Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Six Days

1997 Score #135

Just six more days until the stats start to count!  The New York Mets open their 2015 schedule with a visit to Nationals Park in Washington to battle Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and the Nats.

Quite a few different players put on the No. 6 jersey for the Mets during the club's history, including the likes of Al Weis, Wally Backman and Timo Perez.  But, I had to go with another of my personal favorites, Carlos Baerga, for the honor of reppin' the number.  Carlos only wore this number during the '96 season, when he joined the Mets via a deadline deal with Cleveland.  He then switched over to No. 8 for his final two seasons as a Met.

Added Knowledge:  On July 30, 1996 -- in his first game as a Met -- Carlos delivered a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning to propel the Mets to a 5-4 victory over Pittsburgh.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Seven Days

1975 Topps #324

Just one week from today, it'll be time for New York Mets baseball!  The Amazins will begin their 2015 campaign in Washington D.C. with a 4:05 p.m. clash against the defending division-champion Nationals.

Some very noteworthy players have worn No. 7 for the Mets throughout the years, including fan favorites like Hubie Brooks, Todd Pratt and Jose Reyes.  But, I'll give the nod to the man who played more games (1,853) in a New York Mets uniform than anyone who has ever walked the earth.  Barring injury or trade, David Wright (1,508) will surpass Kranepool within the next few years.

Added Knowledge:  In 1975, Ed fashioned a career-best .323 batting average.  He was a .261 hitter during his 18-year career.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Eight Days

1986 Fleer Box Bottom #C-7

Just eight days until the New York Mets begin their 2015 season!  The Metsies will be in Washington on April 6 to battle Matt Williams' Nationals.

Surprisingly, there haven't been too many No. 8s in Mets history, as only 14 players or coaches have worn the number over the course of 53 seasons.  Yogi Berra (both as a player and manager), Ronn Reynolds and Carlos Baerga each wore 8 for the Mets, but can there be any greater than Gary Carter?  It's a no-brainer!

Added Knowledge:  Kid won the NL Silver Slugger and finished third in MVP voting in 1986, when he cracked 24 homers and drove in 105 runs.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Nine Days

1997 UD Collector's Choice Premier Power #PP11

Single digits til Opening Day for the New York Mets!  The Amazins begin the 2015 campaign on April 6 as they visit the nation's capital to take on the Washington Nationals.

Some notable players wore the No. 9 for the Mets throughout club history, including Joe Torre, Gregg Jefferies and Todd Zeile.  But, in my opinion, none top former All-Star Todd Hundley, whose 41 home runs in 1996 not only established a Mets record but also set the power standard for catchers (since bested by Javy Lopez in 2003).

Added Knowledge:  Todd became the first catcher in Mets history to post multiple-HR seasons when he launched 30 long balls in 1997


Friday, March 27, 2015

10 Days

1994 Donruss Triple Play #297

We are closing in on single digits, folks!  Just 10 days until we are graced with a new season of Mets baseball. The Amazins travel to Washington on April 6 to battle Max Scherzer and the Nats.

Twenty-six men have worn the No. 10 for the Mets, including Rusty Staub, Rey Ordonez and current skipper Terry Collins.  But, I decided to cheat a little and use a Butch Huskey rookie card.  You may recall that Big Butch was one of the last players to ever wear 42 in the big leagues, and he wore it 401 of his 414 career games as a Met.  But, for 13 games during the 1993 season, Huskey was No. 10.  Hey, it was an easy way for me to sneak another personal favorite into the countdown!

Added Knowledge:  Making his big league debut, Huskey went 0-for-3 with three K's, as the Mets were no-hit by Houston's Darryl Kile on Septebmer 8, 1993.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

11 Days

1986 Fleer Update #U-110

We are now just 11 days shy of the start of the 2015 baseball season!  The Mets begin their 54th season of business on April 6 with a late afternoon tilt at Nationals Park in D.C.

