Friday, April 26, 2024

Ramblings of an old collector

 Just my thoughts on some random topics about cards and baseball.

- Huge shout out to The Diamond King

He sent me this 2015 Panini USA Baseball Stars & Stripes Magenta printing plate for my Corey Seager collection! Such a sweet card! Thank you Kevin!

- MLBPA is claiming that the 18 second pitch clock is the cause of all of the arm injuries. There's no research to support it. Justin Verlander said "I think in reality, you put everything together and everything has a bit of influence. I think the biggest thing is that the style of pitching has changed so much. Everybody is throwing the ball as hard as they possibly can and spinning the ball as hard as they possibly can. It’s hard to deny those results, obviously." I have to agree with Verlander. I heard one pitcher say that he has to grip the ball harder in order to increase his spin rate. That makes much more sense to me as to what is causing all of these injuries.

- Saw a story on YouTube that there is an obvious counterfeit card that got graded by PSA. So, I'm just going to say that literally, authenticity was the only reason I ever saw to get cards graded. If they can't even do that, why in the world would you want to spend the money?

- I'm not the biggest fan of the inserts in the 2024 Topps release save one. The rainbow foil card actually looks pretty good. There's no way that I'm going to try and complete a set of them, but I will definitely keep my eye out for some of my favorite players.


Not the best pictures of the rainbow foil, but then again, I'm not sure I've seen a good picture of the rainbow foil cards.

- Love seeing the resurgence of Mike Trout.

- I've spent a little time updating TCDB inventory. Still got a long way to go, but there is positive movement. 

- Speaking of TCDB, I've completed 77 trades. For some of you guys, that's a drop in the ocean, but for me, it's progress. I've actually figured out proposing trades and I think the last several trades I've done I proposed them. 

- Sam Houston State product Colton Cowser has had a really hot start this year for the Orioles. I'm not telling anyone what to do, but I'd definitely be on the lookout for his rookie cards this year.

- Got my first few blaster boxes of 2024 Topps Heritage and I really like the cards. I'm not thrilled with the short prints being 1-100 though. If you've got to have short prints I'd rather they be at the end and not the beginning. Is that a set builder's mentality or is it old school? The high numbers in the older sets were always the ones that were harder to find. I think it's old school thinking.

Just some of my favorite '24 Heritage cards that I've pulled.

- Speaking of Heritage, finishing 2023 is going to be difficult. I was hoping that I could trade for the missing short prints, but it seems that most people want to trade short print for short print, which I completely understand. I think I've almost depleted all of my extra short prints. Going to have to go to purchasing them I guess if I want to finish the set.

- My Rangers recently lost a series to the Braves. I didn't get to watch all of the games, but the Braves looked really good. I'd love to see the Dodgers and Braves square off in the NL Championship Series this year. That would be a great series.

- Just want to throw out there one more time, If you haven't seen the movie "The Hill" it's on Netflix. Can't go wrong with a baseball movie on a rainy day.

- My two favorite baseball movies are "The Sandlot" and "Field of Dreams". "The Sandlot" because it reminds me of my childhood playing ball with my buddies and "Field of Dreams" for two reasons. First, I'd love to have the chance to watch a game of baseball played by the greats of the game like Shoeless Joe. Second, I'd love to have the chance to play catch with my dad one more time. 

I think that about wraps it up for now. I leave you with a quote from the great Babe Ruth...

"Never let the fear of striking out get in your way."

Isaiah 40:31


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. 

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 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. 



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.



Isaiah 40:31

The Seventies-My favorites Round 1

The Seventies were my youth. The movies "Jaws" and "Star Wars" came out. Disco was king. The A's and Reds dominated ...