Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Matt Kemp 5-Star Autograph Finally Pushes my PC to 200

Today is the day I'm sure you've all been waiting for. After a barrage of non-stop Matt Kemp posts, we have one more today. Then, you know, we can get to the rest next year, but I'll throw some other guys in the mix. ;)

Matt Kemp Card #200

Oh man, is that sweet or what. It isn't the card I was hoping to show off today, but it is pretty freaking fantastic in its own right.

It hails from one of the sweetest brands for Matt Kemp autos: 2012 Topps Five Star Baseball. It is now my second auto from the set, with the first being my very first Matt Kemp auto.  There are still quite a few Kemp autos from the set I'd like to get my hands on, but this will do for now. With this addition, my Matt Kemp PC now contains 13 Matt Kemp autographs. I initially though this was Kemp auto number 14, but after taking a quick re-count today, I realized I made a mistake. 

It took until the final day of 2014, but I finally reached 200 Matt Kemp cards.

I hope everybody enjoys their night tonight. I'm still not sure what I'll be doing, but I'm sure I'll be happy to ring a in a new year wherever I might be. Stay safe and have a very happy new year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mini Kemp and Ryu Relics For The Win

In search of more Matt Kemp cards, I rummaged through eBay recently. What did I find? 


Woohoo! I love me some minis, even more so when they feature Matt Kemp and/or there is some type of autograph or memorabilia attached. This one happens to feature a sweet bat slice of Matty Ice, a great card for number 199 in the PC. 

But the seller didn't just have the Kemp listed, he had this sweet relic of Hyun-Jin Ryu. Both cards had a best offer option available, so for a few bucks they were both mine. 

I'm not too familiar with the 2014 Topps Baseball Minis set, but I am a big fan of the relics they put out. They do still have that wavy nameplate thing on the bottom, but the annoying tab on the right side of the card is gone. 

These cards may also be a bit of a preview of 2015. At least, that is what I am comparing the background of these cards to. 

Speaking of 2015, I hope every one has a fantastic New Years Eve and New Years Day. I have my final post of the year tomorrow, and although it will contain my 200th Matt Kemp card, it will not contain the card I was hoping to show off. Eh, it will show up in the mail one of these days. Until then, I can always look back at my other 199 Matt Kemp cards. Maybe a Matt Kemp countdown is in order...

Monday, December 29, 2014

Los Angeles Dodgers: An In-Depth Look Using Customs

I have been tinkering around with my use of custom cards. For a while, I was releasing them one by one. I then moved to a voting system using two customs. Once again, I have altered my custom posts, and I have decided to move in a new direction. I will now posts customs one team at a time. The posts will not only include the fantastic customs done by me (self-promotion for the win), but a look back at the 2014 season, and a look ahead into 2015. 

What went right in 2014?
The Dodgers won 94 games and took first place in their division. They were led by a strong starting pitching staff headlined by Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-Jin Ryu, allowing them to have a cumulative starting pitcher ERA of 3.20, second in the league. The Dodgers also had a sound offense, ranking number one in OBP% and WAR, and second in WRC+. For fans of the more traditional stats, the Dodgers ranked in the top 10 in runs, RBI's, stolen bases, and batting average.

Clayton Kershaw and Josh Beckett also threw no-hitters, so yea, that was pretty cool too.

What went wrong in 2014?
The Dodgers were hampered by consistently inconsistent bullpen. The bullpen ranked 21st in ERA, 26th in BB/9, and 25th in WAR. The lack of a bullpen was on full display in the NLDS against the Cardinals, with Dodgers relievers allowing 6 runs in only 8.1 innings. Additionally, the Dodgers bowed out of the playoffs after only winning once in the NLDS. That was definitely not the outcome most Dodger fans were hoping for.

What has the club done to improve this off-season?
A lot. Andrew Friedman and company went on a trade binge earlier this off-season (perfectly timed right before my finals, thank you very much), dealing Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, Matt Kemp,  Andrew Heaney, and some minor leaguers for the likes of Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick, Yasmani Grandal, Joel Peralta and others. Needless to say, the team's defense should be vastly improved, both in the infield, outfield and behind the plate. The trades also opened up the door for Joc Pederson in center, though Friedman has not publicly committed to this.

In addition to all of the trades, the Dodgers signed Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson to solidify the back of the rotation, though it looks like the Dodgers will still be looking for at least one more starter. Can anybody say Chad Billingsley?

