A blog about baseball cards... and the Padres

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Favorite Card(s) of 2018

Hey, long time no see! This blog has been pretty dormant since... uh, well... I guess a lot has happened in the past few years, but mostly, my blog writing time has been chewed up by writing about the Padres on a few different websites (the now defunct PadsProspectus.com, followed up the currently running MadFriars.com).

Anyways, I had some spare time at the tail end of my Christmas break, and since I already finished my Favorite Albums of 2018 list and my Top 30 Padres Prospects list (subscription only, sorry), I figured I'd post my top 10 cards of 2018. I'll also go ahead and mention that P-Town Tom is having a contest related to top cards of 2018, and that was a nice little nudge to get this done too. Nudges are good.

Alright, here we go, countdown style!
No. 10
Franchy Cordero - Topps High Number Heritage #503
I interviewed Franchy a few years ago for Pads Prospectus when he was playing at Double-A San Antonio. Love the guy - super humble dude, big speed and power, glad to see him make it to the bigs. Still got to cut down on his K rate, but damn if he doesn't make the Padres incredibly boring uniforms look good with the 1969 Topps design (which, coincidentally, is the year the Padres joined MLB).

 No. 9
Tony Gwynn - Donruss Retro Card #258 (blue border)
My Tony Gwynn collection currently sits at 792, which I hit towards the end of November. I really thought I'd reach the 800 card milestone by the end of the year, but it wasn't to be (which is just fine). Still, I'm really glad that they're still making cards of Mr. Padre, and I look forward to him being on the next countdown list I make (whenever that happens to be).

No. 8
Austin Hedges - Gypsy Queen #119 (missing backplate)
When I was a catcher in Little League, one of the things I loved was feeling like I looked like a badass when I was wearing all the gear. I'm a sucker for cards that make catchers look as cool as I thought I was when I was ten.

No. 7
Luis Urías - Bowman Prospects #BP57 
I still don't understand what issue of Bowman this card came out of, nor do I know the names of all the parallels I've accumulated here, but man, I like how these cards look on the page. Big Urías fan, as this countdown will show.

No. 6
Luis Urías - Heritage Minor League Edition, Transogram Set #69CC-LU
Anyone who knows my love for minor league cards, Urías, and '91 Fleer will understand why I love these yellow-bordered minor league cards, especially when they include one of my favorite current players (for the record, Urías and Franchy are my current two favorite Padres, with pitcher Joey Lucchesi rounding out the top three).

No. 5
Luis Urías - Onyx Platinum Elite (blue auto)
This is one of three Urías autos that I have, but since one is from last year and the other is still en route from eBay, this one joins the top five of our countdown. I'm not a snob for logos, especially because I don't think that the airbrush jobs that Bowman does look that good.

No. 4
Franchy Cordero - Topps Now #106
This card commemorates the longest homer of the season to date (April 20th). I'm not sure where he ended up at the end of the season, but I think Trevor Story was atop that leader board. In this game, Franchy's bomb was beautiful, but he also made a fielding blunder in center that cost Tyson Ross a no-hitter. The Padres are the only team in the majors without one of those, so you can imagine how we Padres fans felt after that.

No. 3
Luis Urías - Topps Now #658
The highlight of my season for 2018 was when Urías made his debut with the Padres. Though he went hitless in that game, he made a spectacular play at second in the first inning and it was wonderful. That he waited until the Padres were wearing their 1998 throwbacks to record his first hit makes for a cool Topps Now card, and I may be ranking this one too low.

No. 2
Fernando Tatis Jr. - Topps Heritage Minor League Edition, Deckle Edge #20
Like I mentioned earlier, 1969 Topps is kind of a special set to me because those are the first Padres cards (well, in the majors, I have a few of their cards from their early Pacific Coast League days). I also love the Deckle edges from back then, and these are super cool in my opinion. Tatis is a beast and every Padre fan has their fingers crossed that he's a legit superstar because the best shortstops we've had in the last two decades have been Khalil Greene and Everth Cabrera. Extra bonus points for showing him in a San Antonio Missions uniform.

No. 1
Joey Lucchesi - Topps Update, #US-271 (photo variation)
I'm not a big fan of the rookie card that Lucchesi got in this year's Update, but this photo variation looks great (and even though it's techincally an "SP", it's super cheap on eBay). Love the Friday night browns here, along with the post-inning fist bump. I interviewed Lucchesi in San Antonio in 2017 and he's a really cool dude, super likeable. Might not be a huge difference maker, but a solid mid-back rotation guy who can miss a few bats.

