Friday, August 23, 2019

Frankenset Page #61

My apologies for posting so late the last 2 nights. I've been pretty busy as of late, but I wanted to keep up with the blog since I missed so many days in July and August.

During the times when I'm busy, I choose either a top 5 cards post or a frankenset page for a quick yet interesting post. One of the many benefits to having these continuous series is that if I'm low on ideas or time, I still have options for my posts.

Today's frankenset page is #61 in the 74-page series, featuring cards #541-549.

#541 2016 Topps James Shields
I'm indifferent towards James Shields at best, and I cannot stand the 2016 Topps Flagship design. With that being said, I'm all about the actual card when it comes to this frankenset, and I must admit that I like this Series 2 card quite a bit.

Nonetheless, it still baffles me that the Padres were able to trade James Shields in June of 2016 for a couple prospects, one of them being Fernando Tatis Jr. 

Just think, if the White Sox still had Tatis, they would've appealed more to Manny Machado, meaning they could have an infield of Fernando Tatis Jr, Machado, Eloy Jimenez, and Jose Abreu.

#542 1992 Fleer Ultra Kim Batiste
This 1992 Fleer Ultra card is simple enough, but it's not a poor choice for the frankenset either. There are a lot of spaces in the binder filled by cards from this set, so I'm guessing that it was rather challenging for me to find a better card for #542.

When I finalize my 2nd frankenset for the next continuous series, I'll do my best to ensure that sets don't appear as frequently as cards from '92 Fleer Ultra seem to.

#543 1990 Topps Nelson Liriano
Some of the color combinations in 1990 Topps, like the card above, are effective and help compliment the image. Others, like green and yellow or green and red, are far too distracting and simply don't look great on cardboard.

As a whole, 1990 Topps is very hit or miss as it pertains to the base cards. Some of them look great and give off a 1975 Topps vibe, but others are so mediocre that it's hard to be a huge fan of this set.

#544 1983 Topps Larry Whisenton
Aside from some cards in my Bo Jackson and Salvador Perez player collections, this might be the bluest Baseball card that I've ever seen in my life. Virtually everything, from the background to the banner and even both photos, features a gorgeous light blue color.

My favorite part of this card would have to be Whisenton's uniform in the large picture. I don't recall the Braves wearing this as a throwback jersey recently which is definitely a shame.

#545 1988 Score Jack Morris
Although I was pleased when Jack Morris was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, I've come to question the committee's decision. His 2,478 strikeouts across 3,824 innings pitched isn't the greatest ratio, but I'm more concerned about his 3.90 career ERA.

I realize that some of his years with the Tigers as well as his sole season with the Twins were terrific, but his career stats simply don't seem HOF worthy to me, particularly his 6.19 ERA in '93.

#546 1970 Topps Ron Reed
 Over the last few days, I've seen collectors pull some monster hits out of 2019 Topps Heritage High Number, ranging from Rod Carew and Nolan Ryan autographs to black chrome refractors of Fernando Tatis Jr and Pete Alonso.

Unfortunately for me, I've never had much luck with Heritage High #. Aside from the major rookies, the checklist is usually awful. I like to think that I keep up with Baseball, so it's frustrating to pull so many cards of guys I don't know.

With products like Chrome, Optic, Archives, and Chronicles out as I speak, I think I'll learn my lesson and stay away from Heritage High Number this year.

#547 1992 Sporting News Conlon Collection Bob Johnson

Almost a decade after we found the box at the card show for $15, I still consider the 1992 Sporting News Conlon Collection purchase one of the greatest bargains that we've ever found. 

The photography is absolutely gorgeous, and the card backs feature a ton of a text which tells you a lot about early and mid-20th-century Baseball. Most of the players in this set aren't well known, so I absolutely love the insight that this product gives to what the game was like roughly a century ago.

#548 1990 Fleer Eddie Williams
I really like the layout of the 3rd and final row of this particular frankenset page. I didn't plan it this way, but the 1990 Fleer card looks nice between the 2 black and white Conlon Collection cards on either side.

By and large, I'm not a huge fan of the 1990 Fleer set, but the angle of this photograph is interesting, and it's a nice fit with the Sporting News cards as well.

#549 1992 Sporting News Conlon Collection Ed Reulbach
Out of all the records and accomplishments in Baseball history, those achieved by pitchers are the least likely to be broken. Cy Young's 511 wins will most certainly not be topped, for starters simply don't pitch as much as they used to.

Furthermore, it's rare to see a pitcher have 1 shutout, but 2 on the same day? There's virtually no chance that will ever happen again.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

2019 NBCD Pack #2

Let's pick up where I left off in yesterday's post with my 2nd pack of 2019 Topps National Baseball Card Day cards. I shared my thoughts on the set as well as my exclusive Vlad Jr card in the previous post, so this one will be recapping what I got in the 2nd free pack of cards.

