Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Last Straggler Arrives at Topps

I haven't spoken in detail about ToppsNOW, because I don't have a hell of a lot to say about it. Yeah, they're marketing individual cards of highlights for ten bucks a pop- big whoop. The problems are kind of on the surface, it's not like I need to go very in depth. It's a cash grab that Topps is trying to hawk instead of regular Topps base cards, so in 3 or 4 years time they'll be completely obsolete.

That isn't to say I've been outwardly negative about EEEEVERY aspect of ToppsNOW, because they people in charge do some really nice things. They give spotlights to players who don't get it every day, and they don't really go out of their way to give 50 cards to one person, or fawn over a new rookie star. I mean, they'll do a Bryant or a Harper every once and a while, but only if they do something to warrant it. It's not like the '2007 Highlights' thing Topps did in '08, where they went by every day in the season just to be excessive. They don't go out of their way for surplus star cards- if somebody does something cool, they make a note of it. Simple as that.

Today, with their 'here's who we're putting on cards for the next 24 hours' announcement, Topps detailed a card about the Orioles' hitting in the last few games, featuring a few players, including Mark Trumbo, Jonathan Schoop, and...


It couldn't be...

Matt Wieters is going to be on a ToppsNOW card. So.... (puts two and two together). Matt Wieters can be on Topps Cards. Matt Wieters signed a contract with Topps....

Ever since 2009 when he came into the big leagues, he'd signed an exclusive contract with Upper Deck, and eventually Panini- from then on, Matt Wieters couldn't appear on a Topps card. It was depressing for completists like me who saw Adam Jones and Manny Machado get tons of cards, and to be stuck with one insert from 2010 Upper Deck, and a few Donruss base cards of Wieters.

But now Topps can make Wieters cards, albeit late, but still- I don't think any huge-time current players are barred from appearing in Topps products, now that Ichiro's back with Topps (big time), and they can apparently make Nomar Garciaparra cards again (but mostly from the Red Sox era, in vintage-esque products).

I don't think this especially brings ToppsNOW to legitimacy or relevancy, but it's nice to have Wieters in Topps products. It'd be great if they could do what they did with A-Rod, and make reprints of what Wieters Topps issues would have looked like in '09-'15 Topps flagship, but I imagine that's what us customizers are for.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I don't really have much to say about the Brewers... here's a Jonathan Villar custom.

Isn't it nice?

I'll get you a post with substance tomorrow, I promise...

Nostalgic Box Break: 1992 Stadium Club Series Three (Part Two)

I gave the last third of the box a little room to breathe, so now we're onto Part 2 of Series 3. If you missed Part 1, to recap...this box is actually pretty nice on collation so far. That's basically it.

Now, here's 12 more packs of some 1992 goodness.

 Pack 13-
Cards I needed: 14/15
Dupes: 1/15
Current Yankees Coaches: 1/15
 The landscapes in this one are great, because you see a lot more of the picture (figuratively) by zooming out, like the catcher's mitt and bat-end (in Gonzales'), and the hustling catcher avoiding the flying bat in McCray's.

 Tony Pena's still catching for Boston, which frightens Kim Batiste and amuses Archi Cianfrocco.

 Pack 14-
Cards I need: 14/15
Dupes: 1/15
Perfect Game Pitchers: 1/15
Hall of Incredibly Good-ers: 1/15
 Contrast of emotions- Ballard looks amusedly skeptical. Ron Robinson just looks horrifying.

 Seitzer's on the move, Hudler's looking out in the cage, Snyder's wondering why he sucks.

 Alan Trammell...that's actually a pretty nice shot. Lots of emphasis on white. Wells' has the right amount of concentration.

 Pack 15-
Cards I need: 9/15
Dupes: 6/15
Hall of Famers: 1/15
 A lot of the shots in this are very waist-up. Morris' has a ton of detail on the jersey, which is nice.

 I don't know why, but I really, really like Jeff Conine's card. Just something about how smiley he is, in that position.
Also, George Brett nabs the Member's Choice card for the pack.

 Pack 16-
Doc Gooden's Member's Choice is the only card I needed out of this pack. Yaaayyy...

 Pack 17-
Cards I needed: 15/15 (HEY!)
Hall of Famers: 1/15

 Vaughn's in the process of hitting one out, which...he did in the 90's quite a bit. Reynoso looks really stern. Vince Horsman's card is one of the sillier ones I've seen, between the mustache, the jacket, the expression, and what I believe is a smudge on his upper cheek.

