Friday, March 27, 2015

Two Hanger Boxes and a Rack Pack of 2015 Heritage

I grew up with my dad's, and grandfather's, baseball cards, and I made it a point to memorize all of the sets, the ones from the 70's and 80's. i didn't have much from earlier, except for a nice assortment of commons from the 1966 set. The faded, older quality of them won me over, and seeing people like Bill Mazeroski and Jim Bunning on older cards was kind of special.

That's why this edition of Heritage is very special. This is the first Heritage set that reflects a card set that I grew up with. I never had any of the 50's or early 60's stuff, so that was nice, but now we're getting into the stuff I know by heart. Hell, the one in nine years is gonna be amazing, solely because the 1975 set is begging for that sort of thing.

But I've done enough talking. Onto the packs. We'll start with the "VALUE PACK", and then go into the hanger boxes.

Rack Pack-
388- Dellin Betances. Always nice to start out with a Yankee. Unfortunately, this particular one is getting hit a lot in Spring Training, and may not be the closer we'd been hoping for. Again, it's only March.
95- Scooter Gennett, who has gracefully replaced Rickie Weeks among the Milwaukee defense.
205- Jorge De La Rosa, who is beginning to slow down, which surely must be the reason that Kyle Kendrick's been named Colorado's Opening Day starter.
29- Avisail Garcia. Chicago's putting a lot of pressure on him for a guy who's never played a full season.
154- Chris Johnson, who...isn't exactly Chipper Jones, but is a hard hitting third baseman.
322- Tsuyoshi Wada. I love the fact that Topps is using Japanese stats along with MLB stats.
381- Eric Hosmer. Glad to see this guy's finally rose to the occasion in Kansas City
418- Matt Garza, who feels older than he is.
265- Marlon Byrd. This is just sad. He has his first great season as a Phillie, and what do we do? Trade him to freaking Cincinnati.
358- Shane Greene
1966 Topps Flashbacks inserts of BATMAN AND ROBIN! Holy shit, this is a bonafide Adam West card. This is amazing.
125- Jon Jay. Cardinals better be god-awful this year, for once.
382- Shin-Soo Choo. That goes for you too, Rangers.
217- NL Home Run leaders. Stanton is atop the list. However, Devin Mesoraco had the most grand slams last year. Interesting.
392- Rookie Stars of Kendall Graveman and Carlos Frias
326- Braves team card
43- Juan Uribe. Good to see he's finally become a nice member of the Dodgers offense.
396- Jose Quintana
272- Wei-Yin Chen. Good to see that this guy's finally achieving some nice numbers for Baltimore.
83- Matt Shoemaker, the unsung hero of the Angels pitching staff.

Hanger Box #1-
18- David Freese. Man, he's too pathetic to hate these days.
50- JACOBY ELLSBURY! Looking for a great season from this guy this year.
236- Ervin Santana. Now on...the Twins I think?
274- Hector Rondon.
28- Jason Castro. The Astros got Evan Gattis to do Jason's job. He may have a Sparky Lyle season on the bench.
12- Jean Segura. Man, HE might end up being the best piece in the Greinke trade.
102- Tim Hudson. Not a Hall of Famer by any means, but a great player nonetheless.
1- BUSTER POSEY! The man has three World Series rings and he's not even 30 yet. Fantastic.
126- Chris Tillman, who's the unofficial ace in Baltimore.
342- Tyler Matzek
14- Kyle Lohse, who's not a bad pitcher to have.
57- CHOOOOOOOOOCH! One of the best catchers in the NL. Great to root for.
160- MICHAEL FREAKING PINEDA. If he stays healthy, he's gonna have a great season.
91- Nick Markakis. Weird to see him in Braves uniform, but he'll be fine.
440- Well, wouldn't you know, my Short Print is of Bryce Harper, who looks like he's been borrowing some of Ben Stiller's hair gel in this shot.
New Age Performers of YUUUUUUUUUUUU Darvish. Sadly he's gonna be out for a while this season, but he's still a great pitcher.
260- Continuing my good luck, here's a Chrome Refractor of MADISON BUMGARNER, #'D TO 566! Very, very nice.
455- Jose Altuve, best second baseman in the AL (besides Cano). Chrome.
475- Miguel Cabrera, one of the best players in baseball, chrome.
465- David Price, who the Tigers are expecting amazing things from, chrome.
429- Jacob DeGrom, the sole reason Mets fans have to go to games, chrome.
10- Julio Teheran, who will somehow be one of the few non-injured talents on the pitching staff in Atlanta.
357- KHRIS Davis.
344- Jedd Gyorko, who's gonna fight to stay relevant in a newly crowded roster.
178- Jake Odorizzi
111- Garin Cecchini
417- Angels rookies
419- Vance "The Vanimal" Worley. Glad to see he's back to his old tricks.
257- Danny Salazar
421- Gerardo Parra
393- Tyson Ross, one of the best pitchers in San Diego
121- Kevin Kiermaier
337- Billy Butler, looking strange in a A's uniform.
99- Trout and Pujols combo
352- Seth Smith, now on the Mariners

