The Latest Stop On The Kelly Johnson World Domination Tour

Before the season ends, I want to pay tribute to the happy wanderings of Mr. Kelly Andrew Johnson, who began his Major League career as an Atlanta Braves outfielder, then their starting second baseman, and has recently been playing anywhere for anyone.

Kelly Johnson was drafted by the Braves in 2000 and made his debut as an outfielder in 2005.  He missed most of 2006 and came back as a 2nd baseman in 2007.
2009 Topps Kelly Johnson

In December, 2009, he signed with the Diamondbacks as a free agent.
2011 Topps Kelly Johnson

In August, 2011 (his “walk year”), he was traded to the Blue Jays for for Aaron Hill and John McDonald. (This is where the fun starts)
2012Topps Kelly Johnson
He became a free agent but re-signed with the Jays.

After the 2012 season, he became a free agent again, this time signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.
2013 Topps Kelly Johnson

After one season in Tampa, he became a free agent again, and signed with the Yankees.
2014 Topps Kelly Johnson

At the 2014 trading deadline, he was traded to the Red Sox for Stephen Drew.
2014 Topps Update Kelly Johnson

One month later, Kelly Johnson and Michael Almanzar were traded to the Orioles for Ivan DeJesus and Jemile Weeks. (This card is a custom, BTW).
2014 Schmeritage Kelly Johnson

When he got traded to the Orioles, he completed the cycle by playing for all five AL East teams.

Over this past offseason, he went back to the Braves, and I held off on this post until after I got my 2015 Topps factory set, thinking that Kelly Johnson would be on one of the 700 cards — but I was mistaken.  We’ve got to wait for Topps Update or Heritage High Numbers to get Kelly Johnson on a 2015 card, so I’m going to repeat the 2009 card to stand in for a 2015 Braves card.
2009 Topps Kelly Johnson

In July the Braves traded Kelly and Juan Uribe to the Mets for two minor league pitchers.
2015 TSR #307 - Kelly Johnson

Just to recap, that’s 8 teams over the past 5 seasons, including all of the teams in the AL East and two out of five in the NL East.  So far this season, he’s played at first, second, third, short, left field, right field and DH (although only one game each as a shortstop and DH).

Just for fun, here’s another custom I’m “reprinting” from last year featuring Kelly Johnson and Kelli Johnson of Comcast SportsNet.
2014 TSR PP-3 Kelly Kelli Johnson
Kelli Johnson’s also been on the move;  this past winter she moved from Comcast SportsNet Houston to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.  Before that, she was with Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic.

Two Small Things That Warmed My Nerdy Little Heart Today

I keep my recent cards in binders organized by current rosters, and I just got finished updating some player’s rows with recently acquired cards.  Two in particular made me smile…

The first smile came when I put this card into the appropriate Blue Jays page in my AL East binder…
2013 Topps Erik Kratz_0001
…Erik Kratz was traded to Toronto in December…

It made me smile partially because I got to replace a hand-written placeholder with an actual card, but even more so when I turned the card over and saw this guy’s career:
2013 Topps Erik Kratz_0002
I like to see a guy who’s been around the block a few times get a baseball card… Yes, Kratz was on a Bowman Prospects card a few years ago, but it’s not the same.

The second smile came when updated the Jerome Williams row in my AL West Binder (he signed with the Astros as a free agent).
Jerome Williams row from AL West binder
Before I put this 2013 card into the far left slot, the entire row was occupied with 2005 cards… The 2013 Topps card ended up bumping a 2005 Heritage card out of the far right slot. I love it when a long-dormant row gets new life. Jerome Williams was a hot pitching prospect who ran into problems and ended up playing in the minors and overseas for a number of years, so he was absent from the “card scene” for a while. He did have a couple of cards in between, but I don’t own those cards.

By the way, at least two of the cards he had in between were Upper Deck cards… The fact that they would give cards to guys like Jerome Williams is one of the few things I miss about UD.

I thought it was also worth mentioning that Williams is from Honolulu and describes him as Hawai’ian-Chinese-Portuguese-Spanish-Japanese-Norweigan-African-Filipino-American.

Heartbreaker, Your Time Has Come, Can’t Take Your Evil Ways! Go Away, Heartbreaker…

Duh duh duh duh-nuh-nuh




…So, I’m not too happy with this guy:

2005 Topps Pristine Brian Roberts

My wife has been a dedicated Orioles fan since 1983. During that time, she’s had two favorite players: Cal Ripken and…

2001 Leaf Limited Brian Roberts

She’s been a fan of Brian’s pretty much since he came up;  she still hates Jerry Hairston because back then he was the guy who stood between Brian and a starting job.

She stuck with him through concussions and injuries.  She stuck with him though steroid allegations.  She’s gone through numerous black and orange t-shirts with “ROBERTS 1” on the back.

We entered this offseason knowing that Brian could be gone, but hoping that he’d sign some incentive-laden contract with the Orioles.

I always figured that if he did leave, he’d end up with some team who might benefit from an upgrade and have little to lose… Maybe the Twins or Cubs?

