Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Cardboard Association

No, I don't mean starting or being part of a group interested in cardboard.

I'm talking about a piece of cardboard reminding you of something. Baseball cards connect us to a lot of personal experiences. I have a specific memory of going to a card show as a kid with my uncle who now lives on the other side of the country and haven't seen in 15+ years. I remember doing chores to get a couple of quarters for a pack of cards. Trading cards with friends, even it it meant giving up two or three just to get the one I needed/wanted at the time. Buying my first whole box of cards for the guaranteed autograph, only for it to be the worst possible card on the checklist.

But now I'm afraid I've gone too deep. Because now, I'm associating cards with other cards.

Yesterday's post is a great example. I showed off a Jedd Gyorko card because of the Cubs Cameos. While conducting research for the post, I connected the card to Ian Happ's MLB debut. And the way my brain works, that memory is now there and won't go away.

So anytime I see this Gyorko card...

...I'm going to think of Ian Happ and his debut.

But wait. I already have cards in my mind associated with Ian Happ's debut!

Happ earned a Topps Now card by homering in his MLB debut. He also showed up twice in 2017 Topps Update, including the above Rookie Debut card that is dated May 13, 2017. These fraternal twins now have a stepbrother. Half brother?

Three cards from three different sets are now connected in the deep recesses of my brain.

To be fair, I've done this before but two different players/teams/plays is what makes this different. Previously, the closest I had gotten were different angles/shots of the same play. Like the above Happs by themselves. 

Or the 1989 Topps Team Leaders cards from White Sox and Mariners.

Or these Charles Johnson cards from 1999 Fleer Tradition and Stadium Club.

Same play at the plate with Jose Hernandez and Jeff Blauser in the background.

Anybody have any others that come to mind? Or connect cards with other cards for reasons only known to you?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Cubs Cameo: 2018 Topps #189 Jedd Gyorko

A few weeks ago, I had a post about the 2018 Topps Starlin Castro card. It featured a nice moment, Castro tipping his cap to the Cubs dugout in his first trip back to Wrigley Field after being traded to the Yankees. But one of the things that made it a keeper was the Willson Contreras cameo in the background.

Fast forward to this past weekend and I picked up a few packs at Toys R Us. I haven't been to one of these in a while, I've got a high school junior and a college freshman. But after seeing what purple parallels go for, I thought I'd give them a try. I didn't pull a single purple Cub, but after sorting my base cards I did come across the Jedd Gyorko card.

There are only two good reasons I would keep a Cardinals card for my collection. Ivy in the background or a Cubs cameo.

In this case, we have another Willson Contreras sighting! And like the Castro card, we also see another umpire (Bill Welke). Umpires seem to be popping up on cards again after having been edited out or avoided for a long time. And to complete the quartet, we get a glimpse of the pitcher Jon Lester. A two-fer in terms of Cubs cameos!

Heading over to Getty Images, I searched "gyorko cubs 2017" which provided me with just 21 results. Easy Peasy.

With the full photo, there is one aspect that sticks out that eluded me with just the card. The bat is pink, as are the uniform number and undershirt sleeve on Lester. This photo was from Mother's Day weekend, when the MLB makes tweaks to uniforms and gear.
ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 13: St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Jedd Gyorko (3) hits a home run in the bottom of the 4th inning during a MLB baseball game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs on May 13, 2017 at the Busch Stadium in Saint Louis, MO. (Photo by Jimmy Simmons/Icon Sportwire)
According to the caption, this was on May 13th, the Saturday before Mother's Day. And unfortunately, it says the photo shows a Gyorko home run. There's no final score so let's head over to Baseball-Reference for the boxscore.

Well, that's not optimal.

According the BaseballReference chart, Gyorko's home run was the #2 play influencing win expectancy, increasing the Cardinals chances of winning by 13%.

Up until this home run, the game was tied 1-1. And interestingly, both runs were driven in by the starting pitchers (plays 3 & 4). The Cardinals would tack on three more to make it 5-1 before Ian Happ, who was making his MLB debut, homered in the 8th (the 5th play). It was his first Major League hit, though he was on base three of his four plate appearances.

I couldn't figure out how to embed the video but here is a link to the Gyorko home run.

As for the top play, here's another interesting video from this game, a slide intereference call against Happ on a double play ball. That's one of those plays where you have to hate the rule, not the umpires but it sure was a rally killer.

After watching that last video, I clearly remember watching that game live on TV for Happ's debut but nothing about the Gyorko home run.

