Saturday, August 28, 2021

Rediscovering The Hobby Fun

So I did a thing while still (temporarily) living with the in laws.

I dug out some of my boxes of Cutch cards that I never scanned or sorted or entered into my spreadsheet.

This is just one of the five boxes of relics, autos, printing plates, and manufactured relics boxes I have to go through.
I am certain that there will be cards in here that I forgot about and I am certain I will find cards that I scanned but never entered into my spreadsheet and vice versa. 

I found so many awesome cards just hanging out in these boxes.

My goal is to knock out one of these boxes every ten days to sort, enter into my spreadsheet, and maybe even find some gems to blog about.

One card that caught my eye was this 2015 Topps silver frame league leaders card.
The 2015 silver frame cards were limited to only 20 copies and followed the success of the 2014 Topps Gold Label framed inserts.
The fronts and backs are identical to the standard base card, but they have a very heavy and sturdy silver frame outlining the card along with a serial number marking on the front of the card.

If you were playing NL Batting Title Bingo at the begining of the season and you had Ben Revere, Jonathan Lucroy, Josh Harrison, Denard Span, and Jayson Werth you just might have won.  

It's always fun to look back at some of the stat leaders and who were the guys you wouldn't expect to be in competition for that stat leader.

Cutch finished third in the batting title race in 2014 behind teammate Josh Harrison and former teammate Justin Morneau.

I thought it would be fun to look back at that 2014 batting title race between three guys who finished the 2013 season with the Pirates.

By the rules to qualify for a batting title, a player must have 3.1 at bats per game in a 162 game season.  This equates to 502 at bats to qualify for a batting title in a standard season.

Coincidently Justin Morneau had exactly 502 at bats in the 2014 Season and played in only 135 games.  On September 26th, Justin Morneau had his 501st at bat of the season and was substituted out of the game after a 2 for 3 performance at the plate and raising his average to .319.  The 4th place Rockies chose not to play Morneau in the second to last game of the season and would use him as a pinch hitter in the 7th inning to close out the season.  He got out, but kept his batting average at .319 if you round it up from it's original .318725 mark.  This pinch hit at bat on the final game of the season gave Morneau the opportunity to clinch a batting title.  If he had walked or gotten injured before completing this pinch hit at bat, Morneau would not have qualified for the batting title and the Rockies who finished the season with a 66-96 record would have one less thing to celebrate in a pretty forgettable season.

The Pittsburgh Pirates were battling for their second straight postseason push and were within a few games reach of winning the division heading into the final week.  
The Pirates had to play their stars to continue to make the push for their best shot at the postseason.  

In the final four games of the season, Cutch went 4 for 12 with an additional 4 walks.  Had Cutch gotten 3 more hits over the course of the season while maintaining his 548 at bats, Cutch would have won the batting title with a .319343 mark.  

The last Pirates player to win a batting title was Freddy Sanchez in 2006.  

Do you remember these silver frame parallels?

Who was the last player on your favorite team to win a batting title?

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Friday, August 20, 2021

Super Collectors Helping Out

By large I consider myself a player collector more than anything else when it comes to this hobby.  I feel like I have always been a "player collector" since taking up hobbies as an adult.

I've talked before about my collections I have had over the years from 80s toys to comics to sports cards.  

In looking back though I was always a player collector and super collector in the mindset.

The weird thing is I was never invested in the upper tier of collecting.

When I was collecting 80s toys I was focused on Voltron and Thundercats.  Neither of those toy lines had the sports player mindset, but I was obsessed with getting everything that had Voltron on it.  If it had 5 robot lions on some licensed merchandise I needed it for my collection.  Children sneakers in size 3?  Yup I was buying them.  Pencil pouches and folders for my school supplies at age 25?  Yup...I needed them.  

Voltron and Thundercats both had loyal fan bases, but they fall into the second tier of great 80s cartoons behind things like Transformers, G.I. Joe, Masters of the Universe, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Fast forward to my comic book collections.  Growing up my introduction to comic books was the 1992 X-Men cartoon and my two favorite characters were the mutant couple Gambit & Rogue.  Once I got into reading comic books I was hooked on the Flash and Daredevil.  I began buying every comic that featured those characters.

