Quick Hits

For my first post of the year, a random assortment of items to get off my plate:

Congratulations to Pedro Martinez for replacing Mike Schmidt as the most recent former Phillie to make the Hall of Fame. That means the Phillies went a little over 20 years (early 1989 through late 2009) between fielding Hall of Famers. As John Stolnis recently pointed out over on The Good Phight, it’s2010 UD Bio Martinez hard to get into the Hall of Fame, and if any of the Hamels-Rollins-Utley-Howard-Lee Phillies core (Stolnis excludes Halladay from that group) during that awesome 2007-2011 run are going to gain entrance into the Hall, then it’s going to take a at least a few more years of excellence….

Pedro’s limited run with the Phillies resulted in a far fewer Phillies cards than you might think. I show only 32 cards in my database, but when you filter out the parallels and printing plates, the number drops to a mere 16. Furthermore, you filter out the cards where he’s pictured with either the Red Sox or Mets (but still denoted as a Phillie), the number drops to 11. What’s really astounding is that he didn’t appear in any of the Topps’s 2010 sets or the 2010 Upper Deck set (though he did appear on a few inserts for 2010 Upper Deck.) By way of comparison, my Phillies1993 Pacific Schilling collection contains 18 different 2014 Roy Halladay cards, and I own almost none of the more expensive/limited parallels or inserts….

I feel like I should briefly note that I thoroughly believe Curt Schilling is a no-brainer Hall of Famer and have every expectation that he will eventually get into Hall, which will retroactively mitigate that 1989-2009 gap. However, I really do think that sometimes he would really be much, much better off just keeping his mouth shut. Lost votes for being an outspoken Republican? There are so many things wrong with such an assertion that I don’t know where to begin….

Final thought regarding this year’s Hall of Fame voting: thank goodness that Chris Olds at Beckett doesn’t get a vote….

Circling back to The Good Phight, dajafi’s “The All-‘Wait, That Guy Was a Phillie?’ Team” struck me as both far too limited in its scope and included a head-scratcher. Its requirements, which included that the individual had to be on an opening day 1996 Donruss Van Slykelineup during the 1991-2014 period, meant the exclusion of Andy Van Slyke and Fernando Valenzuela — both of whom are far more deserving of inclusion than a few of the individuals who were included. In particular, Dale Murphy — who was actually with the club for over two seasons, which is far too long for such a list — had no right appearing on it. It would’ve been much more fulfilling if he had done a little research, expanded the timeframe, and included such luminaries as Hack Wilson, who I covered in the early days of this blog, Lew Burdette, who never received a Phillies card for his efforts, Dick Groat, and, yes, Michael Young (though he’s fresh in our memories, in 15 years his stint will be remembered as well as Andy Van Slyke’s)….

Finally, Slate coincidentally ran an article on the Topps Bunt app a few days after my post about it. Just thought it was worth mentioning.

Topps Bunt

Maybe it’s just a product of my age, but I’m not entirely sold on Topps Bunt. I setup an account earlier this year, and I’ve attempted to remember logging in on a daily basis so that I don’t actually spend any money on the cards. Over that time, I’ve picked up a few things that look interesting, but nothing worth mentioning. For the most 2014 Topps Bunt Luzinskipart, I just let my son run wild with my account and allowed him to make any trades he wanted between my account and his — so long as he didn’t deprive me of any of the Phillies I managed to pick up.

That changed a little bit this morning when I got a Greg Luzinski 1980 World Series card. I like the look of it, but even after taking a screenshot of my phone and then emailing myself the photo, it just doesn’t feel the same as owning cards produced from dead trees. I know I was nowhere near as excited about the Luzinski card as if I would’ve been if I pulled it out of a pack of physical cards. I understand that Topps is doing quite well with the app, but I just don’t see myself attempting to compile a digital Phillies collection with it — especially if they continue predominantly make digital duplicates of the physical Topps cards, as was the case with this year’s offering. I’m aware that the 2013 set did in fact look different — if Topps did something similar with next year’s offering, I might muster more interest. Until then, meh.

That Special Time of Year, Again

It’s the middle of December, which can only mean one thing: this year’s Leaf Memories Autograph Buybacks are now appearing on eBay. Unlike last year’s offering, which included eight different Phillies on a total of twelve different cards, it appears that this year’s offering is much more like the 2012 Leaf Buybacks in that there’s only two Phillies to chase. 2014 Leaf Auto GrimsleyIt’s hard to be certain as Leaf did not issue checklist for these particular cards. As was also the case with the 2012 autographs, Roger McDowell is one of the two Phillies available; thus leaving Jason Grimsley as this year’s only recipient of his first Phillies autograph issue.

