Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ready to Go! (aka LGM!)

Tuesday night finally brings us to Game One of the 2015 World Series!  It'll be your New York Mets versus the defending AL-champion Kansas City Royals.  Should be a heckuva series!

Terry Collins' Game One starter will be Matt Harvey.  The UNC product has made a pair of starts through the first two rounds of the postseason, including a gem in NLCS opener against Chicago.

Up top, you see Harvey's 2014 Turkey Red base card.  It's one of the cards I recently picked up off COMC.  I'm usually not a big-time COMC shopper, since I've become spoiled by the basement-level prices I'm accustomed to finding at card shows in my neck of the woods.  But, I haven't been able to make a show in three months and, on top of that, I had a $5 credit on the site thanks to a promotional scratch-off card.

Of course, spending only five bucks at COMC is next to impossible.  I mean, shipping alone is three bucks.  So, long story short, I bought another 10 dollars worth of store credit and away we went!

Let's check out the rest of the loot, shall we?

I snagged another base card from the '14 Turkey Red boxed set, which was released in limited quantities if I remember correctly.  Anyhow, I really love these things -- in particular this Zack Wheeler -- and they're pretty tough to find for a reasonable price.  At least in my shopping experiences.  There were four Mets in the set, with David Wright and Travis d'Arnaud making up the other half of the quartet.  I found the Wright in a dime box last year, meaning I'm one TdA shy of the team set!  Maybe that'll be part of a future COMC purchase, who knows?

Here's another of Mr. Wheeler...

This one's a refractor.  A really nice looking rookie card of the young right-hander who unfortunately fell prey to the Tommy John bug during spring training.  If all goes well, he should be back with the club by the 2016 All-Star break.

As you'll see, the rest of my order was very current roster-centric.

I love the look of this year's Museum Collection.  A super high-end product that I'll never purchase a pack/box of in my lifetime.  But, finding singles of my Mets for a song and a dance is good enough for me.  Jacob deGrom is slated to start Game Two against the Royals, by the way.

Next up, a foursome of Thors.  A "Thor-some" if you will...

Noah's Bowman Chrome base rookie.  This one was a must!

A "Farm's Finest Mini" of the hulking right-hander.

Syndergaard will get the ball in Game Three, which will be the first-ever Fall Classic contest played at New York's Citi Field.

Perhaps my favorite of all the Thor cards in this shipment.  This one was the priciest of the quartet, but well worth it.  I really dig these shiny "Bowman is Back" inserts.  Apparently, this one was inserted into Bowman Sterling packs.

Onto the Game Four starter...

I had to get my hands on Matz's 2014 Bowman base card.  Even though it's technically not his "rookie" card, it's pretty much his rookie card.

And I couldn't pass up the Chrome version, either.  I'm glad TC is allowing Matz to take the ball in this series. While he hasn't been as dominant as his right-handed counterparts, the Long Island native has been effective enough to give the Mets a chance to win both times out so far.

Hansel Robles won't get any high-profile opportunities out of the 'pen during the Series, but he's a hard thrower who can eat up an inning or two if needed.  This "Diamond in the Rough" insert is from 2013 Bowman Platinum. Pretty sharp card, if you ask me.

Okay, how about some position players?

I had to stock up on some Michael Conforto cards while they're still priced reasonably.

Conforto hasn't gotten any starts against southpaws in the postseason, but he projects to be the team's everyday left-fielder in 2016.  He looks like quite the pure hitter, and he's got a fantastic arm.

Another of those glittery, shimmery "Bowman is Back" inserts.  This is still Conforto, by the way.

And we'll finish up with a pair of cards that I was super-excited to snag.

From 2014 Finest, this is a die cut refractor insert of New York's backstop.  He's got three homers this postseason and has been solid behind the dish.  Handling this hard-throwing staff can't be easy night after night. I hope his catchers mitt has appropriate padding.

One of the coolest Mets cards of 2015, in my opinion, this is a short-print from Panini's Donruss set.  The design for these SPs is, of course, a nod to the original '81 Donruss set.  I love everything about this card.  The photo choice, the framing, you name it.  The fact that it is bereft of team logos is a complete non-factor in my book.

That'll be a wrap on my latest COMC order.  Really happy to add these shiny new cards to my Mets collection, which is just 81 shy of the 7,000 mark.  Hard to believe!

Enjoy the World Series, folks.  LGM!!!


Monday, October 26, 2015

The Doctor Is In

The Mets are about to embark on their first World Series since the year 2000 and will be looking to claim the crown for the first time since 1986.

