Friday, January 23, 2015

Your 2015 Topps New York Mets (Series 1)

It's crazy to think about it, but we're nearly on the doorstep of the 2015 baseball card season.  Topps will release Series 1 of its flagship product early next month.

Omigosh, that's like practically a week and a half away!

This past Tuesday, as most of you are undoubtedly aware, Topps unveiled the full checklist of Series 1, including the inserts, autos and relics.  I'm not so much interested in the latter, as I'm mainly curious as to which Mets players are mixed into the base set.

So, without any further clutter, here's how we did...

4 -- Curtis Granderson
24 -- Mets Team
83 -- David Wright
129 -- Jacob deGrom (Future Star)
133 -- Daisuke Matsuzaka
149 -- Daniel Murphy
166 -- Jenrry Mejia
173 -- Carlos Torres
199 -- Eric Young, Jr.
236 -- Zack Wheeler
237 -- Lucas Duda
241 -- Dilson Herrera (Rookie)
244 -- Bartolo Colon
263 -- Dillon Gee
306 -- Juan Lagares (Future Star)
313 -- Lucas Duda (League Leaders w/ Rizzo and Stanton)

So that's 15 (16 if you count the LL card) Mets cards out of the 350-card Series 1 checklist.  Not too bad, I guess.

[Edit: Whoa, I just noticed the checklist is 350 cards...not 330 like we've become accustomed to over recent years. I guess I shoulda read the sell sheet excerpt up top, eh? Pretty impressive, nonetheless!]

A couple of immediate observations:

-- I don't like team cards.  Never have, never will.  I absolutely would prefer a manager card to a generic team card.

-- I don't like multi-player cards generally, and that certainly includes league leader cards.  If a multi-player card doesn't contain a player or team you collect, what the heck do you do with these things?  If you're not chasing the set, how are you supposed to catalog or organize them?  I'm somebody who demands some semblance of order in his life, and these cards throw such a notion out the window.  Plus, Topps usually just recycles the same tired photo for the tiny sliver of space for each player on these LL cards anyhow.  No thanks!

-- That being said, I don't think I realized Lucas Duda finished third in the NL in homers. Good for you, dude.

-- As far as player selection, I'm pretty happy.  Especially for the inclusions of Torres and Herrera (new blood for the All-Time Mets Project!).  I'm also anxious to get a glimpse of what the Future Star cards of deGrom and Lagares might look like.

-- A slight groan from the peanut gallery, however, in regards to Matsuzaka (back to Japanese baseball league) and Young, Jr. (non-tendered by club) who are no longer with the team.  But, only a a slight groan, especially since I'm an EYJ guy.

-- Looks like we'll have to wait til Series 2 for guys like Matt Harvey, Jon Niese, Jeurys Familia, Travis d'Arnaud, Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada, Rafeal Montero and newest Met Michael Cuddyer, who will no doubt be in a photoshopped uni.

-- A pet peeve of mine is how Topps has the way-too-regular tendency to bunch up players from the same team on their checklists.  For instance, No. 236 through 244 contains four Mets, including back-to-back Amazins at 236 and 237 (Wheeler and Duda).  Yet, there are only three Mets contained within the first 127 cards of the series, and one of those is the stinkin' team card.  Can't someone quality control crap like this?  Does anyone feel the same way I do?  Or am I just being too persnickety?

As for the look of the cards themselves, I like what I've seen in the various previews, sell sheets and miscellaneous scans that are out there.  However, I always like to reserve true judgment until I have the real McCoy in front of me.

I'm definitely excited that Topps has decided to break free from the shackles of the clinical white borders for the first time since 2007,  Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-white borders, but I like a little variety.  Perhaps this will begin a string of non-white border years the likes of which we saw in the late '90s and early '00s?  Time will tell.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to February 4!


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mets in the Mail, Pt. 2 (aka Catching Fire)

A day or so after I received Steve D.'s envelope, another PWE came my way via Shane of the tremendous Shoebox Legends.  He and I have gotten into the regular practice of swapping cards nine at a time lately, and I think it's been a tremendous run on both ends!

This latest one may be the best yet!

Sure, Topps Laser might not have been the most favorite or fondly remembered of Topps' many mid-90s gimmicks, but I happen to think they're pretty darn cool.  Look at that example up top of former can't-miss prospect Paul Wilson and tell me that ain't a badass card!  Gives a new meaning to 'bringing the heat,' eh?

Any more, it seems like when Topps does a die cut, it's usually very uninspired.  Like making a card in the shape of a hexagon just for the hell of it.  Or giving it jagged points or curves just because, well, why not?

Then you get something like this...

...that totally redeems the whole practice of die cut cards!

Man, these are pretty awesome!  Bowman's 'Fire' die cut refractors are simply incredible.  The young players featured in this checklist are so 'hot' that they're melting the cards that depict them.  Corny?  Heck no, these are tremendously creative and very visually appealing, in my humble opinion.

It doesn't hurt that two Mets are included in the player selection for this insert set.  Both Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard will hopefully be fixtures at Citi Field for a long time.

These blistering inserts weren't the only Bowman highlights from Shane's latest PWE delivery...

Aaaahhhh.  These cool characters bring the temperature down a bit, don't they?  Giving a shout out to the '89 comeback set, these 'Bowman is Back' sparkly refractors have been on my radar for the longest time, and I'm totally geeked to have them finally added to my collection.  A couple of cornerstones of the Mets franchise, past and present.  Doesn't get much cooler than that.

But, let's throw a few more coals onto the fire, shall we?

