Friday, April 19, 2024

"The way he plays the game." What does that mean?

Baseball has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. I started playing the game when I was five years old. I was actually too young to be on the team. My dad made me the batboy for the games, but I got to practice with the team.  

From that first practice until after I graduated high school, we played ball every chance we got. Playing catch, hotbox(Pickle, or rundowns, whatever you want to call it) or hitting flyballs and grounders to each  other, we were playing baseball. If we could round up enough guys we'd play a pick up game. Some of my best memories with my buddies is centered around baseball. My best friends today are the guys that I grew up playing ball with.

I'm not sure how or maybe if it was just the times, but we all played the game the same way. First and foremost, we loved to play. Second, we played with toughness. Win or lose we played every game like it mattered. Every at bat counted. Defense was played with an attitude of whatever it takes to make the play. After games, not a single player didn't have a dirty uniform. Third, we played for the team. It wasn't about our own stats or accolades, it was all about the team. Sacrifice bunts and sac flies were celebrated like home runs because it helped the team. Lastly, we played the game with integrity and sportsmanship. Cheating the game wasn't even a thought. Sportsmanship was instilled in each and every one of us. We were taught to win with class and to lose with class. How we carried ourselves in victory and defeat was as important as how we had played. 

So, why the autobiography on baseball in my life?  I noticed when talking about several different players in my blog I'd make the comment "I like the way he plays the game." I got to thinking that I've never really explained what that means. To be honest, until I started writing this I'm not sure I could have put it into words. So, here's a shot to try to explain what I mean when I say "I like the way he plays the game." 

The first step in explaining my thoughts was to share a little about my life with baseball. To me, the way we played the game as kids is the right way to play baseball. To play because it's fun. To play with toughness. To play for the team. To play with integrity and with sportsmanship. These are the qualities that I seem to gravitate to with the players that I enjoy and collect. I like the way they play the game.

First and foremost, the player has to have fun. No player exemplified fun more than Adrian Beltre. If you've ever doubted that Beltre had fun playing the game, just watch the video.



Beltre enjoyed playing baseball. He always played to win, but he was going to have fun doing it. I love the 2014 Topps Beltre card. This is how I will remember him as a Ranger. In the dugout, after hitting a home run and someone getting ready to touch his head. Classic Beltre. 

When it comes to playing with toughness, I think of players like Cal Ripken Jr and Marcus Semien who show up everyday to play. Not taking a day off just to take a day off. I think of Nolan Ryan pitching with blood dripping from his mouth after being hit by a ball. Kirk Gibson's walk off home run in the '88 World Series and limping around the bases. Guys who would give anything to be on the field. Guys who don't quit. It doesn't matter the score, the wins or the losses, they are going to give it their all. 

     

George Brett said, "Nolan's scary under normal conditions, but facing him when he was all bloody was another level of intimidation altogether." Yeah, not something that I think I could do. Not something I could do if he wasn't bloody. There are so many cards of Cal Ripken Jr, to choose from that I went with The 1996 Topps card commemorating Ripken breaking the consecutive game streak. 

     

2023 Topps card represents a special season for the World Champion Marcus Semien. He played in 179 games in the '23 regular season and playoffs. Not including the COVID shortened season, Marcus has played in all but one regular season game over the last 4 years. Kirk Gibson's '88 walk-off home run is something that I will always remember. I was indifferent when it came to Gibson, but that was an awesome moment in baseball. The 2001 Topps card captures the golden moment. 

I am a firm believer that teams that play for each other are the teams that win. It was obvious this past season for the Rangers. Those guys truly enjoy playing ball together. When players put the team ahead of their own stats or concerns, those teams are hard to beat. There have been a number of players who put the team ahead of themselves, but for me, the best example of this is Michael Young. Young came up as a second baseman, moved to shortstop to make room for Alfonso Soriano. He goes out and becomes an All-Star shortstop and win a Gold Glove. Next, he moves to 3rd to make room for Elvis Andrus and then to DH/1B to make room for Adrian Beltre. The thing was, Michael Young was the face of the team, the leader in the clubhouse and he did what real leaders do, sacrifice for the team. I love those players who put their teammates first. 

     

Just a couple of my favorite Michael Young cards. '05 Topps and '11 Topps. 

