Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Blog Bat Around Doubleheader

A little late to the table here, but I do want to join in on Zippy Zappy’s Blog Bat Around and present my all-autograph team.

I had planned to do this for a while, and I’ve actually waited so long that ANOTHER Bat Around topic has been floated – this one by Diamond Jesters – which references some comic book movie-picture I haven’t seen and have no interested in seeing. The movie is called “The Infinite Wars” or something like that and evidently involves things disappearing. From this concept, there emerge two questions to the collecting community. I’ll answer both of these before moving on to my all-time auto team.

1. With a snap of your fingers, you receive a complete set of your choice. This set is in mint condition. However, half of your collection as it stands now fades away into nothingness. You have no idea what cards will disappear - junk wax, autographs, relics - all are fair game. Would you do it? What set would be worthy of such a heavy price?

I mean, wouldn’t you have to do this? A complete mint 1952 Topps set would sell at auction for millions of dollars. And a mint t-206 set would be perhaps the most sought-after auction item in the history of the hobby. Still, I’d be a contrarian about it all and snap for a mint ’71 Topps set, because it’d be the most beautiful thing in the whole collecting world.

2. With a snap of your fingers, you legally obtain every known copy of one card in existence. Just think, all of those T206 Honus Wagners could be yours to do with as you please! However, you must name a player. That athlete will have all of their collectables erased from history. The player and their career is not affected, they just lose anything associated with them. Set completionists will curse you for all eternity, as these cards will forever leave gaps in their sets. What card do you covet most? Who among the cardboard faces will never be in a PC collection?

Again with the finger snapping! I remember back in kindergarten it was a mildly big deal when a kid learned to snap their fingers. It was like a divide among the class – some kids could and some couldn’t. I recall one kid, the first day in class after he had figured it out, going around and snapping his fingers in everyone’s ears. Just to rub it in, I guess. Anyway, with this one, I think I’d go for all of upcoming Ohtani Topps series 2 RCs. Just to screw with people. And as for the vanisher… Kobe Bryant. You all know why.

Anyway, on to the squad…

Catcher: Bob Uecker

Ok, so Ueck might not be the greatest catcher in my collection, but he was a solid defender and could easily become the heart and soul of an otherwise stacked lineup. I score this one via TTM a few years ago.

First Base: Miguel Cabrera

It’s kind of easy to forget how great Miggy was just a few years ago. Last season was the worst of his career and he’s on the DL again this year, but between 2011 and 2015, he won four batting titles, two MVPs, a Triple Crown, and played in the World Series. He’s under contract with the Tigers for at least another five years and it’ll be interesting to see what kind of role he plays in their rebuild. It’s also worth noting that in another couple of seasons, if he stays healthy, he should make a run for 3,000 hits and 500 homers. I got this card cheap on eBay a few years back. A seller had multiples of this card listed all at the same time, so I managed to pick it up for about $15 in a diluted marketplace. It was more of a steal then and now, but still a good deal.

Second Base: Lou Whitaker

Beats out the HOFer Ryno for this spot with his 75 WAR and career .276/.363/.426 slash line. Sweet Lou actually best those numbers over the last five years of his career, a period in which he ran up a 134 OPS+ and struck out just 225 times.

Third Base: Adrian Beltre

Like Sweet Lou, I nabbed this one via TTM. Also like Lou, Beltre has saved some of his best play for the twilight years of his career.

Shortstop: Ernie Banks

I should mention that I am not including any Brewers on the team, just as an added challenge to myself. This certainly would have been Rockin’ Robin Yount’s spot, but Ernie isn’t a bad pick either. Mr. Cub had a phenomenal seven year run as the North Siders’ SS, averaging 37 homers a season while batting .290. This was part of a lot of ‘Home Run Heroes’ autos I got a few years ago in one of those groupon-type offer things.

Outfield: AL Kaline

A TTM send-back, Al Kaline made 13 straight All Star teams between 1955 and 1967. In that same period, he placed in the top ten in MVP voting NINE times. He was a regular at 19 and won a batting title at 20. Not bad.

Outfield: Stan Musial

I got this one cheap a few years ago, part of a set issued after Musial’s death. I read somewhere that in the last months of his life, he signed thousands of stickers in an increasingly shaky hand. These stickers have since shown up in all variety of cards, including just pasted onto some of this vintage stuff. It’s an ignoble end and some the autos from this period look really bad. It’s sad, really, but I couldn’t pass up the change to own a Musial sig. Still, I feel kind of conflicted about it.

Outfield: Barry Bonds

Speaking of conflicted! Sure, he’s one of the five greatest players ever, but he’s also probably not a very good person. And this doesn’t even consider the PEDs.

DH: Frank Thomas

This is one of those Best Company autos that they used to sell blind at Wal Mart in the early 1990s. I got a deal on it and really dig the colorful artwork and the bold sig. When I was a kid, the Big Hurt was THE MAN. And looking back, his stats really hold up. I’d place him in the top His career OPS+ is 156… 26 points higher than Ichiro recorded in any single SEASON.

Right Hander Starter: Roger Clemens

The other half of the PED elephants in the waiting room to the Hall, Rocket Roger signed this one for my TTM in exchange for a donation to his charity. It’s tough to find another righty who was as good for as long as Clemens.

Left Handed Starter: Warren Spahn

Another TTM return, Spahnnie is not only a local hero, but also the winningest lefty of all-time. He also won a Purple Heart in WWII and was awarded a battlefield commission. He was an effective pitcher into his 40s and in 1967 at age 46 pitched a handful of innings for the Cardinals AAA team in Tulsa.

Closer: Brien Taylor

Yeah, this is just an excuse to show off this card, which I paid all of a dollar for. I have price guides from the early 1990s that list this beauty at over $100. For those who don’t recall, Taylor was taken by the Yankees #1 overall in 1991 and was considered to be the greatest high school pitching prospect of all-time. He immediately became the top prospect in baseball and – this being the boom days of the card market – the frenzy for this stuff was downright Ohtani-esque. He pitched his way to AA by 1993, but in an off-season fight he fell on his shoulder, badly injuring it. He missed all of 1994 and struggled mightily in five more minor league seasons, topping out at A ball, before retiring. For purposes of this team, of course, I’m taking 1992 Taylor, jumping him and his electric fastball to the bigs to become our fireman. In real life, Taylor went to work as a bricklayer after his career ended and later spent three years in prison on a cocaine trafficking conviction.


  1. Whoo-hoo! My first participant! That's an awesome lineup of autographs too! Taylor will be one of baseball's greatest "What If?" players...

  2. I like that you resisted the urge to choose the obviously more valuable '52 Topps set and went with '71. Also, I'm new to your blog so I don't know why you'd make Kobe collectibles vanish. You'd make a lot of collectors mad at you with that one!

    Lots of great autos here, the Thomas and Clemens in particular. I saw a lot of Musial and Kaline on the BBA but I dont think I saw a TTM Kaline. And Brien Taylor is a cautionary tale - for phenoms and collectors alike.

  3. Dude... that Bonds is sweet! I've been slowly picking up his autographs. Totally understand why people don't like the guy, but he provided way too much entertainment for this baseball fan for me to not show some love.

    As for the BBA... I like it. I'll have one up sooner than later.