Future Legends FTW


Every few sets Topps really hits a Grand Slam with their presentation. This season the Tribute and the Tier One were phenomenal; and this set is likely as good if not better than the Tributes with a slight edge if you a rookie or future star fan.

The borderless, slightly distressed background look with the photography choice is top notch, Walter Iooss would be proud. The minimized close up while in browse mode and intensity of each shot actually may make the card just that much better.

Topps decision to dedicate such a great looking set solely to future stars in my opinion makes this the must have set of the year.

Jose Fernandez
Dellin Betances
Marcos Stroman
Will Myers
Oscar Tevares
Jose Abreu

Just a portion of 15-card main set to pull and a 16th Jorge Soler bonus award card for collecting them all.

Sixteen astounding players all sure to be big names for the next 15-years in our National Pastime.


Player of the Week: PotW Cards


wpid-wp-1410026735093.pngPlayer of the Week Cards are great options for both players and collectors.

For collectors they offer a short run limited insert that can be part of a bigger set or collected for teams or favorite players.

These are one of the only inserts that benefit points players also because during their one week active rune the cards collect points at 3-times the active base score. A hitter or pitcher can easily score you over 500-plus points on a solid outing.

Both players will also benefit from the one week active 1,000 coin award.  The cards are regularly released on Monday afternoon based on MLB’s selection of the Player of the Week announcement.



Bill Buckner #TBT

wpid-wp-1409861248114.pngEach week Topps releases a #TBT or for the webcronym challenged, a Throwback Thursday card that features a classic card most of us had so many years ago.  Aside from a great card, the release gets you an award of 1000 coins and belongs to a collection of 30 inserts that will collect for an even grander prize.

This weeks release was a 1980 Topps Bill Buckner Chicago Cubs card (#135).  The 1980’s series was a fairly minimal design simply with a rounded yellow boarder and a pair of flags featuring the club and position of the player.  This particular release was more than just a throwback great, it was a twisted humor by the guys in the logistics room.

Buckner is a bit on the higher end of the count release at 1,986 copies. Why the odd release number you ask young fan?  For fans over 30 the answer is simple, poor Buckner booted a fairly routine grounder that happens every so often for a Major Leaguer, difference is Bill’s error came in Game 5 of the World Series with a 3-2 series lead over the Mets that may have cost them the title and an additional 24 years of waiting to raise their championship banner.

Thoughts on the new release?

Are you collecting the #TBTs?




Topps BUNT iOS and Android App: A new direction for Destination: October

mzl.vkwvymsw.175x175-75The speed of news on the internet is overwhelming for bloggers with a job. So by the time “Player A” is traded or news of “Player B’s” injury has spread and a blogger with a 9-to-5 is home so many opinions on an issue have spread that the want and meaningfulness of an armchair fans opinion on a topic is near useless.

But this isn’t a pity party or a call anyone to tell me they love my opinion on Martin Prado’s arrival in the Bronx. In all honesty I too would rather hear Peter Gammon’s professional take on the impact of a trade than a 39-year old baseball nerd’s opinion. Again, not self-loathing, just the truth.

Why am I writing this and what does it have to do with Topps?

I will tell you, there are literally 100 professional news websites (i.e. ESPN, SI, Yahoo!) to get box scores and thousands of fan created sources (Trade Rumors, Bleacher Report and Yardbarker) some as great as any elite source and some about as reliable as a train schedule. Judging by the click data, I am in the unreliable train schedule, such is life. But this is when you look at the data and find your niche. When I write about non-main stream topics like great baseball related songs or best sports movies I actually get heavy traffic.Why? Because in 2014 the New York Post has more to write about than how “Bull Durham” ranks against “Field of Dreams” or if “Glory Days” is better musically then “Tessie.”

I love writing left-field post about music and movies but you can’t live off media related sports, there is only so much space. During the off-season when you really miss baseball that is when you write about things that make you yearn the green grass and the musty smell of leather. I will also force my opinions on the season preview and playoffs down your throat, that is my passion. But for the immediate future I am going to rant, rave and review the semi-new, not so much, but only to Android users phone app Topps BUNT.

See my coming post about what BUNT is and why you can fill an entire blog about a phone app.


Prospect Watch: Yordano Ventura

Leagues are clearing out Yordano Ventura quick, in ESP this AM he was up to 64% and that is up 23% from his last start.  If he is out there and you can drop anyone for a pitcher this is the prospect you want.

Many leagues drafted Ventura, but because of a rain out the Royals coaching staff decided to skip Ventrua’s first start rather than push him back a day.  The reasoning likely has to do with an inning limit and they might as well get the most out of later starts as possible.  In any case, most leagues seen a drop in his roster percentages and educated managers hung on to him and took the 5 game lapse.

His 2 starts since have been anything but evidence he was worth the wait.  In his first start he tossed 6 innings in a no-decision, striking out 6 and walking none, allowing no runs against the Rays.  His second start this past week Ventura pitched 7 innings against the Astros in a win giving up only a HR to Omar Infante while striking out 8 and walking one batter.

His fastball can hit 3 digits and his late innings are high 90s so his velocity is always testing a batters reaction.  Aside from (maybe) Tyler Skaggs this is the best pitcher you don’t yet know.


Prospect Pickup: George Springer

If he is on your waiver wire and you have the space this kid is worth the pick up.  He is as big a prospect name as Byron Buxton and Archie Bradley, but expect him to make a huge impact immediately with all the playing time Houston has to spare.

As big as a defensive back and as fast as a wide receiver this kid wide receiver, this kid could be as great as Mike Trout if he can hit as good.

Don’t wait on his production or he will be gone.


I Have Never Seen Jackie Robinson Play Baseball

I have never seen Jackie Robinson play baseball, he died years before I was born.

