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1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card sells for over $1 million

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There are few vintage baseball cards, if any, that rival the T206 Honus Wagner in rarity and value, but a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card finally broke the million-dollar mark last week after fetching a staggering $1,135,250 price through Heritage Auctions.

According to Ryan Cracknell of Beckett Media, the 1952 card was kept in near-pristine condition and could be traced back to the 75 Mantle cards acquired by baseball card dealer Alan Rosen in 1986. Other 1952 Mantle cards in slightly worse condition commanded prices ranging from $155,000 to $501,000. Even after hitting $1 million on the market, however, the 1952 card doesn’t come close to touching the records set by the T206 Wagner, which sold for $2.8 million in 2007, $2.1 million in 2013, and $3.1 million in October of 2016.

Heritage Auctions praised the card’s vibrant coloring and remarkable shelf life, two factors that would appear to have boosted the card’s value over the years.

The card derives from the famous “Rosen Find” of pristine 1952 Topps cards that turned the hobby upside down in the mid-1980’s. Since then, it has lived a lonely, uneventful life, aging as little in its post-Rosen days as it did in its pre-find existence.

Beyond the stunning lack of wear, the card boasts the boldest hues we’ve encountered from the entirety of the 1952 Topps breed, an attribute that must be seen in person to be truly appreciated. Centering is well within desirable parameters, and surfaces are as clean as an operating table. The margin of difference between this example and the multi-million dollar trio at the top of the population pyramid is nearly too small to perceive.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.