Posted in Baseball, Baseball Cards, Uncategorized

Morning reading: Mets prospects who could debut in 2015 & more

Brandon Nimmo (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Brandon Nimmo, who played for the Double-A Binghamton Mets in 2014, could make his major league debut as a September call up next year. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

It’s never too early to start looking ahead to next season. ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin has started doing just that with a series of “Burning Questions” articles. The first installment covers ten Mets prospects who could make their major league debut in 2015.

Other links:

Posted in Baseball Cards, Uncategorized

Topps gives Stadium Club brand a third life

Baseball card collectors who were around in the 1990s probably have fond memories of Topps Stadium Club, a premium product known for its great photography. Of course “premium” in the early 1990s meant something entirely different than it does now – when you could still get some packs of baseball cards for less than $1, spending $3 to $5 for Stadium Club seemed extravagant. Now it’s just the cost of buying a pack of whatever new cards you can find at Target.

After an absence of several years, Topps tried to revive the brand in 2008 with a poorly-received set that included an autograph (from someone you’d probably didn’t care about) in each hobby pack that sold for around $25. You could also buy normally-priced blasters at Target and WalMart, where you could probably expect to find one autograph per box. The cards were still gorgeous, but there was a confusing short-print scheme that made set collecting more trouble than it was worth.

Stadium Club is back again this year as a hobby-only release. Boxes will sell for around $100 and include three autographs. (The autograph checklist doesn’t look too bad, but I would not be surprised if Mike Zunino and Yangervis Solarte are a lot more common than George Springer and Gregory Polanco.)

Continue reading “Topps gives Stadium Club brand a third life”

Posted in Baseball, Baseball Cards, Uncategorized

Jacob deGrom

Jacob deGrom is one of the few bright spots on a New York Mets team that often feels like it is waiting for a bright future that may never arrive.

The story of Tuesday night could have been about David Wright being shut down for the rest of the 2014 season with “persistent inflammation” in his left shoulder. And for the national media – assuming that they are still paying attention to the Mets at all – it probably was.

But for those of us who still actually watch the Mets play (even if we decide not to spend the money and time to go out to Citi Field), the story was all deGrom. Eight innings, nine strikeouts, just three hits and no runs allowed. DeGrom retired the last 14 Rockies batters he faced, making Terry Collins‘ decision to go to his closer to start the ninth inning a curious one.

(Since deGrom had already thrown 100 pitches and Collins has been facing criticism for over-extending his young starters, we probably shouldn’t even have been thinking about his chances for a complete game shutout, I guess.)

DeGrom still has a chance to win 10 games in his rookie season, even though his first victory didn’t come until June 21. He’d be among the National League ERA leaders if he’d pitched enough innings to qualify. And if Cincinnati Reds OF Billy Hamilton is his only serious competition, deGrom should be a lock to win the NL Rookie of the Year award.

What makes it even more special is that deGrom was not one of those over-hyped prospects who rarely seem to pan out. Even the people who thought he might contribute to the 2014 Mets expected deGrom would be a bullpen arm.

Jacob deGrom's regular and Chrome prospects cards from the 2014 Bowman set
Jacob deGrom’s regular and Chrome prospects cards from the 2014 Bowman set

Someone who had a role in determining the 2014 Bowman checklist believed in Jacob deGrom. These are the 26-year-old right-hander’s first baseball cards, not counting ones produced as part of minor league team sets. And thanks to Listia, I added them to my collection today along with a couple of other Bowman Chrome Prospects cards. (I’m now a little bit closer to finishing my 2014 Bowman Mets team set.)

Posted in Baseball Cards, New York Mets, Uncategorized

Mets baseball card of the week: 1970 Topps Cleon Jones

Cleon Jones' 1970 Topps baseball card (from my collection)
Cleon Jones’ 1970 Topps baseball card (from my collection)

Cleon Jones hit .340 with 12 home runs and 75 RBI for the World Champion New York Mets in 1969. Until Mike Piazza and John Olerud topped it in 1998, Jones held the Mets’ team record for highest single-season batting average.

I miss the posed photos that used to be a staple of baseball card production. Action photos were a rarity in the early 1970s and almost never seen in earlier baseball card sets. Even in the 1980s, card makers employed a fairly balanced mix of the two styles. Modern baseball cards pretty much relegate posed photos to retro sets like Topps Heritage and Allen & Ginter, favoring close-cropped action photos instead.

If you’re not going to give me a photo that will make me say “wow,” I’d rather have one that shows me what the player looks like.

Posted in Autographs, Baseball, Baseball Cards, Uncategorized

Autograph of the Week: Phillies prospect Jesse Biddle

Jesse Biddle, a 22-year-old Philadelphia native, has been ranked among the top prospects in baseball for the past three seasons.

Last summer, Biddle pitched at CitiField in the All-Star Futures game. This summer, he spent time recovering from a concussion caused by a piece of hail.

Though Biddle’s final record with the Reading Fightin Phils is an ugly one (3-10, 5.03 ERA, 1.482 WHIP), he had several strong performances late in the season that offer hope for a better 2015.

Signed Jesse Biddle 2011 Topps Pro Debut Minor League Materials baseball card from my collection
Signed Jesse Biddle 2011 Topps Pro Debut Minor League Materials baseball card from my collection

I’ve had this relic card from Topps’ 2011 Pro Debut set for a few years now. I was finally able to get it signed last weekend when Reading visited Trenton for a season-ending series.

Although my friend Bart and I decided to leave before the rain-delayed game eventually started, I was able to get a couple dozen baseball cards signed before the bad weather arrived.

Rainbow over Trenton Transit Center (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Rainbow over Trenton Transit Center (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)