Thursday, January 17, 2019

COMC Haul and HOF voting: Todd Helton

The 2019 Baseball Hall of Fame voting results will be announced next week (finally!) and a bunch of baseball bloggers have made a list of who would receive their vote. I posted my ballot in November (I'm going to look like an idiot for leaving off Roy Halladay) but today I wanted to focus on one player in particular: Todd Helton.

Helton is not the only Cooperstown candidate I saw play in person, but he is the only one who played minor league ball in my backyard. During COMC's most recent sale I spent just over $10 on three Todd Helton cards: the 1997-style Game Jersey above cost $1.30..

..while this 1998 Best insert (with Kerry Wood on the reverse) was $0.75. A copy of this 1997 Best auto sold in a previous COMC sale, so I made sure to grab the last available copy for $8.02 - a bit more than the other one sold for, but still a great price considering he has only a dozen autographed cards available on the site. This one was even more appealing to me because it's a New Haven Ravens card.

Plenty of ink has been spilled over the 'Coors Field effect' enhancing the home totals of sluggers like Helton, Larry Walker, and others. In prior years, BBWAA voters often left Walker off their ballot for this reason. This year, his totals have soared so far. Meanwhile, Helton currently sits at 20% on the BBHOF vote tracker - though that only counts public ballots.

This is preliminary of course, but there is no way that Helton (or Scott Rolen) should have only half as many votes as Fred McGriff or Omar Vizquel. 

A few months ago I had planned on writing a blog post comparing middle-tier Hall of Fame 1st Basemen with non HOFers like Helton, McGriff, Steve Garvey, and others..but the Coors Field effect complicates matters. Instead I'll compare his best season to that of his Rockies teammate and ballot mate Larry Walker, who played significantly fewer games in Denver (and fewer games overall.) 

Here's a side-by-side comparison of their best seasons - a reminder of the video game numbers that could be produced in the thin Rocky Mountain air:

Walker 1997.366/.452/.720491301431781st
Helton 2000.372/.463/.698421471381635th

In almost any other year, Helton's batting line alone would have earned him an MVP award; he led the NL in WAR that season (finishing ahead of PED poppers Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa, and actual 2000 MVP Jeff Kent). Supporters of Fred McGriff insist that he has been 'punished' for playing clean in a dirty era. is it possible that a similar bias is hurting the Rockies' slugger?

A back injury robbed Helton of his power (similar to Don Mattingly) but the timing of his decline dovetails with the beginning of PED testing - which led at least one reporter to publicly accuse him of steroid use. That appears to be an outlier, as Helton strongly denied it at the time, and I haven't heard any other accusations against him since. 

Cooperstown Cred wrote an excellent piece on Helton's HOF case. I recommended reading it, but here's the gist:
Using WAR (Wins Above Replacement), Helton’s career total of 61.2 is 18th best for all first basemen in history. The only first sackers with higher are PED linked (Rafael Palmerio, Mark McGwire) or still active (Pujols & Cabrera). Using Jay Jaffe’s JAWS system, he’s ranked 16th best, ahead of 10 Cooperstown-enshrined first basemen.
I think they may have counted the Hall of Fame average as a player, because when I look at the list, Helton is 17th in 1st Baseman WAR and 15th in JAWS. Regardless, this basically means he's about the 16th-greatest player ever at his position. All things considered, is this enough to eventually enshrine the Rockies' greatest player? 


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Sox In My (Mail)Box

Lately I have had a hard time relaxing and writing blog posts or comments. The stress of dealing with my current job while also trying to get another job has been difficult to overcome. My go-to stress relief is blasting some music (usually Fall Out Boy's "Champion" does the trick) and cracking open some cards.

Last Friday I came home from an interview with a staffing agency to find two packages on my front porch - one big box from COMC and a surprise mailer from Julie, author of A Cracked Bat. Julie was returning fire from a package I sent her a few months back.

Nothing but Red Sox inside. Here's a side-by-side comparison of the original 1959 Topps and the Archives version.

