Sunday, October 23, 2016

This Year

Well done, Cubs. Well done.

This year's World Series will be one for the ages. Two teams that haven't won in over half a century. One's been waiting over 100 years. Both want to win. Both took so many leaps to get here. This may be the World Series to end all World Series, and I am so ready to watch.

As for the runners up:

The Dodgers came a long way this season, giving some definite postseason effort and building a team with youth. Sadly, it didn't come to fruition this year, but they can definitely make it work in the near future. There's enough there, including Corey Seager, Kenta Maeda and that roster depth, that has a championship team in the making.

Now...onto wait for a World Series to die for.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Nostalgic Box Break: 1996 Stadium Club Series One (Part One)

In 2011, I was in Meredith, New Hampshire, and I found the one legitimate card shop in the Lake Winnapesaukee area, which was a nice little mom-and-pop card-ery. And yes, they had singles, but my main draw was the little array of cheap hobby boxes he had there. So, seeing something I liked, I picked up a box of 1996 Topps Stadium Club Series 2, for a discounted price (because this was a nice guy).

For the first time, I decided it'd be cool to post it on the blog, therefore giving the forerunner for the new, bestselling Nostalgic Box Break series that's been going on for a few years now. I'd link to the original posts, but it was an admittedly earlier attempt at a break, and I was trying to shoehorn it into a contest that...needed a few more rewrites. I'll let any diehards try and find it themselves.

Now, five years later, in the midst of my quest to collect every great Stadium Club set ever, I come back to 1996, with a box of 1996 Series One.

Some notes here. In my opinion, 1996 SC is the last great set in the series. After this, Stadium Club would be come smaller, more insert/hit-oriented, and way harder to collect. It was already becoming evident here, as I didn't do well in terms of set-completion (I'll be posting a want list...eventually, I think). However, the design was basically a step above the '95 release, and the photography was some of the more consistently cool stuff they'd have for a while.

24 packs in a box. 10 in each, which is a definite step back from '95. Let's dive into the first eight.

 Pack 1-
Cards I needed: 10/10
Hall of Famers: 2/10
Players Who Were Huge in 1996 but...not now: 1/10
 Every pack comes with one Team TSC card- it's a subset, sort of like the ones in '95 High Number, but they're basically a list of leaders, rookie stars, etc- and there are a ton. Here's Chuck Knoblauch, right before joining the perennial W.S. Champs.

 Base design is kinda cool, slightly more foil-reliant than usual, but minimalistic enough, and yes, still full bleed. Two base cards of nice players in very unfamiliar uniforms.

 BIP! Cardboard icon, seen here in a very cool double play card. Also, Juan Gonzalez also existed in the 90's.

 Plus, two really cool HOF cards- Boggs fielding, waiting for his very first World Series ring, and Roberto Alomar congratulating his teammates, just finding out of his deal to Baltimore.

 Pack 2-
Cards I needed: 10/10
Hall of Famers: 1/10
Hall of Quite-Good-ers: 2/10
Hall of Syringers: 1/10
 John Jaha's card is another reminder that the Milwaukee Brewers had the best cards of the 90's. Also, Galarraga's is a pretty cool lunging 1B card.

 Our Team TSC card was Will Clark, still a pretty nice player in '96.

 Two of the most dominant pitchers of the 90's. Johnson's going in my collection, though.

 Pack 3-
Cards I needed: 10/10
Hall of Famers: 1/10

 Quilvio Veras was the Team TSC insert in this pack, which says a lot about the '95 Marlins.

 In terms of cool star players, all that was here was ultra-closer Rod Beck, and HOF-er and...Twins manager for another year (?) Paul Molitor. Actually, he was on the Twins in '96, so this photo's sort of wrong.

 Pack 4-
Cards I needed: 10/10
Cy Young winners: 2/10
Perfect Game Throwers: 1/10
 David Wells, for half-a-season, was a Cincinnati Red. Weird, right? In '96, he'd be an Oriole. Also, Jack McDowell was still somehow a Yankee, though I doubt he was on hand for their victory parade.

 That Hentgen shot is a beauty, worthy of the eventual Cy Young winner. Also, Jim Edmonds is our Team TSC, and it's a pretty cool one.

 Pack 5-
Cards I needed: 10/10
Player-turned-Managers: 2/10
Yankee Faves: 1/10

 Walt Weiss, still an all-star caliber defender in '96, turning two, while Royce Clayton is doing his best Christopher Reeve that I'd like to see him trampled by a horse.

 Also, Matt Williams was about to embark on his last season in San Fransisco, before his amazing World Series season in Cleveland and his World Series WINNING stint in Phoenix.
Also, Mike Mussina was still powerful as ever in Baltimore.

 Pack 6-
Cards I needed: 9/10
Dupes: 1/10
Current Lovable Managers: 1/10
Former Survivor Contestants: 1/10

 Klesko was a nice bat in Atlanta, and Joe Girardi's probably one of the better defensive catchers of the 90's. Of course, now he's the Yankee manager and everyone loves him.

 Two Mets, one was still a killer closer, the other would need a trip to SanFran to gain his full power.

 Ken Caminiti was a year away from an MVP. Deion Sanders was a few years away from just sticking to football.

 Pack 7-
Dupes: 3/10
Cards I needed: 7/10
Guys Who Stayed With Their Team for About a Decade: 3/10

 Shawon Dunston has a great play in the field, and J.T. Snow has a nice running shot.

 The shadows on this Brad Radke card are pretty cool, plus here's a card of Eric Karros being kinda awesome.

