Wednesday, July 11, 2018

NL Nats & Numerous Needs From Night Owl

Greg from Night Owl Cards (if you don't know that one, you haven't read enough card blogs) suprised me with a few goodies in the mailbox Saturday.

His note said the Topps National League team set was mostly Nationals, and here they are.


He also included the two gold parallels of the regular set cards.  They'll be a nice header when I get Series 2.

There was my second copy of this...


...to complete the set while the first one is in my Moon & Space binder.

Then he killed another set.


Yep, I made a set out of a whole five row monster box, and this was the last need.  Anyone else want a starter set? :)

Here's a very 90's Nomo insert from Collector's Choice.


And a bonus Cal Ripken insert from Hometown Heroes.


One of those pesky black parallel versions.

Nice assortment, thanks Greg!

Monday, July 09, 2018

Mailday Was Highly Destructive And Completely Appreciated


Brian from Highly Subjective And Completely Arbitrary blog blew me away with return fire Friday.  It was in response to one of several small packages I sent out a while ago to kill some top wants from the lists of fellow bloggers.

I've now got two guys who knocked off four spots from my highest priority wants in the last couple weeks.  They overlapped a little, but Brian also sent some other great stuff.  P-Town Tom beat him to these, but still these are nice hits. 

 

And another Ellsbury SaberStars...


And then there was this:


No way I expected that to show up, especially among the other sports stuff.  And that wasn't the only short-lived priority....


Childress came off the Pro Line Profiles list.  I've got the rest of them coming next week....

 

The two Bowman minis are now gone.  Plus, a hockey set dies....


Then came the bonus Orioles...first a couple Salutes from 2018.  Probably the only ones I'll own.


And a couple more Machados to dress up my Stadium Club set.  Might have to look for the refractor version of the Chromey Manny...


Also a rookie auto from Sterling...


Then it got really interesting!  Some player collection hits from some really obscure products.


Bonds is from Wiz Yankees of the 70's.  Lou is not just your ordinary '78 Topps....


It's the Burger King version!  And then this O'Connell & Sons Ink Charlie Keller really surprised me.


And speaking of older players, there was this REALLY nice '54 Bowman Puddin' Head Jones that I could have scanned a little straighter...


But it actually shouldn't really have been on the list, because I've posted about this card before.  Namely that I had upgraded it at one point already, so I'm not sure how it stayed on my site list for ol' Willie.


But oh well, the new one is a nice upgrade to even the good old one.  Plus there was also this that I actually didn't have....


TCMA The 50's of Puddin' Head as well.

The pièce de résistance is this Chris Davis auto/relic numbered out of 30.  I'll have to look up what I sent Brian,  because stuff like this is just over and above the call in comparison, I can assure you!



I found a couple '59s and another vintage single or two to send his way, but I'm going to have to step up my game to keep up with Brian!

Friday, July 06, 2018

My 2018 Stadium Club Hits (And Misses)

Got three boxes of Stadium Club from Charm City Cards for a special price on multiple boxes.  (They've actually gone down from there already!)


This is about the only product this year that I had any enthusiasm for.  I like the base card design even though the name is in foil.  The team names can blend into the background a bit, but it's a nice original concept.  I haven't had a chance to scan the inserts or notable base cards yet, but snapped a few shots as I was ripping packs. 


Sixteen packs a box, with 8 cards each.  Retail is five cards each.  (I supplemented my three hobby boxes with a preview blaster late last week.)  Two autos per box.  Don't remember if I got more than one insert or parallel per pack, I think it's just one each....

What I ended up with at the end was about 50+ cards away from the 300 count base set, which didn't seem too bad.  By the third box I was setting aside runs that I knew I had seen before.  About a third were base doubles (second stack below).  The third pile is the inserts, parallels and autos.