One of the cornerstones on that '86 team was, of course, Dwight Gooden.  Unfortunately, drug abuse got the better of Doc beginning that season and he would never reclaim the form of the young phenom that stormed the big leagues the prior two campaigns.

I try not to focus on Doc's downfall, rather choosing to remember the dominance of his early years.  The card you see above -- for which I've built a mini shrine in my sports room -- does a pretty good job of turning back the clock to when Gooden was an electric flame-throwing teenager mowing through minor league lineups.

This amazing card was the centerpiece of the latest PWE I received recently from the amazing Shane of Shoebox Legends.

The card was produced by TCMA back in 1987.  It's kinda strange that they were printing minor league cards of Doc, considering he has been in the big leagues for three years already.  Nonetheless, it's a tremendous card; one that I've had my eye on for a long time now.  Shane has a great knack for reading my mind, I guess, since he very often pegs a card that's been on my radar.

The rest of his latest PWE was equally fantastic, featuring a sweet assortment of Mets spanning the past three decades.

This isn't one of Fleer's best insert designs.  It's as if Mex has entered the fourth dimension or something.  Or he's trapped inside the motherboard of an early Apple computer.  In spite of this, I still really like this card a lot. It's Keith, after all.

A McDonald's oddball of HoJo gets major points, obviously.

Love this one!  It's part of a special 40-card set produced by Score in 1992, highlighting the top rookies in the game. Funny to see Todd wearing the number 49 early in his career, as he was best known for sporting the 9 jersey for the majority of his playing days.

I'll always have a soft spot for '92 Leaf since I vividly remember getting a full retail box of the stuff for Easter that same year.  This is a "black gold" parallel of Bill Pecota, who came to the Mets along with Bret Saberhagen in the Gregg Jefferies trade.

A '94 Donruss Diamond King of the volatile Bobby Bo.

A '94 Donruss MVP insert of combustible Bobby Bo.

Hey, Bobby Bonilla isn't exactly in my Top-50 favorite Mets of all-time, but these are both pretty neat cards. Shoot, anyone to wear the Mets uniform and has a card, I want 'em.  You know the drill by now!

I've probably shared this anecdote numerous times on the blog, but I'll do it again anyways.  Ochoa hit for the cycle on my birthday in 1996.  It was at The Vet in Philly and I clearly remember watching the game on TV after my family took me out for dinner to Red Lobster.  I was 16.  Pretty good birthday.

Bill Pulsipher tossed back-to-back complete games for the Mets in late July of 1995.  The first was a loss at Wrigley while the second was a 4-1 victory over the Pirates at Shea.  Pulse went 5-7 with a 3.98 ERA for the Mets in '95, which was his rookie campaign.

Pulsipher's teammate and fellow member of "Generation K" was Jason Isringhausen, who had the best career of the trio that also included Paul Wilson.  This is a Platinum Portraits insert from '96 Metal Universe. This was a tough hombre to scan!

Another Izzy!  A Rookie Sensations insert from '96 Fleer.  Three-quarters of the card scanned nicely anyhow.

Excited to get this one!  Just my fourth card of Willie as a Met.  For the record, Mays was dealt to the Mets on May 11, 1972 for Charlie Williams and cash.  I still think it's kind of a sin to trade Willie Mays.  No matter how old or ineffective he may have become.  I mean, he's Willie Mays for crying out loud!

And we'll finish with this cool Ballpark Fun insert from 2013 Opening Day.  Johan had just tossed the franchises first-ever no-hitter.  And his reward?  A shaving-cream pie to the face, of course!  Sure beats the heck out of chocolate sauce, no?

Maybe your most eclectic array of cards yet, Shane!  In other words: Perfecto!  Thank you, as always!


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dial 'M' for Murphy (and MVP)

It fills my heart with great joy to type the following collection of words:

The New York Mets are the 2015 National League Champions!!!

By now, you know that Daniel Murphy has ceased his existence as a mere mortal and has requested his mail be forwarded to the Mount Olympus of Baseball.  Seven postseason home runs in nine games, including a blast in six consecutive contests -- a video game-esque streak that places him at a level for which you'd normally require a cheat code

Thus, it was a slam dunk that the humble line-drive hitter was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the recently completed NLCS.

So, here's a parade of Murph cards, one for each long ball that the New York second baseman sent into the darkness of various October nights...

