The attention span of a …

Maybe it’s social media’s availability, maybe it’s lack of self-control, but my attention spans seem to get shorter every year. While creating a catalog of all my Twins relic/autographs for insurance purposes – and to double-check against while at the National – I got distracted by the draft again.

Baseball-Reference is both a blessing and a curse. Everything you could ever want to know is available with a quick search – in this case whether anybody had been drafted out of my home town in Minnesota, or my high schools in Louisiana/Ohio. (For the curious – no.) However, in doing so I checked in on one of my main player super collections – Ryan Eades.

While I knew he was being tested as a reliever for the first time with the Twins this year, I didn’t know they’d briefly moved him up to AAA Rochester. He seemed to succeed with them, so I’m not sure why prior to his 7 day DL stint(6/10) he was sent back down to AA Chattanooga. I’m not the biggest follower of our minor league system though, despite following all of their accounts on twitter. Maybe Rochester needed a spot starter – someone injured?

With Minnesota’s lack of pitching depth, I’d love to see #37 in Mini-sodas. Sporting a much improved WHIP, and ERA in two games(#SmallSampleSizes) with Rochester. I’m lovin’ that K/9, SO/W, and ERA – albeit over 8 IP. If he’ll step it up with Rochester, he could be an option to be a fill-in 4-5th starter with Minnesota come the end of the year. Here’s to hoping – I need new cards to #Collect of his, and a MLB debut would fulfill that!

#baseball-reference, #ryan-eades

Panini Father’s Day

We’re preparing for our trip the National this year and decided to get more supplies to bring with us. A trade box, some penny sleeves, and four magnetic holders of a few different sizes later… we decided to break a box for the Panini Father’s Day promo packs. When it came to deciding what to break it came down to 2017 Donruss, 2017 Diamond Kings, or 2015 Contenders(baseball). We’re nearing a complete set of Donruss, and lawdy knows we have enough Diamond Kings(not that we won’t be breaking a box or three at the National…).

Forever ago we broke a retail box of this and ended up with a red foil SP(#/d 200 or less) of Jorge Mateo. The speedy Yankees prospect is highly rated on Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and’s prospect watch lists. The 2017 Florida State League All-Star has hit .255/.330/.397, with 69 doubles, 21 homers, and 205 SB(!) in six seasons since being signed as a 17 year old in 2012. Not too shabby of a prospect.

From this box however, here’s the highlights:

Stephen Piscotty, Alex Bregman(USA), Alex Bregman, Carso Fulmer
Dansby Swanson, Dansby Swanson(USA), Trea Turner(USA), Robert Refsnyder, and Andrew Benintendi.

I believe these are considered the base set. Had I not seen the rest of the set I would’ve believed these were more inserts… I pulled a few guys that y’all might’ve heard of, prior to their MLB debuts. The foil on these are hard to make out, so I’ve typed the player’s names below each photo.

Dansby Swanson, Aaron Judge, Stephen Piscotty, Michael Conforto, Kyle Schwarber,
Carson Fulmer, Alex Bregman, Andrew Benintendi, Trea Turner and Robert Refsnyder.

I understand the criticism that Panini can’t use MLB logos or team names, however I think this is a great compromise as MLB doesn’t have any rights to NCAA licenses.

Carson Fulmer, Luis Severino, Yoan Moncada, Carson Fulmer,
Dansby Swanson 2x, Andrew Benintendi, Alex Bregman.

A few more inserts to tease before I show off the autos from the box.  These School Colors inserts and the Old School Colors probably could’ve been condensed, but what do I know?

On the far right, there’s a cracked ice #/99 Kevin Newman, a shortstop with the Pirates, currently playing with their AA affiliate the Altoona Curve. Heetz. My second Josh Naylor auto with the previous from Leaf Draft – Naylor’s with the Padres Single-A affiliate the Lake Elsinore Storm. “Donald” DeWees is in the Royals system with their AA affiliate Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Jorge Mateo again! This time not a SP. Mateo’s in the Yankees chain with the A(Adv) chain Tampa Yankees. Jahmai Jones was drafted by the Angels and is playing for their A(full) affiliate Burlington Bees. However, the two best cards we pulled were Carson Fulmer and Ryan Howard. :).

