30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Little Engine That Could

I learned a long time ago that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.  But I'm human and that's pretty much what I did when I started collecting Jose Altuve a few years ago.  It's no secret that he's one of the shortest players in baseball and as a fellow vertically challenged human being... I was naturally drawn to his cards.

Things escalated after the 2015 season when he collected 200 hits for the second year in a row, won his 2nd stolen base title, and his first Gold Glove Award.  That's when I actively started targeting his cards on eBay.  Every year, Topps floods the hobby with his signature... which is good news to budget collectors.  You can pick up on-card signatures of him for $15 to $30 on a regular basis.

Autographed Card: 2016 Topps Five Star Autograph #FSA-JA

There are three different Altuve signatures in my collection that could be considered my favorite depending on my mood.  Today, I decided to go with this Five Star card, because it features a bold signature on a light background.

Memorabilia Card:  2016 Topps Tribute Stamp of Approval Relic #SOA-JA

While Altuve autographs tend to be reasonably priced, his memorabilia cards are not.  That's why I currently only have five memorabilia cards and one manufactured relic sitting in my collection.  I like that Topps added the MLB hologram to this card, so you can trace when and where Altuve wore this jersey.

Rookie Card: 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP137

Back in early July... right at the start of Altuve's insane month... I finally added his rookie card to my collection and wrapped up my 16th Baseball Card Trifecta.  I'm still looking to add his 2011 Topps Update rookie card to the collection.  However I decided to target this card first, because it's a year older and about 1/2 the price.

2017 has truly been a special year for Altuve.  I'd hate to jinx him... but he's currently on pace to have his 4th straight 200 hit season.  He also has a solid shot at this year's American League MVP Award.  And if the Astros (who have now won 4 of their last 5 games) can work out their issues... there's an outside chance they can walk away as the 2017 World Series Champions.

Honestly... it's a win/lose situation for me.  If he does accomplish these major feats... I'll be happy for him.  However I'm sure demand will raise his card values.  On the other hand, I'd be totally bummed if he didn't at least reach 200 hits.  And since there aren't any Athletics in the running for AL MVP and they're out of the playoff hunt... Altuve has my support.

Happy Monday and sayonara!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Token of my Appreciation

I don't like the New York Yankees.  Never have and never will.  However as a baseball fan, I've always had a deep appreciation for their rich franchise history.  I've also grown to admire some of the players who spent their entire careers wearing Yankee Pinstripes.

One of those players is Whitey Ford, who pitched his entire sixteen season career with the Yankees and is the franchise's all-time leader in wins and shutouts.

He pitched in eleven different World Series and brought home six rings.  Had he not served in the U.S. Army in 1951 and 1952, he would have won two more.  His 10 World Series wins are an MLB record.

Two of those wins came in 1955 in the Subway Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers.  In 2003, Topps produced this cool Whitey Ford relic card that honors that moment:

I've wanted one of these New York City subway token relic cards for years and have seen more than a handful slip through my fingers by last minute bids.  It was worth the wait though, because back in June I finally added one to my collection for a very reasonable price ($7.75 + $2.61 shipping).

Even though this has to be one of the most unique relic cards in my collection and it's a great addition to my Lefty PC... it still doesn't change the fact that I don't like the New York Yankees.  In fact... when neither of my teams have anything to play for (like this season)... I'd rather see the Yankees lose, than the A's or Padres win.

That's why I was so disappointed that the New York Mets were swept by the Yankees earlier in the week.  I'm hoping that Boston can return the favor this weekend and put a smile back on my face.

Happy Saturday and sayonara!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge

Oh man.  Getting old sucks.  I just spent the last thirty minutes scouring my blog reading list for a post I read about a month ago.

Somewhere out there... there's a card post that talks about Bartolo Colon getting released from the Atlanta Braves and within the reader comments, someone mentioned something about him being the last remaining former Montreal Expos player in the MLB.

That single comment planted a seed in the back of my mind that has slowly blossomed into this post.

As most of you know, I have been an avid Oakland A's fan since I was a wee little boy... and a San Diego Padres fan since the mid 80's.  But deep down inside, I've always had a soft spot for the Montreal Expos and their rich team history, bright team colors, and iconic logo.

A few years ago, I started a small Montreal Expos collection and over the years with the help of fellow bloggers, COMC, and eBay... it's grown exponentially.  I'm still trying to figure out the best way to organize my team binder, but in the meantime... I thought I'd show off my all-time Montreal Expos roster and some of my favorite cards of those players.

Catcher: Gary Carter

Expos Highlights:  7x MLB All-Star, 3x Gold Glove Awards, 3x Silver Slugger Awards, Expos All-Time WAR Leader, and one of three players wearing an Expos hat at Cooperstown.

First Base: Andres Gallaraga

Expos Highlights:  1x MLB All-Star, 2x Gold Glove Awards, and the owner of a Silver Slugger Award.

Second Base: Jose Vidro

Expos Highlights:  3x MLB All-Star, 1x Silver Slugger Awards, and 2nd highest career batting average in franchise history (tied with Tim Raines).

