About two days before my birthday my son stopped what he was doing and asked me why I like baseball so much. I was a little surprised by the question, and kinda fumbled for a “I just do” kind of answer rather then attempting to woe a four year old with some Giamatti quote. It seemed to appease him for the time being, and I’ve already been thinking about how to answer this question should it come up again. But I was quite charmed at the idea that my son was paying attention and knew about things that I liked.
Now move ahead to my birthday itself. I had been kinda obtuse about things that I wanted for my birthday, not on purpose, but just because I kept getting distracted when I had to go out and find what I wanted. I can tell family about baseball card boxes that I want and hope they find a good deal, or I can send them the link on my own and know they did alright. It’s easier to go that second route. But I kept forgetting to do it all the same.
We’ve been trying to instill in our son and our daughter the importance of gift giving over receiving. Of course, we are talking about a four year old boy and a two year old girl, so it’s a challenge to get that point across. For a while our son would argue that his then 1 year old sister would love a new truck or dinosaur to play with, and that she would probably let him play with it, too. While these were probably true statements, it took a little guidance to get him to think a little more clearly about what she might like. And he’s done a much better job as he grows. At times he’ll even take what allowence money he’s earned and get something for his little sister if he finds something she might like. He’s pretty great like that.
So I shouldn’t have been surprised when my wife came home from taking the kids birthday shopping for me with a smile on her face and a story to share. According to my wife, my son knew exactly what he wanted to get for me. After I unwrapped a random pack of 2011 Topps Heritage, another 2011 Topps Value box, and a blaster of Opening Day (which again I had thought about for myself but often passed on), my wife told me that he had made a bee line for the card aisle and picked everything out by himself. The blaster I’m saving for a time that he and I can open it together (I got him excited by the glow in the dark cards), but the other stuff was free for me to open at my leisure.
So here’s some of what my son and daughter got me for my birthday. First, from the best of the stray Heritage pack:
Pretty pedestrian fare for the most part, but then Joey Votto comes in and saves the pack. Yeah it’s a goofy looking photo, and yes, I already have one from a trade that I need to post on, but still, it’s Joey freakin’ Votto. Joey hit a key home run in yesterday’s victory of the Cardinals on a 3-0 pitch. You have to be pretty good to swing at one of those. Even better to hit it 402 feet. Even if it was off of Ryan Franklin.
Next, from the five series 1 packs that inhabited the value box, we have:
With all the other Reds that made it into series 1, I was quite surprised to see Aaron Harang’s inclusion as well. Last year he was befuddling awful, a 1.59 WHIP, a 5.32 ERA, and a I think the highest BB:K rate of his career. The back of this card makes reference to the event that seemed to bring about his downfall – a four inning relief appearance in San Diego back in 2008 in which he absolutely dominated. After that, Harang was never himself again.
Aaron was the one bright spot on the Reds from 2005-2007, the one guy in the rotation that you actually looked forward to pitching because you knew he was the best chance the Reds had at winning. In 2006 for example, he led the league with sixteen wins, 1/5 of the total number of Reds wins. He also led the league in strikeouts and complete games. Yes, Aaron Harang, did that I tell you. And how many Cy Young votes did he garner that year? How about none.
As 2010 came to a close, however, it was clear the Arron would not spend 2011 in a Reds jersey, and the Harangatang has moved on to play for the very team that led to his destruction, the San Diego Padres. Only they found something that the Reds pitching staff couldn’t. And now Harang has started the season 4-0 with an ERA under 2.00, and his BB:K rate right back near his career norms.
I thought this was a nice tribute card by Topps for all that he had done for the Reds (like they would care, right?), but it’s become clear that Aaron should be back in next year’s set as well, and maybe even end up on one of those league leader cards once again.
That went on for a bit, didn’t it? Moving on…
I counted these the other day, and I have 1/33 of the shiny set. This one puts me all the way to eleven. I’ll admit to not liking the shiny cards at first, but the brighter the background, the better looking they are, and no one I’ve seen has a brighter background then this guy (see what I did there?). I’m sure things will ramp back up when he makes his return from visiting Tommy John. A lot of guys like to take time off to visit that guy. Must be for pitching tips or something.
I don’t know why I was surprised, but Mickey’s card is number seven in the Topps 60 set. And I pulled two of those Buchholz mini’s from the five packs, making it the second time I’ve pulled doubles from these packs. I’m collecting both of these sets, by the way, if you’ve got some extras you want to throw my way. I may break down and chase some of the other inserts, too, as my number of cards in each of them continues to grow as well.
Either there are more Reds in packs of baseball cards these days, or I’m just getting luck in hitting them. These came from the two Heritage packs in the value box, by the way, and both are key to the Reds hopes of repeating as division champs. It was much easier to recognize Jay-bird the second time I pulled him from a pack, but I’m very confused as to Hernandez’s pose there. That’s just not a natural follow through at all.
Most of the rest of the Heritage packs were pretty uninspired stuff, and I’m at a point where I’ve got enough of these to think about chasing the set. That decision can be made later, though. Right now, I’ll share the best and last card of the packs:
Yep, a case hit out of a value pack box. I’m not sure if these things are just loaded, or I’ve had some good luck with the two that I’ve opened. I do know the store is currently out of them, and that it’s probably for the best that I don’t press my luck at this point. When I showed this to my son, he just wanted to rub on the quarter. He’s still not ready to hear about how great Kilebrew was in 1962.
Normally I’d offer this up for trade, but I’m hanging on to this one. As I get older, it will serve as a great reminder of the time my four-year old son knew exactly what I wanted for my birthday. Even if he doesn’t understand why.