Sunday, September 9, 2018

Mom's 6-for-6 Day at the Thrift Store

Mom is always on the lookout for cards for my collection. When she's not simply referring to my Eight Men Out list, she's unearthing some gems at a card show. This past spring at my nephew's first birthday party, she presented me with a small envelope of cards obtained at a local thrift store. Surprisingly, even amazingly, each and every one of them is brand-new to my collection. That's not usually a feat even I can pull off. It's never been as bad as getting five copies of the same card at one show, but I inevitably end up with a few I already had.

Not so when Mom is shopping for me.

I had the good fortune to witness Charlie Blackmon go 6-for-6 at the Rockies' Home Opener in 2014, the very first day The Rooftop deck at Coors Field was opened to the public. Mike Trout had a 5-for-5 day yesterday, so let's take a look at what a perfect day at the plate looks like.

1997 Upper Deck #479 Jaime Bluma DD
First up is a subset from 1997 Upper Deck, a Diamond Debuts card of Jaime Bluma. I'd never heard of this reliever before, and it's actually a bit tough to tell which team he's on. The stack of golden diamonds on the right each contain a small "KC" (which scan better than they look), but I never really noticed them while this card was sitting on my side table all summer.

Bluma was a late-season call-up for the Royals in 1996, converting five saves in 17 relief appearances. He held promise, and the card back tells us all about those five saves, but Bluma didn't return to the big leagues in 1997 or any year after. Also on the back is a 1995 Fleer-esque thermal image of the front photo, as well as what ended up being his complete MLB stats.

It's unfortunate when your rookie card is also your sunset card. But those two months in late 1996 must remain unforgettable for Jaime Bluma.

1997 Upper Deck #381a Ruben Rivera CF
Clearly, Mom found a rich vein of 1997 Upper Deck subsets. This gold nugget, with a conspicuous absence of copper, UD's favorite metallic element, documents a key pinch-hit that Ruben Rivera delivered during the 1996 pennant race for the Yankees. His efforts helped them (and his cousin, Mariano Rivera) win their first World Series since 1978, even though he didn't end up on the ALCS or World Series roster.

Rivera did end up playing a World Series game at the old Yankee Stadium in 1998, but he came up on the losing end that year as a member of the San Diego Padres. After that, he wrapped his career up as a Giant, but not before going down in history by executing one of the worst displays of baserunning ever seen. Despite that TOOTBLAN, the Giants still managed to salvage a win in 13 innings, although the very next game would be the final one of Rivera's career.

Quite the contrast to his cousin's Hall of Fame-worthy career.

1997 Upper Deck #280 Greg Norton
More 1997 Upper Deck gives us a subset I was at least familiar with already, the shiny Star Rookies set. As with Bluma's card, there's a small shield in the lower left with the date of Greg Norton's debut with the White Sox, and it's less than two weeks after Bluma's. He earned an interesting distinction in that debut game, becoming just the second-ever Major Leaguer to get his first two hits in the same inning.

Some real star power coming up in the AL Central in August 1996, right?

Pardon my sarcasm, but if I had to pick a least-favorite Rockie of all-time, it would be Greg Norton. He was a nice enough guy, and looking back, his stats aren't that bad, but he didn't start a ton of games, and when they did put him in as a pinch-hitter, he always seemed to strike out at the worst possible times. I do recall a grand slam, which was so uncharacteristic that I still remember Greg Norton once hit a grand slam.

2000 Upper Deck #241 Fred McGriff
That taps out 1997 UD, but there's a bit more of that familiar copper to ease us into the new millennium with their 2000 set. We also get to see a much more familiar player in Fred McGriff, not quite a Hall-of-Famer, but an MVP, World Series champion, and five-time All-Star.

Tampa Bay kept the "Devil Rays" name for so short a time that it's quite strange to see their early cards. By now, they've been the Rays longer than they were the Devil Rays, so it's definitely a case of a team still trying to find their identity. Getting out of Tropicana Field would help, and they do have a proposal for a new stadium, which would open in 2023.

Mom told me she was hesitant to give me this card at first, due to what she called an "unflattering" pose. I told her it was fine; action sports sometimes generate slightly awkward positions. Just a little extra reassurance that I am happy to have this card in my collection, adding to a very small stack of 2000 UD.

1997 Pinnacle X-Press #21 Vinny Castilla
I have an even smaller stack of 1997 Pinnacle X-Press, and now I get to add another Rockie to it, the first one of this post.

No, we're not counting Greg Norton.

Pinnacle didn't have much time left in late 1997, but they were still putting out nice sets. The border of this card is a bit fragile, but I like the design, color coding, and slightly different shade of gold that Pinnacle often used compared to Topps and Upper Deck.

There's a nice action shot on the back of Castilla applying a tag at third base to #4 on the Montreal Expos, who happens to be Mark Grudzielanek. In my constant vigilance for Coors Field cards, the 1997s tend to feature a lot of Expos. I'm not quite sure why, especially because it crosses over lots of card brands. You'll see plenty once I finally manage to complete my Coors Field frankenset.

1995 Ultra #373 Marvin Freeman
The final card is another Rockie, and this is the only one I even thought might be in my collection already. I bought a handful of 1995 Ultra when it was new, or at least some was purchased on my behalf. It was a bit spendy for an 11-year old. But I knew I had most of the Rockies from this set.

For that matter, I opened plenty of 1997 UD, but that's just been Series 1, and the three at the top of the post are all from Series 2. Mom managed to find just the right ones across two different sets. 2000 UD and '97 Pinnacle X-Press were wide open, though.

Rockies jerseys haven't changed much throughout the years, but back in the early days of the franchise, especially when they shared Mile High Stadium with the Denver Broncos, they didn't have the uniform number below the letters on the left side, as they do now. I'm looking right at them on the TV now, although a lefty is on the hill as I write this. If the uniforms looked then like they do now, we would see a "44" near Freeman's gloved hand. Its a bit less informative, but a slightly cleaner look, especially on this properly cropped full-bleed card.

So there you have it. Six brand new cards that I didn't go looking for, without a single duplicate to omit or toss in the extras box.

That's what we call batting a thousand.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Trading Post #121: A Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts

Back in 2015, when it was unthinkable for the Rockies to be in a tie for first place at any point after April, I ran a contest for my 100th post. I was blogging much more consistently then, not squeezing in a single post at the end of the month like I've been doing all summer long. The winner of that contest was Jon, the writer of A Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts. Not long after, he sent a return package, #49 in The Trading Post series.

