Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Not All Who Wander Are Lost . . .

Like Wander Javier, for instance - that's just the dude's name. Also, Julie from A Cracked Bat - she had a little wander away from the blogs for a bit, but she's back and we're all very happy to see her posting again!
Julie sent over this nice mailer last week, and it had plenty of shiny new Twins for me.
These are from 2006 - I may have purchased a couple packs of cards total that year, and none of these guys were in there.
Do not adjust your set - Fleer issued B&W and Sepia toned parallels in their Tradition set - they have an old school texture to them as well - printed on honest to goodness cardboard (probably).
Bert!! The scan is missing out on the trippy refractor-y colors on this card, it's fantastic in person.
This was probably my favorite card in the package - it's a vivid shade of blue and hopefully a future MVP on the front!

Thanks so much, Julie! This was great!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Let's Make a Deal

Wallet Card Keith Here - do you like making trades? 

Here's an example of the cards I've organized by team - these are (almost) all of my Braves - Orioles - Red Sox - Cubs and White Sox. I have similar boxes that hold all Major League Teams. The bottom 3/4 or so of this box is up for trade.  

Sure, I've got a ton of Junk wax like these. They could be yours! Team collectors, set collectors, let me know what you still need to fill in those late 80s and early 90s gaps. I am more than happy to send a "grab bag" style package of junk wax wrapped with more interesting inserts/autos/vintage/specific want list items.

But I've also got Vintage like these! There's quite a bit less of this, but again, if you're working on a specific set, let me know and maybe I have something for you. 

2016 (and in a few weeks 2017) issued cards like these! Finish those 2016 (and '15) sets!

I'm looking to pare down my collection to be just the top section shown here for each team. My Twins Collection is also bursting - I have 5 boxes just like this one with just Twins cards in them, lots and lots of doubles. (So even if you are a fellow Twins collector, I probably have something for you).

So, what am I looking for in return? I've got vintage and Junk wax want lists, several player collections, and I am always interested in unique Twins.

If you're interesting in making a trade, let me know - I will still be putting together trades for #supertraders and for folks I've been trading with over the last couple years, too.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Congrats to the Class of 2017

A long time coming for Tim Raines, on his final year on the ballot, finally getting the call to Cooperstown. Only 3 players in MLB history hit over 100 homers, 400 doubles, 100 Triples, Stole 500 bases and had an on base percentage of .380 or higher - Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, and Tim Raines. "Rock"
is still the only White Sox player to steal 50+ bases and score 100 runs in a season. He is a 2 time World Series champion with the Yankees in 1996 and 1998. He stole bases in 4 different decades! 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s. He shared the outfield with his son Tim Raines, Jr. in Baltimore in 2001. His MLB debut was a pinch running appearance for fellow Hall of Famer Gary Carter.

Jeff Bagwell had to sweat it out for several years like Raines, but was finally rightfully elected to the Hall. He ranks 4th among first baseman in WAR since 1900, behind only Jimmie Foxx, Albert Pujols, and Lou Gehrig. While he fell short of the 3000 hit and 500 homer plateaus, he is top 50 all-time in Extra Base Hits, Walks, Home Runs, Hit by Pitch, Sac flies. He lead the league in Runs Scored 3 times. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1991, and the NL MVP in 1994. He shares a birthday with the 1994 AL MVP, fellow Hall of Famer Frank Thomas. Bagwell DESTROYED left handed pitching. In his MVP season, he hit for a .457 / .544 / 1.095 triple slash with 18 homers and only 9 strikeouts. He had the 4th highest OPS+ in the 1990s, behind Bonds, McGwire, and Frank Thomas.

The only first-ballot election of 2017, Ivan Rodriguez. His MLB debut in 1991 was against the Chicago White Sox, facing fellow "Pudge" and fellow Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk. He and Fisk are the only two catchers in MLB history with over 300 homers and 100 stolen bases. He was a World Champion in 2003 with the Marlins, and helped the Detroit Tigers to play in the Series in 2005. Rodriguez was a 13 time Gold Glove winner and 14 time All-Star. He was the MVP in 1999, leading the league in Double Plays Grounded into.... but he was also able to throw out a league leading 55% of would-be base stealers. Known for his strong arm and excellent defense, he was also a consistent hitter for his entire career.

Congrats to all the new inductees!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Getting Rolling on Those Goals

This will be a quick and dirty post - I received a lot of 1964 Venezuelan Topps when I got home...
Not my best photography work, but there are the 14 new cards for my set!