A few notable Mets have donned the No. 11 during their playing days in Queens, including Wayne Garrett, Vince Coleman and "Super Joe" McEwing.  But, I've chosen to highlight the scrappy Tim Teufel, whose last name translates from German to English as devil.  For a front man of a heavy metal band that would be pretty hardcore, much less a utility infielder from Greenwich, Conn.

Added Knowledge:  Tim went 2-for-7 with a walk, a double and 3 RBIs in his Mets debut, April 12, 1986.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

12 Days

1995 Pinnacle #242

A dozen days from now, real baseball returns!  The New York Mets begin the 2015 season on the afternoon of April 6 in D.C. where they will meet last year's NL East champions, the Washington Nationals.

Quite a few Mets favorites wore the No. 12 throughout the years, including Ron Darling, Ken Boswell and, presently, Juan Lagares.  But, we give the nod to future-Hall of Famer Jeff Kent, who never quite found his niche in the Big Apple.

Added Knowledge:  Kent finished second on the '95 Mets with 20 home runs.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

13 Days

1999 Upper Deck Retro #54

We are just 13 days away from the start of another big league baseball season!  The New York Mets open their 2015 campaign on April 6 with a road contest in Washington versus Bryce Harper and the Nationals.

Nineteen different Mets players have worn the No. 13 at some point during their playing days, including Lee Mazzilli, Neil Allen and Billy Wagner.  But, the greatest Met to don the number was former All-Star Edgardo Alfonzo, who also happens to be one of my favorite all-time Mets!

Added Knowledge:  Fonzie won the NL Silver Slugger award at second base in 1999, smashing 27 homers and collecting 108 RBIs.


Monday, March 23, 2015

14 Days

1971 Topps #183

Two weeks(!) from today, baseball returns for real.  No more of this Grapefruit and Cactus stuff.  And, on baseball's opening day, the New York Mets head south on Interstate 95 to meet the Washington Nationals for a 4:05 p.m. first pitch.

In honor of the 14-day mark, we present you with the greatest No. 14 in Mets annals.  Hodges' uniform is one of just four uniform numbers the Mets have officially retired, along with 37 (Stengel), 41 (Seaver) and 42 (Jackie).


Sunday, March 22, 2015

15 Days

2005 Upper Deck Update #18

Only 15 days remaining until the games start to count!  The Mets open their 2015 campaign on April 6 with a road contest versus the defending division champion Washington Nationals.

Jerry Grote, Geroge Foster and Ron Darling all wore the No. 15 for the Mets during their playing days.  However, I'll give the nod to center fielder Carlos Beltran, who crafted three of the greatest single seasons in Mets history. Plus, I wanted an excuse to show a card from 2005 Upper Deck Update. [Ed. Note: What the heck is Upper Deck Update??]

Added Knowledge:  After a sub-par 2005 season that saw him swat only 16 homers, Beltran tied the franchise record with 41 long balls in 2006.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

16 Days

1994 Bowman #400

We are 16 days away from the start of another season of New York Mets baseball!  The Amazins will invade D.C. on April 6 to take on the defending NL East champions, the Washington Nationals.

Lee Mazzilli, Paul LoDuca and Angel Pagan each wore the No. 16 for the Mets, but none can hold a candle to the man who made it famous in Flushing.  That would, of course, be Dr. K himself, Dwight Gooden.

Added Knowledge:  In what would be his final victory in a New York Mets uniform, Doc hurled eight innings of three-hit, one-run ball in Florida to defeat the Marlins, 6-1, on June 19, 1994.


Friday, March 20, 2015

17 Days

1988 Fleer #136

We are t-minus 17 days til the curtain opens on the 2015 baseball season!  The Mets begin the new campaign on April 6 with a late afternoon tilt in Washington against Bryce Harper and the Nationals.

Quite a few noteworthy players donned the No. 17 during their Mets playing days, including Felix Millan, David Cone and Mike Bordick.  But, let's get serious, none of those names comes close to the man who wore the number of the '86 champs.

