Wednesday, April 1, 2020

My 100,000th card!!

It's finally here - the 100,000th card in my collection!

Can you guess what it is? Here are some hints:

It is a baseball card.

Of a Hall of Famer..


In his "sunset" season..

Give up? It's the one and only..

 ...Phil Niekro:

Just kidding! This is not my 100,000th card (I'm still stuck on 98,000 or so.) This is my entry in Matt's April Fools Day Bat-Around prank. By the way..

Did you know that Matt Batts



ever bats?

This is true: Matt Batts played 546 games over ten seasons and didn't get to bat once.

April Fool! Obviously Matt Batts was allowed to bat, I just thought it was interesting that he was never shown holding a bat on any of his Topps or Bowman cards.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, March 30, 2020

Ending One Project, Starting Another

I started the All-Time Teams series in August. It really should not have taken me seven months to complete; my initial plan was to write them all in one month! But now that all 30 teams are set it's easy to imagine what a season would look like with all of those legends (and Yunieski Betancourt!) taking the field. I've thought about different ways to calculate a simulated season with these teams and decided that it can wait until October.

There are some reader-suggested roster moves that are worth re-considering, for example:

Everyone wanted Nolan Ryan! I got comments that he should have been a Ranger (his HOF plaque does have a 'T' on it) and an Angel, where he had his many of his best years. I stand by my decision to send him to Houston; if he had anchored the Angels' rotation it would have bumped John Lackey out. Don Wilson or Joe Niekro would have made the Astros' rotation, with Roy Oswalt ascending to staff ace. 

Would it have killed me to put Alex Rodriguez on the Mariners? Probably not. Graig Nettles would have been a much better fill-in for him as a Yankee than our man Yuni is in Seattle. But it's kind of fun to have one guy who clearly doesn't belong. Kind of like John Scott at the NHL All-Star Game.


It's tough to be objective when deciding between a modern player readers like and a 19th-century player no one has heard of. Such was the case with the Phillies roster, when Dick Allen was squeezed out of the starting lineup in part because of Sam Thompson. Perhaps I should have had Allen play first, Ryan Howard DH, and bench either Thompson or Chuck Klein.

Here's one that I didn't get a comment on but I still don't feel great about it: Hall of Fame shortstop Joe Cronin could compete for the Red Sox or the Twins(Senators) starting job, yet I have him managing Boston. If Terry Francona managed the Sawx and Cronin were a player, either Nomar Garciaparra or Cecil Travis would likely get cut. Both of them had higher career averages - but shorter careers - than Cronin. Neither of them accumulated 64 WAR or eight seasons of 100+ RBI.

Also I had Tony Lazzeri on the Yankees and the Barnstomers! I had a feeling I'd duplicate at least one player. Joe Gordon has replaced him on the 31st team, and I 'remastered' that post. 

And finally, there are four players with over 70 career WAR who didn't make the cut for their franchise's All-Time Team (or the Barnstormers) :

SS Bobby Wallace 76.3 WAR (HOF)
  Primary team - St. Louis Browns
  A .258 career batting average and a 103 OPS+ won't make Cal Ripken flinch. 

SS Bill Dahlen 75.3 WAR
  Primary team - Chicago Cubs/Brooklyn Dodgers
  We can rule out the Cubs right away. His Dodgers numbers do compare well to Pee Wee Reese - but Pee Wee played a lot longer in Dodger blue. Dahlen isn't even a Hall of Famer (but he should be.)

P Pud Galvin 73.5 WAR (HOF) 
  Primary team - Buffalo Bisons
  A pioneer in the field of PED usage, Galvin pitched seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who definitely could have used him. However he was a far better pitcher in Buffalo.

P Ted Lyons 70.4 WAR (HOF)
   Primary team - Chicago White Sox
   "Sunday Ted" had a fielding-independent ERA over 4.00, walked more batters than he struck out, and averaged a mere 2.3 strikeouts per 9 innings. Lyons was elected to the Hall of Fame as a starting pitcher without whiffing 75 batters in any one season. Wow. 

In the course of my research for this project I learned a lot about some overlooked greats, especially from the first 75 years of baseball. As collectors, we're often more familiar with players that appear frequently on trading cards. I didn't know about Sam Thompson or George Davis or Jimmy Ryan until researching this project - because there just aren't any (modern) cards of these players.

The Sporting News Conlon Collection did a fantastic job cataloging the lesser-known players of the pre-war era, but even that comprehensive five-volume set doesn't cover 19th-century stars.

A few months ago one baseball card blogger (I can't remember who) asked us to think of an idea for a new card set, and what it might include. This All-Time Teams project made me realize that due to licensing issues - and the Topps monopoly - we missed out on what could have been a fantastic card set celebrating 150 Years of Baseball.

