Minnesota Twins Collection

Thursday, May 28, 2009

2009 Topps Finest Team Collectors Break

It's been a while since I've posted and I've been wanting to post this for a long time. Though now that I'm posting again, I have a lot of things on my mind I'd like to write. I'll take it as I can.

Last week, I received the cards from the Team Collectors May Case Break - 2009 Topps Finest. I will the Twins share with my Tier 2, Aaron. Here is what I have from my half of the break.

Standard Base:
2009 Topps Finest - Francisco Liriano
2009 Topps Finest - Joe Mauer
2009 Topps Finest - Justin Morneau
2009 Topps Finest - Delmon Young

2009 Topps Finest - Joe Mauer - Refractor
2009 Topps Finest - Justin Morneau - Refractor

Blue Refractor #/399:
2009 Topps Finest - Justin Morneau - Blue Refractor #/399

Green Refractor #/99:
2009 Topps Finest - Francisco Liriano - Green Refractor #/99

In general, I have never been a big fan of Finest. I don't dislike Finest, but I won't exactly go out of my way to get Finest. Some people absolutely love Finest and more power to you.

As a Twins collector, I will certainly go after any Twins cards in the set.

That being said, Topps must hate the Twins. Out of a base set of 200 cards, there are only 4 Twins. They didn't even include the best closer in the game today, Joe Nathan. Compare that to the 8 Red Sox or the 11 Yankees, who placed third in their division last season. Are Yankees fans even clammoring over Xavier Nady? At least we were given more than the poor Pirates who only got Nate McLouth. In addition, there were no Twins featured as Rookie Cards or Finest Moments cards.

Normally, in our Team Collectors case breaks, we split the costs evenly between all teams. However, the collation of cards among teams was so lopsided that, for the first time, we priced the shares on a sliding scale. The Twins share was $14, thus, my half was $7. Still, not bad for $7 spent.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Will We Ever Beat The Yankees?

That four game series was ugly! For some odd reason, I probably would have been more at ease as a Twins fan if the Yankees had dominated the local team the whole way... but they didn't. In three of those games, the Twins had the lead and in all three they lost to walk-off hits.

The bullpen has scared the faithful followers, but at least we could still count on Joe Nathan. Not Friday night! With a 2-run lead, Nathan gives up 3 in the 9th for the loss.

With a 1-run lead in the 8th on Saturday, the game's starter, Nick Blackburn, gives up the game-tying run. The Yankees win this one on a 2-run home run from A-Rod in the bottom of the 11th.

On Sunday, the game is scoreless until the Twins score 2-runs in the top of the 7th inning. The Yankees would also score 2-run in the bottom of the 7th. The Yankees win again on a solo home run from Johnny Damon in the 10th inning.

Monday looked like it would be a blowout with Glen Perkins giving up 6 runs in the first inning. The Twins try to catch up, but fail losing that game 7-6. The Twins left 23 runners on base this game and 46 runners on for the whole series.

In honor of the Twins' only series this year in the new Yankee Stadium, here is a gallery of Twins who later went on to become Yankees.

Butch Wynegar
Twins 1976-1982 | Yankees 1982-1986

Scott Erickson
Twins 1990-1995 | Yankees 2006

Chuck Knoblauch
Twins 1991-1997 | Yankees 1998-2001

Doug Mientkiewicz
Twins 1998-2004 | Yankees 2007

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Monday, May 11, 2009

2009 Upper Deck A Piece of History Player Collector Case Break

About once a month, I participate in a case break with the other team collectors. This case break, however, was the first I had participated in outside of the group. The case break of 2009 Upper Deck A Piece of History was run from Markakis8 at the Freedom Card Board forums.

I had bought in on the following players and cards:
Joe Mauer (base, parallels and possible jersey)
Justin Morneau (base, parallels and possible jersey)
Jose Mijares (base, parallels and possible autograph)
Jason Pridie (base, parallels and possible autograph)
Francisco Liriano (possible jersey)
Justin Morneau/Adrian Gonzales - Cut From The Same Cloth

I received my share of the break last week and here are how they look.

