A blog about baseball cards... and the Padres

Monday, December 31, 2012

Best of 2012, part 2

Well, it's just about the end of the year, and here's the last part of my "Best of" list.  Even though I say "best", I suppose that I mean "favorite", since... well, it's all subjective.  This will cover all of the cards that I have that weren't in the Topps flagship set, as well as a few other personal "bests" of the year that was 2012.

Anyways, onto the cards...

10. Hunter Pence, Topps Archives - The 1971 subset of this year's Archives were awesome.  Those 50 cards were the only ones that I collected from the set, and this Hunter Pence was the last one that I needed.  Even though there weren't many great photos, I still love that black-bordered design, and Pence's pose makes me wonder what happened before the picture was snapped.

9. Holland's Gem Evens the Series, Topps Heritage - Seeing most of the World Series cards from this set is a little depressing to me, since I was rooting hard for the Rangers.  Still, any card that captures Derek's horrible mustache is awesome in my book.  That was a great game.

8. Mike Napoli, Topps Archives (Deckle Edge) - I love these deckle edge designs, the blue autographs look cool against the black and white photo.  Napoli was my favorite Ranger, after hopping on board the bandwagon last year.  Now that Hamilton, Young, and Napoli are gone, that title might go to either Kinsler or Andrus, although Craig Gentry might sneak in there if he gets more playing time.

7. Elvis Andrus, Topps Heritage - Ok, ok, last Ranger of the countdown.  How can you not like the cloudy sky in the background with Andrus looking hopefully towards the future (this is the exact same photo used in the Allen & Ginter set this year).  Did he think they'd finish behind the A's at the beginning of the season?

6. J.P. Arencibia, Topps Heritage - Last Heritage of the countdown.  The All-Star Rookie trophy looks awesome here, and the blue border really compliments the background, as well as JP-A's uniform.  For some reason, the white gloves make this card look nice and tidy.

5. Cal Ripken Jr, Topps Archives - This is the youngest that I have ever seen Cal look on a card.  By the time I started following baseball, he was already getting pretty close to taking Gerhig's record, so he wasn't a young buck anymore.  Surprised by how good the orange in the uniform looks with the light green background.

4. Cal Ripken Jr, Gypsy Queen - Spoiler alert... three cards on this countdown are of retired players.  Not sure how much I like the amount of retired players in some of these sets, but with guys like Ripken, I have no problem at all.  Not all of the cards in the GQ set looked that great, but this is a great example of them getting it right.

3. Mike Trout, Triple A Baseball (Pacific Coast League) - This came from a set that I bought at a Round Rock Express game during the season.  I've since broken the set up (but the Padres in the Padres Binder, included others in various trades), but I made sure to hold on to this one.  Definitely seems to capture the hustle that he's become known for in the majors.

2. Cory Spangenberg, Topps Pro Debut - I'm as big a fan of Spangenberg's as I can be of a prospect who is still a ways from being in the majors.  My brother and I got Cory's autograph during Spring Training, as I've mentioned before.  Really like the look of this card, and a good action shot of an unfamiliar uniform (Fort Wayne Tin Caps) get this Padres prospect high on my list.

1. Look around you (well, not around the room, but around at this page).  What team did you think was going to be featured in the top spot?  Granted, the Padres are going through a pretty dry spell right now, so the current group of guys weren't going to do a whole lot in this countdown (no current players were even featured in the Topps Archives set).  Not only did Tony show up in this year's Allen & Ginter set, but he's also sporting the yellow and brown!  Easily my favorite card that came out this year.

Well, there you have it, my favorite cards that came out in 2012.  I know, I know, another "best of" list with Cory Spangenberg on it, right?  So many of those in the blogosphere.  You'll notice an absence of any cards from Bowman, because that was a pretty boring set, even though the "Ice" parallels seemed kinda cool at one point in time.  Only two Padres in the base set is pretty weak.

Other personal "Bests" of the year:

1. Best baseball game that I went to: July 19th, Padres v. Astros
Edinson Volquez threw a complete game one-hitter, allowing only an infield hit in the fourth, as the Padres won 1-0.  This was also the only major league game that I went to, and most of the time spent at Round Rock Express games was spent chasing my daughter around, so this kind of wins by default.  Plus, my dad and I had left field seats, which are my favorite seats (that we can afford) in Petco Park.

2. Best addition to the family: Foster William
Another win-by-default, I suppose.  This bundle of grunts and screams that arrived on December 6th  narrowly edges the addition of fifteen pounds or so that I didn't have at an earlier junction in the year.  Keep on winnin', kid.

3. Best movie that I saw: two way tie between Batman and Moonrise Kingdom
They are kind of on completely opposite ends of the spectrum;  a comic book action movie and a sweet, quirky film on young love.  Both were good.  Granted, there are a few that I haven't seen yet that I'll be Redboxing at some point (Skyfall, Jack Reacher), but those are my picks for now.

4. Best album that I bought this year: Handwritten by The Gaslight Anthem
In their fourth album, they haven't been able to top their sophomore effort, The '59 Sound, but this is still a very good effort from this New Jersey group.  "Here Comes My Man", and "Too Much Blood", and "Howl" are all great tracks, while "45" is my song of the year.  If you've never heard of them, you should check it out.  Honorable mention to Divine Fits' A Thing Called Divine Fits and Limbeck's single Already Gone.

5. Best Padres moment of the year: July 14, Padres beat Dodgers 7-6
This game featured something that I've never seen before: a virtual double-steal of home.  With the Padres down by one in the top of the 9th, Everth Cabrera (your 2012 NL Stolen Base Champ) timed Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen perfectly and stole home as he was kicking dirt around on the mound.  When Jansen looked up, he saw how close E-Cab was to scoring and fired an erratic throw over the head of the catcher, A.J. Ellis.  Despite being unable to catch the throw, Ellis put down a "tag" of Cabrera and he was called "out" by the umpire.  When they (runner, catcher, umpire) realize that the ball has gone All The Way To The Backstop, he's called safe, and Ellis goes running after the ball.  Why did he go running after the ball?  Because Will Venable, who had been on second, had rounded third and was heading for home.  Jansen, still stunned by giving up the tying run, realizes this too late and loses the footrace to home plate, allowing Venable to score the go ahead run.  All-Star Huston Street came in and retired the side to record his 14th save.  To see the video highlight, click here.

