Monday, March 30, 2020

Just For the Hell of it, a Blaster of 2020 Gypsy Queen

It's a weirdness I've never experienced because I wasn't alive in 1994,'s very weird having a moment in time where there's no baseball, but there' on the shelves. Like, new cards.

It's slightly counterproductive. Successive card products being released for a season that's yet to start, and may be a little while away [had a dream it was pushed til September. The hell's the point of that? Snow-ball?].

And yet, I'm out in the aisles of a deserted Target to get some air, passing nonexistent other customers, and there are cards on the shelves. Gypsy Queen is out. Usually when Gypsy Queen's out, we're comparing the airbrushings on those cards to the real things playing their first round of new baseball. Now...we have nothing else to go by. The airbrush jobs are our reality.

So here's a blaster of 2020 Gypsy Queen, fresh off the shelf, adored by Philly hero (?) Bryce Harper. I'll tally up the airbrush jobs, and rate them.

55- Trea Turner. I pull Trea Turner cards a lot.
267- Peter Lambert
300- Mike Trout. Well at least I pulled the big one.
15- Justin Smoak. Airbrush job #1- he's shopped into a Brewers uniform from a Toronto one. Not only that, it's a new Brewers uniform. You can see the patch and hat insignia slapped on, but it's not bad. 6/10
227- Oscar Mercado

Pack 1-
246- Brusdar Graterol, now on the Dodgers. Perhaps foolishly
66- Kirby Yates
286- Domingo Leyba [come and open the gate] [I don't care if it's an obscure reference i just watched that movie the other night and it's still great]
186- Evan Longoria BLUE BORDER NUMBERED TO 250. I have such weird luck with Gypsy Queen parallels. One time I pulled an Eddie Mathews mini #d to 199 out of retail. Coolest thing.
196- Mitch Keller
290- Tommy La Stella

Pack 2-
269- Jorge Soler, home run slayer and probable future bad Yankee investment
265- Sam Hilliard
115- Dustin 'Gingergaard' May
49- Brandon Crawford
118- Ender Inciarte

Pack 3-
134- Tim 'Taz' Anderson
257- Willi Castro. The other thing about GQ is they couldn't tell with Tigers were gonna catch on so they just made some educated guesses
262- Andres Munoz
68- Randy Arozarena- airbrush job #2, in a Rays uniform from a Cardinals uniform. The uniform logo looks pasted in some points and adorned in others. The gloves are well hued though. 7/10
98- GERRIT COLE AS A YANKEE. Intriguing airbrush job (#3) this one, as he's not only in a Yankee uniform from an Astros one, but he's got a different, less wild back of the head, due to the Yankee freshening up rule. So they probably grabbed another Yankee scalp and put it on his, which is odd. Still, it works, and the uni is well hued to be blue. 8/10

Pack 4-
207- Paul deJong
5- Dom Nunez. Lots of Rockies rookies
63- Austin Nola. There's ONE Nola brother
109- Andrelton 'Simba' Simmons
259- Starlin Castro, Airbrush Job #4. This is a weird one, as it's a Nats uniform from a Marlins one. On the surface, it looks great, as it looks like a great uniform, which makes me think they pasted Castro's head and arm on there. I dunno if that arm tattoo is his. Very interesting. But, as for the airbrush/paste, 9/10
150- Cody Bellinger. The other big MVP to pull

Pack 5-
239- Nick Senzel
188- Matt Chapman
166- Max Scherzer. No shortage of star power in these packs
TAROT OF THE DIAMOND insert of Alex Bregman, aka THE JOKER. DAMN RIGHT. I like Alex Bregman as much as I like the 2019 film 'Joker'.
175- Hyun-Jin Ryu, airbrush job #5, which is an easy one, as it's Blue Jays from Dodgers. So, color is fine, uniform grey is fine, pasting is fine. Even the cap insignia looks natural. 9/10
264- Trevor Bauer as a Red, which is a welcome sight after UPDATE LAST  YEAR DIDN'T HAVE IT.