Integrity and sportsmanship is a little harder to define. It would be easier to write about the players that don't have integrity and sportsmanship, like the steroids guys and the Astros. Integrity and sportsmanship gets overlooked today. I think there are probably more players that play the game with integrity and in the spirit of competition than those who don't. Most don't get the credit they deserve. The biggest name that comes to mind when I think of integrity and sportsmanship right now is Mike Trout. He's played on some really good teams and some really bad teams. He showed up and played. When Ohtani left the Angels, the topic of conversation was would Trout request a trade. His response was to honor his contract. That's integrity. Now, I'm sure that there might come a day when he does request a trade, but I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't. 

     

Trout has so many cool cards that I went with two of my favorites. The 2011 Topps Update rookie card is on my list of grail cards and the 2016 Topps is just a cool picture. 

There's really one more trait that I've thought of that I'm not sure how to quantify. I love players that play with passion. The most recent example that I can think of is Corey Seager's home run to tie game 1 of the '23 World Series. 


Seager is normally a player who keeps his emotions in check, but on this occasion he didn't. The thing I like about him is, to me, its genuine. He's not trying to show up the other team. He's just letting out his emotions. I think today, there's a lot of players that do all of these antics to say 'look at me" or to show up their opponent. I don't believe so here. 

I'm not sure that I've effectively defined what I mean by "how he plays the game" but I tried. I would love to hear some of your thoughts on players that you think really have fun playing, play with toughness, are team oriented or display integrity, sportsmanship and passion. 

Peace, 
Michael
Isaiah 40:31









Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Too many irons in the fire.

 Ever feel like you've got to many irons in the fire? Christian, husband, father, brother, uncle, friend, teacher, coach, mentor and I'm sure there's other roles that I fill, have me going in so many different directions that there are days I'm not sure which way is up. A lot of my roles overlap, but still I feel as if I'm getting pulled in 15 different directions. 

There are times that I feel the same way with my card collection. '24 Topps times three, '23 Topps Heritage, '23 Stadium Club, Corey Seager collection, Marcus Semien collection, Josh Jung collection, Mike Trout collection, Shohei Ohtani collection, Clayton Kershaw collection, etc...the list goes on and on. Then on top of all of that, you throw in the inserts that I end up trying to collect and something always seems to get missed or forgotten. Just like in my life, a lot of my collection overlaps and that just adds to things getting missed or forgotten. 


For me, what always seems to get missed or forgotten the most are the sets I'm trying to finish from '72 to present. Actually, it's not present, it's 2019. I'm doing pretty good with '24 Topps and I've completed '20, '21, '22 and '23. It's pretty easy to do that when I'm also doing it for my grandsons. Not so much on the sets from the past. 

Most of the cards that I've gotten for sets from 1981 to 1993 have come via TCDB trades. I was just making trades and not really paying much attention to it. I was more focused on cleaning out my doubles. I mentioned in my post Ramblings of an old collector that I completed the 1984 set. Funny thing was I didn't even know it. I just happened to look on TCDB one day and noticed that I didn't have any '84 cards on my wantlist. How could I not know the set was complete? How is that even possible? Seriously, if I hadn't put the set on TCDB, I'd have a complete set sitting in a box on the shelf and not even know it. Yes, I know, if it wasn't on TCDB it wouldn't have been completed anyway, but that's not my point. My point is I've got to figure out how to be better organized with the cards that are coming in.

TCDB has helped a ton with the organization. That being said, I'm a long, long way from being organized. Between opening packs, picking up cards here and there, attending card shows and TCDB trades, there seems to be a pretty good flow of cards coming in. I'm pretty sure that I have put cards into sets or boxes that I had already inventoried and not updated it on TCDB. 

Plus, I've got cards going out too. The cards going out are pretty well organized and to be honest, I don't have to worry about it too much. Between TCDB trades and what I'm selling on buysportscards.com I know what's going out. My problem is keeping up with what's coming in. 

I may have a fix for my problem. I started putting all incoming cards into one box. Then, as I have time, I can go through the box and update TCDB and put the cards with their respective sets. I'm going to give this a try and see if it helps. 

I've got very little in my collection when it comes to the older sets. I've got a really good start on my '75 Topps and my '78 Topps set. The other sets? Less than 100 cards for each. I decided that I would finish one of the two sets before I focused on another one. Two at one time is enough. There's just not a lot of progress on either set. It's not like the cards aren't out there, just that the sets aren't a priority for me for some reason. I've got to start putting a little more emphasis on those sets. 

