Tuesday, October 30, 2018

My BoSox Bobbles

Although I'm sadly unable to make the championship parade tomorrow at 11:00, I'm still in a state of shock from the events of 2 days ago. That final strikeout is going to be replaying in my head for years and years to come.

Still, I'm not going to be celebrating Boston's World Series victory on the blog for all that time, so it's time for me to move on, gradually that is. I still have a Red Sox-related post lined up for today, and that's putting all my Red Sox bobbleheads on display.

Personally, bobbleheads are some of the funniest pieces of memorabilia a collector can have. Whether you attend a game with a bobblehead giveaway or you find one at a card show, shop, or yard sale, I don't think there's any piece of memorabilia out there that's more fun to have in your collection than a bobblehead, and if you have a group of them, that part's even better.

The bobblehead at the top of this post is of Red Sox legend Manny Ramirez and is from a giveaway at Fenway Park back in June of 2017 when the Twins came to visit. While I have a few more that I'm about to show, Manny's bobblehead is definitely one of my favorites of the group.

Contrary to the Manny Ramirez bobblehead, the one of Pedro Martinez, another legend from the 2004 curse-breaking team, was not a promotion at a Red Sox game but rather a card show pickup. In fact, I picked up the exact same bobblehead of Ken Griffey Jr. a couple years later. I can't say I know what company made these, but I'm a huge fan of the detailed ticket stub design that Martinez is standing on.

A closer look at the ticket shows that it's from a game 5, likely the 5th game of the 2004 ALCS against the New York Yankees. With the seat information at the top and the details throughout the entire ticket, it truly does resemble an actual ticket from an MLB game pretty well.

While I can't say I'm certain which bobblehead is my favorite, I can confidently declare which one is my least favorite, and that one is of former Red Sox fan-favorite Nomar Garciaparra. Not only was he not very well-liked at the end of his time in Boston, whoever made this bobblehead could very well have been trying to scare people by making his skin appear almost green.

I mean, I get that it's from the early 2000's and all where the technology wasn't as great as it is today, but you'd think that whoever manufactured this bobblehead would try to make it look a bit more like Nomar and a bit less like a Halloween decoration.

I suppose I should save the best for last, but Mookie Betts' bobblehead from a June 2016 giveaway was next in my line of Red Sox bobbleheads to have their pictures taken, so it's next in the order in which I'm posting them. 

Without a doubt, Mookie's bobblehead is the coolest given the fact that instead of your usual standing pose, Betts is shown to be making a diving catch over the rightfield wall, all while wearing the alternate home uniforms.

The actual Mookie Betts figure is also able to separate from the wall, though it cannot stand on its own without leaning against something or resting on the table. Therefore, it's best to keep Mookie connected to the short green wall where he belongs.

Next up, the 2nd Manny Ramirez bobblehead is making its appearance with this one being from an Upper Deck set, though I'm not certain what it's necessarily called. All I know is I also have one of these of Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, and I'm also really pleased to see another example of the representation of the red alternate jerseys which are far more interesting to look at, especially on bobbleheads, rather than standard white home uniforms.

The next bobblehead features another member of Boston's 2018 World Series-winning team, All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts whose bobblehead is another promotional item from an August 2016 matchup against the Rays. 

As you can see given 3 of the souveniers thus far, when buying Red Sox tickets, I tend to gravitate towards games with bobblehead giveaways. If I'm going to pay Fenway Park prices, I'm definitely going to look for something in addition to a 9 or more inning game.

Okay, so this is a Paw Sox bobblehead and not a Red Sox one, so I suppose I'm slightly bending the rules. However, this was produced and given out for a Pawtucket Red Sox game many years ago in which Jacoby Ellsbury was on a rehab assignment from his injuries. A player with plenty of MLB experience, including many years with Boston, Ellsbury's Paw Sox bobblehead is definitely the most unique of the group for all the reasons above and more.

Although Ellsbury's bobblehead is incredibly unique, Chris Sale's, from an April 2018 game, is downright special. This "K counter" bobblehead is meant to serve as a tracker for all of Sale's strikeouts from 2018 given how many he had in 2017, his first season in Boston. You simply move the dials up or down to indicate an increase in K's.

