Posted in Baseball, Baseball Cards, New York Mets

Easter baseball cards

DSCN7460

I hope everyone had a good Easter (or Passover… or just a nice weekend.) It sure feels like yesterday’s 60 degree spring-like weather was the April Fool’s Day joke, because we woke up to snow (again) this morning.

The Yankees’ home opener has already been postponed, and who knows if the Mets can clear the snow from Citi Field’s seats in time to play tonight’s game.

So today’s a good day to look at the Topps Opening Day baseball cards I got for Easter. While Opening Day is overlooked by most collectors, I enjoy it because it’s about the closest I can get to reliving the experience of opening baseball cards when I was a kid.

Opening Day packs are cheap, usually a dollar. They have a decent number of cards in them (by 21st Century standards, anyway.) And given the unlikelihood of pulling any autographs or memorabilia cards, if you’re opening Opening Day, you’ve got to actually want the base cards or the fun “regular” insert sets.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There are two reasons that Opening Day isn’t perfect. Number one: except for a few Series 2 previews and PhotoShop uniform swaps, Opening Day cards are rehash of the Topps Series 1 cards that came out in February.

Number two: Opening Day has a limited checklist – just 200 cards. The positive to that point is that you’re much more likely to have at least one star player in every pack.

Shohei-Otani Opening Day’s March release spot does give Topps a little more time to do things like add our first rookie card for Angels’ pitcher and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (who impressed in his Major League pitching debut on Sunday.)

I’m kinda happy Topps used a press conference photo for this card – I love getting to see them on cardboard because they represent that time of optimism where your team’s new star player can do no wrong. There will be plenty of time for game action photos later. (I can’t wait to see what the card designers at Topps and Panini decide to do about including hitting and pitching stats on Ohtani’s cards next year.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While Ohtani’s rookie card is the draw for Opening Day this year, usually the inserts are the big thing. Card collectors who like mascots have to go for Opening Day. This year’s set also includes Team Traditions & Celebrations inserts, as well as an Opening Day subset and a Before Opening Day insert set.

I love the mascots and I think the Team Traditions & Celebrations set is a fun new idea. The other two leave me a bit flat.

The Opening Day cards have cool photos, but the backs are focused on how the teams did on Opening Day 2017…and that leaves them feeling a bit dated. If I were writing the copy for the card backs, I’d go with a more general focus. Maybe a particular team is unusually successful on Opening Day, or they have an active Opening Day winning streak. Maybe there’s a star player who does particularly well on Opening Day. Something…

The Before Opening Day insert set is worse, because the photos aren’t even that interesting. I’m pretty sure I don’t care which players had good springs in 2018. I know I don’t care about 2017 spring training performances. Hopefully this insert theme gets retired.

 Other odds & ends:

Advertisements
Posted in Baseball, Baseball Cards, New York Mets

Baseball’s broken economic system & other thoughts

In less than a week, pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring training…and there are still around 100 free agents who are looking for a team. Eric Hosmer, Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez, Jake Arrieta and Mike Moustakas — some of the biggest names to hit the market this winter — are among the players still unsigned. The union is actually going to run a spring training camp for all of the players who are still looking for jobs.

It got to the point where some players are openly talking about the possibility of going on strike and others reportedly considered waiting until Feb. 24th’s mandatory reporting date to show up in spring training camps in a show of solidarity with the unsigned players.

While this off-season’s free agent market has worked out pretty well for the Mets, it’s clear that the the current system is broken. It’s pretty clear that no one is going to give J.D. Martinez the seven-year, $210 million contract he was reportedly looking for back in November. But it’s equally ridiculous that Martinez has only received two offers this winter, and that one of them was for a one-year deal to come back and try again on the free agent market next off-season.

I don’t think we’re looking at collusion, but we are looking at 30 front offices who are tired of getting burned by free agent contracts that make them look bad. Thirty front offices that are increasingly obsessed with young, controllable players to the point where they manipulate player service time to delay free agency and arbitration eligibility. A select group of owners who do not care about winning, at least in the short term.

And that means that even though MLB enjoyed record revenue last year, it’s not translating into more money for the players that we are paying to watch.

Now Martinez should not expect to earn $30 million when he is 37, but Jacob deGrom should be able to expect more than the $7.4 million he will earn this year. And even though he’s one of the most marketable players in baseball, the Yankees could get away with paying Aaron Judge the major league minimum salary.

Brandon Moss is right that players gave away too much in recent bargaining sessions with owners. Here’s hoping that the MLBPA and MLB owners figure out a way to get more of the game’s profits to the game’s younger players without totally turning off fans in the process. Because the current system is broken and is not good for players, fans or even owners in the long run.

Todd Frazier signs with the Mets

Todd-Frazier
A signed Todd Frazier baseball card from my collection

The New York Mets continued their bargain shopping this week, signing third baseman Todd Frazier to a two-year, $17 million contract. I think that Frazier strikes out too much and doesn’t get on base enough, but he’s a definite upgrade over Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes at the plate and a much better defender. So it’s definitely a win – this hasn’t been a bad offseason for Sandy Alderson’s crew at all.

