Monday, September 24, 2018

What's to do in San Diego?

My wife has a work conference in San Diego at the tail end of the week and I'm flying out on Friday to join her. I've never been to San Diego, but I've heard nothing but great things about the city which Ron Burgandy implores to stay classy.
I've already made plans for Saturday night. Yep, baseball. I've haven't crossed a new MLB ballpark off my list in a couple of years and I'm truly looking forward to exploring a new stadium. PETCO, I'm on my way!

The Diamondbacks will be visiting the Padres on Saturday night and I'm sure I'll see plenty of bench guys in the lineups for both teams. It's never too early to get a look at what you might have in the fold for next season. Especially considering how the Dbacks have been playing as of late:
Hopefully, it'll still be an exciting game.

This is a baseball card blog, so about cards of the two guys who I consider to be the faces of the San  Diego and Arizona franchises.
Tony Gwynn, for my money, is the best pure hitter during my lifetime, may he rest in peace. It would take an awful for someone to wrestle the title of "Mr. Padre" away from him. I debated on whether Randy Johnson or Paul Goldschmidt should get the nod here. I love me some Randy Johnson, but Paul Goldschmidt is quietly putting together a HOF-caliber career while only suiting up for the Diamondbacks.

Alright, time to poll the audience.

Here's what I need from you all:
1) An interesting restaurant to take my wife out for dinner on Friday night - It can't be too fancy, because I'm not packing anything but shorts and t-shirts. Also, no chain restaurants, please.
2) Something to do to fill the time on Saturday - my wife's conference is an all-day event and I'll be looking to see some sites. I've thought about Sea World, but I'd love to do something less commercial/pricey if possible.
3) A good place to consume 1000 calories in one sitting for lunch - Friday night's dinner should be more of a well-balanced meal and Saturday's lunch should leave me craving nothing more than a beer and dog at the game that evening. Hey, when the cat's away the mouse will eat whatever it wants.
4) Card shop - anyone know of a decent LCS I could kill an hour or two at?

I'll take any and all suggestions into consideration!  Thanks in advance!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Bowman's Top 5 Prospects from 5 Years Ago

I received a surprise package from Johnny's Trading Spot earlier in the week. It was a simple three card packaged, but boy did it ever pack some punch!
This one is a mini from the 2013 Bowman Cream of the Crop insert set. The blue shimmer parallel is probably my second favorite parallel affect out there right behind Open Day's sparkly blue parallels.

Here's the back of the card, which features a list of the Cubs five top prospects from five years ago.
All things considered, that's not a bad list. If I had to rate them on their career performances so far it would look like this:
1) Javier Baez - He has earned the nickname El Mago for his quick tags, deceptive slides and defensive highlights. His bat has turned him into an MVP candidate for 2018.
2) Albert Almora - will finish 2018 with 150+ games played and an average north of 0.280. He's a plus defender in the outfield and hits left-handers especially well.
3) Jeimer Candelario - Had a cup of coffee with the Cubs in 2016 and hit 0.330 in 106 plate appearances last season. This year he has battled a couple of injuries and to date has a 0.717 OPS in 137 games for the Tigers. Not a stellar year for Candelario, but he's being given every chance to become a fixture in Detroit's lineup.
4) Jorge Soler - Soler can't stay healthy.  He's played in 182 games the last three seasons and has never hit more than a dozen homers in a season. I'll still draft him in the last round of fantasy drafts next spring because if he can stay healthy I believe he'll have an OPS of 0.850+ while hitting in the middle of Kansas City's lineup. That's pretty good value!
5) Daniel Vogelbach - We all know how I feel about the Vogelmonster. Yet, if I'm truly being objective I can't place his 55 career games and Mendoza Line batting average anywhere else but #5 on this list. Bummer.

I wonder how many of the other 29 teams have had all five prospects make it to the big leagues?

John also included a couple of autographs in his package. 
 Above is the 2017 Five Star base auto. I don't have many cards from high-end products like Five Star in my collection. Chasing Vogelbach's cards as allowed me to experience how the other half of the collecting world lives!

Mmmmm, chromey goodness:
The 2017 Chrome parallels have been growing on me as of late. Purple parallels are numbered to 250.

I've actually been picking up some random Vogelbach cards from Ebay when I come across a good deal. I found a bunch of auto cards from the same seller which started at a dollar each. I put in a low bid on all of them and won five for $8.50 shipped. Pretty good deal if you ask me!
When Vogelbach starts doing this more often (see video above) I may try to flip them and buy some of his cards I don't have. I'm not missing much, but the vacancies I do have in my Vogelmonster collection are all listed for a pretty penny.