Added Knowledge:  In 1988, Keith won his 11th (and final) consecutive NL Gold Glove award -- a record for any first baseman in baseball history.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

18 Days

 1990 Upper Deck #182

We're only 18 days from the opening of the 2015 MLB season!  The Mets will be in the nation's capital on April 6 to battle the defending NL East-champion Nationals.

Some notable Mets donned the No. 18 throughout the club's history, including George "The Stork" Theodore, Joel Youngblood, Bret Saberhagen and Darryl Hamilton.  Yet, Hamilton ain't the Darryl we conjure up when it comes to 18 in blue and orange.

Added Knowledge:  Strawberry collected a career-high 108 RBIs in 1990, his final season as a Met.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

And, Last But Not Least...

If it weren't for my wife, I don't know how or where I'd ever find the new baseball card releases.

I imagine people in other countries got their hands on 2015 Heritage earlier than I did.  Despite living within manageable radius of four Walmarts and a Target, it took nearly two weeks for these cards to sprout in northern Delaware and northeastern Maryland.  Believe me, I took several unnecessary trips to these places during that span only to come up dry each time.

So it was, I came home from work Monday afternoon to a surprise '15 Heritage hanger box sitting atop my closed laptop.  A byproduct of Mrs. K and Gabriel running afternoon errands.

My first Heritage '15 Met...kinda.

I was overjoyed since, y'know, this is the set I most look forward to, and have spent hours and hours droning on about how much I love Heritage and how devoted I am to it and blah blah blah.  So, I was equal parts giddy and "well it's about freakin' time!" when I got my first glimpse of these wonderful things.  Twelve days after the rest of the card-collecting universe did.

Meanwhile, a teenager in Cambodia has nearly finished collating the base set.

Oooh, this is a good one to get out of the way!

Anyhow, I'll let it go.  I'm just happy to have begun my new journey towards Heritage bliss.  The cards themselves are fantastic.  Nice sturdy stock, retro-style photos and poses, vibrant colors: What's not to like?

I will say that I'm a bit weirded out by Heritage being sold in hanger boxes.  I know a few others have mentioned this in their initial write-ups of the product, as well, and I have to agree.  Nothing really 'old school' about a brick of cards wrapped in cellophane enclosed in an over-sized cardboard box.

Maybe that's nitpicking?  And maybe a tad bit hypocritical since there's absolutely nothing traditional or vintage about pricing a high series set of 100 cards at nearly $100, yet I lap that up like a dehydrated dog every winter.

My first short print. Only 74 to go.

Included in this hanger box along with an array of base cards, the highlights of which you can see above, were five shiny parallel cards.  They aren't 'chrome' and they aren't numbered.  They're just...shiny.

So I had to consult the internet for the answer to what I was seeing.  What this some sort of 'hot pack' or oddity that I lucked upon?  Well, the answer is no.  Okay, whatever, not a huge deal.  But, what I learned about these foil cards...well, it's a bit of news that I found to be horrifying and heart-sinking.

A hat tip to the excellent website Cardboard Connection for this bit of information on these retail-only foil cards:

In past years, Heritage retail blister packs have been home to exclusive Black cards. The blister packs are gone and so are the Blacks. Instead, 2015 Topps Heritage has hanger boxes. Included in them are foil cards not available anywhere else.

Good Lord!  The first blow was delivered to the solar plexus: no more blister packs.  And then the knockout uppercut right to the chops: no more black parallels.

This probably isn't a huge deal to most.  As a matter of fact, I'm sure many probably like these foil cards better than the black-bordered alternatives that the retail blister packs used to offer.  But, I love the look of the black bordered cards and was kinda fanatical about collecting them over the past few years.

To say I'm bummed would be an understatement.  Shiny is fine, but aren't these 'foil' cards just a cheaper form of chrome?  And, doesn't chrome already satisfy the collector's lust for all things that shimmer?  I don't get it.  And, furthermore, I don't like it!

Last year I opted to just buy a bunch of the blister packs (which, if you don't recall, were hanger packages that contained three retail packs plus three black parallels) instead of sinking the same amount for a hobby box.  After all, I'm not a huge gunner for relics or autos.  I just wanted those black cards.

