Friday, June 29, 2012

Airbrushed Fridays: 1974 Topps #631

With the Reds loss last night, the Cardinals moved to within 1.5 games of first place in the NL Central. Let's face it: it's been a dismal year for the entire division, and it's been especially disappointing for St. Louis given their hot start to the season. They embark on a 10 game homestand leading up to the All-Star break starting tonight. Let's hope they play like home field advantage is a real thing.

Who is this week's victim, and why do we care? Steve Barber was a standout lefty hurler who made two All-Star teams, appearing in 7 different Major League uniforms over the course of his 15 year career. A Brewers uniform wasn't one of them, despite having twice been a member of the franchise. Barber's heyday was as a member of the Orioles, where he became Baltimore's first 20-game winner.

Why does this card exist? While Barber was a Seattle Pilot, he was dealt before the franchise would take the field as the Milwaukee Brewers in 1970. Barber spent the better part of a couple of seasons later in his career with the Angels, who then traded him back to Milwaukee in 1973. Determined not to ever where the Brew Crew's duds, Barber was released by the team a second time before the regular season would begin in 1974. He'd eventually land with the Giants where he'd toss his last big league innings.

Airbrushed Fridays is a regular, weekly feature as the name seems to imply. If you know of a card with an altered photograph that you'd like to see featured, please contact me. You probably won't win anything other than a hyperlink and some used foam packing peanuts, but you never know!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Visit to the Archives

I was in a hobby shop (more like a warehouse, actually) in Austin recently and decided to take the plunge and see what Topps Archives in 2012 was all about. I was prepared to hate this set from the few things that I had read about it. In fact, you could almost say I was hoping to hate this set for the sake of my bank account. As it turns out, I don't feel strongly one way or another about it, which means it will end up in that wishy-washy category of things I might buy at a later date if it's cheap enough (but I probably should stay clear away from if I know what's good for me.)

Here's the one pack I purchased in detail:

170 - Justin Upton (Sure, sure, there were no Diamondbacks around in 1984. I guess Topps gets a B here for creativity.)

30 - Jacoby Ellsbury

64 - Derek Holland (I suppose this doesn't look as bad as, say, the Upper Deck sets that ripped off this very design.)

115 - Gio Gonzalez (The 1980 design is definitely under-represented in the whole Topps tribute thing, at least in my opinion. I suppose there aren't a lot of iconic cards from the original set aside from the Rickey Henderson rookie card.)

67S-MC - Miguel Cabrera 1967 Stickers (These are fun, I have to say. Are these actual stickers, though? Has anyone tried to peel one of these?)

86 - Trevor Cahill (Okay, fine, I'll bite. My biggest problem with these cards is the same as everyone else's as far as I know: they are pitifully thin. I guess we're spoiled from the thick Archives/Fan Favorites/Heritage cards of the past, but these don't even approach the original cardboard thickness that your garden variety 1989 card has. While they're not paper-thin like mid-'90s Fleer, for $3-$4 a pack, you expect something a little more substantial than a gloss-less 2012 base card.)

129 - Darryl Strawberry (It's a bit odd to see a retired player in this set with a design that only predates his rookie season by a few years.)

 197 - Allen Craig (Great way to end the pack!)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Trading With Reader Dave

Reader Dave, a Blue Jays fan from the country up north, was kind enough to send me a super deluxe package of Redbirds which arrived right before I went on vacation at the beginning of this month. Unfortunately, I still haven't mailed his return package. Expect that to be rectified tomorrow.

Bryan Anderson has been buried in prospect purgatory. It was nice to received this shiny purple serial numbered refractor. Although this one still suffers from the curvy "Pringle" effect, I can report that despite everyone's greatest fears, most of my 2010 Topps Chrome cards are a lot less curvy and can almost pass for normal cards.

This guy might drive Cleveland fans nuts, but he's not exactly saying things that aren't true. He's also proving himself to be a tremendous closer. The Cardinals eventually ended up with Jason Motte in the closer role instead of Perez, which has had its (mostly good) moments for sure. I like Motte a lot, but what I'm really saying is that I wouldn't mind having Perez back.

I really like these Heritage minor league cards. I don't know if they're doing them this year (not sure that I'd be as interested) but I'd like to find a checklist of the Cardinals affiliated ones from 2011 to see which ones I'm missing.

I believe this is an insert from the American Heritage set. I didn't even think about the possibility of baseball cards being in this non-sports set.

