Monday, April 30, 2018

Justin Verlander is Still the Best

(furiously tears through stats)


I think this is a valid question. Verlander's tenure in Detroit culminated in two World Series stops, a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, a ton of ASG nods, and a few years where he came in 2nd in the voting, but for some reason...a guy who was, for a few years, the single best pitcher in the AL, only has one award to show for it, from his particularly incredible 2011 season.

Perhaps you can argue that Verlander's numbers went down a bit as the Tigers' quality worsened, and as the teams got less and less playoffs-ready. However...this has been rectified now that Verlander has wound up on the Houston Astros, one of the best teams in the AL, and World Series winners themselves.

So, now what does Verlander have to prove? He's 35, he's got a ton of awards, he's accumulated a ton of great stats and seasons. he has to seal the deal. He needs to pitch 2 or 3 more really good seasons so that sportswriters in 10 years note his consistency and durability over the years, especially when they think about Hall of Fame voting. Verlander, as great as he is, isn't quite a lock yet, and while he probably will be soon, more amazing seasons could do it.

So far, he's off to an amazing start in 2018, with a 4-0 record, a team high WAR, a low ERA, and some of his trademark nasty stuff. He's leading a pitching staff that includes an equally-fearsome Gerrit Cole, pitching like never before, and an improved Lance McCullers. Now that Dallas Keuchel has proved himself less-than-consistent, it's great that Verlander can lead a rotation, and a team, towards greatness.

As the Angels lose more games (TO THE YANKEES!!), Verlander and the Astros will go up in the standings, as the deservingly best team in the AL West, but they'll need to be prepared for a run in with...those aforementioned Yankees very soon.

Coming Tonight: Out of nowhere, he's become the single thing to talk about from San Diego.

Avast Behind!

How about those feel-good, game-winning Pittsburgh Pirates? How about that?

Yes, Jameson Taillon has gotten a few mediocre starts since I made this, but at least Ivan Nova, Trevor Williams, and the INCREDIBLE ROOKIE ARMWORK OF NICK KINGHAM are making me forget about that. Yeah, forgot to mention that the rotation of Nova-Taillon-Williams-Kuhl-Kingham is actually frigging amazing right now, even if Kuhl and Taillon are bringing up the rear ERA wise. This is more of a rotation than anyone had thought this team was capable of, and they're all playing great. Plus, Felipe Vazquez is cementing his status as a great closer, even if the rest of the bullpen is very hit-miss.

The lineup ain't bad either. Francisco Cervelli is having his first great season in yellow and black since 2015, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco are making up for torrid 2017s, Corey Dickerson is adapting quickly to Pittsburgh, and Colin Moran is quickly getting his stuff together at third. This lineup, while far from perfect, is pretty damned great.

The one problem is that this division, unlike the AL Central, is STACKED. The Cubs, Brewers and Cardinals are also competing, and they're all very hot on the Pirates' tail. So as nice as this start is, the Pirates are going to NEED that this is a legitimate pattern for them, and not an April fluke. Because if they're going to get fans hopes up and just flake out halfway through, they need to rethink that's what they've been doing for the past few seasons.

This team has finally gotten some much needed things working, and I sincerely hope they can keep the momentum together.

Coming Tomorrow- A future Hall of Famer (arguably), suiting up and heading up a powerful AL West team.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

AL Central Update: Not Even A Contest Edition

Now...usually there's a blockade of teams trying to compete, huddled together with the same amount of wins, trying to break out and see who's going to compete and such. That's...not exactly happening this year.

Let's just analyze what we have going on in this AL Central division:

  • Cleveland Indians. Without much of a shocker, they're leading the division. Yes, some of their lineup pieces aren't at 100% yet, but Francisco Lindor is having a great start, and the pitching is already in peak form, with Kluber, Carrasco, and...Mike Clevinger all doing really well.
  • Detroit Tigers. They are in second...but it's a very hard second place. It's closer to fourth-worst than second-best. They're 11-14, which is an inversion of the Indians' record. Some pieces are working, and some of the much-needed callups, like JaCoby Jones and Jeimer Candelario, are really helping, but there's this general sag to the roster, and a lot of older contracts are beginning to pile up.
  • Minnesota Twins. Yes, I know, they used to be first, but then...a funny thing happened. They lost eight games in a row...and four of them came at the expense of the New York Yankees. Whatever momentum they had is kind of squandered at the current moment, even if Jose Berrios is finally surging. Plus, a lot of major roster pieces, like Miguel Sano and Logan Morrison, are still hitting under the Mendoza line. Soooo yeah. Not sure exactly what's gonna come of this team. 
  • Chicago White Sox. Not even remotely pretty. Every pitcher that isn't named Reynaldo Lopez is dive-bombing. The lineup is fine, but filled with a lot of inconsequential players that only sag down the accomplishments of actually good players like Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu. I don't see them improving.
  • Kansas City Royals. They're 6 and 20, which is the worst record in the AL. This team is literally Mike Moustakas, Jakob Junis, and 30 feet of crap. Not even the returns of Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon are able to salvage anything here. None of the people Yost trusted to cover big positions last year are able to do anything substantial, and the rest of the league is taking advantage of this.
So, to recap...we have three and a half bad teams...and the Indians, who are doing rather well. I don't know how stable this situation is going to remain,'s still not exactly pretty. 

Coming Tonight: Yes, one of my favorite surprise great teams is still in first, but I'm not sure how much time they have left. Still, here's their really awesome starting pitcher. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Hail Cesar (Or, How Exactly is this Phillies Thing Working NOW?)

The Philadelphia Phillies...are in second place....deservingly. In 2018. How?

This is a team that was really giving off a 'still a couple years away' vibe at the beginning of the year. A lot of youngsters that weren't really ready, or contract signings that were looking better on concept, be honest, that's kind of what we've gotten. JP Crawford and Jorge Alfaro aren't doing great, and neither is Carlos Santana. There are several pieces that aren't really coming to fruition, and Nick Williams, Scott Kingery and Aaron Altherr aren't 100% where we wanted them to be.

...and yet they're in second place, creeping up to the Mets.

It's honestly thanks to some great stuff from the pitching. Aaron Nola, Nick Pivetta, Jake Arrieta and...for all intents and purposes, Vince Velasquez, are all doing pretty well. Additionally, Hector Neris has finally learned how to save games, and the bullpen has improved from its trash pile status from last year. Also, as good as Cesar Hernandez was in 2017, he's even better here, finally coming into his own 3 years after replacing Chase Utley. And, of course, those two flagship outfielders, Rhys Hoskins and Odubel Herrera, are giving career performances and amazing averages. So while things aren't perfect, this team is winning games and getting by on cumulative talent.

The only problem is...they're in between two teams that might be a bit more well-rounded. The Mets have a few more pieces working, while the Braves...have the unstoppable duo of Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. So the Phillies' days at 2nd might be numbered, especially after losing a few to the D-Backs and, well, playing a current series against Atlanta.

However, as good as these guys are, they could definitely stay in the race for a while, and keep poking around the Mets and Braves for the rest of the time. Plus, the Nationals might make things tricky for all three, so the Phillies could have a lot more to prove as the year goes on, which is promising enough.

Coming Tonight: Long-haired pitcher for one of the best pitching rotations in baseball. So it could be anyone, really.

Friday, April 27, 2018

A Nightmare on Jersey Street

There have been nasty, unbeatable Red Sox teams before this decade...ones that have won World Series', and beaten the Yankees, and such...but this particular one might take the cake.

Why? Because. from a glance, EVERYONE IS INCREDIBLE. Rick Porcello, David Price, Chris Sale. Craig Kimbrel. Eduardo Rodriguez. Even the guys in the pitching staff that you don't hear about are doing well. Opposing AL East batters are NOT digging this season. AT ALL.

Hell, even the lineup is dangerous. JD Martinez is 100% worth the offseason hype, Mookie Betts has 8 home runs, Mitch Moreland and Hanley Ramirez are making an outstanding platoon at first, and there's this uniform feeling of superiority around. If the AL East is Infinity War, the Red Sox are Thanos. No doubt about it.

There are one or two small problems- this includes the scattered middle infield thanks to injuries, and the general murkiness of the backstop position, which will be rectified with time and a midseason trade for Jonathan Lucroy. This team could do dangerous things down the stretch, and the Yankees, while still surging, might not have much of a chance. scary.