Not that Ryan Howard, this one’s with the Single-A San Jose Giants in the… Giants chain! #/d 1/15! Carson Fulmer made his MLB debut last year and was promptly rocked to the tune of a 8.49 ERA in 8 relief appearances(11.2 IP). Used solely as a starter in the minors, Carson’s put up a slightly better 4.24 ERA but he’s struck out 176 batters in 193.1 IP! This one’s also #/d 1/15!

Dustin Pedroia #/95/99, Jake Arrieta #/110/190, Miguel Cabrera #/12/149, Eric Hosmer #/619/999.

We were a little short for the Panini packs, so we broke 5 Donruss packs to finish off an open box, and pulled four #/d cards, and a Dansby Swanson The Rookies. Sure, it’s no Brian Dozier, but I’ll take trade bait leading into the National. :D. As for our father’s day cards, we pulled two #/99 NBA cards of players I forget. :(.

Happy Father’s day to all the fathers out their whether child or beast, and we hope the socks are comfy. Lol.

#2015-panini-contenders, #2017-donruss, #carson-fulmer, #donald-dewees, #dustin-pedroia, #eric-hosmer, #fathers-day, #jahmai-jones, #jake-arrieta, #jorge-mateo, #josh-naylor, #kevin-newman, #miguel-cabrera, #ryan-howard

Trade considerations…

Would you trade for a player worth 5.3 WAR over three seasons if it meant you got rid of a career .167/.239/.262 hitter who to that point had 5 hits in 31 at-bats with your team? With 12 strikeouts? Even if they hit a home run and drove in two? I don’t know about you, but I’d make that trade every day. Mind you hind sight is everything, but I’d willingly take this trade every time – sometimes a change of place is all that’s needed.

In trading former 1969 1st round draft pick(7th) Paul Powell at the end of the 1971 season to the Dodgers for Bobby Darwin, the Twins traded nearly equal players. However, Darwin turned his career around after the trade while Powell remained stagnant. Darwin had made a few poor appearances in the major leagues, but had turned it around in the 1970/1971 minor league seasons.

Prior to the trade, both players were about even in the minor league ranks as you can see with a slight edge to the older Bobby Darwin(28 to 23). Darwin’s 17 games with the Dodgers in 1969/1971, and Powell’s 20 games with the Twins in 1971 not withstanding. However after the trade? As you’ll see, Darwin stuck around the major leagues, while Powell hung up his cleats in 1975 appearing in only 10 games for the Dodgers. Darwin was traded in the middle of 1975(the Twins receiving John Briggs), and retired with the Cubs in 1977. I’m not a OOTP or Baseball Mogul player, but I’d make this trade every day. :).

#1971, #apba, #baseball-mogul, #bobby-darwin, #dodgers, #ootp, #paul-powell, #twins

2017 Stars & Stripes and the MLB draft.

Prior to my trip we broke a hobby box of 2017 Stars & Stripes and quickly posted the results on twitter. We beat the odds and got a hot box yielding eight auto/relic/combo cards instead of the five promised, which is always nice. But I wanted to take a quick second and break down the set now that the MLB draft has concluded.

Not those Minnesota Twins – Twins.

With the types of sets that include 15U, 18U, and college Team USA players, it’s sometimes hard to know which players ended up with the Twins. However with the draft having just concluded, we’ve only a few cards of players that are either still in high school/college or chose a university to attend in the fall. However, we did end up with one future Twin – third rounder, 76th overall Blayne Enlow. In both base form, and auto #/499!

#ThanksPanini – Base/Collation.

We only had two duplicates – sort of… – single base cards of top prospect Hunter Greene and Mark McGwire, and single base cards of their “Longevity” parallels.

