Saturday, May 27, 2017

Frankenset Redux, Page 1: Numbers 1-9 (new format!)


Judging by the general silence I received upon reviving the frankenset polls last week, I think the idea of voting on each individual page has run its course.

No harm, no foul there, but since I do still want to do weekly frankenset posts, I've been throwing around various ideas to keep the series going. What I've ultimately decided on is a bundle of nine categories (to keep the theme of "nines" alive) designed to get both myself and my readers more anointed with my frankenset pages. I'll be starting over from the beginning of the second frankenset in accordance with this new format.

The categories may change over time, but today you'll see the nine I've chosen for now. You may notice that I'll be keeping running counts of a few things as I post each week's page, an accumulation of stats I'm interested in gathering for my own curiosity.

Comments on these pages are, of course, more than welcome (as are suggestions for possible categories moving forward), and I hope my readers enjoy the new format!

Page #1 (Numbers 1-9):

Completion Status: 9/9

Numbers Needed: None



The Players

1991 Line Drive #1 Billy Bean

Card #1 is a minor-league issue of Billy Bean, the only openly gay man to have played in the big leagues and MLB's current Ambassador of Inclusion.



2015 Bowman Chrome #2 Michael Brantley 

A throwback to the days of the Negro Leagues' Cleveland Buckeyes.



1998 Team Best #3 Hiram Bocachica 

A rare minor league throwback.



2016 Stadium Club #4 Kevin Kiermaier

He's a Gold Glover for a reason, people.



1993 Stadium Club #5 Tony Phillips

The late Tony Phillips doing double duty for my turning two and throwback mini-collections.



1994 Topps #6 Derrick May

A masterpiece by the bat rack.



1992 Upper Deck #7 Roberto Hernandez

An interview for Channel 19.



2017 Topps #8 Jose Berrios

The newest addition to this page, and a fantastic shot under the lights.



2000 Ultra #9 Mickey Morandini

Double dipping at Wrigley.



Stats


Cards by Decade:

1990's -- 5 (Running total: 5)
2000's -- 1 (Running total: 1)
2010's -- 3 (Running total: 3)

Mini-Collection Hits: 

Throwbacks -- 3 (Running total: 3)
Double Dips -- 2 (Running total: 2)
At the Wall -- 1 (Running total: 1)
Interviews -- 1 (Running total: 1)




Cameos of Note


That's former Rockies slugger Dante Bichette sliding into second on this Wrigley double dip...



This Magic Moment


...and it's because of Bichette that I can trace this card with relative confidence to the top of the 3rd inning of a Rockies-Cubs matchup at Wrigley on May 5, 1999, when the Cubs turned two on a grounder off the bat of Vinny Castilla with Bichette on first base.

The double dip ended the inning, but the Cubs would still get trounced that afternoon by the Blake Street Bombers, 13-6.



Funniest Card


Because Hiram Bocachica is still one of the best baseball names ever.



Lessons in Card Backs


This week I learned that Roberto Hernandez -- who would go on to play in 17 big-league seasons -- nearly lost his right arm to a blood clot before his career ever got started.



Best of the Rest

1976 Topps #6 Rennie Stennett

Here, I'll be featuring the best card that wasn't able to crack the week's frankenset page.

It was tough to leave Rennie Stennett's unthinkable seven-hit performance out of the frankenset (even if it did come at the expense of a 22-0 demolition of the Cubs), but I just love that Derrick May bat rack card too darn much.



Toughest Draw


1960 Topps #5 Wally Moon 

I keep both of my frankensets in the same binder, so it's only natural that I would try to draw comparisons between the two.

Here's where I sigh at the misfortune of great cards in the second frankenset who I had to leave out of the inaugural edition due to stiff -- and often insurmountable -- competition.

Tony Phillips may feature two mini-collection hits rolled into one, but ain't no way he's taking down Wally Moon's Mighty Unibrow (dibs on the band name).



Second Guessing


2016 Topps Update #US-8 Pedro Alvarez

Here's something you should know about me: I, admittedly, have a tendency to waffle, and this is where I come to do that with my collection by choosing a card from the second frankenset who was perhaps wrongly omitted from the first.

