A blog about baseball cards... and the Padres

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The First Page

Well, 2014 Topps is out, and I've really enjoyed reading the new reviews from all the different blogs I frequent.  I don't think I skipped any, I read 'em all.  Even if there's nothing new to say, I still like reading everyone's take on new product.  Well, except Bowman, that's always super boring.

Anyways, like every single other year of my life, I am not going to be collecting the set.  I have no need for so many non-Padre cards in my garage or my life, so I'll be sticking to the Padres team set and a few parallels (more on that later), for the most part.

However, while reading garveyceyrusselllopes recently, I got an idea.  Well, actually it was probably his idea and I'm probably just stealing it and using it for myself.  For some older sets that he has no chance of completing, he was making "sampler sets" with small groups of the different types of cards from the same set.  I think I missed a few posts on this subject, but it seems like each "sampler set" had a card from each team.

Well, that sounds good to me!  I don't want to skip out on a chance to get some other cards I like just because they're not Padres.  And I kinda like the challenge to find a card from the whole set that I like for each team.

I've actually decided to do this with a few other sets that I've enjoyed, ranging from my childhood to the present: '92, '93, '11, '12, '13, '14.

I'll post more details on all those in the future.  It's nothing ambitious, really - 30 cards, one from each team, and then six "extra" cards, for the ones that I still just like, just to fill out the last page page.

Anyways, of all the cards that I got on the first day that this year's Topps went "live", here are the ones that are sticking in the binder… for now.

They all have the possibility of being dethroned either by another card from this series, or from Series 2 or Update.  As of right now, I have a hard time believing that any other cards are going to be able to best the Yankees or A's picks here, although that Yoenis Cespedes card that I've seen on other blogs looks pretty stellar as well.  I can see an Oakland card snagging one of the "wildcard" spots.  Matt Lindstrom is a guy I like a lot, but he'll have a lot of competition, since Paul Konerko is my favorite non-Padre player.

Anyways, that's what I'm doing with Topps cards for a few sets.  Let me know in the comments of any cards that you think I need to add that maybe I haven't seen yet.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The New Stuff

If all the other bloggers jumped off a bridge, would you do it?  If all the other bloggers started writing reviews of 2014 Topps right after it came out, would you do it?

I would answer yes to just one of these questions.

In the review of 2014 Topps, I am sure that I have little to offer in terms of things that you haven't already heard, but I figure that at the very least, I might show some cards that nobody else has seen yet.

I stopped by Walmart on my lunch break and picked up a hanger box and a rack pack.  While looking at them in the car, they got all jumbled up, so I'm not sure which ones are from which for sure, so sorry for people who care about that sort of thing.

First up, here are the two Padres I scored from the hanger box.  I remember they were from the hanger box because I also had a thousand Yankees and Red Sox in the box, and I didn't see these til the very end and I thought I was going to be shut out from any Padres at all.  Robbie Erlin looks like he may be a decent option at the back of the rotation, and his first Topps card is nothing to be embarrassed about.  I've been waiting for an Eric Stults card since 2012, so I'm glad that it finally happened in 2014.  Too bad they didn't use the picture that's currently being used as the blog header.

This was easily my favorite card of the day.  Yes, I'm not a fan of the green parallels (although it almost kinda works with Andrew Cashner's camo undershirt, right?), but Cashner is one of the guys who's cards I'm going to chase.  Topps won't get me chasing down these monstrosities for all the Padres, but it's nice to actually get one of a player that I collect.  This was from the rack pack, and also one of the last cards I saw from there.  Topps trying to play mind games with me.

I've mentioned before that the design is not great.  It's a shame to waste a great photo of the Cubs throwbacks on a card that is so weird looking.  To be fair, I wouldn't have that big of a beef with the design if they had just left off the tab looking thing on the right side of the card.  Still wouldn't be great, but it wouldn't look stupid.  As it stands, it looks like a weird crossbreed of two different sets.  Good shot of Manny Machado, and I like that they brought back the "Future Stars" thing, but they should've done it in something besides silver foil.

