Tuesday, September 11, 2018

2018 trade package #19: Scribbled Ink

I enjoyed one of my best blogger meet-ups yet a few Sundays ago when I joined Paul from Scribbled Ink and the eponymous John of John's Big League Baseball Blog in attending Alan Trammell's number retirement ceremony on August 26.
I'll pretty much defer to Paul's outstanding pictures from our seats in the Kaline's Corner section of right field, but I snapped a few shots myself.  This was the scoreboard as we waited for things to begin.  The "72 degrees" temperature was wildly inaccurate considering the muggy weather, but it didn't stop us from having a great time.
Tram joined Morris, who'd enjoyed the same honor earlier in the month.  Unfortunately Paul and I arrived just a hair too late to snag the promotional giveaway jersey--it was like Black Friday up in there--but the occasion was enough by itself for us to have a great time.  The speeches by Lou Whitaker and Trammell himself were great and really highlighted why they continue to be revered a couple decades after retiring.
The game itself was pretty typical for 2018.  Overpriced flop Jordan Zimmermann continued his reign of terror, putting the game practically out of reach for the stalled offense by allowing five runs, including a two-run shot a handful of rows behind us.  And at-that-time uninjured future star Michael Kopech showed why he was so highly regarded, stymieing Detroit's hitters for six solid innings.  Fortunately Detroit kept it somewhat interesting by loading the bases a couple times, even if they couldn't capitalize.

A particular highlight for us was a ninth inning HR by SS Ronny Rodriguez that barely eluded our section and went into the tunnel, where it was hoarded by staff working down there.  John and Paul are clearly visible in the video replay while I'm obscured by the foul pole (which is fine--I got some screen time a while back thanks to a Rajai Davis walk-off slam!).  John's the circled guy while Paul is the dude wearing the Detroit jersey.

So all in all it was a great time and I think we're all itching to do this again next year, maybe even with others involved.

A positive outcome of this event was Paul and I swapping some cards.  He brought a bunch of surprises to go with a couple things I'd claimed, and I'm very excited with what I ended up with:
It's the namesakersons!  Grandy is from the '07 Topps Generation Now insert set I'm chasing while JV is an Orange parallel (#189/299) from 2017 Topps Fire.
PC guy Rich Hill had just bested fellow PC guy Clayton Richard a couple days before this game so it was fun to see an autograph of the former pop up here.  As with the rest of his cards produced in 2009 he appears as a member of the Orioles on this Topps Career Best auto.  That came out a year before his first tour of duty with the Red Sox, after which he bounced around between LA, New York, and indy ball.  Things turned around from there and the rest is history!
Dual-sport star Drew Henson was the surprise star of the package thanks to these six cards.  The RC from 2001 Fleer Platinum plus the Fleer Tradition This Day in History insert from the following year were both new to me, with the latter joining up nicely with the autographed version I own.  The others are quite nice as well, including the Triple Crown RC which is numbered /2999.  I shouldn't be too surprised a local guy like Paul came up with these for me, though!
The Barry Larkin pile was almost as good in quantity with this cool five-spot.  A brand spanking new 2018 Archives base was a nice touch but I'm especially excited about getting the pair of 1998 Pinnacle Inside Stand-up Guys inserts that comprise this piece:
This product's can packaging and inserts like this were literally outside the box in an era where cards were fun, prior to a Topps monopoly seemingly imposed by the Dolores Umbridge of collecting.  Anyway, Barry's in good company on these cards, too, joined by the likes of Nomar, Jeter, and A-Rod.  Anytime I can add something like this to my collection it's a win, so bonus points to Paul here.
Here's one last trio of Michigan Baseball guys in my PC:  Hal Morris ('89 Donruss), J.J. Putz (2011 Topps Diamond Anniversary) and Chris Sabo (1994 Score Rookie/Traded) rounded out a very nice bunch of cards I didn't know I was getting.
But what I was prepared to haul home, thanks to Paul being nice enough to tote them to Detroit and then to Greektown from his parking spot, was this pair of sets:  1989 and '92 Topps.  He'd grabbed them on the cheap at a show and I claimed them as I continue to try to fill out Topps' flagship products from 1983 (when I was born) to some endpoint, maybe 2010 since I don't care about the more recent versions.  Thanks to Paul, plus arpsmith earlier this year, I'm one set away from that goal:  1990.

