Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Blue Jays Reorg #500: 2015 Topps Justin Smoak

So I noticed the other day that Chris at Nachos Grande has been using the "Great Reorg" title on his blog posts for a while, and since I don't want to step on his toes, I'm renaming my reorganization project after the Blue Jays, since that is what it's all about to begin with.

I don't see or hear a lot of rumblings from the Toronto media/fan base about any issues at first base anymore, since Justin Smoak is having one helluva first half.

Hopefully it's not just Justin blowing smoke, as his numbers are well above the norm.  

  • .299 average, he's a career .231 hitter
  • 23 HRs already, previous career high was 20
  • 55 RBIs, his career high is 59 in 2015
  • 86 hits, his career high of 108 is well within reach.
Oh yeah, he was also selected to his first all star team this year.  What's the difference?

My opinion is he's finally getting every day playing time.  He's not playing a couple of games then coming in off the bench later for a couple of games.  

If Smoak finishes with numbers comparable to what Edwin Encarnacion had done during his time in Toronto will help justify Toronto's decision to let EE walk.  It might be one of the few things the Jays brass does right this season.

thanks for reading, Robert

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Try a Pack #3: 2017 Topps Archives

I actually bought this pack a couple of weeks ago, but just hadn't got around to posting about it.  Until now.  Opening this pack reminded me of why I never collected this set.

It just didn't impress me. 

At least I can add Josh Donaldson to my Jays collection.  We did this set 8 years ago I believe for Heritage.  At least some people did, I only bought a few packs from that set back in the day.

A card of the MLBPA director?  Not sure why that's there.  I like the '82 design, it's one of the many sets I have want lists up on the blog for.  Good to see a different photo of Pops on a card.

I was beginning to think that '92 was the design for all players retired until I saw the deGrom card.  Not a bad group of players on here though, a pair of 3000 hit guys and the once single season home run champ.  Bob Lemon spent his entire career as an Indian, and it would be interesting to think of what kind of win total he would have had if he didn't serve in the military for 3 years before his career started.  The most amazing stat for me is Lemon completed 20 or more games in a season 7 times, including 28 of them in 1952.  Rubber arm indeed.

I pulled two inserts, both representing the state of Texas.  The 58 Bazooka of Nolan Ryan is a cool looking card, and I'm sure that there's someone out there that can use it.  Alex Bregman wears #2 for the Astros.  I took a quick look to see the history of the #2 in Houston, and was very surprised to see that Nellie Fox wore it in 1964-65, then it wasn't worn again until 1987!  That's a long time for a team not to use a number.

This pack was a reminder of why I don't colelct Archives.  Yes, it's a great way to revisit past sets, but for me Heritage does that job much better.  

Sometimes you just need to buy a pack to remind you of the reason you don't collect something.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Blog Bat Around: The Origins of my Player Collections

In case you missed it last Wednesday like I did, Tom from the Eamus Catuli blog started a blog bat around, asking what is the reason I collect the players I collect.

Well, I have 5 player PCs to speak of, each with their own tale of why I collect them.

My most recent collection is Felix Potvin.

I've been a life long Maple Leaf fan, and any of you who read this and are also Leaf fans know what a train wreck of a decade the 80's was in Toronto.  The biggest problem was the goaltending, starting with Jiri Crha who lasted just one season at the beginning of the decade, and the revolving door ended at the end of the decade with Grant Fuhr coming in from the dynasty in Edmonton.

The team started showing signs of life, but they needed a goalie to build the team around.  Felix was the Leafs 2nd round pick in the 1990 draft.  2 years later, he played 4 games at the end of the season, and became the #1 the next year.  I really enjoyed watching him play, and it didn't hurt that his mask design of "The Cat" was an instant favorite of mine.  Felix carried the design with him to the other 4 franchises he played with, and even though I never cared for any of those teams, I still followed his play.

Another Canadian born athlete that I collect is Brett Lawrie

I really enjoyed Brett's hard nosed play on the diamond, and I was also happy that the Jays acquired the Canadian born infielder from the Brewers for Shaun Marcum.  But he did something for a heartbroken young girl one day that really swayed me into his corner as a fan.  The girl was very upset when she found out he was traded to the A's, and a video of her in tears went viral.

The rest as they say is history.

Living north of Pittsburgh for over a decade had me watching the Pirates on TV, a lot.   It took a while, but starting to collect this guy became a real no-brainer.

