Monday, September 5, 2016

Breaking Down Some Cards from Gavin

Happy Labor Day (I wrote most of this post on Friday tho)! Time for another overdue trade post with lotsa scans, this time from frequent trading partner Gavin over at probably one of the top two or three most prominent card blogs going today: Baseball Card Breakdown.  We've traded a few times now (with another currently in progress!), and the packages he sends seem to get better every time.  Let's check out what he sent this time, starting with that groovy Bruce at the top.
The back. You know how we do 'round here..
Any trade that nets you an autograph of a Hall of Famer is a very, very good trade.  I felt the need to break him out of his uncirculated cocoon though.  I love getting uncirculated cards still uncirculated, but I don't like leaving them in there anymore.  I would very much like to learn how to bust out the card without destroying the case though.  I feel like there should be a way, but I can't figure it out.  I digress...
I tend to like the idea of Topps Archives more than the execution, so I'm always happy getting them in trades, but almost never plunk my own money down for them, outside of maybe the very occasional parallel on COMC.  I did buy a discount blaster from whatever year had the early-'70s basketball design insets once, but it left me unimpressed.  That's pretty much it.  Whatever the damage, everything in this batch looks pretty good, and the Heyward is darn near epic.
OG Archives..
Now these are some Archives I can get behind.  Alas, I was far more into football cards back when the original Archives sets were coming out, and was also near my lowest point mental/emotional health-wise, so I never had a chance to buy any myself.
Actual Vintage!
Here's some real vintage. The floating Hubbs head is where the design for that Stanton from the Pack War trade post came from.  Nice.
Madlock Mania!
I actually have all of these, but there's always that certain giddiness that comes with having vintage dupes, especially of star players like Madlock, and I definitely have a place in my collection for an extra RC or two of the man.
'80s aces..
Moving out of the true vintage era, but still just just before the junkwax era really kicked into gear, here's a trio of cards featuring a couple of the Cubs pitching stars from a bygone decade when the team was actually pretty good and made it to the playoffs a couple times.
Stars of the leaner years..
Back in the present, but featuring more classic styles sandwiching a classy, arty Castro.  Dunno why, but I always had an odd dislike of Ryan Dempster when he was playing.  He's considerably more tolerable as a suit in the organization and sometimes-MLB Network guest/analyst though.
Jake and some Golden Age legends..
This is all flowing pretty nicely (famous last words).  Continuing the old school and art themes with Classics, which don't do much for me, and Diamond Kings, which do everything for me.  Good gravy those are some pretty cards.
Jake inserts..
Here's a couple more Arrietas in insert form, one featuring yet another classic design.  I think most companies like to tout their history, but there might not be anyone in any business as deeply in love with themselves as Topps.  The cards are usually fine, but it's kinda obnoxious, tbh.
More Diamond Kings, rookies this time, plus a chromey Baez Prizm RC.  All three players have made solid strides this year.  Edwards has ramped up into higher leverage situations with success and just notched his first career save the other day.  Szczur is becoming an excellent fourth outfielder, and he could probably be a strong platoon partner, or even start, on several less insanely stacked teams (same for the recently recalled Tommy La Stella, who has as even higher ceiling at a much less offensively impactful position).

Baez is a spectacular defender all over the field and he's hitting for much better average this year.  I fear the strikeouts and low OBP are always gonna be issues, but he's got legit 30 home run power on top of that versatile and elite D.  Even if all he can do is just maintain the solid .270/.309/.434 slashline he came into the day with (again, wrote this Friday), he's going to be an exceptionally valuable player for years to come.
Starting to get serious..
Decent Rizzos can be tough to come by now that he's a bonafide superstar, and Rondon just doesn't have that much stuff available, so I'm very pleased to land an insert and a parallel, respectively, of the duo.
Tayler Scott Refractor /500, Aramis Spectrum red /250, and Starlin is here too..
We're coming down the stretch and things are starting to get shiny and #'ed.  Haven't added a new Aramis in awhile (well, I haven't had any I've picked up recently shipped yet anyway), and it's been even longer since I added one from when he was with the Cubs.  His numbers compare well with Ron Santo's, and while I'm doubtful he'll get the love he deserves, I'll hold out hope for him to get to Cooperstown someday until the bitter end (same for Delgado, Nomah, Baines, Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Andres Galarraga, Paul Konerko, and Dick Allen too!  Get off your asses, BBWA and/or veteran's committee members!). *insert string of creative profanity here*
Archives Cubbie blue parallel...
Well, I guess not all the numbered stuff is shiny.  The shade of blue of the Archives parallels is pretty much perfect for the Cubs players featured in the set though.
...#'ed 64/199!
There were a lot of twists & turns, but that Texas trade ended up turning out alright I think (Garza is another guy I really never liked much anyway).  As I feared/somewhat expected (one big breakout year surrounded by relative mediocrity always makes me leery, even without the vision problems), Olt ended up busting badly (a shame, because he played pretty good defense and had easy 30+ home run power, if only he could hit better than like .140).  Neil Ramirez had his moments though.  He just couldn't stay healthy.  Grimm has contributed an overall solid body of middle relief work since coming over.  Edwards looks like the late inning threat I thought Ramirez was gonna be  It'll definitely go down as a solid win if he ends up coming close to maxing out his potential.  Where it compares with what they gave up to get Garza in the first place is another matter, but it still probably hinges on how Carl pans out.
Failed prospect autos..
Max Ramirez made a top-100 prospects list at #84 in 2009, but while he put up consistently solid minor league numbers, he never got a serious look in the bigs.  It looks like he's still to posting a similarly decent offensive output into his early-30s playing professionally in Mexico.  Despite hitting for little average, Chirinos has put up 32 home runs and a competent .711 OPS in a part-time role in the big leagues with the Rangers in recent years.

