A blog about baseball cards... and the Padres

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

GWYNNsday Battle Royale

In today's GWYNNsday post, I've grabbed five semi random cards from my Gwynn binder and tossed them into the octagon.  Five cards enter, only one crawls out a bloody, battered mess.

Or something like that.

I'll provide the pictures and a few words, you can provide your opinion and vote on the poll in the top right.  If it catches on, maybe I'll do this more than once.

Let's dig in.
1997 Pinnacle #42
Not a huge fan of the '97 Pinnacle design, but I do kinda like that they included landmarks from each city in small print in the foil.  Seeing "Sea World", "Jack Murphy Stadium", and "Seaport Village", etc. is pretty cool.  And look at those crisp pinstripes!  Man, Tony's rarely looked as good.

Here's the back.  Gotta imagine that bat is hard to use with that fancy cutout.  Weak stats on the back, which aren't a deal breaker for me, but I'm not a huge fan of the back of this one.

1990 Baseball Card Magazine #6
As a kid, I remember buying Beckett a few times, but I never ventured into other baseball card magazines, least of all Baseball Card Magazine.  But I dig their oddball cards.  This one feels like it was cut out of a page, as it's slightly larger than a regular card.  I mean, you wouldn't know by looking at it, but you can tell when you're holding it in a stack.  This is a great photo that I've never seen anywhere, and that it's being used with the 1969 Topps design (the year the Padres joined the majors) is even cooler.

No stats on the back, but an… interesting picture.  Love the pink background.

1985 Drake's Big Hitters
I had actually planned to do a regular old GWYNNsday post using only cards that have these sweet brown and yellow jerseys. There are surprisingly few in my collection (I mean plenty of late 80's brown and orange, but few of the early/mid 80s brown and yellow).  On top of the dirty brown uniform (look at those pants), this one is also an oddball.  Drake's!

I had never looked at the back of this Drake's card until I scanned it today.  It looks identical to Gwynn's '85 Topps card, with the only difference being the Drake's logo in the top right, and instead of having a green background with red print, it's a red background with blue print.

1992 Topps Kids #53
I have surprisingly few Gwynn cards with horizontal pictures.  You know, if you don't count sets that are already set like that.  Topps Kids is not one of those.  Man, Topps Kids was rad.  Props to Panini for what they've done to try to market Triple Play to kids (and it was good in the 90's as well), but Topps Kids ruled.

Back presented without comment, because it's so rad.  Well, I mean besides that comment. 

1994 Mother's Cookies #2
Mother's Cookies cards rule.  While the picture could've been more interesting, they're usually pretty limited, taken around the stadium, no action shots or anything.  Anyways, Mr. Padre is looking pretty regal here.  Need to get me some of those bright orange Franklin wrist bands.

I like the idea of the line for the autograph, but who looks on the backs of cards for autographs?  Still, love seeing the Mother's Cookies logo.  Later on, Keebler bought out Mother's Cookies, and though I love the cookies that those elves make, I didn't like those cards as much.

Well, there you have it: the first five of the GWYNNsday Battle Royale.  Let me know what you think,  at least in the poll, though bloggers love comments too.

Take care!  Eight days until Christmas!

EDIT: I have never done a poll before (I think), and while the poll seems to be operational, from what I can see, it is blue text on a blue background, so the only way to read it is to click a scroll over it, like you were going to cut/copy and paste it somewhere.  Maybe leaving a comment is best.  Tech support?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mission: Accomplished

As we draw nearer to the end of the year, I've been thinking about a few card-related things.  First, about my "Cards of the Year" countdown.  I finished the scans and have everything in order, now I just need to add the words.  Hoping to have that up soon, though it probably won't be until a few days before Christmas.  Secondly, I've been thinking about the goals that I set for myself last year.  Spoiler alert: It's not looking great.  However, when the postman came by yesterday, I found that I had realized the third of my five goals (more on the successes and disappointments in a later post).

The goal in question was to complete a whole page (nine cards) of vintage Jerry Coleman cards.  This is not counting any of the retro-style sets that honor The Colonel, nor the card from his managing days in 1980 (that can't be vintage, right?)

Well, after starting off the year with six, I'm finally up to a nice… uh, "even" nine.  

