Friday, April 17, 2020

In Lieu of Boredom, A Value Box of 2020 Topps Opening Day

This is what it's come to, folks.

I just needed cards, something that wouldn't involve any semblance of dupes or headaches. Just a break. I was supposed to have a box break ready to go a week ago, but UPS has foiled my plans, and now I have to get in contact with them. I'm also recovering from a strong work week, which has put a lot of my card-related plans at a standstill.

Until the point where everything relapses or dissolves, here is a 16-pack box of Opening Day. I just expect  this to be a pick me up. If I wanted substance, I'd wait for Big League.

Red Parallel Pack:
66- Paul Goldschmidt
166- Andrew Benintendi
158- Mike Clevinger
99- Nick Senzel
118- Yoan Moncada, perhaps the only non-Red-friendly team in this pack
140- Michael Chavis. 2 Sox, but 1 Phillie, so I guess it's fine.

Pack 1-
111- MIGUEL CABRERA. Starting off with a future HOFer doesn't hurt
135- Tommy Edman
169- Rafael Devers. Lots of Sox so far
3- Garrett Cooper
187- Jacob deGrom
108- Corey Seager. If this is a preview of his S2 card, I approve
Opening Day insert of CITIZENS BANK PARK. A BEAUTY. This insert set commemorates last year's Opening Days, and this was Braves-Phils at CBP. Still, great place to watch a game.

Pack 2-
109- Trevor Story
56- Mike Soroka. So glad Topps has dropped 'Michael'. Now to wait for them to drop it from 'Brosseau'
20- Max Scherzer
25- Omar Narvaez
144- Buster Posey's catching gear shot
Mascots card of Rosie Red. I kinda love the continued presence of mascots in Opening Day. Loved it when I was 11, love it now.

Pack 3-
115- Yusei Kikuchi
32- JD Martinez. The Sox streak continues. Still no Bombers
85- Elvis Andrus. Nice of Topps to include Rangers in this set
8- Domingo Santana
39- Carter Kieboom
Opening Day insert of Petco Park. I have heard great things about this stadium, but have yet to attend a game there. My dad has, says he loves it.

Pack 4-
107- Max Muncy
136- Shane Bieber
51- Ramon Laureano. Lots of S1 reruns
146- George Springer
57- Dustin May
174- Sonny Gray

Pack 5-
69- Tommy La Stella
12- Nico Hoerner
10- YASMANI GRANDAL as a WHITE SOCK. Who said Opening Day didn't do great work with  airbrushing?
193- Cavan Biggio
143- Kyle Schwarber
75- Craig Kimbrel
Sticker Collection Preview of Juan Soto

Pack 6-
145- Freddie Freeman in a cool throwback
68- Dominic Smith
133- Christian Walker in a cool throwback
103- Hanser Alberto
41- Patrick Corbin
164- Alex Bregman
Spring has Sprung insert of Gavin Lux. These are cool and fun!

Pack 7-
191- Hunter Renfroe on the Rays. Another solid airbrush job
100- John Means. HIM, of all people, for the hero number?
91- Marco Gonzales
106- Tyler Glasnow
104- Matt Boyd
29- Jordan  Yamamoto
Mascot Card of Paws, from the Tigers

Pack 8-
97- Eugenio Suarez
86- Anthony Rendon as an Angel
77- Bryan Reynolds
199- Jose Berrios
87- Giancarlo Stanton. FINALLY a Yankee
184- Matt Olson
Opening Day insert of T-Moble Park, another one I've yet to go to

Pack 9-
7- James Paxton. Okay, a Yankee helps
95- Eduardo Escobar
58- Mike Fiers
Spring has Sprung of SANDY KOUFAX. COOL.

Pack 10-
101- Kenley Jansen
22- Anthony Rizzo
94- Liam Hendriks
195- Brad Hand
46- Franmil Reyes. FINALLY a Topps card of the Franimal in Cleveland
149- Charlie Blackmon
Opening Day insert of Target Field. More and more stadiums I haven't been to

Pack 11-
183- Yuli Gurriel in a sweet throwback
43- Shohei Ohtani
26- Sean Murphy
81- Evan Longoria
18- Lance Lynn
180- Austin Riley
Team Traditions insert of the Baseball Bat Chandelier in T-Mobile Park

Pack 12-
82- Orlando Arcia
42- Max Fried. Glad to see he snuck onto the checklist
73- Amed Rosario
165- Brandon Lowe
159- Luke Voit
117- Kris Bryant
Sticker Preview insert of Nolan Arenado. Stickers this year look a lot like Topps Fire

Pack 13-
110- Merrill Kelly
176- Jean Segura
192- Dee Gordon
151- Ian Kennedy, closing pitching aficionado
190- Trent Grisham RC, shopped into a Padres uniform
129- Cody Bellinger BLUE PARALLEL. Not numbered, though
Mascots insert of MR. MET. NOT BAD