That history between Jon's blog and mine takes us up to about March of this year, when I spotted my ZIP code (yes, technically that's an acronym) on an outgoing mail post of his.

Yes, March. Meaning this group of beautiful, shiny Rockies cards has been sitting in the lower left area of my side table since the early days of Spring Training. And in case you were wondering, most of them came in penny sleeves. But better late than never, the saying goes, so let's see what Rockies history we can unearth today.

1999 Bowman Chrome Refractors #22 Vinny Castilla
1999 Bowman was well-known for including facsimile signatures in a prominent vertical banner on the right. Rather than an illegible signature, Vinny Castilla's card has his full, printed name of "Vinicio Castilla Soria", with the same large dots over the "I"s that can be found on his 1993 Studio card. Owing to his Hispanic heritage and Mexican nationality, you might notice that his full name includes his second last name, properly an apellido materno, his mother's maiden name. This practice is generally quashed down in English-speaking countries where First Name, Last Name is the law of the land, but dropping that final piece hides an integral part of one's identity that many Hispanic cultures honor and acknowledge much more than we do here.

Credit card issuers in Latin America must have another way to verify who you are when you call customer service, which is good, because your mother's maiden name (or any static identifier) is a truly awful way to authenticate someone. But I digress. All I know is that if I were a Hispanic player, I wouldn't stop at making sure accent marks were on my jersey.

Another thing I noticed on this shiny Bowman refractor applies to all the non-prospect (i.e. red) cards that year, a pair of "Now & Then" photos on the card back. Castilla's then-current photo was displayed on the top, with a very slightly smaller shot of him as a young player in the Braves organization on the bottom. 1999 Bowman remains one of the few Bowman sets I can recognize and assign to the right year, but even it still has surprises.

2013 Bowman Platinum Cutting Edge Stars #CES-DD David Dahl
Less rectangular but no less shiny is this die-cut card of David Dahl. The recent re-signing of Matt Holliday might limit Dahl's playing time more than he'd like, but they're both hitting key home runs for the Rockies at an important time in the pennant race. This Cutting Edge (get it?) card dates back to 2013, not long after the Rockies drafted him, but still many years before his first MLB appearance in 2016. He's just 24, but he's taken a bit longer to develop than some of his contemporaries, like, say, Andrew Benintendi.

He still has plenty of time to hone his craft. After all, his nickname on his Players' Weekend jersey is "Baby Dahl". And think of how long it took Topps to get this good at die-cuts.

2015 Bowman Chrome Bowman Scouts Update #BSU-RT Raimel Tapia
With all that depth in the outfield right now, both old and new, there's simply no room for Raimel Tapia. But even if you don't have a roster spot, everyone has a shiny card. This particular card is from the same set (well, the Update checklist) as a Jon Gray card I received from Bob Walk The Plank over three years ago. Fans of things like chain-link fences and fans in pink shirts consuming ballpark snacks ought not to miss Bowman cards. Minor league games are far from a national spectacle, and the venues still allow for gems like these.

Tapia has just a handful fewer games in the big leagues than Dahl, but he did beat Topps' prediction of a 2017 debut by a year. We're less than a week away from September call-ups, so Tapia will likely get a few more games in this year, as will Garrett Hampson, the player who was sent down to make way for Matt Holliday.

2008 Topps Chrome Trading Card History #TCHC50 Brad Hawpe
There were no cards of Matt Holliday in this trade package, but one of his outfield mates, Brad Hawpe, did make it in. The 2009 All-Star made it into 2008's Topps Chrome Trading Card History set, the final card in the 50-card set. The set had a larger, non-shiny counterpart in Topps base that year at 75 cards. He's pictured (literally, just pictured) on the 1953 Bowman design. Most of the chrome in that decade ended up on grilles and tailfins of Buicks and Mercurys, not on baseball cards. Times have certainly changed. We still love shiny stuff, but our preferences about which products contain it have dramatically shifted.

1999 Topps Chrome Refractors #144 Jeff Reed
Not many collectors liked Topps' experiment with non-white borders between 1998 and 2003. 1998 and 1999 used a gold border that wasn't well received, but both Opening Day and Chrome used silver borders in 1999. It does seem to work a little better, especially with that little "Refractor" word underneath the card number on the back.

Topps gave us a great action shot on this one, picturing Jeff Reed throwing down to second with his full gear on. When I first started watching baseball, I seem to remember catchers rapidly removing their masks before trying to nail a would-be base stealer, but there's no time for that anymore. On the other hand, the veteran catcher might have just been making a practice throw before the start of an inning. He's occupying a lot of real estate without a batter or umpire in the frame, and the Met in the background seems to be casually preparing to begin an at-bat at Shea Stadium. I'm not quite sure who that is, but the uniform number looks like a "5" to me. John Olerud wore #5 for the Mets, so that's my best guess for this cameo.

There's a Cincinnati Red on the back, making this a rare double-cameo card. There are no identifying marks on that Reds jersey, so I'll guess Sean Casey and leave it at that.

1995 Score Gold Rush #228 Mike Munoz
There have been a lot of players who have worn the Rockies uniform over the years, but it's rare for a player to make a first appearance on this blog after a couple hundred posts and at least a thousand or so cards. Mike Munoz, an inaugural-year Rockie, is just now debuting on Infield Fly Rule. In fact, Jeff Reed appeared only once before, and then as an Expo.

Mike Munoz is a name I remember well. He appeared in a whopping 300 games as a Rockie, always in relief. In baseball slang, he was the LOOGY (Left-handed One Out Guy), but he earned a 15-14 record in his Rockie career, and even was credited with a handful of saves. Score, in one their legendary write-ups, identified him as "A durable southpaw relief specialist" on this Gold Rush parallel.

In retrospect, I don't think I realized how much I liked Score until recently. It was an inexpensive brand, they gave us plenty of reading material with those epic paragraphs (many of which I've never read and have no idea what gems are waiting to be uncovered), and the designs are just, well, fun. Plus they gave us cards of guys like Mike Munoz.

2016 Topps Museum Collection #43 Nolan Arenado
We finally depart the realm of the shiny (cue mental image of the magic wormhole to Asgard), but not before passing through the luxury section with a look at Topps Museum Collection. The photo from this card would be from 2015, and the excellent photo reproduction in this set makes the old shade of purple noticeably different and more blue. Even the bat looks a little bit blue. Compare that with a Corey Dickerson card that came from A Cracked Bat, and the shade looks a bit different.

