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Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Lee Smith

Lee Smith should have been inducted into the Hall of Fame a long time ago. He was the all-time saves leader when he retired, since passed by Mariano Rivera (who will likely be inducted this year) and Trevor Hoffman (inducted last year). Yet he never received more than 50% from the BBWAA. And that is why we need the Veterans Committee.

I know a lot of people are upset about Harold Baines (I’m not one of them), but the BBWAA is far from perfect and some players deserve a second look from a different body of voters. I’m especially glad Alan Trammell got that second look this past year, and I’m glad Smith is getting the nod in 2019. It will likely be a long time before a relief pitcher gets considerable attention by either the BBWAA or the VC after 2019, and I’m okay with that as I think the position—particularly how it is utilized today—is overrated by many.

While I was digging around for a photo to use, I came across this awesome custom 1980 Topps Lee Smith card at “Cards That Never Were.”

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Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Harold Baines

Baines

To say I was shocked when I clicked on the White Sox Cards blog this morning would be an understatement. It took a moment to register that Steve was talking about the actual National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum located in Cooperstown, and not a team Hall of Fame or perhaps the St. Michael’s High School Hall of Fame. While I have said in the past that I would not be upset by Harold Baines‘ induction, I never expected it to actually happen.

I’m still not mad.

Baines was a solid player for twenty-two seasons. He collected 2866 hits, good for #46 all-time and just 134 short of the “magic number.” As his former manager Tony La Russa said, “If it wasn’t for the strikes, he would have had 3000 hits.” The same argument is made by Fred McGriff apologists, so why shouldn’t it apply to Baines?

Every player ahead of Baines on the all-time hits list is in the Hall of Fame, save the permanently ineligible (Pete Rose), still active or recently retired (Adrian Beltre, Ichiro Suzuki, Albert Pujols), or steroid-implicated players (whose names I would rather not mention).*

I’m not mad that Baines will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019, and I hope that his induction may pave the way for other borderline cases such as Dale Murphy and Dave Parker.

* Update: Omar Vizquel actually has 11 more hits than Harold, and I had overlooked him initially. Vizquel received 37% from BBWAA voters last year, and is eligible for nine more ballots as long as he does not drop below 5% support.

Fun Cards: 1990 Topps BIG Brandon Phillips

Brandon Phillips Pawtucket Red Sox

Brandon Phillips played his first 15 big league seasons in Ohio, starting with the Cleveland Indians for four years and then eleven more with the Reds. He reached the All-Star Game three times with Cincinnati and won three Gold Gloves, but his skills were diminishing and his attitude started rubbing people the wrong way near the end. After exercising his no-trade clause when Cincinnati tried to deal him to Arizona and Washington before the 2016 season, he finally relented and accepted a trade to the Braves. On the last day of August 2017, the Braves traded him to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Orange County of Southern California on the West Coast in the United States of America.

Despite hitting .285 with 13 homers and 60 RBI in 2017, Phillips was unable to secure a big league contract for the 2018 season. Last month, he signed a minor league deal with Boston and performed well in 6 games for the class A Lowell Spinners. He was then promoted to the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox, but in 8 games has only collected 5 hits, hitting .172. The Paw Sox have a nice selection of photos from Dat Dude’s time with the team on Facebook.

Will he make it back to the bigs when rosters expand, or is Pawtucket his last hurrah?

Fun Cards: 2018 TWJ American Ninja Warrior Josh Salinas

Josh Salinas American Ninja Warrior

Another finisher in the Dallas City Finals was “The Iron Ninja Josh.” Salinas is in his second season on American Ninja Warrior. He advanced to Stage 2 of the Las Vegas Finals last season, falling during Wingnut Alley, the fifth obstacle on the course.

You can connect with Flip Rodriguez on Instagram.

Watch American Ninja Warrior on Hulu or Amazon Prime.

Do you want to become a Ninja Warrior? Check out the recently published Become an American Ninja Warrior: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide.

DISCLAIMER: These cards are not for sale. They are not even printed. They exist only in digital form on this blog.

Fun Cards: 2018 TWJ American Ninja Warrior Daniel Gil

Daniel Gil American Ninja Warrior

Daniel Gil, “The Kingdom Ninja,” completed the course in the Dallas City Finals and is headed to the Las Vegas Finals Stage 1. He had the fastest finish of the night at 3 minutes and 54 seconds. Only five competitors finished the course in Dallas. This is the fourth time in as many seasons that Gil has advanced to Las Vegas.

