Saturday, February 29, 2020

Johnny On the Spot

Yet another awesome mailer came to me recently from Johnny's Trading Spot.  Where do we even begin?

Well, how about a bat rack card? The rest of this post is all Twins, so brace yourselves:

There are always a big stack of parallels, these have been dressed up inside and out with the parallel and the airbrushed uniforms.

Variety is always in full effect, with prospects old and young.

I have more Kirby Puckett cards than any other player, but I think the Silver Signature was new to me, and possibly all three in the middle row - too many subsets and special editions in the 80s and 90s!

These two were both new to me, as there weren't any to be found in my cereal box these days.

One of my favorite eras of Twins baseball was 2000 to 2005, always a treat to add cards from that half decade.

Did I mention parallels?

This is a great card, probably my favorite of the stack. Love the soft focus background. Terry Felton started his MLB career with 16 straight losses, leading to his exit from baseball prematurely. At the time of his retirement, he was also the Toledo Mud Hens all time leader in wins, which unfortunately did not translate to success in the majors. Both his 16 game losing streak to start his career, and 0-13 record in 1982 are major league records.  He did record 3 saves in 1982, but by the time this card was released, so was he. Felton went on to become a detective with the Baton Rogue, LA police.

To give a sense of the varied nature of this mailer, here is a sampling of the brands and years included. Thanks again John!

Friday, February 28, 2020

Free Stuff Friday #4 Back Again (bonus hockey page)

Inspired by the generosity of Jon at A Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts, here is the fourth in what I hope will be a regular series of "Free Stuff Friday."

If you see a card you want, claim it in the comments below and I will send it to you in a PWE. 

Claim 1 or claim them all!

Hey look! 2017 Topps. These are a mix of Series 1, Series 2, and Update.


Top Left is a Team USA card from Donruss, numbered to 299. The top Right is an "Orange Sparkle" Parallel from 2015 Topps Complete Sets. I am looking for the Kennys Vargas card of this variety. It is numbered to 179.

I don't know if anyone collects cards that feature uniform numbers, but here's 9 cards in case you do!

As requested, here's a page of Hockey! I have a lot more like the top row, but I figured cards closer to this decade would be more desirable. The middle card is a "Yellow Taxi" Parallel from 2019-20 Upper Deck Allure. The set looks a lot like Panini Prizm to me...  I will keep posting a hockey page if any of these are claimed, and/or another request comes in for more.

Let me know in the comments if there is a particular mini-collection, or year, or brand, or sport  you want to see next! 

If we haven't traded before, please send me your mailing address. My blog has a contact form on the sidebar (you might have to view the web version rather than mobile...)

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Ordering up a Barrel of fun!

There's no limit to the wonders that await you on the world wide web. Something that would be inconceivable to us in 1982 when this card was released is a website called Cardbarrel. I used the site in the past when it was known as "Just Commons" to knock off some junk wax wants, and now I am back since COMC is no longer an option for me.

See? Look how fun that is! I purchased about 60 cards in all, and it cost under $20 including shipping for everything.

It wasn't all 80s cards either, I found a fair amount of recent items as well. A lot of what I picked up will be featured in future "I love the 80s" and Topps All-Star Rookie posts. I had been using COMC to fill out those gaps in my collection, but they are now dead to me. Oh well!

Hey Look! Willians Astudillo! Can't beat that. I'll be back on Card Barrel again soon to add more cards to my cart.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Free Stuff Friday # 3 - Oh Brother

Inspired by the generosity of Jon at A Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts, here is the third in what I hope will be a regular series of "Free Stuff Friday."

If you see a card you want, claim it in the comments below and I will send it to you in a PWE. 

Claim 1 or claim them all!

2018 Topps, Series 1 and Series 2 - If there's a particular year you want to see here, please indicate it in the comments below, if not I'll just cycle through the next year each week, as long as I have 9 cards to post! 

Parallels! Prince is numbered to /299, Tim Hudson is numbered to /2000.

The Giancarlo Stanton is a red Parallel Insert - not serial numbered, but still nice!!

