2015 Topps series 1 HTA jumbo – inserts

29 03 2015

The inserts are up next.  Overall, the insert class is pretty decent in 2015.  I’m still all for the greatness of the base set – but the inserts are decent, too.  A few too many, as always – but decent.  For the inserts, I always like to go in the order of “least favorite” to “most favorite”.

Topps Originals is first – I pulled three of those from my box.  I’m just not a big fan of these things.  I’d rather they didn’t insert them, and if Topps insists, I’d rather they didn’t re-stamp them.

2015 Topps s1 Originals

The buybacks aren’t really an insert set, though – you can’t really put a checklist together of those cards and try to collect them.  But the rest of the sets I’ll show are.  And Topps has gotten one thing really right this year!  After many years of “lettering” cards, all the insert sets this year are numbered.  I’ve bitched and moaned about it before – but it’s just much better for collectors to number cards.  It’s really hard to put together a checklist when you have card #MA and #MW, but you don’t know if there are no cards or 4 cards in between.  If you have card #11 and card #14 – you know you’re missing 2 cards in there.  So kudos to Topps for going back to some common sense.

My least favorite is the 2-player set.  It’s a 15-card insert set called Inspired Play.  It has a better design than similar sets that Topps has done in the past.  But that’s the problem – Topps has done this so many times in the past!  A former player with a current player and a write-up about how said former player inspired said current player.  It’s so far from unique. Even though the set is pretty nice on the eyes – it’s hard to see this insert set without rolling those eyes.  I got 5 of these in my box.

2015 Topps s1 Inspired Play

The next one is a 30-card insert called Highlight of the Year.  Like some of the other inserts, this set picks a date of a notable accomplishment.  The design isn’t bad – I like the old beat up baseball in the back.  Unfortunately a lot of the cards are bad choices – 3 of the cards below are just the last day of the season the year a guy won the MVP.  The Lou Gehrig one is great – the first day of his legendary games played streak.  I got the 10 cards below.

2015 Topps Highlight of the Year 2015 Topps Highlight of the Year_0001

Topps did another sensible thing with the numbering here.  If you’ll notice – the cards above are all ordered sequentially by year.  They are on the back, too.  So card #1 is Lou Gehrig from 1925, and that’s the earliest year on there.  Beckett is card #28 – there are 2 more after that and they’re both later than 2003.  Common sense, yes.  But Topps hasn’t done that in the past and I’m glad they did this year.

Next up is a 25-card insert set called Archetypes – which is exactly what you would think.  It’s players who personify a type of trait – like Rickey Henderson with speed / stealing bases.  It’s an OK design, but mostly it just seems like an excuse to get good players Topps has into another insert set – it’s not a particularly keen idea.  Mike Piazza’s archetype is “power”.  Babe Ruth, Mark McGwire – that makes sense, but it’s not the first thing I think of when someone mentions Mike Piazza.  I also got 10 of these – 1 per pack.

2015 Topps s1 Archetypes

Next up is Gallery of Greats, which is 25 cards done in a similar way as framed paper cards from Gypsy Queen sets.  They have a holofoil type background, and they aren’t super thick like some similar cards Topps has made.  They don’t blow me away – but they are nicely done, and are the rarer insert (like “The Greats” and “Elite” from last year) in this year’s product.  I got these 2 guys.

2015 Topps s1 Gallery of Greats

The next insert is called Baseball History.  There are 30 cards total – 15 dates with a world event and a baseball event on the same date.  The design seems a little too much like Upper Deck’s 20th Anniversary set from 6 years ago – but I really like the concept.  I wish I’d pulled 2 matching cards to show here – but this will be a really fun set to recap when I finish it off.  This came every other pack – 5 cards in the box.

2015 Topps s1 History

Two more sets here (there really are a few too many).  My next favorite is called Free Agent 40.  This is 15 cards celebrating 40 years of Free Agency.  A really cool idea – and a nice design.  I hope Topps continues it in series 2.  5 cards.

