Monday, April 30, 2012

Random Blue Jay Monday: '93 Donruss John Olerud

Mondays have definitely changed for me on the blog, because for some reason I always had trouble thinking of blog posts on a Monday.  Now that I've got a plan in place to post about a random Jays card each Monday, the pressure is off.

The card that was selected this week by the randomizer (yes, I use to select the "number" of the card to write about) was the 1993 Donruss John Olerud card #483.

checking for signs...shouldn't he be looking in the stands?

I loved watching John Olerud play.  I loved watching him swing the bat, and play first base.  The guy could flat out hit, and it's ironic that the card that came up was from '93, when he had his career year with the Jays.

.363 average (was hitting .402 on August 1st, then faded as the dog days hit)
54 doubles
24 HR, 107 RBI
114 walks, 33 of them intentional
1.072 OPS
3rd in MVP voting behind Frank Thomas and Paul Molitor (his teammate in Toronto)
8.2 WAR (2nd only to some guy named Griffey in the AL among position players)

I remember the summer of '93, it was fun to watch.  The Jays were World Series champs, and the whole team was running like a well oiled machine.  The offense was so good they were only shut out once during the entire season.  Olerud was in the center of it all.  He hit 4th for the majority of the season, and for the first time in Jays history, their announcers got to talk about Ted Williams and that magic .400 number.

What I didn't care for was the stigma that was attached to Olerud.  Those 24 HRs were a career high, and even though he had a great season hitting wise, the "power" numbers still weren't there.  All that talk ate at him, I'm sure of it.   John missed a third of the 94 season, and then 95 and 96 weren't up to the standard he set in 93, so he was traded to the Mets for Robert Person (6.18 ERA and 8 wins for 3 years for the Jays, yikes).  Part of the reason that trade happened was that the Jays had a catcher in the minors that they were going to convert to 1st base that would put up those power numbers for a long time...Carlos Delgado.  (Delgado had actually spent parts of the 94&95 seasons with the big club)

John Olerud will always be my reminder that not all 1st basemen follow the script of a "traditional" power hitting, high strikeout player. If another player of that type happens upon the Jays again in my lifetime, you can be sure he'll have my support.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cards that actually look like cards

Over the past couple of weeks I will say that my card purchase habits have changed a little.  I've shied away from the myriad of sets that I'm trying to complete, and have only purchased cards at the local Wal-Mart (or the Altoona Wal-Mart in the case of the Gypsy Queen post the other day).  The only other purchase outside of those was a card draft over at JABOs which was run really well by Kyle (thank you sir).  I will post my loot from there once it arrives.

Before the past two weeks, I won an eBay auction for a nice lot of 48 '64 Topps cards.  I was happy that I paid approximately 40 cents per card, which continues the path of cheapness that I've been promoting while picking up cards for this set.

The auction title describes the cards perfectly..."mid-low grade".  The lot contained mostly higher numbered cards from the 3rd series, and to get those on the cheap is great from where this guy sits.

Now, you're probably wondering why the title of this post is cards that look like cards.   Well, when I went through the lot, there were a lot of cards that had all 4 corners with rounding, much like a playing card.  These cards took me straight back to the days when I was dealing Texas Hold 'Em before it was en vogue.

Took a look at this scan to give you an idea...

The corners on all of these cards are as round as a NASCAR track.  Doesn't matter to me though.  If I'm going to worry about condition on 587 cards that are almost 50 years old, then I'm going to be 50 years older by the time I complete the set.  Let me tell you, at age 94, I hope to be able to stand, let alone appreciate a great set such as '64 Topps. 

I'm actually very happy with my progress on this set so far.  This 48 card lot had 5 dupes in it, however the lot brought me slightly over the 100 card mark.  I'm 103 cards in, or 17.5%.  I've enjoyed chasing these cards so far, because they've shown me a time where cards were a lot more simple, a time when the focus was more on the player rather than an action shot or a short printed pie in the face card. 

Not that the different types of photos in today's cards are all bad.  I've even mentioned many times on the blog that I've found many cards from today's sets that have great photos. 

Sometimes simple is better.  Even though I'm shying away from Heritage this year, the cards still are pretty damn good, because of their simplicity.

Available for trade..

As far as I know, there's only two different colors of borders available, right?  Gotta make those big box stores happy you know.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I feel sorry for the Gypsy Queen master set builder

Many of you know that I was out of town for a couple days earlier this week for work.  It's sad, but anytime I'm in another town for work, I seek out the local Wal-Mart in order to grab some packs.  I just have to see if my luck is any better there than in my hometown.

After kind of ripping on Gypsy Queen last weekend, I felt pity for the set and decided to give it another try, so I bought a blaster.

I opened the packs up while I was at the hotel on Wednesday night, and enjoyed looking at the cards.

Well, I started looking at them in a little more depth this afternoon, and I must say that I feel very sorry for anyone who decides to build a "master set" of 2012 Gypsy Queen.  Why?  Because some cruel, sadistic bastard designed this insanity (yes, I know insanity is a love of mine, but sometimes you go too far...)

