Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Baseball Hall in 2019: Yes, There are Cards

My family, as I've written about on this blog a few times before, will often take a week in August and go up to Lake George, NY with the extended family, and just sit on a porch and drink for a bit.

Usually when we're up there, someone will get the bright idea to suggest driving an hour or so up to Cooperstown to see the Baseball Hall of Fame. Usually my dad and I drive. It's always a rotating number of relatives, young and old, going for different reasons, but I always look to see what's new, what's different.

Seeing Mariano Rivera in a plaque was definitely new and different. Just like it's gonna be when Jeter gets his this year, if there even is a ceremony. Mariano Rivera was one of the defining Yankees of my upbringing, and it was a joy to watch him pitch. And it was even more of a joy to see him in Cooperstown, next to so many other legends of the game.

Below, are some findings, some things I thought were interesting:

 The emphasis on wild memorabilia and branding is one I've always loved there. Where else can you  find Sammy Sosa cereal, Albert Pujols Uno and Jose Reyes' wine?

 As you'll see below, there's a ton more emphasis on baseball cards at the Hall than there ever was, even just peppered throughout other exhibits. I loved these two being here, especially the Washington Colbert.
And, in an exhibit about the 70s A's, you kind of have to talk about the cards, because the cards were just as 70s-y as that team.

 More 70s fun. THAT OSCAR GAMBLE CARD, MAN. Proudly in there.
 Not sure what's the cooler part of this late-70s standee- a bottle of Ron Guidry's Louisiana Lightning hot sauce, or a first edition hardcover of one of my favorite-ever baseball books.

VHS CASES, MAN. Heck, Little Big League is in there, so you know they went in depth with these.

 I'd heard of some of these candy bars that'd been on display there, but not these three. The Pronk bar is an especially cool one. Travis Hafner was great and all, but you never expect to see him on a candy bar wrapper. The other two, yeah, I can definitely see.

One of the cooler parts of the Hall now is seeing contemporary baseball memorabilia show up, parts of players and teams you grew up with now part of history. Like Ichiro's hit counter. Man, Ichiro's gonna have his own wing when he gets in around 2025.

 In addition to the obvious kinds of collectibles, I also love them doing other kinds of things people can collect, like some cool bobbleheads. That Yadier Molina's a lawn gnome I think? I don't know.
One of the big things I collect  in addition to cards is ballpark pins, or baseball pins in general, and seeing a whole board of countless MLB pins and mementos of teams and places and things- MAN that is cool.

 Yes, the 2010s Giants have their own standee here as well, which  makes me happy, as that's one of the first teams I can say I saw right when they got big. A Brian Wilson beard is nice, but where's a Kung Fu Panda hat?
 Me, my dad, and my cousin Ian laughed at this one's inclusion. Sad thing is that's the closest Jenrry Mejia's ever getting to being in the Hall.

And yes, folks. Bartolo Colon does have some stuff in the Hall of Fame. I was worried, too.

 More proof that the Hall is catching up to modern trends- Players Weekend uniforms. This one is Brad Boxberger's and it's awesome, though I reckon Mark Melancon's from last year may be the next standard.


 Over at the Today's Game lockers, my boys were pretty well represented.

A Nats nesting doll. I took this before they got really hot, so this now looks really good post-WS win.

This is a cool piece of fan giveaway material- I also kinda love that they got AC/DC to do Hell's Bells for Trevor on occasion. Also, fun fact- the Hall's gift shop had a discounted Trevor Hoffman shirt in my size. So I now have that in my repertoire.

 Their exhibit on feats and records hasn't especially changed dramatically, but I do love that a Wade Boggs Rays jersey is sitting there. More people need Wade Boggs Rays stuff in their collections.

 This felt nice. Reeeeeally nice.

 Good to see K-Rod in here as well. Feels weird that him setting the saves record was only 12 years ago.
Right, as a 6'7 blogger, I should probably show this as well. Jon Rauch is the tallest guy to play the game, and he was nasty as heck when he played for Washington and Minnesota. And, by comparison, they put an Eddie Gaedel cut-out there.

