Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: The Year in Review

I just got in from Texas last night, which is why you haven't heard from me since a few days ago, with the exception of preplanned posts. Austin, Texas is nice this time of year, but home is nicer.

2013, on the whole, was a lot less intimidating than I had previously expected, and it was a thousand times more fun than anyone could have expected. While I may have only attended one baseball game, or only broke boxes every so often, I still had an amazing year.

So, like always, I'll recount the many awesome things that happened to me this year, beginning with 'this was the year that...." Because, if anything, I'm consistent.

This was the year that Topps almost completely lost my respect. Sure, they put out good sets, but they're uninspired, and they're unoriginal.

This was the year that I started paying more attention to football than ever before, predicting every game, every matchup, every week. And it damn near killed me.

This was the year that I was in big cities such as Boston, Austin, and Long Island (?), and didn't go looking for a card shop. Matter of fact, in Austin I was more interested in locating a record store.

This was the year that, speaking of records, I found off Amazon a nice, generally inexpensive turntable. And it's amazing.

This was the year that two of my favorite players retired, those being Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay. I have watched both pitch, and I am proud to say that I was in Yankee Stadium to see the greatest closer of all time work his magic. I'm not awesome enough to have attended either of Halladay's perfect games, but I watched from home. I will miss both, tremendously.

This was the year that the local mall that had served as the catalyst of getting me into card shows announced that their October show would be its last. I celebrated by scraping the greatness out of all the ten-cent bins.

This was the year that Alfonso Soriano rejoined my team. And he was excellent.

This was the year that I got my driver's license, because I stuck the landing on the k-turn I was complaining about last year.

This was the year that I ran into the man who had given me Adironpacks for a few straight years in Lake George, NY. He was running a mall sports shop, and he wasn't happy. And there were no cards. It's a shame what this hobby does to people.

This was the year that I started making football customs, and they were generally pretty nice.

This was the year that I asked a girl to the prom, and she said yes. And we're currently still together, and she makes me so happy.

This was the year that, on television, Survivor gave us two really nice seasons, the Big Bang Theory got even more acclaim than it already had, Arrested Development came back (don't spoil it, I'm still Netflixing season one), and Dexter landed with a thud.

This was the year that I pulled a game used card of Andrew McCutchen out of a pack, and then he went onto win the NL MVP, a year after pulling a Buster Posey card. So I guess I'll be looking for a three-peat.

This was the year that I broke more hobby boxes of stuff than ever before. First, I got a nice load of football boxes in August from an undisclosed source, which gave me a lot of awesome stuff. Then, I ordered two 90's Stadium Club boxes off Amazon, with pretty nice results.

This was the year that I finished my second screenplay, which was a bit more fun than the first.

This was the year that more people started reading the blog, and I averaged more views on posts, and got some of my highest numbers from my football posts. More people are watching. It's phenomenal.

This was the year that I thought Panini was putting more effort into their products than Topps was, and they don't even have a license. Hopefully this continues into 2014.

So, that was my year. There might have been a bit of dismay in there, but I enjoyed myself. And I hope 2014 is even better, and has even more amazing moments.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Uncustomed Heroes of Baseball: Yankees

 This was a crazy year for my Yankees. We didn't make the playoffs, but we outdid everybody's expectations by not coming in dead on arrival. We had people like Ivan Nova that stayed consistent and kicked ass, even when everyone else was mediocre.
 We had people like Vernon Wells, who was a complete surprise, and who outdid everyone's expectations in returning to his home-run-hitting form for a couple months.
Lastly, we had people like Andy Pettitte, who finished off the season, and their career, with a bed of Yankee fans cheering them on, and with a supportive fanbase. I made this custom back when he retired, and I was gonna post it, but never got around to it. I'll miss Andy especially, even though he got overshadowed by Mariano Rivera, which is understandable.

This Yankee team was fun, and it was sentimental. Without Rivera, Cano, Granderson and Pettitte, the team's gonna be very different in 2014.

I'm back on the East Coast by now, so expect one big end of the year post tomorrow, and I'll get to the best customs of the year sometime in the next few days.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Uncustomed Heroes of Baseball: White Sox

 Funny story. I predicted the White Sox to be in the world series sometime in December 2012. I said it would be a Dodgers-White Sox series. You can see how far off I was. At least in the AL.

Paul Konerko will likely be retiring after 2014. A shame, too. He's a great player, a great 'mainstay' you can always count on.
Alexei Ramirez...funny story (again). A friend of mine took me to a Phillies game this year, and he knew basically nothing about baseball. So I had to explain which players were good, and which teams were good when. And it baffled him that someone could exist with the name Alexei Ramirez. He said 'sthat mean he's Russian and Spanish?'

