Thursday, April 27, 2017

Quick GQ Post

I was out of power last night for 4 hours due to a thunderstorm that took out numerous trees and power lines.  I did have a few cards scanned from a trade package I received early this week.  I traded a few 2017 Gypsy Queen cards for some Cardinals from the same set.

None of these 3 players are off to a great start this year.  Wainwright is showing his age big time.  I think his previous injuries are catching up with him.  Fowler had a 2 home run game early last week against Pittsburgh, but has not hit at all the rest of the season. Martinez started out great against the Cubs the first game of the season, but has not won a game this season while losing 3 games.  Maybe it is his new hairdo that is throwing him off.

Both Diaz and Oh are going through some bumps to start their sophomore seasons.  Diaz leads the team with 4 home runs, but has made 3 errors already.  His bad throw in extra innings on Tuesday night led to the winning run being scored.  Oh does have 5 saves, but also a 5.59 ERA to go with them.  Knowing how Matheny overuses his bullpen, I would not be surprised if he develops some time of arm injury this year.

Carpenter has not adjusted to hitting third in the batting order.  He is hitting under .250 and averaging a strikeout per game.  Molina's offense is about on par with his last few years, but his defense is lagging.  He has one error and 2 passed balls.  There were a couple of wild pitches that could have been passed balls.  Weaver pitched 2 innings in his first Triple A start this year before he injured his hand/wrist.  He is due to return to the Triple A rotation sometime in May.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I Love the Variety

One nice thing about joining a new trade group/site is all the new cards you are exposed to.  Since joining Trading Card Database back in late January, I have added over 500 Cardinals to my collection.  A lot of those are from sets I never knew existed or have not seen in person.  One of my latest trade packages was full of such cards.


You most likely have seen 1989 Topps Mini League Leaders cards like the Ozzie on the right, but have you ever seen a 1992 Confex Baseball Enquirer?  Me neither.  Ozzie does not look too comfortable wearing the neck brace.

The Musial on the right is your standard size 2011 Topps Before There Was Topps insert.  The 9 mini cards on the right are from the 1993 Topps Micro set.  I had the Ray Lankford from this set, but have never seen any of the other cards before.  After received about 20 of these cards in the trade, I just need Ozzie Smith and Rene Arocha to finish the set.

1992 Upper Deck is about as boring a junk wax set as you could find.  I completed that set 20 some years ago, but this trade included all of the Gold Hologram variations.  The regular version has a silver hologram.

One nice feature about the TCDB site is the ability to track and sort your collection.  These 2 Pujols cards put me up to 827 different ones.  This is my 3rd different 2009 Upper Deck X Xponential card.  I have never heard of the 2008 Topps Opening Day Flapper insert.  The back has perforations that divide the card into 2 halves.

Most Topps Gold cards are numbered to the year they were produced.  This 2008 Opening Day Rolen gold is numbered to 2199.  Not for sure the logic behind that.  I would be shocked if Topps did not produce a Topps Now card of the Chris Coghlan's slide/leap over Yadier Molina in last night's game.  This 2011 Elite Skills insert captures Yadi in a similar pose getting ready to make a play.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Stickers!

When you associate the word stickers with baseball cards, you make get a dirty look.  The first thought that comes to a lot of collectors minds are autographs on a shiny looking Topps sticker.  I am with the majority that think on card autos are much better, but stickers do have their place in the hobby.  One of my latest trade packages was full of them.
 
Topps put out numerous sticker sets in the early 1980s.  These 3 are from 1982.  The Bruce Sutter has a different border because it is an All Star sticker.  If you look real close you can see the stickers are numbered on the lower left corner. 

I do not like the white border of the 1984 Topps Stickers as much as the 1982 blue border.  I guess the blue border goes better with the Cardinals baby blue uniforms. 

Panini put out a fair share of stickers in the late 80s and early 90s.  These are from 1990.  These are quite a bit smaller than the Topps Stickers.  I am not for sure why some have names on the front and others do not.

