Thursday, June 30, 2016

Nick Checks Off Every Box

 I recently completed the first trade in a long time with Nick from the essential Dime Boxes blog. It's been a busy summer, and I've been trying to focus on Super Trades and writing longer blog posts (when I have the time to post at all). So, it was long overdue! Nick sent back some tremendous cardboard, that checked off every box. Just look at that 1969 Topps Checklist! Unmarked and Super Sharp all around. The Great Tony O on the front and it is pretty much a perfect card.
 Everything from Vintage . . .
 to the latest Topps releases, Archives and Series 2 (which FINALLY appeared in my city a couple days ago.).
Oddballs, Parallels, Prospects, Hall of Famers, Fan Favorites! Nick is an expert envelope stuffer and this latest was a big hit.

Thanks again Nick for another great trade!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Back For More

Once I get on a roll on COMC, it can be hard to stop - the 50 under .50 was such a big win! I went back again once those cards arrived and made a much smaller order of a small handful of cards I had been looking to add for various reasons.

 So 90s! This one was on my Arbitrary List. I originally put random cards on that list, but generous and well meaning collectors would send me those random cards in the mail, so I had to switch it up - now it's always a random sampling of cards that I don't own but would like to.
 This card is so cool. The Crystal Ball had no idea what was in store for LaTroy, who retired following the  2015 season.
 Kennys! This insert has a Superfractor look and feel to it, but it was much much cheaper than a 1/1. Vargas ended being included in Series 2 for the Topps flagship set this year, I was not expecting him to be included but I am hopeful that he will get another shot at the big leagues soon.
 My first Byung-ho Park card! He's been able to provide plenty of big homers, but the league seems to have found some weaknesses in the strike zone, and he struggles a little with big league heat. It's his turn to adjust, or Kennys will be taking his place until he figures things out!
TONY O! This is a hand cut card from a 1971 Milk Duds carton. It's seen better days, but a little love just made it cheaper for me!
ok,  I got a little lazy with the scanning on this one - Museum Collection is printed on a fairly thick cardstock, I think that may have confused my scanner a bit.

So there you go, 50 under .50 and here's 5 under $5. A little something for everyone!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Quality via Quantity

 I've been reeeeeeallly slow about updating this summer - This post was inspired by Night Owl's 50 under .50 - I logged into COMC and went to town with Twins cards (and a few others, like Moises up there) -- everything under 50 cents!
 Horizontal Heroes!
 I steered clear of the true vintage cards this time around, but I was able to find cards from several generations of Twins teams.
 It was great to get the band back together - Jacque Jones, Torii (from the first stint in MN), Corey Koskie, Christian Guzman, Brad Radke... and BOOF.
 Lots of Super Shiny deals to be had, including a 2015 Bowman's Best Brian Dozier.
Picked up some junk wax too - it was a great deal, so why not???

Saturday, June 11, 2016

A Shocking Development

I've Been Zapped! It was a surprise zapping from Zippy Zappy over at Torren' Up Cards .
 Ben Revere, leading the league in smiles!
It's kind of hard to read the name in the scan, but the prospect on the top left is Will Hurt. Would be a great name for a linebacker. Looks like he played in rookie ball for three seasons and as of 2015 was no longer in organized ball.
 The Future and present Twins were well represented - Kenny knows how to pull the prospects!
 The local paper had a clickbait article from one of its regular fly in the ointment, armchair psychologist, hot air balloon meatheads this week- and all this dingus wanted to do was complain about the Twins celebrating a win too hard. I don't recall the guy being appointed Chief of the Fun Police! In addition, he specifically called out the Twins for not developing high school pitcher Kohl Stewart fast enough. The 2013 first rounder was just promoted to AA, and is 21 years old. I guess the problem is he's not in the majors yet? I don't know- it was pretty weak and it pissed me off. There are lots of reasons why the Twins are bad. Being happy about winning a game and being in AA at the age of 21 (3 years younger than the average player) are not among them.
 Hey Look it's Joe Nathan! Chicago is taking all the last chances for Twins this year - the Cubbies signed Joe, and the White Sox have added Justin Morneau. Best of luck to both of those guys, I was thinking "Morneau to the White Sox" ever since LaRoche retired.
Nice! 1960 Topps All-Star Rookie Pitcher Jim Perry! He was the winningest active righthander in the American League at the time this card came out, so put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Kenny, thanks so much for these cards! I should have the return package heading your way this week.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Now Look What You've Done