Again, great characters but definitely not top tier like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Hulk, or Wolverine. 

In 2005 I attended a baseball game for the first time in a decade and decided I was going to root for the Pittsburgh Pirates and began following the career of that year's draft pick, Andrew McCutchen.

For a three year run, many could argue that Cutch was top tier in the league as he was basically the National League version of Mike Trout.  Unfortunately he didn't sustain that level of success for decades like some of the all time greats like Pujols, Jeter, Griffey, etc.

My Cutch collection has been my longest tenured collection in any hobby I have ever been a part of.  It has outlasted everything I ever collected and in the span of over a decade and half of collecting his cards I have made some pretty awesome online friends because of the collection.  

About a month ago I received an awesome random act of kindness from another player collector via Twitter.  
As many of you may be aware Blake Jamieson kicked off his Project 70 checklist with a Cutch card.  Well dmoose8 on Twitter received a signed black ink (not numbered) autograph from Blake and he chose to send it to me.  I've had a few interactions with him and his dad on Twitter over the years.  He collects Erik Moustakas cards to the supercollector level and his dad has a fully finished Man Cave of Steal dedicated to Rickey Henderson.

This hobby is awesome!

I love seeing these super collections and being known for my Cutch collection.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Don't be a poser! Set your milestones another night...aka Congrats Joey Votto...aka good luck tonight Miggy

I was really hoping that Miguel Cabrera would hit his 500th HR last night so I could show off some of my Andrew McCutchen and Joey Votto/Miguel Cabrera cards.
I have shown off my relic collection of Joey Votto when I discussed Players I shouldn't root for, but I do.  That post is 3 years old and I have added a very nice parallel to the card you see above to my collection.

Joey Votto hit his 2,000 career hit last night at the age of 37.  It is unlikely that he will get to 3,000 but he could be a favorite for MVP this year especially if the Reds make the playoffs.

I will save the Cutch/Miggy/Votto cards for another day, but here is an uncut sheet of Allen & Ginter minis from the Topps Vault that features Andrew McCutchen, Joey Votto, 

Max Poser set a record prior to 2010 for longest spiral of dominos to be toppled over (450 meters) and the most dominos stacked on a single domino (1,002).
With the 2,000 hits for Votto out of the way the dominos are set for more milestones of these 3 players to come to fruition tonight.

I predict Cutch will get to 1,800 career hits tonight and/or Miggy will get his 500th career homerun.

Let's see if I can predict the future again like I did back in 2017 when I declared Charlie Morton would be standing on the mound in Game 7 of the World Series for an Astros victory.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Mini Monday: Feeling blue

I have been purging a lot of my non McCutchen cards lately.  In a way it's awesome because I am selling things that don't spark a general interest in why I collect, but it also has really made me realize that I have way too many cards in my collection.

Thousands of cards exist in my collection that I just don't have a connection with anymore.  Worse of all many of them aren't worth a lot of money.  How many Evan Meek and Ian Snell cards do you have in your collection?  I have too many.

I have never sold my cards via COMC, I've only ever bought using the site.  
Have you had any luck with it? What's the process like?  

I've considered listing lots of Pirates autographs for $10 on eBay but the shipping might scare people away.

What are some suggestions you have for selling off a collection of mostly $1-$5 autos of former Pirates? I'm talking about guys that aren't active and were never big stars.  Guys like Ian Snell, Paul Maholm, Chris Duffy, Jose Tabata...

I really appreciate any help you guys can provide.

The cards I'm not worried about selling are my McCutchen PC because quite frankly, it's not going anywhere.  

The blue on this 2016 Topps Mini really pops in the background, I just have terrible lighting at the in laws house.

The blue Topps Minis were limited to only 10 copies.
Pretty cool company that Cutch put himself in when he was the first Pirate to go to the All Star game 5 consecutive years since Roberto Clemente.  If it weren't for an All Star snub in 2010, he would have represented the Pirates six straight years.  

