About The Shlabotnik Report

I've been collecting baseball cards since 1974, and I'm on a quest to rediscover the collection hidden within my accumulation.

And Another One Gone And Another One Gone…

The Las Vegas Raiders.

*Siiiiiiiiiigh.*

It’s not like I’m a fan of the Raiders or have even been to Oakland, but…

*Siiiiiiiiiigh.*

I do understand that there are other factors involved than just uprooting a team.  I realize that o.co Coliseum is among the worst stadiums in the country, that the team’s attendance figures are down at the bottom of the league (although not exactly “drawing flies” at 50,000+ per game) and that the Raiders had left Oakland before.

But to be honest, if it were just the Las Vegas Raiders, I wouldn’t be all that upset about it… but it’s the Las Vegas Raiders on top of the Los Angeles Chargers on top of the Los Angeles Rams.

It’s about Los Angeles having the Rams and the Chargers when it’s debatable how much they really want either.  It’s about the Chargers paying more for a relocation fee than they seemed willing to contribute to a stadium in San Diego.

It’s about having this kind of relocation going on when the league is far from struggling.  We’re not talking 1970’s hockey or basketball where some teams were not meeting payroll.

It’s about a league where decisions are based on how many hundreds of millions, how many billions of dollars are involved.

It’s about a league where you know that, before terribly long, teams like the Jaguars and Bills will threaten to move to St. Louis or San Diego.

Maybe I’ll feel different about it next fall, but right now being a fan of the NFL feels a lot like being a fan of Amazon or Google… Just another huge corporation bent on world domination.

*Siiiiiiiiiigh.*

Contrast And Compare: Greg Gross And Manny Trillo From 1979 Topps / Burger King

During the late 1970’s, I was a baseball card snob who looked down upon anything that didn’t come in wax, cello or rack packs. What a fool I was. :-)

The Burger King sets from 1977 to 1980 acted as “traded sets” for at least a few teams, and now I’m trying to make up for lost time by tracking down these cards. Today I’ve got two more examples.

The Cubs and Phillies made an eight-player trade in late February, 1979; this trade was well past any deadlines in effect for the Topps set, but two of the Philly-bound players made it into the Burger King Phillies set.

In this trade, the Phillies sent Ted Sizemore, Barry Foote, Jerry Martin and two other players to the Cubs for Dave Rader…

…Greg Gross…

…and infielder Manny Trillo…

In 1979 there were only Burger King sets for the Yankees and Phillies, so the guys going to Chicago didn’t appear on cardboard in a Cubs uniform until 1980 (if at all). Dave Rader, who would play only 31 games with the Phillies uniform, also didn’t get the BK treatment.

But there were Burger King cards for Manny Trillo and Greg Gross.

Greg Gross would play 10 years for the Phillies as a pinch hitter and backup outfielder. Gross is the Phillies pinch hit king and 5th all-time in the Majors with 143 pinch hits. He won a World Series with the Phillies in 1980 and finished 2nd in 1974 N.L. Rookie Of The Year voting, behind Bake McBride and ahead of Bill Madlock.

Interestingly enough, Manny Trillo got airbrushed in this set, even though he was acquired in the same trade as Greg Gross.

Trillo was originally signed by the Phils, went to the A’s in the Rule V draft and was traded to the Cubs in the Billy Williams deal.

In his four years with the Phillies, Trillo won 3 Gold Gloves, 2 Silver Sluggers and was an All-Star twice, in addition to being named the MVP of the 1980 NLCS.

Does anybody out there have a Manny Trillo collection going? He strikes me as a fun guy to collect… He was good enough to make a number of oddball sets, but well-traveled enough (38 games with the A’s, 17 games with the Reds, 31 games with the Expos and 88 with the Indians) to make for plenty of… variety, for lack of a better word. After a fairly quick search, I could only find one card which showed him with the A’s (1974 Topps Rookie Shortstops), two cards which showed him with the Reds (1989 Bowman and 1989 Topps Big Baseball) and a handful of cards which show him in Expos and Indians uniforms.

The Final* Pack Of 2017 World Baseball Classic Customs

Well, another World Baseball Classic has come and gone, and even though I didn’t get to watch any of the games, I did follow it all the way through and it’s a bit of an adjustment to go back to laid-back Spring Training games. When does the regular season start? Another WEEK? Geeeeeez….

OK, well let’s rip into the final* pack of custom WBC cards, and I’ll explain the asterisk in a bit.

