Monday, November 30, 2015

2011 Topps 'Before There Was Topps' Insert Set: #BTT1-BTT7

Here's a cool little insert set to complement the 10-card 'History of Topps' insert set that came out with 2011 Topps.  Although not perfect, this insert set quickly highlights the major card sets manufactured during the first half of the 20th Century.   

In reverse order, this set outlines my vintage card collecting interests before Topps completely took over as the #1 baseball card company.  The 1948-1955 Bowman sets are an important complement to my early Topps collecting interests.  The 1939-1941 Play Ball sets represents the next major period of card production before Topps/Bowman.

The reason I called this insert set near perfect is because the Play Ball card should have included the 1940-1941 sets just as it did for the Bowman card.  The same goes for the Goudey card, which should say 1933-1941 (or at least to 1938).  Although I have not yet begun to collect Goudey, it's next up on my list.  This insert set is pretty much a roadmap to vintage card collecting.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

2002 Topps '52 World Series Highlights Insert Set #1-7

  Well, I finally broke down and acquired this little insert set from the 2002 Topps collection.  Originally, four of the cards were included in series 1 packs, and three of the cards were included in series 2 packs.  I'm treating these cards as a subset to my 1952 Topps collection, which consists primarily of reprinted cards with a few originals sprinkled throughout my binders.  Historically, a set's subset cards would typically represent the World Series for the year prior, which this one does not.

Here are the the 7 cards included in the subset:
#52WS1--Dodgers Line-Up
#52WS2--Billy Martin's Homer
#52WS3--Dodger Celebrate
#52WS4--Yanks Slip Dodgers
#52WS5--Carl Erskine
#52WS6--Casey Stengel & Allie Reynolds
#52WS7--Allie Reynolds Relieves Ed Lopat

Monday, October 12, 2015

Ruben Tejada, New York Mets, SS/2B/3B

Ruben Tejada signed with the New York Mets in 2006, and made his major league debut on April 7th, 2010.  He entered a tie game at home against the Marlins to lead off the Bottom of the 9th inning as a pinch hitter.  Tejada stayed in the game to play 2B in the Top of the 10th inning, making the first out on a ground ball from Chris Coghlan that was fielded by 1B.  At the time, he was the 3rd youngest player in the N.L., after Starlin Castro and Giancarlo Stanton.  Since his MLB debut, Tejada has played in 580 regular season games over the past 6 seasons mostly at SS and 2B.  He was top 3 in the National League for Fielding % as SS twice.

2010 Topps #416
2011 Topps #625
2012 Topps #521
2013 Topps #485
2014 Topps #493
2015 Topps #593

An interesting notes is that Ruben Tejada's Santiago de Veraguas, Panama baseball team represented Latin America in the 2001 Little League World Series.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

1995 Topps CyberStat Season-in-Review Bonus Insert Set #1-7

Here's another cool bonus insert set from my 1995 Topps collection.  This little set has an even cooler story--It actually attempted to predict the World Series results from the 1994 strike-shortened season.  The seven cards were supposedly a result of some computer simulation from August 12th, 1994 until the end of the World Series.  1994 was the first year that MLB went to a 3-division (West, Central, East) format from the previous 2-division (West, East) format.  There were still 28 teams in the majors, so each league had one division with only 4 teams while the other two divisions 5 teams.  I'll summarize each card below:

CyberStat #1- This card predicted that B.Bonds would have hit 61 HR's through the end of the 1994 regular season.

CyberStat #2- This card predicted that the AL West Division would have ended in a tie between the Rangers and Athletics.  In a one-game playoff, the Rangers would have supposedly won to advance.

CyberStat #3- This card predicted that the '94 ALDS would have resulted in the Indians over the Yankees and the Rangers over the White Sox.

CyberStat #4- This cards predicted that the '94 NLDS would have resulted in the Braves over the Reds and the Dodgers over the Expos.

CyberStat #5- This card predicted that the '94 ALCS would have resulted in the Indians over the Rangers.

CyberStat #6- This card predicted that the '94 NLCS would have resulted in the Braves over the Dodgers.

CyberStat #7- This card predicted that the '94 WS would have resulted in the Braves over the Indians.  I find this very interesting as this would exactly the case in the '95 WS.

Although I really like this bonus insert set, I don't agree with the logic of the results.  Since I place all of my set binders in order from best to worst team, I had already determined a method of organizing my 1994 Topps set.  It was actually very simple.  Since there was no postseason in 1994, I organized my set binder by team winning percentage only.  Below, I took the division leaders, added a wild card team, and chose a winner based on winning perentage.

