Monday, September 22, 2014

From the Pedro Binder

2004 Topps Own the Game

Wowsers! If style is not a substitute for substance, nobody told Topps when they were designing this card. It’s been a while since I’ve seen as much flair for the sake of having flair as this card presents.

First, the whole name is weird. Own the Game. Who are they talking to? Do I get to own the Game? Does Pedro Own the Game? I suppose he owns every game he pitches. Is that what they meant?

OK. The elephant in the room. What is with the graphics? Are they trying to go retro? The big star/baseball graphic? I’d say it was too ostentatious, but that would be ignoring the rest of the card’s lack of subtlety. What’s with the shiny swirly behind Pedro? Or the swirly stars? Or the checkerboard? Then the really strange part. Those graphics don’t take up the whole card. The top is left clean for the Topps and Red Sox logos. On a big thick blank stripe. Huh? If you’re going to give me a visual headache, might as well go the whole way, right? Maybe they did it so that I could pick out Pedro. Since his head sticks out into the border, I can actually find him.

I get it. It’s an insert card. They’re trying something new. They want to make the insert stand out in the pack. I certainly knew I got this card when I pulled it.  I’m just not sure that should be their only goal when designing the card.

And to think, this was before the Topps monopoly. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Parallel Universe

I opened up my first blaster of Topps Chrome the other day. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be another one of those box break posts. You’ve all seen them before. It’s more about this card that I pulled from one of the packs.

Yup. It’s one of those fancy colored refractors that Topps included in the set. No, it’s not a great hit. It wasn’t the best card in the box. As a Sox fan, the Xander Bogaerts RC was a much better pull. But, this is still a fairly rare card. It’s numbered to 75, after all. Even though I don’t love  it, somebody must…right? There have to be 75 Diamondback fans out there, right? Maybe even 100? Wouldn’t they be happy to add this to their collection? Shouldn’t I somehow get it into their hands?

This isn’t even specific to this card. The advent of parallel sets has done a couple things to the team/player collection. No matter what team or player you collect, there are suddenly rare cards to chase. 25 years ago, if you collected Jody Reed, you had four or five cards every year to get, and none of them were all that hard to find. Mike Greenwell had a few more, since he would be included in an all-star subset or two. As the insert sets came around, the difference grew. Reed still got his five base versions, but Greenwell would be in subsets, and insert sets. He might be into double digits. Or higher. It left Reed collectors in the dust. Where’s the fun in collecting if you can get every card in about ten minutes? There’s no chase.

Parallel cards have put an end to that. Now, every player has cards that will take some effort to chase. There’s a numbered parallel of everyone from David Ortiz to Stephen Drew.

Which makes me feel a little guilty holding onto cards like this one. I have to assume that somebody is looking for it. Along with all the other parallel cards  have sitting around. So, I ask you…

What do you all do with them?

I could try to throw it up on the bay and find a collector that way. But, it’s not like this is a Mike Trout card. I’m not sure that even in its shiny numbered glory it would earn enough to make it worth the effort.

It would be easier if it were a Phillies card. The PhilliesRoom gets all of those from me. So Jim will be getting two of the other refractors in the box, at some point. But, I don’t send all my Diamondbacks cards anywhere. Do other people have lists of collectors from every team? When you get a card like this, do you run to the list and find all the different collectors who would like it? “So-and-so collects the Diamondbacks, but so-and-so is collecting a Sepia set…” Do you have a destination for every team? Do you hang onto them, on the off chance that five or ten or fifteen years from now someone announces that they are looking for all the chrome cards of NL West teams? As I’ve mentioned, I only keep non Red Sox non stars for ten years. So, I’d have a time limit of that sort of opportunity. I could just hold onto them until the ten years is up, and hope I can find a team collector by then, I suppose.

Do you do a periodic “Things I have to trade” post, and show off all the low-budget hits you’ve accumulated over the last few months? All the jersey cards of former Brewers closers taking up space in your collection?

Is there a method to your madness?

