Monday, October 30, 2017

NOW That I've Had Time To Process This Season

The Minnesota Twins made the postseason for the first time in seven years, so why am I showing a White Sox card? Nicky Delmonico's 10th inning homer to walk off the Angels also allowed the Twins to clinch the 2nd Wild Card berth.

How many of these Twins can you name? Kyle Gibson and Buddy Boshers is giving each other a high five, Brian Dozier is asking Joe Mauer where the  foul line is in left field at Yankee Stadium, Kennys Vargas is being taller than everyone else.

The game itself couldn't have started better for the Twins - Dozier homered in his first postseason at bat, and the Twins scored 3 runs in that first inning.

A key point in the game came in the second inning, Byron Buxton leapt and crashed into the center field wall, taking away extra bases from Todd Frazier.

This moment was pretty much the end of the Twins' season. Buxton initially stayed in the game, even reaching base and stealing second in the third inning, but he did not return after that half inning. He was pulled from the game, replaced with rookie Zack Granite.

Topps decided to commemorate the Twins' playoff run with a 15 card set.

First Topps cards of rookies Zack Granite, Trevor Hildenberger, and Alan Busenitz.

All of the backs had the same two sentence blurb. It was a disappointing trip to New York, but the Twins have plenty to hang their hats on. It was a great season, and my hope is that they will be back next season better than ever.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Transatlantic Triple Break Double Play!

Another Transatlantic Triple Break is in the books. Matt of Bob Walk the Plank dug deep to find something we haven't seen very often, a set from 2009 called Upper Deck Signature Stars.

I mean, these guys are all stars (and All-Stars) - at least one of those guys above will stroll into the Hall of Fame. It's a somewhat limited design with all the empty space. There's a nice mix of young up and coming players and established veterans.  

Inserts are fun! My portion of break included the AL East and the NL West, which meant a healthy does of Yankees, Rays, and Giants.

I was the lucky one on this break, getting all three of the box hits! In addition to "current" 2009 major leaguers, Team USA baseball was also a big part of the set.

Manny Machado as a prospect was a pretty nice card to pull in the box.

Even younger was Robbie Ray, who was still a year away from being drafted when this card was made. He was in the trade that sent Doug Fister from Detroit to the Washington Nats, and then in the 3 team deal that netted the Yankees Didi Gregorius from Arizona. Ray had a breakout performance in 2017, making his first All-Star roster.

Matt always includes an extra trade - this time he really outdid himself. This Justin Morneau / Jason Bay dual auto is numbered to 74 - maybe they lost one of the stickers and couldn't make 75?

Another pair of Twins, Jose Berrios is going to be a big part of the Twins' plans in 2018, and Denard Span was a rising star in a great tradition of Twins Center Fielders when he was traded to the Nats for pitching.

A sweet Kevin Garnett rookie. This card is graded a PSA 8 and is still chilling in his protective case... for now.

Last but anything but least, Matt sent me a SHARP Harmon Killebrew rookie card! I did have a literal jaw drop moment when I saw this. I did have a copy of this card from Twinsfest a couple years ago, but this one is a big big upgrade.

Wait - why is this a "Triple Break Double Play?"

Kevin of The Card Papoy also had a card to send me via Matt -

This is what the kids call a "siiiiick patch." Thanks Kevin, and thanks Matt! Another successful Triple Break!

Monday, October 9, 2017

A Card Show Connection (GCRL IRL)

Jim from cards as i see them e-mailed me ahead of the show and asked if I was going (he had heard that the vintage guy was in town as well). We exchanged some small talk about the playoffs, and some small stacks of cardboard! This Miguel Sano card looks even better in hand - I think I like it even more than the autograph I bought at the show from Gold Label!

Jim found this set and picked it up for the Garvey inside, I was the lucky recipient of Bert and the Killer.

Some all-time great PC guys!

Horizontal heroes as well!

Sal Butera's son Drew also played for the Twins - Drew is still chugging along, backing up Salvador Perez in KC. Nice gig if you can get it!

A pretty sweet Joe Mauer from Topps Tribute! As always, great stuff from Jim. Thanks again, and great to see you at the show!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Saturday Was Card Show Day (The Power of One)

I came to the card show this weekend because the vintage guy that moved away a couple years ago was in town. He still has family in the area, so he makes at least one trip a year to Minnesota, which is great for collectors that like a big variety of affordable vintage. This time he brought over some fantastic things.

How could I pass up this Stormy Weatherly from 1941? It was practically a steal at eight bucks.

Brace yourself . . .

No need to adjust your screen - this card really is that washed out. Major sun damage (?) faded the card down to almost nothing. But that made Mickey a mighty bargain at just $12 bucks.

the Vintage Guy also had two boxes of dollar cards, and I snapped up a nice stack of cards.

I mean, a really nice stack.

Really, very, nice and good.

This fantastic Ernie Banks was a little bit over a buck, but not by much.

Last but certainly not least, I found the penultimate card needed for my 1956 Topps Set, Yankees hurler Whitey Ford.

The only card left to go is Don Larsen, part of the same Yankees rotation as Mr. Ford. I had a bit of a Goldilocks situation on my hands. The vintage guy had a copy of the card, but it was in terrible condition. I decided that I only want to buy that card once, so I had to pass. Another vendor had a Near Mint copy of the card, but his asking price of $50 was too much for me. I will have to finish the set another day, but I was happy to get my wantlist down to one!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Saturday is Card Show Day (Twins Wins)

I haven't been to a card show in months, so I wanted to make up for lost time. I've put together three posts from the show today covering Twins, vintage, and an in person trade with Jim (aka GCRL) from cards as i see them! Miguel Sano suffered a stress reaction in his shin that sent him to the DL to finish out the season.

