Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Barry Larkin Collection 578: 1990 Star - #8

Barry Larkin
Year:  1990
Brand:  Star
Card number:  8

The eighth card in the 1990 Star Barry Larkin set is the second card featuring Larkin's career information write-up.  I actually didn't know that Larkin went on the tour of Japan back in 1988, nor did I know that he was the team's MVP during that tour.  That's a fun little tidbit and for me, it's amazing that a set this "simple" was able to teach me something new about a player I've collected for yours.  For that alone, this set is a winner (even if I don't particularly like the image chosen for the card front, I'll simply ignore that since the back description is so good)!

Monday, January 15, 2018

2000 Fleer Tradition: Packs 13 & 14: Back to Work Edition

Today marks my first day back at work for the new college semester.  This year, my college went back a week later than usual which gave me a full month off.  While I definitely enjoyed the time off, the bitter cold over most of the break severely restricted what I actually felt like doing during that time!  That said, ready or not, classes are back in session and therefore, I'm back at work!

There aren't many things good about the first day back to work after a long break, especially when that first day occurs on a Monday.  However, ripping a couple of packs of baseball cards always helps, right?!

Pack 13:
19  Orber Moreno

58.  Mike Cameron
65.  Doug Glanville
73.  Mike Stanley
245.  Kenny Lofton
285.  Jeff Shaw
313.  John Franco
389.  Rob Ryan & Nick Bierbrodt
423.  Scott Rolen
Who to Watch:  5.  Chad Hermansen

Well, I only needed the Orber card out of that pack.  More impressively, this is the first time I've ever heard of the name "Orber" for anything or anyone. 

Pack 14:
34.  Eddie Taubensee
99.  Luis Gonzalez
152.  Freddy Garcia
250.  Shawn Green
314.  Jason Schmidt
343.  Vladimir Guerrero
400.  Mark McGwire
419.  Al Leiter
424.  Jason Kendall
Dividends:  12.  Mike Piazza

I only needed the Piazza insert in this pack, but at least I got one card I needed here.  Thanks to the Orber from pack 13 and the Piazza from this pack, I'm not up to a whopping 14 cards that I've gained for my set...in exactly 14 packs.  While I appreciate getting (on average) a new card each pack, that rate alone won't be quite enough to finish off the base set and the insert sets that I'm working on.  I need to pick up the pace just a bit!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

2000 Fleer Tradition: Packs 11 & 12: Needed Inserts Galore!

I'm nearing the one-third mark through my box of 2000 Fleer Tradition.  Through the first 10 packs (out of a total of 36 packs), I've landed ten new base cards (or one per pack on average).  I still need quite a few more cards though, so let's hope that I can increase my needed-cards-per-pack average soon.

Pack 11:
35.  Pedro Astacio
79.  Dustin Hermanson
167.  Dan Perkins  (a duplicate within this box)
252.  Randy Wolf & Anthony Shumaker
271.  Atlanta Braves
282.  Mike Lowell
286.  Jason Varitek
352.  Barry Larkin
444.  NL Division Series
Who to Watch:  4.  Ben Petrick

Well, I didn't need any of the base cards (including the Larkin) but I did need the Who to Watch insert so I guess I'll still call this pack a win.

While we are here, let's rip another and finish off the first third of the box.

Pack 12:
6.  NL Batting Average Leaders
45.  Jeff Bagwell
88.  Jose Cruz, Jr.  (a duplicate within this box)
126.  Brian Jordan
164.  Chipper Jones
177.  Marquis Grissom  (a duplicate within this box)
251.  Sterling Hitchcock
375.  Sandy Alomar, Jr.
428.  Livan Hernandez
Dividends:  7.  Jeff Bagwell

Another pack, another single card I needed (which also happened to be an insert). 

Well, I didn't get any closer to my base set but I did land two more inserts that I needed so I guess I'll take it.  That gives me a total of 12 new cards so far in the box.  Not great, but certainly not as bad as it could be at this juncture in time!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

2000 Fleer Tradition: Packs 9 & 10: Do You Like Checklists as Part of the Main Set?

I'm back with even more packs out of my 2000 Fleer Tradition box that I got for Christmas 2017.  All things considered, I'm making decent progress thus far (I've found 8 cards I needed through the first eight packs).  I do need to pick up the pace a bit if I am going to find all the base cards that I need prior to the box's completion however.  No better time to start that than right now, am I right?

