A blog about baseball cards... and the Padres

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Top Ten Trevors

So in honor of Trevor Hoffman's entrance into the Padres Hall of Fame, yesterday I posted all of Trevor Hoffman's Topps base cards.  A Marlins card, a bunch of Padres, and then a few Brewers at the end.

Today, I'll show my top ten favorite Trevor Hoffman cards - from his Padres days.  Obviously, it's pretty cool to have some cards from Trevor's days as a Reds prospect, but for today, we'll stick to when he was pitching with an "SD" on his cap.

#10 - 2000 Skybox Dominion #118
I almost overlooked this one when digging through my 100+ cards of Hoffy.  A pretty understated card, with a close up of Trevor with his high leg kick and against a black and white background.  No borders = a more awesome photo.

#9 - 1995 Collector's Choice SE (silver signature) #355
I have a few cards that feature Hoffman batting, but this one is probably my favorite.  He racked up a whopping 36 plate appearances in his career, compiling four hits (two doubles), five RBI, and a run scored, good for a .118 average.

#8 - 1997 Upper Deck #230
Upper Deck is featured pretty prominently in this countdown, and I don't know, I guess I just really like their photography.  Nothing too exciting about this card, but it just looks good.  I also liked how '97 Upper Deck had the little blurbs on the front, along with the date the photo was taken.

#7 - 1998 Upper Deck #495
I can't really tell what Trevor's got in his right hand, but I imagine it's something that he signed for some fan, and he's handing it back up to them in the stands.  Along with a smiling Hoffman, we also get a shot of the good old Jack Murphy Stadium.  I'm probably in the extreme minority, but I really loved that stadium and wish they still played there.  Don't get me wrong, Petco is beautiful, but it (obviously) more expensive and in a not-as-easy-to-get-to-and-park part of town.  Heavy dose of nostalgia there as well.

#6 - 2002 Topps Gallery #88
Topps Gallery seems like a pretty cool set, even though I've only gotten these cards in trade.  I wasn't collecting baseball cards my senior year of high school.

#5 - 2004 Upper Deck #230
Again, Upper Deck comes through with some interesting photography here.  Not sure how often the team's closer hangs out in the dugout, so I'm guessing that this is a pre game shot.

#4 - 1994 Collector's Choice #494
The front of this one isn't bad, but I like the back of this one more.  It's actually flipped around in my my binder.  Gotta love a "grips" photo, complete with a high quality glamour shots background.  Don't let 'em see ya smile, Trev.

#3 - 1998 Collector's Choice #222
This might seem a little low for some, as it's probably the one that I've seen the most on other blogs.  While he wouldn't be the first All-Star pitcher who wore number 51 to fool around with a camera, I'm pretty sure that he's just goofing around, he's not making a second career out of it.

#2 - 1994 Stadium Club #312
While Hoffman didn't make his "ML debut" with the Padres (he pitched in 28 games with the Marlins in '93), this is still a great shot.  With the brim of his hat pulled down and the sun casting shadows, Hoffy looks like a real gunslinger.  The orange line of the Jack Murphy outfield wall and the blurry victim batter in the foreground makes this one of my favorites.

#1 - 1997 Collector's Choice #212
So many things I love about this one.  First off, I'm pretty sure that I was at the game in '96 when fans were allowed to go onto the field and take pictures with the players along the warning track (though it might've been a different year).  Second, so much good stuff going on in the background, from the palm trees, the scoreboard that says that it's photo day, and especially the team slogan in the hanging from the wall: "Keep the Faith".  Still a motto used by us diehards, commonly abbreviated on twitter as #KTF.  Thirdly, a brilliantly posed Hoffman in the foreground.  While he looks like he might be hamming it up a bit here, I always thought of it as a "Welcome to the madhouse" pose that was meant to intimidate opposing teams.  You know, because they probably take scouting reports on baseball cards.

