A blog about baseball cards... and the Padres

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Ambassador

Have you voted for the All-Star Game yet?  If you're a Cubs fan, the answer is probably yes, and probably as many times as possible.  

With the Padres hosting the All-Star Game coming to San Diego, they've chosen a few "Ambassadors" to represent or bring attention to the different events during the break.  Earlier this year, they announced that former Padres Trevor Hoffman and Dave Winfield would be All-Star Game Ambassadors.  This made sense, since they are two of the greatest living Padres (RIP Tony Gwynn).  However, a few weeks ago, it was announced that Wil Myers would also be an All-Star ambassador.

It feels (at least to me) that this is a desperate attempt to make Wil Myers an All-Star.  It'd be weird to have an All-Star ambassador that wasn't actually… um, an All-Star

There's a lot of competition for National League first basemen.  Myers is top 5 in almost all stat categories, but there's basically three guys that have a slight offensive edge on him: Paul Goldschmidt and Anthony Rizzo (no big surprises there), and Brandon Belt, who's made big strides.  His first five seasons were solid but not great (slashing .271/.347/.456), he's been on a tear in the first half (.304/.408/.532).

Anyways, I'm droning on and on here, but I'll say this: Wil Myers is awesome, he leads first basemen in WAR (well, tied at 2.9 with Goldschmidt), and it's weird having my favorite player be someone who's actually really good (no offense to Chris Denorfia or Yangervis Solarte).

Anyways, here's a bunch of Wil Myers cards.

Wil's an exciting player to watch, but these are two very unexciting photos here.  That's Heritage for you, I guess.

Hey!  There's a smile!  Man, I was a big fan of Stadium Club last year, but the checklist for this year's set was released, and Wil's name wasn't on it.  He had a rough first year as a Padre, mostly due to injury, so it seems like he wasn't found worthy of a card.  That's a bummer.

Back to close-lipped, no smiling Wil.  I really like the blue parallels from Topps Opening Day, but I'll admit that the colored parallels from this year's Topps cards are pretty… interesting.

Here's a side by side of Wil cards with last year's flagship design.  The base card on the left looks like a pretty bad photoshop (though I've been wrong before), but I really like the Topps Chrome card.  It's a spring training photo, as evidenced by the sand coloring on the jersey.  Seriously, I thought they got rid of the sand coloring on the regular season jerseys a few years ago, but for whatever reason, they keep putting it on the spring training jerseys.  Ugh.

Aside from the Stadium Club cards, these are probably my two favorites.  It's another spring training shot on the Archives card on the left.  Like Stadium Club, Wil was left off the Archives checklist this year.  The Bowman Chrome looks very sharp, definitely a keeper.

I'm not really much of a relic card guy, but I have two Myers relics.  I'm a little mixed on this one, since it's obvious that the Myers side of the relic is from his time in Tampa Bay.  I'd assume that the Justin Upton swatch is probably from Atlanta as well.  Still, a pretty cool concept, I dig it.

Why so serious, Wil?  I was surprised how cheap this was, though Myers autos are still a bit out of my price range.  Especially lame, considering he has one of the laziest signatures I've ever seen.

Anyways, yeah, there's a lot of Wil Myers cards.  I considered chasing a few of his Tampa Bay cards, but I dunno, I guess I just prefer the "SD" on the hat than the "TB".  Although if it's a Panini card that doesn't have logos on it, it's a little more palatable.

Oh, I forgot why I named this post "The Ambassador".  I'm not sure when this happened, but Padres Twitter has given Wil the nickname of "White Queso" after an interview with some jerky San Diego radio guys where he said that he liked the Mexican food in North Carolina better than in San Diego, because they don't have white queso in California.  While the idea that Charlotte has better Mexican food than San Diego sounds pretty laughable, I like that he stuck up for his hometown cuisine.

After being named an All-Star Game ambassador, a few fans suggested that he be dubbed "The Ambassador".  While I'm not great at bestowing nicknames, I feel like this sounds better than "White Queso", though the origin story is less interesting.

Well, whatever he's called, I really like watching Wil Myers play baseball.  And I like his cards.  

The end.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Seeing Double

Alright, I still haven't sent out the dozen or so PWE's I was planning on, but trust me, everything is all sealed up and ready to go, just need to add addresses and stamps.

While I was digging into the Archives I busted a week or so ago, I remember pulling the Tyson Ross card and thinking "man, it seems like Tyson Ross looks the same on all of his cards."  Well, after digging through my binders, it turns out that I was completely wrong, he actually has a pretty good variety of photographs on his cards, for the most part.

However, I was right in assuming that I'd seen this card before.

