Sunday, September 30, 2018

I Have No Title Here

This was a very eclectic trade that I received from a forum member.  I do not have a lot to say about it, it was just a fun trade.
1.  2018 Topps Allen & Ginter World Talent Xander Bogaerts.  This is one of my favorite insert sets of the season.  I have several more Red Sox cards to find though.  This is my second one, joining Tzu-Wei Lin (of course).

2.  2018 Topps Allen & Ginter Full Size Relics Chris Sale.  I do not add too many of these relics anymore, but I try to get at least one of every player.  This is my first one of Sale.  I have two autos of him too.

3.  2018 Topps Allen & Ginter Fantasy Goldmine Pedro Martinez.  Another nice insert set.  This is my second of these joining Nomar Garciaparra.

4.  2016 Bowman Chrome Prospects Andrew Benintendi. 

5.  2018 Topps Chrome Prism Refractor Hanley Ramirez.  I am a little surprised Hanley never hooked on with another team this season.

6.  2017 Topps Museum Collection Mookie Betts.  Betts just stole his 30th base of the season this week, joining Jacoby Ellsbury as sole Red Sox members of the 30/30 club.

7.  2017 Topps Museum Collection Gold Roger Clemens.  I can tell that this photo was from 1992.  The "JRY" on his shoulder was a tribute to former owner Jean R. Yawkey, widow of Tom Yawkey, who died in 1992.

8.  2014 Bowman Draft Chrome Top Prospects Refractor Blake Swihart.  Swihart now looks like the best bet to be the starting catcher in 2019. 

9.  2017 Topps Chrome Xfractor Xander Bogaerts.
10.  2017 Topps Chrome Xfractor David Ortiz.

11.  2018 Bowman Platinum Rookie Revelations Rafael Devers.  Devers has really turned things around since coming off the DL.  He is starting to resemble the player he was when he was called up last season.

12.  2018 Topps Chrome Prism Refractor Chris Sale. 

13.  2016 Topps Tribute Purple David Price.  Closing things out is a nice Price parallel.  He says he will not opt out of his contract, but I still think he probably will.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Heritage High Numbers Break

I have not done one of these in awhile.  I have been keeping my eyes open for this stuff, but until just recently I could not find any.  That was disappointing because I was somewhat impressed with the Red Sox player selection (although no Tzu-Wei Lin).  I finally found some and bought a hanger box.

Here is my Red Sox wantlist from the set:
Base: Brock Holt, Brian Johnson, Joe Kelly, Mitch Moreland, Eduardo Nunez, Carson Smith, Blake Swihart, Hector Velazquez, Marcus Walden

Base SP: J.D. Martinez, Eduardo Nunez  (Why Nunez has two cards, I have no idea)

Chrome: J.D. Martinez, Eduardo Nunez

1969 Bazooka All Time Greats: Carl Yastrzemski

Combo Cards: Rafael Devers/Mookie Betts

Now & Then: Mookie Betts

Rookie Performers: Rafael Devers

And here is the break:
Colin Moran (Pirates: 1)
Alex Blandino (Reds: 1)
Colby Rasmus (Orioles: 1)
Billy McKinney (Yankees: 1)
Asdrubal Cabrera (Mets: 1)
Jakob Junis (Royals: 1)
Francisco Liriano (Tigers: 1)
Ronald Guzman (Rangers: 1)
John Axford (Blue Jays: 1)

Brock Holt (Red Sox: 1)
Jordan Hicks (Cardinals: 1)
Jesse Biddle (Braves: 1)
Logan Forsythe (Dodgers: 1)
Daniel Palka (White Sox: 1)
Anthony Santander (Orioles: 2)
Lance Lynn (Twins: 1)
Jordan Hicks Rookie Performers (Cardinals: 2)
J.D. Martinez SP (Red Sox: 2)

Jose Altuve Award Winners (Astros: 1)
Drew Robinson (Rangers: 2)
Adam Ottavino (Rockies: 1)
Adeiny Hechevarria (Rays: 1)
Hector Velazquez (Red Sox: 3)
Luis Valbuena (Angels: 1)
Hunter Strickland (Giants: 1)
Eduardo Nunez (Red Sox: 4)
Pedro Severino (Nationals: 1)

Tony Congrani (Dodgers: 2)
Mark Canha (Athletics: 1)
Taylor Motter (Mariners: 1)
Austin Meadows (Pirates: 2)
Tony Watson (Giants: 2)
Pedro Alvarez (Orioles: 3)
Ryan Yarbrough (Rays: 2)
Steve Cishek (Cubs: 1)

Well now, that was a pretty good break for me.  I pulled four Red Sox cards, including the only SP in the box.  The Red Sox were the team most represented in this box.  I am very happy with this break.

And here are the updated team totals:


A little shakeup at the top.  The Cardinals leapfrog the Yankees into first place.  The Red Sox move into fourth place with a good showing.  I did not pull any Padres or Diamondbacks.  Again.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Honus Bonus Time

A couple of small PWEs were in my mail this morning, which would help my Lin collection.  I have been looking forward to both of them, for different reasons.  One was very late and I was concerned I was never going to get it, and the other finally included the last base card I needed.
1.  2018 Topps Gypsy Queen Green Tzu-Wei Lin.  This was a one-card package and was the one that was incredibly late.  I suspect the hurricane might have been partially at fault for the delay.  This is Lin card #53 and means I have now picked up six parallels before getting the base card.  That will be it though, as you will later see.

