Saturday, May 26, 2018

Soxumentary Cardd 21-40

After how much fun I had creating and receiving my first 20 cards of the Soxumentary set, I went ahead and created cards for games 21-40 of the 2018 Red Sox season. I eventually started to fall a bit behind, which I had a premonition would happen, so I took advantage of staying home sick on Monday to complete the 2nd set.

Unlike the first set, the 2nd Soxumentary set is way more like what their season is going to look like. The first set included 17 wins and just 3 losses. Now, we have 12 wins and 10 losses. They may have gone a bit downhill, but you can't stay 17-3 forever. Plus, the team had some very exciting things happen over these 20 games that I am thrilled to have captured on cardboard.

Let's start with the wins, shall we? Boston pulled off some exciting wins over this 20-game span, the most exciting of which being their 4-3 win over the Rays to avoid the series sweep. It included backup-catcher Sandy Leon hitting a go-ahead RBI in the bottom of the 8th, hence why he's the one on the card. 

The other wins came thanks to the Red Sox power bats, particularly J.D. Martinez and of course, Mookie Betts. Combined, these 2 are hitting.343 with 33 homers and almost 80 RBI. Without them, the Sox wouldn't have half the wins they have today. 

In addition to their hitters, the Sox starting pitching hasn't let them down. At least, Chris Sale hasn't, anyway. Sale has had numerous sensational starts and is closing in on 100 strikeouts as I speak. In fact, he's just 4 K's away from that milestone. Along with him, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez have also been pitching very well this year.

Of course, there will still losses to make cards of, which wasn't all that fun. In spite of how well they've been playing, the Sox have still suffered some pretty bad losses. Mostly, it's been the games where the starting pitchers have struggles which can't really be undone. Even if the team scores many runs like they did in the game above (the card on the right). The Sox scored 6 runs in that game, but their pitching allowed 12 runs against the Rays.

Finally, throughout games 21-40 of the year, whether they won or lost the game, the Sox had numerous highlights that I was able to put on these cards.

The first of these highlights came at the hands of Chris Sale, who else? Sale pitched 9 innings against the Blue Jays in which he struck out 15 batters which are tied for his career-high. Despite all of this, Sale was still unable to get the win, and the Sox couldn't pull off the win in this game, either as they lost 5-3 on a walk-off in Toronto.

The 2nd highlight was thanks to Craig Kimbrel, meaning there was definitely a save involved, and there was. Kimbrel got his 300th save a couple weeks ago when the Red Sox took on the Rangers in Texas. He became the fastest player to reach this milestone by notching 300 saves in 330 save situations.

Finally, the last of the highlights is not so much a true highlight, but more of a special moment. This card, commemorating the 5-2 win over the Blue Jays, could very well be his final Soxumentary card, coming far earlier than anyone could have expected since he was DFA'd yesterday. I'm still bitter about the whole thing, but in the end, I understand why they did it. With that being said, I may have to create a custom Hanley card or cards on the app, just as a way to commemorate his time with the Red Sox. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Top 5 Cards: Dustin Pedroia

Earlier today, Red Sox first baseman and designated hitter Hanley Ramirez was designated for assignment, thus ending his time as a Boston Red Sox player. This was done in order to create roster space for Dustin Pedroia who is coming back from an injury and is expected to start tomorrow.

Like most baseball fans, I was shocked by this move since it seemed to come out of nowhere. Granted, Hanley had a bad month of May but he was stellar to start the year. It seems bizarre that they'd give up on him so quickly, but it does make sense.

Boston has their outfield all set, Benintendi, Bradley Jr, and Betts. J.D. Martinez spends most of his time at DH, and Mitch Moreland is a gold glove caliber 1st baseman. Therefore, there was no place for Hanley at 1st if you have Moreland, and his offense wasn't good enough to have J.D. rest or move to the outfield. It just didn't work.

Now, I don't agree with the move, but like I said, it makes sense. So, I thought I'd connect this back to Dustin Pedroia who will take the field tomorrow for the first time this year. To celebrate, I've decided to show off my 5 favorite cards of Pedroia out of the 60 in my collection. 

#5 2012 Topps Gypsy Queen
Dustin Pedroia is a Red Sox fan-favorite, through and through. While his numbers have slumped in recent years, Red Sox fans absolutely adore Dustin Pedroia, not to mention he's made numerous remarks about how much he loves playing at Fenway. That is all very evident on Pedey's 2012 Gypsy Queen card which shows him absolutely pumped up after hitting what looks to be a home run given the blurred out cheering fans in the background.

#4 2012 Topps Gypsy Queen Sliding Stars
Yes, I realize the first 2 cards are from the same set and the same year, but I guarantee I put Pedroia's Sliding Stars insert card from 2012 Topps Gypsy Queen on this list for a reason. For much of his career, Pedey was known for his speed. He has 5 15+ steal seasons to his name. But more so than that, he's a very smart baserunner. On this card, Pedroia is seen sliding into home plate at some ballpark that I can't seem to recognize while another Red Sox player appears right behind him. After reading the back of the card, I discovered it was from a May 29th, 2011 game against the Tigers.

