Sunday, August 31, 2014

A couple days off

During my hiatus from the daily grind of blogging, I kept thinking back to the 80's and the Huey Lewis song "A Couple Days Off".   One of the lyrics described how I felt to a T. 

I am only human, I am no machine...
With that in mind, I stepped away from any thoughts of cards and blogging for a few days.  Once I returned from my trip to the Great White North, I decided to clean the blog up a bit.  The banner is gone.  The font has been made easier to read.  My pages are on the sidebar now rather than up top.   I removed a couple of widgets that I felt weren't serving any purpose.

I also decided to torture everyone with a mini marathon of by the page posts, in an attempt to get some of the Jays cards off of my desk.   Mission accomplished.

I also put the "what's next?" tournament on hiatus for a week.  It will return this weekend with the start of the semi finals.

I also have to thank a trio of bloggers who sent me cards out of the blue while I was on hiatus.

A big thanks to Doug who sent me a massive stack of Blue Jays, along with some Joe Sakic PC items and three cards to knock off the SNI want list.

A much smaller envelope also arrived a couple of weeks back from Matt, who sent me what probably will be the thickest card ever for my Jim Thome PC.

A great card, #'d out of 25!!  Matt also sent a couple of nice pieces for the Blue Jays collection, an Adam Lind auto and a numbered Roy Halladay card.   Great stuff, thank you Matt.

Finally, a very thick PWE made its way east courtesy of Jeff who sent me a nice stack of Blue Jays, including a 2008 Topps Blue Jays team set, and a handful of '84 Donruss for the collection as well.

Each time I get an envelope filled with Jays from the 80's and 90's, I end up looking at the cards and saying "don't I have this already??"  Then I look at the want list and the answer always is the same.

Nope.   Jeff, thank you for the PWE, it is greatly appreciated (Keep on writing btw!!)

So, for those of you that are still interested in reading my slice of insanity, thank you.

To those of you who endured all 10 by the page posts today, you're a better man than I am, and thank you!

I hope that all of you are enjoying your Labor (Labour) Day weekend, and having fun.   Whatever you do, drive safely and watch out for the crazy people!!

thanks for reading, Robert

By the page: 1983 Fleer

1983 Fleer for me epitomizes the phrase "less is more".  Simple design on the front, no frills.   The back has complete career stats, a bio and a "Did you know" section with tidbits on each player's career.

Top row:  Corner infielders

Did you know?  Neither Iorg or Mulliniks started their careers as 3rd basemen.  Iorg was a 2nd baseman, Mulliniks was drafted as a shortstop.
Did you know?  Willie Upshaw was a cousin of NFL players Marvin and Gene Upshaw.

Middle row:  the pitchers

Did you know?  that Joey McLaughlin was acquired by Toronto as part of the deal that sent Chris Chambliss to the Braves.
Did you know?  that Jim Clancy was credited with a win because the Baltimore Orioles deliberately walked off the field during a game in September of 1977.
Did you know?  that Roy Lee Jackson once sang the national anthem before a game (this was depicted on his '84 Fleer card)

Bottom row:   left, right, left

Did you know?  that Lloyd Moseby got his nickname "shaker" for his ability to elude defenders on the basketball court.
Did you know?  that Wayne Nordhagen was traded 3 times in 10 days during the '82 season, leaving the Jays and returning 10 days later.
Did you know?  that Ernie Whitt had 3 of the 10 HRs the Blue Jays hit against the Orioles in September of '87.

Did you know that I had to rescan the full page a 2nd time because I accidentally transposed the McLaughlin and Jackson cards?

Of course not, but you would have caught it if I hadn't...

193 cards out of the box.  Progress is being made, slowly but surely.

thanks for reading (if you still are), Robert

By the page: 2002 Topps

Think for a moment.  When was the last time you saw a post about 2002 Topps anywhere in the blogosphere?

Don't think too long, because it's probably been quite a long time.  Outside of the gold parallels that define my SNI project, I don't remember another set released by any of the major card companies that have the gold borders like 2002 Topps.

Top row:  the infield

Brad Fullmer had a very short lived but productive career in the bigs.  His 2000 season saw him hit 32 HR and drive in 104 for the Jays.  Homer Bush was part of the deal that saw Roger Clemens go to the Yankees, and in his first season in Toronto, he hit .320 with 32 steals, and looked to be a solid addition to the club.   He didn't make it through the 2002 season, being released on the 10th of May that year. 