  • Ian Anderson – Braves – 2016 1st round, #3.
  • Braxton Garrett – Marlins – 2016 1st round, #7.
  • William Benson – Indians – 2016 1st round, #14.
  • Matt Thaiss – Angels – 2016 1st round, #16.
  • Zack Burdi – White Sox – 2016 1st round, #26.
  • Robert Tyler – Rockies – 2016 1st round, #38.
  • Anfernee Grier – Diamondbacks – 2016 1st round, #39.
  • Logan Shore – Athletics – 2016 2nd round, #47.
  • Buddy Reed – Padres – 2016 2nd round, #48.
  • Cole Stobbe – Phillies – 2016 3rd round, #78.
  • Bobby Dalbec – Red Sox – 2016 4th round, #118.
  • Hunter Greene – Reds – 2017 1st round, #2.
  • Brendan McKay – Rays – 2017 1st round, #4.
  • Kyle Wright – Braves – 2017 1st round, #5.
  • J.B. Bukauskas – Astros – 2017 1st round, #15.
  • Tanner Houck – Red Sox – 2017 1st round, #24.
  • Calvin Mitchell – Pirates – 2017 2nd round, #50.
  • M.J. Melendez – Royals – 2017 2nd round, #52.
  • Blayne Enlow – Twins – 2017 3rd round, #76. 🙂

Frank Thomas …
Mark McGwire …

Gimmicks – Short-Prints/Serials.

We didn’t get many parallels, just four of the “Longevity” parallels mentioned above, and one low #/d card.

Keston Hiura – Brewers – 2017 – 1st round, #9.
Mark McGwire …
Hunter Greene – Reds – 2017 1st round, #2
Ricky Tyler Thomas – Cubs – 2017 7th round, #225.
Dansby Swanson – Diamondbacks/Braves – 2015 1st, #1. #/d 23/25.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, but what about the hits? – Hits, duh.

Sammy Faltine isn’t eligible for the draft until 2019. #/d 7/10.
Holden Powell wasn’t drafted and is committed to attending UCLA this fall. #/d 391/399.
Jared Jones isn’t eligible for the draft until 2020. #/d 1/25.
Blayne Enlow – Twins – 2017 3rd round, #76. :D. #/d 182/499.

Darren McCaughan – Mariners – 2017 12th round, #363. #/d 160/199.
Kevin Gowdy – Phillies – 2016 2nd round, #42. #/d 32/75.
Jasiah Dixon isn’t eligible for the draft until 2019. #/d 14/25.
Michael Brooks isn’t eligible for the draft until 2020. #/d 22/25.

Final impression.

Strengths: Bonus hits, base set showcases newest draftees, patches not too dull, variety of #/d auto/relics, base design.
Weaknesses: 14U/15U players heavily in the hits category, limited parallels(though the extra hits may have taken their place), only two Twins :D.

The 1970 Twins and APBA lead to a discovery…

While searching for a way to find out if the APBA team sets I picked up the other day were complete, I made a minor discovery. One that at the least amused myself.

I found a source for checklists after a lot of Google searches – APBA’s website! The “Lineups” correspond to sets they’ve issued and for most re-issued. Think of APBA as Dungeons and Dragons lite – your dice rolls(2 die, one for the first digit, one for the second) determine how the batter does based on their stats on card in given situations(empty bases no outs for example) to play out the season’s games. Each year they would release updated cards with game affecting stats based on the previous season – since 1951!

A sample card.

So when long-time hobby editor/writer/DFW show promoter Rich said he had a few early 1970s sets he had picked up my interest was piqued. I believe I have a full/partial set now for the 1967, 1970, 1971, and 1972 Twins, as well as a 1970 Vikings set – the latter of which someone had “traded” O.J. Simpson and Fran Tarkenton(during his Giants hiatus) to the Vikings. Imagine that stacked team!

What could have been…

So with the teams that I did find, naturally I compared them to the checklists from APBAs website, and while creating a spreadsheet to keep track of which I find(….) I ran across a Twins player I had never heard of – a rarity. They were given an APBA card in essentially the “APBA Traded/Updates” set – XCs(Extra Cards). Allow me to introduce Christobal “Minnie” Mendoza. Now he’s not much of a major league hitter – in 16 plate appearances, Minnie had two runs, hits, two RBI, and a strikeout with his .188/.188/.188 slash line – however Minnie was a long time minor league and Mexican leaguer. In 19 seasons with the Cincinnati and Washington/Minnesota franchises, Minnie produced 1155 runs, 2389 hits, 350 doubles, 59 triples, 66 home runs, 817 RBI, 166 stolen bases, and averaged .290(no composite OBP/SLG) as an infielder mostly at third base. Quoting the blog post here, Mendoza is one of the oldest players to make their MLB debut:

