Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Recently, I published a couple of blog posts on the final Major League appearances of Brewers legends Rollie Fingers and Cecil Cooper for my Brewers history blog at They were a follow-up to a couple of posts I'd written previously on the last games of Robin Yount and Henry Aaron. Aaron's farewell was largely ignored by the baseball world and Aaron himself seemed eager just to get it over with after struggling for two seasons with the Brewers. Yount, in his own Yount way, seemed nonplussed by the whole thing and delayed his decision on whether or not to retire until the last possible moment. In writing about Cooper and Fingers, I really had not idea what I would find out. I found both to be rather sad ends to extraordinary careers, with Fingers only a shadow of his former self and Cooper unable to even crack the lineup. By the end of their final season, there was no pomp or celebration. Just two tired men looking to leave Milwaukee and hoping to catch on somewhere else.

Learning the stories of their final seasons (and final appearances) has, for me, brought a touch of melancholy to their "sunset" cards. Fingers looks every bit his age on his 1986 Topps issue and a haggard-looking Cooper seems to have just weakly popped up on his '88 Topps. 

Let's have a blog bat-around! Is there a particular card that, for you, is tinged with sadness? 

Friday, May 26, 2017

2014 Topps Series Two Box Break

I don't have the energy for an intro. On to the haul...

Base Card Notables!

Matt Garza. I know the Brewers are were in first place and everyone is excited panicking. And they do have an exciting team and I think they are going to be a contender sooner than people might think, but this ain't their year. Part of the reason they've gotten off to such a hot start is because Dr. Matt Garza has been pitching like an ace. He will regress and the pitching staff will trouble this team all season long. 

Josh Willingham. 'Ham has actually been out of baseball since 2014. I'll admit though, I had to check to see if he was still around. He has a career OPS+ of 120, which is far better than I would have guessed. Why did I post a card of a guy about whom I am so ignorant? I liked the picture. 

Andrew McCutchen MVP. Cutch has dropped way off since his '12-'15 run of four straight top-3 finishes in the MVP voting. It's a shame. He's an exciting player and seems like a good guy. 

J.A. Happ. Nothing sensational about this card, but I was looking for an excuse to mention that I went on a couple of dates with Happ's cousin. She was nice and all, but we were not a good match. I met her at this real dirt-bag bar in Milwaukee, but she ended up not being a dirt-bag kinda girl. C'est la vie. Our first date was to dinner, where she told me her cousin was a Major Leaguer. I will, somewhat ashamedly, admit that the only reason I asked on a second date was because her cousin was a Major Leaguer. Why she accepted, I have no idea. We went to a movie and never talked to each other again. 

Corey Hart. An unfamiliar uni Brewer! Hart missed the entire '13 season with an injury before catching on the Mariners. He didn't do much there, or in Pittsburgh, where he finished up his career. 


Let's get the stuff I covered in the series one post out of the way first.

Mutilated Minis. These look even worse than the series ones. Although I did get a Yount and a Braun, which I will put into my Brewers collection. Up for grabs, Tulo (56) and Dom Brown (86)

Future is Now. Wacha (31), Billy Hamilton (36), Xander (41), Walker (44), Jarrod Parker (50), Freeman (52), Gausman (58)

Power Players - Chris Davis, Tex, Josh Hamilton

Red foilies - Prado (349), Reyes (356), Reddick (416), Verlander (450), Corbin (611), Blanks (640)

Gold, #/2014, I got a lot of these for some reason, no Brewers though :( - Ed Jackson (361), Ryan Zimmerman (378), Ed Lucas (387), Gentry (477), Kobernus (443), Morrison (490), Rasmus (571), Josh Hamilton (575), Jenrry "Grounded for Life" Mejia (591), Aliva (633)

 Slate/black/whatever - Addison Reed (551), 8/63

Saberstars - 2014 was the first year that Topps added WAR to the back of the base cards. I like the move and would welcome more advanced stats as well. To celebrate, they put out this pathetic insert set that lists a player's war and discussed it a bit on the back. so, fine, whatever. But can we talk about the design here? Sabermetrics... so, like, computers? Yeah! But what people from 1977 thought computers would look like in the future. Oh, and that dial in which the WAR number is shown? Yeah, that dial does not relate at all to the number. Matt Carpenter has a seven and his goes up to about 9 o'clock. Robby Cano had a six and his runs almost to 11 o'clock. Let's just call this the "BEEP BOOP BEEP" set. Cutch (4), Donaldson (5), Carpenter (6), Cano (7), Miggy (8)

Future Stars that Never Were. 2014 also saw the return of Future Stars. I wasn't wild about its use in the base set (it was a foil stamp, I wanted a big ugly colorful graphic), but this is a really cool idea - to go back and retroactively assign Future Star status to old cards. These are the hella-thick insert of the set, I like the others from this break, I think they are the best-looking inserts in the bunch. I got a Schmidt and an RA Dickey, as well as a gold-bordered Jose Canseco numbered 80/99. 

