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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.

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Fun Cards: 1985 Topps All-Star Zack Cozart

Ladies and gentlemen, your starting shortstop for the National League All-Stars, Zack Cozart

Cozart

All smiles on Opening Day

Smiles

A stack of random Reds arrived in my mailbox today from the Night Owl…a perfect way to start the season. Well, a win plus baseball cards would be the perfect way. Night Owl and the Reds just worked together and made my day today.

Opening Day is a holiday in Cincinnati. I didn’t have to work today, but didn’t feel like going down to the park for the game. I’ve been watching a few innings here and there of some out-of-market games, and have listened to some of the Reds-Phillies broadcast, and I’m enjoying it all in my comfortable recliner.

I also enjoyed going through some of the cards that Greg sent. In addition to the Brandon Phillips, Mariano Duncan, Ted Power, and Chris Sabo cards above, Greg delivered Joey Votto, Zack Cozart, Jay Bruce, Rob Dibble, and more.

Votto

Cozart

Cozart

Bruce

Dibble

Reds

Thank you for the cards Greg! And now, if I could just find some time to update my wantlists

2015 Reds, 1990 Score style: Zack Cozart

005 Zack Cozart

The weak link in the Reds’ offense is shortstop Zack Cozart, but his above-average defensive abilities make up for his lackluster hitting. His production dropped even more last year than expected, down from 12 home runs and 63 RBI in 2013 to just 4 longballs and 38 driven in. Despite the low numbers, his WAR was still 2.4, thanks in large part to his contributions with the glove.

Why is it so difficult to get going again after vacation?

I took a week off from work last week, and it was nice. We didn’t do a whole lot, other than go to St. Louis for a day, but it was nice to go about my day without the hustle and bustle of actual work. This Monday it was a real chore getting out of bed to go back. Tuesday, believe it or not, was even harder.

Why is it so difficult to get going again after vacation? I have now worked two full shifts and a partial overtime shift since coming back, and am scheduled to work this weekend. But I really really really don’t want to go.

The blog has also suffered a bit this week. I scheduled a bunch of posts for last week while I was off, and still had internet access so could get on and do a little housekeeping. But I did not prepare anything for this week, and honestly haven’t been in the mood to get back into gear. I still have a few books to read and review, but most of my reading is done at work during downtime, so when I’m not at work, I don’t read as much. Thus, no book reviews this week. (There will definitely be at least two next week, though.)

Despite my apathy in working and posting, however, it is nice to receive cards in the mail, and even nicer that they don’t get abused and destroyed when they are left sitting in a mailbin for several days waiting for me to get them. Night Owl Cards sent nine cards from the 2013 Topps Opening Day set to me last week, and they were still in mint condition when I ripped open the package.

2013 Topps Opening Day Cincinnati Reds

I needed six of the cards, and my youngest son didn’t have the other three yet, so all nine are going into binders in the house.

If it’s so difficult for me, a regular guy, to go back to work after just a week off, I wonder how difficult it is for baseball players when they have several months off in the winter?

Also, a reminder that I’m putting together a list of bloggers (and other collectors) to send out occasional PWEs. If you send me your address and favorite team, I’ll add you to the list. I may not send as often as others do, but I really need to get rid of some cards!

Fun Cards: 1981 Donruss Zack Cozart

1981 Donruss Cozart

I’m really excited about the return of Donruss this year. Even though they are unlicensed, I like what I have seen on the blogs. There is a definite 1987 feel in the design, along with a touch of 1978 Topps with the city in the bottom left corner. I also like the inserts, from the “No-No’s” in the style of 1991 Donruss to the Power Plus with a hint of 1985 Action All-Stars in the border. I don’t have any of these in-hand yet, but am looking forward to adding them to my collection more than Topps.

I’m also really excited about the 2014 Reds team. Bryan Price is bringing a different philosophy to the team, and so far the players seem to be responding to him. Hitting coach Don Long is working with those who struggled last year, changing some stances and hand positions. It’s no longer good enough to make the playoffs; they are expected to do more.

Shortstop Zack Cozart needs to step up his game. He’s a decent fielder, but the team needs more offensive production from both him and third baseman Todd Frazier. I do not believe Cozart is the long-term shortstop for the Reds; he already seems to be in a decline at age 28 and it is doubtful he will ever make an All-Star team. But he is the best we have at the moment, and we need to get the most out of him while he’s here.

Photoset: Cincinnati Reds vs. Milwaukee Brewers (September 25, 2012 @ Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati OH)

2012 NL Central Champs

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Game 99

When the Reds score 4 or more runs, they generally win. Zack Cozart, Fred Lewis, and Drew Stubbs all went deep against the Braves. Bronson Arroyo couldn’t take advantage of the offensive support last night, however, giving up homers to Jason Heyward, Brian McCann, and Martin Prado. Arroyo, however, didn’t get the loss. That dishonor goes to none other than Nick Masset, who also gave up a home run to Dan Uggla in the 9th.

Game 95

Zack Cozart hit his first major league home run and Homer Bailey held the Cardinals to only one run over seven innings (a Lance Berkman homer).

Fun with Pixlr

If you haven’t played with Pixlr‘s vintage effects yet, you’re missing out.

Saturday, the Reds and Brewers wore Negro League uniforms from the 1920s and 1930s, so I took one of those photos and ran it through a few effects on Pixlr-O-Matic, and voilà…

That’s Zack Cozart turning the double play as Josh Wilson slides into second. But it looks so old! I love it!

Here’s the original for comparison’s sake:

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