Well, this is my 199th post on this blog!  Thanks to everybody who takes the time to read this, it's been fun for me to write!  Here's to 200 and beyond in 2013!

Friday, December 28, 2012

More Cards from GCRL

Well, even though my Christmas Day was cardboard-free, I've been doing pretty well with getting padded envelopes through the mail in the past few days.

Yesterday, I got another package from Jim, proprietor of Garvey Cey Russell Lopes.  He sent me a pretty good little stack of Topps cards from the early '00s, with some lesser known Padres in the mix (I know, I know - were there any "known" Padres besides Gwynn and Hoffman during that time?  Probably not, but these were "lesser known" even for me).  They'll be getting their day on the blog down the road.  For now, just the highlights...

These were my favorites from the Topps pile, even though I'm usually not a fan of these sets in general.

Thought that horribly obvious airbrushing was a thing of the past?  Take a look at that Jason Bay card and think again.  My family is visiting from San Diego, and my dad thought that it was supposed to be some sort of "painted look".  Pretty sure it wasn't intentional.

I thought it was cool that Jim sent this Grady Little card.  I've mentioned that I really like cards with players and their kids on them, but this is the first manager/kid combo that I've acquired.  This one is even serial numbered out of 2003, for what it's worth.

Lastly, Khalil Greene's rookie card, which shoots up into my list of favorite KG cards.  Why so serious Khalil?

The best part of the trade by far were some oddball-types of Padres from across the years.  At first glance, I didn't think that these were all from the same set, since the design for each is so different looking.  However, they have the same feel and finish, so I knew they were "together".  

Flipping them over on the back, I saw that they were produced by Carl's Jr. to celebrate the Friars 35th anniversary.  If you squint enough, you can spot the Sycuan logo embedded in the 35th anniversary logo, which is an Indian casino in the SD area.

Doing some research, these came out in 2003, and were a set of 13.  I'm guessing there was some voting about the best Padres from each position, since there's eight position players, four pitchers (two starters and two relievers) and a manager in the set.  With the four cards that Jim sent me, I'm 31% of the way there.  These are pretty cool, even though I prefer In-N-Out to Carl's Jr. everyday of the week.

Anyways, thanks for the great cards, Jim!  Lots of good stuff to add to the binders here.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ugly Repacks

In the craziness of the "Day Before Christmas" shopping, I was out and about grabbing some goodies to stuff into stockings.  At the Dollar Tree (which is the king of all dollar stores, if that is saying anything), I found some plastic wrapped cards that were labeled "Multi-Sport".  This is usually enough to deter me from buying, because the odds of getting Padres are so much smaller when you include basketball and football into the equation.

Still, I knew that there wouldn't be any cards under the tree for me this year, so I plopped down two bucks and got two 25 card packs.  To be honest, there was a lot of crap.  However, there were some gems in there as well.  Well, "gems" might be stretching it, but there's room for a little "ugly" in the binder now and then.

This may be one of my favorite baseball card images of all time.  The ad for Shoney's Restaurant on the outfield wall and the scoreboard with Gill's info on it give it character enough.  But the crazy eyes and psycho smile to go along with the fielding stance are what puts this card over the top.  And, in case you've been wondering why no major league teams have purple and green colors, well, now you know.

I found out that there were two Chris Gill's on baseball-reference.com.  The one pictured above is a San Diego-born second baseman who was in the Reds farm system for four years ('89-'91, '93).  This card is from 1990, his second year in the minors, when he batted .251.  He topped out at AA Chattanooga, where he played one game, going 0 for 2 with a hit by pitch.  For some reason, he doesn't have any stats for 1992 or 1994, not sure why.  It looks like after he was cut from the Reds, he tried to make a comeback in an independent league, but he only played four games in two years.  Not sure about the story behind that, but sounds like it could be interesting.  Still, a great piece of cardboard.

Also in the repacks were a few Padres that haven't made their way into my binders yet (well, Kruk is a newcomer, due to a trade that I posted yesterday).  It's not for lack of obtaining the cards.  I've gotten plenty of Klesko's and Kruk's in trade packages before, but I'm just not a fan of either of them, and they go into the box of cards that I pass out to my students.  

Maybe it was Klesko's dorky sideburns or the fact that he looks like "Biff" from Back to the Future.  Maybe Tony Gwynn has already laid claim to the only spot in my heart for "large and in charge outfielders".

Whatever it is, these cards won me over.  Ryan's sideburns are too much for me, but I like the orange and blue backdrop, even though I realize it's a little harsh on the eyes.  The Kruk card looks blurry, but it's not my camera's fault - it's got a hazy photo of Randy Johnson's biggest fan on this 2005 Donruss Greats.  Not sure why, but the sepia tone photo and the light blue border really work for me.

There were also a few other cards that I decided to keep, while the rest ended up in the trade box/trash. Oddball Nolan Ryan cards are always cool in my book.  And Brian Harper cards are a random part of my collection that I really enjoy.  This is a pretty good one.  Not a huge fan of 1991 Bowman, but I like the minimalistic approach, focusing on the picture.  Baseball cards are supposed to be pictures anyways, right?

Well, I don't make my way into Dollar Tree unless I'm picking up something cheap for my classroom or, apparently, stocking stuffers, but these pickups weren't half bad.  Not as great as some other Christmas acquisitions on the blogosphere, but still, worth the two bucks.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Trade from the Hot Corner

I love finding new blogs out there.  For every great blog that I read frequently, there was once a humble beginning.  It all had to start somewhere.

I forget how I stumbled across Hot Corner Cards, but I'm glad that it happened.  Patrick, the author of the blog, is a big fan of the Tigers and Alan Trammell.  I think I prefer blogs where there's a team that is followed more prominently than others (since that's what my blog is like).