First off, I have to give a shout out to Sports Card Radio for posting photos of all the variations.  Without that, I for sure would be hopelessly lost.

Now, on to the goods:

As I mentioned before, I do like the inserts.   The borders are colorful, and the photos are well done also.  I especially like the purple of the moonshots insert, and the sliding stars is almost the same bronze color as the framed cards I posted previously.

OK, now that we've gotten the kudos out of the way, take a look at the minis.   I apologize for the upcoming confusion.

Here's the backs of 4 of the 8 minis I pulled:

Ricky Romero on the left is a green bordered mini.  The Tom Seaver is a photo variation SP.  The John Smoltz is a Gypsy Queen back variation, and the Seth Smith on the right is a straight cut variation of the 301-350 numbered exclusive minis.

The other 4 minis I pulled were base versions of Cobb, Hunter, Maris and Musial (ahhh...the legends)

All I gotta say is....holy shit.

Who in their right mind could keep up with all of this?  All totaled, there are EIGHT variations of minis.  And people think I'm insane?? 

Oh yes, let's not forget the base cards.

Yes, similar to the Upton cards I pulled last week, I pulled both of the Votto variations in this blaster.  Which one is the SP?  You can't tell the players without a program!!  (psst...don't tell the kid in the desk next to you, but the one on the left is the SP)  The Reggie Jackson on the bottom is also a variation SP, makes me wonder how short printed they are if this guy is pulling them. 

While I know that Gypsy Queen is going to be wildly popular this summer, it may turn out to be my "whipping boy" of sorts.  The minis have a whopping 91 photo variations, add to that the 301-350 cards that are exclusive to the minis, and it is all just a little too much for me.  But, it will likely provide me with some more writing material as we go on.

If you're building the master set, bless your heart, because GQ is starting to make my insanity set look like a walk in the park.

A little part of me wishes that cards today were as simple as back in '64:

If that were the case, then a lot of us wouldn't have much to write about, would we?

Thanks for reading, Robert

Friday, April 27, 2012

Topps really did their homework on this card

For all the bashing that we do of Topps and the errors on cards and things of that nature, I found a card this past weekend while perusing through my many boxes of hockey cards, and was ready to pounce.  I take you back to the 2002-03 Topps Heritage hockey set, specifically card # 81 of Stu Barnes.

The TV set design will always be a classic

As you can plainly see on the card, he played on the Buffalo Sabres at the time.  If you look at the jersey however, you can see "N E W Y", the start of New York of course.

I was ready to jump on this one.  New York?  Yes, Buffalo is in New York, but they don't wear New York on the front of their jersey.

As has been proven many times, I was wrong.  Doing a little research of Google images, I came upon a post over at Third String Goalie which documents a game that was played between the Sabres and the New York Rangers in honor of the victims of the 9/11 attack.  It seems the Sabres wore these jerseys for that particular game, and both teams auctioned off their jersey for charity. 

Just when I thought I had something....

Thanks for reading, Robert

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Size matters

A quick bit of humor for your Thursday afternoon.  Ever notice that on the Opening Day cards, the size of the Rookie Cup is small??

Notice how you need a magnifying glass to read the words "Topps All Star Rookie".

Now take a look at the Topps Heritage version of the Rookie Cup.

Even a person that needs glasses like me has no problem reading's huge!!

Interesting how there is a positive correlation with the amount you pay per pack for the cards and the size of the Rookie Cup. 

Just thought I'd throw that out there, I'm sure one or 3 of you has noticed this before.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

On the road, and an apology

Just a heads up to you all that I am on the road for a couple of days for business, which is why there was no post last night, and any post that happens this evening will be void of any scans.

I also want to apologize to those of you who emailed me on my "gmail account" over the past few weeks offering trades.

To make a long story short, I rarely use that account for anything, and while having a few minutes this morning, I checked the account and discovered several emails.

Again, my apologies if you've sent me email on that account, I believe I've responded to them by now (if I haven't, please email me at rmitchell6700 at yahoo)

Thanks, Robert

Monday, April 23, 2012

Random Jay Monday: '92 UD Mike Timlin

I crave structure.  It kind of defines me.  I like looking forward to certain days and knowing what I have to do, and by what time I have to do it.   Call it a weakness.

I've been trying for quite a while to get a similar kind of structure in my blog writing.  Tried being the operative word.  I've started things, and then stopped them, because I either didn't think they were a good idea, or I just tired of them.

I've enjoyed writing on my blog so far over the first nearly nine months.  You've heard the stories, the fun, the rants (more so lately), and the general blather that I enjoy spitting out.  But for the past few weeks, I've struggled to get posts done.  The ideas just haven't flown, unless I've made purchases of new product, or made trades with my fellow bloggers.

Makes for a difficult ride after a while when you realize that you can only buy so much, and only so many trades are to be made as well.  I figure it's high time that I figure out other ways of posting with the existing myriad of cards I currently have.

You may have seen that I plan to make at least one hockey post a week, on Fridays.  I've already written this weeks, and I feel that with the crazy amount of hockey cards I have, I should have no problem coming up with ideas for a once a week post.

