Monday, June 27, 2016

Nostalgic Box Break: 1992 Stadium Club Series Three (Part One)

600 cards down and filed. 300 to go.

I'm not exactly sure why I made it a point to go back and collect every great Stadium Club set of the 1990's, going at least until 1995 with an option for 1996, but it's done me well, giving me some wonderful nostalgia, and keeping my appreciation for the spoils of junk-wax flowing.

So now, we have 1992 Stadium Club Series 3. It's another 300 card set, which is different for SC- usually Series 3 would be much shorter, and would essentially be an Update set in the future. But here, it's all 300, which means there's as much of a chance to miss a few cards as there is to get all 300, as BOTH can be done.

Like I said, 300 card set, 36 packs, 15 cards per pack. Hopefully we'll actually get 15 per, unlike Series 2's box. Let's see if we can call it a day on this classic set.

 Pack One- Right off the bat, you can see the 90's beginning to form itself in this pack.
Cards I need: 15/15
Steroid Abusers: 1/15
Guys With Goofy Glasses: 1/15
 Starting y'all off with some cool landscapes. Foster's is just an excuse to show of the Reds' alt-uni. Ward's is a really nice wide-angle shot.

 Our three star cards. Zane Smith would have some nice years as a flamethrower for Pittsburgh. Henke's best years were behind him, in the 80's. Sosa...his career was just getting started on the North Side.

 Pack 20
Cards I need: 15/15
Hall of Famers: 3/15
Awesome Shades: 2/15
Borderline HOFers: 1/15
 Two posed Spring Training shots. Valdez' looks pretty awkward, but Hickerson's pretty glad about the whole thing.

 Armstrong's is a standard pitcher shot. Rickey's just being awesome, stealing a base somewhere.

 That Jose Rijo card may have just jumped to the top of my favorite junk wax cards list, and it may not be the only Rijo shades card there. Him and Ruben Sierra should have awesomely dated 90's card parties.
Sheff's just hitting one out. Don't mind him.

 One of the greatest shortstops of all time, and one of the greatest all-time hitters. Next to each other. I love Gwynn's, because you can see so much in those reflector shades.

 Pack 3-
Cards I need: 15/15
Absolutely Gorgeous Zoomed Out Cards: 3/15

 Lind's is nice, especially for the little flag on his hat.

 Both of these are amazing. Tartabull's has a degree of dramatic, as it's his first shot as a Yankee. Wilson's is just lit at the exact right angle, looks pretty dynamic.

 Walden's in his college uniform, and looks pretty amazing from that angle.

 Pack 4-
Cards I need: 12/15
Dupes: 3/15
Hall of Famers: 2/15

 Just some nice commons. Ortiz' is great for the catcher's gear. Eichhorn's is just pensive and zoomed in enough.

 Two great fringe players from the 80's, and a nice Jeff Parrett shot.

 Our two Hall of Famers in unfamiliar uniforms. Murray was still pretty awesome on the Mets. Winfield was on his way to a World Series ring (finally) with the Blue Jays.

 Pack 5-
Cards I need: 14/15
Dupes: 1/15
Hall of Famers: 1/15
Former Yankees: 1/15
Future Yankees: 1/15

 Denny Neagle's giant chin reminds you that he came up as a Pirate. Rusty Meacham gets a kick out of that one.

 Nolan of the greatest pitchers to ever live.
Steve Sax...was okay.

 Pack 6-
Cards I need: 15/15
Hall of Famers: 1/15
Borderline Hall of Famers: 3/15
Former MVPs: 2/15

 Beltre's is a great stance shot. Joyner's looks so great as a sideways shot- much more detail is in this when you get the full picture.

 Juan Bell playing solid 2nd base. Wayne Edwards is nice enough to sign a ball for the fans.