Middle row:  Buck and a couple of starters

Not too often you'll see managers cards posted anywhere as well.  Buck only lasted 1 and 1/3 seasons as the skipper, before being replaced by Carlos Tosca.  2002 was a disaster for Loaiza, with an ERA of almost 6.  I think I would have rather had Michael Young and his bat for over a decade instead of the mess that was the 3 years Loaiza pitched in Toronto.  The Jays experimented with Kelvim Escobar as the closer in 2002.   38 saves was a good number, but 5-7 with an ERA over 4 led to him being put back into the rotation in 2003.

Bottom row:  the stars

Jose Cruz Jr came into 2002 on quite a roll, he had hit 65 HRs the past two seasons with the Jays. Cruz would only hit 18 homers in '02 and wound up signing in the off season with the Giants.  The 2002 season in Toronto would also mark the debut of a player who later on in the decade would become a big man in Philly, Jayson Werth.

I actually like how this page looks, not because of how I situated the cards, but because of the way the gold borders look together.  The only thing I believe that Topps could have done better was not use a ribbon for the players names, a regular rectangle would have done the job a lot better.

184 cards out of the box now....a couple of posts away from 200.

thanks for reading, Robert

By the page: Juan Guzman

There's a few stories over the history of the Jays franchise of players that come out of nowhere and make a big splash in their first season.  Juan Guzman was one of those stories.  Juan was acquired from the Dodgers in 1987 in a trade for Mike Sharperson, and 4 seasons later earned the runner up for Rookie of the Year (Chuck Knoblauch earned 26 of 28 1st place votes).

His claim to fame in Toronto was the strikeout; he finished in the top 10 in SO/9 innings five times as a Blue Jay. 

Top row:  the early years

I always loved the SP releases from Upper Deck in the early to mid 90's. Don't ask me why, I just did.

Middle row:  93-95

The only horizontal card on this page is dead center, from the '94 Score Select set.  At least they used two different photos on the front, not like other sets later on in the decade that had the same photo twice on the card.

Bottom row:  later on...

I've always enjoyed any card depicting a player signing for the fans.  The Collectors Choice SE card is a fine example.  The '96 SP on the right with the woodgrain border is probably my least favorite of the SP releases.

One knock on Guzman during his time as a Jay was his lack of durability.  He only had one season of his 8 in Toronto where he had over 30 starts.  His performance during the postseason made up for it.  His 8 starts led to a 5-1 record with a 2.44 ERA, and two rings.

I'd take that any day....

175 cards removed from the box now.   Closing in on 200...

thanks for reading, Robert

By the page: 1977 Topps

It still mystifies me as to why I didn't buy extra Blue Jay cards for my team set while I was putting together the '77 Topps set.

An easy task, yes, if you're thinking about it at the time.   Apparently it never did dawn on me.

Here's a page for your viewing pleasure, in all its airbrushed goodness.

Top row:  It's me, Dave

It's OK, there wasn't a great deal of confusion in the clubhouse when the name Dave was called out, because Dave Hilton never played a game in the Blue Jays system.  He actually never played a game in the majors after 1975, and was one of 2 #1 overall picks by the Padres (Dave Roberts being the other....there's that Dave name again) to be sold to the Blue Jays after the '76 season.  The other Dave's lasted 3 seasons in Toronto before moving on during the 1980 season (McKay as a free agent, Lemanczyk was traded to the Angels).

Middle row:  ABC

How desperate were the Jays for players in that first year?  Chuck Hartenstein hadn't pitched in the majors since 1970.  Both he and Bill Singer would see their last major league action during the 1977 season.  Alan Ashby had a solid career after he left the Blue Jays, moving on to Houston where he caught 3 no-hitters by 3 different pitchers (K. Forsch, Ryan, Scott).

Bottom row:  Great scrabble scoring names

Jim Mason didn't do much during his time with the Jays in '77, but he was traded that season for Roy Howell, who would have some success with the Jays during the next few seasons.  Jesse Jefferson was one of the few players from the '77 roster that made it as far as 1980 with the club.  His results weren't that great, but he was a regular starter the first two years, and then a steady swing man in 79-80.   Otto Velez enjoyed most of his major league success in Toronto, hitting 72 HRs over a 6 season period between 77-82.

How happy were the fans of Toronto to have a MLB team?  Even though the Jays only won 54 games that year, they still were 4th in the AL in attendance, with just over 1.7 million fans turning out.

This page brings the total to 166 cards out of the box....what's sad is that there's about 200 on the desk to my right that have to be cataloged to go into the box. 

Just like a never ending story....

thanks for reading, Robert

By the page: Roy Halladay

2 Cy Young awards.  5 other appearances in the top 5 of Cy Young voting.  203 wins.  I would say probably the 2nd best pitcher in Blue Jays history, only behind Dave Stieb (IMO).

