Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Uncustomed Heroes of 2014: Yankees

YES! I'M FINALLY DONE WITH THESE! IT ONLY TOOK ME THREE AND A HALF MONTHS, BUT I'M DONE! FINISHED! KAPUT!

Now I get to talk about the 2014 Yankees. Wonderful. The world-famous one-legged potential-killers.

Mark Teixeira was one of the few guys that did his job relatively well last year. He hit a great deal of home runs and returned to his serviceable qualities of before his injury-prone seasons. He's saying he's back in full force for 2015. I hope he's right.

This guy had a very, very nice season as our closer, before promptly saying 'screw you' and high-tailing it over to Chicago. This would be more disappointing if we didn't have somebody else in line, like...

DELLIN BETANCES! This was a guy I thought would make the team in Spring Training 2012. Sadly, he didn't, and didn't get playing time until rocking a set-up man role in 2014, gaining him a nice little ASG nod. Now is his turn as full-on Yankee closer, and I imagine he'll be pretty great.

I didn't think it would happen, but Brett Gardner has become a very trustworthy outfielder, having played in a number of nice seasons and hitting a lot of home runs. A guy I thought would be trade bait has become one of the team's most tenured members and best hitters. Way to go, man.

And then there's this guy. I'll be honest, I waited this long to make an Ellsbury custom because I kept waiting for a good enough photo. One didn't come along until very late in the season. So...I just made do with what I had. Ellsbury had a decent enough season, but hopefully will have a bigger year in 2015. I'd like some 2012-era numbers.

Well...if I had any customs from 2015, I'd post them tomorrow.

Oh, wait. I do.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Uncustomed Heroes of 2014: White Sox

Yep. Still finishing these up. Why? 2015 customs are coming up. Gotta clear the 2014 ones out before they do.

This was my second Abreu custom of 2014, because I selected a few huge stars of the year to have 2 customs, because why not. Abreu had a monster season in 2014, and all of Chicago is betting on him to have another huge one in 2015, especially given the fact that the Sox have gotten a few more contracts on the team.

Meanwhile, the other megahitter in Chicago had a less-than-stellar season. This custom is probably the best part of his season. I mean, it looks like a comic book cover. Viciedo is not sitting comfortably in...wherever the Blue Jays have Spring Training, waiting to squeeze his way onto the 40-man.

Alexei Ramirez, now that Paul Konerko is gone, is now the longest-standing member of the Chicago White Sox. And he got there after I started collecting. Man, it's tough wrapping my head around that one. Anyway, Ramirez is a consistently great shortstop, and will likely have another great season in 2015.

This guy was the real man of the hour in 2014, besides Abreu. If it wasn't for Corey Kluber, Chris Sale would have likely nabbed his first Cy Young award. And now it looks like he won't be ready in time for Opening Day, which is bad for the Sox, as they'll be forced to start Jeff Samardzija instead (which...isn't that bad).

Meanwhile in sophomore-land, Adam Eaton had a decent enough season away from Phoenix, settling into his role in the Chicago offense. He's not all the way there yet, but there's still hope.

Let me tell you, if I'd posted this in December like I was supposed to, this card would definitely would have made the top 5 on my Best Customs of the Year list, because it's that good. Just the smile on his face, contrasted with the helmets on the back of the wall. That is a great shot, and it's now a great custom.

Coming...Tomorrow, I hope: Finally I'll finish out these damn posts with the Yankees.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

2 Hanger Boxes of 2015 Topps Series 1

Yeah, I know I've barely posted anything this year, and I am trying to change that, but let's at least start with some new cards I nabbed today at Target. Because 2015 Topps is still fresh in the minds of the blogosphere, and me, I decided to get 2 hanger boxes of the stuff.