 The Former MVPs. Gibson, while he was still on the Pirates (which I forgot about), and Mitchell, when he was trying to come back with the Mariners (which I also forgot about)

 Three definite 1990's icons. Johnson, of course, would become one of the most dominant pitchers of the decade. Galarraga would soon more to Denver and become one of their best hitters, while Lofton would stay in Cleveland for a while and take up base-stealing.

 Pack 7-
Cards I need: 15/15
Hall of Famers: 1/15
Guys who SHOULD be in the Hall of Fame: 1/15

 Ah, cards of people in Hawaiian shirts...I sure do adore the 90's.
Even Assenmacher is checking that shirt out.

 Three one-time superstars. Bret Saberhagen was trying to come back with the Mets. Bob Welch was still a great arm with Oakland. Incaviglia was close to joining the NL Champion Phillies.

 Two of the best. Nolan Ryan was the Member's Choice, which was pretty fantastic for a guy in his 40's. Morris was just heading towards another World Series ring, his third.

 Pack 8-
Cards I need: 8/15
Dupes: 7/15
Hall of Famers: 1/15
80's Stars: 1/15
90's Stars: 1/15

 Ron Gant's just getting going, Jeff Reardon's just slowing down.

 Man, Griffey looks awesome here, in this Member's Choice insert. Must be the teal.
Eric Davis is just feeling comfortable in his Dodgers uniform, even if his numbers don't.

 Pack 9
Cards I need: 14/15
Dupes: 1/15
Cards of guys who look pissed: 2/15
WAY TOO CLOSE shots of future Yankees: 1/15

 Eddie Taubensee is pissed that Bob Walk hasn't allowed any walks thus far. He had a perfect joke saved up and everything.

 Dale Sveum also looks pretty down. Maybe he's looked into the future, and sees that the guy on his right is going to be a manager for way longer, and for a way more important team, than he is.

 Darryl Kile mows 'em down for Houston. Chuck Knoblauch...way too close.

 Pack 10-
Cards I need: 15/15
Guys Considered Stars in 1992: 7/15
Hall of Famers: 1/15
Steroid Abusers: 1/15
Legendary Pitchers Who Pitched FOREVER: 2/15
Stars of the very late 80's: 2/15
Guys whose relatives are in the Hall of Fame: 1/15

 Sandy, just starting his 1,000 year career as a catcher, and George Bell, just finding out that the jheri curl is indeed dead.

 Dennis Martinez looks overjoyed to still be playing. Charlie Hough's knuckleball in action. Bobby Bo's still hitting 'em.

 Andre Dawson is proudly a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Barry...had his chance.

 Pack 11-
Cards I need: 5/15
Dupes: 10/15
Two-Sport Icons: 1/15

 Even Bo Knows how awesome this card is.

Pack 12-
All Dupes. Man, we were doing so well, too...

I'll stop it there, as that's enough for one night. I'll pick up with the next 12 packs sometime in the next few days, but suffice to say we come exceptionally close to 300.

Is Evan Longoria The Best Player Nobody Talks About?

Okay, now that I've got your attention, let me clarify.

In 2008, Evan Longoria made his debut, and everybody talked about him. His presence in the Rays' starting lineup almost singlehandledly brought the team to the World Series- he was on, and so was everybody else. For the next two or three seasons, Evan Longoria was one of THE figures in the MLB. He was on the cover of 2010 Topps Series 2, I believe.

Then...he had a couple of 'okay' seasons, a few seasons on the DL, and people...just stopped talking about him. He was still a great player, had some great seasons, but he wasn't really being listed with Baseball's Elite anymore. He was just Evan Longoria. Plus, the Rays weren't as good as they were in the late 2000's, and it got to the point where Longo was the sole powerful figure on the team for a while.

This season, however, I think it's time for everyone to pay attention to Evan Longoria again.

Look, the Rays are in last. I get it. You don't wanna look that low. Fine. Just see what Longo's doing. The guy's having one of his few slugging-heavy seasons- only happens once in a blue moon. He's got a nice batting average, he's still young enough to play coherent defensive ball, and he's one of the main offensive producers on the team.