The usual base:

Of course, I would have loved to see more Twins in the set, but we always seem to get shorted on our regular players. I'm glad Upper Deck is using Mijares and Pridie as Rookie Cards, because they are not found in any Topps products.

Jose Mijares does not quite look like himself on his A Piece of History card. He looks about 50 pounds lighter. Here is the Mijares that Twins fans know and love.

The parallels:

I was glad to get two parallels from the case. I would have liked to have seen the parallels distributed more evenly between cards. One collector received eight Vladimir Guerrero blue parallels and three green parallels.

The Cut From The Same Cloth insert:

There were also Joe Mauer/Russ Martin Cut From The Same Cloth insert, but those cards were reserved by someone else.

Now for the hits!

I felt I was pretty lucky with the three jersey cards. Liriano is only in the set as a jersey card. Upper Deck advertises one autograph and two MLB memorabilia cards per box on average. However, every box contained only one memorabilia card... hardly on par.

I do find it a little bit exciting when I see a picture in a card I recognize. If you look at the Joe Mauer Stadium Scenes card, it is a picture inside the Metrodome. The picture appears to have been taken from 1991.

A Piece of History also includes history moments base and parallel cards and one Piece of Hollywood card per each box. Not sure what the deal has been with the card companies, both Upper Deck and Topps, but I am really, really hating non-baseball cards in baseball card product. Those 50 cards of history moments could have been 50 additional players and the Piece of Hollywood cards are worthless to baseball cards collectors and Hollywood memorabilia collectors alike. This is the reason why I do not buy the product for myself.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What Was Your Favorite Alexi Casilla Moment?

The big news today is that the Twins have optioned Alexi Casilla to Triple-A Rochester and have called up Matt Tolbert.

Casilla had a poor start last year and was sent down to the minors in mid April. He was later called back up in mid May after another player was injured and went on a tear both offensively and defensively. Perhaps they are hoping he gets that spark again.

2008 Topps Heritage Chrome - Alexi Casilla

Do you see anything wrong with the above card? Compare it to the card below.

2008 Topps Heritage - Alexi Casilla

Matt Tolbert had a great start last year with the Twins. He had hit pretty well in the #2 spot in the lineup and is versitile enough to play second base, third base and shortstop. Tolbert was injured early in the season and never made it back to the Major League roster until the September call-ups. Here's hoping Tolbert can make the best of this opportunity!

2008 Topps Chrome - Matt Tolbert

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What Makes A Good Baseball Game?

After writing my post about the Twins game I was at on Saturday night, I got to thinking...

What makes a good baseball game?

I will start off with what I think most people like in a game. A game with a high score and lots of home runs. I will admit that it's always fun to see the runs come across home plate and it's always more fun to see balls fly over the outfield wall. While those things are fun to see in a game, that does not necessarily mean you are watching a good ball game. Lots of scoring in a game might come from errors and bad defense in general and lots of home runs might come from the pitcher not having his stuff that game. While there were lots of runs from both teams than the lead teetering all night, all I could think about what when do we see the next bad pitch and when do we see the next error. I have nothing against long games... and that game went 4 and a 1/2 hours... but it just dragged on with bumbled plays and pitching replacements.

Here is what I think makes a good baseball game...

* Great Pitching
The starting pitcher is hitting all of the right spots in the strike out. If he is having a good outing, they make it difficult for batters to get a good hit. You don't want to watch a game where the pitcher is throwing batting practice and the other team's #9 hitter is going 4-for-4. Likewise, there is much more satisfaction when a batter gets a hit, especially a home run, off of great pitching.

* Stellar Defense
There's no worse feeling in baseball than losing a game because of errors. Again, if a team is playing great defense during the game, there is more satisfaction when a hit goes through.

* Low Scoring, Close Scoring
I don't have to tell you that a close scoring game creates a lot of tension and build up for the final innings. While a game is close scoring, there is a lot of anticipation for that next run. There is another a lot of excitement to see your closing pitcher shut down the opposing team in the last inning. Why do you think Joe Nathan looks like a rock star running out to the mound to start the 9th?

