Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Drawing Parallels Where They Don't Belong

Night Owl recently sent me a package that contained a smattering of different cards that checked a whole bunch of boxes off in my collection. He hit some wants lists, threw a couple Julio's at me, and even sent me a couple of Braves pitchers. I've been sitting on the below scans for a week or so trying to be a bit creative with them... to no avail. I decided to take these an entirely different direction.

Friday, I put up my first of many contests based around the upcoming Allen & Ginter release. The contest involves joining a fantasy World Cup pick-em. If you're at all interested in the upcoming World Cup, you should join! It'll be a fun way to follow it even if you don't win. Plus! FREE CARDS!

If you're looking to join, here's the link and code required to join Bubba's Bangin' World Cup Pick'em! Note that this shindig starts tomorrow, so you should hop in ASAP!

Code: 1552729-75428

Here, I'll even help you out! Five-Thirty-Eight just released their World Cup Projections complete with a fun interactive tool.

Along those lines, I decided to relate each of these ten cards that Greg sent me to a World Cup team. Hooray for shameless self-promotion!

France

Born 8/13/1997, Kolby is the youngest of the players Greg sent me. France just happens to have one of the youngest rosters at this year's World Cup (second only to Nigeria). Their youngsters are lead by phenom Kylian Mbappe, yet looked quite questionable in a friendly against the USA last week.

Serbia

Did you know Aaron Harang was 6'7"? That seems incredible to me. In any case, Serbia just happens to have the tallest average squad at this year's World Cup coming in at 73.5" or 6' 1.5" which is quite tall for a soccer player. In fact, former captain, and one of the more iconic Serbians, Branislav Ivanovic measures in at 6'1" which means there must be a bunch of other Serbians much taller.

Costa Rica

This Ginter mini was a set need for me and also happened to be the oldest person contained in Night Owl's package. The oldest squad designation belong to Costa Rica (just shy of 30 years). They sure look like a bunch of old farts up there.

Colombia

The hidden gem of this package was definitely this 2016 Heritage short print. Scherzer has always seemed like a hidden gem of a player as well.  He's been such a great pitcher for so long (he'll be going to his 6th consecutive All-Star game this year), but his team hasn't won anything.

James Rodriguez (and Colombia in general) is probably the best example of this type of hidden gem in the soccer world. If you don't follow soccer, this guy is probably the best player you've never heard of.

Peru

Meanwhile, Shae Simmons and Peru own the honor of being the shortest player and team on this post. Shae is 5'11" while Peru averages 69.9" or 5' 9.9". I'm sure that little girl really helps keeps the average height of this team nice and low.

Portugal

I found it somewhat surprising that Greg somehow did not send me a single player that has a World Series ring. Obviously, the Braves haven't won in awhile, but other stars like Trout, Votto and Mattingly (quite famously in fact) have never seen a ring. Soria has the interesting distinction of having started his career in Kansas City, left before they won the World Series in 2015 and then came back to KC the year after. Feels bad man.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal are the current holder of the UEFA EURO (probably the biggest international soccer competition outside of the World Cup, and they're looking to duplicate that performance this year.

Argentina

This comparison was simple. The best baseball player and the best soccer player. The end. Good luck Argentina.

Brazil

My favorite card of the package award goes to this new deckle-edge insert from 2018 Heritage featuring Joey Votto. I loved that Topps attempted to bring these back and I feel like they did a half decent job at it.

Meanwhile, Neymar and Brazil enter the 2018 FIFA World Cup as the odds-on favorite to win it all. I certainly hope they don't pull it off as I don't think it would make for a very entertaining World Cup, but oh well.

Switzerland

The last two cards of the package feature what was my favorite player over the last few years (though he's slowly being eclipsed by Sean Newcomb). Xherdan Shaqiri won over my heart with his play in the World Cup in 2014 and his absolutely stunning goal in the 2016 UEFA EURO. It's easy for me to follow him as well as he plays for Stoke City in the Premier League.

Belgium

Finally, my favorite current soccer player is easily Manchester City star and Belgian international Kevin de Bruyne. Both Belgium and Switzerland have become my two de-facto favorite squads for this competition since the USA was incapable of qualifying. Belgium as a whole is also absolutely loaded and can easily challenge all the top teams on any given day. It should be interesting to see which side of Belgium we see in Russia this year.

Thanks so much for the cards Greg and I hope everyone enjoys the World Cup!

