Tuesday, June 30, 2015
(Blows dust off of scanner)
I did make a few JustCommons purchases during the school year, but due to my lack of a scanner, never got a chance to post any results. Thankfully, I got a nice sampling of cards today from JC. I'll say this is probably the most eclectic mix I've gotten from them. You can go wild on that site. I must have gone 'oh, they have some of THIS set?' about forty times (though a bit disappointed over the lack of 2010 National Chicle, as I need to complete that set ASAP).
I can separate these cards I got, which includes that awesome shot of Dave Stewart from '94 Score above, into a few very simple groups.
Look at Orel.
LOOK AT HIM.
That's a pretty awesome card of a pretty awesome player. I'm just beefing up my Orel collection this year, as I have a ton of Orel Dodger cards, but not enough from the later half of his career. Also, the guy went to my high school.
He was one of the many guys I wanted to nab in terms of early 90's cards.
As a rule, anybody in the HOF automatically goes into my HOF binder, and I automatically collect any dufex-era-on cards of them that look cool. Molly is one of those guys I have a lot of respect for, and he's probably be in my binders even if he wasn't in the Hall. I also adore the 90's UD Checklists.
Mariner Goose looks pretty horrified to be a part of the '95 Fleer design. He's not alone.
Okay, now onto another part of the package:
I've always been a fan of Donruss' Diamond Kings sets. When I heard they'd be returning with Panini, I had mixed thoughts...and it didn't help that the reviews were generally meh. I still wanted to get a few cards from it, so I got a smattering, including this admittedly awesome shot of Robby Cano.
But still, as this was a Donruss product, there was really only one reason for me to venture in...
I think I heard somewhere that he's coming back to Topps, signing a new contract and all of that. I'm very happy about that, but still, I'm gonna sweep up as many of his Panini cards as I can, because...it's Ichiro. You have to. And for the record, this card looks pretty damn cool.
However, I didn't stop at Diamond Kings.
That leads to our final segment for today...
JC has a ton of nice inserts from the last decade or so of Topps/Assorted other products. They had a slew of Gypsy Queen inserts, which, in my opinion, are the best part of that product. Nice to pull a Beltre-as-a-Dodger every once in a while.
Also, that Halladay is a nice one.
Oh, I bet you want to know what my favorite insert set of 2015 is...
I've toyed with the idea of making customs of celebs throwing out the first pitch for the longest time now. Paul Rudd as a Royal was practically BEGGING for one.
Jon Hamm's a pretty big deal already, as he's a great SNL host and a very nice actor. But putting him on a baseball card, in a Cardinals uniform? Genius.
I picked up Jeff Bridges, Tom Morello and Macklemore earlier this year, and I still need to nab an Eddie Vedder and a Jack White, as well as a few others from Series 2 (Chris Pratt much?)
However...I did happen to take home the best card from First Pitch with this package...
Stan Lee, one of my all time heroes, the man who's made an appearance in almost every Marvel movie, created some of the most famous Superheroes of all time, and has inspired me to create amazing, and fun worlds. And he's on a baseball card. In a Giants uniform.
This is the best baseball card I've pulled so far this year. So awesome. So wonderful.
That's it for the JustCommons haul for today. There's a bit more to show, but, it's for another day. Besides....you know that huge, awesome set that came out last week? Well...I got some of it, and I got quite a bit of it.
The Braves are in a weird place right now. For some reason, they're in third place, when they should be in fourth right now. Freddie Freeman and Cameron Maybin are playing well, but they don't have a real catcher, their pitching staff is scattered, and there are a lot of uneasy position players.
It's very bizarre. At least Freeman is there to try to settle the chaos, and at the same time hit a ton of home runs. I do think he's great for Atlanta, as they needed a leader type like him since Chipper left. I feel like if he stays around for a while, he'll be the next Chipper Jones.
And that's all I have to say tonight because I'm tired, and the last post really wiped me out.
Coming Tomorrow- The guy who's dangerously close to usurping Salvador Perez' spot in the AS voting. And he's no slouch himself.