#3 2012 Topps Archives 1968 3D
Topps Archives is known for choosing various small sets from different years of Topps and making them insert sets in their sets. Case and point; the 1968 3D cards which appeared in the 2012 Topps Archives set despite 1968 Topps not being one of the sets chosen for the 2012 product. 3D cards are some of my favorite types of cards, and since they're not made all too much anymore, I jump at any chance I can get to add 3D cards to my collection. Overall, they were very well done in the 2012 Archives sets, though I've never seen the original '68 3D's so I can't know for sure.

#2 2009 Upper Deck Goudey Heads Up
The Heads Up cards were part of each year of the revived Goudey set that Upper Deck put out from 2007-2009. Out of all 3 of the Heads Up card designs, 2009 is no-doubt my favorite simply because they're actual full-size cards. I totally appreciate the little comics and blurbs written on the card, so I want to see as many of them as possible. Making the card full-size instead of mini, and the various things Upper Deck chose to write about for their 2009 Goudey set not only helps the '09 Heads Up cards be my favorite of the bunch but also helps this card to #2 on my list.

#1 2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Black Mini Parallel
Since he's been with the Red Sox for over a decade, Pedroia has been a major part of the rivalry between the Sox and the Yankees. One thing about the rivalry is that it's really not captured on cardboard as much as it should be. This mini card does capture the rivalry very well as it shows Yankees player Alex Rodriguez and the subject of this top 5 cards post, Dustin Pedroia. Better yet, it's a black parallel which is numbered 21/199 on the back of the card.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Best Topps Set By Decade

The most interesting thing about the Topps flagship set is the evolution of the product. Think about it, the set has changed with the times going from the iconic 1952 set all the way to the present day "wave" set in 2018. Through it all, each decade seems to have brought its own style of cards. For example, the 70's were all about color while the 2010's sets were based off more sleek designs, eventually leading to borderless cards.

All in all, each decade of Topps flagship has brought with it sets that continue to stand-out year after year. Each and every decade with the possible exception of the 2000's, has created a set that has remained one of the most iconic in not just Topps history, but baseball history as well.

This is why even though I've done a top 10 Topps flagship sets list a while ago, I've had a couple opinions change since then. Furthermore, I like the idea of approaching my favorite Topps sets by decade more than in a top 10. So, here are my favorite Topps sets by decade. We begin with the 1950's. 

I realize that 1956 Topps is a very well-liked set by many bloggers, and don't get me wrong, I do like the set quite a bit. But the card size kind of ruins it for me. I prefer the standard size cards over the larger vintage cards from some of the 50's sets which is part of the reason why I chose 1959 as my favorite set from the 50's. Additionally, it takes the best parts of the '58 set but includes actual images instead of just putting a player in front of a red or green or yellow background. I like seeing grass, dirt, and sky on my cards, and you get that with '59 Topps while still including the unique colors like yellow and pink that made 50's cards so special.

Since making my top 10 Topps cards list, the main change I've made is regarding the 1960 Topps set. I originally placed 1962 Topps above it, but since then, I've realized how much I truly love 1960 Topps, enough to rank it as my favorite Topps set from the 60's. The only all-landscape card set in Topps history certainly has a lot going on. A headshot of the player, player name in 2 different colors, a logo, a black and white photo next to the headshot, and finally, the team name a position along with the continuation of unique color combinations. Yet, the best part would have to be that there somehow isn't too much going on. In fact, there's just enough to make this the busiest Topps set of all-time, and definitely one of the best.

There wasn't a whole lot of debate for the 70's. After all, 1972 Topps is my favorite baseball card set ever made, probably because I've been collecting it for so long that I've grown to love each detail of the set more than that of any other set. The photos included in the set are pretty great considering they are from the 70's, the color choice for the photo border and the team name text never fail to disappoint. Once again, colors like pink and light blue and every color in between make their way into this 787-card set. It's hard to imagine, but I think I'll like the set even more once I collect the final 8 cards that I need.

In the decade where Fleer and Donruss joined the game, oddball sets were everywhere, and the junk wax era had begun, Topps didn't have a ton of incredible sets especially when you consider what they had put out the decade before in the 70's. However, their one main bright spot is a pretty big one in 1983 Topps, a set that takes the classic and fun colors from the 50's-70's and modernizes it to make it fit for 1983. It even takes a page out of 1960 Topps' book by including not 1, but 2 photos of the player on each card. Only a handful of sets have done that, and even fewer have been able to pull it off. To me, 1983 Topps pulls it off.