 Greg Maddux looks really tired here- maybe a trade to Atlanta will wake him up a bit. Meanwhile, I forgot Dave Martinez played for the Reds for a sec.

 Pack 18- Halfway point.
Cards I needed: 10/15
Dupes: 5/15
Really awesome shots of players who are not in any way awesome: 2/15

 Melido Perez looks impressive as a Yankee, for one of the only times. Ken Hill's actually got a nice shot here, as does Greg Olson, looking way too casual for a backup catcher.

 Pack 19- Only needed two cards from this one, including that cool Indians slide one.

 Pack 20- Annnnd only needed three cards here, including Storm Davis. Man, this box is beginning to wear off.

 Pack 21-
Cards I need: 12/15
Dupes: 3/15

 Barry Jones looks catatonic, Joe Magrane's wondering if anybody else is seeing that, and Tim Scott...I think he's watching a bird or something.

 Two Twins stars. Knoblauch was already a Member's Choice option, while Aguilera was just getting warmed up.

 Pack 22-
Cards I needed: 11/15
Dupes: 4/15
Blog Icons: 1/15
Guys Who Played for about 10 seasons more than they should have: 2/15

 Reggie as a Red, BIP being Bip, and Arthur Rhodes reminding us all what a baseball looks like.

 Pack 23-
Cards I needed: 5/15
Dupes: 10/15
Hall of Famers: 1/15
Guys Who are still being paid by the mets: 1/15

 Goose as an A, which is a sight you don't see everyday. Looks great there.
Bobby Bonilla was a Member's Choice, kind of odd, even for 1992.

Pack 24- Only needed these two.

Well...the bottom just fell out of this box. The dupes are coming in full force, and it's probably gonna be a sticky end to the box.

I'll post Part 3 sometime toward the end of the week, but it's...a LITTLE better.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Lorenzo Cain's Whirlwind 2016 Season

It's very odd. Going into 2016, Lorenzo Cain was getting some 'best outfielder in the bigs' claims, some 'prime for a big season' claims, yadda yadda yadda. And yeah, he's been doing pretty well, but it took him a while to get there.

For the first chunk of the season, his numbers were pretty paltry, with a ton of strikeouts and not a ton of offensive performance, save for a few homers here and there. And everybody started coming out with 'whatever happened to him' and 'how the mighty have fallen' and everything. Meanwhile, the guy's on my fantasy, so I couldn't lose hope that easily.

Thankfully, in mid-May, Lorenzo Cain returned with a vengeance, and that included a few multiple home run games, and a manic spree of power-hitting that beefed up his average and brought him right to the forefront of the lineup, right near Eric Hosmer, back where he belonged.

That's the thing-regardless of how powerful he's been, Cain's season has been very ebb-and-flowy, and not as constant as people would like. That's not to discount how powerful he's been, not by a longshot, but it just puts you off a bit.

This season it's looking like Lorenzo Cain's gonna be a starter for the All Star Game, which is pretty nice- not only does he deserve it, but he'll at least give the roster some Royals representation, along with Salvador Perez, another guy who works in heats it seems.

I'm hoping Cain keeps up the impressive work, and maybe it'll help the Royals stay afloat over the next few months.

Coming Tomorrow- An infielder who's been surprisingly potent for Milwaukee.

Who Wants Jose Fernandez More?

Look, some things are hazy and indistinct here, because the Marlins, as a third-place team, haven't made it known whether they want to buy or sell for the playoffs. They have a nice enough team, but also, they're behind the Mets AND the Nats, both of whom have better shots at first. Wild card isn't especially an option either, as the Pirates, Cardinals and Dodgers will also be up for that.

So...we're assuming, for the purpose of this post, that the Nationals will be going into July needing to sell. So...Jose Fernandez will most likely be up for grabs.

Like with Jonathan Lucroy earlier this month, we're gonna go over all the possible options of where he could end up, by the people who might NEED him to compete.

Red Sox: 3 to 2. The most likely option, because if it's one thing the Boston Red Sox are lacking in right now, it's pitching. Yes, David Price, Rick Porcello and Steven Wright can get you far, but only so far, and the lack of pitching depth has cost them a ton, with Eduardo Rodriguez, Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly and Roenis Elias all disappointing. If they want to outdo the Orioles, they need a surefire addition to the pitching staff, and Fernandez would absolutely SOAR in Boston. The downside is that they might also go for Jonathan Lucroy, though Christian Vazquez has become more serviceable as of late.