Eight cards from 1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars, including a Jason Varitek "rookie". Seven of these are new to my collection; only the Nomar Garciaparra is a dupe.

A bunch of Bryce Brentz (and one Rusney Castillo) including my first mini from 2015 Topps. Julie is a Tigers collector, so it's no surprise that Steven Moya snuck in here.

Another nice group of Red Sox here. I like the DK originals Boggs and the Turkey Red Youkilis in particular.

World Series closer Chris Sale and ALCS MVP Jackie Bradley close out this group, along with a Manny Ramirez relic and a minor league Nomar. Great stuff Julie, Thanks very much!

There were also some Sox in my COMC box:

I always search for graded vintage singles on COMC, especially during their sale days. This time very few cards caught my attention; it took me nearly the entire week to pull the trigger on this 1970 Topps Yaz. It looks undergraded to me, and I'm happy I bought it, but I could have picked up a dozen decent cards for the $16.75 I paid. 

In fact I did pick up a dozen decent cards for slightly more than half that price, as I mentioned in my previous post. There were about 22 cards in my cart at one point, but a few of them sold while I was looking and I "put back" a couple on my own. In the end, I walked away with these:

This Dustin Pedroia Beam Team gold was something I would have bought anyway. I was thrilled to scoop it up on sale, along with a few impulse buys such as this Ty Cobb Artist Proof parallel (#d/99.) 

Pedroia, Cobb, and Elway were $1.25 each. This Ed McCaffrey card (also #d/99) was $0.65. I'm no Broncos fan, but at these prices you take what you can get.

This Kevin Durant Ascension parallel ($0.65) has a corner ding, which explains why it was cheaper than the Russell Westbrook Scope Prizm ($0.85).  

I picked up four Rediscover Topps buybacks for a total of $2.60 - and promptly shipped them off to Shoebox Shane. The cheapest cards in this group were Clayton and Clinton:

This copper parallel of Clayton Kershaw cost $0.45..

...and so did this 1963 Topps Lou Clinton card. As soon as I got it in-hand I was amazed at how clean it was. The back isn't bad, either. I'd scan it but I just sorted my entire Red Sox collection and I'm too lazy to pull it back out. 

That's a dozen decent cards for just $9.40! Who knows what gems I could have snatched up had I not bought the Yaz..but I'd say I got the best of both worlds. 

I'm planning a Todd Helton-themed post for Friday but I don't know how often I'll be able to blog beyond that. I have two interviews scheduled that day, which is amazing but also stressful because I might end up having to cancel one and what if I don't get the one job I interview for?

This morning I wasted a whole hour fiddling with my Women on Cards tab, just so that I can insert my two newest additions (stupid blogger html..) The Mrs. and I watched a Kristen Bell movie on Netflix this past weekend. Like Father was just what I was looking for - something light that I could sort my cards and half-watch without missing anything crucial. It wasn't anything special, but there was one laugh-out-loud scene.

This was my eBay bucks purchase - an Under The Dome character card die-cut. I actually had to pay $2 out of pocket, but that's a fair price to bring another Britt Robertson card home. 

I have a few more Red Sox cards coming soon, but I'll try to mix in some other teams (and maybe a non-sports single or two) since I'm sure some of you are sick of seeing Boston-area teams. Someone shoot down the Patriots...please!


Saturday, January 12, 2019

COMC 'Bonus Sale' Haul Part 1: Football

It's semi-final Saturday in the NFL..or at least that's what I'd call it. I'm never sure what to call the NFL's second round. My COMC haul from their post-Christmas 'bonus' sale showed up at my door yesterday (along with a surprise package from Julie - which I'll discuss another day) so I thought I'd show off the latest additions to my football card collection.

This was the first card I bought during the sale, and possibly my favorite purchase. I'm a huge fan of Panini Immaculate, specifically these Immaculate Numbers memorabilia relics. The print runs are limited to each player's uniform number, which means there are only 13 copies of Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton. Hilton isn't as big of a name as Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham, and this isn't the most interesting patch swatch. That might explain why I was able to snag this beauty for just $4.52.

