Saturday, May 27, 2017

Living in the present


All of your favorite self-help sources say it's best to live in the present.

Living in the past is not recommended. They say it stunts your growth. It skews your view on what's going on around you. It's unproductive. Living in the future is also frowned upon. They say you're wishing your life away.

But, frankly, when it comes to cards, living in the present is pretty damn boring.

At least it is for me. Your mileage may vary.

I would much rather live in the past when it comes to cards. I like the old cards better, I have more connection to them. Cards from the past make a whole lot more sense to me than cards from the present. So, I'm stunting my growth? So what? Everyone knows we're not going to live forever, right? Might as well enjoy what you like. (I'm talking strictly cards here, those of you looking at me for permission to break your diet).

But for just this one post, I'm living in the present. I promise not to nod off if you promise not to nod off.

I received a handful of 2017 present-day needs from Ryan of the Card Stacks Blog. We'll check them out now, right here in the present:


I started with a couple of Joc Pederson cards. The present day means you must worry about players on your favorite team colliding in the outfield and padding the Dodgers' already crowded disabled list.



You can't get me to say anything else about 2017 Donruss. Glad I have the card. That's the best I can do.


Donruss also squeezed old-timers into this set because card companies realize that even though it's the present, living in the past is profitable.



That's the hobby for you. There will always be collectors looking to the future and demanding innovation in the present. But card companies often live in the past, probably because it's easier.

And because so many of us collectors are old dudes who like our history.

So that completes this present-day thanks in a present-day blog post for these present-day cards.

I'll probably return to the cardboard past now. And if you want to live in the past, I invite you to check out the blog archives.

Friday, May 26, 2017

10 favorite Ceys without showing my favorite Cey

There's this contest going around that asks card bloggers to show off their 10 favorite cards of their favorite player.

I haven't done anything with this mostly because I'm sick of showing my favorite card of my favorite player.

How's that for being messed up?

But this blog has been going for awhile and there are a number of cards that I've shown too much, just like a favorite song played too often. I need something new, or at least different, to show off.

Babbling about favorite Ron Cey cards is hardly new, but I made an effort to find 10 favorites, while avoiding my absolute favorite. You will not see the 1975 Topps Ron Cey card in this list (nor will I cheat and show the 1975 Topps mini Cey). Instead, let's see 10 Cey cards that I have only half beaten into the ground already.

No particular order here, because unless it's the '75 Cey, all of the Cey cards are my favorites and I can't possibly rank them. They're my children!


1976 Topps: I'm projecting here, but I've always thought Cey appeared to be in an absolute rage in this photo, and he had torn a piece of the railing from the seats behind him, losing his helmet in the process, and was now going to use it as a bat. Check out those forearms.


1979 Topps: A rather original near-check-swing action shot for its time. The best part, though, may be the NBC peacock camera in the background that tells you this is a "Game of the Week"! Somewhere in that stadium is Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubek!



2016 Baseball Card Breakdown: OK, some would disqualify this because it wasn't made by a licensed, national card company. But the handiwork is indisputable. And Gavin's attention to detail, combined with Cey's willingness to sign this card, gets it on the list. There is a paltry representation of Cey's contribution to the 1981 World Series on cardboard. It's about damn time.



1981 Fleer Star Stickers: Sadly, there does not appear to be any cards of Cey running the bases, which is how he best demonstrated the reasons for his "Penguin" nickname. But this photo of Cey starting out of the box after connecting gives a glimpse of the squat trot gearing up.



2002 Topps Stadium Club World Champions relic: I own around seven or eight relics of Cey. Many of them, frankly, are not well-designed. This one is. It looks good, it has a theme. Cey's picture seems to match with the year being represented. Sure, there's mention that this is a "regular season" bat relic, not from the postseason, but at least Topps is being forthcoming.



1975 Hostess: I may have banned myself from showing the '75 Topps card, but that doesn't mean I can't show other '75 stuff! This is Cey's first Hostess card. It represents a watershed moment for him, as well as the Dodgers as the photo was taken in 1974. I don't know why Hostess didn't narrow it down from "Infield". He played nothing but third base his whole career until he got to Oakland.



1978 Topps (TTM auto): The first Ron Cey card that I received autographed through the mail. Yup, it still makes me smile.



1983 Donruss Action All-Stars: The early '80s saw an emergence of oddball issues as Topps, Donruss and Fleer sought a competitive advantage. These postcard-sized Action All-Stars certainly were different at the time, and pretty cool. It was one of the first tributes to the 1955/56 Topps issues that I ever saw.


And check out all those stats on the back!!