If they could find a way to add a starting pitcher, I’d feel pretty good about the Mets’ chances to compete for a Wild Card spot. And if they could somehow land Yu Darvish, I’d start dreaming about them challenging the Washington Nationals for a division title.

Bartolo Colon is still playing

Colon
Bartolo Colon

The Texas Rangers signed 44-year-old Bartolo Colon to a minor league contract this week. I’d been hoping for a reunion with the Mets, but as long as gets a major league shot sometime this season I’ve got another year before I have to deal with a reality where all the players are younger than me.

So thank you, Bartolo… I will be rooting for you.

First 2018 Baseball Cards

I bought my first pack of 2018 Topps Series 1 baseball cards this week. Fittingly, a member of the World Series Champion Houston Astros was the top card in the pack. Michael Conforto was my first Met (yay!) while Aaron Judge was my first Yankee (boo!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I like this year’s design, but I think I will try to avoid buying more packs and just pick up a Mets team set from eBay.

Minor League Promo of the Week

Thirty years ago this June, my favorite Eddie Murphy movie Coming to America made its theatrical debut. The Fresno Grizzlies will celebrate its anniversary by playing as the Zamunda Lions for one night.

Posted in Autographs, Baseball, New York Mets

Some recent additions to my Mets autograph collection

Last weekend, I went to MAB Celebrity Service’s Pinstripe Parade autograph show with my friend Bart. It was kind of overwhelming, really.

People bought around 300 tickets at $60 a piece for New York Yankees prospect Gleyber Torres’ autograph. Alex Rodriguez, in his first area autograph signing in more than a decade, might have been even more popular even though his autograph tickets started at $149 and went up depending on what you were getting signed. New Hall of Fame member Chipper Jones was doing his first signing since the election announcement, and he was also very in demand.

It didn’t feel like there was enough space for all of the people who were waiting for autographs, and I was thankful that I wasn’t getting any so I could steer clear of the densest crowds.

But I did come home with a selection of 15 bargain-priced signed Mets photos for a total cost of around what my friend spent to get one baseball card signed by Gleyber Torres.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1517509133305-dcb1b45d-115d-4afc-93a2-7516ed80b0b8.jpgYesterday, I got a signed baseball card back in the mail from Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo, from a request I mailed to Mets spring training camp last February. Unlike the photo he signed for me at the Queens Baseball Convention last month, Nimmo personalized the card for me. Very cool.

Other odds & ends

Posted in Autographs, Baseball Cards, New York Mets

Some baseball cards on a snowy day

It’s snowing again as I write this morning, but we’re less than a month away from the start of spring training. (Yoenis Cespedes, Amed Rosario, Wilmer Flores, and Juan Lagares are already in Florida.)

So I thought I’d share some recent baseball card purchases, my first of 2018. I’m particularly happy with the T.J. Rivera and Josh Smoker cards since they’ve been Mets long enough to appreciate them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Baseball Reference tells me that Jamie Callahan and Tomas Nido played for the Mets last year, but I don’t remember them at all. Luis Guillorme made an amazing catch in the dugout last spring, but he’s still waiting for his shot in the big leagues. The A.J. Ramos card is a placeholder until I can get one that shows him as a Met. I think I already had a Matt Reynolds autograph, but he’s sporting the snazzy Mr. Met spring training cap and it was only a dollar… so why not?

Odds & ends:

  • Johnny Monell, who briefly played for the 2015 Mets, has joined the Tampa Bay Rays organization

Posted in Autographs, Baseball, New York Mets

2017 Mets Autograph: Neil Walker

IMG_6959.jpg

Neil Walker didn’t finish the 2017 season with the Mets, but he was the team’s primary second baseman until an August trade sent him to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Walker posted a solid .339 / .442 / .780 slash line with ten home runs through 73 games with the Mets, though those numbers were down slightly from his 2016 performance. He’s currently a free agent, and the Mets still have an opening for a secondbaseman, but I don’t particularly see a reunion in the cards.

I wrote to Walker care of the Mets spring training camp in February and asked him to sign this card from the 2016 Topps Update series, the only one I had at the time that pictured Walker with the Mets. I got it back last week, postmarked from Pittsburgh – it’s a nice early Christmas present.

Posted in Baseball Cards, New York Mets

Topps Now 2017

1493779390145-a4ac032b-9195-4d3c-ba8f-601cd67c360c_Last year, a fellow Mets fan surprised me with a bunch of the Topps Now cards released during the team’s Wild Card-winning season.

For those unfamiliar with Topps Now, just about every day during the baseball season, Topps produces one or more baseball cards focusing on a highlight from the previous days’ games. Those cards are available for 24 hours, and Topps prints however many people buy.

Continue reading “Topps Now 2017”