Eddie Rosario hit a screaming line drive over the fence in the first inning of the AL Wild Card Game, though in the end it wasn't enough to lead the Twins to a victory in their first postseason appearance in seven years. Just a few seasons ago, Eddie was making his way to the bigs from Beloit.

Max Kepler drew a walk and hit a double in four plate appearances in his first playoff experience. He was signed out of Germany at the age of 16 and attended high school in Florida while working through the Twins' minor league system.

Vargas made the postseason roster, and was available to pinch hit if they were close late, but it was not meant to be.

His future in MN is uncertain, as he ran out of minor league options at the end of the 2017 season.

Vargas was interviewed following the Wild Card game, and he was aware of the situation he finds himself in. He stated he would be interested in opportunities in Japan or South Korea if available - two years ago, he rebuffed offers from clubs overseas in hopes of making his mark with the Twins. I hope he can stay in the majors, but it seems possible that he will once again find himself on the outside of the 25 man roster.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Playoffs?!? Are you Kidding Me?

I did a write-up of the Twins' 2016 season around this time last year, and things were  . . . bleak. The title of that post was "The Nightmare Is Over," for a little perspective.

This year, the Twins made history - going from 100+ losses in one season, to the playoffs the next. Let's take a look at tonight's lineup:

Leading off, Second Baseman Brian Dozier. While he may not hit for average or get on base at the rate of the great lead off hitters, he has managed to score over 100 runs in each of the last 4 seasons. For perspective, he's the only MLB player to do that. He's the Twins' All-Time Leader for homers by a second baseman, as well as the All-Time Team Leader in homers to lead off a game.

Batting second is the only guy on the active roster that was in the lineup for the last Twins' postseason appearance, First Baseman Joe Mauer. Joe, of course has all kinds of records as a catcher - the first catcher to win a batting title (he has three of those), AL MVP in 2009, a three time gold glover behind the plate, 6 All-Star games, the list goes on. This year has seen a rejuvenated Joe Mauer, hitting over .300 for the first time since 2013. His defense at first base has also been exemplary. He led AL first basemen in UZR, and had just 2 errors. He just surpassed 400 career doubles, and looks poised to collect his 2,000th career hit early in 2018. Also, that ball was fair, Cuzzi!

Batting Third, one of the more unlikely middle-of-the order bats, Shortstop Jorge Polanco. Polanco was hitting just .213 for the season on August 2nd, with just 3 homers. In the two months since, he's hit 10 homers and lifted his season average up to .256. Over the course of the season he firmed up his defense as well, after an "adventurous" first half.

 Hitting clean up is Left Fielder Eddie Rosario. He burst onto the scene in Minnesota in 2015, hitting a home run on the first pitch he saw in the big leagues. He's made big strides at the plate this season, bumping up his batting average and OBP by 30 points each, drawing more walks in 2017 than his past two seasons combined. He also hit a career high 27 homers this year, good for third on the team behind Miguel Sano and Brian Dozier.

Batting fifth is Miguel Sano's replacement at the hot corner, Eduardo Escobar. "Mighty Mouse" has provided quite the lift filling in for the Twins' All-Star, cracking 21 homers of his own. During the month of June, Escobar crushed opposing pitching with a .354 average. Since September 1st, he's hit 9 homers and has been scorching hot, slugging .588. He's played decent defense as well, taking the sting out of missing one of the game's brightest young stars.

German Born Right Fielder Max Kepler will bat sixth for the Twins. Kepler has basically replicated his rookie season, though he played in about 50 more games this year, staying in the majors all season. His weakness to this point in his career - left handed pitching. Against righties, he's hit .261/.334/.475 with 32 of his 36 career homers. Against lefties, he's hit just .176 in his career, and this season just .152. Beyond that, He's been a plus defender in Left, and has a sweet line drive swing.

Byron Buxton will bat seventh and patrol center field for the Twins tonight. He's among the fastest players in baseball, and his defense is at times other-worldly good. His Defensive Runs Saved, Range Factor, and total Zone Runs led all CF. He stole 29 bases in 30 attempts. The one time he was caught? He actually overslid the base after beating the throw. He greatly improved his approach at the plate and had career highs in all categories, even after a brutal  4 for 49 start to 2017. Enjoy watching this superstar tonight!

Catching and batting eighth is Jason Castro. The long time Houston Astro signed with the Twins as a free agent in the off season, taking the place of Kurt Suzuki. Castro's calling card has been his ability to frame pitches. His numbers this season haven't really borne out that conclusion, though his defense overall has been a vast improvement for the team over seasons past since Mauer moved to First Base. His hitting has not been particularly noteworthy, however that's rarely the case for catchers (the Twins' opponent tonight being an exception, of course).

Batting ninth is the Twins' Designated Hitter, On Base MACHINE Robbie Grossman. Grossman broke his thumb in a collision with Buxton that looked a little like the photo above. Robbie missed a bit of time down the stretch, but returned in September and even saw some late season action in Right Field. As a Twin, he's reached base at a .372 clip - good for a top ten ranking among All-Time Twins.

No surprise here, the Twins have turned to their best starter to take the hill tonight, Ervin Santana. He led the league in complete games and shutouts this season, and made the All-Star team for the second time in his career. Watch for his slider - if it's on, the Yankees are in for a long night.

It's been a long wait for playoff baseball in Twins Territory, I'm hoping for an exciting game tonight!