What should we expect in 2015?
Although a ton of casual Dodger fans may be viciously berating the Dodgers new front office, the club should be greatly improved in 2015. The defense up-the-middle has been improved dramatically. While Gordon was serviceable at second, watching Hanley play defense was like stepping on a LEGO while watching the Giants celebrate another World Series. It was seriously that bad. Rollins and Kendrick will be replacing Hanley and Gordon; and Joc Pederson, while not a great center fielder, has shown that he can handle the position rather well. Furthermore, Grandal is a huge improvement behind the dish, both on offense and on defense. While the Dodgers are losing the powerful bats of Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez in the middle of their lineup, they have lengthened it quite a bit with Kendrick and Grandal.

Overall, the Dodgers starters should be phenomenal once again. The bullpen is far from perfect, but it has improved greatly. The offense might take a step back, but there is quite a bit of break-out potential (Grandal and Pederson) and a ton more depth (Hernandez, Heisey, Guerrero). Expect another first place finish, and, hopefully, a deeper run in the playoffs.

Who's my favorite player in the organization's history?
Shawn Green.

I'm interested in hearing what you think about the team heading into 2015? Did you like their moves? What would you have done? Who is your favorite player in the organization's history?

While you think that over, take a look the rest of the Dodgers customs I created. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Another Trade With Dodger Penguin Nets Me Another Matt Kemp Auto

I recently completed my 7th trade with Dodger Penguin, moving ever closer to 200 Matt Kemp cards. I have completed a few other trades with other bloggers since our last trade, but this one was prioritized to get out 200 Kemp cards by the end of the year.

The deal initially started small, but after I posted about some cool autos I picked up, the deal expanded. 

The main prize from this deal was a fantastic new Mattycakes auto. The card, which hails from 2007 Topps Moments and Milestones, is my 13th Kemp auto and my 196th Matt Kemp card (though there are a couple more in this post). 

This card is now one of my oldest autos of the outfielder, though not for long. I picked up something I've been chasing for a really long time recently, but it will be another week or so until it shows up. 

But back to the trade. Matthew also sent over two other Matt Kemp cards, though with considerably less ink. 

I am a big fan of these sparkly foil cards that Topps has been including in Flagship recently, so hopefully the trend continues in 2015. Something about getting shiny cards for cheap just appeals to me. The Bowman card happens to be the Hometown/State variant, with the background getting the Oklahoma state flag treatment. Surprisingly, this is only my first hometown variant card of Kemp. I figured that I would have picked up the other from 2012 and 2013 by now. 

Finally, I was able to add another sweet (and sparkly) Kershaw to my expanding Clayton Kershaw PC. I am still on the hunt for an inexpensive Kershaw auto, but funds are a bit tight heading into my spring semester. Damn tuition and books. 

Thanks again for the trade Matthew. Seven trades are in the books, and I plan on doing this even more as time goes by. Also, thanks for pushing up my Matt Kemp PC to 198 cards!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The March Toward 200 Continues

Christmas has come and gone, and the new year is just around the corner. Fortunately for me, I have five days to churn out posts featuring nine Matt Kemp cards. I'll start out by getting four of them out of the way today. 

We'll start with my favorite of the four. This bad boy came out of 2013 Panini Select baseball (check out my box break here), and it features a non-licensed photo of Matty in his pre-game clothes (I'm not sure what else to call them). It happens to be the gold refractor version, making it #'d 10/25. I dig shiny cards, though I dig shiny cards with logos more. That said, Panini found a decent way to get around it for this one. 

I also picked up this pretty cool diecut from 2012 Topps Chrome. For under a dollar shipped, I couldn't pass it up. The card follows Topps' formula for diecuts the past few years: sharp and shiny. Not that it bugs me. Another Kemp for the PC. 

Next up we have another Kemp card from Panini, with a surprise cameo by the reigning NL Cy Young Award Winner, Clayton Kershaw. I'm not a super big fan of the designs from 2011 Panini Limited, but I couldn't pass up a numbered card of my two favorite Dodg...*ahem...players. This copy is #'d 168/199, and only cost a mere dollar and change. 

Finally, I was able to land another new Matt Kemp card for less than a dollar shipped. Free shipping is truly the way to go. The scan turned out less than stellar on this, and it looks much better in person. 

At the end of the day, I added four new Kemp's to my growing PC which now stands at 195 cards. Stay tuned for card number 200 on New Years Eve. It's a dandy. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My Chad Billingsley PC

I've been collecting Chad Billingsley for a while now. It has sort of been a behind-the-scenes collection, with very few of my cards actually displayed here on the blog. I decided a few months ago to seriously start collecting C-Bills and planned on posting all of my cards in one post. This is that post.

As I mentioned in my Matt Kemp farewell post last week, Chad Billingsley was my favorite player at one point. This was in large part because he pitched the first game I attended in a number of years way back in 2006. It was also because he was one of the first young studs up from that fantastic Dodger system way back when. Who knows, maybe his reddish hair played a part in my fandom.