Pedro Alvarez currently inhabits the #8 slot in my Inaugural Frankenset, and while I'm a fan of the claustrophobic celebration shot, part of me wonders if Jose Berrios got the short end of the stick here.



Favorite Card


This is one of those pages where my favorite card of the bunch seems to change every time I look at it, but as of this writing, I give the nod to Kevin Kiermaier's highlight-reel robbery from last year's Stadium Club.

That just about does it for Page #1 of the Second Dime Box Frankenset. I hope you enjoyed the new format, and as I said before, all comments/suggestions are more than welcome.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Short Term Stops: The All-Reds Team


I think I would've liked the Reds a lot more had I grown up in the '70s.

I'm a huge fan of the Big Red Machine, despite the fact that I was born almost twenty years after they were at their peak. Rose, Bench, Morgan, Perez, & Co. has to be one of the best rosters ever assembled, and I imagine they were quite a treat to watch play ball.

These days, the Reds are another one of those teams who I don't much care about one way or the other. They've rarely been relevant during my baseball lifetime, and I don't think I've ever watched a full game the Reds have played against a team other than the Cubs.

With a franchise history dating back to the late 1860s, however, the Reds have quite a stable of Short Term Stops to choose from, so let's get started.



Pitchers

2009 Topps Update "Legends of the Game Updates" #LGU-3 Christy Mathewson 

"Short Term Stops" Reds Accolades:

Christy Mathewson (1916 Reds, 1 game, half-year stint, sunset season)

This roster begins with arguably the best pitcher in baseball history and a rare one-game wonder.

Christy Mathewson was, for a short time, property of the Reds before being traded to the Giants in 1900, never suiting up for Cincinnati. You probably know the rest: in 17 seasons with the Giants, Matty won 372 games with a 2.13 ERA, earning him a place among Cooperstown's first inductees in 1936.

What sometimes gets lost to history is the one game Mathewson pitched for the Reds, the last time he'd take the mound in his career. Acquired by the Reds for the purpose of managing the club, he came out of retirement for one last game, a specially constructed matchup on September 4th, 1916 in which he faced the Cubs' "Three Finger" Brown (also the final game of Brown's career).

Mathewson won the "duel" by a final score of 10-8, giving him the 373rd and final win of his career and cementing his spot on this roster.



1989 Topps Traded #116T Kent Tekulve

Kent Tekulve (1989 Reds, 37 games, sunset season)

I had no idea Teke was ever a Cincinnati Red before I acquired this card.

Though he'll forever look wrong in the jersey, Kent Tekulve was indeed a Red for 37 games in 1989, the final season of his career. It wasn't much of a finish, as Tekulve posted a 5.02 ERA in 52 innings that year.  

And thus the game of baseball entered its sad post-Teke era.



2012 Topps #89 Dontrelle Willis

Dontrelle Willis (2011 Reds, 13 games, sunset season)

I was a big fan of Dontrelle Willis back during his heyday with the Marlins.

Within his first three big-league seasons, Willis had an NL Rookie of the Year Award and two All-Star games under his belt to go along with that famous herky-jerky windup of his. Unfortunately, he was never quite able to recapture the magic of his early seasons and toiled in obscurity before joining the Reds for what would be his final season in 2011.

Like Teke and Matty before him, Willis's final season in Cincinnati wasn't much to write home about, as he went just 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 13 starts.

At least in my mind, however, the legend of Dontrelle Willis will live forever.



Catcher

1996 Score #126 Benito Santiago

Benito Santiago (1995, 2000 Reds, 170 games)

I don't have a better nominee for the catcher position than Benito Santiago -- who joined the Reds for a pair of single-season stints in 1995 and 2000 -- so here's a card of him petting Schottzie. 



First Base

1999 Black Diamond #23 Paul Konerko

Paul Konerko (1998 Reds, 26 games, half-year stint)

Some fans might remember when Paul Konerko was a highly-touted prospect with the Dodgers, but I'm sure most remember his legendary years on the South Side of Chicago.