Coming Tomorrow- The Yankees. And the last customs you'll see until Spring Training photos show up.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Uncustomed Heroes of Baseball: Twins

 This is one of my favorite shots of 2013. This may also be very high on the Top Customs list I will no doubt be waiting until 2014 to make. I mean, I'm writing this post from Texas. I might have to wait until I get back to Jersey to pick my faves, but this should be on there.
Meanwhile, Kevin Correa's shot is, like his 2013 performance, forgettable, but the best I could get.

Coming Tomorrow- A few of the Chicago White Sox.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Uncustomed Heroes of Baseball: Tigers

 I love this shot. If this was an actual card, people would still be showing it on the blogs all over.

Either way, the Tigers had another really, really nice season in 2013, only falling short due to the unstoppable Red Sox team. Austin Jackson wasn't nearly as big as he was in 2012, but he was nice as an outfielder.
 Anibal Sanchez was another piece of that meaty Detroit rotation, behind Scherzer, Verlander and Fister. I'm just happy he got out of Miami while he could.
Victor Martinez wishes it was 2008 and this was Cleveland. It sadly isn't, and V-Mart is an overrated DH.

Coming Tomorrow- The Twins were disappointing in 2013, but here are two people that are sticking around.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Uncustomed Heroes of Baseball: Royals

 The Royals actually had a pretty nice season in 2013, even if they didn't make the playoffs. Billy Butler is becoming their huge star, replacing Alex Gordon as Mr. Kansas City. Unless he gets traded, he'll probably be there for a while.
 Salvador Perez had another nice season behind the plate, with another All Star nod. Under-the-radar star, I guess?
And Greg Holland was Kansas City's 'middle reliever that plays well this season and this season alone' for 2013. Danny Duffy and Aaron Crow would be proud.

Coming Tomorrow- The Tigers had another nice season, and here are three core members of that team.

2013: The Year in Irony

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that I can't seem to predict things correctly.

Really. I'm wrong a lot. I'm the blogosphere's worst oracle, and gleefully so. A lot of these things I get wrong are easy to guess from hindsight, and more like 50/50, with me taking the wrong side.

Still, like last year, I think I owe it to you guys to depict everything I was wrong about in 2013. We'll start riiiiight in the offseason, in late 2012, and we'll see how ridiculous this gets.

November 2nd, 2012: The first post of the offseason, even, on Torii Hunter's potential trade to the Yankees. "He is indeed a fun player, but he might be too old to perform for us." Hunter had a comeback season in Detroit. Yet I imagine he would have never came back big had he gone to the Bronx.

November 7th 2012: "So there. I want 2013 to be an absolutely immaculate year for steroids. Nobody will get caught. I can already see myself being incredibly wrong." EXACTLY TWENTY DAYS LATER! SERIOUSLY!

November 13th 2012, and this is probably my most embarrassing one, on how the firesale deal helped the Blue Jays: "Ensures that Boston will end up in last (I really hope I don't end up calling this irony next year)" Yes. I said that. I predicted that the Blue Jays would push the Red Sox to last, and then I predicted I'd be wrong about it. Man, I'm outdoing myself.

November 16th 2012: This is off topic, but read this. This was the one, strongly opinionated thing that I was 100% right about this year, and it's almost like I knew it was coming.

November 28th 2012: "Today, the Reds signed someone to do Aroldis Chapman's old job. So either he's getting a promotion or he's getting cut." Okay, I was really off, because I banked on the fact that Jonathan Broxton could still close games. He couldn't. He barely even did anything for Cincinnati. Secondly, Chapman wasn't promoted or cut. He's better as a closer, because if he started he'd lose his fastball even more. Chapman, like the Hulk, is better in smaller increments, as I'd explain in a later post.

January 6th, 2013: My first crack at predicting NFL matchups. 0-4. All of these were wrong. I predicted a Packers-Seahawks NFC Championship, and a Texans-Broncos AFC Championship. Boy was I off.

February 28th 2013: "I think Chris Young is the outfielder that Oakland needs right now." Well, seeing as how they didn't really need him at all during the postseason, not really.

March 2nd, 2013: On Eric Hosmer: "I think he's gonna do well in 2013. I don't know if his Royals will, but I think he'll have a decent enough year." Surprisingly, it was the opposite. Royals were great, Hosmer was not.