#6 Javier Baez
I haven't seen every card from this 30-card set quite yet, but Javier Baez is making a stellar case for my favorite of the bunch. The combination of the Cubs home uniform and the ivy in the background is so classic that it truly will never get old.

I mentioned this yesterday as well, but I'm very pleased with the 2019 NBCD design. Even if they're just promotional cards, the set and photographs must complement one another, something that Topps didn't do well in 2017 and 2018.

#11 Miguel Cabrera
He may not be the superstar he once was, I never mind pulling cards of Miguel Cabrera, especially if the pack is free. The 11-time All-Star's stats don't lie; he's going to end up in Cooperstown when all is said and done.

The 2012 AL Triple Crown award winner is currently sitting at 474 career home runs. At one point, it seemed more than likely that he'd make it to the 500 home run club, but injuries set him back in 2018, and he only has 9 dingers so far this year.

At 36 years old, Miggy is cutting it close. I'm going to keep an eye on him to see if he can reach the 500 home run mark.

#17 Jose Berrios
I've barely paid any attention to the Minnesota Twins in 2019 despite them being one of the strongest teams in the American League. I'm not quite sure what's behind all of their success, but I'm guessing that ace Jose Berrios has a lot to do with it. 

The 25-year old pitcher made the All-Star team for the 2nd consecutive season this year, and his 3.37 ERA is 8th among AL starters. He, along with fellow starter Jake Odorizzi, seem to be helping this team out a lot.

#26 Paul Goldschmidt
I was baffled when 1st baseman Paul Goldschmidt signed an extension with the Cardinals over the offseason despite not playing a single game for St. Louis at the time. Though his home run and RBI game is still going strong, Goldy's .256 batting average is by far the worst out of any full season of the 31-year old's career.

On the bright side, he has 5 seasons in St. Louis after this year (if I remember correctly), so he'll have plenty of time to get back on track and become the player he was in Arizona. Who knows? Maybe he'll end up in Cooperstown as well.

#10 Nolan Arenado
Nolan Arenado, one of the most talented all-around players in baseball, also signed an extension before the start of the 2019 MLB season. The superstar 3rd baseman is staying in Colorado for another 8 years and is set to earn $260 million.

With superstars re-upping with their current teams left and right, I'll be interested to see what guys like Kris Bryant and Mookie Betts do once their contracts expire in the next couple of years.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

I Guess I Didn't Miss Out

Since I started blogging back in August of 2017, I've celebrated my blog anniversary right around National Baseball Card Day. Both my first ever post as well as my 1-year post featured packs from this promotional event, so it's always been a major part of the blog.

I wasn't able to, however, continue this tradition, or so I thought, in 2019. The only participating Baseball card shop near my house was closed for vacation on August 10th, and I didn't trust that my local Target would stock the NBCD cards, to begin with.

The realization that I wouldn't participate in 2019 National Baseball Card Day was disappointing, but I moved on, nonetheless. With stacks of cards that needed to be put away, I made a couple of trips to my LCS last week once the owners returned from vacation.

One of those visits happened to be last Saturday, the 17th when I stopped by for a box of Ultra Pro sheets. Unbeknownst to me, card shops were still giving away free packs on the 17th for the 2nd installment of National Baseball Card Day.

While I knew about the Vladimir Guerrero Jr card which could only be acquired by spending $10 or more on Topps products on that particular date, I didn't realize that the exclusive packs would also be available.

After some deliberation, I bought 2 packs of Heritage High Number to get the Vlad Jr card. This forced me to break my "I'm not buying cards for at least a month because of The National" rule, and I did horribly with the Heritage High # packs.

But it's okay because I got my hands on an exclusive Vlad Jr rookie card even though I wish I'd just handed the owner $10 for the card and not suffered through 2 awful packs of Heritage.

Anyways, I walked out of my LCS with 2 NBCD packs, 2 Heritage High # packs, the Vlad Jr card, and a box of Ultra Pro sheets. After all, you can't really beat free cards.

To keep this post short, I'll recap the first pack today while saving the 2nd one for tomorrow.

#22 Josh Bell
I already like the 2019 card design more than the past 2 years during which Topps has done this promotion. The 2017 cards were over-complicated and featured silver foil names, something I cannot stand as it's near impossible to read. The 2018 design was okay, but it was far too simple and didn't do much to stand out.

This time around, the cards are still on the simple side, but this design is far more effective than years past. The Topps NBCD logo is a new addition, and the cards are just modern enough. 

For whatever reason, the full-bleed photos from 2018 didn't work for this promotion, so I'm glad Topps added the 2 logos in the top left and bottom right corners.

#16 Christian Yelich
During each of the 3 years that Topps has done this promotion, the checklist (excluding cards like Vlad Jr's) has consisted of 30 cards, one from each MLB team. For example, the Brewers, have their superstar player, Christian Yelich, featured while other clubs, like the Marlins, showcase Jose Alfaro. 