This week's mini collection - brothers! I am visiting my brother this weekend, so I figured I would put together a small stack of baseball playing bros for you to pick from. Not a lot of variety as far as years go, these are all from 88 to 92, but there's always next week!

Let me know in the comments if there is a particular mini-collection, or year, or brand, or sport (all baseball unless someone requests something else...)! 

If we haven't traded before, please send me your mailing address. My blog has a contact form on the sidebar (you might have to view the web version rather than mobile...)

Thursday, February 20, 2020

How The Twins Maeda Lemonade Outta Lemons

Topps printed these out after all! I wasn't sure if they would, given that the "wild three-team deal" turned into a pair of two team trades. The wild part was certainly true. Kenta Maeda, Alex Verdugo, Brusdar Graterol, Mookie Betts, and David Price all ended up in new organizations after all, but it took some doing on the part of all parties combined.

Topps is playing the game of two truths and a lie here... 

Speaking of trading and the Red Sox . . . Matt of Diamond Jesters! Please send me your mailing address. I have your Free Stuff Friday cards just chillin in an envelope ready to go. 

I am going out of town this weekend, so the cards for tomorrow's Free Stuff Friday might take a little longer to find their way into the hands of you, loyal readers. But fear not! 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

I Love the 80s : 1981 Baltimore Orioles

This is a series of posts on a 1980's Frankenset. Each page features a different team, with 9 of my personal favorite cards from that year's team. You might find players repeated, you'll definitely see brands repeated, but hopefully you'll agree that there are some interesting selections from the 1980s!

In 1980, The Orioles finished in 2nd place in the AL East though they did win 100 games. The following season they would once again play runner-up to the Yankees, with a 2nd place first half. They faded a bit in the second half of the season following the strike, with a 28-23 record which was 4th best in the division. 

The Orioles had a legacy dating back to the mid 60s as a top AL East Contender. Staff Ace Jim Palmer was a direct line from those 60s teams, having debuted for Baltimore in 1965. Mark Belanger was along for the ride as well, the team's everyday shortstop since 1968. More recently, Al Bumbry and Eddie Murray joined the team in the 1970s. Murray would be a foundational cornerstone for the new dynasty that was just getting started in the 1980s.

The Cards:
Drake's Big Hitters #6 Eddie Murray - The Switch Hitting Slugger Steady Eddie had a phenomenal 1980, just a couple years removed from his Rookie of the Year campaign. 1980 saw Murray achieve career highs with a .300 average, 100 runs scored, 32 homers, and 116 RBI. 

Topps #425 Al Bumbry -  The 1973 Rookie of the Year had a great 1980 season as well. He led the team in stolen bases and a .392 OBP as the O's leadoff man. He scored 118 runs and had 205 base hits, making his lone All-Star apprearance. Even in the strike shortened 1981, Bumbry would steal 22 bags. He would retire in 1985 after one season with the Padres. 

Kellogg's 3-D Superstars #2 Jim Palmer - Palmer was nearing the end of his illustrious career in 1980, but still a very effective lefty righty starter. He was technically not the team's best starting pitcher that year, but the wealth of experience he brought to the starting staff was invaluable. He sported a 16-10 record with a 3.98 ERA. 1981 was a bit of a lost season, but he would bounce back in 1982, leading the AL in WHIP and winning percentage with a 15-5 record. 

Topps #210 Jim Palmer - The lefty righty with the golden arm was a 3 time Cy Young award winner, 3 time World Series champ, and 4 time Gold Glove winner. He won 20+ games in 8 seasons, and was elected to the Hall Of Fame in 1990, his first year of eligibility. He nearly became the first active player enshrined in Cooperstown when he attempted a comeback in 1991, but he wasn't named to the final roster and ultimately stayed retired.

Donruss #591 Steve Stone - The team's ace in 1980 was Steve Stone. He won 25 games for the Orioles that season, no O's pitcher has matched it since then. Stone was part of the trade that sent Ron Santo to the South Side. The heavy workload in 1980 (250 innings pitched) took its toll on Stone's arm. 1981 would be his final season, though he would go on to a second career alongside play by play announcer Harry Caray with WGN.

