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!
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.

Random Team: 1978 Topps Kansas City Royals

I shoulda known.

I did my first random team set, had fun doing it and I got positive comments to that first post.  I thought that, at worst, I was building on the “Five Random Cubs Cards” posts that Wrigley Wax does every Sunday (as well as other people’s randomly-based posts).

…Only to realize that what I did was not some great idea out of the blue, not an adaptation of a different idea, but instead was the same as something that Night Owl’s been doing for a couple of years.  Damn.

After some deliberation I decided that I needed to go where inspiration takes me, no matter how lacking in originality it might be.  So with credit and apologies to Night Owl, I’m going to keep doing these posts as long as I enjoy them and you read them.

Anyway, I fired up the randomizer again and came up with the Kansas City Royals from 1978 Topps.

This is very welcome to me, because 1978 was the 5th and final year of my initial “Topps can do no wrong!” phase where I completed every set within, at most, two years of starting it.

Sadly, there are no cartoons on the backs of 1978 Topps cards and there are no airbrushed Royals in this team set, so the “Best Cartoon” and “Notable Airbrushing” categories will get a rest time around.

The 1978 Royals finished in 1st with a 92-70 record, 5 games ahead of the Angels and Rangers.  They lost the ALCS to the Yankees in four.

Manager Whitey Herzog had taken over the Royals midway through the 1975 season and had had nothing but success with the team.  His prior two managerial jobs didn’t go as well.  He lost 91 of 138 games with the 1973 Rangers before being fired.  He went 2-2 as an interim manager for the 1974 Angels.

Whitey is in the HOF as a manager;  as an outfielder he kicked around with the Senators, KC Athletics, Orioles and Tigers for 8 seasons.  As is all-too-often the case with manager cards, this “old guy” from my youth was younger (46) than I am now.  *Sigh*

Best Offensive Player: 

Nope, not George Brett.  I’d almost forgotten how good Amos Otis could be.  He batted .298 with 74 Runs, 30 doubles, 22 homers, 96 RBI, and 32 Stolen Bases.

Best Pitcher: 

Dennis Leonard went 21-17 with a 3.33 ERA, 183 K’s, 20 complete games and 4 shutouts.  Just to pick a random current veteran pitcher, Justin Verlander has 23 complete games spread out over his 11 full seasons.

Best Performance In A Supporting Role: 

Larry Gura went16-4, 2.72 with a 1.096 WHIP.  Like Elston Howard in Monday’s post, Gura gets an extra brownie point for being with the Yankees during the short time I liked the Yankees.

Guy I can’t NOT mention (and, yeah, fine he also has the All-Star shield): 

George Brett lead the league with 45 doubles and batted .294, but Amos Otis’ overall numbers were better.

Best Name:

You’re welcome, 11-year-old boys of all ages.  Joe Zdeb came in a close second.

Something about this photo reminds me of George Harrison.  Pete LaCock doesn’t really look like George Harrison, but I think there’s something about his expression that reminds me of George.  I don’t know… it’s stupid but I mention it anyway.

Best Rookie Card: 

U.L. Washington can brag about how much his rookie card is worth, and maybe he’ll forget to mention that he shares it with two HOFers a HOFer, a player who probably should be in the HOF… AND the awesomely-named Mickey Klutts.

Best Player not on a card:
Pitcher Rich Gale’s rookie card would come in 1979 Topps.  As a 24-year-old in 1978 he went 14-8 with a 3.09 ERA and 3 shutouts.  He finished 4th in AL ROY voting (Lou Whitaker was the winner) and finished tied with Ken Singleton for 34th (!!!!) in AL MVP voting (Jim Rice was the winner;  Rick Burleson and Frank Tanana tied for 36th).

Best In-Game/Action Shot: 

I modified the name of this category because Darrell Porter’s not actually doing anything and the true action shots in this team set are kinda boring.  This is also the winner of the “Favorite Card” category.

Most Likely To Succeed (Down The Road):

Buck played for the Brewers in 1978 after being involved in an offseason 3-team trade.  He’d later manage the Blue Jays, and was also the manager of the USA team in the first World Baseball Classic.  He currently is a broadcaster for the Blue Jays.

Player I scanned and uploaded by mistake and, well, here he is:
I could’ve also listed him as “Best Aviators”.

Not that Al Cowens was a slouch;  he was second in 1977 MVP voting, and in 1978 he batted .274 with 63 runs and 63 RBI (not a typo).