Sets that I'm working on pre-1981 have mostly come from card shows. I have received a few trades that involved my '78 set, but for the most part, its card shows and card stores. I think I'll stick to shows and stores, because I can see exactly what I am getting. I'm not a huge stickler on condition, but I want a nice looking card. 

I've struggled with making trades on TCDB for the older cards because of condition. When I put my cards on TCDB, I didn't pay that much attention to condition. I also wonder if my trading partners did the same thing. So when a trade comes up for those older cards, I don't want to send someone a card that might be a rougher than what they were expecting. I know that I'm not a fan of receiving cards that are beat up when my expectation was higher. I have several cards that are placeholders. Cards that I know I want to upgrade at some point because they are more than a little rough. I just don't want to have a whole bunch of cards to try and upgrade. The thing is I'm probably more concerned about what my trade partner thinks of the cards I send than what I get in return. 

For now, until I get TCDB updated on the condition of my cards, I will probably stick to in person deals until I get more comfortable with trading on TCDB for the older cards. 

Peace, 

Michael

Isaiah 40:31

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Faces of the team - American League West

The final, all-time and current face of the team. The American League West. This one should be the easiest with me being a fan of the World Series Champion Texas Rangers (gotta get in one more time!) being in the division. This one has an interesting twist with one of the teams. Let's get to it.

 Just for a quick reminder, my definition of the face of the team revolves around who is the one player that first comes to mind when a team is mentioned. I decided that I'd do my all-time faces of the teams, as well as the current face of the team.

Houston Astros

There have been a plethora of players who have had amazing careers that have come through Houston. Robin Roberts, Eddie Mathews, Joe Morgan, Nellie Fox, Don Sutton, Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan and Pudge Rodriguez all spent time in an Astros uniform on their way to the Hall of Fame. All of those players really made their name on other teams. For me, it came down to two players; Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. My choice is Biggio. It boiled down to two points for me. One, Biggio played his whole career in Houston and two, I loved his team first attitude. He went from catcher to infielder to outfielder and was still one of the top players of his time. 

The current face of the team has got to be Jose Altuve. I'm not a fan of Altuve at all. I don't think anyone could ever convince me he wasn't a big part of the sign stealing fiasco. When you think of Houston, you think of Altuve. I wouldn't be surprised if Altuve isn't the all-time face of the team before too long if he isn't already.

     

The '93 Topps Craig Biggio is my favorite card of his because, you guessed it, its an action shot. There's no doubt he got taken out on the play, but he stood in there to make the throw. Great picture on the card.

I chose the 2013 Topps Altuve because one, it's an action shot and two, those were my favorite Astro uniforms. Back in the day when I was playing ball, we had a version of that uniform, except ours was green. Maybe one day when I find a picture of that uniform I'll share it. Nah! 

Los Angeles Angels

I have been watching the Angels ever since the Rangers came to Arlington in '72. There are several players that I can name who went through the California-Anaheim-Los Angeles Angels team. None of the players, save one, made a lasting impression as Angel over their accomplishments on other teams. When it comes to the Angels, there is only one player who truly comes to mind and that is Mike Trout. This is the only team where the all-time and the current face team are the same person. I'm a huge Mike Trout fan. Even though he destroys my Rangers almost every time they play. I love the way he plays the game. 

I will say that had Ohtani stayed with the Angels I would have had two names for the Angels. 

     

The 2011 Topps Update is on my bucket list. It's a pricey one for this collector, but I've already decided that its down to the Trout rookie or a Mickey Mantle for my retirement gift to myself. Now, obviously that could change if I happen to get one earlier. Retirement is close but it's still a few years away. 

I picked the 2015 Topps card because I thought it was a cool pic and liked the fact that it was different from most of his other cards. 

Oakland A's

There are so many players who have played for the Athletics to choose from as the all-time face of the team. I could go with Reggie Jackson, but to me, it was his time with Yankees that I think of when it comes to Jackson. I remember Catfish Hunter and Vida Blue pitching for the A's. Sal Bando and Bert Campanaris on the infield and Joe Rudi patrolling the outfield. Who could forget Rollie Fingers with that mustache? Not to mention McGwire, Canseco and Eckersley. So many possibilities but for me, the all-time face of the team is Rickey Henderson. During his 23 year career he played for 9 different teams, but half of those years were in Oakland. Some of the teams he played for, I don't even remember him in those uniforms. Henderson changed the game with the stolen base and lead-off home runs.  