This example leads to my favorite Twins game of all time:

* Great Pitching
Jack Morris 10-inning shutout. Need I say more?

* Stellar Defense
With bases loading in the top of the eight. A ground goes to first. Hrbek to Harper to Hrbek double play to get the outs at home and first.

* Low Score, Close Score
The lone winning run came in the bottom of the 10th inning. Dan Gladden doubles to center field. Chuck Knoblauch sac bunts to move Gladden to third. The Braves intentionally walk Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek and load the bases. The Braves outfield is force to move in. Gene Larkin is brought in to pinch hit and loops a fly ball over the left fielder to drive in the winning run. Not sure if the final play of the game could ever be more dramatic than this.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

At Least I Came Home With A Hat

This post is three days late, but I figure I would just give a few notes of the Twins game on Saturday night.

4:00pm - Arrive to the Metrodome by light rail with my friend, Ernie. Two hours before the game and the light rail is kind of crowded. Must be a lot of anticipation. We bought our tickets. Gates do not open until 4:30pm, so we walked around. While the food outside of the Dome is usually very expensive, there was a small Mexican stand that was reasonably priced. I bought a pork tamale and a Jarritos fruit punch. Later, walked past another stand with the biggest corn dogs I'd ever seen so I bought one of those.

4:30pm - I buy a Twins magazine and scorecard outside, knowing full well that I won't be able to keep score during the game. Gates open, we go in and we get this:

Once inside, I get the Dome Dog, chips and a large drink... a Twins game tradition for me. We take our seats... 26 rows up in lower left field.

Pre-game - The Royals are taking batting practice. I count only two balls flying over the outfield walls... maybe a precursor of things to come?

Written in left field is...

DY 21

I know what "DY 21" is. Don't know about "DIXIE".

Later, is the Softball Home Run Derby. The first three batters leave with no home runs. TC hits 5.

Game Time - I will follow with a series of thoughts throughout the game.

* Jason Kubel is not in the starting line up. Normally, I would not think it a big deal except the Royals' starting pitcher, Brian Bannister, is a righty.

* I tried to keep score on my scoreboard, until I realized in the second inning that I missed a single hit by Jose Guillen in the first.

* Scoring throughout the game goes back and forth. Glen Perkins had a tough first two inning, but looks great in the next three. Then, in the sixth, he gives up another three run. After six, game is tied at 5. At least the Twins are providing some run support.

* You can count on Luis Ayala to try to lose the game for you. In 1-1/3 innings, Ayala give up two runs. Jose Mijares bailed him out in the eighth inning and the Twins score two to tie at the bottom of the eighth.

* Delmon Young hit 3-for-4 in the game with 2 RBIs. After his single in the bottom of the eighth, with the game tied, Carlos Gomez is sent in to pinch run for him. Some have questioned about replacing Young after hitting so well during the game, but Gomez is many time faster and Gardy was trying to go for the win. Buscher singles to left and moves Gomez to second. With Punto, Span and Casilla up next, you'd think one of the would try to bunt to move Gomez to third. Punto and Span pop-out. Casilla ground out to third.

* In the 11th inning, after Breslow walks three straight, R.A. Dickey is brought in. Walks one run home. Gives up a two-run single and then finally get out. Good thing because Dickey was the last reliever.

Twins lost 10-7 and the game was over at 10:30pm. Usually, I wait until traffic at the light rail dies down, but I think we left as fast as we could... I was missing my wife and kids at this point.

Even though the home team lost, it was still a fun game.

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Twins Game Tonight

I will be heading to the Metrodome for my first Twins game of the season. (Depending on finances, it could be my last game at the Dome.) In honor of tonight's starting pitcher, here are a few gems from the collection.

2005 Topps Pristine
2007 Topps Chrome
2007 Topps Co-Signers
2007 Topps Triple Threads
2007 Upper Deck Elements
2007 Upper Deck Goudey
2008 Topps Stadium Club

Win Twins!

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