Here's a rather unflattering close-up of the guy that's done a tremendous job filling in for Chris Carpenter this year.

Steven Hill has 10 plate appearances in his major league career, 3 of which were in 2010. He did homer in his first at bat, but he's been used as more of a fourth catcher type. This is the first card I've owned of his.

I know that not everyone liked the blaster manupatches, but when they're done like this, I am not going to complain all that much. Wait, they're done making these, right?

And to finish it off, here's a tremendous looking Jon Jay auto/jersey from last year's Triple Threads set. Jay's return to the lineup has sparked off five straight victories for the Birds, something I really can't complain about.

Thanks again to Dave, who should keep an eye on the mailbox soon.

Monday, June 25, 2012

5 on the 5: 2012 Topps Series 2

I finally took the plunge and ponied up for some 2012 Topps Series 2 packs as I mentioned recently. Here we are in late June, and I've only bought something like 15 total packs of the flagship Topps series. I should be proud of myself, I guess. Unlike with Series 1, however, I didn't get in on a group break so I am going to have to do a lot more chasing to get the Cardinals cards I need for my collection. These packs managed to help a little bit, though.

Pack 1:
419 - Cameron Maybin (Maybin started to show some life last year as a useful, productive player when he stole 40 bases, but he's really not been a lot of help to my fantasy team this time around.)

402 - Allen Craig (It's nice to hit a Cardinal so early on. This is a nice shot from last year's World Series. My favorite photos are when the baseball is captured mid-flight.)
450 - Justin Upton
556 - Stephen Strasburg
584 - Daric Barton (The one-time Cardinals prospect has been the ultimate Moneyball player. He walks a lot and is still relatively cheap, though he's had a rough time since his 2010 breakout season.)
445 - Ramon Santiago

399 - Brian McCann Golden Parallel (Well, Yadier Molina has finally surpassed this six-time All-Star as an offensive player. For now. I'm crossing my fingers.)

GF-37 - Jordan Walden Gold Futures (I believe this is a new-to-Series 2 insert set. I'm guessing there are relic versions of these with the relic replacing the team logo.)
517 - Francisco Liriano
486 - Jerry Sands
521 - Ruben Tejada
627 - Justin Smoak (I wonder if he'll ever put it together.)

Pack 2:
421 - Heath Bell
389 - Alexi Casilla
449 - Shane Victorino

507 - Norichika Aoki (I think with the arrival of Aoki, Cespedes and others this season, the novelty of the international prospect has finally worn off. These players are being judged for what they do on the field now.)
534 - Hector Gomez

GM-9 - Ryan Howard Golden Moments (Howard is making 20 million dollars this season. I wonder if he has any more Subway commercials in him.)
GGC-12 - Felix Hernandez Golden Giveaway Code (It's time to see what I get with my first code from Series 2... Detroit Tigers team coin!)
608 - Paul Goldschmidt
563 - Alex White
525 - Paul Maholm
510 - Randall Delgado
536 - Kendrys Morales

Pack 3:
398 - Buster Posey

415 - Rafael Furcal (Fookie!)
519 - Gio Gonzalez
465 - Michael Schwimer
484 - Hisashi Iwakuma

540 - Dustin Pedroia Golden Parallel (He's flying.)
GGC-14 - Clayton Kershaw Golden Giveaway Code (Another code! And it's... a David Ortiz coin! I also passed some sort of threshold that affords me a free code, which for some reason showed me a graphic of a certain Angels first baseman on a gold coin wearing a Brewers cap and looking like Ryan Braun. And my bonus prize is... an Adrian Gonzalez coin!)
569 - Travis Hafner

371 - Jim Thome (Word up.)
611 - Neftali Feliz
596 - Freddy Garcia
545 - Randy Wolf

Pack 4:

407 - Torii Hunter (Hunter continues to have some of the most entertaining baseball cards out there.)
567 - Mike Stanton
655 - Ryan Doumit
337 - Glen Perkins
568 - Jason Castro

CD-18 - Robinson Cano Career Day (This is another new-to-Series 2 parallel, but I actually like the design.)

355 - Mark Buehrle Target Red Parallel (The Cards start a series against the Tacky Fish tomorrow, but they'll miss Buehrle.)