Coming Tomorrow- The feel-good team of the NL. They're far from perfect, but they're doing some serious winning, and it's thanks in part to this red-hot second baseman.

Shitty of Angels

The Dodgers...were literally JUST in the World Series last year. How the heck are they losing this many games?

The team is barely under .500, Clayton Kershaw has 4 losses, Yasiel Puig has lost his redemption arc, and Dave Roberts is either keeping pitchers in for too long or yanking them too early. A lot of the things that made the team unstoppable in 2017 is damn near dooming them this year, and it's a shame, too. There are a ton of people on this team, like Yasmani Grandal and Hyun-Jin Ryu (!!) who are doing pretty well and helping the team out, but a lot of people are merely 'okay' this year.

And yes, the pitching staff is, stats-wise, doing pretty well. All four. And yes, Walker Buehler joining the fold would make five really strong arms. It's just...none of them are winning games because A.) not enough run support, or B.) opposing offenses are still finding ways to get by. Hell, it might even be the bullpen, as Kenley Jansen is not having a great go of it so far, and a few bullpen arms are a bit more suspect than others.

It's a flawed team, which is sad to see the year after an NL Championship. Plus, the D-Backs and Rockies, who challenged the Dodgers last year by being younger and quicker than them, are ahead in the standings, and might not let go. So...the Dodgers will need to figure out the problem soon if they want to regain credibility.

Coming Tonight: One of those guys that either is incredible or tepid. This year, he's ridiculously is his ENTIRE TEAM.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Something's Actually Working in Oakland??

I'm as surprised as you are.

Jed Lowrie, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea and Marcus Semien are all off to incredible starts. Not, like 'incredible for Oakland'. They're all got high WAR, and are all playing super well. Hell, Manaea already has a no-hitter under his belt on the year. There is ACTUAL progress going on with this A's team.

I mean, it hasn't spread all over. The back half of the rotation needs a little work, Blake Treinen has forgotten how to save games, there are still a few lineup pieces that aren't proving their worth, and after a really nice week they're beginning to lose steam and head back towards the back half of the division. They're in fourth right now, but they're close behind the Mariners, who have a similar case of lineup inconsistency.

Still, the A's have the makings of a great lineup going on. Jonathan Lucroy, while quieter than usual, is off to a nice enough start, as are Matt Olsen and Daniel Mengden. The progress this team is working with requires the youth movement to keep at it, and while a few too many youngsters are on the DL right now, there's enough power in the lineup (yes, including Khris Davis) to make people a little calmer about the prospect of competing in a division with the Angels and Astros.

I'm not sure if this A's team will catch up to the top two teams, but...they're gonna be fun, and I feel like they're gonna land somewhere around .500 with some stories to tell.

Coming Tomorrow- Another catcher, this one from a similarly-middling team...that, given where they were last year, shouldn't be anywhere close to middling.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


Last season, the Cincinnati Reds' lineup was well-built and worthy of success, while their pitching rotation was dilapidated and pathetic.

This year...they don't even have a good lineup. So much for the progress we all thought they were making.

The problem might be that even the people that we KNOW are great at baseball, like Joey Votto and Billy Hamilton, aren't playing well right now. Billy Hamilton, Adam Duvall, Devon Mesoraco...all hitting under the Mendoza line. Scooter Gennett and Jesse Winker are playing well enough, but aren't completely excelling. Eugenio Suarez is injured. The rotation's slightly less dire, thanks to the presence of Homer Bailey, but the rest? Not worth it. Even Brandon Finnegan, whose slight health last season was one of the few good pitching moments for the team...even HE'S slumping this season.

Plus, in a division where the other four teams are furiously competing and winning games, these pathetic Reds aren't worthy of matching up, which is sad, as there was some real promise in this lineup last year. Now I'm not sure when they'll be able to compete again, or how many more of these starters will be traded until we get results. It's very sad to watch.

Coming Tomorrow: Catcher who's finally found some job stability...on an improving but still unspectacular AL West squad.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Stifling a Yoan

I mean, if any new, young Chicago White Sox squad would do something festive in the stands, it would probably be this one, but, not happening.