Hanger Box 2-
84- Red Sox rookies
59- Reds checklist
290- Luis Valbuena
283- Daniel Hudson. The Arizona rotation has basically moved on without him.
409- Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Who'd have thought HE'D become a reliable everyday catcher?
35- Mike Leake.
195- Edinson Volquez. Now on the Royals
307- Alfredo Simon. Has had one good season. The Tigers think he has more in him. ...Kay.
32- Andrelton Simmons
330- Carl Crawford, who is finally back. Like, last season was a return to form for him.
110- Anthony Rizzo, who's become a bonafide star in Chicago.
323- Andrew Cashner, another great pitcher out of the Padres.
62- Lance Lynn
294- J.A. Happ. The Mariners are banking on J.A. to have a big season. Hope he does.
291- John Lackey, who I think St. Louis is trusting to have a nice season.
426- My short print here is GIANCARLO STANTON, best hitter in baseball.
And my New Age Performers is...MASAHIRO FREAKING TANAKA! BEAUTIFUL! Gonna love seeing this guy pitch this year.
491- Victor Martinez chrome. Glad to see this guy came back.
461- Anthony Rendon chrome. Awesome talent. Hope he sticks around.
457- Ian Kinsler. Man, I'm getting so many Tigers chrome.
476- Greg Holland, the best closer in the AL, chrome.
400- Joe Mauer chrome. I love the fact that he's still a great player, even after giving up his catching job.
177- Drew Hutchinson
88- More Red Sox rookies
193- Chris Iannetta
38- B.J. "MELVIN" Upton.
96- Tim Lincecum. Is a comeback likely for him? Not sure.
2- Melky Cabrera.
225- Strikeout leaders- NL
242- Kendrys Morales, who hopefully will be a healthy DH for the Royals.
71- Mark Buehrle. Hall of Famer?
146- Rangers Rookie Stars
420- Matt Cain, who is apparently back in full force this season
248- Wade Miley. Sadly they got the ps job.
181- Gio Gonzalez. May be left to the wayside in a crowded rotation.

I do love this set, and I may try to get some more this year. I do adore Heritage, and I love that Topps is still putting effort into it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spring Training Custom of the Day: Andrus Edition

Odd choice for the first month or so of customs, but the photo was available, and I didn't want to pass it up.

The Rangers, for the first time in a while, had a down season in 2014. Their hired guns failed on them, and the multitude of rookies they brought up didn't necessarily help the matter. By the end of the season, only Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre had really succeeded in what they were aiming for, which stay relevant, I guess.

I enjoy the fact that Andrus has been around since late 2008, and yet he's suddenly become one of the senior members of the team, as well as an effective shortstop. Like, him and Beltre are suddenly the anchors of the team because everybody else has either left or retired. Which is...kind of odd.

I think the Rangers need Andrus to have either a huge season, or a season huge enough to get the team some more prospects in exchange for him. I mean, part of me hopes the Rangers get back on top, but still...there are some other teams in the AL West that would like a go, like the Angels and Mariners.

