Doppelganger: 1994 Fleer/Score Terry Steinbach

My latest Doppelgangers (two cards from different manufacturers featuring different photos of the same play) come from 1994 Fleer and Score, and involves a play at the plate involving A’s catcher Terry Steinbach and Mariners catcher Bill Haselman.
1994 Fleer - Score Terry Steinbach
Here’s what I believe to be the play pictured: August 4th, 1993, Mariners at Oakland on a Wednesday afternoon. In the top of the 7th, the Mariners are leading 4-2 and Bill Haselman draws a walk off Kelly Downs. Omar Vizquel comes up next, singles up the middle and Haselman moves over to third. Mike Felder came up next, and the runners must’ve been going because Felder hit the ball to A’s 2nd Baseman Brent Gates who threw to Steinbach to get Haselman out at home. Felder got to first on a fielder’s choice, but neither he nor Vizquel would score.

The Mariners would hang on to that lead going into the bottom of the 9th, and starter Tim Leary was cruising along. After Leary gave up a leadoff triple to Ruben Sierra, Dennis Powell was brought in to face Lance Blankenship, walked him, and that was it for Powell. Jeff Nelson comes in, gives up two runs, loads the bases and plunks Mike Bordick to drive in the winning run. Athletics 5, Mariners 4.


My goodness! Where are my manners?

This past Monday I was featured in the latest edition of Nachos Grande’sBetter Know A Blogger” series, and unthinking cad that I was, I forgot to thank him here in my own blog. Thank you, kind sir, for stretching the definition of a “theme week” and allowing me to take part.

And for the record, there’s no truth to the rumor that Nachos Grande is related to Ariana Grande.  That being said, I couldn’t say whether or not he’s got one less problem wit’out cha.

“Hot Stove” Custom – A’s Get Closer Johnson From O’s

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #13 - Jim Johnson

There were two distinct moments of surprise associated with the trade that sent the Orioles closer Jim Johnson to the Athletics.

The first came when I found out that the Orioles were shopping Johnson in the first place… I can understand not wanting to commit too much money to a volatile commodity like a closer, but it wasn’t like the Orioles had another closer sitting around waiting for the opportunity.

The second surprise came when the A’s were the ones to pick him up.  “Wait, the Athletics are taking on salary?  What’s up with that?”

I’ve got nothing against the Athletics, and this wasn’t JJ’s idea, so I will wish him all the best with his new team.

…and I hope that Orioles GM Dan Duquette knows what he’s doing…

I take requests!

Has your favorite player has moved to another team this winter?  …Or did your favorite team acquire a player?  Would you like to see that special someone “photoshopped” into their new uniform?

If so, feel free to leave a request in the comments below, and I will give it my best.

I make absolutely no promises that I will be able to pull it off – I’m somewhat limited by the images I have access to, not to mention my amateur graphical skills –  but I will most certainly make an effort.

 

Certain Photos Just Beg To Have Customs Made Of Them

When I came up with my 2013 custom design, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to find pictures where part of the player’s head or arm or bat came up enough to be in front of the team name while still leaving the name somewhat legible. Over the past few months I’ve sorta trained myself to look for photos that have that particular attribute… However, I never thought I’d have an opportunity to use a photo where the it’s the player’s foot that comes in front of the team name, so when I did come  across one, well, I just had to.
2013 TSR #432 Scott Diamond

Thank you, Scott Diamond.  Unfortunately, this custom may have been the only thing to work out for him this week, as he had a poor outing and got sent down to AAA.

The A’s recently had a throwback game against the Angels, and I can’t say enough about how nice a job was done to replicate the 1969 A’s uniforms.
2013 TSR #499 - Grant Balfour

It seems like they got a lot of details right, from the lack of an apostrophe-s on the jersey and hat logo, the MLB Centennial patch, and the green and yellow stirrups over the yellow sanitaries.

The Angels also wore throwbacks  which seem pretty accurate, but aren’t anywhere near as colorful as the A’s.  They do have the very cool halo on the hats, though… You can kinda sorta see it on the top of Trumbo’s cap.