Anyways, I hit up Patrick for a blind "Tigers for Padres" trade, and though he was a little quicker on the draw than I was, my end of the trade was shipped out on Christmas Eve day, so it'll get to Michigan soon.  

My favorite part of the cards that Patrick sent is that they were almost exclusively from the early 90s, which is my favorite era for baseball cards (being when I first got started).  There were some cool looking Tony Gwynn and Fred McGriff cards included in the package as well, but I already had those two, so they won't make an appearance on this post.

Starting off with some early 90s Padre pitchers.  For Christmas last year, one of my younger brothers got me "Padres Essential", a book on everything Padres.  It was written in 2006, so it's a little dated, but on the "All-Time Padres Team", Hurst and Lefferts were chosen as some of the best Padres pitchers (that may be more an indictment on Padres futility than a glowing resume for the pair).  Bruce was 55-38 as a Friar, with a 3.27 ERA (from '89 to '93), while "Lefty" was 40-42 with 64 saves and a 3.42 ERA (from '84-'87 and '90-'92).  Tim Scott has a sweet mustache, and I have an autographed card of his, so he must be awesome as well.

Stellar photography on these two.  This is most likely the only card of Paul Faries that will make it onto the blog and into a binder.  Love the shots of middle infielders "turning two" and avoiding the runner.  This Lance McCullers shot is less than intimidating.  Seems like he's trying to brace for the line shot back up the middle.

This is probably my favorite card of the trade.  I already have a Tony Gwynn card like this, so I actually knew what it was when I got it.  This is a 1988 box-topper, that had to be cut out individually.  Obviously, whoever did the trimming on this either had a really dull knife or didn't know how to use scissors (I'll assume that this was the condition that Patrick got it in).  Anyways, it seems like it gives this card more character.  Plus, all the other Kruk cards that I've seen from his time with the Padres are pretty rough on the eyes, and this is the best shot I've seen of him.

Just to prove that they weren't all from two decades ago, he included two parallels that I didn't have from this year's set.  The gold sparkle parallels seem to be growing on me, but last year's diamond sparkle parallels won't be topped for a while, in my opinion.

Anyways, if you haven't done so already, check out Patrick's blog, it's worth a read or two.  Seems like he's a good guy, team loyalties notwithstanding.  Hope everybody had a merry Christmas!  2013 is just around the corner!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Backstop's Top 10 of 2012, pt. 1

It's the end of the year, and that means...


I'm pretty sure that I've loved lists ever since I learned how to write.  Instead of drawing doodles when I'm bored, I write lists.  So, without further ado, here are my Top 10 base cards from 2012 Topps.  I guess this is my Christmas present to my readers.  Sorry, this is the kind of cheapskate that I am.

First up, Honorable Mentions go to...
Manny Acosta and Matt Carpenter for having cards with alternate jerseys on, which I thought looked cool.  Matt Cain and Jamie Moyer get mentions for having cool cards as well, but they lost points since they were checklists.  Last but not least, John Buck and Reed Johnson lost out because... I don't have those cards.  I've seen them on other blogs and think they look great, but I've never come across them, so they miss out as well.

Now, on to the finalists...

10. Carlos Quentin - The iconic "slugger holding a bat" look.  I've heard that CQ has been trimming down this offseason in an effort to stay free of injury.  We'll see how that goes.  Love the Petco Park seats and lights in the background.

9. Aaron Cunningham - A play at the plate card!  To be honest, there were more than a few of these in 2012 Topps, but Cunningham gets the nod because he's a former Padre that was a scrapper for all 105 games he played for the Friars (2010-2011)

8. Chris Denorfia - Deeeeeeeeenooooooo!  I don't love this card as much as his card from last year's Update set, but the high-five shot looks great with the horizontal format.  Plus, he's got that manly beard, so (insert something about facial hair here that will make people laugh).

7. Kyle Blanks - It seems like it's not showing up as well here, but this was the best Padre card from 2012.  The sun is setting and you can see it in the background, so there is some cool lighting here.  Seems to give Blanks a cool aura as he heads to the plate.  Unfortunately, he hardly played this year, so this seems kind of like a wasted shot.

6. Michael McKenry - I've seen a lot of catchers diving/sliding to catch that elusive foul ball, but I've never seen one captured in this position.  Looks like he could be doing some rudimentary interpretive dance number.

5. Victor Martinez - Looks like V-Mart was able to hold onto that one after getting bowled over.  I'm also a sucker for the orange and blue of the catcher's gear, brings me back to the early 90s Padre uniforms.  Show 'em the ball Victor!

4. Ichiro - I already liked this card before it became his "last" as a Mariner.  This card has it all: cool background (scoreboard), nice action shot, a focused superstar, and high socks.  Seems to be a fitting tribute.

3. J.P. Arencibia - This was one of the first cards that I got from 2012 Topps, and maybe if I'd found it later, it would've made it higher.  I still wonder how it is that the catcher is jumping up in the air to avoid the runner.  And how does this end for the sliding Oriole?  Is JPA going to land on top of him?  Great shot.

2. Tom Gorzelanny - This is a truly awkward looking shot.  Hard to tell if the ball is being knocked loose or if it's still en route to the catcher.  What really seals the deal for me is that Gorzelanny is a pitcher!  I have a few cards of pitchers batting, which are pretty rare.  A pitcher on the base paths is even more difficult to find.  But a pitcher in a collision at the plate?  Hard to beat.  This would've been number 1 if I hadn't liked the next card so much...

Ben Revere - Congrats Ben.  Show him what he's won!  It's... cardboard immortality!  Ok, ok, so that might be a stretch, but this is a great shot of Mr. Revere.  Continuing the tradition of outfielders mid-dive being (in my opinion) the best looking cards from the set, Ben takes the cake for the 2012 edition.

