Monday, February 8, 2016

Plymouth, MN

These 125 cards arrived from Jim in Plymouth, Minnesota.  It's a very nice assortment of Wallach base cards from one of my favorite periods of cards (prior to '92).  Thank you for the cards Jim.

Updated Totals:

1983 Topps: 227
1984 Fleer x2: 98
1984 Topps x3: 207
1985 Fleer: 67
1985 Topps x2: 264
1986 Topps x3: 244
1986 Topps AS x3: 451
1987 Topps x7: 715
1988 Fleer x5: 215
1988 Score: 215
1988 Topps x2: 540
1988 Topps AS x2: 528
1989 Bowman: 127
1989 Fleer: 241
1989 Topps x7: 525
1990 Donruss: 311
1990 Topps x3: 358
1990 Fleer x8: 257
1990 Score x3: 169
1990 Upper Deck x2: 194
1991 Donruss: 174
1991 Donruss MVP x2: 142
1991 Fleer x6: 135
1991 Score: 168
1991 Topps x4: 179
1992 Donruss x6: 146
1992 Fleer x2: 84
1992 Leaf x5: 66
1992 Pinnacle x4: 81
1992 Score x2: 65
1992 Studio x3: 30
1992 Topps x9: 168
1992 Ultra x10: 107
1992 Upper Deck x5: 219
1993 Topps: 116
1994 Leaf x2: 36

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday Edition (Oscar Edition)

I like movies.  I'm sure I'm not alone.  Like everything else in my life, I find a way to make them competitive, and as such, I've always loved the Oscars (even now with the new ridiculously bloated Best Picture nominations).  Below are my picks, in order, for this years Oscars (based only on what I've seen), followed by my own Top 10 list.  Feel free to tell me why I'm wrong.

Best Picture
1. Mad Max Fury Road:  As you'll notice below, the two best movies I saw this year weren't even nominated.  Go figure.  Of the nominees, I'm going with Mad Max by the narrowest of margins over the Revenant.
2. The Revenant: I'll take no issue if this movie ends up winning.  Where my enthusiasm for Mad Max has admittedly wained since seeing it last summer, I find this movie continues to grow on me.
3. Spotlight: This was a great movie, and that's coming from a guy that doesn't really like Michael Keaton.  I don't dislike him, I'm just not a huge fan, but he, and everyone else in it, was great in this movie.
4. The Big Short: This movie will likely piss you off.  Sure Wall Street is corrupt, yadi yada yada, but why the hell didn't anyone tell me those guys make so much?  I would have gone to school for that instead of law.
5. The Martian:  A very entertaining movie that has no business being nominated for Best Picture.
6. Bridge of Spies:  A fluffy Tom Hanks version of a gritty cold war spy movie.  I didn't care for it.
7. Room: Felt like a 20/20 or Dateline docudrama.  Just an all around depressing movie.
Didn't See: Brooklyn

Best Actor
1. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant: I'm going with Leo because for reasons that elude me, Johnny Depp wasn't nominated for his performance in the excellent "Black Mass."  Sans Depp, Leo is the easy choice.
2. Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs:  I thought this was a weird movie that held my attention and and was somewhat interesting, and it was more or less two hours of Fassbender's face talking about Apple products.
3. Matt Damon, The Martian:  He was good, but again, why is this run of the mill popcorn flick getting Oscar nominations?
Didn't see: Bryan Cranston, Trumbo; Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Best Actress
1. Brie Larson, Room: She annoyed me even more than she did in the otherwise good "21 Jump Street."  But she's the only nominee I saw.  Emily Blunt in "Sicario" was robbed.
Didn't See: Everyone else

Best Supporting Actor:
1. Rocky Balboa, Creed: How do you not vote for Rocky when you have the chance to give Rocky an Oscar?  Even in a loaded category like we have this year.
2. Christian Bale, The Big Short: Bale was weirdly awesome as he is in just about everything he does.
3. Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight:  When Ruffalo is good, he's great, when he's not, he comes across kind of whiney and pompous.  He was very good in "Spotlight."
4. Tom Hardy, The Revenant: Suffers from being out performed by DiCaprio and Gleeson, but was still excellent in his own right.
5. Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies:  I didn't care for this movie, and thought Rylance was equally forgettable.

