Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My First 3rd

I have never really understood the Jr. or III convention of naming children. How confusing must it have been at the Smalley house when "Roy" was called, and three generations of Smalley men turn around. By god, it's like shouting "Mom" at the grocery store.

Was the Smalley family of so little imagination that they had to use the same name time and time again.

Here and now I vow to never sire a Tim Graham Jr. Although, a wicked side of me could see skipping the Jr. and going straight to the third for my son. In some kind of manufactured nobility play, I would propel my son up the WASP ranks.

We'll see what the wife thinks of my plan. Could have some issues with it.

III here had quite a year during this cards release. The Twins win the Series, his second trip back to Minnesota finally yielded a ring in his second to last year in the Bigs.

III was an All-Star shortstop in 1979, having lit up the first half of the season with a .341 batting average.

Jr., III's father, was a shortstop in the Bigs as well.

Well you know how the saying goes:

Like Jr. like III.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Where's The Wood?

Putting away some of my 2012 Topps base cards I came across another card that made me beg the question: "Where's the wood?"

The card below is from 1987 Topps, a 25th anniversary reprise of the 1962 design. There was some speculation before this years Topps base design was spoiled, where it was thought that this year may have wood borders as well. Alas, nothing for the 50th anniversary.

This card is from one of the sets released during my first brief stint collecting baseball cards as a kid. Not only is it a sharp design (perhaps my favorite use of a team logo), it carries so much nostalgia I can't help but like it.

Dickie Ray Noles may best be known for brushing George Brett off of the plate in Game 4 of the 1980 World Series. This moment is identified as the turning point for the Phillies who had struggled against the Royals up 'til then.

The year this card was issued Dickie gained the dubious distinction of being traded for himself. He was dealt from the Cubs to the Detroit Tigers for a player to be named later. After four games as a Tiger, when the teams were unable to agree on the "player to be named later" Dickie was sent back to the cubs on October 24th, 1987. I'd call that an even trade!!!

Having returned to baseball cards only recently, I don't have that large of a collection of cards older than 2 years. I have bought some 30 dollar random boxes on ebay, and enjoy being exposed to different sets through that. I'm pretty sure that's where Dickie came from.

Here's where the design came from, the 25th anniversary homage:

Through the Topps online redemption last year, I managed to score two cards from the 1962 set. They are both in this glorious condition, however, I don't really care. To me they are still cool, and the oldest cards I have.

Does Jim's hat look strange to you? I think it is airbrushed, as he began the 1962 season playing for the Mets then was traded to the Pirates for the last 55 games of his major league career. Who knows which teams logo was to be on that hat? An M, or a P? The world may never know.

Jim's cool tale doesn't end there though. For after the 1962 season he played two years in the Japanese baseball league. That had to be crazy in the 60's?!? He is currently the Arizona Diamondbacks director of Pacific Rim operations. He probably has pretty good insight into the baseball culture in Asia, after being involved with it for 48 years. Perhaps he brought Takashi Saito, a little used reliever, to the team.

There it is. I look forward to sprinkling more of the '62's into my collection, and learning about players from quite a bit before my time.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cards of Randomness #3

This guys name was the "Cobra", given to him during his rookie year for the way his bat struck. Wish I had a nickname like that.

Coolest fact about him is that he was the first ever National League DH used in a World Series in 1976. Other than that he played 18 years, starting as a member of the "Big Red Machine" with the last three being a "cup-of-coffee" with very limited playing time for the Expos. He is honored with being a member of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. The card is also cool because of the number at the end of the bat. His Jersey number until the last year of his career.

Cards of Randomness #2

This guy had a career spanning 18 years (although admittedly his last year in 1988 he only had one at bat for the Yankee's and struck out). Not too shabby. Elected to the All-Star game one time in 1976, arguably his finest year. That same year he hit a homerun in the ALCS series to send the Yankees to the Championships.

Never mind the blurry photo Fleer chose to use, apparently they were afraid of his 'stashe.

And now, like all great 80's cards he is a hitting coach. Although, Lee has found himself back in the Big's.

Some things change. The 'stache stays the same.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cards of Randomness #1

I have decided that this will be the most prolific of my themes on this site for awhile. As I catalog the random piles of cards that I get, I will do a little research into them, and share the anecdotes of players that may have been forgotten.