This is Jerry's 1950 Bowman card.  It is the oldest card of my Coleman collection, and the oldest card I own overall.  The creases seem very noticeable in the scan, but are harder to see with a casual glance.  The main "flaw" (if you can say that there is anything flawed about it) is the cut off edges around the corners.  They're not frayed by time, but most likely a pair of scissors did the dirty work.  This is a smaller, more squared card than most of the Coleman's that I have.  

To be honest, I couldn't care less - this card cost less than two dollars, shipped.

Less than two dollars?  For a vintage Jerry Coleman card that is the oldest card in my collection?  How can I ever justify buying a card for more than two dollars ever again?  How can I ever rip a pack knowing that the (most likely) disappointing contents therein will never live up to this card that I procured from a seller for a fraction of that price?

Anyways, I'll resolve my issues with card prices later, and instead of looking a gift horse in the mouth, will gladly accept this generous offering from the gods of cardboard.  A vintage card of a childhood hero?  I'll take that any day of the week.  You can keep the change.  And your pointed edges.

Monday, December 15, 2014

'Tis The Season

'Tis the season to get cards in the mail!  I've gotten three envelopes from three different bloggers in the past few weeks, and since I've been slow to post recently, I'm going to tie them all together in this post.  After all, I've got some "Cards of the Year" posts to do, and Christmas break is in a week!

First up, I got a beautiful Christmas card from Julie over at A Cracked Bat.  While I'm not much of a greeting card collector, I definitely appreciated the card's contents:

I worked a job at a leaded glass window company a few summers before I got married, and whenever the discussion turned to baseball (we were all sorry Padre fans), the discussion always turned to how much we loved Khalil Greene's hair and then ended with my buddy saying "Brian Giles" in a really thick country accent.  For some reason, whenever I think of Marcus Giles' brother, I think of my buddy Nate.

I can appreciate a fancy relic card as much as the next guy, but Tony Gwynn cards?  Those are right up my alley.  This is a welcome addition to my Gwynn binder, and a great example of being able to make logo-less cards look pretty killer.  From seeing Julie's blog, it seems like these Panin Classics cards came in packs with Tony's likeliness as well, so that is pretty cool.  Not the last we'll see from the set in this post.

Next up is a quartet of cards from Tom over at Waiting 'til Next Year.  This envelope didn't come with a Christmas card, but it actually came with an apology.

I can't find the note anymore, but it said something along the lines of "sorry for dumping these junk wax cards on you."  I'll admit that this pair of cards isn't much to look at, and they were put into the box that I use to distribute Padre cards to my kids.  However, that was only half of the cards he sent.  The other half was more intriguing.

BOOM!  A couple of powerful right-handed pitchers!  Alright, I'll admit that Bob Gibson is probably the bigger name out of these two, but Odrisamer Despaigne has the longest name, so I feel alright pairing them together.  Tom was actually the first one to post cards from the Panin Classics set, and come to think of it, I think he was the one who pointed out that Gwynn was on the wrapper.  Anyways, the ominous red sky above the black and white image of Gibson is pretty rad.  Obviously Gibson was before my time, and I sometimes wonder how older players' skill sets would stack up against today's competition, but I have a feeling that Bob Gibson would still be Bob freaking Gibson.

This is only my second Odrisamer Despaigne card, which is a travesty.  I probably love Odie more than your average 4th starter, but there's just something about him that I find pretty awesome.  His wide array of pitches and lack of power make for a really interesting game, especially when he's on.

The last one I'll post for today was actually the one that came the longest ago.  Jeff, over at Fan-Attic Sports Cards sent over a thick envelope full of Padres goodness, and none of it was recent.  This is not a bad thing.

From the 90s, we have a couple of Padres prospects, Dave Staton and Luis Lopez.  Staton wouldn't do too much with his "Rated Rookie" status, but Lopez had a decent career.  He's shown here in the '94 Score set, of the "Gold Rush" variety.  The scan makes it hard to see that Andy Van Slyke has a cameo, but he's there all right.

This pair of Padres shows the incredible brown and yellow from the '78 Topps set.  I have a few of Jerry Turner's other cards, and all of them show those great sideburns.  I always wonder where these photos were taken where there are Padre players wearing long sleeves under their jerseys, like Gene Tenace's.  I can't imagine it's San Diego.