Best Supporting Actress
1. Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight:  The easy (and correct) choice and it's not even close.
2. Rachel McAdams, Spotlight:  She didn't detract at all from a great film, and I could at least remember her role in the movie when the nominations were announced.
3. Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs:  I had go back and look to see who she was because I didn't remember her from the rather mediocre movie.
Didn't See: everyone else

Best Director
1. George Miller, Mad Max Fury Road: A visual masterpiece.
2. Alejandro Inarritu, The Revenant: A visual masterpiece, but I'm tired of listening to him give acceptance speeches.
3. Adam McKay, The Big Short: How he made this into an entertaining movie is beyond me, but he did it.
4. Tom McCarthy, Spotlight: Turned in an entertaining and fantastic movie based on difficult subject matter, all while not being too preachy.
5. Lenny Abrahamson, Room: How this ABC Movie of the week looking piece of garbage is getting so many nominations is beyond me.

My Top Ten
1. Sicario: Everyone involved with this instant classic turned in an absolutely epic performance.  Brolin, Blunt, and Del Torro were all robbed of nominations.
2. The Hateful Eight: Tarantino's best movie since Pulp Fiction.  Pure cowardice that the Academy chickened out due to Tarantino's "radical" view that police shouldn't shoot innocent civilians.
3. Mad Max Fury Road: Everything an action movie should be.
4. The Revenant: Somehow a beautiful movie full of bleak brutality and pain.
5. Black Mass: Suffers from comparisons to "The Departed," but still a great movie.
6. Spotlight: Very entertaining
7. The Big Short: Somehow explains the incredibly complicated in a concise, smooth flowing fashion.
8. Ex Machina: A super cool movie, that was likely hurt by it's release date.
9. It Follows: A weird, if not all that scary, movie that you'll have a hard time forgetting.
10.  Straight Outta Compton: No mention of the classic "It's on" Eazy E LP, and sugar coated the Eazy E/Dre feud in a manner very forgiving to Dre, but still excellent.  Just too diverse for the Academy I guess.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Selbyville, DE

Grant of Selbyville, Delaware sent this card recently.  Thank you for the card Grant.

Updated Total: 

1986 Topps: 241

Friday, January 29, 2016

Avon, Connecticut

These eight cards were sent by John from Avon, CT.  Included were two copies of the somewhat elusive 1985 Fleer card.  At 66 copies in my collection, 1985 Fleer is the scarcest of any Wallach basecard put out by Topps, Donruss, or Fleer during the 1980's.

Thanks for the cards John.

updated totals:

1985 Fleer x2: 66
1985 Topps x2: 262
1986 Donruss: 115
1986 Topps AS: 448
1989 Bowman: 126
1989 Score: 151

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ebay Acquisitions

I tend not to do a lot of Wallach card shopping on ebay.  For the most part, it's just too expensive.  Or at least, not as cost efficient as other online alternatives.  However, I still check it daily for cards and other items that may pop up.  Recently I picked up some cards.  Above is a lot of 68 1982 Topps Wallach's I picked up at a very good rate.  Whenever I pick up a large lot like this, the hope is always to find some sort of oddball in the group, one with a weird ink variation or that is extremely miscut.  Something like that.  This group included one of the more miscut '82 Wallach's I've seen.  When you're dealing with duplicates in large numbers, this sort of thing is exciting.

I also recently picked up a lot of 111 Wallach cards on ebay.  A good number of them (28) ended up being '86 Topps Stickers, and decent amount of other assorted mini's and stickers as well.  Generally speaking I'm not wild about mini cards or stickers.  They just don't seem like "real" cards to me.  But if I can pick up a bunch at once like this, I don't mind.

My third, and final, recent ebay pick up I'm showing with this post is a lone 1989 Upper Deck card.  I bid on it more out of curiosity than anything else.  The seller listed it with "free shipping."  I "won" it for 12¢.  I expected it would probably arrive in an envelope that was obviously sent from someone's place of business, but it didn't, it was sent in a PWE with a regular stamp, and in a top loader.  Unless this guy is stealing stamps, I can't see his ebay enterprise being a success.