Box #1-
135- Matt Dominguez. One of the many misfits that make up the starting nine in Houston.
170- Tommy Medica. Will likely see less playing time thanks to the Carnival of Contracts debuting in San Diego.
26- Bryce Brentz
199- Eric Young Jr. Looks like Junior will be similar to his father, in that they're both journeyman outfielders with a nice amount of speed.
175- Adrian Beltre, whose job will be to carry the entire Rangers team, like usual, this year.
104- Bud Norris, who finally had some nice games in Baltimore last year.
330- Brian Duensing. Y'know, normally this would be the last card in the set. Topps decided they wanted to throw 20 extra BS cards in this year.
28- Alex Cobb.
73- Freddie Freeman, who, as promised, is easing into the Chipper Jones Obligatory Leader position.
188- MadBum PS Highlight
256- Adam Eaton
247- Aaron Hill. Which Aaron Hill will show up this year? The one from 2009 and 2012, or any of the other ones?
127- League Leaders
81- Chris Young, coming off a pretty nice season.
18- Cody Allen
35- Brandon Moss, now on the Indians.
232- Andrew Susac, backup catcher in San Francisco.
94- Tommy Kahnle
141- Cory Spangenberg RC (Shiny Version)
Archetype of Jackie Robinson. Have this one.
Highlight of the Year of Mike Schmidt. I will never not be excited to pull a Mike Schmidt card.
Jackie Robinson story insert of his years of military service.
ROBBED insert of Michael Morse, who is now in Miami, after finally getting a World Series ring.
First Pitch insert of 50 CENT. Would have loved someone I actually care about, but Fiddy is a decent one.
Free Agent 40 insert of REGGIE JACKSON...ON THE YANKEES! Very nice.
72- Jordan Lyles
233- CHOOCH!
55- Trevor May RC
216- Greg Holland. The guy's 29 and has 113 saves. If he has seasons like his last two, we could be looking at another Trevor Hoffman.
99- Yonder Alonso
174- Jesus Guzman
345- Brandon Cumpton
103- Guilder Rodriguez. Never thought I'd ever encounter a card of someone named after the rival village from the Princess Bride.
137- Alcides Escobar, one of the best infielders in the game right now.
3- Rene Rivera
312- Kyle Lobstein
102- Gordon Beckham. Beckham is back with the White Sox, but it was nice of Topps to give us a card of him on the Angels.
17- Brian McCann, who I'm actually really thankful to have on my team.
109- Doug Fister, one of the strongest pitchers in the game to not be the first starter.
125- Troy Tulowitzki. As much as the gossipers want him in pinstripes, I'm not certain that he'd be too great here. I could be disastrously wrong, though.
212- Cliff Lee. I'm hoping for another great season from this guy. He's great to watch.
192- Joc Pederson RC
347- Dexter Fowler
229- Bryan Morris
139- Gary Brown RC
323- Eric Hosmer. I have all of these.
76- Ian Kennedy
144- Rusney Castillo RC
93- Andre Ethier. Finally one I don't have.
24- Mets tc
210- Salvador Perez checklist.
313- leader
221- Jason Kipnis
234- Brandon Belt. Back into the cards I need.
30- Tanner Roark, who's now the 5th starter, proving how ridiculously packed the Nationals rotation is.
203- Paul Goldschmidt, who has made a lot of progress in a few years.
105- Jeff Baker
208- Wilin Rosario, who has become one of the best hitting catchers in the NL.
187- Marlon Byrd. Well, it only took ten years and seven changes of teams, but Marlon Byrd finally put up some good numbers for the Phillies...only for them to trade him to Cincinnati.
191- Yimi Garcia
244- Bartolo Colon. OH MY GOODNESS GO AWAY ALREADY!
226- Dioner Navarro. Hey, remember when people cared about this guy?
264- Tony Cingrani, who the Reds need this year.
46- Wilson Ramos, who was traded for Matt Capps. Nice acquisition for the Nats.
68- Lonnie Chisenhall, who FINALLY had a nice season last year.
118- Domonic Brown. Where was the stuff he had in 2013?
108- Jorge Soler rookie. Very, very nice.
54- Joe Nathan, one of the best closers in the game right now.
193- Buck Farmer
Yasiel Puig 1st Home Run
Jose Abreu 1st Home Run

