Sunday, May 26, 2013
Into the Sunset, Pt. 18: Vladimir Guerrero
This region's "Gems of Junk Wax" bracket voting ends tonight at 11:59 PM.
We still have a couple close races on our hands, so be sure to get your votes in before the deadline!
Back to the action.
Sometimes, I manage to surprise myself.
I've long known that Vladimir Guerrero is the focus behind my single most expansive player collection. Yet, upon going through and actually counting my cards of his, I was floored.
I own a grand total of 669 different Vlad issues. I knew I had a lot, but I had no idea it was that many.
Unless I suddenly come across 200 new Ichiro cards, Mr. Guerrero will long be my largest player collection. That's a fact.
However, one thing about Vlad's career is far from fact. It's a question I've thrown around in my head on a few occasions.
Is he a Hall of Famer?
Guerrero was a nine-time All-Star during his illustrious 16-year career. He won the 2004 AL MVP award with the Angels. He was easily one of the faces of my generation of ballplayers.
And, if you look at his "Baseball Reference" page, he certainly has some good company with his similarity scores. His top five in that department are Jeff Bagwell, Larry Walker, Jim Rice, Willie Stargell, and Billy Williams.
I personally think he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Given my longtime fandom of his, though, I'm understandably a bit biased.
If he were to get in, I'm sure he'd have a tough choice deciding which cap to wear on his HOF plaque. A case could be made for either the Expos or Angels. And, while he only spent one season in Texas, Vlad was an All-Star in his lone Ranger campaign.
As time goes on, however, I think we'll look back on his career and say, "When did he play for the Orioles?"
That's where we pick up this "sunset" review.
In actuality, Vlad's "sunset" season in Baltimore wasn't all that bad.
In 145 games, he sported a .290/13/63 stat line for the O's in 2011. However, his .317 OBP was a far cry from his .379 career mark. As was his .416 slugging percentage. (Vlad slugged .553 for his career.)
Still, as time goes on, I doubt many fans will remember Vlad's tenure in Baltimore. Luckily, the 12 cards (and counting) I have of his in my O's binder will forever serve as a reminder.
Bowman's final tribute to Mr. Guerrero wasn't anything spectacular. Not great, but not awful. It's hard for me to discuss anything Bowman-related at length around here. I haven't done it much on this blog thus far.
And I don't intend to start now.
It's the same with Gypsy Queen.
To me, 2011 was GQ's best overall year of production. Still, given my lackluster attitude towards the product, take that with a grain of salt.
Nevertheless, this is both a perfectly acceptable action shot and a decent photoshop job on the part of Topps.
It's still not enough to make me start liking Gypsy Queen, though.
As a whole, 2011 was filled with perfectly average base sets.
You can add Topps Lineage to that fold. The set's inserts were quite neat, in my opinion. The base cards, on the other hand, didn't quite stand out in any way.
Still, I've always been a sucker for Spring Training shots. And, by my account, this one looks to be just that.
Even if it looks like it was taken at my local Little League field.
I only have two 2012 "sunset" issues of Vlad in my collection.
The first comes from the 1963-themed Topps Heritage release, one of my personal favorites from the past few years of the product.
Judging by the backdrop, I'm guessing this shot was taken in the same shoot as Vlad's aforementioned Topps Lineage piece.
Sure, it may not be the most exciting card he's ever had. But, when it comes to Heritage, photography is pretty much beside the point for me.
I just love the throwback designs.
As far as I'm concerned, Flagship produced Vlad's finest "sunset" issue.
This "Record Breaker" card, one that commemorates his title as the all-time Dominican hits leader, is exactly what I look for in a cardboard send-off.
The rather peaceful wave he's giving makes for quite the heroic "sunset" shot.
When it comes to my baseball life, that's exactly what Vladimir Guerrero has always been.
Plus, as far as my collection goes, he's most definitely a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
There's no doubt about that.