Monday, March 30, 2020

HOF Lee Smith

Lee Smith. One of the best closer's of all time. He played from 1980 to 1997. This is his 1996 Topps card and his pitching face is one of the reasons by the small face in the box at the bottom in the name-plate area is a bad, bad idea by Topps. Another example of "Just because you can doesn't mean you should."

Despite his 478 career saves, Lee Smith was neither "good" enough nor "great" enough to be voted in by the BBWAA. But he did get the nod by a subset of the Veterans committee in 2019. So, he went in with closer Mariano Rivera, and four other players.

2019 was a contentious year for the Hall of Fame, to say the least, because Rivera got 100% of the BBWAA vote--the first time ever--and then Harold Baines, like Smith, also got put in by some cockamamie group called Today's Game Era Committee. I think Smith had a stronger case of the HOF than Baines ever did, because, for example, at the time of his retirement he was the career leader in Saves.

Smith played most of his seasons with the Cubs, and like many veterans, he played on many different teams his last few years, holding on. 

This card is my Hall of Fame collection only because it's just part of the scope. There will undoubtedly be more (like Baines and probably even David Ortiz, etc.)

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Friday, March 27, 2020

A Tale of Two Krukkies

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…

Of course Charles Dickens was writing about the future in his post-apocalyptic dystopian sci-fi novel about John Kruk's career in San Diego versus Philadelphia as represented here in his 1989 Topps Tiffany and 1991 Classic III baseball cards.


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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

1992 High 5 Reusable Decals

This product is called a High 5 Reusable Decal. What I didn't realize until now is that it's the prototype and not the actual sticker. It was published in 1992. I'm not really sure what High 5 is or was. There were 130 stickers in the inaugural set. It appears it was the only set as I couldn't find one for 1993-5. Then I gave up.

Who's with me: Bring back wearing two hats! I wonder if there is a collector out there who just collects baseball cards where the player is wearing his field cap and batting helmet? 

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Monday, March 23, 2020

HOF Ozzie Smith

Ozzie Smith was, for his generation, Derek Jeter. But I actually think he was better than Derek Jeter. If you get a boner for WAR, Smith's was 3.5 WAR higher. 

15 times he was an All-Star
He won a single World Series (1982, much to the then American League Brewers chagrin)
13 time Gold Glove Winner
And he was the NLCS MVP.

His card lists "Padre" for 1981. I think they needed the "s" for all the references to Split Season.

Smith broke in with the Padres, just like Dave Winfield, though in 1978. He left after the 1981 season to go play in St. Louis where he finished his career 15 years later, retiring  in mid-season in 1996. Like Winfield, this card does not feature his full stats since the 82 games he played in 1996 aren't featured here.  (Smith was excluded from 1997's Topps set). 

Smith bafflingly won a Silver Slugger award in 1987 for hitting .303 with 0 home runs. Remind me again of the criteria to win the award? That's right, you can't. Smith's 182 total hits (many singles, 40 doubles, and 4 triples) didn't even lead the league. 

Smith was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2002 on his first ballot with 91.7% of the vote. He was the sole inductee that year.

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Friday, March 20, 2020

John Kruk Sportflics

Well, there is a lot going on in this 1987 Padres Team Sportflics card. The scan is just a mess but that's just fine. A lot of players are featured here but the most important one, the reason I got it, is obviously John Kruk. The other players in there are: Randy Asadoor, Steve Garvey, Tony Gwynn, Andy Hawkins, Jimmy Jones, Craig Lefferts, Shane Mack, Lance McCullers, Kevin Mitchell, Benito Santiago, and Ed Wojna. Should I start saying Lance McCullers, Sr.?

Then there is 1994's Sportflics 2000. A look to the future?

Scanning these cards is almost pointless because they do look a big fugly. In fact, I think Sportflics cards made for GIFing. If I knew how to do that I might try. But I'm a GIF virgin.

Do you store your Sportflics cards (or other lenticular beasts) in any special way to encourage them to stay as true and flat as possible?

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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

1988 Playball America

Uh-oh! Looks like I've done it again! This fancy card has white text on a black back. That's mixing it up a bit. That's challenging innovation and showing a conscientious effort! But at least this Broder-style card has Strawberry wearing the beautiful blue and orange and white of the Mets and not that West Coast team that ruined him. 