Box #2-
77- Edwin Escobar
246- Chris Carter. According to his back bio, he's seen the movie Gone in 60 Seconds at least 20 times. That's a lot of Cage.
287- Everth Cabrera, who was just cut last week.
241- Dilson Herrera
182- Devin Mesoraco, who had a hell of a year last year.
183- Craig Gentry
65- Alexei Ramirez, still a great presence in the White Sox lineup.
225- JACOBY ELLSBURY
44- Gio Gonzalez, who is the unofficial sixth member of the Nationals rotation.
5- Josh Donaldson, now on the Blue Jays
120- Yoenis Cespedes, now (thankfully) on the Tigers.
25- Jose Bautista. I don't think he took steroids anymore. I like him slightly more now. Still plays in my division, but he's okay to me.
9- Hunter Pence WS Game 4. MORE PENCE CARDS! YES!
219- Kennys Vargas
168- Rockies
140- Alex Avila
303- Ike Davis, now on the A's
97- Dalton Pompey, who is being touted for a huge rookie season.
243- Al Albuquerque.
298- Rymer Liriano RC
59- Jake Odorizzi GOLD #D TO 2015
Giancarlo Stanton Archetypes insert
Highlight of the Year of Enos Slaughter. Not every day you see him on a current card.
Jackie Robinson story I already have
A card of Sandra Day O'Connor.
Inspired Play of Cabrera and Kaline
237- Lucas Duda. One of the best hitters on the Mets.
84- Jonathan Schoop
128- Anthony Swarzak
329- Logan Forsythe
101- Scooter Gennett, the guy who booted Rickie Weeks out of Milwaukee
268- Aroldis Chapman. Best closer in baseball? Best closer in baseball.
168- John Jaso
194- David Murphy, whose Topps card is way too boring this year.
143- Jonathan Papelbon, who Ken Giles is chasing after this year in Philly.
238- Hyun-Jin Ryu, the strong third-starter in LA
34- Charlie Blackmon
141- A regular version of the Cory Spangenberg rookie card
282- Alex Presley
296- Charlie Morton
134- Brett Lawrie, now on the Athletics
344- Manny Parra
279- Coco Crisp
1- DEREK...JETER!!!!
122- Corey Kluber, the AL Cy Young winner
51- Ryan Howard, who has definitely slowed down
315- Javier Baez RC
40- Joakim Soria. Very happy about this guy's comeback.
79- Starling Marte
317- Clayton Kershaw cl
43- Starlin Castro
314- Jackie Bradley Jr
341- Leaders
88- MadBum WS Game 7
dupes
270- Steven Moya
155- Jesse Chavez
228- Jake Peavy. Sometimes I forget how long he's been pitching for.
75- Dustin Pedroia
293- Zach Duke
11- Jon Jay
130- Mike Napoli, who needs to go away.
27- Kendrys Morales, now in Kansas City
198- Alexi Ogando
47- Anthony Rizzo
dupes
Victor Martinez 1st Home Run
Adam Jones 1st Home Run

Those were pretty nice. I got a nice selection out of those.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Uncustomed Heroes of 2014: Twins

Yup. Still never finished posting these damn things. Three more left. Might as well burn 'em off like they're episodes of Celebrity Apprentice.

Phil Hughes had a pretty nice season, considering he hasn't pitched this well since the early part of the decade. He'll probably be relied upon to make a significant effort next year, because Ervin Santana and Ricky Nolasco probably won't be the top starter.

Speaking of people named Santana, this one had a pretty nice rookie season, having nice play in both the outfield and shortstop, and making sure my fantasy team still had a utility guy.

Another Twins rookie, this guy had significant playing time in the Outfield, and looks to be a surefire starter for next season.

Kennys Vargas was a midseason call up that worked into being the regular DH by the end of the season, and having a number of nice clutch home runs. The David Ortiz comparisons are out in full force, and hopefully Vargas will outlive them.

Nothing happier than the sight of a longtime middle-reliever finally getting his chance to close out an All Star game, in his hometown city no less. Glen Perkins had one of the better baseball stories this year. Here's hoping it continues.

Coming Tomorrow (?)- A bunch of White Sox stars.

The Padres: Are They For Real?


We've seen this before. A team that has spent a few seasons at the wrong end of the standings spends their entire offseason gobbling up huge players and contracts in an effort to finally contend. The 2012 Marlins got Mark Buehrle, Carlos Zambrano, Jose Reyes and Heath Bell, and in return, they ended up in last place. The 2013 Blue Jays got Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and Melky Cabrera, and that resulted in two straight third place finishes.