There were also inserts from the set that I thought were pretty cool.  The "Cut Above" inserts were cool, hard to go wrong with a die-cut.  The "Gold Futures" looked pretty slick, and included three Padres (although Anthony Rizzo was traded to the Cubs and Cory Luebke was injured for most of the year).  The "Classic Walk-Offs" were pretty unique, and a much more interesting history lesson than the "Golden Moments" inserts, which were pretty lame.  Not crazy about the design, but the subject matter makes up for it.  The Podsednik walk-off in 2005 was awesome, and Fisk's homer still give me goosebumps every time I watch it.

Anyways, that's my best of Topps 2012.  Part 2 will include other sets, and some other "personal" bests of 2012 that aren't baseball card related.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Khalil Thabit Greene

One of the other cards that I snagged from the blaster of '09 O-Pee-Chee was my very first non-Padre card of Khalil Greene.  There are so many players that, being a Padre fan, I know very well, but I often wonder how much non-Padre fans really know about them.

Who was Khalil Greene?  And why was he there?  Why was he lifted and taken somewhere?  On the far edge of the country, where the Gateway Arch stands, the Padres traded him for a top set-up man.
- not Dr. Seuss

KG was the Padres first round pick (13th overall) in the 2002 amateur draft.  He made his MLB debut at the end of the 2003 season, making short work of his time in the minor leagues.  He was the Dad's Opening Day starter from 2004-2008, and has the distinction of scoring the first ever major league run at Petco Park (on the first ever double at Petco Park, by Sean Burroughs).

Khalil is unquestionably the most power-hitting shortstop in Padres history with 84 homers, almost double the amount of runner-up Garry Templeton, who had almost twice as many at-bats.  For a guy who seemed pretty slender and was less than six feet tall, the dude had some pop in his bat, and was the first player to hit a home run into the third level of the Western Metal Supply building in the left field of Petco Park.

His .248 career batting average in San Diego isn't great by any stretch, but he became a fan favorite for the incredible plays he would make with his glove.  I would say that he was comparable to the Ranger's Elvis Andrus - able to make stellar plays with his glove, but would still make errors in routine situations.

He was also on some pretty good baseball cards.  I have about 25 or so KG cards in my Padres binder, and here are my top five, in no particular order...

That "Max Action" card looks pretty great in my opinion, despite the solid sand uniform and a camera angle that leaves a little to be desired.  The "All-Star Rookie" card from 2005 looks pretty classy as well.

Greene was known for giving it all he had on the field and being extremely serious about the game.  He let his playing do the talking for him, as he was pretty reserved and rarely smiled.  After playing a big part in the Padres back to back Division Championship run from 2005-2006, he had a career year in 2007, hitting 27 homers, 44 doubles, and driving in 97 RBI.  This warranted a contract extension before the 2008 season.

However, 2008 proved to be a rough one for Khalil, as he batted just .213 and struck out 100 times in just 423 plate appearances.  His 100th "K" came on July 30th, after which he lost a fight with an inanimate object, breaking a bone in his hand as he punched a storage locker.  He would miss the rest of the season, and the Padres went from winning the division to losing 99 games.

After the dismal 2008, the Padres traded him to the Cardinals for Mark Worrell and one of those "players to be named later", who turned out to be present Padre 8th inning specialist Luke Gregerson.  Luke would turn out to have much success in San Diego (2.92 ERA and 288 K's in 280 innings during his four year run with the team so far), while Khalil would be granted free agency after posting a career low .200 average for the Redbirds.

He is perhaps best known outside of San Diego for having Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD, similar to Zack Grienke and Dontrelle Willis) to such a degree that he was placed on the disabled list by St. Louis multiple times during the '09 season.  After being let go by the Cards, he signed with the Rangers, but never made it to Spring Training, due to his continued struggles with SAD.

Found this highlight video of Khalil's to remember all the great things he was able to do for the Friars during his tenure in San Diego.  Before I moved away from SD in 2006, I had a co-worker at the leaded-glass window shop that I worked at who would always talk about how awesome Khalil was, so my memories of KG are tied to my old work buddy.  Anyways, here's hoping that Khalil has gotten the help that he needs, and is able to enjoy his life in whatever he is doing now.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sliding Into Christmas Break

Today is my first day of Christmas Break.  It's also the first day of the rest of my life, but those are more common than people will admit.  Anyways, this school year has been a pretty rough one so far, and it doesn't show any signs of letting up in 2013.  I'll have to become an expert in spotting silver linings... or I'll just go crazy.

Anyways, this is why I miss Upper Deck cards.  How cool is this for your rookie card?
Get it?  He plays for the red socks.

Yesterday we had our class Christmas Holiday Party (according to more than half my class, they celebrate Chanukah in addition to Christmas, despite the fact that none of them are Jewish; we also have a girl who celebrates Three Kings Day).  Of course, we had to get through a handful of "school-type stuff" before we got to the actual festivities, but we eventually got to the good stuff.

I don't normally get gifts or anything for my students, but since I knew a lot of my co-workers were, I made a trip to Wal-Mart to see what struck my fancy...

... and found a blaster of 2009 O-Pee-Chee for "40% Off!"  There were "14 Packs plus 1 Bonus Pack" (I don't know why they say that, since I haven't been able to find any that didn't have the "bonus" pack), so I had just enough for my class, since a few kids had already left for vacation.  I also bought a discounted rack pack of Bowman Platinum, since I know how much my kids love the shiny cards.

So, they each got a pack of OPC (along with some candy and a little trinket from the dollar store), and then I came around and traded one of their cards for one of the Bowman Platinums.  They were beyond stoked for those, and these are a few of the cards that I ended up with.  I already have the Headley without the black border, but I like this one a lot better.  Love the Kouzmanoff card, and the Street card looks sharp, too.  This was from his first year in Colorado.

Nothing else memorable from that blaster, but a few cards that will make their way into some trade packages at some point.  Snagged a Rick Porcello rookie card, and since I've heard some trade rumors surrounding him and the Padres, I'll hold onto it until that deal inevitably falls through.  Seriously, the rotation for 2013 is looking pretty rough.