Anyways, I'm sure that there are a lot of other Hoffman's out there that might deserve a spot on this list, but either they're not in my collection, or the moon wasn't in the right spot - these rankings change on my mood.

Except for those top two.  Don't foresee any changes happening there for a while.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Topps Timeline: Trevor Hoffman

Today, Trevor Hoffman is being inducted into the Padres Hall of Fame.  He had his number retired last year, so I guess a Hall of Fame induction is the next step?  The homer in me wants to say that he's the greatest closer of all time, but it's hard to argue against Mariano Rivera.

Let's take a quick look at the numbers, using a quick home-made chart with help from the omniscient baseball-reference.com:

Alright, so Mo's got the edge in every category besides blown saves, but the one defense that all Padre fans will defend to the end is that Rivera's Yankees were always better teams than Hoffman's Padres, so he had more save opportunities.  Might've also had a little more margin for error at the end of the game, but I don't want to try to dig through those numbers.

Overall, Rivera has a lower ERA (as well as WHIP and FIP, though not shown here) than Hoffy, and his save percentage is lower (though still pretty close).  It looks even closer when looking at the "162 game average" that Baseball Ref does:
Kinda weird to think that on average, both Mo and Hoffy would only have 39 saves a year, but I think this paints a pretty clear picture: Mo is the best, but the difference between the two is slighter than many would think.

I'll also concede that part of what makes Rivera great is his work in the post season, which I'm not including here.

After all, this isn't about who's got the better numbers, it's about the impact that Hoffman has had on the Padres.  He is, after all, the greatest Padre who's not named Anthony.

And so, without further ado, here are all of Trevor Hoffman's Topps cards.  Well, I mean, I guess I already started at the very top, with his first card from his Marlins days, so we'll look at the rest of them now.

I'd say that the '99 card (middle row, far right) is my favorite, with Trevor's signature leg kick, though the lack of border make it look more like an Upper Deck card than a Topps card.  The '02 card, featuring him signing for some fans is a cool shot, as well as the one next to it, with the ball hurtling through the foreground.

Did it seem weird that if he really had a "signature leg kick", as I mentioned above, that it was only shown once on his first ten cards?  Well, the final nine made up for it, showing it five times.  The worst card here is easily the '10 card, bottom row middle, which features a weak design and shows too much of the Brewers uniform.  Hoffman as a Brewer?  Maybe this is what Braves fans felt like when they saw Greg Maddux as a Padre.  Still, I think my favorite card from here is his first as a Brewer.  Really great shot.

Here's the back of Trevor's last card, from 2011.  Hoffman didn't pitch in 2011, so this shows all of his career stats.  Every one of his 601 saves.  Pretty rad, if you ask me.  Even though I can't make this picture any bigger, I'm still squinting to see it all.  He only led the league in saves twice.

Rivera led the AL in saves three times.

One upped again!

Seriously, though, Trevor Hoffman is a beast.  Will be very disappointed if he's not a first ballot Hall of Famer.  Regardless, he's the best Padre alive and San Diegans have been fortunate to watch such a great player over the years.

One edge Hoffman has on Rivera: AC/DC > Metallica

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

GWYNNsday Everyday

I've maintained that the best Tony Gwynn cards are the ones that feature Mr. Padre with a bat.  Sure, there were plenty of other aspects of his game that were worth looking at (speed, especially in the 80s, and he won five Gold Glove awards), but, yeah, the dude was a beast with the bat.

Still, that's not to say that there's only one way to feature the greatest Padre of all time…

If you can name a set with better photography than 1993 Upper Deck, then either I have never heard of it, or you are a big fat liar.  The "On Deck" cards were especially sweet looking, and the fact that Tony is sitting in front of a bunch of empty seats seemed pretty appropriate based on the weak attendance of those early 90's Padres.

This card came to me from my buddy Mark at This Way To The Clubhouse.  He send over a team bag full of Padres goodness, and although I already had this one, it gave me a good reason to feature it for a GWYNNsday.  The only thing that I noticed after staring at it for a bit is that Tony's bill seems pretty flat for me.