 As usual, they have a glass case dedicated to the previous year's World Series winner. Whenever I come here, either the Sox have just won or the Cardinals have just won. I did enjoy the year when the Phils had won and Brad Lidge was here, but...fine, Steve Pearce. Fine.
....fine fine fine fine fine

Whatever, that WAS a good team in 2018 anyway.

 Usually they use a room downstairs near the plaques where they present the new inductees, but because there were so damn many in 2019, they had a separate room for them. Here's Harold Baines' stuff. I still don't entirely think he deserved induction, but who am I to disagree with the BBWAA?

 Seeing Edgar's stuff was very nice. My uncle, the long-suffering Mariners fan, loved Edgar, and was so excited that he finally got in. As was I.
 Of course...Mo's stuff was the biggest crowd pleaser. No real pomp, just some accolades, some rings, that legendary #42. What else do you need?
 The other guy I was really interested in seeing on display was Roy Halladay, a Philly hero of mine. Glad to see both his Cy Youngs, and a 2003-era Jays uniform. Made me very proud.

 Lee Smith was one of two HOF inductions I'd been holding out for for years, and seeing his stuff was nice too. That college jacket is a nice touch..
 As is this bit, detailing all 8 teams he played for. Would have preferred a different choice for the Angels than that awful 96 Donruss design, but...whatever. At least 94 Fleer made it.

And of course, Mike Mussina. Weird that we have an O's uniform but no Yankee uniform, but arguably his tougher numbers came in  Baltimore, so I get it.

I promised cards earlier, and...
 Yes. AN ENTIRE EXHIBIT ON BASEBALL CARDS. No longer just glass cases against a wall in a back corner. AN ENTIRE EHIBIT.
 This is a blurry photo, but they had these organized by year, and by types of sets. So 1981 Topps was well-represented. Mario Mendoza's card was in there for...dubious reasons.

 Great choices for 2010 and 2011- NATIONAL CHICLE IS IN THE HALL. One of the few sets I've tried to collect, makes it in. I love it.
Also, 2011 Gypsy Queen minis and 2011 Heritage.
This was the newest page, with some 2018 and 2019 Topps. It's a bit less interesting now that Topps has flooded the market, but this is still fine.

 This exhibit went into detail about things that may not be so commonplace to casual baseball fans, like competition in the 80s from Donruss, Fleer and Upper Deck
 Heck, there's even  a bit devoted to the Junk Wax era. How cool is that?

 And some notes on what makes 'hits' in modern collecting, like game used cards and refractors and such. Plus, a genuine 2019 Topps wrapper.

It gets more granular than that, going into detail on different types of card shots. They REALLY did well here.

 Heck, they even  go into detail on font, design, border, COLOR PALETTE. I kinda love it.

 AND CARD DOCTORING. Reminds me, I need to write a post on my dad's on card doctoring.


 An actual vending machine, promising a better business model than the cockamamie 10-cards-for-3-bucks model we have now.

Hell, they even have some fun  error cards here, like the Aurelio Rodriguez, the Smoltz/Glavine, and the Aaron negative.

One last shot of my dad with  some of the pull-out cabinets of cards. This is a very cool exhibit, and I love that somebody must have really done research and talked to collectors while putting this together. A shame people can't visit it now given the circumstances, but...this was fun to go to last year.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Just For the Hell of it, a Blaster of 2020 Gypsy Queen

It's a weirdness I've never experienced because I wasn't alive in 1994,'s very weird having a moment in time where there's no baseball, but there' on the shelves. Like, new cards.

It's slightly counterproductive. Successive card products being released for a season that's yet to start, and may be a little while away [had a dream it was pushed til September. The hell's the point of that? Snow-ball?].

And yet, I'm out in the aisles of a deserted Target to get some air, passing nonexistent other customers, and there are cards on the shelves. Gypsy Queen is out. Usually when Gypsy Queen's out, we're comparing the airbrushings on those cards to the real things playing their first round of new baseball. Now...we have nothing else to go by. The airbrush jobs are our reality.

So here's a blaster of 2020 Gypsy Queen, fresh off the shelf, adored by Philly hero (?) Bryce Harper. I'll tally up the airbrush jobs, and rate them.