While I try to track that down I'll do up posts for each of these sets similar to the ones I did for the four I grabbed from Adam back in January.

Once again, a big thanks to Paul for bringing all of this great stuff, and to both Paul and John for a fun day at the ballpark.  I'll see you guys there next year, and hopefully sooner too, maybe for a show!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

2018 Sportlots purchases: a mountain of Maddux

It's about time I put this series to bed so I can get to the three(!) trade packages that are waiting for well-deserved screen time.  Please enjoy today's post:  the big finish starring Mr. Greg Maddux!
The "S"s have it here, with Stadium Club, Studio, SP, Sportflics, and, uh, SPinnacle!, especially Topps' best brand.  The top row includes a card from each year of 1991-93, the second is entirely '93, and '94 claims the bottom row.  You can see that my concerted effort to fill in some holes in PCs from my favorite products really paid off.
More '94s--the first five cards here--plus some from 1995.  The top three are repeat brands but card #1 in the second row is an insert about which I was ignorant: a Topps Traded finest chase card.  Pretty cool!  '95 chips in, among other things, a Leaf Great Gloves insert and Sportflix with an "X"!
UD's flagship '95 product finishes off that year and is in the midst of my favorite run of the product, from 1994-98.  '96's editions of Bowman's Best, Stadium Club, Studio, and UD are again top tier.  And you probably recognize the Classic Confrontations insert from previous posts in this series.  Maddux is the only pitcher in that group so you get to see how he fared against some of the more notable hitters around then.  Check out the back for yourself but briefly, he had the most success against Andres Galarraga and David Justice, and hated facing Tony Gwynn and Barry Bonds.
Now we start getting into the "more variety era" where brands experimented with lots of different ideas, often to the benefit of collectors (hint HINT, MLBPA).  Multiple examples of Donruss Preferred and Fleer's collaboration with SI--especially those cover cards!--along with perennial great E-X go well with stalwarts like Stadium Club and Finest, even if the latter is one of the worst designs in the product's run, in my opinion.
Here 1998 finishes on a strong note with a typically outstanding Stadium Club design, the always exciting Topps Gold, and Fleer's beautiful Ultra Artistic Talents insert that I've mentioned in this space previously as a great value.  The next row is a 1999 trio of mid-end Topps products in Bowman Chrome and Best--again, my least favorite design--plus an improvement from finest.  The bottom continues my big run on Sports Illustrated cards in this series, including a Headliners insert which notes on the back that between 1995 and '97, Mad Dog had fewer walks allowed compared to the number of starts he made.  That's crazy!
One of my all-time favorites, Upper Deck's Century Legends, leads off this scan with double the fun in the form of one card each with both of his main teams.  Year 2000 highlights include Bowman's Best--a huge improvement over the previous year's version--Fleer Showcase, and yet another Stadium Club look that gets high marks from me.
Everything here (plus the Absolute Memorabilia card above) comes from 2001, and it was a very good year for Maddux cardboard.  There's plenty more designs to enjoy, especially Bowman's Best (another favorite), Donruss Classics, Fleer Focus and Showcase, and Topps Gallery (bring it back!  The right way!).  Mixed in is another insert I was happy to grab on the cheap:  Stadium Club Capture the Action.  It's kind of like an alternate design of the base set and I like it a lot.
