Monday, May 29, 2023

Spring Cleaning Cards

This was going to be a show-off post for all the cards I acquired during COMC's Spring Cleaning Sale. But... they didn't have one. Jerks. So I was going to scan and discuss the cards I bought from February-April. And then Kevin hit me with a killer giveaway PWE, Johnny sent me a near set of 2023 Topps, and my brother-in-law surprised me with some shiny cards that didn't fit his collection. 

So this is going to be a little longer than I'd planned. The good news is, it will be my last post for a while.

A good chunk of my COMC order was free, as I'd accumulated a fair bit of challenge credit. (How many challenges have I done? You'll see.) That resulted in a lot of $5-and under purchases where I tried to get the most bang for my buck - such as this Gordie Howe Sportscaster for $3.00. It's the first time I've ever owned one of these. They're flimsier than I expected, but much cleaner.

You know I love Panini Immaculate cards. It's the one set where I will not be picky about which players are depicted.

Nick Williams was a starting outfielder for the Phillies when this card was released (2018) but got shoved out of the way when the team signed Bryce Harper. This is a low-numbered autographed quad relic of a player who was in triple-A the following year. Which is why I was able to snag it for $2.25.

Not all of these were cheap. The green-bordered Dustin Pedroia relic (listed as EX-NM for some reason) was $2.99. The Rick Porcello relic next to it was $1.45. The Ortiz/Pedroia dual on the left was $9.90.

Which is more than I spent on this Gus Zernial 1953 Bowman Color card:

I picked up a mislabeled 1959 Topps Zernial buyback on a whim, thinking I could flip it during the COMC Spring sale. But since they never had one, I'll have to request shipping on another order for this.


 Had to splurge for this '63 Topps Ken Boyer. I'd made an offer on a graded copy but the seller refused to take less than $75. I balked and bought this on COMC for $12.70 instead.


And a couple of 1956 Topps cards for $3.58 each, bringing my total for the set to 220 out of 342 cards. Almost at 2/3 completion!!


Set fillers. Dent is the last 1986 Topps single I wanted to upgrade; close the book on that one. Barrasso completes the 1993-94 Leaf Painted Warriors insert set, though Grant Fuhr needs an upgrade. My Fleer basketball binder (containing 1988-89, 1989-90, and 1990-91 sets) is missing just seven cards now.


Shiffy! I have two pages worth of this pose but I'd rather spend $1.36 on a pretty border color than $5.25 on a whole new Mikaela card. Maybe I'll get one during the Black Friday sale unless COMC cancels that, too.


Lizzy! The Scarlet parallel at the top looks cooler but doesn't scan as well. It's funny, for all the hype her twin sisters got I feel like Elizabeth is the most talented and interesting Olsen. It would be like if the Sedin twins were constantly hyped in the states, got to the NHL and (instead of becoming Hall of Famers) were gone within a decade. Meanwhile their less heralded kid bro Mattias became a superstar instead.

This would be a good time to show off my hockey acquisitions. 

There's the requisite ePack cheapies. (I wont bother you with my Devils haul.)

 PC players.

And Whalers, including a Pat Verbeek auto. One of those Sebastian Aho Skybox cards was supposed to be a Spectum parallel. Now I have to spend 40 cents on another one. Thanks, COMC :/

Oh, and you see the two SP cards on the bottom left? Those are from 2020-21 SP Signature Legends, a worthy successor to 2004-05 In the Game Franchises. It's fantastic. Guess when it was released?

Two months ago. Upper Deck still hasn't recovered from Covid-related supply chain issues? Yeesh.

I'll speed through the other sports real quick. Here's some basketball, including a Khris Middleton RC:

The wrong guy is doing Taco Bell commercials. I don't care if Fall is playing in China - his name is Tacko!

Picked up some new Packers, including a Dorsey Levens RC that had eluded my collection for nearly 30 years!

Some cheapo baseball including the Bernie Williams TBT single in the Duran Duran design design.

And some more cheapo baseball. The Marcelo Mayer at the top left was not cheap, however. At $20.05 it was the big splurge of the lot, and forced me to add actual money to my COMC account. Really thought my prospecting days were over, but how often do the Red Sox have the "best prospect in the draft"?

I have another 20+ cards sitting at COMC that I need to bring home, but I am officially retired from playing the challenge game because... I hit a major milestone!!

all of that work earned me.. a red icon

600 trades, 600 posts, 500 feedback comments on TCDB, and a million challenge points. After all those milestones, I think it's time to retire. 

Nah, I've still got some sets to finish.

