Friday, February 23, 2024

2024 Topps Blaster

I probably had the biggest grocery store trip of my life yesterday. We just had the perfect storm of being out of just about everything, wanting to stock up and kind of plan meals for the next 2-3 weeks, and had some of the bigger ticket items on the list. 
If I weren’t off today, I would’ve probably been Mr. Grumpypants, as we started shopping close to 7 and got home close to 10. We kind of took our time going down every aisle, looking at stuff we normally wouldn’t since our tax refund came back. It was a fun night in spite of all of the work of putting it away, and any time I get a chance to spend extended time with Karen and Kyler, there is bound to be some fun had. 

I lucked out and there were blasters of 2024 Topps, and I couldn’t help myself and got some and added to the huge receipt total. I know I’ll probably get the complete set in July, but these inserts aren’t going to get themselves into collectors hands, and it’s nice to have a stack of extras and inserts to trade to other collectors. 
Even after 1 jumbo pack, I only landed 3 dupes. Not too bad, but I don’t know what my reaction would be after another blaster. If it’s anything like 2023 Heritage High Number, that could stop me from pulling the trigger again. 

I like the Stars of MLB insert design, just as I did last year, but the Griffey inserts didn’t do it for me with the weird fonts. They could’ve done it many different ways. Perhaps writing Jr.’s name at the top like the Future Stars design and have the team name like normal. They could’ve just put the insert name on a stamp or something. I’m also confused with the backs. No bio and just career stats. Are they all like that? What’s the point of getting a card with no write up that is part of a player themed insert?  

The Thomas insert was lackluster in my opinion as well. Looks like something Fleer would do. I also wish the names on the ‘89 Topps tribute were more centered or to the right. I don’t remember them being that centered to the left in the ‘80 set. 
I think I’ve pulled the Trout Stars of MLB card for the past 3 years. I’ll be doing my Angels binders when I finish logging the Royals into TCDB (I’ll be starting on the ‘98 sets the next time I have a chance to work on them), and I’m interested in how many Trouts I have and if the values are crazy. I have a few in the rookie binder and parallel binder, but the final number won’t be more than 10 cards off. 
I had some nice ‘keeper cards’ from the blaster. Nick Fortes is from DeLand, and we saw him play in Washington and got an autograph from him last June. I was hoping the Rays would trade for him since we need a decent catcher. Kenley Jansen is the other guy I collect who got pulled. Josh Lowe represents the Rays, and I got 2 Tigers, including an Easter Egg parallel of Brendan White. Not a fan of the Holdiay parallels, but what can you do?  I got the De La Cruz rookie, so with the Henry David and Jasson Dominguez cards I got from the Jumbo pack, I believe I’ve pulled most of the big name rookies. Another option for the Rays to trade for at Catcher would be either Taylor Soderstrom or Shea Langliers. Both of them can’t be Oakland’s starter, and if we trade them a minor leaguer with upside we could get Shea, or maybe as much as I would hate to trade Harold Ramirez, trade him for Shea and a reliever. 
I got a Purple Shimmer parallel of Edwin Diaz, a Rainbow of former Florida Gator Brady Singer. The Soto is a Royal Blue parallel. How many Rays with that get me?  The last 3 are ‘Holiday’ parallels. Not sure what the design is supposed to be. Looks like it could be a flower or a moth or something. They are shiny, though. A coworker of mine knows Austin Hays through his mother, so I might bring that one to work for him. I wonder if he would take any other Rat-Bird cards off of my hands?  I still haven’t pulled the Yandy Diaz Batting Average leaders card, but I got a few of the other leader cards. I appreciate them putting stats on the front. I wish that on the back of the team cards they would put the stats along with team leaders name and the category instead of just putting that Zach Eflin led the Rays in Wins and not telling me how many. Just something I think would be useful. 