Monday, June 29, 2015
As I've explained multiple times on the blog, I'm not especially happy with what the All Star Game has become this year. For a game that doesn't especially count for anything (except home field advantage in the World Series), there sure is a lot of nonsense swirling about, what with the roster-pumping that the Royals fans have been doing, and the new complicating formula for the Home Run Derby. You guys are forgetting how this is supposed to be fun for the fans, not infuriating.
Last year, I made several 'shame on you's at MLB and ESPN for turning the Roster Announcements, which used to just be both managers posting the rosters online on a Sunday without too much pomp, into a one-hour television spectacle, where Kurkjian and co flaunted their prior knowledge of the rosters to the audience, teasing snippets like 'this is the first of six Athletics on the list. You'll find out the other five later'. As if to say, 'oh, you'll get there soon, audience. It's not like you're the whole reason this event exists or anything.'
And so I defiantly watched that special last year, and dissected every one of its flaws, and there were many, including wasting blocks of time interviewing managers and players when they should simply be GIVING THE DAMNED ROSTERS. It was annoying, and pathetic.
This year, I spent a couple days looking for a date when the rosters would be announced, because it's usually end of June. And I couldn't find one. Better yet, I didn't find a telecast date for the bullshit results show. So I was content. I thought, maybe they learned their lesson, and are going back to just posting them online.
Oh, how naive was I. How stupid. Because today, with the final voting update, MLB.com announced that the results would be revealed on NOT ONE...BUT TWO NIGHTS OF ESPN PROGRAMMING.
That's right. On Sunday the 5th, about a week later than the results are usually announced, ESPN will dedicate THIRTY MINUTES to a special announcing the starting rosters for the NL and AL teams. Just the starting rosters. Padded out by thirty minutes of stalling, interviews with clearly uninterested players, and Tim Kurkjian twirling his eyebrows, going "NANANANANA, I KNOW THE ROSTERS AND YOU DON'T!"
But on Sunday the 6th, ESPN will give an HOUR block to unveiling the rest of the rosters, including pitchers, reserve members, and the candidates for the final man vote. Which means that one and a half hours, over the course of two days, WITH COMMERCIALS...will be used to announce information that could have just been put online.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but MLB has thought of something worse than what they did last year. This means that all the excited baseball fans who want to see the rosters...have to wait through 22 minutes of Esurance ads, and commercials pushing a new taco made entirely from a cow's spleen, just to see the sportscasters run through the rosters in one breath and then ending the telecast before you have time to process it. Or, as Ryan Seacrest calls it, the daily source of his income.
This is not okay. None of this is remotely okay. Now, you could argue that the easiest way to get these rosters is to just...wait until the broadcast is over, and wait for everybody to post the stuff online, so that you don't have to wait for Tim Kurkjian, who I swear is becoming worse than Joe Buck at this point, to shut the hell up. I could do that, but I feel like torturing myself this year.
So I'll watch the damn programs, because obviously that's what MLB wants me to do, and I'll riff the specials, and I'll comment on the rosters. But there is no way in hell that I'll be happy about it. And there is no way in hell I'm gonna be pleased if they decide to go this route again next year, only with a different sponsor, and an even more disgusting Pizza Hut dish to flaunt.
One good season is all it takes for some contending team to gobble you up like smarties.
Alfredo Simon was pitching beautifully for the not-in-contention Reds last year, in a season where him, Leake, Latos and Cueto were all, in various heats, playing well. But he needed to be somewhere away from the shadow of somebody big like Johnny Cueto. So this season, ended up in Detroit...in the shadow of Justin Verlander and David Price. That didn't work out too well, did it Alfie?
Good news is Simon is pitching alright so far. Like, his ERA is good enough, and he's had enough good starts to still be taken seriously. Only thing is he's been getting chewed up by big-time batters a lot more often than last season, which isn't great. I think he's been deferring to David Price as the main starter a lot, and Price is doing a lot better so far.
And now Verlander's on his way back, and once he gets there Simon will be the third starter, and things might not get much better. I'm kind of hoping he at least has a nice finish.
Coming Tonight: The Braves are underwhelming, but their perennial leader is still hitting really well.