I don't even know if it's the fault of anybody on this team, I honestly just think the White Sox might be cursed at this point. Because, at the end of last season, you kind of knew what the next step would be. Alright, we'll just take away some of the struggling newbies that were hitting below the Mendoza line, keep the pitchers that were doing well, make a few low-profile signings and just keep everyone happy. It was that simple. And yet they managed to screw THAT up as well.

A lot of what worked last year isn't especially working this year, leaving really only Jose Abreu, Reynaldo Lopez and Yolmer Sanchez as the only ones doing remotely well. I mean, yeah, Yoan Moncada isn't doing TOO badly, but he's miles away from what the Sox want for him. The pitching is pretty dead, the lineup is full of limp second-years who can't hit,'s a mess.

I think the only thing that's been keeping them ahead of the Royals for the last few weeks has been the lack of Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon on the Royals...but now they're back. So I don't know how long that'll last.

Coming Tomorrow- Speaking of pathetic teams, 2nd baseman for the worst team in baseball.

Dead Fish

(Music Puns are over. Could not think of one for this post for the life of me. I'll bring 'em back someday.)

The Marlins are NOT, I repeat, NOT the worst team in baseball. But dammit...they're awfully close.

Look, stripping the team of any of its big stars didn't help, but...there is just no momentum. There's SPARKS...but nothing's really standing out. At all. The pitching staff is...damn near horrid, with only a promising converted starter named Jarlin Garcia showing promise. The lineup is just as depressing, with a lot of sub-.250 averages, a ton of strikeouts, and only Starlin Castro doing any sufficient positive work at the plate. Lewis Brinson, the guy they were gonna build the team around, is hitting below the Mendoza line.

And the worst part is that there's not really a solution. Justin Bour and JT Realmuto, the two guys that stayed around from last year's great lineup, are doing well enough...but they're not really holding up the roster like they were supposed to in Stanton and Ozuna's absence. A lot of the better pitchers, like Dan Straily and Wei-Yin Chen, are still injured, as is Martin Prado.

This is, as expected, a team in disarray. So much disarray that I'm not sure if they'll be able to even hold a candle to the rest of the division for the rest of the season.

Coming Tomorrow- Something happier., not really, it's someone from the White Sox.

Forget About Rays

(Music Pun #10. Lowbrow but still good.)

So yeah. Tampa Bay Rays. Not a terribly great baseball team...but they've won four in a row??

I mean...sure. It's April. Let's go with it.

The weird part is that the people doing well for the Rays are the most unlikely parts of the team. Odd rookies like Yonny Chirinos, Joey Wendle and Daniel Robertson, plus weird veteran bit players like Adeiny Hechavarria and Denard Span. The guys you think would be succeeding, like Kevin Kiermaier and Chris Archer....aren't quite.

Now, granted, they're still behind in the standings, and trailing some great teams like the Red Sox, the Yankees....and yes, that's it, those are the great teams, no other Blue Jays up there with them, no sirree. And even if they do have some similar 4-game winning can't stay. There's some nice little talent on this team, but the key word there is 'little'. They don't have anybody like Evan Longoria who can carry the team anymore. That would have been Kiermaier, but he's injured. Who's gonna be that guy now? Mallex Smith??

Who knows, maybe there's something nice waiting in this team, but even if they get lucky like they did this week...I don't see much coming from Tampa this year. I just don't.

Coming Tomorrow- Another player from a dire Florida team, this one a speedy little shortstop...just trying his best.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Panik on the Streets of London

(Music Pun #9. Too easy, I know. Would have gone with 'The Queens is Dead' a few days ago for the Mets custom, but they're doing well.)'re telling me that you stocked a team full of a bunch of 30-year-olds...and you DIDN'T think it would look this dire after a month of play???

I mean, yes, it's not terrible baseball, but it's not terribly good, either, is it? Yes, Buster Posey and Johnny Cueto are fantastic, but nobody's hitting, there are high ERAs, untrusted hands in places, and a lot of disarray. And seeing as the top 3 spots are probably gonna be playing musical chairs for the next 5 months, this may be as good as we're getting.

And it's sad, because there are a ton of talented people on this roster, and a lot of good performances trying to be great. Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria and Joe Panik are borderline good, and Chris Stratton and Ty Blach are trying to save the rotation, but...the other three teams are just better, younger, and more durable. This team might fall apart as we go on: Hunter Pence has already landed on the DL, as has Madison Bumgarner, so maybe more will follow.