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Eyes Hurt

So I mentioned yesterday that there was an Erstad card that I got from Scott that deserved it's own post. 

This is that card...

Why does it deserve it's own post?

5. I'm pretty sure this is the only set that features Darin during his days as a Cornhusker.

4. Don't you hate when you look at a card and you can't find the player's name?  Not as much of a problem here.

3. How can you not be excited?  There's an exclamation point by his name!

2. If you're tired of the uninspired/unoriginal designs of today's base sets, you know that it could be worse.

1. Scott sent me three other Erstad's from the same set, but when I took a picture of them all together, my retinas started to melt.

If you think it sounds like I didn't like this card, you're right.

I love it.  I've got a decent amount of Erstad's cards on the Angels, a few on the Astros, and even though I'm still looking for my first White Sox card of his, those aren't the most difficult to find.

A card of one of my favorite players from his college days?  From some set I've never heard of?  That's pretty awesome.

After looking on COMC, I found out that this wasn't the best Erstad from the set.  That award would go to the one of him in his Cornhuskers football uniform.  Turns out that before winning the World Series in 2002, he won a national championship as the Nebraska punter in 1994.  How awesome is that?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Trade With Scott

A week or so ago, a reader named Scott emailed me about a card on my trade list (some people are still looking at it!), and said that he had a bunch of cards from guys I collected.  To be honest, I barely even glanced at the list, as I could tell that he had already scoured the list and made sure that I wasn't getting stuff that I already had.  Also, I love being able to turn cards that I don't need into cards that I actually want, so I don't mind if the number of cards I give up isn't equal to the number of cards that I get in return (it also helps keep the trading box from getting too full).

Anyways, the padded envelope arrived on Monday, which was a nice way to end a horrifically long day at school.  So many things to grade and things to finish before the kids leave for Christmas break.

I mentioned that I only briefly perused the list of cards he was sending my way, because most emails start the same way:  "I have some Gwynn's, McGriff's, and Hoffman's to send."

Now, don't get me wrong, I do love getting cards from those guys.  They're Padre greats, and it's not like that's a very big club.

However, some of the other guys that I collect are more fun to get because they're a little harder to find (seriously, I flip out whenever I get an unexpected Archi Cianfrocco card in the mail).

Darin Erstad falls into that "not-often-seen-in-trade-packages" category, which makes sense, since it's pretty apparent that the author of this blog is a Padres fan, and Erstad was never blessed (or cursed, depending on your viewpoint) with the opportunity to play in America's Finest City.  I'm guessing that most people just don't think to send him to me.

Still, Scott saw it on the list, and delivered the goods, adding almost an entire page to my Erstad collection.  I'm saving my favorite card of that group for tomorrow, because it deserves it's own post, but here are a few of the "other" Erstad's.

The Padres get a lot of flak (and deservedly so) for their many uniform changes.  However, I would say that the worst Padre uniforms are at least on par with the gray pinstriped "wing and ball" Angels unis.  The combination of the ugly uniform and late 90s card design makes a lot of early Erstad cards pretty rough to look at, but these are some of the better ones I've seen.  That's a good shot of Darin in the home pinstripes and the "Jackie Robinson 50th Anniversary" patch, and the kid in me loves the foil on the "New Horizon" label.

Some early 90s Crime Dog!  These were numbers 60 and 61 to the McGriff Blue Jay/Padre collection. Not too shabby.

Did I mention the Gwynn cards?  This was my favorite one.  I usually hate when somebody thinks they're good enough to share a piece of cardboard with Mr. Padre (I'm looking at you, Canseco), but Will "The Thrill" is a worthy partner.  I'm not sure what I like more, the combination of orange and brown on both uniforms, or that the "Hit Kings" are looking in completely opposite directions.  This isn't a "Top 10" Gwynn card, but I like it enough that it could make the top 20.  There's a list that will never be completely finished.

Anyways, thanks for the cards, Scott!  Especially the Erstad's!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Big GWYNNsday

On the last night that my wife was in the hospital with our newborn son, she told me to take our daughter home to spend the night in her own bed (she'd spent the first two nights with friends, and we were trying not to overstay our welcome).  Since we were closer to Austin than we normally are (my wife wanted to go with the same doctor she had with our first child, before we moved), I did a quick check online to see if there were any local card shops in the Austin area.  I found one, and when it was time to leave, I took the scenic route and found... Austin Card Traders.

Well, despite the less-than-exciting name, it was a pretty cool card shop.

Of course, I was with my daughter, and she was already antsy when I got there, so not trusting her to roam the shop willy-nilly, I held her most of the time that I was there, which made it a pretty short trip.

Not a lot of Padres cards (from what I could see), but that's probably to be expected.  Found a few cheap singles, including cards of  Dave Roberts and Rymer Liriano.  I found a jumbo pack of 1993 Upper Deck (one of my favorite sets) for two bucks, and some early 90s European soccer card packs for 50 cents each.  The real find of the day was a jumbo card from 1986.

The card on the right is actually a regular-sized card.  The one on the left is about the size of a postcard.  Fifty cents?  Deal.

There were a bunch of these, all in a stack at the end of an aisle.  I wanted to dig through them and find some stuff worth adding to a trade package or two, but it'd been a few days since she'd had a decent night's sleep, so I had to get moving before she started getting out of hand.

Didn't leave with a whole lot, but hopefully will make it back there the next time I'm in Austin.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

All Bunting, All the Time, Pt. 2

Despite the tight pants, wearing a cup, and dressing the same as the rest of your co-workers, it's pretty easy to look cool as a baseball player.

Especially on baseball cards.  There are lots of "iconic" poses; the action shots of sluggers at the plate, shortstops turning a double play, outfielders making a diving catch, and pitchers in their windup.  There are still shots of players sitting contemplatively in the dugout, catchers conferencing with their pitcher, or even signing autographs for fans.

In all of these shots, it's pretty easy to look cool.

It's a little tougher to look manly when you're bunting.  Although the rainbow colors of the 90s-era Astros might not help out that much either.