I made good progress on TCDB today, finishing Cleveland and getting up to 1998 with KC. That leaves me with the Angels, Twins, A’s, Mariners, Rangers, Jays, Yankee$, rookies, relics, and parallel/special card binders left. It’s slowly coming along, and I would say I’m between 35 and 40 binders to go before it’s done. Bonds and Miguel Cabrera are tied right now for most cards with 230, I believe. Bonds should pass him as I have 2 jerseys of him and only 1 of Cabrera. When I’m finished, I’ll do a post with all of my stats. 

I hope you enjoyed the 2024 Topps blaster. Thanks for checking out my latest post. 


Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Trade and question about ‘80’s players

 Sometime last week, I was able to find a collector on one of my Facebook groups who wanted to finish his 1993 Fleer set. The group is called ‘Junk Era - All Sports - Keep It Real - 1980-1998’, and a good amount of the time, it’s just flipper d-bags trying to sell ungraded player lots with a ton of doubles,  graded 1988 Donruss commons, or just really high priced crap. Every once in a while, a true collector comes on and needs some set help or has something with a realistic price. I have made a few transactions on the page, and for the most part, the guys were stand up people. I purchased a few Traded sets at a good price from 1 or 2 guys, and they were reasonably priced and delivered quickly. There was the idiot who wanted to trade me some common ‘80’s Topps cards I needed, and a Randy Arozarena 2020 Topps Gold Cardinals rookie and a Brandon Lowe Topps Chrome Autographed rookie refractor for my 2018 Topps Update Acuna rookie. That was one of the bad ones. I felt like Acuna is better than Arozarena and Lowe and would’ve had more long term value than the Randy rookie (even though it was a gold version) and the autograph of a streaky and injury prone local fan favorite (no matter how low the serial number). It would’ve taken a number of commons to make the trade even for me (like 1,000+), and we just decided to not do the trade, and I’m happy with the decision. 

This latest trade worked out well for both parties, and I hope we can do another one. I gave up 230 or so 1993 Fleer cards and was able to get him 10 cards away from finishing Series 2. I got 260 or so Topps needs, most from 1984 and 1985. He also threw in a few 1986  and 2002 Topps cards for good measure. 
The stack took a while to go through, but I was able to log it into TCDB, take them off of my Google Docs wantlist, and physically mark them off of my physical paper wantlist. 
Most of the cards were commons or semi stars, but there were some cool cards in as well. Some stars, a few All-Stars, a Joe Morgan ‘85 record breaker, some checklists, 3 guys I collect, a few League Leader cards, and 6 from the ‘85 Father Son sunset. 
I think at one point, I had the Schofield, Stenhouse, and Law versions of those cards signed by both. I’ll have fun adding the whole stack to my boxes and eventually into binders. 

Looking at some of the cards, I wondered how baseball in the ‘80’s was. From hearing stories from people and stuff I’ve seen on MLB network, I get the understanding that speed was king and with infielders, defense was the main focus, and they weren’t expected to hit. Pitchers were expected to go 7-8 innings and relied more on junk than 100 MPH fastballs. 

Some of the stats on the back made me wonder how some of these guys stuck around so long. Had position players put up the offensive numbers or pitchers put up the stats on some of the cards I’ve seen, I think even in the ‘90’s without the SABRMetric stats that they wouldn’t have had the long leash like these cards make it appear. 

Mike Ramsey hit around .250, had zero power (and from the looks of it, not much speed), yet he gets into over 100 games for the ‘82 Cardinals World Championship team. Maybe he was a slick fielding defensive replacement?  Maybe he was the best they had in AAA?

Doug Gwosdz played 4 years for the Padres despite hitting in the .100’s in the Majors and around .260 in the minors. He had a little pop, but with those batting averages, he had better have a little defense to back that up. The Padres had Terry Kennedy and Bruce Bochy. How did Gwosdz keep getting called up?  I am glad that he got to the Majors, as we would’ve probably never have heard his nickname. Teammates called him ‘Eye Chart’ because of the combination of letters in his last name. 

Randy Lerch had a few decent W-L records in his first few seasons, but most of his ERAs started with 4s and 5s. I guess lefties have always been at a premium. 

