Worth a read

20 02 2017


Never played on my favorite team, but always one of my favorite players.  He’s actually a half-year younger than me.  Eesh.

A guy who plays a full year in the minors after a great career gets a ton of respect from me.  He wasn’t in it for anything more than loving baseball.

Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #77 – Hop Butcher Good Ryes Wear Black

18 02 2017

Chicago seems to have a lot of baseball specific beers.  I think it’s that Chicago just has a ton of breweries and in the craft beer desire to find as many different themes and logos as you can, you’re bound to have some baseball overlap.  There aren’t nearly as many football beers, though.

Hop Butcher is a pretty small craft brewer.  They don’t even have their own brewery (yet) – they contract brew out of a local place.


Brewery:  Hop Butcher for the World in Chicago, IL

Beer:  Good Ryes Wear Black

Description:  “In Chicago, the good guys wear black, so we dedicated our darkest beer to them. This one is scandalously spicy, built on a foundation of the finest malts and unscrupulously hopped with Chinook, Cascade and Citra. It’s so good you’d think your tongue was on the take.”

Unlike some beers you might expect to find at the ballpark, this one isn’t brewed with corn to be a golden color and filter right through you.  This is a nice, solid, roasty, malty batch of goodness!  Hop Butcher for the World is formerly known as South Loop Brewing; they changed their name about a year ago to have an even cooler Chicago-related brewery name.  This one pays homage to the poem by Carl Sandburg from the early 1900’s (“Hog Butcher of the World).

Medium:  When they were South Loop brewing, I think it was available in 22-ounce “bombers”.  Now they release them in 16-oz cans which I think is a better medium.  I got a 4-pack this summer and just finished my last one.

How it’s related to baseball:  It’s sold at U.S. Cellular Field and has a bunch of old-school baseball players on the logo.  I’m a Reds fan whose kids root for the Cubs, but I appreciate some South-siders staying true to their team!

Trade with Baseball Every Night

13 02 2017

Peter from Baseball Every Night reached out to me last month to send some cards my way.  I don’t trade anywhere near as much as I used to, but it’s always a good thing when I knock off some wantlist cards without spending some coin.  Peter collects John Kruk and Darryl Strawberry – so, Peter, look for some Kruk/Strawberry cards coming your way!

He sent me a few cards.  The best is this one.  I’m going after one card with as many parallels each Topps year, and in 2016 that was Addison Russell.  I have a ton of rarer Addison Russell 2016 Topps cards, but I didn’t have the Topps Gold card yet and this is a good pick up.


Peter also sent me some other cards from 2016 Topps.



Anyways, thanks for the trade Peter – your end is in the mail today!

Updating where I’m at with the Lifetime Topps Project

12 02 2017

I’m gonna take a little bit before my next post, so I just figured taking an inventory of where I’m at was worthwhile in the meantime.  It’s been over a year since I last opened the “next” Topps box for this project.  That was Topps 2004.  I have the 2005 Topps boxes, so it’s a matter of getting to it.

The main thing I realized is that I just got fully caught up with 2016.  My last post was “2016 Card of the Year”, and every card on my desk (for this project or not) was purchased in 2017.  There’s something neat to be said about that.  This is like my line-in-the-sand-post with 2016 on one side and 2017 on the other side.  Even though the post is in February.  Yeh, kind of confusing, but, oh well – things take me more time these days!

I caught up on so many things over the past year – I’m basically all caught up on completed set / insert set posts.  That was a big thing for me.  It also kind of caused me to get off track with the main point of this blog.  I think the rest of February will be 2016 Topps Update and 2017 Topps series 1.  After that – back to 2004!

In the meantime, here’s where I am on the Topps project through the end of 2016:

1980-1994 Topps: fully complete

1995-1996 Topps: base set complete, some inserts to go

1997 Topps: fully complete

1998-2000 Topps: base set complete, some inserts to go

2001-2004 – still need to finish the base, Traded and plenty inserts

2016 Card of the Year!!!

7 02 2017

That card below is not my choice for card of the 2016 year.

It’s relevant to the discussion, however.



The card above was a “Thank You” card that was sent over the holidays to anybody who bought a Topps Now card in its debut season of 2016.  I appreciate the card.  It features the Cubs winning the World Series, the 2 most notable retiring players, and Ichiro who passed a number of milestones in 2017.

Topps Now was a big deal.  I know some people probably don’t like it.  You could lament that it is the opposite of set collection.  You could say it’s too expensive at $10 a card.  You could say, even thought it’s a good concept, it goes over the boundary of “too much” (I think the total was somewhere around 3 cards per day).

But this is where cards are going, and it’s cool as hell.  Something happens today.  Tomorrow I can order a card that features that event.  If I go to a Cubs game and Addison Russell hits a game winning home run?  Odds are I can get the card tomorrow.  Season Highlights or Record Breakers were always my favorite cards in the Topps sets of my youth – this is those cards on steroids!

Merge that with the biggest baseball story in recent memory.  The Cubs won the World Series.  I long ago gave up the battle for Reds’ supremacy in my household – so I broke down and got a 5-pack of this card:


One for me, a few for my kids.  To me, this is the perfect card that merges a great (but long-overdue) innovation from Topps with the biggest story of the baseball century.  Bryant to Rizzo – something Cubs fans will remember for the next 108 years.

This joins other past winners on this blog:

2015: Topps Update All-Star Stitches – Todd Frazier

2015 Topps Update All-Star Stitch Auto Frazier

2014: Stadium Club – David Ortiz

2014 Stadium Club Ortiz

2013: Topps Heritage Real One Autograph – Stan Musial

2013 Heritage Real One Musial

2012: Gypsy Queen Autograph – Ken Griffey, Jr.