While I'm at it, I'll show this one as well, which was Tony Gwynn card #555 in my collection.  Kind of a fun number, right?  Pretty shiny and Bowman-y, but it's got Gwynn and it looks like he just slapped a ball through the 5.5 hole, so you can't go wrong.

I wish I had saved the note that Mark left, but he said that everyday should be GWYNNsday, and that sounds pretty good to me.  The only way to make it better would be to move it towards the end of the week, but I guess it's a good way to break it up.

Two sweet looking Gwynn cards in one day?  Go and have a great GWYNNsday, I've done my part.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Have You Ever?

Have you ever bid on a card on eBay that you really want, and then go searching through the seller's other listings to see if there's anything else worth picking up for the combined shipping?

Sure you have.  Everybody's a sucker for combined shipping.

Well, I found a great card that I needed to work towards finishing my '74 "Washington Nat'l Lea." error card team set.  The price was under five bucks shipped, and finding another card that looked pretty sweet, I put in minimum bids on both with a few hours left.

Turns out that the card that I got outbid on the card I initially wanted, and ended up with the "extra" card that now wasn't really the add-on I thought it was.  Not that I'm complaining too much...

I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure that this is the only card that I have that has three Hall of Famers in it, and that it's vintage makes it even greater.  It's pretty well centered as well, I'm not sure what my scanner was thinking with the way it cropped it here.  Pretty good corners as well, if that's something your into.

I chose it because I'm a fan of Harmon Killebrew, as far as being a fan of players who played decades before I was born go.  That Carl Yastrzemski and Frank Robinson are also on the card is a pretty rad bonus in my opinion.

Here's the back, showing off the centering a little more.  Interesting that Topps decided to give us the top 50 RBI leaders for each league, even though the 50th guy had 49 RBI less than every guy on the front of the card.  I'd be lying if I said I recognized more than half of these names, but hey, the Padres wouldn't be in the majors for two more seasons, and I wouldn't be born for another 17 years.

While I'm at it, have you ever compared vintage league leader cards to modern ones?

Here is the one of the few league leader cards that I have in my Padres collection.  By some incredible, miraculous fluke, Chase Headley led the National League in RBI in 2012 with a career average-defying 115.  The rest of the RBI totals in his career: 64, 58, 50, 44, and 38.  This year, he's got 42, so we'll see where his last half-season as a Padre lands among his career bests.

Anyways, what I'm saying is that there is a pretty big difference between Yaz/Killebrew/Frank Robinson and Headley/Braun/Soriano.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Music Monday: 1st Day of School

Quick post before I head out the door for the first day of school.

This is one of my newer Tony Gwynn cards, from this year's Donruss set.  For a set that pays homage to the 90's, I thought this looked really good.  It's numbered 622/999, though I couldn't find anything cool to tie that into.  The green border looks good, despite not working with the Padres colors, and I like refraction on the card (though it's not easy to see here).

Figured it'd be good to start the school year off with a card of the greatest Padre ever, and just like he was a dominator in the late 80's and 90's, I plan on dominating the school year.

In a good way.  Teaching well and stuff.

Anyways, this is a song that has been in my iTunes library ever since I heard that it was a favorite of Anthony Keith Gwynn's.  I've actually listened to it a lot and is a favorite with my kids as well.

Have a great day, especially if you or someone you know is going back to school!

Word Up by Cameo

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Minor Details...

After posting about the most recent minor league card additions to the collection (including a pair of Kouzmanoffs), I receive not one, but two envelopes of plain white chock full of even more minor league goodness.

Y'all are all right in my book.

This first batch was from Gavin at Baseball Card Breakdown.  A good chunk of 2011 Heritage Minors cards, including the newest former minor leaguer Rymer Liriano.  Dude was raking in the minors this year, but not as hot in the bigs.  Obviously plenty of time, but I guess it's easy to get excited seeing how impactful some rookies can be (e.g. Trout, Baez, etc.).

