Number of original Koufax cards: 159

How did it come about: Koufax and Jackie Robinson are the holy grail for Dodgers collectors. And I came across Sandy Koufax when I was in fourth grade, reading a book about him during "quiet time". I've always been a fan even though I never saw him pitch. Collecting his cards was a mission long before I could afford any of them.

Most unusual Koufax item in my collection:

I'm sure there are some great Koufax finds from the past, but I'm not willing to delve into that expensive world. Save for some Koufax oddball cards, I don't own much that is considered all that different. So I'll go with this:


I own not one, but two, 1966 Dodgers yearbooks. It's a landmark yearbook that commemorates the Dodgers' 1965 World Series championship.

All of the members of the 1965 team are included within with glorious black and white photos mixed among 1960s ads and fashions.

But there is one obvious favorite page in the entire yearbook. And now I have it in duplicate:


It's the Sandy Koufax page.



That is fantastic.



5. Ron Cey

Number of original Ron Cey cards: 121

How did it come about: Ron Cey was my favorite player when I was a kid, probably brought about by owning his 1974 and 1975 Topps cards and then the Dodgers making the World Series in 1977, 1978 and 1981. I was able to watch Cey play more often than if I was a fan of, say, the Texas Rangers during that time. The Dodgers actually appeared on TV periodically all the way on the East Coast and I was able to see Cey's game for myself! I liked his power. I liked his look. I liked his second-banana status. He remains my favorite player and will be forever. I may have the fewest cards of his than the other four on the list, but that's only because misguided card companies have yet to discover what I found so interesting about Cey as a 10-year-old. Get with it card companies!

Most unusual Cey item in my collection:

Cey played in the '70s, so I have lots of unusual items. Just the other day, mr haverkamp sent me an email asking if I had ever spotted the following Cey item. It's some sort of storage box for cards that Topps was selling off of its wax wrappers and Cey is on the box! I admit, I've never seen it before. I don't plan to pay $19.95 to add it to my collection, only because I have other great unusual items of The Penguin.


Such as the 45 record of Ron Cey's 1976 hit song, "Third Base Bag" (with the flip-side single, "One Game at a Time"). Tell me how many of you player collectors have a player with his own 45?


But as cool as this item is, it can't match the most unusual Cey artifact.



Nothing will ever match the Ron Cey-signed penguin lamp created by the band Fleetwood Mac to honor The Penguin.

Yeah, when I look at this particular item, it will be difficult to explain to anyone that I am not a player collector.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Dad's favorite player


My dad's favorite player is Ted Williams. It seems odd to write that sentence in the present tense. Williams stopped playing 57 years ago and, um, except for his head, is no longer with us. My dad is in his 80s and rarely talks about baseball in terms of being a fan.

But I know he still has memories of Williams in action and remembers them fondly even if he never speaks of them. One of his favorite baseball books is David Halberstam's "The Teammates," which came out about 15 years ago and chronicles the relationship between Williams, Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky during Williams' final days. My dad reads a lot, but not many baseball books, so that's how much he still likes Williams. (I have the book, but I have yet to read it).

Williams was known as "The Splendid Splinter," mostly, but also "The Kid," and "Teddy Ballgame". My dad, however, is fond of calling him by one of his lesser-mentioned nicknames, "The Thumper". When my dad says it, his eyes squint as if he's demonstrating the damage Williams would wreak on a pitcher.

My dad had some baseball cards when he was a kid. He's one of the few cases that I've heard first-hand of his mother throwing out his cards. My grandmother did indeed do that. I've tried to figure out exactly what cards he had, since my dad doesn't remember. My dad's prime collecting years were wiped out by World War II. There were very few cards made during the period when my dad was 8, 9, 10 years old, and certainly nothing that would reach a tiny town in Upstate New York.

So I'm thinking that my dad might have collected late 1940s cards. Is it possible that my dad owned a 1948 Leaf Ted Williams? It's entirely possible. (It's also possible he may have owned a 1939 or 1940 Play Ball Williams, which would be crazy, although he may have been too young to have cards then).

I don't have any cards of Williams during his playing days. One day I hope to own Williams' 1956 Topps card.

But on the occasion of Father's Day, I decided to add a playing days Williams to my next online order. It's from the 1959 Fleer Ted Williams set. Most of those are easily affordable and it will fit nicely with my other latter day Williams cards.

And speaking of those later cards, how about a look at 10 of my favorites? My dad might not have much interest in talking about Williams trading cards, but I do.

So here are 10 of my favorites. No manager cards though. I'm staying with playing-days Williams, just as my dad remembers it.


10. 1982 TCMA Baseball's Greatest Hitters: These perforated cards printed white index-card stock aren't the sturdiest cards (and mine features black smudges), but I appreciate the color photos and I like anything retro. TCMA was a pioneer of retro.



9. 1993 Ted Williams Company: How cool is it to have your name as part of a baseball trading card company? That alone gets this card on the list.



8. 2016 Topps Bunt: The spare look of Bunt works well with this card. Williams played a long, long, long, long time ago. That's what this card says to me.



7. 2008 Stadium Club: At card No. 99, Williams was one of those pain-in-the-butt, divisible by three Stadium Club cards that year. So I treasure this card for that reason alone. Even though the photo is colorized, it's nice to get an eyeful of Williams' red No. 9.



6. 1983 Donruss Hall of Fame Heroes: A Dick Perez special. Maybe not the greatest likeness of "Ted the Thumper" but a lot better than I could do. It's nice to have an illustrated card of Williams in my collection.



5. 1993 Ted Williams Company, Goin' North subset: What a fun card. This shows a very young Williams in a Minneapolis Millers uniform. The back is almost as fun as the front as it recounts how Williams' mom would walk through the stands collecting money for the Salvation Army when Williams was playing in San Diego, and also documents that Williams smashed a water cooler in Minneapolis, barely avoiding severing a nerve in his hand.


4. 2015 Topps Highlights insert: Williams is featured more than once in this insert set, but this one comes out the best and recalls Williams' first Triple Crown.



3. 2007 Topps Distinguished Service insert: There's no doubt in my mind that Williams would be the greatest player who ever lived if he didn't miss so many years while serving his country in World War II and the Korean War. Also, my dad was in the Air Force, so that's all I need to appreciate this card.


2. 1992 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes: You have to have a card recognizing the last time someone hit over .400! I like this card because -- yes, Williams was cranky, loud, profane -- Williams could be fun. This card says fun to me.


1. 1976 Topps All-Time All-Stars subset: When I was trying to complete the 1976 set in the first few years of this blog, this card was a toughie. And this card is different from the others in the subset. It's the only card that features the player up close.

I remember collecting these cards back in '76. Many of the names were unfamiliar. But Williams we knew. We would turn the cards over to the back and stare dumbfounded at the statistics. They seemed to come from another planet.


Batting .400? Look at all those RBIs! Look at all those runs! Keep in mind, this was the '70s and offense wasn't as over the top as it is today. These numbers were astounding.

I'm hoping that I'll live as long as my dad has. And I'm also hoping that I'll be willing to talk about baseball cards and favorite players to anyone who wants to hear about it.

But I'm happy I know who my dad's favorite player is. That's not something that a lot of sons know.