Billingsley with his smokin' hot wife.

Of course, Matt Kemp came up shortly after and my infatuation with C-Bills was never as large. But, Billingsley was always a favorite of mine. I'm still not sure why so many Dodger fans whole-heartedly hated the guy, but at least I know smart people like Greg and Matthew are fans.

A few months ago, I spilled some water on a stack of cards. Unfortunately, my Chad Billingsley cards took the majority of the beating, leaving me with very few commons. My hits were left unscathed, but it is a bit disappointing losing cards to a stupid mistake. As such, I will be looking for some Billingsley cards the next time I hit my LCS, but I'm not holding my breath. 

Without further adieu, my Chad Billingsley PC

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Moving Toward A Matt Kemp Rainbow

I have slowly been gathering all of the different Matt Kemp parallels from 2013 Bowman Chrome. It started with the blue parallel (which was actually my 50th Matt Kemp card), continued with the yellow printing plate in a trade with Dodger Penguin, progressed with me obtaining the orange and purple refractors, then moved on to the pink refractor (while simultaneously forgetting I had a rainbow going), to me finally obtaining the regular ol' refractor that you see below. 

I was going through my Kemp cards a few weeks ago when I realized that I didn't have this one yet. After a quick look on eBay, I walked away with this one for a mere .95 cents shipped. Well worth it. 

I have 6 of the parallels now (not counting the base card), leaving me just 6 parallels shy (not counting the superfractor). Sigh. Sounds like another project that won't ever really be completed, especially when you consider the rarity of the cards I have left. 

Green Refractor
Gold Grefractor #/50
Black Refractor #/15
Yellow Refractor #/10
Red Refractor #/5 

Oof. Those will be tough, not to mention pricey. On the plus side, the refractor above is Matt Kemp card number 192. Let's celebrate by taking a look at my current rainbow. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Look At This Matt Kemp Card...Do It Now...You Know You Want To

It is getting harder and harder writing clever titles with Matt Kemp. Not that any of my previous titles were all that, but c'mon, this title kind of sucks. But you clicked on it, so the jokes on you!

Matt Kemp week continues, and it may actually spread throughout the rest of the year. I have successfully acquired by 200th Matt Kemp card (plus some more), so these posts will go until I reach 200. I will mix in a couple of trades of the next week or so as well just to keep it interesting.

I've seen a ton of these Triple Threads cards on eBay. I was never a big fan of them, but I finally took the plunge and picked one up in my quest for 200. I'm glad I did, because these things look spectacular in person. I was not aware that the card was a refractor, or really shiny at all. I don't see too much green on cards these days, but it looks pretty darn good.

My copy is #'d 5/18, and features a sweet blue patch. This is my second blue swatch of Matty, which is pretty exciting I guess. I'll need to look out for those more often. 

At the end of the day, this is Matt Kemp card number 191. Only nine left to 200. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Sweet New Kemp and Some Trade Bait

There are only two more days left this week, so we'll finish it off with Matt Kemp posts today and tomorrow. 

I was able to pick up a new Matt Kemp relic on eBay recently for just a few bucks. The card comes from 2012 Heritage, one of my favorite sets in recent years. It is card number 190 in my Matt Kemp PC, a number that will continue to grow. In fact, I just completed another trade with Dodger Penguin yesterday which secured cards number 200 and 201 for my Matt Kemp PC. Let's just hope I did the math right.

While I was waiting on this card to end, I decided to peruse the sellers other items. I ended up bidding on a few more things and walked away with only one additional card. 

This sweet card only cost me 50 cents. It comes form the fantastic 2008 UD Goudey set, and features an awesome cameo for Derek Jeter. I have no real need for this card, so it is up for trade. I'm looking for relic, auto'd, or #'d cards of any of my PC guys in return, though I am open to any offers. 

While we're on the topic of cards I am trying to trade, let's take a look at a couple of more I have amassed over recent weeks. 

It would probably be wise for me to hold on to this card until next season when Butler gets the chance to thrive in the bigs. It will probably hold a little more value then, but it is up for grabs now. It is an on-card auto by the way.

This actually came with the Butler card above. I was bidding on a Matt Kemp relic and decided to look through the seller's other cards. I won both this card and the Butler, but forgot to re-up my bid on the Kemp. I ended up losing the Kemp, but I walked away with the two cards above for only five bucks. The auto on this is on-card and is #'d 08/75, and it is probably another card I should hang onto until 2015. 

Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email if you are interested in anything above. I am trying to focus my collection my my PC's a bit more, so I will probably be slightly more picky when dealing these ones.