2013 TSR #435 - Mark Trumbo

Mystery Box Of 1970 Topps: Ladies And Gentleman, We Are Experiencing Some Turbulence…

I knew I shouldn’t have said anything.

Oh, by the way, this post is about the box of 1970 Topps I bought from the Semi-Local Card Shop… I’m taking cards out 10-15 at a time and treating them like packs.

Anyway, the last “pack” I shared two weeks ago put a nice dent in my needs, as I needed 8 out of the 12 cards, all Red Sox and Yankees (the box is sorted by team).  I foolishly shared my excitement online and apparently jinxed myself.

As I thumbed through the next pack, it was “Got him, got him, need him, got him, got him, got him… Oh, crap”.

The “Oh crap” came because after the remaining Yankees I hit Seattle Pilots.  The reason that’s “Oh, crap” is because I’m a Pilots collector and I already have the 1970 team set.  On the plus side, I’ve got a new Mike Herschberger card, and I know the one in my 1970 binder looks like it’d been subjected to bicycle spokes.

The end result was that out of those 12 cards, I only needed this one:
1970 Topps Bobby Murcer

At least it’s a decent card, Bobby Murcer was one of the Yankees better players in the early 1970’s… not the “Next Mickey Mantle” that fans had been hoping for, but he was a good player.

Anyway, after 20 minutes or so I realized that I probably still had more Pilots to sort through, so I pulled out another 11 cards, got through another 7 Pilots (12 Pilots in total) and into the A’s.  Despite the added number of cards, I still ended up with only one more need… That’s 2 cards out of 23.  Yikes.

But at least the second need was a former Met… 
1970 Topps Tommie Reynolds

Tommie Reynolds appeared in 101 games for the 1967 Mets.  It’s funny, because I was just talking Rule 5 draft with a guy from work the other day, and I was saying that it doesn’t do what it was originally supposed to do, which was to “rescue” Major League-ready guys trapped in the minors.  In 1966, the Mets took Reynolds from the A’s in the Rule V draft, and two years later the A’s took him back in the Rule V draft.  In 1969 the A’s outfield consisted of Reynolds, Rick Monday and Reggie Jackson.

Here’s the best cartoon of the 23 cards, from a Chuck Dobson card I didn’t need:
1970 Topps Chuck Dobson Cartoon

2013 Topps Stickers & Opening Day: Topps Keeps Giving Me The Bird!

I was in Target yesterday intending to buy a pack or two of Opening Day, and I was surprised to find that they also had Topps Stickers.  Of course, I bought packs of both. In for a penny, in for a pound.

Neither set is the pinnacle of excitement, but I did well Oriole-wise;  From the Opening Day packs I got the Bird (one of the few times it’s good to get the Bird)…
2013 Topps Opening Day Orioles Bird

…and I got a Manny Machado “Ballpark Fun” insert.  Two cards I probably would’ve sought out anyway, so that’s all good.
2013 Topps Opening Day Ballpark Fun Machado

The stickers aren’t bad looking, and look!  I got the Bird AGAIN!
2013 Topps Stickers Orioles Bird

There are also HOFers in the set;  I didn’t buy the album, so I don’t know what the story is with these.  Pretty cool, though.  Reggie Jackson with the A’s, as nature intended…
2013 Topps Stickers Reggie Jackson

…And Robin Yount in the ball-in-glove Brewers logo that seems to be the favorite of everybody but me.  I’ll admit it’s fairly clever, but it doesn’t do much for me.  It is better than what they wear now, which is completely unobjectionable but also completely uninteresting.

2013 Topps Stickers Robin Yount

I like the Stickers, but I’ll only buy them when I’m looking for a cheap pack bustin’ fix.  Sticking them in the album seems wrong to me (I wasn’t raised on stickers), but they’re too small to put in plastic sheets, so these will just sit in a box with its 2011 and 2012 brethren.

…Oh, and BTW the backs of the stickers mainly consist of the card number and legal info.  You were expecting something different?

Opening Day is a set I want to like, but since it’s essentially a parallel of the regular set and I don’t do parallels, that pretty much means I don’t do OD.  I’d buy a lot more OD if they’d use different photos, but then it probably wouldn’t be as cheap.  I do like the Mascot cards though.  I’ll have to track down Mr. Met and maybe the Phanatic (who I like despite his affiliation to a certain team).