For most of his career, Steve Nicosia hit in the low .200’s. I’m guessing he was a good defensive catcher. 

I’ve always wondered not only how Flynn got playing time, but how he got into so many card sets. He consistently hit below .250, had no power, and no speed. He must’ve been Robbie Alomar when it came to the glove work. Still, I don’t recall him winning any gold gloves. 

One last one. Derrel Thomas kept hitting around .250 with little power, and it looks like he may have had speed as his saving grace. It just makes me wonder how these players kept getting playing time with the stats they put up. Any guys who watched ball in the ‘80’s have any answers?

Aside from yesterday, I really haven’t had much time in the last week to upload cards into TCDB. Just a product of trying to keep up with housework, having to go grocery shopping, and having other things come up that are more important. 

I was able to get finished with the 1996 sets in my Indians/Guardians binders. If I don’t get dragged into mowing the lawn on Friday (my next off day), I’ll try to finish off that team. 

Things are going to be steady the next few weeks, and some of that is bad, some is good. St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, which means some extra volume at work. On the 21st of March, we will be flying to Grand Rapids, MI and be spending a few days there while seeing one of my younger cousins get married. I have like 30 cousins, but aren’t that close with many of them, because 90% lived in Michigan growing up, and I moved to Florida when I was 8. There are 7 or 8 who we hung out with before we moved, but a number of them weren’t born yet, and there have to be 1 or 2 that I have never met. The one who is getting married falls into the wasn’t born before I moved category, but I have met him a few times. I hope to find some Tigers gear, and more than that, there might be a chance to go to a card shop and meet up with reader Stu, also known as Poison75. All I want is just a few hours at the shop, and hopefully between whatever we plan I will be able to make it out there. It’s going to be a nice little mini vacation and a nice break from work. I just hope this Florida boy doesn’t freeze. 

Hopefully I can make some more trades like this one and get closer to finishing off some Topps sets. Maybe I can also answer the question of why ‘80’s guys with average stats stuck around so long. 

Thanks for taking the time to read my latest post. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

2024 Topps

 I was able to get my hands on some 2024 Topps today, and it is totally different in hand. Parts of it impressed me, and other parts frustrated me. Let's take a look. 
Fitting as my first card of the 2024, I got card #1, Ronald Acuna, Jr. 
The back of it. I guess I'll start with the negative stuff first so I can end on a positive. I feel like the back has too much white. Maybe a picture could've made it better. Feels like the back of a '97 or '98 Score card. the fonts are way too small in some areas. I can read his name, barely read the team name, the position is about at my breaking point, and the Height/Weight/etc. is unreadable unless I bring it close to my eyes or take my contacts out. The stats are at that unreadable font size, but it's not the case with all players. The bio underneath the stats is perfect. If they would've left that font size for everything, it would've been perfect. The last issue I have is the color bar that has the stats on it. For many teams with a lighter color, the color bar makes the stats unreadable. For teams with a dark color, you can easily see the white color of the stats. With a few changes, this could be a great back, like some of the Big League backs in recent years. 
Theres a comparison of a light colored stat bar with a darker one. See the difference?
I purchased a jumbo pack. Nothing earth-shattering, but it helped scratch the itch and get me a sampling of the inserts. Unfortunately for me, I got one of that over-rated Yankee Jeter. Pete Alonso was in a 2023 highlight-ish insert, and I pulled an '89 redux of Luis Robert. Kudos to Topps for sticking with the White Sox colors from the original 1989 set. I got a decent selection of the 30 teams, missing a few, but getting most of them. 
I was hoping to pull the Rays League Leader cards, especially the one comemmorating Yandy Diaz's batting title. 
The last insert I pulled must've been a rainbow foil card of Pirates rookie Carmen Mlodzinski. TCDB doesn't have the main checklist or parallel ones up yet, so I wasn't able to log anything in. I was hoping they would have picture of some of the rainbow parallels up, because I really thought the card was a gold parallel because of the border color. It doesn't have a serial number, so I would have to assume it is a rainbow. I got 2 Tigers, Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene, 2 guys I hope play 162 games and rake in 2024. I'm happy with pulling the Rays team card, as it features an awesome shot of Randy Arozarena and the team. The no-hit Valdez card was a nice surprise, and will go in my highlight binder. I pulled some of the key rookies with Henry Davis and Jasson Dominguez. As much as I can't stand Yankee$, at least if Dominguez is as good as they hype him up to be, this card might be worth a little. I believe DeLuca was one of the guys the Rays got in the Glasnow fleecing. Hopefully him and Pepiot make the trade worth it. At least they got rid of no-hit/decent field Manuel Margot. 