Finally, here are my autographs.  I was hoping for a major veteran pull, but all six of the ones I got had RC logos on them, which is disappointing to me.  Though Acuna is apparently a major pull.  Looking at the full checklist, I counted up the big names I recognized and came up with about 25 possible veterans out of 93 total.  So three quarters of all the possible autographs are flippin' rookies.  Ah well, the hype machine rolls on.  Allen & Flaherty have decent signatures at least....


So except for the Acuna, I'm open to trade offers for the rest of these.  Might do another post as a review, so you can see the inserts and some base cards if they haven't been overexposed already.

In all, I really like these.  The chrome refractor parallels are really cool looking.  And there are only 90 of the chrome series, but they are probably going to command high prices or I'd consider building that set too.  I'm always so glad when I don't duplicate the inserts between two boxes, and it didn't happen here.  The downside is there aren't any to trade, except one parallel - insert parallels are really useless. 

I would highly recommend diving into Stadium Club this year over and above any other 2018 product.  I'll probably get some more - likely retail, unless I sell the Acuna for a big wad of cash.  Of course, it's even better to trade, so chime on in!

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

My New Team Ranking System

A little while ago, I did my Old Team Rankings post.  Now it's time for the updated version.  As I mentioned before, Night Owl does his team rankings just before the season.  Here's how I'd put 'em in order.

One quick note ~ Most of these cards are just nice images that I pulled off Google searches.  I only own a few of them myself.

1. Baltimore Orioles


Still my favorites, even though they're the dregs of the league this year.  They're about to flush all the stars I would imagine.  Ah well, hockey went much longer than normal this year, so I haven't been watching much.  I've avoided the suffering.


2. Washington Nationals


A lot of people still associate the Nats with the Expos.  Two entirely different entities as far as I'm concerned.  The only overlap is in the record books since there were players that transferred in the move.  These guys share the Washington Curse with the Redskins and Wizards in that they can't get past the first couple rounds of the playoffs.  Hopefully the Capitals broke that cycle for everyone.  But doesn't seem like it so far.


3. Pittsburgh Pirates


Probably the next closest local team, the Pirates have been the scrappy underdog team for several years now.  They've had some decent players, but have yet to be really competitive.  Losing Cutch was a blow.  I'd like to see them do well again.  Chad Kuhl is my new Brian Matusz, who was a Joe Shlabotnik type guy.  Never a star but fun to root for.


4. Chicago Cubs


Another underdog fan favorite who finally won it all.  Call it bandwagon jumping if you must, but what's not to like about them?  They aren't a bunch of arrogant, overpaid prima donnas like a lot of championship caliber teams are these days.


5. Atlanta Braves


Years of watching them on TBS endeared them a little more than the average far away team for me.  They've sorta flushed a lot of their stars, but are coming back strong this year.  I like Nick Markakis, but mostly because he's a former Oriole.  They are a Nats division rival, so the Bravos shouldn't be this high, but I've really run out of favorable reviews at this point already.


6.  St Louis Cardinals


Previously ranked #3, the Cardinals stay up this high because I've largely forgotten how horrible it was for them to win the playoff series vs. the Nationals when DC was down to one out or so.  All things equal otherwise, St. Loo is a well run franchise and long tradition of excellence.  And I just like saying "Yyyaaadddiiieeeerrr".


7.  Houston Astros


Another underdog that won it all.  And they have a whole troop of star players that aren't overwhelmingly full of themselves.  Altuve is the most fun player to watch, and the other guys (though they blend together a little) are gonna be good for a while.  Their only major flaw is that it's still weird that they are now in the AL.


8. Detroit Tigers


I've got friends in Michigan who are big Tiger fans.  So I guess I root for them a little by osmosis, except when they play the O's.   I definitely like them better now than in the 80's.  Their ballpark is really nice.  And they've had some colorful characters along the way.


At this point in the list, there is a big falloff of any attachment or appeal to the rest of the teams.  While compiling the list, I looked at the starting lineups for today and realized that I either don't know the players at all (30%), or only know them through flagship cards by name (60%), and the rest are big stars or guys I know from before.