Even with his limited innings pitched due to shoulder injuries, Sale still fanned 237 batters in 2018 which is where the dial will rest until I presume, Opening Day 2019 where Chris Sale is all but expected to start. Then, I'll reset the numbers back to all 0's, and we'll watch as another baseball season gets underway.

Until then, I have bobbleheads to keep me company and before I know it, the 2019 season will be starting up.

2 days down, only 149 days left to go.

Monday, October 29, 2018

I Still Have No Words

The Boston Red Sox just won the World Series. I don't think I've ever been happier to write a sentence before in my life than I was just now. I have no words, truly none.

By the time the game ended last night, it was far too late for my brain to work and write up a post, but I went to bed with the best feeling in the world other than the fact that my neighbors probably heard my screams of joy as Chris Sale struck out the always classy Manny Machado for the final out of the game.

I've spent the whole entire day pondering these feelings. Remembering the events of this historic fan, I finally realized how dedicated of a fan I was, watching countless games unfold. However, I wasn't quite as dedicated as a couple people I talked to today who said they made the journey to the Red Sox team store in Boston at 12:00 am for Red Sox World Series apparel. 

Now that's dedication.

I knew this team was special ever since Eduardo Nunez (who wasted no time in picking up his player option today) hit an inside-the-park home run on Opening Day in Tampa Bay. Ever since each and every member of this team has impressed me on numerous occasions with 2 of them being frontrunners for AL MVP. 

It was either Dave Dombrowski or Alex Cora who called this team the best Red Sox team ever. Truly a bold statement, but one that's very hard to disagree with. As a fan, it's been a long time since I've seen a team this good, and I'm honestly still in shock about the whole thing.

Due to Craig Kimbrel's struggles with his pitch count in the playoffs this far, I can't say it shocked me to see Chris Sale on the mound in the bottom of the 9th. A last minute decision to switch the starters proved to be a genius move as David Price was nothing short of magnificent and Chris Sale was lights out for those last 3 Dodgers hitters.

However, it's important for me to give recognition to the Dodgers for another outstanding season. From what I've seen from this team throughout 2018, they were truly the best out of the National League with an excellent balance of veterans and stars. With Corey Seager set to return in 2019 after missing nearly all of this year and Walker Buehler being the phenom he is, it wouldn't shock me to see the Dodgers back in the Fall Classic in 2019.

Seriously, if you haven't seen Walker Buehler pitch yet, you're missing out. He is an absolute flamethrower on the mound at the age of just 24. He's definitely a huge part of LA's future.

Don't let this shiny new trophy distract, the Red Sox are about to embark on an offseason that could change up their team, big time. For starters, their closer Craig Kimbrel is a free agent and although he wasn't as sharp in 2018, he's fundamental for their team. Next up is Joe Kelly, also a free agent, and his 100 mph fastball out of the bullpen has been very underappreciated all season.

Our midseason acquisitions, Nathan Eovaldi and World Series MVP Steve Pearce are also free agents, and the postseason helped give them more recognition for their respective abilities. I'm praying that Boston is able to re-sign both of them back given what they've done for the team since joining in July.

Oh, and last night's hero, David Price, has an opt-out after this year. Although he stated a month or so ago that he has no intentions of leaving, you never know when it comes to baseball.

But for now, I have no worries. There's nothing that can distract me from the pure joy I'm feeling right now.

The Red Sox are World Champions, and that's all that needs to be said right now.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Oui, Et Vous?

Though it's fairly unlikely to happen, the one thing I'd love to see at a card show or shop that I've never seen in-person before is a sealed box of O-Pee-Chee, even if it's a "junk wax" O-Pee-Chee box from the late 80's. So long as it's still old enough to have part of the card backs in French.

Granted they weren't produced in the United States, but I can't help but wonder why I've never seen an O-Pee-Chee box in person. The more I think about it, the more intriguing it becomes to test my knowledge of the French language while ripping open these packs. 

Though I have a couple handfuls of these cards scattered throughout my player collections, it's nothing too major. A brief eBay search delivered some results including boxes from 1986 for around $40, but that's a lot given that I paid $5 for a box of 1991 Topps at a card show in the past. At least for me, it doesn't seem worth it to pay all that much.

