Saturday, October 31, 2015

Just One Pack of 2012 Panini Prizm (with bonus pack)

 2012 Panini Prizm - I had to look up the year- the backs were confusing. Copyright 2013, stats from the 2012 season, but they also have "2012 Panini Prizm" prominently displayed. On to the cards!
 The Good News: I think I have a home for all of these . . .  in someone else's mailbox.
The Bad News? These cards are ugly and Panini should feel bad. I'll keep the Tommy Milone Rookie, he's a Twin now.

The best news? These were free packs added to an order from Dave and Adam's Card World -- Which means a very special Transatlantic Triple Break is about to begin! I'm joining forces with Matt from Bob Walk the Plank and Kevin from The Card Papoy and we're gonna break some stuff! I'll get Twins, Pirates will walk the plank, and Blue Jays will ... papoy? That's not a verb...

Friday, October 30, 2015

We Knew It Would Come to This

I have been making up reasons to go to Target every day this week looking for a blaster of Topps Update. I "need" socks. I "need" some aftershave. Where's the Topps Update?

Well, I went online in the mean time and picked up the card I would have most wanted to pull in the blaster anyway. What's that you say? More First Home Run Medallion cards are in Update? One of the players on the checklist is Kennys Vargas?

Shut up and Take My Money!

 Here's the highlight from that game:

 I will leave you with this highlight of Vargas hitting an absolute LASER BEAM. Here's to a more productive 2016 Kennys!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

I'm Sorry Mets Fans

Before the Series started, I posted that I was rooting for the Mets. Well, that has backfired on the Metropolitans, who now face an 0-2 deficit heading back to Flushing.

I'm Sorry! I jinxed it. This is what happens when I choose sides. The Royals are good too. So, yeah. I am hoping for seven games because a sweep would be no fun.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Spiderman and The Ignitor

Yes the World Series has begun, and yes, it's the top of the 11th inning, but there's Twins new to be had.

First the good news - Manager Paul Molitor was named the Sporting News AL Manager of the Year. The award is voted on by managers throughout the league, so it is a special honor for the rookie skipper.

Congratulations, Paulie! Well deserved, as the expectations were not too high coming into the year and you delivered.

Now the not so good news - Old Torii Two Eyes, Spiderman, winner of Gold Gloves and hitter of home runs, is retiring. Torii Hunter's Major League debut was to pinch run for Paul Molitor way back in 1997. Since then, he's hit 353 Home Runs. He's driven in 1,395 Runs, and scored 1,296. Winner of 9 Gold Gloves, Torii played in 4 All-Star games. Torii has been in the playoffs in 8 years, though his teams never made it to the World Series.

I know! I'm impressed too!
Some of the guys with similar numbers to Torii include Dave Parker, Chili Davis, Carlos Lee, Carlos Beltran, Luis Gonzalez, Dwight Evans, Joe Carter and Garret Anderson. All great players, but not quite Hall of Famers (maybe Beltran gets in). No shame in that - he'll get a few votes and might stick on the ballot for a few years, it will be nice to talk about what a great career he had. So, it is bittersweet, but congratulations to Torii on 19 excellent years in the big leagues.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Windy City State of Mind

Here they are - the second class of the Topps All-Star Rookie Team, selected "by the Youth of America" following the 1961 season and featured in the 1962 Topps set. 

I have completed the run of these up through 2015, at least all regular issue cards that bear the All-Star Rookie Trophy. Shortstop Dick Howser gets left out of the party this time around.

 Right Handed Pitcher - Don Schwall
Rookie Card
Don Schwall was the 1961 Rookie of the Year in the American League, made the All-Star team despite starting the season in the minors, and found some small success as a middle reliever in Pittsburgh a few years later. His 15 Wins in 1961 were a career high. His walk rate was quite high, however, which may have lead to a sophomore slump from which he never fully recovered. Fun fact from the back of this card - the 6'6" Schwall once outscored Wilt Chamberlain in a college game! Here's a fun "Where are they now?" interview with Schwall from 2002.
 First Base - J.C. Martin
J.C. Martin is best known for two things - he was, for several seasons in Chicago, Hoyt Wilhelm's personal catcher. In 1969, Martin played on the New York Mets World Championship team, contributing a 2-run single in Game 1 of the NLCS, and being at the center of a controversial play in the fourth game of the World Series. Martin was up in the bottom of the tenth, pinch hitting for Tom Seaver (just as he had in the NLCS). Martin was asked to bunt and managed to get one fair. Pete Richert of the Orioles fielded the ball and fired to first. It ricocheted off Martin's wrist and bounced inbetween first and second base. The umpires ruled Martin safe on the play and Rod Gaspar scored the winning run from second base. Martin somehow was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie Squad, hitting a paltry .230 for the White Sox in 100 games split between First and Third. Martin's Rookie card was from the 1960 set, though 1961 was his first full season.

