I'm aware that the blogosphere seems to still be in full Heritage mode. I know that Donruss is still relatively new, and that Topps Opening Day has made an appearance in some stores, but I'll call it like I see it: Heritage is king.
I'm a sucker for it too. I'm still tempted to buy some whenever I see packs from 2012 on a discount rack. Even though I know I have most if not all of the cards I want from the set, I just like 'em. While the '65 design isn't my favorite, it's still solid, and is an overall good release from Topps (despite all the short print/variation nonsense, but that seems to come with every set now, so that's not a uniquely Heritage annoyance).
Anyways, there has been one card that I've been anxious to get my hands on. The Padres have none of the fancy cards in Heritage. Outside of a few advertising panels in hobby boxes (which I picked up on the cheap and should be getting in the mail soon), there are no Padres "hits". Still, this is probably my new favorite card of the 2014 season:
I'll give you a hint: it has nothing to do with Daniel Webb, who I have never heard of before and still know basically nothing about. It's all about Chris Robinson. Before I get into more details, here is a post that's been sitting in "draft" mode for almost six months.
Living The Dream
I had never heard of Chris Robinson before this past August, when the Padres made a trade for him from the Orioles. He was a catcher, and I wasn't really sure why we needed another one of those. While Nick Hundley (starter) and Rene Rivera (backup) weren't setting the world on fire at the plate, I figured that between the two of them, they could handle the catching duties for the last month and a half of the year just fine.
Since I've been on twitter, I've found myself a little more in tune with the day to day moves of the Padres, so when Robinson got called up from AAA Tucson, I was surprised by how excited he was.
I dug a little deeper into Robinson and found out that his next at-bat in the majors would be his first - he had yet to make his MLB debut.
"Okay," I thought. "Makes sense to be excited to get the call, you only get your first call once." Then I read an article on the Padres website and found out that Chris had been in the minors for...
I'll spare you the "can you imagine what that would be like" guessing on my part, or talking about how hard he must've worked, because I don't know the guy personally. What I can say is that as soon as he made it to the Padres, he became a guy that they were all rooting for. The very fact that you had the players (let alone the fans) cheering the guy on says something about his work and about his dedication to the game.
Anyways, Chris made it into a few games as a pinch hitter but went 0 for his first few games, until this happened...
Can't imagine there's a better way to get your first hit. More impressive than that, for me, was the post-game interview where he got to share a little bit about who he was and what he was all about.
Not sure you could ask for a more humble guy. Obviously he's not an all-star or anything, so it's not like he's got a lot of reason to have any kind of cocky attitude, but if you didn't see a guy who's in love with the game of baseball and is grateful for the journey he's been on, then I don't know what video you were watching.
Suddenly becoming a Chris Robinson fan, I realized that I needed to get a card of his. I settled on this for a buck or so from eBay. Good looking card, back when Bowman wasn't quite as boring as I find it now. More interesting than the front is the back. Great nuggets of info like "the first Canadian selected in the '05 draft", "Built like a catcher: strong and broad-shouldered…A take charge guy behind the plate." Both of which play second fiddle to the absolute gem in the last paragraph:
"Caught a ceremonial first pitch from an elephant named Laura prior to a West Michigan game on 8/12/05… Said Laura had pretty good life on her fastball."
I'm not sure where Robinson will be next season, but even if he doesn't crack the big leagues again, it's going to be hard to label him as a "guy who never really made it." Not to get all "Moonlight Graham" on everybody, but if you get to step up to the plate and take hacks in a major league game, that's a pretty big deal. Being able to hit one out of the park?
Sounds to me like you're living the dream.
If you're still with me after reading the post-within-a-post, thanks. So, back to my new favorite card. Let's take a look at the back, shall we?
I'll ignore the mention of Webb's ranking among White Sox pitching prospects - it's well known that their farm system is lousy, so comparative praise is pretty hollow. Let's check out Robinson's sentence on the back:
Robinson is a Canadian-born veteran who completed his nine-year climb through the Minors with a Padres debut on September 4, 2013.
Alright, nothing spectacular or noteworthy, I guess, other than the fact the everyone who seems to mention Robinson points out the fact that he was born in Canada. As if to say, "There's a country besides ours that likes baseball!" I would've preferred that they put his stats from his 12 ABs with the Padres last year, but a .167 average probably isn't the sexiest line to throw on a baseball card. The hit after his first hit was his last, a single against the Giants.
Anyways, maybe this seems weird, but I really love that Robinson was included in the Heritage set. As much as I love Chris Denorfia (who was left off the checklist), if it meant losing his spot to Robinson, I'm okay with that. As it turns out, Robinson retired in the offseason, so this is most likely his last baseball card, Padre or otherwise.
To commemorate this, I've decided that I would like to get as many copies of this card as possible.
I started off by buying an eBay lot of 20 for about a quarter each. Here's what they look like spread out and next to each other...
here's what they look like in a stack...
and here's what they look like in some weird kind of spirally-pile.
If you have any copies of this card that you're willing to part with, please let me know. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them (getting them signed would be cool, but I've still yet to send a single TTM autograph request, so I'm not sure I want to start by shipping a huge mailer over… to Canada).
Will probably put them in a box, but looking at pages and pages of the same card might be soothing, in a hypnotizing mind numbing way.
Anyways, hope everybody has a great Friday. Like I said, if you've got any spares of Heritage card #398, shoot me an email.