Thanks, Topps. Right after this card came out, Sano injured his hamstring running out a routine grounder and went on the Disabled List. Coincidence? Yes, of course.
Why can't we have nice things, Twins? There's a Dozier card out "Now" as well, but I held off on getting that one, maybe I'll skip it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

1969 Topps All-Star Rookie Team

Here they are - the Topps All-Star Rookie Team, selected "by the Youth of America" following the 1969 season and featured in the 1970 Topps set. 

I have completed the run of these up through 2016 Series one, at least all regular issue cards that bear the All-Star Rookie Trophy. 

The lone omission by Topps this time around was White Sox Outfielder Carlos May, named to the team, but his card does not bear the Topps All-Star Rookie Trophy.

 Right Handed Pitcher - Mike Nagy
Rookie Card
Nagy was an unlikely starter for the Red Sox in 1969, jumping to the big leagues all the way from Single-A. The 6'3" Nagy was able to fool hitters in the American League throughout 1969, finishing with an impressive 12-2 record. His peripherals were not especially good, walking more than he struck out, and sporting a FIP nearly a full run higher than his ERA of 3.11. He hurled his only Major League Shutout in June against the expansion Royals, facing the guy that beat him out for Rookie of the Year honors (but we'll get to him later). Nagy finished second for Rookie of the Year, but was awarded AL Rookie Pitcher of the Year in 1969. In between his rookie year and 1970, Nagy was enlisted in the National Guard. When he returned to the Red Sox organization, the team had him get acclimated by starting in the minors again. He wasn't able to regain the success of his rookie year, often pitching behind in the count to batters. He would make 20 starts in 1970, then just 5 the following season. His last major league game came in May of 1974. He did have a second career in the Mexican League - in four seasons there, he compiled a 67-50 record with a 2.01 ERA and 19 Shutouts.
 First Baseman - Al Oliver
Oliver came in second place in the Rookie of the Year voting in the National League in 1969, hitting .285 with 17 homers and driving in 70 runs. He was a 7 time All-Star, including a run of 4 straight appearances in the early 80s. Oliver was the primary Center Fielder for the 1971 World Champion Pirates team. Nicknamed "Scoop," Oliver split time at first base and in the outfield throughout his 18 year career, and though he never won a Gold Glove he did have impressive range in the outfield. His best season? It might be 1974, when he hit .321 with 38 doubles, a career high 12 Triples, and 85 runs batted in. His 1980 season in Texas saw him score a career high 96 Runs and drive in 117 more - he had 209 base hits and earned his first of three straight silver slugger awards. Compare those to his 1982 campaign in Montreal - he won the NL batting title with a .331 average, and led the senior circuit in base hits, doubles, and runs batted in. That year he finished third in the NL MVP race behind Lonnie Smith and winner Dale Murphy. If you ask me, Montreal had a pair of other deserving candidates, Gary Carter (highest WAR) and Andre Dawson. Maybe they split the vote? In any case, Oliver had several good to great seasons in both leagues in the 70s and 80s.
Al shares his rookie card with Richie Hebner in the 1969 Topps Set.