 Outfielder - Lee Thomas
Thomas cranked out 24 Homers in 1961, heading west to Los Angeles in an early season trade with the Yankees that put Bob Cerv and Tex Clevenger in Pinstripes. He was stellar again in 1962, made the All-Star team and belted another 26 home runs. Thomas also has a claim to fame off the field, he was the General Manager of the Phillies from 1988 to 1997, overseeing the run to the World Series with a team starring Curt Schilling, John Kruk, Lenny Dykstra, Mitch Williams, and Darren Daulton. Thomas did not have much success following his Sophomore season, and was done playing in the majors by 1968. He does share a major league record with several other players for most hits in a double header with 9. Lee's Rookie Card is in the 1961 set.

 Catcher - Joe Torre
Rookie Card, Hall of Famer (*as a Manager)
Torre made the Hall of Fame as a manager, but he was a better than average player in his own right. Torre played in 17 Seasons as a Catcher and Corner infielder. The 9 time All-Star won the N.L. MVP award in 1971, leading the league in base hits, Batting Average, and runs batted in. He finished 2nd in the N.L. Rookie of the Year voting in 1961, hitting 10 homers and managing the Braves pitching staff. Torre's defense resulted in 2 gold gloves in his career. Most people today recall his run as manager with the New York Yankees in the 90s and 2000s that led to ahem several World Series titles for the Bronx Bombers. What makes those titles much sweeter to Torre is that he never had the opportunity to play in one himself. Torre played over 2,200 games without making it to the World Series, and managed another 2,000 more before the 1996 season.
The Backs

 Third Base - Charlie Smith 
Rookie Card
Charley/Charlie/Charles Smith played for two different teams in 1961, neither of which was the Chicago White Sox. He seemed to do his best work when he moved mid-season. 1961 and 1964 were career years, he was traded in both campaigns. His Rookie Year was split between the Phillies and the Dodgers, moving to the city of Brotherly Love in May in exchange of O.G. Topps Rookie All-Star Joe Koppe. Smith was a slick fielder at the hot corner, though he never was awarded a gold glove in his career. In 1966 Smith was traded from the Cardinals to the Yankees for Roger Maris straight up. Maris probably could have told him a thing or two about the stress of living up to high expectations, but it may not have helped. Smith's last full season was in 1967 with the Yankees and he retired after a couple partial stints around the league in 1969. This is his Topps rookie card, oddball seekers can go after his 1961 Phillies Team issue.
 Outfielder - Billy Williams
Hall of Famer
The most successful of the 1961 class, Billy Williams got an early start on the competition by winning the N.L. Rookie of the Year award. His career numbers are impressive; over 2,700 career hits, 426 Homers, nearly 1,500 runs batted in.  Williams was durable - averaging 162 games played per season from 1962 -1969. Willie Stargell remarked that the swing of Billy Williams was "Poetry in Motion," a sentiment shared in various forms by teammates and opponents alike. Williams was a six-time All-Star, won the 1972 AL Batting Title, but unfortunately like ROY runner up Torre, Williams never played in the World Series. His playing career was good enough to get him into the Hall of Fame in 1987. His Rookie Card was from the 1961 Topps Set.

 Left Handed Pitcher - Jack Curtis
Curtis had an unremarkable season as a rookie for the Chicago Cubs in 1961, bounced around the league for three seasons, and was out of baseball by 1963. His Grandson (also named Jack Curtis) plays baseball for Coastal Carolina. The Elder Jack's Rookie card was from the 1961 Topps Set.

 Second Base - Jake Wood
Jake Wood led the AL in Triples in 1961... and also Strikeouts. He played in all 162 games for the Tigers as a rookie, but never played nearly that many games in a season after that. Jake played 6 seasons in Detroit and split the last year of his career in 1967 between the Tigers and the Reds. Wood had great speed (stealing 30 bases his rookie year) but the inability to get on base to use that speed hurt his chances of being a consistent threat in the lineup. Wood's 1961 Topps Card was his official Rookie card.

