Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Trading Post #84: Jaybarkerfan's Junk

Anytime you see a package on its way to you from Hazel Green, Ala., you know that some goodies are on their way from Jaybarkerfan's Junk. The creator of the #Supertraders group made sure that all his readers were able to get in on some holiday trading action. He ran what he called a Trade-a-Thon in November, offering each reader the chance to claim up to five cards throughout the two-week process. I claimed four, and even with the bonus pack he threw in, this will be a rare post without any Rockies.

2008 UD Masterpieces #5 Max Scherzer (RC)
Upper Deck Masterpieces is an absolutely beautiful set. 2008 was the second of only two years that UD printed this product. Even with short prints, it's only a 120-card checklist, but they did an absolutely terrific job selecting players for the set. Max Scherzer, who had no Major League experience when this card was printed, has gone on to win two Cy Young Awards, and he threw two no-hitters in 2015. The first of those was only a pitch away from being a perfect game, but one pitch got a little bit away from him, Jose Tabata leaned into it, and Scherzer had to settle for a no-hitter.

It's a heck of a card to get your Rookie Card logo on. Upper Deck couldn't know how dominant he would become, and we've all seen our share of busted prospects, but things worked out really well for this card, and more importantly, for Max Scherzer.

2010 Bowman Prospects Black #BP1 Stephen Strasburg
Scherzer spent the majority of his career so far in Detroit, but now shares the rotation with Stephen Strasburg on the Washington Nationals. Strasburg was the most hyped pitching prospect in recent memory, drawing comparisons to Mark Fidrych. Watching his debut back in 2010 was quite impressive, as he struck out fourteen Pirates in his first-ever start. Unfortunately, he needed Tommy John surgery shortly after that, but he's settled into a groove in the Nats' pitching staff. The Nationals have had a pretty terrifying rotation ever since his debut, fielding guys like Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister, Jordan Zimmerman, etc....

Of course, this card itself has quite the story behind it. Strasburg mania was in full force in late spring 2010, and there was finally a Bowman gold mine out there. They print cards of virtually every young prospect out there, many of whom never make it to the Majors. But Strasburg's First Bowman Card was the rare item that briefly brought baseball cards back into the national spotlight. His /1 Superfractor parallel of this Bowman card was found in 2010, and promptly spiraled to a five-figure sale price on eBay. Just months later, it changed hands again for $25k. The national media didn't miss that story, and I'm sure that millions of Americans that hadn't paid attention to the hobby for years or even decades got a crash course in the existence of parallels, printing plates, and /1 products.

The above is a parallel itself, the black-bordered variety. Bowman's base Prospect set that year actually used a white border, saving the black borders for a parallel set.

So while I don't have the Superfractor that's worth as much as a new car, I am able to add a parallel to my collection that reminds me of the Strasburg Fever that gripped the nation in 2010.

2004 Fleer InScribed #80 Tom Seaver RET /1000
Fleer made a lot of sets in their final few years of existence. I thought I had seen most of them, but this Inscribed set is new to my eyes. 2004 was the only year of this set, but it's pretty striking. The thick black border has a matte finish with some silver foil (including that serial number). The background of the photo is also matte, but the player's image itself is glossy. It's a minimalist design, and all the right elements catch the light, while others fade into the background. The "Inscribed" logo at the top isn't my favorite, but I'd be interested in finding more of these.

Only the ten retired players in this set got the /1000 serial number, and all ten of those are Hall of Famers. There were also fifteen rookies rounding out the main set at a print run of /750, containing a few recognizable names like Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, and Kevin Youkilis.

Seaver had a long, Hall-of-Fame worthy career, but this card only had room for five seasons. Fleer featured his early time on the Mets for this card, giving us stats from 1969 through 1973. During that time, he led the league in strikeouts and ERA three times, somehow managing to miss out on the Cy Young Award for two of those seasons. During that same span, he appeared in two World Series, winning one, was an All-Star in each of those five seasons, and might have gotten into the Hall on those five seasons alone, not even counting the other fifteen seasons he pitched.

Not sure if Strasburg will join Seaver in the Hall of Fame, but I like Scherzer's chances.

