Monday, May 27, 2019

The Trading Post #130: Chavez Ravining

If I were to ask you who scored the winning run for the Rockies in their 8-7 win Sunday over the Orioles, who would you guess? Charlie Blackmon? No, he last played Thursday and just hit the Injured List with a calf injury. What about their superstars like Nolan Arenado or Trevor Story? Actually no, although they both reached career home run milestones over the weekend, which we'll touch on later. Could it be someone from their crop of homegrown youngsters, such as McMahon, Rodgers, or Tapia? Nope, sorry.

2017 Topps Fire Green #58 Jeff Hoffman /199
Of all people, it was Jeff Hoffman, who was called up on Friday to start against Baltimore. The O's, by the way, were making their first trip to Denver since the 2004 season. Hoffman did make it five innings but took a no decision.

So what the heck was a starting pitcher doing in the 9th inning two days later? I can't be exactly sure, but he pinch-ran for Daniel Murphy in the final inning, and ended up scoring on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Tony Wolters.

Alex from Chavez Ravining included a couple Jeff Hoffman cards as part of a recent trade. Along with Hoffman's yellowish Flame parallel from 2017 Topps Fire, he also sent this Green parallel, numbered to 199. Not only is the Green less common, but longtime readers know that it's basically my favorite color to find on a baseball card.

2017 Topps Fire Golden Grabs Gold Minted #GG-18 George Springer
A few non-Rockies made it into the trade by virtue of their shininess. As usual, Topps Fire printed up a few insert sets for 2017, including this 20-card Golden Grabs set, documenting some of the best catches from across the league. George Springer of the Astros made it in thanks to this snag from May 19th, 2016, which robbed Jose Abreu of a trip around the bases.

This yellowish color signifies it as a Gold Minted parallel, a very appropriate color for an Astros card. It looks a lot like Hoffman's Flame card, though without any refractor action.

2017 Topps Fire Walk It Off Gold Minted #WO-11 Mark Trumbo
We're seeing something pretty similar on Mark Trumbo's Walk It Off card, another Gold Minted variety from a 15-card insert set. Trumbo, who led the Majors in home runs in 2016, has yet to appear in a game this year while recovering from knee surgery. Speaking of the Orioles, he still plays for them, and this card documents his extra-inning heroics on Opening Day 2017.

2018 Topps Chrome Update Pink Refractors #HMT96 Charlie Blackmon
Advancing a year to 2018 Topps Chrome, here's another card with the "HMT" prefix, which I am still trying to figure out. Charlie Blackmon joined Trevor Story in Washington, D.C. on the NL All-Star squad last year. He was mic'd up for a fun inning in center field, but didn't do as well at the plate as Story did, going 0-3.

The All-Star logo is visible on the waterslide, but unlike the card Julie sent, this one is a colored parallel. It's the second time this background color threw me off, as I kept checking Beckett for a Purple parallel. Officially, it's Pink, which is precisely the line of reasoning I went down the last time I saw one of Charlie Blackmon's 2018 Chrome cards.

2018 Topps Chrome Sepia Refractors #141 Starlin Castro
I may not be able to tell the difference between pink and purple, but I know the art of photography well enough to identify this as a Sepia parallel. Topps helpfully labelled this as a Refractor, a bonus not offered to collectors of the Update version of 2018 Chrome. The presence of that label has always varied from year to year, but I can't remember it varying between sets in the same year.

Starlin Castro had his own extra-innings success during 2017, helping the Yankees sink his former team, the Cubs, in 18 innings thanks to a fielder's choice gone awry. The marathon contest on Sunday Night Baseball featured 48 strikeouts between the two clubs, more than Tony Gwynn had in his worst year.

2019 Topps Heritage #242 Ian Desmond
That sepia-toned card is a great segue into some retro Topps Heritage. This one of Ian Desmond will go nicely with the rest of my 2019 Heritage collection. In fact, I saved a spot in the 9-pocket page for this card. The 1970-themed set does a great job at reenacting some of the more famous cards from the original set, but I don't know of any 1970 card that appears to show a small pile of snow at the shadowy base of the outfield wall. It tends to snow well into May here in Colorado, so I know snow when I see it. Desmond looks really bundled up, too, although this is probably a Cactus League shot.

There are walk-offs referenced all over these cards, and before he took over center field duties from Charlie Blackmon this year, he walked off the Padres on August 23rd, 2018, a 2-out, 2-run shot into the left field bleachers.