Pack 9:
39.  Jeff Kent
156.  Cleatus Davidson & Cristian Guzman
238.  Giomar Guevara
297.  Gary Sheffield
311.  Chad Hermansen & Mike Garcia

317.  Chris Widger

331.  Torii Hunter
339.  David Justice  (a double from within the box)
447.  World Series Game 1  (another double from within the box)
449.  World Series Game 3

A pack full of base cards isn't always exciting...unless you are a set collector who is trying to put together the base set!  I needed both of the scanned cards which puts me at 10 total cards needed.  Of course, this pack also gave me two more duplicates from within the box itself which should simply never happen in a set of this size.

Still, I'm happy with the two new cards - getting closer to completing a set is always fun.  Speaking of fun, why stop the fun now though?  Let's rip a second pack.

Pack 10:
49.  Checklist
220.  Ronnie Belliard
276.  Travis Lee
296.  Shawn Estes
332.  Tony Armas, Jr. & Peter Bergeron
336.  Gary DiSarcina
354.  Checklist
368.  David Segui
440.  Chipper Jones
448.  World Series Game 2

While I like that the checklist cards are numbered as part of the base set, how mad would you have been getting two checklists from a single pack of cards back in 2000?!  As for me, I'm more mad that I didn't need any of the cards out of the pack (including the two checklists).

Total new (to me) cards in the box:  10

Friday, January 12, 2018

My MLB Hall of Fame Ballot Choices!

College football is over and baseball has been decidedly quiet thus far this off-season, but there is still some sport intrigue out there:  the MLB Hall of Fame ballot.  This year's ballot looks like this (with the number on the right indicating how many times the person has been on the ballot).

  • 1 Edgar Martinez 9th
  • 2 Fred McGriff 9th
  • 3 Larry Walker 8th
  • 4 Roger Clemens 6th
  • 5 Barry Bonds 6th
  • 6 Curt Schilling 6th
  • 7 Sammy Sosa 6th
  • 8 Mike Mussina 5th
  • 9 Jeff Kent 5th
  • 10 Gary Sheffield 4th
  • 11 Trevor Hoffman 3rd
  • 12 Billy Wagner 3rd
  • 13 Vladimir Guerrero 2nd
  • 14 Manny Ramirez 2nd
  • 15 Chipper Jones 1st
  • 16 Jim Thome 1st
  • 17 Scott Rolen 1st
  • 18 Andruw Jones 1st
  • 19 Johan Santana 1st
  • 20 Johnny Damon 1st
  • 21 Carlos Zambrano 1st
  • 22 Jamie Moyer 1st
  • 23 Omar Vizquel 1st
  • 24 Chris Carpenter 1st
  • 25 Livan Hernandez 1st
  • 26 Orlando Hudson 1st
  • 27 Kevin Millwood 1st
  • 28 Kerry Wood 1st
  • 29 Carlos Lee 1st
  • 30 Aubrey Huff 1st
  • 31 Hideki Matsui 1st
  • 32 Jason Isringhausen 1st
  • 33 Brad Lidge 1st
As you can see, there are 33 potential people to choose from - but in my mind at least, the real number of players to pick from is substantially smaller.  Here's who I think is even deserving of consideration to join the likes of Mantle, Ruth, and Aaron in the Hall.
  1. Edgar Martinez 9th
  2. Larry Walker 8th
  3. Roger Clemens 6th
  4. Barry Bonds 6th
  5. Curt Schilling 6th
  6. Sammy Sosa 6th
  7. Mike Mussina 5th
  8. Jeff Kent 5th
  9. Gary Sheffield 4th
  10. Trevor Hoffman 3rd
  11. Billy Wagner 3rd
  12. Vladimir Guerrero 2nd
  13. Manny Ramirez 2nd
  14. Chipper Jones 1st
  15. Jim Thome 1st
  16. Scott Rolen 1st
  17. Jamie Moyer 1st
  18. Omar Vizquel 1st
Now, with 18 people "worthy" in my eyes I have a problem since the ballot only allows us to select up to ten people - so there are some hard decisions to be made on my ballot.  Here are my picks for the Hall of Fame this year...