One of the things that lead to my leaving baseball card collecting, and general fandom, was when Darryl Strawberry left New York to go west. It really broke my teen-aged heart. Maybe it had to do with girls or friends, too. But I know Strawberry's not being in New York was a contributing factor.

What's more distressing for you to experience regarding a professional sports player you like? That s/he goes, simply, to another team. Or, that they go, specifically, to your mortal enemy team?

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Monday, March 16, 2020

HOF Dave Winfield

I used to regularly post beer on the blog. I don't think it was that popular, so I've decided to bring it back. 

These six beauties are:
Three Heads Brewing: The Kind (IPA, bottle, 6/8%)
Genesee Brewing Company: Spring Bock (German Bock, can, 5.2%)
Founders: Mosaic Promise (APA, can, 5.5%)
Brewdog Elvis Juice (IPA, can, 6.5%)
Sloop Brewing: Super Soft (IPA, can, 6%)
Sly Fox: Softly Falling Darkness (Oatmeal Stout, can, 5.9%)

The Super Soft has to be one of the absolute best can designs I've ever seen. I'll think of both Charmin and Care Bears when I drink it, as well as unicorns, rainbows, and show ponies. NE hazy IPA's are generally repulsive, but I thought I'd give it a go. 

Now for a baseball card.

Recently got this 1995 Topps Dave Winfield card for my Hall of Fame project, which, since it has been a while since I posted something about it, I will remind you that the project is to have the last base Topps card (if possible) of each Hall of Fame player. The project if faulty, I'll admit, because sometimes Topps didn't issue a card for a player with their last year's stats on it. Dave Winfield is a prime example because although he appeared in 46 games in 1995, he was not given the courtesy of a 1996 Topps card.

Dave Winfield played baseball for 22 seasons, breaking into the big leagues in 1973 for the San Diego Padres. After the 1980 season, he left the Padres and the National League for good playing for the Yankees (most notably) as well as the Angels, Blue Jays, Twins, and Indians.

His smile is among the most infectious in baseball.

Winfield was a 12 time All-Star, a 1992 Word Series Champion with the Blue Jays, won 7 Gold Gloves, 6 Silver Sluggers, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001, which was his first ballot. Winfield went in with Kirby Puckett, Bill Mazeroski, and Hilton Smith. Mazeroski and Smith were selected by Veterans.

The best thing about collecting Hall of Fame Players last cards is that you can get them very reasonably priced. On average I pay less than .20 cents per card. Am I cheap? Or am I practical?

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Friday, March 13, 2020

John Kruk 1995

This is John Kruk's 1995 Ultra (by Fleer) card. Believe it or not I got it in November last year.  

By the time this card was issued, Kruk was a free agent, but he later took his awesomeness to Chicago (AL)---signing for $1,000,000 on May 18, 1995---for the last year of his career. It's a shame he couldn't have finished things out in Philly. He played in 45 games, the last of which was on July 30th. (He went 1-1 with a single as the DH and was pinch hit for by Frank Thomas.) He then retired. I like, a lot, some of his stats. Career games: 1200. Career home runs: 100. Career Batting Average: .300. Solid. 

In 1994 Kruk played in just 75 games for the Phillies. He had four stolen bases and a .302 average.  1994 broke his streak of three consecutive All-Star games. 

Not sure how I feel about the card back photo of him wearing glasses. They just look weird. The vital stats are kind of hidden by his head and left shoulders. The inset color photograph is weird. The color of the back of the card also interferes with the clarity of reading the stats. Even the blue is too close to the gray. On the whole, Ultra let me down. 

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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

1986 Rob Broder

Another Rob Broder card. These things are like Gremlins or rabbits. Or they are Gremlin rabbits, which is really scary.

Check out that stance. When I play baseball I bat and throw right-handed. But I try batting left handed. Always have. Sometimes I can hit the ball far. Like 15 or 20 feet. But when I do bat lefty, to this day, I model my swing like Strawberry's. I think it must be muscle memory.