I mean, I like to think that things can turn around for the Giants, but...this just doesn't seem like the team for it. It doesn't seem like the kind of squad that can improve, because there's not a lot of youth and energy around. Hopefully I can be proved wrong.

Coming Tonight: A rookie pitcher for a dead weight AL East squad.

Send Me An Angel

(Music Pun #8. When in doubt, go 80s.)

We're barely even a month into the season, and already we've got a battle for the ages brewing in the AL West. The Houston Astros, the guys who made it to the World Series last year and won it all, and are right back to where they left off...against the Los Angeles Angels, a team that's accumulated so much power and strength in the last 9 or so months that they've completely matched up to them.

It's a pretty close race, one that's become a ton closer after the Angels were swept by the Red Sox last week, but the Angels are in really good shape. Their two offensive standouts, Andrelton Simmons and Mike Trout, are still playing insanely well, holding up the team, while their other all-around standout, Shohei Ohtani, is being used very meticulously and strategically by Mike Scioscia. Honestly I don't blame him: Ohtani's best stuff comes when there's no pressure, and he's already off to an incredible start both on the mound AND at the plate.

There are pockets of success hiding in the lineup and rotation, although I feel as though a few people are waiting for their huge rush of success to happen, and it may be another few weeks. I think Ian Kinsler, Justin Upton and Zack Cozart are gonna be doing well once they warm up to things. Meanwhile, Garrett Richards is finally seeing the perks of being healthy, and Tyler Skaggs and Kenyan Middleton are doing some great things on the pitching staff.

This is a good looking team, but this is also a team that could get a bit too cocky if they keep making mistakes that led to that Boston sweep. So, I'm definitely expecting good things, but with the Astros also on the uptick, I'm slightly worried for them.

Coming Today: Elsewhere in California, a veteran 2nd baseman desperately searches for answers as his age-friendly team continues to plummet.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Days Go Baez

(Music Puns #7: Really had to stretch with this one)

For the second season in a row, the Cubs can't seem to get things done in April.

I don't know what it is about this once-proud team that leads to this sort of stumbling, as not a lot has changed in the participants, but it's definitely worthy of nothing. Yu Darvish hasn't been playing like himself at all, Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell aren't hitting, and Tyler Chatwood & Jose Quintana haven't been playing especially well either.

And it's a hard thing to stomach considering that a lot of people, including Jon Lester, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, Javier Baez, and SURPRISINGLY Kyle Schwarber, are doing pretty well. This isn't a completely bad team, but a number of bad performances have been dragging them down. Right now, three teams, including the Brewers, Pirates, and...oh no...THE CARDINALS (castle thunder) are ahead of them in the standings, with the (sigh) latter team heading up the division. It's proving that the 'battle to overtake the Cubs' may not be as difficult as the sportswriters were leading on.

Again, it may only be April, and they may come around,'s worrying, especially for a team who have made the NLCS for the past three years.

Coming Tomorrow- One of the standouts of a team making a serious run at the AL West.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

They'll Never Be Royals

(Music Pun #6. Bet you thought I'd wait til i made another Christian Yelich custom to make another Lorde pun.)

Talking about this Royals team is difficult, seeing as the lineup is one of the most pathetic ones I've seen in recent history (Moose notwithstanding)...and yet the pitching is all doing fairly well.

It helps that Jakob Junis is coming to his own as a starter, and that Ian Kennedy is having a comeback season. Yes, Jason Hammel and Danny Duffy aren't 100% flawless, but they're doing better than they were last season. The bullpen isn't bad either, with Kelvin Herrera finally figuring out how to close games again, which is nice. With this pitching staff, the Royals could have been in good shape.

But...nobody on the lineup other than Mike Moustakas or Whit Merrifield is hitting. Nobody. Not Lucas Duda, not Alcides Escobar, not Paulo Orlando, not Cheslor Cuthbert. Any other potential sources of power, like Salvador Perez or Alex Gordon, are recovering from injuries. And yes, there are people like Jorge Soler and Jon Jay (ha, ex-Cubs) who are TRYING to get their averages back up, but it's not enough. The Royals have won 4 games thus far, on the strength of pitching alone. And it's gonna take a ton more than that to get them through the season.