2015 Topps s1 Free Agent 40

Finally – my favorite insert isn’t even baseball players.  I wish Topps would throw something different like this in each year.  This set is 15 cards, and it’s called First Pitch.  It highlights famous people who threw out first pitches at ballgames.  I love it.  First pitches are a tradition that has been around for a long time – and it’s one of the many cool things that adds to the baseball experience.  Whether it’s a celebrity like Jeff Bridges or a touching reunion for a military family – first pitches are part of baseball.  And I prefer my baseball card sets to mirror some of those neat parts of baseball.  I also got 5 of these.

2015 Topps s1 First Pitch

By the way – this is also one I hope Topps continues in series 2.  I would suggest they add some of the first pitches like the father/son military one above.  You can’t lose with that idea!

That’s all for insert sets from my HTA box.  Next up are the hits and I’ll post something about the call your shot game, as well.

Friday Flicks: Sandlot Cinema #2 – Major League II

27 03 2015

I figured since I’d recently watched the first Major League movie – I might as well watch the sequel and do a follow-up post as my second “Friday Flicks”.  I downloaded it on Google Play, unfortunately for $9.99 – it really should be a $4 movie.  It was actually on MLB Network about 2 months ago, and I had recorded it.  But somehow the DVR decided not to keep it.  I remember watching Major League II, or at least parts of it, when I was younger, but that had been quite a while.

Major League II DVD

As I did before – in case you haven’t seen the movie yet – SPOILER ALERT!

Movie/Studio: “Major League II”, Morgan Creek Productions (distributed by Warner Bros.), 1994

Director: David S. Ward

  • Charlie Sheen – Ricky Vaughn
  • Tom Berenger – Jake Taylor
  • Corbin Benson – Roger Dorn
  • Omar Epps – Willie Mays Hayes
  • Dennis Haysbert – Pedro Cerrano
  • James Gammon – Lou Brown
  • Eric Bruskotter – Rube Baker
  • David Keith – Jack Parkman
  • Takaaki Ishibaki – Taka Tanaka
  • Bob Uecker – Harry Doyle
  • Michelle Burke – Nikki Reese
  • Alison Doody – Rebecca Flannery
  • Margaret Whitton – Rachel Phelps
  • Randy Quaid – Johnny the Fan

Plot:  After winning their first division title in the original Major League film, the fictional version of the Cleveland Indians come back looking to make the World Series.  Roger Dorn retired and bought the team from unpopular owner Rachel Phelps, but the previous season’s success has changed the players.  Manager Lou Brown cuts Jake to keep free agent catcher Jack Parkman and backup Rube Baker, but, after some resistance, gets him to join the team as a coach.  The Tribe starts off in a funk, with only the Parkman having success.  Unfortunately, Dorn overpaid for the team and trades Parkman to the White Sox to make payroll.

Ricky Vaughn has been unable to regain the speed on his fastball, but his girlfriend/agent Rebecca Flannery wants him to keep the clean-cut look to attract more sponsors.  After a few run-ins with his ex, Nikki Reese, her students question his approach.  As the team’s struggles mount, Dorn is forced to sell back to Phelps, who keeps him on as general manager and adds him to the roster.  Lou suffers a heart attack upon hearing the news and Jake takes over as manager.

After a few emotional speeches, the Indians ride a comeback to win the division on the last day of the season, though Vaughn is still struggling.  They face the White Sox, who’d knocked them out the year before, in a rematch in the ALCS.  They win the first 3 games of the series, but lose the next 3 after a “pep talk” from Phelps.  The Tribe hold a 6-5 lead when Taylor calls Vaughn in from the bullpen.  Back with his old haircut, he demands to walk the bases loaded to get to Parkman.  Taylor allows it and Vaughn strikes him out with 3 fastballs.  As the Indians celebrate their trip to the World Series, Vaughn rebuffs Rebecca to go find Nikki, who agrees to give dating him another try.

Big League Players in the Movie:

Brewers announcer and former Major Leaguer Bob Uecker reprises his role as Indians announcer Harry Doyle.  A year after this movie was made, he called the Indians in their first actual World Series since 1948.

Steve Yeager, former Dodger catcher, reprises his role as Indians’ coach Duke temple.  Kevin Hickey, former White Sox pitcher and coach, plays bench coach “Schoup”.

