Friday, February 26, 2021

John Kruk: 2006 SP Legendary Cuts

The 2006 SP Legendary Cuts card for John Kruk is a nice one. I like the sun rays/burst effect behind him. The name plate is a bit gaudy, but I do like the years he played for the club on the card. It's headstone-y but an interesting way to summarize the years of his career nonetheless. 

It makes me sad a bit that Kruk had just a ten-year baseball career but it could be that there was a lot about him that wasn't built for longevity. I love the 00's in his career stats: 

BA: .300
Games: 1200
HRs: 100

Just one double shy of 200. Ugh!

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Darryl Strawberry: 2015 Leaf Heroes of Baseball

What could possibly be better than a circa 1980s photograph of Darryl Strawberry at the plate? 


I mean look at that stance. I'm sure I've said this before but I bat righty when I hit but that didn't stop me from emulating his batting stance swagger. Oh, is it just delicious. 

This is a 2015 Leaf Heroes of Baseball baseball card. This is a 60-card set and includes a veritable who's who of baseball legends from Al Kaline to Johnny Bench to Will Clark. 

Taking the text from the back of the card, do you think Strawberry's contributions to the Mets or the Yankees was more impactful in his World Series wins? I'm leaning towards the Mets though I guess he performed well enough with those 90s Yankees.

Great picture on this card, though! 

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Monday, February 22, 2021

HOF Greg Maddux

Greg Maddux was one of those all-time no-doubt Hall of Fame pitchers. And he went in rightly on his first ballot after a 23 year career with Atlanta, the Cubs, the Dodgers, and the Padres. The Padres? Missed that! Why does it seem like all these great players have at least one season--or a partial season, with a totally off-the-wall team? His last couple of years, like Frank Thomas last week, were a palindrome, too: Dodgers-Padres-Padres-Dodgers in the seasons 2006 to 2008. 

This is Maddux's 2009 Topps card showing his full career stats. 

They are impressive but what the stats don't necessarily show is that he was a 4-time Cy Young winner, and 8-time All-Star, and 18-time Gold Glove recipient, a 4-time ERA title (ok, that shows), and was on the World Series winning 1995 Atlanta Braves. In that 1995 season, home slice went 19-2. Ridiculous. That was the last time he was given the Cy Young award and it capped four consecutive years of winning the award. 

I like the 2009 design and it forecasts the 2011 set, I think. The blue corners remind me of those little plastic things you tuck photographs into to keep them in place when mounted or framed. 

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Friday, February 19, 2021

John Kruk: 2005 Donruss Throwback Threads

This is the 2005 Donruss Throwback Threads card for John Kruk. I don't really see any threads in this card. It's not like it's a relic with a patch/swatch.  Which is should be. Or is it because Kruk's wearing an older style---"throwback"---Phillies uniform? 

I don't even know. So, ultimately, I'm confused by the name of this card/set, which was, I think, Donruss' 1,874th set in 2005. 

But what I find more confusing is John Kruk's doing the "Electric Slide" mid-game. 

One year in indoor track in high school we were having a practice inside due to inclement weather and my coach tried to make it fun by having everyone learn the Electric Slide. A teammate of mine and I couldn't sort it out so we started slam dancing. We were immediately sent home. 

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Darryl Strawberry: 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Back

2013 Allen & Ginter! Really not a fan of this product or its useless cousin, Gypsy Queen. To me they are practically the same. I much prefer PHOTOGRAPHS of players on cards. Not this "art" shit; though to be fair this at least looks like Darryl Strawberry. But this card is apparently special because it's got A & G on the back, "commemorating the original picture cards brought out in the year 1887". But, what the heck, for .18 cents, who cares? 

This is me selling out for variations. This is me acquiring, for all intents and purposes, a duplicate baseball card for a slight difference just to add another card to my Darryl Strawberry PC in the attempt to get one card closer to 1,000. (Though at the time I got it I still hadn't reached 900, which I've since blown passed.)

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Monday, February 15, 2021

HOF Frank Thomas

It was nice of Topps to put Oakland Athletics legend Frank Thomas' name on the front of his final base Topps cards. Though it's hard enough to see in this scan, it is there. 

After 1997 Frank Thomas didn't lead the lead in any card-back stat, but his first 8 years were mighty fine. He won a batting title in '97, he was MVP twice, he was a four-time Silver Slugger, a five-time All-Star, and he was a really big guy. He still is. His MVPs were in back-to-back years, 1993 and 1994 (and in neither year was he the league leader in RBI or HR). And just one American league player has won that award in consecutive years since: Miguel Cabrera in 2012 and 2013. 