Buybacks. Two more here, and two pretty decent players as well. Bill Madlock (55) and Ron LeFlore (80), both from 1980. Series 2 uses a bigger 75th Anniversary stamp, which is easier to read and looks nicer than the little ones in series one. Both are up for trade. 

Barf relic. In the FIRST DAMN PACK I found this thing. I dislike closers in general and, even though he's a Brewer now, I have no use for this thing at all. I'd like to do a box break and pull an auto, just once. I'll pulled autos, but never from a box. 

SP. I think this is the only one I got in the bunch. I've reserved time at the local observatory so I can use one of their NASA-grade telescopes to read the tiny code numbers on the back of each card, so I'll know for sure then. The only reason I noticed this one is because it's a series one card that showed up in my series two box. Is that normal? Anyway, it shows him in his Futures Game uni, which makes it rare. Anyone interested?

So, there you have it. My three boxes of fun and fury. Now I gotta find some money for 9-pockets to hold all these beauties. Blood bank, here I come!!!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

2014 Topps Series One Box Break

I only had a handful of 2014 Topps cards going into this little box-buying spree of mine. Summer of 2014, let's see, I was living on the corner of Park and Oakland and had just finished my Milwaukee Mayhem book and was about to begin my next one. I still had not yet met my wife and was dating a girl who was no damn good for me at all. The Brewers were running away with first place in the NL Central, but I felt the whole time like they would blow it in the end (they did). In late summer, I went to Austin for a week of research at the LBJ library. Austin is a nice place and I got drunk by the pool in the sunshine each evening after I was done at the library. I still haven't used the research I did at the library (on pornographic movie theaters, it was going to be for the PhD that I never finished), but it was a fun time in carefree summer. And, for whatever reason, I didn't buy many packs of Topps. 

But enough of my yackin.' Whattya say? Let's boogie!

The box yielded 307 of the 330 base cards (93%) and ZERO doubles. Nice. Here are some cuties from the base set:

Mike Trout. A mecha-god sent to this planet to destroy time. He could retire tomorrow and still - by far - have the best numbers of this decade. 

Coco Crisp. Another way-fun A's card. People might whisper Oscar Gamble here, but this is - to me - pure Angela Davis

Mike Napoli World Series Game 1. Look at that vendor in the background. He must be HUGE. He takes up as much space in the image as Nap and he's at least, what, 60 feet away from him? Forget what I said about Trout, yellow shirt is the mecha-god. 

Brayan Pena, card back. I picked Pena because when I still played MLB The Show, he was his own kind of mecha-god. Every franchise I played, the first move I made was to pick up Brayan Pena. Anyway, it's a nice backside. And I love that they replaced the "chase" crap from '13 with a anecdote about the player's rookie season. They're actually interesting.

Mariano Rivera. Mecha-god... ok, I'll stop. I often wonder if modern advertising on cards will age like ads from 30-40 years ago did. To me, right now, the two ads behind Mo are ugly and invasive. But I love the RC Cola ad on the '71 Nolan Ryan. Maybe those kind of things need to become functionally obsolete before they can become pop art. 

Eric Sogard. More like So-(mecha) GOD. Sogard has been ridiculous this year as a mid-season call-up for my Brewers. I hope he keeps it up long enough to get his a nice card in this year's update set. 

Kendrys Morales. One of the great cards of this set, his Mariners teammates try to keep him from repeating his infamous walk-off broken leg that cost him more than a year on the DL. Also the rare card where the subject player in out of focus. 

Adrian Beltre. He's about to have his head touched. 

Khris Davis. I miss this guy. And I'll use his card as an excuse to talk a bit about the '14 design. I don't HATE it... but that little bulge on the side with the team name is so unnecessary. It crowds the picture and just makes for an overall cluttered and un-congruent look. Great designs usually have a single defining feature - like the ribbon from '89, or the borders of '87, or the looming team name of '75... this is a ribbony, name-hump, silver swoosh sorta thing? It feels like they mashed a few ideas together. I don't hate it, but I find little to like about it. 