Anyways, I've been thinking about starting a poll on the blog to see what the favorite uniform of the Padres was.  I think the Lake Elsinore Storm jersey is pretty cool, but I don't really like the hat.  Supposedly it's a big seller, but having two pairs of eyes on one head seems kinda dumb to me.  Could just be me, of course.

Gav went a little off book and added this Robbie Erlin card from his days in the Rangers farm system.  Jerry Sullivan is in AAA El Paso, but isn't as highly rated a prospect as he once was (no longer in Padres Top 20).

Besides wearing San Antonio Missions jerseys, these three players also sharte this fact in common: Neither has played a single game for the Padres this year.  Casey Kely had Tommy John surgery and is still recovering (there have been setbacks along the way, I believe).  James Darnell and Jaff Decker are no longer with the club.  Decker was traded to Pittsburgh, and I think Darnell was just always injured and eventually hung 'em up.

They weren't all Heritage Minors, however, as he included these Tri-Star cards.  Neither Danny Payne or Kyler Burke made it to the majors, but Sean O'Sullivan did.  He's shown here in a Cedar Rapids Kernels uniform, which is my second Kernels card (the other being Alexi Amarista).

Next up, a batch of cards from Weston over at Fantastic Catch.  Weston lives near enough to Fort Wayne to catch a Tin Cap game now and then, and this is the second batch of minor league cards he's sent me.  Great kid, that Weston.

Mallex Smith is a guy that is really exciting to watch.  Got to see him play in Lake Elsinore a few weeks ago, and the dude is a blur on the base paths.  He has 86 steals so far this season (48 with Fort Wayne, 38 with Lake Elsinore), to go along with 37 extra base hits and a .308 average.  Fifth round draft pick in 2012, expect to see him at Petco Park in a few years.  I guess I'll havta wait.

When I first saw this card, I was really confused.  Why does "Water Geyser" get it's own card?  I had to flip to the back to figure out what this had to do with Fort Wayne baseball.

Turns out that they got some pretty decent publicity for the ballpark malfunction.  Not sure how it's possible to just "kick open a water valve", but it happened.

There were more real baseball players as well.  Both Diego Goris and Dane Phillips have been promoted from Fort Wayne, with Goris currently in San Antonio and Phillips in Lake Elsinore.  The name TinCaps comes from the "cap" that Johnny Appleseed supposedly wore.  I actually read a book to my kids before bed a few nights ago about Johnny Appleseed, and it mentions that he died in Fort Wayne, and the TinCaps were the first thing I thought of (the second thing I thought was "Do I need to explain anything about dying to my three year old?").

My favorite card of the PWE, however, was this Gabriel Quintana card.  Seeing as how I have an autographed bat of his now, I guess I'll become a super collector of his.  I now have ALL of his cards!  Well, both of them, but still.  Not that I plan on selling the bat once he becomes the next Miguel Cabrera, it'd just be cool to say that I saw him play when he was still in the minors.

Thanks Gavin and Weston for these major additions to my minors binder!  

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cashner Day

Today is not just a regular old Saturday.

Today is the first day that Andrew Cashner will pitch for the Padres since going on the disabled list on June 20th.

It has seemed like forever.

At first, the brilliance of Jesse Hahn and Odrisamer Despaigne softened the blow, and Tyson Ross has had a few dominant nights as well for the Padres pitching staff.  But Hahn has fatigued down the stretch in his rookie year, and Odie seems to have been figured out by the rest of the league.  Ross just lost a 2-1 battle with Clayton Kershaw, in which he pitched a complete game and lost on a two run homer by Padre killer Justin Turner.

In short, I am beyond excited that Cashner is back on the mound.

Am I getting my hopes up?  Am I destined for disappointment from a guy who hasn't stayed healthy a year in his career?  Probably.  But it's where I'm at.