The current face of the team has to be Shea Langeliers. I wouldn't say that he has a firm grasp on the title, but he's just about the only established player on the team. There are some young guys that if they perform well could take the title away from Langeliers, but it hasn't happened yet.

     

My favorite Rickey Henderson card is his '80 rookie card. I remember when I got my first one back in 1981 just before the '81 cards came out. I paid a $1.00 for it. Rickey was a hot commodity in those days. 

There's not a lot of card choices for Langeliers. But seriously, how can you go wrong with a action shot of a catcher? The 2024 Topps card of Langeliers is a cool looking card. 

Seattle Mariners

This one was pretty cut and dried for me. Ken Griffey Jr. is the all-time face of the team. There has been some amazing talent come through Seattle like Ichiro, Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, and Felix Hernandez to name a few, but none had the lasting impact on the organization like Griffey Jr. did.

The current face of the team is another one that is pretty cut and dried. Julio Rodriguez is the current face of the team. This is the guy the Mariners are building a team around. 

     

The first choice for Griffey Jr. should be the Upper Deck rookie, but I'm sticking to Topps. There are two images that I have of Griffey Jr. One is him robbing someone of a home run by making a leaping catch at the wall and the other is his powerful swing. I think this '91 Topps is a great pic of his swing.

I went with Rodriguez's rookie 2022 Topps Update for two reasons. First, being a rookie in 2022 there aren't a lot of options and two, I really don't like the look of his 2023 card. 

Texas Rangers

At last, I get to my team. I really didn't plan for the Rangers to be last when I started this series. I just started with the National League East and worked my way West. All of the teams have been in alphabetical order within their division so it worked out. 

When it comes to the Rangers, no one epitomizes Texas and baseball more than Nolan Ryan. A legend of the game. There have been a crazy number of players who have come through Texas over the years, but almost always on the tail end of their careers. Nolan was the first player gave the Rangers a legitimate star player. Yes, the Rangers made history when they started David Clyde way to early and probably derailed his career. You will never hear me say anything negative about Buddy Bell, who spent 8 years in Texas. As much as I love and appreciate him, Buddy did not have the star power that comes with being the all-time face of the team. The Ryan Express changed baseball. He changed baseball for Texas Rangers. 

The current face of the team is Corey Seager. Not only did he sign the big contract, but he led the team to its first World Series title (as if I'd let anyone forget that!). The Rangers have a lot of star power on the current team in Adolis Garcia, Marcus Semien, Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Josh Jung and the young guns Evan Carter and Wyatt Langford, but it's Seager that's the catalyst for the team.

     

My first choice for Nolan Ryan would have been my favorite Nolan Ryan, the '69 Topps card. Seeing how he was in a Mets uniform it doesn't really work. I went with the '99 Topps card because I will always remember that high leg kick when he was pitching. I heard him talking about pitching one time and he said that he was so balanced that he could just stand in that position (not exactly how he put it). Definitely one of the greatest.

Seager doesn't have a ton of Rangers cards, but I went with the 2024 Topps because I think it's a better pic on the card than '22 or '23. I'm not a huge fan of the city connect uniforms, but it's growing on me.  

Well, that completes my choices for the all-time and current faces of the teams. I enjoyed looking through all of the teams and remembering different players that I've long forgotten about and learning a few new facts about some players. I really enjoyed looking through all of each players' Topps cards to find my favorite. I'll have to revisit this in a few years and see if any of the current guys have supplanted the all-time face of the team.

Peace, 

Michael

Isaiah 40:31

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Who's the face of the team - American League Central

Only two divisions left! 

Between Spring Break and coaching baseball, life has been a little busy. It's taken me longer to get this post written than I had hoped. It was difficult to  find the time to just sit and write.  With that said, I'm just going to jump in and give you my picks for the face of the team - American League Central.

Just for a quick reminder, my definition of the face of the team revolves around who is the one player that first comes to mind when a team is mentioned. I decided that I'd do my all-time faces of the teams, as well as the current face of the team.