What tipped me off most was the Tony Gwynn #19 patch on Tyson's Archives card on the right.  The Padres wore this after Tony's death in 2014, so it makes sense that it was on lots of 2015 cards (like the Topps flagship card on the left).  However, seeing as how it's now two years removed from the '14 season, I figured this was a photo they had lying around.

I know Night Owl has done extensive posts about the number of Jackie Robinson cards that have the same picture on them, and I figured that, though it wasn't to the same extreme degree, that Topps had done that with Tony Gwynn as well.

Again, I was wrong.  While I found a handful of cards that I could match up to another card, I couldn't find any groups of three or four that were the same.

Here's a pair from 2013 Allen & Ginter and a mini from the 2013 Topps set.  Man, I remember not being a huge fan of those minis at the time, but after ripping a few packs of 2016 Topps Series 2 (which I found to be pretty boring), I think maybe I should've given them a bit more love.  I especially dig the mini because you can see the green palm trees and orange from the outfield wall in the background. 

Maybe I've thought that they were always just copying themselves because of the year they released their duplicates.  The previous cards were both released in 2013, and this pair was released in 2014.  While I'm one of the few who likes the '89 Topps design more than the '72 Topps design, I liked the '72 minis better.  Gypsy Queen is usually one of my least favorite releases of the year, but the GQ card here looks better than this mini.

In 2012, I claimed this Allen & Ginter Tony Gwynn card to be my Card of the Year, and when I saw the All-Star card on the right come out in 2013 Archives, I still loved it.  The empty seats don't quite look as good as the white behind the A&G card, but neither looks as good as the original card it was taken from (1985 Topps Glossy send in).

The "Before They Were Great" cards are pretty… uh, great, if you ask me, and I'm surprised that they came in the 2014 flagship set.  The "Cut to the Chase" ones are pretty good as well, though I'm not always a huge fan of die-cuts.

Anyways, I'm sure every collector (well, at least those who collect modern day cards) has a gripe about re-using photos, but I guess it could be worse.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Best Card Shop Ever?

How many card shops have you been to?  I remember hitting up three or four during my childhood in San Diego, then one more in my wife's hometown that I hit occasionally when we go back to SD to visit, and two since living in Texas.  Is that a large or a small number for a collector?

Well, a few months ago, I was running a Craigslist errand up to Dallas (we got a very nice, clean, free couch, just had to drive two and a half hours away to pick it up), and on the way back down, I was able to track one down in Plano, TX called "Triple Cards".  Man, this place was awesome.  If you can't tell, the wall of red and blue are boxes of singles labeled by set and year.  It's a set builder's paradise.  Incredible selection.

Unfortunately, I hadn't been planning on going to a card shop, so I was underprepared, and I'm not a set builder in any set of the word (well, at least since I finished the '91 Fleer set), but I remembered that I was trying to get all the "Masked Marauders" cards from '98 Collector's Choice, and I snagged this Javy Lopez to get me to within ONE of the group of nine cards.  The ninth one is Ivan Rodriguez, and this being the middle of Rangers country, I wasn't surprised that it was already gone.

While I was trotting around, a pair of older guys and I were chatting and seeing my brown Padres hat, asked if I was a San Diego fan.  I said that I was, and he gifted me this James Shields card that he had just pulled from a pack of 2016 Donruss.  Shields has already been traded and didn't leave on great terms, but I'll hang onto this card as a memory of my first trip here.

Even though my collection is Padre-dominated, since this was a legit card shop and had great deals on vintage, I had to browse around and pick up some fun stuff, even if it wasn't necessarily in my wheelhouse.  Here's a handful of '75 Topps minis.  Always fun to add to my Harper and Foster connections (the names of my two oldest kids), and this is my first Spaceman Lee card as well.

I decided to get another Spaceman card as well, as my fingers fluttered over to the row of '71 Topps cards, my favorite Topps set.  I already had the Gaston, but it's a slight upgrade for ten cents, and the horribly printed Twins rookie card was a must.  Jerry Grote is a Texas kid (or was, I guess, he is no spring chicken these days), so I figured it'd be good karma to pick this one up as well.  None of these cards were more than 75 cents, and most were less than a quarter.

Still, despite some fun pick ups, I was feeling that my trip was still lacking a big score.  I wandered around the store and was just about to leave, until I saw a rack full of binders.  In my limited experience, those were usually sets or inserts, and a little pricier than others, so I didn't give them much of a look, when I caught something out of my peripheral:

The name "Tony Gwynn".

I stepped back and picked it up, and lo and behold, it was a three inch binder FULL of Tony Gwynn cards!

