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Goodbye, Roy Halladay

(May 14, 1977 – November 7, 2017)

Roy Halladay perished in a plane crash today in the Gulf of Mexico. He was one of the most dominant pitchers of his generation, winning 203 games and striking out 2117 batters in his 16-year career with the Blue Jays and Phillies, 1998-2013. Halladay was an 8-time All-Star, 2-time Cy Young Award winner, and finished in the top 5 for the Cy Young five other times. In 2010, he threw the second no-hitter in postseason history as the Phillies topped the Reds in the NLDS.

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Baseball cards from Orlando

packs

I have been sitting on this post for absolutely no reason other than laziness. I bought a handful of fifty-cent packs when I was in Orlando at the beginning of the month, and scanned a handful of them, even uploaded the scans, but just haven’t been motivated to post them. I have nothing else planned for today, so let’s see what I got…

Davis

First up is Eric Davis from the 1987 Fleer Star Stickers set. These cards are very similar to the 1986 set, but with a green border instead of maroon. Either way, the border clashes with the red jersey.

Mattingly

The 1988 Fleer Star Stickers went with a gray border sprinkled with colorful stars. This Don Mattingly is the best card I pulled from that pack.

Davis mini

Franco mini

Back to 1987, and a pair of Reds in a pack: the best centerfielder and the best relief pitcher of the second half of the decade. John Franco is criminally underrated.

Benzinger

Benzinger

Clark

Clark

I bought a couple of packs of 1990 Donruss. Don’t look at me like that. I did not have any Grand Slammers cards, and I wanted a couple. I pulled the Todd Benzinger from one pack, and Will Clark from another. If I had found another pack with Bo Jackson on top, I would have bought that one too.

Big Hurt

I did not know the 1992 Fleer “The Performer” cards came in packs of their own. I assumed they were inserts. In a five-card pack, I pulled Nolan Ryan and Frank Thomas. And probably some ‘roiders, I can’t remember now.

Griffey All-Star

Henke

Art cards will always be my weakness. I’m not sure why I picked up a pack of 1992 Score, but I was happy to pull these bad boys.

Ryan

Henderson

Also from the same 1992 Score pack.

Thome

There it is. I knew there had to be something cool showing on the top of a 1992 Score pack for me to buy it, even at only fifty cents. Jim Thome is the man.

Dennys

Kirby Puckett from 1996 Pinnacle Denny’s. Not sure why I bought this one-card pack. Oh well, at least it’s a Hall of Famer.

Double Headers

Double Header

I have always wanted some Double Headers, but have never seen them in person. Vince Coleman is from 1990, while Wade Boggs and Andre Dawson are from 1989.

Brett

candy

Think this candy is still good from 1991?

buttons

Finally, a couple of 1990 Baseball Buttons. I already have several of these, so I probably shouldn’t have bought them, but it was only fifty cents.

Topps Now ignored the biggest opportunity of the season

Jake Arrieta‘s no-hitter was awesome. Max Scherzer‘s 20-strikeout performance was epic. But neither of those events approached the magnitude of “The Punch.” After a supposedly “dirty slide,” Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor clocked Toronto superstar Jose Bautista and Twitter absolutely EXPLODED. Everyone was talking about “The Punch,” putting both a positive and negative spin on it. Even non-baseball fans were engaging in the discussion. IT WAS GREAT.

The record for most Topps Now cards sold so far is 8,826, featuring 42-year old Bartolo Colon hitting his first big league homer. No other card has reached a print run 4,000. Only two others have sold more than 2,000 (Max Scherzer and Noah Syndergaard). I am confident that “The Punch” would have exceeded 10,000 orders. It was an exciting play, and whether you like Odor or Bautista or not, it generated baseball discussion and interest in the sport.

To me, it was a throwback. It immediately made me think of the Eric Davis/Ray Knight scuffle in 1986. Others made reference to the Will Clark/Jose Oquendo/Ozzie Smith fight in 1988. Perhaps the most famous fight between a fielder and runner happened in 1973 when Pete Rose and Bud Harrelson went at it during the 1973 NLCS. And who can forget the time Nolan Ryan hit Robin Ventura with the ball, and then put him in a headlock and went to town when Ventura charged the mound? Twitter wasn’t around during any of those fights, but they persist in our memories. Topps Now didn’t exist back then either, and to my knowledge Topps never created a card to immortalize these fights. But today, with on-demand ordering, the opportunity was there…and Topps did nothing.

Has there ever been a fight depicted on a Topps card? Topps employee Sooz (@yanxchick) asked this question on Twitter, and so far no one has come up with an actual baseball card showing a fight. There was a hockey card in the 1970s, and several fan-made creations, but nothing official from Topps baseball.

I don’t blame Topps. They want to promote a good image for baseball, and bench-clearing brawls don’t exactly do that. But they are exciting. And where Topps is silent, bloggers and Tweeters are loud and sometimes obnoxious. Here are a few of the Odor v. Bautista cards that I saw floating around yesterday:

Of course, the 2016 TWJ set doesn’t shy away from violence on the basepaths either. One of my favorite GameCube games is MLB SlugFest 2003, so of course I wanted to include a card of “The Punch” in the TWJ set. You can see a slightly larger version at TWJ cards on tumblr, along with more than 80 other 2016 TWJ baseball cards.

