Stadium Club

Around a week ago, I wrote about picking up the obligatory round of Series 2 cards. Well, when I grabbed the hanger pack, I managed to finally find some 2017 Stadium club on the shelves, so I nabbed a blaster. Let's take a look at what I landed!

I managed to land just two Astros in the blaster - both former players now that Hernandez was moved to Toronto in the Francisco Liriano trade. That one was a real bummer for me - not only did we not really get the arm we wanted, but I really liked Teo. He had a nice debut when he came up last fall, and looked primed for a hot start this season when an injury sidelined him almost immediately. Hopefully Liriano finds his form quickly and this trade works out. It certainly didn't help things that we lost our beloved Nori Aoki as well, although Derek Fisher definitely looks ready for prime time.

Before we dive into the base, let's talk about the inserts. These shiny beauties are the real winners for me. They scream late 90's, and I LOVE IT.

Contact Sheet, however, is in its third year, and I believe it's time it was retired. What the heck is with that font? Something about the Scoreless Streak insert just doesn't do it for me.

There were, of course, parallels. So let's talk about those! I pulled Gold Foil versions of Mookie Betts and Kyle Seager, both of whom are depicted celebrating with teammates. These are pretty nice. I'm keeping the Betts, but I can't decide on the Seager. The more I look at it, the more I realize how awkward of a position he's in here.

I pulled two more parallels out of the box. At first, I didn't even realize that the Nolan was a Black Foil parallel - I just saw the Rangers hat and went, psh, another card of Nolan in a Rangers uni. Apparently Texas gets the bulk of his 2017 cards, because that's all I've seen. I figured the Snider was just a B&W photo until I looked up the checklist and discovered it's a Sepia parallel. It's a pretty nice card of ol' Duke, who looks locked in during BP.

If I have one bone to pick with the set this year, it's the crazy ligatures tailing off from the end of the last name, and the fact that they almost always obstruct part of the team name on the vertical cards. Also, the big script last names very much remind me of 2007 Ultra - which is not a bad thing, just an observation.

As has been the case for the past few years, the photography in Stadium Club is outstanding. This year, we can thank dear old Sooz for that, as she hand selected all the photos from the Getty archive. I think this year's checklist - at least what I've seen of it - is one of the best compilations of photography that I've seen so far. So let's salivate over some excellent photography, shall we?

With as much contempt as I have for the Western Louisiana Rangers, I just can't hate this guy. He's all class, he's super solid, and he's a future Hall of Famer. He just picked up his 3000th hit, further cementing his legacy, and I'll shed a tiny tear when he chooses to hang them up.

This might be my favorite photo from the entire blaster. This is the kind of photo I would take, because it totally breaks the rule about leaving room for movement. Plus, it's Cutch. It's been so great to see his season pick up - his June-July was incredible.

Probably my favorite photo of one of the retired guys in the set. How can you not love this one?

This Brian Dozier card didn't impress me too much when I first flipped through the stack, but then I took a longer look at it and saw the giant "HOME RUN" letters behind him. This is another sublimely stupendous card. Good call, Sooz!

Two more excellent photo choices here. The Wizard is a keeper for sure, and I'm a sucker for a fantastic black and white photo with great contrast. The Sonny Gray is just great, and I love it when Oakland wears the yellow uniforms. It's a bummer that he's going to probably spend the rest of his days in pinstripes.

Oh, and speaking of pinstripes, I pulled another card that I'm sure Sooz will love:

It may not be the Yankee rookie that everyone is salivating over, but I'll take it! Not a bad hit at all. He's up for grabs if you've got something nice and comparable of the Astros persuasion.

So overall, a great blaster. It was hard not to scan every card in the box - in fact I think I wound up doing about half of them anyway. Great job Sooz!

 - Marc


Maz & The Motherlode

I added a nice piece to my Mazeroski collection this week - an excellent 8x10 photo that I believe is the source for his 1986 TCMA All-Time Pirates card, and I'm sure many more in the past couple decades. Check out this beauty!

That's a great one for the binder. Too be honest though, I didn't even know this was what I was getting. And it wasn't really why I bought the lot of photos in which it came in the first place. That's because the lot was for a whopping 363 8x10's. Check out the stack, it's a full 4 inches tall!

If you're a fan of Out of the Park Baseball (or OOTP as it's known), you're probably familiar with the forums. I do a little lurking in some of the photo threads, always on the hunt for cool Astros/Colt .45s images I haven't seen. Well, one of the members posted about a few auctions he had put on eBay, and added that he'd let any of them go for a best offer of fifteen bucks if we mentioned the OOTP forum post. I didn't blink twice and took him up right away. I figured there would be some nice Astros photos, some more for TTM, and a few oldies I'd keep, and I'd dole the rest out. I fully intend to do that, as well. Once I've had a bit of time to go through and sort out the keepers, I'll let you know what's up for grabs. Maybe I'll sneak them into trades. Who knows? I'll post some more of the highlights to the blog as I go through as well.