1.  Edgar Martinez
It's not Edgar's fault that he excelled at the DH and that basically no one currently in the Hall of Fame was primarily a DH.  Since the DH exists as an official position (whether or not I agree with the concept of the DH is a different story entirely), I don't think that the person generally regarded as the best ever at the position should be denied entry in the Hall of Fame. 

2.  Roger Clemens
Whether you like the guy or not, Clemens was an absolute force for most of his playing career.  He had a brash attitude, but he backed up his bravado by his actions on the field.  For reasons that I don't quite get, Clemens only appeared on 54.1% of ballots last year.  This is his sixth year on the ballot and I believe he's waited long enough to pay for his general surliness.  

3.  Barry Bonds
Yes, yes.  I know.  Many people won't like this selection - but for all of Bonds' many transgressions, at least they were all in an attempt to better himself on the baseball field.  For what I know, Bonds was plenty salty to media and the like, but his only true "crimes" were the alleged (proven?) use of steroids and similar substances.  That said, pre-super jacked up Bonds would have been a Hall of Famer in my eyes and while I don't like that he cheated for so long, the cheater was clear (pun intended) to everyone watching the game but no one cared until years later.  Bonds helped bring baseball back after a dreadful couple of years in early-to-mid-90s and he deserves to be enshrined.

4.  Curt Schilling
Another baseball character who rubs people the wrong way, I actually get the feeling that Schilling has created more enemies since leaving baseball than when he was active in the sport (which is some sort of accomplishment in itself since he didn't appear to be all that well-liked during his playing days).  All that said, Schilling was a ferocious competitor, and for a few years, a true beast on the pitching mound.  I doubt Schilling gets in this year, but he does get my (meaningless) vote.

5.  Mike Mussina
Every person that casts a ballot probably has at least one guy on the ballot to which they have some sort of personal connection that goes beyond the statistics.  Mussina is that guy for me.  He grew up in a nearby town and part of me would love to see a local product make the Hall of Fame.  That said, even though I do have some bias here, Mussina's numbers are definitely Hall of Fame worthy.  I know that I didn't realize just how good his numbers were over the years until I looked them up...if more ballot casters take the time to do their research, I think the Moose has a good chance of being enshrined (maybe not this year, but soon).

6.  Trevor Hoffman
Hoffman basically gets the same argument for enshrinement as did Edgar Martinez (but swap DH for closer).  Hoffman notched 601 career saves which is pretty awesome...and it should be Hoffman who paves the way for Mariano Rivera to be enshrined when he is Hall eligible.

7.  Manny Ramirez
If the real selection goes like my ballot, the Red Sox are going to love this year's Hall of Fame class!  Manny is deserving of election to the Hall despite his crazy shenanigans on the field.  Like most Hall of Famers, Manny was a player that you had to play around when facing him in the lineup.  He could change the game with a single swing and with over 2500 hits, he had a long enough career to warrant election.  

And....  That's it for me.

That means from my original list of 18 people who passed my "eye test" for at least being considered, I can't cast a ballot for the following: 
Larry Walker

Sammy Sosa
Jeff Kent
Gary Sheffield
Billy Wagner
Vladimir Guerrero
Chipper Jones
Jim Thome
Scott Rolen
Jamie Moyer
Omar Vizquel

Of those, I expect that Vizquel will be the one who gets the most votes from the real voters...but his lack of offensive value hurts him in my eyes (only a .272 career hitter with no real power to speak of).  I like Larry Walker, but he suffers from Coors inflation - I think he's very good but not great.  Sosa helped to bring baseball back (like Bonds) but outside of his cheating years I don't think he was really all that good (unlike Bonds).  I'd like to see Vlad get in as well, but I couldn't find enough of a compelling reason to cast a fake ballot for him (that said, he had almost enough votes to get in last year so there's a good chance he makes it even without my *fake* ballot help).  On a personal level, I'd love to see Scott Rolen get in - he was a really solid player for a number of years (and I liked him) but objectively speaking his numbers don't add up for me.  Chipper is another guy who I could understand people voting for, but again, his numbers aren't quite there for me (and he is also another guy who seems to have rubbed a lot of people the wrong way since his retirement).  

All things considered, that was a fun little exercise.  I'm sure that my ballot would cause just as much consternation and complaining as any of the "real" ballots cast by the writers...but I guess that's the fun of it on a cold, windy, dreary winter's day!