1992 Triple Play Gallery #GS-11 Cal Ripken, Jr.
It wasn't all pitchers in this package. I have a soft spot for these early-1990s Donruss insert cards after they finally decided to evolve their design a bit. Cal Ripken, Jr. was definitely one of my favorite players when he was still active. I didn't get to see much of him at all, since it was pretty tough to see American League games back then, especially before Interleague Play. The All Star Game was usually the only time he'd make a TV appearance in my household. Cable, not to mention MLB.TV, has really changed things.

Of course, this card mentions his streak of consecutive games played, a record he'd break about three seasons later, toward the end of 1995. I remember being in sixth grade when that happened, and that many of my classmates chose the occasion to feature in their "Current Events" presentations to the class.

Ripken wasn't just known for his longevity, like Omar Vizquel or Jamie Moyer. He was darn talented out there, winning two MVP awards in his career, and making the All-Star team every year from 1983 until his retirement in 2001. He even hit a first-pitch homer in that 2001 All-Star Game in Seattle.

Not a bad way for one of my favorite all-time players to wrap up a legendary career.

1986 Sportflics #8 Cal Ripken, Jr.
My fellow Supertrader didn't stop there though. He even threw in an unopened pack of cards for his Trade-a-Thon participants, and I ended up with a pack of 1986 Sportflics. I bought some of the 1994 product, but I didn't really know this brand went back further than that. I might have a card or two from the 1990 set, but definitely none this old.

Of course, these never scan well, but the lenticular printing process on this card allows for one of three images to be visible, depending on how the card is tilted. A much younger Ripken, only several hundred games into his streak, gets one headshot and two action shots at the plate. I'm sure he sat a few late innings later in the streak, but at the time of printing, he hadn't sat a single inning in 603 games. That's nearly 5,500 straight innings!

There were a couple of miniature trivia cards in here, a little smaller than those World Series History lenticular insert cards from 1991 Score. On these, we learn that Ernie Banks holds the NL Record for most Grand Slams in a single season, with 5. Albert Pujols has since tied that NL mark, and a couple AL'ers even surpassed it with 6. Travis Hafner did it about a decade ago, as did Don Mattingly just a year after this was printed. The other Trivia card is about Mike Schmidt, then the active player with the most Gold Glove awards.

1986 Sportflics #179 1985 Gold Glove
I found this final card to be quite interesting, and I assumed that these Sportflics cards just displayed two images like they did in 1994, until I looked more closely. This is something like a League Leader card, but riffing off of the second trivia card, they picked six 1985 Gold Glovers to feature. The three photos on the top (Don Mattingly, George Brett, and Keith Hernandez) are posed shots, while the three on the bottom (Willie McGee, Ron Guidry, and Dale Murphy) are action photos. My scanner preferred to show Brett and Guidry, plus a ghostly inclusion of McGee's bat.

By the way, the presence of Dale Murphy makes this ever-so-slightly a Rockies post, as the two-time MVP signed as a free agent with the Rockies in 1993 and played 26 games for them before retiring.

Anyway, these six players all led a statistic in 1985, as well as an award for defensive excellence. Every position has a Gold Glove winner (sometimes co-winners), so there's no mention of thirteen other players, unlike what we might see on a more traditional League Leaders card.

Keith Hernandez led the NL in Game-Winning RBIs in 1985, a statistic that isn't tracked anymore. There was quite a bit of debate about whom to actually credit with a GW-RBI (the back of 1987 Topps went wild over this stat). A walkoff hit is easy enough to figure out, but when your team takes the lead by three in the 7th, for example, but ends up only winning by one, the GW-RBI went to the player that took the lead, not the player that padded the cushion enough.

To my mind, that sounds pretty much the same as how a winning pitcher is determined. All a team has to do is keep a lead to ensure a pitcher gets the win. It can be a cat-and-mouse game all night, but as long as the lower-scoring team doesn't at least tie it, the pitcher of record remains the same. I'm sure better statisticians than I can explain the nuances of why tracking Wins that way is fine, but GW-RBIs isn't. But I digress.

When the statistic existed, no one had more than Keith Hernandez, thanks in large part to his 1985 performance. And we definitely just went down a statistical rabbit hole there, but they're an integral part of baseball, now more than ever.

Just like trading is an integral part of card collecting.

No comments:

Post a Comment