Rumbling Into The Post Season

The AL Central Champion Minnesota Twins wound up with 101 wins, the season record for team HRs, a tie for the season record for Total Bases, and their offense finished in the top three in several MLB stats. Rookie manager Rocco Baldelli has a lot to be proud of, and fans throughout Twins Territory have reason to be excited.

Looking at the playoffs, there are several players I wish were around to participate — Byron Buxton (IL, out for season), Michael Piñeda (suspended), Sam Dyson (IL, what the heck?!) — or aren’t at 100% — Max Kepler, Luis Arraez, Kyle Gibson, Ehrie Adrianza, CJ Cron, Marwin Gonzalez — but the season is long, and every team has to deal with intangibles. With some good play and a favorable bounce, things will work out.

Before the postseason starts, here are some of my latest pickups:


clockwise, from top left: 2019 Topps Major League Materials #MLM-BB Byron Buxton (jersey); 2019 Topps Major League Materials #MLM-MS Miguel Sano (jersey); 2018 Topps Major League Materials #MLM-JM Joe Mauer (jersey); 2018 Topps Major League Materials Black #MLM-JM Joe Mauer [26/99] (jersey); 2019 Topps ’84 Topps 150th Anniversary #84R-JM Joe Mauer [136/150] (jersey); 2016 Topps Gypsy Queen #GQR-TH Torii Hunter (jersey); 2019 Topps Retro Hat Logo #RHLP-JM Joe Mauer (manu-patch); 2018 Topps Major League Materials Black #MLM-MS Miguel Sano [36/99] (jersey)

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CSI: Duryea, PA [2019 Topps Stadium Club]

Time to take another dive into the ongoing baseball card detective work that I’ve posted on this site. Topps has been sticking the Twins with the standard garden-variety card photos for a while now, but this year’s Stadium Club changes that. Here are two Twins cards where the exact play can be identified.

Card number one has Willians Astudillo making a tag at home against a sliding opponent:


2019 Topps Stadium Club #108 Willians Astudillo

Turns out, it wasn’t even a challenge for MagUidhir at WGOM.

First off, the visible clues:
1) Twins are in away uniforms.
2) Player sliding into home has a name starting with “O” and a uniform number starting with “6”
2) Opponents are wearing blue helmets.

The player is the Royals first baseman Ryan O’Hearn, #66. Willians Astudillo caught a limited number of games in 2018, and only two of them were in KC. This game last year at Kansas City on September 14th featured O’Hearn trying to score in the bottom of the 8th on a double by Jorge Bonifacio to Kevin Grossman, with Jorge Polanco cutting off and throwing home, and he was…out! Here’s the video.

It was a pretty sad ballgame, with the Twins taking a 4-3 lead into the 9th, only to have Trevor Hildenberger give up the one-out tying run and then a grand slam to Salvador Perez.


The second card features Jake Cave reaching over the outfield wall:


2019 Topps Stadium Club Red Autograph #SCA-JCA Jake Cave

This time around Beau nailed the play, and I don’t even know what clues he worked off of.

Visible clues:
1) It’s at Target Field.

On the very first pitch of this game against the Orioles on July 6th last year, Tim Beckham lifted a drive to centerfield of Lance Lynn. Video (spoiler alert: he caught it)

The Twins won the game 6-2 on a well-pitched game in which the Twins scored three in the first, Kepler went deep in the fourth, and they never looked back.


Well done, Topps, you really nailed it with Stadium Club this time around. Here are a couple other really fine photos from this year’s set:


2019 Topps Stadium Club #128 Jose Berrios


2019 Topps Stadium Club Red #179 Max Kepler

What’s With The Homers?

Currently the Twins have the best record in baseball, and are on a record pace for HR in a season. How are they doing it? Beats me! Is it MLB’s first “millennial” manager, Rocco Baldelli, or their pitching coach Wes Johnson who came directly to the Twins from college ball? Is it the handful of offseason signings, including Jonathan Schoop, CJ Cron, Martín Pérez, Nelson Cruz, and Marwin Gonzalez? I’m sure it’s a combination of these and other things contributing to their success, and as Twins fans we’re hanging on for the ride.