1994 World Series
Montreal Expos (.649) over New York Yankees (.620)

1994 League Championship Series
NL: Expos (.649) over Reds (.579)
AL: Yankees (.620) over White Sox (.593)

1994 Division Championship Series
#1 NL East Division Expos (.649) over NL Wild Card Braves (.596)
#2 NL Central Division Reds (.579) over #3 NL West Division Dodgers (.509)
#1 AL East Division Yankees (.620) over AL Wild Card Indians (.584)
#2 AL Central Division White Sox (.593) over #3 AL West Division Rangers (.456)

Here are your 1994 World Series Champions, by default, for having finished the regular season with the best MLB record.

I've actually reorganized the front end of my '94T set binder as a result of this post.  Originally, I had it organized strictly by team win percentage, which is unrealistic.  By chance, I had a team from each league in front of my binder, but the LCS and DS teams were not reflected in the order.  Although I do organize my non-postseason team strictly by win percentage, the postseason teams are organized by level of achievement before win percentage.

In this case, the first eight teams in my binder are the Expos, Yankees, White Sox, Reds, Braves, Indians, Dodgers, and then Rangers.  The rest of the teams afterwards are organized strictly by win percentage.

So, what about the 1904 World Series?  That's simple.  The New York Giants forfeited the game to the Boston Americans (Red Sox) because the Giants thought they were too good to play the Americans (Red Sox).  That, or they were scared.  Either way, the World Series challenge between the NL and AL had already began the previous year, and would continue for every year afterward (except in 1994).  The Boston Red Sox were the 1904 World Series Champions as far as I'm concerned.  Too bad I don't have any 1904 cards to reorganize.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

2015 NLWC: Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

Tonight's one-game playoff game features the Chicago Cubs against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park with the largest baseball crowd in the park's history.  These two teams had the 2nd and 3rd best records of the regular season, but after tonight, one of the teams will have to go home for the winter.  The winning team will go on to play the #1 seeded team in the league, and in the majors overall: the St. Louis Cardinals.  Update: Cubs win 4-0.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

2015 ALWC Managers

Here are the first six Topps cards for each of the managers involved in this year's ALWC.

A.J. Hinch: '93TT#12T, '98T#487, '99T#132, '00T#349, '01T#469, '01TT#T157.

Joe Girardi: '90TD#42, '90T#12, '91T#214, '92T#529, '93T#425, '94T#372.

2015 ALWC: Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees

Tonight's American League Wild Card game started at 8:00 p.m EST at Yankee Stadium.  The winner between the Yankees and Astros will go on to play the Kansas City Royals in the ALDS at Kauffman Stadium.

The New York Yankees finished the regular season 6.0 games behind the division-leading Blue Jays with a 87-75 record, which was 9th overall in the majors.

The Houston Astros finished the regular season 2.0 games behind the division-leading Rangers with a 86-76 record, which was 10th overall in the majors.

This is the 4th year of the double Wild Card game, which started in 2012.  I know there are mixed opinions about one-game playoff, but I really like this new rule.  There used to not be much difference between a division winner and a wild card team.  Now, there's a great emphasis for teams to win their division.  Over the course of an entire season, the Yankees and the Astros were only one game apart.  I don't think there'll be any injustice for the loser of this game.  Both teams are worthy to move forward.  A longer Wild Card Series wouldn't be fair to the Division Champ that has to wait, since too much inactivity can lead to stale performance.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

2015 A.L. West Division Champions: Texas Rangers

On the final day of the regular season, the Texas Rangers became the last team to clinch a division with a 9-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.  All of the Division Champions have been determined: Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Texas Rangers.  The Wild Card teams will be: Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, and Houston Astros.

2015 Worst Team in the Majors: Philadelphia Phillies

This year's worst team is the Philadelphia Phillies.  With one game left to go in the regular season, there's no chance for the Phillies to pull themselves out of the cellar--even though the Reds were really trying to take the bottom spot.  The Phillies are currently 62-99 with a .385 Win Percentage.  A win today would bring them up to .388 and a loss would bring them down to .382 with a 100 losses.  The only other MLB with a Win Percentage below .400 is the Reds, who could pull themselves out of this category with a win today.

The primary position players this year (determined by Innings Played) were: Carlos Ruiz C; Ryan Howard 1B; Cesar Hernandez 2B; Freddy Galvis SS; Maikel Franco 3B; Cody Asche LF; Odubel Herrera CF; and Jeff Francoeur RF.  Ben Revere spent significant time in the outfield.

The starting rotation this year (determined by Games Started) was: Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams, Cole Hamels, Adam Morgan, and David Buchanan.  The closers (determined by Games Finished) were: Jonathan Papelbon, Ken Giles, and Jeanmar Gomez.  The other primary relief pitchers (determined by Games Played) were: Luis Garcia and Justin De Fratus,