Mondays, I've decided I am going to do a random Jays card post.  I really liked the idea two weeks ago, and I'm going to continue with it.  It gives me a challenge to write about just one card, and it also will help to stretch my memory.

This week's random card comes from Row 1, card # 171 in the 3 row monster that my Jays are contained in.

1992 Upper Deck # 409, Mike Timlin.  This is a 2nd year card of Timlin, and the first thing that came to mind was, when in the world did Mike ever have a mustache?  Timlin was on the Jays for 7 seasons, and I never recalled him sporting the old cookie duster.  This type of photo as well shows the crazy strain that these guys put on their arms.

The back of his card shows him in a more relaxed pose on the mound.

Still the same mustache.  You can see from the stats he had a pretty decent rookie season with the Jays, making 63 appearances.  Naturally, I had to look up his career stats as well, and boy did this guy get around!

7 yrs in Toronto, 6 in Boston, 3 in St. Louis, Seattle and Baltimore 2 years apiece, and finally Philly for a year.  I bet you didn't know he had two 25+ save seasons in his career, and pitched until he was 42!

What a helluva card to start out for a random pick, because I had truly forgotten what an integral part he was of a lot of post season rosters.  11 years (!) of his 18 he made a post season appearance, which I found remarkable.  I'd always thought of Mike Timlin as a very reliable reliever, nothing flashy or spectacular;  could eat some innings in long relief, or as I discovered, his 143 career saves also meant that he could finish a game if need be.

Mike also has 3 World Series rings to his credit (92 & 93 in Toronto, 2004 in Boston), and he also led the league in appearances in 2005 with 81, at the age of 39.  

Just from looking at his career stats, this guy had one of the more understated careers that I probably will ever come across when looking at baseball cards.  I'm sure that there are many more like him out there that I haven't discovered, but for me, it's pretty cool that Timlin came across my desk today. 

Even better, he was a Blue Jay longer than he was anywhere else....

Thanks for reading, Robert

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Focusing on the negative, another Gypsy Queen post

It's funny how ideas for a post just come to me.  I'm downstairs doing the laundry of all things, and yesterday's Gypsy Queen post and the negativity I spewed in yesterday's post just came flooding back to me.  I then had a thought...

I've done a lot of negative posts lately, and I'm not sure why.  I enjoy cards, always have, always will, and yet something has crept into my blogger DNA lately that feeds a little voice inside my head.  That voice then spews out these negative posts about cards, or teams, or experiences, whatever comes to mind at the time. 

I could even go on further about how my negativity goes back to the first full time career I had after I was done with college, in the casino industry.  I could regale you of tales I experienced during those 4 years of the gambling industry, and the inherent mistrust that is rampant in gaming.  I'm sure that many of you have had jobs that have colored your perception of a certain industry as well, but for me, the casino industry is one that I love and loathe at the same time. 

But I digress...

Gypsy Queen, for me, ranks below Heritage as far as products go this year, let me tell you why.

It's gray for one.  I like colors in my base sets.  I even prefer white for a card border's color.  Gray is miserable as a color for me.   Heritage has plenty of colors this year, no blandness to be found.

2nd, what is the fascination with minis?  I'm a cheap bastard, so what good is it to me when I'm paying full price on only 1/2 a card?

Of course, we've got variations on the minis as well.  The Strawberry on the right is the basic mini, the Stanton in the middle is the black version (of course), and on the left is the straight cut version of Aramis Ramirez's card.   Straight cut?  What's next, boot cut?  

Now I pulled a couple of cards that I did like...

The Glove Stories on the left has a nice bronze (?) border, and the blue on the Hallmark Heroes of Joe DiMaggio is actually quite eye catching.  Outside of certain sets though, I normally do not collect inserts (unless they are Jays).  If the base cards were either of these colors, I would be more inclined to try and collect the set.

I had originally intended this post to be more on the positive side about Gypsy Queen, but in the end I just couldn't do it.  For me, the cards are too costly, and there's too many inserts/minis that take away from the set building (at least for me).  I may buy a few more packs here and there, just for a pack rip "thrill", but in the end most of the cards will be traded away to help my fellow bloggers complete their sets.

BTW, anything you see on this page is up for trade, rmitchell6700 at yahoo is the email if you're interested.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sign of the Gypsy Queen

Reading about these cards all week really didn't get me pumped up for the release of Gypsy Queen.  I may be one of the few people on the planet who didn't purchase one pack of Gypsy Queen in 2011.  While the cards that I have received via trades from fellow bloggers were cool to look at, they didn't spur me to want to collect the set.  I think that is largely due to the fact that I really didn't get back into serious collecting until a few months after GQ hit the shelves, thus the product was pretty much dried up by the time I would have gotten involved.

No matter.  This is a new year.  I bought my first pack today (rack), and what I wonder is this:

Why does Topps feel the need to increase the number of past legends that they include in sets like this?  Are today's players really that boring?  Out of the 12 base cards I pulled from the rack pack, I received an Andre Dawson, a Ralph Kiner and a Lou Brock.  Now I haven't looked at a checklist for the entire set yet, but if the current ratio of 1 retired player for every 4 players in the set holds true, then in my opinion it's overkill.  (Thanks to the Trading Card Database Checklist found here, I found by a rough count 53 retired players in the set, 17.7%)

Here's another case in point:  The rack pack comes with a cello pack of 3 'framed' cards, and all 3 were retired greats. 