2001 Upper Deck Decade '70s: The one drawback about retro cards is that you can tell from the way the card was made, or the photo, that the maker has no appreciation for that time period. The maker never saw the player, has no concept of how they looked on the field, what they represented. This card gets it right. This is how I remember Cey at-bat. The proper stance, the proper arm positioning, the proper hair-length.



1974 Topps: Ron Cey's first solo card. It's pretty fine, despite the shadows obscuring just about everything. This card was ultra cool when it came out. Also, there is an underappreciated aspect of cards from this era that is lost in the obsession with every card being a graded 10. I own multiple versions of this card. Each one is cut slightly differently. So each one has a personality distinct from the other '74 Ceys. I like that. And it's why I don't mind obtaining more of this card.

So that's 10 Cey favorites. I could have easily picked 10 other cards and call them my 10 Cey favorites.

Oh, one more thing.

...

...

...

...

...

...


I just couldn't get through the whole post without this card.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Awesome night card, pt. 273: Reruns of reruns


I decided to read up on the next Topps set to hit card aisles this season. It's the annual Archives issue and it's scheduled to be released a week from today.

I've mentioned everything that distresses me about Archives so many times that I feel like I'm parodying myself. Even though it seems like this product is targeted toward me, I don't think I'm meant for this product. It's just too irksome. I should walk away and let it go.

But just one more thing.

I naturally wanted to see which past designs were going to be featured in the base set this year (I probably knew this information once before but my brain is full and facts and memories leak out all the time).

Like the previous two years, Topps is featuring only three past designs after featuring four the first three years of the Archives reboot. Here are the three designs for 2017:

1960, 1982, 1992.

Two of those designs are all right. One is definitely not. And the one that is not is freaking 1982 again.

Topps just featured the 1982 Archives design in 2013! I think Topps' memory is worse than mine! Seriously, guys, my junior year in high school is not worth rehashing more than once.

And this isn't the first time that Archives has done this. In 2014, it used the 1980 design after using it already in 2012. What the hell?

Here is the breakdown of the years featured in each set of Archives:

2012: 1954, 1971, 1980, 1984

2013: 1972, 1982, 1985, 1990

2014: 1973, 1980, 1986, 1989

2015: 1957, 1976, 1983

2016: 1953, 1979, 1991

2017: 1960, 1982, 1992

We're just six years into this product and two of the designs have been used twice already despite 60-plus years of designs.

As a set collector, one of the things that I most enjoy about collecting sets each year is that they are distinct from one another. There is no way in the world you could confuse 2015 Topps flagship with 2016 Topps flagship. This was almost always an advantage for Topps back when it was competing with other card companies, particularly Upper Deck.

I realize it's difficult to make Archives distinct with the mish-mash of well-known designs, but, geez, repeating the same design two to four years later certainly isn't helping.

I was thrilled to see the 1979 design show up in Archives last year. But meanwhile such well-known designs as 1956, 1959, 1963, 1965, 1975, 1978 and 1981 are ignored again so we can see the hockey sticks one more time.

I don't get it.

The 2013 Archives Josh Reddick night card will be headed to the night card binder, just so I can ensure that I don't confuse it with any 2017 Archives '82s that might work their way into my collection.



Same goes for these two 2013 Archives '82s as well.

It's very easy to confuse the old night owl these days. I need to take every precaution possible.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Night Card Binder candidates: Josh Reddick, 2013 Topps Archives, #56; Brandon Phillies, 2013 Topps Archives, #53; Edwin Encarnacion, 2013 Topps Archives, #96
Do they make the binder?: They're all in.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

They can't all be heroes


Just before Twitter bud (@grogg) and fellow namesake (Greg) took off halfway across the country for his new place of residence, he shipped me this big ol' box of surprise.

In the past, Greg has sent me all kinds of cards and in all kinds of formats. Once they arrived in a complete binder. But this package was a little bit different and didn't contain any hand-selected cards.

Instead, the surprise was in the opening:


Two boxes of the only Panini baseball set I've ever cared about, 2013 Hometown Heroes.

That's 24 packs-per-box, chums, all of which I got to open.

I rarely get to do this.

I've mentioned my intentions of completing this set on the blog a few times and Greg noticed. The tricky thing about this set, though, is that I've accumulated much of it already. Most of what's left are a handful of base needs and the almost impossible image variation cards that make up the final 40 cards in the set.

So I was interested to see what kind of damage two boxes could do. Also, the boxes advertise "on card autographs!" so there's high intrigue already.


That's what the first box looked like as I prepared to dig in.

