Saturday, June 29, 2013

My Yankees Collection - A Piece Of The Rocket

Mention the name Roger Clemens in a discussion amongst baseball fans and you're sure to get a colorful response of opinions and memories.   The Rocket was one of the finest hurlers in the game when I was growing up and he was almost certainly destined for great things.....

Which he did achieve for the most part, albeit under a now ever-darkening cloud of PED suspicion and the embarrassing legal circus that culminated in congressional hearings.   In light of recent events regarding a [former] Patriots tight end....seems kind of silly.   But let's stick to good stuff!

Good stuff included my discovery of special cards called "relics" as I waded my way back into the hobby two years ago.   Jersey swatches and bat pieces were brand new to me and I was simply AMAZED that I could own a piece of the game with so much ease and, sometime, such little cost!?

The dust has settled as my modern collecting education continued and I now have a better grasp on the relic cards that are quite pervasive in the hobby today.   I still like relics from players or teams that I collect, but the luster of a plain old gray/white piece of fabric for random players has worn off a bit.

Before my initial fascination wore off, I found this jersey swatch card of Clemens at a great price and snatched it up:


Pretty slick, right?   The Donruss design is a little flashy but I think it works pretty well, almost giving the sense of impending speed from Roger's fastball.   The jersey swatch is there on the lower left.   At the time, I just thought the card was cool and I wanted to add another Yankee 'relic' to my fledgling collection, especially a Clemens.

But after the past couple years of 'education', I now know that the "3-tone" swatch is fairly rare; often accompanied by adjective/nouns like: mojo, sick, nasty, etc.   Those descriptions make me laugh and shake my head.   This card however?  Makes me happy!

Here's the back:

Yeah, the whole 'serial numbered' aspect of cards was a new concept to me as well when I started back up in 2011.   Didn't even register with me when I snagged the card!   15/125?   Not too shabby, I guess.   You even get a mug shot of Clemens.   Anything beyond the standard COA and "Congratulations!" message is pretty rare these days for relic cards.   So I'll take the bonus pic!   Also, this card is really, REALLY thick.

I like that the COA statement confirms that the jersey from which the swatch was cut was worn in an official MLB game.   Since this card is from '04, I like to pretend that this is a piece of the "Away Gray" jersey Rocket sported into Fenway Park on October 11, 2003.   It was the infamous Game 3 of the ALCS that showcased a historic rivals' pitching duel between Pedro Martinez and Clemens, who as we all know began his famous career as a Red Sox.   Clemens won the game, supposedly his last for the series (though he and Pedro would have a rematch in the eventual Game 7).   The game was enhanced/scarred by a brawl between the two teams after a high and tight Clemens fastball hurt the feeling of one, Manny Ramirez.


The benches cleared but before order was restored, Don Zimmer famously charged Pedro Martinez - who threw the old man to the ground - but clearly held his own.

Anyways, OBVIOUSLY - this is a piece of the jersey Clemens was wearing that day.

I can dream!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Freddie Friday!

Yeah, let's have some Freddie time, shall we?

This one comes from my Freddie Freeman collection and, if my memory serves me correctly, MAY very well be the first Freddie card I ever procured.

Pack pulled, of course!   This would have been back in the first few months of my return to our hobby.   So very exciting, confusing and wondrous.....but it was cards like this that gave me a sense of familiarity and a connection to the hobby I had taken a hiatus from over twenty years ago.

Fab-Fivin' Freeman
Simple, direct and with a little bit of patriotic flair - this 2011 Topps Lineage "glossy rookie insert" set was a tribute to the versions of similar design that graced the top of every rack pack I bought as a kid back in the day.   And I had the same reaction with this card that I did back then.

This is a Freddie Freeman card.   It is a rookie card....and it is good.

Yeah, so this doesn't quite fit into the modern, strict definition of "rookie card" as I would come to learn over the past couple of years.....but it works for me!   Here's the back:

Again, very basic - probably thought to be quite boring by most modern collectors.   But I love it!   Heck, it's commemorative, don't you know!?

My Freddie collection has come a long way since that fateful day but this card will always have a special place in my Freddie Freeman collection.  

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Friday, June 21, 2013

"I Wasn't Going To Buy Any - Until I Did." - 2013 Topps Series 2 Review

Yeah - I lied.