It's nice to have a couple cards from Museum Collection without having to pay the crazy prices associated with that product. That's one of the reasons I liked Score.

2008 Upper Deck First Edition #206 Kazuo Matsui
Kazuo Matsui, another rarely-seen Rockie, got a card in 2008 Upper Deck First Edition, basically UD's foil-free Opening Day equivalent. The card tells us about Matsui's 32 stolen bases in 2007, as well as his two-hit performance in the epic Game 163 against the Padres in October 2007.

That was a long time ago, but in some ways not a lot has changed. Matt Holliday is still not a great outfielder, but is good enough at the plate to make up for it. Chris Iannetta is still around, and they're both once again on the Rockies roster. Double-digit scores are still common at Coors Field, and you're likely to see a passing thundercloud on a late-summer afternoon in Denver, though the level of wildfire smoke obscuring the mountains has increased alarmingly.

I'll never turn down a Coors Field card, especially one showing the out-of-town scoreboard. Usually there's enough to date the card to a specific game, but not quite exactly on this one. All we know is that the Pirates were hosting the Dodgers, which would put this at some point between June 1st-3rd, 2007, when the Reds came to visit Denver.

2003 Fleer Ultra Photo Effex #17 Todd Helton
Fleer likes their plain white backgrounds, don't they? New to me is 2003 Fleer Ultra Photo Effex, where they've applied a rotoscope effect to a photo of Todd Helton. If you've ever seen A Scanner Darkly or Waking Life by Richard Linklater, you'll know what I mean. The large white area at the bottom is clearly meant to make this look like a Polaroid, and they even use a rougher matte finish in the frame area. It's a clever design, if a bit simple.

I'm curious whether any other players in this set got a different photo effect applied to their images, a la Instagram, or if they did this rotoscope look for all twenty cards. 2003 Fleer Ultra isn't exactly flying off the shelves these days, so I'll have to keep a sharp eye out.

2014 Topps Rookie Cup All Stars Commemorative #RCAS-15 Troy Tulowitzki /99
The last card for today is another member of that magical 2007 team, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. It's a manufactured relic of the Topps Rookie Cup, which was awarded to Tulo on his 2008 card, and this is by far the thickest card I own. It's almost comically so, thicker than the entire stack of cards above, and even thicker than my iPhone 6.

There's a nice serial number on there, just 99 copies, and the card tells us lots about Tulo's rookie year in 2007. There were plenty of defensive gems, an unassisted triple play, and more home runs as an NL rookie shortstop than Ernie Banks, a record that would stand until Tulo's replacement, Trevor Story, came up about a decade later.

I hope to get back into the swing of things with trade posts, because I certainly have plenty waiting for me. There are lots of cards left to be blogged about and filed away, though none as thick as this one.

Thanks to Jon for sending a few that fit my collection (but not my toploaders) perfectly!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

#Walletcard Amongst the Greats

Well, I did it again. I waited until the last weekend of the month to write a post. That's how it's gone since May, which, perhaps not coincidentally, was the same month as a major change at work. I haven't taken any big trips this month, but I have seen four games at Coors Field in July, including a win against the Oakland Athletics yesterday for Star Wars Night. Another mark in the Win column, and I left with a souvenir Chewbacca beer koozie.

More news from the baseball front includes a visit to the Play Ball! exhibit at History Colorado Center, a showcase of the best of the Marshall Fogel Collection. On display were jerseys, gloves, hats, and more from the most memorable Hall-of-Famers from Babe Ruth to Sandy Koufax. Nearby, there was a large clear plastic case filled with about fifty bats spanning the history of Major League Baseball, all the way from Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker, up to Ichiro and Ken Griffey, Jr. Off to the side was a small case with memorabilia of some of baseball's more infamous figures: Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, and Mark McGwire. And, since this is Denver, plenty of Rockies memorabilia, such as a ticket stub from the first-ever Rockies game on April 5th, 1993 at Shea Stadium, three bottles of champagne and a ring from the Rockies' historic 2007 playoff run on loan from pitcher Jason Hirsh, and signed jerseys from current All-Stars Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon.

Don't think for a moment that there were no cards. There were. One item was a box (likely empty) of 1954 Bowman, a gumball vending machine that also once distributed 1956 Topps cards for a penny, and a serious highlight that was on display for only three days during the All-Star Break, a PSA 10 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, estimated to be worth $10 million. My visit was a day too early to see that (it was there between a Monday and a Wednesday, and I had All-Star Game parties to host), but there was plenty of news coverage about it in the Denver area.

Finally, as you might have gathered from the post title, my Wallet Card had a chance to come out and play with the greats, occupying a small space in a 1975 Topps frame, one of those wooden platforms you could pose behind.

If you happen to find yourself in Denver before the MLB season wraps up, be sure to check it out. I've never been to Cooperstown, but I assume this exhibit offers a small taste of the full experience.

Also, now that the Wallet Card has some serious travels under its belt, I decided to give it its very own blog tab. Because travel seems to be way more fun when you can look back on the good parts.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Travels of Adam

In the four and a half years since I started this blog, I haven't missed a month. Here it is June 30th, and this is my first post in the month of June, just barely keeping my streak intact. I have barely kept up with the Cardsphere since late April, and I'm sure I've missed quite a bit.

I did see Nick mention yesterday that Bob Walk The Plank is calling it quits, which hits particularly close to home for me, since that particular Pirates blogger and I started right around the same time, in January 2014. He's done zillions more posts than I have, but it's always tough to see another blog decide to cease operations. Despite my relative absence around here lately, I still intend to keep this blog going. I like writing; in fact hardly anything puts me in a state of "flow" more than this. Unfortunately, "baseball card blogger" isn't a job title that will pay the bills, as much as I'd like to live in that world.

Yet despite all its frustrations, my day job affords me the opportunities and the resources to see a bit of the world. Come along for the ride and I'll tell you what I've been up to the past couple of months while ignoring my blogger feed.

As I mentioned last month, I took a trip to London, England in early May. It was a great trip, and I saw some sights I'd wanted to see for quite some time, and also flew on a Boeing 747 for the first time, which was one of the reasons I took the trip in the first place. By now, I mainly recall the fond memories like world-class art museums, awesome corner pubs, tons of history, beautiful parks, outdoor food markets, cheddar & onion crisps, contactless payments nearly everywhere, usable public transit, and lots more. The general travel annoyances of jet lag, walking so far my legs and feet hurt, and generally being sandwiched in like a sardine in the Tube and in Economy class on said 747 are slipping out of mind.