I recently added this Cashner card to my collection.  It's yet another parallel to this year's Topps set.  To be honest, I'm not sure of the exact name for it, but it's kind of a gold foil and they're available when you complete the Topps Power Players set.  I scored this one off eBay for a decent price, and added it to my Cashner rainbow.

Oh, here's the back.  Kinda hard to see, but this one is numbered 75/75, which I thought was pretty cool.

Here's the rest of the aforementioned rainbow.

The green one was one that I pulled out of one of my first packs of this year's Topps, but the rest have all come via eBay.  I also recently picked up the orange parallel, in the bottom right, which is from the factory set and is serial numbered.

The rest of these are serial numbered as well.  I flipped the last one over, which is the clear acetate and is numbered to 10.

Enough parallels for ya?  The only other cards I've done stuff like this for have been Chris Denorfia cards, and since he was usually only included in the Update set, there were usually less of them, because that's how Update tends to be.

Anyways, I guess if you're going to make a comeback, you could do worse than starting off agains the Diamondbacks, one of the few teams with a worse record than the Padres.  But they lost to 'em last night, and Chase Field is a hitters park, so hopefully Cashner gets back on the horse and has a dominant outing.

Or at least stays healthy.  Really not sure if I can take another injury.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Fine GWYNNsday!

For a guy who has 552 Tony Gwynn cards, this might come as a surprise:

I rarely, if ever, buy Tony Gwynn cards.

There are a few reasons for this.

Firstly, I'm not in a rush.  The number of Tony Gwynn cards out there is easily in the thousands, especially counting variations and whatnot.  Without any sort of finish line in sight, my pace has become leisurely.

Secondly, paying even a fair price for every Gwynn would be too expensive.  With the sheer number of Anthony Keith's out there, I really need to get bang for my buck.  If there's a Gwynn lot for cheap and I don't have most of 'em, I'll take a look.  That doesn't happen very often.

Okay, never.  It's never happened.

Thirdly, and probably most importantly, however, is that I have gotten so many Gwynns from the readers of this blog and other bloggers that it's really just insane.  I would say that easily 90% of my Gwynns have come in trades or just straight up charity.  That is pretty awesome, and if it's not enough incentive to start up your own blog and join the community, I don't know what is.

However, there are some Gwynn's that I'll pick up on my own from time to time.  Ones that I expect others might want to hang on to for themselves if they were to come across them.  Usually the newer stuff.

Here is, as far as I'm aware, the newest Tony Gwynn card in existence.  From this year's Topps Finest, a "Finest Vintage" insert.  This card didn't scan very well, as it is very refractory and not at all as flat and boring as it looks here.  Still, theres an image of Mr. Padre that I don't recognize, which is great, and I like that it's from the Padres uniforms of my youth (though I also love the brown and yellow as well).  Topps did a great job with this one, and I picked it up for less than a buck, along with the Tommy Medica autograph I showed yesterday.  I'm pretty sure that makes up two thirds of the Padres cards in that set, which is pretty sad.

Anyways, here's the back.  Bonus points for using the word "cleverest", and a million bonus points for including a stat from my all time favorite stat category, which I have dubbed "Tony Gwynn really hated striking out".

Tony won eight batting titles and averaged a mere 25 strikeouts per season.

We are currently in the middle of August in 2014, and there are already 376 players this season who have more than 25.  Rookie sensation Javier Baez has 24 strikeouts, and he has only played in FOURTEEN games.

Yeah, for a guy with 3,141 hits, a career .338 batting average, and EIGHT batting titles, knowing that he only struck out 434 times is pretty cool.  That's 4.24% of the time that he stepped up to the plate.

Tony Gwynn really hated striking out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sign Here...