If Lucifer had a ball club...  Well, never mind.  Not to worry, Pedro made it safely out of the BBQ pit and into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  I'll never forget the game at Shea (I think it was the 2005 season) when the infield sprinklers came on during the midst of the 5th or 6th inning.  Pedro was on the mound and, rather than throw a Tom Brady-like tantrum, playfully pranced through the spray with a big smile on his face.  Pedro was a rare breed of superstar, for sure!

The final Met of the lot is a more obscure one, but I remember him well.  Toca was New York's big first base prospect during the late '90s and early '00s.  He got a taste of the bigs, but not much more.  This card, from 2000 Finest, had been on my Zistle want list.

I freely state this: Any and every A-Rod card is welcome in the ol' Clubhouse.  From the Rookie/Traded series of 1998 Score.  I'm looking forward to what Alex may or may not do in pinstripes this coming season.

Finally, a little sliver of Shane's continued crusade to get me hooked on hockey cards...

This'll work.  The greatest U.S.-born defenseman of all time and one of my boyhood heroes, Brian Leetch.

Still doing my best to avoid falling into the hockey vortex, but I'm sure it'll happen eventually.  Perhaps a card or two former Rangers captain Kelly Kisio might do the trick.  He was captain of the team when I first fell in love with hockey as a kid.  Obviously, he's not Messier in regards to captains, but when I was nine I thought he was the bees knees

Thanks again for an amazing array of cards, Shane!


Friday, January 16, 2015

Mets in the Mail, Pt. 1

A pair of totally great envelopes containing Mets cards came in the mail this week.  Is there any better mail content on the planet, really?

This first one was a surprise, as fellow Mets fan Steve D. from NYC floated me a pair of awesome SSPC cards from 1976.  Both of these guys were missing from my All-Time Mets registry, so I was quite excited to gain these cards!

Up top you've got Tom Hall, a southpaw hurler who appeared in 39 games overs parts of two seasons for the Mets.  Mostly used as a reliever during his 10-year career, it's interesting that he's shown brandishing a bat in this photo.  In case you were wondering, he wasn't exactly Doc Gooden or Madison Bumgarner at the plate, either.  For his career, he was 31-for-192 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs.

Next up, Randy Tate, who went 5-13 with a 4.45 ERA for the Mets in 1975 -- his lone season in the big leagues.  Nothing too exciting there, but check out this nugget I found on Tate's Wikipedia page:

While Tate is noted for never having achieved a Major League hit despite having 41 at bats, he is best known for nearly pitching a no-hitter on August 4, 1975 at Shea Stadium against the Montreal Expos. Despite not allowing a hit through seven and one third innings, Tate ended up losing the game -- which seems to have been the final straw for Mets management regarding the tenure of manager Yogi Berra, who was fired the next day.

 If that isn't a totally Mets anecdote, I don't know what is!

Thanks for these two outstanding cards, Steve!


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Latest LCS Mystery Box

During my nice, leisurely Christmas break, I was really jones'in for one of those 'grab bag' boxes of baseball cards from my local card shop.  As usual, I wasn't disappointed. For five bucks, you don't have much room to piss and moan about getting 400 cards.  That's, like, a penny per card or something.

Always an interesting selection of years and brands.  Some cool additions for my various collections, including Mets (such as Mr. Floyd above), player collections and the Horiztonal Heroes frankenset.

There's always lots of Topps Total cards in these boxes, which is one of the reasons that I love grabbing them up.

A fine player, a good man, and a nice Upper Deck set ('97).

A Lenny Harris-as-a-Met card still eludes me, but Lenny as a Brewer is pretty cool, too.

I think this is my first Preston Wilson Astros card.  Frankly, I don't recall his time in Houston.

Oof.  Quiz is looking kinda drunk.  Or kinda relieved after a tough half-hour on the toilet.

From Topps Traded '99.  Nice-looking card of the well-traveled vet.  Love the Aaron patch on the sleeve.

Two years in Cleveland, 81 games and a 4-7 record.  Love this one.  Dusk-like background and the Chief Wahoo patch large and in charge.

I've seen this card around for years and promised myself I would snatch up a copy when/if I ever saw it in a dime box.  The waiting is over.

From Topps Traded.  When the HOFer took the reigns of the MLB-operated Expos.

Kind of obscene bat placement, but I'm an adult and I can be mature about it (disregard the toilet joke above). I'm a sucker for dugout shots, so I like this one.

Just your typical awesome Stadium Club photo.

Rookie reprint of Neon Deion.  Years before he would attack Tim McCarver with an ice bucket.

So many wonderful photos from '93 Upper Deck, which I suppose is my favorite UD set of all time.  I'm guessing Reimer struck out here.

Along with Topps Total, these mystery boxes also contain a lot of Traded or Update cards from the late '90s or early '00s.  Which works for me since I have zero to few of them.  Never heard of this chap, but I love the photo.

And, finally, maybe my favorite card of the lot...

Back-to-back Red Sox catchers to finish the post.  Varitek's incredible '04 Upper Deick issue gets instant induction to the Horizontal Heroes frankenset.  A beauty of a card!

Can't wait to pick up another one of these!


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

They Voted for Pedro

Probably my favorite pitcher of all time, Pedro Martinez is now officially baseball royalty.  Though the baseball writers association really ticked me off with their omissions of Mike Piazza and Jeff Kent, they got it right with Petey.  With 500 votes and a 91.1 percentage, the former Expo, Red Sock, Dodger and Met is the second Dominican to gain admission to Cooperstown and the first Hall member born in the decade of the '70s.

Congrats, Pedro!