The other day I asked my nephew that when he plays a sport, if he models his moves or whatever on a professional athlete. His response was softer than crickets. Had no idea what I was talking about.  I guess he's his own "man". Did, or do, you model your stances and sports moves and whatnot off professional athletes. If anyone says Nomar's batting glove batters-box thing, I hate you.

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Monday, March 9, 2020

Baseball Card Blog Influencer

Who doesn't want to be an "Influencer"? This is what I hope will be a "Blog Bat Around".

The other day I was thinking about "desert island" things. Records, books, beers, and even baseball cards: those things you'd want with you if you were stranded on a desert island. This "bat around" though is about the baseball cards I'd want with me on that island if I was stranded. This was in part a response to my tweet showing of a Ryne Sandberg card that has always been one of my favorites. I've never had such a great response to a tweet. So thank you all! And then Jason Carter read my mind and posted a tweet asking people to share the Five Cards They'd Keep. They don't have to be rare or expensive cards. In fact, it might be better if they aren't. There's probably a better story if it's a common card that elicits a superb memory.

First and foremost: Darryl Strawberry. I probably should have selected one or two different cards, but since 1987 has to be a card I have with me who better than my favorite player. His 1983 Topps Traded and 1984 Topps cards are near misses.

Next up is 1983's Ryne Sandberg. My second favorite player growing up and this 1983 Topps is a card I have and will always cherish. When I reunited a few years ago with my baseball card collection I was astonished to see how many Sandberg cards I had. I've given a lot of them away as there were things like 72 of his '88 Donruss card and I think I have about two of everything after 1984.

I had to pick this 1956 Roberto Clemente cards because it remains, as it was around 1985 or 1986 when I got it, the most expensive baseball card I ever bought ($80) and I wanted it so badly I spent all my money to get it.

I am putting this Ken Griffey Junior card on my Desert Island cards because it's probably the best card I've ever pulled out of a pack. Yes, it's better than that 1989 Bo Diaz card in the same set. (But just barely.)

That's 4.

Number five has to be special. I'm going with another old card: Ralph Kiner. This one a black and white card that is another one of my earliest purchases. When I'm on the desert island, it'll be nice to hava throwback to a time before there was color. I was a Pirates fan in 1979 when I first became aware of baseball. They were playing my then local hometown team the Orioles in the World Series and their hats just made me like them. I was five, shut up. They remained my favorite team through circa 1983 or 1984 when Darryl Strawberry came into my awareness as a 9-10 year old. (I liked strawberries (the fruit) a lot, so it was kind of easy to gravitate to him.)


Those are my five desert island cards (today---they could very easily change tomorrow!). What are yours? If you play, please include the url to your blog post or Twitter thread in the comments.

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Friday, March 6, 2020

John Kruk 1994 part 2

The only thing better than last week's 1994 trio of John Kruk cards is this week's follow-up of four Ultra Fleer. They made a 24-card Phillies Finest insert set featuring just two players: Darren Daulton and John Kruk.

These are mostly really busy! The action shots are fun. I have most of the cards in the Kruk realm, missing just M4 at the moment. I should be interested in the Kruk autograph, but I'm just not. 

These are busy, fun baseball cards. Aren't they? It's nice they did this for a team that finished second in Major League baseball. Phillies Finest has a nice ring to it. I guess it's better than Blue Bosses?

Goodness, I just had an idea. It would be great for Topps or someone to release a insert set called Bad Aces, punning off Bad Asses. I guess they couldn't though because with no context "Bad Aces" means pitchers who should be aces but suck.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2020

First 2020 Darryl Strawberry Baseball Card!

Tom, who is the author of the always-great-to-read blog Waiting 'til Next Year and who can be found on Twitter, sent me my very first Darryl Strawberry card for 2020. The Silver Pack Promotions card, no less. The funky pattern interferes with the presentation via scanning, but I hope that doesn't ruin your enjoyment of the card.

But Tom didn't stop there. Nope. He also include a 1989 Topps Double Header card of my favorite baseball player (Darryl Strawberry).

These are scans of the "card", but this is how it presents, with the little plastic case that stands up. It's presently on a shelf by my desk next to some baseballs.

Thanks Tom!

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