Friday, January 29, 2021

John Kruk: 2004 Fleer Greats of the Game

I don't think John Kruk was, overall, a great baseball player but I think he was very very good. I wish he had a longer career, but so many things factored into shortening it. Nevertheless, Kruk was honored by Fleer in 2004 by being included in its Greats of the Game set. It was a 145 card set that starts with Lou Gerhig and ends with Carlton Fisk. Some players, like Fisk, are in there twice.  Including the double appearances, there are 84 cards which depict Hall of Famers. Though it's not totally chronological. And it lacks Darryl Strawberry, who was arguably better than Ray Knight and Bo Jackson, both of whom have cards in the set. 

I dig the silhouette on the card back of the image on the front. It almost makes the card look transparent; ghostly for sure. There is a SN Blue parallel set that, curiously, has unequal numbers of cards per SN. Kruk is SN to 93, for example, but Tim McCarver is SN to 500. I do wonder how this was determined. Anyone know? I don't have the blue parallel, but will try to get it soon.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Darryl Strawberry: 2005 Donruss Greats

2004 to 2006 was a messy time to be a baseball collector. This was the period when Topps was about to monopolize the market and set makers like Donruss, Fleer, and Upper Deck were losing it's ability to good baseball cards with team names, logos, etc. Donruss put out 14 major releases. Upper Deck, 18. This is not including inserts or "related sets" which I think muddies the waters. 

This here card is the 2005 Donruss Greats for Darryl Strawberry. There is also a Signature Platinum HoloFoil card, too. I got a sample of that from Bob Walk the Plank back in 2018.

But the base card is nice because it doesn't have the autograph sticker placed over his crotch area like a censorship label. Full stats on the back are nice; and the design of the card from front to back is elegant. 

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Monday, January 25, 2021

"HOF" Harold Baines

I've committed to collecting the final Topps cards of baseball players voted into the Hall of Fame. Even if, like Harold Baines, they are questionably inducted members. 

This is Baines' 2001 Topps card, depicting him back among the brethren of the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox was one of five teams he played for, the other's being Baltimore, Oakland, Texas, and Cleveland. He's likely the epitome of an American League only player. Chris Davis of the Orioles is another one, for the modern players. 

Baines played in 31 postseason games, his teams going 2-6 in eight series. 

Baines won a whopping single Silver Slugger and was a six-time All-Star. In standard batting statistics, he was a league leader ONE TIME in ONE CATEGORY his entire career. In 1984 he slugged .541. He was mostly known as a DH, though he played each of the three outfield positions during his twenty-two year career (from 1980 to 2001). 

He received MVP votes in four seasons finishing 20th, 10th, 13th, and 9th, respectively, in 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1985. 

He was inducted by the Veterans committee in 2019. In his years of eligibility, starting in 2007, he received 5.3%, 5.2%, 5.9%, 6.1%, and 4.8% of votes He fell off after 2011. In fact, when the Veterans committee voted him in, he was still technically eligible to have been on the ballot if he had maintained at least 5% of the vote. But he couldn't even do that! HOF my ass. 

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Friday, January 22, 2021

John Kruk: 2003 Topps All Time Fan Favorites

The 1993 Topps design is attractive. They paid homage to it--and many other of its prior iterations--in 2003 by issuing an All Time Fan Favorites. It's a 150 card set depicting players on a variety of historical Topps designs. It features a different image than the original 1993 Kruk, and I much prefer this one. The cropping is better.  And nearly anytime there is a photograph of an active swing with the ball present in the frame, too, I'm rather in awe. 

The back image is different, too. And conversely I much prefer the first one.  And, the back of the card shows Kruk's stats for his time with the Phillies from 1989 to 1994. I do not like that at all. But I'm glad though that the didn't simply reuse the card back as it was in '93, but changed the stats as well as the text. 

Happy Friday!

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Darryl Strawberry: 2004 Upper Deck Yankees Classics

No, this is not an official police mugshot of Darryl Strawberry, but I can see how and why you would be thinking that. This is, though, his 2004 Upper Deck Yankees Classics card.

With only ten years worth of stats that's a decent amount of time, but it does sadly exclude Strawberry's best years, which are alluded to in the text. Strawberry was on four NY-based World Series teams.

It would have been a nice touch to have the background image on the back be Strawberry at the plate because I do not think it is.  

It's a 90-card set. The last four cards scream New York Yankees: Times Square, Central Park, Empire State Building, and Statue of Liberty. I remember that walk off Central Park hit back in '82. I don't know about you, but I'm fairly certain I could think of four more deserving Yankees than that!

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Monday, January 18, 2021

HOF Rickey Henderson

Voted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2009, Rickey Henderson received 94.8% of the vote. He played for nine teams in his career, most of which with the Oakland A's (14 seasons). In his last year, 2003, he played for the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles.  In fact, from 2000 to 2003, he played for five different teams: Mets, Mariners, Padres, Red Sox, and Dodgers. Interestingly, he never played for a "Central" division teams: just east coast and west coast. Must've accumulated a lot of frequent flyer miles. 

This card here is from 2003's Topps set. He was not issued a 2004 sunset card. This is actually a rather sad looking card, I think. It shows Henderson squatting in the on deck circle, looking down pensively towards the ground. Summoning something? Magic to his bat? Reflecting upon his career which began in 1979? 

Henderson was the MVP in 1990; a 10 time All-Star (the last of which was in 1991); won a gold glove; some silver sluggers, and two World Series (1989 with Oakland and 1993 with Toronto). 

What I think about when I think about Henderson is those 1,406 stolen bases. He led the league in that category nine times. Just the same number as Ferris Bueller's school absences! In addition to having more stolen bases than anyone in the history of baseball, he has more runs scored than anyone and was also caught stealing more than anyone. Secondly, even though he played 14 years with the A's (in four different stints), I think of him oddly as a Yankee.  