I also picked out a pair of legendary quarterbacks for my 1986 Topps set build. Paid $1.15 for the Marino and $1.45 for Montana. They are both in ideal shape - minimal (if any) corner wear and well centered. I'm now at 52.3% of this set, thanks in large part to TCDB trades.

Here's six of the seven Brett Favre cards I added to my COMC cart (forgot to scan the other one) I thought I had at least 700 in my collection, but even with these new additions (plus an extra froma TCDB trade) I'm only at 676. It's already looking unlikely that I'll reach my New Year's goal of 1,000 different Favre cards by 2020.

Helmet logos have always appealed to me, which is why I made a point to pick up some Hard Hats inserts from this year's Panini Elite. Dickerson, McCaffrey, and Manning are guys I collect - and the Goff Optic was a failed flip at $1.45. I'm happy to keep it, especially if he leads the Rams to a Super Bowl victory..

..with help from workhorse running back Todd Gurley, of course. The rookie-year Prizm helmet cost $3.34. I paid more for this Ryan Tannehill Impeccable base card ($1.15) than the Big Ben base card I bought last year ($1.00) that led me to seek out these singles. It was an inexcusable oversight that I did not have a Sterling Sharpe Franchise insert. $1.65 was a reasonable price to pay for filling this hole in my Packers collection.

As for the Ed McCaffrey Certified doesn't fit my collection but I had to jump on it. There was a seller who discounted his port at 90% or some crazy amount like that..but his inventory was much more appealing than the typical sellers who do this.

With very little time to ponder my purchases, I swooped in and grabbed all I could. The Ed McCaffrey was $0.65. 

This John Elway Immaculate base card was just $1.25. Overall I paid $9.40 for twelve great cards, which I will discuss in a future post (because some of them are headed off to other bloggers.) 

Did you take advantage of COMC's end of year sale? Which teams are you cheering for this weekend? 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Collecting players who share your Birthday?

I'm not sure if this should be a "Question Thursday" or a "Blog Bat Around" or what...but do any of you collect cards of players who share your birthday? The topic came to mind from a care package between bloggers so I know there are at least a couple of you who do.

I had never thought to collect cards of players who were born on August 12. That is, until about three years ago when I was still collecting prospect cards.

Dodgers lefty Julio Urias was born August 12, 1996 - exactly two years after the MLB players strike started, and sixteen years after I entered the world. Boy, if that doesn't make me feel old..

Half of my Urias collection comes from the same set, 2014 Bowman Platinum.

I haven't bought any of his cards in a while, but I'd be open to trading for a few or picking up any I see in a dime/quarter box at a card show. If I ever get to another card show.

Obviously my birthday buddy is not the highlight here.

Earlier this week I made the somewhat difficult decision to include this triple relic card in a blockbuster swap. Parting with this card (and reading Night Owl's latest post) got me thinking about what other players were born on my birthday.

Zack Cozart is probably the best active player in baseball with my birthday. I pulled this Mother's Day Pink (I think?) parallel from a birthday-related purchase

Two Hall of Famers were born on 8/12 (in the 19th century): Christy Mathewson and Ray Schalk, who was one of the not-crooked members of the 1919 "Black Sox." I'm going to try and add a Schalk card to my collection but he has very few modern cards.

Pete Sampras has even fewer cards than Schalk. I'd always assumed he was the greatest athlete born on 8/12, since he was active and dominant while I was growing up (PTI saluted him on their Aug. 12 shows for about a decade) I don't have any of his cards but I definitely want to get one. Does anyone know of a tennis card collector?

Chris Chambers was born exactly two years before me. Plaxico Burress was born a year before him. Titans tight end Delanie Walker is the best active NFL player with an 8/12 birthday. 


Basketball Hall of Famer George McGinnis also shares my birthday. I don't have any of his cards. Perhaps I should add a couple to my wantlist.

Here's a guy who shares my exact birthday. Brazilian baller Rafael Araujo was born August 12, 1980. I don't have any of his cards in my collection, either. Khris Middleton and Antoine Walker are bigger 8/12 names who are represented in my basketball box.