1992 Panini stickers are bigger than the 1990 version, but a lot uglier in my book.  I hate the shark bite edge on the left.  Give me four solid borders any day.


The package also included these Classic cards.  The green are from 1987, the red 1988.  Classic brand cards can be difficult to figure out what set they are from.  Classic I, Classic II, Classic Update, Classic Travel, and Classic Game cards all exist. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Indianapolis Indians Recap

Keeping up with my minor league baseball travels, my son and I made the 2.5 hour drive to Indianapolis on Saturday to watch the Pirates Triple A team the Indianapolis Indians.  It was a boys only trip because my daughter had a dance competition.  This is the fourth year in a row that we have attended an Indians game.  I always go on a team autograph night.  I have a very good friend from the Trading Bases group who is a big Pirates fan.  He does not have the chance to get any in person autos so I get to help him out while enjoying a game.

The entire team minus the starting pitcher and catcher are set up at tables along the concourse for 45 minutes.  There is a one auto limit, but some players will go ahead and sign 2 cards if their line is not very long.  Before I get to the autos, here are the tickets:

 Like the Springfield Cardinals tickets, the Indians tickets feature past and present players.  2016 Indian Tyler Glasow is on the left while current Indian Austin Meadows is on the right.  I found it strange that the ticket takers still tear off the stubs instead of scanning the bar code. 

After the gates opened, we had to wait 15 minuted before the players came out, so I grabbed a couple of pocket schedules.  Not sure who the cover boy is. 

The first 2500 people through the gates received this team poster.  I manged to have all 7 players sign it, while we kept my son's poster in our backpack.  One poster was clumsy enough to handle.  I used last week's Springfield Cardinals magnet giveaways to flatten the poster for the picture.  


Being a Cardinals collector who does not open very many packs, I had very few cards for players to sign, so I opted for the logo sheet.  I used photo corners to attach it to a piece of cardboard so my son could handle it very easily. 

2017 Topps cards look very nice signed in blue.  I had the Brault card, while the Pirates fan sent me a handful of cards he wanted signed. 

We were able to get through Diaz's line twice.  The first time he signed the top 2 cards and the poster.  He signed the second 2017 Topps and the logo sheet the second time.

By far the most popular player on the Indians is Austin Meadows.  He is a top 10 prospect over all of baseball.  I was somewhat surprised he was not called up early in the week when Starling Marte was suspended.  We went to his line first and waited about 10 minutes.  I did not figure we would have a chance to get him again, but a nice usher left us back in his line with about 5 minutes to spare.  I will say Meadows is one of the nicest players I have talked to.  He thanked us for coming, gave me some flack for wearing a Cardinals cap, and asked my son about his little league season.  He is struggling a bit to start the season, but I would guess he will be a second haft call up.  I wish nothing but the best for him unless he is playing the Cardinals.  

Overall we were able to get a total of 35 autographs in 45 minutes.  As for the game itself, it was short and sweet with the Yankees Triple A team winning 1-0 on a solo home run by Clint Frazier.  Good thing the game lasted about 2 hours and 20 minutes because it was cold.  Attendance was announced as close to 7,000, but I would guess there were maybe 3,000 people there. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

3 PWE trades

Continuing with the Trading Card Database trade recaps, I received 3 trades in PWEs in the last two weeks.  I hate to jinx myself, but I cannot recall receiving any damaged cards from a PWE package as long as the cards were in a top loader or card saver.  It also helps that the majority of them are marked non-machine. 

The Jose Fernandez tragedy last year was a painful reminder of Oscar Taveras.  This 2012 Topps Pro Debut shows him in his Quad City River Bandits uniform.  He hit .386 in 2011 to win the Midwest League batting crown that year. 

2017 cards have been out for a few months now, but I still need a ton of 2016 cards for my team sets.  The Stadium Club Carpenter brought me down to just 1 more for that set, while I think the Molina finished my Bowman Chrome vending box set.  Bowman Chrome was way too confusing last year.

