Blog Archives

I think I may rename my blog, “The Slacker’s Journey”

Votto

Tony of Off Hiatus Baseball Cards (on Twitter as @OffHiatusBBC) is a very generous man. Last week he scoured several bloggers’ wantlists and fired off packages, and I was one of the fortunate recipients. Every single card in the package was a needed card, such as the Joey Votto “Home Run Challenge” game card pictured above.

The package arrived in my mailbox on either Thursday week. I tore it opened, thumbed through the cards quickly, then set them aside because family was coming in from out of town. Then I worked all weekend, and I had plans Monday and Tuesday. I did cross off the needs Tuesday night but didn’t feel like battling my scanner, so I put that off until tonight before work. I miss my old scanner. Not the one I had before my current scanner, but the one before that. These past two scanners don’t fit a full 9-pocket page on the glass and I’m constantly battling the network connection. I never had issues with the network connection when the machine was actually plugged into a computer.

Anyway, back to the gratitude. Tony hooked me up with several Allen & Ginter cards I didn’t already have, including several from the 2011 release.

Rolen

I wish I could say that was a bad scan of should-be Hall of Famer Scott Rolen, but that’s really what the card looks like. I know there are a lot of Ginter fans out there, but sometimes they just don’t work.

He also sent me my first 2014 Stadium Club card. I didn’t even have a wantlist posted for 2014 Stadium Club yet. So I had to scramble to add it to my wantlist so I could cross this card off. Sadly, it is a card of malcontent (and still unemployed) Brandon Phillips.

Phillips

I used to love BP; he was fun to watch. But he got grumpy in his old age. I believe he was a detriment to the Reds’ clubhouse during his last few years in Cincinnati. I didn’t follow him after he flew south to Atlanta, or west to Los Angeles, so I don’t know if he ruffled any feathers on those teams. I was glad to see him leave Cincinnati.

There was a hefty-sized stack of cards from the past eight years, each one allowing my to cross cards off my wantlists. But the highlights of the package were the vintage cards from the 1970s.

1970s Reds

I have wanted some of these cards for years, but have never seen them for sale locally at a decent price. I’m so happy to have the 1975 and 1976 World Series cards in my collection now. I feel like those were some glaring omissions. There were others that I thought I had, and probably did at some point, like the Joel Youngblood rookie from 1977. But they were not crossed off my lists until this package arrived last week.

Here’s the big news: Tony helped me get so close to finishing off some team sets from the 1970s. I now only need four cards from 1977, two from 1978, and one from 1979. He also knocked off the final three cards from the 1982 Fleer Reds wantlist.

This package was a definite win! Thank you Tony, and again, sorry it took almost a week to post the awesomeness!

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I’m trying to think of something nice to say about the Cleveland Indians

Sorry, I can’t come up with anything at all.

At least they have some fans that are willing to trade stacks of Reds for stacks of Indians. Last week I was introduced to @cjbosu2000 on Twitter, and we agreed to a blind trade. I shipped a padded envelope of Tribe up his way, and he sent some Reds south…

Reds cards

Most of the cards were very modern, but there were a handful of junk cards, including this needed Chris Hammond card…

Hammond

I was a big Hammond fan back in the day. I was certain he was the next big thing and “invested” in a stack of his Upper Deck rookie cards. Fortunately, my investment was small to begin with, so I didn’t lose that much. This Leaf card is one that I never got a hold of, though, so it’s nice to add it to my collection.

Most people in the blogosphere don’t care about those ancient junk wax cards, though. You monsters just want to see the shiny stuff. So take a look at these goodies from 2016, all of which I think will be new to my binders…

Platinum Votto

2016 Bowman Platinum Joey Votto

DK Frazier

2016 Panini Diamond Kings Todd Frazier

Archives Bruce

2016 Topps Archives Jay Bruce

Heritage Iglesias

2016 Topps Heritage Raisel Iglesias

Then, moving into 2017…

DK Votto

2017 Panini Diamond Kings Votto

Optic Votto DK

2017 Panini/Donruss Optic Diamond Kings Votto (purple parallel)

2017 A&G Larkin

2017 Topps Allen & Ginter Barry Larkin

2017 Fire Duvall

2017 Topps Fire Adam Duvall

2017 Gallery Finnegan

2017 Topps Gallery Brandon Finnegan (Maybe canvas parallel? Need clarifcation on these.)

2017 Heritage Storen

2017 Topps Heritage Drew Storen

2017 Opening Day Finnegan

2017 Topps Opening Day Finnegan

There were so many great cards in this package. Chuck has definitely earned a spot on my permanent “send his favorite team’s stuff to him when I get it” list. Thanks for the Reds goodies, Chuck!