Colin Hemingway was also born the same day as me. He played only 3 NHL games, and appears on 54 cards. I have at least one in my collection - but the Black Diamond Update card is part of my set and it doesn't scan well anyway, so I used a card I don't have. This serial numbered SP Authentic RC is now on my TCDB wantlist.

Todd Marchant won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007 and played in more games than any NHL player born on the twelfth of August. He was one of my favorite Oilers of the late 1990s-early 2000s. I hadn't been aware of any (team) sports stars who shared my birthday before collecting his cards at the time.

Which pro sports stars were born on your birthday? Do you collect their cards?


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

I Love The '70s

I've mentioned before on this and other blogs that there is a very large gap in my sports card collection: The 1970s. I went through a classic rock phase once, when I listened to a lot of Led Zeppelin, Boston, Peter Frampton, The Who, etc.. and I gobbled up '70s movies from dystopian sci-fi like Soylent Green, The Andromeda Strain, and Logan's Run to sports classics like The Bad News Bears, Slap Shot, and Rollerball - which is kind of both.

 Yet somehow sports cards of the 1970s never got top billing in my collection. Until now..

One of my most frequent trade partners has been Bo, author of the blog Baseball Cards Come To Life! (I reisted the urge to call this "Bo knows trade packages"..and it's possible I've used that before.) Bo has been hoarding vintage cards lately, and had plenty of dupes to trade.

I offered up a small lot of '60s Sox featuring my 1969 Topps Tony Conigliaro dupe, which got the ball rolling on a swap. Bo sent me one in return - Hall of Fame skipper Dick Williams, the year he managed the "Impossible Dream" Red Sox of 1967.

 The rest were all swingin' stars of the seventies, baby..

Let's start with some sluggers from the 1970 Topps set. Harmon Killebrew's 49 homers in '69 (giggidy) led the A.L. ...but did you know who led the league in WAR that year?

 Rico Petrocelli, who appears in this trade package four times. Dig it.


Fred Lynn finished third in the A.L. in RBI in 1975 but led the league in runs scored, doubles, slugging, and OPS. He was the first player to win Rookie of the Year and league MVP in the same season. Dyno-mite!


Nearly every Topps set of the seventies was represented in this trade package. Here's another 1970 card. I don't know much about Dick Schofield (Sr.) but his son's Angels cards popped up often enough when I was a young collector. Apparently he's Jayson Werth's grandfather. Far out, man!

Here's a guy I'm familiar with. Ted Simmons was one of the top catchers of the decade and in my humble opinion, should be a Hall of Famer. This is his second-year card, and one of my favorites in the stack. I'm all out of '70s catch phrases.

I also picked out this '73 Dick Allen over a '70 issue of his..didn't realize from the pic that it was miscut. It's too bad I don't know anyone who collects miscut cards and White Sox.

The colorful 1975 Topps set is represented by the colorful Dock Ellis - who is pictured wearing what appears to be a batting glove. I've never seen a pitcher wear one while pitching before.

Here are some Hall of Famers from the 1976 Topps set, the legendary Ty Cobb..

And a trio of league-leading aces. Jim Palmer won the Cy Young award in '75, leading the A.L. in new-age stats like adjusted ERA+ and well as the old-fashioned favorites like Wins, ERA, and shutouts.

The only years that didn't appear in this trade package were 1974 and 1979. It just so happens I made a small PWE trade with TCDB user John5150. John is working on the 1979 Topps and 1984 Topps sets. I sent him a few from each set and got a couple of his dupes in return:

 I also picked out a pair of Sterling Sharpe Packers cards, and some basketball stars:

That's Vince Carter on the SP Authentic card. The Shaq Ultra brings this back to Bo...

...who threw in 100 basketball cards, including a bunch of 1993-94 Ultra needs - and a postcard of the big Aristotle:

This was the first thing I pulled out of the package. According to the text on the back, it was what fans would get back from Shaq instead of a TTM auto:


Must have been disappointing for a young fan to receive this instead of a real auto. This trade package, on the other hand, was radical. Thanks for the trade, Bo!