Less is better, right? We'll see. 

"The Future is Now" 2014's theme was rookies or some such nonsense. These honor "Welcome to the majors moments" with bland photos and dumb headline-style titles ("There's a New Darvish in Town"). I did get a Brewer in this bunch, after being shut out with Brewers inserts in the first box. I'll keep him, but the rest are up for swap. Miller (2), Wheeler (12), Ryu (16), Trout (19), Machado (23, 24), Puig (25), Darvish (27). 

"50 Years of the Draft" I like the Bench card here, using a photo from '69 Topps, but a sharp-focused version of it from the vault. Wouldn't that be cool? Crystal-clear reprints of iconic Topps card photos? There's a concept. Anyway, this set ain't that. I also have David Price.

"Upper Class" These have all the look and feel of a late-90s Upper Deck issue. The use of the word "Upper" helps that, I'm sure, but these really would have fit in with '98 UD as a Star Rookies subset or something. This set recalls various players' rookie seasons. I have Cespedes (4), Harvey (5), Stras (13), Hanley (21), Matt Cain (22), McCann (28), Holliday (30), Glavine (38), Maddux (39). 

Mutilated '89 Minis. I remember, as a a kid, using a scissors to cut the boarders off of various cards, just for the sake of doing it. 1989 Topps was definitely one that I trimmed. Mostly because I was ten years old and bored. Why in the hell Topps chose to do that with these minis is beyond me. They're weird and ugly and not even trimmed very well (series 2 was even worse). I did notice, however, that placed on the wood grain of my desk, it created a kind of cool effect. Like an 87 and 89 Topps mash-up. Oh! Vintage design mash-ups!! Another fun concept that I just dreamed up. I've got Koufax (7), Schmidt (16), Ozzie (24), Peddy (33), Verlander (41).

All-Rookie Cup Team. a tougher pull (I only got two), this set honors one of the most iconic bits of cardom - the Topps All Star Rookie Cup. I've always loved the cup cards and when I was a kid... (looks at card) WHAT THE HELL! Hey, let's do an all-rookie cup set and not only NOT USE THE CUP ON THE CARD, but also use HALF of it for a team logo and big splash of dull grey. This set is revolting. I got Jeter and Jim Rice. If no one wants them, I will burn these cards and send them to hell. 

"Before They were Great" Like the Elite cards from 2013, these are thick and pretty. I got a Rickey Henderson I'm gonna keep and a Bob Gibson up for trades. 

"Power Players" Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Altuve, Holliday, and Brian "Arbiter of Baseball the Right Way" McCann. 

Parallels: I'm tired of writing about these. I got (red) 25, 157, 178, 235, 240, 308. 

Gold / 2014: 79, 203, 251, 289.

Slate? Black? Whatever it is, Leonys Martin, 2/65, #82. 

The Box Hit: James Shields white thing. Take it. 

BUYBACKS! You know, I had never gotten a buy back card before this box. They're kinda fun. I got a 1975 #182 Don Hahn and a 1996 #165 Don Lock (I've dubbed them, "The Ugly Dons"). I haven't any real connection to them, so if you want them I'll send them out. But I wouldn't mind either getting stuck with these. 

Overall, it was a fun box and got me to within sniffing distance of a complete set. As always, I've got my base needs on my want lists page. Help me out and help yourself to some of the inserts.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

2013 Topps Series 2 Box Break

I'm not great with money. As a freelance writer and a part-time tour guide, I earn it in stops and starts and tend to view expenditures through the work needed to make it. Last week, I splurged on three boxes of Topps from 2013 and 2014. It was more than I should have spent on cards this week (or month), but I looked at it as an even swap for some short article that took me a couple hours to complete. Nevermind that it's also a certain percentage of my rent, or several days of food, or whatever else. Like I said, I'm not great with money. 

But who cares? I've got wax to break!

First up is 2013 Series two. I've completed most of the first series already, but had nothing from series two. I ended with 293 of the 330 base cards (88%) with ZERO duplicates. Shockingly, I actually went through all three boxes without a single repeat. Stunning job on the collation, Topps. A few of the base card highlights:

Derek Norris. From these boxes, I think the A's cards are my favorites. There are a ton of celebration pics and other fun stuff. Does anyone know who that tiny person is in the middle of the scrum? Looks kinda small to be a bat boy.