There are over 50 stand-in players who were current or former minor league ballplayers.  A few of those guys made the major leagues at some point in their career, including 2 pretty notable names – see below.

Indians:  Chuck Ricci pitched in 7 games for the Phillies in 1995, winning his only career decision.  Ricci pitched 11 years in the minors, and coincidentally worked as a scout for the Tribe after he retired.

White Sox:  John Stefero was a catcher who notched 44 hits and 3 homers in 3 MLB seasons with the Orioles and Expos.  He also played 11 years in the minors, from 1979-1990.

Other teams:  Ross Grimsley won 124 games over an 11-year MLB career.  He pitched in the 1972 World Series for the Reds and made the 1978 All-Star game when he won 20 games for the Expos.

Steve Lyons played 9 seasons as a utility player primarily for the White Sox and Red Sox, notching over 500 hits in 2,300 plate appearances.

Brian Kowitz, like Ricci, also had a cup of coffee in 1995, getting 4 hits in 24 at bats for the Braves.  He played in the minors from 1990 to 1996.

Bob Smith was a minor leaguer in the Braves organization at the time of filming.  His professional career spanned from 1992 to 2006, but he made the majors as an infielder for the Tampa Bay Rays from 1998-2002.  He played in the first game in Rays’ history, getting the first pinch hit in the organization’s history.

Baseball card connection:  There aren’t any cards shown in the actual movie – whereas the original had a bunch in Pedro Cerrano’s locker.  There were 2 sets issued for the original – but none for this sequel.

Best quote:  “When the tough get goin’, the goin’ get tough.” – Rube Baker, when Ricky Vaughn comes in at the end and demands to walk the bases loaded to get to slugger Jack Parkman.

The one-liners from this movie definitely aren’t as memorable as the original, but there are still some good ones – and Rube supplies quite a few of them.  This one was the best because to me.  It’s at the end of the movie when Vaughn has finally got his mojo back, and Charlie Sheen’s “huh?” expression after reminds you not to take this movie too seriously.  In a good way.

The other two I considered.  The first: “you have no … you have no … you have no marbles” when Isuru Tanaka is calling out Cerrano.  I also like the one where Doyle wakes up from his Jack Daniels stupor to the Indians brawling each other – “It looks like Willie Hayes is trying to hit Rick Vaughn, and why not, everyone else in the league does.”

Best song:  “The House is a Rockin'” by Stevie Ray Vaughan – It would be easy to select Wild Thing again, but I think the end credits are a good song for this movie.

Other Notable facts:

  • “Major League II” was #1 at the box office in its first weekend of release (April 1st, 1994) – however it only reached #2 if you look at weekly totals. The Mighty Ducks was the #1 movie the weekend before and after ML2 garnered the top slot.
  • The movie grossed $30 million at the box office, which was 45th out of 1994 movies.  It’s the 19th highest grossing baseball movie of all-time – though it was 8th at the time of its release.  It generally had negative reviews and the $30 million is $15 million less than the first movie.

Like the first movie, there were a few nods to actual baseball players in the movie.

  • The retired numbers of Cleveland Stadium a number of times throughout the film.  An example from real life is Mel Harder (18) in the card below.  Other numbers shown include Earl Averill (3), Lou Boudrea (5), and Bob Feller (19).  Larry Doby and Bob Lemon have also had their numbers retired – but the way the angles worked, I didn’t see them in the movie.

1993 Topps best action Alomar

  • Vaughn mentions “The Ryan Express” (Nolan Ryan) when he is telling Jake about his new pitches and what he is nicknaming them.
  • You can see Buddy Bell’s picture in Jake Dorn’s office early in the movie.
  • The baseball scenes in the film was shot primarily at Baltimore’s Camden Yards.  You can see the B&O Warehouse in right field a few times throughout the film..

My opinion:  The premise of the movie works through how the team deals with a sophomore slump – which is ironic because the movie itself faces that issue.  It would have been nice to have Wesley Snipes back in the Willie Mays Hayes role, and Berenger’s role as Jake Taylor is lessened quite a bit.  Rube Baker’s role as the country idiot is funny at times, but in general the movie just seems a little bit cornier than the first one.