Phew!  Yesterday was my first day back at work since June, and while it was good to be back, I felt a little more tired than expected.  Not quite back at the top of my game, yet.  By this time next week, I'll be with about 20 or so 1st graders, so I need to get with the program, quickly.  Fortunately, my classroom isn't ever elaborately designed (at least at the beginning of the year - we add on stuff as we learn), so it shouldn't take long to whip everything into shape.

One thing that I have a hard time remembering to do during the trainings before school starts is finding the sign-in sheet to record that I'm there.  As if I'd be anywhere else!  No trust.

Well, as I was signing my name on the dotted line, it got me thinking of some other nice signatures that I had come across in the past month or so that I hadn't posted here yet.

First up, the newest card of the bunch, from 2014 Topps Finest, Tommy Medica.  You'll be forgiven for not knowing Medica's name, though he has become a fan favorite among guys for his left field power and among the women because he seems to have more buttons on his jersey undone as the game wears on.  He also has an autographed card in '14 Donruss, but this one looks a little better and is an on-card auto, so I went with this one.  The Padres don't have any base cards in the Finest checklist, but they at least have an autograph.

I've been trying to find a Cory Spangenberg autographed card ever since I said hi to him and got his autograph on a ball at Spring Training in 2012.  Finally found one that slipped under the $5 mark, so I snapped it up.  Might have to do with Spangenberg slipping off the list of the Padres best 20 prospects, despite having a pretty good season at AA San Antonio (batting .333 in 231 AB's, with 21 extra base hits and 14 steals).

Yeah, yeah, another month, another Andrew Cashner autograph.  Cashner pitched for AAA El Paso last night, and while he wasn't great (3 runs in 5 innings, 1 walk, 4 K's), it looks like he might be done with rehab trips and join the big league team soon.  Here he is during his days in the Cubs organization, with the Tennessee Smokies.  Gotta love the Pro Debut set.

Alright, I really considered giving this one it's own post, because it is now one of the prized possessions in my collection: a Jerry Coleman autograph.  Here's an autograph that I really wish I could've gotten in person, but since the Colonel has passed on, I'll go with a certified auto.  This one was only eight bucks, and though it breaks my five dollar rule, it's the lowest I've ever seen a Coleman certified auto go for, and I had some Paypal money from some cards I sold, so it was easily worth it.

That I saved this card for last, especially given the Coleman auto, shows how much I love this one.  Trevor Hoffman will be a Hall of Famer (first ballot in my opinion, but who knows with the geniuses in Cooperstown), and after realizing that Hoffy is now the greatest living Padre (people who think it's Dave Winfield aren't really Padre fans), I figured I needed to see if I could find a certified auto of his as well.  Dude has a pretty cool looking signature if you ask me, and I nabbed it despite another eight dollar price tag for the same reasons listed above.  The '96 Leaf set is chock full with great autographs, but Trevor's is easily the best of the Padres (well, besides Archi Cianfrocco).

After all, I've been a fan of Trevor's for a while (that's me on the right, with my brothers, Tyler on the left, and Sam in the middle).  I'm pretty sure this was taken in '96, but it could've been the year before or after.

Have a great Tuesday, eat some tacos for me.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to the Minors...

Man, I can't believe it' already Monday. By the time this is posted, I'll be on my way to school for a week of training before school's back in session next week.  Should be a good year, I'm still teaching 1st grade, which I love, my team is the same (minus one teacher, who switched schools, but wasn't replaced due to enrollment numbers), and we have a new principal, who I worked with in summer school a year ago who I think will be awesome.

As far as the blog goes, I've been slacking on two things that I haven't put enough of a priority on: my vacation wrap up, and my farewell to Chris Denorfia.  The first one I might just scrap as a whole "post" and try to parcel it out into a few posts (while not overly exciting, some might be amused by what we wore to the Padre game that we went to - which the Padres won in a walk off!).  The second one I might just be ignoring because I'm still in the denial stage.  I'm not sure.

Anyways, I really wanted to do a post about some actual baseball cards, nothing about me personally, so here it goes.