Outfielder - Floyd Robinson
Rookie Card
Robinson hit for a high average and mixed in a little pop to have a nice run in the early 60s. It doesn't seem like much, but his 1962 season was ... comprehensive. He hit 10 triples, 11 Homers, walked 72 times against just 47 strikeouts and hit a league leading 45 doubles. His OPS+ was over 120 from 1961 through 1964. Robinson served in the Marines for two years, which delayed his debut in the majors. He was originally signed in 1954 by the San Diego Padres of the PCL, missed 1957 and 1958 while in a different uniform, then made his MLB debut with Chicago in 1960. He had a great arm from the outfield, throwing out 13 Runners in 1962. Robinson was traded in 1966 for fellow Topps Rookie All-Star Jim O'Toole. 

5 of the 10 members of the 1961 Topps Rookie All-Star Team were from a Chicago team. The same methods for voting in 61 must have been employed by Royals fans in the 2015 All-Star ballot... 

Monday, October 26, 2015

My Twins Frankenset: Page 17

I've seen a few FrankenSets out there - for example John has a Braves set and a Uniform Number Set, Tom has a Cubs set, Nick has the Dime Box FrankenSet, Robert has a serial numbered card set, Night Owl has a night card set. Jeff's got a White Sox FrankenSet. T.J., The Junior Junkie, just started showing his Griffey Frankenset. I'm sure there are many others. Tell me about yours in the comments!

I decided this would be a good way to at least start organizing my Twins cards.

My own "rules" for the set are pretty simple -
1. Each card should be a Twins player in a Twins uniform (and exclude multi-team cards)
2. If at all possible, each page should have 9 unique players and 9 unique sets
3. Have Fun (Mandatory)

Here's Page 17:
 and the backs:

145 - Kirby Puckett 1991 Topps Stadium Club Skydome Set
146 - Al Newman 1992 Topps
147 - Joe Nathan 2007 Fleer
148 - Jacque Jones 2004 Bazooka Mini
149 - Justin Morneau 2007 Upper Deck
150 - Harmon Killebrew 1970 Topps
151 - David Ortiz 1999 Upper Deck SP Signature Edition
152 - Rod Carew 2015 Gypsy Queen
153 - Kurt Suzuki 2014 Topps Update

Hands down, it's the Harmon Killebrew card. That's one of my favorite baseball cards of all time. Fresh off his MVP season of 1969. This page is pretty strong, though. Jacque Jones in batting practice at the Dome, some nice horizontal heroes, and that adorable kid at the All-Star game. That was a really great moment for Kurt, I bet. I wonder if he knows that card exists, he might want a copy for a family photo album (if such a thing exists any more)! Morneau is fresh off his MVP season in his card as well. Justin did not make the All-Star team that year, I wonder how often the league MVP was not selected to be an All-Star?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Why I'm Rooting for the Mets

Step right up and meet the Mets!
The Mets and the Royals are meeting for the World Series this year, despite what you may have heard from 30 year old movies. We don't have flying Deloreans, either. If someone told me this would be the matchup in June, I wouldn't have believed it. The Mets were a game under .500 after being swept by Atlanta and dropping a pair of games to Milwaukee. I kept thinking about the 2015 Season this weekend and saying to myself, The Mets? Really? How did this happen?

Despite my cynicism, my American League roots, and an exciting Royals team, I just have to pull for the Mets in the World Series. Here's why:

David Wright - Underappreciated and yet also overrated a bit, David is the Mets' version of Joe Mauer. He's been a rock for the franchise in good times and bad, and this is his first World Series appearance. I like storylines, I like rooting for the guy that appreciate the long road and the rarity of being in the World Series. I wanted the Rockies to win it all for Todd Helton, I was happy for the Red Sox (*the first time) because it meant Pedro Martinez was a champion in everyone's eyes. It's the same reason I became a fan of guys in other sports like. Dan Marino, Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Barry Sanders, and John Elway (Elway's final seasons were so satisfying for a fan)- they were World Champion talents that just didn't have a title to show for it. David Wright is that kind of guy; you'll miss him when he's gone.

Bartolo Colon - Come on. The man is amazin'. Not much to say about Bartolo Colon other than he is a magnificent athlete and a joy to watch on the mound and at the plate. I hope he gets more time in the World Series than he did in the LCS. Colon has had a long long road to get here. He is one of the last Montreal Expos in the league. He has just missed the World Series a couple times in his career, being a year too young to join Cleveland in 1997, and missing the Angels 2002 run by a couple years. Following his Cy Young season in 2005, Colon's numbers dropped off precipitously. He bounced around (and in and out of) the majors before regaining his mojo in Oakland in 2013. The "new" Bartolo Colon is nothing like the imposing flamethrower of the early 2000s, but he's still getting it done. I hope he pitches another 10 years.

