Monday, June 5, 2017

You've Got Mail #71: All Trade Bait, All the Time

I always get excited when I get a USPS notification text that a package is on the way, especially when I know that cards are involved. A week or so ago, I received notification that a package was on the way from California. Judging by where it departed from, I surmised (correctly I might add) that the package was from Oscar at ATTBATT. A package from him never fails to disappoint and there were some really fun things to be had.

I'm a big fan of cards featuring players from unfamiliar teams. I guess these would fall in the "short term stops" category but Tom Seaver pitched six years for the Reds so that wouldn't really fit. However, the Valenzuela card certainly does. I had no recollection of Valenzuela as an Oriole. Apparently he bounced around a lot once he left LA. For the Orioles in 1993, he went 8-10 with a 4.94 ERA in 32 games. He would bounce around the majors for three more seasons before finally hanging up the cleats after stints with San Diego and St. Louis during the 1997 season.

The Roger Clemens card is another one that falls into that category of "short term stops". Every one remembers him as a member of the Red Sox and Yankees and some of his stint in Houston but everyone seems to forget when he played two seasons north of the border for Toronto. To say it was a shocker when he signed with Toronto was a bit of an understatement but it two seasons in the Great White North, he was an astonishing 41-13 with a 2.33 ERA. He also had his last 20-win season (1998) as a member of the Blue Jays. 

These guys definitely aren't short term stops either but they are cards from my favorite sets of 1991, Donruss and Topps. If I had to rank them (hey, there's an idea for a post!) I'd say that Donruss would be number 2 and Topps number 1. I enjoy both designs equally but Topps gets the edge just because Donruss turns to an ugly green color in series 2. But I digress. I've made the Lee Smith argument for the Hall in this space before (478 career saves, 3.03 lifetime ERA among other things) but now I think is a good time to make the argument for Fred McGriff.

During the 90s, McGriff was as good of a hitter as anyone, finishing off home runs and singles all the same with his trademark "helicopter" follow through. Over 19 seasons with Toronto, San Diego, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Chicago (NL), and Los Angeles, he amassed 493 HRs, 1,550 RBIs, 2,490 hits, with a career slash line of .284/.377/.509 in 2,460 career games. In the awards category, he was a five time All-Star, won three Silver Slugger awards, finished in the top 10 of MVP voting six times, and won a World Series with Atlanta in 1995. With those kinds of stats, I honestly don't see how he's only getting 20-25% of the vote during the Hall of Fame voting season.

More cards for the Eckersley collection. Even though I never got to see him pitch on a regular basis, there's just something about his cards that make me want to collect them. I think it's probably the fact that most every one of his cards (at least his Oakland cards) see to catch him in some sort of weird pitching position, save for the 1994 Upper Deck card pictured above. 

Player collections and team collections weren't the only thing that the envelope covered. There was a decent amount of stuff for my team collections too. First up, this smattering of Expos. I always kind of liked the 1997 Upper Deck design with the caption on the photo and the faux wood grain-ish border on the bottom. Also, how cool is Marquis Grissom in the powder blue uniform on the 91 Donruss card?

The other team well represented was the Indians, both old and new. The Winfield on the top can fall into the category of "sunset card" and it's probably the trippiest sunset card of all time. Winfield only appeared in 46 games for the Tribe in 1995 after infamously being traded for dinner. If you've never heard the story, Winfield was traded to the Indians by the Twins two weeks after the 1994 strike started for a player to be named later. Since the season got cancelled, Cleveland and Minnesota executives went to dinner with the Indians picking up the bill.

The newer cards are 2016 and 2017 releases. Seeing the 2017 Heritage and 2017 Series 1 gives me the urge to pickup more Heritage packs along with some Archives and Series 2. 

Thanks for the great cards Oscar! I'll be sure to load up a PWE for you soon.

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