However, one less forgettable issue I encountered within about five minutes of venturing out into the city was losing my wallet somewhere near Victoria Station. Once I stopped kicking myself, ordering replacement cards and ID online was a cinch, which were all waiting for me when I got back stateside. Mercifully, I had the foresight to squirrel away another credit card, my Oyster transit card, and a couple banknotes in a separate wallet that became my lifeline, and is part of the reason I discovered the prevalence of contactless payments in the UK.

£120 evaporated into thin air, which is a bummer, but I'd say the biggest loss of all was probably my Wallet Card. It was a 1994 Topps Gold Joe Girardi, and it had been all over the place, including Vienna, Sacramento, and of course my home city of Denver. Interestingly, that particular card was sent by The Card Papoy, who mans the French outpost of the Cardsphere. I guess that Girardi card really wanted to be near the 0° longitude line (which I saw while visiting Greenwich).

1994 Topps #372 Joe Girardi
Fortunately, my girlfriend recognized my plight, and gave me a replacement just a few weeks ago. There's Mr. Girardi in his inaugural-season Rockies gear in Mile High Stadium, pictured on the 1994 Topps design. Longtime readers will recognize that as the first factory set I ever purchased, so this card has a lot of meaning to me, gold or not.

That explains a week or so in May, but that still leaves June. Well, work has been crazy the past couple months, but they believe I'm enough of a top performer to award me with a second President's Club award. The first award took me to Vienna, and this time I was headed to Orlando, Florida in mid-June. I happen to have friends and family in central Florida, so I extended the trip a few days before the company event started.

The first time I visited Florida in 2013, I was there for an old friend's wedding. She still lives there, and I got to meet her four-year old daughter. The next day, we went to Acme Superstore, which is first and foremost a comic book store, but also has aisles upon aisles of pop culture memorabilia. Star Wars, Mario, Hot Wheels, you name it. There were a few baseball cards, including a 1962 Topps Gaylord Perry rookie card, but i didn't pull the trigger on it.

1999 Pokemon Fossil Unlimited #52 Omanyte C
One thing I did get for myself was this Pokémon card, the first one in my collection. Like many people in the summer of 2016, I played Pokémon Go, a great opportunity to get out and about and explore my local parks. This little critter Omanyte, which is based on the extinct ammonite (a sort of nautilus squid thing), inexplicably became my favorite little Pokémon. I set it as my "buddy" when they added that feature to the app, and couldn't pass this card up when I ran across it.

After visiting friends and family, the four-night company event began in Lake Buena Vista. Similar to the Vienna trip, there were various daily activities to choose from, concluding with a dinner each night. It all went pretty well, other than flipping my kayak over in a creek following an inadvertent collision. One evening took us to dinner at a Universal Studios soundstage, followed by a rather empty theme park to explore. I have a lot of friends and family who are into Harry Potter, so naturally my guest and I spent some time in Diagon Alley.

Harry Potter Chocolate Frog Cards Gilderoy Lockhart (s17)
One can't go to Diagon Alley without getting a chocolate frog, and inside those chocolate frog boxes you'll find a pentagon-shaped lenticular card like the above. In addition to a pretty decent 5 oz. chunk of solid chocolate, I pulled Gilderoy Lockhart's card, the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, portrayed in the film by Kenneth Branagh.

It's hard to find a complete list of these, but I think there are only seven or eight to be found at the Universal parks. This isn't something that Beckett has cataloged yet, and it'll be tricky to find a spot to store it. There's a little "s17" in the corner, which may refer to its release year.

So that's why I haven't been around much. "Work Hard, Play Hard" has definitely been the name of the game lately. That doesn't leave a lot of time for blogging, and has put me even further behind on trade posts from Nachos Grande, A Penny Sleeve For Your Thoughts, blog reader Chris, and my annual Opening Day blaster. The year's flying by (in fact the baseball season just hit the halfway point), but I'm still around.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Trading Post #120: It's Like Having My Own Card Shop

I'm still here.

As you might have guessed, it's been a pretty busy month for me. I haven't posted (or really kept up with the Cardsphere at all) in about a month. I hope I didn't miss a super-awesome Blog Bat Around topic or anything like that.

So what have I been up to? Well, the main event was a trip to London, which happened the same week that MLB announced the Yankees and Red Sox would be playing each other in London in 2019. It was kind of neat to read about that in the evening paper as I headed down to the nearest Tube station. I didn't have a ton of time to read, since I don't think I had to wait more than seven minutes for a train or bus the whole trip. They know how to do public transit in that city.

Other highlights this month included my nephew turning one, my first ballgame of the season on Friday, which resulted in a win against the Reds, and (more of a lowlight), a new ERP system at work, which I managed to miss the first week of due to the aforementioned vacation.

The baseball season has carried on, as have a handful of trades. I'm going a bit out of order here, but one such trade came from Daniel of It's Like Having My Own Card Shop. He did a great job of finding a few cards for my Coors Field frankenset, but one thing he sent isn't quite a card.

Daniel's team, the Diamondbacks, and my Rockies share a spring training facility in the Phoenix area, and Daniel snagged a pocket schedule from the '18 Cactus League season. All the usual Western teams are on here, as well as an exhibition game the D-Backs played against the ASU Sun Devils.

I have yet to visit this park, but I did once see the Rockies play the Cubs in 2008. That was when the Rockies and a few other teams still made their spring training homes in Tucson. It's about a three-hour drive from Phoenix to Tucson, though, so in 2011 everyone decided it would be a lot easier for everyone to just play in Phoenix, and you now find a situation where ten stadiums host fifteen teams, with many teams sharing facilities in a similar arrangement. However, according to the stadium map, the D-backs and Rockies still have separate gates. I'm not sure how strictly that's enforced for incoming fans, or if each team just wants a spot to run their own promos.

2014 Topps #199 Matt Davidson (RC)
The main event was a few D-backs duplicates from Daniel's collection, which all fit perfectly into my Coors Field frankenset. As in spring training, these two teams find themselves in each others's stadiums on a regular basis, whether that's Opening Day, the Wild Card game, the NLCS, or anywhere in between. Many Diamondbacks in 2014 Topps clearly had their photos taken in Coors Field, starting with Matt Davidson. Davidson is now on the White Sox, and he started off the 2018 season with a three-homer game. But before his current tenure in Chicago and a couple seasons of Triple-A, he was a late-season callup in 2013.