Despite not having a crazy number of O-Pee-Chee cards in my player collections, I always like testing out my French by attempting to translate the French writing into English before reading the entire back of the card. Typicaly, the back includes a blurb or 2 written in French (or is it French-Canadian) while the rest of the card back appears virtually the same as Topps Flagship. 

Thankfully, O-Pee-Chee isn't the only brand to feature French on the card backs. There's one more that I know of, and there must be some other ones out there. For now, let's take a look at these Zellers panel cards featuring Canada's own, Montreal Expos.

With 3-cards included, each of the same player, the Zellers Baseball Pro Tips panels became a part of my collection at a card show many, many years ago. I don't think the entire set was available, but I grabbed every one of these panels that I saw, making it so I have most of the entire set. 

Although I'm uncertain of the year this set was produced as well as what the Zellers brand is, I have to give them points for creativity in this set. They designed the cards so they can stay as a panel or be broken off into individual cards, and players are included more than once in order to give different baseball tips.

In Gary Carter's case, this means being included over 4 times, and that's just the panels that I have.

Like O-Pee-Chee, parts of these cards have writing in French in addition to having them in English. In the case of the front of the panels, the Baseball Pro Tips logo and the tip at the bottom of the page are also written in French while the backs, although boring, elaborate on the aforementioned tip in 2 different languages. 

Of all the things that both of these brands having going for them, I'd have to say my favorite would be the simple design and format of the Zellers cards. Since the O-Pee-Chee set takes on the same design is regular Topps, it's not something we haven't necessarily seen before, and that can be a good thing.

However, having a totally unfamiliar set and have part of it written in French is the best combination. Even if I never find another product with French on the card backs or fronts, I'll always have my Zellers panels and scattered O-Pee-Chee cards to practice my French with.

Friday, October 26, 2018

It's Like An Online Card Show

Over the last number of weeks, I've taken time to explore Twitter for baseball cards, something I've stated numerous times I never thought I'd be doing.

 I was always satisfied with eBay, COMC, and Sportlots for my online baseball card purchases. I never thought I would need more than that.

Alas, I was quickly disproven as soon as my first ever package of baseball cards bought on Twitter arrived in the mail a few weeks ago. Then came a 2nd package, next it was a 3rd, and finally, my 4th package of Twitter cards arrived at my front door this week. 

Another example of a Twitter user I've seen other bloggers buy from, @mrbkscards had a massive sports card sale that took place over multiple days towards the beginning of October. Due to the number of cards available as well as a lot of them being of guys I collect, this haul ended up being, by far, my largest purchase of cards from the site so far.

Back when this sale was taking place, 2018 Panini Chronicles was still fresh in my mind having recently opened a couple blasters of the product. Unfortunately for me, I was unable to rekindle my love for the set at Target a number of days ago when I stopped by for cards around my birthday. 

Because the set was still very fresh in my mind when this sale occurred, I claimed as many Panini Chronicles cards as I could, though some had already been requested by other users. I ended up with a decent selection, including a handful of Orioles players like Austin Hays and Chance Sisco.

Due to the premise that the first person to claim a card receives it, I must admit that there were a couple of times in which I didn't necessarily know what I was claiming. All I knew was I really liked the design and the cards featured players I collect. I suppose it's somewhat like a card show given that you don't always know what you're buying, but you find the card for the right price which ultimately proves to be enough.

Some under-appreciated 90's cards were among the many cards I decided to claim as part of this massive Twitter sports card sale. From late 90's Stadium Club with a stunning photo of Manny Ramirez to Metal Universe with the ever-abstract backgrounds. From planets to waterfalls, that set sure is weird, and I love it.

Perhaps one of the better parts of this particular Twitter cards purchase is that I was able to discover some cards of players I don't necessarily see every day in the dimes bins at the card show. While there's never a shortage of Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez cards, players like Derrek Lee and Darrell Evans don't show up all that often. 

Even though I collect both of them and have no intentions of stopping, I can't say it's every day I'm able to add to their respective player collections along with Ryan Howard and Cliff Lee as well.