Desmond's long career, which reached the 10-season mark last year, consisted of precisely 4,999 at bats when the 2018 season ended. Topps noticed that statistical anomaly, and was sure to point out that his next at-bat would be #5,000. That AB came just a couple months ago, obviously on Opening day 2019 in Miami. He grounded out to short.

2017 Topps Heritage #628 Tony Wolters
Another regular fixture in the Rockies lineup this year is Tony Wolters, who hit his first home run of 2019 last week in Pittsburgh. He's often down at the bottom of the order, but has come up with quite a few key hits this season, including that sacrifice fly that allowed Jeff Hoffman to trot home.

His 2017 Topps Heritage card even mentions sacrifices in its trivia question, asking which Rockie led the NL in 2004. The answer is Royce Clayton, who hasn't appeared on this blog as a Rockie except in a cameo. Also on this card is a rare close-up of a catcher's mitt, plus Wolters's goatee. He's changed it up this year, sporting a pretty awesome mustache.

2017 Topps Heritage High Number Topps Game Rookies #10 Raimel Tapia
It took me a little while to figure out who was depicted on this Topps Heritage insert card, but eventually I realized it was Raimel Tapia, who has been starting in left field most of this season, and performing quite well defensively. This one is part of a 15-card insert set found in the High Number release, which accompanies another 15 cards just like it in the base set. It's a throwback to 1968 Topps Game insert cards, an early example of an insert set. The original '68 insert set is filled with Hall of Famers, including Rod Carew, Hank Aaron, a late-career Mickey Mantle, and Carl Yastrzemski, whose grandson got his first MLB hit on Sunday, and was then picked off seconds later.

I'm not too familiar with the original version of 1968 Topps Game, so I'm going to assume that the red back with a nondescript playing card pattern is a faithful reproduction.

2017 Stadium Club Members Only #244 Raimel Tapia
The other Tapia card Alex sent actually included the player's name, rather than a mostly illegible signature. Sharp-eyed readers will also notice a "Members Only" seal in the lower right, just my second one from this super-rare variety. There's no serial number, but it's generally thought that there are around seven copies printed.

On top of all that, an extremely rare rookie card of a current Rockie from my favorite annual set, it also happens to be a Coors Field card. Doesn't really get much better than this.

Except of course when Tapia gets a walkoff hit in the bottom of the 11th on Memorial Day to drive in Ian Desmond.

2017 Topps Allen & Ginter Relics #FSRB-TS Trevor Story B (MEM)
Relic cards are always pretty fun, and there were a couple of those, too. Taking a quick jump back to retro-style sets, Topps gave Trevor Story a relic card in 2017 Allen & Ginter, complete with a black pinstripe. The Rockies relics I have usually feature purple pinstripes, but there have been a few minor uniform changes at 20th and Blake in the past few seasons.

I mentioned earlier that Story and Arenado reached home run milestones over the weekend. Story's first home run on Friday night was the 100th of his career, and no shortstop in history has reached that mark so quickly. That homer was a long one to the top of the bleachers. He wasted no time at all hitting his 101st, which was an opposite-field walkoff in his very next at-bat.

This is a walkoff-heavy post, perhaps a record-setting one on the blog.

2018 Topps Walmart Holiday Snowflake Relics #R-NA Nolan Arenado (MEM)
Remember what I was saying earlier about snow hitting Colorado in May? That happened earlier this month, but it didn't faze Nolan Arenado at all. His snowy home runs are quite appropriate for this wintry holiday card, a Wal-Mart exclusive. No pinstripe to be found here; instead its an all-purple swatch. Alex even sent these over in thick toploaders, tailor-made for relic cards. And let's not forget that Nolan just hit a milestone of his own, his 200th career home run on Saturday, which I had the privilege to witness.

The first time Alex sent cards was long ago, way back in 2014 on The Trading Post #3. The names may have changed, but the theme is similar. All that time ago, I was still admiring shiny cards and discussing the presence of the Refractor label on Topps card backs. I'd like to think my writing has improved, at least.

Thanks very much, Alex! And here's to more walk-off wins.


  1. I don’t really care for Topps Fire, but that green parallel mixed with the purple for the Rockies really looks nice.
    That Members Only Tapia is really cool, too. I hadn’t heard of those, only First Day Issue cards.
    Im also loving the Snowflake relic card. Wish Topps wouldve made a separate design for the relics with the previous versions of the set instead of making it in the base design

  2. That gold George Springer is amazing!!!!!

  3. Glad you enjoyed the cards, Adam!