I had to do a lot of digging to date this card, but it's either from September 21st or 22nd, 2013. Davidson sure looks like he's casually rounding the bases after a home run, and he had one in each of those games. My initial guess was the 21st, which was a night game, and there are definitely lots of stadium lights reflected in his helmet, a trick we all learned from Night Owl. Davidson hit one to straightaway center off of Collin McHugh to drive in three, but video review shows that the team wore their gray jerseys that day. That must mean it was Sunday the 22nd, where he launched another three-run shot, this time to left field. It was late in the game, and the video shows it was a cloudy day, which would account for the lights.

So there you have it. September 22nd, 2013, showing Davidson rounding second after taking Chad Bettis deep. A close look at the video lets you match the out-of-town scoreboard, the numbers on the left corresponding to the Reds blowing out the Pirates 11-3 in Pittsburgh, and the Marlins beating the Nationals in D.C. Home teams did not have a great day that day, as this shot helped the Diamondbacks win 13-9, even though the Rockies chipped away 4 runs in the bottom of the 9th.

2014 Topps #232 Chris Owings (RC)
Chris Owings, now a veteran Diamondback, was a young rookie when this card was printed. It's very possible that this is from the same game as Davidson's card, but there's not much to go on besides the center field forest and the leg of a pinstriped Rockie who seems to be stuck in an inning-ending fielder's choice. Owings, another late-season callup in 2013, only played 20 games for the Diamondbacks that year. I'm certain it's from the same series, and it probably is from the same game on the 22nd, since a highlight from the Friday game in that series shows the Diamondbacks in their gray jerseys again.

Any candidate plays? Possibly in the first inning, when DJ LeMahieu hit a comebacker, resulting in Charlie Blackmon being forced out at second base. This looks more like an end-of-inning "can I keep the ball?" gesture to the ump, and that play was just the first out. But it's a reasonable guess.

2014 Topps #648 A.J. Pollock
A.J. Pollock, one of my (injured) Fantasy team members this year, appeared in Coors Field much more frequently that year than his rookie teammates. I can't be sure it's the same game, but the jersey matches. The distinctive purple banner on the dugout roof makes it easy to locate, but any one specific pitch is near impossible to pinpoint.

Also, is it just me, or does Pollock's right elbow look a little strange?

2014 Topps #379 Gerardo Parra
I showed this card before, actually just a few months ago when I wrote my entry into the What I Collect Blog Bat Around. It's nice to have an extra copy of this now-Rockie, as it shows an angle that's not often seen on cards. Interestingly, that press box has been the site of an important development in broadcasting. For the first time since 1993, a woman has called the play-by-play for an MLB TV broadcast. Jenny Cavnar, a longtime TV personality on AT&T Sportsnet, has been calling games for the Rockies telecasts all year long, and she's been doing a great job. It's not every game, but she has a wealth of knowledge, and has even inserted her own catchphrase into the Rockies fan's lexicon, "Fire up the fountains!" That phrase refers to the fountains near the center field forest that are turned on after each Rockies home run. I assume it's a home-game-only phrase, but I haven't watched enough games this year to know for sure.

Another change at Coors Field this year is the updated video scoreboard in left field. It's now even bigger, and rather than just a plain old rectangle, it now has the outline of a mountain range at the top. It's quite stunning to see in person, and the traditional analog-style clock still occupies the top areas of the scoreboard during the normal course of play. They do use its full height during some of the introductory videos and between-inning features, and sometimes the top of the action was cut off a little bit. To this collector, that reminded me of 2008 Topps, the set with the bump at the top where the Topps logo intruded into the photograph.

2016 Topps Wal-Mart Marketside Pizza #3 Nolan Arenado
Finally, Daniel found a card from my Eight Men Out list, my first one from Topps' Marketside set, the one that was inserted into frozen pizza boxes at Wal-Mart. These were all the rage a couple years ago, but I'm not a Wal-Mart shopper so I never ran across one. I was still interested to add one to my collection and see the design up close, so thanks to my trading buddy for unearthing one. It's too bad these weren't more widely available, because it's a solid design. The two bold silver stripes at the bottom are attractive, and the grid of small squares in the background add some character without taking things over. They're about the size of what you'd see on a Chrome X-fractor without being shiny, and remind me of another insert set or two that I can't quite place at the moment.

The back makes that grid theme just a little bit bolder, and also mentions Nolan's excellent defense, plus his ability to reach 40 HRs and 130 RBIs, numbers that he's pretty consistently met or exceeded for a few years now.

Thanks for sticking around. If I missed anything major this month, feel free to let me know in the comments!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Blog Bat Around: The All-Autograph Rockies

I haven't participated in every Blog Bat Around (I didn't touch the 30-day challenge, for example), but about two months after my What I Collect post, I'm keeping the trend going with Zippy Zappy's latest topic, the All-Autograph team.

I'm not a huge autograph collector, and I've never played the TTM game like William R so often does. But I did manage to scrape together enough autographs to put a fantasy team together, although you're not going to see as many Rockies stars as you might expect.

SP: Jason Jennings

1999 Topps Traded Autographs #T70 Jason Jennings (AU)
Autographed cards are usually enough of a highlight for me to include them in a trade post. So not only will you be seeing some repeats, I'll probably be able to thank the original senders all over again. This particular example came from Julie of A Cracked Bat, way back on #2 in The Trading Post series. It's easier to just scan it again than to dig within Google Photos for the original, plus I changed my scanning defaults a while back to make images look less contrasty and more realistic.

I keep my autographs, relics, and low serial numbers in toploaders in a two-row box, so I didn't have to dig too deep to start filling out my roster. I doubt this would have sold for $60,000 $75,000 when new, which is the offer for one of Shohei Ohtani's Bowman cards. That would be a lofty valuation for anyone else, even for the only Rockie to win the Rookie of the Year award.

RP #1: Darren Holmes

1994 Topps #562 Darren Holmes (AU)
Out of the bullpen is Darren Holmes, currently the bullpen coach for Colorado. Holmes earned 46 saves during his career as a Rockie, including 25 in their inaugural year. You'll notice that this isn't a Topps Certified Autograph, but it is an Adam Certified Autograph. Mr. Holmes himself signed this card for me in the 1994-1995 offseason, part of a family outing we took to the defunct Northglenn Mall near Denver for an autograph signing.