Thanks for the cards, John!  I'll see about sending you a return package before too long!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

A 2018 Vogelmonster Rainbow

My Dan Vogelbach player collection has 182 cards from the 2017 baseball card collection season. Topps and Panini both tried to capitalize on his rookie status and he was featured in 19 different sets. It was a fun time trying to chase them all down, but also a little bit hectic. This year has been much slower going. Before Heritage dropped I had found only 13 different cards this year, and six of them were from the Donruss Optic Autograph insert set.
Base Auto
The Vogelmonster finished the 2018 Triple-A season on the disabled list, from a phantom injury I can find nothing about in the middle of August. He has since recovered and he saw his first game action in the month of September earlier this week with one at-bat versus the Yankees. On September 12th he was announced to pinch hit for Seattle's ninth place hitter, but when San Diego brought in a lefty to combat the VOGELMONSTER, he was then taken down in favor of the right-handed Mike Zunino, who promptly struck out. So it goes.
Blue, #01/50
Vogelbach is near the bottom of the depth chart for a Mariners club which isn't going anywhere soon. They're 11 games back of Houston in the AL West and 8.5 games back of Oakland for the 2nd Wild Card spot. As of this writing Seattle has 15 games left in the season. They are NOT making the postseason in 2018.
Red, #13/25
You'd think this would be the perfect time to audition a couple of players for next year. Nelson Cruz is 38 years old and a free agent after this season. If you were a GM, wouldn't you want to see what you have in your best minor league bat?
Gold, #03/10
I heard rumblings on message boards that Seattle's front office doesn't think Vogelbach can handle MLB pitching and that he is nothing more than a "Quad-A" player. You'd think if that was how they felt about the Vogelmonster that they would try to trade him for something they did like.
Green, #3/5
For the record, Vogelbach had a 0.979 OPS for Rainier this summer and he walked 18 more times than he struck out. I may be a little biased, but it sounds like he's an above average hitter, who has a great eye, and he just needs a shot.
Platinum, 1 of 1
Maybe he'll get a start or two down the stretch? Maybe the Mariners won't re-sign Nelson Cruz? Maybe he'll be traded this winter to a team who needs a 1B/DH type who can mash? Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Two things are for sure. I still believe in The VOGELMONSTER and the Optic Autographs rainbow possesses an extremely high level of badassery.

Thanks for reading and may your baseball team finish the season on a high note.

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Hit List

I've seen enough gangster type movies and shows to understand that being on a Hit List isn't exactly a good thing. Then I came across a blog post from The Chronicles of Fuji which made me rethink the punitive label I had given the term.

In the aforementioned blog post Fuji talks about the generosity and camaraderie of the blogosphere and how he sometimes struggles to keep up with timely return packages. (Seriously, don't we all?) He created a list of collectors he needed to hit back with cards. Now, that's a Hit List I don't mind being a part of!

Personally, I always have a "sticky note" open on my computer desktop with a list of names I owe cards. Currently, I have four names on that list, which is really good for me right now. Yet, I remember a time earlier this year when the owed number of packages was in the teens. Ouch, it happens. I haven't been hunted down by an angry mob wielding torches and pitchforks . . . yet. LOL

Seems like everyone I swap cards with is super generous and patient. Fuji, is right at the top of that list.

I'm actually in a list making mood, so let's run with it.  Here's the Top 10 best cards Fuji sent me from his package to knock me off his Hit List.

The Vogelmonster comes in at #10?  I know, I know... I am a bit depressed right now about Vogelbach's prospects with the Mariners. He finished the minor league season on Tacoma's Disabled List. I can't find any information on his injury and even with the expanded rosters I am not terribly hopeful that Seattle will call him up at any point this month. I also read Seattle and Nelson Cruz, who is a free agent after the season, share mutual interest in signing a contract for 2019 and possibly beyond. Sigh.

Cub prospect autos! Brett Jackson was once the top rated prospect in their system, but he hit 0.175 in his Cub career and is now out of baseball.
Barret Loux might be the only minor league pitcher the Cubs have acquire from the Rangers in the last decade that did not work out. He is out of baseball as well, but Carl Edwards, Justin Grimm, and Kyle Hendricks are not.
Hayden Simpson was the Cubs' #1 pick in the 2010 draft. His last year in affiliated minor league ball was 2012. Ouch.
Jake Stinnett, a second round pick in 2014, is still active and has some promise as a bullpen piece, but he turns twenty-seven next season and is running out of time.

 This is the 1990 Topps Glossy All-Star card only made available through a TV promotional offer. I never thought I would see one of these in my collection. Very nice! Oh, and who doesn't love the Wild Thing?

