Monday, November 22, 2021

2020 Topps Heritage High Numbers Hobby Box

Last winter I grabbed a hobby box of 2020 Topps Heritage High Numbers at the LCS in my hometown.  It was the only time I was able to add any High Numbers.  Like Update, this is supposed to be a set devoted to showing players in new uniforms.

Here are the results:

1.  Andrew Cashner.  And we immediately start things off kind of weird.  Cashner was Boston's big trade deadline pickup in 2019, but he was a free agent after the season.  He did not hook on with another team and has not pitched since 2019.  So yeah, no idea why he is here.

2.  Collin McHugh.  McHugh signed on with the Red Sox late in the offseason, then sat out the entire year recovering from surgery.  He pitched for the Rays in 2021.  This is a zero year card as he never pitched an inning with Boston.  I'm glad he shows up on a card.  Just surprised.

3.  Collin McHugh.  This is the purple refractor.

4.  Alex Verdugo.  This is better.  Verdugo was new to Boston in 2020 and arrived late enough that he was not able to appear in the base set.  This is also a purple refractor.

5.  Mitch Moreland.  Moreland came into the season as the starting first-baseman.  I do not know why he was not in the base set.  Also, Moreland was traded during the season to the Padres, so I really do not know why he is shown with the Red Sox.

6.  Jonathan Lucroy.  Lucroy was kind of the story of Spring Training for awhile, then made it into one game as a late defensive replacement...and that was it.  He never even had an at-bat with Boston.  Like McHugh, I am thrilled he made it onto some cards, but it is kind of odd.

7.  Kevin Pillar.  Pillar, like Moreland, was traded midseason.  Now Pillar was new to the team in 2020, so his appearance here is warranted, though he probably should have been shown with the Rockies.  Again, this is less of an issue.

So, who could have been in the set?  How about: Jose Peraza, Martin Perez, Chris Mazza, Phillips Valdez or Matt Hall?  Not the most interesting names, I know, but they all played much more than Cashner, McHugh and Lucroy for the Red Sox in 2020.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Panini National Treasures Triple Legend Trio

I have mentioned before my aversion to those folding cards.  There is no real good way to display them.  I do make exceptions in rare situations though, and that is typically based on the player.  The only one I had previously is an Al Simmons card, which represents the only Red Sox card I have yet seen of "Bucketfoot".  Until now.

So, who is in this card that I had to add it?  Well, let's look panel by panel to find out.

Well, first up we have Harry Hooper.  Hooper is a Hall of Famer from the Deadball Era that played for the Red Sox from 1909 through 1920.  There are three bat pieces here.  Now, Hooper is a nice get here, but I do have a number of cards of him in my collection.  This is the first relic card of him though, so there is that.  Still, as great as it is to add a relic card of this Hall of Famer, Hooper is not the primary reason I bought this card.

The second panel is Walter Alston.  Now, Alston is a Hall of Famer, known for managing the Dodgers from 1954 to 1976.  Under his leadership, the Dodgers won four World Championships.  I am not really sure why this has him listed with Brooklyn, he was helming the Dodgers for far longer in Los Angeles.  Obviously this cannot be the reason I bought this card.  I have no real desire to have Dodgers cards.  It must be something else...

...and here it is.  This is Elston Howard, who was with the Red Sox during the last two seasons of his career after spending much of his career with the Yankees.  With the Yankees, he was the A.L. MVP in 1963 and was a member of a few World Championship teams.  He did very little with Boston, but was the starting catcher during the Impossible Dream World Series.  Howard has very few cards with the Red Sox.  Just his 1968 card, a few reprints/reproductions, and a couple of oddballs.  I never thought I would see a relic.  So, despite the lack of a Major League license, I had to add this card.

So, there is one question about this card.  Why these three?  I have no clue.  There are two players from Boston and a manager from Brooklyn.  Howard was active while Alston was a manager, but never played for him, and Hooper's career was over thirty years before Alston became a manager.  Alston did play, but only one year and not with Hooper.  Hooper and Alston are Hall of Famers, but Howard is not.  It's baffling.  I have no clue why these three are together on this card.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

More 2020 Topps Update Pulls

As I said before, I always await Topps Update.  The next scan though will show some issues with the set that fail to really grab my attention.


1.  Alex Verdugo.  Okay, nothing really wrong with the first card.  Verdugo was acquired pretty late in the offseason in 2020.  The Mookie Betts trade was finalized just prior to Spring Training, so it is not THAT surprising that this was the first opportunity to include Verdugo in his Red Sox uniform in a basic Topps set.