Chris Archer K-Counter Bobblehead and a brief recap of my weekend in Florida

Bobblehead

I mentioned a couple of days ago that I went to a Tampa Bay Rays game on Saturday. As a friend said, I was making lemonade this past weekend. I was presented with an opportunity to attend a pretty awesome music festival in Orlando, and booked a non-refundable airline ticket and hotel room. Much to my chagrin, the concert was cancelled. Since I couldn’t recoup my expenses, I decided to make the most of the situation. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

I rented a car for the weekend and made the trek from Orlando to Tampa (actually St. Petersburg) Saturday night to catch the Rays host the Toronto Blue Jays. Not only did I get to see a pretty spectacular game, complete with Jose Bautista and Evan Longoria longballs and a walk-off bottom-of-the-ninth hit, but I got to take home this very awesome Chris Archer “K-Counter” bobblehead. I’m not really a bobblehead collector, but I don’t turn them down when offered, and I love being able to take something home with me after I go to a ballgame.

Not only did I see a great ballgame and take home a cool souvenir, I also visited a pretty sweet museum called the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame. The museum is located in the centerfield area of Tropicana Field.

display

Several all-time greats are featured including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Hank Aaron.

display

There are also a number of guys who are in the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame who have not made it to Cooperstown—at least, not yet—like Alan Trammell, Pete Rose, and George Foster. It was cool to see all of this baseball history on display.

Williams

DonaldsonI also got to see one of my favorite American League players, last year’s Most Valuable Player, Josh Donaldson. Even if I think his haircut is quite ridiculous, he is fun to watch. And I did enjoy hearing all the Tampa fans mocking his rat tail.

I sat next to a gentleman from British Columbia, and was very entertained by his accent and constant use of “eh?” at the end of each sentence. I always though comedians exaggerated the whole “eh?” stereotype, but it’s really true how much some Canadians use it. It was difficult not to laugh every time he said it, but I managed.

I did have a smile on my face nearly the whole game. It was just such a neat experience, although really weird to watch a baseball game played indoors. And I got to cross another major league stadium off my list. I have now seen a game in nine current parks (Baltimore, Boston, Tampa, Chicago AL, Washington, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Chicago NL, and Cincinnati), and seven that are no longer with us (New York AL, Chicago AL, Cleveland, Detroit, New York NL, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati).

After the game, I drove back to Orlando. On Sunday I visited a local church and ate supper with a cousin I don’t believe I had previously met. She grew up in Florida, and said her family did come to Ohio once when she was younger, so it’s possible we met way back then, but neither of us can remember for sure. It was great to connect with her on a non-Facebook level.

On Monday, I killed time by walking around the Florida Mall and stopping by a baseball card shop. They didn’t have any dime or quarter boxes, but they did have fifty-cent packs. I’ll show off a few of those cards in a future post.

baseball cards

2015 ex-Reds, 1990 Score style: Dioner Navarro

Navarro

One of several former Reds to appear in the 2015 postseason, Dioner Navarro only mustered one hit in 13 at-bats between the ALDS and ALCS. He was an All-Star for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, but has since been relegated to backup duties for Russell Martin in Toronto. He has already played for six teams in his 12-year career, including two stints with the Dodgers (2005-2006 and 2011). As a free agent, it will be interesting to see if he lands somewhere that can give him more playing time in 2016.

Baseball Stadiums 2016 Calendar published by TF Publishing

Baseball Stadiums Calendar

Baseball Stadiums 2016 Calendar
published by TF Publishing, 2015

Now that October has arrived, it is time to admit that Christmas is just around the corner. Yes, we have to get through Halloween and Thanksgiving first, but it is never too soon to start thinking about what gifts you will be buying for others. One small gift that is timeless is the calendar. Whether you go with the daily boxed variety, or the monthly hang-on-the-wall calendar, everyone needs to know what day it is at some point.

Perfect Timing publishes a wide variety of calendars, including this very nice Baseball Stadiums 2016 Calendar. Twelve ballparks are featured, including such vital statistics as home team, opening date, dimensions, capacity, and playing surface. The twelve parks are Busch (St. Louis), AT&T (San Francisco), Fenway (Boston), Citi (New York Mets), PNC (Pittsburgh), Great American (Cincinnati), Yankee (New York Yankees), Wrigley (Chicago Cubs), Chase (Arizona), Comerica (Detroit), Rogers (Toronto), and Dodger (Los Angeles). The calendar measures 11.8×23.4 when hung on the wall, showing the stadium of the month; the calendar portion has plenty of room to jot down appointment and meeting reminders in the blocks.

Learn more about TF Publishing.

Purchase Baseball Stadiums 2016 Calendar published by Perfect Timing.

