A blog about baseball cards... and the Padres

Monday, December 21, 2015

Top Five Khalil's!

When does Christmas break start?  Is it when you get out of school on Friday, or is it on Monday, which is the first day that you would normally be in school but you aren't because it's vacation time?  Eh, I guess either way you slice it, I'm officially on Christmas break (or Winter break, for those of you who don't live in Texas).

I'm in the process of packing up, getting ready for our move, so instead of showing any recent "gets," here's a draft from a long time ago that I'm finally getting around to finishing.

The Padres are not known for having great shortstops in their history.  I mean, I guess other than closers, they're not known for having great players at any position.  But shortstop has been particularly weak.  Khalil Greene ended his 5 plus years as a Padre with 84 homers, 328 RBI, and a .245/.302/.422 slash line.  Far from great, but his 27 HR 97 RBI season in 2007 was the best offensive season of a Padres shortstop, and while he would occasionally make a bad throw here or there, he also made some incredible plays with his glove.

While he didn't play with the Padres as long as Gerry Templeton or get the awards like Ozzie Smith, I'd put Khalil in the top 3 Padres SS, and I think you can make a case for him to be number 1, depending on the criteria (obviously, with total numbers as a Padre, it'd be Templeton, though Ozzie had the HOF career).

Anyways, here are my top five favorite Khalil Greene cards.

#5 - 2005 Topps #256
I think that the 2005 Topps design has a little too much going on here, with the doubling up of the player name (last name on the top, full name on the right side) and the team name (logo on the bottom, team name on the left).  Still, it's got the Rookie Cup logo, and I really like the photo they used here.  And while I'm not a fan of the "sand" color that the Padres used during the early 00s, I think the way Topps used the colors around the border is pretty good.

#4 - 2008 Allen & Ginter #74
Sure I guess this looks kinda like a high school yearbook photo, but I think this is about as close to a smile as I've ever seen from Khalil.  Dude was always very serious.

#3 - 2003 Topps Traded #T164
Did I just mention Serious Khalil?  Yeah, I love me some Serious Khalil.  Plus, I kinda dig the blue borders of 2003 Topps, and I'm pretty sure this is the only card I have from the 2003 Traded set.

#2 - 2003 Bowman Heritage #170
I'll admit that I almost put the Topps Traded card at number two, but what's better than a photo of Serious Khalil?  The answer is two photos of Serious Khalil.

#1 - 2005 Topps Gallery #43
Of all the weird, short lived, off shoot brands that Topps has put out over the years, I think that Topps Gallery has been one of the best looking.  Thick but not too thick card stock, overly glossy without looking gaudy, the Gallery cards looked like real art, the kind that you'd frame, not the kind that was drawn on a napkin.  One of the regrets I have from my Little League days is that I never wore eye black, so I never got to look as cool as Khalil Greene (although I had been out of Little League for almost a decade by the time Khalil made his MLB debut).

I think one of the reasons that Padres fans loved Khalil Greene so much is that they saw so much of themselves in him.  He was capable of some great things and always seemed to put in max effort, but then he'd also shoot himself in the foot by breaking his hand when he punched a wall after striking out.  Always on the cusp of greatness, but still falling short.  If there ever was a player that embodied the Padres as a franchise, it was probably Khalil Greene.

Here's a few Khalil highlights.  Hope everyone is having a great holiday break, or that you'll get a day off sometime if you're one of those types of people who doesn't get a two week break at the end of the year.

Friday, December 18, 2015

My Yangervis Solarte Cards

So, three posts ago, or *checks calendar* uh… two months ago, I mentioned that I would show off some Yangervis Solarte cards on this here blog.  Man, I am SO sorry to have kept you guys waiting for so long.  I apologize for the weeks of blogroll refreshing, only to be let down yet again by my absence.

Well, the wait is finally over!  After reading this post, you'll be able to resume your daily work and hygiene routines that you've been neglecting for too long.

Anyways, enough sarcasm, onto an exciting post as to why Yangervis Solarte is my favorite current player.  Yeah, you read that right, no jokes, I'm drawn to Yan.

I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that the (probably) only Archi Cianfrocco super collector's favorite current player also is a utility player (Solarte mostly played third last year, but spent a little time at all the infield positions, minus pitcher and catcher) with a name that's difficult to pronounce (Yawn-hair-viss So-lar-tay).  Plus, he's had a few clutch knocks, has made some pretty gritty plays, and he doesn't get cheated on any swings, he legitimately seems like he's swinging as hard as he can at everything.  He also seems to be having the most fun of anyone on the Padres, which is probably hard to do, since they suck.

Well, enough rambling, onto the cards.  One of my favorite Solarte cards is this minor league edition at the top.  The Round Rock Express are the closest baseball team (MLB or MiLB) to my home, so I go to a game or two a year.  I don't remember seeing Solarte there, but it was cool leafing through my minor league binder and seeing him after the trade that brought him to San Diego was finalized.

Solarte was traded to the Padres from the Yankees in 2014.  Chase Headley was still having delusions that he could regain his 2012 form, when he led the National League in RBI, and was asking for big money to resign in San Diego, so he was shipped off to New York in exchange for a journeyman minor leaguer who had gotten off to a hot start in 2014, but had started cooling down.