Coming Tomorrow- One of the biggest moves of the season. Literally. He's pretty big.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring Training Custom of the Day: Ichiro Edition

Andre Dawson, over the course of his Hall of Fame career, hit a ton of home runs, won an MVP award with Chicago in 1987, and built a reputation as one of the strongest talents in MLB history. However, when it came time for him to settle and mellow out, he chose to spend his last two seasons with the Florida Marlins, then a recently-established expansion team. When he did retire, he retired out of the spotlight, out of the playoff attention.

This may be the sort of tactic that Ichiro Suzuki is attempting to replicate in signing with the Marlins for the season. He's not gonna get a ton of playing time, and he's definitely showing his age, but he wants to play somewhere easy, with a bunch of young players that can learn from him.

Any other season it would seem like Ichiro's taking the Andre Dawson approach, jumping out of the playoff drama. However, this is the 2015 season, and this season it looks like the Marlins are going to do very, very big things, thanks to a quietly building infield and outfield, and a suddenly rejuvenated pitching staff. Ichiro may just wind up as an extra part in a very well oiled machine.

Even if he doesn't get a lot of playing time, he's still Ichiro, and he's still one of the greatest hitters in MLB history. Also, he's only 156 hits away from 3000. Not saying it's a definite, but it's a possibility. Either way, he's a Hall of Famer, he's a legend, and the Marlins are lucky to have him.

Coming Tomorrow(?)- The Rangers are looking to get back on top, and their veteran infielder is trying to aid this.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring Training Custom of the Day: Cruz Edition

I guess I've forgiven Nelson Cruz.

I lost respect for his when I found out he did HGHs, which is never a good sign in my book. It takes a lot to come back from that. Also, for the majority of his career he played for the Rangers, and I really, really don't like the Rangers, because for a good four year period they were really good and strong, while the Yankees...weren't really. Even in 2012, they had an...okay team, that just had some really nice luck. I'll even say that the Orioles should have made it that year, to the ALCS.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Nelson Cruz.

Nelson Cruz was on my no-fly list for a while (and by that I mean I didn't like him. Don't take that the wrong way), and then he joined the Orioles, a team that I generally enjoy. And he proceeded to hit a ton of home runs, get an All Star nod, and become one of the major figures in the game by the end of the year, which, I kind of thought was Juan Gonzalez' schtick. But whatever, I gave it a slide, and finally came around on Cruz.

Now, Nelson is on another team I enjoy, the Mariners, and he's in a DH position on a team that has been slowly growing in power without anyone noticing. If the Mariners are contenders in 2015, it will be thanks to Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano. The two guys who've dominated the AL East in the last two seasons are on the same squad, which is pretty diabolical. If they both have amazing seasons, it could be pretty huge.

Hopefully I'll continue to like him as much as I did last season.

Coming Tomorrow (or whenever): Speaking of Mariners, quite possibly one of the greatest Seattle Mariners in history, now suiting up in what may be his final season, on a revitalized squad in Miami.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spring Training Custom of the Day: Zito Edition

Bet y'all never thought you'd see this again.

And for everyone who thought 'yeah, Barry Zito's gonna come back to Oakland', well I bet you thought it would be under better circumstances.

True, Barry Zito had some really nice years with the A's and Giants, but his 2013 season left a lot to be desired, and he spent all of 2014 as a free agent, in semi-retirement. However, prior to Spring Training, the A's, ONCE AGAIN SHORT ON PITCHING (this seems to be a theme this decade. Thanks Jarrod Parker.) picked up Zito on a one-year deal. They knew the risk, and they also knew how happy the fans would be to see their hero in an A's uniform once more.

Only problem is nobody's quite sure if Zito's going to be as strong as he was in, say 2002, or even 2012. He wasn't as consistent in his Giants years as he was with the A's, and his last season was a disappointment. The A's are hoping Zito can do well, though they're waiting it out to see if his Spring Training numbers will be any good, and so far they aren't too bad.

i kind of hope Zito will be able to pitch this year, just as a potential send-off for a great pitcher.

Coming Tonight (?)- Last year this guy had a monster season with Baltimore. Now he's in Seattle, hoping for another huge year.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring Training Custom of the Night: Harvey Edition

People have been citing a lot of things about the NL East. Spring Training is a great place for people to make predictions about the divisions, and the NL East is being pulled into exact opposite directions. People are saying the Braves are going to have an off-year. People are saying the Marlins are going to be fantastic. People are saying...unsurprisingly, that the Phillies are gonna end up in last.

