A blog about baseball cards... and the Padres

Monday, November 23, 2015

Best Binder Page

I was coerced out of my non-blogging cave when I stumbled upon a recent post from TJ, the brainiac behind the Junior Junkie blog.  In said post, TJ said that he was often asked what his favorite card was, and he came to the conclusion that a "desert island" page would be easier to decide upon.  I can only imagine the upkeep that would be required to keep a single binder page of priceless cardboard safe while on a desert island.

Just like the MVP voting which recently took place, there are many different ways to interpret "best binder page".  Is it the cards you would have the hardest time replacing (due to scarcity)?  Does the particular card hold a sentimental value that a simple copy of the card wouldn't be able to replicate?  Is the card just awesome and you'd be fine with any copy of it, as long as you just had it?  I found myself all over the map on my selections, but here's what I finally landed on:

A rather eclectic bunch of baseball cards, if I do say so myself.  None of the cards shows a player wearing a similar uniform (though, admittedly, there are six Padres cards here, so it's kinda their own fault for the lack of consistency, uniform-wise. At first, I thought this would be a Padres-only page, if not a Cianfrocco or Gwynn only page.  In the end, I'm pretty satisfied with the diversity.

1992 Upper Deck - Archi Cianfrocco #772
First up, my all time favorite player.  It was hard to choose an Archi card, and I was really  leaning towards a slightly-harder-to-find minor league issue, but in the end, I was a sucker for a card from the overproduction era.  It happens to be the Cianfrocco card that I have the most of, so I wouldn't necessarily need this exact copy - any one would do.

1993 Topps Black Gold - Fred McGriff #13
Here's one of my favorite players from when I was a kid, and the nostalgia is beginning.  Not only is the '93 Topps Black Gold insert set one of my all time favorite inserts, this is one that I pulled out of a pack as a kid.  As a kid, I would have to say that this is one of my best "pulls".

1993 Mother's Cookies - Gene Harris #18
This one just snuck into the page, but the sentimentality of being my first in person autograph was just too great.  As I got older, I contemplated completely tossing this one out, because I was a bit of a condition snob, and this one has a pretty decent sized crease.  But I love Mother's Cookies sets, and the memory of getting the autograph from the Padres Store at Jack Murphy Stadium is still cool.

1952 Bowman - Jerry Coleman #73
I have a full page of vintage Jerry Coleman cards, and while this one isn't the first I picked up, or the one in the best condition, I think it's the best picture of The Colonel.  Man, this looks so good to me.

1967 Topps - Willie McCovey #400
While the McGriff and Harris cards were sentimental to me, this one still blows them out of the water.  This was the prize of my collection as a kid, the one I saved up a whole $18 for.  When I found out that a former Padre was in the Hall of Fame, I knew I had to get his card, and for whatever reason, the local card shops didn't have any cards of him as a Padre, so this ended up being my pick.  This is still my favorite card in my entire collection, earning it the middle spot in my binder page.

1985 Topps - Tony Gwynn (AS)#717
No big story behind this one, but it wouldn't be my best binder page without at least one Tony Gwynn card, and this is my favorite Gwynn card.  The design looks incredible with the uniform.  Well done, Topps, well done.

1953 Mother's Cookies - Tom Alston #24
This Tom Alston card was the first vintage Mother's Cookies card from the Pacific Coast League Padres I ever picked up.  It's also the best looking card, and Alston was the first African-American ballplayer to play on the St. Louis Cardinals, so that's pretty cool.  I almost went with the Whitey Wietelmann card from the same set, but on this particular day, I gave this one the slight edge.

2008 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes - Kevin Kouzmanoff autograph/jersey swatch
Kevin Kouzmanoff rules, and so does this card.  Despite the fact that it's a sticker auto, I still really dig this card, and is probably my favorite Padre relic/auto.  It very slightly edges some other cool autographs like Bip Roberts, Benito Santiago, and a few Gwynn relics that I have.

2011 Topps Update - Chris Denorfia #US243 (printing plate)
I got back into collecting at the end of 2011, and this Chris Denorfia card was the first modern card that I really really dug.  It's the first card I put together a "rainbow" for, and while all the different colored parallels are cool, the printing plate tops them all.