I don't expect the guy to get a starting All Star spot, at least not initially, but I am expecting him to get on the squad, because the Rays need a nod, and it can't just be someone who won't play for very long like Alex Colome or Logan Forsythe or something. I'm just surprised that Evan Longoria can be this impressive, NOW, and still not get a ton of attention about it. It's kind of sad the way it worked out.

Still, for once I'm hoping for this to keep going for Evan Longoria- I've given him crap for having to play him a ton, but he's pretty impressive, especially this season.

Coming Tonight: He's back to his old tricks in Miami, but he might not be in Miami for much longer at this rate.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Paul Goldschmidt Custom Better Than The D-Backs' Record

Tonight is one of those 'bask in the glory of this custom' kind of nights. I've got a nice amount of content planned for the week, and it's easy enough to leave this amazing custom as is, and let you guys fill in the blanks.

All I know is I'm pretty damn proud of this one.

Coming Tomorrow- He's been in the bigs for nine years now, and is getting back to the kind of stuff he made his name for providing.

Raise the Sinking Mariners

I've never wanted to witness what the Mariners look like without Felix Hernandez at the top of the rotation. This season, however, that's what we've been forced to witness. Felix is on the DL for a little while, and the pitching is falling apart, bringing the M's to third, and bringing the momentum they had in April and May to a screeching halt.

It's very sad, because a lot of these pitchers had nice starts- Taijuan Walker, Wade Miley and Hisashi Iwakuma are all struggling about now- thankfully Nate Karns is keeping his stuff together, but it's not enough. Even with Felix in the rotation, the Mariners' rotation's weakness is the lack of depth. You get past the first few really nice arms, and you get to people you can hit with no problem.

It's alarming, because the lineup in Seattle is actually pretty impressive- Cano, Cruz, Kyle Seager, Seth Smith and Dae-Ho Lee are all doing really damn well. The lineup, with the exception of Nori Aoki or guys that aren't hitting for average, isn't especially the problem, which is kind of reassuring, as the Mariners have been dealing with holey starting lineups for too damned long.

At this point, I don't know if the M's can contend. They're close behind the Astros, but I don't know if it's their year or if it's the Mariners' year. If one of them overtakes the Rangers, the other will drop. I just don't know which is which. I can certainly hope for the Mariners to regain their stuff, and for Felix to come back, but it's very close.

Coming Tonight- Even if his team's disappointed, he's still one of the best first basemen in baseball, and he's still as impressive as he was before his team beefed up with contracts.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Ballot Stuffing That I Am Surprisingly Okay With

In years past, there have been a couple of different methods, by various growing fan bases of teams, to get as many starters for that team onto the All Star team, regardless of whether or not they deserve it that year. For St. Louis fans, this is almost routine.

In 2011, the Giants fans were responsible for most of the ballot-stuffing, as Pablo Sandoval (I believe) wound up replacing a much-deserving David Wright at third. This also was happening last season, as ALL OF MISSOURI was voting their players to starting positions, including people like Omar Infante and Jhonny Peralta who hardly even deserved them. It took tons of re-voting to get Mike Moustakas off of the starting third, and getting Josh Donaldson where he rightly belonged. It was easier for Matt Holliday, as he was injured by ASG time last year.

So, with a week left to go before voting closes, it's the right time to report on another case of ballot stuffing by unified fans. However...this time it's one I'm okay with.

Not because I like the Cubs- even though I do like the Cubs, it's not my main reasoning. No...this is much better reasoning- all four infielders that are being voted into starting positions, by all of Chicago, RIGHTFULLY DESERVE those infield spots.

Unlike years where maybe Moustakas isn't the best third baseman in baseball, or maybe David Wright deserves it over Panda, this makes sense. Anthony Rizzo's the best at first. Ben Zobrist's the best at second. Kris Bryant's the best at third.