Updated Totals:  

1982 Topps x68: 902
1983 Topps Stickers: 33
1984 Topps x2: 204
1984 Topps Stickers: 8
1985 Topps x3: 260
1986 Fleer mini x2: 32
1986 Topps Stickers x28: 31
1987 Fleer: 165
1987 Topps x3: 708
1988 Donruss x2: 665
1988 Fleer mini: 14
1988 Topps: 538
1988 Topps AS: 526
1988 Topps Sticker: 21
1988 Topps Super Star x4: 21
1989 Bowman: 125
1989 Donruss x5: 280
1989 Fleer: 240
1989 Score: 150
1989 Upper Deck: 163
1990 Bowman: 78
1990 Donruss x3: 310
1990 Topps Mini Leaders x2: 6
1990 Topps Sticker: 2
1990 Topps Super Star x5: 13
1990 Upper Deck: 192
1991 Donruss MVP: 140
1991 Fleer x2: 129
1991 Score x2: 167
1991 Score Franchise: 126
1991 Topps x2: 175
1991 Upper Deck checklist: 150
1992 Donruss: 140
1992 Leaf: 61
1992 Pinnacle: 77
1992 Stadium Club: 32
1992 Studio: 28
1992 Topps: 159
1992 Upper Deck x2: 214
1993 Donruss: 74
1993 Leaf: 55
1993 Upper Deck: 94
1994 Collector's Choice x2: 31
1994 Leaf x2: 34
1994 Ultra: 34
1995 Collector's Choice x4: 26
1995 Collector's Choice SE: 30
1995 Donruss x3: 29
1995 Score x2: 32
1995 Topps Cyber Stats: 13
1996 Collector's Choice Ser.II: 19
1997 Collector's Choice: 20

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Eglin, IL

This is the 2nd consecutive day with a post of a mailing from Jim in Elgin, IL.  That's a testament to Jim's dedication to sending me cards, and my ability to misplace the cards he so generously sends my way.

Thank you Jim, and I've been enjoying the basketball stamps.

Updated Totals: 

1987 Topps: 705
1988 Donruss: 663
1988 Topps: 537
1989 Bowman: 124
1990 Fleer League Leaders: 7
1993 Donruss: 73
1993 Stadium Club x2: 42
1994 Topps: 78

Monday, January 25, 2016

Eglin, IL

I recently added a second scanner into my life.  I thought it would make things easier for me.  I'd have twice as many locations from which to scan cards.  So now I could scan at home as well as my office, but like so many other things, there appears to be a learning curve.  Not with the scanner, the scanner works fine, but with my organization.  What's happened is I've started misplacing envelopes.  I bring some home with the intent of scanning them, and forget to do so.  In my effort to organize aspects of my collection this weekend, I discovered a couple of envelopes from Jim in Eglin, IL.  My bad Jim, sorry for the delay in posting these (check again tomorrow for the next one).

I have faith a system will develop from trial and error, and ultimately the two scanner system will in fact make things more efficient, but for now, it's still a work in progress.

Thanks for the cards Jim.

Updated Totals:

1987 Donruss: 368
1987 Fleer: 164
1987 Topps x2: 704
1988 Topps AS: 525
1991 Score The Franchise: 125

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Edition

I lived in Phoenix, Arizona as a kid from about age four through the fourth grade, when I moved to Cooperstown, New York.  Phoenix is where I became a full on card collector.  I'd been buying (or having cards bought for me) pretty much since birth, but '85, or probably more accurately '86, were the first years I really became an avid collector.  '86 was the first year I can remember trading with other kids.  By '88 it was a full on addiction (as it was for so many others), and it only grew from there for me until probably around '92 or '93, when prices and other teenage interest pushed baseball card collecting to the back seat for me.

But during that period from '86 to '90 when I was living in Phoenix, our neighborhood card shop was a place called "The Batter's Box."  It was never what you would describe as fancy, but it was better than all other shops in the valley my parents would haul us around to.  I imagine that over the years the perception of the shop has grown in my head to more of a fictionalized idealist memory.

Last weekend I was in Scottsdale.  My grandparents have recently moved into a place in Sun City, and I dragged my family out to visit them.  On the way back I took a well planned, but unannounced, detour.  Sun City is at the west end of the metro area, Scottsdale on the east, and The Batter's Box sits more or less in the middle.  Using the excuse of showing my daughter my old house, I then proceeded to The Batter's Box, only to find it was no longer behind the Dairy Queen next to Thunderbird High School.  At this point my wife was on to me, and none too pleased, eager to get back and begin our evening entertainment plans.  However, google maps was helpful enough to give me a new address for the store that was only a couple of miles away.

I found the store, in it's "new" location (it looked well worn as always and as though it had been there for years), and made my way in, knowing the wife and child in the car would only grow more annoyed with each passing minute.  So with more haste than I would like, I took in the shop.  It did not disappoint.  For a vintage collector, it's as good a card shop there is to be found in any random strip mall.  It's no frills, sort of thrown together, but it's cases are not filled with the usual jersey swatch cards, and autographs (sure they have a few).  Their cases are filled with beautiful, mostly ungraded cards from the 50's, 60's, and 70's.  They had stacks of singles from '52 through '75 sorted by series just waiting to be gone through.  I chose to attack the '72 semi-hi and hi numbers which they had at absurdly reasonable prices, as well as picking up a good number of '59 needs which were priced at 50¢ apiece.  Too many card shops today seem to operate in an alternate reality where the internet does not exists, and charging full price-guide price for cards is still their norm.  The Batter's Box is not one of these shops.