I blame it on the Evan Gattis RC and all of those teasers on Twitter!   Seriously, it's not my fault....

There are, however, some silver linings to all of this:

- I will show more than one card in a post
- I listened to my brain and used math to realize that 2 hanger boxes are better than 1 blaster (for me)
- It was a lot of fun
- Now I don't have to buy any more retail this year.....seriously!

I walked into WallyMart on the way home from work.   Like a zombie, I headed towards the card isle with the intent to only buy - get this - one or two "loose" packs.   That's all I was going to snag.   Just for old times sake, just to get a taste of the new and scratch the itch.

But then I thought - how much of a taste can you get from two loose packs?   How about a BLASTER?   At least you know you'll get a cool cereal box manupatch prize!

"NO!" my brain yelled.   "You can get almost TWICE the cards for half the price if you go with two "Hanger" boxes.

Normally, my illogical heart would snag a blaster and giggle at this point but something made me pause this time.   The math was too much to overcome and images of disappointments during release rippings past flooded back.......

Two Hanger boxes it was!   For the price of a blaster.

Ryan 1, Card Gods 0.

No more delay - the goal was a Gattis rookie card.   Could I pull it off with 200+ cards to flip through?  

Let's see!


First insert - #1 of the WBC subset. Reyes.   Colorful.  Enjoyable to pull.   Won't be collecting.


"Greinke Face" made me laugh.   I referred to Greinke Face in a tweet last night, promptly received a @NightOwlCards "hoot" and that made me happy.   An example of why baseball cards are awesome, even a (GASP) base card!   Next:


Harvey beat my Braves this week.   Boo, Harvey!   He's pretty good, though.   Promising future with his buddy Wheeler.   We'll see!


Easily the most awkward, painful looking "baseball" face I can think of.   Dominguez is on his way up, though.   Marlins used to have him, yes?   I think the Astros' strategy is materializing before our very eyes.


Simple but pretty.   Should have been a Yankees card.  I kid!


BONUS RIZZO!   Woo-hoo!   Trust me, this is the only Soriano card that is penny-sleeved in my collection.   I think.


Standard.   By the end of Series 2, these kinds of inserts run their course for me.   This Schmidt is pretty sharp, though.   Good colors - and I still must commend Topps for ensuring this year's inserts don't look like a waste of space for we who never pulleth autographed versions.....


HOLY MOLY!!!!!!   MATTINGLY!!!!!   '72 MINI!!!!!  I didn't even know he made the insert set so this was a complete and utterly pleasant surprise - and there is no better feeling than that when you're busting baseball cards!   YES!   Player Collection!!!!   Favorite card so far......


BACK TO BACK FAVORITE PLAYER INSERTS?!?!?!?!   As we say down here - OH LAWDY....okay, pretty boring shot of Rizzo, but I love cards that mark a certain event, game or date.   This card commemorates Rizzo's first HR as a Cubbie.  Love the stamped foil.  To the growing Player Collection it goes!


This is probably the card that most of you would consider to be the "HIT" of the day.   I'll always take my favorite guys' base cards over something like this.....BUT....this card is very nice.   It's really thick stock:


Notice the dramatic shift to sepia? (laugh)   Very thick, bright/sharp color scheme on the front with a strong shot of classic Gibson, sideburns and all.   It is numbered 9/50.   I didn't know this subset existed and surely didn't expect to pull a /50 card out of a hanger box.   Great surprise.   Might sell it.   Might trade it for similar.  For now - I'll enjoy!


This kid Segura can PLAY and I stand by my belief that if he were a Yankee, Dodger or other large market team - we'd be int he middle of SeguraMania right now.   It's almost like he's having the season that Starlin Castro just can't seem to find.   What do you guys think?   I wish it had a "RC" logo on it.   Did he lose eligibility for that last year or something?   Sharp card.   Might have to keep an eye on this guy.....


Underrated Oriole.   Surrounded by what is currently an offensive MACHINE.   Nice old-school style follow-through captured here....I could easily imagine this picture on an '85 Topps card.


More strong photography here, in my opinion, from Topps.   They've really stepped up their game in both Serieseses.   Do you guys think Dom Brown can keep his revolution going this season?   Will the Phillies have a sell-off here pretty soon?  


Dickey making his Greinke Face.   Love it.


