Tuesday, September 13, 2016

I'd Like to Buy a Vowel (aka Cards from Big Tone)

So, maybe you know Tony, aka Big Tone of the fun blog, Tony's Sports Pub?  I know of Tony because A.) He's a fellow Mets fan, B.) he's a fellow baseball card blogger and, C.) he's a toy enthusiast.  I can dig all of those things.  Thus, I'm a fan of his work.

Anyhow, I sent him a measly PWE with some Markakis and Canseco cards a while back because, well, what do I need them for?!  Plus, Tony's a cool guy and I like sending cards to cool guys.

Well, I certainly didn't demand/want/expect him to send anything back my way.  That was never my intent.  But, of course, I'm writing a blog post so you know something extraordinary happened.

For starters, how about the auto-patch in the lead-off spot?  My first of these, and I'm certainly not disappointed in how it looks and feels in hand.  I always thought these were actual relics cut from real jerseys, but I'm just not a very smart man, apparently.  That doesn't take away from the joy of this incredibly neat collectible in any way.

Already, this was way more than Tony should have sent me.  Yet, this was just part of the goodie bag of stuff he mailed me.

One of my all-time favorite Mets, Edgardo Alfonzo.  Back problems cut short what probably would have been a much longer and much more impressive career for the former All-Star.  But, the few sensational seasons he had were more than enough to endear him to me.

This guy, on the other hand, was kind of a bustola.  I think expectations for ol' Kaz were a bit lofty, especially since the shadow cast by fellow countryman Ichiro Suzuki was so great.  I can remember reading reports prior to Matsui's arrival, heralding him as the "Japanese Jeter."  Talk about unfair!  Anyhow, a totally cool card of a guy who at the very least is a colorful piece of the Mets tapestry.

Talk about colorful.  The unique name would have been enough, but he had the ego and personality to accompany it.  I remember he had a walk-off grand slam against the Dodgers one time -- I think it may have been during the 2013 season?  I can't be sure.  Distinctive autograph, J.V.!

Whoa, that's quite a haul!  But, believe it or not, there's still more!

This isn't a reprint.  No sirree.  This is actually Jose's 2001 Topps Traded rookie!  If I bothered to make a 'Most Wanted' list, assuredly this would've been safely nestled into the top 10.  What a tremendous card!

Limited to just 660 copies each, this is a white refractor of Joe Smith.  Ya know, I can't say I have any other white refractors in my collection.  Good pickup!

Regular 2007 Topps Chrome of Moises Alou.

Normal base card?  Nope, it's actually from the factory issued Mets team set!

I'll finish up with Bartolo Colon from 2014 Gypsy Queen, which I think was my favorite GQ edition yet.  Something about the design just clicks with me.

Actually, one more piece to this plentiful package from Tony...

Tone, you'll have to fill me in on this one -- is this a TTM or an in-person get?  Either way, you picked a great card to get autographed!  These Score 'Dream Team' cards were always a hoot.  I've always like Viola, a New York boy through and through.

Well, you've certainly taken "above and beyond" to a whole new level, Tony.  I can't thank you enough for this amazing assortment of loot!  I certainly don't deserve all this, but I'm thankful for it and I greatly appreciate it!


Monday, September 5, 2016

Four Topps, #516

Happy Labor Day!  The 'unofficial' end of summer is upon us, but there's still plenty of baseball left to play.  And, of course, there's never an off-season for card collecting, right?

So, in honor of the holiday, hows about we fire up the Four Topps engine?

Today, we'll take a look at card No. 516 from each of the following Topps sets: 1987, '88, '89 and '90.  In other words, the four sets that broke me into collecting as a young lad.  Which year will bring us the best card?  Only one way to find out...

And, away we go!


A good way to begin!  In terms of Topps sets, 516 isn't exactly a glamour number.  But, the '87 set gave us an eight-time All-Star.  This represents Simmons' next-to-last Topps card and his first in an Atlanta uniform.  While Fleer, Score and Upper Deck saw fit to include him in their 1989 offerings, Topps said 'so long' to Ted in their '88 release.  Hey, Stat Man: Batted just .252 in 76 games for Braves in 1986 following a preseason trade from Milwaukee.


A perennial Gold Glove recipient during his early career in Texas, Sundberg's best days were behind him by the time this card came out.  As far as the flagship sets go, this is Sundberg's first time being pictured in a Cubs uni.  The backstop was a Royal in the '87 Topps set, but also was included in the '87 Traded set where he donned Cubbie blue for the first time.  The following year marked Sundberg's final appearance on a baseball card. Hey, Stat Man: His game-tying pinch-hit grand slam spurred an eight-run 8th inning en route to a 12-8 Cubs victory over San Diego, 7/8/87.