I gave the guys in the shop a bit of grief for knowing that I was a Padres fan and not immediately directing me to this binder, but they said that most people don't look at those cards, they were mostly stars from the 80s and 90s that had been inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Well, I am not most people!

Despite the hugeness of the binder, there weren't a ton of cards I didn't already have.  However, it was still a pretty good haul.

These were probably the two least attractive cards, either from a design standpoint (seriously, what is happening with this "Hit List" insert on the left?) or a photo standpoint.  Still, I needed 'em.

These were looking much better to my eyes.  I forgot what 90's Bowman designs looked like, and this one on the left shows a Spring Training shot with a Rickey Henderson cameo in the background.  Very classic looking pose in this Upper Deck Retro set.

Metal Universe usually has better photos than this, but I'll take a card of Tony signing autographs any day.  I LOVED finding this Collect-A-Books uh… booklet.  I really should've opened it up to scan it, maybe I'll have to do that for a later post.

Here's a pair of similar photographs.  I remember thinking that as soon as I put that Pinnacle Certified card in my binder that I'd take that "protective tape" off, but I don't think I have yet.

Here's the last of the Gwynn's, my favorites.  I was never really a fan of the Studio brand as a kid, but I appreciate it more that my cardboard taste has been refined.  And for whatever reason, I like getting Gwynn checklists.  It's like a bonus Gwynn card that the companies tossed my way, even though they could've gone with another player from a more popular/better team.

Anyways, maybe Procopio's in Poway was a better shop than this one, but I was a kid and it's long closed down now, so my recency bias allows me to proclaim Triple Cards the best card shop I've ever been to.

Organized sets?

Cheap vintage singles?

Binder full of Tony Gwynn cards?

There are other card shops in the Dallas area that are also supposed to be pretty good, but if I'm up that way again, it'd be hard for me to pass up another stop here.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day

I'm pretty bad about gift-giving.  With my loved ones, I usually prefer to go somewhere with them and spend time with them.  This is difficult, however, when I live 1,296 miles away from my family (well, where my parents live, at least, a few of my siblings have moved out, and probably live slightly closer.

We don't visit home too much, but my in-laws offered to pay our gas to drive out to San Diego, since most of my wife's sisters will all be in town (a rare feat) for the 4th of July.  Seizing the opportunity, I checked the dates of the All-Star events in San Diego, and even though we had to extend our trip a few days, we've arranged it so that we'll still be in town for the first day of FanFest.

Naturally, I called up my dad and invited him to go, and tipped him on a buy-one-get-one deal to lower the cost (originally $30 a ticket!).  He bought the tickets (for him, me, and two of my siblings), so while it might not count as a Father's Day gift, it's still something, right?  

There will be baseball "legends" there to sign autographs and do question and answer sessions, and for Padres fans, none will be bigger than Trevor Hoffman.  Randy Jones, a former All-Star himself will be there, along with scrappy former short stop Chris Gomez.  I am a big fan of both of these guys.  Other guys like Kurt Bevacqua and Steve Garvey will be in attendance as well, but none that I'm more excited about than…

Yeah, you probably guessed it, Archi Cianfrocco.  I've never met him before, and I'm not sure that he'll believe that I'm really as big a fan of his as I am, but I seriously can't wait.  This is probably my favorite Padres-era Archi card, I might bring it to get signed.

Not all the "baseball legends" at FanFest are from the Padres organization, however, it's very Padre-dominant the first day.  Of all the former players to be there, Orlando Cepeda is the only one who will be there on the first day.  Knowing this (and not knowing much about him), I snatched up a pretty cheap copy of "the baby Bull's" '71 Topps card.  I'm not sure what I'll say to Mr. Cepeda, but I'm excited to say that I got to meet him, even if it's just for a bit.

Even though I'm a slacker, I got my dad something for Father's Day.  It'll get there a few days late, but better late than never, right?  I'm hoping he reads through it quickly and then I can borrow it when I'm hack in San Diego.

I'm a big fan of Ben and Sam's almost daily podcast for Baseball Prospectus, and this book looks really interesting.  They're two stat-heads who are given the opportunity to run (i.e. choose players, give input on lineup construction, defensive positioning, and in-game decisions) an independent league team.  Thanks to one of my students for giving me a Barnes & Noble gift card as an end of the year teacher gift, you really saved my bacon!

Anyways, I hope all the fathers are having a good father's day.  Oh, did I mention that the Padres drafted Quinn Hoffman, son of Trevor, in the 2016 MLB Draft.  Looks like Quinn won't back down from his baseball scholarship to Harvard, but still a cool thing to see the Pads do (much better than drafting Johnny Manziel a few years ago, at least).