Because each club has only 1 spot in the checklist, I'd be interested to see if and how their 1 "star player" has changed over the years. Some guys have probably maintained their spot for years while others, like Ronald Acuna Jr, are featured for the first time in 2019.

#14 Clayton Kershaw
The 2019 NBCD set diverges from the past releases in that the cards feature full stats on the back. In the past, the card backs included a quick blurb about the player, but I'm always one for complete-stat card backs, and it's nice to see them, even on promo cards.

I couldn't think of a better example for the card backs than Clayton Kershaw. It's pretty unbelievable that throughout of his 11-year career, he's led the NL in ERA 5 times. 

Having complete stats is definitely a plus, but other than that, the card backs are pretty standard.

#1 Mike Trout
In the past, Trout's card has only been available with a qualifying purchase, so I was stoked to find his card in one of my 2 base packs. I'll take absolutely any card I can get of the 8-time All-Star, from a low-end base card to a high-end autograph.

Back to this specific card, I'm not sure what's going on with Trout's left hand. There seems to be some kind of cast or something on it, but I can't pinpoint what it is.

#20 Matt Chapman
After taking this trip to my LCS, I relaxed and watched the Astros battle the Athletics last Saturday afternoon before the Red Sox game at 7:00.

Through this game, I learned a lot about 2 talented teams, one of which seems destined to win the AL West while the other has a solid shot of winning a Wild Card spot.

I don't get the chance to watch a lot of west coast Baseball, so it was interesting to see how the Astros and A's players are doing, particularly Matt Chapman who's shaping up to be one of the most well-rounded players in all of baseball.

Monday, August 19, 2019

A Newfound Appreciation

In between my purchases at The National in Chicago earlier this month, I had time to stroll around the show floor, glancing through the display cases that held unbelievable cards.

Don't get me wrong, the modern cards intrigued me quite a bit. I saw around a dozen Wander Franco 1st Bowman autos together in 1 case, a Benintendi superfractor rookie card from 2017 Topps Chrome, and Pedro Martinez and Vladimir Guerrero dual autographed booklet (both on the Expos), just to name some of the highlights.

However, my eyes were primarily drawn to the display cases of graded vintage cards that I so frequently looked at during my time at the show. Most of the cards didn't even have price tags, so I knew they weren't in my budget whatsoever.

Nonetheless, just seeing Mickey Mantle rookie cards in-person is a memorable experience in its own right.

Out of all the vintage sets, I found myself taking notice of 1953 Topps more and more. Solely because of how old the product is, I've never been able to familiarize myself with these beautiful cards. In fact, I only began appreciating the set when Topps Living was released last year.

The checklist is incredibly small (280 cards), but when you take into account cards like Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson, and Satchel Paige (whose name Topps spelled incorrectly in the '01 Archives card above), it would be nearly impossible to complete.

'53 Topps has often been viewed as an over-used Flagship set, and I guess I can't really disagree with that argument. For starters, Topps paid tribute to this iconic design in the early 90s with an all-1953 Topps Archives set, the first installment in a series that would be revived twice more.

I'm not overly familiar with this release, but I have enough cards to know that Topps didn't do that good of a job recreating their 2nd Flagship set. The original 1953 Topps Cubs cards had a black banner like the 1st card, not red like Roy Smalley's. Not to mention, the cardstock was nothing like it was in '51.

Not only do I not have a single original '53 card, but I'd also be surprised if I had more than 3 cards from the 2002 Topps Heritage set that's modeled after the original set. 

Given that 2002 Topps Heritage hobby boxes are going for $150 on eBay, I don't think I'll be seeing many cards from that set anytime soon. In fact, the closest I've gotten to authentic 1953 Topps cards is thanks to 2016 Topps Archives. 

Still, like the previously mentioned Archives release, they didn't do the greatest job recreating the set. I realize nothing can beat the original, but this card stock was just far too thin, and the checklist wasn't that great either.

Topps Living is likely the closest I'll get to the real thing, but the cards are too pricy ($8 for 1 or $15 for 3) for me to purchase on the Topps website. I never really think to buy them on eBay afterward, and they never seem to turn up at the Baseball card show either.

Last year, I used an eBay coupon to purchase my 1st Topps Living card for around 70 cents. I chose Clemente because, as a retired player, his card was actually cheaper than that of modern guys, especially rookies.

Speaking of rookie cards, I should've just gone for it and purchased Fernando Tatis Jr's card when it was first listed on the Topps website. After all, he's easily my favorite rookie of 2019, so I might just pick one up of eBay when I have the chance.

Although I have this newfound appreciation for 1953 Topps, I don't have many means of acquiring original or reprinted cards from this beautiful set. I may just start buying individual cards if I have the opportunity to do so at the Baseball card show.

I likely won't be trying to complete the set or anything. I just want to get my hands on this gorgeous set.