Sunday, April 20, 2014

Custom Card of the Day: Pedroia Edition

I don't really hate Dustin Pedroia

I mean, I used to, a little bit, but now I can totally respect his leadership, and the fact that since Cano's slumping he'll probably be the starting 2nd baseman for the AL All Star team. I don't hate Ortiz either, because...I mean, come on, it's Big Papi for crying out loud.

So, this begs the question...which Red Sox do I hate?

  • Xander Bogaerts? Not yet. He hasn't done enough awful things against my teams yet. It may turn out to be him in a little while though, like...
  • Will Middlebrooks. Yeah, him I definitely hate. Just pops up as a rookie, and people just start talking about him solely because he's from Boston. Hasn't really done anything.
  • Jonny Gomes? Yeah, Mr. Pointy Beard's near the top of my list.
  • A.J. Pierzynski? Sorta hated him with Chicago. Now, he's generally despisable. He's not all the way there yet.
  • Shane Victorino? Hell, no. Of course I love Shane, he's an ex-Phillie!
  • Jon Lester? Definitely hate him.
  • Clay Buchholz? He's probably my go-to goat these days.
  • Grady Sizemore? Never. A good friend of mine's a Cleveland fan. I would never do that to him.
  • Edward Mujica? Cardinal + Boston= never a good combination.
  • Koji Uehara? Not really, though this could vary as the year goes on.
Coming Tomorrow: The newest hip rookie from Chicago. Not that side, the other side.

Custom Card of the Morning: Pineda Edition

I'm not too religious, but I at least know something about Easter, other than the whole 'jelly beans and chocolate bunnies' part. Therefore, I hope it's not too tasteless to be posting a custom of Michael Pineda today. He's the closest thing the MLB has to a resurrection.

(BOO! HISS! GO BACK TO STADIUM CLUB BREAKS!)

Look, pretty much every Yankee fan thought his career was dead in the water back in 2013. He pitched a pretty nice 2011 season, came to us the next year, got injured and didn't show results until late last year.

Now, after a few very nice starts, Michael Pineda is becoming one of the stronger pitchers in the Bronx. How about that?

Only problem is I don't know if he's for real. I don't know if this is gonna last until the end of the season, or if he'll get hurt again or anything. I'm just glad that he's pitching well NOW, and that he's finally giving the Yankees some of the stuff we signed up for when we gave up Jesus Montero for him.

(Speaking of which, remember when we all thought losing Jesus Montero would be detrimental to our chances? Man, those were some strange days)

Coming Tonight: Speaking of eggs, a bald second baseman for the Sox.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Custom Card of the Day: Choo Edition

Always count on Shin-Soo Choo to somehow make an appearance within the first month of customs without really doing anything noteworthy. It just happens that way.

Unfortunately, the Rangers got to him this year. For those of you unacquainted, the Rangers are like the Yankees, to Yankee fans. They do all the Yankee-ish things: swallow up young players at the trade deadline/offseason, make numerous postseason trips, house infuriating players and history, and live near an equally infuriating football team (Giants, Cowboys...what's the difference?)

This year, the Rangers threw some actual likeable players into the mix, like Choo and Prince Fielder. Choo had a nice season in Cincinnati last year, so maybe he'll at least do well enough while keeping Texas from doing well again. I dunno.

Coming Tomorrow: Easter. Also, I'll post a few more customs.

Rookie Debut of the Week: George Springer

Prospect History: Drafted by the Twins in 2008, chose to go to college, redrafted by Astros in 2011, at 11th. Looking like that decision sorta paid off, as he could be a big player for Houston.

Debut: Struck out twice, had one hit. To the Astros, this is gold.

Impact he could have on league: If he makes it big, he could be a huge star for Astros, and either will bring them back from obscurity or be traded to Arlington in three years' time. If he doesn't make it big, the Astros won't know until five years too late.

Will his rookie cards sell?: I think they will eventually, but I don't think they'll sell at Harper levels. At least not yet.

2014 Gypsy Queen: Finally Moving Forward (Really!)

Gyspy Queen is one of those products that seems to always be there in the background, not really being too popular but still kinda there, without any real purpose. 2011's set was obviously the most well-formed, and well-designed. The quality has gone downhill a bit since then, with the 2012 and 2013 sets being disappointing, not including the consistently-stellar inserts.

2014 marks a new breed of success for Gypsy Queen. After breaking a Target discount "rack pack" of the stuff, I was overall impressed with the base set, design, and selection, as well as the inserts. However, it's nowhere close to where the 2011 set was.

Every 'discount pack' comes with three white-bordered non-numbered cards. You can usually get some nice cards out of this one.


Ozzie Smith, Jered Weaver, and Nick Castellanos were my pulls. The two on the left are impressive, especially the Ozzie. The Castellanos is another attempt by Topps to highlight rookies where they don't need to be highlighted.

Onto what counts, The Base Set...

Here, on the left, is one of this year's base cards. It is of Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, and it's awesome that they included a retired star like him. On the right is a card from 2011 Gypsy Queen. It's more retro-ish, and more faithful to the original. But this year's base set is more contemporary. Its aim seems to be to mix 'old-fashioned' and 'awesome', which is sort of working. The Gypsy Queen logo at the bottom isn't as bad as the ones made for 2012 and 2013 GQ, but it's not as authentic as the 2011 one.