Almost no one, however, remembers the brief time in which Konerko was a Cincinnati Red. Traded to the Reds in midseason in '98, Konerko finished up the year in Cincinnati hitting just .219 with three homers in 26 games. He'd be dealt to the White Sox that offseason for Mike Cameron.

Sixteen seasons, 432 homers, and one statue later, Paulie remains one of the more beloved sports figures in Chicago history.



Second Base

1989 Bowman #308 Manny Trillo

Manny Trillo (1989 Reds, 17 games, sunset season)

Manny Trillo was a solid middle infielder throughout the '70s and '80s before winding up in Cincinnati for his sunset season in 1989.

He'd be released by the Reds after hitting just .205 in 17 games with the club, though it was enough time, apparently, for Bowman to get him into their 1989 checklist and produce the only card I own of Trillo as a Red.

And that's about the only positive thing I can say about '89 Bowman.



Shortstop

1994 Conlon Collection #1164 Joe Tinker

Joe Tinker (1913 Reds, 110 games)

Let's take a ride in the way-back machine and revisit Joe Tinker's brief stint in Cincinnati. 

Part of the famous Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance double play combo as a Cub, Tinker served as player-manager during his lone season as a Red. Though he hit .310 in 110 games, the club finished with a woeful 64-89 record. Tinker would jump to the doomed Federal League for the next two seasons before finishing his career back with the Cubs in 1916.

Pre-War Short Term Stops can be a hassle to find, so much thanks to Charles Conlon for documenting Joe Tinker's quick stop as a Cincinnati Red.



Third Base

1998 Topps #240 Pete Rose Jr.

Pete Rose Jr. (1997 Reds, 11 games, sunset season)

Here's one of my favorite Topps cards of the '90s.

After having toiled in the minors since 1989, Pete Rose Jr. finally got his shot in the bigs as a late-season call-up with the Reds -- his father's old team -- in 1997. He went 2-for-14 in 16 plate appearances in Cincinnati before going back down to the minors at season's end, never to resurface in the Show.

Though this actually isn't his first appearance on a baseball card, it's the first (and only) major-league issue Rose Jr. would enjoy outside the spotlight of his father.



Outfield

1961 Fleer #77 Al Simmons

Al Simmons (1939 Reds, 9 games, half-year stint)

It's a miracle any card exists of Al Simmons as a Red in the first place, seeing as how his stint in Cincinnati lasted all of 21 at-bats (with three hits) in nine games in Cincinnati.

Though I enjoy them quite a bit anyways, Fleer's early all-legends sets often get extra points for featuring old-time guys in unfamiliar uniforms, something certainly taken to the extreme with HOFer Al Simmons here. 



2007 Upper Deck #630 Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton (2007 Reds, 90 games)

Josh Hamilton's story has been well-documented: a former can't-miss #1 pick who struggled with drug and alcohol addiction before eventually putting it all together and becoming a star more than a decade after he was drafted.

Hamilton became one of the faces of baseball for a few years with the Rangers, but he actually broke in with the Reds in 2007, eight years after being taken #1 overall by the Devil Rays in 1999. (Side note: Hamilton was dealt to the Reds by the Cubs after Chicago had taken him as a Rule 5 pick prior to the '07 season, yet another screw-up in hindsight by the Cubs' front office.)

After turning some heads with a .292-19-47 line in 90 games with the Reds, Hamilton was traded to the Rangers, and while he looks to be on the outs as a big leaguer here in 2017, I think most of us will look back on Hamilton's late-blooming stardom with joy.



2010 Topps Update #US-178 Jim Edmonds

Jim Edmonds (2010 Reds, 13 games, half-year stint, sunset season)

This roster ends with Jim Edmonds, yet another one-time star who dissolved into retirement after an unmemorable stint with the Reds.

After having spent the first 73 games of the 2010 season as a Brewer (a stint of which no cards exist), Edmonds was sent to Cincinnati in a late-season swap to provide some veteran leadership for a playoff-bound Reds club.

Edmonds would spend the final 13 games of his career as a Red, hitting the last three of his 393 lifetime homers in the process, one of which is (presumably) captured on this card from 2010 Topps Update.