Obviously this movie isn’t as good as the original – but sequels rarely are.  I think this film gets a bad rap.  I enjoyed the hour and 45 minutes I spent watching it.  If you are a fan of the first one – I think you should see the second one.  It’s still a funny movie with endearing characters that is worth watching.

2015 Topps series 1 HTA jumbo – parallels

25 03 2015

Yesterday the hits, the day before the base cards – today the parallels.  There are fewer parallels this year – that’s a good thing!  First are the cards that I got from the HTA jumbo box, and the first one of those is a photo variation (not exactly a parallel – but similar).  I pulled Salvador Perez.  I like this card – and I like Perez after he got a lot of his first national exposure last postseason.

2015 Topps s1 Photo Variations - Salvador Perez

Here’s the real parallels.

1) Rainbow Foil

You get 1 “red foil” parallel card every other pack out of the HTA jumbo box – so I got 5 of these.  This replaces the Red Hot Foil and the Emerald / Gold and Diamond Foil cards from previous years.  This is a little different from those sets – to me, the background is closer to refractor technology than anything. 

2015 Topps s1 Rainbow Foil

2) Topps Gold (#/2015)

Topps Gold has been here in different forms since 1992.  I think this Gold border works better with this design than it did in past years.  Since around 2007, the Gold borders have just been print color, as opposed to foil.  But this year, it’s got a different kind of shine to it and the Gold cards actually look like a step up from the base cards.  Which is what you should be doing with a parallel card.

2015 Topps s1 Gold

3) Silver Framed (#/20)

These were new in 2015, and were only available in Hobby or HTA jumbo packs.  And I pulled one!  These are super thick metal-ish cards with made to look like a frame.  They’re pretty nice.

2015 Topps s1 Bumgarner Framed WS game 5

Those were all the parallels I pulled – so the rest are snagged from the internet.

4) Snow Camo (#/99)

Back for its third year are camouflage inserts.  Only this time, they are in snow form.  They are still numbered out of 99.

2015 Topps Snow Camo Bumgarner

5) Black (#/64)

Topps has had these for as long as I’ve been back in the collecting world.  Like the Topps Gold versions – I just think these look a lot better this year than they have in the past.  I think Topps screwed up, however – they are usually numbered as the year plus 50 – for example in 2013 they were numbered to 63.  Last year to 64.  And this year… they were numbered out of 64 again.  Topps basically forgot to add the year!

2015 Topps black Bumgarner

6) Pink (#/50)

Also back for a third year.  It must be the design – because these sure look a lot better, too.

2015 Topps pink Bumgarner

7) Clear (#/10)

Also known as acetate.  These are bad-ass.  I want one!

2015 Topps acetate Bumgarner

8) Platinum (#/1)

2015 Topps Platinum Tanner Roark

Retail Exclusives

9) Toys-R-Us Purple

2015 Topps Toys R Us Purple Bumgarner

10) Printing Plates (#/1)

There are a lot fewer this year – there were 15 when I did this last year.  Silk cards are gone, and four retail exclusives are gone as well (Target Red / Wal-Mart Blue / Green / Yellow).  I think this is a good thing!

2015 Topps yellow plate Trout

2015 Topps Series 1 – base cards

23 03 2015

As mentioned, I got a box of Topps series 1 HTA jumbo packs last month.  I got the full set of 350 cards – which is one of the benefits for buying a jumbo box instead of a hobby box.

I showed them yesterday, but here are the retired players again.  It would be great if Topps adds Adam Dunn and Alfonso Soriano in series 2.

2015 Topps Jeter Konerko

The first thing after that I’ll scan is the full Reds team set.  There are 14 cards, excluding a couple of Johnny Cueto appearances on the league leader subset.  As you can see, team cards are back for the first time in a couple of years.  And I’ll re-scan the Billy Hamilton card a little later here – with a minor complaint to go with it.  2 cards I particularly like here.  The Mesoraco face has gotten a lot of interest on the blog-o-sphere.  And it’s nice to see local Cincy products like Kahn’s and Kroger in the background of the Todd Frazier card.