Donruss out of nowhere!  A five-card run of that manufacturer here includes the always-great Diamond Kings and Classics, plus the Archives-like Originals.  I think I'm short one of Maddux's entries in this set but did nab the ones utilizing designs from 1982, '84, and '88.  A Fleer pair of Flair and Showcase plus Finest and another amazing Gallery look make this a contender for best scan of the post.
Here's a hodgepodge of 2002-03 stuff.  Favorites include UD's 40-Man and World Series Heroes, Fleer Showcase once again, and the unfortunately one-and-done Playoff Portraits.  Though the latter is kind of superfluous due to Diamond Kings it feels like it has its own thing going and I wish it would have lasted longer.
2003 concludes here with Prestige and Studio designs I can appreciate, plus Ultra and Upper Deck base looks that are similar enough that I keep confusing them!  Donruss and Fleer are a great way to kick off 2004 thanks to Diamond Kings (not as good as the '03 version) and another Braves/Cubs twofer out of Classics, along with Flair and a really cool Showcase design.  You couldn't ask for a better card if you were a Braves fan.
And he's back with the Cubs!  Just a couple in the last scan reflected his return in 2004, but almost everything here gets it right.  Studio's 2004 iteration opens things with a kickass design featuring Maddux looming over the Windy City, and another excellent version from 2005 sits a couple cards below.  Diamond Kings returns with the reverse twofer, and Mad Dog looks great on a Donruss Greats card as well, though it's clear Fleer was the top dog when it came to a set with that name.  Heritage makes one of several appearances here as well.
Now we get into the weirdness of the one-plus seasons Maddux pitched with San Diego at the tail end of his career.  That's captured on five of these seven offerings, most of which came out from 2007-09, the best of which are 2008's Topps Heritage and UD Masterpieces.  An '09 Upper Deck base gets Greg once more with the Dodgers in his second LA stint, after which he retired.  Then we jump all the way ahead to 2016 and a nice throwback to Stadium Club, which throws it back to Maddux's heyday with the Braves.
When it comes to sports cards, goalies and pitchers are often the biggest beneficiaries of horizontal cards, so I'm happy to have a bunch to show off tonight.  There's plenty of variety, starting with Denny's Holograms from 1995 and '96, produced by UD and Pinnacle.  As always:  garbage food, great cards.  I snuck in another pair of inserts:  a '95 Leaf Checklists issue and '96 Fleer Smooth Leather.  Dude did pile up those Gold Gloves after all.  '96 base cards from Pinnacle Aficionado and Stadium Club sew up this group.
And we end this post (and the series) with a few more cards I really liked.  '97 Upper Deck remains my favorite set that I don't own, and I should rectify that at some point.  The '99 Topps Gallery base has one of my favorite photos in the entire series (not to mention one of the best designs):  a sliding Maddux with Pirates infielder Kevin Polcovich succumbing to gravity on an almost-Tatooine card.  And I grabbed that last insert, from 2003 Fleer Tradition Milestones, because I think his run of 15-win seasons is one of the cooler accomplishments of the game's recent history.