And I don't think I'll ever be completely done with collecting. I do need a break though. After I re-sort all the cards I scanned for those All-Time Teams scans and put these new cards away, inlcuding:

My brother in law bought a Star Trek relic card on eBay and the seller included some random cards with it. For protection I guess? He's more of a non-sports guy though he passively collects hockey.

There were no hockey cards included, so he gave them all to me. The two Red Sox prospects were a welcome sight, and so was all the shiny stuff.

Johnny, Night Owl... holler if you need any of these.


Okay, I have rambled on long enough. It was a goal of mine to come up with creative posts as I felt like the whole sphere was stagnating. The Young Guns Chronicles and Greatest Non-Hall of Famers were a lot of fun, and I'd been planning to update the All-Time Teams series for a while.

I wrote these long research series because I'm no longer inspired to write about cards. Purchasing and collecting and trading and scanning and cataloging and sorting and protecting cards is so time consuming. After all of that, it's harder to come up with unique ways to discuss them.

That's what I need a break from. I'll always be a writer, and a collector. The rest of it feels like work. 

Thank you very much for reading all of these long posts. I hope you have a fantastic summer. I'll see you around.


Saturday, May 27, 2023

All-Time Teams Wrap-Up (& Negro League Stars)

In my initial All-Time Teams series four years ago, I began at the end - the Barnstormers were the first roster posted. It was implied that if there was a "best of the rest" 31st team, then the 32nd team had to be comprised of Negro League greats who were never allowed to show their skills in the segregated major leagues.

Having limited knowledge of Negro League stars aside from the top five or so, I deferred the task of revealing a roster for this 32nd team - until now. For the sake of completion, here are your Negro League All-Stars.

Rube Foster will be the manager of this club, which will call Kansas City's Municipal Stadium home.

Center fielder "Cool Papa" Bell seems like an ideal lead-off hitter. However Oscar Charleston, one of the greatest ever, also played center field. I guess he can DH?

First Baseman Buck Leonard will bat second.

Oscar Charleston is up next (by the way, I don't have any of these cards.)

 Followed by the incomparable Josh Gibson catching and batting cleanup. 


 Left fielder Mule Suttles will bat fifth.


Willie Wells will bat sixth and start at shortstop.

Turkey Stearnes will bat seventh and play right field even though he's a natural center fielder.

Judy Johnson gets the start at third base. He'll bat in the eighth spot.

Second base was a tough one. Bingo DeMoss seemed like the best player at the position, but I'm going to squeeze shortstop Dick Lundy in here.

Rube Foster has plenty of talented players on his bench, including backup catcher Biz Mackey, infielders "Pop" Lloyd and Ray Dandridge, and outfielders Monte Irvin and Cristobal Torriente.

Have I mentioned how much I love 1953 Bowman Color cards?

I admit my Negro League knowledge is limited and this roster is probably flawed in some way, but I don't think anyone will argue that the pitching staff should be anchored by Satchel Paige.

Assemble the rest of these great hurlers however you wish.

  • "Smoky" Joe Williams
  • Leon Day
  • "Bullet" Rogan
  • Martin Dihigo
  • Bill Foster
  • Hilton Smith
  • Andy Cooper
  • Bill Byrd
  • Ray Brown
  • John Donaldson

I'm not going to guess which one(s) would fit best in a closer's role. 

For those of you wondering what of Buck O'Neil, he's one of the five 'reserve' players.

Now that we have 32 completed rosters, we can realign these teams into four divisions of eight:

American League EastAmerican Lea. WestNational League EastNational League West
ChicagoKansas CityCincinnatiLos Angeles
DetroitOaklandNew YorkNegro League Stars
New YorkSeattlePhiladelphiaSt. Louis
Tampa BayTexasPittsburghSan Diego
TorontoBarnstormersWashingtonSan Francisco

If you're an All-Time Teams superfan and would like to see the complete list of 960+ players I invite you to take a look at the spreadsheet here.

Who are your picks for division winners? World Series? Worst roster?

This officially concludes The Collector's All-Time Teams series. I've got one more post scheduled for Memorial Day - which will include my latest COMC order - and then I'm going on vacation.

Thanks for reading!


Friday, May 26, 2023

Meet the Barnstormers

So we've got our 30 All-Time Teams rosters, with 25 players each. Obviously these 750 players aren't the best 750 baseball players ever, they're just the best players by position for their respective teams. That alone leaves out some very good players, as you saw in this series. 

How do we account for above-average ball players who were stuck in a positional logjam or switched teams too often to rank high enough with any one franchise? The first thing we do is add a reserve list. Each of the 30 MLB franchises will have five more unofficial All-Timers - two pitchers, an infielder, an outfielder, and a utility player - many of whom were cut from the original All-Time Team rosters.