Two cards from 1982 Donruss:

My bad . . . I didn't know who Bobby Murcer was. What a career, not only was his bat amazing, near the end of his career he became a valuable PH, but his defense was stellar as well. In 1974 he led all major league outfielders with 21 runner's thrown out. He then went on to become, for almost two decades, a broadcaster for the Yankee's. Too further the cool factor, and I will definitely be on the look out for more cards of Mr. Murcer, he recorded two country-western tunes ("Skoal Dippin' Man" and "Bad Whiskey").

Now I think that is a good start to the "Cards of Randomness". Let's see what the next holds.

Lee Andrew May

Lee did not have nearly the career that Bobby did above. However, he was pretty bad-ass in his own right. He was a very consistent slugger, averaging 95 RBI's from 1967-1977. He settled into a DH role at the end of his career with first the Oriole's and then Royal's. His son is the hitting coach for the Indian's AAA affiliate.

Bobby wins.

It isn't a contest. Let the randomness ensue.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Patch from Potch: The Cardinal Side of Things

I finally did it . . . a real trade. Look out world, Chef's slingin' cards.

Work has been busy with the changing of the seasons. Spring has come, ramps are on the pork belly, and asparagus is juicy as an apple. I am going to commit myself to blogging more, as baseball season too has begun. I will probably only buy two types of sets this year, Allen and Ginter and the Topps Flagship. So, if anyone has Cardinals or Royals from the other sets released this year, check out my "have's" page and let's see if we can help each other out.

Anyways, on to the cards from Potch. I sent him a bunch of 2012 Topps inserts that he needed, and in return he sent a slew of sweet Cardinal's and Royals. I am going to split the trade in two posts, one for the Redbirds and the other the Royals.

Let the parade of World Champions begin:

Okay, while Todd was technically not a World Champion, he did pitch in game seven of the World Series in 1987. Let that fact not distract you from the man's superlative mustache. Look at it and feast. Todd had a great start to his career for the Cardinal's, garnering Rookie of the Year and Rolaids Relief Man awards in 1986. If he hadn't had two back-to-back injuries I think he could have been one of the best of his era.

There he is. The long-necked fleet-footed center-fielder World Champion. This card is seven years after his amazing rookie and champion year. Game 3 of the Series, Willie smacks two homer's and makes a spectacular catch in the outfield. Man, it seems like the Cardinal's always have great speed in the outfield, and just consistently great management. Willie was a part of the "Whiteyball" era, good times to grow up in Missouri!

A great reprint from last year's 60 Years of Topps inserts. The back of the card says that for the first time in 15 years Topps left the player positions off the cards. Ozzie certainly didn't need the reminder, as he was the gold standard of shortstops at the time. He was an All Star this year, 2nd in MVP voting, a Gold Glover and a Silver Slugger. Right in the middle of 12 consecutive All Star seasons, just an unreal player. Long live the Wiz!

That's right . . . two Chris's for the price of one. I really like the Masterpieces card, this is my first of that insert set.  I hope his nerve irritation heals well, and Chris is able to pitch at the level he did last year. The battle between him and Halladay was epic. Carpenter's humble attitude and huge arm have endeared him to the St. Louis population, and all wait with baited breath for his return.

That's it for the Cardinals. Potch sent me a bunch more, perhaps they will find their way sprinkled into posts in the future.

Look for the Royals post tomorrow.

And once again, thanks Potch!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

2012 Topps Series 1 Insert Review: Retired Rings

I love these cards. While I choose not to include them as my favorite, since they are just sooo special, they deserve the respect their design deserves.

I actually like this fake relic, a manufactured facade of some fantasy ring that just doesn't exist. It's okay. I live in a fantasy world allot (I happen to play allot of Magic the Gathering). The ring has a weight to it, an import denoted by density. The ring is placed nicely in the right 2/3 of the card. Well positioned, and its ratio to the over all card is correct to my eyes.

The photo on the left is, for every card, a nice capture of the featured player. I especially like the Reggie in his lemon yellow uniform.

I am attempting to collect all of these, and have one or two doubles. If you happen to need one, look at my list and let me know. If you happen to have one of the few I still need . . . help a brother out!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

2012 Topps Series 1 Insert Review: Gold Futures

This is my favorite so far reviewed, and 2nd favorite overall. Just a super clean card. The black border lends the card a classy feel next to the gold detailing. I wish the logos weren't so large, and in some strange flag form. But its my only real knock on the insert series.

