Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Trading Post #64: Waiting 'til Next Year

Tom from Waiting 'til Next Year and I have exchanged cards a few times since last year. As the Cubs #Supertrader, he's certainly kept up his end of the deal, and maybe, just maybe, this is the year for him and his long-suffering fellow fans. The Cubbies are off to a 17-5 start so far, with two of those losses coming against the Rockies at Wrigley.

But you don't come here for Cubs talk. Or maybe you do, in which case you're probably highly disappointed after two years of all this Rockies stuff.

2015 USA Baseball Stars and Stripes Longevity #29 David Dahl
Tom included numerous cards from 2015 Panini Stars & Stripes, a set focused on prospects and minor leaguers. This is a typical modern set, loaded with inserts, relics, autographs, and too many parallels to count, like the card above. A few of the players featured have already made it to the big leagues, like Corey Seager and Michael Conforto, along with lots of Cubbies, such as Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and the out-for-the-season Kyle Schwarber.

This is my first time seeing this unlicensed set, and they're quite a step up from the Team USA cards that popped up in Topps Traded sets every few years. Helton's Rookie Card came on just such a card, along with plenty of other well-known names like Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, Nomar Garciaparra, and Jason Varitek.

I can only hope that David Dahl adds himself to that list in the next decade or so.

2015 USA Baseball Stars and Stripes Fireworks #12 David Dahl
Though it looks like one, this is not actually a parallel. It is from an entirely separate insert set, despite using the same photos as the base card, front and back. We're still months away from Independence Day, but this one would be worth taking out of the binder for the 4th.

2015 Bowman Draft #95 Jack Wynkoop
The Rockies have been around long enough that some of their draft picks weren't even born yet when they began play in 1993. Jack Wynkoop is barely out of college and is pitching with Single-A Asheville right now, so there's not a lot to report on as far as his career yet. But thanks to the Up Close section on the back, I know that he once went surfing in Indonesia and that he likes sushi.

I, too, like sushi.

2013 Bowman Prospects #BP96 Shane Broyles (AU)
Shane Broyles was drafted a few years earlier, and has made it as high as Triple-A. For now, he's pitching for the new Rockies Double-A affiliate, the Hartford Yard Goats.

Here we go Yard Goats, Here we go! [Clap, clap]

2013 Bowman also has an Up Close section, and it turns out that Broyles is a fan of the Breaking Bad TV show. Shades of 1992 Studio, right there. Sounds like I'd get along pretty well with these guys.

One interesting thing about this card is the autograph you might have noticed. This card isn't sporting any type of Topps Certified seal (or a sticker, for that matter), leading me to believe this was signed in person. I don't know whether that was obtained by Tom, but based on the cards he's sending me, he seems to be a bit of a prospector. And I can certainly understand that from a Cubs fan, especially since they might have the strongest farm system in the game.

2008 Topps #402 Taylor Buchholz
It wasn't all prospects, though. A few of these players have played in The Show before. Taylor Buchholz was a member of the pennant-winning 2007 Rockies, and he got one of the best cards in 2008 Topps, featuring a photobomb from the Pirate Parrot mascot. More than any other Rockies card, this is probably the one most frequently featured on non-Rockie blogs. It's a fun card, and Topps had the brilliance to make it the base card instead of some rare photo variation.

2011 Topps Update #US231 Charlie Blackmon (RC)
I don't usually go after Topps Update, which means I often miss out on the major Rookie cards. Charlie Blackmon got his RC in 2011 Update, a bit before he became a regular starter and grew his epic beard. I can't imagine how uncomfortable it must be for him standing out there in the outfield all summer long. Hockey beards I get. But in the summer it can't be much fun.

Maybe one of these years I'll buy some Topps Update at retail. It just seems to find its way into discount boxes so quickly, though I did miss out on Mike Trout's rookie card in 2012 Update. My dealer did offer it to me as part of a complete set, but it was way more than I wanted to spend.

If there's one part of my collection that's a bit lacking, it's rookie cards. I don't have Griffey's from 1989 Upper Deck, nor Trout's, nor Pujols' from 2001 Update. I purchased Helton's Team USA card from 1993 Topps Traded from that same dealer, and I have plenty of RCs from the overproduction days (Thomas, Palmeiro, Weiss, I think Mattingly, and of course Barry Bonds), but it's never been my focus.

2010 Topps #398 Carlos Gonzalez
The Topps base card parade rolls on to 2010, and a shot of Carlos Gonzalez likely celebrating a walkoff hit. He looks quite a bit younger here, but this shot is from seven years ago, a reminder of the ever-increasing perceived speed of passing time. It's also been that long since we've been back to a Topps monopoly, at least on MLB-licensed products.

2013 Topps Heritage #245 Jordan Pacheco
There were a few Heritage cards in here, but this 1964 design stood out. The card looks right, but the surface is more like an Archives card with a smooth matte finish rather than just regular cardboard that is more common on Heritage. Maybe they just did that for 2013 and changed it back for subsequent years, since more recent Heritage cards again use thicker, rougher cardboard than this.

2012 Topps Opening Day Elite Skills #ES-14 Troy Tulowitzki
Tulo seems to be showing up on fewer and fewer cards since the Blue Jays trade, but there are still plenty of them out there. This is from the same insert set as this Ivy and CarGo card, naturally from Opening Day, always a treasure trove of great insert cards. Tulo's tip for fielding a grounder is partially in the posture, but also in using your momentum to assist your throw over to first base. And he's sporting his favorite glove, one he still uses to this day.

1993 Cardtoons #85 Andres Colorado
Last up is this oddball, not of Andres Galarraga, but of "Andres Colorado". This is so unlicensed that it doesn't even have MLBPA approval, so they had to parody all the names. Looking through the checklist is pretty amusing, with names like "Toad Stottlemyre", "Shawon Tungsten", "Frankenthomas", and my personal favorite, "Rambo Canseco". The back of the card has various made-up state facts, like a founding date of 1993, a peak batting average of .392, a state bird of long flies, and the only useful piece of information on the whole card, that it's important to drink lots of water and take rest breaks to avoid being affected by the thin air.

Everyone wanted in on the card industry in 1993, and according to BaseballCardPedia, there was a lengthy court battle around the existence of this set. Cardtoons was probably a bit fed up by this, and they couldn't resist another pun, creating an insert set called Field of Greed, a chronicle of all the labor disputes in baseball history.

As oddballs go, this one is pretty odd. I've never run across it, and I have no idea how scarce it is, but pricing on eBay is nothing out of the ordinary. It reminds me a little of Upper Deck Fun Pack, and I sure got a good laugh out of it!

The existence of oddballs seems to correlate with the health of the industry. And though there was a long dry spell, the rise of Panini and even those Topps cards found only in frozen pizza boxes at Wal-Mart just might be a sign of strength.


  1. Glad you liked the cards. And you're right, I am a bit of a prospector... hard not to be when the team finished in 5th place five consecutive years.