Pack 6-
232- Aaron Civale
62- Dylan Cease. Curious as hell that he would have gotten the 5th starter job over Kopech. Very curious
86- Anthony Rizzo
215- Anthony Rendon as an Angel, Airbrush Job #6, Nats to Angels, which would have been a perfect airbrush job had it not been for a uniform air-ruffle that the Angels logo is pasted upon, which takes me out of it a bit. 8/10
191- Victor Reyes
180- Keston Hiura

Pack 7-
206- Christian Vazquez
52- Brendan McKay
229- Emmanuel Clase, traded to in the Corey Kluber deal.
271- Michael Brosseau. Still confused at Topps' insistence of calling him Michael. Like calling Castellanos 'Nicholas' and Boyd 'Matthew'.
249- Luis Castillo
282- AARON NOLA. There we go. Both Nola bros in the same blaster.

Not a bad blaster of this. I'm not the hugest Gypsy Queen fan, but this has some nice elements this year, and I got some nice pulls and airbrush jobs, 6 in total.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Nostalgic Box Break: 2002 Topps Total (Part Four)

Here now, the last 9 packs of a very nostalgic and interesting box of 2002 Topps Total. Expect more Nostalgic Box Breaks to follow until we get baseball back.

 Pack 28-
Guys I Have Never in My Life Heard Of: 6/11
Future Hall of Famers: 1/11
A very cool Total Production insert of Ichiro, in his second year (of 19). Ichiro might be one of those guys in contemporary baseball where you can't possibly be mad at pulling a card of them. There are very few people who fall into that category (Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Bo Jackson), and Ichiro's gotta be a charter member, despite his Yankee tenure.

 Pack 29-
Hall of Very Good: 3/11
Interesting Names: 1/11
 It's 2002, and I don't think Marlins prospect Wes Anderson had to disambiguate often. Give him 10 years and then he probably has to specify. 'No, I'm not the director, I'm just a forgotten former Marlins pitcher'.
Also, nice of Topps to give journeyman infielder Luis Sojo a sunset card.

Three very good players that are fun enough for fringe collectors to take upon. I still collect Beckett, and every once in a while I'll ponder if it's worth it to do Olerud.

 Pack 30-
Fringe NY Heroes: 2/11
Not much to report in this one, so here's a great mask shot of Eli Marrero and a solid shot of Brad Penny before he got big.

 Pack 31-
Guys Who Pitched Forever: 2/11
Legends Who Retired in 2019: 2/11
Ichiro's is the base, though it could be the checklist. Adrian's is technically a rookie. With Adrian, anything from 2000 to 2005 can be considered a rookie, because he didn't really start PLAYING-playing until 2005 or 2006. So all his Marlins issues are fun Pre-RCs, and I love pulling them. This is not TECHNICALLY his rookie, as he has 2000 issues,'s still a nice one.

 Pack 32- Wasn't a great deal in this one. Fernando Vina? Frank Catalanotto?

 Pack 33-
Hall of Famers: 2/11
Steroid Abusers: 2/11
 Luis Gonzalez was coming off his HUGE 2001 and his W.S. win.
Phil Nevin was just coming into his own as a Padres mainstay, which says a lot about the 2000s Padres

Robby Alomar was starting his tenure in Queens, a tenure that would not be very well remembered whatsoever, but this Topps Total insert looks cool.
MOOOOOOOSE. This was only his second year in the Bronx, and he was still killing it.

 Pack 34-
Future Managers: 2/11
Personal Favorites: 2/11
2010 Phillies: 2/11
 Mike Sweeney was just coming into his own as the requisite power hitter in KC. Joe Girardi's career was winding down, but he was still starting games in Chicago.

Our Topps Total insert is Aramis Ramirez, soon to be traded to Chicago. I'm still a fan of Robin V as a Yankee cards, as it's a very underrated, short tenure. And J-Rol is awesome, so I love pulling his cards as well.

 Pack 35-
Hall of Famers: 1/11
Fringe Heroes in Tampa: 1/11
 The Pudge is a cool one, as that's his last year in Texas til 2009. That's Grant Balfour's rookie, and that's a a Futures Game uniform, which is hella cool. And a Topps Total insert of Troy Glaus.