Playing during the late 90's through 2013 makes it easy for me to put together a couple of different pages for Roy Halladay. 

Top row:  The base


The Turkey Red in the middle is one of my favorite sets, so I wanted to have it in the first row.  Honor Roll doesn't have a whole lot of cards, so knowing that I would not be creating a page from that set made it an easy inclusion for a Halladay page. 

Middle row:  A&G

Probably will be the easiest row of cards I'll ever put together for a Jays page.   Fabulous.

Bottom row:  Inserts

I tried to get 3 cards that had similar pitching poses together.  I think these 3 cards are pretty close...

All in all, a pretty good player page featuring one of the best Blue Jay hurlers ever.  This is the 6th by the page post today, and these posts have pulled 157 cards out of the box so far. 

thanks for reading, Robert

By the page: 1994 Topps

With the amount of player pages/set pages that I have available right now, it's been easy to alternate between the two.

The 1994 Topps set was an intriguing enough page for me to schedule for you Sunday morning coffee reading pleasure (hopefully). 

The '94 Topps set was 792 cards in total, with the Jays having all or part of 31 of the cards.   So a 2nd page for this set shouldn't be out of the question somewhere down the line.

Top row:  Rickey and the relievers

I had to check and see if this was the only card I had of Henderson as a Blue Jay.  I do have one other ('94 Collectors Choice).  That is a great shot of the bat going through the zone (check swing maybe?)

Middle row:  Turn your head and cough

Sometimes the horizontal cards are just perfect for the action in the photo.  The Fernandez card in my opinion had to be in the middle.

Bottom row:  Starters

Stottlemyre the only Blue Jay not in a game uniform on his card.   Would love to see something like what he's wearing as an alternate jersey for the Jays (the Pirates pull it off well with the gold 'P' on the black jerseys, why can't the Jays do something like that?)

I think that this page has a little bit of flow to it...and brings the total out of the box to 148 cards.  The piles are starting to shrink a bit.  


thanks for reading, Robert

By the page: Paul Molitor

I mentioned in the last post that the Jays have only had 5 players with 200+ hits in a season.  The 1993 season had 2 of those 5 occurrences.   John Olerud had exactly 200 hits, and a .363 average while placing 3rd in MVP voting.   While Olerud dominated the headlines in Toronto for most of that summer while flirting with .400, Paul Molitor was quietly putting up one of his best all around offensive seasons, ever.

.332 average (4th highest of his career).  211 hits (3rd highest of his career and 2nd highest Blue Jay total in history).  22 HRs and 111 RBI (highest HR total and 2nd highest RBI total of his career).  77 walks (highest total), .410 OBP (2nd highest total), and 2nd in MVP balloting (Frank Thomas unanimous winner that season).

Any wonder why even though Molitor spent just 3 seasons in Toronto I wanted to have a page of him (I'm 5 cards short of a 2nd page...something I'll be shooting for).

Top row:  Ring of Honor, Finest and Flair

No real rhyme or reason here, I just thought that these cards fit well together.

Middle row:  Die cut and silver parallels

Bat in hand, ready to do some damage.   That is how I will always remember Paul Molitor as a player.  Batting .500 in the '93 World Series and winning MVP only helps to enhance that image.

Bottom row:   Odds and ends

If you look closely at the card in the center, Molitor is listed as signing with the Twins on 12/5/95.  Still in his Jays uniform, I had no problem putting this card on the page.  Over his 3 seasons in Toronto, Molitor played 1st base in only 28 of those games, and none of them were in 1995.  The Collectors Choice card from '95 showing him playing the field was a must add...

I would say that this page is very representative of his time as a Blue Jay.  3 seasons of him as a Blue Jay in the mid 90's should be enough to net me a 2nd page of this Hall of Famer in the future.

148 cards out of the box.   Progress is being made...

thanks for reading, Robert

By the page: 2003 Donruss Champions

Before somebody sent me a bunch of these a while back, I will admit that I'd never seen (or heard of) them before.  2003 Donruss Champions was a 309 card set that featured a few decent RCs (Victorino, Weeks, Matsui) and some old timers (Brett, Yount, Whitey Ford). 

A couple of the cards listed as part of the Jays team set featured players in other team's uniforms.

Top row:  2 rookies and a prospect

At least Josh Towers' card featured him in a uniform with a bird on it.  Orlando Hudson (O-Dog) was a favorite of mine while he was with the Jays, largely because of how well he played defensively.  Kevin Cash was in Toronto for just 3 seasons, and spent most of his 8 year career as a back up catcher, hitting above the Mendoza line only twice.

