Monday, June 30, 2014

This Bud's for You

When the King of Beers is the official beer of Major League Baseball and Topps is the official trading card of Major League Baseball, something like this was bound to happen, right?  And you know what, I don't have a bad thing to say about it!

This horizontal gem comes courtesy of my true-blue blogger buddy Marcus (Backstop Cards) who is always quick to share the wealth in terms of cards for my various collections.  Whether it be Mets, player collection favorites or cards for my numerous set pursuits, I can always count on my favorite Padres blogger.

Joining this can't-miss frankenset addition were a few other prime candidates for my Horizontal Heroes project...

The Update portion of 2011 Topps is loaded with amazing horizontal cards.  The Tosoni card in the header hails from that set, as does Matt Holliday's All-Star card here.  You can never go wrong with a few teammate All-Star cameos, and Yadi Molina and Lance Berkman flank Holliday to complete the Redbird trifecta.

Naturally, if it's a trade package from Marcus, I have to show a Friars card, right?  The pesky Eckstein is a deserving player to have at least one card in the horizontal frankenset.

It's sparkly and it has a couple happy Giants jumping around in special-edition alternate jerseys.  Whether it makes the frankenset or not, this card is a true keeper.

Though he only played two-thirds of a season in Flushing, Marlon Bryd endeared himself to many Mets fans, myself included.  I was hopeful he would return to New York as a FA during the offseason, but Philadelphia bowled him over with their contract offer.  Good for Marlon.

I love those powder blue K.C. tops, and I'm sure the players love 'em, too.  Holland is having a great season for the Royals, and it couldn't happen to a better dude.  He was pitching at Class-A Wilmington one of the seasons I worked there and he was just a genuinely friendly, nice guy.  Naturally, I'm happy for his success.

This beaut is heading for the ol' R.A. Dickey collection.  I really dig the red jerseys and the maple leaf cap.

I can cross this sweet Ryan Thompson card off my want list.  Thompson never fulfilled his immense promise, but he sure had his share of good-looking cards.

And while we're on the topic of Mets cards...

My first card of rookie right-hander Jacob deGrom!  The former 9th-round selection has a deceiving 1-4 mark through his first nine big league starts.  He's pitched way better than the record indicates and, if the Mets had any sort of lineup to support him, deGrom would have at least four wins under his belt.  I'm excited to see what the future holds for this guy.

The only thing more enjoyable than looking ahead is looking back.  And these 1990 Donruss NL's Best cards are terrific.  Ya know, if Donruss chose to do the entire '90 flagship in blue rather than blood red, I think we'd all have a much more favorable recollection of it.  Or is that just my bias towards blue and how the Mets players look juxtaposed with a blue border as opposed to red?

Not a Met, but Jose Fernandez is one of my favorite "new" players to collect.  A nice card with a fresh imagine. Say this about Bowman, at least: the cards aren't normally saddled with the same old recycled images that the rest of the Topps products are.

And, saving the best for last, a pair of 2012 black bordered Heritage parallels!

Super excited to get these!  I'm now just two cards shy of putting together four full binder pages of these bad boys.  In other words, I'll have stumbled into 36 of the 100 cards from that year's black variation checklist.  Not too shabby!

Another stellar package from The Backstop.  You da man, Marcus!


Friday, June 27, 2014

On This Date: Six Years Ago, Nine RBIs

I've been Ziste-ing like crazy lately.  Maybe I've mentioned that before.  I've got the bug and I've essentially become a recluse in my "man cave."  Sorting cards, entering all my Mets cards into my online "collection" and scanning the cards that aren't already in the library.

For someone with borderline full-blown OCD, Zistle is a dangerous thing.  Then again, it's free and it doesn't involve me snorting anything, so it's not all that bad I suppose.  Though, Mrs. K might disagree.

Anyhow, I dug into my Carlos Delgado cards yesterday and came upon the 2009 Ticket to Stardom common you see above.  A pretty blah and forgettable set overall.  I mean, it's a decent enough photo of the former New York, Toronto, and Florida slugger, yet something just doesn't click for me.

But, the front of the card isn't what prompted today's entry.  Rather, it was the back and, more precisely, the information contained therein.

It looks like we've hit the  six-year anniversary of Carlos' big day in the Bronx.  I remember working for the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Class-A, Royals) that summer and following this particular Mets/Yankees clash while I prepared the media packets for the night's minor league game.