Martin Prado splilt time between third and left for Venezuela, and while he didn’t appear in every game, this shot of him after going into the stands guaranteed his spot in this virtual set.

Buster Posey split time with Jonathan Lucroy, but Buster still tied for the team lead with 2 homers (Adam Jones also hit two).

Kenley Jansen didn’t join the team until the championship rounds, and only pitched one inning, but he did strike out two batters…

…And he’s Kenley Jansen, so I felt the need to get him in here.

Francisco Lindor batted .370 with 7 runs and 4 RBI.

…And he was very excited throughout the whole tournament. Pretty much every picture had him looking like this.

Korea surprisingly didn’t get out of the first round, so we didn’t get to see a whole lot of the Cardinals’ Seung-Hwan Oh.

He did get make two appearances, and over 3.1 scoreless innings he struck out 6 and was the only Korean pitcher to get a win.

Norichika Aoki batted .379 and had 3 doubles.

When it comes to international competition, I don’t take it all that seriously in terms of proving that my country (the United States) is superior to all others. While I was rooting for the USA and was happy they won, I also was kind of bummed that Japan and some other countries didn’t. No, it doesn’t completely make sense, but I am a complex human being… or something like that.

Canada is another country I was rooting for. I was disappointed that they didn’t get out of the first round, but they just weren’t as good as other teams.

Justin Morneau had a rough series, going 0-for-11, but he makes for a nice custom.

There were other Dominican players who deserved a custom more than Jose Reyes, but I like Jose and it’s my set. Nyah.

I’ll remind you that there’s also that asterisk that’s been hanging over this post…

If there were an award for “Player who helped his own cause the most by playing in the WBC”, Josh Zeid might have walked away with it. He was unemployed going into the WBC, but is now a non-roster guy with the Cardinals.

He did this by pitching 10 scoreless innings with 10 K’s across 4 appearances, going 1-0 with 2 saves and a 1.10 WHIP. Zeid pitched for the Astros in 2013 and 2014, and has pitched in the minors the past two seasons.

When I started this set, I intended to leverage the different types of 1980 Topps cards as much as I could, with the intent of making this different from just a sort of “Topps Archives” custom set. Late in the process, I realized there was one type of card in 80T that I hadn’t considered using… and I whipped up a quick version of it to use as the Champions card. Let’s see if you can figure out what this design was in a former life.

OK, so what’s with the asterisk? Well, I originally didn’t see much point in going on terribly long with WBC cards, but I have been happy with they way they’ve turned out, I did make a bunch more customs than I’ve posted, and there are a number of big-named players who haven’t appeared in custom form, so……….. While this is the last pack of WBC customs, it’s not the last you’ll see of them. At least one of these will show up in next Sunday’s post, and at this point I have no idea what next Sunday’s post will be. In an ideal world, I’ll finish my 2017 TSR design and we’ll be busting our first pack of that on Opening Day… but I will admit that I’m scrambling to get that done, and it may not “go live” until the following Sunday. Stay tuned!

Forgotten Franchises: The WHA’s Philadelphia/Vancouver Blazers

The Philadelphia Blazers were one of the 12 teams which played in the WHA’s first season… but was not, technically, an original franchise.

That’s because the original plan was to have a team in south Florida called the Miami Screaming Eagles, but due to arena and money issues, that team never took the ice. Instead, the franchise was transferred to Philadelphia to compete for fans with the then-6-year-old Flyers team.

While the franchise was still in Miami, they signed two prominent NHL players; goalie Bernie Parent…

…And center Derek Sanderson.

Both Sanderson and the Blazers realized a mistake had been made, and after 8 games, the Blazers paid Sanderson off to void his contract.  Sanderson went back to the Boston Bruins.

Bernie Parent, meanwhile, had a contract dispute one game into the playoffs and would declared himself a free agent.  The Blazers would trade his WHA rights to the New York Golden Blades, while his NHL rights belonged to the Maple Leafs, the team he left when he jumped to the WHA.   Parent said that he’d only jump back to the NHL if he could play in Philly, so the Leafs traded his rights to the Flyers and he signed for less money than he could’ve gotten from the Golden Blades.

Getting back to the Blazers… In 1972/73, the team went 38-40-0, finished third in the East Division and got swept in the first round by the Cleveland Crusaders.