The featured players are a great mix. The guy above is going to have a huge year after he gets rid of this shoulder thing that is having him split time between DH and 1B.

Many of the young players are going to be exciting to watch this year. Starlin Castro is one of my favorites in this series as well. .I plan on catching many Wrigley games this year. You'll most often find me 1st base side.

I got a whole set extra. Just let me know what you need to complete your set.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My First Real Trade

I am very excited.

I have finally gotten the chance to complete a real trade. One where I actually sent a card, through the mail, to a mate that sent me one.

This is the card I sent:

Adam from, must have read one of my "Plasticine" posts, and said he needed it for his collection. And, who am I to keep this knuckler from a friend. Into the mail you go sir, a fine career you had indeed.

This is what I got:

A sweet refractor. A Cardinal.


Wakefield is out of here!!!

Anyone that wants to trade, as I get more cards, please check out my haves and wants list. I know its small now, but like a crystal in my garden, grow it will.

Thanks Adam.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

2012 Topps Series 1 Insert Review: Golden Greats

While this certainly isn't my favorite design of the series, the subject matter of some of the cards saves it for me. Speaking strictly to the design, once again the weird brown-orangey border looks horrible. The large seal in the lower right reminds me of something from the federal reserve. Now, I realize this is the "gold" themed set, I just don't know why Topps chose to evoke this notion with stodgy design.

The plus is the sweet photos of Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken, Albert Pujols, and so many more. I will never have baseball cards by most of these people, and it is cool to get great looking photos of them in my collection. The "technicolor" effect on a few of them is over-done, but over-all it was fun to look at.

Grade: B-

I have a few extra for trade, and need a few to finish my set. Check out my Haves/Wants list to see if we can help each other.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2012 Topps Series 1 Insert Review: Classic Walk-off's

I am going to spare few words for these horrible looking cards. The best part is the blurred out section in the bottom right showing the team celebrations. When my favorite thing about a card is the most blurred out, tough to make out section, this is not good. Ugly card with a boring theme.


Grade: D-

Monday, February 20, 2012

2012 Topps Series 1 Insert Review: Golden Moments

Topps takes a down swing here with this insert design. I think the use of the picture on the right still works, but the design elements on the left look weak. The golden home-plate is kind of lame with the team logo in the center. It looks low class.

The overall orange tone of the front fails to work with many of the cards (although GM-1 here is kind of sharp with Seaver in the Met's colors). The over faded base of the cards is strange, and unnecessary.

Overall Grade: C

2012 Topps Series 1 Insert Review: Gold Standard

I am going to attempt to collect a master set of 2012 Topps flagship product. I am not sure what that really means, but to me for this project I will not seek out all parallels. Just base cards and all inserts. As I now have a Haves and Wants list up on the side, as you are able, check it out and help me complete the set. (As I bought a case, I will have a lot of doubles to help you complete yours as well).

To keep things interesting around here, as I complete the various insert sets I will review them briefly.

First up are the Gold Standard inserts.

While not all that visually stunning on their own, I thought enmasse they formed a handsome page:

It looks "federal" to me. I know others have bemoaned all of the unused design space on the left of the card, but I think it lends a degree of "staid"-ness and appropriate level of dignity to these accomplishments. 

I like the photo on the side. Does anyone know if those are actual photo's of the moment described on the card?

The gold standard makes it feel a bit like a treasury bond or currency plate.  I think this fits with the theme as well.

Overall I say B+. I smart, handsome looking insert set, and I hope to see an Ozzie make an appearance in the later Topps series (he isn't in the set at all yet :( ).

Have/Want List Up

As the 2012 card season has begun, I have dedicated myself to trading with others to help complete my sets, and most importantly help others complete theirs. To that effect please notice on the right side of the blog my continually growing have and want lists.

I am very interested in collecting all gold sparklies, and will have a bunch of inserts and base cards for trade. Please let me know when you see something you need, and I will send it out, hopefully in trade for something I am lacking.

Let the mailing begin!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Presents From Strangers

I am not sure how it happened. I came home after work today and there were three envelopes with my name on it. Not so unusual around birthday season.

One was from my sister. Chelsea and crew, wishing a fine birthday upon me. She works at Hallmark. She always has the perfect card. Very nice.

The other two were, judging by their return addresses listed in the upper-left corner of the envelope, from people I did not know. You would think it might be eBay related, but not so. Just a couple of people who sent me random-kindness cards. Do you think they knew it would arrive near my birthday?

