Friday, April 25, 2014

Custom Card of the Day: Simmons Edition

Ah, 70's Throwbacks. Quite awesome.

Just like usual, the Braves have very quietly leapt to first place in the division. With all the things exploding below them, it's kinda a foregone conclusion that the Braves are in first. They have the least amount of things wrong with them.

I mean, the Braves still have problems. Uggla's far gone, the pitching staff is a bit scattered, there's a lot of youth, yada yada yada. Long story short, they're playing well. And Andrelton Simmons is the main catalyst here.

For a good two seasons, he's been one of the best defensive players in the NL. Like, the Braves needed someone like him, a defensive mainstay, especially as people like Brian McCann and Chipper Jones were leaving. I just hope he can keep it up, because I think he could become a huge leadership type of player for the Braves.

But will they stay on top amidst the madness? We've got a few more months to find out.

Coming Tomorrow (?)- Did somebody say massively hyped sophomore talents?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Custom Card of the Day: Happy 100th Wrigley Edition

I have nothing really against the Cubs. Sure, we all like to poke fun at them sometimes when they have bad seasons, but I can respect them, and I can respect their achievements. Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, Andre Dawson, and Fergie Jenkins have all established Hall of Fame careers as Cubs. And now, Wrigley Field is 100 years old.

Which is why it's kind of sad that their current squad is really nothing worthy of mention.

Jeff Samardzija, on any other team, would be the fifth starter. He would be the Kyle Kendrick of any other squad, just there to sift between the heavy hitters. This year, Samardzija is the #1 starter, thanks to last season. Think about this- a guy whose first full season as a starter was last season is now the most trusted starter on the Cubs. I mean, he can pitch well some games, but if anyone had to pick between him and Felix Hernandez, or him and Clayton Kershaw, they'd pick the other one.

I still respect him, because he's on my fantasy team and I need him to do well.

The rest of the team is mostly depleted, save for a surprisingly-surging Emilio Bonifacio, and slowly-sliding-out-of-relevance Starlin Castro. There really isn't much going on. And that's kind of sad.

Think of the last 100 years of Chicago Cubs fans, and how many times they've said 'wait until next year'. And what do they get in the most recent 'next year'? A bunch of prospect that never panned out, pitchers whose contracts aren't up yet, leftovers from other rosters, and no real credibility. I thought Theo Epstein was better than this. I'm assuming the farm system is surging, or at least I hope so.

I mean...the fans are showing up, because it's the 100th season. At least give them a team that keeps them in the seats! At this point, Cubs fans go because of the heritage, because of the past Cubs teams that MADE THEM Cubs fans. Not for the current roster. And that, for the umpteenth time, is sad.

The only thing you can do at this point is hope that it gets better, which is already a routine in Chicago.

Coming Tomorrow- the speedy infielder for the team atop the NL East.

Welcome to the Club

(The actual design had the actual 'highlight' on the back, so I squeezed it in)

Congratulations, Albert. You deserve it, especially after the career you've had this far. Here's to 100 more. Or, if possible, 263 more. No pressure, though. You're already a Hall of Famer, pretty much.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Custom Card of the Day: Abreu Edition

When really putting things into perspective, in the last ten or so years, the White Sox, I think, have the saddest story of any of the recent World Series winners. Their story is that they were never really contenders, except for one or two blips on the radar. Then they have the 2005 season, they win the World Series, pandemonium ensues.

With the exception of a Tampa-halted run in 2008, the White Sox haven't made a significant postseason move since. Keep in mind here, teams like the Rays and Astros can get there and never come back, but they'll be good for some years before becoming terrible again. They'll get close. The White Sox...haven't really gotten close in a while, since the WS win.

And that is exactly why they NEEDED someone like Jose Abreu.

I mean, as far as Cuban defectors go, Jose Abreu is not #1. He's not gonna be someone like Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig, who just hit home runs and conquer the media frenzy. I imagine Abreu is gonna lay low, and sloooowwwlly become a really nice player. He's hit some nice stuff in the last few weeks, and he's given the Sox a spark that, honestly, they haven't had since Frank Thomas' prime.