Monday, February 26, 2018

A Pair of New Kris Bryants from The Lost Collector

The chase for Series 1 is slowing down a bit. I've picked up most of the cards I wanted and now it's a waiting game for the others to come down to a more reasonable price level.

In the meantime, I'm trying to be more active in wheelin' and dealin' for needs/wants. If you missed my post yesterday, I have some Series 1 inserts (including about two dozen Toys R Us purple parallels) and base dupes available.

I've been reading The Lost Collector for years but I'm going to count this as a Twitter trade. I recently started following AJ on Twitter (@Lost_Collector) when I came back to blogging and that's where all of the communication for this happened.

On Saturday I received a two-card PWE from AJ (AKA The Lost Collector) and both cards were needs! These are my 93rd and 94th unique Cubs cards from just 2018 Topps Series One (a little overkill there, Topps?)

The Legends in the Making card is actually the blue parallel version of the base insert. Yes, parallels of inserts have been around a while, but that doesn't make it any less ridiculous. There is also a black version which I am still keeping an eye out for both Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.

Why is Kris Bryant a Legend in the Making? Aside from being the first player to be the College PLayer of the Year, Minor League Player of the Year, MLB NL Rookie of the Year and MLB NL Most Valuable PLayer in four consecutive years, here's what the back of the card has to say:

As for the other card, this one is a retail exclusive and since a lot of the sellers early on are hobby case breakers, is had evaded me until now.

The decision to have an Opening Day insert set in the flagship product when you already have a full set called opening Day is a little puzzling. The set doesn't scream "Opening Day!" to me and aside from the quarter circle red, white and blue bunting behind his name and the words Opening Day, this could have been used as a different insert set. This actually feels like a Bunt insert to me, but what do I know.

The back makes more references to Opening Day, but again, could have been used for something else. Despite that, I actually like the design, which doesn't happen very often with these heavily manipulated images.

Thanks AJ for the additions, I'll have some Yankees heading your way!

Counters on the right have been updated as well!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

2018 Topps Series 1 Trade Bait (Lots of Purple)

Instead of doing a repack today, I'm going to post all of the miscellaneous inserts and dupes I have available from Series 1. i picked up a bunch of Toys R Us packs to see what I could pull for purple parallels so there's a bunch of those. Let me know if you see anything you like. Want List at the end.

Unscratched JD Martinez Home Run Challenge

Base Legends in the Making - McCutchen x2, Trout x2, Stanton, Benintnedi, Posey, Donaldson, Judge, Moncada

Parallel Legends in the Making - Seager (Black), Judge (Black), Altuve (Black), Syndergaard (Blue)

Salute - Robles (Rookie), Sano (Memorial Day), Calhoun (Rookie), Ripken (Legends), Bellinger (Father's Day), Lindor (Father's Day)

Awards - Altuve (Silver Slugger), Goldschmidt (Fielding)

Superstar Sensations - Robinson Cano, Jose Altuve

Base 1983 Inserts - Adam Jones, Robinson Cano, Nolan Arenado, Jake Arrieta, Mike Trout

Gold Base Parallels - David Dahl, Erick Fedde

Rainbow Foil Parallels - Gurriel, Braun, Nunez, Davis, Sano

And on to the purple Toys R Us Parallels:

Aledmys Diaz

Zack Greinke League Leaders

Hisashi Iwakuma, Edwin Diaz

Parker Bridwell, Matt Shoemaker, Justin Upton

Luis Santos, Zack Godley

Mark Trumbo, Chris Sale

Christian Arroyo, Hunter Pence, Ty Blach

Dominic Smith, Travis d'Arnaud, Brett Gardener, Dellan Betances

Ichiro, Alex Colome

Anthony Rendon, Chad Kuhl

Adam Wainwright, Scooter Gennett

Neil Walker, Corey Knebel, Brett Phillips

Jose Abreu, Jose Iglesias

Danny Salazar, Jason Kipnis

Brandon Finnegan, Mark Reynolds

Base Dupes:

3, 9, 16, 22, 38, 40(x3), 50, 58, 59, 62, 66(x3), 68, 75, 79, 82, 91, 97, 101, 104, 108, 110, 112, 113, 118, 119, 120, 121, 124, 127, 130, 136, 146, 147, 153, 154, 155, 159, 161, 164, 165,170, 185, 194, 201, 202, 215, 220, 222, 226, 229, 235, 239, 242, 244, 253, 254, 259, 261, 265, 267, 269, 271, 274, 280, 298, 307, 315, 317, 321, 326, 330, 337, 348, 350