And the Backs - very little glue, so I'm very happy. There were also 9 more cards in the lot that are doubles, and look like upgrades, all in all a very nice find!

I think the best addition is the Series 5 checklist, which is marked up, but nearly the last card of the set and otherwise in great shape.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Variety is the Spice of Card Show Day

Another new year, and another Card Show - I sort of wandered aimlessly from table to table this time, as you'll see there was a little bit of everything.
Fancypants gold leaf serial numbered card ...
An insert set of 21st Century Topps - not shown is Alex Gonzalez, but there's 9 of 10.
See what I mean about all over the place? I generally stick to baseball, but these were the right price.
I think I am going to start a mini collection of Stanley Cup cards.
Of course there were lots of Twins to add to my collection.
I found 4 1969 Deckle Edge inserts, just a few more to go!
I added 7 more to the 1956 Topps Set as well, we're in the home stretch! TwinsFest is in a couple weeks, hopefully I'll be able to find a little more of everything again.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Spotlight on a big trade

Johnny's Trading Spot must be making some good friends at his local post office - He's been sending great stuff all over the continent this week. I was the lucky recipient of this haul. The box above is for a limited edition set from score - I actually have that set in a binder, but who knows where the box went... this counts as a separate Kirby Puckett collectible in my book.
Every kind of item was represented in this trade- from vintage bat racks
to junk wax bat racks (check out the great Bob Walk! Matthew, I got two of these in the package, so eventually one will be headed your way to join the Bob Army)
Lots and lots of Twins
Parallel Twins
Inserts and early 80s Twins
Brand spankin' New Twins
Horizontal Heroes (That are also junk wax needs from my wantlist)!
And even more early 90s needs. Awesome stuff, John! AS always, I have to include the disclaimer that these are just a fraction of the cards that came through, I didn't want to overload the scanner or make a super long post.

Thanks again John!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

2 down, 48 to go ('64 Venezuelan)

Quick post today on my way to the first card show of 2017! I am going to make a run at building up my '64 set, so I went on eBay and ordered the two lowest hanging fruit needed for my set.
I have always been a fan of this card - DOOM!
Here are the backs, you can see the spots where the glue was used to paste these into the books distributed in Venezuela.

The seller also included the regular Topps Bauer card, so let me know if you need it (no glue on that one)!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

So Long, Trevor Plouffe

A day late on this news, but the Oakland Athletics added infielder Trevor Plouffe on a one year deal.
Plouffe was a first round draft pick of the Twins aaaaallll the way back in 2004, and made his MLB debut in 2010.
Plouffe was a Pitcher and Shortstop in High School. He spent the last half of 2004 in Single A, 2 years in Double A, and 3 years at Triple A before getting the call up to the bigs.
Plouffe has a reputation as a bit of a throwback player - and certainly he works hard. He ultimately wasn't the answer at Short, but he showed versatility and a willingness to play anywhere on the diamond. He found some consistent playing time at the hot corner, and worked diligently to improve as a defender. He has a little bit of pop in his bat, and he's going to be missed in Minnesota.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Evolution of the Designated Hitter

On this day in 1973, the American League agreed to adopt a hitter to take the place of the pitcher in the batting order. It wasn't the first time that the idea was floated. As early as the 1880s, various suggestions about replacing the pitcher with another bat in the lineup to boost offense were floated. Connie Mack brought it up again in the 1920s, with Babe Ruth and a host of other power hitters making offense more exciting, but he had very little support. It wasn't until the year of the pitcher (1968) that MLB owners started to entertain the idea with broad support. A handful of Spring Training games tested having a designated pinch hitter in 1969, but even then the National League owners had little interest in expanding it to regular season play.


Ron Blomberg, is of course the answer to the trivia question of the first player to appear in a MLB game as a Designated Hitter - he was happy to make history, but took pride in playing in the field as well.

Tony Oliva, the Twins great, benefitted greatly from the introduction of the DH rule, extending his career for several seasons after injuries made regular play in the field too painful to bear. Tony O hit the first home run ever for Designated Hitters.