I mentioned this story a few months ago as part of another trade post from Julie, and I still remember it quite vividly. I remember my dad asking him about the Strike as he signed a couple cards, two 8x10s, a ball, and my hat. Perhaps I was a bit greedy with that haul, but I was also just 10 and he was the first big-league ballplayer I ever met in person.

I have few autographs, and even fewer that I obtained in person. I'll try to use most of them in this post, but my autograph collection doesn't hold a candle to Paul's, one of my buddies from the local card show, who is perpetually getting stuff signed at every opportunity.

RP #2: Rex Brothers

2014 Topps Update Trajectory Autographs #TA-RB Rex Brothers (AU)
Now, more than ever, relief pitchers are a key part of the game. The Complete Game has vanished from baseball even more than the stolen base, so relievers are getting more and more playing time, and managers are getting more and more steps in. The rules of this BBA topic call for a second relief pitcher, so this Rex Brothers sticker autograph is making its second appearance on Infield Fly Rule, courtesy of Matt at Bob Walk The Plank, whose blog was born just a couple weeks after mine.

Rex Brothers was a Rockie for five seasons, but didn't play in 2016. He's been a Brave for the past two years, and as of this writing, has the dreaded "infinite" ERA, one earned run allowed without retiring a batter. One's ERA tends to drop after leaving Coors Field, but the brand-new SunTrust Park has not been friendly to Brothers.

The rules also call for a closer, but I'm tapped out of relief pitcher autographs. Holmes and Brothers will have to get the final outs.

C: Joe Girardi

1994 Leaf Limited #103 Joe Girardi (AU)
Julie recently sent me a non-autographed version of Joe Girardi's 1994 Leaf Limited card, which I showed on that same trade post as Darren Holmes. But here's the real deal, the card that the former Yankees skipper signed in Boulder at the Rockies Dugout Store for me, while sitting next to Eric Young. I believe they just limited you to two items, so I didn't get every bit of memorabilia signed like I did with Darren Holmes. In fact, I recall being pretty far back in line when they announced the closure of the session, and my dad rapidly shepherded my sister and I to the front of the line where he signed this Leaf card and a 5x7. I congratulated him on his previous-night's home run, he did a quick radio interview, and then he was off to Denver for another night game.

I listened to a lot of games on the radio, and I remember hearing about this signing far in advance. I thought it would be a little secret, but the night before, right during the first few innings of the telecast, they announced it to the whole TV audience and the secret was out. I still lucked out, and got an extremely legible signature on the shiniest Girardi card I could find.

1B: Jordan Pacheco

2012 Topps Chrome Rookie Autographs Refractors #161 Jordan Pacheco /499 (AU)
You probably expected to see Todd Helton here. Well, I don't have a Todd Helton autograph, so utilityman Jordan Pacheco gets the first base slot. He also spent some time catching, and is currently in the Twins farm system. Thanks to Brad, of Brad's Blog, I have a shiny refractor to bat for the team. I would have selected the "base version" of this card otherwise, but right behind it in the box is this one, and you can see both copies on a long ago trade post.

I prefer the actual autograph from the base card, but this one gets the nod thanks to its serial number and refractor finish.

2B: DJ LeMahieu

2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Autographs #GQA-DL DJ LeMahieu (AU)
Significantly (infinitely?) less shiny is a DJ LeMahieu auto from 2013 Gypsy Queen, sent by Keith of The Home Run Apple. DJ just hit the disabled list to open the Rockies' series at Wrigley Field, so Pat Valaika is starting in his place.

I have a special appreciation for second basemen, since it's where I played in little league, at least when I wasn't out in right field. The rule in my league was that each kid had to play an infield position at least two innings a game, and I didn't quite have the arm strength to play at the hot corner, at least not until the occasional middle school gym class when I had a bit more experience than my fellow students.

It's nice to see that all the blogs I've looked back on so far are still active participants in the Cardsphere, even if I only traded once with some.

3B: Vinny Castilla

2015 Topps Tier One Acclaimed Autographs #AA-VC Vinny Castilla /399 (AU)
I'd like to be able to slot Nolan Arenado in here, but I haven't had the chance to find one yet. Instead, one of the original Blake Street Bombers will make an appearance, showing up on a thick premium card from Topps Tier One. This one came from Bob Walk The Plank again, whose trade packages are dominated by cards like these. It's a gorgeous card, with an on-card autograph, light-colored gold foil, and a nice shot of Castilla in his home uniform, wearing the uniform number that DJ LeMahieu would eventually wear.

This is the ammunition the big boys are using in their trades, as we can see in the regular volleys between Matt and his trading arch-nemesis Wes.

I'll let them dig themselves into their respective trenches, and enjoy the gold-colored shrapnel that ends up landing near me.

SS: Brendan Rodgers

2015 Bowman's Best Best of '15 Autographs #B15-BR Brendan Rodgers (AU)
Speaking of Wes, he sent me an on-card autograph of his own in The Trading Post #66 before he renamed his blog. Top prospect Brendan Rodgers got a shiny, simple, yet bold design in this Bowman's Best autograph set, and that giant star is repeated on the back, congratulating me for receiving an autograph of Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers has yet to receive the call to the big leagues, but he may end up taking over at second base if the Rockies decide not to pursue DJ LeMahieu in free agency.

Even on my blog, Matt and Wes are battling for trade supremacy. There's no hiding from it.

LF: Matt Holliday

2007 Topps Highlights Autographs #HA-MH Matt Holliday (AU)
Some players start hot, others finish hot. Joey Votto took a few weeks to wake up this season, but the Braves' Ozzie Albies has been making a mark for himself very quickly. The Rockies have always performed similarly, starting off the season strong, usually finishing up strong, but that often bookends a subpar summer. Matt Holliday leaned more toward late-season strength, as this 2007 highlights card tells us. His September of 2006 found him batting in 34 runs, slightly up from 32 the years before and after. Yes, Matt Holliday helped the Rockies out plenty in their historic 2007 playoff run, making up for the fact that he was a not-so-great left fielder (or plate-toucher, if you're a Padres fan).

This black-bordered set looks a little cleaner to me than the base cards, without the filmstrip squares on each corner. The silver banner at the bottom gives it a bold look, and reminds me of the 1979 Topps set.

This one's also from Bob Walk The Plank, by the way.