Middle row:  2 rookies and a prospect, part 2.

Jason Dubois was a rule 5 draftee by the Jays in December of 2002.  He was returned to the Cubs in March of 2003.  Never saw a regular season game in Toronto.  Vinny Chulk lasted 3.5 seasons in Toronto before being traded to the Giants in 2006 for Jeremy Accardo.  Josh Phelps had a decent run in Toronto, hitting 47 HR in 3 seasons before being traded to Cleveland.

Bottom row:  Leaders

With all the great hitters that the Jays have had over their existence, Stewart's 202 hits in 2001 represents only one of 5 times that a Blue Jays player has amassed 200+ hits in a season.  Vernon Wells on the right holds the Jays record for hits in a season (215).   Delgado holds many other Blue Jay records, and I'd really like to see his #25 be the 2nd number retired by the Jays.

I doubt I would have ever collected this set back in the day, the design is kind of bland and the American League logo is probably unnecessary. 

These 9 more cards bring the total out of the box to 139.   Progress, slowly but surely.

thanks for reading, Robert

By the page: Eric Hinske

When I saw Eric Hinske coaching 1st base for the Cubs earlier this season, I was shocked.  I thought to myself "it wasn't that long ago that he was playing for the Jays, right?"

Sure enough, his career ended last year after 12 seasons in the bigs, which included a Rookie of the Year win in 2002 in Toronto (.279/24/84). 

Top row:  2003 Topps

What better way to start off the page than with cards from the year after his rookie season.  I especially like the Topps 206 card in the center...

Middle row: PDF

Anyone else think that Playoff Prestige was a cheap knock off of the Gold Label releases of the previous few seasons?  Diamond Kings have always been a favorite of mine, and placing that card in the middle was a no-brainer for me.  

Bottom row:  Reaching

As you can see, towards the end I was a little limited in what I had to choose from as far as Hinske cards go.   The shot of him warming up with a bad on a tarp (?) was an interesting one.

What would have made this page better is a 3rd "art" card for the bottom center.  All in all, the page didn't turn out too bad for a guy who didn't have a very long career (5 years) in Toronto.

Up to 130 cards now out of the box.  Still have quite a few of these posts coming your way; enjoy them along with your Sunday!

thanks for reading, Robert

By the page: Score '91 Traded

Hard to believe that a team could actually end up with a page worth of cards from a traded set.  The Blue Jays managed this with 9 cards out of the 110 that appear in this release, including the RC of long time reliever Mike Timlin.

Top row:  Pitchers and a guy who hits for the pitcher

Timlin turned out to be one of the most durable relievers during his 18 year career, the first 5 1/2 being spent in a Jays uniform.  Timlin pitched in 70+ games during a season 4 times, and had 60+ appearances in another 6 seasons.  Candiotti was a true rental for the Jays, only pitching in 19 games during the '91 season.  Pat Tabler's favorite pitcher to hit against?  The numbers suggest that it's Tommy John (.520--13/25).

Middle row:  Robbie, Eddie and Cory

Ed Sprague Jr. had a slightly longer career than his dad, Ed Sprague Sr. did, lasting 11 years in the bigs compared to Senior's 8.  Alomar is still the only Blue Jay to have his number retired (12) by the club.  Not bad for having played in T.O. for only 5 seasons.  Snyder's time in Toronto was quite forgettable; he wound up moving on to San Fran and Los Angeles to be a utility man for the next three years.

Bottom row:  The outfield

It's not too often that a team replaces their entire outfield from the previous season and wins a division title.  The 1990 Jays outfield consisted of George Bell, Mookie Wilson and Junior Felix.  Bell signed a free agent deal with the Cubs, Wilson became the 4th outfielder in Toronto and Felix was traded to Anaheim for White.  One of these days, I'm going to have to make a Devon White page, simply because he loses his equipment (helmets/bats) on more cards than anyone I've ever seen.

Interesting choice of the red border by Score for the '91 Traded set.  121 cards out of the box now and into pages.   Over the next couple of days you're going to see a major dent put into the piles on my desk.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Monday, August 18, 2014

By the page: 2012 Gypsy Queen

2012 Gypsy Queen was the first of the Topps old time releases that I dove into upon starting this blog.  It wasn't as popular as the inaugural release the previous year, but I still enjoyed collecting it.

The past couple of years I've stayed away from GQ, mainly because of my desire to cut down on the modern releases that I wanted to build.

I did manage to dig 9 cards from the 2012 release out of the Blue Jays box, which provides another page to show off.