Looking for:

More of the Cubs Home Run Challenges (Bryant, Rizzo or Contreras)

Base & Black Legends in the Making - Bryant and Rizzo, have the blue parallels

Any of the Kris Bryant Highlights cards (including blue and black parallels)

Player's Weekend Patch from Blasters - Rizzo, Schwarber, Bryant

Base Parallels - 
   Gold - Rizzo, Happ, Contreras, Schwarber
   Rainbow Foil - Happ, Quintana, Baez, Uehara

Base Needs:

4, 5, 6, 13, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 33, 34, 35, 36, 39, 44, 46, 49,

51, 54, 55, 60, 64, 67, 70, 72, 73, 76, 81, 83, 86, 89, 90, 93, 96, 98,

102, 106, 107, 108, 114, 115, 117, 123, 126, 132, 139, 140, 141, 142, 145, 

150, 151, 152, 163, 166, 167, 173, 174, 176, 181, 182, 187, 188, 189, 191, 196, 197, 199, 

200, 204, 206, 208, 209, 211, 212, 214, 216, 219, 224, 227, 228, 230, 231, 236, 237, 238, 240, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249,

250, 251, 252, 255, 256, 258, 264, 273, 275, 277, 279, 282, 285, 290, 291, 292, 294, 296, 299, 

309, 311, 313, 314, 319, 320, 323, 324, 327, 333, 336, 338, 339, 340, 343, 344, 345, 349

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Two Random Rynos

In this weekly series, I show off two random Ryne Sandberg cards from my 600+ card PC. One will be from his playing days (pre-1998) and one since his retirement (1998-present).

This was another busy week of incoming 2018's so I didn't make much headway with adding older stuff to my cataloging efforts. At this rate, I might pass 100 cards from 2018 before the second set gets released!

I also added a fifth counter in the right sidebar. The second one down will be counting the cards added to my various collections in this calendar year. Early on this will mostly be 2018 cards, but when making a few eBay purchases, I've maximized shipping by picking up a few known older needs/wants from various sellers as well. A few trade packages have also added some older cards to my collection. In theory, the top two will reset at the end of the year and the bottom three will be running totals.

Anyway, on to the two random Rynos.

Playing Days:

I don't have much to say about this base card out of 1985 Fleer. I liked these combo cards as a kid and was always confused as to why these subsets weren't "worth" as much as the cards of the stars' individual cards in the price guides. I mean, come on, this card had two stars!

Mike Schmidt is featured as one of the NL Pitcher's Nightmares due to his premiere power hitting. Ryne Sandberg was coming off his MVP season in 1984.

Schmidt is one of the few NL super stars that I have been unable to find on an Ivy card. My search methods aren't perfect or all encompassing but I've been usually able to track one down for most players. Any Mike Schmidt super collectors out there willing to look through their collection?

Post Retirement:

Ryno's post retirement card comes from an insert set out of 2011 Topps, a Kimball Champions of Games and Sports mini. This was a 100-card set which included three Cubs players. The other two were Ernie Banks and Starlin Castro.

The top photo on the card is one that Topps has used since, and probably before. If the bottom one has been used, I haven't seen it unless it was cropped tighter as it a fairly generic swinging batter.

The artist rendering is taken from this source photo, a Sandberg at-bat in Game 2 of the 1984 NLCS. That would make the catcher Terry Kennedy of the San Diego Padres. Sandberg went 2-4 with an RBI in the game to help the Cubs go up two games to none. We all know what happened after that.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

To Scratch or Not To Scratch?

While picking up my parallels and inserts that weren't included in my basic Cubs team set, I also picked up the three Home Run Challenge cards that featured Cubs players.

The two usual suspects, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo were included.

As was catcher, Willson Contreras.

Three cards from one team in a 50-card set may seem like a bit of overkill to non-Cubs fans. But the reality is that the Cubs tied a record last year with six players that hit 20 home runs. For all I know, and I'll admit I'm too lazy to confirm, Topps just picked the 50 guys with the most home runs last year.

*EDIT* Never mind, scratch that theory. Contreras only hit 21. Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Javier Baez all had more home runs, just on the Cubs.

The back side of the card has a scratch off area which provides you a code. You go to the Topps website, enter your code and select the date you think your player will hit a home run. If they do, you win a prize. Apparently it is a parallel of the card you pull and there will be different parallels for each month. All entries, win or lose, are put into a drawing for a monthly prize.

