Monday, April 15, 2019

2019 Brewers NOW is LIVE

My most anticipated release of the 2019 card season was the return of my own Brewers NOW brand and... with a fresh blanket of goddamn snow on the ground... a bit of summer arrived in my mailbox today with the first installment of this year's set, ordered via the Rookie App for iPhone. 

I opted for the low-key look of 1985 Donruss this year, after using a pseudo-80s Topps look for 2018. This is one of the 15 or so design templates in the Rookies app and it wasn't one that I was giving much consideration when I first began to plan for this year's set. But I liked the idea of an all-black boarded set and the simple layout and large photo area grew on me. Seeing these in person for the first time, I am really impressed with how they turned out. Lorenzo Cain gets the honors as card #1 this year, and I love that image of him after his game-saving catch on Opening Day. I wanted to get at least one card in the set with a photo from the Brewers' exhibition games in Montreal just after Spring Training ended, and I found a decent one for the Brandon Woodruff card. 

One thing absent from this year's set will be coaches cards. I went all-out last time and made cards for the entire staff. But with some significant turn-over for 2019, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to find photos of all the new guys (several of my coach cards from last year were years-old photos). So I'm keeping it simple and making only a card of skipper Craig Counsell, capturing a rare moment where he is smiling in the dugout. 

Here's a pair of fun pics... the close-up on Grandal and a peek-a-boo shot of Freddy Peralta. I might stick true to the 80s theme and include more candid portraits like the Grandal in this year's set. We'll see how it shakes out. 

You'll notice the accent color changing on these. I got a bit clever here and decided to alternate red-blue-white every three cards, setting up a nice look for the binder. It also gives that cool and very-80s splayed out look. 
Mr. MVP, of course, needs a stand-out card, and I was glad to find this fun pic of him after the sweep of the Reds. 
And here's an example of the backside. Sticking with the Donurss theme, I'm giving these guys the full-name treatment and including contract status info. I was never big into Donruss as a kid, but always got a kick from seeing the player's full names. I still remember being FLOORED when I learned Nolan Ryan's real first name was Lynn. 
Here are a pair of the season highlight cards. Again, this was a design I didn't really want anything to do with, but once I started playing around with it, I came to love the look. It has a hint of '71 Topps and leave plenty of space for vital info. I didn't include any game info (date, score) on last year's highlights, but I think it really works here. And I am alternating color schemes here as well, swapping blue for gold on every other card. These are both from Opening Day. 
Both the back designs for the highlights and player cards remain the same as last year, as the Rookies app only has these two options for backs with any content. But it works out well and I've learned to cut back on the text for these cards, as to leave them clean and readable. 

Of course, the ultimate test for these is how they look paged-up. I gotta say, I really dig the way these came out. 
Even more so for the highlight cards. The point of all this is to tell the story of season, and I'm thrilled that I'm well on my way again this year. Now, all the Brewers need to do is win the World Series... 

Easy peasy, yeah?


Saturday, March 2, 2019

A Little Change Did Me Good...

Tis the season for change, right? Why not? Things are changing me for me in good ways lately. I just landed a new job as a reference librarian, which is a great change since I'm going to be graduating in May with a degree in Library Science. I had been searching for a while, and to celebrate the end of stressful time, I decided to hit up an area card show. Of course, I'm still not getting PAID the new money, so I decided to use some old money - namely, all of the change I could find in our apartment. It ended up totaling over $58 and I even held a little twitter contest for whoever guessed closest based on some pictures I posted. It was such a hit that people are STILL guessing, even though I've already posted the answer and named a winner. 

The show was in Oak Creek, way the the hell south of me, down by the airport. It was small space, but a nice show with a pretty decent crowd. Admission was free and guests could even help themselves to two free packs (2019 Topps even!) as the walked in. I didn't have much of a plan for the show, but wanted to fill some set needs and hopefully find some good vintage deals. 

And set needs I filled indeed. I picked up a gang of 1971 Topps I needed as well as some stars from other 70s sets. 

Dig these bad boys. The Yaz and Fisk were $2 each and the two Aaron were $4 each. That '75 Aaron is a hell of deal. I have one already, but now I can have one in both my '75 set and in my Brewers collection. 

Speaking of Brewers, I also filled some holes in my Brewers autograph needs list. Two dollars for Matt Garza was both a deal and made me feel like I'd been cheated. 

Sticking with the Crew, I was thrilled to find these two All-Decade team sets. They were issued as stadium give-aways during the 2001 season and are notoriously hard to find. I had the 70s set but could not find the 80s and 90s sets for less than $20 each on the bay. I snagged these two for $3 each. 

And I managed to strike another long-time want off my lists when I found this 1991 Topps Desert Shield Greg Vaughn for JUST A DOLLAR. I know there are lots of fakes out there of this set, and I was fully expected this to turn out to be phony, but everything I read online after the show indicates it's the real deal. 