A while back, I showcased a bunch of Steve Finley cards that happened to capture him bunting.  After showing my twelve favorite Finley cards on 12/12/12, I got itching to show some more of his cards.  Flipping through my player collection binder, I realized that it wasn't just on the front of Steve's cards that demonstrating his perfect bunting form.

I actually kinda like the old Astros uniforms.  Since they got stuck moving to the AL, they've decided to celebrate their first season of getting pummeled by having new uniforms.  They actually look pretty good, I wish the Padres would make a move like this.

If you can't read the "Baseball Quiz" on the Padre card in the middle, it asks "Who owns the Padres first ever home run and hit?"  It's Ed Speizio, father of Scott Speizio.  Ed was the first trade the Friars made after the 1968 Expansion Draft.  With their 30 picks, they didn't get a third baseman, so they had to make a trade to pick one up.

Anyways, yeah, super original, I know, pictures of Steve Finley bunting.  What's next?  Cards of Tony Gwynn hitting?  Benito Santiago throwing out base runners?  Trevor Hoffman with a crazy look on his face?

Hey, I didn't say I was original.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Nap The Dog

Over the weekend, I took my daughter to the park.  When we pulled up, there was a group of five or six bigger kids (I'd guess 4th-6th grade) that were clowning around on the top of the slide.  We'd been there for about four or five minutes, when I heard a yell and saw a kid fall from the top of the slide and crumple like a load of laundry onto the bark below.  

Apparently he had been hanging onto the top of the entrance of the slide, and his brother hit his hands, causing him to fall the 15 or so feet onto the ground.  He had a good deal of blood running down his face and had bark sticking out of his mouth and nose.  Pretty gruesome.  The only other adult there was an Army guy with a pair of sleeve tattoos and a young daughter.  He looked around for the kid's parents, and not finding them, walked the sobbing kid over to the other side of the park to try to find them.

A few minutes later, Mr. Sleeves came back and recanted that he ripped into the parents for not being anywhere near their kids who were goofing around, and said that the kid's nose looked like it was broken.

We bonded over our distaste for parents who took their kids to the park to get away from them, and later found out that we both loved baseball.  He was a Ranger fan who named his dog Napoli (a rescue).  He told me about the first time that he took him to the park and found out that he used to be a hunting dog, because he leapt out of his truck, dove into the lake, and killed a duck.  The people who were fishing and the kids who were watching were not amused.

Anyways, now that Napoli has signed with the Red Sox, he said that he's contemplating changing the dog's name to "something that can't be traded away."  His wife doesn't get it, but he's pretty broken up about it.

I myself was a big Napoli fan, as his postseason dominance in 2011 coincided with the first World Series that I took an interest in since 2005.  He had a down season last year, and I'm not sure that he's got a whole lot left in the tank, but hopefully he does well in Boston.  The Rangers have had a tough offseason, hopefully their prospects are all they're hyped up to be.  This Archives Deckle Edge insert is probably the last Napoli card that we'll see of him in a Ranger uniform.

Limbeck is one of my favorite bands of all time.  Their album "Hi, Everything's Great" is one of my favorite albums of all time.  This song is called "Names For Dogs", and is off their album "Let Me Come Home".  I haven't listened to it for a while, but I'm pretty sure that "Napoli" isn't mentioned in the lyrics.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

If I Had A Vote

I can't remember how long I've been getting the emails, but a while back, I signed up to be sent surveys from MLB's Fans At Bat, which asks fans questions on current baseball topics.  Some of it is basic questions like "How many games do you go to a year" and "How much pre/post game coverage of the World Series did you watch".

Since the Hall of Fame ballots were released recently, one of the questions that I was sent yesterday was "If you had a vote for the Hall of Fame, who (on this list) would you vote for?"

I've always considered myself a pretty selective (read: picky) person, so I figured there'd only be a few that I'd choose.  The directions said that I could only choose ten players, and I chuckled on the inside.  "Ten?  No problem.  I won't even get halfway there."

Then I looked at the ballot...

The first thing I noticed was that there were some players on the ballot that had no business being there.  Two Jeff's, Cirillo (112 HRs, 1,598 hits) and Conine (214 HRs, 1,982 hits) don't have any business being there.  Three former Padres (including my all time favorite player) seem out of place as well.  I can't imagine Reggie Sanders (305 HRs, 1,666 hits), Rondell White (198 HR, 1,519 hits), or even the great Steve Finley (304 HRs, 2,548 hits) garnering many votes for Cooperstown, if any.

The second thing I noticed was the influx of steroid-boys - Clemens, Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, and Palmiero.  They wouldn't be getting my vote, but I've heard the arguments against keeping them out - and I can't say that I totally disagree with them.  Still, while I wouldn't put up a fuss about them getting in, I wouldn't play a part in helping to enshrine them.

Then, I found out that - despite the aforementioned groups of players - there were actually a bunch of candidates that I'd be totally fine to see in the Hall.  I decided to try to make my case for them in three sentences or less, and then include a little blurb on the cards that I showed.

First up, a couple of guys that have been on the ballot for a little bit.  

Dale Murphy:  Few players have been on the ballot as long as this two time MVP and seven time All-Star have.  They either don't have enough votes and are taken off, or they are elected in.  His numbers are close enough to get him to the doorstep of The Hall (between 1979 and 1987, he had a season-average of 155 hits, 32 homers, and 92 RBIs), and I say that his character and reputation get him the rest of the way in - he'd get my vote.  

I got the '79 Topps card from the 50 cent bin at a shop in San Diego over the summer.

Tim Raines:  If you are one of the best at something, I think you should get in.  I would say that Raines is the best leadoff man of all time who isn't named Rickey Henderson.  A batting title, 808 steals (4th all time) and a sterling 84.7% stealing percentage (best all time for players with more than 300 steals), should get "Purple" Raines in, despite off the field transgressions.

The only Raines cards that have made it into a binder are the ones that say "Rock" instead of Tim.  Here's a better piece on "Rock v. Tim" than I'll be able to write.  No use in trying to reinvent the wheel here.