I am posting this because it's been in my 'finished' folder since early May, and it kept getting pushed back a million times, and I feel like it's so awesome that the world needs to see it.
So here's a custom that will likely be hanging on my wall by the end of the summer. Relish it. Enjoy it. Delight in its majesty. I'll get an actual post up later.
Sunday, June 28, 2015
I saw Madison Bumgarner in his rookie season, playing the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. And the game was against James McDonald, and at that point I knew he was terrible. I didn't need any clobbering by the Giants offense to tell me that. I didn't know too much about Bumgarner, other than the fact that he'd become the fourth man in a rotation featuring two Cy Young winners and a guy who might as well be a Cy Young winner, and the fact that he was a rookie.
He had an impressive start that day, shutting down the Dodgers, even when they brought in Manny Ramirez halfway through. And I thought 'this guy's gonna be pretty nice'.
I didn't know he'd end up overtaking Lincecum as the face of that rotation. Because nowadays, you think 'Giants rotation', and it's the Bumgarner show. Cain and Lincy are just kinda there. He's not having the start he had last season, but people didn't care about the start. No, the reason they all talked about him was his finish, culminating his his amazing postseason. So he doesn't *need* a huge start.
I don't know if the Giants are going to go back to the postseason, but if they do, I know who they'll be using as their main starter.
Coming Tonight: The Tigers plucked him from Cincinnati last year, and he's since had a modest start.
Saturday, June 27, 2015
I remember the Sports Illustrated article from a couple years ago, I think 2010. And they were saying 'In five or six years, people are gonna be scoffing at a time when nobody had heard of Mike Moustakas'. And the article hyped up Hosmer, and Alcides Escobar (I think), and all the big guns that were coming up in that farm system, and how Ned Yost had things under control. And it was one of those things where I didn't know whether or not it was actually gonna happen.
I mean, SI's screwed up before. 1987, they said the Indians were gonna do amazing things with Joe Carter and Cory Snyder. Well, Carter did end up winning a ring, but it was with Toronto five years later. They also said the Cubs were gonna win the World Series in 2004. They didn't.
It wasn't until this year that I began to see their point. Before then, it was Eric Hosmer doing a ton of the work, and Moustakas doing *some* stuff, not really making a huge impact. Now, Moustakas is the guy who's hitting for average, smacking RBIs and dominating that portion of the third baseman voting (you know, like the rest of the goddamned team).
I'm happy for him, and I'm happy for that Royals team, because they deserve all of the good things that have been happening as of late. Moose needed a season like this one to prove he can take control, and I'm happy he's succeeding like this. Besides, he already had the Royals fans in the palm of his hand. He just needed a little push.
Coming Tomorrow- Once again, Lincy and Cain are injured, which means it's time for the now-most-important piece of the Giants rotation to take complete control.
Friday, June 26, 2015
This post is not going to be a rant about the Royals' fans jamming the votes and successfully making the AL All Star roster a potential 'the Royals plus Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera' roster. I mean, yeah, roster stuffing is bad, and the Royals fans are the main culprits, but they are not the only culprits.
The NL ASG vote leaders came out recently, and, most surprisingly, they revealed Jhonny Peralta as the vote-leader for shortstops. And no, it wasn't a typo.
To me, Peralta's not the top pick. I'd give it to Tulowitzki again. Or Brandon Crawford. Not because Peralta's not having a good season, but because Crawford is having a more impressive season. It's more astounding that somebody like Brandon Crawford is doing well, because he's been a lower-tier member of those Giants teams, and now he's finally stepped up...only for the guy who always has a good season to beat him in the voting.
Peralta's not the only culprit here. Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday have damn near cliched spots in the roster. And while Carpenter...yeah, he deserves it, I voted for Todd Frazier. I thought that Frazier slightly edged out Carpenter when it came to 'best third baseman in the league' status. Apparently I'm in the minority.
Holliday...yeah, he's good, but I don't think he's starting-ASG worthy. I would have put Joc Pederson in there. Nori Aoki is somehow next in line after Holliday, but I think that's from the plethora of
The bottom line in all of this is that not only have the Royals fans hijacked the All Star voting. ALL OF MISSOURI HAS HIJACKED THE ALL STAR VOTING!