Saturday, June 18, 2016

An Old Player Collection, and a New One?

I've whittled down my player collections quite a bit from the beginning of this blog.  Sure, I still love a good Andy Benes, Fred McGriff, Khalil Greene, or Paul Konerko card as much as the next guy.  But now, I've trimmed it down to basically three players: Tony Gwynn (686 cards), Archi Cianfrocco (84 cards), and Jerry Coleman (18 cards).

Obviously, the big "chase" out of those three are Gwynn cards.  There are so, so many of them.  I'm actually expecting a COMC order in a few days that will bring me within two cards (that I know of, at least) of obtaining a copy of every Archi Cianfrocco baseball card made.

But Coleman?  Well, there just aren't a ton of those cards out there.  From his actual playing days, the only card I still need is a 1952 Topps, which isn't cheap.  It's a PC that I almost forget about, because it's so, so small.

Thanks to Jim over at GCRL, I now have two cards to add to the list.  The one at the top of the post is actually from an 1982 set by ASA called "The Johnny Mize Story".  Man, he played with some pretty great ballplayers.  The second one is from the 2000 Upper Deck Yankees Legends set.  While I wasn't born until he had been broadcasting the Padres for a while, it's cool to see a youthful Coleman all decked out in his Yankees gear.  Way to go Upper Deck.

The winding down of the Cianfrocco and Coleman PCs, along with the huge mountain to climb with the Gwynn PC has me wondering if I should pick a new player to really collect.  If pressed into choosing another guy, I think I might go the "current" route.  While the Padres sit at the bottom of the NL West heap and are still years away from putting together a competent product, there are two guys who I'm pretty excited about.  Austin Hedges is one of them (a catcher who was called up in the middle of last year to back up Derek Norris, and is currently playing in AAA El Paso to start the year).

The other one is Wil Myers.  The Padres gave up two of their top four prospects (pitcher Joe Ross and short stop Trea Turner to the Nationals) in the trade that brought him to San Diego, and last year was a huge disappointment.  He had a great two weeks to start the season, then got injured, and spent most of the year on the DL or struggling with the effects of the injury.  This year has been a different story, and he is one of the best players in the league and should be on the NL All-Star team.  The competition is stiff at first base, but he's top four or five in most statistical categories.  It's a breath of fresh air to have my favorite player on the team be the best player on the team (no disrespect to Chris Denorfia, Eric Owens, or Yangervis Solarte).

At the very least, there'd be more cards to chase.  Not that I need to be burning through money or anything, but it's a thought that I'm at least entertaining.  With the way the Padres are playing, it wouldn't surprise me to see them trade him if he gets really good (though I'd be sad to see him leave).  Very nice to get this card from Jim, though at first, I tossed it in my duplicate pile like an idiot.  It wasn't until later that I noticed the gold foil and saw it was a parallel from last year's Stadium Club set.

There were other cards that Jim gave me (including some Garvey's that I already had), but these were the ones I loved the most.  Thanks Jim! 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Come and Take It!

No, the title of this post isn't a reference to the Alamo, I am giving away some cards!  All you gotta do is follow some simple directions, and they're yours.

The mailbox at our new house has been a lot slower than our rental was, and I think the main reason is because I've been slow to send stuff out myself.  One reason is because I haven't been blogging/reading  as much as I used to.  Another is that I just don't have very much to trade.  I sent off a bunch of stuff to Gavin over at Baseball Card Breakdown before we moved, just to clear it out to keep it from getting damaged, so my trade box is very small right now.

So, I figured what better way to clear it out than to just give it away?  The only guidelines are 1) that if you claim more than can fit in a PWE, or claim a bunch of the nicer ones, that you make at least a little attempt to send something back my way, and 2) I need you to answer the question at the bottom of this post.  But really, the purpose is to say thanks for reading my blog even though I don't post much, and to get some positive collecting karma.

Anyways, here's what I've got:

A bunch of 2014 Bowman hometown cards, all from the great state of Texas:
5 - Jay Bruce (Reds)
8 - Joe Nathan (Tigers)
18 - Austin Jackson (Tigers)
74 - David Freese (Angels)
81 - Jarred Cosart (Astros)
82 - Hunter Pence (Giants)
96 - Anthony Rendon (Nationals)
133 - Homer Bailey (Reds)
140 - Chris Davis (Orioles)
BP5 - Mark Appel (Astros)
BP21 - Billy McKinney (A's)
BP40 - Logan Vick (Indians)
BP89 - Michael Ratterree (Brewers)
BP100 - Brian Ragira (Giants)
206 - Jonathan Lucroy (Brewers, but has the Florida flag)