2015 Topps s1 Reds cards_00012015 Topps s1 Reds cards_0002

Speaking of league leaders.  Here are the 10 League Leader cards.  I think the 3-player horizontal design really needs to go.  I like some of the older versions Topps did in the 60’s and 70’s better.

2015 Topps s1 League Leaders Pitchers

2015 Topps s1 League Leaders Hitters

Back for the 2nd straight year is the Future Stars subset.  There are 16 players in this subset.  That means there will probably be 32 in total – which is too much if you ask me.  And I really don’t think the Topps All-Star Rookie Team should be included.  Evan Gattis was a rookie in 2013 – that just doesn’t seem to be what Topps did in the past with the Future Stars theme.

2015 Topps s1 Future Stars_0001

2015 Topps s1 Future Stars_0002

DeGrom didn’t make the All-Star Rookie Team, despite winning the NL Rookie of the Year award.  I think that’s fair – Tanaka was probably a better pitcher last year.

Another subset is the checklists.  I’ve read some complaints about these cards – why do you need checklists in today’s age, the writing is too small, etc.  I’m mostly OK with these cards, but just because I like that Topps is getting season highlights into the set.  I’d rather have a write-up on the back about Jeter’s last game at Yankee Stadium, but I’m fine with it being a checklist, too.

2015 Topps s1 Checklists

The last subset is the World Series Highlights.  4 of the 7 games can be found in series 1 – games 1, 4,5 and 7.

2015 Topps s1 World Series

There were a lot of retro jerseys in last year’s set – but I could only find 3 alternate jerseys in this year’s series 1.

2015 Topps s1 retro uniforms

Here’s the best photos, in my opinion, in the series.

2015 Topps s1 action shots

Nice that Trout, who won the AL MVP after starting his career with 2 runner-ups, got a great photo in this set.  I already showed Abreu and DeGrom – the RoY winners – above; below are the other two award winners.

2015 Topps s1 Kershaw Kluber

And the next are just some of the best players / hobby all-stars in today’s game.

2015 Topps s1 best players

2015 Topps s1 best players_0001

In the next post I’ll showcase the parallel cards I got.

2015 Topps Series 1 – HTA box

21 03 2015

I know I’m way behind on this – Heritage is already out and Opening Day is coming out in a couple of days.  But I wanted to finish my 2001 Topps posts before I got to the current year’s set.  I bought a HTA jumbo box a month ago, which is what I typically do because it’s more value.  There are 3 guaranteed hits, compared to 1 in a hobby box, and the inserts tend to be much better.  You pay a little more than a third extra – that feels like it’s worth it.

Here was my first card – card #289, Matt Joyce.  Nothing too exciting, except that this year’s design is exciting all by itself.  More on that later.

First Topps card of 2015 - Matt Joyce

Just like last year – the most notable cards to me were the two retiring greats.  Derek Jeter led off the set with card #1, and Paul Konerko was card #177.  Both are memorable cards from their last game.  Todd Helton and Mariano Rivera were the 2 guys a year ago.

2015 Topps Jeter Konerko

I love when Topps does this final card with a full line of statistics.  It’s good to have a flagship Topps card in 2015 showing Jeter’s tally of 3,465 hits.  Just like it’s good to see 439 homers on the back of Konerko’s card.  I prefer the Mickey Mantle treatment over the Stan Musial option.  Mantle got a card in 1969 Topps, but Musial didn’t have one in 1964.

Thoughts on the set:

  • Design.  The best design since I’ve been back collecting.  I’ve seen people call it the fingerprint set and the stucco set.  I kind of like the latter description – I just got in contract to buy a house that has stucco on the front, and I think it fits.  The bottom right that makes people think of fingerprints – it really looks more like a sonar wave.  I’d also point out that there are small linear circles at the bottom that kind of look like a cheese grater.  Regardless, I’m just ecstatic that Topps went with a colorful design.  And they did it very well, I might add.  I think 10 years from now, if you say “2011 Topps” or “2013 Topps” – you won’t readily know the difference.  But 2015 Topps?  The colorful borders will immediately jump into collector’s heads.  Good job Topps!  Standing out (without being gaudy) is good!  The card backs are pretty nice, too – they keep with design elements from the front.
  • Photography.  The photos are pretty good, but not as good as last 2013 or 2012.  Continuing a trend from last year, most of the photos are just too closely cropped.  I like a little variety, and there are some that aren’t cropped too bad, but overall I prefer shots where you can see the background a little more.  That’s not the case in this set – the Jeter and Konerko above are probably the 2 furthest cropped cards in the set.
  • Parallels.  2011 – 8 full parallels (ignoring anything 1/1).  2012 – down to 6.  2013 – ramped up to 11 total.  2014 – a whopping 13.  That was too much in my opinion.  Now they’re back to 8, though there could be more.  Target and Wal-Mart don’t have red or blue parallels, which helps.  The framed cards (#/20) are pretty cool, and the awesome acetate cards (#/10) are back from last year.  I wish the acetate cards were easier to pull – out of 100 or something like that.
  • Inserts.  Topps has a particular focus on baseball history this year.  More specifically, many of the inserts focus on dates in history.  I like most of the inserts.  The first pitch cards are great – though I wish they could get a few bigger stars in there.  Hopefully series 2 will continue this set.  Thankfully, Topps went away from the mini versions of old designs.  Overall – the inserts seem very interesting and collectible.
  • Other.  There are 16 cards with the “future stars” designation, but I don’t like that Topps added that to anybody with a rookie cup on their cards.  Those were always separate, and I wish they’d keep it that way. The 3-player league leader design has got to go!  Finally, the relics that I pulled and the autos I’ve seen are pretty nice.

Bottom line – I love the colorful new design.  A month ago when I opened it (and wrote this), it was the most excited I’ve been about Topps flagship since 2010 (when I got back into cards), or 2011 (which was the 60th anniversary).  Tomorrow I’ll show off some more of those cards.

Trade with reader Brian

19 03 2015

My third straight trade post was a trade from last week.  Brian reached out to me about a trade soon after I my 2001 posts got up and running.  He’s got an interesting project on his end – he’s basically trying to get every card Topps produced in 2001.  Needless to say, I had a few things to help him get further on that path.  Brian actually lives in Chicago, so we figured we’d meet up in person to make the trade.  This was my first ever in-person trade; it helps to save on the shipping!

If anyone has some 2001 Topps cards (including Bowman, Chrome, Finest, Heritage – anything they made) – let me know.  He asked me if I knew anyone else who’d be a good trade partner, and I’ll certainly be able to help connect fellow collectors!

Now on to my part of the goodies!  Since I had a big issue with cards sticking together, I had quite a few needs for that set.  Brian knocked out over 200 of those cards, and I’m really close to finishing the set up.  Here are my favorites from all 181 of the 2001 Topps cards he sent:

Trade Reader Brian 2001 Topps

Trade Reader Brian 2001 Topps_0001

Trade Reader Brian 2001 Topps_0002

Trade Reader Brian 2001 Topps_0003

Brian also sent me 19 Topps Traded cards.  Thanks again for the trade, Brian!

Some Therapy in the mail

17 03 2015

At the end of February, I traded with Adam from Minnesota.  Adam reached out to me in January, and shortly after that he had thrown his hat into the blogging ring.  Adam’s new site is called “Addiction as Therapy” – a clever name and a neat perspective.  Adam got back into cards as a hobby after he’d had to go through heart surgery.  While I don’t have a story nearly that interesting, I certainly appreciate the calming effect cards can have.  Plus, I could tell my wife about his blog, and that’s helped convince her that all these cards of baseball cards are a good thing!

I sent Adam a few cards to tackle Topps sets he needed, and a few cards of Bo Jackson and Fernando Valenzuela from the mid-90’s.  And 3 cards to help him toward the 2015 Topps set.

Adam sent me 3 cards toward my retro set wants.  That Buster Posey may be the best card in the Heritage set.

Trade - Addiction as Therapy

He also sent me 8 inserts from last year’s Topps sets – always glad to get these in trades so I don’t have to fork over some cash later down the line!