490 - Chris Carpenter (Get well soon, Carp!)
471 - James Shields
395 - Jonathan Lucroy
485 - Carlos Marmol (I think I stepped on a marmol once.)
549 - Kelly Johnson

Pack 5:
403 - Bronson Arroyo
334 - Anthony Rizzo (The super-hyped Rizzo is supposedly making his debut with the Small Bears on Tuesday.)
447 - Jair Jurrjens

530 - Cliff Pennington (I like the throwback uni.)
538 - Wilson Betemit

GM-30 - Mark Teixeira Golden Moments

GGC-19 - Derek Jeter Golden Giveaway Code (Nice to get three codes in five packs. I'm a bit past the point of being excited about virtual coins, however. I got a Lou Gehrig HOF coin.)

376 - Carlos Quentin (A non-Photoshopped player in his new uniform!)
590 - Humberto Quintero (Don't tell Topps or anything, but Quintero was traded before the season even started yet appears in his former Astros uniform here.)
426 - Eric Hinske
467 - Juan Francisco
350 - Evan Longoria

Everything here is up for grabs aside from the Cardinals card and the flying Pedroia, because Erin likes the flying guys.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Photoshopped or Not: Paul Maholm

Sometimes it's really hard for me to identify a Topps touch-up job. I initially scanned this card from Series 2 with the intent on using it for yesterday's Airbrushed Fridays post. When I examined the card itself, it looked like a fraud. Often times on Photoshopped images, the lettering and logos look all stretchy and weird. And it seemed like the 'C' on Maholm's chest just about runs into his glove. After I scanned the image and looked at it all zoomed in, I started to have my doubts. A quick Google search led me to this image of Maholm's card from the Cubs team set, which is clearly 'Shopped. The thing is, it's doubtful (though not impossible) that Topps would have used a new photo for Series 2 if it wasn't the real deal.

Weigh in with your thoughts about this fairly insignificant card of a fairly anonymous Cubs pitcher in the comments section.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Birds for Twinkies

Quite awhile back, rhubarb runner sent over a bunch of Cardinals merch in a big box that to this day I still haven't finished going through. He lives in Cardinal territory, and with much jealousy and admiration I am able to work out the occasional trade with him. The Cardinals and Twins, his team, don't seem like natural enemies on the surface unless the memories of that 1987 World Series are still fresh in your memory. I got a chuckle out of him sending me a big display that commemorated that occasion as we all know how that series turned out.

Anyway, the Metrodome is no longer a thing (for baseball anyway) and the Twins get to play in a pretty outdoor stadium like St. Louis has. The card at the top of this post comes from our latest Cards for Twins swap and is actually from the 2012 Topps Cardinals team set. I really like collecting those Topps team sets, and one day I should probably compile a list of what I have and don't have. I almost never see these things on store shelves myself so I have to rely mostly on fellow traders.

Every time I look at an Upper Deck Documentary card it just boggles the mind over how this even exists. It's no wonder Upper Deck is out of the game at this point. That's not a total condemnation of this set or at least it's concept. It seems like something I would have designed and have been very interested in as a kid. (I was a very nerdy kid.) The execution was all wrong as is well documented, however.

This here's a pretty sweet serial numbered Keith Hernandez card from the mid-oughts. Sometimes I really don't know what to say about a card, but I want to show it off anyway. I'm sure most of you know how I feel.

Boom! Nice font there, Fleer. It looks like something out of 1982 trying to be 2002. Instead, the copyright says 2003.

Airbrushed Fridays: 2012 Topps #421

On this date ten years ago, my favorite pitcher in baseball died suddenly and tragically. MLB Network is going to air a special about Darryl Kile at some point next month. If you don't know much about him, or even if you do, I highly recommend you check it out. I know that I'll be watching.

Who is this week's victim, and why do we care? Heath Bell is the current Miami Marlins closer. He struggled mightily at first, adapting to his new surroundings, but he has not allowed a run in his last 9 outings. Bell came into his own as a late innings reliever with the Padres and grabbed hold of the closer role when the great Trevor Hoffman moved on. Miami seemingly shelled out big bucks to anyone and everyone who would listen this offseason and Bell was one to sign on the dotted line.

Why does this card exist? I broke down and bought some new Series 2 packs when I realized that many of the cards are Photoshopped. In this case, it's more Topps Laziness on display here, as they used this same photo in the Opening Day set. Usually, you would expect more out of Series 2, which is where you're supposed to see your favorite players in their actual new uniforms. Maybe they don't allow photographers in that new eyesore of a stadium that they have going on in Florida.