Even with an extensive variety of cards, I definitely found myself leaning towards certain sets in particular or at least certain cards from those sets. Specifically, a decent portion of what arrived in the mail from this sale were Topps Gypsy Queen framed parallels, one of the things I miss most from the old Gypsy Queen products.

Starting off, we have the bronze frame parallels from the 2012 GQ set. Although these were fairly pricey, it makes sense given the caliber of the players featured on these cards. To be specific, all Hall of Famers who remains legends in the respective cities.

Flash forward one year in Gypsy Queen and we have the white framed parallels from the 2013 set, another group of framed parallels that I deemed were worth it and scooped up during this sale. However, this group differs quite a bit from the first group due to the 2013 white parallels consisting of all current players, in 2013 anyways, with the exception of Bob Gibson.

Although the serial numbering is not shown on the cards, some of the framed parallels I picked up are slightly rarer than the others and cost me around the same price if I remember correctly. The Steve Carlton is another bronze parallel which Topps decided to serial number out of 499 in 2015 while the Juan Marichal is a blue from 2012 number out of 599 copies.

Among everything that I claimed via this mega card sale, I was most pleased when I found new cards for some of my top-tier player collections. Out of my hundreds of player collections, there are around 30 that are at the top of my list of priorities, including the 4 players shown above. 3 players (Nolan Ryan, Manny Ramirez, and Greg Maddux) have passed the 200 card mark while an additional 25+ players have PCs with over 100 cards in them.

It's adding to these player collections, finding oddball cards, numbered cards for the right price, and a few others included is part of what has helped make Twitter one of my favorite new places to buy cards. As the title suggests, buying cards on Twitter is a lot like my own online card show.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Frankenset Page 25

In between games 3 and 4 of the 2018 World Series, I finally have a day to catch up on sleep before the marathon that will be game 3 from Los Angeles starts tonight.

I personally think the 8:00 prime time start is ridiculous for World Series games for a number of reasons. 

1. There is nothing wrong with starting at 7:00 which also gives more people the chance to watch the entire game. 2. Considering MLB has been attempting to get more kids into baseball, starting games at the bedtime of little kids and having it end past the time many teenagers go to sleep, especially on school notes, isn't helping them gain more viewers.

Ideally, World Series games would start at 7:00 or earlier eastern standard time. It's especially tough for east coast fans of teams in the Fall Classic since you have longer matchups ending well past 12:00 am if they go into extra innings. Even if they don't, you're looking at an end time of at least 11:30.

I'll probably be going to bed early tonight in anticipation of the next 2 Fall Classic games on Friday and Saturday. Before that, I have the 25th page of my frankenset ready to show, featuring cards 217-225.

#217 1984 Topps Alan Ashby
Although I always prefer to see the rainbow Houston Astros jerseys on 70's and 80's Astros cards, the image of catcher Alan Ashby bunting on his 1984 Topps card helps to make up for it. Seeing past years of Flagship cards feature interesting works of photography only makes me wish all the more that today's Topps sets would choose more interesting photos.

#218 1989 Pacific Baseball Legends 2nd Series
Showing Casey Stengel as manager of the New York Yankees is clearly the more obvious choice for the 1989 Pacific Baseball Legends set, and I must say I'm left wondering why Pacific decided to show him as manager of the Mets instead. Like most every decision, I'm sure there's some kind of reason behind it.

#219 2003 Fleer Tradition Update Melvin Mora
Even as recently as the early 2000's, brands were coming up with brand new set designs that additionally featured intriguing color combinations fairly reminiscent of the bold combos Topps came up with beginning in the late 50's. Nowadays, Topps appeals more towards the modern crowd which can be a good thing, but usually means we're shut out of the possibility of cards like this being made.

#220 2010 Topps National Chicle Dale Murphy
To be completely honest, I have no idea how to pronounce the name of this art set, let alone what the name is supposed to mean. All I know is that 2010 Topps National Chicle is another art set made by Topps along with Gallery, 205, 206, and a couple others that were unable to last longer than a couple years, or in the case of this set, only 1 year.

#221 1991 Sporting News Conlon Collection Joe Vosmik
This is roughly the 3rd page in a row that's included a card from the Sporting News Conlon Collection on it, an example of a perfect set to include in something like a frankenset. Considering how many doubles I pulled from the box of this I bought from the show a couple years ago, I can't say I'm all that surprised to see them make the frankenset.