Nice looking cards for sure.  I'd like to see more current players though.  Maybe my luck is just crappy.

Something else to confuse me as well:

Justin Upton, 2 cards, same card number, different images.  Which is the variation, and how do I know?  There is nothing on the card to identify the variation that I can see. 

Now I likely won't go cold turkey on buying packs like the Night Owl stated he would, but I can't for the life of me be excited about the Gypsy Queen set. 

Maybe it's the cheap bastard in me.  For a rack pack of Gypsy Queen, 3 packs plus the 3 framed cards cost $9.49 + tax.  Close to $10 for 21 cards, or almost 50 cents a card.  At that price, I'd rather have a president and a guy nicknamed "ducky"

The more I see of this years products, the more I am starting to fall in line with the 'older' bloggers in that I am preferring to purchase older stuff rather than 2012 products.  It's less confusing, historic, and obtaining them is more about the hunt than ripping packs. 

I've already stopped buying Heritage, and will not buy too much more Gypsy Queen, what else do you have for me to reject Topps??  (lol)

Oh, and by the way, if you didn't recognize the song name in the title of my post, shame on you

Thanks for reading, Robert

Friday, April 20, 2012

The original Tebow, Jocelyn Thibault

I had made a vow to myself at the beginning of the year to write more about hockey and hockey cards.  So far, I've failed miserably on that promise.  I might even be able to count the number of times I've even mentioned hockey on the blog on one hand.

For a guy who has collected hockey cards as long as he's collected baseball cards, that's blasphemy.

I'm going to shoot for at least one post a week, on Fridays, related to hockey cards.  This gives you all the opportunity to avoid those posts and turn to blogs that write more about what you care!

This first post came about while leafing through a couple of monster boxes of hockey cards earlier this week, looking for some cards that were interesting enough to post about.  I found a handful to start, and this is one of them:

Thibault..not Tebow
94-95 Pinnacle # 205, goaltender Jocelyn Thibault of the Quebec Nordiques.  Why do I say this is the original Tebow?  Well, because his last name is pronounced exactly the same.  It's funny because when I first pulled this card out of the box, the main reason was because of the photo. The fact that his name was pronounced the same didn't dawn on me until I started writing the post.  The mask features a fantastic wolf design, and although the scan doesn't quite reflect it, the blue on the mask and the uniform is quite sharp.  The back of the card, well let's just say it's very busy...

One of the best masks I can remember from the 90's

The close up shot of his mask, and his eyes focused on the play is fantastic.  Sadly, the stats kind of take away from the photo, and in spots can be difficult to read. 

There have been a lot of rumors over the past few months that Quebec may be getting their team back, similar to the Winnipeg Jets returning from the dead.  What helped fuel these rumors is the province of Quebec actually funding a new rink (finally) to replace the old Le Colisee, where the Nords played throughout their existence in the WHA & NHL.

So, the next time you hear a story about this guy:

Just remember that he wasn't the first guy in sports whose name was pronounced Tebow....

Thanks for reading, Robert

An open letter to Brian Burke, GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs

Robert Mitchell
New Castle, PA

Mr Burke:

     I am a Maple Leaf fan, and I am fed up.  This is now the 8th consecutive spring (the lockout year + 7 seasons) that I have had to endure the Stanley Cup Playoffs without my favorite team being in them.  For the past 8 days I have watched some of the best hockey in a long time, and sadly not one of the players I've watched is wearing the Maple Leaf crest on his sweater. 

     Yes, I am aware that you are not responsible for all of the 8 years, since you've only been the GM for the past 4.  I was very excited when you were hired, because of your track record with teams such as Vancouver and Anaheim, and was looking forward to what could be built in Toronto.  I also am aware that you inherited a mess, which had to be torn down and built back up again, which you did very quickly.

     I was one of the few who would defend your trade with Boston that saw the Leafs acquire Phil Kessel.  For me, your track record of trading since you became Leafs GM from where I sit is quite good.  Your track record for signing free agents on the other hand, is horrible.

     Mike Komisarek, 5 years at $4.5 million per year for a guy who has never scored more than 4 goals in a season?  Yes, I am aware that he adds some "truculence" to your blue line, but when your coach ends up making him a regular healthy scratch, or sticks him on the 3rd defensive pairing, then you have to say it is a poor signing.

     Colby Armstrong, 3 years at $3 million per year for one 20 goal season.  Oh yes, he's truculent.  This year, he played on the 4th line, and was a healthy scratch on a few occasions.  I shook my head last year when you signed him to that contract.  Over paid?  You better believe it.

     Tim Connolly, 2 years at an average of $4.75 million for a guy who has a history of injuries, has never scored 20 goals in a season, and was considered by many to be the runner-up "prize" for the teams that failed to sign Brad Richards.  Oh, and by the way if you didn't notice, Tim finished the season on the checking line. 