Pack 14-
119- Joey Lucchesi
83- Eric Hosmer
21- GERRIT COLE AS A YANKEE. Granted, the chin line is OBVIOUSLY photoshopped, as I'm getting some Henry Cavill in Justice League uncanny valley from the chin. Back of his head's also photoshopped as well. Nice try though
Three straight dupes from the red parallel pack

Pack 15-
28- Mookie Betts. Kinda happy they didn't try airbrushing him into a Dodger uniform
13- Brian Anderson
140 Michael Chavis
121- Zack Greinke as an  Astro. At least I know that's not an airbrush job
27- Juan  Soto.
Opening Day insert of the Oakland Coliseum

Pack 16-
89- Jose Altuve
14- Alex Verdugo. Also not shopped into a Sox uniform
168- AJ Puk
90- Mike Trout
88- Great shot of Matt Carpenter
148- Jorge Polanco
Spring Has Sprung of Sandy Koufax. INSERT DUPES? REALLY?

An amusing box of Opening Day, even if a lot of it is inherently flawed. Still helped my mood a little.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Hoarder of the Phoenix

Don't you wanna go back in time and pepper something like this into the 50s sci-fi movie depictions of the future, outlandish tales of future civilizations never to be, and just throw in there "it is 2020, and baseball is only played in and around Phoenix, Arizona"

This may be what we're looking at. The feasible plan to start up the MLB season in 2020 would be to bring all the teams and players to the Phoenix metropolitan area, use the rampant amount of Spring Training facilities and stadiums therein to put on 15 games a day there, and start up the MLB season in one area that's been largely unaffected by the virus. This is a start.

There are still a few factors that may curtail this plan, like the fact that they want things to get started by May, and we're not entirely sure if everything will be up and running by that time. Also, how sure are they that Arizona will remain untouched in a month's time? Did McCain's last legislature there include installing an anti-virus bubble all over the state? If so, why didn't Jersey get one of those? Or any other state in that matter?

But the biggest factor here, if everything does end up happening in Phoenix, is how will the other 29 teams do without their homefield advantage. I think about teams like the Cardinals, who don't allow many home runs because of Busch Stadium, or the Red Sox, who usually have that left field wall to worry about, or the Rockies, who are used to different air quality to propel home run balls. How will they do in a neutralized, standardized place of play? I equate this to something like the Olympics or the World Cup- how do all these other great teams do on an even playing field, in a stadium they don't know? And that factor might lead to some very interesting statistical possibilities.

If this happens, I'd keep an eye on Jon Gray. The only thing that has prevented him from being an elite pitcher in the last few years has been the Coors-Field-ness of it all. I wonder how he's gonna do in a neutral stadium, with a balanced quality. I wonder how everyone else is going to do.

Again, not sure if this WILL happen, but it's an intriguing likely idea that could end up being how the 2020 MLB season begins.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Baseball Hall in 2019: Yes, There are Cards

My family, as I've written about on this blog a few times before, will often take a week in August and go up to Lake George, NY with the extended family, and just sit on a porch and drink for a bit.

Usually when we're up there, someone will get the bright idea to suggest driving an hour or so up to Cooperstown to see the Baseball Hall of Fame. Usually my dad and I drive. It's always a rotating number of relatives, young and old, going for different reasons, but I always look to see what's new, what's different.

Seeing Mariano Rivera in a plaque was definitely new and different. Just like it's gonna be when Jeter gets his this year, if there even is a ceremony. Mariano Rivera was one of the defining Yankees of my upbringing, and it was a joy to watch him pitch. And it was even more of a joy to see him in Cooperstown, next to so many other legends of the game.

Below, are some findings, some things I thought were interesting:

 The emphasis on wild memorabilia and branding is one I've always loved there. Where else can you  find Sammy Sosa cereal, Albert Pujols Uno and Jose Reyes' wine?

 As you'll see below, there's a ton more emphasis on baseball cards at the Hall than there ever was, even just peppered throughout other exhibits. I loved these two being here, especially the Washington Colbert.
And, in an exhibit about the 70s A's, you kind of have to talk about the cards, because the cards were just as 70s-y as that team.

 More 70s fun. THAT OSCAR GAMBLE CARD, MAN. Proudly in there.
 Not sure what's the cooler part of this late-70s standee- a bottle of Ron Guidry's Louisiana Lightning hot sauce, or a first edition hardcover of one of my favorite-ever baseball books.

VHS CASES, MAN. Heck, Little Big League is in there, so you know they went in depth with these.

 I'd heard of some of these candy bars that'd been on display there, but not these three. The Pronk bar is an especially cool one. Travis Hafner was great and all, but you never expect to see him on a candy bar wrapper. The other two, yeah, I can definitely see.

One of the cooler parts of the Hall now is seeing contemporary baseball memorabilia show up, parts of players and teams you grew up with now part of history. Like Ichiro's hit counter. Man, Ichiro's gonna have his own wing when he gets in around 2025.

 In addition to the obvious kinds of collectibles, I also love them doing other kinds of things people can collect, like some cool bobbleheads. That Yadier Molina's a lawn gnome I think? I don't know.
One of the big things I collect  in addition to cards is ballpark pins, or baseball pins in general, and seeing a whole board of countless MLB pins and mementos of teams and places and things- MAN that is cool.