The Mets were a disappointing 38-39 entering the day and Delgado was in a big-time slump, batting a paltry .229.   The first-bagger's fireworks came in the first game a of a day-night, two stadium doubleheader at Yankee Stadium and Shea, respectively.  The Mets won the opener, 15-6, before dropping the nightcap, 9-0.

I guess you could say that this particular moment jump-started Carlos' season and put him on the path towards end-of-season numbers that speak of a remarkable run producer.  And, in his brief tenure in Queens, he was indeed that.

Sadly, the Mets haven't managed to replace Delgado with anybody worthwhile at first base since his retirement.  This is clearly reflected in the standings over the past five or so seasons.

Okay, the voices in my head are beckoning me back to Zistle...


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Archives From the Dollar Store

So far, my lone foray into 2014 Archives was a foursome of rack packs I snagged a couple weeks ago.  I netted five of the six Mets included in the regular 200-card checklist.  The exception: David Wright.

That's where the blogosphere and a fellow Mets fan comes into play.  Douglas C. (aka Buckstore Cards) put together a most righteous PWE that included the M.I.A. card of the Mets' captain, featured on the '89 Topps design.  It's a beautiful marriage of my favorite design and my favorite player.

Also included in the envelope from my Canadian buddy...

There were a few Mets embedded in the short print portion of the 2014 Archives checklist, as well.  Among them is Mookie Wilson.  He's appropriately framed on an '86 base card design.  A pretty good-looking card.

Deckle David.  Using the exact same photograph from the base Archives card, though it's not cropped as tightly. Not the most mortal of sins, I guess.

On the other hand, the 1987 All-Star inserts.  I was excited for these when I first read about them.  But, of course, Topps whiffed big time.  Instead of making the cards glossy like their ancestors, they're just plain ol' regular Archives card stock.  Kind of a buzzkill.

And, as far as the photo choices?

Seen this one in flagship Topps already this year.

Saw this one in last year's Archives (the HoJo short print on a 1990 base card).

This one has seemingly been used a zillion times in various sets the past couple years.  Gary Carter, one of the most photogenic players ever, and we have to keep using the same snapshot.  Sigh.

I can't think of where I've seen this one off-hand--maybe it hasn't been used.  But, I'm not giving Topps the benefit of the doubt.  Shame on you, Topps!

However, in spite of it all, I do like the nod to the great rack-pack inserts from my childhood.  Could these have been better executed?  Sure, maybe someone who actually collects cards and cares about cards might have done a more thoughtful job in making these the sparklers they were meant to be.  Oh well, I guess it's at least nice that the Mets got four players in this particular insert set.

Since Douglas did such a wonderful thing by sending these my way, I'm even less tempted to buy any more Archives.  I'm sure I will at some point, but these do a fine job of scratching any itch I might have.

Oh, and one final piece to the PWE...

My favorite hockey-playing Gabriel.  If there could just be a way to get the talented young Swede to wear the blue sweater of the New York Rangers someday.

What's that?  Oh yeah, baseball.  What place are the Mets in?

Man, I miss hockey season already.

Thanks for the goods, Douglas!


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Mucho Mas: Howard Strikes Again!

About a month or two ago, I was graced with a prodigious bounty of Mets cards from Howard of the Wanted: Baseball Cards blog.

Well, recently, he struck again!  This time with a couple of team bags chock full of Mets from assorted brands and years.  A very excellent surprise, to say the least!

Here's a look at some of the loot...

Lots of great pint-sized cards, such as Topps UK (up top), Topps sticker backs, UD Goudey and Fleer Double Headers.  Some day, someone with a little common sense and a box full of mini-sized cards is going to produce binder pages to appropriately accommodate these things!

Bazooka, Leaf and MLB Showdown.  All are fantastic, but I especially dig the three Showdown cards.  I've gotta start taking these things more seriously.  From recent eBay searches, I've discovered quite a few short-terms Mets (ie Shawon Dunston) who have found their way into the Showdown card game.

I love 2004 Cracker Jack.  And I'd love to put together the set some day.  Back when blasters contained more than 7 packs (plus one bonus pack...ha!), I bought a box of the '04s the year they came out.

Oh (yeah!) Canada!  I do love some O-Pee-Chee cards!  The '88 Hernandez, which is obviously a carbon copy of its Topps counterpart, is one of my favorites from the era.  Ditto for the Straw.  Oh, and that Hundley on the bottom left is one of my new favorite cards of the Toddster.