Unfortunately Evan Meek was that year's representative.  Oh Evan Meek, you were a great middle reliever for one season.  Why did I buy so many of your cards?

Who needs Evan Meek autographs?

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Excited for the future!!!!

In case you missed it, the Pirates had the number 1 draft pick this year.  Many people who cover the draft thought that Jack Leiter (Al Leiter's son) or Marcelo Mayer would go number 1 overall.  The Pirates instead chose to select Henry Davis, a college catcher. 

Davis signed quickly and underslot so the team could sign some more elite high ceiling players in the later rounds.  The Pirates were able to draft 4 of the top 35 ranked prospects in their first four rounds and they signed all of them.  It was an amazing job by new General Manager Ben Cherington and his team.

Henry Davis has quickly impressed fans by already receiving a promotion to High A ball.  

In just a few games in low A, Davis was slashing .429/.429/1.143 which is good for a 1.572 OPS and a 284wRC+
He hit 2 doubles and a home run in only 7 games.

This quickly earned him the promotion to High A and he shined in that debut too going 1 for 3 with a walk and triple.  

The Greensboro Grasshoppers, the Pirates high A affiliate is loaded with top 100 prospects. 

Quinn Prister, the Pirates number 2 prospect, and first round draft pick in 2019 threw 7 scoreless innings while striking out 10 on Friday.  He has a 2.80 ERA over his 23 minor league starts.

Nick Gonzalez, the Pirates first round draft pick in 2020, is continuing to recover from an earlier season injury but has come on hot lately going 4 for 5 yesterday. 

Liover Peguero, a shortstop acquired in the Starling Marte trade, is a top 100 prospect and the best defensive shortstop in the organization.  

Lolo Sanchez continues to swipe bags at a good rate, now sitting at the quarter century mark.

I am excited for the Pirates in the next 3 years.  

It reminds me of when the Pirates tore the whole thing down in 2008.

Gone were the days of wasted draft picks like Bryan Bullington.  Yes, the Pirates chose Bryan Bullington as the number 1 draft pick and former GM stated after the draft that they saw Bullington as someone who could be a back of the rotation starter.

You don't use the number 1 pick for that!!!!
Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, Scott Kazmir, and Prince Fielder were all first round picks that year. Uggghhh.

Other notable early selections were Joey Votto, Jon Lester, Brian McCann, Charlie Morton, Rich Hill, Curtis Granderson, and Josh Johnson.

To say the Pirates botched the 2003 draft would be an understatement.  I don't think they botched this draft in 2021.

I am excited for it!!!

I did find this old program with Bryan Bullington on the front.
And of course it had an article about Andrew McCutchen in it.  I am always looking for more magazines with Cutch in it.

Do you display your magazines or keep them in boxes?

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Target Acquired!!!!

Back in May I declared that I wanted to add more of the rare 2009 Andrew McCutchen cards to my collection as one of my main goals for the rest of the year.  You can revisit that post here.

Well, my friends...

That Target has been acquired
Quite literally actually

Before Topps started to make glossy backed vintage logo designs in hobby packs with serial numbers to 99 copies, Topps was making Throwback variants in Target exclusive Hanger boxes.  
These Target exclusive vintage "umbrella" design logo of Topps weren't numbered and had a very vintage cardboard look and feel to them, especially the backs.
These days not only can you not find packs of cards at Target, but are now associated with red parallels, made famous of course by the 2011 Topps Update Mike Trout.

Do you think Topps should make the throwbacks with the classic cardboard non glossy stock again?

Friday, August 13, 2021

Beavis & Butterfly Effects

So yesterday as I was watching the Field of Dreams game I got quick flashes of nostalgia.  I remembered about my friend who was a White Sox fan and remembering when we used to trade baseball cards.  I remembered the 2005 World Series between the White Sox and Astros.  

It brought back memories of the two team's franchise icons in Jeff Bagwell and Frank Thomas.  

My brain was going through years of memories all because of one memory.  

Those classic White Sox uniforms.  