2006 Topps Finest Brian Roberts

But when I saw that negotiations were happening with the Yankees, I said — Well, I try to keep this blog family friendly, so I won’t share what I said.

I wasn’t there when my wife found out, but she told me that she let out a very loud gasp of disbelief.

I mean, it’s one thing to leave Baltimore…

It’s another thing to go to the – pause while I spit on the ground – YANKEES…

It’s even worse to know that, according to some sources, he didn’t even give the Orioles a chance to match the relatively modest contract.

I dunno, maybe this was an unspoken mutual parting.  Maybe the Orioles pulled him aside, wished him well and made it clear that he shouldn’t let the front door hit him on the backside.

All I know is that my wife is very upset and sad… “Heartbroken” may be too strong a word, but I haven’t ruled it out.  Last night I gave her some 2013 Topps Series 2 wax packs to open (because she likes busting some wax now and then) and she pulled this card:

2013 Topps Brian Roberts

Before this happened, she would’ve let out an exuberant yell after pulling a Brian, even if it was a base card;  last night she just looked really dejected and said “It’s not even a good picture of him”.

…and it’s not.  Do we want to know what Bryce Harper is doing to Brian here?

I know baseball is a business.  I know players have to do what’s best for them.

…But come on, dude.  The freakin’ Yankees?

…And it’s not even like you can say he did it for the money.  $2 Million plus incentives?  That’s not “doing it for the money”.

I hope he ends up with a uniform number like 43.

I hope that, if he “has always dreamed of turning two with Jeter”, the two of them are never healthy at the same time.

I hope he realizes that if things go badly, he’s going to hear it from the fans and get mocked on the back page of the NY Post and Daily News.

I hope that the Yankees continue to get old and end up in last place looking up at the first place Orioles.  Yeah, yeah, this is my hope every year, but more so this year.  This year…. it’s personal.


Tiny, Little Thoughts From My Tiny, Little Brain

The last couple of weeks have been really busy for me, at least from a cardboard (and virtual cardboard) standpoint.  I’ve been so busy with COMC, custom cards and other things that I’ve been relying on my backlog of finished drafts to keep The Shlabotnik Report on a daily basis.  I’ve gone through most of my finished drafts, so today you get a number of scattered thoughts posing as a cohesive post…

Yesterday I bought a Topps Update blaster from Toys R Us, assuming that it would be priced similarly to the same blaster at Target. WRONG-O!  $26 + tax for 80 cards plus a manupatch. I should’ve been suspicious of the fact that the blaster box didn’t have a price printed on it.  I’m thinking it’s going to be a return, unless someone call tell me some amazing reason for keeping the blaster…. The manupatch doesn’t count, it would just get added to my “Going to COMC” box.

Former Dodgers/Cubs/Jays/A’s/Yankees/Expos pitcher Ted Lilly retired, and I’m a little bummed… Not because I’m a fan, but whenever I’d hear him mentioned, in my mind I’d sing “A song of love is a sad song… Ted Lilly, Ted Lilly, Ted Lo…”
2013 Topps Ted Lilly
…and yes, most of you wouldn’t get a reference to “Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo”, but I’ve never shied away from making arcane references before, I’m not stopping now.

Ted Lilly’s full name is Theodore Roosevelt Lilly.  Topps needs to go back to putting full names on the backs of cards.

If it’s your misfortune to ever listen to the Yankees on the radio, you may be happy to know that you’ll never again have to hear John Sterling say “The Grandyman can” or “Robbie Cano, don’tcha know”.  I realize they’ll be replaced by some equally inane catchphrases for the new Yankees, but let’s not go there just yet.

Does anybody else find this amusing?  Phoenix has had two major hockey teams over the years — the Coyotes and the Roadrunners (WHA).

I found myself staring at this recent page from my Baseball HOF calendar:
Baseball HOF Calendar 11-26-2013
While absentmindedly staring at this image, several thoughts ran though my head…

  • That is one odd-lo0king glove… Was this state-of-the-art for 1958?  What’s with that “6th finger” where the webbing normally is?
  • I never thought about the fact that the award would change as gloves change through the years, but they clearly have changed at least once.
  • Do lefties get a different Gold Glove Award?   (Probably not, sorry lefties).
  • Did they really have a figure of a batter on a fielding award?

For all his acclaim, I find pianist Glenn Gould’s music to be technically proficient but severely lacking in emotional depth.

I’ve only seen two episodes, but so far “Almost Human” is a surprisingly good show.

OK, that pretty much covers me. Does anybody have anything they’d like to get off their chest?

Update #1 – I somehow turned off the comments on this post… Sorry about that.  I think we’re good now.

Update #2 – During the process of trying to figure out how to turn the comments back on, I realized that this is post #700.  Woohoo!

Carlos, Fritz And The Box

…Not the name of an band or a film that played at Cannes, just three unrelated ideas that aren’t quite enough for their own post.

I went into this latest round of playoff with clear rooting interests (Cards & Tigers) but no real passion behind it.