2015 Topps rainbow foil - 516 - Lorenzo Cain

2015 Topps gold foil (#1162/2015) - J.J. Hardy

1993 Sport Card Magazine cards of Mark McGwire and Marquis Grissom

2013 Archives Day Glo - Jayson Werth
2015 Panini Donruss Preferred Grand Stand - George Springer

2015 Heritage Jered Weaver (#914/999)
2013 Topps Chrome Ben Zobrist (41/75)

2015 Panini

2014 Donruss Jed Lowrie #91/234
2015 Gypsy Queen "Glove Stories" Freddy Galvis

Two pitchers with girls names, Madison Bumgarner (2013 Panini Prizm blue border), and 2016 Topps "First Pitch" Hayley Atwell.

2016 Topps Opening Day Carlos Gomez (blue border)

2016 Gypsy Queen blue bordered Anthony Rendon and Kris Bryant

1968 Topps Harmon Killebrew

1975 Topps Bert Blyleven
2016 Heritage #423 (high number) "Fence Busters"

2013 Topps blue bordered Mike Trout and Jose Fernandez.  I'm not a huge baseball scout or anything, but I think these guys could be good really soon.  You heard it here first.

2016 Gypsy Queen "MVP mini" - Carl Yastrzemski (Red Sox)
1951 Bowman - Whitey Lockman #37 (New York Giants)  He was on base during Bobby Thomson's "Shot heard round the world"!  That, along with this card, is pretty cool.

Opening Day inserts that look a lot better than the inserts in the flagship set.  The artist formerly known as Mike Stanton, and dude that went to my rival high school, Cole Hamels.

2016 Bowman autograph Josh Staumont
2016 Bowman yellow border Yoan Moncada

 2016 Bowman yellow border - Trey Mancini, Scott Blewett, and Kevin Newman.  Bowman knows that collectors love the '91 Fleer set, so I appreciate the yellow borders.

2016 Heritage "Flashbacks News"

I'm getting tired of labeling these.  You have eyes, you can tell what these are, right?

Man, I really like Donruss, but I have a hard time telling it apart from last year's.  I think I still like it better this year, though.

Last but not least, a bunch of 2016 Archives:
Durham Bulls Insert - Bobby
Blue Border (#13/199) - Joey Votto
Father * Son - Ken & Ken Griffey
Father * Son - Tony & Eduardo Perez
11 - Matt Reynolds (Mets)
26 - Rafael Palmiero (Orioles)
28 - Miguel Almonte (Royals)
35 - Jim Rice (Red Sox)
40 - Jacoby Ellsbury (Yankees)
61 - Koletn Wong (Cardinals)
63 - Nelson Cruz (Mariners)
79 - John Olerud (Mariners)
87 - Noah Syndergaard (Mets)
88 - A.J. Pollock (Diamondbacks)
94 - Darin Ruf (Phillies)
113 - Frankie Montas (Dodgers)
114 - Jose Reyes (Rockies)
122 - Carlton Fisk (White Sox)
135 - Ryan Howard (Phillies)
136 - Troy Tulowitzki (Blue Jays)
145 - Felix Hernandez (Mariners)
152 - Ian Kinsler (Tigers)
153 - Honus Wagner (Pirates)
162 - Gary Sanchez (Yankees)
175 - Andrelton Simmons (Angels)
208 - Matt Harvey (Mets)
211 - Kevin Kiermaier (Rays)
226 - Ryan Braun (Brewers)
255 - Brandon Phillips (Reds)
256 - Chipper Jones (Braves)
267 - Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies)
275 - Corey Seager (Dodgers)
277 - Ichiro (Marlins)
288 - Nomar Garciaparra (Red Sox)
264 - Andrew McCutchen (Pirates)

Whew!  If you thought reading that took a long time, try typing it all out.  Probably wasn't necessary.

Anyways, so yeah, that's what's up for grabs.

Now, here's the question:

If you were going to meet your favorite baseball player and could ask him just one question, what would it be?

I ask because I'm going to the All-Star FanFest in San Diego before the All-Star Game, and Archi Cianfrocco is one of the former Padres players who will be signing autographs and doing a question and answer session on the day I go.  While Trevor Hoffman, Randy Jones, and Steve Garvey will be there, I am SO excited to get to meet Archi!  The only non-Padre "legend" there on the Friday that I go will be Orlando Cepeda.  I don't know much about him, but I know he's in the Hall of Fame and had a cool nickname, so anything else you wanna tell me about "Baby Bull", let me know in the comments as well.

Thanks again!  Have a great Thursday!