I think I got it in my head that there was no way Solarte would be able to earn a spot in 2014 Topps Update, so I resigned myself to pick up some cards of him as a Yankee from 2014 Donruss.  I actually dig these, despite the obvious lack of logos, and I decided to pick up some of the parallels as well.  I don't know if there are more of these, but I'm fine stopping here.

Did I say I didn't think he'd make the Topps Update checklist?  Well, I was wrong about that.  Topps surprised me that year and blessed us with this magnificent card of the Yan Man.  Nobody calls him that, I think.  I'll probably always have a soft spot in my heart for 2014 Topps, because despite one of the worst Topps designs in recent memory, many of the Padres cards show the #19 patch over the heart (shown on this card), and the star "JC" patch on the right shoulder (hard to see here).  RIP Tony Gwynn and Jerry Coleman.

When you're a collector of a player that nobody really cares about, you're able to snag fancy parallels at a pretty decent rate.  Here are a whole bunch of 2014 Topps Solarte's, including a photo variation, some serial numbered cards, and even some Topps Chrome cards.  I dunno if those were in the regular set or the retail set that came in a "megabox", but I don't care, they're mine now.

Solarte was ALSO included in the 2014 Heritage High Number set, where we're able to see even more plainly the glory of the #19 patch and the star JC patch.  Love it.  I was bummed to see that despite his awesomeness, Yan was left off the 2015 Heritage checklist, but he still got a card when he was included in the High Number set again.  I'll take it.

Lastly, we'll move on to what is easily one of my favorite cards of 2015, his Topps flagship card from Series 2.  I guess I can add 2015 Topps to the "soft spot in my heart" set, since the patches are still there (at least for the cards in Series 1 and 2).  Topps photos in flagship sometimes have the tendency to feel a little "samey" after a while, but this is definitely a unique shot.  Love it.

Yellow is probably the worst color of printing plate to get, but I still really dig this.  I contemplated putting together the rainbow for this card as well, but I dunno, I haven't really been feeling it lately.  To be honest, I'm getting really into building my record collection, and man, those are WAY more pricey than baseball cards, even fancy ones like this one.  Maybe once we move into our new house, I'll find a way to pick up a few more Solarte parallels.

I say that Yan is my favorite Padre, but I still feel a little guilty for breaking up with Andrew Cashner.  I'm sorry dude, but I've moved on.  I still flirt with the idea of being a huge Wil Myers fan, because he's a young, exciting player, and to be honest, if he hadn't gotten hurt a few weeks into the season, maybe I would be.  In the end, it just feels right.

Long live Yangervis!  Long live Solarte!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Happy December!

Well, it's the middle of December, and I'm posting for the first time this month.  Woof.

Yep, it's been a while since I last posted, and even longer since I was writing even semi-frequently, but things have been chugging along at a good clip in the "real life" column.

Besides celebrating my oldest son's third birthday, counting down the days until the two week break, and enjoying getting into the Christmas spirit, we are currently in the process of becoming first-time home buyers!

We weren't really expecting it, but after going to a drive-in movie in a town about a half hour north of us, my wife decided to take a look at the house prices in the area, and we found a house that had been on the market for less than a week that we really liked.  In some ways, it's been a whirlwind process, but in others, it seems to be still dragging on at a snails pace.  But, the expectation is that we'll have the keys within the week, so we can begin a few not-too-difficult renovations and be in a little after New Years.

It's been a little rainy and gloomy here in central Texas recently, but here was a picture we took of the house just before Thanksgiving break.  It's in a city of about 7,000 called Gatesville.  I already checked - no MLB players have been born or raised in Gatesville, though there's been a few NFLers.

The activities of house-buying and house-packing, combined with the daily rigors of staying on top of work, family, and church responsibilities have really limited my blogging as of late.  That, plus actively trying to save not spend as much have put me on a card-buying hiatus.  While I'm still perusing the blogosphere now and then, it's on the back burner for now.

I can't have a whole post about just non-baseball card-stuff, so here's Phil Plantier's "Cyberstats" card from 1995 Topps, complete with a Tony Gwynn cameo.  This is a pretty rad card.

Let's see, is there anything else I wanna write about before signing off?  Oh!  Did y'all see that the Padres have some new uniforms?  I know that with a team that has as much of an identity crisis as the Padres, a uniform change really can't be "news", but I LOVE the return to brown.

They'll be wearing the brown uniforms (complete with brown and yellow hats) on Friday home games. These look sweet.  They also added a new "Navy camo" to their repertoire, which will be worn on the majority of Sunday home games.  While there is still a lot of blue in the rest of the Padres uniforms, I think that these are a start in the right direction - hopefully the brown will be more prevalent in forthcoming designs.

Oh, and Zack Grienke signed with the Diamondbacks for 206 million dollars.  That is an insane amount of money.  I think I read somewhere that it's possible that he makes a million dollars a start this upcoming season (or maybe it was over the lifetime of the contract).  Regardless, if this is true, it would mean that he makes enough to pay off our house (we will be buying it for $77,000) after pitching less than an inning.


Oh, like I said, we'll be moving in sometime after New Years, and we'll get our mail forwarded to our new address, but I'll be sure to send a mass email to the people I've traded with so you can continue to send me those worthless Padre cards that come across your path.

Have a great Monday!

Cameo - Word Up