     Three straight seasons, 3 horrendous free agent signings.  I now point you to this season.  The team was in an absolute free fall in February, and it was obvious that they were looking for a boost to get them back into the thick of things.  You actually made a trade for a guy who was invisible for most of the month that he played with the team. 

     The biggest mistake that nobody really talked a lot about was leaving Ron Wilson as coach for the past 4 years.  It was obvious from the beginning that Ron's method of coaching definitely did not sync up with your style of building a team.  Ron preferred a fast, up tempo game, while you would have the team play more of a rugged, physical style.  That's all well and good if you want to build your team that way, but get yourself a coach that believes in the same thing.  You let your friendship and loyalty to Ron get in the way of the development of the team that you wanted to build, and we fans have now suffered for it.  You now have your coach, but is there going to have to be another tear down of the team to now get the players who play the rugged style that Randy Carlyle prefers?  If so, how long is that going to take?

     I know what you're thinking.  Who in the hell is this guy, a sports card blogger trying to give you some lip over the job you're doing.  Who am I?  I am a Maple Leafs fan, someone who has suffered over the past 35+ years with crazy ownership, horrible management choices over coaches and players, horrible refereeing in one season that cost my beloved team a trip to the finals, and now what is nearing a decade of futility.   I am a Maple Leafs fan who has grown tired of the crap I'm hearing.  I am a Maple Leafs fan who can't believe that you were more worried about what a 70+ year old man had to say about your coach than what you were doing about the mess to begin with.  Turns out the old guy was right, wasn't he? 

     Finally, I am a Maple Leafs fan who has grown tired of the excuses, tired of waiting for this team to become the contender it was starting to be this year, but instead watched as the contender status disappeared in a 20 game span. 

     I am giving you one more year Mr. Burke, to show me that there will be significant improvement in this club.  I will attend the draft, and watch very carefully what you do over the summer.  I will watch the play of my favorite team over the 2012-13 season, more intently than I probably ever have.  If I don't see any improvement, I will be even more vocal than this, and start the call to have your job given to someone else. 

     You cannot rest on your laurels anymore.  Your successful past doesn't give you a pass with Toronto fans. 

      I would like to be able to collect a card, in my lifetime, that has "Stanley Cup Award Winner, 20xx", with the Maple Leafs logo emblazoned on it.  

      Respectfully yours, Robert Mitchell

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Carpenter came to town with some Rockets

Who says the mail is slow?  I completed my 6th trade with Greg over at Plaschke, thy Sweater is Argyle on Friday night of last week, and the cards made it from California to Pennsylvania already.  Greg is running another card draft, check his blog out for more details. 

I had picked up a Ryan Getzlaf jersey card in a trade over on the Bench, and once I got it in hand, I knew that Greg would want it.  It was a very nice two color swatch, featuring the dark purple that Anaheim wore a few years back.

What did I receive in return you may ask?  It's in the title.  First, the Rockets.

I don't know how many of you out there remember the cards in a can idea that Pinnacle had back in the late 90's, but for me it was one of the most wasteful ideas I can remember as far as packaging goes.  Cards in a can?  They tried to make the cans collectible, but for those that were in the hobby back then for the quick buck, the tins were no longer mint once opened.  Nevertheless, these 4 cards were ones that I didn't have, so they find a place among the Blue Jays mass of cardboard at my house.

Naturally, Greg sent me a jersey card as well, the Carpenter.

Card # 21 in the quest to obtain all the Captured on Canvas jersey cards from the '08 UD Masterpieces set.  It had been a little while since I obtained one of these beauties, but rest assured that I will continue on the quest to collect all 89.

Looking forward to trade #7 Greg....thank you very much!

Thanks for reading, Robert

Monday, April 16, 2012

The number 30, and taking the new header for a test drive

OK, taking the new header out for a spin today.   I absolutely love it!!  It's like Ross over at Design on Deck could actually read my mind.  I gave him a couple of ideas for the header, and he turned out something so simple, yet so perfect for me.

Ross, as I said in the email, thank you very much!!  I'll find something to send your way for sure.

Of course the uniform bears the colors of my beloved Blue Jays, and the numbers are the retro style, which the Jays should have never given up over the years.  Seeing that got me to thinking...

Which Jays over the years have worn the #30 on their back?  I was surprised when I did a little research and found the list contained 12 players.  I thought there may have been more, but now that think more about it, 1 every 3 years that the franchise has existed isn't too bad.

There were 6 players that wore the number for only one season:

Juan Berenguer (1981)
Wayne Nordhagen (1982)
Mike Morgan (1983)
Frank Castillo (2000)
Doug Linton (2003)

and the following fellow who wore it first in Blue Jays history.

'77 Topps # 517
They tried so hard to airbrush those Jays hats didn't they?  Pete spent only the 1977 season in Toronto before being moved on to St. Louis in a deal that would see a couple of pitchers come back to the Jays.  Pete had a relatively successful season in Toronto, making 53 appearances including 8 starts with a 3.47 ERA and 8 saves.