How do you find a home for this guy?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Keep Moving Forward

Rusney Castillo is set to make his first Red Sox appearance tonight. Whenever a new player is added to a line-up, whether by call-up, trade, or signing, there’s certain anticipation. Where will he play? Where will he bat? What happens to all the other players in the line-up as a result? This is especially interesting since Castillo is added to an outfield that is already pretty crowded with fairly recent additions and holdovers. I can imagine that it’ll be a jumbled mess of things for a bit. Which, probably means we’ll be seeing everyone bat and play everywhere over the next week and a half.

But, what about next year?

When your team is out of it, like the Sox are, the focus often turns to next year. Whether it’s simply more interesting, or slightly more optimistic. I know I can’t help but think, “How great will the line-up be next year with all these guys in it?” I even started trying to write out a few potential line-ups. That’s where I ran into trouble.

I had no idea where there players should bat.

I had no idea who the players would even be.

I’ve said it before. The roster right now will look nothing like the one on Opening Day. It can’t. There’s too much duplication. You want your outfield to be Cespedes-Castillo-Bradley? Fine. What are you doing with Betts, Victorino and Craig? Betts is doing a pretty good job right now in centerfield, and the lead-off spot. Both of those roles are expected to belong to Castillo very soon. What does that mean? I have to either just sit back and wait to see what happens, or just start making stuff up in dreamland.

Which do you think I do?

Exactly. What do I think could, or might happen? Are there any sure things? Of course not. But, I feel safe assuming that Xander Bogaerts will be at short on Opening Day. David Ortiz will be DH. The rest? I bet it depends on what they can get in a trade, and who gets them the best value. I don’t think anyone is untouchable, if they get the right return. I only think Bogaerts is safer because there’s not an obvious replacement breathing down his neck. So, what would I like to see? Using players currently on the team?

How about a Craig-Castillo-Cespedes outfield, leaving Bradley Jr as a great fourth guy and defensive replacement. I like the three C approach that must beg for a nickname. I envision Middlebrooks and Napoli at the corners, giving Middlebrooks one last chance to lose his job. Up the middle, Xander and Betts form the double-play combo that will star at Fenway for the next five years. Again, B-B is just asking for a nickname. Vazquez gets to catch a pitching staff that is suddenly rich with the talent acquired from all the players I just traded away.

What does that do to the line-up? I’m assuming that Castillo was signed to lead off. Works for me at this point. I’m tempted to just slide everyone down from there. That would put the order something like: Castillo-Betts-Bogaerts-Ortiz-Cespedes-Napoli-Craig-Middlebrooks-Vazquez. I like the looks of that. You could take Betts and make him that “second leadoff” thing and bat him ninth. But, that’s just semantics at this point. I like it. It puts Bogaerts in a pretty good spot for success, and forms a pretty decent meat of the order. Yup. Let’s go with that.

What do you think?

Monday, September 15, 2014

From the Pedro Binder

1999 UD Choice

It’s weird, sometimes, how the simplest cards end up being the best.

Take this card. There’s nothing to it. It’s not flashy. It’s not high end. There’s really nothing going for it. But, it ends up as an almost perfect card.

Look at all the information on the card. Player name, team, position. Even Pedro’s number. What more could I ask for? And, look at the UD choice logo. It’s nicely tucked away in the corner. In fact, all the information is stuffed in the bottom of the card, allotting the picture to have full reign over the top. The information isn’t crammed, either. It’s nicely laid out with colorful graphics. Well done.

I like the border to. It’s stupid, but the two rounded corners really add something for me. It’s a little bit of attractiveness, that’s barely noticeable. Those are the best kinds of additions. Ones that you don’t even realizes that you’re enjoying.

The picture itself is nothing special, but it doesn’t need to be either. It’s tightly cropped to make Pedro the main focus. This is clearly a Pedro Martinez card.

And a darn nice one at that.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Collecting the Sox: Collegiate Cards

I have an  unopened set of 1992 Topps Traded in my card cabinet. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. After all, many collectors jumped on those sets when they came out for one big reason.

The Team USA cards.

Everyone missed the boat when  Topps released Olympic cards in 1985. We almost all had it figured out in 1988. By 1992, we knew what we were doing. So, I’m sure any number of you either had, or still have this set. The weird part is why I still have this set.