I'm going to show only the cards I needed from each box, so most of the cards you won't see here. But, believe me, I have a bunch of extras. If anyone is collecting this set, and isn't down to the final 30 cards, let me know. I probably have something for you.

Box 1


Box 1 yielded just three base cards that I needed, which tells you everything you need to know about this set. Some of the base cards apparently aren't really base cards, because they're a devil to find.

But that's three off my want list so I can't complain for too long.


That was my image variation. These cards are one per box, which I already knew, and which explains why they're so tricky to find and also how many people collecting this set stop at card No. 260 and yell "COMPLETE!" I, on the other hand, am a slave to the numbers on the back.



Hometown Heroes contains some pretty ridiculous parallels. There are apparently four "state" parallels in a box. Let's forget the lameness of gold-foil parallels for a second and focus on the state theme. The state represents where the player plays, which is as close to being redundant without being redundant as you can get. Yes, I am well aware that Seattle is in Washington. If the states depicted where the player was from, that might be a bit more useful.


One zip code parallel per box. This is a pretty good one to get. Again, the zip code goes with the city listed on the front. I'm not sure why we're supposed to care about that.



Those are the inserts that fell out of the box. I'm partial to the Nicknames insert, of course. The rest are OKish. The Rivalry cards have photoshopped the logos so completely that Kingman could be playing for the Angels there and no one would know.



Inserts also come with border parallels. Those are the three out of box 1. The black parallels are far better than the gold ones.

I was able to pull an autograph out of Box 1. Here it is:


Yup, it's a Cub. Grogg is a Cubs fan. I have no idea how he was able to pull this off. I am amazed.


Box 2

I'll let you know right off that Box 2 didn't contain an autograph. Apparently there is no one-per-box rule with Hometown Heroes. There are no odds on the box or the wrappers so I guess it's luck of the draw.


But I was able to pull a few more base cards that I needed with this box. Combined with those from Box 1, I'm down to needing 10 base cards to fill the set. It's too bad that 48 packs couldn't finished it off, but I guess that's modern card collecting for ya.



My one image variation card was of perhaps the most polarizing former player alive today. I suppose it's appropriate that he's all by himself.



Bring on the foil state variations because it's still 1998 apparently! I'll probably hold on to most of the inserts but any of these foil parallels are definitely up for grabs.


The one zip code variation. Now you know the zip for The Bronx. Feel free to chant it loudly while seated at Yankee Stadium. They seem to like doing that stuff there.



Box 2 was much busier with inserts.


Two more.



And those are the parallel inserts.


Those two boxes were pretty fun to open even if I still find myself needing some more base cards. Obviously I'll be cherry-picking those remaining wants online.

In total, I needed 8 base cards, 2 variation cards and 17 inserts from the boxes. They can't all be heroes when you're this far into the set.

But I sure do appreciate Greg being my box-supplying hero.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Blaster power rankings: 2017 Topps Bunt


I'm one of those people who was surprised by the early arrival of 2017 Topps Bunt. The debut version of the set from last year was barely seven months old and now we have a new set.

That's why when I last did one of these blaster power rankings posts, I said I wouldn't do another one until the end of the month or next month. I had no idea I'd be buying blasters again so soon.

But as you know, I picked up a couple of Bunt blasters last week, showed one, and saved the other for another Blaster Power Rankings post.

I've already ranked the first blaster to update the power rankings and the Tigers remain ahead with 14 total cards, followed by the Cubs and White Sox 12 each. The Rockies are at the bottom with just two cards.

This second Bunt blaster was very favorable to the Dodgers, which I mentioned in the last Bunt post. This happens so seldom to me that I'm pretty sure this will be the most successful box of cards I open all year.

So let's see the rankings for this second blaster of Bunt.


Blaster Power Rankings: 2017 Bunt


1. L.A. DODGERS (7 cards)

I was practically giddy by the end of opening this blaster. The green parallel (numbered to 99) was the last Dodger card I pulled, too. With a total of seven cards, that's the most of one team that I've pulled out of any of my Power Ranking blasters.



2. CHICAGO WHITE SOX (6 cards)

The White Sox have done pretty damn well in the BPRs so far, which makes no sense to me because who's paying attention to the White Sox really.



3. K.C. ROYALS (5 cards)

The only place retired players appear in the Bunt set this year are in the inserts. It'd be nice if every player for the Bunt Programs insert was a retired player.



4. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (5 cards)

The Dodgers are preparing for a series with the Cardinals this week. Which means someone from St. Louis will proceed to dominate the Dodgers like they're The MLB Stud Of The Year and two years later you'll wonder what happened to them (see: Wacha, Matt Adams).