You can connect with Daniel Gil on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Watch American Ninja Warrior on Hulu or Amazon Prime.

Do you want to become a Ninja Warrior? Check out the recently published Become an American Ninja Warrior: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide.

DISCLAIMER: These cards are not for sale. They are not even printed. They exist only in digital form on this blog.

Fun Cards: 2018 TWJ American Ninja Warrior Flip Rodriguez

How about some horizontal American Ninja Warrior action?

Flip Rodriguez competed in season 5 and seasons 7-10 of American Ninja Warrior. He doesn’t have a “Ninja” nickname like many of the other competitors. He is usually one of the quickest athletes to run the course.

You can connect with Flip Rodriguez on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can purchase Flip Rodriguez merchandise here.

Watch American Ninja Warrior on Hulu or Amazon Prime.

Do you want to become a Ninja Warrior? Check out the recently published Become an American Ninja Warrior: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide.

DISCLAIMER: These cards are not for sale. They are not even printed. They exist only in digital form on this blog.

Fun Cards: 2018 TWJ American Ninja Warrior Grant McCartney

Last year while on vacation, I was flipping through the channels at the hotel late at night. I landed on a marathon of American Ninja Warrior. I had never watched the show before but quickly became enthralled with the obstacle courses and the athleticism of the competitors. After we returned home from vacation, I caught up on the current season on Hulu and impatiently waited from week to week for a new episode. I was hooked. I’m an American Ninja Warrior fanatic.

I was very disappointed to find a complete absence of American Ninja Warrior trading cards. So I decided to make some myself. My design is very basic, but I’m satisfied with it. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you 2018 TWJ American Ninja Warrior trading cards…

Grant McCartney

I started with Grant McCartney, “The Island Ninja,” because he is one of my favorite competitors. He always seems to genuinely have fun running the courses and has a positive attitude, even when he comes up short.

You can catch “The Island Ninja” on Twitter and Instagram, or grab some Island Ninja swag here.

Watch American Ninja Warrior on Hulu or Amazon Prime.

Do you want to become a Ninja Warrior? Check out the recently published Become an American Ninja Warrior: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide.

DISCLAIMER: These cards are not for sale. They are not even printed. They exist only in digital form on this blog.

Fun Cards: 2018 TWJ Joey Votto

Votto

Joey Votto was named to the National League All-Star team for the 6th time. He will join first-timers Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez as the Reds’ representatives in Washington DC on July 17.

As bad as the season started, Cincinnati has really started turning it around. The bullpen is better than expected, and the starters aren’t half bad either. Hopefully the Reds can move Matt Harvey for some MLB-ready talent and start off 2019 on the right foot.

Fun Cards: 1983 Topps Phil Collen & 1993 Topps Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard)

Phil Collen

Guitarist Pete Willis was fired by Def Leppard during the recording of Pyromania. He was replaced by Phil Collen, whose band Girl with Phil Lewis (who later joined L.A. Guns) never quite caught on in the United States.

Vivian Campbell

Following Steve Clark’s death in 1991, the band forged on with only Collen playing guitar on 1992’s Adrenalize. Vivian Campbell, formerly of Dio, was soon hired to fill the missing guitar seat. His recording debut with Def Leppard came on 1993’s RetroActive.

Fun Cards: 1980 Topps Def Leppard (Joe Elliott, Steve Clark, Rick Allen, Rick Savage, Pete Willis)

Joe Elliott

Def Leppard‘s first full-length album, On Through The Night, was released in 1980, and featured one of my favorite Lep songs, “Rock Brigade.” The album reached No. 15 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 51 on the Billboard 200.

Pete Willis

Def Leppard was one of the first bands to break through the resistance against “hair metal” on classic rock radio stations. “Photograph,” “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” and “Foolin'” were just too good to ignore, despite the amount of Aqua Net used by the band.

Rick Allen

Def Leppard still tours frequently and will be hitting the road with arena rock legends Journey next week.

Rick Savage

Their catalog is deep, but I’m not much of a fan of their work past 1987’s Hysteria, the last album recorded with the late Steve Clark.

Steve Clark

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