Here's one of those guys who kept changing his name.  Well, actually, it all depends on the card manufacturer. On every Topps or Bowman card, he's listed as "Eddie" (his given name) while the other companies (Fleer, Donruss, UD, etc.) have him as plain old "Ed" throughout the years  Strange!  No matter what you call him, though, the sure is a swell jacket!  Hey, Stat Man: Scattered eight hits and fanned five batters in complete-game 5-2 victory at Philadelphia, 9/3/88.


No, not that Tim Leary.  His one and only card in a Reds uniform, this Tim Leary later was featured in the 1990 Traded set as a member of the Yankees.  Did you know Leary was originally a draft pick of the Mets?  And that he was taken second overall in the 1979 draft?  In classic Mets form, the club rushed him to the majors following a tremendous debut season on the farm.  He hurt his elbow in his first big league start and was never the same thereafter.  Hey, Stat Man: Went 2-7 in 14 starts following the July '89 trade that sent him and Mariano Duncan from L.A. to Cincy.

And the Winner Is:  Three out of the four players featured in today's exercise made at least one All-Star squad during their careers.  Which isn't so bad for a group of guys relegated to card No. 516.  Nonetheless, a pretty dreary lot.  I'm going to award the 'W' to Ted Simmons and give runner-up honors to Sundberg.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Nick's Picks: Pinch Hits, Grand Slams and Rocket Richard

My buddy Nick at Dime Boxes once again provided me with a PWE chock full of cardboard sunshine.  Plenty of Mets and a few player collection additions to share today.

Since one of Nick's mini-collections is "Double Dips," I had to lead off the post with this awesome action shot of Jose Valentin getting airborne to avoid former MVP Albert Pujols.  I'll go out on a limb and say that this play occurred during the 2006 NLCS.  Just a hunch.  By the way, this card receives a first-class ticket to my Horizontal Heroes frankenset!

A rather large Panini Canadian sticker from 1991.  I'm so used to the miniature size of the present-day stickers, that this one struck me by surprise.  A nice addition to the Frank Viola corner of my Mets collection which now numbers 38 cards.

It's probably fitting that a franchise as quirky as the Mets would have such a rich tradition of gifted pinch hitters. From Kranepool to Staub to Carreron to Lenny Harris, there have been some good ones in Queens!  Carreon cracked eight pinch-hit taters as a Met, which I believe is still a club record.

Speaking of record-holders, Robin Ventura holds a pretty unique record in terms of grand slam homers:

The only thing more impressive than Rockin' Robin's feat was the two-grannies-in-one-inning trick turned by St. Louis's Fernando Tatis in 1999.  Strangely enough, Tatis would play for the Mets to finish out his big league career.

I always assumed Josh Satin's initial appearance on a trading card was in the 2012 Topps flagship set.  I guess was wrong!  It turns out this one -- from 2010 Bowman Chrome -- is his true rookie.  And, thanks to this card, I discovered that Satin's also featured on one of those four-player, floating-head "Rookie Stars" cards from 2012 Heritage.  How did I miss that??

Nick's delivery also gave me my first up-close taste of this year's Allen & Ginter set...

I somehow didn't stumble across any dime boxes containing '16 A&G at the National earlier this month.  But, I'm happy to finally get my hands on a few Mets from the set.

And even an insert!  Usually, I'm befuddled by or disappointed in Ginter's insert themes, but this one I like a lot. I've always been enamored with players' jersey numbers.

The use of the word "Greats" as in "Mets Greats to Wear #31" is quite liberal here.  Undoubtedly John Franco is an all-time great Met, but Berenyi and Lynch?  Well, let's just say they were both nice players.

A mini Conforto!  My collection of Mets minis isn't vast -- I've only just completed two full pages -- but I've managed to gather some really good ones to this point.

I've not lost faith in young Mr. Conforto yet.  He's ripping up Triple-A pitching and, hopefully, will still have a big say in New York in September.

Okay, some non-Mets cardboard before we part company...

Olerud's swing is every bit as sweet even when captured on a SportFlix card!

Are any of you old enough to remember Alex Rodriguez from his playing days?

A short-time Met, Jay Bell is one of those guys who I've always enjoyed collecting.  As a glasses-wearer myself, I think I secretly always admired Bell cos he was a very good player who didn't opt for contact lenses or corrective surgery or whatever.

If you think that's strange, you're absolutely right!

This great UD Vintage insert of Vlad polishes off the terrific PWE from Nick.  The "9" patch on Guerrero's sleeve?  (I had to look it up!)  The Expos honored the memory of legendary Montreal Canadien Maurice "Rocket" Richard who passed away during the 2000 season.  Richard wore No. 9 for the Habs.