Alright, I've got a little free time tonight so I'm going to try and bang out some posts that are stuck in the queue. This will probably become the home of a lot of short and sweet posts for the time being!

 - Marc


Flagship Segundo Ves

What with the new family addition and all, I'm not buying a ton of cards this year. However, I have to dip my toes into the releases as they come out just for the sake of curiosity. So I pick up a pack or three, hope to pull some Astros, and chalk the rest up as either trade bait or the occasional TTM fodder.

Hence, when I was on a recent baby supply run to Target, I grabbed a hanger pack of Series 2. Then yesterday I dropped by for more formula and nabbed a hanger box. I'm done buying this stuff, but let's take a look at what I pulled, shall we? First up is this great shot of (Handsome) Jake Marisnick making a great catch while patrolling center field. That chain link on the right side is the edge of the new Lexus Club, where you can sit behind the center field fence and see the game at field level. You can also get a view straight into the Astros bullpen, which is just a bit farther to the right. It's a 100 person capacity, which can only be bought in blocks of 100 or 50, so I haven't made it down there yet. However, if you're lucky enough to get a ticket for it, you can stand on the warning track during BP - they give you a helmet and glove, according to a friend of mine.

I pulled two more Astros base cards, both of which are of guys who have come up big for the team this year. I love me some Mike Fiers, but by mid-May, I was convinced he needed to be relegated to AAA. Ever since he got moved to the bullpen and immediately returned to the rotation (thanks to injuries and David Paulino), he's been pretty stellar. Marwin has gone full beast mode this year, to the point where he'd be among the league leaders in several offensive categories, but for the fact that his status as all-around backup has left him just a few PAs shy of qualification. With Correa on the DL for his finger, though, he ought to breach that plateau soon.

Only one 'Stros insert among the bunch, but any Bregman is a good Bregman!

My gold parallel pull turned out to be a dude who I really wish was playing this year (the Pirates being the team I casually follow), but is stuck in Korea. Lesson to the kids - don't drink and drive. Also, don't flee the scene of an accident. I was really happy to pull a card of the mighty Eric Thames, however - a guy who has made a big impact after spending the last few seasons in the KBO.

Topps is just determined to beat that 1987 design to death, huh? "Hey look, it's the 30th anniversary of one of our most popular designs, so let's put a stamp on it!" Meh, I still think these look great. It's probably because of the nice stock they are printed on, so for now these are keepers. But seriously, Topps - just let '87 retire to its home in Florida already.

Let's talk about cards I DON'T need, though:

1. Cards of guys on the MLB network. Former ballplayers in poor-fitting suits, and whatever the hell is going on with this Intentional Talk card. I hear IT is pretty bad - is it? Either way, there's nothing in me that wants cards of these guys. Maaaaaayyyyyybe famous announcers. Gimme a Vin Scully sunset card, or how about a couple legends that called Houston home - Gene Elston and Milo Hamilton?

2. More dead Yankees. Specifically, these dead Yankees, Mantle, and DiMaggio. WE GET IT. Old ballplayers were good, but there were more than those four guys, Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, and Stan Musial. Find something more interesting - and what the hell is going on with the crap at the top of these?

3. More shitty All-Star Weekend inserts. These are boring, and they're already being bashed into our skulls by Update. 

Unless it's of someone cool, like the Hawk. I'll keep these. But dang it man, can these All-Star stuff just stop already?

Oh well, that brings us to the final card that I'm going to show off in this post:

And you may ask yourself, "uh, wait - what? This is not my beloved Astros. This is not a super-cool insert."

Well, you would be correct. This is a plain jane, J.J. Hardy base card. It hit somewhere in the middle third of the pack, as evidenced by it's horizontal status. It's even a nice batting photo, though the dumb tilted frame that is all over this year's cards is swallowing J.J. in it's maw. So why post this card?

Because just a few cards later in the hanger pack, this fell out:

Yup! I pulled the cyan plate used in the very printing of the base card. This is the second 1/1 I've pulled - the other being a 2013 Panini Cooperstown Joe Morgan black parallel. It was definitely a neat find. I'm always a little shocked at how light the actual plates are. This one is up for grabs, so get at me O's fans! If you've got some cool Astros stuff, let me know (or if you want to engineer a three-way swap with another blogger, that's cool). Otherwise it'll get sent out to the 'bay.

That's a pretty good way for me to close out my Series Two purchases for the year, don't you think?