It's just sad to look at. It could very well get better,'s just not looking good right now.

Coming Tonight: Speaking of Cubs, an infielder who's trying his damnedest to get the team back to where they were.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Killer Queens

(Music Pun #5. Bit more obvious)

Last year, we were reaching 'all is loss' levels for the Mets. The team was falling apart because a third of the team was too old, a third of the team was too young, and the other third was injured. There was dissonance in style of play, quality of play, etc. Only a few people, like Jacob deGrom and Michael Conforto, managed to stay healthy and consistent.

This year...suffice to say, they've been given a slightly better shake.

[Oh my gosh I didn't even mean for that to be a Shake Shack pun, but that's incredible]

First of all, the pitching is wholly improved from last year, with deGrom, Syndergaard, Zach Wheeler and Steven Matz all showing improvement and dominance. Yes, Matt Harvey's starts are leaving a bit to be desired, but with Seth Lugo waiting in the wings, it's not a huge loss. Also, Jeurys Familia, a year or so post-domestic-violence, is back to his usual, dominant self.

Also, in the lineup, some things are working when they really shouldn't be, like Asdrubal Cabrera at second base and Adrian Gonzalez at first. Todd Frazier's having a comeback year at third, and Amed Rosario's slowly warming up at short. There are some elements, like Jay Bruce's Batting Average, that aren't great yet, but the ferocity is there, as is the win percentage.

This team is definitely off to a nice start, but the Braves and Phillies are slowly catching up, and the Nationals probably plan on competing as well, so it could be dangerous for the Mets in the coming months.

Coming Tomorrow- Former Mets first baseman, current DH for a slumping AL Central squad.

Brand New Jay

(Music Pun #4. Sorry if this one stings a bit.)

The Blue Jays are 12-6 right now. Second in the AL East. not good. Not at all.

The thing is, this is definitely a team in flux. Jose Bautista is gone--that's the most important bit. Russell Martin, one of the other symbols of the older guard, is nearly done, as Luke Maile is doing a MUCH BETTER job as catcher than he is. People like Kevin Pillar, Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz are picking up the roots of this team and trying to save it. Now, granted, there are a ton of people in this lineup, like Randal Grichuk, Devon Travis, Kendrys Morales, and the aforementioned Martin. And...Josh Donaldson, the team's star, is injured. Additionally, the rotation is a bit weightier than usual, with higher ERAs than usual from Marcus Stroman and Marco Estrada.

So, while this is not a perfect team, this is a team that knows how to win. And judging from the fact that Roberto Osuna already has 5 saves, this team is winning a ton when it shouldn't be. A ton of clutch aspects here. So yes, while the Yankees were able to put the Jays away tonight, they might not be as lucky. The Blue Jays aren't...nominally what I'd call 'good' per se, but they're sneaky, and they can hide the fact that they're not wall-to-wall amazing by stealing games and walking off. This is what they did towards the last half of 2015 and 2016, so it's worrying me a great deal that they're looking to be good at this now.

Things will even out, but...the Blue Jays could still remain a figure in the division. So I'll be hoping that they don't.

Coming Today: One of the more impressive veterans still producing right now, suiting up for a red-hot NL East team.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


I've posted several times on here about JustCommons, mostly because it's been aiding me in several of my set-building endeavors, as well as being a nice source of cards that are impossible to find at any old 10 cent bin. It's a nice little utility to have as a collector with social anxiety who sucks at doing trade requests (MORE ON THAT ANOTHER DAY!)

JustCommons, however, is not a thing anymore. It's a figment of the imaginations of every like-minded collector. Good news is the JustCommons guys are now doing the exact same thing that they were doing before, only with a COMPLETELY NEW NAME, 'CardBarrel', which is slightly more accessible but has less combinations in terms of snappy blog post titles.

Needless to say, I stocked a cart from CardBarrel recently, went well. It went as well as any JustCommons order I've done, only now that JustCommons has vanished into the ether indefinitely and legitimately, it was...nominally different?

I'm monologuing. You don't want to see me monologuing, you wanna see the bloody cards. I can show those. I nabbed a Jim Thome from A&G 2007 specifically because I thought it'd be a good title image. Because nothing catches the eyes of scrolling collectors like a smiling Jim Thome card.