Jumping ahead to the '00s now, we have some slick looking Leaf cards of Ollie Perez and Ryan Klesko.  When I think of Ollie Perez, I tend to think of a prospect who didn't quite live up to his billing.  He was 8-12 with an ERA of 4.50 during his first two years in the bigs, spent in San Diego, but has revived his career after moving to the bullpen a few years ago.  I'm a little bummed that Klesko's batting helmet obscures his sideburns, but I suppose that Klesko and Turner in the same post might be too much facial hair to handle.

If you noticed the bottom corner of Klesko's card, it says "Passing Through Time"  On the back of this card, it looks like this - the front of a '93 Leaf card.  Nevermind that the best part about the '93 Leaf set is the card backs (simply put: gorgeous), I like this.  Plus, seeing a sideburn-less Klesko is a rare sighting indeed.

Thanks Julie, Tom, and Jeff!  You guys are awesome.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Matt Kemp Is A Padre

"Matt Kemp is a Padre."

How does that sound?  Weird?  Unnatural?  Crazy?

Having Matt on the team brings me mixed emotions.  He is a Dodger.  He has been a member of the team I hate the most for his entire career.  However, he also easily becomes the Padres best hitter and biggest power threat, and (gulp)… the face of the franchise?

Maybe my Netflix history is doing this to me, but when I think of the Padres relationship with the Matt Kemp and the Dodgers, I think of one of the greatest sports movies of all time:

All right, hear me out.  If you haven't seen the movie, 1) WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? and 2) Sorry, this will make even less sense for you than the ones who have seen it.

1. Padres = District 5/The Ducks

 Safe to say that even when District 5's hockey team got Gordon Bombay to coach their team (as a punishment for getting a DWI?), they were a wreck.  Laughingstock of the league, ugly uniforms, no good players.  The Padres have most of those in spades.

2. Dodgers = The Hawks

Evil team, great uniforms, long history of winning, seems like they come from a richer area.  The Hawks embody everything that is wrong with youth sports, with their mantra being "It's not worth winning if you can't win big."  While I guess I'll stop short of calling the Dodgers total jerks (Kershaw seems like a great guy, and Vin Scully wouldn't associate himself with an evil team, right?), in my eyes the Dodgers have always been the Hawks personified.  I know that this is probably an unfair statement, but I can't help how I feel.

Do the Ducks hate the Hawks?  Yes.  Do the Hawks hate the Ducks?  Sort of, I guess, but the relationship is more annoying little brother than "bitter rival".  This fits the Padres/Dodgers relationship to a T.

3. Adam Banks = Matt Kemp

One of the best Hawks, Adam Banks dominates the Pee Wee League on the Hawks until it is discovered that he actually lives in District 5's area.  While he as at first very hesitant to join District 5, he eventually shows up saying "I just want to play hockey."  He is ill received by his new teammates, but then Emilio Estevez works his Disney magic and soon everybody is a cohesive unit.  I'm not sure how Kemp feels about being on the Padres now, but I'd be willing to bet that he'd rather feel wanted in LA than wanted in San Diego.  I'm pretty sure that the Padres are happier about having him on their team than D5 was, so here's hoping that Bud Black can work some magic of his own and beat the Hawks Dodgers on Opening Day.

There are a few other parallels that I might try to draw, but those are the main ones.  I might try again later using Will Venable as Charlie Conway, the guy that everybody likes but isn't actually that good but miraculously comes through at the end.  Maybe Carlos Quentin as Fulton, the guy who hits the puck hard enough to bruise a goalie's hand and is the "enforcer" probably works even better.  Plus hit difficulties skating remind hime of CQ's problems lumbering around the bases.  More than likely though, the Padres have a roster full of Averman's and Carp's.

Speaking of Kemp's supporting cast, a recent envelope from my buddy Jimmy over at Talking S. Mack finally rounded out my 2014 Topps Update Padres set.  I was waiting on these last two:

Troy Patton was what the Padres got from the Orioles in exchange for catcher Nick Hundley.  He's no longer with the Padres, after getting a second (I think?) suspension for drug violation.  Rene Rivera, however, is a good one to get, since he'll be getting the lion's share of the catching duties now that Yasmani Grandal is gone.  He was sent to the Dodgers in the Kemp deal.