I've added some ratings for these teams.  
* = number of notable stars on their lineup.  
░ = number of names I recognize from Topps cards
(2018 doesn't apply because I haven't seen Series 2 and didn't study Series 1 that long either).  
¿ = number of guys in today's lineups that I've never heard of.  
Finally, Unis: is a grade for the aesthetics of their uniforms.  

I started to try to calculate a rating based on this point system, but the teams that had the higher numbers also were the ones I had strong reasons for sending to the bottom of the rankings, and vice versa.  So they are really just an exercise for generating commentary.  A lot of my rankings for lower teams are based on my perception on their competitiveness.  And their colors and graphics, quite honestly.


9. Los Angeles, more like Anaheim, south of Yorba Linda, but above Santa Ana California Angels  *~3    ░~ 7    ¿~ 2     Unis: B-


One of the only teams with established major star power.  Pujols is now the grisled old veteran, and Trout is heading to top ten GOAT status.  Both of these guys have solid legacies that will never fade.  I just almost never see 'em play because they're on the far coast.  They would be a little higher if they'd straighten out that stupid city designation.


10. Kansas City Royals   * ~ 2    ░ ~ 6    ¿ ~ 3   Unis: B+


Seems like I've raised a lot of the recent World Series winners to the top, whether I really rooted for them or not.  Royals are OK by me - I didn't mind that they won it whatever year it was, but they did seem like a pack of fratboy hotshots.  High ranking is mostly 'cuz of their clean unis.


11. Cincinnati Reds  * ~ 2  ░ ~ 4    ¿ ~ 4   Unis: B-


A far cry from Bench, Seaver, Foster, Concepcion, Rose, and Morgan, these Reds have some up and coming talent.  Votto is their cornerstone, and guys like Peraza, Hamilton, and Gennett are making the highlight reels (and insert cards).  Bonus points for having a guy named Scooter.  The black-brimmed caps were cool.  Not sure if they still use those.  Didn't see them during the KG Jr. days, but they looked good on the cards.


12. Milwaukee Brewers  * ~ 2    ░ ~ 5    ¿ ~ 3   Unis: A


Regularly competitive, but never going deep into the playoffs, the Brewers seem to me to have been at the same level for a while.  I call it karma because of Ryan Braun.  Brew Crew fans may know better, but I'm still wondering how that all played out, so that makes me a non-fan of his.  But they've got the best jersey graphics in the league by far.


13. Los Angeles Dodgers  * ~ 3    ░ ~ 7    ¿ ~ 2   Unis: B+


Previously my second favorite team, they've been demoted to lucky 13 partly because my new 2nd is an NL competitor, and otherwise because I just don't like the players as much.  Like the Reds, these guys are OK, but not as enjoyable to me (sorry N.O.) as Dusty, Garvey, Davey, Manny, and the Penguin were.  Puig is a goofball but fun to watch.  And Seager, Kemp and Bellinger are fine, but Joc and Turner are just .... ecch.  Classic unis that other clubs try to imitate and end up being way too generic.


14. Oakland Athletics  * ~ 2    ░ ~ 6    ¿ ~ 2   Unis: B


The A's have been in the basement for a good long time.  They get nice prospects and seem to trade them away every season.  They haven't gone past the first round of the playoffs since Barry Zito in '06, and that's been only twice.  Their top players for the same period are on other teams except for two.  Sonny Gray, Darick Barton, Josh Reddick, Gio Gonzalez, Josh Donaldson, all gone.  But hey, they are the only ones that wear green.