Airbrushed Fridays is a regular, weekly feature as the name seems to imply. If you know of a card with an altered photograph that you'd like to see featured, please contact me. You probably won't win anything other than a hyperlink and a stack of 1990 Pro Set football cards, but you never know!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

In Search Of: Gypsy Queen


One of my new goals with this blog is to be even more straight-forward about its purpose. And that purpose is to get me cards that I want and get rid of cards that I don't want. To that end, this post is all about letting the public know that I need some 2012 Gypsy Queen cards. I only lack Allen Craig and a David Freese variation card (the one where he's throwing) to have all of the full-sized Cardinals base cards. Unfortunately, I need a whole lot of minis and whatever inserts may exist. A complete (to the best of my knowledge) list can be found by clicking on the St. Louis Cardinals link on the sidebar.

I participated in a Gypsy Queen group break over at Cardboard Heaven recently, which is how I ended up with the majority of the base team set. I also picked up a discounted blaster ($15) just for kicks at a show recently, so I will have the results of that here soon. This will add to the growing trade bait pile, along with a couple of Frank Thomas Straight Cut minis that came along with my Cardinals lot. Any Big Hurt or White Sox fans out there? I actually have a ton of White Sox cards that would count as trade bait that I probably should do something with.

I'm sure everyone else is sick of seeing this, but I'll never get tired of it. Meanwhile, I'm ready for the Cardinals fortunes to turn around this season... anytime now, guys!

Minis are great. So is Yadi.

I also managed to pick up a few Cardinals extras in the package, including this golden Photoshopped Berkman. It would be nice to see Berkman back in uniform at some point this season, but you never know.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Heritage Blister

I'm finally getting back in the swing of things, and that means I'm allowed the occasional card purchase at the big box retail store. I picked up a three-pack blister of 2012 Topps Heritage, which like last year contains a black retail exclusive quasi-parallel set. I never got close to finishing last year's, but I am still keeping the list around. And while I'd like to say I will buy more of these, with hobby boxes as cheap as they are right now, there's probably no point.

Black Pack:

HP77 - Mark Teixeira (As you can see, the white border is replaced by a black one. I liked last year's black-meets-wood panel look better, but I'm not sure what else they could have done here.)

HP93 - 2011 National League Home Run Leaders (So these, for some reason, don't have black borders? This makes no sense. Is there anything different about this other than the card number on the back?)

HP99 - Tom Milone / Addison Reed / Matt Moore / Dellin Betances 2012 Rookie Stars (Same thing here. I don't get it and I don't like it.)

Pack 1:
283 - Brad Lidge

407 - Matt Dominguez / Jeremy Moore / Devin Mesoraco / Michael Taylor 2012 Rookie Stars (More floating heads.)
191 - Liam Hendriks / Alex Liddi / Matt Moore / Chris Schwinden 2012 Rookie Stars (Man, there are a lot of these in this set.)
279 - Matt Kemp (Please stay off the DL for the rest of the year, Matt. My fantasy team needs you.)
373 - Michael Young
183 - Mark Teixeira (Him again.)

312 - Tampa Bay Rays (One of my favorite things about Heritage cards.)
228 - Nick Hagadone / Josh Satin / Jared Hughes / Joe Benson 2012 Rookie Stars
260 - Anthony Rizzo

Pack 2:
53 - Freddie Freeman (Did we ever find out if he's going blind or not?)
374 - Tim Milone (One of the floating heads gets his own card.)

93 - Johan Santana (Normally, I would have started rooting for Santana to finish out his no-hitter once he reached the 9th inning even though it was against my own team. However, after seeing replay after replay of the botched call where Carlos Beltran had a sure-thing double taken away made me root for the Cards even more. It's nice to see Santana back to being productive, I guess.)
419 - Casey Janssen
92 - Austin Romine
116 - Vance Worley

485 - Mike Napoli (Short printed card of the slugging catcher/first baseman.)

97 - Kyle Lohse (First regular Cardinal card of the blister pack.)
25 - Delmon Young

Pack 3:
147 - "Deep" Freese Makes Texas Toast World Series (I get it!)
180 - Mitch Moreland
362 - Matt Dominguez / Chris Schwinden / Joe Savery / Brad Peacock 2012 Rookie Stars
14 - Justin Masterson
21 - Drew Stubbs (The Reds finally lost, no thanks to Drew Stubbs who is currently on the DL.)

430 - Ben Zobrist (Here's another SP. Not bad for three packs, though this means no inserts for me.)
367 - Trayvon Robinson
289 - Mariano Rivera
66 - Sergio Santos

Want list coming shortly... which is to say, I need all of the cards.