I'm not gonna act like this is the first time this has happened. Back in the day Giants fans would try to rig the voting towards Pablo Sandoval by sending dozens of votes his way, robbing David Wright of a deserved start. So it's not new ground. But it's at a wider scale. The Cardinals takeover isn't as high-scale as the Royals one, but it's still pretty damn evident. In addition to the three guys who are first in voting, there are still two more who've been bumped to a mere second in the voting in their respective categories.
So, something needs to be done in terms of making this process less riggable. I mean, step one would probably include handing ballots out at ballparks again, rather than letting fans have 100% of the online vote, and the capacity to rig. No, ballpark voting makes it safe, evens it out.
I swear, I've already ranted against the actual telecast of the All Star Game. AND I've ranted about the way the rosters are announced. Now you have me ranting about the way people vote!
Remember how the All Star Game isn't supposed to be taken seriously?
Coming Tomorrow- Speaking of teams that hijack the ASG voting, here's the one they call Moose.
In the most inexplicable rise in power since...all the other inexplicable rises in power this season, the Twins, a team that was counted out by basically everybody this season, has shot to second place, behind the unstoppable Royals. I don't know how they've done it, to be honest. The Astros and Mets have had a slowly building crux of a team of late. The Twins, for the most part, are very scattered, don't have a lot together, and are relying a lot on rookies. Yet, somehow, that's working for them.
I don't know what did it. Was it the promotion of Byron Buxton? The return of Torii Hunter? The dismantling of the Tigers by everybody else in the AL Central? Either way, they're on top, and I'm happy about it.
Brian Dozier, as usual, is having a nice season at second, hitting well, playing good defensive ball, doing the same awesome stuff he usually does. i've become convinced that Joe Mauer is phasing out of his 'face of the franchise' role on the team. Sure, he still plays good baseball, but he's not the absolutely elite, MVP-caliber player he was. So, naturally, it's gotta be Brian Dozier now. He's the standard that the other guys look to.
I'm not sure if he's gonna make another Home Run Derby. Last year I think he did because it was in Minneapolis. But still, he's fun, he'll make an All Star team, and he's what the Twins need.
Coming Tonight: Speaking of the All Star Game, the guy that's currently, somehow, leading the shortstop votes.
Yes. An image brought to you by Rob Manfred, Terry Collins, and the pitcher who sucked enough to give up a hit to a 40+ year old pitcher. Barty Colon running the bases.
Cherish the moment, folks. G'head and cherish it.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
We've got about a month left until the trade deadline. The Phillies are practically DOA at this point, which means they've got to decide who to keep and who to let go. Right now, they have to think of the team that's gonna win championships in the future, and not the squad they've currently got. So, technically, they can get rid of anybody they want if it'll mean getting more prospects.
So...if nobody's safe, then who...is safe? I don't think I worded that properly.
Anyway, here are the guys that, in my opinion, are not in danger of being traded away this postseason.
-Freddy Galvis, the man above the header. He did go down a few notches in my book because he took steroids during his big breakout season. However, this season he's much more important, because he's taken over at shortstop full time, and he's actually hitting pretty well...or at least well enough to stick around. I don't think he's hot enough to be traded.
-Carlos Ruiz. He's not doing too well this season, and he's coming upon on his tenth season as a Phillie, as their starting catcher. He's not hitting well enough for people to want him.
-Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera and Ken Giles- these three are going to be HUGE in five years. Giles will be the future closer, and by the future, I probably mean 'by August'. Herrera and Franco are already hitting well enough to be noticed. Wouldn't be surprised if Franco gets some semblance of an AS nod.
-Aaron Harang. Because the Phils need at least one competent starter when Cole leaves. The word competent being a huge embellishment in this point.
-Darin Ruf. Currently in the minors, but unless for some reason the Phillies run out of room...he's sticking around.
-Cody Asche. Hasn't been as indispensable as usual, and isn't the starting third baseman, but he's useful enough organization-wise to stay around. This one could change, and he could end up being a throw-in for any huge deals.
