Sunday, December 24, 2023

Christmas Eve

 As I sit here late at night on Christmas eve reflecting on all of the blessings I have received this year, I have decided that I am a very blessed man. I have a great wife who puts up with my baseball card collecting, great kids and their spouses that I enjoy every moment I get to spend with them. 7 grandkids that make me laugh and give great hugs to their Papa. More family and friends than I can count who love and support me. I am very blessed. 

This year I got to add something else to my many blessings; my blogging and card collecting friends. 

Now I realize that I haven't ever met any of them and all of our communication has been through comments on blogs, emails, TCDB trades/messages or random acts of kindness packages sent through the mail, but to me, they are my friends. People that I get to share card collecting with who actually understand and don't just nod their head pretending they are interested or have the slightest idea of what I'm talking about. 

As I sit here sipping some egg nog and finishing up this post, the clock strikes midnight and it's Christmas Day.


Merry Christmas fellow collectors! I hope you are more blessed than I am this Christmas morning!

Peace, 

Michael

Isaiah 40:31

P.S.

I want to give a shout out to my friend, Night Owl, for the cards he sent me way back in November! Sorry it took so long to say thank you. The 1986 Topps go towards completing the set and Kershaw heads into my Kershaw collection. 

    




Thursday, December 14, 2023

Heart and Hustle

 Have you ever heard of the Heart and Hustle Award? 

This award, given to the player who demonstrates a passion for the game and embodies values, spirit and tradition of the game of baseball, was instituted by the Major League Baseball Alumni Association in 2005. The MLBPAA creates 30 committees made up of former players with connections to each team. Those committees nominate one player based on their passion, work ethic and desire both on and off the field. At the end of the season, fans (I've never voted!), alumni and current players vote. 

I can honestly say that I'd never heard of this award until one of my favorite World Series Champion Texas Rangers (It never gets old saying that!), Marcus Semien, won the award for the 2023 season. 


At a time when athletes seem to be focused on "me" instead of team, it's nice to have players recognized who go about playing the game the right way. Semien did it the right way. He set an MLB record of 835 plate appearances in 2023. He hit .276 in the regular season with 40 doubles, 29 home runs and 100 RBIs. In the playoffs, he started off cold, but heated up to have 2 doubles, a triple and 2 home runs driving in 10 RBIs. Semien started all 179 games at second base. There's no doubt that Corey Seager and Adolis Garcia carried the biggest offensive load this year, but Marcus Semien was the steadying force for this team.

Here are the previous winners and their cards:

                2022                                                         2021
        Paul Goldschmidt                                      Ozzie Albies
     

***2020 was lost due to COVID.*** 

                       2019                                             2018
                Howie Kendrick                             Mookie Betts
    

                         2017                                              2016
                 Brett Gardner                               Todd Frazier             
    
 
                           2015                                            2014
                     Anthony Rizzo                           Josh Harrison
    


                2013                                                       2012
            Dustin Pedroia                                        Mike Trout
    

                            2011                                            2010
                    Torii Hunter                                 Roy Halladay
    


                       2009                                                         2008
                   Albert Pujols                                    Grady Sizemore 
    


                              2007                                         2006
                      Craig Biggio                              Craig Biggio
    

2005
David Eckstein
  

Tenacious, relentless effort, energetic, playing with passion and a phenomenal teammate are just some of the words used to describe these players. Other words that describe these players are All-Star, Silver Slugger winner, MVP and World Series Champion. All great words to describe these players, but there's more. 

Each of these players is well known for giving back to their communities and beyond. Supporting their team charities, creating their own foundations that support cancer patients and their families, surviving members of military families, numerous youth organizations, baseball clinics, etc...the list goes on. 

I know that every time I see a story about my Rangers in the community giving back, I see Marcus Semien there. These are the guys that live by example. The ones that you want you kids to emulate. These are the heroes of the game. 

Since I've found out about this award I've decided that I'm going to collect the Topps card for each winner in the year they won. That's one of the best thing about collecting; you get to collect what you want! All I have to do now is find a place to display them.

