Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Hey. Welcome back readers - How about a 2020 Topps Error Card?

 It's been awhile around these parts. Since the last post, 2020 baseball began, the Baltimore Orioles flirted with a playoff spot and are still on pace to hit the over in their win total, and the Tampa Bay Lightning made it back to the Eastern Conference Final. Guess which one of those is occupying most of my time?


On the baseball card front, things are still moving forward. Lots of trades (sitting at a -780 trade differential), a little bit of retail purchasing, and just one box of cards purchased. Most of the 2020 cards I've picked up this year have been through trades and a couple of group breaks. One of those was a 2020 Topps Series II half'-case break which led to me having quite a few Orioles cards.

When they came in a couple of months ago I logged them and set them aside. They're still sitting on the desk ready to be put away along with some other random cards. The life of a card collector - the sorting is never done. For once, it's a good thing because another card I picked up today sent me back to that pile to verify something. 

As far as I can tell, Topps made a mistake in their base set that no one has written about other than a few Twitter users, at least that I'm aware of after searching on the internet for roughly five minutes. Can you spot the error?




Yeah, that's not Pedro Severino. 

Did I, a life-long Orioles fan, notice it when I first received the card? Nope. It wasn't until today, when I broke open a Topps Orioles team set that I noticed the mistake. Yes, the team set, which is basically all of the Orioles cards from the flagship with a different numbering system, has the same error. A quick check of his 2020 Topps Heritage card shows that they used the correct photo. So at least he can show his grandkids that card.

Imagine working all your life to get your picture on a baseball card and when it comes out - it's not you. Granted, it's card manufacturing in the 21st century so luckily Severino, who didn't play consistently until last year, still has 250+ other cards that most likely have his face on it, but if you only knew him from this card you would think he was a left-handed hitter.

As far as I can tell (again 5 minutes of research) that is a photo of Anthony Santander, the switch-hitting, former Rule V draft pick, internationally known star, who had a breakout 2019 season that has rolled over to 2020.

Good for Santander to find a way to get an extra card in the series. His base card features the awesome flag jersey that the O's wore last year:



It also highlights one of the fun parts of figuring out who is who (who is whom? whom is whom? whom is who) on cards. As you can notice on the Severino card, Santander is wearing orange batting gloves. In his actual card the right-fielder is wearing black batting gloves. There are also photos of him from last year wearing grey gloves.

He also used a couple of different bats last season. One was a black bat with a brown handle. That's not the bat seen on the Severino card.  A few minutes of paging through Getty Photos ensured that he used the combo of the orange gloves, black-handle/light barrel bat without long sleeves. Yes, this is how I spend my hours these days.

Of course, this wouldn't be the first time the wrong photo has been used for a player, most notably is probably the 1987 Donruss Opening Day Barry Bonds card that had a photo of Johnny Ray. Unlike the Bonds card, there is no known correction to the Severino card. And since Severino isn't quite a Bondsian figure in baseball, this error isn't going to go for big bucks on the secondary market.

It'll linger on checklists and price guides with the dubious (UER) tag indicating it's an uncorrected error, you know like half of the early Donruss cards. Hopefully, if fans are ever allowed to interact with players ever again someone will get both players to sign a version of the card and it'll make the rounds as a nice little novelty. 

I suppose it would only be fair that Topps flip the roles in 2021 and release a Santander card featuring Severino on the front.







Thursday, July 2, 2020

Update on the state of the blog...

So, last week I was planning on getting all caught up with the 1987 season, and like most of my plans around here, it went sailing out the window. In fact, I am announcing today that the Orioles Victory Card (1987 Season Edition) is officially on hiatus. 

The reason revolves around a good reason. Over at the other place that I write at - Raw Charge - I've accepted the position of Interim Managing Editor. After a couple of seasons as Associate Manager I've stepped into a slightly higher position that will require a little more time on my part and I just can't be sure that I'll have the time to catch up with the posts around here.

I do have a couple of posts that are almost completed here so I'm not entirely abandoning The Hopeful Chase. Card trades are also still happening on almost a daily basis so I'll post about those as well. With 2020 baseball hopefully around the corner I'll be sharing my thoughts on the Orioles quest to win more than 10 games as well.

