This is my first time participating in a Blog Bat Around. I always find them interesting, but at the same time, I always feel too overwhelmed with my own blog content to participate. During this short blogging break, I decided to step back and reevaluate my blogging habits. When I first started blogging, I never intended my blog to a "look what I got" blog. I wanted to use cards to tell a story or share my thoughts on the larger (mostly sports) world. So I'm going to put a little less pressure on myself to show everything that I add to my collection and try to focus on other thoughts. With that aim in mind, I thought Matt at Diamond Jesters had a great idea for a Blog Bat Around.
The concept here is a 9-card page to act as a yearbook for the 2019 baseball year. The challenge was to use a Flagship card, five other base cards (without repeating designs), two inserts/parallels, and one wild card to be used as you please. Matt is allowing us to use cards we don't own, which made this possible, because, frankly, I'm not sure I would be able to do it with my limited 2019 purchases.
- 2019 Topps #159 Minute Maid Park: This card was chosen because this was the site of every World Series victory this year. In a historical turn of fate, it was the visiting Nationals who won each of those games. Meanwhile, the Astros took every game at Nationals Park. It was the first time in history that the road team won every World Series game and the first championship in Washington Nationals history.
- 2019 Topps Archives #200 Bryce Harper: The big storyline to start the season was the offseason stove going frigid. Even the biggest-name free agents remained unsigned until very late in the game. Harper represents the entire group here. He didn't sign his megadeal with the Phillies until after players had reported for Spring Training.
- 2019 Stadium Club #72 Shane Bieber: I feel like this is a waste of Stadium Club representation, spurning the glorious photography of the set in favor of the back. But it was the back of this card that held significance. Not only did Shane Bieber earn a spot in my PC as this year's ASG MVP, but this card thrust baseball cards briefly into the limelight. Topps's error, referring to Shane Bieber as "Justin," made headlines in the media.
- 2019 Topps Gold Label #31 Pete Alonso: The young guys made a lot of noise this year, but none more than Pete Alonso. He set the rookie record for home runs, finishing with 53 and surpassing recent phenom Aaron Judge.
- 2019 Topps Total #293 Nelson Cruz: This card was chosen for a few reasons. First, it was the return of Topps Total, which is a favorite among collectors. Second, Topps made Total an on-demand set, and I find it hard to talk about the current trends in the hobby without mentioning those kinds of products. Third, Nelson Cruz was chosen as a representation of the juiced ball storyline from this year. Balls were leaving the park at a record pace--especially in Minnesota, where the Twins set the Major League record for most home runs by a single team in a season.
- 2019 Topps Allen & Ginter #57 Edgar Martinez: We can't talk about the year in baseball without mentioning the newest Hall of Fame inductees. This year, the voters opened their hearts (and the doors of the Hall) to the DH, electing Edgar Martinez and Harold Baines. Congratulations also to Lee Smith, Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, and Mike Mussina.
- 2019 Topps Opening Day 150 Years of Fun #YOF-9 Ernie Banks: This year, MLB celebrated the 150th anniversary of pro baseball. Topps produced several insert sets to commemorate the anniversary, but I wanted to get back to the roots of the game. Namely, it's a game. So I chose the 150 Years of fun set. Let's have some fun! Ernie Banks famously had fun playing, and I'm a Cubs fan, so he gets to represent the set here.
- 2019 Donruss Dominators #D1 Mike Trout: Another season, another year that Mike Trout proves he's the best out there. He dominates. He gets a Dominators card. And a pretty card it is.
- 2019 Topps Fire Fired Up Blue #FIU-3 Javier Baez: I reserved my wild card for my favorite 2019 card added to my collection. "El Mago" is my favorite current player. The blue parallel looks marvelous with the Cubs. This card, along with Baez's style of play, has me fired up!
So there is my attempt to capture a year of baseball, both on the field in the card collecting hobby, in nine cards. Thanks for the great blog idea, Matt!