The next two scans came from the same package.  One result of my recent Honus Bonus box was that I was able to make a trade with another team collector who needed some Mets cards from the set.  I still needed some Red Sox, so we helped each other out.
2.  2017 Honus Bonus Clay Buchholz.  I was concerned while this package was en route that the Buchholz card would list his team as "Philadelphia" on the back.  It didn't, and so this makes card #141 of Clay Buchholz in my collection.

3.  2017 Honus Bonus Craig Kimbrel.  This is only card #36 of Craig Kimbrel.  I have a ways to go.  Kimbrel is the highest profile potential free agent the Red Sox need to make a decision about this upcoming offseason.

4.  2017 Honus Bonus Jackie Bradley Jr.  This is card #125 of JBJ.  For quite a while Betts, Bogaerts, and Bradley were in close competition.  Mookie (167) has pulled way ahead and Bogaerts (135) has started to leave JBJ in the dust too.

The package included one more card:
5.  2018 Topps Gypsy Queen Tzu-Wei Lin.  Finally.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire

Maybe I should start titling all of my posts with relevant song lyrics. 

I made a trade to acquire some 2018 Topps Fire base cards.  The set does not look as big as it was last year, so I did not think I would have quite as much time opening a box.  I got a couple of the insert singles I was focused on in this trade at least:
1.  2018 Topps Fire Andrew Benintendi.  The only base card in the set.  Benny has been slumping of late, along with several other players.  He still had a fine season.

2.  2018 Topps Fire Flame Xander Bogaerts.  It is very rare that Bogaerts is one of the first players I receive in a set.  I don't know why.  It's annoying.

3.  2018 Topps Fire Hot Start Rick Porcello.  This is probably the card I was most interested in.  Porcello does not appear on many insert cards.  The fact that he won the Cy Young Award in 2016 will most likely be more of a trivia question than common knowledge in a few years.  Just like Willie Hernandez (1984), Steve Bedrosian (1987), Mark Davis (1989), Pat Hentgen (1996), R.A. Dickey (2012), and other forgotten winners of the award.

4.  2018 Topps Fire Cannons Andrew Benintendi.  Benny has a good arm, but not compared to Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts.  I am surprised by his inclusion in this insert set. 

Not a bad start to the set.  I have a ways to go though.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Lin-sane in the Membrane

Hopefully Lin will appear in Topps Update this year, or maybe even Bowman Draft.  I am running out of easy-to-find cards of him.  There are still a lot of rare parallels out there, which I am worried I have run out of time to find, but the easy stuff is mostly gone.

I was hoping that he would receive a Topps Now card over the weekend.  He was a big part of the victory on Friday night, along with Sam Travis.  Both players hit their first career Major League home runs in the game and both helped the team tie and later win the game.  Lin himself scored the winning run in the game in which Boston clinched the East on Thursday, then drove in the tying run and scoring the winning run in the game on Friday.  It was also the 105th win of the season for the Red Sox, tying a franchise record.  So I thought both players would appear on a card commemorating their first home runs leading to tying a franchise record.  Alas, it did not happen.

Lin has been used mostly as a pinch-runner since returning to the big leagues in early September.  He has a shot at a postseason slot due to his speed and infield defense.  He even started in center field on Friday.  His versatility and ability to hit for contact will be the key to staying in the Majors.  Then hopefully he will appear on more cards.

Here are the recent additions:
1.  2013 Bowman Chrome Mini Refractor.  My scanner does not do refractors much justice.  It is serial-numbered to 125.  There are still multiple colored refractors out there from this set.

2.  2018 Topps Inception Magenta.  Not all that dissimilar from the Purple card, except that this one is serial-numbered to 99 and the Purple is 150.  From Inception, I still need the orange, the 1/1 (which apparently sold on Ebay a little while ago making it unlikely that I will find it), and any printing plates.  The Orange is less rare than the Blue, so it should show up eventually.
3.  2018 Finest Autographs Blue Refractor.  This is my fourth variation of this autograph card, joining the base version, Green Refractor, and Green Wave Refractor.  The Blue is not as rare as either of the Greens, but it took several attempts to add this one.  This is my tenth Lin auto to date.
4.  2018 Topps Gypsy Queen Missing Nameplate.  This is another variation of the Gypsy Queen card.  At this rate, I might just get all of the parallels before the base card.  I should say that I have the base card coming soon, but I also have another parallel.  Which one will get here first?  Despite the fact that this is called "Missing Nameplate", it is actually the team name that is missing, directly underneath the position.  I am still missing the B/W, Red, and Black parallels, all of which are fairly rare.
5.  2013 Bowman Chrome Prospects Purple Refractor.  One of the great player collector goals is completing the Rainbow, typically Bowman Chrome Refractors.  I am concerned I may be too late to actually do this with his 2013 issue.  I now have the Purple, Green, Blue, Blue Wave, and regular Refractors on top of his base card.  I have not been able to accomplish this with any of my other player collections either.  Varitek is closest with the 2008 Bowman Chrome cards.  I just need the Red Refractor (yes, I have the Superfractor).
6.  2018 Topps Big League Black and White.  This card is serial-numbered to 50.  The Red 1/1 is the last parallel I need for this set.