By the way, did you know the Expos have an active Twitter account?  Well, I didn't, but I'm a follower now!

As always, thanks for a fun and colorful collection of the cards, Nick.  Much appreciated!


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Another Topps Product? Sure, Why Not?!

Searching for Mets cards on Ebay brought 2016 Topps Bunt to my attention a week or so ago.  When I saw an 11-card Mets team set for a Buy It Now price of $1.50 (plus shipping) I quickly threw my imaginary money at the faceless vendor and moved on with my life.

What I didn't know is that this wasn't some sort of special set that was only available for purchase at the Topps website or whatever.  Turns out it's available quite readily at the usual retail spots for cheap.  No matter, I wouldn't change my purchase decision with that knowledge.

My feelings on this release?  I'm pleased Topps is offering another consumer-friendly baseball card product with a fresh design and some new photos.  Some bloggers I respect have opined that they would prefer this to take the place of Opening Day, and I'd be all for that!  But, if they keep OD in the same format and keep Bunt as an additional thing each year, I'd be happy, too.

The card stock is kinda weak -- probably on par with those old promo cards you used to get in your packs.  But, you don't buy a baseball card called "Bunt" and expect something sturdy, right?  Certainly not for the price point.

The back. Nothing extraordinary.

As for the look, it instantly reminded me of an old eTopps design.  I suppose that's fitting since these cards are based off the Bunt computer/phone app -- of which I have zero connection or interest in.

I got a look at some of the insert sets via blogger posts and other websites and, well, they're actually pretty neat. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled at future card shows.

For now, I've got the base Mets from the 200-card set.  And, here they are...

Now, I'm probably in the minority on this matter, but I'd prefer to not have any more sets feature retired players or HOFers.  Yes, it's cool to get new cards of Mike Piazza and Doc Gooden, but I'd like to get new cards of current players even more so.  Plus, I mean, we've already got Archives, A&G and GQ for our old guys fix, right?  And it sure woulda been nice for this 2016 team set to have Familia, Duda and Colon instead of the three retired players.  But, again, that's just me.

Bottom line, Bunt is a fun cheap product in a hobby world that is lacking in fun, cheap products.  And that's a good thing.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Talkin' Baseball

When I was at the National Sports Collectors Convention a few weeks ago, I found a big stash of 1989 Topps Baseball Talk packages.  I picked out three packages that contained Mets cards and called it a day.  In retrospect, for just $1 or $2 per pack, I should have gotten many more packs.  After all, the 1989 Topps set is my sentimental all-time favorite.  But, what can you do?

Anyhow, I finally got around to busting one of these open not too long ago.  I've been kinda back logged in regards to putting together trade packages and scanning cards and updating checklists, etc.  Thus, the delay with these guys.

The cards are significantly taller and wider than your standard 2.5 x 3.5 cards, creating a crisis of proper storage.  I don't think there are pages or individual protectors made to specifically accommodate these cards, so I guess I'll need to improvise somehow.

Before opening the pack, I was expecting the cards to be much thicker than normal cards since, y'know, they're supposed to contain some sort of technology to produce sound when inserted into the special card player.  But, the card stock is virtually the same as a standard card and the fronts of the cards have basically a Topps Tiffany treatment to them.

Here's your card back.  The circular pattern thingie on the top half of the card is where your audio is embedded. The bottom half is a nearly identical reproduction of Gregg Jefferies' iconic Topps card from the '89 flagship set. The only difference is the card number (he's #233 in the flagship set) and the addition of the "New York Mets 1988 N.L. East Champs" note at the bottom of the card.

Since every package of '89 Baseball Talk indicated the cards included therein, I was also expecting a 1986 NLCS card.

Originally, I was bummed at the photo choice on this card since, well, the Mets won the damn ballgame! However, it all made sense when I realized the image on the front of the card is a reproduction of the official game program which fans could purchase at the Astrodome that day.  So, that's pretty cool.  Still, it's the ugliest "Mets card" in my collection!

Here's the back:

I'ts a good thing I was only six years old when this game happened.  I probably would've had a heart attack five times over while watching it.  And, even if I survived, Game 6 of the subsequent Series would have finished me off for sure.

The two other cards in this pack are no slouches.

I really like how the facsimile autographs look on the '89 Topps design.  This is a terrific looking card of the late Minnesota superstar.

From looking at quite a few scans of other cards in the set, every once in a while you'll get a photograph that has a lot of wasted space up top.  Kinda like in this card of the Eck.  The perils of an elongated format, I guess. Strange placement of the autograph, also.

I'll eventually open the other two packs I purchased, thereby freeing the Dwight Gooden and Keith Hernandez cards trapped within.  Then again, if I can't figure out how to properly store them, I might just leave 'em put.