After that inaugural season, the team was sold to a new owner who moved the team to Vancouver; On the plus side, the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks were even less established than the Flyers, having been in place since the 1970-71 season. Unfortunately for the Blazers, they would share an arena with their NHL counterpart.

In order to compete with the Canucks, the Blazers owner tried – and failed – to lure Phil Esposito away from the Bruins.

Without Espo, the Vancouver Blazers finished 5th in West Division with a 27-50-1 record and did not make the playoffs.

In the third season, the Blazers again missed the playoffs by finishing 4th in the new Canadian Division with a 37-39-2 record. After two seasons in Vancouver, the team moved to Alberta and become the Calgary Cowboys. Two years after that, the franchise folded.

Other notable Blazers included Butch Deadmarsh, Andre Lacroix, who lead the league in points that first year before being traded, and most surprisingly to me, Hockey Hall-of-famer and Hart Trophy winner Andy Bathgate. Bathgate coached the team during part of the 1973/74 season, and would briefly come out of retirement at age 42 and play 11 games for the Vancouver Blazers in 1974/75

More Assorted Vintage Because I’ve Time For Little Else

All of these came from the last show I went to… or maybe the show before that. Does it really matter? Nope, not really.

I got this Hal Lanier because I spent a short time using the All-Star Rookie trophy as an excuse to buy vintage cards.  I’ve backed off on that goal just because I had far to many goals in 2016.

In 1964, Lanier batted .274 with 40 runs scored and 16 doubles in 98 games… Not too shabby for a 2nd baseman back when offense was more or less icing on the middle infielder cake.  I think of Hal Lanier as a manager first (Astros in the late ’80’s) and as a Yankee second, even though he only played 95 games in pinstripes… but the beloved 1974 set – my first – shows Lanier with the Yankees, so end of story.

Reasons for buying this next card:  1)  I like it, 2)  it was cheap, 3) I enjoy saying “Rico Petrocelli”.

Rico hit 2 homers in game 6 of the 1967 World Series, and batted .308 in the 1975 World Series.

This Dick Howser card was also fairly cheap, and I can’t resist cheap 1963 Fleer.  I’ve only got 8 of them, but someday when I’m looking for a new vintage challenge, I may go after this abbreviated 66 card set.  Maybe.

Dick Howser is another guy I think of as a manager and a Yankee…  He managed the Royals in the 1980’s and was a Yankees coach during my formative years.  Howser died tragically from a brain tumor in 1987.  He was 51 when he passed, which I’ve always viewed as sad and tragic, but it’s admittedly even more sad and tragic to me now that I’m 51.

Established after his passing, the Dick Howser Trophy is awarded annually to the collegiate player of the year.  Somewhat-recent winners have included David Price, Buster Posey, Stephen Strasburg and Kris Bryant.

A Compulsive Fool And Three Packs Of 2017 Opening Day

Well, “Compulsive Fool” might be a little harsh.  I like bits of Opening Day, just not enough to justify going into a nearby Target for three straight days looking for packs.

But there I was…. and I found some packs on Friday.  Given that they’re a buck a pack, I bought three.  I’m not sure I will buy more, but I’m not sure I won’t.

So anyway, it’s the same deal it’s been for a while.  The base set is largely a parallel of the flagship set, but it’s the inserts and the base cards which differ from flagship which interest me.

I’ll tell you up front that, much to my disappointment, I didn’t get any mascot inserts.  Those are among my favorite Opening Day inserts, and I rarely get mascots… and I NEVER get Mr. Met.

So we’ll start off the festivities with a Matt Kemp card (Update:  I had said that this card was photoshopped, but I was reminded in the comments that he was traded last July in a deadline deal.)

I like the way they incorporated the Opening Day logo into the design…

…but not so much on the horizontal cards.

Hanley Ramirez is another player who’s in Series 2; I’m guessing the card will look like this one.

In the first pack, I got a Jose Altuve Opening Day Stars insert.

Not a bad card, but I long for the day when the “Opening Day Stars” inserts were 3-D.

Adam Eaton Superstar Celebrations… You can just barely see Eaton in the mob.

Here’s a fairly interesting card….

Not only is Cameron Maybin photoshopped into an Angels uni… it’s a different photo than the Series 1 Maybin card. Most excellent.

Second pack… Another photoshop!  Adam Eaton (again!) with the Nationals…

And once again, a different photo.

Here we have an “Incredible Eats” insert, a foot-long hot dog from Coors Field.