So I'm going to create one.

No, it won't be a traditional card set with the same logo, design, and sequential card numbers. But if it were, I would build it thusly:

All-Time Teams 840-card set (28 cards per team)
  • 25-man rosters, a manager, and a team checklist card*
  • 30 Stadium cards (short-printed)
  • Franchise Leader parallels (2 per box)
  • Negro League Stars inserts (1 per box)
  • Future All-Time Greats inserts (retail exclusive)
  • Hall of Famer inserts (2 per box)
  • Hall of Famer relics (one per hobby box)
  • Hall of Famer autographs/cut signatures (one per hobby case)
  • Barnstormers exchange card**
*The team checklist card would likely feature each team's career WAR leader.

**If this were an actual set the "leftover" players would be called something else. But the exchange card would be redeemable for a full 25-card set of those players.

This would be a traditional 15-card pack, 36-pack box product, at a price point of under $100. Let's say the Stadium cards are 1:6 packs, which would equal six in a box. Including the five inserts and Hall of Famer "hit" that's 12 'special' cards per box. Is that too many? Not enough?

Since I don't own a trading card company I would have to make my own All-Time Teams out of already-existing cards. And so, with my first Frankenset completed I will now attempt to complete a much bigger project: an 810 card collection based on the just-completed All-Time Teams.

Excluding the checklist card from my original concept leaves me with 27 cards per team, for an even three 9-pocket pages. I will need two binders for this project - one for American League teams and one for National League teams - which I probably won't be able to purchase until the summer. 

Once I am able to assemble the set in binders it will take me back to how I used to display my baseball card collection - alphabetically by city. Since joining TCDB I moved all my sets out of boxes and into binders, while my 'free-range' cards (those that aren't part of PCs or set builds) are now sorted chronologically in boxes.

My goals for this Frankenset are simple: one card of every player on an All-Time Team, preferably in that team's uniform. This isn't always feasible so I'm creating a 'backup' list. I'm excluding any relics, autographs, thick base cards, or high-value vintage in order to keep costs down. Low-end inserts and parallels will be targeted in some cases.

There are going to be some challenges, and I may even need to commission someone to produce custom cards once I've exhausted all other options. If the set takes more than a couple years to build there may be some past players getting bumped out by a current star. But I'm not making roster decisions based on whose card will be easier to acquire. That would be cheating.

I'll have more updates on this project as new cards come in - including a spreadsheet for your perusal. 

Until then, thanks for reading this long post. Hope to see you back here for the exclusive All-Time Teams edition of Free Stuff Friday! 


Sunday, March 29, 2020

All-Time Teams: Nationals

This All-Time Teams series started seven months ago, or the length of an entire baseball season. And it seems fitting that we're left with the defending World Champions at the finish line. Here's the Washington Nationals' all-time roster:

Manager: Felipe Alou
Home: Nationals Park

Leading off for the Nationals.. the Left Fielder.. Tim Raines

Tim Raines is fifth on the all-time stolen base list with 808, including a major-league leading 71 swipes (in 88 games!) as a 21 year-old rookie in 1981. That kicked off a streak of six straight 70+ steal seasons for the franchise's all-time leader. "Rock" was named to seven All-Star teams, won a batting title and a Silver Slugger in 1986, and won two World Series with the Yankees late in his Hall of Fame career. The career .294 career hitter is the last player enshrined in Cooperstown with an Expos cap on his plaque.

Batting second.. the Second Baseman.. Jose Vidro

Jose Vidro is the only player in this lineup who suited up for the Expos and the Nationals. The three-time All-Star is tied with Tim Raines for the franchise's second-highest career batting average. His .301 mark for the team was boosted by hitting .310 or higher in four consecutive seasons. Vidro has the third-most doubles in team history and places top-ten in several other categories including hits, runs scored, total bases, home runs, and RBI. He won a Silver Slugger with the Expos in 2003.

Batting third.. the Designated Hitter.. Bryce Harper

A once-in-a-generation prospect who burst onto the scene at age 16, Bryce Harper was Washington's first-overall pick as a 17 year-old in 2010. "Harp" lived up to the hype immediately, winning NL Rookie of the Year honors at 19 and an NL MVP award at age 22. The six-time All-Star is second on the Nationals' franchise list in slugging percentage and OPS, and his 184 home runs are sixth in team history. Harper led the Nats to four playoff appearances in his eight years with the team before signing a 13-year contract with the Phillies in 2019. He's too athletic to be a DH but on this roster he'll have to make room for a Hall of Famer.

