Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Trading Post #77: Sportscards from the Dollar Store

To coincide with the beginning of Postseason baseball, I've received a small flurry of #Supertrader packages. This one came from the Great White North, sent by Sportscards from the Dollar Store. He's one of the few Supertraders that I still need to send something to. Shipping to Canada is always a bit of a challenge, but I'll find something for him soon.

1995 Bowman's Best #B88 Doug Million
The shiniest card in the package was this Bowman's Best card of former Rockies prospect pitcher Doug Million. Sadly, this card might have been better suited to my previous post on Jose Fernandez, as Million died at the young age of 21 from an asthma attack before he ever made a Major League appearance. Whether he'd have found success as a pitcher in Coors Field will forever be an unknown, but if that tragedy hadn't occurred, pitching in the Mile High City might have a different reputation.

2016 Stadium Club #117 Charlie Blackmon
Hitters have always done better at Coors Field than pitchers, and Charlie Blackmon is no exception. This is a fantastic close-up of his beard on 2016 Stadium Club, and leads off a selection of horizontal cards in this post. I wouldn't expect anything less from Stadium Club. Blackmon has been great in the leadoff role for the Rockies, offering a great mix of power and speed. Center field is a good spot for him, which gives Dexter Fowler an opportunity to shine in the Postseason for the Cubs.

There are ex-Rockies on most of the teams that qualified for the playoffs. So far, I've seen Fowler, Drew Pomeranz, Ubaldo Jimenez, Charlie Culberson, Jose Reyes, and of course Troy Tulowitzki. They've all been doing well, except for Jimenez, who gave up the season-ending home run to the Blue Jays in the AL Wild Card game.

Though he's yet to appear in a Postseason game, I do wonder why Blackmon doesn't seal the Velcro on his batting gloves. But he went 6-for-6 on Opening Day 2014, and I never hit a home run in little league, so what do I know? But I did go 4-for-4 a time or two.

I didn't pull any Rockies in my Stadium Club value pack from Target, but fortunately I have a great group of traders to fill in the gaps.

2016 Bowman Prospects #BP90 Raimel Tapia
Raimel Tapia was one of the many late-season call-ups for the Rockies, and he looked quite promising, validating his rating as a top-ten prospect in the Rockies organization, right up there with David Dahl. If he becomes a star, I don't know what the Rockies will do with all those outfielders, but it's a nice problem to have.

That's the second look I've had at 2016 Bowman, and for once, I might actually remember this design. And yes, I'll admit that the strength of the Rockies farm system and my recall of recent Bowman designs may be related.

2012 Topps Golden Moments Series 2 #GM-16 Carlos Gonzalez
Carlos Gonzalez, in eight seasons with the Rockies, has had his share of walkoff hits. Topps picked one for this 2012 Golden Moments insert set, in keeping with their gold theme that year. This card features a contest between the Cubs and Rockies at the end of July 2010. The Cubs rallied to tie it late in the game, but Carlos Gonzalez took care of that on the first pitch in the bottom of the 9th, earning a Rockies win and a Topps insert card in the process. This card says nothing about it, but that walkoff homer right to a Cubs fan in the third deck meant CarGo hit for the cycle that day, the only time he's done so in his career.

Based on the video highlights, this photo is clearly from a different game. Probably a Mother's Day game judging from all that pink. Still, it was a great performance, one that Topps called "Better Luck Next Time" for the Cubs, which is something the Cubs and their fans are painfully familiar with. But the Cubs won over 100 games this season, and are doing well in the Postseason so far, winning both games at Wrigley to begin their NLDS.

2007 Upper Deck #314 Aaron Cook
Aaron Cook, second overall in career wins for the Rockies, was the steward of #28 before Nolan Arenado got to wear it. One of the between-innings entertainment options at Coors Field this season was a uniform number challenge, where a fan on the scoreboard was presented with a series of five uniform numbers, and had to come up with any Rockie, past or present, who wore those numbers. There was often an easy one, #17 or #10 maybe, then usually one of the players who had just trotted off the field. But the last two or three were darn tough, and I did pretty poorly in playing along with that activity.