That's it for now.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A Zippy Zapping

The other day a package appeared in my mailbox.  That package promised a Zippy Zapping.  Those are always a pleasant surprise.  The package contained what I have come to expect: a couple prospect cards and a Sega Card-Gen card.  And boy, is this one a good one:
1.  Choice Top Prospects Eduard Bazardo.  Bazardo is not a well-known prospect in the Red Sox system.  He profiles as a reliever, so it is not likely that he will be burning up the team's Top Prospect lists.

2.  Choice Top Prospects Jarren Duran.  Duran was the team's seventh round pick in this year's draft.  He was extremely impressive, hitting .357 between Greenville and Lowell.  He also stole 24 bases.  It is too early to tell whether he will continue at that rate, but it was a good debut season.

3.  2010 Sega Card-Gen David Ortiz.  This is the big card from the package.  The Zippy Zappings have been my only source for these Japanese cards and this is the biggest name player to date to arrive in my collection.

Thanks a ton, Kenny!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Ho-hum: Another Tzu-Wei Lin Auto

I missed player collecting.  I must have or I would not be this excited about it again.  My Jason Varitek and Sandy Alomar Jr. collections are at such a point that adding new cards is difficult because I have so many of them already.  So this Lin collection has been a lot of fun.  Unfortunately I am getting close to having a lot of the easier to find ones, though there is still that one base card out there.

Here is the latest addition:
2018 Stadium Club Autographs Black Foil.  This is my third parallel of the Stadium Club autograph (and my ninth Lin auto overall), joining the base version and the Red Foil parallel.  This card is serial-numbered to 25.  This is Lin #46.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Red Sox with No Cards: 2014

2014 was quite the hangover for the Red Sox.  One year after winning the World Series, the Red Sox were back to where they were in 2012: last place in the East.  A lot of the standout players from 2013 suffered down seasons, particularly in the pitching staff.  Most of the new players did not reach expectations, and the rookies mostly failed to impress.  There would be hope for the future though as one rookie did meet expectations: Mookie Betts.  There were not a ton of players that failed to appear on cardboard with the team, though there were a couple of big ones.  Somehow, Carlos Rivero, Dan Butler, Alex Hassan, Jonathan Herrera, and Edwin Escobar managed to see cards released.

70 games.  70.2 innings.  2.29 ERA.  How is it exactly that Burke Badenhop's performance did not merit a card?  The 31-year-old reliever was acquired in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers in November of 2013 and was one of the bright spots in the Boston bullpen.  He had several years of success with the Marlins, Rays, and Brewers and continued with Boston.  He was second on the team in appearances among pitchers and had a terrific 2.29 ERA, eventually becoming the team's primary setup man, bridging the gap to closer Koji Uehara.  His record was a deceiving 0-3 and he did notch one save.  Badenhop struck out 40 and walked 19 in his 70.2 innings.  After the season, he signed a contract with the Reds, making him a fairly impressive one-year wonder.  Despite a decent season, Badenhop never played in the Majors again after the 2015 season.

A former supplemental first-round draft pick, Corey Brown was one of those players who never came close to reaching his potential.  He was a terrific hitter in college, but never did much with the bat in the minors.  He was drafted in 2007 by the Athletics, who then traded him to the Nationals before the 2011 season for Josh Willingham, a player who was basically what Brown was supposed to be.  He spent parts of three seasons with the Nats, never playing more than 19 games and never hitting higher than .200.  He signed as a free agent with the Red Sox prior to the 2014 season and spent most of the season in the minors, hitting 17 home runs, but with a .225 average.  He made it into three games with Boston, but struck out in his only at-bat.  Brown never made it back to the Majors, but bounced around to several organizations over the years.  Brown does appear in a Red Sox minor league set.

Capuano had a 12-year career in the Major Leagues and turned in some impressive seasons as a southpaw starter for the Brewers, Mets, and Dodgers prior to joining the Red Sox.  He twice led the league in games started and won 18 games for the Brewers in 2005.  He was an All Star in 2006.  Capuano signed a low-risk, high-reward free agent contract with Boston just prior to Spring Training and was converted into a reliever.  He made it into 28 games with the Red Sox, compiling a 1-1 record with a 4.55 ERA over 31.2 innings.  He picked up 29 strikeouts and walked 15.  The Red Sox released Capuano in June and he was picked up by the Yankees who put him back in the rotation (and of course he got a card with the Yankees).  He was not terribly impressive there either and struggled even more the following season.  He returned to the Brewers in 2016.

Here is another reliever who spent multiple seasons with the Red Sox but never appeared on cardboard with the team.  Layne was a southpaw who made it to the Major Leagues late, not making his Major League debut until he was 27.  But he was typically fairly impressive.  Layne made it into 30 games with the Red Sox after being acquired from the Padres.  He was primarily a LOOGY, throwing just 19 innings over those 30 games, but he had a sparkling 0.95 ERA and a 2-1 record.  He struck out 14 and walked eight and had a 1.158 WHIP.  Layne was given a chance after Andrew Miller was traded and stayed with Boston into the 2016 season.  He will be discussed again.  Layne does appear in a Red Sox minor league set.