Fleer #180 Dennis Martinez - El Presidente was used both in the starting rotation and in relief for the Orioles in 1980, starting 12 games and appearing in 13 more out of the bullpen. The role was somewhat surprising given that he led the AL in complete games and innings pitched in 1979, and would lead the league in victories in 1981. Martinez was the first person from Nicaragua to play major league baseball, and his 245 MLB victories were the most by a Latin American pitcher at the time of his retirement, surpassed only by Bartolo Colon.

Fleer Star Stickers #117 Eddie Murray - Eddie Murray would hit over 500 career homers and eclipse 3,000 career hits, joining an exclusive club with Willie Mays and Hank Aaron to reach both milestones during his playing days. Murray was never voted as the league's MVP, but he finished 2nd two times and was a top 10 finisher eight times. He is the All-Time MLB leader in intentional walks. 

Donruss #475 Tim Stoddard - The team's closer in 1980 with 26 saves, Stoddard appears to have been lost in a sandstorm on Tatooine, never to be seen again. But he would actually appear on major league rosters for another 9 seasons, though his 1980 campaign was probably his best year. 

Topps #615 Rick Dempsey - Orioles catcher Dempsey was a world series champion in 1983 and 1988, winning MVP honors for his .385/.467/.923 slash line in the 83 series. A career .233 hitter, Dempsey was best known for his excellent defensive skills behind the plate. He is one of just 29 MLB players (and just 3 catchers) to play in 4 different decades in the major leagues. He is the Orioles' all-time leader in games caught.   

Friday, February 14, 2020

Free Stuff Friday # 2 - Double dippin with 2020 Vision

Inspired by the generosity of Jon at Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts, here is the second in what I hope will be a regular series of "Free Stuff Friday."

If you see a card you want, claim it in the comments below and I will send it to you in a PWE. 

Claim 1 or claim them all!

Sorry for the late start, work was a real bear. 2020 is out and here's a selection from Series 1 for you to snap up.

Parallels Universe! DeJong is /299, Upton is /999. Lee is the black border parallel, Realmuto is a rainbow foil.

How about a Teddy Ballgame Insert? All are from 2019 except "Archetypes" which is from 2015.

Mini collection time! Double Plays are a fun way to end the day. I'll try to incorporate a different mini collection each week.

I will take recommendations / requests for next time in the comments as well. Want a particular sport, or year, or brand? Let me know and I'll try to incorporate it next time. 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Which 70s Set Should I Build? 1973 Topps edition

I've been trying to decide which 1970s set to start building for my next vintage set build, but I can't seem to make up my mind. So, I'm going to take a little closer look at what I already have in my collection and try to narrow it down.

I don't know about you, but I rarely see cards from this set in good condition. Which is to say, most cards I've encountered from the set are in G-VG condition, or worse. I feel like my opinion of this set has been tainted by all the faded colors and rounded corners and creases. Is this a thing? Are the cards of this set notorious for bad condition, or is it just me?

The big name rookies in this set of course share a card at the end of the set, Ron Cey and Mike Schmidt. There are quite a few more less famous rookie cards in this set, such as Buddy Bell above. Also included were Dave Goltz, Goose Gossage, Gary Maddox, Rick Reuschel, and Gary Matthews.

I have a 1973 Wantlist, but it's not to complete the full set, it's just a list of cards I thought I'd like to add to my collection at some point.

1973: 10, 13, 35, 45, 50, 52, 72, 73, 86, 90, 92, 97, 111, 130, 150, 151, 152, 155, 160, 171, 174, 180, 190,  210, 220, 231, 236, 253, 263, 265, 273, 280, 300, 307, 320, 322, 330, 333, 360, 376, 378, 380, 384, 420, 431, 440, 447, 452, 468, 495, 498, 518, 545, 568, 574, 575, 597, 599, 615, 627

The card backs look good to me. Players with longer careers, like Frank Robinson, still get their full MLB career on the back with room for a cartoon and a little blurb. 

