Sunday, July 30, 2017

Exchanging with Johnny's Trading Spot, Vol. 2

2017 has been a slow year of trading for yours truly, but that is mostly of my own doing. Lots going on and little to zero new cardboard coming in to provide as trade fodder. Yet, when I saw a 2017 Stadium Club VOGELMONSTER card being dangled over at Johnny's Trading Spot . . . well, I went scrounging for cards to send to John for a second time this month. (Here's the first swap from early July.)

Believe it or not, I had already acquired the gold foil and the black foil before I could add this base card to my VOGELMONSTER player collection. I didn't mind buying the parallels on Ebay, but I knew someone would eventually pull a base card I could trade for!

Here are the other Stadium Club cards we agreed to swap.
 Stadium Club is my favorite set of 2017 and my decision is based solely upon the photography. Maybe Topps Gallery or Topps Fire will change my mind later this collecting season when they are released in Wal-Mart and Target, respectively.
 Choosing Derrek Lee to make a cameo in the set was a nice surprise!
Zach McAllister played ball for a local rival high school back in the day. I have a modest collection of Z-mac and I wouldn't mind seeing it blossom into something larger at some point.

And now, on to the non Stadium Club portion of the package. John, being John, sent more than the Dan Vogelbach card, which was quite generous! 
 I'm fairly certain I have now achieved complete team set status for this particular 2000 Upper Deck release. I was missing the Kerry Wood, and this copy has been moved to his binder.

Other cards new to my collection:
 The 5-Tool insert cards are pretty neat. I think the Baez card is really well done and the photo selection is right on. The Zobrist card is another solid addition!
Quite the stocking stuffer of cards!  Thanks for the quick trade, John!

Friday, July 28, 2017

A Pack of 2017 Donruss Optic

Donruss Optic is to Donruss as Topps Chrome is to Topps' flagship product. Fair enough.
Regardless, I like shiny!  Four cards in a pack and possibly a Mickey Mantle card? That would be cool.  I read an article about the Mantle Estate agreeing to a deal with Panini America. Could this be a small step towards Panini gaining an MLB license?

Enough postulating. On to the cards!
Wow, super shiny!  You can see the orange outline of my iPhone case in the background. Those Pirates uniforms are so sweet. I love the black pants with the yellow stripe and I wish more teams would explore other options besides the bland white and gray.
I traded for Villar last off season in my fantasy league and chose him as one of my keepers. He's had a really rough season and so has my squad.  Oh, and when did the Diamond Kings get away from the artwork?
This is a nice surprise. It's some sort of refractor of Joey Votto, maybe the "Caroline Blue" parallel, numbered to 50.
In my book, Joey Votto is about as professional a hitter as you will find in today's game.

Last card in the pack:
The Rated Rookie takes me back to my childhood. Mitch Haniger isn't a bad player, although he has slumped since coming off the DL a month or so ago.

I heard Topps Chrome drops next week with a 200 card set, FIFTY of which will be rookie cards. It almost sounds like they are taking a page out of Panini's Rated Rookie subset with that large of a number. 2017 is the year of the rookie craze though... so why not?

Hope you enjoyed the pack. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Book Review: Teammate

Title: Teammate 

Author: David Ross with Don Yeager 

Genre: Autobiographical

Ease of Reading: This was a really quick read for me. The print is fairly large, it's well written, I'm a fanboy of David Ross and the World Series Champion Cubs. The 242 pages really never stood a chance.

Synapse: The formatting of the book really kept things flowing. In chapter one the book starts with the morning before Game 7 of the World Series, but also in chapter one we learn about David's baseball path before he was drafted by the Dodgers. Periodically, journal entries from Ross' iPhone are introduced to chronicle the play of the 2017 Cubs throughout the season. As the chapters increase in number, the story lines of Game 7, David's career, and the Cubs 2017 season continue to move to a common culmination. I found it fascinating how there seemed to be a lot of give and take between the three different story lines and how easy it was to follow each of them as the pages turned.
Comments: I thoroughly enjoyed reading how David Ross blossomed into a clubhouse leader and truly embraced the role even though he was "just" a back-up catcher. I could sense his passion for winning, family, and his teammates and he detailed the peaks and valleys of attempting to balance all three without pulling any punches as an author. As a high school baseball coach I was looking for some characteristics which Ross really thought were important in being a good teammate and leader. Here's how I interpreted his words:
1. Work Ethic - Work hard and with pride. It's an easy way to gain respect.
2. Trust - Being a part of a team is as much about trusting in your teammates as anything else.
3. Make an effort to get to know everyone and what makes them tick.
4. Don't be afraid to call someone on the carpet when it needs to be done. This is probably the most difficult for many people. If you do the first three points though, then this last one is maybe a little easier for others around you to swallow.