Willie Horton / Rico Carty / Orlando Cepeda / Tommy Davis -

This Quartet of aging superstars were typical Designated Hitter material in the early days. Whether it was declining skill due to age or injury, the DH was often employed to extend the careers of players nearing the end of their playing days. Orlando Cepeda was nearly the first DH ever, playing in the same game as Blomberg, but he was on the home team, hitting 3rd in the bottom of the 1st inning. Cepeda's 1973 season was a renaissance for the slugger, hitting 20 homers for the Red Sox. Rico Carty was a frequent visitor atop the batting leaderboard throughout the 1960s, and managed to bounce between several teams in the 70s becoming an accomplished DH. After playing in just 41 games for 2 teams in 1972, Tommy Davis  found a niche as a DH in the 70s, finishing 10th in the AL MVP race in 1973. With the exception of his breakout 1962 campaign, Tommy was never a big power threat. His three big seasons with the Orioles featured lots of hits and solid run production. Willie Horton saved the best for last - after a decade of injuries and spending lots of time as the DH in Detroit and a whirlwind tour in 77 and 78, he became the everyday DH in Seattle. And I do mean every day, appearing in a career high 162 games. Horton hit 29 homers, the most he'd hit in a decade.


Hal McRae / Reggie Jackson / Andre Thornton / Ken Phelps

In the 1980s, the DH position started to see a little more variety, as younger and (slightly) more athletic players began to get a chance to make an impact. The prototype for that kind of player was Hal McRae, who was not only one of the best DHs of the '80s, but the 1970s as well. After being traded from Cincinnati to the Royals, McRae found himself in a crowded and fleet of foot outfield. The competition for best hitter on the team was a smaller pool, with only the great George Brett offering resistance for the title. McRae's peak ran from the mid 70s to the early 80s, and he consistently put up great numbers. Now before you laugh, take a moment to consider this about Ken Phelps. From 1984 through 1988, there were few if any Designated Hitters that matched his power and his eye at the plate. His OPS+ as a Mariner was 145! Not too shabby. His OBP was .406 in '86, .410 in '87, and .434 in '88 before being traded to the Yankees. Reggie Jackson dabbled in DHing throughout his career, but it wasn't until the '80s that it became more of a full time gig. Always a prolific hitter, his brief time as DH was enough to make him one of the more successful of the decade at the position. Yo, Andre, put that glove down, you are not going to need it. Be content with being a two time All-Star without a glove. You were legitimately feared at the plate, leading the league in intentional walks in 1982 and earning a Silver Slugger in 1984.  


Chili Davis / Paul Molitor / Harold Baines / Ellis Burks

Again we see some holdover stars from the previous decade come into their own as Designated Hitters in the next. Chili Davis seemed like the DH spot was the position he was born to play. Transitioning to the AL in 1989, he excelled as a DH with the Angels, Twins, Royals, and Yankees. All told, he played over 1100 games as a DH. Paul Molitor had some of his finest seasons as a Designated Hitter, and despite injuries that slowed him down, his motor continued to run throughout the 90s with stops in Toronto and Minnesota. Until Ichiro's 3,000th hit last season, Molitor was the only member of the club to get to 3,000 hits on a triple. He led the league with 225 hits in 1996 at the age of 39, primarily as the Twins' DH. Harold Baines was the DH of the 1990s- stints with Oakland, Texas, the Orioles, and White Sox resulted in over 1600 career games as the Designated Hitter. Baines hit for average, got on base, and had decent power. Ellis Burks. Ellis Burks? Well, that was a mistake. He did DH in over 300 games in his career, but most of that was in the early 2000s, not in the 90s. You can roast me in the comments and let me know who should have been there instead.  


Edgar Martinez / Travis Hafner / Jim Thome / Frank Thomas

Instead of Burks, probably could have gone with 3 out of the 4 of these guys... Frank Thomas was still playing first base in Chicago in the 90s, but transitioned to more or less full time DH duties in the 2000s. He finished his career with some very strong seasons in Toronto and Oakland, but will be best remembered for his days on the South Side. Jim Thome toured the AL Central, with memorable stops in Cleveland, Chicago, and Minnesota. He sprinkled in a few years in Philadelphia for good measure as well as brief stops in LA and Baltimore. His 800+ games as a DH were spent mashing taters at every opportunity. Edgar Martinez spent his entire career in Seattle, and was probably the best "pure hitter" at the DH position of all time. Edgar should have been on the 90s list, I can see that now. His 1995 campaign alone, when he won the batting title, led the league in doubles, OBP, runs scored and OPS+, was enough for him to headline the list. Travis Hafner essentially became Thome's replacement in Cleveland, and while he didn't match the production of the future Hall of Famer, he still provided tremendous pop and some outstanding seasons in the 2000s. Injuries derailed his career in his prime, though he still managed to hit over 200 career homers.