Final Stats:

Cards from the 50's: 2
Cards from the 60's: 1
Cards from the 80's: 1
Cards from the 90's: 3
Cards from the 00's: 1
Cards from the 10's: 1
Serial Numbered Cards: 2
Autographed Cards: 2
Hall of Famers: 3
Padres: 6
Expos: 1
Giants: 1
Yankees: 1
Players who at one time were Padre: 9
Topps: 4
Upper Deck: 2
Mother's Cookies: 2
Bowman: 1

This was pretty fun.  Fun enough to lull me out of my posting hibernation, at least.  

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Did anybody watch Game 1 of the World Series last night?  I missed it, just like every other postseason game this year.  I don't have cable, just the MLB At Bat app, which doesn't work for postseason games unless you already have a TV provider, which I don't.  So, between carving pumpkins with the kids and watching the last two episodes of The Blacklist on Netflix, I went to Walmart to pick up a few things, and lo and behold, they finally had Topps Update in stock.

I listened to the part of the game where the Royals tied it at three while I opened the rack pack, and while it wasn't overwhelming, I did get a pair of cards that were definite keepers.  Even though the above image was already used in Heritage High Numbers, it still makes for a interesting, if not repetitive card.  I still dig it.

As if I hadn't seen enough of Matt Kemp with the first card, here he is again.  I perused the Padre cards from Update online, and while I'm not enamored with many of the shots they used, I like this one enough.  Good start to his Padre career with this card (and yeah, he was decent on the field, though not the offensive savior that the front office hoped he would be).

Update, to me, is all about rookie cards of players I've never heard of and boring All-Star Game or Home Run Derby cards.  Ugh.  Well, even though I hardly even follow non-Padres teams, I do know these guys.  Took me a while to figure out how to pronounce Syndergaard's name, but I think I got it now.  Oh, and I'm glad I checked up on the Addison Russell card, because it turns out that it's a photo variation.  Seem to be a lot of those in this year's Update set, but maybe it's just me.

Even though it isn't a Padre card, Evan Gattis' card still stuck out to me.  I have a hard time remembering what Topps and other big collectors ™ call different parallels, so I'll stick with "throwback Topps logo parallel that looks like a gold parallel" card.  While these don't appear to be too rare either, I really dig the subject matter and the throwback Astros logos, very cool.

Anyways, it was nice to finally get my hands on Update, but I'll probably still need to pick up the Padres base set on eBay or something.  Later though.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Plate Collecting

Any plate collectors out there?  No, I'm not talking about ordering fine China from QVC that has famous people's faces on it, I'm talking about printing plates.  The kind made to make cards.

It wasn't until I got back into the hobby in late 2011/early 2012 that I realized that the plates that were used to make cards were a thing that you could collect.  While jersey swatches and bat chips and autographs are all pretty cool in their own right, I've been pretty intrigued by the actual plate used to make the cards.

While I wouldn't necessarily say that I am a big printing plate collector, I do like 'em, and I have "Padres printing plate" as a saved search on eBay.  I've scored a few. 

I'm a big fan of Kyle Blanks, but I also really liked the design of his 2013 Topps card.  I can't remember how much this one set me back, but I want to say it was in the $6-$8 range, shipped.  Too hard to pass up.

While I'm a fan of Kyle Blanks, I was a die-hard fanatic of Andrew Cashner's last year.  Man, I have a ton of Cashner cards.  Now that I've cooled off a lot on him, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all the cards I have, but I'll probably still hang on to these beauties.  While I'm more a fan of the Topps base cards than I am of off-shoot brands like Chrome or Gypsy Queen, these still look solid in my eyes.  The best ones to get are the black ones, since it's easier to see the image, but the blue still looks good too.

I've cooled off on my non-Padres Chris Denorfia collecting, but when I saw the printing plate for my favorite non-Padres card of Deno, I couldn't pass it up.  Fortunately, Norf isn't a big name, so I was able to scoop this up for… I dunno about ten bucks or so.

This was the first printing plate that I ever got, and still my all time favorite.  Denorfia's 2011 Topps card remains one of my all time favorite cards.  While it'd be cool to have Denorfia sign a copy of that card, or imbed some game used memorabilia into the card, having a plate that was actually used to make the card?  I dunno, it just seems really cool to me.  And yeah, I guess the pink looks pretty cool.  There are four different types of printing plates, black, magenta, yellow, and cyan.  I don't really have many big card collecting regrets, but getting outbid on the black printing plate of this card is one of them.