Grade: I asked my sister to give this book to me as a birthday present when I first learned about. I waited a little while to get my hands on it, at no fault of my sister, but when I finally had a copy I pretty much devoured it. I haven't ripped through a book at that torrid of a pace in quite some time. Is it forevery baseball fan?  Probably not. It helps to be a Cub fan or be to be interested in being a better teammate, and it certainly helps to be both, like myself. Heck, if you're into baseball biographies and autobiographies then this one is for you, too. I may be a little biased, but I'm going to grade it out as 'A' material. It hit all my expectations and even brought occasional tear to my eye. Well done, Mr. Ross.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

All Time Greatest Teams: Cards from My First Cousin Once Removed, Part 2 of 2

Yesterday I left you with a picture of a card album as a teaser, but before we get to the album I want to show you a note I found in a PWE tucked inside the box from my mother's cousin, Mark.

Strange Cards
 The list of strange cards is kind of cryptic, especially with the way it starts. Below are the cards which coincide with the descriptors.

 True. The Houston Colt .45s are no longer a team, but I don't think that's what Mark was referring to. Check the back.
 Nick, over at Dime Boxes, likes to talk about sunset cards, and this one may be the ultimate sunset card.

Lost Laundry:
 Yeah, I think Kirby lost his shirt. Oops.

Borrowed my kid's bat:
 I didn't even notice the size of the bat Yogi was holding in that picture. But yeah, it seems abnormally small!

Predicts my Hall of Fame Chances:
 Ooooh!  Mark is laying down some witty sass!

I can fly:
 It sure does look like it. On the planet Tatooine no less!

Slightly bigger dimension - why???
I can answer that one!  Topps Big wouldn't be called Topps Big if the cards weren't slightly larger in size. Nice concept I suppose, but a pain for collectors to store.

Fun stuff!  Now, on to the binder!
It's empty?  Huh?

No worries, I found all of the cards in nine-pocket pages. Let's check out the All Time Greatest Teams in reverse chronological order.  These cards are from the 1987 TCMA set.

The 1969 Mets, World Series Champions, 100-62:

 Or should I say the "1969 Miracle Mets"? Cleon Jones and Jerry Koosman were All-Stars with Tom Seaver. Seaver also won the Cy Young and would go into the Hall of Fame with Nolan Ryan. Why there isn't a card of Tom Seaver is beyond me.

The 1961 Yankees, World Series Champions, 103-59:
 Eight Yankees made the All-Star team that year and three of them would be inducted in the HOF. Roger Maris would break Babe Ruth's home run record and win the MVP. White Ford would win the Cy Young.

The 1960 Pirates, World Series Champions, 95-59
 Eight All-Stars, two future HOFers in Maz and Clemente, an MVP in Dick Groat, and the Cy Young winner in Vern Law. Wow.

1957 Milwaukee Braves, World Series Champions, 95-59
 Six All-Stars, four Hall of Famers (Aaron, Spahn, Schoendeienst and Eddie Mathews), Aaron won the MVP and Spahn won the Cy Young.

1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, World Series Champions, 98-55
Roy Campanella was the MVP, there were four All-Stars, and SIX would find themselves in Cooperstown: Campanella, Robinson, Snider, Reese, Koufax and Tommy Lasorda.