So much for that plan.  I guess I'll have to go the route of the hobby box.  I'll have to think it over some more.

The saving grace of this entire experience, aside from the fact that I finally have in my possession new Heritage cards?


Hey, I might not be a advocate for jersey cards or relics or whatever you want to call them, but that doesn't mean I'll shun 'em, either.  Especially when it's a David Wright card.

It's pretty amazing luck to not only get one of these things in a retail pack, but to land your favorite player on your favorite team is like...well...it's like winning the lottery to a certain degree.  I mean, what are the odds??

So, while I may mourn the passing of the Heritage black parallel, this was Wright insert is a pretty good panacea for the moment.  And I'm sure the many months of Heritage-related retail therapy that lay ahead of me will soften the blow even more.

If you're keeping score at home, my first go-round with 2015 Heritage can be summed up as follows:  an unexpected joy followed up by a bitter disappointment and topped with an pleasant surprise.

Off to a rip-roaring start with lots of daylight to go!


19 Days

1999 Upper Deck #430

Just 19 days until the New York Mets open the 2015 season at Nationals Park in Washington D.C.  Uniform No. 19 was worn by some Mets fan favorites through the years, including the likes of Bobby Ojeda, Lenny Harris and Anthony Young.  But, we'll give the nod to speedster Roger Cedeno who makes the unpopular black alternate uniform look snazzy on this card.

Added Knowledge:  Roger led the Mets and was second in the majors with 66 stolen bases in 1999.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

20 Days

1992 Bowman #10

Just 20 days til the Amazins storm into D.C. to battle the hated Nationals in the 2015 season opener.  Some notable Mets wore the No. 20 on their uniform, including Clarence "Choo Choo" Coleman, Tommie Agee and Jeromy Burnitz to name a few.  But, c'mon, 20 in orange and blue is HoJo!

Added Knowledge:  In 1988, Johnson established the single-season club record for intentional passes with 25.


Monday, March 16, 2015

YDF: 21 Days Til Opening Day

2007 Bowman Heritage #23

Yer Daily Fix for the next three weeks will be dedicated to the countdown til opening day for the New York Mets (and most, if not all, of baseball).  To aid in that effort, we'll present a Mets card each day featuring a player whose uniform number reflects the number of days before blast-off.

There are just 21 days til the Mets take the field at Nationals Park to battle the defending NL East champs. Former Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado wore the No. 21 during his time in Queens (2006-09).

Added Knowledge:  Delgado led the 2007 Mets with 11 HBP.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Three Cards from the Hot Corner

Today, a trio of cards that arrived recently from Pat of Hot Corner Cards.  You know the drill by now: Send him your Tigers!

Anyhow, a couple of nice vintage additions to the ol' Mets collection, including the '76 Topps team card.  Joe Frazier, by the way, lasted just one season (1976) plus 45 games into the '77 campaign as Mets skipper before being supplanted by Joe Torre.

I had a copy of this Milner card already, but that one was tied up in my 1977 Topps set, which I'm still working on, by the way.  Anyhow, the copy Pat sent me was way better than the one I already possessed. Fantastic condition for a card that's nearly 40 years old.

Finally, a golden parallel of Ruben Tejada's 2010 Bowman card.  At this point, Ruben will be vying for a bench job on the Mets for the upcoming season, as he's been replaced at shortstop by Wilmer Flores.

A tip of the cap, Pat.  These cards are much appreciated!


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Horizontal Heroes, Page 6 (Cards 46-54)

It took me long enough, but here's another page of my Horizontal Heroes frankenset.  The goal is a 660-card set comprised of nothin' but horizontal cards.  This is what Page 6 looks like.

The final piece to this particular page came in a PWE from Nick a couple weeks ago.  It was the perfect punctuation mark on a pretty decent page.  Of course, this page isn't set in stone, as HH is meant to be a living, breathing compliation.  In other words, if I find a card three months from now that knocks my socks off, it may very well supplant one of these.

Here are cards Nos. 46 through 48...