Hopefully Abreu will do something nice for the White Sox down the line, because they really deserve it.

Coming Tomorrow- Bad timing? Who cares. He's giving the Brewers some nice hits.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Custom Card of the Day: Pedroia Edition

I don't really hate Dustin Pedroia

I mean, I used to, a little bit, but now I can totally respect his leadership, and the fact that since Cano's slumping he'll probably be the starting 2nd baseman for the AL All Star team. I don't hate Ortiz either, because...I mean, come on, it's Big Papi for crying out loud.

So, this begs the question...which Red Sox do I hate?

  • Xander Bogaerts? Not yet. He hasn't done enough awful things against my teams yet. It may turn out to be him in a little while though, like...
  • Will Middlebrooks. Yeah, him I definitely hate. Just pops up as a rookie, and people just start talking about him solely because he's from Boston. Hasn't really done anything.
  • Jonny Gomes? Yeah, Mr. Pointy Beard's near the top of my list.
  • A.J. Pierzynski? Sorta hated him with Chicago. Now, he's generally despisable. He's not all the way there yet.
  • Shane Victorino? Hell, no. Of course I love Shane, he's an ex-Phillie!
  • Jon Lester? Definitely hate him.
  • Clay Buchholz? He's probably my go-to goat these days.
  • Grady Sizemore? Never. A good friend of mine's a Cleveland fan. I would never do that to him.
  • Edward Mujica? Cardinal + Boston= never a good combination.
  • Koji Uehara? Not really, though this could vary as the year goes on.
Coming Tomorrow: The newest hip rookie from Chicago. Not that side, the other side.

Custom Card of the Morning: Pineda Edition

I'm not too religious, but I at least know something about Easter, other than the whole 'jelly beans and chocolate bunnies' part. Therefore, I hope it's not too tasteless to be posting a custom of Michael Pineda today. He's the closest thing the MLB has to a resurrection.


Look, pretty much every Yankee fan thought his career was dead in the water back in 2013. He pitched a pretty nice 2011 season, came to us the next year, got injured and didn't show results until late last year.

Now, after a few very nice starts, Michael Pineda is becoming one of the stronger pitchers in the Bronx. How about that?

Only problem is I don't know if he's for real. I don't know if this is gonna last until the end of the season, or if he'll get hurt again or anything. I'm just glad that he's pitching well NOW, and that he's finally giving the Yankees some of the stuff we signed up for when we gave up Jesus Montero for him.

(Speaking of which, remember when we all thought losing Jesus Montero would be detrimental to our chances? Man, those were some strange days)

Coming Tonight: Speaking of eggs, a bald second baseman for the Sox.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Custom Card of the Day: Choo Edition

Always count on Shin-Soo Choo to somehow make an appearance within the first month of customs without really doing anything noteworthy. It just happens that way.

Unfortunately, the Rangers got to him this year. For those of you unacquainted, the Rangers are like the Yankees, to Yankee fans. They do all the Yankee-ish things: swallow up young players at the trade deadline/offseason, make numerous postseason trips, house infuriating players and history, and live near an equally infuriating football team (Giants, Cowboys...what's the difference?)

This year, the Rangers threw some actual likeable players into the mix, like Choo and Prince Fielder. Choo had a nice season in Cincinnati last year, so maybe he'll at least do well enough while keeping Texas from doing well again. I dunno.

Coming Tomorrow: Easter. Also, I'll post a few more customs.

Rookie Debut of the Week: George Springer

Prospect History: Drafted by the Twins in 2008, chose to go to college, redrafted by Astros in 2011, at 11th. Looking like that decision sorta paid off, as he could be a big player for Houston.

Debut: Struck out twice, had one hit. To the Astros, this is gold.

Impact he could have on league: If he makes it big, he could be a huge star for Astros, and either will bring them back from obscurity or be traded to Arlington in three years' time. If he doesn't make it big, the Astros won't know until five years too late.

Will his rookie cards sell?: I think they will eventually, but I don't think they'll sell at Harper levels. At least not yet.