 Second Baseman - Ted Sizemore
Sizemore was the 1969 NL Rookie of the Year, and the voting wasn't particularly close.  Sizemore rapped out 160 hits in his rookie season which would be a career high.He initially was the Dodgers' primary Short Stop in 1969, but poor play at second base and the acquisition of Maury Wills to take over SS, Ted became the everyday 2nd Baseman for L.A. That said, his ability to play all over diamond became a calling card as he moved from team to team. He even moved behind the plate for a few games, catching for the Dodgers in 1976. This was along with work at 2nd, Short, 3rd, and in the outfield at various points in his career. Sizemore had a 12 year career, amassing over 1,300 hits and 575 runs scored.

Ted's rookie card is shared with Bill Sudakis in the 1969 Topps Set
 Catcher - Bob Didier
Didier's most productive season came in 1969 as the NL West Division winning Braves' starting catcher. injuries derailed an otherwise promising start to his career, though he did become knuckleballer Phil Niekro's preferred receiver. Didier is still looking for his first major league home run- he had a total of 16 in 9 minor league seasons. Not exactly Crash Davis, but Didier's value to his teams was in his knowledge of the game. He became a fairly successful minor league manager, winning a pair of league championships.
Bob's 1969 Topps Rookie card was a copy editor's nightmare, Didier shared cardboard real estate with Walt Hriniak and Gary Neibauer.
 Third Baseman - Jose Laboy
Let's pause for a moment and just admire that card - nice!
Coco Laboy crushed 18 homers and drove in 83 runs in 1969. He came into the league as a 29 year old rookie - he was originally signed out of Puerto Rico in 1959 by the Giants and bounced around the minors, repeating AAA 4 years in a row in the Cardinals organization. The Expos snapped him up in  the expansion draft and made him a regular at the hot corner. His late start in the majors meant a steep learning curve. Despite leading the team in doubles in 1970, his average plummeted. He would play sparingly over a handful of seasons in Montreal, never matching his rookie numbers.
Coco's Rookie Card was shared with Floyd Wicker in the 1969 Topps Set.

 Outfield - Larry Hisle
Similar to Coco Laboy, Hisle's best seasons came in his age 29 and 30 seasons - the difference being that Hisle spent most of his 20s in the major leagues as well, having some inconsistent production and playing time before putting everything together in 1977 for the Twins. As a rookie in 1969 he hit 20 homers and stole 18 bases for the Phillies. His Achilles' Heel in his early days was the strikeout. Hisle ended up falling out of favor in Philadelphia in 1971 and saw limited playing time with the parent club. He was traded to the Dodgers, who stashed Hisle in AAA. Hisle excelled in the minors in 1972, with 23 homers and 20 stolen bases. He drove in 91 runs for his club and was poised to make a triumphant return. He was traded to Saint Louis following the 1972 season, but the Cardinals flipped him to the Twins a couple months later. In Minnesota, Hisle played all three outfield positions and posted double digit homers in all five seasons. His curtain call in Minnesota was an All-Star season in which he led the AL in Runs Batted In. He followed it up in Milwaukee the following year with a career best 34 homers and drove in 115 runs. After his playing days, Hisle won a pair of World Series titles as hitting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Larry's Rookie card can be found in the 1968 Topps set, shared with Atlanta Brave prospect Mike Lum.
 Outfield - Lou Piniella
What were the Pilots thinking? Piniella was traded to the expansion Royals from the expansion Seattle squad for a pair of pitchers. All Sweet Lou could do in response is win the AL Rookie of the Year. Piniella's playing career featured one trip to the All-Star Game, a pair of World Series rings, and the reputation for a sweet swing and a rough temper.  
 Piniella's demeanor may or may not have been the reason that he moved from Cleveland to the Senators (Texas Ranger version) to Baltimore to Cleveland again to Seattle to the Royals before exceeding his rookie service time, but it sure fueled his efforts on the field. His is better known now for his series of successful managerial stints throughout the majors, leading the Reds to a Championship in 1990 and managing some very good teams in Seattle and Chicago. He was a 3 time Manager of the Year and finished with a winning record of 1,835 wins and 1,712 losses.
Sweet Lou's Rookie card is waaaay back in the 1964 set, a card shared with 1964 Topps Rookie All-Star Mike Brumley.
Left Handed Pitcher - Bill Butler
Butler's key stat in his rookie campaign: he recorded 4 shutouts for the Royals in 1969. Those were nearly half of his wins that season. He would struggle to strike batters out in his sophomore season, and his days as as regular starter were over. He pitched in 7 different major league seasons.
Bill's Rookie card was in the 1969 Topps set - sharing the card with fellow expansion draftees Pat Kelly and Juan Rios.
Shortstop - Don Money
Would you believe me if I told you that Don Money was an MVP once? He beat out Al Oliver and future teammate Larry Hisle back in 1966 in Single-A ball. "Easy Money" was a 4-time All-Star, and compiled over 1,600 hits and scored just shy of 800 runs. He had a slick glove in the infield as well, three times leading the league in fielding percentage at third base. Money was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers following the 1972 season so the Phillies could make room for prospect Mike Schmidt. The move was mutually beneficial, as Money found a home in Milwaukee, enjoying several solid seasons. After his final season in Milwaukee, Money briefly tried baseball in Japan. He was playing well, with 8 homers in 29 games, but differences in culture and expectations led Money decide to retire and return to the states. 
Don's Rookie card was in the 1969 Topps set, shared with Pitcher Larry Colton