David Ortiz / Victor Martinez / Billy Butler / Kendrys Morales

Still with me? As we look forward to the rest of this decade, we will have to do it without Big Papi. David Ortiz will retire as the best Designated Hitter of all time. There are some questions about how he got his big numbers, and that kind of thing will be just fine for sportswriters to debate for years to come. His playoff performances and body of work will have to do the talking. Billy Butler has the best nickname in baseball right now, "Country Breakfast." He's also quietly amassed a fairly solid resume as a DH over the course of his career. He's not in the same conversation with Ortiz, Martinez, or Thome, but he has been an above average hitter in a league where average is pretty good. Victor Martinez might be the only MLB player the Molinas could beat in a footrace, but he still can crush the ball all over the ballpark. He's closing in on 2,000 career hits. Since coming to Detroit and throwing away his catching gear, he's put up 4 stellar seasons at the plate. Hard to say how many years he has to go, but V-Mart seems ready to give it another go in 2017. Kendrys Morales has turned in a pair of really good seasons for the Royals and parlayed them into a long term contract with the Blue Jays. It can be argued that the Jays struck too early in the free agent market, as the price for power bats seems to be at an all time low. However, Morales seems fully recovered from injuries that pushed him to the DH role in the first place, and is poised to strike again for another season of 20 plus homers.

So, who will be the next generation of DH? Big guys like Sano, Chris Carter, Chris Davis? Will we finally see some GMs and Managers try to leverage speed and OBP from no-glove guys? Will Bartolo Colon convince the AL to scrap the DH altogether? ONLY TIME WILL TELL.

Monday, January 9, 2017

2017 Collecting Goals

I made some ambitious goals for 2016, so what I've put here in 2017 may look a little familiar. I think hard to meet goals are good, it makes the year more interesting!

Here are the cards I am targeting in 2017, along with runners-up that I will chase (just not as hard/expensive):

Mickey Mantle 1956 Topps #135:

If I'm ever going to finish my 1956 Topps set, all roads lead through this card... After reeling in Aaron, Clemente, Mays, Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson and the big Luis Aparicio rookie, Mantle looms large. I will be patient. I will stalk eBay. When the time is right, I will strike!!!
Runner-up:  Mickey Mantle 1965 Topps #350

1956 Topps - Complete Set! 

I am close enough to taste it. I have less than 50 cards remaining to complete the set, and most of them are commons or minor stars. I think I can finish the set this year, assuming I can find a Mantle in my price range!
Runner-up: Complete 1969 Topps Deckle Edge Insert set

"Satchell" Paige 1953 Topps #220

I have a fair number of Paige cards in my collection (including a reprint of this card), but none from his playing days. This card hasn't been on my radar in the last year, but I'm putting it on there now. The 1953 Topps Set is literally a work of art, and ol' Satch is one of the most remarkable and intriguing baseball players of all time.
Runner up: 1949 Leaf Satchel Paige

Ted Kluszewski 1957 Topps #165

My dad grew up in Central Ohio and my whole family are Reds fans. This is one of the more iconic Reds cards from the 50s and Kluszewski is a beast. This card is probably going to be the most affordable on the list so far, but I am going to be a bit pickier on condition- I will be a stickler for really red reds and a bright, centered border. 1957 Topps cards have a tendency to fade over time...
Runner-up: 1957 Topps Frank Robinson RC

William J. O'Neil, T206 tobacco card
I've been "working" on the T206 Minneapolis Millers team set. This guy's name is very similar to mine, so he's the next guy on the list for me to chase!
Runner-up: Jimmy Collins, T206

1964 Topps Venezuela Set - add 50 cards towards completing set

My current progress on the Topps Venezuelan set of 1964 is 117 out of 370 - that's a shade over 30%. I would love to get closer to 50%, so my goal for 2017 is to get 50 more cards for the set - that would get to 45% complete, which is fairly ambitious considering I added ZERO new cards to this set in 2016...
Runner-up: Specifically the 1964 Topps Venezuelan League Leaders subset - Cards #1-12

Reduce and ORGANIZE! 
Several other collectors have stated similar goals, to get their collections into a more organized and focused state. I have lots and lots of cards that frankly are not part of my future collecting plans. The only bummer is that most of them are not really appealing to anyone. My collection of Braves, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, Blue Jays, and Pirates have been picked pretty clean through trades, most of what's left are those 80s and 90s junk wax that no team collector really needs anymore. There's a bit more variety for the other teams, but again, most of it is not anyone's first choice.
By the end of 2017, I would like to have a much better grasp of what exactly is in my collection, and what I have to offer to others in trade.