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


Cards from Greg

Oh man. This post definitely got lost in the drafts folder. To be quite honest, and I'm ashamed to say this, I don't recall which Greg this package came from - whether it was Night Owl, or Greg L, or GCA. Yadda yadda, school, baby, job, etc. - these are all bad excuses. However, these are definitely worthy of being shown off on the blog, even if they did come in at least 6 months ago by now.

So what's former Tigers slugger and current MLBPA president Tony Clark doing at the top of this blog? Well, this package took a serious dent out of my wantlist for these Vintage '61 inserts from 1999 Fleer Tradition. I'm down to needing just a five more of these to complete the set: Griffey, Musial, Bonds, Biggio, and Randy Johnson.

Wait a minute! I just said I still needed these! Well, I need a pair for to complete the set, because these went straight into my Biggio and Astros binders, respectively. 

I talked about these in my last post, but these Lords of the Diamond inserts from 1999 Topps are just fantastic. Greg sent along this fantastic pair, bringing me to 6 of the 15.

Miniiiiiiiiiiiiiis! Maybe these were from Night Owl. There were several more, but these three are the red back parallel versions from 2007 UD Goudey. Gotta love that Lance Berkman staring down his bat.

Speaking of parallels, there was one of these hard to snag Gold Signatures from 1994 Collector's Choice in the package! Sweet! But it's only going to get sweeter from here...

First up is a nice white square of jersey that used to belong to our 2004 NL Cy Young winner, Roger Clemens. Say what you will about the man, but he was something special to watch during his couple year stay here in Houston. Even if he was just starting his season in May and only pitching home games and not traveling with the team, he was lights out on the mound. Greg didn't stop there...

Ok, I really need whichever Greg this was to step up so I can correct this blog post and properly acknowledge him, because this stellar looking Bagwell dual relic was an excellent addition to the package.

But wait, there's more!

Yep, that's a 2004 Topps Originals certified auto from former Astros 1B and MLB millionth run-scorer big Bob Watson. I had Bob's auto on an '84 Topps, but that depicts him with the Braves, so this fits in my Astro-graphs collection perfectly! There's just one problem - and I may be in the minority in this, but it's never leaving my collection, so I'm ok with what's about to happen...

Yes, I had to free Bob from his plastic prison. He just looks so much happier in the fresh air! I'll always know that he came in his hermetically sealed plastic chamber, but he was begging to join the Astro-graphs binder.

Greg, thank you so much for all of the wonderful cards, and I'm sorry about the delayed post and the resulting confusion.


A Lifetime of Astros Cards

"You know what you need to do, Marc? Catch up on those trade posts, or this slider's coming straight for your shins."

Well, geez Todd Jones. Cut a guy a little slack.

Nah, Todd's totally right. I'm way behind on posting, thanks to a bunch of you who have taken me up on my trading flurry early in the year. I still want to get a lot more moving, but the coming baby and job hunt still have a lot to say about how my time is allocated.

Anyway, here's a post that's long overdue. I think this trade actually came in sometime around December/January (could be even later, yikes!), from Charlie at Lifetime Topps. I'm a little sketchy on what all was involved in the package at this point, but I scanned some highlights before I put them away. Let's get to it!

Here we have some local outfielders. I'm pretty sure the Hatcher was a Glossy. I loved Mouton when he came up - he lived in the same suburb as I did and I got to see him at the little league fields later on when he brought his kiddos to play. I don't have many of the early Topps Finest Astros, so this was a nice addition.

Between all the 1984 I purchased and the stacks that were sent my way when I was building the set, I was pretty surprised that this one had eluded me. That's a lot of firepower on one card, and completes my Astros needs for '84 flagship.

Some lovely 90's Killer B's were included as well. I can't tell if '93 Score gets a good or bad rap among the bloggers - I've seen a few bash it, but I like the simple design, and a lot of the photos are good. I was a little surprised to see I didn't have this 95 Bazooka Bagwell either.

Oooooh, shiny parallels from 1995 SP. Upper Deck called these Superbafoil, which is way better than "Silver." This trio knocked out my wantlist.

Also from SP were a pair of die-cut prospects that went on to have fine major league careers. The only problem is we let Abreu get away in the expansion draft.

Speaking of die-cuts, there was also this lovely Darin Erstad 1999 Topps Lords of the Diamond insert. So shiny, much wow, very point. I got a couple boxes of '99 Topps at Christmas that year, and loved these and the Picture Perfect inserts. I still need 8 of these (9 if you count the second Bagwell I need).

Hell, let's wrap up with some more shiny! I never picked up much 1997 SP. Heck, I don't think I bought much in 1997 at all - my attentions must have been diverted. But this Bagwell was another welcome addition to the collection, and looks snazzy to boot.

Thanks for the great trade Charlie! Sorry about the delayed post.

 - Marc