2007 Bowman Chrome Prospects

NLDS, Game 1 @ Dodger Stadium: Solo shot, 4th inning, vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw

2008 Topps Red Hot Rookies

NLDS, Game 4 @ Citi Field: Solo shot, 4th inning, vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw

2009 Allen & Ginter

NLDS, Game 5 @ Dodger Stadium: Solo shot, 6th inning, vs. RHP Zack Greinke

2009 Topps 206

NLCS, Game 1 @ Citi Field: Solo shot, 1st inning, vs. LHP Jon Lester

2011 Topps Diamond Anniversary Edition

NLCS, Game 2 @ Citi Field: Two-run shot, 1st inning, vs. RHP Jake Arrieta

2014 Topps Heritage

NLCS, Game 3 @ Wrigley Field: Solo shot, 3rd inning, vs. RHP Kyle Hendricks

2015 Gypsy Queen

NLCS, Game 4 @ Wrigley Field: Two-run shot, 8th inning, vs. RHP Fernando Rodney


Wow, what a streak!  At least it would kinda make sense if someone like Barry Bonds or McGwire or Sosa were at the steering wheel of such a ride.  But, this is bonkers.  

It further makes this whole postseason seem like some wonderful dream.  The Mets are going to the World Series for the first time since 2000 and are getting offensive heroics from Murphy and mound dominance from a stable of young, imposing arms.  

Hell, if Murph homers in Game One of the Series, I'm quite confident I'll wake up and it'll really be June 23 and Eric Campbell will playing third and batting cleanup against Milwaukee.

So, please do me a favor: Don't pinch me!



Wednesday, October 21, 2015

LGM, NLCS Game 4

I'm not sure if you've heard, but New York's Daniel Murphy is on some kind of home run tear right now.

In 33 at-bats over eight games, Murphy has clubbed an unbelievable six home runs, including one in each of his last five contests -- a streak which matches the postseason record established by Houston's Carlos Beltran back in 2004.

To put things into perspective, Murph had a career high of 14 home runs during the regular year.  In seven big league seasons, the native of Jacksonville, Fla. has collected just 62 round-trippers.

In other words, the Mets' second baseman is putting on an otherworldly exhibition at the plate nowadays.

And he's doing so against some of the game's best.  His six blasts have come against the likes of Clayton Kershaw (twice), Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester.  I don't know who will be named the NL's Cy Young winner this year, but Murphy has a home run off him this postseason.

Thanks in large part to his blistering stretch at the plate, Murph and his Mets teammates are one victory from the World Series.

The above card is from the 2012 Topps Mets Team Set.  It features a totally different photo of Murphy than was used in his regular '12 Topps base card.  As you can see, Murph was handling first base duties at the time of this particular in-game shot.



Tuesday, October 20, 2015

LGM, NLCS Game 3

Jacob deGrom took a pair of losses in two starts against the Cubs during the regular season, yielding eight runs on 12 hits and 10 walks in just 10 1/3 innings.

On Tuesday evening at Wrigley Field, the All-Star right-hander will have a chance to exorcise those demons and lift his club to within one victory of a trip to the World Series.

deGrom is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA and a 20-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio thus far in the postseason.

The above card is Jake's 2015 Finest base card. I came across a copy of it in my local card shop's singles bin last week.  It's my first and only '15 Finest card thus far.



Thursday, October 15, 2015

You Say Wilmer, I Say Wuilmer

The most recent PWE delivery from my guy Shane at Shoebox Legends featured the usual potpourri of cardboard delights, covering everything from Mets to Vlad Guerrero to N.Y. Rangers.  In other words, another grand slam by Shane!

We'll, of course, lead off with the Mets cards.  The purple refractor you see up top is of a player named Wuilmer Becerra.  Who or what is a Wuilmer, you may ask?  Well, this young man was one of the four players the Mets received from Toronto in the R.A. Dickey trade a few years back.  To recap, the Mets snagged catcher John Buck, then-prospects Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard, and Becerra, a lower-level minor leaguer.  In case you were curious, Becerra batted .290 in 118 games for Savannah of the Low-A South Atlantic League this past season.

But, the Mets are an organization blessed not only with a Wuilmer, but a WILMER, too!

The rest of the baseball world is very familiar with Wilmer by now, since his on-field crying episode was trending hard on social media back in late July.  This is a great card, by the way.  I love the Bowman's Best inserts.

We now transition into the Mike Piazza portion of the post.  A pretty awesome "action" insert from 2001 Stadium Club.

This looks like a good time!  I really enjoyed Collector's Choice for stuff like this.  The cards were inexpensive, fun, and featured the same great UD photography.  It was the best of all worlds.

I'm still in the process of tracking down the Mets base cards from this year's TSC release, so I was more than happy to receive this one.  This is a pretty great photo choice for Mike.  As much as he'll be remembered mostly for his offensive exploits, I still favor his 'catchers gear' cards.