Um, yeah. Can’t say I “get” this insert set. I can’t even get interested in watching cooking shows, I’m certainly not going to chase down cards of food.

Moving on to the third pack, we’ve got another Superstar Celebrations!
di
OK, I know which one is Giancarlo Stanton… but do I want to know what’s going on here?

So those are the highlights of my three packs. Yay.

…But I was at least happy to pull a few photoshop jobs, so I got some value for my $3.

I’ll wrap up with a list that someone will hopefully find useful… I bumped the Opening Day checklist against the Series 1 checklist and made a list of players who are listed with different teams in the two sets, plus those players who aren’t in Series 1 but have changed teams over the winter, indicating that the Opening Day cards might be different from the flagship equivalent:

# name team note
2 Reynaldo Lopez Chicago White Sox Diff. team from S1
7 Drew Smyly Seattle Mariners Diff. team from S1
22 Lucas Giolito Chicago White Sox Probably photoshopped
25 Adam Eaton Washington Nationals Different Photo and photoshopped
29 Wilson Ramos Tampa Bay Rays Diff. team from S1
46 Kendrys Morales Toronto Blue Jays Diff. team from S1
74 Yoan Moncada Chicago White Sox Diff. team from S1
81 Jean Segura Seattle Mariners Diff. team from S1
116 Chris Sale Boston Red Sox Diff. team from S1
119 Cameron Maybin Angels Different Photo and photoshopped
161 Brian McCann Houston Astros Diff. team from S1
173 Edwin Encarnacion Cleveland Indians Diff. team from S1

 

 

Another Pack Of 2017 TSR World Baseball Classic Cards

Well, we’re heading into the semi-finals of the World Baseball Classic. For those who missed it, the USA beat the Dominican Republic last night in a game which determined who goes on to the semis and who goes home. The Dominicans are the defending champions and played a great tournament, so it’s a shame that both teams couldn’t move on… but that’s why they play the games, right?

The finals play out starting tomorrow night in Dodger Stadium when the Netherlands face off against Puerto Rico in the first semi-final. Tuesday night it’s Japan vs. the USA, and Wednesday night the winners of those games play for the championship.

…and then, much to the relief of a lot of people, everybody heads back to their regular teams.

So let’s rip open our pack. This is the second of what I plan on being three packs, with the third coming next Sunday.

It’s been a busy week for me, and I didn’t get to see any of the games, but I certainly saw the highlight of Adam Jones robbing a homer from his teammate Manny Machado.

Here’s a video (Lo siento, the clip is en Español)

Nobuhiro Matsuda has had a good Classic so far; he’s batting .400 with a three-run homer against Cuba, 8 runs scored and 7 RBI.

After the Classic, he goes back to playing for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in the Pacific League.

Felix Hernandez allowed just one earned run in 7.2 innings, but he went 0-1 in two starts.

Venezuela made it out of the first round on a controversial tiebreaker, and then went 0-3 in the second round.

Yadier Molina has played well for Puerto Rico, both offensively and in terms of handling the pitching staff.

…as if that’s a surprise.

Xander Bogaerts has played well, but hasn’t exactly been one of the stars for The Netherlands… but I liked the photo.

Goodness knows I make enough mistakes as it is, so I feel the need to point out that the custom is correct; Bogaerts is playing third base for the Netherlands, as Andrelton Simmons is playing short.

Insert time!

This is based on 1976 Hostess, and although it didn’t win the poll on which design to use for the WBC set, it finished 4th in tightly-contested voting.

I don’t normally get all gushy over star-spangled clothing or equipment, but I really like Jonathan Lucroy’s chest protector.

Robinson Cano hasn’t scored or driven in a lot, but he’s been getting on base an awful lot.

Canada didn’t make it out of the first round, and Freddie Freeman got only 2 hits in 3 games… but hey! Horizontal card!

This is where I would normally be saying that I’ll be sure to watch the semis and the finals, but as I mentioned last time… I don’t get MLB Network or ESPN Deportes, and I don’t have MLB.TV.

I’ll be watching a different international event this week, one that is carried by channels on my middle-tier cable package… The World Women’s Curling Championship, live from Beijing, China. Round-robin play goes through Thursday, with the medal games next weekend. Nina Roth’s team is representing the USA.

This custom is based on the 1976 Wonder Bread Football set, and I’ve decided that I’m going to use this and the Hostess design as an all-purpose custom throughout the year.