Peace, 

Michael 

Isaiah 40:31


Saturday, December 2, 2023

My least favorite sets from the 1980s

Still reveling in my Texas Rangers FINALLY winning a World Series! Such a long time in coming, that its really hard to move on from it. Can't tell you the number of times that I've watched replays on YouTube. 

However, that is for another post. This one is about my 3 least favorite sets from the 1980s. 

 I'm not a negative person. I'm definitely a "the glass is half full" kind of person. I get that from my faith in God and my parents. I tell you that so you know that this post about my least favorite sets from the 1980s is not supposed to be a big negative thing. I mean, it's baseball cards, so how can that be bad, right? 

Once again, this is not going to be a deep dive into the sets. As a matter of fact, I'm going to include all three of the sets in this one post. These aren't in any order, just my least favorites from the decade. The biggest thing for me on these sets has absolutely nothing to do with the number of rookie cards or the over abundance of cards printed. These are just my least favorite designs of the cards from the '80s. 

Leading off the list of my least favorite Topps sets from the '80s is the 1981 set. 

1981 is the year I got into card collecting. I opened a ton Topps, Fleer and Donruss packs that year. A failed attempt at making a quick buck on Fleer error cards, a whole bunch of Donruss packs (I cannot for the life of me remember why!) and lots of Topps, chasing the Fernando Valenzuela and Tim Raines rookie cards. 

   

There are 726 cards in the set with 79 of those rookies. The other sought after rookie cards from the set are the Hall of Famer Harold Baines and Kirk Gibson. 

    

Back in '81, I didn't mind the design of the card, but the more time that has passed, the hat on the left bottom corner just doesn't work for me anymore. I don't think I'm a fan of all of the information on the front being at the bottom of the card either. I do like the way Topps chose to designate the All-Stars and there are some really good close up pictures of the players.  

    

This isn't a terrible set, just not one of my favorites. Could be part of the reason I still haven't completed the set yet.

Next up on the least favorite Topps set from the 1980s is the 1982 set.

The 1982 set was the first set that expanded to 792 cards. There are 62 rookie cards with 26 of those being the Future Stars team cards shared by three players. The most famous and sought after being card #21, Orioles Future Stars with Cal Ripken Jr. 


Who doesn't love Cal Ripken? Okay, I'm sure there's people out there that don't, but I sure don't know any. That card is almost the reason, all by itself, to not have the '82 set on my least favorite sets, but I'm sorry, I just don't like the double hockey stick design of the cards. I definitely didn't coin that phrase, but once I heard it, it fit. I think Topps was trying to be modern and in the '80s I guess that would qualify, but it doesn't work for me. 

    

There are some decent action shots in the set and I kind of like the facsimile autographs on the cards, but I keep finding myself drawn to strange colored hockey sticks on the side. Plus, I think the Topps logo on the front is kind of big.

The last of the least favorite Topps sets from the '80s falls to the 1987 set.

The '87 set is made up of 792 cards and is probably the most over-produced set out there, but that's got nothing to do with why it is one of my least favorites sets. It's all got to do with the wood grain border. 

     

This is 25 years after the 1962 set that had the wood grain borders. Like that set, the borders vary a bit in color and I guess its my OCD kicking in, but it drives me nuts! I do know this, it is real easy to identify the '62 and the '87 sets. That being said, There are some nice cards in the set.

    


 The Barry Bonds, Barry Larkin and Rafael Palmeiro rookie cards are from this set. My first born son was born in 1987 and I decided before the cards even came out that I would collect him a set from his birth year. I was really disappointed in the wood grain design, but I still bought them and  have that complete set for him. I don't have one for myself though, so I've got to finish that one. 

That's it for my least favorite sets from the 1980s. Like I said before, this can't be a big negative post because, its baseball cards and how can baseball cards be negative? Leave me a comment and let me know what your least favorite sets from the 1980s are!

Peace,
Michael
Isaiah 40:31

















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