Not a knock your socks off pack, but I think I got some decent cards. What impressed me was the printing technology. Pictures from their sell sheets as well as the ones I've taken and posted don't do the fronts justice. There is some kind of unique, almost foilboard technology running along the neon parts of the card. You can really see it if you hold it up to the light, and it is also very visible on Future Star cards. If your fingers aren't too rough, you can almost feel a raised area where it is, especially along the team names. Just a nice touch and really makes those areas of the card almost glow. Definitely give it a look when you get your hands on a pack. 

I'm in the process of making a trade of some 1993 Fleer cards for some random Topps needs. I might get some cards from a cheap common site to finish off a few sets as well, so hopefully that will happen in a few weeks. I finished the White Sox and am working on putting the Indians/Guardians into TCDB.  Didn't get as far as I had hoped last week, but I spent some time cleaning and was digging 200+ Fleer cards out of binders/boxes, so that took some time. No more off days this week, so I'll be happy with getting to the mid '00's in my Cleveland binders done. 

I hope you enjoyed your first look at 2024 Topps. Thanks for checking out my latest post.

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Random things I’ve found on cards

Most of you who have read this blog for any amount of time know that I have a few different areas or types of cards that I collect. Those would be all Topps base cards, Rays/Devil Rays and Detroit Tigers cards, some favorite players, sunset cards, highlight cards, maybe some shiny types of cards, and that’s really about it. Many people who have blogs focus more on what’s happening in the pictures on the cards and collect variations of that. Some things include bubble blowing, bunts, pitchers batting, various uniform types, night photos, and many other things. While I don’t generally pay too great details to the photos on cards, it doesn’t mean that I don’t pay attention to the photos on them. After reading this post from Night Owl, I figured I would post some (random) things that I have noticed on cards and try to find the card with the earliest showing of the said thing. I have chosen to include only major issue cards since many minor league cards have had some interesting photos on them and I barely have any minor league cards. I also welcome any additions to this list and help if you know of an earlier card showing the subject. Let’s see what interesting things I have found. 

These are in no particular order. 

COMPUTER- 1990 Upper Deck #461 Rob Murphy
Most everyone knows of this card and the story behind it. Murphy used the portable computer to do stuff with horse racing and baseball related stats. 

SMART WATCH- 2020 Topps Update #U-51 Matt Davidson
I’ve shown this card before. Probably taken during Spring Training, this photo is the first one I’ve seen of a player wearing a smart watch on a card. I assume a manager card on a ‘50’s Topps card probably has the first major issue picture of a normal watch. 

MEDICAL DEVICE- 2004 Topps #533 Jason Johnson
Jason is a Type 1 diabetic, and he was the first person to be approved by MLB to wear a medical device on the field, paving the way for others in the future. His pump delivers insulin continuously throughout the day like a normal working pancreas would. It also can deliver insulin when he eats food and when his blood glucose levels get too high. Without the pump, he would have to take insulin shots and his glucose levels wouldn’t be as stable as they are with the pump. He has his clipped to his belt on his left and it contains an insulin pod that has a small tube coming from it. The tube is connected to the body via an injection site that is inserted with a needle. Usually the insulin pod lasts for 5-7 days and then everything needs to be changed. I would assume Johnson has his injection site in his stomach. I met him before and he’s a pretty nice guy. 

