Monday, November 2, 2015

And now we wait.

The end of the World Series is always a bittersweet moment. It marks the end of what's usually a pretty amazing month of baseball, filled with material we'll see on the highlight reel for years to come. A new champion is crowned, or a dynasty continues. Heroes and goats (and more goats) add their names to the history books.

But it also means that winter is coming, and that it's time to stare out the window and wait for spring.

So why not take a look at the best of a box of 2011 Opening Day, part of a giant order from Dave and Adam's Card World that arrived over a year ago? Maybe it'll take the sting out of the long stretch of Not Baseball before us.

2011 Topps Opening Day Blue #182 Troy Tulowitzki /2011
Who knew that when this box arrived, Troy Tulowitzki had less than a year remaining as a Rockie? While this card foreshadowed this year's ALCS, it's simply a great action shot from an interleague series in May 2010. I don't recognize that particular Royals player, but perhaps he's now in possession of his own World Series ring.

The Blue parallels found in Opening Day mark the lone appearance of foil in the set, which extends to the serial number on the back. Unlike flagship's gold parallels which have used black serial numbers for several years now, these Opening Day parallels kept the gold lettering.

It's just one little touch that makes me really like this brand.

2011 Topps Opening Day #60 Aroldis Chapman (RC)
Of course, the base cards lack foil, unusual for the past couple decades of Topps products until this year (not counting the retro sets, of course). I don't mind foil, although the scans sure come out great without it.

I am pretty sure that this photo of Chapman was taken in Coors Field. Of course he has his away jersey on, the third base seats are in shadow, typical for a a late summer day game at Coors Field (at least in the later innings when a guy like Chapman would be on the mound), and the red Sports Authority logo behind his left leg can be found on the Coors Field tarp cover, which is kept along the third base wall.

They're little details that require some detective work, but I'm confident in that conclusion.

2011 Topps Opening Day #174 Buster Posey
2011 really doesn't seem that long ago, but hard-throwing Aroldis Chapman has the Rookie Card logo on his card, and Posey a tiny, tiny Topps Rookie Cup in the upper right. These two are pretty much veterans now. Chapman and his Reds have made the postseason twice, and Posey's earned three rings and an MVP award since then.

Time flies, and always seems to be throttling up too.

2011 Topps Opening Day #96 James Shields
There's been lots of buzz about 2015 Update lately, and while I haven't picked any up yet, I've seen a few posts about sparkle variations.

If you look closely at Shields' card above, you won't find a sparkle. Only a little star in the Rays logo that looks just like one.

2011 Topps Opening Day #193 Trevor Cahill
A lot of these guys have moved teams since 2011. Cahill's been with the Diamondbacks, Braves, and Cubs in that short time. But Topps managed to get him in an A's throwback uniform, an outfit that wouldn't be out of place on the Jamaican track team.

2011 Topps Opening Day #123 Stephen Drew
Stephen Drew wears the pinstripes now, but I always liked this card of him rounding third at Wrigley. Unlike gritty guys like Mark Grace and Brad Miller, Drew wears batting gloves. His ungloved hands indicate that he was already on base when he had the opportunity to head home. It's a fairly leisurely trot from the looks of it, so I'm guessing he was RBI'd in this scenario, to verb a noun.

2011 Topps Opening Day #204 Carlos Beltran
"Tatooine" cards are fairly uncommon, but they turn up from time to time. Top-down shots give the best opportunity to end up with one. In this well-timed photo, Beltran is ready to wallop one off a Diamondbacks pitcher. That's probably Miguel Montero behind the plate, who, like Beltran, isn't on the same team anymore. Montero's a Cub, Beltran's a Yankee, and both made the playoffs this year.

A quick side note, especially since Star Wars will soon begin its next chapter. From time to time, I run across articles which point out that finding an entire desert planet (which our all-dirt "Tatooine cards" refer to), or an ice planet, or a forest planet, or even a city planet is pretty unlikely, at least if you assume it can support life. It works very well on screen to establish location, but it's a bit simplistic when you consider how many ecosystems even our little blue planet has.

But that doesn't make Tatooine cards any less awesome.

2011 Topps Opening Day Mascots #M-11 Junction Jack
Even the Mascots can have Tatooine cards. Fortunately, the lovable Orbit returned to the Astros a few years ago, one of the best recent transactions any team in the Majors has made. If nothing else you saw on Halloween gave you nightmares, Junction Jack just might.