March 3rd 2013: "Pablo Sandoval is just too much of a fun player to have a down season." Well, it wasn't fun seeing him get hurt this year.

March 4th 2013: Four screw-ups in five days. Takes skill. "Though my Yankees are a series of question marks, I feel like the Phillies are going to do slightly better this year." While the Yankees finished in third, like the Phils, the Yanks had a better record, and had a much better chance than the Phils of making the playoffs.

March 7th 2013: "Choo is an aging outfielder, and his best years have most likely past, unless something spectacular happens this year." This year was a definite comeback season for Shin-Soo Choo, so I retract that.

March 18th 2013: On Prince Fielder: "I don't know about him appearing in another World Series, but you never know."  I was right, here, but I was very, very close to being wrong.

March 29rd 2013: "Still, Wieters will likely have a strong season, make it to another All Star Game, and maybe, just maybe, lead his team to the playoffs again." No, no, annnnnd no.

April 1st 2013: On Bryce Harper's double homer debut to 2013: "remember folks that this is only the beginning. He hits two today. Imagine how many he'll hit over the course of 161 more games." 18.

April 17th 2013: On the Dodgers: "It's sad, because a lot of these people deserve better than third place." You know, I was right. They didn't. Which is why they settled for 2nd in the NL.

April 22nd 2013: I make a joke in this post that since I'd already been talking about perennial themes, I would tomorrow have a post that would be wrong by the end of the year. Well, the post was actually kinda accurate, so that counts as a wrong item. However, at the end of this post, I call the Rockies the best team in baseball.

May 8th 2013: "Can Soriano do anything at all to reestablish his ability to hit consistently? Well, it doesn't look like it, however if he's traded to a team that isn't the Chicago Cubs, maybe he can hit slightly better." Wow, I was actually right about this. How about that?

May 23rd 2013: On the D-Backs: "And if they keep it up, this team will be very, very big come September." Hahahaha. No. Really, no.

June 16th 2013: Not too long after I posted this about Evan Gattis, he gets injured and benched for the better part of the season. Wow. I'm that good.

June 19th 2013: I start a sentence on consistency by saying "It's why nobody is too surprised that Dan Uggla's hitting well". This season was Uggla's most inconsistent in terms of overall offense. I just doomed people this year.

June 25th 2013: On the Twins: "They don't have a big time prospect, because they're been giving most of those away." Their big two were just climbing up the farm system right after I posted this.

July 2nd 2013: Whole post about Cuddyer's streak. That night he breaks it. My fault.

July 23rd 2013: On Soriano: "I don't think he'll perform as well as he did for the us back in the early 2000's. I don't know if this is gonna work for us. I just don't." He ended up playing beautifully for us in the last half of the season.

September 1st 2013: I never resolved the predictions for September, so here goes:
1. Great baseball stories, like the rise of the Pirates and Dodgers, to reach fulfillment, and not keel over and die come postseason. Sadly, these two teams fell in the postseason, however the Red Sox became an even bigger baseball story.
2. Somebody to stick a fork in the Rangers', Red Sox' and Cardinals' seasons. 2 out of 3 ain't bad.
3. Mariano Rivera to finish out the regular season strong, and if his final season ends there, I hope it goes out with a bang. It did indeed, with a gigantic, emotional bang. Mo will surely be missed.
4. The Phillies to at least not finish in last. Done. Thanks, Marlins and Mets.
5. A setup to a playoffs that won't have me shaking my head and turning on the Eagles game. The Eagles games in September made me want to watch baseball.

September 3rd, 2013: "Still, I hope the Bucs at least exceed expectations heeded by the last couple seasons of not making the playoffs." How about blowing everyone's expectations for half the season, and pissing off their underrated QB, and replacing him with an okay rookie? How's that?
September 8th, 2013: With these football predictions, I could write a book, so I'll just pick the most embarrassing prediction from each week. I picked the Vikings to win over Detroit. I even said "This will be the season where Ponder breaks out, I think. If not...then I'm just wrong again, I guess." I was wrong again.

September 15th, 2013: My worst prediction this week was picking the Eagles over the Chargers, flying too high on last week's win. Yeah, that didn't go too well.

September 22nd, 2013: I picked the Vikings to win over the Browns. Hell, I even said "We're talking about one of the stronger offenses in the NFL, a young, yet playoff-experienced quarterback, and a nice defense, going up against the Cleveland Browns. Yeah. I really hope this isn't massive irony." You can say I saw this coming!

October 6th, 2013: I picked the Texans to win over the 49ers, saying " Still, the Texans are the tougher team, and they'll probably win it." Tough they were...last season.