Rainbow-y "Chasing" inserts.   Pretty sharp, but I'm not in love.   They highlight specific achievements, though.   +1.   If only there was a Yankee or Brave in there....


My attempt at a summary photograph of Hanger Box #1.   Yes, I was pretty lucky with this one - but even if the Gibson had been an Aubrey Huff base card (no offense, I love Aubrey Huff), I would've been very happy with all of this for $10.   Good variety, no dupes, healthy stack.  

No Gattis, though!!!!!!!

Box #2...............would I find the White Bear?!?!?!


Apparently, epic follow-through's are a "thing" this year.   Miss this guy in the Bronx.  He's still mashing out west!   RAUL!!!!!!!!!!!


ROOKIE CUP!!!!!!!   Love this card.   Classic.   Is it just me or does Yoenis look really old here?


Moving on.


Horrible use of the horizontal design.   Seriously?


This horizontal picture is better.....AND in black & white.


This might be the nicest design/layout/picture/etc card out of the whole bunch.   Love this.   Almost makes me want to be a Buccos fan!!!!   Almost.   Good job, Topps!


"Scooter turning two over top of Votto" - doesn't that sound cool?


My workout partner.


This guy is raking - nice parallel card.   The blue and red work really well together.  I like it.


No way I could have asked for a better follow-up to the Mattingly '72 mini - another Bravo!




Another great card for my Braves collection - Medlen's first career victory is the event that is commemorated here.   I wonder if he'll stick tot he rotation when Beach returns?


My "Cut to the Chase" offering between the two boxes.   Kaline is a favorite of mine from the club in Detroit.   Sharp looking card.   Not sure if I am going to hold on to it, though.


Ah, yes!!!!!!   The Captain, himself.   Jeter's version of the Chasing History insert is of the vertical variety and I think it shows pretty well.   It highlights his pursuit of lofty career numbers.   I hope we get a chance to see him play again as soon as possible.   The Yanks need him this season and baseball needs him for just a little bit longer.....nice card for the Yankees collection.


My prayers for more Yankees and Braves were answered with these last two cards.   This Aaron insert is a nice looking card and I was able to capture some of the rainbow shine that reflects off of these.   The card highlights a rather random stat - XBH Record - but a record is a record.   I like this card.


Not a Yankee or a Brave on this one but another sharp looking card from this set.   Rickey making the dash to (second?) base was a sight I grew up with and his single-season marks were amazing.   I wonder if Mr. Hamilton of the Reds will write himself into this story of speed one day soon?

And how do we wrap up a lengthy post like this?

With a big 'ol MISSION ACCOMPLISHED - that's how!

My friends, if this were to be my final 'pack' of cards for 2013...........I'd be okay with it.   Here it is, my first ever Evan Gattis card.....the card I was hoping to pull!


Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

2013 Bowman #65 Chris Davis Gold Parallel

No better time to show some appreciation for home run machine Chris Davis than today - Chris fired off his league leading 25th and 26th long balls yesterday in a beat down of the Detroit Tigers.

Absolutely amazing and, truth be told, I'm rooting for him.   No, not just because I have Davis is mashing for one of my fantasy teams!   Competition is great for the game and I enjoy the banter back and forth regarding MVP possibilities for Mr. Davis and Mr. Cabrera.

Miggy not Melky, you guys.

My Bowman adventures this year were motivated by pursuit of some exciting prospect cards.   I was able to snag a few of those but I've also enjoyed some of the veterans' cards in the set that don't receive much love......

Here's one of those cards, Chris Davis' gold parallel base card:

It's pretty sharp.   I don't know if it's bound for permanent archiving in the Ryan's Pitch collection, but I'm certainly appreciating it for now!   The color scheme works well and the picture is nicely framed by Bowman's simple, elegant design.   Perhaps Chris is rounding the bases after one of his blasts?   Not sure.

Here's the back:

Rather astutely, the last bullet point highlights the fact that Davis' hot start to last season carried him through a fairly severe mid-season slump.   He then finished with a bang to wrap up an overall impressive stat line.  

Will Chris Davis continue to roll through the entire season this year?

I hope so - and it will be fun to watch and find out.   Congrats to you Orioles fans, too.   I'm sure you're savoring every homer :)

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Robertson Collection: 2013 Topps #230 Emerald Parallel

At first, I was annoyed with all of the colored parallels stuffed into today's baseball card packs.   As a base set builder, these parallels merely existed as a wasted card roadblock on my journey towards trying to complete a set.....