What makes a good trading partner?

Votto All-Star

I use the word “trading” very loosely.

The first time I trade with someone, I generally ask, “What team do you like? I’ll send you a package full, and you can respond with Reds after you get it.” That initial trade sets the tone for our relationship. There are some that I have been “trading” with for close to a decade now. But they aren’t really trades after a while. Eventually, they become, “Hey, that’s something so-and-so would probably like,” or, “I saw so-and-so blog about needing that card.” The card is then purchased and packed and sent off without notice or expectation of anything in return. That’s the way I like to “trade.”

The guy who gets most of my Mariners cards is Steve of Tridents and Trading Cards. I have interacted with Steve quite a bit, mostly on Twitter (his handle is @cardboardjones), and he has sent me some really cool stuff through the years. His most recent mailing contained just two cards…but both were cards that I needed.

The first, up top, is a Joey Votto card that also features Aroldis Chapman and Brandon Phillips. All three repped the Redlegs at the 2013 All-Star Game in New York. I liked the card the first time I saw it, but haven’t seen it cheap enough to actually buy (because card shops price their Reds cards WAY too high around here). I received the emerald parallel last week, and it was quickly followed by the base version. It’s awesome to finally have it in my collection, even if 2/3 of the guys on the cards no longer wear the Cincinnati uniform.

The second card is a 2017 purple parallel Scott Schebler.

Schebler

I rarely buy cards at Toys R Us, so I have very few purple parallel cards. All of my purple Reds have come from other collectors. And I appreciate them. I do not put parallels on my wantlist, nor do I chase them, but I do want them. I only add them after they are received, then cross them out. The only time I really consider purchasing a parallel is if the price is sooooo low I simply can’t pass it up. Which, in Cincinnati, never happens. So I am very grateful to add this card to my collection.

Back to the question, what makes a good trading partner? To me, a good trading partner is one who drops cards in the mail just because, or who picks up stuff at shows or antique malls or card shops that others will appreciate, with no expectation of a return package. Which isn’t really trading at all, is it?

Thanks for being a good “trading” partner, Steve!

Reds from Tennessee

I suppose one might say that folks in Tennessee are lucky. Since they have no MLB team, they are free agents when it comes to fandom. As such, the Tigers are the fortunate beneficiaries of @robbyt86‘s fandom. And I am the beneficiary of his non-fandom of Reds, as evidenced by our recent trade. I will only hit a few highlights here because it would take probably a month full of posts to show off everything Robert sent my way.

Let’s start with the cards everyone loves to hate…Donruss.

Donruss

I know I’m an odd duck, but I prefer Donruss to Topps over the past few years. I think the 2018 product looks great, and can’t wait to get it in-hand. Topps has been getting further and further away from what drew me to collecting in the first place, and Donruss just piles on the nostalgia more and more each year.

Then there are the cards that I hate to love…parallels.

parallels

I do not put parallels on my wantlists, but I love it when they show up in my mailbox. I normally just add a note to my list in parenthesis, then hit it with the strike-through. Robert packed the package full of colorful borders, including a strangely appealing purple-bordered Bronson Arroyo. Why do those Toys R Us parallels look so fantastic?

Also in the envelope was the complete team set of 2003 Shoebox Collection.

Shoebox

Reprints of rookie cards of several Reds legends, except for Ken Griffey. Topps reprinted Senior’s 1981 card, instead of his 1974 RC. Strange.

Robert also helped me finish off my 2015 Topps Reds set.

Negron

The only base Reds card I was missing from 2015, Kristopher Negron, has now joined his comrades. Hmmm…Reds, Comrades? Maybe I should rethink that wording.

What a great trade full of legends like Johnny Bench

Bench

Legends in the making like Joey Votto

Votto

And legends of the future like Tyler Stephenson

Stephenson

Man, I can’t wait for Opening Day!

Gapper

Thanks for the fantastic trade, Robert! (And thanks for getting those Tigers out of my house!)

NOW that’s what I call generosity

When I returned to work after a brief getaway a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to see a package from Patrick in my mailbox. Patrick and I trade stacks of cards from time to time, and I have given him several baseball books over the past few years after I have finished reading them. But we did not have anything set up for a trade right now, so the fact he left me a package blindsided me. More than that, what was inside that package left me absolutely speechless. I have since regained my ability to speak, and it is way past time to show off these goodies on the blog.

First up is the complete 2016 Topps Mini Reds set…

mini Reds

Topps recruited Rick Moranis to shrink both series 1 and 2. I believe these cards are the same dimensions as the 1975 minis, but I don’t have a ’75 card to compare them to. According to information online, there were only 1000 complete sets made.