Erik Kratz. I had never heard of this guy before even though he's spent parts of seven seasons in the majors. If someone showed this to me and said it was a custom with a card blogger's face photoshopped into a real image, I would have totally believed it. 

Juan Pierre. Pierre played for two seasons with the Manitowoc Skunks, a summer collegiate league team in my hometown. 

Johan Santana. He really needs some consideration for the Hall of Fame when he comes up. I'm dead serious. Compare him to Sandy Koufax. If Koufax is in your upper tier of the Hall, Santana at least gets a foot in the door. 

Corey Hart, card back. I really like the look of these 2013s. It's a clean design with a good use of color and the backsides are readable and well-organized. But that little blurb on each about "CAREER CHASE" is beyond dumb. Oh WOW, Corey Hart is only 608 homers away from the all-time record? He only needs to play another 90 years and he's there! Also, I honestly do not remember Hart playing as much 1B as he did - 103 games in 2012!

Jose Fernandez RC. A sad story all around and a great-looking rookie card of an incredibly talented pitcher who leaves behind a complicated legacy. 


If anything, this set had TOO many inserts, usually two in each pack. And with 10-card hobby packs, that is a big bite. 

"Chase it Down" They sure like to use the word CHASE a lot, eh? Anyway, I really do like the look of these. It's got a kind of Stadium Club feel to it. Anyway, its a decent concept - to show diving catches - and they look alright. Not bad. 

I got: Trout (1), Zimmerman (3), Moustakas (6), Jay (10), Gordon (11). All for grabs. 

"Chasing History" I'm surprised they didn't use CHASE Headly as their box cover boy for this. Anyway, these recount some record these guys set or some shit. I dunno, they look OK, but what's the point?

I got: Ripken (57), Henderson (58), Jeter (60), Jordan Zimmerman (63), Trout (64), Carter (65), Aaron (79), Fielder (90), Niekro (100). I want the Aaron and Henderson, rest are up. 

"Emerald" Parallels. Pretty self-explanatory. They look pretty sharp, actually. Although I'm not into parallels for their own sake. They're all up: Dempster (401), Loney (593), Carrasco (599), De Vries (636), Cashner (638), De La Rosa (657).

Gold Parallels. Number out of 2013, these are pretty ugs, IMO. It just doesn't work with that sickish gold color. Have at 'em. Pierre (407), Cahill (471), Bonifacio (482), Santiago (620), Napoli (659). 

World Baseball Classic Stars. I like this idea, but as a stand-alone set. Wouldn't it be great to check out the Israeli team or the Italian team or check in on some up-and-coming Japanese guy? This is just MLBers in different clothes. I got Reyes (1), Miggy (10), Panda (11), and the corpse of David Wright (14). 

"Making Their Mark" Augh. Who cares? Cespedes (1), Trout (2), Matt Moore (13), Profar (21), Machado (24), Stras (25).

1972 Minis. Finally! Something to talk about. Some people lose their heads over minis. I'm not opposed to them, but I'm too much a slave to the 9-pockets to ever really get on board. And I've become such a goddamn old man now that I can't read the numbers on the back and it really bothers me. I have to hold it up and squint like I'm looking for a hanging chad. I've got Wright (56), Shelby Miller (59), Reggie! (71), Phillips (720), Dickey (78), Howard (84), Matt Williams (85), Stras (91), and Heyward (96)

"The Elite" Kind of a tougher pull, these cards are honestly gorgeous.My only beef is that they are thick as hell, counting as five cards in each pack they are found. Sure are pretty though. I got the Banks and the Ozzie Smith. Want neither.

 "Cut to the Chase" Yeah, more chasing. Imagine a refactor hit with a lawnmower and you've got these. I got Banks, Belle, and Cespedes. Guess how many of them I want to keep?

THE PARALLEL HIT - A camo border of David Price, #'d 56/99. A nice pull. Any Price fans out there?

THE BOX HIT - Some garbage-ass "relic" of Gary Sheffield. I'd actually be pretty into this if it showed him as a Brewer, but this is just beyond boring to me. Also, the text on the back mentions that Sheffield got his 1,500th RBI with "one swing in the fourth inning." How many swings does it usually take to get an RBI? 

I also have a stack of expired Million Dollar (wait for it) CHASE code cards. Are they worth anything to anyone? 

So that's my run down of the 2013 S2 box. Got me pretty close to the set (see my updated want lists if you can help) and left me with a bunch to trade. I'll have posts on the 2014 boxes SOON.