While I'm mostly just picking up the Padres (and thus, won't be buying too many packs), I decided that for each year that I've been collecting, I'll be putting together a "sampler set" of the flagship sets, showing a player from each team (30 cards) and then a few others that strike my fancy (6 cards, just to make it a full four pages).  So far, these are in the running for their respective teams.  I'm pretty sure that everybody would love to have (a healthy) Matt Harvey on their team, and the Sean Doolittle card is pretty awesome.  Jeremy Guthrie is a guy that I've followed since he was a Rockie and and a guy I always root for, so he will most likely rep the Royals when all is said and done.

Seeing the awesomeness of the Astros uniforms makes me want to go down to Houston to catch a game sometime this summer.  I only vaguely recognize the names Fields and Oberholtzer from a few random games I caught on the radio, but look at all that orange.  I may put together the Astros team set just because I like looking at how awesome they look.

Easily the best non-Padres base card in the bunch.  I got two Mariano Rivera cards in the hanger box, but this was easily the best one.  I thought that his card last year was a good one to go out on, but this photo of Andy Pettite and Derek Jeter coming to take him out of his last game was a great memory, good on Topps for using that on a card.

Here are some random blue paralleled cards that aren't very exciting.

Replacing the emerald parallels from last year (I think?) are these red foil cards.  I think these both came out of the hanger box, but I'm not sure.  I was able to (finally) put together the Padres team set from last year's emeralds, and I can't decide if I like these enough to chase this team set as well.  Still on the fence, though if it's not this one, I'll probably just put a random assortment of parallels as the team set, like I did for 2011 and 2012.

These were easily the biggest surprise of the hanger box.  Yellow parallels?  First of all, like everyone else has said, that's too many freaking parallels.  Second of all, I actually really like the yellow, which reminds me of my now-neglected blog focusing on the 1991 Fleer set.  However, these only come two per hanger box.  I would love to chase this team set, but think that it would get too expensive to chase down on eBay/COMC.  I don't need that kind of headache, since I'm still not a huge fan of the design.

Here are the inserts.  I'm already getting tired of writing this review.  Inserts are rarely of interest to me, since they rarely feature Padres.  Such is the case with the ones that I got yesterday.  Topps is trying to get me to care about the MLB Draft, which I just don't see happening.  One insert focuses on the "50 Years of the Draft", while the other shows the "Upper Class" of players and the year they made their MLB debut.  I had not previously heard of any player that the Padres chose in the draft, and I'm not going to suddenly start following college or high school baseball to become more interested in who the Astros take first next draft.  The Wil Myers card looks boring as well, though I love the old school-no batting gloves look.

Here were a few inserts that weren't lame.  The Super Veteran insert seems like a good idea, though I'm not a huge fan of the execution - too much gold foil makes me feel like I'm back in 1997, for whatever reason.  The 1989-themed die cut minis are easily the cream of the insert crop.  It has all the hallmarks of an insert set that I'd like to hunt down, but I'm still trying to finish up the last 1/5th of the checklist for the 2013 Update minis, and I'm more partial to the '71 set than the '89 set (though it looks great here, kudos for not overkilling another one of the vintage sets, Topps).

Felix Hernandez wants to congratulate you!  You made it to the end of another post about 2014 Topps!  While you probably didn't learn anything new, well, I'm not sure what you expected to learn in the first place.  This is a card blog, after all, not an online college course or wikipedia.

To sum up my thoughts - do I like the design?  No.  Did I get some alright cards?  Yes.  Am I going to be collecting any of the inserts?  Just the Padres.  Am I going to go as parallel crazy as Topps wants me to?  Heck no.

Am I excited that Spring Training is around the corner and the release of Topps' flagship set signals that baseball season is right around the corner?

Most definitely.

EDIT: Alright, I had to run to Walmart for some toenail clippers, tortillas, sponges, and bananas, and I ended up with another rack pack of Topps.  I think this happens every time there's a new release - get it in the afternoon/evening, end up going back at night for something else, end up with a little bit more.  The following is presented without comment.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wish List for 2014 Topps

I've already seen the Padres checklist for Topps Series I, and it's surprisingly good.  Only one guy that's no longer with the team (Clayton Richard), and thirteen other guys.  I've seen a few pictures of cards from this year's Topps set, but only two Padres (Tommy Medica and Reymond Fuentes), and they look alright, but the design is still the same, which is pretty universally bad.