The Twins said he was 36 (using the birth date that’s still believed to be correct), but Mendoza insisted he was 34. His promotion to the big leagues wasn’t exactly a gift; the previous season he had led the Class AAA American Association with 194 hits and batted .333. “Sometimes I feel like quitting, but I don’t,” he said in the spring of 1970. “I love baseball. I love to travel, too.”

After his playing career ended in 1972, Minnie managed the Ciudad Juarez Indios of the Mexican leagues in 1974(60-78) and again in 1975(58-80). His second stint as a manager went as well as his first – finishing his managerial career in his lone season with the Miami Orioles of the Florida State League in 1981(44-92).

Seen here on a 1981 TCMA set.

The aforementioned Miami team would swap allegiances the next season instead paring with the Athletics and becoming the Miami Marlins a team briefly graced with a 17 year old Jose Canseco. A few years later in 1989, the team would again change names becoming the Miami Miracle – and as fate would have it the team would move to the original home of the franchise Fort Myers in 1992 to become the Miracle. A Class A minor league team that’s served the Twins well over the years. :).

#apba, #fort-myers-miracle, #jose-canseco, #minnie-mendoza

Catching up…

Last year I drove across the mid-west getting married, on our honeymoon, and driving to the National and back in our personal car. This year, I helped drive my best man and brother from another mother(cousin) move from Ohio to Minnesota. Next year I’m not driving anywhere! However, while I was out and about, I stopped in a few different cities to check out the card stores/retail chains. I’ve posted most of these on twitter, but as Paul Harvey was fond of saying, here’s the rest of the story…

I left Texas sometime around the early morning of the 17th of May with the intention of being in Dayton around midnight. I’ll never forget the day, as prior to leaving we found out about the death of a music legend, Chris Cornell. His music(whether in Temple of the Dog, Soundgarden, as a solo artist, or with Audioslave) has been always been an influential part of my life, and it’s a shame that he’s passed.* As far as making it to Ohio that night, our tires had other plans. As around Nashville both right side tires would not stay inflated. I tried stopping to fill them up a few times, and I could limp for an hour without needing to refill, however they wouldn’t stay inflated. My wife’s a magnet when it comes to attracting nails in tires, and these had been plugged a few times. Thus I decided it was probably for the best to crash for the night, get them changed in the morning, then drive the remaining 5-6 hours. That morning while waiting for my tires to be changed, I grabbed a few retail packs of 2017 Donruss. While I can’t be certain which individual packs they were, I posted on Twitter my entire trip’s worth of Donruss/retail pack breaking here. With the right side tires replaced, rotated, and filled I set out for Dayton.

When I made it there, my cousins(best man, and his younger sister – my god daughter) and I stayed up super late and played different games on my Nintendo Switch. That next morning I figured it was probably best if I stopped by and said hello to the in-laws(same town), and helped the father in law move his truck onto a trailer so he could sell it later that week. Beats mowing his lawn, eh? Lol. For this, his wife(mother in law) rewarded me with the Nintendo line-up of toys that McDonalds(where she works on the side) had at the time.

Later that day, we stopped in at the local card/comic/gaming shop – Mavericks where they had a discount bin of 3 relics/autos for 2$. I was pleasantly surprised to find several Hall of Fame, and future Hall of Fame members from the “relic boom” era of the early 2000s. I may have even started a binder sorted by induction year because of this discounted box. Also, they had junk 4,000 count boxes for 4$ each, of which the one that I purchased, I’ve yet to fully dig through – but most of it is from the junk wax era, naturally.

A day or two later, we set out for Minnesota with cookies and monster handy for the equally long 18 hour drive. We stopped for breakfast in the Twin Cities, and made a stop into ‘topher‘s favorite LCS 3 Stars. Here I picked up a Heritage team set(minus SP/inserts), and a bargain box.  The latter of which, I broke down in the replies below the bargain box link.

