Monday, October 3, 2016

Moving On

Sad to say, but the sands in my blogging hour glass are dwindling.  I've barely got the time to sit down and compose anything worthwhile, and I've become terribly back-logged in trade 'thank you' posts.  It's not fair to the good folks who take the time to send me stuff, plus the blogging in general has taken on the sour aftertaste of 'chore' and that's not what blogging should be about.

Anyhow, here's one last post to tie up some loose ends before I throw 'er into hibernation mode indefinitely.  Or, if you will, as everyone's favorite extraterrestrial did, I'll board my ship and soar back into the vastness of the cosmos.  [Ed. Note: Doubtful I'll cry as much as I did during the closing scene of E.T., though -- damn you, Spielberg!]  

Who knows, I'm sure the bug will bite me again in the (near?) future, though I can't say with any certainty.  And, rather than leave the blog dormant for a long period of time without any sort of explanation, I figure I'd at least make a formal proclamation. 

Now, that doesn't mean I'm cutting the cord altogether.  I'm still going to follow my normal lineup of blogs, and there are so many of you out there whose work I enjoy and admire.

And, you can be darn sure I'm not giving up the whole trading thing.  Heck no!  Too many good friends out there and too much fun to be had.

One such friend is Bert of Swing and a Pop-Up, who sent me a tremendously thoughtful package recently.  If we were grading on sheer variety, Bert would get an A++++ on this one.  

First, an Alfonzo jersey card.  No bias against 'plan gray swatch' here; it is Fonzie after all.  It's even serial numbered!

Then we've got these over-sized beauties...

Not one, but TWO boxloaders from this year's Allen & Ginter.  Very well done by Topps here.  I'm not a huge A&G nut, but these a beautiful!  And since they make 5x7 album pages, I have no hangups about properly storing these.

But, maybe the most interesting part of the care package from Bert were these guys...

Yup, thems be pocket schedules from back in the day!  What a fantastic collectible!  A young Mookie was certainly a drawing card in the early '80s, just before the Mets were about to turn the corner as a franchise.

Naturally, a big part of that metamorphosis was the trade acquisition of Keith Hernandez along with the big-league promotion of budding star Darryl Strawberry.  What a time that had to be for a Mets fan.  I was three-going-on-four when the '84 season began, so my recollection is nil.  

Bert, thanks a bunch for these unique items!  You're the man!


Another blogger I go back a ways with is Kerry from Cards on Cards.  I can't tell you how many great Celtics cards he's sent me in the past.  Recently, he rounded up a nice lot of Mets to send my way.

Check out some of the highlights from a fun and varied lot:

(That's Jose Valentin, in case you didn't know and/or were wondering!)

I heart Bart!

Oh no you didn't!  A little 1989 Broder action right there.

My first experience with '86 Fleer Minis.  They're even smaller than I thought, but they're pretty awesome.  Doc with the bat is tough to beat!

There were even stickers of all shapes, sizes and years.

Oh yeah, and the card that prompted a trade between us to begin with.  Like me, Kerry is a sucker for the Topps Heritage black retail variations from a few years back.  So we swapped some duplicates.  But, he was nice enough to include all those Mets (and more!) in addition.

Thanks for the terrific loot, Kerry!


And, of course, my most consistent trade partner over these past couple years is my friend Shane of Shoebox Legends who provided me with a typically wondrous PWE of Mets.

Never even knew such a card existed of Ochoa, and I pride myself on having pretty decent awareness of Mets cards from this period.  Most excellent!

Ingram, a 6th round pick in 2015, averaged better than a K per IP for Low-A Savannah this past season.  A high ERA (4.60) but plenty of promise for the young man.

Say what you want about Jose, but the Mets would be lost without him this year.  I'm glad he's back in N.Y. where he belongs.

Are you old enough to remember when Matt Harvey pitched for the Mets?  I miss #HarveyDay at Citi Field.

Serial numbered David with all sort of green sparkly special effects.  Terrific!

Panini taking us back to the wild 'n crazy '90s with some clear acetate action on this "Pinnacle of Success" insert.  Great looking card!

Blue, wavy Kevin Plawecki from 2015 Bowman.  Just how many Bowman parallels are there?!

I remember how excited I was when the Mets acquired Alomar prior to the 2002 season.  He was coming off a pretty outstanding year for Cleveland in '01.  I don't have to tell you how he fared in the Big Apple.

How about the centerpiece of Shane's package being a hockey card?  He does that from time to time and it's much appreciated since my hockey collection is minuscule.  Anyhow, Gilbert is a Rangers legend and this is my first card of his.  Epic!

As always, Shane, you've crafted a masterpiece of a PWE.  Many, many thanks!


All right, friends.  Thanks to those of you who've included my little corner of the internet among your regular or semi-regular stops over the past four-plus years.  I can't tell you how much it has meant to me.  I'm blessed to have interacted and created friendships with so many of you, and I look forward to keeping in touch moving forward.

Til next time...whenever that may be.

God Bless You and Let's Go Mets!


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!