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I Love the 80s : 1981 Boston Red Sox

Another Week, another installment in "I Love the 80s!" This week we're looking at the Boston Red Sox. In 1980, the Sox had a winning record, but finished 5th in AL East. The following season saw some significant turnover on the roster, the record improved, but not their place in the standings.

The 1980 squad featured a solid lineup of hitters with contributions from top to bottom. Former big Red Machine part Tony Perez led the team with 25 Homers and 105 runs batted in. Not far behind was future Hall of Famer Jim Rice. The team had seven players with double digit homers, many of whom are now enshrined in Cooperstown - Rice, Perez, Carlton Fisk, and Carl Yastrezmski. The team also had a future Hall member in the rotation, 25 year old hurler Dennis Eckersley. The offense clicked, but the pitching was battered and the result was they gave up more runs than they scored.

In 1981, Fisk left for the White Sox, Lynn to the Angels. They added Carney Lansford (who led the AL in batting), and got a tremendous season from Dwight Evans, who led the AL in WAR. He finished 3rd in the MVP voting behind Rickey Henderson and winner Rollie Fingers. The Red Sox did have a strong second half, finishing just a few games behind the Brewers. A new crop of young arms (Stanley, Ojeda, Bruce Hurst) would start making an impact in the rotation and the bullpen.

The Cards:

Donruss #94  Carl Yastrzemski -  Yaz missed the All-Star game in 1980 for the first time since 1964. He had been the face of the franchise for the past twenty years, the 1967 AL MVP, and a doubles machine. by 1980, it was time for Yaz to become a mentor to a new generation of Red Sox like Dwight Evans and Jim Rice.

Topps #575 Tony Perez - The Big Dog was no slouch either. A lifetime National Leaguer, Perez came to the Red Sox in 1980 and seemed to find the fountain of youth, posting his highest HR and RBI totals since 1974 and most hits since 1971. Perez anchored first base in '80 and '81 for the Sox, providing serious pop in a powerful lineup. He would give way in 1982 to relative youngster Dave Stapleton before returning to the National league to finish out his career.

Donruss #218 Fred Lynn - Few players had come so far so quickly as Fred Lynn. He burst onto the scene in 1975, won the Rookie of the Year and the MVP award, while leading the AL in Doubles, Runs Scored, and slugging percentage. In 1980 Lynn led the Sox with a .301 average, and won his 4th Gold Glove. The only knock on his game that year was that he only played in a career low 110 contests.

Fleer #232 Dwight Evans - Evans had a pretty typical season in 1980, by his standards. His batting average was a bit low; but he got on base at a high rate, played well in RF, had 37 doubles, and produced exactly 3 Wins Above Replacement. His 1981 season was a high water mark, leading the AL in Homers (in a strike shortened season), walks, times on base, WAR, and OPS. He earned a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award.