Frank Thomas was a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee and he went in with two amazeballs pitchers: John Smoltz and Tom Glavine. He earned 83.7% of the vote, behind 97.2 and 91.9 for the former teammates, respectively. That is a pretty exciting group of players. 

Interesting factoid is that Thomas' last four years are a palindrome, of sorts: OAK, TOR, TOR, OAK. 

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Friday, February 12, 2021

John Kruk: 2005 Donruss Greats

Happy Belated Birthday John Kruk! 

Say what? A post-career card of John Kruk wearing something Padres?  That's crazy. I almost wonder if more people know he played for the Padres or the White Sox? As I think many, if not most, think of him with tobacco stains and mullets as a member of the filthy Phillies. 

This is the 2005 Donruss Greats card for Mr. Kruk. It's a beautiful card. I get the brightness of the bat but it just feels a tad bit overexposed. I totally love the complete career stats on the back. I'm sure there was some text they could have used, but chances are likely that it might have been some kind of boring, boilerplate material. Let the stats do the talking. His last season and a bit with the Padres really hurt his all time batting average, which would have been higher than the respectable .300, had he done better. Pujols is similar. Had he been able to retire a few years ago, his numbers would be, possibly, that much more impressive. 

Donruss Greats is a 150 card set.  The set rightly, and wisely, included Darryl Strawberry.

You've seen the Kruk and the Strawberry. Do you collect a player that is in the set? Do you like the card design?

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Darryl Strawberry: 2005 Topps Rookie Cup



Heinous card design from front to back, but Topps somehow limited themselves to a set of just 160 cards. I like the post-swing image of Strawberry used on the card. Frankly anything Mets will be nicer looking than Dodgers, Giants, and Yankees. 

The set is actually a nice mix of players, both well-known and probably under-appreciated. I wish Topps featured more variance in the players it uses year-to-year, but I'm sure there are things like contracts and what not that prevent them from issuing a more diverse checklist. 

Do you have any cards from this set? Do you like its design? I'm not really that impressed with it. And I think, in general, the placement of things like Rookie Cups needs to be in either the lower left or lower right corner.  I don't like this hanging out in the middle of the card.

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Monday, February 8, 2021

HOF Eddie Murray

I am sure that one could be a fan of both Eddie Murray and his longtime teammate Cal Ripken, Jr. But growing up as I did in the Orioles market,  I was totally on Team Murray. Murray is a first ballot Hall of Famer who was inducted in the class of 2003. He earned 85.3% of the vote. Not overwhelming, compared to those that appear on, say, 93% or more, but a solid percentage which leaves no doubt. 

The below is Murray's last base Topps card from 1997. He could have earned a 1998 card, but was not issued one, playing in just 55 games that year. While he played with the Orioles in 1996, she later ended his career playing for both the Angels and Dodgers of Anaheim Los Angeles, Los Angeles Anaheim. Which is in California, I'm told. 

I really dig that he was card 333 as no matter which of the five teams he played for in his career, Murray wore number 33. I wish they would have given him card 33, but they issued that to Kevin Tapani for some reason. Murray won 3 Silver Sluggers and the same number of Gold Gloves. He won one World Series (1983), Rookie of the Year (1977), and was an eight time All-Star. He hit 504 home runs which is nothing to shake your fist at. His fierce looks and mutton chops I think intimidated a lot of people.  

Possibly the highlight of Murray's career, slightly edging out the World Series, is having an the IPA "Steady Eddie" named for him by Union Craft Brewing. 

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Friday, February 5, 2021

John Kruk: 2005 Donruss Champions and more

John Kruk, like Darryl Strawberry and 448 others, was included in the 2005 Donruss Champions set. But it being 2005 and Donruss, there are 13 insert and 11 parallel sets, in addition to a proof set. Ugh. Good luck. 

I love the maroon color dominating this card as it's not only a beautiful color, but also the throwback to pre-1992 days when their switched to red. 

In addition to the above, I wanted to show off a surprise pack that P-Town Tom sent me last week. It was a fat pack of 1990 Fleer with John Kruk on the front. The pack has 33 cards and 3 stickers for a total of 36 pieces of cardboard. 