Batting fourth.. the Right Fielder.. Vladimir Guerrero

The best "bad-ball" hitter in modern history, Vladimir Guerrero was a run-producing machine for the Expos and Angels. The nine-time All-Star and eight-time Silver Slugger winner compiled five straight seasons with over 100 runs scored, over 30 home runs, and over 100 RBI. Guerrero led the league in total bases twice, outfield assists twice, and was one home run away from a 40/40 season in 2002. His 234 home runs for the Expos are the second-highest total in team history and he's the franchise leader in career batting average, slugging percentage, and OPS. "Vladdy" never struck out more than 95 times in a season and hit .300 or above thirteen times.

Batting fifth.. the Catcher.. Gary Carter

A popular player on both sides of the border, Gary Carter is the Expos' career leader with 55.8 WAR. His career mark of 70.1 is second only to Johnny Bench among all catchers. Carter earned eleven All-Star selections, five Silver Sluggers, and three Gold Gloves in his Hall of Fame career. His career defensive WAR is the second-highest among backstops and 15th all-time among all players. Only Tim Wallach played more games as an Expo than the "Kid." He ranks third in Expos/Nationals franchise history in games played, fourth in home runs, total bases, and RBI, and fifth in runs scored and hits. Carter won a World Series with the Mets in 1986.

Batting sixth.. the Third Baseman.. Anthony Rendon

The Nationals built the core of a contending team through first round draft picks including Anthony Rendon in 2011. A two-time Silver Slugger winner, Rendon made his first appearance in an All-Star game in 2019. He led the majors with 129 RBI and helped the Nationals win their first World Championship, then signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Angels. Rendon boasts the fourth-highest career slugging percentage and fifth-highest OPS in franchise history.

Batting seventh.. the Center Fielder.. Andre Dawson

Andre Dawson won the NL Rookie of the Year award in 1977 and NL MVP honors ten years later. His Hall of Fame career included eight All-Star selections, eight Gold Gloves, and four Silver Slugger awards. The "Hawk" led the Expos to their first playoff appearance in 1981, led the NL in total bases twice, and finished second in NL MVP voting twice. He's in the franchise's top-three in WAR, runs scored, home runs, total bases, runs created, runs batted in, triples, and stolen bases. Dawson ranks 40th all-time with 1,591 RBI and 45th in history with 438 home runs.

Batting eighth.. the First Baseman.. Ryan Zimmerman

The franchise's first draft pick in Washington, Ryan Zimmerman debuted for the Nationals in his draft year of 2005. In 15 years with the team, "Zim" has set franchise records for career hits, doubles, total bases, home runs, and RBI. A two-time All-Star, Zimmerman won two Silver Sluggers and a Gold Glove at third base before moving across the diamond in 2015. He signed a one-year deal to return to the Nats in 2020, and has a good chance of breaking Tim Raines' team record for runs scored - assuming a season is played.

Batting ninth.. the Shortstop.. Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond played the first seven seasons of his career as D.C.'s shortstop, before moving to the outfield for the Rangers. The two-time All-Star won three Silver Slugger awards while with the Nationals, launching 20+ home runs in each season. Desmond is 11th in Expos/Nationals history in offensive WAR, home runs, total bases, and hits. His 122 stolen bases are the ninth-highest total in team annals, one behind Vladimir Guerrero.

The Starting Pitcher for the Nationals.. Max Scherzer

In just five seasons with Washington, Max Scherzer has struck out 1,371 batters - already the third-highest total in team history. The seven-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young award winner is the Expos/Nationals all-time leader in strikeouts per 9 innings with a whopping 11.744, and also leads the franchise in strikeout to walk ratio, WHIP and ERA+. Scherzer has led the league in wins four times, WHIP four times, and strikeouts three times. His 2,692 career K's places him 24th on the all-time list, ahead of legendary hurlers like Warren Spahn and Bob Feller.

Now let's take a look at the Nationals' bench and bullpen:

Catcher - Wilson Ramos
1st Base - Andres Galarraga
Infield - Tim Wallach
Outfield - Warren Cromartie
Utility - Bob Bailey

Ramos won a Silver Slugger for the Nationals in 2016 and made two All-Star teams. The Expos/Nats are very deep at third base; not so much at the other infield positions. Galarraga is the only natural first baseman I considered, and his numbers with the Expos weren't as good as Bob Bailey - whom I added as a super utility guy rather than deciding on a fifth outfielder. Wallach made five All-Star teams, won three Gold Gloves, and played more games for the franchise than any Expo or National - but his peak years weren't quite as productive as Rendon's. Cromartie is in the team's top ten in several categories including total bases, hits, and games played.