When we finally made it to northern Minnesota, we both crashed hard at our grandma’s house. There’s absolutely nothing around, and if you leave our hometown in any direction there’s no cell phone signal for hours. It’s a dark hole of technology. Everything moves slower up there, they get major life changing gadgets years after they’ve released – the sports bar finally got wifi! Last year! I suppose waste not, want not is most important for the mostly rural farmers.

We did drive down to the nearest bigger town to stop in at Wal-Mart for groceries for the final leg of our trip. Naturally I checked their sports and toys aisles, nothing intriguing sports wise, but I did get a rare World of Nintendo Ganon 2.5″ figure. Woot. From there, we drove down to Fargo where after lunch with his father and grandmother, I left my cousin behind and rejoined my grandma and uncle three hours north. But before leaving Fargo to return to my hometown, I wanted to check out Fargo’s visitor’s center to see the wood-chipper from the movie(Fargo, duh…). I was saddened to hear the Roger Maris museum was temporarily closed after a major theft last year that the FBI is/was investigating.

There’s something about grandma’s place that feels safer than any other. She lives 17 miles from our hometown, in a town of ~300, mostly middle aged and elderly folks. The town’s got two gas stations, a grain depot, a bar, two churches, and co-op schools serving K-12. There’s absolutely nothing around for miles, and it’s just perfect. I need to go up there every so often just to completely refresh the brain batteries. :).

The wife found cheap flights and flew in the Friday before Memorial Day and flew into Minneapolis, so I drove down the 6 hours and after picking her up, returned up north. She had arranged for us to catch the Twins game that Sunday – but only booked the hotel for Sunday into Monday. While driving home, AGAIN the tires went out – this time the other two. So we slept in the car in the parking lot of a Walmart outside of Alexandria, Minnesota. While there, we grabbed a few packs of 2017 Donruss, and a discounted Bowman from 2016. In the morning while getting the other two replaced, they informed us that the tire shop in Nashville didn’t rotate them, and that both new tires were placed on the right side – passenger and rear. The tire shop in Minnesota swapped them around however and replaced the remaining two older tires.

With the tires taken care of(and a 2 ton jack purchased….), we made the trip up to my home town and had a dinner party at my uncle’s place. Before driving the 17 miles to grandma’s for bed, we stopped in at the ‘barely staying alive’ K-Mart. Inside we grabbed these Angry Birds Twins stuffed animals for a buck each. In the morning, grandma made her specialty pierogies for breakfast before helping us pack for the return trip to Minneapolis.

We arrived in Minneapolis just in time for the team to open the gates – two hours early. We’d been hoping to catch a few of the local sights after the game but… little did we know, the Twins were about to play the longest game in Target Field history – six and a half hours! 15 innings! During the game, which the Twins lost, we met up with the team’s mascot T.C. and got his signature on our ticket, saw a deranged drug addict run on the field, and enjoyed our favorite stadium food – a Cuban sandwich from Tony O’s(Tony Oliva’s restaurant if that weren’t obvious…) stand near the gate we entered.

After the game we were wiped, so we decided on checking into our swanky, spendy, 5 star hotel in downtown. Really. It was right across the street from First Avenue, the Target Center, and the Mayo Clinic. The first of which, we checked out the attached restaurant and had two Purple Rains, and a Grave Dancer. Pretty good drinks, obviously named in honor of Prince, and Soul Asylum.

Before leaving for Texas the next morning we checked out a few of those local sights, including the Spoonbridge and Cherry, Minnehaha Falls – no Little Hiawatha to be found, and Mickey’s Diner – yes the same one from Mighty Ducks and a few other movies/TV shows. In a semi-funny twist of fate, the return trip to Texas, was about the same amount of time it took me to get to the Twin Cities, pick up the wife, and the entirety of the Twins game.

So with all of that, you might understand the blog absence. The wife spoiled me with a few hobby boxes of Diamond Kings after we made it back, and tomorrow I’ll share some of the pictures and background story for those of you who missed it on twitter. :).

