Thursday, November 26, 2020

Gobble Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving
Gobble Gobble!  Here is a base card from 2020 Topps Update Turkey Red insert.
The back features #fakenews.  Cutch began his 8 straight seasons of 20+ HR in 2011, not 2012.  Were it not for a season ending injury he likely would have hit 20HR in 2019 as he connected for 10HR in Only 59 games and duplicated that output in 2020 by hitting 10 HR in a 57 game COVID-19 shortened season.

Fun fact: Since McCutchen's debut season in 2009 only he, Edwin Encarnacion, Robinson Cano, and Nelson Cruz have hit 10+ HR each season from 2009 to 2020. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Giving Thanks

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought I would give thanks by showing a piece of artwork that easily jumps up the charts to my favorite piece of artwork I own.
It's a simple sketch of the Pirates logo, but did you see who sketched it?
The 5xAll-Star, 4xSilver Slugger, Gold Glove, MVP winning centerfielder of the Pirates is the correct answer.

Yes I own a piece of artwork by Andrew McCutchen.  

Cutch is known as being a celebrity that will draw to assist any charity events and has even visited Pittsburgh hospitals to draw with the kids who are suffering from life threatening diseases.  

This piece of artwork was auctioned off for St Francis Food Pantries annual event.  By clicking on the link you can see some of the artwork that is going to generate money for this year's Doodle For Hunger event.

Here is the complete sketch framed along with a photo of Cutch and the nameplate from the event.  
It's not everyday that a former MVP winner does artwork to generate money to help food pantries, but I am grateful and thankful that I was able to add this to the collection. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Rays History: What Could Have Been?

The Tampa Bay Rays have steadily been a competitive team since 2008 when they advanced all the way to the World Series.  The fact that they have been a top 20% performer in terms of wins over the past decade despite having a bottom 10% of payroll shows that the upper management is one of the smartest organizations in professional sports.

This is further evidenced that the Rays despite only a $28.6 million dollar payroll advanced all the way to Game 6 of the 2020 World Series.

However, not everything for the Rays comes up aces.

Take Wade Townsend for example.

He was selected by the Rays with the 8th overall pick in that loaded 2005 draft class that produced many face of the franchise players like Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Braun, Alex Gordon, and Andrew McCutchen.

But did you know that the Rays were considering taking the florida native McCutchen with that 8th overall pick?
Neither did I until I read the back of this 2012 Topps Museum card.
Imagine if Andrew McCutchen debuted in 2008 with Evan Longoria and joined a talented outfield consisting of BJ (Melvin) Upton and Carl Crawford?

Would a 2008 rookie nucleus of Longoria, Price, and McCutchen been enough to win the Rays at least one Championship? I have to think McCutchen would have fared better than Gabe Gross, Gabe Kapler, or Sam Fuld in the outfield during his "controlled years".

I am still on the hunt for the 2012 Topps Museum green parallel to 199 and the red parallel numbered 1/1 .  I have the blue, gold, and base. 

Monday, November 23, 2020


The Steelers are now a surprising 10-0 to start the season.  Amidst all this chaos that COVID-19 has caused this world, one thing this year has been consistent.  I have worn my black Troy Polamalu every Steelers game day this year.  It's a jersey I've had for about 10 years, but only wore it to in person game viewing.  With no in game attendance for much of the country, I subconsciously wore it in hopes that "things could get back to normal".  Then the Steelers won, so I wore it the next week and they won again.  Rinse and repeat 10 times and that brings us to the current state.

Is it superstitious?
Am I going to change my wardrobe this Thanksgiving when the Steelers face off against their division rivals, the Baltimore Ravens?
Absolutely not!

I have a very small collection of Troy (only about 40 cards), which is sad because he is my 2nd favorite football player ever behind only Jerome Bettis (about 300 cards).

Here are a few of my favorites.
This on card silver ink framed card is from Topps last year of Museum football. It's weird that football fans miss Topps products and baseball fans want Panini to get an MLB license.  This is by far and away my best card of Troy, the others are just base and parallels.
Above are the 9 best other cards of Troy I own.  I chose them either for their imagery, uniform, or being a parallel.  Maybe I can use the 2 pink parallels for a future Save Second Base.
This red parallel Topps Triple Threads is numbered to 50 copies and features a very neat fact on the back.
Troy batted .550 as All-State baseball player in his senior year.  What an athlete!!!