#2 Starter - Stephen Strasburg
#3 Starter - Steve Rogers
#4 Starter - Dennis Martinez
#5 Starter - Jordan Zimmermann

Strasburg, the first overall pick in the 2009 draft, is first in Nationals history with 1,695 strikeouts. The three-time All-Star won World Series MVP honors in 2019. Rogers holds franchise records for starts, innings pitched, and wins. His career 44.7 WAR is fourth in team history and first among pitchers. "El Presidente" posted 30 WAR over his eight seasons in Montreal, earning three of his four All-Star selections. Zimmerman beat Bryn Smith for the fifth starter spot with a higher K:9 and K:BB rate.

RH Reliever - Tyler Clippard
RH Reliever - Chad Cordero
RH Reliever - Mel Rojas
RH Reliever - Mike Marshall
RH Reliever - Tim Burke
RH Reliever - Jeff Reardon 

Clippard is second in Nats history with 414 appearances and earned two All-Star berths. Cordero is second on the team's all-time saves list with 128, including a major league-leading 47 in 2005. Rojas is fourth among Expos/Nationals relievers in appearances and saves. Marshall was a dominant long reliever in the early 1970's, leading the NL in appearances three times, saves twice, and games finished four times. He won the Cy Young in 1974 after pitching 201 innings in relief for the Dodgers. Burke leads the franchise in appearances and ERA. Reardon saved 367 career games, including a franchise-high 152 for the Expos.

Thank you all for joining me on this season-long look at the all-time greatest players in each team's history. I've got something fun planned for tomorrow's wrap-up post. It's a long one, but I think you'll like it ;)



Saturday, March 28, 2020

Free Stuff and TCDB Stuff

I'm hoping to have the Washington Nationals All-Time Team posted tomorrow. This young stud didn't qualify, but he's already made his mark on the franchise:

The Juan Soto Atomic Refractor you see here is the only recent card I received in a TCDB trade with Base Card Hero. I sent Ryan 21 dupes from 1992 Fleer Ultra and three from 2016 Topps.

The cards I asked for (besides the Soto) were 1983 Topps singles. These were the biggest names. Fergie might be my favorite of the whole lot, it's really sharp and the colors pop.

Some lesser-known players here, though you may know Randy Moffitt as the younger brother of Billie Jean King. Larry Milbourne is interesting to me; while I was researching the Mariners All-Time Team I discovered that he's the most accomplished major leaguer from my wife's alma mater.

These cards were selected with an eye toward the All-Time Teams franken-set (more details next week). Originally I had asked for a 1983 Topps Simmons but Ryan no longer had that card. I asked for the '81 as a replacement, and any of the next three cards as a backup.

He sent them all, since the Simmons is off-center and the Smith is bleeding pink ink. Nettles and the Phillies are clean. Ryan, thanks for the trade!

I sent another five dupes from 1992 Fleer Ultra baseball along with ten dupes from three other sports to TCDB user Sheepboy in exchange for 14 cards.

A couple set fillers here. I'm down to 27 needs for the 2018 Stadium Club set, and that should be below 20 once my Cardbarrel order arrives. The iconic Craig Ehlo brings me to 70% completion of the 1993-94 Ultra set.

I also acquired a couple of upgrades for my 1986 Topps football set. They're plentiful and affordable enough for me to request in trades without needing to know what condition they're in:

Bobby Butler seems to be questioning this strategy, but most of my '86 Falcons cards are a mess.

I also added some team favorites to the trade. Thought I had the Freeman Leaf and the Newsome but it turns out I had other versions of each. This is my first Aaron Ripkowski card; he was the Packers' fullback after fan favorite John Kuhn and before Dan Vitale (who has the same name as my nephews' father.)

When a PWE arrived yesterday I assumed it was the third and final TCDB trade, but it was a care package from Jon, originator of the Free Stuff Friday trend (yes, it's a trend now!)

I claimed a couple cards here and there, including some Packers:


According to his note, seven of the nine cards in the nine-pocket page were claims. I think these color-matching parallels pre-date Free Stuff Friday but I can't be certain:

Jon has sent me tons of basketball over the years, and he knows I like to collect Milwaukee Bucks (I sure hope they're able to complete this season because I'd love to see a Bucks-Lakers final.) 

He also knows I have very few Nikola Jokic cards. As in.. three. This is now my fourth 'Joker.'

Bringing it back to vintage-ish cards here including a Sonny Siebert high number(!) and a card commemorating the 1981 AFC title game. Why did I claim this card? Because I am fascinated with the story behind it. The San Diego Chargers advanced by defeating the Dolphins in Miami the week prior. It was 76 degrees at the Orange Bowl, with 80% humidity in January. At the end of the Chargers' OT victory Kellen Winslow looked like a boxer who had just gone 12 rounds with Muhammad Ali:

San Diego's reward for surviving this epic clash in brutally hot weather? A trip to Cincinnati - where the weather was historically cold. Football can be so cruel.

Jon, thanks for the great cards! I hope I'm able to return the favor soon.

Thanks for reading!