It is year number four for Andrew Miller in these posts.  After an injury-shortened 2013 season, Miller was breaking out in 2014.  Boston used him mostly as a LOOGY, but he was highly effective, pitching 42.1 innings over 50 games with a solid 2.34 ERA and a 3-5 record.  He racked up 69 strikeouts and walked just 13.  Miller was a highly coveted asset by the trading deadline and was the subject of a lot of trade rumors.  He was eventually dealt to the Orioles where he continued his mastery, ending up with 103 strikeouts on the season.  Boston attempted to re-sign him as a free agent after the season, but he ended up going to the Dark Side, joining the Yankees to be their closer.  He was since traded to the Indians and is still an impressive southpaw bullpen weapon.  Boston did okay in their trade though, acquiring starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez from the Orioles.

A fine utility player, Roberts appeared at every position except catcher, pitcher, and center field during his career.  He played exclusively third base with the Red Sox though.  Roberts had a very impressive 2011 season with the Diamondbacks as the team's primary third-baseman, hitting 19 home runs with a slash line of .249/.341/.427.  He even stole 18 bases.  He was never quite as impressive again.  The Red Sox picked him up prior to the 2014 season as infield depth and he spent most of the season in the minors.  He played in Boston early in the season, making it into eight games, but he picked up just two hits in 19 at-bats, ending up with a .105/.227/.105 slash line.  Those were his final games in the Majors.  He played the next season in Oakland's system.  Roberts does appear in a Red Sox minor league set.

Jemile is the younger brother of Rickie Weeks, though he never came close to matching his brother's success.  He had an impressive rookie season in 2011, hitting .303 and stealing 22 bases for Oakland, but that was the high-water mark for his career.  By the time 2014 came around, he was spending most of his time in the minors.  The Red Sox acquired him near the August trading deadline from the Orioles along with frequent flyer Ivan DeJesus for Michael Almanzar and Kelly Johnson (who did get a card amazingly).  Weeks made it into 14 games for Boston down the stretch, playing at second and short.  He performed fairly well, hitting .308/.406/.423 and stole a couple of bases.  Weeks would be back in Boston in 2015.  Weeks also appears in a Red Sox minor league set.

There were a few players here that made it into at least 25 games, all of them relievers.  Chris Capuano, Tommy Layne, and Andrew Miller were all used mostly as left-handed specialists, though Miller was having a breakout season before he was traded.  I have named Miller as my biggest disappointment once before, so I am going to give the title this time to Burke Badenhop.  Badenhop was one of the team's primary setup men and really should have gotten a card somewhere.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

One-Card Wonder Pt. 44: Billy Hall

I have no idea how this card happened.  Hall, not related to Bill Hall who played for Boston in 2010, never played in the Majors at all.  He came up through the Padres system and was mostly known for his speed, though he would occasionally hit for high batting averages as well.

He was selected by the Red Sox in the 1993 Rule V Draft and must have made it to Spring Training with the team, or this picture would not exist.  Whether that happened or not, he was definitely returned to the Padres prior to the regular season because he never played a regular season game in the Red Sox system.  He had a very good season in the Padres system in 1994, yet oddly did not get called up.

Hall continued to have a few decent seasons in the minors, but never got the call for some reason.  I have no idea how this card exists.  I miss the big sets of the 1990's when things like this were possible.  I should note that I do have the parallel version of this card as well, but parallels do not count for the purposes of this series.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Red Sox in Cooperstown Pt. 34: Rickey Henderson

Years in Boston: 2002 (.223/.369/.352, 5 home runs, 16 RBIs, 8 stolen bases)
Best Year in Boston: 2002 (.223/.369/.352, 5 home runs, 16 RBIs, 8 stolen bases)
Rickey Henderson was the reigning AL MVP when I first started watching baseball.  He was a completely different player than anyone on the Red Sox at that time, a player who had just broken the career stolen bases record and would go on to tack on nearly 500 more before he finally retired.

By the time he came to Boston, he was well past his prime and was 43 years old.  He was not expected to be a starter, just a helpful player off the bench.  He had already broken the career runs record and recorded his 3,000th hit.

Henderson played in just 72 games, but he got on base at an impressive pace, particularly since his batting average was just .223.  He stole eight bases to add to his Major League record.  He spent most of his time in left field, but appeared in a few games at designated hitter and, oddly, in center field for the first time in several seasons.

Henderson was already well on his way to the Hall of Fame by the time he played in Boston.  He merely added some numbers to his Cooperstown credentials.  He played one more season after leaving Boston, finishing his Major League career with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2003.  Henderson played with the Athletics, Yankees, Blue Jays, Padres, Angels, Mariners, Mets, Red Sox, and Dodgers.  He is wearing an Oakland hat on his Hall of Fame plaque.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Working Overtime

I have been working late a lot lately.  I am working on multiple briefs to the state Supreme Court for various cases, including one in which my client was sentenced to 120 years in prison.  And so, receiving an order from Overtime Cards is particularly relevant to my current work status.

This order started with one card, which I will get to and which recent readers of this blog will figure out as soon as it is shown.  The rest all appear on my wantlist, including a number of vintage cards from the 1960's.
1.  2017 Topps Allen & Ginter Drew Pomeranz.  This is one of three short-printed cards from last year's Allen & Ginter set, a set that I have made very little progress on so far.  Well, this package helps out to some extent with that.  Pomeranz is not expected to appear on Boston's postseason roster.