What has impressed me more about Andrew is how he's handled all the adversity during his struggles of 2016 and early 2017.  You haven't heard him complain, he hasn't reacted to all the trade rumors, and his demotion in the batting order to 6th has turned him into the McCutchen of old. 

I'd really like to see him stay a Pirate for his entire career.   The way today's game is and how teams are run, that's going to be tough.

If I ever had enough baseball talent, Jim Thome reminds me of the kind of player I would have been.  I hit left handed, and had some power.  I played a lot of 3rd base where Jim started his career.  Jim was tough, wore the high socks and the eye black.

Just an old fashioned ball player.  How could you not love that?  600+ homers doesn't hurt either.  

When you're in Canada, you watch a lot of hockey.  It's what you do.  (I've heard that line somewhere before...)  You'll even watch it in French.  What impressed me about Joe to start collecting him?  Watching a English speaking player in his early 20's conduct a between periods interview completely in French, and not look out of place doing it, absolutely impressed me.  

I've collected Sakic ever since.  I've lost count, but I'd say I'm closing in on 600 cards of Sakic, if I'm not there already.  Chances are if I ever start buying higher dollar cards of any of the players I collect, they will be of "Burnaby Joe".  

Tom, thanks for the post idea, it was a good one.  I enjoyed taking a stroll down memory lane.  

Thanks for reading, Robert

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Great Reorg #400: 1993 Upper Deck Jimmy Key

I loved watching this guy pitch.  His delivery was so smooth, there seemed to be no wasted effort at all.  His '94 Upper Deck card kind of gives you the gist of it.  Medium high leg kick and slight twist.  Nothing overpowering in his arsenal, but the ball always moved around. 

Things I didn't remember when looking at his career stats:
  • He was exclusively a reliever his first full season in Toronto ('84) and saved 10 games.  
  • Led the AL in ERA in '87 (2.76).  He also had 8 complete games that year and finished 2nd in Cy Young voting (Clemens)
  • In the strike shortened season of '94, he was 17-4 (!) when play was halted in August.  He also finished 2nd in Cy Young voting that year as well (Cone)

This would be the last year for cards depicting Jimmy as a Blue Jay, as he moved on to New York in 1993 as a free agent.  The Jays would end up replacing him in the rotation with Dave Stewart and would win their 2nd straight World Series.  Jimmy would end up getting a 2nd ring 3 years later as part of the '96 Yankees World Series championship team. 

It's been fun so far going through the cards and getting them into a spreadsheet, seeing how many have doubles up to now (there's 19 players with 2 of the same card), and seeing the stack grow.  For those of you that have the Xfinity cable remote, a stack of 400 cards is as tall as the remote standing on its end. 

Maybe another couple hundred cards and I'll put them into a box and start dividing them up by year.  I still don't have a card from all 40 years of the team's existence recorded yet, but that should come soon.

Stay tuned...there's more

thanks for reading, Robert

Saturday, June 17, 2017

1426: Sportlots

It had been quite a while since I placed an order from Sportlots.  September of 2016 was the last time I bought anything off the site, and it makes me wonder why since I have so many modern sets on my want list that I haven't chipped more of those off with orders from the site.

I decided a week and a half ago to try and knock down a couple of baseball sets.  First up was this years flagship:

Only 5 of the 29 cards were horizontal.  I especially like the Blue Jays team card (of course), even more so because Topps managed to include a picture of last years "Big 4", Donaldson, Bautista, Tulo and Encarnacion.  Anyone else out there noticing the big numbers that Mark Reynolds is putting up so far in Colorado this year?  Might get his first all star nod if he keeps it going. 

Still need a little over 100 cards to finish off series 1.  With series 2 on shelves, I don't know if I can hold off buying packs before completing the first 350....

Another set that I'm trying to complete is the 2016 A&G release.  Still have 81 cards to go; I'd like to finish this set off before the end of summer so I can work on some other want lists that have been on my list for quite a while.

Finally, I added 4 more cards to my Andrew McCutchen collection.  At 18 cents each, it was easy to add them to the cart.  I'll have to start doing this more with Sportlots, as it's a lot cheaper to add to my PCs this way than always using COMC or ebay. 

The best part about this order was I received a 5 dollar credit from Paypal, so the whole thing only cost me 12 dollars! 

$1438-$12=$1426 left to spend in 2017.  June is the halfway point of the year, and I'd have to spend 426 dollars on cards in the next two weeks in order to be exactly half way to my 2017 budget. 

It looks as if I'll be ahead of the game for the next little while....

thanks for reading, Robert