Monday, October 30, 2017

A little bit of Update

For the first time in a while, I set aside a few minutes during my all-too-busy weekends to drop by Target and grab some cards. I wanted some Topps Update before the baseball season ended.

Unexpectedly, I had my three-year-old daughter in tow...which made everything a little more difficult. I was happy to have her, as she cornered me as I was leaving and asked if she could go to the store with me. I had to pick up a few grocery items there too, and as many of you know, everything takes approximately 7x longer with a three-year-old along for the ride.

Naturally, in the 10 minute drive to Target, she falls asleep in the car. When I try to wake her up to go into the store, she has no desire whatsoever. Over the course of about 5 minutes, she went from singing a song about pumpkins to sleeping to resisting going into the store. Great.

I finally coax her in, and I decided to pick up the food items first. It took me awhile since I was unfamiliar with grocery section there. Finally, after what seems like hours (really it was probably 15 minutes), I make my way over to the cards. I had my mind made up that if I saw one, I'd get a 72-card hanger box of Update. They had a couple, so I let my daughter choose which one.

On my way home, I realized that I completely forgot to look for Topps Fire. I would have liked to grab some, but I literally didn't even browse. I saw the purple box with Aaron Judge on it, snagged it, and got out of the store.

Overall, not the best nor the worst break. I got a few cards I liked. I will say that although these have about the same number of cards as a blaster, it's less fun opening the big brick versus individual packs.

Here are a few of the highlights:
I got three Yankees cards, and two were of of retired Hall of Famers. I was happy to get the Boggs, as I may send this to him (along with the $5 fee) for a TTM request. Would be a cool card to have signed.

I like the Judge/Bird combo. I assume this shot is from Bird's first homer of the season on April 16th versus St. Louis.
Jaime Garcia is pictured as a Brave. That was two teams ago, as he was traded to the Twins then Yankees. I would have liked a Yankee card of him, as I don't anticipate him coming back to NY.
This is a great card! Glad it was captured.
I did get one of the vintage cardstock parallels of Astros rookie Derek Fisher, not to be confused with the former Knicks coach.
I seem to pull a lot of Rockies parallels, as I did here with this Topps Gold of Antonio Senzatela.
I also pulled a photo variation SP of Tyler Glasnow. I wouldn't have noticed except I did look at each cards back for a different ID number on the bottom. Interestingly, this is actually a Series One card.

I'm still looking for a bunch of the Yankees from this set, so if you've got any extras, please let me know.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Thanks, Joe

Yesterday, the Yankees announced that Joe Girardi will not be returning as manager.

I think Girardi did a very good job over the course of his tenure. He never once had a losing season, and there were a few teams that easily could have lost more than they won. The 2013 and 2014 Yankees come to mind.

I do appreciate steadiness and consistency, which he had. I didn't mind his over reliance on the binder. He was right a lot more than he was wrong.

I figuered he'd be gone after Game 2 of the ALDS, but then rebounded to lead the Yankees to withing one win of the World Series. After that, it seemed there was no way he wasn't coming back.

I also acknowledge there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes; things that go on between the owners and GM and the manager that we'll never know or see. I trust Cashman very much, so he must've had his reasons for not thinking Girardi was the man for the job. I also know he's too smart to let a good manager walk without having a replacement in mind. I highly doubt he's starting from scratch.

I don't know who the next manager will be, and I don't have a favorite or guy I hope for. I just hope it's someone who can successfully lead this new young core for the next few years.

I hope Joe finds happiness, whether he chooses to manage again right away (Nats?), goes back to TV, or just takes a year or two to slow down. He was a great manager, a good person, and represented the organization well.

Thanks, Joe!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

AOL - bringing fans and athletes together over the magical internet

In the summer of 1997, we finally got AOL at my house. Laugh now, but early-AOL was the coolest.

Eventually I stumbled upon newsgroups (I think that’s what they were called?) and forums, and even found a baseball card group where I could buy cards.

AOL had some features once in a while where you could chat with a pro baseball player. I remember Brad Ausmus being online under the screen name “Ausmus11”. Pretty cool.

Eventually, I found some TTM sites, and among those, some collectors described instances where you didn’t even need to send an actual letter – you could just email an address and receive an autograph in the mail. Autographs starting pouring in to my house of people I had never even heard of. Looking back, it was weird and I went overboard, but it was fun getting mail nearly every day simply by emailing celebrities and fan clubs.

However, there were some athletes who did this as well. One of those players was Mike Lieberthal of the Phillies. I believe you could send an email to his fan club address, and you’d get an autograph back in the mail. Pretty cool! And it worked! I got a signed photo and a card back. 
This type of thing didn’t really take off for athletes, and rightfully so. There are still some college athletics departments that send back signed photos of coaches via email request, which is cool in its own right. But I don’t blame players and fan clubs for never really getting on board with this, as it undoubtedly could become overwhelming very quickly.

Still, it's cool to have some autographs from the late ‘90s that were obtained by simply sending an email.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Murph

When I was in my early years – ages 4-6 – I knew baseball really well. Or at least as well enough as a kid that age could.

I knew who most stars played for. For example, I could tell you that Wally Joyner was an Angel or that Jim Rice was a Red Sox. It wasn’t a big deal to me at the time, I thought everyone knew these players. But I was often quizzed by my family in front of their friends, or my brother in front of his little league team. They always applied when I said that Bret Saberhagen was on the Royals, or that Mackey Sasser and Tim Teuful were Mets.