  • May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and with the tragic suicide of a music legend, I feel the need to share a few of my favorites. If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out for help from friends or a licensed physician. 
  1. Hunger Strike, in tribute to their fallen friend, and fellow musician Andrew Wood, Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder showcase a perfect harmony. 
  2. Nothing Compares 2 U, a cover of a Prince penned work. Truly, nobody’s compares to Cornell ‘ very distinctive voice. 
  3. Billie Jean, with no offense to Michael Jackson – Chris absolutely rocked this tune.
  4. Black Hole Sun, probably Sound garden’s most memorable music video and song. 
  5. Unplugged in Sweden, I cannot recommend this acoustic performance enough. 
  6. Wide Awake, much more could have been done to prevent the Hurricane Katrina disaster that affected others and my own family. This one’s dedicated to those affected with property damage, and the unfortunate who lost their lives. 

#3-stars, #angry-birds, #bowman, #chris-cornell, #donruss, #fargo, #mavericks, #mickeys-diner, #minnehaha-falls, #minnesota, #nintendo, #prince, #roger-maris, #soul-asylum, #spoonbridge-and-cherry, #t-c, #tony-oliva, #twins, #update, #world-of-nintendo

20 years in #TheHobby.

While 1987 Topps is commonly used in reprint sets like Archives(Of which, check this and this out) and as inserts in Topps flagship, this year marks its 30th anniversary – as such they’re dedicating a S1/S2 insert run on the design. 1987 Topps didn’t have the glitz and glamour of parallel and autographed versions that today’s versions have – 30 years is an anniversary worth celebrating – IF they wouldn’t have over-saturated the design in other sets. The Twins did a thing that year(yet only have one 1987 insert through Series One, Series Two), and I was born in late September – so naturally I feel compelled to collect the insert set.

I’m drawn to it sure, but I’ll wait for a year end set on feebay to show up. I just can’t justify breaking that many cases to get a quarter of the set. I get the hobby hate for the wood grain, super cropped, semi-blurry set but it along with factory sets of 1991 Topps, 1991 Fleer and 1990 Score were my first hobby introductions. Reviewing the Series 2 checklist got my thinking about other anniversaries. No, not our first wedding anniversary(July 9th!), but of my first packs that I can remember opening….

My parents wanted to get me involved in collecting of some kind for a healthy hobby around the time I was eight or nine. While I had originally chosen post cards(as my father was in the Marines at the time, and we uprooted frequently), I quickly moved into older coins – wheat pennies especially. Around this time we’d enjoy family time playing old board games, Super Nintendo(of which Madden and Super Bases Loaded got plenty of play time), and watching Twins/Vikings games on TV.

Pops isn’t much of a regular season baseball person, and the North Stars had vacated Minnesota a few years prior but we cherished those times watching/playing MLB/NFL games together. As I entered middle school, I was given the choice to play football or baseball, and as the Vikings had only disappointed me, the history of baseball drew me in. Plus the stats helped with my math, and learning about different players from different eras helped me put into context different eras for my history classes. Sports probably engaged my learning than some of my teachers, and I sought out to learn and read as much as I could. There are worse hobbies, but my card collection doesn’t harm anyone, isn’t doing damage to myself(drugs, alcohol, etc.) or others so my parents saw no harm in encouraging #TheHobby. By doing household chores(mostly keeping my room clean), I earned 2/3$ a week that I could spend on anything I wanted. Naturally I would save these until I had around 18-20$ and go to Wal-Mart/Target and purchase different packs. Reflecting on the 1987 insert set that Topps is producing this year reminded me that it was around 1997 that I opened my first packs with my own allowance. I had a few dark years(I mean, we did live on Okinawa for ~3 years), but I had bought a few packs each year since 1997 until I began collecting hardcore in 2009 or so.

So while I celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Twins winning their first title with Kirby, Gary, Greg, Kent, Frank, and all of those early heroes, and my 30th birthday, this year I’ll also toast to 20 wonderful years in #TheHobby.  Hopefully, there’s many more decades of hobby collecting, championships(serious though…), and birthdays to celebrate. :).

#1991-fleer, #1991-topps, #archives, #family, #flagship, #the-hobby, #twins