2.  1961 Topps Dave Hillman.  Hillman spent two seasons with the Red Sox from 1960-1961 after being acquired in a deal with the Cubs for Dick Gernert.  He was a pretty decent reliever in 1961 going 3-2 with a 2.77 ERA in 28 games over 78 innings.

3.  1966 Topps Bob Duliba.  Duliba was another reliever, one who spent a single season with the Red Sox after being acquired in a deal with the Angels.  He was 4-2 with a 3.78 ERA in 39 games.  He picked up one save.

4.  2008 Donruss Sports Legends Carl Yastrzemski.  I am not sure what this set was, but it appeared on my wantlist with several Hall of Fame Red Sox, and so here we go.

5.  1987 Fleer Marty Barrett.  I was a little surprised this set was not complete, maybe because I had the Glossy set already.  I needed two cards to complete the team set.  Here is one.

6.  1987 Fleer Wade Boggs.  And here is the other one.

7.  1987 Topps Collectors' Series Baseball Highlights Jim Rice.  This is kind of a neat set.  I needed a bunch of these and grabbed most of them.

8.  1987 Topps Collectors' Series Baseball Highlights Jim Rice.  Here is another one of Rice.

9.  1987 Topps Collectors' Series Baseball Highlights Dwight Evans.  One of Dewey.
10.  1987 Topps Collectors' Series Baseball Highlights Calvin Schiraldi.  This is the card I wanted the most.  I love it when under-the-radar players like Schiraldi show up in these oddball sets.  Schiraldi had a great year in 1986, up until the postseason when he struggled in a couple of big spots.  He was never again as successful.

11.  1987 Topps Collectors' Series Baseball Highlights Bruce Hurst.  There is another Hurst card from this set, the last card I need to complete it.

12.  2013 Bowman Chrome Prospects Refractor Tzu-Wei Lin.  Yep, here is the card that started this purchase.  You can't tell from the scan, but this is the Refractor version.  This is Lin #45.

13.  1961 Topps Billy Muffett.  A third little-known pitcher from a 1960's-era set.  Muffett was with the Red Sox from 1960-1962.  He was 9-15 during that time with a 4.47 ERA.

14.  1968 Topps Gary Bell.  Bell was a terrific in-season acquisition by the Red Sox during the Impossible Dream 1967 season.  After being acquired in June, he went 12-8 with a 3.16 ERA and was an All Star in 1968 for Boston.  He was then a member of the Seattle Pilots team.

15.  1990 Score Superstars Wade Boggs.  I always liked these Score inserts/boxed set cards.  I picked up a few of them here.

16.  1990 Score Superstars Mike Greenwell.  Here is another one.

17.  1990 Score Superstars Ellis Burks.  And another one.

18.  2009 SP Legendary Cuts Kevin Youkilis.  I miss Kevin Youkilis.  I wish he would have been able to play his entire career with Boston.
19.  2016 Topps Heritage Steven Wright.  Not sure how this card escaped me.  I was in the midst of a mini-player collection of Wright at the time this was released and had numerous parallels of this card, including the Color Swap variation, mini, and multiple Chrome parallels.

20.  2010 Topps 206 Jacoby Ellsbury.  This SP completed this team set.

21.  2008 Donruss Sports Legends Carlton Fisk.  Ted Williams is the last remaining card from this set.

22.  2017 Topps Allen & Ginter Steven Wright.  I probably will not re-start the Wright player collection, but I am definitely going to pick up a bunch of cards of him.  He is the only current knuckleball pitcher in the Majors now that R.A. Dickey is retired.

23.  2017 Topps Allen & Ginter Hanley Ramirez.  All three A&G SPs were picked up in this package, including this card.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

My First Tony Peña Auto

One of the great things about the Topps Archives Signature Series buybacks is adding autographs of players that I would otherwise not be able to find.  I have wanted an autograph of Tony Peña for a long time.  I was aware of some with the Donruss Recollection Autographs but I have never been able to get one.  The primary requirement of adding one was that Peña had to be wearing his catcher's gear.  And so, here is the 1991 Stadium Club card, signed and encased in plastic.  Peña was an early favorite player of mine, because I have always liked catchers and Peña was the starting catcher when I first started watching baseball.  He was never much of a hitter, at least with the Red Sox, but he was terrific defensively and a great clubhouse presence. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Your 1981 Red Sox Pt. 12: Ralph Houk

In this series, I will look at each player who played in 1981, the year I was born. Because, why not?
Don Zimmer was fired as the Red Sox manager during the 1980 season and Johnny Pesky skippered the team for the last five games of the season.  Legendary former Yankees manager Ralph Houk was brought in early in the offseason prior to 1981.  

Houk won two World Series and an AL pennant in his first three seasons as a manager.  He then returned to coaching for a couple more seasons before doing a second stint with the Yankees as their manager.  He then spent five seasons as the Tigers manager before retiring after the 1978 season.  That retirement lasted just two seasons before Houk was hired by the Red Sox.

