Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Full Bleed Group Break

As is usual for the month of April, the Rockies are looking pretty interesting, at least at the plate.

2014 Bowman Platinum Prospects #BPP83 Trevor Story
You've heard of this guy by now, right? Rookie Trevor Story has been on absolute fire so far this week, hitting four home runs in the opening road series against Arizona, and mashing another two yesterday to give all the Home Opener fans their money's worth. He also managed to hit a single yesterday, the first time he had to actually stop on a base. Unquestionably he'll be the NL Player of the Week (and maybe even Rookie of the Year if he keeps this up), and he's still on pace for some ridiculous number of homers.

And it's not like no one's tried throwing him a curve yet. He's hit some tough pitches from ace hurlers right over the wall. While he has a long way to go to fill Tulowitzki's shoes, pretty much the whole city would rather see him at short than Jose Reyes. And why not, when you can put yourself in the same sentence as Willie Mays before the weekend even arrives?

He doesn't have a mainstream card yet (though Sooz at Topps is trying to squeeze him into 2016 Stadium Club), and I managed to dig up that Bowman card from the unsorted box where all my incoming trades have been going for the past couple of years. No idea who sent it to me, but thank you!

I had to look through close to a thousand cards before I stumbled across that shiny one of Story, so he hasn't quite cracked Topps Base yet. But the guy ahead of him in the lineup has.

2016 Topps Rainbow Foil #93 Charlie Blackmon
About two months ago, Nachos Grande did his annual Topps Series 1 group break. I don't know if he'll be doing it again next year, as he got stuck with a lot of unclaimed teams. But I did pick the Rockies $25 slot, and got a nice stack of my first 2016 cards, though with quite a few duplicates.

Blackmon's beard is as bushy as ever, and I've weighed in on the 2016 design already in my Topps Opening Day post. But while I don't see it going down in history as a legend, it does mark a significant shift in their design. There's no border to be found except for that cloud thing in two corners, and I feel like even that is a bit less pronounced on the Rainbow Foil parallels.

2016 Topps Rainbow Foil #12 Nolan Arenado
Or maybe just on Blackmon's card, since it's pretty apparent here. No doubt that Nolan Arenado is gearing up to throw a runner out at first, probably after making an awesome defensive play! The left side of our infield is a thing of beauty, just as much as the bullpen, well, isn't.

2016 Topps #337 Nolan Arenado / Bryce Harper / Carlos Gonzalez LL
Arenado makes another appearance on this League Leaders card, and yes, two Rockies took the top three spots in NL Home Runs last year. Arenado tied Bryce Harper with 42, though Nolan does get second billing in that tie. That was a lesson I learned young. I remember the Rockies were tied in the standings one morning in one of their early seasons, and my dad pointed out that The Denver Post listed them higher up in the standings than the team they tied with, but San Diego (or whoever we were tied with) probably listed it the other way.

Tie goes to the home city. Or to the player Topps thinks more fans want to see on top. Fair enough, and Harper did go in the first four selections of most Fantasy leagues this year, while Arenado was somewhere in the middle of round two.

2016 Topps #284 Jon Gray (RC)
Any Rockie that gets national attention is probably a position player, but Jon Gray might, just might, be that once-a-decade ace the Rockies tend to develop. Gray experienced a minor strain during spring training, so he hasn't joined the rotation yet, but what the Rockies need, and have pretty much always needed, is a guy who can keep the opposing batters from outscoring the Rockies' potent lineup. Let's be honest, even though Story gave two fans special souvenirs yesterday, they still lost 13-6.

I'm not sure why Gray's stats on the back only list his minor league record for 2015 in Albuquerque (not Colorado Springs anymore!), because Gray did get his call-up in late 2015 and started nine games, including one against the Mets that I witnessed in person. He ended the season 0-2 with a lot of no-decisions.

2016 Topps #87 Jorge De La Rosa
De La Rosa earned a winning record last season, and came away with a no-decision in Monday's season opener. For better or worse, he remains the ace of the Rockies' rotation, at least until Gray or one of the guys they got in the Tulowitzki trade become Major League ready.

1997 Collector's Choice #320 Andres Galarraga
Of course, any time you join a Nachos Grande Group Break, Chris will throw in a few extras from previous sets. This one of Andres Galarraga from 1997 Collector's Choice is an obvious Coors Field card, and probably shows The Big Cat watching a towering home run sail into the left field bleachers. Though our pitching is perennially subpar, we've never hurt for sluggers. And hey, full bleed photography, at least on the front.

This card even contains a Did You Know fun fact, that Vinny Castilla was the first Rockie to start an All-Star Game. I remember that, in 1995. Matt Williams was the elected starter, but couldn't play due to injury. Castilla took the field instead, becoming the answer to a trivia question. Walker, Helton, Tulowitzki, Gonzalez, even Ubaldo Jimenez have been All-Star starters. But none before Vinny.

Interestingly, Galarraga was the first Rockie to appear in an All-Star Game, coming on as a defensive replacement for John Kruk in 1993, and popped up in his only at-bat.

1994 SP #168 David Nied
Though David Nied was the first in a long line of disappointing Rockies pitchers, he still got a copper-heavy Upper Deck SP card, complete with a gold hologram on the back (and a shot of him batting, if anyone wants to track this card down for that purpose). The 1994 league-wide 125th anniversary patch is easily visible on his right sleeve, and we aren't too terribly far off from the 150th anniversary, due in 2019.

Wow, this card is almost 25 years old. And anything lasting 150 years is darn impressive. If baseball can survive all that time, through wars, recessions, gambling scandals, and steroid use, something tells me a couple bat flips aren't going to be a problem.

2014 Stadium Club Triumvirates Luminous #T5A Troy Tulowitzki
And to wrap up, I can now create a complete three-card puzzle of Triumvirates from 2014 Stadium Club! So combine this Tulo card on the left, Masahiro Tanaka's in the middle, and CarGo on the right, you get this bit of awesomeness:

2014 Stadium Club Triumvirates Luminous #T5A Troy Tulowitzki
2014 Stadium Club Triumvirates Luminous #T7B Masahiro Tanaka
2014 Stadium Club Triumvirates Luminous #T6C Carlos Gonzalez
Now that's a good reason to go after an insert set.

Though they're not exactly matched as far as card numbers, they all fit together just fine, and way more solidly than Donruss puzzles. There's a really tight tolerance here, and they fit together so well that they won't blow apart from a gentle breeze. Still, there really isn't much of a theme between the A, B, and C cards in any given grouping, other than maybe the position. The centering on Tanaka's card is slightly off, leading to a little break in the colored lines at the bottom, but that is nitpicking of the highest order.

Now just imagine if the Rockies had a guy like Masahiro Tanaka in their rotation to support all these awesome sluggers we have.

And we'll see if Trevor Story can keep his home run hitting streak alive later today.


  1. That's awesome, I didn't know that you could put any set of three Triumvirates together. For some reason, I thought the cuts were number specific so only the correct combinations fit together. It looks great!

  2. Story might not have made it into a mainstream set - however, at the rate he's going, the entire Topps Now set is going to be all purple. He's already showed up in that promotion 3 times!

    1. As a rookie, I think his performance so far is getting awfully close to "never going to be broken" status. I'll be watching tonight for sure.

  3. Even as a Padres fan... I wanted to see Story hit one out in the bottom of the 9th tonight.