If baseball cards and yearbook photos had a baby, you'd have Leaf Studio.  Not sure if that's something to be celebrated or not, but there you have it.

Once again, thanks for the special delivery of Metropolitans, Howard!  You've certainly helped my Mets collection grow by leaps and bounds!


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Horizontal Halos

An unexpected, unannounced PWE (is there any better variety?) graced my mailbox last week bearing a handsome collection of horizontal cards for my aptly named Horizontal Heroes frankenset.  Besides all the cards being of the landscape orientation, the other common bond they shared was name across the chest:  It was nothin' but Angels!

Sure enough, Mr. Yeo (One Man's Junk Wax) was good enough to cull a few of his spare Halos and float them to Delaware.  As he stated in his note, he wanted to make sure his favorite club was properly represented in the 660-card Horizontal Heroes project I'm working on.  Hey, I'm not too proud to take bribes or charity in such an instance.  I've got a lot of vacancies still to fill up!

And, Jeff found quite a few gems that will surely find their way into the mix.  The Frankie Rodriguez celebration shot from 2009 Upper Deck is a sure-thing.  I don't have too many fond memories of K-Rod from his time in Queens, but I can appreciate what he did pre-Mets as well as post-Mets.  Honestly, I can only blame his failings in the Big Apple on the persistent black cloud that hovers over New York's National League entry from year to doggone year.

Can we fit two K-Rod's from the same set into the HH project?  You bet!  Especially when the second card features one of those ultra-cool patriotic Stars 'n Stripes hats that the teams were on national holidays.

I really dug this card at first glance and figured it was a shoe-in for a slot, but I've got a pretty good one already occupying the same card number.  For the time being, Mr. Teixeira will have to remain patient in the waiting room while this whole crazy thing gets hashed out.

Ya know, one of these days I'll actually get around to sharing my progress.  I promise!

One more from 2009 Upper Deck.  Vlad's card number is beyond the 660 boundary, but I don't really need a good excuse to post a scan of a Vladimir Guerrero card, do I?  After all, the man can hit ANYTHING!

Much the same way Teix's card is being blocked from automatic inclusion, this dandy Jered Weaver card from 2010 UD also has a stiff battle for its respective spot (No. 267 in case you're interested).  It may or may not be a card of a former Mets utility player who is now the agent for the current Mets captain.

Could this amazing bat-on-ball action shot of Erick Aybar be a slam dunk for the Horizontal Heroes list?

Surely, I can find a spot for a card of the ageless Bobby Abreu...

Or possibly two?  After all, the guy is practically the only current Mets player who has shown the ability to hit with runners on base.  Hell, he batted cleanup against St. Louis last night.  Nothing against Bobby--who has had a terrific major league career--but that is completely and utterly pathetic.  The guy was signed to be a pinch hitter, not the everyday right fielder and heart-of-the-order guy.

Ugh.  Let me not go off on a tangent here.  One or both of these Abreus will make the cut, I'm pretty sure.

Awesome photo here.  We see the ball, yes?  But, the base isn't even in the frame, so I have a feeling Maicer is in some trouble.  2011 Topps gave us plenty of kick-ass photography like this, did they not?  But, will this one have enough oomph to crash the HH checklist??

Okay, I've saved the best for last.  No more teasing: This next card is 100% going to be in the This Way to the Clubhouse "Horizontal Heroes" frankenset (coming to a blog near you).  I guarantee it!

First of all, it's Hideki Matsui, which is pretty awesome.  The 2009 World Series hero.  Slayer of the Philadelphia Phillies and their greasy-fingered fans.  A man with a nickname after a fictitious, radiation-born Japanese dinosaur.  Need we go on?

Secondly, one of the best photos to ever wind up on a baseball card, hands down.  You've got batter, catcher and ump in the frame.  The unique rocky, tree-dotted terrain beyond the center field wall at the Big A.  And you've even got some unpaid advertising in the background, courtesy of the outfield wall.  It's just...perfect.

A big-time hat tip to Mr. Yeo for keeping me in mind for these wonderful additions.  Your horizontal Halos are welcome here anytime!  And, I can assure you that the boys from Anaheim will be more than adequately represented in the HH checklist.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Four Topps, #143

Ah, it feels good to get back into the Four Topps swing of things.  This feature, as you may know, is dedicated to my four favorite Topps sets from my childhood (1987-1990).  And, today's random number is 143, which is text-messaging code for "I love you."  [Ed. Note: Oh the things you learn from working at a high school!]