This isn't a "wish list" in terms of who I hope will be on the checklist for Series I/II, but the actual pictures that I hope that are used on the cards.  Since it seems that Topps gets most/all of their photos from Getty Images, so I scoured Getty Images for good Padres pics.  Here are the ones that I liked the best for some of your favorite Friars.

Yonder Alonso:
I wanted to find a picture of him playing second or third base, which the Padres first baseman played for less than an inning during a game against the Dodgers at the beginning of last season.  No dice.  I kinda like this dugout shot of him with presumably best friend Jedd Gyorko.  I mean, Jedd is a natural third baseman who prefers to play second just so they can be next to each other.  So sweet.

Alexi Amarista:
I love love love the uniforms from the Pacific Coast League Padres.  The brown and yellow is great, but these were my favorite uniforms the Padres wore in 2013.  Unfortunately, the night they wore these against the Giants was probably the low point of the year, and was frankly a game that made me embarrassed to be a Padre fan.  But this would still be a cool shot of Alexi Amarista scoring what was a rare Padre run.

Everth Cabrera:
Any shot of Everth Cabrera from 2013 will have to be from the first part of the year, as he was suspended the last 50 games of the season for PED use.  Yep, that was the Padres All-Star rep.  Ug.

Andrew Cashner: Realistic
Alright, I found four shots of one of my favorite Padres, Andrew Cashner, that would be great.  In all likelihood, this is the one that has the greatest chance to be chosen.  It's your basic pitcher's shot, pitching away from Petco Park from the stretch.  Like the away grays, much better than the home whites.

Andrew Cashner: Cool
I guess I could see this being one of those gimmicky short prints, if Cashner was a more popular player.  Still, this would be a very cool shot of him being congratulated by teammate Alexi Amarista.  Sweet shades in the San Diego sun.

Andrew Cashner: Action!
How many cards feature pitchers in action shots like this?  Not many.  Add to the fact that the play shows Cashner tagging out the guy that he was traded for (Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo), and it makes it pretty awesome.

Andrew Cashner: Freaking Awesome
Alright, this one is probably the most unlikely to be used out of the whole lot, but wouldn't it be freaking awesome?  Looks like Cash is working on some sprints, which comes in handy when Bud Black calls on him to pinch run.  Yes, Yonder Alonso has played second base and Andrew Cashner has been put in as a pinch runner (and pinch hitter, for that matter).  Cashner is the man.

Chris Denorfia: Evening
This reminds me of the AJ Pierzynski card from last year's set.  You could do a whole lot worse than watching the sun setting behind the palm trees at Dodger Stadium.  

Chris Denorfia: Night Owl
But maybe you don't like sunsets.  Maybe you're all about the night.  Here we have another shot of Deno near the dugout, this time with the bright stadium lights illuminating the field.  For me, I can't decide if I like this one or the one before it better, I'd be happy with either one.  Heck, I'd be happy if I didn't have to wait until the Update set to get a Chris Denorfia card.

Chris Denorfia: Sock
Maybe it's just because I already miss Luke Gregerson, but I really like this photo of Deno and Luke chattin' it up.  Love those throwbacks.  One of a kind uniforms right there.

Jedd Gyorko: Under the Lights
Here's a similar shot to the nighttime Denorfia shot, only this time it's taken at Petco Park.  Love this photo.

Jedd Gyorko: Throwback
Nothing too fancy here, but the throwback brown and yellow looks sharp here.

Jedd Gyorko: Goodbye!
Jedd Gyorko led all NL rookies in homers this year with 23.  He set the home run record for Padres second basemen, which was previously set by Bret Boone in 2000 (19).  Here he is admiring his handiwork in the last series of the year against the Giants.

Will Venable: PCL Pt. 3
Alright, I've already said it here, but I really like the PCL Padre uniforms.  I also find Venable's followthrough to be pretty interesting to look at, as it seems that his front foot always has his toe pointed up.  Swinging from his heels?  Seems like a tough way to get moving down the line afterward, but he did benefit from them moving the right field fences in, and had a career high 22 homers in 2013.

Do I really think that any of these shots will be used on a baseball card this year?


But if they did, it'd be pretty cool.

Monday, January 27, 2014


Just a quick post for today.