 2018 Topps, 35th Anniversary, purple prism thingy parallel found in silver packas of Anthony Rizzo numbered to /75. The 1983 design is special, but I'm not sure about all the bells and whistles here. If it were blue it would be higher on the list. Purple? Comes in at #7.

 I remember Chadd Krist from the 2012 Peoria Chiefs team. He played with Javy Baez and started hot right out of the gate. I thought the Cubs found a special talent in the 12th round, but then he came back down to earth a few weeks later and was out of baseball by 2016. This card is the silver parallel and is numbered 6/25. I always have a soft spot in my collection for former Chiefs!

 Okay, I'm cheating here a bit. Four chrome cards from 2018 and NONE are a base card. That's pretty special, and I couldn't leave any of them off the list so I grouped them together. For the record, the Willson Contreras card is a refractor.

 More cheating. Sorry, not sorry. I have mini player collections of Glenn Beckert and Ken Holtzman, but the Ed Mayer card is special in it's own kind of Don Mossi way. Vintage trumps chrome, thus it comes in at #4.

Here. We. Go. Fuji just went straight fire 🔥 right here. Eric Karros, at age 35, was a nice presence at first base who helped the 2003 Cubs make the playoffs in his only season. I've been a Karros fan ever since. This bat relic card is from the 2003 Topps Traded and Rookies Baseball set and couldn't have been very common. This is a very quality addition to my collection of relics!

 I actually just saw this card for the first time the other day and it made my "Items to Chase" sticky note. Maybe Fuji had a notion it was a card I would be looking for at some point? Anyway, I like this card because Rizzo is the face of the franchise and he's a GOOD GUY. He leads, he plays hard, he has a sense of humor and understands there is more to life than baseball. He helped out after the Parkland shooting, he visits children's hospitals and he's constantly raising money to battle cancer. A card commemorating his 2017 Marvin Miller Man of the Year and Roberto Clemente Awards is something I needed in my collection. I have over 100+ Rizzo cards and this one is easily in the Top 5 of that player collection.

And here we go!  The big reveal at
BOOM!! The countdown starts and finishes with a VOGELMONSTER! This one is from 2012, although it says 2011 on the front, and is numbered 10/99 and it's autographed! With the addition of Fuji, eleven different bloggers have now contributed a new card to my Vogelbach collection, which now stands at 333 unique cards.

Wow, I wasn't expecting quite the return on the cards I sent Fuji's way.  Thank you, kind sir!

Fuji. I'm adding you to my Hit List.  I've got a score to settle with you... You know, the cardboard kind. 😀

Saturday, September 8, 2018

I Wasn't Expecting a Package

All my Ebay packages had come in and I wasn't expecting a trade package. The return address was from "Boyle" in Boston and my immediate thought was Mark Hoyle who is a Red Sox fan. Yet, this wasn't from Mark. Very odd.

Okay, my curiosity was piqued. So, I ripped into the padded yellow mailer.

Say what?  Cooperstown postcards of my four favorite Hall of Fame members?  Only one person I know could manage something like this.
My sister is so sneaky. I should have known!

She recently took a road trip out east to visit a couple of friends and their new baby. Along the way she saw Cubs play in Philadelphia, had her picture taken with the Philly Phanatic, and stopped through Cooperstown. I'm sure she did more on her trip, but I haven't had a chance to catch up with her yet.

Her package gave me a quick summary as she used the back of the HOF postcards to get me somewhat up to speed. For the record, those postcards will go on display downstairs in my new display cases.

The yellow card shaped legal pad package?  Oh yeah, more good stuff!
 The above two cards are from the 2006 Topps Rookie of the Week set. I own the set, because I'm a sucker for reprint-type cards, but now I have some to add to my binders!

 Schwarber!  I love how this dude has turned himself into a capable left fielder. This Rize card is from 2014. Can that be right? Schwarber has been on baseball cards for five years already?

More Ryno!
Wow, that card on the left is gorgeous. All the green ivy and the gold border?  Very sharp looking!

Here's the back of the 1991 Sports Educational card. Man, that 1990 season was pretty special! I'm a little curious about the word "totals" on the back of the card... looks like one got by the proofreader!
 Three new Ryne Sandberg cards for the collection brings my total up to 886 unique cards.

Thanks, Jane! I'm looking forward to learning more about your trip!

Friday, September 7, 2018

AREA 40: Dishing Out Some Coin

This post might be a few weeks overdue, but I prefer to think I've let it age to perfection.