Top row:  Pitchers 

A lot of promise in this row.  Sergio Santos is the only one that is still pitching this year, and right now he's doing that in AAA Buffalo.  Morrow's days in Toronto are likely numbered, his inability to stay healthy will probably lead to the Jays not to pick up his 2015 option.  Ricky Romero had surgery on his knees in June, ending his 2014 season.  The stats down in AAA Buffalo didn't look good there, he does have one year left on a 5 year $30 million deal.  Hopefully he can regain the form he had between 2009-2011.

Middle row:  Joey Bats and Colby

I don't have the Jose Bautista SP version that shows him hitting, so I replaced it with the Moonshots insert.  I love the wine (?) colored border, so for me it was an easy choice as a replacement.  Rasmus is another player I could see the Jays letting go in the off season.  Anthony Gose is a suitable replacement in center in my opinion.

Bottom row:  Out of town

Upon seeing Arencibia and Escobar's cards, I wondered if there was a 3rd player that I could slot in with those two.  Thames was traded to Seattle for Steve Delabar back in 2012.  I wondered where he's been, because I haven't heard his name the past couple of seasons.   A little digging and I found out that he's playing for the NC Dinos in the Korean Baseball league. 

Put them all together, and you have this:

Not a bad looking page, the greyish green borders kind of get monotonous.  The Bautista Moonshots card in the center actually makes the page look a bit colorful.

I'm up to 112 cards out of the box, into pages, and displayed on the blog.  I actually have quite a stack on my desk that are ready for pages, so I'll probably be mixing  more of these posts in during the near future.

Try to keep the groaning to a minimum....please!

thanks for reading, Robert

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Human Vacuum Cleaner and other cards from the Commish

One thing that the "What's Next?" tournament has given me is the opportunity to deal with other collectors/bloggers that I haven't had an opportunity to talk to in the past.   One of those is Commishbob, who runs the Five Tool Collector blog.  If you don't follow it, I suggest you do, because Bob has recently posted a great variety of cards, including flag and plane cards (which were fabulous), along with a few Baltimore Orioles from his collection.  Bob also has a retired vintage blog, '59 Topps:  one f/g card at a time, which was one of the first vintage card sets that I started following.   Bob has lobbied for the '59 set in the tournament a couple of times on his "retired" blog, which is really appreciated here. 

Bob sent me an email last week asking for my address, because he had a few cards he felt would be good additions to my collection. 

He hit so many want lists, it's tough to start somewhere. Let's start with another piece to the SNI puzzle, Miguel Tejada.

A shiny and colorful way to start off, no?  Miguel is serial # 1252, and is the 37th Astro card for the set.  The SNI is down to 249 cards remaining, and the Tigers still are the team with the lowest number of cards for the set (33).

What would a package that arrives at my house be without a few Blue Jays inside.   Here's a card that I've never seen before.

I can only recall a couple of Al Oliver cards in my Blue Jays collection, so this is a welcome addition.  I took a little digging, but I found out that this is from the Woolworth's Topps set, a 33 card release in 1986.  Oliver is the only Jay featured, making this one of the easiest set completions that I've had. 

A bit of the old and new here.  I was just able to put together a Dave Stieb page for the Jays collection, so this card will have to wait.  When I first saw the 2012 Opening Day Stars card of Jose Bautista, I thought that I already owned it.   Wrong again!!  Another great add to the collection.

A couple of more jersey cards to add to the collection!!  I'm realizing that Vernon Wells has a boat load of jersey cards, many of which I saw at the National a couple of weeks ago.  It was amazing how fast the star of J.P. Arencibia fell in Toronto, and it doesn't appear to be rising at all down in Texas.  Not hitting your weight will do that for you.  

Bob didn't hesitate to knock off cards from my 60's want lists as well.

2 each from the '62 and '68 sets was a great start...

The '68 and '62 sets both have a very long way to go for completion, but each are 2 cards closer now.   I regret not hunting for a few '62s at the National, since I still am 21 cards away from my goal of 30% completion by the end of the year.  Hopefully I can rectify that when the monthly mall show returns in September (at least I hope it returns).

Finally, as the post title indicated, the best card of the bunch, Brooks Robinson.

A fantastic card!!  It's in great shape, an absolute beauty for my '64 set.  I didn't even have to pry it out of Bob's hands!  This card brings me down to 113 left to go for the set, and now I have a little more hope that I can get that number below 100 by year's end.

If you haven't voted yet for this week's match between 76T and 67T, please take a moment and leave  a comment on the post (67 is out to an early lead, but that could change by week's end).

Bob, thank you very much for the cards, they are greatly appreciated!!!

thanks for reading, Robert