Do you know what set I think is really boring looking?  1987 Topps.  For some reason, it seems like I keep seeing blogs that write about how great it is, but I just don't get it.  Maybe it's because they were collectors during that time, so there's a nostalgic quality to it.  Maybe people just like the look of wood.

Whatever it is, I don't get it.  '92 and '93 Topps are some of my all time favorites because that's when I got really interested in baseball cards, but I know that they're not great or iconic sets.  I just like 'em.

Anyways, here is a look at all of the 1987 Topps cards in my collection.

Can't go wrong with The Bipper.

I just like the look of McCullers' stirrups and the "RAK" on the sleeve.  Ray A Kroc saved baseball in San Diego, so I give him a pass for starting McDonalds.

These mustachioed pitchers have made their way into the "W" archives of my Miscellaneous Padres binder as well.  I don't know exactly why, but I just like Eddie Whitson.  Gene Walter is only here because of his mustache.

Can't go wrong with Padres catchers, so they're in as well.

Of course, every single Tony Gwynn card is assured a place in the collection.  I actually like the All-Star card, but the base card isn't anything great.

For a while, I thought that this Goose Gossage card was easily the best card of the Padres set.  Can't go wrong with the Goose, right?  

But the "Best Of" award goes to Benito Santiago's rookie card.  Easily one of the best Padre cards from the 80's.  It was included in the Traded set, as was the Gene Walter card.  While not a great shot of Benny, it's still the second best Padre rookie card of the 80s (behind somebody named Gwynn).

Anyways, speaking of wood, there's a band that I've been listening to for about a week straight called Red City Radio.  No baseball connection as far as I'm aware, but they're a punk rock band from Oklahoma City and they're pretty good, if you're into that kinda stuff.  Loud guitars, singer that sounds like he gargles thumbtacks.

This is a song called "The Sons and Daughter's of Woody Guthrie".  See?  Connection to the wood paneling of the '87 Topps set?  Too much of a stretch?  Whatever.

Here's another song if that first one wasn't enough for you.  I like it better, and the video deals with important issues like open mic nights and cannabalism.

Happy Monday.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Día de Nieve

Even though I was raised in sunny San Diego, I was actually born in rainy Portland, Oregon.  I was a missionary for my church in Chicago for two winters.  My wife and I went to school in Idaho for four years, during which it happened to snow in July.  There were multiple times when I thought "It's below zero, how can people possibly live in this?"

There were many factors that led our little family to Texas, but one thing that appealed to us was getting away from the cold.  How cold can Texas possibly be?

Well, even though the summers are sweltering, it turns out that it can still get chilly in the winter.  Not nearly as cold or for as long as the aforementioned locations, but chilly nonetheless.

It even occasionally snows!  Friday was one of those days, and it was wonderful.  It started with light flurries on Thursday evening, which prompted a quick conclusion to a training seminar I went to.  On my way home, I saw no less than seven cars that had spun off the road or had been in some other accident.

My daughter Harper, who loves the movie Frozen, was ecstatic, and kept yelling "Thank you Elsa!"  She was adorable.  By magic, the snow was still there in the morning, and lasted until around 1:00 pm. Foster was a little less enthused, but managed to smile for a picture, so it was a win win.

Oh, "Día de Nieve" is Spanish for "Day of Snow".  I'm not sure if that's what they actually say when there is a "snow day", but it works for this Padres fan, and I'm able to use some photos of former horrible Padres outfielder Melvin Nieves.  School was first postponed and then cancelled.  My wife watches children during the day and since schools was cancelled, she had the day off as well.  We didn't really do a whole lot, but it was really fun to be with the kids (especially Harper) for it.  The last time it snowed was around this time in 2011, just before she was born (she has a mid-February birthday).

This one even looks like it has some brown ivy in the background, perfect for a winter post.

The craziest thing about it all is that the day before, it was 65 degrees, and it got even warmer than that on Saturday.  Texas weather, man.  If you don't like it, just wait around a while.

Except for the summer time.  Then it's hot all the time.  It never stops.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Body Count: Infinity

Alright, the title for the post might not have a whole lot to do with the content, but doesn't that sound like an awesome movie?  Or at least a video game that you wouldn't want your children to be playing?