Not a bad way to go out: a home run trot into the sunset.

That just about does it for this edition of Short Term Stops.

Thanks for tuning in.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Player vs. collector


Last night, I got to reminiscing a bit about my Little League days with my mom.

Funny thing is, I found that I don't have a ton of vivid, concrete memories of playing ball. You can probably count them on one hand. Notably: I remember the time I swung and missed in tee-ball, the time I threw out two runners in one game from center field, the time I turned an unassisted triple play (the last of which is my crowning Little League achievement). The remainder of my memories are plentiful, but mostly short, fuzzy images and abstractions.

Memories or not, the fact of the matter is that I was never a star player. I was never more than a .250 hitter (a rough estimate since we didn't keep stats), I never hit for power (I retired with zero career home runs), and I was never the coach's son, which explains why I pitched exactly one inning in five years of Little League.

Though I played a fair amount of second base, Ryno I was not.




I suppose my average athletic ability is part of the reason I was drawn to collecting at an early age.

The fact that I much prefer watching competitive sports as opposed to playing them led to my decision to quit Little League after 5th grade and stick to accumulating pieces of cardboard. I never played a single inning more after that (though I did play slow-pitch softball for my school in 8th grade) and admittedly never attended any of my high school's baseball games.

Collecting is quiet, relaxing, and often done in the comfort of my own room, which is much more my speed.

All these years later, I think I made the right choice.




Here today, I'm still accumulating more than ever, only now I have this thing called the Internet to connect me with fellow card-collecting pals who sometimes send me stuff.

Among those comrades is the famous reader Mark Hoyle, who sent me a PWE a while back that was long overdue for display on the blog. Along with the Ryno and White Sox oddballs above, Mark also included a '93 Cubs pocket schedule (isn't that the year Henry Rowengartner pitched for them?) and a Babe Ruth which, upon flipping it over, was actually revealed to be a business card for a Boston-area memorabilia shop.

Then came the ever-present question: is that a baseball card?

Answer: Yes!




Next up are the spoils from a few different PWEs I received from P-Town Tom of the excellent "Waiting 'til Next Year" "Eamus Catuli!" blog.

One of those envelopes included a card that caught Tom's attention, and one that I may well have passed up without a second thought without his eagle eye. In his note, Tom asked a fair question: just what is that on Pat Burrell's helmet, anyways?

His guess that the item in question is some sort of primitive helmet-camera device is probably the right one, but it's still strange to see on a baseball card.




Here's a couple additions to my JT Snow and Mike Piazza collections that I specifically requested from Tom, though I mainly wanted the Piazza for the autograph mini-collection hit.




I always, always love tracking down these small oddball sets, and I was ecstatic when Tom sent the complete Front Row checklist of Mr. Cub my way.

Oh, and contrary to what I originally thought, those first two aren't doubles: one's a promo, and one's the regular issue...and that, my friends, is why you check the backs of your baseball cards.




Tom capped off the Cubs extravaganza with a gaggle of Dover reprints, also some of my all-time favorite oddballs given the appearances of oft-forgotten names like Dutch Leonard and Heinie Zimmerman.




Here we have the start of a small but sweet PWE I received from Jon of "A Penny Sleeve for Your Thoughts" fame, a blog which I'm happy to see is up and running again.

While it's a nice one, I do already have a copy of Bob Gibson's '73 Topps card, and I was nearly ready to throw it in my doubles pile when I decided to (again) check the back.




The French text and tinted color can only mean one thing: O-PEE-CHEE!

I don't often cross paths with early '70s OPC, and it's even more rare to find big stars like Gibson here, which made this a definite score for my Cardinals binder.




Also included were a couple new game-used issues of the Hoytster, one of the few guys whose jersey (or pants) cards still manage to excite me.

Now that I think about it, I don't remember anyone toying around with or ever wanting to throw a knuckleball in Little League, and that seems just plain wrong: everyone should want to throw a knuckleball!




Lastly, we have a couple envelopes I received from my buddy Shane of the terrific "Shoebox Legends" blog, starting with this purple refractor of Salvador Perez that pairs up perfectly with the colors of the Kansas City Royals.