And here is an Andrew McCutchen card with name cameo of Troy Polamalu on the back.  
It is the Stars of Summer insert from 2014 Classics.
That is a cool looking insert!

Do you have any superstitions relating to watch sport events?

Sunday, November 22, 2020

I Know My Calculus

Last week I put out a challenge to see if anyone could come up with a PG13 subject and try to stump me from associating it to an Andrew McCutchen collectible in my collection.  I entered all the suggestions into list randomizer and atop was calculus.

If you watched MTV in the early 2000s you may remember a fake boy band called 2ge+her which had a "hit song" Calculus.  That song tried to simplify the term Calculus by saying "I know my Calculus cause you plus me equals us".  While that could be considered a calculation, calculus is just a bit more complex than that.

Calculus is a mathematical understanding of changing values that relate to a function.  It is because of this that sabermetric stats use a form of calculus to look at different values of baseball.

Baseball cards as we know them in their current Topps format began with 1952 Topps.  

We are all familar with the design as Topps has used it many times over the decades since it's original release.
This is the black diamond parallel insert from 2011.
The back perfectly captures the original card backs and statistics shared.  Pretty simple calculations for hitting and fielding.  

Things changed in 2015 when Topps began to insert different card backs known as sabermetric backs.
The card fronts looked identical to a normal base card, but the card backs began to spotlight different statistics not normally on card backs.
These included stats like Onbase Plus Slugging, isolated power, weighted runs created, Wins Above Replacement, and percentage of walking or striking out.
These stats have become common talk among "newer" fans of the game who look at statistics beyond just batting average and Runs Batted In.

Topps took it to another step in 2020 when they released their sabermetric parallels that were serially numbered on back to 300 copies.
These statistics use the Statcast program at MLB stadiums to track a player's approach at the plate.  It looks at how many times the player barreled up a ball (regardless of outcome), % of hard hit balls (regardless of outcome), exit velocity, among some others.  These help to capture how well the player is approaching a pitch.  A barreled up line drive to an outfielder may result in an out, but a lil dabbled swinging bunt between the pitcher and third base may result in a hit.  Obviously it's betyer to get on base, but the player who hit the scorcher had the better approach at the plate.
As you can see on the card back, Cutch is still way above league average in many of these categories.  Remember he got injured early June 2019 and missed essentially 4 months of the season due to a torn ACL.

So there you go, a changing value of using integers to calculate a player's worth.  Sounds similar to calculus to me, so I guess I passed this exam.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

So Many Factory Set Parallels

Did you know that Topps has made even more options for rainbow chasers?

Topps has added to their portfolio with more factory set parallels. 

In the past there used to be red parallels, but that parallel was given to Target with an exclusive in 2012.  Then Topps used orange factory set parallels beginning in 2012 until 2016.  In 2017 Topps introduced foilboard parallels that were serially numbered and available as a limited pack inside their factory sets.

Then 2020 happened and everything got confusing and screwed up.

There are now 6 (yes six) parallels to chase in factory sets.  

Topps introduced the Walmart Green box factory sets this year which could contain complete factory sets in a number of 4 different parallels.

The most common is the gold star (1 in 3 factory boxes will have a complete set with the gold star).  The others include (non serial numbered) print runs of 299 (blue) and 99 (orange).  There is also a 1/1 complete set, but to my knowledge that hasn't surfaced yet.  

Inside the retail factory sets are Foilboard card packs with a pack of 5 cards each serial numbered to 264 copies.

The hobby foilboards packs are similar looking and limited to 229 copies.

Below are the 4 parallels I have so far.

Only the foilboard is serially numbered on the back.  It has a print run of 229 copies.
I still need the foilboard numbered to 264 copies which is a retail exclusive.  

Have you bought any of these Walmart Green box factory sets? Did you open it to see if you had a parallel set?

Friday, November 20, 2020

The Uncle Larry Collection

I have gotten a few items relating to the famous 2020 Topps card and have shown them off over the past few months.

Here is the complete collection.
11x14 Topps cards, 5x7 gold Topps card, 2 of the SP photo variant, a BGS authenticated autograph with inscription "Sat. Night Special", 4 sketch cards, and a 16x20 photo authenticated by Hunts Auctions.
The most recent addition is the bobblehead which I preordered back in August. The post got the attention of Cutch evidently because when I woke up this morning, I had this on my phone
That is pretty awesome and shows how humble and fan friendly he is. If you read this, thanks for following me back Cutch.