In the meantime, feel free to head over to Raw Charge to check out the work of our excellent team. I will be using the little power I've accumulated to slide more hockey card coverage than any non-sports card site should ever even think about. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Orioles Victory Card Number Twenty-Seven (1987 Season Edition): Getting behind and trying to catch up

Baltimore Orioles Victory #27: 9-2 over the Oakland A's

1992 Donruss Triple Play Cal Ripken Jr. Little Hotshots

With the sporting world on hold due to the novel coronavirus shutting down the world for a few months we here at The Hopeful Chase are going to our rain delay programming. For the last two seasons we've posted a baseball card following every Baltimore Orioles victory (I know, talk about the minimum commitment required). It's fun and keeps us writing about baseball and collecting. Rather than sit back and stare forlornly at the outside world we've decided to continue the series with a season from the past.  The season of choice - 1987. Please enjoy.


Welcome to the return of the lazy blogger. It's hard to believe that June is almost over and I've only posted a few times here. Well, today's post is going to be short as I try to catch up (based on the O's record in June of 1987 it won't be hard).

Let's update this post a little with how the 1987 Orioles are doing on their current homestand (at least by this timeline). The answer - not great. Despite finishing up May with a record number of home runs - 58 - their pitching has abandoned them after the West Coast trip.

Before Mike Boddicker (who else) stepped up to stop the losing streak, the Orioles starters a 9.00 ERA in the previous six games at home. Not a single starter made it out of the sixth inning and the staff as a whole had surrendered 49 runs in those six games while allowing opposing hitters a lofty .347 batting average. 

Scott McGregor, who had been booed off the mound after only lasting 2/3 of inning in his latest start, was the most glaring example of the Orioles pitching futility, drawing the ire of his General Manager: "I'm concerned about that guy out there tonight." Hank Peters was quoted as saying following McGregor's sub-par outing. In his last three starts the veteran lefty had compiled an ERA over 14.00 in just 8 1/3 innings. Not great.

The rookies (John Habyan, Eric Bell, and Jeff Ballard) all had rocky starts as well as they continued to learn their job at the highest level. Peters was working the phones looking for help since Rochester had been bled dry by the call-ups. Mike Flanagan was dealing with a sore arm and was weeks away from returning. It had gotten to the point that manager Cal Ripken, Sr. started entertaining the idea of having Dave Schmidt join the rotation. 

As the ERAs soared, the O's spot in the standings was dropping. Milwaukee leapfrogged them in the standings placing the Os in fourth place, now five games back of the Yankees. Things aren't going to get better.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Orioles Victory Card Number Twenty-Six: The high mark of the season

Baltimore Orioles Victory Number 26: 8-7 over the California Angels


1991 Topps Desert Shield Mark Williamson

With the sporting world on hold due to the novel coronavirus shutting down the world for a few months we here at The Hopeful Chase are going to our rain delay programming. For the last two seasons we've posted a baseball card following every Baltimore Orioles victory (I know, talk about the minimum commitment required). It's fun and keeps us writing about baseball and collecting. Rather than sit back and stare forlornly at the outside world we've decided to continue the series with a season from the past.  The season of choice - 1987. Please enjoy.

I hate to ruin the ending for you, but the 1987 Baltimore Orioles did not win the World Series. I'll give you a moment to recover... Not only that, but by the time August rolled around they wouldn't even be in contention. June is not a very good month for them (hence the reason I've dragged out the last few victories). However, on this night in May of 1987 it seemed all things were possible, and perhaps after a few years of laying dormant Orioles Magic had returned to Memorial Stadium.

This game started out nice enough for the Orioles, a few home runs early built a 5-1 lead and with Mike Boddicker on the hill, it should have been all over. Unfortunately, the Orioles ace faltered and wasn't able to make it out of the sixth inning. The Angels chipped away at the lead and tied it in the top of the ninth with a home run by Wally Joyner off of Ken Dixon who failed to pick up his sixth save of the season.

Dixon was almost tagged as the loser in the tenth when he surrendered a run-scoring single to Gary Pettis. However, Mike Young, who had been scuffling since returning from the injured list earlier in the month, led off the Orioles half of the inning with his first home run of the year. 

In the twelfth inning, the recently recalled Mark Williamson was able to entice Pettis into hitting a one-out ground ball to second base with two runners on. Instead of turning a conventional double play by throwing to shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr, Rick Burleson tried to tag the runner heading from first to second. That didn't work and the Angels scored a run while the O's were trying to catch Dick Schofield in a rundown. 

Poor execution of a routine play should lead to a loss. For the O's, who had been skating out of tough situations for the last two weeks, they had a little bit of luck left. Lee Lacy led off the bottom of the twelfth with a walk. Down 7-6, Mike Young stepped up to the plate and tried to lay down a bunt on the first pitch. He failed. Same thing on the second pitch. Another failure. Down 0-2, Young tried a different approach - he hit a walk-off home run. 

