Tuesday, September 27, 2016

One Last Reds Custom for the Season

Okay, I'll have more in December for 'Uncustomed Heroes', but, to wrap up the season, here's Eugenio Suarez and a gum bubble, for your viewing pleasure.

Coming Tomorrow- He hit home runs for my team. Now, he hits home runs for a team that actually has a chance at the World Series.

All the Little Kids Growing Up on the Skids Go...

The last time the Cleveland Indians clinched the AL Central was the first year I got into the hobby. And they weren't even expected to do it then, either...

A lot of similarities, too. The 2007 team had a killer rotation, featuring CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Jake Westbrook and Fausto Carmona. The 2007 team had a great DH in peak position (Travis Hafner), a fringe player that suddenly had a really nice season (Franklin Gutierrez), a returning hero (Kenny Lofton), and lots and lots of young players doing some killer things.

The 2016 team has all of those things going for them. This is a team that everyone counted out, and now they're wiping the floor with everyone. Heck, I don't even think the Tigers are going to make the playoffs, since they're not even close to the Indians, or the Orioles, in the standings. The Indians have taken a lot of players that weren't thought to make a difference, like home-run hammerer Mike Napoli and bench aficionado Rajai Davis, as well as people like Tyler Naquin, Lonnie Chisenhall and Jose Ramirez, who nobody really thought anything of before the season.

However...with the recent spur of injuries hitting the team, I'm not exactly sure how it's going to go once they hit the postseason, with Carrasco and Salazar down. I can hope that they'll still make an impact, playing someone that will likely be Boston but could be Texas. I just can't help but pull for them- they're the underdogs, the guys that you wouldn't guess would end up here.

So...wouldn't it be great if they did?

Coming Today: An infielder for a depleted NL Central roster.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Even Year Magic...Somewhere Other than San Francisco

The Giants have won a World Series every even year. But you all know that. So let's talk about someone else who's been really good every even year, and shit every odd year. The Washington Nationals.

Yeah, it's just clicking- 2012, they clinch, 2013 they relent and the Braves take it. 2014 they clinch, 2015 they crack wide open and let the Mets in. And now, here they are in 2016, absolutely killing it and making 2nd place a foresight. This is a team that's possibly more put-together than the last few, and more powerful, even without their star player, Bryce Harper, and their other star player, Stephen Strasburg, in Grade A conditions.

People like Anthony Rendon, Wilson Ramos and Tanner Roark, guys that were extra hands essentially last year, are leading the charge this year, which is fantastic, and also says a lot about the roster depth this year. Plus, throwing guys like Joe Ross and Trea Turner in there is working EXTREMELY well this year. The youth is working, but not taking over the team like in the Bronx.

Now that they're in the playoffs, they should be gearing up for how tough the race is gonna be. They're likely gonna play the 2/3 seed (whichever one they aren't, really), so that's gonna entail a date with the Dodgers, which is nice- these are the two 'always a bridesmaid, never a bride' teams when it comes to recent postseason match ups. These are they guys that usually are out in the first round. And one of them will DEFINITELY be going to the NLCS, and playing someone that very well may be the Chicago Cubs to play in the World Series. (Now...it could be the Mets, Giants or Cardinals...I just wanted to put this there just in case).

It'll be interesting to see them and the Dodgers squaring off, as they've been similar in the last few seasons, although both are MONSTERS now. So...I'm already looking forward to that NLDS, as literally either winner will make a great CS.

Coming Tomorrow- Injuries, schminjuries. They're the last AL 1st place team that hasn't clinched, and dammit it's gonna happen this year, mainly thanks to the 1st baseman that nobody wanted.

It Probably Wasn't Going to Happen: Yankees Edition

Yeah, it's time for me to eulogize my own beloved Yankees. Not especially excited to do this, but it needs to be done.

When the season started, I was kind of optimistic. The two imports, Chapman and Castro, were playing well, the Three Headed Monster in relief was working, and Carlos Beltran was surprisingly hitting. I mean, the rest of the team wasn't very impressive, but those parts were making me optimistic.

Now, the rest of the division reared its ugly head eventually, and we figured out that the Orioles and Red Sox were going to be the real competitors this season. Yes, the Jays should be in there too, but they don't decide that until July usually, and it usually never gets them anywhere.

I came to terms with the fact that they were likely gonna be a non-factor this season. Yes, they'd win games and have some good players every once and a while, but this obviously wasn't their year. The Sox had it, they were much better, and I was waiting for them to clinch in, like, July.

And then...the kids came up. And the picture changed.

Once Gary Sanchez, Luis Cessa, Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge entered the picture, so did the momentum. Sanchez has hit 20 home runs faster than practically anybody in history, even that guy that everybody applauded in April for hitting 10 in record time (who's injured now). The youth refueled the team, so that even the guys that were here started playing better- Tanaka improved, Ellsbury stayed healthy, Didi and Starlin rocked it, and the team started playing better as a unit, which was weird.