I'm trying to avoid all things Dodgers of late, but sometimes it's unavoidable. In this case, I'll just focus on the man.

Let's wash away the sour aftertaste of Dodger Blue with another Mets card.  One of my favorite short-term Mets of all-time is Carlos Baerga.  He was essentially washed up when the club acquired him from Cleveland, but nobody played with more heart than this guy.  He poured his heart and soul into the team and was proud to be a Met.  And for that I'll always be a fan.

Vlad!  Finest!  It looks like he's getting sucked into a vortex of red circles.  I dig it!  This is Vlad card No. 361 in my collection!

And we finish up with a card from the New York Hockey Rangers...

The former captain of the Blueshirts has already netted a pair of goals for Tampa Bay this season.  The Rangers, by the way, are off to a pretty decent start, too.

A tip of the cap to you once again, Shane, for an awesome array of cards!!

Let's Go Mets!


Even More High-lites

Let's delve a little deeper into the world of 2015 Heritage High Number.  Here's another 12-card sampling from the pair of blasters I grabbed a couple weeks ago.  I already showcased most of the important highlights, but when it comes to Heritage, every card matters!

In the leadoff spot is card No. 520, A.J. Burnett.  The former Mets draft pick has thrown his final pitches in the big leagues, as he rides off into the sunset at the age of 38 with 164 wins over 17 seasons.  You'd have to figure this will be A.J.'s final Heritage card.  But, you  never know with Topps!


Walker has the distinction of being the first card in the High Number series.  Christian has appeared in a grand total of 13 major league games, including seven this past season for the O's. Last winter, MLB.com ranked the former fourth-round selection seventh among first base prospects across both leagues.


The lefty-throwing Cecil last appeared in a Topps Heritage set back in 2011.  He has also appeared in the Heritage sets from 2009 and '10 -- the former also being of the High Number variety.  The Maryland native went 5-5 with five saves for the AL East champs this year.


This is Chavez's third-ever Heritage card.  He also popped up in last year's 100-card High Number box set. Prior to that, his rookie card was featured in the 2009 High Numbers series.  Chavez set a dubious career high in 2015 with 15 losses--a total that was second-highest in the league.


In each of the prior three years, the speedy Maybin appeared in the regular 500-card Heritage checklist as a member of the San Diego Padres.  The former first-round draft choice found himself in Atlanta thanks to the Craig Kimbrel trade.  His ten home runs and 59 RBIs for the Braves in 2015 were both career bests.


Urena saw action in 20 games for Miami in 2015, posting a 1-5 mark with an ERA of 5.25 as a part-time starter. His first big league start occurred on May 26 versus the Pirates.


Joyce became an Angel in December of last year when the club acquired him via trade from Tampa Bay.  The Tampa native had a card in this year's regular Heritage set, as well (#117), pictured wearing his prior team's uniform.


I guess I'm not as good of a baseball fan as I thought, because this is the first I've heard of Mason Williams. Quick research tells me he was one of the young outfielders called upon to be a stopgap when Jacoby Ellsbury got hurt early in the season.  Williams clouted a homer in his major league debut--a two-run shot off Baltimore's Ubaldo Jimenez on June 12.


I knew about this guy because I had him on my injury-depleted fantasy baseball team earlier this summer. Jungman, a former first-round pick, has huge upside for the Brewers.  He went 9-8 with a 3.77 ERA for Milwaukee in 21 starts this season.


Here's ex-Met Mike Pelfrey.  New York drafted Big Pelf out of Wichita State with the ninth overall pick in the '05 draft.  While he didn't make the main 500-card checklsit this year, Pelfrey has been featured five times in Heritage sets during his career, including last year's main edition.


After serving as an integral part of San Diego's bullpen for so many years, Gregerson was dealt to Oakland a couple of winters ago before joining Houston via free agency last December.  He led the Astros staff with 31 saves this season.  This is Gregerson's second Heritage card; his first came in 2013's main set.


Quite by coincidence, this post has featured the first card of this series and now it also included the omega card (of the non-SP checklist, anyhow).  Card No. 700 features former-Blue Jay Casey Janssen who joined the Nats as a free agent last winter.  Casey appeared as a member of the Jays in this year's regular Heritage issue, as well (#77).

That's all for now.  I will probably throw another dozen onto the barbie before I get tired of this theme.  Then again, who knows.  If my blogging history has shown anything it's that there is no rhyme or reason.

Til next time.  Let's Go Mets!