Well, there you have it! Thanks for reading, if anyone comes across this. I gotta hit send now and post to Tom's blog before midnight. Y'all take care!

Monday, October 16, 2017

RIP Daniel Webb

While scrolling through Twitter yesterday, I came across a tweet that mentioned the passing of Chicago White Sox reliever Daniel Webb.  At the age of 28, the Paducah, Kentucky native sustained a fatal injury in an ATV accident in Tennessee.

My condolences to his family and the White Sox organization.  Always sad to see a young life cut short, regardless of their occupation or ability.

I probably wouldn't have recognized Webb's name, if it wasn't for the fact that he shared a baseball card with one-time Padre Chris Robinson.  At one point, I made it my quest to acquire as many of these cards as I could, because I was such a huge fan of Robinson's story - a journeyman catcher who spent nine years and 2,365 plate appearances in the minors before getting his shot at the majors.  Though it was just 12 plate appearances in an eight game stretch, he did get a pair of hits, including a big home run the last week of the season in 2013.

Anyways, when I saw that Webb had passed, I thought about the 20 or so cards I have of him and Robinson from the 2014 Heritage set.  While cleaning up my room yesterday (the laundry has gotten out of control), I came across a PWE from Gavin over at Baseball Card Breakdown, which included a handful of great cards (that I'll stretch across three posts, because I'm going to be annoying like that), including this sweet custom of Robinson.

Gavin has made some great custom cards (which were at the heart of the PWE), but the back has the Padrographs logo on it, showing that it's Rod's handiwork.  Here's the post where he showed this card, which was a collaboration with Cards From The Quarry.

Anyways, I'll get to some of the other cards Gavin sent tomorrow, but yeah, I didn't know how much love Webb would get from the card collecting community, so I figured I'd mention him briefly.  RIP, Ryan.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Archi's Archives No.2: 1992 Pinnacle

Look at that!  Two posts in less than 24 hours!  I'm back!

Of course, as I mentioned in my previous post, I have just 86 Archi Cianfrocco cards, so these won't hold me over forever, but they can get me rolling again.  Speaking of getting back in the swing of things, I've noticed that a lot of blogs that I followed during the peak of my activity are now defunct, and I imagine that there are some new ones that I'm not aware of, so let me know in the comments what I should be reading.

Anyways, onto today's card.  I didn't plan on starting off with two cards from the same year, but I scanned this one yesterday at the same time as the '92 Donruss, which was on the same binder page as this one.  I'm using a new laptop than before, and haven't figured out how to align the cards so they're straight, so they'll be just a little bit crooked until I can work that out.

I've said it before (and I guess since I'm writing about Archi, I'll be saying lots of things that I've already said), but '92 Pinnacle is an all-time favorite set for me.  1992-93 was my peak collecting era as a kid, and I loved the black borders and the way the players seemed to jump out of the card.  I dig how the last name is in bold, and when looking at a stack of these, it's cool to see how the colors on the nameplate change according to the team.  If I had to guess I'd say this is a Spring Training picture, judging by the white walls behind him, and most of his cards from '92 with a blue top and white pants don't appear to be taken from a major league stadium.  Archi's listed as an infielder here, as well as a "Rookie Prospect".  Other "Rookie Prospects" from the '92 Pinnacle set include Jim Thome, Moises Alou, Jeff Kent, Cliff Floyd, and Manny Ramirez, among others.

Regardless of team, all the '92 Pinnacle cards had a green nameplate that showed the name and number on the back.  At the bottom of the card, Score had a barcode that spells out the name "Pinnacle" if viewed through a plastic Lenticular card - they were worried about counterfeit cards!  Crazy.  If there was a downside to the cardbacks, it's the lack of space for stats.  I mean, I don't need to see every year's worth of stats, but just one year isn't a lot.  Still, I love the bonus portrait on the back, and love the blurbs even more.  If you have any of these cards, I'd recommend going back and reading them - often times they're full of backhanded compliments or straight up criticisms of the players.  This one is pretty fair to Archi, and even goes as far as to mention his performance in the Mexican winter league.  I'm actually a big Liga Mexicana del Pacífico fan (arriba Mexicali!), and their season starts tomorrow, which I am very exited about.  I'll have to hit up Archi on Twitter and ask him what team he played for, as there is no record of his time south of the border on Baseball Reference.