This is my most recent plate pickup, my first yellow plate.  With the departure of Chris Denorifa and my waning interest in Andrew Cashner, it's looking more and more like Yangervis Solarte is my new favorite player to collect (well, at least until bullpen guys like Brandon Maurer and Nick Vincent get their cardboard due).  I have my sights set on an on-card auto of Solarte in a Padres uniform, but those aren't too difficult to come across.  But man, I really love this card.  It's harder to see here, but both the Tony Gwynn and Jerry Coleman memorial patches are visible in this shot of Solarte's diving attempt.  I'm a sucker for those from last year's uniform.

Like I said, six printing plates in four years or so hardly makes me a big time plate hunter, but it's a nice little handful, and I like 'em enough.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

KC Cards

Well, the Royals punched their World Series ticket with a victory over the Blue Jays last night.  I gotta say, I really liked the MLB playoff field this year, especially once the Yankees, Cardinals, and Dodgers got eliminated (sorry to fans of those teams).  I like Kansas City but wouldn't have minded it if Toronto was the AL representative.  I've got a few friends that are fans of both teams, so I'd be happy for them.

Initially, I planned (after being woken up at 5:00 this morning) to do a post showing all my cards from the two World Series teams that weren't part of sets (don't need to scan a bunch of '91 Fleer, '92 Pinnacle, or any of the recent cards from the '71 Topps design ('12 Archives or '13 Topps minis).  However, I soon found out that, if I stuck to that rule, I'd have ZERO Mets.  That's kinda weird, right?

I mean, I'm a Padres collector, almost exclusively, and my buddy Mark is a big Mets fan, so I guess it makes sense that I've shipped off all my Mets to him.  Still thought I woulda had someone, though.

So, instead of showing both teams, here are all of my Royals cards (like I said, the ones that aren't part of complete sets).

Speaking of Mark, he's hooked me up with a ton of Benito Santiago cards.  I kinda lost track of Benito after he went to the Marlins from San Diego, but man, the dude was on a lot of teams.  I wouldn't have even known about the Royals were it not for this card, which happens to be a pretty good one, if I do say so myself.

Another Royal with a Padre connection is Chris Gwynn.  Not only is Chris' brother the greatest Padre ever, but Chris cemented his name into Padres lore when he scored the winning run on the last game of the '96 season to complete a sweep of the Dodgers for the National League West title.  Probably one of my all time favorite baseball memories.

Alright, last player with a Padre connection.  Big Game James Shields came over to the Padres this past offseason, and I was super excited about it.  While he didn't have a bad season, he gave up a ton of homers (mostly solo shots) and definitely didn't look like the ace the Padres were hoping to see.  Hopefully next year is a turnaround.  I love Pinnacle and was super excited when Panini brought it back a few years ago.  Looks like it'll be a one-time deal though, since it's been two years since awesome cards like these.

My most recent addition to my "Foster" collection is a Royal who is still in their farm system.  Griffin was a 1st round pick (28th overall) in 2014, though his 5.44 ERA in 22 games at single-A Lexington isn't a great start, he's still young (he just turned 20).

Not only do the Royals have a card in my "Foster" collection (my oldest son's name), they also have a card in my "Maxwell" collection (my youngest son's name).  Congratulations Royals, here's a shaving cream celebration.

I don't really follow the Royals (or any other non-Padres team, for that matter), but Jeremy Guthrie is my favorite current Royal.  I first heard of Guthrie when he was a Rockie who tweeted out that he needed a throwing partner and ended up playing catch on an off-day with a cancer survivor.  I read more about him and found out that he was Mormon and had served a two-year mission in Spain before becoming a professional ball-player.  He has yet to play in the postseason (he had a 5.95 ERA this year, so I can't say that's a huge surprise). 

This is probably my all-time favorite Royals card.  It wasn't until last year that I found out that Harmon Killebrew had been a Royal.  While his final season in the majors wasn't a great one, the 39 year old Killebrew got to add 14 homers to his career total of 573.  Man, that is a lot of dingers.  This is the only Kansas City Killebrew that I've come across, and I really like seeing him in an unfamiliar uniform.  Kinda reminds me of seeing Dale Murphy in a Rockies uniform.  Not to go crazy on the Mormon baseball player theme, but Killebrew and Murphy are the two best ever.