#222 1960 Topps Al Lopez
It's cards like these that make me miss the days when managers would get their own cards in Topps sets. Granted, I believe they were included in Topps products on and off for a while, but it's been at least a decade or so since a manager got their own card in a Topps Flagship set. At least, as far as I know.

#223 1968 Topps Ollie Brown
If you've been viewing my frankenset post since I started them back in March, you know it's fairly uncommon for more than 1 vintage card to appear on a single page. Not only did 2 of them make the 25th page of the frankenset, both they're from 2 of my favorite Topps sets ever made, those being 1960 and 1968.

#224 1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes Manny Sanguillen
Seeing this eye-catching all-black Pirates jersey with a bit of gold on it as well makes me wonder why I never saw this uniform make it to cardboard before or after seeing this Manny Sanguillen card for the first time. It could be that they only wore these jerseys for special games or a limited number of seasons, but they're still some of the best uniforms I've ever seen in my life.

#225 2017 Topps Gypsy Queen Jose De Leon
Back when I created this frankenset, 2017 Topps Gypsy Queen had just been released and I remember taking a strong liking to the gorgeous background on Jose De Leon's rookie card. Well over 1 year later, I still feel the exact same way about card #225 in my frankenset. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Top 5 Cards; Clayton Kershaw

Every year as soon as the World Series matchup is set, I start to feel a bit bad for the team that came all the way to the Fall Classic (and in the last 2 years, lasted 7 games) only to have their seasons end in a loss.

No team wants to end their season with a loss. Not a chance.

Even though the Indians lost to the Cubs in 2016, my 2nd favorite team, I still felt bad that they came all that way to lose. Same for the Dodgers in 2017; it definitely sucks. There's no denying that.

Game 1 of the 2018 World Series is tonight as Clayton Kershaw will take on Chris Sale in about 4 hours live from Fenway Park. The Dodgers are looking to avenge their World Series loss last season while the Red Sox will be looking to do what they've done all season; win.

The momentum of the entire series rests in the hands of the game 1 starting pitchers. For the Dodgers, that man is Clayton Kershaw, a seasoned veteran with undeniable talents who has also faltered in the playoffs. As for Boston, Chris Sale's limited postseason experience and injuries over the last few months could pose a threat.

No matter the outcome of this series, I will feel remorse for whoever loses, though the Red Sox more so than the Dodgers for obvious reasons. Here's to another memorable Fall Classic, beginning with a top 5 cards post for Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

#5 2018 Topps Heritage World Series Highlights Game #1
World Series highlights cards are definitely a topic worth covering someday as the 60's especially delivered some memorable designs. Though the burlap of '68 is iconic not to mention the classic wood borders of '62, I'd have to give 1969 Topps the slight edge for greatest World Series highlights cards ever made. Modeled after the 1968 World Series between the Tigers and Cardinals, Topps did a superb job recreating them in 2018 Topps Heritage for the 2017 Fall Classic matchup of Astros vs Dodgers.

#4 2017 Panini Diamond Kings Aurora
The flamboyant, multi-color Aurora insert design from 2017 Panini Diamond Kings could not be left out of Kershaw's top 5 cards post, even if the logoless cap is slightly more noticeable on this card than on the Jose Altuve card featured on his top 5 cards post. Whoever at Panini came up with the design for this set deserves to be recognized. 

As an unlicensed company, they need to step it up a bit to distract from the no logos. A lot of the time, Panini doesn't do this, but when they do, they have a huge opportunity for success. 

#3 2015 Topps Archives
Even with the stellar selection of sets (1958, 1977, 1981) that were represented in this year's set, I'm still waiting for another year of Topps Archives that rivals the collection of legendary Topps sets that was 2015 Topps Archives. With 1957, 1976, and 1983 included, 2 of my top 5 and 3 of my top 15 Topps sets ever made were represented in that years' set and Mr. Kershaw occupied spot #1 with a detailed card in the photo-centric set that is 1957 Topps.