Chicago White Sox

Larry Doby, Carlton Fisk, Luke Appling and Joe Jackson are just a few of the great players who have played for the White Sox. I've always loved reading about and learning about the those guys from early years of baseball like Doby, Appling and Joe Jackson. Despite my love for the history of the game, I feel as if my choice had to be someone more recent and that is Frank Thomas. When I think of the White Sox, I think of Big Frank Thomas. That is one huge man. I remember watching games when he came to bat and thinking he looks like he's swinging a toothpick because he was so big. 

The current face of the team is Luis Robert Jr. I was trying to decide between Robert Jr and Dylan Cease and then Cease was traded so it made it easy.

     

I chose the 2004 Topps of Thomas because I always seem to remember him with that picture of the follow through of his swing and leaving the box. 

I went Luis Robert Jr's rookie card because I like the design and colors of the card. It's a clean looking card.

Cleveland Guardians

Picking the all-time face of the team for Cleveland was extremely difficult. Not because I didn't know who it could be, but because there were so many choices. Player-manager Nap Lajoie, such a major influence on the team they were actually called the Naps; Larry Doby, who broke the color barrier for the American League and Hall of Famer Tris Speaker roaming centerfield. Cleveland was also the stomping ground for a number of great players like Shoeless Joe, Gaylord Perry, Satchel Paige and the more recent Hall inductee Jim Thome. My choice for the all-time face of the team is Bob Feller. I struggled choosing between Thome and Bob Feller. I went with Bob Feller he always seems to come to mind first when I think of the history of Cleveland and I always seem to remember Thome with other teams like the Phillies and White Sox. 

Jose Ramirez has played his 11 year career with Cleveland and has become the current face of the team.

     

 I am a big fan of the 1953 Topps set. I don't have many and doubt that it is something I will ever collect, but I really like the cards. The Bob Feller is one of my favorites. 

I have to be honest, I don't know that much about Jose Ramirez. I just know he is a 5 time All-Star and 4 time Silver Slugger winner. I need to pay a little more attention to Ramirez and the Guardians for that matter.

Detroit Tigers

When I think of the Tigers, two players quickly come to mind. Denny McLain and his 31 game win season and Al Kaline. 18 time All-Star and 10 time Gold Glove winner, Easy choice. I also remember players like Mickey Lolich and Norm Cash and Miguel Cabrera, but they aren't as memorable to me as Mr, Tiger, Al Kaline. 

I got the current face of the team down to two players; Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene. I'm going with Spencer Torkelson because I think he has a higher upside. I know it wouldn't take too much to get me to switch to Greene though.

     

I've always liked the '56 Topps cards, but over the years they've lost a lot of their luster for me. I used to think if I ever were to collect a vintage set it would be '56 Topps, but now I'm pretty sure I'd choose something else. All that to say, I do really like this Al Kaline card. I wouldn't mind having this one in my collection.

Spencer Torkelson doesn't have a lot of choices seeing how his rookie card was 2022. The thing is, I like the '22 set so it was easy to pick this card.

Kansas City Royals

Out of all of the teams in the American League Central, this one is the absolute easiest one to do. George Brett is the all-time face of the Kansas City Royals. No discussion needed. 

The current face of the team is just as easy. Bobby Witt Jr. Next. 

     

The 1980 set has always been one of my favorites. Probably because that was the year that I first got into collecting. To be honest, There aren't a lot of George Brett cards that I really like the design and the picture on the card. I started to go with the '75 Topps card, but that one always gets used, so I went with what I think is the second best.

This is my favorite Bobby Witt Jr. card to date. The action shot of him diving to a base is greatness. 

Minnesota Twins

This one is a little more difficult than the other teams of the AL Central except Cleveland. Bert Blyleven, Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Joe Mauer, Torii Hunter and Justin Morneau always come to mind when I think of the Twins, but the number one player for me is always Kirby Puckett. Kirby played his whole career with Minnesota and was a 10 time All-Star, 6 time Gold Glove winner, 6 time Silver Slugger and a career .318 hitter. I could have easily picked any of those other players and would have been able to defend my choice pretty easily, but when I sat down to write this, it was always Kirby.

I have to admit that I don't know much about the Twins. They faded into the background for me after the Joe Mauer-Justin Morneau era. The current Twins have a pretty young roster and there are several options for current face of the team. I went with Royce Lewis. I could have gone with Carlos Correa, but I think Lewis is the one fans would rather see. 

     

I love this 1991 Topps Kirby Puckett. I remember him as always smiling. He seemed to really love playing the game. He was fun to watch and boy, could he hit.