CF: Charlie Blackmon

2014 Stadium Club Autographs #SCA-CBL Charlie Blackmon (AU)
Charlie Blackmon has spent many years patrolling the enormous center field at Coors Field, and he'll be around for a good while longer, thanks to a recent contract extension. We have another repeat trader, this time A Cracked Bat once again, and from the now-legendary resurgence of 2014 Stadium Club.

Not bad for a Coors Field card. And unlike 2007 Topps, Stadium Club is premium enough to give collectors an on-card autograph. The beard has grown to wizardly lengths by now, but several years ago it was just a beard.

RF: Dante Bichette

1995 Leaf #135 Dante Bichette (AU)
This card that's clearly from Wrigley Field is especially appropriate, as the Rockies are in the midst of their annual trip to the Windy City. Rookie Noel Cuevas started in right field this evening, but that space was once occupied by Dante Bichette, a card sent my way by Jeff of Wish They Still Came With Bubblegum.

Dante used all of this borderless card to sign his John Hancock in a thick blue Sharpie, without detracting from the rainbow foil on the left that's used for the team name.

I wonder how often players are surprised by the cards they sign. It's one thing if Topps prints up a set specifically for them to sign, but with all the inserts and parallels out there, surely they can't know about every card with their likeness.

Well, maybe Pat Neshek does.

Bench: Eric Young, Jr.

2010 Topps Chrome Rookie Autographs #171 Eric Young Jr. (AU)
Just like his dad, who was sitting right next to Joe Girardi when that Leaf card was inked, Eric Young, Jr. signed a few cards himself. He has a small but legible signature, and he added a little flair with a "3" next to it, his uniform number at the time.

I need a bench player, and since LeMahieu will be missing a few games, it's just as well that E.Y. can come to the rescue. He's more of an outfielder, and is listed as such on this card, but he did play second base on occasion.

I couldn't find a post with this card, so it may have come from a card show. But if you sent it to me, thank you. I've enjoyed looking back at all these trade posts, and it's nice to see that everyone is still putting posts out into the world. These Blog Bat Arounds are a great idea, and I have lots of fun mixing things up a bit from the usual subject matter (i.e. all the awesome trades).

But something's missing.

To properly cheer on a team like this, you need a mascot.

Mascot: Dinger

1995 Rockies Promo #NNO Dinger (AU)
Love him or hate him, Dinger has been a fixture at Rockies home games ever since their second home opener on April 16th, 1994, a date noted on this card as when he "hatched". There was a giant dinosaur egg and everything.

You'll notice that he's a left-handed hitter, liked to wear his hat backwards in the style of Ken Griffey, Jr., and his uniform number used to be #94, the year of his hatching. Dinger wears #00 now, not to be confused with #0, Adam Ottavino.

He signed this card (one each for me and my sister) while we were waiting in line for that Girardi/Young signing back in 1995, which has a border representing the green girders that are so noticeable in Coors Field's construction.

I'm not sure if this post will make me more of an autograph collector, and I'm a little surprised that I managed to fill an entire roster, though I did have to reach in a couple spots. This was a good topic, and the Blog Bat Arounds make me feel like I'm part of this community more than just about anything else.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Trading Post #119: Collector's Crack

Now that hockey playoffs have started, which the Avalanche barely squeaked into, it's a perfect time to write about some football cards I won from Collector's Crack during his annual Super Bowl contest. The Denver Nuggets also had a chance to make it to the NBA playoffs, but weren't able to seal the deal in overtime on Wednesday. So that just leaves three Denver sports teams to cover, as the Rockies' 25th Anniversary season is still just getting underway.

The Broncos didn't factor into the NFL playoffs in the 2017-18 season, but everyone around here still bleeds orange and blue. My pick in the contest was for the Steelers to beat the Eagles. I did get the correct NFC team, but not the outcome. That disqualified me from the main prize, but I still came out on top when the randomizer spit out its results.

2010 Absolute Memorabilia Star Gazing #5 Demaryius Thomas
This was a football contest, so it's appropriate for me to start off with a few football cards. Specifically, a colorful Panini card from the Absolute Memorabilia set, a name not seen in baseball circles in quite some time. The extra-colorful design reminds me of the Aurora inserts found in last year's Diamond Kings set, perhaps not surprising as this is an insert card itself. It looks like this design is supposed to be an American flag overlaid in front of some type of spacey image from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Demaryius Thomas, one of the Broncos veteran Wide Receivers, was just getting his pro career started after attending Georgia Tech when this card was printed. He and Charlie Blackmon were both Yellow Jackets in the late-2000s, so it's possible that the two Denver sports stars knew each other in their college days, much like Peyton Manning and Todd Helton attended Tennessee together.

2008 Donruss Gridiron Gear Silver Holofoil O's #32 Brandon Marshall /250
Brandon Marshall has had quite a long career, especially by NFL standards. Yet despite playing for a dozen seasons, he's never managed to make it to the playoffs. He has made it to six Pro Bowls, including his first in 2008, the year of this shiny card. I'll take a shiny card like this regardless of the sport, especially when it has a serial number on the back.

Donruss may have had some type of tabletop game in mind, as this card also came in an "X" variety, replacing the O in the upper left of this card. If you wanted to, I suppose you could make your own formations with your shiny Gridiron Gear cards. Traditionally, Os are for the Offense and X is for the Defense, and of course most football players focus on one side or the other. I feel like I have the more "correct" version of this card, but it's as good a way as any to make another parallel.

2011 Topps Prime Veteran #PV-ER Eddie Royal
I know all these names, but I haven't really followed their careers after their departure from Denver. Eddie Royal, yet another wide receiver, later played for the Chargers and Bears, but was cut before the 2017-18 season and remains an unsigned free agent. He's barely older than Charlie Blackmon, but his career may have drawn to a close. It's a punishing sport to play, and long careers are rare. There's tremendous pressure to play through the pain, lest someone younger and healthier take your spot that you might not be able to get back. The rosters are gigantic, there are a tremendous number of young athletes graduating from college every year, and you only have a short while to really make a name for yourself.

There aren't a lot of R.A. Dickeys, Randy Johnsons, or Jose Bautistas in the NFL. Just look at this Topps Prime card itself. Royal was already a "Prime Veteran" at just 25, barely into his fourth NFL season when this set hit the market.

Side note: remember when Topps made NFL cards?

Corey Seager, by the way, is in his fourth MLB season right now, and only a little younger than Royal was in 2011. I think he has a while before anyone starts calling him a "veteran".