There were four Jays who would wear the # 30 for two seasons:

Joe Cannon (1979-1980)
Ron Musselman (1984-1985)
Woody Williams (1997-1998)
Alberto Castillo (2000-2001)

There was only one player to wear # 30 for three years (2004-2006), and he was the last Jay to wear it:

'07 UD  #246

Justin Speier's 3 years in Toronto were the most successful of his career from a numbers standpoint.  Justin went 8-10 with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.160 WHIP over those 3 years, with all of his appearances coming out of the pen.  Justin was only one of 2 players drafted in the 55th round (!) of the 1995 draft to make it to the majors, the only other was Mark Mulder who didn't sign with the Tigers, and was drafted 3 years later with the 2nd pick by the A's.

There was only one player to wear the #30 for more than 3 years in a Jays uniform, and he wore it with the most success as well.

Todd Stottlemyre wore the # 30 for 6 years in Toronto, starting in 1989 (Score Young Superstars # 20 on the right) and finishing in 1994 (Fleer # 344 on the left).  Todd was part of the 2 World Series winning clubs in 92 & 93, and won 69 games over his 7 years in Toronto (he wore #16 in 1988 before making the switch).  Todd would later wear the #30 in stints with Oakland, St. Louis and Arizona.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sticker Shock

When you are bored and don't feel like posting anything intelligent for the masses to see, you come up with Sticker Shock.  Sticker Shock is when you find a bunch of random stickers from this years Topps sticker set, and try to find humor in them. 

I probably will be the only one who finds these funny...but hey, it's Sunday, no pressure right??

Can anyone tell me if these are short printed or variation stickers? (Don't answer that)

I tend to see these in my dreams after an evening of Crown Royal...

Maybe the Troll can tell me if everybody in Tampa loves Raymond...

These 2 stickers gave me pause to reflect...

Now, that my poor attempts at humor have come to an end, this last sticker is my way of saying that it's good to see that Dustin Diamond found a career after Saved by the Bell...

Thanks for reading, Robert

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Your eyes play tricks on you when you get older

It's true.  I've been wearing glasses for about 10 years now, and my eyes still read what they want to read.  The fact that my mind is always in the gutter only makes that problem worse, especially at work, but that's another topic for another place and time.

I tend to read fast, which is probably part of the problem.  Case in point, a post about a 'trade' that Potch and I completed in the past week, which was titled Cool Cards from Mr. Habit (update).  Needless to say, my eyes did their tricks, and I thought the word 'Habit' said 'Hobbit'.

Now my curiosity is piqued!!  What in the world is Potch writing about that contains a hobbit?  Tolkien's book maybe?  As I read the post I of course recognize that it's a trade post about the cards that I had sent him.  Needless to say I went back and read the title again and of course I feel like an idiot when I see the word habit in the title. 

Wait a minute....Mr. Habit?  When did formality creep into the blogosphere?  Does that make my wife Mrs. Habit?  Does it mean that all my bad habits are related to me in some weird way?  OK....enough of the habit talk, let's get to more of what you're here for, the cards!

First, of course we have to show off the Jays...let's look at some Minis

The scan is actually larger than the card

These 87 Fleer minis are very cool, but the writing on the back is so small that I had to use a magnifier to read the stats. 

Next we have some more modern Jays cards:

The more I see this years Heritage, the more it grows on me, but I'm sticking to my vow that I will not complete the set.  With 75 SPs, it's just too damn difficult.  I still have about 50 to obtain from last years set, which is a large reason that I will not collect the '12 set as well.  Speaking of last year's Heritage, the Aaron Hill black parallel is the 2nd one that I have (Arencibia being the other), and I like the lack of chrome on the card.

Next, a couple of random Jays cards...

The Fleer Award Winner card of Tony Fernandez is part of a 44 card set from '87.  I hadn't seen these before as well, so that was interesting to me.  The Scott Rolen '08 UD Heroes card baffles me.  The card documents the world series title he won in 2006.  I think to myself, the Jays didn't win the title in '06, so I read the back and it documents the title he won with the Cardinals.  What??  If I'm a Jays fan, why do I want to read about that?  Give me Jays facts!  OK...rant over.

Finally, what would a trade post from Potch be for me without some '77 Topps??

3 more towards the set, 3 guys that I remember fondly from the 70's and 80's.  Sparkly Lyle, born in Dubois, PA which is about 90 minutes from where I live right now (that was cool to find out).  Larry Parrish was part of those great Expos teams of the late 70's and early 80's that had Dawson, Carter, Rogers and Raines.  Rollie Fingers' card features him after he signed a 6 year, 1.6 million dollar contract with the Padres as a free agent.  Do you think the 'stache is airbrushed too?

Potch, as always, thank you for the cards, they are much appreciated!!

Oh, and one last thing....bad habits??...I've got nun...(insert groan here)

thanks for reading, Robert

64 Topps is teaching me patience

Patience is something I sorely lack.  Stores love me because when I have extra money in my wallet, I am an undisciplined, impulse shopper.  Card stores are the worst thing for me when I have extra money, because it becomes "oh, I'll take 2 of these, and 3 of those...and those look good too!!"