What I'm saying is that it's really good this year, even coming close in border hue and graininess of photo. Also, the photography is pretty nice.

Like, the graininess of the filters really adds to the overall quality of the card. I threw these three in because I liked them the most, but a lot of the cards are really nice, and definitely pop, in terms of color. As someone who works with photoshop daily, I can appreciate colors that pop like that.

If you're still not convinced...
This card is of Peter Bourjos, who was with the Angels last year, and was traded to St. Louis during the offseason. Topps couldn't have photographed Bourjos in that time, making this a definite photoshop. However, as PS jobs go, this one is handled well, isn't too obvious, and isn't sloppily made (like a lot of the ones from the flagship set/Opening Day). In terms of photoshopping, this set is definitely improving from the last few years.

Onto the inserts.

Each pack comes with a mini. Hold your horses, you're NOT counting it wrong. I'll get to the third mini in a bit.

These minis are just truncated versions of the base cards, which isn't bad. I just don't collect them because I don't have any mini pages, so if anybody wants these two, they're up for grabs. One of these days I need to do a Mini Giveaway or something, because I don't really collect them, except for the ones in the Topps Flagship sets.

This is one of the newer inserts, a more authentic, sepia-toned Max Scherzer, fresh off his 2013 season. I really like the old-fashioned look of these cards. However, the real winners in this product are the continued inserts from the last few years. Luckily, I got one of those.

This is a pretty nice one, as you can see the detail put into making the border look really cool. I really enjoy how this card looks, how it seems to really accentuate Yasiel Puig's awesomeness, at least his 2013 awesomeness.

I got two other cards worthy of mentioning, and both are numbered. Let's look at them.

This is a blue-bordered George Brett card, numbered to 499. I let out a nice little gasp when I pulled this. My luck on blue bordered cards has been pretty nice in the past, as I've pulled a Nolan Ryan and a Ken Griffey Jr. This one is just as awesome.

So how do you top a numbered George Brett?

This is a black bordered Eddie Mathews mini. But wait. It gets better.

IT'S NUMBERED TO 199! I got a really low numbered card of a Hall of Famer out of a Target "value pack"

...THAT'S INCREDIBLE!

Overall, I was very impressed with the set, and will likely get some more packs before Archives/Series 2 hits.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Custom Card of the Day: Cuddyer Edition

First of all, I love this custom.

Second of all, who the hell called Michael Cuddyer ascending to a near-leadership position in Colorado?

Not this blogger.

I mean, his 2012 season was terribly lacking, and he never really made too much of an impact in Minnesota, save for a few okay seasons, and an All Star bid. The presence of people like Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau made it impossible for someone like Michael Cuddyer to be a star.

Which is why I was so happy when 2013 happened for him. A streak. An All Star starting nod. A Home Run Derby bid. A nice season. This was nice for someone like him.

And now, Helton's gone, and the team is in need of someone like him, who can be the elder statesman and anchor for a while. Michael Cuddyer's probably gonna be that guy, because he's proven he has the stuff. Justin Morneau's in the picture, but it's flipped from how it was back in, say, 2008. Now Morneau is slumping, and Cuddyer's made it big.

I just hope this season is as good as last for him.

Coming Tomorrow- The new It Rookie for a team that really needs some It Rookies.

Custom Card of the Day: Votto Edition

I wanna take this opportunity to address one of the odd things about collecting for as long as I have. This is also pretty thought-provoking, and confusing, so anybody who wants to look at shiny objects for a while can just look at dayf's blog or something.

When I started collecting, the big rookies were Ryan Braun, Tim Lincecum and Daisuke Matsuzaka. The next year, people like Joey Votto, Evan Longoria, Jay Bruce and Josh Hamilton were breakout stars.

Within a few years, people weren't calling these players prospects anymore. I kept it in the back of my mind that people like Braun and Votto used to be rookies. And then they were being taken seriously as actual stars. Maybe it was the way I thought as a young player, but I just kinda thought that rookies became stars in a much slower, and less obvious fashion. Nobody knew what Ryan Braun and Josh Hamilton would become in a span of three years.

This was also during the years when I still thought that people like Jim Thome, Frank Thomas and Greg Maddux would continue to be good because they were good in the 2000's and 1990's, not really realizing that baseball players lose their quick abilities over time.

It took me a while to really stop underestimating how quickly baseball players can gain stardom, and how quickly baseball stars can stop being amazing at everything.

Joey Votto, for instance, was the big young star for a couple years, until he won the MVP. Then people just started calling him a star, or a veteran even. And when people were calling a guy who'd played five or six seasons a veteran, it was a little weird. He wasn't a veteran, in my eyes. He was too young.

I think this concept sorta clicked when I saw the old baseball cards of people I called stars. Like, I was calling it into question when these new players progressed through youth in baseball so quickly, yet I'd overlook players like Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra, who did the same exact thing, only in the past. Evidently I viewed them differently because they started in my binders, and they didn't progress to their 'star' status while I was watching them (like Votto and Braun did).

It just never clicked to me, I guess. The past just fits differently in people's minds than the present.

Food for thought.

Coming Tonight (?): Helton's gone. Gonzo's young. Morneau's new. Rockies need a new veteran star figure.