A blog about baseball cards... and the Padres

Monday, December 21, 2015

Top Five Khalil's!

When does Christmas break start?  Is it when you get out of school on Friday, or is it on Monday, which is the first day that you would normally be in school but you aren't because it's vacation time?  Eh, I guess either way you slice it, I'm officially on Christmas break (or Winter break, for those of you who don't live in Texas).

I'm in the process of packing up, getting ready for our move, so instead of showing any recent "gets," here's a draft from a long time ago that I'm finally getting around to finishing.

The Padres are not known for having great shortstops in their history.  I mean, I guess other than closers, they're not known for having great players at any position.  But shortstop has been particularly weak.  Khalil Greene ended his 5 plus years as a Padre with 84 homers, 328 RBI, and a .245/.302/.422 slash line.  Far from great, but his 27 HR 97 RBI season in 2007 was the best offensive season of a Padres shortstop, and while he would occasionally make a bad throw here or there, he also made some incredible plays with his glove.

While he didn't play with the Padres as long as Gerry Templeton or get the awards like Ozzie Smith, I'd put Khalil in the top 3 Padres SS, and I think you can make a case for him to be number 1, depending on the criteria (obviously, with total numbers as a Padre, it'd be Templeton, though Ozzie had the HOF career).

Anyways, here are my top five favorite Khalil Greene cards.

#5 - 2005 Topps #256
I think that the 2005 Topps design has a little too much going on here, with the doubling up of the player name (last name on the top, full name on the right side) and the team name (logo on the bottom, team name on the left).  Still, it's got the Rookie Cup logo, and I really like the photo they used here.  And while I'm not a fan of the "sand" color that the Padres used during the early 00s, I think the way Topps used the colors around the border is pretty good.

#4 - 2008 Allen & Ginter #74
Sure I guess this looks kinda like a high school yearbook photo, but I think this is about as close to a smile as I've ever seen from Khalil.  Dude was always very serious.

#3 - 2003 Topps Traded #T164
Did I just mention Serious Khalil?  Yeah, I love me some Serious Khalil.  Plus, I kinda dig the blue borders of 2003 Topps, and I'm pretty sure this is the only card I have from the 2003 Traded set.

#2 - 2003 Bowman Heritage #170
I'll admit that I almost put the Topps Traded card at number two, but what's better than a photo of Serious Khalil?  The answer is two photos of Serious Khalil.

#1 - 2005 Topps Gallery #43
Of all the weird, short lived, off shoot brands that Topps has put out over the years, I think that Topps Gallery has been one of the best looking.  Thick but not too thick card stock, overly glossy without looking gaudy, the Gallery cards looked like real art, the kind that you'd frame, not the kind that was drawn on a napkin.  One of the regrets I have from my Little League days is that I never wore eye black, so I never got to look as cool as Khalil Greene (although I had been out of Little League for almost a decade by the time Khalil made his MLB debut).

I think one of the reasons that Padres fans loved Khalil Greene so much is that they saw so much of themselves in him.  He was capable of some great things and always seemed to put in max effort, but then he'd also shoot himself in the foot by breaking his hand when he punched a wall after striking out.  Always on the cusp of greatness, but still falling short.  If there ever was a player that embodied the Padres as a franchise, it was probably Khalil Greene.

Here's a few Khalil highlights.  Hope everyone is having a great holiday break, or that you'll get a day off sometime if you're one of those types of people who doesn't get a two week break at the end of the year.

Friday, December 18, 2015

My Yangervis Solarte Cards


So, three posts ago, or *checks calendar* uh… two months ago, I mentioned that I would show off some Yangervis Solarte cards on this here blog.  Man, I am SO sorry to have kept you guys waiting for so long.  I apologize for the weeks of blogroll refreshing, only to be let down yet again by my absence.

Well, the wait is finally over!  After reading this post, you'll be able to resume your daily work and hygiene routines that you've been neglecting for too long.

Anyways, enough sarcasm, onto an exciting post as to why Yangervis Solarte is my favorite current player.  Yeah, you read that right, no jokes, I'm drawn to Yan.

I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that the (probably) only Archi Cianfrocco super collector's favorite current player also is a utility player (Solarte mostly played third last year, but spent a little time at all the infield positions, minus pitcher and catcher) with a name that's difficult to pronounce (Yawn-hair-viss So-lar-tay).  Plus, he's had a few clutch knocks, has made some pretty gritty plays, and he doesn't get cheated on any swings, he legitimately seems like he's swinging as hard as he can at everything.  He also seems to be having the most fun of anyone on the Padres, which is probably hard to do, since they suck.

Well, enough rambling, onto the cards.  One of my favorite Solarte cards is this minor league edition at the top.  The Round Rock Express are the closest baseball team (MLB or MiLB) to my home, so I go to a game or two a year.  I don't remember seeing Solarte there, but it was cool leafing through my minor league binder and seeing him after the trade that brought him to San Diego was finalized.

Solarte was traded to the Padres from the Yankees in 2014.  Chase Headley was still having delusions that he could regain his 2012 form, when he led the National League in RBI, and was asking for big money to resign in San Diego, so he was shipped off to New York in exchange for a journeyman minor leaguer who had gotten off to a hot start in 2014, but had started cooling down.