Anyways, I'm not sure that I have a rooting interest in a Royals/Mets World Series.  If my baseball card collection is any indication, I'm leaning towards the Royals, but both teams seem pretty fun to watch.  The Royals also have a pair of former-Padre pitchers in Chris Young and Edinson Volquez, but it's fun watching Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes hit.  Either way, I guess I'll root for some good drama, anything that can turn headlines away from football and towards baseball.

If it goes seven games, then it means the baseball season gets to last just a little bit longer.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

(Former) Padres in the Playoffs

Are you like me?  Sitting at home during the playoffs without a team to root for?  I mean, sure, jumping on the Royals bandwagon won't be too hard to do since you hopped on it last year too, and the upstart Astros are a good story.  The Cubs could be exciting, and the Rangers and Blue Jays are fun, slugging teams.

Maybe when trying to choose a postseason team, you take a look at who you recognize from the teams.  You know, guys who used to be playing for the right team, but now have moved on to greener pastures.  

Chase Headley played for the Yankees in that brief Wild Card game, dominated by that Astros pitcher with the rad beard who's name I can't pronounce or spell.  But sorry Chase, you'd have to be a pretty spectacular player to get me to actually root for the Yankees.  But few would be strong enough to move that needle.  Not that it matters anymore.

Edinson Volquez was way more frustrating to watch than enjoyable, so I'll say that I can continue to semi-root for the Royals despite Volquez' presence on the team.  He did pitch in the only one-hitter I have ever seen at a baseball stadium in person, so i guess that's gotta count for something.

Speaking of frustrating, it's tough to beat Will Venable.  At least Volquez was only here for a few years and only played every fifth game or so.  I had to endure Venable for quite a while.  Of course, by the time he moved on, I had finally grown to love him, so I'll say that, while I would be rooting for my home-state Texas Rangers regardless, it'd be especially cool if they won because Will Venable is a pretty decent guy.

Speaking of Texas teams, it turns out that the one that's further south is packed with Padre pitchers, specifically relief pitchers from the 2011 Topps set.  While I don't remember much about Chad Qualls, it's hard to root against fellow baseball card collector Pat Neshek, and Luke Gregerson is probably one of my all-time favorite bullpen guys, so I'll say that they definitely move Houston up a little higher than they would normally be.

I'll be honest, the Adrian Gonzalez and Edinson Volquez cards were taken on an iPhone, not a scanner, because I completely forgot that they were Padres at one point.  At least with Volquez, I've blocked out a bunch of negative memories.  In A-Gone's part, I think it's because I've identified with him as a Dodger so much that I forgot he ever played in San Diego.  

I'll never be able to forget the horrible Andrew Cashner for Anthony Rizzo trade, but I wasn't attached to Rizzo like other Padres, so at the time, it stung less than it does now.  Man, wouldn't that be nice if the Padres had someone who could play first base and hit home runs?  Thanks Cubs.

I had to double check on Clayton Richard, because I'm pretty sure at one point he was signed by the Pirates as well.  Clayton was a solid, if not unexciting pitcher to watch once in a while, though he was slowed by injuries towards the end of his Padres tenure.  He's been alright for the Cubs so far.

While I'm far from a Cubs fan, they have a great team full of young talent.  While nobody would call Chris Denorfia a young player, I'm sure that even fewer would call this fourth outfielder a "talent".  Well, that's a shame because Norf rules.  Here he is, high giving guys that aren't on the Padres anymore either (the aforementioned Headley and Logan Forsythe, currently on the Rays).

After that little exercise, I think my loyalties remain - geographical location leads me to root for the Rangers and Astros, Norf leads me to root for the Cubs, and no amount of goodwill could ever lead me root for the Dodgers.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Heritage High Number Padres

How are you guys digging' High Number Heritage?  Pretty cool, right?

Just kidding, I have no idea.  Well, I mean, I had no idea.  While I still haven't been able to find any in my neck of the woods, I picked up the cheapest Padres team set I could find on eBay, and it came a few days ago.

I mean, just look at that card at the top of this post!  Isn't that awesome?  Forget that the "New Look Padres ™" finished with an even worse record than last year (and obliterated a slightly-above average farm system in the process).  Look at those big names!

Don't wanna be too negative, because at least Matt Kemp had a decent year (.265, 23 HR, 100 RBI), and Wil Myers was good when he was healthy (for those sweet, 60 games).  I guess Justin Upton will fetch a compensation draft pick when he doesn't re-sign with the Padres, so there's a plus, too.