55- Trea Turner. I pull Trea Turner cards a lot.
267- Peter Lambert
300- Mike Trout. Well at least I pulled the big one.
15- Justin Smoak. Airbrush job #1- he's shopped into a Brewers uniform from a Toronto one. Not only that, it's a new Brewers uniform. You can see the patch and hat insignia slapped on, but it's not bad. 6/10
227- Oscar Mercado

Pack 1-
246- Brusdar Graterol, now on the Dodgers. Perhaps foolishly
66- Kirby Yates
286- Domingo Leyba [come and open the gate] [I don't care if it's an obscure reference i just watched that movie the other night and it's still great]
186- Evan Longoria BLUE BORDER NUMBERED TO 250. I have such weird luck with Gypsy Queen parallels. One time I pulled an Eddie Mathews mini #d to 199 out of retail. Coolest thing.
196- Mitch Keller
290- Tommy La Stella

Pack 2-
269- Jorge Soler, home run slayer and probable future bad Yankee investment
265- Sam Hilliard
115- Dustin 'Gingergaard' May
49- Brandon Crawford
118- Ender Inciarte

Pack 3-
134- Tim 'Taz' Anderson
257- Willi Castro. The other thing about GQ is they couldn't tell with Tigers were gonna catch on so they just made some educated guesses
262- Andres Munoz
68- Randy Arozarena- airbrush job #2, in a Rays uniform from a Cardinals uniform. The uniform logo looks pasted in some points and adorned in others. The gloves are well hued though. 7/10
98- GERRIT COLE AS A YANKEE. Intriguing airbrush job (#3) this one, as he's not only in a Yankee uniform from an Astros one, but he's got a different, less wild back of the head, due to the Yankee freshening up rule. So they probably grabbed another Yankee scalp and put it on his, which is odd. Still, it works, and the uni is well hued to be blue. 8/10

Pack 4-
207- Paul deJong
5- Dom Nunez. Lots of Rockies rookies
63- Austin Nola. There's ONE Nola brother
109- Andrelton 'Simba' Simmons
259- Starlin Castro, Airbrush Job #4. This is a weird one, as it's a Nats uniform from a Marlins one. On the surface, it looks great, as it looks like a great uniform, which makes me think they pasted Castro's head and arm on there. I dunno if that arm tattoo is his. Very interesting. But, as for the airbrush/paste, 9/10
150- Cody Bellinger. The other big MVP to pull

Pack 5-
239- Nick Senzel
188- Matt Chapman
166- Max Scherzer. No shortage of star power in these packs
TAROT OF THE DIAMOND insert of Alex Bregman, aka THE JOKER. DAMN RIGHT. I like Alex Bregman as much as I like the 2019 film 'Joker'.
175- Hyun-Jin Ryu, airbrush job #5, which is an easy one, as it's Blue Jays from Dodgers. So, color is fine, uniform grey is fine, pasting is fine. Even the cap insignia looks natural. 9/10
264- Trevor Bauer as a Red, which is a welcome sight after UPDATE LAST  YEAR DIDN'T HAVE IT.

Pack 6-
232- Aaron Civale
62- Dylan Cease. Curious as hell that he would have gotten the 5th starter job over Kopech. Very curious
86- Anthony Rizzo
215- Anthony Rendon as an Angel, Airbrush Job #6, Nats to Angels, which would have been a perfect airbrush job had it not been for a uniform air-ruffle that the Angels logo is pasted upon, which takes me out of it a bit. 8/10
191- Victor Reyes
180- Keston Hiura

Pack 7-
206- Christian Vazquez
52- Brendan McKay
229- Emmanuel Clase, traded to in the Corey Kluber deal.
271- Michael Brosseau. Still confused at Topps' insistence of calling him Michael. Like calling Castellanos 'Nicholas' and Boyd 'Matthew'.
249- Luis Castillo
282- AARON NOLA. There we go. Both Nola bros in the same blaster.