I don't know 1990's baseball cards at all. In fact, it's the only decade in which I cannot recognize any set by year, probably because there's just way too many 90's baseball cards to keep track of, even if we're just talking Topps. However, the early years of the 90's created 2 well-done sets in 1991 and 1992. Only 1 could be chosen, so I went with the 1991 set that included some of the greatest photos to ever make it to a baseball card. Don't believe me? Search for Wade Boggs' and/or Benito Santiago's cards from the set. Then you'll see what I'm talking about.

The 2000's were when Topps truly went for modern and never looked back. Yet somehow, there's nothing too modern about the 2008 Topps set. It' just a well-done product that doesn't have too much going on nor does it have to draw too much attention to itself. My favorite part, which happens to be everyone else's as well since the set is rather minimal, are the colorful letters above the Topps logo. Like it's done for most Topps sets, this detail includes different colors depending on the team. However, I think red and blue works best, especially when the photo is taken in front of the ivy like it is for Carlos Zambrano here.

Yes, even the 2010's have produced a stand-out set, and that set is 2015 Topps. The thing about this set is that next to 1972, it was the easiest choice for this post. In fact, other than 2015, 2018, and maybe 2017, I don't like any of the Topps Flagship sets from the 2010's. This is what I meant at the beginning of this post. How did we get from the iconic 50's sets to here? The low-points of the 2010's (2012, 2014, 2016) compared to the low-points of, say, the 1960's really sheds light on how much this set has changed. Still, if Topps could make a set like 2015 every couple of years, they'd have people talking for decades to come. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Dollar Vintage Cards: Card Show Recap #9 Part 3

At almost every card show I attend, I try to make a point to buy at least a couple vintage cards. After all, if you buy vintage the right way you can find some excellent deals on cards, and of good players as well. It's just a matter of finding the right vendor at the right time. That way, you can do everything in your power to ensure you get the best deals possible.

On Sunday when my time at the show was winding down, I decided to briefly browse the $1 vintage bin of the same vendor that I had bought all the dime cards from. He's one of the best vendors at the card show I frequently attend due to his huge variety of inventory, specifically when it comes to vintage cards.

I had browsed that $1 vintage bin before and I had never found anything too spectacular. It usually consists of a ton of 1973 Topps commons and the occasional low-numbered 1972 card. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but that's not the kind of stuff I'm looking for. 

However, Sunday's card show proved to be an exception. My only guess is that the bin was recently restocked because I was incredibly surprised with the selection of cards available, all for only $1 each.

There were a few 1970 Topps cards available, 2 of which I ended up buying. 1 is a Rollie Fingers card which looks somewhat unusual since nearly every card I have of him shows his iconic mustache. The other is of fellow star pitcher of the 60's and 70's, Juan Marichal. Looking at these 2 1970 Topps cards now, I'm beginning to get excited about next years' Topps Heritage set. Granted, it's about 9 months away, but the sleek and silver 1970 Topps design is one that will definitely make 2019 Heritage a well sought after set. It may not be the flashiest 70's set, but it certainly is one of my favorites.

The $1 vintage bin was also home to a couple of 1969 Topps Deckle Edge cards. While I'm on the topic of Heritage, these cards were included in the 2018 Topps Heritage set as inserts, and Topps did a very good job with them. Still, it's hard to beat the originals and the players chosen that made this set so unique. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I don't think anything quite like this set has ever been done before or since 1969. 

The black and white photos, the blue ink fake signatures, and of course, the deckled edge around the cards are what made this set so collectible. I can't say I have intentions of completing the set since I have so many other sets on my want list. However, I'll certainly buy a card or 2 from the '69 Deckle Edge set if I see them for the right price like I did at Sunday's show.

With about $10 left, I couldn't go too crazy. Therefore, I decided not to get too into set needs or anything like that, but rather, continue to find cards for player collections. My Orlando Cepeda and Paul Blair player collections don't receive new cards all that often, let alone vintage. I suppose they aren't that prominent and don't have many new cards being made of them. I suppose I understand Blair, but Orlando Cepeda is a Hall of Famer, and considering how little he's represented in modern-day cards, he's one of the most underrated Hall of Famers of all-time.

With just $1 and thus, 1 card left to go, I wanted to make it special. I was thinking maybe a 1965 Topps card of a guy I collect to cap of the purchase or something like that.

I didn't find that. But what I did find was a million times better than what I ever could have expected.

This, my friends, is an original 1950 Bowman card, now the 3rd oldest card in my collection. Not to mention the fact that the card is of a Red Sox player which made it even more sweeter.

I really wasn't expecting to see a card like this, but I knew I had to get it. This would be the perfect card to wrap up the purchase as well as the entire show. After all, it's kinda hard to beat an original 1950 Bowman card for a buck. Especially after doing a post on the oldest cards in my collection a couple weeks ago. It looks like I'll have to update that list sooner rather than later at this point.