Royce Lewis is a player that I'm going to keep my eye on. I chose the '23 Topps card because I like seeing that Future Stars on the card to remind me to keep watching for him.

Well, that's it for the American League Central! Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Up next, the American League West. Home of the World Series Champion Texas Rangers!

Peace,

Michael

Isaiah 40:31


Sunday, March 17, 2024

Who's the face of the team - American League East

Being a fan of an American League team, I thought that this would be easier than the National League. I think overall, it has been. There are a few teams that I'm not as sold on as to who the face of the team is, but for the most part I like my choices. 

Just for a quick reminder, my definition of the face of the team revolves around who is the one player that first comes to mind when a team is mentioned. I decided that I'd do my all-time faces of the teams, as well as the current face of the team.  

Baltimore Orioles

This was a little difficult to decide who is the all-time face of the team. It came down to two players, Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken Jr. Both Hall of Fame players and both definitely the face of the team during their playing days. I went with the player who first came to mind when I was making my list and that is Brooks Robinson. Trust me when I say that is no slight to Cal Ripken Jr. I'm a huge fan of Ripken, but when I think of the Orioles, the first to my mind is Brooks. Maybe it's because I'm older or because I actually got to meet him, but Robinson is always first in my mind. 

The current face of the team also came down to two players. Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson. Another tough call, but I really feel as if Henderson has surpassed Rutschman as the face of the team. I'm not sure that he'll hold the title long though. Feels like real soon it will be Jackson Holliday.

     

I'm not sure when, but I've become a big fan of the '69 Topps set and I really like this Robinson. Reminds me of when I was blessed to meet him. He was older then, but the smile was the same. Once again when the face of the team is a rookie and since I'm sticking to Topps flagship, you get his rookie card.

Boston Red Sox

With such a storied history, there are a ton of great ballplayers who have been associated with the Red Sox. Bobby Doerr, Tris Speaker, Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Jim Rice, Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs and Carlton Fisk to name a few. However, none stand out more than the great Ted Williams. Besides hitting .406 in 1941, he won 8 gold gloves and 3 MVP awards. He is considered one of the top 3 hitters of all-time. How could he not be the all-time face of the team?

The Red Sox are transitioning and choosing the current face of the team is a little more difficult. I went with Rafael Devers. I think it could be Triston Casas soon, but for now, it's Devers.

      

I like this '54 Topps of Williams. I think it's the yellow background. It's the same close up on the '55 and '56 cards which makes me feel as if Topps cheated. I know it's not the only instance that Topps did that, but come on, how hard can it be to be a little more original? I like the shot of Devers on the '19 Topps card. I'm not a huge fan of the '19 design, but I like the pic on the card.

New York Yankees

There are so many possible faces of the team for the Yankees. From old school Ruth and Gehrig, through the years of Mantle, Berra and Ford to the modern times of Jeter. I polled several of my baseball fan friends and a few collectors and got a wide variety of answers. Because this is also a baseball card blog, I have to go with Mickey Mantle. To me, Mickey is the first player I think of when the Yankees come up. After he retired, at some point, he relocated to my home town of Dallas and I actually spotted him around town once or twice. Plus, if you consider his impact on the card collecting world I don't see how it could be anyone else. 

The current face of the team is an easy one. Aaron Judge. I think the big thing for Judge to stay the face of the team is going to come down to his health and being able to play. Now that the Yankees have added Juan Soto, I don't think it would take too many trips on the injured list for that title to shift.

   

This is one of my favorite Mickey Mantle cards. He seems relaxed in the picture and I like the colors on the card. I had a hard time picking out an Aaron Judge card. I really don't care for any of them, so I went with his rookie card.

Tampa Bay Rays

When I think of the Tampa Bay Rays I think of Evan Longoria. There have been several players who gone through the Rays organization like David Price, Fred McGriff and Wade Boggs, but those names aren't the first to come to mind for me, its Longoria.

The current face of the team has to be Randy Arozarena. The Rays have some good young talent but Arozarena definitely leads the pack.

     

This is one of my favorite Longoria cards. I'm a sucker for an action shot with the baseball still in it. I know Longoria can hit (he always seemed to do that against my Rangers), but my first thought is of him and his glove. Arozarena on the other hand I think of him hitting and that's why I chose the '21 Topps card.