15. New York Mets  * ~ 2    ░ ~ 8    ¿ ~ 0   Unis: B+


A lot of guys in my original trading group are Mets fans.  Never saw the appeal myself.  Though they are more palatable than the Yankees, especially in recent years.  Another Nats division rival that didn't get sent to the dungeon, the Mets make for entertaining seasons just from all the hype and crazy New York fans.  A couple dominant pitchers, plus some free agent pickups and the comings and goings of some star players make them interesting at least.  And Met blue is the prettiest shade of them all.


16. Chicago White Sox  * ~ 1    ░ ~ 4    ¿ ~ 4   Unis: A-


We're past the halfway point and it's gonna get really thin now.  The White Sox have a couple guys like Abreu and Moncada who all blend together to me.  They were more interesting when they had Buehrle, Konerko, Podsednik, Thome, and/or Todd Frazier.  And who could forget Ozzie Guillen, just for goofy stuff like this.  But I love the Old English script logo.


17. San Francisco Giants  * ~ 5    ░ ~ 9    ¿ ~ 1   Unis: C+


The Panda is back!  What was he thinking with that Boston stint?  Anyway, these guys were a lot lower on my list, but I had to bring them higher because of the quality team they have.  Cutch raises them big time, and Posey, Longoria, and Pence are pretty decent players and not real full of themselves, at least not that I know of.  Not to mention they've created a thing where they are picked to win championships on even numbered years.


18. Arizona Diamondbacks  * ~ 1    ░ ~ 5    ¿ ~ 3   Unis: D


Here's another basement dweller that's suddenly making a splash.  They've only had one big star for years, and a lot of guys that show up often in card packs that I can't tell you a thing about otherwise.  Always liked the db snakehead logo, but the unis have been degenerating into computer dot patterns and just plain weird colors recently.  Hope they can finish well and bring some winning into their traditions.


19. Colorado Rockies  * ~ 3    ░ ~ 7    ¿ ~ 3   Unis: C


I put the whole team set as their image because it feels like you get six times the Rockies cards in any pack that I've opened since like 2010.  Would love to find a couple Rockies card hoarders to dump dupes on.  They've progressed decently from Todd Helton & Larry Walker to Arenado, Story, Blackmon, CarGo, etc.  Now let's see 'em take it to the next level.  Bonus points for purple, though they haven't changed the design much since they started.


20. Philadelphia Phillies  * ~ 1    ░ ~ 4    ¿ ~ 4   Unis: B-


Had these guys higher, but then couldn't figure out exactly why.  The days of Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley have passed, yielding a bunch of guys I only know from names on cards.  But that's OK, the Nats need someone to crush regularly.  I liked Bowa, Rose, Schmidt, and Tug McGraw much better.


21. Cleveland Indians  * ~ 3    ░ ~ 7    ¿ ~ 1   Unis: C-


Would have rooted for them in 2016 if it wasn't against the Cubs.  They deserve to break the drought next now that the Cubs did it.  And they seem like they'll be in the mix for a while.  Lots of good players, and Lindor is top ten.  Plus - Geez, Cleveland needs SOMETHING good in sports besides LeBron a couple years ago.


22. San Diego Padres  * ~ 3    ░ ~ 6    ¿ ~ 4   Unis: C


San Diego seems to be like the low security resort prison that players go to enjoy the weather but never see the post season.  Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer, and Freddy Galvis went there and dsiappeared.  At least as far as this east coast point of view.  Three seasons of 1st or 2nd place since they lost the World Series to the Yankees in 1998.  Maybe it's the brown and gold, plus Winfield, Ozzie, Templeton, Garvey and Gwynn that put them ahead of the rest of the list.


23. Minnesota Twins  * ~ 1    ░ ~ 5    ¿ ~ 3   Unis: C-


The Twins were the Mauer Morneau show for like nine years, and they're still all about Mauer to me even now, though Sano makes an impact.  This is much better than a few years of Kent Hrbek and no one else, which was my impression from the 80's where I had them dead last in my order.  Took me a while to figure out that the TC logo actually made sense.  Their ballpark is interesting with the convoluted outfield fences.  Looking at their records, they seem to be first or second place, or fifth every year.  Not much in between.