The most ambitious assumption people have is that the Mets are going to have a very strong season, which I, for the most part, disagree with. One of their three best arms is on the DL, and the other two are coming OFF the DL. The infield is filled with either question marks or injury-returnees. The biggest offseason acquisition was an aging outfielder in his 30's. So I don't know if 2015 is going to be the year for the Mets, but they have some pieces in place. And one of those pieces is Matt Harvey.

The word on the street is that Matt Harvey is pitching like he did in 2013, which I love to hear, because Harvey is a wonderful pitcher, and I have a ton of respect for him. The guy just had some bad luck last season, but it looks like he's back to his old self. 

Even if the Mets aren't great this season, I hope Matt Harvey has a really, really nice season.

Coming Tomorrow (?)- Fifteen years ago this guy was the biggest rookie in baseball. After a year off he's back with his old team with a minor league deal. Here's hoping he makes the squad.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Customs for the Comedian

I don't talk about this a lot on the blog, but I'm actually an aspiring comedian. I've been spending a lot of time lately writing material for stand-up, and working on that stuff. So when I found out that Will Ferrell, one of my idols and inspirations, was gonna be spending Thursday driving through Arizona and throwing on as many MLB uniforms as he could, well I figured I had to do something.

I didn't get a hell of a lot of photos from his day in the Spring Training, but I did find four of the teams he played for. So, naturally, I made four custom cards for one of my favorite comedic actors.

Here he is pitching for the Dodgers, and looking elegant atop the mound. 

Meanwhile, he also played shortstop for the A's, and made it a point to screw with Brett Lawrie for a good portion of the inning. 

My favorite one. Not only do I love this one because of the look on his face, and the position, but the surprised and amused expression on the coach behind the fence. That is priceless.

If I find anymore photos from the festivities yesterday, I'll customize and post them.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Spring Training Custom of the Day: Hamilton Edition

A lot of the first few customs of the year rely not on new players in new uniforms, but whatever the photographers want. And that spontaneity sort of lumbers through the first few weeks of these, up until the season begins.

Billy Hamilton is one of the bigger sophomore stars this season that is being depended on to be as good as he was last year. Last year he was so good that, if it wasn't for Jacob DeGrom, he would have taken the Rookie of the Year hands down. Additionally, he has the potential to be an amazing base-stealer, judging by the monstrous season he had in the minors back in 2012.  So really, Hamilton has more riding on him than anybody on the squad, even the injury-prone Joey Votto.

I want Billy Hamilton to have a nice season because he could end up being a really nice player. In the season and 1/8th he's been in the majors, he's established that he can be quick and fun. He just needs to establish that he has staying power.

Coming Tomorrow- He had an amazing season in 2013, then spent all of 2014 on the DL. Now he's back, and ready to reclaim New York.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Spring Training Custom of the Day: OH WOE IS ME Edition

I can't.

I can't do this.

Just looking at that custom makes me cry a little bit. I can't take it.

It's bad enough that I lost one of my favorite shortstops last year. It's even worse that my 2nd favorite shortstop got traded to the Dodgers. I mean, I don't have any ill will towards the Dodgers. They're a great team, and I love a ton of their players. This is just...hard to look at. I can't stomach it.

It's like seeing Craig Biggio in an Oakland Athletics uniform. Or seeing Cal Ripken in a Colorado Rockies jersey. Or seeing Ichiro Suzuki in a Marlins uniform...OH WAIT. THAT'S HAPPENING. DAMN.

It's just unnatural. Jimmy Rollins is supposed to always wear red. Any other color looks...wrong. Seeing him in Dodger blue is weird, and I don't know if I'll get used to it. I mean, this is his only way of getting back to the playoffs, because he likely wouldn't have with the Phillies. But...Rollins will always be a Phillie in my mind, and when he retires he's going on the Phillies' Wall of Fame. I's a lot.

I still want him to have a great season. The Dodgers are probably going to do very well, and Rollins needed some rejuvenation. I just...I want him to come back to Philly when all of this is over, like what Torii Hunter is doing. He took some time, made a bunch of playoff runs, then came back home for one last hurrah. Jimmy Rollins should do that. It would make me very happy.