BREATHE RIGHT STRIP- 1996 Leaf Signature Series #99 Kirby Puckett
I don’t know if the strips came out before 1995 or so, but I feel like they were a pretty new thing in the ‘90’s, and this card of Puckett was the first one I’ve seen with a nasal strip on a player. 

TEDDY BEAR- 1998 Upper Deck #381  Jim Eisenreich 
There may be an earlier version of a bear on a card, especially with the minor league issues, but this ‘98 Upper Deck card of Super Jim Eisenreich is the first one I’ve seen with a bear on it. 

HELLO KITTY- 2007 Upper Deck #236 John McDonald
I would’ve never caught this, but at a Spring Training game in 2008 or 2009, John was signing autographs, and someone saw my card and commented that I had the ‘Hello Kitty card’. After John signed it, I took a closer look, and sure enough, John is signing a Hello Kitty notebook in the photo. 

BASEBALL CARD- 1982 Fleer #524 Pete Falcone
Perhaps there is an earlier card showing a player signing a card, but this card is the earliest one I know with a full baseball card on it. 

WATER FOUNTAIN- 2002 Fleer Greats of the Game #71 Sparky Anderson
There may be a card with a dugout shot of one that I’m not aware of, but I immediately noticed the water fountain on this card when I pulled it from a pack in 2002. 

PARROT- 1991 Studio #216 Steve Lake
One of the most famous cards from the ‘91 Studio set, this card shows Steve Lake and his pet parrot named Ruffles. I wish somebody could get ahold of Steve and see if Ruffles is still alive or if he has any stories about the bird. 

SNAKE- 1984 Fleer #182 Glenn Hubbard
I figured the snake was Hubbard’s pet, but apparently it was the Philly Phanatic’s burthday and someone brought their snake along. Hubbard asked to get a picture with it, and the picture made it on his card. 

SNOW- 1998 Upper Deck #353 Kurt Manwaring
I would’ve never noticed this except for Beckett mentioning it in an article in 1998. There could be others, as Boston and New York get pretty cold in April, but this is the first one I’m aware of. 

ATV- 1994 Collectors Choice #221 Greg Olson
This is another one I have a feeling might not be the oldest reference, but something as big as an ATV would be hard to miss. 

FIRE- 1991 Score Dream Team #884 Doug Jones
I’m pretty sure it’s really fire coming from the ball and not a photo effect. I feel like the ‘90’s would do stuff like this a bunch. 

ICE- 1994 Stadium Club #488 Mike Mussina
Can’t have fire without ice, right?  This one also features ice picks in it as well. I prefer the heat over the cold as I’ve lived in Florida 90% of my life, and if he’s anything like me, I don’t know how Mussina survived this photo shoot if it was real. 

APPLE- 1992 Upper Deck #751 Bret Saberhagen
I wonder if he got to eat it after they were done shooting. 

2X4- 1993 Topps #439 Bryan Harvey
In 1993, Topps had their first cards of the new expansion teams and came up with some interesting sets for them to get their card photos done. Harvey’s ‘93 Topps card shows him leaving against a structure made of 2x4’s 

CACTUS- 1993 Topps #691 Jim Tatum
Another ‘93 Topps expansion card, Tatum is somewhere in the southwest US that contains some cacti and rock formations. 

RUSSIAN CHARACTERS- 1993 Topps #633 ‘Three Russians’
While not in the actual picture, this has to be one of the only cards that features Russian characters on the card. Another gem from the ‘93 Topps set. 

PLASTIC SILVERWARE- 1994 Stadium Club #448 Eric Pappas
Pappas was enjoying a snack and got the first card with plastic utensils on it. Wish I knew what he was eating. 

SWORD- 1992 Studio #86 Jose Lind
Does anyone know the story behind the sword and the photo. 

SURFBOARD- 1988 Fleer #582 Tim Flannery
Most everyone knows the story behind this card. Flannery got a sponsorship deal and got the board on the card. 