The second thing we do is add a 31st team.

If you followed All-Time Teams 1.0 (or the NHL All-Time Teams series) you know I like to include a "best of the rest" roster to scoop up all the star players who couldn't fit anywhere else. We called this rag-tag bunch of misfits the Barnstormers (or Barnes-stormers?), gave them a Hall of Fame manager and two dozen players, and sent them on their way.

Like every other All-Time Team, Joe Torre has the opportunity to tinker with his original lineup.

Unlike every other manager, Torre has no minimum season constraints to deal with. He can choose from any available player, in any era. Hey, that third baseman looks familiar...

Leadoff man Kenny Lofton should have no trouble staying in the starting lineup. Right?

Center Field*Kenny Lofton68.40.2990.3720.4230.794107

Brett Butler49.70.2900.3770.3760.753110

Curtis Granderson47.20.2490.3370.4650.803113

Earle Combs45.00.3250.3970.4620.859125

Al Oliver43.60.3030.3440.4510.795121

Torii Hunter50.70.2770.3310.4610.793110

Pete Browning40.40.3410.4030.4670.869163

On second thought, he might not make the team at all. Combs and Browning are far better hitters, even if they lack Lofton's all-around game.

19th-century great Ross Barnes and Hall of Famer Joe Gordon are entrenched at second base.

2nd Base*Ross Barnes27.70.3600.3890.4680.857167

*Joe Gordon55.60.2680.3570.4660.822120

Billy Herman57.20.3040.3670.4070.774112

Buddy Myer48.40.3030.3890.4060.795108

Cupid Childs44.40.3060.4160.3890.805120

Julio Franco43.60.2980.3650.4170.782111

Tony Phillips50.90.2660.3740.3890.763109

Billy Herman was a Cubs reserve in the original series but lost his spot to Bill Dahlen. He can't crack this roster, either.

Torre has more options at designated hitter, but the Giambino isn't worried.

Des. Hitter*Jason Giambi50.50.2770.3990.5160.916139

Jack Clark53.10.2670.3790.4760.854137

Rusty Staub45.80.2790.3620.4310.793124

Greg Luzinski26.30.2760.3630.4780.840130

Mickey Tettleton29.30.2410.3690.4490.818122

Victor Martinez32.00.2950.3600.4550.815118

Jack Clark and Rusty Staub can try to win a spot in right field. As for that other Giants slugger named Clark...

Hall of Famer Dan Brouthers has the starting first base job on lock; the competition here is for Will Clark's backup spot.

1st Base*Dan Brouthers78.70.3420.4230.5200.943171

*Will Clark56.50.3030.3840.4970.880137

Mark Teixeira50.60.2680.3600.5090.869126

Ed Konetchy46.50.2810.3460.4030.749123

Jack Fournier41.20.3130.3920.4830.875142

Tino Martinez29.00.2710.3440.4710.815112

I had never heard of Jack Fournier until researching this. He's pretty good. Not good enough to beat out "The Thrill" though.

Baseball-reference lists Joe Torre under first basemen, though his primary position is actually catcher. So why is he starting at third for the Barnstormers?

3rd base*Joe Torre57.50.2970.3650.4520.817129

Darrell Evans58.70.2480.3610.4310.792119

Jimmy Collins53.30.2940.3430.4090.752113

Bob Elliott50.90.2890.3750.4400.815124

Deacon White45.50.3120.3460.3930.740127

Bill Madlock38.20.3050.3650.4420.807123

Aramis Ramirez32.40.2830.3410.4920.833115

Bobby Bonilla30.20.2790.3580.4720.829124

Because there's less competition here. Evans and Madlock could be in the mix for a reserve role.

Gavvy Cravath and Willie Keeler are holding down right field. Is there a change to be made?

Right Field*Gavvy Cravath33.00.2870.3800.4780.858151

*Willie Keeler54.30.3410.3880.4150.802127

Harry Hooper53.70.2810.3680.3870.755114

Rusty Staub45.80.2790.3620.4310.793124

Bill Nicholson41.90.2680.3650.4650.830132

Reggie Sanders39.80.2670.3430.4870.830115

Roger Maris38.30.2600.3450.4760.822127

If there is, it would be a change in deployment, not personnel. Perhaps Keeler could start (and lead off) while Combs starts in center field.

Joe Torre's decision to play Joe Torre at third base frees up a spot behind the dish. Thurman Munson is the incumbent here, with Hall of Famer Roger Bresnahan backing him up.

Are there better options?