I worked through as much of I could as quickly as I could, and made my purchase thinking I had done well on all fronts.  I was wrong.  I was immediately reminded that my 15 minutes had in fact been closer to 30 (I think it was 23).  I took my reprimand and headed out.  My childhood shop had met my expectations after 25 years.  I will be sneaking back there on future trips to Arizona.

I spent Saturday putting together envelopes to mail out.  It's been about a year in the making, and since I don't keep a to do list, it's a tedious task of skimming through old blog post and finding the corresponding envelope for the return address.  Going forward I'm a keeping a list.  So I now have a large box of mailings to take to the Post Office Monday.

Also, if anyone needs '84 or '85 Topps, email me your need list,, and I'll see what I can knock out for you.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Raliegh, NC

These 18 Wallach cards (plus one Jeff Reardon and Buck Rodgers) were sent by James from Raleigh, North Carolina.  The Reardon is one of those weird slanted miscuts, so it's shaped like a parallelogram.  I've come across a few of those.  I'm not sure if they were miscut at the factory or the result of poor attempts at chopping up uncut sheets, as I have a hard time visualizing how they would fit into a pack.

Thank you for the cards James.

updated totals:

1982 Topps: 834
1986 Topps: 240
1988 Score: 215
1989 Bowman: 123
1989 Donruss x2: 275
1989 Fleer: 239
1989 Score: 149
1989 Topps: 518
1990 Bowman: 77
1990 Donruss x2: 307
1990 Fleer x2: 249
1990 Topps: 355
1991 Donruss: 173
1991 Donruss MVP x2: 139

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Phoenix, Arizona

These cards were sent by an anonymous sender in Arizona, who apparently disagreed with my hypothetical Hall of Fame ballot I posted a couple of weeks ago.  I had Barry Bonds at the top of the list due to his being the greatest player of my life time and on the short list for greatest player of all-time.  That enough to garner my make believe Hall of Fame vote.  As for Bonds' use of a banned bengay/icyhot cream, I wrote:

"I still have a hard time equating something done in a Scottsdale, AZ weight room in January, to cheating in Yankee Stadium in July.  Stealing signs from center field is cheating.  Hacking another teams computers is cheating.  Bribing an umpire is cheating.  Taking narcotics to fight a hangover on game day is borderline cheating.  Taking a vitamin or medicine we've arbitrarily declared not to be an allowable medicine or vitamin during the off-season is something else altogether."

You'll note the return address on the envelope is "Weight Room, Scottsdale, AZ."  Fair enough.  Thank you for the cards.

Updated totals:

1985 Topps: 257
1986 Topps: 239
1986 Topps AS x2: 447
1987 Topps: 702

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Edition

I have a problem completing sets.  Without fail, every time I think my work is done, and I go to slide the last card into it's sleeve in a nine pocket page, I find a blank space, sometimes two.  And I'll check my list and see it's either not listed or already checked and then I'll scratch my head and wonder how this happened.

The '81 Fernando there represents the final card I "needed" for the '81 Topps set.  This time it's actually complete.  It's the 3rd time I thought I had completed the set.  What makes it all the more frustrating was I know I've owned several copies of that card over the years, at times more than one.  In any event, the 1981 binder in my closet finally passed it's inspection, and I was able to mark it off on the cover of my need book.  I filled out my sportlots order (4 cards were the same price as 1 for shipping purposes) with the other three cards in the picture.  The Yount has long been one I've sought but always been scared off by the price, but finally indulged, as this seller had it for less than the price of a pack of 2015 Topps.

While seemingly always needing one more card is an annoyance of set collecting, the positives of set collecting far out weigh the negatives.  One of my favorite things about set collecting, especially the vintage stuff from before I was even born, is that it forces me to look at every card.  Which in turn, leads me to discovering a lot of great looking cards I likely never would have noticed otherwise.