The only real stretch this year is Addison Russell at shortstop. I wouldn't have originally thought him the best shortstop in the league this year, but...then I looked at who he was up against...and I realized that there wasn't a TON of competition.

Trevor Story could be an option, but he's cooled down so much since April. Brandon Crawford's great, but he's more 'reserve infielder' material than starter material, as is Aledmys Diaz. So...really, Addison Russell, even as the Rey Ordonez of this infield arrangement, is still the best choice at shortstop for the NL. And BELIEVE ME...I tried figuring out a different arrangement. I tried troubleshooting. Corey Seager, as good as he is this season, doesn't even deserve the starting job.

I tried to find an equation in which these four guys DIDN'T make sense as the starting infield for the NL All Star team, and other than one of two options that would be good enough replacements...I still felt the all-Cubs one was the best, regardless of ballot-stuffing or anything. The All-Star game should be the best of both leagues playing each other...and it fits, in this situation.

Coming Tomorrow- His brother's heating up the NL West, so his only option is to heat up the AL West. And, as his team is a little better this year, that's marginally easier for him.

Nostalgic Box Break: 1992 Stadium Club Series Two (Part Three)

24 packs down. 12 packs to go. SO MANY DOUBLES.


 Pack 25- 14 dupes, one card I actually needed. Off to a rousing start.

 Pack 26-
Cards I need: 14/15
Dupes: 1/15
People I care about: 0/15

 Bryn Smith as a Cardinal, younger Derek Bell. Nothing I remotely collect, but still going in the set.

 This Joe Oliver card does look pretty cool though, as do the stripey Indians uniforms of yore.
 Pack 27-
Cards I need: 8/16
Dupes: 8/16
Former MLB Managers Looking Awkward: 1/16

 Sanderson's is a great, 'full-picture' card, even with an ump cameo. Tapani's is just a solid pitcher shot. Williams...that's pretty damn close to glamour shots right there.

 Pack 28-
Cards I need: 9/16
Dupes: 7/16
Guys Who Were On Their Teams for a Very Long Time: 3/16

 Finley's hair looks great here. Anderson looks comparatively thin here.

 A young DiSarcina wonders how long he'll spend on the Angels (answer: forever)
Pete Harnisch's is a reminder that the Astros needed a uniform change.

 Pack 29-
These two ended up being dupes. So...nothin'.

 Pack 30-
Cards I needed: 7/16
Dupes: 9/16
 Great degree of shadows on the House card. The Dibble works because we get the entire shot, and because the green contrasts well with the red uniform.

 Also, here's Tim Wallach looking really cool against a blue backdrop, and a ton of bats.

 Pack 31-
Cards I needed: 4/15
Dupes: 11/15
Hall of Famers: 1/15

 Our only highlights are a very craggy looking Gene Nelson and an awesome looking Member's Choice of Cal Ripken.

 Pack 32-
Cards I needed: 3/16
Dupes: 13/16
Hall of Famers: 1/16
 Thin pack, but at least we got a cool Glavine out of it.

 Pack 33-
Cards I need: 3/16
Dupes: 13/16
Guys who were huge in 1992: 3/16
Hall of Famers: 1/16

 Really fun looking shots here of two superstars in '92. Thomas is optimistic, leaning on some bats. Johnson's is a great shot of Shea in the background.

 Pack 34-
Cards I needed: 4/15
Dupes: 11/15
Guys the Yankees traded for Rickey Henderson: 1/15
Guys the Yankees landed years later that made me feel better: 1/15

 Plus side- Tino Martinez sitting pretty on the M's
Minus side- Luis Polonia existing.

 Pack 35- Nothing.

Pack 36- Just one card I needed. Hell of a way to end the box.

So...did I end up completing this series? Well, I compiled everything after the break, and fortunately I DID get all 300 cards in the set, bringing me to 600 total on the set, and 300 left to go, with S3.

Sometime next week I will begin the Series 3 break. I will say the collation is a TON better than this box.