Pretty good way to start the package, but there were some bigger surprises inside…

Reds opening day

That, folks, is the complete 15-card set of Reds from Topps NOW “Road to Opening Day.” These were available for a limited time during Spring Training last year, and only 52 sets were made for Reds fans. Thanks to this post-vacation surprise package, I am the proud owner of one of those 52 sets.

My favorite photo from the “Road to Opening Day” set is an easy choice:

Suarez

Eugenio Suarez, who the Reds practically stole from the Tigers for the Big Pasta a few years ago. Look at the size of that bubble. That’s what baseball is all about, my friends. This dude has fun on the field and had a great season last year. I can’t wait to see him in the All-Star Game in July.

But wait, there’s more

Players Weekend

The complete 5-card set of Topps Now “Players Weekend” cards, featuring photos from the weekend of August 25-27, 2017. Surprisingly, the date is not found on these cards. Only 103 sets were made for Reds fans. The players representing the Reds in the Topps NOW series were Joey Votto (“Tokki 2”), Zack Cozart (“Coach”), Billy Hamilton (“Bone”), Scooter Gennett (“Ryan”), Adam Duvall (“Duvy”). I loved the uniforms they wore, but wasn’t crazy about the nicknames on the back.

Votto

How about that for a surprise package? A complete set of 2016 Topps Mini Reds, 2017 Topps NOW “Road to Opening Day,” and 2017 Topps NOW “Players Weekend” cards. But wait…

THERE’S MORE

Reds Topps Now cards 2017

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? What you see above is nearly every 2017 Topps NOW card featuring a Reds player. Eighteen cards, from the superstars like Votto and Hamilton to the rookies like Rookie Davis, Stuart Turner, and Amir Garrett. I was completely floored by these cards.

My favorite Topps NOW card, and perhaps one of my all-time favorite cards, is this right here:

Cozart

Cozart with his All-Star donkey, given to him by Votto after Cozart was selected by the fans to start the 2017 All-Star Game at shortstop. I’m going to miss Cozart in Cincinnati this year, and I hope he has a phenomenal season with the Angels.

Patrick, my friend, thank you so much for these cards. I may no longer be speechless, but I am appreciate of your generosity and grateful for your friendship.

Feast your eyes on this magnificent card

Votto

This phenomenal Joey Votto baseball card comes from the special “silver packs” available when you purchased a box of cards from a hobby shop. Or, if you don’t want to roll the dice and maybe get a player you like in that four-card silver pack, you can wait for them to hit the secondary market on eBay or COMC. I chose eBay because of a relatively low price and free shipping on this card. Ain’t it a wonder?

Look at those socks, man! LOVE IT. There should be an insert set dedicated to the great sock-wearers of the game.

And then there was one…

Topps Series 1 has been on the shelves for just over a week. I couldn’t resist the urge to buy a couple of the hanger boxes (but I should have), and pulled three Reds cards from those packs. Despite not purchasing any more at the store, I’m only one card away from completing the base Reds set already…

2018 Topps Reds cards

Thanks to Tony of Off Hiatus Baseball Cards and PK of Baseball Every Night, the only card I lack is Billy Hamilton (and the pesky SP version, but I’m not counting that towards the base set). PK even hooked me up with the sweet Joey Votto Opening Day insert.

Votto Opening Day

Votto Opening Day

I’ve never heard anyone use the term “lidlifter” before. I will definitely have to start working that into conversation.

I’m very thankful for my baseball card blogging and Tweeting friends. Follow Tony on Twitter at @OffHiatusBBC and PK at @pksteinberg!

HAPPY “REAL” OPENING DAY!

Votto

I don’t care what happened yesterday in Tampa or ‘Zona or St. Louis…today is Opening Day. And despite the five games scheduled before 4:10 and three games scheduled to start at the same time as the Reds-Phillies showdown at 4:10, baseball does not truly start until (…what’s-his-name…hang on, let me look it up…) Scott Feldman (…that’s it…) throws the first pitch in Cincinnati. That’s the way it used to be, at least.

For years, the first pitch of the regular season was always thrown by a Cincinnati pitcher in Cincinnati. Because Cincinnati was the home of the first all-openly-professional baseball club, the Queen City was given the honor of officially starting the baseball season. That changed sometime in the 1980s I think, and I blame Bud Selig 1000000% for the change. Look at all the other traditions he messed up while he was in baseball. The All-Star Game determining home field advantage for the World Series, instant replay, time clocks, turning a blind eye to Jose Canseco‘s exploits, expansion, more expansion, moving Milwaukee to the National League, moving Houston to the American League, collusion, designated hitters, outlawing the spitball…you name it, Bud Selig had his dirty hands all over it. There is no doubt in my mind that he was instrumental in destroying the tradition of starting the season in Cincinnati.

