Thursday, February 28, 2019

Bryce to Meet You

Just a general thing: Typically when Philadelphia is the frontrunner for something...they don't usually get it.

Not just with baseball, with anything. I don't care if they're the Front-Runner to get LeBron James, or the front-runner to get a Super Bowl played at the Linc, or the front-runner to have one of the Obama kids go to school here. What usually happens is because we're the front-runner, someone else with better credentials uses our early lead to craft a better sales pitch and let Philly leave empty-handed. This almost always happens.

Alternatively, when we DO get things, like a Super Bowl, a World Series, Jim Thome, etc, we're never the expected target for it. We're always an underdog, never a front-runner.

...'til now, that is. Because last week, we were the front-runner in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes. And today, somehow, we got him.

And I was worried, too...because once we were announced as front-runner, the Dodgers, who didn't need him but can make deals like this work, and the Giants, who I always figured were going to sign him anyway, reentered the race. And yesterday I was like 'if it hasn't happened by now, the Phils have screwed it up.'

And yet it still happened. Because the Phils made a deal for 330 million over 13 years, meaning Bryce Harper will be a Philadelphia Phillie until 2032...the year I turn 37 years old, for anyone wondering.

Really the only way this can be a guaranteed win for everybody is if Bryce Harper ups his game. Because with all of the good work he's done, even with his MVP and ROY, he's had some down years, and he's had some years where he's ballooned his average and struck out too many times. So if he wants to keep the fanbase on his side, which is very tricky in Philly, he needs to play like a pro for the entirety of this deal. Or, alternatively, have multiple MVP seasons, cement a HOF status, and pull a Miguel Cabrera and spend the rest of the deal sitting on it.

Whatever happens now is up to Bryce Harper. I'd love for him to finally see a postseason win, and perhaps a World Series, with this new and improved Phillies team. But it's not just on us; it's on him as well. And I hope he realizes how much work he needs to put in to make this deal work for everyone.

Obviously I'm overjoyed, but I'm aware of the chance of failure. And I hope we avoid it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

On Machado, or How Does This Make Sense??

So...uh...somebody finally signed Machado.

The weird part is, I think that everyone was dead set on Manny Machado landing in either Chicago or Philadelphia. Two cities that were both rebuilding for the immediate future, and had solid cores already that Machado could have tried to fit into. Which may not have gone well.

And yet when I heard that the Padres were entering into the sweepstakes, my first thought was 'ohhh WHAT'S THE POINT OF THAT?' Because I've become a bit annoyed with the Padres consistently roping in contracts when they're not especially close to competing. It didn't work in 2015 with Shields, Upton, Kemp and Kimbrel, and it didn't work last year with Eric Hosmer. So I was thinking that the Padres were making a mistake by going after Machado with the little they were bringing to the table.

...and yet the Padres turn out to be the best fit for Machado. So he signs there for 10 years and 300 million.

So here we go again, I guess.

The more you think about this deal, the more it actually does make sense. Like, yesterday the Padres' primary starting option at third base was rookie Ty France. Who has not played any games in the majors. And he'd be a major risk, along with starting rookie Luis Urias at shortstop and potentially pushing for Francisco Mejia as, at the very least, backup catcher. This is, after all, a team that is trying to make its name with its farm system, and subsequently has a very young core. You have young players like Manny Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes and Joey Lucchesi, and those subsequent rookies, who haven't made huge impacts in the majors but definitely have the potential to.

With Machado, they have a more trusted third baseman, as well as an infield consisting of Eric Hosmer, Ian Kinsler and Luis Urias (though if I were a betting man, I'd guess that Jose Iglesias might be signed very soon to replace Urias). There's enough mix between youth and contracts that this could definitely work. Plus, Machado is still in his prime, has been consistently healthy throughout his first 6 seasons, is still one of the best defensive and offensive players of his era, and even in 2029 will still be a force to be reckoned with in the MLB (hopefully).

I'm not sure if the Padres will be competing in 2019, but with Machado they will definitely win a division title in the next ten years, probably sooner. I can't believe this deal actually works, but it works super well.