No Rhyme Or Reason: Three Arbitrary And Unrelated Cards

1968 Topps Fred WhitfieldI’ve had this card since I was a kid. In a collection full of 1970’s cards, it was one of the few 1960’s cards I had.

At the time, I thought of Fred Whitfield as “really old”, but it wasn’t until I grew up and looked back on it that I realized that it wasn’t so much about his age as much as how he seemed like he was from another era. The ballplayers I was familiar with were very hairy guys… Long hair, big afros, sideburns, moustache, or some combination of the above. This stern-looking guy with the close-cropped hair and the zippered vest…well, he was not of this Earth.

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This Miguel Tejada card has personal significance, but not in a good way.  For sets like Heritage where I bust plenty of wax but don’t try to complete it, I had several criteria I used to make up wantlists after I was done ripping wax.  This Tejada was a short print that was on my want list because even though he’s pictured with the A’s, he’d played for the Orioles.  Tejada’s a relatively big name and a former Oriole, but I don’t like him and don’t think much of him, and that resulted in a huge case of buyer’s remorse as soon as I pulled this sucker out of the box from COMC.  True, I only spent a couple of bucks of COMC credit for it, but it bugs me a little that I could’ve gotten something more enjoyable, even a handful of commons.  It was this card that caused me to change my wantlist criteria for Heritage to “Mets, Orioles and players I like”.

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Back in the spring I bought a complete set of 1988 Big Baseball (shelled out all of $5 for it and probably paid too much). I pulled out the cards I wanted, and put the rest in a box headed out the door for parts unknown. This is one of the cards I kept, solely because I like it.

Cory Snyder trying to turn two, Kevin Seitzer trying to stop him, cavernous Cleveland Municipal Stadium as the backdrop, undoubtedly filled with hundreds of screaming fans…

Pack Animal: Fairfield 100-Card Repack

Last weekend I was jonesing to buy something other than 2012 packs, but the “local” card shop is 25 miles away and the next card show within a 2-hour drive is in… oh, let’s see… April.

I’d read some decent comments about these 100-card repacks, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

I’ve got to say, I was pleased with the surprisingly decent payoff. Don’t get me wrong, this was the biggest “hit” in the repack (and the reason I bought this particular repack):

…but there were a number of cards which I would’ve gladly bought from a dime or quarter box, so I certainly can’t complain.

As you’d expect, there was a fair amount of junk wax, especially late 1980’s Topps and Donruss… but as it worked out, I ended up needing a few of the junk wax cards for sets that I collected at the time, but never quite completed, including The Earl Of Baltimore:

There were also 2-year-old Topps Update cards (also needed)…

…some “premium junk wax”… And I never stop thinking that it was a mistake to put the ‘tail’ underlining the team name in the 1990’s.  I doesn’t register much on the grand scale of uniform mistakes, but it looked wrong then, and it looks wrong now.

I also got a needed “junk insert”.

It sounds stupid, but the inclusion of one sole Topps Total card made me very happy… I’m foolish enough to try to complete the 4-year run of Total (2002 down, 3 more to go), and I don’t run across Total very often in my travels, so it was cool to get a card I wanted, even if it’s just for Juan Castro.

What surprised me most is that I didn’t get many of the “filler sets” that so often clog these repacks, like Upper Deck X or Documentary.

I also got an unopened pack of 1988 Score, another set which I never quite completed. I’ll open this pack in another post.

For the $4 spent, I could’ve bought a pack of Chrowman Bome and gotten absolutely nothing I wanted, or picked up yet another tedious “heroes beating the snot out of other heroes” issue of Marvel’s Avengers. I think I did pretty damn good in terms of entertainment and filling my needs.

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At this point, I’d like to wish a happy Thanksgiving to all; I hope that everybody gets to spend a relaxing and enjoyable day with their family and friends.

…And just be thankful for what you got…

2012 Panini Triple Play – Best Kids’ Set Since… Oooooh… I Dunno

I was pretty dubious when I saw images of Triple Play; the weird, cartoony images didn’t look much like the players.  But I was in Target, packs were $1 each, I said “Eh, what the heck”.  And you know what?  I think Panini might be on to something.