All told, there were nine Padres in the Update set (ten, if you count the Yangervis Solarte photo variation out there, which I don't, though I did pick it up).  A motley crew, if ever there was one.  Tyson Ross, the lone remaining All Star on the team, got a card in the set despite not playing in the All Star Game.  Jeff Francoeur only played ten games for San Diego in 2014, but I guess it's kinda cool that he got included.  Seth Smith and Joaquin Beniot are the biggest stars on the team outside of the rotation.  Jace Peterson will be competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster, while Solarte will most likely be the Opening Day third baseman, barring injury or a move outside the organization.  Oh, and don't sleep on Alexi Amarista.  Seriously, watch out for him, he's small, it's happened before.

Glad to finally put the nail in the coffin of the 2014 Update Padres set.  I was probably the only person in the world who was on the look out for that Patton card.

Anyways, welcome to the Padres, Matt.  I'll go ahead and show off my Matt Kemp collection real quick:

Yeah right.  Like that's happening.

Oh, and here's the third card that Jimmy included in the PWE.  This was easily the best one:
Not sure which is weirder, seeing Deno in a M's uniform or the first time that I'll see Kemp with an SD on his hat.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Rounding it Out

Wow, can you believe that we're about to start the second week of December?  In some ways, it seems like it's happened quickly (it doesn't seem like I've had my first graders for almost four months now), and in other ways, it seems like it's been taking forever (seriously, when is baseball season going to start again?).

As the year winds down, I've been reflecting on the cards that were made in 2014.  My first year of blogging, I did a countdown of my favorite cards of the year, and by the second year, I had made four separate lists.  While I don't think that I'll match last year's volume (I've been a little underwhelmed by this year's sets), there were still some goodies out there.

Here are a few cards from this year's Topps Update set that I've been meaning to post for a while.

Yangervis Solarte was my favorite position player Padre by the end of last year.  This had a lot to do with Chris Denorfia being traded, and speaks to the lack of talent that the Padres have swinging the bat, but I still really liked watching him play this year.  While I'm not sure that I'm committed to turning this into a full-rainbow, here are five of the easier parallels to track down, along with the base card.  Topps seemed to develop a crush on Solarte during his time in New York, so along with some autograph and relic cards (as a Yankee), he also got a "photo variation" card.  For a "variation", they seem remarkably similar, but I guess it's kind of cool that a Padre got any special recognition at all.

I already showed the gem of the Denorfia-rainbow that I have committed to a few days ago, but here are a few of the other cards that I have for that one.  There have been surprisingly few Denorfia parallels listed on eBay, but I grabbed all of these for pretty cheap, so it's been okay.  I've since had the black border card delivered as well, and Nick from the Dimebox blog sent me the blue Walmart parallel, so it's just the Target red and pink borders that I have left.

"Pink border cards you say?  Why would anybody want a card with a pink border around it?  What are you, some kind of sissy?"

While I'll agree that the number of border variations on cards has gotten completely out of hand (and is a trend that I don't see going anywhere for a while), when I first heard about pink border cards in last year's sets, I had doubts that a card with a pink border would look very good...

Here is a card that pulls it off pretty well.  Alexi Amarista is a pretty interesting Padre.  Many who are really into advanced metrics hate him, and are frustrated with the amount of playing time that manager Bud Black gives him (and I'll agree, I don't like seeing him in center field), while there are others who are more "regular" fans who love his heart and hustle.  You can probably guess which side I am on.  I mean, how can you even be a Padre fan and still look at sabermetrics?  Having to look at the multitude of ways that the Padres suck would be enough to drive you to drink.  Or at least to be a fan of another team.

Anyways, this is from a home game against the Diamondbacks in September of 2013, when Alexi hit a walkoff single in the 11th inning.  A pretty cool shot, not only showing the emotion of winning the final home game of the season, but also seeing the Arizona catcher in the background slowly trudging off the field.

All of the Denorfia and Solarte cards posted here were bought by me, but the Amarista was a gracious gift from Jeff over at One Man's Junk (Wax).  What a swell guy.

Will any of these cards make it onto a year end list?  If they do, it'll probably just be my own.  Regardless, they were all part of the tapestry that is my 2014 collecting season.

The next "new" set of cards that comes out will be marked 2015?  Are you ready for that?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The George Foster Collection

Today is my son Foster's second birthday!  I'm not sure what we've got planned for today, I think we're debating between going to the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco or going down to Zilker Park in Austin.  Not that he really cares one way or the other, I'm sure he'll be happy to see some cool stuff and eat some cake.