Now...all that remains is for Bryce Harper to land somewhere. I'm gonna keep praying that it's Philly.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

5 Packs of 2018 Topps Series 1

Real talk: I've been battling illness all week, which explains why my posts have been so sporadic. This was a hell of a virus, and I appear to finally be ahead of it, which is a great feeling. In celebration, I checked Target for Series 1, and found something astonishing...75% of the selection of hanger boxes, rack packs and blasters of the product, that were new a week ago, were all gone. Only the little basket of single packs remained, which was still fine, as I still scooped up 5 of them with no problem. It is kind of nice that people are buying more packs now. Amazing what a genuinely good product will do to sales.

Pack 1-
297- Paul Goldschmidt. Obviously not in a Cards uniform yet, of which I am thankful.
255- Andrelton Simmons
155- James McCann. Great shot, though he's since landed in Chicago.
328- Yonder Alonso, now ALSO in Chicago.
A trio of 3 dupes, Abreu, Rosario and Stroman, which I already have dupes of
Cactus League insert of Francisco Lindor...who won't be playing much in the Cactus League, since he just got injured.
Stars of the Game insert of Trey Mancini. These are minimalist and shiny. Not bad.
283- Rich Hill. More dupes
52- JT Realmuto. Now a Phillie.
302- Jose Berrios
2 more dupes
321- Jack Flaherty
136- Brad Peacock

Pack 2-
17- Caleb Joseph
236- Sean Doolittle. Hopefully he'll stay healthy this year
247- Sam Tuivailala
223- Jose Ramirez, still a standout in Cleveland
317- Kevin Gausman
293- Andrew Miller, now in St. Louis
195- Brett Phillips, a dupe
Cactus League insert of Mike Trout. Not a bad one to get, too
Stars of the Game of Adam Jones
4 dupes
234- Austin Hedges
153- Hunter Strickland
139- Mitch Haniger

Pack 3-
318- Cedric Mullins RC, which should age well
332- Ryan O'Hearn
301- Tanner Roark, now on the Reds
240- Trey Mancini
350- Nick Markakis. Kinda cool he got the 'end of the set' number.
3 dupes
84T of Matt Chapman. Very cool
Stars of the Game of Marcell Ozuna, who looks great on one of these
2 more dupes
201- Marcus Semien
96- Trevor Williams
148- Brandon Belt
58- Carlos Martinez

Pack 4-
206- Jaime Barria
264- Avisáil Garcia, now on the Rays
343- Sal Romano
16- Charlie Blackmon. Great shot of him, too
159- Astros TC
339- Josh Harrison
134- Sean Reid-Foley
199- Mike Clevinger GOLD #'d to 2019
Stars of the Game of Nick Castellanos
Gleyber Torres insert of Spring Training 2017, which uses the same photo as is 2017 Bowman rookie card.
121- Joey Wendle
199- Mike Clevinger. And the regular version!
330- Lorenzo Cain, looking dramatic here
11- Mike Zunino. Now with the Rays
271- Shane Bieber
72- Chris Taylor

Pack 5-
100- Mike Trout. Well, now I don't need to spend the big bucks on that one.
124- Jason Kipnis
95- Dennis Santana
140- Daniel Poncedeleon
3 dupes
287- Jesus Aguilar GOLD #'D to 2019
Greatest Moments of Mike Piazza. On the Mets this time
Stars of the Game of Wil Myers
3 dupes
22- Adalberto Mondesi
109- Michael Conforto
224- Odubel Herrera. At least we end with the only new Yankee or Phillie in these packs.

Solid enough stuff, and a lot of base needs, but even a week later I still have dupes in packs. Lovely.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Ten Years Later... what I looked like ten years ago. Around the time of February 9th, 2009. When I started writing this blog. 

I was a little young. A little immature. And I just wanted to write. I wanted to be a part of this community I'd wandered onto in order to see photos of 2008 Updates and Highlights. I didn't know how long it would last, or what I'd be doing, but...I just wanted to start it and see how it went. 

I don't think I even thought I could go for ten years, though. It's weird to think about doing one thing consistently for a ten year period. Especially when said period goes from adolescence to post-grad life. That kid has no idea how many card shows he's gonna attend, what college he's gonna go to, who he's gonna fall in love with, how close the Yankees are gonna get to World Series' before being felled by other teams. 

Hell, that kid has no idea he's gonna teach himself photoshop and start a career in graphic design via baseball cards that'll lead to his real-life employment. That'd probably scare the shit out of him.