My Fred McGriff man-crush is well documented, but Biggio is also a player I admire.

Fred McGriff:  I would love to see the Crime Dog get in, but I'll admit, he suffers from Dale Murphy-syndrome; seems like a case of "close, but not quite".  Still, nine seasons of 30+ homers and eight season of 100+ RBIs is pretty great, even if he's still just short of the magic 500 homer mark (493).  I'll give him the Former Friar bump, and Tom Emanski approves.

The Crime Dog was one of my "first" favorite players, during his time in San Diego (1991-mid '93), and the 1993 Topps "Black Gold" card has been one of my favorites since I pulled it out of a pack almost 20 years ago.

Craig Biggio:  Maybe I'm a sucker for guys who stayed on one team for their whole career, which is becoming a Hall of Fame feat in and of itself.  The fact that he has 3,060 hits, could play catcher and second base, and was a seven time All-Star - you're in.  To me, this one is easy.

I have a few Biggio cards, not quite a full page, but I chose this card because of the little pin (?) that he has on his cap, only because I don't have any cards of him in his catcher's gear, from earlier in his career.

Batting third, a few guys who I don't collect, but I found their cards in my almost complete '92 Pinnacle Series 1 set.

Edgar Martinez:  Gar gets knocked for playing in the American League and being a DH for a long time.  He doesn't have as many homers (309) or hits (2,247) as I'd like, but ten seasons of .300+ average and a .515 career slugging percentage, and the guy gets the nod.  Don't hate the designated hitter, hate the rule (for the record, I do).

Lee Smith:  As with Raines, if you're one of the best at something, you should be in.  One of the first big-time closers and former saves record holder (478), you should have a plaque.  No brainer.

Other players that I think should be in would be Jack Morris, Mike Piazza, and Curt Schilling, but I won't get into their cases here - I don't have any cards of theirs.

Overall, I think all these guys should get in, but I'm aware that most of their cases aren't bulletproof.  As a fan though, these are my thoughts.

I'll end with a Friar-related plug for Brother Murphy:  He has hit more home runs off the Padres (60) than everybody besides Barry Bonds (85).  Us Portland, Oregon-born folk gotta stick together - Multnomah County represent!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

'92 Pinnacle Catchers

I've said it before, 1992 Pinnacle is my favorite all-time set.  There was once a time when I was collecting cards of catchers in their gear (because that is usually part of the recipe for a killer photo), but I kinda abandoned it because... those are pretty common, and I found out that it could get out of hand pretty quickly.

I still hold on to a few that spark my interest, but they don't seem to be as prevalent now as they were in the 90s.  Ever since Mike Piazza came along and made people think that catchers had to be good hitters, there's less cardboard of the mask and pads.

So, here are all of the catchers in gear that I have from the '92 Pinnacle set, Series 1.

Brian Harper is probably my favorite player from this group, but the Tony Pena card is the best looking.  I love how his mask is still in the air, I'm guessing he tossed it as he anticipates a throw to the plate.

Ivan Rodriguez was one of my favorite players as a kid.  I was a catcher in Little League, and had a decent arm and could throw out a runner or two, so he was a guy I looked up to.  Of course, he could also hit pretty well, and I... peaked when I was 11.  The "Shades" card is of Benito Santiago, and is actually from Series 2, but I needed another card to fill in the space.

The Gigantes had two catchers included in Series 1, Steve Decker and Kirt Manwaring.  In 1991, there were three catchers who each played more than 65 games for San Francisco - Decker, Manwaring, and three time All-Star (former Padre) Terry Kennedy.  Of the three, Kennedy had the highest batting average (.234).  In '92, Kennedy retired, and there were five different backstops for the orange and black.  Manwaring played the most games (109) and had the highest average (.244), while Decker played the second fewest (15) and had the second lowest (.163).

There you go, stats for mediocre hitters on a team that I don't like.  Real intriguing stuff.

Anyways, there's something about the black borders of this set that I really like, I guess.  I also really like the Topps sets from '71 and '86, which featured black prominently in the design (although I was less impressed with the 2007 set).  I'm still ten cards away from completing Series 1, so if you have any off my want list, lemme know.

Happy Saturday everyone.  May your day be merry and bright, and all that kinda stuff.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Offseason So Far

It's been a pretty lame offseason for Padres fans so far.

To be fair, the Friars did lock up a few of their key guys before the season ended, with contract extensions to two of their biggest names and talents (Carlos Quentin and Huston Street).  They also didn't trade Chase Headley - which just about everyone thought they would do - but still haven't extended his contract.  He is under team control until 2015, but is arbitration eligible this year and next year.

The Padres may be hesitant to extend his contract due to their most recent extensions doing miserably in the 2012 season.  Cameron Maybin batted .243 and got off to horrible start offensively, but made improvements the second half of the year.  Nick Hundley, who was thought to be the catcher of the future, batted .157 and lost the starting job to Josh Baker, who eventually lost it to rookie Yasmani Grandal.  Cory Luebke, who was slated to be the opening day starter and "ace" of the staff, threw 31 innings (good for a 3-1 record, 2.61 ERA) before landing on the DL for a year due to Tommy John surgery.

Padres fans have been waiting for the new ownership to make a splash.  While I'm not sure that they'll be changing the Padres uniforms to the brown and yellow that I was hoping they would, they did decide to move the fences in to make Petco a slightly less pitching friendly park.  However, the real question has been: Will they spend money to get a top-line starting pitcher?

Well, here are the highlights of the Padres offseason thus far...

Andrew Cashner, the only player we got in the Anthony Rizzo deal that will ever be on the big club, was injured in a hunting accident when he sliced open his pitching hand with a knife.  The only thing more embarrassing would have been a Thanksgiving turkey carving injury.  Dude will miss a few months of the regular season

Yasmani Grandal, a spark plug who ignited the Padre offense when he was called up from AAA Tucson, tested positive for PEDs, and was suspended for the first 50 games of the season.  I really liked this guy and thought he had a great future.  Now not so sure.