I've written about this topic a few times before- a team that thinks stockpiling their roster with big stars and contracts is the way to get to first place will usually get them to last place. And yet here comes another one. And the funny thing is that this one actually looks promising.

The reason the other two teams did not benefit from absorbing all of this talent is because the foundation they had before the deals was minimal. The Marlins had one or two great players, like Josh Johnson and Giancarlo Stanton, and also Hanley Ramirez (though he'd be gone by the end of the end of the season). The Blue Jays had Encarnacion, Bautista, and whatever was left of Ricky Romero. They didn't have a lot to add to the new additions, so much so that the transition didn't work.

The Padres already have a nice, albeit underdeveloped, foundation of a team already. Their infield, off Amarista, Gyorko, Alonso and what was going to be Cory Spangenberg, was solid, youthful, and nice. They had three strong outfielders, one of which (Seth Smith) has already been traded away). They have two really nice pitchers in Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner, and a potentially good one in Odrisamer Despaigne.

It helps that they already have a relatively decent team that the new additions can add to. Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Justin Upton will be a well-formed outfield. The only thing is that Kemp and Myers are questionable, which means hanging onto Cameron Maybin and Will Venable are good ideas. And James Shields will only bolster the already-good rotation.

The only thing working against the roster is unreliability. Middlebrooks, Kemp and Myers are all coming off of down seasons, and Kemp especially is a large risk. Plus, like the Blue Jays and Marlins, there is the possibility that all of this potential might not amount to anything.

Again, we'll find out how much of a reality this can be once the season starts, but the addition of James Shields does bring a lot more legitimacy to this team.

Friday, February 6, 2015

2015 Topps Series 1: The First Taste

One of the great things about going to college, specifically my college, is that civilization isn't too far away. I can hop on a bus and wind up in White Plains, where there's a movie theater, a Chiptole, and, best of all, a Target. Which means once I found out that 2015 Topps was out, and once I configured my schedule so that i had an off day to spend in White Plains, I made it a point to go in and get some Topps.

I was, thankfully, victorious, and got two fat rack packs and one blaster, which I'll post a little later. For now, I'll give my two rack packs, my first actual taste of the product.

Pack One:
and my first Topps card of 2015 is.....
333- BILLY HAMILTON! As first cards go, this is a pretty damn nice one. This guy, if he has seasons like he did in 2014 (and 2012 in the minors), will be excellent.
Also, I freaking love the design this year, because it barely even looks like a Topps card. It's that cool looking, and I doubt I'll tire of it anytime soon. The backs are just as good as the fronts, rectifying all the problems people had with the 2014 backs.
302- Martin Prado. Gee, Topps. Thanks for reminding me that we traded this guy to Miami. Real nice.
178- Speaking of Miami, here's Christian Yelich. He's turned into a nice everyday outfielder for the Marlins, which is nice.
52- Fernando Rodney, in his Archer's Pose. The photos in this set are score-esque in their crisp-ness.
37- Arismendy Alcantara. For all Topps has gotten wrong with the Future Stars subset, Alcantara is technically a Future Star, as he spent half of last season with the Cubs, and is still not a household name.
169- Adam Jones, who, thanks to the departure of Nick Markakis, has become the anchor of the Baltimore offense. Which awesome, because everybody loves Adam Jones.
197- Glen Perkins. Six seasons as a set-up man. Three as one of the best closers in the AL. I'm happy this guy's got such a nice following in Minneapolis.
289- Matt Joyce, who is...playing somewhere else this year. I forget where, it's just not Tampa.
255- James Russell, the first guy in the pack who I have absolutely no idea about.
227- A really freaking awesome shot of Madison Bumgarner, in Game 5 of the World Series.
277- Reds team card. Not too happy with the resurrection of Managers and Team cards in favor of, you know, more players that don't usually get Topps cards.
325- Felix Hernandez, the best pitcher in the American League, hands down.
60- Michael Wacha, who is still making his way up in the Cardinals rotation.
271- Pirates team card.
154- Brandon Finnegan RC
326- CJ Wilson, who has become the modest 2nd starter in LA
351- Tom Koehler
234- Brandon Belt, hopefully more intent to stay healthy in 2015.
Highlight of the Year insert of Mark McGwire in 1998. While that was indeed the highlight of the year, I really wish it was somebody I collected.
First Home Run insert of Freddie Freeman, which is nice.
A '76 insert of Reggie Jackson...AS AN ORIOLE!!! Don't see that one every day. That's awesome.
Dummy sweepstakes card. I think everyone's over these.
Free Agent 40 insert of Greg Maddux. I like this insert idea, and I love Maddux.
216- Greg Holland, who is shaping up to be one of the best closers in the league.
99- Yonder Alonso, a member of the Suddenly Amazing San Diego Padres
335- Matt Barnes RC
231- Andrew Cashner, who has made himself a nice career in San Diego
56- Matt Garza. 2015 will be Garza's tenth season in the bigs. Since 2006, he's played for five teams. I always thought he was younger than that.
311- Jhonny Peralta, who's basically just turned into Fernando Vina.
334- Gerardo Parra.
257- Jarrod Saltalamacchia. I'm surprised by how he's made it in the majors. I thought he'd be a one-season wonder.
147- Andrew Heaney, pictured as a Marlin, which is three teams ago for him.
295- Erick Aybar.
267- Zack Greinke, who's become one of the best pitchers in  baseball, and part of one of the best rotations in baseball.
67- HUNTER PENCE, one of my favorite players. And he looks so goofy on this card.
121- Garrett Jones, half of our end of the Martin Prado deal. He's a nice home run hitter, but we didn't especially need another DH.