These cards are obviously aimed at kids, but they don’t aim low.  A lot of sets aimed at kids tend to have bright, garish colors and goofy, cutesy images of players with giant heads and artwork straight out of “Highlights For Children” (no offense intended for those fans of “Highlights”).

I’m going to us an analogy that you have to be a certain age to get… These cards are like “Jonny Quest” while prior kids’ sets  are like “H.R. Pufnstuff”.  When I was a kid, I didn’t want sickeningly cutesy giant puppets and magic flutes.  That’s for babies!  I want to see jets and monsters and aliens and stuff!

I didn’t realize at first that the background was related to the team.  I took me a minute or two to realize that the background on the Oakland cards are oak leaves.    The backs of the card have a writeup on the player, career stats and a trivia question.  Here’s the one from the back of the Kurt Suzuki card:  “How many Hawaiian-born players have 500 hits?”  The answer’s at the bottom of this post.

Stickers!  The set’s got stickers!  Gotta have stickers.

This card threw me at first.  “Oooh, an insert!  I didn’t think there were inserts.”  Then I realized what I  had:  A piece of “Authentic baseball jersey”.  Not game-worn.  Not even a replica.  Just a jersey.  Even so, it’s kind of cool.  I guess it’s sort of “I’ve got my own jersey card like my dad has!  …Only I get to touch this one!”

I thought I got doubles of this Starlin Castro card until I realized that the backs were different;  when you get all nine Starlin Castro cards, you can make a puzzle of the image on the front of each card.  I appreciate the idea, but to me part of the fun of the puzzle-back cards was not knowing what the image would look like until you were finished.

I think what it comes down to is that this set is for kids, but it doesn’t talk down to kids.  I always appreciated that when I was young, and I wouldn’t be surprised if these cards get something of a following because of it.  This “kid” won’t try to collect the set, but I’ll probably buy packs here and there, just because.

Oh, jeez, I almost forgot the trivia answer!  The three Hawaiian players with 500 or more hits are Kurt Suzuki (of course), Shane Victorino (“The Flyin’ Hawaiian”) and Mike Lum (who played with the Braves, Reds & Cubs from 1967 to 1982)

1974 Week: Jesus Alou “No Position” Variation

When it comes to 1974 errors and variations,  most of the attention goes to the “Washington Nat’l Lea.” cards, but a master set of 1974 Topps also includes the Jesus Alou “No Position” card:

From my own experience, this seems to be a relatively rare card;  you don’t see it as  much as the Washington “Nat’l Lea.” cards.  However, it’s also a card which is relatively low in demand, so you can get it for a price which is pretty reasonable.  That’s how I came to own it… I normally don’t go much for text-based errors, but when I ran across this card I had a complete 1974 set and had most of the “Washington” cards, so I decided that I would go ahead and complete the master set for 1974.   I can’t see myself doing that for any other set… For example, I’ve got a number of the variations from 1991 Topps, which is a set I really like, but I can’t see myself tracking down all the variations in that.

Assuming that the Matty Alou card was taken at Yankee Stadium (he is in a home uniform) then all three Alou brothers were photographed in Yankee Stadium for the 1974 set, but Jesus was the only one not in a Yankees uniform at the time.

2012 Heritage: Meet the new Gio, same as the old Gio

Here’s something I’d noticed while updating my team binders… This is Gio Gonzalez photoshopped into his new Nationals uniform…

…and here’s Gio Gonzalez from last year’s Heritage set.  Hmmm… Something about this photo seems strangely… familiar.

The odd thing is that on closer examination, it appears that they are two different photos.   Look at the railings behind Gio’s cap, they don’t match between the two.  It’s possible that they just took the image of Gio, separated it from the background and adjusted it slightly so it looks like a different photo, but that seems like it would be more trouble than it’s worth.  I want to say his expression is ever-so-slightly different in the two, but that might be just my mind playing tricks on me.

What’s really funny is that the black and white photo on this year’s card is almost the same pose as the other two.  Topps obviously bought their Gio Gonzalez photos in bulk from Costco.