Trade - Addiction as Therapy_0001

Thanks for the trade, Adam!  And good luck with your new blog!  I’m already enjoying the reading.

Trade with somebody else’s card shop

16 03 2015

This is going to be trade week at the Lifetime Topps project.  I made three trades in the past month, and another one or two in the hopper.  This is good – I may go off the grid a little bit in the next month; my wife is (probably) getting induced on Thursday.  Don’t worry – I have quite a few posts scheduled in advance; I’ve been rationing them out in preparation!  🙂

I completed a trade last month with Dan over at It’s Like Having My Own Card Shop.  This was my first trade with Dan, which is surprising because he has actually been blogging for about a year longer than me.  First off – great name for a card blog.  And his URL is “better than Beckett”, which is also very clever!

I sent Dan a bunch of Diamondbacks.  Some were dupes from the Topps sets I’ve been working on, and others were from some other sets I’ve got.  But the most fun was finding cards from his mini-collections.  Mini collections are a cool idea – Dan collects cards with broken bats or guys stretching.  It was fun searching through my random cards to see what I had.  I’d like to eventually collect cards with beer ads on them, to go with the “Baseball and Beer” posts I do every now and then.

Dan sent over a bunch of Reds cards for me.  There were quite a few, but I decided to make things simple, I’d show off the ones of my favorite player.  At some point, I’d like to get a collection of Eric Davis going.  I don’t know when I’ll officially do it – but for now I put any ED44 cards I find to the side for this future to be determined.

Trade Having my own Card Shop - Eric Davis

I also got 3 cards that aren’t going into the random Reds portion of my collection – but were needed inserts in the Lifetime Topps project!

Trade Having my own Card Shop - Topps cards toward my sets

Thanks for the trade, Dan!

Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #57 – Ommegang Hop House

14 03 2015

Here’s another beer posts of an offering from the Ommegang Brewery.  I have done quite a few over the years, and the newest one is called Hop House.

Ommegang Hop House 4-pack

Ommegang Hop HouseBrewery:  Ommegang Brewery, Cooperstown, NY

(Now owned by the Duvel Belgian Brewery, though still operated out of Cooperstown)

Beer:  Ommegang Hop House

Description:  Per the website – “This uncommon Belgian-style pale ale is bronze in color with citrusy, spicy, floral hop flavors and aromas coming from the liberal amount of Bravo, Styrian Goldings and Columbus in the brew kettle followed by dry hopping of Bravo in the conditioning tank.

Hop House has combined the delicious aromas and flavors of Belgian-style pale ale with more hops than we’ve ever put in a beer. A well-balanced, yet ample hop character defines this fine pale ale offering citrus and tropical fruit aromatics and flavors, a full body and a lush white pillowy head.”

It’s a good, hoppy ale.  If that’s what you like (which I usually do) – it’s a great beer.  Ommegang rarely fails in their attempts, and they have a drinkable but very tasty beer here.

Medium:  I got a 4-pack of 12 ounce bottles.

How it’s related to baseball:  The beer and the brewery itself aren’t really related at all.  The Ommegang Brewery is a Belgian-style brewery that has been around for 25 years.  But the bottom line?  It’s in Cooperstown – home of the baseball Hall of Fame.  I went to Cooperstown with my dad last year, and we didn’t stop here, but I’d had a couple of these beers when I went to Cooperstown for Rickey Henderson’s induction.  The brewing tradition in Cooperstown actually goes back much further than the baseball tradition does – so I’ve been featuring these beers whenever I try one!

My 2001 All-Star selections and Silver Slugger comparison

12 03 2015

My opinion of the best player at each position in each league.  For pitchers, I pick 3 starters and 1 reliever.  I do include a DH. Here’s the 2001 version:

My NL All-Stars: C – Paul Lo Duca, LAD (.320/25/90)

1B – Todd Helton, COL (.336/49/146, 132 R, .685 SLG)

2B – Jeff Kent, SFG (.298/22/106)

3B – Albert Pujols, STL (.329/37/130)

SS – Rich Aurilia, SFG (.324/37/97, 206 H)