In Houk's first season with the Red Sox, the season was split into two parts due to a strike.  In the first part of the season, the team was 30-26.  They were 29-23 in the second half.  Houk managed three more seasons with the Red Sox, never finishing higher than third or lower than sixth.  Houk retired permanently after the 1984 season.  His record with the team was 312-282.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Slightly More than One-Year Wonder Pt. 5: Jason Bay

These players made it longer than one full season, but less than two seasons. They do not qualify as one-year wonders. They lasted slightly too long. But they still spent a brief part of their careers with the Red Sox.
The Red Sox had a problem in 2008.  That problem's name was Manny Ramirez.  He was still hitting, just as he always did, but his numbers were down and he was unhappy.  And he was causing major distractions in the clubhouse.  The team had attempted to trade Ramirez before but at the trading deadline, they finally did it.  In a three-team deal, the Red Sox sent Ramirez to the Dodgers and Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen to the Pirates.  The Dodgers sent Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris to the Pirates.  Finally, the Red Sox received two-time All Star Jason Bay from the Pirates.

Bay was more than an adequate replacement for Ramirez.  He played 49 games down the stretch and helped the team to make it to the postseason.  It went by somewhat unnoticed since Ramirez went on a massive tear to close out the season, but Bay hit .293/.370/.527 with nine home runs and 37 RBIs.  What was even better was that Bay was terrific in the clubhouse.  Bay then hit three home runs in the postseason.

The next season, there was no contest as to who was the better player.  Ramirez was suspended during the season for use of PEDs and Jason Bay was an All Star.  Bay led the team in home runs and RBIs, hitting .267/.384/.537 with 36 home runs and 119 RBIs.  He even stole 13 bases.  He finished seventh in the MVP race and won the Silver Slugger. 

After the season, Bay was a free agent and the Red Sox had a decision to make.  On the one hand, there was no dispute that Bay was a terrific offensive threat, but he was limited defensively.  The Red Sox already had David Ortiz as a DH, so it was unlikely that he would fit in there.  The team was also more interested in improving their defense, hence the signings of solid defensive players like Marco Scutaro, Adrian Beltre, and Mike Cameron.  The Red Sox ultimately moved on from Bay, choosing instead to sign John Lackey and allow Bay to join the Mets.  

Bay finished his stint with the Red Sox hitting .274/.380/.534 with 45 home runs and 156 RBIs.  He was a huge bust in New York though, hitting just .234/.318/.369 with 26 home runs and 124 RBIs over three seasons.  

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Blue Linception

And here is the Blue, discussed yesterday:
The Blue parallel is serial-numbered to just 25.  This is card #44 in my Tzu-Wei Lin collection, and is my sixth variation of the Inception card.  The Inception card is tied with the 2018 Stadium Club card for most variations of the card.  Although the Stadium Club is a little different because the Stadium Club autograph card is sort of an insert set, instead of a parallel.  But since the photo is the same, it is basically the same card. 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Lin and Topps Now Bonus Mailday

This Lin collection is really taking off.  I have not been doing it for very long and I am already up to 43.  He has far surpassed Steven Wright, though he does still lag behind Felix Doubront, of players that were once mini-player collections.  And of course he is well behind Jason Varitek and even Jackie Bradley Jr.  Unfortunately, things will likely slow down a little soon unless he pops up in another set.  I am hoping for Topps Update.  Anyway, here are the new additions:
1.  2018 Topps Inception.  I had a bunch of the parallels for this card without ever picking up the base card.  Well, this is it.  There is still one base card out there that I have yet to add: 2018 Topps Gypsy Queen.
2.  2018 Stadium Club Black Foil.  And here is another parallel from the Stadium Club set.  These were not super rare, usually one per blaster or so.  This is still one of my favorite photos from this year's Stadium Club set.
3.  2018 Topps Inception Orange.  Here is yet another parallel from Topps Inception.  I also have the green, purple, and red.  I have the blue one coming in still.
4.  2017 Topps Update Clear.  This card is the current centerpiece of my Lin collection.  Yes, even more than any of my auto cards.  This is the clear parallel and it is serial-numbered to just 10.  This is a lot more impressive in person.  You can sort of tell that it is clear from the bottom.  I am unfortunately a little late on some cards.  I found completed listings for some nice rare ones.  Maybe they will come back up at some point.

Up next are two more Topps Now Road to Opening Day bonus cards.  This gives me six bonus cards this year.  I'm hoping for one more before the season is over.
This card celebrates Mookie Betts hitting for the cycle on August 9 against the Blue Jays.  Unfortunately, Boston lost that game.  Mookie is the first Red Sox player to hit for the cycle since Brock Holt did it in 2015.
And here is Steve Pearce hitting three home runs against the Yankees, joining Mo Vaughn and Kevin Millar as the only Red Sox players to do so.  Pearce was the third Red Sox player to hit three home runs in a game this season.  Mookie did it twice.

Friday, September 14, 2018

I Love These Trades

Here is another very large trade that mostly knocked stuff off of my wantlist.  These are my favorite types of trades.  Unfortunately it is so hard to hook these up frequently.  This one had a number of cards from 2008, which was a year in which my Varitek collection was my primary concern, so I missed out on a lot of stuff.  

Well, there are a lot of cards here.  So let's get started.
1.  2018 Topps Chrome 1983 Refractor Mookie Betts.  The last Red Sox player to win the batting title was Bill Mueller in 2003.  Mookie may be the first Red Sox player to do it since then.

2.  2015 Topps Heart of the Order Ted Williams.  On the topic of batting titles, Williams won six of them, and almost a couple more.