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Friday, January 15, 2021

John Kruk: 1995 Ultra Gold Medallion

I do not know about you, but when I think about the 1990s, I think about medallions. The 1990s were dominated by them on baseball cards.  This is the 1995 Ultra (Fleer) Gold Medallion card for John Kruk but enough about the commonplace medallion, let's concentrate on not one, not two, but three photographs of the studmuffin. 

One on the front, clearly a pop up--probably an infield fly rule kind. And then two on the back: a black and white photograph fielding at first base which is such a work of art it should be in a museum, and the a small color inset photograph from the upper shin up. Which is good because everyone knows that Kruks' ankles are legendarily racy. 

The blue color for the name plate and team on the front is awful, and just one year of stats on the back is too, but otherwise this is a nice looking card. I don't know if it's intentional but it's kind of poor taste in placement having the 1B be right below Kruk's crotch and him having had testicular cancer leading to the removal of one of his testes, leaving him with "1 ball".  

Three photographs of Kruk!  Wonderful! 

What's the strangest thing you've ever collected? I used to save toenail clippings and skin that peeled off my foot when my foot was growing. Am I proud of this? Not really.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Darryl Strawberry: 2004 SP Legendary Cuts

2004 and 2005 and 2006 were obscene for baseball cards. If I remember correctly that's about the time that Topps became the monopoly. Legendary Cuts was produced by Upper Deck and is a part of their Cooperstown Collection. Sadly because Strawberry's career went slightly off the rails getting cards with Cooperstown on the back is the closest he might get to the "Hall".

This is a sharp looking card and it's made better by the presence on the back of the Mets city skyline logo. 

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Monday, January 11, 2021

HOF Barry Larkin

Barry Larkin was voted into the Hall of Fame on his third ballot in 2012 with 86.4%. His first two years were 51% and 62%, respectively. He was the only person voted into the Hall of Fame that year. 

Larkin was a career Cincinnati Reds shortstop, though he appeared at a DH in three total games 1997 and 2000. He also played second base in three games. 19 year years with that team. Wonderful! 

Larkin was a 12 time All-Star, an MVP (1995), won the World Series in 1990, and won a number of Gold Gloves and Silver Slugger awards. 

At the end of the 2004 season, Larkin was granted free agency and retired. He worked for the Nationals and ESPN as a baseball analyst from 2011 to 2014. That was the heydey of the program for me as I loved him on the program (and Kruk as well). 

The below is Larkin's last Topps card in 2004. Love the full body shot, nicely framed in the card with an line-drawn outline mirroring Larkin in the bottom left. The front of the card seems rather...busy? Even though it really actually isn't.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Darryl Strawberry: 1997 Score

Score, too, got on the parallel train. I guess there was peer pressure. The below two Darryl Strawberry cards are from 1997. The top is "Premium Stock" and the bottom is "Showcase Series".

I like the pure white back with black font; the transparent old-timey Yankees hat & bat logo is subtle and pretty. We get full stats on the back though the font is small and, as well, four lines of text. That's maximizing the space and Score was keeping the faith on something it tended to do well from the beginning which is having good amounts of writing on the back. What's more they have fielding statistics at the bottom and splits on the right side. 

There's a lot to lover about the card backs here; the front of the cards? Nice action shot. The "Showcase" case looks better in person and the PS foil-stamp-thing just kind of looks like Strawberry's pooping a football.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2021

1995 Topps CyberStats: John Kruk and Darryl Strawberry

I was really excited to get this CyberStats card that Topps put out for John Kruk; though frankly the design of the card makes it really hard to determine what those crazy cyber stats are as there are no column headers. 

But you have to read the fine print! The stats aren't real! They are "computer-simulated data for games of August 12, 1994 through the scheduled conclusion of the 1994 season". What a crock of horse shit! It's like the modern-day "advanced" stats that "adjust" or "weight" various things for players. Cockamamie. None of that's real. I don't think. 

Anyway, this is a great post-swing shot of Kruk. He looks fairly three-dimensional.  Must be that "spectralight" effect.

Strawberry has one in the set, too, and I got that in 2016 and appear to have show it off in a post. So here that is:

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Monday, January 4, 2021

Darryl Strawberry: 1997 Leaf

Leaf in the 1980s, for me, wasn't really that desirable. Honestly, though I had some of them, and some Donruss, they kind of had an air of the red-headed step-child. I was a Topps guy. But at some point I guess maybe Leaf because its own thing? I don't know when it happened--I could look it up, but I'm not going to right now.

This is Darryl Strawberry's 1997 Leaf card. He's got an awful lot of tape on his left fingers. And I like the mid-trot shot. And on the back, he's racing home from third base, his keen eye following the the location of the ball. 

I like, also, that two different uniforms are represented (even if those uniforms are for the Yankees). 

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Friday, January 1, 2021

John Kruk: 1994 Upper Deck Fun Pack

One thing is for sure, they probably couldn't make cards like this any longer. Seems like this would be politically incorrect or insensitive or both. Seems like caricature and satire are not en vogue. Like, for example, no way a show like The Office could be made. I'm surprised it's airing as re-runs sometimes. Now that being said I have no problem with the show or its content. Ever. The whole Topps 2020 Project thing is so awful I find it more offensive than anything on The Office. 

Anyway, this is the 1994 Upper Deck Fun Pack card for John Martin Kruk. He has three cards in the Fun Pack set. Which seems just about right. Because Kruk is fun.

It is pretty awful. Just like the promoted Twitter ads. Anyone else supremely annoyed by those?

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