If you haven't seen it yet, here's a cool commercial for '92 Pinnacle featuring Kirby Puckett, Rickey Henderson, and Brian Harper.  I didn't see this as a kid, as we didn't have cable (didn't then, and don't now, thanks to Netflix, Hulu, and three different baseball-related streaming services), but I still don't think I could've loved this set any more as an eight year old.

And as a bonus, here's a hype video of my favorite LMP (Mexican Winter League) team, Àguilas de Mexicali.  They won the title last year and represented Mexico in the Caribbean Series, though they lost in the one game finale.  If you're a baseball junkie like me, you're probably content to devour the MLB playoffs right now, but LMP and the Caribbean Series will provide your baseball fix almost all the way up until Spring Training.  Subscriptions can be purchased at LMP.tv for less than $30 USD.  Arriba béisbol!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Archi's Archives No.1: 1992 Donruss "The Rookies"

I started this blog in spring of 2012, and made 737 posts the first three years.  Not too shabby, if you ask me.  In the following three years, there's been a pretty precipitous drop off - barely over 100 posts, including just one in 2017.  

In high school, I remember picking up the newest Bad Religion album and wondering at what age I'd still be listening to punk rock.  It was hard to imagine sitting in an old folks home asking my grandchildren to turn up  "We're Only Gonna Die" while gumming down my 4:00 dinner.  And if I wasn't going to listen to it forever, when was it going to stop?  When I got married?  When I had kids?  When I was "old"?

Well, I'm married with three kids, and at 33 years old, I don't listen to much punk rock anymore.  My musical tastes have expanded, and while going to a Rocket From The Crypt show in San Antonio was one of the highlights of the year, I'm not the punk rocker I was in my teens.  So too, I've seen my  focus shift from baseball cards to other stuff.

I still like baseball cards, though, and I still like writing.  While I still have a ton of cards worth writing about, right now I'm in an Archi Cianfrocco phase.  Not that I'm collecting more of his cards - by my count, I have all of them.  But I had kind of a tough week at school, and looking at my Cianfrocco binder kind of put me at ease.  

So, in an effort to get back in the swing of things on the blog (or at least, you know, get more than one post done this year), I think I'll try to post a few Archi cards in the next little bit.

Today's sample isn't my favorite Archi card by any stretch, but as a kid who ripped more than a few packs of '92 Donruss, with it's blue top and bottom borders, I kind of like seeing the green edges shown in "The Rookies" set.  Donruss and Leaf (owned by the same company) were the only sets from that year that marked Cianfrocco as a third baseman, as most of the rest have him listed as a "1B-3B".

The thing I remember most from the backs of the '92 Donruss set are the full, given names printed on the back.  In case you were wondering what "Archi" is short for, we find out here.  I like the tidbit about not being included on the 40-man roster in Spring Training of '92, which makes his April 8th debut impressive.  He's card no.24 in the set, sandwiched between Mike Christopher and Mark Clark (they're in alphabetical order).  While it's not an "official" stat on the back of the card, I appreciate seeing that his minor league OBP in 1991 was fifth in the league.

I know I've shown plenty of Archi Cianfrocco cards in the past - I have 86 of them, including parallels, oddballs, and in-person autographs - but for the time being, I'll probably stick to Archi cards for a little while, just to get back into the groove of "card" blogging.  I have a handful of other cool Padres cards I've picked up or had sent to me this past year, but when it comes to the cards that get me most excited, well, it's these.

Monday, June 5, 2017

I Love Archives... Sometimes

So, it's been a long time since I posted here.  I've been writing a lot though, mostly preparing to launch a new Padres website (that actually launches today).  That'll be a fun project, feel free to check it out.

Anyways, even though I haven't been posting, I've still been picking up a few cards here and there, though it's slowed down quite a bit since my more-frequent card-blogging days.  Being out of the loop, I was surprised to find out that this year's Archives set included the '92 Topps design!  While '91 Fleer was the first pack I ever ripped, '92 Topps was the set that got me into collecting - it was the set that my 1st grade teacher, Mr. Seipel, passed out to us.  Totally got me hooked, and I've been a sucker for this design ever since.

