Sunday, January 24, 2016

The joys of a 24-card Gypsy Queen Blaster

My wife truly loves me.
While I was up in Ames yesterday, officiating at the Iowa State University Big 4 indoor track meet, Jan decided to do a little shopping at the Walmart in West Des Moines. Since I hadn't picked up any cards in a while, she thought she'd pick up a pack or two as a surprise.
She settled upon this 24-card 2015 Gypsy Queen blaster. Her reasoning: The Gypsy Queen packs run $2.99 each for six cards. She'd be getting four packs worth of cards, and paying about half the price.
I have to admit, this was a rather nice surprise.
All 24-cards were packed in a single cellophane bag inside the box, which by the way, included "3 Exclusive Pearl Parallel Cards Inside!"
I don't know about any "pearl" parallel cards, but there were three framed white cards, which included Bo Jackson (#9), Ryan Braun (#169) and Mookie Wilson (#82).
There were also three rather nice insert cards, as well, including The Queen's Throwbacks Miguel Cabrera (#QT1), Mini Red Max Scherzer (#93) S/N 45/50, and a Walk Off Winners Travis Ishikawa (#GWO19). Sometimes black and white photographs work on cards, especially with retro jerseys. I don't feel it particularly worked on this particular Cabrera card.
Two particular cards especially caught my attention. The first was a Jenrry Mejia (#285B). Mejia is one of those hard-to-find variation cards that I've never been able to pull. This particular variation finds him sporting the orange New York Mets jersey. The second card I was happy to pull was this San Diego Padres Matt Kemp card (#38). A Padre yes, but, maybe it's just me, but I still find it weird to see Kemp wearing the Padres blue and grey, instead of the Dodger's grey and blue.

And when it came to old school players, the box included a Jose Canseco (#8), Frank Thomas (#20), Rickey Henderson (#190) and Ryne Sandberg (#151).
The rest of the cards included Paul Goldschmidt (#16), Albert Pujols (#49), Evan Longoria (#94), Corey Kluber (#95), Alex Cobb (#106), Hyun-Jin Ryu (#160), Jayson Werth (#173A), James Shields (#179A), Juan Lagares (#202) and Dellin Betances (208A).
I may have to make another Walmart run this weekend just to pick up another box or two of these Gypsy Queen cards.

My wife - What a great woman!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Rainy Days and Thursdays

Since I had the week off (you have to love "Use it or Lose it" leave), I decided to swing by "The Rookie" a local brick-and-mortar card store. Anders Olson, the owner, had to move recently, since the strip mall where he and 15 other business resided, was sold. The site is to be demolished, with a phased retail development taking its place.

In any case, I decided Thursday was a fine opportunity to pop in and see his new digs.

It was fun to see Anders again and his new shop is very nice. It's clean, well-lit, and spacious, with a ton more room for plenty of product.

Another reason I was glad I stopped by, Anders was running his, "When it rains, it pours" special. Every day it rains, all cards in the $1.00 boxes (three for $2) are just 50 cents. Anders actually sweetened the pot, making those same cards a quarter each. Even though there's still snow on the ground, we're in the midst of a good, cold 38-degree rain storm here in the heart of the Midwest.

I took the opportunity to amass a nice pile of hockey cards (see my other blog "The Hockey Card Geek," if you're interested in seeing those cards), but I was able to pick up four new (to me) Tony Gwynn cards, as well as a Justin Upton card.

It's amazing the amount of Tony Gwynn cards that come out year after year since his retirement in 2001. For example, there were a total of 246 Tony Gwynn cards released in 2015 alone. with 376 more produced in 2014.