They are very different sports.

2003 Bowman's Best Blue #130 Adrian Madise (AU) /499
I don't follow the world of NFL prospects or the annual draft, but I can only imagine that its even deeper than in Major League Baseball. Other than Marcus Mariota, I can pretty much tell you nothing about which college player ended up on which NFL team. Perhaps that's why I've never heard of Adrian Madise, a wide receiver from TCU who played in 11 games for the Broncos in 2003. That was the extent of his NFL career, but he signed cards for Bowman that year, in this case a sticker autograph that also has one of those small, square, numbered hologram stickers on the back that Topps used to provide.

It's also serial numbered to /499, probably the rarest card I own of a player I've never heard of.

2009 Topps Chrome Cheerleaders #TCC2 Amanda
Another aspect of football that makes it quite different from baseball is the presence of cheerleaders. A stack of about ten cheerleader insert cards from 2009 Topps Chrome was the main door prize from Collector's Crack; the rest of these cards were just an added bonus.

These are the first cards of their type in my collection. I've noted before that there is a pretty glaring absence of women in professional sports, as I mentioned in a post about Allen & Ginter. There are a number of women in an on-field reporting role, but more often than not, most women on-field at an NFL game seem to have pom-poms. And let's not forget the Twitter storm that ESPN launched by putting a woman in the booth next to Rex Ryan during Monday Night Football last season.

Interestingly, you might be surprised to learn who has anchored the most episodes of SportsCenter on ESPN. Not Chris Berman, not the late Stuart Scott, not Scott Van Pelt, not Dan Patrick. It's Linda Cohn, and she did an extremely interesting interview recently with Internet celebrity and Jets superfan Gary Vaynerchuk.

Anyway, what can I say about Amanda, cheerleader for the Baltimore Ravens? Well, Topps Chrome cards still seem to have a curl no matter the subject. And cheerleading looks like it would be an especially cold occupation in the winter months. I'll bask in the sunshine and late evening twilight at Coors Field any day of the week, but I've never braved the cold to see an NFL game, which can easily drop into the single digits in a place like Colorado. Finally, I noticed that Amanda went to the University of Delaware, which is my mom's alma mater.

2011 Topps Legends #87 Tim Tebow
I don't expect to see baseball cheerleaders anytime soon, but Tim Tebow has been the one to blur the lines between baseball and football lately. He's spent a couple years in the Mets' farm system after being cut by several NFL teams. The way the injuries have been piling up for the Mets the past few years, Tebow might make it to the Majors purely because of attrition. They're currently without a catcher, as Travis d'Arnaud will undergo Tommy John surgery (yes, as a catcher), and Kevin Plawecki just hit the DL for a month after a hit-by-pitch.

When Tebow was the quarterback for the Broncos, I remember two things. He'd miraculously pull out a win by taking the lead in the 4th quarter (or even overtime, as Steelers fans and Demaryius Thomas will recall), and he'd run the ball a lot. I kept saying he should be a running back. This card confirms my second memory, mentioning that Tebow ran the ball more in his first three starts than any QB since 1970, starting off with the very first "40-30", a completing a 40 yard run and 30-yard pass in the same quarter.

That was enough to earn him a spot in the Topps Legends set, even though his NFL career only lasted sixteen games over three seasons. But perhaps we haven't heard the last of him.

By the way, did Topps ever plan on releasing Legends or Prime as baseball sets? They're beautiful.

2017 Topps Chrome '87 Topps #87T-24 David Dahl
Like nearly everyone who trades with me, Collector's Crack included a few Rockies in my envelope. Back to the familiar world of baseball and the 1987 Topps design, here's David Dahl, who might see some playing time in the next few days, thanks to the suspensions MLB handed down following a hit-by-pitch incident.

2017 Topps Chrome '87 Topps #87T-15 Nolan Arenado
Yes, Nolan Arenado got five games for that, as did Padres pitcher Luis Perdomo. He dropped his appeal and did not play in Saturday's loss in Washington. Gerardo Parra is still appealing his four-game suspension related to the incident, so there may be a brief window for David Dahl to appear in his first MLB game since the end of 2016.

Topps has been spoon-feeding us 1987 Topps for a while, but I still enjoy seeing it. The woodgrain border doesn't really come across that well when given the refractor treatment, but the overall design clearly stands up to the MLB expansion that's occurred since its release. Topps even kept the "On This Date" theme on the card back, giving us information from the 1987 season. Nolan's card back tells us about Sachio Kinugasa, a Japanese player who broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games record in 1987, whose streak ended at 2,215. David Dahl's card mentions Dave Dravecky's outstanding pitching performance in Game 2 of the 1987 NLCS, a series the Giants would lose in 7.

2003 Playoff Portraits #21 Todd Helton
This heavily-textured card of Todd Helton was clearly meant to look like an oil painting. Picture UD Masterpieces with brush strokes and you have the idea. It's pretty well done, right down to the swirls on Helton's ear flap.

This texture doesn't carry to the back, which just gets a glossy finish, standard for cards of this era. It's the second throwback to 2003 in this post, and the card brings yet another sport into this post by telling us that "Helton takes a bad swing about as often as Tiger Woods". In case you don't follow golf, Tiger is back. While he didn't contend at The Masters, he did tie for 2nd place a few tournaments ago with Patrick Reed, this year's winner at Augusta.

2013 Topps Chasing The Dream Relics #CDR-DP Drew Pomeranz (MEM)
I like to save relics for the end. This is from 2013's Chasing The Dream insert set, and I remember admiring the non-relic flavor the first time I saw it. I said back then that I wanted to acquire a few more, and cynicalbuddha at Collector's Crack made sure I did. Not only that, but this relic contains one of the prized purple pinstripes that often pop up on Rockies relic cards. Pomeranz has long since left the Rockies, turning in an excellent 17-6 record for the Red Sox last year, and he'll probably make his 2018 debut next week.

It's been a long time since a Rockie has put up a W-L record like that. But many ex-Rockies find more success on other teams. Jason Hammel had a couple great years with the Cubs, although Tyler Chatwood is 0-2 in his first two games as a Cubbie.

I was lucky to win this shipment from that Super Bowl contest. It's surprising that the contest ended over two months ago, but I'm excited to be able to write this post with a ballgame on in the background. Thanks again to Collector's Crack, and don't miss his annual Super Bowl contest once the 2018-19 NFL playoffs are set!