Catchers*Thurman Munson46.10.2920.3460.4100.756116

*Roger Bresnahan42.90.2790.3860.3770.764126

Wally Schang48.00.2840.3930.4010.794117

Russell Martin38.90.2480.3490.3970.746101

Charlie Bennett38.80.2560.3400.3870.728119

Smoky Burgess33.40.2950.3620.4460.807116

Mickey Tettleton29.30.2410.3690.4490.818122

Victor Martinez32.00.2950.3600.4550.815118

Tony Pena24.70.2600.3090.3640.67384

Once again, the Yankees star stays. Pena is in the discussion exclusively for defense (he is a Torre guy after all.) Wally Schang is a slight upgrade over Bresnahan. He'll back up Munson.

Let's look at left field, where Jesse Burkett is being backed up by Lefty O'Doul.

A couple of pre-war Hall of Famers and yet another Yankee are among the options at Torre's disposal.

Left Field*Jesse Burkett59.70.3380.4150.4460.861140

*Lefty O'Doul25.60.3490.4130.5320.945143

Jim O'Rourke52.20.3100.3520.4220.775134

Joe Kelley50.40.3170.4020.4510.853133

Roy White46.90.2710.3600.4040.764121

Harry Stovey45.00.2880.3610.4620.822144

Moises Alou39.90.3030.3690.5160.885128

No threat to Burkett, but O'Doul could be on the chopping block.

Finally we'll look at the 'Stormers shortstop competition.

Shortstop*Hughie Jennings42.30.3120.3910.4060.797118

Bobby Wallace76.40.2680.3320.3580.690105

Jack Glasscock61.60.2900.3370.3740.712112

Joe Tinker53.20.2620.3080.3530.66196

Vern Stephens46.30.2860.3550.4600.815119

Omar Vizquel45.60.2720.3360.3520.68882

Phil Rizzuto42.10.2730.3510.3550.70693

Dave Concepcion40.10.2670.3220.3570.67988

Francisco Lindor37.90.2750.3400.4710.811116

Lots of big names with not so big numbers. Put a pin in Lindor for a minute.

The Barnstormers' starting pitchers can hold their own with most established teams.

career statsWARERAERA+K/BB WHIPstarts

*Tim Keefe86.92.631262.081.123594

*Old Hoss Radbourn75.42.681192.091.149502

*Tim Hudson57.93.491202.271.239479

*Don Newcombe38.73.571142.241.207305

*Jim McCormick76.22.431182.281.132485

Can Torre improve upon this group?

Ah, the Gerrit Cole conundrum. Both he and Francisco Lindor are good enough to earn a place on an All-Time team but they haven't yet qualified for their respective New York-based clubs and couldn't find a place on their original squads. I hesitate to put either of them here since they are still active, but they shouldn't fall through the cracks in the mean time. Then again, there are other arms available.

career statsWARERAERA+K/BB WHIPstarts

Pud Galvin73.42.851072.431.191688

Mickey Welch62.32.711131.431.226549

Tommy John61.63.341111.781.283700

Bobby Mathews55.12.861042.871.237568

Bartolo Colon46.24.121062.671.312552

Cliff Lee43.23.521183.931.196324

Andy Messersmith40.22.861211.961.143295

Gerrit Cole36.33.211284.481.101278

And Cole would probably choose to rep his real team anyhow. 

The Barnstormers' bullpen was weakened by a pair of defections - Bob Wickman was assigned to the Brewers while Arthur Rhodes joined the Mariners. Who can Joe Torre call on to replace them?

Some solid closers are out there and... how the heck did Baltimore let Darren O'Day get away?

career statsSVERAERA+K/BB WHIPgames

Darren O'Day212.591673.701.034644

Jeff Shaw2033.541192.331.244633

Joe Smith303.141292.621.190866

Mike Stanton843.921122.131.3521178

Paul Assenmacher563.531182.561.323884

Paul Quantrill213.831182.161.416841

Takashi Saito842.341853.701.059338

Rafael Soriano2072.891443.251.078591

Torre would love to pick his guy Stanton here but the GM is overruling him and adding O'Day. As a compromise, Rafael Soriano is also selected over non-Yankees like Saito and Shaw. 

The Barnstormers' roster is set. Combs and Keeler will start. Neither Cravath nor O'Doul played a whole lot of games but both were equally productive. Lofton's speed, glove, and longevity are enough to earn the fourth outfielder spot. Cravath will join him on the Barnstormer bench.

TL; DR: Four changes from the original roster. O'Doul, Bresnahan, Wickman, and Rhodes out. Combs, Schang, O'Day, and Soriano in.

That's our 31st team, but now we need another squad to even things out. We'll put a bow on this series for good with the Negro League All-Stars and full roster reveals tomorrow night.

Thanks for reading!