Then I heard someone mention something about Carlos Beltran that I’d never realized…

1999 Upper Deck SP Top Prospects Carlos Beltran

This is Beltran’s 4th time in the NLCS – the previous times were 2004 with Houston, 2006 with the Mets, and last year with the Cards – but he’s never made it to the World Series.  That’s a shame because he’s such a good player in general, and has outstanding postseason numbers… In 42 postseason games, he’s batting .333 with 16 HR and 34 RBI.

I always liked Beltran in his 6.5 years with the Mets, and never blamed him for any team failures. So I’ve decided I’m not rooting for the Tigers or Cardinals… I’m rooting for Carlos!  Do it for Beltran!

Moving right along…

A couple of weeks ago I shared this recently-acquired 1969 Fritz Peterson card:
1969 Topps Fritz Peterson

It wasn’t until I was removing the card from my want list and putting it in a binder that I noticed the cartoon on the back:
1969 Topps Fritz Peterson Back

I’ve got a thing for baseball players who also played hockey, so this caught my attention.  “A top hockey player at Chicago”?  What does that mean?

It took a fair amount of Googling to find out what the cartoon was referring to, but I eventually found a reference to his playing semi-pro hockey in Chicago. OK, well, that’s less interesting than the cartoon made it sound.

The more interesting hockey fact I found out was that back in 1972/73, Fritz did color commentary on radio broadcasts of the New York Raiders of the World Hockey Association.  If you’ve never heard of the Raiders, that’s because they only lasted the one season under that name, changed its name to the Golden Blades and ended up leaving New York just 20 games into that second season.  While it would seem like a given that any wanna-be major professional league would have a team in New York, it seems that nobody in New York wanted anything to do with the WHA.

I wasn’t sure if there’d be any hockey cards which featured either the Raiders or Golden Blades, but I found an image of a 1973/74 Quaker Oats WHA card:

1973-74 Quaker Oats WHA Wayne Rivers

For what it’s worth, there’s currently a professional rugby team called the New York Raiders.

…and I didn’t even know there was professional rugby in the U.S.

And finally…

This past weekend I had the somewhat rare opportunity to attend a show, and my biggest purchase was this:
2013 Topps Series 2 Hobby Box

This is the first wax box I’ve bought in 10 years. Usually by the time I get the opportunity to buy a box, I’d already bought enough packs and blasters to make it somewhat pointless to make a major purchase.

This summer I’d gotten so caught up in organizing and blogging that I’ve bought relatively few packs, and I figured that instead of trying to play catch-up with retail blasters, I’d take a different approach.

I gave some thought to buying a hand-collated Series 2 set when I realized – Well crap, nobody makes hand-collated sets anymore.

Wax packs are more fun anyway… and I got this hobby box for… um… $32?  $33?  Something like that.

There were other things of interest I got at the show, but I’ll save that stuff for another time.

…and why is it that, whenever I have a couple of “small” ideas that I combine to make one post, they always grow when I write them out?

Because That’s The Way These Things Go

I’ve had 5 packs of 2013 Topps Series 2 sitting around for a couple of weeks, and last night I got around to opening them… Well, actually my wife opened them. Mrs. Shlabotnik doesn’t collect, but she loves baseball and she enjoys opening packs and looking through the cards, especially when there’s a chance of pulling Brian Roberts, her favorite player.

So, did she pull any Brians? Nope.

Did she, in 5 packs, pull anybody at all from her favorite team, the Orioles? Nope.

But she did pull three inserts from my team!

2013 Topps Making Their Mark Ike Davis

2013 Topps Chasing History David Wright

2013 Topps Cut To The Chase Tom Seaver

A pretty good haul for 5 packs. Maybe the powers that be were making it up to me for the fact that, as we were opening these packs, the Mets were being no-hit through 6 innings and would eventually lose a 1-hitter by the score of 9-0. Oh, and they were mathematically eliminated from the NL East division title.

…and although he didn’t participate in the Nationals’ drubbing of the Mets, I also got this Steve Lombardozzi card which got me cautiously excited…
2013 Topps Green Sparkly Steve Lombardozzi
I wasn’t sure if a celebration card like this always meant short printed variation… And a sparkly green short print variation? Maybe I could get a couple of bucks for it on COMC?

Ah, but it’s not a variation, it’s just the regular Lombo card’s green parallel. It’s still going to COMC, I just won’t be financing any 1972 high-numbers with it.

The MASN reporter with the microphone is Kristina Akra, who’s now with the MLB Network.  If you do an Image Google on “Kristina Akra Lombardozzi” you can see a picture or two of this incident.  The Gatorade shower came on 4/16/12 after Lombardozzi went 4 for 5 with a double and 2 RBI in saving a 6-3 win for Stephen Strasburg.

…and no, it wasn’t another Nats win over the Mets, although that would’ve been fitting.

One of you Nats fans or Kristina Akra fans out there should get this card autographed by Kristina… it seems like it’d be a fun addition to one’s collection.