The 1976 Topps Ed Crosby is one such card.  I love all the natural sunlight (reminds me of the Damn the Torpedoes record sleeve, the paper sleeve insert, not the cover), the inclusion of both dirt and grass in the background, and above all the uniforms (and stirrups are the perfect height and cut).  Everything about this card just screams 1976 to me, or at least, what I imagine 1976 was like.  Cleveland needs to bring these back these uniforms.  This is how you avoid the Chief Wahoo controversy.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Santa Monica, CA

Paul from Santa Monica, California sent this card, along with one of the more painful sounding notes I've ever received.  Thanks for the card Paul, hope the leg healed ok.

Updated Totals:

1984 Topps: 202

Friday, January 15, 2016

2016 Cardsphere Heroes

Card Review:  I like it.  This is another custom card creation of Gavin's, from "Baseball Card Breakdown."  It's pretty cool, and he actually sent two of them (the other was numbered 1/1 in a different color).  I don't count these as cards for purposes of my totals, but think they deserve their own post.  If the type on the back is too small to read, what it explains (along with a note not scanned) is that Gavin did these cards for all the players who have a fan blog, or are known favorites of other bloggers.  I don't know if there's an informal checklist floating around for the other guys Gavin included in this set, but I'd like to see it.  I'm assuming it's at least six cards large from the card number on this Wallach.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Capitan, New Mexico

I am very pleased to announce, that with the arrival of the above cards, Gerald from Capitan has put my current home State of New Mexico onto the map of where cards have been sent from.  New Mexico is now the 38th State to be represented.  The only apparent baseball card hating states that remain are Arkansas, Hawaii, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming.  Of those, I'd say Missouri is the most surprising given that it's home to two Major League teams.  The "best fans in baseball," are apparently not the most generous fans.

Updated Totals:

1990 Topps: 354
1992 Stadium Club: 31
1992 Triple Play: 74

Thanks for the card

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

1985 Donruss Diamond King #0 (Custom Card)

Card Review: "A" I'm giving this card a letter grade instead of the standard number grade because it's not a real card.  This is a custom creation submitted by Gavin of "Baseball Card Breakdown."  This isn't going to be counted towards my ongoing totals for number of different cards in my collection or number of total cards, but I felt it deserved it's own post.  This card appears to have been done using an '85 Donruss Diamond King (Charlie Lea was the Expo) and the 1988 Leaf Canadian Greats card, which was as close as Wallach ever came to being a "Diamond King."  The write-up on the back of the card sounds very familiar, though I was unable to locate it anywhere else.  I'm not sure if Gavin wrote it himself, borrowed heavily from a couple of sources, or simply pulled it from somewhere else.  In either event, it reads like a legitimate card.

Donruss ran "Diamond Kings" in what I consider to be traditional form from 1982 to 1991.  Despite breaking nearly every Montreal Expos franchise record over the course of that time period, Wallach was never selected as the Expos Diamond King.  I'm not suggesting he should have been the Diamond King every single season, but not selecting him even once is equally absurd.  It may seem ridiculous now, but as a kid, it was a big deal who was selected as each teams DK among my friends and I.  If for no other reason than it meant the potential to collect another card of our favorite player, which was still a finite number each year during the 1980's.  Here is break down of the Expos "Diamond King" each year as selected by Donruss, and my top choices.

1982: Gary Carter
My vote based on '81 stats:
1. Tim Raines
2. Andre Dawson
3. Gary Carter
4. Warren Cromartie
5. Steve Rogers

Carter wasn't a terrible selection, given the strike no one had particularly impressive numbers.  However, I believe Tim Raines should have been the easy choice give that he stole 71 bases in only 88 games.

1983: Steve Rogers 

My vote based on '82 stats:
1. Al Oliver 
2. Gary Carter 
3. Steve Rogers 
4. Andre Dawson 
5. Tim Wallach 

Rogers had a great season in '82 and isn't a bad selection by any means.  I would have gone with Al Oliver who batted a team best .331 and led the Expos with 109 RBI while also hitting 22 home runs.

1984 Al Oliver

1. Andre Dawson
2. Tim Raines
3. Gary Carter
4. Tim Wallach
5. Steve Rogers

Oliver seems like an odd choice and doesn't even crack my top 5.  Dawson had impressive numbers and won a gold glove  and I would have gone with him.  Raines stole 90 bases and would have also been an acceptable option.

1985 Charlie Lea
My vote based on '84 stats:
1. Gary Carter
2. Tim Raines
3. Tim Wallach
4. Charlie Lea
5. Andre Dawson

Carter had monster numbers in '84 and I have to assume Donruss was attempting not to double up on players to justify not going with him.  But even if that were the case, Raines and Wallach were both better options as well, and Dawson certainly could have been the pick based on his recent seasons as a whole.