Friday, June 8, 2018

2018 Contest of Gintery Goodness is Starting Early! 2018 FIFA World Cup Edition!

Every year since I started blogging I've hosted a rather large contest centered around the release of Allen & Ginter which typically releases mid to late July. This year's release date is currently set for July 18th. While I clearly haven't been blogging a ton this year, I do want to continue this tradition I've set for myself and get some free cards out to all my blog-readers!


If you've never been a part of these contests, here's a link to how they've worked in the past (2015, 2016, and 2017).  You can expect similar prizes and a number of different contests in the coming month or two featured on this blog.

We're starting a bit early this year because the first of many ways to enter is going to be centered around this year's FIFA World Cup and the deadline is fast approaching!  I'm taking a page out of Kerry's contests from over the year's and we're all going to play match predictor.

Soccer has fairly recently become my second favorite sport to watch and I get especially excited for major international competitions along with big Premier League or Champions League matches. Even though the USA didn't qualify, this year's World Cup is no exception. I'm particularly excited to watch Belgium, Argentina, and Iceland (yes... I've succumbed to the thunder-clap bandwagon).


Here's the link to ESPNFC's match predictor that awards points based on picking the correct results as well as bonus points for answering two random questions about each game (i.e. Will Messi have 0-1 goals this game or will he have 2+ goals this game?).  ...and yes, the only pre-qualification for this contest is that you have an ESPN.com account. They're super easy to set up if you don't.

http://fcpredictor.espn.com/us/userhome.do

League Code: 1552729-75428

The winner will simply be the individual who finishes with the most points! Good luck!


Saturday, June 2, 2018

Red Sox vs. Braves

This past weekend I was able to take some time off of work and spend some time with friends up in Boston. A while back I had received Red Sox - Braves tickets for my birthday for the game this past Sunday. Living in Connecticut obviously puts me pretty far removed from my favorite baseball team, so I get pretty excited whenever the Braves meander on up to New England.

Heading into Sunday, the Braves had lost the first two games to the BoSox and needed some redemption. We happily got it on the backs of Mike Foltynewicz and Tyler Flowers. Weeks before the game, I found myself trying to project starting rotations to see if either of my favorite pitchers would be on the hill for the afternoon. Twas not to be, but I did end up seeing two of the hardest throwing starters in all of baseball which was pretty cool (Folty and Sale).

We hung around a while after the game and took this picture right before we left. I promise, the stadium felt pretty near capacity for most of the game.


One of the other pitchers I was looking forward to possibly seeing in action was former Braves closer Craig Kimbrel. I suppose its a good thing that I didn't see him pitch, as it meant that the Braves had a nice comfortable lead. I always enjoyed watch Kimbrel pitch while he was in Atlanta, and I was quite sad when he left us four years ago.  After he left, I actually thought we got a bargain letting him go as he immediately seemed to regress and posted pretty average numbers with San Diego and his first year with Boston.  However, last year Kimbrel took off again posting a 1.43 ERA over 69 innings.

In fact, just the other week Kimbrel became the fastest pitcher to reach 300 saves, in terms of appearances, save opportunities, and age, distinctions formerly belonging to Mariano Rivera (537 G), Joe Nathan (335 SVO), and Francisco Rodriguez (31 years old).  That's some pretty sweet company he just beat out.

It's only fitting that I get to show off this card, courtesy Chris of Nachos Grande.


WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I've always wanted a Kimbrel auto and this fits the bill quite nicely. Sure, there could be improvements... he could be in his classic 'Kimbrel stance,' or wearing a Braves uniform, but I am more than happy with this pickup. 


Chris also included a few other cards from his dual box break of this years Gypsy Queen. I'd say that it's probably a slight improvement in design from years past, but the set still doesn't seem to have found its 'niche' yet. The entire set could disappear and I don't think it would be missed by many collectors out there.


The rest of these cards are actually from a previous care package Chris had sent me from the remains of his 2017 Allen & Ginter set build.


Quite a few minis were included along with this very blue Gardener Dude that you simply have to adore.  Old dude gardening in a white suit seems... questionable at best.


More minis of a bunch of stars!



Some obnoxious horizontal minis that only fit one per line on the blog and don't like binders.



...and lastly a trio of Braves minis not for the set-build but rather for the PC.  All appreciated!

Chris also has recently had some awesome news in the past week as his family just got one person bigger with the recent announcement of a newborn! Congrats Chris and thanks so much for all these cards!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

A Trio of Triple Threads, Multiple Maddux, and a Smattering of Smoltz

One of my favorite reads can always be found over at A Cracked Bat, run by Tigers fan Julie. She has a knack for coming randomly out of the woodwork with a nifty, thought-provoking post about the hobby, life in general, or whatever happens to be on her mind. Her most recent post features one of the most creatively run contests I've ever seen in the blogging community. Heck, it masquerades as post without a contest at all! 