Back to vintage, I got this pair of #1s for $3 total.

And this sweet Dick Allen for a buck.

And what I guess would be Eddie Gaedel's rookie card, from the 1961 Nu-Card Scoops set. This ran me $2.

And the Ol' Perfesser! Looking miserable as the skipper of the 150-loss 1961 Mets. Just $3. 

And how about a trio of second-year studs! Ok, so the Carew and Catfish are third-year cards, but whatever. Three baby-faced HOFers for less than the cost of two packs of 2019 flagship (which I got for free at the show, anyway). 

But what about this Carew?? That's still about half what even the lowest-condition examples on eBay sell for. 

Hmm. Whatever, I consider that an upgrade. And you know what's kind of weird? Of all the pitchers who faced Rod Carew 35 or more times, only Rod Guidry held Carew to a lower AVG or slugger percentage than Sam McDowell. Carew only batted .174 off McDowell, managing only five singles in 35 trips to the plate. Carew never faced Dick Selma.

And then the BIG GET. A Billy Williams rookie card, which ran me just three dollars. Now, I'm not much of a Billy Williams fan (and those Cubs, wretch), but I couldn't hardly turn down a nearly 60 year old HOFer rookie for just three bucks. 

And I even managed to leave the show with money in my pocket. Not a bad haul for a ten-bag sack of pennies and dimes.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

I am the Keon King - A 2019 Goal Met

One of my 2019 collecting goals was to become of the "king" of something on the Trading Card Database. Well, less than two months into the year, I have done it. I am now officially the TCDB's #1 Keon Broxton collector. Not only that, but I've done it with ONLY Brewers cards - even though Keon has both Pirates and DBacks cardboard available. 

So why Keon Broxton? Why a guy who played just a single full-time season with Brewers, never made an All Star team or won an award, and is now with the Mets? Well, it's pretty simple - Keon Broxton was a ton of fun to watch and has a lot of great cards. 

This is the bunch that put me over the top - a six card lot of Topps High Tek that I picked up on eBay for a few bucks. The fact that not many other collectors are into Keon helps, as his stuff is usually pretty cheap. This lot yielded two numbered cards, for example, and cost me less than a buck each.

Keon spent most of 2018 in AAA and has, despite from gaudy numbers, probably been no more than little better a league-average player so far in his three-year career. He strikes out a lot and doesn't hit for much of an average. And despite his speed, he doesn't rack up many doubles or triples. But when he connects, he can generate filthy power. He hit 20 homers in 2017, included a 489-foot monster in St. Louis that was the longest ever hit at Busch Stadium.

But he's someone that can really, really shine at times. He is something of an expert at robbing home runs. So much so that many of his cards are devoted to it.

Does anyone else have TWO Topps Now cards dedicated to game-saving homer-robbing catches?

He also got a Now card for his ridiculous game June 29 game against the Reds. Just a few days after his first game back with the Brewers (he was called up when Lorenzo Cain went on the DL), he hit two homers and made a great play in the field. It was one of a number of circus catches he made in his first week back. So impactful was with the glove that per, he had amassed a defensive war of 1 FOR THE WEEK. A 1 defensive war is a pretty decent season.
And aside from all this, I've always felt like Keon seemed like a pretty fun guy in general and someone you just wanted to pull for. He's personally liked TWO of my tweets about him and his fun-loving nature made him very gif-worthy.

milwaukee brewers massage GIF by MLB

milwaukee brewers GIF by MLB

milwaukee brewers cap tip GIF by MLB

But sadly, Keon didn't really have a place on the Brewers roster and a month or so ago they traded him to the Mets where I really do hope he finds regular playing time and lots of success. He saw some action in the NLDS this year - he even hit a homer - but as far as ways go to end your regular-season career with a team, there was really no better way to do it than this:

So long, Keon.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A tour of my 2018 BREWERSNOW set - Part II

Here we go... after a mild twitter shaming from Vossbrink, I am back at posting my 2018 BrewersNOW set. You can check out the first 32 cards of the set here.

I am proud to say that between me, Nick, and Marc Brubaker, we've managed to create a nice little stir in the hobby. The wonderful SABR Baseball Commitee blog wants a post summarizing our experiences, so I've been compelled to contribute this post, which will be linked in the SABR post.

Of course, with the new season approaching, there has been much chatter about rebooting the idea for 2019. Nick and Marc both used designed their own sets with photoshop-type programs (I'm hopelessly dumb when it comes to stuff like that) and then had them printed in sheets (Marc has yet to do this, as of this writing, actually) and cut them up. Nick sent me some of his a few weeks ago and DAMN was I impressed. They were on much thinner stock than my Rookies App cards, but the photos were sharper and he, of course, had much more leeway in the design and backside features. They were also MUCH cheaper than my cards, which ran about 80 cents each (I think Nick's cost about a nickle each). But I am still leaning towards using the Rookie App for 2019 - if I do a 2019 set. 