BEACH BALL- 1991 Upper Deck #571 Bert Blyleven
I wonder if it was his beach ball, the Angels ball, or if he got it from a fan in the bleachers. Even more than that, I wish a company would make a card of him wearing this

GUARDRAIL- 1992 Bowman #211 Joe Sondrini
There are some great photos in 1992 Bowman, and this is the only card I know of that has a guardrail on it. With the mountains in the background, it could very well be in Pittsburgh. If only we knew what road it was on. 

SOD PIECE- 1994 Stadium Club #400 Orel Hershiser 
There was a story about the sod bringing the Dodgers good luck, and somebody got a photo of Orel unloading it from a shopping cart. Perhaps the shopping cart appearance is a first as well on this card. 

DUMBBELL- 1984 Fleer #222 Jose Cruz
I figured the ‘90’s would be the first appearance of a dumbbell, but this ‘84 Fleer card shows Cruz with one. 1984 Fleer has a few gems in it. 

COW- 1996 Collectors Choice #484 Rex Hudler
One of the only ones on the back, Hudler was in a cow milking competition and somehow got photographed and it made it on the back of a card. 

FIRE EXTINGUISHER- 1998 Topps #184 Jeff Montgomery
While also featured on the next card listed, I figured I would give this one to Monty since the other card gets its own item. 

FIRE HELMET- 1998 Topps #3 Billy Wagner
The Wagner card also has an extinguisher on it, but also features a fire helmet on Wagner. I believe an earlier Fleer issue features a Roland’s Reliever of the Year trophy with a helmet on it, but as a trophy, I don’t think it should count. 

STETHOSCOPE- 1995 Collectors Choice SE #197 Jose Rijo
I’ve already posted about Rijo’s amazing cards. This one is the first (and only) one I know of to show a stethoscope on it. My wife says the Libman ones are the best brand, so let’s hope Rijo had one. 

PLASTIC BAT- 1997 Upper Deck #290 Tim Salmon
This is another one that may not be the earliest appearance, but it’s the first one I’ve seen. 

METAL BAT- 1992 Topps #256 Mike Aldrete
While I’m not totally sure, I really think the bat Aldrete is holding is a metal one. The black around the handle looks like a grip from a metal one, and it just looks more like a silver color to me than the grains you would see in a wood bat. Someone needs to find out where Aldrete is coaching at and ask him if he was indeed holding a metal bat on the card. 

I don’t think I’ll start a special binder with any of these cards or set them aside or anything, but maybe if you collect these kinds of cards you have found a few to add to your collection. I’ll keep my eye out for more interesting things as I’m going through my binders and see if I can add more to this post and maybe make a part 2. 

This week I’ll try to get the Red Sox entered into TCDB. Should be able to finish them by Friday, and that will be my day off of work. The White Sox are partially done, so I’ll be starting from 1988 or so with them. If it’s a productive week, I may just finish both pairs. 

Rock the Universe was a long but fun night. Went on a Simpsons motion simulator ride, and now that I’m older, even that type of ride messed with my stomach. Glad we didn’t go on any roller coasters. We saw Brandon Lake and Phil Wickham perform, and they did a great job. The worship band actually did Phil’s ‘This is Amazing Grace’ on Sunday, so it was kind of cool seeing him do the song and then having us do it the next day. This week we had a full band of me on keys, Karen on vocals, Joe on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Stan on vocals, Dana on bass, Steve on drums, Bill on electric guitar, and Eduar on acoustic guitar. We did 4 songs, including Brandon Lake’s ‘Graves into Gardens’, and it was just great playing with a full band. With that many instruments it’s just a full sound and you don’t hold back because it’s loud. I really hope we can get a good consistent run of a few months with this band lineup and do more new songs like we’ve been doing because the congregation loves singing them and it just fuels them with a louder fuller band. I’ll have to see if the service is up on YouTube because it was just a nice set of 4 songs today. Maybe I’ll keep updating how the services I play at go if there’s any interest. If not, I’ll just stick with the random things I find on cards. 

Thanks for checking out my latest post.