Two of those most recent Gwynn releases include this 2014 Classics Legendary Lumberjacks (#4) and a 2015 Leaf Heroes of Baseball (#55). Typical of the Panini line of cards, all of  Gwynn's Padres logos have been airbrushed out. Speaking of airbrushing, it may have been pretty cool if Gwynn were actually wielding an ax on that Lumberjack card.
And then I found this pair - a 1998 Pinnacle Plus Lasting Memories (#29) and 2013 Topps Triple Threads Amethyst (#34) S/N 148/650. Unfortunately, the scanner doesn't really do justice to the regal purple of this amethyst card.
As for the Upton card, it was his 2015 Donruss the Elite Series (#14) S/N 639/999. Upton arrived in San Diego with minor-leaguer Aaron Northcraft from Atlanta in December 2014. Preller raided the Padres' minor league system, sending Max Fried, Dustin Peterson, Mallex Smith and Jace Peterson to the Braves. Upton, basically a rental player, became a free agent on Nov. 2, 2015. He hit .251, with 26 homers, 81 RBIs and 19 SBs. He also struck out 159 times, while drawing 68 walks. Was he worth a one year contract? The Padres still finished 74-88.

I now own a total of 830 of the 9,770 Tony Gwynn cards that have been released since his initial 1982 Hawaii Islanders TMCA minor league card.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

"Hells Bells" in 2017!

Congratulations to Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mike Piazza for their election into the MLB Hall of Fame. Griffey, who set a record with 99.3 percent of the vote, was followed by Mike Piazza, who spent his fourth year on the ballot and received 83.0 percent. Jeff Bagwell finished third with 71.6 percent of the vote, Tim Raines was fourth with 69.9 percent and Trevor Hoffman rounded out the top five with 67.3 percent.
The vote, by the Baseball Writers of America, consists of 440 total ballots. A total of 330 votes, or 75 percent, is needed for election to the Hall. Qualified BBWAA members name 10 eligible players they consider worthy for the Hall of Fame. Players are removed from the ballot if they're named on fewer than five percent of the ballots, or if they've been on the ballot 15 times without election.
I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that Hoffman, featured here on the Padres' 2006 Media Guide, fell just short of induction by 34 votes. By the same token, however, I'm rather stoked about his chances for 2017. After all, like Griffey, this was Hoffman's first year on the Hall of Fame ballot. Also, historical trends show those who finish with more than 50 percent of the vote are eventually inducted into the Hall.
1996 Leaf Signature Autographs
For Hoffman, a senior advisor with the Padres, what's there not to like. If you consider his credentials - a two-time runner-up in National League Cy Young voting who also earned seven All-Star selections, 601 saves (second to Mariano Rivera's 652), including nine 40-save seasons - I believe he's indeed Hall worthy.
Not bad for a shortstop drafted in the 11th round of the 1989 MLB draft by the Florida Marlins. In light of the relievers currently in the Hall of Fame - Hoyt Wilhelm (216 saves), Rollie Fingers (341), Goose Gossage (310), Dennis Eckersley (390) and Bruce Sutter - Hoffman would be in great company. And like Sutter, Hoffman played his entire MLB career (18-years) as a reliever

2008 Upper Deck X
One question I have, however, is WHEN he's inducted into the Hall of Fame, are they going to play his iconic "Hells Bells" song? One thing I always loved about Padres games, was whenever it was "Trevor Time" and Hoffman would make his entry onto the field, AC/DC's classic song blasted over the sound system. After all, the song was used in his highlights video during his induction into the San Diego Padres Hall of Fame.
Using "Hells Bells" as his entrance tune began July 25, 1998, the night Hoffman tied Rod Beck's record of 41-consecutive saves. According to Bob Chandler, in his book "Tales from the San Diego Padres," "Who came up with the idea of Trevor's musical accompaniment? It was a Padres salesman named Chip Bowers." Bowers now serves as an executive with the Seattle Supersonics.
1998 Ultra Gold Medallion
 This would have to be one of my favorite Hoffman cards. It's actually neat to see the then-all time Saves Leader decked out in catchers gear.

Here's to "Hells Bells" in 2017, when Hoffman will actually be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.