Not a bad blaster of this. I'm not the hugest Gypsy Queen fan, but this has some nice elements this year, and I got some nice pulls and airbrush jobs, 6 in total.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Nostalgic Box Break: 2002 Topps Total (Part Four)

Here now, the last 9 packs of a very nostalgic and interesting box of 2002 Topps Total. Expect more Nostalgic Box Breaks to follow until we get baseball back.

 Pack 28-
Guys I Have Never in My Life Heard Of: 6/11
Future Hall of Famers: 1/11
A very cool Total Production insert of Ichiro, in his second year (of 19). Ichiro might be one of those guys in contemporary baseball where you can't possibly be mad at pulling a card of them. There are very few people who fall into that category (Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Bo Jackson), and Ichiro's gotta be a charter member, despite his Yankee tenure.

 Pack 29-
Hall of Very Good: 3/11
Interesting Names: 1/11
 It's 2002, and I don't think Marlins prospect Wes Anderson had to disambiguate often. Give him 10 years and then he probably has to specify. 'No, I'm not the director, I'm just a forgotten former Marlins pitcher'.
Also, nice of Topps to give journeyman infielder Luis Sojo a sunset card.

Three very good players that are fun enough for fringe collectors to take upon. I still collect Beckett, and every once in a while I'll ponder if it's worth it to do Olerud.

 Pack 30-
Fringe NY Heroes: 2/11
Not much to report in this one, so here's a great mask shot of Eli Marrero and a solid shot of Brad Penny before he got big.

 Pack 31-
Guys Who Pitched Forever: 2/11
Legends Who Retired in 2019: 2/11
Ichiro's is the base, though it could be the checklist. Adrian's is technically a rookie. With Adrian, anything from 2000 to 2005 can be considered a rookie, because he didn't really start PLAYING-playing until 2005 or 2006. So all his Marlins issues are fun Pre-RCs, and I love pulling them. This is not TECHNICALLY his rookie, as he has 2000 issues,'s still a nice one.

 Pack 32- Wasn't a great deal in this one. Fernando Vina? Frank Catalanotto?

 Pack 33-
Hall of Famers: 2/11
Steroid Abusers: 2/11
 Luis Gonzalez was coming off his HUGE 2001 and his W.S. win.
Phil Nevin was just coming into his own as a Padres mainstay, which says a lot about the 2000s Padres

Robby Alomar was starting his tenure in Queens, a tenure that would not be very well remembered whatsoever, but this Topps Total insert looks cool.
MOOOOOOOSE. This was only his second year in the Bronx, and he was still killing it.

 Pack 34-
Future Managers: 2/11
Personal Favorites: 2/11
2010 Phillies: 2/11
 Mike Sweeney was just coming into his own as the requisite power hitter in KC. Joe Girardi's career was winding down, but he was still starting games in Chicago.

Our Topps Total insert is Aramis Ramirez, soon to be traded to Chicago. I'm still a fan of Robin V as a Yankee cards, as it's a very underrated, short tenure. And J-Rol is awesome, so I love pulling his cards as well.

 Pack 35-
Hall of Famers: 1/11
Fringe Heroes in Tampa: 1/11
 The Pudge is a cool one, as that's his last year in Texas til 2009. That's Grant Balfour's rookie, and that's a a Futures Game uniform, which is hella cool. And a Topps Total insert of Troy Glaus.

 Pack 36-
Guys With The Same Name of People I Roomed With in College: 1/11
Steroid Abusers: 2/11
HOFers: 1/11
Gotta end on Thome. Dude was a hero of mine in Philly. This is a cool enough insert of Jim Thome to end the box on.

So, that was 2002 Topps Total. It's a fun rip, and you get a lot of fringe guys and uniform combos you don't see often, well-seeded inserts and ample hero cards. But, if you're a set collector, one box won't do it for Total. I feel like I pulled like a third of the base set? I dunno. 360 cards? And it's a 1000 card set. So if you have enough to buy 3 boxes, then MAYBE you'll have a base set. Or...probably more.

Still, it's a cool break. I got what I wanted out of it.

I'm gonna do another one of these in the next few days. I have a few other boxes archived. I could go early-2000s or 90s.