 Pack 36-
Guys With The Same Name of People I Roomed With in College: 1/11
Steroid Abusers: 2/11
HOFers: 1/11
Gotta end on Thome. Dude was a hero of mine in Philly. This is a cool enough insert of Jim Thome to end the box on.

So, that was 2002 Topps Total. It's a fun rip, and you get a lot of fringe guys and uniform combos you don't see often, well-seeded inserts and ample hero cards. But, if you're a set collector, one box won't do it for Total. I feel like I pulled like a third of the base set? I dunno. 360 cards? And it's a 1000 card set. So if you have enough to buy 3 boxes, then MAYBE you'll have a base set. Or...probably more.

Still, it's a cool break. I got what I wanted out of it.

I'm gonna do another one of these in the next few days. I have a few other boxes archived. I could go early-2000s or 90s. 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

30 Things I Was Looking Forward to Seeing on Opening Day 2020

Baseball should be happening right now.

If there weren't a pandemic swirling around the world right now, I'd be watching the first Yankee game of the year with my dad, acting like everything was as it should be. That's clearly not the world we're living in right now, and we might have to wait another month or so until we get the 2020 baseball season started.

...but if any day in the last few months of offseason was painful just being without baseball, the following few weeks will be even tougher. There's still a lot that needs to be done before players go out for the season, possibly more weeks of training of sorts, and we may not get that for a while. Any chance of a normal season has been lost.

Which sucks, because if 2020 were a normal baseball season, I would have loved to see so many things for the first time today.

So, as a way of sharing the entirety of the 2020 spring training customs, I thought I'd share a list of 30 things I would have loved fro see on Opening Day 2020, wishes for a season that may never happen as planned.

1. Anthony Rendon batting after Mike Trout in Anaheim. And if that got this team any further into the playoffs than Trout alone had gotten them.

2. The Astros' response to being caught red-handed in 2019. Would they sink to the bottom of the standings after being found out? Would they continue dominance? Would it affect the pitching in any way?

3. How Khris Davis would factor into the youth-driven 2020 A's lineup, and if he'd have returned to his 2010s numbers or fallen behind the Chapman-Olson combo. Does he have another .247 season left in him?

4. How far the Blue Jays can go now that they have a substantial pitching rotation. With Ryu, Chase Anderson and Tanner Roark, in addition to the monster youth movement, would they scare away AL East rivals any more than in 2019?

5. If Will Smith finally figures out a way to fix the Braves' rotation woes. Or if it takes more than just getting the best veteran relievers from all over and actually calling up good relief prospects.

6. Which direction the Milwaukee Brewers are headed. Either they're still competitive, and losing Grandal, Moose and Davies hasn't hurt them, or they're headed for fourth.

7. If Jack Flaherty is the potential Opening Day starter ace the Cardinals have been looking for to replace Adam Wainwright. His 2019 season was fantastic, but is it all he has in him?

8. If the Chicago core that gave us playoff squads for a few straight years has another playoff run in them, even with new manager Grandpa Rossy filling the shoes of Joe Maddon. Willson Contreras looks ready for another run, even if all it gets him is another All-Star nod.

9. If the problems Madison Bumgarner was having in the past few years (higher ERAs chiefly) were predominantly caused by pitching for failing Giants teams. If MadBum has a huge year in 2020, if and when it starts, it will have been the Giants', and Bochy's, fault. If not, the Diamondbacks just spent a lot of money on a risk.

10. If David Price has any strong material left in him, despite being the asterisk of the Mookie Betts deal. I genuinely think he's in for strong numbers in 2020, but it's up to him to prove me right.

11. If the last half of 2019 was a fluke for San Francisco, and their decision to double down on older players will count them out of the division race. As much as I love Hunter Pence, his place in the lineup might mean another year of tanking for the Giants.

12. If the new additions to the fold in Cleveland have any shot at keeping the flame going. Subsequently, if Francisco Lindor continues to put out during what may be his final season as a member of the Tribe.