After looking them up, even though they didn't pan out, I hate to call these guys failures.  Neither one really "made it", but they weren't utter disasters that bombed out miserably or anything.  Failure implies something shameful or embarrassing, but there's nothing wrong with taking your talent elsewhere if you never get a real shot at the bigtime or becoming a fairly reliable, late-blooming role player when you finally do.  Your cards might not be worth anything, but you've contributed to the magnificent tapestry of this grand game, and that's something worth being proud of.
We have reached the end of this post, and as as often the case with Gavin's trades, that means there's a custom.  This one makes me wistful though.  The Vogelmonster had become something a cult hero to many fans who follow the Cubs minor league system.  While everyone understood there was no real place for him here, being hopelessly blocked at 1B and a DH in waiting, his MiLB numbers call to mind a skillset reminiscent of the recently retired Prince Fielder.  Folks were holding out hope that he'd at least hang around long enough to get a cup of coffee with the big club before being shipped out for reinforcements that better fit the roster.
Gavin does some phenomenal, complete work!
Alas, it wasn't meant to be.  He was shipped off to the Mariners (right around when this package initially showed up), where he nearly perfectly fits their roster and the offensive skillset their current (and any sane one really) GM loves, for lefty swingman Mike Montgomery, thus filling the void after Adam Warren bombed out rather spectacularly.  It was a sad, and somewhat underwhelming, conclusion, even for a casual Vogelbacker like myself.

Oh well, if he pans out, and we all still hope he does, then the Mariners are gonna have a real star on their hands.  Occasionally, you just gotta bite the bullet and make a deal to improve your chances in the short term though, knowing that you will ultimately probably lose somewhere down the line (of course, it will all be moot if Montgomery helps bring a championship to the north side, even if that just entails giving the starters an extra day of rest down the stretch).

There were a few other things of note in there, but that's another post for another time... Enjoy the holiday if it applies to you (go find some good sales at least! :P), and thanks for stopping by!
Until our next...

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sketch Card Saturdays: I'll Form the Head!

Activate interlock!
I'm a few minutes late, but here is today's edition of Sketch Card Saturdays, featuring an awesome sketch of the mighty Voltron by David Namisato!
You never know what's gonna get licensed..
This sketch card set was produced by 5finity and released in 2010.  According to Jeff Allender's wonderful House of Checklists, Namisato contributed 50 cards to the set.  It's the only card by him I own, I think, which is is a shame.  But it's also an excellent card from something I'm a fan of, so I'm not sure I could really top it, and I definitely couldn't for the mere $5 I paid for this one many moons ago.

That's all for now.  Thanks for stopping by!
Until our next...

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Sketch Card Mania Volume 2: Comic Book Heroes

Well, not all heroes, I guess.  Karai is a villain and Sleepwalker and Swamp Thing are more antiheroic in nature.  Whatever, enjoy the art!
Sleepwalker was an early-'90s Marvel creation that never really caught on, but was interesting (and maybe good) enough that the series and character have a small cult following in the here & now.
Squirrel Girl..
Speaking of Marvel cult classics from the early-'90s, Squirrel Girl was a bizarre one-off character from the era that's grown into a hugely beloved icon.  She's known for being the anthropomorphic personification of fun in the Marvel universe and having a knack for taking down villains seemingly far beyond her (or ANY individual, and most teams') weight class.
Swamp Thing..
This Swamp Thing might still be my favorite card I did in the entire bunch.  I feel like it was pretty strong through every stage of the process.  I never really struggled with it at any point, which is still a fairly rare feat, even with simple headshots.
Add caption
Karai could have fit in the cartoons & anime post as well, being a fairly prominent, though usually easily dispatched, recurring antagonist in the awesome (it could've been all-time great if not for the BS executive meddling) 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon.  There are a couple in the third post that could've gone into this comic post as well, but also fit in with that bunch just as well, which makes every post even in number of cards.
Kitty Pryde..
Finally we have Kitty Pryde.  It's fine, I love how most of the colors turned out.  But no, I don't know why I tried to go sexy with it either.  I suppose it stands a better chance at eBay success that way though.  Whatever, I'm done for today.  We'll see if my computer's slowdown issues are sorted out (they seem to be!) in time for me to keep me personal record posting streak alive tomorrow and at least into the weekend with Sketch Card Saturdays, which will happen regardless, because they don't require that much effort to put together and post.

That's all for now.  Dell computers suck!  Thanks for stopping by.
Until our next...