The Padres made a big signing for... a pitcher they had last year.  Jason Marquis, who went 6-7 with a 4.04 ERA, was signed to a one year deal during the season after going 2-4 with an 8.47 ERA in Minnesota and getting dropped by the club.  Apparently, they thought he was good enough to bring back for another one year contract, this time for $3 million.  Seems a little steep to me, especially since I'm not sure there was really a market for him, but I guess he wasn't horrible last year.

The Padres lost Nate Freiman, a 6'7" first baseman with tons of power in the Rule V draft to the Astros.  This was a bummer for me, even though I think Yonder Alonso has the talent to be at first for the Padres for a long time.  You can never have too much depth, and the Padres haven't had a big power threat at first base since Adrian Gonzalez left.

They've also made a few under-the-radar trades for people who I have never heard of, one named Tyson Ross (who's brother, Joe, is currently in the Padres minor league system), and another minor leaguer from the Rays named Chris Rearick.

Not quite the "splash" that some teams made.

If you had told me during the 2011 World Series that these two guys would be on the Angels together in 2013, I wouldn't have believed it.

I don't think the Padres are going to open up their wallets and go out to get one of the top starting pitchers on the market, but it'd be nice to get somebody worth getting excited about.  If Marquis is our most high-profile acquisition, I think this offseason was a waste.  Too many other teams in California adding too many good players to sit there and do nothing at all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Late Night GWYNNsday

What's this?  Two posts in one day?  Must be a special occasion.

Today is December 12, 2012.  Lots of 12's, all in a row.  12/12/12.  Twelve twelve twelve.  Twelve seems like a strange word if you type it enough times.

Anyways, due to the fun date, I toyed with the idea of canceling GWYNNsday in favor of my all-time favorite player who donned the "doce".  Nope, not Roberto Alomar or... okay I couldn't think of anybody else for it "not" to be.  Enough suspense?

It's Steve Finley!

Of course, of all of the Padre cards that I have of Mr. NL West, I don't have any that fully show his number on them.  He wore number 10 when he broke into the majors with the Orioles, but wore 12 the rest of his 18 years in the league, with a hiccup in Los Angeles when he wore number 16 during part of the 2004 season.

In honor of 12-12-12, here are my 12 favorite cards of the Stevemeister.

But wait, if this is a GWYNNsday post, then where's Mr. Padre?

Well, I was perusing ESPN.com today, and came across their list of the top 100 players of all time, or the "Hall of 100".  Yesterday they had a bunch of Honorable Mentions and went up to 76, and today the unveiled numbers 75 to 26.  Anthony Keith landed at the 61st spot, sandwiched between Ferguson Jenkins (62) and Ozzie Smith (60).  It sounded a little low to me, but looking at who they put in front of him, I guess it sounds about right.  I don't know that I would rank Wade Boggs (54) and Robin Yount (58) as far ahead of Tony as they did, but larger travesties have taken place in the world.

Anyways, here's a Tony Gwynn card I picked up on Black Friday from Check Out My Cards.  Couldn't pass up on the great shipping deal they had, plus... this was the last card I needed to complete the 1992 Fleer Ultra Tony Gwynn Commemorative Series set.

Anyways, hope your GWYNNsday night is going well.  Tonight Mr. Almost One Week Old decided to have a blowout diaper all over his mother at the exact same time that his older sister threw up on the sofa.  I'm not entirely convinced that this wasn't some premeditated attack.  I have never in my life done so much laundry.

From the Clubhouse

It's Christmas-time.  Nobody in Texas says "Holidays".  That being said, if there are any other traditions or beliefs that you celebrate during this or any other time of the year, I hope that you enjoy them to the fullest extent.

Giving and receiving gifts is customary with many traditions at this time of year.  The phrase "It's better to give than to receive" is thrown around a lot.  And do you know what?  It's true.  Ask Mark from This Way To The Clubhouse.  If you do, I'm sure that he will tell you that sending me a surprise package of Padres cards was the among the highlights of the season for him.

Of course, people are liars, and Mark isn't perfect, so the only way to be sure that it's better to give than to receive is to actually put the rubber to the road and try it for yourself.  If you choose to experiment upon my words and send me some of those cards that you already have lying around your living space, here's a great reference point, courtesy of the aforementioned Clubhouse-dweller.

Can't go wrong with giving Gold for the holidays.  These are, of course, the serial numbered gold borders from this year's Topps set, numbered to 2012.  I liked what Forsythe was able to put together this year.  I was really hoping that Yonder would get a Padres card in the Update set, but he'll have to wait until next year for his flagship Padres debut.  He was at least included in Padre blue for the Heritage and Allen & Ginter sets, so all wasn't lost for the Friar first baseman.

Next up, Mark sent me a slew of the 2012 Topps Minis.  I figured that these would be much smaller, but there's not a huge difference between them and the standard sized cards.  I think that most of those will make their way into my giveaway box at school (the kids love the mini cards and stickers that get put in there, so there's good incentive to get those), but I'm definitely holding onto the Quentin card; that's a great shot.

I'm not a big Mark Loretta fan per se, but he had one of the greatest offensive years in Padre history, so that's gotta be worth something.  And who doesn't love Benito cards?  I know that I don't not love them.  I didn't even know that he played for the Blue Jays, but here's the proof that he was strapping on the gear north of the border in 1997 and 1998.  Benito was gone by the time I got really into baseball and the Padres, but collecting his Padre cards has gotten me into some of his post-San Diego cardboard as well, and most of it has come by way of Mark.

Thanks Mark!  He didn't even know that I was heading out to the post office to send him some goodies the same day that I got the stuff he sent!  Of course, they didn't get shipped until yesterday; I'm going to go with the 5-day old excuse that's been living with us since last Thursday as the culprit.  I thought that I pooped a lot (reference point: just had our second child, and the little can't do anything for himself... sheesh!)

Anyways, it's the giving time of year, and if you're looking for somebody to give those unwanted Padres cards to, I'm here to help you get into the Christmas spirit, so send 'em my way!