Yes, I opened it. I felt badly doing so; I felt weird doing so. But I felt compelled to. I had not opened a pack of anything in probably two years. I'm glad I did as the cards were fun to look at. Kruk was the highlight and without a doubt and inarguably the best player, too. Here are the cards and stickers in order of appearance in the pack:

Left hand side: John Kruk (Phillies), Mookie Wilson (Blue Jays), Bobby Bonilla (Pirates), Gary Gaetti (Twins), Darrin Jackson (Padres), Lance McCullers (Yankees), Bob Forsch (Astros), Chili Davis (Angels), Junior Felix (Blue Jays), John Orton (Angels) and Scott Leius (Twins), Ramon Martinez (Dodgers), Kevin Reimer (Rangers), Tim Raines (Expos), Bo Jackson (Royals), Willie Fraser (Angles), and Shane Rawley (Twins). 

Right hand side: Jose Gonzalez (Dodgers), Geno Petralli (Rnagers), Dave Martinex (Expos), Mark Gubicza (Royals), Dante Bichette (Angels), Al Newman (Twins), Dean Wilkins (Cubs), Frank Tanana (Tigers), Bruce Hurst (Padres), Dale Murphy (Braves, Players of the Decade), Frank Williams (Tigers), Jeff Hamilton (Dodgers), Brian Holton (Orioles), Glenn Davis (Astros), Bob Welch (A's), Rob Kittle (White Sox), and Chris Hammond (Reds). 

Lots of teams represented, even some father's of current players (McCullers & Bichette). I wonder if Bob Forsch has any sons in baseball? If so, they'd be Bob Forsch kin. Ba-dum, ching. Al Newman looks so suave and cool, especially compared to Dean Wilkins, his card neighbor.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Darryl Strawberry: 2005 Donruss Team Heroes and more

In 2005, another Donruss set was Team Heroes. This is the Darryl Strawberry card in that 400 card set. 

The designs a bit different, but the photograph is glorious. When it comes to card backs and Donruss I don't expect much concerning stats and my expectations were met. Because some of those stats still stand, or because he's in the top ten in most offensive categories, is it possible to say that Darryl Strawberry is the greatest Mets hitter of all time? I think so. His eight years with the Mets were the most impactful when compared to that same stretch of time for other players. Is that me being a selective historian?

I wanted to show off, also, some cards that I recently got from Kin. The BIG 5x7 Allen and Ginter is from 2018. I  happily bought that one, but the rest of the cards were all generously given. The 1989 Donruss was a variation I needed (I scanned my other one of this, too); and the 2018 Chrome Refractor was also new. There were two Strawberry's and 1 Kruk's, I think, that were upgrades. Very happy! Thanks Kin!

The above Strawberry card--from the border colors on the front to the colors on the back--looks like Halloween. Don'tcha think? Well, funnily enough I'm reading a book right now (The Professor by Charlotte Brontë, published in 1857) and in it she writes of a "Jack-o'-Lanthorn". And I was like hold on a sec... and sure enough a lanthorn is an archaic way of spelling lantern. In addition to meaning a man with a lantern, or ignis fatuus (foolish fire), it can also mean "something misleading or elusive"

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Monday, February 1, 2021

HOF Dennis Eckersley

As compared to last week's card, this weeks is relative no brainer. Dennis Eckersley's twenty-four year career with five teams--Oakland, Boston, the Cubs, Cleveland, and St. Louis--is a hall of fame career and not just because he was an MVP and a Cy Young (1992), a six-time All-Star, one a single World Series (1989), was the MVP of the ALCS MVP, and was the Rolaids Relief picture of the year twice. 

How many other players have won either their first MVP or Cy Young in their 18th year of Major Leagues baseball, let alone winning both awards at the same time? And doing so as a flippin' closer?

Eckersley converted from a started to a closer after the 1986 season. And I suspect this is the reason why he was elected into the HOF. He had three career saves before 1987 and from 1987 to 1998, home boy secured the win for and additional 387 games. 

He's currently seventh all time in saves. When he retired he was probably second after Lee Smith, but he's been passed by HOFers Rivera and Hoffman, as well as non-HOFers like John Franco, Francisco Rodriguez, and Billy Wagner. 

Do you feel Franco, Rodriguez and Wagner are HOFers or should be in the HOF? I'm ambivalent but I feel like if you're in the top five or so all-time of your position you do deserve some serious consideration.

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