13. If the Mariners look at all good or self-sustaining before the inevitable late-season callup of Jarred Kelenic. Or if Kyle Seager will finally accept his role as the defacto leader in Seattle.

14. If the small-ball the Marlins have decided to play in 2020 will pay any dividends, especially for people like Jorge Alfaro, Miguel Rojas and Sandy Alcantara, who could be good July trade bait if the team will fail to compete yet again.

15. How long it takes Marcus Stroman to find the strike zone again. Unless Stroman gets his shit together, the big Mets-Jays deal of 2019 may continue not to mean anything until Anthony Kay gets to start games again in Toronto.

16. Washington's strategy of keeping the elder members of their 2019 World Series squad around, and whether or not it pays off. As nice as it will be to see Eric Thames, Howie Kendrick, Asdrubal Cabrera, Kurt Suzuki and Ryan Zimmerman getting playing time in 2020, does it mean that the youth movement the team had banked on in 2019 is fraying a bit?

17. If the Orioles will finally figure out a way to not lose 100 games in a season. The new combo of Renato Nunez, Hanser Alberto and Anthony Santander holding up the lineup is intriguing, but is it enough?

18. If THIS is finally the offseason that makes it happen for the Padres. Cause I'm half-asking what else it's gonna take? They've gotten Eric Hosmer, Manny Machado, a call-up for Fernando Tatis and Chris Paddack, and now Tommy Pham, Zach Davies and export Pierce Johnson. Will THIS be the team? Please?

19. What it will take for J.T. Realmuto and the Phillies to stop beating around the bush and sign an extension. JT loves Philly, Philly loves JT, and I'd hate THIS to be his last season here.

20. If old Chris Archer will finally show up in Pittsburgh. He's cut his hair, reworked some mechanics, and is looking to get his prior numbers back. Will this give the Bucs the ace material they'd wanted, or will they have to just use Joe Musgrove?

21. If a contending Texas Rangers team can exist with Rougned Odor continuing to bat under .200. Even with Kluber, Frazier, Lyles and Gibson, they'll need Rougned Odor to get his stuff together, or else there's no point.

22. How long the first Rays game of the year lasts before the inevitable 'YOSHI' chants from the Tampa fans. Or some Mario-Bros motif on the scoreboards. It's not a matter of IF the Rays populace falls in love with this guy, but WHEN.

23. If the Red Sox without Mookie Betts, David Price OR Chris Sale is worth the price of admission in 2020. Even with the majority of the killer B's still intact, will the AL East have ANY trouble with this team?

24. How long it will be until the Reds' offseason gamble pays dividends. Seeing Nick Castellanos, Yoshi Akiyama, Mike Moustakas, Pedro Strop and Wade Miley on this roster is one thing, but will this overstuffing work? Will a Reds team that seems so much fun in concept pay off kinetically?

25. Jon Gray and German Marquez' efforts to keep an ERA below 3 in Coors Field. How far will they get? Will their OTHER numbers suffer?

26. The triumphant return of Salvador Perez to Kauffman Field. How soon does he get back to his ASG-caliber numbers? Is he still one of the best catchers in baseball?

27. How much of the Tigers is capable of staying around once the callups start happening. Riley Greene and Casey Mize are gonna come up eventually. It's just a matter of what this team can accomplish before they do. Will Matt Boyd make it to July before being gobbled up by a contender?

28. The number of BOMBAS in the first Twins game of the year. How many will Garver, Sano, Rosario, Donaldson, Cave, Cruz and Kepler manage?

29. How well guys like Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu, Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito do given a team that seems to be consistently good. Will any pale given respectable balanced talent? Will Luis Robert, Yasmani Grandal and Dallas Keuchel bury some great Sox trying to happen?

30. If Gerrit Cole can stay healthy as a Yankee, AND if he can continue to hit 300 strikeouts. Cause if so, we're in business.

Hopefully I'll get the answers to those questions soon. Not sure how much longer without baseball I'll be able to stand.