In a completely unintended twist of fate, this 100-plus bunch of Maddux cards bumps his PC to 567 items, or the exact same number in Tony Gwynn's.  Not bad at all.

This was a great run that once again proved the value of Sportlots and gave me plenty of post fodder, enough that I procrastinated heavily while finishing up showing off cards on both blogs.  But now it's done and I'll be moving on to some fun new trade posts soon!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

2018 Sportlots purchases: Tons of Tony

It's time for the penultimate post in this Sportlots series and today I'm #gwynning.  It's all Mr. Padre today for you Tony Gwynn fans, so enjoy some cardboard (and other material) spanning 1986-2017!
This is a scan only a certain tertiary adjunct of unimatrix 01 could appreciate /VOYAGER'd.  Yep, seven of nine cards you see here are Sportflics, with #s 1, 2, 6, and 9 representing solo shots hailing from 1986, '87, '88, and '94, respectively.  #2 and 3 are from '87 and include Dave Parker and Kevin Bass (best NL RF) and Wade Boggs/George Brett/Hubie Brooks/Tim Raines/Ryne Sandberg ("The Players Poll").  The Padres card is also from '87, in this case a Team Preview set, and that one co-stars 11 other players, three in each corner.  '93 cards from SP and Studio round out this group.  By the way, the back of the SP card helpfully states, "Gwynn confused onlookers by donning Padres pitcher Scott Sanders' jersey for a spring training game."
Another Studio base is the second and final '94 representative, then 1995 kicks off with a Leaf Limited trio that includes the Bat Patrol insert plus a Gold parallel, which actually uses a different photo.  After a Score parallel (one of a couple you'll see today) is an Upper Deck trio comprising SP and both of Tony's SP Championship bases.  For as many of my PC guys that are in the latter I'm probably a decent way towards completing it!  One of Gwynn's Stadium Club subset issues ends this scan.
A base card from the solid '95 UD design is the end of that year's stuff, then 1996 starts out with the excellent fourth-year version of Finest, another Score parallel, and one of my favorite Studio designs of all time.  You really couldn't go wrong from '96 on, in my opinion.  After that is a nice Topps trio of the Classic Confrontations insert, Gallery, and Laser.  The Laser experiment didn't work, but kudos to Topps for trying something different--and at least Gallery didn't get tossed into the cardboard scrap heap!  And in case you're curious, the insert covers Gwynn's stats against "aces" like John Smoltz (.468 AVG, 2 each of 2B/3B/HR, 9 RBI) and John Smiley (.200 AVG).  Then we get a look at the first two of a trio of base cards from one of my favorite UD flagship sets I don't own (with '97 being the other).  The "Young at Heart" subset is especially fun.
Tony's regular base appearance--and a supremely cool one at that--is the last of the '96 items, and then we get a brief look at 1997.  I remember first seeing Bowman Chrome's debut at a mall show and still like the design today.  That year's Studio look is another winner as is the second year of Topps Gallery.  And there's an example of the greatness of '97 UD and its cool commemorative stamps, plus the fun die-cut Star Attractions insert.

Moving on to '98, Bowman Chrome still featured a pretty nice look, plus I grabbed the base product's International parallel with it.  And one of that year's highlights was the mind-bending E-X2001 design, half of which was a weird foil pattern with the rest being acetate, all on a super thick card!
This is a fun scan that begins and ends with the same brand.  The '98 version of Fleer's Flair Showcase (Row 3) leads off, and that's followed by a couple more cards from that manufacturer's partnership with Sports Illustrated.  '98 closes with a stunning SP Authentic base plus excellent cards from Topps Gallery and Gold Label (Class 1).  A little 1999 run includes Bowman's Best plus returning brands Finest and Showcase.  As usual with some of these Finest cards I'm often torn between peeling them and leaving them, with the best option probably getting a second copy to peel!
There's plenty more of my favorite brands to see here including more of Sports Illustrated, Topps Gallery, and Topps Gold Label.  Each of those had a design I liked at least to some degree every time they were produced.  They're joined by two final 1999 UD offerings:  another top set for me in Century Legends plus Ultimate Victory.

Then the entirety of my 2000 haul was mostly a Topps affair with a Pacific base interrupting a run of Finest, Gallery, and HD.  The Gallery card is the fifth of Gwynn's five-card run from '96-2000, and I'm fortunate to own his 2003 card as well.  HD was also a very, very nice looking product though definitely not worth the high wax price.
Bowman Chrome and Donruss Classics make a nice pair of cards to open up a multi-scan run on 2001 that then goes into a Fleerstravaganza of brands from that year:  E-X, Focus, Genuine, Premium, and Showcase, with Focus and Showcase owning the best designs in my opinion.  Mid-end products Leaf Limited and SP Authentic are a nice way to close out the scan but we're not quite done with 2001 yet...
...because first we need to cover cards from another of Studio's best designs plus a very nice look for Ultra.  It's possible '96 is my favorite overall Studio base design but this one is very high on the list as well.