Pack 2-
82- Nick Tepesch.
201- Tommy La Stella
200- MIGUEL CABRERA! I swear, we're looking at a Future Hall of Famer right here. He just needs some more amazing seasons.
328- AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDDDRRRIIIIAANNNNNNN GONZALEZ!
36- Julio Teheran, who's probably the best pitcher in Atlanta.
151- CJ Cron
116- Vidal Nuno, former Yankee.
340- Carlos Gomez, who's revitalizing the Brewers.
286- Trevor Rosenthal, a nice closer.
219- Kennys Vargas. We're looking at a nice DH prospect for the Twins.
168- Rockies team card.
332- Kyle Seager, who's made his mark in Seattle.
19- Orioles team card.
258- Royals team card. Depicted, likely, is the possible murder and cannibalization of Norichika Aoki.
196- Cubs team card.
117- Sean Doolittle, who's shaping up to be the next Brian Wilson.
261- Lance Lynn, one of the few Cardinals pitchers that stuck around.
186- Rex Brothers
171- Mike Foltynewicz RC
119- Anibal Sanchez, who, with the departures of Scherzer and Porcello, is now the FOURTH starter in Detroit, rather than the fifth.
54- Joe Nathan. This is one of those newfangled Rainbow Parallels. Not numbered, either, which sucks.
Archetypes insert of Mark McGwire. McGwire's Archetype, according to the card, is POWER. I wish it wasn't artificial power.
1st Home Run insert of Joe Mauer. These are fun.
Inspired Play insert of Stan Musial and Mark McGwire. One of these people is dead, the other is just dead to Bud Selig. (Sidenote- how many McGwire inserts are in this damn set??)
176- Jose Abreu. On the back, somebody screwed up the stats, making it look like he hit 93 home runs over 79 at bats in 2011.
348- Carlos Santana.
155- Jesse Chavez
249- Jose Reyes, who is still a great player, albeit not to his Mets standards.
157- Ubaldo Jimenez, who still cannot replicate his one good season.
41- Chris Colabello
324- Chris Archer, who has some serious shoes to fill in Tampa.
202- Mike Minor.
185- Ricky Nolasco
230- Jean Segura
161- Howie Kendrick, now on the Dodgers.
213- And we end on Jered Weaver.

I already love this set, and can't wait to open more.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Mr. Cub


This one hit me pretty hard. One of the greatest baseball players of all time, and the greatest Chicago Cub of all time. He'll definitely be missed, especially on the North Side of Chicago.