Here's a full page of my favorites from the set already in my collection. I have never been a very big fan of this set. I do like the positional pose logos on the fronts, but there's just something about the cards themselves that look amateurish to me - like they were printed poorly, on less than the best card stock. 

What do you think are the Pros and Cons of the 1973 Set? I'd love to hear your opinion!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Hats Off To The Card Show!

In a collecting world that pushed more and more towards online sales, I am grateful for the Local Card Shop and Local Card Shows. I am very fortunate to live in a region that has a number of both shops and shows. The Online card buying experience has been lacking lately, whether it's getting damaged cards from eBay, empty unsealed envelopes from Topps NOW, and the recent COMC debacle (they have still not provided an update about my missing order from December 2nd...). But going to a card show, with all the sights sounds and smells can remind me what drew me back into the hobby six years ago.

File these under "just in case." Graterol's status was still up in the air in the Red Sox trade on Saturday morning. By the time I got home, the deal was dead, and I was looking forward to seeing him in the Twins bullpen in 2020. By the time I made it into work, everything was back on again, with a little twist.

On "Twins Twitter" there was a lot of chatter about trading away Eddie Rosario for pitching. Even if I thought that was a good idea, let me remind everyone that there are guys still available in free agency that can duplicate Rosie's numbers. But more importantly, he's awesome and you can't have him! This auto is numbered to 50 copies.

Switching gears, I am always up for adding new Barry Sanders cards to my collection. I'm still very hesitantly wading into vintage basketball. The trouble is that I don't know the players from 70s ABA/NBA the way that MLB players from that era are so much more recognizable. Does anyone know of some good books about the ABA?

The Timberwolves were never better than during the time Sam Cassell was on the roster. Obviously it was Kevin Garnett's team, but the addition of Cassell and Latrell Sprewell made the team a championship contender for the first (and only) time.

I don't really collect football at all, but my goodness, how could I not add this card to my collection?

Jim was good at football.

I found a box of O-Pee-Chee! I was hoping to snag a 1972 Gil Hodges, but these were a nice surprise and consolation prize.

Sometimes I do these things on purpose - adding a '63 and a '73 of the same player at a show. Other times, I don't realize until I'm organizing the cards to scan them.

I went after some newer stuff as well. The image variation on the Scherzer card is stupid, but I tend to like stupid.

Even after losing Graterol, I am still excited for the future roster of the Minnesota Twins. Arraez has arrived, and 2019 First rounder Keoni Cavaco could be a short stop away from the big leagues.

Last but not least I went outside my usual comfort zone to add this 1990s insert of Barry Bonds. It is very shiny.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

I Love the 80s : 1981 Atlanta Braves

This is a series of posts on a 1980's Frankenset. Each page features a different team, with 9 of my personal favorite cards from that year's team. You might find players repeated, you'll definitely see brands repeated, but hopefully you'll agree that there are some interesting selections from the 1980s!

In 1980, Atlanta finished in 4th place in the NL West (that's right, West) with an 81-80 record. The following season they would win 25 games in the first half, then 25 more following the strike. It led to a 5th place finish for the team whose games were now aired regularly on a relatively new medium - satellite television. 

Ted Turner owned the team and a television network then called SuperStation WTBS, based in Atlanta. 1980 was the year the station began airing it's own original programming, including a short lived comedy show featuring locals Bill Tush and future SNL cast member Jan Hooks. It was a heady time in Atlanta! The baseball team, was getting national attention for being on T.V., but not so much for their performance on the field. Manager Bobby Cox would be let go following the 1981 season, having never finished higher than 4th place. The team would find success the following year under Joe Torre, but would not make the post season again until 1991, after Cox had returned as manager.

