Nov 30, 2011

An offseason break or remember when new sets released were anticipated?

November is dull in baseball world. It has the dullest week of the dullest month baseball-wise of the year (November 6-13). Let's review the news of the past couple weeks. 

1. Topps Tier One hit the stores.  There's only one pack per box.  High-end Topps has led to dissatisfaction among the breaking community.

2. The Red Sox have a new manager....some players didn't want him....scandal!

3. The Royals made a doesn't matter for who.

4. Topps Triple Threads teaches us that Canadiens "Say 'Eh" and also about American legendary history like Pecos Bill and John Henry.  It gives more information than a history textbook for only double the price. 

But we're not about dwelling on unpleasantness or distasteful ideas or boredom here. We're about looking forward. And in order to look forward we have to look back and remember what lay in front of us at one point in the past. Because the excitement from the future of the past while we're looking back could only whet our little pack-ripping appetites for the future from the present. Because presently many have forgotten the past which can not bode well for the future. Of course, we don't that is true until the future when the present is behind us and is the past. So let's look forward to 2012 by reminding ourselves about the anticipation of 2011.

Remember Topps? No, not the company. The base set, the kick-off for the year, it's almost time for that again. The anticipation of a new design, the slick foil, surprising gimmicks (maybe), and an online giveaway for the new season. Here's some 2011 Topps cards from a series 1 box break to remind us all that it's not all bad. Even if you aren't particularly drawn to Triple Tier 1 Prospect Threads of Draft Picks....

Hey, it's a gold card!  We have seen these since 2001. 2012 will provide more gold than ever before throughout all the themed inserts.  Of course, this old style gold parallel #d to the year seems to not be found.
there will be......
a different type.....
of gold parallel....similar to 2011's diamond parallel.  These diamond parallels were a great addition to the parallel lineup and really fit into the theme of the 60th anniversary of Topps.   They were vibrant and cool to see and felt like a collectible extension of the set.   Maybe there'll  be a themed parallel every year like wood, cotton, leather, or cashmere in the future. 
Topps 60 showcases great players with non-specific moments...
This has been true of most insert sets throughout their 20+ year history.  All-stars! Legends! Rookies!  Just create an idea to mix them together in a whirlwind of wonderment.  MVPs may also apply.
I am not a fan of dual player insert cards except for all-stars for the same position of the same year or maybe something like 1996 Zenith Mosaics.  But this card is fantastic....Reggie Jackson as an Oriole!
Hit me!  I need to get closer to 21.     I lucked out and got an auto.  This is why we open the packs to fill the thrill of victory and the agony of pulling a jersey card of someone you don't necessarily want.  But the hit's guaranteed! Net positive all around.
But the best thing a new card set can hope for....
is have a card that becomes iconic or memorable...
or the rookie card of a hall of famer (assuming that a rookie card is a rookie card and not an unrookie card).  Some sets get left behind, but that's impossible....
as long as there are minis.  Farewell to the set that probably left the biggest impact among the most collectors in 2011.  You will return in a different form next year to lift us out of the November doldrums once again. 

please, please, political cards in an election year

Nov 26, 2011

Phillies 2011 Diamond Anniversary Checklist/Wantlist

Do you know how long it takes me to put together a typical wantlist? Months....years, even....For posterity's sake, here's what remains from the totally sparksome parallel of the diamond anniversary year of the Topps. It looks like there are many Roy Halladay cards to track down....

11. NL Wins Leaders
146. Roy Halladay
219. Carlos Ruiz
267. Jose Contreras
325. Jayson Werth
420. Ryan Howard
469. Joe Blanton
511. Phillies Team Card
524. Michael Martinez
638. Ryan Madson
656. Raul Ibanez
US85. Roy Halladay
US91. Hunter Pence
US100. Cliff Lee
US117. Michael Stutes
US154. Cliff Lee
US189. Wilson Valdez

Nov 17, 2011

Cards from the Phungo

It's always fun to trade with the Phungo, though this was my first time.     Just check out the mix of vintage Phillies and PHUNGO CARDS that were sent there.   The arrival of a Phungo card set is a phun time for everyone.  Just wanted to say thanks, it was fun....

1959 Topps Don Cardwell: vintage and elegant in its presentation

1975 Topps Phillie Mini: My first 1975 Topps mini!

Phungo Card 1/Black Border:  The best mascot of them all.

Phungo Card 2/Harry Kalas Commemorative:  The voice of two generations of Phillies fans.

Phungo Card 3/Harry Kalas Memorial:  The outpouring of emotion at the centerpiece of the Philly baseball scene.

1959 Topps Bob Bowman: Vintage and determined to please

Phungo Card 4/Greg Luzinski:  The Bull is back and BBQin'

Phungo Card 5/Dickie Noles: A member of the 1980 bullpen and a Phillie twice in his career.

Phungo Card 6/Tommy Greene:  Caught lightning in 1993 with a great season, pitched a no-hitter in 1991.  Succumbed to the young pitcher Fregosi malady.

Nov 11, 2011

My Favorite $2 Card.....or How Does Always Remember What They Paid for Every Card in Their Collection?

I am naturally drawn to the 1962 Topps set; it's in my blood, it may even be one of those strange genetic traits that get passed down from generation to generation. And I know what you're, I did not go all Abraham Lincoln on this world, being born in a log cabin. I was born in a hospital with hospital-colored walls of which I saw every single one as I was run down the hallway for some inexplicable reason (I guess that would be one of those long stories).