I remember collecting cards that featured those amazing Sox uniforms just so I could trade them to my friend Jimmy.  

He was a big Frank Thomas fan, but liked all the White Sox, especially if the card featured the throwback uniforms.  This was before the internet and things couldn't be confirmed with just a Google search.  

I remember I traded a 1991 Robin Ventura Stadium Club for a Jeff Bagwell Stadium Club.  I got the better end of that trade for sure, but I convinced him that the Ventura was an error because of the uniform.  When you're 10 years old it's ok to lie to get what you want.
And I wanted that Jeff Bagwell Stadium Club card.

During the summer we went to our local mall card show and I saw another of the Jeff Bagwell Stadium Club cards.  I picked it up for about $15.  I remember thinking that was such a great deal and that I wanted to own as many Jeff Bagwell 1991 Stadium Club cards as I could.  My uncle was friends with Ken Caminiti and I was a mild Astros fan because of it.

Whenever I think of 1991 Stadium Club, the first thing I think of is the Jeff Bagwell rookie card.
It was such an odd looking card with him leaning on a piece of equipment.  As a kid I thought it was a diving board...which makes zero sense to me now, but hey I was only 10.  My imagination was wild.

I loved the backs of the 1991 Stadium Club cards.  It featured more in depth statistics AND showed the player's 1st Topps card.

Remember when Topps actually put effort into their card backs?
I guess today Topps would only choose to use their flagship set as defining rookie cards.  If that was the case we probably would have gotten the 1991 Topps Traded on the back.
Remember how I said I had a wild imagination as a ten year old?

It holds true to this day.
Everytime I see this card it kind of reminds me of Beavis from Beavis & Butthead, the Mike Judge MTV show that made MTV animation famous in the 1990s.
Do you see the resemblance?

Anyway, I have gotten way off track with my thoughts.

Here is a 2021 1991 Stadium Club retro card of Cutch.
These 1991 designs fall 1:179 packs so they are pretty rare.

And here is the back
which unfortunately doesn't show his rookie card or any 1991 design contributions.

Do you have any memories from 1991 Stadium Club?

Have you ever gone down a rabbit hole of nostalgia because of watching a baseball game?  

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Into The Corn!!!

When I was younger my best friend's favorite baseball team was the Chicago White Sox.  The ChiSox were a team I liked a lot also due to the Big Hurt, Robin Ventura, and Jack McDowell.  

I chose to root for the other black uniformed baseball team and the rest is kind of history.  

The Pirates have stunk for nearly 3 decades.
The White Sox have basically stunk during that time also besides a few playoff appearances and of course their 2005 World Series.

The Field of Dreams Game just ended with an epic walkoff by Tim Anderson.
Man was that awesome!!!

The first homerun hit in an MLB game in the state of Iowa was by Jose Abreu.
I will be rooting for the White Sox for the American League.  What a fun group of guys they have there.

I don't have many White Sox cards in my collection that feature Cutch, but I do have a 2020 Topps Sticker with Cutch on the front and the walk off hero, Tim Anderson on the back.

It's always fun to show off the images of a card via a mirror to show the fronts and back.
I also have a card with a bunch of patches including one of Jose Abreu.  It also has a nice patch of the other 9th inning (could have been) hero, Giancarlo Stanton.
I have a feeling I will be showing off the above card again in the near future when Miggy hits career HR #500.

Did you watch the Field of Dreams game?

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Remembering what it was like to have hope

Is there a better modern rookie class than 2011 Topps Update?  2018 Update may one day overtake it with the likes of Soto, Acuna, and Otaku but for now 2011 Topps Update has the rookie card of this generation's greatest player (Mike Trout)

In addition to Trout, let's run through some of the rookie cards that can be found in the set

Mike Trout
Paul Goldschmidt
Chris Sale
Jose Altuve
Anthony Rizzo
DJ LeMahieu
Eric Hosmer
Mike Moustakas
JD Martinez
Charlie Blackmon
Brandon Crawford
Kyle Seater
Dee Gordon
Brad Hand
Eric Thames

Cutch has his own All Star Card in the 2011 Topps Update Set, but he also has a cameo on the Jay Bruce All Star Card and the Chase d'Arnaud rookie card. 