Michael Cuddyer - Former Twins will always get this fan's vote. He was great as a Twin, and never hesitated to fulfill the role the team asked him to undertake. He's played all over the outfield and infield. I was so happy for him to win the batting title in Colorado a couple years ago. This will be his first World Series as well. This might end up being his last full season, it would be a great capper on his career.

Honorable mentions - Yoenis Cespedes, for being a good sport about being wanted by every team, but by semmingly no team. The Mets are his fourth stop in the last two seasons. The Young Guns; DeGrom, Harvey, Matz, Syndergaard, and Familia. These guys have been great to watch.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Something I Alou-ded to Earlier . . .

 Well, it's late in the day and I haven't posted yet, trying to keep coming up with things to post about, there will be another Twins Frankenset post on Monday and the next season of Topps Rookie All-Star will happen some time next week.

With my upcoming move, I've not been buying very many cards. I haven't been doing a lot of trading, either, but I did send out a couple packages today.

So, here's one thing I will be working on in the next few months - Certified autos of the Alou family!
Matt from Bob Walk the Plank alerted me to existence of this Moises Alou auto, and I found a copy on eBay for just 8 bucks. 
This is a terrible image, but I got this Felipe Alou auto at the National. I've got most of my cards in boxes inside of other boxes right now, so this a cropped version of a photo from awhile back.

So, just looking for certified autos of Matty and Jesus at this point, and maybe getting a different Felipe to match up with the other brothers.

Friday, October 23, 2015

"Future's So Bright . . . " Fridays

Time for another irregular feature on this Arbitrary and Subjective blog. One of the genres I collect is players with sunglasses. In this feature, we take a look at cards from the 60s, 70s, and beyond with killer shades.

 Ryne Duren and his L.A. teammate Eli Grba are the patron saints of shades.

 Er, even little Duren dons dark glasses.

 Lowell Palmer continued the tradition in the early 1970s.

  Teke carried the torch from the late 70s and into the 1980s.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

More Fun With Repacks

 I was at Target yesterday for some socks-- well, really I was hoping to find some packs of Topps Update. No dice! I grabbed this repack with a 2014 Topps Update card on the front. I'm a sucker for cards featuring a Target Field patch, so I picked this one over the others on the shelf.
 Here's the pack that came with. I have to be honest, I have zero interest in Triple Play - anyone out there collect this set?
 The oldest card in the repack - this off center '82 Donruss Glenn Hubbard. Glenn was born in Germany, a bit of trivia he shares with Twins Uber Prospect Max Kepler. Hubbard made the NL All-Star Team in 1983 following a solid 1982 season. He's currently coaching the Kansas City system.
 The most recent card in the repack was from the 2014 Topps Update series. Cowgill's 2015 season was derailed by a wrist injury, but he will try to rebound next season and make a case for being a part of the Angels' outfield.
 Hey, a Hit! David's last minor league season was in 2011, a year after this card was made. Any Hooks fans out there? Cook had some decent pop, hitting over 20 homers in three different minor league seasons.
 Some awesome 90's junk
 When Julio was young!
 Is this a variation, or is this the regular base card? Either way, it's a great shot.
He's saying "Call me GianCARRRRlo!"

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

" . . . One Of Chicago's Most Valuable Citizens"

Here they are - the second class of the Topps All-Star Rookie Team, selected "by the Youth of America" following the 1960 season and featured in the 1961 Topps set. 

I have completed the run of these up through 2015, at least all regular issue cards that bear the All-Star Rookie Trophy. You'll see the first example of an omitted player on this page.
 Third Base - Ron Santo 
Rookie Card - Hall of Famer
Playing in a dead ball era at an underappreciated corner of the infield, Ron Santo was an excellent fielder and a formidable bat at the heart of the Cubs order. A nine time All-Star and a five time Gold Glover, Santo played his entire career in Chicago. Despite being diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 18, Santo excelled at the demanding position of 3rd Base for 14 years. It took too long, but Santo was finally enshrined in baseball's National Hall of Fame in 2012. His Number 10 was retired by the Cubs in 2003.
The Backs

 Left Handed Pitcher - Dick Stigman
Stigman made the AL All-Star Team in his rookie season, and won 15 games a few years later for his new hometown team, the Minnesota Twins. Stigman has the distinction of having the record for the most consecutive starts without a decision (ten), which he achieved over the course of two seasons. Stigman's rookie card was in the 1959 Topps set.