Depending on how you choose to look at it, the decision to issue another McDowell autograph card be either a positive or a negative. Because the cards are serial-numbered to the player’s uniform number, McDowell signed only 13 of each card in each year. Furthermore, this year’s Buyback is of his 1991 Leaf card and the 2012 Buyback was of his 1990 Leaf card, so completists such as myself can own two different autograph issues for McDowell. Given the limited pool, this gives a few more Phillies team collectors an extra chance to grab a certified autograph for him. However, there are plenty of Phillies who appeared on Leaf issues over the years who still haven’t appeared on a certified autograph issue, and it really would’ve been nice to see such a card for the likes of Bruce Ruffin, Pat Combs, Tommy Greene, Dave Hollins, Andy Ashby, Kim Batiste, Kyle Abbott, Mariano Duncan, or even Ruben Amaro, Jr (just to name players who appeared 2014 Leaf Auto McDowellon the 1990-1992 sets, which is where Leaf concentrates its efforts with these particular cards.) I especially love the idea of an Amaro autograph given how much he’s now despised by the fan base for the current state of the franchise.

Nonetheless, I still love the cards — especially since Leaf seems to continue issuing autographs for players that Topps typically ignores, while eschewing stickers and having the players sign the cards directly. Along similar lines, I know Panini has announced plans to resurrect Recollection Collection autographs for next year’s Donruss offerring(s), but given the team’s playoff chances next season, I know I should expect few, if any, Phillies to appear. However, I can always hold out hope that Panini might just decide issue a Dick Ruthven, Marty Bystrom, Larry Christensen, Luis Aguayo, or Al Holland autographed buyback card. That would be awesome.

Thank You, Jimmy, For Everything

I didn’t think it was still possible for the trade of a baseball player to make me sad, but there it is. I know the team is going through a rebuild, but I was really hoping he’d be a lifetime Phillie. Hopefully, he puts up enough numbers over the rest of career to ensure his path to Cooperstown and maybe even gets one more World Series ring before he’s done.

More later sometime later this week.

2014 Topps Museum Jumbo Rollins

2008 Topps 07 HL Rollins Auto2014 Topps SV Relic Rollins

2008 Triple Threads Auto Relic Rollins

Fingers Crossed for Allen

2009 Goodwin Champs Auto AllenLater today, the Veterans Committee announces its results on the Golden Era ballot. Throughout the day, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for Dick Allen in the hopes that he gets his long overdue induction this year, thus allowing the Phillies to retire #15 in his honor. I won’t attempt to make the case as to why he should be in there as there are many others who have already made the argument (my personal favorite has to be the extensive two-part, 24-page writeup by the Chicago Baseball Museum.) Yes, I am biased because of my life-long Phillies fandom, but there really is no good reason why Allen shouldn’t already have a plaque in Cooperstown — Bill James’s infamous verdict on Allen be damned.

From a baseball card collector standpoint, it really is amazing just how much Allen has been neglected by the card manufacturers in their offerings over the past 15 years. As a result, by my count Allen appears as a Phillie on approximately 180 cards over his entire career. The number of unique Allen cards is actually much smaller when you eliminate parallels, reprints, buybacks, and printing plates (for those who are interested, I have posted an extract of all the Dick Allen cards in the Phillies Database.) Furthermore, while Topps and Panini continue to occasionally issue cards for players like John Kruk and Darren Daulton continue to occasionally appear, Allen’s last appearance in a mainstream set happened back in 2009 — his last Topps issue came in 2004. A Hall induction may very well change that, though I’m certain that thanks to his time with the White Sox, any new cards won’t necessarily all be depicting him with the Phillies.

As for my own collection:2001 American Pie Allen

Total cards: 46
“Unique” cards: 45
Solo cards: 35
Solo autograph-only cards: 6
Solo relic-only cards: 1
Multiplayer cards, Phillies only: 5
Multiplayer cards, with other teams: 0 Multiplayer autograph-only cards: 1
Professionally graded cards: 3
Want Listed: 2

Because of my aversion to multi-team cards, I don’t have any of the many league leader cards featuring Allen during the 1960s. However, I recently want-listed the 1975 Topps Home Run Leaders-1974 card he shares with Mike Schmidt. The only other item I desperately want to add to my collection is Allen’s 2004 Topps Bazooka One-Liners Relics card. If anyone out there has one available for trade, please let me know and we’ll see what kind of trade we can work out.