Still, if younger me saw what I was doing now, what the blog looked like, he's probably dig it. He'd probably complain that I use the word 'shit' too much, but that was a change that came with college, and I still limited myself from using the other big curse word. 

I started writing this blog, really, to honor my grandfather, who died the fall before. He loved the Yankees, and collected the 48 Bowmans that provided the centerpieces of my collection. And my deepest regret is that he never got to see the blog. He would have been giving me post ideas every week. That would have been something.

This is still for him. But more importantly, it's for me. I've been doing this long enough that I've figured out what people want to read, and what they want to see. I'll just keep at that until I run out of things to say, which isn't likely. 

So...really, all that remains is to thank everyone who's been supporting the blog, and everyone who's been reading me ever since the beginning (and if you have, I sincerely apologize). I could not have done this without you, fair readers, and I will continue to do this for you. 

So that was...ten years. Went awful fast, didn't it? Crazy. 

Here's to the next milestone. 

Friday, February 8, 2019

Some Extra Spicy Giveaway Cards from Nachos Grande

This is very off-topic for a trade post, but I was in Atlanta last week and had one of the more unusual ballpark items I've encountered, a dish called 'Totchos', which is basically just tater tots topped with everything you put over nachos. Not especially a gastronomically-friendly food, but...good for the moment.

Anyway. Right. Trading.

I don't trade often because I have social anxiety about talking to people and sending them things and potentially doing the wrong thing, but I'm trying to get out of my comfort zone. It's the kind of thing where somebody says 'hey, here's some free cards, send me something for it', it's easy, because I don't have to make the effort to talk to the person or do any work I'm fearing. Thorzul does this every October, and I used to do his a lot before I got a yearly Hobby Box of Update of my own.

...This year, Chris of Nachos Grande decided to do a little giveaway of stuff he'd been sitting on for too long, and some of it appealed to me. He said 'claim anything you want', and so I did. I mean, a lot for me isn't a lot for some other people, but I know it's all relative. It's all good.

In exchange for a package that decimated a ton of his needs, he sent me what I'd claimed, firstly including an old 2012 '87 mini of the great Chase Utley. Reminds me, I should see if I want to collect that set.

 This Cano insert from around the same time-period, a die-cut one, came in the same 'lot' as the Utley. Very nice one, too. Gonna be odd seeing Cano as a Met.

There were Cutches on display, and Cutch is still one of my favorite players, so I couldn't resist. Both came from 2018 Donruss, a fairly flawed set. The teal one on the right is numbered to 199, which is nice.

I did manage to claim some of Chris' barrage of old A&G relics. It saddens me that a lot of the relics and autographs that A&G do these days aren't framed, like the Teixeira, but that doesn't make getting a Tex relic any less cool. The Pettitte one is very nice, with a solid little pinstripe going right down the middle.

This one was kinda nice though. A solid little relic of Cole Hamels in his last year in Philly. Even if it's a white swatch, it's still a nice get.

After what I'd claimed, Chris managed to throw in a few things 'from a friend', to see if I'd like them. And let's just say he definitely succeeded. this is awesome.

I'd actually seen these customs on a few blogs before, and it is actually pretty cool to finally be able to own some. These are from the Munnatawket's World Champions set, which is an A&G '08 mini set, but...far more expansive, judging by Peter Parker over here.

These two also helped a great deal. Great shot of Carlton on there, too. The Lee is great because it improves upon his '08 A&G mini as a Tribe member. 

And, of course, we've got to end on Jeter. Especially in a shot as awesome as that. That looks pretty professional, too.

Thanks again for these awesome cards, Chris! Nothing like a cool little giveaway trade to wade me back into the waters of blog trading..

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Congrats to Pat

One last Stars Are Out, which I'd been saving for a special occasion, and winning the NFL MVP is as good as any. This guy's got a hell of a future, and I'd love to see him win a ring one day, especially at the expense of the Patriots.

Well done, Pat.

...Oh, by the way, I'm in Atlanta at the moment. I feel as though there's something big going on here tonight, but I just can't quite put my finger on it.

Friday, February 1, 2019

2019 Topps Series 1 Blaster Battle, Part 2: Babe's Box

Yesterday we saw the first of my two Blasters of 2019 Topps Series 1, and it scored a nice 87 points. Today, we tackle the 2nd box, belonging to Babe Ruth. Will his box reign supreme over Aaron Judge's? Let's find out.