I, unlike a lot of Yankees fans, didn't get too excited. I knew that this wasn't their year, and to not get my hopes up because I knew what would happen. First of all, I knew that they'd never catch up to Baltimore and Toronto, and I knew the Wild Card race was already hella tough. Also, I knew the momentum would be finite, and it was- Judge landed on the DL, and the team, whose youth once defined them, suddenly was being called 'TOO young' by the media.

So, the Yankees aren't going to make the playoffs. It wasn't their year, and it's still not their year. However...next year, when they get Judge and Bird back...that's looking pretty damn good.

Coming Tonight: Infielder for the team that just clinched the NL East.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Nostalgic Box Break: 1995 Stadium Club Series Two (Part Three)

16 packs down, 8 left to go. For a Stadium Club set, this is a very well-shot, well-designed, very clean and spiffy set, sort of inching towards the future. Some people, including myself, refer to this one as the last great Stadium Club set, or the last one you could really collect, as the 1996 release on had less packs-per-box, and you couldn't yield a full set from all of that.

Still, we came relatively close with the '95 one, so let's round out the box:

 Pack 17-
Cards I needed: 7/14
Dupes: 7/14
Guys That Would Have Been Great Pulls in 1995: 2/14

 On the left is a reminder that Denny Neagle was on the Pirates before he spontaneously snuck onto a Braves roster that could make him look cool. The Cover Story is the 2nd Marlin in that subset, and it's Chuck Carr, though this one is pretty damn cool.

 Tim Salmon was Mr. Angel this time in 1995, which doesn't bode well for Mike Trout. Also, Mark McGwire, pre-St. Louis career boost.

 Pack 18-
Cards I needed: 4/14
Dupes: 10/14
Philadelphia Legends: 1/14

 Devo recats to a strikeout, Wayne Kirby goofs off while warming up, and John Kruk rounds the bases. By this point in the actual 1995 season, Kruk was rounding out his career in Chicago.

 Pack 19-
Cards I needed: 6/14
Dupes: 8/14
Hall of Famers: 2/14
Stars of Liar, Liar (not really): 1/14

 Tom Pagnozzi is our last (I think) Best Seat in the House subset subject, and it's a pretty nice one. Plus, here Jose Canseco is threatening to beat up the cameraman, a practice that eventually got him kicked off of Celebrity Apprentice.

 Rickey Henderson is just sitting down, waiting to steal another base. Meanwhile, Frank Thomas, in a BEAUTIFUL SHOT, signs some autographs.

 Pack 20-
Cards I needed: 5/14
Dupes: 9/14
Hall of Famers: 1/14

 Aside from Tim Raines', who I didn't pull in this box, Barry Larkin is the one Cover Story insert that still matters 21 years later.
Meanwhile, Wally Joyner's happy to still be a relevant player, even on the Royals.

 Pack 21-
Cards I needed: 7/14
Hall of Extremely Good-ers: 2/14

 Mike Deveraux, who was still an O in '95, holds onto a camera, costing that poor cameraman a few hundred dollars. Mattingly takes a bow for the crowd in one of his last few seasons on the team.

 Valentin I already pulled the Virtual Reality version of, but it's still sooooo cool. Grace's is just as awesome of a close-up shot.

 Pack 22-
Cards I needed: 6/14
Dupes: 8/14
Legitimate Stars in '95: 1/14

 Justice's is a great shot, and this is right before his star began to deflate. Meares' is a really cool field tag shot.

 Pack 23-
Cards I needed: 6/14
Dupes: 8/14
Absolutely Amazing Cards: 1/14
Hall of Famers: 1/14

 Roberto Kelly and Chris Gomez have some nice, well lit shots, but I wanna get to these last two...

 JAIME NAVARRO'S CARD IS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. HE IS RIDING...A MOTORCYCLE...ON A BASEBALL CARD. What did I tell you about all the Brewers cards being spontaneously amazing? Do you think I would lie about that? This is legitimately artwork.
Also, nice appearance by HOFer John Smoltz to give a last glimmer of hope to this box.

Pack 24- Only Henry and Baines were ones that I needed, so the box goes out with a whimper.

Still, I got a great deal of the set, and I'll only have to pilfer one or two from other sources, which will probably lead to a want list going up at some point.

Another Nostalgic Box Break is coming in a few days, when this one has some time to breathe. It's...not too different from this one.

Custom Card of the Morning: Schimpf Edition

I really don't have much to say about the Padres, other than the fact that their main choice at second base was a guy named Schimpf.

I mean, yeah, great player, but...my how this team has fallen.

Coming Today: Another Box Break post, and a custom with more substance.