The Cards:
Donruss #99 Bob Horner - In 1980, the 22 year old slugger would lead the team in homers with 35, then repeat the feat in 1981. Horner hit 4 homers in a single game in 1986, his final season with Atlanta. Horner was the #1 Overall pick in 1978, and bypassed the minors completely. He would win the 1978 Rookie of the Year award, and was a fearsome slugger throughout the early and mid 80s. Collusion robbed him of a 1987 MLB contract, so he crushed 31 homers for a season in Japan. When he returned to the states, an injury shortened season in St. Louis ultimately became his last. He would retire having never appeared in a minor league game. 

Donruss #597 Tommy Boggs - Tommy was the Opening Day Starter in 1981, following a career year in 1980 when he posted a 12-9 record with a 3.42 ERA. Boggs was acquired by Atlanta in a crazy 4 team trade that involved Bert Blyleven going to Pittsburgh, Al Oliver to Texas, Willie Montanez to the Mets, and several other minor players switching between the 4 participants. Boggs was not much of a hitter, though he did slug a solo homer in his first year with Atlanta. A first round pick of Texas in 1974, his first two major league starts were complete games.  

Donruss #339 Jerry Royster - Following several seasons starting at 3rd and 2nd base, Royster spent 1980 all over the field for Atlanta, used as their utility player. He led the team in steals, with twice as many as the next player on the team. Despite being used in a reserve role throughout the 80s, Royster still finished his career with over 1,000 career base hits. He had a successful stint in the Senior Professional Baseball League, hitting .337 in his lone season there. He would go on to be a steady coach and manager, and was even a pioneer of sorts when he was named manager of the KBO Lotte Giants, the first foreign born manager in the Korean league. He led that team to their first playoff appearance in nearly a decade.

Topps #387 Phil Niekro - Niekro was the 1980 winner of the Roberto Clemente Award - the first pitcher so honored. He had the dubious record of having led the NL in losses 4 straight years by the end of 1980, but that can come with the territory of being a Knuckleball pitcher. He also led the NL games started those years, as well as complete games, innings pitched, and batters faced from 1977 through 1979. He was a 20 game winner 3 times in his career and is the all-time leader in victories for a knuckleball pitcher. He finished in the top 10 in Cy Young voting in two of those seasons, and won Gold Gloves in 78, 79 and 80. All told he won 5 Gold Gloves and was on 5 All-Star teams. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1997.

Topps #504 Dale Murphy - 1980 and 81 were the beginning of something great for Dale Murphy. He started his career as a catcher and was being moved farther and farther from home plate as the years went on, finding that Center Field would be the place to find his greatest success. 1980 was his first All-Star appearance, but starting in 1982, he would go on a run of 6 straight All-Star seasons. He was the MVP of the NL in 1982 and 1983. He would lead the NL in at least one major offensive category in each of those six years. He led the league in homers, runs batted in, and slugging percentage twice. He'd lead the league in Runs scored and walks once each. He was a 4 time Silver Slugger winner, and a 5 time Gold Glover in Center Field. 

Topps #247 Glenn Hubbard - Many card collectors know Hubbard from his Fleer card with the snake around his neck, but he was also a regular contributor to the 1980s Atlanta teams. Primarily a second baseman, Hubbard was an All-Star in 1983, and 5 times surpassed 100 base hits in a season. He led the NL in errors committed in 1979, but would become an excellent defender, leading the NL in range factor/9 innings 6 times. He's currently the All-time MLB leader in that defensive metric. He turned 975 double plays in his career, good for 32nd All-time. He was a member of the 1988 A's World Series roster as well at the end of his career. 

Fleer #247 Bobby Cox - His first tour with Atlanta was a rough one- he compiled a decent record of 266 wins and 323 losses. While he was improving the team from a 90 loss club to a .500 club, the success of his rebuilding efforts would not be realized while he was the manager. The team would win the NL West in 1982, one year after his departure, no doubt due in part to his leadership in the leaner years. He would get a second chance however in the 1990s and would make the team a dynasty. He was a 4 time manager of the Year winner, and finished in the top five in voting 18 times over his career. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014. 