No matter.

Matheo16 is apparently a trader abroad. This envelope arrived with a Canadian stamp (and I do have quite a philately penchant), so bonus already.

Then inside:

A cardinal rookie card. Thanks Matheo!

Kenneth, as wikipedia refers to him, only registered four games this season, '88. And to me his expression seems both "whatcha' takin a picture of, bub?"-ish and "I'm tickled you want my picture"-ish.


The next package was from Ms. Konnie Frey, out of Albuquerque. Her stamps, while not Canadian, were a lovely festive ornament montage.

She sent me a load of Cardinals. Too many to list in one post. And several of her cards have inspired future posts (my mullet-and-stash collection is imminent). Here are some of my faves.

First,. a card to join the "Smiles" binder.


Is Dave Lapoint skiing? It sure looks like he is. Perhaps he's smiling cause he is moving to San Francisco the year after this card was published. His cheeks look so rosy draped in all of that red.

The next is Whitey. Stoic, bulldog Whitey.

Double Whitey. Both pictures obviously from the same day, game, and photographer. The Zog deserved better.

Maybe something like this.

Something Classy.

And last, the main man, the Wiz.

Thank you so much, generous strangers. The cards are fun.

Birthday cards rule.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Birthday Cards and Necessary Adventures

So, it was my birthday yesterday. A cool 35 is what I'm rockin'. It was fun.

It began the day before, with a surprise birthday party at a local WhirlyBall facility. If you haven't been bruised by the wicked fun that is WhirlyBall before, and if you know not of what I speak, check this out:

You saw it right. Bumpercars and weapons. Trust me, the video barely does it justice. Those with an imagination, and an understanding of inertia, should realize the devilry of the game. Get 10 friends, get them now.

So, that was awesome. Then the next day, after I got off of a short day at work, we went to Dave and Busters. A sweet cocktail serving arcade, with giant games. And more related to this baseball card blog, D&B's was a sweet cocktail serving arcade that had redemption games. Sweet ticket giving machines.

Skee-ball would be the stalwart classic. That 3.6 difficulty of a 50 point hole, and the almost never seen 100 point ball, gives the sweet raffle booty. It's like I entered to win the door prize 3047 times. That's right, that's how many tickets we earned. (You would think that would take a long time to count such a haul, but no . . . they weigh them. Ingenious indoor carnival devilry)

I have tendinitis from skee-ball.

On to the redemptions. And my sweet birthday cards. They came in packs like this.

For 1350 hard fought tickets I could own this. Good thing my wife and brother figured out which games had the sweet payouts. And truth-be-told, all one had to do was watch where the 12-14 year old set was gaming. Those kids had it figured out! Ticket's galore!!

Intrepidly we three built our dragons hoard. All the way to where we could afford two of these beauties.

Here's the other side.

The sweet part is my main man Ozzie made the case. I long for that sweet rookie card. Only Padres card I can think of that I want. One day . . . one day.

Now the first of the shenanigans is apparent.

 (I didn't realize it until examining the packs for this post, just to keep things temporally accurate).

Look in the center of the white rectangle, just to the left and above the D&B logo, and just right and above the bar code. See that innocuous black line.

Redaction! The case has been redacted. This could involve national security issues. That is what I typically associate with blacked out redaction's. Television has taught me so. My baseball cards have been redacted. What was worth 1350 tickets that needed to be made secret, to never see the light? After looking at it closely in my kitchen I can just make out the numbers 1199?

Dawning realization.
Inflation or scoundrel behaviour.
Could this be its true cost in tickets?

We will never know, and these beauties will always be worth 1350 tickets to me.

Then the kidney punch. This came along each card in a pack.

The expiration date. Really?!? You raised the ticket price on my purchased treasure. You raised it and gave me expired goods. Seems like eggs past their due date.

It could all turn around if the cards were sweet. Something with a vintage. Something from a decade I don't have.

Nope. Two cards of some stand out hall of famer's, but still. Two cards from the glut of early 90's production. Fleer?

Although, I have to admit. I have just started collecting so I don't care they're from the "trash" era. I like the design of the fleer with the cubbie blue. And Boggs, he's sweet.

I know, I know. Early 90's smut. My first grade 10's though. Grade 10 smut.