When Chase was drafted, I thought he would become a long term fixture at shortstop for the Pirates.  

I got the opportunity to see him play a lot in the minor leagues and even got a signed bat from him during his time in AA Altoona Curve.

He came up and made his debut in 2011 in an Interleague matchup versus the Boston Red Sox.  He tripled for his first base hit.  

After several injuries and the emergence of Jordy Mercer in the shortstop position for the Pirates, Chase bounced around with a few other organizations including the Phillies, Braves, Padres, and Giants. 

I was sad to see Chase leave the Pirates organization as I always viewed his ceiling to be in the Trea Turner mold.  Chase was a burner on the base paths, had some pop in the low minors, and could play all infield and outfield positions at an above average rate.  
I picked up this Hope parallel (one of the greatest looking parallels ever made for Flagship) of Chase d'Arnaud back in March.  It cost me $17 delivered, which is a bit expensive for a guy with a triple slash line of .222/.273/.316 and a -0.7WAR but I will always remember Chase for his kindness while in the minors and for giving Pirates fans HOPE (pun intended) of a brighter future

Chase wasn't part of any of the Pirates postseason rosters, but he was fun to watch play and especially run the bases.

Chase currently has a YouTube that he updates with songs (he's a guitarist and singer) and gives some insight to behind the scenes for baseball players.

You can check out Chase's YouTube channel here.

His last game played was for the Giants in 2018 after a career that spanded 7 seasons of "taxi squadding" between the majors and minors.

The Pirates are now loaded with prospects at the SS position in addition to guys like Kevin Newman, Cole Tucker, and Hoy Jun Park at the major league level.  Who is the Pirates shortstop of the future?  I'm not sure who their shortstop is now.  

Let's take it one day at a time...

What forgotten players have you bought cards of recently?    

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

I could have a quarter million dollars in inventory

It likely wasn't a 1990 Fleer Juan Uribe that started it all, but it is one of the most iconic cards that drew attention for selling at an insane hype level price.
Some sellers are still stuck in the mindset that "rare" baseball cards are worth tens of thousands of dollars.  

This is true for certain cards, but I am always reminded that something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

A rare buyback Andrew McCutchen card hit eBay the other day.

I of course was interested in it.

And I say rare in the sense that it was only available as a redemption and came encased in a BGS holder and marked with a 1/1 on the case.
The card has no markings on it and it is strictly just a buyback/over stock inventory that has been placed in a BGS holder.

In case you are unfamiliar with how to obtain one of these Topps 70 buyback cards they were available as redemptions in packs of Series 1 and Series 2.  

Below is an example of one of the redemptions

Topps is celebrating their 70th anniversary this year and is providing 1 of these cards to depict each year of the company's existence.  
2017 Topps is represented by the Aaron Judge rookie card and it sold for just over $100.
Yadier Molina, one of the best defensive catchers of all time, has his rookie card in 2004 as that set's chosen buyback.  It sold for $500.
Eddie Fricking Murray, one of the most underrated hitters of all time with over 3,000 hits and 500HR had his rookie represent the 1978 set.  It sold for $250.

So explain to me why this seller thinks that the Andrew McCutchen 2009 buyback is worth $10K?
I get that it's a "1/1" but c'mon....

I messaged the seller an offer of $150 along with the screenshots of the sold cards stating I was a super collector of McCutchen.

He countered with $10,000 saying it's the only one in existence and to offer something closer to the asking price.

Well Mr. eBay seller, thank you for saving me $150.  I don't know why I was even thinking of adding another to my collection for a price that is 20x the going rate.

I know mine aren't slabbed in a BGS holder with the Topps 70 logo, but I have the following quantities in raw form just hanging out in my binders.
31x base
3x Wal Mart black
2x Gold Border /2009

I also have a PSA10 and BGS 9.5 in storage.

Do you have any large quantities (10 or more) of a player's rookie card?