Toronto Blue Jays

This has been the hardest one out of all of the teams I've done so far. There have been some great players that been through Toronto. Halladay, Alomar, Delgado, Carter, Clemens, Wells, and Stieb to name a few of those players (okay, they weren't all great, but they were players I thought of when thinking about the Blue Jays). It came down to 3 players for me. Roy Halladay, Roberto Alomar and Carlos Delgado. I eliminated Halladay, because when I think of Halladay I always go to Philly in the playoffs. I eliminated Alomar simply because of the way he left Toronto. He didn't want to be in Toronto anymore and got out as soon as he could. If you don't want to be there, how can you be the face of the team? By default that leaves me with Delgado. By default...that sounds bad and I really don't mean it that way. Delgado had some really great years in Toronto. It's not like he's a bad choice. 

The current face of the team has to be either Vlad Guerrero Jr, or Bo Bichette. This one is really close and I think that I could make a solid argument for either one. I'm going with Bo Bichette. No, I'm going with Vladdy. Heck, let them share it!

    

When I think of Delgado, I think of the bombs he hit and that's why I went with 2000 Topps card. I really like the '22 Bichette card. Action shot, ball in the pic...wonder if he got the out? Same thoughts for Guerrero Jr that I have for Delgado. It's all about the bat.

That wraps the American League East. Let me know what you think! I expect a few comments disagreeing with my picks and that's okay. I welcome them. Up next, the American League Central.

Peace,

Michael
Isaiah 40:31



Saturday, March 9, 2024

Rambings of an old collector

 I'm taking a one week break from the faces of the team posts before I start the American League to ramble on about some things. 

-I think I can say I've finally made it in the blogging world...I got a great random act of kindness package from none other than Johnny's Trading Spot. Almost all of the blogs that I've read at some point got cards from John which I thought was so cool. I kept looking at his want list hoping that we'd be able to trade or send him something, but I haven't been able to match anything up yet. Before I find anything, he sends me this...





Unbelievably blessed! Thank you so much John for the cards and making me feel part of the blogging world family!

- Once again, if you haven't seen the movie "The Hill" you are missing out. Great movie about faith, passion and baseball. You can find it on Netflix or Amazon Prime. 

- I started looking at different posts on Facebook, videos, blogs and such that had '23 Stadium Club cards. I thought those looked pretty good. I was at my friendly Walmart and saw a blaster box and said why not? I didn't get any big hits, but I really liked the cards. Couple of weeks later, same thing. I got to looking and saw that the set was only 300 cards, so yep, I decided to put the set together. I swore I was going to stick to just Topps and I've already broken that rule by collecting '23 Heritage. Now, I'm adding Stadium Club. I need professional help. 

- There are 3 subsets from 2023 that I started to try and complete. I still need 23 All Aces and 29 Father's Day patch cards. The third subset is World Baseball Classic USA team and I am down to one card... WBC-27 Kyle Tucker. Only 3 traders on TCDB have the card and there is no match. If someone has an extra one, let me know and hopefully, we can work something out.

- Getting excited for Opening Day and my World Series Champion Texas Rangers to defend their title.

-I've had a hard time finding '24 Topps at retail stores. Found it pretty easy early on, but it's been pretty scarce ever since. 

- Went to a wedding reception in Austin, TX and had a four hour layover between wedding events. What do you do when you're a card collector and time to kill? You find a card store to visit. Found one that was actually in an industrial park. I picked up some cards on a really good deal. A few star players from the '23 Stadium Club that I needed for my new set, a '24 Evan Carter and Mike Trout, '24 Blue print Kershaw and an Ohtani. 



- Shout out to RonE, Chris Cheatle and Poison75 for calling me out on my mistakes in my Faces of the team-NL West. I should have spent a little more time in my research. Thanks for holding me accountable.

- I'm not a graded card collector, but thought I'd weigh in on SGC being bought by PSA: I can't see how this is a good thing for those that do graded cards. Removing competition is never good for the consumer.

- One of my goals this year is to complete some sets. Well, I finally completed my 1984 Topps set with a TCDB trade with hershey for #144 Brian Harper RC. Now all I need to do is put in a binder. 

- I saw the best baseball game in a really long time two weekends ago. Okay, it wasn't really baseball, it was T-ball and my 4 year old grandson. It was so much fun watching the joy these kids had playing the game. 

Well, that's it for my ramblings. I'll get back to Faces of the team - American League East for my next post.