Dodgers: 2 to 1. Depending on whether or not the Dodgers want to compete with the inevitability of this being an even year, or if Urias, Stripling, Bolsinger and Brett Anderson aren't ready, they can grab Fernandez. This is actually pretty likely, and would definitely help the team, especially seeing as Clayton Kershaw and Kenta Maeda have been the only two consistent pitching threats on the team- this would put them over the top, and make them seriously pursue the wild card more than anyone else. Of course, whether or not the batting order is up to par is up to them.

Royals: 3 to 1. If the Royals do make a run at getting back at the postseason, they'll need to do what they did last year and make VAST improvements to the pitching staff, because it's been keeping them back big time this year. Ventura, Volquez, Young and co. have been pretty atrocious so far, with only Ian Kennedy keeping them alive. Fernandez could be a nice bet, but it's unclear whether or not they'll need to make the run for it, if they're still at this point by July.

Orioles: 4 to 1. Look, if they're still in playoff position by July 31st, they can do whatever the hell they want. Yes, Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman and Tyler Wilson are fine, and hopefully by that point Yovani Gallardo will be back to his old tricks, but there's not a ton of depth, and Ubaldo Jimenez is back to being absolutely atrocious. They could definitely throw Fernandez in there if they wanted to make a run at Boston, but it's a pretty big if, and it might hurt them if they go for a 2nd act next year.

Indians: 6 to 1. This one's pretty unlikely, but if something happens to one of the furious five, they're still at the top and they're in serious danger of sinking, nabbing Fernandez, or at least some pitcher, would be one of the few ways of ensuring passage to the postseason, because I'm sure Francona and co want to do everything in their power to keep the lightning from getting out of the bottle. Besides, Fernandez in Cleveland, in the same rotation as Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar? A fan can dream, can't he?

Nationals: 7 to 1. The Nats would clearly use this as a cockblock move, and they'd probably trade some bigger guns like Tanner Roark and Trea Turner to get him. Scherzer-Strasburg-Fernandez-Gonzalez-Roark/Ross would actually be pretty scary, albeit unlikely. Again, Washington would only do this if the pitching staff was in dire need, or if Strasburg was still on the DL by that point.
(UPDATE, HOURS LATER: Well, Lucas Giolito's starting tonight, so I'm doubting they'll go for Fernandez nowwwww...)

Cubs: 25 to 1. Theo Epstein's a ton of thing, but he's not downright evil.

Look, maybe they keep him, maybe nothing happens,'s always nice to conspire a bit early.

Coming Tonight: Hard-hitting outfielder from the feel-good team of the AL. Might be an All-Star this year.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Nostalgic Box Break: 1992 Stadium Club Series Three (Part One)

600 cards down and filed. 300 to go.

I'm not exactly sure why I made it a point to go back and collect every great Stadium Club set of the 1990's, going at least until 1995 with an option for 1996, but it's done me well, giving me some wonderful nostalgia, and keeping my appreciation for the spoils of junk-wax flowing.

So now, we have 1992 Stadium Club Series 3. It's another 300 card set, which is different for SC- usually Series 3 would be much shorter, and would essentially be an Update set in the future. But here, it's all 300, which means there's as much of a chance to miss a few cards as there is to get all 300, as BOTH can be done.

Like I said, 300 card set, 36 packs, 15 cards per pack. Hopefully we'll actually get 15 per, unlike Series 2's box. Let's see if we can call it a day on this classic set.

 Pack One- Right off the bat, you can see the 90's beginning to form itself in this pack.
Cards I need: 15/15
Steroid Abusers: 1/15
Guys With Goofy Glasses: 1/15
 Starting y'all off with some cool landscapes. Foster's is just an excuse to show of the Reds' alt-uni. Ward's is a really nice wide-angle shot.

 Our three star cards. Zane Smith would have some nice years as a flamethrower for Pittsburgh. Henke's best years were behind him, in the 80's. Sosa...his career was just getting started on the North Side.

 Pack 20
Cards I need: 15/15
Hall of Famers: 3/15
Awesome Shades: 2/15
Borderline HOFers: 1/15
 Two posed Spring Training shots. Valdez' looks pretty awkward, but Hickerson's pretty glad about the whole thing.

 Armstrong's is a standard pitcher shot. Rickey's just being awesome, stealing a base somewhere.

 That Jose Rijo card may have just jumped to the top of my favorite junk wax cards list, and it may not be the only Rijo shades card there. Him and Ruben Sierra should have awesomely dated 90's card parties.
Sheff's just hitting one out. Don't mind him.

 One of the greatest shortstops of all time, and one of the greatest all-time hitters. Next to each other. I love Gwynn's, because you can see so much in those reflector shades.