46 -- Ryan Klesko, Padres, 2001 Stadium Club
47 -- Bret Barberie, Marlins, 1994 UD Collector's Choice
48 -- Wilton Guerrero, Expos, 1998 Fleer Tradition

Then cards 49 through 51...

49 -- Randy Tomlin, Pirates, 1994 Pinnacle
50 -- Todd Greene, Team USA, 1991 Topps Traded
51 -- Doug Dascenzo, Cubs, 1992 Leaf

And, finally, cards 52 through 54...

52 -- Kenny Lofton, Indians, 1997 Upper Deck
53 -- Leo Rosales, Diamondbacks, 2010 Upper Deck
54 -- Jeff Blauser, Braves, 1994 Score

Lots of neat cards on this page, but the 'Best of Page' honors would have to go to the '97 Lofton.  The Guerrero boys on the '98 Tradition is a solid silver, and I'll give the bronze to the Dascenzo (I love a good baserunning card).

If you're interested, you can keep track of my page-by-page progress on the appropriately titled tab at the top of the page.  This is only the second page I've posted, but there are plenty more to come!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Too Cool (Cards from Shane)

My latest installment of Mets cards from Shoebox Legends HQ arrived recently; an envelope bearing nine crisp additions to my team collection.  The ol' Mets count has eclipsed 5,500 cards, which ain't too shabby for a small potato like myself.

The 'coolest' of the crop was undoubtedly Bobby Jones' 1998 Rookie Traded card.  Jones was neither a rookie nor a Mets acquisition in 1998, but hey, whatever!  I like the design of this set, and it's made even better by Bobby's too-cool-for-school shades.

And the rest of my new Mets...

Speaking of cool shades, Carlos Beltran was no stranger.

No shades on this Diamond Anniversary parallel of Angel Pagan, but you might have to wear a pair if you gaze too long at this one.

Once upon a time (in 2009), Fernando Martinez made his big league debut with the Mets at the tender age of 20. As far as I know, he's not presently under contract with any big league organization.

Not only is this a manager card, but it's a manager card from an Update set.  Beat that!

I'm guessing Pete Falcone did not need shoe polish to make his beard appear so black.

Craig Swan led the N.L. with a 2.43 ERA in 1978.  He also had a league-leading mustache when the photo for this card was taken.

And we'll wrap up the post with a couple of really neat cards from 2004 Bowman Heritage...

Love the vintage look of these cards.  And while we're on the topic of Heritage, may I vent?  It's been nearly a week and not one of the five Walmarts or Targets in my vicinity have 2015 Heritage.  Not a sniff.  I mean, what the heck is that all about?  Terrible.  But, I digress...

As always, thanks for great cards, Shane.  And for helping my Mets collection grow to amazin' heights!


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

YDF, 3.10.15 (Two-Fer Tuesday)

It's Tuesday, so Yer Daily Fix is two cards instead of the customary one.  Both of these Futures Game variations were 'Easter eggs' that I found in a dime box a couple weekends ago.

This guy has a history of not separating out SPs, parallels or variations from his dime boxes. Basically, if they aren't high-end rookies, autos or relics, he doesn't care.  And, I like that kind of vendor!


Monday, March 9, 2015

YDF, 3.9.15

Yer daily fix for Monday is the first-year Bowman card of Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond.  I've been meaning to pick up a copy of this one for a while, and finally went through with it via Just Commons recently. I may be wrong, but I think this is the lone card featuring Desi in an Expos cap.  In any event, it's surely a sign you're gettin' up there in age when the team that drafted you no longer exists.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Uncommonly Good

In addition to scratching my continual itch for new Mets cards to add to my collection, Just Commons serves as a great resource for landing some fantastic cards for my ongoing Horizontal Heroes frankenset.  If you comb through their database long enough, you're bound to be rewarded with some epic finds.

I completed an order a couple weeks ago and, thankfully, Nick from Dime Boxes left a few good cards behind after the tremendous cart he put together!