 Pack 8-
Dupes: 2/10
Cards I needed: 7/10
Yankee Legends: 2/10

 Brett Butler, here in his final season in the bigs. Also, Derek Bell was 26 this season- this photo makes him look 46.

 David Justice was still a standout in Atlanta, but would eventually move to Cleveland.

On the left is an insert of Mickey Mantle, which is a pretty nice pull. On the right is a generally early-era card of Derek Jeter. Two of my heroes in the same pack. Well done, SC.

I'll post Part 2 in a few days. Inserts are coming.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Some Francona October Magic

...I bet you that nobody saw this one coming.

That's what I love about baseball. Teams who you underestimate can end up ruling the whole league. The Indians were counted out by everyone, stuck to their guns, loaded up and became the best team in the American league- they got hot at the right time, and they kept their raw materials strong.

This is thanks in part to a killer rotation, a nicely assembled outfield, and the amazing powers of Terry Francona to put together a World Series ready team.

I'm really excited to see what this team does in a World Series environment.

As for the dearly departed,

Look...the Blue Jays outdid my expectations, and did a lot with a depleted team. So I'm happy they made it this far. However...I'm a little happier that they didn't make the World Series. It wasn't...really theirs to take.

They had a nice season, snuck in and fought hard...but this was the Indians' year.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Playoffs Update: This May Go On For Longer Than We Thought Edition

...So, do you all remember when I said that the Blue Jays are better than letting the Indians win all four, and should try to win one?

...Yeah, I take that back, because it actually happened. The Indians had Corey Kluber on short rest and Josh Donaldson ate him alive. So...maybe I'm too good at this whole 'predicting shit' thing.

Look, I'm still rooting for the Indians, and now I'd very much prefer them to notch that last win once they get back to Progressive Field, get to the World Series, and get these filthy Canadians out of here.

No offense meant towards any Canadians reading this blog.


...Can you say 'Comeback Player of the Year'?

After a good 8 seasons of inadequacy, Rich Hill has not only mastered his ERA and reinstated himself as a knockout pitcher...but Rich Hill just completely owned Jake Arrieta, one of the best pitchers in baseball. He also shut down one of the best offenses in baseball, uh, THE CUBS. And now he put his Dodgers up 2-1.

So...he's definitely worthy of something, alright.

Look, even if I'm rooting for the Cubs, I'll still be...ALRIGHT...if the Dodgers win the NLCS. Like, they're a fun team and I could see them in the Series, but...I'd kind of prefer it to be the Cubs. It'd make so much more sense thinking about this season.

Still, tomorrow night we get another round of Dodgers and Cubs. Let's see how it goes down.

Nostalgic Box Break: 1995 Stadium Club High Number (Part Three)

This has been a cool box, but it's also had the collation of...well, of a Series 3. When you get a smaller set, you get worse collation. You'd think that'd lead to set completion, but I still needed a ton more from the set even after the rip. Just a ton of doubles, and a lot of double-printed subsets.

Still, it's a cool enough idea for a high-number set. And we've still got eight packs left, so...les'go.

 Pack 17-
Dupes: 7/13
Cards I needed: 6/13
Future Hall of Famers: 1/13

 Some pretty nice infielders. Durham played on some great Sox and Giants teams. Fonzie was a huge part of the mega-infield in Queens for a few seasons.

 This is a cool shot of Mike Ignasiak wearing his jersey backwards. I applaud the sentiment of putting on your uniform backwards for a cool SC shot. Also, the umpteenth absolutely amazing Brewers shot in this set.

 CHIPPAH. The great and powerful.
Also, Extreme Corps for the BoSox was Mo Vaughn, still technically good back then.

 Pack 18-
Cards I needed: 2/13
Dupes: 11/13
Future Yankees: 1/13

 One of the few remnants of David Cone's sliver of time on the Blue Jays before joining the WS-winning Yankees. Also, Juan Acevedo, to make Cone look cooler.

 Pack 19-
Cards I needed: 1/13
 This Ken Caminiti TransAction card was the only one in the pack that I needed. He'd be an MVP in a few years.

 Pack 20-
Cards I needed: 5/13
Dupes: 8/13

 Danny Darwin in a really nice sideways shot. Mark Whiten surprising me by being a Red Sox for a very short time.

 I already pulled this Belle, but here it is again, next to Pete Harnisch, one of the few highlights of a sad time for Mets fans.

 Pack 21-
Cards I needed: 2/13
Cards of Awesome Guys I Collect: 1/15

 Hideo Nomo, absolute beast in 1995, and...yeah, this is sort of a first-year card for him.
Troy O'Leary saved the Red Sox back in 1999. This year, his presence in the building in the ALDS could not save the Sox.

 Pack 22-
Dupes: 12/13
Cards I needed of legitimate heroes of mine: 1/13

 Fantastic. I needed one card in this pack, and it happens to be Hershie.
Orel's just been allowed back onto the HOF ballot (in the 'Today's Game' vets ballot). Hoping for the best.

 Pack 23-
Cards I needed: 2/13
Cards I needed who were once/currently Dodgers: 2/13

 Jose Offerman has a nice fielding shot, while Brett Butler reminds us all that, despite retiring as a Dodger, he did spend a little bit of time with the Mets.

 Pack 24-
Cards I needed: 2/13
Cards I needed that were current/future Yankees.

John Wetteland was the closer extraordinare in 1996. Ruben Sierra was the Yankees' DH in 2004.

That was 1995 SC High Numbers. I guarantee that the next box I post will be a little better in terms of collation, and possibly around the same time period and set.