 Dudes I Collect:

Jack Morris is officially a Hall of Famer! That means I don't need to feel bad about collecting his cards. I mean...I never really FELT bad about collecting his cards, but I'm guilty about random things for the sake of snappy blog posts.

One thing I AM....genuinely guilty about is not having a ton of Morris post-dufex-era Tigers issues. My binders have a ton of Blue Jays, Twins and EVEN INDIANS cards of Morris, so I need to replenish the post-retirement Tigers well as quench my meandering thirst for UD Goudey, which was a very nice set. This card accomplishes both.

 Three late-career Morris'. Mostly Indians issues, but one rad '93 Leaf Jays one in there, solely because I also really like that set.

 Also, seeing as I should collect at least one 1993 Philadelphia Phillie that isn't a pompous ass on ESPN...or a pompous ass on Twitter, I might as well nab some Darren Daulton cards, because not only is he a great hitter and player, but there's no possible way he can disappoint me with his post-career inclinations (except for dying).

I dig the 1997 UD one, because it mentions that he's changed position from catcher to outfield, in an endearing and not-at-all 'your career is nearly over' kind of way.

Collecting Dutch means enduring his more unfamiliar moments, such as his ring-winning but dignity-sacrificing turn as the 1997 Marlins' backup catcher and first baseman. I do really like the 1998 Topps card, because it's an example of the several instances of great photography in there.

 Another collection I'm trying to spruce up is Kenny Lofton, because he's one of the more fun players of his time, and one of the more prominent base-stealers of an era. Yes, he's not a Hall of Famer, but...neither is Daulton and I still collect him.

Some evidence of Lofton's year-long stay in Atlanta here, especially the well-thought-out 98T one.

 Lofton also played for both sides of Chicago in the span of a year, with several other uniforms in the middle. Both cards show instances of bunting, which reminds me of Juan Pierre....another guy who wore both Chicago uniforms and bunted.

 Late career Lofton. I think around this time, ESPN or somebody did an ad about Kenny Lofton changing teams every five seconds, which was a nice touch.

 Of course, thanks to the recent HOF vote, I figured I needed to let some more Vlad Guerrero into the book. I obviously have a ton of Angels issues of his in my collection, because he was huge in Anaheim by the time I started collecting. This 2010 A&G release of Vladdy in his sole, but still memorable, year in Arlington, was one of the many, including...




I mostly did this to bolster my Expos collection of his, as he's probably going in as an Expo (right?? RIGHT??) but still.

 Random Needs:

The one thing you can do on JustCo- UH, I MEAN...UHHHH... you can look in sets you don't hear about very often and find cards you didn't know were awesome, like this 1997 Pinnacle issue of Jim Edmonds.

These two legends also had 97 Pinnacle issues, and they're both pretty cool as well, with emphasis on the Eck.

 Also, here are some from (GASP) 2003 TOPPS TRADED??? Some random guys I collect from that set, including the rare sight of Roberto Alomar in a ChiSox uniform, and Juan Pierre and Aramis Ramirez' first cards in classic uniforms.

 Also, they had some First Pitch cards I didn't have,, might as well. Jim Caviezel is best known for...wait, shit he's done a TON of things. He was in The Count of Monte Cristo, the Passion of the Christ, Person of Interest. Veteran, respected character actor. Also, he was in Frequency, which is a really cool movie that you should see.

 Mariners had a ton of good ones last year,  including Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard (a must-have), and Iron Chef Morimoto.

These Chicagoans were the high points. Anthony Rapp is, and forever will be, Mark from Rent. And Ty Pennington will forever be that goofball that ran around a construction site yelling "WE'VE GOT TWENTY-FOUR HOURS! TWENTY-FOUR HOURS!" on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for 7 years.

 Set Needs:

These two Yankee pitchers marked off two more set needs for the 2008 Topps Trading Card History insert set, a classic by all means. Getting down to the wire on that one.

 These two knocked off some 2014 Stadium Club base needs, as i'm still building that one, as it's surprisingly manageable (rookies notwithstanding)

 And these four, minus the Buxton which I already had, go toward the 2016 Archives set, which is slowly coming along.

And these three head towards the 1994 Stadium Club set. Now, if you think that's a minuscule amount of Stadium Club...