I like the idea of this contest. I'd love it even more if these were a one-per-pack pull. Seriously, what would it cost Topps to print out extra parallels for the winners? Maybe it's just me but I feel like this would engage a lot of customers. Get them to your website. Buy more packs to try and pull more. Cards (different players?) will also be found in Series 2 and Allen & Ginter.

When I picked these cards up, I didn't really have any intention to scratch them. But now...I'm leaning towards it. I'm sure there will be unscatched ones available in packs for years to come, long after the time to redeem them has passed.

What are you doing with yours?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

IVY: A Pair of 1988 Fleer Oddball Vince Colemans

I have almost 500 cards in the Ivy collection and need to whittle down some of the numbers where I have duplicates for the Frankenset. I want to make sure each card gets its due so I've decided that over the course of a month or so, I will sprinkle in individual posts. When I have exhausted what I have for each binder page, I'll post which ones made the cut. Once I have a full page, I'll add a tab up top where you can view each page. I have multiple representatives for many of the first 99 numbers (11 full pages) which should get me through all of 2017.

We're nearly done with February and I still haven't shown off the first full page of the Ivy Frankenset. Let's speed things up a bit with card #7 and make it a two-fer.

Both of these Vince Coleman cards were put out by Fleer in 1988. The card on the left was in the Fleer Baseball MVP set, while the one on the right was Fleer Baseball's League Leaders. Presumably, Coleman is included for Stolen Bases, where he led the league for his first six seasons.

The two card share a brand, player, location and even possibly the same play. My assumption is Coleman is on second base (nice Ryne Sandberg cameos) and on the move to third at the crack of the bat. Left card has him tracking the ball in the air over the infield. Right card is a step later and the ball is passing over his head into the outfield. For all I know, this is a foul ball and not real trackable, but I'm going to head over to Baseball Reference anyway and see what I can dig up.

Coleman played at Wrigley in two games in April, four games in June, and three games in September. In 1987, all games at Wrigley were day games, so that doesn't help much. The Ivy looks too green to be the early season April games but I took a look anyway.

In the 6th inning on April 7, 1987, the above happened. He was on base three times that day but this was the only plausible scenario.

Two days later on April 9, Coleman led off the 3rd inning with a walk and promptly stole 2nd and 3rd. Unless there was a left side foul ball in between stolen bases, probably not this one.

The exact same scenario to lead off the 7th inning. How good was Coleman on the base paths?! Four stolen bases in a game will get you a Topps Now card these days.

Fast forward to the June series and Coleman keeps getting on base. This time, on June 4, Coleman singled in the 5th inning. Like the previously two, unless there's a foul ball out of play, not likely. He also singled in the 7th but didn't make it to 2nd base.

On June 5th, Coleman singled, but didn't advance, and walked but went 1st to 3rd on an error. 

In the June 6th game, Coleman again reached twice. On base machine. He walked but went 1st to 3rd again. He also singled in the 9th but was stranded at 1st.

The June 7th game got off to a rocky start when Coleman led off with a single followed by three straight walks before getting a sac fly for the first out. Coleman would single two mores times but go 1st to 3rd on an Ozzie Smith single, and 1st to home on a Smith triple.

Like clockwork, Coleman reached two more times whn the Cardinals came back to Wrigley on September 25th.

He made it second but scored on a single to right field, not left a sit appears in the photo.

A walk to lead off the 8th left him stranded on 2nd.

September 26th has Coleman reached base three time. This is getting ridiculous!

A leadoff walk is erased when a Cubs catcher finally catches him stealing.

In the top of the 3rd, I have my best option thus far. On second base with a pop fly to left field. Two outs, so Coleman is on the move. Coleman would single again in the 5th but be the forceout at second on a groundball.

It wouldn't be Vince Coleman at Wrigley if he didn't get on base two more times in his final game at Wrigley that season.

On September 27th, Coleman again leading off the game on base. A single to left field moved Coleman from 2nd to 3rd but on the card, the ball would clearly be in the air.

His final time on base at Wrigley in 1987 puts him the possible situation yet again. However a single to right field makes it doubtful.

Assuming the flyball on the card in question is a fair ball, the choice really comes down to the Ozzie Smith fly ball in the first game or the Tommy Herr fly ball on September 26th. Because the Ivy in the background is full and green, I'm going with the Herr play. 

Based on that one season at Wrigley, you'd have thought Coleman was a Hall of Fame player! As you can see above, while he did alright over the course of his career, that season was a bit of an anomaly.