-Ben Revere. Went back and forth on this one. Ben Revere has the capacity to be the face of this franchise. Only problem is he's hitting so well that he's put a huge target on his back for the trade deadline. This isn't 100%, but in my opinion, he'll stick around.
-Chase Utley. Biggest shock. I think he's sticking around because he's not had a very nice season. Therefore, nobody wants to take him, if he's not in top shape. If he had 2014 numbers, this would be easier. Utley will stay around for a little while longer.
This means that Hamels, Howard, Papelbon and possibly Francoeur, will be dealt at the deadline. I think Howard will have enough allure for other teams. The other two are sure things.
Coming Tomorrow- The Twins are still red hot. Here's the guy who's been in charge of fueling the comeback.
Alas, the gigantic Rangers boost had to come to an end eventually. I'm not saying it's 100% over, but it looks like the Angels have caught up in the standings to them, and they're both four games behind the Astros. Plus, with Albert Pujols hotter than he's been in years, and the rest of the team following his lead (even Mike Trout), the Angels have more momentum going on than the Rangers. Prince Fielder can hit all he wants, but he's pulling fragments of a team. Beltre's juuust coming back from injury, and Hamilton's a little ways away.
That doesn't mean Joey Gallo can't jump into the bigs and start mashing the ball. I mean, he can. It's not helping all that much, but he can.
Since he's came up, Joey Gallo's had a pretty huge June, and is definitely making a name for himself as one of the main sources of hits in Arlington. Him and Prince are doing most of the work though. The rest of the team is either not great at hitting, slumping, or injured. Elvis Andrus is doing well this season, but his speciality isn't offense. The rookies are nice, but they're not really relied upon for hitting.
I think the Rangers are gonna bob around the middle of the division for a little while. The Angels have more potential than them for success in the long run, Hamels notwithstanding. So, for right now, if Joey Gallo keeps hitting, then it's good for them.
Coming Tonight: The Phillies are currently the worst team in baseball. Here's their shortstop.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
After a badly timed power-outage that lasted for 25 hours, I'm finally back and ready to post another custom. And...it happens to be of a guy who had a pretty nice night against the Cubs.
I wasn't expecting too much from Justin Turner this season, as the Dodgers started with Juan Uribe and I didn't think he'd be too much of a problem. Well, now Juan Uribe is in Atlanta, so now you can see how the priorities lie. Besides, Justin Turner is actually hitting pretty damn well about now, and it fueling a team that has NEEDED momentum for a little while now.
I'm hoping the Dodgers can hang on, because if not, then the Giants can take it, and they're not supposed to do that until 2016. Besides, the Dodgers have a lot of talent sifting around, with Pederson, Puig and Gonzalez hot as hell. Maybe Turner can push this team over the edge.
Coming Tomorrow- the big Texas rookie people have been buzzing about for a while now.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
This is Cole Hamels. Perhaps you've heard of him.
Cole Hamels is, this season at least, the sole reason for Phillies fans to go to games, because he's still a pretty damn good pitcher, even with the limp support of the Phillies offense behind him. The only problem with this is it might be an opportune time to trade Hamels, being that the team needs to start again with younger stars. So, and I've come to terms with this, the question at this point is not 'is Cole Hamels going to be traded?'. It's 'where's he going?'
So far, the Red Sox and Cardinals, LIKE ALWAYS, have made themselves known as potential takers for Cole. The Sox would be the ideal choice, because they have enough prospects to trade away that the Phillies would definitely benefit from it.
But now...the situation's been complicated. Because who's jumped into the race for Cole but the Texas freaking Rangers.
The Rangers, for all intents and purposes, are doing pretty well this year. True, they're not a first-place team, but with the stuff Fielder's been doing, they're definitely more relevant than they've been. Their only flaw is their pitching; with the exception of Yovani Gallardo, everybody's either injured or tanking. So, nabbing Cole Hamels would be a nice choice, and would increase their postseason odds.
Now...let's zoom back a second. I was just saying that I would be fine with the Red Sox taking Cole Hamels. Me, the Sox-hater. Because the Sox are basically a non-factor this season. They're in last now, and it's not looking like they'll be in first by September. So I'm not really scared by the Sox getting Cole, because he won't really do anything for them except keep them afloat.