The premise is that she's getting rid of extra cards of specific players and making people guess whether the cards in the giveaway are Dupes, Dumps, or Dwindles. I love it! Wonderful usage of alliteration is something we've always appreciated here at Bubba's Bangin' Batch of Baseball Bits.


I'm not bringing up Julie just because of her recent post however. She blessed me with a package of cards a while back and I wanted to show them off.  She managed to send me base cards from four different sets that I had never seen before outside of the digital world.

2001 Topps Gallery: This Andruw Jones was the lone card I received from this set, and I kinda like it. I've always enjoyed artist's renditions and tend to like them over actual photos (outside of something like Stadium Club which attempts to capture more than just the player). It's also why I think '53 Topps would be my vintage set of choice if I were to ever go down that rabbit hole. I did notice that Topps resurrected this brand late last year in what was a retail only offering. I still don't own a single card of that set either, but I also didn't necessarily hear the best things about it.

2017 Topps Fire: I received three such base cards from Julie in this package.  I only scanned the Glavine though... mostly because I wasn't a huge fan.  They simply feel too contrived to me. I will admit that some of the inserts I've seen pop up online look intriguing. There are 'Monikers' and 'Flame Throwers' insert sets that go so completely overboard that they end up looking like 90's cards, which could be cool. The base card though... not overboard enough.



2017 Topps Triple Threads: This is the quintessential high-end base card. Not overly much to the design and EXTRA thick cards. This is how you can always tell! Maybe if you take one apart, there might be a hidden jersey swatch within. I do absolutely appreciate these, as they are three of the greatest Braves to ever play the game, and I certainly wouldn't have chased them down myself.


A brief pause in the action to showcase two other cards from Julie from sets I have seen before. The first is a Chrome refractor parallel of a player whose seemingly been under the radar for a while. The only veteran that came to Atlanta with Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair in the Shelby Miller to the Diamondbacks trade, Ender Inciarte might have been the best part of the trade for the Braves. He was an All-Star last year and is a defensive plus in center field. Brian Snitker has been experimenting with the lineup recently, dropping Inciarte to 9th in the order, citing his struggles at the plate.  I'm not super worried about it though, as he's basically a career .300 hitter.

The second card is a 2013 Topps Update insert of Smoltz doing his thing on the mound. While there's not all that much to this card, I enjoy it for what it stands for. Even though Smoltz lost the famed dual with Jack Morris, his 15 postseason wins is second to Andy Pettitte on the all-time list.


2003 Fleer-Skybox eX: This card was probably my favorite of the entire package mostly because its just so "out there". The card itself is made of acetate and is semi-transparent, but only where the player's picture is not present. The card is also quite thick, even for an acetate card, and generally feels like you have a huge hunk of plastic in your hand. Now, I'm not saying I'm going to run off and try to build this set, but getting a Maddux from this was quite the fun experience!

Thanks for the great package Julie. Looking forward to trading again soon!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Cards Delivered Just Over the Wall

Another long overdue trade post!  This one featuring Shane of Off the Wall.  In fact, Shane just recently threw up a very rare post regarding interesting 80's cards.  Go check it out if you haven't seen it.  In any case, I threw Shane some Red Sox a while back and this is what I got in return.


Naturally, we have to start out the post with some more miscut vintage.  As I mentioned before, I certainly don't mind getting stuff like this.  It means I know they're real and I have no intentions of ever building out these complete sets, so miscut versions are just fine!


Shane came up big with some random mini needs from A&G sets between 2009-2012.  That T-Rex looks nothing like any image of a T-Rex I've ever seen... granted, nobody really knows exactly what they looked like.  I think I once heard some paleontologist suggest that these big carnivores were actually quite brightly colored, similar to a woodpecker, or other male bird.


More insert needs!  As suggests from the last few posts, this trade occurred quite some time ago.  It simply was the next post in my drafts folder.  What makes it really strange is that just yesterday Shane reached out to me via my relatively inactive Twitter account and asked me about the start of another trade.  I promise this wasn't planned.


Some base mini needs were included in the package as well.  I picked out the two best pitchers in the lot to showcase.  Shane also included a black mini of Frank Thomas for my frankenset which is slowly making progress!


From two great pitchers, to possibly the best of the modern baseball era.  I'm certainly not anywhere close to completing this parallel code-card set, but this was certainly a big one to cross off the list.


Finally a SP need from 2016 Heritage and a really fun back to the 1996 Fleer Ultra John Smoltz.  Love it!  Great stuff Shane!