While doing some genealogy a few years ago, we came across an ancestor of mine named Foster Curtis.  My wife and I both like the name and decided to pass it on to our kid.  Since then, I've also accumulated a few cards of players who were named Foster.  Of those, George Foster is the most accomplished, so here are a few Foster cards on Foster's birthday.

Of all of these, his rookie card is still my favorite, but special thanks to Gavin over at Baseball Card Breakdown for the sweet Foster autograph.  That is pretty rad.

Short post today.  As I write this, it is late Friday night and I'm tired.  We just got back from Walmart, doing some birthday/Christmas shopping.  Nothing very exciting, though Foster took the Ninja Turtle action figure that we bought for his birthday to bed with him, so I guess it was exciting for him.

Pretty stoked to see that my favorite cartoon as a kid is something that my own kid enjoys.  Who knows, maybe he'll be interested in these George Foster cards someday as well.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Raising the Bar

I've alluded to it briefly, but after a big dip in card-buying in the month of November, I took a few steps back from my collection and realized that it could stand to be trimmed down a bit.  I guess this is a nice way of saying that I did a card-purge.

Nothing too extreme, mostly stuff out of my Miscellaneous Padres binders, about a couple hundred cards (okay, a few years ago, that would've been a lot, but with all the trades I've been blessed with, it's really just a drop in the bucket).  I mean, I've never been much of a hoarder, definitely not trying to chase down "all" the Padres cards, but I realized that it was time to "raise the bar".

That being said, I began to worry.  Are my expectations for cards going to be too high?  Will I still be able to add cards through trades, or am I doomed to only collect expensive parallel cards of the shiniest variety?

Fortunately, a package from Garvey Cey Russell Lopes proved that while a little more stringent, there are still cards that I need that I want.  And they're not that fancy.

"What?  After all that buildup, the first card he shows is from '93 Topps?  Of a prospect that I've never heard of?  Wow, this guy is full of crap!"  Okay, hear me out.  True, I've never heard of Bengi Grigsby, a 1st round draft pick who never made it past AAA, but check it out!  He's from San Diego State!  My hometown!  Sure, I never took a class there (my brother Tyler will probably eventually graduate from there someday), but seeing that good old Aztec logo on a hat is pretty rad.  Definitely a keeper.

Of course, if "Garvey" is the first name in your blog, you probably have some good Garvey doubles laying around.  Such was the case here.  I've said it before, but kid version of me didn't really like the Diamond King cards.  I wanted action, not art!  But I definitely love 'em now, even if this is from a later set.  Both younger me and present day me appreciate a "probably just trotted around the bases after hitting a home run" photo, especially because it looks like Garv's teammate is about to give him a "good game" pat on the butt.  At least, that's what I imagine is happening.

Regardless of what standards I have for keeping/not keeping cards, Greg Maddux in a Padres uniform always passes the test.  No need to add anymore words to this masterpiece, I'll just let you admire it a little longer.  There.

Do you know who else fits that bill?  Bob Freaking Tewksbury, that's who.  Something about watching him throw a sub-50 mile per hour pitch to a major league batter more than a few times is pretty badass.  He was only with the Padres for one season, but it was 1996, my favorite team ever.  He went 10-10 and ate up 206.2 innings.  Beast.

One area that I trimmed down was my "haven't made it to the majors yet" Padre cards.  They are different from Minor League cards, because they've been photoshopped into Padre uniforms, not wearing the jerseys of their minor league teams.  Most were cut because they weren't with the Padres organization anymore.  I'll be surprised if Max Fried ever makes it, but he was compared to Clayton Kershaw when he was drafted, so here's hoping.  I have more faith that Hunter Renfroe will make it to the bigs, however.  He tore it up in the Arizona Fall League this… uh, fall, but was still slogging through the Texas League (AA) at the end of last season, so he's still a season or so away.

As much as I loved the Grigsby card at the top, this was my favorite card of the package, and it wasn't even close.  Ted Williams began his professional career as a kid out of Hoover High who played on the hometown Pacific Coast League team, the San Diego Padres.  He went on to be one of the greatest hitters of all time, and this is my second card of him in a Padres uniform (the first is from '92 Upper Deck).  This is my first Obak card (I think), and really, this is probably one of my favorite cards right now.

Thanks Jim!  I know that regardless of the arbitrary guidelines that I try to set for the weird things I collect, I will always have great bloggers and readers knock my socks off with great stuff.

Now I just need to find enough binders to keep putting them in.  That box of binders is looking pretty full.