I was shocked I did not have the base version of the 2013 Chasing History Musial.  I had the silver foil and gold foil versions instead.  The Lynn is a silver foil.

Topps does green very well with regards to cards.  The 2013 Emerald set is one of my favorites.  The Flaherty is a 2016 Bowman Chrome Green Refractor #ed to 99.  It looks a lot sharper in person.  It was tempting to have Flaherty sign it last week when I saw him in Springfield, but I doubt I will be able to track down another to replace it.

 Cardinals shortstops past and present are featured on these 2017 Topps 1987 Anniversary inserts.  I hope Diaz can have half the career Ozzie did.  It has been a long time since the Cardinals have had a quality shortstop.  Edgar Renteria had a decent run in the mid 2000s, but it has been a revolving door every year or two since then. 

Salute is a pretty bland insert from 2017 Topps.  I chose to highlight the player more than the card.  Brock was in the headlines earlier this week with the news he has a form of blood cancer.  Late last year he had part of his leg amputated because of a diabetic infection.  He appears to be slowing down now that he is pushing 80.  Get well soon LOU!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Getting Back to the Trade Posts

My mini vacation and the Easter weekend did not let me catch up on trade posts.  I have 6 or 7 stacks of cards to scan, file away, and write about.  All of them are from trades made on Trading Card Database.  Today's post has a strong Heritage flavor.

2004 Bowman Heritage is not the best looking set in my book.  The TV screen  does nothing for me.

  I like the clean look of 2005 Bowman Heritage a lot better. 

I forgot to scan a regular 2005 Topps Heritage back to compare to these white back variations.  These can be a set collector's nightmare to try to spot.  I would not be surprised to find one or two when I file these away in my team box.

My favorite Heritage card of the package is this 2017 card.  When I first saw the burlap design I was not that enthused, but these cards look great in hand.

There was about 15 of these 2004 Topps First Edition cards.  The Tomko is my favorite.  I like any photo that captures a ball right after it has been thrown or hit.

 I am not too crazy about all the buybacks Topps has been doing the past few years, but I am a fan of the 1987 set.  If I get bored I may try to make a 1987 buyback team set. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Springfield Cardinals Game #2

Our second game in Springfield on Friday night had perfect weather.  Sunshine and lower 70s for most of the game.  Gates opened at 6:10 with the same magnet schedule giveaway as the night before.  LMK if anyone out there needs one.  My wife thinks it would look tacky to put all 8 on our refrigerator.  Unlike the previous night, there were players at the gates to sign autographs as the fans entered.

I was glad to see Alcantara at the first gate.  Even though he did not pitch that great the night before, he is only 21 and has a ton of potential.  I usually would not have a Double A prospect sign a ROMLB, but my local sporting goods store had a sale a month ago on these for about $10 a ball. 


Jack Flaherty is another 21 year old starting pitcher ranked in the Cardinals top ten prospects.  He is 3-0 with and ERA under .50 right now.  Very nice kid who stayed after his 15 minute time frame to sign for another 20-30 people.  He does not throw as hard as Alcantara, but his command and secondary pitches are better.

Hawkins was the last player signing at the gates.  His line was very short compared to the other two.  I guess when you are a middle reliever that is the way it goes.

Our seats were along the first base line.  The rest of the guys signed before the game.  I will show these in the ordered they signed for my son and I.

Blake Drake has an outside chance to be a fourth outfielder because of his defense. 

Yes I even get cards signed by the hitting coach.  We are lacking about 6 or 7 cards from having this 2016 Peoria Chiefs team set signed.


Mercado was a shortstop until last year when he shifted to centerfield.  He made 3 great plays in the two games we saw.

 Mejia has been back and forth between Double and Triple A the last few years.  With Aledmys Diaz at short and a couple of better shortstop prospects in the lower minors, I doubt if he ever reaches St. Louis.

Herget is the closer for Springfield.  He is not your typical closer though. I doubt if he is 6 feet tall, and he does not throw in the high 90s.

Hudson was the 34th overall pick in the 2016 draft.  My guess is he will be a big league reliever by next year.