Shane's a big Red Sox fan, and I appreciate him sending a couple of his dups my way with these shiny Pedroia and Betts gems.




While I love today's refractors, I think parallels may have reached their peak with the Dufex technology of the mid '90s.




If these PWEs are any indication, Shane is all about shiny, as exemplified by Rizzo and Ichiro here, the latter of which was a cereal box promotion back in the day, if I remember right.

I was never a big cereal eater at any stage of my life, but I'm pretty sure I ponied up for a box of Lucky Charms (or whatever product those cards were issued with) at the time.




Let's close things out with this outstanding Goudey short-print of Johnny Bench, which reminds me of another of my fleeting Little League memories.

Most teams I was on had one kid who really wanted to catch, and fifteen others who didn't. I was one of those fifteen, but during one of my first years of Little League, my coach decided that every kid should get a chance to try each position. I understand his logic, but the fact was that I really didn't want to catch, and I couldn't wait for my one inning behind the plate to end. It'd be the only time I'd don the tools of ignorance in my Little League career, thank God.

My five years of Little League were happy times for me, but I've found that I have a lot more specific memories attached to my lifetime of collecting. Even more so now that I have this little thing called a blog where I can document it all.

Inside every kid who ever dreamed of stardom are fond recollections of Little League, and whether you know it or not, inside every baseball card is a precious memory.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Frankenset redux, Page 3: Numbers 19-27


I don't blame you if you don't remember it, but here are the results of the last frankenset page I showed over five long months ago.

Win -- 2016 Stadium Club #17 Raul Mondesi (8 votes)

Place (tie) -- 2000 Topps Gallery #12 Ray Lankford, 1991 Topps #13 Mariano Duncan (6 votes each)

Show -- 1994 Topps #15 Jay Bell (5 votes)

That's right: after a lengthy delay, I've decided to bring back my weekly frankenset posts. With baseball season in full swing, and with enough time having elapsed since the big bracket I held for the Inaugural Dime Box Frankenset, I think the time's right to resume voting on the Frankenset Redux binder.

With Mondesi's victory, that's two pages down and 72 to go.




For those of you who weren't around and/or don't remember how my frankenset posts worked, here's a refresher.

Since completing my first one, I've recently compiled a second Dime Box Frankenset, filled with fun cards from numbers 1-666 with cards featuring players who aren't "binder guys" for me (that is, those who aren't included in my individual team binders). Fun cards are fun for many reasons: they can include mini-collection hits, expert action shots, or just plain quirkiness.

Each week, I'll display a new page from the frankenset. All I ask of you, the reader, is to simply go over the nine cards provided and vote for your favorite on the poll on the sidebar of this blog. I'll announce the prior week's winner each Saturday before introducing the new frankenset page. Each winner will get immortalized in the "Gallery of Frankenset Champions" tab and will be subsequently included in the Frankenset Bracket I'll hold once all 74 pages have been shown (which is, admittedly, a long, long time from now).

Now, without further ado, it gives me great pleasure to open the polls once again with Page #3 of the Dime Box Frankenset, Redux.



1992 Stadium Club #19 Tom Foley

The bluest baseball card that ever was. 



1982 TCMA Edmonton Trappers #20 Rusty Kuntz

When Rusty Kuntz was a Trapper (I couldn't say that with a straight face, either). 



1986 TCMA AC Yankees #21 Eric Schmidt

Eric Schmidt giving some lessons to the local youth on our second consecutive TCMA oddball.



1992 Studio #22 Rob Dibble

Seriously, bro? 



1994 Stadium Club #23 Matt Nokes

High-fives all around (and a batboy cameo!). 



1995 Stadium Club #24 Julian Tavarez

This is why Stadium Club rules. 



2016 Stadium Club #25 Chris Archer

Sup? 



1992 Studio #26 Jose Rijo

Jose Rijo displaying his ticket to the gun show.



1996 Upper Deck #27 Gary DiSarcina

We close with a classic double dip.

There you have it: the frankenset is back! The polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!