October 13th, 2013: Man, I kept overshooting the Vikings. I said they're beat the Panthers, saying they were a much better team. Jeez, I'm not even a Vikings fan.

October 20th, 2013: I said the Eagles would take down the Cowboys. My ending quote was this: "The game will end with a shot of Jerry Jones weeping on the Jumbotron, yet still trying to sell his tears as the greatest tears in the world." Nothing close to that.

October 22nd, 2013: I spent an entire post going over how I pompously predicted the Broncos to defeat the Colts, when it was the opposite. Also one of my funniest of the year.

October 27th, 2013: My sole oversight here was predicting the Eagles would win over the Giants. This was before the Legend of Nick Foles reared its head in Philly.

November 3rd, 2013: I said the Raiders would take down my Eagles, "Because sometimes you can just see the disappointment coming a mile away." I saw wrong. I was terrible at this. Predict they win when they lose, predict they lose when they win. I feel like Terry Bradshaw.

There are probably a couple more lurking somewhere, but I'm ending it here, for fear of the post running way longer than it should.

So yeah. I was wrong too damn many times in 2013. I'll probably be wrong even more in 2014, though I could be wrong.

Just When You Think All Hope Is Lost

Aaron Rodgers will play Game 17, as opposed to watching from the sidelines. Which means two things.

A. One of the game's best QBs is healthy, confident, and ready to potentially nab a playoff spot.
B. This guy better watch his back.

Oh, Sunday is gonna be so awesome.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Customs for Christmas: Rockies

 The Rockies had a nice start but ended up being pitiful in 2013, which is more than Roy Oswalt can say. He was pitiful all the way through. Poor guy, too.
Nolan Arenado had better luck, having a decent season as the Rockies' starting 3rd baseman, hoping to become a fixture with the departure of Todd Helton.

Coming Tomorrow- A few from the Royals. And yes, I only plan on doing one customs post tomorrow.

Customs for Christmas: Red Sox

 Yes, we have to commemorate those pathetic bearded scoundrels that won the World Series. I mean, it's not as bad as, say, the Cardinals winning, but it's pretty bad. Jon Lester's a nice pitcher, possibly the best on that staff.
 Jonny Gomes' beard looks like it's worn over the ears. It's like that old disguise Bugs Bunny used to wear to fool Yosemite Sam. This shot is right after he had an RBI during the final game of that series.
John Lackey also was on the Red Sox this year, and managed to stay healthy for most of the season, which is rare for post-Anaheim John Lackey.

I'll get to one more team tonight, I think.

Customs for Christmas: Reds

 I went through 2013 without making a Joey Votto custom. I am slightly ashamed. Either way, he gets an awesome one now to commemorate his awesome season.
 Bronson Arroyo will likely be playing for another team next year, but he's become one of the game's better fringe players, alongside Chien-Ming Wang, Juan Pierre, and Nick Swisher.
This is a nice shot of Mat Latos' tattoos. He also had a nice season, but the tats are all people seem to care about.

I'll follow up with the Red Sox a little later on.

Customs for Christmas: Rays

 The Rays were able to clinch the AL Wild Card in 2013, but you wouldn't know that by the way that the Red Sox kicked their asses afterwards. Like, they were in the postseason one second, and then they were out.

I think this is my first Ben Zobrist custom. I never really got the appeal of the guy. Just another shortstop in the AL East. Jeter doesn't need competition.
 Fernando Rodney's season was nowhere near as good as his 2012 season, but he was an active closer in a division carrying a legend. Who knows if he'll be any good in 2014, but he probably will.
James Loney actually had a pretty nice comeback season. But being that it took place in Tampa, not too many people noticed.

Will get to the Reds a little later on.

Customs for Christmas: Rangers

 Merry Christmas, everybody! Here's some cards of a slumping Rangers team!

Derek Holland was alright this season, but lacked the oomph of his 2012 start.
 Lance Berkman is definitely on the downslope, having a poor, injury-laden season in his return to Texas. A shame, too, because he seemed fine two years ago.
Aannd Joe Nathan had another awesome season this year, finally reclaiming his consistency as an awesome closer. Next year he will take over as the Tigers' closer. Which means Jose Veras can go away.

In a few hours, I'll post another team's customs, and that'll be the whole day. These will be programmed, thankfully.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Uncustomed Heroes of Baseball: Pirates

 I know, I already made a McCutchen custom. I just felt like giving him another one. I'm in a giving kinda mood, anyway. Tis the holiday season, and all.