The great shortstop swap

I love the trade deadline, the rumors and the big deals. While I hated to see Johnny Cueto leave Cincinnati, I’m glad he went to a great team in Kansas City. But that move was expected. I never expected to see Troy Tulowitzki in a uniform other than Colorado’s.

Both Tulo and Jose Reyes made their debuts for their new teams yesterday. And of course, I grabbed some images from news sites to make baseball cards of the pair in their new duds. No Photoshopping here…this is the real deal on virtual cardboard.

Jose  Reyes Rockies

Reyes was 1-for-3 in his Colorado debut, with a single, a stolen base, and a walk. He was also caught stealing. How long will he be wearing a purple uniform? There are already rumors floating around that he could be headed elsewhere, and if that time comes, a new TWJ card will be created. But for now, he’s the mile high shortstop.

Tulowitzki Blue Jays

Tulowitzki wowed his new team, going 3-for-5 with a home run and two doubles, driving in three runs and scoring three himself. His slugging percentage in Canada is 1.600. Of course, he won’t keep that up the rest of the season, but it’s a mighty impressive first game in Toronto.

You can check out all of the 2015 TWJ “revamped” series virtual baseball cards at TWJ cards on tumblr.

2015 ex-Reds, 1990 Score style: Jake Elmore (Tampa Bay Rays), Edwin Encarnacion (Toronto Blue Jays), Yonder Alonso (San Diego Padres)

The Reds are absolutely horrible right now. After leading the Padres 7-3 yesterday, Tony Cingrani gave up a grand slam and then Jumbo Diaz allowed a couple more runs to score…and another loss went in the books. Seriously, if your offense scores seven runs, you oughtta be able to win a few games!!! My frustration level is beyond belief right now. So let’s look at a couple of guys that used to be Redlegs…

Jake Elmore

First we have Jake Elmore, who is currently employed by the Tampa Bay Rays. Elmore was drafted by the Marlins in 2007, but did not sign. He was then drafted in 2008 by the Diamondbacks, and he made his big league debut with Arizona in 2012. After that season, he was selected off waivers by the Astros, and played the 2013 campaign in Houston. He was then selected off waivers by the White Sox, who sold him to Oakland. But he did not make a big league appearance in 2014 until September with the Reds, who had selected him off waivers from the A’s. Granted free agency on November 4, 2014, the Reds signed him on November 5, but then on November 7 he was selected off waivers by the Pirates. Elmore was again granted free agency in February—why the Pirates took him in the first place no one will ever know—and signed with the Tampa Bay Rays.

This is not Elmore’s only custom card in the world. He is also featured in the very cool TSR set, as a SuperStar Special card no less.

Edwin Encarnacion

Continuing with guys whose last name starts with the letter “E,” we have Toronto superstar Edwin Encarnacion. His stats are down a bit this year, but he’s still driving the ball far and flipping his bat like a pro.

And I have just realized that I skipped over three other ex-Reds that I already made cards for but haven’t posted yet, including Yonder Alonso, who hit that grand slam yesterday to tie the game against the Reds. GRRRRRRRR…

Yonder Alonso

Full Count: Four Decades of Blue Jays Baseball by Jeff Blair (2014)

Full Count

Full Count: Four Decades of Blue Jays Baseball
by Jeff Blair
Vintage Canada, 2014
288 pages

The only major league baseball team currently playing outside the continental United States, the Toronto Blue Jays are often overlooked by the average baseball fan. With a history full of underrated players like Dave Stieb and a wealth of disappointment—save 1992 and 1993—the Blue Jays just don’t hold the fan’s imagination like their division rivals, the Yankees or Red Sox. The premise of Full Count by Jeff Blair, to present a history of the franchise, is a good one. But it fails in that it barely mentions the team or its players prior to the championship teams of the 1990s. Some of the franchise’s most recognizable names from the 1980s—Jimmy Key, Jesse Barfield, Lloyd Moseby—are mentioned only once, and that in passing. Instead of “Four Decades of Blue Jays Baseball,” the focus is more on 1992 to the present.

Blair closely examines a lot of the business dealings, almost to a fault. There are excellent chapters on Roberto Alomar and his Hall of Fame career, Joe Carter and his home run off Mitch Williams, and Blair wraps up the book with a look at the team’s current Canadian talent, Brett Lawrie. Those are some of the most enjoyable chapters in the book, written in an easy-going, conversational tone. In between all that, however, the managers, general managers, and other administrative personnel are profiled. Trades are picked apart, and front office hiring decisions are dissected. A lot of good background information, but I for one would have rather read about the product that took the field more than the men behind the scenes.

Learn more about Vintage Canada.

Purchase Full Count: Four Decades of Blue Jays Baseball by Jeff Blair.

Fun Cards Submissions: First pitches (part 2)

Here’s a few more first pitch “fun cards” from TWJ contributor Patrick…

Geddy Lee first pitch

I love how he decided to use an O-Pee-Chee card for Canadian rock legend Geddy Lee.

There are a couple more after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry

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