So let's have a look at what No. 143 brings us...


If I'm not mistaken, this is the first manager card we've stumbled upon since the dawn of this exercise.  Steve Boros logged seven big league seasons as a player and three more as a skipper.  His tenure at the helm of the Padres lasted all of one season (1986) and saw him guide the Friars to a 74-88 record and a fourth-place finish in the NL West.  Still, he wore his uniform the right way.  Look at those stirrups!  Hey, Stat Man: Socked 16 homers as a third baseman for the Tigers in 1962.


This would be Mickey Tettleton's final Topps card as a member of the Athletics.  The Oklahoma native signed with Baltimore as a FA right before the start of the '88 season, which is why it's not so shameful of Topps for including him in the Oakland checklist.  He would be featured in his proper Baltimore attire in the '88 traded set. Hey, Stat Man:  Batted below the Mendoza line for the A's in 1987 with a .194 BA in 211 ABs.


In 1988, Topps included Mike Campbell in its "Future Stars" subset, while Donruss knighted him a "Rated Rookie."  To say the least, his '89 Topps issue was a pretty bland followup.  I suppose his less-than-stellar '89 campaign played a part.  Then again, it was also pretty routine for even the biggest of stars to have a boring portrait shot gracing their cards in the '80s.  Unlike today, when even the .238 hitters get super-action photos on the front of their cards.  Hey, Stat Man:  Went 6-10 with an ERA just south of six in 20 starts for the M's in 1988.


When I was a kid, I always assumed Rafael Belliard was, like, the youngest player in the league.  I mean, judging by the pictures on his cards, could you blame me?  He's four feet tall (okay, 5'6") and looks like he'd have a hard time even buying cigarettes.  Meanwhile, Belliard was 27 when the photo on his '90 Topps card was taken.  Hey, Stat Man:  Appeared in just 67 games for the Pirates in '89, batting .214 in 154 ABs.

And the Winner Is:  A pretty motley crew to pick from, but Mickey Tettleton is a winner in my book any day of the week.  The child-like Belliard gets the silver medal.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Workin' My Way Back

Woeful.  That's the word I'd use to describe my level of dedication to this blog, as well as my diligence in keeping up with all the great card blogs out there that I consider must-reads.  Sure, I've got lots of good reasons and even a few polished excuses, but I won't waste this space or your time rattling them off.

Instead, let's shift into gear and talk trades, shall we?  More specifically, a great package that came my way from Kerry (Cards on Cards) not too long ago.

Among the highlights, the Seaver insert from this year's GQ set.  I opened a couple packs of these a month or so ago and was kinda underwhelmed.  Though, I did pull the Jeter card from this very same insert set.  So that was at least pleasant.

I'm still trying my best to keep up with all these throwback mini inserts that Topps keeps unleashing on us with every flagship release.  The Nomar is from last year's Update while the '89 Ripken is from Series 1 of present year.  My goal--whether it's long-term or short--is to put together the complete edition of each.  We shall see, as always.

I have the sinking feeling I'll probably never finish the SP checklist from 2011 Heritage.  Or 2013.  Or 2014.  That's why I considered it a pretty big event when I put the last touches on the 2012 checklist.  Nevertheless, I'm gonna keep at it.

Beauty!  I'm a big-time sucker for the Heritage black parallels from any year (with the exception of 2011), but I have a special place for the 2012s, since that's the year I really became a Heritage devotee.  A couple years ago when I did my '12 Heritage countdown of the the most important cards from the set, the Pujols was included.  I felt his first card as a Halo was a big deal.  I still feel that way.  And I'm very happy to have the black bordered version now.

And, to put the finishing touches on things...

A hearty helping of Celtics!  There were more than this, but these were my favorites.  Kerry, a fellow NBA fan, always hooks me up with his spare Bostonians, and for that I'm grateful.  Sullinger and Olynyk are a pair of names that are being thrown around as trade fodder, potentially in the framework of a deal that might bring Kevin Love to the Hub.  I have mixed feelings about that since I'm a fan of both youngsters.  But, if it meant getting a double-double machine like Love, I guess I'd have to sign off.

Anyhow, big ups to you, Kerry!  I truly appreciated the cards, whether they be hardball or hoops.

And, hopefully, this post will be the one that gets me back into the bloggin' groove...