McKnight is slowly working his way up the minor league ladder as a middle reliever.  He throws in the low 90s with decent control.  My son remembered playing catch with him before a Peoria game 2 years ago.  Another nice kid who may not make it to the big leagues.

The game itself was pretty exciting.  The Cardinals were trailing 2-1 going into the bottom of the ninth until Jacob Wilson hit his second solo home run of the game.  Later in the inning the tying run was on second with 2 outs, but the batter struck out.  McKnight went out in the 10th for his third inning of work and gave up 5 runs.  Wilson did get up in the bottom of the tenth and hit a long home run that was just foul.  He did get a hit, but the Cardinals failed to score and lost 7-2. 

There were fireworks after the game that were somewhat better than the previous night.  After the lights went out, Wilson came out and signed autos for about 10 minutes.  He also gave away 2 bats that he broke during the game (neither was used for his home runs).
I asked him about his brand of bats and he told me he used a cheap store model to hit the home runs.  I had high hopes for him when he played in Peoria, but he is now 27 and still in Double A.  Maybe he can cut down on the strikeouts and become a Jed Gyorko type player. 






   

Monday, April 17, 2017

First Minor League Game of the Year

Being a baseball junkie,  I always try to work in a visit to the ballpark on any out of town trip or vacation my family takes.  It does not even have to be a Cardinals related team.  Any day at a major or minor league park is a good day in my book.  If you have read my past posts, you know I favor minor league games.

Back in late fall when the minor league schedules were released, I noticed my children's Easter break came during opening weekend for the Springfield Cardinals.  I have never been to any season opener, so my wife and I decided to take the kids out of school a day early to catch Thursday and Friday's games.  We arrived in Springfield around 3:00 in the afternoon.  First stop was the ticket office where I picked up our game tickets and couple of additional items.


The Cardinals ran an opening day ticket special last fall where you could buy 2 dugout seats and your choice of a 2016 promotional item for $27.  I bought 2 packages that included a Carlos Martinez and Stephen Piscotty bobbleheads.  The Martinez even has his Tsunami forearm tattoo.  I like the inclusion of each player's Double A stats on the box.

I like when different players are featured on tickets.  My son lost his that featured Matt Carpenter.  From top to bottom is Stephen Piscotty, Alex Reyes, and Carlos Martinez.  A quick check of the math shows I paid a $1 for each bobblehead.  Pretty good deal considering they sell for $15-20 plus shipping on EBAY.

The promo item for opening night was a 2017 magnet schedule.  I have seen better, but I have seen far worse.  At least it is big enough to read.

Always have to get a pocket schedule when I go to the park.

After the gates opened at 6:10, we headed for the team store.  My only purchase was the 2016 team set for $2.  We were able to watch the opening ceremony which was very similar to the one in St. Louis.  Each player rode in a truck from the center field wall to home plate, was introduced, and then took his place along the first base line for the national anthem. 
 
The game was not a very good one for a Cardinals fan.  #6 ranked prospect Sandy Alcantara started the game and had control problems.  While he did hit 101 on the radar gun, he gave up a first inning home run and 6 wild pitches in less than 5 innings.  The offense was also less than stellar only scoring 1 run on a solo home run by Cuban Jose Adolis Garcia.  The Cardinals lost the game 7 to 1.  The post game fireworks was also lacking.  There is a pyro plant in Springfield that sponsored the fireworks show.  It lasted maybe 5 or 6  minutes with a show that reminded me of my small county fair show.  I have seen much better fireworks in Peoria.
 
One of the more fun aspects of going to minor league games is getting autographs.  The Cardinals usually have 1 or 2 players at 3 different gates to sign autographs for 15 minutes after the gates open.  With opening ceremonies, none of the players were available.  There was also very little time after the ceremony for the players to warm up, so they did not sign before the game.  Since the team lost badly, most players left right after the final out.  Even if they wanted to stay, the lights went out pretty quickly for the fireworks show.  On the bright side, the weather was perfect and we had Friday's night game to look forward to.