Griffey Jr Gypsy

2011: Topps – Jay Bruce

11T Bruce

Completed set – 2000 Topps

2 02 2017

Back in February I finished up the 2000 Topps set.  I’ve now completed the base set for everything from 1980 through 2000!

Info about my set:

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How I put the set together:

234 cards from the series 1 hobby box

239 cards from the series 2 retail box

3 cards from trades

2 cards from Beckett Marketplace

Card that completed my set:  #225 – Pedro Martinez PSH (purchased from Beckett Marketplace last February)

2000 Topps PSH - front

Set composition:  478 cards (394 individual ML player cards*, 16 Prospects, 19 Draft Picks, 1 Tribute, 7 League Leaders, 10 Season Highlights, 7 Postseason Highlights, 14 20th Century Best, 10 Magic Moments)

*The 394 individual player cards include 10 All-Star Rookies

Representation of ’99 MLB season:

Out of the 394 player cards, 3 players featured did not play in the 1999 season.  Andres Galarraga found out in Spring Training that he had a tumor in his back and had to take a season off for treatment.  Kerry Wood had Tommy John surgery, derailing what seemed like a potential HOF career.  And Moises Alou tore his ACL in the preseason.

Additionally, 14 of the players in the 3-player Prospect subset actually made it to the majors in 1999.

That leads to 405 players.  The 405 players represent 33.5% out of the 1,209 players who played in MLB in 1999.

Earliest active player from this set:  #44 – Hank Aaron, #104 – Rickey Henderson (active players)


There are again two answers to this – Henderson is again the earliest active player.  Rickey made his debut by playing both games of a doubleheader on June 24, 1979 – naturally he stole a base in his first game.

2000 Topps TRIB - front

Aaron is the earliest (and only) retired player – featured for the 25th anniversary of his record-breaking homer.

I’m not going to do last active, because there’s just still too many at this point.  It’s worth noting, Bartolo Colon and Matt Belisle are two guys I know would be on the list.

Player with the most cards in the set:  Mark McGwire – 7 cards.  Big Mac was much celebrated in this set.

Mark McGwire – #1, #232 / #469 (20th Century Best), #236 (Memorable Moments), #456 (Season Highlights), #462 / #463 (League Leaders)


First Card and the Hundreds:  #1 – Mark McGwire, #100 – Alex Rodriguez, #200 – Jose Canseco, #300 – Mike Piazza, #400 – Ken Griffey Jr.


Highest book value:  #451 – Barry Zito RC / Ben Sheets RC

2000 Topps DP - front

Not the greatest rookie card class, though it’s better than the previous year, and it would become much improved in 2001.  That said, a future Cy Young winner and another 4-time All-Star was worth noting.

Most notable card: #400 – Ken Griffey Jr.

2000 Topps Oversize s2 box Griffey

Hank Aaron’s tribute card was fairly notable, but honestly, Topps had been doing tribute cards since 1986 (maybe longer).  And unlike the previous year, Topps wasn’t paying tribute to Sosa or McGwire smashing the Roger Maris HR record.  I may be jaded, but I think the biggest story of 2000 was Ken Griffey Jr. getting traded to the Reds.  This is a really nice card that seems to be from Spring Training or batting practice.  Getting Griffey in the most updated uniform at this point was something worth pointing out.

Best card (my opinion): #85 – Barry Larkin


So many things right with this card.  The MLB logo in the background makes the color pop.  It’s Barry Larkin, a Hall of Famer, throwing out Barry Bonds.  You see how he’s dodging the slide.  It’s beautiful.

Second best card (also my opinion): #425 – Greg Maddux


While this set has a bunch of nice photos, there was a clear distinction for me between the top 2 and the rest.  Maddux bunting.  You can see the “Aaron 715” patch on his jersey.  So awesome.  This card could have been #1, but the Klesko and Larry Walker cards (which I’d put #3 and #4 in this set) are far behind these top 2.

Best subset card: #225 – Pedro Martinez PSH

2000 Topps PSH - front

If Griffey going to the Reds was the biggest story from early 2000, Pedro’s performance in the ALDS was the biggest story in late 1999.  His relief performance against the Indians is etched in my memory.  I remember watching it downstairs in the social room of my fraternity house.  All my Tribe fan friends were despondent.  The Red Sox didn’t move on any further – the ALDS win was their peak that year.  But it has always seemed more memorable than the Yanks’ win over Boston in the next round or their win over Atlanta in the World Series.

Favorite action photo: #85 – Barry Larkin


I think it’s the pure best action shot in this set.  And it’s 2 HOF-caliber players.  And the main subject is a Red.  Which is why it gets 3 scans in this post.

Favorite non-action photo: #1 – Mark McGwire

2000 Topps - front

I cheated a little bit here.  Which may make the selection of McGwire appropriate (zing)!  This is a set that focuses on action shots.  I could have taken one of the series 2 portrait shots of guy in their new uniforms (Mike Hampton is trying his best to look dreamy in his new Metropolitan uniform).  But I decided this is clearly after a McGwire home run, it’s card #1, and he’s not in the field of play so it definitely doesn’t seem to be an action photo.  So it wins the award.

My Favorite Reds card:  #85 – Barry Larkin


If I think it’s the best card in the set – I obviously think it’s the best Reds card in the set.

Other Notable Cards:  Here are a few more cards I loved from this set.  The Walker and Klesko cards stand out to me.