Wes is building a LARGE stack of packs to bust on his birthday next spring and while doing so he's been holding little contests with each update

I happened to win one of the contests and I came away with a 1996 over-sized All-Star set from Upper Deck. 
Taking a look at the back I believe eleven of the starters have been elected to the Hall of Fame.
I have an unofficial goal of owning a set of baseball cards to represent every year since my birth year. This prize will fill the 1996 vacancy nicely!

As Wes is wont to do, he added in a bonus. 
How 'bout that? Although I should have assumed a commemorative coin existed I actually didn't know about it until it landed in my mailbox. "A 39mm Silver Plated Medallion Limited Edition of 10,000." Super cool!

I've placed all my most prized Cubs memorabilia in display case. Can you find it?
 Right next to Wheaties box!
 Thanks a million, Wes!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Big HOF Addition from GCA

Greg, the author of The Collective Mind, is a set builder. Actually, I might go as far as to call him the preeminent set builder within our corner of the blogosphere. He has many kinds of want lists and they are quite all-encompassing!

Recently, Greg perused my want lists, found about seventy cards I needed for my sets and he shipped them off in a bubble mailer. I'll have to hit up to make this a fair trade, but not until my softball season is over.
The playoffs start today. My junior high team starts eight 7th graders and one 8th grader. We're young, but we've had a good season with a record of 11-6. In an eight team regional we were seeded as the 6th best team and are set to play the #3 seed. Honestly, we probably are the 6th best team, even though our winning percentage is better than every MLB not from Boston. It's a stacked regional and we'll need to play well and have the ball bounce our way if we're to even make it out of the first round. Wish us luck!

On to the cardboard!

Here's the contents of the team bag on the right:
 Four different sets from the 1990's were included and there was lots of star power!
 Thome! Woo-Hoo!  The local boy made the HOF!  I think once upon a time I knew Kenny Lofton started with the Astros.
 I always thought these All-Star cards were fun. I like how you can still make out the ivy and bleachers on Sandberg's card.
 Dream Team Tony Gwynn!  Sweet!

I don't know about you guys, but this is why I enjoy collecting older sets, including those from the junk wax era. There are some super fun cards here, you get to walk down memory lane, and you're able to learn a little bit in the process.
 At age 59 Satchel Paige pitched three scoreless innings for the Kansas City Athletics. That's nuts!
 Big sluggers to close out the first team bag!

Alright, on to the second team bag.
 More 1990 Donruss and some 1979 Topps. Sweet!
 A pair of dual sport athletes!
 A couple of the games best outfield bats! Griffey looks so young!
 I'm not a Cardinals fan, but I really like this Tony Pena card and all of his catcher's gear. And, how about that YELLOW jersey on Jose Canseco? Whoa!
 Who doesn't enjoy a Rated Rookie?

And to close out the 1990 Donruss I give you a pair of All-Time Greats.
Not sure why they put the label on the Mike Schmidt card and not Bob Walk's. 1990 Donruss was known for having many errors within the set. I'm assuming this must be one of them.

Unmarked team cards from the 1970s are not easy to come buy. These are some huge gets for me. Especially the Don Zimmer card, as his ties to the Cubs usually keep things a little pricier than they should me.

I never ever would have been able to tell you Ron LeFlore and Omar Moreno lead their respective leagues in stolen bases in 1978.
 Last I checked the MLB leader in 2018 for stolen bases had 35 and second place had 30 steals.
It's a bit of a different ballgame than what it was forty years ago.

All-Time Record Holders!  These are always fun cards to look at!
 The Highest Career Totals for Home Runs would now have Barry Bonds at the top, followed by Aaron, Ruth, A-Rod, Mays, Pujols, Griffey and Thome. The 61 homers by Roger Maris has been eclipsed six times!
 How about ERA? Baseball Reference actually has Hall-of-Famer Tim Keefe listed for the lowest single season ERA, with 0.86 in 1880. I'm not sure why Topps Recognized Dutch Leonard instead. Both played in the Dead Ball Era, right?
I don't think the Career ERA list has changed at all. We may never see the days of starters going 7+ innings on a consistent basis again. Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale would be in the Top 10, if you ignored the 3,000 inning limit. Kershaw needs another 900+ innings and Sale requires about 1,500+. Crazy.

Here's the last card and it's for a special set, a non-traditional one if you will.
 This Bill Mazeroski card is absolutely gorgeous and will easily replace 2004 card that had been sitting in the Maz pocket within my Hall of Fame binder.
1960 Topps!  Wow!  I'm always looking for vintage cards of Hall of Fame members to enter into the binder and this one certainly qualifies!

FWIW, I've been dragging my feet on writing a post for my HOF binder. All in due time I suppose!

Thanks so much for all the great set help, Greg!  I'll get a return package out to you before too long!