I did finally start getting the little three-card monte graphic they do around the third inning correct, but I had an abysmal streak of getting fooled by those in seasons prior. Lots to do between innings at Coors Field, once you're set on snacks and beers.

Aaron Cook is pitching in Coors Field in this 2007 Upper Deck card, with the Coca-Cola Front Row Seats visible past first base. That's another early-innings scoreboard diversion that can be found at the ballpark, where lucky fans in the first or second inning get to move into those field-level seats you see in the background. With a lefty on the hill, it'd be an even better deal.

2007 Upper Deck #307 Yorvit Torrealba
Both Cook and Yorvit Torreabla were members of the 2007 and 2009 Rockies, the last time they made successful runs at playoff spots. They both got horizontal cards in 2007 Upper Deck, a design that does well when rotated 90 degrees. The two columns on each long edge of the card make vertical shots feel "squeezed", or so goes the complaint about this design. It's a bit like the "salad tongs" 1999 Upper Deck set.

Torrealba, like his teammate Carlos Gonzalez, hails from Venezuela. There are a few hundred Major Leaguers in history that came from Venezuela, but ever since fan favorite Andres Galarraga, the Rockies seem to have fielded more than most.

1995 Leaf Great Gloves #5 Andres Galarraga
Speaking of the Big Cat, this insert from 1995 Leaf was my favorite of the whole package. The number is a bit weird, mixing numerals and words ("5 of sixteen") but that's a minor issue on a great card. the glove theme is obvious on the left, and Galarraga definitely had a Great Glove on the field for the Rockies. This card mentions the two Gold Gloves he won in Montreal. Surprisingly, he never won one with the Rockies or later in his career, despite his astonishing ability to dig short hops out of the dirt and stretch out just enough to get a runner speeding up the baseline.

Along with seeing the Rockies rack up a healthy collection of NL batting titles, which DJ LeMahieu did end up winning this year, watching the defensive abilities of the Rockies has been something that has kept my interest throughout my fandom. Galarraga was my favorite back then for his performance at first base. They've had some cannons in the outfield, including unexpected names like Jeromy Burnitz nestled among the obvious ones. Tulowitzki was brilliant at shortstop during his time in Denver, and yes, he took the same glove with him to Toronto. I'm sure I don't need to say much about Nolan Arenado and his magic at the hot corner. And the relative lack of defensive skill from Matt Holliday always drove me a little crazy.

In short, this is a very appropriate card for a Colorado Rockie. Batting titles and Gold Gloves are in abundance around here, and Galarraga has both awards to his name, as do numerous Rockies. In fact, other than the ex-Twins Cuddyer and Morneau, every Rockie to win a batting title has also won a Gold Glove, except, you guessed it, Matt Holliday.

Now if they could just get the pitching to click a bit more, I won't have to resort to watching ex-Rockies once the Postseason rolls around.


  1. I remember Doug Million.. he was on the Rockies' AA team in New Haven for a while. I lived in the NH area for 24 years and went to lots of Ravens games. I may have even seen him pitch.

    It might sound crazy to a true blue Rockies fan but I've always wondered why they don't just put a roof on Coors Field. It seems like no one has ever figured out how to pitch in the thin air (except Ubaldo Jimenez for that year and a half or so) and Rockies hitters are dismissed as having an "unfair" advantage even though playing home games in Denver is well within the rules.

    Anyway, I hope the Rox can build a winner around Blackmon, LeMaiheu, and CarGo. I'm getting tired of the Dodgers and Giants coming out the NL west every freakin year!

    The Collector

    1. Perhaps that could be a solution. But the sunsets you see beyond left field are unmatched. I'd love to see the Rockies win their division for once!