This was the set of my father. He always talked nostalgically of the wood-bordered set from 1962. It was the first year that the Mets made appearance on the cardboard. It was the year that led off with two-time MVP Roger Maris. It was the year that, in a 8 year old's head, trading Yogi Berra straight up for Art Mahaffey was a great idea.

Of course, there have been other moments where the 1962 brand made its mark. It was the first pre-1970 card brand in my collection when I was 12 (Orlando Cepeda), it was a gift to the father who had moved on from the hobby after the baseball strike of '94 (Tom Tresh), it was the perusing the unmarked vintage stack at card shows until something was found that was awesome (see pictured).

Luis Aparicio is an interesting Hall of Famer. He was not ever a great hitter, but he was a great base stealer and great fielder for many years. The first time I remember reading about the Go-Go Sox of 1959 was on the back of a Nellie Fox TCMA card.

I rescued this card from the stack for a mere $2. It is a 1962 Topps card; there's a classic cap, and it is of Luis Aparicio, shortstop extraordinaire.  The capper to all this is that I met him at the 2007 Fanfest before this, and was happy to have a card display next to the signed baseball. $2?  Nothing, for a true card connection.

Nov 6, 2011

Phillies Project Update: Steve Carlton was a Cardinal First?? You don't say....

Steve "Lefty" Carlton, the Phillies pitcher in its history who has had the most success over the longest period of time.   One can look to Grover Cleveland Alexander as having the most dominant stretch ever for a pitcher in a Phillies uniform or one can look to Robin Roberts with a 5 year run as impressive as any.  However, Carlton was the only one to sustain varying degrees of excellence in a Phillies uniform for 15 years (1972-1985).  This is a long career even in the most judicious of circumstances, and yet it has always been jarring for me to see his early cards as a member of the (now immensely disliked through the end of 2011) Cards. 

Steve Carlton as a Card was nearly 6 years in the making as a potentially premiere pitcher of the spheroid.   Summary of the performance is presented below.  There was life before 1972, you know (though I didn't experience it. And if I did, I would be older than I am, in which case, I would be someone else).  Images of the Steve Carlton as a Card consistently proves this.

His career began as a precocious youth at the age of 19 in 1965, making his first two career starts while mostly being a reliever: 21 Ks in 25 IP showed the promise.   1966 came and went with him spending most of the year at AAA Tulsa, making only 9 major league starts and struggling a bit with a 1.42 WHIP and only 25 K in 52 innings.  1967 was a breakout year for Carlton with a 14-9 record, 2.98 ERA, and 11 complete games (CG) in 28 starts.  His strikeout rate of 7.8 K/9 was one of the highest of his career.

1968 had a similar performance (13-11, 2.99 ERA, and 162 K in 232 innings), but his ERA+ decreased from 110-97 because of the crazy low run-scoring environment of 1968.  1969 was the first time in his career he placed in the top 10 in the leage in K with 210 in  236 innings, his walk rate spiked a bit from the previous two years, but he still managed a 2.17 ERA, 2nd in the league.  1970 was a regression of sorts since his walk rate climbed even higherto 3.9 BB/9, finishing 3rd in the league with 109 BB, so he finished 10-19 with a 3.73 ERA.  1971 decreased both the walk and K rate from the previous year, but he reversed his fortunes and had his first 20 win season of his career finishing 20-9 with a 3.56 ERA even though the K rate was the lowest of his career until he was 42 years old.

It was at this point, that the challenge trade occurred for a talented Rick Wise coming off his career year in 1971.  Carlton had a much stronger profile, though they seemed similar on the surface.  The foundation to have a higher peak was already established. (though no one predicted a season quite like 1972).

So, here ends the quest for every mainstream affordable issue Phillies card from the 1980 Phillies World Series team (I am excepting the Carlton and Schmidt rookies for now).  This offseason, I intend to scan the binder.  I hope it happens; it's quite the trip down memory lane.

Nov 2, 2011

1950 Phillies Auto Collection: Curt Simmons

The nomenclature isn't exactly true.  My collection for this admittedly extremely difficult pursuit now numbers.....three.   This is the first in chronological order.  This card is of the famed 1999 Sports Illustrated Greats of the Game on card auto set of all retired players.  The 1950 team is one of the greatest Phillies team that had one of the most thrilling endings to a season ever seen.  Throwing a runner out at the plate to send the game to extra innings in the last game of the season?  Are you kidding me?

Curt Simmons was a large part of that team, playing as a veteran 21 year old, solidifying the #2 spot in the rotation.  He was 17-8 that season with 11 CG in 27 starts with a 3.40 ERA and 1.23 WHIP.  He also tied Robin Roberts for the team lead in K with 148. 

I love this card because of the photo used.  I first saw the blue hats for day games in 1994; they were soon  discarded from use after two disastrous games and forever cursed as anti-karmic.  They made their return with a twist a in 2008.  Instead of keeping with the general pinstripe theme of the current Phillies uniform, a solid cream colored uniform was used with the same cap from this card.  This cap was in use during the 1948-1949 seasons, so Simmons was merely a teenager when this photo was taken.  He already had a starting pitcher's intensity and was ready to sink his teeth into his major league career.

He lasted 20 seasons in the majors, playing for the Phillies, Cardinals, Cubs, and finishing with the Angels in 1967.  He was a 3 time all-star and finished in the top 10 in the NL in ERA 9 times.  A long-time successful Phillies pitcher with a great script, what else is needed of a former Whiz Kid?