For the O's it was their sixth home run of the game and their 56th in the month of May (a Major League record) and they had their sixth win in a row as well as their fifth straight come-from-behind victory. They moved into a virtual tie with the Blue Jays for second place, just four games behind the Yankees. 

Unfortunately, this would be the high-water mark of the season for the team. Six games over .500 (26-20) would be the best record they would sport for the rest of the season. Within ten days they would be at .500. By the end of June they would be a remarkable 15 games UNDER .500 and 17 games behind. In the days before the wild card, their season was all but over. 

Of course, no one knew that at the time. For now, the future was looking good, the home runs would never stop and the pitching, patchwork as it might be, would be enough to keep them in contention (pay no attention to the fact that they had three rookies in the rotation and their current set of relievers had blown 14 of 24 save opportunities. Nah, that wasn't a giant red flag at all. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Orioles Victory Card Number Twenty-Five (1987 Season Edition): Catching up on the season

Baltimore Orioles Victory #25: 8-6 over the California Angels



2009 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions Nick Markakis Autograph

With the sporting world on hold due to the novel coronavirus shutting down the world for a few months we here at The Hopeful Chase are going to our rain delay programming. For the last two seasons we've posted a baseball card following every Baltimore Orioles victory (I know, talk about the minimum commitment required). It's fun and keeps us writing about baseball and collecting. Rather than sit back and stare forlornly at the outside world we've decided to continue the series with a season from the past.  The season of choice - 1987. Please enjoy.


It's been a little while since we've checked in with the 1987 Orioles to see how they're doing. Since the last check, they've kept winning. Back-to-back 4-3 wins over the Oakland A's finished off the sweep and led to A's manager Tony LaRusa tossing a chair following the last one. It finished off a West Coast trip that saw the Orioles go 8-2 and raise their road record to a league-best 18-9.

They returned home and picked up another victory as they beat the Angels 8-6. So things are running smoothly, right? After clawing their way back into the AL East race (following the win they were in third place, one game behind Toronto and four games behind the Yankees everything should be sunshine and roses. Not so much.

There were several indicators that the winning streak might be a bit misleading. For one thing, the bullpen was still a mess. Don Aase's shoulder wasn't getting any better, in fact he would go back on the DL prior to the win against California (welcome back Mark Williamson, hope you didn't unpack your bags in Rochester). The new guy, Tom Niedenfuer was struggling. Despite picking up a save against the Angels, his stat line wasn't great: 3 games, 4.2 innings, 6 hits, 3 earned runs, and 7 walks. 

That left Ken Dixon as the only reliable arm at the end of the day. Surprisingly, it's a role he adapted to quite well. After posting an 8.53 ERA and allowing 7 HR's in 19 innings as a starter he blossomed in the bullpen. In 12 appearances he posted a 2-1 record, picked up 5 saves and posted a 3.86 ERA. In the Sunday 4-3 win against Oakland all he did was strike out Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, and Luis Polonia with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth. Not bad.

Despite the success he wasn't happy in the role. He wanted to be in the rotation ("The saves are nice, but its victories I want"). Since his reassignment to the bullpen he saw the organization bring in two rookies (Jeff Ballard and John Habyan) to fill spots in the rotation and give no indication that Dixon would get a chance to rejoin the starters. Manager Ripken's philosophy was "why fix what's working?" and reinforced the fact that Dixon would be a reliever for the foreseeable future.

The rotation did get one of the veterans back as Scott McGregor started the game against California, but didn't make it out of the fourth inning (Habyan actually picked up the win, marking it three straight wins for Orioles rookies). Mike Flanagan was still on the sidelines dealing with his sore elbow. A soft-toss session went well, but it was still looking like weeks before he would join the team again.

Offensively things were still going well. Most of the order was still hitting (even Rick Burleson finally got in on the home run act, hitting his first against the Angels). During the historic home run streak there was one notable name missing - Cal Ripken, Jr.

After carrying the team offensively for most of the beginning of the year, the Iron Man had a horrible road trip. Hit hit 0 home runs on the trip, drove in only 3 runs and finished it in a 2-for-24 slump driving his average down from .324 to .294. As the season wore on he wouldn't recapture the magic he had over the first two months. He would finish with respectable power numbers 27 home  runs and 98 RBI while slashing .252/.333/.436. Perhaps the consecutive innings streak was taking a toll on him, I wonder if anyone would do something about that (FORESHADOWING!)?

So that's where the Orioles are at as of their 25th win of the season. Could this be the high point of the season?