I have seen a few highlights of his career but can only recall one clip I have ever seen of him playing baseball and it is probably the most well known clip, Jackie steals home against the Yankees in the World Series.  Robinson played 10 seasons in the Majors and I have probably seen less than 10 minutes of game footage.  That goes across the board for most players before my time, watching old footage unless it is part of a documentary is just not something I have a desire to sit down and watch, I prefer to read about old-time baseball.  As the man with the waxed mustache would say it has a certain je ne sais quoi. 

By the numbers baseball historians will tell you he was a tremendous player, he hit .311 stole about 200 bases and drove in 730 runs, winning an MVP, a batting title, the rookie of the year, 6 all-star selections and one World Series ring.

They will further say Jackie Robinson accepted an offer from Branch Rickey to join the Brooklyn Dodgers organization in 1946, and worked his way through the system to debut with the Dodgers the following year on April, 15 1947.

As a kid growing up I knew the name Jackie Robinson, but I really didn’t know much about the man until I started reading baseball history books in high school.  Many people enjoy Revolution history, WWII history and early settler history.  My hobby has always been as I like to call it train-era baseball when players spent hours together between stations.  Books began to tell a tale of heroics of a man I never seen play.

In 1997 Major League Baseball universally retired his number across baseball.  That same year Ken Griffey Jr. asked permission to wear number 42 on the anniversary of his first game to honor Robinson; in 2009 it became a tradition league wide.  And in 2013 one of the most amazing films not just about baseball, but in cinema history was released with Chadwick Boseman portraying Jackie Robinson wonderfully in 42.  I have seen more film of Boseman portraying Robinson than Robinson portraying himself on the field.

Today you will hear many African-American players admit that they owe their place on the field to Robinson.  In the past Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Ken Griffey Jr. to name a few have made statements that without the efforts of Robinson they probably would not be playing baseball.   Even Martin Luther King Jr. himself credits Jackie Robinson for his part in the civil rights movement just by playing baseball with the Dodgers in the late-1940’s.

Andrew McCutchen, Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, Starling Marte and Curtis Granderson are some of the players in baseball I really enjoy watching anytime they are on tv.  Rickey Henderson, Harold Reynolds, Tony Gwynn and Willie Randolph are just a few of the players I loved growing up.  I may not have seen much of Robinson on film, but every time I seen Rickey steal a base, every time McCutchen dives to make a catch, each time Jeter make a great play, when Gwynn chased .400 and Ortiz rip a ball over the monster I see Jackie play.

Thank you for making the journey, Jackie.

“I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me … all I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”  ~Jackie Robinson


Greatest Baseball Songs

I am going to catch some heat for this list, music is so subjective and listener based that nearly every list will be different for sure.  To lesssn some of that blow back my list is in random order as they came to the page.

Before anyone asks where “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is, I thought it would be best left in its own category along with songs like the “National Anthem” or “Amazing Grace” that are cultural treasures rather than a commercial song.

Centerfield by John Fogerty is a special song to baseball in my opinion, it’s not directed towards any one team or even a league of play, it is the desires of a every child and player who has ever held a ball in their hand, to just play the game.  Several legends receive their shout outs including one fictional character, but the song is not an homage as many in history have been.

Whenever I am watching Bull Durham or hearing it at a park the song never grows old, it makes me feel like playing.

Bill Lee by Warren Zevon is actually a horrible and quirky song, but like an ugly dog it is so bad it is good and like its namesake incredibly odd.  I honestly can not listen to it all that often but if there was ever a song that so perfectly reflected it’s message it is “Bill Lee.”

Paradise by the Dashboard Light by Meatloaf is not as traditional a baseball tune as any other on this list, in fact the song is not really about baseball, it is about two teens making out in a car on Lover’s Lane.  Once you throw in the baseball to add significance and description to their “doings” it becomes sort of a baseball song.  But when you use Phil Rizzuto to do the deed it is a damn great baseball song.  Probably the most mainstream style music on this list, you could hear “Dashboard” playing on most any passerby’s car with a different feeling in each listener.

Tessie by the Dropkick Murphys is sometime forgotten as a baseball song, not by Bostonians, but by Hardcore Punk fans who love the Dropkicks.  Even Sox fans sort of miss the meaning because most don’t understand Tessie is not some girl, “Tessie” is a Broadway tune that the Boston teams sang to the opposition to distract them in the early 1900’s.  The Dropkicks took that history and turned it into a tune about the Rooters who sang a tune.  Why Fenway plays “Sweet Caroline” in the 7th rather than “Tessie” is a mystery to me.

To the Veterans Committee by the Baseball Project is one of dozens of great songs from a supergroup formed of three REM members and two alternative rockers who have a long history in the genre.  All of their songs are about baseball as their band name suggests, but this one is extra-special for any fan of Dale Murphy and a rallying cry to plead his case as a forgotten member of the Hall of Fame.  They also have a great tune titled, “13” that calls out specifically one PED user, but really is a message to all.

I could run this list all day long.  What are your favorite tunes?


The Rivalry Resumes

Every sport has a marquee game that can get the whole nation to tune in.  The NFL has the Packers and Bears, College Ball has Duke and UNC, NCAA football has Michigan and Ohio St and the NBA has Celtics and Lakers when the teams are competitive.

Baseball has the Yankees and Red Sox.

Is there a better rivalry in sports?  No.  Absolutely not.

19-games a year, also 11% of the schedule for two teams that share a division. 19-games can decide a division that is usually decided by far less.  19-games that mean everything for two great cities.

I root for one team and live in the other city.  I married a woman who roots for the other team.  These games mean everything to this household, but it a very good way.

For the next four days baseball is at near a World Series level.

Watch, enjoy, repeat.

Focusing on the Playoffs everyday of the year.


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