Peace, 

Michael

Isaiah 40:31








Sunday, March 3, 2024

Repost and edited: Who's the face of the team National League West

Have you ever thought that you know you did something and come to find out you didn't? Well, that was me on this post. Either that or I deleted part of it as I was finishing it. I mean seriously, this auto saves for you! How did I mess it up? 

Well, I fixed it, so here's the corrected one. My apologies to the Giants. 

Up next for the face of the team, the National League West. 

Once again, determining the all-time face of the teams in NL West, was pretty easy for me. Choosing the current player for the NL West was much easier than the NL Central except for one team. Here's my choices for the National League West. 

Just for a quick refresher, my definition of the face of the team revolves around who is the one player that first comes to mind when a team is mentioned. I decided that I'd do my all-time faces of the teams, as well as the current face of the team.  

NL WEST

Arizona Diamondbacks

When I think of the Diamondbacks my first thoughts are of Randy Johnson. Even though he started his MLB career with the Montreal Expos and changed teams 7 times, including 2 stints Arizona, I always seem to picture him in either a Seattle uniform or a Dbacks uniform(I'm pretty sure we all know who the face of the team will be in Seattle). It may be because he won his 300th game with Arizona. 

The current face of the team is another one of those no doubters in Corbin Carroll. I really don't think it will take long for Carroll to be the guy that everyone thinks of when talking about the Diamondbacks. 

     

Not a huge fan of the blue border of the 2003 Topps, but the picture of Johnson pitching is how I remember him throwing on the mound.  Sticking to Topps flagship, the '23 Topps Corbin Carroll is the only option. I could see, if he continues on his current path, that Corbin Carroll could be the All-Time face of the Diamondbacks.

Colorado Rockies

If I'm doing the Immaculate Grid and there's a Rockies hitting question, my first thought goes to Todd Helton. Unless I'm mistaken, Helton will be the first Colorado Rockies in the HOF. I think that pretty much seals the deal as far as being the all-time face of the Rockies. 

I went with Kris Bryant as the current face of the Rockies. I think this was pretty easy only because he was the only one that really stood out to me. The sad thing is I had to go and scour the Colorado roster to come up with Bryant.

     

Los Angeles Dodgers

There are so many great players who have worn the Dodgers uniform. Koufax, Reese, Sutton, Drysdale, Campanella, and Snider to name a few. For me, the only one it could be was Jackie Robinson as the all-time face of the Dodgers. 

My first thought for the current face of the team was Clayton Kershaw, but that was because I'm a fan of guy from my hometown of Dallas, TX. Before I could even type a word on the Dodgers, I was reminded of the $700 million contract of Shohei Ohtani. That pretty much sums it up. It's Ohtani.

     

San Diego Padres 

All-time face of the Padres is one of the all-time greatest hitters, Tony Gwynn. Interesting fact about Gwynn; including the postseason, he faced 18 Hall of Fame pitchers for a total of 541 plate appearances. That is equivalent of a full season of only HOF pitchers. Gwynn hit .331 in those plate appearances. 


Current face of the team goes to Fernando Tatis Jr. After winning his first Gold Glove after a position switch to the outfield, if he can get his bat going again, he'll be in the MVP talks for 2024.

     

San Francisco Giants

One of, if not the greatest players of all-time, Willie Mays, is the all-time face of the Giants. If you haven't read his book, 24 Life stories and lessons from the Say Hey Kid, you are missing out. 

Finding the current face of the team for the Giants has been the most difficult of the ones to figure out. There's no current real star power. I could have gone with Jorge Soler, or maybe Michael Conforto. I almost said there wasn't one, but I finally settled on Mike Yastrzemski as the current face of the team for me. Honestly, this came from card collecting. Seems like every time I open a pack of cards I pull one of his cards.

     

The '56 Willie Mays is on my bucket list. I love the smile and the action picture in the background. '56 Topps is one of my favorite sets because of the design.

I chose the '20 Topps Yastrzemski (I almost wrote Yaz, but I can't do that, that's his dad!) because, once again, I'm a sucker for an action shot. I like this pose and that you see his eyes following the ball. 

That does it for the National League West. Time to move on to the American League. Please don't hesitate to to leave a comment or two about my choices, especially, if you disagree.

Peace,

Michael

Isaiah 40:31

"The way he plays the game." What does that mean?

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