I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited about this team. They're at .500 right now, something that didn't seem possible after a 5-15 start, and hadn't actually happened since the second week of 2011. That's a long time to be a losing team (no offense, Pirates fans).
Of course, just when they were starting to find their groove, the Padres had a mountain of injuries pile up. It goes without saying that the Padres pitching staff has been shorthanded for a while, and even seeing injury prone guys like Carlos Quentin and Cam Maybin on the DL isn't surprising. But Yonder Alonso broke his hand when he was hit by a pitch, and Jedd Gyorko and Everth Cabrera have leg injuries, so losing 3/4s of your infield is a big hit, especially since those are three of the Padres leaders on offense.
Fortunately, a bunch of guys have been stepping up, notably Will Venable, who leads the team in homers, and Logan Forsythe, who can play the infield with the best of 'em and has a hot bat to boot. Even Jesus Guzman has gotten in on the action, hitting two should've-been-game-winning-homers agains the Giants that the Padres bullpen choked away.
My favorite guy during this stretch, however, has been Kyle Blanks. Dick Enberg, who calls the Padres games, has taken to calling him "The 88 Train", due to the fact that he wears the number and he is seriously built like a train. Having gotten his autograph a few spring trainings ago, the 6'6" 280 pounder looks even bigger in real life. Seriously, the bat looks like a toothpick in his hands.
In the month of June, Blanks is hitting .284 with 5 homers, 4 doubles, and 18 RBI in 19 games.
Digging through my binders, I found that I have eleven cards of Mr. 88, so without further ado, here are my top five favorite Kyle Blanks cards.
First up, 2010 Bowman. Not a particularly awesome shot, but it shows the big man rounding the bases after (presumably) hitting a laser over the fence. Good slugger's card.
Unfortunately, Blanks doesn't currently sport the fro that he was rocking on this 2010 Allen & Ginter card. I really wanted to rank this one higher, but in the end I kept it at number four on the countdown. Great card, though.
Sometimes I wonder how the card guys do it - how do they figure out more things to do to cards to make up the different parallels. I'd be lying if I said that I knew the "official" name for this card was, other than that it's from the 2009 Bowman set. Still, it's serial numbered to 199 (I think?) and all the shiny stuff looks good to me. Plus, the logo tells us that this is a rookie card, whatever that means.
When I first saw these, I thought that they were lame. Or at the very least, not near as cool as the diamond parallels that also came out in 2011 Topps. Now, however, I think these have grown on me, and between the shiny on the card and the great mid-swing photo, this card is good in my book.
With all the shiny that we had in most of the rest of the top 5, this plain-Jane card gets top honors? Yes. I saw this get a lot of love on other blogs - gotta love the lighting here as it shines down on #88. Very "The Natural"-esque. Kind of weird cropping of the feet, due to the surfboard nameplate at the bottom, but still great. I have a few different variations of this card that look great as well, but this one photographed the best.
Alright, well, there you have it, I've officially jinxed Kyle Blanks. Expect an injury in the next few days or a big drop in performance. As long as he's not injured trying to iron his shirt while he's wearing it, I'll still be a fan.