2013 Topps Supreme Triple Autographs #TA-HRY; Halladay, Ruiz, &… Young?

There are very few cards that reach “must have” status for my collection. Most of them, such as the Richie Ashburn rookie card, in my opinion are just prerequisites for any serious Phillies team collector. However, every once in a very rare while, I just see a card and decide that I absolutely must have it. It’s almost always an emotional response — there’s no reason or logic as to why I need that card. But, I suspect on some level that’s true in varying degrees to what a lot of us collect. It’s just that some impulses are ridiculously stronger than others.

With that in mind, I bring 2013 Topps Supreme Triple Auto Philsyou the 2013 Topps Supreme Triple Autographs card of Roy Halladay, Carlos Ruiz, and Michael Young.

At the beginning of the year, I posted about the head-scratcher that was the 2013 Panini America’s Pastime Hitters Ink John Kruk & Carlos Ruiz card. I reference it now because it seems to me that it’s the only Phillies-only multiple autograph card issued thus far that makes less sense than this card (though, the 2013 Topps Archives Triple Autograph of Larry Bowa, Darren Daulton, & Juan Samuel is certainly in the running). I’m being a little unfair with that statement — after all, each of these three were members of the 2013 Phillies. However, I just can’t imagine any Phillies fans picking Young when asked which other team member they associate with Halladay and Ruiz.

Another fascinating thing about this card is that the autograph stickers represent the disconnect; Ruiz’s and Halladay’s are clear on top of a gold foil background while the Young sticker has a silver foil backing. The scan of the card doesn’t do justice to how badly the silver foil wrecks the overall appearance of the card. For a premium product, it looks juvenilely slap-dash. Yet, Topps clearly had Michael Young stickers lying around that needed to be used; hence this monstrosity.

2013 Topps Supreme Triple Auto Phils BackHere’s the real kicker about this card: it’s the only certified autograph card of Michael Young picturing and denoting him with the Phillies, and Topps only made 10 of it. The fact that 2013 Topps Supreme was (in theory) released only in Asia means that this is even harder to find in the US than the print run suggests. One day I plan to write a short series on the Phillies with the smallest number of certified autograph cards available, and I’m pretty certain that Michael Young will top the list.

Even though I try to make sure that I grab as many certified Phillies autographs as I can, Young’s presence still doesn’t fully explain my irrational need for this card. It’s ugly and reeks of Topps trying to make sure that they weren’t stuck with unused old autograph stickers for Young. Of all the cards with a print run of 10 or less in my collection, this is easily my least favorite. Yet, I’m still happy to have it.

The Foxx Philly Flip

2014 Classics FoxxI grok why many collectors recoil from the Panini issues. I know I don’t care for the conspicuous absence of MLB logos and names on the cards. But, while I have grown to harbor some serious issues with Panini over the past few months (a rant for another time), they have nonetheless managed to put out some decent looking cards despite the restraints of lacking a license from MLB. In fact, I am somewhat perversely thankful for what they’re doing because it allows me to add numerous Jimmie Foxx cards to my collection.

Now, I know that his “Philadelphia” cards are certainly meant to be Athletics cards, not Phillies cards. However, he did end his career with the Phillies, and the airbrushing away of MLB insignia means that you can easily flip the team designation on any of these cards. It’s been great because before this year, 2010 Topps NC Foxxonly one mainstream card release pictured and denoted Foxx as a member of the Phillies.* Even that card, his short-printed 2010 Topps National Chicle, only exists because it was a part of an “alternate uniform” subset (at least the fact he played with the Phillies for one year meant the card made some kind of sense, unlike the Ryan Howard A’s card.)

Anyway, I am taking as much advantage of this as I can. Panini, bring on as many Foxx “Philadelphia” cards as you want, and while I may not add all of them to my collection, I will certainly chase after many of them. Oh, and please make a few Chief Bender “Philadelphia” cards while you’re at it. I’d love to have a few more to go along with his 1960 Fleer card.

*It’s not like pictures from his season with the Phillies don’t exist. In fact, his 2002 Upper Deck World Series Heroes card inexplicably bears a Phillies photo on a card commemorating his exploits in the 1929 World Series, when he was a member of the Athletics.