If you have been following the Padres as close as I have since the end of the season, you'll know that there are some big changes to the roster since October.  Well, maybe not big changes, but quite a few changes.  Let's just say that the "body count" of Padres who are no longer with us is large.

Here are some cards of most of the guys that are gone.  Well, at least the ones that I have cards of.

We'll start with the most obscure: Maxx Tissenbaum, shown here playing for the Ft. Wayne Tin Caps, was one of the five players the Padres traded to the Rays last week for lefty reliever Alex Torres and pitching prospect Jesse Hahn.  Love these team issue cards, seem like they'd be great for autographs.  Tissenbaum is vying to become the first big leaguer to spell the name "Max" with two x's.  There have been two others (Catapano and Garrett) who have played in independent leagues.

Here are a pair of right handed relievers who no longer call Petco Park home.  Brad Boxberger is the only other player of the five who I have a card of from the Rays trade, but it's at least a fancy one with an autograph.  I remember specifically watching him pitch and not enjoying it and thinking he wasn't very good, but his line from 2013 wasn't bad, with a 2.86 ERA in 22 IP, 24 K's and 13 BB.  Brad Brach was dealt to Baltimore for a prospect pitcher that seems like a longshot to go anywhere.  I'm still a fan of Brach, but the Boxberger card is up for trade if anybody's interested.

 Here's a trio of pitchers from last year's Heritage set who are no longer with us.  And by "us", I mean the Padres.  They're not dead.  I guess that Edinson Volquez was released before the end of the season, so he might not qualify as an "offseason" casualty.  The Dodgers took a flyer on him during their playoff run, and he signed with the Pirates in December.  Luke Gregerson was traded to the A's for outfielder Seth Smith.  Because the Padres don't have any great outfielders, so they're stocking up on a bunch of 4th outfielders.  Of all the players on this list, Luke is the one I'll miss the most.  Clayton Richard was released after a horrible season in which he was injured and or the majority of the time, and has yet to sign with a team.

 Another trio of former Friars, this time from last year's Topps emerald parallel.  Haven't finished off the team set of these (still three short).  Anyways, Tommy Layne was released and has signed with the Red Sox.  I thought he'd be a Luke Gregerson-type "holder" for the Padres in 2013, but he only pitched 8.2 innings last year, good for a 2.08 ERA.  Jesus Guzman is one of the Padres "depth" guys off the bench who was traded to the Astros for Ryan Jackson, who is profiled as an "all glove, no bat" backup shortstop.  Jason Marquis was injured at the end of the year last year, and was released.  Still hasn't signed with anyone yet, and while he wasn't great for the Padres, the guy pitched with a lot of guts, so I liked him enough.

Here we have Mark Kotsay and Anthony Bass.  Kotsay retired at the end of the season, and since he wasn't granted a card in the 2013 set, this card from 2012 will have to be his "going into the sunset" card.  Honestly, Kotsay was brutal to watch last year, but he's a good clubhouse guy and great with the fans, and it's not like the Padres were going anywhere last year.  He's since joined the Padres front office in some capacity.  Anthony Bass did have a card in last year's set, but I wanted to use this one for congruency.  He is the opposite of Boxberger, in that I thought he did alright last year, but the numbers say that he was pretty ineffective (5.36 ERA in 42 IP, 31 K's to 20 BB).  He was dealt to the Astros for a player to be named later, who turned out to be Patrick Schuster, a lefty reliever.

Oh!  I almost forgot about Logan Forsythe!  The seven player trade with the Rays was referred to as "the Logan Fosythe" trade.  Seems kinda silly to refer to it as that, as I'm sure that most non Padre fans were not aware of who Forsythe was, and he hit just barely above .200 last year.  He's another gritty player that I liked to watch, but he seems to always be visiting the DL, and the Padres have enough of those guys.  Anyways, so long Logan!  Good run in San Diego.

Ug.  Now that I think of it, Jaff Decker was traded to the Pirates, and I know I have a card of him.  If I get to it later, I'll post it as well.  In return, the Padres got Alex Dickerson, who looks like he could be a good hitter.  If I take the time to take that photo, I'll mention it again.

Farewell former Friars!  Can't wait for the 2014 season to start!