Anyways, on to the rest of the set.  The Padres got the shaft in the original Heritage set, so they made out pretty well in the High Numbers set.  Here's the first page:

Alright, so Will Venable was traded to the Rangers, Leonel Campos only pitched in one inning this year, Brandon Morrow had another Tommy John surgery, and Will Middlebrooks ended the season in Triple-A.  At least we got some big names in James Shields and Wil Myers.  To be honest, the best player for the Padres this season was probably Yangervis Solarte, and down the stretch… it might've been Melvin Upton Jr.  I really hated the Kimbrel/Upton Jr. trade, just because the Padres took on so much contract money, but it turns out that Mel hasn't been… that bad.  Still not a fan of his, but there's a possibility that it's not AJ Preller's worst trade.

Alright, with the exception of Lil Lexi Amarista on the top row and the "New Look" card on the bottom, the other cards are the "high numbered" cards in the High Numbered Heritage set.  Austin Hedges is probably my favorite of the bunch here, though it's most exciting to watch Craig Kimbrel.  

Unfortunately, Chris Denorfia is not included in the HHN set (and has so far, not been included in any Topps sets), and even if he was, it wouldn't be a glorious Padres card.  I think I have a new spot in my heart for a new favorite player, and I think it's gonna be Yan.  I've picked up a few new Solarte cards that I'll be showing soon, but look for more of him in (hopefully) future posts.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Postseason

Alright, so it's been… a little over a month since I last posted here.


Been busy with school and family stuff, nothing bad, just really busy.  The Padres season ended pretty pathetically, so while I might do a post-mortem on it later, I'm looking today at some postseason-type cards.  Or rather, cards of players who are playing in the postseason.

While a lot of cards collectors would have a problem fitting cards of "guys in the postseason" into one post, my collection is so Padres-centered that the "Non-Padre playoff guys" are few and far between.

I really dug the 2013 Topps Update Minis.  I'm a sucker for the 1971 Topps design, and as a 50 card set, it wasn't too difficult to put together.  Out of those 50 cards, only eight are playing in the postseason (though Yu Darvish and Hyun-Jin Ryu are on teams that are in the playoffs, both are injured and not playing, so they're not shown here).

Oops, should've done this post a little sooner.  The Pirates were bounced out of the Wild Card game by the Cubs, so Andrew McCutchen is still in search of that elusive World Series ring.

Troy Tulowitzki is in the playoffs again, but this time, he's not with the Rockies - he's a Blue Jay.  I wasn't sure if he would be healthy enough for the postseason, but sure enough, he's out there grinding away.  The Blue Jays lineup looks like a Murderer's Row, but they're on the brink of elimination tonight against the Rangers.  Let's see how that plays out.

Speaking of Texas, is it still weird to see Prince Fielder in a Rangers uniform for you?  It is for me, but that might just be because I don't get to watch Rangers games, since I'm cable-less and am blacked out from Rangers games on my MLB.tv subscription.  While he was a Tiger here, he's looking to pickup his first World Series ring as a Ranger.  His dad (Cecil), a long time Tiger, has a World Series ring, which he won as a member of the Yankees in 1996.

Ugh, Dodgers.  At least Kershaw lost again in Game 1 before Dodgers took out Ruben Tejada and the Mets chance at a sweep in Game 2.  Apparently Chase Utley has been suspended for Games 3 & 4 (both in New York) for his obviously dirty slide to break up a double play that led to a big inning for LA, but if he appeals, he'll probably still play.  Not that Utley has really done much this year, but still…

Speaking of the Mets, they are the most well represented of the teams in this set, since they have Matt Harvey and David Wright, along with…

Yo.  Yo knows the postseason.  I really thought that the Padres were going to deal Justin Upton to the Mets at the deadline, but I guess they didn't like what they were offering, so New York got Yoenis Cespedes.  Probably a good move for them, as Cespedes has been on fire and Upton has been only above average.  The Mets are the team I'm rooting for from the National League, but I'm much less picky about the American League.

All in all, kind of an interesting look at cards from just two years ago.  While you had to figure that Tulo was going to be traded eventually, it would've been pretty hard to see Prince Fielder getting traded down south, and Cespedes?  He's on his third post-Oakland team (Red Sox and Tigers), but this is still the third time he's seen the postseason in just his fourth year in the league.

Anyways, I'm hoping that I can get some more posts up soon, since I got some scans taken care of during some Sunday naps.  Hope everybody's doin' well.