Below are some GU and AU of Twins off the current roster (with Brad Radke as an added bonus) and some of their prospects, including first cards for me of Trevor Larnach and Brusdar Graterol.


clockwise, from top left: 2017 Topps Update 30th Anniversary #87A-ERS Eddie Rosario (auto); 2019 Topps Tier One Prime Performers #PPA-ERO Eddie Rosario [084/299] (auto); 2018 Topps Heritage Clubhouse Collection #CCR-MS Miguel Sano (jersey); 2018 Bowman Best #B18-FR Fernando Romero (auto); 2018 Bowman Chrome Prospects #CPA-ZL Zack Littell (auto); 2018 Topps Archives Fan Favorites #FFA-BR Brad Radke (auto); 2018 Topps Chrome #RA-FR Fernando Romero (auto); 2018 Topps Allen & Ginter #MFR-MS Miguel Sano (jersey)

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30th Anniversary Vacation – Kauai (pt 3)

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The next day after breakfast we drove to the Kauai Plantation, where we had scheduled a four hour tour which included riding on the plantation’s railroad, feeding some of the animals living there, lunch, and a hike where we tasted a multitude of different fruits (and picked some to take back to the condo). I struck up a conversation with Lou the engineer, and hearing that I worked in the industry, he invited me to ride with him in the 1948 GE locomotive for the return leg of the trip.


Kauai Plantation Railroad

The following day we instead directed ourselves to the north side of the island. Our first stop was to see the beautiful and photogenic Kilauea Lighthouse.


Kilauea Lighthouse

We continued on until we could drive no further — the highway was closed to all but locals due to landslides from last year’s heavy rainstorms. It happened to be right at Hanalei Beach Park on Hanalei Bay. It was very pleasant walking along the bay thanks to the nearby mountain cloud cover shading us from the direct sun.
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30th Anniversary Vacation – Kauai (pt 2)

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Upon our arrival to Kauai, we drove the short distance north to our Kapa’a condo, and soon learned the “Kapa’a Crawl” — named after the unfortunate traffic pattern in the area. The weather was a bit overcast and breezy, and we were happy to find groceries and eating establishments just across the street, so we did a little shopping and set up our home away from home.

The next morning we made our first outing on Kauai, driving the hour or so to the 18-mile scenic route along Waimea Canyon. Two words: Oh wow!


Waimea Canyon, with Waipo’o Falls

There were several places where one could pull off the road and view the huge vista stretching from the north to the south, with most featuring the Waipo’o Falls somewhere in view. We went to the very end to Kalalau Lookout, but the cloud cover just gave us ghostly glimpses of the tops of the landscape on either side.

At this point I should probably mention the ubiquitous fowl of Kauai: chickens! There are banty chickens anywhere you look on the island: at high elevations, at the beaches, along roads, in parking lots — you name it. You can read about the chickens and Hurricane Iniki here.
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30th Anniversary Vacation – Hawai’i redux (pt 1)

As our 30th anniversary approached, and as Southwest Airlines rumors spread of flights to Hawaii in the future, Mo began planning a reprise trip of our earlier visit the Hawaiian islands. In this case, we beat Southwest there.

While our trip five years ago was to the Big Island and Oahu, this time around we are returning to the Big Island and then visiting Kauai for the first time. After a rough flight out, we arrived in Kona, picked up our rental car, and checked in to our condo. We already knew the area a bit as it was only a couple blocks from the Royal Kona Resort where we had stayed previously.


the view from our Kona condo

We had a bit of déjà vu when again my tour of the summit of Mauna Kea and evening stargazing was thwarted by overcast/bad weather.
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Holiday Goodies

When the holidays come around, it means Black Friday sale from COMC, trades generated from The Bench, hitting eBay for reasonable value, and all of this means more to display here.

Among several of the AU and GU collected, there is included:

  • new Twins AU to the list: Al Worthington, Bill Plies, LaMonte Wade, Ryan Jeffers, Blayne Enlow
  • the 71st and 72nd unique Glen Perkins AU card (the Twin with the highest total in my collection)
  • another Killebrew AU as well as a couple reprint AU of Twins players of long ago
  • a printing plate and another letter manu-patch

And there are still others in the pipeline.

goodies1
clockwise, from top left: 2017 Topps Heritage Real Ones #ROA-AW Al Worthington (auto); 2014 Topps Heritage Real One #ROA-BP Bill Plies (auto); 1999 Upper Deck Retro Inkredible #HK Harmon Killebrew (auto); 2014 Topps Opening Day #ODA-GP Glen Perkins (auto); 2007 Upper Deck Exquisite Rookie Signatures Common Numbers #CN-LC Alexi Casilla w/LaRoche [20/25] (dual auto); 2013 Bowman Platinum Prospects Ice #BP-NR Nate Roberts [05/10] (auto); 2007 Topps Co-Signers Hyper Silver Red #117 Glen Perkins [72/75] (auto); 2014 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects printing plate Magenta #CDP93 Michael Cederoth [1/1] (plate)

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