Birthdays are fun. This one was awesome! The cards are in plastic.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Three More From the Box

So, the restaurant has slowed down a bit, here in Chicago. Opening a restaurant that has been blessed with its success has been amazing. I have never managed an operation this large, had this many staff to look after, or done this many covers (I am from fine-dining after all). It has been amazing! However, it is nice that mother nature comes, freezes River North, and allows us to catch a breather after a hectic holiday season.

All that being said, it basically translates into more time to post. Man, so much time, and new cards don't release until next month. Looks like the 1.99 I spent is going to have to do. Worry not, 31 faithful readers, I have pulled some gems for today.

Do you think this guy likes a knuckle-sandwich?

I do wonder though, having watched this guy pitch for the majority of my life, who teaches this. When you have a young kid that just loves to throw with his knuckles, or just can't help but pitch side-arm, who trains these kids? I would think that most coaches would force them to throw over-hand. Anyone with experience in this?

Manny is next. Auto Manny. Even if it is a stamp.

I fully expect to see this guy Vinny Testeverde me. I have no doubt, that four years from now I will look up from the couch and see Manny DH for some team. I also expect Vinny to come back and QB for some team mid-season almost every year. Where oh where has my Vinny gone? (Sorry, I swear this is about a Manny card).

Last but not least . . . Who names their kid Junior?

Okay, his real name is Adalberto. Perhaps Score didn't know that? Weird stance, long career, and one ring. Not bad Junior, not bad.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sweet Plasticine Pulls

If you can't tell, I'm gonna keep pluggin' away at this plasticine time capsule that I have purchased for 3.99 retail. Hard plastic pocket of treasure.

I continue to be amazed at the travesty of design. I kind of thought it was confined to the 80's and early 90's. This poor card, looking like its rolling lonely during couples skate, is from 1997. They should have known better by then.

I remember this guy pitching in the early 90's, and the hype of the Rookie Pitcher of the Year. He did admirably, he just unfortunately did it in Kansas City. And, I like the Royals. One of my teams. It happens when you grow up on I-70.

The next guy is almost off the radar. Only showing up on the more esoteric baseball stat sites, certainly no wiki page. It's cool though. I kind of like the card. The back has a nice full photo as well.

Poor kid with the pencil 'stache never made it to the bigs. My first non big-leaguer from the value box.

This next pitcher has a beautiful story told on wiki-pedia.

"Lucas is possibly best remembered for his role in the Angels' crucial Game 5 loss in the 1986 American League Championship Series. The Angels held a three games to one lead in the best-of-seven series and found themselves with a 5-4 lead in the ninth inning of Game 5. Needing only one more out to clinch the team's first-ever pennant, the Angels turned to Lucas to provide that out.
Angels starting pitcher Mike Witt was the team's clear pitching star and had pitched a very strong game overall. However, with the game on the line, the batter coming to the plate was the Boston Red Sox' Rich Gedman, who was 3 for 3 in the game against Witt, including a double and a home run. Angels manager Gene Mauch elected to remove Witt from the game and replace him with Lucas to nail down the final out. The wisdom of the move was questioned — then and now — but it was at least consistent with Mauch's long-held managerial tendencies: managing according to the historically demonstrated strengths/weaknesses of individual players.
In this case, Gedman had historically been very successful batting against Witt, including having hit a home run earlier in the game. Meanwhile, Gedman had faced Lucas a total of three previous times and had struck out all three times. Also factoring in Mauch's decision to remove Witt may have been the fact that although aside from Gedman's home run, Witt had almost completely shut down the Red Sox offense entering the ninth inning, earlier in that ninth inning Witt had given up a second home run, this time to Boston's Don Baylor.
With the Angels' lead standing at only one run, and with a relief pitcher in his bullpen who had had only success against Gedman, Mauch did not want to risk having Witt face Gedman again. Mauch made the decision to put the ball in Lucas' hands.
With Lucas' first pitch, he hit Gedman, allowing Gedman to take first base and bringing the go-ahead run up to the plate in the person of Dave Henderson. Lucas was replaced with Angels closer Donnie Moore, but Moore surrendered a home run to give Boston the lead. The Red Sox went on to win the game in extra innings, and after that, the shellshocked Angels were never again close to winning the series. They were crushed in each of the series' final two games and forced to watch the Red Sox celebrate a berth in the 1986 World Series."

That's also a lot of elastic!

Gotta love the plasticine.