OF – Barry Bonds, SFG (.328/73 (MLB record)/137, 177 BB (MLB record), .515 OBP, .863 SLG (MLB record))

Gonzo walk-off singleOF – Sammy Sosa, CHC (.328/64/160, 146 R, .737 SLG)

OF – Luis Gonzalez, ARI (.345/44/123, .737 SLG)

SP – Randy Johnson, ARI (21-6/2.49/372, 249.2 IP, Cy Young)

SP – Curt Schilling, ARI (22-6/2.98/293, 256.2 IP, 6 CG)

SP – Greg Maddux, ATL (17-11/3.05/173, 233 IP)

RP – Byung-Hyun Kim, ARI (5-6/2.94/113, 19 SV)

Larry Walker and Shawn Green were the odd men out in a very talented outfield pool, though I would say the top 3 guys were clear-cut.  Jeff Bagwell had a really good year at first, but even considering Coors Field piece it wasn’t better than Helton.  The only difficult decision was at catcher, where Mike Piazza had a very good season.  Lo Duca was much better defensively and probably a little better as a hitter.  The top 2 pitchers were easy, but picking between Maddux and a few others was tough.  Matt Morris tied Schilling for the league lead with 22 wins.  Javy Vazquez had very similar numbers in less of a pitcher’s park.  I even considered Roy Oswalt, who went 14-3 after a mid-season call-up that energized the Astros.  But I think Maddux is the right choice.

My AL All-Stars: C – Ivan Rodriguez, TEX (.308/25/65)

1B – Jason Giambi, OAK (.342/38/120, 47 2B, .477 OBP, 129 BB, .660 SLG)

2B – Bret Boone, SEA (.331/37/141, 206 H)

3B – Troy Glaus, ANA (.250/41/108)

SS – Alex Rodriguez, TEX (.318/52/135, 133 R)

OF – Ichiro, SEA (.350/8/69, 242 H, 56 SB, 127 R, MVP)

OF – Carlos Beltran, KCR (.306/24/101, 12 3B, 31 SB)

OF – Bernie Williams, NYY (.307/26/94)

DH – Manny Ramirez, BOS (.306/41/125)

SP – Pedro Martinez, BOS (18-6/1.74/284, 4 SHO)

SP – David Wells, TOR (20-8/4.11/166, 9 CG)

SP – Mike Mussina, BAL (11-15/3.79/210, 237.2 IP)

RP – Derek Lowe, BOS (4-4/2.56/79, 42 SV)

The toughest pick was 3rd base.  Corey Coskie, Eric Chavez and Glaus were all very close.  The last outfield spot was also very different, though the top 2 were very clear.  Instead of Williams, I considered Torii Hunter and Juan Gonzalez.  At second base, I went with Bret Boone – that was a tough selection over Roberto Alomar at second base, who was better than a lot of guys at other positions who made my team.


NL Silver Slugger: C – Mike Piazza (.300/36/94), 1B – Helton, 2B – Kent, 3B – Pujols, SS – Aurilia, OF – Bonds, Gonzalez, Sosa, P – Hampton (.291/7/16)

Mike Hampton had a historical season in 2001 – he hit 7 home runs as a pitcher.  This was the most by a pitcher in a long time.  The record is 9, by Wes Ferrell in 1931, and a number of guys are in second place with 7.  However, no pitcher has hit 7 since the DH came into place – except for Hampton.  Even more amazing is that Hampton, who had always been a good hitter, had never hit a homer until 2001.  Now some of this was because he had signed with Colorado – but he did hit 3 of the 7 homers away from Coors Field.

AL Silver Sluggers: C – Jorge Posada (.277/22/95), 1B – Giambi, 2B – Boone, 3B – Glaus, SS – Rodriguez, OF – Suzuki, Ramirez, Juan Gonzalez CLE (.325/35/140), DH – Edgar Martinez (.306/23/116)

At catcher, Posada may have been better as a hitter than Pudge, but it was marginal.  And Pudge’s defense more than made up for that difference.  Manny Ramirez caused an interesting thing here.  He won the silver slugger in the outfield, but he only played 55 games there.  Manny was a DH in 87 games, so to me it made sense to put him there.