Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Trading Post #21: Nachos Grande

In advance of a small flat-rate box containing my winnings from his Topps High Tek group break, Chris at Nachos Grande sent a trade package in return for some Barry Larkin cards and other Reds.

Speaking of the Reds, I ran across a fun fact about them on Reddit this morning. Once Ichiro suits up for the Marlins this spring, the Reds will be the only Major League team that hasn't fielded a Japanese player.

2000 Impact #75 Masato Yoshii
As luck would have it, Chris included a card of Masato Yoshii, who happens to be the player that took the Rockies off that list in 2000. Mac Suzuki and Kazuo Matsui have also spent some time in a Rockies uniform, and Kaz was an integral part of the 2007 Rockies, who even became the first Japanese player to hit a grand slam in the MLB postseason.

I didn't follow baseball too closely in 2000, so I can't say that I remember Yoshii's time in Denver. 2000 Fleer Impact isn't going to win any design awards, either. But given how baseball-crazed Japan is, it's surprising that it's taken this long for Miami and Cincinnati to get on board.

Another set that doesn't get much love is 2007 Topps, but I happen to like a bit more than most.

2007 Topps Chrome #99 Jeff Francis
That card is actually from 2007 Topps Chrome, but with those black borders it might win the award for the least-shiny shiny card in my collection. Jeff Francis is another international citizen that's played for the Rockies. Like Larry Walker, Francis is from British Columbia, Canada.

There was a lot of late-model Upper Deck in this package, which tends to coincide with the Rockies two most recent playoff appearances.

2007 Upper Deck #672 Garrett Atkins
Garrett Atkins was an important part of the Rockies lineup in both 2007 and 2009, and it looks like he just made contact in this Coors Field shot. That's probably former Rockies manager Clint Hurdle in the dugout, with his signature hands-on-hips stance. Neither Topps nor Upper Deck gave us their best designs in 2007, but unlike many other years, I can identify both of them at a glance.

There were a couple of mid-to-late '90s cards as well, including one from a set I had seen before...

2000 Topps Stars #13 Jeff Cirillo
...and one I hadn't.

1995 Topps D3 #54 Walt Weiss
Cirillo's Topps Stars card is actually from 2000, but it's a brand that I rarely run across. I like that shadow outline behind his photo, and the subtle raised parallel lines that frame the card. And that might be the best scan of of a foil card that my trusty flatbed Canon has been able to pull off.

Weiss's card is from a brand called Topps Dimension III, commonly called D3. I'm a bit of a video gamer, so D3 in my universe refers to Blizzard's Diablo 3 game, which has provided many hours of entertainment. It's less of a click-fest than previous versions of the franchise, and they're still releasing new patches and content years after its initial release.

But I digress. As it turns out, Topps D3 was a pretty small set at only 59 base cards. Clearly, it's meant to be a competitor to Sportflix and UC3. It uses lenticular printing to deliver a 3D effect, though without the illusion of motion that Sportflix provides. Sportflix seems to have had a lock on this type of card in the mid-90s, as the product flopped and Topps didn't even bother to release a second series.

Finally, there were a few cards from the Munnatawket mini set based on 2008 Allen & Ginter. I've noticed that many other bloggers who trade with Chris seem to end up with some.

Munnatawket Custom #3 Spider-Man
What the heck are these things anyway? They're a set of custom cards created by a guy named Ryan, who is a friend of Chris'. Topps has nothing to do with these; they're solely the creation of a devoted fan who happens to manufacture baseball bats under the name "Munnatawket Lumber Co." And they could totally pass for the real thing.

Apparently, there are close to 100 different cards out there, and there's even a market for them on eBay. Numerous bloggers have posted about these before, and to be honest I even had one filed away with the rest of my 2008 A&G cards until I took a closer look.

I'm not sure I'd ever have the devotion to make my own cards. Hiflew at Cards from the Quarry does an Archives-like custom set every year called Quarry Unlimited, though as far as I know, they're digital-only and he's never had them printed. So far, he's used designs from 1986 Topps, 1977 Topps, 1988 Score, and just announced the 2015 set, based on the 1976 Hostess design.

I have plenty of traditionally manufactured baseball cards, but these customs are really pretty cool. I have to hope that Topps' or MLB's copyright hounds won't spoil all the fun, but regardless, if collectors don't like what the "real" companies are putting out, they'll just take matters into their own hands.

Munnatawket Custom #26 Troy Tulowitzki
And I will point out (Topps, are you listening?) that colored parallels are conspicuously absent in the Munnatawket custom mini set.

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