2.  Pedro Martinez AS.  Since there was no All Star Game in 2020, Topps elected to use prior All Star Games in its base set.  This was kind of dumb, and pointless.  Just a way to get a bunch of star players into the set.

3.  Chris Sale.  This is an Active Leaders card.  Another way to include random star players into the set, instead of the players in their new uniforms and rookies that we all want in Update.

4.  David Ortiz.  This is a Home Run Derby card.  Ortiz won it several years ago.  See the above two explanations.

5.  Mookie Betts/Gleyber Torres.  What?

6.  David Ortiz Foil.  Here is a parallel of the Home Run Derby card.

7.  Brian Johnson.  For reasons I never quite understood, Johnson never pitched for Boston in 2020.  The team had pitching problems and Johnson had at least been a steady pitcher in the past.  It is bizarre that he appeared in this set because he never appeared for Boston that year.

8.  Mitch Moreland.  And the other problem.  Moreland should not have been in Update.  Certainly not with Boston.  Moreland was Boston's starting first-baseman coming into the year and had been with the team since 2017.  He was actually traded to the Padres during the season.  So if Topps was going to include a card of Moreland in Update, he should have been with the Padres.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Turn Back the Clock to 2013

I had this t-shirt.  I have no idea what happened to it.  Here we are looking back to 2013 when David Ortiz was named the World Series MVP.  Ortiz was on a different planet that Series.  Always known for his ability to hit in the clutch, Ortiz took it to a new level that year.  And that is not even counting his game-tying grand slam in the eighth inning of Game 2 of the ALCS.

Ortiz hit .688/.760/1.188 with two home runs and six RBIs.  He notched eleven hits with two doubles and seven runs scored, and walked eight times.  He struck out once.  Yes, once.  In 25 plate appearances.  The Cardinals simply could not get him out.  

A friend of mine, who is a huge Yankees fan, often tells me the greatest hitting performance he has ever seen was Ortiz in the 2013 World Series.  It's hard to disagree.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Photoshop Failure

Today, I am showing off an Independence Day parallel of Martin Perez from last year.  Now, I really liked Perez last year, and he had some moments this year.  He is a bit too inconsistent to be a reliable starting pitcher for long, but he's decent enough most of the time. 

I do want to direct attention to the obvious photoshop job here though.  Perez pitched for the Twins in 2019 and he is likely wearing a Twins uniform here.  The biggest giveaway here is the cap.  I have no idea why Topps photoshops the Red Sox logo with the two socks on the cap.  As far as I am aware, the team has NEVER worn a cap with this logo on it.  They always wear a "B" on the cap.  I have seen this on numerous cards over the years and it is always baffling.

Monday, November 15, 2021

R.I.P. Julio Lugo


Today, it was learned that Julio Lugo passed away in his native Dominican Republic.  Lugo was just 45 years old.  A shame, he was way too young.

Lugo was a member of the 2007 World Championship team.  He was signed prior to the season to be the team's starting shortstop, replacing Alex Gonzalez.  Lugo was a more offensive-minded player with some impressive speed.  Unfortunately, he did not really play that well throughout his time in Boston.  Over three seasons, Lugo hit .251/.319/.346 with ten home runs, 103 RBIs and 48 stolen bases.

2007 was the only season Lugo was a regular with Boston.  That year, he hit .237/.294/.349 with eight home runs, 71 runs scored, 36 doubles, 73 RBIs and a team-leading 33 stolen bases.  He ended the season on a bright note though, hitting .385 in the World Series.  He was mostly injury-prone the next two seasons, and was ultimately traded to the Cardinals in 2009 for Chris Duncan.

2020 Topps Update Pack Breaks

I always look forward to Topps Update.  The player selection is the key to the set for me.  Topps often includes more obscure players in Update, much moreso than in any other set, with the exception of the potentially now-defunct Total.  This is from last year's set as I am still trying to catch up. 

1.  Xander Bogaerts/Rafael Devers.  This is one way Topps has been including star players in Update.  Which is fine I guess.  This card features the top two stars on the team.

2.  Josh Taylor.  Taylor emerged this year as a very important member of the bullpen, but he barely pitched in 2020 as he struggled with COVID.  Taylor pitched in eight games in 2020, throwing 7.1 innings with an unsightly 9.82 ERA.  He was much better in 2021.