5. ATLANTA BRAVES (4 cards)

I bet I could sell that Dansby Swanson parallel for $5 this instant.



6. CHICAGO CUBS (4 cards)

Just don't have much left to say about the Cubs.



7. N.Y. METS (4 cards)

Those Infinite cards really aren't working for me. It's getting to the point where I feel the need to get rid of them.



8. TEXAS RANGERS (3 cards)

I hear the Rangers are good. I guess I should pay attention to them.



9. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (3 cards)

Because I was a glutton for punishment, I watched the Giants-Cardinals game Sunday on the MLB Network, which was carrying the Giants' feed. I don't like the broadcasting of Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow for obvious reasons. They're wildly popular in San Francisco, which makes sense because that's the same crowd that was rooting for Barry Bonds. Anyway, on Sunday, Krukow wasn't there. It was Kuiper and Jeremy Affeldt. And the whole time, while the Cardinals were beating the Giants' brains in, the two acted like the Giants were actually still good. ("Giants play the Cubs next, that will be some series!" Yeah, or the Cubs could very well sweep them). And just to reassure themselves, they babbled about recent Giants World Series teams, as if it was relevant to anything going on on the field. Broadcasting sycophants are very annoying.



10. OAKLAND A'S (3 cards)

The A's cards sure look pretty in this set. Not as pretty as the Kershaw green parallel though.



11. N.Y. YANKEES (3 cards)

At work, I am forced to have discussions on what Masahiro Tanaka's mound issues are. I couldn't care less what his issues are. Personally, I'd like him to give up four home runs every inning. Maybe I'll work that into the next "oh what's wrong with these Yankees" conversation that comes up.



12. DETROIT TIGERS (3 cards)

You can see that the Splatter Art card is numbered to 99. It's not very fancy for such a low serial number card. But there's also a Bunt code on the back that probably nets you some sort of rare digital image. It's lost on me though.



13. CINCINNATI REDS (3 cards)

A blue Red!



14. BOSTON RED SOX (3 cards)

The Bogaerts Perspectives card looks more like an A's card than a Red Sox card.



15. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (3 cards)

Yay, a new Ralph Kiner card!



16. COLORADO ROCKIES (3 cards)

The Rockies have not been well-represented in the Blaster Power Rankings so far, which doesn't jibe with my habit of constantly pulling Rockies. Also, this team needs to stop winning.



17. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (2 cards)



18. HOUSTON ASTROS (2 cards)



19. MIAMI MARLINS (2 cards)



20. BALTIMORE ORIOLES (1 card)



21. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (1 card)



22. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (1 card)



23. SEATTLE MARINERS (1 card)



24. TORONTO BLUE JAYS (1 card)



25. L.A. ANGELS (1 card)


26. CLEVELAND INDIANS (0 cards)
27. MILWAUKEE BREWERS (0 cards)
28. MINNESOTA TWINS (0 cards)
29. SAN DIEGO PADRES (0 cards)
30. TAMPA BAY RAYS (0 cards)

After two Bunt blasters I've yet to pull any cards for the Brewers, Padres or Rays, which -- apologies to the couple of Brewers bloggers -- means that Topps is finally listening to our pleas to not make cards of teams that nobody collects! (This is a joke, but I really wish it was true).

These posts are written mostly to amuse me, but also I'm interested to see which teams I actually do pull most often (instead of merely suspecting it) within a given year.

So here are the updated Blaster Power Rankings:

1. White Sox - 18
2. Tigers - 17
3. Cubs - 16
4. Dodgers - 15
5. Pirates - 14
6. Red Sox - 14
7. Royals - 14
8. Braves - 14
9. Cardinals - 14
10. Yankees - 13
11. Mets - 13
12. Reds - 12
13. Blue Jays - 11
14. Astros - 11
15. Giants - 11
16. Mariners - 8
17. Nationals - 8
18. Rangers - 7
19. Twins - 6
20. Phillies - 6
21. A's - 6
22. Marlins - 6
23. Brewers - 5
24. Orioles - 5
25. Rockies - 5
26. Diamondbacks - 4
27. Indians - 4
28. Padres - 4
29. Rays - 4
30. Angels - 4

The Dodgers make their move! Yay!

I know it's very early in the rankings, but I'm surprised that some teams are so low. The Indians were in the World Series last year, you guys! Also, the Orioles are pretty darn good.

So there you are. Now -- for sure this time -- there won't be another of these posts until probably early June, or whenever I decide to buy some Archives.

Or, who knows, maybe I'll lose a few more brain cells and you'll suddenly see a blaster of Bowman on here.