2014 Gypsy Queen: Finally Moving Forward (Really!)

Gyspy Queen is one of those products that seems to always be there in the background, not really being too popular but still kinda there, without any real purpose. 2011's set was obviously the most well-formed, and well-designed. The quality has gone downhill a bit since then, with the 2012 and 2013 sets being disappointing, not including the consistently-stellar inserts.

2014 marks a new breed of success for Gypsy Queen. After breaking a Target discount "rack pack" of the stuff, I was overall impressed with the base set, design, and selection, as well as the inserts. However, it's nowhere close to where the 2011 set was.

Every 'discount pack' comes with three white-bordered non-numbered cards. You can usually get some nice cards out of this one.

Ozzie Smith, Jered Weaver, and Nick Castellanos were my pulls. The two on the left are impressive, especially the Ozzie. The Castellanos is another attempt by Topps to highlight rookies where they don't need to be highlighted.

Onto what counts, The Base Set...

Here, on the left, is one of this year's base cards. It is of Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, and it's awesome that they included a retired star like him. On the right is a card from 2011 Gypsy Queen. It's more retro-ish, and more faithful to the original. But this year's base set is more contemporary. Its aim seems to be to mix 'old-fashioned' and 'awesome', which is sort of working. The Gypsy Queen logo at the bottom isn't as bad as the ones made for 2012 and 2013 GQ, but it's not as authentic as the 2011 one.

What I'm saying is that it's really good this year, even coming close in border hue and graininess of photo. Also, the photography is pretty nice.

Like, the graininess of the filters really adds to the overall quality of the card. I threw these three in because I liked them the most, but a lot of the cards are really nice, and definitely pop, in terms of color. As someone who works with photoshop daily, I can appreciate colors that pop like that.

If you're still not convinced...
This card is of Peter Bourjos, who was with the Angels last year, and was traded to St. Louis during the offseason. Topps couldn't have photographed Bourjos in that time, making this a definite photoshop. However, as PS jobs go, this one is handled well, isn't too obvious, and isn't sloppily made (like a lot of the ones from the flagship set/Opening Day). In terms of photoshopping, this set is definitely improving from the last few years.

Onto the inserts.

Each pack comes with a mini. Hold your horses, you're NOT counting it wrong. I'll get to the third mini in a bit.

These minis are just truncated versions of the base cards, which isn't bad. I just don't collect them because I don't have any mini pages, so if anybody wants these two, they're up for grabs. One of these days I need to do a Mini Giveaway or something, because I don't really collect them, except for the ones in the Topps Flagship sets.

This is one of the newer inserts, a more authentic, sepia-toned Max Scherzer, fresh off his 2013 season. I really like the old-fashioned look of these cards. However, the real winners in this product are the continued inserts from the last few years. Luckily, I got one of those.

This is a pretty nice one, as you can see the detail put into making the border look really cool. I really enjoy how this card looks, how it seems to really accentuate Yasiel Puig's awesomeness, at least his 2013 awesomeness.

I got two other cards worthy of mentioning, and both are numbered. Let's look at them.

This is a blue-bordered George Brett card, numbered to 499. I let out a nice little gasp when I pulled this. My luck on blue bordered cards has been pretty nice in the past, as I've pulled a Nolan Ryan and a Ken Griffey Jr. This one is just as awesome.

So how do you top a numbered George Brett?

This is a black bordered Eddie Mathews mini. But wait. It gets better.

IT'S NUMBERED TO 199! I got a really low numbered card of a Hall of Famer out of a Target "value pack"


Overall, I was very impressed with the set, and will likely get some more packs before Archives/Series 2 hits.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Custom Card of the Day: Cuddyer Edition

First of all, I love this custom.

Second of all, who the hell called Michael Cuddyer ascending to a near-leadership position in Colorado?

Not this blogger.

I mean, his 2012 season was terribly lacking, and he never really made too much of an impact in Minnesota, save for a few okay seasons, and an All Star bid. The presence of people like Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau made it impossible for someone like Michael Cuddyer to be a star.

Which is why I was so happy when 2013 happened for him. A streak. An All Star starting nod. A Home Run Derby bid. A nice season. This was nice for someone like him.