1986 Andre Dawson
My vote based on '85 stats:
1. Tim Raines
2. Tim Wallach
3.  Bryn Smith
4. Andre Dawson
5. Hubie Brooks

A strong argument can be made for Wallach who won a gold glove and was named to his 2nd All-Star team in '85, but ultimately Raines had a slightly better season.  Bryn Smith also had great stats.  Dawson looks to have finally been chosen based on his career, something never done for Wallach.

1987 Hubie Brooks
My vote based on '86 stats:
1. Tim Raines
2. Jeff Reardon
3. Andre Dawson
4. Mitch Webster
5. Tim Wallach

Brooks didn't even play enough to be eligible for the batting title, appearing in less than half of Montreal's games in '86.  Raines meanwhile actually won the batting title with a .334 avg and stole 70 bases. 

1988 Tim Raines
1. Tim Wallach
2. Tim Raines
3. Tim Burke
4. Dennis Martinez
5. Andres Galarrage
Wallach drove in 123 runs in '87, led the league in game winning RBI's and doubles, and finished 4th in the NL MVP voting, and was named The Sporting News Player of the Year.  Raines had a nice season, and helped the Expos nearly battle back for the NL East division title, but ultimately the whole they dug for themselves while he was holding out for money the first part of the season was just too much to overcome.

1989 Andres Galarraga
1. Pascual Perez
2. Dennis Martinez
3. Andres Galarraga
4. Tim Wallach
5. Tim Raines
Galarraga isn't a wildly egregious choice, but I would have gone with a pitcher given that nobody in all of MLB other than Jose Canseco hit the ball in 1988.  Also given Donruss' trend of making their Expos choice based on recent career rather than the previous season, Wallach would have been a very logical choice.

1990 Bryn Smith 
1.  Mark Langston
2. Tim Wallach
3. Dennis Martinez
4. Tim Burke
5. Bryn Smith
Langston, at least for me, defined the '89 Expos season.  His mid-season acquisition brought as much excitement as any I had ever experienced or have enjoyed since.  That said,  this is another set in which Wallach should have finally been given the call. 

1991 Delino DeShields
1. Tim Wallach
2. Oil Can Boyd
3. Tim Raines
4. Dennis Martinez
5. Delino DeShields
Another head scrather as to how Donruss continued to snub Wallach.  At least they finally got around to using him for the "Team MVP" insert set.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Portland, OR

These cards were sent by Gavin, from Portland, Oregon.  Gavin runs the very interesting "Baseball Card Breakdown."  It's the first time he has sent cards.  Many probably don't notice anything off with the cards sent, which is probably about as high a compliment as can be made to Gavin, because those "Cardsphere Heroes" cards and 1985 Donruss Kings, aren't "real" cards.  Those are custom creations of Gavin's, and they're awesome, particularly the '85 Donruss King which looks completely legitimate. 

I have long meant to create some custom mock ups of Wallach cards in photoshop, but have never made a serious effort due to the time I find it demands whenever I start playing with it.  Gavin not only did it, but has obviously taken the next step of playing with print settings and blank card stock to create these extremely real looking and feeling cards.  I'm not going to count them as "real" cards for purposes of the official tally, but they're both getting individual posts in the near future as though they were real cards. 

I'm hoping to use these as motivation to finally get around to doing my own custom cards in 2016.  My short list is easy enough, '81 Topps, Donruss, and Fleer cards, and Topps All-Star cards for the '85, '89, and '91 sets.  Don't hold breath waiting on me though.

Thank you very much Gavin.

Updated Totals:

1989 Bowman x2: 2

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Sunday (HOF) Edition

Hall of Fame results came out this week, which I doubt comes as a surprise to anyone.  Ultimately, I enjoy debating Hall of Fame merits, a lot more than I actually care about the results.  I lived in Cooperstown for many years as a kid, even graduated from Cooperstown High School, and as a result have always been very aware of the induction process.  I have many fond memories of induction weekends, HOF games, and Cooperstown in general.  That said, who gets in and who doesn't ultimately matters very little.  It's good conversation for father's and son's, amongst friends, and between strangers forced to sit in close proximity in ball parks and on bar stools.  So please take my ranting that follows somewhat tongue in cheek.  I don't really care if you disagree with me, and I would be more than civil in any hypothetical debate we may have in person.  Even if you use make believe stats that have to pumped out by a computer, instead of the time tested gold standards like batting average and RBI's.  I'll still listen to your gibberish.