I'm planning on collecting all 100 cards in the set with the '92 design (along with the other Padres in the set), and even though it's probably cheaper to just wait a bit and then get them on eBay, I couldn't help but pick up a blaster when I saw them on Saturday at Walmart.

This is my favorite card of 2017 so far, and one that I was really hoping to pull.  I'm usually not a big fan of horizontal cards, but this looks so good (as do the other horizontal cards with this design).  The only thing that would've made it better was if they had Wil Myers in the Padres brown and gold Friday night home uniforms, but oh well.  In the original '92 set, they were wearing blue, so I guess it works well enough here.  I'd like to snag a few parallels of this one if I can find them cheap enough

While the '92 cards made up just under a third of the cards in the blaster, I'm going to dedicate this post to the '92s and the inserts.  The other ones didn't do much for me, and I didn't pull any of the other Padres.  Here are the three former players I pulled with the '92 design.  Love the Roberto Clemente card, and Paul Konerko is one of my all-time favorite players, so it was rad to pull that one as well.

I wasn't blown away by any of the inserts (more on those later), but I really dug these.  The horizontal card is the base card, and the one on the right is the photo variation SP.  As I was writing this, I got an offer for it on eBay, so now the blaster was free.  Nice!  I got to see Alex Bregman when he played for the Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros Double-A affiliate), so it's cool to see him be a part of the best team in baseball.  I really dig those orange uniforms, too.

Speaking of horizontal cards, here's a few more.  Sharp, sharp, sharp.

Here's the rest of the '92s.  I dig seeing the bats fly onto the border in the Turner and Desmond cards.

Ah, the aforementioned inserts.  If anybody is interested in these, let me know.  I really dig the coins, but unfortunately there's no Padres.  

Just for nostalgia, here's a few cards from the '92 Topps Padres team set, including the Sheffield from the Traded set.  The gold cards were the best, very cool to see that they're included in this year's Archives set as well, although they seem super short printed.

And here's a few of my favorite non-Padre cards from the '92 set.  The Ripken especially is an all time piece of cardboard, in my humble opinion.

Anyways, it feels good to do even just a little card-blogging.  I know that there are those who don't like Archives (the cardstock on these '92s is a little disappointing, and there's only a handful of Padres), but when they have a design I like, I can really get into the set.  I started blogging right around the release of the 2013 Archives set and put together the 50 cards with the '71 design, one of my first and most fun collecting mini-projects.

Anyways, happy Monday to my long lost card-blogging friends - I haven't forgot about you completely.  If you're active on Twitter, feel free to follow me at @MarcusSDTX.

Friday, October 21, 2016

My New Obssesion

Is everybody enjoying some playoff baseball?  Pretty good, competitive series so far, right?

To be completely honest, I haven't really gotten into it much.  I'm a cord-cutter, so with the AtBat app and my grandma's cable info, I've been able to watch a handful of American League games, but none of the National League side.  Most of the interesting storylines (at least for me) have been on the NL side, so not being able to follow it outside of Twitter has been pretty underwhelming for me.

But I haven't really minded.  In fact, I've been watching more baseball than usual.

A few weeks ago, I caught preseason game between some Liga Mexicana del Pacifico teams; Las Águilas de Mexicali and Los Naranjeros de Hermosillo.  They played at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock, and despite knowing almost none of the players (save Xavier Paul, who was playing for Mexicali), I had a blast.

Normally, even in minor league games, I'm aware of who the top prospects are, and part of me is excited to watch them so that maybe, just maybe, I can say that when they make it to the majors, "I remember them when..."

This is not the case in the Mexican winter league.  There's a good variety of former major leaguers, career Mexican leaguers, and up and coming players that just might make it big.  It's pretty fun not knowing much about any of the teams and players and learning as I go.  

I was pretty bummed to find out that there are no Liga Mexicana del Pacifico baseball cards.  SO, I made a few on the Just Rookies app.  I've designed a few but never purchased and printed them.  Don't know if I'll pull the trigger on any of these, but they were fun to make.  Luis Juárez is my favorite player.  Even though Mexicali lost the game I saw, he was fun to watch, and he was named the first Player of the Week for the season.  I also found a picture of their bat guy, which ties in nicely to the current playoff scenario.