Having a five year old now, I can see that it definitely was pretty unique. My son can only name Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan as professional athletes. However, he can name and recognize almost any brand of car, and I like to make him do those tricks in front of others as well. My dad gets a kick out of him asking, “Hey Grandpa, what’s more aerodynamic, a Mustang or a Camaro?”

I say this all because while the Yankees have always been #1 for me, I loved all players and teams. I didn’t want just Yankee Starting Lineup figures – I wanted everyone so I could have a real All-Star game when I played with them.

And I didn’t just get Yankee cards as gifts. I got cards of everyone!

Personally, I can’t believe I still have this, but I’ve never gotten rid of it. One Christmas, my older brother gave me this:
It’s a piece of oddly shaped wood, with two Dale Murphy cards on it – the ’84 Topps an oversized edition. Again, back when I got this, I know I was amazed by it. Because any and all baseball stuff was cool! I know I hung it in my childhood room for years, and eventually tucked it away in all my card and memorabilia storage bins.

Somehow the plastic shrink wrap over the cards is still intact. I plan to keep it that way as long as I live.

My brother has never been the greatest at giving gifts, but this one certainly left an impression on a young kid.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Tanaka Time from a Rangers fan

I recently got a surprise package from Judson of My Cardboard Habit. He is a well-documented Rangers fan, so I have to assume the ALCS is a bit tough for him - the hated Yankees versus the hated Astros. From what I can tell, Rangers fans aren't particularly fond of the Astros, and some are actually rooting for the Yankees to come out of the AL.

I'm not sure where Judson falls on the issue, but that didn't stop him from sending me some great Yankees that he felt he needed to get out of the house.

The highlight of the package were a few Masahiro Tanaka cards, there hero of last night's Game 5 victory:
I think it's my first Tanaka relic, so that's cool. I also really like the diecuts, as I'm a sucker for those types of cards.
This is my first in-hand look at Inception. I really like the design. I can't believe Dellin Betances has been such a non-factor this post-season. From a four-time All-Star in the last four seasons to someone who can't even be trusted in mop-up duty. I really hope Betances is able to find peace this off-season, and fix the mechanical flaws that are causing his control issues. He's too good for this.

Judson also sent this cool DiMaggio Diamond King, as well as a Gary Sanchez coin.
Thanks for the cards, Judson!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A special card experience

Last night was one of my coolest experiences ever with cards.

I got home from work at about 8pm, just as the Yankees and Astros were about to start. Anxious to get the game on, I planned to quickly kiss each kid goodnight and get to a TV.

When I got to my son’s room, he asked for a “moving card” (Sportflix) because he had a good day at school. Instead, I asked him if he wanted one of the 30-card Dollar Tree repacks my mom gave him over the weekend (she gave him two of them on Sunday). He said yes.

Instead of just flipping through, he got to the first card, a Mike Pelfrey 2010 Topps, and asked how many home runs he had. I told him that he was a pitcher, and it might be easier to find how many strike outs he had. I showed him where to find that on the back of the card. For the next 15 minutes or so, we went through each of the 30 cards. Based on the picture, I’d have him guess if he was a hitter or pitcher. If he was a hitter, he’d find the “HR” column on the back and tell me how many career home runs he had. If he was a pitcher, he’d find the “SO” on the back and tell me how many strike outs.

It's been apparent for a while that my son has been fond of numbers and has taken to math at an early age. Out of the blue he’ll tell me that ten 100s equal one thousand and things like that. Not bad for a five-year-old, right? While he’s getting frustrated sounding out letters and words lately, numbers definitely come easier to him. Therefore, I shouldn’t act surprised that he’s enjoying looking at the backs of baseball cards, just like many of us did as youngsters.

I missed the top of the first inning because I was sitting in my kid’s bed looking at the backs of baseball cards with him. That experience was definitely more important and memorable than any inning of any Playoff game I’ll ever watch.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Enjoying the NOW

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still a bit stunned from the Yankees come back from down 0-2 to take down the defending AL Champion Cleveland Indians.

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year, although I don’t share the mindset that everything from here on out is gravy. I’m a believer of re-calibrating expectations. If you’re good enough to make the post-season, you’re good enough to win it all. It just takes getting hot at the right time.

Regardless, the season has been a lot of fun, especially with the emergence of so many good, young players. Aaron Judge, despite his troubles at the plate this series, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, Greg Bird, Luis Severino. These guys have the potential to form a very competitive nucleus for the next few years.

More than that, they’re having fun while still making Yankee fans proud. From thumbs down to Didi’s post-game tweets, it’s a very likeable bunch, which seems to be annoying some non-Yankee fans. While the teams of the 90s were all business, there are different blueprints to achieving the same goal. And I’m fine if this team is less traditional than what I’m accustomed to.

I expect another very tough series versus the Astros, and I hope the Yankees can win four more and advance to the World Series. That’d really be something.

For now, I’m going to take it game by game and enjoy the ride. And speaking for ‘now’, Here are a few recent Topps NOW cards that arrived over the last couple of weeks. I haven’t been buying as many of these to give my poor wallet a break, although I may have to pick up one or two later today.