Cole on the Rangers...horrifies me. Because if they get just the right spark, the Rangers could be a postseason team, and possibly get back to the World Series. And Cole Hamels could potentially be that spark. The problem here is I REALLY don't want the Rangers to get back to the postseason. They could be deadly. So, therefore, Cole Hamels CANNOT go to the Rangers.
You see what they're making me do? I'd rather Cole Hamels go to the RED SOX...THE RED SOX...than the Rangers.
So...regardless of the numerous prospects the Rangers would throw in...nuh-uh. Can't happen. Which is why it's making me very nervous that it's looking like it will.
(Really proud of this one).
It takes a lot of skill to go up at the Home Run Derby and win, and then go up the next year and win it again. But, Yoenis Cespedes has definitely done that. He's a pretty strong hitter, and he can go for distance like nobody else in the league.
I did get worried last year when he was traded to Boston...and then promptly didn't make that much of an impact. Like, they signed him to hit home runs, and didn't really do a ton. But, he signed with Detroit this year, and promptly got right back to hitting, and making fans pretty proud, especially the ones who had gotten worried when Torii Hunter left.
I do like Cespedes, and I really hope he does another Home Run Derby, but I don't know if the Tigers are going to do much more than get 2nd this season. The Royals are red hot right now, and I don't know if the Tigers can get back there with a depleted pitching staff.
Coming Tonight: The Dodgers are flirting with returning to their hot-hitting ways from earlier this season. It helps that their new starting third baseman is doing pretty well himself.
Monday, June 22, 2015
First of all, this is one of my favorite customs I've made in a while. It looks cinematic. Like it should be on a movie poster.
Over the past few years, the Nationals have accumulated the strongest lineup in baseball. Their infield is exemplary, their pitching staff is overflowing with talent, and their outfield is even strong without Jayson Werth, as Michael Taylor is an even stronger choice to contend with Harper and Span.
This is a team that consistently wins the division, and consistently makes headlines...and yet they've not been successful in the postseason yet, which blows my mind. If anybody's an October talent, it has to be Bryce Harper, especially this season.
Either way, people like Denard Span, Danny Espinoza and even Ryan Zimmerman, who a lot of people have counted out, are playing really well this season. Especially Span, who's still hitting, and playing the outfield, like an absolute pro.
Unless something instantaneously sparks in Queens, the Nats are likely going to end up on top, and hopefully will have better results in the postseason.
Coming Tomorrow- One of the most fearsome home run hitters in the game, now in his new location in Detroit.
The AL East is in hysterics right now. The Blue Jays and Rays are streaking, the Orioles are fighting to stay in it, and the Yankees are trying to keep the other three down.
So...the Red Sox aren't necessarily in competition. Which means they can sit back, relax, and let some young stars come up and start making names for themselves. For instance: Eduardo Rodriguez, the guy who could be the next Pedro Martinez in Boston.
I mean, the Sox have had a few rookies this year making names. Mookie Betts is flat out dominating. Blake Swihart, until he got DL'd, was making a case for a Jason Varitek-type standout. But Rodriguez has been an important part of the Sox the last few weeks, making his starts count, and giving a lot of attention towards him. He's got some nice stuff, good strikeouts.
I don't know what this means for the rest of the season, because the rest of the rotation is struggling a bit. The rumor is that the Sox want Cole Hamels, so if Hamels lands in Boston, it could be good for Rodriguez, and the rotation. But until then, he'll have to keep winning games in Boston.
Coming Tonight: The Nationals have been hot as hell lately, with Scherzer surging, Harper hitting up a storm, and this guy reigning as one of the best outfielders in the game.
Saturday, June 20, 2015
It wasn't a perfect game, thanks to Jose Tabata and his decision to be an ass, but it was damn near perfect, and it was just another reason why Max Scherzer is one of the most fearsome pitchers in baseball. In his past two starts, he's allowed one hit. THAT takes skill.
Congrats on the no-no, Max. Now just keep pitching like a champ.