But for now, I'll just have to sit through seeing this a couple hundred times. It'll be alright. I have to keep telling myself that. It'll be alright.


Sorry, I don't usually start singing Peter Gabriel. I'm just very emotional. Don't mind me.

Coming Tomorrow- A much happier post. With a much happier player. Probably a wonderful sophomore talent in Cincinnati.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The First Custom of 2015 is...

yep. I know this isn't the greatest sight for Dodgers fans, but I made it anyway. I know it may seem a bit hazardous to put a big ol' question mark as the first custom of the year, but doesn't this card look really cool? Captures the grace and detail of an aging, semi-injured outfielder in San Diego.

Will Matt Kemp have a nice season? Hope so. He's too good to have a too many down seasons.

Coming Tomorrow- Another custom that hurts, this time for me.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Uncustomed Heroes of 2014: Yankees


Now I get to talk about the 2014 Yankees. Wonderful. The world-famous one-legged potential-killers.

Mark Teixeira was one of the few guys that did his job relatively well last year. He hit a great deal of home runs and returned to his serviceable qualities of before his injury-prone seasons. He's saying he's back in full force for 2015. I hope he's right.

This guy had a very, very nice season as our closer, before promptly saying 'screw you' and high-tailing it over to Chicago. This would be more disappointing if we didn't have somebody else in line, like...

DELLIN BETANCES! This was a guy I thought would make the team in Spring Training 2012. Sadly, he didn't, and didn't get playing time until rocking a set-up man role in 2014, gaining him a nice little ASG nod. Now is his turn as full-on Yankee closer, and I imagine he'll be pretty great.

I didn't think it would happen, but Brett Gardner has become a very trustworthy outfielder, having played in a number of nice seasons and hitting a lot of home runs. A guy I thought would be trade bait has become one of the team's most tenured members and best hitters. Way to go, man.

And then there's this guy. I'll be honest, I waited this long to make an Ellsbury custom because I kept waiting for a good enough photo. One didn't come along until very late in the season. So...I just made do with what I had. Ellsbury had a decent enough season, but hopefully will have a bigger year in 2015. I'd like some 2012-era numbers.

Well...if I had any customs from 2015, I'd post them tomorrow.

Oh, wait. I do.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Uncustomed Heroes of 2014: White Sox

Yep. Still finishing these up. Why? 2015 customs are coming up. Gotta clear the 2014 ones out before they do.

This was my second Abreu custom of 2014, because I selected a few huge stars of the year to have 2 customs, because why not. Abreu had a monster season in 2014, and all of Chicago is betting on him to have another huge one in 2015, especially given the fact that the Sox have gotten a few more contracts on the team.

Meanwhile, the other megahitter in Chicago had a less-than-stellar season. This custom is probably the best part of his season. I mean, it looks like a comic book cover. Viciedo is not sitting comfortably in...wherever the Blue Jays have Spring Training, waiting to squeeze his way onto the 40-man.

Alexei Ramirez, now that Paul Konerko is gone, is now the longest-standing member of the Chicago White Sox. And he got there after I started collecting. Man, it's tough wrapping my head around that one. Anyway, Ramirez is a consistently great shortstop, and will likely have another great season in 2015.

This guy was the real man of the hour in 2014, besides Abreu. If it wasn't for Corey Kluber, Chris Sale would have likely nabbed his first Cy Young award. And now it looks like he won't be ready in time for Opening Day, which is bad for the Sox, as they'll be forced to start Jeff Samardzija instead (which...isn't that bad).

Meanwhile in sophomore-land, Adam Eaton had a decent enough season away from Phoenix, settling into his role in the Chicago offense. He's not all the way there yet, but there's still hope.

Let me tell you, if I'd posted this in December like I was supposed to, this card would definitely would have made the top 5 on my Best Customs of the Year list, because it's that good. Just the smile on his face, contrasted with the helmets on the back of the wall. That is a great shot, and it's now a great custom.

Coming...Tomorrow, I hope: Finally I'll finish out these damn posts with the Yankees.