Alas, if you can't beat them - JOIN THEM.   And that's what I've decided to do - embrace the rainbow!

Alas, the parallels make excellent trade bait for my team and player collector trading friends out there.......hey, what do you know - I have a few of those myself!   And here's one of them:

UGH!   Awful photo job there, Ryan.   Let's head to the stock photo pool.....

There we go!

I like this card.   Green doesn't exactly scream YANKEE to me, but it's sharp looking and provides a different design to enjoy and something special to track down.   I'm always up for trading for parallels of my favorite players or teams. 

David is quietly enjoying another solid season for the Yanks as the set-up man for Mo's final tour.   He's 4-1 with 14 holds and 36 K's in 27 2/3 IP.   That's pretty stellar, even though his ERA is a career high 2.93.   I haven't had as many opportunities to watch Robertson toss this year as I would like - hopefully I can watch him strike out the side tonight against the Dodgers!

Did you know Bubba Watson will be throwing out the first pitch?   Heck yes!   Two of my favorites in sports (Yankees and Bubba) collide.....hopefully MLBtv coverage will capture the pre-game moment so that I can catch it live.

Here's the back of the card:

Did anyone ever get a good answer on the fuzzy math Topps used in the "Career Chase" factoids on the backs of these cards?

Just a note - a key statement regarding the evolution of how I collect resides above.   A very brief, innocent mention, but I can't help but feel a little sad that set-building has become such a challenge.   However - as we all know, there's no crying in baseball [card collecting]!

Time to pick myself up, dust myself off and embrace my new world.   Team Collecting and Player Collections.....nothing wrong with that.   But don't think I'm giving up on my vintage set building efforts!

Just wanted to mention it.

Go Yankees and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

2013 Prospect Parade Continues - Zack Wheeler

The combination of my fantasy baseball research and improved dedication to simply following the game we love has allowed me to follow the wealth of prospect debuts this season.

The Year of Shelby Miller, The Rise of Oso Blanco for the Braves, The Wonder of Wacha, The Legend of Puig, The Colossal of Cole and the......Zest o' Zunino?


They've been a lot of fun to follow and, no matter what uniform they wear, it's easy to cheer for a player as they realize a dream they've worked so hard for, for so long.

The prospect parade continues today with the major league debut of the much anticipated, potential ace for the New York Mets, Zack Wheeler.   I have been very closely following Zack's progression since I have him on the staff of my dynasty fantasy baseball team.   He'll take the bump in game 2 of the doubleheader today at Turner Field in Atlanta.

And there's a problem right there - he's playing the Braves!   Oh, the about 8 innings of no-hit ball with ANOTHER (did you see Freddie last night?!) Freeman walk-off in the 9th inning for the no-decision?   Is that too much to ask?

In all honesty - good luck, kid.   And congratulations.

I've been lucky enough to pull a couple of Wheeler's cards over the past couple of years.   Here's the first one I pulled - his 2012 Bowman Platinum Prospect card:

Shiny. Is this a ___fractor?

Pretty standard, shiny card.   I didn't think much of it when I pulled it from Platinum last year.   I was undoubtedly hoping for autographs and such.....but now, this card has some cool meaning.   Cardboard appreciation!   I'm not sure if I'll hang on to it permanently.   Here's the back:

The "Platinum Report" makes me chuckle.   Sounds like a Gentleman's Club newsletter!   Good news, Mr. compare to Phil Hughes.   WHAT?   I didn't know he came to New York from the Giants?  Was it the Beltran deal?   Quick google check.....yep.   The Beltran deal.   Winner TBD.

Here's the other card of Wheeler that I've pulled from a pack - his 2013 Bowman Cream of the Crop Mini (subset of Yasiel Puig fame).   It's a sharp looking little card but, again, pretty standard:

And here's the back....let's see if it mentions Phil Hughes:

Awful lighting.....but I can vouch that there is no mention of Mr. Hughes.   Perhaps the stars are aligning for Mr. Wheeler after all?!

First pitch in about 6 hours.   Good luck, Zack!   Just not today.   You'll have plenty of time for your first career win next week.

Thanks for reading!