1994 Capital Cards Miracle Mets Postcards, Part 5

Quick recap of what we’re looking at here… The cards in this post come from a 1994 box set of 32 postcards which commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 1969 “Miracle Mets”. The postcards feature paintings by Ron Lewis.

During his playing days, Eddie Yost was known as “The Walking Man” for his ability to draw walks.  During his 15 year career, he lead the league in walks 6 times, and his 1614 career BB’s currently ranks 11th all time.  To throw out a few names, he walked more than Stan Musial, Pete Rose, Harmon Killebrew, Chipper Jones, Lou Gehrig, Mike Schmidt and Willie Mays, and he did it in fewer games than any of them.
Yost was the third base coach for the Mets from 1968 to 1976.

Jack DiLauro was used mainly as a reliever and his 2.40 ERA and 1.068 WHIP was among the lowest on the team.  Despite this, he didn’t appear in the postseason, and was selected by the Astros in the Rule V draft after the season.
In his first career start, he shut the Dodgers out over 9 innings and gave up 2 hits… and got a no-decision as the Mets won 1-0 in 15 innings.  Dodgers pitcher Bill Singer also pitched nine 2-hit, no run innings.

Bud Harrelson was the Mets starting shortstop for a good many years, and in 1969 he mainly contributed with his exemplary fielding, although he had three RBI in the NLCS despite going 2-for-11.

Bud is currently co-owner and Sr. VP of Baseball Operations for the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League.

Jim McAndrew was used mainly as a starter and went 6-7, but he also had back-to-back shutouts in August and had three tough-luck no-decisions late in the season where he pitched 27 combined innings while allowing just 4 runs.
Like DiLauro, McAndrew did not get to pitch in the postseason.

Ron Swoboda is famous for the diving catch he made on Brooks Robinson in the 9th inning of Game 4 of the 1969 World Series.
He also batted .400 during the World Series and doubled in the game (and Series) winning run in Game 5.

Many of you might be familiar with middle infielder Al Weis as the disembodied head floating next to Pete Rose’s disembodied head on a valuable 1963 baseball card. In 1969 he batted .215 during the regular season, but went 5-for-11 during the World Series, including a game-tying homer in Game 5.

Weis had 7 career regular season home runs, but his World Series homer was the only one he ever hit at his home ballpark.

There’s one more post left in this series, I won’t let it sit for a month like I did with this post and the one before it.

Cheap, Misplaced Vintage

I spent all of this weekend’s “card time” organizing and creating yesterday’s customs, so this is going to be a short post.

While organizing, I ran across some cards which had been in the garage being aired out because they positively reeked of musty basement smell, and where I’d semi-forgotten them for over a year. I remember the card show I got these at, but I can’t remember picking them out and buying them… so I don’t remember what I paid, but I know they fell into the “I can’t pass these up” category so by extension they were cheap.

Elston Howard was the 1963 AL MVP, a 12-time All-Star and the first African-American to play for the Yankees.

I liked the Yankees for about three years when I was a kid, and Elston Howard was a Yankees coach during that time, so he’s one of the relatively small group of Yankees upon whom I look favorably. This is my first card of Elston Howard.

Richie Ashburn – or “ASHBUP”, thanks to a red magic marker – finished his 15 year career with 2 seasons with the Cubs and one season with the Mets.

Given that the 1962 Mets are almost legandary to this lifelong Mets fan, I’m not fazed by the idea of Richie Ashburn as a Met, but Richie Ashburn as a Cub looks tremendously odd to me.

They’re Here: The First Virtual Pack of 2017 TSR World Baseball Classic

I have to say, the World Baseball Classic has been fun so far, and I haven’t even been able to watch it on TV (minor rant about this down below).  At the time I’m writing this, there have been several fiercely fought extra-inning games, two different comebacks from five-run deficits, and Israel is 4-0.  Israel!

Since last fall I’ve been talking about doing a custom card set based on the WBC.  A reader poll voted 1980 Topps in as the design I’ll be using for this set.  I’ve taken this mandate seriously and tried to do what I can to make this set more interesting than a sort of “Topps Archives Lite”.  I even came up with a 1980-esque wrapper.

So let’s rip it open and see what we’ve got.

You’ve probably never heard of Yoshitomo Tsutsugo – I know I hadn’t – but he was named the MVP of Pool B after batting .364 with 2 homers in three games.

His “daytime” job is as an outfielder for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars in Japan’s Central League.  Tsutsugo had quite a year in 2016, batting .322 and leading the league with 44 homers and 110 RBI.

The Angels’ Andrelton Simmons hasn’t been lighting the WBC on fire, but he did hit a double.