Below is how I would have voted were I allowed to: 

 Below I've ranked each player on my ballot in the order of merit I think they deserve with a "brief" explanation of my thinking (or lack there of). 

#1 Barry Bonds

For my money this is the biggest no brainer on the ballot.  Bonds is on the short list for greatest player of All-Time and is the slam dunk, no second place, wins by a mile, greatest player of my life time.  The only reason Barry Bonds won seven (SEVEN!) MVP's is not because of PED's.  It's because idiot, vindictive sports writers cheated him out of another two, and perhaps as many as five, other MVP awards keeping his total artificially low at a still obscene 7.  Click on his baseball-reference page, it's comical how absurdly incredible his numbers are. 

 "It's because he used the cream, he's a cheater!"  


Did you know steroids came in a tube of bengay like cream before all this broke?  I certainly didn't.  I read Barry Bonds used to pay a nutritionist $30K a month to cook all his meals and provide him with the best diet in the world, and spent an equal amount on a personal trainer and supplements.  I'm not a world class athlete.  Barry Bonds was.  But if I were spending in excess of 60K a month to get results from the best, most knowledgeable professionals in the world when it comes to diet, exercise, and vitamins, I would expect results.  Like, blow my already large 7 1/2 hat size up to a 9 results, and I'd believe they were honest and legit.  Yes Bonds blew up, he was trying to, but that doesn't mean he was cheating or knew that he was.  And even the guys that went full on needle injections of the Lyle Alzado variety, I still have a hard time equating something done in a Scotsdale, AZ weight room in January, to cheating in Yankee Stadium in July.  Stealing signs from center field is cheating.  Hacking another teams computers is cheating.  Bribing an umpire is cheating.  Taking narcotics to fight a hangover on game day is borderline cheating.  Taking a vitamin or medicine we've arbitrarily declared not to be an allowable medicine or vitamin during the off-season is something else altogether.

I believe not voting Bonds is per se incompetence and anyone that doesn't should lose the right to vote in the future.  If he shrivels up and dies at a young age I won't shed a tear.  If he lives a long healthy life than why are we dictating what sort of medicine players can take to recover, avoid injury, or just get stronger, in the first place?  As soon as Pfizer realizes there's more money in selling HGH to old white men with sore knees than there is in selling them E.D. medication, society's entire view on the subject will change overnight.  People snubbing Bonds and others will be on the wrong side of history.  You don't have to like Bonds, but you need to vote for him.  In 2034 when you're 60-something and taking your "medicine" before bed so you can walk 18 holes the following morning and still be up for a game of driveway "horse" with your granddaughter afterwards, think back on bizarre hysteria over medicine.

#2 Ken Griffey Jr.

This was another easy choice.  Griffey Jr. represents everything ideal we think the Hall of Fame to be.  I've yet to hear anyone argue against the case for Griffey.  If you're going to nit-pick, Griffey never won a World Series, and didn't reach 3,000 hits.  He did everything else though in 22 seasons.  However, I never once saw him play a single inning during those 22 seasons with a backwards hat, so don't mess with the plaque.  These "practice" plaques are fine with the backwards hat, I like them, just like I liked it for B.P., but not for the real thing.

#3 Mark McGwire

McGwire hit 583 home runs, at one point set the single season home run mark, was a 12x All-Star, and helped lead the Oakland Athletics to three AL Pennants and the 1989 World Series.  He's an easy choice for me and other people that care about on field results.

#4 Roger Clemens

I don't like Roger Clemens.  I am not a fan.  I actively rooted against him for the majority of his career.  However, whether or not I like someone or think they're a "good guy" is not really grounds to exclude them.  There's no objective argument to be made against Clemens when you look at his stats.  354 wins, 7x CY Young Award Winner, 3rd All-Time in K's, and he won a couple of World Series Rings for good measure.  He's Hall of Famer, just not one I care for.

#5 Tim Raines

Others have lauded Tim Raines and his advance stat credentials ad nauseum the last year or so, so I won't do that here.  I'll just say, he's one of my all-time favorite players, has more than sufficient career numbers, and the Hall of Fame would be a better place with Tim Raines in it, than it is without him.  Had he not played during the same period has The Great Rickey Henderson, he would already be in.

#6 Alan Trammell

I'm sure this is an unpopular opinion, but I'm firm in it, Alan Trammell was the best short stop in baseball during the 1980's.  Better than Ozzie, and better than Cal for those ten years.  He anchored a Tigers team that always seemed to be in the hunt, and did everything well.  His career numbers may be a little short, but I give him the Hall of Fame nod regardless.  That said, his omission is far from a great injustice.