3.  2018 Topps Big League Gold Xander Bogaerts.  This was the only card not on my wantlist, but adding a new Xander is always nice.  Especially since I seem to have a lot of trouble with that.

4.  2018 Topps Allen & Ginter Fantasy Goldmine Nomar Garciaparra.  And getting back to batting titles, Nomar won two. 

5.  1995 Topps Embossed Mo Vaughn.  Vaughn came in second in the batting race in 1998, his final year in Boston.

6.  2018 Bowman Platinum Rafael Devers.  It is something of a lost year for Devers.  Hopefully he can get back to his 2017 form soon.

7.  2008 Topps 50th Anniversary All Star Rookie Team Scott Hatteberg.  This is one of those inserts I had to add.  Hatteberg was a pretty good hitter with the Red Sox, but a dreadful defensive catcher.  Boston should have moved him to first or DH.

8.  2008 Topps Own the Game David Ortiz. 

9.  2006 Ovation Jonathan Papelbon.  Papelbon's rookie year was something special.  He might have been the Rookie of the Year if he had not missed the entire last month of the season.  He was 4-2 with a 0.92 ERA and 35 saves.
10.  2008 Upper Deck First Edition Dustin Pedroia.

11.  2008 Topps Stars David Ortiz.

12.  2008 Topps Year in Review Curt Schilling.  Schilling came close to pitching a no-hitter in 2007.  Clay Buchholz though actually did throw one that year.

13.  2008 Topps 50th Anniversary All Star Rookie Team Hideki Okajima.  Okajima leads the way in this package with four cards.  He had a terrific rookie season as well and helped Boston to a World Series victory.

14.  2009 Upper Deck Jacoby Ellsbury.

15.  2009 Upper Deck Jonathan Papelbon.

16.  2009 Upper Deck X Kevin Youkilis.  I once considered a player collection of Youkilis.  I never got around to it, but he was terrific for several seasons with Boston.

17.  2008 Topps Hideki Okajima.  I was shocked I did not have the 2008 Topps team set.  This trade package completed the set.  Finally.

18.  2008 Topps Alex Cora.  Cora is the first Red Sox manager since Butch Hobson to have played with the team prior to managing them.  He is the first team manager to have won a World Series with the Red Sox as a player since Heinie Wagner in 1930.
19.  2008 Topps J.D. Drew.

20.  2008 Topps Josh Beckett.

21.  2008 Upper Deck Hideki Okajima.

22.  2008 Upper Deck First Edition Hideki Okajima.

23.  2008 Upper Deck First Edition Sean Casey.  Casey finished his ML career with 69 games with the Red Sox in 2008.  He hit .322 but did not hit a single home run.

24.  2016 Topps Bunt Hanley Ramirez.

25.  2016 Topps Bunt Craig Kimbrel.

26.  2016 Topps Bunt David Ortiz.

27.  2016 Topps Holiday David Price.  Price has really turned things around this season.  He looks like the David Price that won the 2012 Cy Young Award.
28.  2016 Topps Holiday David Ortiz.

29.  2007 Bowman Heritage Prospects Thomas Hottovy.  Hottovy made it into eight games with the Red Sox in 2011 but was terrible.  The next year he made it into nine games with the Royals, but was much better.  Somehow he never made it back.

30.  2018 Donruss Xander Bogaerts.  Hey, Xander is not the last player I added from this set!

31.  2018 Donruss 1984 Andrew Benintendi. 

32.  2018 Stadium Club Wade Boggs.

33.  2018 Stadium Club Ted Williams.  Nice shot here.  I like the perspective and the bat that looks like it is bending from the force of his swing.

34.  2018 Topps Allen & Ginter Dustin Pedroia.

35.  2018 Topps Opening Day Chris Sale.

36.  2018 Topps Opening Day Mookie Betts.
37.  2018 Topps Opening Day Jackie Bradley Jr.  Hey, a different photo on this card.

38.  2018 Topps Opening Day Hanley Ramirez.

39.  2018 Topps Opening Day Andrew Benintendi.

And that is it for this trade package.  But it was a pretty big one.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

And More Lin Cards

Here are some more Tzu-Wei Lin cards.  I am anxious to see whether Lin will be on the postseason roster.  Possibly as a pinch runner.
1.  2018 Topps Big League Blue Tzu-Wei Lin.  I love the blue parallels from this set.  There are a couple more parallels from this set yet to go.

2.  2017 Topps Update Rainbow Foil.  There are still several more parallels from this set to go.

3.  2018 Stadium Club Autographs Red Foil.  This card is serial-numbered to 50.  It is my eighth autograph of Lin. 

I am now up to 39 Tzu-Wei Lin cards.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

An A&G X Auto

Apparently Topps is still doing the online-only Allen & Ginter X thing.  I don't tend to pick up many of these cards since it is hard to find a lot of them at a time.  

Here is one I decided to grab though:
This is the Framed Mini Autograph card of Lin, serial-numbered to just 25.  It is the second variation of the A&G auto in my collection, though it is technically from another set. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Another Two Wantlist Trades

Here are a couple of trades that knocked a bunch more stuff off my wantlist.  I love it when that happens.
1.  2016 Topps Allen & Ginter The Numbers Game Dustin Pedroia.  There have been 54 players to wear #15 for the Red Sox.  Of them, Pedroia is the best, but that list does include George Scott, Tex Hughson, Joe Dobson, and Earl Webb, as well as the immortal Ken Brett.