And now, Helton's gone, and the team is in need of someone like him, who can be the elder statesman and anchor for a while. Michael Cuddyer's probably gonna be that guy, because he's proven he has the stuff. Justin Morneau's in the picture, but it's flipped from how it was back in, say, 2008. Now Morneau is slumping, and Cuddyer's made it big.

I just hope this season is as good as last for him.

Coming Tomorrow- The new It Rookie for a team that really needs some It Rookies.

Custom Card of the Day: Votto Edition

I wanna take this opportunity to address one of the odd things about collecting for as long as I have. This is also pretty thought-provoking, and confusing, so anybody who wants to look at shiny objects for a while can just look at dayf's blog or something.

When I started collecting, the big rookies were Ryan Braun, Tim Lincecum and Daisuke Matsuzaka. The next year, people like Joey Votto, Evan Longoria, Jay Bruce and Josh Hamilton were breakout stars.

Within a few years, people weren't calling these players prospects anymore. I kept it in the back of my mind that people like Braun and Votto used to be rookies. And then they were being taken seriously as actual stars. Maybe it was the way I thought as a young player, but I just kinda thought that rookies became stars in a much slower, and less obvious fashion. Nobody knew what Ryan Braun and Josh Hamilton would become in a span of three years.

This was also during the years when I still thought that people like Jim Thome, Frank Thomas and Greg Maddux would continue to be good because they were good in the 2000's and 1990's, not really realizing that baseball players lose their quick abilities over time.

It took me a while to really stop underestimating how quickly baseball players can gain stardom, and how quickly baseball stars can stop being amazing at everything.

Joey Votto, for instance, was the big young star for a couple years, until he won the MVP. Then people just started calling him a star, or a veteran even. And when people were calling a guy who'd played five or six seasons a veteran, it was a little weird. He wasn't a veteran, in my eyes. He was too young.

I think this concept sorta clicked when I saw the old baseball cards of people I called stars. Like, I was calling it into question when these new players progressed through youth in baseball so quickly, yet I'd overlook players like Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra, who did the same exact thing, only in the past. Evidently I viewed them differently because they started in my binders, and they didn't progress to their 'star' status while I was watching them (like Votto and Braun did).

It just never clicked to me, I guess. The past just fits differently in people's minds than the present.

Food for thought.

Coming Tonight (?): Helton's gone. Gonzo's young. Morneau's new. Rockies need a new veteran star figure.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Custom Card of the Day: Harper Edition

And I'm back...


I know, the last two months have been absolutely insane for me, as I've been busy as all hell, yet I've still been making tons of customs. With absolutely no time to post them.

I mean, if I wasn't still making customs, I'd venture a guess that I was phasing out, but I'm not. I'm still adamant about posting, even when I'm swamped with schoolwork.

It's just the content that's getting me down. Sometimes, posting seems like work. I dunno.

Again, if there are more gaps in posting, that's why- the workload of the last leg of my senior year of high school isn't holding back. I'm not inferring college will be any breezier, but you never know.

Meanwhile, I'm gonna try doing two customs per day. Keyword try. Don't know if I'll succeed.

Coming Tomorrow (?)- Two years ago he was a bad move. Last year he had a fantastic streak. Now, he's back on top, where he wants to be.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Return to the Local Card Shop

It had been four years, four months and twelve days since I had last been to the local card shop, the one ten or fifteen minutes away, filled with more ten cent bins than I could count. I wasn't optimistic. I figured that, in the four years since, he'd have closed up shop.

He hadn't.

So, today, with the intention of getting more long skinny boxes for cards, I browsed my way through his supply of ten cent bins, and needless to say, I was quite satisfied.

I got numerous amounts of cards for numerous areas of my collection. I'll start with the most prominent:

90's Stars:
I mean, this kinda goes without saying. Any ten cent bin you find will likely have some semblance of 90's stuff. I was in luck, as I'm a sucker for old Topps sets. This Alomar was one of a few old Topps ones. Besides, that photo is pretty nice.
Two Hall of Famers and two Future Hall of Famers round out the Topps.
A lot of mid-90's Donruss, when Donruss was consistent for likely the last time in its run, was also in there.
Some higher-end Donruss sets, including people like Molitor and Murray on their last legs of their careers. I found a lot of different Eddie Murray cards through these boxes.