At this point we start getting into cards produced after Gwynn retired so there's a bit more jumping around.  2002 is represented by an Ultra design I don't care for quite as much paired with a great photo, plus a base from one of UD's cooler one-and-dones, World Series Heroes.  After that we get lots of appearances in sets that tend to focus on retired legends:  '03 Sweet Spot Classics, '04 Greats of the Game and SP Legendary Cuts, and '05 Leaf Century and UD Past Time Pennants.  I've always been partial to the Sweet Spot and Legendary Cuts brands but for my money nothing tops the base offerings from Greats of the Game.  As you can see Fleer was on top of their game with this framed design and vintage photo!
One last card, UD's Sweet Spot Classic, fits in well with the stuff above, then we jump into the current decade with four Panini items and one from Topps.  2015 Archives is the example of the latter while the former is responsible for 2012 Cooperstown, 2015 Diamond Kings, 2017 Diamond Kings' DK Originals insert, and Donruss flagship from the same year.  The recent iterations of DK prove that the brand doesn't have to be low-end just because they lack the MLB license, and I continually appreciate that they offer some solid alternatives to Topps' mailed-in efforts of late.
Here's one more scan that starts and ends with the same brand, this time in horizontal form!  The first column is all Stadium Club with cards from '92 Dome, '96, and 2015.  The other two hail from 1995 Leaf's Checklists insert and Sports Illustrated's World Series Fever set from 1998.

And still we're not quite done yet because there's one oddball item left to look at:
As in the Griffey post last week I have another Collect-a-Books to show off!  This is the 1990 version, and of course it's worth seeing all it has to offer:
As you can see this purchase treated Gwynn's collection very nicely, adding more than 80 new items to give him a milestone-breaking total of 567, good enough for fourth place behind Ripken, Griffey, and Larkin...at least for now!  One player remains in this series and it's the one who got the most cards added to his collection.  The big finish will be posted soon, and have you figured out who it is?  Stay tuned!

Monday, August 20, 2018

2018 Sportlots purchases: A-toZ PCs

Before I cover the last two single-player posts I'm going to use this one to show off the rest of the PC guys for whom I mostly just picked up a handful of cards (or even just one!).  They didn't fit the Tigers/Reds theme from a couple posts ago but they do share one thing in common:  all are former Wolverines, which isn't a surprise since the vast majority of my PCs are Michigan guys.