24. Tampa Bay Rays  * ~ 1    ░ ~ 5    ¿ ~ 4   Unis: C


Their face of the franchise went to San Diego.  Their manager went to the Cubs (and won it all).  They've got some free agent Nats guys like Ramos and Span, and some other guys I don't know well.  They're an O's division rival, but aren't a major powerhouse either.  And they took the Devil out of their name years ago.  What's left?  They are third on the list behind Colorado and Arizona of most common pack pulls.


25. Toronto Blue Jays  * ~ 1    ░ ~ 6    ¿ ~ 3   Unis: C-


The Jays could flip-flop with the Rays.  Blue colors, rhyming name and AL East rival.  And they have lots of injured or suspended star players, so they're not leading the division, but are still ahead of the O's.  They've moved up a few spots from the next-to-last I had them in back in the day, but with guys like Bautista, Tulowitzki, and Clemens, they haven't progressed that much.


26.  Seattle Mariners  * ~ 1    ░ ~ 6    ¿ ~ 4   Unis: C-


I still remember when the M's and the J's came into the league.  The Canadians were much better much quicker.  I wasn't paying much attention during the Griffey years here either, so I have no basis for Mariner superiority at any time.  King Felix, Nelson Cruz, and Robbie Cano are their power players.  I think I get Jean Segura from packs about every fifth one or so.  And is Kyle the "other" Seager?  I got nothin'.


27.  Texas Rangers  * ~ 4    ░ ~ 7    ¿ ~ 3   Unis: C


His expression is because he's thinking "Dang, am I STILL playing?".  The Rangers were in back to back World Series seven seasons ago, and got to a couple division series in '15 and '16.  But between Beltre, Josh Hamilton, and Ron Washington, I can't name any other players.  All I know is they have the reputation for the hottest weather at their home games.  And they sell name rights to the park to big companies.  Nobody wants that....


28.  Boston Red Sox  * ~ 3    ░ ~ 8    ¿ ~ 1   Unis: B

 
Kevin Millar humor aside, I really don't like these guys any more.  Legends like Yaz, Rice, Dewey, and Pedro have been replaced by annoying guys like Pedroia, Ellsbury, Youklis, and Josh Beckett.  Papi was cool, and Mookie and Xander would be more fun on other teams.  I can't stand to watch these guys take four hours a game to be stunningly mediocre and then suddenly rally in the 8th and 9th for six runs.  Yeah, 2004 was nice for you.  Get over yourselves.


29.  New York Yankees  * ~ 3    ░ ~ 6    ¿ ~ 3   Unis: C


These guys were the most famous players for decades.  Mostly because they were the highest paid.  Now, I keep saying "Who the heck are these guys?".  Jeter was the last of the Mohicans.  The current roster is all hype rookies and vanilla guys.  And goodness knows the hype machine runs no hotter than in New York.  My hope is every year the Yanks and Sawx beat each other up and leave the O's free to take some victories.


30.  Miami Marlins  * ~ 2    ░ ~ 3    ¿ ~ 5   Unis: D


That crazy sculpture thing in their outfield with the palm trees, fish, swirlies and lights is very original.  Too bad there's never anyone in the stands to watch it go off.  The Marlins are the saddest franchise in baseball.  They seem like they should be on the brink of economic (if not competitive) collapse for lack of support.  They have been dead last in NL attendance since 2006, except for one season (2012).  Now that Stanton is gone, who's going to be the big draw?  Cameron Maybin and Justin Bour?  Sheesh.  Oh and I really can't stand that superfan guy that shows up at other major events.  Got his own Ginter card.  Get rid of him!


So there you have it.  My take on MLB franchises.  Probably about as useful as my take on car brands or restaurant service.  I like what I like, but I'm no expert on the rest.  But if you've made it to the end, I hope you were at least entertained a little.