More importantly, a good photo of him was available. For this set, that will play a bigger role than you might think.

As I’d mentioned, Team Israel is doing a good job of surprising people. The MVP of Pool A, in which Israel ran the table, was Ryan Lavarnway.

Like many of his teammates, Lavarnway is not on a 40-man roster. He’d signed a minor league contract with Oakland and has an invitation to big league camp. With Israel moving on to the second round, I think it’s safe to say that Lavarnway’s missing more time from A’s camp than anyone there had guessed. Lavarnway went 5-for-9 in the first round, walked four times, homered and drove in three runs during those three first-round games. His slash line was .556/.692/.889.

Speaking of Israel – this pack is admittedly heavy on Israel, but they’ve been my favorite team so far –  here’s an insert based on one of the other card design candidates in last fall’s voting. This custom is in the style of the 1976 Wonder Bread Football set, and shows the Israel team’s unofficial mascot, “The Mensch On A Bench”.

The Mensch is a take on the creepy “Elf On A Shelf”, was featured on the TV show Shark Tank, and has become the team mascot. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, “Mensch” is used to describe a good, honorable person, someone of integrity.

Going into the WBC, I didn’t really expect to make any customs for the Chinese team… but that was before I found out that Bruce Chen, former Orioles, Mets, Royals, Braves, Phillies, Red Sox, Rangers, Indians, Reds, Astros and Expos pitcher, was on the team! Bruce has been a favorite since his bad jokes were featured on the scoreboard during his time in Baltimore. Q: What do you call a deer with no eyes? A: No-eye deer. (This joke works better when said out loud)

Bruce gets the honor of being part of one of my “innovations” in this custom set; he ges a horizontal player card! Woooo!

It didn’t affect the play of the game to any great degree, but one of the interesting moments in a first-round game came when 6’8″ Israel batter Nate Freiman (who played for the A’s several years ago) faced off against 7’1″ Netherlands pitcher Loek van Mil (who’s played in AAA the past few seasons).

It’s believed to be the tallest face-off in professional baseball history. Despite Freiman’s large strike zone, he drew a base on balls.

Australia didn’t accomplish as much as they would’ve liked to this time around, but I had to create a custom to show their nice unis paired with the natural fit of the Oakland A’s colors from 1980.

Travis Blackley is a reliever who has pitched for the Giants, A’s, Rangers and Astros.

The Mariner’s Nelson Cruz has batted .333 with a homer thus far…

…but he’s here because of the aforementioned “good photo” rule.

Chris Archer pitched 4 shutout innings against Colombia on Friday, but did not get the win.

The US team is currently 1-1 and would greatly improve their chances of advancing by beating Canada tonight.

Former Oriole and current Mariner Yovani Gallardo gave up four runs in four innings, but I wanted to get a card of a familiar Mexican player.

Here’s another card new to the set. 1980 Topps didn’t have a postseason subset, so I had to create one.

This is loosely based on the League Leader cards from that set.

That’s all the cards in this pack… Let’s see what the offer is on the wax pack wrapper…

That looks pretty cool, but I don’t have the money… Maybe after I get my allowance.

OK, up at the top I promised a minor rant.

I’ve been looking forward to the WBC for a while now, although I didn’t plan on watching entire games. I figured I’d watch a few innings here and there, maybe check in when I heard about a game that seemed exciting. That’s pretty much what I did during the last WBC in 2013.

But I forgot about one thing… back in 2013 the MLB Network was part of my cable tier. That’s no longer the case; it got taken away from us, and we didn’t watch it enough to shell out the money for the higher tier of channels.

I’d assumed that some of the games might be on another cable channel, but that’s not the case.  I found out that it’s also on ESPN Deportes, and I can deal with the announcers speaking Spanish…

…But nope, I don’t get ESPN Deportes either.

OK, then what about MLB.TV?  During the regular season they always have free low-demand games along the lines of Minnesota vs. Tampa Bay.  A first round game airing early on a weekday morning isn’t exactly “Must See TV”, they should have free games like that, right?

Nope, struck out again. Well, poo.

I honestly don’t get this. The organizers (i.e. MLB) have said that the World Baseball Classic doesn’t get the attention in the U.S. that they would like it to get, but the cheapest option to watch ANY of it is $25 for a month of MLB.TV.  No, thank you. I’ll stick with listening to the occasional game on satellite radio, and reading about the games afterwards.

End of rant.

By the way, I expect to have more virtual packs of WBC cards coming the next two Sundays.