I've been good lately with my spending on cards, since with an upcoming trip down south for my 5th wedding anniversary, I've been trying to save any extra money I can (there are card stores in Florida...).

My single eBay purchase this week was another 6 card lot of '64 Topps, which I was able to offer down to $4.99.  Again with this lot, these cards were in pretty good condition, which surprisingly I've had great success so far in finding.

Keeping the cards straight...overrated

The Ken (Hawk) Harrelson card featured is actually his Rookie Card, and it made me do a little research.  I was surprised to learn that he only played 900 games in his major league career, from all that I had heard of him over the years I presumed he had had a longer career.  The Athletics team card is my 2nd one that I have acquired, the Senators team card being the other one.  The one thing I've enjoyed about picking up the '64 cards so far is the older logos on the caps.  I especially enjoy the interlocked 'KC' on these cards, it's more simplistic than a lot of today's hats, but sometimes simple is better. 

6 more cards in this lot brings me up to 58 so far towards the set, just under 10% of the 587 total to collect.   Acquiring these cards a handful at a time has been quite interesting, and knowing that this set is going to take a while to complete makes it a task that is teaching me some patience.  With Rose, Mantle, Aaron, Clemente, Koufax and Mays all topping $100 plus in NM condition, this of course will not be a set that I'll be completing anytime soon, but the thrill of the hunt so far has been fun.

What's truly sad however is my monthly card show at the mall is now a thing of the past. I'm hoping this is the case for only the summer months.  Without that show, there is nothing else remotely close (the closest monthly show is Erie, 1h 15 min away). The show was going to be a good source of cards that would keep me from buying most of them online in auctions and paying a fortune in shipping. 

The hunt continues....

Thanks for reading, Robert

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Insanity to the Max

I am spoiled, there's no denying it.  I'm on the 37th week of writing for the blog, and each week seems to bring more surprises my way.  When my wife sees those brown envelopes in the mailbox, she revels in calling me the "big fat brat". 

Every package has been filled with cardboard goodness, whether it be 1 card, or in some cases, hundreds of cards.  Each of them from a variety of sources, but mostly from bloggers, or blog readers such as yourself.

But when you have other people hunting for cards for you, well that's a feeling that you just can't describe.  The stories contained in some of the envelopes are just as good, if not better than the cards themselves.

Case in point.  Max from the Starting Nine blog sent me an envelope last week, naturally filled with Blue Jays goodness.  OK OK, I'll only show you a handful...just because

Top center:  2003 Topps Jays team card.  No matter what anyone else says, I love that Jays logo...

Bottom left:  Dustin McGowan from Topps '52 set released in 2006.  Still love these cards, might be a set to collect down the road sometime.

Bottom center:  Jesse Barfield '88 OPC.  Always great to get another OPC card in the collection, and every time I see Jesse I am reminded of the time he gunned out a runner at 3rd base with a strike from the right field corner in the old Exhibition Stadium.  The throw was on a rope, no bounce...still the most amazing throw I've ever seen.

Bottom right:  Lee Gronkiewicz '07 Topps.  No other reason than I like saying Gronkiewicz.

I don't know if you are aware of this or not, but Max has an affinity for the dime boxes.  That's where he seems to find the best stuff for me.  This time was no exception.  Oh, by the way did I mention that sent me an email after I received the first package from him that he had forgotten the serial #'d cards, and sent them right away in a 2nd bubble mailer?  Now that's dedication...

There were 7 cards in the envelope, I'm going to show you 3...

First, one of the best nicknames in baseball today....the "Hammer"  Joel Hanrahan

I found it hard to believe that this guy was a starter in his first year in the bigs.  Joel has such a closers mentality, and the heat to back it up.  I hope for the Pirates sake they lock him up for a while, because the fans love him in Pittsburgh.

Next, Castro's biggest fan!!

MLB may not like what he said about Castro, but you know what, I defend his right to say what he said.  Ozzie is a helluva spokesman, and one of the most colorful personalities the game has right now.  I think he and Miami are a great fit together, and here's hoping that he has long term success down there.

Finally, this next card was found in a dime box...which makes me both happy and sad.

Yep, that's a 1980 Topps RC, Dave Stieb sans mustache.  Yes, off center, but I don't care, otherwise the card is in great shape and finds a welcome home here.

If you're not reading Max's blog yet, you need to start.  For a guy that was worried he wouldn't have enough to say when he was starting out, he's got a helluva read going so far, and a unique concept to boot.

Max, thank you very much for the cards, as always they are greatly appreciated!!

Thanks for reading, Robert

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Don't let me buy from Sportlots...please!

How did blog reader Bruce ( I don't think he has a blog) save me from myself you ask?  Bruce made me an offer I couldn't refuse after reading my week 34 opening post about '12 Heritage being trade bait.  Bruce even did all the work, had all the cards going each way hammered out on both sides, all I had to do is reply with my address and a "works for me" email, and another trade is born.

Bruce has read enough to know that Jays are welcome, especially those of the parallel/numbered variety

Bruce was also able to knock off a couple of the SPs I need for '11 Heritage, I think I'm down below 50 that I need now...