As I’ve mentioned many times, I keep cards for ten years. Well, I keep non-Red Sox, non-star cards for ten years. After a decade, they get cleared out to make room for the new releases. So, when the 2014 sets were released, out got the 2004. Some went to the Phillies Room, some went to other places. Some will find their way to the trash heap. (As few as humanly possible will end up there) So, why haven’t I opened up this set that’s more than 20 years old, taken the Red Sox and gotten rid of the rest?

Because of two cards I don’t know what to do with.

Two Team USA cards.

Of course, I’m talking about the cards for Jason Varitek and Nomar Garicaparra. Two Red Sox icons had their first cards in this set, as members of Team USA. I can’t decide whether or not to put them in my Red Sox binder, so I’m avoiding the issue. It was easier when Nomar was still on the Sox. As a Red Sox lifer, it was easy to include the Team USA in the binder for the only team he’d ever played for. But, that’s not true anymore. It’s not like the Red Sox could lay claim to every card he ever appeared on.The Varitek was even tougher, since he started with the Mariners organization. By rights anything before he was a pro should be a Mariner card, right? But it’s Tek! He’s the Captain. Does anyone think of him as anything but a Red Sox?

It’s not just those two who have questions in my collection. I have a Mo Vaughn card from his days in the Cape Cod League. Obvously, like Nomar, we was drafted by the Red Sox on his way to a stellar career in Boston. But, like Nomar, he then left. Played for a couple other teams. The Mo card used to be in my Red Sox collection. But now?

Obviously, if it’s a minor league card, it belongs to whatever organization the card is from. So, any Varitek minor league cards would not make my Red Sox collection. But, items from his college years are without official affiliations. So, it’s a judgement call. I just don’t know what that call is.

Would a college card make your team collection?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Picture Pages

This was an absolute banner weekend for submissions of Section 36 Pix. I thought it made for a great opportunity to show everyone who might not look at the pages every day what they’ve been missing.

One of my favorite pages is the Pix in 36 page, showing pictures of people enjoying a game in Section 36. Recent additions include:

Submitted by Pita

Submitted by Jack
A bit camera shy? That’s OK. People also this weekend sent in Pix from Section 36. Like this great shot:

Submitted by Yakily
Another great page is the Pix with 36 page. It’s not always possible to get seats in Section 36. There’s a finite number, after all. And, I know it’s not always easy to get over to Section 36 during the game. You want to stay in your seat and see all the action. But, it doesn’t mean you can’t show your support of the best section in the park! Recent additions to this page have included:

Submitted by Ariane
Sometimes, you can’t even make it to Fenway. I know, life gets in the way. That doesn’t mean you wouldn’t rather be there. Pics with a “I’d Rather be in Section 36” sign can be the most creative. Like this latest addition:

Submitted by Celia
So, as you can see, there’s no reason not to check out the great submissions to Section 36 Pix every day. And, go “like” the Section 36 FB page so you can see even more all the time. A big thank you to everyone who submitted pictures this weekend, or any other time!

After all, we all love great looking pictures!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

From the Pedro Binder

2001 Pacific Private Stock - Game Used Gear

I love this card for one specific reason. Don't you hate getting relic cards that don't give you any information on the relic contained in it? Where did it come from? Where was it used? That's not the case with this one. The back of the card clearly sates it's from an Adirondack bat that Pedro used in 2000. Not only does it say what season it's from, it tells you the type of bat! How much more specific can it get? It even mentions that, as a pitcher, Pedro is more known for taking the bat out of opponent's hand than putting it into his. How clever.

But, since Pedro is an AL pitcher, I wonder how many times he would have batted in 2000? Maybe I can pinpoint the exact game. A quick check tells me I was right. He didn't bat much in 2000. In fact, he never stepped to the plate that season. (A fact that was especially annoying to me, if you remember)


So, when, exactly, was this Adirondack bat "used"? How was it "used"? Was it a Spring Training bat? Would Pedro have batted in a Spring Training game? Did he take batting practice with it? The card says the bat is "game used." Batting practice would be a bit of a stretch, right? I guess the card doesn't say how it was used. Maybe he was holding it in the dugout? Was he mocking someone's batting stance between innings with it? Did he use it to keep the flies away?

Specific details aren't as nice when they're flat out wrong. Or even more confusing than non-details.

Wonder what the bat is from.