Fleer #254 Bill Nahorodny - Atlanta's 3rd string catcher in 1980, Nahorodny slugged .414 in limited duty behind the plate. He was the catcher for the 1978 Topps All-Star Rookie team, a squad which was denied the little trophy on their 1979 Topps baseball cards. Despite being used sparingly, he was able to rack up extra base hits for Atlanta in 80/81. He would move on to Cleveland, Detroit, Seattle, and Philadelphia in the following years, though he'd spend more time at those orgs AAA Affiliate than the big league club. 

Fleer #251 Garry Matthews - "Sarge," as he was known to fans and teammates, was playing in his final season for Atlanta in 1980. An All-Star in 1979, and the 1974 NL Rookie of the Year, he was the only player valuable enough to acquire the indomitable Bob Walk in a trade prior to the 1981 season. Matthews would go on to have a great season in 1984 with the Cubs, finishing 5th in the MVP balloting while leading the NL in walks, OBP, and Sac Flies. He scored 101 runs that season, the only time he surpassed the century mark in his career. His son would do the same in 2006 in an All-Star campaign for the Texas Rangers. 

Do you have any fond memories of the 80/81 team? Did you watch the SuperStation?

Saturday, February 8, 2020

2020 Topps Series I First Impressions

Finally found some 2020 Topps Series 1 today at the card show - I purchased 2 Hobby packs and some assorted singles. Kyle Schwarber gets the nod as the first card from the first pack.

The backs are a slightly less fun, less colorful version of the 2019 backs. Like last year, design elements from the card front carry over to the back, and there is an attempt to retain team specific colors front to back. It was Lost Collector's tweet that I read this morning pointing this out first, but the other immediately noticeable difference this year is the gloss on the front of the card. These cards are treated on the surface with... something. My hope is that it doesn't have any long term effects on the card fronts, like causing the cards to bow or fade or ... I don't know what. They feel kind of creepy to sort. 

To refresh your memory, here are the last four designs of the 2010s. 

There are some good photo choices and decent framing of those photos in Series 1.

Rookies rule the world this time around, the best two in my 2 packs were hurlers Dylan Cease and Jesus Luzardo. Omar Narvaez is playing at Target Field, with a cameo from Jason Castro.

Ramon Laureano has a familiar photo - this was the same shot used on a Topps NOW card last year. The cool thing about that it is it makes identifying the play much easier. This was Topps NOW #119, from April 21, 2019. Laureano robbed Teoscar Hernandez of a homer, then flung the ball back to the infield. It could have been an error, but the expansive foul territory in Oakland allowed for the ball to stay in the ballpark again, and the A's turned a double play by gunning down Justin Smoak, who was trying to advance to second on the errant throw.

The insert from the packs were a Cleveland Best Teams of the 2010s card, and the Robin Yount above. The best card I found in either Hobby pack was the Pete Alonso Rookie Cup card. Browsing singles, I added the Ichiro and Aquino 1985 inserts. I think I'm collecting Aquino now, why not?

No Twins at all pulled, so I added this Turkey Red insert of Eddie Rosario. Rosie is not in the Series 1 base set, but you are all on notice now -- I am going all in on a ROSIE RAINBOW for 2020 Series 2. 2020 VISION -- ROSIE RAINBOW, ALL THE WAY!

For good karma, I will take this opportunity to remind you to send Tom your Vogelbachs, and send Jim your Kiké Hernandezes!

Ok, that's enough yelling for one day. The Rookie Cup is back again, and it is tiny! It's the same size as last year, but somehow the design makes it look even smaller to me. I actually bought these before I found packs, so I have a 2nd Pete Alonso, for anyone wanting to trade for one.

Yordan Alvarez has the Cup and is also designated as a rookie this year, because Topps decided to save him for 2020 instead of jamming him into update.

Overall, this year's set isn't really doing it for me. I'm going to buy some retail at Target if they ever show up, or possibly at the local Walgreens, which started stocking current year Topps cards for the first time ever in 2019. Maybe they will again this year, but I won't hold my breath. Maybe I just need to see some more to decide.

Have you found any packs yet? What are your first impressions?