2011 Topps Opening Day Mascots #M-8 Dinger
If you've read this blog for a while, you know that I absolutely love Opening Day insert sets. Dinger usually makes an appearance in the Mascots set, and he's about to slingshot a free t-shirt to a lucky fan in the crowd.

Tougher than snagging a foul ball, if you ask me.

2011 Topps Opening Day Stars #ODS-8 Joey Votto
3D Opening Day Stars cards are a favorite of mine, and of the half-dozen or so in this box, I thought Votto's 3D image worked the best. Not that you can see that in the scan.

Votto absolutely lost it a couple months ago when he was ejected for arguing balls and strikes, which made for one of the better highlights of the final month of the regular season. I wouldn't mind seeing a card of that incident, or even a whole insert set of ejections. Picture it: Votto, most of the Royals pitching staff, Earl Weaver, Milton Bradley, etc.... It would be epic.

2011 Topps Opening Day Spot the Error #6 Ubaldo Jimenez
Though this insert set didn't last, Topps tried out a "what's wrong with this picture?" theme on ten cards. Both sides have copyright legalese and logos, so you can't really tell the front from the back, but one side contains an unedited picture, and the other a version with an alteration. Ubaldo Jimenez pitching atop a tiny patch of dirt is clearly the "error" here. A few are blatantly obvious, like Jose Bautista missing his bat, but some are pretty subtle, like a disembodied catchers mitt on the edge of a card being changed to a standard glove on David Ortiz's card, or Buster Posey's bat missing the knob.

Pinnacle used to run ads in Beckett along these lines, and they'd send you a redemption card if you wrote to them with a list of all the errors (and a SASE). That's how I got this Alex Rodriguez card, long before he gained notoriety and a season-long ban.

1995 Score Contest Redemption #AD1 Alex Rodriguez
Worth the price of a couple 32-cent stamps, if you ask me.

2011 Topps Opening Day Presidential First Pitch #PFP-9 John F. Kennedy
An insert set of Presidential first pitches is perfect for the Opening Day brand, predating this year's First Pitch insert set by a few years. This grainy photo of President Kennedy was taken before the 1962 All-Star game in Washington, D.C.

Presidents throwing the first pitch from the actual mound is a fairly recent development. For a long time, they simply stood up in the stands and fired a ball out. I'm sure the Secret Service is just wild about the new trend of having the Leader of the Free World® standing in the center of an open field.

2011 Topps Opening Day Presidential First Pitch #PFP-8 George W. Bush
But President Bush's appearance on the mound at Yankee Stadium for Game 3 of the 2001 World Series was one of the highlights of his political career, a moment that he described as "by far, the most nervous moment of my presidency."

2011 Topps Opening Day Stadium Lights #UL-3 Robinson Cano
You saw a card from the Stadium Lights set long ago on this blog, but I like it so much that I thought I'd bring it back. There's a slight texture on the front, and on this one in particular, one of the best examples of the (new) Yankee Stadium facade ever to grace a baseball card. And that's saying something, since it appeared as a background on a ton of cards in the '60s and '70s.

Cano's new home in Seattle is a bit less iconic. For me, it would be hard to top wearing the pinstripes under the lights in the Bronx. Cano's had that experience, as has President Bush (in an honorary sense, anyway), for that matter.

2011 Topps Opening Day Autographs #ODA-JG Justin Germano (AU)
There was a "hit" in this box, a sticker autograph of Justin Germano. Don't know much about him, other than he played for a whole slew of teams in nine years, amassing a 10-30 lifetime record.

Ouch.

2011 Topps Opening Day Superstar Celebrations #SC-14 David Wright
Germano's stats pale in comparison to some of the Mets stars, especially David Wright, who was the hit in my 2013 Opening Day box from this same Dave & Adam's order.

Though the Mets came out on the losing end this year, Wright played his part and hit a few over the wall during the Postseason. His cardmate Johan Santana has been plagued by injuries for most of this decade, and it's unclear whether he'll ever be able to make it back to the Majors. Whatever happens to his career, he did earn the distinction of being the only Met to pitch a no-hitter.

He hopes to return in 2016, but I guess we'll have to wait until Opening Day to find out. April 3rd. The clock is ticking.

4 comments:

  1. I've never checked out any of the Opening Day sets but this might just be the year to so do.

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  2. I want to like Opening Day more, but the base set doesn't really differentiate itself from the flagship. The inserts are always pretty cool with mascots, fan photos and such.

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  3. Love those glow-in-the-dark Stadium Lights inserts.

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    1. Wait, those glow in the dark?!? I had no idea!

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