Wednesday, September 30, 2015

2015 N.L. Central Division Champions: St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals clinched the N.L. Central today after beating the Pirates 11-1 in the second game of a doubleheader in Pittsburgh.  Today's victory was also the Cardinals' 100th win of the season.   clinched home field advantage as well with the National League's best record.  The Cardinals have now made it to the Postseason for five consecutive years.  Here are the 2015 St. Louis Cardinals:

2015 A.L. East Division Champions: Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays won their division today on the road with a 15-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.  This is the Jays' first time back in the playoffs since coming off of their second consecutive World Series title in 1993.  The Blue Jays currently have the best record in the American League.  Here are your 2015 A.L. East Division champs:

2015 N.L. West Division Champions: Los Angeles Dodgers

For the 3rd year in a row, the Los Angeles Dodgers win the N.L. West with an 8-0 victory over the Giants in San Francisco.  Here are your 2015 Dodgers.

Looking through this team set, I noticed that at least one key card is missing: Don Mattingly.  I wish Topps would bring back the Manager's card.  If they didn't want to dedicate an entire card to just the manager, then Topps could also put the coaches on there too and make it a multi-person card.  Both, the Manager and his coaches put on the team uniform everyday and go out to the ballfield for games and practice.  They deserve to have a card--at least the manager.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

2005 Topps A-Rod Spokesman insert set #ARI1-ARI4

I stumbled across this insert set a couple of weeks ago and had to jump on it.  "Cards that Never Were"-type reprints are some of my favorite non-mainstream cards.  Lets try to forget the fact that A-Rod himself is still recovering from the "Most Hated Man in Baseball" award for a moment.  A couple of years ago before A-Rod was forced to take a year off from the sport, I'm sure many people wondered why Topps waited until 1998 to produce A-Rod's rookie card.

He was the #1 Draft Pick in 1993 and should've made the Topps Traded set if not the 1994 set for sure.  Since he began playing in the majors by June 1994, he should have had a 1995, 1996, and 1997 card as well.  Actually, A-Rod does have a card for 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997.  These cards are nearly perfect replications of what his cards might have looked like each year.  To me, these cards are part of those sets and will be inserted into my set binders accordingly.  The numbering for these 4 cards is #ARI1-ARI4 and the copyright year of 2005 is also included on the back in fine print.

Once again, I wish Topps would go back and reprint a few more "Cards that Never Were" for other players like Mariano Rivera for 1996, 1995, and either a 1990 Traded or 1991 base card.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Washington Nationals Fight Night: Jonathan Papelbon vs. Bryce Harper

The only unacceptable action occurring during yesterday's Washington Nationals home game against the New York Mets was Jonathan Papelbon grabbing Harper by the throat and pushing him against the wall.  It doesn't matter who started it, Papelbon was wrong and has received his punishment.

Papelbon came to the Nats ballclub on July 28th in a trade with the Phillies.  He still doesn't even have a Nationals Topps baseball card yet.  

Although still a young player, Harper is already in his fourth season with the Nationals, having come up through their farm system. 

Harper was a major part of the Nationals past two post-season appearances and has a good chance winning the NL MVP award this year.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Turn Back the Clock: 20 Years Ago (1995 Topps)

Twenty years ago, Topps issued its smallest base set since 1977 when baseball card sets consisted of only 660 cards.  Topps also issued its final Traded/Update set in 1995 after a 15-year consecutive run.  The Topps Traded set also broke from the norm by increasing in size from 132 cards to 165 cards for the first time since 1981.  Baseball was just coming off of a season that didn't end in a World Series for the first time in 90 years (1904-1994).  Topps sets would continue to decrease in size until 2001, which is the year that I got back into the hobby after a 10-year lapse.  The next Traded set wouldn't arrive until 1999.  Although I consider 1992-1994, a transitionary period into the modern era of Topps baseball cards, 1995 was undoubtedly part of the modern era.  Note the foil on the front of the all-glossy cards for the first time in a Topps base set.  The card packs came in a "pop-tart" style for the 2nd year in a row.  The 1995 World Series featured the Atlanta Braves beating the Cleveland Indians in six games    

1995 Topps Series 1 pack with 15 cards including a Spectra Light insert with randomly inserted Own the Game instant win cards.

 1995 Topps Series 2 pack with 13 cards including a Spectra Light insert with randomly inserted League Leader and Finest cards.

1995 Topps Traded pack with 11 cards and randomly inserted Power Boosters.

1995 Topps Series 1 box with 36 packs.

1995 Topps Series 2 box with 36 packs.

1995 Topps Traded Box with 36 packs.  

This is the factory set I ended up purchasing.  I sold off the inserts because I wasn't collecting inserts at the time of purchase.  The inserts included are 20 SPECTRALight and 4 League Leader cards.

This is the factory set I would've purchased if I had to do it again.  It comes with two complete insert sets so that there is nothing left to go after.  The inserts included are a 10-card Commemorative Opening Day set and a 7-card CyberStat Season-in-Review set.

I'm not as interested in this factory set because although it contains one complete insert set, the other inserts are randomly selected cards from another set.  The inserts included are a 7-card CyberStat Season-in-Review set and 10 randomly selected Stadium Club 1st Day Issue cards.

2015 N.L. East Division Champions: New York Mets

Yesterday, the New York Mets became the second team to win their division with a 10-2 victory over Cincinnati on the road.

I'll put myself out there a little bit.  Picks are more sentimental than something I'd recommend taking to Vegas.  The elimination of the Dodgers and Cardinals were a tough decision, and a victory for those teams would still keep the playoffs very interesting for me.  The Royals have already beat the Cardinals in the WS though, and the team with the most to gain from that match-up is the Cardinals.  I really don't think it's a good idea to go there for the Royals (been there, done that).  I'd rather see a different opponent--preferably the Mets or Dodgers.  I'd take the Cardinals for the NLCS though.  Now, a Royals-Yankees ALDS would be a revenge opportunity for Royals who were often knocked out of the Playoffs by the Yankees during the Royals 7 out of 10 year playoff run between 1976-1985.

Friday, September 25, 2015

1997 Topps Willie Mays Commemorative Set #1-27

After putting together the '96 Topps Mantle Commemorative set one-by-one, I decided to keep it simple this time and get all of the Mays cards at the same time.  For just over $1 per card average, this was a much better deal than paying $2-$3 per card for the 36 Mantles.  In fact, I also recenlty purchased the '00 Aaron Commemorative set for less than $1 per card.  I'm keeping my eye on the '98 Clemente and '99 Ryan Commemorative sets.  

So what is this set good for?  I use these cards as fillers for my vintage sets until I can replace them with originals.  Once I've purchased the originals, I place them in the back of their respective binders like the rest of my insert sets (in this case, 1997 Topps).  I treat all of the Mantles as 1996 Topps cards for the purpose of keeping the set together in one binder.

Some of these cards I will never replace--like the '51 Bowman Mantle or Mays.  Some I already have complete reprint set for--like the '52-'54 Topps cards.  These commemorative sets really enhance both my vintage collection as well as my modern insert sets.