Hello and welcome to another post where I open up a pack of baseball cards and then write about it a little bit. If you find this type of writing to be boring I apologize; fortunately, there will be a real Mariners baseball game in just FOUR DAYS so hopefully you won't be bored for long. (I also did a similar post a few months ago if you dig this kind of thing and missed the first one; this IS far from a regular series, but sometimes a fella just feels like opening up some baseball cards. You know?) Like last time, the cards I'm opening were put out by Allen & Ginter. However, today I have a pack from 2014.
From top to bottom, position-wise in the pack:
#90 Roy Halladay
As a west coast baseball fan, it's sometimes easy for me to forget just how good Halladay was (he pitched against the M's less than once a year throughout his career) and also how long his reign of dominance lasted. He won the Cy Young award in both 2003 (with Toronto) and then again in 2010 with the Phillies. That's a seven-year span! Fun fact #1: There have been 1,338 qualified pitcher seasons so far in the 21st century. Of those, a pitcher has hurled 250+ innings only nine times. Two of those seasons belong to Halladay. Fun fact #2: Roy Halladay started 292 fewer games than Tom Glavine, but his fWAR trails Glavine's by just 1.7. Despite compiling "only" 203 wins during his 16-year career, Halladay has the the 27th highest fWAR for a pitcher in the live-ball era. He won't be eligible for the HOF for a few more years, but it'll be interesting to see how eager voters are to write his name down on their ballots.
#213 Allyson Felix
I love that Allen & Ginter intersperse a handful of non-baseball sports stars into their base sets of cards. There are so many athletes around the world that don't have boatloads of fame or make millions of dollar and this seems like a not bad way to honor them and their achievements. I remember watching Felix (Allyson, not King) at the Olympics in London, and I try to pay at least some attention to the World Championships because I have a good buddy who's a track coach at Seattle U, but it's easy for me to let track and field slip off of my radar. However, pulling this card has served as an excellent reminder that the Olympics aren't too far away. Only four more months! Among competitors from the US, only Carl Lewis and Ray Ewry have won more Olympic gold medals in —barring injury, it seems as though she's pretty much a shoe-in to make the team and attend her fourth Olympics.than Felix has. (She's a pretty big deal.) Felix will be participating in the US Olympic Team Trials next month as she attempts to qualify for the 2016 games in Rio
#151 James Paxton
Hey! A Mariner! But this card makes me sad... On the one hand, I hope that Felix, Kuma, Miley, Tai, and Karns all start 30+ games this year while putting up career numbers and obliterating the AL. But I also hope that Paxton gets another shot this year, stays healthy, and finds prolonged success in the majors. What a conundrum. Regardless, please have a good, injury-free 2016, James. You really need it...
#265 Sam Calagione - mini parallel
A baseball card about a guy who makes beer? This seems very fitting. (If you're new to Lookout Landing, we have some beer enthusiasts on staff.) Like the "World's Athletes" card above, Allen & Ginter also have a few "Personalities" cards distributed throughout this set. The text on the back of the card:
Sam Calagione was working at a New York City bar that served craft beer when he got the itch to give brewing a try. The result was Dogfish Head Brewery, which he founded in 1995 as the smallest in the country. Almost two decades later, the Delaware fixture is a big name in the burgeoning business of craft brewing. Calagione eschews traditional marketing, instead allowing off-centered beer lovers to spread the word about their off-centered ales.
I have had a bunch of different Dogfish Head beers. I think my favorite is either their 90 Minute IPA (a fairly obvious choice) or their saison. If they make something that you find to be particularly palatable, please share it with me down in the comments. I know they brew quite the variety.
Ha Long Bay - Natural Wonder insert
Hey. An insert! It's always exciting when you run across one of these. Once again, we have a card that turns it's attention away from baseball and focuses on something else—this time that something else is one of the many natural wonders of our planet. I have never been to Vietnam, but the Wikipedia article about Ha Long Bay makes it sounds like an incredibly beautiful place. Also, Look. at. these. pictures. Damn. The text on the back of the card:
Viewed from above, Ha Long Bay is a work of art. The Vietnam bay is striking from sea level, too, with almost 2,000 limestone and schist island (about half of them named). It's a natural canvas that gives Ha Long stature among the world's most beautiful bays.
#317 Paul Goldschmidt
What a great way to end this pack. Goldschmidt is probably my current favorite non-Mariners baseball player. My girlfriend is a big D'backs fan and we watch almost as many Arizona games as we do M's games. As such, I've had ample opportunity to come to appreciate just how good Goldy is. Over the last three seasons, only Mike Trout (27.5), Josh Donaldson (22.9), and Andrew McCutchen (21.1) have put up higher fWARs than Goldschmidt (18.0). Goldy is incredibly consistent with the bat; his wRC+ since 2013 is 159 and his lowest single-month wRC+ during that span was 112 (last August). No extended slumps/rough patches for this guy. He's also more than solid with the glove at first base and is no slouch when it comes to racing around the basepaths (he's averaged 16 SB per season since 2012). He's the definition of a complete player and is so fun to watch. If you get a chance to tune into a Diamondbacks game this year, I recommend that you do so.
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Only three baseball cards in that pack. I suppose I could be a little disappointed about this, but the other cards/inserts that Allen & Ginter include are so fun/interesting that I don't even mind. If you haven't opened a pack of cards for awhile, I'd encourage you to consider doing so. It's still a ton o' fun; even when you're not a kid anymore.
Just four more days 'til baseball, friends. Go M's.