My reticence is only that the 2018 season was SO great for the Brewers - literally the best year of Brewers baseball I've been around for, that trying the same thing in 2019 would be a set up for a let-down. Of course, the Brewers could very well repeat as NL Central Champs and make another playoff run, but there was something special in the symbiosis of this idea and that season that would be hard to replicate. 

AHHHAHAHAAH. Who am I kidding? I'm a junkie for this crap. Of Course I'm going to do it again. Anyway, on the second half of the player cards. 

 33. Jhouyls Chacin

 34. Matt Albers

35. Domingo Santana
Domingo had a very rough start to the year and spent most of 2018 at AAA. He did come back up in August and September and had some huge hits along the way. He was traded to the Mariners in the offseason. 

36. Wade Miley
I made this card during DL stints for Miley (this is actually him leaving a game with an injury) and didn't expect he'd end up anything like the team's defacto ace come October. 

37. Nick Franklin
One of the guys everyone forgets played for the '18 Crew, Franklin played in a single game and was injured, as depicted here. 

38. Derek Johnson
Another guy who won't be back in the 2019 set, DJ jumped to the Reds this winter. 

39. Tyler Saladino
This might be my second-favorite card in the set to the Lorenzo Cain from the previous post. That's Saladino in the dugout after his inside-the-park homer in Arizona. 

40. Dan Jennings
With relief pitcher photos limited, I had to horizontal-ize a few to get them to fit properly. I kind of like the sideways photo in the standard design, like Upper Deck used to do when horizontal cards were still a novelty. 

41. Carlos Subero

42. Corey Knebel
The only card I redid due to an error, in which I spelled his name "Knabel."

43. Freddy Peralta
A hell of a debut for Freddy, in which he fanned 13 Rockies and took a no-hitter into the sixth. 

44. Brandon Woodruff

45. Boone Logan

46. Alex Asher
This is the only photographic evidence I was able to find of Asher as a Brewer. I lifted it from a tweet from the team announcing he'd been sent to AAA. 

47. Zach Davies

48. Jason Lane

49. Erik Kratz
Along with the Suter and the Counsell, these were the three I re-did to upgrade the pictures. Like with Counsell, I had to use an emotional moment to best capture the season. We see the beginnings of a chat between Kratz and ornery prick (who I totally love) Joey Votto that eventually cleared the benches. Kratz gave the quote of the year after the game, when asked what prompted the heated moment. "We were discussing the Canadian dollar and flawed systems in our two governments. He was coming from a different side of it, and we were just discussing those kinds of things."

 50. Brad Miller

 51. Keon Broxton

52 Mike Zagurski
He will be the answer in a future Sporcle quiz about the 2018 Brewers that no one will ever remember. 

 53. Aaron Wilkerson
You'll notice we're kind of into the woods now. I made these cards mostly as the players debuted with the Brewers, so we're at the point in the season when lots of short-term bullpenners were being cycled between Milwaukee and AAA.

54. Nate Orf

55. Corbin Burnes

56. Joakim Soria
Here were have out first trade pick-up for the Crew. Soria was decent, but not spectacular. He won't be back in 2019. 

57. Mike Moustakas
Moose was the big get the Brewers, picked up at the deadline from KC for Brett Phillips and Jorge Lopez, both of whom have cards in the first half of this set. This is a pic from his Brewers debut.

 58. Jonathan Schoop
The Brewers also added Schoop at the deadline, but he struggled mightily in Milwaukee. 

 59. Jordan Lyles
Lyles was decent for the Brewers, but in an anonymous kind of way, thus I couldn't even find a picture of him in uniform where his face was showing. Oddly enough, he drew a walk and scored the winning run in a wild 13th inning walk-off against Pittsburgh, but I couldn't find any images of him from that night. 

 60. Gio Gonzalez
It took so long for Gio to get into a game after the Brewers picked him up, I had to use something like looks like a dumb Topps variation image. 

 61. Curtis Granderson
So far, this is the only Granderson Brewers card aside from a single Topps Now issue. I NEED more Grandy Brewers. 

 62. Xavier Cendo
Fitting, perhaps, that the final player card in the set is the only guy who is missing from my All-Time Brewers set. Despite having seen action in EIGHT different MLB seasons, he is without an MLB card and only has regional Minor League issues. He's appeared in 249 games, for hell's sake, give him some love, Topps. 

So, that makes 62 cards. One shy of seven complete pages. I have no more coaches or players to add... what should I do? What can POSSIBLY complete this set??

63. Bob Uecker
The only way to end it.

I'll be back soon with my game highlight cards!