Once again, scoring rules:

Common/Duplicate: 0
Great Photo: +1
Yankee: +2
Player I Collect: +1
Insert: +2
1984 Insert: +3
Guaranteed Manu-Patch: +4
Red Sox: -1 (multiplies inserts/parallels)
Phillies: +1
Cardinals: -1 (multiplies inserts/parallels)
Outdated Uniform: -1
Hall of Famer: +2
Gold Parallel: +3
Lower-Numbered Parallel: +5
Relic/Auto: +10

 We start with the manu-patch, this one of Javier Baez, which is a nice one, I guess.

Box Total: +4

Pack 1- Well...11 of the 13 base cards were doubles. So nothing to report here so far.

These three I needed. +2 for collecting Buck and DeGrom, and +1 for that cool Buxton bunt photo. Boggs' insert is a 84T, which is +3, and a HOFer, which is +2...but it's a Red Sox, so multiply it by -1 and we have a -2 total for this pack.

Box Total: +3

Pack 2- Only Sanchez and Snell aren't dupes, and I don't collect either. Still, I'll throw in a +1 for the Phillie
Box Total: +4

+3 for collecting all three of these guys, but -1 for Bruce now being on the Mariners.
Box Total: +6

Dan Straily's is proof that the Gold Parallels are pretty cool this year. For a second I thought that Marlins logo was a mistake, as it looks just a bit like an old Brewers logo. +3
And Clemente's Spring Training insert is a nice one. +5 overall for being an insert of a HOFer I collect.
Box Total: +14

Pack 3- 5 dupes, including Chapman which I'll allow a +1 for, and a reprints insert of McGwire's 86 rookie...which I'll only allow a +1 for, given that I don't love that Mark McGwire is still in modern Topps products.

Box Total: +16

All these base cards were needed, and this includes 4 people I collect (+4), Olson and Flowers' fantastic photos (+2), Blake Parker playing for the Twins now (-1), and Harrison Bader being a Cardinal (-1)

Box Total: +20

Pack 4-
Only the bottom three aren't dupes. Mikolas is someone with a great photo that I collect that happens to be a only +1....which doesn't even get counted because Clayton Richard is now a Blue Jay, so that cancels it out.

Damn, this box is killing me.

Okay good, I collect all three of these guys. But that's honestly all these have.
Box Total: +23

I love Yaz, and he's a HOF insert...but nonetheless a Red Sox, as nice as this one is. -4 right off the bat. Luckily, Altuve's insert is going into my binders, so we're down to -1
Box Total: +22

Pack 5- Only the bottom three are dupes, but we have deductions for Allen and Puig being in the wrong uniforms, and Carpenter being a Cardinal. I'll move it to -2 thanks to a good shot from Joey Lucchesi.

Box Total: +20. Wow.

All positives here- I collect all but Stroman, and love the Baez and Stroman photos. So a solid +5 here to hopefully get us further.
Box Total: +25

And of course, a solid 84T insert of Joey Votto, someone I definitely collect, bringing us to +4.

Box Total: +29

Pack 6- Taylor's is the only dupe. +2 for 2 Phillies, and +3 more for the beautiful Citizens Bank Park shot, smiling Arcia and a good Cubs shot.
Box Total: +34

Two phenomenal shots of guys I collect gives us +4 more. That Yelich is an MVP shot for sure.

Box Total: +38

The Spring Training set does work, because it does feature photos of great players that we may not have seen before, like this Hank Aaron one. +5 for HOF, collecting, insert.
And +2 more for those other two I collect...and another +1 because I love that Votto photo.

Box Total: +46

Pack 7- Only the top row is dupes. -1 up front for Porcello's Sox-ness, but +1 for collecting Jansen, and +2 more for those Engel and Stros photos.

Box Total: +48

I collect all three of these guys, and all three are phenomenal photos. +6 altogether.

Box Total: +56

And we end on one last 150 insert of Ty Cobb, a HOFer, giving us a +4, and...a base card of the best pitcher in baseball, which I'll give a +2 because I collect him and...he's Clayton Kershaw.

Final Box Total: +62.

87 > 62

This was a fun rip, and even though Box 1 was better than Box 2, and had more Yankees and less inserts of Cardinals and Sox, I enjoyed both boxes. This product is a strong one, even with its usual insert problem. Will probably snag some more very soon.