 - Bru

P.S. Lil' Bru is two months today! That's crazy! She's starting to develop her little personality, which is amazing to see. Here's a pic of her chillin' with my pal Brendan (her godfather) on Saturday. Willie Nelson was on the turntable and the Astros were on the TV, so it was a great day.


A New Addition

It's been a week.

Well, it's been longer since my last post. But it's been a week since the newest piece was added to our collection. That's right, I said our. Currently, we stand at a house, two cars, two cats, two dogs, and now one baby girl. This is L. She was born last Saturday.

I've got to say, the entire experience has been somewhat surreal. It has been life-altering, exhausting, exhilarating, and certainly joyous, all in ways far beyond what the cliche words can offer. Our nights are long, but getting better each day. We've had a number of firsts - including first car rides, first doctor visit, first trip with mom and dad to get coffee, and first bath. I'm sure that first baseball game is only a matter of time.

Understandably, I'm quite busy at the moment, but I've got my fair share of down time when I'm watching L or on night duty. So perhaps I'll get to use that time for some blog catchup. Who knows? I'd like to preemptively thank all of you with whom I've swapped so far this year, I have scans in the queue and just need to get some posts up.

Ok, here's one more photo for you, then it's my turn to sleep.

 - Marc


Help! My Puhl is Overflowing.

Hey guys. I need a little help.

One of you Canadians / Canadian ex-pats collects Terry Puhl. I know this because I stumbled across it while reading blogs a couple weeks ago, and started setting them aside as I came across dupes. Due to Terry's long tenure with the Astros, I've got plenty to share.

The only problem is, I can't remember who it is. So, please leave a comment if you know who it is, and if it's you, send over your address. I've got a t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-Terry Bomb!

 - Bru


Trading at the Database: New Goodies from Mike

I'm furiously trying to pound out a bunch of trade posts in order to catch back up on the ol' blog. If you've sent along cards in the past few months, don't worry - I'll have a post up soon! If, for some reason I miss it, feel free to yell at me in the comments sometime.

This here turned out to be a lovely small swap with another TCDB member, MMehler30 - a Rangers fan for whom I happily packed up a stack of our cross-state rivals. There were only two cards coming back my way, but I'm down for a lopsided trade anytime, especially when the quality was this nice!

First up in the envelope was this Craig Biggio, a shiny delight that I'd never seen before. While it says Finest in the upper corner, this card is actually from the hybrid 2001 Topps Fusion set. I don't know what it was about card companies doing amalgamation sets in the early 00's (Donruss Fan Club/Best of Fan Club, anyone?), but hey, it's a great looking card and another Bidge for the binder.

The big card in the trade, though, was this super-sweet Futures Game relic of Chris Burke from 2004 Bowman. Burke, of course, hit one of the most epic homers in Astros history with his 18th inning blast that ended the 2005 NLDS.

You know what, let's watch that one!

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/r7eFAtYiBSM?ecver=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Ah, a dinger that never gets old. Thanks again for the cards!

 - Marc


Overdue Astros As Therapy

Here's another overdue trade post. I thought I was doing a little better about catching up, but I dipped back into the drafts folder and noticed that these were received months and months ago.

These great Astros cards came in from Adam over at Addiction As Therapy. He'd claimed a stack of cards when I was breaking up all that junk wax last year, and though I told him he didn't need to send anything my way in return, he put together a nice package anyway. Thanks Adam! I really dig this Fleer pennant sticker.

There was also a lovely pair of Diamond Kings, featuring two of the more notable faces of the franchise. Niekro gets lost in the lore, but he was part of some stellar Astros rotations in the late 70s and early 80s, along with J.R. Richard, Nolan Ryan, Vern Ruhle, and Mike Scott.

Speaking of fantastic Astros hurlers, Roy O was a dominant force here in town for several years. He spent plenty of time pitching to the handsome devil on the right. Seriously, Ausmus made the local ladies swoon.

Here's a couple of fantastic Altuve cards featuring him in not normal jerseys. I will still maintain that the Astros need to switch back to those shooting star jerseys featured on the right. Or make them the regular Sunday alternates, that would be fun too.

Adam also added knocked a few cards off the multitude of Astros parallels I still need from recent years of flagship. I really dig the yellow bordered Cosart.

Finally, we'll close out with this fantastic sparkly Chrome card of Will Harris, whose been very steady out of the bullpen for the 'Stros over the past couple years now. Harris struck out 9.7 batters per nine last year and put up a 1.04 WHIP en route to an All-Star selection. He's got some tremendous #pitcherface going on - not so much on this card - but if that's what it takes, then so be it!

Thanks for the cards Adam! Sorry I didn't post them sooner.

 - Marc