 Catcher - Jim Coker
Coker made the 1960 All-Star Rookie Squad despite managing to hit just .214 in 81 games. That was a career high for the journeyman, who also spent time in Baltimore, San Francisco, and Cincinnati. Coker retired after playing a backup role for parts of nine seasons, and became a rancher in Texas after his playing days were over. There wasn't a standout rookie at the catcher position in 1960, though Earl Battey had a breakout season with the Washington Senators in his first full season, winning his first Gold Glove and slugging 15 homers. He was not a rookie at that point, however, so was not eligible for the Topps team. Jim Coker's rookie card can be found in the 1960 Topps set.

Second Base - Julian Javier
Rookie Card
Javier was a mainstay in the Saint Louis infield throughout the 1960s. He made two All-Star teams (1963 & 1968), and finished his career with over 1,450 base hits. He was a free swinger, never walking more than 47 times in a single season, despite topping 500 plate appearances 5 different times. Javier was a big part of the 1967 World Series winning squad, hitting .360 for the series, including a home run in the deciding seventh game. Javier nearly missed out on making a mark in the big leagues, as he was originally signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates, and was stuck behind Bill Mazeroski on the team's depth chart. Javier was one of the first Dominican born players to excel in the majors, and later managed the country's National Team.

Outfield - Tommy Davis
If Jimmie Coker was a "Journeyman," he had nothing on Tommy Davis. Tommy played for 10 different teams over 18 seasons. Davis was a Seattle Pilot in 1969, and saw playing time in 1,999 career games. His 1962 Season was one for the ages. He led the National League in Hits, Runs Batted In (Thank you Maury Wills), and batting average. The following season, he was a World Champion with the Dodgers. Davis was also the Baltimore Orioles' first full time DH. Tommy's Rookie Card was in the 1960 set.

Shortstop - Ron Hansen
AL Rookie of the Year in 1960, Ron Hansen is the first of three Orioles to be named on the 1960 Topps All-Star Rookie squad. That will become a trend over time, some teams feature a disproportionate number of players in a given season. Expansion teams often get a lot of attention by Topps and "the Youth of America." Hansen clubbed 22 Homers in his rookie season, a career high. Hansen also made his only All-Star team in his rookie season as well. Over the course of his career, Hansen played for several teams. His 7 years with the White Sox featured excellent defense and a dependable bat. Ron Hansen's Rookie Card was in the 1959 Set.
Outfield - Tony Curry
The second player from the Bahamas to play in the Major Leagues, Tony Curry's nod on the Topps All-Star team seemed to be very much based on potential. Curry played for 6 seasons in the majors, but never became the star he was touted to become. The 1961 pre-season started with a strange contract situation. Curry was asked to sign a contract before spring training for below the league minimum. The Phillies claimed that Curry was less than a major league caliber talent, but the fact remained that he felt he was being treated unfairly and returned to the Bahamas before the start of the '61 season with the intention of quitting the game. He was persuaded to return to the team, but struggled to hit lefties. Curry bounced between several teams in the Majors, Minors, and beyond - finishing his career in Mexico. His rookie card is in the 1960 Topps Set.

Right Handed Pitcher - Chuck Estrada 
Estrada had a phenomenal 1960 season, leading the AL with 18 Wins. He made the All-Star team and was named Pitcher of the Year for the Sporting News. Estrada was effectively wild his rookie year, but the wildness followed him in his sophomore campaign, finishing with 17 losses. Elbow issues derailed a promising career, and Estrada became a coach for several teams in the 70s and 80s.  Estrada's Rookie Card is in the 1960 set.

First Base - Jim Gentile
"Diamond Jim" Had a very impressive run to start his career, including a brilliant second season in 1961, hitting 46 Homers and knocking in 141 runs. Gentile made three straight All-Star Games from 1960-1962. By 1966, Gentile's numbers had fallen off and he no longer played in the Majors. He did play for a season in Japan in 1969. Gentile's Rookie Card was in the 1960 set.

Hey.... wait a minute. There should be one more outfielder! Topps, what happened? 1960 NL Rookie of the Year Frank Howard doesn't have a trophy on his card... so, it's not part of this collection. HARSH, I know,  but them's the arbitrary rules.