Finally, in return for all the Heritage base I will be sending him (Bruce, your package goes out Saturday for sure, thank you for your patience), he sent me a majority of my wants for the 2008 UD Series I set. 

There were also 2 cards out of this lot that stood right out....first the good, Johnny Gomes

Fly, be free!!

Now, a card that my wife described by saying "I guess they didn't need the lights on at the stadium when he pitched that night huh?"

They call me mellow yellow

OK...onto how you can save me from Sportlots....

I'm very close to completing not one, not two, but 3 sets...2011 Topps Chrome, 2008 UD Series I and 2002 UD Series II.  Here's what I need for each set:

2011 Topps Chrome, 2 cards:  20 & 170
2008 Upper Deck series I, 8 cards:  87,100,136,138,225,257,291,349
2002 Upper Deck series II, 9 cards:  502,506,521,528,531,533,586,618,721

 Any help on these would be greatly appreciated...

Thanks for reading, Robert

Monday, April 9, 2012

Stuck for a post...Random Blue Jays card it is

Stuck isn't the word.  Nothing came to mind when sorting through current sets, a total blank.

So what do I do?  I go to old reliable, a Blue Jays post.  2 out of 3 on the weekend against the Tribe is a good start to the season, but of course the only game I was able to watch out of the series was the game they lost on Sunday (I wonder if that's an omen). 

I have a 3 row box of cards, 2 of the 3 rows containing Blue Jays cards.  Being the fool that I am, I figure I'll leave it in the fates of someone else to prod me along.  I call to my wife, "pick a number between 1 & 250".  After laughing at me for a moment, she comes up with the number.....139.

So I go through the first row to the 139th card in the stack.

Yeah, I know.  Figures doesn't it?  I don't get a random player card, or an oddball set from some year that I hardly collected.

2007 Topps # 591  Jays Team Card.  Yikes. 

OK, well the picture is of the 2006 team, so let's take a look at the team then. 

They didn't fare too badly, 87-75, 2nd place 10 games behind the Yankees.  This team definitely could hit the ball.  Out of the 10 players who had the most plate appearances, only 2 of those hit below .280.  One of those was Troy Glaus, who had 38 HR, 104 RBI and led the team in runs with 105.  The club as a whole hit 199 HRs, a solid number for the dome, but couldn't run worth a lick.  65 stolen bases shows that the team was made more for the long ball rather than taking extra bases and playing small ball.

The pitching, well that was a different story.  There were only 2 starters that took their turn every 5th day.  Roy Halladay has his normal 16 win season, 3.19 ERA, 1.100 WHIP.  Ted Lilly manages to win 15 games even with a mid 4 ERA and 1.431 WHIP.  After that, the rotation is full of part timers that must have had John Gibbons pulling his hair out.  The only other 10 game winner was A.J. Burnett, and every other starter who started at least ten times had an ERA over 5 (Josh Towers' ERA was 8.42). 

BJ Ryan and Justin Speier both had excellent campaigns in the pen.  Brandon League also had a decent season, alas he is now the closer in Seattle.  Other than that, there was a whole lot of ordinary.  Jeremy Accardo's ERA was near 6, Dustin McGowan's ERA was over 7.  Scott Scheoneweis was trotted out there 55 times and had an ERA of 6.51. 

Here's a stat to illustrate the season in a nutshell.  The Jays had 53 games that were blowouts (decided by 5 or more runs), and they were 29-24 in those games.  That's crazy.   They scored 10 or more runs 13 times, the most being 13 runs which they accomplished 5 times.  They gave up 10 or more runs 9 times, including a 17 run and a 15 run game.  Chances are if you were playing the Jays in '06, you were in for a lot of scoring.  
Their longest winning streak of the season was 5 games...June 27 through July 1. 
Their longest losing streak of the season was 7 games...July 29 through August 5

They were in 4th for one day during the season, every other day they were in 3rd place or better in the division.  Maybe the turning point of the season? 4.5 games out on July 23rd, they went on a 9 game road trip and went 2-7, including being swept by the Yankees at the end of the trip.  The Jays scored a total of 4 runs in the 3 games in Yankee stadium, and were 8.5 GB when it was said and done. time we get a player card...

thanks for reading, Robert

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Joy of a completed set: 2009 OPC baseball

Yes indeed, the set that was started because of a commercial from the 70's inspiring me to figure out how many packs it took to complete a set.  2009 Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee is in the books.

In the end, I cracked 2 hobby boxes, 7 blaster boxes, and 8 loose packs for a total of 185 packs before I decided that I had way too many duplicates, and would just complete the remainder via trades or purchasing singles.

The last 14 cards came in this week via a Sportlots purchase, and finally this set is put to bed.

Pictured above are the final 14, and outside of Jeter none of them cost me a kings ransom.  I've now completed 14 sets since I started the blog last August, and the train should keep rolling over the next couple of weeks here as I am very close to completing 2 other sets.

For those who followed, thanks for following along.  Who knows, maybe I'll be able to find another larger set like this someday to try and see how many packs it takes to complete. 

Thanks for reading, Robert