1950 Philadelphia Phillies, NL Pennant, 91-63
 The Yankees won the World Series that year, but the Phillies are recognized as one of the greatest teams. The team had four All-Stars in Robin Roberts, Dick Sisler, Willie Jones and Jim Konstanty, who also won the Cy Young. Roberts and Richie Ashburn would go on to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

1946 Boston Red Sox, AL Pennant, 104-50
The Red Sox lost the World Series to the Cardinals, but had eight players elected to the All-Star game that year. Bobby Doerr and Ted Williams would wind up in Cooperstown and Williams would win the MVP that year.

 1934 St. Louis Cardinals, World Series Champions, 94-58
Four All-Stars in this group, but to be fair the NL only had 21 make the mid-summer classic. Dizzy Dean, a pitcher, won the MVP, and it's worth noting the first year the Cy Young Award was issued was in 1956. SEVEN names from the roster made it to the Hall of Fame: Dizzy Dean, Frankie Frisch, Burleigh Grimes, Jesse Haines, Joe Medwick, Dazzy Vance and Leo Durocher.

1927 New York Yankees, World Series Champions, 110-44
The original Bronx Bombers! Lou Gehrig was the MVP. There was no All-Star game, as the first one played was in 1933. Earle Combs, Gehrig, Waite Hoyt, Tony Lazzeri, Herb Pennock, and Babe Ruth would be enshrined in Cooperstown.

1907 Chicago Cubs, World Series Champions, 107-45
This was an era before All-Star Games and season ending player awards, but Mordecai Brown, Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance would go down in baseball lore. The Cubs hit 13 homers as a team that year... man that was a completely different time.

I'm really excited to add these card to my collection. I've been working on a Hall of Fame binder, and these cards will fit right in.

Thanks again for the cards, Mark!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Cards from My First Cousin Once Removed, Part 1 of 2

This post has been coming for a long time. Typically, I don't write something for the blog until the cards have been collated and absorbed by my collection, and that's the main reason for such a delay on hefty box of cards I received as a gift back on April 30th.

Laura and I went to southwest Wisconsin to support the art show of the couple who once played matchmaker with us. I could get more into the minutiae, but they are a private couple who don't care much for the internet, so we'll keep the details at a minimum. While at the art show we bumped into my mother's cousin Mark and his wife. Mark is a baseball fan and a retired high school math teacher from the St. Louis area.

I've never met Mark before, but he was great to talk to. We conversed about school and baseball quite a bit. And because we have so much in common it was kind of like peering into my future twenty years down the road. The future is pretty good!

At one point we left the art show and went for a short walk to his car and he gifted me a bat and a box of baseball items. I wasn't expecting this and was very much unprepared to receive such a generous gift. Yet, I found out, this wasn't his first donation to my collection. It turns out he's the one who secretly gifted me cards about two years ago. Sneaky, sneaky!

Here's the bat, which is currently hanging in my bat rack in the man room.
 It's a Bobby Bonds model which Mark said he used back in his college days, if I recall correctly.

Everything else fit in this box, which could probably hold four 800-count card boxes.

The book on top is the next one in my "to read" pile. 
 I've always been fascinated with the foreign professional leagues and I think this one will be a solid and enlightening read.

I'm not sure about the origins of this baseball, but it's pretty spiffy. At this point in time, it's being housed in my entertainment system with my bobblehead collection.

The blue box in the above picture is actually a box from the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Pretty cool.
 Inside? Baseball cards!
 Elsewhere in the box I found these boxed sets, which were all new to my collection!
There were numerous baseball sticker albums in the box as well.

 I really enjoyed flipping through this magazine, below, from about eighteen years ago and reading about the all-time greatest players.  I wonder where Ichiro or Trout would fit into that list?
 Here's a two-pocket school folder of Eric Davis. I had one of these back in the day, but I don't remember the player.
 It's in pretty good condition and surprisingly enough there were some papers inside!
 Here's a closer look:
 All-Star ballots from five different years!  That's kind of random, but pretty neat to browse through!

There were three 800-count boxes of cards within the original big box. One of them contained a full set of 1986 Topps. Nice!
 The others contained a mix of cards.  I when I say "mix" I mean there was a little bit of everything!
 Tomorrow we'll show my favorite finds from Mark's gift.  We'll use the below picture as a little bit of a teaser. 😜
 Thanks for reading!  And, than you for all the fun baseball goodies, Mark!