Some nice early Upper Deck poses.
This one is a terrific sideways shot of Eddie Murray. Man, those first few years of Upper Deck were pretty cool.
While the front of this one's pretty nice, the back photo is ultra-cool. You know, even if Darryl looks like he's on something here.

1995 Upper Deck is a severely underrated set with nice photography, and a simple, subtle design. Always a favorite of mine.

Back in 1999, Upper Deck threw 10th anniversary inserts into its products, including this one, declaring Eck as the finest reliever of the last decade. Sounds about right.

Continuing my quest to find cards of Rickey Henderson in uniforms that are not Oakland or Yankee ones, I nabbed a nice Mets card from 1999 Victory. Nicely done.
Surprisingly, the guy had a lot of 1996 Score. I only say surprisingly because it isn't very well-received around the blogospohere. But it does have some very nice photography, especially Ozzie.
One last Eddie Murray for the road, looking pretty pissed there.
I was kinda hoping he'd have some 00's Diamond Kings from the actual set, but the guy instead had the insert versions, which...aren't...bad, they're just not the textured ones. Still they're always nice to pull.
2000's Upper Deck:
I never collected too much back in the day, because I was so fixated on Topps. Looking back, Upper Deck still had some nice sets toward the end of their run, especially the 2007 and 2008 ones. I threw in this 06 Greinke because that throwback is pretty cool.
A page full of stars from 2007 UD. Only Phillips, Cabrera and Lee are still around.
A fantastic shot of a pre-superstardom Prince Fielder taking some autograph time.
Some 2008 Upper Deck. Some great shots of Glavine and Holliday.
More evidence of 2008 UD's awesome photography: Hall of Fame Class of 2015 member Randy Johnson, in his last year with the Diamondbacks.
Two awesome sideways shots. I couldn't decide which one was better.
This was also a nice find, a reminder that before Adrian Gonzalez became an awesome first baseman, he was just a prospect toiling around for six years. Here he is right before the trade to San Diego, in Arlington.
Retro Sets:
You don't expect to see too much of Bowman Heritage when scrolling through dime bins, but you run into it eventually somehow. I found a whole crapload of the stuff.
These are all from the 2003 set, and it looks pretty nice.

Two rookies from 2006 Bowman Heritage. The guy on the left is probably worth a bit more.
Two big hitters from the 2007 set, the last time they put it out. I actually ripped some packs of this one back in the day.
A few inserts from 2007 Topps '52 Rookies. Very good photography in this one. Remember: Back in '07, a set of completely rookies was 100% okay.
Nothing wrong with regular heritage, too. Cards from the 2007, 2003 and 2006 sets.
Some sideways cards, from 2009 and 2005 Heritage.
One last Heritage card, of current versatile star R.A. Dickey, back in his "younger" years in Texas.
There was a nice amount of Turkey Red here too. The top is from the 2005/2006 sets, the bottom is from the 2010 insert set.

Retired stars were usually a nice find in Turkey Red. I can't decide which one's my favorite, though the Seaver and Carter certainly stand out.
That's really the end of the categorizations, though there were some tinier finds I took note of.
Brick Cards were abound. Like, cards that are thicker than effing cheese. A lot of those in Bowman Heritage, a lot of those in the Bazooka sets. I picked up a few sentimental players.
This card is a pretty nice final tribute for Barry Larkin, who retired after the previous season.
An awesome sketch card from Dick Perez, from 2007 A&G
A really cool die-cut card from 2005 Fleer Classic Clippings.
Four players who were pretty huge in 2007. Only the guy on the bottom right is still that relevant.
Two last minute surprises. Swisher's, from 2007 Finest, is #'d to 199. Delgado's, from 2006 Topps CO-Signers, is #'d to 150. Two fantastic cards, and both for ten cents each. THAT is why I love this place.
Will likely be back sometime soon, as he's still open, and will probably continue to be still open. All in all, a great day for cards.