#7 Sammy Sosa

I don't have a Sammy Sosa card scanned, and I'm not inclined to take the time to do so.  I just assume not look at him.  That's how little I care for the guy.  I disliked Sammy Sosa way before it was cool to dislike Sammy Sosa.  I was full on team McGwire in '98 and found Sammy to be a disingenuous loser in a Cubs uniform.  So, as much as I love the idea of Sammy being snubbed, he hit 600+ home runs.  Keeping a guy who hit 600+ home runs hurts the museum in Cooperstown, and I care more about protecting the integrity of that museum, than I do hurting a punk like Sammy Sosa.

#8 Fred McGriff

I'm one of those "counting stat" guys that kids today are so dismissive of.  So in my world, McGriff is a mere seven home runs short of being a easy first ballot HOF'er.  Forgive me, but until you can tell me how to update a players WAR in the margins of my score card after each at-bat, I'll continue to have deep reverence for my "counting stats."  Perhaps it's silly of me to think it's of more use to see a player's slugging percentage and on-base percentage, than it is to merely see an OPS, or prefer a hit to a walk, but I'll continue to be silly, and do silly things like consider McGriff a Hall of Fame worthy guy. For counters like me, 3,000 and 500 are perhaps the two biggest milestones there are.  Fred McGriff came up just short in each, collecting 2,490 hits and 493 home runs over a 19 year career.  But considering only five players have ever reached both, and two of those are Aaron and Mays, I won't hold it against McGriff.

#9 Mike Piazza

I was never much of a Piazza guy.  That's my problem, not Piazza's, as he was under no obligation to make me like him.  Instead, he hit 427 home runs playing the vast majority of his career as a catcher, and when you do that, you get into Cooperstown.  It's sort of a rule.  So congrats to Mike.  Now he's a HOF'er as well as the guy from the Belle and Sebatstian song.

#10 Trevor Hoffman

This is the only name on my ballot that I could be talked out of.  I'm certainly on the fence.  But Trevor Hoffman finished his career as the All-Time leader in saves, and as a self-described "counter," that should count for something.

Missing out:

Gary Sheffield:  Eventually Sheffield is a name I will vote for, but due to the incompetence of other voters, there's such a backlog built up that I can't fit him on a 10 player ballot.  He hit 500+ home runs, that's good for a ticket to Cooperstown.

Larry Walker: I think Walker is borderline.  Ultimately I don't think he has the numbers, and never won a World Series (another antiquated bit of criteria I cling to).

Jeff Bagwell: I wouldn't argue if Bagwell were elected to the Hall of Fame, but at this point I'm not ready to vote for him.  He had some great numbers, but in the end he came up short on the major milestones.  Additionally I never thought of him as "The Guy," and the fact he only made four All-Star teams I think is evidence that not many others thought of him as "The Guy" either.   Bagwell fans may point out that his numbers are very similar to those of McGriff, which true.  But when your borderline, your going to be subject to the irrational whims of voters. 

Edgar Martinez:  No a no glove, okay bat guy that the advance stat people love.  To me, he's a poor man's Harold Baines.  Feel free to tell me I'm wrong with a bunch of stats too complicated to figure out on your scorecard while watching the game.  That won't change the fact he has nothing close Hall of Fame career numbers for hits or home runs and is a complete "zero" in the October category.

Jeff Kent:  I know there is a very strong case to be made for Kent, but when I never liked a player, the case better be 300 win or 500 HR strong to make me check the box. 

Mike Mussina:  This is the guy that's going to turn people off to the advance stat crowd.  We all saw him pitch for 15+ years.  Look it's simple, the guy pitched for teams that were loaded enough talent to make the post season nine times, and he only won 20 games once.  Not every 70 degree day feels the same, some are just warmer than others.  So whatever your numbers are telling you about Moose, I'm still cold on his Hall of Fame chances.

Curt Schilling: Had he won 300 games I'd reluctantly find a place for him.  But he didn't.  So tough shit Curt, I'm never voting for you or your ketchup sock.

Lee Smith: I only have room for one "used to be the All-Time saves leader" on my ballot and this year that spot is occupied by Trevor Hoffman.

More Trade Bait

The trade bait page has been updated with 1983 Topps cards I have available, I have about 800 singles available, rather than list them, if you needs just let me know and I'll check for you.