I love minor league team sets, but they can get kind of pricey.  Bought at the stadiums, they're not cheap, but online, they're even more expensive - even singles.  But, since my birthday was last week, I didn't mind picking up a few from the same seller on eBay for the discount on shipping.

The first of the quartet is Matt Kata, from the 2011 team set.  Kata made it to the bigs in 2003 with Arizona and spent time with the Phillies, Rangers, Pirates, and Astros.  Played in 278 games and logged a .239 average with 12 homers and 63 RBI.  The reason I picked this one up was because after moving to Texas in 2010, we lived in Round Rock, and one night on the way to Walmart, I passed Dell Diamond and saw that the game was in extra innings.  After getting the stuff I needed, I decided to swing by and catch the end of the game, which featured a Matt Kata walk off single.  A pretty fun game, and one of my best baseball moments in Texas.

The Kouz needs no introduction, of course.  After playing in the bigs from '06-'11, he was released and signed minor league contracts with a few teams, trying to make it back.  This year, he burst onto the scene with the Rangers in a big way for 13 games, before suffering a back injury and is now out the rest of the year.  This is last year's card with the New Orleans Zephyrs, the Marlins AAA affiliate.  While a boring uniform does little to enhance a boring looking card, I was stoked to add this to my Kouz collection.

As generic as the last Kouz card was, this one was a thousand times better.  A horizontal shot of the Mashin' Macedonian when he was with the Omaha Storm Chasers in 2012, the Royals AAA team.  Sweet looking swing, along with some candid shots of fans in the background.  Plus, the Storm Chasers did it right with the team logo on the bottom.  A little crowded, perhaps, on a horizontal card, but still, pretty good for a minor league team set.

Lastly, we have the newest card of the bunch: Gabriel Quintana, this year's card from the Lake Elsinore Storm.  I actually went to a Storm game while on vacation in San Diego, but the team set was $10, and I didn't see it until I had picked up three older team sets for the same price.  Still, I wanted Quintana's card, as he hit a 417 foot bomb in the game we saw - monster shot, which helped the Storm beat the Inland Empire 66ers.  GQ (I'm not sure if anyone calls him that) is from the Padres Dominican Academy, and has been with the organization since he was 17.  He's now 21 and with the High A team, hitting a decent .263 with a not-too-shabby 17 homers and 79 RBI.  His strikeout to walk ratio is abysmal (136/21), but he's still young and is the Padres #20 prospect, according to MLB.com.

Having his card was also a necessity, since I also have…

…an autographed bat of his!  Not the greatest picture, but I picked it up from the Storm team shop for $25 bucks.  It's game used and broken, though it's really a half-inch sliver out of the handle with a hairline crack that runs about two thirds up the middle of the bat.  Should've taken a full on picture of it, but it still holds together pretty well.  They had a few others as well, all originally marked for sale at $40, but I guess since it's nearing the end of the season (or there weren't many buyers?), they were discounted.  Quintana was the only name I recognized, and this bat was in the best shape.  I had to pay cash for it, since it went directly to the player, which I thought was pretty cool.

We went to the game on my birthday, and since I had gotten some birthday money, I counted it as a birthday present for myself (although, since I payed for my brother Sam's ticket, my brother Ammon had to spot me a few bucks, so I guess it's also from him, as well).  My wife thought it was a weird purchase, since he's basically (right now) a no-name prospect and she didn't know where I was going to put it (I want to put it somewhere on display in my classroom, maybe hanging on a wall above some of my baseball stuff or something), but I figured there's worse ways to spend $25 on your birthday.

Anyways, yeah, minor league cards are pretty cool.  My minor league cards of Archi Cianfrocco are some of my favorites in my entire collection, and hopefully someday I'll get a few of Tony Gwynn, though I'm not planning on that happening soon.

Hope everybody's Monday is a good one, wether you're excited to get your kids out of the house for the fall, you'll be heading back to the classroom to study, or even if your life is completely unaffected by school.