Shortstop: Orlando Cabrera

Expos Highlights:  2x Montreal Expos Player of the Year, 1x Gold Glove Awards, and most games played at shortstop in Expos franchise history.

Third Base: Tim Wallach

Expos Highlights:  5x MLB All-Star, 3x Gold Glove Awards, 2x Silver Slugger Awards, and the Expos franchise leader for games played, RBI's, total bases, and hits.

Left Field: Tim Raines

Expos Highlights:  7x MLB All-Star, 4x NL stolen base leader, 1x Silver Slugger Awards, 1x NL batting champion, Expos All-Time Offensive WAR Leader, and one of three players wearing an Expos hat at Cooperstown.

Center Field: Andre Dawson

Expos Highlights:  1977 NL Rookie of the Year, 3x MLB All-Star, 6x Gold Glove Awards, 3x Silver Slugger Awards, and one of three players wearing an Expos hat at Cooperstown.

Right Field:  Vladimir Guerrero

Expos Highlights:  4x MLB All-Star, 3x Silver Slugger Awards, and the Expos franchise leader for batting average, home runs, and slugging percentage.

Starting Pitcher:  Steve Rogers

Expos Highlights:  5x MLB All-Star, 1982 NL ERA leader, and the Expos franchise leader for wins, strikeouts, and shutouts.

Closer:  Jeff Reardon

Expos Highlights:  2x MLB All-Star, 1985 NL saves leader, and the Expos franchise leader for saves.

In the Dugout:

In the Bullpen:

I realize that there might be some players who I've left off my all-time roster.  Unfortunately, I based this post on the cards I currently have sitting in my collection.  Although I do enjoy collecting Montreal Expos, I have to admit that sometimes this collection gets lost in the shuffle which means that I don't add to it nearly as often as other team collections.

However there is one card I'm hoping to add sooner than later.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime...

Who are some of your favorite Montreal Expos of all-time?

Happy Thursday and sayonara!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Baseball Reference is one of my favorite websites to hang out and kill time.  I can spend hours looking up statistics and finding pieces of trivia about both players and teams.  Yesterday, I read a cool article in the January/February 2012 issue of Baseball Digest that talked about a few hall of fame pitchers and some lesser known guys who had their number.

This reminded me of a feature I discovered on Baseball Reference a while back that allows you to see batters' statistics against specific pitchers and vice versa.  If you're ever bored and want to kill time, I highly recommend you check it out.

2001 SP Game Used Authentic Fabric #GM and #TGw

I used this tool for my Six Degrees of Separation post and discovered that Greg Maddux was owned by Tony Gwynn.  Gwynn faced him 107 times, had a career .415 batting average against the Professor, and struck out zero times.  Zero times.  Maddux had 3,371 strikeouts during his 23 year career, but none of them came against #19. 

1985 Nike Poster #NNO

So who was Gwynn's kryptonite?  Well, I could say Frank DiPino, who only allowed him to reach base twice in twenty-three plate appearances.  But I prefer a larger sample size... so I decided to pick Dwight Gooden instead.  Doc is the only pitcher to face Mr. Padre fifty or more times and hold him to less than a .260 batting average.  In 77 plate appearances, Gwynn collected only 17 hits (.243 batting average).

1999 Calbee #269

So who was Gooden's kryptonite?  I'm going with Tuffy Rhodes, who faced Doc three times and each time he launched a solo home run.  I know it's a small sample size.  But who says that (sample) size matters?  Before you say it does... let me give you one more interesting fact.  All three of these home runs were hit on Opening Day back in 1994.

1995 Stadium Club Virtual Reality #16

So who was Rhodes' kryptonite?  Tuffy had a lot less MLB at bats compared to Gwynn, but two pitchers really stand out.  He only faced two pitchers fourteen or more times during his MLB career.  One of them was Orel Hershiser who had a lot of success against him.  But Ken Hill was the other pitcher... and he had even more success.  Hill didn't give up any hits, walks, or RBI's against Tuffy... which makes him his kryptonite.

2014 Topps High Tek Autographs #HT-JC

So who was Hill's kryptonite?  Jose Canseco owned Mr. Hill.  In 36 plate appearances, Canseco cranked out 15 hits, 4 of which were home runs.  When you throw in his 3 walks, he reached base 50% of the time.

1985 OPC #273

So who was Canseco's kryptonite?  Hershiser didn't just dominate Rhodes, he also had Canseco's number.  Bulldog struck out Canseco 11 times in only 30 plate appearances and only allowed him to reach base four times (2 singles and 2 walks).

1988 Topps Big #91 and #161

This post could literally go on forever... so I figured I would wrap things up by seeing how Tony Gwynn fared against Hershiser.  They faced each other 88 times.  Gwynn collected 25 hits (9 of them were doubles) and walked 8 times, had a career batting average of .321, while only striking out twice.   I'd say he had the upper hand against him... although I've got to admit, Hershiser played the role of kryptonite against plenty MLB hitters.

Okay guys... it's your turn.

Do you remember any of your favorite players owning specific players?

If not... head over to Baseball Reference and find out.  Just type in your player's name and look under the advanced stats tab for either "vs. batter" or "vs. pitcher".  Just be warned.  You could end up spending hours on there.

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!