 Yes, the 2010s Giants have their own standee here as well, which  makes me happy, as that's one of the first teams I can say I saw right when they got big. A Brian Wilson beard is nice, but where's a Kung Fu Panda hat?
 Me, my dad, and my cousin Ian laughed at this one's inclusion. Sad thing is that's the closest Jenrry Mejia's ever getting to being in the Hall.

And yes, folks. Bartolo Colon does have some stuff in the Hall of Fame. I was worried, too.

 More proof that the Hall is catching up to modern trends- Players Weekend uniforms. This one is Brad Boxberger's and it's awesome, though I reckon Mark Melancon's from last year may be the next standard.


 Over at the Today's Game lockers, my boys were pretty well represented.

A Nats nesting doll. I took this before they got really hot, so this now looks really good post-WS win.

This is a cool piece of fan giveaway material- I also kinda love that they got AC/DC to do Hell's Bells for Trevor on occasion. Also, fun fact- the Hall's gift shop had a discounted Trevor Hoffman shirt in my size. So I now have that in my repertoire.

 Their exhibit on feats and records hasn't especially changed dramatically, but I do love that a Wade Boggs Rays jersey is sitting there. More people need Wade Boggs Rays stuff in their collections.

 This felt nice. Reeeeeally nice.

 Good to see K-Rod in here as well. Feels weird that him setting the saves record was only 12 years ago.
Right, as a 6'7 blogger, I should probably show this as well. Jon Rauch is the tallest guy to play the game, and he was nasty as heck when he played for Washington and Minnesota. And, by comparison, they put an Eddie Gaedel cut-out there.

 As usual, they have a glass case dedicated to the previous year's World Series winner. Whenever I come here, either the Sox have just won or the Cardinals have just won. I did enjoy the year when the Phils had won and Brad Lidge was here, but...fine, Steve Pearce. Fine.
....fine fine fine fine fine

Whatever, that WAS a good team in 2018 anyway.

 Usually they use a room downstairs near the plaques where they present the new inductees, but because there were so damn many in 2019, they had a separate room for them. Here's Harold Baines' stuff. I still don't entirely think he deserved induction, but who am I to disagree with the BBWAA?

 Seeing Edgar's stuff was very nice. My uncle, the long-suffering Mariners fan, loved Edgar, and was so excited that he finally got in. As was I.
 Of course...Mo's stuff was the biggest crowd pleaser. No real pomp, just some accolades, some rings, that legendary #42. What else do you need?
 The other guy I was really interested in seeing on display was Roy Halladay, a Philly hero of mine. Glad to see both his Cy Youngs, and a 2003-era Jays uniform. Made me very proud.

 Lee Smith was one of two HOF inductions I'd been holding out for for years, and seeing his stuff was nice too. That college jacket is a nice touch..
 As is this bit, detailing all 8 teams he played for. Would have preferred a different choice for the Angels than that awful 96 Donruss design, but...whatever. At least 94 Fleer made it.

And of course, Mike Mussina. Weird that we have an O's uniform but no Yankee uniform, but arguably his tougher numbers came in  Baltimore, so I get it.

I promised cards earlier, and...
 Yes. AN ENTIRE EXHIBIT ON BASEBALL CARDS. No longer just glass cases against a wall in a back corner. AN ENTIRE EHIBIT.
 This is a blurry photo, but they had these organized by year, and by types of sets. So 1981 Topps was well-represented. Mario Mendoza's card was in there for...dubious reasons.

 Great choices for 2010 and 2011- NATIONAL CHICLE IS IN THE HALL. One of the few sets I've tried to collect, makes it in. I love it.
Also, 2011 Gypsy Queen minis and 2011 Heritage.
This was the newest page, with some 2018 and 2019 Topps. It's a bit less interesting now that Topps has flooded the market, but this is still fine.

 This exhibit went into detail about things that may not be so commonplace to casual baseball fans, like competition in the 80s from Donruss, Fleer and Upper Deck
 Heck, there's even  a bit devoted to the Junk Wax era. How cool is that?

 And some notes on what makes 'hits' in modern collecting, like game used cards and refractors and such. Plus, a genuine 2019 Topps wrapper.

It gets more granular than that, going into detail on different types of card shots. They REALLY did well here.

 Heck, they even  go into detail on font, design, border, COLOR PALETTE. I kinda love it.

 AND CARD DOCTORING. Reminds me, I need to write a post on my dad's on card doctoring.


 An actual vending machine, promising a better business model than the cockamamie 10-cards-for-3-bucks model we have now.

Hell, they even have some fun  error cards here, like the Aurelio Rodriguez, the Smoltz/Glavine, and the Aaron negative.

One last shot of my dad with  some of the pull-out cabinets of cards. This is a very cool exhibit, and I love that somebody must have really done research and talked to collectors while putting this together. A shame people can't visit it now given the circumstances, but...this was fun to go to last year.