 Pack 3-
Cards I need: 15/15
Absolutely Gorgeous Zoomed Out Cards: 3/15

 Lind's is nice, especially for the little flag on his hat.

 Both of these are amazing. Tartabull's has a degree of dramatic, as it's his first shot as a Yankee. Wilson's is just lit at the exact right angle, looks pretty dynamic.

 Walden's in his college uniform, and looks pretty amazing from that angle.

 Pack 4-
Cards I need: 12/15
Dupes: 3/15
Hall of Famers: 2/15

 Just some nice commons. Ortiz' is great for the catcher's gear. Eichhorn's is just pensive and zoomed in enough.

 Two great fringe players from the 80's, and a nice Jeff Parrett shot.

 Our two Hall of Famers in unfamiliar uniforms. Murray was still pretty awesome on the Mets. Winfield was on his way to a World Series ring (finally) with the Blue Jays.

 Pack 5-
Cards I need: 14/15
Dupes: 1/15
Hall of Famers: 1/15
Former Yankees: 1/15
Future Yankees: 1/15

 Denny Neagle's giant chin reminds you that he came up as a Pirate. Rusty Meacham gets a kick out of that one.

 Nolan of the greatest pitchers to ever live.
Steve Sax...was okay.

 Pack 6-
Cards I need: 15/15
Hall of Famers: 1/15
Borderline Hall of Famers: 3/15
Former MVPs: 2/15

 Beltre's is a great stance shot. Joyner's looks so great as a sideways shot- much more detail is in this when you get the full picture.

 Juan Bell playing solid 2nd base. Wayne Edwards is nice enough to sign a ball for the fans.

 The Former MVPs. Gibson, while he was still on the Pirates (which I forgot about), and Mitchell, when he was trying to come back with the Mariners (which I also forgot about)

 Three definite 1990's icons. Johnson, of course, would become one of the most dominant pitchers of the decade. Galarraga would soon more to Denver and become one of their best hitters, while Lofton would stay in Cleveland for a while and take up base-stealing.

 Pack 7-
Cards I need: 15/15
Hall of Famers: 1/15
Guys who SHOULD be in the Hall of Fame: 1/15

 Ah, cards of people in Hawaiian shirts...I sure do adore the 90's.
Even Assenmacher is checking that shirt out.

 Three one-time superstars. Bret Saberhagen was trying to come back with the Mets. Bob Welch was still a great arm with Oakland. Incaviglia was close to joining the NL Champion Phillies.

 Two of the best. Nolan Ryan was the Member's Choice, which was pretty fantastic for a guy in his 40's. Morris was just heading towards another World Series ring, his third.

 Pack 8-
Cards I need: 8/15
Dupes: 7/15
Hall of Famers: 1/15
80's Stars: 1/15
90's Stars: 1/15

 Ron Gant's just getting going, Jeff Reardon's just slowing down.

 Man, Griffey looks awesome here, in this Member's Choice insert. Must be the teal.
Eric Davis is just feeling comfortable in his Dodgers uniform, even if his numbers don't.

 Pack 9
Cards I need: 14/15
Dupes: 1/15
Cards of guys who look pissed: 2/15
WAY TOO CLOSE shots of future Yankees: 1/15

 Eddie Taubensee is pissed that Bob Walk hasn't allowed any walks thus far. He had a perfect joke saved up and everything.

 Dale Sveum also looks pretty down. Maybe he's looked into the future, and sees that the guy on his right is going to be a manager for way longer, and for a way more important team, than he is.

 Darryl Kile mows 'em down for Houston. Chuck Knoblauch...way too close.

 Pack 10-
Cards I need: 15/15
Guys Considered Stars in 1992: 7/15
Hall of Famers: 1/15
Steroid Abusers: 1/15
Legendary Pitchers Who Pitched FOREVER: 2/15
Stars of the very late 80's: 2/15
Guys whose relatives are in the Hall of Fame: 1/15

 Sandy, just starting his 1,000 year career as a catcher, and George Bell, just finding out that the jheri curl is indeed dead.

 Dennis Martinez looks overjoyed to still be playing. Charlie Hough's knuckleball in action. Bobby Bo's still hitting 'em.

 Andre Dawson is proudly a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Barry...had his chance.

 Pack 11-
Cards I need: 5/15
Dupes: 10/15
Two-Sport Icons: 1/15

 Even Bo Knows how awesome this card is.

Pack 12-
All Dupes. Man, we were doing so well, too...

I'll stop it there, as that's enough for one night. I'll pick up with the next 12 packs sometime in the next few days, but suffice to say we come exceptionally close to 300.