Most, but not all, of the cards you'll see in this post will make the cut for the HH frankenset.  In case you're new to my ramblings, Horizontal Heroes is my concept for a 660-card mash-up featuring nothing but horizontal cards. Any and all brands are fair game.  Parallels are not forbidden, but they aren't necessarily encouraged.

I was probably the proudest about landing the above David Wells card from '99 Fleer Ultra.  I only found out about this one recently and I knew I had to have it for my set.  Boomer's Yankee teammates are hoisting him skyward in the aftermath of tossing the 15th perfect game in big league history.  Talk about a great base card!  The card number for this one is 35, and it's absolutely set in stone for the frankenset.

And now the rest of my horizontal haul, presented to you in numerical order...

1999 Ultra, #22

Uh, yeah.  This one is also a stone-cold lock for the frankenset.  I first saw this one on Night Owl's blog some time ago.  I've been in love ever since.  Man, 1999 Ultra was some kinda set, no?

1999 Ultra, #45

More from '99 Ultra.  I think this Eli Marrero 'play at the plate' card is a safe entry into the set.  

2003 Ultra, #45

This one, as you might note, has the same card number as the Marrero above.  I knew this one wouldn't make the cut when pitted against the Marrero, but I grabbed it anyhow.  It's still a pretty neat card of Byrd, a player who left a positive imprint during his time as a Met.

2003 Ultra, #64

Some Shinjo Web Gem action most certainly will have a place in the 660-card checklist.

1999 Fleer Tradition Millennium, #95

Brotherly love; I dig it.  I first discovered this one upon purchase of a complete '99 Tradition set last year. Spoiler: This might not be the last Giambi you see in this post.

2003 Ultra, #116

Lest you think I love 2003 Ultra, let me set the record straight: I do not.  It's pretty far down on the Best Ultra Designs of All-Time countdown.  Nonetheless, some pretty neat cards live within the checklist.  Javy's skunky looking hair is on the fence for HH inclusion.

2005 Upper Deck, #138

And here's your extra Giambi, as promised.  Like '03 Ultra, 2005 Upper Deck isn't among my favorite sets.  But, every dog has his day.

2002 Upper Deck, #145

Upper Deck's 2002 flagship offering wasn't exactly a thing of beauty either.  Though, I'll take it ahead of '05. Anyhow, it's nice to sneak an old favorite like Melvin Mora into this project.

2003 Ultra, #147

However ugly you might think '03 Ultra is, you can't deny the allure of this amazing card.  When I first saw a scan of it online, it appeared that Mookie's step-son was raising his arms in exultation of a home run or a walk-off hit.  However, closer inspection reveals the baseball passing just underneath Wilson's chin.  Absolutely a keeper for the frankenset.

2005 Upper Deck, 169

I love unconventional camera angles such as this.  Tomko's 2005 Upper Deck base card makes the cut for the time being.

2005 Upper Deck, #198

I liked this card a lot more when I first saw it a couple weeks ago.  Maybe I'm just growing sour over the over-stuffed bat boy in the background.  A decent card, but certainly no lock for the set.

1996 Pacific, #223

It's Pacific.  It's Tripp Cromer.  And it's a dusty double play at old Busch Stadium.  Any questions?

1998 Ultra, #251

Just Commons?  More like Just Chillin'!  One of the most colorful pitchers of his era, Carlos Perez cards will always have a home in my collection.

1996 Pacific, #273

Another from '96 Pacific.  The Pacific brand had some really great designs and some that were probably ill-advised.  This one falls towards the more favorable end of the spectrum.  Tony Phillips, and ex-Met, has a place in the set for now.

2005 Upper Deck, #340

Ya-hoooooooooo!  No doubt, I had to grab this one, as it satisfied my sweet tooth for horizontal format plus background advertising.  I like this one a lot.

Okay, so I promise I'll have another completed frankenset page posted soon.  Maybe during this upcoming week even.  I'll have plenty of time since, y'know, none of my local retail joints are in a hurry to stock 2015 Heritage (the bastards!).

Happy Daylight Savings!