Saturday, June 6, 2020

Orioles Victory Card Number Twenty-Four (1987 Season Edition): Eddie Murray hitches a ride around the stadium

Baltimore Orioles Victory #24: 4-3 over the Oakland A's


2019 Topps Update Eddie Murray Short Print Variation

With the sporting world on hold due to the novel coronavirus shutting down the world for a few months we here at The Hopeful Chase are going to our rain delay programming. For the last two seasons we've posted a baseball card following every Baltimore Orioles victory (I know, talk about the minimum commitment required). It's fun and keeps us writing about baseball and collecting. Rather than sit back and stare forlornly at the outside world we've decided to continue the series with a season from the past.  The season of choice - 1987. Please enjoy.


Ahh, short print variations. Love them or hate them, they are probably going to be cropping up for the foreseeable future in Topps flagship product and update series. Like a of things in this industry I can take or leave them. Usually, if I pull one they're on eBay before the pack wrapper is in the trash. Mr. Murray has a few scattered among the recent sets and I picked this one up off of eBay for a really good price the other day.

It features a rare smile of Murray smiling in Baltimore. It's based on a Getty Images photo that was taken on June 7th, 1998 prior to a game against the Atlanta Braves.  A year after he played his final game in the MLB and two seasons after he last suited up to play for the Orioles (he was in uniform in 1998, serving as a bench coach for Ray Miller) Murray finally had his number retired by the ballclub.

Why do I say finally? Well, because the ball club announced in 1989 that they would retire the number 33. That's right, with nine seasons left in his career the Orioles had already signaled that he would be remembered among the greats of the organization. If that wasn't awkward enough, the announcement came roughly three months after the Birds had traded his contract to the Dodgers for the slightly underwhelming return of Brian Holton, Juan Bell, and Ken Howell. 

The initial announcement wasn't handled well. John Steadman, longtime columnist for The Baltimore Sun, lambasted the decision calling it a "sham and an insult to players, past and present, who hold a deep affection for the city". He then made a case for the club retiring the number of Willie Miranda before Murray's 33. Murray, for his part, seemed indifferent at the announcement, offering up a "what do you want me to say?" when informed about it. The parting, as you can see, was a bit contentious.

Time heals almost all wounds, so by the time this photo was taken, past insults were forgotten. A 1996 trade had brought him back to Charm City for the stretch run and in time to hit his 500th home run in an Orioles home run. So it was all smiles and "Ed-die, Ed-die" chants that day as he toured the permiter of the field in a 1998 silver Corvette.

I would love to say that the 1998 Orioles showed Eddie Murray a tremendous outpouring of respect and prevailed against the Braves that day. They did not. Fellow Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux put on one of his clinics as he twirled a 4-hit shutout, facing just 30 hitters (with 20 of them hitting groundballs). It was the first time in 129 games the Os had been shut out and Maddux made it look easy. Doug Drabek, starting for the Orioles, made it look difficult as he gave up five runs in three innings. The Orioles would drop the game 9-0 in a somewhat quick-paced 2:25.

There was just a bit of star power in Camden Yards that day.. Five Hall-of-Famers (Maddux, Chipper Jones, Cal Ripken, Jr., Harold Baines, and Roberto Alomar) played in the game. Three more hallowed members (Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Bobby Cox) sat on the bench for the Braves while the Orioles had Mike Mussina and his future Hall-of-Fame self on the bench. Both GMs - John Schuerholz for Atlanta and Pat Gillick for the O's - have their names in the Pioneer/Builders wing in Cooperstown as well.

Eleven total future members had some hand in the game while already enshrined members Jim Palmer, Earl Weaver, and Frank Robinson took part in the pre-game ceremony (Brooks Robinson sent a video tribute). Including Murray, that makes fifteen (!) Hall-of-Famers at the Yard that day. Not too shabby for a random day in June.


For those wondering what's going on in the 1987 Orioles season - we'll get back to that with the next post. I realize that we are way off when it comes to dates (the Orioles 24th victory took place on May 25th) but trust me it'll all work out. There is a bit of a swoon coming up so I figured it would be better to spread things out a bit. Since it doesn't look like there will be 2020 baseball any time soon we'll be sticking to the 1987 season for a little while longer.