I needed ALL OF THESE for my 1995 Stadium Club set. Most of these came from Series 1 of the set, which has now balanced itself to looking more manageable, like the Series 2 set. Here are the highlights:

 Curt Schilling in a 90's-era-alt-uni
A super-cool dirt-facing shot of Carlos Sanchez

 Two INSANELY COOL POSED SHOTS. The Brewers had a TON OF awesome posed shots in this set, rivaling the Diamondbacks of current years. This Spiers is definitely a highlight, right next to the Pat Listach from this set.

 Two team heroes- squatting Biggio, pile-driving John Franco.

 Assorted static shots. Arocha and Delgado are in stadium moments, while Klesko, and his background, are pretty awesome.

 From the Statistical X-TREME subset, Bret Saberhagen and Carlos Baerga.

 Another insanely cool posed Brewer, and a nicely-zoomed shot of Derek Bell sliding.

 Lots of blue sky here. The Bones and Merced are great, as those two had some great cards, but the Lopez is the classiest of the bunch.

And, as is tradition, we end on one last Darren Daulton to bring this post full circle.

That was my CardBarrel haul. Might do another one in a little while, as they're still very helpful.

Diamondback to Black

(Music Puns #3. This one's a little classier)

Like last year, the NL West has delved into a fierce battle between two 90's expansion teams, the Diamondbacks and Rockies. Also like last year, the Dodgers are currently staying out of the race. But unlike last year, the early edge is going to the Diamondbacks, and for good reason.

The D-Backs have compiled a ton of really nice, homegrown talent onto one roster, to the point where the only accoutrements, like Jarrod Dyson and Alex Avila, are being used to bolster the core. And the core is essentially the killer A.J. Pollock/Paul Goldschmidt combo, with occasional assists from Chris Owings and David Peralta. Yes, the rest of the lineup needs to catch up a bit, and yes, Jake Lamb is currently on the DL, leaving the team with such an embarrassing hole at 3rd base that it evokes the Red Sox' from last year, right down to the inexplicable Deven Marrero presence.

The pitching is slightly down from last year, but still fine. Patrick Corbin and Zack Godley are off to the best starts, while Robbie Ray needs to keep his ERA down. Zack Greinke is...well, he's not off to the best start, but he's still dealing strikeouts when he can. Taijuan Walker just went on the DL for Tommy John surgery, but there seems to be someone else waiting in the wings (and if that doesn't work out, might I suggest trading for one of the many underused pitchers in Houston? Come on, they can throw in a third base prospect or something)

The D-Backs are off to a nice start, even if they don't look perfect, and even as the Rockies are beginning to catch up.

Coming Tomorrow- [angry Elmer Fudd noises] Guess who's trying to compete again??

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Morning Beltre

(Music Pun #2. Yes, I am planning on keeping this going, though I'll try to pick from happier albums)

On the outside, the Rangers look basically the same. Adrian Beltre's having another nice season, Nomar Mazara's hitting for average, Joey Gallo's already hit 20+ strikeouts. But on the inside, there's a lot in disarray. A ton of crucial pieces have gotten injured, including Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor, and the pitching staff is almost completely falling apart, with Matt Moore and Martin Perez limping along, and Cole Hamels and Mike Minor trying to stay afloat with high ERAs.

Literally the only good thing to say about this season for the Rangers is that Bartolo Colon is doing incredible things in the rotation, taking a perfect game into the eighth inning the other day, and immersing himself into his world-famous Dominican Mystery Cream that shaves ten years off of his pitching arm. He's literally the only reason to watch Rangers games, and he only shows up every 5 or so days. And even so, if he's up against somebody like Shohei Ohtani or Justin Verlander, you know which way it's gonna go. He may be Bartolo Colon, but he's not Superman (he's more like the Hulk).

Not sure about the turnaround here, as the Rangers, while healthy, have more to write home about than the A's, but the A's do have the better pitching staff, as well as a better number of people on the lineup who are hitting well, so maybe the Rangers are destined for last? It's kind of sad to see another Adrian Beltre squad fall apart, but...seeing as the fellow already is destined for Cooperstown, I don't really feel AS bad...

Coming Tonight: An outfielder for a team that, contextually, should not be in first place, but definitely is, and is definitely earning the distinction.