I think I got it in my head that there was no way Solarte would be able to earn a spot in 2014 Topps Update, so I resigned myself to pick up some cards of him as a Yankee from 2014 Donruss.  I actually dig these, despite the obvious lack of logos, and I decided to pick up some of the parallels as well.  I don't know if there are more of these, but I'm fine stopping here.

Did I say I didn't think he'd make the Topps Update checklist?  Well, I was wrong about that.  Topps surprised me that year and blessed us with this magnificent card of the Yan Man.  Nobody calls him that, I think.  I'll probably always have a soft spot in my heart for 2014 Topps, because despite one of the worst Topps designs in recent memory, many of the Padres cards show the #19 patch over the heart (shown on this card), and the star "JC" patch on the right shoulder (hard to see here).  RIP Tony Gwynn and Jerry Coleman.

When you're a collector of a player that nobody really cares about, you're able to snag fancy parallels at a pretty decent rate.  Here are a whole bunch of 2014 Topps Solarte's, including a photo variation, some serial numbered cards, and even some Topps Chrome cards.  I dunno if those were in the regular set or the retail set that came in a "megabox", but I don't care, they're mine now.

Solarte was ALSO included in the 2014 Heritage High Number set, where we're able to see even more plainly the glory of the #19 patch and the star JC patch.  Love it.  I was bummed to see that despite his awesomeness, Yan was left off the 2015 Heritage checklist, but he still got a card when he was included in the High Number set again.  I'll take it.

Lastly, we'll move on to what is easily one of my favorite cards of 2015, his Topps flagship card from Series 2.  I guess I can add 2015 Topps to the "soft spot in my heart" set, since the patches are still there (at least for the cards in Series 1 and 2).  Topps photos in flagship sometimes have the tendency to feel a little "samey" after a while, but this is definitely a unique shot.  Love it.

Yellow is probably the worst color of printing plate to get, but I still really dig this.  I contemplated putting together the rainbow for this card as well, but I dunno, I haven't really been feeling it lately.  To be honest, I'm getting really into building my record collection, and man, those are WAY more pricey than baseball cards, even fancy ones like this one.  Maybe once we move into our new house, I'll find a way to pick up a few more Solarte parallels.

I say that Yan is my favorite Padre, but I still feel a little guilty for breaking up with Andrew Cashner.  I'm sorry dude, but I've moved on.  I still flirt with the idea of being a huge Wil Myers fan, because he's a young, exciting player, and to be honest, if he hadn't gotten hurt a few weeks into the season, maybe I would be.  In the end, it just feels right.

Long live Yangervis!  Long live Solarte!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Happy December!

Well, it's the middle of December, and I'm posting for the first time this month.  Woof.

Yep, it's been a while since I last posted, and even longer since I was writing even semi-frequently, but things have been chugging along at a good clip in the "real life" column.

Besides celebrating my oldest son's third birthday, counting down the days until the two week break, and enjoying getting into the Christmas spirit, we are currently in the process of becoming first-time home buyers!

We weren't really expecting it, but after going to a drive-in movie in a town about a half hour north of us, my wife decided to take a look at the house prices in the area, and we found a house that had been on the market for less than a week that we really liked.  In some ways, it's been a whirlwind process, but in others, it seems to be still dragging on at a snails pace.  But, the expectation is that we'll have the keys within the week, so we can begin a few not-too-difficult renovations and be in a little after New Years.

It's been a little rainy and gloomy here in central Texas recently, but here was a picture we took of the house just before Thanksgiving break.  It's in a city of about 7,000 called Gatesville.  I already checked - no MLB players have been born or raised in Gatesville, though there's been a few NFLers.

The activities of house-buying and house-packing, combined with the daily rigors of staying on top of work, family, and church responsibilities have really limited my blogging as of late.  That, plus actively trying to save not spend as much have put me on a card-buying hiatus.  While I'm still perusing the blogosphere now and then, it's on the back burner for now.

I can't have a whole post about just non-baseball card-stuff, so here's Phil Plantier's "Cyberstats" card from 1995 Topps, complete with a Tony Gwynn cameo.  This is a pretty rad card.

Let's see, is there anything else I wanna write about before signing off?  Oh!  Did y'all see that the Padres have some new uniforms?  I know that with a team that has as much of an identity crisis as the Padres, a uniform change really can't be "news", but I LOVE the return to brown.

They'll be wearing the brown uniforms (complete with brown and yellow hats) on Friday home games. These look sweet.  They also added a new "Navy camo" to their repertoire, which will be worn on the majority of Sunday home games.  While there is still a lot of blue in the rest of the Padres uniforms, I think that these are a start in the right direction - hopefully the brown will be more prevalent in forthcoming designs.

Oh, and Zack Grienke signed with the Diamondbacks for 206 million dollars.  That is an insane amount of money.  I think I read somewhere that it's possible that he makes a million dollars a start this upcoming season (or maybe it was over the lifetime of the contract).  Regardless, if this is true, it would mean that he makes enough to pay off our house (we will be buying it for $77,000) after pitching less than an inning.

Wow.

Oh, like I said, we'll be moving in sometime after New Years, and we'll get our mail forwarded to our new address, but I'll be sure to send a mass email to the people I've traded with so you can continue to send me those worthless Padre cards that come across your path.

Have a great Monday!


Cameo - Word Up

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

Updates


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.