3.  Ryan Weber.  Weber was a big story in Spring Training in 2020, but the success did not really follow into the season.  He pitched in 17 games, starting five, primarily as an opener.  He had a record of 1-3 with a 4.40 ERA, striking out 27 and walking 14 in 43 innings.  He made it into one game in 2021, but also pitched for the Mariners and Brewers.

4.  Kevin Plawecki.  The backup catcher was named my Underrated Player of the Year.  He hit .341/.393/.463, with one home run, a triple, and five doubles.  He drove in 17 runs.  Great numbers for a backup catcher.  Plawecki is still with Boston to date and continues to play well for a backup catcher.

5.  Jose Peraza.  Peraza was signed to solidify second base in 2020, being one of the few Red Sox players with some speed.  Unfortunately, that did not really work out.  Peraza played in 34 games, hitting .225/.275/.342 with one home run, eight RBIs and just one stolen base.  He was allowed to leave as a free agent after the season.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

More Wantlist Stuff

To date, this is the last trade I have made on the forums.  One of these days I need to update my tradelist and get back out there.  This is pretty base-heavy, but I don't mind deals like this if it knocks off cards from my wantlist.  As I recall, this finished off at least a few team sets.  

The first thing that probably jumps out is the number of star players here, particularly Nomar Garciaparra.  There is a pretty good reason for that.  I kind of get bored getting the same players all the time, even if they are favorites of mine.  So I tend to target fewer cards of them, particularly the base cards.  The last Nomar by the way is an insert reprint, not the 1998 Topps base card.  

Most of these cards I just missed.  The Andrew Cashner is the Vintage Stock parallel, and is probably the most interesting card of the bunch.

It is becoming harder and harder to complete team sets.  Cards are in short supply in stores and I have very little time to make trades online or go to the card shop in my hometown, since I rarely go back there anymore.  There are no shops where I am located.  Lately I have been buying case breaks of the Red Sox online.  That has helped somewhat, but is often more expensive than they should be.  I guess the other alternative would be to just buy the team set and whatever inserts, but that is not nearly as much fun.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Random Insert Package

 I am pretty sure this package came from a trade done on the forums.  

For the most part, these are just some basic insert cards, primarily superstars and Hall of Famers (I do think Terry Francona will be in the Hall of Fame some day).  Andrew Benintendi makes an appearance from the Turkey Red insert set though.  It is hard to believe now, but he looked like an upcoming superstar after his 2017 rookie season.  It's been pretty much all downhill from there though.  

The key to this trade for me was the Ted Williams card.  This is the All-Time Diamond Kings insert.  Panini took the Diamond King concept a step further and picked one player for each team's history.  Some of the choices were a little surprising (Mel Ott over Willie Mays?  Nolan Ryan for the Rangers?), but they definitely did the Red Sox right.  Really, who else could it be than Ted Williams?  I might cover this set in a future Diamond Kings roundup.  There are enough off-the-wall choices to make that worthwhile.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

I Miss Topps Total (Sort Of)

Topps Total was one of my favorite sets in the early 2000's.  In a time of small, star-driven sets, Total was an absolute behemoth.  Each team had something like 30 cards.  Player selection was the key, though it also featured a lot of rookies and prospects.  Still, without Topps Total, I would not have cards of Red Sox legends like Joe Oliver, Ramon Vazquez, Blaine Neal and Austin Brice.  

Topps did not bring Total back this year, and a large part of that is likely due to the rather bizarre nature of the set since bringing it back in 2019.  10 card packs were only available online for the outrageous price of $10.00.  That simply was not going to be a good buy, no matter what.  So, I always just picked up the singles I wanted.  

Which brings me to today's post.  These are two of the more obscure players to appear for the Red Sox: 

1.  Josh Osich.  Osich was one of the very first transactions Chaim Bloom made after he was claimed off waivers from the White Sox shortly after the 2019 World Series.  The southpaw reliever put up some decent numbers, striking out 20 batters while walking five in just 15.2 innings in the 2020 season.  He had a 1-1 record and a 5.74 ERA before being traded to the Cubs for pitching prospect Zach Bryant.  This is going to be the only card of Osich with the Red Sox.

2.  Ryan Weber.  Weber was with the Red Sox from 2019 into this season.  In 36 games during that three-year stint, he had a record of 3-7 with a 5.54 ERA.  He started eight games, primarily as an opener.  In 89.1 innings pitched, he struck out 63 while walking 24.  Weber was released by Boston earlier this summer and made appearances with the Brewers and Mariners.