Thursday, June 4, 2020

Orioles Victory Card Number 23: Not all eBay transactions go horribly wrong

Baltimore Orioles Victory #23: 4-3 over the Oakland Athletics


1967 Topps Stu Miller

With the sporting world on hold due to the novel coronavirus shutting down the world for a few months we here at The Hopeful Chase are going to our rain delay programming. For the last two seasons we've posted a baseball card following every Baltimore Orioles victory (I know, talk about the minimum commitment required). It's fun and keeps us writing about baseball and collecting. Rather than sit back and stare forlornly at the outside world we've decided to continue the series with a season from the past.  The season of choice - 1987. Please enjoy.


One of the worst parts of social media, a means of communications that has a long and detailed list of faults, is that far more negative experiences are generated than positive.  To be fair (TO BE FAAAAIIIRR) that is a symptom more of human nature than social media itself. One of the few things I remember from orientation training at my currently furloughed place of employment is the stat that customers are 8 times more likely to share a negative experience than a positive one. What can we say, human beings love to bitch about stuff regardless of the platform.

So, as part of my desire to live a better, less negative life, I feel I should share some of the positives. An experience that started off rocky, but was resolved to a satisfactory way without the use of threats, curse words, or vague threats of negative feedback posting. 

Thanks to the sudden interest in Project 2020, my Paypal account is a little more flush than usual. With the financial windfall I've made a few donations and decided to tackle at least two cards off of my undisclosed, double-secret Top 10 list. Never published in any form (or at least that I can remember, who know maybe I did mention it on this space, or my previous blog - R.I.P to The Wasteland) the Top 10 has been around since at least 2009. I base that date on some of the cards that appeared on the original list, because that has to be the only reason they are on there. Even I'm not so random in my collecting habits to have some of the cards on there unless it's based on a product that was recent at the time.  I digress.

I put in a couple of "Best offer" bids on two cards that I wanted and waited for a response. They were both accepted and soon I received "Your item has shipped" notifications. Huzzah! (throws shot glass to the floor) Then, following my usual routine I promptly forgot about them. 

So it was a bit of a surprise when I was checking my eBay notifications to see a message pop up from one of the sellers that basically stated, "I'm so sorry, I've searched high and low and can't find the card you ordered."

"Ah-ha," I thought instantly, "We have ourselves a case of seller's remorse. This vile, no-good, beatnik has had second thoughts about the way I masterfully negotiated an amazing price and now want's to back out of the deal so that he may proceed to gouge some poor misguided, less-informed soul."

Because, after all, aren't we now preconditioned to find the devious in all things that don't go according to plan. There lie only con men and ne'er-do-wells on the dangerous open seas that is eBay. It can't be that a human being, susceptible to the facilities of their less-than-flawless origins could have made a simple mistake, right? So transgressions must be dealt with harshly and spare no quarter.

Luckily, I read the rest of his email before replying and saw that he was offering a full refund, or a credit at  higher amount for anything else that he had for sale. The credit he was offering was at a higher price than his original listing that he had on the card that I was buying, so if he was trying to put the squeeze on me his grifting skills were a little off. 

I checked his inventory and saw some cards that would look nice in the collection of an Orioles fan and took him up on his offer. He agreed, apologized again, and said that he would get them out right away. Again, me being me, forgot about them and went about my life.

Then the other day I received his shipment in the mail. Not only were the cards I ordered in there, he had through in a couple of more, including this Stu Miller that's older than me, because he felt bad about the condition of a couple of the cards that I had taken in exchange. 

I thanked him and added him as a seller to keep updated on with new listings and will most likely buy from again should he have something that catches my eye. In our communications he stated that he was a collector first and a seller second and I got the sense that he was sincere about the mistake.

It's so easy to get upset about things these days. Could I have ranted and raved about it? Could I have drawn him up against the eBay tribunal and had him arrested (that's how it works right). Sure, but in the end it's a freaking piece of cardboard. What's the point in getting upset? At the same time he could have just cancelled the order, or claimed it was lost in the mail and not had to have offered me anything. Acknowledgement and understanding go a long way to compromise and happy resolutions.

 ). On the same day we came to an agreement I found the original card from a different seller for about what I offered originally and with a $5 eBay coupon it ended up being less than what I would have paid. Coincidence? Most likely, but also a nice way to button up the whole situation. I've found that if you put out positive energy more likely than not you get it back (if you're dealing with people that have a conscience or an ounce of humanity

It may seem a bit pollyanna in these increasingly cynical times, but at the same token it does make life a little less stressful. It's hard, god-damn hard, work carrying around anger all the time and taking offense at the smallest, most insignificant, sometimes only perceived slights. Save that rage and anger for shit that matters.

Sorry to get off on a moral tangent there for a bit, I just wanted to share a little positivity in this sometimes negative hobby. There are more good people than bad out there, folks.