2.  2017 Topps Allen & Ginter What a Day Pedro Martinez.  This card celebrates Pedro's 17 strikeout game against the Yankees, one of the defining games in the Hall of Famer's career.

3.  2017 Topps Fire Monikers Blue Chip Roger Clemens.  Technically, this card does not appear on my wantlist as it is a parallel.  But still, nice to have it.  I still need the base version though.

4.  1980 Burger King Jim Rice.  Man, I miss food issues.

5.  1959 Topps Bill Monbouquette.  Monbo was the Red Sox de facto ace for several seasons in the late 50's/early 60's.  I am making some decent progress on my 1959 Topps team set suddenly.

6.  2017 Topps Chrome 1987 Andrew Benintendi.  He has been slumping a bit of late, but Benintendi is still having a terrific season.

7.  1995 Score Greg Blosser.  Blosser was one of the first big busts I remember.  The former first round draft pick hit .077 with no home runs in his brief stints in the Majors.

8.  1997 Upper Deck Troy O'Leary.  I always liked this set.  I love the caption from where each photo came from.

9.  2017 Topps Archives Xander Bogaerts.  Xander is a player that I seem to have difficulty pulling from packs, so I have to trading for them.
10.  2005 Upper Deck Trot Nixon.  I love it when people find older cards like this that I need. 

11.  2007 Upper Deck David Murphy.  I love this photo.  He looks like he is having a blast.  Murphy was traded to the Rangers in the ill-fated Eric Gagne deal in 2007.

12.  2010 Upper Deck Season Biography Tim Wakefield.  Wakefield is one of my all-time favorite Red Sox pitchers.  He had so many great moments throughout his career.  This was one of a few near no-hitters he pitched.  Bonus, the picture is from Jackie Robinson Day.

13.  2016 Bowman Chrome Prospects Yoan Moncada.  I am still a little disappointed that Boston moved Moncada, but if Chris Sale can help them win a World Series, it will be worth it.  Just like Hanley Ramirez.

14.  2016 Stadium Club Nomar Garciaparra.  Nice action shot on Nomar here.

15.  2017 Bowman Mookie Betts.  Is this the year he will be the MVP?

16.  2017 Bowman Craig Kimbrel.  Kimbrel will be a free agent after this season.  It will be interesting to see what happens there.

17.  2017 Bowman Jackie Bradley Jr.  JBJ has been playing much better of late.

18.  2017 Bowman Chris Sale.  Sale's chances at winning the Cy Young Award have been diminished due to his time spent on the DL lately.  Hopefully he can come back strong.
19.  2017 Bowman Prospects Jason Groome.  Hopefully he will come back strong from his Tommy John surgery.  He has been the highest-rated draft pick Boston has picked in a long time.  But injuries have derailed his career.

20.  2017 Bowman Prospects Roniel Raudes.  Raudes has taken a big step backward this season unfortunately.

21.  2017 Stadium Club Drew Pomeranz.  Throwback jersey photo.  This is from the late 1970's teams.  Still one of my favorite uniforms.

22.  2017 Stadium Club Chris Sale.  Interesting photo here.

23.  2018 Bowman Prospects Travis Lakins.  I was disappointed to see that Lakins was not called up.  Boston could use some relief help and Lakins has been great this season in Pawtucket.

24.  2018 Bowman Prospects Chrome Travis Lakins.

25.  2017 Topps Chrome Update Mookie Betts.

The last two cards came from a separate trade:

26.  1974 Topps Dwight Evans.  This is Evans's second-year card.

27.  1958 Topps Billy Consolo.  It does not help my 1959 set, but I am thrilled with this Consolo card.  Consolo was signed to a big bonus, but never came close to reaching his potential.  Most of the reason for that was the rules with the high bonus players.  They had to be on the Major League roster for two years before they could be sent to the minors.  Many of the players were not close to ready for the Majors and so they rode the bench instead of playing and developing in the minors, which stunted their development. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Another Lin Roundup

Tzu-Wei Lin scored the winning run last night in the very important game against the Astros.  He came in as a pinch runner in place of J.D. Martinez, something I expect he may do regularly down the stretch, and then scored on the walkoff single by Mitch Moreland that was misplayed by the left-fielder.

And so, here are some more cards I have added of Tzu-Wei Lin.
1.  2017 Topps On Demand Mini Red.  Thus far this is the rarest card of Lin in my collection.  This card is serial-numbered to just five.  You can not really tell from the scan, but this is a mini card.
2.  2017 Panini Chronicles.  This is the base version.  I had three of the parallels (blue, green, and gold) before finally adding the base card.  I am still missing the base card from 2018 Topps Gypsy Queen.

These two came from the same seller:
3.  2017 Topps Update Gold.  Not much to say here.  The Topps Gold cards are a classic parallel.

4.  2017 Topps Update Negative.  Now, this one is interesting.  I was not even aware of this parallel before finding this seller that had these two cards.
5.  2018 Finest Autographs Green Wave Refractor.  Not much different than the Green Refractor, and even serial-numbered to 99 as well, but I still like this one better.
6.  2018 Topps Gypsy Queen Bazooka.  The front is the exact same as the base card, but here is the back:
I am now up to 35.  That's it for now.  There will be more to come.