Topps #110 Carl Yastrzemski -  Listed on the card as OF-1B, Yaz was almost exclusively used as a DH by 1980.

Fleer #238 Jerry Remy -  Remy was used in a limited role from 1979 through 1981 by the Red Sox, primarily at second base. He came over to Boston from the Angels in 1978 and had a career year - he made his only All-Star team that year. He showed a great deal of speed to that point in his career, stealing over 30 bases in each of his first four MLB seasons. He had a brief renaissance in 1982 and 1983, posting solid numbers for the Sox. He is now the main color commentator for the Red Sox T.V. broadcasts.

Topps #421 Bob Stanley - Stanley was used as a starter and a reliever in 1980, starting 17 games and finishing 21 out of the bullpen. He pitched 5 complete games with one shutout. He had 14 saves. Following the 1980 season, he transitioned to the bullpen more or less full time. He was the team's closer in 1983, making the All-Star team and saving a career high 33 games. He had identical 10-8 records in both 1980 and 1981. 

Topps #720 Fred Lynn - In 1980, Lynn was in the middle of 9 straight All-Star Appearances to start his Career. His first season in California was a rough one, seeing his batting average plummet nearly 100 points and was essentially a replacement level player. He would rebound and have several solid seasons in SoCal, though none quite matched the promise of his early career numbers.

Fleer #638 Carl Yastrzemski - As shown on the card, Yaz became a member of the 400 home run club in 1979 - hitting a 2-run bomb off Oakland's Mike Morgan in July at Fenway. His first came in May of 1961 off Los Angeles Angel Jerry Casale, and his last (#452) came in September 1983 off Rick Sutcliffe. Both of those homers were two run shots. He drove in Chuck Schilling in 1961, Jim Rice in 1979, and Wade Boggs in 1983. Now that's what makes Yaz a once in a generation talent, and he did it over three generations of players!

Next week: some other team. Who do you wanna see?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Something Wild From North of the Border

 Douglas from Sportscards from the Dollar Store sent over a packet of cards that covered all the major Minnesota Teams, past and present. The original home of the Twins and Vikings, Metropolitan Stadium!
 Speaking of Stadiums, the Vikiings have a new one starting this season, and it looks like.... Well, I don't really know what it looks like :

There you go.
 All four of these guys were first round picks of the Timberwolves - Rubio is still with the team, and is one of the more exciting playmakers in the league.... when healthy.

 Hockey! Goalie cards are awesome - I don't actively seek out hockey, but these are always nice!
 And of course there were lots and lots of Twins.
This is just a small taste - Douglas send two bricks of cards, with a ton of Twins inside.

Thanks for the #Supertrade, Douglas!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Archives Announces Its Presence With Authority!

 Topps Archives hit shelves on Wednesday, and I did not lollygag, picking up some hanging packs from Target.
 A nice callback to the 1988 Topps design, the same year the film came out. Is Bull Durham your favorite baseball film? It's definitely in the top 5 for me. I will be looking for more of these cards as the season goes on.
 A couple current Twins and a couple former Twins. It was a nice touch to change the "40" to "65" in the 1991 design, and Buxton's portrait is about as close as you can get to the feel of the original 1953 set, but couldn't they have tried to digitally turn the photo into a painting? Or paid for a person to actually do the paintings?
 The inserts call back to the 1985 set - I got all the Alomars!
 Sorry, I had to hang onto these, despite having lots of Braves and Red Sox collectors to trade with. These were too good to part with.
A page worth of keepers, always nice to see the Expos get a little love.

The cards are still "delicate" like last year - I could be wrong, but they feel a little less dainty than 2015, but still pretty soft and susceptible to dings and dents. 1991 is one of my favorite designs, so I expect to pick up a few more singles of that design as they pop up around the card shows and websites.