Friday, December 14, 2018
Stanton, Yelich and Ozuna left. Bour left midway through the season. There wasn't a great deal of talent abound anyway, so...it was just gonna be a long year for the Marlins any way they shook it. The object was to rebuild, and I don't even think they even did that.
Jose Urena, who was their breakout ace in 2017, floundered, finishing with a 9-12 record, and a 4.00 ERA. He's not as terrible as other Miami starters, and he could still become something great, but his abilities could not withstand this Marlins season.
Coming Tomorrow: Meet the Mets. While, uh, while they're still here.
We've reached the dregs of the card-buying season. The point in the year where there's really nothing on the shelves truly worth buying except for reruns, repacks, old football boxes that nobody bought, and...Topps Fire, which I didn't especially WANT. But there you go.
And yet I wanted cards, because...it had been a hot second, and we need some tangible content on here. Wal-Mart had some surpluses of 2018 Topps Holiday. Now, I haven't bought the last few Holiday releases Topps has done, mostly due to the lightweight nature of the release, but...desperation, and the 'one hit per box' thing, got the best of me.
Topps Holiday is merely the flagship set...but slightly thicker and with snowflakes. It's the opposite of Opening Day, which represents Spring and new opportunities. They should call it Closing Day, because everything is cold and depressing.
Like I said, one hit per box, in ten packs. Thanks to my 'guaranteed hit' from 2018 Topps Update, which was a manu-plastic-thingy that isn't in any way a hit, I'm skeptical, but...I'm not getting this JUST FOR the hit. I'm getting this because I haven't got any better options.
Here we go:
So yeah, this is what it is. If you've seen Flagship, you know exactly what you're getting, but it's pretty amusing how the snowflake gradient factors in. On Hamilton's, it just looks like the wall needs to be cleaned. On Buxton's, it just makes the action shot a bit cooler.
The pack highlights, at least for me. Nola's is a must have, as I'm slowly becoming a player-collector of his. Kinsler's brings up the point that Update Series cards are also included in this checklist, which is a nice touch.
Standard base. Something about the way Greinke's blue number pops with the gradient is kinda cool.
Personal highlights. The Schwarber is a 1-in-2 Metallic Snowflake parallel. You can't really tell from the scan, but some of his card's gradient pops a bit, and is a more metallic finish. It's slight, but in a set without inserts it's pretty cool.
And Happ and Frazier are always welcome.
Standard stuff here. Seager and Encarnacion's teams have been doing some dealing with each other this year. Now they're teammates, I think.
Base stuff. I feel like the more dramatic the card, the more fitting the snowflakes are- the Smith and Olsen ones work with these, I think. But also, action shots, like Martinez and Rendon, also work.
...Not bad, eh?
I put Hader in as an extra Brewer, but getting a bat card of Lorenzo Cain in an ASG-Caliber year for him...where he made the NLCS? Not bad at all. I like that this wasn't just another plain white swatch of a Baltimore backup outfielder or something. BAT CARD...of a great player. Nice job, Topps.
....BUT IT BEGS THE QUESTION...
If the Bour deal went through on August 10th, WAY before this went to print...what was stopping Topps from adding LATER waiver trades to this set? Hell, how come Curtis Granderson still gets a Blue Jays uniform, but Bour gets his new one? If you're making room for some, why not make room for all? I know August 31st is a bit closer to print for Holiday, but...there could have been more room made.
Again, it's silly, and I'm glad I got a Bour Phils card anyway, but...c'mon Topps!
Overall, this box was...amusing. I'm certainly glad I got some of these, especially the Bour, Archer and Cain relic. If you're gonna do a set like this, you should have variation from flagship, and this set...sort of does? There's enough that's different to make me feel like I got something from this, but there's still a lot of reused base.
Still...I enjoyed myself. Which, at the holidays, is all one really needs.
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Back in about...July, I'd say, I had a conversation with my uncle, who's a lifetime Mariners fan. And we were talking about the Wild Card game. How our teams were gonna square off, and it'd be a matter of whether Mitch Haniger and Nelson Cruz could outhit Severino.
That...didn't exactly happen. And the Mariners CONTINUE to be the unluckiest team in baseball. Their playoff drought is about to go into its eighteenth year, they've given away Jean Segura, Robinson Cano, James Paxton and Edwin Diaz...for practically nothing, and they're continuing to unload as we speak. A team that felt playoff-bound midway through this season is going to start next season looking like a shell of itself. Which is unfortunate.
Speaking of a shell of itself, Felix Hernandez is...that. He's lost his velocity, and his ability to consistently win games, and now all he is...is a strikeout artist that's resting on mythology. He's 32, and he's not quite a lock for the Hall, but...if he can turn his rotten luck around, and regain his mid-decade mojo, the Mariners could be in better shape.
Coming Tomorrow- Speaking of Miami, they had a predictably atrocious year after losing all their big stars.
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
The Cleveland Indians, though not quite as powerful as years past, did manage to put together an outstanding squad this year, though their foibles did shine through during their playoff series with the Astros, causing an earlier exit than they'd have liked. But they still have a lot to be proud of, and a lot to keep in mind when crafting the 2019 team.