I won’t be attending the game today (not sure when my first trip to the park will be), but if it’s not raining I plan to listen to it on the radio (and long for the days of Marty and Joe Nuxhall telling me all the action on the field). I love Opening Day because I love baseball, despite Bud Selig’s efforts to change my mind. Opening Day puts everyone on equal footing. The World Championship of 2016 means nothing today. Today is all about striving toward the Series in 2017.

That said, I do not expect the Reds to do well this season. Their pitching is an absolute mess. But the offense, if it can stay healthy, promises to bring excitement to Great American Ballpark. Joey Votto looks to continue his second-half performance from last year when he was unstoppable. Jose Peraza will get a chance to shine every day at second base. Zack Cozart is back, and hopefully he will be able to pick up where he left off in 2015 when he was playing like an All-Star before his injury. Eugenio Suarez was a pleasant surprise last year, as was All-Star Adam Duvall. Scott Schebler is a question mark, as is Billy Hamilton‘s on-base percentage. Hamilton is amazing to watch once he gets to first base, but that first 90 feet is such a struggle for him. Devin Mesoraco will take up his position behind home plate in a couple of weeks, but Tucker Barnhart is a serviceable part-time fill-in.

If these guys can score 15-20 runs per game, the team has a shot.

If not, at least we still have more mascots than almost everyone else in the big leagues.

MrRed

2016 Reds, 1983 Style: Joey Votto

1983 Topps Votto

This has been an excruciating season for Reds fans so far. The bullpen is horrendous. Young starters are pitching well, but not long enough, and the ball is being handed over to guys that can’t keep the opponents from scoring. It’s a wonder they can even dress themselves.

The offense was supposed to be the bright spot this season, anchored by veteran Joey Votto at first base. But Votto has had a slow start, batting only .234 in the first 34 games with five longballs and 20 ribbies. For the sabergeeks, Joey’s WAR is an atrocious -0.1. Yes, negative 0.1. Hopefully he can turn things around soon and start hitting like he did during the second half last year. If the bullpen has a ten-run lead, surely they won’t blow it, right?

I’ve gotten a very late start to the Reds “fun cards” this year. I debated long and hard on the design to use, finally settling on the 1983 Topps style. This is a classic look, an update of sorts of the 1963 design, and just an overall good look. I hope you enjoy the cards, even if you have trouble enjoying the games this season.

Cards from a Royals fan in Nebraska

Klinker

On more than one occasion, I wondered why Mike was a Royals fan. He lives in Nebraska. There is no connection whatsoever between Nebraska and the Royals, is there? Then it dawned on me…OMAHA! The city has hosted the Royals AAA affiliate since 1969, so it makes sense for Mike to be a Royals fan. (To be fair to Mike, he has probably told me this and I just forgot. My memory seems to be slipping more and more with each passing day.) The Royals actually have an A-ball team about an hour from me; maybe I’ll try to get down there and catch a game sometime this summer with the boys.

I started this post off with a 2011 Bowman card of Matt Klinker (parallel! green border! numbered to 450!) because Klinker was a career minor leaguer, and 2011 was his last season, split between the Carolina Mudcats and Louisville Bats. He also spent some time in the Venezuelan League in 2011, but has not pitched professionally since according to his B-R page. It would have been nice to have seen Klinker on the big league stage with the Reds; the back of his card says he grew up as a Reds fan in Kentucky. His B-R page shows that he graduated from Lakota West High School in West Chester, OH, a suburb of Cincy. I love the local-kid-makes-good story, but it wasn’t meant to be in this case.

Mike sent over several other awesome cards. Let’s travel back to 1972 with George Foster

Foster

…then to 1984 with an autographed Dann Bilardello

Bilardello

…then to 1989 with an autographed Van Snider

Snider

…before returning to the present time with some 2016 Donruss cards, including speedster Billy Hamilton

Hamilton

…and the best first baseman in the majors, Joey Votto

Vottomatic

I know Donruss gets a lot of grief from collectors because of the lack of logos, but I like the cards and am so happy to see an alternative to Topps this and Topps that and Topps then and Topps now. The 1982 throwbacks are especially nice, though the logo and year seem a bit big and bulky. Other than that, I think Donruss is doing a pretty fantastic job.

Thanks for the cards, Mike, and be watching for an envelope full of Royals coming your way!

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