So here's a bunch of different players, some of whom I hope you recognize:
Jim Abbott is surely one of the most well known guys in this post and it didn't take much luck to turn up eight new cards of the one-handed wonder.  There's a nice mix of oddball--'90 Topps Magazine and '96 Angels Mother's--base, including a cool pairing with Nolan Ryan from '92 Pinnacle, and parallels, especially '96 Pinnacle Starburst.  I now count 259 cards in his collection.
Previously I didn't have enough cards of former Yankees OF prospect Casey Close to warrant an album, but thanks to these four I went ahead and made one, adding to a couple Michigan-specific items I already had.  Close is now known as a superagent who represented Derek Jeter, among many others, but in the 80s he was toiling in the minors for New York and Seattle after a terrific college career.  These four minors products, two each from '88 and '90, capture him with the Columbus Clippers (Yankees, AAA) and Calgary Cannons (Mariners, AAA).
If you've read at least a few posts on this here blog you know my favorite supercollection is that of current Dodgers lefty Rich Hill.  While putting together this massive Sportlots card I was fortunate to find a couple new cards for my assault on his checklist, this pair of Topps All-Star Game Silver cards from the special stamped sets the manufacturer made for the occasion.  In knocking off a couple more cards for those rainbows I also got closer to the 300 mark and am just five short!
I'm still lacking one freaking card ('94 Stadium Club Team First Day Issue) for my collection of late pitcher Steve Howe, but I did find this interesting pair to bolster it.  He's the third of four players I grabbed from the 1990 Dodgers Target set, and the second of another quartet, this time from Line Drive's 1991 AAA product.  You already saw Ross Powell's card a couple posts ago and you'll see the other two shortly.
One of those guys is former Brewers pitcher Mike Ignasiak.  I completed his 15-card collection a while ago but I'm always on the lookout for new stuff like this Minor League trio with cards from 1990-92.  The brands represented are Grand Slam, Line Drive, and Skybox, and the teams are the El Paso Diablos (AA) and Denver Zephyrs (AAA).
The other is pitcher Scott Kamieniecki, a pitcher mostly know for his stints with the Yankees and Orioles.  To his nearly-completed run I also added a trio of Minor League issues with the '91 Line Drive card book-ended by '90 Best and 1991-92 ProCards Tomorrow's Heroes (and its little foil diamonds).  Albany was the Yanks' AA squad while Columbus was their top affiliate until 2007.
Former Brewers/Giants/Cardinals catcher (and manager for the latter) Mike Matheny is one of the more well-known guys among my PCs, and I managed to track down new checklist needs from three of his four clubs (the Blue Jays aren't represented since no cards of him with the team appear to exist).  Those are, in order, a '98 Pacific Online Red parallel and base cards from 2005 Donruss Team Heroes and 2016 Topps Heritage.  I'm getting reasonably close to 100 unique cards for his collection not to mention 50% of what I've checklisted so it's nice to have productive days like this.
Former QB/current pitcher Clayton Richard is a few years into his return to San Diego, and while he hasn't been terribly effective he's at least been able to eat some innings for them.  As you can see here I finally nabbed his 2017 Topps Update base and got the Rainbow Foil parallel to go with it as my first examples of his issues from that product.  I still have lots of his stuff to track down, especially cards released over the last couple years, but I'm at just about 60%, and hopefully future posts will see more bunches of his cards.
The last of the multi-card players for today is former pitcher (and Michigan Baseball manager) Geoff Zahn.  As with Ignasiak I completed his run a while ago but was glad to find other stuff to add, like this oddball pairing.  On the left is the third and final Kellogg's issue I added through this series, in this case from 1979.  It's not exactly mint--the scan doesn't show how much the card's cracked--but it's not like I especially care as I'm just happy to have another fun lenticular food issue.  And as promised I can show off the last of the '90 Target Dodgers.  Zahn was with L.A. for the first two-plus seasons of his career so he too was part of that very cool perforated set.
And now we'll take a quick look at the guys for whom I picked up just one new item:
  • Brett Adcock, a 2016 4th round selection of the Astros out of Michigan, is my latest brand new player collection.  The lefty isn't high on the team's list of prospects for now but you never know!  The first card for his debut is his 2016 Bowman Draft base and I currently have 16 of his cards to track down.
  • Like Howe above I need just one card to complete Jake Fox's PC, though the quad auto I'm hunting will be much, much harder to find.  In the meantime I added my first non-checklist card thanks to this shiny 2006 TriStar Prospects Plus base from his time as a slugging Cubs catching prospect.
  • Former White Sox IF and current front office guy for the same franchise Chris Getz has a larger checklist for me to chase, but I likewise added a Minor League issue, this one from the 2008 Just Autographs product from which I already own an autograph.
  • That's right, it's a run on Minor League cards!  Injured pitcher Zach Putnam completes the trio with another TRISTAR-branded offering, 2009's Projections.  Zach was a member of the Indians organization at the time and this card includes a shot of him with his pro debut club, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, a low-A affiliate in the NY-Penn league.  The Niles, Ohio-based team is still affiliated with Cleveland today.
  • Vintage legend George Sisler is the lone HOF PC guy in this post (though Nolan Ryan does make that cameo!) and while I usually can find more new items of his at a time I was happy to add this SSPC HOF card from the product's 1980-87 run.  There's no date on the back so I'm not exactly sure when it was made, but I do like that it shows him as a member of the 10-person 1939 Hall of Fame class that was the fourth ever inducted and also included Lou Gehrig (thanks to a special election due to his health).  It represents my 83rd card of the one-time single-season hit king.
  • Last up is a final SSPC offering, once again from 1975, of former Cardinals (among other teams) IF Ted Sizemore.  I'm adding it to his completed collection along with another non-checklist card as a fun vintage oddball item. 
Two more large single-player posts await, so stay tuned!