For instance...Greg Allen's a pretty great choice for a starting outfielder. Granted, his addition to the fold came after Tyler Naquin and Lonnie Chisenhall got injured, but his speed, youth, and superior hitting beat out Rajai Davis for the final spot, alongside Michael Brantley and Melky Cabrera. He'll probably be well within the fold next year.
Coming Tomorrow- They're giving their best away, which proves that some bad decisions spoiled what could have been a great 2018 for them.
I'm gonna be honest: following the Winter Meetings has been relatively disappointing so far. Not much has happened. Yes, a cheap starter is signed here and there, a bench player is traded, but the BIG GUNS have stayed on the board, and except for Billy Hamilton heading to Kansas City and Ivan Nova heading to Chicago, there hasn't been a lot worth analyzing.
Hell, the most analysis-worthy move is one that's probably never going to happen: the much maligned deal that would send J.T. Realmuto to Queens, Noah Syndergaard to the Bronx, and Miguel Andujar to Miami, which has thankfully been vetoed by several persons involved.
So...if that's not happening, then what do we have to show for the first two days of the Winter Meetings??
...We have Andrew McCutchen. Or, more specifically, the Philadelphia Phillies have Andrew McCutchen.
First of all, how do I feel about this deal? One of my favorite players gets to play for one of my favorite teams for 3 years. That's friggin' awesome. I don't need to travel across the damned state to see Cutch play, I can just hop on the subway and see him in town. That is convenient as all hell, and I love it. Also, Cutch will now get to commandeer the Philadelphia outfield, and will get to work with Odubel Herrera and probably Nick Williams. As for Altherr and Quinn, uh...I have no idea, but...maybe?
Now, the fans online, especially Phillie fans, have felt betrayed by this move, as it apparently came 4 years too late, and it's apparently a cruel replacement for the Harper deal they're all waiting for. Do I think they're being harsh? Of course. They get a solid outfield bat, and they're complaining because they didn't get THE solid outfield bat they wanted. Are they forgetting that Bryce Harper has really only had two good seasons? Cutch has only really had one BAD season, comparatively. Cutch is also less of an infuriating personality, more of a leadership figure, and, ahem, more likely to have consistent progress for the length of the contract.
Again, we may still get Harper, and we may still deal with the consequences of that contract, but...Andrew McCutchen is less of a risk than Harper. Yes, Cutch is 32, but...he also had a nice 2018, which I can't really say about Harper. This is one of those times where I'd like to be wrong about Harper, but right now the name outweighs the talent.
So...as it stands, we have a former MVP outfielder who might be the piece that makes us a playoff threat again. Which isn't bad at all.
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Well...I'm not really sure what the Giants were expecting in 2018, but they finished in fourth place, thanks in part to dedicating 60% of their roster to people over 30. Of the two major 30+ signings this year, one lasted 5 months, while the other was injured for a portion of the year...and their marquee catcher decided to follow suit.
So, not a great year, but they learned a lot. Hopefully. I don't know, if they sign J.A. Happ, Bartolo Colon and Jose Reyes this offseason, then maybe they haven't.
One of the few signals of youth in this roster was Alen Hanson, a 25-year-old journeyman utility specialist who spent the majority of the season filling in for Joe Panik and Evan Longoria. He did a heck of a job, too, sporting 74 hits in 110 games, and stealing the exact amount of bases the two men he covered for stole combined this year. He's gonna be a decent guy to have around next year.
Hunter Pence is one of my favorite players, thanks to his insatiable spirit, and his wonderful season in Philadelphia. After several great years with the Giants, 2 rings, and a load of fan support, Pence decided he'd be retiring after the 2018 season, thanks to some pesky injuries. It made sense, but...it still hurt. And as you can see from this photo, the fans weren't ready to say goodbye yet, but they gave him one hell of a finale.
Coming Tomorrow- The unluckiness continues for one of the strongest perennial teams in the AL to be stuck without rings.
Monday, December 10, 2018
Wanna know how good the Dodgers were this year?
Rich Hill had a 3.60 ERA, 150 strikeouts, and a 11-5 record...and I only JUST NOW got to making a custom of him, because he kept getting usurped by more urgent subjects throughout the year.
...There were people on the Dodgers more urgent...than a guy with an 11-5 record and 150 strikeouts.
Even though they lost the World Series again, the Dodgers were still a fantastic story, going from a disappointment in third to owning the leagues in September. Rich Hill, who sadly has become a bit more normalized after breaking back into the majors 8 years after we'd counted him out, had a great season as third man, even if his usual injuries midseason lessened his power.
Chase Utley, one of the heroes of my youth, one of the icons of Philadelphia sports of my generation, announced his retirement, and said goodbye during his series in Philly. He's definitely got a HOF case, and he's definitely a legend in Philly, so I couldn't help but memorialize him with a dramatic, dynamic custom. You'll be missed, Chut.
Coming Tomorrow- Proof that signing a bunch of 30-year olds pre-season doesn't amount to a ring.