Yuniesky Betancourt is one of the former MLBers on the Águilas, though he has been pretty bad in the games that I've watched.  Ramón Ríos has been one of the better hitters for the team as well.

Ramón Urías is the older brother of one of the Padres top prospects, Luis Urías.  It's been cool to listen to them talk about how well Luis did this year.  The announcers definitely keep the viewers up to date on the Mexican players in the major leagues.  They are big fans of Adrián González.  Chris Roberson is the Águilas leadoff man and centerfielder.  He probably has the most pure talent of anyone on the squad, though his stint in the majors was a short 72 plate appearances. 

Between the chance to practice my Spanish - at one time I was completely fluent, but I've gotten rusty - and learning a new league, it's been really fun to watch.  I've only missed a game or two, but I get updates sent directly to my phone, and have live-tweeted the games a few times - though none of my Twitter followers seem particularly interested.

Anyways, there's a few players on the Águilas that had cards made on other (MLB) teams that I'll be trying to track down:

Yuniesky Betancourt - Mariners, Royals, Brewers
Xavier Paul - Pirates, Reds, Dodgers
Chris Roberson - Phillies
Welington Dotel - Mariners
Xorge Carrillo - Mets
Onelki Garcia - Dodgers
Fautino de los Santos - A's
Jake Sanchez - A's
Edgar Osuna - Braves

Most of them only had a cup of coffee in the majors, or just showed up in Bowman releases as prospects.  I'll probably do a Just Commons run to see what they have there, but I'll hold off until later in the season.

Anybody else a fan of the winter leagues?  For what it's worth, I am extremely satisfied with the LMP's streaming service (though it's not nearly as professional as MLB's), and it only cost $499 for the season.

Wait, that's in pesos.  It costs $21 for the entire season's worth of games (October til January).

I love it.  I'll try to catch a few World Series games because it's hard to top the World Series, but I'm not sure that my fandom of the LMP is a fad.  It's good stuff.

Monday, October 17, 2016


How's everyone enjoying the postseason?  I really haven't followed too much of it, other than just to have something to write about for ROBaseball.  This is mostly due to the fact that I wasn't super interested in any of the American League teams (I was okay with any team going to the World Series besides the Red Sox), and the National Leage side of the playoffs have been mostly blacked out on MLB.tv.  I was surprised that the Rangers made an early exit, since I picked them to win the pennant.  Don't have many cards of current Rangers players, but I have this one, from this year's Archives set.  I really like these cards, and would consider putting the set together if they weren't so expensive.

I pulled two from a blaster of Archives, and this was the other one.  Andrew Miller has been a beast during the playoffs, and is one of the reasons I'd love to see Cleveland win it all.  Sure, this was from his time with New York, but still a good one to have.  In fact, I was able to watch him pitch in person this year when he was still a Yankee.  The only reason I remember is because it ended this way:

Yep, Melvin Upton Jr. walkoff.  I was hoping that he'd be able to do something similar in the playoffs, but he has struggled mightily since becoming a Blue Jay.  Still, while there's some really likeable guys on the Indians, if Toronto is somehow able to come back from a two-game deficit, I'd be able to root for them pretty easily.

I had meant to scan the front of this card as well, but this is a recent pickup - the mini version of Melvin's 2016 High Number Heritage card, numbered 3/100.  I still need to get the team set for the Padres, but I'm not in a huge rush to pick up the four Friars they have - Melvin, Alexei Ramirez, Jabari Blash, and Jon Jay.  I know the Padres were bad this year, but Alexei was literally one of the worst players in baseball last year (-2.4 WAR in just one season is horrifically bad), and Blash and Jay basically contributed nothing (though Jay's lack of production was due to injury).  I'd probably be more interested if they had... I dunno, players like Ryan Buchter or Ryan Schimpf.  Yeah, if you have heard of either of those, you win a prize.

Anyways, just a quick little blurb from me today.  Like I said, I've been writing at ROBaseball a bit, and that with work and the family has kept me busy.  I've also been writing a bunch of Mexican winter league baseball.  If you're a baseball junkie like me, check out la Liga Mexicana del Pacifico.  Probably a little tough if you're an east coast guy, since most, if not all teams play in the Pacific & Mountain times, but it's only $21 for a whole season subscription (each team plays 68 games).

Take care.  Be excellent to each other.