Monday, August 9, 2021

Just another Mini Monday

Well, it's been a busy day so I had to post this card in the final minutes (posted 11:45pm) to get the Mini Monday streak started again.

Today's mini is a 2014 Bowman Chrome mini die cut Refractor
Numbered to only 150 copies
The back of the card mentions Cutch's attempt to get a third straight OPS over .900.  Cutch would not only be successful in hitting that mark, but he would actually lead the majors with a .952 OPS and again finish 3rd in MVP voting behind Clayton Kershaw and Giancarlo Stanton.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Chicks dig the long ball

Who remembers that commercial with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine talking about how "Chicks dig the long ball"?

Well if you forgot it, you can check it out on YouTube here.  Tom Glavine recollects the making of the Nike commercial.

I was watching a game earlier this year and the score was tied up with no outs in the 8th inning with a runner on second.  The top of the lineup was up.
A few things could have played out.
The defense could have intentionally walked the guy up at plate to potentially get a double (or triple) play in order.  This didn't happen and the defense chose to just attack the hitter.  

Now the hitter could have chosen to lay down a sacrifice bunt to advance the guy on 2nd base to 3rd base with one out.  This would almost certainly cause the infield to play in on the grass opening more possibilities for the number 2 hitter in the lineup to manipulate a base hit OR hit a sacrifice fly OR let a ball get pass the catcher for the guy on now 3rd base to score.  The ability to score a run from 3rd base with 1 out and your number 2 and 3 hitters up seems like an easy way to push across a run and put your team ahead.  

Do you think that happened?

Nope.  The guy up at the plate was an All Star with high contact rate, but tried to hit a HR in a selfish manner.  He didn't. 
He lined out.

1 out. Runner still at 2nd Base.

The team's number 2 hitter is up at the plate.  He's a rookie.  He struck out on a ball in the dirt that briefly got away from the catcher.  Throw down to 1st. 

2 outs.  Runner on 2nd didn't advance.

The team's number 3 hitter is up, also an All Star.  Fly ball, deep in the outfield.


3 outs.

Runner on 2nd stayed there, stranded.

The team gave up the lead in the bottom of the inning and would go on to lose the game.

In a game with the 3 true outcomes (walk, strikeout, HR) grows more and more each year we are seeing teams play small ball less and less.  

Is it because chicks dig the long ball or is it because analytics and the moneyball way of thinking no longer values a productive out?

Not surprisingly the number of sacrifice bunts in 2021 is down per game compared to a decade ago.  Also not surprising is that 13 of the top 15 teams that do sacrifice bunt are National League teams and are often pitchers attempting to lay down a sacrifice.  

The 2 teams not in the top 15 that are National League teams? 

The last place Miami Marlins (0.15 bunts per game) and Pittsburgh Pirates (0.13 bunts per game) both bunt the least for National League teams. 

Go back to 2011 and the Marlins were bunting 0.55 (most in majors) and the Pirates were bunting 0.46 times per game.  The team with the fewest sacrifice bunts in 2011 was the Boston Red Sox at 0.14 sacrifice bunts per game.

The furthest back I can go is 2007 based on the research I was able to do and the Colorado Rockies were sacrifice bunting 0.50 times a game.  They are also leading the majors this year with 0.31 times per game.  The 0.31 times per game in 2021 would put them in the lower half of the 2007 statistics and lumped in with many of the fewest bunts among American League teams.

The art of bunting is nearly gone from baseball.

I miss small ball and seeing action and strategy on the base paths and defense.

When Andrew McCutchen broke into the majors in 2009 he was a force on the base paths stealing 20-30 bags per season during his first 5 years.  

There were even times that Cutch would attempt to lay down a bunt for a base hit.

The last time Cutch was successful with a sacrifice hit was in 2011.  

There was an insert set in 2012 Topps Opening Day called Elite Skills

The 25 card insert set features various skills from the game of baseball.  Oddly enough, Cutch is featured as the bunting skill.
The back of the card talks about how the elite athlete gets ready to lay down a bunt for a potential base hit. 

What are some of your favorite baseball commercials?