#2 2017 Topps Gallery Heritage
Last year, Topps Gallery Heritage was one of the better insert sets of 2017, a year that was somewhat lacking in terms of quality baseball cards though had no issue with quantity. Though 2018 Topps Gallery which would be year 2 of the set's revival is still up in the air, I'm glad Topps brought this art-based brand back, even if it didn't last as long as I would've liked. 

As for the card above, it's based on 1951 Bowman and has every little detail I could ask for. From the Gallery Heritage logo to the beautiful art and background colors.

#1 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter
To me, Kershaw's 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter takes the best parts of the cards at the #2 and #3 spots and combines them to create one fabulous card worthy for me to call the best Clayton Kershaw card in my collection. The photo looks almost like a combination of the previous 2 while the artwork and attention to details are just as evident in this card as it was in the Gallery Heritage card at #2. Not to mention 2011 A&G is one of my favorite sets in this brand's history.

As for the Fall Classic, around a week from now, one fanbase will be devastated while another celebrates a championship. Although I want nothing more than for the Red Sox to win, I really would love for another thrilling World Series that's memorable and without dirty plays. This means you, Manny Machado.

Good luck to the Dodgers and of course, the Red Sox. Now, let's have another fantastic Fall Classic.

Monday, October 22, 2018

A Few Vintage Cards and Relics; Card Show Recap #13 Part 2

While the dime boxes from yesterday's card show were definitely something special, I knew I wanted to spread out a little bit and not come home from the show knowing each card cost me just 10 cents.

After reeling in a 200-card dime box haul, I began to look around at what else this vendor had, knowing he was the one I bought my 1958 Topps Ernie Banks card from at a card show a couple of weeks ago. Aside from dime boxes, this particular dealer has 2 other bins that are always worth checking out; bargain vintage and relic cards/autographs, both of which I took him up on.

In terms of bargain vintage cards, we might as well begin with the Ty Cobb all-time hits leader card from 1973 Topps. I assume there is a small portion of the checklist dedicated to these all-time leaders cards, though I had never seen any of them from 1973 set prior to Sunday's show. 

For a very fair price of $3, this became my first all-time leaders' card from '73 Topps so far.

Continuing on with the vintage theme, I picked up this 1970 Topps Harmon Killebrew card for the same price as the Ty Cobb card, another terrific deal if you ask me. For one reason or another, there seem to be quite a few cards from 1970 Topps that feature players in front of the bat rack. Instantly, Tony Taylor and Andy Etchebaran come to mind, but it's nice to finally see one in-person of a player that I collect, and even better to add it to my collection.

Of the trio of vintage cards I picked up, Willie McCovey's 1960 Topps All-Star card is the oldest by a decade, yet cost me less money than the previous 2 cards combined. One of my Topps Flagship sets ever made, 1960 Topps features an All-Star card design equally as intriguing as the base set with McCovey's card not being my first from the set as I also have a card of Ernie Banks and I believe 1 other player in this very design.

With half the money remaining after the dime box haul still set aside, I decided these 3 cards were perfect for vintage. Therefore, I decided to look through the relic and autograph bin knowing very well that if something caught my eye, it would likely be a relic card since they are typically more fairly priced. Indeed, that was the case as 2 relics, in particular, peeked my interest.

1 day after the Dominican Dandy, Juan Marichal, turned 81 years old back on Saturday, I picked up this relic card of his numbered 14/99 that also happens to include a very large relic swatch, especially for an old-time player. Even nowadays, the standard relics in Topps Heritage or Allen & Ginter are barely half the size of this relic, not to mention Marichal played over half a century ago.

And although their relic swatches don't have the standout size as Marichal's, picking up this dual relic of 2 respective legends from the 1975 World Series, the greatest Fall Classic ever played, was equally as special as the Marichal relic above. For the same price, this dual relic of Joe Morgan and Carlton Fisk is numbered to 250 on the back of the card and is now one of a select few dual relic cards in my collection. 

Typically, most every relic card I pick up is a single relic and only a couple out of my hundreds of relics/autographs have more than 1 swatch from more than one player. That's part of what makes this relic so special with the other part being that these 2 helped put baseball back on the map in 1975 with Morgan's MVP season and Carlton Fisk's iconic World Series home run.