I absolutely love the fact that the Pirates broke .500 this year. That means that positively anything can happen.
 Meanwhile, Marlon Byrd, fresh off his stint in Queens, is now back in Philly for 2014, which may or may not bode well. You never know. He underwhelmed when we had him last.
I'm glad Burnett is doing better in Pittsburgh. He just couldn't take being a Yankee, I guess. I mean, aside from the 2009 season.

Coming Tomorrow- I'm going to do a few of these posts throughout the day, in order to catch up with where I should be. Expect four or five.

A box of 1994 Stadium Club Series 2 (Part 3)

8 more packs of this box left to finish up today, and I'll say I had a lot of fun opening it. Any 90's Stadium Club box is a fun one, as they have a lot of great photography, plus a lot of effort was put into it back then, which can't be said for a lot of Topps products these days. Plus, even if there's crappy collation, and cards that stick together, it's a great nostalgia set, cause you can look at players like Wally Joyner, Bob Hamelin or Marty Cordova, and chuckle over the fact that they were popular once.

This pack, Pack 17, had a lot of doubles, plus a card of Cory Snyder, 10 seasons in and still awful.
Five cards that were a big deal in 1994. The Salomon Torres card was the big rookie issue, even landing on the cover of the box. Man, the fact that I'd never heard of him before this sorta washes away the hype. Also, there's a John Franco card, and a shiny Deion Sanders. Also, a Tom Glavine Quick Start, but it's roughed up.
Pack 18- More doubles, yet artsy doubles.
A couple of awesome sideways shots, especially the Kevin Roberson. Also, a Frank Thomas insert, and a better copy of the aforementioned Glavine.
Pack 19-
All doubles.
Tom Browning was still popular in 1994? Wow. Also, that Teddy Higuera card is awesome. Really nice shot.
Annnnd four ridiculously awesome cards. They include-
  • A really nice shot of Jeff Conine, decked out in teal.
  • A roughed up Mike Mussina card. I love that shot, which is sad, because the stuck-ness sort of ruins whatever he's standing behind.
  • A card of Hall-of-Famer Barry Larkin
  • Another amazing shot, this one of Mark Lemke. This would be a great opportunity to take another jab at a blogger who collects Lemke, but I'll pass.
Pack 20- I got a lot of doubles in this pack.
Sole survivors of the double epidemic. The Thompson shot is another really nice one. The Danny Tartabull card reminds me of how much of a disappointment he was as a Yankee. All he ever amounted to was a Seinfeld bit. "...and if Danny Tartabull were here right now, he'd say..." And also, I got a card of the guy Tartabull was trying to be, Dave Winfield, in a Twins uniform. Winfield would done only one more AL Central uniform before retiring, as an Indian.
Pack 21- Wow, a reminder that Craig Paquette exists.
Not a lot of highlights here, although we do have a card of John Wetteland, before he was traded to the Yankees and became a World Series hero.
Pack 22- doubles.
The Mike Deveraux card is a really nice one, as is the John Patterson.
The highlights include a silver foil, a card of Lou Whitaker, a RYNE SANDBERG card, and the box's 2nd first day issue, of Kevin Rogers. However, the box's 2nd two-per-pack parallel trumps the first...
That is a Tony Clark '94 Bowman Preview, which is a little more colorful than the actual Bowman '94 design. But who cares. It's pretty sweet.
Pack 23-
A lot of doubles. I do not miss 90's collation.
That Cal Eldred card is pretty nice. I keep forgetting how late the Astros wore their orange shoulder unis.
Two awesome Dodgers. One, an Orel Hershiser, featuring Grass fillings and a shopping card that makes more sense if I look at it closely. Who cares what he's doing, it's Orel. This reminds me, I have to do an Orel Hershiser post one of these days, as he has a tie to me and my hometown. And also, the box's 2nd '94 Bowman preview, a much nicer one, it's Mike Piazza. He should be a Hall of Famer, because I doubt he took steroids.
Pack 24-
More doubles.
The lone 'okay' cards, including a cool Dave Magadan.
Two people who will likely be unfairly passed over for Coopestown induction this January round out the pack. Schilling is eventually going to get in, I imagine. Trammell has no shot. I don't think he deserves it, really. But either way, they're both great to pull.

Well, that was 1994 Stadium Club. What else is there to say? I love it. I had a great time ripping it. Anything anybody saw in these packs that looks awesome, shoot me a trade request.

Also, I took a risk, and I might have ordered, from Amazon, another box. And it may have been a box of Stadium Club again. And it might have been from 1995. So be on the lookout for that.